Hudson Pants

Hudson Pants: The Perfect Athleisure Wear

You can sew knits without a serger. There are countless blog tutorials and YouTube videos detailing exactly how to do so. But OH MY GOD is it faster, easier, and so much more satisfying on a serger.

Brother Designio DZ1234 Serger
fresh outta the box

I’ve sewn so many knits over the past year that I knew it was time to bite the bullet and get a serger. And then Christmas rolled around, and my very generous parents gifted me this Brother Designio DZ1234 Serger (and this awesome The Complete Serger Handbook by Chris James!). I almost started crying. Thanks Mom and Dad!

brother Designio serger
sergin’ some scraps

I didn’t even open the box until well after holiday break, since I figured the thing might consume me. I was correct. It came prethreaded, so I pretty much started serging bits and bobs of scraps at will. So fast! So neat! So professional-looking! Full disclosure: I just flipped the machine on and started using the default stitch. I know there are plenty of stitches to explore, but I’m not kidding when I say that I went at this with reckless abandon. It seems intuitive enough, right? Hehe, hehe (*nervously looks around for whistleblowers*).

The Hudson Pants from True Bias seemed like a logical choice for my inaugural serged garment. I’ve made them twice already and absolutely love each pair. Kelli came out with this pattern well before I ever heard the term athleisure (thanks, Aria!), but I think it’s safe to say that the Hudson Pants fall squarely into this category. If you’re not familiar with the word athleisure, you’ve at least seen the trend out in the world. Think leggings as pants, cropped sweatshirts over tanks, floaty “yoga tops” that no one actually does yoga in but will gladly wear after yoga class. Preferably at bottomless mimosa brunch.

athleisure lululemon
athleisure in its natural habitat: Lululemon (photo: http://bit.ly/1JcxV2z)

Hate it or love it, athleisure isn’t going away. (Just ask Forbes.) I’ve decided to embrace it, even if only at home on the weekends or after a workout.

True Bias Hudson Pants

Here are the details for these Hudson Pants:

  • Fabric: stretch bamboo rayon jersey and an Art Gallery cotton jersey knit for the contrast
  • Same fit modifications as my printed Hudsons: 1). slashed and spread to add 1″ to the front and back crotch 2). added 3″ of length
  • Added a seam at the upper thigh because of fabric constraints
  • Smaller waistband because of fabric constraints
  • Omitted the buttonholes/drawstring

Hudson Pants

So… the color. I know. Kind of, very nude-looking. I didn’t buy this fabric (which is incredibly soft and comfy BTW) with the intention of sewing Hudson Pants. It was destined for a Christmas gift, but the color was just wrong for the Hemlock I wanted to make.

Hudson Pants

Enter these slightly obscene Hudson Pants. I’m going to spare you a butt shot for the sake of my own dignity. Strange fabric color aside, I love these pants and can’t recommend this pattern enough if you’re looking for some comfortable loungewear. Excuse me, ATHLEISURE WEAR.

Do you have any favorite athleisure patterns? My serger is looking for more work.

 

All Dressed Up in Anna with Nowhere to Go… Yet.

Purely. Gratuitous. Sewing. That’s what I did when I had the apartment to myself for a couple days over holiday break, and it felt amazing. Did I need to make this By Hand London Anna dress? Not quite.

by hand london anna dress

Sure, I’m considering using this pattern to sew a bridesmaid dress for a wedding in the fall, but that’s more than 10 months away. I did, however, really want a break from sewing Christmas gifts and practical clothes, and Anna turned out to be just what I needed to get my sewjo back. (Sorry not sorry for using that frankenword.)

by hand london anna dress

Construction was simple but time-consuming, since I opted to hand sew a lot of the finishes. Here’s how I finished the guts:

  • Blind slipstitched the armholes and leg slit
  • Catch stitched the hem
  • Pinked the facing and waist seam
  • French seamed the skirt panels and shoulder seams
by hand london anna dress finishing techniques
blind slipstitch on the leg slit
by hand london anna dress finishing techniques
catch-stitched hem and french seam on a skirt panel
by hand london anna dress finishing techniques
three-for-one: pinked! frenched! slipstitched!

