Sewing for My Sis: Megan Nielsen’s Kelly Skirt!

Guys.  I should’ve known this day would come eventually, but somehow I never thought it would.  I’ve sewn something for my sister that I really, really don’t want to send to her!

OK, I want to send it to her.  But is it wrong that a part of me really wants to keep this for myself?  My sister has lost her baby weight really fast so we can wear the same size!  It’s meant to be!  Alright, alright, I’ll just have to make another for myself.

This is Megan Nielsen‘s Kelly skirt pattern, and I love love LOVE it!  I’ve always loved pleated skirts, but sometimes they can be a bit too “Catholic schoolgirl”, if ya know what I mean.  This pleated skirt is super cute, but definitely not Lolita-esque.  I’ve loved this pattern ever since I first spotted it, but hadn’t pulled the trigger and purchased it in my attempts to defeat the BUYITNOWNOWNOWNOWNOW thing I’ve had going on the last few years.  Luckily, my sister picked it out when we started planning her new wardrobe, so I had an excuse to order it (from Sweet Little Chickadee, my favorite indie pattern supplier)!

I used this organic twill from Mood Fabrics that I bought a year and a half ago or so, intending to make pants, but I am too scared haven’t gotten around to that yet.  It’s the perfect weight– not to heavy or thick, but with plenty of body to hold the pleats.  It’s halfway between navy and gray, so I think she’ll be able to pair it with many different tops.

This pattern comes together really quickly!  I was momentarily stumped by how to get the pleats to lie flat on top of the pockets, but I found Roobeedoo’s post and realized my mistake.  I just assumed that I needed to baste the tops of the pockets to the skirt front, but if you do that before making your pleats, they won’t sit right.  Once I unpicked that, it was smooth sailing!

The only thing I’m not super excited about is my buttonholes.  I think I might need to pick up a buttonhole cutter as cutting them open with embroidery scissors seems to leave messy buttonholes.  They look pretty unprofessional if you look up close.  I guess I could douse them in Fray Check, but that stuff smells kinda gross.  Luckily I doubt that many people will be looking at the buttonholes up close, so I guess it’s alright.

Lest you think I’m a slacker, I’ve also made her a Renfrew top in her favorite color.  In all my iterations of this pattern, this is my first time making one with short sleeves!  I made her a size 4 and shortened the bodice by 1/2″ (she’s petite), and I’m told it fits her perfectly!  Now that I know for sure that it fits, I need to set aside a day and cut out a half-dozen versions of this top and put them together assembly-line style.  You can’t have too many tees!

So… what do you think?  Should I send this to my definitely-deserving sis, or should I move, change my phone number, and keep the thing, living as a fugitive for the rest of my days, clutching the tattered remnants of this skirt until I die alone in a border town?

Hatching Plans: Back-to-Work Wardrobe for my Sis!

Hello, everyone!  Hope this little post finds you all well!

As you may remember, my youngest sister had a baby mid-January, so now she’s preparing to go back to work.  She’s going through a bit of a rough patch right now, so I thought maybe the prospect of a new work wardrobe might cheer her up and give her something to look forward to.  (She’s related to me, after all, and few things get me more pumped up than doodling up plans to sew new outfits!)  I thought I’d share my plans with you guys to get your input!  My sister is very laidback and the opposite of a diva, so she rarely shops for or spends money on herself, and she doesn’t give a lot of feedback about what she likes.  So I’m hoping to put together some pieces that she’ll be able to mix and match and that she’ll really love.

OK, since my sister’s immediately post-baby and is long-distance, I need to make garments that are easy to fit and that won’t look ill-fitting and gross right away if she loses weight.  My first thought was to make a few basic a-line skirts, since they only need to fit in the waist and are straightforward to fit.  So I showed her some skirt patterns (and by “showed”, I mean “texted photos of”), and her favorite by far was Megan Nielsen’s Kelly skirt.

image from Megan’s blog

This requires a pretty decent fit through the waist, but my mom lives near my sister and can take it in for her if she loses a ton of weight.  I hopped online and bought this yesterday, so I’ll be checking the mailbox all week long!  My sis favors blue, gray, and aqua these days, so my thought was to make this skirt for her in:

chambray and navy twill.  I also thought that a red twill skirt might be fun to combine with the blues and aquas.  I don’t want her to get bored wearing only the same skirt pattern, so I may add Tilly’s new Miette skirt pattern to the mix, too.  I didn’t buy any fabric yet, though, so I’m open to other ideas.

image from Tilly’s blog

Cute, right?  This seems like a nice option, too, since it’s so adjustable.  Perfect!

Another thing I thought she might like is a pair of stretchy pants.  I just found Tessuti’s Anita ponte pants pattern and immediately downloaded it (you’ll be seeing these on me soon if all goes well!), and I think they might work on my sister, too.

image from Tessuti’s blog

I love these!  They have a bit more coverage and are more substantial than leggings, so they seem awesome for work and running around with a baby.  I’m thinking gray ponte?

gray ponte from Mood– click on photo for link!

