The Scout Tee

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I’ve finally finished another project! It has been ages. I actually started this one months ago, and didn’t finish it until today. Perhaps it was because I was intimidated by attempting set-in sleeves for the first time or that the basement was too cold (where my sewing machine lives). But really sewing got pushed to the wayside between work and class and volunteering and life in general.

Since pretty much everyone (in the sewing world at least) has raved about the Scout Tee I figured this would be a good introduction to sleeves. The pattern is simple and classic, and I can definitely see myself making this again in the future.

For fabric I chose a printed linen – which is really lovely, but not exactly the best texture for a tee. I sewed up the body of the shirt months ago but didn’t finish the sleeves until today. And it actually wasn’t that hard! I made one minor error…

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I was so excited after inserting the first sleeve that I rushed to finish the second and then I realized I put it in inside-out! D’oh. I’d already removed the basting stitches to gather the sleeve and didn’t really feel like redoing them, so I did with out. (Bold move for someone who has just sewed her first sleeve). But it turned out great! No pintucks!

I’ve recently been interested in altering and mending clothes – since I like to thrift clothes I can’t be picky about the size or quality. Repairing an item of clothing is very satisfying. But hopefully there won’t be as big a gap between my next projects, I’m not exactly sure what is up next but now that sleeves are no longer a barrier – the sky’s the limit!

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(I didn’t get my photographer/boyfriend to snap pics before he left for work so these will have to do)!

A quick alteration

I bought this shirt from Madewell quite impulsively; it was on sale and in a simple pattern I really loved. I didn’t pay to much attention to the fit or style of the shirt until it arrived and realized it was a ‘boyfriend’ fit. Aka, oversized (it even reads that on the tag) and baggy. With the exception of the models on the website – I doubt there is really anyone that is flattered by a loose fit.

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So I figured this was an excellent time for me to try out my alteration skills.

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You can see here there is a lot of room in the torso and the shirt tail is longer in the back.

I found a button down that I know fits me well, and laid it on top of the Madewell shirt as flat and straight as I could. I marked where my new seam line would go and then basted along those lines.

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After checking the fit I used my serger to trim off the excess and finish the new edges. I also gave the back hem a lift so now it matches the front.

And tada! A shirt that fits! I’m thrilled. The sleeves could probably be taken in as well, but I usually roll my sleeves up anyways so I didn’t bother.

I have plenty more sewing projects on the horizon so hopefully I will be posting more soon.

(photos via Madewell)

Ann Noblitt of the Rolling Toaster

Today I have something different to share. I have met so many interesting and amazing people through Scott; and today that brings us to Ann. I first met Ann at our local wilderness academy after being told she was a weapons expert. I have since followed her on social media as she has pursued various mobile living accommodations. One attempt ended after the van’s console caught fire while driving I believe. So clearly Ann is a renaissance woman, and recently she has set up camp in a box truck endearingly referred to as the “Rolling Toaster”. Ann and her partner have renovated the truck with all sorts of DIY touches, and she has since moved on to refashioning vintage fabrics into fantastic tunic dresses.

She kindly let me ask her a few questions about herself, and sewing. Enjoy!

Tell me a bit about yourself, what you do, and where you are currently living?

I’m originally from Indiana. I moved out to Denver almost a year ago now. I have a house in Sunnyside, but we travel and work from the Toaster quite a bit. I’m an Occupational Therapist by trade and was working in hospitals up until the point when I sold everything I owned and came out West. It’s still pretty surreal to me.

I notice many of your endeavors focus on the ability to travel and be in nature, being resourceful, upcycling, and self-sufficiency. Do you have a personal philosophy you are guided by?

My boyfriend and I both believe less is more. Due to the changes in healthcare (which I desperately agree need to happen) I took a 60% pay cut and was forced into a personal bankruptcy as I could no longer afford my mortgage/loans/lifestyle. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’ve always loved and preferred the outdoors and dreamt of downshifting into a lifestyle that afforded more opportunities for travel and just enjoying life on life’s terms and not the almighty dollars’. I love learning and being able to do things for myself , not only out of necessity, but I get more satisfaction from the experience. I don’t feel as disconnected as I did before. I have more respect and appreciation for all things.

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What is your background in sewing; how did you learn and how long have you been sewing for?