Frenching the seams and hand-sewing the hems took quite a bit of patience, but I’m really pleased with the outcome. Plus it was nice to have something to do with my hands while binge-watching Making a Murderer.

anna dress bodice

As for fit, the bodice is pretty snug. I’m not sure if I lost some inches with lackadaisical french seaming, or if I could stand to go up a size. I cut a straight size 10 (I’m a 36 bust with broad shoulders), and I’ll probably go with that size when I sew this up for a for-real bridesmaid dress. Edit: I should note that this material has a bit of stretch, which definitely helps. I think it’s a poly charmeuse?… I honestly can’t remember, I picked it up for $5/yard from Vogue fabrics in Evanston.

by hand london anna dress back

I’ll generously call this a wearable muslin, although I’m not sure where I’ll wear it. I finished Anna in time to bring her to the Wisconsin Dells for New Year’s Eve, but my rational side won out and I left her at home. She might have been JUST SLIGHTLY out-of-place at the steak house we went to for NYE dinner.

It pains me to say it, since the floor length makes this dress pretty glam, but I might shorten her to wear in the spring and summer. I’m sure I’ll make up for the drama with the bridesmaid dress in the fall.

Have any of you made a bridesmaid or wedding dress? Tell me your secrets!

Flannel Archer Button Up

flannel archer button up grainline studio

It’s time for me to get back in the blog saddle. I recently started a new job, and I gave myself a little break for a few weeks to adjust. The gig’s been great thus far, but I’m still getting used to dressing like a real person (business casual, y’all!) and coming into the office five days in a row without feeling like a zombie.

My previous job offered Work from Home Wednesdays. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact that had on my energy levels. Doing work braless, in my pajamas once a week really did wonders for my well-being. But alas, that life is no more. I’m finally used my new schedule and workload, and that means more energy for blogging. :D

cruella
image: Veronz

I know Halloween has come and gone, but daggumit I worked hard on my costume and I want to share it. Here’s the outfit breakdown:

  • Fleece and faux fur coat: Vogue Very Easy pattern V 8930
  • Dress: single layer of V 8904, sewn twice before
  • Red gloves, cigarette holder, and wig: Amazon.com
  • Red pumps (not pictured): DSW
  • Earrings and necklace: sourced from my late grandma’s fantastic costume jewelry stash
  • Emerald ring: panic attack central AKA Forever 21

The gloves were slippery, the wig was a little itchy, and the coat was hot as hell at the indoor party I attended. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel like a badass the entire night. Being a glamorous Disney villain has its perks.

flannel archer button up

When it came time for a practical sewing project, I turned to the Archer Button Up from Grainline Studio. Last year, I sewed view B in a red chambray. This shirt is view A, a classic boyfriend-style button up, in a super-soft Robert Kaufman flannel from The Needle Shop in Chicago. I was very, very hungover when I took these pictures (like, “oh god why did I do this to myself never again” stupid hungover), so I apologize for my glazed-over eyes and general derpness.

flannel archer button up grainline studio

The sewing process was so much less intimidating this time around with one Archer under my belt. I don’t have a ton to say about construction, but I did fudge the collar a little bit. Instead of using Andrea’s collar tutorial like I did last time, I followed along with the pattern directions and referred to Jen’s sew along. Her video on how to attach the collar is helpful, but my collar stand ended up jutting out past the button band a little bit on one side. It’s not enough to be bothersome, so it’s staying as-is.

archer button up in flannel

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that I’m coming to accept little imperfections in my handmade work. Part of me wonders if I notice the mistakes more because I’m gaining experience. But, I could just be getting lazier. Either way, I have a wearable shirt at the end of the day. Right now, that’s good enough for me.

archer button up grainline studio
And this is why we press our hems

In case you’re interested in the boring details:

  • Size: Straight 8. My measurements are 36″-29″-38″ and I’m 6’0″ tall.
  • Alterations: Added 1.5″ to the sleeves and body (could’ve gone with just 1″ on the sleeves); used Jen’s alternate Archer pocket tutorial again.
  • Finishing: Used my machine’s overcast foot for a faux-serged look (this foot is AMAZING by the way); sewed faux flat-felled seams throughout.

It feels good to be back! Before I leave, did you all see Heather’s latest release over at Closet Case Files?

Clare-coat-sewing-pattern-funnel-collar
photo: closetcasefiles.com

The Clare Coat just pounced to the top of my queue. I know, I know, I did a whole post about which coat pattern I wanted to make and actually bought one from Burda. But this pattern just speaks to me. Now to source some wool and super-warm lining…

Have any patterns cut the line in your sewing queue?

