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Earlier this winter, I saw a lovely dress on Instagram and immediately fell in love.  It was a lengthened navy-blue jersey Plantain dress and the shape was perfect and easy.  


Fabric Mart had a sale a few days later and in the sale was a 4-yard pre-cut of this navy jersey, which was listed as cotton/rayon/lycra.  My striped Blackwood cardigan is also cotton/rayon/lycra from FabricMart, and I really liked the heft and hand of the fabric, plus it was in the exact shade I wanted, so I was sold.  The fabric didn't disappoint, and I was even more pleased with my purchase when the yardage came out of the wash with that unmistakeable wool smell.  I don't think it's a pure wool/lycra, but some percentage of the fabric definitely came from a sheep.  The dress took just under 2 yards, and I have about 2 yards left for another garment in the future.


I made up a Plantain from the same adjusted pattern as the purple Plantain tee I made last month.  I lengthened it 17", continuing the side seam angle all the way down.  I ended up cutting about 2.5" off before hemming it up another inch.  (I actually didn't realize that I had ended up with a dipped hem in the back until I saw these photos.  I might even it out, I might not.  Haven't decided yet!)

Following my frustration with the Plantain sleeves when I last made the pattern, I decided to use the size 16 Renfrew sleeve with 1/2" shaved off each side seam. The Renfrew has a symmetrical sleeve, but it generally fits me with the right amount of ease once I take in the side seams.  



I had assumed that the sleeve was just wider at the top, but I was curious, so I compared the two pattern pieces.  Apologies for the blurry iPhone photo, but it illustrates the differences well enough.   The Plantain sleeve, in white, is underneath the Renfrew sleeve, in pattern tissue.  

I walked the Renfrew sleeve cap along the Plantain sleeve cap, and they are almost exactly the same length.  But as you (probably can't) see, the Renfrew sleeve cap is about 1/2" taller than the Plantain sleeve cap.  I was also surprised to find that the Plantain sleeve is actually a bit wider than the Renfrew sleeve at the top of the arm (and more than it would seem, because this newest version of the Plantain only has a 3/8" seam allowance, while the Renfrew has a 5/8").  And yet the Plantain sleeve is much tighter on my biceps than the Renfrew sleeve.  So it turns out that the height of the sleeve cap has a good deal to do with fit at the bicep.  I feel like this is a pretty significant lightbulb moment for me, and am looking to the prospect of better-fitting sleeves in the future!


There is a bit of fabric bunching at the front armscye.  I think I could fix that by moving the center of the sleeve cap towards the front sleeve, the way you do when you adjust a sleeve for a forward shoulder (and this would take care of making the sleeve asymmetrical).  I may try that out next time I make a Plantain (which might be sooner than I thought, now that I have a better-fitting sleeve for it).  The folds on the lower 2/3 of the sleeve indicate that it's too big, but they really don't bother me - they pass the "would I notice this if it were on a RTW dress sleeve?" test just fine.


All in all, I think the dress was a great success and I am very excited to have it in my closet.  I'm looking forward to wearing it with clogs and bare legs in the not-too-distant future!

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

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My kids acquired another cousin in early January.  Due to illnesses (particularly the flu, which downed all four children like dominos over a two-week period), we just managed to go for a visit this past weekend.

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Shortly after making my first M7353, I made a second one.  Again I used a straight size 14 (though the size chart would have me in a size 20).  This one used up two yards of purple rayon/lycra from the stash, bought as a pre-cut from Fabric Mart earlier in 2017.  The fabric was a bit less stable than the fabric I used for my striped version, and so the dress turned out quite a bit larger than the first one on top.  I took it in a lot from the top of the waistband up to the underarm and down to the sleeve hem.
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This is the first of what I hope will be a monthly round-up post detailing my sewing and fabric purchases.  I'm hoping that this format will enable me to get most, if not all, of my sewing projects up on the blog, regardless of whether they get a dedicated blog post, since I'm hopeless at keeping notes in any other format.

I'm also going to tally my fabric in/out numbers.  I don't have any particular buying or stashing or de-stashing goal, but I aim to be more purposeful in my fabric purchases while also using up some of my stash.

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Last weekend I downloaded the update of the free Plantain t-shirt pattern.  I've made the pattern a few times before, but I'm up a couple sizes since then, so I decided to use the new pattern and refit it from scratch.
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Since making my long wool Blackwood cardigan, I've been on the hunt for another sweater knit fabric.  I was having trouble committing to one online because I couldn't feel the fabric through my computer screen.  But when I was at Joann's last month, looking for grosgrain ribbons for my girls' Nutcracker performances, I found this pretty cream-colored faux-cable knit.  It is a polyester/lycra knit, something I generally stay away from, but it felt very nice in the store aaaaand I had a coupon, so I bought 2.25 yards.  I haven't been able to find it online, but as it turns out, I can't really recommend the fabric anyway.


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I happened upon McCalls 7353 sometime last summer, and put it on my list to buy during the next pattern sale at Joann's.  I was drawn to the dolman sleeves, waistband and cowl-neck of View C.  There aren't a lot of reviews out there for this pattern, but one of the ones I saw on Pattern Review weren't glowing.  In particular, they noted the very excessive amounts of ease included in the pattern.  I wasn't put off by the reviews, and I am glad I read them before buying the pattern, because I ended up purchasing the smaller size range rather than the larger one.

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I spent a good chunk of time in 2016 laboring over flower girl dresses for my brother's wedding.  It was always my intent that these dresses be worn more than once, but somehow they didn't get pulled out for Christmas or Easter following the wedding.


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You wouldn't know it by reading my 2017 statistics post, but I am actually drawn to slow fashion and minimalism.  I read a lot of blog posts promoting slow fashion and find myself vigorously nodding my head at the idea that stashing tons of discount fabric and sewing a garment a week is just a different form of fast fashion.  But I also enjoy sewing too much to limit myself to a project a month. I don't have any guilt about the 46 garments I sewed myself last year because I really did need that much clothing, and I wear the overwhelming majority of the clothes I sewed frequently.  But going forward, assuming my proportions don't change too much, does my wardrobe really need 46 additional garments every year?  I don't think so.

As it turns out, the Itinerant Family will be experiencing some big changes in 2018, and as a result, I've been handed a ready-made set of sewing goals.


We are moving to Colombia in a few months!  I'll have no choice but to sew fewer garments this year as I'll be separated from my machines for about three months during the transition. We'll be in Bogota for two years for my husband's work.

The impending move has informed my sewing over the last few months, and it will continue to do so through 2018.  Although Bogota is only a few hundred miles from the Equator, the city sits at 8661 feet, so it's not exactly warm.  But it's not exactly cold either, with the year-round daytime high somewhere around 65F.  I assume that I will be wearing a lot of woven button-down shirts (something that I considered as I sewed all those Bonn shirts.  And I will also need more jeans.



So, Sewing Goal #1: Make one pair of bootcut jeans from the Itch to Stitch Liana pattern that I already bought.  Make another pair of skinny jeans, either from the Liana or from the Ginger pattern, depending on how the first pair of Lianas works out.

I know that layering is key in Bogota's climate, so the closet full of cardigans I've made over the past two years will serve me well.  A few of those were less successful than the others, and I've always been a cardigan lover, so I'm not going to feel bad about sewing more cardigans this year.

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This was a good year for hits.  I had a very hard time choosing just five.  Here's what I came up with.

#1:  My first pair of Ginger Jeans.  This pair, and my second pair, are actually the only pairs I own now.  I like these the best because of the way they fit; the leg shape of my second pair is bugging me so I should really go back and fix it.  This pair is a pull-on pair with a stretchy self-fabric waistband.  I really love having them in my closet and I plan to make another pull-on pair this year (as well as another zip-fly pair).




#2: My linen Bonn Shirt. I wear all four long-sleeved Bonns that I have made regularly (less-so the short-sleeved one), but this first one remains my favorite.  I wear it with shorts, skirts and jeans, buttoned-up, or over tees.  It was made from a treasured fabric, and I'm so very pleased with it.



#3:  My wool Blackwood cardigan.  When I first bought the Blackwood cardigan pattern, I didn't think the long view was for me.  But then when the weather got colder I found myself dreaming of a long wooly version.  I wear this cardigan several times a week now, with jeans and skirts, and I love it.

#4: My striped Blackwood cardigan.  I have worn the heck out of this one.  I've worn it to work just as often as I have stuffed it in my purse to go somewhere air-conditioned.  It goes with jeans, skirts, shorts and dresses.  The fabric is a really nice quality rayon/lycra jersey that is heavier and more substantial than a lot of other rayons I've used, and I think that is a big part of the success of this garment.  I'm actually hoarding the remainder of the cut of this fabric just in case something happens to this cardigan and I have to remake it!


#5: My poncho-coat.  I've only had this one for a few weeks but I wear it every day.  It's warm and cozy and, I think, pretty cute.  My botch-job on the lining does bug me a bit but I can replace the lining in the future.



Looking at my top 5 hits confirms that I derive a lot of satisfaction from sewing practical garments that get worn a lot.  I plan on making more jeans and Blackwoods, and probably more Bonns, too, in the new year.  

Coming next week, my 2018 goals and plans.  Happy New Year, everyone!


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