Stuff I’ve Sewn in 2021

Some of the sewing sisterhood are dabbling with reviving their blogs. In solidarity with them, I will try to make a new post, even though I’ve forgotten how this interface works.

The year started with chore jackets, utility jackets, whatever you want to call them. I made two – one for cooler months and a white one for summer. A white jacket hangs by the door to the garage all summer, ready to be grabbed whenever I go out. Although these both look really similar, I used different patterns.

Chore jacket #1 was made from some selvedge denim I got for cheap in our dearly-departed fabric district. The stores I used to shop there are all gone now. Very sad. Anyway, originally I thought I’d make jeans. But the fabric was so heavy that I knew my machine couldn’t handle all the thicknesses involved in jean-making. For this jacket, I used the old Cutting Line Designs “By Popular Demand” pattern: lengthening it, eliminating the yoke, rounding the corners and adding a center back seam. I used lapped seams to show the selvedge and deal with the heavy fabric thickness, and bound any raw edges. Faced the hem.

Fresh from the back seat of the car

Chore jacket #2 was #17 in the 2/2021 issue of Ottobre Woman, called “Worker Look”. This one I made straight out of the magazine, no changes. The white Japanese denim was purchased from Fashion Fabrics Club and is really, really nice. I like this pattern a lot – except that the instructions refer to a non-existent tutorial for the collar/center front. Luckily, there is a good youTube video for a different jacket that shows very clearly how to get it right: Lifting Pins and Needles

Let’s see, I also made a shirt to honor David Page Coffin in PatternReview’s memorial “contest”. This one used Sewing Workshop’s oooold Elle pattern to mimic their newer Cottage Shirt. I used one of the collar and stand combinations from David Coffin’s excellent Shirtmaking book. David’s drafting was perfect, just as you would expect.

And I made a pair of pants. Style Arc has been releasing some pants patterns with balloon-type legs that I just love – last year I made both the Victor jeans and Kew pants. This year I got the elastic-waist Barry style and like them too. It’s too bad I have never been able to get decent photos of pants, because I would love to show them to you.

And now I can go read some of the other newly-updated blogs free of guilt.


Ottobre Autumn Palette

Otto Autumn PaletteAnother Ottobre shirt. For this one, I went back in the archives to find a shirt without front darts. This is model #18 from the 5/2014 issue. I wanted dartless because I wasn’t sure how they would act with the pintucked bib.

A few months back, I got interested in finding some hemp fabrics to try. This 6 oz. denim came from Mood, so it was an easy one to order. Most of the other sources I found were wholesale types, or Canadian. Some of those Canadian Etsy vendors have some yummy-looking goods, so I will probably try some of them later this year. I’m guessing that laws in the USA make selling hemp a little complicated.

The mood fabric is available in three different shades of blue. I ordered the darkest, indigo, because at first I thought I would make some drapey pants. (These photos have all been lightened so they don’t just look like dark blobs.) When it came, though, it seemed just a little too lightweight. Browsing the internet I saw denim shirts with pintucked fronts, and thought that would be a nice change from a plain front.

Otto Autumn Palette pintucksThere were a few changes made to the pattern. First, I decided that I wanted an applied bib front, rather than pintucks that were released or ran the length of the front. The bib is shaped with the bottom at an angle – longer at the center and shorter at the sindes. It seemed like a separate button band would be the best way to handle the center front, because there was a definite difference between the front and back of the fabric, and I wanted the seamlines and topstitching. So the right front was converted to a button band. The left has a cut-on facing. Of course, the pockets were left off, and I shortened the body 7 inches. Again, used real sleeve plackets instead of a binding.

This is a very loose fitting style with dropped shoulders. The sleeve caps are somewhat flattened, but not enough for me to fell the armscye. Maybe a better sewer could do that. I fake-felled that one, even though the others are felled Otto Autumn Palette backfor real.

The back is gathered, like the original pattern.

The hemp fabric was just as easy to work with as cotton or linen. One interesting finding: I got the best pressing with a dry iron. This particular hemp has a very nice drape and a silky feel. It will be really nice to wear.

