Oh boy, where do I start??? Back in… I dunno May let’s say, I saw the most fabulous fabric on Emma One Sock, this beautiful faux leather. It looked like art, like beautiful painting. I ordered a swatch in an attempt to see what I could make with this fabric, as I haaad to have it. After discovering it was waterproof, I figured why not a Robson Tench coat?! Well then it sold out.
I waited at least a month and a half for EOS to get more in stock. I was a good seamstress and took that time to make up a muslin to ensure I didn’t over-purchase the faux leather (which I did somehow anyways.) And as soon as it was back in stock I snagged that sucker up as fast as I could. But don’t worry, I didn’t buy it all as it’s still in stock if anyone else gets inspired.
I worked my muslin in a cotton twill that I had originally bought to use as my Robson fabric, but I fell out of love for it. With those fabrics I fall out of love with I’ll either donate, swap, or use them for muslins. I ran out of the blue twill at on the side panels so I substituted in regular cotton muslin.
The fit was fine – a bit shapeless but the tie belt is what creates the shape, imo. In reading lots of reviews of the Robson Trench pattern, most said to move up the pockets (which I did) so I made sure to mark them on my muslin, although I still think I could have moved them up a tiny bit more.
I had originally cut an 8 at the shoulder, 10 at the bust, and maybe a 12 at the hip line. I ended up taking in the princess seams at the front arm area as it was a bit too loose there. I also ended up reducing the hip area back from the 12 to 10 as it was flaring out just a bit too much for me.
This is still one area I’m not 100% sure on – the lower half in the back. I know I need room to sit, but I wanted it to be a bit sleeker in the back – it’s a fine balancing act: ease vs. fit.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the faux floral leather – but I think a whole entire coat out of it would have been a bit much, ya know?! So I purchased some coordinating black faux leather from EOS to use as contrasting pieces to break up the floral print a bit.
I found some black vintage buttons from Soutache – my go to place for buttons in Chicago.
She has a wonderful collection of quality buttons along with some vintage finds – so I always make it a point to stop in there first to see what I can find before going to my local Joann’s for buttons. I really scored big there as she happened to have the same vintage button in both the larger and smaller sizes – perfect for the coat front vs. the smaller arm band buttons.
Totally lightened up the photo so you could see the button (above).
I want local places like hers to stay in business so if I know I’ll be up on the North side of the city, I take whatever project that warrants buttons over there. I always rationalize the slightly higher price with better quality & my thought of ‘If I’m spending all this time to make something wonderful I might as well finish it off with killer buttons.’ But I will add – I always shop my stash first. Okay… I’m done with my button rant. heh
Lets talk fabric & construction, shall we?!
When I got all my yardage in the mail I was such a happy little camper. I was draping it on myself, when I was starting to notice just how drapey it really was.
It drapes as well as any fine linen rayon blend but it was thinner in density, not your usual faux leather. I suspected this was going to be an issue with the trench so I decided to underline the entire coat. I paired it with all manner of fabrics, but in the end I decided to interface the entire thing in this medium weight weft, iron-on interfacing. Don’t ask me why I had enough interfacing for a whole trench coat in charcoal grey – but I did. So I cut out the whole trench for the second time in the interfacing.
I wish I could say interfacing it was easy – but it was not. Too much steam and the faux finish got a ‘leather ripple’ look and too little steam meant it didn’t fuse properly – so it was tricky and I had to re-fuse a few sections.
After this, I decided I also needed to fully line my trench. I cut out the trench for a third time in bemberg rayon in black (yay for stash busting!) and pretty much cut out the same pieces as the outer, except I had to do some clever piecing for the back neck facing & the front facing sections.
The most time consuming part of my Robson was really the cutting and fusing of all of these pieces. Putting it all together was really a breeze. I found that even if I only had 20-30 minutes of sewing time an evening, I still felt like I had accomplished a great deal since there are all manner of small pieces to put together (belt, epaulettes, storm flaps, etc.)
New tools of the trade for faux leather:
My face powder & a lighter. Let me explain…
I used a walking foot throughout my assembly for the faux leather along with a size ’70 microtex’ sewing needle. The leather portions like to grip on metal surfaces so you can’t simply stitch the faux leather up like you do for normal fabrics. This means that your normal sewing feet are out.
I didn’t have a teflon sewing foot – but that would work also. I found that even when I was doing top stitching my walking foot wasn’t cutting it. One sneaky trick folks like to do is put a dab of vaseline on the seam and it creates a nice slick layer in which to stitch. Not having any vaseline in the house nor did I want to try that out (ick) – I came up with the next best thing – my face powder.
I’m not sure what it is about my face powder, but it almost feels like it has some silicone in it or something. It’s very smooth to the touch so I thought, why not try it on my trench. I tested it in a small spot and it was genius! It stitched up perfectly without any residue left behind.
Lighter Trick – This trick I learnt in a leather working class I took this past winter. Basically if you have poly in your thread when you burn it, it shrivels up. Not wanting to waste all my time pulling threads to the inside of my coat to make knots (plus its hard to do on layers of faux leather), I simply burned the bits down which also made the seam super secure. Now… I don’t think I need to tell you not to use this on your cottons, linens, silks, etc. Faux leather & leather only folks as it’s not going to ignite immediately & burn your sewing room down like the other fabrics might.
Felix and I took these photos over at the University of Chicago campus. If you’re sneaky you can see I’m wearing my Blue Swirls dress underneath.
It’s such a lovely campus and I think I’ll be heading over there a lot more this summer to explore as students are thin on the ground during summer break.
I had to say, I had to wait for a chilly day in order to model this trench coat. With all of the layers I’ve added as well as being made in a faux leather, this is not the 70 degree-rainy day jacket I’d choose. It’s more of a 45-50 degree cool day (with or without rain) when I’d choose to wear this out.
