Pattern Testing: Megan Nielsen Karri

I was excited when the opportunity to test Megan Nielsen’s latest pattern, the Karri Dress.

Megan has really been on a roll lately. She has recently released the Dove Blouse, Harper Shorts & Skort, Reef Camisole & Shorts, Axel Skirt, and Sudley Blouse & Dress. I want them all.

Testing was going on back in July and it’s been hard to keep my mouth shut about this cute pattern.

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The line drawing really opens you up to a wealth of possibilities. Color-blocking, yes!

I had several color schemes for color-blocking running through my mind. In the end I decided to use something very wearable, and already in my stash.megan-nielsen-karri

I made a few fit muslins and settled on a size M at the shoulders/bust and graded out to a size L at the waist. I added about 3″ to the length just based on preference. I shortened the bodice by about 1/2″ because I am short-waisted.

The main fabric is a 4oz denim from Joann’s. The contrast yoke is a blue and white striped woven from my stash. The seams were topstitched with white topstitching thread. I would love to see a version in tweed with dark piping in all the seams.

One of the challenges with this pattern is that the bodice lining pattern pieces are different than the outer pieces. Because I was short on time I omitted the lining and skipped the step of transferring all my alterations on the bodice to the lining. For this type of fabric it works just fine.

I think I have a few more fitting tweaks to make this pattern perfect, but I’m already dreaming up a few more versions.

This is a very wearable dress with endless possibilities for all seasons. I’ve also concluded that I should finish my look with jewelry and lipstick more often.

 

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3 Hour Sewing Project Ideas

Last month I told you all that I was planning to start sewing classes in October. I’m excited to announce that my class schedule is posted for October 2016. I’ve also updated the main page for all things related to this new endeavor.

One of the things that I’m most excited about is Open Sew. This is your chance to bring your machine and project and sew with other human beings for a few hours.

Sewing is usually a solitary activity and that is awesome in many ways. I love sewing late into the night with my Netflix or podcasts in the background. But sometimes it’s really fun to sew with a group of people who also like to sew. I always learn something new from my sewing friends.

Open Sew is for all of you who want to meet other sewing friends. It’s also a good place to get some help with a project. Want to learn how to install an invisible zipper? Bring it to Open Sew and I will show you…or any other sewing technique you might need help with.

What if you don’t have a project in mind but you want to come and sew anyway? Here are a few ideas for beginner sewers that you could most likely accomplish in a 3 hour Open Sew session.

  1. A Pillowcase (also a great Christmas Gift – I’m dreaming about a day when I give all my nieces and nephews a new pillowcase for Christmas each year)
  2. A pair of Leggings (great for you, and a great baby shower gift)img_2156
  3. A tee-shirt (my favorite kids pattern is the field trip raglan, my favorite women’s pattern is Megan Nielsen Briar)
  4. A knit pencil skirt (draft your own or use McCall’s 6654)IMG_1449

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Come Sew With Me

I hinted last week on Instagram that exciting things would be happening here.

I’ve decided to start teaching sewing lessons, a little dream of mine that’s been brewing for quite a while.

Please check out my new page for a few more details. My ideas are running wild, but the truth is that I have two very demanding little ones at home, so classes will be limited to start.

Classes will start in October and will be held at Hobby Lobby in Layton, UT.

I have a feeling that the children’s classes will be most popular, but I really hope that adults will take the chance to learn to sew also. What class would you be most likely to take?

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Sewing for Baby: Simplicity 1470

My sewing time is still limited, so I have to be more careful about how I prioritize my projects. A blessing dress for my daughter was definitely a top priority.

My local sewing guild is having a stash busting challenge this year. I’m sure I could have found a suitable fabric in my stash, but nothing that quite captured my vision. I made a compromise and used a pattern that I did have in my abundant stash, Simplicity 1470.

Continue reading “Sewing for Baby: Simplicity 1470”

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Fourth Trimester Sewing: McCall’s 7284

My baby is already five weeks old. I really can’t believe how fast the time has flown by.

