Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pajamas two ways

Recently I went on a weekend away with some girlfriends. We were sharing a hotel room, so of course fancy pajamas were in order. I wanted traditional piped pjs, and went with Butterick 6296, a Lisette pattern for Misses' Button-Down Tops, Elastic-Waist Shorts and Pants.
Pattern image courtesy of Butterick Patterns

The nighttime version
I chose some pretty grey cabbage rose print fabric from Mood got to work. I didn't make a muslin, but I *did* compare them to pajamas that I already owned as I was sewing them up. This ended up being a good thing, because the legs on the pajama bottoms are very long and needed to be shortened quite a bit (If you make these, measure those babies before sewing the cuffs on!).

I finished my new pjs and wore them to my girls weekend and loved them sooo much- I wished that I could wear them all day long, especially the top! When I got home, I knew what my next project would be- a daywear version of the pajama top.

The daytime version
I used the same pattern to make the daywear version- the slouchy comfy look suits my lifestyle. I chose a lightweight silk for the body, and silk crepe for the piping... have you ever made bias cut flat silk piping? If you have not, count yourself lucky- it presented a multitude of time consuming issues from slipperiness to instability, and was difficult to get onto the top in a respectable manner.
My process for the bias piping ended being as follows:
  1. Cut the strips on the bias, wider than you need them to be.
  2. Fold and press the strips in half, and then trim to your needed width
  3. Mark your seam line on the folded silk. You must use chalk for this, as a marker bleeds terribly and makes your seam line indistinguishable
  4. Baste bias strips in place by hand
  5. sew strips in place one one piece of fabric with sewing machine 
  6. Place other fabric piece on top, pin very securely in place, flip over and sew on top of initial seam line
Even using this process, I had a few bad spots! In the future I would probably hand baste the folded strips before attaching them to anything, just to keep them folded well.

A few other notes about this project- 
Instead of using traditional interfacing, I used flesh-toned silk crepe. I was convinced that if I used white or off-white interfacing it would be very obvious because the silk was very slightly sheer- although in hindsight I doubt that would be the case, it worked out fine and the interfacing is definitely not obvious.

I stabilized the button holes with tear-away stabilizer- even with two layers of silk and on elf silk crepe interfacing, I felt that they needed some support. It was my first time using tear-away stabilizer, and I am hooked!

Styling a pajama top for the daytime...

I see women on the internet and in magazines wearing full on pajama sets out in public; while I love this look, that isn't my life. I chose to style my pajama top with shorts, flip flops and a simple black fold-over clutch. The top is a little dressy, so I like to balance that out for every-day wear with some casual-ness. I think this would make a great out-to-dinner look with soft slouchy wide-leg pants as well.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket, without bias trim

When I saw Grainline Studio's Tamarack Jacket pattern, I though it would be perfect for Spring in the San Francisco Bay area. And since Spring really starts here in about mid-January, there would be no waiting to wear it!

I chose a wonderful border print floral cotton poplin from Mood for the jacket.  I have been wanting a border-print floral jacket for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity!  Because the print ran lengthwise on the fabric, I knew that I wouldn't be able to follow the recommended cutting layout. Consequently, I bought a lot of extra fabric--the pattern calls for 3 yards, and I bought 5.5 yards--but it turned out to be just enough. I had lots left over due to the fabric width, but very little of the border itself.

Once I read the directions for sewing up the jacket, I realized that I had created a small issue for myself in that the jacket is made with a bias trim edging, which in this case would disrupt the lovely pattern on the fabric. Therefore, I decided to make it without the bias trim, and I am outlining my process below in case anyone else out there wants to do the same thing.

The details 
After some experimentation I decided to make three quilted “pillow” pieces- the two arms and the body sewn around the edges and turned with the quilt batting inside them (like a pillow!), quilt, and then assemble the quilted pieces into the jacket and add the pockets. 

Seams and cutting 
The first step in making my "pillow" pieces was to add seam allowance to the pattern pieces where bias tape was originally to go.  Once I had done this, I cut out the fashion fabric, and then cut the batting pieces larger than the fashion fabric pieces- that made it easier to baste them together. I also found that pressing the batting and the fashion fabric pieces together with an iron made them stick together a little, and made the basting go more smoothly.

