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.

Black Sleeveless Pussy Bow Blouse – Sew Over It

Black Sleeveless Pussy Bow Blouse – Sew Over It

In the past few months, I did some soul searching for what I need in my closet. It turns out, my current wardrobe doesn’t convey what I want to reflect about myself. While I had been attempting to find my style, there was still a lot of “fashion” in my closet, which went with trends rather than the core of why I am. Following some of the directions from Colette’s Wardrobe Architect series, I identified my main words for my style: Classic, effortless, sleek, and vintage. Naturally, I started pinning to see what clothing reflected this style.

Something that kept coming up for me was a sleeveless pussy bow blouse. Being sleeveless, it transitions well between all seasons with the addition of a cardigan and looks great tucked into both skirts and pants. I love the vintage style of a pussy bow, as it adds visual interest and challenge to constructing the garment while not being overwhelming.

To fulfill my pussy bow blouse dreams, I started with Sew Over It’s Pussy Bow Blouse pattern. I purchased the printed version, but with how few pattern pieces this requires it would be a nice one to nab as a PDF. It offers two neckline variations, a keyhole opening and a v-neck version. I sewed up the v-neck version, as this was the style reflected in the photos I was drawn to.

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This was made out of a black polyester chiffon from Fabric.com. It has quite a bit of drape, as the pattern requires, so I stabilized the entire piece of fabric with spray starch prior to cutting. This was incredibly helpful in ensuring accurate cutting on the grain, and allowing for sharp ironing.

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To finish the armholes without the sleeves, I bound the inside of the armholes with 1 in bias tape made from a Joann’s Halloween quilting cotton with dancing skeletons on it. Frankly, I was originally going to use the same chiffon as the body of the shirt for the bias tape, but the bias strips were stretching horribly and would have made too narrow of a binding for my taste. The change to the dancing skeletons is actually one of my favorite parts of this shirt, it’s a secret surprise inside!

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Ban-roll hem!

I added 3/4 in of width to the sides of the front and back bodice pieces based on my measurements so that it would be more loose when it is tucked in. I did not hem it according to the Sew Over It directions, because I personally despise ironing chiffon over and over. Instead, I used the Ban-roll method to have a nice, narrow hem. This technique requires a ban-roll to have the even hem, which is not a material found in most sewing shops, but I sourced mine from The Sewing Place. I have it on hand because it was the same method I used to hem my wedding dress!

Overall, this shirt was a fast make, and was finished in about 3 hours from cutting to hemming. I’m not entirely sure how to make the center of the V look nice and neat, so I may experiment with the keyhole design in the future. However, this is certainly not the last pussy bow blouse for me! I love the versatility and ease. It’s continuously in my rotation now!

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Bonus picture of Freyja, thoroughly concerned about the clicking of the shutter.

Men’s Shirts Conquered – Linen

Men’s Shirts Conquered – Linen

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I had a friend tell me that whenever she asks me what I’m working on, it always seems to be a new shirt for Ian. It’s simple really, my love for shirt making runs deep. And after finding how well this pattern works, I am filled with determination to make him a closet full of things he will love. Vogue 9220 fits Ian like a glove, and all the fine shirt-making details make it relaxing to sew. Combined with my love of this linen, which presses beautifully and allows for precise sewing, this was a lovely shirt to sew up!

 

My alterations have continued, and I’ve found my ideal dimensions for the box pleat in the back. When cutting the back on the fold, I move the top of the pattern piece over 1 inch, but allow the hem to line up at the normal point. I mark the center of the fabric for both the yoke and the back, and when attaching the yoke I add a box pleat with 1/2 inch folds on each side. By expanding only the top of the pattern piece, it adds room for shoulder movement without adding too much to the hips and maintains that RTW look I’ve been after.

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One of the construction details that gives me joy is flat felling. I take the cheaters route to flat fell by serging the seams together, ironing down, and top stitching. It adds stability and the beautiful flat felled appearance, but greatly reduces the amount of time spent with an iron. And lets be honest, I’m happy to take a short cut to reduce my quality time slaving at an ironing board.

I think this is going to be the last of Ian’s shirts for a while. I’ve made about 4 in the past few months, it’s time to move on to new projects! That is, until I find a fantastic fabric that would suit Ian and I can’t resist.

 

Bonus pictures of our helpers that interrupted while we took photos!

Crochet Kittens

Crochet Kittens

Every fall, my husband and our friends raise money for charity by playing video games for 24 hours through ExtraLife. I’ve joined in the fun for the past couple years (though I’m never able to stay awake) by contributing whatever I can to the fundraising effort. In the past, it’s been buying doughnuts and coffee for the sleepy gamers, but this year I decided to sell my skills for the cause. I offered to crochet an animal (or amigurumi) for people that donated more than $50 to our cause. I ended up with a long list of people that wanted me to crochet their cats, a task which I was a big fan of.

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I have never purchased a crochet pattern before, but because people were paying for it (how crazy is that?!) I dished out a whole $5 for the AmiCat pattern from PlanetJune. I can honestly say this is the best crochet pattern I’ve ever read! The pattern itself is well written and easy to understand, but there are loads of pictures and clarifications on confusing techniques to help the crocheter understand. It also helps with sewing the pieces together in the appropriate positions, which is always a huge concern of mine. You never want your animal lovingly made and have crooked eyes or uneven feet.

