Video sewing update: Carolyn Pajamas pants muslin

What’s a girl to do with a newly-issued PhD, a few weeks off from work, and 8 yards of glorious flannel?  Get sewing, of course!!  I started working on the Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas a few weeks ago (before the infamous #diapershorts Version 2.0 incident), and now I’m back to working on them with renewed excitement.  Since I don’t have finished pajamas to show you just yet, I put together a video sewing update as a fun way to share my work-in-progress.

The 5-minute video features a completed muslin of the pajama pants, including – gasp – me modeling the pants in the video!  The video quality is not the greatest since my recording and editing skills leave a lot to be desired, but hopefully it’s a fun and informative way of checking out the fit of the pattern “in person.”  Plus, you can once again enjoy my nasal voice and American accent.  :)

I sewed a straight size 10 of the pajama pants, which corresponds well to my current measurements.  The fabric is a mystery cotton blend from JoAnn’s that I picked up over 10 years ago, long forgotten until my recent apartment move.  Hooray for muslin fabric that I never knew I had!  You’ll see in the video that the pants fit well with NO alterations, which is extremely rare for me.  How delightful!

You can view the video directly on YouTube here.  Oh, and I when I say that the pants weren’t too long for me, I meant that they weren’t too short (as patterns usually are for me) – oops!

To get a better look at the Shetland flannel, you can check out the navy herringbone here and the maroon here.  I wonder if I’ll actually use all 8 yards of fabric.  If I have some left over after making pajamas for John and me, maybe I can make a matching garment for my cat.  :)  The trick would be getting her to actually wear it, LOL!  I think there’s a better chance of me getting another PhD!!

To check out my previous video sewing updates, visit their original blog posts (Vlog 1 | Vlog 2) or simply visit my YouTube channel.  (I can’t believe I simultaneously own a flip phone and a YouTube channel.  Something is wrong here!)

I hope you’re all having a great week.  What’s on your sewing table these days?


Me with my grandmother

Sewing friends, I have some exciting news to share with you today.  After 5 long years, I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I am now the extremely proud owner of a Harvard PhD.  All went well with my thesis defense earlier this week, which means you may now refer to me as Dr. Carolyn.  :)

Not surprisingly, earning my degree has proven to be a very emotional experience, and I suspect it would be impossible for me to adequately describe how I feel in words.  Those of you who have gone through this process can relate to the wonderful feelings of accomplishment and relief combined with the strange anti-climactic sense of “that’s it?”  Mostly though, I feel proud and excited for the next step in my career, and I feel a sense of validation that all the years of frustration and sacrifice were worth it in the end.

I received a lot of good feedback during the defense from professors and colleagues, but the following comment from one of my committee members really struck a chord with me.  With a puzzled look on his face, he said:

“Carolyn, this was such a complicated project.  Why did you choose such a complicated project for your PhD??”

Haha, if only I knew what I was getting myself into!  He also referred to my project as an “odyssey.”  I think I would agree.

Anyway, my defense day was wonderful, made even better by the fact that John and my family could be there with me to celebrate, not to mention the absolutely gorgeous (not too hot!) weather.  My new job doesn’t start until October, so after finishing up some paperwork at the university, I’ll have a glorious 6 weeks off.  Can anyone say sewcation???  :)

Thank you to all of you for your encouragement and support over the years, and especially during the past few months.  As I’ve said before, the sewing community is such a wonderful group of kind and generous people, and each and every one of you has helped me along this journey in one way or another.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and here’s to exciting new adventures ahead!

Sarrouel Trousers in Loominous

Sarrouel Trousers in Loominous - finished

Damn right folks, I made another glorious pair of Sarrouel Trousers (aka #diapershorts), and I freaking love them!  I don’t know what it is about this crazy style, but I am totally enamored with these shorts.  They’re weird, they’re unflattering, but they’re so much fun to sew and wear.  I think the reason I love them so much is **because** they’re so unusual and non-traditional.  I spend so much of the year bundled up in boring old jeans and layers upon layers of sweaters that I find it really fun and exciting to wear something different for a change.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I’ve already worn these out and about on the streets of Boston and for a full day of work at the university… and no one said a thing.  Really folks, no one cares what you’re wearing, so wear whatever makes you happy!  My floral rayon pair has become my favorite summer garment and probably my favorite thing I’ve sewn all year, and I wear them with pride on a regular basis.  I’m so glad I now have another crazy pair to add to the rotation.  :)

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Adjusting a pattern for high shoulders

High shoulder adjustment

Let’s talk about shoulders today.  If you are like me and have “Amazon woman” shoulders, you know how tricky it can be to achieve a good fit in this area.  My shoulders are both wide and high.  Adjusting a pattern for wide shoulders and/or a wide upper back can be done rather easily with a broad back adjustment, but I propose that adjusting for high shoulders can be a bit more difficult, especially on a garment with sleeves.  While fiddling with my Carolyn Pajama top a few weeks ago, I think I gained some new-to-me insight on how to accomplish this.  Hence, the high shoulder adjustment was born.

