Tag Archives: Mood Sewing Network

Ginger Made: Simplicity 1690 Crop Top + Gathered Skirt!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all well! I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged- it’s been a strange month and life sort of got in the way of blogging for a while. But it’s good to be back!

So, this month’s Mood Sewing Network project is a bit of a different one for me. I’ve been wanting a full, mint green skirt for the longest time and it’s finally warm enough to wear one! I chose a creamy cotton voile, thinking it would be nice and light for summer.

Simplicity 1690 | Ginger Makes

You don’t really need a pattern for a skirt this simple, but I was inspired by Pattern Runway’s free Easy Gathered Skirt- it has a flat front waistband with elastic at the back. I don’t usually like elastic waists, but it’s nice to have the adjustability (and the freedom to eat a big lunch without fear of popping a button or breaking a zipper).

Simplicity 1690 | Ginger Makes

Cotton voile is SO easy to sew- I love it! It’s not totally opaque, but I left it unlined- I can always wear a slip if I want to. It’s not too sheer to see the pockets through it, so that’s fine. Since it’s a light, fine fabric, I used silk pins inside the seam allowances and did a blind hem by hand. That’s it! Piece of cake.

Simplicity 1690 | Ginger Makes

Next up, the top. I was immediately attracted to this beautiful silk print. It’s such a great combination of colors! I’d planned to make a buttondown with this, but I changed my mind after seeing a few girls rocking the crop top + midi skirt look (check out the République du Chiffon Anne-Marie pattern! It’s got a fun hipster-does-80′s-mom vibe!). It’s a bit of a different look, but I thought I’d give it a try.

Simplicity 1690 | Ginger Makes

I used Simplicity 1690, a simple kimono top that I’ve made before, and shortened it by 7″ to create a crop top (it’s actually 9″ shorter than my first version, but I had lengthened that by 2″). Now that I’m looking at the photos, I think it needs to go a little shorter, even, so you can see the waistband of the skirt. I tried to carefully plan out the print placement, but I’m not certain I was successful. Ikat is tough, dude! It often ends up looking a bit too anatomically correct! Annoying!

Simplicity 1690 | Ginger Makes

I feel about 50% trendy and 50% frumpy in this look. I may try shortening the top even more to see if I like it better. If not, I’ll just mix the pieces up and wear them separately. I have a feeling the skirt will look super cute with my Nettie bodysuit! I am really loving easy-to-wear separates for summer this year, though. They’re a fun change of pace from sundresses!  How about you guys? What are you making these days? Any favorite summer trends?

OH- before I forget, here’s the winner of the Fashionary giveaway!

Excluding my replies and duplicate comments, there were 125 entries before the deadline. The winner was #28, Rox Guillemette!

I hear that- I ALWAYS want to jump ahead to the next new project! Rox, I’ll be in touch!

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Ginger Made: République du Chiffon Michelle Blazer!

Hi, guys! Bon weekend! OK, so I suppose that after my last couple of posts you’re expecting me to be sporting some kind of muumuu this time around (wait, now I’m tempted to make one), but it’s back to my regular programming!

This month’s Mood Sewing Network project is a fun one! Now, I don’t wear much black, I never wear white, and I DO NOT wear black and white together. I just don’t! But for some reason, this print just called my name and I went with it!

Republique du Chiffon Veste Michelle | Ginger Makes

This is a Theory poly-cotton blend, soft and with lots of drape, that I found at Mood Fabrics NYC.  I knew immediately that I wanted to make a statement blazer with it, and I thought the black and white would be fun for spring paired with bright colors. I also thought I would make a pair of matching pants, buuuuuuuuut I made a mistake that involved recutting a couple of crucial pieces, so I don’t think I have enough fabric leftover now.  Ah well, no use crying over spoilt ikat!

Republique du Chiffon Veste Michelle | Ginger Makes

Could you tell there were pockets?

I picked out the new Michelle pattern from République du Chiffon, a French company with really fashion-forward designs. It’s an easy-wearing, boyfriend-style blazer with a shawl collar and patch pockets (there’s even a teeny-tiny chest pocket!). It’s an oversized style, which probably isn’t the most flattering shape for me, but it keeps things casual for everyday wear.  I can’t say enough about my love for RDC!  Geraldine’s designs are super, super cool and I kinda want to buy every single one of ‘em.

Republique du Chiffon Veste Michelle | Ginger Makes

I spent approximately 1000 years matching up the print at all the seamlines. I cut everything out in a single layer to make and used my walking foot to keep things lined up. It takes time, but the results are worth it. It’s never perfect, but it’s good enough for me- the patch pockets are nearly invisible, and the center back seam is pretty closely matched. But I’ll tell you a little secret: I picked out a lovely silk ikat print for the lining, and after spending an unbelievable amount of time matching up the jacket shell, I just didn’t feel like matching the lining, so I opted for a grey silk from Chic Fabrics. Sometimes you just need a break from all that detail!

