Hey June Handmade Willamette Shirt

Every once in a while, I’ll find a pattern that I want to make over and over again. I’ll see any pretty fabric and think “Hey! that would make a great (insert favorite pattern here).” The last pattern that made me feel this way was the Grainline Studio Scout Tee. I’ve surpassed double digits with that pattern, but have been waiting to fall in love with another pattern the way I fell in love with the Scout. Enter the Willamette Shirt by Hey June Handmade. Although, I’ve since made a third version, today I’ll be talking about my first two versions.

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I’m about to say something that may sound blasphemous to some, but this was my very first Hey June pattern. I’ve had the Union St Tee bookmarked in my browser for literally years, but the my introduction to the Willamette is what finally pushed me over the edge. Last May, I invited a few of my sewing friends to join me for a sewing weekend. During that weekend I watched Sara of The Sara Project and Rachel of Little Fish Apparel each sew a Willamette. Admittedly, watching them make their versions gave me a bit of FOMO; so I immediately added the Willamette to my must-make list.

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For my first version I opted to sew view A in Rifle Paper Co. rayon. This first one took a total of 7-ish hours to sew up over the course of a few weeks. The instructions were clear, and I found the construction to be fun and just challenging enough to keep it interesting. Due to the shifty nature of the rayon, I spent at least two of those sewing hours attempting to get the placket nicely top-stitched. I must’ve redone it 3 or 4 times before deeming it “good enough.” Despite the placket’s imperfections, the busy floral does a great job hiding them.

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What I love about this version: The bold jewel toned floral makes a statement without looking childish. This rayon fabric has just enough drape to make the top feel breezy and balance out the boxy shape. I can see this top looking equally lovely paired with a skirt as it does with the jeans pictured here.

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Before I started my rayon version, I was undecided between View A and the cropped View C. I settled on View A but promised myself that a cropped version would be in my future. This cotton chambray was purchased from Fancy Tiger Crafts back in September and sat in my stash until inspiration struck. It was the end of a bolt and I only had a little over a yard and a half so I wanted to be sure that I was making the perfect selection. Once my decision was made I cut the project immediately and waited for sewing time.

IMG_2693This cropped version came together in one morning. I spent somewhere around 3-4 hours sewing this top including the time it took to feed my son breakfast and help him with his online preschool program. I’ll attribute the quick turnaround and ease of construction to a few things. First, this wasn’t my first rodeo and being familiar with the construction techniques was a real bonus as I didn’t have to spend so much time reading and rereading instructions. Second, the cotton chambray was stable and that placket top-stitching was “good-enough” on the first try. Winning! Third, the straight hem took at least 15 minutes less to press and stitch than the curved hem on View A. It’s not often that I complete a sewing project before noon so this one felt like a victory.

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What I love about this version: The stiffness of the chambray combined with the cropped length create a true boxy silhouette that I’m all about. The fabric is less busy than my first version and really lets the yoke, cuff, and collar details shine. I love the comfy, casual vibe of this top and can’t wait to experiment with styling over the summer.

IMG_2705IMG_2683Over the winter months, I didn’t get a significant amount of wear from these tops, but I have big plans to make them wardrobe staples over the summer. Now, please excuse me while I go plan another Willamette for every day of the week.

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A quick note on sizing: All versions are sewn in a size 4 with 1.5″ added to the length.

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Me Made May Week #1 Recap

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The first day of the month had me feeling really optimistic. I spent the morning with my mom and sister then took my son to his Kindermusik class. Dressed super casual on this day, partially because I could and partially because I still needed to catch up on laundry after vacation. I wore my new Helen’s Closet Avery Leggings paired with a rtw tee and Hampton Jean Jacket (full post on that here).

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05.02.18

Tried a looser fitting, relaxed look on this day. Paired my True Bias Roscoe Blouse (full post here) with some old jeans that belonged to my mom. Not sure that I really loved this look. It could have something to do with the fact that I didn’t really style my hair and makeup that day, but this look isn’t exactly the most flattering. I love both of these pieces separately, but I’m not sure that I’ll try them together again. Later in the day, I did throw my Wiksten Oversized Kimono over this outfit. It became extremely useful when I got caught in a downpour while carrying a week worth of groceries to my third floor apartment.

