I have been sewing–slowly–but not many new patterns, and I’m not someone who likes to review patterns I’ve already reviewed unless I did something substantially different. And there’s not a whole lot of gaps in my wardrobe to fill right now, so not much need to sew.
One thing I have been trying to make more of lately is pants for work, hence these:
They are swishy, they are magenta, they are linen/rayon. In the magazine they made them up in cashmere, but I thought it best to try it out in something a little less expensive (but still wearable) first. This is the second pair I made; the first version, in rayon twill, is just a smidge too stiff for the pleats. Also, since the pattern has a belt, I made the whole thing up in a size 40 thinking I could just cinch it in. And I can, but it doesn’t look right or feel right with everything hanging from the waist tie, so I don’t recommend that. The twill pants I do still wear, but not as much as I would have liked to.
The linen/rayon blend is much drapier, and I cinched in the waist by about an inch on this version, so it can actually stay up on its own without hanging off the belt, and that helps. The linen/rayon is from Needlework; the magenta was pretty popular and went fast but I think this was the only cut to end up as pants.
The pattern goes together well; it’s a side zipper rather than a fly, so it’s not time consuming, as pants patterns go. I stabilized the pocket edges with selvedge from a scrap of pink poly chiffon, so it is both very thin and very stable. And I did my now-standard buttonhole-on-the-inside-of-the-pocket trick to make it more functional to wear with an insulin pump.
They’re … not slimming. That would be my one cautionary note, if it matters to you. Otherwise it’s a good pants pattern that makes work-appropriate and comfortable pants with a few fun details. I’m not sure if I’ll use my cashmere on these (are they too trendy? Will the pleats and bow be unwearable in a year or two?) but I enjoyed making these ones.
In Burda, according to the their body measurement chart, I should be making pants up in a size 40/42. For the first pair, I made a straight size 40, which was too big in the waist. For the second pair, I made a 38/40; this is my usual Burda size, and it fit just fine.
I’ve done something a bit mad, and I’ll talk about why I’ve done this to myself more in another post, but for today I’ll just tell you what it is:
I’ve committed to creating, hosting or participating in one public Climate Change event connected to each of my hobbies, ideally before the Canadian election in October but if that can’t be arranged ASAP.
Sewing was first: two small workshops held at Needlework here in Hamilton, using scrap fabrics to make small climate action banners and support the youth strikers, while I spoke a bit about what the climate emergency is and how it connects to our much loved hobby.
I’ve put it all together in this post as a toolkit that you can take to your favourite local sewing space and do yourself (or with a friend!).
With the climate crisis being so much in the news, and the UN climate conference coming up again, and a federal election being faught over the carbon tax–and with Greta Thunberg and the youth strikers asking for adult support and participation in the Sept 20 and 27 climate strikes–wouldn’t it be great if an unexpected community like crafters and sewers were to speak out in support of climate action? We could fabric scraps, I suggested, and maybe piece them into a banner for the shop window or the protests–or people could make their own–or iron slogans on t-shirts, or make tote bags–or, I don’t know, what do you think?
Fortunately Kate and Liz were super enthusiastic and supportive and had the much better and easier idea of using fusible web to make banners, but yes, out of scraps. And I’d talk a bit about climate change while we all make our masterpieces, and we’d raise some money for a local environmental group, and in short, it would be fabulous. Liz and Kate did most of the work: making the blank banners, setting up the event on their website, and collecting donations. (A huge thank you again!)
After everyone arrived, Liz and Kate gave a basic introduction to the event and a how-to on the fusible web. Attendees brainstormed a slogan, sketched it out, and started tracing and cutting. About an hour in, after everyone had their slogan planned out and was focused on getting it done, I jumped into my talk.
It was very short–just a few minutes–and we were all working on our projects at the same time, so it was very informal.
Afterwards we kept chatting while we finished up our banners.
Do any of you remember seeing the headlines about “twelve years left to save the planet” from a year ago? And if you do, how many of you feel like you have a really solid understanding of what that means? What is it we had twelve years left to do, and what happens if we don’t do it?
Here’s the basic rundown:
If we want to be reasonably sure that the planet can continue to support human civilization in something mostly like what we’re used to, we need to limit total warming to 1.5C.
We’ve already experienced 1C of warming, so there is very little margin left, and the global carbon cycle is so slow that what we’ve already emitted will get us to 1.5C some time this century whether we continue to emit carbon or not.
That sounds bad, yes? So when global leaders met and signed the Paris Accords saying they would try to limit warming to 1.5C, it led straight away to the question: ok, great, but how?
The IPCC commissioned a study on that question: how do we do this? CAN we do this? And about a thousand climate experts from around the world collaborated on putting together the information that came together in last October’s report. What they concluded was:
If we cut emissions roughly in half by 2030
And completely decarbonize by 2050
And then go into NEGATIVE emissions in the second half of this century
We have about a 66% chance of keeping warming to 1.5C, though we may overshoot it for part of that time before negative emissions have an impact.
That twelve years is how long we have to cut our emissions in half. Of course right now emissions are still rising, so that’s a big challenge.