So nice, in fact, that now I’m thinking about ordering another length and making the pants I had in mind in the first place. Two things are giving me pause: the indigo dye from this piece came off on my hands, ironing board cover, everywhere. I’ll wash the shirt a few more times with some vinegar and see if that helps. The other little problem is that the fabric is so silky that it snags. That’s not something you would expect from denim. But it feels so good, I can’t help but think about it.

OK, I have three new shirts now. Nice!

Ottobre Seashells

Happy new year!

Otto Seashells

This was my last project of 2019, but I didn’t get to write it up until now. It’s from Ottobre Woman, the spring 2019 issue. Otto often has a shirt in its collections, and this issue has two – a regular button front shirt or blouse, which is what I made here, and a camp shirt. Both patterns share the same body and sleeve, so once you get one of them fitted to your liking, you have two styles all ready to go.


The shirt as modeled in the magazine has a collar on a narrow stand. I wanted collarless, so I widened the band a quarter of an inch. Added pockets and little side vents, and I used a regular placket on the sleeve instead of the turned and stitched method they used (which would work fine on a lightweight material), also narrowed the cuff a bit.

It’s nice that Ottobre uses darts. The fit is always a little neater because of that, and anyone needing a full bus

t adjustment at least has a place to start. This style has bust darts and there is a dart built into the back yoke. The fit of this one is boxy but not oversized, quite trim actually. The shoulder is not an extended one.

The fabric is a cotton chambray.

Making shirts is slow sewing for me, but I do enjoy making them. There is a lot of edgestitching and topstitching and lots of fiddly little details, like those sleeve plackets. But the construction is really modular, and breaks down into nice little bite-sized pieces. The other really nice thing about shirts is that I wear them for years. They don’t wear out and they don’t really go out of style. Knit tops just don’t last as well, at least for me. They pill and stretch out of shape quickly. I’m coming to the point were I don’t think I will buy any more knit fabric. It is such a crap shoot as far as quality goes, and I don’t really enjoy working with it either.


Another construction note – I’ve used spray starch or fabric finish to tame silks and make them easier to handle, but have not routinely used it with cottons or linens. For some reason, I decided to use Best Press when making this shirt. What a difference! It made every step a little easier, I used a lot fewer pins, and all the topstitching looks nicer, too. So that is my new year’s resolution: use starch.

The Sewing Workshop Mixit Shirt

SW MixitThis is an older pattern – the copyright is 2009 – but the three pieces in the Mixit don’t look old to me. I have made the tank many times and appreciate its higher neckline and close fitting armholes. The pattern also includes a short sleeve top with a keyhole neckline, and the shirt that I have finally made up.

I did a very slight sloped shoulder adjustment on this. I decided to trace right in between the lines for the L and XL sizes. As it happens, that was a good guess. I don’t like my things to fit too closely. This came out with just the right ease for my taste. The shoulder seam falls where it should, and the sleeve cap is sits right, too. This is not an extended shoulder style.

The fabric is a soft cotton chambray.

This will most likely be a favorite and I’ll be looking for ways to change the pattern with other necklines. The neat little v-band collar is rather distinctive and I wouldn’t want to repeat it too many times. I’ve heard that this pattern is based on the even older “Elle”, which I also have. The Elle has a wider collar band, so my first change might be to use that band with the new body.

It’s very pleasant to make something that goes together with no drama and that has instructions that are easy to follow and cover everything, from stay stitching to directions for pressing. Good pattern.

This piece got me on a little shirt making kick and I made one more this last week. I’ll try to get it blogged before the new year.


Ottobre “Cable Knit”

Otto Cable Knit 1This is pattern #10 from the 5/2019 issue of Ottobre Woman. The pattern is designed to be made up with knits in contrasting textures: the body and sleeve are in a cable knit, and the front/neckband and an insert running down the shoulder seam and sleeve is made with coordinating ribbing. 3/4 sleeves to show off layering. Side vents. I really like their sample.

