Hudson Pant Sewalong!

I was so stoked when True Bias released the Hudson Pant pattern, and even more stoked when it meant I could participate in my first sewalong. Usually I find patterns a year after release, but I was on it this time. Kelli's tutorial was broken down in a way that made her already fabulous pattern even easier to digest. 

My favorite thing about this sewalong is that it gave me an excuse to buy some fabric I had been eyeing at Fabric Depot, but couldn't swing full price. Then Fabric Depot decided to have a 40% off sale, so I hustled there after work and bought the rest of the bolt. The fabric is Sophia by Logantex, a thicker Polyester/Spandex/Rayon blend in a fun orange color with a lighter heather orange on the wrong side - perfect for the waistband and cuffs on this pattern! It is extremely soft, and it worked pretty well for this pattern, although I am not sure I would choose it again, because it does cling a bit in the rear area. I think the softness might beat the clinginess, but I am going to try to make a shirt with the rest of the fabric to see how that fares in comparison.

Which laces? Too many options!

Which laces? Too many options!

The hardest part of the pattern was picking the right cording for the waistband. I bought a bunch of fun neon cording and some bright shoelaces. The husband had a pretty strong opinion about the orange and black shoelace, and I trust him and his design-sense. Thanks, hubs.

The pants are extremely comfortable. I could definitely wear them out of the house, and I plan to just pop them on every day after work, especially in the winter. Changing into lounge pants immediately after getting home from work is probably my favorite part of the day (off with the bra and on with the comfy pants, right?) and this pattern allows you to feel fashionable and comfortable. The best!

The pants sit comfortably on the waist, and I am very high-waisted. I was worried they would hang too low on the butt, like most pajamas or sweat pants that I have tried, but the wide band and the crotch length are perfect for me, and probably even better for you ladies with more even proportions. I love the accents and slight flaring on the pockets. It gives me a little more shape in the hips.

(Tan the kitten was an excellent helper as I tried to photograph the results, so here is a shout out to him. He's still too wiggly for pictures, but he also refuses to leave me alone when I am trying to take them.)

All done, and definitely ready to be worn.

All done, and definitely ready to be worn.

I only had one hiccup in the whole process. For some reason my machine was just not into sewing the second row of topstitching on the waistband. As soon as I hit the pockets, skipped stitches were the norm. I ripped out two-and-a-half attempts before deciding to skip the second row of stitching at the front of the pants, so it only has two rows in the back. I think this will keep the elastic in place just fine. Next time I might add an inch for my long legs, but other than that, these sewed up quickly and beautifully. More importantly, this pattern is FUN. I think it is my favorite pattern that I have worked with, and I can't wait to make an after-work uniform of Hudson Pants!

They go well with my me-made tank, but why are my toes so pink?

They go well with my me-made tank, but why are my toes so pink?

Summer knits! (And my fear of woven fabric)

I've been busting out some tanks and tees to get ready for the fashionably late Portland summer, and so far all of them have been made from knit fabric. I don't know why I first started sewing clothes for myself with knits, since I have heard so many horror stories. My experience has been quite the opposite. I am scared of sewing clothes with woven fabric! I will explain why later, but for now, the goods...

A new summer wardrobe!

A new summer wardrobe!

To familiarize myself with the basics of t-shirt making, I sought out some simple patterns that had a bunch of online tutorials to ease me into the process. Thanks awesome internet sewing community! I'm late to the game, but that's how I roll, so I found the free Plantain Tee, by Deer & Doe, and Grainline Studio's free Hemlock Tee. Once I figured out how shirt patterns work, I started to buy patterns from the above designers (And more! Go indie sewers, go!), most recently the Tiny Pocket Tank, which is my new favorite shirt. These patterns have boosted my sewing confidence, and I am now well on my way to making up my own patterns.

My shortened Plantain Tee.

The Plantain Tee fits me better than any shirt I have found in stores. I can't tell you how hard it is to find shirts that fit my frame. I have zero torso, a wide rib cage, and a somewhat concave chest, so shirts always gape in the front. I'm all legs! Whenever I make a Plantain, I raise the neckline about an inch or two, and I shorten the overall length of the shirt by several inches (or I just use the length for the smallest size available). I also take the sleeves in significantly to account for the skinny arms. And just like that, a perfect fit! Here, I left the sleeves unfinished, partly because I like it when they curl up (bad, bad, I know) but also because I haven't decided if I will make them a little shorter. Right now they are halfway between the short sleeve and the 3/4 length on the pattern.

How many tiny pocket tanks can fit into my closet?

