SYDNEY JACKET IN BUFFALO CHECK WOOL

The last fabric that I bought before leaving NYC was this gorgeous felted wool. I went out looking for boiled wool as is suggested by the Sydney pattern, but I didn’t like the texture of boiled wool once I saw it.  I instantly fell in love with this large buffalo check wool. It’s thick and soft and the edges don’t fray so it had to come with me.

The Sydney pattern by Tessuti is such a winner in my book. It’s very easy to sew up in a couple of hours and the end result has a big impact. The hardest part for me was trying to figure out which pattern piece connected where as I was cutting it out. Because of the large check pattern I was trying to do a bit of pattern matching. In the end I just couldn’t make it work and honestly I don’t think it mattered, but if you decide to choose a fabric with an obvious print as I did be warned. The pieces come together a little like origami and it can be a bit confusing during the cutting out process.

I have some gray felted wool put set aside for another Sydney Jacket, but I’m honestly still trying to decide whether I really need two jackets like this in my wardrobe. If I do try it again I was thinking that it would be fun playing with some decorative edge stitches such as the blanket stitch since the pattern leaves all of the edges raw.

CURTAIN DRESS

I found these amazing vintage curtains at a thrift store awhile back and couldn’t pass them up. I fell in love with the print and colors. I was a little scared that using them would end up like a bad remake of the Sound of Music, and well, it did kinda end up that way, but I love it anyways. I wasn’t confident enough to make myself something out of it, but I thought that my daughter could pull it off better than I could.

The pattern that I used was from the burda magazine #152. I love that it’s such a classic little girls dress. I made it up once before in a ponte which worked great too.  I made a few changes this time around. I lined the entire dress with a brown cotton lawn. I liked that it made it a little nicer and also that it added a bit more fullness to the skirt. I also rotated out the waist darts this. Because honestly, little girls don’t need darts and seeing them on a little dress weirds me out a bit.

My daughter is obsessed with the dress. I love that the fabric is definitely winter and fall appropriate. It was perfect for both Thanksgiving and Christmas parties (yes, I’ve been sitting on these photos for almost two months).

Now I’ve just got to figure out what to do with the rest of the curtains. I probably still have four yards. I am thinking that maybe a duffle bag or backpack might be cool.

A MOVE TO DENVER

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It’s been really quiet around here for the last month or so and I figured it was probably time I tell you all why. My family and I moved from New York City to Denver, Colorado at the first of the year. It’s something that we have been talking about doing for awhile, but once it happened it happened fast and I think that I am still recovering from the shock of it all. I am not sure if I have ever felt so at home as I did in NYC and I am still mourning the loss of my life there. That being said, Denver is already starting to grow on me. Not only are we much closer to family, but my children love the access to a backyard and the outdoors. Life really is just so much easier here.

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We have only been here about a week so I havn’t had a chance to explore much of what the city has to offer yet, but I would love your suggestions. I am planning a trip to Fancy Tiger Crafts soon, but if you know of any other places that I must explore, whether sewing related or not, please let me know!

HOLIDAY GIFT LIST FOR SEWISTS

There are lots of lists out there for things you can sew for others as holiday gifts, but just like last year, I decided to put together a list for those of us who love to sew. It can be hard for our loved ones who do not share our passion to know what we want, so pass this along to anyone who has you on their list or put them in your own stocking if you prefer :)

 

Under $25

Fit for Real People Book – This is one of those sewing books that everyone says is amazing, but somehow I have not bought yet. Looks a little dated, but what sewist doesn’t want more tricks up their sleeve when it comes to the perfect fit?

Tailor’s Clapper – Between the Ginger Jeans and Birkin Flares, jeans are on my list for 2016. To get a professional crease on jean fabric I hear that pair of clappers are one of those tools that is just good to have.

Magnetic Pin Tray – I first saw this cool little pin tray at Caroline’s house and I have wanted one ever since. My pin control situation is a constant problem, so maybe this would help keep them on the tray and off the floor.

Art Print – I am always looking for artwork to keep me inspired at my work station. I think this one is great and would work perfectly in my space although this thread one is pretty cute too.

