The Jasper Sweatshirt

Even though we have said hello to Spring here in So Cal, I could not let the warm weather completely takeover before I share this fabulous winter make. The Jasper Sweatshirt, stylish, fashion forward and modern, looks like it could be a part of an upscale athletic RTW collection.

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The PDF pattern by Paprika Patterns is actually titled “Jasper Sweater & Dress.” I first discovered this pattern while reading a post from Mahlica Designs blog well over a year ago. I purchased it soon after, but it sat in my pile for quite some time. There is a Sweater and Dress view, and a collar or hood option.

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My catalyst to finally make the Jasper was this amazing fabric I found at Mood on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. The front side has a smooth texture with snazzy, verigated lines of blue, green and grey. The back side is a cuddly, soft, ribbed, grey fleece. I was obsessed with this fabric when I discovered it stuffed amongst all the sweater knits at Mood. It was $25 per yard, and I didn’t care. I loved it’s unique two sided-ness, and it’s promise of comfy warmth on a winter walk in So Cal.

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I top-stitched most of the seams with a stretch double needle.

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The welt pockets are probably the most intimidating feature of this well drafted stylish, sporty pattern. Once wearing the garment, you realize how well worth the effort they are. Who doesn’t love resting their hands in a comfy pouch across their belly?

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The bottom of the pouch pocket is not sewn into the bottom band. I was afraid it would sag or create bulk on the front side when wearing, but it doesn’t!

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The pattern features princesses seams on front and back which makes for a nice modern fit.

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The hood has a unique design. I like how it creates a wide opening at the neck and around the face.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I cut a size straight size 4 and I’m very pleased with the fit.

2. I shorten the sleeves by 2″ and narrowed the cuffs by 1″. I realize the longer sleeve and wider cuffs was a carefully thought out detail by the designer. But I wanted the sleeves to be a bit more practical for me, and not have the cuffs falling halfway down my hands all the time. (After wearing it, however, I have determined that I would put a 1/2 inch back on the sleeve.)

3. I was confused as to why the pouch pocket was longer than the main front piece, also, as to whether the bottom of the pocket got sewn into the bottom band. The instructions were not clear to me. I emailed Lisa at Paprika Patterns with my questions. I was very pleased that I heard back from her within a few hours. Those of you that follow her on social media, know she lives somewhere in France in a yurt.

Overall, I am very pleased with my Jasper Sweatshirt, and so happy I finally made it! My only disappointment is my days of wearing it are numbered as 80 degree days are here to stay. This is a pattern, however, that will not go out of style. So there’s always next year, and the year after…

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I always welcome your comments. Have you been wanting to make a Jasper?

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This is my son named Jasper! That’s really why I bought the pattern!

 

 

 

Japanese Smock Blouse B

Japanese patterns…I’ve become mildy obsessed. With each project I make, I become a bigger fan. My continuing quest for more interesting tops was a great reason to sew up my fourth Japanese pattern.

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The pattern I used is B: Smock Blouse with Garibaldi Sleeves from Stylish Dress Book, Wear With Freedom by Yoshiko Tsukiori. This is my second project from this book. My first was Japanese Dress Y. I chose pattern B because of it’s simplcity and design features that would lend well to a drapey fabric.

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This book has 26 adorable patterns to choose from.

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Contrary to my usual habits (I am actually not a fabric horder, and have very little stash), I already had the fabric before I choose this pattern. It was part of my online Black Friday sale purchase from Hawthorne Threads. The fabric is Anna Maria Horner, Pretty Potent Rayon, Eucalyptus in Ruby. I purchased about 2 yards for $9.95 per yard. This is a nice quality rayon which came through a machine prewash and line dry beautifully.

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The neckline is finished with bias tape which I first machine stitched to the front, then folded over, hand stitched on the inside and then top stitched on the front side. The pattern does not provide explict instructions on how to do this!

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Here’s a Garibaldi sleeve. It has a partially gathered bottom piece with an elastic casing hem.

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The back neckline does not have gathers.

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I did a machine blind hem. One of my favorite finishing techniques for hem that have little or no curve.

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Inside peek at the stitch.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The pattern sizes in this book range from 6 to 16. I cut a straight size 12, and was happy with the fit. I probably could have made a 10 and been just as satisfied since it’s very loose fitting.

2. This pattern is well drafted and true to the picture. I have developed a trust in the Japanese patterns.

3. However, as with the other Japanese patterns I’ve made, the instructions are minimal. If you are a beginner, do not attempt one of these patterns unless you have some in-person support. Here’s Blouse B in it’s one page entirety:

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4. The instructions showed the bias tape cut at 1 3/8″ wide. I cut it at 1 5/8″ because I was afraid any stretching or fraying might leave it too narrow in places.

