Welcome Fall 2015

Fall officially arrives this week and the perfect time to dive into Fall/Winter Fashion! We have been working for the last few weeks to put together all of the fabrics you need for your Handmade Fall Wardrobe.

I thought I’d share a bit more about our process for preparing for the new season, talk about some of the “Must Have” trends for fall and show a few of our Fall sewing projects in the works (the list is very long!). Over the coming weeks we will highlight more of the latest fashion trends and how they can be adapted to your own unique style. We might even show a few of our own interpretations…

The first step to getting ready for the new season in fashion is RESEARCH! I love Fall especially, not only because it is my favorite season, but because the fashion magazines pull out all the stops for their September issues. Over the past few weeks we have flipped through thousands (literally, thousands) of pages of high-end fashion tearing out images, sorting and putting together collections of the trends we see.

A few of our Fall Fashion Magazines!

A few of our Fall Fashion Magazines!

Then, we take a look at what we currently have available and how it falls into these latest trends. Our goal is to create wearable collections of Fall fabrics that fit in with the current looks but give you the flexibility to interpret them in your own way. We make sure each collection has a variety of weights, fabric types, etc so if you saw an amazing pair of plaid pants but you would rather have a skirt, there are options for you. Next, we fill in the gaps in our fabric selection- if there are categories missing or key items we want to have, we scour our sources across the country looking for just the right pieces.

Finally, we merchandise them on the site to make them both inspiring and easy to shop. We also link each trend to its own Pinterest board so that you can get a little bit more inspiration for your next projects.

Here are a few of the for sure “Must Have’s” this season.

#1 Shearling: This amazingly soft, dual-sided fabric can be used for everything from jackets and vests to handbags and other accessories! We saw this trend developing last fall, but this season it had really found its stride. The buttery, faux suede on one side and plush, shearling-like material on the other side, there is so much potential! Available in a wide range of colors and textures you can choose what fits best for you and your project. Be sure to check out some of the amazing garment ideas on our Pinterest Page Here and check out all of our shearlings and other amazing neutrals Here.

#2 Scholarly Chic: Tweeds, boucles, and plaids are here and ready to hit the books this fall. Think professor, librarian or simply geek chic! Mix and match them or pair them with some classic solids or textured suitings for a professional but modern look. Fashion has been trending toward looks of tailored strength and stability and these fabrics help bring that out in any number of garments. Try it in some oversized, wide-leg pants or “Chanel-style” jacket! Find more inspiration Here or shop the look Here.

#3 The Bow Blouse: While there has been much debate on what to call this particular style of blouse, it is all the rage this season. Perfect for shirting style fabrics or even a more drapey rayon challis, this style top is a great addition to any wardrobe this season. We have also imagined taking this trend and reinterpreted it into a stunning dress.  Again, so much potential! We are including this trend in a broader style we like to call “Polished Romantic,” soft but a bit structured at the same time. See other inspiration Here or shop this style online Here.

Last but not least- just a couple of projects we have been working on so far this fall. More in depth blog posts will be coming soon but here is a little sneak preview…

First, my take on the bow blouse, using Sewaholic’s Oakridge Blouse pattern in an amazing Japanese lawn. I love how it turned out and can’t wait to wear it this coming season.

Oakridge Bow Blouse in Japanese Lawn

Oakridge Bow Blouse in Japanese Lawn

Then, a shearling vest in a delicious caramel color shearling using BurdaStyle’s Lambskin Waistcoat pattern (#112). So soft, comfortable and surprisingly warm!

BurdaStyle Shearling Vest

BurdaStyle Shearling Vest

Hopefully this post gets those Fall Sewing juices flowing. Check back for lots more inspiration and tips in the coming weeks. Cheers to a great season of sewing!

~Michelle

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!

Marianne Dress

I’m back in the studio this week after visiting my best friend, Cora, for a long weekend, helping her get ready for her first child arriving any time now! She is hoping for Pi Day (3.14.15) but we will just have to wait and see. We worked on sewing diaper covers, made a couple of flannel blankets and got a few more things in place for when the “peanut” comes home. Baby stuff is just too cute!

Onesie decorating station set up on the kitchen island- stencils, markers, fabric and fusible!

Onesie decorating station set up on the kitchen island- stencils, markers, fabric and fusible!

While I was in town I also helpd throw Cora an adorable baby shower for all of her local friends. The nursery is Safari themed so I extended that to the shower as well. We ended up having about 16 people and had lots of fun. We decorated onesies as sort of a crafty project, played a few games and had an amazing brunch- complete with a yogurt parfait bar!

