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.

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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.

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?

Hampton Jean Jacket Blog Tour

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Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting Alina of Alina Design Co. When she mentioned that she was hosting a Hampton Jean Jacket tour, I knew joining was my only option. I’d planned to make a Hampton after seeing Leslie’s version last spring (here). When it comes to sewing, I’m a big fan of deadlines. They keep me motivated, challenged, and accountable. This tour was just the deadline I needed to whip myself into shape and get sewing.

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I selected a lovely indigo denim from Threadbare Fabrics (this one) and chose not to bleach or distress it. I did, however, decide to add my own personal touch. I’ve always been drawn, to embroidery, but haven’t taken much time to practice and wasn’t quite up for anything too complicated. When searching for inspiration, I came across this fabric and knew that’s what I wanted to replicate on my jacket.

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I’ve hand-quilted a few small quilts and pillows before, and used the same supplies and method on my center back piece (minus the batting and backing, of course). I selected two colors of size 5 perle cotton, navy and ecru. The stitching lines are 1/2″ apart, with the stitches being about 1/4″ or less. I didn’t worry too much about the stitches being perfect. I love the uniqueness that these stitches bring to the jacket. That’s the beautiful thing about making your own clothing. Even if one were to make the exact same jacket, with the same details, each jacket would be just as unique as their maker.

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Making this jacket was certainly a labor of love. I lost track of the time I spent working on it, but spent at least 15+ hours. Part of those 15 hours were spent removing wonky top-stitching, and less than stellar buttonholes. Every minute spent with my seam ripper was 100% worth it in the end. My top-stitching still has its quirks, but it’s work of which I can be proud.

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Don’t let the sewing time or details scare you from trying this pattern. I found the drafting to be impeccable, and everything lined up just right. The instructions were also full of detail and I found Alina’s Hampton Sewalong posts (here) to be invaluable when finishing some of the trickier details like the welt pockets. Finishing this jacket made me feel a bit like a superhero. I keep staring at it hanging in my closet, because I can’t believe that I actually made it. It kind of feels like discovering a superpower. Really, I owe my thanks to Alina for making a pattern that pushed my sewing comfort zone and made me feel oddly powerful. I may also owe a bit of thanks to my college sewing teacher, Lu, who taught me how to sew flat fell seams and was always encouraging, despite my obvious lack of skill.

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Just a quick note on sizing: I sewed a size 4, with my only adjustments being 1″ of length to the body of the jacket and 1/2″ of length to the sleeves.

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Now, please take a minute to check out the talented ladies also sharing their jackets this week. Then, once you’ve had your fill of inspiration, get to work on a jacket of your own. Be sure to use coupon code “HAMPTONSFORALL” for 15% off  the pattern (purchase here). Until this one, I haven’t owned a denim jacket since middle school  and am now wondering how I’d gone so long without one. I’m now convinced they’re a closet staple.

Hampton Jean Jacket Fall 2017 Blog Tour
October 9: Helen’s Closet
October 13: Well Fibre