Another Archer Button Up

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When it ain’t broke, why not color block it?!

OR

When it ain’t broke, why not accidentally make a bowling shirt?!

Yes, I think this kind of resembles a bowling shirt. Or something that Zack would wear to seduce Kelly in Saved by the Bell. I did grow up in the ’90s after all.

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Inspired by Grainline Studio’s post about color blocking, I sewed this Archer Button Up with some aptly named light blue and deep blue shirting from Denver Fabrics. It’s my third Archer, and I’m officially declaring this a tried-and-true pattern. I love the boyfriend fit and even the butt ruffle on view B, although this time I opted again for the classic view A, as I was already adding some interest with the kooky color blocking. (Check out that second link for my sizing and modifications.)

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The side angles don’t match up perfectly, but I didn’t care enough to re-cut the pieces. I’d originally planned to do the whole sleeve in deep blue but ran out of fabric, hence the sleeves that look like they’ve been dip-dyed in bleach. I like ’em.

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I finished all the seams with my new serger, which is like a child—one minute it’s acting like an angel and the next it’s throwing a damn hissy fit. I think we just need some more time to bond. I don’t understand its moods or what it likes to eat—yet. (If you’re wondering, I’m having the same problem as the person in this thread, entitled “I’m going to throw my serger out the window.” There are some good tips in there that I haven’t had the time or patience to try yet. I’ll report back on our relationship soon.)

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Anywho, the light blue is much lighter weight than the dark blue, so I pressed those seam allowances toward the darker fabric so they wouldn’t show through (a little tip from Grainline’s tutorial).

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The only thing I might go back and amend is the pocket. I like having just one instead of two (made using the alternate Archer pocket tutorial because I lurrrrve it). I texted a grainy picture of this shirt to my mom the night I made it and she suggested adding some sort of patch/crest to the pocket.

UPDATE: I just googled my last name and apparently we are all Gryffindors?!?! Obviously I am going to find a family crest patch and iron/sew that on. Problem solved.

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Some lovely anti-Rahm graffiti near the Kinzie Industrial Corridor. Happy spring from Chicago!

Do you ever sew extras/accoutrements onto your stuff?

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. 😀

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?

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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.

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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

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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?

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.

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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?

A Very Wearable Morris Blazer Muslin

morris blazer grainline studio

The Morris Blazer was an impulse buy. It went something like this: 1). Jen announced the Morris Blazer on the Grainline Studio blog on April 21. 2). By 10:30 a.m. that day, I’d already purchased and printed out the PDF. Don’t get me wrong: I would’ve eventually bought the pattern anyway. But in the instant-gratification world of PDF sewing patterns, I generally try to read other folks’ reviews and determine how much I’d wear it before clicking purchase. It’s for my bank account. (And my social life. And my sanity.)

morris blazer
Grainline Studio’s Morris Blazer sample

That tactic fell by the wayside this time, though, since I was a total goner when I set eyes on Morris. I own two blazers, back from the time when my 9–5 occasionally required it. Those Banana Republic jackets do the trick when I need to look professional, but they scream STUFFY. Morris, on the other hand, has a modern, cropped cut, and it’s designed for stretch wovens—cha-ching! I ordered some natural-colored stretch twill at $3.50/yard from Fabric.com with every intention of making a muslin as soon as I got the fabric.

morris blazer grainline studio

Fast-forward four months later, and I finally got to work on it. Apparently the dog days of summer are when I decide it’s appropriate to sew a blazer. The humidity must be slowly killing what’s left of my rational brain cells. Anywho, here’s the nitty gritty:

morris blazer grainline studio

Morris Blazer

  • Size: 8
  • Modifications: added 2″ to the body and 1.5″ to the sleeves at the lengthen/shorten lines
  • Fabric: medium-heavyweight stretch cotton twill with 10% stretch across the grain and great recovery (I think it’s got about 2% Lycra, though it’s not available on Fabric.com anymore so I’m not certain)
  • Interfacing: Omitted (GASPGASPGASP). Since this was supposed to be a quick muslin, I didn’t bother running out to buy the necessary tricot fusible interfacing. Luckily, the fabric is weighty enough that it doesn’t look too droopy or stretched out along the hems—yet. I’m hoping it won’t bag out, but only time will tell.
  • Construction: I followed the pattern directions and referred to Jen’s sew along. That was especially helpful when attaching the facing, since that step was a little confusing to me in the pattern directions.
  • Finishing: I used a zig-zag stitch to finish all the inner seams, but then I decided that Hong Kong seams would look baller on the back and side seams. I luuuuurve them. The bias strips are self-made using some leftover floral cotton.
honk kong seams grainline studio morris blazer
*my precious* during the construction process

I wore this blazer (in air conditioning) all night and it was supremely comfortable. I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to make it, since summer is “almost over” and only now did I decide to sew an off-white blazer. Instead of wallowing in poor-timing sorrow, I’ll leave you with two questions (and a dumb photo shoot outtake):

80s ladies
“Imma try a sassy one”
  1. Have you ever tried the Hong Kong seam finish?
  2. Is the whole No White After Labor Day thing an evil, evil lie?

Split-Hem Linden

linden sweatshirt view B grainline studio

I’m a sucker for stripes. Breton, mariner, rugby, those effortlessly cool black-and-white “French” stripes—my closet has ’em all. But this stripe, this perfectly hued olive-and-cream french terry from Girl Charlee has won me over. Sure, the french-terry loops shed A LOT, but the top side is weighty yet soft to the touch. And those colors! So fresh and crisp next to each other.

In the words of George Costanza, I would drape myself in this french terry if it were socially acceptable. And I might just be able to do that, since this particular fabric is sold in 72″ widths. Hopefully the leftovers will become a pair of Hudson Pants (or Hudson shorts).

split-hem linden sweatshirt grainline studio
Somewhat successful attempt at stripe-matching

The first garment birthed from this wonder-fabric is view B of the Linden Sweatshirt. This is the fourth Linden I’ve made (some for me, some for my girlfriends), so obviously I dig the pattern. I cut out a 4 rather than an 8, since my first sweatshirt is pretty roomy. I forgot to add extra length on top of the 1″ I’d originally lengthened the pattern, so view B was looking reaaaaal short. Luckily Jen of Grainline Studio recently published a tutorial on how to make a split-hem Linden—perfect timing as I’d been drooling over some gorgeous split hems on RTW shirts and needed to add some length to my shirt.

linden sweatshirt view B grainline studio split hem

I’ve never sewn a split hem before, but this one was really easy. Instead of creating one circular band, you sew the ends of each band shut, pin them to the front and back, and then sew them on as if they were one continuous band. For extra security, I backtacked a few times at the connection spot. I took a gamble by cutting the bands vertically, and I’m really happy with the overall look.

linden sweatshirt view B grainline studio split hem
FUZZIES

With my first Linden, I made the mistake of trying to use self sweatshirt fabric for the neckband. What. A. Disaster. It didn’t stretch nearly as much as it needed to, resulting in me cutting it off and replacing it with a much stretchier jersey from my stash. This time, I used some olive green cotton-modal-lycra fabric leftover from a skirt I made this past winter, and the neckband went in with nary a hitch. I used a twin needle to anchor the neckband and finish the sleeves.

In classic Dani fashion (as my bf likes to say), I splashed orange soup onto my shirt the first night I wore it out. Nothing a little Zout can’t fix, tho! What’s the point of sewing clothes for yourself if you can’t be a slob in them, amirite!?