Two Pairs of Hudson Pants

true bias floral hudson pant sewing upscale sweatpants

I’m not the best at Pinterest. In fact, I stayed away from it entirely for awhile. Why is that inspirational fitness quote next to three pictures of buttery, gooey mac & cheese?! Is this some kind of SICK JOKE?! Even after jumping on the bandwagon last year, I’m still more likely to be checking out the latest Pinterest fails than pinning and liking a bunch of pictures. That said, Pinterest does have its practical uses, one of them being my Sewing Pattern Crushes board. It’s only eight pins deep thus far, but it’s already served as inspiration and a reminder about cool patterns that may have slipped my mind.

floral pant closeup

The Hudson Pant is one such pin. Kelli of True Bias released this pattern in June, and I’ve been crushing on it ever since. I was drawn toward the modern tapered cut, contrasting details, and the possibility that I could, hopefully, make a pair of sweatpants that aren’t floods! I bought the PDF pattern ($10), printed it out, taped it together, and got to work. First up: a straightforward pair of bright blue pants with gray details.

 

blue hudson pant

hudson blue pant side viewI added 4.5″ to the length of the pattern at the adjustment lines, since the directions state that these pants are designed for a 5’5″ woman with a 28″ inseam. As you can see above, the pants are a little droopy above the calf band, so I made a note to add less length for the next pair.

blue hudson pant closeup

Now to talk about something that all women deal with at some point in their lives: camel toe. Sorry to be blunt, but this is a common problem for folks with a longer-than-average rise. It’s not super obvious in the pictures (for modesty’s sake), but when my pants ride up onto my hips, which is an issue I have with every pair of elastic-waisted anything, the crotch definitely pulls a bit.

threads magazine pants fitting

To try and remedy this issue for my next pair of pants, I utilized the lengthening technique described by Threads magazine to add 1″ total to the torso of each pant leg, but I’ll get to that patterned pair in a minute. All-in-all, my first go at the Hudson Pant turned out to be precisely what I needed: a super comfortable pair of lounging pants. I’ve been wearing them around the apartment every day since I finished them, so I’d say they’re a success! Even in spite of the slightly wonky crotch.

floral pant head on closeupAnd speaking of a slightly wonky crotch, you can see that my abstract patterned pair didn’t fare 100% better, even with the 1″ crotch-length adjustment. I’m wondering if the Threads tutorial, which is designed for fitting jeans, just doesn’t translate to a knit fabric? Either way, round two of the Hudson Pant, in a pink and purple abstract knit from the Needle Shop, fits better than the first pair.

floral hudson pant looking

Instead of 4.5″ of length I added 3″, and I’m thrilled. They’re still plenty long enough without being overly slouchy. Throw in a cute pair of shoes and they go from casual to dressy-casual in a matter of seconds.

floral ankle band

The seat of these pants fits well, a pleasant surprise since most sweat-style pants give you immediate frump-butt unless you have the Ass of Beyoncé.

floral pant back

And there you have it! One pattern, two very different-looking pairs of knit pants. They’re both ridiculously comfy and are an easy sew if you have a long afternoon to kill.

This will most likely be the last piece I post about before summer officially ends, so stay tuned for a wrap-up of the Summer of PDF Sewing Patterns. How did your summer sewing shape up?

Paloma with Rosemary Simple Syrup

rosemary paloma tequila cocktail recipe

It’s just not time for “pumpkin” everything yet. I like Dunkin’ Donuts’ pumpkin-flavored coffee and Southern Tier’s Pumking beer as much as the next person, but we all know fall doesn’t technically start until September 23. Therefore, I’m milking this whole summer cocktail thing for another glorious 11 days.

If you like grapefruit cocktails, you’re probably familiar with the Paloma. The most simple versions mix grapefruit-flavored soda with tequila, served over ice. I recently made the drink with tequila and Q Grapefruit (think a much less sugary, more tart version of San Pellegrino soda), and it turned out pretty refreshing. To take it a step further, I used fresh grapefruit juice (white, in this case) and sweetened it with homemade rosemary simple syrup. I followed the Kitchn’s recipe for the SS, which pretty much involves bringing sugar, water, and rosemary sprigs to a boil, setting the mixture aside to cool, and straining it. It’s so easy, yet it elevates a homemade cocktail tenfold and makes your kitchen smell prettay, prettay delicious. Give it a try!

rosemary paloma cocktail recipe

Rosemary Paloma

  • 2 oz. blanco tequila
  • 3 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1–1.5 tablespoons rosemary simple syrup (recipe from the Kitchn)
  • Club soda
  • Coarse salt, lime wedge, and rosemary sprig for garnish

Moisten the rim of a highball glass with a lime wedge and twist it in coarse salt. Fill the glass with ice. In a shaker filled with ice, combine the tequila, grapefruit juice, and simple syrup. Shake until chilled and and pour into the highball glass. Top off with club soda, and garnish with a lime wedge and a rosemary sprig.

rosemary paloma tequila cocktail recipe

Cheers! And may we all enjoy this last week of summer without hearing the phrase “Pumpkin Spice Latte” 8,000 times.

