lumberjack

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You may recall, I made Mr. AFS a plaid flannel shirt a little over a year ago from Simplicity 1544. Since then I’ve gone on to make more versions of the shirt, perfecting fitting problems each time and so this iteration is pretty much near perfect for his body and build. Additionally, he wears that first flannel shirt a lot when it starts getting cold. In fact, it’s surprising just how much he wears it considering he doesn’t like plaid – it’s the flannel. He just loves the warmth. So I thought it was time that he received another. I hauled him on over to a Joann and had him pick out his own flannel this time. They have a surprising collection of flannels – called “plaiditudes” – that are quite thick and fluffy and soft. They wash up OK (just OK, not great) too and since I can’t get my hands on any of that Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel locally, this works.

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Fitting changes for Simplicity 1544 since the first iteration: I’ve had to widen the collar – or make it 2 sizes larger because the original was too small in the neck. I narrowed the shoulder seam so that the point where the sleeve connects rests at the point where his shoulder point actually is and doesn’t droop over the side (which is not necessarily a bad thing, just not the look I was going for). Had to give him a little extra room in the upper back and then nipped in the waist section a touch. The sleeves were considerably shortened (very long in the sleeve on this pattern) and the cuff tightened.

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Since this flannel is so wonderfully thick, I thought I should try my hand at a convertible collar version for this shirt as it seemed like it could cut down on the bulk in the neck area. I took a vintage pj top pattern (which I made for Mr. AFS a few years ago!) and stole the collar and the facing piece from it and converted my Simplicity 1544 to have a convertible collar option. From there, I made a few more drafting decisions based on eliminating bulk. I decided to create an all-in-one convertible collar and I did a fold over facing instead of one that is stitched on. The all-in-one convertible collar is pretty slick. It’s an idea that I saw Louise Cutting do (Threads article here) and I’ve long wanted to try it because I love basically everything that woman does. You basically take the collar piece, eliminate the seam at the collar’s edge and attach an under collar that has a seam down the center back of the collar. It has all the bells and whistles of a jacket collar, but all in one – the under collar section is on a slight bias (not a true 45• angle, but still) and has a seam down the center and that creates a nice turn of the cloth for the upper collar. Seriously, slick.

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I stole a new pocket pattern from the Negroni free download – great pocket patterns by the way! – and from there it was all easy as pie. This is also one of my best ever plaid matching jobs. I opted to use Tasia’s way of cutting plaids this time – well sort of. I prep my pattern pieces a little differently for a plaid, but I used her pinning technique for the fabric. I’ve normally done the pieces one by one. I’ll lay a just cut piece on top of another that’s not cut to make sure I get an exact match and pretty much 100% of the time, the cut piece gets distorted just by moving it and/or the cutting is never as precise as doing them in double layer. It sounds a little crazy, but it happens. Cutting two layers at once eliminates that small distortion and can produce a more happy plaid matching experience. Just some food for thought.

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Mr. AFS is loving his new shirt. Fits quite a bit better than the first version and I’m liking the convertible collar here. Itching to make my own! Previously, I’ve not been much of a convertible collar fan, but they have a place. Yay for plaid flannel shirt weather!

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linton tweed

linton-tweed-3Fall has lasted forever here, but winter is just around the corner and with it holiday time! Is it just me or do the dresses that come out around this time of year shock you? What I’m talking about is the fact that there seems to be an awful lot of dresses that flood the market for the “holidays” and they are more often than not, wispy little things, sleeveless and well, they look like you could catch a death of cold in them! It’s something that I think about every year when this part of the year rolls around. “Gosh that’s a pretty dress, but I wouldn’t be caught dead in it in this weather” as I look outside and see snow falling. Granted I live in a state where the snow does fly and it can get pretty cold. And in general, I get cold and I’m always bundled up to the nines and in something much more dreadfully boring than those fun holiday dresses.

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Anyhow, I was thinking about all of this when the idea hit me that I needed more winter friendly dresses. I got myself over to a local chain fabric store on my lunch hour one day and started gandering at the Newlook book. I don’t know why, but I always overlook the Newlook and Kwik Sew patterns. Newlook has some pretty great patterns though. I found several dress patterns that had fun necklines and yet seemed like a quick sewing fix. That’s what this Newlook 6144 (out of print now!) was and I knew it would be a perfect addition to the winter dress library.

