Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag

Hi, guys! I hope you are all well! Today I want to show you my cute new bag! Sprout Patterns approached me to see if I would try out their service and blog about the experience*. Sprout Patterns is an offshoot of Spoonflower, the site where you can choose custom designs uploaded by users or your own designs, and have them printed on fabric. Sprout partners with indie sewing pattern designers; like with Spoonflower, you can select or design your own prints, but you also select a sewing pattern and the pattern pieces are printed directly onto the fabric.

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

The Details

Pattern: Grainline Studio Portside Duffle (here‘s where you can make your own on Sprout)

Fabric: Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra

Prints: Sleepy Fox and Cactus Coral, both by kimsa

Lining: Mountains (Black) from the Adventure Awaits collection by Dear Stella from Fancy Tiger Crafts

Bag Hardware: D-rings, swivel bolt hooks, and cotton webbing from Pacific Trimming. Zipper from SIL Thread.

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

My original plan was to use my own designs, since I had developed a small portfolio for last semester’s print design class. But I found that I couldn’t stop obsessing over my own prints, changing the colors and the scale, and I just didn’t have time to be fussy, so I picked out two really fun prints from the Sprout library and forced myself to commit and move on so I could get back to homework. 🙂

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

So, the cool thing about Sprout is that you don’t have to mess around with paper patterns, pinning, or tracing before you cut things out- you can just cut right into the fabric and you’re good to go! The obvious downside to this is that you can’t go crazy with fit alterations because the pattern pieces are printed on the fabric. Along these lines, if you’re between sizes or a different size on top than on bottom, you can’t really do anything about that. So choosing projects that have a forgiving fit is one way to deal with this, or or you can choose a project from a pattern company with sizing that fits you pretty well right out of the envelope. I didn’t want to stress about sizing, so I decided to make a bag- that’s one way to solve that problem!

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

The process is pretty simple. You choose a pattern/project, and then you can select prints that you like or upload your own. You can move the prints around on the pattern pieces to center motifs that you like, and you can pick coordinating prints or solids, if you choose. Next, you select your preferred substrate from a list of options that are appropriate for your project. Each pattern piece is labeled, with notches marked and seam allowances added. Once you place the order, you receive the PDF of the pattern via email, and the printed fabric ships out a few days later. You provide your own notions, interfacing, and in this case, lining.

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

I selected Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra as I wanted to use natural fibers so I could press the seams easily and I’d heard that the Heavy Cotton Twill wasn’t going to be available for much longer and I didn’t want to use something that might not be around by the time I finished my project. Unfortunately, this was not the right choice! It’s way too light for a bag, so I had to underline it with some leftover canvas that I had kicking around from an upholstery project. I also interfaced each piece, as per the pattern instructions.

Even though notches are marked on the fabric, other markings aren’t included (they can’t be printed on, or they’d be visible), so unfortunately, I had to print and assemble the (included) PDF pattern so I would know where to place all the webbing. I would have rather just had instructions to measure 4″ from the side seam or whatever so I didn’t have to deal with all that paper waste. Unfortunately, by the time I’d dealt with underlining the fabric and assembling the PDF, this felt just like any other sewing project… all of the ease of cutting straight into the fashion fabric was erased.

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

The thing that I found super irksome was that the instructions called for prewashing the fabric, which I did, but the fabric shrank quite a bit (I can’t remember the temperature that I washed it at, but I guess I should have just line dried the fabric instead of tumbling it?). Unfortunately, the print layout on the fabric had the upper side piece printed on the grain and the lower printed on the crossgrain, and they shrank at different ratios, so when I went to sew them together, the lower side was 1″ shorter at the seamline. This turned into a real headache as I went along- the pockets don’t match up with the end panels because they were placed different directions on the grain, and the lining, which was cut from the same pattern pieces as the shell, but with pre-shrunk fabric, was considerably bigger than the outer bag. It’s not the end of the world with a bag, but I’m not certain how this would play out if you were making a garment.

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

The pattern itself was very straightforward to put together, and was quite fun for me. I’ve never really made a bag before, so it was cool to see how that worked. The instructions were clear and the resulting bag is super usable. I followed the instructions to a T; the only change I made was to sub out the printed bottom piece for a bit of waxed canvas I had kicking around. This seemed like it would wear better over the long run than the linen/cotton fabric… I’m pretty hard on bags, historically!

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

The cost seemed pretty reasonable to me for the bag- the project was complimentary to me, but it would have cost $44 in the fabric that I chose. Since the bag pattern, included when you buy the project, would cost you $14 to purchase yourself, paying $30 for custom-printed fabric doesn’t seem too terribly steep to me. Yes, it’s more than you would probably pay if you grabbed a couple of yards of fabric at the store, but for something special that’s printed to your specifications, that doesn’t seem too high. The overall cost of the bag gets a little steeper when you factor in the cost of lining, webbing, zippers, and bag hardware. I recommend shopping around a bit for these things- they really varied in price at different spots in the Garment District!

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

Overall, I’m really happy with the finished bag. I think if I used Sprout again in the future I would be careful with laundering as that could really change your experience, but otherwise, it’s a very user-friendly service that was a fun change of pace from my usual sewing projects. I really enjoyed making a bag, too, and would definitely recommend this pattern for gift sewing. I could see myself making a few more bags for friends and family members!

Sprout Patterns x Portside Duffel Bag | Ginger Makes

Plenty of room for all your pug’s accessories!

Alright, have you guys used Spoonflower, Sprout Patterns, or any other custom fabric service? What were your experiences like?