She has been a great baby so far. And our 18 month toddler has been pretty great. I’m not going to lie and say that everything is rosy all the time, but it has gone as well as 1 month with a newborn and 18 month old could be expected.

Baby girl has been a great nurser. I remember the first six weeks with Little D it was pretty hard to get the hang of things for both of us. Baby girl did great from the start.

I’ve always been a busy-body and having a newborn and a toddler at the same time makes it really difficult to feel like I have any time to do anything productive. When the toddler is sleeping the baby is nursing, both during his daytime nap and her evening fussy/cluster-feeding times. As I write this I’m bouncing baby girl in the bouncer seat and Little D has gone down for the night.

I have managed to get a little sewing done, but I have to get used to sewing in small segments instead of the marathon sessions that I prefer. Today I managed to get a t-shirt hemmed. The blouse for this post took me several small sessions over a couple weeks.

I don’t know what happened to all my post partum clothes from my first pregnancy because I feel like I have absolutely nothing to wear. Then I remembered that I had Little D in November, so most of my tops were sweaters and long-sleeved tops. It’s a lot easier to hide the baby weight under a sweater or button front shirt than it is a t-shirt. I feel like I’ve been wearing the same pair of french terry joggers and maternity t-shirts for the past 5 weeks. I needed something to wear that made me feel like a grown-up again.

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This bohemian flowy blouse seemed to fit the bill. I knew that a rayon challis would be a good fit for this because rayon has a great drape and is so much nicer to wear, especially in warmer months, than polyester.

The pattern is McCall’s 7284. I made a size medium (my pre-pregnancy size) thinking that the loose fit would be forgiving enough for me to wear comfortably til I lose that pesky 20 lbs I picked up this pregnancy. I used the hemline from view B for the front and view D for the back. I wanted a hi-low look with a little extra length in the front for the baby belly and it worked out great.

To get the rayon to behave a little better I sprayed it with Best Press and pressed it before I cut it out. I was particularly afraid of getting that really drapey fabric to behave for the front contrast insert and the Best Press was really helpful.

While I was sewing I slipped the sleeve on before I set it and I noticed that the bicep was going to be a bit tight so I let out the seam about 1/4″. This was the only alteration I made since all my other seams were already finished.

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I’m really glad that I let the sleeves out. When I put on the finished blouse it felt a little tight in the arms and shoulders. I looked in the mirror a few times to try and figure out what alteration I might make for my next version, because I definitely need to remake this one.

It wasn’t until I started looking at the photos I took that I realized that I really just need to make a bigger size and do a little tweaking on a size large. You can see from the back view that it hangs up on my hips just a little bit. And the fit is tight through the bust and shoulders. All of this could be alleviated with a larger size before I start thinking about forward shoulders or broad backs. I always get a lot of good insight on fitting when I start looking at the photos. It is so much more helpful than glancing in the mirror for me. I’m going to have to go back to Joann’s the next time they have a pattern sale and pick up the other size…but maybe by the time I have time to make this again I’ll have lost enough weight that the bigger size isn’t necessary. I guess we’ll just have to see.

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I’m no fashion blogger and my styling skills are pretty minimal, but I’m always interested in how people complete their outfits…so I added a few other details for you here.

I bought these “always skinny” jeans from Gap after my last pregnancy. They’re 2 sizes bigger than my pre-pregnancy size and I would definitely buy them again if I was looking for a skinny jean.

My lipstick is just cheap Wet ‘n Wild. I was cleaning out my drawer of lipstick that I never wear and “auditioning” what I should keep. The hubby said he liked this one which I was pretty surprised about. It’s a pretty bold lipstick for someone who never wears lipstick, but I’ve worn it a few times. I need to find a similar color in a better formulation because it is cheap and it shows after about an hour.

My shoes are Born, bought on Zappos last year. I bought three pairs of nice leather sandals last spring so I won’t be buying sandals again for a while.

In conclusion, I love this top even if the fit is not perfect. I need a few more tops like this in my wardrobe.

