go go girl


Seasons Greetings from Galveston, TX! This week I'm preparing to make the yearly trek back East to spend the holidays with family, which means putting in long hours at work, doing ass-loads of laundry, cleaning the house, boarding the animals, and trying to eat up anything perishable in the fridge.  Thank goodness I got all my holiday shopping/gift-making finished up this weekend! Truthfully, I've been on a bit of a holiday roll as of late, which is quite odd for me. Usually I have absolutely zero Christmas spirit until I step foot in my parents bedecked house a few days before Christmas.  But this year I'm starting to feel it, and it's kinda nice! 

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I think part of the reason for all my holiday cheer has to do with the fact that it's actually been cold enough in Texas for it to feel like winter.  Yes, yes, I know I'm sporting bare legs in these photos, and that's because, well, it warmed up again... but believe me when I say that it was actually and truthfully legitimately cold just a few short days ago! And since 90% of my wardrobe is warm weather garb, I found myself in the same position I always find myself in when the cold finally decides to strike in these parts - with nothing to wear! 

I've often joked that I'm part reptile because it seems that whatever the temperature is outside, that's the temperature of my body (and that's why I'm most comfortable at, oh, say 90F). I have seriously got to be the most cold-natured person I've ever met! My husband will back me up on this since he has been subject to my alarmingly cold feet and hands (and legs and arms and...) for quite some time now. So you can imagine me, a few weeks ago, feeling completely unprepared during our first cold snap, huddled in a blanket in front of my computer, numb fingers scrolling through pages and pages of online fabric stores and muttering to myself through blue lips and chattering teeth "woooollll.... neeed woooool"...

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As soon as my paycheck was in I was ordering this dense, smooth, medium weight, 100% wool knit from Mood. And, oh man, did this stuff deliver! It was exactly what I was looking for - comfy like a knit, but oh so cozy. Some crosswise stretch, but pretty stable (no lycra), it doesn't wrinkle, but it pressed like a dream, and zero itch. Truthfully. I'm pretty sensitive to itchy wool, and I can wear this stuff against bare skin all day without wanting to claw it off me (although I like to layer, because, see above - re: reptilian blood). And it's black. I don't know what it is, but I have been feeling very 'black all over' with my clothes lately, so expect to see more black on this blog before the season is over!

I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it too. This is the Saiph Tunic from Papercut Patterns' new Constellation Collection - a gorgeous group of patterns with some really standout pieces.  I was pretty tempted by a few of them, but then my eyes clapped on this simple, beginner pattern, and well.... it was love at first sight. I mean, a boxy, shapeless shift of a dress?! Be. Still. My. Heart! It had "Sallie" written alllll over it!! 

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Actually what really drew me to this dress was some of the pretty details, like those French darts at the bust, and the inseam pockets.  There is actually some subtle shaping in the dress, making it much more elegant than wearing a giant rectangle. And while I'm not super passionate about pockets in dresses (I can go either way) I do love when they are a design feature like they are here. 

I made this in a size XS, but I did a real mental dance about whether I should go down a size or not because of the roomy fit and the knit fabric.  In the end I decided to go with my measurement size because I didn't want those bust darts to end at my collarbones, and I was too lazy to lower them.  The fit is definitely roomy, but I don't regret making this size. Honestly, if I were to make it again I would probably cut the same size, but maybe narrow the shoulders. The only alterations I made to the pattern was to add 1 inch of length to the bottom hem band piece because I wanted to be able to wear this as a dress, not as a tunic (as the name suggests) and I took about 1/4 inch of height out of the sleeve-cap to reduce the ease, because I was using a knit (otherwise the sleeve-cap ease would have been perfect as drafted).

