My pledge for Me-Made-May ’15: wear whatever the heck I want!

Me Made May 15

Breaking news: I’ve decided to join in the fun and participate in Me-Made-May ’15!  It took me a while to decide if I was going to pledge or not, mostly because I really dislike any rules or deadlines imposed on my sewing.  I find that sewing-related obligations suck all the fun right out of my hobby, and who wants that?  So, I’ve decided to make my pledge flexible and not hold myself to any strict rules.  In fact, I’m going to do exactly what I did last year, which worked out really well for me.  I had a lot of fun, wore a lot of my handmade garments, and didn’t feel any pressure!

Here’s my pledge:

I, Carolyn, of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15.  I endeavor to be mindful of my handmade wardrobe each day for the duration of May 2015.

And here are my guidelines (not rules!):

  • Write down what I wear each day, including all handmade garments and accessories.
  • Consciously think about wearing at least one handmade garment each day.  I will ask myself each morning, “What handmade items can I wear today?”
  • If I don’t feel like wearing anything handmade, I won’t force myself.
  • As the month goes on, I will try to wear handmade garments that haven’t been worn earlier in the month.

That’s it!  Not too bad, right?  I think I can live with this for a month.  :)

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Floral voile Archer – finished!

Floral voile Archer - finished

Today I’m excited to finally share my finished Floral voile Archer!  I sewed this up a few weeks ago but had to delay the photo shoot while I recovered from a slew of various aliments, but thankfully I’m (almost) all better and have a new shirt to model for you.  :)  It’s no secret that the Archer is one of my favorite patterns, and this is the 6th one that I’ve added to my wardrobe.  This one is made in a blue and white printed voile that I think is perfectly light and breezy for the summer, topped off with some striped details on the collar and cuffs.  Simply put, I love it!

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Lily Sage & Co patterns!

Lily Sage & Co

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not the type of sewist who snaps up the latest indie patterns as soon as they’re released.  In fact, I hardly ever buy any patterns at all, mostly due to my limited sewing time, limited disposable income, and very specific tastes in clothing from both stylistic and functional standpoints.

BUT.  I am thrilled to see that Debbie of Lily Sage & Co has started releasing women’s sewing patterns.  Debbie is hands down my style icon, and I am a huge fan of her work.  She has a very unique, fresh, and modern aesthetic, and she isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of traditional fashion and come up with some really exciting and — dare I say it — thoughtprovoking garments.  And let’s face it, she has a killer body and can pull off just about any garment you can imagine.  Go Debbie!

She just released her first women’s sewing pattern, the Sea Change top, which you can check out in her store.  There’s even a discount code for the next 7 days.  She also has a girl’s dress pattern, the Twirl to Me dress, that she released a few weeks ago.  I absolutely cannot wait to see what she comes up with next, and I’m looking forward to building my own fabulous Debbie-inspired wardrobe.  Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly be a bigger Debbie fangirl, she goes and starts releasing her original designs.  Ahhhh!

For the record, Debbie isn’t paying me to say any of this, and in fact, she has no idea that I’m writing this post at all.  I’m not affiliated with her or her pattern company in any way.  I’m just a huge fangirl and want to share the love.  :)

In conclusion, I’m absolutely thrilled to see such a fresh, modern aesthetic injected into the realm of indie sewing patterns, and I wish Debbie the best of luck in her new endeavor.  Hooray!

Chambray racerback peplum tank (almost done)

Chambray racerback peplum tank - front

There’s something about a quick sewing project that’s really uplifting.  My life outside of sewing has been extremely stressful lately, and I find that diving head first into a satisfying sewing project can be a very healing, restorative process.  I’m sure you can relate.  I whipped up this tank during a day off from work today (a mental health day in the truest form), and I’m quite delighted with the result.  I’d say it’s *almost* done at this point, just lacking a little piece of flair.

This top is self-drafted from my bodice sloper, and I used the modifications I had made for my self-drafted maxi dress that I never got around to sewing in real fabric.  Essentially I took the sloper and added a racerback, deepened the armholes, and added a deep V-neckline.  For the peplum, I simply chopped off the maxi skirt and left the top ~8 inches, adding a slight shirttail hem.

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Do you finish raw edges before pre-washing?

