An Autumn Morris Blazer

Have you ever found the perfect fabric and had it just scream what to make with it?

Grainline Studio’s Morris Blazer has been on my “Make List” since its release earlier this year. On a recent fabric buying trip, I found an incredible wool knit that I instantly pictured as the most stunning Morris Blazer. A flash of inspiration, no questions asked. It was a no brainer to not only buy the fabric for the store, but also get to work on this “dream project.” (To learn more about the fabric at the bottom of this post)

I didn’t want to just cut into this precious houndstooth wool knit for a pattern that I had never made. I decided to make another version of the Morris Blazer using a grey knit from my stash to check the fit, length etc. Get all the bugs out before I cut into the “good” stuff!

I made this first version as given in the pattern, size 8. It fit perfectly, but was far too short for the cozy wool blazer I had envisioned for my fall/winter wardrobe. Based on the fit of my test Morris, I decided to lengthen the body by 3 inches and the sleeves by 6 inches. I used the handy lines that Jen included on each pattern piece making the lengthening process so simple. The sleeve did prove a bit more challenging- I had to do a bit of tapering, nothing too difficult.

Lengthening the Morris Pattern Pieces

Lengthening the Morris Pattern Pieces

Now it was time to cut! I got my pieces laid out just how I wanted them. My goal was to have the finished result be about half solid grey, half houndstooth. In laying out the pieces I noticed that those lengthening lines I drew on the pieces proved very helpful in matching up the pattern. On all of the body pieces and front facing, the “lines” were in the exact same place. I just had to line them up along the straight lines in the pattern. So helpful! The line on the sleeves was bit offset from the rest, so I did a bit of adjusting so that all of the pattern would line up across the blazer.

Laying Out the Morris Pieces- Ready to Cut

Laying Out the Morris Pieces- Ready to Cut

I had a slight heart attack before I made that first cut, but then I was all in! As I cut each piece I draped them over my dress for just to make sure it was all going according to plan. Once everything was cut out I couldn’t wait to get sewing! Since I had just made my test Morris, the second one went together really quickly. The unique wool knit that I used also made it so I didn’t have to finish my seams. I pressed all of the body seams open to help everything lay nice and flat and I did serge the arm holes- it seemed to really help finish them off. Other than that, everything went together just as described in the pattern. I love that Jen has such great tutorials on her website– I looked at it both times when attaching the facing to make sure I got it right.

Now for the RESULTS!

Finished Wool Morris Blazer

Finished Wool Morris Blazer

I am absolutely in love with how this Morris Blazer turned out. It is just how I had envisioned it and it seems like this fabric was made for this pattern. I am quite proud of my pattern matching- that is something that I still am working on and I always doubt whether I am doing it right. I also found the perfect necklace in my closet so that makes everything even better!

Finished Morris Blazer- View from the Back

Finished Morris Blazer- View from the Back- Check out that Center Back Seam!

The Morris Blazer pattern is another home run from Grainline Studio– I know everything is going to fit perfectly and there is always so much potential for fabric choices and reinterpretations. I think her Linden Sweatshirt and the new Tamarack Jacket will soon be hitting the cutting table!

About the Fabric

This houndstooth ombre wool knit is unlike anything I have seen. It is light weight and definitely a knit- you can see the stockinette stitch from the back side. It has also been felted, giving it a super soft almost fuzzy hand. Such an incredible piece and a dream to work with! Available now in the shop HERE.

Polished Romantic and the Bow Blouse

One of my favorite trends this season is this beautiful combination of tailored fit and feminine style- kind of a reinterpretation of menswear with softy, flowy edges. I like to call it “Polished Romantic,” sophisticated and classy but still elegant or even delicate.

This amazing contrast is created through not only the cut and styling of a garment but also the texture and color of the fabrics. Take a fitted jacket- crop the length and use a soft boucle or wool for a wonderful feminine touch. Or a tailored blouse- widen the sleeves or add a few pleats and use a flowy silk or rayon for some added drape and softness. It is all about balancing the structure with grace and beauty.