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This dress was also work appropriate. This is something I’ve been rolling around in the old noggin for a while now and I’ll be doing more posts about, but work appropriate clothes can sometimes be pretty hard to accomplish. Well, they are for me. I’m wanting to look a certain, professional, yet fun, exciting and stylish way and the two get sort of blended together in a way that doesn’t always work for me. More on that to come.

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I decided to use a stash piece of fabric. All of the fabric was stash, actually (yay! I’m so proud of myself!). I was determined to use stash! The body is Linton Tweed and it is pretty thick. Quite thick really, and warm – perfect for snowy days. The sleeves are a navy wool crepe I had and then I lined the dress in bemberg rayon lining – some bits and bobs that I had lying around so that I could get the pieces used up. I used an invisible zip and used a lining treatment for the vent that comes from my favorite Easy Guide to Sewing Linings book.

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The tweed was marvelous to work with. It did what I wanted it to do and was very easy to press and shape. I had purchased this fabric a couple of years ago, from their pretty fantastic online store. To be honest, if you’re into fine fabrics much, the prices for these tweeds are not really as much as I was anticipating they would be – I mean don’t get me wrong, they are expensive. I’ve seen them range from $25 – $75 per meter which seems standard when you’re looking at fine unique wools. The shipping is fairly costly, but I remember I received my package within 3 days!

I took the time to do plaid matching and was very happy with the way my Pfaff stitched it together using that Integrated Dual Feed! I used the lining trick from this Threads article (same lady who wrote Easy Guide to Sewing Linings) and it’s one of my favorite techniques to use with facings. I opted for a more conservative fabric belt and belt loops instead of the OBI belt that came with the pattern. I handstitched the hem and used rayon seam binding for hem tape as a final finishing touch.

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All in all, this dress turned out pretty great. The fitting was fairly simple, the construction too and I’m thrilled that I have an appropriate winter dress for the workplace – if not a little party get together after! I’m so glad it’s warm – like winter coat warm! Yay! Ready or not Winter, here I come!

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What do you do to keep warm in the winter? How do you work around the holiday dresses that flood the market this time of year and seem ill equipped to deal with winter weather? Is it just me? I just don’t know how you wear a sleeveless wispy dress in the snow. Last, but not least, visit my Kollabora page for a full detailed review of this dress.

some like it hot. really hot.

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It was fairly recently that I discovered that Style Arc now has an Etsy shop where you can purchase PDF versions of many of their patterns. I stalked it for awhile. I mean, I actually have several of their patterns that I’ve ordered and have the printed paper copy of (their official webstore is located here). Having only heard good things about Style Arc – especially as concerns fit – I’ve long wanted to try one. Why I couldn’t just settle for using one that I’ve already purchased I don’t know. I have that squirrel disease. “Oh look, SQUIRREL!!!!!!!” In other words, my attention span has been fairly short lately.

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It only got shorter when I saw a few versions of the Kate wrap dress. If there’s one thing that I know about myself, it’s this. I love wrap dresses, but never make them. Yet, whenever I’m pattern perusing/shopping, guess what pattern I always end up purchasing? Some sort of wrap dress. Always. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many I have. Another disease, I’m certain, but I have a lot of them. Wrap dress patterns, I mean. Not diseases. So the Kate dress. This one somehow, jumped into my Etsy shopping cart and was downloaded and printed before I could even mouth the words Kate in my half-crazed-Kate-Dress-looking-up-everything-and-every-image/review-internet-vortex-stupor.

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I cut out and stitched up, what was supposed to be, a wearable muslin. That didn’t turn out. I mean they never do for me because I’m such a picky thing. I think I might finally be cured of the idea that I can make a wearable muslin. Ha. Anyway, the muslin told me a few things that I needed to fix and most importantly it told me that fabric choice in this dress is key. Non of that slinky, show-every-lump-and-bump kind of rayon jersey that I used in my muslin. I needed to use something beefier. So I decided to splurge on a stash piece of wool knit. It’s a pretty nice wool knit and it was perfect for the job.

