A Jumpsuit for Stepping Out

This jumpsuit is made for showing off. Its sewn from bright red linen, has hand-embroidered flowers, and shows just a flash of skin. It is also very much a product of the pandemic, made from fabric I ordered online and couldn't think of any other use for and hand-stitched embellishments that took me over a month to create. Today, two weeks after my final vaccine, I'm ready to celebrate! (Safely, of course.) 

Pattern: adapted from McCalls 7789 and McCall's 7719
Fabric: 2 yds Robert Kaufman Essex Linen
Cost: $40

For this piece, I think I spent about as much on embroidery thread as the fabric itself. Kaufman linen is fairly cheap (which is how it ended up in my cart) and I got two yards for less than $20 online. However, when it arrived it was much brighter than I had pictured, and I just wasn't sure what I would use it for. As my stash dwindled during the long months of lockdown, I finally decided it needed to be sewn up. 

The fabric told me it wanted to be bright red overalls like the Closet Core Jenny Overalls. But while I liked that pattern, I also wanted something that could be worn without a shirt underneath - maybe something more like a pinafore. I eventually ended up mashing together the pants from McCalls 7789, which I've sewn twice during lockdown already, with a bodice from McCall's 7719 squared off at the neckline. It required a fair amount of adjusting as I sewed and I think the bust darts ended up a bit high, but luckily the embroidery hides that and I really like the final results. I really like the overall shape and that it provides enough coverage while still giving the pinafore/overall look. 

So back to the embroidery. To temper all that red, I thought it would be fun to add some flowers to the bodice. I was also running out of knitting projects and needed something to do while I watched TV, so this was the perfect activity to occupy my time. As I've only done a few embroidery projects every, I used this as an opportunity to try out a bunch of different techniques and had a lot of fun browsing the internet for different petal and leaf designs. 

The one thing I have a hard time with in embroidery is picking out the color palette. So I looked around for a curated palette of colors. Sublime Stitching sells some amazing ones but they were almost all out of stock at the time. I finally found this fall palette I liked on Etsy. I really wish more sellers did this because it makes everything feel much more cohesive. I did run out of a few of the colors but was able to just order more of the single color online now that I knew what to get. The colors are give it a really vintage feel that I like. 

The jumpsuit has a low back and I really wanted the straps to cross in the back. However, the length of the straps coupled with the size of my hips meant I could barely wiggle out of it. I left the project alone for the night and came back the next day to uncross and re-sew the straps. As it's already a bit of a delicate garment, I really didn't want to strain it every time I needed to get in and out of it! I had to use the bathroom several times the first day I wore it and I was glad for the change. 

It also has pockets, so despite its delicate touches it is really almost a practical garment.

While the fabric purchase felt like a bit of a mistake and the process for making this was very experimental, I am so happy with the final result! The color, shape, and embroidery all come together to make a happy garment ready to step out in.  

My Parklet Jacket

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you may be wondering why I'm posting a heavy jacket in the middle of May. But it was 55 degrees and windy last night in San Francisco as I did some outdoor dining and I can assure you that this jacket will get a LOT of wear. In fact, I've been wearing this every weekend since I finished it earlier this month to outdoor meetups with friends. 

While I am hopeful that COVID is winding down for now in the Bay Area (and I am now fully vaccinated!), we have been doing most of our socializing outdoors. It's been wonderful to connect with friends, some of whom I haven't seen in many months. And amid all of this I realized that the cute tops and dresses I've made over the past twelve months were not going to cut it for a chilly night in a bar parklet on Telegraph. So my parklet jacket was born. 

Pattern: McCalls Misses' Unlined Jacket #6531
Fabric: 4yds Robert Kauffman Big Sur Canvas in Canyon Brown
2 yds Minky Luxe Cuddle in Heather Henna
Cost: $125

I went all out with this jacket. Stonemountain was having a sale on their Robert Kauffman Big Sur Canvas so I ordered a few yards of that along with matching thread, snaps, zipper, cording, and cord stops. The matching thread felt like a real treat as I almost always just sew with black/white/gray. I'm glad I did it though as I did lots of topstitching and the matching color gave a really professional finish. And the option to have them match it for you when you order online takes all the guesswork out of it. I only wish I'd realized that they send 200m spools - I needed to go out and pick up some more. 

For extra warmth and luxury, I decided to line the whole thing in sumptuously soft minky fabric. I've always wanted to use something like this for an extra cozy jacket and I'm glad I did. It feels like wearing a teddy bear. 

For the pattern, I dug in my stash and came up with McCall's #6531, a loose-fitting, unlined jacket that has a sporty/parka look with rolled sleeves and the option to cinch the neckline, waist, and hem. It wasn't until I was ready to cut it out though that I realized I had a larger size range than I needed. I think I must have gotten this pattern at a swap and either didn't notice or didn't care. Luckily, the pattern pieces were pretty basic and I was able to grade down one size. Because it's a loose-fitting style, I wasn't particularly worried about getting the fit just right.

