toaster sweater 2 mustard

Toaster Sweater #2

Almost two years ago, I made my first Toaster Sweater #1 by Sew House Seven. I even braved the cold and snow for some photos! After seeing about a million cute versions of the Toaster Sweater #2, I decided I needed to try it out. I was not, however, as brave with the cold this time, so… thus begins the season of questionably lit indoor photos!

toaster sweater 2 knit DIY

The Details

Pattern: Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater #2
Size: Medium (I’m 6′ tall and 36″-29.5″-40″)
Alterations: Added 1″ of length to body and 1″ to the sleeves
Fabric: Telio poly-spandex rib knit
Construction: Serger for side and arm seams*; regular sewing machine with ballpoint needle for the neck facing and hem

sewhousesevendirections

*The instructions direct you to stop serging at the large notch and continue the seam with a straight stitch down to the vent dot as indicated. This was a little odd, as you can’t backstitch on a serger. I ended up trailing off the serge a bit before the notch, and sewed a straight stitch farther up the side seam to keep the seam allowance uniform. It’s kind of hard to explain, so I’m including a shameful ugly innards picture to illustrate. #JudgmentFreeZone

innards toaster sweater 2
Optional instructions suggest serging the side vent before finishing everything, but I would skip that step next time since this is a thick knit that won’t unravel.

The Verdict

I love it! Not only is this top comfortable and really easy to wear, but it’s also got some surprising design details. The split hem, which is 1″ longer in the back, features mitered corners for a polished finish, and the funnel neck adds some visual interest.

toaster sweater 2 DIY

toaster sweater 2 close up

The one thing that feels slightly off is the funnel neck facing. The neckline seems to bunch a bit at the collarbone on almost all of the versions I’ve seen floating around the internet, and the same is true for mine. It seems like blindstitching the facing down might be the best bet according to Meg, but it doesn’t bother me enough to try (and I think the stitching might look wonky on this fabric).

toaster sweater vent

What I’ll Do Differently Next Time

  • Consider adding another inch (making 2″ total) to the body. I like the semi-cropped look, but I think longer-torsoed ladies like myself could benefit from extra length, especially if you pair this with a mid- or regular-rise pant. I should mention that the sleeve length feels perfect for me after adding 1″ to the pattern.
  • Buy a new twin needle! My twin needle broke a couple months ago and I haven’t gotten around to buying another one, so I hemmed this with a zigzag stitch. It gets the job done, but I prefer the polished look of the twin needle finish.
  • Forego serging the vent edges.

toaster sweater 2 back

toaster sweater 2 mustard

Sewn up in a thick knit, this sweater definitely lives up to its name as it’s TOASTY warm for the winter. I highly recommend this pattern if you’re in the market for a comfy sweater with a little bit of a twist.

Bonus pic: My Toaster Sweater in the wild on a coffee date with my girl Veronica—thanks for the gram!

View this post on Instagram

I just love her.

A post shared by veronica: (@veronicawitteman) on

alder shirtdress

Finally, I Made an Alder Shirtdress

Sewing this dress was a comedy of errors on my part. A series of unfortunate events. A big ol’ bag of brain farts.

alder shirtdress grainline studio

That said, it turned out great! I absolutely love wearing it despite my handful of mistakes. You can read about those later, but for now, let’s dive in!

grainline alder

The Details

Pattern: View B of the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio. I sewed a size 8.

Fabric: Rifle Paper Co. Tapestry 100% cotton from Oak Fabrics. I used the Natural colorway for the majority of the dress and Midnight for the collar stand and inner yoke. (P.S. The gold bits sparkle in the light! Props to my mom for picking it out at the fabric store.)

Alterations: Added 1″ at the waist and 2″ to the hem. I ended up taking in the side seams by about 1/2″ total, tapering to nothing at the underarm. I also added inseam pockets using this Colette tutorial.