 

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An Easter Outfit From Oliver + S

Last week I was at my local sewing guild meeting and we were talking about indie pattern designers. One of the ladies was working on a dress and she said that the instructions were not great and the pattern was missing some important markings.

It’s true that not all indie patterns are created equal. I grew up sewing with commercial patterns, so I’m accustomed to how they are put together. I learned from a Pati Palmer workshop just how much money goes into the development of a commercial pattern (…about $20k) so we should be able to expect that they are consistently high quality. I’m not planning to give up stocking up on all my favorite designs at the regular pattern sales.

There are some really great indie designers out there and the biggest selling points for me are that their designs are more unique and there is a community with indie patterns that you simply don’t find with commercial patterns. Indie designers are great about fostering an environment were sewing enthusiasts can share tips, ideas, and pattern hack ideas. I definitely have gotten the most “mileage” out of my favorite indie patterns because I make them over and over.

My favorite children’s pattern designer is Oliver + S. I would say that Liesl’s drafting and instructions are top notch. And her designs are timeless, which suits my personal style very well. With all the patterns I’ve made so far, the sizing is consistent which is great. I’m definitely not going to be making fitting muslins for my toddler.

I’ve made the after school pants about a dozen times now. I love those pants so much. For Easter, I was inspired by the Sailboat Top & Pants. What a cute, classic look – perfect for Easter.

I started with my stash for inspiration and picked out a piece of chambray that was just big enough for the top. I toyed with the idea of a railroad stripe denim for the pants, but ended up with a khaki twill which was inherited from a fellow sewist’s stash not too long ago.

The buttons for the top were the one purchase for the project and they really make it special.

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Four Maternity Dresses

At 35 weeks pregnant, what I’m finding the most comfortable to wear are knit dresses.maternity dress lineup

These four dresses are what I’ve been wearing a lot, with the two maxi length dresses being my current favorites.

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The navy and green wrap dresses were inspired by this post on DIY Maternity. I had the Simplicity version of Megan Nielsen’s Alissa top. I used view A and shortened it about 1 1/2 inches to get it to hit just below the bust. For the skirt portion I just trimmed the selvages off my 60 inch wide fabric, cut to length and gathered it onto the top. I also used this Megan Nielsen tip for gathering the skirt and attaching to the top. The post on DIY maternity mentioned inserting elastic at the seam and I did this on both dresses. I find that it is most flattering when maternity clothing cinches in under the bust to avoid the “tent” look as much as possible.

My navy dress is the first of the two Megan Nielsen dresses I made. I used a navy ITY knit from fabricmart. When I finished I wished that it was a couple inches longer, but it seems to look fine in the photos and it works well with flats and the platforms I’m wearing in the photos.

I was wearing the navy dress so much that I made a second with just a few modifications. I shortened the sleeves to a cap sleeve and made it a few inches longer. The green fabric is from a cute little shop in Warwick, NY that I picked up when I was visiting my mom last year. I made this version a few inches longer and even after shortening it I think it could be at least 1 inch shorter. It’s too long to wear with flats which is not really great at 35 weeks pregnant.

Both maxi dresses were made with about 2.5 yards of fabric.

My black wrap dress was made with ponte leggero from Fabric.com. I ordered several swatches of ponte leggero and ponte fino from Fabric.com and I’ve found them to be nearly identical. They are a pretty fine weight of ponte and I really love them for this dress. I also made a ruched maternity skirt with the same fabric, but I found that they don’t have quite enough stretch for a maternity skirt that will wear through the third trimester.

The pattern I used was a Burda maternity pattern with a pleated wrap front. The pleats and facings were a little fussy to put together and I spent quite a bit of time fiddling with everything to get it all to lay nicely. In the end I’m pretty happy with this dress, but it’s not quite as wearable as the others just because I hate worrying about the wrap skirt opening up on me all the time.

The black and white print dress was also made with a Burda pattern. The fabric is an ITY knit from fabricmart that I bought a while ago. I wore this dress a lot during my first pregnancy and have worn it a few times during this pregnancy. I also made this pattern in a top that I blogged about previously. I liked the top, but I haven’t worn it this round because the fabric didn’t wash up very well.