AND! It will affect our beloved hobby, too. Let’s talk a little bit about how: we’re sitting in a space where just about every product started out as a plant on a farm, and which will be affected by a changing climate. Textiles and fashion have environmental implications beyond climate of course, like water use and transportation and fertilizers and chemicals during processing and dyeing, but I’m going to limit myself to climate impacts today because that’s what we’re here for.
Climate change—impacts on cotton:
higher temps a mixed bag, depending on geographic region and how close they already are to upper tolerance levels
drought, storms, all decrease yields
yields in some countries already declining
during the 2011 Texas drought, 55% of cotton fields were abandoned
even in low-warming scenarios, yields in America expected to decline 30-46%
solutions include GMOs for heat and drought tolerance, using more wild varieties and cultivars that tolerate extremes better, and changing farming practices to better conserve water etc. Even so, yields will almost certainly decline.
So there you go. Everything in the world, including this shop, affects and is affected by the climate crisis.
And of course, it’s not just textiles, is it? If it were, we might be less concerned, though I personally have no interest in living in a global nudist colony.
Reports on climate impacts expected for Hamilton this century include: more extreme weather events, more precipitation in the spring, winter and fall; more drought in the summer; more ice storms; more extreme heat, leading to an anticipated 2 months or more of extreme heat every year by the 2080s ; more invasive species; new pests and diseases to our region (like Lyme disease).
At the same time, these impacts are going to be worse for vulnerable and marginalized communities: women, racial minorities, people with low-incomes or disabilities, are all going to feel the effects more.
You’ve probably already heard about the things you can do as an individual or a household to reduce your carbon: drive an electric car or take transit, avoid flying, avoid meat, change to LED lightbulbs, set your thermostat to use less heat and air conditioning—and those are all great, but if we need to decarbonize, we need societal change. Our province shutting down all the coal-fired power plants was, at the time, the largest climate mitigation project in North American history, because at a stroke we all emitted less carbon in our electricity regardless of our personal choices.
We need a lot more of that, which means action from all levels of government and business and industry leaders. Which isn’t going to happen unless they hear from a lot of us.
Which is where our lovely banners come in, and the school strikes and demonstrations. It’s amazing to me that even the conservative party has a climate policy for this year’s election. It’s crap, and it would make emissions go up, but they’ve got one–they’ve conceded that it’s real and accept that the public wants to see action. This is a direct result of increasing public visibility and pressure from things like the youth strikes. So the best thing for all of us to do is get more involved.
You weren’t at the workshop, you aren’t going to a strike: how else can you be part of mobilizing and publicly supporting action on climate change?
It is uncomfortable and new territory for a lot of us, but so much is at stake. Please find a way to be involved!
For the climate nerds, here’s the theoretical background: climate communications research shows that conversations about the climate emergency are more successful and lead to better outcomes when:
1. They are in small groups or one-to-one, rather than mass communications
2. They come from a trusted member of that community, rather than from an outsider
3. They are built on shared values and priorities
4. They tackle solutions and a vision of a desired and desirable future
These workshops put that theory into practice in the Hamilton sewing community.
We’re getting close to a federal election here in Canada (election season here only lasts for a couple of months, so we’ll be all done by the end of October, American friends–whereas you’re already in the thick of it and still have a year to go, which is just mind-boggling to me). It’s the perfect time for me to harp on one of my favourite subjects:
Democracy means rule by the people, not checkmarking by the people.
Voting, as important as it is, is the bare minimum for citizenship in a democracy (and yes, I know a lot of people can’t even manage to do that much).
You’ve got to show up between elections. Politicians do what large numbers of their constituents vocally ask them to do.
In the house I grew up in, people voted, and that was it. Political activities otherwise involved people venting about decisions they didn’t like at the dinner table with immediate family, and otherwise never bringing it up. That’s probably typical. My mother being who she is, even venting with immediate family sometimes brought about several months of shunning, which I hope isn’t typical; but in either case, my family practiced democracy by voting, and then complaining when elected officials didn’t do what we wanted them to without ever taking any trouble to tell the elected officials what that might be.
That’s what my daughter gets at her Dad’s house, but it’s not what she gets at mine: I’ve been dragging her to protests and public meetings and community events since she was a little kid.
And as a result, at 15, she’s confident about attending them and voicing her opinions, she knows what she thinks, and she’s got better knowledge about how government works than most 40 year olds.
Democracy and citizenship are, I think, like housework. You learn how to cook and mow the lawn and get the groceries and do laundry from watching your parents cook and mow the lawn and get the groceries and do laundry, starting when you’re much too young to participate, but learning even then that this is a routine part of living. Then as they get older, seeing and participating more, and taking more ownership.
But how did I learn it? How do you? If you didn’t grow up in that kind of house, how do you figure it out so you can make it NBD for your kids? I mean, I didn’t go to a protest or public meeting until after I started university, and lots of people never have.
Speaking as an adult-learner in the practice of democracy: you just show up.
You just GO.