This was super easy breezy to sew up.  I finished the cuffs and hem by interfacing them first with some knit fusible and then using my twin needle to topstitch them - makes for a really neat finish.  And I alternated between using my sewing machine set to a long-ish (3.5) straight stitch and using my serger to sew the seams.  Most of the major seams (side seams, hem band) were done on the serger. I used a random white button I had in my stash for the back closure (I think it gives a subtle 'Wednesday Addams vibe') but, really, you don't need it - this is one that can slip right over your head. I stabilized the shoulder seams with a bit of clear elastic, but if I were to make this in a knit again I would also stabilize the front band seamline/pocket openings.  I don't mind the way they droop a bit here, but I dream of them sitting nice and flat and giving a really crisp, architectural feel.


I've already blabbed to my husband, my boss, and anyone else who I can get to stand still long enough to listen, about how I need, like, three more of these dresses in my wardrobe and then I would be a happy (winter) camper! It's just as cozy for curling up on the couch as it is for sitting at a desk, or gardening, or doing the myriad of other things that I do in my day to day life.  I just wish Mood had this   wool knit in other colors (like a bright red! or ivory - like the sample garment on Papercut Patterns website!) but I'm thinking of trying it out in a ponte next. Does anyone have experience working with ponte? What's the cozy-ness factor?

As you can see, I had a little helper with me while I shot these photos.  I thought the presence of Lucille might mitigate some of the weird comments and stares I tend to get when I take blog pictures. It's been my experience that people do not mess with you when you're accompanied by a large black, menacing looking dog, even if she is a big softie. I tried to get a good picture of the two of us, but unfortunately poor Lucille wasn't feeling so good. Shortly after this she started eating grass and vomiting! Poor puppy! Better out than in. (Don't worry, it was nothing serious, just random dog barfs...)

So here's a picture of me posing like weirdo, and sweet Lucille, looking rather green around the gills, to wish you and yours a very happy holiday! I hope your days are filled with lots of good food and even better company! (And perhaps a little sewing-related giftie or two to close out 2013?) See you in the New Year!



1 for you, 50 for me...


Here in the U.S., tomorrow is our Thanksgiving holiday (as I write this, at least) - the holiday that really starts off the whole holiday season with a bang (or at least with turkey and naps).  I always feel like this time of year we're supposed to reflect on all the things we're grateful for - sort of like a period of meditation before the expected New Years Resolution phase begins.  Honestly I always felt like the whole thing was a bit too... I don't know... Hallmark-y for me. But I do believe, wholeheartedly, in gratitude.  And there is not one thing, and not one soul on this earth that I am more grateful for than this guy right here.


I could ramble on about all the things I love about my husband (actually, I couldn't, because when it comes to matters of the heart I get a tad bit... what's the word... verklempt) but really, it goes without saying.  So instead I'm just going to skate over that bit, and get right to brass tacks.


See... Nick asked me to make him pants. Now if your husband asks you to make him pants, what do you do? You might look him straight in the eye, smile, and say, "Of course, Peaches! Just as soon as I finish whatever it is I'm doing right now" And then once you actually finish whatever you're doing right then, you put your selfish-sewing queue on hold and make your husband/wife/gf/bf/partner/whatever a damn pair of pants!! If this scenario describes you, then I say shove it well done you! Now why don't you go over there where I can't see you, mmmkay??

When Nick asked me to make him pants the first 5 times I pretended I didn't hear him. Then the next 15 times I promised he'd have them for his birthday. In June. Once his birthday came and went, and he was still asking, I just put it out there in some nebulous place of "yeaahhhh, I'll do that.... someday." Finally, it took him becoming quite distraught about the fact that his pants wardrobe is slowly dwindling and I promised to make him pants and do I want him to keep wearing the same pair of green shorts for the rest of his life? for me to hold up my end of the bargain. So almost a year later, I looked him straight in the eye, smiled, and said "Of course, Peaches! Just as soon as I finish whatever I'm doing right now." And once I finished whatever I was doing right then, I actually made him pants. Just kidding. I don't call Nick "Peaches"...