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05.03.18

Got together with some of my favorite sewing babes to put on a little fashion show at the Utah Quilting and Sewing Marketplace. I’ll be honest and say that my son was sick this day, so I didn’t even have  chance to get properly dressed until about 4 pm when I headed out the door for the fashion show. I wore a few different outfits in the show, but this one was my favorite. The top is my most recent make, and my third Hey June Handmade Willamette top. Paired with my brushed denim Ginger Jeans, I think this outfit or a slight variation will be in heavy rotation during the next several months.

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05.04.18

On Friday I again got to join together with my sewing pals while we spoke on a panel titled: The Case for a Handmade Wardrobe. I wanted to feel both confident, comfortable, and put together so I grabbed two of my favorite pieces. This red scuba Lodo Dress (full post on that here) is THE definition of secret pajamas. Over the last year, it has become my go-to for date nights and events because it makes me feel confident and sexy while also feeling like I’m wearing some sort of light, soft sponge on my body. I paired this dress with my Wiksten Oversized Kimono because I’m rarely seen without it these days. It’s easy to wear and the giant pockets make it functional for my day to day activities. It also feels like wearing a big blanket which works well because I’m 98% sure that I was born cold-blooded. Okay, not really. It just feels that way when you’re always freezing.

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05.05.18

Needed something easy to wear today because we had planned a busy Saturday. First, we headed to Home Depot for their monthly free kids’ building event. My son loves them and proudly displays his projects in our home. Next, we spent most of the afternoon looking at houses with our realtor and found one we loved and submitted an offer. Lastly, we headed to the local amusement park to enjoy a few rides and purchase our season passes. Paired my Chalk and Notch Farrah Top (full post here) with my first pair of Ginger Jeans (full post here) for a fun, but put together outfit. The Farrah is one of those tops that I reach for when I want an outfit to look young and playful. Feeling ecstatic that it’s finally warm enough to show off these ruffles on the regular. They don’t deserve to be covered in bulky cardigans.

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05.06.18

Took the opportunity to wear handmade with my son for church on Sunday. We’re both wearing prints designed by Anna Maria Horner because I’ll be a fan girl until the day I day. Her bold prints and colors speak to my soul and I just can’t quit her fabrics. Ken is wearing an Oliver and S Sketchbook shirt which may be my most sewn pattern. Over the years I think I’ve made nearly twenty of them. I wore a Grainline Studio Scout Tee hacked into a swing dress. This dress is one of those items that I reach for every time I don’t know what to wear. I’ve worn it to church, the amusement park, date nights, and just to the grocery store. It’s easy to wear and looks equally good paired with sandals or a bulky cardigan in the winter. It’s not my best constructed garment, but it is certainly my most worn handmade.

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Thanks for reading my weekly recap. I’ll be back next week with a recap of week 2. Kept it pretty safe for the first week, but I’m hoping to bring out some items that get less wear to evaluate during the next few weeks.

Style Maker Fabrics Spring Style Tour 2018

Hello! I’ve been anxiously waiting for this day since Michelle asked me to be part of this tour. Style Maker Fabrics is fully stocked with new arrivals. When I saw all the fabrics, my imagination ran a bit wild and I planned approximately fifty new projects. It took me a day or two to come back down to earth and realize making all of them might not be realistic on any sort of deadline. I spent about a week deliberating and finally narrowed my decision down to three projects and four fabrics.

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I know you’re supposed to save the best for last, but I’m bucking tradition here and going all in by talking about my favorite piece first. This woven stripe was love at first sight. Do you ever see a fabric and think “I need that on my body?” No? Just me? Well, that’s how I felt about this fabric. I considered some sort of button up shirt, but after scrolling through Instagram for inspiration I saw the Wiksten Oversized Kimono from issue 4 of Making Magazine (here) and couldn’t get the thought out of my head. Michelle was a great help in selecting a coordinating fabric and suggested this washed linen. They’re a match made in heaven, don’t you think?

