June 25, 2015


Have you ever had your eye on a fabric for seemingly months on end without pulling the trigger? That's how I felt about this fabric - and pairing it with my new favorite pattern makes this dress a major win in my book.

Pattern: True Bias Southport Dress
Size: 12
Alterations: Shortened bodice by 1"
Fabric: Viscose/rayon twill from Fabric.com

The pattern is, of course, the True Bias Southport Dress. Kelli really knocked it out of the park on this one. You may have seen her other amazing contributions to the sewing pattern community - the Hudson Pant (one of my versions) and the Sutton Blouse (my version). As soon as I saw Kelli posting hints of a new pattern on her Instagram, I knew it would be an instant winner... and I was not wrong! The Southport is such an easy, quick, satisfying dress to make - with no closures or fiddly bits, it comes together really fast. It's basically the perfect summer dress!

This is actually my third Southport, and my favorite - mostly due to fabric choice (here's the first and second one). The fabric is a viscose/rayon twill that I first saw on the Blackbird Fabrics website. Caroline has amazing taste, so it's no wonder that I first saw this fabric on her site. It seems like everyone else in the sewing community saw it too, though, because it was constantly selling out. I was lucky enough to spot this on Fabric.com a few months ago, and snapped it up! The floral pattern is really bold with a navy background - and there are striations in the fabric that make it look sort of aged. I was kind of turned off by that at first, but I sort of like the worn in feel it gives the fabric.

Being my third Southport, I pretty much have the pattern the way I like it. For this version, I shortened the bodice by 1", but I think I need to go one more inch on my inevitable fourth version. I've mentioned it a few times, I think, but I had a bit of an epiphany that I am short waisted. Being 5'6" and knowing many patterns are drafted for my height - I never really thought about it. But I started noticing that certain things were longer than they should be, or blousing more than they should be (like this dress). On my first Southport, I actually unpicked the skirt (on which I had topstitched down the serged seam allowance - ooooof), shortened it by 2" and resewed everything. It seemed a tad short afterwards, so I figured I went to far... Maybe I'll actually test out 1.5" next time.

There's not too much more to say about this amazing dress pattern (have I fangirled enough?) - except to check it out if you don't already have it. And then you'll find yourself making all kinds of excuses why you need more. Have you seen Kelli's tank top hack tutorial? I'm eyeing some silk in my stash for one.

Do you have any big summer plans or vacations coming up? I'm going to Spain next week - to do a Spanish language school for 2 weeks in Madrid, with my friend Virginia! Have you been to Spain and have any tips? Or do you have any tips for traveling alone (I'll be there for 26 hours by myself and I've never done that anywhere ever!)? Any advice would be mucho appreciated! :D

June 19, 2015


Every now and then I have to find time to sew something for my husband - mostly because he's extremely supportive and tolerant of my sewing (and messes) and I really love seeing him wear things I've made. We're pretty covered on collared shirts (even though there are more in the pipeline), but one thing he's been wanting are t-shirts. We've tried some t-shirt patterns in the past, but a few months ago we decided to make some TNT patterns once and for all.

The two patterns we started with were the vintage raglan pattern we've used for sweatshirts, and McCalls 6973. M6973 contains several patterns - all of them extremely oversized, but it wasn't terribly difficult to wrangle the henley/tee pattern into shape. I've also tried the Thread Theory Strathcona Henley - it's a bit too slim for Jeremy, but it's another great option!

In case you're curious, you can pick up the vintage pattern here, here and here (none of these are affiliates, so click away!). This post will also serve as a bit of a reference guide for myself in the future - so please bear with all the details!

Jeremy is a typical men's large (men are so much easier to measure). For reference, here's a Thread Theory post on measuring men, and McCalls also has some tips here.

Men's t-shirts are also really basic. You can use these patterns as a guide, but you can also measure a favorite tee and modify a patten to fit (shortening the shoulder seams, neckband width, body width, etc.). Below, I've gone a wee bit nuts with the specifics of hems and neck bands, but when you nail it - you can basically make new tees on-demand!

Okay - time for some deets! Skip to the end if you're looking for quick TNT measurements. Also - all the fabrics are from Michael Levine Loft, and they're basic t-shirt knits.