5. I think one reason I like these patterns is they are friendly/flattering to the pear shaped, small busted woman.

I only sewed with Big 4 patterns (plus Burda) for 40 years. I trust them and know how to work with them. Since starting this blog, 2 years ago, I have ventured to other resources for patterns. (Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.) I have discovered that well drafted patterns can come from just about anywhere. Still, I choose patterns from alternate sources because I find an appealing and unique design, and not because I want to jump on the social media bandwagon with the latest indie pattern.

What about you? How do you choose patterns?

Thanks for visiting and reading this post! Cheers, Lori

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It’s been such a warm February, our trees think it’s spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Allay Shirt

So I need to ask myself again at the two year anniversary of my blog – have I sewn myself stylish yet? I have to say no, not completely. At times, I still feel frumpy or a lack of clothes. When the weather finally cooled down this fall, sometime in the middle of November, I really felt like I had no cool weather clothes. I say cool weather, not cold weather because I live in Southern California. I’m talking about everyday, nice, casual – something more interesting than a long sleeved, plain t-shirt. I thought this loose-fitting shirt was a great way to start filling this void in my wardrobe.

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The pattern I used is McCall’s 7018. I had this pattern for quite some time, bought on sale at JoAnn’s, probably 5 for $7. I made view E. I was attracted to it’s loose fit and versatility. We do have chilly mornings and evenings in the winter, so one feature I look for is a simple, narrow sleeve that will easily slide into a jacket or sweater.

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The fabric I used is Anna Maria Horner, Tangle Knit in Rust. I bought this knit online at Hawthorne Threads during their Black Friday Sale. I bought 1.75 yards for $9.70 per yard. I am always leery about buying knits online because the quality of the fabric and the printing can vary greatly. But, I have purchased Anna Maria Horner knits before and knew it was a sure bet. I was not disappointed, this is a perfect top weight cotton interlock with a nice print quality.

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I like the not-too-drastic high-low feature of the hem.

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This shirt washes beautifully. When I took these photographs, it had been worn and put through the washer and dryer.

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I slipped stitched the bottom of the collar down by hand before top stitching on the front side.

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Simple narrow double needle hem. No serging on the edges, just trimming close to the stitching.

 

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I cut a straight size 12. The only adjustment I made was taking off 1″ in the length before cutting. This is standard practice for me as my widest part is my thighs and I never want to top to end at that spot. Since this top is “loose-fitting,” I did not have to grade wider at the hips were I am about a size 16. I am very pleased with the fit and like the look of the shaped hemline.

2. The pattern is labeled as “EASY.” Doing a collar with a button front is never easy for a beginner especially with a knit. I guess we should assume that EASY does not equal Beginner?

3. Before top stitching on the collar, I hand-based all around close to where I was going to top stitch to prevent the fabric from stretching/pulling under the machine foot when stitching.

I love this shirt. I’ve worn it 3 or 4 times already, and very time it makes me feel happy that I’m wearing it.

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What about you? Do you find the start of a new season upon you and suddenly feel like you have nothing to wear?

 

 

 

The Esme Tunic

I have felt a desire lately to put more craft and creativity into my Fresh Makes. I recently purchased the book “Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style.” Putting a spin on one of her patterns was a perfect way for me to the get back into touch with my artsy side.

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That is my dog, Spright, peeking under the fence.

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The book includes patterns for five basic garments. This is the Esme Tunic. The Esme includes two other versions, a hip length top and kaftan.

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The fabric I used is Alison Glass Knits in Indigo. I purchased it online at Harts Fabrics for $15.99 per yard. It is also available at several other online fabrics stores. I had already made two simple shirts with Alison Glass Knits, and thought this would be a perfect fabric for this simple tunic. I love this knit fabric! It is very stable, substantial weight jersey knit, that after a few washings, feels like flannel. (Beware: It shrinks a lot! I prewashed this the Indigo twice because my first two projects with this fabric shrunk more in the first wash after completing and wearing.)

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I added a reverse applique design at the neckline inspired by Alabama Chanin. When the Alabama Stitch Book came out in 2008, I was obsessed with the techniques and garments from the book. I made countless projects for a year or two. Then time marched on and I focused on other things. But recently I felt a yearning to do some handiwork, and thought this neckline would be perfect for some embellishment. (The stencils are of my own design, not from the book.) The paint I used is Jacquard Lumiere, Pearl Megenta.

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The underneath fabric which is also the facing, is Alison Glass Knit in Lime, leftover from my prior project.

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The lime colored facing was attached so the right-side of the fabric shows through when the blue fabric is cut away.

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I used a rounded zigzag stitch for the hem. I normally use a double needle straight stitch on knits, but I thought this would look better with the folksy style of the tunic. I leave the edges raw and cut closely to the stitching. That’s all you need to do!

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I traced and cut a pure size medium without any alterations (except for the length). The flair was significant enough to accommodate my larger hip to smaller bust ratio.