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The over sized shape and giant pockets drew me in, but the possibility of making the kimono reversible is what sold me. If you’ve been following me for a while you might know that I like bold patterns and colors. My love affair with print and color has made my wardrobe a technicolor dream, but that does create some issues when putting outfits together. This way I can have bold, but it will also coordinate better with some of my louder pieces. I realize the over sized look isn’t everyone’s cup of tea although it is certainly mine. This is bound to get endless wear over the next few months and I envision it being my go-to on cold summer evenings.
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Next up, my latest Grainline Studio Lark Tee. Everyone has their favorite tee pattern, and this one is mine. I’ll be honest and say that I actually haven’t made any other basic tee pattern because I liked this one after the first try. I’ve made six or seven of them and wear them regularly.  I made a size 4 and in this coral jersey knit it’s my idea of a perfect fitted, but slightly slouchy tee.

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Finally, let’s talk about these jeans. These were my second pair of Ginger Jeans (see my first ones here) and was able to sew them up in just a couple of days. I used this brushed denim and comfort is an understatement (hardware kit also available here). They are unbelievably soft and every bit as comfortable as the old worn-in mom jeans that I actually stole from my mom (a bit of a tangent about those on this post). Skinny jeans and comfort don’t usually go hand in hand, but in this case they get along quite nicely. I was careful not to over fit them and they’ll be just as nice to wear for a day at the park as they will be for date night.

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Lest I lead you astray, making these jeans wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. This was my first attempt at installing rivets which ended up being a bit of an ordeal. First, I attempted to install them at home with a wimpy little hammer that promptly broke. Next, I secured a new hammer at my parent’s house and using an old skillet as a metal surface when I dented the skillet in several places (sorry mom and dad). Then, I dug through boxes and found a cast iron skillet, installed the rivets, and thought everything was complete. Upon a final pressing and inspection I noticed a few tiny holes near the back pockets. These holes were apparently made during my rivet installation fiasco and I almost cried when I saw them. For once, I decided to keep a clear head and find a solution right away. Finally, I settled upon the idea of a little visible mending. I stabilized the holes and used perle cotton to stitch the shape of an asterisk in four places. I chose to stitch four so that it would look more like an intentional design feature than a mistake that needed to be fixed. It may seem silly, but I often toss a project to the side when a mistake like this is made. The extra stitching actually adds a nice little detail and reminds me that sometimes you just have to “make it work.”

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Now that I’ve gabbed on and on about my outfit, I just want to add on a little shout out to my husband who is the real MVP when it comes to these photos. Due to a small shipping delay and our schedules, the only time we had to take these photos was in the middle of wild winds and under threat of rain. I got dressed, we hopped in the car, and crossed our fingers that we could get the necessary photos. Guys, we took these photos in five minutes. After all the photos he’s taken for me, I think we’ve finally found our stride. The threat of rain and wild winds may have been a factor in making this photo session so quick, but I’m seriously impressed that we were able to just get it done. I’ll leave you with one last decent photo of my outfit and if you scroll to the bottom there’s one that will illustrate the hilarity of our 5 minute session.

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Now, I think that I’ve sufficiently run out of words. Are you ready to shop the Style Maker spring fabrics? Find the new arrivals here. Want more spring sewing inspiration? Check out yesterday’s post by Leslie (here) or see Lori’s post coming tomorrow (here). Want to be inspired by everyone on the Style Maker Spring Style Tour? Find links to all the tour posts here.

Finally, here’s likely the only reason you read or scrolled all the way to the bottom of this lengthy post:

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Whew! You’ve made it all the way to the end? Are you ready to read more? No? that’s cool this was a huge post. Yes? Here are links  to a couple of other projects I’ve made using fabrics from Style Maker. See my Joy Jacket here or my Gemma Dress here.

Closet Case Patterns Clare Coat and a Coat Making Party

Can you believe it’s the first day of spring? I’m celebrating in unusual fashion by finally posting about my Clare Coat. Not unlike my Ginger Jeans, I’ve had the Clare Coat Pattern on my “to make” list for years. Luckily, my friends Rachel, Tiahna, and Jennifer wanted to make one as well. This last January we joined forces to host a Coat Making Party on Instagram. We were fortunate enough to work with a few generous sponsors, Riley Blake Designs, Raspberry Creek Fabrics, and Closet Case Files, who provided us with fabric and generous giveaways for participants. Without the motivation of sewing friends and our awesome sponsors, I’m not sure that I would’ve finished this coat, but I’m about to tell you why I’m so glad that I did.
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First, let’s talk about this olive green wool from Riley Blake Designs. Riley Blake was one of our sponsors and was gracious enough to provide each of us with wool to make the outer shell of our coats (see Rachel’s dark green one here, Tiahna’s pink one here, and Jennifer’s red one here). I chose this Olive colored wool and anxiously awaited its arrival. This wool is a mid-weight and seems similar to the weight of the fabric on my favorite ready to wear coat. I found working with it to be relatively easy and enjoyable. I did have a bit of trouble pressing, but this is likely due to the fact that I have a terribly cheap old iron and not an issue with the actual fabric.

