Catching Up: Unblogged Winter Projects

Hello, 2017. I’ve been off the blog radar for a while, both because we moved into our new house at the beginning of the year and because I am pregnant. I’m currently baking a very active little monkey who is due at the beginning of September. Unfortunately, I spent the first part of the year laid out with morning sickness and exhaustion. But I’m feeling better and have put the Spring semester to bed, which has given me lots of sewing and knitting time again.

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Our house!

I’ve been sharing things on Instagram as I finish them, which briefly led me to consider giving up the blog altogether and just sharing things on IG. And then as I started to plan out some future projects, I was reminded of how often I consult my own blog for project notes and details. More than anything, this blog is a very handy, searchable project journal for me. Sometimes, it feels time-intensive and onerous to take blog pictures and write up all of my notes for a blog post, but remembering that I consult those posts often as a reference makes it feel more worth it—especially since I can’t easily replicate that kind of record-keeping on Instagram.

All of that is to say that I’m going to try to catch up on all of my unblogged projects because it bothers me to not have any concrete details recorded. So here’s a big dump of the projects I finished over the winter:

Stowe Bags

Small Stowe Bag in Quilting CottonLarge Stowe Bag in Linen Blend

I made myself two Stowe bags to use as knitting project bags. These are my second and third versions of this pattern–I made my first version about a year ago. I’ve only recently started using project bags for my knitting. Somehow, it took me 10+ years to see the benefit of keeping my projects protected from cats that want to ruin everything. I made a small bag out of some Cotton + Steele quilting cotton and a large bag out of a medium-weight cotton/linen blend I had in the stash. I used packaged bias binding for both.

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For the small bag, I flat-felled the side seams, finished the bottom seam with a zig-zag stitch, and boxed the bottom corners. I was worried that quilting cotton would feel too light for this bag, but I really like the finished result. For the large bag, I serged all the edges and pressed the seams open, which helped manage some of the bulk. I also did the last step in the instructions where you tack the bottom corners of the bag down to help stand on it’s own when it’s full. It’s kind of a bulky finish, but I appreciate the added structure it gives since the size and fabric make for an otherwise floppy bag.

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Halifax Hoodie the Second

Last September, I made a Halifax/Brooklyn hoodie mashup that I’ve been wearing all the time. Just before Christmas, I made a second Halifax Hoodie using some super-soft sweatshirt fleece I bought from Girl Charlee. This time, I made View D with the kangaroo pocket and the funnel neck. I sewed up a straight XL. It’s not worth modeling for you now that I have a belly that distorts the fit, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that the fit was spot-on and very comfortable. I wore this piece constantly this winter and can definitely see myself making this pattern again and again, especially since it has so many options.

Striped Hey June Halifax Hoodie

Leggings

Definitely not a very exciting project, but I’ve made a few pairs of leggings using the #9 Classic Black Leggings pattern from the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Ottobre Woman (Ottobre 05/2016). I’ve previously made the Sammalikko leggings pattern from an earlier issue of Ottobre and found that they were too long in the legs, had a bit more ease than I would like, and needed some adjustments to the crotch curve and rise. These leggings, however, fit perfectly right out of the gate—right length, great fit, and super simple to sew since there is only one pattern piece. My pre-pregnancy hip measurement was ~45.5”, so I sewed a straight size 48.

Ottobre Woman 05/2016 Classic Black Leggings

My only struggle was with figuring out the right length for the elastic. It turns out that the ideal, for me, is cutting the elastic so that it is the same length as the width of the waist (in other words, cutting it so that I don’t need to stretch the elastic at all while I’m sewing it to the waistband). I forgot about this when I made myself a third pair of leggings months after the first two pairs and ended up with a waistband that is tight enough that I think I’m going to need to rip out and redo the elastic. See—this is why I need project notes on my blog. One last note: I think the instructions recommend making a traditional waistband casing and then threading the elastic through. This is unnecessarily tedious for leggings. I used my serger to attach the elastic to the waist, then folded the elastic down and secured the waistband with a zig-zag stitch.

Zelda Pouch

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This was a super simple project that Aidan requested at the beginning of December and that I finally made up for him sometime in February. This little pouch also has the distinction of being the first item I made in my new sewing space. I drew on the zipper instructions from the Petal Pouch pattern (which I made several times over for Christmas gifts last year), but otherwise based the dimensions on the size of the pattern repeat in the fabric. Aidan keeps a bullet journal and uses this to hold his pen stash for journaling, so this has been in regular use since it was finished.

And that brings me up-to-date on everything I finished before Spring Break, so now I’m only two+ months behind on blogging. Progress!