2. I took off two inches from the length before cutting because I thought I would make it a just below hip length to wear with jeans. I tried it on and asked my 20 year old daughter for her opinion as to whether I should keep it long or make it shorter, and she said keep it long. So I did! If I knew I was going to do this, I might not have taken off the two inches. I feel perfectly comfortable in it, but, I’m old!

3. The Esme Tunic is a simple pattern that a beginner could sew. BUT not solely with the instructions provided in the book.

4. I bought this book out of curiousity and because it seems to be getting a lot of hipe on social media (or at least the stuff I follow). I have always liked Lotta Jansdotter’s asthestic and the fact that she’s Swedish. I’m part Swedish and have visitied Sweden many times. But I have to be completely honest, intially, I thumbed through it pretty quickly and thought it was a waste of money. The accessory projects are so easy, I definitely didn’t need a book to show me how to do them. But I realized I am not the target audience for this book, and it is comforting and inspiring for someone who is non-crafty to make projects from a curated book from lifestyle icon.

5. BUT, I thought, I spent money on the book, I need to make something from it. AND, I have to admit, I LOVE the cut and fit of the Esme Tunic. I might even make another one!

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Pack n Party Dress

A few months ago I flew out of state to attend my nephew’s wedding. I was flying one of those budget airlines where every amenity, even water, is an extra cost. I paid for one carry on bag for a four day trip, so I needed a wedding guest dress that could be rolled and stuffed into a small suitcase. A comfy, wrinkle-free polyester jersey knit dress fit the bill perfectly.

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The pattern I used is Simplicity 2580, which of course I bought the only way to buy big four patterns, on sale at JoAnn’s for about $1.00. I was attracted to the neckline of View C and the slightly A-lined silhouette. I traded out the short, petal sleeve for a straight, 3/4 length sleeve (from McCalls 6697).

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While JoAnn’s is my go to stop for patterns and notions, I rarely buy fabric there. But I was limited on my fabric shopping opportunities for the project, so I forced myself to make a selection at JoAnn’s, and I rather like this out-of-the-box choice for me. The colors are fun, and there’s plenty of pattern to hide bulges that can so easily show on a slinky knit.

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The front bodice is self-lined and is actually folded at the front neckline which creates a nice, smooth finish. I finished the back neckline with a double needle and trimmed the raw edge close to the stitching.

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I added clear elastic on the seam where the bodice is attached to the skirt. This is a technique I first learned making the Moneta Dress and have used it several times since.

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I am not a big fan of machine hems on dresses, but I think a double needle on a super stretchy knit is a safe bet.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I cut a straight size 14 for the bodice and the sleeve (from McCalls 6697). For the skirt, I graded to a size 16, and then additionally added a slight bit of flair which totalled 8″ of width at the bottom. I wanted to make sure the fabric draped nicely over my mid-section, hips, and thighs. I am very happy with the fit.

2. I have wrestled with skipped stitches for years using the double needle on slinky or thick knits. I finally bought a STRETCH double needle (had to order it online) and, oh my gosh, it has solved all my problems. Had I known what a difference it makes, I would have bought one 30 years ago!

3. I love the neckline on this dress! I think it is probably universally flattering on women of all bust sizes.

4. This pattern sews up easily for a seamstress experienced with sewing on knits.

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Here I am sitting with my dad and my son’s girlfriend, Ryley. Ryley is wearing a Alder Dress by Grainline Studio that I made for her!

 

 

 

The Factory Dress

It’s still blazing outside, and I’ll be starting my part-time teaching job in less than two weeks. Therefore I was very motivated to sew up some practical work wear that can take me from end-of-summer through fall. The Factory Dress by Merchant and Mills fits the bill perfectly.

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I have coveted the Merchant and Mills patterns since discovering them some time ago. When I calculated that it would cost me approximately $46 to purchase a pattern directly from the UK based company, I figured I would never own one. When I learned that I could purchase one domestically through Fancy Tiger Crafts, I took the plunge. I still paid $20 + $7.95 shipping, much more than I normally pay for patterns. I do splurge very once and a while to sample patterns outside the Big Four. The Factory Dress is “inspired by working women, with a dash of the Twenties.” I found the notion of elevating a working class uniform to something more sophicated intriging.

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The fabric I used is once again from The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. I hit their summer sale and scored this beautiful linen for $12 per yard. I purchased three yards, but could have done with a little less. Might I add, the sweet employees always measure the yardage very generously. I prewashed it in the machine “at my own risk” and also partially dried it in the dryer. I wanted to soften it a bit and give it a slight laundered linen look.

I accidently put the pocket on the wrong side. I think I make mistakes like this because I'm left-handed.

I accidently put the pocket on the wrong side. I think I make mistakes like this because I’m left-handed.

I top-stitched around the collar by hand.

