Create the Perfect Fit Review (Plus a Pattern Giveaway!)

Hello, lovely people!

Today, is a rather historic day here on B&W, for today I am hosting my very first giveaway and my very first official book review.

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I got to know Joi a little over the summer when she took the time to respond to a post I’d written about a couple of Craftsy classes I’d taken (one of which was her Fast Track Fitting class). We emailed back and forth a bit, and Joi offered not only to let me take her new Craftsy class Fast Track Fitting: In the Details but also to send me a copy of her new book when it came out. I was super excited about both.

Here’s the thing about Joi: she is crazy passionate about sharing this fitting method with as many different types of sewers as possible. I would love to take a real class with her. Come to Atlanta, please, Joi!

Just a quick bit about the new Craftsy class: I haven’t gotten very far yet (School has taken over my life! Isn’t it summer yet???), but I can already tell this is the class that I really wanted the first Fast Track Fitting to be. I think the first class is good for those who are very new to altering patterns. In the Details is definitely more my speed! It, as you might guess based on the name, goes into more details about specific fit issues. (When I finish the class, I will definitely be telling you more about how it went.)

Joi’s book Create the Perfect Fit is a cheerful, spiral-bound volume chock full of easy-to-follow illustrations and adorable photographs. The design is bright and uncluttered, which I very much appreciate. I was particularly excited when I found the section on fitting forward-rotated shoulders–a problem I’ve been wrestling with for quite a while now. The Back Upper Half Cap adjustment Joi recommends is exactly what I needed back when I was struggling with my Simplicity 1776 sleeves.

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I think, though, that my favorite part of the book was the Garment Application Workbook chapter where Joi details how to apply your fit pattern to fashion patterns. She takes different styles (i.e. the boxy jacket, the A-line gored skirt, the Princess Coat) and tells you where the measurements need to be true and where you need to add ease.

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But, let’s be honest–I really liked looking at the pretty pictures! :) That polka-dotted dress and white coat need to get in my life!

As a girl who is about to embark on a pants-fitting odyssey, I would really like to see more than a page devoted to fitting pants. And while I love the look of glossy pages, they are rather hard to take notes on in pencil (which is my preferred method of jotting things down in books). But, I’ve been on an anti-gloss kick lately, so this may just be my Crazy Yearbook Lady brain kicking in.

All-in-all, the book really is a great fitting companion for anyone who’s struggling to attain the elusive “perfect fit”–especially if you’re working with one of Joi’s new patterns for McCall’s. Here’s the thing I mostly love about these patterns: Joi has added several fitting lines and markings that you usually don’t find on commercial patterns. In addition to the usuals–waist, bust point, maybe even bust line–she’s also included the high and low bust, full upper back, and mid back. She even tells you how far below the base of the neck the back neckline should fall. This blew my mind because I’ve never seen that on a pattern before. And if you’re measuring your back neck to waist from the base of your neck but the pattern falls a couple inches below that without your realizing it, then your back waist is going to be all sorts of wrong.

Dear Pattern Companies: Start adding this information. Many thanks, J.

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Joi has two new patterns. One for a peplum and flared/godet skirt combo (I’m currently making peplum A). I love the exposed zipper and the split peplum. The other–well, at first I thought it was for a coat dress and wasn’t at all interested. But then I realized I was an idiot and it was an actual coatAnd then I started thinking about how I wanted to break all the rules and make a short version of the coat and how adorable would that be???

Today, friends, I’m offering you the chance to win these patterns for yourself! All you have to do is leave me a little comment letting me know you’d like to enter. And just for funsies, since it’s almost Halloween and all, tell me what your dream costume would be!

The giveaway will be open until Saturday, November 1, at midnight EST. I’ll announce the winner on Sunday. Only US residents this time (sorry, my international friends!) for the sake of shipping costs.

And do check out the other blogs in the tour! Next up is Joi’s big giveaway on her blog!

