Cozy Layers Social Sew Round Up!

Grab your mug of cocoa and curl up in a blanket for this one--this month's Social Sew participants are super cozy and I'd hate for you to get jealous...

In the Social Sew spotlight this month is the Tell Tale Tasha's ah-mazing red bomber. Be sure to read alllll the details on her blog!

Veronika of B-rouchka made four coordinating loungewear items from some super-luxe fabrics purchased in Kuala Lampur. Who says your at-home wear shouldn't be as gorgeous as your out-and-about clothes?

I love a two-piece set and See Carmen Sew's royal blue dress and top are no exception! Her blue quilted knit is stellar and I enjoyed hearing about her "improvisational" sewing experience.

Laura aka Petite Passions made two stripy Mollys from the Sew Over It City Break book, a dress and a top. I can't decide which one I like more!

Angela from My Little Sewing Dreams created a whole collection of dreamy little items--a bra, two camis, and two undies! Lace and bamboo knit sounds cozy indeed.

Domestic Coquinette Claire used a standout wool knit and a simple pattern for a wonderful winter vest perfect for when you want to be cozy and still look totally put together.

Rosanna of Zak's Room made a clever lounging set consisting of pants and a kimono! Not two items I would have thought about matching but it really works! (If you are wondering about the title of the blog, check out her about page--the story is so sweet!)

Seamracer made three items--a whole outfit!--all from vintage patterns. I love her knit flare jeans (so comfy cozy) and check out her cool draped vest. I agree that it's quite reminiscent of Rey (from Star Wars VII) but everyday wearable!

Thank you to everyone who participated! I know November and December are busy months but I really enjoy seeing what everyone is making... and I can't wait to see your December makes--the theme is Holiday Glamour and y'all never disappoint!!


ps: i have a great tutorial for next month's glamour theme, i think you will all really like it! 

allie J.

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Dinner Party Basel by Honig Design

I absolutely love Elise of Honig Design's style, so when she asked me to try out her first pattern for sale, of course I said yes. Described as being "a modern take on a much-loved 1960s silhouette"--um, so up my alley, right??--the Basel dress is a kimono sleeved dress with a pleated tulip skirt and either a boat- or v-neck front and back.

I made a size 3 bodice and size 4 skirt, then increased the depth of the front pleats and back darts to compensate. This is a pretty easy way to "grade" and if you're only going up or down one size it doesn't affect the shape too much, but I wouldn't suggest it if you're grading up or down more than a couple sizes. Since I omitted the lining (opting instead to use a neckline facing) and used a stretch cotton sateen, my dress ended up a bit too big, but it was a simple fix to take in the sides a bit. Elise mentioned that the other testers didn't have this size issue... Probably because they followed the instructions? I love the neckline and sleeve length, it's super easy to put together, and I actually really enjoyed wearing this skirt shape--it's not my usual! As drafted, it's definitely closer to the longer just-above-the-knee length you see here, not the mini length seen here (I'm 5'7").

Since my dress is more cocktail than casual fall attire (although as my Nana taught me, any dress can be a winter dress if you just wear a turtleneck underneath), I opted for an indoor photoshoot for this one, and wore it for a recent dinner get-together my husband hosted at our house. He's recently been exploring Chinese cuisine--we both love Szechuan food especially and he wanted to show off what he's been learning! He made a huge spread from the cookbooks Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes and Mission Chinese Food--so, not 100% authentic, but more so than your standard American Chinese food, and so delicious! Our meal included Chongqing chicken wingsmapo tofu, Sichuan catfish soup (this recipe is close), long beans, and bok choy. So. Good. Thanks Alex! You cook, I'll clean.

Those green beans are the best things ever. Actually the fish soup is my favorite but not very photogenic!

Okay! Back to the sewing--from Elise's introductory blog post (which you should totally read, it's really sweet): "My take is contemporary sewing patterns based on classic silhouettes.  You can find my shop on Etsy, and my first pattern - the Basel Dress is available now.  (It's 25% off with the code honigdesignpatterns until midnight Monday UK time)." I can't wait to see what she comes up with in the future, and in the meantime, you can download her free pattern (this one is just drafted to her measurements, though, fyi).

