Men's Bomber Jacket

Pattern: BurdaStyle's Men's Quilted Jacket 12/2015 #125
Fabric: 2 yds 8.5 oz brushed canvas, 1/2 yd heavyweight rib knit, 2 yds kasha lining
Cost: $70

It's how it always happens. He saw a jacket online for $400. I proudly proclaim that I could make one even better for much less. I am forced to live up to that claim. I wait until his birthday, and then Christmas, and as the weather turned cold I was finally forced to live up to my claim...

In truth, I really like making stuff for the Mr. I like when he wears it out and gets to brag about who made it. But I have found it hard to make the time when there are so many fun things to sew for myself, and especially lately when I haven't even had the time for that. In January, however, I was finally forced to finish up this bomber jacket after gifting him the muslin for Christmas, and I'm so glad I did. 

In truth, I do think it is better than the original. It is cut to his size, has a flannel-backed satin kasha lining, and a zipper fly. He got to pick out the color, which is a nice greenish-gray. He's been wearing it a ton.

The pattern is BurdaStyle's Men's Quilted Jacket 12/2015 #125, which has really interesting princess-type seams in the front and back that end in a semi-raglan sleeve. I think this gives some nice visual interest to the jacket, but boy did those sleeves cause some fitting issues! For one, the pattern is drafted a bit boxy with semi-batwing sleeves (very low armhole). When I took in the jacket (he likes things more fitted), the low armholes significantly restricted movement. Luckily I had enough fabric to recut each sleeve and the front and back side panels (on the jacket and lining!) to fix this, but it was a lot of work. I had to redo every one of those corners on the jacket front and back and lining :( The result was totally worth it though. I ended up raising the armhole and sleeve edge by three inches, and probably could have done half an inch more. The jacket is now much more fitted and he is actually able to raise his arms.

Come to think of it, I've had a lot of patterns from BurdaStyle that feature this semi-batwing sleeve. I think it's a style choice, but it's not Mr. Made's style. It must be their European styling or something.

If I were to make this jacket again, the one thing I would do is a sloping shoulder adjustment. The jacket tends to wrinkle there at the shoulders, which is partly from shoulder shape and partly from the neckband gathering a bit too much. I looked at the pattern photo again and saw it had a similar, though less extreme, issue. Again, the half raglan half set-in shape of the sleeves makes it very difficult to do adjustments, but I'm sure it could be done with another muslin.

Overall though I'm happy to have this done and it has been getting a ton of wear. I think it's nice for him to have a jacket that finally fits his long arms, and for much less than $400! Now back to sewing girly things...


Pattern: Thread Theory's Lazo Trousers with inspiration from McCall's 7062 and BurdaStyle's Overalls 07/2016 #109
Fabric: ~2 yds wool suiting
Cost: free from Bay Area Sewists fabric swap :)

While I probably have mounds of more practical sewing to do, I couldn't help myself. I made a pair of overalls...   In truth I think I've been lusting after a pair for a while. I love making pants, and overalls seemed like a good quirky alternative to try out. And ever since I'd sewn the Lazo Trousers, I knew they would make a good base for the style I was going for - relaxed but still fitted. 

Of course, I couldn't just use the Lazo Trousers pattern because, well, it's a pattern for pants, not overalls. So a pattern hack was in order. I had an old McCall's overalls pattern, but they were very 80s with a boxy fit and side tie closure that I didn't like. So for good measure I threw in a third pattern, BurdaStyle Overalls 07/2016 #109, which Pauline had sent me in a BurdaStyle magazine. I suppose I could have used this pattern alone, but I trust the fit of my Lazo Trousers so much more than a new pattern, and I also wanted straps that came all the way to the front instead of tying at the shoulder. I somehow managed to mash together all three, along with a some ninja drafting, and came up with this design. 

The hardest part for me was figuring out the side closures. I couldn't quite conceive how to get the sides to overlap at the front and not have wide seam allowances all the way down the leg. I think what I should have done was raise the top of the pants up several more inches instead of using the waistband, and drafted a sort of fly at both sides. As pictured above, though, I ended up sewing up the sides of the pants and then overlapping the waistband pieces, which had to extend at the sides to be large enough. It's not a very elegant solution, but as these are casual pants and a first go at it I'm not overly concerned.

The top also has a few issues - I think the neckline got a little stretched or else needs to be a little narrower. And after everything was sewn up and basted together I realized I needed bust darts, so those were thrown in there a little haphazardly Luckily they are covered up by the pocket, and in black you really can't see much. 

The fabric by the way came from a few yards of wool suiting I grabbed at the end of the last Bay Area Sewists fabric swap. It was sitting dejected on a table ready to go in the donation bag when I scooped it up. I knew I could always find a use for some plain black wool. It looked like it had already had another project cut from it, but with some creative layout I managed to cut all the pattern pieces I needed. 

 So far I've worn these out to drinks and taking the dog on walks and am very pleased with them. The wool isn't scratchy at all, and the color makes them a little more subtle than jeans overalls. I made need to make the back less fitted though as they are a little tight vertically when I am stretching down to get something. Overall though a fun go at something new.

Red and Pink and Magic

Pattern: Self-drafted from Pattern Magic 3's 'Pare down the roundness at the back and open out'
Fabric: 3 1/2 yds woven cotton
Cost: $35

When I was very little and allowed to dress myself for the first time, one of my favorite color combinations was red and pink. "They don't go together!" my mother would say, but I would wear them anyway. There was just something so cheery and fun about those colors together. To this day red remains one of my favorite colors, so when I was looking for a contrast color for this audacious dress I thought, why not pink?

