Monday, July 13, 2015

Casual Linen Shorts w/ an Accidental Paperbag Waist

Brunette girl modeling tan linen summer shorts with gray tshirt

Hello and Happy Monday! Hope you had a wonderful weekend full of sunshine! I sure did -- can you tell? This golden sunset helps me look more sunkissed than I really am, but I did spend some time pool- and lake-side this weekend! I also spent plenty of time sewing machine-side.

Image of paper bag waisted shorts I sewed, detail of stitching and draw strings

Here are some linen shorts I made! The pattern was self-made, and I knew I wanted them to be pull-on, so I made them pretty loose. I wanted something super comfy for the heat we are (hopefully) about to have, and this linen is a perfect complement to the fit.  

Image of me wearing the casual shorts I DIY made out of linen

image of me with hands in pockets of casual linen shorts that i made on my sewing machine

 They have patch pockets in back, front pockets, front pleats, and double needle topstitch detail. I serged the inseams/outseams and rise, and then topstitched down for a faux-flat felled look. Funny story, I actually killed three partial spools of thread with all the topstitching on these shorts. Don't ask me why I had three partial spools of tan thread! I planned to just have a drawstring waist, but these shorts had other ideas. Somehow, they accidentally became paperbag waisted.

close up image of girl modeling cream colored linen shorts i sew

"Somehow" meaning, I wasn't thinking when I topstitched the top edge of the waistband above the drawcord channel. I had set two lines of stitching before I tried them on and realized I was headed for a ruffled mess: the stitching made the top edge stand away from the body like there was a wire in it! I dug around for some elastic, and set that in the waistband below the stitching to help mitigate the disaster, but it was only about 1" high elastic for a 2" waistband. This, of course, does not help prevent the ruffled mess--it just makes for smaller ruffles. In retrospect, I should have gotten wider elastic, picked out the top stitching, and set the elastic at the very top of the waistband. But that would have required patience (and the dreaded seam ripper), and honestly, I have neither! I just wanted to finish these shorts.

dslr image taken with canon sl1 camera and 50 mm f1.8 lens

side stitching detail image of double needle topstitching and patch pocket detail

back detail image of paper bag waistband and patch pocket with back darts

In the end, I can live with the waistband because my shirt will cover most of it, most of the time. Once I threaded the drawstring through, I decided I halfway liked the waistband, even! These only took a handful of hours, and the elastic waist meant fitting was simple. Should there be a next time for this pattern, I will make several corrections, but for some easy-breezy summer shorts, I'm happy with how these turned out!

This is me, modeling the shorts I just sewed.

Friday, July 10, 2015


image of girl brunette girl in crop top with hawaiian shirt button up tied and high waisted jean shorts

Hawaiian Shirt Friday is the greatest excuse to wear the finest, most cheerful prints in your closet. 

brunette girl modeling crop top with yellow sunglasses and jean shorts handmade and hand sewn

It is also a great excuse to make another Grainline Archer shirt. I wanted to try different things with this pattern: namely mistake recovery, but also short sleeves and a new body length. 

image of brunette girl modeling grainline archer pattern shirt with hawaiian print and stripe contrast trim handsewn and handmade

I started cutting this out at about 11pm one Saturday night, and guys, this was not my greatest plan. To begin with, I am not patient with pattern layouts. I like to pin, cut, pin, cut, one piece after another, and hope for the best. But when you have just over 1 yard of fabric from which to make your shirt, you should probably plan your cutting layout, right? RIGHT? 

sewing machine made buttondown shirt with short sleeves rolled up and back box pleat sewn

One might hope! One might... piece fabric together after mistakenly cutting two left fronts. One might have button bands that overlap the wrong way. One might need to use contrast fabric in order to even complete the project. ...So much for mistake recovery.

