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  • Merchant and Mills Top 64 in Plaid Flannel

    Merchant and Mills Top 64 Front Pockets Close up of the inseam front pockets on the Merchant and Mills Top 64 in Plaid Flannel.

    Side view of Charlotte in Merchant and Mills Top 64 in Plaid Flannel Side view of Charlotte in Merchant and Mills Top 64 in Plaid Flannel

    Bonnie made the Merchant and Mills Top 64 in plaid flannel, and my daughter, Charlotte, modeled it for us.

    Pattern Description:

    The Top #64 can be interpreted as a workwear garment, an artist’s smock, or a smart jumper. With in-seam pockets, it is Merchant and Mills’ take on the style and function of a fisherman’s top.

    Pattern Sizing:

    UK 8 to 18

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

    Bonnie felt the actual pattern was much fuller than the photo suggested. Bonnie made a size 8 and graded out to a size 10 in the bust.

    Were the instructions easy to follow?

    Yes.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    Bonnie loved the pattern, but suggests checking the finished measurements to account for the fullness. You may want to size down.

    Fabric used:

    Plaid flannel in red and green from The Confident Stitch. The fabric is sold out, but any of our plaid flannels would work great. Bonnie enjoyed sewing with the fabric, but the plaid matching was challenging.

    Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

    Bonnie added one inch in length to both the bottom front and the bottom back. Bonnie is 5’ 2”, and the top looks like a tunic on her. Charlotte, our model, is 6’ tall, which is why the top doesn’t look overly long on her! Bonnie eliminated the front and back center seams so she didn’t have to match plaids in those spots. She cut the bottom front and bottom back on the bias, and used the selvedge as trim on the bottom and the neckline.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Bonnie loves this pattern, and the many ways to vary it. Kate made it in two colors of Brussels Washer Linen Blend and blogged about it here.

    Conclusion about Merchant and Mills Top 64 in Plaid Flannel:

    Both Bonnie and Kate will sew this pattern again!

  • Closet Case Ebony Dress in Rayon Knit

    The Closet Case Ebony Dress is flowy and flattering in a rayon knit. The Closet Case Ebony Dress is flowy and flattering in a rayon knit.

    This dress has SWING! This dress has SWING!

    Pattern:

    Closet Case Ebony Knit Dress & T-Shirt 

    Pattern Description:

    “An elegant basic featuring a fluidly draped silhouette, the Ebony Tee is a versatile wardrobe staple you’ll want to wear every day.

    Make a swingy knit dress or modern cropped top, with your choice of scoop or jewel neckline, and long or 3/4 sleeves. For the ultimate leggings companions, make an Ebony tunic, with a cascading hem and short raglan sleeves. All necklines are finished with a knit band.”

    Pattern Sizing:

    0 – 20. I made mine in a size 6.

    Ebony Dress Review:

    The Ebony Dress & Tee pattern is the latest release from Closet Case Patterns, and one I was super excited to see. I love anything “fit and flare,” and that’s exactly how this dress turned out.

    The pattern comes in three lengths (dress, tunic, or cropped top), with a variety of necklines and sleeve options. I made the dress length, with a jewel neckline and full-length sleeves, and used this Designer Rayon/Lycra Tie-Dye Knit in Stone Blue and White. Normally I wouldn’t use such a lightweight knit for a dress (hey there, lumps and bumps!), but since this dress is so full, it was a great option. I think a more stable knit could risk the dreaded tent shape, but the rayon drapes beautifully.

    I love that the dress is fitted through the sleeves and upper chest, and gathers fullness on the way down. It’s both flattering and ridiculously comfortable. I’m not very tall, so I shortened the length all the way around by about 1.5” so that the dress would fall above the knee in the front and just below the knee in back. A word of warning: the sleeves fit well but are on the small side. I was relieved that my fabric had lots of stretch, otherwise they might have been too constricting!

    Overall it was quick and fun to make. The instructions are clear, and the Ebony dress is full-cut enough that the fit is forgiving. I would definitely make it again in another rayon knit, such as this gorgeous Rayon/Lycra Knit in Wine, and I’m planning a tunic-length version in this flowery French knit. The cropped version is very cute and in style – but I’ll leave that to someone who is braver than me!

