I’ve been loving the trench look that has been trending this fall. As so many other trends that I like, it’s secret pjs that you wear out of the house. Who doesn’t like that? I have to admit that my husband asked me if this was my new bathrobe when I was sewing it up (which had me laughing), so I think you have to be careful how you style it. But I think I am pulling it off for everyday wear. You be the judge.
The Fabric Store asked me if I would like to try out some of their online fabric. I had the hardest time choosing (they have some gorgeous liberty prints guys). But I have a closet full of exciting prints that I just don’t wear because they are not me. I have been trying to focus on making wearable basics so I went with some quality solids that I knew would get worn instead. Merino jersey was an easy pick after that.
I decided on two different colors. This gorgeous burnt orange (such a great color) and this really pretty forest green (which is my go to color in the colder months). They are medium weight knits that I can vouch for as they wash up really well and sew up so nicely. This was my first time sewing with merino jersey and I am such a convert. They are stable knits that are still thin and hang nicely. Not too stretchy and slinky to cause headaches while sewing. I can’t wait to sew with them again some time.
Now for the pattern, it’s the Esme Maxi Caridigan from Named Patterns. It was my first time sewing a Named pattern for some crazy reason. They have so many really cool patterns that now I am eyeing a ton of them (this one especially). One thing that was different than what I am used to, was that the pattern pieces on the pdf are layered on top of one another. So even though it’s a pdf, you still have to trace the pattern pieces. I’m not sure if that is true of their paper patterns as well. Some people prefer this (less taping), some don’t. But something to be aware of.
As for sizing I cut a size 8/10 US which is standard for me. I could have gone down a couple of sizes I think. It is supposed to be oversized and it is supposed to be sewn up in a much thicker knit than I used which is probably why it fit so big on me. I ended up taking a couple of inches of width out of the sleeves, shortening the sleeves by 2 inches and taking about 6 inches off of the length (I am 5’3″). On the green version, I also took and inch out of the top portion so that the pockets hit at a better place for me.
I really like this pattern. So comfy, such an easy sew, and something that will get a lot of wear in my winter wardrobe. I am on the lookout for a really thick sweater knit to do a chunky version more like the pattern intends. Let me know if you have spotted any such fabric.
The Ellsworth Coat sewing pattern was recently released by Christine Haynes. I was lucky enough to assist Christine in her coatmaking class at Camp Workroom social where we sewed this pattern up. It was really fun to see all of the different variations of this coat. There were linen, brocade and twill versions – all of which resulted in completely different coats.
After seeing one of the students, Vanessa, make a gorgeous version in a beautiful black twill, I knew that I must have one like it. I was able to stop by Mood fabrics the next day and get some fabric to make it up. The outside is a thick black twill with some stretch to it. For the lining I chose some china silk in copper. I love copper and black together right now. The buttons are some nice brass ones that I also picked up at Mood.
I did make a few changes. After trying a lot of sizes on, I decided to go down a size for a closer fit. Just my personal preference. I am also short (5’3″) so I shortened the sleeves by about 2 inches, and raised the pockets by about 1/2″. In retrospect, I would have left the pockets where the pattern had them placed. They feel a bit high now.
The thing that I love most about this coat is that the style is so versatile. The coat has a 1950s retro vibe, but with a modern cut to it. I feel like it won’t go out of style and will go with a lot of different things. I see it being a staple in my wardrobe this fall. For those of you who are intimidated by the thought of sewing a coat, I have to say that this one is very approachable. It is fully lined, but Christine figure out a way to do it all on the machine (no handstitching) which is always a huge plus in my book.
I used to be reluctant to spend time and money on halloween costumes for my kids. I knew that I could always buy one at the store cheaper than I could make it. But then a couple of years ago we were the wizard of oz for halloween. After we wore the costumes they went into our dress up bin. My kids and their friends wore those dressups ragged. I only wished that I had used better fabric (the cheap costume fabric I used tore at all of the seams over time) and took the time on some better construction. So now I’ve changed my tune. My kids can choose to be whatever they want for halloween and I will do my best to make it happen. It’s the one time of year that what I do for a living really benefits them. They feel special because their costumes are different than everyone elses. I try to use quality fabric like quilting cotton that will hold up to small and impatient hands and will wash and dry well. Even if it costs a bit more money. I know they will be worn over and over again as part of imaginative play which I love. Worth all of the time and money.