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All in all, I made very few alterations to the pattern, which I found impressive (and which then prompted me to go right ahead and purchase a couple more downloadables from the Etsy shop, but hey who’s keeping tabs on that kind of thing?). I opted to use the left front for both front wrap pieces – wasn’t wild about the tucks on the right front for me (even though yes, I tried them). I lowered the waistline to where my waistline actually is which was about 1 1/2″ down from the original pattern. I chopped about 2 1/2″ off the hem (after lowering the waist). I took 1/2″ off of the neckline all the way around because, hey I’m up for a little sex appeal here and there and a little more skin was just the ticket. I got rid of the tucks in the sleeve (personal preference) and shortened it a mite. Lengthened the tie about 15 inches (wanted to be able to tie in the front) and Voila! done. These are pretty minor tweaks if you ask me – most of which are purely aesthetic. I mean usually I have to do a major forward shoulder adjustment on the bodice coupled with a broad upper back adjustment. Add in a sway back, plus a serious side seam take-in at hips and waist even though my measurements are a whole inch bigger than the size chart measurements on the back of the pattern envelope (I’m sure y’all have no idea which pattern companies these might be, right? Right???)

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Some construction deets. These Style Arc patterns come with a few lines of written instruction at best. I’m totally fine with this as I usually have a better construction method than the directions offer anyway. I opted to do a turned under neckline binding and I did the binding out of cotton/lycra jersey, for comfort. I applied it just like bias tape, due to the bulk, and then shortened it so that it hugged the neck. No gaping here! I used SewKeyZ woven stay tape for the shoulders and the knit stay tape for the hem of the dress. Used my coverstitch for the sleeve hem and dress hem and well, there’s not much more to say. This dress is easy peasy. Would even recommend to a beginner.

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Wearing one of my Gertie slips underneath this dress and it works out wonderfully! Works well and makes it nice and comfortable against the itch factor of the wool – though the wool isn’t that itchy, slips or linings always help, in my opinion. Plus, in the event that our Utah wind flips the wrap flaps open, I’m covered, literally!

Expect more Kate Wraps in my future. I’m on the lookout for a printy ponte as I feel the print would hide some of those lumps and bumps better (I know, we all have them, well at least I do). This thing is just the ticket for a working girl. Secret pajamas I’m telling you. Plus, once I find the right silk jersey for the job, it’s full blown DVF territory – if I haven’t hit that already. For those interested, here’s my full review of this pattern. Cheers and here’s to a happy October!

Made: Butterick 6031 Slips

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There comes a time in every woman’s life (I might be prone to exaggerate just a tad) that she has to face the need for new underpinnings. I don’t know about you, but for me this is such a needle in a haystack. I can look forever and ever for just the right bra or just the right underwear or as the case may be, just the right slip. And correct me if I’m wrong, but especially in the slip department, there are some serious, serious deficits. Even if you can find something, it’s usually an arm and a leg, or it’s just….grose.

Well, I couldn’t even find anything. Nothing. Not a thing. I’ve looked. I’ve scoured. I’ve even tried to find vintage slips at the thrift and right now, there seems to be a serious slip MIA because I finally decided to stop wasting my time and energy and just make something! Personally, I have nothing against making underpinnings of any kind, I just usually always opt to make something else first. But when the need arises, I’ll rise to the occasion.

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I had purchased Gertie’s Butterick 6031 awhile back. I was out with my mom and we were getting a few patterns from the local JoAnn. I couldn’t resist this particular pattern because the slips just look so pretty on the model and with some things I make, I do like to wear a slip. I waited several weeks before I even picked up the pattern again and decided that it needed to be made. I just finished up a wool knit wrap dress and was in desperate need of a nice slip to wear underneath.

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I pulled out my fabric and found a few micro jerseys to choose from (where I find all this fabric, I have no idea, sometimes it feels like it just magically appears). This is the fabric that Gertie recommends as per her sewalong and I had picked up the nude from Emma One Sock and the grey/blue and lavender from a local fabric shop (Designer’s Resource, if you live here in SLC). There are a few other fabrics that I think would work wonderfully in this pattern, namely swimsuit fabric and/or lining. I’ve seen some of those at the local JoAnn and do think they would do a marvelous job, but if you’re looking for these micro jerseys be on the lookout from something that falls away from the skin, feels cool to the touch and is usually a polyester and spandex blend. Usually something like 92% polyester and 8% spandex. They stretch in both directions but recover immediately.

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Anyway, once the fabric was set, all that was left was finding all the notions that one needs for this project. I can see why Gertie did kits for this because there are several things that you need. I happened to have leftover stretch lace from my shop – a blessing since this calls for quite a bit. I actually forgot that I had picot edge elastic and instead used some swimsuit elastic for my first slip and just folded over the elastic and did that fancy straight stitch zig-zag. I had to send off for the strap elastic and rings and sliders (bramakerssupply.com) but I was pleasantly surprised with the quick shipping. For my first rendition I used the strap elastic for the whole of the strap as I didn’t have any of the right width of stretch lace and then for my second and third rendition, I got on a comfort soapbox and tried something else. For those, I opted to make a strap from swimsuit elastic that was encased in the matching micro jersey. First I attached to one edge with a zig-zag and then then folded over twice and did the fancy straight stitch zig-zag. Uber, uber comfy and doesn’t cut into my shoulder (I am so picky about comfort, it’s almost ridiculous!). Stole the idea from a bra I love.

