WOOT – the Maywood Totepack is here!

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The revamped Maywood Totepack has arrived! The Maywood is basically two bags in one; it transforms from a tote to a backpack with a simple slide and tuck and I CANNOT WAIT TO MAKE IT.

Ellie over at Klum House is a gem and has asked me to test out the updated pattern / hardware and share the process with you all. Best part? She’s included a sweet discount code for you!

Click here to shop Maywood!

The discount code is MAKEMAYWOOD. It will take 10% off the purchase of any Maywood products between now and Monday, April 22 at midnight.

What? There’s more?

April 22 is the shipping deadline for anyone who wants to participate in Klum House’s Live Virtual Maywood Class on Sunday, April 28. Access to that live class is free for anyone who buys a full Maywood Maker Kit (and $10-30 sliding scale without the maker kit).

Klum House patterns are super approachable and result in really fabulous, high quality bags. Make the Maywood with me – I’ll be sharing my progress on Instagram and my finished bag on the blog April 17th!

Click here to shop Maywood!

Pattern Testing | Raspberry Rucksack by Sarah Kirsten

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As I’ve mentioned before, I freaking love sewing bags. They are super satisfying to make and when I tell folks I’ve made the bag they’re admiring it feels SO GOOD. Really though, if you haven’t tried making a bag yet, you should!

My favorite bag patterns are from Noodlehead, Klum House, Purl Soho, and now Sarah Kirsten.

In late January when Sarah Kirsten put out a call for testers for her new pattern, the Raspberry Rucksack, I filled out the survey as fast as humanly possible. The pictures she posted looked similar to the iconic 1970’s Fjällräven Kånken that I’ve secretly lusted after for years and was super excited to find a sewing pattern to meet that want. The Raspberry Rucksack is fully lined (unlike the Kånken), comes in two sizes, is completely customizable, and best of all – is sewn by you (or a really dedicated loved one)!

I think one of the best things about sewing is that you can take RTW things that might otherwise not fit your body or fully suit your aesthetic and customize them to your liking. For me, it’s far more appealing to make the things I wear and use rather than buying them.

I was so delighted to be chosen to test the pattern and immediately started planning. I chose the Little Mini size since I have enough big backpacks and I thought the Little would be perfect for toting around my logbook and art supplies, or as a purse.

The pattern calls for heavyweight canvas for the exterior and quilting cotton for the lining. I’m really having a moment with rusty reds and oranges and quickly settled on this Big Sur Canvas from Stonemountain. I wanted the zippers to match the exterior fabric and after a little internet searching, bought one 30″ double-slide zipper (color Redwood) and one individual zipper pull from Zippers By Annie. They offer a wide variety of colors and stated the zippers could easily be cut and another pull installed on the remaining length. I really like when the hardware on a project matches!

I was planning to use leftover fabric from my Making Backpack for the lining, but then found a plaid tablecloth at a thrift store – it was a perfect color match!

I also bought webbing, rectangle rings, and slide adjusters from Stonemountain. I was ready to start sewing, but after placing the golden yellow webbing on the Canyon Brown canvas it was clear I needed to adjust my plans. I did not like the contrast and decided to dye the webbing since a match couldn’t be found in stores (I searched EVERYWHERE). Dying proved to be a little challenging, but after de-tangling the webbing from the washing machine agitator (don’t dye webbing in the washing machine!), washing off some grease spots (seriously don’t do it!), and a second round of dye, I achieved the desired color. Totally worth it!

After sewing on the popup pocket and front handle, I thought I’d further mimic the Kånken by adding a circular patch. I dug into my scrap leather pile and found a really lovely piece, but because it was super thick, my cutting was a little too sloppy and I questioned whether my machine could handle it. I bought a thinner leather piece and set out to attach it. After doing a pretty terrible job of sewing the leather patch onto my Making Backpack, I decided this time to use topstitching thread, my Bernina #10 edgestitch foot, and a stitch length of 4.2. It turned out pretty perfect, but I wasn’t using a leather needle and my machine couldn’t handle backstitching, so I had to figure out a way to secure the stitches. I cut the threads long, and with a hand sewing needle brought the threads to the backside and tied them off there. I kind of wish I had used topstitching thread for the webbing too!

Attaching the popup pocket was definitely challenging. I found it next to impossible to pin it to the front piece and opted to hand baste it in place. For the webbing I used Wash Away Wonder Tape to stick everything in place, which I highly recommend! I hand basted the main compartment’s zipper in place too. If I made this again, I would definitely be more aggressive with rounding the top corners – mine are a little too subtle, which causes the zipper pulls to occasionally get stuck. It also meant I had to add folds in the zipper tape to make it go around the tiny curves.

I tend to fuse all of my interfacing before getting started and because the thrifted table cloth was a little wiggly, I opted to fuse all of the interfacing to the lining pieces. BUT because all of the handles and straps are sewn to the exterior, the interfacing is needed there! DUH! I ended up having double the interfacing the pattern called for (except for the center panel), but I do like the added structure. If I make this again, I will most likely double up the interfacing on all of the pieces, maybe even including the center panel.

