Denim + Leather Messenger Bag

I’m back with another Pattern Parcel…. #7. This time, it’s the handbag edition. There’s a great roundup of handbags for you in this parcel. I’ve been eyeing that Betty Bowler for a while and can’t wait to try it out! I really wanted to try it for this post but I didn’t have the necessary hardware and have not had time to get to the store to get it.

Pattern Parcel #7: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

Parcel #7 includes:

Barcelona Bag and Wallet by Pat Bravo
Butterfly Sling Purse by Emmaline Patterns
Evelyn Hangbag by ChrisW Designs
Midtown Messenger Bag by Betz White
Betty Bowler by Swoon Sewing Patterns
BONUS PATTERN: Daphne Bag by Clover & Violet

A reminder about Pattern Parcel- You name your own price for the parcel and if you choose $32 or more you get to unlock the bonus pattern. I love the mission behind this parcel- a percentage of your payment goes straight to Donor’s Choice and helps provide educational tools and supplies to needy classrooms. It’s so cool to be able to support indie designers while also giving to those in need.

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I chose the Midtown Messenger Bag by Betz White for my pattern. I took the opportunity to make something for my husband. It’s fairly rare that I sew for him so I try to make up for it when I can! He’s very supportive of all my sewing craziness so he deserves something in return.

denim messenger (5 of 6)I knew he would like this messenger bag and could use it for work, but I would need to re-think it in more manly terms. I decided to use this heavy weight denim as the accent fabric and had a lightbulb moment when I realized I could use the wrong side of the denim for the main fabric. I wasn’t sure exactly how it would turn out but as soon as I got the flap sewn together, I knew this was going to be a winner! I just love the end result and it’s exactly my husband’s style.denim messenger (4 of 6)

A few modifications:

  • I used real leather for the flap accent. (from some assorted scraps sent to me by my good friend, April. Thanks April! So sweet of her to share.) The pattern calls for the front flap to be pieced together, but I chose to cut out the flap in one piece from the denim and then just sew the leather on top. I wanted that look anyway, and I was afraid piecing the leather would end up with some wonky sewing.
  • I did not interface the outer pieces because the denim is such a heavy weight that I didn’t think it would need it.
  • I didn’t use the tuck catches for the front closure. Mainly because I didn’t have any on hand. It’s not essential that this bag has a front closure because of the inner zipper, but I would eventually like to add some sort of closure.

This was my first experience sewing with leather and it went fairly smoothly. Because so many of the pieces used batting and there were bulky seams, I used my walking foot for the entire construction (sans the zipper install) and I think that helped a ton. I just sewed very slowly and carefully and did not end up with any huge issues.denim messenger (3 of 6)

The lining fabric is an Amy Butler print I had on hand that I actually had set aside for something for the boys but it went so well with the denim that I sacrificed it for the cause. This bag is the perfect size for my husband’s laptop. (mine is shown because he was at work when I took pictures) It also has a padded inner pocket that’s a great size for a tablet. I really like all the pockets included in this bag pattern. You can never have too many pockets in my opinion!denim messenger (6 of 6)

A note about this pattern: It ends up with a really professional finished product, but you definitely put the time into it! This is not a quick sew. Before you even get to the sewing there’s a bajillion pattern pieces to cut out- it might rival the cargo duffle for most pattern pieces! However, if you are willing to put the time into it, you can end up with such a fun bag at the end that I totally think it is worth it. The instructions and diagrams are very helpful and made the process as pain-free as possible. Just queue up a good movie or tv series of choice and have a cutting and sewing marathon! (FYI If you like BBC shows, I just discovered Lark Rise to Candleford on Amazon Prime and am loving it! Made the cutting time fly by.)

denim messenger (2 of 6)I think this parcel is a great idea for any who are thinking of doing handmade gifts for Christmas. There’s options for both the guys and girls on your list! I think both the Betty Bowler and this Messenger Bag are good guy patterns.  Remember this is available as a bundle for 2 weeks and then it’s gone.

Pattern Parcel #7: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Rowan Tee: Take Two

Rowan Tee Pattern Tour

Today I get to be part of the Rowan Tee pattern tour with my second version of this tee. You can see my initial, tester version here. Be sure to check out all the other blogs on the list above for some great tee inspiration!basic tee v2 (2 of 8)

Again, I made the 12-18 month size with no modifications. I used the shoulder stripe, sleeve cuffs, and kangaroo pocket option. Can I just tell you how much I love this kangaroo pocket?! Seriously it’s just so cute. I can’t wait to make another version with the kangaroo pocket and hood! Actually I have 3 or 4 tee variations rolling around in my head right now- just have to find the time to get to them. I mentioned it before, but I will say it again, the thing I love about this pattern is that Laura gives you so many modification and variation options with it. I believe she said there’s 144 different possible combinations! Talk about bang for your buck there!