Top 5 of 2016

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I know I’m a little late, but decided to write up a Top 5 of 2016 post at the last minute. This year, I think I managed to sew one pair of kid’s pajamas, six pairs of leggings, eight tops, two sweatshirts, one cardigan, three pairs of pants, three Stowe bags, and six zippered pouches. I also knit five pairs of socks, two pairs of fingerless mitts, one cowl, one scarf, two Christmas stockings, two toddler sweaters, and finished up one adult sweater that I started the previous year. Oh, and I crocheted a tiny cat. Here’s the year in review:

Top 5 Hits

Overall, I’m really happy with the things I made this year and ended up wearing nearly all of them regularly. But these are the five garments that I have enjoyed most–I wear them constantly and feel good in them.

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  1. Black Ginger Jeans
  2. Striped Halifax Hoodie (I’ve actually made another version of this pattern that I may love even more)
  3. Vogue 8909 Lounge pants
  4. Purple Sweater Knit Muse Jenna Cardi
  5. Black bamboo Concord Tees

Top 5 Misses

I’m lucky in that I didn’t actually have five misses–just a few projects that didn’t work out.

2016-misses

  1. Thread Theory Camas Blouse: I was really happy with this when I finished it, but didn’t wear it much because it didn’t really feel like my style. I’ve realized that I just really hate gathers like this top has. They just feel too feminine for me.
  2. Ottobre Blue Fog Top: I’m really sad to call this one a miss since it is another shirt I was really happy with when I posted about it. But the zippers are kind of an awkward feature and it just didn’t fit into my life. It is too casual for me to wear to work but felt more fussy than I wanted to deal with on the weekend. Actually, neither this shirt nor the Camas blouse fit me anymore anyway, so they will be donated in the hopes that someone else enjoys them more than I did.
  3. Jalie Eleonore Jeans: Blech. Bad fabric. Pull on jeans. Weird Fit. I hate these and never wore them but I’m glad that they made me feel brave enough to tackle my Ginger Jeans.
  4. (Not Pictured) Butterick 6378, View C: This was my only wadder this year. The fabric that I was working with was really cheap and shifty, making it difficult for me to sew well and frustrating the hell out of me. And then when I tried it on before attaching the sleeves, I remembered how much I hate the way gathers look on me. Abandoned due to seething anger.

Top 5 Highlights

2016-highlights

Two of my 5 highlights: Our trip to San Francisco and officiating my friends’ wedding

  1. In May, we spent a week in San Francisco with our friends and godson. It was a great trip where our friends graciously played tour guides and took us EVERYWHERE.
  2. At the end of June, my youngest sisters (who are 14 and 16) came and spent a week with us in Cincinnati. It was a little challenging to entertain teenagers, but we had a lot of fun, and it was nice to get to know them better as young women.
  3. In October, I had the honor of officiating my friends’ wedding. I was so nervous I would screw it up, but everything went well and it was such a great way to be part of their special day.
  4. Immediately after the election, I was lucky enough to get to escape to Montreal for a few days to attend a feminist conference with my friend. We had a great conference, ate Montreal bagels, bought some yarn souvenirs, drank beer and knitted in the hotel lobby, and processed our post-election feelings together. It was a lovely little trip.
  5. And finally, Aidan and I found a house to buy! We close later this week and we’re moving in the week after. I can’t wait!

Reflections

honorable-mentions

Some honorable mention projects: My Dumpling Kitty, the Cotton + Steele Stowe Bag, and one of the Wonderful Wallaby Sweaters I made for my nephews for Christmas

  1. I spent almost the whole year in a weird knitting funk. I knit very sporadically and, frankly, didn’t enjoy the a whole lot of what I did manage. I’m not sure what was up–if I was picking the wrong projects or it just wasn’t my year as a knitter–but it all made me feel kind of twitchy and unsettled. Luckily, it seems to be over. I think playing around with some nicer yarns has brought me back to the joy of the process.
  2. At the beginning of the year, I bought myself a serger and I am completely in love with it. It’s made simple knit projects a lot more enjoyable and made more complex projects like jeans feel slightly more manageable. I held off buying a serger for a long time and I am so happy that I finally went for it.
  3. I feel like my sewing has gotten noticeably better this year. My projects are turning out better overall, my technical skills are more precise, the fit of my garments is better, and I feel like I’m finally developing stronger instincts about pairing fabric and pattern. Basically, sewing has started to feel a lot less clumsy and more natural for me, and I think that’s being reflected in the things I’ve been making.
  4. I benefitted a lot from sewing in smaller, more regular chunks of time. This was actually one of my goals from last year’s post. I didn’t always keep up with it–I had a couple of periods in the year when I really wasn’t sewing at all. But when I did regularly make time for ~30 minutes of sewing a day, I got a lot done and I feel like the quality of my work improved.
  5. A lot of my clothes don’t fit–nearly everything I made last year has been donated and about half of what I’ve made this year doesn’t fit either. The experience of having whole chunks of my handmade wardrobe out of commission because of fit has changed my project planning for the better. Before, I was concentrating on making basics and trying to make as much of my clothes as possible. The result was a lot of boring projects and an overwhelming to-do list. When I got to the point where I had to acknowledge that I was making something that might not fit in a few months, I started picking projects based on what seemed interesting (stylistically or technically) in the moment. It made for more enjoyable sewing and for garments that I really liked wearing, even if I don’t get to wear them for years.

