Thursday, May 29, 2014

What I Sewed - And Didn't Sew - Over Memorial Day Weekend

I had four days to sew last weekend, so I gave myself a design challenge. I wanted to make something really unique, using the Nuevo Shirt pattern I've been working with this spring. I wasn't going to use any of the design elements given in the pattern - the collar, pocket, inset, etc. - and I thought I had all the fabrics lined up. This print was to be my key fabric:

It's a remnant of a crinkled blend of shirting, from Sawyer Brook. I love the colors, and it paired well with a solid black linen and a tiny black and white plaid shirting that looks gray from a distance. I had everything planned out, but something about this fabric kept gnawing at me. Then I realized what it was. The words. They're noisy. They're bold. They're anxiety producing. RUSH. URGENT. OVERNIGHT. These are not words a laid-back introvert wants to put on her body. Ever. The piece of fabric went into the red remnant box. (Yes, I keep my remnants sorted by color. It's the only way I can keep track of what I have on hand! And it's just about the only organized thing in my studio, for sure.)

So, I switched gears, and took another look through my boxes of remnants. Mind you, I had purchased black linen from Sawyer Brook and had the main shirt pieces cut out, so I wanted to continue with my plan. This time I chose this printed linen:

It, too, is bold and loud. But in an arty sort of way, one that I could live with easily. This is a huge print - the strings of green triangles are 6 to 8 inches or so long. I found a textured solid in the neon green color, and was on my way to make this awesome creation. I thought the giant print would give me great options for placement and topstitching on the solid black and all, but in the end it just befuddled me. The printed fabric is now laid out where I can look at it often, so I can figure out how to make this fabulous shirt. I'm not going to force it, because I know the key to making it work will come in time. Tomorrow I'm going to pin the fabric up on my design board so it's even more in my face. There's no giving in on this one!

So, you ask, what did I make over the long weekend? Not something unusual at all, but a very sedate, follow-the-pattern, solid color tunic.

This is Katherine Tilton's Butterick 5925, made from a bamboo jersey from Marcy Tilton (gotta keep it in the family, ya know). I like the details on this top, specifically the cool lower side pockets and the twisted neckband.

The band on the pocket uses the same technique as the neckband for making it look as though the fabric is twisted. In reality, the long edges are simply offset by a couple of inches. In other words, when folding the neckband and matching the markings, the markings are about two inches from where they normally are. It's simple to do and the look is quite chic.

I shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length. After wearing the tunic today, I wish I had made them an inch or two longer. The only other change I made was to cut the armscyes and sleeve heads a size smaller than the rest of the pattern. I'm really pleased with the fit, and it's a really comfortable top to wear. 

I'm not giving up on that arty Nuevo shirt, so keep watch here because it will be showing up eventually!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An Unlikely Favorite

One of the best things about working at Sawyer Brook is easy access to small fabric remnants. The floral print I used in this shirt was just such a remnant. Small enough that I used nearly all of it. I combined it with a white linen and a cotton stripe. The print and stripe had caught my eye while both were still on rolls, but I didn't buy them then as I thought I'd never wear a garment using the two of them. Too busy. The addition of the white convinced me to go ahead with what is now one of my favorite shirts.

The pattern I used is ReVisions' Nuevo Shirt, one of my favorites from Diane Ericson. I love the design ideas Diane included in the pattern, as well as the cool pocket inset, the two piece sleeves and the bias-cut asymmetrical collar that lays beautifully.

The pattern has long sleeves with a really cool cuff treatment. I chose to cut them short for summer wear, and inserted bias strips into the seam.

I modified the top edge of the pocket and added free motion topstitching. I really love this pocket treatment, as it's such a good opportunity for combining fabrics. It becomes the focal point of the shirt.

If you enlarge the photo above, you'll see the triangular buttons from Sawyer Brook. I've wanted to use these buttons since they first arrived at the store, and they are a perfect match to the greens in the fabrics.

I recently made another Nuevo shirt, and have yet a third in the works. Keep watch for them here!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Buggy Batik Shirt for My Mom

I've been focused on sewing fabrics from my "resource center" lately. When I came across this periwinkle blue rayon batik (bought from Sawyer Brook a few years ago), I knew it would make a perfect summer shirt for my mother.

The pattern is an out of print McCall's by Palmer and Pletsch. I used it a few years ago for a shirt for my mom, so the fitting was already done. The instructions are excellent, with pro tips scattered throughout, and dual methods for certain applications included. For example, there are two methods for attaching the collar to the garment. The first attaches only the band to the neckline, then the collar and band facing are attached. The second method constructs the collar completely, then attaches it to the neckline. I used the first method and am very happy with the results.

Of course, I couldn't resist adding some paint to this shirt. I used Diane Ericson's Bugs in Flight stencil (which I don't currently see in her web store) to add some dragonflies, moths, beetles, butterflies, etc. I like the touch of color these images add, and the way the lacy quality of the bugs combines with the shadowy batik print.

I found the perfect buttons for this print at - where else? - Sawyer Brook. I like how they blend in with the overall look.

Until my parents downsized their home last year, my mother was an avid gardener. This shirt reminds me of the numerous flower gardens she has tended throughout her lifetime. She loves to wear blue, so this will be a welcome addition to her summer wardrobe. I'll be mailing the shirt to her this week, but it will be a month or so before I get to see her wearing it. If I get a chance for a photo shoot, I'll add some shots then.


I'm still behind in getting photos of shirts I made in April. I'll try to get the shots this week so I can show them. Today I cut out a solid magenta colored bamboo jersey and started sewing Katherine Tilton's Butterick 5925. I expect to finish it tomorrow.

I hope those of you in the States are enjoying sewing during this long weekend!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hawaiian Top

I recently spent a fabulous five days on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was a company trip for my husband, and I was welcome to tag along. We were at a wonderful hotel, the Fairmont Orchid, located in a lush, 300 acre resort that sits in the middle of a huge lava flow. It's on the arid, western side of the island, and the weather is ideal for resort activities. It's quite isolated (Kona is about 45 minutes away), and we never left the property. An unusual vacation for us, as we like to sight see, but it was a grand opportunity for chilling out, which I successfully did. 
Photo from
My favorite part of our stay was snorkeling off the beach, where we saw plenty of beautiful fish and swam with several different sea turtles. They are the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, and they're endangered so approaching them isn't allowed. We did find ourselves in close proximity to them at times, and it was just such wonderful play!

This photo was taken shortly before our loooooong trip home. I wasn't eager to leave, so the smile was only for the camera. The top is Vogue 8912, made with a rayon batik from Sawyer Brook that's been in my resource center for a couple of years. We recently got the fabric again at Sawyer Brook, in case you're interested in it.

The top was an easy make, and I had no issues with the pattern. The only change I made was to eliminate the patch pockets at the bust line. They wouldn't have been very visible in this print, so I took the easy route and didn't bother with them. Not that I want to draw attention to that part of my body anyway.

I found some buttons at Sawyer Brook that are a perfect match to the mauvy/berry tones in the print.

The top is super comfy and I enjoyed wearing it out to dinner and on the flights home. I can see myself making another one of these, as it is so easy to wear.

Every time I put this on, I'll be reminded of those colorful fish and gentle turtles!

Photo from