Part of the hold up is to be blamed on the utterly dismal state of men's sewing patterns. I mean... gross you guys.  And because of this, Nick really wanted me to copy a pair of existing Banana Republic trousers that he owns, and, well... that just sounded hard. Not impossible, but like more work, time, and money than I was willing to put into something I wasn't even sure if he would like. Well thank goodness that in the yawning stretch of time from when he first started asking until now I became introduced to Thread Theory via the blog world.  I think all of us ladies who occasionally sew for men (and I'm sure some real live men, too) were rejoicing once we came upon these patterns.  Thank the heavens! Men's sewing patterns that look contemporary, yet classic, and aren't pajama pants! 

Please excuse the ridiculous amount of dog hair on these... this fabric is seriously like a magnet!
So I decided to make the Jedediah Pants for Nick, which are an interesting design - somewhere between a classic trouser, with the side-slash pockets and waistband finishing - and a jean, with their patch pockets, back yoke, and flat-felled seams.  This made them a perfect pattern to start with, because they will be easy to adapt to a more traditional trouser (just add back welt pockets and convert the yoke to darts) or a jean (just add a curved front pocket).

Nick wasn't sure, from the pictures, if the cut of the pants would suit him, so we decided to have this first pair be more like a 'wearable muslin'.  I made them in a size 38 (my husband is a big man) out of some cheap khaki twill I bought from JoAnne's, which wrinkles like mad and collects animal hair like it's its job.  


Now, those of you that have been hanging around here for awhile know that this is not my first time at the pants-sewing-rodeo.  But even though I'm pretty familiar with pants construction at this point, any time I work with a new pattern I like to follow their instructions.  The instructions for these pants were a little different than what I was used to, but overall nothing major.  They tell you to do things in a certain order that I found a bit awkward, and I'll probably do it the way I'm comfortable with in the future.  The only place I really hit a roadblock was with the fly.  No matter how many times I sew a zip fly I still need to follow instructions, and I have to say, the instructions for sewing the zip fly on the Jedediah Pants made no sense. Perhaps this was user error (or incompetence), but nevertheless I fussed and fought and couldn't make it work.  In the end I resorted to Grainline's zip-fly tutorial which I've used in the past and I feel like it gives a great result. Actually, I think from here on out I'm just going to stop second guessing and always use Grainline's method, because I just know it's going to work.


As for the finished product? Well, aside from the fabric, I think we both feel like it's not too bad. It's a little bit big in the waist (my fault, I was being overly cautious and gave an extra half inch at the CB seam. you can see how they're bunching up underneath his belt in these pictures) and Nick feels like the rise is a bit lower than what he's used to.  We also think that the back yoke is a little large, and it makes the back patch pockets sit a little awkwardly low (on him).  I still think I'll use this pattern again to make him another pair of pants, making a few of these minor adjustments along the way. If he's lucky, he just might get a pair of jeans sooner rather than later (I mean... while I'm on a roll here...)


Nick is incredibly camera-shy (most of the pictures I have of him are just a blur as he dashes out of frame) so getting him to pose for these pictures was a bit of a project! In the end, he was an awesomely good sport about it, even, perhaps, getting into it just a tiny bit. I like to think of the pose above as his "Jcrew-catalogue-man" pose.

Well, coming back to the theme of gratitude, I want to say thank you to all of you, dear readers, fellow sewing bloggers, friends, and (especially) family, for stopping by every now and then, for all your words of encouragement and praise, for letting me be a part of this awesome, supportive community, and for continually inspiring and teaching me, day after day, month after month, and year after year.  If you're celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a lovely, holiday, and if you're not celebrating Thanksgiving, happy Thursday!



roseate spoonbill


I can't say I've ever had a particular affinity for birds. Growing up, the only birds I could actually identify were Canadian Geese, of which there were an abundance of.  I also got pretty good at identifying goose poop... of which there was also an abundance of... Which is why it's pretty remarkable that these days I'm able to recall the names of a lot of our feathered friends that I see about.  Galveston has some pretty spectacular birding, and I guess it's the sort of thing that just rubs off after spending time in a place.  But of all the birds I see about, there's really only one that I get super excited about when I spot it, and that's the Roseate Spoonbill.

