Jasper Sweater Tunic

Pattern: Paprika Pattern's Jasper Sweater Dress
Fabric: 2 yds French terry
Cost: free from fabric swap

I have a confession to make: grad school has not been a good incentive to maintain a professional wardrobe. While full days of classes still see me in my classic pants and woven shirts combos and I still go to my real job in something mostly presentable, there are also entire days spent studying on the couch, venturing outside only to walk the dog or get groceries. There are also Fridays, the day I bike 9 miles roundtrip to attend just 50 minutes of class. On those days, I can't be bothered to bring a whole change of clothes, so instead I often find something I can just slip on over my tights. In the warmer months I brought knit dresses and some flats, but for winter I needed something a bit warmer. Thus the Jasper sweater tunic was born.

The Jasper is a fancy sweatershirt/sweater dress pattern from Paprika. I really like the unique collar as well as the seam lines and front welt pockets. The ones I've seen popping up on the internet are gorgeous. 

Mine is a bit simpler, made up in a French terry type knit that I got at the Bay Area Sewists last fabric swap (thanks Ryann!). To keep it from being a bit too much all in one color, I made the collar and cuffs out of the reverse side. Because the fabric has more stretch than the recommended fabric for the pattern, I also ended up taking in the sleeves and side seems at the bust for a better fit. The fabric is also much too drapey for the collar, so I ended up underlining the collar and the hem band in ponte. This gave the garment the weight it needed in those sections. 

For fit, I shortened the whole thing to be more of a tunic length - I like the proportions of this a lot better. I also shortened the sleeve by a good inch and they are still quite long. This is the second pattern I've had to shorten the sleeves on lately, so either long sleeves are in style or I am finally realizing I have dino arms!

The fit is now quite good, and I'm thinking I may make another one up in a sweatshirt fabric if the opportunity arises. I think it would be great for camping or other outdoor activity involving types and some warm layers. Not quite the height of fashion, but comfy and simple and easy for Friday's class. 

Men's Hudson Pants

Pattern: True Bias's Men's Hudson Pants
Fabric: 2 yds French Terry
Cost: $15

Around the house, I wear my True Bias Hudson Pants just about every night. They are probably my most worn me-made garment ever by sheer virtue of their comfiness and ease of wear, and the fact that you can wear the same jammies over and over again, and no one will see.

I asked Mr. Made if he would like a pair. He said no. So of course I signed right up to test the Men's Hudson pants and make him a pair. I figured he doesn't know what he's missing.

Now, he doesn't read this blog, so I am going to let you in on a little secret: his loungewear is far from cute. We're talking plaid fleece with an all-over dog paw print, or grey sweatpants that hit just above the ankle as if he's outgrown them. So although no one will ever see his pajamas, I decided his were getting a makeover anyway. As a bonus, I figured he might be able to wear these to the climbing gym, another area in his wardrobe that is lacking.

Like the Women's Hudson Pants, the Men's Pants are easy to cut out and sew. The tester version of the pattern was just 25 pages to print out (compare to some Burda patterns which are 60+), and is comprised of only a few pattern pieces. I had the whole thing cut out and nearly sewn up in one short evening.

The sizing is a nice range, too, going two whole sizes below Mr. Made's size, which is impressive because many of the Big 4 patterns are all too big for him. While Kelli has released a kids' version of the Hudson pants, it seems that the men's pattern would work well for teens as well because the sizing extends all the way down to a 28" waist. It's really nice to get such a wide range in a pattern. 

Unfortunately for me, the one area I didn't plan out was the length. The pattern comes with inseam measurements, but silly me didn't stop to think that if his store-bought pants were too short, then the pattern might be as well. While I haven't had an issue with other jeans patterns, it isn't uncommon for store-bought clothes to be a bit short on him. Kelli has extended the length of the pattern by about an inch from this tester version, and for mine Mr. Made requested a good four inches (he wanted them extra long). To achieve this, I created diagonal knee patches for a sort of motorcycle look. It's subtle, and doesn't look like a total mistake, and he is now very happy with the length (although I think they're a touch too long). 

As with the women's pants, one of the fun parts of this pattern is the ability to add contrasting colors. It works nicely on a men's pattern, too, because it gives it a touch of style without getting too frilly. On these, I did the cuffs, waistband, and pocket using the wrong side of the fabric.

Shortly after finishing these, the weather turned cold and Mr. Made got sick. These were all he wore. We also received his favorite catalog in the mail that featured a similar pair of trendy sweatpants, so I think I've won him over. The best part is, made up in different fabrics few people would be able to spot that we're virtually wearing the same pants. 

With gift-giving season coming up, this would be a very easy and quick pattern for the man or teenager in your life!

P.S. Your eyes do not deceive you: This post is full of animal photo bombs. 

Sea Lion Dog Costume

Pattern: self-drafted
Cost: $15
Fabric:1 yd sweatshirt fleece + quilt batting

Making a Halloween costume is something I look forward to every year. Since we got Beatrix last fall she has been the recipient of my Halloween sewing, and so this year she got dressed up as a sea lion. Arf arf!

Making this costume was an exercise in drafting. As with any costume, it must imitate the real thing while still being practical for moving, walking around, and in the case of a dog, going to the bathroom. The most challenging part for me was drafting a realistic looking flipper. I started out with a few sketches, followed by some paper pattern pieces. In the muslin phase (pictured below in plaid), I tried out at least five flipper variations until one started to look right. The flippers and tail were then interfaced and sewn together with quilt batting to give them extra body. B was a very patient model!

I am really pleased with the final look. The front flippers drape nicely on her bowling-ball shaped body, and the tail rests just above her own. It's especially cute when she's sitting down. While I originally intended to make her a seal, I was also tempted to add little ears. A study in marine biology will tell you that it's the sea lion that has external ear flaps, so a sea lion it was. 

Here's the costume sans dog. The pattern was based on the Milla Milla sweatshirt pattern, which has a raglan sleeve that I extended down into the fin. Her arms come out underneath the fin, and that bottom part of the armscye is left open like a tank top or a cape. The bottom extends just far enough to attach to the tail, which drapes on either side of her own.

 She is able to walk around more or less comfortably in it, and didn't seem to mind wearing it to a costume part the other night.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Dog Days Hat

Pattern: Mimi and Tara's free Dog Cap pattern
Fabric: remnants of wool, canvas and cotton woven
Cost: free

Between studying and working this year, I've managed to grab bits of time to sew. Sometimes it's enough to make a full blouse, other times it's just an hour or two to have some fun. In this case, I stole away a couple of hours and decided that something hilarious was on the sewing agenda. And so Beatrix got a new hat.

Whether it's creating Halloween costumes with large googly eyes or cutting out a miniature A's logo, I find whimsical things like this fun and, frankly, good for the soul. There's something so silly and simple-hearted about playing dress up. So why not give the dog a hat for our favorite team?

This pattern is made using a free multi-size hat pattern from Mimi and Tara, a dog clothing pattern maker. The shaping is achieved with a dart at center back and is held to the head with elastic straps going under the chin and on both sides of the ears. I added interfacing to the brim to give it shape, but it could use a bit more starch or better support as the fabric there is just cotton shirting.

The pattern suggests lining the hat, so of course I immediately thought, "Make it reversible!" It didn't take much more work to cut out my other favorite team's logo. Both logos are cut from fabric backed with interfacing and were appliqu├ęd to the hat fabric before assembling the hat. I finished the raw edges of the hat at the front, and then used fold over elastic to finish the raw edges along the sides and back, which extends to become the straps.

She has already worn it out to the bar a few nights, sporting whichever team was playing. I think she loves the attention. And I get a huge kick out of very silly things.

Happy hump day everyone!

Bias-Cut Camisol

Pattern: slip from Vogue's Anna Sui Misses' Dress and Slip #1177
Fabric: 1 yd cotton silk blend
Cost: $18

I love love love cotton silk blends. Whenever I go to the fabric store I drool over their rich feel, luxurious softness, and relative stability. And in an array of jewel toned colors, they are so pretty! But at $18 a yard they are a bit more than I like to spend on most of my projects (hello grad school budget!). I do have a yard of gold and a yard of white in my stash, and I decided it was time to sew one of them up for a quick mid-semester project.

With limited yardage, I landed on making a camisole top. I've seen quite a few of these around, and they seem fun yet casual. I also need some for under jackets and such. I dug around in my stash and found an Anna Sui dress pattern that came with a slip, which seemed like a good and free option. The slip is cut on the bias so that the top hugs your curves, and I had just enough fabric to make it in my size.

Overall this is a very simple top to make, but the precious fabric and bias cut require careful handling. I used french seams on the sides and drafted facings for the neckline for a seamless look. Unfortunately I made the decision to draft the facings on the grain rather than the bias which proved too constricting, and so I had to cut them shorter for ease of mobility. I guess I should have known better, but I don't often sew things on the bias so it was a learning experience.

Interestingly enough, I've actually made this pattern up once before in the same type of fabric, but cut on grain. The bias cut definitely improves the comfort. However, I repeated one mistake in cutting it the exact same size, which for me results in extra fabric at the armpits. I had to unpick my precious french seams and facings and perform some garment "surgery" to get the fit right. In the end, however, it worked out well.

I'm not as in love with the top as I could be. It might have worked better in something a bit drapier and less prone to wrinkling, and I still haven't made my mind up about the color. I'm also not convinced about bias-cut garments - the fabric doesn't behave the way I think it will on the body, and overall feels a bit shifty. This is definitely the type of garment that requires technical knowledge, despite its simplicity. I have worn it out, however, and I think I'll give it a few more chances to win me over. And I still have yard number two in white to experiment with.