Happy Friday + Simplicity Tween Patterns

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Happy Friday, my friends!

A little while ago, it occurred to me that K has officially outgrown the largest size (130cm) for most of the Japanese sewing books that I own. This was a momentous and startling occurrence. I’ve been sewing from these books for five years, which means I haven’t bought her (or me!) any clothes for 60 months. Wait, that’s not true. I did buy the first day of school outfit here.

Okay, K has received an embarrassment of riches in terms of hand-me-downs from neighbors and she’s worn the ready-to-wear outfits exclusively and exuberantly for the last couple of years. Mildly discouraged but also relieved that it gave me more time to work on books, I had stopped sewing for her.

But joy! K has a sudden renewed interest in handmade clothes and has been squeezing herself into the garb I stitched up years and years ago. It was time to get the sewing machine cranked up again.

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So we hightailed it to the nearest JoAnn’s and found a bevy of tween patterns. I already had a few tween patterns on hand, but we were looking specifically for cardigan patterns. She has big, big love for cardis. And shrugs. And boleros. I’ll do another post on the New Look patterns that was part of the same haul, but these were the two Simplicity ones she liked: 1025 and 1510 — see what I mean about the cardis and boleros?

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The funny thing about this view C of Simplicity 1025 is that it’s actually a faux cardi. The shirt portion is cleverly stitched as part of the cardigan. I didn’t realize this until I started sewing and was perplexed by the instructions and stared at them for a while. Once I figured it out, it was easy to assemble. K loves it. Size 8 seems to be spot on for my petite, almost 11-year-old in all the Big 4 patterns.

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She also begged for the knit skirt, and chose all the fabrics from my stash. That’s my ironclad new rule: no new fabrics. Both were quick to sew, and though my stitches got a little weird around the neckline of the faux cardigan, I’m pretty sure that no one would actually notice.

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It looks sort of business-casual to me, but hey, she adores the outfit. That darn skirt hem keeps flipping up…

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By now, I’ve quietly surrendered all creative decisions to my budding fashionista, and her next request was for a “musical” outfit. For those of you that may not know, K is a musician. She plays the piano, guitar and cello and she also takes voice lessons. All by her own request. As a totally non-musical person who is tone-deaf myself, what she can do with all her instruments is miraculous to me.

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I actually made three boleros total from Simplicity 1510 (the other two disappeared in her laundry basket and I haven’t been able to get photos). The pattern is meant for wovens, but I used a sweater knit, and as per her instructions, I ironed on a big ole gold treble clef. It’s become a fave.

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The dress is made out of quilting cotton and isn’t the best in terms of drape. The pleats don’t really show up much with dancing musical notes everywhere, but it’s a nice detail.

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Speaking of dancing, apparently this is the new “it” dance move called The Dab:

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The Dab from behind:

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It’s all the rage at K’s school. My invisible zipper insertion technique needs some work, and I couldn’t get the waist seams to line up but again, chance of anyone noticing are slim.

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I’ve noticed that the dress isn’t getting much wear compared to the boleros, but maybe it’s because she had wanted the maxi version and I just didn’t have enough fabric. She’s talking to M here and making him pinky promise something, but I can’t remember what it was about.

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Alright, I feel like I’ve assailed you with enough photos for now. As you can see, I’ve been sewing fairly frequently. And I am LOVING it.

I’m not ready to figure out what to do with all the Japanese sewing books, but I will get around to it when the time is right. Baby girls seem to be popping up around me a lot lately, and I do get an outsized amount of pleasure from sewing itty-bitty clothes…

I’m off to sew some more! Have a delightful weekend everyone!

Tween sewing is good
Though our tastes aren’t quite the same
We connect through it

 

Happy Friday + Morgan Jeans

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So. Shall we talk about the brilliance that is the Morgan Boyfriend Jeans by Closet Case Patterns? I happen to be one lucky gal and am real life friends with both Heather (who created the pattern) and Morgan (who is the muse for the pattern). When the energy of two women that I adore converge into a singularly stylish and comfortable jeans pattern, well, I flounder for the right word to describe the magic. Maybe fizazzlepizzazzle?

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I took my time with this one, friends. I lovingly traced the pattern pieces. Slooowly cut them out. I carefully ironed on the interfacings. So on and so forth. And you know what? It was AWESOME. I was enjoying myself so much while making these, a casual observer might have assumed I was on some mood-enhancing drug. Nope, just a natural high from creating the most professional-looking pair of jeans.

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From start to finish, it took me seven hours to make these jeans. Yes. Definitely an investment of time. But I paced myself and worked on it over three days and it truly felt effortless. Would I do it again? No question.

