Cozy plaid shacket

I’ve wanted to make a shacket since last year, however somehow other projects would end up being prioritized. Having as many ideas and plans as I do, for the project to be prioritized is quite a thing! πŸ™‚ There were few shacket patterns that have been lined up on my list, however the main missing link up until recently was fabric – I simply couldn’t find any suitable one that I truly liked. And then few weeks ago I stumbled across this plaid wool at my local fabric store, it was on sale, there were the last 2 meters left… I liked it a lot and figured that finally I might actually make a shacket for this autumn. Autumn came very suddenly this year, and now I have my first new outerwear garment to enjoy it in!

Shacket is a mix between shirt and jacket, hence the name. It can be made of plaid or in plain fabric, usually features chest pockets with flaps, cuffed sleeves and curvy hem. I see them worn everywhere this autumn. Now that I’ve made one for myself, it becomes clear why they are so popular. It is a very easy going garment πŸ™‚ Sleeves are wide, shoulders are wide, it’s easy to drive a car in it, it looks nice worn unbuttoned, with collar up, or it can be buttoned up, if it is chilly outside. Perhaps some of those RTW shackets that are made of cotton or wool blends are less versatile. Mine is (of course) made of pure wool, so it is both – nice and also warm! A shacket might be rather utilitarian and not too flattering, but I definitely needed one in my wardrobe for those various occasions when nothing fancy is actually needed.

Preparation

I just love plaid, but it tends to backfire πŸ™‚ Cutting pattern pieces out of plaid fabric is twice as time consuming as using any other fabric. That’s because every single pattern piece needs to be cut separately. Shackets are perhaps somewhat behind trench coats when it comes to the number of all sorts of details, however, they have enough of them, especially as every single small piece needs to be matched meticulously and cut out separately. My shacket features chest pockets that are cut on bias, pocket flaps that are cut out of the plain side of the fabric, yoke tab, sleeves tabs. Since I’ve decided not to line my shacket, even though it has been designed to be lined, I had to sort out the inside finish, too. This meant that I needed to cut front and hem facings as well as inner yoke. All in all there were many pieces indeed.

My project started with something unusual – I had paper pattern printed out in the coffee shop on a plotter printer! This option costs quite a bit more, however it is so worth it! I loved just rolling out a long sheet of paper and quickly cutting all paper blocks without needing to glue anything together. I do not suppose I’ll be printing on A4 paper and glue the sheets together in the nearest future!

Paper blocks were promptly ready, and then I spent good half a day for cutting all pattern pieces out of fabric, interfacing everything and preparing to start the actual sewing. Plaid matching started with figuring out where the darker stripes should be positioned. I decided that the center of the vertical darker stripe should sit at the very center of the garment and so the first front piece was cut out. Then I marked the center lines of those dark stripes with pins so that plaid could be matched for the other front piece. This method helped me all along as this fabric was double sided.

Yokes, pockets and the undercollar were supposed to be cut on bias. To center them correctly I ended up determining the center of respective paper pattern blocks, cut a small hole at the center and positioned it on the center of the dark rectangle of the fabric. Pocket flaps, sleeve tabs and collar stands were cut out of the plain side of the fabric. Smaller pieces were cut out of block-interfaced fabric – that’s how I tried to save at least a bit of time on cutting part of the process. Eventually I was steering at what looked like a hundred pattern pieces, and my entire sewing room – the floor and any horizontal surface – was covered in tiny wool dust (for lack of a better term). I vacuumed and vacuumed, but I guess it will take a few weeks to completely get rid of it πŸ™‚

Construction

Initially I did not have a top stitching thread in matching color – was waiting for my recent online order to arrive. This meant that I had to change the order of the process a bit. Normally I’d have made the main body first, but this would have involved attaching the back tab to the yoke and that small thing had to be top stitched before installing it. So instead I started by making all the small parts. I made pockets, attached them to the front pieces, made all the flaps and tabs and put them aside to wait for the top stitching thread, and then made the collar. Interestingly enough, the collar stand looked badly too long for the collar. When I somehow managed to pin it to the collar, the entire thing came out terribly curled up. But I did not relent, and when these two pieces were machine stitched and pressed, it started making sense. That special collar stand gives the collar a great shape and it is so comfortable to wear the garment now! When the collar was made, I shaped it and left of the dress form overnight – it gained this nice perfect shape before being attached.

