Refreshing an old coat by recovering the buttons

I’ve had this DKNY coat for several years. When I bought it, the raw edges were trimmed with pleather as were the buttons. After a few years, the pleather bias tape began peeling. I still liked the coat so I removed all the bias trim and replaced it with premade black bias tape I found at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. It was a synthetic fabric that had a sheen to it that make it somewhat similar to the pleather – and hopefully would last a bit longer. That was my first go at refreshing an old coat.

DKNY coat with covered buttons

A few years later, the pleather on the buttons was peeling and looked rather unsightly. So it was time for another refresh – this time it would be the buttons. Nearly all of themlooked like this:

worn out coat button

I bought a 1/4 yard of some very nice Italian polyester from Britex Fabrics. I thought I could pry apart the buttons and replace the pleather.

But they were custom buttons with a plastic backing. I couldn’t pry them apart without damaging the back. I used pliers and tried to coax the pieces apart but they wouldn’t budge. Darn.

Plastic button back

The other alternative was to purchase covered buttons and make new ones. I like covered buttons (see the covered butons I made for a top). However, these buttons weren’t a standard size. They were about 1 3/8 inches (3.5 cm) – in between the standard sizes for covered button kits. The other thing about covered button kits is that the back of the button is silver, which wouldn’t look great. Black is better.

So I opted to cover the original buttons the old-fahsioned way. I cut circles of fabric, hemmed the raw edges by hand and then sewed a gathering stitch. I placed the button in the center of my circle, pulled the threads tight and then stitched around the gathering to ensure that it stayed in place.

Covering coat buttonsn with new fabric by hand - CSews.com

I’m happy with the way they turned out. It took a couple nights in front of the television to finish. I should also mention that for my first button cover, I cut too large of a circle of fabric. After I gathered the fabrics, the gathering was too close to the button shank. I didn’t have enough room to maneuver my needle to sew the button on.

As you can see below, the button at the botton has too much fabric; the one on top was made with a smaller circle of fabric, leaving enough space for the needle to reach the shank and sew the button on my coat.

Refreshed coat buttons - CSews.com

Here’s a close-up look at my refreshed buttons. There was one that wasn’t peeling so I left it as is. It’s the one on the left in the second row. I covered six buttons altogether. (One button was missing when I got the coat so I replaced it with a slighter smaller button. It wasn’t a functional button.)

Refreshed coat - covered the buttons with new fabric

And here’s a view of me wearing the coat with my newly covered buttons.

Refreshing an old coat by recovering the buttons

It’s nice when you can refresh an old coat and continue to wear it. Have you refreshed an old garment? What did you do to make it wearable?

Sewing cake and frosting over the holidays

I’m looking forward to finishing some projects and getting started on some new ones. I plan on sewing cake and frosting.

Happy holidays! Will you be sewing over the holiday break? I hope to take advantage of some time to sew. I’ve been too busy lately to do much sewing or blogging. So I’m looking forward to finishing some projects and getting started on some new ones. I plan on sewing cake and frosting. (See Heather Lou’s post on her Sew Frosting challenge.)

Here are my potential sewing plans for next week. I am considering it a wish list as opposed to a task list because I don’t want to feel bad if I don’t finish everything – and I may not get to everything.

Sewing cake projects underway

New Look 6838

This pattern that has been in my stash for a while. (I couldn’t find it on the Simplicity website so I think it’s OOP.) I love boat necks and knit tops so that’s why I picked up this pattern at Joann’s a while ago.

I am making top A, which has 3/4 sleeves, size L. I had this houndstooth jersey leftover (see photo below) from making my wrap pants (V9191) and I had just enough for the body and I found some black jersey in my stash for the sleeves.

New Look 6838 - knit top and pants - sewing plans

All I need to do is hem the bottom and shorten the sleeves, which are too long for 3/4 sleeves. The hem is about an inch above my wrist so they look like long sleeves that are a little too short. (Side note: Did you know that 3/4 length sleeves are just below the elbow and 7/8 sleeves are a few inches below that?) I’ll write a separate post about this top later.

Vintage Vogue reissue of 1960 top

I made a skirt from this beautiful cotton print for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February earlier this year. Here’s the only good photo I have of the skirt where you can really see the fabric – a splurge purchase from Britex several years ago. I love the watercolor look of this fabric.

Blue floral print A-line skirt - CSews.com

I had less than a yard leftover but I thought I could squeeze out version A of this sleeveless top (V9187, a vintage Vogue reissue from 1960). The idea was to make it seem like I was wearing a dress. But I ran out of time to finish it in time for Frocktails.

V9187 - Vintage Vogue reissue - design from 1960 - sewing plans - CSews.com

I made one quick muslin and needed to adjust the bust. Luckily it had princess seams, which makes it easy to adjust. But I am fitting it on myself, which means incremental adjustments. Also, the pattern has all these facings for the neckline and armhole, plus a center back zipper.

I didn’t have enough fabric to cut facings from my fashion fabric so I decided I would line it instead. So I had to figure out how to put together some of the back pattern pieces to create the lining pieces.

The other change I made was to move the back zipper to a side zipper. I don’t want a zipper in the back because it’s designed for a separating zipper and I don’t see how I could put it on by myself.

Where I last left it, is that I went ahead and cut my fashion fabric, crossing my fingers that my last bust adjustments would work. I still need to figure out the back lining pieces. Then I can start sewing it.

Sew frosting projects to start

Skirt for Frocktails

For the last two Frocktails in February event, I made skirts at the last minute. For the 2019 Frocktails, I’d like to spend more than a day throwing it togther. In 2017, I modified a Deer & Doe skirt pattern, removing a few of the pleats and making an adjustable waist with a ribbon tie. Here’s a photo of that skirt and a link to the blog post, My adjustable waist Deer & Doe Chardon.

Deer and Doe Chardon - modified by removing two front pleats and adding a ribbon to give it an adjustable waistband

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know this is one of my favorite skirt patterns. I’ve made it multiple times. I like this modification so I’m thinking of doing a variation of this with the Marimekko fabric in my stash (see last month’s Sew Frosting post on the fabric). But I want to make a longer midi-length skirt.

I’ve also been browsing Pinterest for additional skirt ideas. Here are a few images that caught my eye.

This skirt is by Asos and is described as a high-waisted midi prom skirt. (Really? Prom skirt?) I have a 2-inch wide Petersham ribbon that I’d like to use for my skirt and make it an adjustable waist again. I like the center placement of this ribbon and the way the skirt has a bit of a paper bag waist. I’ll need a facing that will be a little stiff to make sure it stays up.

Asos - high-waisted midi prom skirt - sewing plans

I like the inverted pleats on this skirt. (Sorry, I didn’t note the source. )

High-waisted skirt with inverted pleats - sewing plans

Long Pilvi Coat

Ever since I saw images on Pinterest of the 2017 Valentino collection, I’ve wanted to make a long jacket with the hem near my ankles. A long red jacket would a combination of sewing cake and frosting.

Valentino - 2017 - sewing plans

I got a few yards of red ponte in New York earlier this year to make another Pilvi Coat. I want to use it to make a long red jacket with side vents. Or maybe I should try another pattern. I’ve made the Pilvi four times using different fabrics:

So maybe it’s time to check out a new pattern. But since I know this pattern so well, it won’t take long to make it. Plus I’d be making some modifications – adding length and side vents.

What are your sewing plans? Are you sewing cake or frosting over the holidays?

Clothes Closet Confessions

Hi, during Slow Fashion October, I did some thinking about my clothes closet. I took this photo earlier this month (a brief glimpse of my closet). It’s getting crowded so I’ve contemplated doing a KonMari on my closet but the thought of taking everything out and going through old clothes has been a bit daunting. The closet pole is full so I’ve hooked my Pilvi Coats and other jackets on the crates on the shelf above. It’s a mess. Here are some of what I’ll call my clothes closet confessions:

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo I bought Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (affiliate link) but I haven’t read it. The closest I got to the book was reading this 2015 New York magazine profile on Kondo, which is what made me buy the book. Who doesn’t want more “spark joy” in their life?
  2. Over the years, I have given clothes and shoes to Goodwill (job training) and Out of the Closet (benefits AIDS Healthcare Foundation). But in 2012, after reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline (affiliate link), I stopped buying fast fashion and stopped donating clothes. Donated clothes often end up in a landfill, with textile recyclers, or sold overseas. (Read my review of the book.)
  3. I have pants from five or so years ago that are now a bit too tight. My subconscious still thinks that someday I will magically lose the 20+ pounds I’ve gained and be able to wear them again.
  4. I have clothes that I don’t want to give away because I’ve told myself I can refashion them. I get inspired by Sarah Tyau’s posts on Instagram (@sarahtyau). I even bought a felted wool sweater from Goodwill with the intention of making it into a handbag. But I still have not done any upcycling.
  5. As a participant in the 2018 RTW Fast, I haven’t bought any new clothes this year. I thought it would give me more incentive to make some pants but so far, pants have not quite made it into the sewing queue. I’ve made skirts, tops and a jacket. I have a pile of pants patterns and accumulated fabrics for pants. Part of my hesitation is that I have gained weight and if I make pants, I have to fit them to my current body. And I think, “Hmmm, what if I lose weight? Then I’ll have to start all over again with fitting. So do I make pants with an elastic waist? Are there good patterns with elastic waists?”