Goals for 2017

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  1. Set up my new sewing space. In our new house, I get a dedicated studio space that is big enough for all of my sewing stuff and still have room for a desk for when I work from home. I’m looking forward to getting it all set up and organized.
  2. Make a sweater for Aidan. Aidan has been wearing the Ranger cardigan I made him a few years ago and has requested a second sweater. This time, he wants a cabled pullover in a softer yarn. I’m planning to make him Jared Flood’s Svenson sweater (pictured above) and intend to start swatching a couple of different yarn possibilities later this month.
  3. Try some new yarns. I used a lot of budget yarns when I was in grad school, and while they aren’t bad yarns, I think I’m burnt out on them a bit. Experimenting with some different yarns in the last couple of months has done a lot to get me inspired about knitting again, so I plan to keep it up.
  4. Do some cross stitching. Counted cross stitch was my first craft–my earliest memories of cross stitching are from when I was in kindergarten. It’s something I’ve done on and off since then. This year, I’ve got a couple of specific projects in mind that I’d like to make. I’ve bought the patterns and fabric and already made a good start on one of them.
  5. Make a quilt. It might be a small quilt, but I’m interested in trying some quilting this year. I kind of suspect that it’s not the kind of thing I’ll really love, but who knows?

Here’s to a new year of making!

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2016

I ended up making way more gifts this year than I have in a long time. It’s not because I have any desire to foist handmade stuff on everyone on my list or that I think a handmade gift is the best kind of gift. It’s really more that I hate Christmas shopping and I’m not particularly good at gift giving. Frankly, making gifts is kind of nice way to give someone something kind of generic like a hat or a scarf but in a way that feels highly personal. Yes, it’s just a hat, but it’s a hat I knit in my pajamas while I rewatched Battlestar Galactica and drank a beer. Also, that mark right there might be melted chocolate from the fistful of Reese’s Cups I was eating at the same time. How much more personal can we get? Anyway, here’s this year’s gift roundup:

Star Bellied Wallabies

Wonderful Wallaby with star pocket

Pattern: Wonderful Wallaby

Yarn: Plymouth Encore Worsted in Light Gray, Neon Orange, and Neon Blue

Recipients: Our twin toddler nephews

Notes: This is one of my favorite patterns–so cute and wearable. I made the size 2 but added an inch to the length of the body, sleeves, and hood. I also charted out a star to add to the kangaroo pouches, which I knit using intarsia. I love how they turned out!

Modern Classics Christmas Stockings #8 and #9

Modern Classics Stockings

Pattern: Modern Classics Christmas Stockings

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Cloud and Aurora Heather

Recipients: My in-laws

Notes: This is now the eighth and ninth time I’ve knit up this pattern. I mixed the charts from the “Modern” and “Classic” stockings like I’ve done every other time. This is, frankly, not one of my favorite patterns to make but they are at least quick to make. And that’s good, because I’m more or less locked into making these for all future family members on my husband’s side.

Ballydesmond Mitts

Ballydesmond Mitts

Pattern: Ballydesmond

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in Summer Sky Heather (for the blue pair) and Malabrigo Rios in Sandbank for the brown pair

Recipients: The blue pair went to one of Aidan’s co-workers and the Malabrigo mitts were for my sister, Kayla

Notes: This is a great pattern. It comes with instructions for making these in either a sport or a worsted weight yarn. I kind of prefer the way the sport version looks, but the worsted version knits up super fast. Either way–they’re easy and they look great.

Honey Cowl

Honey Cowl

Pattern: Honey Cowl

Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in Aguas

Recipient: My sister, Jenna

Notes: I’ve made this pattern once before for myself, and it’s a very soothing and meditative knit. Sadly, I got about 60% through the cowl before realizing that my skeins were noticeably different from one another so I ended up ripping back and alternating skeins. The final product is definitely worth the extra work, but it put me under a bit more time pressure than I would have liked.

Petal Pouches

petal-pouches

Pattern: Petal Pouch Pattern from Noodlehead

Fabric: various quilting cottons

Recipients: Three of my sisters–Sarah, Grace, and Kayla–and my dad’s girlfriend, Jess

Notes: I was inspired to make these after my youngest sisters visited us this summer. They are both big into sketching and drawing and carried all of their art supplies around in ziploc bags. Maybe that’s just their preference, but I thought these pouches were cute and practical. There are a thousand free zippered pouch patterns available online, but I’m glad I went ahead and bought this one. It’s not just the unique shape that makes it worth the purchase–as a novice bag maker, I feel like I learned some really useful techniques that will make any future pouch-making much easier and give me a nicer result. I really love how these pouches turned out. I even used some of the leftover skull print to make a small version of the pouch for myself.

