Moving to the suburbs (OMG, two years already; I can hardly believe...) comes with a lot of benefits. But, it's also limiting in a lot of ways. In our former lives, we were incredibly accustomed to having access to specialty shops and grocers that provided us with access to the types of foods and products we prefer to use: organic, vegetarian, gluten-free, local. We've been able to adjust. Now that we have a yard, we garden and grow a lot of our own produce, for example. But, since moving away from the city, Mike and I have searched for places in our new surroundings that filled this void for us.
Quite on accident, Mike found Heritage Prairie Farm. We have a strange fondness for pickled foods: cucumbers,beets, garlic, green beans, etc...Anyway, right after we moved, he found a pickling class for us to take, so we could propel our fondness to the next level, at the farm. We've been continuously drawn back since for plant sales, they grow seedling from the same seeds we use, farm fresh eggs, honey, and Saturday morning coffee. They make an incredible cinnamon honey goat's milk latte. It's a really special place.
The farm also host a variety of other events, everything from weddings, to farm dinners, and craft shows. We were out there ordering our turkey for Thanksgiving dinner (this is a battle I lose, as the sole vegetarian in my clan) last weekend. It was a blustery (check out that hair), but beautiful day. And, Mike and I were able to take a couple of photos to share this place with you and show you another Archer/Moss Mini mash-up.
The flannel I used this time is Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel- Adventure. The fabric is considerably heavier than other flannels I've sewn with and has more pile. It's soft and scrumptious. The denim was shopped from my stash; it's secondhand from an estate sale. I'm steadily working through the fall/winter sewing I planned for myself, with the exception of pants... I'm not going to be able to put them off much longer. It's going to be too cold for tights soon.
This coat is the garment equivalent to walking around with a guitar; it makes you look instantly cool. Truth be told, I am not cool. I push against the mainstream. I'm a huge nerd. I'm extremely cautious. I get uptight pretty easily. I'm the antithesis of spontaneity. You catch my drift? Still, I feel like one of the cool kids in this coat.
The coat is none other than the Butterick Lisette waterfall coat: B6244. First, I really love that this pattern comes with pieces and instructions to sew both a dress and a coat. It's a nice modernization on a vintage concept, whether it's intentional or not. I love those 1950s/1960s patterns that assume the maker would sew a coordinating coat to cover her cocktail dress. I'm not fancy enough to have different jackets to wear with different dresses, but I like the idea of it.
The pattern for this coat is three pieces. It goes together relatively quickly. The most time consuming part of construction is flat felling all the seams. It's worth the effort, because the result is polished and professional. My only complaint with this pattern, which is really a matter of preference, is that the instructions don't go far enough with finishing techniques.
It seems silly to put me through the trouble of flat felling my sleeve seams when there's no special technique for setting the sleeve. And, why bother with beautiful seams if you're going to have me use narrow, machine stitched hems? If we're going to go, let's go all the way. Like I said, this is more an issue of preference. I opted to set my sleeves with French seams and hand-hemmed both my cuffs and hem using a 1inch double fold hem, because I think a heftier hem on bottoms and outerwear looks higher end.
Regarding size, I NEVER use the pattern recommendations. Instead, I measure the flat pattern and compare it to my body measurements. Because there is a lot of ease and drape in this style, I focused on the fit through the shoulder above all else. I cut the size 8 and made no modifications (except increasing the width of my hem). I typically make a narrow shoulder modification, but It wasn't necessary here.
The fabric I used is a 100% wool fabric I bought at Sacre Coupon in Paris. I bought this fabric with the specific intention of making this coat. It's a light-medium weight fabric with a felt-like consistency and beautiful drape. It was a great match for this pattern! I'm incredibly happy with this coat. If I can manage to work my way through the list of projects I've got queued currently, I'd like to sew a second. I've got an ecru colored wool from an estate sale that would make a great neutral top layer. This coat is perfect for the crisp fall weather we've been having, and it's light enough to wear in and out of buildings without overheating. I've barely taken this off since I finished it. :-D
Look! I have legs. They're short and still totally covered, but there they are. I am, apparently, into trying all sorts of new things right now. Or, in this case, I was willing to try something new in order to use the little pieces of corduroy I've been ferreting away.
Long time readers of this blog already know my extreme fondness for (addiction to) buying fabric at estate sales. They're treasure hunts. I never know what will be available for the picking. Some sales are better than others. Some sales are loaded with wool and silk. Others... not so much. I bought the corduroy I used to make this skirt at the latter variety.
I'm fairly certain the former owner of this fabric was a quilter, not a seamstress. So, it makes perfect sense that she would hold on to chopped up pieces of fabric. What doesn't make sense, is me bringing them home.