*I received this Sprout project free of charge. I paid for the lining/notions/hardware/etc myself and did not receive any additional compensation for the post. All opinions my own. 🙂

Grainline Cascade Duffle, aka the Coat of My Dreams!

Ummmm, if you’re been around this blog at all before, you probably know that I loooooove coats. I love making them, I love wearing them, I love thinking about them! So it’s a little embarrassing to tell you that this coat has been in the works for nearly two years! Whoops! I took advantage of the break between the fall and spring semesters to dig out this UFO and sew it up, and wow, I’m so pumped that I did! It’s been a soul-crushing month/year/you name it, so it was nice to have a project to force myself to work on instead of obsessively reading news all day every day.

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


This is the Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat, view B. I snapped up the pattern as soon as it was released, but this was in late winter 2015 and I tucked it away, planning to make it in the fall when it was seasonally-appropriate to make it and wear it right away. Last January I got motivated to start this coat, so I steamed the fabric, cut out all the pieces, fused everything, and then… got distracted by a big costuming project with a looming deadline (also a coat! at least it was on theme!) and stuffed it into my cedar chest, where it sat for ages, until I had to pack it up to move. I finally pulled it out a few weeks ago, nearly a year after I’d cut everything out!

A note to PDF users: this might not be super fun for you. Uncharacteristically, I bought a hard copy of the pattern- I just couldn’t face the thought of printing and taping that many sheets of paper! I was so glad I did, because life is just too short to spend it all putting together a pattern orrrrr tracing (I admit it- I was saucy and cut the pattern out without tracing… I REALLLLLLY hate tracing).

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


The fabric I used is a wool coating from Mood Fabrics NYC that I bought ages ago, intending to use it to make the Named Yona Wrap Coat. I stalled on that project when I couldn’t think of a way to match the stripes nicely across a two-piece raglan sleeve. When the Cascade pattern was released, I was so pumped that I hadn’t used this fabric for anything else! I really love the combination of colors in this coat- navy, camel, cream, and grey. I can wear it with so many different things in my closet!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

I used this sunback lining from B&J Fabrics (I’m pretty certain it’s this exact one, although I bought it in store instead of online). Sunback is sometimes called “kasha”; it’s a flannel-backed satin, so it’s smooth and slippery like lining fabric on one side, and has a brushed nap on the other. This particular type is 51% acetate and 49% cotton. I’m partial to it for coats as it adds some extra warmth.

For me, personally, sunback isn’t enough for a winter coat, so I also interlined it using lambswool from Steinlauf & Stoller. I just used a single layer (it’s sold in a sort of double layer, so you could easily cut out double layers if you were so inclined). Steinlauf & Stoller doesn’t sell online, but you can call them and order over the phone if you can’t find lambswool locally.

I used my usual coat interfacing, Pro-Weft Supreme Medium-Weight from Fashion Sewing Supply.

For the coat trimmings, I used a YKK separating zipper from my favorite zipper source in the Garment District, SIL Thread. I bought toggles from Pacific Trimming. The pattern includes templates if you want to cut your own leather/faux leather and make toggles yourself, but that wasn’t something I wanted to get involved with at all! For the zipper bands, I used one of my favorite Japanese cottons from my shop for a little peep of print whenever my coat is open. And I lined my pockets with bits of flannel leftover from one of my favorite Archer buttondowns. 🙂

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


I cut out a size 4, which is my usual Grainline size (my hips fall into a smaller size on their chart, but I don’t mind some extra wearing ease for a coat). I didn’t want to make a muslin, since it’s kind of pointless to do that unless you’ve got a heavier-weight fabric that’s similar to coating. Instead, I just measured the flat pattern pieces and compared those measurements to another coat in my closet. I was under the impression that I’d done my usual 1/2″ narrow shoulder adjustment, buuuut, upon further review, I didn’t. That’s one drawback to sewing up a project a year after cutting it out- you can have a little confusion! 😀 My only sizing adjustment was to lengthen the sleeves by 1/2″. It probably wasn’t necessary, but too-short sleeves drive me CRAZY, so it seemed like the right thing to do.

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


I needed to make some pattern alterations to be able to use this wide stripe efficiently. The original pattern has a yoke and a low waist seam, but I combined these three pattern pieces so that I could cut out the coat back and fronts as just one piece. It would have been a real pain in the neck to try to balance the stripes across three pattern pieces, and it would have sucked up way too much fabric. I cheated a bit and cut the center hood piece on the cross grain so that it’s just solid grey- I didn’t want to have too much stripe chaos going on back there!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

Another modification I made was to draft new pockets. I really don’t like standard patch pockets! I put them on my first Gerard coat, as the pattern instructed, but they’re annoying to put your hands into and I really use my pockets since I have a pretty long walk to and from the subway. My original thought was to swap the patch pockets out for welt pockets, but when I started to look at images of duffle coats for inspiration, they ALL had patch pockets. I thought the coat might look kind of naked or weird with welt pockets, so I took inspiration from the kangaroo pockets that you usually see on hooded sweatshirts and drafted something similar to those, with a triangular angle to it to slightly mimic the toggles that I used. I’m really happy with the final pockets! They’re really comfortable to use, they’re super warm, since they’re flannel-lined, and they have room to jam in a pair of fingerless gloves, keys, and my phone. I’m not gonna lie, though, it was a total brain-bender to figure out how to draft a pocket piece with a self-facing, and a complementing lining piece! My brain just doesn’t work that way, so I had to mock up pieces with paper and fold them until I could figure out how to do it.

