I have always admired shirts and coats with elbow patches. I really like the contrast they add especially when they are made of leather, corduroy, or wool. I was really excited to make this Sunday and Sons Work flannel to keep me warm during these long and cold winter months. I spent a good deal of time getting the pocket patterns just right and making sure the plaid matched in just the way I liked. I used the brown corduroy not only for the elbow patches but also on the inside of the cuffs, under the collar, under the pocket flaps, and as trim on the sleeves and side seam hems. I like these little details. They are small but unique and add more character to the shirt. I feel like flannel shirts should be roomy so I made the extra-large version (which is really more like a large in U.S. sizing). It feels comfortable, the fit is good, and the style is right on.
As you can tell from this last photo, Mr Rat and I are teaching ourselves how to play the classical guitar. Our new guitar was an exciting Christmas gift. We've never had our own instrument before, and we are both excited about this! We both play piano (but don't have access to one) and Mr Rat plays a little bit of saxophone, from a long time ago, so learning how to play a stringed instrument is a new learning process for us both, and one that we are enjoying. Mr Rat looks so handsome practising in his new home-made flannel!
This post is catching up from last year, as I made this smock and matching purse in the fall and only managed to wear them outside once before snowy weather blew in. Now that we are in the depths of winter, I've given up on the idea of photographing out in the landscape (at least until I have a heavy wool garment to share), and am going to try to take some photos in my studio on sunny days instead. And maybe this way I can catch up some of the things that I sewed last year and haven't had a chance to review yet.
My sewing cabinet housed almost 5 yards of this nice rust-colored corduroy for four years or so from the day that I originally found it at the thrift store to the long overdue day when I finally chose a pattern for it. The pattern I finally picked out, 1970s-era McCalls 3483, was also a thrift-store find. It is a size larger than I usually make, which made me uncertain about buying it, but for 50 cents I thought it was worth a try. When I imagined pairing it with my long-neglected corduroy, I thought that going a size up wouldn't make a difference to a loose over-garment, and I was right. I was actually surprised that I didn't need to narrow the shoulders, and the fit was good without any adjustments. I remember reading in one of my sewing books that the difference between pattern sizes is about 1 inch overall---which is a big difference if you are trying to make a fitted garment, but is very little difference in a loose or flowing garment so long as the fit is good around the shoulders. The one curious bit about the fit of this garment that I noticed is that the smock looks much shorter on the drawings on the pattern-cover compared to how it fits me in real life---which is almost down to my knees. I'm an average 5 foot 5 inches, in case any one else out there has this pattern and needs a reference for the length.
Since corduroy tends to shed and fray, I was careful to do faux-flat fell stitching on all of the seams, which had the nice benefit of giving them a top-stitched look on the outside. I also did top-stitching on the collar to keep it neat, as well as the cuffs and the narrow hem. I also used some scraps of old thrifted bias binding and sewed them by hand to the edges of the inside facing and sleeve openings so they won't have trouble going through the wash. This gave them a clean and neat finish, as well. McCalls 3483 has a lot of nice details: over-sized patch pockets, puffed sleeves with big cuffs, an exaggerated collar, and a neat yoke opening. Since the button closures called for loops, and I didn't want to deal with the hassle of trying to turn corduroy inside out (that sounds like a recipe for a headache), I cut little pieces of the selvage of the fabric and rolled them into little tubes and sewed them shut by hand. Then I made them into button loops and sewed them on to the yoke and cuffs by machine. The buttons are from JoAnns. I took my smock with me to see what kind of ball-shaped button I could find that matched the fabric, and was really happy to find these nice faux-leather ones in just the ride shade of ochre.
