Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Burda D-Ring Pencil Skirt in Basic Black

My last project for the PatternReview mini wardrobe was this Burda skirt from 2019. It's a blend of pattern 109 & 110 from the November issue -- the length & back vent of 109 but the D-ring feature from 110. It was also my muslin for my intended fabric, a checkerboard canvas print, which I am planning to also make a matching jacket for because who doesn't want a checkerboard suit?

Anyhow, this first black version was made of some suiting that I thrifted a while ago, very nice quality. I cut a 44, but found that I needed to take the waist in by nearly 3" -- partly because I can't stand skirts that sit below the natural waistline. Size 44 fit very well everywhere else so just narrowing the waist was the main adjustment I made. I trimmed down the side seams by 1/2" on each side and took some width in on either side of the zip. For future, I adjusted the pattern so that the back width is reduced by increasing the dart intake, not trimming the zip edges! 

It's fully lined, and the Burda instructions have you attach the lining to the other edge of the folded waistband, flip it all inside and then topstitch the waistband seam from the front to finish. I hate that; it is so messy and frustrating! Next time I'm just going to use my favoured technique of basting the lining to the skirt at the top edge, then attaching the waistband. Much tidier in the end, at least for me. It just means you have to think ahead about finishing the lining edge at the zip, but that's pretty easy. 

But as a wearable muslin it worked out, and I love the cute little D-Ring accent in the front. Those are just tabs that you sew into the waistband but they give it a great look. Again, slant pockets, which I love. I really like the shape and fit of this pattern and think that with my adjustments it might be a go-to. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Weekend Review: Wear, Repair, Repurpose


Wear, Repair, Repurpose / Lily Fulop
NY: Countryman Press, c2020
160 p.

This cute little book about mending was published last year, alongside a bunch of other mending books now that it's becoming a trend. But this one is a fun one by a young instagrammer (@mindful_mending) and is clearly aimed at those really new to the idea. 

It has sections on visible mending, darning, patching, basics like sewing on a button or repairing a split seam, and starts with an overview of techniques (including standard embroidery stitches) and basic tools needed. It's clear, simple, and not overwhelming for someone totally new to the sewing world. The layout is also good -- attractively designed, with coloured text blocks and good illustrations and clear photos. The images aren't necessarily gorgeous and styled but I like them more for their everydayness. 

The second section of the book is more about repurposing/upcycling. This is more unusual, and it's fun. She covers projects like rag rugs, patchwork pillows, applique, knitting/crocheting and even latch hooking. This section starts by showing readers how to make t-shirt yarn out of worn out clothes and then use them for these projects. A bath mat from latch hooked t-shirt yarn sounds really great, actually - very washable and so soft on the feet! There are also tiny projects like how to use t-shirt yarn to make pompoms and tassels, and she recommends checking online for more ideas and techniques too. 

It's a very relaxed book, with a casual, friendly tone, and will probably appeal to those new to the concept of remaking and mending. There is discussion of sustainability and fast fashion, and how the author came to this field, and that also adds to the appeal of the book. If you already sew or have read a lot in this area there'll be not much new to add here -- this is a basic intro for younger beginners. It's not an in-depth hand-holding instructional, rather it's more of an overview and an introduction to possibilities for mending and upcycling and why you should care about it. I found it a quick read with some interesting content!

Friday, October 15, 2021

Literary Sewing Circle: Sun Down Motel Inspiration!


It's time for some more sewing inspiration for our Sun Down Motel readalong! Today we're looking at Carly's contemporary timeline. I'll start with characters and see what we might want to make. 

Carly is our main character in this timeline, and one of the first times we see her she describes herself for us:

"I looked down at myself: worn jeans, old boots that laced up the ankles, black t-shirt that said BOOKS ARE MY LIFE beneath a stretched out hoodie, messenger bag. Add my dark-rimmed glasses and ponytail and I was pretty much a cliché."

