2018 Making Goals

Two blog posts in such a short time period! Don’t worry, I’ll go back to neglecting this blog again soon. But first I want to talk about my #2018makenine plans and general sewing goals for the year. I did very well with my #2017makenine goals and I think that had a lot to do with focusing my goals on staples that I knew I would grab for, or look forward to grabbing, in my everyday life. My job at Gather Here really encourages me to wear handmade because I’m around other makers. And fortunately my “uniform” of jeans, tees, button-ups, and cardigans are perfect for the store and have become some of my favorite things to make.

I have again focused my sewing goals for the year on items that I know will get a lot of wear, and that I will enjoy making. There are repeats from last year because I am much more interested in making things that I will wear than in trying new patterns just to say that I did.

The nine patterns below may or may not be the exact patterns that I use. I’m using them more as guidelines for the types of garments that I want to make and in some cases they represent the desire to make a number of that garment using a couple different patterns.

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First up are the Chi-town Chinos from Alina Design Co. These are the only item on my 2017 Make Nine that I didn’t get to. That was mostly a matter of running out of time so these are back on the list. I also hope to make the Sasha Trousers from Closet Case Patterns. I have four or five twills that will make great non-jean pants and I hope to work through those fabrics with these two patterns.

The Archer Button Up was on my 2017 list and was made twice, but that’s not nearly enough button up shirts for me! I have a whole pile of plaids that I’m itching to sew into Archers. I also want to experiment with lengthening the Archer into a dress, making a slightly more relaxed dress than the Alder.

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Next on the list is a tailored coat using some lovely wool/cashmere coating that I bought a few weeks ago. I really like the look of the Clare Coat from Closet Case Patterns but I’m leaving the pattern choice open for now. I’m not expecting to finish this one in time to be used for this winter so I’ll have lots of time to finalize pattern choice.

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I made lots of tees and tanks last year but I’m hoping to add to that collection this year. I wear one either on it’s on or as a layer almost every day and I would love to replace the last of the RTW tees that I wear. The Grainline Lark Tee is on the list as is the Penny Raglan, the Closet Case Patterns Ebony Tee, and the Deer and Doe Plantain Tee. I’ve been stocking up on nice jerseys and I’m looking forward to batch-sewing tees and tanks a few times this year.

The Lodo Dress from True Bias has been in the back of my mind to make for quite a while but I’ve never gotten around to it. I’m hoping this will be the year! I’m looking to add a couple knit dresses out of slightly heavier weight knits as winter layering pieces and the Lodo should be perfect for that!

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I made three versions of the Kalle Shirt and Dress last year and I can’t wait to own so many more of them!! The black linen one that I made for my birthday party is one of my favorite garments ever and I’m looking forward to several more linen shirtdresses next summer. I’m also thinking about a flannel one for this winter! And more shirt versions! And I’m planning to try out the sleeve expansion pack soon. (Can you tell this might be my favorite pattern?) I also want to finally make a Grainline Alder Shirtdress this year and possibly an Alder shortened to be shirt length.

I’m really hoping that I can add another piece of outerwear to my closet soon. I find it so frustrating to get dressed in all of these lovely handmades just to toss a RTW jacket on top. Though I added two jackets to my closet in 2017 neither is particularly warm so once the temps fell below 40 degrees they got packed up for the year. I’ve made the Grainline Tamarack Jacket before but I’m hoping to make a warmer version in time to get some use this winter. I have some waxed canvas, Thinsulate for interlining, and a thick flannel. This may end up being a somewhat tricky project because of the layers but I think it will extend my handmade outerwear season! I’m hoping to lengthen it a few inches and I will add a collar like I did the first time I made this jacket.

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I made three Blackwood Cardigans from Helen’s Closet last year but I hope to add a few more this year. They work very well with button-ups and jeans for work or with leggings and tees for lounging. The Grainline Driftless Cardigan will also get made again in 2018. Cardigans are nearly an everyday item for me during the winter and I’m looking forward to having a few more to choose from this year!

And last but most certainly not least is more jeans!! I hope the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans and Morgan Jeans will both reappear a number of times this year. I have quite a bit of denim in my stash and I hope to batch sew jeans a couple times so that I can stop switching between just two pairs all winter! I’ve been pretty happy with the high-waist Gingers so I will make those but also plan to make some of the lower-rise Gingers in addition to Morgan Jeans.

It’s going to be a busy sewing year but I hope it will continue to feel fulfilling to sew my own clothing. I’m hoping to do some purging of the remaining RTW clothing that is lurking, mostly unworn, in my closet and bureau. It has felt so great to be able to wear handmade almost exclusively and I look forward to continuing with that trend in 2018!