Republique du Chiffon Veste Michelle | Ginger Makes

I really enjoy sewing blazers- every time I try a new pattern, I learn new techniques! They’re just so fun to sew! However… this was one of the most difficult projects I’ve taken on in recent months. It wasn’t because of the style, or because of the fabric, but because the instructions for this pattern are entirely in French (and there are only a couple of illustrations)! My rudimentary French was stretched to the max, and I spent LOTS of time with my handy French-English dictionary! Wow, what a brain workout!  Luckily, Geraldine posted a step-by-step photo tutorial right before I started working on this. It was invaluable! If you make this, be aware that the photo tutorial uses a different construction order than the pattern instructions call for, so don’t get tripped up by that.  I really like the results of the photo tutorial.  This is the nicest, cleanest finish I’ve ever had in a blazer!

Republique du Chiffon Veste Michelle | Ginger Makes

Center back seam looks pretty good…

I don’t usually gravitate towards poly-cotton for blazers, but I really liked how it worked for this project- it’s not stiff, it doesn’t crease or wrinkle, but it’s still easy to press. Perfect!  I’m not 100% sold on the oversized shoulder look on me, but that’s not enough to keep me from loving this.

Republique du Chiffon Veste Michelle | Ginger Makes

OMG, a tiny little pocket for all my itsy treasures!

I’m a complete blazer addict! I just love how they can dress up any outfit! I really like making statement blazers- they’re so fun to wear! I’m especially excited about this one since it’s a little outside the box for me. I’m looking forward to finding ways to pair this with clothes in my wardrobe.

Republique du Chiffon Veste Michelle | Ginger Makes

How about you? How do you like to wear blazers, if at all? And how do you like to style and accessorize black and white garments? What’s on your sewing table?

Republique du Chiffon Veste Michelle | Ginger Makes

Have a wonderful weekend, especially if you’re in the States and have a three-day weekend ahead! And a very happy wedding day to Nic and Roisin!!!

 

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Ginger Made: Geometric Laurel(ish)!

Hello! Hope your weeks are all off to a great start! I’m so excited to show you my (literally) shiny, new dress!

For my April Mood Sewing Network project, I picked out this sassy Marc Jacobs cotton/silk blend at Mood Fabrics NYC.  It has a lovely satin finish so it feels extra fancy.  As soon as I saw it, it looked me in the eye and spoke to me: “I’m a shift dress!”  Who am I to disagree?

Ginger Makes | Laurel shift dress

The fabric sewed up easily, more like a cotton than a silk.  I armed myself with a sharp needle and a press cloth, which worked well. I wanted to avoid getting pin holes in the fabric, so I used silk pins inside the seam allowances. The fabric is too special for machine-stitched hems, so I took my time blind-hemming everything by hand.  No other special treatment needed!

Ginger Makes | Laurel shift dress

I used the Colette Laurel dress pattern, which I’ve made once before. I had a great deal of trouble sorting out the fit through the armhole the first go-round, so I grabbed the Gather Mortmain dress pattern, traced off the armhole and sleeve, and just made a frankenpattern.  I haven’t had a chance to sew up that dress yet (although I’m looking forward to it!), but I made a quick muslin and it worked!

Ginger Makes | Laurel shift dress

I can just wriggle into the dress without a zipper, so I cut the back on the fold to avoid disrupting the print any more than was necessary. The Laurel dress calls for a 5/8″ hem allowance, but I like more weight in the hem of a shift dress, so I added extra length to allow for a 2.5″ hem. I lengthened the sleeves by 1.5″. I also drafted neck facings instead of the bias binding that the pattern called for. Call me crazy, but I think I’ve been converted to a facing fan! They lend a nice stability to the neckline that I’ve really come to appreciate.  There’s only one problem with this dress- it wrinkles a bit, and the satin finish makes the wrinkles really stand out. It’s not the end of the world, though.

Ginger Makes | Laurel shift dress

I really like the mod style of this print combined with the shift style. I have to admit, I’m tempted to stitch up a whole fleet of shift dresses this summer!  I’ll be keeping an eye out for more bold prints!

Ooh, one quick item of business! Just wanted to make sure you’ve all seen the fun new Nettie bodysuit pattern released by my friend Heather of Closet Case Files and inspired by another friend, Wanett of Sown Brooklyn! This is what’s on my sewing table right now- I didn’t know I needed a bodysuit until I saw this pattern, but I’m really psyched to try it out!