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The triangle fabric I used for the tee is a now out-of-stock jersey knit blend from Girl Charlee. After the bimaa hoodie I made in this fabric got such rave reviews- blogged here-, I ordered several more yards of it in the various color ways. I really do love how it looks and what cute fabric it is. However, I have to say that this particular fabric does not hold up well to washing and drying- it gets pretty pilly and looks old already- which you can probably see in these pictures. It was my first experience with a cotton/poly blend, and I have decided from now on to stay away from any knits with poly in them.

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This is not to say that my overall Girl Charlee experience has been unpleasant. I have ordered several cotton and cotton/spandex knits from them and been very happy with the result. I just wanted to be honest with you and say that I can’t recommend anything with a poly blend to it. basic tee v2 (6 of 8)

The pocket, shoulder stripe, and cuffs are made from a 1×1 ribbing I picked up at Joann. I like this ribbing because it’s fairly thin and not so bulky as some of the other ones that I have found.

basic tee v2 (4 of 8)I definitely think that this pattern is a basic that everyone needs in their portfolio, if just to have some fun variations on the basic t-shirt. Laura does a great job both on her pattern instructions and in the pattern sizing. You can go buy it here if you are interested. FYI if you sign up for her newsletter, she will be sending out a special discount code for this pattern. I love the fit of this tee on Eliot. And so does he even though he looks fairly serious in these pictures. He takes his modeling job very seriously these days. :)basic tee v2 (5 of 8)

PS- I received this pattern for free as a result of testing and blogging about it but all opinions are, as always, 100% my own.

Double Cloth Archer Shirtdress

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I’ve had the vision for this dress for a long time! I’ve been obsessed with finding myself some form of shirtdress/tunic that I could wear with leggings and boots. I just love seeing that look on other people and wanted to replicate it. Unfortunately I have not been able to find one that fit me quite right at any store. Fortunately for me I know how to sew ;). Once I successfully made the Archer shirt (blogged here), I knew that I wanted to try to modify it to be a shirtdress. Jen did actually just come out with a sleeveless shirtdress pattern- the Alder, but I’m trying not to buy more patterns right now, and I wanted a long sleeve version so I could wear it all winter.

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I searched and searched the internets for examples of other people modifying the Archer into a dress and just could not find anything! Which I thought was strange because it seems like something that has been done already. But maybe it’s just that me who’s been obsessing about this style, and no one else cares about it. Lol.

shirtdress (1 of 8)I decided to be a good sew-er (really, what am I supposed to call myself? I never can come up with a word that sounds right) this time around and actually make a muslin- I know, don’t die from the shock of it! I’m just too lazy to make muslins normally but I wanted this dress to be perfect. I used some quilting cotton and cut out the main bodice and sleeves. I added 9″ to the original shirt hem to make it more dress/tunic length. Since my last shirt was a little big, I cut out a smaller size this time- a 6- to begin. I basted everything together and tried it on for size. It fit ok but looked a little paper bag-ish. I decided to take in the waist a little and let out the bottom a bit to give the dress more of a figure. I kept the top at the size 6, marked a 4 on the pattern line at the waist, a 10 at the bottom of the dress and then drew a straight line connecting each of these marks. I included a picture of my muslin here for example (I just figured out how to annotate my pictures- happy dance!). This little change ended up making the dress fit perfectly.shirtdress muslin (1 of 2)

The fabric is this amazing double cloth plaid from imagine gnats. I had been coveting it since she posted it on her IG account, and then when she decided to have a 20% off sale over the weekend, I was lost. Had to get myself some of it! Similar to the double gauze from my last archer, double cloth is not the easiest fabric to sew with. Because it’s actually two fabrics tacked together, you have to be really careful cutting it out and sewing it together- the layers tend to be shifty. This one especially takes lots of patience, but is totally worth the effort. My tips for smoother and stress-free sewing: use your walking foot, lengthen your stitch, and sew slowly.

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I realize this is a little fuzzy- it’s the only decent shot I got of the full dress with the belt.

