TnT (n TnT n TnT n TnT)

I count four TnT’s in my arsenal. And my trusty circle skirt. Though that’s more of a formula than a pattern.

I count a TnT as a pattern that I’ve played with and probably altered to fit me better, and that I’ve made over and over with no intention of stopping.

So first a quick overview, and then I’ll do some more explaining.

The Nettie bodysuit pattern is my go to t-shirt pattern, though I do like the bodysuits too. I just wear them less. I’ve been playing with it for about 3 and a half years now.

The Onyx woven shirt pattern is much newer to me, but I made just a couple of alterations to it, and I’ve made so many since! I think I’ve been playing with it for about a year.

The Ginger jeans pattern has given me four pairs of great jeans, and I’ve now got an idea on what I like in jeans fit, and I have an idea of what options I like best for what type of denim.  I’ve had the pattern for about three years.

The Belladone dress pattern is so chic and comfortable for me, and I’ve made about 5 variations, with others planned out. I’ve been using it for about 10 months.

So starting at the beginning…

A small selection of the Nettie’s I’ve made

When I was a newbie sewist at the end of college/beginning of grad school, I spent a summer unemployed in an unfamiliar new city/town and basically learned how to live with myself. And living with myself means I made a fair amount of clothes. But because I was unemployed, I treated myself to one pattern, and otherwise drafted my own. And that one pattern was the Nettie bodysuit from Closet Case Patterns.

I made two bodysuits, then a t-shirt or two (after I saw someone else hack it into a shirt and fell in love). And then another bodysuit, and then some more shirts. Most of them didn’t even make it to the blog. Then there were the hacks. I hacked it to be colorblocked, like the Little Mermaid corset outfit (twice!). I hacked it into a cross-back, semi cut out dress. I hacked it into a sleeveless dress with a handkerchief hem circle skirt. I hacked it into a tunic for my Nausicaa outfit with a high mandarin collar neck. I then hacked that last hack into a sleeveless mandarin neck shirt for my TARDIS costume (2016 DragonCon MVPattern).  Last summer I hacked it into a Kiki’s Delivery Service dress for a friend, and recently I hacked it into basically the same dress for me, though I don’t have pictures yet. I do have another hacked dress cut out, though.

Basically the Nettie has been such a powerhouse pattern for me that my friend (with a keen eye for detail) realized that most of the things I wore to my first DragonCon were made with the Nettie pattern in some part.

After spending time making so many knit tees, I knew I wanted to try out a woven pattern, so I compared every boxy woven tee pattern that I found on the internet, and chose the Onyx one. I had made the tutorial Jade skirt from Paprika right before she made the company, and loved it. Though I loved the act of making it more than wearing it, since I had forgotten that I don’t wear tight skirts, especially out of knit. I made one out of lace last fall, but I had sized up since I was worried and it didn’t fit nicely. Lace ones will be revisited in the future.

The first real one was made out of the skirt I used for Ariel at my first DragonCon, once I realized that was not the proper material for a skirt. I altered the pattern to take in the shoulders, and then I made another. (And then there was the fail). And then I cut two identical black Onyx’s and embroidered them both (pictures of the second to come when I really finish the embroidery).  I also hacked it to have longer and slightly fuller sleeves for my update to my Ariel costume, with embroidery. For my updated TARDIS costume this year, I also used a hacked Onyx for a more boatneck front with a  deeper back, and long sleeves with ruffles. And when I made a costume for the Moment from Doctor Who, I used the Onyx pattern. So I guess this year’s DragonCon MVPattern was Onyx.

Then the Ginger Jeans pattern. I’ve always struggled with jeans, going straight from kids to misses, because I’m petite and curvy. So making mine seemed to be logical. I’ve learned which type of denim will work best for me for the super skinny (thinner) versus my favored bootcut look (thicker).

My first pair was terrible, due entirely to the lack of stretch in the denim. RIP. The second, third, and fourth pairs still serve me well, and I have plans to make jean shorts with it too!

Belladone is a pattern I received from Deer and Doe as a prize for a Monthly Stitch contest, which I was excited about because at the time it was only available printed. I had been wanting to make it, and being unable to afford the cost plus shipping, for almost four years.

It is the newest of my TnT’s to me, but I’ve made two versions with the cut out back and a skirt version out of my favorite (and only up till now) wax print. Then I hacked the solid back version into my Peggy Carter dress (though I only have a post of my muslin). I already have the fabric and plans to make the skirt version in one or two fabrics, and really, I could wear this pattern nearly every day.