You don’t need to go with a posse or even a buddy. You don’t need to know the people who are there. No one’s going to make you speak if you don’t want to. Even if it’s a protest, you don’t have to chant or shout, you can just walk quietly, even without a sign–it helps just to have more people. You can sign the sign-in sheet, or not; you can ask questions, or not; you can pick up the brochures and read them at home and then email your questions in, if you have them. It’s not just for experts or professionals or activists.
If it helps, tell yourself you’re going for 15 minutes, just to see what it’s about, just to poke your head in. Make up your mind about staying after you take the lay of the land. It’s fine! You’re not marrying the protest or the public meeting. At this point it’s not even a coffee date. You’re just showing up so you can figure out if you want to swipe right or left.
I remember some of my early meetings and protests like that: just a peak! Just to see what was going on. Just to take it in. And it got easier, gradually. Like showing up for a book club or a dance social or a community art class: every one gets more familiar until one day you’re going to every one and you know all the regulars.
A really great public meeting or town hall or protest is magic. For a few hours, with good people and great ideas, you see for a little while what the world could be like, and it sticks. You take it with you. You bring it to the next one; it builds. I still remember the Occupy Toronto camp, the signs and the tents and the sharing and the marches. That camp ended, but the ideas are still there, and the people who were there bring those ideas into every other movement they join; Occupy principles are in the bedrock of the Green New Deal. And no, the American federal GND resolution didn’t pass, but thanks to the proposal there are GND movements all over the world. There have been two town halls on GND principles and priorities in Hamilton in the last few months. A couple of weeks ago at work, a community group called me up to ask if we’d be interested in participating in a GND-inspired project, with elements from those town halls built right in.
Democracy is rule by the people, not check-marking by the people. And when the people show up, in public, in numbers, they can rule. People who stay home and complain at the TV or on FaceBook have abdicated the throne.
Here’s the other thing: the people organizing those town halls and protests and public meetings? They so desperately want you there. It’s not a secret club with an exam you have to pass in order to have your say. It’s more like a brand new local store waiting for its first fifty customers so they can pay the bills and keep the doors open. Even if you’re not going to buy anything, even if you’re just checking things out, they’ll be happy to see you!
And when it gets easier for you, your kids see you doing it, and they begin to believe that this is just a thing that adults do to make the world work. They’re right about that, too. Because it’s the adults who show up who push politicians to act in one way or another, and if it’s only the angry and hateful adults who have protests and public meetings and delegate at Council, then that’s what’ll happen.
Growing up in a family where no one did anything beyond voting, if that, is kind of like growing up in a family where they all eat take-out all the time. No one knows how to cook! Cooking looks weird and mysterious and hard. What’s a cup measure, anyway? How does a carrot get chopped? Where do you get cashews? If you get the amount of baking soda wrong, will the oven explode?
You can either live with those fears as normal and natural and raise kids who also don’t know how to cook and eat take-out all the time.
Or you can figure out how to cook and teach your kids.
So–I mean, obviously, first of all, vote.
But show up to town halls too. Go to protests. Write letters and make phone calls. Start awkward political conversations about issues that matter to you. Go to public meetings on projects you support. Call your representatives–not about Major Issue Of The Day necessarily, but just to tell them what’s important to you, what you want to see them accomplish.
Participating in democracy in this way is also work. I know. TV is easier and more fun, just like take-out is easier and more fun than cooking. And just like it’s ok to eat take-out sometimes but as a regular thing it’s terrible for your health and your budget, sitting out on democracy is ok sometimes but as a constant thing is terrible for your mental health and your community.
Believe me, it wears on you and takes a toll to live as if you are powerless, to pretend as if the only voice you have is a tick you put in a box once every couple of years.
Also, just like cooking gets better when you find the recipes that work for your schedule and taste buds and budget, participating in democracy gets a whole lot more fun when you figure out whether you’re more the “come to the town halls a few times a year, clap politely, maybe ask a question” type or the “show up at the protest with a sign and yell” type or the “make the powerpoint slides for the community group to delegate at Council” type. Speaking for myself, I don’t love cooking; I cook because I love eating and I’ve found recipes that are fairly quick and we like eating and don’t get tired of. I also much prefer attending town halls and community meetings to knocking on doors during elections. That’s easier to figure out when you’ve tried a bunch of things.
Make participating in democracy as normal as vacuuming. Make it so your kids never have to feel awkward and uncertain about it. Show up, and bring your kids with you.
I did it. Thirty-one days of me-mades, no repeat outfits. The hardest part was that Frances had uptillion doctor’s visits (more on that in another post), and on those days I worked from home, and I just don’t have as many homemade casual clothes as I do clothes for work. But I still did it!
As promised, here are links to all the blog posts about the projects including patterns, sizing, adjustments, and fabric sources. Here we go:
Burda 02/2017 #111 (unblogged). Love this sweatshirt pattern, not least because of the pockets! in the front. Sweatshirt fleece from King Textiles.
Sewaholic Renfrew t-shirt; Vogue 9155 view C pants (unblogged. Mini review: Should be a 16/18 based on their body measurement chart, but as always, tons of ease so I sized down to a 10/12. The fabric is a Fabricland ponte. Because of the knit I omitted the front fly closure and these are pull on, and it works, but in retrospect it would have been better to keep the closer and use woven interfacing in the waistband to eliminate the stretch because they do bag out over a day of wear).