Yogurt Parfait Bar- complete with 9 different toppings. So Yummy!

Yogurt Parfait Bar- complete with 9 different toppings. So Yummy!

Before I left on my trip, I had this bright idea to make a safari dress out of an amazing vintage rayon challis we have in the store. But I was kind of fooling myself by thinking that it was spring already, which it isn’t! Instead I went with Christine Haynes latest pattern, the Marianne Dress, and made it in a much warmer, leopard print ponte knit.

Completed Marianne Dress in Leopard and Black Ponte Knits

Completed Marianne Dress in Leopard and Black Ponte Knits

This dress fits like a dream! I paired it with leggings and flats for a casual but put together look. The ponte knit gives the dress just enough structure that it smooths out any areas you may want a little extra support. My only change on this pattern would be the sleeves- for me they were just a tad tight and the cuff seam hits me right where my elbow beds. I think on my next Marianne Dress I might move that seam up or down just a little bit and maybe taper out the sleeve just about a 1/2 inch.

With the Mother-to-Be at her Safari Themed Baby Shower.

With the Mother-to-Be at her Safari Themed Baby Shower.

I was looking at Christine’s blog the other day as well and saw some pretty cool adaptations of this pattern that I can’t wait to try. Like an adorable top with 3/4 length sleeves or long sleeve- with or without cuffs. Or tape the patter pieces together and make the dress all out of one type of fabric instead of a main + contrast. So many great ideas! Can’t wait to get sewing my next version… I am thinking stripes, or maybe an interlock version from one of Anna Maria Horner’s amazing fabrics.

Overall, Christine’s Marianne Dress is a great pattern- the directions are so easy to follow and even a beginner can have a great fitting dress compete in an afternoon. I highly recommend this pattern and can’t wait to try one of her other vintage inspired patterns.

I’ll leave you with just one more picture from the shower- some of the cutest sugar cookies ever… Onesies and baby elephant in great pastel colors!

Shower Sugar Cookies- Onesies and Elephants

Shower Sugar Cookies- Onesies and Elephants

Straight Stitch Designs

Over the past week I have been working with an amazing group of women to test out a new pattern from Kimberly at Straight Stitch Designs. It has been so much fun to see how the pattern has developed over the past few days and how each person has made it their own. I especially loved seeing all of the great fabric choices!

My first experience with Kimberly’s patterns was a few weeks ago when I made her Ballard top– a great casual top with fun open back detail. This top went together very quickly one evening and it has become a great addition to my wardrobe. I used a bold rayon jersey that made this top super soft and comfortable while still being stylish and flattering.

Ballard Top in Graffiti Rayon Jersey

Ballard Top in Graffiti Rayon Jersey

This weekend I have been visiting a friend, helping her get everything ready before her baby arrives March, and this top was perfect for traveling! Paired with a black tank and some skinny jeans and I was set.

Open Back Ballad Top

Open Back Detail of the Ballad Top

The thing I love about Kimberly’s patterns is all of the variations and ideas that she includes. The Ballad top has so many great possibilities and I can’t wait to make another one. I think it would be a lot of fun to try it in all different weight knits- sweater knits, sweatshirt knits, other jersey knits, etc.

Now back to the project that I have been working on this week, Kimberly’s latest pattern, the Bellevue top. This top combines 2 amazing types of fabrics- a soft knit and a flowy woven. I love when I can pair these two together in the same garment, and this top is no exception!

Bellevue  Top

Bellevue Top

The Bellevue top is the perfect combination of style and comfort. It is fitted in just the right places and more relaxed in others making it a great go-to top in any handmade wardrobe. With two different neckline options and four sleeve lengths the possibilities are endless.

I used a great navy and white stripe jersey and paired it with a soft rayon challis, but you could have a lot fun pairing different prints and/or solids together or trying out different wovens (ex. lawn, silk or sheer). I had a little trouble getting my stripes to match perfectly but it still turned out great and I love how the rayon challis drapes! I think for my next Bellevue I will try doing a rolled hem on the light weight woven fabrics, rather than a traditional folded hem.

Bellevue Top in Jersey and Rayon Challis

Bellevue Top in Jersey and Rayon Challis

Check out Kimberly’s blog post with some of the other amazing Bellevue Tops made by her group of testers. She has also added a couple more of her own versions on her blog as well. Be sure to check out the Bellevue available now at Straight Stitch Designs.

~Michelle

Note: As a pattern tester for Straight Stitch Designs, I received a free copy of the Bellevue Top Pattern, but all of my options and observations are my own.

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