The Sewing Loft www.thesewingloft.com  September 19th

Lindsay Wilkes www.cottagemama.com date in October 9th

Threads Magazine www.threadsmagazine.com/blog/threads-daily October 10th

Shop the Garment District www.shopthegarmentdistrict.com October 10th

BabyLock Totally Stitchin  www.totallystitchin.net October 10th

Amy Ellis www.amyscreativeside.com October 13th

Marly Bird www.marlybird.com October 14th

Melissa Mora www.mellysews.com October 20th

Amy Barickman www.indygojunction.com date in October 22nd

Elizabeth and Liz www.simplesimonandco.com October 24th

Kate Blocher www.seekatesew.blogspot.com date in October  26th

Nancy Zieman www.nancyzieman.com/blog

Nicki from Australia www.thisismoonlightsewing.com

DESIGNER JOI www.designerjoi.com BIG PRIZE GIVE AWAY October 31st

Good luck to those of you who enter. And Happy Halloween!

Denim Maritime Shorts

(Aaaand now we continue with the muchly belated summer sewing posts that I really should write again, but I just don’t wanna. I should also point out that in between the sewing/writing and the photographing, I lost quite a bit of weight, so the shorts don’t fit quite as they should. Alas and alack, right? Also, I wear them all the freaking time, so they weren’t exactly “clean” for their blog debut. Oops ;) )

This being my third pair of Maritimes, there’s not that much more to say.

Maritime Shorts

For this rendition, I used for real cotton denim (with a teensy bit of lycra for stretch)–no poly to be found! The difference is remarkable. They breathe and keep their shape and are generally awesome.

I did make a few adjustments. I removed about 1/2″ from both side seams at the waist and the hem. I also took in about an inch at CB tapering to nothing somewhere along the curve. The fit is much more secure. I think these adjustments would work only for stretch fabrics. So, I’m thinking I should trace a fresh pattern before I make the changes on paper.

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I also extended the right front waistband so that I could add another secret button so that the waistband wouldn’t pull so much at CF. It’s so much better now. Seriously. I wish I’d done this on my white pair.

Here’s the weird thing: I’d inserted three fly zips before these shorts. On the white Maritimes, I barely even glanced at the directions. So, I cannot explain why when it came time for the fly to go in, I totally blanked! I read the directions and got really confused and kept doing things backwards and had to unpick lots of times. So bizarre! It was like being in a play and suddenly forgetting lines that you’ve always had down cold!

And then there’s also the top stitching.

Maritime Shorts

I really didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t sure what was supposed to be top stitched and what wasn’t. I’d thought about flat felling the seams but wasn’t sure which ones to do. In the end, I figured it didn’t matter. It’s not like these are a hardcore pair of jean shorts. There are no rivets, no coin pocket, and no heavy duty button.

My machine did not love the gold top stitching thread. For straight seams, we were okay. But as soon as I tried to bar tack or do a buttonhole? NOPE. Lots of frustrated stitch removal occurred during the course of this project. I used regular thread in the bobbin and when I tried to do any sort of zig zag stitch, the gold thread would get sucked down to the bottom. I played with the tension and kept a tight grip on the thread tails and rethread the machine several times. I have no idea why that was happening.

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I’m just really sad that I didn’t get my gold buttonhole (not that anyone will ever see it. I don’t tuck shirts into shorts. I know better.)

Now that they’re done, I’m super excited to wear them! But, since my hands literally turned blue while making these, I think I should wash them a couple of times to get more of the dye off so I don’t leave blue smudges everywhere I sit.

The top I’m wearing was sort of an experiment with rubbing off patterns. But I’m going to talk about it more in another post. The fabric is Robert Kaufman cotton/lycra knit, and it’s a pretty perfect knit, if you ask me.

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And now I’m going to continue my binge-watching of Gilmore Girls.

