Belated FOs: The plaid tee and black puff sleeve

Belated FOs: The plaid tee and black puff sleeve

Someday soon I’ll be ready to do some spring-into-summer wardrobe planning, and am imagining once again including this little plaid top in my closet inventory with the words “never blogged,” followed by all the natural questions about it. So instead I thought Gee, Karen, what if you blogged it! And actually there are two of them from the same pattern, neither one ever properly recorded, so I’m here today to correct the record.

Both of these tops were sewn from a now out-of-print Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity pattern #2472. I can be that specific because I have this 6-year-old blog that has a much better memory than I do. Having just tripped back through a search, I can report that when I got the urge to take up sewing again after learning to knit, the first thing I sewed was this crosshatchy quilting cotton version after seeing this one on Make Something. I’ve made several of them over the years, always tampering with this simplest of patterns, but the two above are the ones that have stuck around and been worn.

The black one (from early 2014, just before I left Berkeley) is in a chambray I had left over from another project, just barely enough to squeak out a cropped version, which I love. With those gathered sleeves, it’s probably the girliest thing in my closet! But it looks great with wide-leg pants, and can be worn in just about any setting, so even though I wouldn’t want you to see the inside of it, it’s a keeper.

The plaid one is sewn from a translucently thin cotton plaid I bought from Drygoods Design in early 2015. All I did with this one is adjust the length, shorten the sleeves and hem them — no gathers. It was the last thing I ever sewed on my old machine, after the *#@!er acted up while I was topstitching the neck on this beloved and delicate fabric. It’s also wonky because the fabric has biased considerably over time. So it’s another case of something that might not pass muster with any scrutinizing sewers, and the fit is not quite as intended, but it has nonetheless proved to be a useful member of my closet for three years now.

I had some of the plaid fabric left over, and bought a couple more yards from Fancy Tiger not long after, and have been hoarding it. Despite the biasing, I absolutely adore this plaid. It’s hard to see in a photo but it’s black and grey and golden-tan, and the grey reads almost as lilac or pale blue depending what you put it up against. It’s just lovely. But given how thin it is and how it behaves, I have yet to figure out the ideal use for the yardage that remains.

RE the pattern, though, you can easily replicate this with the Fen top or Shirt No. 1. Just tinker with the length as you like, make the sleeve flaps elbow length, then gather them to your liking and finish with bias trim.


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: My first sweatshirt

My first Linden sweatshirt (2018 FO-11)

My first Linden sweatshirt (2018 FO-11)

I was trying to figure out how this could be the first garment I’ve made this year, when it’s mid-April already, and then I remembered: blue Bellows. Anyway, here I am crossing the first thing off my Spring Make List, item 3b. This was a bit of a trial run with me and the Linden Sweatshirt pattern, and I promise it’s much less sad and droopy looking on me than it is on the dress form. I’m also still pretty new at sewing knits, and this fabric posed an extra challenge, so I went into the whole thing with a decidedly que sera attitude. It was very quick to make and I’ll get plenty of use out of it, but it’s not my best work.

The fabric is a super gushy, thick pile terry, with a little bit of a surface pattern to it. So there was no chance of finding matching ribbing, but I wasn’t sure how well it would work to use itself either. I also had a pretty small piece of it, all of which is why I opted to use it for view B of the pattern, which has a folded hem at the waist and short sleeves, and only the neckband to worry about, ribbing-wise. My other concern was the neckline itself. Jen Beeman and I have become great friends over the past few years, and agree on just about everything, but necklines are not one of them! I can’t stand a gaping neckhole, and Jen can’t stand anything up around her neck, so I expected that this neck would be larger than I would have drafted it myself. Rather than worrying about it (since I wasn’t sure this was even going to work) I opted to trace off the pattern as is, sew it up, and see how much I might want to adjust the neck on the next one. Sure enough, when I sewed the front, back and sleeves together — this is a straight size 8 — the neck was on the big side for me, but fortunately I had just enough fabric to cut a wider neckband and make up for some of that.

My first Linden sweatshirt (2018 FO-11)

Attaching the band was a job, thanks to the fabric. There was absolutely no chance I was going to get three layers of this fluff under the foot of my serger, so I basted it together on my regular machine — then unpicked the parts where the layers shifted and redid it, congratulating myself that I hadn’t tried that on the serger. Sewing the three layers together caused the top one to fold back on itself at the stitching line. So next I carefully zigzagged all three layers of the seam allowance together, again on my regular machine, and by then they were compressed enough that I could get the whole thing under the serger and finish the edge properly. I still have one spot where the outer layer wasn’t quite caught enough, right at the top of the raglan seen in the photo, and then I did a shoddy job topstitching it. But these are the sorts of things that the average person who sees it on me will never notice!

Then came the hemming. Even with the presser foot pressure off and using a long stitch, sewing the two layers together caused the whole thing to splay a bit, so it’s a little bell-shaped, which is fine with me, honestly. (I added two inches to the length when cutting it, and sewed a wider hem than called for.) But I didn’t want the same splaying to happen at the sleeves, so I just serged the edges and will wear them rolled.

This top has a lot in common with the wool knit version made from Jen’s other pattern — my whole modified Hemlock tee thing. But I’ll try to get pics of me wearing them both for comparison. Apart from one being boiled wool and one cotton jersey, meaning they’re useful at different times of the year, it’s a good demonstration of how much better I look in a raglan than drop-shouldered garment.

Having now sewn this wonderfully quick and simple pattern (just like everyone always told me), I’m excited to make my proper heather grey sweatshirt version.


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: ScandinAndean earflap hat



Elsewhere: Great links for knitters and sewers

So that was a fantastic discussion Mr. Day-Lewis and his gansey generated yesterday — thank you all for being such great sleuths! It was apparently left to DDL by his father and previously included in the Moray Firth gansey exhibit, which was what inspired Cordova’s Gansey Project that I had linked at the foot of the post. Amazing! But the comments are full of all kinds of great thoughts, leads, links, possible sources, and pattern suggestions. I’ll follow up on it further when I can dig deeper!

Other than that, here’s a spot of Elsewhere:

– I’m kind of love-hating the Spring 10×10 challenge at this point. Loving seeing everyone’s else’s photos; hating taking my own! I’ll have a recap when I’m done, but have been posting daily ootd pics to my Instagram and feed and Story @karentempler

Words to live by

Vintage sewing patterns directory, aka rabbit hole of doom (thx, DG)

– This might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read about what it is to make things for loved ones

– Someday I’ll get to the Faroe Islands; meanwhile there’s this (photo above by @fancyjaime and definitely check her IG feed for many many more)

– This chic dog sweater pattern has increased my dog longing roughly tenfold

Stunning mittens for a worthy cause

– I’m super into the shape of this sweater and the textures of this one (and omg this whole ensemble)

– and this combination of eye-popping sweater dress and suede trench coat

– and Mary Jane is still my hero

Happy weekend, everyone! See you next week—







Spring ’18: The make list!

Spring ’18: The make list!

Following on last week’s assessments of my wants and my needs, I sat down this weekend with my notebooks and favorite pencil and stack of recent sketches. The simple fact is there are at least a half-dozen things I’m eager to knit and sew right now, all of which are more interesting than the projects pictured here, but I’m putting the needs first — especially since they’re fairly simple things to knock out:

1.) Finish the little grey marl sweater already on my needles.

2.) Fix the navy canvas pre-sleeves Clyde Jacket I got at Elizabeth Suzann’s sample sale in December. Meaning: trim out deep vest armholes (along the lines of one of my State Smocks) and finish the edges.

3.) How many times have I said this? Sew myself a heather grey Linden Sweatshirt. I’m actually thinking I’ll make two: One exactly that, and the second the short-sleeved version in a thicker bouclé knit I also have on hand. (While I have the pattern out …)

4.) Replace my natural toddler pants with an identical pair, this time in undyed cotton canvas. (Fabric picked up for $2/yard as remnant at ES’s garage sale last summer. What did I ever do before I lived near Elizabeth Suzann?)

5.) Make another pair of toddlers in my light blue, recycled-denim canvas, this time tinkering even more with the leg shape and rise. (If you’re confused, I am currently in possession of two fabrics made of recycled denim: one lightweight and drapey, the other one a sturdy denim/canvas.)