Burda 6910 t-shirt (unblogged and out of print! Mini review: rayon jersey from Fabricland here. It’s been so long I don’t really remember this one anymore but it looks like I cut out a 10/12 on this one. I seem to remember taking in the waist a bit because the gathering at the waist adds a lot of extra space), Burda magazine bomber jacket.
You can barely see it, but the shirt I’m wearing is a Jalie Mimosa t-shirt without the sleeve ruffles.
Vogue patterns t-shirt, Burda magazine pants (New and unblogged so far, but hopefully I’ll get to it. Rayon twill from Needlework. I went with a straight 40 on this one reasoning that I could use the waist tie to cinch in the waist, and while yes that kind of worked, it would have been better to alter the waist down to the 38 and not have everything hanging off the tie).
Burdastyle magazine leggings and an unblogged Burda sweatshirt. I even made myself a practice veil from a poly chiffon bought during a Fabricland members’ sale.
Incidentally this is the best pattern for dance class leggings ever.
BONUS! Pajamas and lounging about:
Pants from Amy Butler’s In Stitches (never blogged: pattern works fine but not worth the price of the book on its own; fleece from Fabricland, cotton in the short version from Needlework), tops are Grainline Linden t-shirts and Burdastyle t-shirts (unblogged as I didn’t like the way it looked, which is why it turned into a pj top instead of a regular t-shirt)
I think I did good. I definitely proved that I don’t need to make myself any more clothes, so I stopped and sold my sewing machines.
Hahahahaha! … no. Two of the above garments are ones I made this month, another two have been finished and are waiting for a chance to wear them, and I made myself a dress for Hamilton Frocktails.
Sewaholic Cambie in a silk/cotton voile from Fabricland, lined in a white silk/cotton voile. It is the dreamiest, floatiest stuff for a dress, and also pretty fun to dance in as I then wore it out to a dance social which technically was in June so it didn’t count for MeMadeMay. Probably won’t blog this one since there’s nothing different about this one than the first, except that the silk/cotton voile has so much body that I just put in a simple a-line skirt lining instead of the gathered one.
Here’s to 11 months of no daily outfit selfies. Hurrah!
It seems like it’s Me Made May all the time–like, at least once a year. Holy cow.
Regardless, here we go again! A month to celebrate making and wearing clothes, and then, in June, a few days to celebrate not having to talk about or taking pictures of ourselves making and wearing clothes. It’s the annual cycle, I think–first the ground thaws, then things turn green, then trout lilies start popping up, then we all spend a frantic month making and wearing clothes to meet a wholly-self imposed standard and documenting the whole thing while spring peepers and green frogs start mating, then in June we talk about how exhausting it is while celebrating that it’s practically summer already, and thank god for skirts with pockets.
So here’s my goal for this year:
I’ll wear something handmade every day, trying for 100% handmade but with allowances for those days when something storebought just makes more sense, and not repeating outfits. At the end I’ll post a summary of #ootd pictures with links to posts about the garments, where I have them. Undoubtedly in that post I’ll talk about how I have enough clothes already, for pete’s sake, I hardly need to sew more! And then I will sew more, likely in June, because it’s a fun hobby. Self-knowledge is, apparently, one of the hazards of participation in this yearly sewing rite.
I keep promising to post about my Renfrew hacks, and I keep finding other things to post about, but no longer! Today is the day I finally write about the approximately twenty I’ve made over the years, fifteen of which I still have (the others long since having worn out and joined the Great Scrap Heap in the Sky).
What today is not, is the day I have new pictures of all of them. Sorry about that. Work explosion + endless housetraining + regular life = absolutely no time for photos. I keep telling myself that this will be the weekend I find an hour to take some … and then the weekend says, “Hey, there’s two community climate talks, and you’re getting your haircut, but I’m sure after groceries and laundry and cooking and housework you’ll still have some free time,” and then the free time laughs and says, “you forgot that you need to stare frantically at a puppy wondering if she’s circling and sniffing because she has to pee or because someone dropped food there two years ago, but maybe there’s an hour in there somewhere,” and then the hour in there somewhere says, “lol, no, this hour is booked solid for staring into space while sitting catatonically in the most comfortable chair in the house.” As it turns out, they’re all right. I’m reading a lot, because that’s something I can do in ten second snatches while worrying that the dog is about to pee on the floor. I can sew a bit in two-minute intervals here and there, though it takes forever right now. I found twenty minutes on a long weekend for photos of three of them. Maybe next month.
My entire sanity is banked on the idea that someday Juniper will learn that pee goes outside, not in the kitchen.
I’m not Sewaholic’s target market, obviously, but I found that I could get a good fit with a size 8 and an FBA. I’m not a fan of the bands, so I just hemmed mine; otherwise these are as indicated in the pattern, and don’t need much explanation. These are made from cotton, rayon or bamboo jersey, or rayon or cotton rib knit.
I will say that if you like a snug fit, you can’t beat a fine rib knit. The stretch and recovery are fantastic and it’s so comfortable.
