2018 Top 5 – Hits, Misses, and Highlights

It is that magical time again: Top 5 season! I had hoped to have this post (and the next one) done before the end of the year, but you can see how well that worked out! #sorrynotsorry But better late than never!

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If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll know I look forward to this every year, as it’s a great opportunity to look back on my past year of sewing and see how my naive set-last-year goals materialized (or didn’t) and evaluate how valuable all my projects really were. And I love a good navel-gazing postmortem on my year, if I’m honest. ๐Ÿ˜‰ As per usual, I will do 2 posts instead of 5 for this, since I find they group together well this way. But first,ย SEWING STATS!

In 2017, I managed to sew a whopping (for me)ย 31 things. One of my goals for 2018 was to meet or surpass that; if I count every single garment I made, I did it! 2018’s grand total was 39–a 25% increase over last year. (It would be 40 if I counted my hand-knitted sweater, but I’m keeping this count sewing-only.)

2018 Sewing Projects

(Sorry the chart is tiny–it won’t get any bigger for some reason!)

Categories are:

Tops – Medium Blue (7)
Skirts – Orange (1)
Pants – Gray (6)
Dresses – Yellow (7)
Layers – Light Blue (5)
Costume – Green (2)
Friends & Family (F&F) – Dark Blue (11)

That’s a pretty good mix of things! Obviously the F&F category was by far my biggest single category last year, and I was a little surprised when I tallied that up. None of those 11 items have been blogged, though. 4 of those items were adaptive shirts for a friend I love as she dealt with treatment for and recovery from a serious illness, 1 was a Driftless cardigan for that same badass friend, and the other 6 are for my main squeeze-slash-personal paparazzi, Tom. His were all those baseball t-shirts that I’ve made him before–he knows what he likes! I don’t have photos of the specialized tops or gifted Driftless of course, so you’ll just have to take my word on those! Neither do I have photos of Tom’s finished t-shirts all together, but here are the photos I do have of them:

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#1 of 6, before thread trimming and a final pressing…

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These eventually became full-fledged t-shirts

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The very shitty but very helpful diagram I made to help me remember what pieces to cut from which colors…

I’m proud to report that, apart from periods of extreme temperatures, these t-shirts get worn all the time! (And are still complimented frequently by his friends and co-workers, which blows my mind.)

The category with the most growth over 2017 was Dresses, and Tops had the biggest decrease in count YOY. I did fail to blog a few tops, and one of those I still can’t show you because it was a pattern test and it is unreleased as of this writing. I CAN NOW POST THAT BLOG BECAUSE TODAY IS ACTUALLY RELEASE DAY!!! So look out for that!

You’ll note 2 more new categories for last year: Costume and Layers. Costume is exactly what it sounds like, and Layers are things like cardigans. You saw one costume piece in thisย recent post, and the other was something I made to sell so I have no photos of that one for you. Once again, I failed to blog 4 of my 5 Layers pieces, but here they are along with the aforementioned unblogged tops:

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4 Driftless Cardigans

Overall I was pleasantly surprised to see a mostly even distribution of my output in 2018 (sorry, skirts! I swear I love you). Now that we’ve done the stats, here are my Top 5 Hits:

Top 5 Hits

  1. Lander Pants
  2. Ariana Dresses
  3. Otari Hoodie
  4. Tamara Top
  5. Heather Dress

The Landers were far and away my biggest wardrobe Hit last year–I wore them so much!! I am planning a few more pairs for 2019 also. My Ariana dresses and Otari hoodie were straight-up staples also, and the Otari has the added bonus of being my first-ever pattern test. The Tamara is perfect for wearing with jeans on in-between days during Spring and Fall (and I feel very cute in it), and the Heather dress is perfect winter garb on days where I want toย look a little nicer but still be comfortable. I already made that pattern again (something about January makes me realize I need Heathers, apparently) and I’m probably not done with this pattern yet! โค

Now, unlike 2017, I don’t have any outright FAILS for last year–yay! But I will choose my least-successful projects and rank them, because why not?

