Carmen is a self-taught seamstress who discovered the joy of sewing on a whim while in law school. Needing a study break, she bought her first sewing machine from Wal-Mart and taught herself how to sew a tote bag. Soon thereafter she was buying sewing books and taking local community education classes.
Sometimes the garment you end up with is not the garment you were originally hoping for. That’s the story with this Simplicity 8738 sweater, which I had intended to sew as a baggy, oversized turtleneck . However, this winter I’ve committed to sewing through my stash of wintery fabrics and not purchasing any new fabrics. I’ve had this pepto bismol pink crazy fabric in my stash for at least a couple of years now. Although I’m not thrilled with the end result, I still learned a thing or two. To learn more about this project, read on.
I wanted to end up with a gorgeous casual sweater like this model is wearing. However, due to lack of stretch in my knit fabric, I ended up with a basic cropped sweater.
I originally cut out a turtleneck for this project and attached it to my sweater. However, there was not enough stretch in this fabric to comfortably wear this as a turtleneck. It was way too tight. So I unstitched the turtleneck and cut out the neckband. I have never had good luck attaching a neck band. I always end up with something that sticks up, which is what happened first with this sweater.
I was determined to get the neck band right, though. The trick to remember when attaching a knit neckband is that your neckband actually needs to be smaller than the circumference of your sweater. Then, when you go to attach the neckband you’re going to stretch it as you sew. If done correctly, you’ll end up with a perfectly smooth neckband. I was eventually able to get it right. To give it that final touch, I stitched the seam allowance to my sweater using a double twin needle.
I’ve been sewing for seven or eight years now and this is the first time I’ve ever managed to get a knit neckband to sit correctly on my garment. I’ve successfully sewn pretty knit neckbands before, but those were achieved by just folding over the neck and stitching it in place, like here:
that neckline though
So even though I’m not crazy about this crazy ass sweater, I’m still glad I pushed myself to get the neck band right and overcome my fear of knit neck bands. And sometimes that’s what improving your craft is all about.
I’m looking back at the year and these are my top 5 favorite garments I created. It was a slower sewing year for me than usual. I moved twice in one year so that really slowed me down. And I found myself exploring new hobbies, like cooking. All in all, I sewed eight garments, including a pair of pajamas, a resort set, two sweaters, a jacket, and three dresses. To see my favorite projects from the year, read on.
5. Resort Wear
#5 favorite look is this two piece set made using New Look 6518. It’s made from an Ikat linen fabric I bought at Joann’s. I finished this outfit in October when it was just starting to get chilly so I never actually wore it out. But I can’t wait to bust it out this spring. After this, I bought the iphone x and enlisted the help of my boyfriend Danny to take better blog photos, too. So hopefully this is the last of shitty blog photos.
4. Black and White Dress for Sewn Magazine
I love this gorgeous black and white dress I made for Sewn magazine. This was made using Butterick 6587 in a set of suiting weight fabrics from Joann’s. I haven’t worn it much yet, though, because the fabrics are lightweight. I’m looking forward to debuting this at work come spring. And I’d love to get creative and sew it up again in different prints.
3. Marc Jacobs Yellow Floral Dress
I really love this dress. It’s made from McCall’s 7745 in a bright yellow print from Marc Jacobs that I bought at Mood Fabrics a couple of years ago. It’s so lovely and exuberant. I can’t wait to wear it again this summer.
2. Cozy Cardigan
This cardigan is my second garment using McCall’s 7476. This year I really overcame my fear of knits. Not only that, I learned to embrace knits. And I find that I actually wear my knit garments a lot more than my frou frou garments. A beautiful knit just feels delicious and cozy against your skin. Plus, I sewed on this patch from MJ Trimmings in New York. I just love this cardigan.
1. Audrey Hepburn Toaster Sweater
This is my absolute favorite garment I made this year. It’s the toaster sweater made with Simplicity 8529, originally a Sew House Seven pattern. The fabric is a gorgeous knit wool from Joann’s. I love the neckline on this pattern. And I wore this more than anything else this year. I can make the most gorgeous dress in the world, but if I never wear it then what’s the point?
I made these pajamas earlier this year but I never wore them! The cotton is too stiff to feel comfortable. I’m just not feelin’ em.
I think this dress is so gorgeous but I felt really shy trying to wear it. I’ll give it another try this spring.
I have mixed feelings about this faux fur jacket. It’s a little extra. I can’t decide if I like it.
My goals for 2019 are to sew more than 8 or 9 garments. I want to make something at least once a month, so that I’ll end up with 12 me made garments by year’s end. I also want to sew something for Danny. And I want to make some cool costumes for Burning Man.
Which look did you like best? What are your sewing goals for 2019?
Have you heard of Sewn magazine yet? Sewn just celebrated its one year anniversary and is an independent sewing and fashion magazine. Its mission is to celebrate diversity in the sewing community, which is often underrepresented in mainstream sewing publications. I was honored when the founder of the magazine asked me to participate in its one year anniversary issue. The challenge was to sew a garment that can transition from work to a holiday party. I chose to sew up Butterick 6587, View B. For more photos and details on this project, read on.