This year my kids wanted to be a kitty kat, and a New Orleans masquerade ball girl (inspired by our family vacation this year to New Orleans). I was pretty excited that there were no super heros or princesses involved so I didn’t complain. First of all the kitty. We went to the fabric store and I let my 3 yr old choose the fabric. He went with this leopard print fur because it was amazingly soft. I also got some tan felt for the tummy and inside ears.
I used Simplicity 2855 for the pattern. It’s a great, really versatile pattern, although I ended up taking an extra 3 inches off of the length in the end. Nothing too hard to sew at all. I did end up transferring the zipper from the front to back, just because my fabric was so thick that it looked wonky and I didn’t want it to be at center front. I also ommitted the shoe covers and mittens because I think those both just make it hard to trick or treat.
The only negative working on this costume was the fur. Never again! Such a beast to work with. It was my first time and I was not prepared. I broke 2 needles trying to sew through thick layers and I have fur everywhere. The end result was pretty great, but in the future I would try and find some fleece or something else thinner and easier to work with. Also, I won’t be about to wash this which is a huge negative.
Now for the masquerade dress. I used Simplicity 3725 for this one. Its a really great princess or period dress pattern that you could use for lots of projects. My 6 yr old daughter measured at a size 4 in the chest and waist for this pattern. I was scared that it would be too short so I went with the size 5 overall and just lengthened the skirt. This worked fine except that I took out about an inch on both sides at center back before inserting the zipper. Next time I would also take a bit out at center front so it was a bit narrower through the shoulders.
For fabric, the main black damask is this weird fabric that I found at JoAnns. I think it was marked as scuba knit but it’s much thinner than that and the print is felt. The nice thing is that I didn’t have to hem this fabric. I just cut it where I wanted it to end and called it good. The green lace is just something I had in my stash for lingerie sewing.
I did make a quick petticoat to help the dress stand out. To do this I just gathered about 5 yards of tuelle onto an elastic band. Not pretty but it works. I think if your fabric was lighter weight – closer to a quilting cotton, then it would be much fuller which would be nice.
That’s it. I hope you all have a really happy Halloween. It’s such a great holiday for sewists! Now I just need to figure out something for myself to wear.
I am always looking for new baby gifts to make up for friends and family. I’ve recently had a bunch of friends have babies so I decided to batch sew up a bunch at the same time to send out. I’m dying over how cute these turned out and am now on the lookout of for cute, organic knits to have on hand for this very purpose. You can find the fabrics that I used here, here, and here.
I made up two different quick little knit patterns that are great stash busters. I think that the two together is a perfect baby gift that is modern, thoughtful, and easily gender neutral. I made the harem romper by Brindille and Twig. It’s such a cute and easy little pattern. I sewed it up just as instructed except that I took a small wedge out of the center front neckline because I noticed that it set a little wide in a lot of the photos that I saw. But that is just a personal preference. I made the whole thing on my serger and each one took maybe 20 minutes.
The most difficult part was adding the snaps, but luckily I finally got around the buying the snap setter and a bunch of size 16 snaps. It’s so much easier than the nightmare snap tool I had bought and chucked years ago.
I also made up the rabbit ear teethers which is a free pattern from See Kate Sew. It’s a really simple sew and pretty darn cute. The fabric was all scraps from the romper and I bought the wooden rings through etsy here.
That’s it. Love how these turned out and can’t wait to see all of the little babies in them.
I’ve been wanting more casual items in my wardrobe that are not tshirts and cutoffs, so when I saw the Blair shirt released by Style Arc I wanted to make it right away. It reminded me of a shirt that I had been eyeing at Madewell. A wide, somewhat cropped shirt with small cuffs as sleeves. The Blair shirt is really similar so I decided to give it a go.
The fabric is just some 1/4″ black and white gingham that was inexpensive. I figured this would be a sort of wearable muslin before I cut into some precious silk that I have been eyeing, so this was the perfect inexpensive option.
I made a few little changes to the pattern so that it looked more like the top that was my inspiration. First of all, instead of adding the bottom panels I just extended the top portion so that it would all be one piece on both the front and back. I also made a simple rectangle for the cuffs instead of the bias cut, teardrop shaped ones of the pattern.
I absolutely love how this top turned out and have already worn it to a picnic over the weekend. This is my first ever Style Arc pattern to sew, but I have a been eyeing a couple more. Just be warned that the instructions are minimal, so you may want to look at the instructions for another buttonup pattern to compare it to.