Stork Embroidery Scissors – Jen of Grainline always has a pair of these around her neck for clipping threads and I think she started a serious trend in the home sewing world. They are just so stinkin cute that they are practically an accessory.

Sewing Jeans E-Book – Last year it was sewing lingerie, this year sewing jeans seems to be the big new thing. Heather is a researcher and perfectionist by nature so I am sure that her ebook is amazing. Pretty sure I will be picking this one up once I get started on my jeans this year.

 

Under $100

Merchant and Mills Notions Set – The presentation and quality are so great, I think that this is the perfect gift for any sewer who just wants so much nice items to add to their craft.

Scissors Necklace – I love the look of this necklace. Simple and small and delicate.

Boundless Style Book – I have only heard amazing things about Victory pattern’s new book. Of all of the books that have come out this year, this one certainly stands out to me as one that I must get my hands on. The dresses are especially chic and modern.

Fabric Gift Cards – Nothing wrong with getting a gift card, especially if you are running out of time. The nice thing about a fabric gift card is that it really is a gift of endless possibilities. I noticed that Hellgate Fabrics, Mood, and Blackbird fabrics all offer them.

Craftsy Class – I am the kind of person who loves taking classes and online classes are a really easy way to learn new skills. I have been extremely impressed with the Craftsy classes that I have taken so far and just purchased this one for the new year. Although there is another similar company I recently became aware of called Malikoo that you should check out for classes as well.

Maker Tee – Not only is the Maker tee by the talented Megan Nielsen cute, but it also helps support women who are fleeing human trafficking. She also has some cute totes available for purchase as well.

 

Over $100

Camp Workroom Social – I am sure I am not the only one who went into a serious funk this October when pretty much all of my favorite people were at Camp. It looked amazing and I can only imagine how awesome next year will be. From what I hear you need to be on the email list to secure a place as it’s expected to sell out early. Some of the classes this year include buttonup shirtmaking, couture hand sewing, bra-making, fit, jacketmaking, and pattern design. Sounds like my version of heaven.

Dress Form – This is actually what I am getting this year for the holidays. I have been researching dress forms for a while now, looking for the perfect one. I still have not decided for sure which one is right for me, but I have heard so many great things about the Alva form because it has a more modern, natural shape. I have also heard good things about the Shop Company for a much more economical option.

Cover Stitch Machine – As life changing as it was for me once I finally bought a serger, I think I would feel just that great to get a coverstitch. It’s one of those things that not everyone invests in, but really does make your knitwear look more professional. I havn’t done a ton of research into coverstitches so I don’t know if this is the one to get, but it seemed like a pretty great deal.

 

BODY CON WINTER DRESS – MCCALLS 6886

I had a winter wedding to go to recently for a good friend so I decided to make up another version of McCalls 6886 because I liked my last one so much. It really is a great pattern with a lot of room for modifications and both easy and fast to sew up. After seeing some ready to wear dresses that I liked with long sleeves and exposed zippers I decided to give it a try. I knew that the zipper going the whole length down the back was risky – could either go high end or trashy depending on little details and fit – but what fun is sewing if you don’t try new things every once in awhile right?

The fabric is a wool/poyester knit blend that I bought at Mood fabrics in NYC. I liked the busy, abstract print because I thought it would be more forgiving and hide body imperfections more than a solid would. It is really soft and thick and not itchy at all which I was worried about since it has wool in it. I bought the zippers all from SIL in the garment district. They are all gold metal zippers on black.

I obviously made quite a few changes to the pattern to achieve what I was going for. I raised the neckline to be a closer fit and also added a facing instead of turning it under and stitching, just because I thought it would look a little more high end. I also made the dress quite a bit more fitted than the original pattern. To do this I just put it on inside out and pinned it until the fit was right. Most of the width was taken out of the sleeves, waistline, and below the hips.

For the exposed zippers I used this tutorial which I had used on my last version as well. The zippers at each wrist were pretty straight forward and easy to put in, but the back zipper proved to be tougher. If you decide to do anything similar I suggest two things. First, be very sure that the fit is spot on before adding the zipper. I thought that my fit was good, but the knit fabric can conceal some issues. After putting in the zipper it was obvious that I needed to take a bit of length out of the back above my waist and the zipper just made it worse. There wasn’t much I could do at this point so I did end up with a little ripple in the zipper right around my back bra strap. The other tip I have is use fusible interfacing to stabilize the hell out of that back seam. I fused long strips of 1 inch wide interfacing along both edges before sewing and that made all of the difference. If you don’t do this then your fabric will stretch slightly as you sew and you will end up with a very wavy zipper. In the end it wasn’t perfect, but it was as close as I could get without recutting the back.

