Monday Outfit: Werebear?

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Good morning, friends! I present you the down-to-the-wire, who-knows-what-the-heck-this-is costume. I cut out the main faux fur on Halloween eve, then petered out after an hour, and finally put it all together with additional fake fur trimming after school just in time for a 6:30pm trick-or-treat meet-up with friends. Despite my attempt to make a werewolf ensemble, when K tried on the in-progress costume, she exclaimed, “Oh, it looks like a bear! I love it!”

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I’ve decided to call it a werebear. Or maybe it’s a bobwolf, since the hat — which was something my mom brought for K a couple of years ago — looks bobcat-ish.

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This came together surprisingly quickly because it’s essentially faux fur pajamas. At this point, I can easily self-draft a long-sleeve tee and a pair of leggings in my sleep. The trickiest part was sewing the fur trim around the neck and sleeve cuffs (so, so, SO messy) and I worked my machine hard with all the bulky layers. I used the main fabric as the facing for the trim, and that worked like a charm. The neck trim is actually a backwards collar so that K can get her noggin in and out with ease — the trim wasn’t quite as stretchy as the main fabric.

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The fabric is super cool. It’s nice and stretchy like a regular knit and has all these scar-like designs that look almost burned/branded and I thought, “jackpot!” when I saw it. The texture is closer to velvet, but it’s decidedly fur-looking. I got it from here when the request was still a wolverine. I guess I imagined a cute yet battle-worn wolverine. I know, just go with it. I love how K decided to put the attached paws onto her feet up there.

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The tail elicited a lot of guffaws since it looks unmistakably like poo. I’d bought into the bear idea by the time the tail phase came up, so I cut out a circular piece of the main fabric, basted the perimeter and cinched it to create a rounded tail. The top is pretty long and could potentially cover my masterpiece of a hind end, so I positioned the tail lower than I normally would. The result, I must admit, was quite unfortunate.

werebear8Though the exact animal identification is dubious at best, K adores this costume and she wore the top all weekend. That’s always the best endorsement a sewing mama can experience. For a last minute hack job, I’m sort of preening with pride at how well it all turned out. An additional bonus was that the costume kept her warm while we dashed about the neighborhood collecting exorbitant amounts of candy (in fact, K complained that she was getting hot and sweaty).

The most memorable candy giver was a young couple with a folding card table set-up on a street corner. They weren’t dressed up or anything, and they hadn’t decorated the table, but had a nice bowl of candy available for the kids. They seemed genuinely impressed with all the costumes and had a kind word to say to every child. It was a bit confusing and sort of weird, but also charming. Sadly, torrential rains started about forty minutes after we started trick-or-treating, so the fun was cut short, but 2014 Halloween is done and done with success! Did you have a good one?

werebear10P.S. I’ve had yet another poor showing with KCW, but I’ve been enjoying the creations popping up around the interwebs. I think Meg and Dorie do such an amazing job of creating community — so inspiring! Goal: KCW Winter!

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! I’m dragging my feet on the girl-transforming-into-werewolf costume for K and my pleas for her to wear the ninja costume tonight are falling on deaf ears. I obviously need to re-evaluate who’s the boss here.

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A random comment on the age-old game of tag by K:

I’m not that into being “it” these days. I’m totally over it.

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Alright, I better see if I can muster the energy to focus on assembling faux fur…Have a great weekend, friends!

Happy Halloween!
Will you trick or treat tonite?
Chocolate’s my fave

Sewing for Me: All About the Comfy

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Hudson, meet Renfrew. I’d planned on having these Hudson pants done last week as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel #6, but I already discussed my land-of-the-unicorns approach to my sewing output level (read: completely fantasy-based).

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But here we are, just a mere seven days later and voila, the comfiest lounge pants known to mankind. And look, I’m branching out and trying a new position other than my usual awkward standing. I give you awkward sitting.

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I love wearing these because they’re the very definition of relaxation, but I have to be honest…I don’t love how these look on me. I mean, check it out:

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I have these calves that would be called “daikon” in Japan, referring to large, napiform radishes (now there’s a vocabulary word for you). A rather unflattering moniker for bulbous calves, but sadly accurate. I fear that these so-called joggers highlight my stumpy legs and bulky calves. Not to mention my non-existent derriere.

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Gah.