In Which I Transfer About Half of the FBA Onto the Neckline
I like this one a lot, obviously, and it’s not so hard once you’ve got a front pattern piece you’ve transferred the markings to. I find it doesn’t matter if you use the v or scoop neck piece because the process of gathering the neckline is going to round out the neckline anyway.
Here’s the basic process:
Do a regular rather than a slide-and-pivot FBA on an unaltered pattern piece that is about half of what you need (eg. I normally need 2″ on each side; in this case I do a regular 1″ FBA).
Slash the neckline to the bust apex and rotate the side dart into that. Remove the waist dart by re-drawing the side seam.
Use this piece to do a slide-and-pivot for the remaining additional space you need across the bust.
Make a mark on the neckline about 3″, maybe a bit more, away from where you slashed for the neckline gathers, and write on the pattern how much gathering you’ll need. (eg. say you spread the neckline 3″ to create the space you need, and there’s 5″ between that cut and the centre and 3″ to the mark you just made; you’ll want to gather the double of that total ((3+5+3)x2=22″) into the space of the original doubled total ((3+5)x2=16″). That will ensure your neckband length remains the same between the original and the gathered version.
You know how to gather….
You can probably put all of the extra you need in the neckline gathers if you don’t need to add much. Over an inch or so and you’ll find the gathers get very thick on the neckline and no longer look so nice, which is why you also still do the slide-and-pivot.
This will still make for a snug t-shirt. If you want a loose, drapey t-shirt with a gathered neckline, add extra to the side seam all the way down.
You can probably figure out for yourselves which of these I made loose and which I didn’t. You want something with a pretty decent drape for this; stiff won’t work with the gathers. So these are mostly rayon or bamboo jerseys with one sparkly metallic spandex knit.
I only did this once, and because it’s black, I never wear it–but it does work:
Your centre front fold line is now a seam; add a seam allowance.
Do a regular FBA to add what you need.
Rotate the side dart into a new dart line drawn at a parallel point on the centre front seam, and as with step 4 above, make a top and bottom gather mark, and figure out how much you need to gather that into to keep the original centre seam length.
You know how to gather….
Use a non-stretch stick to sew the centre front pieces together. In my experience, a stretch stitch here, given the weight and location, will weigh the gathers out and the whole thing will just sag.
Construct the rest of the t-shirt as you normally would.
This will add a dart bump to the centre front, just as it would the side, that will mostly have to be removed during construction; you won’t need to keep that rounded part for the final shirt construction.
Again, this is a bamboo jersey, as that gathers nicely.
This is an easy but fiddly variation on the basic t-shirt that assumes you have a well-fitting adjusted front piece. I used the ruffle from the button-down shirt in Burda 8/16, shirt 103, though I added about 1″ to the width at the top of the ruffle to make it a bit more dramatic.
Additional steps to attach it to the t-shirt:
Sew the ruffle pieces together at the centre front using a non-stretch stitch and a walking foot; press open.
Trim away any parts of the seam allowance that are visible from the front when the ruffle is laid flat(-ish).
Assemble the t-shirt as you normally would, except for the neck band.
Very carefully pin the ruffle to the t-shirt front:
Down the centre,
Along the neckline, and
Along the yoke line (you’ll fold this down before sewing it on, but right now you’re just trying out the ruffle location)
Try it on and figure out if you want the ruffle where it is, or higher or lower, and adjust until it’s in a spot you like.
Use something like wonder-under to adhere the ruffle where you like it.
Using a narrow zig-zag stitch and a walking foot, sew the ruffle to the centre front and the yoke (now folded under), and baste to the neckline.
Try it on to have another look and make sure you’ve trimmed away any parts of the ruffle centre-front seam allowance that might be visible, depending on how it drapes.
Finish the shirt by adding the neckband etc.
Voila! A t-shirt with a dramatic ruffled front.
I like this a lot with this rayon rib knit (from Needlework) because of the drape and fit; you do want something that has good enough stretch and recovery to fit your body snugly but also enough drape to make a nice ruffle. Even better would be a rib sweater knit with good drape and a more interesting texture. (I had a storebought t-shirt like this once upon a time; it was a sad day when it wore out, and I’ve never found a sweater knit fabric that would make a perfect replacement–but this is pretty good!).
I did this one once upon a time too: basic Renfrew, embellished with pieces of the same fabric. Basically circles, with a straight line cut from one edge to the centre, opened up to make the cut edge a straight line, and then sewn in various places to the shirt. Fiddly but not hard.
There you go: a bunch of t-shirt variations on a basic fitted block that will add more interest and variety and replace some need for a FBA. It doesn’t have to be a Renfrew, obviously; whatever pattern you have that’s already adjusted to fit you well will work.
It’s a good thing people sit down when they read blogs, because, Dear Readers, this post is part of a blog tour.
I know! But it’s a Jalie blog tour, and I’ve made a big deal before about how their sizing proves that it is possible to create a sizing system that is predictable and consistent between patterns and doesn’t have acres of excess ease, and their clothing patterns are generally beautifully put together and really meticulous, so when I saw that they were looking for another Canadian blogger or two to participate in this tour, I thought–why not?