I think this smock makes a stylish alternative to wearing a sweater indoors all winter long. And in the fall and the spring, it is the perfect lightweight pullover jacket. I made a purse to match it out of scraps leftover from my smock and a wooden purse handle set that I bought half-off from JoAnns for the grand total of $4! The inside of the purse is lined with scraps from my Folkwear shirtdress. The last of the corduroy scraps leftover from both smock and purse recently got used by my husband as details on a shirt he is almost finished sewing. This ended up being a rather thrifty outfit, especially worn over my old brown smock dress that has some paint stains on it (which my new corduroy smock nicely covers up), and worn with the clogs that were given to me for my birthday. It makes me glad that we can take something that no one wanted and use every scrap of it to make not just one, but three interesting new useful things that will bring pleasure to Mr Rat and me.
I know this photo is terribly blurry, but Gia looks so charming that I couldn't resist adding it.
My main handmade gift this year wasn't sewing related, since I ran out of time to make Mr Rat something on our Singer. But I did have time to make a chess set for him out of oven-bake clay and seed beads. We found a chess board earlier in the year at the thrift store, but didn't have any pieces to play on it. When he opened up this particular Christmas box, Mr Rat was really surprised and excited-----which made me pleased that I had spent the time making something personal for him and me that we will use for years to come. I think that the total cost was about $12 worth of clay and about three hours of molding it and another hour and half to bake the pieces.
(In case you are wondering: Ryan's set is the potted cacti collection, and my set is the team of white rats).
Mr Rat and Gia ---- walking into the future
Before we make new goals, I’d like to take a moment to see how I did with last year’s goals.
-We definitely used a lot of thrifted fabrics, buttons, trims and sheets for our sewing projects. I think we did a good job saving money by continuing to purchase most of our supplies second-hand and sticking to our budget.
-I did sew more skirt sets, and many of the things I sewed mix and match well. I didn’t make a capsule wardrobe, per se, but I think that I’m gradually moving in that direction as I increasingly plan and cut out several projects at a time.
-I did challenge my sewing skills with a vintage Vogue and a Folkwear pattern, but I still haven’t sewn either of my Jean Muir patterns yet. Still, I learned how to make tucks and pleats, among other things.
I think that we did well with our goals for 2018, and the ones that we’ve made for 2019 have a lot in common with last year’s:
-To use what we have: as I mentioned in the last post of year-end reflections, Mr Rat and I already have enough fabric in our cabinet to keep us busy all year long, and many patterns that we haven’t tried out yet. I think we are getting better and better about being selective about what we purchase, especially since we don’t have a lot of storage space. So this is still a goal for us going forward: to use what we have, and to make minimal purchases that aren't to help us finish projects that we already have the supplies and patterns for. I am interested in learning some basic pattern drafting and adjustments, so I can take patterns that I already know fit well and give them different sleeves or necklines or collars, etc. I have two sewing books that cover some of this information----perhaps 2019 will be the year when I crack them open and give them a try! If you, too, are interested in stash-busting over the next year, I thought that this series of blog posts called "Stash Less," by the Craft Sessions, were really interesting reading.
-Mr Rat wants to make 2019 his year of pants-making. He hasn’t found a pattern that he really likes yet, so he is going to focus on trying out his various pants patterns and getting a good fit. He also has some shirts made with tried-and-true patterns planned out (and one in progress).
-I would like to do a couple of slow projects over the next year: the first being my brown wool coat that I’ve already cut out and need to start sewing. I’d also like to try to make an embroidered blouse, and maybe also some more heavily embellished dresses, with pin-tucks or ribbon trims or eyelet edging. My favorite dresses are monochromatic, or the trims vary only in shade or are simple white on black contrast. I will keep that in mind as I plan out some more complex projects to do alongside my simpler ones.
-Another goal that we have together is to try to be more regular about taking photos of our projects (there were quite a few that never got photographed this past year) and posting. It would be great if we can post once a week, but even twice a month would be a very respectable goal. I think it might also be nice if we tried out some other kinds of posts, as well: sewing and pattern-drafting tutorials, outfit posts where we take a photo of our previously finished sewing projects and how we wear them differently from day to day (and year to year), maybe some more posts about jewelry making (I haven’t done any of those in a long time!), inspiration, historical, and discussion posts, how to repair and maintain clothing and accessories, and thrift store/antique store finds.