A Fortuitous Foxglove

Is there anything more “me” right now (and by “right now” I mean “over the summer”) than the Foxglove?? Sleeveless, loose-fitting, high/low hem–of course I snapped the pattern up ASAP. It usually takes me ages to get on board a pattern train, so that’s saying something!

It’s hard to say how long it took for me to make this. Cutting is simple–there are only two pieces plus some 1″ strips for binding. The actual sewing took about half of Tangled plus 20-25 minutes of Veronica Mars.

The instructions suggest that if you’re using a woven to go up in size (and to make a muslin–a wise decision, I think). I used a cotton/lycra knit (from, you guessed it!, Girl Charlee) which was much more lightweight than other cotton/lycras I’ve used before. It was very springy. Like a spring, not the season. Because of this, I ended up removing four inches just below the arm holes and eventually joining back in with the 3/8″ seam line. I suggest you consider the stretch of your fabric before choosing your size; I probably could have safely sized down.

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If you’re using an “unstable” knit like I did, you may be worried about the openness of the armholes if you try it on mid-process. They do feel very flimsy before they get bound. But, I was very pleased that once I finished the binding, the armholes felt secure.

I think perhaps my one regret is that I didn’t center the pattern on the front. It doesn’t really bother me. Maybe just a little.

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Good thing, then, that I have enough fabric left over to make another one if I so desire! But, more likely I will make a little top to complete a pajama set I’ve been working on. And by “working on” I mean I made the shorts already and have been trying to figure out what to use for a top.

This little project lived up to my expectations in every way. I adore this top and will definitely be making more (even, perhaps, a Foxglove dress!). I am glad that GC made it impossible to do the Lady Skater mod I was planning; I don’t know that I would have snapped up the pattern if I hadn’t been looking for another option. See–everything works out!

Foxglove

Racer backs make me feel awfully shouldery.

True story: at the Josten’s convention I was at a few weeks (days? Not sure when this post is going up) months ago, during one of the sessions we did this get-to-know-you exercise where we each turned in an anonymous card stating something about ourselves that no one else knew. The following day, we were each given a typed list of everyone’s “secrets” and told to figure out who was who. (The idea they were trying to get across was that everyone has a story, you just have to look for it. Journalism!) I, not being able to think of anything else, had written down that I sew all my own clothes, and showed up to class wearing my brand new Foxglove.

And, y’all? No one realized it was me. Mission accomplished.

This is what I want to hear: Smug Sewing Stories. Go!

A Fading Summer Shift

(And here we go with my backlog of summer sewing posts. . . )

Hmmmm. . .

I don’t know how I feel about this dress.

Beware the wrinkles. Some of us are lazy.

Beware the wrinkles. Some of us are lazy.

The process of making it was both simple and complicated.

Here’s why it was simple:

1. Linen is super easy to cut and sew, and it presses beautifully.

2. I was using a pattern I’d already used before. I knew it fit, for the most part.

3. The pattern had few pieces to cut and even fewer to sew (front, back, done.).

Simplicity 1776

Here’s why it was complicated:

1. Cotton/rayon batiste hates me. It hates everyone. It refuses to do what it is told. And it grows in all directions as you handle it.

2. While the pattern was already tested, it hadn’t exactly been tested in a sleeveless version, so problems cropped up that were unexpected.

3. Determining how to sew on a lining for a sleeveless dress entirely by machine isn’t nearly as complicated as figuring out how to understitch that lining by machine without ruining your life.

Simplicity 1776

As you know, I’ve used this pattern before. After all that muslining, I really wanted to use it again quickly before I lost momentum. I saw this linen/rayon in Jo-Ann’s back in the spring; it instantly grabbed my attention. I wasn’t sure what to do with it for a long time and I determined not to buy it until I had a plan. (I wasn’t worried that they would sell out because 95% of the people who shop there are quilters and crafters who are uninterested in apparel fabric.) Finally, I decided to use the linen for another shift, this time sans sleeves. My original idea was to make it in time for my seniors’ graduation, but that didn’t happen.