Construction: Regular sewing machine for all seams and topstitching; serger to finish all seams.

alder shirtdress 2

alder shirt dress grainline

grainline alder front

alder collar

alder shirtdress cappucino

The Brain Farts

I’d like to preface by saying that I could have avoided all of these mistakes by paying a little more attention when cutting my fabric—and especially by sewing a damn muslin. But I convinced myself that I didn’t have time for that! So here we are:

  1. Left is right and right is left. As in, I cut the wrong right front and left front, so my shirt buttons in the “men’s” style: left over right instead of right over left. Apart from being a little awkward since it’s the opposite of my norm, not a big deal.
  2. I’m 99% sure I printed off the collar stand at a smaller scale, because it came up a little short on either side when compared to the sew-along photos and illustrations! I had to re-print the collar stand at a coffee shop when I couldn’t find it in my pile of pattern pieces, and I have to assume I didn’t double-check the scale when printing. Oops! Guess I won’t be buttoning it up to the top.
  3. I snipped a hole, albeit a small one, into the right front bodice when clipping the bias binding. I covered this mistake by flipping the bias binding to the right side.
  4. I tried to fix the back armhole/yoke gaping by easing in the armholes a bit after reading this tutorial. Unfortunately, this meant seam-ripping the aforementioned binding. It was all very fiddly and added a lot of stress to an already small seam allowance. The adjustment made a small difference, but I’m not sure it was worth the time. Live and learn!

alder dress gs

alder back grainline

alder brooklyn
This is how Marc prefers to pose for photos

The Verdict

Aside from some gaping at the back armholes, I LOVE the fit of this dress. I’m glad I took it in a tiny bit at the sides to give me a little more shape. I might tweak the location of the button across my bust after wearing this a few times, as you can definitely get a view of my bra if you’re sitting in the right spot.

It did me well in the sweltering heat of NYC for not one, but TWO days. My flight was canceled so I got a bonus day (not complaining!). Zero shame in outfit repeating with this Alder. I can’t believe it took me this long to make one!

allie olson coram dress pattern review

Coram Dress in Rayon

Who knew a woven dress could be so comfortable?! My new Coram Dress, designed by Allie Olson, is a complete joy to wear. Of course, it helps when the design has ease for days, and when you sew it up in buttery-soft rayon.

coram top and dress line drawings

Per the pattern description, Coram is “a boxy woven top or dress with cuffed raglan sleeves and shoulder and bust darts for shaping.” I’ve never sewn a woven dress with raglan sleeves, so I was thrilled to give this pattern a spin to help celebrate #CoramWeek and the launch of the paper Coram pattern!

Let’s dive in.

coram dress pattern review

The Details

  • Pattern: Coram Top and Dress by Allie Olson.
  • Size: 6. My measurements are 36-29-38, so I fall between sizes 6 and 8. Allie mentioned that this pattern is designed with a ton of ease, so I decided to size down to a 6.
  • Fabric: Art Gallery 100% rayon from the IndieFolk collection, purchased at Oak Fabrics in Chicago.
  • Pattern alterations: Added 2″ of length total, 1″ at each lengthen/shorten line. I’m 6’0″ tall with a long torso, so this is a pretty standard addition for me. For reference, the pattern is designed for someone who’s 5’6″.

allie olson coram dress

coram dress close

Construction

  • I used my regular sewing machine for all construction, except for finishing the seams of the shoulder darts. Those went for a very short trip through my serger.
  • I took the pattern instructions’ suggestion and flat-felled all the seams. If you have the time and energy, I highly encourage you to finish your seams this way. Pretty innards are so worth the time upfront!
  • I sewed the optional 1/2″ waist tie to add some shaping. I might also try this with a braided leather belt from my closet at some point.

coram dress binding

coram dress belt

Tips

  • Cut the neckband a little longer than the pattern piece, and for the love of god BASTE IT ON FIRST like the instructions suggest. I’m not sure if my final neckband ended up shorter or longer than the pattern piece, but when I first basted it on, it was gaping quite a bit at one of the shoulders and center back. I shortened it based on look and feel, and now it lies flat.
  • Double-check the placement of the bust darts before you sew them. Mine turned out a little low (but not so low that I could be bothered to rip them out and re-sew).
  • Spray starch and an iron are your friends when handling shifty fabric! (Thanks for the tip, By Hand London.) I made my own spray starch using this tutorial from Bren Did.

coram dress hem

allie olson coram dress review

My Favorite Design Elements

The shoulder darts add elegant shaping, and the sleeve cuffs are simple but surprisingly cute!

coram dress without belt

coram dress flat felled

The Verdict

Coram is a breezy dress that’s easy to wear and relatively pain-free to sew. Just take your time with the neckband and hem!