What are your new year’s sewing goals? Do you make sewing goals, or just go with the flow of what the year brings you? Are there any types of posts that you’ve enjoyed reading here on the blog and wish we would do more often? Or types of posts we’ve never tried that you would be interested in reading? I can’t promise that we will manage to do many different posts than our normal pattern reviews right away, but we are curious about what you are interested in----this blog is a conversation with you, the readers, as well as being a document of our sewing-related endeavors and it’s always nice to know what you are thinking about.
I think that this year I will write my end of the year sewing reflections in a slightly different format, looking at Mr Rat's and my successes and misses through the year in some detail so we can use that list to help plan for next year. One of the things I’ve learned from two years of participation in Me-Made-May is that being thorough in reflecting on past projects does make for clearer and more cohesive thoughts when putting together future projects. This might take a while, and may not be too interesting to anyone but myself, so feel free to speed-read or even skip through this post if you are busy. So here is my (I think complete---hopefully I haven’t missed any projects) list of 2018 sewing projects:
Blogged Successes –
McCalls 7291 tweed cape-jacket
McCalls 4968 grey wool jumper dress
Simplicity 5639 square neck pullover blouse- both black and muslin versions
McCalls 6209 navy flannel dress
Simplicity 7880 and Simplicity 7460 tan striped skirt and blouse set
Simplicity 9470 navy camp shirt with tie sleeves
Folkwear Lindy Dress - dark red floral Indian cotton shawl-collar 40s style shirtdress (my sister ended up giving this back to me as it wasn’t quite the right fit for her, and I’ve worn it a lot more than I thought I would when I first finished it---so this one is a surprise success for me)
Butterick 6914 brown check empire waist maxi dress
All of Mr Rat's projects were successes: his tan linen shirt, his new rayon aloha shirt, and his as-yet-unblogged flannel pajamas.
As Yet Unblogged Sucesses - (some of these got worn during Me-Made-May, so there are a few photos of them above, and others are recently finished makes from the fall of which I have no photographs at all----yet)
Simplicity 3573 striped cotton nightdress (previous version of this pattern blogged about here)
Simplicity 3573 robe pattern sewed up as a lightweight denim coat - see photo above
Simplicity 8131 brown cotton voile tie-neck blouse (previous version of this pattern blogged about here) - photo above
Simplicity 7886 blue roses cotton maxi dress - photo above, from Me-Made-May 2018
McCalls 3483 rust colored corduroy smock dress
Muslin peasant blouse – I’ve lost the vintage pattern that I used, so unfortunately I can’t give you the patter number, but I changed the sleeves from a gathered long sleeve to a elbow length cropped sleeve anyway, so it looks rather different than when I first finished it. I like it a lot though, and when this version wears out, I think that I will take it apart and use it to make a pattern for future versions.
Maybe Successes? (these are patterns that fit well, but I’m still trying to see if these particular garments that I made from them will have a permanent place in my wardrobe)
Simplicity 8611 golden jumper dress
Simplicity 7752 little pink flowers peter pan collar dress
Butterick 6469 light blue gingham maxi dress
Simplicity 7880 and Simplicity 5204 green skirt and vest set
Butterick 3846 high waisted wide leg denim jeans (unblogged)
McCalls 6209 rose print cotton dress
McCalls 4038 birthday patchwork maxi prairie dress – this is a beautiful dress, but I doubt I will make this pattern again because the fit is very snug! And the style is not particularly suited to my everyday wear with a shaped and faced hem that is so long that I have to wear heeled clogs underneath to not trip while walking.
Simplicity 8620 white wide collared blouse – this blouse pattern only looks good in softer, more flowing fabrics, and my choice of white cotton was just too crisp. I ended up giving away this pattern this year because despite several tries at sewing it (I did like the shape of those sleeves a lot) I never liked the way the blouses tended to untuck themselves at the sides while I wore them. I think this is because they had no bust darts to give them shape and keep the sides neat.