The way I made it up, it’s just a simple cardigan with dropped shoulders. I got a wild hair about sewing up a really bulky piece of fabric that had been taking up space on my stash shelf for a long time. It was probably the oldest piece in there. Fiber content is pretty much a mystery, but I’m guessing it’s a poly/acrylic with a curly lamb kind of texture.

The contrast insert wasn’t going to show at all with this fabric, so I modified the pattern by measuring the width of the insert (a simple rectangle), and adding half to the front at the shoulder and half to the back. I also added the total width down the center of the sleeve and made the sleeve one piece instead of two. This is the kind of stuff that is so much easier to do when you are working with a pattern that doesn’t include seam allowances.

Otto Cable Knit 2The photo was taken with a long sleeved tshirt underneath to give an idea of the sleeve length.

It was very quick and simple to put together, and it feels great to have finally sewed that old fabric. It also feels good to sew something from a current magazine issue. This will be a great topper for the fall; it tones right in with denim, and will look good with any narrow pants or leggings in black or gray as well.

Pendleton 1949 Jacket

Pendleton Woolen Mills has issued a sewing pattern based on their iconic “49’er” jacket.

55919049_10157193337818343_5398445038311047168_nThis is the description from the back of the envelope: The Pendleton 1949 Jacket is based on the original Pendleton ’49er. It is an unstructured, unlined jacket with a straight hem. Button front has a French Placket and peaked lapels. Flanged shoulders allow ease of movement. Long sleeves are finished with single-button rounded cuffs. Two open patch pockets can be cut on the bias, matched to grain or omitted.

In the past, I’ve used camp-style shirt patterns to try to replicate this style, just doing my best to copy that shoulder flange that is one of the key features.

This was a very nostalgic project for me, because I have very clear memories of my mother wearing a jacket like this. Hers was a muted pale green, and was probably a knock-off. I wasn’t too keen on mother/daughter outfits back in the day, but now I’m happy that I can wear something like she did.

Pendleton 1949aMine is a screaming purple, though, because I have had this wool crepe in the stash for a long, long time. I ordered it because I knew that it was the good stuff…and was surprised when it arrived and was such a vivid color. I was never going to make it into anything else, so it became the fabric for a test version of this pattern.

I’m really happy to have this pattern and don’t want to be overly critical. After all, Pendleton is a fabric mill, not a pattern company. But I do want to mention a few things that were lacking in the pattern as a heads up for others that might want to make it.

Fabric layouts – the back of the envelope reminds you that you need extra to match plaids. I was surprised, though, that the layout diagrams for 60″ fabric has the sleeve cut out crossways. If your plaid is uneven, I don’t think that would work.

That instructions for that important shoulder flange were not very clear, and even though I can’t figure out a different way to make them, I’m still not sure that I got it right. The tissue has edgestitching marked for the edge of the flange, but it doesn’t seem to be complete or meet up where it should. I am curious to find out if others see this same omission. It could very well be that I just missed some vital info somewhere.

Pendleton 1949bSome other markings or instructions seem to be missing and would be helpful. There was no match point on the sleeve cap for the shoulder seam, for instance. And there was some topstitching indicated in the diagrams that was never mentioned in the instructions. The diagram showing the topstitching on the lapel looked wrong, to me. Button size was not given. Since some people will be sewing to replicate the real thing, button size would be nice to know.

However, this was not difficult at all to sew, except for wondering about the construction of the shoulder flange. And they gave separate pattern pieces for interfacing, which is a nice touch.

My fabric was a touch too beefy for the continuous lap on the sleeve placket, especially where the placket and cuff come together. So my greatest sewing challenge was due to selecting the wrong fabric. I do love the very heavy drape of the crepe, though.

Alterations: I increased the width of the back by making the uptake of the pleats larger. (the back is pleated into a yoke at each shoulder blade) I also shortened the sleeves 1″, and could have made them even a little shorter. Next time I will narrow the shoulders a little and think that will help set the flange. It gapes a little if I don’t maintain good posture. Meanwhile, some shoulder pads will help and there is plenty of time to put them in before cold weather gets here.

