Silk and Lace – SOI Anderson Blouse

Silk and Lace – SOI Anderson Blouse

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After working in a hospital where business casual was mandatory, and then switching to scrubs 5 days a week, I have a business casual sized hole in my heart. I absolutely miss the high-waist skirts, slacks, and button down shirts. Sew Over It’s Anderson Blouse would have fit beautifully into my business casual wardrobe, with its delicate gathers at the shoulders and conservative, yet sexy, fit. This pattern was actually the first pattern of Sew Over It’s that I had ever seen, and I was in love! I nabbed it during a Black Friday sale a year ago, and it sat collecting dust until I found a reason to whip it together.

When I found this fantastic lace at S.R. Harris, I knew I had to have it. It has embroidery at both the edge, as well as the center of the piece. I didn’t buy much of it because of my fabric budget, but I couldn’t walk away either. When I got home, I dismayed that I found that it didn’t fit into any pattern’s fabric requirements that would’ve done it justice. After some creative layouts however, I barely managed to make the pieces for the Anderson Blouse fit! That is, after some help and encouraging words from my husband.

The overall effect of the lace and the placement of it makes me so happy. I particularly love the sleeves, and how the black embroidery is at the sleeve head and the cuff. That’s not to say the back isn’t beautiful too, I mean how can anyone resist this lace!

What makes this blouse so special to me, is that it’s underlined in the silk charmeuse left over from my wedding dress. It was a struggle to underline the lace with the silk, as they’re both wiggly and slippery, but I love the final product. The feeling of slippery silk on your skin is like nothing else.

One part of the construction that confused me was how to finish the shoulder seam with the folded over neckline. I took some pictures of how I finished it, in case anyone else is also confused!

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Overall, I like the fit of the blouse straight from the pattern. It’s beautiful, flattering, and surprisingly sexy. In the future, I’ll likely put elastic at the bottom of the blouse rather than a tie, because I struggled to tuck in not only the massive amounts of fabric, but also the tie strings.

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I had this tucked into tights, and it’s still making me look like I have quite the stomach! That’s the fabric bulk.

Speaking of the tucking in… that’s one thing I struggle with in wearing this garment. The bottom of the blouse has a large amount of fabric, and which makes it difficult to tuck in without looking like you have a bulbous stomach. Leaving it untucked doesn’t look nearly as nice to me. Since this one has two layers from the underlining, this problem is made even worse. The best solution I could think of was to wear this with an a-line skirt where the bulk could be concealed, or to simply use a lighter weight fabric. If I find a nice, light challis I could see myself making this up again!

Autumn Afghan for My Brother

Crocheting was one of the first crafts I remember learning as a kid. My family took frequent road trips around the US, and I was unfortunately prone to car sickness if I tried reading in the car. My mom and grandma thought they’d challenge me with crocheting to occupy my mind on our 8+ hour drives, and it simply stuck. So, I’ve been crocheting since I was about 5! And have never made a blanket.

My great-grandma had crocheted afghans covering her house, as I recall. We still have some of her treasures in a closet, sealed away from anything that might do the incredible handiwork any harm. Despite this, or probably in spite of this, in my nearly 20 years of crocheting I had never wanted to try to make a blanket. It felt like, I’ve seen all of the blankets my family has done before me, why do I need another beautiful, but scratchy and holey, blanket?

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It wasn’t until my brother asked me for a crochet blanket to match his condo that I started considering it. He’s over 6 feet tall, so for his blanket to be large enough to tuck under his feet he always asks myself or our mother. His style is minimal, simple, geometric, and modern. How could I combine that with what I had in my head, a granny square blanket? And more importantly, how can I avoid weaving in a million ends? I printed off something I had in mind, he bought me the yarn, and naturally the project sat untouched under my bed for about 6 years.

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Itching for a new project, I finally decided to give him the blanket he asked for so long ago. I found this wonderful 70’s crochet pattern on Ravelry and felt that it was a good fit. The fringe avoided weaving in any ends, the diamond pattern and stripes added visual interest, and it was a simple, mindless project for me to do on our frequent roadtrips between Iowa and Minnesota!