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

The final change I made to the pattern was the position of the pockets. They are meant to sit lower down, about 1/3 on the cream stripe and 2/3 on the bottom navy stripe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut the pockets that way and match the stripes. Not matching wasn’t an option, so instead I opted to position them higher and honestly, it doesn’t feel weird to have them sit higher. It feels comfortable, so it’s all good!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

Tips & Techniques:

As I mentioned briefly above, I interlined the coat with lambswool. I referenced my favorite tailoring book, The Complete Book of Tailoring, (Amazon, but not an affiliate link) by everyone’s favorite sassy seamstress, Adele P. Margolis. If you’re into classic tailoring, I definitely recommend this book- it’s out of print, but you can pick up used copies for less than $20. I followed her directions for inserting each piece individually by hand and catch-stitching it to the very edge of the pressed seam allowance, which makes for about the least-bulky results imaginable. It was slow, but totally worth it in the end. I used the garment pattern pieces to cut out the coat front and back, and I also cut out the upper sleeve, but after basting it in, I thought it would make my sleeves too constricting. Word of warning: the sleeves aren’t for the bicep-fabulous! They’re pretty slim-fitting, which actually looks really nice with the roomy silhouette of the coat, but if you know your way around the gym, you probably want to give yourself some extra room.

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

The thing I dreaded the most about making this coat was stitching on the toggles. I really, really, really didn’t want to do it! It stressed me out to think about not being able to seam rip them if they didn’t go on straight. I bought an extra one, which Jen recommends, to do a dry run before sewing one on the actual coat, and I noticed that the foot sort of stuck to the exposed parts of the toggle. Jen mentioned that some people put scotch tape on their sewing feet, but she didn’t do that because she didn’t want to leave any residue. So I decided to just put tape on the toggle itself, over every area that the presser foot would touch, which worked a charm. I used my 1/8″ edgestitching foot, a leather needle, and upholstery thread (bought from Pacific Trimming… it’s not as thick or stiff as the thread we buy at my upholstery job). My stitching is really ugly and I’m definitely not going to show you a closeup, but I’ve just vowed not to look too closely at the toggles so that it won’t bug me too much. 🙂

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

The pattern instructions for the bagged lining don’t tell you to hem the coat, but I went ahead and did a blind hem by hand for added structure and stability.

Final Thoughts:

I’m super, super happy with this coat, and I’ve worn it every day since I finished it a week or so ago! It’s such a nice, classic style, and I’m really excited to wear it for years to come! I would recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to tackle a coat, and if you get stumped by the written instructions, you can always reference the photos in the sewalong hosted on the Grainline blog. I probably can’t make any more coats at this point, since my closet is fairly well stuffed with them, but this actually fills the hole left by my old peacoat, which was the perfect thing to wear in between jacket and parka weather. And I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to turn a UFO into a garment! I felt so productive getting this out of a bag and into my closet!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


In case you’re curious, the hat I’m wearing in these pics is my favorite cold weather hat, the Fidra pattern by Gudrun Johnston. It’s knit up in bulky Brooklyn Tweed Quarry (colorway: Lazulite), so it’s both a fast knit and really warm for bitter days. I made it about a year ago, and I’m still loving it!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

OK, friends, what have you been making these days? Anybody obsessed with coat making? Planning your first attempt at one? Do tell! As for me, it’s back to school now, so this is probably my last big/fun project for some time! Boooooo! 😦

A Summer Linden Sweatshirt!

Hi, guys! Hope your weeks are going well! I’m back again after my interview with O! Jolly! to show you the sweatshirt I made with her locally-produced sweater knits! Check it out!

Olgalyn asked me if I would like some yardage from her new collection to review, and of course I said yes! I’d already been planning to save up for some, and after sewing with this, I’m saving my pennies for some of the color-grown cotton!

Grainline Studio Linden in O! Jolly! sweater knit | Ginger Makes

I chose the New Hudson knit, a natural white jersey (in other words, it’s unbleached and undyed) in 100% cotton. She also sent me the Magical Unicorn of the sewing world, MATCHING RIBBING! I’ve made so many cut and sew sweaters before (I think this is my 7th raglan in the last year?! They weren’t all for me, though!), but I’ve never had matching ribbing- I’ve always had to cut the cuffs and bands out of self-fabric. So this was a fun and new experience!

Fun fact: I totally screwed up my ribbing application and nearly ruined the entire sweater. See, here’s the thing- the ribbing is very stretchy, so when I cut the bands using the pattern pieces, they were too long, and the sweater neckline (and waist… and sleeves) stretched out terribly. Also, I’d forgotten to change the differential feed on my serger to the knits settings, so that also made the seams wavy and stretched. Yuck! The sweater looked like it had escaped from Flash Dance! Yikes! I was so stressed out thinking about fixing it that I set the project aside for a couple of weeks until I had calmed down completely.

Olgalyn suggested using a gathering stitch to bring the neckline back to its proper size, and then steaming to set it. This worked really well! I carefully unpicked the neckband and measured the pattern pieces to make sure I would return it back to the right circumference, then I gathered and steamed away. I just cut off the cuffs and hem bands and reapplied them… I wasn’t concerned about losing that tiny bit of length.