Since making the three four ExtraLife, I’ve also made two more for other friends that wanted cats for their kiddos. The pattern is a breeze to stitch together, and being a cat person I love to see these little critters come together. If you need a fun, satisfying toy to crochet, I highly recommend this pattern!

 

Tutorial: Small Crossbody Bag

Tutorial: Small Crossbody Bag

DSC05030.jpgApparently, my purses are a measure of extremes. I have a super large purse that could fit a few small dogs inside of it, and this little crossbody bag. It holds my phone,  wallet, keys and a tube of lipstick but that’s about it. And honestly, that’s all I need 90% of the time! It’s lightweight, and because it’s crossbody it stays out of the way without having to readjust all the time.

I made this pattern based on a crossbody purse that I had already owned which had seen better days. About 4 years of use will do that to a bag. I took my measurements from it, and made my own pattern.

This pattern is best done with heavy weight fabrics to provide the structure and support to the bag. Anything from home decor fabric, to denim, and vinyl will work. My first purse used a heavyweight velveteen twill, but this one is made out of a Goodwilled wool skirt! Be creative with your fabric selections. And if you do end up falling in love with a quilting cotton (I know, I’ve been there) be sure to use a heavyweight interfacing on it, or use WunderUnder to fuse it to a second quilting cotton, so that it has more support.

Supplies for this project include:

  • heavy weight fabric
  • safety pin or loop turner.
  • Scraps of interfacing and magnetic clasp (if you want the purse to securely close)

You will need to draft one pattern piece for this project, everything else  is just rectangles. Let’s get to work!

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The pattern piece drafted will be 9″x7″, with the corners of one of the long edges curved to give your purse a curved bottom.

Pieces you need:

  • Body of purse: Cut 2 of the pattern peice and cut 1 long rectangle 2″x25″
  • Flap of purse: Cut 2 of the pattern piece with 2 inches added to the flat edge
  • Strap of purse: Cut 1 long rectangle 2″x54″. If your fabric isn’t long enough, a bit of piecework will need to be done to make sure that it’s not a baby sized strap.
  • Support: 2 squares of interfacing 1″x1″

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Start by pinning one of the pieces of the body of the purse to the smaller strap (2″x25″) with right sides together. I always cut this rectangle too long, so if it’s too long for your bag don’t worry about it and just cut off the extra later. It will be a challenge to ease it in around the rounded edges, so use as many pins as you feel necessary. Then, sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Repeat with the other piece of the body. At this point, I serge this edge but you may also use fray check or pinking shears. Depending on the fabric you use, give these seams a bit of a steam and press so they lay nicer. The curved bottom generally benefits from this. Boom, you have the beginning of a bag!

We’re now going to finish the top edge of this bag. Finish the raw edge the same as before (serge, fray check, pinking shears) then turn it over 1/2 inch and sew it down so you have a nice folded edge at the top. The bag photographed for this tutorial was a skirt so my edges were already finished, and I just needed to top stitch the rectangle down.

Take the two flap pieces and pin around the edges with right sides together, leaving the flat edge open. Sew together with a 3/8″seam allowance, then trim. Turn right sides out, and iron flat.

At this point, make a decision if you want to use the magnetic clasp or not. If so, lay the flap on the front of the bag so the curved edges line up, an assess where you want the clasp to lay. I have mine about 1 1/2 in from the bottom of the flap in the center. Mark this point with a pin, and turn the flap inside out again. Iron on one of the small 1″x1″ squares of interfacing over this point on the wrong side of the fabric. Attach the magnetic clasp to this point. We will put the other one on after the flap has been sewn on.

Take the sewn flap pieces ironed flat right side out, and turn the raw edges within by about 1/2″. Pin, and machine baste. Lay the flap over the purse so that the magnetic clasp is against the body of the purse and the curved edges of the flap and bag line up with each other. Fold the flat edge of the flap to the back of the purse, pin in place, then sew down.

Look at where the magnetic clasp lays on the bag, mark that point. Apply the other square of interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric at this point, and attach the second magnetic clasp. You now have a clutch! If you wish to stop here without adding a strap, you may. But I personally love a crossbody bag, so…

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Fold over the long 2″x54″ inch strap right sides together, and sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk, then turn the strap right side out. You can do this with a loop turner, or if you don’t have one a safety pin works as well. Iron flat, top stitch on each side of the strap 1/8″ from the edge.

You will be folding over the last 1″ of each end of the strap. Pin this to the sides of the purse to see if the length is right for what you want, because once it’s on there’s no adjusting! If not, cut off excess length to make it right for your body. Once it’s fit to you, pin the folded over straps to the side and sew. I sew in a square around the edge of the folded over section, then make an X in the middle to secure it. If you’re concerned about it, back stitch a LOT and it won’t go anywhere. Tada! You’re done! You’ve made your very own cross body bag, for all your minimal bag needs.

This is my first written sewing tutorial, so if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask and leave feedback.