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While the olive green shell of the coat is certainly striking, I think the lining is my very favorite part. Our other fabric sponsor, Raspberry Creek Fabrics, provided me with this Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel. I took a bit of a leap of faith selecting this without seeing it next to my wool and I’m so glad it turned out to be a perfect match. The flannel lining makes this coat extra cozy. It really feels like I’m wearing a secret blanket which is exactly how I want to feel in the winter. One aspect that I overlooked when planning this coat was the need for a sleeve lining that would be a bit more slippery to make the coat easier to put on and take off. I had already planned to use this black and white striped rayon challis as the lining for my Joy Jacket (see it here), so I simply added an extra yard to my order and used it to line my Clare Coat sleeves as well. I’ve found myself regularly wearing my sleeves rolled just to show off the fun striped lining.

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Now that I’ve talked your ear off regarding fabric choices, let’s talk about the actual process of making the coat. I spent four evenings preparing fabric, tiling the pdf pattern, and cutting out all the pieces to the coat. The amount of preparation that goes in to making a coat is something that I wasn’t wholly prepared for before I started this project. It likely would’ve only taken three evenings for the prep work if I hadn’t spent an entire evening tiling the pattern pieces for view b when I was supposed to be tiling the pieces for view a. How I assembled all the pieces before realizing it was the wrong view is beyond me. That is a mistake I plan to avoid in the future and a time-consuming lesson that I likely won’t forget.

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About halfway through January, I finally completed all the prep work and got down to business. These welt pockets on the front were the first and most time consuming aspect of the project. I spent my first evening focusing solely on them and despite a few minor imperfections, I think they turned out well. These perfectly-angled and flannel-lined pockets keep my hands nice and toasty when I forget my gloves (which happens almost every time I go out).

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Once the welt pockets were installed, the rest of the coat construction went rather smoothly. As a visual learner and first time coat maker, I found myself relying heavily on the sewalong (here) to understand each step. I was a bit nervous about the zipper installation, but soon found that I had no reason to worry. As it turns out, installing a separating zipper is even easier than a regular zipper. Who knew? I also got a bit confused about bagging the lining, but found it to be rather simple and magical once I followed the instructions and just went for it.

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Before I wrap this up, let’s talk for just a second about sizing and adjustments. I chose a size 10 for my Clare and because I wanted it large enough to fit over a bulky sweater. If I planned on only wearing thin layers underneath I could’ve possibly sized down to an 8, but I’m really happy with the fit of the coat as a 10. I only made one minor fit adjustment to the pattern and that was to use the full length (view b) sleeves and add 2 inches to their length.

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Honestly, January was a bit of a rough sewing month for me. I had a hard time getting back in the swing of things after the holidays and was seriously lacking in motivation. Most days I felt like sewing was more of a chore than a pleasure. This doesn’t happen regularly, but when it does I sometimes wonder why I sew. Looking back on January, I’m feeling grateful that I forced myself into the sewing room because I was able to accomplish two huge sewing goals , jeans (here) and this coat, that gave me the confidence boost needed to fall right back in love with sewing come February. Over the last few years of growth, parenting, and change, sewing has been the constant that reminds me I can do hard things, I can be proud of those things, and there’s always something to learn. In short, sometimes you won’t always love insert hobby or passion here, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. It just might mean that it’s time to push through resistance because something great is on the horizon. It also might not mean anything, I’m not claiming any miracles here.

My First Pair of Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

Jeans! The Ginger Jeans had been on my “someday I’ll make this” list practically since the day the pattern was released. Why did I wait years to finally make them? First, I made the excuse that I didn’t have time (I did have a 1 year old at the time so that was partially true). Second, I kept putting off buying quality denim. Last spring, I finally decided that 2017 would be the year I finally made jeans. I purchased the printed pattern and planned to start right away. Just a few days later, my husband was offered a great job and we decided to move.