    Close-up of the high-low hemline. Close-up of the high-low hemline.

    The bound neckline is easy to add and gives a nice finish. The bound neckline is easy to add and gives a nice finish.

  • Sewaholic Renfrew Top in Soy Knit

    Close-Up of the Hem Band on Jane's Sewaholic Renfrew Top in Soy Knit Close-Up of the Hem Band on Jane's Sewaholic Renfrew Top in Soy Knit

    Jane in her Sewaholic Renfrew Top in Soy Knit Jane in her Sewaholic Renfrew Top in Soy Knit

    Cowl Close-Up of Jane's Renfrew Top in Soy Knit Cowl Close-Up of Jane's Renfrew Top in Soy Knit

    Back of Jane's Renfrew Top in Soy Knit Back of Jane's Renfrew Top in Soy Knitf

    Pattern:

    Sewaholic Patterns Renfrew Top

    Pattern Description:

    “The perfect basic tee! The Renfrew Top is a fitted knit top with sleeve and neckline variations. View A has long sleeves and a scoop neckline; View B has short sleeves and a deep V neckline; and, View C has a dramatic cowl neckline and three-quarter length sleeves. Mix and match any of the sleeves with any of the neckline options for unlimited possibilities!”

    Pattern Sizing:

    0 – 16. I made a size 6.

    The more I sew, the more I love Sewaholic Patterns. The founder of this company, Tasia St. Germaine, drafted these patterns for women with a pear figure – that is, women who carry their weight through their hips and are proportionally smaller through the waist and chest. Women like me!

    It’s the ultimate comfy knit tee, which makes it a great wardrobe builder, and fits oh so perfectly!

    The Renfrew Top can be customized dozens of ways: make it in a scoop or V-neck, or try the cowl to dress it up a bit. Sleeves can be short, three-quarter, or long. All versions use a waistband and a cuffed sleeve, which makes finishing easy. (Super easy. I literally made four of these shirts in one week.)

    Although the pattern calls for stable knits, I found that just about any knit works well. Slinky rayon knits made a nice light-weight T-shirt, while the soy/cotton blend worked great for a slightly heftier cowl-neck version. I used this sweet Japanese gauzy double-knit to line the cowl of one of my Renfrews, which added a cozy pop of color and design. I even made a short-sleeved basic black wool jersey version – a bit scratchy, but great for winter layers!

    Just a few months ago I swore there were things I would never sew – underwear, jeans, and T-shirts, for example. But with patterns like the Renfrew Top, I’m changing my tune. Sewing wardrobe basics is incredibly satisfying – they fit perfectly, sew up quick, and last forever!

    I highly recommend this pattern, especially for women who are pear-shaped. I just recommend you copy your size onto some Swedish tracing paper first, because this is a pattern you’ll use again and again.

  • Merchant and Mills Strand Coat in Cloud 9 Bark Cloth

    Merchant and Mills Strand Coat in Cloud 9 Bark Cloth Pretending my Merchant and Mills Strand Coat in Cloud 9 Bark Cloth is warm enough in -10 degree temps!

    Merchant and Mills Strand Coat in Cloud 9 Bark Cloth Yes, I always walk my dogs in a dress and my Merchant and Mills Strand Coat in Cloud 9 Bark Cloth

    Pattern Description:

    Lightweight and relaxed, The Strand has side seams brought to the front and features handy side pockets. The waist seam has an inseam pocket. The sleeves are set in and sport elbow darts, while the front fastening is created by inseam hooks and eyes.

     

    Pattern Sizing:

    UK sizes 8 to 18. I started making this coat in size 12 as a store sample, but I didn’t have time to finish it, so I asked our seamstress, Bonnie, for help. She had the GREAT idea to make the seam allowances smaller so the coat would fit me (I’m usually a size 16 or 18 in Merchant and Mills). This pattern has plenty of ease, so we could “make it work” in size 12.

     

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

    Yes, it did, except that we made it a smaller size so it wouldn’t be too voluminous. It is too tight for me in the bust, but I like the look of it unclasped.

     

    Were the instructions easy to follow?

    Yes, they were. Carolyn is a precise pattern drafter, which makes her designs fit together easily. The instructions are brief but ample with helpful line drawings.

     

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    We liked how well the pieces fit together, and how easy the instructions are to follow.

    Carolyn at Merchant and Mills likes her garments to be very loose fitting. Because I’m six-feet-tall, I don’t like clothes to add volume to my width or my height, so I’m happier with this coat in a smaller size. Bonnie also made a Strand Coat out of Lana Bollito Wool for my daughter, Charlotte. See blog post here.

     

    Fabric Used:

    Cloud9 Timewarp Bark Cloth in Loop Navy – a very easy fabric with which to sew. The fabric is great for home decorating projects, and for clothes because it is the same weight as canvas, but drapier. It has a visible loose weave that makes it fall gently from the body instead of straight out, like a canvas would. We have even seen some great bark-cloth dresses.

     

    Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

    We created some extra room to fit my size-16 body into a size-12 pattern. Next time, I think I’ll make the Strand Coat in a size 12 with a full-bust adjustment so it won’t be too big, but it will clasp over my bust.

     

     

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Yes, and yes. The pattern comes together easily, and can be altered to fit many body types.

     

     

    Conclusion:

    Because Montana is a place with extreme weather, before I started sewing again as an adult, I considered lightweight coats silly. I would need to wear a heavier coat on top of a canvas coat nine months of the year, so why bother? Now that I own a fabric store and can sew anything I choose, I love the idea of a lightweight canvas coat: it spruces up any outfit, and makes me feel ultra-put-together. This is a great pattern and a great wardrobe basic!

  • Seamstress Erin Electron Layette in Organic Soy Knit

    Baby Connor modeling his Seamstress Erin Electron Layette in Organic Soy Knit Baby Connor modeling his Seamstress Erin Electron Layette in Organic Soy Knit

    Baby Connor modeling his Seamstress Erin Electron Layette in Organic Soy Knit Comfy Connor in his Seamstress Erin Electron Layette in Organic Soy Knit

    A few months after my daughter’s boss had a baby boy, Seamstress Erin introduced her first layette pattern. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make the Seamstress Erin Electron Layette in Organic Soy Knit. Of course, Erin the scientist and seamstress, named her first baby pattern the Electron Layette.

    Pattern Description:

    Erin describes the Electron this way: modern, full of personality, and gender-neutral. The pattern includes: drop-crotch pants that easily fit over both disposable and cloth diapers; a V-neck cardigan with snaps; a knotted cap; and a drool bib.

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

    It looked even cuter, given the cuteness of my model. He is chubby enough that the drop-crotch pants look like regular pants on him.

    Were the instructions easy to follow?

    Yes. Erin did a beautiful job explaining and illustrating every step of the Electron Layette, from fabric selection to pattern assembly, to cutting out and sewing with knits. The drool bib, pants and hat are beginner level. Erin categorizes the cardigan as Advanced Beginner, and with her detailed instructions, I think she is correct. The cardigan is a small version of an adult cardigan, however – be aware that it has set-in sleeves, facings, and other challenging bits.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    I loved the instructions. The snaps were a snap using our snap-setter tool, which Erin recommends. I couldn’t make the little tiny pockets look good, which was probably a deficiency in my sewing rather than a deficiency in Erin’s drafting.

    Fabric used

    Organic Soy Knit in Navy and Ruby Red. I found both fabrics easy to sew with. I used a walking foot to feed the top and bottom layers evenly, and used a narrow zig-zag stitch.

    Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:

    My only design changes were to color-block the hat and the cardigan.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Yes and Yes! I really want to make Connor another outfit, and I should get going before he grows much more.

    Conclusion:

    This pattern is a great introduction to sewing with knits, especially with Erin’s instructions. The pants and bib and hat are all super easy. The cardigan is a little more complex, so take your time and read the instructions well.

  • Colette Phoebe in Linen

    I made a Colette Phoebe in Linen last summer, and finally had Bess take pictures of me in it! As you can see, summer is long-gone in Montana!

    What I Loved about the Colette Phoebe in linen:

    When Colette Patterns published the Phoebe Pattern, I knew I had to have one. I love the waist seam and the slightly a-line skirt. I also love the princess seam plus a dart for sizes 18 and up. Some of us need both a princess seam and a dart!