After having made this one, it’s actually got me itching to make a second one in a more light-weight & waterproof fabric for the warmer days. Perhaps I’ll get around to it next spring…
This trench is the first item I checked off on my Paris Wardrobe List for this fall. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on Instagram, but I’m taking a trip with Felix & a few close friends to Paris in early September. So of course it means making new, fun clothes and I’m so excited to be traveling again. Unfortunately, France is having a heat wave and I fear this trench won’t be making the trip with me. Ahhh well, I’ll have my own fair city to wear this trench in soon enough I’m sure.
This was a funny moment – I scouted out another photo spot in the midst of taking photos in an already cool spot. University of Chicago is filled with such cool old buildings (they wouldn’t like me saying it but it reminds me of Hogwarts.) #Sorrynotsorry
Most images courtesy of my honey, Felix. *Thanks*
Feel free to ask me any faux leather or Robson trench questions in the comments also. Cheers & happy sewing.
I’m back once again, this time with my first iteration of the McCalls 6713 dress. Like I said in my earlier post, I’m all about the blues this summer.
I kinda posted out of order on this dress as this is the first make of M6713, and is a bit more true to the pattern.
As you can kinda/maybe see, the fit on the bodice is a bit different than in my Painted City version. In this blue swirls dress, the neckline is the same height. What’s different is that there is 1/2 inch less fabric in the side seam – which makes it more snug. I should note that this blue dress is the fit as is dictated by the pattern for my size.
On the Painted City dress I added 1/2 inch to each of the bodice fronts – which means more neckline drape – or a more relaxed fit. I lengthened the bodice on the Painted City dress by 1/2″ or 3/4″ or so, since I felt like the blue one was a bit high for my true waist.
Additionally, the neckline on the blue dress was stitched with clear elastic from shoulder to side seam – I wanted to prevent gaping. I went a bit overkill on the gape factor and it resulted in a much more fitted & higher neckline than the Painted City version.
See no gape. :)
It’s really small differences between the two dresses, but when I wear them they feel so completely different on. This blue one is much more structured and modest, whereas my City dress is more relaxed & breezy.
Fabric once again comes from Emma One Sock. I was able to buy this piece as a remnant or roll end – which means discounted prices. *Woot* I love that she has clearances & discounts updated on nearly an every day basis. And no… I am not endorsed by EOS in any way, shape or form. Although…. I would be happy to swap fabric for creations. *cough cough*
Part of the issue with not getting a swatch first in this fabric was that I thought these swirly bits were much, much smaller. You can imagine, I really had to work hard on my pattern placement of these circle swirls.
Couldn’t have them placed over my booty, boobs, or vagee. As a result I had to cut very carefully and I felt I wasted a bit more fabric than I normally would have. But it all worked out quite nicely, no?! :D
I can’t act – ever! This is my *nonchalant* look as I pretend to knock on this awesome door. It’s a side door to a church in the University of Chicago campus – but I don’t think this one is being used for a church. Not 15 mins later did a gal come out of the door… Really glad I didn’t knock for real.
As I have loads more items to photograph, it’s been quite nice to venture out and explore our new neighborhood some more. It’s given us quite the opportunity to walk around and check out the campus or a new-to-us park. We’ve been so holed up, working on our house and yard that we haven’t really explored our own neighborhood as much as we ought to have been this past year. But we’re getting there.
Next up: Faux leather Robson Trench! Can’t wait to share it with you guys. :D
After I learnt that sewing with knits isn’t all that I built it up to be, I couldn’t wait to make more – all the things!!! I’m still waaay behind on posting up my Renfrews – but instead I decided to jump forward and share my my newest knit creation, the Painted City dress.
Psst… you can always find what I’m up to via Instagram.
This pattern is McCalls 6713, a faux wrap dress for knits; I made mine up in view A.
This is actually the second version of this dress & I did a few tweaks. I made the bodice longer by 1/2″, and also raised up the neckline by about 1″ so I wouldn’t have too much gaping. Everything else is pretty much the same as the pattern.
Since knits are ohh soo new to me, I didn’t have any knit fabric in my stash or patterns to use. I’ve been really avoiding them in the past. And as it turns out, I’ve been picky about adding new patterns to my stash since I have so many along with a very limited storage area with all of the home renovations we’ve been doing.
I have a new found love of Emma One Sock and all of the rayon/lyrca knits that she has. I feel like that’s the only place I’ve been doing any fabric shopping in 2015. Once I spotted this fabric early this spring, I knew I had to have it.
It’s a print of buildings splashed with color, hence ‘Painted City’ dress. I feel like it’s not my ‘normal’ but I continue to branch out and have fun with my fabric purchases.
You’re probably going to see many more photos of me in this location. This is Nichols Park and is located just a few short blocks away from my house. One of the things I love about Hyde Park is how many parks & nature areas we have, not to mention being so close to the lake. I’m now a 10-ish minute walk away from Lake Michigan, it’s wonderful.
That’s all for today. Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July weekend. :)
I doubt you remember… but my front (& back) front yard was riddled with day lilies. Riddled. I got so sick and tired of them that my mom and I went and removed all of them, at least 5 mega lawn bags were filled with just day lilies from my front yard.
Seeing the fresh ground, ie soil, was so wonderful and refreshing. I loved it so much.
But slowly I got quite aggravated by seeing just dirt (and weeds… So many weeds.)
I went from being annoyed by day lilies to being annoyed by seeing plain old soil. Our house looked like no one cared about it. :( Doesn’t it look kinda shabby?! The dirt wasn’t as nice and dark looking but got dry and icky like.
It was time to take action!
I know absolutely nothing about gardening or plant care. I generally kill most of my indoor plants – due to under-watering or sometimes over-watering. In all things plants, I turn to my mom who is most handy with them.
