Working It Out

Not to psychoanalyze my sewing, but I've worked up a pretty good theory about my recent obsession with activewear. In the before times, I could care less about what I looked like when I worked out. I wanted clothes that were comfy and, preferably, with a pocket for my keys, but beyond that the same running clothes I'd worn for the past 15 years seemed fine. Now, I'm suddenly dreaming up pink matching workout sets and buying leopard-print spandex. What happened?

Well, my theory is this. Before, I could put my energy into fun dresses, skinny jeans, and outfits to wear out. Now, my main outings each day are usually just my morning run and afternoon dog walk. That's it. Suddenly that becomes my only chance to show off my personal style. To see and be seen. And damn it I'm going to take advantage of it!

So with that, I present to you my latest, a leopard print running outfit. 

Pattern: Greenstyle Creations Tempo Tights and Sophie Hines Axis Tank
Fabric: 2 yds reversible leopard print activewear in dusty rose, plus black mesh
Cost: $30

This is another version of the Greenstyle Creations Tempo Tights, which I love for its good fit and fun print mixing possibilities. The reversible fabric on this one made it really easy. I also ordered some more black mesh, this time in a more open weave. (OK I also ordered like a ton more spandex. More on that later.) 

The one update that I made to this pattern, which you can see in the photo above, is that I cut the lower leg insert on the fold rather than as a front and back piece. This eliminates the center seam and allows me to cut the mesh all as one piece. You have to sew it in last after sewing the inseam closed, but it works out well.

The top is another Sophie Hines Axis Tank. I like my tops a bit longer so I lengthened it again, and this time made it with the design panels - one cut in coordinating print and another in mesh. It's fun, but I actually think I might prefer slightly looser tops. And I still can't seem to get the bindings quite the right size. 

Of course, as soon as this fabric arrived the weather really warmed up and long running pants weren't working out too well. (Also, the fires came, so I had to take a break for running for a bit.) But once we had clear skies I thought I might also like some in a bike short length. My thighs tend to rub together when running, so I prefer spandex to looser shorts and wanted them long enough to protect my legs from the rub. I used another spandex from my mail order to put these together. 

These are actually a modified version of the Greenstyle Stride Tights that I have been drafting up. They are designed to have diagonal pieces all down the legs. For the shorts, I raised the diagonal line some and sewed the bottom panel in mesh. This makes them super breathable. The top part still has the pocket and it's even long enough to stash a phone in (though I usually don't run with one). The one update I made after sewing was that waistband, which is double thickness, felt pretty warm on my run. I unpicked it and resewed it as a single layer. Much better!

The tank is an a-line top that's a combination of the Megan Nielsen Reef Camisole with the Axis Tank straps and neckline. The fabric is super soft and I may even steal this (or make another) for non-workout wear. This is definitely my preferred style for runs and it so perfect!

So, one last thing. After making these tights I of course made a few more. And a few more. And as you can tell my obsession is growing. Rather than keep on with the blog posts I figured I'd put it into one quick video for you! Ha!

I hope you are enjoying your weekend and finding fun ways to fill your time! 

Goodbye to Summer

This past week was brutal. Fire smoke has been chocking our air, driving us inside our stuffy apartment. It's lonely - you can't visit with friends inside because of the virus or outside because of the smoke. It's stuffy - we can't open the windows so now it's been much warmer inside than without. On Wednesday, the sky was so dark that it looked like night most of the day. For each adaptation I make in 2020, it feels like it just throws more punches. I feel so deeply for those affected by the events of 2020!

In my free time, I've been trying to focus on happier things. So today I'm throwing it back to one last summer project from a happier time - my new bathing suit from our trip to the foothills at the beginning of August.

Pattern: an amalgamation of personal patterns
Fabric: 1 yd nylon spandex
Cost: $10

Cooped up indoors for most of the summer, this swimsuit had a lot of internet inspiration. First, I love these bikini bottoms from Sew Swimmingly. You can get the pattern on their site but I had already fitted a pair of high-waisted Ohhh Lulu Grace Panties so I just used those. I have a very long lower torso, so to get them to fit at the waist I had raised them quite a bit! Having already done that, it was just a matter of attaching a circular flounce to the side panels to get this fluttery mermaid look. It looks like the Sew Swimmingly pattern has you sew the flounce into a seam, but I just topstitched mine to the side panels before sewing the panels to the front and back pattern pieces. So that you don't see the stitch line, I topstitched the flounce upside down and then just folded it down over the seam line. 

The top was a bit more of a project. I like a bit more of a substantial top to balance out fuller bottoms. I first tried out (and fully made!) the Edgewater Ave Maxine Top (not pictured). It's quite cute and I learned some interesting construction, but I just didn't love it with these bottoms. Having nothing but time on my hands, I decided to make another! The Lisette for Butterick pattern 6358 would have been great, but it's out of print and I'm not about to go running around town trying to find one. (Bonus if you do have it - it's got the right bottoms for this suit, too!) Instead, I used a personal pattern I had traced off a Madewell bra and adapted it to have tie fronts. The construction got a bit dicey but in the end it came together quite well. 

