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.

Building a Sewing Community and Meetup Togetherfest

Hi, as some of you may know, I’m the organizer of the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group. Since 2014, I’ve planned and organized monthly meetups for people who enjoy sewing. Along the way, I’ve met many wonderful people who are part of a vibrant sewing community in the Bay Area.

I’ve also developed relationships with local businesses that offer our members discounts on sewing studio memberships (Hello Stitch in Berkeley and Sips N Sews in San Francisco), discounts at their fabric stores (Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics on our Berkeley meetups days and Britex Fabrics when we meet there) or discounts on classes and merchandise (The Sewing Room in Alameda). They have also donated raffle prizes to our annual Frocktails in February event.

Bay Area Sewists - a sewing community - at Hello Stitch and Sips N Sews

Bay Area Sewists members range in expertise from beginning sewists to expert costumers and sewing instructors, such as Beth Galvin who blogs at SunnyGal Studios and teaches at Hello Stitch and Jennifer Serr who teaches apparel sewing to kids and adults at The Sewing Room. We’ve had meetups for fabric and pattern swaps, sewing workshops, fitting meetups, frocktails and indigo dyeing.

At our events, I’ve held raffles with various prizes, including Japanese sewing books from Tuttle Publishing and sewing patterns solicited from various indie designers, such as 100 Acts of Sewing, By Hand London, Blueprints for Sewing, Bonjour Teaspoon, Cashmerette, Christine Haynes, Green Bee Patterns, Kate & Rose, Sew Liberated, Sewaholic, and Thread Theory.

Bay Area Sewists members have also offered sewing books, sewing magazines, new sewing patterns, and thread catchers to give away. They have also been a great resource for ideas for future meetups. People in the sewing community are generous and genuinely helpful.

Bay Area Sewists - a sewing community - Meetups in 2018

Bay Area Sewists started in 2012 by Meg of Made by Meg. She stepped down at the end of 2013 and I volunteered to be the next organizer. You can read my 2014 blog post about the first Bay Area Sewists meetup I organized – a pattern swap. (You can see our past meetups here.)

Bay Area Sewists - a sewing community - Meetup at Sips N Sews

I love meeting people who sew. And we do have a couple of male members. In the above photo, see if you can spot Michael, who blogs at Line of Selvage (in the back row under the “NS” of Notions).

If you are ever in the Bay Area and would like to attend one of our sewing meetups, please let me know. Most of our meetups are free to attend. I like to think of the sewing community as a global community.

Since February 2014, I’ve organized more than 40 meetups. Apparently, Meetup noticed that we consistently meet and people show up. In March 2018 I got an email from Meetup inviting me to attend the first annual Meetup Togetherfest in New York! Here’s part of that email:

Meetup Togetherfest

I was so very surprised and deeply honored to get the invitation. The email also said: “There are over 230,000 Meetup Organizers around the world, but this year we only have space for 150.” 

Wow. Who knew there were so many organizers?!

I have family on the East Coast in New Jersey, so I immediately replied YES, and planned to spend a week on the East Coast, two of those days in NYC with Meetup organizers.

Meetup paid for a two-night stay in New York – Thursday and Friday, April 19 and 20 – we just had to make our way to the Big Apple. Here’s Meetup’s brief Medium blog post about Togetherfest. It was wonderful to meet organizers from around the world. I met people from Berlin, Brisbane, Delhi, Dublin, London, Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto and from all over the United States – Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, etc.

When I explained to people that I was the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists, I realized that people weren’t familiar with the word “sewist.” So I usually added, “people who like to sew.” Then people seemed to think that we got together with our sewing machines at every meetup. I explained that we didn’t sew at every meetup but the events usually focused on some aspect of sewing apparel (fabric, patterns, sewing techniques).

Meetup Togetherfest

On our first day, we got a tour of Meetup Headquarters, with Meetup folks telling us about what they did in their various departments. They had photographers documenting the event so we didn’t have to.

Tour of Meetup headquarters

They also asked us to take post-its and write one positive thing about our Meetup experience as organizers and one pain point. Here I am writing about my problem with members not being able to rejoin the group after their membership expires.