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All in all, I think I spent just over 50 hours on this blanket because it’s huge to accommodate for my brother’s height. Most of that time was dedicated during our roadtrips, so it didn’t feel like a mighty investment. I really do love this blanket and wish I could keep it for myself (isn’t that how most projects end up?) but it’ll be safer in my brother’s house. Our kitties would eat all the fringe, and I don’t want to be scooping yarn bits out of the litter box for months on end.

That’s a Wrap! – SOI Ultimate Wrap Dress

That’s a Wrap! – SOI Ultimate Wrap Dress

Since I graduated, I’ve started a new job! The training however has left me exhausted every evening. I barely have enough energy to motivate myself to do yoga and make dinner, not even considering picking up a new sewing project. Luckily, I’ve been settling in rather quickly and chose something that wasn’t particularly challenging, but I had been on my list for quite some time.

This fabric has been in my stash since our wedding in 2015. It sat in the sun for a year waiting for me to remember it, and as it sat picked up quite a few bleached out sun spots. The burn out floral pattern also meant that it would have to be doubled up to not expose myself, so I’d need a more structured knit pattern. I had picked up the Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress pattern during a sale many months ago, and thought I’d give it a go!

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I stitched all my seams with a narrow zigzag (stretch setting on my machine is my favorite, it’s like a little lightning bolt) so that the seams would stretch with my movement.

Overall, this was a nice, easy make for me to pick up a half hour at a time after work. I doubled up the fabric for the body pieces, and stayed with only a single layer for the sleeves. I like how the wrap works and how long the belting pieces are. However, I found a bit of gaping at the bust and felt a little boobalicious. It kept feeling like I had too much gaping fabric across the front of my chest, and I’d want to pull the belt even tighter. Next time, I’ll adjust this distance by removing about 1 inch from the faced front section.

Because of the thinness of the knit, the facing also wasn’t very structurally stable and has a tendency to roll out of the garment. I have to be super careful to place it properly when wearing this dress! Once it’s in place though, it stays pretty well.

I really do enjoy this dress. It feels like wearing PJs all the time, and I’m still looking like I have my shit together. That’s a win for me!

Nintendo Switch Bag

One of the great things about the Nintendo Switch is that it can be used on the go. We end up taking ours to breweries and play games with friends. This means we also occasionally bring the pro controller, charging pack, and other accessories. Bringing all this around in a non-padded tote bag with all the stuff sloshing around was making me concerned, so I decided to make a messenger bag made for the needs of the switch!

I roughly based my sewing off of this tutorial because I wanted a two dividers inside to hold the console itself. There are quite a few changes that I’ve made however, hence why I went through and basically rewrote their tutorial. I want to give full credit to the original maker of the tutorial however, because I wouldn’t have been able to make this without them.

The linked diaper bag tutorial has you adhere fusible fleece to all exterior sides, but I know from the past that this makes a bulky, fluffy bag that I’m personally not a fan of. Here, I use a medium weight interfacing to add extra support. I also opted to make a flap to go over the top of the bag, rather than adding a magnetic closure, and I didn’t add any of the decorative piping that they did.

I made sure the pockets within would provide room for the pro controller, controller thing that holds the Joy-cons, charging cable, and battery pack. In the end, this bag will measure about 11x10x4 inches, have four pockets, and further space for other books, keys, wallets, etc.

Supplies you will need: (I used scraps for this bag so I’m not sure, but you’ll need less than 1 yard of each!)

  • Exterior fabric
  • Interior fabric
  • Fusible fleece
  • Medium weight interfacing

There’s a lot of parts and pieces to cut out for this, so staying organized will help. I labeled my pieces as I sewed to stay organized, and will use these labels through the tutorial to help you follow along. Pieces to cut are as follows:

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Exterior pieces:

  • 2 – Front and back 12×11 inches
  • 2 – Sides 5×11 inches
  • 1- Bottom 12×5 inches
  • 2 – Outside flap 12×20 inches
  • 2 – Straps 3×40 inches

Interior pieces:

  • 2 – Front and back 12×11 inches (note: for this bag, I cut these out of my exterior fabric because I ran out of scraps!)
  • 4 – Sides 3×11 inches
  • 2 – Bottom 12×3 inches
  • 4 – Divider 12×8.5 inches
    • also cut 2-4 pieces of fusible fleece depending on how much padding you want and fuse to divider pieces. I only fused one of my four divider pieces, but you can do all four if you’d like!
  • 2 – Inside pockets 13×8.5 inches

