xxx ooo

a place where my heart feels the safest

xxx ooo
Halloween sewing is over, and it’s time to make a bunch of wonderful things for little people!

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
Shown here: “Vesper”, a four-piece ensemble I was inspired to make based on the baby-blue eyes of this lovely little girl I know. I wanted something in winter colors – here, bluebird, deep cherry, periwinkle, and ivory.

Some sewing-pr0n pix:

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
I made little “fins” out of the interfaced jacket wool, just because. The shell of the hat is a novelty Halloween knit in olive, burnt sienna, bluebird, black, and fuschia. The hat’s cuff is in a jersey knit matching the sweater dress, and the hat is lined in the same periwinkle bamboo the leggings are made of.

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
The sweater dress was actually the inspiration piece for the whole outfit! Now, there is a time for using a serger, but… to be honest… I rarely use mine. I love the hand-finished look of (in this case) traditional zig-zag. The nubbly sweater knit is very light and semi-sheer. You definitely want a onesie under this gear!

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
The coat… a Christmas coat in a deep cherry 100% wool, flecked with ivory. Bright red snaps that match the rayon/linen pocket lining and the slipper satin jacket lining. Have I mentioned how much I love slipper satin? It is one of my favorite linings to work with – and it feels wonderful!

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
How tiny can I make double-welt pockets? PRETTY DERN TINY! Do babies use pockets? THAT IS NONE OF YOUR CONCERN! I am always improving my welt pocket prowess. These were made using grosgrain ribbon which allows for a very firm welt.

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
OOPS I lined the coat with faux fur! A minkee (I think) to be exact. I’m not sure where or when I got this fur – it was in the last year – but it is so very soft. It’s also very rugged as babies – let us be fair – are pretty messy!

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
A very tiny bit of high-end sweater knit – I had hardly any left after making Phee a sweater last May – finishes the cuffs of these entirely-reversible bamboo leggings. No seams whatsoever to irritate baby’s skin. Finished at the waist with a three-step zig-zag:

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble

So… I was just wondering, was that baby cute? Maybe take another picture to see:

Smiling Babe!
Um – yup!

This ensemble is on Etsy, where a steady trickle of sales has helped us keep food in the fridge. And today I’m finishing my next baby ensemble, for a little boy. Stay tuned!

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

preppy like that!

As mentioned last post, across the internetz many (mostly)lady-bloggers are sewing up a batch of boy patterns for a blog tour of the designs. The patterns are all PDF indie designs, have a wonderful size range of 3 months to size 16, and they are all featured on an extended sale until the first. I was honored to be asked to participate. The 25th I submitted my first entry. Today, I bring you: 

The Letterman Jacket!

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

So for today: I am The Letterman Jacket by Fairytale Pattern Design. I’ll be discussing them here and in my Flickr tagset.

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

The pattern: if you think about it, a Letterman jacket is a simple garment (certainly simpler than the last jacket I made). What makes it iconic and beautiful are the fabrics used, the details (the distinctive ribbing and collar or center back zip hood), and the patches. Almost any raglan jacket could be easily changed to a letterman jacket. That said, it is wonderful to have a simply-drafted pattern and it was easy for me to modify it for a facing and lining. This particular pattern comes in size 4T to size 16 (please please please let a client request a wee 4T) – a generous size range.

 I made a size 8 in girth and a size 12 in length for my lean green bean boy! I also hand-knit cuffs, hem band, and neckband:

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

 

My welt pockets are perfect! Exactly no one is surprised. That said, some fabrics are far more lovely to work welt pockets in – and melton wool is definitely in that category:

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

 

Finished with a wonderful gold slipper satin and antique brass snaps:

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

And one of my favorite bits: a custom chenille patch:
Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

All in all, a successful venture with a very simple, trusty pattern.

Letterman Jacket (Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour)

You can learn more about the Bundle Up pattern package below – or visit all the blogs that are showcasing the different patterns. Y’all know I tend to draft my own stuff, but these patterns are pretty fabulous and most of them have a great size range. Enjoy!