They were also willing to be flexible and allowed me to get a paper pattern for the price difference between that and the pdf. I wanted to participate, all right, but not at the expense of replacing my broken printer to print out the pattern and tape it together. So up front, I did receive a $1+shipping Mimosa t-shirt pattern for this post.
(You can find all the details about the tour, including other participants, a sewalong and the prizes, at the bottom of this post. As usual, Dear Readers, I have a whole lot to say first. Happy scrolling!)
I had my eye on the Mimosa t-shirt since their last release. Technically I already have a well-altered basic t-shirt pattern in the Sewaholic Renfrew, but I really love the shoulder ruffle on the Mimosa and it’s a drapier, looser fit, which is nice to have as an option.
I had grand plans for this post, I’ll have you know: I was going to make two t-shirts each for my daughter and I, one for testing and a final one, and maybe one for a friend. This did not happen. I’ll tell you why.
This happened. Juniper happened.
Juniper is a Cavalier puppy, about two months old, having an absolute and intense love affair with her teeth. She chews everything she can reach–some of which we can move out of her way, some of which we can’t–and much like my human baby at that age, generally refuses to sleep unless she’s in physical contact with a person. Add in a few illnesses (on our part), a couple of major snowstorms, and some work deadlines, and holy cow. There were days I felt good if I had a shower and put on clothes. Finding five minutes to pin a seam felt like an unimaginable luxury. You all know what I’m talking about.
Fortunately I was able to get to the fabric store for fabric in advance, and get this: it’s t-shirt fabric from the ends table at about $3/metre, cotton/poly/spandex and rayon/spandex blends, and all very soft. I love a cheap project.
What I did manage to get done was a test t-shirt for Frances and myself, and a final t-shirt for me.
Frances alterations are always challenging due to her medical issues, but she liked the tie sleeves, so I copied out something in her typical size mishmash and we gave it a try. I need to redistribute some of the ease from the back to the front to make it more comfortable for her, but overall the fit was great, the neckline, shoulders and armscyes were perfect, and the tie tabs on the sleeves worked beautifully. I didn’t photograph it as the test fabric was much too sheer to be worn, but it did happen–promise. And I’m still going to make her a final version. It just might be in 2020.
For my test version, I traced my standard Jalie size of T through the shoulders/neck and the sleeves and for the back piece, but upped from my usual U in the bust to a V for the whole front side seam to give me extra bust room without having to do a full-bust adjustment. I wanted to see what would happen if I just let it be drapey and loose. I cut it out in this gorgeous wine-coloured rayon/spandex jersey and, as it was a test, left off the shoulder ruffle to save time.
It sewed up very quickly, and all of the notches and seam lengths matched. I did alter the construction order a bit by sewing one shoulder, then sewing in the neck band, then sewing the other shoulder, as I find that simpler than adding the neck band in the round afterwards. On the test version it ended up a bit uneven, but this method worked great for the green one. I used the coverstitch for hemming and the serger for construction.
It is definitely not too small.
The shoulder, back, and armscyes are fine. The front is quite big, but I think this is more to do with sizing up to a V to avoid the FBA. However it’s also an extremely stretchy, drapey fabric, and if I were to make this again in a rayon/spandex jersey I would size it down through the bust and waist. The sleeves are a bit long on me, but that’s normal for me in all sewing patterns. I almost always have to take out an inch.
The hip split in the hem worked out very well too. It gives just the right amount of room in the hips. I think there’s a goof in the instructions; it says to hem the bottom at 1cm and I think it should be 2cm. At least, that’s what I did, and it worked out better for me that way.
The second, final make was in an emerald cotton/poly/spandex blend with a nubby weave; it had a lot less stretch, so I did not size down for this version. I did, however, remove an inch from the sleeve length and add the shoulder ruffles.
It’s such a pretty colour, and I really like the ruffles. It’s important to be careful when attaching the ruffles and sleeves, as it’s easy to be off a little and end up with ruffles of different lengths on the final product.
I wore the shirt with these high-waisted jeans so I could show what it looked like tucked in, and realized afterwards that the jeans are Jalie too–their stretch jeans pattern. So it’s a whole Jalie outfit, though not on purpose.
Overall I really like the Mimosa; in a drapey fabric the extra room is really pretty, the shoulder ruffles are well-drafted and attach nicely; it’s a beautifully constructed and published pattern, as theirs always have been for me. Highly recommend.
I did what I normally do with Jalie patterns and went by the body measurements on the package, which puts me at a size T with an FBA for most of them. The insturcitons on the Mimosa say to choose a size based on bust measurement, and I think if your bust measurement differs little from your waist/hips, that is probably safe; however, if you’re busty this may not work for you. A size T for me is based on my waist, which is my smallest measurement and gives me the shoulders/armscyes/neckline I need, and then for the front I sized up to a V to give me some extra room across the chest. Because of the stretch in the fabric, this worked well, I should have gone for a Y if I was going by boobs alone and that for me would have been much too big.
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And then I determined that they were meant for each other, waited for the members sale, and bought enough of the faux suede to make it up.