Pants patterns

If you have any pants pattern suggestions, let me know. I do have this Vogue pattern – V1464 – Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina, which I like because it doesn’t have a waistband and it’s similar to a pair of RTW pants that are getting rather worn out. (V1464 is now out of print but I’m sure you can find it on Etsy or Amazon.)

V1464 - Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina, Vogue pattern

I also have this Butterick jeans pattern. I want to make the trouser jeans – version E. Both of these pants have been on my list for a while. In fact, I mentioned both patterns in my 2017 Make Nine blog post. (sigh) Well, sometimes it takes while to get to going – especially when new patterns are released. It’s all too easy to get distracted by the next new thing.

B5682 - Butterick sewing pattern - jeans

Where to donate clothes

But I digress – so back to the challenge is what to do with the clothes you don’t really want any more? Look for nonprofit organizations in your community that will make sure your clothes go to people who need them. For example, I searched “donate clothes oakland” and found Wardrobe for Opportunity, which “provides low-income job seekers with professional attire for interviews and work.”

I think some of my business attire pants can go there. They are not accepting any new donations until January 2019 so check back then and see when their next curbside drop-off will occur.

You can also donate business attire to Dress for Success, which is an “international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” There’s an affiliate in San Francisco.

What about nonbusiness attire? Find a local clothing swap or maybe an upcycle or refashion meetup and see if they’ll take your clothes. At least you’ll know that someone will actually do something with them.

Gently worn or new shoes can go to Soles for Souls, which lets you send shoes via Zappos for Good or by dropping them off at a DSW store (you get 50 DSW VIP points for your donation).

Side note: It is tempting to donate clothes to fire victims in California but the best way to help them is to donate money to a reputable charity. Then the funds will go to whatever their immediate needs are (food, shelter, etc.).

What do you do with clothes you no longer wear? Please share your ideas!

Sweater knit fabric and Olgalyn’s online course

Hi, I’ve blogged about Olgalyn Jolly’s online course “How to Cut and Sew a Sweater.” If you haven’t read that post, here’s a little background on how I know Olgalyn, a sweater knit designer and teacher. Nearly two years ago I interviewed Olgalyn, on my blog and hosted a giveaway of a sweater knit fabric kit. I had been following her blog and her Instagram account  (@ojolly) for a while and met her in person on a trip to New York in 2016.

Sweater knit fabric from O! Jolly!

Earlier that year, I had also purchased the lovely 100 percent cotton sweater knit fabric featured in the above photo and later decided to get some matching ribbing from Olgalyn, which she kindly delivered in person when I met her. (You can still but the ribbing from one of her online shops.)

Cotton ribbing - O! Jolly! sweater knit

Olgalyn is just as lovely in person as she appears in her photos. She also blogs about cutting and sewing sweater knit fabrics on her blog O! Jolly! Crafting Fashion.

Olgalyn Jolly in sweater she sewed

I’m writing again about her online course because she is reopening registration this weekend, offering a 20 percent discount from Saturday, September 29 to Monday, October 1! The regular price is is $59 – with the discount, it’s just $47.20 (affiliate link: How to Cut and Sew a Sweater, regular price now but still worth the price). When Olgalyn asked me if I wanted to be an affiliate again, I immediately said yes.

I’ve had time to watch each lesson and feel so much more comfortable about cutting and sewing the fabric I bought from her. There really isn’t any other online course available that focuses specifically on sweater knit fabric, which is not the same as jersey knit or other knit fabric.

Olgalyn is great at explaining how to find the right size pattern for your fabric – it’s a combination of looking at the finished pattern size and the stretch and recovery of your fabric. Here’s an image from her online course:

Stretch and recovery of sweater knit fabric

She very clearly explains every step for how to cut and sew sweater knit fabric, including:

  • how to mark your fabric,
  • basting vs. pinning,
  • what type of pins to use,
  • sewing pattern suggestions,
  • how to finish your seam allowances,
  • how to finish your necklines and hems,
  • and how to care for your fabric.

I wish her course had been available when I tried to sew a cardigan for my husband a while ago and it ended up being too big! Now I know where I went wrong. 😉

Plus she include many files for you to download – everything from a “Sweater Sewing Guide,” which she describes as “An outline and checklist for planning the construction of your sweater”  to helpful worksheets.

I really appreciate the time and care she took in putting this course together. And that’s why I wanted to help spread the word about Olgalyn’s course. If you’ve ever wanted to sew sweater knit fabric, you’ll find this online course to be an invaluable resource.

Once again, to get a 20 percent discount on the course, click on this (affiliate) link (or on the image below) from Saturday, September 29 to Monday, October 1. This discount is no longer available but you can still register for the course at this affiliate link. I think it’s a great value at $59. Olgalyn is an excellent teacher.

How to cut and sew a sweater - Olgalyn Jolly

Toaster Sweater 2 – big print ponte fabric

Hi, I had big leftover scraps of this large-print ponte fabric after I made my fourth Pilvi Coat earlier this year. So I thought, why not make another Toaster Sweater 2 but make it tunic-length? You can get the pattern on the Sew House Seven website. I had also made this pattern in French terry and jersey knit – making size XL, shortening the sleeves 8 inches to make them to 3/4 length. Each of those versions has a hem that hits at the high hip.

I used the same patterns pieces as my first version with the shortened sleeves and added 5 inches of length to the front and back.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

This pattern has side vents with mitered corners. You can see the vent next to my hand in this photo. I added length below the area where the vent starts.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

Here’s my earlier version of the pattern made at the pattern’s length. You can see the vent in this photo.

Toaster Sweater - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

This fabric, which I got at Britex Fabrics‘ moving sale last fall, was easy to work with. I love the print. It looks different on each side of the garment.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

One sleeve of this Toaster Sweater 2 has more of the navy blue print on it…

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

… and the other has more white on it.

Toaster Sweater 2 - right view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

You can really see the print here.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

Here’s a closer look at the back…

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

… and the front.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

The pattern calls for finishing the hems by cover stitching or using a twin needle. I hand sewed the hems because I didn’t want any seam lines. I did the same thing for my Pilvi Coat in this fabric.

Here’s a look at my hand stitching from the inside. I switched thread colors according to the color on the right side.

Toaster Sweater 2 - tunic-length - hand hemmed - CSews.com

Here’s the right side of the front bottom hem.

Toaster Sweater 2 - big print ponte hem

I also didn’t finish my raw edges because folding it over would have made the hem a little thick and create a line like it did in the sleeve hem of my Pilvi Coat. See that faint line just above the sleeve hem? I ended up unpicking the sleeve hem on this Pilvi after this photo was taken and then hand stitching it again.

Pilvi Coat pattern placement - CSews.com

Here’s a look at one of the mitered corners of my third Toaster Sweater 2.

Toaster Sweater 2 - mitered corner - CSews.com

Ponte knit fabric doesn’t ravel so it’s fine to leave the edges raw.

And here’s one last photo of the front of this Toaster Sweater 2.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

I really like this version of the Toaster Sweater. It’s a bit too warm to wear in Berkeley right now but I’m sure it will get a lot of wear when the weather starts to cool. I could also wear it on a cool summer day in San Francisco. Summers are not very warm in San Francisco because the fog rolls in and keeps the temperature several degrees cooler than other parts of the Bay Area.

Have you made anything with a big print? What did you make?

2018 RTW fast – 6 months later

Hi, back in March, I blogged about my participation in the RTW fast hosted by Goodbye Valentino. (See 2018 RTW fast and make your stash sewing challenge.) Now that six months have passed, I thought it would be a good time to report on what I’ve made since I began the fast.

I’m happy to report that I haven’t bought any new garments this year. But it really wasn’t hard to not buy anything. I just told myself, “You have a lot of fabric and patterns. You don’t need to buy anything, just make it.”

I was hoping it would give me the push I need to make more pants (or trousers as people in the UK and Australia call them). I’ve gained a bit of weight so I need to make some that fit. Nearly all my pants are too tight. 🙁 Pants are still on the list.

I also gave myself the additional challenge of fasting from fabric buying for at least six months. And I’m happy to report that I didn’t buy any fabric from January 1 until now. But I did get one piece of fabric for free from the Bay Area Sewists fabric swap in May. (I’m the organizer for the group.)

Then the following month a Bay Area Sewists member told me that a client gave her more than 20 bins of fabric and she wanted to give it away. So I arranged a Fabric Bonanza meetup for the Bay Area Sewists. Of course, I had to check it out and got a few pieces of black fabric and a knit fabric with a fun print. I didn’t buy any fabric but I did add new fabric to my existing stash.

I haven’t had as much time to sew but here’s a collage of some of the garments I’ve made this year.