Much like every pattern talked about thus far.

Circle skirts, though not a real pattern, make up the other segment of what you might call my “daily uniform.” If not wearing jeans and a shirt, then I tend to be wearing a skirt and a shirt, and that skirt is either a circle skirt or a Belladone skirt. So mostly 3/4 to full circle skirts. I think I have about 4 of them, and they’re my favorite thing to add to bodices for dresses as well. Because swingy skirts are my jam.

I’m never going to say that again.

That’s a lie. I’ll probably say that again, but each time I’ll regret it immediately. Unlike making any of these TnT’s probably ever.

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Backpack with some Awesome Whales!

Once upon a time, a girl traveled to Seattle for a work conference, and made the bad decision to enter a fabric store. Specifically this one.

You see, she had decided a year or two before that instead of knick knacks to memorialize a trip, she’d choose fabric or yarn.

Let us note, dear reader, the word “or” in that sentence. It is not the word “and.”

So what is this girl to do, but buy both fabric and yarn. Not on the same day, of course, as she has some amount of restraint, but both were purchased during that fateful January trip.

The whales you see before you are the direct result of walking into the fabric store without a hint of a plan. But aren’t they adorable, dear reader?

The whales festered in that fall hole of a place commonly referred to as “stash” for three months, set which point the girl realized that she had too much variety in her daily life to keep everything in her daily purse, and she very much hated casting anything bigger. She used her backpack from high school a few times, but missed having easy pockets and containers for those items that are not quite junk solely because they’re regularly necessary.

So she designed her perfect backpack. When she began looking through her stash to find the perfect material for her perfect backpack, she saw the whales, and rescued them from the dank hole of stash.

But alas, this material was too flimsy for such purposes! How would she move forward?

Then she made the decision to make bags for her bike, and not knowing the quantity required, she accidentally ordered extra, which turned out to be exactly what she needed!
(Seriously, she has maybe 6 tiny scrap pieces now.)

So she constructed this perfect backpack with a lower zipper pocket for sundries, pocket sized for her laptop help keep the structure nice and sturdy, and a section that nicely fits sketchbooks and journals and lunches and maybe even dinners. Dependent on the amount stuff packed in there.

She was so happy that she managed to construct the monster that she didn’t add real closures the first day, and made a simple not quite drawstring closure later.

A couple weeks and a rainstorm later reminded her that further closures would be ideal, so she dug into her button stash until she came out with two sets of three matching buttons that matched brilliantly. So she attached some thin elastic and the buttons and they’ve held fantastically so far.

Right before taking pictures for this post she changed the cord on the “drawstring” so one can actually leverage the thing closed.

And she sewed on that handle… And seconds later pictures were taken.

Tada!

She still has over a yard left, which had been sent back the stash until the next perfect project arises!

That’s enough third person for now…

Belladone Opposites

Remember the contest I talked about early this year?

I also picked up the Deer and Doe pattern Belladone, which I am in love with!

(Granted, I fall in love with a lot of patterns…)

But seriously, I’ve made 2.5 of these in the first quarter of the year…

The ice blue one is version 2, and the green skirt is version 1, but I am combining them for this post, along with the bonus of the skirt I made from the same pattern (Version 2.5). Because they’re all done, with almost no changes between the versions, so why not? And though I know I should make some more adjustments, I didn’t pause in between making these.

The Belladone is one of those patterns that I’ve seen around for so many years, and yet I haven’t gotten my hands on it mostly due to the shipping from France thing. And I don’t have many paper patterns from indie companies (read: none), so I couldn’t really see buying the paper patterns. But so many people have made fantastic versions, and I wanted to join the legion!

I made the cutaway back version for both dress options, and I had to make one (rather large) adjustment, which I assume has to do with my broad rounded back. I had to sew a huge dart from just underneath the overlay to the armscye. And now the back lies smoothly against mine! The hem was also “very long” on me, meaning at knee length, but I prefer my skirts to be a bit higher, so I went back and hemmed each version a couple inches.