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2017 Sewing Wrap-Up

One of my goals for 2018 is to blog more, which shouldn’t be too hard since I only blogged once last year…oops. I don’t think I’m going to be a weekly blogger, or that I will even write a post for every project that I finish but I’m aiming for a post every month.

I’m going to start with a wrap-up of the projects I worked on last year.

By a quick count I made 55 garments last year. I think I’m probably missing a few but even with 55 that means I’m averaging about a garment a week!! I love the graphs that lots of makers have been posting so here’s the breakdown:Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.51.48 PM

Lots of pants and shorts, lots of woven tops, and at least 17 knit tees and tanks! I’m very excited about the amount of clothing that I made last year and the fact that it’s allowed me to be wearing almost exclusively handmade most days. That’s a goal that I’m continuing to work toward this year.

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My #2017makenine goals included a Grainline Archer, Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans, Style Arc Blaire Shirt, Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater, CCP Kelly Anorak, Grainline Lark Tee, Alina Design Co. Chi-town Chinos, Grainline Hemlock, and CCP Sophie Swimsuit. I made 8 of those 9 patterns, some more than once! The Chi-town Chinos are the only pattern on that list that I did not make and that was simply because they didn’t make it to the top of the list until November when I was feeling the crunch with work and school. They will hopefully be made, at least once, in 2018.

The Ginger Jeans, my Kelly Anorak, and the purple plaid Archer are among my very favorite makes of 2017. Also on the list of favorite makes are my linen Kalle Shirtdress from CCP, my Allie Olson Highlands Wrap-dress, and my Alina Design Co. Hampton Jean Jacket.

2017 felt like an evolution of my sewing focus from frosting to cake. I made a number of fun, event-focused items but I focused primarily on sewing well-fitting basics that get worn all the time. I hope to continue that focus in 2018, building a larger and more diverse collection of basics so that wearing handmade daily stays possible and fun!

Me Made May Round-Up Part Two

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I’m feeling very proud of how well I did with Me Made May. I had two goals when I signed up, the more measurable goal was to wear a minimum of three me-mades each week. I achieved this goal easily, and then some!

I wore handmade clothing 27 out of 31 days (I didn’t get photographs on two of those). At least two of those four days that I didn’t wear something handmade I also just didn’t get dressed. I’m a lazy Sunday sort of person! I guess this just means I need some me made pajamas!! There were six garments that were repeated at least once but even with those repeats I managed to wear 20 unique handmade garments in May!

Here are links for all of the garments that I’ve written posts about:

My other, less quantifiable, goal for Me Made May participation was to use the experience of trying to wear me-made for the month to clarify my sewing aspirations. I don’t have any enormous revelations here but I’ve certainly learned lots from the experience.

The first lesson is one I was expecting, and probably one that many of us have learned over and over again. DRESSES ARE FUN TO MAKE, BUT IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WEAR ONE TO WORK EVERY DAY IT’S TIME TO STOP MAKING THEM!!

What is it about dresses? Sure they’re less work than making pants and a blazer but they’re not an insubstantial amount of work. Why are they so captivating? I’m a nanny so technically I can wear whatever I want to work but of course the goal is that I’m comfortable, not worried that anything that happens to my clothing is going to permanently harm it, and most of all that I can run after a three and a half year old in it. This doesn’t rule out dresses for me entirely but generally I need to stick with things that are really washable, roomy, and long enough that I can bend over easily. I have some dresses that fit the bill but for the most part separates just work better. I don’t need to swear off making dresses but should focus more attention on separates that I can wear day to day. Those are the things that I wore the most during May.

The second lesson, and one that I’m still learning, is that it’s ok if I don’t want to sew certain things, it’s ok if I like my Gap tanks and tees. I’m still in the process of figuring out which basics and wardrobe staples I want to spend time sewing and which I don’t. I’m really excited about the pair of jeans I made and I’m looking forward to making more of them. But I don’t want to make long sleeve t-shirts or knit tanks in basic colors. Making super basic items in the same fabrics I can purchase RTW items, not my cup of tea! I know it is for some people and I’m not swearing off making these things. If it’s what I or someone else really wants to make there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But sewing is an escape for me and deciding that I “should” be making basic tees when I could buy them (likely for less than the cost of the fabric I’d need to make them) takes away from sewing as a soothing activity for me.

My third lesson is really less of a lesson and more of a puzzle that I’m still trying to figure out. That puzzle is all about how I make my sewing plans, stick to them, and get through some of my massive stash of fabric. About six weeks ago I posted here about my summer sewing plans. It included eight garments in May, five garments and a bag in June and six garments in July. I actually sewed quite a bit in May. I made, from start to finish, six garments as well as working on but not yet completing three others. That’s a really productive month for me but unfortunately only one of my finished garments and one of in progress garments were on my list. I’m really happy with the garments I have made but there are also several things on my list for May that I was excited about and would still really like to make.

