Posted in sewing

Cashmerette Holyoke: Strappy, swishy maxi dress

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Making the Cashmerette Holyoke Dress was an easy decision for me. I was lucky enough to model the pattern envelope. When I tried it on the first time, I knew I had the fabric and the complete and total will to sew it up.

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Image from Cashmerette Website

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My fabric is a cotton lawn purchased on our trip to San Francisco in 2018. Because the fabric is see through, I underlined the bodice with cotton batiste  and lined the skirt with Bemberg rayon lining.

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If you find that you need to line the skirt, I’d recommend sewing the lining first, attaching it to the front facing. You’ll need to remove that 1.5″ or so of facing from your lining. It went smoothly and give the skirt a wonderful structure while keeping it airy. I did choose to omit the pockets.

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I sewed a size 14 E/F which corresponds to my bust measurements and graded to a 16 at the hip. I did need to shorten the straps about 1/2″ to help with bra coverage and shoulder strap slipping. There’s also ZERO bust gaping.

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Jenny, the owner of Cashmerette has another winner on her hands.

Posted in sewing

Semi-Custom Curtains: IKEA ANNAKAJSA Hack

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Maybe my blog is just for IKEA hacks now? Heh. In our new home of nine months (six months when I finally decided I had to get some bedroom curtains), we have no curtains. I grew up in a VERY Caribbean house where curtains were the first thing that went up over many military moves. I remember buying lace with my mom when we lived in Germany and my grandmother sewing those into curtains for our home when we moved back to the States. In my first house (how funny that is to say after 15 years in said house) my mom hung curtains on almost every window my first night there.

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Above, the day we settled on our new home.

So, it was a surprise to me I went six months in our new home without them. We are lucky enough that there are blinds of some sort on almost all the windows, but I am an incredibly light sleeper and need room darkening curtains or blackout shades to sleep past the crack of down (also a dead silent room but have given up on that since getting married).

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Bedroom before we got furniture, lol

There’s definitely been a downturn in window covering interest the last decade or so. Partly the Scandinavian / MCM popularity. But, I also think because curtains are expensive. At least good ones are. I wanted something blackout, heavy, lined and a natural fiber. I gave up on the natural fiber when I started calculating the cost for curtains 244″ wide and 99″ long!

After reading this article in The Wirecutter, I decided to go the IKEA route. The IKEA curtains were just about the length I needed, already have a form of stiffener sewn in at the top and come hemmed. From IKEA, I could buy three packs of ANNAKAJSA two-panel curtains  (on sale for $60 a pack) to get the amount of fabric I needed for a fraction of the cost to buy SIXTEEN YARDS OF FABRIC, plus lining and make new. Besides, at 98″ long, I wouldn’t even need to hem them! In comparison, Pottery Barn had similar curtains for $74 PER PANEL. So, I spent half at IKEA in the end.

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I didn’t want them to look like IKEA curtains from a first apartment, so first I upgraded them with a tuxedo stripe grosgrain ribbon and weights at the bottom hem so they wouldn’t flare out.

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I read on Em Henderson’s blog to at least double the width of your windows in curtain fabric. So, I sewed three panels together and used the ‘drapery pleat calculator’ to help me figure out how big to make my pleats and spaces. I can’t do math. I hate to say that because it’s so “Math is HARD”. But, math is hard for me. My brain doesn’t work like that so I welcome the internet calculator to do the work for me.

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After sewing together the panels and my pleats, I made a ‘Euro Pleat’ at the top and tacked them in place and got them hung.

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I did ‘train’ the curtains for about a week and steamed the folds into place (no photo). But, found the top pleats weren’t as smooth as I wanted because the stiffener wasn’t AS stiff as custom curtains.

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So, following a tip from the internet google search, I clipped them, steamed, and let them sit a few days.

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Much better below.

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If I were to do something differently, I’d not trust the IKEA measurements and measure myself. They were both longer and slightly wider than the package said. When first finished, they were dragging on the floor.  I’d also plan a much bigger ‘set back’ (that’s probably not the right word, I don’t remember it) for the curtains when open. I could have put the ends of the traverse rod about 20 inches past the end of the window vs 12.

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Because of the curtain length being a little bit too long despite careful measuring (seriously, measure your IKEA curtains, I didn’t) I switched to longer drapery hooks that lifted them off the floor about an inch. You can compare how they look on the traverse rod below.