The dress was perfect for the wedding and I am glad that I have another winter dress in my closet that is easy to wear with either heels or black boots.

TWO COCOON DRESSES

The Cocoon Dress is the first pattern released by Groovy Baby Mama. Originally it was part of the Sew What Club, but now it is available to purchase on it’s own. I love pretty much everything that Trine of Groovy Baby Mama makes for herself- she has such a simple, modern, and chic style, and her kids clothes are no different.

As I mentioned before, my daughter is not so big on pants. This becomes a little tricky in the winter months. I got her a few pairs of nice, thick, ponte leggings and some knee high boots so that we could pair them with some winter dresses this season. This is the perfect dress for this.

I’ve made up two so far and I have already bought some quilted jersey to make a third. It’s a really simple pattern that sews up very fast. For me, the hardest part is just getting your twin needle stretch stitching nice and flat.

The first version with the ruffle sleeve is made out of some french terry knit from Imagine Ghats. I love this deep plum color and the stiffness of the fabric was perfect to hold the cocoon shape.

For my next version I used some acid wash knit from my stash that I bought from Wanderlust fabrics last year. I love this fabric! I thought that the ruffle would be too “sweet” for the acid wash so I went a little rogue. I added this little cap insert to add some interest and structure to the shoulder. My intention was to have it stick out a bit more for a more angled look, but it didn’t go as planned. I still love the way it turned out, but maybe next time I will play with it a bit more.

My daughter and I both love this pattern. It’s comfy and roomy for her and I love that the shape is really modern. I sewed up the size 5T for her according to the measurement chart and it fit well. I could maybe take a bit of width out of the neckline if I wanted to be picky. It looks really great with leggings. If I were to make a version for warmer weather I would probably lengthen the front by a bit just because it gets a bit short in front when she lifts her arms. Perfect for leggings – but maybe short if not.

Check out this post if you want more details on buying the Cocoon dress pattern.

TODDLER BACKPACK

The toddler backpack pattern from Made by Rae has become a bit of a rite of passage item in our home. My daughter has had two of them, and my two year old son was finally ready for his own for going on playdates and such.

The zebra fabric was some that I designed awhile back when By Hand London was still doing custom printed fabric. I love the fabric and the way it turned out, but had no idea what to do with it so it just sat in the stash for a long time. I’m glad that I finally decided to use it for the backpack. It’s a bit heavier than a quilting cotton so it was perfect.

The straps, bottom and sides are made with a blue duck cloth and I added a lining to the whole bag in this really fun batik quilting cotton. Just for functionality I also added an inside zipper pocket and an elastic pocket to fit his water bottle. I used an ivory metal zipper for the top as well as ivory piping for accents.

I have tried multiple things to add stiffness and shape to the backpack. On my last version I used some heavyweight interfacing fused to the outside fabric which ended up being a bit of a disaster. With wear it separated and bubbled and I could never get it to look great again. This time I read up on recommendations and decided to give Pellon Thermolam a try. So far so good. I only added it to the outside fabric. It did make it a bit tricky to sew through all of the layers though, especially when adding the piping. Next time I think I would trim off the seam allowances of the fusible fleece before adhering it.

I see this backpack getting a lot of love and use over the next couple of years before he needs a full sized one. Love this little pattern and all of the times I have made it for my kids.

SWEATSHIRT TO MINI HUDSON UPCYCLE

I recently discovered that a thrifted adult sized sweatshirt is the perfect item to upcycle into Mini Hudson pants and I had to share it with you. In the end, the sweatshirt provided everything that I needed except the elastic, which makes for a pretty successful upcycle in my book. Now I am addicted and am on the hunt for old sweatshirts to use. I have a few tips that I learned along the way, as well as some pictures that I hope help.