Three Grainline Studio Lark Tees (and Halloween Costume Progress)

three grainline studio lark tees

It’s been churn and burn in my sewing world lately. I usually try to write a post fairly quickly after sewing something, but life’s been busy. Plus, lots of output means less time for blogging. But I’m here to remedy that today. Please forgive the garment and photo overload in this post! First up: the costume. Halloween is looming, and for once I’m not procrastinating. This year I’ll be dressing up as the most fabulous harpy to come out of the Disney empire:

disney style cruella de vil
Image from blogs.disney.com

Cruella de Vil. No, it’s not the most creative costume, but I’ve been itching to be Cruella for a few years now. I used Very Easy Vogue coat pattern V8930 to make the yellowish-cream “fur” coat. As in, I used banana-colored fleece for the body and faux fur for the facing/collar piece.

cruella de vil costume
I think I’m attempting “haughty” here. Also plz excuse the mess and graininess.

And, of course, the coat is lined in vivid red. I made a simple black dress using the base layer of V8904 (also sewn here and here), except I sewed a V-neckline. The shoes are Anne Klein pumps from DSW. I’ve gathered most of the other accessories (red gloves, cigarette holder, green earrings), and now I’ve just got to settle on a wig, maybe make a purse, and find a real or fake dalmatian puppy for my pocket. Are any of you attempting a DIY Halloween costume this year? Spill!

I’ve kept my sewing machine pretty warm with Halloween stuff lately, but I’ve also made some non-costume-related garments. When Grainline Studio launched the Lark Tee sewing pattern, I bought it immediately and planned a trip to Vogue Fabrics to get my hands on some knits. I didn’t hesitate to buy Lark because A). I don’t own a T-shirt pattern, B). Grainline’s drafting is generally spot on, and C). it’s infinitely customizable, with four neckline options (crew, scoop, V, and boat) and four sleeve options (long, 3/4, short, and cap).

For construction, I used a ballpoint needle, walking foot, and the lightning bolt stitch on my sewing machine. Each is a size 8. Here are the rest of the dirty details about my three Larks (and counting):

Long Sleeve with V-Neck

grainline studio lark tee olive

cuffs grainline studio lark tee

I didn’t have a twin needle handy when I finished the hem and sleeves of this shirt, and I kind of botched the sleeve hems with a regular zigzag stitch. Since I didn’t stabilize them with anything, they turned out wavy enough to be bothersome. Luckily, cutting the hems off and adding cuffs turned out to be a really simple fix. I’m a fan of cuffs on long sleeves, and I think I might treat all of my LS Larks this way!

lark tee long sleeves

v-neck lark tee grainline studio

I looooove the color of this fabric—a sturdy ponte knit from The Needle Shop in Chicago—but unfortunately it’s pilling like crazy after just three washes. I think I might start air-drying this bad boy to avoid any more damage. (It might also help if I stopped wearing jewelry with it :-P). As for the neckline, this was my first attempt at a V-neck. It’s not horrible, but it’s a little more rounded underneath the point than it should be. I fixed that with my second V-neck after reading Jen’s tutorial for the Lark sew along. Speaking of my second V-neck…

3/4 Sleeve with V-Neck

v-neck lark tee grainline studio

lark tee 3/4 sleeves grainline studio

I know it’s kind of hard to see the V-neck detailing on black, but the point of the V is much prettier on this version. I folded the neckband strip carefully to get a thin line of white at the edge, and I like how that turned out. The neckline is anchored down with a twin needle stitch (finally replaced my broken one!). I also used the twin needle to hem the sleeves and bottom.

lark tee 3/4 sleeves grainline studio

This fabric is probably the best knit I’ve ever bought. Its a bamboo-lycra blend from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. At $16/yard it’s pretty pricey, and I hesitated to purchase it at first. But I’m glad I went with my gut, since it’s washed and worn beautifully thus far and remains buttery soft to the touch.