Finishing edges before pre-washing 1

When I first started sewing a few years ago, I read somewhere that you should always finish the raw edges of new fabric before tossing it in the wash.  Of course, I totally ignored this and proceeded to deal with the huge tangles of thread that would form in the washer and strangle, mangle, and distort my precious fabric.  WHY I ignored this very simple piece of advice is beyond me.  What can I say?  I’m hopelessly stubborn!

Finishing edges before pre-washing 2

About six months ago, I finally decided to give this whole “finishing the edges” thing a try.  I used a wide and long zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to wrap up the edges of my wovens, tying the ends in knots to secure them.  Once I got my serger, I switched to serging the edges but continue to knot the ends.

And you know what?  IT WORKS BEAUTIFULLY.  Who knew??  :)  No longer do I have to get out my scissors and surgically remove the huge knots of thread from my freshly washed fabrics, nor do I have to worry about the threads wrapping so tightly around the fabric in the wash that they actually hinder the washing process.  It only takes a few minutes to zip the raw edges through the serger, and I save myself so much drama and aggravation.  I am shaking my head at my former, stubborn self.  :)

New fabric from Gather Here sidewalk saleThe fabrics you’re seeing are newly purchased from the semi-annual sidewalk sale at Gather Here, my local fabric shop.  There’s something about a good sale that completely annihilates my usual discerning shopping habits – it’s quite amazing, actually!  I surprise myself with the fabric choices I make when price is no longer an issue.  Behold: I totally strayed from my color palette and bought a bunch of cheery springtime prints.  The 4 on the left are cotton voiles and quilting cottons, and the deep print on the right is one of the new Art Gallery rayons.  I’ve never worked with this rayon and am excited to give it a try.  I’m picturing loose tops and floaty skirts for all 5 fabrics.  Yay!

In other news, I have a finished floral Archer to show you, but due to various maladies that I’ve been dealing with this week, I’m not quite photoshoot-ready.  Suffice it to say that this week hasn’t been the greatest, but at least I have a pretty new pile of fabric to enjoy, pre-washed and free of knots and tangles.  :)

So tell me, do you finish the raw edges of your new fabrics before pre-washing, or do you happily deal with the thread tangles?

Floral voile Archer: sneak peeks

Floral Archer in progress - under collar

I think shirtmaking is my absolute favorite type of sewing.  I find so much peace and satisfaction in all the precision and details, and I love the endless possibilities for customization.  Also, there’s nothing like wearing a crisp button-down shirt, especially one that’s light and airy on a warm summer day.  I suspect this shirt will get a lot of wear once the weather warms up, and I can almost feel the warm breeze of the harbor on my face…. almost.  It’s still snowing around here.  :)

Floral Archer in progress - sleeve placket

This weekend I indulged in some super-slow sewing — my favorite way to sew.  Tower plackets, collars and collar stands, grosgrain ribbon along the button band.  Lots of precision topstitching.  A handful of pointy corners.  Does it get any better than this?

Floral Archer in progress - collar

The combination of this floral voile and striped shirting is divine, and I’ve been enjoying the feel of the light and soft fabrics against my fingertips.  I tried to minimize the use of interfacing on this shirt to maintain the light feel, but I did use some lightweight fusible in the collar.  A floppy collar is too sad a thought to bear!Floral Archer in progress - sleeve cuffI keep petting my creation-in-progress as I walk by, admiring my work and imagining all the summer adventures I’ll have in this shirt.  At least the sun was out today — a promise of warmer days to come.  I’ll be ready with a new shirt when spring decides to finally show its face.

Until then, I’ll remain chained at the hip to my puffer coat.  At least my prison is warm and fluffy.  :)

A floral top for “sprinter” (and various sewing updates)

Floral Renfrew - finished

Get it?  Spring + winter = sprinter?  The calendar says spring, but clearly the weather hasn’t gotten the memo!  Since my brain has officially switched over to spring/summer sewing but it’s still below freezing here in Boston, I sewed up a pretty floral top that hints at the upcoming spring but still keeps me warm while I (very impatiently) wait for its arrival.

Project Stats:

Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew (yes, I know, my millionth one).  Do you think indie pattern designers should start giving out awards for extreme pattern use?  Tasia, any thoughts?  :)

Fabric: My second Art Gallery knit – Recollections by Katarina Roccella in “flowered engrams delicate.”  The fabric is 95% cotton and 5% spandex.

Modifications: Nothing new, just my TNT modified Renfrew pattern.