When my top stitching thread finally arrived, I was ready to continue. Technically, it is not even a top stitching thread – I used denim thread which is not as thick, and I really liked how it worked for this project.

Now, the yoke tab could be installed, yokes were next. To avoid exposed seams I used burrito method to install yokes. Arguably, this fabric is a bit too thick for double yoke, but that’s fine – I like this inside finish very much! Then I attached top stitched pocket flaps that had button holes in them too. Next were front opening and hem facings. They were cut in such a way that the fabric pattern would match across every seam in all directions – perhaps a bit OCD of me, but I just love that πŸ™‚ I had a bit of thinking to do on how to finish the inside of the garment, and settled on bias tape finish for the side seams, whereas all facings are slip stitched in place to make for a very clean and tidy finish.

Next, the collar went it. I had to deviate from the instructions at this stage. Had the garment been lined, it would have been so much easier. Now, I stitched the undercollar to the main body of the garment, whereas the upper collar finish was more tricky. First, I attached the hanger loop to the center back and then tacked the upper collar in place. I considered slip stitching it in place, but honestly, I don’t like slip-stitching for collars, so instead I machine-stitched it just 1-2mm off the edge, and now it is securely in place.

The time for sleeves came. I hadn’t cut out sleeves yet at that stage as I was hoping to match plaid on the sleeves with the main body of the garment. The plaid is matched around each sleeve too. In order to avoid bulk that bias tape would have created, underarm seams are simply overlocked. Installing sleeves went without incident, I finished sleeve installation seams with bias tape, and so the project was slowly closing to an end.

Final few steps were top stitching the front opening and the collar, making button holes and finally attaching buttons on. Each time I have to make button holes, I dread that moment. I probably have never had a smooth ride during that process. It was unfortunately true this time, too. For this garment I chose keyhole button hole style. It is a really nice button hole in my view, however more often than not I have challenges with it. This time the front opening edge of the garment with the facing attached was quite thick, and my button hole foot had to be operated very carefully to not get stuck (actually, it is not the sturdiest button hole foot in the whole world, but I only have this one, so here we are). Few of the button holes came out a bit unbalanced. I ripped the worst one, however on the second attempt, the foot got stuck, and so that semi-finished one had to be ripped, too. I started doubting everything. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to change the needle. When the old needle was removed, I was very surprised to see that it was a very thin needle, number 75 actually, that I managed to stitch my entire woolen coat with! Check your needles, people, before starting each project! It took three attempts to complete that unhappy button hole.

But the largest problem happened when cutting the holes open. I usually use seam ripper for that. However, this time, I managed to somehow cut into the edge of the button hole and few stitches got undone. This happened for the uppermost (hence the most visible) button hole too, and that was sufficiently long portion that got damaged. At first I was like – oh, damn it, that’s really not good! Then the problem solver in me went on to look for a solution. I removed those loose threads and stitched the portion of the damaged button hole with a narrow and dense zigzag stitch. The fix worked really well, and you couldn’t quite tell that this button hole got a band-aid to it. From then on I used tiny precision scissors to cut other button holes open, and they made significantly less damage than a seam ripper. When all the button holes we done, I breathed a very explicit sigh of relief πŸ™‚ The only thing left was attaching the buttons, and with that my first ever shacket was complete!

For this shacket I used 2 meters of double sided pure wool with plaid on one side and plain gray on the other side. I’ve decided not to share what pattern I’ve used for this project. The following notions were needed for this project: a bit of black viscose lining for pockets and the hanger loop, some 1 meter of interfacing, a bit of interfacing tape for the main seams, black bias tape for side seams and sleeves seams finish, 11 buttons of 24 mm diameter and coordinating thread (Gutermann no.701 as main thread and CA02776 denim thread as top stitching thread). This shacket cost me 46 Eur, it was made in September, 2022.

Right when this shacket was complete, I put it on and off I went. At first I thought that it would go really well with pants or jeans and not so much with skirts. But that’s not true. I have worn it with my recently made leather skirt, and the outfit looked really well. Before buttons had gone in, I had my doubts about this garment – it had looked probably a bit plain. However, as soon as it got all the button holes made and buttons attached, it became this lively and balanced garment that I really love! I’m pretty sure this one will get plenty of wearing this autumn and for the other colder seasons to come!

Let there be peace in the world! πŸ’™πŸ’›

~Giedre~

Upcycled wool skirt

This project is a continuation of my recent idea to remake and upcycle those earlier garments that I did not get to love or wear much. It is hopefully a coincidence that I’ve recently upcycled jumpsuits – I hope the time will come for new jumpsuits to get made and loved. This time around I’ve cut to pieces so meticulously made Obsessive check jumpsuit from two years ago.