Top 5 4 Misses

  1. Jailbird Hudson Pants (unblogged)
  2. Gray Driftless Cardigan (unblogged)
  3. Adaptive T-Shirt Mk. II (unblogged)
  4. Obnoxious Yellow & Navy Hemlock
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The aforementioned Hudson pants and Hemlock tee serving their purpose

First of all, let me just say that all of the above items were worn multiple times. The first two are failures of fabrication: the Hudson pants were made from a fabric with no vertical stretch, so they’re not the most comfortable things to wear; the gray fabric of the cardigan has NO recovery and I swear to The Almighty Bobs that it is not long for this world.

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OBEY THE BOBS!!!

As for the adaptive t-shirt, there was one version that just did NOT want to get snaps installed in it–literal holes were torn in this knit top in the struggle with the snaps, and even then there were still pokey edges in a few places. I felt like a very lousy friend handing that one over (“Hey, sorry about your health crisis but maybe stabbing yourself with snap prongs will help you forget about it, urwelcomekthanxbai!”), but having only made 4 total tops I figured it was better to hand it over than not. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Bless my friend, she wore it anyway and still speaks to me. #itsamiracle And the Hemlock, while perfectly wearable, is just not something I like wearing in public between the shape and the color; it has been demoted to sleepwear, which is a pretty good outcome actually.

With the business out of the way, let’s move on to Highlights!

Top 5 Highlights

  1. Personal Knitting Triumphs – In 2018, I tackled cables and made my first sweater! I also met my personal goal of completing at least 13 knitting projects last year, which is very exciting. I actually surpassed that goal also, getting to 15 finished projects. Spoiler: they were mostly socks. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  2. MOAR REMODELING!!!!! – This is barely less exciting for me than my knitting, people: we got so much work done! I am hoping to do a separate post to show you everything eventually but for now, here is a list of what we did: refinished the upstairs floors, replaced the front and rear entry doors, totally revamped the landscaping out front, replaced the porch roof, and replaced the kitchen ceiling. And as a small-but-mighty bonus, we also had our guest room painted (a mere 7 years after moving in…yikes). Whew! The floors are the most staggering achievement, simply because they offer the biggest transformation IMO. (The landscaping is a very close 2nd there.) Plus it’s a great feeling as a lover of old houses to be able to restore something to its former glory after decades of wear and abuse. I can’t wait to show you everything!!
  3. Abbey 1, Student Loans 0 – I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS LAST YEARRRRRRR. For real, I don’t like parties but this made meย almost want to throw one. I was able to pay them off early (by like, 8 and 11 months respectively, but still) and it still feels weird not to have to pay them every month. Full disclosure: I was one of the lucky ones. I had very little student debt to begin with compared to my peers (being a nerd can literally pay), and was some-crazy-how able to land a good job right out of college at the start of The Great Recession and remain gainfully employed full-time in the years since. Having said that, I reserve the right to party my metaphorical n*ts off over this achievement!
  4. Tales From The Crypt Redux – I mentioned this in a previous post, but I was honored to take part in this event again, and not as an emergency understudy. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This time, my “character” was a talented 23-year-oldย  young lady who took part in Ziegfeld productions on Broadway during the Roaring 20s. It was a privilege to tell our guests about her (albeit a hard thing to do, since this is a mausoleum). I hope I did her some justice, if not in looks (she won many beauty contests…this is not my reality LOL!) then in showing her bubbly personality and love of her work and life. Eerily, this young lady very nearly got cast as Ramon Novarro’s leading lady in a movie (she was too tall for him!), and our production was mere days before the 50th anniversary ofย his death. Spooky!
  5. Family – I know, I hit this one every year! But last year was a big one: Tom and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. โค We also still have all three fluffy kids, which with Tycho’s age and medical history is never a guarantee. (He’s crankier than ever ๐Ÿ˜‰ , and 2018 was also his 10th “Adoptiversary” and that was a wonderful milestone.) 2018 brought many challenges for us, from Tom’s job uncertainty to some private family issues that I won’t get into here; I’m glad that we’ve been there for each other and can laugh together, like andย love each other, play MarioKart, and talk shit about people who deserve it together! ๐Ÿ˜‰
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Big ugly sweater!!