We started our quest with some white t-shirt knit. I essentially made up the raglan pattern as-is, using a shortened sleeve I'd traced off for a henley I made last year. The pattern was also lengthened 2" - in case you're using the same pattern (the pattern as-is calls for a band, and I did a hem). The neck band was a too skinny 3/8" (1 1/4" band width total), and it rolls in on itself. The shirt also has 3/4" hems on the sleeves and body.
The standard sleeve tee from M6973 was modified to have a slightly higher neckline (not sure why I did this, honestly - use the neck as-is, and I shortened the shoulder seam by 1". It also has a bit wider of a neck band at 1/2" (1 1/2" band width total), and 1" hems on the sleeves and body.

We apparently forgot to take pictures of the black raglan tee, so please accept this picture of our cottage cat, Sneezie, instead.

The black tees are pretty much perfect with the adjustments I made after Jeremy wore the white tees for a bit. The white raglan's sleeves were a bit too low, so I raised the underarm seam, and also tapered the side seams by about 1.5". This gave a closer t-shirt fit, rather than a looser sweatshirt fit. I also did a 1" hem on the body, and a 3/4" hem on the sleeves - which gave these the length Jeremy wanted. We also achieved the perfect neckband width of 5/8" (1 3/4" band width total).

For the standard sleeve black tee - I shortened the shoulder seam another 2 inches (I made no changes to the sleeve head), and I tapered the sides to match the black raglan (this shirt is very baggy). The neck band is a still too small 1/2" and it has 3/4" hems on the sleeves and body and a pocket from the pattern.

And finally, behold Jeremy's perfect tee (well, the standard sleeve version). It has his perfect neckband width, body width, hems and the sleeve sits at the correct place on his shoulder. It has a 5/8" neck band, and 3/4" hems all around - as well as a pocket.

Between this and the raglan tee finalized after the black version, we have two TNT patterns that can be used to create new t-shirts pretty much on demand (after buying fabric, of course!).

Stretch and Sew 100 Raglan:
- Lengthened body by 2" (if you're using the same pattern)
- Raised underarm on body
- 5/8" neckband (from a 1 3/4" band)
- Side seams tapered 1.5"
- 1" body hem and 3/4" sleeves

McCalls 6973:
- 5/8" neckband
- Side seams tapered to match my raglan pattern, but you can overlay a well fitting tee to figure it out
- Shortened shoulder seams by 3"
- 3/4" body and sleeve hems

If you hung through all of that, thanks for getting to the bottom here! One of the best parts of sewing is creating garments that suit your own personal body and needs - and changing ill fitting patterns into ones that fit! A t-shirt pattern is a great basic place to start!

Are you a muslin maker (or wearable muslin maker as these basically were)? Do you ever end up changing a pattern beyond recognition to suit your own needs?

June 11, 2015


Oh boy - am I really posting pictures of myself in a bathing suit on the interwebs?! It only took 7 short months of blogging to get me to this point - please bear (or bare - for the pun) with me!

Pattern: Papercut Patterns Soma
Size: Medium
Alterations: Changed the back straps (more information below), and shortened the bodice
Fabric: Polkadot spandex for the shell and black spandex for lining

The bathing suit featured here is, of course, the Papercut Patterns Soma one piece. I've had this pattern for awhile now - and I bought it last summer with the intention of making a bathing suit for my honeymoon. Long story short - that didn't work out, and I went the Victoria's Secret website sale route instead. In preparation for my first run at this pattern, I bought some fabric from Girl Charlee - it was cute but thin, shifty and I think I somehow cut my bikini top pieces the wrong way (I put the top on and it didn't stretch at all!). I also made a one piece, but the torso was too long (I've recently discovered my shortwaisted-ness) and I never finished it (and cannibalized the hardware for this suit!).

Fast forward to a few months ago when I was gifted some Funkifabrics spandex (and btw this post is not affiliated with them, I just used my Monettie scraps to make this suit). The Funkifabrics spandex is, however, wonderful for a bathing suit and I would totally buy more for this purpose. The fabric is thick and stable when cutting and sewing. Plus, you only need a yard or so - so you can save on cost and maybe shipping. Yay!

I made this up basically as instructed, but I shortened the wrap bodice pattern piece by an inch. I also used the hell out of my cover stitch machine, which I think really made this bathing suit look more professional.

I also added swim cups, and sewed them into the lining. It was a really similar process to my Moneta/Nettie Maxi dress - I just sort of guessed the location based on where the bodice pieces sat on my dress form and my body, pinned them in and zig zagged. I got the cups from Porcelynne.