Grainline Studio Linden in O! Jolly! knit | Ginger Makes

The Easiest and Smartest Way to Apply Neckbands/Hem Bands/Cuffs:

You know how sometimes your neckbands are too long and stand away from your neck, or they’re too short and they pull? I know some people set them in flat, just stretching them the amount that feels right, but that’s just not my cup of tea. Olgalyn told me a new and mind-blowing way to make sure that they sit correctly. You measure the neck (or hem/sleeve) opening, then stretch your ribbing until it reaches that length. Then you add the seam allowance to the stretched length and cut that as your band. So, say your neck opening is 25″. Let’s say 18″ of your ribbing fabric stretches comfortably to 25″. You add your 1/4″ seam allowance to the 18″, and you cut a piece that’s 18.5″ long. Then you just sew the neckband seam, steam it back into shape, and sew it onto your neckline. This is SO much easier than any other method I’ve ever tried! Thanks, Olgalyn! She told me she read about this technique on another blog, but couldn’t remember where, so thank you to whomever originally posted this! 🙂 EDIT: this tip came from Sewing with Knits by Connie Long. Olgalyn highly recommends it! I haven’t read it, but if it’s as thorough as her book, Easy Guide to Sewing Linings, it’s probably great!

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt in O! Jolly! knit | Ginger Makes

OK, let’s talk about handling the fabric. I washed and dried it at the laundromat before I sewed anything… I felt a little naughty doing this, but Olgalyn said it was OK and it seemed smart to make sure any shrinkage happened before sewing. It was good as new when I pulled it out of the dryer! The cut edges do want to fray a bit, unlike your standard jerseys, so you’ll need to finish the edges. I serged mine, but I’m sure a zigzag would work, too. One thing to keep in mind is that this is 100% cotton, so the stretch is mechanical (comes from how it’s knitted) rather than from added spandex content or something like that. So a relaxed sweater works great, but probably not a bodycon dress.

I really love this fabric and I’m so glad that it’s such a nice alternative to traditionally-produced fabrics. Like I mentioned in Olgalyn’s interview, the knits are made with organic, GMO-free cotton that’s grown, ginned, spun, and knitted in the U.S., and they’re made without dyes or bleach. So the knits aren’t cheap. But when compared to the cost and time required to knit a similar sweater by hand, it’s worth it to splurge from time to time. Also, the thought of hand knitting a sweater in cotton yarn this fine makes me shudder… this is the kind of garment I would want to wear, but not knit myself!

Grainline Studio Linden in O! Jolly! knit | Ginger Makes

Oh, the pattern is the Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt, which I’ve made four times previously, so I won’t remark on it too much. I think it’s time to put aside this pattern and my beloved Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood… I’ve got plenty of raglan sweatshirts on hand, which is good because they’re my favorite thing to wear in cool weather!

What have you guys been working on lately? And does anyone have any sources for better-for-the-earth textiles? I’d love to hear, if you do!

Grainline Morris Blazer x2!

Hi, guys! I hope you’re all well. Before we start talking sewing, I just want to take a moment to say that if you’re reading from Baltimore or Nepal, you’re in my thoughts and prayers. The firsthand updates from my sister in Baltimore and a childhood friend in Nepal have been so heartbreaking. Praying for healing, restoration, and safety for everyone!

OK, let’s talk about the Morris blazer. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of this pattern for ages! In fact, I’ve had a piece of ikat linen stashed away for it for something like two years! So I was surprised to find out that it was designed for stretch wovens or stable knits… pleasantly surprised! I had a RTW double-breasted blazer in French terry that I wore until it was dead, and never found a replacement. I frequently wear my woven blazers, but it’s nice to have something even easier to wear for situations where you’ll be running around or taking your jacket on and off.

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

So, for April’s Mood Sewing Network project*, I ran to Mood with 15 minutes to spare before my evening class (NOT RECOMMENDED!) and raced straight up to the neoprene section. I’d planned to look for a fun print, but this color jumped out at me and I had to have it! As I had the fabric cut, another shopper spotted it and hovered, waiting to grab the bolt as soon as I was done with it. The color is that good!

Now, neoprene is one of those fabric fads that seem to pop up from time to time. All of a sudden it’s everywhere! I’ve been curious about it for a while, but I’ve mostly seen it used for bodycon dresses or pencil skirts and that’s just not my cup of tea (this particular fabric was labeled as Alexander Wang, and I’m pretty sure it’s what he used for this dress). But I thought it would be a fun experiment to try a nontraditional fabric for a blazer and thought it might work for the Morris since it’s such a streamlined design.

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

Before I sew with a new fabric type, I like to stitch samples to make sure I’m making good decisions before I start in on my garment. I had best results using my walking foot, a 75/11 ballpoint needle, and a regular straight stitch. Since the fabric is pretty thick, I had to lengthen my stitches a bit to get them to a normal size. I found that the fabric layers slipped a bit as I sewed, so I had to sew slowly and use lots of pins. I tested out binding the seams, but in the end decided to reduce bulk by just leaving them unfinished. As you can see, the lapels have tons of body in a fabric like this, which I like, but if I changed my mind, I could tack them down to the jacket front with a couple of teeny stitches.