I think this means that I need to come up with a better system for planning. While I like the idea of having a long list of projects I’d like to get to at some point having three months of sewing all planned out has felt limiting. One thing that I can find a bit overwhelming about the online sewing community is that there are so many patterns coming out all the time and sometimes I just want to jump on the bandwagon and kiss my plans goodbye.

One idea that’s resurfaced several times as this topic has been percolating in my brain is to try to focus myself on really mini collections, the sort that would be perfect for a weekend getaway. I have several shorter trips planned in the next several months and focusing myself on three or four items to make for each of those instead of trying to have one massive plan for a whole season’s wardrobe seems easier. I’ll be back later this week to tell you about my first mini collection.

So there are my Me Made May thoughts. How did Me Made May go if you were participating? Do you plan out large numbers of projects or just sew whatever is on your mind?

-Hannah

Me Made May Round-Up Part One

Sorry for the radio silence around here recently, it’s been a crazy couple weeks finishing up the semester and supporting Mr Match with grad school milestones. Any available time I’ve had I’ve spent sewing and not updating the bloggity blog.

Here’s an update on how Me Made May is going. This is the first time I’ve participated and I’ve done better than I was planning wearing my me-mades. I’ve worn something handmade 15 out of 18 days though I’m missing one picture.

I’ve been learning very quickly, perhaps relearning because let’s be honest I knew all of this already, which items get the most use in my wardrobe. As much as I love making nice dresses, and as much as I enjoy wearing them, I don’t have as many occasions to wear them as I do dresses I want to make.

What I do go to every day is easy to wear shirts, jeans, and cardigans. My Ginger Jeans have been getting lots of wear, as have my tees and tanks. My more casual dresses have gotten some wear and I certainly want to make more Marianne dresses and Eucalypt dresses.

I think the even more important lesson I’m learning is about fabric choice and wardrobe planning. I’ve got a lot of great prints that had been part of my summer sewing plans but I’m realizing that I may want to rethink some of the those plans, simply based on what I am and am not pulling out of my closet and drawers.

I am hitting the point where I’m going to need to start repeating some things. I’ve still got a few items I haven’t worn though and a few items that I’m working on right now. I’d also been planning on making some Jamie Jeans during the sewalong over on Indie Sew. School work prevented me from participating in the sewalong but I’m looking forward to adding another pair of jeans to my wardrobe.

I’m also prioritizing sewing more tanks and tees. I’ve got a bunch of different patterns I want to try out which will hopefully help me pick out a couple patterns that will become TNTs. So far Me Made May has been a great learning experience and I’m loving getting to show off my handmade clothing a lot more frequently.

Here are links for all of the garments that I’ve written posts about:

I’ll be back in a couple days to show off some of the things I’ve been working on recently. Now that school’s over for the summer I’ve got a lot more time to work on sewing projects. Hopefully I’ll have some great wardrobe additions for the second half of Me Made May. If you’re participating in Me Made May, how’s it going?

-Hannah

Ginger Jeans!!

(Caution: What follows can only be described as full on gloating, unabashed pride, and a complete lack of modesty when it comes to any compliments. I apologize in advance but I am just so stinking proud. Have you seen these things? They’re badass.)

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Well hot diggity dog! Or as the beloved namer of the blog would say, “Hot dog, hot dog, hot dog, diggiyah dog!”

I made jeans!

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Not just that…I made wearable jeans!!

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I’d like to take some of the credit and say that perhaps I’m a better seamstress than I thought but I think mostly Heather just wrote a really amazing pattern because these turned out so well. It took me a long time to actually get started on my Ginger Jeans because I was so worried about how they were going to turn out. It’s been five weeks since I made my (successful) muslin and three weeks since I got everything cut out and prepped.

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Do you ever have that happen to you with a sewing project? You’ve read the pattern, cut out the fabric, you’re really excited about the idea of the finished product. But you’re just not sure your technical ability is up to the task? My biggest concern was how my topstitching and finishing skills would hold up on the denim. The places on my previous makes where I’ve been the least impressed with my skills have been topstitching and finishing in particularly bulky areas. I was also worried about fit, of course. Other than a couple pairs of Hudson Pants made around Christmas time last year, I’ve never made pants so I was anxious about how well they’d fit, even though I made a muslin.