Grainline's Tiny Pocket Tank is one of the only tanks that fits my frame. So naturally I had to make it in *all* of the fabric! I actually made these three to slowly work my way up to sewing a woven version. On the far right is a super soft jersey from Girl Charlee, and it was the most picky of the three fabrics, but definitely posed no serious threats. I plan to buy a bunch more of that fabric. In the middle is a very sturdy mystery fabric I picked up at Mill End's annex, famous for amazing piles of cheap, nameless fabric. No idea what it is made of; something slightly stretchy, but teetering on woven, with very subtle herringbone stripes. I'm obsessed, and I have enough to make a dress in the near future. The squared polka dots are a very thick jersey, also from Mill End, so really, who knows what it is or where it came from.

My favorite mystery fabric!

This is my favorite shirt out of all that I have made, and I took a risk by cutting the fabric in the direction with the least amount of stretch so that the stripes would be horizontal. This only worked because the fabric behaves more like a woven. It is stiff enough to hold its shape, but stretchy enough to easily cover my tummy. I think it's the perfect bridge in my journey from knit fabric to woven. I didn't make many changes to Grainline's pattern, just shortened it a bit. Next time, I will likely raise the neckline.  Grainline's amazing tutorial on how to get necklines to lay flat worked perfectly with this fabric, even though it is a knit. Normally with knits, I just attach the neckline and use my twin needle to finish it, but in this case, I followed all of the steps for bias binding. It worked beautifully! That is definitely the best neckline tutorial I have found.

Like polka dots, but squared! Haven't mastered darts yet...

I love this thick, super stretchy jersey. I used material from the black tank above as binding, and followed Grainline's tutorial again. Now that I have enough practice with necklines and binding, I feel confident that I can make this shirt in any type of fabric!

So why am I scared fabric that is not knit? It might be because the whole sewing-in-a-straight-line thing still needs some work on my end, but for some reason I have found knit fabric to be very forgiving as a beginner. Below, I have listed all the things I need for sewing knits, as well as the tutorials that made learning this a breeze. Speaking as a complete beginner, if I can do it using only the tools below, then a more experienced sewer will have no problem! All you need are the following:

1) A walking foot. The poor sewing machine salesman didn't realize he could have upsold me a model if I would have known it came with a walking foot! Instead, I saved up for a couple months, because the dang thing cost almost a third of what my machine did! However, I use it all the time.

2) A stitch for stretch fabric and a stretch (or jersey) needle. At first I used the stretch stitch on my machine, but I have found a zig zag to be less likely to leave the fabric to the mercy of the hungry feed dogs, and I just increase the stitch length on my straight stitch for any topstitching. Get yourself the right needle, too.

3) A twin needle: My new best friend! I haven't gotten around to finishing all the sleeves and hems on my shirts, because I hadn't learned how to use one yet. I used this tutorial, and was sewing with the needle in 5 minutes or less.

4) A rotary cutter: I don't even want to talk about what my first few knit shirts looked like while using scissors...

I still have more questions than answers, and necklines still haunt me in my sleep, but I can't believe how much I have accomplished after 6 months of sewing. I look back at my first project with a big "awwwwwww" (but I still totally wear it!) and I can't wait to see how much things improve when I start to work with different fabrics. Coming soon: my adventures in sewing summer school.

 

On being 31, and just starting to figure it out.

I had a long childhood, and I would not trade it for the world. Now that I have over 30 years in my past, I have been feeling the tugs and itches that call for change. Recently, I have been trying to pick apart my successes as well as my trials and errors, because they have brought me to where I am today. It is sort of like trying on dresses - it takes me many, many attempts to find one that fits just right (this lazy choice of simile will make sense in a few).

People tend to ask, "what do you do for a living?" and, for some silly reason, this question has always disarmed me. I immediately felt the need to explain that I don't really know what I am doing yet, that yes, I am 31 years old and I have a ton of hobbies, and a pretty amazing life, but I haven't really found my focus, and yeah, I dropped out of graduate school, and no, I don't have kids, and yes, I am writing my first book, but it doesn't feel real, because I have never published anything before...and, wait, what was the question?

For too long, I have been operating under the wrong assumption that what I do for a living defines who I am. Paying the bills was the goal of my professional life, and over time, I lost touch with creativity. I distanced myself from all my creative endeavors because I failed to appreciate the joy in them. It took me a little extra time to realize that I simply need to write and make something with my hands every day after work, and I will find peaceful sleep at night. 

In the last few years, I have moved to a new state, bought a house, adopted two cats, dropped out of a graduate school path, got hitched, and was gifted a Bernina sewing machine, which led to discovering the first activity for which I have truly held a passion: sewing!

I am throwing myself into this new hobby with all of my heart. I want to give it as much of my free time that I can spare - daydreaming, and the usual blood, sweat, and tears. I look forward to joining this inspiring community, and I will share my efforts with the steep learning curve on this website, because that's how I hope to connect with other crafty folk from around the world. So, with this first blog post, I am offering myself a cheers - to finding what I truly love. It is never, never, never too late to start something new!