This is one section of the tutorial that I loosely followed where I noticed an error in language. Not a great way to start this, I know, but bear with me! It states to sew the exterior bottom to the exterior sides, but in fact we’re sewing the bottom to the front/back. We do so by beginning and ending 1/2 in from either side, to make it easier to stitch our corners together later. I used chalk to march 1/2 in from the edges prior to stitching to ensure I didn’t forget (I did when I first made this bag!).

We’re then going to sew the sides to the front of the exterior, leaving 1/2 in unsewn at the bottom but stitching all the way to top. Then, leaving the bottom/side seam open, stitch the side to the back again leaving the bottom 1/2 in unsewn. These seams should nearly meet or meet, but not have one seam go past the other. Aka, make a nice little right angle.

We’re almost done with our box! This is a weird little seam to line up, I did so by pulling the corners taught and pinning right in the middle. Let the sides/front/back fall in a little triangle away from the corner and stitch from where the seams begin to the seams end, corner to corner. The reference tutorial makes no mention of trimming the corners or seams, but I highly recommend it (especially the corners)! Otherwise it’ll be a little bulky. Just be sure you don’t cut your seam when being trim happy.

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This section is nice and easy! We’re going to leave a 1 in gap at the top of your two flap pieces, and sew three sides together with right sides facing each other. Trim the corners, turn it right side out, and fold two bits of 1 in fabric to the inside. Iron, and top stitch all the way around.

At this point we attach the flap to the exterior of the bag. Turn it right side out, stand it up (holy crap it looks like a bag!) and look at where you want the flap to lay. I want mine to be flush with the bottom of the front of the bag, so I’ll hold it there and see where the back of the flap ends up and pin in there, lining up the edges of the flap with the seam of the side/back. This ends up being 5 inches from the unfinished top of the bag for me, but you can adjust it as you want. Make sure it’s the formerly open part of the flap that’s being pinned to the back of the bag. Stitch it down, sewing over where you had top stitched before, and backstitch the heck out of it at the edges! This flap will see a lot of wear and you want to make sure it’s secure.

We’re going to finish up the rest of the exterior components of the bag before diving inside by making our strap. I don’t like to turn out long straps like this because it tends to add bulk. You can reference this non-turning tutorial to see what I loosely based mine on. Due to fabric restrictions, I used two different fabrics (thanks scraps!) and cut mine 3 in wide and folded them in to the crease in on each side (3/4 in fold over), sandwiched the two strips with the wrong sides together, and top stitched them down. We will come back to the straps in a little bit when the bag is assembled!

Note: I like to do a crossbody length strap so it looks more like a messenger bag, which measures about 40-45 inches long. If you want, you can make it the length of a purse strap like the linked tutorial, which is 30 inches long.

Congratulations! You’ve finished the outside, and we’re onto the inside. It’ll be a little different for the side seams and bottom because of the attached divider, but other than that it’s mostly the same methodology. We’re still going to leave a 1/2 in unsewn for the seams at the corners to make them nicer.

Start off with interior pockets. Fold top of the pocket down 1/4 inch twice and top stitch so no raw edge is exposed. Pin each pocket to a respective interior front and back piece, lining the edges of the sides and bottom. Sew or baste down within the seam allowance (I did 3/8 in).

With chalk or another fabric marking tool, draw a vertical line down the middle of the pocket (6 in from either edge). Sewing from the bottom to the top so it doesn’t gather on accident and backstitching at the top, stitch the middle of the pocket to the front/back of the interior.

To make our divider pocket for the switch, we’re adding not one but two divider inserts that are both padded with the fusible fleece. Right sides together, sew only the top (long edge) of the divider pieces remembering that you should have two of these. The fusible fleece likes to wiggle as you sew, so I’d recommend a walking foot. If you don’t have one, pin it like mad. Iron it down right side out. Because we will be treating the two dividers as one, baste the sides and bottoms together, right sides together. This will shift as you sew, so be consistent with your stitch direction (top to bottom center to corner, etc.) and adjust as needed. At this point you can test the fit of the switch in the pocket, and see if there’s anything else you want to add (flap on top with a button for security, stitch up the sides closer to the switch to hold it in tighter).