This jumpsuit was a tricky and elaborate project, I was very proud of it at the time! It was my first project where I had to do a lot of check matching. Those checks are rectangular instead of being square, and also color sequence of vertical stripes is irregular. It made for a truly obsessive check matching back then, and now I had to repeat the exercise again! I definitely hope that it was worth it, and that my new skirt will get much more wearing this autumn than the initial jumpsuit did!

There were few reasons why I did not get to love this jumpsuit all that much. First of all, making a jumpsuit out of fabric meant for jackets and coats is not an overly great idea. This Yorkshire wool is some 300+ GSM animal, clearly too heavy for a jumpsuit and also too rough for an unlined garment. In the process of making the jumpsuit I had realized that this wool felt scratchy against my skin, so I ended up lining bodice and sleeves. But unlined pants were rough enough for my legs even through stockings. So yeah, little pleasure really. Another challenge was too narrow sleeves that did not feel too comfortable. And overall I felt a bit weird in those checks from head to toe. And so a bit reluctantly, I decided to repurpose the jumpsuit and make a new and hopefully more wearable garment out of it.

Interestingly enough, I do not wear skirts all that much and up until now I haven’t found a good enough reason to make skirts. That is, until now! This time around it was clearly a skirt that I knew I would have enough fabric for. And so the skirt it is!

When I made a decision to subject my jumpsuit for remaking, I had to consider carefully if I’d manage to have enough of width of fabric for the skirt. At first I was thinking about a pencil skirt, however it was quite uncertain, how long a skirt of full width I’d be able to squeeze out of those wide pants. I prepared mentally to make a skirt with a center front as well as back seam, if need be, and finally made up my mind to cut the jumpsuit to pieces. I knew that I needed to save every centimeter of fabric width, so those wide pants were all unpicked as well as their hem. The only part that got cut was waist seam. In addition to that, I had to unpick all the pleats of pants, and that was necessary for me to have four flat and (hopefully) wide enough fabric sheets to try and fit my skirt pieces on.

My task complexity was amplified by the fact, that again I had to take into consideration checks matching. I did not like that long and very conspicuous red stripe going though the entire center front of the jumpsuit (and center back, for that matter). Actually, it had been quite a feat to make it back then, but it did not make for a very appealing result. So this time I decided to de-center red stripes, and I think now they are not as overwhelming, and the skirt colors look much more balanced.

The flounce here is full circle flounce. I did not have enough fabric for two half-circle flounces. I was happy to squeeze out the front flounce as a continuous piece, whereas the back flounce was made out of two pieces stitched at the center back. Checks of flounce pieces are also matched across side seams – visible in the left picture below. And my main consideration in the process was whether or not to leave that narrow darker line right above the flounce. There I actually miscalculated a bit. That dark line was supposed to go into seam allowance, so that when I attached the flounce, the main skirt would end with a lighter horizontal stripe. While learning to match stripes and checks I’d been given a valuable advice by one of my sewing friends, that hems should end with lighter stripe – visually it is more appealing. When I attached the flounce, I realized that seam allowance of the main skirt had been too wide, therefore that darker narrow stripe was still showing up. I could have fixed this – ripped the flounce off the skirt and sewed it back on with wider seam allowance. However, after looking at myself wearing the skirt for some time, I realized that I quite liked how that narrow dark stripe works as a border between the main skirt and the flounce, and decided to leave it as it was. All in all, nothing is unintentional with checks placement in this skirt!

Up until late in the process I was unsure if I was going to leave the skirt as it was, or I would need to install a waistband. The blocks I was using for this skirt came from McCall’s M7994 dress pattern that I used to make my Fancy teal dress. I ended up redrawing pattern blocks in order to take into account all the adjustments that were needed for that pattern to work. And of course there was no waistband as part of that pattern. However, eventually it occured to me that this skirt needed a waistband. So I ended up cutting few 9 cm wide strips on bias, interfacing them and installing a waistband. I do not quite like how that straight waistband works unfortunately. If I ever make any other skirt, I should use a proper convex waistband to avoid waistband gaping. In this case, I believe gaping is also caused by the fact that straight waistband was cut on bias and folded in half lengthwise. I saw this problem emerging quite early in the process. But first, I wanted the waistband to be cut on bias to break fabric pattern somewhat. And also, I had already had enough of seam ripping in this project to want even more seam ripping while redoing the waistband. So eventually I decided to leave that sub-optimal waistband as it was, especially as this skirt is intended to be worn with sweaters, so the waistband would not be visible really.