My mom’s basement:
My mom is a trained chemist and also has a biology minor & zoology major. She worked at a soil testing facility for several years, so she knows a thing or two about soil & plants. heh Not to mention, she grows all of her own plants from seeds (or clippings) and has a dedicated plant room in the basement of her house. Oh and she also makes her own potting soil that has over 20 ingredients every spring along with a herbicide that is nontoxic and safe to put on edible plants. So yeah…. my mom is plant crazy.
My mom was only too happy to help to put together a plan for my front yard. And by “help” I mean she did all of the initial planning work and I just told her what plants I liked or didn’t like.
My mom put together a plan of my front yard – including the plant types as well as the layout.
After debating, we decided to ditch the ‘grass’ in the front yard – thinking it would turn into a space people to let their dog’s ‘relieve’ themselves – I live in the city after all.
My mom knows how little I know of such planty things, so she picked out perennials that don’t require a lot of maintenance, plus they work well in my part-shade front yard. She put together a perennial shade garden of sorts.
Last fall my mom and I went plant shopping. We hit up 3 plant nurseries in the burbs and got nearly everything we wanted. I only know of my favorite flowers/plants so I made sure to add them to the shopping list for the front, given that they would be happy living in part shade: Hydrangea, ornamental Japanese maple tree, & moss. All the other plants were my mom’s doing: Painted Ferns, lots of Hostas, Astilbe, Bleeding Heart, Evergreen, decorative cabbage, mums and so much more I forgot.
My mom took care of my plants during the week while Bob installed a spigot for watering in the front. And come the following weekend, we got to work planting & beautifying my the front yard.
As I unloaded the truck full of plants & mulch, my mom went around and dug up the plants that needed to be moved.
First thing we did was place all of the plants in roughly the place they were to be planted, to see how it all would look.
After we had things laid out, we just got to planting.
I felt like such a dunce in this. Planting a plant is like the most basic thing, but I had to be shown how. And it took me a few plants to get it just right. In my defense, the base of the plant was not supposed to be flush with the ground, but up a bit. We were laying a layer of mulch on top of everything, so we needed to account for that extra space – hence keeping the plants a bit higher, above the ground level.
My mom brought over two things to add to the soil as we planted: bone meal & cow manure.
I grossed out at the fact I’d have to touch manure, but really it was all cleaned and not smelly or mushy at all. It just felt like compacted soil really, so I got over it quickly. The manure was to put back nutrients in the soil and the bone meal is a fertilizer – ie adds nitrogen to the soil. The bone meal is mainly for the bulbs (Tulips & Hyacinths) we planted which will come up every spring.
My mom planned on having a *feature* in the front yard – like a large planter or yard decoration of some sort along with a fancy stone pathway. Not having either of these things purchased, we improvised. I had a small bird bath in the backyard that wasn’t really being used so that became the feature. And in all of my gardening (ripping up the day lilies in the front and back) I’d unearthed a lot of old bricks; this became our pathway.
I watch first, mainly to learn & figure out what’s happening… then I help out.
We broke for a late lunch & I was literally pulling my mom away because she didn’t want to stop working. heh When we came back out, we planted up the remaining plants (filling in gaps and whatnot).
Then it was time for the mulch.
I’ve never cared for mulch, but boy… when it went down it just made everything look so pretty and professional looking, it really cleaned everything up.
We leveled the birdbath, set up a piece of sculpture (ie old building facade) in the corner, and mom found a piece of granite stone that I’d tossed outside from my basement (long story…) and put that in the garden too since she though we were missing a cool rock.
Doesn’t it look so much better?!
After (early this Spring):
After (taken just today):
It just rained so there’s some particles on the mulch. But we’ve had a really rainy spring/early summer here in Chicago – so you can see how much my plants are loving it & thriving.
Besides the plants filling in, I feel like my japanese maple tree grew by at least 6″ so far. It looks so much taller than it was in the fall.
Over the winter, I lost 2-3 plants which was sad, but I’ve already filled in the empty space with new ones that my mom gave me.
I can’t even tell you how happy I am with my new front yard. It looks so nice, I think it even makes the house look nicer. My mom and I shared a nice moment enjoying all of our efforts and how pretty it became – It was so lovely having this all transformed in just one day. And I have to say, all of my plants look pretty happy too. :D
I’ve had to go outside and water nearly every day to keep the plants from going into shock & so they can winterize themselves (since I planted all this in the fall). I find it a major snooze to water… but I guess it’s a small price to pay for the pretty space it’s become.
As an update: I haven’t watered at all in 2015! This yard is low maintenance! I’ll have to water when it gets hot in the summer, but that’s about it. No pruning, no trimming – everything is fine as is.
On the plus side, every time I’ve watered, I generally see people stopping to admire or chat with me to tell me how nice it looks. I still don’t feel like I can take all of the credit since my mom was the architect of the yard, but I did do half of the manual labor and paid for it all. :D
I’ve met a fair amount of my neighbors already, but since the yard is done, suffice it to say I’ve met loads more. Felix has apparently gotten a lot of nice complements on it too. :)
Upcoming work is the back yard! That is even crazier & more overgrown than the front yard was, if you can imagine…
This is my first time sewing up Sewaholic’s Hollyburn Skirt & I’m in love.
Oh, how I love this skirt!
Top: Violet blouse, previously blogged here
Shoes: Me Too (Nordstroms)
Hair: Oh so freshly dyed pink. Don’t worry – It’ll fade after the first wash, cause even this is too pink for me.
I raved about this skirt pattern to Ms. Tasia herself when it was released, but sadly I hadn’t actually made it until now. I wish it didn’t take me so long, as I could have had this beauty in my wardrobe for over a year now. Never fear, I’ll make up for lost time. heh
I found this linen/rayon blend fabric at my local Vogue Fabrics late last summer. I only bought enough for the hollyburn skirt, but how I wish I had more. It’s wonderful fabric; it’s drapey, lovely and perfect for spring/summer weather.