We'll start with the Carly Cardigan by Treasurie. It's not quite a stretched out hoodie, but it is a knit sweater, so pretty close! 

To really catch Carly's student look here we could also make the Carly Bag by IThinkSew, a very messenger bag influenced shape, although a little more compact. Enlarge it a smidge and add a zip-covering flap and you'd have a classic messenger bag. 

A little later on, Carly heads to the public library to investigate some newspaper articles, and thinks she might be mistaken for one of the local students as she was wearing "jeans, my lace-up boots, and a sweater under a waist length jacket, my hair in its usual ponytail". Perhaps that waist-length jacket was something cool like the Carly Aviator Jacket by Style Arc (which is a little more hip length, but close!)

Carly's roommate Heather is also intrigued by the mystery of Viv's disappearance, and agrees to help Carly out. On first meeting, Heather is wearing a big poncho, and when they go to the Sun Down Motel for the first time together, she changes to a black puffer coat. Carly notes that she thinks Heather is always cold. 

Maybe she'd be comfortable in a cozy knit Heather Dress by Sew Over It. Made up in a sweatshirt fabric and worn with leggings, it would keep her toasty.

Or if she made it in a lighter weight knit and needed an extra layer, she might toss on the Heather Blazer by Friday Pattern Company, made in a cozy wool blend.

If you're a knitter, you might also want to try creating the Heather Poncho by Deborah Cowell, for a really direct influence! 

When Carly meets Nick Harkness at the Sun Down Motel, she finds an ally, one who she is also interested in in other ways. Nick fixes the vending machine and while doing so, Carly talks to him about the events at the motel. However she can't help but be distracted a bit by the way his arms look in his t-shirt. The obvious choice here is to make the Nico Raglan Tee by Jalie, a classic for men & boys! 

Or you might just want to take a hint from the whole storyline and make up this Drama Dress by George & Ginger! 

And now, moving on to some of the settings in Carly's timeline, and how they might inspire us. First off, of course, is the Sun Down Motel itself. The retro vibe of it might appear in fabric choices or silhouettes. 

You might try a novelty print dress in something like this On the Road vintage cotton:

Or a summer dress called the Summer Sundown, a free pattern by So Sew Easy. The photo is even taken by a pool, yikes! 

Or perhaps some home decor inspired by Motel Keys, like this pillow by Lucky Spool.

If you want to recreate something in direct homage, check out this vintage motel dimensional embroidery project found at Sew Daily! Just change that "Starlite" to "Sun Down" and you'll have a reminder of this creepy locale whenever you want it ;) 

Then there is the diner in which Carly, Heather, and Nick meet to discuss what's going on, and where Carly meets people from Viv's timeline in their later years. This could be reflected in fabrics or pattern choices as well. 

Another novelty print, this Route 66 fabric found on Etsy covers motels and diners alike

This slightly more sedate "Arnold's Diner" novelty print found on EBay might be a little more to your taste

Or maybe you'll just take a Diner influence and make the Muse Melissa Dress, which has a hint of retro waitress uniform to it. In the right fabrics you could serve up a soda, no problem!

Carly also spends a lot of time at the Fell Central Library, researching newspaper articles from the 80s in their archive room. As she says: 
Libraries were my places. I was that girl who maxed out her library card every week, starting with The Hobbit and The Witch of Blackbird Pond and moving up from there. I could kill an hour by wandering into an unfamiliar part of the Dewey Decimal System and checking it out. Computers, card catalogs, microfiches -- I could navigate them all.
Perhaps some newspapery/library influences can be found here. You might use the new Bookish collection by Sharon Holland to whip up a cute cotton dress or top. I like the Passport design, but many of these are fabulous! Page Turner is a more sedate colourway that could be used for a nice blouse, I think.

Bookish - Passport

Bookish - Page Turner

Or maybe you want to go more on theme with this newsprint clippings cotton, that looks kind of like a pile of printouts that Carly might have stacked up on a table. 

