change of lace plans

Thanks for your feedback on which color lining to use with my lace skirt! It was a pretty clear vote for the purple, which is probably the color combination most in line with my style as well, so purple it is!

Lace skirt in progress, purple lining

The process and comments I got from you guys threw me for a loop though. You see, I was planning on using Sewaholic’s newest skirt pattern Rae, which is an easy panelled a-line skirt. I was a pattern-tester for this one, and after making  the test-skirt I thought it would make for a fun skirt in lace. My thought was that a fancier fabric like lace paired with an easy-going silhouette like the Rae skirt and a colorful lining, would dress it down and make for a fun but more casual skirt. I still think I’m right, but what I didn’t fully take into consideration were my own preferences for dressing! The truth is, I don’t really wear that style of skirts. I feel better in straight and fitted silhouettes, and the fuller skirts that I have are panelled and flared rather than gathered.

Anyways, I stood in front of the mirror and lamented how little the purple would be visible if it was hanging freely like I had planned. As I smoothed the fabrics taut across my legs to see how close the lining would need to be to show through, it made a pencil skirt shape, and bam! I should be making a pencil skirt instead! I might have smacked my head at this point, since duh – I wear a whole lot more pencil-shapes in skirts and dresses than I do gathered waists, and it makes sense to make what I would actually buy. So, new plan is to make a pencil skirt instead, and I am far more excited about that, so that’s a good sign.

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Since I’ve already cut the panels, I’ll stick with those – there are six of them; four side pieces, one front, and one back. I’ll need to take the sewn skirt apart though, since I’ll be underlining with the purple polyester, and I’m thinking a wide facing on the inside to work as a waistband. I’m not putting an invisible zipper into lace fabric, so I’m thinking either a lapped zipper on one side or an exposed zipper in the back.

Anyone else change their tactics in the middle of a project? Sometimes I keep going, even though something feels a bit amiss, but it usually results in a garment I end up not wearing much!

hemlock tee

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Fabric: The same rayon jersey from Stoff og Stil as the t-shirt I just made, this time in the color called grey-brown. I think it’s more of a grey-warm-purple, but ok.
Pattern: Hemlock Tee from Jen at Grainline studio.
Techniques: jersey fabric, neck binding, serged seams.

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I’m on a knit fabric sewing binge at the moment, with the t-shirt I just made and this t-shirt, in addition to the two knit hoodies and a ponte dress at the top of my sewing list.

John took pictures for me, and we got some funny shots – like the one above, with a non-existent wind machine and camouflage jeans! Anyways, Hemlock Tee! I made one, like a bunch of other people have. And I’m happy with it, like it seems everyone who makes it also is. It’s a slouchy, relaxed fit, and super easy to make. I think if I make another one I will narrow the neckline opening a little to make it slightly less hyper-casual. I really like what Andrea at four square walls did with her Hemlock Tees, so I might take a cue from those and lower the front neckline and narrow the sleeves.

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I overlocked all the seams on my serger, and finished the hems with a twin needle seam. I’m thinking of getting a coverlock machine this year, which would make these t-shirts even quicker and easier to make, and more professional looking, but for now I’m doing ok with the twin needle. Once you figure out the tension so it doesn’t pull or stretch out the seam, it works well. I tried a slightly different touch on the neckband, which was to straddle the two lines of stitches on either side of the seam, instead of having them both on one side. I’ve seen this on factory-made knitwear, so I wanted to give it a go. Looks good I think!

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Look how smug I am! Is it the t-shirt? Is it the awesome view? Is it the fact that my Easter holiday has begun? In any case, sewing knits is so quick – which makes it so satisfying!

quest for the perfect t-shirt

Lately I’ve been working on a lot of things for other people (ipad case! costumes! John’s socks! A dino-hood!), so my face hasn’t been around here much. I’ll still be sewing for other people a good while longer, since I have a costuming gig at the end of April, and two little nephew-boys I’m making hooded jackets for (tracing Ottobre patterns tomorrow!)