Chuleenan at post-it wall

We also spent part of the afternoon in small groups, with each group trying to solve a riddle – fun but really cold. My group was outdoors most of the time, going to various locations, where we were to find an actor playing a role and ask him or her questions. It was in the 40s, chilly and windy. Here we are downtown in the financial district. I’m wearing my teal Sapporo Coat but I was still cold. I didn’t bring enough layers.

Meetup Togetherfest - small group photo

When we got back to Meetup HQ, we had dozens of New York pizzas waiting for us. I gorged on the pizza. Here are just a few of the pizza pies they served us. Yum!

New York Pizza

What was the point of this two-day event? Well, according to the booklet in our swag bag, Scott Heiferman, the co-founder and CEO of Meetup, he had the idea of holding a “global gathering of great Meetup organizers for a long time.” He wanted to give us the opportunity to share our stories and to “be inspired by others’ Meetup stories.”

I was certainly inspired by other Meetup organizers. I met organizers of groups focused on hiking, writing, photography walks, programming, dads in the city, real estate, you name it. I didn’t meet any other sewing Meetup organizers so I guess I was it. 😉

Some Meetup organizers meet weekly or even more than once a week! I was pretty amazed that some groups met so often but those were often large groups (thousands of members) with multiple organizers so they took turns organizing various events. I met the organizer for Fierce Friends of Phoenix, an LGBTQ group, that has become a nonprofit organization.

I admit I was felt a little insecure comparing the size of Bay Area Sewists (less than 150 members) to groups boasting 8,000+ members. I wondered if the size of a group affected the algorithm. (Yes, Meetup uses an algorithm that picks which meetups to feature in your local area.) Luckily, I was able to buttonhole Meetup’s Chief Operating Officer and ask her if that was a factor. She said, no, what’s more important is that you meet regularly and that people show up. And, in fact, some of the smaller groups are more successful than the very large groups.

I met people who organize multiple groups, like DeRM from the Bronx (pictured below), who runs a Taco Night Meetup in NY and co-organizes three other meetups – MMA in NYC, Foolinary Culinary and the New York City Organizers group.

Derm, organizer of 4 Meetup groups

Throughout the event, in between sessions about Meetup features and hearing from the Meetup and WeWork CEOs (WeWork acquired Meetup last fall), we got to hear from individual organizers about their Meetups. Some had moving stories to tell about how their group had an impact on people’s lives, how they gave back to their local communities or their group grew from one chapter to many chapters throughout the country.

The second day we spent at Industria, an event space in the West Village. It had a large open space and smaller rooms for breakout sessions about everything from using the apps and Meetup Pro to hosting at WeWork and making the website work. We had to pick two sessions we wanted to attend. I learned that Meetup Pro starts at $30/month and seems aimed more at people whose Meetup group is a business for them. At the website session, I also got a chance to tell the Chief Operating Officer about the problems people rejoining the Bay Area Sewists group after Meetup’s redesign. Apparently, the redesign was focused on the member user experience, not the organizer’s user experience. They are working on making it a better experience for organizers.

One of the last sessions involved all the organizers in the room and Priya Parker (seated in the center chair below), who led a thoughtful discussion about the process of gathering, what happens at the beginning middle and end of a meetup.

Priya Parker talking about the process of gathering

Here’s Priya signing copies of her book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters (Amazon affiliate link). Meetup got copies for all the attendees. Thank you, Meetup!

Priya Parker

I’m still processing the experience and figuring out what I’d like to incorporate into the Bay Area Sewists Meetups. Our group is small because I charge annual dues, which means that after the three-month trial period, you either have to pay the dues ($15/year) or Meetup automatically removes you from the group. This means that only people who are genuinely interested in attending a meetup remain in the group. I like our small size – small but mighty.

Thank you Meetup for a great experience and thank you Bay Area Sewists members for coming to the meetups, building a sewing community, sharing ideas and inspiring me to keep organizing!

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!

Big Four 2018 spring patterns – Vogue, Butterick and more

Hi, I spent some time looking at Big Four 2018 spring patterns – Vogue, Butterick, McCall’s and Simplicity. They were the pattern companies I grew up with. (Last fall I blogged about a few patterns from Simplicity and Vogue, which you can read here.)

My mom mostly bought patterns from Butterick, McCalls and Simplicity from Jo-Ann – back when the chain only sold fabric and it was known as Jo-Ann Fabrics. She made clothes for me and my three sisters when we were growing up.