I’m not sure the fabric agrees with me: the pattern is meant, I think, for something lighter and drapier. This faux suede has a good bit of body. But I kind of prefer it that way: it makes for some dramatically puffy sleeves. It also is not at all keen on pressing. Nothing would make it lie flat. Eventually, I got out the double-sided tape from actual suede projects and used it to make the seams lie flat and, on curved seams, did some careful catch-stitching. It made it a more complicated and time consuming project, but it’s worth it to have nicely flat seams.
Standard 2″ FBA on each side of the bodice, rotated into the shoulder and waist darts.
There are a few issues with this pattern:
It’s supposed to be a tall pattern? And yet here it is, not shortened or altered at all, and it’s kind of … short. I know I’m a bit on the tall side, but my height is not in my upper torso. I didn’t even have to shorten the sleeves, which is unheard of for me.
I am 99% sure that the measurements given for the tie belt pieces are incorrect. They are barely longer than the corresponding waist measurements and certainly wouldn’t hang down, and the width is enormous (5″!) and it calls for 2. !! I basically cut one 5″ strip that is the fabric width and did the normal fold-and-sew, and I think this looks much closer to the pattern photo than what you’d get with the measurements they provide.
Otherwise it’s a fun jacket, it’s yellow, it’s stretchy so it’s super comfortable, and it’s thick so it is warm enough for fall … though not necessarily for the fall we’ve had. Still, I was determined to wear it to work at least once.
All day people were giving me looks, Dear Readers. Their eyes would widen and they would quickly take in the outfit, and then look away. I happened to wear this get-up on our municipal election day, and I’m happy to say that the lady manning the polling machine was very complimentary on this colour combination. But she was the only one.
In Burda tall sizes I should be a 80-88 based on body measurements. This pattern had 76 and 80 on the tissue, so I traced the 76 and widened it to the 80 at the hips, then did my usual FBA on the bodice front. As I described above, I would be cautious about any length alterations: it didn’t seem particularly tall.
After the summer sewing orgy and my decision to try limiting myself to two new garments for me each month, I thought I’d start with something nice and complicated and time-consuming … like a trench coat. This pattern from Burda was nicely tailored and classic, and my favourite local fabric store was selling some beautiful heavy linens that felt like they would make great transitional outerwear … and here we are.
Mind you, it took forever. This coat was the only thing I sewed for myself in September. (Yes, it is January.)
I did my standard 2″-per-side FBA, left in the side bust dart, and rotated the waist dart into the waist tucks. I did a quick muslin of the bodice pieces to be sure it would work before cutting it out of the linen–not a step I usually bother with but I knew this coat was going to be a complicated sew and I didn’t want to get to the end and realize it didn’t work.
I did Hong Kong binding for the first time ever, and it was by far the most time consuming part of the entire project. It’s scrap from a silk/cotton voile from a couple of previous projects, so maybe a bit nicer than the standard bias binding, but super soft and lightweight and a great match for the linen. It’s a bit wonky but … well, hopefully people won’t be scrutinizing the interior of my trench coat while I’m wearing it.
Also, one side of the notched collar is a bit wonky. The linen is just heavy enough not to want to be tidy and small in complicated seam allowances, and it was getting to the point where my efforts to fix it were making it worse instead of better, so I stopped. It looks fine for the general public but I’m sure my fellow sewers would spot it a mile away.
This was one of those years where we had summersummersummersummer, approximately fifteen minutes of fall, and then winter. In other words, it went from too hot to wear a jacket to too cold to wear this jacket very quickly, but I did get a few good days of trench coat weather in there and it was comfortable and swishy and also nicely teal, which is all I really wanted from it.
My standard Burda sizing: I should be a size 40-44 based on body measurements, and this was a size 38, graded to 42 at the hips, with a 2″ FBA per side on the bodice. Basically I sized down by 1 throughout except for the bust.
In our house, there are two types of Christmas wrapping: presents from Santa, which come wrapped in paper with store bought tags, and presents from Mom, which comes in handmade fabric gift bags. When Frances was younger and sold on Santa, this was a great bit of holiday magic: *obviously* Santa was real, because otherwise where did the paper wrapping come from? Mom would *never* use paper wrapping. Now it’s just tradition (also I still have two rolls of pretty xmas wrapping to use up).
Everyone else gets a gift either in a previously received paper gift bag still in good condition, or a handmade fabric gift bag. There’s a hierarchy, I won’t lie: a fabric gift bag is a mark of trust. It’s saying, I know you will appreciate the time and effort that went into making this bag and keep it in circulation for the rest of time to displace the use of more wasteful wrapping types. It’s saying, if you leave this sitting in a heap in your basement storage area or god forbid *throw it out* I will come back from beyond the grave and haunt you with my fabric scissors and needlebook. And if you use this bag for trapping snakes, as happened to one friend’s handmade gift bags, you will spend eternity in a hell full of rusty fabric scissor blades with bent pins all over the floor. It’s saying, but I know you would never ever do such a thing.