EDITED TO ADD: I just found a free downloadable shift dress pattern, Simple Sew‘s Brigitte dress! So if you like this style, and a new pattern’s not in the budget, this might be a good option! I haven’t tried the pattern, but let me know if you do- I’d love to know how it turns out!

How about you guys? Do you like the shift dress style? Do you like large-scale prints? Anyone else making a bodysuit?  Do you agree that I definitely need a pair of blue heels to wear with my new dress?  What’s new with you?

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Ginger Made: The “Ladies Who Lunch… and Also Party” Two-Piece Dress!

Hi, guys! Long time no see! In the month since I’ve last posted, I’ve been busy as a bee working on a special project!  Over at the Mood Sewing Network this month, we were challenged to make a look inspired by a SS 2014 runway collection, and today I can finally show you mine!  Please pardon the photos- it was 21 degrees Fahrenheit and super windy, so I was freezing!

I’m not someone who really follows runway fashion, and, prior to this challenge, I had never even heard of the designers I’m drawing inspiration from.  But as I looked at many, many, MANY photos of runway shows, I kept coming back to Sea‘s spring RTW collection (seriously, check it out- there are some really cute looks here!).  The collection was split between looks that were tough, dark, and semi-androgynous and looks that were romantic and feminine. I especially liked the looks where the designers mixed up prim, proper textiles and silhouettes with modern details like cut-outs and exposed zippers.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I decided to make a traditional cocktail dress and help it to reverse age by turning it into a two-piece.  I wanted to use a fabric that felt classic and maybe even a little old-fashioned, so I selected black and pink cotton-poly tweed from Mood Fabrics NYC. It has a very loose weave, and looks like a something you might use for a French jacket or something similar.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I wanted to start with a sweet ’60′s vibe, so I used the skirt portion of my favorite vintage McCall’s 5995 pattern (here it is as a dress, and as a pencil skirt).  I changed the kick pleat to a slit and drafted a waistband with a finished width of 2″ and a 2″ overlap.  I wanted the silhouette to be neat and clean, but not too tight, so I was careful to fit the skirt but not go overboard.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I liked the cut-outs in the inspiration photos, but decided to take the idea a little further and turn the dress into skin-baring separates.  My original plan was to make the top from the Named Patterns Vanamo dress, but after a failed muslin, I abandoned it and decided to draft my own.  I stole the neckline from the Deer & Doe Belladone pattern, and fudged my way through the rest of the patternmaking until I had something workable.  The top closes with a separating zipper that’s covered by an overlap.  The neckline and armholes are finished with an all-in-one facing, which I didn’t enjoy sewing one bit- I didn’t think through my construction and hand-stitching rapidly-fraying tweed wasn’t one of my happiest sewing moments! I finally enlisted Man Friend’s steady hands and cool head, and he helped me forge through when I was down to my last nerve! The waist is also faced, which helped to reduce bulk, too.  I’m not kidding when I say that thinking out how the zipper and facings needed to be installed kept me up at night! I literally laid in bed, unable to sleep, sorting out the construction order and plan of attack on more than one night! I didn’t come up with a perfect plan as I still had to do tons of seam-ripping and re-sewing, but everything came together eventually.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

…Did I mention the fabric has a very loose weave?  This makes it drapey and soft, but it was too drapey for my purposes, so I underlined every piece with black cotton shirting, basting the two layers together in the seam allowances and along the dart legs and centers. This made it much easier to handle. Unfortunately, it frayed like the dickens, so I also fused 1/2″ strips of interfacing to the seam allowances to help the fabric stay together.  This was a SLOW project!  By the time I’d underlined the fabric, things got pretty bulky, so I left off the planned linings altogether.  Instead I finished the seam allowances by zigzagging them and then stitching on rayon seam binding and wide ribbon inherited from my mom’s stash.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

Look how perfectly the dress matches my purple skin!

I wanted to be really careful with proportions and fit for this outfit since I knew I would feel really uncomfortable or worse, trashy, if there was too much skin on show. But I wanted to make sure that the top was cropped enough to top to give a youthful edge to the look, like belonged on Jackie O’s younger, hipper sister.  I finished the skirt first so I could make sure the top was the right length.  I’m really happy with the final proportions.  I feel bold and sassy in this outfit, but still remarkably put together.  One thing that worries me, though, is that I’m not 100% certain where I can wear it!  Any ideas?

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

Although it was a challenge to decide on a runway-inspired style and sew it up, it was fun to work in such a different way and to wear something that’s a bit of a departure from my usual style.  But what about you guys?  Do you draw inspiration from runway looks?  Are there any spring trends that you’re excited to try out?