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

I interfaced the facing pieces with Pro-Tricot Deluxe Fusible from Fashion Sewing Supply (don’t worry- I fused a sample piece first to make sure nothing would melt!). But pressing is pointless on neoprene, so I topstitched the seam allowances down. I actually love how this looks- it gives the jacket a sporty feel. And when I needed to turn under the seam allowances of the facings, I machine stitched on the fold line so the perforations would help me make a crisp fold. The only place I ran into trouble was at the sleeve head. There’s no way to topstitch that seam, so I opted to catch stitch the seam allowances down. You can see slight indentations from the stitches on the right side, like a blind hem, but that looks much better than a mushy seam! Speaking of the sleeves, I got to do my favorite sleeve trick, which is hemming them before I set them in. It’s so much easier to navigate those little sleeve openings when you’re not wrestling the entire jacket out of the way!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

Let’s talk about the pattern. It goes together quickly, which was so fun and satisfying compared to the sloooooooow tailoring projects that have been taking up most of my sewing time lately. It’s unlined and there aren’t any pockets,which was great for a keeping the bulk down. I did notice that the facing isn’t smooth where it meets the front hemline, like Lizzy mentioned. This goes away when the collar is flipped up, so I think the lapel rolling over in heavy, slick fabric makes the front sag a bit. I will probably go back and catch stitch the facings in place (or maybe even topstitch them!). Easy fix!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

Otherwise everything went together smoothly and I didn’t have any issues. I made a 4, my usual Grainline size. I could stand to do a small narrow shoulder adjustment (I usually should, but I’m lazy and often just skip it), but otherwise everything fits well. The stretch of the neoprene is really pretty awesome- I had so much fun stretching my arms out to see how unrestricted my movement was in a stretchy blazer! I could totally throw a haymaker in this thing without popping a seam! Good to know that my outfit won’t get messed up if I get caught up in a street fight on my way to an important meeting!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

I was so pumped up after making this that I immediately cut out another! Anybody recognize this fabric? It’s leftover from my Lola dress two years ago! I’d hoped to turn it into a knit Victoria blazer, but was never confident about choosing a lining or dealing with the lapels in a knit. But the fabric was perfect for another Morris! Stash-busting win!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

Now I’ve got a pile of fabric stacked up on my cutting table, just crying out to be blazers! I may be making nothing but Morrises for the next little while!!!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

How about you guys? Tempted to try this pattern? What kind of fabric would you use? And have you tried using neoprene? Any fabric fads you’re excited to try? Any you’re avoiding like the plague? Do tell!!!

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. 🙂

Wool + Pleather Linden Minidress!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all well and sewing up a storm! OK, question: do you have seasonal color palettes? I know I do! Sometimes I feel like my closet is split between two different people- winter me and summer me! In warm weather, I’m all about bright colors and fun prints, but in the winter, I wear much more subdued colors, like heathered browns, navy, or, my very favorite, greys. My cold weather clothing drawer is almost entirely grey! The unexpected benefit of this is that I have a really, really easy time getting dressed in the winter- my separates all mix and match, and for once in my life, even my boots, tights, hat, and scarf get along with the rest of what I’m wearing, yay!

Grainline Studio Linden Minidress | Ginger Makes

So, for February’s Mood Sewing Network project*, I decided to give one last hurrah to Lady Grey and choose this delicious wool blend sweater knit. Guys. It’s SO thick and warm, but it’s amazingly lightweight. It’s a nice firm knit, so I don’t have to worry about it being too sheer or bagging out, but the wrong side has tons of loft so it’s really incredibly comfortable in cold weather. I planned to look for a bit of pleather in black for a bit of contrast, but I found this beautiful grey Rag & Bone pleather in the vinyl section on the third floor and couldn’t resist it. I really like that the contrast comes from the textures rather than color- it’s subtle, but fun.

Grainline Studio Linden Minidress | Ginger Makes

The pattern I used is the Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt. This is actually the fourth Linden I’ve made this month, but I haven’t blogged any of the others. I made one for my #LindenSwap partner, another for my bestie, then one for me. So, this pattern was on my mind and I decided to just go for it. In Grainline sizing, my hips are two sizes smaller than my bust, so I just chose the size based on my bust measurement and dropped the hem by 9″ to give me this minidress length. The extra size through the hips gives me plenty of ease to move and sit. I used the hem band piece unaltered, since I didn’t add any additional width, but I shortened the sleeves by 4.5″ and adjusted the cuffs accordingly to give me a three-quarter-length sleeve. If I’d thought this through a bit more, I would have planned for the sleeves to finish at this length without a cuff… the cuff seam allowance is a bit bulky. I thought about cutting off the cuffs and turning under a hem, but I don’t really want to lose the sleeve length, at least not while it’s this cold! Lori suggested using the pleather for the cuffs with a v-notch detail, which could be really cute and would give me more ease (since the pleather doesn’t have any stretch, which you usually want in a cuff).

Grainline Studio Linden Minidress | Ginger Makes

For the pleather details, I cut two pieces 2″ by 24″ (a little longer than my sleeve length) and lightly pressed the long edges under by 3/8″. I tested this first on scraps, but I was able to use a warm, dry iron on the wrong side without any damage to the pleather. Then, I centered the strips over the shoulder notch and the midpoint of the wrist on the flat sleeve pieces and taped them in place with light masking tape. If I’d had a fabric glue stick, I would have used that instead, but I didn’t, so I was stuck with tape. I edgestitched the pleather in place, sewing in the same direction (i.e. top to bottom) for each side to help prevent pulling and puckering. I was a bit nervous about sewing pleather to a knit, so I did a few tests before I sewed on the actual sleeves. I had success using an 80/12 universal needle and holding the fabric in place firmly in front of and behind the presser foot so it wouldn’t stretch out of shape or drag. Then I trimmed off the excess pleather and inserted the sleeves like usual. Ta-da!

Ahhhhh… look at that soothing grey-on-grey action. It’s so comforting! It makes me want to get back into my winter cocoon and stay there til spring! Now, do you have a seasonal color palette, or am I just a crazy person? Do tell!

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. 🙂

Top 5 of 2014: Hits + Misses!

Hi, guys! A belated Merry Christmas to you, if you celebrate, and an early Happy New Year! Hope the holiday season is finding you well and with plenty of time to hang out with loved ones and just relax!

One thing I’ve loved about the end of the year the past two years has been participating in Gillian‘s Top 5 posts. It’s really fun to stop and reflect on the previous year, and to move forward into the new year with a better idea of what you love to make and wear. So I’m excited to do it again this year!

OK, let’s start off with the misses. They’re the most fun, right?

5.) Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

I got tricked by the fun fuchsia animal print into buying a fabric in a color that I hate hate HATE wearing. There’s something about pale grey that makes me look and feel gross (which is weird, because I love medium and dark greys). Also, this shape was a new one for me, and I fell into the old trap of sewing something that I would never buy in a store. I wore this a few times, but ended up giving it away. I can’t even stand looking at these photos! I hate black pants (they’ve also been given away) and my skin looks LAVENDER in these pics. Yuck! Well, at least it was fun to sew!

4.) Nettie Bodysuit #2

I couldn’t think of a single way to wear this- it doesn’t go with anything in my closet and it looks especially idiotic with my usual low-cut jeans. I never sewed anything to pair it with, which probably tells you how much I liked it. Dumb fabric/pattern pairing!

3.) Colette Geometric Laurel-ish

Here’s another garment I didn’t wear even once. There’s just something about it that I don’t like, which is a shame, because I loved the fabric. It wrinkled when you just looked at it, and was kinda messy as a result. Plus, looking back at these pics, I just don’t think I got the fit right. I’d love to have a go-to shift dress in my arsenal, but I haven’t achieved that yet. Blerg!

2.) Honey Cardigan

Why did I spend hours and hours and hours and hours knitting a cardigan when I don’t even like wearing them? Why did my buttonholes only fit buttons better suited for a clown? Why do bad sweaters happen to (basically) good people? WHY?

1.) Simplicity 1690 Crop Top + Gathered Skirt

OK. IN MY DEFENSE, everyone on Pinterest wearing a crop top + midi skirt combo looks super cute! But my proportions are off and this is Frump City, Population Me. Also, HOLY COW, my FAR too anatomically-correct pattern placement!!! Try and tear your eyes away from the, uh, headlights. TRY. This whole outfit is an atrocity.

Let’s turn to happier topics, shall we? Here are my top 5 hits of 2014! [Sidenote: I wanted to cheat and choose extras, but, this post is already long enough, so know that I had some runners-up that I spared you from. I’m looking at you, Gerard!]

5.) Style Arc Romy Anorak!

This project was a real learning experience for me, which I loved. I had never really been into more detailed projects, but after this, I could totally get the appeal of taking on something difficult. It’s a real confidence builder to work through something without good instructions and to find your own way of doing things when you want to change up a pattern. Best of all, I really like the end results! I wore this tons and tons this year, and loved that it replaced an ugly “technical” jacket that I never felt good in.

4.) Ebony + Nanette Scout Tee

I made this at the tail-end of warm weather (like, late October), so I didn’t get to wear it much this year, but man, oh, man, do I love it! I love the exaggerated shape, the color combo, and the bold print. It’s just so fun! Plus, it felt like a collaboration between myself and several cool, fun bloggers, none of which I’ve ever met in real life, and I love that it’s a testament to the strength and warmth of the weird and amazing online sewing community. I’m so excited to wear this come spring!

3.) Alder Shirtdress, v.2

This was my jam for summer 2014! I looooooved the Alder Shirtdress pattern, so much, in fact, that I made three versions! This one is my favorite- I finally worked up the nerve to cut into a treasured piece of Vlisco wax print, and I’m so happy I did! The large-scale print pairs happily with the loose silhouette and it’s just so fun to wear. This was my summer uniform and I felt so happy and at ease in it.

2.) Isabel Undercover Sweatshirt

I made a concerted effort to sew more wardrobe basics this year, and I’m really happy that I did. I’m a really, really casual dresser 90% of the time, but you would never know that from the way I used to sew! The unfortunate side effect of not shopping, but also not sewing basics, was that my everyday wardrobe was in terrible condition at the beginning of this year. You could find me most days in some sort of ugly, worn, free, unisex t-shirt, paired with an ugly, worn, free, unisex hoodie. It’s hard to feel confident dressed like that! Enter the Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood, the other pattern I made three versions of this year. It’s wearable, looks really different made up in different fabrics, and has made dressing easy and fun during the week. This wool jersey version, based on an Isabel Marant sweater I saw a picture of and loved, is my favorite by a mile.

1.) M6553, v.2

It should be hard to choose a favorite garment for the year, but this was a no-brainer. Every time I look in my closet, it just jumps out at me… I love it! If I could only use a single piece of clothing to tell people who I am, it would probably be this dress. It’s bright, fun, and relaxed, things that I hope describe me (on good days). I love love love this fabric (another peer pressure collaboration THANKS CHARLOTTE) and I’m so glad I used it on a favorite pattern! It was another occasion when I finally had the courage to cut into a beloved stash fabric, and I was so pleased that I did when the dress was done. Yay!

Alright, guys, I’m really excited to hear about your hits and misses this year. Tell me! What were your biggest triumphs? Worst disappointments? Anyone else have a pattern placement problem that made a garment a bit too anatomically-correct? Do share!

Ginger Made: Ebony + Nanette + Scout Tee = Happiness!

Hi, guys! Hope your week is off to a great start! Let me start off with a word of explanation: I really, really, really didn’t mean to buy a summery print so late in the year. But I stumbled across this Nanette Lepore linen/silk blend (!) online and immediately fell hard for it (good news- it’s still in stock!!!). [Sidebar: while I can’t afford to wear Nanette Lepore, I would love to- I’m such a huge fan of the Garment District, and so I really appreciate her commitment to bringing garment production back to New York. For more about this, check out Overdressed, if you haven’t already read it!] But, it’s October, so I tried to talk myself out of it. I left the browser window open for two days when I saw Mary‘s tweet that she had just ordered the same print and, well, that little nudge, plus some encouragement from Roisin, was all I needed to pull the trigger! Friends, I’m telling you, Twitter is a DANGEROUS place sometimes! So, my October Mood Sewing Network project looks a bit like an August project! Oops!

I’d planned to use this gorgeous fabric to make a really special dress (check out Kelli’s dress made with a different colorway of the same fabric!), but after I thought about it for a bit, I just couldn’t justify making a dress that would be stuffed in my closet until May. I’ve recently noticed a major hole in my wardrobe- cute tops for everyday wear! So I figured a top would allow me to wear this fun print with a greater degree of frequency.

Haha, this photo shoot was made difficult by the wind swirling around… things don’t usually look this tent-y!

Since the print is so large-scale, I knew that I needed something with a lot of surface area to show it off. I remembered Ebony’s hack of the Grainline Studio Scout Tee pattern, something I’d been meaning to try since I first saw her post. Ebony has the best style and everything she makes I immediately want… she’s just so cool (#girlcrush)! Now, Ebony used a knit, but I thought I could get away with using a woven since the original pattern is designed for wovens and the fabric is quite drapey.

Ebony details how much width and length she added to her pattern, but I didn’t want to do quite as much as she did (plus, I suspect she’s taller than me). So I dropped the front hem by 3″ and the back by 8″ (blending from 3″ at the side seam of the back piece to 8″ at the center back, giving it a nice curved hemline). I also lengthened the sleeves by 4″ (Jen at Grainline has a tutorial for how to do this if you need some pointers!). I slashed and spread the front and back pieces by 8″ each (the most I could do and still fit the pattern pieces on 44″ wide fabric). That’s plenty of extra volume- 32″ total added to the sweep of the hemline! Whoa!

The fabric was super easy to sew and didn’t fray as much as 100% linen, luckily. But it tends to relax and rumple just a bit when you wear it, which I really like. Since it wasn’t fray-crazy, I didn’t bother with fancy seam finishings and just serged the seams. Sometimes you just want to keep it simple! The neckline is finished with bias binding, and the curved hemline got the narrow hem treatment.

I know this isn’t the most flattering garment, but it makes a big splash and is really, really fun to wear. I just feel so happy when I put it on! And isn’t that the best thing about sewing your own clothes? You can wear whatever you like! And, you can channel inspiration from as many sources as you like (in my case, Ebony, Mary, Roisin, Jen, Kelli, and, of course, Nanette Lepore! And the finished garment even makes me think of Liza Jane, somehow) and turn it into a cool garment! I’m really looking forward to seeing what Mary makes with this fabric!

What are you making these days? What are your favorite top styles?

I saved you my derpiest photo as a treat. DERRRRRRRRRRRP.


Ginger Made: Alder Shirtdress, v. 3!

Oh my… I think at this point we can classify my love for the Alder Shirtdress pattern as an addiction. I tried to move on to fall sewing, but I just couldn’t help myself and decided to try out view B before summer was over! Just one more summer dress can’t hurt, right?

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

The fabric you’re seeing here is a rayon blend, perhaps even rayon/linen. It’s lightweight, breathable, and has a very fluid drape. It works really well for this! The drape keeps the gathers looking good, but it wasn’t slippery or annoying to sew with.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

The fabric came from Fabrics for Less in the Garment District. It’s a small storefront that’s jam-packed with fabric bolts, so it takes some careful navigation, but I almost always find something fun in there for very little cash ($5/yd for this stuff!). It was an impulse purchase (palm trees!!! seagulls! sunsets!), and while I love the print, it’s not a good color scheme for me. I like how it looks up close, but it washes out farther away and I feel like I look even paler than usual. But- palm trees! Seagulls! Sunsets! It’s like I ripped the curtains out of a Miami hotel in 1987 and gave them the Scarlett O’Hara treatment! Who cares if I look like I’ve never actually seen a ray of sun, let alone a palm tree?!

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I didn’t make any fit alterations to this version, although, if I’m being honest, I probably should have lengthened it a bit. It’s definitely riding the line between “acceptably short” and “are you leaving the house in that???” Even just another inch might be enough. Since I’d made this pattern twice before, it sewed up quickly… EXCEPT for the fact that I didn’t really look at the instructions and totally forgot that you need to trim back the right front bodice (the side that you stitch the button band onto), and I didn’t notice that it was way longer than the left side until I’d already topstitched the button band down, noooooooo! I find that I often make silly mistakes when I’m making something I’ve made before, but it all worked out in the end.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I’m surprised how much I like this version. I wasn’t initially attracted to the gathered skirt- sometimes looser dresses with gathered waists are just too ’90’s for me- but I like that it gives me volume through the hips without adding to my waist at the front. I am sort of a reverse pear, with a thicker middle and narrower hips, but this silhouette kind of fakes an hourglass shape. Another benefit of the gathered skirt is that I could sneak side-seam pockets into this version. What I don’t like- actually sewing gathers! I’m the worst at it… no matter how carefully I distribute and pin them, they always end up getting smashed into ugly little tucks… yuck!!! This fabric couldn’t really handle much seamripping, so I just left it, and it’s not a dealbreaker, but I definitely need to work on perfecting my gathering technique.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

OK, before we go, here are the winners of the Malu coat pattern giveaway! #176, #24, and #2… that’s Jules, Kirsten, and Sarah! Congratulations! I’ve sent you all emails. 🙂

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

Now, what are you sewing right now? Any exciting projects? What’s the pattern you’ve sewn the most times?