Vogue 8904, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Stretchy Rayon

vogue 8904 marcy tilton shingle dress sewing

A lot of important decisions I make are determined by two distinct, opinionated voices in my head. I’d like to think of them as Ambitious-Bordering-on-Irrational Dani, and Calculated-Bordering-on-Boring Dani. This past week, their conversation involved sewing.

ABOI: Should I make a dress to wear to Bianca and Jon’s wedding?

CBOB: Absolutely not.

ABOI: But I never make formalwear—it’ll be fun!

CBOB: The wedding is five days away, dummy, and you haven’t even bought a pattern yet.

ABOI: It’s fiiiine. I’ll go to JoAnn and get a nice Vogue pattern and some fabric. Kill two birds with one stone.

CBOB: But what if it doesn’t turn out? You know you have dramatic tendencies when sewing under pressure.

ABOI: I’ll pick an “easy” pattern. I’m not worried about it.

CBOB: I’m worried about it. This is a bad idea.

ABOI: [Frolics off to catch the bus to JoAnn.]

CBOB: [Yelling:] Don’t expect me to calm you down when your needle breaks and gets lost in your sewing machine at midnight on Thursday!

ABOI: Can’t hear you! Too busy flipping through pages of designer dress patterns!

CBOB: [Still yelling:] Or when you realize that the pretty dusty-rose fabric you’re about to buy is a rayon-lycra blend that will make you consider throwing your sewing machine off the roof of your building!

ABOI: Oh stop being such a grouch. It’ll be a learning experience! Plus, I have other dresses to wear if this turns out to be a total disaster.

CBOB: I guess that’s true. Fine. Do it. But I’m not buying the Spanx.

ABOI: I already did.

vogue 8904 marcy tilton shingle dress sewing

And so, Ambitious-Bordering-on-Irrational won that round. While it’s important to self-edit when it comes to project ideas, especially when precious $$$z are involved, it’s also pretty liberating to follow your gut. I’m happy to say that this particular gamble turned out well enough that I didn’t have to outfit repeat. (Not that there’s anything wrong with outfit repeating.)

Here’s what I ended up with after sifting through three giant pattern books and the limited selection of knits at JoAnn:

vogue 8904 marcy tilton shingle dress

The Pattern

I normally avoid buying Vogue patterns when they’re not on sale for $5, but, being desperate, I made an exception for Vogue 8904. Several other bloggers who’ve made this dress have commented on its striking similarity to a layered column dress from Anthropologie. Years ago, I tried on a near-identical version of that column dress and fell madly in love. It was one of the most flattering, comfortable piece I’d ever worn, but I couldn’t justify the roughly $150 price tag. Sadly, I left it on the rack that day. Enter Vogue 8904, which not only fills the void of that layered column dress, but also offers a shorter option with sleeves for the fall/winter! I’ll definitely be trying view A (and maybe making one for a friend… eek!) at some point in the next few months.

vogue 8904 marcy tilton shingle dress

The Fabric

  • Dusty rose rayon-lycra blend with slub texturing
  • Difficulty to work with: !!@#$%^&*!!!!!
  • Cost: $17 (after using a 60% off coupon)

Ohhh, where to start with this one. I really should know better than to rely on the selection of knits at JoAnn, but I just didn’t have time to order anything online. I settled for a very pretty, very slippery rayon knit that turned out to be quite a doozy to lay out and cut. Using a rotary cutter helped, and that’s what I made sure to use to carefully cut the raw edge portion of the floating panels (“shingles”) that are sewn on top of the base layer. The base layer doesn’t have to be the same fabric as the shingles (mine was), but I assume it makes life easier if you use the same fabric or one with a very similar stretch/drape.

All I can say about sewing this material is thank god for my walking foot. Having the top and bottom layers feed through evenly was key to this material not ending up a puckered mess.

vogue 8904 marcy tilton shingle dress

The pattern deserves its “easy” difficulty, but it’s not a project that you can whip up in an afternoon. Marcy Tilton, the pattern’s designer, wrote an informative blog post that I highly recommend reading if you plan on trying this pattern out. It’s full of great tips and in-progress pictures.

