Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sewaholic Renfrew

I jumped on the bandwagon (finally) and made two Renfrews.

This is a wearable muslin in performance fabric:

I've started using performance fabric (the kind you can wash in the sink and hang up to dry overnight)  for t-shirt experiments in an attempt to build up my travel wardrobe. I think this is from Osgood Textile in Springfield; it's fairly thick and substantial (and comfortable), and much better quality than the stuff I got at Jo-Ann. (Sorry, Jo-Ann.) It's the same fabric I used to make the Beginner's Dressmaking boatneck shirt.

Side rant: I'm really tired of travel clothing companies that seem to think that a woman's travel wardrobe needs to consist of pastel-pink button-down short-sleeved shirts. SO MUCH PASTEL. Soooo many short sleeves. Because apparently traveling is only for warm outdoorsy things and not, like, cities in cold climates in the off-season or anything.

Related: Last week I was at Kittery Trading Post and ran across a scoop-neck, princess-seamed, quick-dry travel shirt from a company I like, and would have pounced on it...except it was neon orange. Because that sure won't make you look like a tourist.

Second version, in the abstract bicycle knit from Grey's Fabrics:

I kind of hyperventilated the whole time I was making this, because I really like this print and didn't want to screw it up.

About the pattern, well, there's not much to say that hasn't already been said. I sewed a straight size 10, and it was a relatively quick sew (3-4 hours, but I'm slow). I like the mix-and-matchability; I combined the scoopneck from view A and the short sleeves from view B, which worked great. I don't have a serger, so reinforced just about every seam with zigzag stitching. The only difficult part was easing the neckband; no matter what I did, it was much shorter than the neckline. I did what I could, but it still doesn't quite lie flat.

But it's wearable. I think. I hope, because I wore it and the muslin to Quebec City and they're both coming with me to Orlando if we go in August.

Me and the shirt and my favorite form of transportation:

"Put on the helmet," Tom said. All righty. Don't take the pic while I'm cracking up, though.

Thanks, Tom.
I have one worry about this shirt's future: I've washed it once and hung it up to dry, and the black is already fading. :( DON'T LEAVE ME YET, ABSTRACT BICYCLES.

The pattern, though, is great. I plan on making it again, and using the scoop neck and neck band on  other t-shirt patterns. Now if I could just find some good easing instructions!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


The Alabama Chanin jacket that I saw at the workshop is now for sale on their site as a one-off.

You can't see it, but I'm drooling over here. Put down the credit card and back away slowly...

Monday, June 22, 2015

three things make a post

1. I went to Staples and printed 7 patterns from the new Alabama Chanin book. Total cost: $50. Here's Harley, guarding them for me on the guest bed.

I plan to spend the week tracing and muslining (especially the A-line and tank dress patterns, as well as the fitted dress pattern from the previous book) so I can compare the fit and figure out which  version to make.

There seems to be an error in the A-line pattern -- the back piece shows the hemlines for the top, tunic, dress and long dress, but the front piece only shows the hemline for the top. It's an easy fix (I just laid the back piece over the front piece and traced the hemline), but still weird.

I'm sort of mulling over the idea of making an Alabama capsule wardrobe -- a dress or two, a jacket to wear as a cardigan (I've tried on an actual AC cardigan and it was too short for me), and maybe a skirt.

2. I went to Quebec City last weekend! And it was great!

Not a lot of sewing/crafting stuff to report, but I saw these reverse appliqu├ęd dresses in a gift shop and thought they were really cute.

The neon-green-and-orange one especially.

It was actually pretty well-constructed, with two rows of stitching around the neckline. Also cute!

I also bought a ridiculous par of shoes from the best shoe store on earth.

And on the way home, we stopped by Johnson, Vermont, to see...

3) Johnson Woolen Mills!

I've had a minor obsession with this place ever since I bought a flannel-lined winter coat (OK, two) from them at the Big E a few years ago. They're one of the few woolen mills—if not the last—in New England. They also make excellent bags and blankets and stuff. And their wool wears like iron.

Pics are bad because the lighting was bright, sorry.


The mill itself wasn't open to the public (wahhhh), but I consoled myself with some fabric shopping.

I bought two yards of a gray-and-purple houndstooth. I couldn't resist taking a picture of the cutting table.

Now I need to learn how to make a coat!

Monday, June 1, 2015

addendum and outtakes: Boston city guide

My Boston city guide is up in this month's issue of Seamwork.

Disclaimer: I revisited most of the places on the list (and went to a few new ones) to get the most up-to-date information. I didn't revisit the museums—we go a couple of times a year, and they don't change, really. And I have to admit I've never been to O Ya—although it shows up A LOT on Best of Boston lists and it's the place to go if you want to get fancy, so I had to include it. I hear the fish is especially good. 

I also met a ton of really nice people (hi, proprietor at Newbury Yarns! I need to learn to knit now) and added to my stash. (Shocking, I know.)

Also, I didn't include some of the usual Boston sights like Fanueil Hall, the Freedom Trail, Fenway, etc., because you can find that stuff anywhere. If you have questions, though, feel free to ask, and I'll answer if I can.

AND I should thank my husband Tom for driving to some of the out-of-the-way places and coming with me on the SoWA trip. You know it's love when you say, "Hey, want to go fabric shopping?" and he says yes. 

Okay, enough disclaiming. Outtakes/fun stuff that happened along the way:
  • Discovering December Thieves. I visited both shops—in SoWa (by Grey's Fabrics and the other crafty shops) and in Beacon Hill. I loved the clothing in particular—it's very AllSaints/Rundholz/Marcy Tilton, if that's your thing. 
  • My husband at Marie Galvin: "This is awesome." Weeks later, out of all the places we visited, he's still talking about it. (Which is understandable. Her hats and headbands are amazing. If you're looking for one nice souvenir to take home, you could do worse.)
  • Going to Fabric Place Basement for the first time. At least three locals have recommended it to me over the years (quilting lady at Topsfield Fair: "You HAVE to go there. It's FABULOUS."), and they were right. It's enormous and there's a ton of apparel fabric, including flannel-lined denim, which I've never ever seen in a fabric store.
  • Guy at Fabric Place Basement: "You should see the Monique Lhullier I just got in! It's three hundred dollars a yard!" (I chickened out.)
  • The button table at Fabric Place Basement. (I cannot say enough good things about Fabric Place Basement.)

  • Important note about Fabric Place Basement directions: It's in a strip mall, and you have to drive around the back to get there. It's next to Guitar Center.
  • Finding this abstract bicycle knit at Grey's. I got the last yard and a half.

  • Finding this wacky satin-ish-with-polka-dots fabric at Winmil. It needs to be a dress; I just need to find the right pattern.

  • Fine, I'll show you what I got at Fabric Place Basement. It'll be a work shirt. Yes, I like polka dots.
Luckily, Seamwork has a whole story on how to print polka dots on knits.

Good Lord, I do go on.

Okay, I wanted to mention a few places that got cut for one reason or another (mostly for space).
  • Peabody Essex Museum, Salem: Asian, maritime, and contemporary art. (I volunteer there.)
  • Made in Fort Point: Looks like they moved, and I wasn't able to visit the new location in time...so it got cut. :(
  • Louis Boston: Ye olde famous high-end Boston department store. It's been around for 80 years...AND IT'S CLOSING. I am sadpants.
  • Viola Lovely: Near Grey's and the other SoWA shops. 
  • Priemlov: Local designer who's a friend of a friend. I like her stuff a lot.
  • MIT Press Bookstore: For the science nerds among us. I didn't have time to revisit it, but it's one of my favorite secret bookstores. 
  • Seed Stitch Fine Yarns: Also closing. :(
I think that's it for now, but I'll add more stuff as it comes up.

Thanks for reading!