I followed the instructions and am glad I did. I would have done a burrito assembly for the yoke. Their method, although it required a little hand stitching, prevents any boo-boos around the neck edge and I was glad to have that come out perfect. I sneaked in some understitching that was not called for, but makes for a nicer finish around the back of the collar and at the front edges. I also did the topstitching on the lapel and collar the way I thought it should be, not the way they showed in the diagram.

Pendleton 1949cI ended up loving the color made up in this style, and think I will wear it a lot once the weather is right. It’s still nearly 100 in the afternoons here, but cooler temperatures will come. Eventually I’d like to buy the correct fabric from Pendleton in a lovely plaid and make another one.

The sleeve looks twisted in this photo but that’s just the result of taking an awkward mirror selfie.

My pattern came with a fun booklet highlighting styles of the 1900s by decade. If you’re interested in the pattern, here’s a link: 1949 Jacket Pattern


Ottobre Buttondown

Origin story: After the ikat jacket (previous post), I pulled out this cotton voile because it matched the thread that was still on the machine. There is something about having to wind a bobbin that will stop my momentum every time. Bet I’m not alone in this. Anyway, there was enough thread left on the bobbin to complete this project, so it is obvious that the Force was with me on this one.

So, having pulled the fabric, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Internet to the rescue! I went to the Nieman Marcus site, did a search on “cotton voile”, and scrolled through the pictures until I saw something that made me think, “I’d like that”. I didn’t do a full on knock-off, but did consult the picture for topstitching and other details.

Otto ButtondownThis pattern, “Buttondown”, is from the 2-2013 issue of Ottobre Woman; it is style #3. A tunic-length sleeveless shirt, it is very similar to Jalie’s Rose pattern, but has a cute  yoke which is angled on the front and curves up in the back,. It also has a bit larger collar than the Rose, more like my designer inspiration.

Designer used two breast pockets (Otto shows it with just one), and I also used two in order to have an extra layer of coverage there. Even in this fairly deep color, voile is pretty transparent. The Otto pattern has darts, collar on stand, shirt tail hem and narrow bias armhole facing.

Notes for the future: Next time, make the armholes a little less deep. They are just verging on being too large as drafted. I think I’d also like to modify this body to take a sleeve. The fit on the shoulders is really nice. I added a pleat at center back in order to have more room at the rear and will need to do that on any future versions, too.

I’m already nearly finished with another project, a 49er jacket made from Pendleton’s new pattern. All that remains are to complete the cuffs, set in the sleeves, and do buttons and buttonholes. Shopping for ginormous buttons today!

Ottobre Crispy Texture

Otto Crispy Texture 1On an Ottobre kick. My MO for this project was to pick a stash fabric that I really wanted to make up – in this case a coarsely woven ikat – and pick a pattern that would make the best use of it.

For the ikat, I was reaching for my usual minimalist-type jacket design, Anything But Ordinary. And while I have made that pattern many times and certainly appreciate the aesthetic, I’ve been wanting a little more refinement in the fit of the shoulders. This pattern from the 2-2019 issue had the bones to test as a substitute. The original in the magazine is a longer zip-front linen jacket with patch pockets and a drawstring split hem in the back, but it looked like it would be easy to adapt to a button-front, and shorten up.

Attractive features that made me want to try it as an ABO substitute: shoulder slope that is a closer match to my own, shoulder darts for additional fit, and an armscye and sleeve cap that differ from back to front.

This should have all been easy-peasy, but I have been really, really easy to confuse lately and got the center front mixed up with the front fold. At least I thought I did. I might have been confused about that, too.

Anyway, in order to fix my mistake, I added an extra strip of the fabric border on both sides of the front and took the opportunity to make in-seam buttonholes.

Otto Crispy Texture 2Not crazy about the buttons. JoAnns used to have a pretty good selection, but not any more. For shirts, that’s no problem. I go to the thrift store and for $1 buy a shirt with buttons I like. It’s not so easy with jacket buttons. So I bought some plain white ones at JA, even though they were shiny. Before sewing them on, I scuffed them up with sandpaper to remove the shine, because it just didn’t go well with the rustic weave. They are still too white, and one day when I have a better button selection I will replace them.