contrast piping and pieced front buttondown shirt sewn and handmade

In all seriousness, I'm pretty happy with how this shirt turned out. I cut the same size as before, size 4 blending to size 6 at the hips, but went with the original pattern length, and shortened the sleeves.  I sewed the sideseams and underarm seams at 3/8" instead of 1/2" for a slightly boxier look. Because of fabric constraints and cutting mistakes, I had to piece one front panel together, along with the placket. The under collar and stand are contrasting, as is some trim on the sleeves and the pieced seams. I have about three yards of this amazing striped fabric, so expect to see plenty more of it!

diy clothing detail image with contrast collar stand sewn and handmade

What else is different? I resolved my issues with the placket, and folded over the proper amount for the underplacket. Had I put more than a single pocket on this bad boy, I'm 90% sure they would have been the same distance from CF. Maaaaybe 93%.

yellow sunglasses and girl with jean short cutoffs and crop top

I serged my side seams, underarm seams, and armholes, saving myself a fair amount of time in doing so. Skipping long sleeves and cuffs helped as well, but the holiday weekend slowed production down on this shirt. Otherwise, it was a really quick go around for a second try of this pattern.

image of girl with summer shirt tied up belly button showing

cool hipster girl with shirt tied up hawaiian print summertime sunglasses

I also picked up a new camera and lens - a Canon SL1 and 50mm f/1.8 lens. I am learning so much! But it's already magic without much effort -- look at that depth of field! The lighting! I'm so excited to keep learning about photography and experiment with these new tools. Any tips on this new adventure of mine?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Silk Shells

Here's the deal. I am a fabric hoarder. Sure, but aren't all sewers? But that's not the worst of it. I am a fabric SCRAP hoarder. If there is a quarter yard, I will keep it. Who knows when it may come in handy! Most of the time, this leads to bins of chaos that eventually need to get purged. But sometimes, inspiration strikes, and I really actually do use those scraps. This, my friends, is called justification. Because I used some scraps, once or twice, I convince myself to keep alllll the other scraps.

But anyway. This is a top I made sometime this winter, using two different weights of silk I purchased from Dharma Trading Company. The yellow is leftover twill from the lining of this coat, handpainted and therefore could NOT be tossed (obvi). The white is leftover habotai from the lining of this skirt

This was a self-made pattern, very simple and straightforward. I used french seams for the shoulders and side seams, and the neck and armholes are bound with self-bias tape. The hem was carefully handpicked and catchstitched. I sewed this on my Singer Featherweight, a new acquisition from my aunt, and it is seriously the dream everyone has always said it is. Sewing on that machine is perfection. It has a myriad of clever feet and folders that I haven't played around with yet, but I'm sure they would've saved me hours on this shirt if I had. So much handsewing!

I really love that this shirt is two different weights. As you can see, the back is so flowy and drapey, displaying the absolute best characteristics of silk fabric.

I was so pleased with how this turned out that... I made one more!

Now this was leftover silk twill from the lining of a dress from my senior collection. It's also fabric from Dharma (my absolute favorite source for silk), dyed with fiber reactive dyes that my mom had on hand. (She's got an amazing collection of supplies and I'm so lucky she lets me play with them!) I had the most difficult time getting this color -- it originally came out emerald, so I overdyed it. I know the mantra of hand-dyeing is "love what you get", but it took me a while to love this fabric. Still, I had a fair amount leftover (COULD NOT TOSS), and it wasn't until I made it into this top that I truly began to love it.

I'm going to be honest, I don't think this was cut on grain. I made do with the scraps I had, and because of this, the bust darts are... funky. But, you know, not enough to give me cause to redo them.

I am especially pleased about the fit of the armholes here. They are sized to still give me movement, but there's really no awkward gaping or bra visibility.

Again, french seams, self bias binding, sewn on the Featherweight. I still haven't finished hemming this - I turned up the hem once and machine stitched it, and haven't mustered the ability to sit down and handsew the second turn of the hem. I may never.