I remember the first time I saw a Roseate Spoonbill I was driving across the causeway that connects the island to mainland Texas, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this flash of pink in the sky.  It was shortly after we had moved to Galveston and I remember coming home and saying to my husband (not totally sure if I had imagined the whole thing or not) "Nick, I think there are pink birds here..." He, of course, already knew about the pink birds, being much more... well... just generally better informed about these things than I am.  To me, living in a place with such technicolor fowl flapping about, makes me feel like I'm in the most exotic place in the world, even if it is just costal Texas.


So why am I waxing romantic about pink birds today? I swear there's a reason, and that reason does indeed tie into one of my two newest makes. So let me introduce you to...

My second Archer, made up in a silk crepe de chine.  This silk started it's life as plain white, and I was truly this close to leaving it white, because there is something pretty classic about a white, silk, button-up shirt, is there not? But I felt like maybe I could love it a little bit more if it was, I don't know, a little pinker.  So I dyed it.  Easy peasy.  Just a one step, good ol' fashioned, dunk-it-in-a-bucket-and-swish-it-around dye job. I mixed just the teensiest amounts of chocolate brown and coral pink dye (both from Dharma) to get the color I was aiming for.  And the color on my mind, my inspiration, was the pale shade of rose that the Roseate Spoonbill displays on it's soft, downy feathers.  See? Told you I had a point with all that bird nonsense!!


As this is my second time making Grainline's Archer, I won't go into too many details here (to read about my first Archer, go here). And while I wear my first Archer a ton (like, multiple times a week, sometimes) I did make some changes to the pattern this time around to get the fit closer to how I like my button-ups.  I've been very jealous of the fit on all of Andrea's Archers, and so decided to take a page out of her book and decrease some of the width through the shoulders (I used this tutorial) and take in the side seams a bit at the waist for a more feminine shape.  The changes were subtle (only half an inch at the shoulders and about an inch at the waist) and I think my finished shirt keeps some of the 'boyfriend' vibe that I love so much about this pattern, while making it just a bit more flattering on my body.  Score. 


Sewing this was also one of those experiences that sewists simply live for.  Everything came together absolutely gorgeously, the silk pressed beautifully, and because this shirt has so many sweet little details on it, it was one of those makes where you can actually see that you've made progress with your technique.  Very satisfying indeed.


I also made up Tessuti's Suzy Pants pattern in this navy and white patterned silk crepe that I scored while in NYC.  I can't remember the name of the store, because I was in such a post-blogger-meetup euphoria that I wasn't really paying attention, but I do remember that I spotted it and immediately thought, "Suzy Pants".  I've been obsessed with Kelli's Suzy's since she posted them, and felt like they would make the perfect transition pants for fall.

I had already made one of Tessuti's patterns (here) and found them to be perfectly delightful to sew with.  I think much like Kelli, I was drawn to the Suzy pattern because they closely resemble a lot of the pleated, lightweight trousers that I've been seeing a lot from ready-to-wear lines.  While I probably could have done the work and converted my beloved Built By Wendy pants pattern to this style, it was much much easier to just download the Suzy pattern! I made these in a size XS, based off of my measurements and the finished garment measurements, and the fit was just what I was hoping for, loose, but not baggy. I also took a page from Kelli's book and made my Suzy's with a flat-front waistband and just elastic in the back.  I tapered the leg towards the ankle, and cropped the length, as well. I always think a tapered leg looks most stylish when it's cropped, plus, now they're the perfect length to wear with my fall/winter staples - my black booties! 


I made these a few weeks ago, now (they go together super quickly) and have worn them at least twice a week since (and sometimes I change into them when I get home from work, because they are just that comfortable). So I guess that is testament to how much I love them? My husband kind of chuckles at me when I wear them and refers to them (fondly I'm sure...) as my fancy Zubaz pants.  I mean... I guess they do sort of have a '90's Mom' vibe (maybe in a cool way???) but definitely not a bad 90's pants vibe... right?? Right???