It’s a great pattern to showcase a large- or small-scale print. I’m even considering doing a kooky color-blocked shirt in the vein of this sweatshirt.

And that’s it, folks! What say you? Would you wear this style?


Indiesew provided the Coram Top and Dress pattern free of charge. All opinions are my own.

true bias nikko dress side

Nikko Dress

Some of my handmade clothes are total workhorses. An Archer that I wear once a week in the winter. Jeans that replaced a worn-to-shreds pair of Levis. My go-to house sweats.

true bias nikko dress striped

true bias nikko dress

true bias nikko dress close

This dress is not a workhorse. I made Nikko as a birthday present to myself so I’d have something to wear to my annual house party. And I love it. Sometimes, you’ve gotta make a dress that makes you feel like a badass, even if you know it’ll spend more time in your closet than on your body.

Read More »

grainline studio tamarack front

Grainline Tamarack Jacket

When I first started blogging about my clothes (in 2013!), I’d try to get a post up pretty soon after I snipped the last thread. That often meant snapping ill-lit photos in a dirty mirror, using my phone’s timer to take poorly composed photos inside my apartment, or nicely asking Marc to snap a couple pics on the way to dinner. (The latter always yielded the best results.)

The point? I cared less about quality and more about showing my makes to the world as soon as humanly possible. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I blog about a sewing project within a month or two of finishing. Sure, I give sneak peeks on Instagram, but something (freezing Chicago weather, work, social life, laziness) usually gets in the way.Read More »

wedding guest outfits

My Handmade Wedding Guest Outfits, Ranked

One of my favorite things to make? A party dress. Even better when that party celebrates the nuptials of good friends or family! But for all the hours I’ve put into sewing wedding guest dresses over the past few years, I have a pitiful amount of photo evidence to show for it. I’m usually too busy passing out programs or introducing myself to extended family or warming up with some Robyn or—you know—generally enjoying the company of others to bother with photos.

I did manage to document, however poorly, at least one photo of each of the wedding guest outfits I’ve sewn—some of which I’ve worn multiple times! And because I like rankings and lists, I decided to rank them based on three criteria:

  1. Sewing Enjoyment. Was it a breeze, or did it nearly go in the garbage disposal?
  2. Comfort. Was it secret pajamas, or secret sandpaper?
  3. Confidence Level. Did it make me feel fierce, or fiercely boring?

Read More »

gorton's fisherman and rainbow fish

Happy Halloween from Rainbow Fish!

rainbow fish

Who here was obsessed with the book Rainbow Fish growing up? I absolutely loved it. What little kid doesn’t like adorable sea creatures and pretty shiny things? I believe the moral of the story is that it’s good to share with your friends…? Sure, why not. What really stuck with me? The image of that goofy little fish and his beautiful silver scales.

I struggled this year coming up with Halloween costume ideas. Then I remembered how much Marc looks like the Gorton’s Fisherman. I thought maybe I’d go as a fish stick, but then realized I could easily be mistaken for a Twinkie or a mozzarella stick or a worm.

So Gorton turned vegetarian for the night and took Rainbow Fish as his date to the party.Read More »

Flint Pants, Meet the Flint Pants!

I could not get the Flintstones theme song out of my head when sewing these pants. I’m sorry if this song gets stuck in your head, too, because we all know earworms spread like the common cold. I could talk earworms all day—good ones (thanks Queen), bad ones (eff you Styx)—but we’re here to talk pants.

Specifically about these high-waisted, wide-leg, cropped Flint Pants by Megan Nielsen Patterns.

megan nielsen flint pants sewing pattern
Flint Pants
Read More »