But now for myself, I’ve made the first of what will be a slew of t-shirts – in the quest for the perfect t-shirt! I already had the perfect t-shirt of course, but after years of faithful use, it was falling apart. I finally took a seamripper to it, and used the pieces to trace off  new master pattern pieces. I traced off both left and right sides, averaging out the two.

Fabric: rayon jersey from Stoff og Stil, in a heathered blue.
Pattern: Self-drafted from a beloved old H&M t-shirt.
Techniques: jersey fabric, neck binding, serged seams.

This was quite a quick make! It took me 10 minutes to cut the fabric last night, and since I worked a later shift today I actually managed to sew it up in the morning and wear it to work, yey! How’s that for a productive start to the day? The fabric is a lovely heathered bluish grey, and very soft and drapey. It’s a little more substantial than the original t-shirt, which was almost a whisper thin cotton jersey, so I was a little worried it would drape differently. It’s not too far off though!


And of course, as a first try, there are things to be changed for future versions, which I was anticipating. I’ll be adding a couple of inches to the hem, since the slightly too narrow fit at the hips means the t-shirt rides up a little. The sleeves jut out a little more than I’d like, so I’m thinking of taking out a wedge from the center of the sleeve to narrow it. Ooo, I came across the most wonderful explanation of sleeve cap shapes on a blog, I really recommend this post in particular, and her blog in general if you have any interest in patternmaking and/or fitting. Anyways, that post shows the mechanics behind why I don’t want to narrow the sleeve too much, since the sleeve cap would get taller, and therefore more difficult to sew in flat to the armscye before sewing the side seams in one fell swoop.

perfect_t-shirt1Never mind the scratch – kittens are vicious things! No, not really, just very sharp-clawed.

Enough technical talk! I have a lovely weekend planned with what’s looking like beautiful weather, a pub quiz with colleagues, a school reunion, and a Sunday hike. Anyone else have a nice weekend planned?

a wardrobe peek

I was folding and putting away my clothes the other night, and I was reminded of calling purple a preferred color in my post on the Minoru jacket I just finished (using a purple color, of course). Seeing my clothes all (fairly) neatly hung and piled, I found it funny to see my clothing color preferences so clearly!

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A huge part grey and dusty blues, a fair presence of mustard yellow and yellowy green, and a dash of hot pink. It’s interesting to see that I clearly favor warm purples in the tops that I wear (top left), but I have no sweaters or skirts in that color. Similarly, most greens are found just in the sweater pile (top right), and not much anywhere else.

Anyone else have recurring colors in their wardrobes?

wardrobe thoughts

I came across a wonderful blog last week, and it’s prompted so many thoughts for me on the concept of “wardrobe”, so this is my attempt to put it in writing.

Making our own clothes (whether sewing, re-fashioning, knitting or elsewise) is, I think, partly about the joy of creating something and executing a handcraft, and partly about the freedom to make whatever you want – whichever size or combination thereof, whatever color or pattern you can find (or make, as sallieoh does so well!), whatever silhouette and fit we want. At least for me, the combination of these two factors is why I make (some of) my own clothes.


My first years of sewing or refashioning was based a lot on what I could find of fabrics and clothes to take apart, and very little buying fabric and patterns specifically for an envisioned project – so that has long been my standard mode of operation. I don’t think I really sewed according to any sort of plan. After one of the Me-made-May or Self-Stitched-September’s I’ve participated in, I saw a conversation going on in the blogosphere. People were noticing that the things they had made for themselves didn’t necessarily fit their lifestyle or their style period. I noticed it too. After the first round, I decided that just because “I’ve made something myself doesn’t automatically mean it’s my style. Or, it might no longer fit into my current style.” After the second round, I realized I actually have multiple styles going on: “When I’m going to work, I want to look sharp and polished and put together, with pencil skirts and structured tops, or fitted dresses. When I’m not at work, I gravitate towards flowey, casual, faded, slightly off kilter things. Which is totally fine, except for the days I dressed really casually and picnicy going to work and felt awkward and uncomfortable. I think I just have to accept that work-me wants to dress differently than leisure-me!”