The staple piece of this “look” for me is the “bow blouse”. There has been a lot of discussion this season about what to call this type of top- secretary blouse, CEO bow and the Thatcher collar (in honor of Prime Minister Margret Thatcher who wore the look quite often) but I find myself just going back to simple but effective “Bow Blouse”. Let me know if you have any other great name ideas!

I set out to find a pattern to make my own bow blouse for this season. I weighed a few options but I ended up choosing the Oakridge Blouse from Sewaholic Patterns. I have been an admirer of their patterns for a long time but for some reason just haven’t gotten around to making one yet… I love the relaxed look of the neckline on their version of the bow blouse- not so rigid and formal but still very feminine and professional looking. I also liked the flared waist/hips- another more girly addition to a men’s button-up. Added bonus- the pattern comes with multiple options for this top, with or without the bow neck, so there is a lot of versatility there.

Oakridge Blouse by Sewaholic Patterns

Oakridge Blouse by Sewaholic Patterns

For my fabric choice, I chose a beautiful Japanese shirting in a rich fall floral pattern and color way. I just love this fabric and thought it would pair nicely with the styling of this shirt. The Japanese shirtings that we have in the shop remind me of Liberty of London lawns but at a fraction of the cost- same silky finish, beautiful hand and amazing to sew with!

Finished Oakridge Blouse

Completed Oakridge Bow Blouse in Japanese Shirting

My Oakridge Blouse came together pretty quickly and without any major issues. I just have a couple minor changes that I will note of future versions.

1) On the button plackets and cuffs, I would only interface half of the pattern piece instead of the whole thing as directed. The button placket, in particular, ended up being quite stiff. Just a minor change that will likely make a considerable difference.

2) Sleeve fit issues- they were a bit tight especially through the bicep and elbow. That is two recent makes that I have had this problem. It is just something for my fit that I need to be more aware of- especially if I am not going to make a muslin (a sin, I know). I was able to widen the seam a bit to make my blouse more comfortable and will alter the pattern piece for next time.

Oakridge Bow Neckline

Finished Oakridge Blouse- Closer Look at Bow Neckline

The finished Oakridge Blouse turned out just as I had envisioned it! Feminine but tailored and with the soft bow front. I am not normally a bow person, but I love how this turned out and the subtleness of the look. Perfect to layer under a cardigan or jacket and I am thinking about pairing it with some great wide leg trousers. Although I do love it with my Jamie Skinny Jeans and some cute booties as well!

Here are a couple there bow blouse patterns that I have marked for future reference. If the Oakridge Blouse isn’t quite your style maybe one of these is. I love how you can take a trend that appeals to you, such as the “Polished Romantic” look, and re-imagine it to fit your style. Whether it is finding the right pattern or using a different type of fabric you can make a main stream trend entirely your own!

Other Pattern Links:

Fran Tie Shirt from Name Clothing– Love this for a more sophisticated look. Less feminine in style but makes up for it in the fabrics choice!

Washi Expansion Pack from Made by Rae– Taking the Washi Dress to a whole new level- 3 amazing new variation on her popular Washi Dress pattern

Tie Neck Blouse from BurdaStyle– Check out this as well! A whole collection of bow-style tops. They must be popular or something…

Big Love for the Beatrix Top

We are heading into the final months of summer here in the Pacific Northwest and I have been working on some new additions to my wardrobe for this transition into Fall. It is still quite warm here, but my hope for these new items is that they will easily transition into the cooler weather with an added layer or two.

The first of these new makes that I wanted to share is my Beatrix top designed by Made by Rae. We just got in a few of the amazing Loominous yarn dyed shirtings by Anna Maria Horner and I couldn’t resist using one of them for this structured but comfortable shirt! The Big Love plaid ended up being the perfect choice- I love the color, the feel and especially the giant scale of the pattern.

Beatrix Front

Finished Beatrix top in Loominous Big Love Shirting

To start, I took Rae’s advice and made a muslin of the pattern to check the fit. For this pattern I was mostly worried about the fit in the shoulders and sleeves. My muslin showed me that the shoulders fit great but the sleeves were a bit tight- I almost felt like I could pop a seam if I bent my elbow. A slight adjustment (widened by about 3/4″ on either side) and I was off and running to make my finished garment.