 

“…are more questions of coat and waistcoat than some people imagine.”

Two Fabrics, Felted Yarn

I have a hard time imagining ANY of you have some free time this holiday season – although this earnest part of me hopes a few of you do. If any stitcher reading here is inclined, I wanted to announce I am currently taking Kenneth D. King’s class, “The Carefree Fly-Front Coat” on Craftsy.com (I bought the class when it was on sale for $14.99). Since I’m sewing the coat, I am also available to help anyone else who wants to take the class.

Even if I wasn’t available for assistance, the class itself is great for the following reasons:

#1, the tuition includes Vogue 8841, a classic, easy-to-sew coat pattern. The pattern itself is anywhere from $6 to $20, so this is a great value.

#2, you draft most of your own pattern pieces (using just a handful of the original pattern’s pieces), which is a great way to get used to HOW exactly to do this.

#3, This is truly “tailoring at its simplest, and finest”, to quote the instructor. You will learn plenty of non-threatening but very valuable sewing skills which can be applied to many, many different garments!

#4, Mr. King is a wonderful teacher. He is not only clear and concise, he is a pleasure to watch – and to chat with, as he is very available via the classroom comments!

Vogue 8841

A few caveats. I would definitely consider the Craftsy class for intermediate stitchers – or beginners who have an accomplished seamstress helping them. None of the skills needed are “over my head” but, for instance, a beginner who does not know how to properly align grain, cut fabric, alter patterns, and sew perfectly accurate seam allowances will likely not end up with a great coat.

If anyone here is taking the class and wants any advice on fabric selection, et cetera, please post in the comments. I’m happy to help!

DIY: Sewing An Awesome Fucking Blazer

Phee

As promised: some detailed notes on sewing up a lined, underlined blazer with patch pockets. This garment is one of my favorite things to sew (obviously!). Check out those crisp lapels!

Collar/Lapel

& the wee, tiny lined breast pocket! I AM DYING HERE!!1!

Best Breast Pocket, Ever!

OH SHIT lambswool elbow patches with yellow topstitching LIKE A SIR

Elbow Patches: Upcycled Sweater

My kids wear these blazers until they are far too small and quite shabby from all the extensive use. Last summer when I tried to get rid of a jacket – originally fashioned for my daughter, worn a billion times by both children – my son howled and attempted to climb in the clothing donation bin after it. I had to promise to make him another coat just like it. Which I’ll be doing here pretty soon, for the summer.

At any rate, here are a few notes and pictures about constructing such a garment. I’d love to teach this as a course somewhere but, barring something like being picked up by Craftsy, the clientele is just not where I live so this ain’t gonna happen.

Choosing a pattern design, pattern, fabrics, supplies, & notions

Sometimes the pattern dictates fabric choices; sometimes it’s the other way around. Each choice influences the other, so in that respect we learn best by experience – ours, or that of experienced stitchers.

In this case, I chose my pattern first. I drafted a three-button blazer pattern, sort of a Frankenpattern based on design elements I enjoy. This garment features a two piece sleeve and a center back seam and front waist darts, which gives a slightly more fitted, less boxy shape. It also features three lined patch pockets and a full lining. Here is the front piece of the jacket, which includes markings for facings, buttonholes, darts, and pockets:

Front Piece Markings

It might look a little tricky, but honestly this front piece is the only garment piece that has anything tricky about it.

Fabrics

Fabrics & Supplies

(clockwise from upper left: shell fabric, underlining and lining, oval lambswool elbow patches, three buttons, interfacing, silk organza for bound buttonholes)

Shell: I used a wool blend for the shell. It has a lovely tweedy houndstooth weave, making for a great texture. However, the weave is quite loose and this needs to be considered throughout all steps of construction. To wit: 1. straighten the grain before each cut, 2. twice-finish seams, and 3. handle each garment piece carefully while you sew!