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I usually devour any posts on wardrobe and style since find the topic fascinating and mystifying, and I’m not sure I have a full grasp of what my style is. Which isn’t a big deal! But I would love to feel like my wardrobe is a better curated collection of clothes. I am completely enamoured with Anuschka’s blog – the streamlined imagery, clean look, and of course… the content. Unlike most other posts and blogs I’ve read on wardrobe-how-tos or wardrobe-must-haves, she doesn’t provide rules like that. Instead, she offers tasks and exercises to figure out what your own must-haves are, based on your own preferences and lifestyle. And, she outlines different approaches to putting together outfits, and describes how to use that as a guide to what pieces and how many you’d need in your wardrobe. I love it! It’s an approach that revolves completely around figuring out what works for you, not set formulas or pieces. It’s actually liberating, in a way!

I’m tempted to toss all the contents of my current wardrobe on the floor and only put back a carefully selected collection of garments that of course all go perfectly together. But a wardrobe is always a work in progress, so besides the fact that I don’t own all the things that would be in my dream wardrobe, I’m aiming for an easy-does-it approach – mindful replacing of worn out/ill-fitting/damaged clothes, with a sort of core wardrobe each season and complete permission to also have things in my wardrobe that is for special occasions and rare uses (if I love it, it’s allowed!).

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Intersecting here between wardrobe planning and the ability to make one own’s clothes is of course that you can make the pieces that are missing! I’m now making a dark grey cabled hat as part of getting my winter outerwear wardrobe to a place I’m happy with – which to me means not having a myriad of colorful hats and scarves and mittens that clashes totally with my warm jackets. It doesn’t necessarily mean making big changes to feel put together! Looking through my wardrobe to identify gaps between what I want to dress in and what I have, has made my sewing-to-do-list longer – I’m thinking several pencils skirts, a couple of miniskirts, and definitely some longer sleeve shift-dresses in the next few months. And I have a portrait neckline blouse already cut out, along with another Tiny Pocket Tank. Wait, do I need more of those? Hmm, always!

Anyone else having thoughts about they wardrobe and style? What are your sewing plans for the rest of the year (and into next year!)?

Resources: Wardrobe Building for Beginners: a starter kit from &

pinterest for pattern stash

pinterest_for_pattern_stashYesterday I had an idea I thought was very clever – using pinterest to keep track of my pattern stash! I see on pinterest I’m not the only one to have had this idea, but isn’t it clever?

Often I think I should be better about using patterns I have instead of coveting new ones all the time (I’m looking at you guys, Deer & Doe, Named Clothing Patterns, and Thread Theory). The problem is just that I keep forgetting what I actually have available. I have a folder full of downloaded digital patterns on my computer desktop, but they’re not easily and visually accessible there, so they are out of sight and out of mind. No more though!

I linked to the pattern shops for the indie patterns I have, grabbed the line drawing from BurdaStyle’s website for the many patterns I downloaded before they started charging for nearly everything, and used my phone to take pictures of the vintage patterns I have. Phew – I feel all organized! And, I have many more patterns than I was aware of. That’s the deal with stashes I guess!

outfit: travel wardrobe

imageIt’s funny to notice what I choose to pack for different kinds of trips. For our recent summer vacation on the eastcoast of the US, I knew our casual activities would be sitting in the yard, family time, and trips to the beach. So I packed breezy skirts, easy dresses and simple tops.

This trip to Ireland is much more city-dominated, the weather is cooler, and attending a wedding a lot less casual. Even though these trips were just a couple of weeks apart, I ended up packing totally different for this Ireland-trip, being drawn to muted colors and pencil skirts, pumps and tops and dresses with interesting detail. And a fancy evening gown of course, but we’ll get to that!

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