Man, taking blog photos is just always awkward, right? Today the weirdos were in particularly rare form (or am I the weirdo in this scenario... so hard to tell...) While I was darting back and forth between my posing and adjusting the camera I noticed that there was some old dude in a BATHROBE standing on his porch watching me!! Just, like, leaning up against the post, giving me an eye-full of his silvery chest rug.  So I say, "Hey there" and kind of wave, and dude just growls at me in the thickest Russian accent, "Are you Russian?? You look like you could be Russian..."  Um. Huh? So I smile and say, "No, I'm not Russian"... And my man just keeps on standing there, smiling and staring!! Thus, the incredibly uncomfortable look on my face in that second-to-last picture! So finally I ask if I'm bothering him, and he says 'no' and goes back inside (to continue to creep at me behind his lace curtains...) but not without leaving a strong whiff of heebie-jeebies in his wake! Granted, I was taking pictures on the sidewalk right in front of his house, so, yeah... not really sure who's the bigger weirdo in this scenario... I mean, I did just shame a dude off his own porch so I could take pictures for my sewing blog on his private property.... Like, clearly  the robed Russian is the weirdo... right? Right...?



last gasp


I want to thank you all, so much, for your kind words on my last fabric post! I'm having such a wonderful time experimenting with dyes and seeing where I can push them and how I might make them my own, and it's been such a joy getting to share that process with you! And you've certainly given me a ton to think about in terms of where all this fabric dyeing might lead...


I also have to acknowledge all the crazy good suggestions you guys had for what this fabric should become! You guys seriously have amazing vision, and I wish I could have taken every. single. one of your suggestions (wouldn't that have been an awesome post!?) 

But, as you can see, I ended up sticking to the original plan and making an Anna.  One of the main reasons for this being that Heather Lou sent me this pattern as part of our hand-dyed-silk-maxi-dress-love-fest earlier this summer, and it just seemed to complete the karmic circle of good-feelings too perfectly to use this pattern with this fabric. And if there is one thing I believe in, it's karmic circles. And silk. Yes, I am a fervent member of the Church of Karma & Silk... any other believers out there?


I also really wanted to make my Anna before our weather turned too cold for me to enjoy it, because if ever there was a pattern for Summer 2013, I believe it is the Anna.  This pattern just feels so very now (yes, I realize that for most of you in the northern hemi summer is already a distant memory, clouded over by wafts of pumpkin spice everything, but in my little corner of the world I'm still enjoying the last few gasps of warmish temps before fall finally decides to settle on us). When I was in NYC I had the wonderful privilege of getting to eyeball not one, not two, but five Anna's in the course of three days! That, my friends, is an excellent example of a pattern going viral.  And, yeah, I wanted in. So consider this my late entry onto the Anna train.

And, boyohboyohboy am I glad I boarded that train! I was actually nervous about this dress - if you can believe it.  I worried that the tummy-hugging silhouette wouldn't be particularly flattering on me, since I generally try to drape myself in volume around those middle parts. I actually made two muslins of the bodice before I cut into my silk, something I haven't done in quite awhile.  I couldn't quite make my mind up between two sizes - a US6 or a US8.  Both, technically, fit. And looked fine. But the 6... well... it left no one in doubt about where I store my chicken and waffles ifyaknowwhati'msayin... So I went with the 8, and I'm very pleased that I did.  I think the dress is still miraculously flattering and feminine and sexy while still allowing me to breathe and, ya know, have organs. 


So let's talk about some of the nitty-gritty, shall we? One of the benefits of being the last person in the blogosphere to make a pattern is that you get to learn from everyone else's experience.  So even before I made my muslins I was aware that this pattern had some issues with gaping at the back neck, and I was able to use Ginger's clever little adjustment to take out excess fabric there (though the back neck still gapes a bit if I stand up 'yoga-straight'...) I also took Oona's advice and skipped the pattern facings and instead used a bias strip facing to finish the neckline.  I had also heard everyone bemoan the miles of french seams and hand finishing that this dress called for. I heard it. And I chose to ignore it. Instead I serged my edges (I know... such a rebel) and....!!! Get this... I topstitched my thigh-split! Say What?!?! It's true. And before you all come at me with pitchforks and buckets of tar, lemme just say: It. Works. Fine. I would especially recommend this if you are making your Anna out of a solid colored fabric. Total time saver. Perhaps not the invisible finish some might desire, but dudes, I finished this dress in a day. 