Other details about the construction…the ikat is a little loosely woven and I stabilized it by underlining with cotton batiste. The jacket still has a nice soft feel, but just a little more structure than it would have had with out the extra support. Narrowed the sleeve at the wrist.

Next time I will get the ABO out to copy the center front and neck opening onto this pattern, so I can get the front right and also copy the very cute collar it has. The Otto original was sized to be outerwear, so I might also size it down just a little still keeping it loose.

All in all I’m really pleased. I like the fit so much better and am really pleased to be able to refine a style that I use so much.

This will work just fine with a white top and my blue jeans or natural linen pants. The color is a little strong for me, but it won’t be a total wardrobe outlier.

Ottobre Elaine

“Elaine” is from the 2-2018 issue of Ottobre Woman, model #7.

This simple pattern has gotten me on an Ottobre kick. Otto tops fit me really, really well. The only adjustments I need to make are length (they are very long) and depending on the style, I add width at the hip. Some people find the fit in the shoulder and around the armholes wonky, but as always, one person’s wonky is another person’s perfect.

Otto Elaine 1I’m so pleased with this easy basic. The neckline is just right. The shoulders are just right and they stay put so that the loose tee can hang nicely without sliding all over the place. One of the reasons that I’m so happy with it is probably because I just came off a more complicated project very dissatisfied with the pattern. Enough that I’ve sworn off that pattern company, cute as their designs are. It would make a lot of sense for me to forget about messing with any other pattern companies and just transfer details I see in them to a similar Otto design, except for really unusual cuts. Those I probably wouldn’t be up to adapting.

Anyway, this pattern is for a drop shoulder knit top, meant to be made in linen knit. I used a hemp knit and really love the feel of the fabric. It has very little stretch, but this pattern doesn’t need much stretch. The top has a high/low hem with angled vents that are finished with a binding.

I didn’t make the top up exactly as designed. I left off the long sleeves and extended the shoulder and underarm seams of the front and back to lengthen the dolman part about two inches. Also, the binding on the vents looked a little sticky-outy to me, so I just cut a wider seam allowance there and constructed them like you would for a woven top. This is the method I used for the neck binding: sewaholic dunbar.

Otto Elaine 2Here’s how those angled vents open up.

After this I went on to another Otto project. Their spring issue this year was a very good one, IMO. It’s full of things that were right up my alley, and I hadn’t made any of them. Now one is almost finished, and another is being traced out. I’ll be blogging and reviewing them when they are complete.

Happy sewing!

Cutting Line Designs – Relax A Little

CLD RALNot long ago Fabricmart had some cottons that they listed as “Hawaiian Designer” goods. I bought a piece to make a shirt for the spouse and when it came, I was so impressed with the quality of the fabric that I bought three other prints – another one for him and two for me.

I sewed his shirt first (no picture) and the material was such a joy to work with. Lightweight, smooth, and cool, he has enjoyed wearing it this summer. It was incredibly selfless of me to make his first. At last, here is a shirt for me from the same material, different print.

The pattern is one I made once before, the little boxy shirt from Cutting Line Design’s Relax A Little pattern. The pattern also includes a skirt, something I am never likely to make.

I enjoyed making the previous version, and always meant to make it again. I like it in the Hawaiian print, even though the design details and topstitching really don’t show. This time I decided I also wanted it a little bigger. Previous version did fit, but I wanted it a little roomier this time, so I made a new tracing between the medium and large size. In this pattern, there is a big difference between the sizes.

The top as drafted is really, really short. I needed to lengthen it just to get it to cover my waistbands. This one I lengthened a total of 2-3/4 inches so that it is more of a high hip length. Other than leaving off the pockets, which are nowhere near the size they are shown on the envelope illustration, I made no other changes to the pattern.

This top sits nice and securely on my shoulders, with the neckband snug up to the back of my neck. it doesn’t seem to pull or ride backwards.

I might make another one of these in a solid fabric while these cut-on sleeves are still in style. A solid would show off the deep yoke and pockets, as well as all the top and edge stitching.