So that’s Christmas 2016 wrapped and gifted. Now back to making things for me.

Season of Socks

The end of the fall semester is always the same: things get bananas around mid-October and don’t let up until final grades are turned in and in the fray, I stop sewing and start knitting in overdrive. Knitting is my stress craft and the second half of this semester has been especially stressful. The silver lining is that after spending nearly a full year in a full on knitting funk, I’ve managed to knit seven Christmas gifts and three pairs of socks in eight weeks. I’ve also picked my Mireille pullover up again, remedied a too-short body and corrected some questionable waist shaping and actually started knitting the sleeves. I’m hoping to get that sweater done soon, but for now–the parade of recently finished socks.

Ribbed Trekking Maxima Socks

This first pair is one I knit for Aidan, and are knit in 2×2 rib like nearly all the socks I make him. The yarn is Trekking Maxima in the Black Multi Twisted colorway. Several years ago, I made Aidan a pair basic socks like these in some Black Tweed Knit Picks Stroll. They are his favorite socks, and I have never been able to make another pair that quite competes with the black tweed socks until these. So it should only be another six or seven years before I hit the magic sock jackpot and produce another favorite pair of socks.

Malabrigo Sock BFF Socks

I’ve been meaning to try Cookie A’s BFF sock pattern, and I’m glad I finally did–I already have another skein of yarn earmarked for a second pair of BFFs. For this pair, I used a skein of Malabrigo Sock that my mother-in-law bought me for my birthday. This colorway is Candombe.

BFF Socks Close Up

Malabrigo Sock isn’t my favorite for socks. Since it’s 100% merino, it doesn’t wear as well as a wool/nylon blend. I originally started knitting this up as a shawl, but I realized about half way into it that I was never going to wear a scarf in this colorway. It’s lovely, but it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of my wardrobe. So I decided to go with socks and, so far, the yarn is holding up much better than the previous times I’ve used it for socks.

 

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I made the final pair of socks using the Fika pattern, which was published in the Spring 2015 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. It uses a twisted rib cuff and has a contrast garter toe detail, which was the real selling point of this pattern for me. I don’t love the heel that this pattern uses, but it’s great otherwise. The primary yarn for these is Knit Picks Hawthorne Kettle Dye in Blackbird, and the toe detail is some leftover Knit Picks Stroll Brights in Pickle Juice. This is the first time that I’ve used Hawthorne. It’s a much sturdier sock yarn than Stroll–less soft and more tightly spun. As far as sturdy sock yarns go, it’s not quite as nice as something like Trekking or Patons Kroy, but it’s good (especially for the price) and it wears really well.

So those are the socks I’ve finished sort-of recently. Shots of all my Christmas knitting to come shortly!

 

 

 

Ogden Cami

I officiated a friend’s wedding at the very beginning of the month. It ended up being a fun experience, but the lead up was kind of nerve-wracking. I was worried that I would either 1) ruin my friend’s day by putting together a shoddy, awkward ceremony or 2) end up looking like a fool because I don’t really go to weddings and thus have no sense of what people wear to them.

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Proof that I did the thing.

The question of what to wear was complicated by the fact that I do not wear dresses or skirts, which seem to be the wedding guest outfit of choice for 97% of women. And if you try to seek out pants-based wedding outfit ideas for women, you mostly get pictures of tragic mother-of-the-bride pantsuits, which was definitely not the look I was going for. In general, anything more formal than, say, a Friday night dinner at Olive Garden is a little outside my comfort zone. My life is 100% casual so occasion dressing as a concept is more or less a mystery to me. For awhile, I figured it would be easiest to make myself something to wear but I gave up on that idea a couple of months ago when I realized that it’s kind of impossible to make sewing plans when you have no sense of where to even begin.

So I ended up doing the shopping thing, which remains one of my least favorite activities in life. But after trying on anything that seemed remotely appropriate, I ended up finding something I liked a lot. And, of course, multiple people asked me if I made my outfit, which is a thing that never happens in my day-to-day life when the chances that I’ve actually made what I’m wearing are significantly higher.

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A rare photo of Aidan and I dressed up.

The only handmade item I wore to the wedding was this Ogden Cami. I didn’t make it specifically for the wedding—I’ve had this project planned since the pattern was released—but I did move it up to the top of the queue once I’d purchased my wedding clothes and recognized the danger of potential movement-related button gape with the shirt. I finished it the night before we left and was thus safe from flashing any bra peeks at any point during the event.