One reason I chose this pattern is that it has cut-on, loose-fitting sleeves. They are kind of a batwing or dolman style. Because I was using a bulky lining, I knew this style would be better for accommodating all that fabric than a traditional, close-fitting set-in sleeve. The pattern does not include pieces or instructions for adding a lining, but I found it was easy enough to do by cutting out the regular pattern pieces except for the collar and cuffs, and shortening the hems. 

Before I make up a new pattern these days, I like to read Pattern Review to see what others recommend. Many said they ended up sizing down, but I was glad that I cut the size (or close to it) for my measurements. This gave me enough room to add the bulky lining fabric and not worry about whether I'd still be able to get it on. Funny enough, many people also said the sleeves were too short and they had to lengthen by two inches or more (!). I'm not sure if it was because I was grading down from a larger size range or if I just have short arms, but the sleeves were plenty long enough for me!

One fun thing about this jacket is that it is designed so that you can roll the sleeves up. I knew that mine wouldn't roll quite so nicely in thicker canvas, but I still like the option for the hours before the sun goes down. I cut a facing from the canvas so that the minky lining wouldn't show through (and it meant less bulk). My one gripe is that the cuff closure for this jacket is just made by overlapping the cuff pieces. I think this could have been done more elegantly, but oh well. I also wish they included more snaps in the notions list for the cuffs (they recommend buttons instead) and for the pockets. I luckily had a few extra snaps in my stash for the cuffs so was able to add them here. 

Now I have the perfect casual jacket for the lake or a parklet bar. The only problem is the Mr. has one in a lighter shade of canvas and is a little annoyed that I had to have one for myself ;)

Shoulder pads??

I am not quite old enough to have worn shoulder pads the last time around. To me, they remind me of my mom's old 80s blouses or the polyester shirts we'd turn our noses up at in thrift stores. Shoulder pads were the first thing I'd rip out of vintage finds, and it actually took me years to learn to put them IN blazers to give shape to a garment. 

So imagine my surprise to see them popping up in garments and sewing patterns all over. And I'm even more surprised to say I gave them a TRY. I can't say they worked out in every instance, but it's fun to experiment with something out of my comfort zone.

Pattern: Grasser Knit Jumper 810
Fabric: 2 yds knit
Cost: $12

First up is the Grasser jumper. This is a new-to-me pattern company from Russia and what drew me to it was a wide selection of really interesting patterns. This jumper in particular had such a different construction and shape that I was really excited to give it a try. 

The instructions are complete and include some pictures, but the translation is a bit off and the sleeve construction involved some trial and error on my part. But in the end, it all came together mostly as designed. The shoulders are supported with "roll fabric;" I used some light quilt batting to give it the extra shape. 

I did make some updates to the pattern before cutting it out. One, it's cut from a stable jersey rather than a thicker sweater material, so my version has less structure than the pattern. Because of this, the sleeves collapse a little rather than holding their shape, but I don't mind. And while I kept the sleeves the same, I updated the main body by eliminating the princess seams and changing the neckline to a regular crew neck. I got this idea from a few people on Instagram who had done the same and I find it works well on this less-structured version. Sometimes putting too many seams in jersey is just asking for wonky seams. 

It is admittedly not the easiest shirt to wear. It doesn't fit easily under sweaters, and is a bit of a new shape for me. But I actually like it more than I thought I would and have been wearing it a good bit. 

Next up is the MadeIt Patterns Eight Tee. This is part of their No Frills line, which is the same style and fit as their regular patterns but without detailed, step-by-step instructions. I found the information to be more than adequate, with full sizing information, technical drawings, fabric recommendations, and one page of instructions with a few illustrations for the more involved steps. 

Pattern: MadeIt Patterns Eight Tee
Fabric: 1 yd jersey
Cost: free - remnant

This top and the Just Patterns Claudia Tee have been really popular on Instagram this past month. I chose the MadeIt version because I liked the shoulder/sleeve construction - it folds under to create the shoulder line in a really unique way.  The top can be made with or without shoulder pads and, despite the name of this post, I chose to make it without. Even without the pads, it gives an exaggerated shoulder line for the same look. 

While the original shirt has a very boxy construction, I wanted something with a more exaggerated shape - wide shoulders and a nipped-in waist. To do this, I cut the shirt off at the waistline and added a narrower band. I then pleated the top into the band at the side seams. I also experimented with adding a waist tie. Mijke from SewItCurly did a similar alteration, but by sewing the shoulder "pleats" together rather than adding a hemband. 

I'm not yet sure how I feel about this top. It's definitely interesting, but I'm not sure I like the silhouette on me. Perhaps the original silhouette would have been better, but with my small shoulders I do feel like I'm swimming in it a bit. 

Either way both of these tops were really fun to experiment with and I'm glad I tried a new trend.  I've also been playing with wide-leg pants, another trend I've seen popping up, but I'm NOT ready for the return of low-rise jeans. 

Adjusting the Deer and Doe Myosotis

I think I'm just going to sew green things from now on. I have at least two more green projects in the wings. But next up to share with you is another version of the Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress.

