Funny Pants and a Sunny Shirt

All spring I have been thinking about a pair of JJill pants that I saw in their catalog.  I don't know why they have stayed on my mind.  They are nothing like I would usually pick, but something about the print or the colors....I'm not sure...maybe they just have gotten stuck in my head because I want to think about anything other than virus and violence.  Whatever the reason, I just haven't been able to shake 'em.  So the other day when I got an "update" from JJill in my email, they were on sale!  Lucky me!  I figured this was a sign.  I ordered them up. (along with some really darling sandals😉)

When they arrived I was so pleased.  They fit...pretty much....the fabric and print were lovely...they might border on "too cute for their own good" but they make me happy.  I was surprised to find a tank top that I had gotten last summer when I was visiting Portland, OR that was perfect with the pants.  I love it when a plan comes together.  Even when it wasn't a plan.

I did decide to nip in the waist of the pants just a smidge.  It was really easy to do since the back of the waist is elastic.  I opened the casing and took a tuck in the elastic and stitched it back in place.  A 5 minute fix.

While I was awaiting the arrival of my spiffy (that's a word my Grandma used for just such occasions) new pants...which took forever to get here!  I kept myself busy with another thing that has been on my mind forever.  A new sun shirt!

I have been wearing this shirt that I got on sale at Banana Republic eons ago as a cover up at the beach.  It is a very lightweight cotton voile/gauze with a bit of a crinkle in it.  The weight is perfect for hot sunny days when I need to keep the sun off my shoulders.  I have tried other solutions, even made a couple of failed options, but keep dragging this shirt along.  It's getting to the point that it shouldn't be allowed out of the house, but I can't give it up.  I found a gorgeous gauzy linen while I was rearranging in my stash that was the weight I was looking for.  New sun shirt here we go!

Now I say the old sun shirt was perfect, but that's not quite true.  The neckline is a bit low and doesn't keep the sun off my chest, and it could be a titch longer if I am being super critical.  With those changes in mind I forged ahead...

My plan was to use the Tabula Rasa pattern from Fit for Art.  I love this pattern for lots of reasons, but in this case it is the way the sleeves and shoulders are designed that I wanted.  They are roomy without being 'baggy.'  Since I knew I was going to wear this shirt over other clothes, I wanted to make sure it would have the room I needed and also be easy to put on and take off.
You can see the Tabula Rasa and all the other great patterns from Fit for Art here.

I started by making the pleats.  The very tiny 1/8 inch pintucky pleats.  My fabric was perfect for the cover up but not ideal for making pleats.  After taking out several tries I decided I would pull a thread the length of the pleat to mark the fold.  I could keep the folds straight and when the pleats are sewn in the pulled threads don't show at all.  My edge stitch foot was also a lifesaver.


Because the fabric was soooooo loosely woven I wanted to avoid too many seams.  I decided to use the selvedges as the front button placket.  I measured the pleat placement in from the selvedge on each side of my fabric and made the pleats intending to cut the pattern out once they were in place.  I made another set of pleats in the center of the fabric to give myself the maximum space to cut the back of the shirt.  

When I folded the pleated fabric and placed my pattern pieces....BINGO!!!  They fit exactly.  I must have re-done the layout 7 times...yep...it was a perfect fit!  No side seams needed!  I only had to cut out the armholes.  The way the pattern is put together WITH a side seam makes it really easy to do french seams.  However, with no side seams...well let's just say that I'm glad the seams are in my armpits where nobody will see them.  ( I have edited out the bad words and hand wringing)

I added as much length as I could get out of my fabric and also made the sleeves a bit too long so they will cover the tops of my hands if I want and roll neatly out of the way when I don't need the coverage.  I made a small bias bound edge at the neck, buttons and buttonholes, Bob's your Uncle, I have a new sun shirt!  And doesn't it look great with my new flowery pants?! (also note darling sandals, score!)


After literally years of dreaming about this shirt, here it is!  Yeah!  Let the sun shine in!


Square and Muddy: Lessons from MeMadeMay

Another May is in the books!  Wow, what a May! So much unknown, so much turmoil.  Spring of 2020 is definitely going to be on our minds and in the history books.   I have a teacher friend who says he wants to be around in 15 years to see how this time period is taught in school.  An interesting thing to consider, eh?  I have another friend who says, "Never let a good crisis go to waste!"  Another interesting thought.  My May idea was not so lofty or profound, but I did participate this year in the MeMadeMay Challenge.  (If you are wondering, like I was, about how this became a 'thing,' check out the origin here)
I 'sorta' participated last year (you can read about my May 2019 here), just to see if I could do it, but I didn't have a way to really join in and share my 'makes' as they have come to be known.  This May I actually created an Instagram page/site/thingy? so I could add a picture each day.  I challenged myself to wear at least one handmade item each day, it is quite interesting to see all the photos at a glance.  It really does reveal a lot about what I choose to wear of the things I have made.  Here's what I learned from my 2020 MeMadeMay Challenge....

