New Work Tote and an Inari Dress

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Have you seen the seemingly infamous New Yorker tote? I have been using it as a work bag for the past few months, and came to the conclusion that I’d rather be carrying a bag I made instead!

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This idea had been bubbling in the back of my mind for a few weeks, then last weekend I met up with some fine ladies to visit Brooklyn General Store. I found some lovely green canvas and the idea in the back of my mind shot up to my conscious and the Copycat Tote’s journey began. I found inspiration from Ashley‘s Portsmith Tote and nabbed a Klum House leather strap kit, too. Upgrade!!

Before I made my bag, I considered the pros of the New Yorker tote: great size, perfect handle drop; as well as the cons: no interior pockets, not waterproof. So I capitalized on the pros and improved the cons. I measured the dimensions of the New Yorker tote, jotted them down, and made some quick sketches for how I would construct it, and what sort of a pocket to add. I wanted a place to easily stash my phone and wallet, and a place to keep a pen just in case something comes up (like you know it always does..). I also wanted a key loop so I don’t have to fish around for them in the tote. I had seen tote bags have flap backs for interior pockets, perhaps it makes the pocket more sturdy? I interfaced and used bias tape for the edges, I really like how it turned out, and there appears to be no straining when I use the pocket.

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I added quite a long facing at the top of the bag, I thought I’d like the look of it (I do!) and it would add some stability (it does!). I also created a double-sided, interfaced rectangle to lay across the bottom of the bag. Overall, the only SNAFU I ran into was hammering the rivets… my downstairs neighbor was not pleased with my banging. It was only 6:30pm, but I think it must have been quite loud, so I finished riveting outside on the sidewalk.

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I went whole hog and waxed this bag with OtterWax. I think I was a little bit overzealous with the top part, its on there pretty thick. Its also been excruciatingly hot, so I am not sure its properly cured yet. The internet has a lot of opinions on how to apply and cure this product, but I followed the package and just rubbed it on and then let it dry. A few days in, its still a bit tacky.

Oh, I also made the Inari Dress I’m wearing, a really quick sew, and I love it! I’ve made 2 tops from this pattern, but just hadn’t gotten around to a dress version until now. I found this amazing fabric the last time I went back to Pgh and went to the Center for Creative Reuse (my favvvvvv <3) and was struck with inspiration to make it into an Inari. I really wanted to create the neckband, but this fabric is not stretchy at all, so I went for the neck facing. I think I might sew it down all around, facings in general just drive me nuts!

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Overall, been really productive over here!!!

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Jean Jacket!!

I finished my Hampton jean jacket!! What a saga this thing has been! I was cruising along pretty well, and was almost finished, but right when I began topstitching the armholes, my machine broke. I had to take it somewhere to have it repaired, which was its own difficult tale, but I’ll spare you the details. Long story short, its very hard to crate around a heavy sewing machine in New York without a car! But Crown Machine Services came to the rescue and fixed it right up, so I was able to finish my jean jacket on Friday (just in time for it to be 97 degrees on Monday)!

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I used 10oz. Cone Mills denim from Threadbare Fabrics. I just found out that Cone Mill has shut down, so there are no longer any American denim manufacturers in existence, so I wanted to snag some of what’s left. I washed and air dried the fabric before cutting out the pattern pieces, and again after I completed it but before the buttons and buttonholes. I used some stashed scraps of Liberty to line the pockets and the back yoke.

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After reading Alina’s super awesome sewalong post about distressing the jacket, I used 220 and 120 sanding sponges to go to town on the seams prior to topstitching. As I was sanding, I thought it wasn’t really making a difference, but after washing the jacket it looks great and a little bit worn in!

I got a Hot Tip (thanks for the lingo, Karen!) from the_other_emily to take my jacket to Jonathan’s Embroidery in the Garment District to have the buttonholes done, and WOW I am so glad I took her advice! The seamstress sewed all the buttonholes in less than an hour (while I popped over to Mood) and they are BEAUTIFUL! I couldn’t be happier, and I think it helps make the jacket look more RTW.