Except, if I remember correctly, I filled a heaping laundry basket of fabric and paid $5 for the lot; there was nothing to lose. Plus, I love corduroy. It's nostalgic, in a way. I remember wearing a lot of it as a kid. I also love flannel. Together, these fabrics make for gloriously warm fall attire.
Surprisingly, I didn't have any flannel in my stash. Since I knew I wanted to use the corduroy I had available, I grabbed a selection of those fabrics off the shelf and did my best to coordinate each of them with flannels online. It's sometimes tricky to match colors online, but I got lucky. This coral colored corduroy is a perfect match for the roses in the Kensington flannel I bought. I'm tempted to buy the navy, so I can have multiple outfit possibilities.
Speaking of multiples... this is another Grainline Studios Archer. If it's not broken, why fix it?
This whole outfit is a Grainline love child. The skirt pattern I used is the Moss Mini. And, it is mini. I am '5"1.5 tall and cut the longest possible pattern length, to give you an idea. I would have opted for the hem band, but I had less than one, non-continuous yard of this corduroy, which meant I had to cut the pattern flat and use contrast fabric for my pockets and waistband facing in order to make it work.
I really wish I had taken 'before' pictures of the corduroy. It looked like old rags with frayed edges and missing chunks. Now that it's sewn into a garment, you'd NEVER know. Actually, it downright looks impressive and expensive. It's the biggest transformation I've ever personally accomplished with fabric and a reminder that things don't have to be new or fancy to be useful.
This was my first go-round with the Moss Mini. The only change I made was to take a two inch wedge out of the yoke to fit my backside. Because, making my own clothes means not having to deal with gapping waistbands. #winning. I'm still getting used to the style of this skirt. I continue to alternate between pulling it up to sit and my waist, then down to cover my knees- neither of these things is possible or intended with this skirt.
It felt sad to return to the backyard for blog pictures after so many vacation posts (Paris, my heart aches for you as I continue trying to comprehend the attacks you faced last week), so Mike and I decided to make use of our beautiful scenery and headed down to the river to take advantage of the gorgeous fall we've been having here in Illinois. We've got a great system of walking/biking trails along the Fox River, which includes the Fabyan Villa Museum, a property redesigned by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1907. The property and the private collections of the family are open to the public and remains of the original estate can still be seen. It's one of our local gems and a great place to take-in fall foliage.
You were warned, I've got some serious love going for this pattern. I have sewn four. This, however, is my favorite of the bunch.
The pattern in question is McCall's M6886. It's a very basic, beginner friendly, knit dress that comes with three neckline, two skirt length and three sleeve options. I've sewn ViewB for all my renditions of this pattern. After completing my first dress, I decided to make the following modifications: 1/2inch narrow shoulder, 3/4 inch sway back adjustment, shortened sleeves by 1 inch, and shortened hem length by 1 1/2 inches. These are all typical adjustments for me.
The changes I made are small, but they make a difference in the overall fit of the dress. I could use more than 3/4 inches on the sway back (aka booty adjustment), but I didn't want to have to do any crazy redrafting on a simple knit dress pattern. And, I'm happy enough with the way this fits to leave it as it is.
My fabric this time around is a sweater knit remnant that I bought from Vogue Fabrics. I had to cut this flat in order to squeeze it out of the yardage I had available (Thanks, Tania for the tip!) It's very lightweight for a sweater knit, and it clings a little bit more than the other versions I made, but it's every bit as comfortable.
The fabric really shines in a pattern like this. There aren't a lot of seams obstructing or interrupting the print. I particularly love the bold splashes of red in this fabric. I think it's a little unexpected and surprising. It will really pop in a month or two when the city becomes a sea of grey and black.
We took these photos during a stroll along the newly opened Chicago River Walk. I'm really excited about the renovations taking place along the river. The path is lined with numerous restaurants, several of which are secondary locations for some of Chicago's neighborhood spots like, The Hideout and City Winery, which I think is a really cool way to bring a taste of the city to tourists not likely to venture far from the Mag Mile.
Finally, some season appropriate attire! :-D This is McCall's M6886. Full disclosure, this is actually the first of four M6886 dresses I've made. I don't typically gravitate towards body contouring styles or silhouettes. They're outside my comfort zone. However, as I was wardrobe planning and taking inventory of the types of garments I pin repeatedly on my Pinterest Dresses board, it became apparent that I like them. At least, I like them on other people (1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7., etc... ). So, I thought, why not?
I've been trying to concentrate my sewing energy on the types of clothes I want to wear instead of being drawn-in by pretty envelop art or the latest, greatest pattern release. Having visual inventory of the types of garments I like is an incredibly useful tool when it comes time to decide what I want to make. Despite having pinned hundreds of different pictures to various boards, I find that most of those images overlap and contain the same elements, styles, and pieces of clothing. Those recurring trends have been the blueprint for my project planning lately, and my self-stitched wardrobe is taking on a totally new & functional shape as the result.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like this dress. First, it's three pattern pieces and takes a small window of time to put together. Second, it's ridiculously comfortable. I literally feel like I'm walking around in a nightshirt all day when I'm wearing it; except, third, it doesn't look like a nightshirt. WINNING.