I don’t recall her ever buying any Vogue patterns. I’m not sure why she didn’t buy Vogue but it’s most likely because those patterns were more expensive and some are complicated to sew. She mostly sewed by following the pictures in the instructions. English is her second language so she didn’t bother reading the instructions.

Here are a few of the spring patterns that caught my eye.

Big four 2018 Spring Patterns

They are listed in no particular order.

Vogue

Big Four 2018 Sewing patterns - Vogue V9299 - top with belt - CSews.com

I love stripes so this shirt (V9299) grabbed my attention for its fun use of stripes. Plus I like the waist-defining belt. I don’t know about the puffiness of the lower part of the sleeve but that could certainly be toned down.

The pattern has many variations in length and sleeve styles. You could lengthen it to make a shirt dress.

Big four 2018 Spring Patterns - Vogue V9299 - tops with sleeve and length variations - CSews.com

This Vintage Vogue reissue  (V9295) is from the 1940s. I love the neckline, which has front tucks.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Vintage Vogue pattern V9295 - ca. 1940 - CSews.com

Look at those tucks and lovely neckline!

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Vintage Vogue reissue V9295 - 1940s dress with tucks

The pattern envelope says the suggested fabrics are: sheer cottons, lace, crepe de chine, burnout velvet and rayon challis. You need lightweight fabrics because of all the tucks, which are also in the short-sleeve version.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Vintage Vogue reissue 1940s - line drawing - CSews.com

Here’s one of Sandra Betzina’s latest patterns. It’s described as a pants pattern. This is version A, which is described as having “wide straps give jumper effect.”

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina Vogue pattern V1580 - pants - CSews.com

Sandra designs for ease of wear so I’m sure you can easily take down the straps so you can go to the bathroom. I like jumpsuits but I’m usually reluctant to make them because you have to get half undressed to go to the bathroom. And you need to be careful that the top part doesn’t drag on the floor, especially in a public restroom.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina Vogue pattern V1580 - line art - CSews.com

If you ever have an opportunity to hear Sandra speak, take it. She has great sewing tips and delivers them with a great sense of humor. Plus she has such a warm personality. I heard her speak at Cañada College last spring at their annual Artistry in Fashion event. I also got a copy of the latest edition of her indispensable fabric guide – All New Fabric Savvy (affiliate link here).

Simplicity

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Simplicity 8605 paper-bag waist pants pattern

I like the paper-bag waist on pants and skirts. These pants look fun and easy to make. Plus the pattern (8605) includes a skirt! I’ve been wanting to make a casual paper-bag skirt.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Simplicity 8605 - paper bag waist skirt and pants pattern - CSews.com

I’ve tied RTW shirts that buttoned in the front. I like that look. This Simplicity pattern (8601) for woven fabrics gives you the option of just letting the front piece hang down or tying it in a knot. I like the striped version.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Simplicity 8601 - front-tie top pattern - CSews.com

One thing that really jumped out for me as I perused Simplicity’s offerings is that there is a lot of diversity among its models. For example, this vintage 1950s reissue (8592) features a plus-size model and an African-American model. There are two size ranges – 10-18 and 20W-28W. Kudos to Simplicity for making such a wide range of sizes available.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Vintage Simplicity - 8592 - dress - CSews

New Look is part of the Simplicity group of patterns and this flight jacket pattern (6545) jumped out at me because it features an Asian model and it’s a fun pattern.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - New Look 6545 - flight jacket pattern - CSews.com

 

McCall’s

I like the pleats in this McCall’s dress designed by Phoebe Couture. I initially saw it as a top and a skirt but it’s a dress. I think you could add a waistband and just make a skirt from this pattern.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - McCall's M7720 - Phoebe Couture dress pattern - CSews.com

This is a pattern for a costume (M7733) but I’d just wear it as a regular jacket.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - McCall's costume M7733 - fitted jacket by Yaya Han - CSews.com

 

Butterick

The drawstring detail on this Butterick dress is nice (B6552).

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - B6552-Butterick dress pattern with lace-up front

I’m not thrilled by the color-blocked version of this pattern (B6567) that the model is wearing but I do like the lines, which you can see in version B, which has longer sleeves. You could shorten it to make it more of a tunic or lengthen it to midi-length, which is my favorite skirt length.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Butterick B6567 Lisette dress - CSewscom

 

This pattern (B6556) by Gertie has a lovely square neckline.