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I am a little bit disappointed with the welt pockets, the top and bottoms are a little bit wonky, but other than that I really love how it came out! It fits perfectly, and I can’t wait to break it in.

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Cobalt Linen Ruby Dress

ruby_dress_tessuti_ruffle_6I made another Ruby dress… this time in a blue linen from Mood. Ever since I saw Tessuti’s ruffle hack on their blog, I’ve been wanting to make a version just like it. I finally decided to go for it with some springy blue linen. This Ruby is the first time I bound the neck and armhole edges the way specified in the pattern. This bias tape technique has always been too fiddly for me, but I finally took my time and made it work. I think it helps that this fabric was not difficult to work with.ruby_dress_tessuti_ruffle_4

ruby_dress_tessuti_ruffleI added side seam pockets, and topstitched them down on the dress front so they don’t flop around inside and make the side seams drag. I have found this also makes it easier to stick my hands in my pockets, so I like to sew them that way when possible. My other iterations of this dress have an issue with the back neck slit facing: it likes to peek out when I put it on, rather than stay put inside the dress. So for this version I topstitched it so it stays put. At this point in my sewing adventure, it almost goes without saying, but I used french seams throughout. For the ruffle, though, I used the entire width of the fabric so I took advantage of the selvage and left their side seams raw. I covered the ruffle raw edge with lace seam binding and it really does make things look better!ruby_dress_tessuti_ruffle_2

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Thanks for the fab day, Central Park! And to Jacob for being the most patient photographer. Hes getting quite good at telling me how to pose!

Springy Top

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Just in time for spring, I made the Peppermint Magazine / In The Folds Peplum tank. It was very quick, yet satisfying, as I completed it from start to finish in one morning. I am especially happy with the insides of the tank: I used a pretty mint green bias tape to bind the raw edges (except I used self-fabric for the neckline bias, because the back V was a teeny bit tricky and I wanted to follow the instructions to the letter for that part).

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I am a little sad that I made it a little bit too big; every bra I have tried on with it shows at the armholes. My horrible confession: when I got the pattern printed at FedEx, the scaling was a bit off and the test square printed big. I stubbornly cut it out anyway (WHAT???) and proceeded to make the top with these off-scale pattern pieces!!! My rationale was it was only a little bit off… I am not proud of this, and I am making a promise to myself to not do this again.

Other than that glaring and preventable error, I love this top’s swinginess, and the drape of the linen (from Mood) is fab. I am excited to wear it when the weather gets warmer, right now its swing is squelched by needing to wear layers over it. I think I’ll make this again (at the correct size!!!) soon. The pattern is super-well written, and I especially like the shoulder seam details.

Jacob snapped these pics on our way out to get some new terracotta pots, one of our plants has grown so many pups that its time to transplant!

 

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Should I make the Jumpsuit next?? I don’t know if I can pull it off…. eeEEeee!!

Tova Dress.

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I am several years late to the Tova Dress party, but I’ve finally made my entrance. I had this Italian double-cloth shirting remnant from Firecracker Fabrics in my stash since Spring, and just couldn’t figure out what to make with it. I agonized over deciding, looking up every indie dress pattern I could think of and then googling to see how other people’s looked. You can see my final decision was the Tova. (I am also wearing my Wiksten Oversized Kimono jacket from Making Magazine!)

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I think I would have been happier with this if I made it a few years ago. There’s nothing wrong with the pattern, I just should have chosen a pattern with more shaping, because I now realize that’s what I was after. If I make this again, I would extend the center front fold line to create more gathers. On this version, it was barely enough to get any at all. The collar also lays a little wonky, and the back neck sits away from my body. I think this pattern would be a better match for thinner or drapier fabric.

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I do love the “rich” feel of this fabric, and I like where I used the contrast side vs the right side on the cuff binding, placket and collar stand. I think once I break it in a little bit I will like it more.

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We had a very unseasonably warm sunny day, so we headed down to Battery Park to take these pics. Very windy, which I bet you could have already guessed!

PJ Shorts

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My favorite sleepwear is a t-shirt and PJ shorts. I can’t do sleep pants, they always bag up around my knee which drives me nuts, so I stick with shorts. I found the City Gym Shorts pattern from Purl Soho awhile back and made a pair from some scraps (previously unblogged), with great success. This weekend, I wanted a quick sew and I had been meaning to make another pair. I had a fabulous 80s silk remnant from the Center for Creative Reuse in my stash, and happened to have coordinating purple bias tape (also from PCCR!!), so I thought why not!! These came together so quickly, in less than 2 hours. On this new pair, I made the side hem split significant bigger, but otherwise followed the pattern exactly. I was surprised by how much better I have gotten at applying bias tape to fiddly fabrics. Practice really does make “perfect” (btw these are not perfect by any means).

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Super comfy, and very luxurious in silk!

Lined Drawstring Pouch Tutorial

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I made lined drawstring and zipper pouches for Christmas gifts this year. Since we moved and majorly downsized our living space, I have become much more aware of “stuff” and didn’t want to add more clutter to people’s lives. But… I saw bella_zilber‘s photo of some beautiful drawstring pouches she made, and I kept going back to it, thinking what nice gifts they would be. At the very least, someone can reuse these as gift wrap for their own giving! I made one test pouch to figure out exactly how to make them before cutting out several more, since all I had to go on was Bella’s photo. I wanted to share how I did it, in case you want to make one, too.

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How to make this lined drawstring pouch:
Notes: All seam allowances are 1/2″. Its very simple to adjust the height/width of your bag. Experiment to see what you like! This is a great scrap-user-upper. It takes very little fabric to make one. You will need: 4 bag pieces, 2 top strap pieces, and 2 drawstring pieces.

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  1. Create your pattern: Cut a sturdy piece of manilla (or cardboard, or pattern paper, whatever you’ve got) into a rectangle at your desired dimensions. I created an 8″ x 5.5″ rectangle, and curved the bottom corner. Cut out 2 lining and 2 fabric pieces on the fold.
  2. Next, cut 2 11″ x 3″ (size note: basically, cut the width as wide as your main pouch piece is wide. You want the straps to be a little bit skinnier than your pouch, and double turning the side seams will make this happen), turn the side seams of the top straps’ seam allowances and sew. TIP: Sew the folded side down and the right side up on your machine so the nicer looking stitches will show.top straps
  3. Fold the top straps in half, hot-dog style and lay on each outer pouch piece, right sides together, and raw edges aligned. Baste a little bit smaller than your seam allowance.sew_top_straps
  4. Position the lining, right sides together so the top strap is in the middle of the sandwich. I turned the sandwich so the outer pouch piece faces up so I can be sure to sew outside the original stitching line. Sew, then press the lining and outer pouch piece away from the top strap. Repeat for other outer pouch piece, top strap, and lining. Make sure your placement lines up between both of the pouch sides!top_straps_3
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  5. Open up the sewn pouch groups so the lining is away from each outer pouch piece, and the top strap is face up. Align the second pouch group right sides together on top, so right side lining 1 matches right side lining 2, and right side outer pouch piece faces right side outer pouch piece. You realllly want to make sure your seams line up here. See how mine are a teensy bit off? You want to make it more perfect than that.right_sides_togetherSew around the outside of the pouch pieces, leaving a 2″ gap in the lining so you can turn the pouch right side out. I like to put two pins close together to remind myself to leave a gap.
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  6. Trim the seam allowances and clip the curves. Turn the pouch right side out. Press. Sew the lining hole shut, either by hand or by machine (if you want your bag to be reversible, its a good idea to hand-stitch).DSC_5395
  7. Create the drawstrings. Cut 2 1.25″ x 25″ strips (or ~2.5x as wide as your finished bag is to allow room for knotting the ends), and fold in half lengthwise and press. Open the fold, and press each edge into the center. Fold in half again and sew the fold shut. “Thread” each drawstring through the top straps, and knot each end. I had no trouble pushing these through by themselves since the linen is fairly stiff, but you may need to use a safety pin if your fabric is being fiddley. You could also use cording if you didn’t feel like making drawstrings.drawstring_1
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Yay!!! All done! You can experiment with different widths and heights, and go for a curved bottom, or do a rectangular one, or maybe a pointy triangle bottom?? Or scallops?

These bags turned out so lovely, and were quick to make, especially once I got into a rhythm after making the first one. I also made two zipper pouches using Flossie Teacake’s tutorial. A great way to use up scraps!

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Making Mag!

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A little bit late to the party…. I am honored to be a part of Making’s No. 4 issue, Lines. My contribution is a Bento Bag “recipe” designed to use up scraps. These bags make lovely lunch carriers, knitting WIP bags, or extra-special homemade gift wrap. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to have a pattern in print!!! It is so cool! When I received the issue in the mail, I was blown away by the exquisite creativity of every single project. I was so enamored with Jenny Gordy‘s Kimono Jacket, I decided I had to make one immediately! I got some sienna washed linen from fabric.com, as well as some beautiful Liberty Tresco for the lining (treat yo self!). The result is a lovely oversized jacket that is the perfect layer for fall, and oh so soft both inside and out. Its heavy and drapy and comforting, just like Jenny intended.

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This jacket does use a lot of fabric, so be aware of that. If I make another one, I will cut the neck cuff pieces a little bit longer so I have more wiggle room at the bottom hem. I had to fudge the seam allowances to make them line up with the hem. Why does this always happen to me? I cut the size S, and I am glad I didn’t go M.

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See all the wonderful projects for yourself. Order a copy of the newest Making mag (or pick up one from a local stockist)!

Big News & A Wintry Archer

Its been too long! We had a big life change over the past few months, we moved from our beloved Pittsburgh to the Big Apple. Its been quite a transition from going to a huge old house to a tiny (not actually tiny by NYC standards) apartment in Manhattan. It was very difficult to not be able to sew during this transition!!! One of my top priorities was setting up the sewing zone so I could get back at it. Before we moved, I did my best to donate non-necessary supplies, fabric, scraps and tools that I don’t use because I knew our space would be very limited. So, here is where we stand:

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I still have some organizing to do (and I do have shelves off-camera with wayyyy more supplies), but this setup is working pretty well so far. So, what was the first thing I made after setting up the space? An Archer! Haha.

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I’ve had this Rag and Bone “cotton” from Mood sitting in my stash for over a year, patiently waiting to be made into something. Cotton is in quotes because although this material was labeled as such, it feels much more like an airy-spun wool. I also picked out buttons at Mood to go with it. I tried very hard to take my time and I think it really paid off, I am so happy with this shirt!! I cut the back yoke and the front button band on the bias, and did my best to match the plaids everywhere else. I used organza for the interfacing, and it works so well. It very warm! I used some cotton from my first Archer for the under collar, inside collar stand, and inner yoke, and it helps offset the slight scratchiness of the fabric.

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Tiki Uniforms!

I took on an exciting project last year to make uniforms for Hidden Harbor, a super awesome tiki bar in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. A friend who works there hooked me up with this job– apparently they had been looking for fitted ladies’ shirts for a long time but kept coming up short with ways to make it happen. Over the past year or so, I’ve made several shirts and skirts for the ladies of Hidden Harbor, as well as shirts for the men.

The fabric is all custom printed Spoonflower basic cotton ultra, some available publicly, but some is custom-designed especially for Hidden Harbor.

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I made wrap skirts and short-sleeved shirts for the ladies, and short sleeve shirts for the men. Overall, it was a great learning experience, and I am so glad I did it!

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Their drinks, by the way, are absolutely delicious. Go try them!!!