The Hills are Alive!

I can't figure it out....every year when this starts to happen in my garden I end up making some unexplainable springtime confection that usually involves too many colors (as one of my sewing buds pointed out!!!) maybe some gathering and often a bow or two!!! Yikes!  Maybe I still haven't gotten over the annual "Easter Sunday dress" shopping excursion.  (complete with matching shoes, hat and gloves!) .  Whatever it is, it happened again last Saturday!  I spent the whole day blissfully patterning and puttering away and sure enough...the 'too-cute-for-its-own-good' creation appeared on my dress form.  😳

This year the devilish delight took the form of an apron dress!  As pointed out by said sewing bud, "it isn't as 'colorful' as previous spring frocks."  I think I will call that progress!  

I have been rather fascinated for the last little while with 'working garments.'  The patterns that I have been studying from Merchant and Mills are the prime example.  They take their cues from factory uniforms or denim basics and I love the usefulness and simple elegance of the garments.  I have been saving apron and pinafore pictures on a Pinterest board for a while now and decided the time was right.  


I also had a length of soft rumpled linen drapery fabric (think Sound of Music children on an alp!) that has been looking for a project.  


Recently, linen has been popular again for upholstery and draperies.  Yay, for the linen loving sewists!  I have been finding really nice linens and linen/cotton blends lurking in the home dec departments.  I am always careful to check and make sure that the contents of the fabrics are actually linen and/or cotton, and not an unpronounceable combination of chemicals.    I usually wash them several times to soften them up and get that nice rumpled affect that I associate with comfortable linen clothes.  This particular piece was on a remnant table so I am not totally convinced that it is 100% linen, but after a few rounds in the washer and dryer it was very soft and acceptable!

As I started the project it became clear that the pockets were taking the lead!  When I figured this out I realized that the fact that I was working with a minimum of pattern repeats would not be a problem.  Sticking pockets everywhere was going to cover up any attempt at pattern matching anyway, so I just cut right in, throwing matching to the wind.

Here's the finished too-cute-for-its-own-good apron....


I did find a greenish T shirt that looks OK, but maybe a bit too matchy-matchy?????  I kind of like the ivory top with it....


All the pockets were applied to the outside as patch-type pockets and I had fun figuring out the back strap connection.  I wanted it to be adjustable.  ...I guess there are a couple of 'bow-ish' details!😏

Welcome Spring!  I am ready to go, ...as soon as I learn how to yodel!!!  Do, re, mi!!!!


Waiting for Spring

Tweedy shirt update...

If you have seen Rhonda's latest blog post, you now understand why we needed to postpone our sew together plan.  When she told me that she had fallen...twice...and broken things...important things like wrists... 😳 I told her to concentrate on healing, we can sew and share when she is ready.  Stay tuned!  Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Back in my sewing room...I have been loving my cozy sweatshirt.  It has been cold and dreary here and things to cuddle up in have been my favorite way to combat the end of winter weather.  And making another version was the perfect antidote for 'dreary' cabin fever.  This time I chose a lovely cotton matelasse that I found in the upholstery department. 

The original plan was to make a little skirt.  I had been seeing short, wool or quilted skirts worn over leggings that I thought would be a cute, and warmer, alternative to yoga pants.  (I know it is OK to wear yoga pants as 'real' clothes...I just haven't gotten there yet.)  I pulled out the fabric and decided it was a bit light (in color) for the skirt plan but would feel wonderful as a sweatshirt!

As I do with most of the upholstery fabrics that turn into garments, I washed the heck out of it!  Upholstery fabrics often have more sizing than other fabrics which means they can change significantly in the wash.  I always want to know what's going to happen before I spend the time making them into garments!  I'll run some fabrics through the wash several times to get to a texture that I like. (and sometimes one washing sends them to the scarp pile!) Because this was 100% cotton the only thing that happened was that it got softer!!!!!  Ahhhhhh!

Matelasse is basically two fabrics that are held together by the "quilted" design. 

Matelassé (French: [matlase]) is a weaving or stitching technique yielding a pattern that appears quilted or padded.  Matelassé may be achieved by hand, on a jacquard loom, or a quilting machine. It is meant to mimic the style of hand-stitched quilts made in Marseilles, France.

Because of it's structure, when it is cut, the areas that are not held together by the quilting pattern, tend to fray easily.  Upholstery fabrics also fray when cut...so as soon as possible after cutting my pattern pieces, I ran the cut edges through my serger.  I cut off 1/8 of an inch with the serger and adjusted my seam allowances appropriately.

I also got a new foot for my sewing machine that was the perfect thing for this project!  I like using my walking foot most of the time and when I picked up my sewing machines from the dealer in February I noticed that I could get an edge foot for my walking foot!  Oh yeah! I'm in love! 😍
(I know, way too sewing geeky!)

I pressed open the seam allowances and used my new fancy foot to top stitch on either side of the seam.  It added a bit of detail to an otherwise pretty plain shirt!


If you are a keen observer, you will notice that on my serged pieces there are no center front or back seams, but on the final shirt there are seams! (pictures of the finished shirt ahead!)  The center back and front were both cut on the fold.  Now you might think that some one who has been sewing for herself for as long as I have and has made as many 'boxy sweatshirt' shapes as I have might know what size to cut....and you might be wrong.  I guess I thought that the heavier fabric would need more room?  I don't know...?   When I got the shoulder seams sewn it was pretty obvious that this shirt was meant for a much bigger body, and that just taking wider side seams was not going to be enough.   I took a full 3 inches out of the center front and another 2 inches out of the center back!!!!  Once I made the adjustments, which required a new seam at both centers, I really liked both the fit and the new design lines!  Bonus!


The hem is higher in the front and drops down in the back.  I ended up running a loose elastic through the hem to bring it in a bit.  The heavy fabric made it a bit "sticky-outy." (that's a technical term!)  

I feel like I am channeling Audrey Hepburn in a skiing movie!  Might need to get me some schmancy sun glasses!  (and wine!)

Note:  I was asked about the pattern for this top....
I started with a really old Vogue tunic pattern because it had a really dropped shoulder line, from there I adapted the shape that I wanted.  You could start with any generously cut top pattern.  A funnel neckline is fairly easy to draft.  I wanted to have it "cut on" rather than a separate collar piece.  I decided (rather arbitrarily) that it should stand up about 2" from the shoulder/neck point.  Because the fabric had no stretch, the opening at the neck would need to accommodate my head.  I took my head circumference (22") divided in half for the front and back and added 1/2" seam allowances.  That gave me the measurement (12") for the top neck openings.  Finally I used my french curve to gracefully connect the top of the neck to the shoulder.

I drew a little picture that may or may not help!