Underlining: I used a firm-weave quilter’s cotton for underlining, and underlined only the front and back pieces (not the sleeves). Underlining is one of the single best things you can do for a garment – especially a jacket. The fabric used needs to be lighter weight than the shell fabric, and with a firm hand and solid grain. If you have any questions about underlining, please put them in the comments!

Lining: children’s garments need linings that are slick (for ease of wear) but also quite sturdy, as my kids will immediately climb eighteen trees in their new coat. I used a polyester fashion fabric from Jo-Anns with a nice floral pattern –  shown here at lower-right.

Fabrics

Interfacing (for collar, front facings, jacket and sleeve hems): Inerfacing can be thought of as a way to add some firmness and structure to parts of the coat. It keeps collars and cuffs looking crisp; I also enjoy using it along the jacket and sleeve hems, on the shell fabric, as shown:

Interfacing At Hem

This adds a wonderful, crisp, rugged nature to the hems.

I use Pam Erny’s interfacings. They are worth the little bit of trouble to order them, and Pam provides excellent support in purchasing and using them. If you don’t prepare interfacings properly, you can ruin a garment. Ask me how I know this!

Extras: wool for elbow patches, silk organza for bound buttonholes. The wool came from a thrifted-and-felted 100% lambswool sweater. These kinds of things make great elbow patches and are worth keeping around.

Needle, thread, other notions
I use a Sharp needle for the shell and the lining, at appropriate needle size (16 and 10 resp., in this case). I use Mettler 100% polyester thread. For working with the knit elbow patches: a stabilizer. I use Sulky’s Fabri Sticky-Solvy which comes in very handy for all sorts of projects involving knits.

Sewing machine
A straight-stitch machine is all that is needed; in addition, a serger or zig-zag machine helps for seam finishes but is not necessary.

Cutting, marking, underlining, & interfacing

I cut and mark as I go piece by piece, using tailors thread tacks, especially if, as in this case, the fabrics are prone to raveling and will not tolerate notch-snipping.

In this case, I underlined the body of the garment, minus the sleeves. I marked the shell, underlining, and lining darts on all pieces (six total) using thread. I marked the RS of the shell for the three patch pockets and buttonhole locations. I interfaced the jacket and sleeve hems and then carefully pressed at the hem (as shown above).

Finally, I interfaced the WS of the shell for pocket positioning on the three patch pocket locations.

Sewing darts, staystitching, bound buttonholes, & elbow patches

I sewed darts in shell, underlining, and lining; then I basted underlining to shell and treated the two pieces as one piece:

Basting Underlining

I staystitched the back neckline facing and back lining neckline, as these are two curves that need to be joined and can be a little tricky (Normally, I would trim & notch this seam after I sewed it, but given the loose-weave of the shell fabric, I decided not to risk this.)

As for bound buttonholes: there are many methods to create these; I won’t detail those here. They are best done early in the process of the jacket, before proceeding with shell construction.

Elbow patches: a pattern that includes this feature will also include where to place these patches. However, my children are almost always getting a major length adjustment in their sleeves, so I find my own placement. This is easiest to do by sewing the uppersleeve and the undersleeve together, then pinning the final sleeve seam and placing it, carefully, on the recipient.

Elbow Patch Placement

Elbow Patch Placement

I marked the elbow patch location, unpinned and removed the sleeve then placed it flat on the table. I pinned the patch in four places for stitching. In general, the center midline, lengthwise, of the patch should be parallel to the grainline of the garment.

Elbow Patch Placement

Now: stitchinz! I used a goldenrod thread and two rows of stitching, in a narrow zigzag.

Stabilizer, For Lambswool Elbow Patches

You will note the elbow patches have a wash-away stabilizer attached to them. This is to keep the soft 100% lambswool knit from stretching while I applied the patches to the sleeve. It worked perfectly; it also helps my Pfaff has an IDT system (*yawn, casual brag-stretch*).

Lining & shell construction

I like to make the lining before the shell for a number of reasons. For one thing, linings are oddly tedious to construct, and it gets it out of the way. For another, this is a great way to do a fit check on the client (note: my front facings are overly long; I usually design a little extra there as I finish my jacket hem and lining by hand).

Checking Fit, Using Lining

Checking Fit, Using Lining

The shoulder-width is one of the more important fit considerations on my tall, slim children. Remember, the neckline will be 5/8″ shorter (or whatever the seam allowance is) against the neck.

While seam-finishing isn’t necessary on most linings, I like to do so for extra sturdiness. I used a serger for all seam finishes.

Finishing Seams

Here you can see the aforementioned staystitching at the back neckline facing, as well as the pressed and finished seams:

Seam Finishes: Serged & Pressed

Finishing

I then created the patch pockets and applied them to the shell. I like to make lined pockets, and then attach by a fell stitch. One can always go along and topstitch the pocket, but the fell-stitch allows for perfect placement and will keep the lining from peeping and showing.

I cut my pockets on the bias because I think bias pockets look great. Warning: this can make for pissy pocket construction. If you aren’t pretty familiar with working with bias pieces, first attach a very lightweight interfacing to the WS of the piece you’ll use for bias-cutting, then proceed.

Here are the three pockets, shown at various stages of construction, before being trimmed, turned, and stitched closed:

Lined Pockets

I used a sturdy whip stitch to close the pocket:

Lined Pockets

Finally – topstitching along the garment hems, opening, and sleeve hems adds sturdiness to the garment. I used a triple-stitch to give the right bold topstitch look; you can also use a heavyweight thread if you like. If you don’t use a heavier stitch or thread, the garment fabric may swallow up the effect. Topstitching is an art in and of itself!

Topstitching With Triple-Stitch At Cuff

Collar/Lapel

***

All done! I suspect I will make many more blazers in my time. They are so versatile, can be dressed up or down, and can be made in all types of materials and different weights, depending on the needs of the garment!

And for now, my daughter is all ready to sit in bookstores reading Raymond Chandler graphic novels & looking awesome!

Bookstore Hipster

please support your local stitcher, there aren’t many of us doing our thing

Buttonholes / Tailor's Tacks

I’ve been sewing lots. Here are a few pieces:

First, Peter’s Retro Shirt (listed at Homesewn).

Peter's Retro Shirt

Loop!

Just these last couple days I’ve worked up Winter Wool Pants #001 and #002 (#003 are on the way!):

Happy Pants

Belt Loops

They are beautiful pants – wool, and lined in silk – designed in every way for comfort, ease of movement, and durability. If your kids are as active as mine, I guarantee these will be a quick favorite.

So. Tomorrow through Sunday I am going to have a booth at the Schafer Meadows Fiber Festival, hosted at the Elma Fairgrowds. It would mean a lot to me if any locals reading this would stop by and talk to me and see my stuff. I’ve worked my tail off to create a booth and put together some literature on what I’m about and what my portfolio entails. The Fiber Festival is amazing in its own right, with all sorts of local talented artisans (mostly knitting, wool, spinning, carding, crotcheting-based) coming out of the woodwork!

The hours of the event are Friday, Noon – 5pm; Saturday, 10am – 5pm; and Sunday, 11am – 4pm.

I thought a lot about buying a space at my first-ever trade fair, or whatever you want to call it, as I am not able to make the time commitment of a full-time business but I definitely would enjoy more exposure. My current goals as a seamstress include pursuing my craft with all my heart, being able to purchase and explore higher-end fabrics and materials, making parents/carers and their children deliriously happy over their most favorite garment of all time (Phoenix put on the brown pair of wool pants – lined with silk and built with knee gussets and a low-bulk super-soft waistband! – and said, “These are MARVELOUS pants. You should make every kid a pair!”), stretching myself creatively, finding a community of garment-makers (quilters and crotcheters and knitters abound), and sharing my skills with those who appreciate them (including teaching!).

Anything you can do to support me is appreciated. It’s hard out here for a stitcher, competing with massive corporations, sweatshop labor and the abuse of environment and peoples for the bottom line. True also that many would like to experience the joy of learning how to create – but so few make the time.