I generally purchase fabric for a specific project so I don’t overbuy. I had always figured, it would be silly to make multiple garments in the same fabric like a skirt + dress or a dress + top. But with this, I’m wishing I had more for a second (& third) garment…. what are your thoughts on this??
Back to Hollyburn…
Pattern adjustments – none! That is if you don’t count my hem shortening, since I’m such a shortie.
I whipped this skirt up in short order and didn’t do anything fancy with the construction. I inserted a center seam lapped zipper – since I love them so.
I serged the inside edges, and hand stitched down the inner waistband & hem like I always do. And these tab fronts allowed me to use 2 stray vintage buttons I had in my stash. What else would I do with just two buttons??
I could have upgraded the construction by stabilizing my zip with organza, I could have added a lining, and I could have made the waistband fit a tiny bit smoother by separating the 1 piece waistband into a 3 piece waistband. But…. I didn’t. I wanted to finish this puppy up so I could wear it asap.
I did sew it up remarkably fast… but then I didn’t get it hemmed in time before the chilly fall weather – yes of 2014. I didn’t get the hem finished in time to wear it at all last year – so why bother hemming it?
Just a few weeks ago, I picked this skirt up again to finish the hem since I HAD to wear it. It’s lame that I didn’t get to wear it last year when I made it – but it was my own fault anyways, ya know?! heh
But here we are, with a finished Hollyburn – on the blog. And I’m now happily wearing my pretty blue skirt. This skirt has made me realize that I have a big gap in my wardrobe of royal blues and greens for the summer. I have winter greens & blues but no summer green & blues. My color preference is always very seasonal, I’ve come to find. But this year, I’m all about the blues (you’ll see what I mean in the next few posts).
So… yay for Hollyburn. I’m a bit late to the game but at least I showed up, yea? At least now I know why everyone loves this pattern so much & makes multiples of it.
Cheers & happy sewing.
Well, I’m back once again with some projects I took photos of pre-pink hair; this time it’s my 2nd Renfrew top and 1st Zinnia Skirt.
Before I get chatting about my outfit – Thank you all ohh so much with your “welcome back” notes and kind wishes about my step-dad. I’m getting back in the swing of things and will be commenting back soon to you, as I’m able to.
This is my new, dusty purple, wool knit Renfrew. This is my second renfrew top; I only slightly modified it from my navy renfrew by increasing the shoulder height by 1/4″ of an inch on both the front and back – to allow for a bit more room for the umm… girls. This also meant I had to lengthen the cap of the sleeve to match the longer armscye.
Looks much better when I pull it down where it’s supposed to sit, yea?!
I tucked in my shirt all wonky & attempted to fix it but failed. heh I promise the shirt isn’t normally all twisty like. :D
I am soo in love with this wool knit fabric. It’s so soft to the touch and I got it for a steal. I think it’s a wool jersey – much ligher weight than my navy renfrew was (which was a thicker, cotton jersey)
I bought this wool knit fabric from my local fabric store at least 2 years ago (maybe 3). I bought it waaaay before I even knew how to sew with knit fabrics. I knew that one day I would sew with them and I’d love to have it in my stash to use when that time came. It was a bargain (for wool knit) and I loved the color.
Lo and behold, when I went to make this top up I found several moth holes right down the center of the fabric!!! Sometime in my last apartment moths found one of my favorite fabrics and ate it. :( Waaahhhh!!!
I laid out my Renfrew pattern pieces just so, to avoid all of the moth holes. I think there is one little spot on the cowl where there is a hole but it’s hard to find/see. I had enough yardage for the Renfrew + some more, but ended up using the whole length just to avoid all of the holes.
I’m really happy I was able to still use this fabric at all and turn it into one of my favorite fall/winter tops. I was pretty estatic when I finished cutting it since I’d made it around all of the holes.
On to the Zinnia skirt…
I’m so glad I got photos of this Zinnia skirt before I went and shrunk it in the wash over Christmas break. Can you believe it?!
It was a stupid thing to do – attempting to wash wool crepe with cold water in the washing machine. I should have known better but I did think it would have been alright in the cold water… Guess not. Learn from my mistake folks!
I love the Zinnia skirt pattern! This black skirt was a staple in my closet (until I went and shrunk it). It worked with everything…
You’ve actually seen this skirt here, but I forgot to talk about it in that post.
I don’t remember the size I cut, but I remember I cut a straight size across the board, despite my hippy hips. I added the little belt loops to the waistband, but rarely use them. This skirt was a great opportunity to use that one fab button in your stash – as it calls for a button at the center back waistband.
Same picture below but I lightened it up a ton so you can see the tucks better, I hope you can… black is so hard to photograph.
Look how long my hair was, and this is when it’s curled?! Sorry I digress…
All of the tucks were uber time consuming to make, but they’re worth it. I’ve paired this skirt with some vintage sweaters for a modern 40’s vibe and also with my modern tops – this skirt just works for me and in so many situations.
As a result of the shrinking fiasco, I went hunting for more black wool crepe at my local store but didn’t find any! Can you believe it?! Anyhow I found some dark grey wool that’s more drapey and worked on a second version (to be blogged about soon). It’s not as versatile as the black Zinnia was, but it’s a good basic to have also. In the meantime, I’ll have to keep a lookout for some more black fabric.
Big shout out to my mom who found me these nearly-matching purple tights! *thanks mom*
Happy sewing & knitting – I’ll be back soon to show you one of my new knit projects…. soo much to catch up with still, it’s crazy!
This past fall & winter, I’ve been a sewing renegade; I’ve been sewing without a plan. I generally like to make lists and sew what I feel I need in my wardrobe – there’s nothing better than checking off items in a list, ya know?! But I did quite the opposite in this past winter & I LOVED it!