I think I’m exacerbating the problem with the light grey knit (no idea what type it is). This is the kind of garment that should be made exclusively in black, at least for my body type. And I am going to have to make another pair because these are so darn comfortable. Maybe the shorter, capri version would work better — I will report back! Another tactic I might try is cutting one size smaller for the thigh area. I’d heard that this is extremely slim fitting so I went up a size to 10, but I think less bulk around my thighs would make the whole look more flattering. The pocket detail, by the way, is the denim knit I use all the time (e.g. here and here and here).

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Earlier this week, I posted a blurry shot of this stripey Renfrew top on instagram — hastily taken by K with my ipad — but I felt like it should be showcased a little better here. I’ve had this amazingly soft black-and-white striped sweater knit in my stash for some time, and though it was slated for K, I couldn’t resist using it for myself. K has already asked for a mini-me version. This is my second Renfrew top by Sewaholic (I haven’t shown you my first one yet), and I made some tweaks to improve the already great pattern. I lengthened the bodice by 2 inches, and also reduced the width for the sleeve cuffs and bottom band. The cuffs were too loose on my first Renfrew, and though I like the band looser just fine, I wanted to give this stripey version a slightly different look.

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If this outfit doesn’t say, “I’m not getting out of bed. Ever” I don’t know what does. Speaking of which, I think I might go take a nap.

 

 

 

Monday Outfit: Halloween Ninja

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Good morning, friends! Every year, I seem to end up making two Halloween costumes for K. This, I’ve realized, is because I never finish the main costume in time for the annual Halloween bash held at her school (which was this past weekend), so I resort to frantically sewing something quick and effortless.

Enter Ninja K.

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I’m quite impressed with K’s idea for origami ninja stars. I helped her make them, and we used the pinwheel instructions similar to this one since that’s what we happened to have in a little booklet, but there’s also a shuriken (ninja star in Japanese) tutorial online too. We wanted to add the extra badassness with the wristguards, but I’m now wondering if it seems as though she’s sporting two broken wrists. K expressed serious concern that she didn’t look like a girl; since female ninjas used to typically wear purple, we improvised with a purple flower barrette.

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The light blue criss-cross ties are actually fold over elastic. She thinks they’re beyond cool. In fact, she declared this the best costume I’ve ever made, though I’m still partial to the owl I made last year.

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I self-drafted the entire costume, and it’s rather slapdash and sloppy as far as costumes go. I didn’t even bother finishing any hems, edges, etc and the crossover top is safety-pinned together on the side. However, I’m pretty proud of the knickerbocker-like pants/leggings, which gives the costume an almost authentic vibe. Excuse the visible dust all over her socks and general garb — it’s the curse of black fabric.

The costume comprises five pieces (not including the FOE): The mask, a turtleneck tank, a crossover cardi, a sash and the leggings. It was a super fast project and I’m certain K will wear these regularly. Sometimes it feels like it’s the jankiest, least polished items I’ve made that she loves best.

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Anyhow, one costume down, one more to go! If anyone has any suggestions on how to make a werewolf costume with tattered dress pieces attached (to indicate that the werewolf used to be a girl), I’m all ears. We went from fancy-maid-girl to wolverine-in-a-fur-dress to girl-turning-into-werewolf. Although she’s indecisive, kudos for her originality…ninja star coming atcha:

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Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! This little illustration is totally random, but these little kimono girls make me happy. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week, and are gearing up for a fun weekend. I’m keeping it sweet and short today since a certain 8-year-old wants me to sew up a rather involved Halloween costume.

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K on adolescence:

Mama, I hope I’m the kind of teenager that likes her parents…I hear teenagers are really mean.

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Have a lovely time
and wherever you may be
I hope you stay dry*

*It’s raining non-stop in Seattle. Ah, autumn….it’s funny, the rain has grown on me over the years.

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Sewing for Me: Perfect Pattern Parcel #6

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I hadn’t consciously planned on three tours in a row, but I’ve noticed that these opportunities to try non-Japanese patterns give me the much needed push to get me out of my sewing comfort zone and try something new. And when you combine a good educational cause with a bundle of patterns I’m eager to try like this Perfect Pattern Parcel #6, it’s all kinds of goodness.

I’ve been part of the Pattern Parcel round-up before here and here and here, and though they’ve all been great, this collection of indie designs is particularly appealing to me and includes:

I, of course, erroneously thought I would be able to sew the Julia Cardigan, Bronte Top and the Hudson Pants by today. Oh, and I thought I’d throw in the Syrah skirt and Zsalya Dress with the extra time I would surely have. I really need to stop overestimating my time management skills.
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I managed two Julia cardigans, though, and I love them! I’m confident that if a fabric store carries a fabric in a indigo + grey combo, I will sniff it out like a police hound, hyperventilate happily and unfailingly leave the store with at least a couple of yards. This polyester blend sweater knit is so soft and I’m gaga over the stripes, naturally. I sewed the version with the collar facing, and the additional fabric is so cozy and ideal for fall. The stuff is actually quite clingy and prone to rolled edges, so it wasn’t the easiest fabric to sew, but I’m so pleased with the end result. I believe I got the fabric from here.
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I’m not sure why my lower body is always in focus when I set the camera up to focus on my upper body, but my boots are cute, and I bet I’ll figure it out one day. I sort of wish I hadn’t worn such a body-hugging cami, but I was rushing to get photos in the dying light so I didn’t put a lot of consideration into the styling.
Anyway. The grey knit is textured with a subtle lace-like pattern. Super drapey and unlike the sweater knit, very easy to sew. I got it from here, and the bolt didn’t have any content info, but I suspect there’s a little bit of rayon and a lot of cotton.
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Because of the fluidity of this knit and because I didn’t use the facing, the collar has more of a cascading effect, which I like. It makes it seem more flirty and fun. I had in mind a 3/4 sleeve version (the stripey one is the longest sleeve length, which I actually had to chop a couple of inches), but I didn’t have quite enough of the grey knit. I do like that the simple shortening of sleeve length imparts a completely different look.
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I love love love polka dots, but now I remember why I rarely wear this RTW top: it looks like I smuggled one of K’s garments and threatens to be midriff-baring. Hmmmm….maybe I can lengthen it with a contrasting knit.
At any rate, like all excellent patterns that are easy to make, I want to fill my closet with Julia Cardigans! These are certain to be go-to items in my wardrobe for daily wear. And I’ll eventually sew up all the other patterns too…or so I say. Let me work on that time management thing.
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So here we go. Details about the Pattern Parcel:

How Pattern Parcel Works
Here at Perfect Pattern Parcel, we believe in supporting independent pattern designers. It’s our opinion that indie patterns are just, well, better than big box patterns, and we’re pretty sure our customers think so too. So, we allow customers to show their support in naming their own price for each Parcel.  We also encourage customers to allocate part of their Parcel price to the charity Donorschoose.org in order to help classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. Together we’ve raised over $12,000 for classrooms in need!

Bonus Pattern
Choose a price of $32 or greater for Parcel #6 and you will automatically also be sent the Bonus Pattern! That’s only $5 a pattern. The Bonus Pattern for this Parcel is the Odette Dress by Bluegingerdoll. Vintage inspired silhouette is had two flattering necklines and a gorgeous skirt. The Odette Dress pattern goes from a size 4 through a 24!

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win
Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Monday Outfit: E & E Ponderosa + (Slightly Modified) Hemlock

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Good morning! Any time Heidi of Elegance & Elephants asks me if I’d like to try out her patterns, it’s an automatic yes. Her designs are comfortable and stylish and the kind of garments that K actually wants to wear.

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“OH MY GOSH I LOVE IT,” is what K said when I presented her the Ponderosa dress. I’m a fan of the chartreuse double-knit combined with the muted bold stripes, and K is a fangirl too.

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The only part I didn’t follow exactly was the neckband attachment. I used my regular method of folding the band in half initially and sewing to the neck opening, then simply overlocking the raw edges.

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Do you like the pink shades? They are actually Nancy Drew stealth spyglasses — ordered via Scholastic Books — and it comes with an earpiece to enable eavesdropping. You have to stand right next to the people conversing to hear anything which renders the stealth part moot, but it’s been a major hit around here.

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The pattern is fantastic. Super easy to construct and the size 8 is spot-on for K. As you can see, I played with the stripes a bit, and the skirt is cross-grain so it might stretch out. That’s okay though — too long is always better than too short. This one is going to get a lot of love.

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Heidi generously provided me all three of her new patterns (Ponderosa Dress, Hemlock Top, Magnolia Skirt) and I had every intention to sew up all of them. Sadly, I could only manage the dress and top, but but two out of three ain’t bad.

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Some of you may recognize the tee fabric from my Skippy Dress. I had just barely enough left for the Hemlock top, and K was over the moon since she’s been coveting my dress fabric for some time. “Why do you always use the prettiest fabric for your own clothes, Mommy?” is a common phrase around here.

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I started sewing the top late at night, and I misread the instructions. This led to me basting the flutters with a zig zag stitch instead of a long basting stitch so I couldn’t gather the flutters. I abhor ripping out zig zag stitches from knits — thus, I decided to make them unfluttery flutters instead. A bit Star Trek, perhaps? The knits are all from here. Such a great little shop and the owner is so, so sweet.

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To me, it actually looks very hipster and I’m loving it. No idea what she’s doing up there.

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Again, K is smitten (for a while she refused to wear a lot of what I was making, so these recent approvals are heartwarming). Huzzah!

Good news: Heidi’s patterns are on sale ($1 off) with the coupon code TOUR until October 24th! Check out the shop here!

P.S. I’ll be posting on Thursday instead of Wednesday this week.

P.P.S. I finally took the plunge and gave K the book. Guess what she said? “I already know this, Mama.”  All that hemming and hawing for nuthin’…I guess she was just confused about the DNA part.

Franklin Dress + Tunic

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Happy Friday! There’s a new player in the indie pattern circuit, and I was excited to be invited to try out Brooklyn Pattern’s brand new offering: The Franklin Dress. Erin, the creator, has such a fascinating background (circus, ballet and opera costume designer!) and because I worked in theater for a while, I feel a kinship with her.

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The Franklin dress has a vintage-inspired feel with a pleated yoke and puffy sleeves, and it actually reminds me of the many Japanese patterns I’ve pumped out to date. So obviously, I love the style. And when you pair a pretty pattern with an equally pretty polka dotted cotton, well…I’d call it a winner.

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We had a prop situation in that K kept wanting to try different ones, so I apologize that there are so many photos (and blurry ones!) in advance. She insisted that I include them all, and I am nothing if not an obliging parent. We started with a glass tchotchke shaped like a Hershey’s kiss.

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franklin-dress11Then we tried a gold clutch to match the vintage gold buttons on her yoke.

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And we can’t forget the Scholastic book order form.

But this was her favorite:

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I love those metal letters. The Robert Kaufman dotty chambray is from here, and it’s the softest, loveliest cotton. I cut a size 8 for K, and it’s a little long, but I don’t mind. I read through the instructions which were pretty clear (but maybe some steps were missing?). However, I find that I like to do things my own way these days, and I didn’t set in the sleeves but used my usual cheater method; I also basted the yoke and facing together to keep things tidy as I sewed. All in all, the whole dress came together easily. One other thing you may or may not have noticed…my pleats are facing outward instead of inward and this was purely my personal preference. Sometimes I get nitpicky about stuff like that.

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And hey, why stop at just sewing the dress? I felt like a dose of color was in order, and wanted to see how quickly I’d be able to sew this if I eliminated the pleats as well as the pockets (which are part of the black dress, but I couldn’t get good shots of her showing them off), shortened the sleeves and made it into a tunic. Can you guess? 1 hour and 44 minutes. I was a speedster because I only had an hour and forty-five minutes before I had to go pick up K. Got it done in the nick of time.

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I’m not sure how long the black dress took. I did a rare thing and worked on it little by little over a four-day period — I never do this, because I’m impatient and want to get it all done in one fell swoop. It was actually super stress-free and very enjoyable. It was fun to speed sew this tunic too, though.

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I’m liking the Franklin pattern! Oh, the cute apple fabric was K’s find. Perfect for fall!

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K made that necklace out of buttons she filched from my stash. She got sort of psychobabbly with her interpretation of what each button meant: “The green turtle is for envy, the purple is for magical emotions, the pink elephant is for happiness…”

Anyway. Erin is offering a giveaway! Here’s the Rafflecopter snazziness, and it sounds as though you might need to “like” her facebook page? That world is a mystery to me. If you’d like to enter the giveaway, here it is:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ve inundated you with enough words and images for today so I’ll bid you adieu and am wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Cashew Milk

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As I grow older, I’ve noticed that I have a harder time digesting cow’s milk and end up with a bunch of weird reactions. In particular, my monthly PMS breakouts are worse and painfully cystic when I’ve consumed too many dairy products, so I’ve been trying to find tasty alternatives. I love soy and almond milk, but I’ve been reading about some scary additives (like carrageenan) and though I usually pshaw those types of hyped up warnings, I figure I should stay on the safe side.

A few weeks ago, when I was chatting with a friend, I noticed her swigging a creamy liquid that she kept shaking up. It turned out to be cashew milk, and I was intrigued. Cashews are my favorite nuts! Why didn’t I think of cashew milk before? Alas, the stuff is not readily available at even my uber granola, natural foods market.

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Did you know that it’s super easy to make cashew milk? This was a happy discovery as I had cashews and water on hand, and that’s all I needed! Using my trusty Vitamix (though any blender will do since cashews are softer than your average nut), I just blended one cup of cashews with 3 cups of water for about 40 seconds. Some recipes suggest soaking the raw nuts overnight, but I didn’t bother.

In fact, I didn’t even use raw cashews. I got the “less salty” kind from Trader Joe’s and the result was a thick, milky beverage that tastes like liquid cashew butter. Adding a sweetener would perhaps be advisable, but I actually like the slightly salty undertones. Action shot:

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I’m starting to feel like a televangelist for Trader Joe’s, but I seem to constantly have memorable experiences there. About a week ago, I was having a bummer of a day as it happens sometimes. I’d just placed all my grocery bags in my trunk sporting an Eeyore-esque expression, and was about to go return the cart, when a young man happened to be approaching from my right. He smiled pleasantly and said, “Here, let me take that for you,” and rolled my cart away to the designated area. He wasn’t an employee, and I was looking pretty unsexy (yoga pants, frizzy bun, no make-up, grumpy, cystic acne) so I wasn’t having a cougar moment or anything — he was just being nice. That tiny act of kindness completely lifted my bad mood, and I drove home hoping that K will grow up to be a considerate young adult like that.

But I was talking about cashew milk. It’s taking me a bit to get used to, but I really like it in my coffee as you can see below. I also made a cashew hot cocoa and that was definitely yum. And I bet cashew milk chai using my go-to recipe would be divine…it’s got potential, this one. Lots of potential.

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Sewing for Me: Wool Zip-Up Vest

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Good morning! Since I’ll be sharing a K-sized outfit on Friday this week, I thought I would change up the routine and post this wool vest I made a few days ago.

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I haven’t sewn much with wool, and this fabric is actually a polyester blend full of slubbiness and stretch. I’m not sure if that made it easier or not, but oh, the shedding…don’t get me started on the shedding. There is a thin layer of dark grey dust all over my sewing area at the moment, and it’s looking rather post-apocalyptic.

I have this Eddie Bauer wool feather-down vest that I wear all the time that I bought years and years ago. It’s starting to look pretty worn out, though, and I thought this pattern from Basic Black sewing book would create a decent substitute:

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Hmmm, I didn’t look at the modeled photo as I was sewing the vest but the styling must have embedded itself in my brain since I used a very  similar fabric and I even took photos wearing a braid. I usually try to stay away from direct copying, so this surprised me. At any rate, I ended up changing a few things from the original pattern and as usual, I didn’t execute flawlessly. Take a gander.

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Do you see it? The pockets are totally lopsided. They were actually even when I first attached them, but then as I tried to get the separating zipper inserted, one side started stretching out and the right front bodice piece ended up way longer. Next time, I will make sure to add interfacing or stay tape before attaching the zipper. Another note on the zipper: I think the instructions were incorrect? When I followed them to the letter, my zipper was facing the wrong way so I had to figure out a different method. It’s very likely to be user error, but I’ll be making this vest again so I’ll provide the correct way if the instructions are wrong.

I am debating whether or not to re-do the pockets, but you know what’s funny? Because I naturally stand with my right shoulder hiked up, the pockets actually look quite even when I’m wearing it. I guess I should consider attaching all my pockets askew…Anyhow, here are some of the changes I made. Instead of folding over the armhole inward to finish them, I cut out two 2″ bias bindings for the arm openings. Much, much cleaner in my opinion:

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My fabric was pretty bulky so instead of double-folding the hem, I serged it (lazy, lazy — look at that white serger thread) and folded up only once. I also added a couple of extra inches to the hem for my extra long torso:

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I wish the zipper tape showed more because it’s this cool black and white stripe, like this one, except mine separates.

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The design is great, though I should have used something other than the same fabric for the collar facing…I don’t like wool directly on my skin as a general rule, and though this one isn’t too bad, it’s still a bit scratchy.

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Imperfect, but totally functional. I’ll take it!