Hummingbird Kimono

Hummingbird Kimono

Remember when kimono cardigans were all the rage a couple summers ago? Well, I’m definitely late to the party here, but at least I’ve arrived!

I drafted my own pattern using a combination of the popular Elle Apparel tutorial (although the link’s now broken and I can’t find it on her website?) and this video tutorial. I based my measurements on the former and used the sewing method of the latter because she includes an angled front and facings.

Hummingbird Kimono

Hummingbird Kimono

Hummingbird Kimono

When I saw this hummingbird print viscose pop up at Blackbird Fabrics, I just had to have it! It’s super soft and drapey, and fabulous to wear. Blackbird is definitely my go-to for fantastic rayon prints (see here and here).

Hummingbird Kimono

Hummingbird Kimono

Hummingbird Kimono

I don’t have much else to add! It was a fairly quick and satisfying project. It’s both comfortable and fun to wear, so it’s a win in my book!

<3 Lindsay

Mid-rise Safran Jeans

Safran Jeans

A while back I was contacted by Deer & Doe to see if I wanted to review their new jeans pattern, Safran. Being a fan of both the company and jeans in general, of course I couldn’t say no!

I had some black Cone Mills denim from Threadbare Fabrics in my stash, and this seemed like the perfect pattern to use it with. First I made a shorts-length muslin out of denim scraps from previous pairs of jeans. I determined the only major alteration I needed was a swayback adjustment, so I went ahead and cut out the good stuff.

Now, I should tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of high-waisted pants. Part of the reason I made a muslin was to test out how comfortable the high waist would be. I made a pair of high-waisted Gingers last winter, and while I like them, they definitely don’t get worn as much as my lower-waisted pairs. The Safran muslin seemed more comfortable than the Gingers at the time, but there’ll be more to this story…

I also compared the Safran pattern pieces to the Ginger pattern pieces, and you can tell they’re drafted from a very different block. For what it’s worth, this is the jeans pattern I’ve had to make the fewest adjustments to to get a good fit.

Safran Jeans

Safran Jeans

Safran Jeans

Construction was really easy and straight-forward due to a combination of great instructions and my prior jeans-making experience. My only deviation from the instructions was to use Heather’s fly tutorial, just because it’s my tried-and-true method. I think the only tricky part is making sure the welt pockets line up correctly. I used the wrong side of the denim for my welts, like I did on my pairs of Jamie jeans.

When sewing the crotch seam I varied the seam allowance from 7/8″ at the upper rear (for a swayback adjustment) to the normal 5/8, to just 3/8″ around the crotch (because when I baste-fitted the legs it was a little tight in this area). I also shortened the legs by an inch or so.

Safran Jeans

Safran Jeans

Safran Jeans

Everything seemed to be going well up till I attached the waistband and tried them on. And here’s where I realized my mistake. I had assumed that all Cone Mills stretch denim was similarly stretchy and would work for any stretch jeans pattern. It turns out that’s not the case. I tested the denim from my muslin and it had 20% stretch, the minimum called for in the pattern. Then I tested the denim I was using, and it only had 10% stretch. Oops. This didn’t negatively affect the fit anywhere else, but it meant the waistband was super uncomfortable when I sat down. I have a low tolerance for constrictive clothing, so I knew this wasn’t going to work.

And that’s why these are mid-rise Safrans. I cut the waistband off, and then cut off another 5/8″ all the way around. After the new waistband was attached, this meant the rise would be 1.25″ lower, and comfortably under my belly button. I cut my new waistband out using the low-rise Ginger pattern and didn’t use any interfacing (I’d used knit interfacing on my last waistband). The Ginger waistband includes extra length on the ends, so I knew I’d be able to get it to fit. And luckily it worked! I’m sure that’s not the proper way to convert jeans to mid-rise, but I have to say they’re much more comfortable and wearable now, and I don’t think the proportions look wrong.

Safran Jeans

Safran Jeans

Safran Jeans

The back waistband gapes slightly, but other than that I’m really happy with the fit on these jeans. I’d be curious to try this pattern in a stretch twill (with the proper stretch percentage this time), although I do have to say I think I’ll stick with the mid-rise.

I made View A, except for the belt loops. I did add them originally (as they’re sewn into the waistband), but after the waistband fiasco I didn’t want to deal with them again.

I wear jeans all the time, so I’m really happy to have another great pattern to add to the mix! I’ve realized though that I’ve never made any kind of pants besides jeans. I think the Emerson cropped pants have a really cool look, so I may try those out soon. Do you have a favorite pants pattern?

<3 Lindsay

V8903 Silk Shirt Dress

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

It’s been a while since I’ve sewn with a Big 4 pattern, but I was looking for a new shirt dress pattern and was really drawn to this one, Vogue 8903. I wanted something casually loose-fitting that would work well with silk. Specifically this gorgeous Jason Wu crinkled silk crepe de chine (sold out, but available in an almost identical colorway here) that I bought with my Mood Fabrics gift card last spring.