This is my second version of a dress using the Pattern Magic technique 'Pare down the roundness at the back and open out.' As you can tell from the name, it was meant for the back of the bodice, but I think it is much more fun in the front. Following the instructions in Pattern Magic 3, you close up the darts and draft all sorts of lines across the bodice. The result is an amazing structural piece that opens up to accommodate your curves and has a life of its own. 

My first version was very fun to make, but in the end turned out a little droopy. The triangle pieces just didn't stand up on their own, and the longest piece around the midsection sort of crumpled. For this version, I used a mid- to heavy-weight interfacing combined with a quilting-weight cotton to give the pieces some more structure. I did have some issues with the interfacing bubbling and the garment holding up under the weight of it all, but after the lining was sewn in and I gave it one final press it looked pretty good! Above is a close up detail, and you can see I lined the inside of the triangles with pink as well :)

The other decision I made for this version was to try a strapless style. I simply drew chalk lines on my first version to determine the neckline and drafted a new pattern piece. To make sure everything held up, I also inserted boning along the side seams of the lining. This was my first time using boning, and I was surprised just how easy it was. It gave great structure to the garment, and took some of the pressure off having to make it very tight to make it stay up. If I were doing another version of this dress, I could see using boning in the points of the triangles (especially the longest one) to give the garment even more structure and avoid some of the rumpling. However, the interfacing did a good job here instead.

I think this would be a great design for a silk with a stiff hand, and definitely take it up a notch from the quilting cotton I used. But this was fun to experiment with on a budget, and very wearable.

On my last version, I also spent a lot of time drafting a skirt with an angular opening to match the angles of the dress. On this version, I went with a simpler dirndl skirt with lots of gathers at the waist and an A-line shape. It is full enough to accommodate a very full petticoat, although that makes me look like a tomato. I think it works nicely with the shape, and was very easy to do. As a bonus, I added pockets, which I originally just thought I'd stick my hands in but really came in useful for carrying little bits and bobs, especially when you don't want to carry a purse.

So where do you wear a dress like this? I sewed mine up just in time for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event (!!). We took a note from our Australian peers and organized a night of cocktails and handmade frocks. It was so much fun to mix and mingle with everyone, and see some of the amazing work of other sewists. Chuleenan organized everything to perfection, with appetizers, a photo booth, and crafts. I hope we do this again next year!

A photo posted by Bay Area Sewists (@bayareasewists) on

Lingerie Sewing

Pattern: Self-drafted bralette and modified Ohhh Lulu's Grace Panties
Fabric: various stretch fabrics
Cost: $20

Maybe it's the holiday, maybe it's the anticipation of bathing suit sewing season, but I've suddenly got the urge to sew lingerie again. My lingerie notions drawer is overflowing with lacy fabrics that are just begging to be sewn. I probably need a proper bra, but first why not make some completely impractical beauties? Shown here is a self-drafted bralette I made some time last year along with high-waisted underwear I made up tonight. Not sure the fella will really dig the granny panties, but I love this bralette for under tanks and just feeling a bit sexy.

I drafted the bralette a while back. It is an extension of a RTW bralette from Madewell with pretty much all the seams removed. It has just one dart at the center of the bust, hidden under the lace in this case, and  center front seam. It's surprisingly effective in its simplicity - so easy to put together and with no extra bulkiness where it's not needed. Clearly it's not meant to be particularly supportive or shaping, but with the elastic right below the bust it does keep things in place.

The lace is just cut out and appliqu├ęd over the apex with a zig-zag stitch. It hides the dart nicely and covers up what matters. Instead of sewing the center seam, it's finished with fold over elastic and then attached at the top and bottom only. This produces a fun cut-out detail that adds some extra interest. The rest of the bra, straps included, is finished in fold over elastic. Overall a very easy bralette to make.

The underwear is the Ohhh Lulu Grace Panties, which I extended up 4.5 inches so they'd hit me at my natural waist - I'm very long-waisted(!). I'm headed to Vegas in May and considering making some bikini bottoms in a similar style to hang out by the pool, so this was an easy way to try the style out first. With the right top, I'm really digging it! I'm going fabric shopping this weekend and hoping to pick up something in a swimwear spandex to repeat the process.

I also have a lingerie tutorial up right now on the BERNINA We All Sew blog on how to apply lingerie elastic with a coverstitch. This is a technique I see in most of my RTW undies, and is very easy to apply - you just lay the elastic on top of the raw edge and stitch. You can also do this with a zig-zag stitch if you don't have a coverstitch. Check it out here.

I hope this lingerie sewing bug continues because I could really use some new undies in my stash!

Fabric Haul Inspiration

I don't usually publish much besides finished garment posts, but I recently took in a massive fabric haul and needed to jot down my inspiration. At the Bay Area Sewists fabric swap meetup last week, I snagged a printed rayon, buffalo check, and about four yards of polyester for muslins. Then I headed down the street to Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics, where we get 20% off on meetup days. I had been saving for this occasion, and admittedly went a little wild. But oh man it was fun!

Here are some tops I've got planned from this shopping trip. I'm focusing on adding some more comfy but stylish knits to my wardrobe, and also couldn't resist a couple of printed wovens (at bottom).

1. Turtlenecks - maybe from My Image Fall/Winter magazine?
2. Cowl top - inspired by the new cowl add-on to the SBCC Bronx Dress
3. Presto! Popover Top
4. Mandy Boat Tee
5. Maya Top
6. BurdaStyle 07/2013 #130

First up on my sewing table though is another Pattern Magic dress. I loved making my first one, but felt it could use a few more tweaks such as firmer interfacing. I'm going to try it out this time in a strapless version, and hopefully have it ready for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event this weekend. If you're interested in joining us and haven't gotten your ticket yet, contact the Chuleenan on the event page!

Let's hope my sewing goals aren't too large for my sewing time...
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