Big Four 2018 Spring Patterns - Butterick B6556 - Patterns by Gertie - CSews.com

And that’s the end of my roundup. Have you seen any new Big Four 2018 spring patterns that you like?

Make Nine 2018 – an update on my sewing projects

Hi, I thought I’d update you on my Make Nine 2018 progress. I picked various patterns and fabrics, which I wrote about  here in early February. So far I’ve actually made three things from my Make Nine list plus a skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails! Four garments in less than two months! That’s gotta be a record for me.

I think around this time last year I’d made only two things – a skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February 2017 and a reversibleToaster Sweater.

Here’s what I made in January:

• A hand-sewn midi skirt from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design (Amazon affiliate link here). I used a maroon (rust red?) knit fabric in my stash. I’ve worn it a couple of times but I haven’t taken any photos of it yet.

• My fourth Pilvi Coat from the book Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style, a birthday present from one of my sisters in 2016 (Amazon affiliate link here).

Pilvi Coat in ponte knit - pattern from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style sewing book - Make Nine 2018

In February, I made:

• A skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February 2018. I meant to sew a sleeveless top to go with it but it required some fitting and I ran out of time. I made two mock-ups and then I just had to hem the skirt. I need to take photos of it but you can sort of see it here.

Skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February

The fabric is a beautiful cotton print I got from Britex Fabrics several years ago. The print is a beautiful deep blue that looks like a water color. As I recall, it was quite pricey, even thought I got it sale; it was an imported cotton. It was a dream to sew and press. And it feels so lovely. For a fabric like this I decided to line this bias-cut skirt with Bemberg rayon. I’ll blog about it soon!

Here’s a panoramic group photo of the event. You can see more photos on the Bay Area Sewists meetup page or the Facebook album. I’m standing under the “K” of Frocktails. 😉

Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February - group photo!

I also finished the Twist-and-Drape top from the Japanese sewing book Shape Shape by Natsuno Hiraiwa (out of print). This is essentially my muslin. I had a few yards of this semi-sheer cotton silk fabric, which was an online impulse buy. It’s been sitting in my stash forever.

The pattern called for a lightweight cotton so I decided to use it. However, it wasn’t easy to make bias tape from it, which is how most of the raw edges are finished. It was annoying but I persevered.

Here are some bathroom photos. I’ll take better photos soon!

Twist-and-Drape top from Japanese sewing book Drape Drape by Natsuno Hiraiwa - Make Nine 2018

It’s supposed to button but as you can see, it doesn’t overlap. I added an inch to the back but I’ll need to add more width to the front and side seams if I make it again. But I’m fine with wearing like a vest.

Here are some photos from the book showing how to put it on.

Twist-and-Drape top from Shape Shape by Natsuno Hiraiwa

If I make it again I’ll be using a very lightweight cotton that will be easier to sew and press.

I didn’t realize that I had completed four garments until I tallied them up for this post. I was starting to feel that I hadn’t done very much because I haven’t had time to do much sewing over the past two weeks. But now I feel better.

Did you pick a project for your Make Nine 2018 list? What are you working on now?

Make Nine 2018 – tops, skirts and jackets for the new year

Hi, I made these collages on my phone last month and I’ve even sewn a couple of things already, which has to be a record for me. It can take me a while to just get started. But this year, I decided I would start with patterns and sewing books in my collection as well as the fabric I already have. So here is my Make Nine 2018 list:

  • Top with Epaulettes from She Wears the Pants, a Japanese sewing book by Yuko Takada. I made my own striped version in 2015, which you can read about in this post. I still wear it. I have an odd synthetic knit in a pretty purple that I’m going to use. I’ve already cut the pattern pieces.
  • A midi-skirt from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, which I reviewed here. I’ve made a skirt and tunic from this book. I had this maroon red knit fabric that was originally going to be yoga pants. I decided to make a skirt, which I hand sewed last month. I still need to photograph it.
  • I finished the Pilvi Coat a little over two weeks ago and blogged about it here.