6.) Replace the white linen shell.

These are all projects where I already have the pattern (in most cases already traced and tweaked) and also have the fabric ready to go, apart from needing to find good ribbing for the two sweatshirts. So all I need is the time and head space to get going. And then there’s one other near-term thing:

7.) I recently freed myself of the need to carry a laptop back and forth with me every day — hallelujah!! — so I can have any everyday bag I want for the first time in awhile. I’m thinking for spring/summer, I’ll make myself a big ol’ Stowe Bag! (There have been so many inspiring ones posted to the #stowebag feed lately!) I have a blank linen one in progress, just waiting for it’s bias bindings, but I have some ideas about some very specific pockets for this scenario, so may be starting a new one.

That’s more projects than the number of months since I last sewed, I think, but it seems really doable. And then with these necessities (back) in place, I can start to scheme about some more adventurous stuff for … Summer of Basics! More on that to come.

Fashionary sketch panels, Fashionary sketchbook and spiral notebook from Fringe Supply Co.


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Spring ’18 Haves and Have-nots

Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

There’s a sufficient level of flux and lack in my closet right now that I don’t feel like I can do quite the same sort of tight, functional closet inventory I’ve done the past couple of seasons. Instead, I’m taking stock of the key haves and the critical have-nots (with underlined notes-to-self along the way), in the hope of translating this into a very focused plan for what I get to knit and sew for myself in the near future. So from all of this will come the make list—

TOPS WITH SLEEVES (that aren’t wool or flannel)

I mean, crickets; see above. And this is the number one thing a person needs at this time of year — actually at least half the year here — when it’s too warm for flannel shirts or wool sweaters (both of which I do have, of course) yet not warm enough to be leaving the house sleevelessly. I have the one cotton fisherman sweater (old L.L. Bean); my blue Archer button-up (and the somewhat redundant chambray workshirt I rescued from Bob’s discards a couple years ago); my little black gathered sleeve top (never blogged); plus my black silk Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock (no longer available), and to put that last one in the “sleeves” category is to define it loosely. So as keen as I am to sew myself some more pants, I need to concentrate on this area first and foremost.


Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

If there’s one thing I have in spades, it’s sleeveless garments. I’m in decent shape for little sleeveless tops, with all my old chums hanging around: black silk gauze shell/black Adventure tee, striped Adventure tee, grey linen sleeveless tee (Everlane, no longer available), striped cotton shell, dotted chambray tunic (Endless Summer, made by a friend). Sadly, the one I lean on most — the white linen shell — was involved in a laundry mishap and is now a sad, dingy shade of not-quite-blue-ish. It can be solved by dyeing it a more deliberate shade of blue, but the little white top is a key piece of my wardrobe missing, so it needs to be replaced asap. A few of the others are looking a bit worse for wear at this point, plus a quick little sleeveless top is my favorite thing to make, so I’ll likely be adding a couple more (in color/pattern), in addition to replacing the white linen one.

In the not-quite-sleeves category, I have my little plaid top (never blogged), my blue stripe Fen and (not pictured) my two Harper Tunics: natural linen and olive cotton (no longer available), the former of which needs a dye job or some contrast stitching or something so it will look less deathly on me. But the olive one is a gem.

This is my favorite time of year for my black Sloper sleeveless turtleneck — either over a shirt or tee, or on its on. I’m also in good shape on vests — from my black Anna vest to my Cowichan-ish vest, which has its window of opportunity right now, to my very old J.Crew holdovers, the denim vest and trench vest. My beloved State Smocks are everything right now, through summer and fall. And my ES sleeveless navy canvas Clyde Jacket cum vest (top row, sample sale score of all time), which needs a bit of attention and then will be a big star of the season.


Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

My army shirtjacket is my absolute favorite thing right now, thrown over everything from a sleeveless top to a smock to a dress with boots. The only one of my cardigans still in play is the black Linen Quill cardigan, which I recently blocked out a tad longer and have decided to leave alone once and for all, largely because I absolutely love how the length of it works with my State Smocks. And there’s the lovely tobacco-colored linen Nade tunic from last year (no longer available), which is easy to throw on over assorted sleeveless things. It would really be nice to have another season-spanning cardigan sweater.


Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

This is a bit of a sad situation. Of the four pair of “toddler pants” I’ve made myself, two have gotten ruined in the wash. You already know about the original olive pair going all discolored. (I do still wear them around the house or on manual labor days.) Then after relying heavily on the cherished ivory pair all winter, I finally worked up the nerve to wash them — on delicate/cool, even though the fabric had been pre-washed in hot water. They came out about two sizes smaller and several inches shorter, so they’ve gone to a friend’s house for a try-on. (Sob!) That leaves the denim and the camo pairs, plus my clay-colored Wide Clydes, and it’s time to bring back out the black linen Florence pants. I’ve been itching to make some pants in a little bit different shape in a lighter faded-denim blue (among other things), but replacing the natural ones might now be top priority. And then there are my dark jeans (x3) and my natural jeans, but I’m just not wearing jeans as much lately and still feeling pretty happy about that.


Pretty much same exact situation as last Summer — i.e., I have a couple of newer workhorses and a couple of slightly older things that have gone unworn, and those I’m giving them one more chance. There have actually been two additions, which will show up in outfits and/or Summer inventory — an Ace&Jig Eve Dress is Forte that I bought at their sample sale last fall, and an Elizabeth Suzann Harper Dress in grey linen gauze bought at her sample sale in early December. It’s a big muumuu — invaluable come summer — but I do like it now with my tall boots and army shirtjacket. Still no sign of me starting to wear skirts, and no real needs in this category.

Now to figure out exactly how to fill the holes, and in what order.


PREVIOUSLY in Spring 2018 Wardrobe: Mood and strategy









Idea Log: Not quite harem pants

Idea Log: Not quite harem pants

I have a longstanding longing for a pair of utterly perfect drop-crotch pants. Something slouchy and cool. Understated — not overly harem-ish. Definitely not Hammer pants. The other day I ran across the image above (middle left) on Pinterest, linked to a page where someone had dumped a ton of images with no credits, so I have no idea who designed them or was photographed wearing them or anything, but they are pretty damn dreamy. The mutton-leg shape is just the right proportion between the upper volume and the lower leg width, and omg those pockets. But even if I could locate and order them up, they’re still a little bit more voluminous than I probably really want to wear. They’re just such a polished example, something to strive for! My friend Kate alerted me to the Straight-Cut Sarouel Pants pattern pictured above (middle right), from Happy Homemade Sew Chic, and they look pretty promising. Especially this slightly modified pair. But basically I’m looking at these, my toddler pants pattern (modified Robbie) and Folkwear’s Japanese Field Pants pattern, and imagining what sort of hybrid I might be able to cook up. I have a few lucky yards of this lightweight fabric made from recycled denim that’s begging to become … these.


PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: The pre-Spring sweater





Make Your Own Basics: The coat

Make Your Own Basics: The coat

I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to top off (har har) the Make Your Own Basics series with an entry about coats, but for anyone with a goal of eventually having an all or mostly handmade wardrobe, eventually you do arrive at the coat question.  And when my friend Jen at Grainline put out the coat pattern she’s been teasing the world with for so long, it pushed me over the edge — and might even be the one to get me to tackle a coat one day—

TOP: Yates Coat by Grainline Studio is a modern classic with notched lapel collar, hidden welt pockets and boxy shape

NEXT: Cascade Duffle Coat by Grainline Studio is a spot-on version of one of the most enduring and iconic of coat types

THIRD ROW LEFT: Oslo Coat by Tessuti is a lovely shawl-collared wrap coat

THIRD ROW RIGHT: Lisette/Butterick B6385 is a longer coat with waist shaping, vertical welt pockets and three collar variations that each give it a very different look

BOTTOM: Ellsworth Coat by Christine Haynes is an always-chic little double-breasted shape designed for jacket-weight fabrics such as canvas or denim, plus a lining

For a knitted option, I’m partial to the Polar Coat by Regina Moessmer, but be cautious about your yarn choice to keep it light enough to be wearable!


PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: Mittens and mitts