For this first version, I cut the pattern exactly as it is drafted. It's a decent fit out of the envelope, but I did make some adjustments down the line: 1/2inch narrow shoulder, 3/4inch sway back, sleeve and hem shortening. I'll show you those later. These are all fairly standard adjustments for me. So, I wasn't surprised.
The neckline and sleeves are finished with a narrow double fold hem. And, the skirt hem is 1inch doubled and machine stitched, leaving everything on the inside of the dress nice and neat.
The fabric I used is a textured poly knit Meg brought back from her trip to Korea last year. It's got A LOT of stretch. The texture reminds me of the texture produced by the puff paint I used to paint sweatshirts with back in the 80s/90s. That's a pretty dated reference... lol. At any rate, it adds a fun element to the dress.
This dress is a great blank slate for a chunky cowl or necklace, and I know I'm going to be layering it up with jackets and sweaters as the temperatures here continue to drop.
We got home from Paris just in time for my favorite season. FOOTBALL SEASON! Yes, I spend my Sundays sitting, knitting on the couch screaming at the television in between celebratory touchdown dancing. This is a slightly contentious time of year at my house, because I, a Packers fan, live in a house of Bears fans. And, well, my team is better. :-D
I've been working hard to learn how to be a more gracious winner. I'll even root for the Bears with Mike and Hallie when they're not playing The Pack. As a further gesture of good sportsmanship, and shining example of how far I've come, I didn't think twice about buying this vintage Bears sweatshirt fleece at a recent estate sale.
When I saw this fabric, I bought it with Mike in mind. When I got it home, my sister, Hallie, insisted that she deserved it as much, if not more than Mike. After all, I make him things all the time, and despite my assurance that I would make her something, sometime, I never have. It was a fair argument. They both won. There was enough there to stretch into two pairs of lounge pants, so long as Hallie didn't mind contrasting cuffs and waistband.
This fabric is most certainly authentic 80's poly sweatshirt from the golden era of Chicago football. I've warned them both about the hazards of standing too near open flames while wearing it. LOL. It doesn't have a lot of stretch, but it worked perfectly for these projects. And, based on the amount of wear both these pants have gotten since they were finished, it's comfortable enough.
Hallie's pants are sewn using Papercut Patterns Anima Pants pattern. I used this pattern previously to make my Crazy Dog Lady PJ's. I really like this pant pattern for casual lounging around the house pants. However, I want to figure out a way to incorporate more stretch into the cuff seam. Since the pant leg is eased into the cuff, it's a little bit restrictive. I'm considering trying to sew this seam with elastic thread. Thoughts? Suggestions?
For Mike's pants, I used Simplicity 1285. These pants are incredibly simple to sew. They have the same faux fly construction the Anima pants incorporate, but the only pocket option that comes with them is a back patch pocket. Mike says that they are very comfortable, and he would use this pattern again when he decides to cut-out some more pants for bumming around the house.
These pants were a nice way to get reacquainted with my machine and sew something quick and satisfying before diving into fall projects. Now, I need to find some green and gold so I can make a pair for myself!
It's bittersweet, but this is the final project I made to wear during our trip. And, while I've saved it for last, this dress was my number one priority when I started planning and sewing garments to take on vacation. This is my travel dress.
A good travel dress is an essential item during lengthy international flights. It's comfortable, easy to wear, nonrestrictive and wrinkle resistant. It feels like lounge wear, but doesn't look like it.
I love that this dress is a wrap dress. The wrap on this particular dress extends from hip to hip, which gives excellent coverage and reduces the possibility of 'accidental flashing'. I was also very attracted to the flutter sleeve, because it provides shoulder coverage, but it's really breathable. It's a nice compromise for an environment where the temperature is in constant flux, like an airplane.
Like many knit patterns, this dress is very simple to construct. I didn't make any modifications to this version. If I make it again, I will likely widen the neckline curve slightly, for a little less coverage. Overall, I am very pleased with the way this dress came together, and it MORE THAN served its purpose during both legs of our journey.
It was only natural that Meg, Liz, and I would collaborate on some sort of project for our trip. That is, after all, how our friendships blossomed. Initially we discussed a variety of possibilities. After dumping all our ideas out of the table, we found a shared interest in sewing the McCall's 6696 shirtwaist, and a plan was formed.