If you're more into home decor, there are tons of bookish quilts and wall hanging patterns designed by Heather Givans, also quite famous for her library related fabric prints. This Book Club quilt is a great idea for our sewing book club, don't you think? 

To finish it off, you could whip up this easy Academie Cardigan by The Eli Montster, as a nod to Carly's studying in the library. 

Or if you're more inclined toward something in crochet for the fall, check out this Reading Room Sweater at AllFreeCrochet. 

Whichever you choose, and whatever your project may turn out to be, I hope this has inspired you in some way! If you have further ideas, feel free to share them in the comments to inspire other readers, too. 

Next week, we'll learn a little more about our author. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Maria Denmark's Kirsten Tee, Take Three

Another simple tee to wear under jackets for my Fall wardrobe! This is a very good quality jersey that I picked up at a garage sale a few years ago, from a really nice man who had been a tailor and was moving house. I found a lot of excellent fabric there. 

I only had a small piece though, so thought about which pattern to use for a long time. I finally just went with the Kirsten, as I have made it twice before, and wear those simple tees a lot. I found while I was home a lot I was reaching for them often. 

I really like the fit of this one -- now that I've made my adjustments, that is. As drafted it is pretty straight up and down so if you have a larger lower half like me, you'll probably want to add width at the hip. The first one I made was very tight, so I added wedges of extra fabric to each side, then altered the pattern piece itself for future makes. I added 1.5" to each side seam at the hem, making a gradual slope up to meet the original seamline just under the arm. This gives me 3 extra inches on each side, which fits me smoothly, not too tight or too loose. So be aware if you don't like negative ease at your hip/belly area. 

The neckband worked out almost right this time. I miscalculated and didn't cut my strip short enough so after I'd stitched it on (even though I was planning on basting it on to test first) I realized it had a bit of floppy excess at the shoulder areas. Grr. But I didn't want to unpick it all on this fabric and redo if I didn't have to. (Pro tip: don't sew when overtired). 

Anyhow, I took a trick from the Mandy Boat Tee by Tessuti and just put a shoulder dart into the neckband at each side (only about 1/2" in total each). This allows the neckband to sit flat at the shoulder line and with the print you don't even notice it. Whew, easy fix! As it turns out I did the same at the back centre but the print disguises the dart line well. It looks better than having a bubble sagging out at the back neckline! I'm glad this worked out with all my tweaks and that I can wear this lovely fabric. I'll think of the gentleman I bought it from each time I wear it. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada so I'm taking the long weekend off -- no review today! If you are also Canadian, then Happy Thanksgiving to you, and be sure to eat a lot and relax :) 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Literary Sewing Circle: Sun Down Motel Book Talk!

We have jumped right into the Literary Sewing Circle round for this fall! Today's the day for some beginning book talk! How are you doing with the book? Have you started it yet? Finished it? Do you have any reactions you'd like to share? 

Here are a few questions to ponder today and for the next while -- whether you have begun reading, or you've only read blurbs & author interviews so far and still have something to say, join in! Although there might be a few spoilers in the questions and discussion below so if you haven't got too far yet you might want to come back to this post.

I'll add some of my own thoughts and you can reply to them or add your own impressions. If you want to hear other takes on a part of the book that you are curious about, leave your own questions in the comments, too. 

If you decided to pick up this book and read it for this round, why? Do you usually like spooky books like this or is this a new genre for you? 

I don't usually like books that are TOO scary. This one was just right for me, gave me shivers (especially when reading at night) but didn't freak me out or have too graphic or gory bits in it. I have a low tolerance for horror so this is about as scary as I get ;)

What do you think of the dual timeline? Does it work for you? Do you prefer one over the other? 

I liked the dual timeline and the way that they interact. Of course, I enjoyed the 80s a lot as that one of my favourite decades, and also because I found Viv slightly more interesting than Carly. One effect of the timeline shifts is that there is a fair bit of repetition of some of the content, which is unavoidable. But overall I liked the way the two stories interact and come together in the end. 