After finishing the straps I had a couple lengths of extra webbing and decided to make this snappy-do to hold the handles together. It feels a little out of proportion to the rest of the bag, but I like how it keeps the front strap up when I’m wearing the backpack.

I went a little off script with the pattern and added the triangular side connectors using Noodlehead’s Range Backpack pattern pieces. The Rucksack pattern has the D rings attached at the bottom of the bag with a loop of webbing, which would probably work just fine, but I didn’t want to risk having to rip it all out like I did with my Making Backpack.

The construction of this bag is really incredible. Almost all of the seams are completely concealed! Total magic! This front flap would have been a nice place to add a patch pocket / phone sleeve to the lining.

The tester version of the pattern didn’t have a step to finish the ends of the main compartment’s zipper, but because mine had 7″ lobbed of its end, it was fraying like mad. I finished both ends using extra lining fabric, but found I had to pull them out of the way of the seam when sewing the front to the center panel. They’re a little wonky, but I’m confident the zipper won’t fall apart now. Perhaps if you choose to cut your zipper down to size, you might want to consider using a different finishing method.

The only seams you need to finish are at the back of the pack. This pocket isn’t part of the pattern. Since I just guessed the measurements, it’s a little too tall to easily access way in the back of the pack, but since I’m using this as a purse, it’s nice to have a dedicated space for my wallet. I didn’t realize how overzealous I was with pounding in the snap until everything was already put together. The part of the snap that is connected to the main back panel is rounded and might eventually rub a hole through the exterior fabric (really hoping that doesn’t happen)… it’s also frustratingly hard to unsnap. Oh well!

I chose to blindstitch the bias tape to the bag. Even though you can’t really see it when the bag is right sides out, I think it looks really sharp.

For the Little size there was one step I had to leave out because I couldn’t fit the bag neatly under my machine – the corners are just too tiny to get the clean edgestitching on the bottom that I’d be happy with.

I hesitate to call this a good pattern for brand new sewists because it’s definitely a complex sew. However, I do think with some very small tszujes to the pattern’s instructions and a little determination from the maker, it’s totally doable. The sewing community and independent pattern designers are usually super helpful when folks ask questions, so don’t be shy if you run into a step that confuses you on any project – odds are someone has figured it out and they’d be happy to help!

I’m really, really pleased with this make and know I’ll use it for a long time. I’m not sure when Sarah plans to release this pattern, but will definitely keep folks updated on Instagram. You should also follow Sarah Kirsten for the most up-to-date info on this pattern (and because her grid is lovely)!

Pattern Testing | Decades of Style Ophelia Overalls

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I love overalls, so when Janet from Decades of Style asked if I’d be willing test an overall pattern, I jumped at the chance. Plus, pattern testing for independent designers is such an enjoyable process!

Decades of Style is a Bay Area pattern company specializing in bringing home sewists styles from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. The Ophelia Overalls are part of their microline: Decades Everyday. The line’s focus is high quality patterns, but with zippier sewing. And these did sew up pretty fast!

I’ve been wanting to make a striped pant/overall/jumpsuit for a while and thought this pattern would be perfect. Initially I had wanted to use a lighter weight striped denim, but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted… and the timing just didn’t work for a trip up to Stonemountain.

So I went to Joann Fabrics hoping to find a deal. I had to venture in to its Utility Fabrics section to find the stripe I’d envisioned, and ended up buying this pillow ticking! Before washing, it was really stiff but now it’s like walking around in a soft and drapey pillow case.

Word to the wise though, if you plan on making a garment with pillow ticking it SHRINKS SO MUCH. The yardage I bought shrunk about 30%. It was insane and necessitated another trip to Joann’s.

Well, after shortening the pant pieces by 4 inches, I was going to make it work on the shrunken yardage, but then I somehow managed to cut out one pocket the wrong direction. Gah!

I made a straight size 8 (View A). View B has a “cleaner” finish and feels a little dressy. The only modification I made was to shorten the pant legs by 4 inches because I’m 5’2″. If I were to make these again I would also shorten the straps a few inches because there’s a lot of extra strap dangling behind the bib.

The pant legs are divided into four pieces so the pocket edges fit neatly into the seams. Each side has a button and snap closure, but I’ve found that at least on me, I never have to undo the snaps or bettons to get in and out. I just have to loosen the side belts and wiggle!

Both views feature side belts that allow you to cinch the waist. I’m toying with the idea of making a version without the belts for a super relaxed fit.

I’ve been wearing these at least once a week since finishing them. If you’re looking for an overall pattern that has 1940’s Land Girls vibes, these are for you!

Decades of Style is offering 20% off your entire purchase with the coupon code: OVER20 for the next two weeks!