I wanted to do a supermodel pose, but I’m not sure my expression is vacant enough.

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Ginger Made: Houndstooth Victoria Blazer!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

Guys, I’ve been watching a LOT of TV lately. A LOT.  I feel like a bit of a couch potato, but it’s totally justified since I work in film and television—it counts as homework, right?

JUST SAY YES.

My main obsession lately has been all things BBC- Dr. Who, Torchwood, Luther, and Sherlock, to name a few. All of this led to a sudden, desperate attraction to classic British wool garments—there are only so many times you can see Benedict Cumberbatch swirling around in a fantastic wool coat before you want to wrap yourself in tweed from head to toe!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

I picked up this classic wool houndstooth a while ago from Mood Fabrics NYC, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I considered many options—sheath dress, shift dress, jacket, cape—before settling on one of my all-time favorite patterns, the By Hand London Victoria blazer. You can’t go wrong with a houndstooth blazer!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

This fabric is really soft and drapey, which worked really well with this pattern. Since it’s meant to be slouchy and casual, nothing is interfaced and there aren’t any facings, which makes this a little quicker to construct than more traditional blazers. It was a breeze to sew and press the fabric, and since the wool is so malleable, setting in the sleeves was a cinch! Let’s not talk about the sleeves I set in the other day in a stiff, unforgiving twill… I’m still traumatized!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

The blazer is fully lined in rayon bemberg, also from Mood. I love this soft peachy color. I bought a ton of it a few months back and use it every chance I get! I really like rayon linings since they’re breathable and affordable, so I buy five or six yards of it when I find it in a color I like so I can get a few projects out of it.  I used a scrap of cotton/silk (leftover from this dress waaaaaay back in 2011) for the pockets as it was a perfect match.

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

Don’t worry, guys, my fun with Brit-inspired wools isn’t over yet! Right before I cut into this fabric, I decided I would give the blazer to my sister. She’s headed off to grad school in the fall, and this just screams “Academic Chic” to me! I hope she’ll feel too cool for school when she’s wearing it! But before you get the impression that I’m a sewing saint, know that I’ve been hoarding a nice length of tweed for myself, so I’ll have a fun blazer of my own in no time!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

Do you ever draw sewing inspiration from television? Which shows inspire you most?  Is it weird that almost every episode of Dr. Who makes me weep like a child?  Go on, spill the beans!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

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Ginger Made: Style Arc Romy Anorak (Or, the Jacket that Took Forever)!

Yowza! It’s cold out here, people!  I am not on board with this weather!  I left behind snowy New York this week for the even-more-frozen tundras of Vermont.  I am NOT excited about the cold, but I AM excited to finally show you my new jacket!

Style Arc Romy Anorak made with twill and flannel from Mood Fabrics

This is the Style Arc Romy Anorak pattern, and it’s my January project for the Mood Sewing Network.  I’ve been working on this thing for what feels like the entirety of my life.  OK, it was closer to 2.5 weeks, but between the RTW details, winging it and adding a lining, and attempting to decipher the illustration-less, minimalistic instructions, this one was a real marathon.

Style Arc Romy Anorak made with twill and flannel from Mood Fabrics

First things first: this pattern is super cool and I adore the style, but it’s NOT for the faint of heart.  There’s absolutely no hand-holding here– the instructions offer helpful advice like “Make belt loops and attach them”.  They don’t tell or show you how to do this, the pattern piece (one single long strip) doesn’t give you any details, and the placement markings for the side front belt loops aren’t on the pattern piece, so you have to measure/eyeball to figure out where they go.   That’s pretty much par for the course here.  This is at least an intermediate pattern– I would really only recommend it to a confident sewist who doesn’t mind figuring things out on her own.  It didn’t help that I strayed from the instructions and added a lining.  I had to completely change the order of operations to accommodate that, but it was worth it (unlined jackets are kind of pointless in my climate).

Style Arc Romy Anorak made with twill and flannel from Mood Fabrics

OK, some more pattern details: it has raglan sleeves with darts at the shoulder, which I haven’t seen before but is a nice detail.  There are tucks right above the hem in front and back, and elastic is inserted in the hem so you can cinch it in if you like.  The zipper is hidden behind a fly guard, which feels very RTW to me.  If you’re not familiar with Style Arc, their patterns come in a single size.  I wasn’t super stressed about this because I’m pretty close to a straight size and this isn’t a very fitted style.  I made this without any alterations and the fit is roomy, but works for the style.  If you make this yourself, check the zipper and button placement and make sure it works for you.  I followed the diagrams for zipper and fly guard placement, but it feels backwards to me– when I try to button up the collar, it’s really awkward and hard to do.