    Colette patterns seem to be drafted for my shape, so I made very few alterations to this pattern. I found it a full in the upper chest, but that was easily remedied by increasing the width of the seam allowances above the bust.

    Figure-Flattery (or not)

    Let’s talk a little about figure-flattery. Even though I know high necklines make my large bust look larger, I still made this dress. Just like the old days, when I bought ready-made clothes and I wanted things to look good on me because they looked good on the models in the catalogues, I had hopes that a well-fitted high-neck dress would look good on me. I don’t think it does. Jane and Bonnie say it looks good, but I feel self-conscious about my bust. I need a scoop or V-neckline to minimize my bust. Someday I will learn. Meanwhile, I will wear this dress from time to time because I love the color, and I love everything but the neckline.

    Colette Phoebe in Linen Kate pretending it's not below 0 degrees Fahrenheit in her Colette Phoebe in Linen!

    What about you?

    Are you ever hopeful that a pattern will work for your shape, even though you know deep down it won’t?

     

  • Ruffle Hem Top in Organic Soy Knit

    Ruffle Hem Knit Top in Organic Soy Knit

    Pattern: Katherine Tilton for Vogue 8691 Ruffle Hem Top

    Description: Semi-fitted tops A, B, C, D have scoop neckline, neckband, princess seams, shaped, ruffled hemline flounce and long sleeves, topstitching and raw edge hem finish.

    Sizing: 8-14 (BB) or 16-22 (FF). Bonnie made this version in a size 12.

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it did look like the cover picture once it was all said and done!

    Were the instructions easy to follow? In general the instructions were good, but they weren't very clear in regards to the different flounce options.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Bonnie liked all the variations and possibilities of combining different knit fabrics and ruffle hems. It's also a very comfortable shirt to wear and looks great on. She didn't like the full cut of the pattern in the hip area, and felt that the sizing was inaccurate - she had to go down a size despite checking her measurements against the finished measurements on the pattern.

    Fabric used: Two different Organic Soy Knits: this one in Spruce and this one in Navy. They have a great weight and drape to them, and don't pill easily.

    Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Armhole alterations ( ), took in the sleeves. According to her measurements, Bonnie is a size 14, but she ended up cutting down to a size 12.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Bonnie would sew it again, but would probably make the view without the zipper, and decrease the fullness at hip and hem area.

    Conclusion: This is a cute and comfortable top that has a lot of room for creativity. Bonnie would add the disclaimer though that with the modifications she had to made (and the sometimes vague instructions), this is not an "easy" pattern as designated by Vogue!

     

  • Whole-Cloth Quilt in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

    Whole-Cloth Quilt in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel Whole-Cloth Quilt in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

    Mammoth Flannel Quilt with Milwaukee Station in the Background Mammoth Flannel Quilt with Milwaukee Station in the Background

    Close-Up of Mammoth Flannel Whole-Cloth Quilt Close-Up of Mammoth Flannel Whole-Cloth Quilt

    Whole-Cloth Quilt in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel Decision-Making Process

    I love quilts filled with bamboo batting. They are just right: not too hot and not too cold. We had an old bamboo-filled quilt on our bed, but I did not made it big enough, so it just sat on top of the bed , not matching the blanket underneath. I wanted a new quilt, but I did not have time to make 250 flying-geese blocks. What to do? Make a whole-cloth quilt in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel, of course! I let Fred select the fabrics. He picked our Mammoth Flannel in Crimson and Gold, Mammoth Flannel in Cobalt with Black and White, and Shetland Flannel in Redwood, so the quilt turned out a little masculine, but I still love it. I used 6 yards for both the top and the bottom: I sewed two 3-yard cuts together in the middle, matching the plaids.

    Experience Making

    I have not quilted a quilt for a loooong time, but I felt emboldened after taking the "Learn to Quilt" class here at the shop. Our teacher, Chris, advised us to pin our quilt layers together and use a walking foot. She also gave us a great hint: quilt at a 30-degree angle, and no one will be able to see if your blocks aren't completely square. The smart novice would have pinned her quilt sandwich and followed her teacher's advice. I am not a smart novice. I decided to use our basting spray, even though I have never used it before. Ugh. I found myself smoothing and resmoothing the layers on my hands and knees. And I ended up pin-basting a lot of the sandwich on top of the spray-basting. We have these great curved pins for sandwich-basting.