Make Nine 2018 - Top from She Wears the Pants, skirt from Alabama Studio + Design, Pilvi Coat from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style

  • Toaster Sweater Version 2 in a striped knit. I made a reversible Version 1 of this pattern by Sew House Seven.
  • Decades of Style Chore Skirt, which I started last year but still haven’t finished. This beautiful rose print will be the contrasting part of this pleated skirt.
  • Twist-and-Drape top from Shape Shape, a Japanese sewing book by Natsuno Hiraiwa, released in 2012, it is the first Japanese sewing book I ever bought. I want to make this interesting top in this interesting cotton lawn print. I’ve been making a muslin using a polka-dotted cotton-silk blend I have in my stash. It’s slow going because the fabric is a bit delicate and the raw edges are finished with bias tape. As I was making it, I discovered that there was an Instagram #sewjapaneseinjanuary sewing challenge going on – the idea was to make something from a Japanese sewing pattern in January. I got started but I haven’t finished it but it gave me the inspiration to get going. Thanks to @bloglessanna and @craftyjane_makes for hosting!

Make Nine 2018 - Toaster Sweater, version 2, Chore Skirt and Twist-and-Drape top

  • Megan Longline Cardigan has been in my stash for more than a year. I’ve had this striped knit fabric in my collection for more than three years. I got it for $1 or $2/yard at the FIDM scholarship store in Los Angeles.
  • I want to copy this top I saw in the window at Max Mara in the fall of 2016. I even bought fabric to make a black-and-white silk (as opposed to leather and wool) version of it. I got a black plaid print, a solid black and then a print at Britex Fabrics back then. I just need to pick a tunic pattern to make a color-blocked version. if you have any suggestions for a square-necked pattern, please let me know!
  • Last but not least is this Spiral Scarf from Shape Shape. I have this bright magenta wool silk organza that I got at the Britex yard sale, which would be perfect for it. I just need to decide if I want to get a contrasting color or just make it all one color.

Make Nine 2018 - cardigan, top and scarf

My Make Nine 2018 goal this year is to make some inroads on my fabric stash and to make more garments that I would wear everyday. I’m holding off on making pants because I’m working on losing a few of the extra pounds I’ve gained over the past two years. Skirts are a little more forgiving.

Oh, and I almost forgot! I’ll be attempting to start and finish a bias cut skirt and vintage top in time for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February event this Saturday! I only have a few days to sew up version D of the Vogue vintage reissue and this midi skirt.

Frocktails 2018 ensemble

Instead of sewing a dress I decided to make separates so I will get more use out of the ensemble. I tend to wear separates, not dresses. I’m hoping that I’ll have enough leftover fabric to make version D of the Vogue pattern. We’ll see. Wish me luck!

Pilvi Coat in ponte knit – my 4th version of this pattern

Pilvi Coat in ponte knit - pattern from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style sewing book

Hi, I made another Pilvi Coat! It’s my fourth version of this pattern from the book Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style (affiliate link here). This simple pattern is an unlined coat with raglan sleeves and in-seam side pockets. It works well with a variety of fabrics.

I’ve made this coat using home decor fabric and other heavyweight fabrics:

Here’s a photo of my first three Pilvi Coats plus a red one by Laurel Dismukes of Laurel’s Quill. Laurel does all the sewing for Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. We spoke to the Bay Area Sewists meetup group in January at Sips N Sews about patterns and fabric choices.

Pilvi Coats

When I got this ponte fabric at Britex Fabrics yard sale last fall, I wasn’t sure what I would make with it. The print is huge and continuous. The leaf-like design goes down the entire length of the fabric in one continuous design in three parallel rows. Here’s the 58″ wide fabric spread out on the floor.

Ponte fabric with big print

I pondered making a skirt or a dress, asked for ideas on Instagram and then decided to make another Pilvi Coat. I lengthened the pattern by 10 inches to take full advantage of the print. I also added an inch of length to the sleeves because I have long arms.

I cut the back piece first, placing it in the center of the center leaf design. I cut each piece individually so I would know exactly what part of the print would appear on each sleeve and front piece. I wasn’t trying to match anything. My pattern placement was focused on taking advantage of the design.

In this photo I had already cut one front pattern piece and then I placed that piece on top of the fabric to test placement. One side of the front pattern piece folds back to form the facing. So after I cut one front piece, I placed it on top of the fabric to see what the front edge would look like on the opposite side. On the right side of this photo, I’ve folded back the facing to see where the print would land on the pattern piece.