Simplicity 1776

Going sleeveless isn’t quite as simple as just not using the sleeve pattern. You really have to re-think the shape of your arm hole. This is a thing I did not do. I didn’t even consider it until I was sewing. My solution was to use a much deeper seam allowance around the bottom of the arm hole. It was not the best plan. It works, but it would have been better to draft a separate pattern altogether.

Losing the sleeves also causes a bit of gaping at the back neck. I think one of my biggest regrets with this dress is that I didn’t scoop the back neckline as I’d envisioned. There is a very small chance that I may go back and fix that someday.

Simplicity 1776

Other than that, I guess I’m actually quite pleased with the dress! It’s fun with the floral that isn’t overwhelming because of the simple shape. It’s very comfortable; the fabric makes it excellent for hot, humid days.

Although, to be honest, the only true fix for humid days is to be in the water or in the air conditioning. There is no other cure.

Oh, hey, do you want to see something tragic???

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Yeah. That happened as I was trying on the dress for the first time. Let it be known that I had already zipped and unzipped the dress a couple of times with no problems. But then, as I stepped in and tried to zip the dress up. . . bam. Luckily, I was still able to get myself out of the dress.

The only solution was to fuse on a bit of interfacing. Sigh. . .

What’s your worst sewing horror story? Mine ended semi-happily, but I’m sure there are others that. . . didn’t. (When you tell your story, make sure you hold the flashlight under your face for effect.)

Once Upon a Time. . .

. . . On a blog far, far away, every Sunday I would write a silly list of random thoughts (I called it Sunday Smorgasbord until I just started calling it random dessert names). I’ve been thinking about that old blog a lot recently, and I find that miss the silly random writing. So, while I’m easing myself back into blogging and waiting on a decent time to do a marathon photo sesh, I think I’m going to revive that old tradition–at least for a while.

1. While we’re talking about blogging. . . I often think of starting another blog to celebrate my crazy YA reading habits. There is nothing more fun than publicly relishing the absolute absurdity of most of today’s YA offerings. And to admit that I’ve been very inspired by one of those absurdist YA’s wherein the main character is a book blogger (think Twilight except with aliens instead of vampires–holy cow, the whole thing’s a train wreck!) would just lead me into a mire of Inception-y thoughts, so we’re just going to move on. . .

2. Part 2 of why I’ve been inspired to restart my book-blogging ways is that I’ve recently acquired an iPad. I got it so I could grade papers digitally (because who wants to keep tabs on 200 middle school rough drafts?? NO ONE EVER), but it has led me down a whole different digital path of unrighteousness. I have always been one of those old-fashioned gals who believed that paper books were the only way to go. I swore I would never own a Kindle because they were single-handedly destroying the libraries (and subsequently, the minds) of America! It all started innocently–I wanted to read a book my friend had recommended, and I didn’t want to wait for a delivery. “I have an iPad,” I thought. “I can just check iBooks.” And I did. And I was never the same. Do you want to know how many books I’ve downloaded in the short two months I’ve had the iPad/book-fetish-enabler?

24. And that’s not counting all the samples. Out of those 24, I’ve read all but 4. And you wonder why I haven’t been sewing. . .

3. My birthday is next week. It seems like the older I get, the more it sneaks up on me. I’m turning 33. What an awkward age.

4. I got a fabric shipment a couple days ago. Let me just warn you–you’ll probably be super bored by my fall sewing. It is uber-practical which means lots of solids and neutrals. And pants.

5. So my friend got me addicted to Borderlands–a bleak, darkly humorous, stylized shoot-em-up. I think I’m looking for some sort of treasure. I can’t be sure. I do know that I can’t be trusted with a sniper rifle.

6. I watched the trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey and laughed. There’s one worldwide phenomenon train I’m happy I never boarded. Though that new version of “Crazy in Love” is super lush, and I will absolutely be Spotifying it.