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Heather nailed this pattern though, and that’s evident not just from how well I think my jeans  came out, but also from the enormous number of glowing reviews of this pattern and the number of fantastic Ginger-clad butt selfies running around on Instagram.

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All in all, I was surprised by how easily these came together. I’d made a full muslin version several weeks ago, I’m pretty  sure the only things I skipped were some topstitching and the hem, so it was basically my second time putting them together. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it went. Probably 15-20 hours over the course of 3 days. Maybe that’s a long time, but I’m trying to get myself to slow down and do everything well. And I think it shows. (See above caution about lack of modesty.)

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I think I have to give all of the credit for my good topstitching to my Jean-a-ma-jig which I used whenever I was stitching over other seams. You just place it under the back of your presser foot as you’re coming up to a particularly bulky area and it helps you maintain an even stitch length as you make your way across the bulk. I also used a little makeshift one that was just a folded over square of denim. I used that for the start of topstitched seams where I was just going to be sewing on a couple layers of denim. It helped me get a nice even start.

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I don’t think there’s much to say about fit that I haven’t already mentioned here. When I decided to make these I knew that I wanted the lower waist of one version with the skinny legs of the other. I couldn’t begin to explain why I thought that it made sense to try to skinny out the legs of the lower waist version instead of just lowering the waist of the skinny version. But that’s what I’d decided to do. In my muslin I took out 3/4 of an inch on the side seam and inseam of each front and back leg. This result in having to cut my muslin at the knees because they were SO tight in the calves. When I cut out my denim, I added back 1/2 an inch to the side seams and inseam. Then I basted those seams to check fit.

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I could certainly have left them the way they were, but I really did want skinnier legs so I took out 1/8 of an inch on the side and inseams when I sewed those seams permanently. I could probably have gotten away with more, but I think they look good. Next time around, and believe me there will be a next time, I will try lowering the waist on the skinny version instead of messing with the leg width.

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There are a couple other places I will want to focus on next time. I think I could still take out a tiny bit more length. Probably just another 1/2 inch at the knees. They’re also feeling a bit big from the crotch up. I think they’ve stretched at bit, which makes sense, it’s stretch denim, and I might even be able to get away with a smaller size. If I stick with the same size next time I’ll need to take a chunk out at the center back seam and take out some extra fabric around the crotch too.

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Other than the tweaks I’ve mentioned I sewed these up just as the pattern calls for. I was expecting to find the switching back and forth between regular thread and topstitching thread to really drive me nuts but it wasn’t that bad. I did my best to break some of the construction sequence rules so that I was doing everything I could with whatever thread I had in the machine before switching. Other than that they were sewn up as prescribed.

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My one and only frustration with these was the rivets and button. I’d picked up the jeans notions kit from Thread Theory because Heather recommended it in her supply round up. I was happy with the zipper, and the rivets were okay, but the button in that kit and I are not friends. I think the problem is actually with the pin that you hammer into the button. I’ve done some research on this in the last few days and many of the other buttons I’ve found come with pins that have several ridges on them that catch inside the button to secure it. The pins that come with the kit only have one, very slight ridge on them. The result was trying both of the buttons from both of the kits I’d bought and neither of them working. The first one seemed to catch but then pulled off and bent when we tried to get it back on. The second one just never caught. I went ahead and bought new buttons from Pacific Trimming. They got here very quickly, and went on easily.

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Other than the button nonsense, these were such a fun and satisfying make. If you’d told me even six months ago that I would make jeans and there would be no crying involved I would’ve told you to cut the crap. I know that my sewing has improved a lot in the last year but there’s something about finishing these jeans that makes me feel able to try anything!

I can’t wait to wear these all over the place and start planning some new pairs too. I’m thinking they probably need to happen in corduroy this fall. What do you think?

Details:

Pattern: Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

Fabric: Theory Denim from Mood Fabrics

-Hannah

Current WIPs

I’ve shown off several of my most recently completed projects. I thought I’d show you my last two spring sewing works in progress before I start on a post about my summer sewing plans.

My first update is that my Ginger jeans are cut out and waiting for me to get started on them.

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I was really good and spent a lot of time carefully tracing each piece, adding tailor’s tacks and clipping notches. I’m really trying to get better about slowing down my preparation for sewing. I know everyone says that preparation time is make it or break it time in terms of how successfully a garment will come together. I have not been so good in the past about slowing down and really getting things right the first time. I’m getting better though. And I’m noticing an improvement in my garments as a result.

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As I said in a previous post, the size eight muslin I made fit very well in the waist and hips but I’d taken out too much width in the legs. I’m making a combined version with a low waist and skinny legs and of course did it the hard way. So I added back half an inch on each side of both the back and front pieces. This means I’ve taken off a quarter inch. I’m going to baste the side and inseams and then we’ll see how they fit. I’m anticipating wanting to take them in a bit.