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My minimalist rooftop sewing space

Sewing room - looking inside

Just a quick post today to share some photos of my new rooftop sewing space!  I showed you my previous sewing studio in my old apartment a few months ago, and this new space is where all my sewing stuff wound up after I moved into my boyfriend’s condo in May.  I have to admit, it was quite an upgrade!  :)  The biggest improvement was the abundance of natural light in the new space.  This room comprises the top floor of the condo, complete with a skylight and lots of windows.  It’s a pleasure to sew in such a sunny location.

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How I learned to sew

Christmas 1985 with my mom and brother

My brother, Mom, and me (1985)

I have been sewing and crafting for as long as I can remember.  I very distinctly remember being consumed by all sorts of sewing and crafting projects as a kid, from making potholders out of nylon loops to devouring latch hook kits to decorating t-shirts with neon-colored puff paint.  Some of my fondest childhood memories are of sitting in my room by myself, working on craft projects.  Clearly I was an introvert – and crafting fanatic – from birth.  :)

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Carolyn sews the Carolyn Pajamas: shirt muslin

Carolyn Pajamas shirt muslin - with pillow

This post could alternatively be titled: “Thou shalt not question the great Heather Lou.”

I know I’m late to the party with this pattern, but that’s nothing new for me!  Although I suspect most of you have already sewn up the Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas and/or have seen a bunch of gorgeous versions online, I hope you’ll indulge me as I work my way through this pattern, one muslin at a time.  Now, I know this pattern is named after the one and only Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn – a ridiculously talented sewist by all definitions – but ever since it came out, I couldn’t help but think that it would be cool to sew up a pattern with my name on it.  If I tell myself that it was actually named after me, well, that’ll just be my own little delusion.  :)

(By the way, thank you for the comments on my last post about my blog photos.  I think I actually managed to relax in the photo above!)

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Three simple summer tops

Three simple summer tops

My streak of extremely simple projects continues!  This summer I found myself in desperate need of simple tops to wear to work.  I wanted all the following characteristics:

  • Short sleeves, since I always seem to get cold in sleeveless tops in air conditioned buildings.
  • Low enough neckline to be comfortable, but high enough that I won’t have to worry about flashing anyone.
  • Relaxed enough fit to not have to worry about showing off a full stomach, but close fitting enough to still be flattering.
  • Must be made of 100% cotton (to survive the 1-mile, often very sweaty, walk into work) and knit fabric (for comfort when moving around all day).

Ah work, you kill me!  So many requirements!  Of course, these are all self-imposed requirements, but they limit the available design options a bit.  I hemmed and hawed over what to do, and I finally decided on simple t-shirts, modifying my already-heavily-modified Renfrew pattern to fulfill my list of demands.  It was a good excuse to make a few fitting changes that I had been putting off, most notably a broad back adjustment.

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Lace and floral undies

So Zo undies with lace and florals - front

Another pair of pretty underthings to add to my collection!  As sewing time and mental agility have both been low lately, I wanted a fun, quick project to make the best of a few free hours this weekend.  After reading this bra-making post over at the Sewcialist blog while drinking my coffee this morning, I decided that something feminine and lacy was in order.  And besides, it’s lingerie month!  I still haven’t hopped on the bra-making bandwagon, but handmade undies hold a special place in my heart… err, lingerie drawer.  This pair of So Zo undies is very similar to my previous pair, with a few minor tweaks to improve the fit and durability.  In other words, I learned from my mistakes last time.  :)

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Five weeks and counting…

Garden 1

As the days get hotter and stickier, preparations for my thesis defense become more and more frantic.  Multiple daily showers are met with multiple daily freak outs.  I’ve given up wearing my nice handmade clothing because it instantly gets soaked with sweat as soon as I walk out the door, and who’s going to see my outfit when I’m holed up in my office all day anyway?

Garden 2

I’m in full production mode, which consists of writing as many pages as possible each day and sticking to a schedule in which there is NO room for any more unexpected disasters… you know, the kind that have plagued my PhD since day one.

Garden 3

It’s a very exciting feeling to see five years of work finally come together, to get closer and closer to achieving a lifelong dream, and to know that I have a fun new adventure waiting for me on the other side.  I just have to stick to the schedule and write, write, write.  No summer vacation for me this year… just plenty of hours chained to my computer and covered in sweat.  :)

Garden 4This PhD has been a very interesting journey, simultaneously filled with doubt and frustration, excitement and amazement.  I think the dominant feeling these days is anticipation.  Someone once told me that in order to survive a PhD, you have to really want it.  Well folks, I WANT IT.  This degree is so close, I can taste it!

Five weeks to go.  Just have to keep writing…

In the meantime, I took a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful summer evening tonight.  Let the record show that these plants are still alive despite my constant presence and notorious kill record.  :)