I cut the back yoke and pockets on the bias- for effect and so I didn’t have to worry about lining up any plaids on the back. ;). I used Jen’s alternate pocket tutorial with two changes- I cut 1/2″ off the bottom hem for a smaller pocket and folded the seams over to the right side to show off the brown side of the fabric.shirtdress (8 of 8)

I’m not that great at lining up plaids- seems like the more I try, the worse I do! I’m super happy that I at least managed to line them up across the button placket. I also added some sleeve tabs. I am a perpetual sleeve-roller-upper, and I thought these would add a fun touch. I used one of Ian’s shirts as an example of how to make them since I had never made them before. They ended up a wee bit too far forward but not enough to make me want to redo them!shirtdress (7 of 8) I also rolled up the hem the wrong way to give a little contrast of the brown at the bottom. In the middle of making this, I got worried that all this plaid would be too much but I think the little brown accents are the perfect touch to tone it down. The belt is just the double cloth folded over on itself and sewn up on all sides. I like the dress both with and without the belt and think I will switch it up based on my mood. I’ve already worn this dress several times in the week since I’ve finished it and I think it’s going to be the perfect fall piece. In fact, I already have a chambray version planned out in my head! It’s going to be the season of the archers and archer variations this fall!

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Sew Geeky Halloween: Darth Vader Returns

So I was pretty excited to get the chance to sew along with Sew Geeky this month (started by Ari and Kat) and knew I was going to have to do something Star Wars related. Oliver has watched the Lego Star Wars spoof and is a little obsessed at the moment- we have epic light saber fights in our house every night! For some reason Darth Vader is his favorite character so when I asked him who he wanted to be for Halloween, he repeatedly affirmed he wanted to be Vader.

darth vader (1 of 11)

So Vader it was. Thankfully his costume is actually fairly easy and fun. Let me give you the low down…

darth vader (8 of 11)T-Shirt: Flashback Skinny Tee, size 4. Kaufman Laguna Jersey in onyx from Fabric.com. I did a lot of research online. (Did you know there’s this whole website- wookieepedia- lolz- for accurate Star Wars trivia?) and decided to freezer paper stencil the shirt. I stenciled his armor onto a basic black t-shirt because I want his costume to be wearable the rest of the year, not just for one night. My stencil ended up bleeding a bit because I layered on the paint pretty thick so it would show up on the black shirt. Still, I think it ended up looking pretty good!

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Pants: Parsley Pants, size 3. I cut off the flare from the knee down to make the pants more of a skinny fit. In reality, Lord Vader would be in leggings/tights but I knew Oliver would actually get more wear out of a cotton pant, so I used Kona cotton in Black for the pants fabric. I did a narrow hem because they were almost too short!

darth vader (2 of 11)

Cape: Totally winged this part of the outfit. Used the same black Kona as the pants. Oliver has a Batman jacket with a little cape  attached that measures like 8×12″ so I used that as a base idea. I measured how much further I wanted it to reach across his shoulders and then how much longer I wanted it to be….I just kinda guesttimated at how wide it should be at the bottom and cut a gradual angle from the top to the bottom. 1/4″ double folded hem on all 4 sides. Made some bias tape straps and sewed them onto the top of the cape sides and done! And fits perfectly! Phew.

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Helmet is from Amazon (affiliate link)…the one store-bought part of his outfit. Did not have the gumption to try to make that!

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Eliot is going as Yoda, and I have to admit to cheating a bit on his outfit. Some good friends gave us this yoda robe and hat and I didn’t see a point to making something that we already had! Plus the robe is a nice fleece, not the polyester yuck that’s sold at the stores so Eliot loves to wear it! It’s so soft. His pants are handmade so he’s at least partially in mama-mades. Pants are some quick change trousers- from AMH’s book Handmade Beginnings (affiliate link) in brown kona. Hand me downs from his brother and getting a second life as yoda pants!

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The boys had such fun in their photoshoot. They love to play lightsaber fights. FYI the lightsabers are made from pool noodles. Cheapest and most-loved toys ever. Also they don’t hurt so the boys can play rough and no one ends up crying! And I am well aware that Vader’s lightsaber is supposed  to be red but Oliver has declared this blue one to be his and no one can argue differently. Ah well, little details, right? :)

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I’ll leave you with a few more from our fight scene… Can we say photo overload? But my favorite one? The hug at the end. Like I told Oliver, Darth Vader does end as a good guy so it’s totally appropriate for him and Yoda to end things with a hug. :)

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kcw fall 2014: sailboat top take 2

kid's clothes week

Since the general consensus after Oliver’s sailboat top was that Eliot needed a coordinating one, I decided to use kcw as an excuse to make him one. First off, I needed a palate cleanser (thank you Kristin for inspiring me with that phrase!) after working on Halloween costumes (more on that Saturday) for 3 days straight and secondly, how could I not participate in the storybook theme?! The book lover in me just couldn’t resist.