I did change the construction a bit on this suit - I used swim elastic for the bottoms and waist, but I used bra strapping for all of the straps and bodice, which was a giant mistake. This is partly a fault of the pattern instructions, and partly my fault. The instructions call for FOE to be used on the bodice - but I didn't really like that on my first version last year - so I ended up using bra strapping for all the bodice elastic (the pattern calls for it to be used on the shoulder and back straps but not on the bodice itself). The bra strapping ended up stretching out so much while swimming, that I can't really wear this suit again :(

In the future, I would probably use only swimwear elastic for the entire suit and I'll probably use Sophie's tutorial to create actual swim straps using swim elastic. I think I might even have enough fabric still leftover (the yardage was very wide) to create another one piece to replace this one - I love the polka dots so much!

I also changed the arrangement of the straps on the back - creating the crossover across the upper back, rather than the lower back as called for in the instructions. Placing the straps across the lower back resulted in some, um, bits getting squeezed in an unflattering way, so I switched them up. I would actually like to find a better way to do the straps in general in the future, as I don't really like the over arm shoulder straps - but they're necessary to the construction as it is now.

Overall, despite the future unwearability of this specific bathing suit - it was a really fun exercise. I've never made a bra or a successful swimsuit before this one, and I will definitely make more in the future (plus I can practice more with elastic when I finally make up my Watson bra kit - she's sold out now, but that's where I got mine).
Bonus action shot!!

Have you made a bathing suit before? Any tips (besides using real swim elastic)? Any plans to make one this summer? :D

June 5, 2015


It's Jeremy's turn for some handmade clothing! I will admit to being a bit selfish (well, very selfish) in my sewing, but I really do love sewing for him - and seeing him wear clothing I made!

Right before our trip last month, I made Jeremy two new collared shirts from McCalls 6613. I've made so many of them for him (probably something like 15, and I'm making a green one currently), and now they're fairly easy to crank out in about 7 hours or so. You can see a whole bunch of them in this Handmade Honeymoon post :D

These two shirts actually serve as replacements for a previous white linen version, and a blue linen version. I think they might even be the same exact fabrics - both from Michael Levine. I also recently discovered the joys of Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen (which seems about the same as the Essex linen after I felt some at Michael Levine last week) - and we just bought 15.5 yards!!! All of that yardage will make two shirts for me (one a Pauline Alice Carme which is already completed) and five more shirts for Jeremy!

Not much more to say about these shirts that I haven't said before, other than linen shirts make fine vacation wear - especially when it's hot outside! After hanging them, any wrinkles seem to fall out from packing, or they just add to the "linen look." Linen is also super easy, and fun, to sew with. It presses well, sews up nicely, and stays put when you're cutting, sewing and ironing.

Both of these shirts are straight size larges from McCalls 6613 - the absolute most tried and true pattern in our household. After making so many, I have noticed a bit of an uptick in my craftsmanship on these two... mainly just that I (finally) properly trimmed all seam allowances, and my topstitching is looking much straighter than some earlier versions (thanks to Ginger Jeans practice!).

As I've probably said before, if you're looking for a classic button up (with several design options) - this pattern is a great one! Men also happen to be easier to fit than women, which is a major plus if you want to make one for a man in your life!

The blue linen shirt pictured was taken at Hawksnest Bay, post sunset swim - and is where we took the Cascade photos from the other day.

We took photos of the white linen shirt on the road outside our cottage - we stayed in the same cottage as our last trip. It's about a mile up a dirt/rock road (4WD Jeeps are a must in St. John!) - but the views cannot be beat! If you're ever looking to travel to St. John - send me an email and I'll give you more information.

June 2, 2015


HELLO!!!! It's been so, so long since I've written a post - but I had a good reason... vacation!! Do you ever get so wrapped up with the idea of sewing clothing that you "need" to make, but then realize that you have enough? I had to come to that realization before our trip... I had plenty to wear on a 7 day vacation, and much of it brand spanking new (and off of my Spring Wardrobe Plan - which I'm still slogging through...).

For some background, we went to St. John, USVI a little over 2 years ago for the first time - and it was absolutely amazing. St. John is pretty small, but it has many beaches, and they pretty much all have great snorkeling. There's also a good combination of rocky beaches, white sand beaches, tiny beaches where the ocean is booming with fish, and beaches with swim up bars (okay, only one of those). We decided to make a 2nd trip to St. John this year, and it was just as beautiful as we remembered. Funnily enough, we actually ended up with mostly photos of new Handmade Threads as reminders of our trip! So let's get to it...