7. Maybe it’s because school life is hardwired into my brain, but autumn always seems to me to be the perfect time to Begin. It’s all about fresh starts and new people. Winter is a mixed bag of holidays and survival. Spring is a desperate fever dream with one theme: Summer’s coming. Summer’s coming. Summer’s coming. And then suddenly you’re looking out over two beautifully empty months and you just. . . breathe, probably for the first time since August.

This is one reason I love teaching: every year has a beginning and an end. And before you start again, you get to take time to refresh and recharge. There aren’t that many professions like that out there. So, even though it’s been a rough start, I feel that things are evening out. I know what I’m dealing with now, so I can plan better. And that means more quality time with my sewing machine (seriously–this girl needs some pants!).

Farewell, lovelies! I have Columbus Day off, so if anyone needs me I’ll be making eyes at my camera.

A T-shirt Dress of Seasonal Confusion

I’m alive!

I’m so tired. So, so tired.

. . .

Fall is official, y’all. And what better way to celebrate than to share a dress that would be perfect for spring.

Plantain dress

This is the Plantain from Deer and Doe. You know.

All I did was measure some things. . . and draw some things.

Did I mention I was tired?

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There’s a pretty major swayback issue. I have no idea how I go about fixing that when there’s no waist seam. Research needs to be done.

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The fabric is from Girl Charlee. With somewhere between 30-40% stretch, it works really well for a dress. Stable but not too stiff.

I am, in spite of my exhaustion, pretty excited about this dress. I most definitely want one in black to wear with my kimonos. And also in all the other colors.

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Anyways, it’s good to be back. I’m not sure how “back” I am though. So much tiredness. But, I do have a ridiculous number of projects to share. . .

Now that I’m posting again, maybe I can even start catching up with my blog reading!

. . .

I’m so afraid to log in to my reader.

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So, what’s new with you? Did I miss anything?

Back to School!

Greetings, Lovely People. I have not died. Although–ask me again on Friday, I may have a different answer.

Regular readers (you guys are the bestest) know that I’m turning teacher this year. I’ve been madly dashing around Doing Things for the past couple of weeks (this includes a hop-skip-jump over to Arizona to learn how to do my job), and we have finally reached the point of culmination–the First Week of School.

Technically, classes don’t start until Thursday, but there are all sorts of goings-on in the days before. And, because I don’t know how to leave well-enough alone, I am slowly trying to revamp my classroom in colors more suitable to my personality (my color palette, for those who are interested, is aqua, coral, navy, and bits of gray. Delish!). I’ve ordered fabric for a new drapery panel for my window and a skirt for an end table to hide some storage. I am also planning to reupholster an office chair that’s been lurking in my parent’s basement. I have fun yet sophisticated fabric for my bulletin boards. I’m even planning to do a fabric panel under the shelves on my desk.

And, of course, I’m also doing lesson plans, developing curriculum (this is what happens when you create a class from scratch!), making copies, learning new software, and attending meetings upon meetings. If you didn’t want to be a teacher before, I bet you do now, right??? :)

All that to say. . .

It’s probably going to be quiet around these parts for the next few weeks. I have over a dozen post drafts just waiting for pictures, but I simply can’t focus on that right now. Priorities!

For now, it’s back to work. I spent all day yesterday spray painting a file cabinet. My hands and feet might be permanently turquoise–I can’t get it all off! I haven’t sewn a stitch all week–too distracted–but I will be sewing today. I need a khaki skirt for Tuesday night. And there are a couple other projects I’d really like to get done this week.

The sewing bug is biting! I’ll catch you guys later!

Can’t Get Ahead of the Curve Kimono!

I’m not a sew-alonger. Apparently, it’s not in my nature to want to follow the crowd. I don’t always play well with others.

