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Category: sewing

the striped jacket

I have always had a thing for stripes. Talk about charming and interesting – and don’t get me started on the potential for playing with directions and angles and placement. Stripes are one of those prints that always catch my eye (along with gingham and florals), and over the years I’ve logged hundreds of hours making garments using striped fabric. Most have been successful, like today’s jacket, and some have been massive disappointments (I still cringe when I think about this dress). One of my all-time favorite things ever is this skirt I designed a few years ago. Essentially, It’s just a half circle skirt with pleats that I separated into sections to create the stripes. So striped fabric doesn’t always have to be something you buy – you can absolutely create it yourself. At the end of this post, I’ll include some photos of a few things from the archives that are great examples of that. But first, back to the reason we’re here today: the black and white striped jacket.

I mentioned last week that I’m currently working on a group of garments that are all black and white. The collection is just about finished, and with only two exceptions, it is exactly what I planned – and this jacket is one of those exceptions. After cutting a black and white striped dress, I had some fabric left over. I’m making a concerted effort to use every inch of my fabrics, and when I saw what I had left to work with it came to me that this jacket would be a perfect use for it.

Also, side note: the black and white striped dress is the other exception. It turned out to be a disaster with a broken invisible zipper and a so-so fitting bodice. I scrapped the bodice entirely, but I saved the skirt so I was able to turn a negative into a positive, and the skirt is a great basic. I’ll probably get more use out of the skirt than I would have the dress, so it worked out. But then I had a group of separates and no dresses, so I added a white linen shirtdress to the lineup and called it good. I’ll probably have the collection finished in about a week or so. Finally, yay!

I post progress pictures on Instagram a lot, and when I posted a shot of the front of the jacket last month, someone asked me what view of the pattern it was, or how I knew to cut it like this. The answer is that there is no “view” for this jacket – I just knew it would work. The jacket is designed in sections which is a great canvas for something like this, and it’s also a great showcase for embroidery (you saw that in its sister jacket in December). That’s the thing with patterns: look at them less for what’s presented to you on the envelope and more with an eye for what you can do with it. This pattern is also a great opportunity to mix prints together. Pair a stripe with a floral or go with a solid and a coordinating print. Another option is something like view B, with the same fabric in a different scale. So, a larger scale eyelet for the middle pieces and a smaller scale eyelet for the yokes and lower bands. Instant interest!

I cut the front, back, and sleeves on the bias, and the yokes and lower sleeve and jacket pieces are all cut on the crosswise grain. The front band is cut on the straight of grain. This fabric is something I found at Ikea of all places (happened to see it when I was there for a couple lamps and storage boxes), and it’s 100% cotton duck. It would also be great in home dec applications, but there’s no finish on the fabric and it’s not stiff or scratchy – making it just as useful for certain garments. I never considered shopping the home dec department for fabrics until I was in college. A girl came to tailoring class one day with her project, and she was using the most gorgeous yellow and white damask that she’d gotten at from an interiors showroom. It was soft and all cotton, and seeing that jacket was all it took for me to look at fabrics differently. Now, not all home dec stuff will work for garments, but a lot of it will.

Front pattern piece with bias grainline.

I made bias tape from scraps of the black and white gingham I used for a blouse, and sandwiched those between the yoke and lining. It’s a nice detail that uses scrap fabric and elevates the inside of the garment nicely. I love doing things like that. (The wrinkles on the lining will happen after a good pressing or steaming. It’s normal and no biggie.)

I cut two of the middle back piece instead of cutting it on the fold, because I wanted a chevron down the middle.

Fabric.com has a great black and white stripe, and it’s very similar to what I used to make this jacket. It’s part of the Premier Prints Collection, which are traditional home dec fabrics. Just be mindful of the care instructions when shopping for this kind of fabric. Always pre-shrink, and avoid anything with a special finish on it.

 

Because there’s so much potential with this jacket, I’ll probably make it again later this year. It’s very, very easy to make, but the fit is boxier so keep that in mind. I’ll have more photos of this jacket on me in a week or so. Things are just so crazy here right now (as I type this our countertops are being installed and we just got a delivery with the powder room toilet and sink, as well as our kitchen faucets and disposals). Taking pictures is already such a hassle, so I’ve had to put that on the back burner until I have a big group of things to photograph all at once. Sorry about that, guys. I know how helpful it is to see these things on a real person. I’ll be back on my photography game soon.

Now, for the archived projects for a little stripes inspiration. I designed this dress a few years ago for a spring collection, and I love it. I’d actually like to make this one again. Love the baby blue and white together too. Each section/stripe is its own pattern piece, so this dress took quite some time to make. The pattern took a while, and so did the construction. It’s all worth it though, because practice and experience is what makes us better.

This is another striped dress I designed back in the day. I think some of the sections are a bit wide and so much white right across the bust is a bit distracting, but I still like this. Funny side note: I entered the navy version of this dress in a contest sponsored by Threads a few years ago and won. It’s how I got my DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 25!

This dress is from Spring 2013. I’d really love to have some of that fabric again!