Style Arc Romy Anorak made with twill and flannel from Mood Fabrics

ARRRRGGHHHHHH CAN’T GET BUTTON ASGSKOSDIFHGAJDKLFJKSJDGFXDKFLJDFK

While I’ve really been digging the trend of slouchy anoraks that all the cool Brooklyn babes seem to be wearing lately, I’m not super into the ubiquitous olive green that seems to be the only color these jackets come in.  Instead I opted for a nice medium gray cotton twill.  I love twill– it’s my go-to fabric for hard-wearing, good-looking garments.  I love how it looks when it starts to show some wear and tear.  Because twill weaves fray easily, I serged all the seams, even though they would be hidden under the lining. It’s a nice precaution to help extend the life of your jacket. I topstitched all the seams with a twin needle (OMG, WHY WAS I SO SCARED TO USE A TWIN NEEDLE?!  It’s stupid easy!), which gives it a RTW look and also adds some stability.

Style Arc Romy Anorak

You get the idea.

Since I’m the world’s biggest wimp, I added a lining made (mostly) from buffalo check flannel.  It’s so warm and cozy! The sleeves are made out of black bemberg rayon– I get nervous that I’ll rip my lining putting on the jacket if the sleeves aren’t slippery! Since brushed fabrics have a tendency to pill over time, I made the lining with the unbrushed side of the flannel facing out. It’s still beautifully soft, but should stay in great condition longer.  I basically made a second version of the shell and basted it to the neckline and center front before stitching on the collar and fly guard.  I made a booboo when I was cutting it out and forgot to add a CB pleat in the lining, so after consulting the experts (the Twitter sewing crowd!) I cut a strip of fabric the length of the back bodice and stitched it in, so no harm no foul.  The lining pieces were all cut at the hem line, so I just pressed the hems up over the lining, enclosing all the raw edges.  I fell stitched the facings and inner collar down with about 488,135 teeny-tiny stitches… my finger and thumb are still sore!

Style Arc Romy Anorak made with twill and flannel from Mood Fabrics

The pattern calls for the pockets to be made with a box pleat that’s stitched down all the way. I wanted the pocket to expand to hold tons of stuff, so I used an inverted pleat that’s only stitched 2″ from the top and the bottom, so it can sort of bulge out.  I find it annoying to iron under all the seam allowances when I’m making patch pockets, so I opted to line them instead. I cut a second pair of pockets out of the plaid flannel, stitched them together at the sides and bottom, then turned them right-side out, turned under the top seam allowance, and edge-stitched all around. This makes for nice, neat pockets, plus my hands will stay warm in happy flannel-lined pockets!  We allllll know how much I love flannel-lined pockets!  (Sidebar: Can someone please make sure my coffin is lined in flannel?  Oops, got a little morbid there… but still– MAKE IT HAPPEN).

Moving on…

Style Arc Romy Anorak made with twill and flannel from Mood Fabrics

I wanted this to look very clean and RTW, so I used brushed antique nickel jeans buttons from Taylor Tailor that I had in my stash, a matching separating zipper, and two faux metal toggles at the CF hem. I’m really pleased with the way they look!  Oh, and if you want to get in on the jeans button fun but aren’t sure where to start, here’s a great tutorial from Taylor’s blog (spoiler alert: you get to use a hammer!  In the end I discarded the belt loop pattern piece and just followed this great tutorial from the Coletterie– you don’t have any raw edges, and you don’t have to turn a loop!

Style Arc Romy Anorak made with twill and flannel from Mood Fabrics

In the end, I’m over the moon about this jacket! It’s just exactly my style! Isn’t that the best thing about sewing? It took forever to make, and even though the pattern was frustrating, it’s so rewarding to sew something that you can actually get away with wearing day in and day out, and that you’ll love wearing all the time!  While I’m thinking about it, if you want some serious jacket inspiration (and envy!), check out Kelly’s gorgeous Minoru!  It’s stunning!

What are you guys sewing these days? Are you sewing for the season, or jumping ahead to the next one? As much as I dislike winter, I’ve still got some cold weather items on the docket to sew before spring sets in. What about you?

Style Arc Romy Anorak made with twill and flannel from Mood Fabrics

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Papercut Patterns Bellatrix Blazer!

Hi, guys!  Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate!  It’s been a busy week full of travel, family, and friends, so I got a bit distracted and forgot to post my most recent Mood Sewing Network garment!  I planned to make a Christmas dress, but at the last minute decided to make a piece that I could wear well after the holidays.  This time of year I often find myself with functions to go to after work, but I don’t have time to go home and change first.  Sometimes I drag a cocktail dress to work and change in the ladies’ room, but I decided that it would be easier (and less stressful!) to make a day-to-night piece that I can toss on top of my work outfit when I feel like getting a little festive.