My mom tells a story of when I was about 4 or 5 years old. We were living in Pennsylvania, and there were a few neighborhood kids that I would play with every now and then. One day, I came home whimpering and crying. When my mom asked me what was wrong, I’m sure she expected to hear that I’d hurt myself or that someone had been mean to me. Nope. My answer? “I haven’t gotten to play by myself all day!”

It seems that I never grew out of that :)

So, while I hadn’t really intended to take part in the amazing Oonapalooza, and I can’t honestly say that I consciously made the following garment with that in mind, maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Oona wriggled her way into my subconscious and whispered “remember the mantis shrimp,” and I was suddenly filled with technicolor urges. Maybe that’s what happened. . .

Because, if you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been sewing lots of solids and simple geometric prints. There’s not a whole lot in the way of dazzling color in my budding, basic wardrobe. So, how else could you explain this?

Striped Kimono 3

Okay, maybe you could look at my Pinterest and see that I’ve been craving me some kimono. Or you could look at my closet door full of Post-its and see that I’ve even listed “floral kimono” as part of the outfit I wish I were wearing–more than once, in fact!

Striped Kimono 2

And maybe it’s my secret inner hipster that really wants everyone to know that I’ve been planning to sew a kimono for months. In fact, when I saw the tutorial on Elle Apparel, I wondered why no one else was sewing kimonos. But, as it happens, now that I’ve finally purchased fabric and sewed it up and taken pictures, I’ve already seen kimonos everywhere. Does it really matter? No. Not in the slightest.

Striped Kimono 1

I made a couple of changes to the tutorial. I added a neck band (two rectangles in front and a bias strip along the curve at the back of the neck because–I don’t know–it felt like the right thing to do) and fringe trim on the hem. The fringe serves the main purpose of covering up my original hem which was terrible.

But who cares about all that, just look at it. It doesn’t really rest on the body–it floats around it.

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When I slip on this kimono jacket, I am instantly Glenn Close from Sunset Boulevard, maybe slightly less wacko. I don’t just walk, I glide–I swan. I also feel like I need to carry around a peacock feather to brandish in people’s faces when they’ve been talking too long and I would like them to kindly shut up and go away.

The fabric is rayon voile. The only discernible difference between rayon voile and rayon challis (to this ignorant eye) is that challis has a bit more “tooth” to it. Voile–you whisper, and it runs away. Literally attempts to escape you as you lay it out for cutting. I should have bathed it in gelatin, but I was too impatient.

Here you see how one side is spot on, the other side is spot OFF.

Here you see how one side is spot on, the other side is spot OFF.

I think I finally understand why people sew “impractical” maxi dresses and Cascade skirts. There’s something to be said for leaving a cloud of fabric behind you for a mili-second after you walk away, like a faint echo or a wisp of perfume.

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To put it simply, this is the garment manifestation of my summer self. And if proudly displaying a little bit of your soul on your sleeve isn’t what Oonapalooza-ing is about, then I’m not sure what is.

The “I’m Just Asking for Trouble” Shorts (Plus a Refashion!)

I’ve mentioned this before, but I love white. It may be plain, boring, and downright risky to wear, but I enjoy the clean crispness of it.

When I planned to make a navy Archer, I envisioned wearing it with white skinny jeans. However, as the months passed and the temperatures grew and the Archer did not get finished, I had to temporarily change my plans. Thus, the idea for a pair of white Maritime shorts was born.

You’ve already gotten a glimpse of these when I finally shared my navy Archer.

Archer and Maritime1

Sewing the Maritime shorts is a really satisfying project–not just because they straight up fit without all the drama! Maybe it’s because they’re so small; every seam is a short one. Maybe it’s because they’re so stinkin’ practical; I love sewing things I know I’m going to wear. Or, maybe it’s just because there are so many little pieces that come together in the most glorious way possible.

If you remember, my “muslin” pair were too big. For these, I cinched in the waist about 1/4″ at the side seams. I’m thinking of lengthening and tapering the legs a bit for my next pair.