I designed an apron collection for holiday one year, and this was one of them. This was called “The Gourmet” and as soon as I remembered this apron I immediately put on my list of things to make. This is so charming! I’ll have to add some pockets for functionality this time though. Ha!

Striped projects are always such a fun challenge, and I’m excited to tackle a few more throughout the year. The next striped project you see will probably be out of this raw silk. Love those colors!

I want to end today’s post by mentioning something that’s been on my mind for the past couple of days. The admin dashboard for this blog shows me all sorts of data, including referring sites. The other day, I noticed a new link that had directed someone to my blog. Out of curiosity, I followed it and I was led to the ugliest, most absurd discussion amongst fellow bloggers and readers about the people and things they hate in the sewing community. I was stung by some of the things that were said, but I was also simultaneously disappointed and not surprised that there’s a group of folks out there who delight in taking others down. What kind of person must you be to intentionally sign up for a site like that and then take time and energy to actually post on it?

I mention this because I know there are a lot of you who follow this blog because you’re on a journey like mine, and you’re also putting yourself out there every time you write a post or present your work to the world. It’s so sad that the jealous, talent-less wannabes come out of the woodwork and bond over their shared disdain for someone, and turn what is supposed to be a supportive, encouraging community into something nasty and lot like a high school cafeteria room. I’ve developed a pretty thick skin over the years (I’m getting better, anyway), so the initial sting of the comments has worn off. I have to laugh at these parasites and the toxicity they are carrying around. What a burden that must be! The funny part is that I know who a few of these people are and, ultimately, I’m sorry that they feel the way they do. You know how I feel about them? I don’t. I am too busy living life and trying to do good work to even worry about it.

One of my goals with this blog is to encourage fellow sewists to keep learning, try new things, and enjoy the process of being creative. The minute the joy is sucked out of that and we start to worry about what everyone else thinks, especially the morons hiding behind fake names and a computer screen, is the moment we join their ranks. I choose to live my life and present everything I share in a positive, fun way because I can’t imagine doing it any differently. You should do the same. And remember, if you ever stumble upon the haters, let that serve as your motivation to keep on keepin’ on.

I hope you have a great weekend, and I’ll be back next week with a fun post for Valentine’s Day and another piece from the black and white collection. But first, I’m headed to JoAnn for some white linen and black buttons for my shirtdress. Happy sewing!

-Emily

sew ready with studio designs: furniture for sewists (and giveaway!)

I’m a big believer in doing the best you can with what you have. I’ve been the recipient of many a hand-me-down in my life – everything from clothes and furniture to tools and appliances – and most of those things have come in quite handy over the years. When I first started sewing as a teenager, I parked my machine on our dining room table – having to move it every night for dinner. Later, it moved to a side table in my bedroom, which was cramped and awkward. In college, my mom gave me a table after she got a new desk, and I have used that table (and added two more hand-me-down tables from my husband to it) for the past 15 years. Those tables, along with things my dad made for me, rolling racks I’ve gotten on sale, and dress forms I’ve purchased for a bargain from local sellers or stores’ going out of business sales, have moved from about a dozen different houses over the years and been set up in a variety of spaces: teeny, tiny spare bedrooms, formal dining rooms, closets, and loft spaces. They’ve been used nearly every single day, and I’m lucky I have them.

I believe in doing things like that: cherishing what you have and making it work. But I also believe in investing in good quality tools and equipment when you can, and having functional furniture and thoughtful spaces in which to use it. In December, I got a new sewing machine, and I found myself in need of a new table for it. I’ll be using this machine mostly for embroidery so the embroidery arm will always be attached, which means I needed something long with plenty of workspace. In a very, very lucky sequence of events, Studio Designs reached out and asked me to pick a table I liked, review it, and share my thoughts with you. Oh, and one lucky winner will be getting a table too – eeee! (Entry form is at the bottom of this post.)

Studio Designs is a leader in the art accessories and art furniture field, and they have a number of specific furniture lines, including pet furniture, sewing furniture, home furniture, and office furniture. Like most everyone else on earth, purchase price is a big deal to me, because I’m in no position to dump endless cash on all the things I’d love to have (as much as I would like to). The Sew Ready collection is super affordable, and it’s one of the main reasons I was excited to partner with Studio Designs. This stuff is great quality and easy on the pocketbook.

After looking over the dimensions of the different sewing tables, I decided that the best match for me was the Eclipse Hobby Sewing Center. With the shelf on the left side up, it measures 60.25″ wide, which is more than enough space for my machine and supplies – and plenty of room for the embroidery arm to move freely. I also love the three drawers. I really like hideaways for supplies and all the things we use on a regular basis but don’t want to see or have cluttering up our workspace. Prior to getting this table, all of my embroidery thread was in big plastic bags in a box. Not exactly ideal. Now I can store them in these drawers and see exactly what I have and organize everything by color – which you know I love to do.

There’s also a platform under the table that is great for fabric or other supplies, and I’m using it for rolls of stabilizer and interfacing. Pretty much everything I need for embroidery can be stored in this table, and I just think that is beyond handy.

