Try Something New Social Sew Round Up!

This month, I challenged everyone to Try Something New! I myself made my first ever pair of jeans (jeans, y'all!!) and love how they turned out.

We had a small crowd this month, but what we lacked in size we made up in challenging projects, including two more pairs of jeans... um, amazing!
See Carmen Sew is in the spotlight this month for her Mimi G skinny jeans!! Congratulations on a successful pair of jeans, and just look at that "success!" photo at the end of her post... if that isn't a "challenge conquered" pose I don't know what is.

I was SO excited to see Nathalie Sews with her very first time using a vintage pattern!! Y'all know I love vintage and Nathalie's red 1960s Butterick 9599 is so unique with that lovely zig-zag button front. How would you style this dress?

Melissa of Mahlica Designs is our other jeans-maker, with her Liana bootcut jeans that she's been fitting meticulously over on facebook. I love the back pocket detail and that topstitching looks great!!

Dress Bakery made a gorgeous dirndl, her first! I believe she is Bavarian, and says that women can opt to wear a dirndl in lieu of a formal dress, say, at a wedding. So interesting! (Plus, it's another stellar item-made-from-a-sheet!)

Lassemista Liliana made her first Seamwork pattern, the Astoria cropped sweater. This is on my list! She says she'll make some fit adjustments next time, but I think the color and boxy shape is perfect on her!

Thanks to all who participated! Next month's theme will be Cozy Layers... snuggle up in a wrap sweater, a new wool coat, or leggings and a drapey tee, and maybe give yourself a rest if you tackled jeans this month, huh? I hope you'll join in!

One last thought on jeans: In her Liana jeans post, Melissa asks is it worth it to spend $30 and 15 hours on a pair of jeans? What do you think? Personally, I enjoyed the experience of making jeans (and I'm pretty proud of myself for tackling an intimidating project) but I'm not sure how many pairs of handmade jeans are in my future. The materials and pattern for the jeans I made myself totalled $50, plus hours of sewing time. Meanwhile, these high-waisted skinnies from Grana, made from high-quality Japanese denim in regulated factories, are also $50, and take zero hours (plus, perfect topstitching). To me, the reasons I sew my own clothes are:
1. not available in my price range (i.e. camel hair coats)
2. not available in stores (i.e. vintage styles)
3. not available somewhat ethically (I'm not an expert in this field, but I'm learning)
4. something I want to try (i.e. jeans)
If I can find something that is in my price range, available, and somewhat ethical, I don't see any reason to make it unless you specifically want to for the experience... and I've experienced jeans. So, will I make jeans again? I guess my answer is we'll see... and y'all will be the first to know if I do.

How do you decide what to make and what to buy? If you had unlimited time and money, would you buy a Burberry trench or spend 25 hours making one?

Thanks so much for reading!!


ps: where can i, an american, wear a dirndl and not look silly? also, is that cultural appropriation if i'm not from the dirndl-wearing part of the world? let me know!

allie J.

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Fall for Flares

This post is brought to you as part of the Indiesew Blogger network. Thank you to Indiesew for providing the pattern and jeans kit!

I really enjoy doing the Social Sew along with you all because it is such a good motivational tool for me to get out of my own way a little bit and force myself to try new things, experiment, and generally push myself. These jeans (jeans!) are a great example of this--I ordered the Birkin Flares pattern and jeans kit (stretch denim, rivets, buttons, zipper) from Indiesew as soon as the kit was restocked but without the self-imposed deadline of October's "Try Something New" challenge I probably would have procrastinated forever instead of what I did, which was to throw my denim in the laundry as soon as it came and start taping together my pattern. Once you start, it's just a matter of following instructions, right?

Although the instructions provide guidance in making a full or partial muslin, I'm #blessed in that I can generally find jeans that generally fit me decently, so I decided to just go for it. I cut out a straight size 27, my usual size in ready to wear, thinking that any small tweaks I needed to make I could just make on the next pair rather than dealing with a muslin, which would inevitably be in a slightly-different-stretch fabric, not as sturdy as denim, etc., etc. The construction allows for this since you sew up basically the whole thing before you close your side seams, so you can baste and do some last-minute fit tweaks as long as you've got it mostly right. It was so scary though, to sew basically the whole thing without knowing if it would fit or not!!

