A whirlwind May

Three t-shirts from jersey scraps

Where did the entire month of May go?  I remember it being April, then I blinked, and now it’s June.  I purposely didn’t participate in Me-Made-May this year because I knew my schedule was going to be insane, but I really enjoyed following along with all your posts and pictures.  So what was I up to?  Lots of work, lots of travel, and yes, even some sewing.  🙂

Just this weekend I sewed up three quick t-shirts, the colorful array you see above.  These tops may be “boring as hell” (one of my new favorite phrases), but they’re perfect for wearing to work in the summer.  These tops were a total stash bust.  I used random scraps of cotton jersey leftover from other projects and managed to patch together 3 functioning garments.  The colorblocking was more of a necessity than a design decision given the size of my scraps, but I think they came out ok.  The pattern is my hacked Renfrew (I made 3 identical tops last summer), and the fabric is all Laguna jersey.  Each top uses <1 yard of fabric.

This was the best photo I could get on a very gloomy and rainy Sunday afternoon.  My motivation for taking photos of myself for the blog has evaporated lately, so you’ll just have to imagine them on me.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Mis-proportioned cowl-neck top

Pink cowl-neck top - collar detail

Today I have a moderately successful project to share with you – a good idea in theory, but unfortunately met with poor execution.  I think my “dissertation brain” is starting to throw off my sewing, as I’ve been diving head first into projects lately without my usual level of prior thought, research, etc.  I can’t help but be reminded of the old adage, “measure twice, cut once.”  Lately I feel like I haven’t been doing any measuring at all, just cutting with abandon!

Here was my plan for this project, a simple knit top for summer:

  • Start with my modified Renfrew pattern
  • Add mini sleeve bands that I drafted last summer
  • Draft a drapey cowl-neck
  • Omit the hem band and add a shirttail hem instead

I thought this combo would make a fun little summer top to pair with skirts and shorts, but instead I wound up with a wrinkly and ill-proportioned mess!

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knit

Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knit by Allspice Abounds

The fact that I’m sewing basic t-shirts and couldn’t find any time to photograph them in natural light pretty much sums up the state of my sewing right now.  Such is life!  With that said, I find these simple knit tops extremely relaxing to sew, and I wear one almost every day in the winter, so this is total win in my book.  Hooray for my everyday wardrobe!  Plus, I have some thoughts on my first time sewing with the new Art Gallery knits, so hopefully you’ll find something interesting in this plan vanilla post.

Now you may be thinking, “Carolyn, didn’t you mention something about drafting your own pants a few weeks ago?  Why are you showing me boring t-shirts when you could be writing a juicy post on pants?”  Umm, ok, you’ve got me there.  Let’s just say that the pants have been sitting in the corner of my cutting table, patiently awaiting the day when I have enough brain power to revisit them.  The fact that this post is about t-shirts should give you a clue about the brain power I’ve been able to dedicate to my sewing lately.  🙂

Continue reading

Everyday wardrobe: four Renfrews with coordinating Archers

Four Renfrews with coordinating Archers by Allspice Abounds

The image above is the culmination of a grand sewing strategy.  Are you strategic with your fabric and pattern purchases?  I’ve been trying to get better at planning ahead with the goal of creating a wearable, everyday wardrobe.  The idea is to create comfortable, easy-to-wear pieces that are functional in my daily life, and to create new pieces that work with existing pieces.

I had identified a few problems in my existing wardrobe:

  • I needed more long-sleeved t-shirts for layering in cold weather.
  • Wearing an Archer with a tank top underneath doesn’t keep me warm enough.
  • My existing knit tops don’t match with my Archers.

The solution: Buy some jersey in colors that match my Archers, and sew up a bunch of Renfrews!

Continue reading

Renfrew sewing season is in full swing!

Yellow Renfrew finished

Armed with a stack of pre-washed jersey and the onset of the cold weather here in Boston, I’ve been re-stocking my supply of cozy long-sleeved layering pieces.  And what better pattern to use for cranking out long-sleeved t-shirts than my trusty old Renfrew?  I know, I’m sure you’re shocked by this rogue pattern choice.  🙂

The shorter days and colder weather make blog photo shoots even harder to pull off than usual, so for now I’ll share a few in-progress photos, hoping that you’ll excuse the temporary absence of my smiling face.  Besides, since there’s a storm passing through today and I didn’t have any reason to go outside, my hair has that unstyled, fresh-out-of-the-shower look, and trust me, no one needs to see that.

Continue reading

Weekend WIPs: Renfrew, Moss mini, and a 10-year-old quilt

Quilt in progress

It’s been forever since I finished something!  Sometimes that’s just how it goes, though.  Life and all that.  🙂  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy sewing and serging and – gasp! – even quilting!  Here’s what’s been going down in my tiny sewing studio:

Continue reading

October video sewing update

Today I’ve got another video sewing update to share with you!  It seemed like a good time for another video since a lot of sewing-related things have been going on lately, but none of them have resulted in a finished garment to photograph (yet).

In the video, I talk about getting to know my new serger, my in-progress Moss mini skirt, some upcoming sewing plans, and a few recent fabric purchases.  Yay, new fabric!  I actually have a stash now, albeit an extremely modest one.  🙂  I also talk briefly about something that’s been in the works for a few months now: setting up a permanent sewing studio in my tiny apartment.  You know, one that doesn’t require rearranging all the furniture every time I want to sew.  My apartment is REALLY tiny, so this has been a fun challenge.

I hope you enjoy the video!  It’s been fun experimenting with this new medium, and I really like how an occasional video brings the blog to life a bit.  We’re all real people outside of our blogs, right?  🙂

You can view the video directly on YouTube here.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Black striped Renfrew maxi dress (and a hidden treasure!)

Black striped Renfrew maxi dress - finished

Happy summer to those of you in the northern hemisphere!  It seems that the warm weather is finally taking hold, and women wearing maxi dresses are flooding the steamy city streets, myself included.  : )  If this new dress looks familiar, it’s because it’s nearly identical to my previous one.  Let’s face it, this isn’t the first time I’m guilty of cranking out multiple garments from the same pattern.  Ahem.  : )  I know what I like, people!

What IS different, however, is that these photos were taken in the great outdoors (well, those steamy city streets to be exact) by someone other than myself.  Shock!  Gasp!  I know, not what you expected on this ol’ blog, but I like to give my readers a nice surprise once in a while.  If I’m going to show you identical twin dresses, the least I can do is give you some sunshine in the photos!

John was kind enough to snap these photos for me.  We found a “good wall,” as they say, and here are the fruits of our labor.  Many thanks to my wonderful boyfriend for tolerating my sewing obsession addiction hobby, and always with a smile.  : )

Continue reading