Pattern placement for Pilvi Coat

I wanted different parts of the leaf design to appear on the front.

Pilvi Coat pattern placement

I like the abstract design. Here’s what the back looks like.

Pilvi Coat in ponte knit fabric - pattern from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style book

And here’s a side view. The photos were taken at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. I was there last Monday and asked the store manager to take a few photos with my phone. This famous fabric store moved a few blocks away from its prior location on Geary Street, to Post Street. The first floor is spacious and really shows off all the wool and silk fabrics. I’m standing in front of an enormous wall of wool. It goes from floor to ceiling!

Pilvi Coat in ponte knit fabric - pattern from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style book

I hand stitched the facing and hems because I didn’t want to see a seam. The pattern calls for topstitching the facing and hems. I folded over the facing and machine stitched the edge before I hand stitched it in place. I switched thread colors even though no one will see it – navy and off-white thread using a zig zag stitch. This is my first project with ponte, which is a stable knit and easy to sew.

Facing - thread colors

Here’s a close-up shot of the hand stitching. You can see the different color threads. I matched the thread according to the color in front.

Hand stitching facing of Pilvi Coat

It was tedious but I’m really pleased with the results.

Here’s a summary of the materials and construction details:

  • Pattern: Pilvi Coat from the book Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style, size XL
  • Adjustments: Added 10 inches of length to the coat, 1 inch length to sleeves
  • Fabric: 3 yards ponte from Britex Fabrics sale ($12/yard)
  • Interfacing: very lightweight knit interfacing for facing
  • Thread: Gutterman
  • Needle: Schmetz stretch, 75/11 HS
  • Sewing: zig zag stitch and hand sewing

Have you made anything with a huge print or with ponte knit? What was that like for you? I really enjoyed working with ponte. It’s easy to cut (doesn’t shift or curl up) and easy to sew with a zig zag stitch. Big prints are fun. You just need to take care in placing your pattern pieces.

Stylish Wraps by Yoshiko Tsukiori – book review and giveaway

Hi, in December I was asked by Tuttle books is there was a sewing book I’d like to review. I browsed their craft books and saw that earlier this year the publishing company had released the English-language version of Stylish Wraps by Yoshiko Tsukiori ($15.95, Amazon affiliate link here, Tuttle link here). Somehow I missed the release of this book back in August.

Stylish Wraps by Yoshiko Tsukiori - Tuttle Publishing 2017

Tuttle publishes several of Tsukiori’s sewing books, including Stylish Party Dresses. If you’re familiar with Japanese sewing books, it typically follows a format like this: 1. photos of finished garments, 2. instructions with clear diagrams and 3. a set of full-size patterns printed on both sides of the paper. For Stylish Wraps, the patterns are printed on the front and back of two large pieces of paper. The patterns are stored are in an envelope attached to the inside back cover.

Stylish Wraps is a good book for beginning sewists because the patterns are simple, such as Poncho A, which is essentially a rectangle folded in half with a hole cut in the middle for the head and then the corners cut in a curve to form the sleeves.

Stylish Wraps by Yohsiko Tsukiori - poncho A

There’s also Poncho B, which is a variation of Poncho A – a circle with a hole cut in it and a ruffle added to the sleeve.

Stylish Wraps by Yohsiko Tsukiori - poncho B

There are 22 patterns in Stylish Wraps, each identified by a letter of the alphabet and a brief description. Similar to Tsukiori’s other sewing books, some designs share the same pattern pieces for the garments. This means that some patterns are quite similar to each other and essentially variations on the same design.

The table of contents divides them into 5 categories – Straight Cuts, Capes, Accessories, Dolman Sleeves and Regular Sleeves. For example, patterns D and E – Drape Jacket and Drape Vest, are in the Straight Cuts section. They use similar pieces except that one has sleeves and the other doesn’t.

Stylish Wraps by Yohsiko Tsukiori - Drape jacket and vest

The Drape Jacket is made with sweatshirt fabric. I like this design and the fabric choice.

I also like the Bolero, Pattern P, which is the featured in the top left photo on the back cover below. The cool thing about the bolero is that is has an entirely different shape when you tie the ribbons.

Stylish Wraps by Yoshiko Tsukiori

The title is a little misleading as not everything is a wrap. As you can see, some of the designs are coats and vests. There are also knitting patterns for mittens and other accessories.