Next up, tops!  I went a little bit crazy at Girl Charlee and picked out a boatload of jerseys to make some tops.

Aren’t these all adorable?  You can see why I couldn’t help myself!  I was thinking I’ll make a whole flock of Renfrew tops with a variety of sleeve lengths and necklines (the Renfrew is my tried & true pattern, after all… heeheehee!).  What I like about the Renfrew top is that it’s feminine, but still really easy to wear and slim enough to tuck into a skirt.  But I’m not sure if maybe it’s TOO slim for someone with a changing body?  What do you guys think?  I’m also tempted to make a couple of Cindy’s dolman sleeve tops, but I don’t know how good those would look paired with skirts.  What about the Briar sweater/tee?  Is it too loose for someone that might be feeling self-conscious about weight around the mid-section?  Thoughts?  Any other patterns that might be nice?

If I have jersey leftover after cutting out all the tops, I’d like to make a skirt like Miranda’s simple layered summer skirt.

photo from Miranda’s blog

Wouldn’t this be super cute with the different striped fabrics combined together?

My sister works with kids in and out of classrooms and homes, so I figure that a couple of cardigans would be good so she can toss one on over everything if it’s chilly.  I’m thinking that I’ll do one inspired by Andrea’s Renfrew cardigan mod, and for the other, I’d like to try my hand at drafting a waterfall cardigan (similar to the Burda Karen pattern, but not quite as voluminous, perhaps).  I’m thinking one in navy, and the other in gray:

both from Girl Charlee

Maybe not the most exciting things in the world, but I’m sure they’ll be worn regularly.

I also ordered this purple polka dot ponte from Girl Charlee because it reminded me of my sister:

What should I make with it?  A dress?  Another pair of stretchy pants?  A skirt?

Any other patterns or garments you can recommend?  I’d like to make her some Archer shirts and perhaps a version of M6553 down the road, but she has basically nothing to wear right now, so I’m looking for quick makes!  I’m especially interested to hear what any moms out there liked wearing post-pregnancy (btw, breastfeeding isn’t a concern here, so no need for tops that accommodate that… tmi?  I hope not…).  I’m especially interested in any free tutorials or patterns as I’ve exceeded my pattern buying budget for the next little while!  🙂

Now, I have one last favor to ask!  Maybe you’ve noticed, but I love to make sewing plans, but find it hard to stick with them!  Since this is a pretty ambitious plan, I’ll be tempted to get sidetracked, so I’d love it if you could remind me to keep at these sewing plans if it’s been a while since you’ve seen me post anything!

What are you guys up to these days?  Any wild & wooly sewing plans??

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: The Renfrew Top (Or, The “Holy Cow, I Can’t Believe I Made a Shirt That Looks Like a Shirt” Shirt)

GUYS.  I’m seriously so happy with this.  It’s the Renfrew Top from Sewaholic Patterns, and it turned out so well that I feel like a champ!

When Tasia asked for testers for her new pattern back in November I  jumped at the chance!  This was my first time sewing knits, so I was both apprehensive and excited, but I knew that Tasia’s pattern instructions would be clear and thorough.

I had some trouble finding knits that were stable enough– most of the prints that I liked were way too stretchy and flimsy– so I used a double-knit jersey that I found at Mood.  It’s kind of a boring color, but I know I’ll wear it all the time.  I made view C, with its dressier cowl neck and three-quarter sleeves (my favorite!  I’m always pushing back or rolling up long sleeves).  Constructing the shirt is easy as can be, and I love the way that the sleeves and hem are finished with bands of self-fabric– no hemming!!  I started with the stretch stitch on my Janome, but since it was a sort of triple stitch, it used TONS of thread, and the plain zigzag worked just fine, so I switched to that mid-way through.  For some reason I had a ton of trouble attaching the first sleeve– I messed it up so badly that I had to put away the project in frustration for a while.  When I came back to it, the second sleeve went on perfectly, and I have no idea what I did differently!  I ended up having to cut a new sleeve piece to replace the first one– yeesh!  I cut a straight size 4 and it fit really well without any alterations– now I see why people like to use knits!  No muslins, no seam finishing, no fuss!

I know I’ll use this pattern in the future– it’s such a nice basic piece, but it’s so flattering and feminine.  I highly recommend it!  If you’re trying to fill out your wardrobe with more self-stitched items, this is a great place to start.  And I have to say, I received the best compliment on this!  When I tried it on for the first time, Man Friend said, “Hey, that looks like an actual shirt!”  That seems like a pretty high compliment from a non-sewer.  🙂

I do have a bit of bad news for you guys… poor Doug the Pug doesn’t fit into last year’s jacket!  It doesn’t meet around his middle at all and has to hang open!  Guess the holidays are hard on everybody’s figures!

What are you working on these days?  Anybody have any special projects going?  Also, be sure and stay tuned for a Sew Grateful Week giveaway!