Pattern: Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress
Fabric: 2 yds linen
Cost: fabric was a gift from mom :) 

When this pattern first came out I remember someone saying that it looked like an oversized toddler dress. While it is quite loosely cut, I think it's this easy-wearing shape that has made it a popular pattern for sewers. Personally, this is my second version and I find it to be a nice, casual, comfortable dress. 

I sewed this up in a beautiful linen that my mom sent me. The fabric, as with other linen I've sewn this year, is loosely woven and has a bit of give to it. It's perfect for this pattern because it doesn't need to fit tightly and precisely to the body, so a bit of stretching or fabric distortion wasn't much of a problem. 

The main change I made from my previous version was to lengthen the pattern at center front. It seems like everywhere I look these days patterns are riding up in the front. I don't know if it's intentional or not, but to me it just looks like the pattern didn't account for the bust shape and has a distorted waistline. Even the sample photos for this pattern ride up, giving not just the waistline but the skirt a high-low hemline. It's clear in the photos but not in the line drawing, so I assume this is a fit issue and not a design mistake. It looks ill-fitting unless you're actually trying to do a mullet hem!

If you're looking to make a similar adjustment, I started by slashing the front bodice at the lengthen/shorten line and pivoting it to add the required amount (about an inch and a half for me!). It's important to pivot so that you don't lengthen the side seam, just the center front. From there, I redrew the grainline and center front parallel to the hem. I also redrew the legs of the dart to connect the point and ends of the dart indicated on the pattern, as the legs get a little distorted. Finally, I added another button and redrew them so they were evenly spaced. 

I don't have a great photo of how this pattern originally fit me (probably because I like to hide my flaws). But below on the left you can see to some extent how the bodice and skirt on my first version ride up in the front. The right is my adjusted pattern with a more even waistline and hem. Success!

You'll also notice that I lengthened the skirt on my second version to a length that was more comfortable for me. I actually lengthened it a bit too much (five inches) and ended up making the ruffle a bit shorter. I wish I'd keep the original proportions but I'm pretending it's fine.  

Also, look how much my hair has grown over the last year of quarantine! I am also experimenting with cutting more layers and letting it air dry wavy. Now I'm just hoping the weather warms up again so I can wear my dress out. 

Green Blazer for the Good Times

Remember a few years ago when everyone was building their wardrobe and trying to make clothes for the way they live? More cake less frosting. Becoming a wardrobe architect. All that jazz. Well, one year into the pandemic and I have no interest in sewing for the way I'm living. I have been feeling so unkempt in my sweatpants, no-makeup, and ponytail. So I'm dressing for the life I want. And somehow that life involves bright lips, clean hair, and a forest green blazer with rolled cuffs. 

Fabric: 2 yds Robert Kaufman Ventana Twill in Dark Green
Cost: $30

Do I need a blazer right now? Absolutely not. But when you're bored at home it is the perfect challenging project. Also, if things ever do open back up, this will be nice for dressing up a bit or even more casual work meetings. I just love a good green!

I wanted to make a blazer because I love being able to roll my sleeves up. But if you've ever tried this on a normal jacket you'll find that it is quite difficult if the sleeves are too small at the wrists. To adjust this pattern, I found the widest part of each sleeve piece and widened all the tapered lines to match that width. So the sleeve is no longer tapered and rolls up really nicely. It makes the sleeves look pretty big and I thought I might have to take them in some, but this is really how much fabric you need if you want to be able to roll them up. 

I used my old standby pattern for this blazer, McCall's Palmer Pletsch Misses' Jacket #6172. I believe I bought this in 2010 and have been making great-fitting blazers with it ever since. Surprisingly, it is still for sale on the McCall's website. My friend Beth the jacket queen even named this as one of her favorite blazer patterns, so you know it's worth it. And if you're looking to brush up on your jacket-making skills, she offers classes at Hello Stitch studio

One other change I made to this pattern was to change the welt pocket to a sort of patch pocket that sits neatly between the side seam and the front princess seam. The truth is, I'm really not that good with welt pockets and wanted to try something a bit different. I also think it helps make the blazer a bit more casual.

I also haven't added a button yet. Maybe I'll leave it this way? 

Some people choose unlined jackets because they think the construction will be cheaper than making a lining. But I find that you spend so much time on nice seam finishes (which will show when you take the jacket off) that it is almost certainly quicker to line it. So of course, to take up as much time as possible, I did a mostly unlined version with bound seams. Not only did this give me more project to work on, but it also meant I could work with the materials I had on hand and not have to buy more lining. I lined the sleeves in a leftover lighter weight twill that turned out to be almost an exact match. The other seams are bound in a combination of black and black and white bias tapes that I had on hand. It was the perfect way to use up leftover materials. 

Here's another shot of the inside. You can see all the bound seams in more detail, as well as the sleeve lining. All the facings were hand sewn to the garment, and the sleeve was hand sewn at the armhole. 

I hope I find a time to wear this soon. In the meantime, I'll be dreaming about the life I want. 
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