When I made this dress I drafted a facing for the neckline because I didn’t really like the way that the pattern had the neckline finished. I also raised the neckline by over an inch and it’s still fairly low in my opinion.

I’m getting to the point in pregnancy where nothing really seems that flattering and what’s comfortable is really all that matters. Thankfully I have these four dresses that look presentable enough for work.

 

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2016MakeNine

I’m a big instagrammer when it comes to sewing stuff. I think that sewists (or sewers, or seamstresses) are the cream of the crop when it comes to social media. It’s got to be the best community ever and I’m constantly inspired by what everyone is posting.

2015bestnine was a fun hashtag to participate in and Rochelle New started an equally awesome 2016makenine hashtag.

It’s taken me a while to put mine together, but after a little thought this is what I’ve come up with. I’m sure I’ll make more than nine things this year, but I think that most of these will make the cut. I’m not a stickler when it comes to my sewing plans and commitments because sewing is my hobby and I have enough firm commitments in my life.

2016 make nine

When thinking about my nine items, I had a few guiding instincts.

1 – This year my body will be changing with my baby due in April. I wore a lot of loose and comfortable clothing for several months after baby #1 and I anticipate that this time will be no different. That’s why I chose the Pacific Leggings, Archer, and Seymour Jacket. All of these things are items that will be in good rotation starting in May and probably through the end of the year. Even when I’m not pregnant or working off baby weight my hubby complains that I like the loose, fluid styles. Maybe in 2017 I’ll make more of an effort to add some fitted pieces to my wardrobe.

2 – I have very little inspiration to make maternity clothes this time around, but I’ve loved all the versions of the Simplicity maternity dress. I have several pieces of ITY knit that would work for this dress, so I’ll give it a shot. I’m sure that I’ll love the finished item.

3 – I want to do at least a little “unselfish” sewing this year. I can commit to making at least one item for my husband a year. I picked up a few Thread Theory patterns during one of their sales (I think I’ll even make the Finlayson and Newcastle for me, hubby too if he’s lucky) and I’m pretty sure these Jedediah pants would make a fun surprise. I’ve learned not to ask my hubby to choose anything because that takes all the fun out of it for me. I really am a selfish seamstress.

4 – Accessories are great no matter what stage of life you’re in. I’ve had this dot dot dash pattern for a few years and it’s just the kind of bag I’ll get some good use out of.

5 – The kiddos. Of course I’ll be sewing for the kiddos. The bottom row are just a few things I’d like to make. I know I’ll be making leggings for the new little one, and I love footie pants for the winter because then you don’t have to hassle with always losing shoes and socks. And I think a little trouser/vest combo for my boy would be adorable. The lullaby layette has endless possibilities for cute little sets and this time we’re having a girl, so that will be particularly fun.

What are you planning to make in 2016? Do you like to set goals for yourself or just let your creativity run wild?

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2015 Review

2015 is now behind us. It was a great year in so many ways. Most notably, it was our first full year as parents. What an exciting and exhausting time it is to be a new parent.

Professionally it was a very challenging year. Working in a male-dominated profession and a male-dominated industry is not for the faint of heart.

I didn’t completely follow through on any of my specific sewing ambitions. I planned to track my fabric stash usage and yardage purchases and I did pretty well with that until I found out I was pregnant at the end of August and started some hard-core studying for a professional certification exam. I kept sewing, and still bought a little fabric, but I didn’t keep track. I probably bought a little more than I sewed, but I did get rid of quite a bit too, so all in all my stash is smaller now. Maybe I’ll revisit that challenge in 2017 when I don’t have a newborn or morning sickness 🙂

My final make of 2015 was a closet case files bombshell swimsuit. It turned out awesome! I just didn’t get a single photo of myself rocking it in Kauai. At 23 weeks pregnant it still fit without any modifications. I was pretty sure I could get away with it because swim lycra is pretty stretchy. Maybe this weekend I’ll set the tripod up and get a photo in the living room, because it really is that great. I told my hubby that I had never felt so awesome in a swimsuit that I wasn’t self conscious hanging out in it for several days while we were lounging at the pool in Hawaii. He was surprised, but he is one of those guys who has no body shame at all. Maybe all guys are lucky that way, but my man has a particularly low level of self-consciousness.