I've been wondering about kimono sleeve bodices recently--do you think you could use the clean lining technique seen here (aka the best way to finish a bodice ever)? Couldn't you trim 1/2 inch off the lining sleeve hem to finish your sleeve? I don't see why not, but is there something I'm overlooking? Also--any amazing Asian cookbooks to try, Szechuan or otherwise?


ps: after all the guests had gone home, i changed straight away into my new double gauze pajamas. it was a good, handmade night :)

allie J.

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What I'm Reading (+ Organic Cotton Double Gauze Carolyn Pajamas)

Thank you to Organic Cotton Plus for providing the fabric for this post. 

In my non-sewing life, I'm a children's librarian. Did you know that? Generally, if I'm not sewing (or thinking about sewing) I'm reading. Especially as it gets a bit colder, nothing feels quite as nice as curling up in your pajamas with a cup of mint tea and a library book. I love to peek into people's reading queues and so I'm sharing a bit of mine with you today, as well as a lovely new pajama set.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
This was my favorite book between the ages of about 8 and 12. When Natalie Babbitt died recently, I knew I wanted to reread this classic of my childhood--after all, it deals so beautifully with the concept of death. It's a short read at only 139 pages but it was even more perfect than I remembered, and much more "literary" although I'm not a huge fan of the term. To be honest, I read this on my lunch break and had to hide in the bathroom for a few moments after finishing to recompose myself.

Couture Confessions: Fashion Legends in their Own Words by Pamela Golbin
I'm not much of a Fashion Person myself. I'm always aware of NYFW but I don't watch the runway shows obsessively like some do. However, I found this book to be very interesting--Golbin has constructed interviews with some of the most recognized designers ever (think Vionnet, Chanel, Dior) out of "their own words" but in a casual interview setting. I'm not sure how to describe it exactly, but it's as if she's interviewing them herself, but of course, they're not really available for interview (most are dead), so she pulls  their responses from other interviews, memoirs, autobiographies, etc. If you aren't quite ready to pull the trigger on that 400-page biography of Coco Chanel (or whoever), start here.

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt
My dad recommended this to me as being reminiscent of my very favorite author, Lloyd Alexander, but for adults (and I do mean adults, watch out for the random orgy scene!) and I agree--the writing style has a similar poetic straightforwardness even as it that pokes fun at the characters. I have mixed feelings about the story itself--the main character Lucy is self-important in a way that's a little too Guy in your MFA for me, and I know that that's the point but it still bugs me. I'm also reading his other book The Sisters Brothers which I like more but I'm not entirely convinced by that one either.

And the pajamas! My pajamas are the Carolyn in the short sleeves + boxers version, made with the organic cotton double gauze in opal from Organic Cotton Plus. I wanted to compare this double gauze to the only other double gauze I've used, a Nani Iro floral which I made into a crop top and short shorts co-ord (and a little skirt which I really ought to unpick and resew as I never wear it). It's quite nice, a little looser than the Nani Iro, and wonderful for snuggling up in. If you like your pajamas soft soft soft this could be your new favorite!

I used a pack of ric rac from my stash instead of piping and had just enough. It's not perfect, but even in its imperfection I think it's a nice touch, and, after all, it's just pajamas!

My only complaint about the pajamas is that the back of my neck looks a little sloppy where you topstitch down the collar. Heather mentions (in this great tutorial) picking this collar construction expressly because she dislikes facings/yokes, so I think this is just personal preference, but is there a better way to sew this type of collar? Does anyone have suggestions? I'd really like to make a bunch of pairs of  these (and I already have my next fabric selected!) but I'd love to know if you have any tips!

What are you reading? And do you like to wear matching pajama sets, or are you more of a boxers and tee shirt sleeper? I admit to wearing my nike shorts more frequently to sleep in than run in, what about you?



allie J.