True Bias Ogden Cami

I’ve been looking for a camisole pattern that is not cut on the bias for a long time, and that’s primarily why I bought this pattern. But I also appreciate that it’s finished with a partial lining, which I found easier and cleaner than something like a bias facing. Overall, the pattern was really straightforward and makes it very easy to get a nice-looking garment.

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A shot of the inside–this is the back partial lining

The most challenging aspect of this project was simply dealing with my fabric, which is a very light, very soft rayon. It was described online as a “viscose rayon challis” but feels more like a rayon voile to me. It’s the first time I’ve sewn with something so light and so shifty, so it took some experimenting to figure out how to get the best stitch results on my machine (65/9 universal needle/straight stitch foot/1.8mm stitches, in case you were curious). Because the fabric was so light, I used French seams on the sides, so the inside all looks quite nice.

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I didn’t do much to adjust the fit. My bust and waist measurements put me right between a 14 and a 16, so I just cut between the lines for those two sizes. True Bias drafts for a C cup, and my current pattern cup size is between a C and D, so I didn’t bother with an FBA, but I was still a little concerned that there might not be sufficient length at the front and on the front lining to cover my bust. So I added an additional ½” to the center front of both pieces, blending to nothing at the sides. The cami looked a bit on the short side to me, so I also added 1” of length to the body.

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All in all, this is one of those boring-to-look-at and impossible-to-photograph projects that I’m really glad to have in my closet. It’s useful, it feels and fits much nicer than the cotton layering tanks I’ve been wearing, and I don’t have anything else like it right now. This isn’t the kind of garment I’m likely to wear on it’s own, but I could probably use another one in a lighter color for layering.

True Bias Ogden Cami

Let me know if you want me to officiate your wedding. I have a fancy outfit from Kohl’s and have been ordained by the internet—only the best for your special day.

Muse Jenna V-Neck Cardigan

I like sewing with sweater knits but, as a knitter, they also make me feel like I’m cheating. So I think of this, affectionately, as my cheater cardigan–made over the course of two days rather than the two (or more) months it would take using yarn and needles.

Muse Jenna Cardi

This is the Muse Patterns Jenna Cardigan. I made the hip-length version with 3/4 sleeves and used the Jenna Expansion pack to get a v-neck, which is my preferred cardigan neckline. I’ve been planning to make this cardigan for a long time, and for some reason, I built this pattern up in my head as being a bit challenging. But, in reality, it’s very easy to put together and really only takes a bit more time than a basic t-shirt.

Muse Jenna V-Neck

I knew I would need the size 40 for the shoulder, but I didn’t want to have to do an FBA to get enough room across the bust so I went with the cheater FBA (appropriate for my cheater cardigan) and blended out to the size 42 at the armscye. I ended up significantly slimming the sleeves and the sleeve cuffs–I took 2″ out of the sleeve cuffs and an inch from either side of the sleeve opening, tapering to nothing at the top of the sleeve seam. But other than initially floppy sleeves, I’m really happy with the fit on this pattern. I think the only adjustments I’d make to the pattern the next time around would be removing some of the sleeve cap ease and lowering the point of the v-neck just a bit.

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The fabric I used is a really soft cotton-Spandex slub sweater knit that I bought last year from Fabric.com. The little bit of Spandex means that it has good recovery, which means that this shouldn’t bag out with wear. It’s pretty lightweight and similar to my two most-worn cardigans, which I wear year round on all but the coldest of Ohio winter days. My other cardigans are black and gray, so I’m glad to have an option that is an actual color. I sew with so many neutral fabrics that this is the first time I’ve ever used something other than black or gray serger thread.

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I used this project as a reason to finally figure out how to sew buttons on using my machine. It worked well (and was not at all difficult to figure out) so I’ve now succeeded in making my most-hated finishing task that much faster and easier. So this project is a win all around!

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Brooklyn to Halifax Hoodie

Would you be shocked to know that Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams was one of my childhood heroes? Of course you wouldn’t be shocked. I mean–just look at this hoodie.

Hey June Halifax Hoodie

This project actually started it’s life back in May as the SBCC Brooklyn Hoodie. The Brooklyn has a relaxed, classic fit that just didn’t play nicely with this fairly limp, unstructured cotton French Terry. (Also, I’m not sure I get the deep love for French Terry as a fabric. People seem to praise it for being really soft, but this fabric doesn’t seem extraordinarily so–at least not more so than sweatshirt fleece. Plus it sheds everywhere. Maybe it’s just that I prefer body over softness in a fabric?) Of course, I didn’t realize that the fabric and pattern were a poor match until I’d cut everything out and sewed the body together.

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Earlier this month, I decided to see if I could salvage the fabric by recutting the pieces using a more fitted pattern. I decided to use View C of the Hey June Halifax Hoodie pattern. I was able to cut the Halifax fronts and back from the already-cut front and back pieces and then had enough extra fabric to cut the sleeve pieces for the Halifax.