Making a Slight Adjustment to the Sleeve Fit

Making a Slight Adjustment to the Sleeve Fit

Due to the scale of this plaid, it was pretty easy to get all my stripes to match up nicely. I also paid close attention to where the color in this unique yarn dyed fabric was going to fall. I wanted to maximize color and impact and I think the result is fantastic. The construction of this top is beautifully done and simple to sew. The lined neckline with under-stitching, especially, gives it such a professional, finished look.

Beatrix Side View

Maximizing Color and Pattern using a Large Scale Plaid

My favorite detail of this top is the back… I love the button up closure. I chose some coral-red buttons to finish off the look- they pop just enough so that you notice them but aren’t too flashy.

Beatrix Back

Love Matching Plaids and Button Accents!

Inspired by Rae’s beautiful versions of her Beatrix top and the jewelry she paired with them, I went in search of the perfect accessory to go with my own top. I happened to have the perfect chunky necklace hanging in my closet! It was almost like I made the top to got with the necklace- Don’t you love it when that happens!

Beatrix Detail

Perfectly paired Beatrix top and Jewelry

Overall, I think my Beatrix top it the perfect addition to my late-summer wardrobe. Add a cardigan and it will carry on through Fall. Then, it might be time for a new version in flannel shirting… What do you think?

Sew Serendipity: Rhiannon Shirt

I find myself always going back to a few staple items in my closet. I’m sure this is true for most of us! As I sew more and more of my own clothes, I have been trying to figure out what make those few my “go-to” favorites. My goal is for everything I make to become a closet staple- Otherwise what is the point, right?

So far I have decided that comfort rules all. I live in jeans and then dress them up or down depending on what I am doing. I’m trying to break this addiction but that is a subject for another time. Paired with my jeans, I like soft, comfy tops with kind of a casual style- not tightly fitted but not too loose either. Something casual but fashionable at the same time- then I can accessorize with jewelry and a great pair of shoes (my other addiction!).

Rhiannon Top from Serendipity Studios

Rhiannon Top from Serendipity Studios

At the Spring Quilt Market I got to chatting with Kay Whitt from Serendipity Studios. I have long been an admirer of her books and pattern and it was great to talk with her again. She shared with me some of her newest patterns, along with some of her favorites. After comparing notes of favorite fabrics we like to sew with and styles we are drawn toward, Kay graciously offered me a copy of her Rhiannon Shirt pattern, released last October. I couldn’t wait to get home and sew it up. Seeing Kay’s beautiful samples in her booth totally inspired me and just knew this would be the my next handmade, closet staple!

Finished Rhiannon Shirt in Rayon Challis

Finished Rhiannon Shirt in Rayon Challis

And boy, was I right! For summer, I chose a beautiful rayon challis- black with multi-colored dots. Before cutting into my fabric, I did make up a sample out of cotton muslin first just to check the length and fit- since my 5′ 9″ frame is a bit different than 5′ 4″ woman the pattern was designed for. It turned out being perfect, no alterations needed! The best part about this top is that you adjust the gathered neckline to fit you just right. You actually put the top on and pull the gathers in place, spreading them out where you want them to fall. Genius!

Attaching Jersey Bias to the Gathered Neckline

Attaching Jersey Bias to the Gathered Neckline

The only deviation from the pattern I took was on the neckline. The pattern calls for you to make some bias tape from your fabric and use that to finished the gathered neckline. I took a shortcut and used some black jersey bias tape instead. This saved me the step of making the bias tape and also gave me a really soft finished edge. As I attached the jersey bias I gave it a slight stretch just to make sure the whole neckline would lie nice and flat. I would highly recommend this “short cut”.

Finished  Gathered Neckline with Jersey Bias Tape

Finished Gathered Neckline with Jersey Bias Tape

Since finishing my Rhiannon Top, I have worn it just about as often as I can. It is so light weight and comfortable for the warm weather we have been having this summer. I love the casual feel with a more sophisticated look- best of both worlds. Mission Accomplished: I have a new closet staple and am already planning other versions to make. Maybe long sleeves for Fall/Winter?