Version 2 (which was finished first) is made from an ice blue cotton with neon slubs woven in (that aren’t visible from more than one foot away), and is fully lined. Granted, that means its mostly interlined for the bodice, and then actually lined for the skirt. Version 1 has a chambray bodice (woot for scraps!), and what I think is a cotton/poly lawn (woot for scraps part 2!). And then I made a skirt version out of the same wax print cotton that I made my Uganda dress out of a few years ago. I had just barely enough to make it happen, but it’s infinitely more wearable than the dress is, which is a great thing!

I made up Versions 2 and 3 for my this big conference in Seattle, since I don’t have much of what you might call “business casual” and then decided to alter them. The skirt only got hemmed a bit higher, but the ice blue dress got a stencil treatment. I laser cut a stencil with a vaguely floral geometric design, and I used silver Jacquard Lumiere paint to put it on the waistband. The design is not terribly visible, even though I used a Micron pen to outline it a bit, but I like the small amount of definition it gives to the dress.

Because Version 2 was fully lined, I didn’t need to bias bind the neck or armscyes, but when I finally finished Version 1, I had to bias bind them, which I did in a lovely green, and I’m considering stenciling the waistband with a gold fabric paint. We’ll see what happens in a couple weeks.

These are wonderful dresses/skirts though. They worked well for the transition from winter to summer, and so far are doing well for actual summer too! Wait until I show you my hack of this! It’s going to be awesome (judging by the wearable muslin, at least)!

Bike Bags

Last September I bought myself a bike. I live in a college town rife with bike lanes, and I can park at one place of work, so biking onto campus makes a lot of sense.

But I am not an efficient cyclist, and my back gets really sweaty before leaving my neighborhood if I’m wearing a backpack. So after doing some research on how and what attaches to the back of normal bikes. I determined that a rack was essential, but that i couldn’t afford any reasonable bags after the cost of bike and rack.

After much internet searching, I decided to use some scrap fabric and cardboard and just make some. They were… Useful. Not fantastic, but they certainly worked. They were a basic bag shape without a lid, one for each side of the bike, and connected by a couple inches of fabric over the top the rack. I had turned the top edges under to prolong its life, but forgot to put in buttonholes to thread bungee cables through, so it was slightly torn, which only got worse over time. To stiffen the cotton fabric so it didn’t get caught my wheels, I used some cardboard, effectively making these super bad in the rain.

But I used this version for probably 6 months. Somewhat because I was too lazy to do it again, and somewhat because I didn’t have the right fabric.

In April I finally gave up looking for cute fabrics and settled on some black water resistant utility fabric.

This time I altered the bag pattern a little so that the bag bottom slanted upwards, and I added flaps to help cover the contents. I also added pockets to the back so I can add stiffener like a sheet of acrylic. I’m still working fitting that acrylic into the pockets, but i think it’ll fit if i shave off an inch.

I’m finding the bags a little difficult squeeze things in, but they’re secure, water resistant, and easy to retrieve things from when reach my destination.

Out of the same fabric, I made a cover for bike seat, and does its job even its not pretty. I’m learning not leave it on when I ride bike, though, as it often is more slippery than the actual seat, but it has helped when I had wore a skirt from a rather slippery fabric.

Alright then. That’s all I’ve got to say on this subject right now. Reasonably effective, highly useful, probably will get remade if I end up in a bike friendly town post-degree!

All the Onyx Shirts

Never has a pattern become tried and true in my library than with Paprika Patterns’ Onyx Top.

My first version was made out of a lace in November, and altogether was too big. I thought I had made the recommended size, and it was mostly fine in the front, but the back was really drooping, and the sleeves were way too big. (Let me interject here that I don’t quite remember, but probably chose the size based on my bust size, which tends to throw off the rest of the fitting. Because I’m lazy, and my fitting adventures are a work in progress. So don’t take this as an actual review of the sizing…)

So I took the pattern in at the shoulders, raised the armscye, and shrunk the width of the back a bit.

Then in very early January I used the Ariel skirt made of rayon (which was way too lightweight for a skirt) to make a slightly cropped version. Not the actually cropped version in the pattern, since I needed this for work-appropriate events, but an inch shorter than I’d like. I made a facing for it out of the same fabric, and unfortunately didn’t finish the facing edge (which I should do one of these days) which can cause the neckline to hang funnily, and I didn’t interface it, which I think contributed. It quickly became my favorite shirt!

Incredibly happy with this success, I also made one out of this polyester suiting with a diagonal stripe pattern… It works. I wish that I had made the facing out of a different fabric, as the neck really doesn’t lay correctly, though I did interface it, so perhaps it was just stiffer?. Maybe I can fix it later?