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Stripes and primary colors always remind me of Dr. Seuss- specifically Red Fish, Blue Fish (which is one of Eliot’s favorite books). This outfit may not scream Dr. Seuss to you, but it gives me that same fun vibe I get from his illustrations. I love anything Dr Seuss, and in fact have a small hoard of the Kaufman fabric line of his characters- you can see some of that way back here in Oliver’s toddler backpack. However I didn’t want to just make a shirt out of that fabric because it seemed a little too obvious. I kinda like the subtle nod to Seuss that I give in this top.

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The fabric is the same as Oliver’s version just inverse colors (both from Mill End in Portland). I made this sailboat top in the 18-24 month size. Eliot measured into the 12-18 month size but he grows so quickly these days that I made it a size up to give him plenty of room. It’s a wee big- you can see that I rolled up the sleeves but it’s not ridiculously huge. I think it’s the perfect size to carry him through the winter.

sailboat top (3 of 7)I mentioned this in Oliver’s version but I want to say it again. I do think this top runs a bit on the short side so if your child is tall or on the upper end of a size, you may want to add a bit of length to the hem. Other than that, I have no complaints with this top. I’m not normally a facings fan, but I love how they turn out in this version. Typical Oliver+S style- everything is so professional-looking.

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Love that I could make this top from pattern tracing to final buttonhole in one nap time. Granted I was pushing it as I was sewing on the buttons as Oliver was coming out of his room, but I made it! And Eliot just looks adorable, if I do say so myself. He’s still got that great toddler chub and I just love to squeeze it!

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I also love that so far, both my boys are huge book worms. They would be so happy for me to sit and read them book after book! I’ll leave you with these final two pictures taken after the sun started to go down and we caught just a bit of the “golden light” time. So ethereal looking!

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kcw fall 2014: rowan tee

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I got the chance to test this (just-released!) new pattern from Laura over at Titchy Threads. If you’ve been around for a while, you know my love for her small fry skinnies (blogged here and here) and so I was excited to try out another pattern from Laura. She has hit another home run with this t-shirt pattern. The best part about this pattern is that it has 144 different possible combinations- from a hood, shoulder stripes, sleeve stripes, kangaroo pouch, and much much more!! How awesome is that? I love patterns that give me lots of options for customization. Also love that I’ve gotten to the point where I can make a basic tee in about 30 min from start to finish. Really takes away the temptation to buy one!

basic tee (3 of 6) For my version I just chose the basic long sleeve tee because I knew I wouldn’t have time to do a fancier version, but I cannot wait to make one with a hood. Seriously, so cute! I see lots of these tees coming our way this fall and winter.basic tee (5 of 6)

Eliot got chosen to be my model because Laura needed testers in his size range. Kinda fun to make something new for the kid who doesn’t get too many new clothes! I had this fun dog knit from girl charlee saved for a special occasion and I love how cute it is on him. On a side note: While I love this dog print and the fabric actually washed up pretty well without pilling, this knit does not have very much stretch at all. You would definitely want to size up if you used it in a slim-fitting pattern. Thankfully this tee is a forgiving fit so it didn’t end up being too small for Eliot. Whew!

basic tee (6 of 6)I sewed a straight up size 12-18 months for this shirt. It looks a little long because I got lazy and decided I wouldn’t hem the bottom. It’s meant to be a casual play shirt so there was no need.  Eliot had fun dragging his doggie around the yard for our photoshoot. Kid loves his dog so this shirt is so perfect for him. He points to his belly and makes dog noises while wearing it. :) However, photoshoots of 16 month olds are exhausting for the photographer! Gotta get this kid in some more practice so he can become a pro at it like his brother.

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I wanted to say a little word about this pattern versus my usual go-to one: the flashback skinny tee. I actually think that I love both equally and will continue to use both in my sewing. The flashback is a great basic tee especially if you want a vintage, slim-cut fit. The rowan is a looser fitting, more casual shirt. They each have their separate place depending on the kind of shirt you want to make. I think every children’s garment sew-er needs both of them in your pattern portfolio!