I have almost no background in sewing save for my 6th grade home ec. experience. I started sewing in a DIY effort for the Toaster to make custom blackout curtains for the bubble windows above the loft and it just stuck. It’s kind of an obsession now. I used to get into the same flow when I drew as a kid. I went to the library for some how-to books to help with seam work and ended up with one that had several patterns in the back and gave it a whirl. I outgrew my beginner sewing machine in 3 days! I got a more advanced one with better attachments to make clothing with. Everything I’ve done so far is self-taught. If I get really stuck on something I turn to You-Tube, but that’s it. It’s not as daunting as some people might think. I only started sewing earlier this summer. It’s a labor of love. I do it everyday.

Where do you find your fabric for those fantastic tunics? What have been your best finds?

It’s all previously owned and largely repurposed. I use a lot of sheets and tablecloths. I think of it as a flour sack sewing revival. Fabric is expensive and there’s already so much out there not being used. Plus, I’ve always leaned towards vintage looks that just can’t be recreated. I go to antique shops, thrift stores, and second hand places all the time. It’s a treasure hunt. It’s just as fun to shop for them as it is to make them.

Are your garment patterns self-drafted?

I always start with a pattern to get my bearings and then add or subtract based on the fabric design. I made my own tunic patterns out of 16 gauge vinyl that I can see through so I can line up each unique fabric design to suit the cut of the dress. I use rotary sheers to be more exacting. Each dress pattern ends up a bit different based on how much of the design I want on the fabric.

How is life in the Rolling Toaster coming along? What are your future plans?

We’re currently adding a roll out kitchen, covered porch, outdoor shower, and solar panels to the Rolling Toaster to increase efficiency and be able to travel more for work and play. We’ve got great big plans to put together enough savings to buy a few acres in the mountains and start our own hobby farm. My boyfriend’s mother did the exact same thing and bought land and built a house from the ground up while raising three boys. She’s an inspiration for both of us.

Thanks Ann!

You can follow along with Ann’s adventures in the Rolling Toaster here, and snatch up an original creation in her shop.

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(photos courtesy of Ann!)

Light layers

 

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I’ve taken advantage of this holiday weekend to sew up a simple kimono in a light woven fabric I’ve had for some time. A kimono made by Morgan of Crab&Bee served as my inspiration for this piece. I think I could even say she served as my inspiration to begin sewing! Her modern creations are worth checking out.

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This piece is a pretty simple construction of rectangles and requires little to no fitting. Perfect for my current skill set! I might eventually adjust the shoulder seams which turned out wonky, but since this has so much drape you really can hardly tell.

This cardigan is the perfect weight for the summer temperatures that have struck the midwest this week. I was able to practice various finishing techniques here including french seams, bias binding (that I didn’t cut on the bias) and zig-zag stitches for some raw edges. This also was my first experience with a set-in sleeve and it was a fairly simple one at that. I’m not sure yet if I’m up to the task of real sleeves.

Now I’m wearing this around the house and fluttering my arms like a swan while Scott toils away weeding our corn field. We’re living up to the midwestern stereotype.

Spring Linen

This weekend I finally carved some time out for sewing. Weeks ago I bought all that nice fabric but admittedly I’m too nervous to use it. I know I want to make a Linden Sweatshirt with that super pricey jacquard , but I want to do it right – meaning with a serger – so that project is on hold until I come to own an overlock machine.

I’ve also been thinking critically about what I want to achieve with sewing. The last shirt I made was really a bust. It offered me a chance to practice some skills, but its not something I’ll ever wear. The fabric was cheap and my handiwork was sloppy – which is exactly what I am trying to avoid by learning to sew; disposable garments! Making some crap items is of course unavoidable as I learn new techniques and improve my skills – but I want to be a little more deliberate as I go forward.

With that said, I’ve spent a lot of time gathering photo inspiration of wardrobe staples I want to have a hand at. This photo below really jumped out at me. A simple linen shirt that looks great with work pants. I figured it was simple enough that I could try something similar.

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I used the Akira pattern from Seamwork Magazine, and a medium weight linen. The pattern is only one piece. One Piece!! It sewed up very quickly (for me anyways). I finished the side seams with french seams and the neckline with bias tape (that I made myself!). This is hands-down the best thing I have made to date: construction-wise. No raw edges, clean hems, darts, and bias tape?! There are a few imperfections but none that will stop me from wearing this to work tomorrow.