The main pain points I had during construction were with the neckline and armhole binding. I’ve never bound a knit before, let alone a super-stretchy one, and the finished neckline and armholes ended up a little droopy where I didn’t stretch enough when attaching, and a little puckered where I stretched too much. I also decided to add some self-material stabilization since the dress was getting heavy. I folded a small strip of fabric attached it with two layers of topstitching, parallel to the already existing topstitching at the shoulder. Not sure if it was necessary, but I think it made the dress feel more stable.

vogue 8904 shoulder stabilizing

Oh, and in case you noticed the strange imperfection in the second-from-the-bottom front layer, that’s from where I ran out of fabric and had to piece two scraps together. (That’s what I get for buying the last of the fabric bolt and hoping that I wouldn’t need those extra two inches.)

I was pretty worried about the clinginess of the material, but the double-layer construction (and some microfiber shorts) helped to reduce most of the cling. That said, this dress is definitely cut to hug the figure. Marcy points out that you can sew it a size bigger if you want to reduce the bootylicious factor (in so many words).

Per usual, I lengthened the pattern at the waist by about 1″ to accommodate my long torso, and I think that was the correct amount, although I’m wondering if that added length is what made the middle back panel a little droopier than the rest.

vogue 8904 marcy tilton shingle dress sewing

Wrinkles = the sign of a fun evening

A raw-edge hem allowed for total freedom of movement.

vogue 8904 marcy tilton shingle dress

I’m happy to say that this dress held up pretty well during an amazing day that included a pre-wedding cocktail hour, ceremony, dinner, and reception full of sweaty dancing. The raw edges did start to run a little bit, and the material is already pilling under the armpits, but it pretty much felt like I was wearing fancy pajamas all evening. That’s really all a girl can ask for when it comes to formalwear. But a handsome date doesn’t hurt either.

Jon and Bianca's wedding

my date and the sexiest groomsman I know

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Mecoli! The outpouring of love shown at your wedding is a true testament to both of your characters. It was a beautiful day (not to mention a total blast) and made me proud to call myself your friend. Can’t wait to start sewing y’alls some baby clothes!!! ;)

Classic Cocktails: the Aviation

aviation cocktails of all colors

From left: Kitchen Riffs, PopSugar, iFanboy, Hungry AgainLiquor.com, Food52

Let’s talk about Aviations. Ever had one? The first time I came across the classic drink was at a work happy hour. My cocktail-loving friend ordered one, and it was beautiful—a pale sky blue so light it looked almost on white. The second one? Not so much. It was a violet that bordered on radioactive. At the time, I was amazed that the two cocktails could go by the same name, let alone taste remotely alike.

Crème de Violette is the ingredient that gives the the cocktail its blueish-purple hue, but it turns out that the liqueur isn’t necessarily required to make an Aviation. In fact, Harry Craddock omitted it when he published a version of the Aviation in the now-famous Savoy Cocktail Book (1930). Leave it out if you like, but I like my Aviations a little floral. And purply.

If you order an the drink out at a cocktail bar, there’s no telling whether it’ll be ghost white or Barney purple (hence the wide spectrum of hues above), unless you know the proportions that your bartender is using. After making a few of my own Aviations, it became clear that a little bit of Crème de Violette goes a long way. Sure, the sweet floral liqueur has a prominent flavor, but it’s the super saturated color that can turn a drink from pale blue to dark violet with just an extra eighth of an ounce.

aviation cocktail recipe with luxardo, gin, and creme de violette

I finally settled on a recipe I like, thanks in part to this video found on Gothamist, which instructs you to “wash the glass” with a dash of violet liqueur. That’s in contrast to most recipes, which call for all of the components to be shaken together.

Creme de violette aviation cocktail recipe

Crème de Violette before the other components are added

The building instructions from the Gothamist video and a slightly adapted version of the recipe from Aviation American Gin make for, in my opinion, a pretty tasty version of the Aviation. (Plus, it doesn’t look nuclear.)

Aviation

Adapted from Aviation American Gin

  • 1 teaspoon Crème de Violette
  • 1.5 oz. dry gin
  • 3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur

Add the Crème de Violette and swirl to coat the glass. In an ice-filled shaker, add the gin, lemon juice, and maraschino liqueur. Shake until chilled, and pour the contents into the glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or a lemon twist, whichever you prefer. I omitted the simple syrup that the original recipe calls for—the Luxardo maraschino is plenty sweet.

wpid-2014-08-20-13.58.18.jpg.jpeg

Cheers, and good luck! Because if you end up making this cocktail, it’s probably all you will crave for the next several months.