Butterick 3953 striped top – this pattern didn’t have enough ease at the hips to sit nicely over my full skirts. I also haven’t been wearing scooped necklines often since we moved to Utah because my skin has become very sensitive in the dry and polluted air of the Salt Lake valley. I ended up giving this blouse away, even though I liked the fabric and the trim.
Simplicity 9486 gingham maxi dress – even though I let the seam allowances out a bit while I was sewing it, this dress ended up being uncomfortably tight around the rib cage. I ended up unpicking the zipper and saving it and turning the bottom of this dress into a skirt, which will probably appear on this blog sometime next year.
Simplicity 7460 v neck floral blouse – I like my second version of this pattern so much better. The v neck ended up being a little too low and because the blouse is so loose, it would shift around as I wore it, which made keeping the neckline modest quite difficult.
Vogue 1231 – this dress was a great learning project: I learned to make a pleated skirt and to do tucks, and I followed the rather complicated and sometimes vague instructions of a vintage Vogue pattern for the first time. But I didn’t end up wearing the finished dress very often---the pale blue tended to stain, and I didn’t end up liking the big bow on a looser silhouette on me very much----I think it exaggerates my child-like body shape. I’m also not a big fan of elastic waists, even when it is rather well hidden, as this one was.
McCalls 2592 and Simplicity 7880 in green and pink Indian-style cotton. I think I didn’t end up wearing this set often because of the color. It looked just fine! But it isn’t a color that I turn to often, so I rarely picked it out of my closet, and wore my previous denim version from last year far more often.
Simplicity D0739 1950s skirt in tan twill. This pattern is fine, but I need to start using waistband interfacing and maybe go down to a size 8. I don’t much like the way most of my previous versions slide around on my waist after I’ve tucked my blouse in, and this particular pale tan twill tended to get Gia’s hair stuck all over it, which made it hard to wear.
What I’ve learned from my lists: I’ve been productive this year! I think I’ve averaged 2-3 finished garments a month. Mr Rat finished three projects this year---probably not so surprising given that he’s had to work long hours and our weekends have been busier than ever with lots of family events to attend. Knowing our average sewing output is really helpful when making sewing plans for next year. Looking over our fabric choices in our sewing cabinet, I can see that Mr Rat and I already have enough fabric for a year’s worth of projects. This means that we should be realistic and buy little or no fabric this year if we want to use up most of what we already have.
Knowing our sewing output and also my disappointment that five of my outfits that I sewed I ended up giving away (and that there are another couple of projects that I’m still on the fence about) makes me think that I need to be more organized in the way that I plan projects. Usually I keep a paper in my pattern notebook with a list of things I’ve learned about my preferences from doing Colette’s Wardrobe Architect. This year I was experimental and strayed from my favorite colors, prints (or lack thereof----if I am being honest with myself, I don’t wear a lot of prints from day to day) and silhouettes fairly often. While sometimes this worked out surprisingly well, oftentimes it ended up that I made something that I found interesting and pretty but didn’t want to wear very often. So I think I need to refocus my color scheme back to my favorites: black, white, navy, grey, brown, blue and cream. And I think it will be helpful if I plan out my sewing projects a month in advance, or even two or three months at a time, ‘capsule wardrobe’ style. This will help me make garments that are more versatile and worn longer, I hope. I won’t give up on experimenting altogether, but maybe I will limit projects that stray from my list to once every two or three months, working on things that I know will be practical and useful the rest of the time.
I’ve found making this list and pondering it very helpful as I’ve started putting together a post about Mr Rat’s and my sewing goals for next year. I think that I will try to make a year's end list again next December, too. Are there any methods or tools that you’ve found especially helpful as you plan out your sewing projects? Do you make year end reflections on your sewing, or new year’s goals? I’m curious to hear about your process, if you want to share in the comments.
I was sad to not get this dress finished and photographed during the fall, as I had intended when I got the fabric for my birthday and started sewing it in November. But even though I didn't finish the last of the buttonholes until December, it isn’t so inappropriate for the brown and grey shades of a milder winter’s day---so long as I wear my thrifted vintage sheepskin boots and my homemade crocheted shawl with it.