I’ve had a few sewing projects that I’ve always wanted to make in the back of my mind, but never got around to doing them. Something practical, or needed, or a new pattern came out to distract me and I just never gotten around to doing making those original garments up. This winter I decided – what the heck – why not just do it? So I did. :)
One of these projects was a kimono robe that I already shared with you in September. The second of these projects was pajama set – a silk charmeuse 40’s pajama set, to be exact!
As you can see, I took these photos quite a while ago as I had long, long blonde hair still.
I bought this New York 1028 pattern on etsy shortly before moving into my house. It never got officially packed up – which made it easy to find and even easier to get swayed to make this up.
Pajamas & lounge wear has always been on my to-do list but why sew pajamas that no one will see when you could make a cute dress to wear out?! Without my sewing list to reference, I felt free to sew some of these more “novelty” type items. Nothing I need but things I’ve always wanted. Let me tell you… I was so happy whenever I sat down at my machine to stitch these puppies up.
I maaaay have been inspired by Miss Phryne Fisher of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries when I paired this menswear charmeuse fabric with my pajama pattern. :D It’s a brown and marbled grey square pattern – kinda reminds me of dominoes. Whenever I see this fabric, it makes me think of a ‘gents smoking jacket or bathrobe. lol
I’ve had this charmeuse fabric in my stash for at least a year. I found it at my local fabric store and I bought juuuust enough to make the set. I had to piece together the sash and had to cut a few pieces on the cross grain to make it all fit. Lets just say – it’s lucky I’m so short otherwise I would have needed more fabric.
I had the hardest time cutting this fabric out on the grainline. Not because it’s silk charmuse (but that was tricky in itself) but because the squares aren’t printed quite square like, more like some squares, some stretched out diamondy-squares. I wanted to be on grain, but also match the squares on the trousers and I had quite a tricky time with it.
You can see the seam on the side of the trousers is not quite in line – but it was the best I could do given the wonky squares…
All seams were sewn with french seams and I used silk organza as a sew-in interfacing on the waistband and the button band area, and collar. The organza gave the silk charmeuse the perfect crispness and stabilization for these tricky areas, while allowing the charmeuse to still be soft and silky.
Of course I made a muslin of the bodice portion of the pajama set – but I underestimated my narrow shoulders & the 40’s wide shoulder silhouette. I stitched the sleeves on and serged those seams oh so narrow and then tried on my top. The sleeves looked like they were falling off my shoulders! This was a *I wanna cry now* moment because I can’t unpick this.
I’m very pleased with myself in my solution and I actually think it adds to the charm of the pajama top. I added in several rows of basting lines right at the shoulder edge (on the front and back bodice) and made a little smocked area just to pull in the shoulders – but no where else. It worked like a charm and the shoulders fit perfectly and it transitions to the bust nicely too.
Besides being a little rough on the inside, it actually looks like a design feature. (Inside, back neckline area with collar up top and sleeve to the left.)
I think my favorite part of this pajama set is the long, swishy peplum. I’m almost certain it makes me look uber short, especially paired with the wide legged trouser bottoms, but I love it so.
Speaking of trouser bottoms…
I made a muslin of these too (because I’m crazy like that). But I was glad I did, like always.
When I tried the trousers on for the first time they were hideous. I was showing Felix all of the adjustments I’d have to make and they looked like rubbish. Then…. I realized I had them on backwards. *Facepalm*
They fit much better when I had them on properly, but I had to take in the the tucks a bit as it felt too loose.
Yet… when I stitched up my silk charmeuse set, I had to unpick my tucks and put them back to the original position. Unfortunately all the previous stitching lines are visible in the silk charmeuse, but luckily I’m the only one who will ever see it, plus the peplum covers it up anyhow.
After making this set up, I meant to make another one in a flannel, with long sleeves but I never got around to it. But this is my go-to pattern now, anytime I feel like making some more pajamas.
The one downside is that I really can’t wear this set much at my house. (These pics were taken at my mom’s house.) Besides having a cold winter, my house is just really dusty from construction and I don’t trust myself enough to not snag them on something sharp.
But they always get packed whenever I go on a trip and get lots of wear that way.
P.S. It’s cranberry juice. hehe
I’ve been meaning to come back to blogging for quite some time now. In all honesty, I never meant to take a blogging break. Life just got in the way and I got out of the rhythm of posting – the longer I was away the harder it has been to come back and resume writing.
Since I’ve been away just a few things have happened:
- My step-dad got cancer – and then recovered and is now cancer free (YAY!) Biggie I know – but it’s all good now.
- I have a pretty, new front yard that my mom and I landscaped last fall
- I have pink hair
- I am officially sewing with knit fabric
- Made it through a totally cold winter in my house – the avg temp was like 60, sometimes 55, but never higher than 68.
- I’m planning a trip to Paris (Can’t even wait!!!)
- Oh… and I learnt how to use the sawzall (reciprocating saw). It’s the important things…. lol
While I may have left my blog unattended since *shudder* October, I have NOT stopped sewing or knitting. I’ve been sewing and knitting all winter long and have quite a backlog of projects to share.
Being made in worsted weight yarn, this is one of the faster knits that I made this winter. I think I was able to knit this puppy up in 2.5-3 weeks, which is pretty speedy for me.
As you can tell, I highly modified this sweater from the original, fisherman-style sweater, that it was supposed to be.
I knew I wouldn’t be happy with a long, positive-ease sweater so I did some modifications to be a waist-length and included some bust shaping (side seam increases).
Traditionally, I haven’t been successful with making any raglan-style sleeves. I have a very short armscye height and narrow shoulders, coupled with thicker upper arms. What ends up happening is that I look like I have mega armpit fat in my sweater – it just folds at the armpit all wrong. (See my Ingenue here).
But I think I finally solved the problem….
I make the upper bodice the height I need and generally stick with the smallest size in this area for width – again bodice only. But on the sleeves, I have to do the raglan decreases much faster from the armpit to the middle of the armscye on the front only – this gets rid of the extra sleeve width to blend into my narrow shoulders. This along with casting off more stitches than required at my underarms, helps. I do my decreases on every row for the first 25 rows or so, on the front bodice only. It seems like a lot of decreases – and it is – but it’s what works for me, and you’d never tell the decreases are crazy from the pictures, it just looks like it fits.