After the decision to move, summer and fall moved quickly and I put the idea of making jeans out of my mind. Fast forward to the end of November when I received an exciting email from IndieSew. The email informed me that I had one their monthly giveaway and my prize was a jeans kit complete with 3 yards of denim and all the hardware needed for a pair of jeans. I was in the living room when I opened the email and immediately ran to tell my husband the news. I’m pretty sure he thought I was about to tell him that I’d won the lottery (which would be a bit difficult seeing as there isn’t actually a lottery in Utah). The hardware kit and denim arrived in early December. Since I had a lot of Christmas sewing at the time, I had to wait until after the holiday to get started.

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Finally, all of my excuses were null and void. I began cutting my jeans during the last week of December. I was all ready to finish a pair of jeans before the end of the year until my husband and I both got sick. After getting sick, it took me about a  week to get my sew-jo back. I was finally able to complete this first pair of jeans by the second week of January.

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First, Let’s talk fitting adjustments:

After taking my measurements, I determined that my hip was about a size 12 with my waist measurement sitting somewhere in between a 10 and 12. I decided to cut a 12 and adjust from there. I am about 5’10” and because of that, usually need a bit of extra length in the rise. I added 1/2″ to the rise and 2″ to the length of the legs. I added the leg length by adding 1″ at the lengthen/shorten line and 1″ below the knees. Once I made these initial adjustments, I basted everything together to check the fit.

I should’ve taken some photos to better document the fitting of these jeans, but I clearly didn’t quite have the foresight to do that. After my first baste fitting, I had a few major issues. First, the waist was gaping by about 1″ at the center back. Second, I had a a decent amount of extra fabric making lots of wrinkles under my bottom. Third, the legs were just a little too big. Here’s what I did to fix these areas:

  1. To fix the gaping at the center back, I took out a small wedge at the center back of the yoke. I drew a line that started 1/2″ away from the top of the center back and angled to the bottom of the center back yoke. I trimmed the yoke pieces along this line and then sewed everything according to the pattern instructions. FYI: this is definitely not the proper or recommended method, just what worked for me personally.
  2. To fix the excess fabric below my bottom, I followed the tutorial under the “Extra Fabric at the Seat and Thigh Pull Lines” header on this post. I know it says the adjustment is no longer necessary with the current file, but I did have a paper version of the pattern which may or may not be updated.
  3. The legs being slightly big was the easiest adjustment of all. Instead of using a 5/8″ seam allowance on the side seams and inseam, I simply used a 3/4″ seam allowance which seemed to remove the excess just fine.

I can’t say that my adjustments were all necessarily done the “right” way, but they seemed to work out just fine and I’m really happy with the overall fit of these jeans. Although the fit isn’t 100% perfect, they’re still the best fitting jeans I’ve ever owned and that’s a win for me.

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I know I won’t be the first person to tell you this; but after fitting, the construction was actually pretty easy. Thanks to my Lander Pants (here) and the two jean jackets (here and here) I made over the last six months, I was quite prepared when it came to topstitching and some of the other skills needed for these jeans. The actual sewing of these jeans came together quickly and took probably 6 hours or less. In fact, I was able to sew up my second pair in two days (more about those coming in a few weeks). Sure, a fly zipper can be intimidating (Until these jeans, it had been years since I last inserted one. I honestly didn’t find it any more difficult than a lapped or invisible zipper.

Overall, I found this jeans making experience quite rewarding. I’ve been wearing these non-stop and suddenly want to make all the jeans.  I have online shopping carts full of denim from at least three different fabric stores and just can’t decide which pattern or denim to use next. I keep kicking myself for waiting so long to finally make a pair of jeans.

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Have you made jeans yet? If the answer is yes, awesome! How did you feel about them? If the the answer is no, what’s stopping you? Is it the fitting (read this post)? Is it the construction intimidating (follow this sewalong)? Are you just nervous about the in-depth knowledge of your body shape that comes with sewing jeans (read this post)? I’m not saying you HAVE to make jeans, I’m just saying that I’m happy to be your cheerleader if and when you do. Now, go make some jeans, or pat yourself on the back for that pair you’ve already made.

