Green Apples and Green Peas

IMG_4050 Before I get started, I feel I have some explaining to do regarding my “break” from posting. It is due to many reasons, none of which may interest you, but I have been doing home remodeling to one room in the house, which leads to much upheaval in the rest of the house. I am pretty disorganized as much of my fabric and patterns are still not at my fingertips. I have also been trying to figure out how to keep up on the posts, offer interesting sewing projects when sometimes I just want to sew and not think in terms of blogging about it. Believe me, there is a difference between sewing and sewing to blog about it. Since I do it all, I have been thinking about ways to stream line and ease the process. I also have such a extensive collection …(hoarder) of patterns, that sometimes I want to make those oldies but goodies that are out of print. Is that just frustrating to read about a fantastic pattern that is no longer available?? When other sewing bloggers do it, I figure I MUST have that patterns somewhere….

There may be more outfits on the mannequin just to speed up the post publishing, so here I am back in the saddle. I hope the posts will still be inspirational yet shorter and more concise. So I will start up with one of the beauties from an independent pattern company….

Here is the Midtown Trench Coat pattern from Indygo Junction. I would include a link, but sadly, it is no longer available. Bummer! I call it my apple green trench because it is that exact color. The necklace is self made from beads purchased at the Tucson Gem Show. Green agate the size of green peas. (More about the necklace below). It may not be the best color on me, but I spotted this fabric at Walmart of all places and thought it might be cute made up in this retro-inspired coat.   It was cotton, 45″ wide and inexpensive. WIN! I thought it would be good practice (muslin) fabric to try out the pattern. It has a red slub stripe running though it which I wanted to feature on the bias cut cuffs and collar.

3/4

3/4″ Sleeves, Bias Cuffs, Side Seam Pockets

I think I like the back the best. The pleats add so much interest and resembles the back of a swing coat.

Back View, Midtown Trench

Back View, Midtown Trench

The line drawings show the slight differences. I chose to insert the pockets into the side seams, but the patch pockets look great, too.  I made the shorter thigh length (32″) instead of to the knee.  I wear it with dark denim and a tank.

Back view of the Midtown Trench

Back view of the Midtown Trench

Green Apple Trench, DIY necklace, Hobby Lobby Buttons

Green Apple Trench, DIY necklace, Hobby Lobby Buttons

Amy Barickman, the founder of Indygo Junction, partners with Mary Ann Donze to make these great patterns available. I have about 5-6 patterns of theirs that I want to make up. When I attended the Sewing and Stitching Expo in Puyallup, WA, Amy was at her booth wearing the Mod Top and Tunic, and she looked so cute.   There is nothing like seeing a sample made up to sucker me into buying the pattern!

Click here again to see the different ways this looks made up in cotton quilting fabrics. I suppose any other medium weight woven fabric would work. Check out the other patterns on the site. You may find something that you can’t wait to try.
IMG_4050Buttons are from Hobby Lobby, and the collar, cuffs and facing are interfaced. There is a slight princess line shaping down the front. The pleats in the back are sewn right down the crease (my choice, not on instructions) to help keep the edges sharp.
Necklace: I’ve been wanting a light green necklace for some time now. I spotted these beads and envisioned them in a simple, multi-strand collar style necklace. The cones and toggle were also purchased at the gem show.
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Green Jasper, 8mm

Green Jasper, 8mm

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18″ Five Strand Necklace

Do you ever get compelled by a color that works it’s way into your wardrobe?

Shades of Olive Jacket Kit

Dana's Shades of Olive Jacket with Semi-Precious Stone Lariat Necklace

Dana’s Shades of Olive Jacket with Semi-Precious Stone Lariat Necklace

I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with my mom at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington last year at about this time (Feb/Mar), and I’m a little sad I didn’t go this year. It was my first sewing expo out of Arizona and I wanted to share one aspect in more detail with you.

One of the big highlights was meeting Linda MacPhee, a patterns designer, teacher, sewing enthusiast, vendor, among other talents. Here is a jacket kit I purchased from her after seeing the kit and the finished product. From the list of presenters for 2014, I don’t think Linda attended this year, but she still offers the pattern in two color choices on her website here. If you have a moment, check out the website for the Expo for 2015. It is fun to look at the sight to get a taste of all that is available. I highly recommend attending if you want to be surrounded by sewing enthusiasts, great instructors and an ‘seamingly’-never-ending supply of vendors and supplies. It’s exhausting!