My center front & back panels are narrower than the original pattern, as is the moss stitching on the side panels.
I raised the neckline significantly. I actually knew I wanted a higher neckline, but I just winged it as I was knitting and didn’t take any notes. What I do know is that I did 2 sets of short rows in the back of the bodice to raise the back neckline. I think it was somewhere around 16 rows that I added to bring the back up higher than the front. I just kept knitting and decreasing the neckline until I liked the height of it in the front, then went and added short rows at the end to bring the back up to where it felt comfortable.
One of the best things about knitting with these gals (besides the fun we have…) is that all of our projects turn out completely different. I tend to knit my sweaters with a bit of vintage flair, even if it’s a modern pattern. Michelle’s are much more modern but always uses a new yarn that I’ve never heard of.
And Meg, well… she went and turned this sweater into a mini sweater dress. How cool is that?!
I used Miss Babs 100% merino, light worsted weight yarn in the Forever colorway for my pullover. It’s yarn that I’ve had in my stash for 4+ years now that I bought at Stitches Midwest. With any new knitting project that I’ve made this winter, I’ve been attempting to use yarn in my stash instead of going out and purchasing something new. Since it’s light worsted, I had to modify the stitch count due to a gauge difference. But I was going to have to do that anyways since I made my sweater with negative ease instead of positive ease.
The three of us wanted to go fabric shopping together after the photo shoot, so I immediately thought of this location to take our photos. There is a large wall of rocks (concrete or whatever) that I pass on my route to the fabric store, on the north side of Chicago (edge of Evanston), right along Sheridan Road. Chicagoans probably know exactly what I’m talking about, yeah?! I’ve always wanted to stop here, but just never did.
Unfortunately, it was terribly cold and windy when we were out there, we did the quickest photoshoot we’ve ever done. It was a great location for the fisherman style sweaters, as we were right along the lakefront – but not so good for the wind/cold factor. Ahh well… I’m sure I’ll make a point to stop here again when the winter breaks and sun is out to warm all of the rocks.
Sorry for the long absence, I have tons of projects to catch you up on so I’ll be sure to be back again soon. :)
P.S. More images on Flickr.
My poor mom… Let it be known that I can’t be trusted to turn over sewing gifts in any timely way. :| I know… I’m bad. I don’t mean to be, but it just happens. Once it feels like *work* I just can’t bring myself to do it.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve worked on my mom’s silk charmeuse pajama set. But (yes, there is a but here) I had good reason not to finish them. Besides all of the moving houses and whatnot, my mom’s size had changed since I first took her measurements and we both knew the silk camisole top wasn’t going to fit anyhow. So I didn’t feel like I had to rush on this. The shorts had been primarily done, save the waistband.
As I’ve picked up my sewing pace this summer, I wanted to dedicate some real, quality time to finishing up her pajama set and get this project off my plate. I just hate it when I have projects lingering over my head, don’t you?
Since this has been a long time coming, how about a recap on this old project.
I constructed the tap shorts pattern myself, with the help of Sew Vera Venus’s drafting directions. I made some fit adjustments and also modified the waist to be an elasticized waistband since I think they’re more comfortable for lounging. Additionally, there are no side seams. Fancy huh?!
I hand stitched most of the lace motif and did some fancy lace seaming work (aka applique seam) to achieve the curve, pointed at by the pencil below.
Thanks Meg for this lace trim – you gave it to me in a swap ages ago. You can see I put it to good use.
Fully Finished Shorts with tiny rolled hems & lace at the side seam.
I would like to say here that yes, I did indeed use my rolled hem foot on silk charmeuse! It was evil and crazy, but I totally told this fabric who’s boss. heh
Isn’t this color wonderful? It’s a pinky-orange coral (changes in different lighting) that really goes well with my mom’s skin tone.
All seams are french seams to prevent any unraveling of the silk charmeuse, on both the bodice and the shorts. I added that silk-satin ribbon to the back so she knows which is the front and which is the back. I bought 1/8″ yard of this silk ribbon for like $2. Can you imagine what the cost of a full yard (or yardage) would be?! I really didn’t want her to feel any scratchy ribbon next to the skin so I splurged on the good stuff.
I created a casing for the elastic, as I didn’t think an exposed elastic waistband would be the most glamorous, given all of my hand stitching on this lace section.
I had my mom close her eyes to try on the shorts to test the correct fit of the elastic waistband so she wouldn’t spoil the surprise of the finished project. :)
Since my mom has a much larger chest than I do, sewing this camisole was all new for me. FBA whaaaat???
In addition to changing the size of the cups, I also had to ensure that the camisole stays put and more importantly, the girls stay put. I came up with a creative solution of layers of silk organza coupled with seam tape to stabilize the underbust band.
The silk charmeuse is so delicate that I didn’t want to risk stressing the fabric out or *shudder* tearing at any of the seams.
Then I finished all of the seams with an additional layer of silk charmeuse & more hand stitching. I believe there may be a whopping four layers of silk in this under-bust band – not to mention all of the seam allowances. I trimmed it when I could but left a lot as it lent itself to more support.
I finished every seam off either with french seams or by hand stitching under the seam allowances.
Yes, this is the inside of the camisole, not the outside. I wanted the insides to be just as pretty and finished as the exterior.
I wanted to construct a lovely, timeless piece of lingerie for my mom. She’s often complained that since she’s well endowed she can never find a camisole to cover appropriately, have an underbust line land under her bust (not across like most do) and actually look attractive while doing so. I really hope this camisole is a *win* for her in all three categories.
