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Monthly Archives: August 2016

  • Accidental Cool Jeans

    Looking powerful in my cool new jeans! Looking powerful in my cool new jeans!

    In case I haven't mentioned this before, I am extremely tall -- 6 feet tall to be exact -- and, most of my length is in my legs. I love to make pants that are long enough, but sometimes I don't add enough length to the pattern. The pants seem long enough until I yank the center back up a few inches to compensate for my flat derriere, and they turn out too short. Talk about a return to 7th-grade trauma!

    This is what happened with my beloved boot-cut jeans from a couple of years ago. Then I had an idea -- skinny jeans can be shorter than boot-cuts, right? I followed Jennifer Stern's advice on how to taper a pair of boot-cut jeans . I took out the hem in order to create the taper. I was planning to re-sew the hem after tapering, but when I saw the cool shibori look at the bottom of my well-worn jeans, I decided to leave them unhemmed. Now the jeans are longer, trendy AND tapered. Win-win-win for me!

    Shoes handmade in Missoula by Bean_an_ti. Shoes handmade in Missoula by Bean_an_ti.

  • Grainline Lakeside Pajamas

    1 Grainline Lakeside Pajamas made in Art Gallery Voile in Sunday Clippings. All photos by Bess Bird Photography.

    The very first piece of clothing I made once I started sewing in earnest was a Grainline Scout Tee. It's become an indispensable staple, along with its knit sister, the Lark Tee. I appreciate the simplicity of the designs (everyday wear, hurray!) and the well-written instructions.

    Last month, I decided to make Grainline's Lakeside Pajamas for our hot Montana summers. I. Love. Them. They have enough design to make them interesting, but are simple enough for a novice like me to sew up with no problem. This has been one of the few patterns I've cut and sewn straight from the box - no alterations needed. There is something so satisfying about having a pattern that just fits, right off the bat.

    Overlapping back detail. Overlapping back detail.

    When making a shirt or a dress, I usually I have to make the top one size and then grade out a size or two below the waist. With the Lakeside PJs, I was able to make the top in a size 6 and the bottoms in a size 10. (Try doing that with ready-to-wear!) I double-checked all of my measurements and then followed the sizing guidelines, and ta-da, they fit like a dream. As tempting as it was to make the entire set in a size 6 (oh hi, vanity!), I'm relieved that I actually made the size that was recommended for me; believe me, carefully sized and drafted patterns are not to be taken for granted!

    Miles and miles of binding.. but so worth it! Miles and miles of binding... but so worth it!

    The shorts required a leap of faith. You have to attach most of the bias binding to the edges of each piece before you sew up any major seams, which makes it really difficult to make adjustments once you're underway. (Of course you could baste or pin the shorts together without the binding before you get started for a rough idea of fit, but did I think to do that? Of course not!) The method for sewing on the binding and then assembling the shorts seems confusing at first glance. But I dutifully followed the instructions step by step, and, as promised, it all worked out beautifully.

    I made these PJs with Art Gallery's Sunday Clippings Voile. Because it is so silky and lightweight, the Art Gallery Voile was a little slippery, but I used a new needle and took my time, and I was able to handle the fabric with very few problems. If you haven't sewn with Art Gallery fabrics yet, you are in for a treat. The quilting cottons are finer and softer than most quilting cottons, and the voiles are even finer than Liberty of London (in my opinion).  AND, Art Gallery voiles make great blouses. Our customer, Debrah Fosket wore her lovely Vogue blouse to the shop the other day and graciously agreed to be photographed.

    _B9B1559 A well-made blouse in a pretty fabric. Nice work, Debrah!


    I highly recommend these jammies -- and of course I'm partial to the super-soft voile. They're comfortable, cute, and a fairly quick sew (especially if you use pre-made bias binding like this). Plus, either the shorts or the tank top can stand alone in the right fabric. No one needs to know that they're a pajama pattern! I'm already planning a light summer tank top with this pretty rayon and some casual shorts with this sweet tencel.

  • Merchant and Mills Shirt Dress in Rayon


    The Cotton + Steel Rayon makes the dress so flowy. The Cotton + Steel Rayon makes the dress so flowy.

    In order to showcase our lovely Cotton + Steel rayons, I had Bonnie make me a Merchant and Mills Dress Shirt out of Pixel Print Rayon in Neon.

    I think rayon is a great choice for all the Merchant and Mills dresses, which are not very fitted, and can look boxy. Bonnie made me a size 16 based on my measurements, but a size 14 would have fit just fine.

    I washed and dried the fabric before Bonnie cut it out so that I wouldn’t have any shrinkage.

    Bonnie loved working with both the fabric and the pattern – her only caveat is that the fabric is slippery, which makes it hard to cut out. We have been experimenting with Best Press for slippery fabrics. It is a clear spray that is touted as a “sizing alternative,” and it gives all fabrics a little stiffness.

    I love this dress! The curved bib in the front gives it enough shape, and the shirt-tail hem is so cute. I could wear it every day in the summer!

    I love the gathering below the back yoke I love the gathering below the back yoke

    The curved bib in front keeps the dress slightly form-fitting The curved bib in front keeps the dress slightly form-fitting

    Photos by Bess Bird Photography

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