Pattern: Megan Nielsen Cascade
Size: Large
Alterations: Went with the tie front option, leveled the hem
Fabric: Ikat Rayon Poplin from Fabric.com
Blogged previously here
This is absolutely one of my favorite skirts! I love this pattern, and particularly this fabric (it's rayon but thicker than rayon challis). It's perfect for the beach or something much fancier (a different day, I actually changed into this in a parking lot post-sunset swim for dinner - yay for wrap skirts!).
Not terribly much more to say about it than what I said before, just that this skirt is literally a 3 hour (or less) affair - so simple to make, and I think the wow-factor is really there. For my other two versions of this skirt, I added an elastic stay of sorts underneath, but for some reason this front tie version doesn't blow open quite as much. I guess I'll put this to the test with more wear. :D
As for the beach, we took these photos at Hawksnest Bay, on the north side of the island. It's very popular during the day, and we even tried to swim here one day, but it was too crowded. Luckily at sunset, hardly anyone was there! Jeremy and I discovered the joys of the sunset swim a little too late into our trip, and only did it 2 nights.

Pattern: Sewaholic Saltspring
Size: 12 (bust) / 8 (waist/hip)
Alterations: Made braided straps inspired by Caroline, cut only the lining pieces (for both lining and shell), eliminated zipper
Fabric: Striped knit from Michael Levine Loft
Blogged previously here
In my Spring Wardrobe Plan, I wanted to use this fabric for a Eucalypt variation, but after re-discovering this pattern and the release of Southport and my Monettie hack, most of my knit plans got thrown out the window. I picked this fabric up at Michael Levine Loft on a day where I had so much luck! I love the stripes, and they had a few more colorways and I wish I'd bought them all. 
I decided to modify the straps to make a braided version, and essentially just cut about 1" wide strips, and braided them together. I sewed the straps into the back first, and pinned them into place on the front before sewing. I made essentially one size smaller than what I should be using for woven fabrics (read more about my previous saga here). It worked perfectly! This is definitely one of my new favorite dresses, and it worked well as a beach cover up - but I can't wait to wear it more around town this summer. 
We took these photos at a new-to-us beach - Little Lameshur Bay. It's a white sand beach, a mile down a very rocky dirt road. There's a reason you have to rent a 4WD Jeep in St. John! We also explored some of the ruins nearby - St. John historically had sugar farming/processing, and the ruins here are from the Lameshur Bay Plantation. 

Size: 12
Alterations: Made this woven dress with knit fabric, nonfunctional button placket
Fabric: Gray t-shirt knit from Michael Levine Loft
As I said above, Kelli's release of the Southport dress essentially put all my spring sewing plans into jeopardy - if only because I wanted about 200 of these dresses (I just finished my third version)! My first version (which is unblogged) was made from voile in a size 14 and was too big. I had a bit of a realization that I needed not only a smaller size, but that I also might be shortwaisted! I removed the skirt, shortened the bodice, brought up the shoulders, and now it's wearable.
For my knit version, I cut a size 12 and left the bodice length, as I didn't mind the idea of blousing. I sewed down the button placket, and sewed the buttons through both layers. Making this pattern in a knit wasn't overly difficult, but I found my cover stitch machine to be essential to making it look polished. For the neck and arm holes, I used wonder tape to fold under the edges by 1/4" and cover stitched them down. I also attached the bottom of the drawstring channel by cover stitching. I probably could've used a regular stitch though, because this doesn't stretch. I also finished the hem with my cover stitch machine. The waistband tie is just some flat trim/tie from Joann's. 
This day we went to Leinster Bay where we saw a lot of great fish, snorkeled/swam fairly far from the beach to a nearby cay (little island), and saw a 4' barracuda twice! I was relieved we didn't see the sharks and sting rays we saw 2 years ago at this beach, even though that was pretty cool. The ruins at Leinster Bay are from the Annaberg Sugar Mill that was here in the 18th century. There's a lot of history here (including unfortunately slavery - but a revolt here helped lead to its abolishment).  A volunteer guide at the site told us that now in St. John they purposefully make buildings look like these do (with exposed brick and coral blocks), even though these buildings would've been traditionally whitewashed. 

Stay tuned for more vacation makes (including a lot for Jeremy)! Where did you go on your favorite vacation of all time?