Really hard to take decent photos on my 34″ bust for a >40″ bust gal, but I tried. It might be hard to notice, but on the V-shaped underbust band, I used the matte side of the silk charmeuse to give the bodice a bit more interest. I just love how this turned out.
So… due to the fact that I feared that this silk camisole might not quite fit her yet I went and made her a second one of a luscious eggplant purple knit fabric, too.
Second Pajama Set:
Perhaps I went knit fabric shopping the very next day after I made my Renfrew with Meg & Michelle, my first fabric expedition specifically for knit fabric. I found lots of remnants that were all wonderful and reasonably priced. After finding a few remnants of the same fabric I knew I could combine them for a knit set for my mom. I snagged this purple and also a baby bluish-mint color.
Sneaky & stealthy, I went to my mom’s to prewash my fabric. She was downstairs at the time and commented on how pretty the purple was. Not knowing my ulterior motive, besides clean clothes, she had unwittingly picked out her own fabric for her pajama set.
I have no idea what kind of fabric knit this is, terry maybe? It looks like jersey on the right side but has lots of small loopy loops on the wrong side.
I used exactly the same pattern for the camisole and tap shorts with just a few mods.
On the camisole underbust seam, I added clear elastic for light seam stabilization. I finished all of the hems with steam-a-seam to hold it all in place, then I went and did a zig-zag top stitching finish. And I finished all of the seam allowances with serging even though the fabric wasn’t fray prone, I wanted it to look nice and ‘finished’.
*Sorry they’re so dark*
On this knit version, the bust cups were gaping at the top sides, so I had to go back and take in that area by 1″ on both sides.
For the shorts, I used a 1″ wide cotton elastic for comfort and I created a separate waistband piece for the casing, instead of folding down the short top waist and loosing length.
This is a closer picture of the true color of the PJ purple knit set. This is a tiny bit brighter than in real life, but it’s closer than the dark images from above.
I really tried to set the set up on my dress form, but you can see it looks really frumpy. :(
But, it fits my mom perfectly, hugging in all of the right places. :)
My mom unfortunately did end up seeing these pre-fininshed, since I had to have her try on the camisoles once more to test the strap length and also the shorts for the elastic waistband sizing. I got this set done just in time for a trip to California my mom is currently on.
Perhaps I should have mentioned this in the beginning… But this whole project precipitated from the fact that large-bust gals (namely, my mom) have a really hard time finding pretty camisoles that actually fit like they’re supposed to. She was bemoaning this fact one time too many- and I’m like hey, I sew… So this became the perfect mother’s day gift idea.
It took some doing as this was the first time I’ve actually sewn for another other than myself. I’m a standard 34b, so I never have to do a sba or fba. (Don’t envy me yet, since I do have a whole host of other fit adjustments I regularly make). My mom is NOT a 34b, but more in the 38-40 realm with a DD or DDD. So yeah, I have NO experience with that. I had to adjust the fit quite a lot, but I just worked the way I normally do with making a muslin first then assessing. I didn’t do any research but tried to come up with my own creative way to address the “support” structure of a camisole that is not supposed to have any support. I think I did okay, but only time will tell with the silk charmeuse version. The knit version I’m not worried about at all since it is very forgiving, being a knit fabric. (I just stuck to a more structured knit for hers to provide a bit more support.)
All I can say is, my mom was very excited and happy to receive her finished, well fitting sets of pajamas in time for her vacation. :) I bet she’ll be asking for a new set of these every birthday & Christmas & Mother’s day from now on, too. heh
It’s no secret that Meg, Michelle, and I have been hanging out and knitting. As we do, we get time to chat about a lot of things – most popular topics of course is sewing and knitting. As a result, we often find projects that we all want to make but just haven’t. Enter the Cambie Dress.
TONS of gal seamstresses/bloggers have made the Cambie dress and love it. I’ve seen so many lovely versions online, but I just never got around to sewing it up myself. Michelle was in the same boat as me, she never made it either but wanted to. Meg, on the other hand has made oodles of them and loves it. It was only natural that Meg insisted we make it too and we could also make cardigans to go with – each of us picking our own cardigan pattern that we liked of course. We set a deadline and off we went making up our respective Cambie dresses and cardigans to coordinate.
Before I start chatting away about my Cambie dress… It’s come up recently that cliques are forming in the online sewing community.
I’d like to be the first one to say that the last thing I want to be is in a *clique* of any type. I’m actually quite an introvert and get really quiet when I’m in a large group. Growing up, I gravitated towards the non-mainstream group of folks, namely the punk, emo, and ska folks in high school. We were just on the same wavelength and I could be myself. This whole community of sewing peeps is wonderful and I am happy as a clam to write to you all & chat & geek out about sewing and knitting. I can be me.
But, the more I hang out with the same group of people (in person) the more I am myself – and these two gals just make it easy to be me. We have so many common interests that we enjoy each other’s company and do talk about work, bf’s and various other fun topics naturally. But… we like other people too. :D So while there’s going to naturally be more group projects with these gals since we have similar likes & interests, I just don’t want to give the impression that we’re exclusive and cliquish in any way. We’re just all happy to knit & sew together that it’s natural we blog about it. Ya know?
Back to Cardies & Cambies:
Or should it be Cardis, Cardi’s? Hmmm…. whatever.
The idea came up a few months back that it would be fun to make Cambie dresses with coordinating cardigans. We each picked out our own cardigan pattern and got to work. I have really been wanting a open lace type cardigan, something that would be summer-appropriate when I wanted some coverage but not the warmth that comes from wool.
I found this perfect shade of purple that would coordinate perfectly with my Cambie dress fabric. Let me tell you… It’s quite challenging to find fingering weight non-wool blends- in person at a brick & mortar shop. I was totally lucky to score this perfect purple to coordinate – little did I know it was going to be one of my biggest knitting challenges to date.
Pattern: Vintage Lace Cardigan, by (vintage) Vogue, 1950’s. (Got the knitting issue off of Etsy in my hunt for the perfect lace cardigan.) Still LOVE this pattern.