Pattern Parcel 6: Women’s Clothing

I don’t know about y’all, but I was so excited to find out there was another women’s clothing pattern parcel! Jill did such a great job coordinating a diverse selection of women’s patterns. Here’s the patterns offered in this parcel:Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

  •  Syrah Skirt by Lauren Dahl (exclusive release!)
  • Bronte Top by Jennifer Lauren
  • Julia Cardigan by Mouse House Creations
  • Hudson Pant by True Bias
  • Zsalya Dress by Kate and Rose
  • BONUS PATTERN: Odette Dress by Bluegingerdoll

Great, right? We were encouraged this time around to mix and match the garments so that y’all could see how versatile and practical the patterns are. Well I’m not sure how good a job that I did on that, but I really can see how many of these patterns would work well together. I chose to make the Hudson pants and Julia cardigan- both of which have been on my to-make list for a while.

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Before I begin with the pants, let me bemoan the lack of proper knits in my area! Really, it’s just so sad. I dragged both boys with me to the 2 big box fabric stores in town to see if I could find anything- and after several hours of searching: nothing! The only non-polyester option I could find was this 1×1 rib knit. I think this knit is quite a bit stretchier than the pattern recommends so that comes into play with my sizing issues mentioned below. I ordered some french terry online this week to have more options in future knit garments. I know I’m picky when it comes to fabric, but is it too much to ask for some quality knit fabrics available locally? If I’m going to put all that effort into clothing, I want it to last and wear well! Why, oh why do I not live in Portland? Sigh. Ok rant over. ;)

pattern parcel  (3 of 9)I measured in between the 6 and the 8 and ended up going with the 6 because I knew this is a generous fit pant. They actually ended up being just a little big, but I think that may have been due to my overly-stretchy rib fabric. I’m going to try them again in my french terry and see if that fit is better. The legs weren’t too big- just a relaxed fit look, but I had some funny wrinkles in the front crotch area. Also, I must have ridiculously small ankles because I ended up having to cut 4 inches off the cuff width to make them fit! I ended up taking the legs in a bit too so that the leg opening would fit into the cuff. I started out 1/4″ smaller at the top of the leg and gradually angled down to about 1.5″ at the bottom. That made the pants end up just a bit snug in the legs but I think they’re actually super comfy that way so i’m happy.

pattern parcel  (4 of 9)This is my first pair of pants that I’ve made and I’m so happy with them. Can’t believe I actually made pants! Even if they are sweatpants, I still think it’s pretty cool. Kelli does a great job with this pattern in walking you through the construction so in my opinion, they come together pretty quickly and easily, especially if you use your serger for most of the construction which I did.

pattern parcel  (1 of 9)I also made the Julia cardigan. I made a medium and used some tissue weight knit that  I bought from Wanderlust Fabric. I chose the 3/4 length sleeves with the doubled over collar version. The hardest thing about this cardigan was cutting out the fabric. Because I used a thin knit, it was very shifty and I took a long time to make sure it was cut out straight and on grain. The knit itself is a good quality knit even though it’s thin so I am pleased with the end result.

pattern parcel  (9 of 9)The pattern is very straightforward and comes together pretty quickly. The only thing I would prefer is a few more notches on various pieces (especially the collar) to help match everything up easier. I didn’t end up with any problems so it’s not a huge deal, just a personal preference.pattern parcel  (8 of 9)

I did make a few modifications. First, I shortened the collar piece along the bottom front and back area. I cut half the length off the back piece (about 3″) and angled the front pieces down gradually to meet that piece. I like my 3/4th length cardigans on the shorter side so that’s why I made the alteration.  I also tapered the sleeve in a bit and took a few inches off the cuff as Hayley recommends in the pattern instructions if you want a snugger fit in the sleeve. pattern parcel  (6 of 9)

It’s so fun to increase your sewing knowledge to where you feel comfortable making changes to patterns to fit you perfectly! I am looking forward to making another one of these cardigans in a heavier weight knit and long sleeves. One more item of clothing that  I can now make instead of buy. Cha-ching!pattern parcel  (7 of 9)

I really like this collection of patterns because they are a great collection to be able to mix and match for your wardrobe. I can’t wait to have time to make up a few more of these patterns. Here’s my version of the two pieces matched together. They don’t mesh super well because I couldn’t find a good t-shirt to wear underneath the cardigan. With the right shirt, I could totally see pulling these two pieces off together! Maybe as an excuse to wear the sweatpants to the grocery store or something?! pattern parcel  (5 of 9)

This parcel, like usual, is only available as a group for two weeks so go get it while you can! Make sure you check out the IG hashtag #patternparcel for more ideas from these patterns. Full disclosure: I was provided with these patterns in return for blogging about them but all opinions are, as always, my own.

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win