Talking about seam ripping, even though I meticulously redrew paper pattern blocks to match my measurements, it was not enough of an effort. The skirt initially was too narrow for me around hips. So I had to rip side seams of the main skirt and also the lining and stitch them again at 1 cm seam allowance (instead of 1.5 cm as intended). This fix was necessary though as I definitely wanted to be able to sit in this skirt! πŸ™‚

This skirt is fully lined. It was one of main preconditions in order to make this garment to work, provided how rough and “biting” this wool is. The flounce was lined before attaching it to the main skirt, and the main skirt lining is separate, installed at the waistband.

This skirt is an upcycled jumpsuit and is made in medium weight Yorkshire wool. For this project I loosely used pattern blocks of McCall’s pattern M7994. Notions needed to make this skirt were: some 1 meter of viscose lining, 30 cm invisible zipper, a bit of interfacing for the waistband, a bit of interfacing tape for zipper seams, and coordinating thread. This skirt, again, did not cost me anything as it is an upcycled garment. It was made in August, 2022.

I really like how this skirt turned out! It took quite a bit of work to make it fit me really well. I guess, that’s the deal with all fitted skirts or dresses. But now the hopes are high for it to be worn often. I tried it with few sets of shoes, and liked very much how it looked! And with that I’m opening my autumn-winter season with many more great warm garments to come!

Let it be peace in the world! πŸ’™πŸ’›

~Giedre~

Upcycled leather skirt

This was an amazing and challenging project! It’s been two years in progress, and finally I’ve managed to crack on it! The main push for me to finally attempt sewing leather was recent Burda issue, in which this very proper faux leather skirt was featured. And so I figured that it was a sign for me to finally get to this project. I had all sorts of doubts before and during the project which I will share in this post. And now when the skirt is finally finished, I couldn’t be happier with it! And a bit proud, too.

Styled above with my Purple wool jacket and Evergreen jacket

How it started

Everything started a good two years ago. My mom approached me saying she couldn’t quite decide on what to do with my dad’s old leather coat. A good decade ago it was somehow very usual to wear leather coats in autumn. Nowadays this feels like a terribly outdated fashion statement, but well, this was the case back then. My mom had one, my dad had one, my aunts had theirs, even I had one. And it was all genuine leather.

There is a line to be drawn here – I would NEVER purchase genuine leather for my projects – I can very well do without a leather skirt or a coat. In this case, yes, it is a genuine leather skirt, but it is an upcycled dad’s coat, so my mind is calm as I believe I’ve done the right thing. Here’s my dear dad in his coat 11 years ago – that’s about when he used to wear it.

Getting back to the story, I wouldn’t be me, if I passed on a challenge. To my mom’s puzzle about dad’s coat I had an excellent answer – “give it to me, I’ll rip it apart and make something out of it”. It is worthwhile stressing, that at that time I had only made like few dresses and two jumpsuits, and that was the limit of my sewing experience. But lack of actual competence has never stopped me in the tracks to pursue larger endeavors! πŸ™‚

I ripped dad’s coat apart in November, 2020. Pandemics was in full swing – what else I would have been occupied with then, right? It is important to stress, that I actually ripped it, seam by seam. It would have been easier to cut it around seams, but had I done that, I would not have managed to squeeze out this skirt, as it appeared later.

When the coat was ripped to pieces, there was some preparation to be done. First of all, I read somewhere that I’d need a special needle and probably thread to stitch leather, and also adhesive tape to glue pieces together might be handy. So I ended up purchasing all of that, and also threw in a set of clips to secure pattern pieces while stitching, as you can’t use pins on leather. And then I tried to devise a pattern for the skirt.

It started with a basic pencil skirt pattern from one of Burda magazines and then I had to calculate into how many different pieces I’d need to divide the initial pattern in order to be able to make use of relatively small leather pieces that were left after ripping the coat apart. Predictably, it was larger a task than my experience back then would have allowed to complete, and so eventually the pattern making attempt was abandoned. Leather pieces got put away and rested on the top shelf until this summer.