The first thing I realized was that just getting into "real" clothes during lockdown was a challenge.  The urge to just put on the same sweatpants everyday had a huge amount of inertia behind it.  I was very glad for the challenge as a way to get me dressed everyday.  I noticed that being in something that I had picked intentionally helped me move into action of some sort, even if it was just getting out for a walk, or calling someone on the phone.  Also, knowing that I was going to take a picture of what I was wearing gave me more incentive to 'look presentable.'  It was subtle, but really did nudge me everyday to make the effort.

Here's a kind of breakdown of what I wore for the month:

Self designed patterns/garments:  19
Hand knit items:  15
Redos/refashions/upcycles: 4
Merchant and Mills: 4
Reversibles: 2 
Square Clothing...31!!!!!
Mud colors....31!!!!

Yep!  I'm definitely square!  And muddy!  If you don't believe me, I have the photographic proof!
(you can see these better on my Instagram thingy...beckysewsalot)

"Square and muddy" might be OK for describing a pig pen, but they are not the most attractive adjectives for a wardrobe.  However, it is not surprising that they are the ones that describe my closet.  I have been loving and choosing fabrics and garments in a very specific and narrow color range for quite a while now.  It has created a selection of clothing that is ultimately mix and matchable, and what might be surprising, is that I don't get tired of it.  I know that the colors suit me and it helps me feel confident in my choices.  What might be somewhat surprising is that I find restricting my color palette pushes me to be creative in other ways, such as distinctive details, or design lines.  

Another realization that has happened over the past two years is that May is cold!  Growing up in Michigan you would think that I would have known that.  But as I looked over both last year and this year's clothing choices, I was looking at wool and sweaters and long pants and alpaca and turtle necks...occasionally by day 29 or 30 a short sleeve might show up, but on the whole, May is cold.  I think we here in Michigan trick ourselves into thinking that May is spring just because we are so dang tired of winter! 

So those are a couple of aha's from the challenge, but here is the kick in the head to all of this....going forward, I will be living for a big chunk of each year in a very warm and very colorful place!  Seeing these pictures and imagining them in Key West made me realize that I am going to have to break myself free from the mud and the alpaca and get into a bit more color and linen if I am going to feel like I belong on the island!  Now that feels like a challenge!


They Just Keep Coming

I may be sounding like a broken record, but I have another Merchant and Mills creation to share. 

Usually when I get home from a workshop I unpack and put everything away and promise to get back to it soon.  Of course, life happens and some time in the distant future I come across the samples or the half finished project and maybe I pick it up again.  It wasn't planned, duh, but as soon as I returned from my week in Rye we were asked to hunker down.  So, there I was with a pile of new patterns, a box full of luscious fabrics and all the time in world!  Shall we call it a bit of a silver lining?

It has been very nice to have the time to explore the Merchant and Mills portfolio.  I have been loving their design aesthetic and their silhouettes for awhile now and over the past several months I have tried several of the patterns.  Some I had already been working with and others were all new.  There was one jacket pattern that I wanted to give a try and decided to make it in something bright and springy. 

You may remember from the last post that I have been supporting our online fabric retailers...when I ordered the happy tropical print from Marcy Tilton's site, I just couldn't resist a piece of teal colored linen as well as a floral print rayon.  I wasn't sure from the website if they would actually go together, but when they arrived they were perfect.

Merchant and Mills Haremere Jacket here we go!

The pattern for the jacket I wanted to try is included in the "Workbook."  

There are a whole group of patterns that are part of the "All Season Wardrobe."  The pattern pieces are included along with wonderfully detailed instructions.  The Haremere is a jacket that gets its inspiration from menswear, but has some nicely done details that give it a softer, more feminine shape.  I was a bit nervous about the dropped shoulder since my shoulders are broad and I have learned that most patterns do not accommodate my generous shoulder proportions.  I did have to adjust the pattern, but ever so slightly, to get it to fit gracefully over my shoulders.  I was on a roll while I was working on it and completely forgot to take any in progress photos, so let's just say everything went swimmingly and here are some finished garment pics!

I had enough of the teal linen to make a pair of Closet Case Pietra Shorts (another pattern I have been wanting to try.)  Again, no progress shots....
And finally, I used a self drafted bias cut tank top for the rayon print.  

I am very pleased with all three pieces.  I may not wear them all together, but I think they will work with several other things I have in my closet.  Always a bonus!

It actually was raining when I took the pictures, the wellies and the umbrella are necessary, not just for the photos!

The inside has a lot of great tailoring details and I used a piece of tie silk for the lining and seam finishes.  The pattern does not call for Hong Kong seam finishing, but hey, when you have pink silk...

The shorts have great front pockets and the instructions for the elastic in the back waist are excellent.

I said I had enough for the shorts...let me correct that to, I had enough for the "outside" of the shorts!  I had to get a bit creative on the inside.

The seam across the bust of the top conceals a bust dart and the bias helps create enough stretch so that it fits close but doesn't need a zipper.  I  have a couple of these tops and love how easy they are to wear.

So far the Merchant and Mills patterns that I have tried have delivered.  It is so great when the idea in my head actually works out on the cutting table!  I still have a few more to try....