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And then I just made silly little bows from the outrageous amount of ribbon I have and voila! Done! I made the third – the nude version – in about 3 hours time, cut to finish. Addicting for sure and a project that I highly recommend. While I don’t look like the model in the finished slips (yup, I have a tummy!!!) I still feel pretty, they do the job and they are so comfortable. All wins in my book!

If you’re interested, here’s my full review. And now, off to make another wrap dress before I put it all together.

airline stewardess

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This cute little dress is the Bistro Dress by Liesl + co. It had been awhile since I looked at this company’s pattern line-up for adults. While I’ve never actually made any of the patterns, I’ve loved the designs that have come out of Liesl Gibson’s studio. She has an amazing knack for being able to couple everyday wear with sophistication and class. Impeccably tasteful. I’ve been meaning to make up several of the designs and this one was seriously calling out to me.

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First, you should know that this is a digital pattern. Second, you should know that the instructions are marvelous and the printout for this pattern was fabulous as it truly, TRULY uses the least amount of paper. I will give praise where it is due and it is definitely due here. Additionally, the draft of the pattern is excellent. Very precise. Everything matched up where it was supposed to and I was pretty happy with the muslin mock up.

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Saying that the draft of a sewing pattern is excellent does not mean that it fits right out of the envelope, just in case you were wondering – I mean we all have different bodies, shapes and sizes so that would be impossible. I made my usual adjustments – forward shoulder, broad upper back, sway back. Outside of that, the fit was pretty good for my figure and I was very happy with the silhouette.

I opted to make this lovely up in some linen I had. This blue jay linen is/was from our online shop and then I paired it with a beautiful navy linen/silk blend because I felt like a break up in the color would be a nice touch. To do that, I did the belt loops and sash in the navy and then created a panel on the bottom of the dress too. Easy peasy. I do love this dress, but these colors are vaguely reminiscent of an airline stewardess, dontcha think? he he!

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This dress is fully lined in bemberg rayon (what else?) and I made a point to create a beautiful lining with facing in this dress. I had some of this lovely bias tape that I purchased from Tissu Fine Fabrics, here in SLC and so I thought I should probably use it. I think it worked out pretty gorgeously. I love touches like these on the inside of a garment. I switched the zipper to the back from the side – only because the hip on this dress is more semi fitted and for me it slides right on. And you can see that I left it sleeveless. I did actually try adding the sleeves and I felt it aged me about 20 years. The short sleeve mind you. I think this is just a combination of the color, the fabric and the style. To be honest, I think in a different fabric it would be just fine.

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All in all, I’m incredibly pleased with this dress and the sewing experience. It ended up being very wearable and summery and comfortable. The comfort is really really great actually. I mean this thing feels like pajamas. Loving the notch at the neckline too. Great pattern here!

Do you know about Liesl Gibson’s Liesl + co. line? You should definitely check her out – worth every cent, I’m telling you!

shameless

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Selfish sewing time has been completely non-existent for me the past several weeks. Boo. After closing down and moving out of our brick and mortar shop, there still seemed to be endless amounts of straggling items of business to do. It’s been one thing after another after another, which is fine. Then, when chance came for a spot of sewing, guess who put in for some new t-shirts?

Saying that Mr. AFS has been my right hand through all of this wouldn’t cut the mustard. He helps me with every part of my online shop now. He’s still technically “in training” but he’s doing a passable impression of CEO. Since the tee’s on his back were literally about to fall off (holes and everything) telling him “no” didn’t seem like an option. I even tried to talk him into a couple of tees from Ross (a discount chain store) – we were even there looking at them!! – and he absolutely refused. Spoiled. Now he’s beginning to understand the difference between having something custom made for him vs. trying to find something that fits, is the right color and features everything he wants at the store.