The tables are delivered in pieces, but it’s incredibly easy to assemble. I put this table together all by myself in about an hour one afternoon.

The tabletop itself is two pieces, one of which can be lowered so that the arm of your sewing machine to be level with the table. It’s adjusted by loosening the bolts, which isn’t difficult – but I do wish there was some sort of spring or latch mechanism that allowed you to raise and lower that shelf just by sliding it into place.

The left side of the table can swing down, giving you more or less tabletop depending on what you’re working on.

This table is solid and sturdy and everything you need a sewing table to be. It is a welcome (and much needed) addition to my studio! Be sure and check out the entire Sew Ready Collection (I love this cutting table too). The Comet Sewing Table is a great table for beginners or anyone short on space, and this Multipurpose Sewing Table is handy too.

Now, for the best part! Studio Designs is graciously giving away a table for one winner! To submit an entry, fill out the form below. Entries will be accepted through Monday, January 29th at 11:59PM CST. One, randomly-selected, US-based winner will be picked, and I will announce who that is on Tuesday. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Studio Designs for kindly sending me this sewing table. It will be used for many years to come!

the do-over: mccall’s 7627

The title of this post should really be “if at first you don’t succeed . . . ” because that’s ultimately the message today: try, try again. A couple months ago I made a wrap dress, and there was plenty to love about it – but it landed on the misses list in December. The issues with this dress had less to do with the pattern itself and more to do with the scale of the print combined with all that dress. So, I got to work removing the sleeves and replacing the belt with a solid black sash to break up the print a little. I think doing those things does the trick: now this is a dress that I feel good in and makes sense to me. It’s also more wearable, because I can easily throw on a cardigan or blazer without trying to cram the sleeves into another sleeve – or “smoosh” as I like to say.

I’m currently working on a black and white collection, and when I was putting it together a few weeks ago I knew I wanted another crack at this pattern. It’s just too good (easy to sew, fit is great), and I was excited about using the last little bit of a black and white tropical floral cotton I’ve had in my stash for a long, long time. I made a shirtdress out of it a couple years ago, but that particular dress went to my momma’s closet. I had just under two yards of fabric left over, and I had a feeling it would be a lovely version of the peplum top (view A) from this pattern.

I’m wearing it with jeans here, but it will also work well with summery linen pants or a black skirt or shorts. In this case, the sleeves work because the scale of the print is larger and the top isn’t overwhelmed by so much pattern. I went with a black belt again, for two reasons: I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the ties out of the floral, and I liked the contrast of black around the waist.

This fabric is another great find from Fashion Fabrics Club, but I got it years ago so it’s long been sold out. If you’ve been following this little blog for any length of time you know that I don’t particularly care for black – it’s just not a color that usually inspires me. I’ve also learned that solid white isn’t necessarily the most flattering thing I could wear, but the combination of black and white is what’s on my mind right now. It’s so classic and versatile, and while I have no plans to introduce a lot of solid black into my future sewing, I can appreciate having a few black pieces in my closet like a great pair of pants or skirt. If you’re a fellow fan of black and white, I found a few other options that would make great tops and dresses. I love the fact that great floral prints like this can work year round because they’re in neutral black and white. Plus, looking at those tropical prints in the middle of winter is motivating – spring is on the way!

Kaufman Sevenberry Island Paradise Flowers Black

Finespun Dianthus Black 

Telio Carmen Rayon Crepe Floral Print Black/White

If you’re looking for a flattering, easy to sew blouse, I’d recommend this pattern. I think it would be darling in gingham, but I’m really interested to see the dress in a solid color or something with some texture like an eyelet. Because the shoulder seam has been dropped (this makes “setting” in sleeves much easier than if the shoulder seam hadn’t been lowered), the armhole is quite large without the sleeve. I like the fact that there’s a little more coverage than a traditional sleeveless bodice, but your arm (and the surrounding area) is much more exposed than it normally is. Not a big deal, but it’s worth noting.

I finished the armhole seams with bias tape I made with what fabric I had left over. The pattern may include armhole facings – I honestly can’t remember – but I would never use them anyway. Bias tape is a much cleaner, less clunky finish.

Sometimes – especially when a project is a total loss – I can walk away knowing it couldn’t be fixed. This dress was different, and I’m especially happy with the black ties around the waist. I’m smitten with the peplum top too – that one will be especially fun to wear this summer with my favorite Panama hat and sandals.

Do you fix the so-so projects or just move on? It’s been a while since I’ve altered or changed a garment like this, but I’m glad I did. I can finally wear it!

Be sure and come back on Thursday. We’ll be talking all about a special line of sewing furniture, and there will be a giveaway for one winner. Can’t wait!

-Emily

P.S. This is the dress I made a couple years ago out of the black and white floral cotton. I used an older Vogue pattern, and I really loved that dress – but I ended up giving it to my mom because I knew she would be adorable in it. I never took proper pictures of this dress, so maybe my mom and I will take some photos together next time I’m in Nashville. (Hey, Momma! We’re taking pictures together next time I’m in town!)

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