    Conclusions

    The quilt is far from perfect, but I love it. It matches the blue of our headboard, and the yellowish wood trim in our bedroom. The red binding adds a nice pop of color. Making a quilt entails A LOT more sewing than making a garment, but it goes quickly and the repetition is calming. I'm already planning my next whole-cloth quilt!!!

  • Merchant & Mills Strand Coat in Lana Bollito Wool

    Charlotte is keeping warm and looking stylish in the Merchant & Mills Strand Coat! Charlotte is keeping warm and looking stylish in the Merchant & Mills Strand Coat!

    The Lana Bollito Wool has a little stretch to it, helping it to fit and flatter! The Lana Bollito Wool has a little stretch to it, helping it to fit and flatter!

    Merchant & Mills Strand Coat in Lana Bollito Wool Blend

    Pattern: The Strand Coat by Merchant & Mills

    Pattern Description: The Strand is a simple unlined coat for cutting a dash in the city. Lightweight and relaxed, it is designed for linen, cotton drill, wool, seersucker or 8-12oz denim.

    Pattern Sizing: 8-18 (UK sizing). Bonnie made this version in a size 12.

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? It looked better!

    Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The pockets (both front and on-seam) are a little bulky.

    Fabric used: Lana Bollito wool/rayon blend in chocolate brown. The fabric was prewashed in cold water and laid flat to dry, which shrunk it quite a bit and gave it more texture. However, it has some stretch so the finished coat was more like a size 14-16. This is a great fabric to sew with – Bonnie serged the seam allowances, but the fabric really doesn’t require it.

    Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Bonnie made the sleeves 2” longer. She also used a decorative seam tape to cover up the waistband seams.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes definitely! This is actually the second one she has sewn, and both times the coat turned out gorgeous and fit well.

    Conclusion: Bonnie enjoyed sewing it. Because the fabric is someone bulky, she graded the seams more than was directed in the pattern. She recommends sizing down if using this fabric or any other fabric that has some stretch to it.

    Clasp detail. Clasp detail.

  • Grainline Archer Popover Top in Robert Kaufman Flannel

    Archer Popover in Robert Kaufman Flannel Grainline Archer Popover Top in Robert Kaufman Flannel

    Bonnie has made a Grainline Archer Popover Top in Robert Kaufman Flannel for my daughter, Mairin. We purchased the Archer Popover Variation Pack from the Grainline website, and Bonnie followed along with Jen’s sew-a-long for the popover. Bonnie found the popover variation straight forward, especially with help from the sew-a-long.

    Mairin Grainline Archer Robert Kaufman Flannel Mairin trying not to laugh or freeze in a Grainline Archer Popover Top

    Grainline Archer Popover Top in Robert Kaufman Flannel Pattern Review:

    Pattern Description: The Archer Button Up is a loosely fitted button up shirt with long sleeves. View A has angled cuffs and a back pleat at yoke. View B has straight cuffs and a gathered lower back detail. The popover add-on allows you to easily convert the button up into a popover and add tower pockets to your sleeves to match.

    Pattern Sizing: 0 to 18. Bonnie made a size 6 for Mairin. Grainline patterns work well for women with smaller busts (Mairin included). If you love the look of Grainline patterns, and you are larger in the chest, you will need to do a full-bust adjustment.

    Did it look like the photo or drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Yes, but it is more generously cut on the side seams than it looks in the picture.

    What do you particularly like about this pattern? Bonnie likes the many variations.

    Fabric Used: Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel in Ocean. It was easy to work with. We made sure to wash and dry it before cutting out the pattern to avoid shrinkage later.

    Grainline Archer in Robert Kaufman Flannel Mairin in her Grainline Archer Popover Top with a Robert Kaufman Flannel fringed scarf.

    Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Bonnie lengthened the sleeves by 1 inch because Mairin is tall. She took in the sides because Mairin didn’t want the top to be too full, and she shortened the top by 1 inch, because Mairin likes her shirts boxy. She stuck with the original sleeve plackets, instead of using the tower plackets included in the Popover variation.

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