First I basted the batting to interior sleeve piece. Then, I placed the exterior sleeve piece on top of the interior piece with right sides together, and stitched the seam at bottom of sleeve with a half-inch seam allowance. I then pressed the seam to the interior piece side, and under stitched it so that I would have a nice clean finish. Next, I sewed the remaining seams with a quarter inch seam, leaving an opening to turn.  Then I trimmed and graded the batting to my basting line and graded all seams, clipping where necessary. Finally, I turned the piece to the right side, pressed, and stitched shut the opening that I used for turning.

Again, first I basted the batting to the interior body pieces. Next, I sewed the interior shell together at the sides, using a half-inch seam allowance and leaving an opening in one of the seams for turning once the body had been assembled. Then I sewed the exterior shell together in the same way, but with no opening for turning, and pressed all of my seams open.

To complete the body "pillow," I laid the exterior body over interior body, with right sides together. One section at a time, I stitched:
The back neck, with a half-inch seam
The armscyes, with a quarter-inch seam
The front neck, with a half-inch seam
The front opening, with a half-inch seam
The body bottom, with a half-inch seam, being careful to match up the side seams.

Then I turned the entire piece through the opening in the interior side seam, being careful to get nice corners (I used a point turner) and pressed the piece. Finally, I stitched the opening used for turning shut.

At this point, I marked my jacket pieces for quilting, as I thought it would be easiest to do it prior to seaming the shoulders, while the jacket could lay flat. I followed the following the pattern instructions to mark it.

I pinned the exterior shoulder pieces together with right sides facing, and sewed them using a half-inch seam. They were a bit fiddly- I found it easiest to open each shoulder up into a “tube.”  After sewing, I pressed them open and trimmed the batting away from the interior pieces at shoulder seam, and pressed that seam under by half an inch.  I then basted interior shoulder seams closed, leaving me with a finished but not-yet-quilted body with no sleeves.

At this point my pieces were all completed and ready for quilting, and I quilted per pattern instructions.

Attach arms
Once the quilting was done I attached the arms following the pattern directions, but using a quarter-inch seam.  I sewed around twice because the pieces were sort of thick.

After the sleeves were attached, I simply followed the instructions for the pockets.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cape coat for Autumn

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and in particular, I love all of the clothes that go with it that we miss so much all summer. 

This project combined two of my favorites, sweaters & outerwear, into a pretty and practical cape coat.

I used pattern Kwik Sew 4031, but modified it a bit by removing some of the overlap in the front because I didn’t have quite enough fabric to make it as shown.  I worried quite a bit about this, but as you can see it ended up being a non-issue. 

The fabric is a luxurious Missoni sweater knit from Michael Levine, Inc. in Los Angeles. This is not the recommended fabric type-- the pattern calls for a woven or substantial knit- this is a bit stretchy-- but it worked just fine. 

Since the fabric is so lovely, I decided to splurge on the trim and use leather tape from MJ Trimming- the application required a great deal of care (there is no going back with leather!) but it came out nicely. The leather tape is quite nice as well- very soft and flexible, and the seams are glued rather than sewn, making them nearly invisible.

Another change I made to the pattern was to bind the shoulder seams and tape the neck seams, both to keep them from stretching out of shape and to make the whole thing as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside.

The closure is very clever- it is attached by screws.  I like this concept because I can change it if I want, but the screws are really a bit long to be practical; I had to pad them on the back to make the closure lay against the fabric on the front.  In the future (once I have lived with it for a while) I may attach the closure permanently to the coat with rivets and caps- we’ll see.

Now if only the temperatures would dip below 70!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September 15 is Make A Hat Day! Or not.

Did you know that today is Make A Hat Day?  Well it is!

In honor of Make A Hat Day and Autumn (which is hopefully almost here in the San Francisco Bay area where it has been between 80 and 106 degrees lately) I decided to break out the fall fabrics and make a hat.

After spending a little time at Joann's Fabrics perusing the pattern books (did you know that Burda has patterns for lederhosen in the men's section of their catalog?) I decided that Vogue 9044 "Patricia Underwood Hats" was the way to go-it has five nice style options, and I went with View A, in the upper right.

I decided to use some vintage Linton Tweed for my project- I have been dying to sew some of it up into something- I thought a hat would be the perfect small project to give it a whirl.