Archer and Maritime Side There are a few steps in the process that gave me pause. First, the patch pockets. They’re not hard, just fiddly. They’re topstitched twice. First before being attached to the shorts. I sewed one row just to hold down the folded edges inside. Second when they were attached to the shorts. Nothing groundbreaking!

I also had a bit of trouble when I first attached the pocket to the pocket lining. I knew that the pieces would fit together, but the lining was consistently coming up short. Finally, I basted each piece along the seam line, used about a million pins, and eased the two together. It worked perfectly then.

Peplum and Maritime 1

And finally, as you can guess, the fly zipper was a challenge. It wasn’t my first fly front zipper; but it had been a while since I’d put one in. When I sewed the muslin, I was glued to the directions. However, I’m pleased to report that I barely glanced at them this time around and the zipper turned out rather well!

Seriously, if you’re scared of a fly zip, stop it right now! If I can do one, you certainly can, too! :) Check out Jen’s tutorial. And there are many others out there as well!

Peplum and Maritime 2

Here’s the obvious deal with white shorts: 1. the major stain factor. All I have to do is brush up against a car in a parking lot or sit on any surface outside when the pollen takes over or lean against a dusty piece of furniture and–Ooops–shorts need to be washed. And 2. the visible underwear factor. I don’t currently have “nude” lady pants. I should probably get on that. While I tend to wear longer tops–especially longer in the back where I appreciate the coverage–I’d rather not leave my fate up to a sudden gust of wind.

Archer and Maritime back

However, I still really love these shorts!

Now, you may be curious about the top I’m wearing with them. This is another refashion, very similar to the first. This is my Not-a-Dress Peplum that I made back in the winter. I never, ever wore it, so I had to figure out why or let it go. First, I fixed the neckline by adding more topstitching with my twin needle. This helps the seam allowance underneath behave itself. Next, I chopped off the sleeves and added darts and binding. Peplum BindingPeplum 3

The waist is a little high, about a 1/2″ above my natural waist–just enough to be annoying. It’s a little tight as well. Truth be told, I’ve put on weight this summer. Too much lying around eating Snickers Ice Cream bars. Sigh–sometimes, eating healthy is a real challenge! I suspect that I’ll trim down once school starts and I’m eating like a grown up. We shall see!

Peplum and Maritime 4

As you read this (if you’re reading Monday afternoon), I will be on a plane headed home from Phoenix, drinking ginger ale and listening to podcasts. I really wish I could read on planes, but my brain thinks it makes me sick. Stupid brain.

Summer vacation is almost over, friends. Next Thursday, I’ll be back at school and the Thursday after that, the children arrive. I admit, I feel a bit of End of Summertime Sadness, but I’m so, so excited about my new job. And it’s about this time of year that I start longing for falling leaves, pumpkin-flavored everything, and crisp, cool temperatures.

Speaking of which, isn’t it about time to start planning my autumn sewing??

A Lucky, Not-So-Lucky Plantain (And Maritime Muslin!)

And now that I’ve revealed my summer sewing plan, let’s start with something completely unrelated, shall we? ;)

I love it when indie designers offer free patterns. I’m not one to purchase a pattern just because everyone else is–thank goodness! I simply don’t have the budget for every new bit of indie awesomeness that comes my way. So, before I invest in a semi-pricey pattern, I like having the chance to get to know a designer a bit better with a free pattern offering. It gives me an opportunity to see how the downloading works and how the patterns and instructions are laid out.

Deer and Doe designs, as you know, are very beautiful; however, I’d never met one that I just absolutely had to have. Until the Plantain started appearing. I really loved the relaxed fit and the elbow patches–and the price!