I top-stitched around the collar by hand.

Inside peek - I serged all the seams. It has side seam pockets.

Inside peek – I serged all the seams and did a hand hem on the sleeves and bottom. It has side seam pockets.

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Gosh, that morning sun is bright.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The pattern ranges from size 8 to 18. I cut a straight size 10, even though, according to the chart my bust is a size 12 and my waist and hips are a size 14. I read other reviews, looks at images of the dress online, and also notice how loose fitting the dress is on the model on the pattern envelope. I “get” the loose fitting style aesthetic, but what also know to be true is that style only looks flattering on very slim people. I was aimming for comfortable wearing ease, and the size 10 turned out perfect. I made no adjustments.

2. This is a well drafted pattern. The paper the pieces are printed on is like a lightweight brown bag with a smooth, shiney backing. The directions, printed on heavyweight paper, are done in vintage graphics and hand illustrations.

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I must confess, I really only looked at the illustrations while sewing. I suspect that the written instructions are probably not quite adequate for a beginning seamstress. But I’m done nit picking pattern instructions, because I certainly wouldn’t want to write them and my hat’s off to anyone who does.

3. When wearing, there is a marked difference between the distance from the hem to the ground in the back and the front. It scoops up in the front and dips in the back. It could just be me, but I don’t completely think so. I did not engage my husband to mark the hem with my old fashion hem gauge, but I did a gradual trim before hemming, making the back 5/8″ shorter. I realize many people don’t notice or care when hems aren’t parallel to the floor, but it’s one of my pet peeves. I can thank my mother for that.

I really had no issues sewing up this dress. I can’t wait to wear it and honor those hard working women of the past!

What are your pattern buying habits? Are there patterns you have been eyeing, but cost is preventing you from buying? Do you have a price limit just on principle?

Thanks for reading my post! Cheers, Lori

The Mid-Summer Dress

I always sew for the season that we are actually in. I like the instant gratification of wearing my new make the next day. Here in inland So Cal, the weather will be warm until October, so I am still in the market for easy wearing summer dresses. I am sharing with you my new Fresh Make that will help get me through the dog days of summer.DSC_0187
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The pattern I used is Butterick 5456. I purchased this pattern at least a year ago at JoAnn’s during a pattern sale which means I paid less than $2 for it. The year on the envelope is 2010. I hope it’s still in print because I think it is a timeless, wearable pattern.

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The fabric I used was purchased online at Fabricworm originally for a Marianne Dress for Round Two of the Super Online Sewing Match. (I was eliminated after that round, but it but it was great fun while it lasted!) I ended up using some other fabric for the contest, so I still had this fabric on hand screaming at me to sew it up. The blue and white print is an organic cotton interlock knit by Charley Harper for Birch Fabrics. It was $13 per yard and 45″ wide. Honesty time: I don’t think I will purchase from this collection again. While the weight of the interlock was substantial and as expected, the blue ink stiffens the fabric and does not soften with a machine wash and dry. Also the ink application is a slightly uneven and blotchy in places. Fortunately, the green Birch Organic, Mod Basic Solid, is a completely different story. It is super soft and dreamy, and the touch of Lycra is genius for an interlock, a weave that can stretch out easily. It was $12.80 per yard and 60″ wide. This collection will definitely become a “go to” solid for me.

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The bodice is fully lined. It would have been optimal to use a thinner knit for the lining instead of the green interlock, but there was enough and I wanted to use what I had on hand. I used the method for a clean, machine armhole finish from the Moneta Dress by Colette.

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I think the keyhole back and tie add an interesting detail to a simple dress. And I really like that the opening is high enough that you can still wear a regular bra.

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I shirred the skirt with clear elastic, also a method from the Moneta Dress by Colette.

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After attaching the bottom band, I decided I didn’t like the way it hung as a single layer and futhermore did not want machine stitching at the bottom since there was no machine top stitching anywhere else. I went ahead and folded the band and “stitched-in-the-ditch.”

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LETS BE HONEST:

1. The pattern is labeled “Fast & Easy.” That it is. However, there is no differentiated instruction for knits which could cause frustration for someone who has not sewn on knits before. I basically glanced at the illustrations and used my own knit techniques as well as the two from the Moneta Dress mentioned above.

2. I cut out exactly between size 12 and 14, taking into consideration that knit ease should be less. I still misjudged and the bodice turned out a little big. The armholes are particularly large. Don’t get me wrong, I am still going to wear it! If I were to make it again, however, I would probably cut a size 10.

3. I like the double thickness of the bottom band, but proportionally I think the original width of the band looks better. So if I were to make the dress again I would cut a band of double width, fold and stitch-in-the-ditch again.

I really do like this dress. It was simple, no hassle sewing. And it is as comfortable as can be.

What about you? Do you sew a season ahead or squeeze in a few end-of-the-season makes?
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