Love my finished Rhiannon Top!

Love my finished Rhiannon Top!

Be sure to check out Kay’s other great patterns, she has a something for all styles and multiple variations in every pattern. Visit Serendipity Studio Website HERE.

Note: Serendipity Studio provided me with a complementary copy of the Rhiannon Top. All of the ideas and comments in this post are my own and were not influenced in any way. This was not a sponsored post- I am just a fan and wanted to share my experience with others.

Gathered Back Top: Zipper Tutorial

A couple of months ago while attending the annual Spring Quilt Market I got a sneak peak at all of the amazing new patterns coming out from Indygo Junction. One that particularly caught my eye was the Gathered Back Top and Tunic Pattern. I love the simple design with the fun element of the gathering across the center back.

Indygo Junction Gathered Back Top Pattern

I was able to get my hands on one of these new patterns as soon as they were ready (Thank you Betsy, blogger at Indygo Junction!) and immediately got planning my own version. After reading through the directions and taking a look at the pattern pieces I knew just what I wanted to do- add a zipper to the back. This pattern has kind of an ingenious construction, with the unique back pieces and center back seam. This makes it perfect for adding a fun, accent zipper- no additional cutting required.

Gathered Back Top in Double Gauze with Zipper Accent

Gathered Back Top in Double Gauze with Zipper Accent

For my fabric I chose this beautiful double gauze from Cotton & Steel. I love the color combination and the irregular stripes- although this does present quite a challenge when attempting to match up the pieces.

First, I cut out both of my back pieces, taking care to make them as symmetrical as I could. Double gauze can ravel quite a bit so I made sure and finished the center seam edges with my serger- this seam will be pressed open so finish the edges now rather than later. If you don’t have a serger, a large zig-zag stitch with work great.

Finished Edges on Top Back Pieces

Finished Edges on Top Back Pieces

I also pressed the seam allowances in place, WST, on both sides of the top portion at the center back. With the help of one of my favorite tools, Clover’s Hot Hemmer, I was able to get that 5/8″ seam pressed in a snap- both accurately and without burning my fingers.

Pressing Center Back Seam Allowance

Pressing Center Back Seam Allowance

Next, I took my lace accent zipper and got ready to add it along the freshly pressed seam allowance. At first I had a hard time trying to match up the edge of the zipper with the folded edge of the fabric and actually catch all the layers when stitching. Rather than fight it, I unfolded the pressed seam allowance and used the fold as a guide for my zipper placement. This made attaching the zipper halves to each side much easier.

Attaching the Zipper

Attaching the Zipper

Once the zipper was attached I just folded the seam allowance back out of the way and pressed well. Just a couple of other notes- I put the top of the zipper right up to the neckline. For the bottom, I stopped it about an inch or so from the bottom of the fabric- above the horizontal cut. Don’t forget to stitch the seam allowance together below the zipper. I also back stitched across the bottom of the zipper just for extra security.

Once your zipper is in place you can continue on with the pattern directions for creating the back gather and stitching the assembled back to the front. Below is what my completed top back looked like complete with accent zipper.

Right and Wrong Sides of the Finished Back

Right and Wrong Sides of the Finished Back

After assembling the body of my top I tried it on for fit. The front was gaping a bit at the neckline so I created a little tuck/pleat right at the center front. It actually created a nice detail while also helping my fit. Once I was satisfied with the neckline I attached the facing bias as directed in the pattern. At the center back opening (at the zipper) I just folded the end of the bias in to finish it off but still leave the zipper opening functional.

Attaching the Neckline bias facing and finishing the edge at the zipper.

Attaching the Neckline facing and finishing the edge at the zipper.

I finished the top as directed in the pattern and love how it turned out. The double gauze gives it a bit more structure than other fabrics would. Paired with my Jamie Jeans this is the perfect summer top for here in the Pacific Northwest.