Here's me at the river, enjoying happier times.

Our warm weather (and smoke!) is likely to continue for a while yet but I'm all out of swimsuit fabric so I'll be looking for something else to sew. Stay safe everyone!

Atlas Top

Yesterday was over 90 degrees with smokey air. That means I spent the day inside, windows closed, in a building with no AC. I honestly don't know what I'd do without my sewing this year because it really is the only thing that makes things bearable. Can't even do any stress baking without turning up the oven. Luckily sewing also gives me the skills to sew up amazing warm weather tops like the Atlas Top, the newest release from Stitch Witch Patterns. 

Pattern: Stitch Witch's Atlas Top 
Fabric: 1 yd jersey knit
Cost: fabric remnants from my mom

While I haven't pattern tested anything in a while, I have an abundance of time on my hands and was immediately drawn to this pattern. The front has clean lines and a shape I really like with a high neckline and the perfect sleeveless cut. It also has interesting bust darts that emanate from the center front seam rather than the sides, which keeps things interesting. 

Of course, the back is the real star of this pattern. It has a lovely criss-cross strap design that is really cute! It also helps to keep things breezy when it is the aforementioned 80+ degrees inside my apartment. And while I almost never wear a bra these days, I put one on for these photos and was pleasantly surprised to see that it's pretty bra friendly. 

As I do for most pattern tests, I first sewed this up muslin fabric to test the fit and construction. Madeline had already adjusted the neckline to sit a tad lower and the bust darts to sit a tad higher and the fit was spot on for me. Since the testing phase, she also reported making the sides a bit more fitted but I prefer this cut. 

For my final version, I sewed it up in a remnant jersey from my stash. This top is NOT intended for stretch knits, but it being quarantine and fire season and I all I decided to work with what I had on hand. The bust darts sit a bit too low in a knit but otherwise it's really comfy and works well. Someday I hope to make it up in a woven whenever I'm able to restock the right fabric. 

I sewed this final version up in a length slightly longer than the cropped version. Unlike a traditional shirt, you have to make the length adjustments before cutting out your pattern, as the back straps need to be adjusted to hit at the right length. I have a long torso, and so this length allows it to sit perfectly with my high-waisted jeans. 

Madeline, the designer, has a degree in Fashion Design and has worked in the industry before designing sewing patterns. I really appreciate patterns from those who have taken the time to get more formal training as I find they are more dependable to fit and sew. This top is simple but came together really nicely and has thoughtful fit and construction. The only thing is I wish she had added some more pattern markings, particularly at the shoulders, to help you put things together more easily. If you measure right and are careful with the facings though, you will have a nice, clean finish on your top. 

Ok, off to go fan myself and dream of another long weekend of sewing... 

The Return of the House Dress

According to NPR, the house dress is having a renaissance. Why wear sweatpants all the time (and I do that, too) when you can be just as comfy in a cute dress? As the temperatures have risen and we can't escape to a movie theater or even open the window due to smokey air from the California wildfires, I have found myself reaching again and again for comfy, loose shift dresses. If you gotta get dressed during the apocalypse, might as well be comfy, amiright? 

Pattern: traced from RTW
Fabric: mid-weight cotton woven
Cost: gift from my mum

This dress is traced off of a second-hand sleeveless Old Navy dress that I just couldn't stop wearing this summer. It is loose but still shapely, with bust darts and a v-neckline. I had originally added on the Inari sleeves as well, but found the fit to be horrible in woven - much too constricting for an easy-wear dress. I went back to the original sleeveless design and was much happier. And of course I added pockets, too, which have already proven useful. 

This dress was very experimental, especially around the placket and collar as I didn't put too much thought into it before tracing and cutting my pieces out. The button placket is a bit off-center and probably not the recommended way to do it, but it ended up working in the end. Plus I found the perfect red snaps to go on it! 

I traced the collar off of a button-up shirt pattern but ended up needing to pinch out a lot of the fullness because, like a button-up shirt, the collar I cut stood away from the body. Luckily I had just enough fabric for all these little changes and ended up pretty happy with the results. While you could work all this out ahead of time, I sometimes like just cutting into something and seeing where it takes me. Very freeing! 

The fit is also fairly forgiving, although the bust dart ended up being pretty big for me - I wonder if the dart on the original got pressed down and conformed to my smaller bust over time. For me, this dress works fine with a bra and without. In fact, while I put make up on and everything for you guys, I didn't realize that I hadn't put on a bra until I was walking down the stairs to take photos. I think the no-makeup, no-bra look is here to stay and this dress works perfectly fine for that. 