Preparation

When in July I saw the content of the upcoming Burda magazine August issue, this faux leather skirt emerged in front of my eyes. I figured, this has got to be an occasion to finally conclude the project started two years ago. I bought the magazine, right away made paper pattern blocks, and… It became evident that my leather pieces were too small for the initial skirt design. They were simply not wide enough either for the front center piece, or for bottom side pieces. So the design of the skirt had to be redrawn. The front center piece had to be made out of two pieces. If I were to make a side seam on the bottom pieces, there was still not enough leather to accommodate them. So they had to be cut into three sections each (in total 6 bottom sections around the entire skirt instead of 2 wide panels as intended in the initial design). When I realized that I could actually join top side piece with newly created bottom side piece, and I’d have enough of length of leather to cut these two long panels, I decided to do just that and thus break the skirt design a bit. I’m very glad it ended up being possible. If side sections also had seams in the middle, the skirt would have been too trivial and unappealing, in my view.

So when I finished redesigning the skirt, the time came to start cutting all those pieces. There were 14 pieces in total: 2 long side panels, 2 top front, 2 bottom front, the same for the back, and 4 waist facing pieces (front facing has a seam in the middle as I did not have a wide enough piece of leather to cut it as a continuous piece). In addition to all this hard puzzle work, I had to do something else. A number of leather pieces had old interfacing attached. At first I was tempted to ignore it. But when I started cutting out all pattern pieces, it became clear that on some of them interfacing was attached in very weird spots. Eventually I reluctantly decided to remove it, and in some places it took a lot of effort to deal with it.

To ensure the new redrawn pattern was not messed up, I made a cotton toile. It looked and worked fine and no additional adjustments were needed.

Construction

What I had missed in preparing to stitch leather was the understanding of what sewing machine foot to use. I simply hadn’t thought of it. Regular foot worked fine on the wrong side, however when I tried to top stitch leather, half of the stitches were skipped. It was clear that this was not gonna work. I turned to my main source of wisdom – Youtube πŸ™‚ And very quickly learnt that either teflon foot or the walking foot should be used for leather. The first foot reviewed in the video was teflon foot, and I was like – “Oh, c’mon! Will I now have to order it and wait even longer?..” But then the video went on to test walking foot, and it was assessed as performing even better than the teflon foot. This raised my spirits, and walking foot it was!

I had to spend quite a bit of time in testing again and again which sewing machine settings would work the best. Eventually I found that optimal combination – there is a list at the end of this post with all the tips and tricks to succeed in sewing leather.

First I joined two upper and lower center front pieces and then connected them horizontally, too. The horizontal front seam is flat fell seam, and my sewing machine was working at the limit of its capabilities to make it, even provided that I had trimmed one side of seam allowance thus reducing bulk. Then side panels were attached. I had a very tough time to make side panels seams as flat fell seams over the bulk of the front horizontal seam. To somehow ensure the feed I increased the presser foot pressure to maximum and helped the machine by pushing the leather firmly. Finally, back panels were made, the opening for the zipper was left, and they were attached to the side panels thus completing the shell of the skirt.

When I tried the WIP on, I was glad to see that it was turning into a fairly nice skirt. The remaining bit of work was to make the lining, install the zipper and waist facings.

Installing the zipper turned into a nightmare. Or should I say, when the zipper was in, top stitching the center back seam turned into a nightmare. In Youtube videos I often see people top stitching next to zipper using a regular foot and closing or opening the zipper while stitching, so that the zipper head would be moved away. I tried to move the zipper head away, but couldn’t do that, regardless of how much I tried. So those two symmetric top stitching seams along the zipper were made in few stages, because I had to stop, move zipper head away and start again.

The worst part was that when I was almost done with this ordeal, the last 4 cm portion of the top stitching seam simply would not happen! I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I had just stitched few decent portions of the seam, and this last, very short one would simply not work. I tried few times, there were skipped stitches, the seam got ripped again and again. You are not supposed to rip seams in leather, because each needle poke will leave a hole in it. After two unsuccessful attempts I decided to try stitching through parchment paper (that was one of the advices from Youtube). This didn’t work either. By that moment I was fuming. That section of leather was all perforated already and I had no clue how to finish the seam. Eventually I ended up stitching it by hand, mimicking top stitch seam. It was not great a solution, but a sensible one.

Next, time for the lining came. When I removed the needle to replace it with a regular needle for the lining, I saw that the leather needle was covered in some sticky substance. That was probably micro pieces of leather and residue glue from previous interfacing. This might have been the reason why I struggled so much with that last seam. I threw the needle away and later took a new one.