The other work in progress is a modified Archer. I’m making it a “popover” or half buttondown with a mandarin collar. I was planning to use some tutorials and try to draft my own placket. But then I realized I could just use the placket piece from the Carme blouse pattern I just purchased. I haven’t made that pattern yet, and maybe it’s dumb to sub in a pattern piece I haven’t used. I have been thinking about this project as a wearable muslin though so hopefully it’ll work well enough to satisfy that goal.

I was getting along really well with the shirt while we were in Vermont last weekend. I got the back yokes attached.

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And got the front pocket on.

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And then I promptly sewed the placket on incorrectly and didn’t realized that until I had slashed it. So my next step is to get the placket recut and see if I can unpick the one that’s on there but leave the front in good enough condition to sew on a new one. If not, that’s ok. I’ve got enough fabric to cut a new front. And it really didn’t take that long. I just feel silly.

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After sewing the placket incorrectly I needed to work on a different part of the shirt until I was home and had access to my remaining fabric. So I got the sleeve plackets sewn on and basted the pleats.

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I’d never made plackets this way before. The first one didn’t turn out great but the second one was definitely better. The only other time I’ve done sleeve plackets were on the Negroni shirts I made for Christmas presents and those are done differently, the way the Carme placket is done.

As I’m typing this I’m realizing that it may look weird to have two different types of plackets on the same garment. Perhaps I should do a larger version of the sleeve plackets on the neckline. That’ll also be much easier to sew with the slash I’ve already made. Alright, new game plan, awesome!!

There’s one other project that had been on my spring sewing list and that’s my Minoru jacket. I’ve been planning a lot of modifications to that pattern and at first had been holding off on starting it because I wanted to do some more research on how to manipulate the neckline gathers. And now that spring has finally arrived, hopefully I didn’t just jinx it, I’m having a hell of a time imagining myself working on a coat. I’m still excited about the pattern, the fabric, and the plans I’ve made so I’m not dropping this project at all. I just have too many fun plans for summer sewing to spend my time on a jacket right now. I think my new plan is to work on it bit by bit with the end goal being to have it ready to go for the fall.

Be back soon with some more finished garments!

-Hannah

SSW Updates

I mentioned before that I was calling last week Selfish Sewing Week because I was on spring break and had a bunch more time to sew. I didn’t get quite as much done as I was hoping to but I made some pretty awesome progress on a few things.

The big accomplishment last week was that I got a muslin made of my Ginger Jeans. I’d been trying to figure out a mash up of the two versions, a lower waist with skinny legs. I think I’ve managed to try to do this the harder way by slimming out the legs on the version with the lower waist instead of lowering the waist on the version with the skinny legs. I made some pattern alterations ten days ago and then on Thursday I got it stitched up. I’d ended up taking off 3/4 of an inch on both sides of the leg, front and back, grading out to nothing a couple inches above the knee. I also took out two inches of length at the knee. I’d been sort of worried that the pattern pieces as I’d cut them out, in a size 8, just looked way too big. Fortunately I was pretty happy with my muslin.

I’d decided to make a real muslin instead of just basting together my real denim because other than my Hudson pants I’ve never made pants before. As I was trying to make a number of alterations, in ways that I’ve never done before, it seemed like it made sense to put in the small amount of time to do a muslin.

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I discovered that I most certainly took out too much width on the legs. I tried to hard to get that muslin on but couldn’t get it pulled up all the way. I looked pretty ridiculous trying to make that happen. I ended up just chopping off the pants at the knees and was able to get them on and get them all the way up. And guess what??

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They fit!! I’m going to add 3/8 of an inch back into the legs when I cut my denim. I’ll baste them though since I don’t know how the stretch in the denim will work itself out. I can’t wait to start working on these.

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I also made a muslin of the Felicity Dress bodice. I was a little concerned when I read that she drafts for a D cup, which I most certainly am not. But I think because the bodice has gathers instead of darts it works pretty well.

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I also finished off clipping threads and such on my Sutton Blouse and got the pleats hand-basted on my Natalie top. Hopefully I can finish Natalie off soon and it’ll be warm enough that I can take photos of those.

Finally, I got a quick make cut out over the weekend. I fell hard and fast for this reversible sweater knit at Joann’s last week. It’s not made of synthetics!! Rayon and cotton all the way. I’m cooking up something awesome, you’ll have to check back later to see how it worked out.

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Hoping to get a muslin for Minoru started soon. And I’ve got a couple small quilting things to finish up. Busy busy busy around here.

-Hannah