Cue the horrible construction shots in heinous indoor lighting... 


The one area where I did go a bit overboard on was the zipper.  I hate the feel of zipper tape against my skin, so I debated drafting a facing for the back opening, but I felt like that would really only work neatly if I included all the facings, and I had already decided to go the bias route. So instead I cut strips of my silk and bound the zipper tape in those before I inserted it into the dress. Now, no scratchy zipper tape ruining the delicious feeling of all that silk against my skin! As for my invisible zipper experience as a whole? I have no complaints. Inserting zippers into super lightweight fabrics like this silk is always a bit funky. But I interfaced the seam allowances around the zipper and it went in like a charm, and, I think, looks just about as neat and clean as can be expected.


Nick took these pictures for me, which is always a bit of an adventure.  I usually end up with some absolutely stunning shots, and then I get some funny ones like the shot above. I can only assume he was getting bored with my posing and preening and the distraction of a really big boat was just too tempting! (P.S. Thank you, Nick! You're such a good sport! I love you!) 

Well, since finishing this dress I've already worn it to two events and plan to wear it to another this week. It's actually pretty amazing how this dress can go super fancy or more daytime-casual with just the slightest change of shoes and accessories. Love it! But now I think it's time for me to focus on some fall weather sewing... sigh. It's time. Goodbye summer!





Can we just talk about this dye-job for a minute? I decided this fabric was so special that it deserves it's own dedicated post before I start hacking into it.  (Ouch. It hurts my heart just thinking about that!)


This is just a smidgen over four yards of a light weight silk crepe de chine, dyed up in a pretty, autumnal palette of navy, dusty rose and gold (it may not feel like autumn here, but that doesn't mean I can't sneak some fall colors into my palette!)  Perhaps some of you spotted this post by the ever glorious Heather Lou? If you haven't, I highly suggest you give it a read, as it tells the beautiful story of two friends and ten yards of silk (shouldn't all great love stories begin and end with a crap-ton of silk??) 

Anyway - the short-short version goes something like this - Heather sent me ten yards of silk, half of which I dyed for her and shipped off to Canada (like a mother bird sending her young fledglings out of the nest: a bit teary, but bursting with pride) and the other half I kept for myself.  You see, I work for silk. Heather then commenced to make the most breathtaking dress ever imaginable with said silk, and I sat on my half, hemming-and-hawing as I am wont to do.


So what does this silk have to do with Heather's silk? Well. Everything is a learning process with me. See, while I was working on Heather's silk (the interior dialogue of which sounded something like this: "Expletives expletives expletives.... omigod no.... cursing cursing cursing... I've f*cked it up!!! Okay... wait... maybe if I... alright... okay... that's better... yeah... okay... this might not be so bad... OMIGOD I LOVE THIS!!") I discovered through sheer accident that when you mix sodium alginate (used to thicken dyes to a more 'paint-like' consistency and reduce the 'bleed' effect) with your dyes that it also acts as a very subtle resist - meaning other dyes will not run right into it and muck up the color.  You can, of course, buy commercial resists, or use a wax resist (typical in batik fabrics) but I was interested in the fact that this would allow me to still do a one step dye job - no washing between layers - and, best of all, I already had all the necessary components!


So I brewed up the idea of painting a floral(ish) motif and then painting by hand the negative space around it - allowing the thickened dyes (pink and yellow) to act as a resist, and thereby also preserving some of the white of my fabric.  In this way I was able to create the effect of a lighter design on top of a darker background color.  