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Additionally, I thought it would be a good plug for our jersey knits and for me to chat about what goes into buying knit for our online shop. ha ha (nervous laughter). When it comes to knits, I am incredibly picky. I’ve made several knit projects that basically bombed after wearing because of the fabric choice pilling, or the fabric choice was so awful, I got half way through and tossed it. I’ve done a lot of online fabric shopping in my time and well, I’ve only ever had one problem with a woven fabric (it was a very bad color in person). Knits are a completely different story. I’ve bought a lot of knit online and I would say that a really good portion have been complete flops in person. I’ve noticed that the weight – the sheerness of the knit – is a huge deal to me. I think thin sheer knits are for the dogs. Ugh. Awful to sew with and I always end up having to wear something underneath anyway. Sigh. The other thing that is pretty tell-tale of a bad knit, is the wash and wear. Pilling is so unsightly to me. I’ve had a good jot of rayon jerseys that pill and so I’m very careful when purchasing those for my shop.

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I made a pattern from Mr. AFS’s favorite tee and then made a test wearable t-shirt (above). The fit was exactly the same as the original tee.

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This t-shirt was fabric from some old shop stock. 100% cotton mini rib knit. This stuff is really soft and I’m pretty sure it was organic. This pic (above) was taken just after Mr. AFS had kissed his own bicep. He must really love the way his arms look in these tees. Ahem. Moving right along….

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Second tee, I got a lot more creative. Made him a henley with a pocket and back yoke with pleat. This proves great in a solid colored knit because we can actually see the texture and details without trying to squint through a print. He’s loving it. This knit is one of our 10 oz. cotton jerseys that contain 5% spandex (the Burgundy if you were interested). They. Are. Awesome! They sew up like a dream, will last a good long while and they have great color retention. Really comfortable to wear too.

I used the button placket pattern from David Coffin’s Shirtmaking book and put it together like a placket on a sleeve. All went well as per everything I’ve ever done from his book – love it! If you haven’t, take a gander at our knit selection. Get a swatch or two! I’m totally into converting you to my way of knit fabric thinking!

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When Sara Lawson – yes! the gal who designs some of those gorgeous fabrics for Art Gallery!! – contacted me and asked if I would like to be apart of her Dress Up Party, I was delighted! Seriously. I rarely get asked to participate in fun little online sewing gatherings (and even then, sometimes I have to say no because of stuff like time….) and so this time I definitely jumped at the chance. My mom and sis had put in for some handmade wearables and well, though I do indulge a good amount of unselfish sewing, it had been too long since I was actually able to sew something for myself and feel really really good about it.

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Since this is my first post since a nice blogging hiatus, I thought I could give you the link for my review of this Kwik Sew skirt and vintage Simplicity t-shirt (click here for those) and also offer some updates as to what I’ve been up to and mind blowing words of wisdom. OK, actually the words of wisdom might have to wait until I actually have wisdom, but at least I can fill you in on my whereabouts these days. Being the inquisitive (yet reclusive, go figure) creature that I am, I’m always curious when others in the blogging community take extended leaves of absence and what they are up to now. So you know, fame being all in my own mind of course, I naturally thought you would be curious! Ha ha! Those of you who’ve read me for a long time know that this last year and a half has been pretty rough. Owning a brick and mortar shop was hard work!  And then we closed it up and tried a sewing parlor and then closed that up too. We’ve moved an entire store into a tiny, yet rather uppity, storage facility. I thought that closing my brick and mortar business would be easy and that I could go right back to being me after it was all over, but I’m sure you know that’s not how life works. It’s kind of like going away to college/university that first year. You can never really go home again because home and you are now so different from when you left – or so was my experience. I am glad to have the burden of being a brick and mortar shop owner lifted, but by the same token, it doesn’t erase anything I’ve been through. Not a bad thing, mind you. Just a life lesson I’m being taught again. I’ve had to re-enter the workforce and have been working more than full-time since about March-ish. It’s been kind of brutal (because I’m a big lazy slob that loves to sleep in, take naps and do nothing but guzzle Dr. Pepper – OK, not really, but that sounds like the life for me!). Anyway, I’ve finally settled into some regular schedules and time frames. AFS online shop will heading off in some new directions – more on that to come this year!

Anyhow, long story short, I haven’t been sewing much of anything lately and I’ve been working tons. Now I’m just trying to balance myself, my time and my ambitions. Back to that balancing/juggling act again. When I feel out of whack, I know it’s because I’m not balanced. I’m putting way too much time into one thing and not enough into other areas of my life. What about you? How do you balance your life?

This Memorial Day weekend – for those of us here in the U.S. – I’ve bee able to scratch out some time for sewing a little more of something for myself. Here comes a linen dress for summer – more on that soon. Hip Hip Hooray!