A few other fun makes from the year. I did more non-apparel sewing this year because my body changed so much. Our son was born in November 2014 and I had quite a bit of baby weight to work off for the first half of the year.

For little man’s first birthday I made 12 stuffed monsters to give away as party favors. His cousins were thrilled!

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I took a shirtmaking class from Sunni Standing of “a fashionable stitch.” The shirt I made has not been worn an awful lot. For some reason I had more trouble with fusible interfacing puckering this year than I ever have before and the collar on my shirt is kind of puckered. It’s also a beast to iron and I don’t do much ironing, so I’ll have to revisit the shirt pattern that Sunni helped me fit. I know I’d wear more collared shirts if I had one that fit well.

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I made this Senna Tote during a few nap times back when our little man was still sleeping a ton. I love this bag and I really need to make another one.

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One of my favorite makes was this blessing outfit for my son’s blessing in March. He’s such a little guy that he was swimming in it, but it turned out just how I envisioned it.

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I tried out some tailoring techniques for this Sew Lisette Butterick jacket. I’m so happy with how it turned out. Then we had a carpet beetle infestation and a few holes got chewed near the shoulder. I need to figure out how to mend it.

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I used a pattern from Kwik Sew “Sewing for Baby” for these little overalls that little man wore on July 4th. He didn’t wear a lot of shorts this summer because his legs were so itchy from bad eczema. We have the eczema resolved now which is awesome.

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I made these chambray shorts for my niece’s birthday in July. They were a hit.

 

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So far my count on Oliver + S After School Pants for the little man is six. He’s such a skinny little man that I have a hard time finding pants for him. I’ve got to the point where I can make a pair in less than two hours and they turn out so cute.

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Sewing is such a great creative outlet for me. I had a great time adding children’s apparel to my routine this year. I still don’t sew much for hubby, which he has come to terms with, but I did make him and the little man matching shirts. Again I had trouble with the interfacing puckering. I ended up taking the rest of the interfacing from the big piece I bought and soaking it in hot water. Since then I’ve used it without a problem. Has anyone else had trouble with fusible interfacing puckering? What is your best solution?

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Tutorial: Using buttonhole elastic

My little man is tall and skinny which means that adjustable waistbands are essential. He’s at an awkward point right now where his 9 month pants are getting too short but the 12 month pants are too big in the waist. Unfortunately, none of his RTW 12 month pants have the buttonhole elastic that is becoming fairly common in children’s clothing.

I looked around and didn’t really see a great tutorial for using buttonhole elastic, so I decided to come up with something on my own. I also realized that tracking down the stuff is pretty challenging in itself. None of my local fabric shops carry it, neither the big chain stores or the smaller independent stores. So I ordered a big roll of it from amazon. They sell it in 1 yard packages on Wawak, but I figured I’d probably want several yards in the end so now I have a lifetime supply! Having it on a roll seems much more economical since I won’t be having so many unusable ends from single yard cuts.

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This particular tutorial is designed for a pattern in which the elastic goes around the entire waist. I’m sure it could be adapted for a flat front pattern as well. I used my current favorite little pants pattern from Oliver + S, the after school pants. I have a few other Oliver + S pants that I’m sure I’ll love, but I had this one traced and cut in little man’s size so I cut a few more pairs.

The one thing I noticed about some of the RTW pants that I have is that the elastic tail is secured inside the waistband so you don’t have to worry about it getting lost in the casing. This seemed to be a concern for some in the discussion forums that I looked at when I was looking for a tutorial.

Well, here it is folks. My version of a buttonhole elastic tutorial. Let me know what you think or if you have any ideas to improve the method.

button hole elastic tutorial

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