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My first-ever cabled project on its very satisfied owner!

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That’s right: I made cowls for my sister’s bassets. I’mย that knitter, apparently.

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This isn’t even all the socks I knit last year–2 pairs aren’t photographed!! xD

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Remodeling sneaky-peek; this is definitely a “Before” photo!

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Fffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccckkkkkk YESSSSSSSSS

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Fancy lady

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Familyyyyyy

Well, that does it for my first Top 5 post for 2018! I’ll be back soon with my Reflections and Goals post, just as soon as I finish writing it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 

“Dress”ing for Winter

Hello, everyone!

One of my wardrobe goals of late has been to add some suitable-for-cold-weather dresses to my rotation. I had a few old RTW ones, but they’ve either gotten worn out, stained, or are wayyyy too body-con for the office! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Without better options, I tend to revert to jeans; that’s fine of course, but sometimes you want to feel a bit more stylish to counteract the bleak weather. This month, I have managed to make 2 such dresses–hooray!!

This first garment has been a long time in the planning, but I only just got around to sewing it. Without further ado, here is my version of Butterick 6388 (Beware: yet ANOTHER striped garment ahead–my 4th this year!)

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My face does not reflect how I feel about this dress!

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Hand swish!

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“Oh, this old thing?” ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Back view, very nearly perfectly matched. =/

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Collar close-up (again, so close to perfectly lined up!)

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Back yoke close-up

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Side view (now with 100% more derp)

We took these photos at the same time as those in my last post, so apologies again for the scenery (or lack thereof). And pay no mind to my hair looking layered or feathered–it’s a trick of the flash behind me, and my hair is the same as always. (That is, totally t*ts awesome.) But anyway, back to business!

I have to admit that I don’t usually connect with Butterick designs. However, I loved this pattern the minute it came out: the collar, the angled front pieces, the back yoke, and pockets all make it a cool take on the “athleisure” trend. (Hell, I like the entire wardrobe included in the envelope–who am I?!?!?!?) At first, I had my heart set on a white version–it wouldn’t get much more winter-y than that, eh?–but decided to use this striped french terry instead at the last minute. Why? Well, I do love me some stripes, and this pattern has plenty of opportunities to play with direction(s)! But I was also nervous about such a high, close-fitting collar in solid white fabric: my hair is not safe for white collars in the first week or so after coloring! But having made this pattern now, I think it might be okay–the collar doesn’t come up as close to my hairline as I expected, in part because my neck has #giraffegoals. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Giraffe Goals

Basically me. (You’re welcome.) #giraffegoals

giraffe in the wild

See? I fit right in. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Sorry-not-sorry, guys. I had to do it.)

I had some fun with my photos AND the stripes on this dress, for sure. My french terry only stretches in one direction, but I figured it was forgiving enough to use the vertical layout on the front triangle pieces and the back yoke, which it was. I did sew the side seams at a 3/8″ allowance below the waist just to be safe though; they are sewn at the given 5/8″ everywhere else. This pattern is pretty simple to make, with the trickiest parts being the back yoke and the pockets (of which more in a moment). The yoke is easy to install if you’ve ever put a knit sleeve in flat, though!

About the pockets: I don’t have them in this dress, which is a big disappointment. I put them in, thinking I wasย soooooo smart for using the aforementioned white knit for one half of each pocket to prevent stripe show-through. Unfortunately, I got the pieces flipped around, resulting in a big white section right at the pocket opening, grr! I tried unpicking them but between the loops of the terry and my matching thread, that wasn’t happening. (I had sewn them using my sewing machine and a narrow zig-zag.) I cut them out and reinserted them the other way around, then finished up the sleeves, collar, and side seams so I could try the dress on. Aaaaand the pockets were hideous!!! (Well, not aesthetically: I stripe-matched the shit out of them!) They were super gape-y and sloppy-looking. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So in the end, I cut them out AGAIN and sewed the openings shut. Perhaps they would sit better without all the extra ripping and trimming I had to do, but I don’t know. So at any rate, no pockets for Mads this time.

I honestly can’t remember if I lengthened this dress or not–whoops!! I blame the pocket fiasco and the fact that I made this dress a few weeks ago. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If I did, it wasn’t by much. (I am about 5’8″, but have short limbsย for my height–giraffe hopes dashed, LOL.) I took 5/8″ for the hem, and the same for the sleeves.

There was enough of this vaguely-prison-striped fabric left to cut out a pair of Hudson pants, which is exciting. I did have to piece the waistband (and take some liberties with stripe matching on the pockets), but that’s a small price to pay for a nice pair of sweatpants in my book. ๐Ÿ˜€

So that’s one very “jailbird chic” dress down, but I have one more for you: the Sew Over It Heather dress!

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Winter white Heather dress! (My legs are down there, I swear!!)

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Oooh, moody!

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Less moody, more bitchy. xD

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Pockets!!

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Back view (and yes, I will be steaming this after seeing these photos!)

I am wearing black tights in these photos but the black backdrop was necessary to show the dress, so you can’t see my legs!! Trust me: they’re there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I mentioned my interest in this pattern in my last post and didn’t wait long to buy it. (I wrote both of these posts together, starting them a couple of weeks ago.) I actually joined the SOI PDF Club; you get a free PDF pattern for joining (and if you join before Feb 9, you can pick ANY PDF pattern, not just a PDF-Only one), and the cost of joining was less than the cost of the Heather pattern, even after the discount they’ll give you for signing up initially. (And if you were wondering, I did use that code…to get a discount on the PDF Club membership, because SOI is awesome and allows that. ๐Ÿ˜€ ) I shopped smart, y’all. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have to say, I am really impressed with SOI thus far. I don’t know how many of the PDF Club designs will appeal to me, but I’ve been very happy with the two patterns I’ve made and with my shopping experience.

Anyway, you probably want to hear about my Heather dress now! This design is so perfect for F/W here in Ohio. For this version–there will be others!–I used the off-white french terry I had considered for B6388. It’s a little lighter weight than the stripes but still plenty thick for a dress. The construction was very straightforward, but of course the pockets are the trickiest part. I did those steps on my sewing machine just to be safe, and serged the seam allowances after. Apart from needing a good pressing/steaming and the dreaded white-on-white show-through, I think they turned out pretty well! Part of me wishes I had thought to topstitch the princess seams though–next time, maybe. The shoulders areย just a bit broad for me, but I expect it’s down to the size I made (and grading principles). It bears mentioning that I made the UK 8, the smallest size; in reality, I need a smaller size in most areas but wasn’t concerned about the fit being a little more relaxed. However, I am pleased to report that the sleeve caps did not have excessive ease in them, which influenced my gushing above.

As for alterations, I added 2″ of length to the pattern at the hemline but that was not necessary! I ended up taking it all back off following a try-on before I hemmed the dress, and then I took a 1″ hem. I should have just measured the dress itself but was influenced by the sample photo on Lisa, which is quite brief! I’m not sure if they altered the pattern to achieve that length or if she herself is just particularly tall. Oh well, no harm done–better too long than too short, right? I did lengthen the 3/4 length sleeves by about 1″, and took 5/8″ for the hem there. I also sewed the side seams from the pockets to the hem at 3/8″ instead of 5/8″ just to be safe, but needn’t have done that in the end. Next time, I will just use the 5/8″ all the way down; I will also probably shorten the next one and bring the shoulders in slightly.

Once again, I’ve got leftovers from this project. O_o It’s a lot of leftovers, too: my material is 1.75 yards wide, PLUS I bought 3 yards of it. I can’t decide what to make with it, but I’m really hoping I’ve got enough left for 2 tops! I know for sure that I want one with a collar; I’m thinking Talvikki or the top version of B6388.ย What do you think I should make??? Sound off in the comments!

And you people KNOW there are other non-giraffe outtakes, right? Right:

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Testing the stretch factor!

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Nifty blue post-filter

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Half-hearted “Vogue”ing

Jailbird photos for jailbird stripes! (Obviously the best one!!)

There you are: 2 winter-friendly dresses! I admit that neither of them are particularly figure-flattering (hellooooooooo, swayback + hip/waist ratio!) but they are warm and stylish and comfy. I think that keeping them shorter helps–it helps me *feel* less dumpy, anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I haven’t worn my Heather dress yet apart from photos but I’ll wear it how I’ve styled it here, with tights and boots.

Hopefully I will be back here soon with more nifty things! I’ve got plans, though we’ll see what I end up showing you next time–it could be sweatpants or shirts or jeans, or just blatherings about other plans. Let’s hope for the former, shall we? Thanks for reading!

Do you have a “cold weather uniform”? Would you ever Photoshop yourself for the sake of a joke?ย ๐Ÿ˜‰ย How many yards of a fabric do you buy when you haven’t got immediate plans for it?ย 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Tops!

Hi there! I want to start by saying “Thanks!” to all of you who read and commented on my 2017 Top 5 posts: I enjoy sharing a year-end recap, but it’s so heartening that people read them and take the time to leave a comment. And while I’m at it, a massive “THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!” to anyone who read or commented on this blog over the course of the past year! My sewing friends–online, on social media, and in real life–add so much joy and inspiration to my life, and I hope I am able to do even a fraction of the same in return. โค

And now, on with the show!

It seems that, for the second year running, I will be starting a new year of project posts with multiple knit tops! But unlike last year, all three tops in today’s post have something in common: stripes!! First up: the Molly top by Sew Over It!

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“Are you taking the photo now?”

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Back!

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Side, with poor stripe matching on full display.

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Tilt

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Sass

Sorry about these relatively boring (but still very high-quality, IMO) photos, guys–I vastly prefer outdoor shots, but the weather was far too cold and snowy for me to risk it this time. Tom was also messing with his lighting and flash options, which resulted in some unusually crisp shadows. (We don’t Photoshop around here unless we’re doing something really obvious–this ain’t a magazine shoot.)

This top is actually my final garment for 2017–I cut it (and the other 2 below) out on 12/30, and somehow sewed it up completely before noon on 12/31!! Not at all what I planned or expected, but that’s what happens when you’re up at 5:30AM*, even on days off: you get shit done! ๐Ÿ˜‰

*And you also have a serger

As basic as it is, this pattern was one that I was excited about, for a few reasons. First, because I’d never used a SOI pattern before–I was eager to see what they were like, how they fit, and how I felt about the resulting garment. Second, because I bought this fabric and wanted a different pattern to showcase the stripes. (Is it just me, or are stripes of this scale oddly difficult to match to a pattern choice?) I love my Lark tees–and totally intend to make one with what’s left of this material–but I wanted something that looked a bit more unique in stripes. Finally, I figured if I liked the top version of Molly, I would be able to crack on with a dress version eventually!

So first impressions: the pattern printed a little oddly for me, but not in any way that negatively impacted the scaling or fit. I think it’s more to do with UK vs. US paper formats, because even scaled at 100%, I ended up with a weird section of overlap on the edges of each page. But it was simple enough to just cut that section off, once I realized that it wasn’tย supposed to be there! My other first impression was that the pieces looked really wide compared to the not-at-all-oversized finished versions I’d seen people make. But I quickly realized that I didn’t know what the seam allowance was, and sure enough, a trip to Google revealed that it’s 5/8″. Mystery solved!ย And while we’re discussing first impressions, I should note that I got this pattern for free; I can’t remember where I got it, but it was from a link multiple months ago that I saw online someplace–again, I can’t remember as it’s been a while! Rest assured that 1.) this is not an affiliation thing and 2.) I came by the freebie legitimately, as far as I know.ย 

I had a heck of a time with this material! (It’s a rayon/lycra jersey, which I’ve used before with not nearly this much fuss!) No matter what I did, the yardage was distorting each time I tried to place and weight my pattern pieces. On top of that, fusing interfacing to my hems was awful! I actually had to stand there, pressing my iron down firmly and holding it there for 20-30 seconds or the fusible would not melt into the fabric. I have used the same knit interfacing many times before (from the same cut) and have never had this happen; as such, I am prepared to blame my fabric for this difficulty rather than my interfacing.

Since I struggled to get the fabric to lay still and stay on-grain easily, I didn’t do a great job matching stripes in the end. My sleeves look pretty good though, and I LOVE how the neckband came out! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m not too bothered by the poor matching at the shoulders and side seams, though perhaps I’d have done better if I took a break from the project instead of forging ahead with the cutting. #YOLO

The only alteration I made to this pattern was to add a little bit of extra hem allowance. I think it’s meant to be longer, but I am glad I left it as-is: tunic-esque tops feel awkward on me. My only real complaint about the pattern itself, apart from those seam allowances (have you ever tried to serge rayon/lycra jersey with 5/8″ allowances?!?!?!? It’s soooo annoying!), is the length of the lower sleeves–they come up a bit short on me, and I’m not in possession of particularly long limbs. But going by the sample garment photos at SOI’s website, it actually looks like this is the length they intend for them to be, but having a free pattern-only (no instructions or line art) version, I can’t be sure. But that aside, I love my Molly top! I might make the dress version, although I’m not sure how much I’d love it in a solid fabric–it would be pretty plain. I would really like to buy the Heather dress pattern next, as I love the front panel with integrated pockets; I also think that pattern shines in solids, whereas Molly probably looks better in stripes since the dolman sleeves are the only real design lines. That’s my $0.02, anyway!

Next up is a pattern I have made once before, but not for a few years: the Tamara top from Style Arc!

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Always Be Primping

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Front view

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Back view

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Side!

This one is quite a bit more tasteful than my first version, LOL! I had enough of my striped bamboo jersey left to doย something with it, but not quite an entire garment. (THE WORST!!) Luckily I remembered this pattern! I have a few yards of a (slightly darker) plain navy bamboo jersey, so I decided to use that for the angled pieces. Speaking of which, the passage of time really made me forget how annoying those shoulder insets were to sew, haha! They definitely aren’t identical but I’m hoping non-sewers won’t even notice.

Style Arc assumes you’ll use the same material for the front bodice piece and the neckband, but I wanted plain navy for the neckband instead. (There were plenty of stripes already!) And I forgot about the sleeve construction, so my genius intentions to put the sleeves in flat didn’t work out–they had to go in round. Luckily SA understands that you don’t need 2″ of ease in a close-fitting knit sleeve cap–more like 0″–so they went in with no trouble at all, just like last time.

Finally, I made a Hemlock tee!

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Seems legit (Also, damn my bangs are getting long!!)

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So much fabric!

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Side (stripes match decently this time!!)

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Yikes.

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“Chop chop buddy, I don’t have all night!!”

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Always Be Primping, Round 2

This is a freebie pattern from Grainline; I’ve had it for a while but hadn’t made it yet! I used the same fabric for this tee that I used for a different Grainline pattern, the Lark, late last year. I added maybe 1/2″ of length to the body pieces here, but that’s it. The pattern has 1/4″ seam allowances, so it’s perfect for zipping through a serger. It’s a really comfortable and relaxed tee; I actually think it would make a nice pajama top. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Otherwise, there isn’t much to say!

Here are some outtakes for all y’all, as is customary:

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Angry stretchy shirt

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Abb’s Abs

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Dancing?

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Senior Portrait Pose

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Giggles

There you have it: 3 new tops, all in stripes! (Have I mentioned that I love stripes? Because I do.) I have 2 other projects to share with you also, and that post is coming very shortly. (And one of them is also striped…) I’ve been busy and have plenty of plans for more Winter sewing as well; I’m thinking of putting together a planning post to share my ideas with you all, but who knows if I will do that or not. (Perhaps my focus should be on just sewing stuff, rather than navel-gazing about sewing stuff. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Have you gotten off to a running start with your sewing projects in 2018? How do you feel about stripes? Do you find that sharing your ideas or plans helps you solidify them?ย