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Obviously, you don’t need to be Team Extra with your curtains. I really wanted the height, fabric density and thick pleats. I also plan to live with these for the next ten years. I do wish there were lighter / brighter color fabric options. They do match our fabric covered headboard and when we get around to painting our bedroom the grey-blue I have in mind, I think these will work well. I eventually plan on installing roman shades too which can have a print and some color.

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There are multiple ways you can install your IKEA curtains, including drapery hooks that will make a kind of pleat, but I really wanted a Two Finger Euro Pleat (well, I really wanted box pleat curtains but those are better for stationary drapes and I need mine to open and close). The staff at G Street told me to just shake or vaccum drapes once a week to prevent dust from setting in.  But, if I ever wash these, I didn’t want to sit down and have to attach all the hooks. I also wanted this specific pleat which those hooks don’t do

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I love how they look. They make the windows look enormous and the ceiling super high. Best of all, I can sleep in on the weekends and not wake up with the garbage truck on weekdays. It’s a funny thing to say, but I think my mom would be really proud of me. And ask me when I’m getting curtains for the rest of the house 😆.

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And if you’re curious, yes! We eventually got bedroom furniture. The dresser and nightstands are vintage (John Widdicomb) with a gorgeous burled wood front.  I found the dresser locally and purchased. I then googled it and found this lovely set up from a fancy local interior designer. I’m taking that as a validation of my taste, because Jordan was NOT sold when I showed him the dusty photos, lol. I am REALLY into Campaign / Hollywood Regency as of late — and he just is not. We still need a rug to center the room and some paint. But, after months of living out of paper boxes, this feels luxurious.

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Posted in sewing

Ikea KALLAX Cutting & Sewing Table Hack

Hey Franz!

First time I’m using ‘hack’ in a public space. I know language changes, but I kind of hate the word. Some people hate ‘purse’ or ‘moist’. I don’t really use “hack” or “make” as it relates to sewing.  ::shakes old lady cane and adjusts reading glasses::.  Long post to follow, but I also have construction photos, tips and video on my Instagram story highlights.

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Today I present my sewing loft cutting table! My new sewing room is a loft on the third floor of our house. It’s long and narrow and my old, beloved orange sewing desk didn’t fit the room. I was also blessed (a word I do not take lightly) to meet and become friends with fellow maker Elizabeth, who works professionally as a commercial interior designer. She was generous enough to design a sewing room for me. Won’t lie, I was going to move the cutting table to a different part of the room. But, as I started to build it, it totally made sense where she put it.

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Skipping ahead, lol. Option 2 is my favorite. This layout from Elizabeth gives me a long sewing table for my four main machines (sewing, serger, coverstitch, blind hemmer). I also get a large cutting space and pressing staion (on wheels so I can move them out from the wall), and I still get two 4" wide storage units for my 17 bins (and counting) of fabric. I may look for an L-shape desk that fits this corner, shortening the longer side. And, since I'm now scouting used office supply stores I can perhaps get one with a built in memo board. This is the design I'm going for! Many thanks to my design guru friend @bluesatinstiches! I think it'll take me a good year to finish kitting out this room. I'm excited to have a plan to work from. #interiordesign #sewingroom #sewingroomideas

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I settled on the Kallax Craft Table hack from Family Handyman specifically because it could house my 10+ years of Burdastyle magazines. If this isn’t a consideration, check out Closet Case Pattern’s cutting table or Brooks Ann Camper’s or Rowley’s professional work table (with detailed instructions).

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Lucky to have Liz and Jordan help me!

After some fantastic feedback on Instagram, I decided to use Homosate from Home Depot for a pinnable layer on the table top. At first I thought I didn’t have anything I needed to pin to my table top. But, folks told me all the ways they use the pinable layer and I went for it. It’s covered with butcher paper and just taped down with packing tape. I got this idea from Brooks Ann Camper’s blog. I’ve since done my first FBA and bicep adjustment with this pinable table and it is LIFE CHANGING.

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Now, the knitty gritty of what I wish I did differently and what I was thinking in construction.

Early considerations:

I wanted my table top to be at least 45″ wide so I could easily have the bulk of the fabric on the table if I single layer cut something. I NEVER want to have to cut from the floor again. My back is 42, not 22 and it yells at me for days when I cut on the floor.

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Storage is paramount. As noted above, I wanted to keep my Burdastyle magazines organized. And, I needed someplace to store longer bolts of things (muslin, batiste, linings, silk organza).

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The table needed wheels because access to the roof is in the sewing loft and if there was a problem. I needed to be able to move the cutting table easily. I also wanted something I could walk around. So, I didn’t want it pushed up against the wall all the time.  My wheels are 4″ high. This also helps get the cabinet to a comfortable cutting level for me. Total table height is 39″ and perfect for 5’6″ me.

What I would do differently

I used three KALLAX in a row which comes to about 46″ wide and 58″ long. Pretty much exactly what I wanted the finished table top to be. Jasika suggested I determine my countertop finished measurements by what mats I’d be able to buy in stock. I did! But….

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I didn’t account for toe clearance (thanks, Beth!) and I didn’t think too much about the countertop edge coming off of the base (thanks, Carly!). Apparently, you want 3.5″ to 4″ toe clearance so you don’t stub your toe when getting right against the table. And, you want that top overhang so you don’t bang you knee against the base of the table (mine is 3″). Once I finished assembling the base and these above issues came to light, I realized I was going to need to make a much bigger top to my table than I planned.

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Yes, I could have used two cabinets and cut my top to to the size I wanted. But, I’d already assembled the three, so one wasn’t returnable. And, I *could* use the extra storage provided by the middle piece.

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Because my countertop was now bigger than I planned, I had to buy more plywood than I budgeted for in order to cut pieces to the right dimensions.  If I’d known / thought about these things before, I might have stuck with two KALLAX as my base and made my countertop as wide as I wanted. But, with three next to each other, the KALLAX base required a top that was 60″x54″. That’s just too big to get out of one 4’x8′ piece of plywood. That added $50 to the project. Plywood comes in 4’x8′ sheets. Plus, the interior KALLAX was $60 more. And, now the custom self healing mat I need for this table top will be near $300. OUCH.

I will still be buying a custom self healing mat for my table. But, honestly not until next year. It’s going to be expensive and after this project, I need to sit on my credit card for a few months. And, my old cutting mat from Joann’s works just fine for now.

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There she is! I LOVE this table. Like, sometimes I come up to the room just to look at it. It’s so comfortable to cut on. Alterations are a dream with the pinable top. The width allows me to lay out fabric easily. The storage is EXCELLENT. Everything is at my fingertips. And, my beloved Burdas are in easy reach. Oh! That’s the MOSSLANDA picture ledge. I added it to have a place to hold scissors or pins — things I’m using at the moment.

I have a lot more work to do on this room. But, just this table and getting most of my boxes out of the room have seriously improved my attitude and mood. I was so depressed coming in here. I could never find anything and continually digging through boxes for thread, chalk, etc.

Next up: Thread racks on the wall and pegboard for tools! I also need to look into my sewing table / desk situation. But, want to work in the room a little more to figure out what meets my needs best. There are no ceiling lights in the room, which makes nighttime sewing miserable. Hopefully we sell our old house this year and I can get the electrician in to do some wiring for me. More to (slowly) come!

Posted in sewing

More pull on pants, Burdastyle 4-2011 #139

 

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*Worn with Cashmerette Springfield Top (cropped).

Last summer I put on my big girl panties and finally made some pants. I have successfully made pants in the past. But, the last few years my changing body and expanding bottom made sewing pants REALLY unappealing to me. But, I couldn’t get through summer (or life really) without a single pair of non jeans in my closet.

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The result were these tobacco linen pants from Burdastyle (Plus) that I wore twice a week. When I made that version, I left off the bottom leg band detail as I wanted to just focus on getting the fit right. And now after having worn those to pilling inner thigh,  and an upcoming American Thanksgiving to be spent in Key West with my inlaws, I knew it was time to make another pair and take a stab at the tab.

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Let me just say that my Burdastyle language skills are SLIPPING. The first time I read the bottom band / tab directions they made ZERO sense to me. The magazine may as well have been explaining Fortnite. Nine hours later I looked at the instructions again and saw a glimmer of what they were asking me to do. The next morning when I decided to *try* the instructions, it became crystal clear. There is a tab *inside* the band attached to elastic. The tab comes out through the band from a vertical buttonhole. Two buttons on the band allow you to adjust the width of the leg opening. I believe the leg opening is 22″ wide and the elastic I cut was about 16″. It’s a really cute detail that is totally lost in this red linen.

You’re welcome.

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Other pattern changes from the first time? I found that the crotch on the tobacco pair hung a littler lower than I wanted. I think this is a bit of personal choice for me. I don’t want my thighs to touch AT ALL. And, I’m really used to the fit of snug jeans. So, on this pair I reduced the rise by 1/2. Previously in making this pair, I also lowered the waistband and lowered the pockets plus some other tweaks for fit. I still prefer a 2″ wide waistband on elastic wasit pants too.

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Finishing wise, I decided to do a flat fell seam at the crotch and inside leg. As I mentioned before, my pants get a lot of wear and tear. I’m hoping that this treatment stabilizes the seam and will be more durable.

I legitimately could wear these pants all summer. So, don’t be susprised when it starts warming up on the east coast to see me wearing a rainbow of linen.

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Posted in sewing

Warm, waterproof, hooded and pockets: Jalie 2680, Stretch City Coat

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There have been a thousand and one reviews of this pattern gem.  It’s about to be a thousand and twoooo. You see, I finally got around to making the Jalie City Coat and I am 120% in love with it. 

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I really needed a jacket for travel and to casually throw on in the fall season. Something waterproof and with a hood ideally for walking the dog or running to the store. The Jalie City Coat does all those things AND had extremely flattering and easy to adjust princess seams.

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First, the pattern does call for a low stretch fabric. My soft-shell with merino wool backing from Fabricmart has stretch. But, I managed to cut it with the stretch going lengthwise vs horizontal. After a few panicked messages on the Jalie Facebook group, I was assured from others it would fit. And, it does!

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My other error made a longer lasting impact. My iron was WAY too hot when I applied interfacing to the front facing. It melted the facing, which caused it to shrink. I had to get ‘creative’ (read, made a mess) with the hem. Which caused some not so great pulling at the front and wonky hem. THIS DOES NOT ABATE MY LOVE OF THE JACKET.

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Now, on to the good parts!

ALTERATIONS:

  • Made a Size Z grading to a BB at the thigh.
  • 1″ FBA on the princess seams
  • 1″ swayback adjustment (I think I could do without or it was too much for the pattern)
  • I did not make a full bicep adjustment and I wish I had. There is about 2″ of ease of me in the jacket. So, when I wear a sweatshirt, there’s no excess ease. A coat needs 4″ of ease. An unlined jacket 3″ of ease. But, I cut out the pattern before I thought about the arms. I don’t think the sleeves are slim. I have larger arms.

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You’ll notice there’s some fabric drag around the pocket areas. I believe this is because I accidentally cut the fabric with the stretch going vertically instead of horizontally. So, it’s not as stable as it should be.

The jacket is drafted unlined. Which I welcomed because I wanted an easier project with less finishing. It also gave me a chance to use my new Brother CV3550 coverstitch machine. In fact, this project was basically my unboxing as it sat in storage while we moved for several months.

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For this jacket, I finished most of the seams with the coverstitch. It provided the topstitching a seam finish in one pass. Using the written directions I wasn’t able to finish the front princess seams in a way that made me happiest.

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If I were to do it again I would:

  1. Increase the SA on front and pocket seams to 5/8″ . Then, I’d be able to sew it as directed and go back and coverstitch for the topstitching. OR serge the front panels first and then topstitch. You could also add 1/4″ to the pocket seam and french seam them for a neater finish.
  2. Make the side seams 1″ SA to allow letting out later on.

When I make this again I will:

  1. add reflective tape at the yokes and lower arm seams
  2. I’d add a little walking ease.
  3. Serge the pockets or sew them as french seams, maybe bind the pockets?
  4. Speaking of binding, I used my binder attachment on my coverstitch to finish the facings.

Interfacing is optional in the facings and I used it. I’m glad I did as I think it helps provide support for the buttonholes.

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Finally, hemming was also done on the coverstitch.


This whole project took a little longer than I’m used to with sewing. For those who aren’t on Instagram, we moved about two months ago. We haven’t sold our old house yet (more stressful than I anticipated) and I have unpacked the bare minimum for my current sewing room. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in my sewing room starting with hardwired lights. But, that’s a big financial project and we haven’t sold our other house yet, lol.

I also started this project a few days before I had an easy, outpatient surgery to remove endometrial tissue from my abdomen/navel area.  I’d been extremely uncomfortable for six months (trouble standing upright, not being able to sleep on my side or my stomach, waking up from cramps and weird pains I can’t even describe, no waistband touching my midsection) and finally went to my doctor for an endometriosis diagnosis and scheduled surgery. I was told the recovery would be brief, “back on your feet in hours”. And I was in fact home and in bed for a week. I’m also off of strenuous, core exercises and weightlfitng until the new year for fear of causing a hernia. The point I wanted to make on endometrios is listen to your body and go to a doctor when something doesn’t feel right. I shouldn’t have waited five months. I had no clue it was that or that there were some treatment options available to me. I feel much much better now and am working to keep it under control. Whew. I wrote a lot more there than planned. Next post: just sewing 😉. I made some red linen pants for our warm Thanksgiving mini break that I want to show you.