I was so excited when the magazine arrived in the mail. Sewn magazine is printed in beautiful glossy quality. I loved flipping through the pages and seeing everyone’s projects.
For this project, I chose a dress pattern with dramatic bell sleeves and color blocking possibilities. For this dress, I cut a 10 and graded to a 14 at the hips. I cut the sleeves in a 10.
The fabric is from Joann’s. It has a lightweight suiting feel to it.
The construction was very straight-forward. I’m looking forward to making this dress again, maybe playing with prints and different fabric types.
To turn this holiday look into something appropriate for the office, I threw on a white blazer and switched out my earrings and shoes.
Shout out to my friend Michelle for taking the magazine quality photos. She’s a local photographer in Lexington and she’s doing amazing things chasing her dreams!
Have you ever heard the expression “sewing frosting” or “sewing cake”? I hadn’t until I came across an instagram challenge hosted by @truebias and @closetcase.patterns. The challenge is to sew something #sewfrosting, meaning fun, fabulous, frivolous, as opposed to #sewcake, which I guess are those wardrobe staples. I find that much of what I sew falls into the #sewfrosting category. What about you? I had been wanting to make a cropped fur coat anyway, so the timing was perfect. For more construction details and photos, read on.
This jacket was made using McCall’s 7257 view B. After making this one, I’m convinced I need to make the longer version, view D. Last year I bought two yards of this faux rabbit fur from Joann’s on sale for $8.99 yard.
I decided to cut my project in a medium and I am satisfied with the fit. The fabric itself felt fairly lightweight so I decided to underline all of my pattern pieces with Pellon thermoblast sew-in interfacing. I first tried fusible interfacing but found this method was damaging the faux fur. If you haven’t used sew-in interfacing before, do not be afraid. I cut the interfacing the same size as my fabric pieces and hand basted them to the faux fur using long hand stitches.
This method is known as underlining and allows you to treat the underlined pieces as a single piece of fabric. If you know of a better or more proper method for adding thermoblast to your garments for warmth, please let me know in the comments below. This method worked well for me, though. I also chose a heavier fabric for the lining, which was two yards of black polyester rayon, on sale from Joann’s for about $5/yard. Because I was sewing through multiple layers of thick fabric, I used a size 16 needle, but I could have used an 18.
This jacket is super easy, especially if you do not choose to add interfacing or underlining. The pattern does not call for interfacing. I just chose to add thermoblast interfacing for added warmth. There are only three pattern pieces and if you want a baggy jacket, like me, then fit is super easy. I cannot wait to sew up a second longer version in a funky faux fur fabric. Have you made this coat before or something similar? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Doing my best to channel Audrey Hepburn on this beautiful, crisp, autumn day. I recently made this toaster sweater, a Simplicity pattern by Sew House Seven patterns. This pattern came out last year and I’ve waited a year to make it. This past year I’ve really overcome my fear of knits and this project was a breeze. You could sew it up in an afternoon. For more photos and construction details, read on.
I just love how chic the model looks in all of the different view options. I found this gorgeous lightweight knit wool from Joann’s last month. I want to say the fabric was around $20 or $25/yard, and I bought mine on sale maybe around $10 or $15/yard. I bought two yards for this project and decided to sew up View A. I did prewash this fabric, but I only threw it in the dryer for a few minutes and then let it hang dry. I also cut the size small and as you can see from the photos, these sweaters have a lot of ease built in.
The pros on this pattern are there are only four pattern pieces! Also, the pattern does not call for any interfacing (yay!), but after I attached the collar it was sitting really sloppy. I decided to go back and interface my collar pieces so they would have a bit more shape.
If I had been using a heavier fabric it probably would not have been necessary to interface the collar, so keep that in mind.
I really love the side slits and the high low hem on this sweater.
I wanted to use my coverstitch machine on this project, but it was not cooperating. I think my fabric was too lightweight and I could not figure out how to get the settings right. So instead I hemmed this project using a twin needle on my regular sewing machine and that worked just fine. I really want to make view B in a chunkier fabric. Have you tried this pattern before? Drop a link in the comments and let me know what you think!
Are you participating in the #cosycardichallenge on instagram, hosted by @amanda_isewalot and @thestitchsistersuk ? There’s still time to join the contest! Follow them on instagram and post your make by November 30th! If you’re not participating, follow my instagram (@carmenross88) and show me some love. I love a good instagram contest. Anyway, my entry is McCall’s 7476 and I am loving how this cozy boyfriend style cardigan turned out. For more pictures and discussion, read on.
This is the pattern I’ve used and it’s actually the second time I’ve sewn this up. You may remember my coatigan from last year. I made View E last year but found that I didn’t wear it out of the house much. It just looks too much like a house robe. I decided I might get more wear out of a shorter version, and I opted for the collar-less version B here.
I cut the same size, medium, and I love the over-sized slouchy look. I could cut a small if I wanted something more form fitting. The fabric was a really good find at Joann’s. It’s a ponte knit faux tweed that I bought for about $10/yard on sale and I purchased two yards for this project.
The fabric has a nice, heavy, drapey weight to it and it feels much more expensive than the $10/yard I paid.
This cardigan came together fairly easily. There are no set-in sleeves so that’s always a plus. But the real reason I wanted to tackle this project is because the last time I made this was the only time I ever used my coverstitch machine and I wanted to re-familiarize myself with it.
I bought this used Husqvarna Viking Huskylock 936 coverstitch machine around this same time last year and I’ve only used it now three times. I have to admit I have been really intimidated by it. But I want to sew with warm knits for winter and I wanted to get over my fear of using this machine. Honestly, it took me maybe two hours to finally get it threaded correctly and stitching beautifully. But once I figured it out all by myself I felt like I could do anything. It was such a girl-power-I-don’t-need-no-man-moment. And it made this knit project a breeze. A coverstitch machine is not the same as a serger. A coverstitch is a different type of stitch. It creates two parallel lines of stitching for hemming and topstitching knits. It allows your stitches to have stretch to them, unlike a traditional sewing machine stitch. Anyway, I convinced myself last year that I just had to have this machine and I haven’t changed my mind on that. Enough talk. More pictures.
As a final touch, I fused on this iron-on patch that I bought from M&J trimmings in New York when my boyfriend and I visited last February. M&J trimmings is such a cool store and had the dopest collection of patches. What do you think? Too much? I’ve got an even louder patch I’m saving for the back of a jacket.
If you’ve happened to notice that my photo quality has much improved, it’s because I bought an iphone x. I usually shoot using my DSLR, a remote, and a tripod. My DSLR is capable of taking nice quality photos, in focus. But I just cannot for the live of me get the camera to focus when I’m taking the pictures myself using a tripod and remote. So this time I had my boyfriend snap some quick photos of me using my iphone. I did all of the editing on my phone quickly and easily using the Snapseed app. Honestly this whole process was so easy that it’s now my preferred method of getting my garments photographed, as long as Danny or someone else will continue to oblige me. If you blog, I’d love to know how you go about photographing your projects. Drop me a comment so I know I still have readers out there!
I’ve been quiet on my blog for the past five months but I have been sewing. It’s been a whirlwind busy year for me but I am looking forward to a long winter of hibernation and sewing. I finished this two piece set last week when temperatures were still in the 80’s here in Kentucky. But winter is slowly settling in and I won’t be wearing this out until next spring. Fortunately the sun peeked out long enough to allow me to snap some pictures this afternoon. To learn more about this project and what I’ve been up to, read on.
This set was made using New Look 6518. I loved the model’s look so I tried to choose a similar fabric. She’s wearing seersucker but the closest I could find was this linen ikat from Joann’s. It was a little pricey at around $20/yard but I think I was able to use a coupon. I bought almost four yards.
I love how this whole outfit came together. I cut a size 12 for both the top (view B) and the pants (view D). Everything fits really nicely In fact, I could tighten the elastic waistband easily enough. Linen fabric stretches out quickly. I love that this pattern did not require the use of any interfacing. That’s one less step for me! Check out some detail shots below:
I have two more projects to share with you soon. If you follow me on instagram (@carmenross88) you may have seen that I am going to be featured in the November/December issue of Sewn Magazine! It’s a project that I sewed in August but I cannot share it with you until after the issue is released. I also just finished a cardigan that I hope to share with you soon.
Sewing friends! Do you like to participate in instagram challenges and sew-a-longs? I do and this dress was made for the @prettygirlssew May Sew Along. Follow them on instagram and join the June sew-a-long (also follow me too at @carmenross88 ) Anyway, I’m really thrilled with the pattern choice for this month and am super pumped to show off this dress all summer long. For more details, read on.
This pattern is McCall’s 7745, a brand new release for spring/summer.
I’ve sewn a similar style cold shoulder top before, here, but I think this dress was much more successful.
Don’t you just love when your fabric selection and pattern work perfectly together? This fabric is a Marc Jacobs print I picked up at Mood Fabrics for maybe $18/yard? I bought three yards and used it all up so this project cost me about $54. I’m in love with the fabric. It has a heavy/spongy/bouncy feel to it. Make sense? It drapes beautifully but it isn’t light.
The pattern is designated as “easy” but I disagree somewhat. A lot of work went into constructing the bodice and getting everything to line up nicely. For the bodice, I cut a size 8 (34″ bust) and graded to a 12 at the waist. I then cut the skirt pieces out in a 12. Worked perfectly.
I’ve found as my skills have progressed I’ve also become a lot better at cutting out the correct pattern sizes and knowing when and where to grade to another size. I did, however, shorten the shoulder straps by about 5 inches. Otherwise the bodice would have been much too revealing for me.
No joke, I’m feeling sexy as hell in this dress.
The pattern also calls for you to use ribbon as ties. Girl, don’t do that. Your dress will look stupid. Get yourself some decent trim or use your fashion fabric to make your ties. I used faux brown leather trim from Joann’s to make my ties. I’m not saying that’s the best option out there, but don’t use ribbon. Come on.
Ok I think that’s it. I’m ready to get my summer on now. What about you? How do you feel about the ruffles and cold shoulder trend? Are you going to try this pattern?