Linda MacPhee and Dana Belasco in Puyallup, WA 2013

Linda MacPhee and Dana Belasco in Puyallup, WA 2013

The catchy title of ‘Shades of Gray’ was a deliberate attempt to get the attention of customers and cause them to stop by the booth and ask questions about this art-to-wear jacket. Here we are at her booth and advertising her gray jacket kit. She was such a delight to meet in person. I have been a member of the American Sewing Guild, Tucson Chapter in years past and had heard that she had come to our city of offer classes and demos, but for some reason, I never attended. It was my loss. She is so friendly and warm.  My mom and I must have said the right things because we were asked to be models in Linda’s fashion show on the main stage!

After getting to talk to her, Linda conveyed that sewing needs to be to simplified, making it as easy as possible to open up to new and different ways to be creative. Sometimes, we get in our own way and complicate a pattern’s process, or get intimidated before even starting something and as a result, never get it off the ground and finished. So…….this jacket has taken a year to complete!  More about why later in the post.

Linda prepares the kits herself by providing various remnant squares of fabrics from her suppliers.  The kit fabrics have the weight and feel of home decorator and stretch woven fabrics.   The additional fabric needed is the sleeve fabric of your choice.   Linda chose a heavy sweater knit for her sleeves because she lives in Canada and wanted extra warmth. I selected a black cotton/poly knit remnant from my stash.  This kit requires some planning and prep to make this jacket come alive.

Somehow, she knows how much fabric to provide as well as a zipper, pattern, and creative suggestions in the instructions. The idea is to come up with your own configuration. Basically, you are creating the fabric for the jacket like a puzzle. The placement of all fabrics need to look right and balanced and pleasing to the eye. It can also be a great way to use up some laces and trims as well as any other fabric remnants from the stash.

Linda MacPhee Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

Linda MacPhee Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

As you can see, she added lace, stitching, a rhinestone encrusted zipper, and a creative assortment of related and coordinating fabrics
'Shades of Gray' Back View, Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

‘Shades of Gray’ Back View, Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

Below is Linda’s sample of the olive jacket to help customers see how the pieces can come together. In the background, you can see all of the MacPhee Workshop patterns stacked and ready for sale.   There is so much to take in!  There are great garment samples from her various patterns made up for the sole purpose to try them on for size and fit.   She offers guidance with pattern selection to suit your lifestyle needs.   Some garments hang on racks for sale made up out of fabrics available at her booth.   She is so generous with her techniques and tips it is hard to not get so excited and grab the next available sewing machine in sight and get started.
'Shades of Olive' Sample Jacket

‘Shades of Olive’ Sample Jacket

Back view of partially finished Shades of Olive sample jacket

Back view of partially finished Shades of Olive sample jacket

Selvage and lace used on back

Selvage and lace used on back

Here, Linda used the selvage and lace to add interest and texture to the back. It can also be a way to hide the butting of a seam or blend two fabrics together.
Textured fabrics paired at sleeve and back

Textured fabrics paired at sleeve and back

These two fabrics were very different and yet coordinated nicely. One is a flocked printed denim and the other is a scrolled design with a reversible side.
Two-pieced sleeve and princess seamed sides

Two-pieced sleeve and princess seamed sides

The pattern Linda chose to include in the kit features the two pieced sleeve and princess seams to not only allow a better fit, but another opportunity to combine more fabrics in small doses to add interest.

So here is my jacket. At a glance, they look alike, but they are very different.  My mom provided a scrap of fabric that I used throughout, like on the right pocket. I also added laces of different widths at seam joints.  I suppose no two jackets could be the same because the fabric in the kits may vary and the arrangement of them will be different for every person.IMG_2651
IMG_2654You can see the back side pieces are from the same scrap fabric from my mom, only reversed. It has a slight gold fleck in it and looked great on both sides so I had to find a way to show both sides. Plus, it blended well with all of the other fabrics.
IMG_2655So why did it take me a whole year to complete? Well, I was moving right along without a hitch with the fabric piecing, but had difficulty getting the sleeves to set properly.  I’m not sure if I didn’t mark the reference points right or what, but I didn’t notice they weren’t in correctly until they had been sewn and serged.  They didn’t hang properly and had to be ripped out. I got discouraged, and frankly, allowed myself to get distracted by other sewing projects. It sat until I forced myself to tackle some of my UFO’s (UnFinished Objects).
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I hope this post inspires you to look at your patterns and fabrics in a new way. Maybe there is the possibility of a hidden jacket ‘kit’ in your stash.

Now, for the lariat necklace. If you want to know more about it, click here to get the details.

McCalls 5890 Coordinates

IMG_2349If you are looking for a coordinates pattern that has casual and a bit dressy,this may be it. There will be more about this pattern to come but for now, this post is about the dress because it features princess seams resulting in a great fit. This must be a successful pattern for McCalls because I have seen it in the books for quite a while. (Something I use to determine successful patterns).IMG_2357IMG_2384I’ve added a picture of my doggy-eared pattern for a quick look and a link to check it out from the pattern book. The newest pattern book features this pattern made up in a geometric fabric in addition to the leopard print and it made me take a second look. Talk about great components for a travelling capsule! I have also made the sweater from the pattern (blog post coming soon) but chose to wear a shrug from Old Navy (old) instead to see if I liked it better. I think the proportions are better with flat boots. But back to the dress…
IMG_2351The sleeves are cut outward toward the shoulder which helps with the hour glass shape of the dress. The neckline is scooped just right. I cut the size 14 and took it in a little through the waist. No zipper, just pull it over the head. I serged the hem and did a blind hem to give it some weight.
IMG_2354Okay, so the back view is not too complimentary, but you get the idea of the dress silhouette. I prefer wearing heels with most dresses, but since winter is approaching, my flat black Target boots (also old) are just too comfortable for all-day-on-my-feet activities.
IMG_2378I purchased this fabric at my local mill end store in two remnant pieces. The all over knit print of the dress has pink, aqua, white, fuchsia dots in various sizes. Notice they are not the colors of my palette? Oh well. I was drawn to the simple print because it would not be interrupted by the princess seams. Hemming it at the knee gives me more options for year round wear. Too short would mean only leggings and I wanted to be able to wear this with booties and tights, flat or heeled boots, pumps and a structured blazer, etc.

As you follow my blog, you will notice I gravitate to quick and successful sewing projects that can be worn year round. I live in a hot climate and need separates that are great for layering. Like most women, squeezing in sewing time is a challenge. Sewing projects need to be fun and rewarding. I have a short attention span for each project and I am always tempted to start something new. There is too much fabric and not enough time!

Simplicity 4032 Fleece Jacket In July

Simplicity 4032

Simplicity 4032

It’s summer in Tucson and the recommended class is a fleece jacket! As a teacher for Jo-Ann’s, I teach projects selected by the corporation.  I often wonder what is involved in the decisions when projects are selected. There is not enough time allotted in class for cutting out or making any fitting adjustments, which is a crucial part of the learning process for beginners. The end of class is spent explaining the finishing steps necessary to complete the project at home. My preference is that students get to bring home a completed project. How many of us have enough UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) at home already?

Anyway, Tucson can’t be the only area with over 100 degree temperatures, and yet this was the project to offer at the beginning level. On one of my recent visits to buy notions, I noticed how many customers were in line buying fleece!  Who knew? Planning for the Fall projects, I suppose.

The view required for class is View A. This is an unlined jacket with some raw edges. Finishing seams with a serger or zig zag is optional but not necessary. It has great princess seams and a classic shape. Because the fleece is a little stretchy and very forgiving, setting the collar and sleeves can be done with little frustration. Small pockets can be added to hold keys or tissue, etc.

What are some of the my and hints?
Because you asked:
1.) To keep seams to lay flat, I serged and top stitched them down to finish it nicely.
2.) Be sure to cut as carefully as possible so that there are no jagged edges ( or maybe use a rotary cutter/mat on the exposed edges if you want).
3.) The bow detail on the collar is a styling option. It is removable or it can be left off completely to have a standard shawl collar.
4.) Consider view A in a tweed if you’re looking for a retro look.
5.) The collar edges will have to be finished somehow or lined. Any of these styles will look great for early fall/winter layer over a tank or tee.

Simplicity 4032

Simplicity 4032

Back View of Simplicity 4032

Back View of Simp 4032

Up Close View Of Bow, Raw Edges

Up Close View Of Bow, Raw Edges

6.) The bow consists of two tie pieces inserted into a slice in the upper jacket area and then tied with the collar enclosed in the knot. The nice touch here is that you can remove the ties and smooth out the collar and the slice does not show because it is under the shawl collar.

So even though it is a warm fabric to work with when the air conditioning is tirelessly working away, I suppose it is a good idea to plan now to have something sewn and ready for the chilly weather to arrive. This might explain why I am often not prepared for the upcoming season with newly sewn items!

This is a quick jacket to whip up and is great for gifts for friends who walk early in the morning, or need a layer to wear to the gym. Because it is an easy care fabric, you can keep it in the car for the unexpected weather change. I will consider making up any of these styles again.