Then there are a few faux fur designs, such as this cape, which is a bit odd looking. Maybe it would look better in black? It looks like two furry arms.

Stylish Wraps by Yoshiko Tsukiori - Tuttle Publishing - CSews

There are four sizes – 7, 9, 11 and 13, which translates to bust 31 (78), 33 (83), 35 (88) and 37 (93). Don’t be alarmed by these measurements. There is a lot of ease in Japanese sewing patterns so don’t assume the patterns are too small for you.

I’ve sewn the largest size of other Japanese patterns, such as this skirt from Basic Black, and the garments fit well. I’m nearly 5′ 8″ (172 cm) and have a 38″ bust. See my post on Japanese sewing book sizing for more info on sizing.

None of these patterns are fitted and they are designed to be loosely fitted. If you haven’t tried a Japanese sewing book, you might want to check this one out. The designs are nothing fancy. A few are frumpy but there are some stylish ones in the mix – and for $15.95, it’s a good deal.

I’m giving away a copy of this book on my blog. So if you’d like a chance to win a free copy, just comment below. I’ll pick a winner at random and Tuttle Publishing will send you a copy. This is open to all – worldwide entries are allowed. Add your comment by next Thursday, Jan. 11. I’ll announce the winner on Friday, Jan. 12 on this blog post. Good luck!

3 reasons why I buy fabric

I attempted to go on a fabric diet this year because my sewing has not kept up with my fabric buying for quite some time. I even experimented with selling a few pieces from my stash via Instagram and Facebook, which you can read about here. Now that 2017 is nearly over (can you believe it?), I’ve been thinking of all the reasons why I buy fabric. Here are my top three:

  1. It was on sale. Yep, if I’m really honest with myself, this is top reason for a fabric purchase. When I started sewing again around 2009, I was a sucker for a sale – whether it was in-store or online. I would buy fabric that appealed to me and I liked it even more because it was on sale. I didn’t yet know what I would make from it.Now I tell myself, don’t buy it unless you know what you’re going to make with it. I’ve even avoided sales because it’s so hard to resist buying more fabric. I love touching fabric and looking at all the lovely designs. That said, I broke my fabric diet in San Francisco when there were sales at Britex Fabrics and Fabric Outlet. Britex was having a “Yard Sale” discounting many bolts of fabric – all in preparation for the store’s big move to 117 Post St. in December. They are now in their new location – a beautiful space that really shows off their wool and silk fabric.Over a two-month period, I got several pieces of fabric from Britex, including a red crinkle cotton and these four fabrics – clockwise from top left: ponte with a huge print (maybe a full-length Pilvi Coat), cotton lawn from Italy (marked down to $10/yard because of a flaw in the print, possible blouse or skirt), a black and silver stretch lace (skirt) and a black lace knit fabric (sleeves for a knit top).Britex Fabrics purchases - ponte knit, cotton lawn print lace knit fabrics
    I also got a couple yards of some fun home decor fabric for free because I did a guest post about the fabric for the Britex blog. I also wrote about it here.At Fabric Outlet, which had a 40% off sale, I used a $25 gift certificate one of my sisters gave me for my birthday. So I felt that gave me license to just browse and buy whatever struck my fancy. I got a couple yards of black french terry (Toaster sweater perhaps?) and a berry red stretch cotton, which should make a nice shirt.
  2. It was irresistible. Sometimes you see a piece of fabric and you just have to have it, no matter what the price is. You love the design, the color, the way it feels, the drape, etc. When I saw this fabric at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, I just had to get it. I eventually I made this Pilvi Coat from it, which I love.

    Pilvi Coat - back view - CSews

  3. It was a planned purchase. Sometimes I buy fabric with a specific pattern in mind. I’ll bring the pattern envelope with me or I’ll take a photo of the front and back of the pattern and consult it when I’m in the store to make sure I have the correct yardage. Or if it’s a PDF pattern, I’ll just look up the info on the company’s website to make sure I have the right info.

Now the fabric is piling up. It’s in bags in the closet and in a couple of plastic bins in the bedroom. For 2018, I’m going to do my best to shop my stash and to start making some of the things I planned to make with the fabric when I bought it. My plans have changed for some of the fabric I bought a few years ago (no surprise) so for some of it, I’ll be rethinking my sewing plans.

I have not taken any inventory so I don’t know how many yards are in my stash. I’m not sure I want to know. I don’t have space to maintain a large stash so I am going to try to sew more in 2018 and attempt a RTW fast. Goodbye Valentino is hosting a RTW fast, encouraging people to sew, not buy clothes (see her invitation here sign up by tomorrow, Dec. 31!).

What are your reasons for buying fabric? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you have to say on the topic.

Jung Misun and Im Seonoc in Couture Korea and ticket giveaway!

Hi, I had to return to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco to take a closer look at the work by Jung Misun and Im Seonoc in the exhibit Couture Korea, which opened last month. During my first visit, my phone ran out of power by the time I got to the room devoted to their work so I went back to take more photos. (You can read my first post here.)

Three rooms are devoted to this special exhibit, which the curator encourages you to view in chronological order, starting with the historical reconstructions of hanbok, traditional Korean clothing, and concluding with the work of Im and Jung.

The work featured in this room was a yearlong collaboration between each designer and the Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation. Im and Jung were challenged to reinterpret Korean historical fashion for life today. They both agreed that hanbok wasn’t very comfortable wear and they each chose fabrics that would be comfortable to wear.

Jung Misun

Jung Misun’s fashion line, Nohke, has been featured in Seoul Fashion Week. Here’s link to Vogue’s recent coverage of Jung’s 2018 Spring collection. (Note: Vogue spells her name Mi Sun Jung.) And here’s a link to a May 2017 Post Magazine interview with the 33-year-old designer.

As part of the Arumjigi collaboration, Jung designed this beautiful wool knit dress.

Jung Misun - wool blend knit dress - Couture Korea exhibit at Asian Art Museum

I love the details in the top. You can really see the elements of traditional Korean women’s clothing in the wrap around the bust (see my earlier post on this exhibit for examples). I think this design is best suited for a small bust.

Jung Misun - Couture Korea exhibit at Asian Art Museum

I like the layers and unique sleeve details in this dress by Jung Misun.

Jung Misum dress - Couture Korea exhibit at Asian Art Museum

The leather belt it attached to part of the top.

Jung Misun dress detail - Couture Korea exhibit at Asian Art Museum

This leather tie is a dramatic detail that echoes traditional garments.

Jung Misun - dress detail Couture Korea exhibit at Asian Art Museum

The delicate layer of organza is a nice contrast to the leather.

Jung Misun dress detail - Couture Korea exhibit at Asian Art Museum

These traditional women’s jackets are in the exhibit. The leather tie of Jung’s design is similar to the tie on these jackets.

Traditional Korean women's jackets - Couture Korea - Asian Art Museum

Im Seonoc

Founder of the PARTsPARTs fashion brand, Im Seonoc uses neoprene (scuba) in her designs, which you can see here, along with an interview and a YouTube video.

Im also used scuba fabric to create this jacket and skirt for the Arumjigi collabroation. (Please excuse the glare on the glass.)

Im Seonoc - Couture Korea exhibit at Asian Art Museum

This is a side view. The lines on this skirt are very interesting, aren’t they? I like that curving line.

Im Seonoc - scuba skirt detail - Couture Korea exhibit at Asian Art Museum

Take a look at Im’s reinterpretation of a man’s outer robe, also using scuba.

Im Seonok - Couture Korea exhibit at Asian Art Museum

You can see the lines of the traditional men’s robes in her design. Here’s a reconstruction of a garment from the late 1600s/early 1700s that’s in the exhibit.

Man's robe with slide slits - reconstruction of garment (late 1600s to early 1700s) - Couture Korea - Asian Art Museum

Be sure to take a good look at all the traditional garments before you get to this room. Then you can really appreciate each designers’ unique reinterpretation.

There are six garments in this room, three by each designer. I wish there was more of their work in the exhibit. Maybe they only made three garments for the collaboration with Arumjigi. Still I would have liked to see their other work as well.

I’ve highlighted four of their garments. You’ll need to see the exhibit to see the other two. And lucky for you, I have two tickets I’m giving away! To enter, just comment below that you’d like to see the exhibit. I’ll pick two winners at random next Tuesday, December 12! This exhibit is up through February 4, 2018.

Couture Korea exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco