Scout Tee, Once Again

Hi, guys!  Hope you all had a lovely Canada Day and/or 4th of July, if you celebrate!  I spent the long weekend at home, hunched over the sewing machine (OK, OK, maybe I took some breaks for pug snuggles and movie watching).

Here’s one of the products of my weekend sewing.  It’s another Grainline Studio Scout Woven Tee, photographed just in time for the Kollabora Scout Woven Tee Sew-Along deadline!  This wasn’t at the top of my to-sew list, but I love Kollabora (even though they’re basically evil because they bombard me with so much awesome inspiration each day that my to-make list is absurdly long!), I love Wanett (the head honcho of the sew-along), and I’m basically a Grainline addict, so I couldn’t help but join in on the sew-along fun!

I used a length of chambray that was left over from my first sewing project— a super stash-bust!  My plan was to use the sweet birdie fabric that Sew Busy Lizzy sent me for the Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap, but I wanted to try out some modifications on less precious fabric first.  I rounded the hem line a little bit and tried to give it a hi-lo hem, but it’s so slight that you can’t really tell (whoops!).  I also added a pocket (from Jen’s Tiny Pocket Tank pattern) since the chambray is pretty boring on its own.

This isn’t the most exciting top I’ve ever made, but it’s super wearable and will hopefully last a long time (since I French seamed the entire thing so it’s nice and tidy inside).  I’m hoping to make a few more versions of this top in the near future!

What are you guys sewing these days?  Anything exciting?  Who’s made the Scout Tee?  Wanna be my friend on Kollabora?

Ginger Made: The “Oona Made Me Do It” Simone Top!

Friends.  The internet is a dangerous and scary place.  One minute you’re innocently setting up a Twitter account, and the next you’re accepting dares from a madwoman!  BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL.  Gillian‘s #sewingdares spread like wildfire!

Obviously, I’m no sissy, so I immediately agreed to this dare and headed to Mood with Oona and friends!

This is what happened.

photo stolen from oonaballoona

Oona pulled many the bolt of fabric down and wrapped me in colors and prints from head to toe.  It was a difficult decision, but, like the loose cannon she is, Oona decided at the last minute to up the ante and dare me to use TWO prints.  WHAT?  I’m a plain Jane, yo!  I do NOT mix prints!

But.  I’ve been looking for justification to download the super rad and sporty Simone Top from Victory Patterns, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Is it not crazy cute?  I thought its modern lines worked well with these abstract prints, and it felt like a good way to mix patterns.  Plus I just really wanted an excuse to buy it.

Speaking of patterns, let’s talk about the fabric for a minute!  The blue fabric with the larger print is sold in 1-yard panels, which made the yardage perfect for a top rather than a dress.  It’s a stretchy silk blend of some sort.  The gray and orange fabric is silk charmeuse (I used the wrong, less-shiny side).  I had a sudden inspiration to separate these two partners in crime with handmade piping (chartreuse!)– I love the extra pop of color it provides, even if it’s a bit over the top!

I really liked both the main fabric and the contrast, but they were a nightmare to stitch together.  The slippery charmeuse and the stretchy blend slithered and bunched together around the curves of the placket and back yoke– it wasn’t pretty.  I unpicked those seams so many times that I eventually lost count (even though I hand basted all of the seams before machine stitching!!), and it definitely took a toll on the fabric (and my psyche… I cried… SEVERAL TIMES…).  I was ELATED when I finally finished it!

Let’s just pretend that I’m not so pale and slouchy. The back is way cute, though, yeah?

As far as the pattern goes, I took the liberty of raising the armscyes by about 1″ from the get-go since that was an adjustment I needed to make in another of Kristiann’s patterns, but then I trimmed them back unscientifically.  Since my main fabric was stretchy, I skipped the zipper and I can just squeeze into it.  Win!

I think Oona was acting as my spirit animal or something because for some reason I went rogue and totally skipped making a muslin.  I didn’t even check flat pattern measurements!  It strains a little bit at the bust… whoops.  But I can totally live with the fit.  Even though I can’t close the top at the neckline.

What?  I TOLD you I didn’t make a muslin.  Don’t be like that.

This pic is so terrible that it would be wrong to deprive you of seeing it.

So, what do you think of this?  Am I channeling our beloved Oona?  Did I do her fabric choices justice?  Would you let her pick out fabric for you?  Who’s in on a sewing dare?

Ginger Made: Anise Jacket

Here she is– my first make of 2013, and my very first jacket!  I’m so excited to add this little piece to my wardrobe!

This is my January contribution to the Mood Sewing Network.  I went to Mood NYC with every intention of leaving with a bright, saturated fabric, but once I laid eyes on this gorgeous Ralph Lauren wool, I couldn’t put it back!  It’s a twill-weave suiting with lots of drape, and the warm, paprika-red shade is really easy for me to wear.  I picked out a fun silk charmeuse in a Tetris-like print for a contrast lining.

I used Colette Patterns’ Anise jacket pattern, which is perfect for beginners.  I bought the The Anise Companion when it was on sale a while back, and it’s a great confidence booster if you haven’t sewn a jacket before.  There’s quite a bit of helpful information about how to correct various fit issues, but as it’s pretty straightforward to fit, you probably don’t need the companion guide if you’re an intermediate (or beyond) sewist.

Oh, look! There’s a mouse in my pocket!

The whole jacket is underlined with lightweight muslin, which helped to stabilize and secure the fabric (like most twill weaves, this stuff frays like a mother!).  I used Pro-Weft Supreme Medium-Weight Fusible Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply after Gertie recommended it for her coat sew-along.  The interfacing feels like a quality product and didn’t pill, bubble, or come unglued the way that cheaper products sometimes do.

The shoulder pads gave me a bit of trouble.  I used 1/4″ shoulder pads, and I had a great deal of difficulty getting them to lie nicely and not look lumpy and unattractive where they meet the sleeve.  I think this was due to my fabric– since it’s a drapey, lighter-weight wool, the pads were really visible.  I solved the problem (mostly) by drafting sleeve heads out of cotton batting (instructions for how to do this are included in the Anise companion).  The weight of the batting makes the sleeve cap a bit more substantial, so it looks worlds better now.

All buttoned up…

I made a size 4, but cut the shoulders and sleeve caps as a size 2.  If I made this again, I would narrow the sleeves a bit more as they’re a tiny bit baggy (I was worried that they would be too tight once they were lined and I had a shirt on underneath the jacket).  I also added 2″ to the length to keep a cropped, vintage feel but avoid flashing my tramp stamp lower back when I bend over (don’t worry, ma, only kidding!).

The jacket comes together easily, but it’s really time-consuming.  I spent basically every spare evening/weekend moment this month working on it (granted, I’m pretty slow, but still…).  Steps like constructing the welt pockets are explained really clearly, but they do take time to do correctly.  I hand-basted the markings for the buttons and buttonholes, hand-stitched the lining pieces together to avoid slippage when I sewed them, and spent ages pressing and steaming to get everything to look right.  I’m really glad that I took the time to do a good job, but it was really hard to keep other projects and ideas on the back burner while I slogged away at this one for a month.

This jacket is a little dressier than what I usually wear day-to-day, so I just machine-stitched buttonholes and used 1″ faux-tortoise buttons to keep it looking casual.  But I think this would look really cute (and very early ’60’s) with bound buttonholes and covered buttons, maybe even paired with a skirt to make a sweet little suit.

Overall, I’m happy with this jacket and think it looks alright for a first attempt (although it’s definitely not perfect).   The wool suiting is really easy to work with, too.  It presses neatly, is warm but lightweight, and the seams aren’t bulky at all.  I highly recommend the pattern for anyone looking to make their first jacket.  But I can definitely say that I’m looking forward to making a few quick and dirty projects after this one!

What about you guys?  Are you tailoring fiends, or are you working up the nerve to make your first jacket?  Do you like investing time in slow projects, or do you prefer to sew a top in a day?

[Note: If you’re a Mood Sewing Network reader, you may notice that my posts are different there than here on my blog.  I keep my posts pretty brief over on MSN, but I thought that you guys might want to read more details about construction and the pattern.] 

Ginger Made: Renfrew for Mom!

Pardon the photos– it’s just so dang dark these days and nearly impossible to take good pics!

Happy holidays, everyone! Hope you’re enjoying celebrations with dear ones and staying warm (if you’re in the northern hemisphere, that is)! Like some of you, I bet, I swore off handmade presents this year. I’ve spent far too many Christmas Eves feverishly knitting at 2:00am, desperately trying to finish a gift before the morning. Not this year! No handmade gifts, and no stress for me! But when I spotted this gorgeous, heathered wool jersey at Mood, what could I do? It’s my mom’s favorite color, and I knew I could make her a top quickly and easily, so I broke my vow.

This is yet another Renfrew top, a versatile pattern that’s a snap to fit and sew. Since I only needed two yards to make a version with long sleeves and a cowl, this sweater turned out to be a serious bargain and, in my opinion, a lovely gift. Wool jersey and sweater knits are perfect for sewing for others– you don’t have to do much fitting, but the wool adds a luxe quality to the finished object that’s really nice (plus it’s WAY faster than knitting a sweater for your mom… and your dad… and your sister… don’t ask me how I know that!)

So what about you? Did you stay up later than Santa making homemade gifts? What are your favorite handmade gift ideas?  Are you addicted to the Renfrew pattern, too?

Ginger Made: The Wild Side Pencil Skirt

OK, there’s nothing very wild about this skirt, but I really like Lou Reed, so let’s just go with it, OK? First off, a wardrobe confession: this is my first pencil skirt ever!  Not the first one I’ve made, but the first one I’ve worn (or even tried on)!  I love the silhouette on other people, but I worried that it would make me look like a big rectangle since I don’t have much waist definition.  But when I spotted this sweater knit at Mood, I knew it had to be a pencil skirt!

Don’t worry– I had my bangs trimmed after this photo was taken. I KNOW YOU WERE WORRIED.

I didn’t have much time to sew this month, and really didn’t want to tinker with fit and muslins, so I used the skirt portion of my vintage McCall’s 5995 pattern and added a waistband.  Now I know why Carolyn loves TNT patterns so much– it’s such a breeze to jump right into sewing without worrying about fit!  I felt a little dumpy after I put the skirt together, so I pegged it at the hemline (8″ total), and now it feels just right!

I really like this fabric– it’s heavy enough to give me plenty of coverage (no gross bumps, lumps, or panty lines!), but it’s got enough stretch content to make it sleek and figure-hugging.  And I love that it’s a subdued (dare I say sophisticated?) spin on a leopard print.  I wavered a bit about the fabric at the store, but when I put the bolt down, several other shoppers started hovering around it and I nearly had to wrestle it out of another woman’s arms!

The only thing I’m not crazy about is that the thickness of the knit fabric makes it tough for the kick pleat to lie flat.  Any suggestions for this problem?  I suppose I could always go back and cut it out, leaving just a slit, but I do prefer the look of a vent.  Any thoughts?

Super invisible zipper! Invisible zipper foot = best purchase ever.

I realized as I was nearly finished with the skirt that I don’t have a single black top.  Not one!  So I dashed off to Mood at the next available moment and bought some organic jersey to make a quick Renfrew.  The jersey washed up really soft, and it’s one of my most comfortable tees!  I’m sure I’ll be getting lots of use out of it!

How do you guys feel about pencil skirts?  Love ’em?  Hate ’em?  Fearful?  And what about animal prints?  Do they bring out your inner “meeeeeyooooow”, or do you think they should be reserved only for Real Housewives of Wherever?

I’m pretty sure I’m hooked on pencil skirts now!  I can’t wait to make a Charlotte skirt!  Are any of you guys joining in on the sewalong?

Ginger Made: Rie Dress

PEOPLE.  Don’t get too excited, now!  Yes, I sewed one of Megan Nielsen‘s delightful maternity patterns, the Rie dress, but it’s NOT FOR ME.  No mini-Gingers on the way!  It’s for my younger sister, who’s due in January.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

I made this a few months back but haven’t had a chance to blog about it yet.  This is the fastest garment that I’ve completed to date– I sewed it up in just a few hours!  I’ve never done anything so quickly before!  The dress was so easy to assemble, and it’s a very cute style.  I would actually almost wear this myself, belted for a little waist definition.  I used a super-cute medium-weight cotton jersey from Girl Charlee (Andrea also used this fabric for a sweet dress)!

I highly recommend this pattern!  It requires very little fitting, so it would make a great gift for a friend who’s expecting, and it’s a nice wardrobe basic that can be dressed up or down.  Like all of Megan’s patterns, it’s really, really easy to put together, and there are several variations suggested in the pattern booklet so you can make multiple unique garments with one pattern.

Here’s a little snapshot my dad took of my sister wearing the dress.

Notice anything funny about the dress in the full-length shot?  I used the blue stripe to line up the pieces so my stripes would match, BUT… I cut one piece, then must have flipped the other piece upside-down on the fabric before cutting, so the stripes run in reverse order on one side and only the blue stripes match up!  Whoops!  What a dumb mistake!

What are your favorite gifts for expectant mothers?  For those of you who are pregnant or have been, what were your favorite things to wear during that time?

Ginger Made: Vogue V8511, or The Slightly-Late Dirty Thirty Dress

I'm finally done!!!!!

Finally done!!!!!

I’m finally done with my birthday dress!  “Wait,” you’re saying, “wasn’t your birthday, like, ages ago?”  Well, yes, but Hurricane Sandy + birthday weekend away + Thanksgiving + numerous silly and annoying setbacks with the dress = here’s my birthday dress, now!  Let’s just say I’m continuing the celebration for the whole year!  (And, now that I’m thinking about it, I jacked up my knee right before my b-day, so this dress would’ve looked pretty silly accessorized with a knee brace).

I went to Mood thinking about color– I had just switched over my seasonal wardrobe, tucking away my bright, pretty sundresses and replacing them with gray and navy sweaters.  I’m not sure why I gravitate towards dark, drab colors in the winter, but I decided that I wanted a bold color for my birthday dress.  I was instantly drawn to this silk– it’s an attention-grabber and an instant mood-lifter!

My plan was to use Simplicity 1873, which I had hoped to make once before but didn’t have enough fabric.  I thought I was in the clear this time around, but I was foiled again!  I didn’t notice that my lining fabric was a little shy of 45″, and I couldn’t quite squeeze out the dress.  Unfortunately I had already started cutting out the main fabric, but I dug up Vogue V8511, an out-of-print Very Easy Vogue pattern and was able to cut out the dress very carefully using the pieces that I had already cut.  (This is one of those patterns with a lame-o envelope, but once I saw the adorable versions of this dress that Neeno and Shivani made, I had to have my own!)

The pattern came together quite easily.  I tinkered with the bodice fit a bit, but the skirt is unaltered.  The dress is fully-lined with a lightweight silk, and I realized that the dress was going to be floppy and sheer even with the lining, so I went back, seam-ripped, and underlined the whole thing with silk organza.  I love the effect of underlining– the organza gives the dress body without adding much weight.  The skirt in particular looks worlds better now!

To be honest, I had so many silly issues with this dress (like the miles of seam-ripping and hand-stitching I had to do to underline the dress) and I was so disappointed that I had to abandon my original plan that I sort of hated the dress the entire time I was working on it.  I kind of figured that this would hang unworn in the back of my closet for years, but when I installed the zipper and tried on the fully-assembled dress for the first time, I couldn’t believe how much I loved it!  I love the shape of the skirt– it’s so fun, but not over-the-top.  I also love that there’s the merest hint of a sleeve, which is really flattering and sweet.  And the hem rises up just the tiniest bit at the front to show a peek of knee, which is a longer length than I usually wear, but it works in this dress.

If I make this pattern again, I would draft a back vent or kick-pleat.  The slit is fine, but a kick-pleat is much more hard-wearing and elegant.  After looking over these photos a bit more, I’m realizing that I didn’t get the bodice to fit as perfectly as I’d like to have.  But I can live with it and I love having a colorful new dress in my wardrobe!

How about you guys?  Do you find yourself bored with bland, dark colors in the colder months?  Or do you rock the classic black-on-black NYC winter look and love it?  I’m plotting ways to add pops of color to my darker outfits (I’m thinking I could wear this dress with a navy boyfriend blazer, gray boots, and chunky, bright jewelry… what do you think?).  Just look how exciting navy looks paired with bright tones!

All three of these are silks available at!

Silks from Mood

What are your favorite ways to wear colors in the winter?

Ginger Made: Banksia Top

Hi, guys!  It’s getting COLD out, people– the puggies and I were freezing when we took our walk this morning!  Luckily, I finished this top just in time for chilly weather.  It’s Megan Nielsen’s Banksia Top, and it’s a pattern I’ve been wanting to make for a long time.  When Megan announced the sewalong, I jumped at the chance!

Isn’t my neighborhood lovely? Sigh…

I wanted to make this really feminine top a little more my style, so I used an inexpensive buffalo check flannel from A.K. Fabrics in the Garment District.  I love flannel– it reminds me of my grandfather, plus it’s so cuddly and soft that I feel like I’m wearing pajamas at work!  The fabric had a few downsides, though– I started noticing flaws in it as I was cutting things out, plus any time I had to use the seam ripper, small holes developed in the fabric.  Yikes!

Look, I’m turning my patented outside-photography-in-the-cold shade of purple!

I love this collar paired with the lowered neckline– it makes the top a little more grownup-looking, but still cute.  I used vintage buttons from Etsy, and decided to do 4 buttonholes instead of 3.  I made a size XS with a 1/2″ FBA, and next time I’ll give myself a smidge more room through the mid-back and armscyes (yeah, yeah, I made a muslin, but for some reason I didn’t put the sleeves on… d’oh!).

I’m always standing some crazy way that makes my clothes hang goofy. What’s up with that?

The pattern is really simple to put together and the directions are really clear.  I had a little trouble lining up the placket exactly using the 2nd method, but that’s just because I’m clumsy.  Like several other people, I had to extend the collar to get it to meet the placket in the middle.  I was careful to staystitch the neckline, so I’m pretty sure that it didn’t stretch out.  Not the end of the world or anything, though.  It really is a unique pattern and looks cute on everyone that makes it– try it if you haven’t already!

What have you guys been up to lately?  I’m sorry for my lack of commenting on your blogs and posting on my own– the internet is still down in my neighborhood.  😦  Luckily, I’ve had cell service, so I can at least keep up with everybody on Instagram and Facebook– NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL.  Hopefully you’re all well!

P.S.  Did you see that Stephanie from makes the things opened up an Etsy shop?  Check it out– she’s got some cool pieces!

Ginger Made: Sister Kniturday!

First of all, I hope that all of you guys in the eastern U.S. survived Hurricane Sandy without any damage or harm.  We’re just fine– some damage to our neighborhood, but none to our house or car, and our power (and more importantly, cable!) stayed on the whole time (just not the internet at home, so I’m a bit behind on my blogroll).  I feel so grateful and blessed, and my thoughts are with the folks who weren’t so lucky (and the millions of people who still don’t have power and probably won’t for several days).  And thank you so much to everyone who emailed to check in and make sure we were OK– that really meant the world to me.  THANK YOU!

I spent this weekend, before the hurricane struck (gosh, it feels like a month ago!), with my sister, who came up from Baltimore.  She has recently started sewing garments, in no small part due to my heavy peer pressure gentle encouragement, and has been really interested in, but afraid of, sewing with knits.  So I was pretty excited to sit down with her this weekend and have a little jersey sewing bootcamp (a Sister Kniturday, if you will)!

I thought that Cindy’s Dolman Sleeve Top pattern would be a nice pattern to start with, since you don’t need to set in any sleeves (AND IT’S A FREE DOWNLOAD, PEOPLE!).  I made a version first to test the fit on my sister and give her a chance to see how it goes together before cutting into her own fabric.  I used an organic bamboo/rayon knit that I picked up at Mood about a year ago with a Renfrew top in mind, but had set aside thinking it was too slinky and stretchy.

And hey, look, it IS too slinky and stretchy!  It was OK to sew with, but it’s so very drapey that anything you’re wearing underneath the top is outlined clearly.  Hello, bra!  Definitely didn’t realize how bad it was until I looked at these photos– I should wear a tank top underneath!  But hey, stash-bustin’ feels good even if the results aren’t picture-perfect, amirite?

Damage on the block courtesy of Hurricane Sandy… (sidenote: do you like my giant phone case?  safety first!)

The shirt is really comfy and easy to wear, so that’s a plus, and the pattern is BEYOND simple to put together (AND DID I MENTION IT’S A FREE DOWNLOAD?!?!  Thanks, Cindy!!!!!).  I flew through it!  I also really like the green color– it’s slightly more vibrant than a hunter green without veering into primary color territory (which is only OK if you’re dressed up like a crayon for Halloween).  [EDIT: I forgot to mention that I lengthened the sleeves by 6″, so yours will be much shorter if you make it without alterations.  I also found it a bit too long, and the band a bit wider than I liked, so I just serged the waistband seam at 5/8″ a second time and it was the perfect length.  My sister has a longer torso than I do, so we kept hers the original length.]

My sister made a version in a cotton jersey blend (also from Mood, picked out Saturday in what can only be described as a merciless raid on the Garment District).  Doesn’t it look cute on her?

Isn’t she cuuuuuute?

It’s kind of a perfect top for her– dressier than a tee, but still really easy to wear, perfect for her job as an elementary school teacher.  You have to be comfortable when you chase little kids around all day!

A side effect of a sister Kniturday is that now my sis reallllly wants a serger!  A second side effect is that now I wish (even more than usual!) that she lived in NYC so we could hole up like a couple of nerds and sew away every weekend!  😦  Well, Baltimore isn’t THAT far away, but we are popular, busy, lazy people who don’t get it together to see each other often enough.  But now that’s she succumbed to the siren song of my little Brother, I bet she’ll be tempted to Bolt Bus her way to NYC more often!

Side effect of dolman tees: instant mega-biceps! Raaaaawwwwwrrrr!

Ginger Made: Colette Hazel Dress

Hi, guys!  I’m really excited about finishing the first dress for the Sew Colette 2.0 sewalong!  Hooray!  It’s just so fun to make something alongside lots of other fun ‘n’ fancy gals!  I’m really excited to see your dresses!

OK, are you ready?  Here’s my Hazel dress!

First things first, a huge thank-you to my sister for surprising me with this pattern!  Ain’t no pattern like a free pattern, AMIRITE??  Thanks, B!

In keeping with the whole cash-efficient theme of this dress, I opted to stash-bust and used this cream/slightly peach cotton shirting that I bought from Mood last summer.  It’s really sheer, so I underlined the entire thing with cotton batiste (also in my stash!).  I thought this fabric was so sweet when I bought it, and I still really like it, but from a distance, it looks exactly like muslin!  Whoooooops!  It’s got a subtle stripe to it that’s really pretty up close… you’ll just have to trust me on that!

Thank goodness for pockets… I’m like Ricky Bobby– I don’t know what to do with my hands in photos!

This dress came together so quickly and easily!  I kinda couldn’t believe it… there’s usually SOMETHING for me to fight with!  I made a straight size 2, and it just about fit perfectly right outta the gate.  I really liked the unhemmed length, so I added 5/8″.  The bust darts were too long, so I shortened them, but then they stuck out like crazy, so I returned them to just about the original length.  Too long is better than crazy pointy, right?

See? I told you it was striped! You should have believed me.

The bodice fit PERFECTLY when I made the muslin, but after I wore it for a while, I decided that I wanted a tad more ease.  Look– it’s hot, it’s sticky, and I don’t really need a sundress clinging to my sweaty stomach.  So it’s a little more loosey-goosey (and a little frumpier, to be honest) now, but I can deal with that.  We’re all about comfort right now, folks.

I played around with lace trim and little buttons down the front, both of which were cute,  but in the end I opted to keep this really simple and unadorned.  It’s probably kinda boring this way, but it just seemed cooler and breezier without any added trims or doodads.  I pinned on a felt hair clip from Gertie in Roses today, and that was just the ticket to jazz it up a little.  I’m looking forward to trying out new accessory combinations with it!

Next up, the Macaron dress!  I’m looking forward to making this– I’ve had the pattern in my stash for a while, and I’m excited to prioritize it!  If you haven’t been following along with Sew Colette 2.0, now’s a great time to join in on the fun!  Anyone out there making the Macaron?  Have you chosen your fabric yet?