 

Grainline Scout Tee: Knit Madewell Variation

madewell scout tee grainline studio sewing

This top was a no brainer. I had a little over a yard of black ponte knit fabric left after making this simple half-circle skirt, and I’ve been crushing on Jen’s Madewell Scout variation since she posted the pattern and sewing tutorials this spring.

madewell scout tee variation sewing

The tutorial was easy to follow and well photographed, making for a relatively quick project, albeit finished over a couple days because of weekday time constraints. Sidenote: Kudos to anyone with the patience to start and finish a project during the workweek. Try as I might, I always end up finishing on a Saturday or Sunday and then promptly celebrating with several cold beverages.

The Madewell variation calls for three changes to the original Scout pattern:

  1. Raised neckline with a split opening
  2. Slightly curved bottom hem
  3. Longer sleeves with a fold

I had every intention of incorporating each change, but I was just shy of having enough fabric for the lengthened sleeves so I sewed those up like normal. Since I used a knit, this knit Scout tutorial also came in handy when it came to cutting the fabric, hemming, and cutting neckband binding.

I’ve gotten lots of wear out of my first Scout tee, but I have noticed a tiny bit of tightness across my back from armpit to armpit. One of my goals this year is to achieve a more perfect fit with my garments, so I wanted to make sure that I addressed the tight-back issue on this Scout. A Google search turned up this gem from Threads, and it goes into lengthy detail about how to adjust a pattern piece if you have a broad back (or a narrow back, but I have no clue what that looks like since the breadth of my upper ribs rivals that of most NFL linebackers).

threads magazine adjust a pattern for a broad back

I slashed the pattern and added about a half inch between the mid-shoulder to hem, as the Threads image shows. After that adjustment, I simply altered the neckline and hemline per Jen’s instructions and got to work.

grainline studio scout knit madewell tee

Creating the split front was surprisingly easy, just make sure to leave enough binding on either side of the V (Grainline’s tutorial pic here). I left too small an amount on one side and struggled to get a clean finish on the wrong side of the garment. I also wasn’t entirely sure how to hem the curved edges where they met, so I just tapered the standard half inch hem at those spots. Other than that, this came together like a dream and is amazingly comfy. I’m glad to have some solid black staples in my wardrobe now, but my print-hungry brain is dying for an insanely bold pattern.

grainline studio madewell scout tee

The Hudson Pant is next up on my docket, so stay tuned for some possibly wacky-printed track pants. Let me know in the comments if you’ve sewn these up yet and have any tips!

Knit Half-Circle Skirt

knit half-circle skirt

I tend to gravitate toward prints. There’s something about sewing with a colorful floral, geometric print, or even an ugly-sweater knit that makes me feel happy. Plus, if I’m going to invest planning, labor, and money into an article of clothing, I want it to be more vibrant than something I can buy off the rack. The one-of-a-kind factor is part of what makes this hobby so gratifying.

Unfortunately, this obsession with bold prints means that I haven’t sewed many everyday wardrobe staples. I’m a creature of habit, and this summer the habit has been wearing the same store-bought chambray skirt roughly twice a week. It’s comfy, it goes with nearly everything in my wardrobe, and it’s weighty enough to stand up against the ridiculous Chicago wind.  But I’ve put the poor thing through the ringer, so I figured it was high time to add another versatile skirt to my wardrobe.

half-circle skirt

I’ve already gone the bold-print quarter-circle skirt route, so this time I went for a half-circle in a black ponte knit from JoAnn. I used the trusty By Hand London app again for the waist radius and length measurements, but since I was working with a knit I also heeded iCandy’s tips about subtracting 2″ from the waist measurement before plugging it into the app. Keep in mind that the app adds in 5/8″ seam allowances.

screen shot by hand london app

By Band London app screen shot

I used a homemade twine compass to trace the waist radius and length, although that part was tricky since my tracing pencil kept dragging the knit fabric along with it. I ended up marking a series of dashes that I followed with my rotary cutter. Note to self: buy marking chalk! That’d probably be more friendly on a knit, right?

For the waistband, I followed iCandy’s suggested dimensions:

Length: waist measurement minus 2″ plus 1.25″ for seam allowance

Height: double your desired waistband height plus 1.25″ for seam allowance

knit half-circle skirt sewing

The step-by-step construction of this skirt is amazingly easy. I don’t have a serger, so I attached my machine’s walking foot, inserted a ballpoint needle, and used a zigzag stitch for the seams. After stitching the back seam, I attached the waistband per the directions of the straightforward iCandy tutorial. After clipping the excess seam allowance and ironing the waistband, I hemmed the bottom of the skirt with a roughly 1″ hem. This isn’t technically required since it’s a knit and won’t fray, but I like a clean finish.

half circle skirt sewing

And that’s about it! It’s really a sewing 101 project, and an especially good one if you’re looking to break into the world of knits. I didn’t add a zipper since the material is stretchy enough to get on and off (gently) over my head, but I might try another version with a short zipper and see which is more comfortable. I’m a little afraid this material will stretch out over time, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world since that would just mean the skirt would sit a little lower.

It’s not an earth-shattering make, but it’s comfy, it fits great, and it cost under $7 total. Not too shabby for a new wardrobe staple. I’ve already paired it with my Colette Sorbetto crop top (pictured) and a tucked-in tee, and both are comfy.

What’s your most versatile piece of self-made clothing?

Portside Travel Set Dopp Kit (and the Little Pouch)

 

 

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

I must subconsciously wish I was left-handed. Of the many silly mistakes I made when crafting this dopp kit, I sewed on two zippers the “wrong” way. With the dopp kit, I cared enough to get my seam ripper out, but the pouch didn’t get such special treatment. That little guy will forever open the left-handed way, or the “right” way for 10% of the population and 71% of current and former presidents for the past 40 years.

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

My right-handed self found sewing this dopp kit to be a little trickier than anticipated. That might be due to my accessory-sewing rustiness; I haven’t sewn anything but apparel since I made an easy button wallet more than a year ago. Or maybe I was so excited to work on this Grainline pattern that I went at it a little too hastily. The truth is, this pattern took two days of prep before I even sat down at the sewing machine.

Because the Portside Travel Set includes three pieces (a duffel bag, dopp kit, and pouch), the PDF pattern pieces took awhile to tape together and cut. I reserved the next evening for cutting everything out and applying the fusible interfacing. And on the third night, she collapsed in a pile of the sewing-room (aka office/closet) floor, her hand hanging limp in an empty Mexican take-out container. That’s partially true. But really, on the third day I got to work whipping up the dopp kit.

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

Fabrics: Robert Kaufman red floral cotton for the self fabric, J. Crew gray linen-cotton blend for the contrast, and HeatnBond medium fusible interfacing

I love the Marimekko-like floral print, and it’s a decent enough weight for a bag. The gray contrasting fabric, however, is a little too lightweight for my liking, plus it wrinkles super easily. Next time I’ll use heavier duty fabric, or try interlining the bag with sew-in interfacing (like the pattern recommends if you’re looking for a heftier feel).

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

I won’t go into supreme detail on every step of the sewing, but here is a list of things I’ll keep in mind for next time:

Transfer all of the pattern notches on the actual fabric. I somehow failed to do this for every piece, and when it came to sewing the rounded edges of the top and sides, it was a little hairy. I think that’s why my bag is slightly misshapen.

When sewing multiple layers, pin properly! I thought I was done when I noticed a raw edge peeking out on the front of the kit:

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

Not a good feeling, especially when you’ve just finished hand-sewing the lining into place and have to rip out yet another set of stitches.

Don’t forget to topstitch the strap. In my late-night sewing delirium, I misplaced the strap I’d already sewn together and topstitched. After a fruitless 5-minute search, I sewed another strap. No big deal, except that when I attached it to the dopp kit, I forgot to topstitch the damned thing! This is what happened when I tried to machine topstitch when it was already sewn on the bag:

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

Yeah… I immediately ripped those stitches out and now the strap is less structured than I’d like, but at least it’s not looking superjanky.

portside dopp kit

Double-check the cutting layout. I ended up short one piece when it came to Step 25, which calls for a “self front piece” when creating the pocket. I’m still not sure where the problem stems from. (Scratches head.)

And that’s the gist of it. My dopp kitt, though a little floppy, is already growing on me. Oh, and the pouch! Pretty straightforward zipper pouch, although it’s even floppier than my dopp kitt because it didn’t call for any interfacing or lining.

sewing portside pouch by grainline studio

It doesn’t really need it though, especially if you buy a heavier fabric and are planning on using it like me: to hold only crisp, new $2 bills. Just don’t forget to sew the zipper on the right way, y’alls!

And now for some gratuitous shots:

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

Toiletries… and a mysterious sumo wrestler.

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

Whip stitchin’

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

looks friendly enough…

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

… but there’s something devious about those eyes!

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

Thanks for modeling, thumb-wrestling sumo man. Now I know why you have a constant look of angered surprise on your face.

Next up: the Portside duffel bag?