Per usual, we all started at the same place and ended at slightly different destinations. One of my favorite things about working with these ladies on a project is seeing how each of us puts her own mark on her final garment with fabric choice, modifications, and fit. I think it's also really cool to see, at once, the way one pattern works for three different bodies. To me, the brilliant thing about making your own clothes is that no particular garment or style is off limits once you figure out how to make that garment work with your body. There's a freedom that comes with sewing and/or knitting. You can basically take all those "RULES" you've been told your whole life about being short, tall, hippy, busty, etc... and toss them right out the window.
We all chose different types of fabrics for our dresses. Liz sewed with Sateen, Meg used Linen and I used a vintage cotton border print.
While we walked as a group on this particular day, we joked how we wondered if anyone noticed we were all wearing the same dress; such a faux pas! I doubt most people, if anyone, did.
At the risk of getting mushy and sentimental, this is a trip I"ll always remember. Every time I think about Paris, I'll think about our little group and how we gorged ourselves on cheese and chocolate, and walked (over) a hundred miles exploring nooks and crannies, and how the best part of every day was returning to our apartment to share evenings sipping cider while we competed for the Quiplash crown. I can't wait to do it again!
This is the money shot. Three friends knitting in front of the Eiffel Tower wearing dresses sewn from the same pattern. :-D
I present, Mike, jumping for joy in his fourth version of McCall's M6044.
I don't have much to add about this pattern. It's really a winner, in my book. Mike loves his new shirts. He's even picked out some flannel to make a couple cold weather versions.
I'll let the photos do most of the talking on this one. Mike really got into posing this time around. It should be noted that Meg gets full Art Director credit for these photos. It's a physical impossibility to take yourself seriously when Meg's around. :-D
Mike and Josh, Meg's main squeeze, both got their turn in front of the lens on this particular day. They were a riot!
I'm excited for the completion of a project we're currently working on, Project Man Sweater, simply to see the product of a picture session involving the three of them.
I expect that I'll sew for Mike much more regularly now that he's honed his pattern cutting skills. I currently have a few patterns at home for him including the Albion duffle coat, McCall M6803 , and the Strathcona Henley.
Aren't we cute in our Hers/His McCall's?
This is a sneak peek at my final version of the famous M6696. I'll show you more of this project on Friday before I wrap (hint, hint) things up and get closer to caught-up with my real life. I knew I sewed a lot to take on our trip, but I didn't fully realize how much I made until I started posting! Sadly, I'll be back to posting pictures from the backyard soon. LOL.
I really feel like I've finally had my A-HA moment with garment sewing, so that's cool. All of the things I made to take on vacation have been in regular rotation since our return. It makes my hope/dream of an entirely self-stitched wardrobe seem like it's within reach!
One of the more touristy things we were sure to do while we were in Paris was climb to Sacre Coeur. I had heard the view of the city was worth the throngs of people. And, indeed, the view is spectacular. This area of the city wasn't particularly my favorite, since the surrounding blocks were brimming with souvenir shops and dense crowds, but it had its perks.
A large number of fabric shops can be found surrounding the base of Sacre Coeur. A lot of these shops are coupon shops, meaning that the fabric is pre-cut into 3m pieces. This method of fabric sales was a totally new concept to us. I guess 3m is a fairly average length of fabric to purchase, overall. But, the entire practice seems very wasteful to me. For instance, if I need 2meters or 4meters, I'm stuck with and paying for fabric that won't be used. And, despite our American understanding of the word coupon, there is no discount for the pre-cut lengths. Also, a lot of the shops in this area carried identical inventory, which made it seem like there was a lot more to choose from than there actually was. I did buy one wool coating coupon while we were there, but, overall, I wasn't a fan.
We also, very briefly, stopped into a yarn store in this neighborhood. It's called Chatmaille, and it was the most bizarre yarn store I have EVER been to. There's a very strict NO TOUCHING policy. Seriously, there are signs in both French and English posted all over the place. I felt like I was five walking through a China shop with my hands in my pockets. The space is small, and the yarn is tucked into cubbies on the wall. There are some knit samples that patrons are welcome to handle, but they don't appear to be knit from the same yarns displayed as inventory. It was strange. Really, strange. Do yourself a favor, if you're ever yarn shopping in Paris, and skip this shop. Or, go there just for the novelty, because it's truly an odd place.
My favorite shop from our visit to Sacre Coeur is Dam Bouton. It's a wonderland of buttons! All the walls are shelved full of color coordinated button varieties from the most basic shirt buttons to the most elaborate rhinestone buttons you can imagine.
On this particular day, I was outfitted in another McCall's M6696 Shirtwaist dress. This version was sewn using an embroidered eyelet fabric I picked-up at Joann Fabrics. I underlined the dress in navy cotton. Based on the double layer of fabric, I had expected this version of the dress to be the most fitted version I made. Quite the opposite. I made the same changes to the bodice and used the same construction methods as I had on previous versions, yet this dress appears a size, maybe two bigger. I have no explanation why.