Hey June Halifax Hoodie

Because this was a salvage operation, some of the details on my hoodie are different than they would appear if I had made the Halifax pattern as drafted. My hoodie is shorter through the body since it’s cut to the length of the Brooklyn. I also used the pocket, hood, sleeve cuff, and hem band pieces that I had already cut out using the Brooklyn pattern, adjusting them slightly as necessary to make them work.

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But where it counts in terms of fit–through the body and the sleeves–this is the Halifax Hoodie. Since I wanted something fairly fitted, I went with a smaller size than my measurements would recommend. My current measurements (for reference: Bust 41″ and Hip 45.25″) would put me around a 1x according to the Hey June size chart. Based on the finished measurements indicated on the pattern, I cut a straight XL. I’m fairly happy with the final fit, which is very similar to the fit of an Old Navy hoodie that I wear all the time.

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My only complaint about this pattern is the number of pattern pieces that call for being cut on the fold. I hate when relatively small pieces like sleeve cuffs are meant to be cut on the fold, especially since you need to cut 2. The sleeve is also cut on the fold, which is one of my pet peeves–not just because it would be infinitely more convenient to cut both sleeves at once but even more so because sleeve caps with symmetrical fronts and backs don’t tend to fit that well. You can see that there’s excess fabric at the front sleeve cap–something I’d probably try to get rid of if I made this pattern again. I also printed the pattern piece for the cowl neck since I was considering making up View D or E with another piece of fabric. The cowl neck actually has two “cut on fold” lines that run perpendicular to each other as though you are supposed to fold your fabric in quarters and cut the cowl that way. I mean, I didn’t and wouldn’t actually follow those instructions–I just traced the pattern piece, flipped it over, and traced the other side. But it’s still annoying that the pattern pieces are organized that way. I’d much rather print a few extra pages than have so many “cut on the fold” pieces.

Hey June Halifax Hoodie

Still, I’m happy with how this one turned out and even happier that I was able to save a project that nearly ended up in the trash. I feel like it’s a sign that my sewing skills and confidence have increased.

Pacific Leggings and McCall’s 7386 Tank

Behold, my third pair of black pants in a row. I made a pair of lounge pants, then a pair of jeans, and now: activewear. And it’s activewear meant for actually being active in–I promise that I have not worn these pants while laying on the couch or while doing my weekly grocery shopping.

Sewaholic Pacific Leggings and McCalls 7386

These are the Sewaholic Pacific Leggings. I made view C, but added two inches to the bottom of the leg to make them more of a cropped length rather than capri length. I also added the yoke pocket from View B.

Sewaholic Pacific Leggings

My current waist and hip measurements match the size 14 almost exactly, so I cut a straight 14 and made no pattern adjustments beyond lengthening the leg a bit. Overall, I’m really happy with the fit for a first go with this pattern. My only issue is that I’d like the waistband to sit a bit higher. I sewed the waistband with a smaller seam allowance to give myself a bit more height and while the rise is high enough to wear comfortably, next time I’ll add an inch to the rise of the front and back pieces.

Sewaholic Pacific Leggings

The fabric is a black poly/Spandex activewear knit I bought from Fabric.com. It’s a nice medium weight that is very shiny on the right side and a bit more matte on the wrong side. I decided to use the matte side of the fabric as the right side since I’m not into shiny pants. I wanted to try to highlight the seaming on the pattern, but didn’t want to do something like top-stitching in a contrast color. So for the outseams and the waistband seam, I decided to serge the seam wrong sides together, press the serged seam to one side, and then top-stitch it down. The result is an exposed seam finish that looks a bit like a faux-flatlock stitch. I just used a straight-stitch to top-stitch the seams to one side, and it is surprisingly stretchy. I’ve pulled these on and off multiple times and moved around a lot in them and haven’t had any popped stitches.

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I wore these on a long hike this past weekend, and they were very comfortable. It’s been many years since I owned activewear other than cotton-spandex yoga pants, and these leggings are infinitely nicer than anything I’ve owned before. The waistband fit is perfect for me. I usually have a hard time keeping any kind of elastic waistband from sliding down my hips but this waistband fits firmly and stayed in place throughout our hike.

Sewaholic Pacific Leggings and McCalls 7386

I also made the tank top I’m wearing here. (Although please ignore my embarrassing farmer’s baseball spectator tan, acquired during an intensely sunny Reds game over Labor Day weekend.) I’ve been looking for a basic tank top pattern that does NOT have a racer back, which is surprisingly hard to find. I ended up buying McCall’s 7386, which is a “learn to sew” pattern with options for a basic knit tank, skirt, and tank dress.

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I cut a L for the upper body and blended out to an XL through the waist and hip. The tank top, as drafted, is pretty short, so I added 3″ to get a low-hip length. I had to take a small wedge at the side seam under the arm to get a better fit in the armhole, but otherwise the fit is good. The pattern has a shaped back seam, which gives a close, curvy fit through the back. It’s a nice detail to include on a very basic pattern like this.