Short Sleeve with Scoop Neck

short sleeve lark tee grainline studio

short sleeve lark tee grainline studio

This particular Lark Tee is a testament to how differently patterns can behave depending on the type of fabric you use. I can’t remember the exact content of this cotton-spandex blend from Vogue Fabrics, but it’s definitely more structured than the bamboo knit. I think I could’ve easily cut a size down for this, and I might go back and take in the sides if the fit starts to bother me. Again, I used a twin needle to anchor the neckline and finish the hems.

lark tee short sleeve grainline studio

The Verdict

This is a great basic T-shirt pattern to build your layering wardrobe. It seems like it runs a bit big, so definitely make a test version and go from there. I have pretty broad shoulders and a 36″ bust, and the 8 fits great around the chest. It falls into a looser shape around the hips, but that’s part of the design. I should also note that this thing is pretty long. I’m 6’0″ with a long torso, and I normally have to lengthen my shirt patterns (including other Grainline Studio patterns) by at least 1″. I didn’t lengthen these shirts at all, and they’re plenty long.

Have you made any Larks yet? What’s your verdict?

Bee’s Knees Cocktail | Guest Post from Sarah of Reviews for No One

bees knees gin cocktail

When you’re someone who enjoys a good cocktail, it’s nice having like-minded cocktail-loving friends. Who else can you geek out with about things like the best sweet vermouth for Manhattans or how to serve a delicious punch without killing severely intoxicating your guests? Sarah—who writes a great book-review blog over at Reviews for No One—is one of those friends. When she posted a delicious-looking gin cocktail on Instagram a few weeks ago, I immediately thought GIMME, and then figured it’d be a great candidate for the blog. She gamely agreed to write a guest post, and here we are. Take it away, Sarah!


It’s almost October, but in the Midwest that means we’re feeling the last wispy breezes of summer. So on a recent 80-degree day, I took it as a sign that it was time to make my favorite gin drink one last time before it’s full-blown sweater weather: the Bee’s Knees.

Technically, it’s not specifically a summer drink. It’s yet another classic Prohibition-era cocktail that went from the forgotten drink of flappers to working its way into almost every Logan Square (read: hipster) bar opening these days. It also happens to be one of the easiest drinks to whip up at home. But gin in general just screams SUMMER to me and with the punch of citrus in this drink, it has porch sippin’ written all over it.

I favor simple, straightforward cocktails—the fewer ingredients the better. And the Bee’s Knees is just that. It pairs the bright, botanical notes of gin with the tartness of lemon juice plus a little honey for sweetness. That’s it. Just three ingredients, two of which are probably already in your kitchen right now.

That means all you really need to worry about is what kind of gin to use.

st. george gins

My sister got me this sweet little three-pack of St. George gins for Christmas and I have had a fantastic time playing with them! St. George’s comes in Terroir, Botanivore, and Dry Rye. The Terroir is that classic juniper-forward flavor, while the Dry Rye is spicy and oaky (hot tip: sub it in for your whiskey in your next Manhattan—it’s fantastic!). But the perfectly balanced Botanivore won out in the end.

I followed the Washington Post recipe exactly. Some recipes call for equal amounts of lemon juice and honey syrup, but I found that to be too tart. So, per the Post‘s recipe, I used:

  • 2 oz. gin
  • ¾ oz. honey syrup
  • ½ oz. lemon juice

Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice, and then shake vigorously for 20 seconds or until the drink is chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and voilà!

bees knees gin cocktail in glass

“But,” you might say, “where do I get honey syrup?” Easy! It’s just like simple syrup—equal parts water and sugar—only you swap the sugar for honey. However, there’s no need to make some giant pot of the stuff just so you can stuff it in the fridge and forget about it.

Instead, pour about 1 tablespoon each of honey and water into a small bowl. Microwave for 10–15 seconds, and stir until thoroughly combined. Then you can pop the bowl with your single-serving sized bit of honey syrup straight into the freezer while you gather your ingredients and juice your lemon. A couple of minutes cools it off enough to stop it from affecting the flavor and temperature of the rest of your ingredients.


Aaaaand my mouth is watering. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

Author and photography: Sarah Gorr

018-Andy-etu

Pattern Crushes: Fall/Winter Coats Edition

I’m torn about planning a seasonal wardrobe. I tried it for the first time this past March, when I posted what I considered to be a reasonable spring/summer sewing plan. “I can finish this in a few months, easy!” Not so easy it turns out, especially when you live in Chicago, a city that kicks any other city’s ass during the summer. Those sweet, sweet months between May and August begot more frequent late nights, beach volleyball, and patio drinkin’—and quite a bit less sewing.