Why do you think Vivian and Carly might both have made the decision to stay employed on the night shift at a haunted, creepy motel? Would you have done the same? Would you have made a different choice?

Yeah, this was funny to me -- if I was the main character in this book, the story would have been over in the second chapter. One night like Viv's first ghostly encounter and I'd have been out of there and on a bus to NY City. I can understand, with their character development and their fascination with true crime, why they would stay...but I would not have done the same!

Most of the characters in this story are women, and their stories are the primary focus here. Do you feel a stronger draw to a specific character, and if so, do you feel more intrigued by them as they appear in the 80s or in the present day?

I loved how women's experiences were primary here. Viv's relationship with her mother and sister, Carly's own family experience and fascination with the story of her aunt, all the women who were killed and their stories -- everything showed many sides of women's lives and how women are always the ones expected to "be careful" and take precautions - men are never expected to take a role in managing their own actions or those of other men. I feel that this theme is very timely right now, and hope that someday this dynamic will change. 

Both Viv and Carly are compelled to investigate missing women and their stories. What did you think of their actions as amateurs/true crime aficionados? 

I would have called in the police long before either of these two would have even thought of it. However, the police didn't seem too interested in what happened to the women that Viv was investigating so I can see why she got obsessed and couldn't just ignore it, especially when she felt that she was hot on the trail. Carly, on the other hand, could have gotten some help or at least information on the guy she felt creeped out by before he started stalking her.

The women who were murdered are described differently by the media. How does this reflect the way that victims are described even today? What part do you think that plays in Viv's determination to discover the truth?

As noted, the police in Viv's timeline seemed perfunctory about the murder investigation, especially for the women who weren't "beloved wife and mother". This says a lot about the value placed on women's lives, which feels like it hasn't changed very much, in many ways. Viv's sense of justice for the women involved drove her to continue investigating, and with Betty's constant presence spooking up the joint, Viv can't forget her mission. I could appreciate how she took the investigation - and justice - into her own hands, since nobody else was doing anything about it.

Is there anything specific  in the book that has sparked an idea for a project yet? Are you mulling over any ideas?

It's still early days so I only have some vague ideas, maybe based on some of the 80s inspiration I've already shared -- or maybe on something in Carly's timeline, and the places she hangs out. I'll be sharing a bit of Carly-based inspo next week so maybe you'll get more ideas then as well. If you've thought of a project idea so far, feel free to share in the comments - along with your thoughts on these questions, or other elements of the book.

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Burda in Red

I decided to participate in Pattern Review's September mini wardrobe contest, and so made two skirts to go with the black and white tops I was making. I had this red ponte in the stash and realized it was the exact red of the print in my Kirsten tee. So I chose a Burda skirt pattern from 1992 that I'd been wanting to try, and made it up. 

I made a few changes since the pattern was drafted for wovens. I cut a 42 instead of my regular 44, and I left out the back kick pleat. Not really necessary with the stretch in the fabric, and the length (I made it a touch shorter than intended by the pattern). 

It has slant pockets - my favourite kind - and an elastic waist. I used some random red poly lining material from the stash for the interior of the pocket, for its lightweight nature and how soft it feels. 

The waistband has two channels for 3/4" elastic and honestly it was the most aggravating part of the whole process. Pulling elastic through those small channels of heavy material was very laborious, and my safety pin opened halfway on the first go and I had to wiggle the whole thing out, arghhhhh! Anyhow, I finally finished it and think it's pretty good overall.

I am reminded that I don't love elastic waists like this, as they add bulk to my waistline which is already crowded into my short body. I like the skirt otherwise, and with a top over the waist (like the Rachel), or a belt added, I am happy with it. I love the bright colour and this ponte should hold up for a while. I think I will get some fun wear out of this bright project.