McCalls 7386

The pattern instructions call for finishing the armholes and neckline with a simple turn-and-stitch hem. I wanted a more professional-looking finish so I tried the skinny knit binding method described in this post from Sew Fearless. I pretty much followed her tutorial, although I didn’t fold the binding under as I sewed. I’m just not that coordinated. Instead, I pinned the binding in place so I could just focus on making sure my topstitching was even. This is probably the nicest finish I’ve managed on a knit top to date, and the skinny binding is definitely a technique I’ll use again.

Skinny Knit Binding

The fabric I used is a cotton/rayon/Spandex jersey I got from Girl Charlee at the beginning of the year. Their jerseys can be a bit hit or miss and this is one of the nicer ones I’ve bought–super soft, lightweight but not sheer, drapey but not clingy.

Overall, I’m really happy with both of these pieces. I’ve been hiking and walking enough recently that I should probably be making more things like this!

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Black Ginger Jeans

Hey, look — I made another pair of black pants. So novel! This time, I made what I think of as real pants with a real waist band that I can feel comfortable wearing outside of my house. (I do not give a shit about what other people wear in public, but I do not feel fully dressed without a non-elastic waistband.) This is my first pair of Ginger Jeans, which I had originally planned to make as part of the Outfit Along. I missed the deadline and the sweater I planned to make with these still isn’t done, but who really cares?

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

To parrot what so many other sewing bloggers have said before: I was a little anxious about taking on this project, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. The sewing was very manageable, and top-stitching is incredibly satisfying. I can see many more pairs of handmade jeans in my future. And yes, it kind of blows my mind that I was able to make a pair of jeans.

I had actually started to get a little bored with sewing because I was playing it safe and only choosing boring projects. It was nice to get that slightly obsessive “must get back to the machine!” feeling with this project, and it ended up being a bit of a breakthrough project. I’ve had lots of more complicated patterns that I’d like to try, but didn’t feel competent enough to take on. Sewing these jeans got me over that mental obstacle.

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I made the skinny leg version of the pattern, altering the high-waisted version to be a mid-rise per the instructions in this tutorial. I started with a size 18 (for reference, my current hip measurement is 46″ and my waist is 34″). I also added 1″ to the center back rise through a full seat adjustment (should have added a little less, I think) and removed 1″ of length from the legs above the knee. After my basted fitting, I ended up sewing the outseam with a 7/8″ seam allowance and slimmed the legs a bit more. I also moved the back pockets in by 1/2″ on either side, although I think I would have been better off moving them in a bit more.

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I used a black stretch denim I got from Fabric.com. It’s a cotton/poly blend with a little more poly content than I would like. The wrong side of the fabric definitely has a synthetic feel to it, but the right side has a really soft, brushed finish. The fabric has a lot of stretch, but it seems to have really nice recovery so I’m hoping these don’t bag out a lot with wear. I used quilting cotton for the pocket lining and added the pocket stay, which is a really nice feature.

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I used the denim for the waistband facing and didn’t use any interfacing at the waist. The waistband application is probably the thing I’m least satisfied with on this pair–I used my edge-stitching foot to try to ensure even top-stitching, but it just kind of dragged the fabric down and stretch it out a lot so I ended up with a rippling waistband. I was able to mostly steam it back into shape, but next time I’ll use my walking foot.

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I think the next time I make this pattern, I’ll also experiment with using the pocket lining fabric as the waistband facing since I could use a slightly more stable waistband. I’ve also seen people use elastic as a kind of interfacing at the back of the waistband to keep it from stretching out over time, which is something else I might try at some point.

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For my first pair of jeans and my first time using this pattern, I’m pretty happy with the fit I got–I’ve never had a pair of jeans that fit this well at the waist. And I feel like it will be fairly easy to keep tweaking this pattern to get an even better fit. I need to shorten the front rise next time–I think that’s why I’m getting wrinkles at the front. It’s a bit hard to see at first because of the stiffness of the interfaced fly front, but I can actually pinch out about 1″ of excess fabric from the front rise. I wouldn’t want to alter the shape of the skinny leg, but if I were making the straight leg version, I would probably also do a wide calf adjustment.

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I’m pretty sure that I also need a knock-knee adjustment. In a post on common jeans-fitting adjustments, Heather from Closet Case Files referred to the knock-knee adjustment as the cutest sounding fit adjustment. That is a sweet thought, but it does not feel very cute to me. These jeans and their knee wrinkles are bringing some latent knee insecurities to the surface. It’s weird–I make lots of different fit adjustments for many unglamorous reasons, but the idea of having knock knees kind of messes with my head.