Ginger Made: Alder Shirtdress, v. 2!

Guys, I’m addicted to this pattern! As soon as I finished my first version of the Alder Shirtdress, I cut out a second one, this time in a treasured print! This is a Vlisco cotton that’s been in my stash for nearly a year, just waiting for the perfect project! Sadly, this particular print is sold out, but there are tons of gorgeous ones just waiting for you (look at this beauty!!! LOOK AT IT!!! Just don’t look at the price… I’d have to sell an organ to pay for this fabric, but WOW, it’s lovely!)

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

Part of the reason this fabric has been in my stash so long is that it’s such a large-scale print. It really looks cool when it isn’t broken up, but it’s a little challenging to use in a garment. I thought this pattern would be a nice one for it, but now that I’m looking at the photos, the effect in the front of the dress is kind of dizzying. There’s just a little too much going on! If I’d thought of it in time, I would’ve changed this up to make it a popover (instead of buttoning all the way down) to dial back the chaos. Since I didn’t do that, I may go back and remove the pockets. I like the pocket detail, but the dress looks so busy!

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I really like the back, though! Seriously, look at the size of that starburst pattern! Crazy! I love it so much!

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

OK, here’s another nitpicky thing- I didn’t notice in my first version, but I’m getting some bubbling in the front high bust area. I probably need to adjust the pattern to fix that, but I felt like the shoulders fit well, so I’m not 100% sure what to do there. It’s not a huge problem, but I should probably work it out before I cut #3 out.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I decided to try a different method of finishing the armholes, but it didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. I shouldn’t have strayed from the instructions! Other than that, I didn’t change anything in my construction. I forgot to mention last time, but I followed Andrea’s collar construction order– that’s become my default process for collars!

Pug belly!!!!!

I’m forcing myself to set this pattern aside (long enough to make a shirt for Man Friend, at least), but I’m really tempted to go straight into version #3! It’s true love!

Peggy says hi!

What are you guys sewing? Anything fun?



Ginger Made: Alder Shirtdress!!

It’s official. This is my new summer uniform!

Guys, I’ve been looking forward to the release of this pattern since I heard rumors that it was coming (in fact, I crushed hardcore on the original version of this dress in Jen’s rtw line, Hound). It’s the Alder Shirtdress from Grainline Studio, and it’s just the perfect summer dress! There’s even a lovely print version for the PDF-averse! When I heard the launch date was in July, I picked out fabric for my July Mood Sewing Network project, then waited semi-patiently for the pattern to be released! I’m not even kidding when I say that knowing this pattern would be waiting for me on my return helped me to avoid post-vacation depression (that and seeing the pugs again, of course).

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I’ve really been going crazy with prints lately, so I decided on a nice navy instead for my first go at the pattern. Navy is my go-to neutral color- it’s not as harsh on my pale skin as black, but it’s still pretty chic, in my opinion- and when I found this shade in a crisp cotton pique, I was over the moon! (This Japanese cotton pique looks exactly like the one that I used, although I picked mine up in-store at Mood Fabrics NYC).

Look at that great texture! It reads a little sporty in person, in a courtside-seats-at-a-tennis-match kind of way.  The fabric has lots of body and not much drape, so it really gives you a crisp a-line shape in this dress. It’s really, really breathable, a must for a summer dress! It’s a medium weight and it’s nice and opaque, so it doesn’t need a lining- perfect!

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

OK, back to the pattern. This is view A, and it’s a really fun sew! It’s like making a buttondown shirt, but without having to set in sleeves or worse, sew the sleeve plackets! It’s a simple silhouette, but it’s got nice lines, and the drafting is great. Not to geek out too much, but the armscyes are just the perfect depth! Not too low, not too high- just right!

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I sewed a straight size 4 without any alterations (my bust is a 4 and my hips are a 0, so there’s a bit more ease there than there would be if I graded between sizes, but I decided just to sew it up and see how I felt about it). I don’t mind the additional fulness at all. You get a nice clean finish if you follow the pattern instructions. There’s an inner yoke to clean finish that seam and the armholes are finished with bias binding. The side seams are the only exposed seams, so I serged them, but I would use French seams on thinner fabric for a completely immaculate finish.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

There’s a subtle difference between the right side and the wrong side of this fabric, so I was careful to mark all the wrong sides with chalk. Isn’t it annoying when you forget to do that and you end up with one part of your garment that’s just a little different than the rest? Ugh! Other than that, I didn’t use any special techniques! This was a really straightforward project. 🙂

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

Overall, I’m really happy with my new dress! Quite a few of my other dresses are just a little too flashy for wearing around the neighborhood or even to work (ummmmmmmmm PIRANHAS, I’m looking at you!), but this is just right. It’s nice to have a basic dress in my closet.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

But don’t worry- I haven’t completely reformed! In fact, I’ve already cut out a second Alder in a gaudy large-scale print. Mwahahahahahaha!

This was the exact moment when an SUV full of beach-going ladies pulled up next to me and one of them shouted, “Work it, girl!” A second later they turned up their dance music and Man Friend laughed so hard he almost fell over.

What’s on your sewing table right now???