Don't even ask about the scraps leftover from these. Okay, fine, yes, I still have them. They might be useful someday.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gingham Power: Archer Shirt

Well hello there! This has been the longest hiatus I've ever taken in the history of my little ol' blog. It's been a big year, though! After graduating and making my senior collection, I kind of... stopped making things. For a while. I kicked off summer of 2014 by traveling Europe with my brother, Paul, and then spent about a month at home in Northern Minnesota with my family, getting a car and my driver's license (better late than never) and preparing for my move to Milwaukee to start my job. 

And here I am, almost a year later! This is my latest make... the Archer shirt from Grainline Studio.

I haven't used a non-self-made pattern in about five years, and truthfully... it was really nice. This is a beautifully drafted pattern. I have been planning to make this gingham into a button down for about three years (hardcore hoarder here), but the idea of drafting all those pesky pattern pieces for a shirt made my skin crawl. Plackets, cuffs, stands, collars, pockets? No thanks. The internet has been raving about this pattern for years, so after much deliberation, I purchased the PDF version. 

PDF patterns are rough, guys. I didn't love the process of putting together all the pages, but I did love the instantaneous nature of immediately having it in my hands instead of waiting for the mail to come! However, the process was pretty fool-proof, so I sucked it up and stayed late after work one day to put it together on one of our large work tables. Once it was together, cutting was a breeze (there was no way I was going to match the plaid!). This fabric has a crinkle finish, which was mildly annoying, but I did my best to iron it out to cut it smoothly.  I cut a size 4, tapering to size 6 at the hips. I also lengthened the pattern by 2 inches, except the placket -- which I didn't realize until after I had cut everything else out. But we'll get into all the whoopsies of this shirt in a bit.

Sewing took me about a week's worth of evenings, but I was so excited all day to come home and work on it. I'd read through the sewalong on Grainline's blog during my lunch break, going through the steps I could get done that evening. It felt like it came together really quickly, which was great! I started sewing on Saturday, and wore it the following Friday.

Construction wise -- the side and sleeve seams are flat-felled, a technique I haven't done in a while. I used the burrito method for the yoke, and was really pleased with how that came together. The yoke, pockets, placket, and cuffs are all cut on the bias, because while I wasn't going to plaid match this, I knew it would drive me crazy to see those seams not line up. Call it an easy out. :)

Now for the whoopsies! In addition to forgetting to lengthen the placket (do you see that seam below the last button? Yup, couldn't even be bothered to match that up), I somehow misaligned my pocket placement from CF. And didn't notice until after I had sewn on all the buttons. I did have to do a heckuva lot of easing in the neckline when I set the collar, so I think I didn't fold the right amount under for the underplacket? This is the only reasoning I have, since the pockets are the same distance from the armhole. This mistake drives me crazy, but I'm also too lazy to unpick anything now that it's finished. So there you go, it's something I can live with.

I also mis-marked the buttonhole placement on the cuffs, and didn't realize until after I had cut the buttonholes open. Do not cut open your buttonholes at 11pm, friends. They look... RILL silly. Hence why all of these photos have the sleeves rolled up! But this too I can live with, because I never ever wear button downs with the sleeves unrolled. 

I'm so pleased with the overall fit of this shirt! The sleeves are a PERFECT fit, loose and comfy but still flattering. I love the length, the fit of the collar and neck, and where it hits at my shoulders. I'm thrilled that it fit this well out of the envelope! Er, printer. Whatever. I've already cut out another version -- HAWAIIAN PRINT YO -- to get me through another week of work. Hopefully I can correct the lei-zy mistakes from this. (lolololol)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Senior Collection: Belarus

I finally can share with you my senior collection, Belarus! I will do separate posts to go into detail on all these garments, but I'd like to share the group shots today.

Here you can see the breakdown, piece by piece, of the collection, along with the materials used.

All photos were taken by my brilliant photographer, Ben Hutchins. My insanely fun models, as pictured in the above photo, were Ashley Springstroh, Cassie Sue, Abby Lund, and Magdalena Skalsky. The photoshoot was one of the best days ever -- finally seeing my hard work come together and having the girls all together was magnificent. I'm itching to get back to sewing and knitting, looking at these photos! Thanks for letting me share my collection!!


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