My Finished Gathered Back Top

My Finished Gathered Back Top

I’d like to try it again in a drapey fabric like a rayon challis for a different look. That in a tunic length paired with leggings would be amazing! I also really want to try this top in a knit, but I will save that for another blog post… Check out some of our amazing summer fabrics, perfect for the gathered back top, in our shop HERE.

This pattern was a lot of fun to make and can be completed in a couple of evenings. The lovely ladies at Indygo Junction have been a pleasure to work with and I would highly encourage you to check out their other beautiful garment and accessory patterns! They are always coming out with fresh looks for seamstresses of all levels.

Last but not least… Indygo Junction sent me an extra copy of the Gathered Back Top and Tunic Pattern. Leave a comment on this post- tell us what you are sewing up this summer. We will randomly select a winner Monday, July 27th. (Update: 7/28/15. Congratulations goes to Karen Smith, our winner for this Giveaway)

~Michelle

Note: Indygo Junction provided us with two free copies of the Gathered Back Top and Tunic Pattern, one to sew with and one to giveaway. All of the ideas and comments in this post are our own and were not influenced in any way. This was not a sponsored post- it is something we put together for our readers and anyone else interested.

Jamie Jeans and Denim Blues

This Spring/Summer DENIM has been everywhere in fashion- all different shades, weights and types. I have loved seeing all different styles and combinations, and as a devoted jean lover, it doesn’t hurt my feelings at all to have an extra excuse to wear mine everyday. Here are a few of my favorite denim looks that I have put together on one of our Pinterest boards (P.S. Are you following along with us?)

Denim Fashion Inspirtaion

Denim Fashion Inspiration

It only makes sense that jeans have been trending among sewists as well. My Instagram feed has been filled with so many amazing versions of handmade jeans I couldn’t help but be inspired to make my own. While I have been anxious to make both Closet Case Files’ Ginger Jeans and Named Clothing’s Jamie Jeans, I decided to tackle the Jamie Jeans first.

Named Clothing Jamie Jeans Pattern

Named Clothing Jamie Jeans Pattern

With the help of the beautifully written pattern directions and the great Sewalong put together by IndieSew, I completed my very first pair of handmade jeans in a couple of afternoons. I used our Super Stretchy 8.6 oz Indigo Denim from Robert Kaufman Fabrics and paired it with a matching chambray for the pockets. I also decided to use a denim blue jeans thread so that the accent stitching blended in a bit more. At the time I was hoping to hide any potential mistakes but in the end I really like the softer look it gives as well.

Completed Pair of Jamie Jeans- First pair of handmade jeans!

Completed Pair of Jamie Jeans- First pair of handmade jeans!

A couple of notes I discovered in making my Jamie Jeans. First, I followed IndieSew’s recommendation to baste all of the pieces together to check the fit. I was very fortunate in that when I pulled my basted, skinny jeans on for the first time they fit like a glove! I didn’t have to make a single change (crazy I know!). But I would have been so upset if I had taken the time to finish every seam and add all the details and have them not fit. While it added an extra hour or so of sewing time- it is well worth the price for great fitting jeans.

Great fit on my Jamie Jeans.

Great fit on my Jamie Jeans.

Second, once I got my Jamie Jeans all sewn together I noticed a bit of gaping at the fly- when I would sit or whatever the fly flap would open a bit exposing the zipper. I figured out that at the bottom of the zipper there was very little “flap” covering it so any little stretch exposed the zipper. To help prevent this from happening I back stitched across the flap and the zipper about 3/4″ up from the bottom. That helped take the overlap from only about 1/8″ to a little more than a 1/4″ and losing that little bit of length in the fly opening didn’t make any difference.

Last, I decided not to add the belt loops. Since my Jamie Jeans fit so nicely I don’t see myself ever wearing a belt with them (I’m not really a fan of belts to begin with). I did cut the strips used to make the looks and stashed them in my sewing drawer just in case I change my mind after wearing them for a while. So far I have only missed the loops when pulling my jeans on, but that is a bad habit I need to break anyway!