All photos in this post were taken by my friend Kim of Sweet Red Poppy. She found this studio with the awesome pink wall and now I don’t want to photograph my makes anywhere else.

Joy Jacket by Chalk and Notch

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The Chalk and Notch Joy Jacket. Wow! What a pattern! I’m not entirely sure what I can say about it that hasn’t already been said. I’ve been anxiously awaiting its release since last October when Gabriela shared a preview on her IG (here). Following her post, I immediately set out to source my ideal fabrics. After a couple months of searching and indecision, I found this rayon/poly blend twill from Style Maker Fabrics. I’ve always been partial to jewel tones and this fabric was practically calling my name. It has a soft, lovely drape and smooth hand. It was fairly easy to work with as compared to a rayon challis and working with it was similar to the difficulty level of working with a lawn or voile. As someone who primarily works with prints, my only issue was differentiating between the right and wrong sides during assembly.

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As mentioned above, I regularly work with prints. While I wanted a solid colored outer shell, I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to line my Joy with a print. I waffled back and forth between using a bold floral or a simple stripe and eventually decided on this black and white stripe rayon challis from Raspberry Creek Fabrics. Since I plan on regularly wearing this jacket unzipped, I wanted a lining that would be a complement to my somewhat bold wardrobe. I love this lining so much that I also used it to line the sleeves of my Clare Coat. I have nothing but good things to say about this fabric (and that amazing price). The only caveat is that I did have to take a few breaks when cutting the lining pieces because those tiny stripes were a bit hard on the eyes after too much concentration.

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While sourcing fabric was really only made difficult by my indecisiveness, sourcing the hardware  was a bit more difficult. I ordered my zipper from Zipperstop on Etsy (they also have their own website, I just had an Etsy gift card to use). I liked having the option to order a zipper in 1″ increments instead of being forced to buy the standard lengths available through most retailers. Find the specific listing I used here. I believe the color of this zipper is 530 which is not an exact match for this fabric, but certainly close enough.

When it came time to purchase grommets I just picked up these brass Dritz brand ones at my local JoAnn Fabrics. I can’t speak to the durability of these as I’ve only had this jacket for a couple of weeks at this point, but installation was quick and painless. I mean, really? Why did nobody tell me installing grommets was this simple? I would’ve started adding them to projects years ago.

Want to make sourcing hardware simpler? Gabriela will soon be offering a pre-order for hardware kits in several popular colors. I’ll be sure to update you when that’s available.

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Now let’s talk about the making of this jacket:

Since I had completed a Clare Coat one week before tackling the Joy, I wasn’t too nervous about making another piece of lined outerwear. I also have full faith in Gabriela’s drafting and instructions and knew I was in good hands. Don’t let the prospect of a lined jacket intimidate you though, the steps are clear and well written.

Honestly, cutting took me longer than the actual jacket construction. There are quite a few pieces to the Joy Jacket which contributed to the longer cutting time. Due to a bit of (manageable) chronic pain in my right hand, I had to take frequent breaks from cutting and took my time over the course of three evenings.

Once I got going, the jacket came together rather quickly. I did have some trouble with the pockets due to tension issues coupled with late-night sewing mistakes. While cutting took me three evenings, sewing only took two. I’m a very hands-on/visual learner and, because of this, sometimes have difficulty understanding written instructions. Thankfully, the pattern includes helpful diagrams all along the way. If you feel you need more help, Gabriela is also planning a detailed sew along set to begin next month.

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Now that I’ve pretty well said my piece, can I take a minute to mention a few of my lovely sewing friends? Several of us got together and pitched in to rent a photo studio for an hour for these photos. The photos in this post were taken by my friend Kim of Sweet Red Poppy and I really feel like she’s some sort of photo wizard.

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We were also able to get some photos of our Joy Jackets together. The photo below is one of my favorites and will probably end up on my bulletin board in my sewing room. My sewing friends have been a true joy and lifeline over the past year and I feel pretty dang lucky to have them in my life. If you want to read more about their Joy Jackets, read Tiahna’s post here, Tami’s post here, and Rachel’s post here.

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Have you heard enough about the Joy Jacket yet? No? If you haven’t already, Head over to Leslie’s post (here) to read more about this patterns origins. Grab a tissue, you might need it.