This fabric is homespun cotton in a tiny gingham check/plaid from JoAnn fabrics, making it the rare fabric that we bought on sale at the fabric store rather than buying it second-hand. The buttons are from JoAnns, too, and the zipper that closes the dress in the side seam. This was my first time trying out 1970s-era Butterick 6914. I am very pleased with the comfortable fit, and I also like that there is no zipper going up the middle of the back like most patterns. Side-zippers can make getting dresses on and off a little slower, but they have the advantage of being far more invisible. I like the sleeves with their long, deep cuffs (so long that they are curved and faced, rather than folded like a shorter, straight cuff would be) and I think the little pocket on one side of the skirt is an interesting detail. It gives it an apron-like feel, just right for working and cooking and painting and sewing----you can stow any number of little things in a useful patch pocket like that.
The homespun drapes nicely, but has a tendency to warp and fray. I interfaced the top of the patch-pocket to help keep it from stretching out, used bias binding to finish the inside of the waist seam (as well as acting as a waist stay), and was careful to finish all the seams on the machine rather than pinking them as I normally would for cotton fabrics. I edge-stitched all my seams, as usual, to help keep them crisp and make them more durable. I've noticed with my vintage empire-waist dress patterns that the bust darts tend to be very deep and will end up very pointy if I don't stitch right along the edge of the fabric for a good half-inch or so at the end of the bust dart to help flatten it out. I also suspected that the sleeves wouldn't ease in smoothly at the tops (in previous patterns I've tried from the 1970s I've found that the sleeves tend to have excess ease) so I did a little extra gathering at the very top of the sleeve-head to make the extra fabric look purposeful, and I think that I was successful. The buttonholes are done by hand, and took me a long time, since they are rather large and there are quite a few between the bodice and those lovely long cuffs. The other thing that delayed my finishing this dress was getting Mr Rat's help pinning up the hem. Since the sides are cut on a curve, they stretched out and I couldn't just turn and hem the bottom the way I would with a dirndl-style skirt.
I think that prewashing homespun fabric before you cut into it is very important, since it is a little stiffer with sizing when it comes straight off the bolt, and gets very soft after even one wash. All that said, I like how my first homespun dress turned out, and will definitely use this fabric again if the opportunity arises.
In these photos that Mr Rat took at the park, I’m also wearing one of my homemade capes for extra warmth and a brown jade necklace and earrings that Mr Rat made me as a gift several years ago.
I feel as though almost all of my posts now start with an apology for the present irregularity of posts here on the blog, and I wish I could say that it is likely to change. . . But probably it won't, and posts will likely keep on being spotty for the rest of this year at least. 2018 has really been a rough one for Mr Rat and me. Every month has brought new challenges, unexpected problems, and all kinds of daily difficulties. November was no exception: first Mr Rat was sick with one of those head colds that makes it hard to sleep at night, and then we traveled to California for a week to visit his parents for Thanksgiving (luckily, he was feeling better by then), but when we got back I came down with some version of what he had. Between that and spending more weekends at family events now that we live closer to my parents and siblings, we just haven't had too many chances to take photos for the blog, even though we've both finished projects recently and have several other things in progress on our sewing table.
So I apologize! And hope that you will all be patient with the way life makes it hard to be consistent. Both Mr Rat and I care about documenting and reviewing our sewing projects for this blog, so don't worry----there will still be posts here, and I really do hope they will be more regular again next year. But until then, we'll just keep doing the best that we can.