Things did not go as planned. 
Excuse the bad photo- it was both late and dark!

I am sorry Vogue patterns (you know I love you!), but this pattern is NOT graded well.  

Every size, from XS to L, is the same height- it gets wider as it gets bigger, but no taller. This means that my hat ended up being 5 inches from top to bottom (which, according to the photo should land just above my ears), while my head from the top to just above my ear is 7 inches. 

The photo above shows how short it is even before I stitched on the inner band that goes around the bottom- this is a half inch seam, so the final hat would have been even shorter. Does the nice lady in the pattern photo have a really tiny head?

Here is where it ended up.  :-(

P.S.- the pattern includes four other hats that may potentially be lovely and fit perfectly.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Labor Day Sale Roundup!

Labor Day sale notices started rolling into my in box this morning, so I thought I would round them up here! 

Mood - 15% off Suiting, today (Friday Sept 4) only, online only
Michael Levine - 20% off entire site, Friday only Extended to Monday! (ends at 9pm PST) with coupon code LABOR2015 - up to 30% off on selected fabrics
New York Fashion Center Fabrics - Save 20% on everything with code LABORDAY20
Elliott Berman Textiles - Sept 5-8. save 20% with code LDAY20
Gorgeous Fabrics end of summer sale - save 20-60% off on almost everything through labor day!

The Sewing Place - 15% off site-wide through Monday 9/7

Craftsy - Up to 50% off classes and supplies

Simplicity Patterns - markdowns on all out-of-print patterns
McCall Pattern Company - Sept 4-8, all McCallButterick & Kwik Sew patterns are $3.99 and Vogue patterns are $5.99
Burda Style - 50% off on select patterns

Did I miss any?  If you know of a Labor Day sewing sale that I didn't include, leave a comment and I will add it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Patterns from Named Clothing!

In case you haven't heard, Named Clothing's new fall line of patterns is out! Called "New Black," Named describes it as a back-to-basic collection of wardrobe staples, with a modern urban edge.

Images from Named's web site,

I am a sucker for outerwear, so my favorite is the Harriet Lumberjacket (which I plan to make).  I also like the Lexi A-Line top- I love the clean lines and think it would look great with wide-leg trousers (which I have been obsessed with since last fall). I am not so sure about the Mimosa Culottes... I wore culottes--then called "gauchos"--in about fourth grade, so I think I am ruined for life on them.

I love Named's style- I am not a frilly person, so I really enjoy their simple clean designs.  This past spring I sewed three Inari Tee Dresses from their "SS15 Ticket" collection, and before that I made their Mai Zip Jacket (FW14 - Ritual Collection) and I absolutely adore it!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Blue Cropped Jacket

For some unexplainable reason, I absolutely love coating fabric.

On a recent trip to my sort-of-local fabric store (Britex, in San Francisco), I found a small remnant of lovely light-blue cashmere. I bought it because it was so pretty and soft, but for a while I couldn’t think what to do with it- it definitely wasn’t big enough to make an actual coat.

Then a sewing friend and I got to chatting about cropped jackets and how much we love them, and it occurred to me that a cropped jacket would be the perfect way to use the fabric. The 1 & 1/8 yards that I had to work with was plenty for a tiny jacket, and even had enough room for little design flexibility.

I designed this using the pattern from my lace top as a sloper. I decided to go very cropped and short sleeved with the intention of wearing it over the long blouse. Because I didn’t want the button-line on the jacket front to match the button line on the blouse, I made it double-breasted. In the end I had quite a bit of fabric left over!

The outer shell is, of course, the cashmere coating, and the lining is a pretty silk charmeuse from Thai Silks in Los Altos, CA.

I had planned to make button holes (foolish girl!), but making button holes through two layers of coating doesn't really work. I moved on to covered snaps, but they looked messy ... in the end, I was thrilled to find gold snaps at Pacific Trimming- they look planned and just a little bit fancy. 

And can I just take a moment to say how much I love the Britex fourth-floor remnants department?  (and, BTW, they have a remnants contest going on now if you live nearby) Britex is chock-full of absolutely gorgeous fabrics, and their remnants are gorgeous too (of course). I always find something interesting when I go there, and it always inspires me to make a great project… in my future courtesy of Britex fourth floor- a black car coat made out of alpaca faux fur that reminds me of a Steiff teddy bear.