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Winter Wish List


ps: i imagine if you a fashion blogger that makes these product collages every week, you get faster, but oh my gosh, this takes forever! 

allie J.

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Willa Vest (Laela Jeyne Fall Tour)

I listen to tons of podcasts while sewing--like, so many--and find it to be such an engrossing way to pass the time that I often have to pause them when I'm trying to follow tricky instructions, or else risk embroidering "from WBEZ Chicago, I'm Ira Glass" where I'm supposed to be following a fly template.

I'm also lucky enough to have seen several favorites live--last year, my husband and I saw Josh and Chuck from Stuff You Should Know and laughed for a whole hour, and he even let me take him to Welcome to Night Vale, a show he "doesn't get," but was totally worth it to see Dessa as The Weather. (She's so amazing--check her out. She's my mom's favorite rapper, to pique your interest.) A few weeks ago, we went to see Criminal, a local podcast that's part of the Radiotopia crew (you may know them from 99% Invisible). If you like Serial--and like, who doesn't--subscribe to Criminal now. (Also listen to this 3-part series from my very favorite podcast of the moment, Reply All out of Gimlet. I know it says "A Show About the Internet" but Gimlet is about the internet in the way Planet Money is about the economy, so even if you think you don't care about the internet, you'll probably like it.) I'm all in the spooky fall spirit, so some great true-crime reporting was a perfect night out, especially to debut a new make--this cute new vest!

Last year I went on an internet-shopping quest for an outdoorsy vest that looked sort of like the ones belonging to one of my personal style icons, Kate Middleton. She has several dark colored vests which she often wears when she does outdoors-type events like visiting with boy scouts or hiking. After poking around on Pinterest for a while, I designed my ideal vest combining elements of several of hers and set off to find a basic pattern that I could hack them onto... to no avail! So when Laela Jeyne asked me to take part in their fall blog tour featuring a vest, I decided I'd try out this new-to-me PDF pattern company and do some pattern hacking.

The Willa outdoor vest is a princess-seamed vest with a center front zipper and optional hood and welt pockets. As you can see, my Willa looks a bit different than the original! Although the bones are there (the only fit modification I made was to bring up the shoulders and back princess seams a bit to fix some back armhole gaping), the styling is pretty different!

I used the rest of my army green twill from Indiesew, left over from my Lonetree jacket (ps: they have kits now!!). Since the fabric was so thick, I didn't want to line it or do the bound edges the pattern calls for, so I drafted some quick front facings, used self-fabric bias strips to face the armholes, and serged and folded up the bottom. I knew that I wanted to add some exterior (non-welt) pockets on the side front panel, and decided to embed them in the panel. Although the pocket flaps are topstitched on (like the pockets on my Lonetree Jacket--and in fact these are the pocket flaps from the Lonetree), the pockets themselves are caught between the center front and side back panel, built into the body of the jacket. They're the perfect size for me and hold my phone, cards, and keys nicely. Be warned though that if you make size XXL your pockets will be correspondingly larger!

The other design change I made was to add the snap flap (what's that called?). This one was an improvization--the pattern calls for a 26" zip and so I ordered that size from Wawak, but 26" is waaaay too long. The instructions say if it's too long, just trim it--but that's a bit tricky with a brass zipper, you can't just sew over the end teeth. I didn't want to risk zipping the pull right off the trimmed top end, so I left the zipper off and decided on a snap opening. Then, since the vest didn't have an overlap, I added this panel into the CF seam. It gives at interesting asymmetrical look when closed that I'm honestly not sure if I like or not. I could always take it off and add a zipper, I guess, but I don't think I'll often wear it done up, so I think I'll keep the flap.

I'm wearing mine belted here (otherwise, you could see the pockets on my coco dress and they looked weird! haha) but it's quite flattering even without the belt, thanks to the princess seams. This was my first time using Laela Jeyne patterns but I had such a nice time participating in the fall blog tour; thanks for having me, Marisa!

How do you guys shorten metal zippers? I shortened the metal zip on my Birkin flares but there was also another piece of fabric preventing the zip from popping off the top... what should I do for something like this vest? Any tips for me?

Below the break... a giveaway and a coupon code!!

Camel Jacket (Simplicity 8093)

If you follow me on instagram stories and snapchat, you may have seen this jacket aaaages ago when I first made it--in August! Obviously, it was much to hot to model it then, and it has been hanging in my closet ever since, waiting for the weather to cool down. Well, it's cooled down a bit (like, from 90 to 75 degrees, ugh) so here it is! I styled it with my new Birkin flares (love them!) and a second Ogden cami in the same fabric as the one linked but in lavender, like the lining of the jacket.

Simplicity 8093's jacket is a very simple, easy-to-make pattern with a couple of cute details that set it apart. I'm not typically drawn to the Mimi G releases but I just had to copy her little cardi-blazer. The little notches in the neckline are a very cute nod to a more structured blazer but in a pattern that is easy enough for a beginner! The body is constructed with front, side, and back panels give it a nice boxy but flattering (I think) shape. The silhouette is similar to a lot of 60s skirt-and-jacket sets, but most of the similar vintage patterns I have are just a front and back panel and a straight side seam--not as cute, even if it is more authentic! It would have been nice if the sleeves were in two parts as well, although I suppose I could draft them (tutorial here on Threads) if I felt called to. I used a lovely camel hair from Mood for the exterior of my jacket, copying the pattern envelope as I am wont to do. I have more of this fabric, so expect to see it again in a warmer coat form!

This was my first bagged jacket, and I was shocked by how easy it is! The lining of this jacket is made using the exact same sleeve, back, and side pattern pieces, and I think if I made it again I would either add a CB pleat for full range of motion or use a stretch lining. While the camel hair has a bit of give, the rayon bemberg (pretty sure) lining does not! I would also draft a back neck facing in the camel--the lining goes all the way to the top and bottom of the jacket (I think as a pattern simplification measure) and has a tendency to want to flip out at the top. I was a bit worried it would droop out of the botton, but it doesn't. The only internal structure as written is a fusible interfacing on the front facing panels, but I also added a bit of cotton batting at the shoulder seam.

As I pivot my wardrobe towards "warm neutrals (plus a lot of pink)" I am drawn to camel as a gorgeous three-season addition. How many camel items are too many? I'd love to have this little cardi-blazer and a camel hair 4-in-1 coat and a camel version of this swoon-worthy lilli ann number... too much?? What do you think?


ps: if you just can't get enough camel (like me!) here is the perfect camel-color cashmere cardigan from grana...

allie J.

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Inspiration: The Cozy Layers Social Sew

Hello! The November Social Sew theme is Cozy Layers in anticipation of the weather changing, the leaves turning red and gold, and the holidays approaching... especially the ones that make us want to bundle up and stay home with family and friends (and maybe a cocoa or two). It hasn't been that cold here in North Carolina yet, but it also hasn't been uncomfortably hot recently, so at least we're making progress, right?

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 joggers or leggings: Athleisure is here and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Whether you wear your lululemon everywhere you go or you are strictly in the "leggings =/= pants" camp, who doesn't need another pair of stretchy, comfy pants?
Patterns: True Bias's Hudson pants seem to be the blogger favorite when it comes to joggers (and there's a matching pattern for littles!). There's loads of options, though, when it comes to leggings: Sewaholic's Pacific leggings fit me perfectly (seen here), but I've been wanting to try Simplicity's new legging pattern 8212, and of course Jalie is the go-to when it comes to active (or not-so-active) wear.

A sweatshirt/sweater or cardigan: Stretch those last evenings on the porch late into the evening with a new sweater or cardigan in french terry, sweatshirt fleece, or sweater knit! Just look at the J. Crew sweatshirt with the ruffle, too... Liberty anyone??
Patterns: "Cute sweatshirt" sounds oxymoronic to me but there are so many cute sweatshirt patterns! This geodesic dome-inspired sweatshirt has the most interesting pockets, Sloane has french darts for fit, and I think version #2 of the Toaster sweater has a nice vintage-casual look. For a snuggly wrap cardigan, I love my Seamly cardi, and every version of McCall's 6844 I've seen has been adorable and so flattering!

A jacket or coat: Do you, unlike me, live in a place where it is legitimately cold already? Make something that will actually keep you cozy and warm!
Patterns: Waffle Patterns's Bamboo coat leaped straight to the top of my sewing list for its timeless minimalism (not a word I usually associate with my style!), but other favorites for winter outerwear include the Grainline Cascade for a bit of British style, and, for those of you who swear by "secret pajamas," the Yona wrap coat--stay in your robe all day!

I'll be working on my Bamboo coat this month, but I have some additions to make (see, I told you I don't do minimalism...) so I'm not sure if I'll get it totally finished by the end of the month. I intend to make a decent amount of progress, though!

What are you thinking of making? Let me know in the comments, I'm nosy and I love hearing people's sewing plans...


ps: I'm muslining my bamboo coat this weekend (yay!) and i have high hopes for minimal adjustments as i just want to get sewing! you know that feeling?

allie J.

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The Lonetree Jacket (Indiesew Fall/Winter Collection Blog Tour)

Thank you to Indiesew for providing the pattern and fabric for this post as part of their Fall/Winter Collection Blog Tour. 
You can see the whole Indiesew Fall/Winter Collection here--it's definitely worth checking out!

Allie Olson doesn't mess around, does she? In addition to founding Indiesew, she also recently released her very first pattern, and did she go for a simple tank top or a-line skirt? Nope! She went all out with a jacket. Why not?

The Lonetree Jacket (and vest) is an anorak-ish utility jacket. This pattern requires a lot of precise topstitching, which is a little bit intimidating, but coming off my jeans topstitching I was feeling pretty confident. This jacket required a lot of precision stitching, but it weren't any very tricky parts, just a lot of steps. I think it's totally worth it for a jacket that is maybe the most ready-to-wear looking item in my closet. I honestly have nothing but wonderful things to say about this project--it came together beautifully. Great job, Allie and Indiesew!

I recently wore a pretty similar jacket (from J. Crew c. 2006) here--that particular jacket is one of those garments that I like so much in theory, but I also haven't worn it much, either, because the styling felt just a bit off, so I was excited to give it another shot. Copying this rtw jacket and one of the example garments, I made mine in this army green twill (also c/o Indiesew). I then felt a bit guilty about doing so much copying and decided to do some experimentation with my completed jacket, so I bought a big block of Otter Wax!

If you've never waxed anything before, you just rub a big block of wax (like a bar of soap) over the item and then cure either by blow-drying it or just leaving it for a while to sort of melt into the fabric. I did only one coat of wax and so when I ran my jacket hem under the tap, it's not particularly waterproof. It does change the hand of the fabric though, giving it more of an "outerwear" layer feel. If I wanted it to be really waterproof, I could do another layer of wax, which I might do in the future. I'm also considering making the hood separately and making it detachable--I think I could just sew it flat and attach some snaps to the hood and the collar, don't you think? Then I could always wax the hood really well for rain protection. I'll just have to see if I have enough scraps left over to squeeze it out!

I've had such a lovely time working with Indiesew for this tour (and in general--those ladies are so great!) so be sure to take a look at all the other participants! Several other ladies have already shared their Lonetree Jackets, if you want more inspo... Sara of The Sara Project made a gorgeous rust-color jacket and Peggy of Sew House Seven made an army green one with fleecy facings! And keep an eye out for even more jackets as the tour continues!


ps: we took these at the occoneechee speedway, a historic nascar track that operated in nascar's first season (1949) and closed in 1968 before being turned into a park and nice walking path in 2003. cars used to go 90 mph around this track!! (wooster only goes about 78 mph, tops.)

allie J.

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