My seasonal sewing plan wasn’t a complete bust, though. Here’s how I fared:

spring and summer sewing plans skitched

Sleeveless Button Up: I finally blew out the elbow on my favorite pink Levi’s shirt, so I lopped off the sleeves, took in the sides a bit to compensate for the deeper armhole, and bound the raw armscye with self-made bias tape. Cheating? Possibly. But I’m all for upcycling, so this one’s still a win in my book.

Solid Knit Tee: I made a knit Scout with some super-stretchy blue knit from my stash, but the ribbing I used for the neck band turned out a little gapey. I still wear this T-shirt, but it will probably be replaced by the arsenal of Lark Tees I’m planning on making. One down, at least five to go.

Floral Shift Dress: Colette’s Laurel in a floral cotton did the trick.

Printed Shorts: Nope. Next year: Maritime shorts. I hope.

Full Skirt: How did I not make this one happen?! A daggum SKIRT???!! I’m embarrassed, y’alls.

Woven Straight-Leg Pants: You can’t say I didn’t try. Try, and fail somewhat miserably.

The overall outcome could’ve been worse, but I still don’t feel great about failing to meet my goal. This season, I’ve decided to play it by ear, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been ruminating. Let’s get real: people who sew also love to plan. I already bought some deep-red herringbone flannel for another Archer (view A this time), and I’m trying to drum up the courage to finally sew some Ginger Jeans.

But the number-one-must-absolutely-try-to-attempt item on my list is a winter coat. I know it’s early, but if I don’t get started soon it simply won’t get done. I’m not trying to make a coat to withstand the 0º F days of a Chicago winter; those days are for my Michelin-man Eddie Bauer down parka. I would, however, love to sew a heavyweight coat that’s not only warm enough to get me through most of the winter unscathed, but also cute enough that I’m not embarrassed to wear it in public.

I’ve been scouring the web for intermediate-level patterns (sometimes in vain), since the only coats I’ve sewn thus far are the Willy Wonka corduroy monstrosities that I made for Halloween last year. I’ve narrowed it down to the following patterns:

cascade duffel coat

Cascade Duffel Coat, Grainline Studio

Difficulty: advanced

Design details: slightly A-line toggle coat with optional hood

Pros: Made up in a nice wool, this would be insanely warm. And it’s got a hood!

Cons: It’s pretty sporty, and I find myself drawn to more feminine coats lately. I also already own a coat with toggles, albeit in a much lighter fabric.

018-Andy-etu

Andy Coat, Named Patterns

Difficulty: advanced

Design details: collarless belted coat with welt pockets and asymmetrical button stand

Pros: Who doesn’t love a good waist-cinching belt? And no collar means all the scarves.

Cons: No collar also means it runs the risk of looking homespun?

leanne marshall 1254

Simplicty 1254 by Leanne Marshall

Difficulty: easy (I’m skeptical)

Design details: fitted coat with an oversize collar that doubles as a hood

Pros: I love the look of the concealed zipper band and in-seam pockets.

Cons: That collar looks like it might swallow my head. Reviews note that the instructions are lacking, which might be a problem for me.

burda paneled coat

Paneled Coat #126, Burda

Difficulty: intermediate

Design details: fitted coat with panels, hidden pockets, and a lapel-free collar

Pros: The lines on this look modern and incredibly flattering. And, maybe it’s just the styling, but d-d-dayum this thing looks sexy for a winter coat.

Cons: While the neckline screams for a scarf, it might be a little too open to be practical for cold weather.

long wool coat burda

Long Wool Coat #104, Burda

Difficulty: intermediate

Design details: Long, semifitted coat with passants (shoulder straps) and one asymmetrical row of military-style buttons.

Pros: According to Burda, this coat is “the ideal accompaniment for a quiet walk.” Burda, go home, you’re drunk. But for reals, this coat looks polished and timeless.

Cons: I haven’t gone the military-style route before, and I’m a little afraid this will look too preppy on me.

There are several more jackets on my Sewing Pattern Crushes Pinterest board, but I find myself consistently navigating back to these five coats. Please comment if you’ve tried one of the patterns before!

I’m still pretty intimidated by the thought of making a heavy-duty garment like this, but I’m determined to give it a go. Have you ever sewn your own winter coat?