And then I tried to use this stone colored poly/cotton blend (I think), which had no drape. That version did not work out well. It felt very frumpy and baggy. I don’t know if it can be salvaged, but maybe with a dart of some kind. For right now its in the alteration pile, which is why I didn’t bother to iron it for the pictures here…

So that’s where I had to leave it before a big conference in Seattle in the end of January. Then I had a making drought in early February as I adjusted back to normal life, and then I made an awesome version in black rayon. In fact the same rayon from the Ariel skirt version, but in a black. I tried to remove some neckline gaping with a pattern alteration, and made the shoulders even slightly less wide. This time I interfaced the facing again, but I also made the facing the entire yoke of the shirt wide. It ended with a fantastically fit shirt, but the yoke of the shirt felt and looked a little stiff. So I embroidered it. I haven’t done embroidery in a while, but it came back pretty quick, though I’ve never done anything quite like this. I really enjoyed the vines and leaves, and the couple flowers on the back were quite fun.

I’ve got another one of the black rayon versions cut out, since the rayon had enough for another, and I think I’ll embroider it too, but I’ll get to that one soon!

Shifting Waters Fumeterre

Last summer I was lucky enough to win a prize in the Indie Pattern Month competition for my pattern hacked Nettie dress, and this prize included two patterns from Deer and Doe, and one pattern from Paprika Patterns! I’ve been interested in both companies for a while, since I found the folded mini skirt tutorial from the latter years and years ago, and since I tried the Deer and Doe free t-shirt pattern.

This is the Deer and Doe Fumeterre skirt, and I made it in January. And yes, this is March. I’m not fantastic at the getting posts written and picture taking at reasonable times…

I bought this awesome two tone (green and aqua) chambray over the winter holidays, and had no idea what to do with it. I remember the bolt saying Robert Kaufman (like my favorite fabric-dress combo) but I can’t find it online. It’s got some weight to it, and pretty much no drape, but its not heavy enough to count as jeans-weight denim, and I probably wouldn’t have worn it as a jacket (though it would’ve looked awesome)! Yet I couldn’t bring myself to remove it from my shopping cart. Both colors you see in the photos in this post are accurate, in different lights!

When I got it back to my house, I looked through my “catalogue” of patterns, and realized that even though it doesn’t have the drape expected for the Fumeterre, it would look so awesome!

Using the recommended size, I traced my pattern pieces, and was able to cut out the skirt with very little left over. Looking at the pattern, I decided that I couldn’t give up the chance to use the pockets, and the button band. I’m not regretting the button band idea, but I now wish I’d used only a partial button band instead (faked the lower half), since the opening doesn’t flow well due to the lack of drape in the fabric.

The pockets are glorious though! I interfaced the pockets, which does affect the drape, but they haven’t really stretched, which is ideal. They’re huge! So handy to have in a skirt, and they look pretty cool too.

The inside has a lining, though I attached each lining piece to the pattern pieces, so I suppose it’s more of a flat-lined lining than a true one. But it made it easier to deal with just a bit of lining that slinks, rather than a full skirt of slink that I would need to deal with the seam frayage. This way, I just bias bound each of the skirt seams, and ironed the seam flat. This did eat up a lot of my bias stash, but it was worth it!

(Also, I noticed the stain when I was already on vacation, and just decided to go with it… I’m going to work on it later!)

The hem is long! I’m almost 5’3″, and in my heels around 5’4″, and I shortened it by over 2 inches, and might have cut off some in advance as well. I like the length I’ve got it at now, but I’d definitely shrink it earlier in the process next time. Mostly because I’m not really a heels-often person. Though my new pair is super comfy!

One of my favorite things about this version (beyond the fantastic pockets) is the buttons I chose. The waistband button is a golden shank button, made of plastic, but so cool! The other buttons are a greenish-blueish shifting ombre color thing. They’re pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

The only issue I’m finding with my skirt, which is totally a fabric thing, is that is wrinkles early and often. It’s definitely something I’m going to find annoying as I continue to wear it, but I also know that this skirt is wonderful to wear and waft around in, and I’ll wear it until it falls apart!

This got its first real wear in Seattle for a meteorology conference, and the next big wear in New Orleans for a vacation, where the green wall pictures were taken… I’m considering this business casual, but it works in real life too!