But, still, it's always trial and error with my dyeing experiments! I thickened the pink dye more than the yellow, so there is some bleeding happening along the edges of the design. I actually don't mind this at all - I think it's a really lovely element to this fabric, but still, unplanned. Also, since the dark blue color was literally painted in by hand (with a much too small brush, might I add! I might need to remedy that soon...) it takes on a slightly mottled appearance - again, just a little quirk of the handmade!


It's actually quite funny to see these fabrics in real life, because my hand changes as I work down the yardage - becoming more relaxed and maybe trying out a few different design ideas.  In the beginning I'm always over-thinking and over-working it! You can see this in the image above: on the right, you have what looks, to me, like a hydrangea cluster, and on the left you can see what it slowly morphed into... perhaps something one might see underneath a microscope?


You can tell I love this silk very very much, because when I'm in love with a fabric I go all Pre-Raphaelite up in this shit! 

Now... the real question is - what to do with it? I had my heart set on an Anna, but after swanning about with it draped all over me I'm beginning to lose my resolve... Is this begging to be turned into something else? Does anyone else see this silk and immediately think it must be turned into a certain pattern? Or am I just, once again, over-thinking this? Inquiring minds want to know...



tokyo jacket giveaway winner

Hey everyone! Just a quick post today to announce the winner of the Tokyo Jacket pattern giveaway! The random number generator has spoken and the winner is...

Congratulations, Emily!! I hope you love your Tokyo Jacket - and please please do the black, hand painted, discharge pattern!! That sounds so freaking brilliant, it's blowing my mind!

Thanks to all of you for the comments and the jacket love.  It's really a fabulous, fast, comfy pattern and I hope you'll consider making it up just because.  Hope you all have a great week!!



art teacher


I know! Two posts in one week!! Craziness! And the excitement doesn't end here... hint hint...

So, do you guys remember your art teachers growing up? I was really lucky to have some wonderful art teachers (one of whom was my Mom - hi Mom!!  I might be biased, but she was my favorite!) and while I may have found my way into a creative field all on my own, I definitely would not have had the amount of confidence and wherewithal to pursue my degrees in Painting without the support and encouragement of my art teachers.  I mean... I certainly wasn't getting any encouragement to continue on with math or science... so, I'm glad someone saw something in me!


But this post isn't just a testimonial to the importance of arts education in public schools (although don't get me started...) It's about some of the other effects that art teachers had on me.  I'm talking about style here.  One of my style inspirations is always some kind of mish-mash of all my art teachers.  There's just such an amazing, eclectic mix of professional/bohemian, practical/elegant, modern/vintage vibes going on with the art educator set! Not to mention a (typically) keen eye for color, proportion, and texture.  

This jacket feels like something that one of my art teachers (or maybe just my Mom...this is a good thing) would have worn.  There were lots of sneak peeks of this make in my last post because I literally wore it every. single. day while I was in NYC.  I have to say - up to this date - this might be one of my favorite handmade additions to my closet.  It's just seriously cool.


A few months ago, Colette from Tessuti contacted me to see if I'd like to review one of their patterns.  Have you guys been keeping up on the patterns that have been coming out of there? Really great stuff. Basics with a twist - definitely my kind of thing.  And also the sort of garments that would be flattering on a wide range of women, both age-wise and body-type.  I chose to make the Tokyo Jacket - a loose, unstructured, kimono-inspired jacket that works well in lighter, drape-ier fabrics.  I could just tell immediately from the line-drawings and the pictures on their site that this would be my kind of thing.  I love clothing with a somewhat Japanese aesthetic, and a dramatic fit. I will also be ordering the Suzy Pant as soon as payday comes... hello favorite new fall pant!

It took me a little while to get around making this jacket - mainly because I couldn't quite wrap my head around making a jacket, no matter how lightweight, when the temperatures were over 100 degrees! But with the approach of fall I decided it was time to delve in, and boy am I glad I did! This seems to go with everything in my closet!