Want to win a copy of your own? Leave a comment below about what fabric you’d use for a Joy Jacket. Want an extra entry? Check out my most recent IG post about this jacket and follow the instructions in the caption. Winner will be announced on Saturday the 24th.

My Son’s Jean Jacket and Tips for Working With Ottobre Patterns

Hello! I hope you’ve had a lovely holiday season. Today I’d like to share something that I made for my rambunctious four year old. You might recall that I made a Hampton Jean Jacket (here) back in October. My son almost immediately requested one of his own asking for “shiny buttons” just like mine. The boy was in luck because I had just a little over a yard of  Cone Mills denim (purchased from Threadbare Fabrics) left over from my jacket. Since my sewing queue was a bit full of Halloween sewing at the time, I promised him  a custom jacket for Christmas. I was able to pull it off just in time as I hammered the jeans buttons in place on Christmas Eve.

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I attempted convincing my son  to select some unique details for his jacket, (a different color of topstitching thread, different embroidery on the back, etc.) but he insisted that it be exactly like mine. I’m soaking in all these moments when he still thinks my style is cool because I’m sure those feelings are somewhat fleeting.

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You may notice, however, that there are a few details that vary from my jacket. These are all small details such as the absence of welt pockets, the jacket front pockets being sewn to the outside instead of the inside, and bias tape on the inside of the collar. These are all differences between Alina’s  Hampton Jean Jacket pattern and the Ottobre pattern used for my son’s jacket.

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Coming across the Ottobre pattern for my son’s jacket involves a bit of serendipity. I had been searching for a children’s jean jacket pattern, but hadn’t quite settled on one when my friend Lisa asked if I would like to have some of her old Ottobre magazines. I said yes and she brought them to our Modern Quilt Guild meeting the next day. I started to flip through them when I saw the back cover for issue 1/2011. This was exactly the pattern for which I had been searching.

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Ottobre is a well-known name in the sewing community so you may have heard of them. Ottobre is a Finnish company specializing in children’s wear patterns. They produce 5 magazines a year containing children’s clothing patterns as well as a special Ottobre Woman issue. In 2017 they also added an Ottobre Family issue bringing their grand total of issues to 7 each year. You can order both subscriptions or individual issues, although I’m not sure how easy it is to come by the older issues. Each issue is jam-packed with fun and stylish patterns. The specific one I’ve used here contains 40 different patterns. As you may have guessed, the sheer volume of patterns included comes with a few drawbacks.

First, in order to fit all the patterns on just a few pieces of paper, they are printed overlapping and on both  sides of each paper (see first photo below). I managed to make tracing bit more manageable by grabbing a permanent marker and my trusty Pattern-Ease (more about that here). I used the permanent marker to outline the correct size pattern pieces (see second photo below). This made tracing a bit easier on my eyes.

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Second, you have to add your own 3/8″ or 1 cm seam allowances. This isn’t a difficult step, just takes a bit of time.

Third, the instructions can be a bit sparse as each pattern only gets half a page of instructions. This specific limitation might be the most intimidating of the three. My recommendation for this is to select a project with techniques you have previously used. In my specific case, this worked out well because I had already made a jean jacket and was familiar with the top stitching, and other details associated with one. I actually used Alina’s Hampton Jean Jacket sewalong to help me clarify and understand some of the Ottobre instructions.

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Overall, these drawbacks added a bit more time to the project, but none of them would keep me from using another Ottobre pattern. The interesting style lines and endless variations on children’s basics mean I will likely turn to them again and again. I also love the fact that Ottobre makes a decent amount of patterns for boys. I’m sometimes discouraged when it comes to sewing for my son because the indie pattern world is largely dominated by patterns for women and girls.

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I’ll leave you with few more notes about my construction process. Every bit of my leftover yard of denim was used to make this jacket. This resulted in a serious game of pattern tetris as I worked to fit each and every piece. Cost-wise this was a relatively inexpensive project (less than $10) as I only purchased buttons and topstitching thread.  I sized up a couple of sizes in the hopes that my son will be able to get lots of wear out of this jacket. Another concession I made was to use mock flat-fell seams in order to save a bit of seam ripping and time.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this jacket as a present for my boy.  I do however, plan to wait a year or two before making another jean jacket because two within few months was a lot of work. Thanks for reading! Did you gift any handmade items this year? What did you make for the holidays?