2018 RTW fast - here's what I've made so far this year - CSews.com

Clockwise from top left:

  1. A rust red hand-sewn cotton knit skirt worn with Toaster Sweater, version 2, color blocked (black with blue sleeves)
  2. Toaster Sweater, version 2 in black French terry
  3. Pilvi Coat in large-print fabric, my fourth version of this pattern from the book Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style (affiliate link)
  4. Twist-and-Drape top from the Japanese sewing book Drape Drape by Natsuno Hiraiwa (out of print, unblogged)
  5. Bias-cut skirt in a beautiful cotton print I got from Britex Fabrics years ago (unblogged)

Not pictured: Day-to-Night Drape Top by Maria Denmark (unblogged), which I bought when she had her 50 percent off moving sale. I’ll be blogging soon about the third Toaster Sweater, which I made using leftover fabric from my large-print Pilvi Coat. I made a tunic-length version.

I have more plans underway – a jacket, tops and of course, pants!

Are you participating in the RTW Fast? What have you made so far this year?

 

My mom’s last sewing machine – a Scandinavia 200

If you read my post yesterday about taking a sewing machine on a plane, then you know I now have my mom’s last sewing machine, a Husqvarna Viking Scandinavia 200. She can no longer sew because she has dementia.

When my three sisters and I were growing up, my mom made all our clothes. She also taught us how to use her sewing machine, a Singer Golden Touch. She wasn’t an expert seamstress but she knew enough to make our clothes and Halloween costumes.

Here’s a photo of us with my mom. I’m standing to the left of my mom in the red shorts.

My mom, my sisters and I wearing clothes my mom made.

Here’s a closer look at our outfits. She mostly sewed Butterick, McCall’s and Simplicity patterns. It looks like it was a hot summer day at the petting zoo.

Sisters at the zoo wearing clothes my mom made

When my parents moved from Delaware to New Jersey a few years ago, she could no longer sew. But my dad had the movers pack her Scandinavia 200, to their new home. I think sewing was so much a part of her that he didn’t think about leaving it behind. Or maybe he still couldn’t accept that she could no longer use the machine. She was still able to thread it when they lived in Delaware.

But last fall, her dementia got worse so my dad could no longer care for her by himself. She’s now in a nursing home, not far from where my dad lives. Just last year I was writing about sewing patterns for women with Alzheimer’s. We had no idea she would deteriorate so quickly.

My sisters live on the East Coast so they have been helping my dad deal with her things for the past several months. In the nursing home, she has a roommate and a small closet. So she couldn’t take much with her. My sisters have been going through her things and choosing what to sell, keep and donate.

When I was visiting in April, my dad asked me if I wanted her last machine. I immediately said yes. It’s like having a piece of my mom. I sew more than my sisters so I think everyone agreed that I was the right person to have it.

My dad didn’t have the instructions so I found a link to a PDF of the Scandinavia 200 manual.

Viking Scandinavia 200 sewing machine

It will be my first sewing machine with any electronics. My other machines are all mechanical. When I can set aside a good block of time, I will do some test stitches and play around with its capabilities. And then I will sew something for her that’s easy for her caregivers to dress her in, such as a top with snap closures in the back.

It’s weird to deal with my mom’s things when she’s still around. It’s like she’s gone but not gone. She can still recognize us most of the time, which is amazing but her ability to communicate is limited. She doesn’t talk much anymore.

One of my sisters told me that on a recent visit, she told my mom that I had her sewing machine and she smiled.

Taking a sewing machine on a plane

Taking a sewing machine on an plane

Have you ever taken a sewing machine on a plane? In April I was visiting my family on the East Coast and attending Meetup Togetherfest in New York. My mother no longer sews (more on this tomorrow) so my dad asked me if I’d like to take her last sewing machine, a Husqvarna Viking Scandinavia 200, which she got at Joann’s several years ago.

Here’s a nice photo of the Scandinavia 200 machine from the Husqvara Viking site. (Interesting fact: In 1872 the company changed from making firearms to making sewing machines. Really.)

Viking Scandanavia 200

I did a quick Google search and discovered that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says you can take a sewing machine on board on as carry-on luggage or check the bag. Yay! Here’s the TSA page on sewing machines. But if you bring a sewing machine on as carry-on luggage, they advise you to  “check with the airline to ensure that the item will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane.”

Once I found out that I could take a sewing machine on the plane, I said yes. My dad no longer had the box it came in and I didn’t have time to figure out how to pack it to survive baggage claim. So I decided to pay the $25 to check my suitcase and buy a bag that was big enough for the sewing machine. I got this sturdy bag for about $25 at Marshalls, a discount store. Here’s the bag at the airport. It was a bit heavy to lug around but it did the job.

Sewing machine in carry-on luggage
Scandinavia 200 in the carry-on bag at the airport

When I went through airport security, the TSA guy told me that it was his third sewing machine this year. When he saw it, he said, “Oh, it’s a new one.” I guess the other machines he saw were vintage machines. After my machine went through the X-ray procedure, I was asked to take it out of the bag. I asked him if he needed the power cord to turn it on. He didn’t. But he did run a swab test on the sewing machine. That’s where you swipe the surface and put it in a machine to check for trace explosives. It passed the test and then I proceeded to the gate.

I wanted to take a photo of the swab test but I didn’t know how he’d respond. I didn’t want any unnecessary delays so I only took the photo of the machine in the carry-on bag.

If there are other items you want to check to see if you are allowed to bring on a flight either as a carry-on or checked bags, type your item in the search bar of the TSA page What Can I Bring? The list is pretty extensive. I discovered that you can bring on board antlers, bowling balls and Harry Potter wands as either carry-on or checked items. Really? Were there people asking whether their Harry Potter wands were prohibited on planes? In case you’re wondering, here’s what an authorized Harry Potte wand looks like. 

Harry Potter wand (affiliate link)

Knitting needles are allowed. Check out Spruce Crafts blog post on knitting needles on a plane for more info.

Toaster Sweater – Version 2 in French terry and jersey knit

I finally got around to making Toaster Sweater – Version 2 by Sew House Seven. Last year I made Version 1, which has raglan sleeves and a turtleneck. (You can get the pattern here.) I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to sewing Version 2, which Sew House Seven says “features a semi-high-neck that takes its inspiration from funnel and boat necks.” I love boatnecks so this neckline was very appealing to me.

I made my first Version 2 Toaster with some black french terry that I bought on sale at Fabric Outlet last fall. I consider it part of the #makeyourstash sewing challenge that I decided to participate in earlier this year. The #makeyourstash challenge is to use fabric that’s been in your collection for at least six months.

I made my black Toaster Sweater – Version 2 in April, the night before I was to fly to the East Coast to visit family and attend the first annual Meetup Togetherfest. It didn’t take very long to sew. There are just three pattern pieces – front, back and sleeve. The neck has a self-facing – you fold it over and to keep it in place, you stitch in the ditch at the shoulder seams.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - french terry, 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

I decided to cut size XL for a loose fit. I made size L when I made Version 1. I have broad shoulders and wanted extra ease in the hips. The only change I made to the pattern was to shorten the sleeves to 3/4 length, a nice length for Bay Area weather.

Here’s how I shortened the sleeve. I sliced it at the shorten/lengthen line and overlapped 8 inches (~20cm) of the pattern and folded the pattern to true the seams, and pinned the excess in place as you can see in the photo below. I used Swedish tracing paper that I got for my birthday to trace the pattern.

Toaster Sweater 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - sleeve shortened

Note: I have long arms so if I shorted it by 8 inches to get a 3/4 length sleeve, then the sleeves on this pattern are unusually long. If you sew this pattern, measure the sleeve length and compare it to your arm measurement. You will likely need to shorten the sleeve.

The neckline is like a small boatneck or maybe you could call it a high boatneck?

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - french terry, 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

Here’s a back view of the Toaster Sweater – Version 2. I used the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to sew this together. I decided not to use the serger because I didn’t want to fiddle with the tension and differential feed. Plus I had to finish packing for my trip.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - french terry, 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

Here’s a closer look at the front. You can (sort of) see that the shoulder seams go a little beyond my shoulder point. I knew it would be a little wide but I liked this relaxed look. French terry is so soft. This is so comfy to wear.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - french terry, 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

About a month after I made this version I decided to make another Toaster Sweater – Version 2. I had some medium-weight black cotton jersey fabric in my stash but only enough for the body, not the sleeves. So I looked in my stash for another knit and found this lightweight blue rayon fabric, which has a nice drape. Another score for #makeyourstash! I think I got the blue fabric on sale at Fabric Outlet.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

For this version, I read the instructions and used what the pattern calls a “double stitch” for the seams – a zig-zag stitch and a straight stitch. I did that for this version. Then I finished the hems using a double needle, which you can’t really see in this photo. The trickiest part of sewing this Toaster Sweater was using the double needle at the corners because you can’t pivot your needle.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

Sewing the sleeves was a little tricky because the rayon knit was lightweight. I had to use a ton of pins on the sleeve head. The black cotton knit was more stable. When I attached the sleeves to the body, I put the black knit on the bottom and had set the presser foot pressure to zero. I didn’t need to use a walking foot – having the heavier weight fabric on the bottom worked well and it sewed nicely.

The back hem of this Toaster Sweater – Version 2 is an inch longer than the front, which is a nice detail.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

Here’s a back view where you can also see a bit of the high-low hem.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

I’m wearing a skirt I hand sewed earlier this year. The skirt pattern is from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin (affiliate link here).

I got the skirt fabric at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, which has a great selection of knits. I originally bought the fabric to make some active wear but decided to make a skirt instead. I think the fabric colors work well together. The blue is the same intensity as this rust red.

I like this pattern so much I cut yet another Toaster Sweater, VErsion 2 with leftover ponte fabric from my fourth Pilvi Coat. I had about one full yard of that bold fabric, which I used to cut the front and back and making it tunic-length. Then I had big scraps that I could use for the sleeves. Stay tuned for my third Toaster Sweater!

Sewing Tip: If you want to experiment and use a lightweight knit fabric, you may want to put a strip of interfacing at the shoulders to give it a little extra reinforcement to prevent it from stretching out. It’s not needed for medium-weight fabrics.

I will be looking through my stash for more knit fabrics and making more Toaster Sweaters – Version 2. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve made multiple times? For me, it’s been the Pilvi Coat and now it looks like the Toaster Sweater will be a staple top for me.

How to sew sweater knit fabric – finally an online course

Hi, a couple of years ago I bought this natural white cotton sweater knit fabric and matching ribbing from O! Jolly!, an online shop selling sweater knits designed by Olgalyn Jolly. It has been sitting in my stash, mostly because I couldn’t decide what pattern to use and I didn’t have any experience sewing sweater knit fabric. But now I no longer have any excuses because Olgalyn just launched an online course How to Cut and Sew a Sweater Knit (affiliate link)!

O! Jolly! New Hudson sweater knit fabric

The course videos cover everything from choosing a sweater knit fabric to how to finish your seam allowances. You don’t need a serger. You can use the zig zag stitch on your sewing machine.

Cutting and sewing sweater knit fabric

One of her lessons discusses sewing machine sample settings (width and length) and serger sample settings (differential feed ratio, stitch length and cutting width), including a downloadable file with the sample settings.

Marking the hem of a sweater knit fabric

How to Cut and Sew a Sweater Knit also includes many helpful worksheets, resources (where to buy sweater knit fabric (and what knit fabric to avoid), a list of suggested sewing patterns, etc.) and tips you can download.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I don’t usually promote anything. I’ve been asked to write about products but I usually say “No, thanks,” because they aren’t the right fit for my blog. I wouldn’t write about something I didn’t believe in. [Full disclosure: If you purchase her course using the links in this post, I will get a percentage of the sale.]

Last week when I was in New York, I had lunch with Olgalyn and Angie, a former Bay Area Sewist who moved to the Big Apple. Olgalyn told me about the course and asked if I would be interested in being an affiliate, and I immediately said “Yes.”

Olgalyn Jolly wearing a Saint Cloud sweater knit
Olgalyn Jolly in a sweater knit she sewed

It was an easy decision because I love her fabrics and I know she’s an expert in sewing sweater knit fabric. I also interviewed Olgalyn on my blog in 2016. She also teaches machine knitting at FIT. I’ve seen many of her beautiful creations on her blog Crafting Fashion and her Instagram feed (@ojolly).

Double knit jacquard sweater by Olgalyn Jolly

I’ve been watching the videos of her online course and learning so much. Olgalyn is an excellent teacher and it’s a pleasure to hear her voice as she explains how to cut and sew a sweater knit. Her course is aimed at the “sewing enthusiast with intermediate skills or for the motivated beginner.”

How to Cut and Sew a Sweater Knit is 20 percent off until May 1 (regular price $59, discounted price, $47.20)! It’s worth it at either price. She took a lot of care in creating it. By the end of the course, you can be confident that you’ll know how to sew sweater knit fabric with confidence!

Beautiful sweater knit fabric sewn into a lovely long-sleeved sweater - Olgalyn Jolly

Sewing inspiration – sewjo, Pinterest and more

Where do you get your sewing inspiration? My sewjo disappeared in March because I sprained my right ankle at the end of February. It was very sore for most of March so I didn’t go near my sewing machine.

I also took a break from my own social media accounts and hardly posted anything on Instagram or Pinterest, which also contributed to my lack of sewing inspiration.

So today I looked at some of my Pinterest boards (@csews). I have one named “Sewing Inspiration,” where I post everything from couture fashion to RTW. Then I started to feel some inspiration. It’s amazing what you can do with fabric, isn’t it?

Here are a few screen shots from my Sewing Inspiration board. I love that Yoji Yamamoto jacket in the center and the Issey Miyake skirt on the right.

Sewing inspiration - Pinterest - CSews.com

The slouchy pants below are cool and the full skirt of that pale dress is so dramatic! I really wouldn’t wear a dress like that but you have to marvel at the construction.

Sewing Inspiration - Pinterest board - CSews.com

I also have a board titled “Casual Style for Women,” where I post everything from tops and pants to skirts and coats. Here are a few screenshots from that board.

Sewing inspiration - @csews Pinterest board - Casual Style for Women

I just realized that I tend to post garments in solid colors on that board – or color-blocked clothes. I wear a lot of solids but I like prints, too!

Sewing inspiration - @csews Pinterest board - Casual Style for Women

Oh, and in case you’re wondering how I sprained my ankle – I was going down the stairs in a rush and when I got to the last step, somehow I missed a step and my ankle just turned over and I fell. I skinned my right knee too.

This week was the first week my ankle didn’t feel really stiff in the morning. So I’m finally feeling like it is recovering. So hopefully this weekend I will get some sewing done. I owe my older sister a birthday present. I was going to make her something for her birthday in early March but the ankle was too sore.

Plus I want to get back to my 2018 Make Nine list. I am actually making progress on this list, as I mentioned in my update on my progress. I hope to make a dent in my stash and make some more skirts and tops. Here’s to getting my sewjo back!

What do you do when your sewjo disappears?

2018 RTW fast and Make Your Stash sewing challenge

2018 RTW Fast and Sew Your Stash sewing challenge

I’m fasting this year – not food but RTW clothes and fabric. I’m participating in Goodbye Valentino’s 2018 RTW Fast and I also decided to focus on shopping my stash first before buying any fabric. So far, I haven’t purchased any fabric in 2018. I’m not sure how long that fast will last but I’m also participating in the Make Your Stash challenge hosted by Time to Sew and PilarBear – which will also be inspiration to sew my stash.

2018 RTW Fast

For the RTW Fast, you commit to not buying ready-to-wear clothes for a year, which I signed on to do at the end of December.

The only things you are allowed to purchase during the RTW fast are underwear, socks, stockings, shoes, jewelry, handbags and belts. There’s an exception for wedding gowns but that’s it. You can see some of the fasters on Goodbye Valentino’s January post, “Meet the Fasters.” There are more than 1,000 participants!

2018 RTW Fast

Follow the hashtag #2018rtwfast on Instagram to see what people are making. There’s a private Facebook group for participants (sign-up closed on Jan. 1) and various sewing-related prizes are given out every month.

Make Your Stash

The hosts of Make Your Stash call it a “sustainable sewing challenge.” The idea is to use fabric that has been in your stash for more than six months to make at least one wearable garment and post the finished version on Instagram (#makeyourstash) anytime between March and May – emphasis on wearable.

As Kate of Time to Sew notes, “We do not encourage making something that you won’t wear just to use something up – that is not the point.”

Make Your Stash - a sustainable sewing challenge

They want people to take their time and make something that you will like. They are also offering prizes – PDF patterns for each month of the challenge. But I don’t care about the prizes. I just want to find more time to sew my fabric and make some progress on sewing my stash.

Sewing Not Buying

I also decided to give myself the additional challenge of not buying any new fabric during Make Your Stash  – or at least not buy anything until I’ve made that one garment for #makeyourstash. 😉

I had already been shopping my stash when I put together my 2018 Make Nine list. So far this year I have not purchased any fabric. Really. But it’s a practical decision… I don’t have room for more fabric. Heheh.

I’ve got fabric in four plastic bins of varying sizes in the bedroom; fabric in the bedroom closet and fabric in a few drawers of a rolling cart in the dining area. According to my husband, “Fabric is everywhere!” I think that’s an exaggeration but I am trying to see if my fabric-buying fast will last at least six months. Wish me luck!

My next big project will be going through my closets and getting rid of old RTW clothes, hopefully donating them to an upcycle group that can remake them into something else. Or maybe I can make them into something else for someone else. (Note: Donating clothes to Goodwill is not necessarily a good thing. Read this HuffPo article on what happens to your donated clothes.)

Do you care how big your stash is? Are you trying to sew more of your fabric and buy less? What do you do with the clothes that no longer fit or are out of style? Do you upcycle? Repurpose? Donate? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!