But it is also kind of selfish sewing, because every year I sew four or five new bags, and half I use for gifts for friends, but the other half I use for Frances. Which makes clean-up on xmas morning super easy. Yes there’s paper to tidy up from the Santa gifts … but most of it is just fabric bags, and all I need to do is pick them up, stuff them all inside the largest bag, and put it in the closet. Hey presto, tidy floor. No recycling or garbage. Next year, the wrapping is basically taken care of, and there’s little easier than stuffing something in a drawstring bag and pulling it closed. I even reuse the tags; since they’re handmade they tend to be pretty robust.
Most of the bags are simple drawstring bags: french seams, to keep the insides tidy and thread-free; occasionally serged if I’m running out of time; double fold at the top to make a channel for the ribbon, which doubles as a draw-string and as gift decoration (I make the ribbon quite long so that there’s lots to tie around the gift). It takes about an hour. There’s no pattern; I improvise the size I need for the gifts I’m wrapping that year. If the print is directional, as some of the ones above are, I cut the fabric in half lengthwise and sometimes add a matching width of a non-directional print at the bottom.
This year I decided to drastically complicate my gift bag sewing experience by turning some holiday cross stitch projects into quilted patchwork gift bags with handles. It took a lot more than an hour.
The cross stitch owls came from the November 2013 issue of Cross Stitcher magazine, which I think I’ve mentioned before is my favourite cross stitch magazine and I wish it were more easily available here. These owls are freaking adorable, and I cross stitched two of them, but had no idea what to do with the finished pieces until I got what seemed like a brilliant idea: gift bags!
The patchwork is an improvised sort of log cabin pattern; the fabrics came from Needlework, and the one bag is mostly leftover from this season’s other overly-ambitious holiday project: a new tree skirt. The insides are lined with leftovers from Fabricland. One bag has twill tape handles, and the other matching cotton handles.
The first bag is quilted. I know, what was I thinking? The process was:
1. Assemble the patchwork front and cut a back in a matching size.
2. Baste batting to the reverse of each with a 1/2″ seam allowance, and trim away the batting within that seam allowance.
3. Sew the front and back together; press seams open.
4. Trim a 2″ wedge from the bottom corners, and sew together to make a boxy shape.
5. Cut, sew, and trim a lining in a matching size, omitting the batting.
6. Baste handles to the bag exterior.
7. Sew lining to exterior, right side to right side, leaving a gap on the back bag to pull them through.
8. Pull through, press lining to the inside of the bag.
9. Edgestitch all around the bag top to close the opening in the bag back.
10. Insert a small cutting board into the bag, and safety pin the front quilt sandwich, being careful to make sure there are no folds or puckers in the lining and that both layers are flat and smooth.
11. Stitch in the ditch along the patchwork lines in the front to quilt.
I gave myself a break on the second bag and didn’t use batting or quilt it; it’s just lined patchwork. And it took forever, but it’s so pretty I have a hard time convincing myself not to make another one. Maybe a cushion cover next time?
Of course, people who regularly sew gifts or decorations etc. for Christmas know that you don’t start in December, because if you do, you won’t finish in time. So there’s a pile of holiday sewing that doesn’t count, including the tree skirt:
A couple of tree ornaments made with scraps, which is a great scrappy project if you’re looking for something–and I don’t think it needs to be holiday fabric. This pattern is M3777:
Some of these were even made up completely during December. I traced the pieces out onto oak tag so I could reuse them endlessly without them falling apart.
A few new cross-stitch tree ornaments, Because:
And some cross-stitch gift tags, also Because:
A pair of ponte leggings for Frances, and a pair of cotton jersey leggings and a couple of t-shirts, and her annual Christmas Eve Pajamas:
The leggings are modified from an Ottobre pattern to get the front-leg seam and waistband, and match some Old Navy leggings Frances wears to death. The pajamas are B5572; bottoms are Robert Kaufman flannel and the top is a bamboo jersey, so it’s extremely soft and comfortable. I ventured into fabric painting for the reindeer that Frances specifically requested for her xmas pjs this year. That was an interesting process.
Also made her holiday dress from red and white striped bamboo jersey, OOP pattern M7160. I didn’t want her to look like a candy cane, and what I like about this pattern is it gives options for juxtaposing stripes in different directions, which has a side benefit of reducing the need for stripe matching–though the bodice was a bit finicky.
Also! Cushion covers.
One with flannel scraps from Frances’s xmas pjs, in a simple star pattern, because this fabric is too delicious for the scraps to go to waste and it seemed perfect for snuggling up in bed with while making art or writing stories. It’s quilted, because, apparently, I have a seasonal incapacity to correctly assess available time. It wasn’t quite ready for Christmas, but I’m still counting it.
And this rainbow chenille pillow, backed also with flannel scraps. My favourite gay teenager is all about rainbows these days, and this is a particularly fuzzy rainbow, which is even better.
Addicted to sewing since the 70’s – Sewing Blogger since 2013 – Enjoying a #RTWFAST and Creator of #DESIGNINDECEMBER since 2015 – Designing Handbags and Accessories and PDF Sewing Patterns for bags and accessories at #LANYOSHANDMADE since 2018 – Lover of vegan, sustainable, repurposed and up-cycled projects – I want to try everything, learn everything and talk about it with you!