When the lining was done, the last bit was to make a waistline facing. With new leather needle that happened without much incident. Eventually I attached the lining to the leather waistline facing and joined it with the main skirt at the waistline. Understitching the facing was my last struggle with stitching over few layers of leather. I was very glad to breathe a sigh of relief!

You can press leather, but it needs to be done at moderate heat, without steam, through a pressing cloth and using a clapper afterwards. When the waistline was pressed, I was able to try the skirt on. It was looking really well!

At first I was planning to hem my skirt. On the other hand I did not quite like how undefined the hem of the skirt in Burda magazine was looking. So gradually I realized that it might be perfectly ok to leave the hem unfinished. I actually checked out leather skirts on high end stores online trying to understand if any of those skirts were unhemmed. Some were, and so I made up my mind to not hem mine either. This is something that can be easily changed – I could hem the skirt at any time. Finally, the lining was hemmed using rolled hem foot, and with that my first leather skirt was complete!

Summary

I ran a poll on Instagram asking fellow sewists if they had ever sewn a leather garment, and only 15 pct said they had. Honestly, it was much less that I had anticipated. But also understandably so. Sewing leather is intimidating, it does require quite a bit of preparation. But it is absolutely possible and doable! Below is the list of tips and tricks for sewing leather.

  • Regular sewing machine is perfectly capable of sewing leather
  • Leather also has β€œgrain”, similar to fabric – it will stretch more β€œcross grain” than lengthwise, so pattern pieces need to be cut out lengthwise
  • Can’t use pins to secure pieces in place because pins would leave holes in leather, some sort of clips need to be used instead
  • I used the following tension settings: upper thread tension 5 / 9, presser foot pressure 2 / 6
  • It is absolutely necessary to use special knife-edged needle designed to stitch leather, I used size 90 needle
  • Regular sewing machine foot won’t work – walking foot or teflon foot needs to be used instead
  • The stitch length 3 mm or longer
  • Avoid ripping seams at all costs, because each needle poke would leave a hole in leather
  • For flat fell seams one seam allowance (which will go inwards) needs to be trimmed to reduce bulk
  • It is ok to press leather, it needs to be done from wrong side over a pressing cloth, iron on moderate heat without steam, and clapper helps too

For this skirt I used almost everything that was left after ripping my dad’s leather coat. The skirt is made using the pattern #101 from Burda magazine 2022/08 issue. Note, that the original design does not include lining. I cut paper blocks in size 36 and had to redraw them quite a bit to facilitate leather pieces I had. To make this skirt I also needed 25 cm invisible zipper, black viscose lining, and black thread. This skirt cost me next to nothing (few euros, to be specific – for these few notions). It was made in August, 2022.

I truly like my new skirt. It is possible that some time in the future I might end up actually hemming and thus shortening it. But for now I’m going to wear it as it is. Current midi length is perhaps the least flattering on me though, as it makes my legs look shorter. For my height of 163 cm either above-knee or maxi skirts look so much better than midi skirts. However this time I’m tempted to concede and accept this midi skirt – after all, this particular A shaped design is probably the best at midi length.

When it comes to styling, I tried it on as part of various styles: with chunky sweaters, white shirt, jackets, and like very much how it works with all of those styles. It is a very versatile garment indeed. My husband needed a bit of conviction, though πŸ™‚ In his view, leather garments are outdated, and I get where he’s coming from. That’s probably similar to my own sentiment of not choosing leather for ethical and sustainability reasons. However, in this case, I believe I did the right thing by upcycling my dad’s old coat. Am sure I will enjoy wearing something that was my dad’s, and also hope that my dad is going to appreciate the skirt when he sees it!

Let there be peace in the world! πŸ’™πŸ’›

~Giedre~

Upcycled red shorts

With this project I’m introducing a new category to my projects list, and that is Upcycling. Some of my early projects have produced a number of rather awkward garments. Even now, with few years of sewing experience, from time to time I still make weird choices of fabric, or pattern, or both. And this was so much more prevalent in the very beginning of my sewing career, when I was learning all the things about sewing. I have been carrying along a thought for a while now to upcycle few of those early garments that have not turned out all that well, or perhaps they have, but they have not managed to spark joy in me. During spring tidying up exercise I decided that two of my early jumpsuits would be excellent candidates for upcycling. So this time let me share what I did with my Raspberry jumpsuit.