As soon as I saw the new Papercut Patterns collection, I fell in love with the Bellatrix Blazer.  I like that it’s a bit different from a traditional blazer pattern with its rounded collar and cinched waist– it’s so stylish and fun!  I knew this would make the perfect holiday jacket.  It closes with one button, has a bit of a peplum, and has in-seam welt pockets.  It’s fully lined, too, which makes it even more luxurious and versatile.  The blazer also has slightly-shaped sleeves– they’re a little longer on the front side of your hand than on the palm side, which is a great detail.

I used two black cotton sateens, one very shiny (for the lapels and welts) and one more matte (for the body) to give it a bit of a tuxedo look.  The shinier sateen had a great deal of stretch to it, but since every piece I was using it for needed to be interfaced, I could get away with it.The blazer is lined with a charcoal-colored silk charmeuse for a wee touch ‘o’ fancy-schmanciness.

The pattern is really easy to put together, but it does take a little time.  I made a muslin, but didn’t end up making any fit alterations at all.  I was intimidated by the welt pockets, but they were really easy to do.  The best part is that because they’re in-seam pockets, you don’t have to do any scary slashing on your jacket front!  Yay!  I really like this pattern, and definitely recommend it.  It’s sleek and sassy in black, but I bet it would look really cute in colors (I’m thinking of a red one– wouldn’t that be cool, in an equestrian way?).  I also like the idea of making a short version to wear over dresses.

This sounds insane, but this is my first black blazer!  I’ve never owned one before!  I feel a little square and boring in it, but I know it will go with so many things in my wardrobe.  I definitely feel older and more put-together wearing it, for better or for worse!

What’s your favorite way to take an outfit from day to night?  What are the most versatile pieces in your wardrobe?  Did you sew any special holiday outfits this year?

Here’s a little detail short– it’s tough to photograph black garments!

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Ginger Made: Burda Cocoon Cardigan (+ bonus Virginia Leggings!)

Hi, guys!  Hope you’re all well!  Here in NYC it has suddenly grown bitterly cold, so perhaps we can blame what you’re about to witness on the weather.

Burda cocoon cardigan by Ginger Makes

I’ve been really interested lately in the fun cocoon coats and jackets popping up on Pinterest and fashion blogs.  There’s something really daring about the exaggerated shape– I love it!  I chose an amazing plaid wool coating from Mood in an attempt to mix a pretty traditional winter textile with a more modern style.  The really special thing about this fabric is that it’s already backed with a contrasting red gingham cotton, and both layers are quilted together.  I’ve heard Carolyn urge her blog readers to take advantage of fabrics that come pre-lined since so much of the work is already done for you, and boy, she’s right (guys, she’s always right– I’m serious)!  This was practically an insta-coat!

quilted wool coating from Mood Fabrics

The pattern is a new Burda download, Cocoon Cardigan 11/2013 #107.  It’s so easy to put together that  you don’t need the instructions (which is a good thing, because they aren’t very good).  If you plan to make this, note that it’s very oversized– I cut my size, and, as you can see, it fits me very loosely.

My plan was to bind the seams as I went along so the inside would be beautiful and clean, but that just seemed too bulky, so I opted to press the seams open and serge each half separately.  This cardigan forms a sort of circle when it’s assembled, so the neckline and hems are finished all at once with a single hem band.  I drafted a two-piece band instead of the suggested one-piece so I could cut the inner band with some buffalo check flannel I had leftover from my Banksia top.  Wool can sometimes be a little scratchy right on my neck, but the flannel is sooooo soft and buttery!  I also added my very favorite thing– flannel pockets!  Seriously, try them in your next A/W garment– it’s such a treat for cold hands!

Burda cocoon cardigan 11/2013 #107 by Ginger Makes

I’m giving this a serious field test– it was 21F and really windy outside when we were taking these photos! Brrrr!

Matching plaid that’s as large-scale as this was not a pleasant task– I think I spent three evenings after work puzzling out my cutting layout.  The real problem was that I didn’t have enough fabric (a frequent problem when you buy fabric without having a plan for it).  But I made it work as best I can, although it’s not perfect.  Actually, I’m not sure there would be a perfect way to do it– the pattern is simple, but it has two-piece raglan sleeves, so I was trying to match at the front and back raglan seams, plus along the seams on the top and bottom of the sleeve.  I nearly pitched a fit when I realized I couldn’t cut the final sleeve piece on the cross-grain after all (the plaid looks square, but isn’t quite, so it didn’t line up at all).  When I calmed down, I figured out that I could cut the piece from two smaller pieces and seam them together.  While this was annoying, you can’t really see the seam, so it worked out just fine.