Two Wiksten Kimonos

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I had the immense pleasure of pattern testing the new Wiksten Kimono, which first appeared as the Oversized Kimono Jacket in Making Magazine No. 4 / Lines. The updated, standalone pattern will be released by Wiksten, hopefully next month.

In the Making version, I made a size XS. The new pattern includes a larger range of sizes and after comparing the pattern pieces, I made a size S here.

The fabric is also from Wiksten and I think it’s a perfect pairing. Because the black square is a kind of squishy weave I had a hell of time getting the patch pockets pattern to line up. They ended up not, but oh well.

I’m glad I was able to add this to my me-made wardrobe as it’s been one of only three outerwear pieces I’ve had for #MMMay18.

Speaking of Me Made Made I haven’t been anywhere near as productive as I was last year. I only just finished a silk noil Hemlock Tee (21 days in to the challenge), which had mostly been made last month and two Kalle shirts have been all cut out and waiting on my ironing board.

Then, after a particularly long commute home, I just auto piloted through this kimono. It’s been unseasonable chilly in the Bay Area and I yearned for another layering piece.

I cut and hacked this together without much of a plan and feel quite relived it worked out. One side even has some magical unplanned pattern matching on the shoulders!

I’ve had this Baule cloth for over a year, all the while knowing it was destined to be an Ace & Jig-esque jacket. I bought it at the Alameda Antiques Fair and discovered a piece of gum mashed into the fringe as I was cutting it up. At least it’s washed gum.

The textile is only about 54 by 36 inches which posed a cutting layout puzzle. I made an XXS, hacked off quite a bit of sleeve to make it fit, made a half collar, and added a coordinating stripe fabric to the collar piece, which I think is my favorite detail. It’s also unlined.

As it’s unlined, I had intended to flat fell / faux French the seams to fully encase all of the raw edges, but the thickness of the fabric and 3/8″ seam allowances made that impossible. Planning would have been helpful here. The shoulder seams are kind of a mess as I worked out this kink in construction and the side seams just ended up being serged. Another last minute decision was to topstitch the shoulder and sleeve seams with my new Bernina edgestitch foot. While I’m super impressed with the foot, the topstitching doesn’t really work well with this woven fabric. The burrito method was used to apply the half collar.

I’ve now made four Wiksten Kimonos. Too many? Nah.

SPRING BREAK

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It was really starting to feel like Spring Break would never get here. Last Friday felt like five days. And I’m definitely not counting, but there are 8 weeks left of school.  Eight.  8.  E. I. G. H. T.   This middle school teacher really needed some time off.

I’m trying to be gentle with myself this break. I have a tendency to over estimate what can be accomplished during a small amount of time off and despite usually getting a lot done, it never feels like enough.

So aside from one project (pattern testing the new Wiksten Kimono) and my PM&D homework, I’m taking it easy. Going to read this book, probably clean some areas of the house, and visit some fabric/thrift stores.

I don’t have to make all the things.

Pattern Test: Mitchell Jumpsuit

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Pattern: Mitchell Jumpsuit

Fabric: Black linen from Joanns

Size: M

Mods: None

Way back in late 2016 I pattern tested the Mitchell Jumpsuit by Paddle Boat Studios (Hannah Miley). It was really exciting and I’m hoping that in the future my job allows me to say “yes” to more pattern testing opportunities.

The jumpsuit sews up quickly and the pattern allows for some play with the tie lengths and widths, which is fun. As I was under a deadline, I didn’t have the time to make a muslin and learned I’m SUPER SHORT. If I were to make this again, I would significantly shorten the legs (probably by about 5″ or more).

The pattern includes both the jumpsuit and dress pattern!

Pattern: Mitchell Dress

Fabric: Gold Hopscotch by Merchant & Mills

Size: M

Mods: Shortened sleeve length by 8″, finished the dress with mitered corners.

After laying my eyes on Merchant & Mills’ Gold Hopscotch fabric, I knew the Mitchell Dress would be the perfect pattern to showcase the fabric’s four different prints.

As usual, I planned everything out in my sketchbook and began patiently waiting for the yardage to cross the pond. I bought about 4 yards of it since it has a large repeat and I wanted to get them ALL. There’s enough leftover that I’ve been thinking about making a cropped Willow Tank, or Maya Top.

I initially didn’t change the sleeves, but after trying the dress on, they were just too long for the lightweight fabric. I hacked 8″ off and never looked back. Since the sides of the dress are open and wrap to close, I thought it would be wise to miter the corners for a clean, less-bulky finish.

Sadly, I don’t wear either of these makes very much. I don’t reach for the jumpsuit because the legs are too long and with both the ties and the back zipper, it’s just a little too complicated for this teacher’s bladder.

I’m shortening the the jumpsuit’s legs right after I hit ‘publish’ and I’m bringing the dress to the front of my closet!

UPDATE: I shortened the jumpsuit legs by 5″ and they are the perfect cropped length now. I wore both the dress and the jumpsuit this week!