Yarn: Rowan Panama, Jacaranda colorway.
Size: With my crazy gauge, I used the stitch count for the XS fonts and S for the back bodice, sleeves drafted by yours truly.
I’ve come from a wool knit background (or wool blends of course), never knitting with 100% cotton or the like in garments. I wanted to change that with this summer cardigan. The makeup of my yarn was 55% rayon, 33% cotton and 12% linen. So the bulk of the content is drapey rayon. (Too bad I didn’t think about that fact before starting this cardigan).
I worked up the bodice of the cardigan as I would with any other knit project – I used my normal waist to armhole measurements & armhole to shoulder measurements and got knitting. Well…. being drapey this thing grows! I did not account for that at all – and had to frog my bodice & re-knit more than once since I’m not used to this with knits – at all.
The deadline was pushed back 2 weeks, just for me, so I could finish my cardigan. I worked hard on finishing it, but found myself awake up until 4am the day before the new deadline, and still not finished. :( I went to bed at 4:20am, and during the car ride to the photo shoot I was frantically stitching down my facings and putting on my buttons.
When I arrived at the photoshoot location, I had never even tried on my cardigan to see if it fully fit with the buttons and all. Yes…. it was totally stressful and the cardigan you see took me like 2+ months of work. (Leisure pace at the beginning, frantic at the end). I’m just happy that it fits and looks decent.
The one aspect I’m not happy about is the collar wierdness at the buttonhole (see first image of me with it buttoned up). I’m hoping that some additional blocking will help that, otherwise I can restitch it down. Again, due to my tricky yarn, the cardigan still is growing and my sleeve length is not where it was supposed to be. But I do have to say, it’s such a perfect match for my cambie dress and I LOVE the style of it all.
I’m quite tempted to actually make a second version of this cardigan but in a wool blend. I bet it would behave much nicer and fit a bit better.
As for my Cambie dress… It went together in a cinch and I spend 1 week working on it and was done.
I guess it makes up for the craziness that was my cardigan. heh
The fabric is really neat. First, it actually came from Michelle who, in turn, got it at an estate sale and I snagged it at our last Chicago meetup/swap. Secondly, if you look, the fabric looks like it’s on the bias as the plaid pattern is diagonal and not horizontal across my body.
BUT… The fabric is 100% on grain and not on the bias – the plaid pattern is just printed so that it looks like it’s on the bias. Neat, no? There’s a ton of yardage that I still have at least 4 more yards of it to make something else (I’m thinking of a fun blouse…)
I made just one muslin of the Cambie bodice, made a few minimal changes & got stitching.
I love how feminine the sweetheart neckline is, but I had to stitch down some twill tape to prevent gaping. I still think mine gapes a tiny bit, but it lays flat against my skin when I’m upright.
I’ll most likely take a bit more fabric out at the neckline for the next version – and YES there will be more. I’d love to make one for the winter in some wool fabric.
I also increased the height of the center of the bodice by 5/8’s inch (wanted it modest so I could wear it to work), and tapered it to the original height at the outer edges of the straps so it matched the back bodice.
The inside finishing is really nice, but it takes soo much time, especially given I made the full-skirted version. It’s a nice detail and I actually needed to either line or underline my plaid fabric as it is a sheer cotton. I used a basic white cotton batiste for the lining for the most breathable summer dress possible.
I’m not a fan of invisible zips, so I went and changed things up so I could put in a center back lapped zipper. As soon as I learnt just how to put these in, I rarely sew in any other kind. (Sorry forgot to snag a pic of my zipper.)
I did a narrow hem on the exterior of the skirt. But what I did very different was to hem the lining with 1″ horsehair braid to give the dress even more fluff at the bottom without wearing a crinoline. I fully encased my horsehair braid as there’s nothing worse than having the braid cut-edge scratching at you when you’re sitting down or walking.
I think my favorite pictures of my dress are in the group shots. Since I’ve chatted enough, I’m just going to dump in my favorites so you can browse through. (Full set of photos are on my flickr page).
Group Photos & Silliness:
Roller- coaster image once again; it’s always a great idea. Being in front, I’m always gripping on for dear life. LOL
I love this photo (below), looks like Meg and I have a secret from Michelle. heh
Meg’s Cambie-Cardie Combo:
I looove Meg’s cardigan so much. I tried it on several times. It’s such a great layering cardigan and was soo thick and toasty warm with the yarn that she choose. It’s just wonderful & a great knit. Turned out flawless, too. Meg has become such a great knitter.
I’ve lost count on how many Cambie dresses Meg has made, but this is her newest one and it just screams *Autumn*, especially paired with her cardigan. It’s a great transition dress – just perfect for October & November here in Chicago.
Michelle’s Cambie-Cardie Combo:
I love that my favorite pics of both Meg & Michelle are in the same exact pose. heh
I just love the fabric Michelle used for her Cambie. It’s a lighter weight wool (or wool blend), and it’s looks so chic and tailored. I mean seriously, we ate breakfast beforehand and there’s not a crease in sight on her dress! It fits her so well and the pocket, waistband combo just looks so clean.
I was really admiring the stitch pattern on her cardigan too. While that style isn’t something I’d wear, it looks great on her – The color and stitch pattern I can totally get on board with. :)
One thing that always surprises me is no matter how many times we make the same project, they always turn out so very different from one another. Michelle was saying to me, that she thought it amazing that I turned such a modern dress into something very vintage looking. *yay* It’s such a great compliment to hear since well… I’m all about the 40’s and 50’s. I do think the 50’s cardigan does help some though… not to mention using vintage fabric.
What’s up next??
There’s been talk of trousers, the Bruyere top, Archer, as well as cabled knit sweaters & socks. All of these are on my fall planning list which is perfect. I’m really not sure what’s coming next but something is, you can bet on it. :D