As far as silk goes, this one was pretty easy to sew with due to its textured nature. And it’s such a beautiful fabric; I love the tiny metallic polka dots scattered throughout. Plus it’s crinkled, so it can’t wrinkle – a definite win!

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

I finished this dress weeks ago, so the details are a little hazy, but I know I didn’t make any major pattern alterations. I sewed up View A sans collar. The one feature I was unsure about were the arm bands, so I basted them on to check the fit. They ended up being extremely wide and droopy on me, so I reduced the width by an inch or two before I sewed them back on. I also shorted the dress by a few inches (as I usually do).

I didn’t make a muslin since I figured this would be an easy-fitting kind of dress, but there is one major fit issue. Luckily the patterned fabric hides it pretty well, but there’s some definite drag lines going on in the shoulder/upper chest region. Weirdly, they’re sloping in the opposite direction than the ones on my Granville shirt (which indicated I needed a square shoulder adjustment), so I’m not sure what’s going on there.

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

I went down one size to a size 8, and the fit is pretty good except for the shoulder issue. I like that there’s some gentle shaping from the back darts, but since there’s no restrictive waistband the fabric just skims over the body.

Overall I love the casual cool vibe of this dress. It’s insanely lightweight and comfortable, and it pretty much feels like I’m wearing nothing at all, which is perfect for hot and humid summer days.

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

Vogue 8903 Shirt Dress

I think this might be the last hurrah of the summer dress. I had planned on making one or two more, but the early arrival of some very rainy and unusually cool weather has me more in the mood for fall sewing. Plus, I’m about to be spending a lot of time in cold air-conditioned buildings at grad school, so I’ve definitely got cardigans on the mind!

Does anyone else get super excited about wardrobe planning every season? I think I like making lists almost as much as I like sewing!

<3 Lindsay

Cleaning and Operating a 100-Year-Old Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Hello! This is Lindsay’s husband Nathaniel guest-blogging a few prefatory remarks about my experience cleaning up an old sewing machine: specifically, a 1916 Singer model 128 with “Rococo” style decals, hand-crank, and bentwood cover.  Lindsay’s parents ran across this beauty at an antique store in small-town Texas and the deal was just too good to pass up. According to the Singer Serial Number Database, it (F7213523) was born in the Clydebank, Scotland factory sometime in 1916, making it exactly a century old this year! Though the 128 is a 3/4-size version of the 127 and technically “portable” (i.e., it has a handle), this machine is made of solid steel and weighs in at 27 pounds, not including the case, cover, or crank! It is among the earliest 127/128s, which were produced from ~1912 up until the 1960s.

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

The thing was in really decent shape to begin with, but it was rather dusty withal and some parts needed a good de-gunking. Plus, the wood had gotten rather brittle with age and had stray scuffs/flecks of paint here-and-there. To begin, I simply wetted a cotton rag with warm, slightly soapy water (about a dime’s worth of dish soap to a pint of warm water) and went over the whole thing thoroughly. Then I removed all the face-plates, the foot, the tension-disk assembly, and the sliding plates that cover the shuttle. I soaked all of these, in addition to the various other attachments (hemmer, binder, tucker, ruffler, etc) in boiling water with a dash of OxyClean-like product for about 5 minutes, after which I dried them all thoroughly. Caveat lavaretur: these cleaning procedures worked for me, but your results may vary; please take care!

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

I wanted to clean all the wood up nicely, but first I needed a bit of fine-grained sand paper to gently rub off any marks that the soapy water couldn’t tackle. Next, it was time to shine, but I was afraid to use a store-bought furniture polish: instead I made my own! Easiest thing in the world: if you can make your own salad dressing, you can make this DIY-wood polish. In fact, it’s really nothing more than a vinaigrette: you mixed one part cheap olive-oil with one part white vinegar (some recipes use more vinegar than this; I also added a couple drops of essential oils to mask the vinegar smell). Put this 1:1 mix in a spray-bottle, spritz some onto a cotton cloth, and rub it uniformly into the old wood one area at a time. Simply repeat this process until your wood is clean, dark, and shiny! I did this all over, inside and outside, bentwood cover and all. Emboldened by my success with the wood, I also used the “house dressing” to go over the black Japanned parts of the machine (including the decals, gingerly) which resulted in a lustrous shine tip-to-tail!