The first Plantain I made was several months ago just after the pattern was released. It was really an experiment/stash buster. I used what I think was some rayon ribbed knit in white with some leftover navy for the elbow patches. I don’t know why exactly–maybe I was all about going oversized to pair with some leggings I’d made?–but I made a size or two too large and lengthened the sleeves and the hem, I think. The result was. . . comfy. But not something to be worn out of the house.

So, a few weeks ago, when I purchased some green and white striped jersey from Girl Charlee (it was perfectly cut! They can do it!) with no pattern in mind, I eventually settled on attempting the Plantain again.

Plantain 1

 

I ended up cutting different sizes in different areas based on the fit of my first Plantain. The neckline and shoulders are a 34 which goes out to a 40 at the end of the shoulder. The side seams are a 40 or 42 (can’t remember!) and then the length is a 46. Once it was all sewn together, I eyeballed the hi-lo hem (which was not my wisest decision) with a rotary cutter.

Plantain 2I am rather in love with the result. The fabric tends to bunch up a bit above my bust, so perhaps I should have sized a bit differently in the shoulder area. The hem is a bit odd at the side seams; I should have worked out a smoother transition there.

 

Plantain StitchingI used my stretch twin needle for all my topstitching. I finally figured out how to adjust the tension of my bobbin–which is a rather scary thing to do as there’s no visual indication of how tight it is. So, there is some trial and error involved. But, a looser bobbin thread helps the fabric not pucker up as much between the two rows of topstitching and it helps maintain a proper zig zag on the bottom. It looks altogether more polished and professional than any other non-coverstitch machined topstitching, I think.

 

Plantain 3

As luck would have it, the first time I wore my brand new Plantain out, I came home with an oil smudge on the front. I have no idea when that happened. Since it was about 2:00 a.m., I just doused it with cornstarch (in hopes that it would absorb the oil) and washed it in the morning. At first, I thought I’d conquered the stain, but once it came out of the dryer, I could still faintly see the spot. You don’t really notice it unless you know it’s there, and you certainly can’t see it in pictures.

The second time I wore it, I got a tiny tomato sauce splash spot right in one of the white stripes. I pretreated and washed it immediately and luckily that stain came right out. But the oil smudge persists.

Oh well–if I can manage to wear this top without destroying it, I plan to live in it for the rest of the summer. Wish me luck!

The shorts are my first pair of Grainline Maritime Shorts. They are made with a rather terrible cotton/poly blend stretch denim. It feels lovely and soft on the outside and like P.E. in the 80’s on the inside.

Plantain 4

 

Truth be told, they are too big. So too big that I don’t need to unzip or unbutton them to take them off. It’s a little ridiculous; it’s also due to the stretch in the fabric. But, can we all just take a moment to celebrate that this is the first time in the history of the world that I have SEWN A PATTERN STRAIGHT OUT OF THE ENVELOPE. And by that I mean that I made absolutely ZERO changes to the pattern and it just fits (except for the largeness–but they stay on just fine! Seriously, it’s the fabric).

Actually, it’s not the first time–I sewed the Archer without any mods. But the Archer needs some armhole adjusting, so I’m not sure it counts.

Whatever, y’all. Jen gets me.

When I discovered the ickiness of the fabric, I decided to use it as a wearable muslin. I think I sewed a 10 because that’s what I did with my Moss. But, I’m just so happy that there’s no weird gaping or enormous leg holes or odd crotch curving or riding up. The shorts just fit, and I’m so relieved that I don’t have to work on them forever to make them pretty much perfect.

And now, I need to put together a little weekend wardrobe. Friday, I am flying to Arizona for a yearbook conference (my very first grown up business trip!) which I will be late for because my flight gets in with not enough time for me to get my car and drive to the hotel and they were going to charge me $200 to change it! Ummm. . . no. But, whatevs! I’m excited and a bit nervous because I may have to Talk to People. Did you know that I’m super socially awkward? I totally am.

And once I get back, it will be time to start gearing up for school. Wow–where did the summer go??? Must. Sew. FASTER!