This jumpsuit was my first garment to have a zipper, I was learning on it quite a bit. In the beginning this sturdy vibrant cotton looked like a good fabric choice for this jumpsuit design. But eventually I started disliking both – the sturdiness of the fabric and also the entire design of the jumpsuit. Two things bothered me the most in the jumpsuit. Due to the fabric being quite sturdy, pants were looking like a pair of pipes – not too flattering at all. And the other problem was shoulder line, which was somehow weirdly slopping down, making me look tired all the time. This jumpsuit did not get much wearing, I think I wore it like a couple of times only. And so after washing it I decided to cut it to pieces and make a pair of shorts out of whatever good was in it. And so here we go – a pair of shorts it is!

So what I did first was cut so meticulously sewn jumpsuit into pieces. It was a bit tough emotionally, but I waved that feeling away. I needed the upper part of pants to stay intact, and then I needed to find enough fabric for the waistband. The jumpsuit had a zipper at the back, I intended to keep that zipper there. I cut it much higher up so that it would accommodate new waistband. And of course I needed to invent the waistband itself.

What I ended up doing was borrow waistband pattern pieces from my wide leg pants that I made last autumn. I knew from the very beginning that there would be a problem with sufficient width of fabric for the front waistband. The width of cut off pants was not sufficient. The back was cut in the middle for the zipper. So the only part of the jumpsuit that I was able to squeeze the waistband from was front bodice, specifically, the middle section of it. I ripped chest darts, carefully pressed the piece of fabric and it was just enough of width for one front waistband. The facing of the front waistband has a seam in the middle as I did not have any other continuous piece of fabric to cut it from.

When all the waistband pieces were cut and interfaced, I installed the main waistband and went ahead to try my shorts on. In the process of doing so I accidentally pulled zipper head out. The zipper at the back was cut in half, so it no longer had those stopping notches at the top. But I managed to somehow forget that, pulled zipper head up swiftly, and next thing I knew, it was out in my hand. Frankly, it was a face palm situation there. I could not manage to put the zipper head back in, and so this meant that I’d need to take the previous zipper apart and install a new one. Just like that I had added totally unnecessary work for myself. Anyhow, it was what it was. I ripped zipper seams, installed a new one and proceeded to install the waistband facing. With the initial waistband, my shorts were sitting very high up on my waist, so I ended up removing a bit of that height, made the waistband a bit more narrow and made sure that shorts fit me well and felt comfortable.

Finally, I had to deal with the hem somehow. I wanted it to be cuffed hem, so I had to calculate a bit to make sure that I liked the length of finished shorts, and the cuffed hem looked well proportioned, too. Eventually I was happy with how the hem was turning out, and with that my old-new garment was finished.

These shorts are made from an old jumpsuit, and there is no pattern for them, really. I calculated all the proportions as I saw fit. To complete this project I needed the following notions: a bit of interfacing for the waistband, 25 cm invisible zipper, and coordinating thread. These shorts did not cost me anything – that’s the joy of upcycling! They were made in July, 2022.

I am really happy how this pair turned out! This fabric works so much better for shorts than it did for long pants. I was also very happy to upcycle the garment, and thus save it from being thrown out. When I came up with an idea to make these shorts, I envisioned styling them with white boxy shirt and black flats – the style below on the left. But when I finished them and started trying them on with other tops, I rediscovered my liberty crop top that I made last year. This top haven’t gotten much wearing as it is really short (I simply did not have more fabric to make it a bit longer). But with these high waisted shorts it works really well (right picture below). And now I like this way of styling my new shorts so much better than my initial styling idea! Which style works better, in your view?

I also have tried them on with my recently made bright floral blouse – the picture at the top of the post. Am not sure if this style isn’t too overwhelming and too colorful, though πŸ™‚ One way or another, my new shorts seem to go really well with many tops I own. And they already now get so much more wearing than the initial jumpsuit did!

With this project my summer collection ends this year. When one is involved in fashion business (self-pun intended 😁 ), one has to live ahead of time! My sewing projects have to be in line with an upcoming season, and what season is ahead of us? That’s COATS season, and that’s something very enjoyable for me! Even though it is a bit sad that summer has flipped to the second half, I am very much looking forward for all the autumn collection makes that I’ll be working on for the upcoming colder season!