Burda cocoon cardigan 11/2013 #107 by Ginger Makes

Alright, that’s enough construction talk– let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.  Guys, I’m just not sure this style works on me or in this fabric!  I’m about 50% in love with it, and 50% in hate.  Somehow it’s sort of walking a line between Olsen Twin Chic and The Dude Abides.  I’m thinking that it might help to shorten and narrow the sleeves– there’s something a bit overwhelming about this huge garment, so maybe it would be a bit more balanced if the sleeves weren’t so oversized.  I also really like the curved hem, but I’m not crazy about how long it is in the back.  But again, I’m really on the fence!  What do you guys think– should I reduce the curve and shorten it a bit?

Burda cocoon cardigan 11/2013 #107 by Ginger Makes

I wasn’t totally sure how to style this, but I figured that I needed to be as streamlined as possible beneath the coat, so I whipped up a quick pair of leggings using Megan Nielsen’s Virginia leggings pattern and a cotton-Lycra jersey, also from Mood.  Would you believe I’ve never sewn leggings before?  Talk about instant gratification!  I made these in about two hours, which is INSANELY fast for me, and included putting together the PDF.  Now I want about 58 more pairs!  If you’re looking for a leggings pattern, this one is no-fuss and ridiculously easy.

Burda cocoon cardigan 11/2013 #107 by Ginger Makes

Alright, guys, what’s your honest opinion– do I look like I stole a blanket from a horse?  What do you think of the cocoon coat trend?  Do you have any suggestions for making this more wearable?  Anyone else want to stay inside until May?

Burda cocoon cardigan 11/2013 #107 by Ginger Makes

Can we please go back inside now?

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Dude Sewing: Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan

O, Autumn!, fairest of seasons, when the air is crisp and clear, lattes are pumpkin-spiced, and a sewist’s heart leaps at the thought of wrapping herself in wool from head to toe!  Just kidding, guys, I hate cold weather and I don’t like dropping an extra buck just to have someone dump nutmeg in my coffee.  But I do turn into a whimpering baby and reach for sweaters the second the temp dips below 65 degrees, so I hit the wool section at Mood Fabrics NYC determined to find the perfect cocoon to shelter myself from autumn’s advances!  They have beautiful fabrics for fall up there, and when I found this luxurious wool double knit, I knew immediately I had to make a sweater for my dad. It just looked like something he would like, you know what I mean?  He’s always cold, but lives in a cool climate (if you haven’t experienced it, you don’t want to know what Michigan feels like in the wintertime), so he layers up nearly year-round!

(Special thanks goes out to Man Friend, who graciously volunteered to model the cardigan for these photos despite the fact that it’s a good size and a half too small for him. He was a lovely model, so I’ll have to think of something special to make for him!)

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

This is the closest thing I could find to a smile in the photos…

I used Thread Theory‘s Newcastle Cardigan pattern and cut a size small based on measurements my mom took of a few of my dad’s sweaters. The pattern comes together quickly and is pretty fun to sew. I chose version 1, with front and back yoke details, but cut them in self fabric as my pop’s a pretty conservative dresser and probably wouldn’t appreciate any extra “flair” in his garment! I opted for the larger shawl collar as it seemed cozier. The topstitched yokes are a really nice detail, even if they’re mostly covered up by the shawl collar. I added an extra button (pretty arbitrarily… six just looked better than five in the button size I selected!). If I made this for someone else, I would lengthen the body a bit– it seems a little short, especially in comparison to the length of the sleeves. Luckily my dad’s pretty short-waisted, so it won’t be a problem for him. I would also draft a waistband for the cardigan, I think. I feel like a hem band would look a little nicer and more RTW.

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

“Oh, wow, this pipe is so INTERESTING! I think I’ll keep staring at it!”