All that being said, here are some photos I took with the tripod in the studio of a skirt set that I made to wear to California for Thanksgiving. Skirt sets are great to travel with, since I could wear the skirt with the blouse and then each separately with other tops and bottoms to make multiple outfits while packing very little. This particular set, which I sewed out of a $2 cotton queen-sized sheet that I found at Savers a few months ago, was also the perfect weight for enjoying the warm 70-degree California autumn days. I chose two tried and true patterns for my skirt set: my favorite 1970s skirt pattern Simplicity 7880, and the 1980s kimono-sleeved blouse pattern Simplicity 7460 that I sewed for the first time in the spring. What I didn't like about my first version of this pattern was that because the blouse is quite loose, it tends to shift around a bit while I wear it, making the lower v-neckline difficult to wear modestly. So this time I chose the higher, rounded neckline, which solved that problem nicely. It also makes it easier to wear this blouse under crew-neck cardigans, which is the only way I can wear it now that we've come back to Utah and found winter well arrived and settled in on the doorstep. But I know I'll be wearing it sweater-less next summer, and enjoying its versatility, practicality, and wearability. My favorite (and most worn) sewing projects combine those aspects with some artistic detail or bit of originality---in this outfit I think it is the subtle Victorian-like stripes that first drew me to buying the sheet, and also the spacing of the tiny buttonholes down the center front in sets of two. It took a long time to make so many buttonholes by hand, but it was worth it. I reused some tiny tan buttons salvaged from some old worn-out thrifted shirt that got turned into scraps some time ago to finish my top. The skirt was very simple and quick to make, since I used the existing deep hem of the sheet as the hem for the bottom of my skirt. I used waistband interfacing for stiffness, and also sewed in by hand a vintage metal zipper that I thrifted a long time ago. The seams are all finished with pinking shears.
And. . . I cut my hair. I've been thinking about it for a long time, but kept putting it off, and putting it off. I haven't stepped into a hair salon in about seven years. For most of that time, it just wasn't affordable for me to get haircuts, so my mom or Mr Rat would kindly trim my hair. And now that we have enough income that I can get my haircut without worrying about overwhelming our budget, I have been too frightened to go. When I was younger, the adults around me told me that I would grow out of my shyness. But I haven't, and the idea of talking to strangers can be enough to keep me from going outside on some days. Right before our trip I had a day where I was feeling up and brave and I decided I would walk to the salon first thing in the morning after my husband left for work----and I finally did it. My long hair was limp and straggly here in Utah because the humidity is so low. But with my new short hair, it has more wave and body again. Some days it curls a lot more than others, and most days it's a bit messy and wild, but overall I'm pleased with the change. Mr Rat likes it, so I think I'll keep it awhile.
I hope that you are all having a good close to your month, and that your start of December is peaceful, rather than stressful. The holiday season can be a hard one---but with some planning, it doesn't have to be more difficult than it has to be. At least, that is what Mr Rat and I are hoping. We are planning on going to a Christmas concert this weekend to celebrate the season. Is there anything that you do that is special to mark the upcoming end of the year or any of the many holidays that fall within the next month?
I made a black flannel version of 1970s-era McCalls 6209 almost exactly a year ago, and wore it so much last winter that I thought I'd better plan ahead and make another flannel version for this upcoming winter. In fact, I will eventually have three flannel versions of this pattern, since I also cut out a long-sleeve version in brown, which is awaiting my attention in my sewing basket. It's nice to have more than one dress I can rely on for extra warmth in frigid weather.
Since I've made this dress so many times before, I won't add any construction details this time. I'll just add that I'm wearing it here with a petticoat and stockings, and a glass bead necklace that belonged to my grandmother.
I hope that you are all having a good start to November, and that you had a safe and happy Halloween, if you live stateside.
Now that Folkwear has officially released their newest pattern, the 1940s Lindy Shirtdress, I can finally share my version of it with you all! While I was still on Instagram, I noticed that Molly Hamilton of Folkwear patterns had put out a call for sewers who were interested in pattern testing. I've never pattern-tested before and thought it would be an interesting opportunity, so I replied. I didn't get selected for the first round of pattern testing, but I did get an email inviting me to join the second, for this shirtdress. My reward for being a tester was a free copy of the test-pattern and 50 percent off a pattern of my choice from their catalog. I haven't sewn with Folkwear patterns before, mostly because they are rather expensive for me, so this was a lovely chance to get something I otherwise wouldn't. I ended up choosing the Gibson Girl blouse, partly because of some of the beautiful versions I've seen of it on the internet, like this one by Sallie Oh.