And did my jeans fit, after I sewed basically the whole thing? They... did not. Y'all, I could not get them over my butt. I unpicked the seams and re-sewed them with a 3/8" seam allowance and promptly recut the waistband in a size 28. Luckily that salvaged the project, although I did have to wear them around for a few hours before I could zip them up all the way! These are some tight jeans (actually, my husband's first reaction was "bellbottom jeans?!" and then second, "those are pretty tight.") but I think they'll loosen up with wear.  I love the way they look once I wrangle them on, but if I make this pattern again, though, I'll make a 28 and reassess fit from there.

I  found the construction to be fairly straightforward, and I even managed to do some half-decent topstitching (granted, in dark blue thread--inspired in part by Ada Spragg's gorgeous monochrome pair and in part by how obvious any mistakes would be in gold!). The fly zip was a little scary for me but the instructions walk you through it step by step and I think it looks pretty good! I feel like if you do one step at a time you can do basically anything, right? The only style change I made was to omit the front pockets. Sure, it looks like there are pockets there, but... nope. My J Brand 811s are like this--real back pockets, false front pockets--and I really like it. The jeans legs are simply topstitched to the front pocket facing. Women's front pants pockets aren't super functional anyway, right? I also left off the belt loops, but I cut them out and everything, I just didn't really want to fight to attach them since I'll probably never use them.

Looking at these photos you can see that the hem is a bit too short for these shoes, but these are my very tallest heels at 4"; I usually don't push it past 3" and that was the height I was wearing to mark the hem! I didn't take any length off the bottom and I'm 5'7", so I would say if your height + shoes = 5'10", these will be the perfect length for you, otherwise, you may want to adjust. Personally, I think flares look their best with a bit of extra height added for extra leg-lenthening.

Phew! That was a lot of text, so if you're still here, thanks! Have a great Monday, everyone. Friday is casual day in my office, which means we can wear jeans... want to have a guess at what I'll be wearing? How would you style flares like these? I need ideas!


ps: there's still time to try something new--jeans or otherwise--this month!! link it up here :)

allie J.

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DIY: Super Simple Winter Kaftan

plaid wraps if you really hate sewing (but seriously this is so easy!)

I have a bunch of new projects coming up for blog tours and networks and stuff, but today I wanted to share with you a very simple project that I think is absolutely perfect for fall! I made this cozy popover out of a couple yards of this plaid washable wool (available in a bunch of different colorways) and it was a great afternoon project. (Skip to below the break for instructions!)

Inspired by the plaid kimono/poncho/wrap things I've been seeing these past few falls as well as by the classic 70s kaftan, this item (which I'm really not sure what to call--kaftan? poncho? I don't know) is as warm and snuggly as wearing a blanket but a little more put together since it is belted for waist definition! The belt shows on the front side, and then snugs around your waist, leaving the back of the garment hanging loose. It's basically this, but in plaid wool. Amazing how fabric choice affects the style of a garment, huh? ;)

I took my cozy blanket kaftan over to Perkin's Orchard, which is apparently Durham's oldest and largest fruit & vegetable stand. I'd somehow never been here despite it being crazy close to my house. It's very unassuming from the street, so I was surprised to find that they had a little pumpkin patch as well as mums, muscadine grapes, local honey and homemade jam, and $5 bags of apples. Very autumnal! The man who runs it (7 days a week) took over the family business at the age of ten and has been running it for about 12 years so I'll let you do the math on that one. He said they do all-you-can-dip chocolate fondue AND this year they will be expanding into Christmas trees and poinsettias so you can guess where I'll be spending all my time this fall and winter... and you'll probably be seeing some stereotypically wintry pictures when those trees come in! #shoplocalyall!

Do you have a go-to item on those days you really just want to wear your down comforter all day? I have an ancient and very pilly cardigan that I wear on days that I am feeling chilly and "CBA" as the Brits say, but I think this will be my new upgraded version. If you want to make your own, click to below the break for instructions!


ps: by the end of next week it's supposed to be back up to 80 degrees again :( ugh

Neon and Neutrals

Some more natural leather projects for you to break in just how you like (plus, luxe silk tanks):

I've been gushing over my Ogden tanks for a while now (see here), so I thought I'd take a couple quick snaps over the weekend. You may remember this skirt from the spring--it's tricky to match things with but this nude/blush tank goes nicely I think--the fabric is this silk crepe de chine from Mood in the "cream pink" color, although I also made it in "lavender fog." Wearing silk feels so lovely and since the pattern only calls for 1 yard, you may as well splash out on a $20/yard crepe de chine, right? (ps: this color is a bit sheer but the lavender one is less so. i would actually do a full lining rather than the half lining in a pale color but i think the more saturated colors would be totally opaque. mood has like 100 shades of this stuff so between all of us we can make them all into Ogdens, don't you think?) I made this pattern in a straight size with no alterations and I couldn't be happier.