Level of crafty satisfaction: This fabric makes me smile!  For a simple top, I’d say this is a winner.

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Tulip Quilt pattern (it’s free!)

Tulip Quilt collage

Just when you thought you’d seen the last quilting-related post on this blog, here comes another one.  :)  I’ve written up a PDF pattern for my Tulip Quilt, and it’s totally free!  Download and enjoy!

Download the FREE Tulip Quilt pattern

The pattern will reside on the dedicated Tulip Quilt page of this blog, and I’ve added a link in the menu bar of the blog header.  Check out the page for more details about the pattern.  I’ll keep track of any updates and errata on that page.

Now, you may be asking yourself a few questions, such as:

Is blog going to turn into a quilting blog?

Nope!  While I enjoyed making this quilt and putting the patten together, my true love is garment sewing, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Are you planning to release any more patterns?

Nope!  I already had the pattern for this quilt worked out from 11 years ago (!!), so writing it up wasn’t that much extra work.  I don’t see myself making any more quilts anytime soon (or ever!), so don’t hold your breath for any more quilting patterns.  As for garment patterns, yeah right!  That is WAY more work, and honestly I have no interest in ever developing one.

Why aren’t you charging anything for this pattern?

There are many reasons why this pattern is free (check out the Tulip Quilt page for details), but mostly it’s because I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in combining my passion for sewing with any sort of business.  Sewing is my hobby, pure and simple.  I had a ton of fun putting this pattern together, and I don’t need or want to be paid for enjoying my hobby in my free time.

Any other questions?  Ask away!

Share your Tulip Quilts

If you use this pattern to make a quilt or anything else, I’d absolutely love to see it.  You can post photos in the Tulip Quilt Flickr group so we can all admire your work.  :)

I hope you enjoy this pattern, and happy sewing!

Tulip Quilt – finished!

Tulip Quilt - finished

Today I am absolutely thrilled to share my finished Tulip Quilt, a project 11 years in the making.  This quilt is certainly not a masterpiece in design or craftsmanship, but I am so happy with the finished project nonetheless.  This quilt has been with me for most of my adult life and has witnessed so many ups and downs over the years, from grad school to a real job and, rather ironically, right back to grad school!  It represents perseverance through crafting and through life, and I’m proud to see it finally completed.

I started the quilt in 2004, immediately after I finished my first quilt.  I cut out all the pieces for the tulip blocks and started piecing them by hand (before I had a sewing machine), and then the quilt sat untouched for 8 years, surviving several moves and apartment clean-outs.  I guess I was sentimentally attached to it!  In 2012 when I bought my machine, this was the first project I started working on, and I finished piecing the quilt top and assembled the “quilt sandwich.”  After another hiatus, I resumed in the fall of 2014 when I purchased a walking foot, essentially required equipment for machine quilting, and finally the quilt is complete in 2015.

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Fitting broad shoulders: a pattern comparison

Fitting broad shoulders - the problem

Shoulders.  While I’ve grown to accept my genetic makeup and everything that comes along with it, having broad shoulders definitely presents a challenge in my sewing.  Maybe I’m biased, but I feel like adjusting the fit in the shoulder area is one of the trickiest adjustments to make, perhaps second only to the mystical crotch curve.  There’s just so much going on in that area, and a simple change can easily affect nearly every major pattern piece.  The fit issue is really noticeable too – just look at how far away the shoulder seam of my Renfrew is from my actual shoulder point!

There are plenty of sewists out where who are similarly blessed with broad shoulders and a broad upper back, including Morgan, Sunni, Erin, and countless others.  Morgan recently wrote a great post on fitting her broad shoulders, essentially an open letter to the sewing community for suggestions and support.  Go read the comments on that post – they’re full of shoulder fitting wisdom and camaraderie!

Inspired by Morgan’s post, I wanted to add a bit to the conversation.  Specifically, I wanted to illustrate how fundamentally different the drafting has to be to accommodate broad shoulders, at least in my (admittedly limited) experience.  So, I whipped out my bodice sloper and compared it to my adjusted Renfrew pattern, focusing on the back bodice pieces.  Granted, the sloper is drafted for a woven fabric, and the Renfrew is drafted for a stable knit, so they aren’t really directly comparable.  However, I still think the comparison nicely illustrates a few basic points, even if the numerical differences have to be taken with a grain of salt.

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