Let there be peace in the world! πŸ’™πŸ’›

~Giedre~

Boxy summer top – Simplicity SP104 review

When I was offered to collaborate with Simplicity on their brand new pdf patterns collection, I immediately liked this very nice top and was happy to review the new pdf pattern SP104. As always, thoughts were rushing in my head as I was planning to use this top design for leftover fabric I was eager to finish. And one more reason for my choice of this top was that I was in search for a good top pattern that could later also be used in many different ways. My previous top pattern I tried to hack was cut in too small a size, and after a significant struggle with my Ginkgo top I decided that I needed new top pattern, that would be cut in an appropriate size and could work for many more projects. And I absolutely love how this design worked!

My experience with this pattern started before even getting to the sewing machine. I printed this pdf pattern in A4 format. The print-out was designed in a way that did not require to cut borders of each page, and so paper sheets could just be taped together right after printing them. This saved me quite a bit of time in making paper pattern blocks.

When determining the size that I would be cutting my pattern pieces in, I was contemplating if I should merge few sizes, as I usually do. However, the top looked quite wide in photos, and I decided to stick to single size and ended up cutting pattern pieces in size 10. It was a sound decision. The finished top is wide enough for me, and yet not too wide, which I did not want it to be.

The stitching part started with me making the sleeves. I wanted to deal with those nice pleats as the first step. Even though sleeves look really elaborate, they are very easy to make. I connected the lower pleated parts of sleeves with main sleeve pieces, pressed pleats nicely and only then hemmed them using my 4 mm rolled hem foot. When the hem was finished, it was ironed once again to press the hem nicely in place so that pleats would look neat and tidy.

The first step while working with bodice pieces was to make chest darts and then press them. Then I stitched shoulder seams, interfaced facings and prepared them to get attached to the neckline. I very much liked how back facing was designed to cover the entire opening at the back. In my view that is so much more neat solution than a simple opening made out of back seam.

At that stage I had to make up my mind on the type of back closure. Suggested solution was a simple button loop and a button. Honestly, I do not like making button loops, neither I enjoy attaching buttons on πŸ™‚ So instead I figured that long ties could be a lovely detail to embellish the back of this top. So I cut two long 3 cm wide pieces of fabric, folded each of them in half and stitched them lengthwise at 0.7 cm seam allowance. It was a real pain to turn them right side out! πŸ™‚ While struggling with that I almost regretted my initial decision to ditch the button idea. Eventually somehow I managed to turn those ties out, pressed them carefully and attached to the top of the back opening.

Then it was time to attach the neck facing, which went in without any incident. When I understitched the neck facing and turned the neckline right side out, I noticed that with the back closure tied up, it still is not leaning against my neck all that nicely. Maybe there is something with my shoulders, but it is not the first time that I have to conclude that the neckline at the back gapes a bit. When I use this pattern next time, I might want to make narrow shoulder darts at the back (and also adjust back neck facing accordingly) in order to deal with that unwanted gaping.

Next few steps were rather straightforward. Side seams of the top got stitched, sleeves went in. The last bit of work was to get the hem finished. Since I had been unsure about the length that I might want to choose for this top, initially I had cut bodice pattern pieces 4 cm longer than designed. However, after trying the semi-finished top on I concluded that I wanted it to be rather short, so I ended up making a wide 5 cm hem, which looks quite nice, in my view.

Even though this is a collaboration post, I wanted to make sure I provided an honest review. And honestly, I am very happy how this top turned out. If there is anything to be wished for, next time I’d try to deal with slight back neckline gaping, and perhaps sleeves caps may be made a tiny bit more shallow to ensure that the sleeve cap goes into the armhole a bit easier. Otherwise, it is a very nice top design that is easy to make and works really well!

For this top I used 1 meter of leftover fabric, that was left after my summer vacation dress that I made last year. The pattern used here is pdf pattern SP104 by Simplicity patterns, which was gifted to me. It is available for purchase online on Sewdirect site here.

I cut the pattern in size 10. Other notions used were: a bit of interfacing for neck facings, a bit of interfacing tape, and coordinating thread. This top did not cost me anything as I was using leftover fabric. It was made in July, 2022.

I love how this top looks styled with either jeans or shorts. In fact, upon finishing it I realized that it should work perfectly for almost any occasion. I can very well see it worn on vacation that are soon to come πŸ™‚ And just as well I could be wearing it to the office styled with more formal pants.

This top is the penultimate summer project this year. I made it just before summer vacation in anticipation of having plenty of opportunities to wear it during vacation πŸ™‚ I have one last summer project to share and then I’ll be back to square one and start new autumn season!

Let there be peace in the world! πŸ’™πŸ’›

~Giedre~

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