Because we’re stitching the divider into the interior of the bag, we have two bottom pieces. Sandwich the bottom edge of the divider between the two interior bottom pieces and sew, again leaving the beginning and end 1/2 in unsewn.

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We’re now going to attach the interior front/back to the interior bottom pieces. Same as before, we’re putting the raw edges together and leaving the 1/2 inch unsewn. The photo have it all laid out flat, flip flopping the divider from one side to the other, so you can see how it’s all coming together.

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We’re almost there, your messy sewing space has so few free-floating pieces now! We’re going to attach the four side interior pieces to the rest of the interior. We first sew the long edges of the side interior pieces to the front/back, lining up the top edge and sewing to the bottom seam, lining it up best you can but not exceeding the bottom stitching line. Ensure that you leave a large gap (~4-5 inches) on one of these seams, with backstitching on either side of the hole, to turn the bag right-side out when it’s all assembled.

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Leaving the divider free, we’re going to attach the 4 side segments to the interior bottom. It feels really weird to pin this, but pull the corners of the parts that you want to attach and let the other sections fall away. It’ll come together!

For the last bit of sewing, we’re going to sew up the interior side seams. Sandwich the divider between the two long, unsewn edges of the side interior fabric, and sew from bottom to top (to prevent gathers). And that’s the end of your interior! Clean up the corners again, do some last bits of ironing, and we’re moving onto the home stretch.

It’s time for the bag assembly. We’re essentially putting the exterior inside the interior, and sandwiching the strap in between.

There’s a few ways you can go about attaching the straps. In a previous make, I added tabs with a D-ring and stitched the strap around those. The D-ring allows for greater movement and less strain on the bag from the strap, but for this scrappy bag I didn’t have the right size D-ring sitting around. Instead, I’m sewing the straps directly into the top seam between the interior and exterior of the bag, then top stitching from the outside for extra security. This way, I don’t have to hide any unsightly raw edges and I know it’s secure. I basted the straps to the exterior of the bag to make sure they were evenly spaced.

Note: I forgot to extend the strap down a few inches within the seam allowance when I initially pinned it together, so it’s only in the second photo! But, I’d recommend you leave 1-1 1/2 inches in the seam allowance, and top stitch in a square then an X from the exterior of the bag to ensure that it’s securely in place in the seam allowance.

The bag exterior is going to be right-side out, while the bag interior will be inside out (so that the right sides are together for both of them). To make it easier to turn it right side out, roll up the flap and secure it to the exterior. I did this by stabbing it with a pin because I was too lazy to find a safety pin and like to live dangerously. Nestle the exterior into the interior, choosing one side of the divider. It doesn’t matter which, as long as you can line up the top of the bag. match up the seams, pin all the way around, and sew it down!

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It’s time for the big reveal! It seem’s like a lot to cram into the hole you (hopefully) remembered to leave in the interior, but take it little by little and slowly you’ll turn it right side out. We have some finishing touches to do still. Pin the hole inside the bag and stitch it closed. I machine stitch it because I’m too lazy to hand sew, but if you want a clean finish you can hand sew it together! Lastly, iron down the top of the bag, and top stitch it all down. This is the point where you top stitch the extra bit of strap from the outside of the bag to ensure it’s not slipping out of the seam allowance over time.

Now, bask in the glory of your new bag!

 

Birb Button Up – Vogue 8772

Don’t worry, my commitment to building my basics in my closet will soon shift away from button up blouses. But look at how nice they’ve been turning out! The more I sew them, the more I learn to enjoy each and every piece. The familiar motions were perfect for getting me through the home stretch of MLS school. Easy to conquer (unlike a lot of my exams), and satisfying at the end.

I’m yet again testing out another pattern for the fit of the bodice, this time it’s Vogue 8772. The pattern has a nice array of options, including a tie neck collar and different sleeve lengths. Due to fabric constraints, I went with a sleeveless collared version altered to have the shorter length of the normal blouse. This is a wearable muslin for me, made up of a discounted cotton fabric from Fabric.com.