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This has really given me a lot of confidence in my skills. I just need to remember to take my time – it makes me such a more accurate sewist. And the proper final touches really save this from being just a potato sack!

Sharks!

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I found this fleecy print at JoAnns and immediately brought it to the cutting table. The sales person smiled at my fabric and remarked that “this must be for a little boy”. I quickly corrected her. Who wouldn’t want this fabric?!

I chose to make the Margot pajama pants from Tilly and the Buttons‘ book Love at First Stitch. I hadn’t made anything from the book yet since all the patterns were printed double sided and hadn’t yet figured out the best way to copy the patterns. An Instagram friend generously gifted me Swedish tracing paper (along with a book and wonder tape!) and solved my problem.

No special techniques here; I finished the raw edges with a zig-zag stitch and made a drawstring from left over shark fabric. I still have plenty of scraps left that I want to put to good use; this fabric is too silly to go to waste.

Currently we’re having a bit of a snow storm here in Indy so these pants have already been put to use. I’m sure they’ll get a lot more use this winter. Now what to do with the left over sharks….

New Look 6217 – again!

Last weekend I completed a shirt from the New Look 6217 pattern. I completed the skirt and the cardigan in my intro to garments class last fall, so I decided to try out the top with some really cheap fabric I got on sale.

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As you can see no set in sleeves or anything tricky. I don’t even know what to call the fabric I used; it was definitely a woven, with a lot of drape and a little stretch. Probably some synthetic in there. I found it on sale at a big-box fabric store and bought it thinking I could practice with out wasting pricy fabric (more on that later).

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And the finished product! Very serious face here. No close ups because then you could see all the flaws, ha! I had never done a bias neckline before so that was a great learning experience. I made my bias tape really quickly and then totally forgot how to apply it so who knows how it is attached. The best part of this is the bottom hem; I used a trick I learned from my class to help a curved hem turn up. Basically you just stitch the curve before you fold up the hem and that helps the fabric ease into place. It worked wonders!

Today I went to my local fabric store (where I take my classes) and spent WAY too much on fabric. I bought a stretch jacquard that was $38 a yard!! Eep! They were having a sale at least, but it was just so darn pretty. I couldn’t leave without it. I also snagged some $2 patterns and a bias tape maker.

In non-sewing related news I’m trying to spruce up our teeny tiny bathroom. Last weekend I used a million different cleaning methods to scrub the bathtub before settling on baking soda and vinegar. And this weekend I decided to tackle the window that sits in our shower. This window needs some serious TLC. The paint is very chipped and wood might be starting to rot – we couldn’t even open it until last summer. It really just needs a new coat of mildew resistant paint. But first….

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I’ve been stripping the paint of this all afternoon – I had to take a break before my arms fell off or the fumes got to me. Hopefully I’ll have this finished up tomorrow! DIY or die!

A simple clutch

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Today I whipped up something quick. I bough a PDF pattern for a fold-over clutch from LBG Studio recently and figured this would be an easy thing to make for gifts.

Serendipitously, I visited my aunt and uncle, who are both interior designers/fabric aficionados/artistically minded people, two days ago. They had amassed a vast amount of high end upholstery samples that my aunt had been turning into pillows, but I left with a stash myself. Various textures, fabrics, patterns…. all nice heavy cuts that would look great on a clutch. I even got some beautiful toile designed by my aunt herself – I am such a sucker for toile. I need to have a special plan for those.

It was my first time installing a zipper on my own machine – turns out I have a lot of presser feet I didn’t know I had! It went surprisingly well and I am really pleased with my handiwork.

The bag itself is a fold-over rectangle with a lining. I used some quilting cotton I had laying around for the interior and fusible interfacing too.

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I have heaps and heaps more fabric now to turn into clutches. Christmas shopping is basically done!

New Look 6217

I’ve been sewing since February of this year when I took an introductory course at a specialty fabric store in town. Prior I had never touched a sewing machine; I’d reattached the occasional button (after watching a youtube video first) and tried to fix small things with hand stitching.

Since the class I have tried my hand at some small projects and made my first garment a few months ago. I learned a lot in the process; about facing and darts… and what fabric NOT to choose (yeah, quilting cotton was not a good choice) but still was looking for some instruction. Which brings me to the present – I just finished my second class at the same store, this time focusing on basic garments.

We made two pieces from New Look 6217; a knit cardigan and a straight skirt. The cardigan is still under wraps as that is a gift, but I just finished up the hem on the skirt. I chose a woven cotton that had a teeny bit of stretch. I cut a 16 to begin with but graded it to a 12 in places (my waist is considerably smaller than my hips – a common issue I have in RTW sizes).

This image from pinterest served as general inspiration.

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The pattern it self was pretty straight forward. Stay-stitching, darts in the back, then I added more darts in the front due to the aforementioned waist-to-hip ratio, and an invisible zipper.

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The waist was done with twill tape, jury is out on how this goes. I’m not super trilled with how it looks. I might belt over it.

I finished the inner seams with a faux-serge.

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The hem was 1 1/4 inch overall, 1/4 was turned under… this part I about ruined. I pressed the 1 inch up then the 1/4 under and stitched it in place. Or so I thought. I was stitching more at 1/2 an inch, so I decided to go back and just created parallel stitches. I’m still a total novice at this, so I’m pretty stoked with how it turned out and that I didn’t run the lines together at any point. I new feat for me!

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Ok, done. Now fit. Hmmm. It fits well on the waist. I need to re-press the darts, really just press it everywhere…

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I feel its a little shapeless but this could be due to the fact that it is actually cut for my hips, rather than stretching tight across them like my other pencil skirts. I dunno. Maybe I’ll try to wear it to work tomorrow and style it some so I feel more enthused.

In summary: sewing is hard! I really like learning new techniques and seeing tiny improvements in my skills but there is so much more for me to learn. And to perfect. I have a few more patterns in my arsenal and the Tilly and the Buttons book to try. This is only the beginning right?

First attempts at sewing

I did it, I finally made something on my sewing machine! I’ve been attempting to make a collared shirt out of muslin (practice fabric) for a while but kept getting stuck at steps. After realizing that this was probably too advanced for a first project, I started with a dress pattern that had the words “EASY” on the front. Much better choice.

Sewing

As you can see, the McCall’s 7118 is a simple dress with minimal fitted areas. Essentially a sack dress. I chose to do the version A with straight straps. According to my measurements I cut a 12 from the pattern (for those not familiar to sewing these are different from store dress sizes. I am typically a 4-6 in dresses). In hindsight I probably could have cut a 10, but you have to learn some how.

I chose a woven cotton fabric for this, bought 2 yards and 1 yard of fusible interfacing. I pre-washed the fabric, pressed it, then cut out all my pieces. First the interfacing was fused to its respective pieces, and the straps were stitched. The back pieces went next, then the back facing. Facing confused me a little bit (for you non-sewers this part attaches the straps to the back and gives it a nice finish, also adds support) but the back was quite simple. Attaching the front facing is where I ran into challenges.

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The front facing was very curved; convex and concave curves. To finish the bottom edge I took it really slow since I am not yet that great at sewing anything other than a straight line. It wasn’t too bad. After I attached the facing to the front of the dress and flipped it inside out I was sure I made some other mistake. The fabric pulled and bunched and would not lie flat. However, after watching a youtube video I learned how to fix this by sniping to the seam line at the curves and to take out a lot of bulk at the seam. There is still a little pulling in the strap.My first mistake was that I attached the straps in the wrong direction. Where they were supposed to curve inward, mine curved outward. This meant that to attach to the shoulder they were going to have to cross, rather than lie flat. I though maybe I could squeeze by and just cross them (like in version B) but nope – not enough fabric. I ended up taking out the straps, flipping them, and then re-stitching them to the facing. Once this was corrected, I attached them to the front of the dress with the front facing.

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From here it was mostly easy street. I stitched up the sides and then the hem and was done! Or so I thought. The first fit was much too loose around the torso, even for a loose fitting dress. I ended up taking in the side seams by about 0.5 inches each which solved the problem! It still doesn’t fit perfect… but I not going to worry about that!

I also don’t know that much about finishing seams (making them neat and tidy so they don’t fray) so most of mine are raw. I’ve messed around with a little bias tape, and french seams, but right now I’m fine with it as it is. Honestly I am just excited I made a thing! A thing that I can wear!!

Oh right, about that. I didn’t do a lining so it might be a little see through in the light, but it is a black fabric and I’m not really concerned. So here’s the final product:

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In total it took me 3 days, maybe 6 hours total? Now what do I make next?