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

After all of the metal parts had completely dried, I attempted to polish them up using Blue Magic brand “metal polish cream”. I chose this over other options at the auto-parts store because it claimed to work on all metal types. While I was able to get a nice shine on the face-plates, I had a tougher time with the balance wheel and the hardware pieces. Also, I’m not sure what type of metal the different parts are made of, but I would not recommend using this stuff on the gold “Singer badge” on the side of the machine above the serial number: it made it shinier, but I think it also made it more silvery (and less gold-y), which is unfortunate! Before putting all the polished baubles back on, it was advisable to give the machine a good oiling; in fact, the manual (1930 ed; 1951 ed) says “To ensure easy running, the machine requires oiling and if used continuously it should be oiled every day. With moderate use an occasional oiling is sufficient” (pg 16). The manual is really clear and easy to read; it also includes detailed, hand-drawn diagrams including one that indicates where to apply the oil. WD40 is good for de-gunking, but never oiling (and don’t get any on the surface of the machine, or it will eat away the lacquer and dull the decals). Though other lubricants may be serviceable, it’s always safest to use sewing-machine oil.

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Thanks Nathaniel! He did all this for me one week when I was really busy at work – isn’t he the best?

I’d never seen one of these vintage machines up close before, so it’s been really fun to learn how it works. It’s actually remarkably similar to a modern sewing machine, as you can see by the diagram below. I love that all the various parts are exposed so that you actually understand how it works and do repairs on it. I imagine it must be similar to working on an old car before everything was computerized and hidden away.

Singerdiagram

We took a few short videos of the more interesting bits:

Bobbin winder:

Threading the shuttle and needle:

It’s kind of hard to see the stitches in this video, but just for fun I tried sewing through 24 layers of fabric on the three machines I own. First on my very basic first machine, a Brother XL2600, then on my Pfaff Ambition 1.0 (which I love), and finally on the 1916 Singer. The Brother has a walking foot on it, but still obviously had some trouble and made a lot of noise doing it. The Pfaff sewed through it beautifully and the Singer didn’t have trouble either, though I still need to work on sewing more smoothly and adjusting the stitch length.

Machine demo/comparison: 24-layers

We’re not experts by any means, but hopefully some of you will find this post useful or interesting! Do you own any vintage sewing machines? And if you do, do you sew with them on a regular basis? I’d love to hear any tips!

<3 Lindsay

Liberty Doris Dress

Liberty Snowdrop Doris Dress

This is definitely the most feminine thing I’ve ever sewn. Something about the design of Sew Over It’s Doris Dress struck a chord with me the instant I saw it and I decided I needed to make one. The vintage-inspired style is a new one for me, but it was really fun to try out. Sometimes I like to sew outside my comfort zone as much for the new sewing experience as for the finished garment I end up with.

I made this dress back in May, so, as is the danger of blogging so far removed from sewing, the details of making this dress are a little fuzzy.

I sewed the smallest size – a size 8 – even though the measurements were 1.5″ too big in the bust. I made a muslin of the bodice, thinking it would be too big, but I actually didn’t end up making any changes. Because the bodice is meant to be loose fitting and the waist can be cinched in with the tie this is a pretty easy pattern to fit. The only alteration I made was to cut the length about halfway in-between the above knee and below knee options. I ended up shortening it by a few inches when I hemmed it though, so I think it ended up pretty close to the original above knee length – maybe an inch or two longer.

Liberty Snowdrop Doris Dress

Liberty Snowdrop Doris Dress

Liberty Snowdrop Doris Dress

Liberty Snowdrop Doris Dress

Liberty Snowdrop Doris Dress

I used Liberty tana lawn in the classic Hesketh print, featuring snowdrops. This design was originally produced in the 1890s, and I love the art nouveau vibe it has. I bought the fabric on eBay from katsfabrics. She sells ‘seconds’ for much cheaper than the retail price, and I couldn’t find any defects in the fabric I bought.

This dress had a lot of fun, new-to-me features: bust pleats, a side zipper, a buttoned front integrated with facings, and a skirt made from seven flared panels. The skirt does use up quite a bit of fabric (especially if you have a directional print), but it’s a really nice shape.

This was my first time sewing with a Sew Over It pattern and I was impressed with the quality of the instructions: they’re very detailed and easy to follow.

Liberty Snowdrop Doris Dress

Liberty Snowdrop Doris Dress

Liberty Snowdrop Doris Dress

This was originally meant to be my birthday dress, but I was sick on the days leading up to my birthday (so I didn’t finish it) and on my birthday itself (so I didn’t go out anywhere fancy anyway). My birthday wasn’t a total bust though, because I did manage to go to the cat cafe, play pub trivia, and eat a deep dish pizza, so that’s a win in my book!

Instead I ended up wearing this dress to Nathaniel’s grad school graduation a couple weeks later. He got his Masters in Statistics en route to a PhD in Educational Psychology – I’m very proud of him!

Liberty Doris Dress

I don’t think vintage-inspired will be my usual thing, but it was definitely a fun style to try, and I love the way the dress turned out. Do you have a favorite Sew Over It pattern? After my success with this one I’d love to give another one a try!

<3 Lindsay