My clutch is also handmade, not by me, but by my mom!! I sent her a link to this currently-unavailable clutch by Matine and after a trip to the leather store nearby she very (very) nicely made me one of my own! It's a natural, undyed leather, so it will take on a gorgeous patina over time, deepening from this pale nude color into a warm brown. I'll let her tell you a bit about the process:

"I am always up for a craft project so when Allie asked me if I could make a leather clutch purse for her I thought “sure, why not.” In all honesty I have been eyeing a leather sewing machine on Amazon for months and I just can’t justify spending the money.  I have sewn leather on my traditional household machine but have felt limited to sewing only thin leathers.  The timing couldn’t have been better because I had come to the decision that what I really wanted to do was learn how to hand sew leather.  I watched videos online, shopped at Tandy Leather and bought hardware online from The Buckle Guy.  After I gathered all of my supplies I practiced every step.  I made a paper template of the clutch shape and lightly traced it on to the vegetable tanned leather.  I cut the scalloped edge first and then away I went punching my holes and saddle stitching.  The entire process was pretty nerve racking.  One false move and it would just be junk.  Just like with items I sew I see all of the flaws with the clutch but overall I am happy with how it turned out."

Using a bit of the same leather, she also made my husband a strap for his watch. For his 30th birthday(!!) he had his heart set on a Timex watch with a leather strap and I just could not find one! DIY to the rescue--the Weekender watch has a slip-through band, so the strap is basically just a tiny belt that the watch itself slips onto. He loves it and we all agree it will be interesting to see how the leather ages--in the picture above, you can see how much color his belt has taken on, and that was the same color as the watch strap was when I bought it (about 5 years ago, I think).


ps: a silk tank for $20 and like, 2 hours max. y'all. make this now.

allie J.

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Snow Leopard Tunic (+ Giveaway!!)

I am a big fan of Sarah of Goodbye Valentino's "luxe preppy" handmade wardrobe. I followed along eagerly as she tweaked and tweaked her ideal tunic a while back, so I was excited last year when she announced she and co-author Julie Starr would be writing a book focused on tunics! I was even more excited when Julie emailed me to ask if I wanted to try it out. Um, yes!

I'm sure you've heard all this before, but The Tunic Bible provides one tunic bodice to which you can add various sleeves, necklines, and hem details to come up with about 72648 distinct looks. I love my tried-and-true patterns (see my million copies of Simplicity crop top and multiple versions of Simplicity 4475), so this seems like such a good idea to me! (My own book, were I asked to write one, would be a billion different variations on a fit and flare dress, in case you were wondering.)

It took a long time for me to narrow down what I wanted to make--I thought about going full tunic and making a blue and white Sail to Sable-inspired number--but eventually I decided I really wanted to stretch the limits of the book and go a little bit off track (as I am wont to do), making the dress-length option with the ruffled collar (from the book), elasticating the sleeves (not in the book), and adding a little black velvet tie at the neck since we've seen a lot of that on the runway recently. Why not, right?

I cut a size small, grading the hips to a medium, and I made it in this black-and-white animal print from imagine gnats which is super soft and drapey. It's not too visible in this unstructured fabric, but I definitely didn't need to grade up the hips. I'll certainly be making more tunics, and next time I'll start by making a muslin and using the fitting tips in the book, since I want to get the fit perfectly before I start with all the modifications!! Julie and Sarah said they've made a combined total of about 60 tunics of all diferent styles, and I still want to make a couple of more colorful tunics to wear with white jeans next spring/summer. (I guess I also need white jeans.)

My only critique is that there is only one bodice onto which all the various pieces are applied--so if it doesn't fit you how you'd like, you're left making a lot of alterations in order to use the pieces! They do have a section on making a muslin, but given how many sleeve/neck/etc options they included, it would have been nice to have included several bodice options, for example, a princess-seamed front bodice as well as the darted bodice provided. Overall, though, I love all the options and a tunic is a perfect "blank canvas" for adding your personal style. I mean, if you want to see how flexible this single pattern is, just look at all the wildly different makes on the Tunic Bible website and on the tour!!