This was one of those times that I had a really clear idea about what kind of fabric I wanted to pair with the pattern.  I knew as soon as I had the pattern in my hands that I wanted to make this out of some kind of shibori-dyed fabric, to highlight the kimono silhouette.  I used some silk noil (the same stuff I used to make this dress) and tried a itajime-shibori technique.  This basically means that the fabric was folded and then used some kind of shape-resist to prevent the dye from penetrating all the way through.  I was dyeing about 2 1/2 yards... you guys... that was a lot of folding! I can't totally say if my process was legit-shibori (I'm an internet learner) but I loved the outcome!

I didn't use a traditional indigo dye bath, but instead just used my trusty Dharma procion dyes.  Believe it or not, this dye color was supposed to black! That just goes to show you how unpredictable dye colors can be! It turned out more of a gray-ish blue with (though you can't see it in these pictures) an almost pink-ish haze around the blue.


My yardage of this silk noil was pretty narrow, so I had to fold it on the cross-grain in order to cut the pattern pieces.  My one regret with this jacket is that I did not follow my gut and cut the back piece on the fold (the instructions were to cut two).  There was just no way I was going to get the pattern to match up at that center back seam otherwise.  But like many things, this felt like a bit of a bummer at the time, but after wearing it around for a whole weekend, it really doesn't bother me (we'll call it a 'design feature').  Next time...

So the pattern! I requested a paper pattern because I was feeling a bit burnt out on all the printing and taping of digital patterns, but these patterns are available both ways.  They have a handmade look to them which is pleasant - like a pattern your friend drafted for you.  Everything matched up perfectly and the fit was spot on. I made a size S based on my measurements.  Obviously this jacket is very roomy so I probably could have made an XS, but when a garment like this is designed to have excessive ease I like to follow the designers size suggestions so it fits how they envision (interestingly enough, this is the total opposite to when I'm making a more fitted garment - then I base everything off of the finished garment measurements).


The instructions were impeccable! So, so thorough.  I didn't run into any problems sewing this up! The pattern says it is for Intermediate to Super-Advanced sewers, but honestly, based on how descriptive the instructions are I think a beginner-intermediate sewer could handle this, no problem. The trickiest part (in my opinion) was the pockets, and this was simply because they come together in a way I have never quite seen before, but I just trusted Tessuti and followed the instructions and lo-and-behold! Perfect pockets! 

I had the bare minimum of my yardage to make this  jacket, so I opted to do the cuffs and pocket trim in a contrast fabric.  This was one of the other reasons it took me a while to finally make this jacket - I was searching for the perfect trim fabric. You know, that mythical fabric that will just magically take this jacket from "awesome" to "amaze-balls"..? Well I found it, but it wasn't in any of my local stores.  

You see, I really wanted to have this jacket ready for my trip to New York, so I ended up rooting around in my scraps until I found something that struck my fancy - leather! I had left-over cream lamb-skin from making this jacket, and leftover black pleather from making these pants, and after a brief consultation on Instagram I followed the overwhelming advice to go with cream and I was off and away! And, wow, you guys I am  so glad  I took your advice and went with the cream leather! It just looks, and feels (and smells) so luxe! I added a small ribbon of trim along the collar to separate the collar from the body of the jacket, and to balance the other leather accents.  Those little bits of leather are really what makes this jacket extra-special to me. I just love the combined textures of the nubby silk-noil and buttery soft leather... mmmm.... Side note: this has totally renewed my love of sewing with leather... I am already scheming... many schemes...


So yeah! I'm super excited about this jacket!! A huge 'thank you' to Colette for sending me this pattern, and for always being such a huge supporter of this sewing-blog community! 

And now... for something extra exciting!! Tessuti is giving away one Tokyo Jacket pattern to one of my readers!! If you're in the Northern hemisphere, this jacket will make a great layering piece for fall - and if you're about to enter spring, this is the perfect lightweight layer to throw on over a sleeveless shirt (or, in my case, jumpsuit!) Basically - transitional weather perfection! 

Leave a comment with an email address where I can reach you - extra points if you make me laugh - and I'll choose a winner at random... oh... say... next Monday, September 30th at 8pm?  Sounds like a great way to cap off September!