Love the front detailing on Named Clothing's Jamie Jeans Pattern

Love the front detailing on Named Clothing’s Jamie Jeans Pattern

Overall- I love my new pair of handmade jeans and I wear them just about every chance I get. I am already dreaming of future pairs and maybe some variations on them as well. Check out this amazing stretch printed denim… can’t you just picture them as a new pair of skinny jeans for fall! I also have Closet Case Files’ Ginger Jeans waiting in the wings for another pair. Now that I have made one pair of jeans there is no stopping me now!

Darling Ranges Dress goes Safari

I have been a huge admirer of Megan Nielsen’s patterns for quite a while, especially her Darling Ranges dress. I’d see all the amazing versions posted on Instagram and fall even more in love. Now, I am happy to say that I have finished my very own Darling Ranges dress!

Darling Ranges dress pattern from Megan Nielsen

Darling Ranges dress pattern from Megan Nielsen

Last summer, when I first started buying fabrics for Style Maker, I found two incredible, vintage, rayon challis prints that I just couldn’t pass up! Bold, graphic, single border prints that are just so unique, Who could say no? Plus, the gathered skirt and length of the Darling Ranges dress makes it the perfect pattern to show of these amazing, wide borders.

Vintage Rayon Challis Prints. Right: Safari Left: Moulin Rouge Scene

Vintage Rayon Challis Prints. Right: Safari Animals and Left: “Moulin Rouge”-esque Scene

I had originally planned to sew up my Safari version of Megan’s pattern for fall last year. But with everything else going on (ie: launching a new business), it just didn’t happen. I put it on the back burner for the coming Spring/Summer.

This spring, my Darling Ranges dress became a priority project and it was definitely worth the wait! Along the way I made a few changes to the pattern to make it my own and show off my fabric choice even more. The biggest change I made was making the front skirt ONE piece, rather than two pieces, and NOT continuing the buttons to the hemline. I was worried about either 1) not having the border print match at the center front and it looking strange or 2) wasting a lot more fabric and time to get it to match just right.

Finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress with Full Skirt

Finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress with Full Skirt

Rather than give myself a headache- I used the front skirt pattern piece, folded back the excess needed for making the button placket and cut it on the fold. An easy change and I love how it turned out- uninterrupted safari animals.

Just a couple of other slight changes I made are: lengthening the sleeves to make them 3/4 length instead of elbow and lengthening the skirt to just above the knee. The length actually ended up being a happy accident- I knew I wanted to lengthen it but I didn’t know how much. I guessed as I was initially cutting out the skirt- with the border any changes would need to be done from the opposite side. You wouldn’t want to loose any of your beautiful border!

Just one more tip that I wanted to share, my secrets to perfect gathers. First, there is this handy product called Fuse ‘N Gather. It is pre-stitched, iron-on tape that gives you perfect gathers with out the hassle of having to do all those basting stitches. Just iron it to the edge of your fabric, pull the two durable strings and away you go! I always have this stuff on hand and hardly ever do any gathering without it.

Using Fuse 'N Gather- Gathering Tape to attach the skirt to the bodice.

Using Fuse ‘N Gather- Gathering Tape to attach the skirt to the bodice.

My other tip to even gathers is PIN, PIN, PIN. I find that if I pin both the fabric being gathered and the fabric I am stitching it to at each quarter point (ie: the middle and half way between the middle on either side) I know that my gathers will be nicely spaced. Just match up the corresponding pins and spread the gathers out evenly between them. No more areas with extra gathering and other areas with hardly any.

Loving my finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress!

Loving my finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress!

I love how this dress turned out- it is just how I had envisioned it! Originally, I planned to wear it belted and skip the ties in the back, but after trying a few different styles of belts I just couldn’t get the look I wanted. I added the ties in the back and it fits and looks perfect. The ties really finish it off and give it a nice relaxed but fitted look.

Alternate View of the Safari Darling Ranges Dress

Alternate View of the Safari Darling Ranges Dress

The vintage rayon challis drapes so nicely and feels just as amazing on. This dress is definitely a keeper and the pattern is one that I will revisit again in the future- so many possibilities. Thank you Megan!

~Michelle

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