October 3 C&T // Pattern Review 
October 6 allie J. // Thanks I Made Them 

If you're inspired to start sewing tunics, leave a comment telling me what type of tunic you would make below for a chance to win a copy of The Tunic Bible from C&T publishing. Super preppy? 70s boho? Edit: This giveaway is now closed.


ps: these pictures were taken at our local science museum--they have these wonderful outdoor installations, this one is called Sweetgum Thicket.

allie J.

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Inspiration: The Try Something New Social Sew

While I've been attempting to use every Social Sew to try something new (my first bathing suit and my trench coat being the stand outs), this month is the first to be specifically dedicated to trying new things! Like last month's "Tried and True," this is totally dependent on you and what you decide it means to "Try Something New"... whether it's a fabric you've never used, a technique you've wanted to tackle, or a garment that's sadly lacking in your handmade wardrobe.

Remember, my main goal is designing the Social Sew link-up was to make the theme narrow enough that someone unsure of what to make next could find some guidance, but broad enough that someone with sewing plans could find a way to make their pieces fit. If you're a bit stumped on what to make for this month's theme let me suggest...

A pair of jeans (jeans!!): I feel like you've really made it once you can make jeans, you know?
Patterns: Liana, Birkin, Morgan, Safran, Ginger... there are jeans patterns sprouting up all over the place! Or try the pared-down Mia jeans from Sew Over It's new capsule wardrobe book.

A floaty, drapey top, skirt, or dress (in a gorgeous but tricky fabric): Since branching out from quilting-type cottons, my sewing world has expanded dramatically. I've tackled rayons, silk/cotton blends, and even a couple silk crepe Ogdens, but haven't quite made it to chiffon and charmeuse quite yet. Give it a shot!
Patterns: I've always loved the Cascade skirt for a romantic, bohemian look, and would it be lovely with a coordinating Ogden cami for a faux-dress look? (Plus, the simple-to-make Ogden is a nice entry into trickier fabrics!) Papercut has some gorgeous dress options crying out for charmeuse and chiffon, and Victory Patterns' new Trina is a kimono-style wrap dress that would also look stunnnninggg in a lush silk.

Something using velvet or leather (or faux fur!): Very autumnal right? If you're like me, you've never used either of  these materials, but velvet is "in" this fall (pretty sure about this, haha) and leather or pleather is cool year round/always but especially nice in the fall, I think. I saw some stretch faux-suede leggings at Tuckernuck and like, I'm pretty sure those are super impractical but also I have to have them--make some and let me know how/when/where you plan on wearing them, okay?
Patterns: Simplicity's new leggings pattern 8212 was made for stretch suede, don't you think? Or add velvet or leather accents to your favorite pattern; a bomber jacket would be super on-trend.

I'm going to be attempting my first pair of jeans--the Birkin flares!--so that will be really new for me: a few new techniques, a new type of garment, and a new silhouette, since I haven't worn any flare jeans in about a decade! What about you?? And which theme do you prefer: Tried and True or Try Something New? Would you rather stay in your comfort zone, or experiment a bit?


ps: i know i suggested the ogden cami in last month's inspiration post as well, but... i just really like that pattern! (despite not having blogged any of my three versions, oops!)

allie J.

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Social Sew #7: Try Something New

After everyone's lovely Tried and True makes last month, it's time for a challenge...

October's theme is Try Something New!

Never made pants? Why not give it a shot? Never figured out how to rethread your serger?? Just do it already and make a tee shirt (seriously, it's not that hard, y'all). Make a cosplay-style Halloween costume. Hand-tailor that blazer you've been talking about for a whole year (this one is directed at myself, sorry). Try something new!

I have a few things I'd like to try which I hope will stretch my sewing skills, the first of which being jeans. Yikes! Wish me luck.

The link up will be open from the 1st of the month (at about 8 am est) and will close the last day of the month. 

Some rules: 
1. This is for adult apparel sewing, so no kids clothes or home decorating (unless specified otherwise in the theme).
2. Newly blogged garments, please: the things you add to the link up should be made in the month the link up is for. Remember, the theme and the link up are there to inspire you to create something new! 

3.  Please click on the logo above to download it, and put it either in the post you are linking up, or in your sidebar. I'd also appreciate you linking to the Social Sew--the more people who discover it, the more participation we'll have, the more inspiration! Thanks, y'all.

Upcoming themes:
September (this month):Tried and True
October: Try Something New
November: Cozy Layers
December: Glamour
January: TBD
February: TBD
March: TBD


ps: can you believe this is the 7th Social Sew?? thanks for playing along!

allie J.

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