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This picture shows the knee wrinkles in their truest form. I have now analyzed many pictures of myself in pants and found that I consistently have this cluster of wrinkles pointing at my inner knee. For the sake of comparison, I have also analyzed pictures of many other sewing bloggers in pants and found that their knees look quite different than mine. Even allowing that you may likely end up with some wrinkling at the knee in skinny jeans to allow for movement, most of the skinny jean knee wrinkles I’ve seen run horizontally and don’t come to a point like mine. I think the knock-knee thing is evident in my stance too. If I “zip my thighs together” like so many yoga instructors are fond of saying, my knees come together and I naturally end up with about 3″ of space between my feet. And if I try to force the inner soles of my feet to touch, it is physically painful because my kneecaps are essentially fighting one another for the same space. And yes, I see that this all makes very public the crazy amount of time and energy I’ve given to contemplating my knock knees.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

Anyway. I respect my knees and acknowledge that I cannot change them, so I will just start making a knock knee adjustment part of my regular pants-fitting repertoire. In the meantime, I’m happy enough with how these pants turned out to keep wearing them, and I’m already excited about making the next pair.

Vogue 8909

I have not been particularly inspired to sew this summer. I think I pretty much stopped sewing around mid-May and haven’t done much of anything in my sewing room until this past week. I haven’t done much knitting either. I had a brief burst of knitting activity in June where I managed to finish the body of a sweater. Since then, I’ve knit a single sock. I don’t particularly like summer weather or warm weather clothes, so it’s not a very inspiring season for me. Plus, I’ve kept fairly busy this summer–traveling, entertaining houseguests, finding new places to hike, reading a lot, teaching a summer class.

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At the very end of July, I finally got around to cutting out the Ginger Jeans I said I was going to make for the Outfit Along. (Obviously, I didn’t meet the deadline for the actual OAL, but I’ve made progress on both garments and will finish them eventually.) But when everything was cut out and ready to do, I realized that what I really wanted to sew at the moment was something simpler–I wanted a gentler reintroduction to the whole process. So I pulled out Vogue 8909 and sewed myself up an easy pair of lounge pants.

Vogue 8909

I made View A, which uses ribbed cuffs to finish the pant legs. The fabric is a heavyweight cotton jersey I bought awhile ago from Girl Charlee. I think it was one of the designer exclusive that they have from time to time. It has minimal stretch and feels a lot like the jersey used for something like a Hanes Beefy T. The ribbing is the cotton ribbing they sell at JoAnn’s, which is a little on the heavier side so it works well with a heavier fabric like this jersey.

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I started with the XL (my current hip measurement is 46″). I did a quick tissue fitting to check the length of the rise and ended up shortening the front rise by 1.5″ before cutting out the pattern. I did a basted fitting after and decided I could use a bit more length in the back, so I let out the yoke seams at the center back–I started sewing on the side of the yoke that meets in the center back using a 1/4″ SA and then gradually tapered back to the recommended 5/8″ SA by the time I reached the side seam.

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I was pretty pleased with the fit on these out of the envelope. I experimented with a couple of different crotch curve adjustments during my basted fitting, but none of them got me a better result than sewing that pattern as is. The only problem I had was that once I had completely finished the pants, I realized that the bottom of the legs was too wide and baggy. The cuffs were about 3″ too big and the legs didn’t really look tapered at all–the result was a pair of pants that looked less like joggers and more like a pair of weird sweats that had shrunk to high-water length in the wash.

I ended up unpicking the cuffs (which I sewed on using a lightening stitch and then serged to finish, all in black thread–it took FOREVER to get them off) and recutting them to the measurements for the L. I then tapered the leg to also be the same measurement as the L at the leg opening. I’m much happier with the resulting fit through the legs. I looked at a lot of reviews of this pattern, but no one mentioned problems with the width of the cuffs/legs. I think it is likely one of those plus-size grading issues where all parts of a pattern get graded up equally despite the fact that plus size bodies aren’t proportioned that way. In other words, having wide hips does not mean you have the ankles of a severe edema patient, no matter what the grading formulas think. So if you are thinking about making this pattern in an XL or XXL, be mindful of the width of the lower leg.

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This photo shows some of the design details on this pattern–it has a back yoke and forward seams with inseam pockets. The front is finished with faux-fly topstitching (which I did not get a good picture of). The waist band is a 3-channel fold-down waistband that has elastic in the top and bottom channels and a drawstring through the middle. The yoke gives a better fit than your standard elastic waistband pants, and all the other details kept this from being a completely boring sew and make the finished pants look a bit more polished.

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I’m really happy with how these turned out–they fit well, they are easily the most comfortable pair of pants that I own, and while I am not one to go out and about in sweats, I appreciate the fact that I now have at least one pair of lounge pants that are decent enough to be worn out of the house on a quick errand.

Now that I’m back in the sewing swing of things, my Ginger jeans are officially underway. I just finished my basted fitting so it’s on to the actual sewing!