Another fun feature of this dress is the mix of stripes. It's nothing radical, but I cut the left side on the crossgrain and the right side on the lengthwise grain to mix things up a bit. I do love a good stripe! My mom was curious if you're "allowed" to cut your pattern on the crossgrain (she's much more of a rule follower than I am!). I think in a stable cotton like this you should have no issues, as both the lengthwise and crossgrain are "on grain." Where you might run into trouble is with a fabric with an obvious nap (like velvet) or one that has a two-way stretch or is very loosely woven and might grow more in one direction than another. But so long as you cut it with the grain (crosswise or lengthwise) and not off-grain you should usually be fine. 

I added a nice deep curved hem traced off another button-up shirt pattern for interest and ease of movement. I'm all about the comfort here! Curved hems can be really hard to turn under and hem, so I used my final scraps to trace a facing that I turned under and stitched in place. Don't forget to clip around your curves to help things turn easily to the inside. I didn't have enough to do armhole facings so you'll see a bit of bunching there where I used bias tape and pulled just a bit too tight. 

Honestly this dress is far from perfect but it's not bothering me one bit. There's some frayed ends sticking out from my french seams, there's the aforementioned bunching around the armholes and also some at the back neckline, and the pocket openings are maybe a smidge too small (but the pockets themselves are nice and deep!). But it is so comfy and fun to wear. It got me putting on my best sun accessories on a sunny Saturday. And that should be the essence of a good house dress - no fuss, easy to wear, and a hint of style. 

I hope you're making the most of the weekend, or at least hanging in there. Today I took my aggression out on our communal hallway laundry door - completely stripped two layers of paint, sanded, and repainted. And then slipped back into my house dress. 

His and Hers: Favorite Quarantine Patterns

At this point we've been mostly sheltered in place since March 11. That's over 5 months. Over 150 days. It hasn't always been easy - I had a lot of anxiety and some depressed feelings as I adjusted to it all. And these days find myself very angry at times. But we're learning to live with it and committed to slowing the spread. Sewing definitely helps. So today I'm sharing some of my favorite summer loungewear patterns that I've made these past few months for both me and my husband. They aren't anything too groundbreaking - Hudson pants, the Axis tank, Greenstyle leggings. But they do get worn all. the. time. 

For her: Sophie Hines Axis Tank, Hudson Pants, Greenstyle Stride Tights
For him: Thread Theory Strathcona Henley

First up is the tank top pattern of these summer - the Sophie Hines Axis tank. It's a unique pattern with no side seams (just a single seam up the back) so it sews up very quickly. I love the cutout shoulders and that it comes with some color-blocking options. That said, I had to make a few adjustments to the pattern to make it work for me. First, I re-sewed the neckline three times, moving lower until it no longer felt like it was chocking me. While I like the high-neckline look in theory, I quickly discovered it was not comfortable for me. I also found I had to shorten the armhole bands to get the right tension. Turned into a bit of a longer project with all that fiddling. You'll also notice that I lengthened the top. I'm not quite sure this is advisable given the lack of side seam - I definitely had to grade out and it still rides up at my hips a bit. Overall though a very comfy top for summer and I managed to sew it before our heat wave hit.

Below you'll also see that I made a more A-line version. Again this is a bit tricky without the side seams and I'm not sure it fully worked, but I'm all about playing with patterns and having fun during quarantine. The fabric is very soft. 

I've paired each of these tops with two patterns I've sewn over and over again - the Hudson pants from True Bias and the Greenstyle Stride Tights. Each has pockets and lets me trade off between tighter and looser styles so they're pretty much all I need. The one thing I'll say about the Hudson pants is that, like most pants patterns, the fit really varies based on the fabric you're using. The two times I've made this previously they've been on the looser side, but this time they were actually so snug through the legs that I had to add a few inches of fabric to the outside leg seam to relax the fit a bit. I also subbed out the waistband for one that is the length of the elastic rather than the length of the pants to achieve a smoother, un-gathered look. I think I also adjusted the angle of the pocket opening so that my phone wouldn't fall out. 

For the Stride Tights, I used a semi-opaque mesh fabric on the side panels which makes them breezier for summer. I mostly wear this pair for running, but have another pair that I wear around the house. I just LOVE the pockets. 

Ok that's four for me what about for the Mr.? He somehow still wears non-stretch pants most days, though I've definitely seen him get more use out of the stretch jeans I've made him. This time around I made him two Strathcona Henleys. I think I meant to make these up for his last birthday (in December - whoops) but had the fabric on hand ready to go. He is partial to soft shirts and these definitely fit the bill. Plus the buttons make a t-shirt look a little dressed up for video meetings. Right?

One of the fabrics had a print on one side and was plain on the other, so I decided to have some fun with it. I like the diagonal stripe although I wish I'd centered it a bit lower. For some reason, I really struggled cutting this one out. 

I've made him one of these before that he wears often. While he is nearly 6 feet tall I did shorten the sleeves and torso as they are quite long. I also hate that placket - I find myself swearing every time I make it. On the plus side, you'll notice there was some fabric leftover for me ;) 

Any recommendations for your favorite loungewear patterns? 
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