The fabric is perfect for my pop– it’s warm and soft, but without any of the scratchiness that often deters people from wool. It’s got some heft, but it’s still drapey, which seemed like just the right weight for a cardigan.  To help it keep its shape, I used pro-tricot deluxe fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply for the collar, plackets, facings, and yoke pieces.  I really liked this interfacing– I was amazed to see that the fabric still retained its stretch after fusing!  I also stabilized the shoulder seam with twill tape, following the pattern directions to topstitch from the right side on either side of the seam. The fabric is stretchy, but not CRAZY stretchy, so I used a ballpoint needle to avoid skipped stitches, but stitched the vertical seams with a regular straight stitch. I used a zigzag stitch on anything that needed to stretch horizontally (like the cuff seams), and I used my Janome’s special stretch zigzag stitch for the hem to make sure it had plenty of give (I just discovered this stitch after, oh, two years sewing on this machine… facepalm).  Buttonholes… well, they LOOK pretty good, but my feed dogs couldn’t move the fabric forward while I was sewing them, so I had to sort of manually shove the fabric underneath the buttonhole foot.  I was trying to match the speed I thought the sewing machine would move to keep from stretching out the buttonholes, and I think I was fairly successful, but it was pretty nerve-wracking!

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

The major difficulty of using a fabric like this for this pattern is BULK.  In some places, like where the collar attaches to the neckline, you’re sewing through six layers of fabric (not counting interfacing!)– whoa, Nelly!  My poor sewing machine was pretty sad trying to chomp through that much fabric.  I graded the seams and notched them aggressively, but there’s still a bit of bulk in some of the seams that just couldn’t be eliminated.  If you’re making this pattern or something else with a shawl collar, it might make sense to cut facings or the undercollar out of a lighter-weight fabric, something I routinely do when sewing with wovens but didn’t consider on this project.

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

Better keep inspecting that pipe– you might miss a detail!

So, brief sidebar– guys, it’s WAY more fun to be on the other side of the camera telling someone how to model than to pose for pictures yourself!  I was nearly mad with power and really had to dial back the impulse to shout things like, “What’s your character’s backstory?”  Man Friend was worried that he looked too much like His Excellency, the Duke of Fall.  There’s definitely a resemblance, huh?

HOLY CRAP, LOOK OUT! YOUR HEAD IS GLOWING, MAN FRIEND!  Someone take the camera away from me, please.

How about you– are you a wool enthusiast?  Are you a fall junkie?  Are you a member of the pumpkin spice latte cult?  What’s on your sewing table these days?

Bathroom graffiti at FIT where I’m taking night classes. It’s a cult, people!

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Better-Late-Than-Never Baby Dresses!

Friends, I’m gonna let you in on one of my ugliest, dirtiest secrets. I hate sewing things for babies.

I can feel the searing rays of your judgment! But let me explain– baby clothes are fiddly to make, fit for about 10 minutes, and are the object of more puke than toilets in a freshman dorm. It’s a lot of work for very little payoff! Plus, many babies are showered with so many tiny outfits when they could probably use a big box of Pampers much more than another cardigan!

But, when old, dear friends have babies, even the grumpiest baby grinch is occasionally tempted to dabble in the world of tiny clothes, hence these little dresses. I knew that I wanted something pretty and sweet, but I didn’t want to go completely pastel for these dresses. I found a nice compromise in these beautiful 100% cotton shirtings from Mood Fabrics NYC. The combination of gingham and stripes is cute for a tot, and the fabrics are much more soft and luxurious than you usually see in children’s wear. Another benefit is that cotton shirting is tough enough to take a beating in the laundry.  Plus, it doesn’t take much to make garments this small, so you can get a little fancy with your fabric. I had just over half a yard of each fabric and was able to make two dresses.

I used Made By Rae‘s downloadable Geranium dress pattern, which comes with about a zillion options.  I opted for cut-on cap sleeves and a pleated skirt. The bodice is fully lined, and I turned and stitched the center back seam and used French seams on the sides (I’ve heard that serging can be too scratchy for sensitive baby skin). The bodice has a back button closure– not sure how easy this is to get babies in and out of. Any feedback, moms and dads?  This was really easy to put together, although the directions were a little complicated to follow as they jumped back and forth between the different views, so I occasionally lost my place.  I’m sure someone more organized than myself would have no issues with this, though.

Although I wasn’t eager to make these, I found myself smiling as I stitched on the adorable buttons (a gift from Marie that I’m so glad I saved until now!) and put the finishing touches on the dresses. There’s just something so sweet about itty-bitty clothes! I really like how these turned out, and I caught myself planning future versions in blue, yellow, and gray combos. But before you think I’ve turned into Santa Claus overnight, you should probably know that I made these in the 12-18 month size… because it’s been a while since these little girls were born. Better late than never, right?

What’s your opinion of homemade baby gifts? A sweet potential heirloom? Better saved for older kids who are interested in what they wear? Tacky? Treasured? What’s the nicest handmade baby gift you’ve given or received?

Sidenote: I discovered the hazards of photographing finished projects outdoors– my neighbor spotted me shooting these, and before I knew what was happening, I heard myself agreeing to make a dress for her granddaughter! Whoops!  Guess I better get used to making clothes for small people!

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