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The one rub: I think I cut one size (or possibly two sizes) too large. This is a size 8, and I knew from the instructions that the non-stretch denim would expand in size over time and based on the measurements the 8 seemed like a safe bet. I took the photos as soon as I finished them and the fit was perfect, perfect, perfect. Snug, but not tight around the waist. Casually slouchy but not ballooning around the thighs and calves.

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I don’t have pictorial evidence, but by the end of the day of the third wear, the jeans looked like they belonged to a hefty bodyguard three times my size.

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I’m going to toss them into the washing machine and hope they shrink up back to the amazing initial fit. If not, that’s okay. I’m not one to shy away from too loose jeans.

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It just means I’ll have to size down, which means less fabric to cut and hey, that sounds like a win-win to me. On a side note, I went with the cropped version but due to my legs that have the DNA of wiener dogs, they don’t look as cropped as I’ve seen on others. I like this length a lot though!

Spurred by the success of my Morgan Boyfriend Jeans for which the instructions are excellent, I decided it was high time I made K some skinny jeans again. I’m afraid the lack of pictorial evidence is deliberate this time. I used the Blaverry KoKo pattern (the company no longer seems to be in business) and maybe I was exhausted and double-visioned from already making grown-up sized jeans, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of the zip fly insertion instructions. I completely flubbed the whole thing, but K wore it for a full day anyway just because I had spent so much time on it (a speedy 4 hours compared to the Morgan). But in the end, she had to admit that the jeans were terribly uncomfortable. If I get around to it, I’ll add the photo of the finished KoKo jeans here at a later date — it actually looks pretty good at first glance, but oh, the zip fly (suck in breath through teeth here)…it ain’t pretty.

Upon reflection I’m certain that I messed up K’s jeans because I felt rushed and through no fault of her own, K’s eager expectation added some pressure to the experience. With the Morgan jeans, I thoroughly and leisurely enjoyed the process of it and didn’t really focus on the end result. With the KoKo jeans, it was all about the end result. Hm. Thoughts to chew on. Have you made the Morgan? Was it as fizazzlepizazzle for you too? What about the KoKo? I’m sure it’s a great pattern and that all errors were just from my misreading the instructions.

Anyway. I have another deadline next week so I better focus on that. Have a delightful weekend, everyone!

Jeans are fun to make
Even if they don’t fit well
Just gotta make more

P.S. I almost forgot! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

P.P.S. I’m wearing the Linden sweatshirt in the lovely french terry I mentioned a few posts ago.

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! The other day K looked at me and said, “I don’t know why, Mama, but I think your spirit animal is a donkey.” At first, I was thrown off because Eeyore came immediately to mind.

Later, I did a little research and I think I’m in love with donkeys. Did you know that contrary to common perception, donkeys are extremely intelligent? And that they’re not easily startled and are super strong? They have a well-developed sense of self-preservation (which accounts for their stubbornness) and are incredibly curious creatures. After examining quite a few photos and sketching a couple of donkeys, I now know that they’re adorable. Maybe not as glamorous as horses, but quite beautiful in their own way.

 

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I marveled at K’s wisdom. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be a horse and battling a nagging (ha) sense of unease about it. All this time, I was actually a donkey, an animal that I had discounted as somehow lesser. Which of course, it’s not. I feel like there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I’m embarking on making another pair of jeans tonight — I’m so excited!!!!

Alas, I’m a lass
granted a spiritual ass
hee haw hee haw hee

 

6 Lindens + A Toaster

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Well, well, well, what do we have here? Clearly, a pile of knits that have seen better days.

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A few weeks (months?) ago, I hinted at having sewn a bunch of Linden sweatshirts and not only did I sew six of them, I have worn them to death.

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From a distance, they don’t look too bad. I even got a little bit creative with a striped back for the black version:

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Alas, these have been so well-loved (that Jen of Grainline Studio knows how to draft a good pattern) three out of the six are not really fit for public wear anymore and have been relegated to pajama tops. Case in point:

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This brownish-khaki-ish double-knit is incredibly soft and comfortable but the pilling! The snagging! I truly look tragic when I wear it. The navy-and-white stripe and black with striped back have suffered similar declines in presentability. The Ocean Blue French terry I got from Raspberry Creek Fabrics is wonderful in quality, however, and it’s been holding up decently, as has the light grey sweatshirt fabric from…I don’t know. Maybe Pacific Fabrics? The double-knit was from Drygoods, I’m pretty sure. The short-sleeved navy version is also a mystery fabric that feels like rayon jersey.

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I wanted to make more Lindens to replace the pilled, unsalvageable ones, but chose to expand my horizons and tried my hand at the Toaster sweater. Here’s the conversation that followed when I triumphantly donned my new Toaster:

M: Did you make that?

Me: Yes! It was so fast to sew!

M:….

Me: Do you not like it?

M: Um.

Me: I know. I’m calling it my Steve Jobs top. It’s not my best look.

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My fabric choice was problematic, to begin with. This thick rayon jersey has no drape and very little stretch, so I feel stiff and awkward in it. I also added quite a bit to the bottom band since it’s what I always do to account for my loooong torso. I think that and the extra amount I added to the turtleneck are throwing the proportions off.

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The back’s not too bad. My Ginger jeans are still surviving though I accidentally ripped the right knee on a jutting apparatus in my basement (it’s torn all my jeans and caused other shenanigans). I figure the ripped knee gives me some street cred.

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Hmmmm. It’s not that it looks horrible or anything. I think it’s more about how I feel in it. I feel…oddly robotic. Inflexible. Rigid. Ah well. Live and learn. Maybe I’ll try this pattern again with a different knit. That might be the ticket.

With spring around the corner, a resurgence of sewing motivation is brewing inside of me. I might even venture to sew something that’s not knit! What are you making lately?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Friday + SVE Wrap-up

 

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Happy Friday! This is but a small sampling of the 800+ posts when you search the #2017sve hashtag on Instagram.

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Friends, this year’s Secret Valentine Exchange exceeded our expectations on every level. The creative energy, the kindness, the patience (we know that quite a few of you are still waiting…we’re doing our best to help loose ends get tied up, so keep us posted at secret.valentine.exchange@gmail.com). Ute and I are experiencing a lot of jaw-hanging and tear-wiping. We’ve especially been tickled by serendipitous pairings of people living near each other and we’ve been incredibly touched by gifts that arrived during trying and much-needed moments. And so much variety! DIY make-up! Bags of all shapes, sizes, colors! Dolls! Pet bibs! Knitted loveliness! Paintings! Jewelry! Hand-stamping / hand-dying / hand-spinning! And much, much, more. It’s been magic.

2017sve-wrapup4As for me, I received a lovingly crocheted bag in my favorite hues and the effort and care that went into it is abundantly clear. Thank you, Sally Mae! The shape makes me think of the word “pochette” for some reason — Google is telling me that it’s supposed to mean “wallet” in French, but in the Japanese culture little purses are often referred to as pochettes. My pochette was stuffed to the max with chocolate and candy, which made everyone in my family very happy. K immediately claimed the Fun Dips for herself. The sweetest part? My SVE partner included a little Pen Pal survey for me to fill out. I used to love pen pal letters when I was a kid! I promptly completed it and sent it to Sally Mae — so fun!

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In terms of my own gift-making, I took quite some time to come up with an idea for my Secret Valentine, Melanie of All by Hand. Her color and fabric preferences were very similar to mine, which was handy. I dug around my stash and pulled out a bunch of linens, then I noticed that her logo was a sweet blossoming tree branch which reminded me of this silky fabric I purchased eons ago. Risking some copyright infringement, I hand-painted her logo and made little notecards that I hoped might be useful for her to include with her shop items. Speaking of her shop, Melanie makes gorgeous rope bowls and assorted sewn items. I thought of hunting down some Japanese ropes to include as part of the gift, but when I did an online search for “Japanese ropes,” I wasn’t quite prepared for the intense bondage imagery that popped up. Red-faced and scandalized, I decided to table that idea.

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The silky fabric turned into an infinity scarf (which I realized isn’t totally seasonally appropriate for Australia, but oh well; it’s almost fall there, right?), and because I wanted to keep the gift compact, I decided to create little embroidered sachets. My stitches are never totally even, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending several meditative evenings letting the stitches come up with their own designs. I’m sort of in love with their wonkiness. I filled them with lavender and called it good. In fact, I loved making these so much, I’ve been caught up in a full-blown sachet-making obsession!

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Ute and I are so grateful to the 426 women who joined in spreading handmade cheer around the globe!!! As with any venture with hundreds of participants, there have been a few hiccups here and there and we’re taking them in stride, knowing that each challenge and learning how to deal with it will make the exchange even better next year. Overall, we’re quite amazed at how smoothly everything has gone — we even got a little more technically savvy this year with mail merge (thank goodness for YouTube)!

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And no SVE wrap-up is complete without me gushing about Ute. You’ve probably all figured out by now that she’s the one running the show, keeping the excitement thrumming, and saving the day left and right. My IG and general online presence can be, shall we say, hit-or-miss, but Ute has been commenting like a boss on massive numbers of SVE IG posts (how does she do that?????), which is no small feat. It’s just one of many ways that shows how awesome she is. Behind the scenes, she does even more and is truly a wonder. Not that I’m slacking off, but she’s so on top of things, it’s magnificent. Working on this project with Ute is hands down my favorite part of SVE.

I’m filled with anticipation for the 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange!! I hope you are too!

Aaaaaaand, that’s a wrap!

…except, once again, if you still haven’t received a gift, please let us know at secret.valentine.exchange@gmail.com. We’ll do everything we can to help out! xoxo