The photos above are the quick shots I took in my studio when I finished sewing the dress over a month ago. A week or so later, Mr Rat took the photos below while we were walking in the park. I've gifted this dress to my sister, who wears a lot of shirt-dresses to work (she is a professor). In the park photos, I'm wearing the dress with an experimental crochet purse that I made myself and a vintage brooch shaped like sewing scissors.
In terms of construction, this is one of the more complicated dresses that I have sewn thus far, with a shawl collar, pleats on the front bodice at the shoulder and waist, gathers in the back, cuffs on the 3/4 sleeves, a waist band, and a pleated and darted skirt made out of 5 panels (if i am remembering correctly). I used a piece of Indian block-printed cotton that I found at the thrift store in Santa Clara and had waiting in my stash for the right special project. This soft cotton was a good choice, because it was thin and easy to press and sew into the darts, pleats and gathers that give this dress its interest. It also had a nice, soft drape that made the flare of the skirt very lovely. The instructions of the pattern are clear and thorough, and I think that overall the dress has a good fit. I chose to sew a size small, although I'm right inbetween the measurements for a small and an extra-small. I think the next time I will sew this pattern I will adjust it for my own tastes: narrowing the shoulders, which are rather wide for my narrow shoulders (period appropriate to the 1940s, of course, but not my favorite look on myself), and possibly substituting a full gathered skirt for the pleated skirt. Changing the skirt should be easy, since the dress has a side zipper and the skirt is attached to a waistband that sits at the natural waist. All I have to do is make sure that I have a side seam that leaves an opening for the zipper.
If you've never tried Folkwear Patterns, I can now say that I recommend them. I think their patterns are unique and interesting and well drafted, and I look forward to trying more in the future.
I've made 1970s-era Simplicity 8611 before in black broadcloth, and it is a much loved member of my closet. Jumper dresses are so versatile, since any change of blouse makes them feel like a new dress altogether. In these photos, I am wearing my new golden version of Simplicity 8611 with my homemade peter pan collar blouse and one of my first ever homemade bags. I didn't use a pattern for my duck-goose bag---I found the panel of printed fabric at Goodwill and sewed two of the pieces together, using big scraps of muslin from my scrap box to interline it for some structures and some large pieces of linen leftover from my husband's shirt to line it. The wooden handles are from JoAnn fabric stores, bought with a coupon. So the grand total of the cost for my new tote bag was about $6. Tote bags are so useful for library trips, walking to the grocery store, or just carrying a sketchbook and a book of poetry to the park. On Sundays (like the one when these photos were taken) I use my handmade bag to carry my scriptures and a shawl to church.
The cotton for the dress is also a Goodwill find. In its previous life it was a king-size sheet, but I like it better as my new dress. I've worn it quite a few times since I finished it three weeks ago. As Mr Rat remarked, it matches the leaves exactly, and it pleases me to wear something special to enjoy the spectacular color of our neighborhood. Mr Rat and I watched an episode of 'Autumn Watch' on PBS recently and learned that people like us who go out to enjoy the fall foliage are called "leaf peepers." Autumn Watch is an unexpectedly funny show: in the first episode they aired hilarious (and sometimes tragic) footage of squirrels fighting over cached nuts, and bears eating tree-loads of apples.
Since I've sewn this dress before, its construction was quick and easy and had no surprises. I pinked most of the seams, lined the bodice with the same fabric that I used to make the rest of the dress, hand-picked the zipper, and used the big scraps left over to make door-cozies (my sister says that's what those tubes of stuffed fabric are called in England) for all of our downstairs doorways. The townhouse we're renting has two big sliding glass doors downstairs plus a front door and a garage door. This means that during the winter it is frigid and drafty downstairs. So now thanks to the leftovers from my new dress, our apartment is remarkably warmer. And that's a very nice thing, since it makes looking forward to winter not so hard.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew