Today we have a double post: pajamas and a duffel bag.
(Both of which were made for a trip, although both were needed too. The pajamas because I haven’t had a proper pair of new winter pjs for decades; and the duffel bag because the last one I bought was in university and is falling apart, and also sucks.)
(And the trip because I was totally exhausted and feeling burned out on the job/house/dog/kid/kid’s medical needs/my medical needs/climate action overload, and happened to read about an author’s trip to the middle of nowhere with her kids so they could have a night dark enough to see stars. And I thought, oh god, yes, a night dark enough to see stars … but maybe without the kid, just this one time. And I booked a teeny cabin in the middle of nowhere over Canadian Thanksgiving.)
This is a Simplicity pattern that I’ve used for Frances many times. You know it’s old, because I bought this Simplicity pattern in a Fabricland store, and they haven’t carried them for years (cost dispute). But it’s a good basic pattern.
This lovely cotton french terry I picked up on sale at Needlework. I think it’s gone now, but it’s so gorgeous. Almost too gorgeous to make into pjs. (Almost.) Neck band is a bit of scrap cotton ribbing.
I actually chose the size based on my measurements (for a Big 4!) since I wouldn’t care if the PJs were too roomy and the finished measurements looked ok. As a unisex pattern with all sizes in one envelope, I didn’t have to worry about not having the size I needed. Very much appreciated.
And look! Look at these! These are perfect PJs for hanging out in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere with a book and a cup of tea.
Luckily, they’re the perfect PJs for hanging out on a sofa in the suburbs with a book and a cup of tea as well. I am set.
Alice in Wonderland was one of the first books I ever read. I read it and its sequel probably dozens of times when I was in elementary school. I used to dream about finding portals to other worlds (Narnia too).
So when the anniversary Alice fabric was released a few years ago, I snapped up some of the canvas–again from Needlework–and good thing too, because it didn’t last long.
Yes, it does have Bill the lizard flying through the air! There are teapots and cups full of tea stacked willy nilly! The Cheshire cat’s floating grinning head is hovering in mid-air! The dodo bird is marching in his goal-less circles! There’s the Queen, the King, and the White Rabbit! And yes there are little metallic flourishes all over it! It is perfect.
I haven’t read the book or watched the Disney movie for decades, but every time I look at poor Bill on the duffel bag, I think, “There goes Bill!” And I guess if you were less of a die-hard fan and don’t remember Alice eating or drinking yet another thing she shouldn’t and growing to fill the house she’d entered, to the point where her leg is jammed up the chimney, and they send poor Bill the chimney-sweep in to try to flush her out, and she kicks him sky-high when he tries, that might not mean much to you. But basically, this duffel bag was loaded with memories as soon as it came off the sewing machine, which is pretty well perfect.
It’s lined with two quilting cottons: one for the main, and a Tula Pink snails print for the zippered pocket, both again from Needlework, probably neither still available. The contrast handle fabric is a cotton twill from King Textiles in Toronto, and the bottom contrast fabric is a Merchant and Mills oilskin–also Needlework, and still there! It gives a bit of extra toughness and waterproofing that’s useful in a travel piece, I think.
Two layers of interfacing: I had to move the sewing machine to a big table to squeeze the bag through the throat for the last few steps, but it was worth it.
This pattern is OOP, but overall it worked out well. All the pieces fit together, the instructions were good, and it makes a nice roomy bag.
(I haven’t yet made the detachable strap; I didn’t have the right hardware. The zippered pouch I added following the instructions in Lisa Lam’s The Bag Making Bible.)
Wonder of all wonders, I used a body measurement chart to pick a size for a Big 4 pattern, and it actually worked. Of course, this is a loose-fitting garment where the penalty for getting it slightly wrong is very low.
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 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!
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.
Now on to the blog tour details:
Are there some Jalie patterns you’ve been itching to get? Now’s your chance to WIN YOUR JALIE WISHLIST! Head over to Jalie’s website, create an account, add your favorite patterns to your wishlist, and complete the rafflecopter form below (patterns must be added by February 12, 2019 11:59pm EST to be eligible). Incomplete entries will be eligible for fabric prizes only.
For extra entries, join our Jalie sewalong! Make a Jalie “basic” between January 28 and February 12 and share it on Instagram with hashtag #basicallyjalie and/or in the Basically Jalie Album in the Sewing with Jalie Facebook group.
We are so grateful to our generous sponsors who have teamed up to provide the following prizes (please stop by their shops and show them some love!):
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.
If only I’d sewn these up in July! I could have used them for the Smarty Pants challenge at Monthly Stitch. Alas, these were finished in June.
They are pretty Bananas. I’m not sure about Smart.
And I’m posting them in November. Oy.
These are purple rayon palazzo pants. They’re totally ridiculous. I can’t justify any kind of need for them. But I love them so.
The pattern has an invisible side zipper, an angled front yoke, and some truly roomy front pleats. I needed most of 2m of rayon to cut these out. But they are truly delightful to wear. It’s like having an air conditioner on my butt, they’re so light and cool. This was great in July and August, though it’s not so great in November. Maybe I’ll make these again in something a little warmer? We’ll see.
Slash hip pockets–and I wasn’t as careful as I was with the final version of the pink pants–so there’s a bit of gaping. Sigh. And I think one of the back legs is a bit off grain. They’re pretty swishy so the only time it’s visible is when I’m standing still, posing for pictures.
I can’t even tell you how much time I spent fussing with the hem. I’d press it to what seemed like the right length, pin it, try it on, and one side would be crooked or too long or short. Then I’d do it again. I’d compare one side to the other and mark a line where they should be equal, press and pin, and try it on again, and they’d still be uneven, so I’d do it again. And again. Etc. Hemming pants on one’s self is a PITA at the best of times; and there’s a lot of fabric here to hem. I thought I might spend the rest of my life on that one step. But here we are, hems done and, if not quite perfect, hard to see what with all the purple rayon swaying about my shoes. Good enough, I say.
According to the Burda size chart, I should be a size 40/42; these are a 38/40 (waist/hips) which for me is standard in Burda sizing. I made my standard corrections to the crotch curve and depth; otherwise, they’re as-is.
I was so wrong. I have all kind of summer projects I haven’t posted yet. Dear lord.
On the other hand, we now get to see green growing things here on the blog for a little longer, and there isn’t too much of that left in real life at the moment. Sigh.
Anyway: This is a project that started as a pile of Mariner Cloth, the neon pink colourway. The colour is so fun, and the texture is very cool, and I thought this would make a really great casual shirt.
I was determined to use the selvedge in place of hemming:
Because it is so pretty with all the loopy bits. And it did eventually work out, but first I needed to find a shirt pattern that had a nice straight hem, would work with wovens, and was pretty casual.
I could only get two out of three: I went with Butterick 6100. It’s meant to be fairly fancy, but it’s also meant to use the selvedge edge of lace fabric, so it did have a good straight hem.
I made a few key changes to the pattern:
I wanted it less boxy than it would need to be as a straight pull-over with only a keyhole closure, so I added an invisible side zipper under the left arm.
The sleeves from the pattern were incredibly constricting and narrow and very puffy (it doesn’t show in the pattern photos but mine looked like Anne of Green Gables) so I subbed in an altered Scout Tee sleeve instead.
This is a custom cup size pattern, but the D wasn’t quite big enough, so there is a small FBA in addition.
And without being too baggy at the hip, either. There’s a facing and a button-and-loop closure, both of which worked out well:
The facing is from a cotton voile scrap, with the raw edge serged.
I got lots of wear out of it in the summer. It’s a very lightweight fabric, perfect for steamy days, and turned out very comfortably. Of course now I just need to pine for summer so I can wear it again. Sigh.
It is pretty boxy, but that’s what I wanted, so hurray! And the edge hits right on the high hip, which makes them perfect for high-waisted pants or shorts.
In Butterick, I should be wearing a size 16/20 for tops according to the body measurement chart. This is a size 10, custom cup size D, with a small FBA, and a slightly raised hemline so it would hit me at the high hip.
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!