When looking for a sweatshirt to use, whether from your own closet, or a thrift store, there are few things that you want to look for. Depending on what size pant you are making, you want to probably find the biggest sweatshirt that you can. I was making a size 2T and a mens large was good for me, but bigger would be better. That being said, this tutorial is best suited for the smaller sized pants such as sizes 2T- 4T, or the cropped version of the larger sizes.

You also want a sweatshirt with at least a little stretch in it. A lot of sweatshirts, especially the cheaper ones, don’t have any stretch which wouldn’t be suitable for this pattern. You definitely want a sweatshirt with both wrist and waist ribbing as you use those for your pants and an added bonus is a hooded sweatshirt with a drawstring as you can use the drawstring on your pants as well. Here is what I ended up with.

The first thing that you need to do is cut and separate your sweatshirt into large swatches of fabric. Since my sweatshirt had writing and a pocket on the front, my usable fabric came from the arms and back. Also carefully cut off the ribbing on the wrists and waist to use, as well as the necktie if your sweatshirt is hooded.

Cut out your waistband, pocket detail, and ankle bands from the ribbing.

Cut out the pocket pieces and the front and back pants with the main sweatshirt fabric. Do your best to pay attention to grainlines and assuring that the greatest amount of stretch pulls widthwise.

Sew up your pants according to the instructions.

If your sweatshirt had a hood with a drawstring, use that for the drawstring on the pants.

I love the way these turned out. He seems to like them too.

Men’s Hudson Pant Inspiration and Fabric

I am so glad that you all seem to be as excited about the Men’s Hudson Pants as I am. The phrase I keep seeing around the web is something to the effect of “I’ve never sewn for my husband/boyfriend, but this seems like an easy place to start.” I am so glad that this pattern has you all excited about sewing things for the men in your life. And, if you are a man who is reading this, (sorry that you are often overlooked in our community) then I am glad that I can add another men’s sewing pattern into the mix as I think we can use more.

Today I am going to show a few ready-to-wear pants that have a similar look to the Men’s Hudson Pants. Whether the intention is to wear these around the house for lounging, or dress them up for around town, I hope that this post will help you decide on the look you want to sew up and how to style them.

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I have some sources and ideas for fabrics below. You really do want something on the medium to heavy weight side for these if they are going to be worn out of the house, so I recommend fabrics such as french terry, ponte and sweatshirt knit. Another thing to keep in mind is that fabrics that contain even a small percentage of lycra or spandex are going to have better recovery and help avoid bagging out in the knees and backside. This may not be as big of a deal with lounging pants, but just keep the fabric content in mind when choosing what to use.

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I am always on the lookout for great online sources for “grownup” knits, so if you know of a place that I have overlooked please leave a comment.

INTRODUCING THE MEN’S HUDSON PANTS

I am very excited to release a Men’s version of the Hudson pant today. Since releasing the women’s and also the children’s versions, I have had a lot of requests for a similar pattern for men.

Like the other versions, the Men’s Hudson Pant has an elastic / drawstring waist and front pockets. There is a little extra room around the hips and crotch, tapering down to a skinnier leg at the ankle. I kept the construction of this pattern almost exactly like the others, keeping notches, and details in the same place. If you have already made a pair for yourself or a child, then these will be an even easier sew for you.

The sizing for this pant is waist sizes 28 through 42. I highly recommend using actual measurements and not ready-to-wear sizing to choose what size to cut. Just like in women’s clothing, ready-to-wear sizing is often skewed and does not reflect actual waist measurements.

The recommended fabric for this pattern is medium to heavy weight knits such as french terry, ponte, and sweatshirt knit with a suggested stretch of 40% – 75%. The navy sweatshirt knit above was purchased at Metro in NYC and the dark grey french terry was bought on a shopping trip in Montreal with Closet Case Files. I have found that for men you really do want to avoid lighter weight knits such as interlock as they tend to look a little more feminine.

I will not be doing a sewalong for the Men’s Hudson Pants as they are so similar to the other versions, but I will be back with some fabric and ready-to-wear inspiration in a couple of days. I hope that you are as excited about this pattern as I am. Please let me know if you have any questions. If you would like to purchase the pattern you can do so here. Use the code LAUNCHWEEK for 20% off today through this Sunday at Midnight EST.