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Overall, I’m happy with the out of envelope fit. I needed to add about a half inch to each side around the hips, but that’s an easy fix that I did by grading the width below the waist! Due to the stiffness of the fabric, I noticed some bunching in the sway of my back and may make an adjustment for that in the future if I choose to make this up again.

I finished the armholes and curved hem with bias tape made from the fabric scraps. I love this technique for the curved hem, as there’s no fiddling with easing the curves and it leaves such a clean finish. It’s smooth and effective!

Another detail that I like about this pattern are the little darts on the top of the shoulder blades. They lend a little shape and construction interest to the back of the garment since there’s no yoke.

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I find this pattern will be good for lightweight, draping fabrics and for when I want a flowing blouse. I won’t be again making it up in a more traditional, stiffer shirting cotton as the darts and lack of yoke better lend themselves to lightweight fabrics. This would be a great pattern to make up a rayon blouse with a long, flowing neck tie! Maybe that’s in the future for me now?

A few tiny projects while I finish school!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been a little busy. I’m finishing my medical lab science (MLS) program and am facing 5 exams in 2 weeks plus a board certification exam. I’m mentally drained thinking about it! I’ll be graduating mid-August, and will be able to find time for sewing again after that. Until then, this post is going to be short and sweet so I can share a few of my little projects!

To keep down my stress, I worked on a few crochet projects to give to my instructors as thank-yous. Here’s the gang together:

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For my hematology/blood bank instructor, I made her favorite clip art blood drop that shows up in every powerpoint she gave us. The pattern is based off this pattern for a water droplet, and limbs are simply a chain coming off of the body with 5 sc in the second to last stitch. The face was made with felt and hot glue.

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My chemistry instructor’s favorite organ ever, the liver! I picked up the pattern from Etsy for a few dollars, but had difficulty with the tip of the liver. Honestly, I have no idea what I did to make it that shape because I redid this, not following the pattern instructions because the math didn’t work out for the tip. Also, the liver is accompanied by the smallest mug of beer ever.

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Last but not least, a black cat for my microbiology instructor who just adopted a pair of kittens. Because cats are much more exciting to crochet than a gram stained organism. More about this pattern can be found here, because this is a go-to pattern for me and I’ve made at least 4 now.

That’s all I have for now! I’ll be back to posting more exciting things shortly, once the dust has settled and I have a chance to take some photos. I currently have one completed blouse that I want to share and another bag tutorial, so look forward to that in a couple weeks.

Flannel Circle Skirt

Flannel Circle Skirt

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Last fall I had a hankering to add a simple, plaid flannel circle skirt to my rotation. I had been inspired after seeing photos like the one above, with girls in their simple, plaid skirts and blouses. I knew it’d be a short and sweet make, with a garment that would easily integrate into my closet.

I went out and found my ideal flannel at the fabric depot S.R. Harris for less than $5/yd, and had plans to whip it up on a weekend. Naturally however, the fabric ended up in the “to-do” pile for nearly a year. I finally dove in after whining to my husband that I couldn’t decide what to make, and he told me to use the fabric I had been meaning to turn into a skirt forever.

To “draft” the skirt, I avoided the pesky math and used By Hand London’s Circle Skirt Calculator to give me a cutting layout and tell me what radius to use based on my waist measurements. I added 1.5 inches of ease to the waist measurement, and it fits wonderfully. I wanted the skirt to be on the longer side so it would transition well with stockings, so I maximized my length and cut it at 22.5 inches with a 5/8 in hem. Because I made this unlined, I finished all of my seams with my serger.

The By Hand London directions tell you to use a invisible zip in the side seam for a fastener. Naturally, I hadn’t prepared for this so I didn’t have the right zipper in my stash! I embraced the vintage inspiration however, and inserted a lapped zipper that was 5 inches long. I finished the top of that opening with a overlapping waistband and fastened it with a vintage button from my grandmother’s stash.

I really love this skirt! It’s exactly what I wanted to add to my overflowing collection of skirts, and came together quite quickly. I could certainly see myself making more circle skirts in the future, and highly recommend the circle skirt calculator to save yourself the headache.