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.

new house

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.

IMG_8926

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.

IMG_8930

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

IMG_0251

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!

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.

Vogue 8909

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.

IMG_8683

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.

IMG_8680

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.

IMG_8681

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.

Vogue 8909

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!

Ottobre Woman 02/2015 “Gym and Sport” Sweat Shorts

I do not wear shorts and yet here I am, modeling a pair of shorts for you on my blog. These are the Gym and Sport Sweat Shorts from Ottobre Woman 02/2015. Since I do not have actual gym or sport needs, I think of these more as my “lounge and laze” shorts. (Actually, I did wear them once on a walk but my thighs don’t play well with shorts and there was enough ride-up action for me to consign these to at-home only status.)

Ottobre Gym and Sport Shorts

As far as lounge and laze shorts go, these are supremely comfortable, and I’ve been wearing them a lot since I finished them. I was drawn to this pattern because of the details—the ribbed waistband, the decorative raw edges, the top-stitching, the front patch pockets. I had fun sewing these up, they were a good way to practice some new techniques, and am happy overall with the way they turned out.

Ottobre Gym and Sport Shorts

However, since I suspected these were going to end up being exclusively for hanging around my house, my bar for what was “good enough” for these shorts in terms of the fit and some of the aesthetic details was a little lower. I would have preferred a different color ribbing, maybe blue or purple, but I had the black on hand and wasn’t willing to go out of my way to get something different. The fit in the back isn’t ideal—I have some wrinkles at the back thighs, although they are still very comfortable while wearing so I just let it be. The position of the back pockets isn’t ideal but I also think the proportion of the back pockets is off. I actually enlarged both the back and front pockets to account for the fact that I graded these up a couple of sizes, but I think the back pockets still need to be a bit larger.

Ottobre Gym and Sport Shorts

I would have made more adjustments if this had been a pair of pants that I was actually wearing out of the house, but again—these are good enough to meet my “lounge and laze” standards. I confess that I also decided not to press these before taking blog posts. I just couldn’t bring myself to iron the wrinkles out of what are ostensibly pajamas. Life is too short.

Ottobre Gym and Sport Shorts

As far as fitting goes, I started a muslin for this pattern before I left NY, although the fabric I used had slightly more stretch than my fashion fabric so the muslin wasn’t as useful as it could have been. Before starting my muslin, I graded the pattern up by two sizes, added some extra width to the waist, and added about two inches of length to the legs. Then based on my muslin, I ended up raising the center back by about an inch, removed a two-inch wedge from the center front, added 3/8″ to the front inseam and added about 5/8” to the back inseam. I also enlarged the pockets by about 3/8” on all sides to make them more proportional to the size I had graded to. During sewing, the last fit change I made was to peg the legs of the shorts a bit to keep them from flaring out too much.

The main fabric is a medium-weight cotton blend sweatshirt fabric from Girl Charlee, and the ribbing is a rayon-spandex blend that is a medium-weight but also kind of flimsy. A ribbing with more body, like a medium weight cotton ribbing, would have been ideal but again—I just used what I had on hand. The instructions called for making your own drawstring, but I wanted to use black cotton twill tape instead. I didn’t have quite enough twill tape so I cut the length I had in half and attached each end to a length of ¼” elastic. The elasticated drawstring is nice because it doesn’t cut in when I sit down. The pattern also calls for grommets for threading the drawstring, but I just put in some buttonholes. Good enough.

This is my second Ottobre Woman pattern (my first was the Faded Stripes top from the same issue), and I’ve got three lengths of rayon jersey sitting on my ironing board that are all set to become tops from various Ottobre Woman issues. Ottobre Woman isn’t flashy but it’s pretty perfect for me—casual styles with clean lines. So expect to see more Ottobre soon.

I can only imagine that there are neighbors near by and this is my “mind your own damn business” face.