My Self-Sewn Backpack

I can’t believe it’s almost time to go back to school… Time flies when you don’t have to keep track of the days. At least I’m ready for school now that I’ve finished my backpack! I’m really excited to share this make.

First of all, this is my second time making a backpack that isn’t a messenger bag. I made the pattern for this backpack last year, and I the backpack I made lasted the entire school year. It ended the year a bit worse for wear, but making and using it gave me the insights I needed to make this year’s even better.

When I made the pattern, I copied an LL Bean backpack, marking and measuring each individual piece, drawing the pieces out, and adding seam allowance. To sew it together, I… Well, basically figured it out as I went along. I made a few mistakes along the way, but in the end I worked out a good way to sew all the pieces together.

Last year, I had a lot of trouble finding metal backpack zippers that were long enough. I ended up buying regular long metal zippers and adding zipper pulls. This year, I simply bought zipper tape and zipper pulls and created my own custom-length zippers. I realized that bias-binding the straps was much easier than turning them inside out, and it gives them a flat, clean look. The most trouble I had with this project was figuring out the proper size for the side mesh pockets. I knew I wanted them for my water bottle and maybe a travel mug, so they were worth the effort.

I also added a padded device pocket that wasn’t in the original backpack. My school iPad has an Otterbox case, so it doesn’t really need the protecting, and I don’t have any other delicate devices that need protecting, but a girl can dream. It seemed like a useful addition, and I’m sure my Otterboxed iPad will still like it.

One of the other tricky parts of this construction was the inner mesh pocket and pencil slots. However, I think the pocket and slots definitely add a nice touch, and I might even find something to put in them. The last thing I did that varied from the original backpack was to make the bottom of the two big pockets a double layer. Hopefully this will help it to stand up to the rigors of school.

Overall, this backpack was easier to construct than last year’s since I had the pattern and method already figured out. I think it could blend into a sea of store-bought backpacks, and I’m ready to have it with me as I face senior year!

Water Lilies and Waves

Guess what? I actually finished my bathing suit in time to wear it this summer! I made my suit last year, too, but it was a little too short for my liking, so I went to the other extreme. It worked out perfectly.

First of all, this fabric- it’s from Zenith and Quasar fabrics, and I love it. I was on the fence for a while about whether or not it would be too busy of a pattern for a bathing suit, but in the end I liked it so much that I decided to stop overthinking and just buy the fabric. The print turned out to be smaller than I thought it would be, so it ended up being perfect for my design.

As far as patterning goes, this is a mashup of several patterns. Four, to be exact. The bottoms are constructed from a leggings pattern, a quarter circle skirt pattern, and a swimsuit briefs pattern. The leggings are the Peg Legs from Patterns for Pirates. The quarter circle skirt was self-drafted, using the waist measurement of the leggings rather than my actual waist measurement. The swimsuit briefs are from Jalie 3023, the pattern I used for my bathing suit last year. For the top, I used my self-drafted t-shirt pattern and inserted a shelf bra. Closet Case Patterns has a tutorial for this that I loosely followed.

Overall, I’m very pleased with how this suit turned out. Admittedly, I think I might’ve stuck out on the beach because I was so covered up, but this is what’s comfortable for me, so it doesn’t bother me that it’s a little different. The leggings aren’t hemmed, because I wanted to leave the option to cut them shorter if I didn’t like them so long, but so far I’ve kept them full length. The sleeve, skirt, and shirt aren’t hemmed either, but that was just because I ran out of time before vacation… But at any rate, I can now say that this suit is beach tested, and it held up perfectly to pounding waves, sand, and rocks. I could never have bought a suit like this in a store, and I’m so glad I have the skills to make my own!

Kaitlyn’s Semi Dress 2018

In 2017, my friend Kaitlyn and I collaborated to make her dress for our school’s semiformal dance- she designed it and painted on it, I drafted a pattern and made it. That was undoubtedly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and last year, we decided to do it again.

This is the dress Kaitlyn designed. As soon as she showed it to me, I started contemplating how I would go about making it. I decided that it would be easiest to make the sleeves a separate piece from the dress itself. Therefore, the outfit consists of a sleeveless dress and a shrug that’s basically just two raglan sleeves joined with green fabric bands. I reused the pattern from her dress last year, which was a short-sleeved dress with a tiered circle skirt. I used the longest skirt pattern piece, and extended the bodice. By the way, it’s slightly hard to tell in the pictures, but I definitely didn’t accidentally cut the bodice too short and have to sew on an extra band of fabric to make it long enough. Haha. I would never do something like that. At least it’s not too noticeable…

The shrug was trickier than the dress. I had to sew the bands on in such a way that there were no raw edges and it didn’t get stretched out of shape, which required many, many pins, and some hand stitching.

The sleeve Kaitlyn designed is really cool! I was apprehensive about the leaf cutouts, but the technique I used worked well. I had Kaitlyn draw on the sleeve piece with a white quilting pencil where she wanted the cutouts. I then used a tight zigzag to go around each leaf shape, placing a piece of tear-away stabilizer under each cutout before I sewed. Then I very carefully tore away the stabilizer and cut out the inside of the leaves. After that I attached the bands, Kaitlyn tried the shrug and the dress on, I marked the sleeve and shirt hems, and then I finished the hem, arm holes, sleeve hem, and neckline. For the arm holes and neckline, I turned them under and topstitched with a twin needle. I was afraid it might distort the neckline, but it worked great!

As a finishing touch, Kaitlyn painted a vine around the leaves. Was I nervous about letting her paint on the entirely finished shrug? Actually, no. Last year I was definitely apprehensive about letting her paint the dress, but I needn’t have worried. She did an excellent job (but I have to say that because she’ll read this), and I trusted her entirely with this year’s dress.

I love how this dress turned out. It was so fun to work with Kaitlyn on this, and, while the project came with all the usual stresses of a big sewing project, the result was totally worth it.

Long-Sleeved Bodysuits

This is going to be a disproportionately short post for something I wear so often- I made this bodysuit a couple of months ago, and wear it every week. Here’s the thing, though- I originally made two, wore them all the time, and then one just… Disappeared. Vanished. I don’t know how I lost a whole bodysuit, but hopefully I’ll find it soon.

I used the same self-drafted pattern I used to make my floral bodysuit. I think it’s pretty good, but it pulls at the bust and I think the solution is to lower the armscythe. I’m going to tweak the pattern and try that on the next shirt I make.

Well, it’s not a very interesting article of clothing, but it’s definitely become a wardrobe staple. I’m looking forward to getting the fit perfect for this pattern!

BurdaStyle Larissa Jacket

I did it. I survived making this jacket. It wasn’t all bad- there were parts of the construction that were mildly satisfying- but overall, making this jacket was certainly an exercise in patience.

One change I made to the fit of the pattern was to shorten the sleeves by two inches. Besides that, the only change I made was to accidentally insert the zipper all the way to the bottom of the front piece. Leaving no room for the waistband overlap. Oops. Luckily, I was able to tweak the waistband and now it isn’t noticeable. The zippers on the sleeves and pockets were tricky, but I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out, and I learned a new technique.

I’m obsessed with this lining! It’s heavier than if I’d gotten a true lining fabric, but I think that in this case it works well, and I don’t think having a light lining fabric would work well with the main jacket fabric, which is faux suede. I absolutely love the flowers.

Those back pleats confused me. Sewing them was a little tricky, but I think they came out well. Overall, the finished jacket was definitely worth all the angst and struggle that went into it! I can’t wait to wear this all the time once the weather gets just a little warmer!

Simplicity 1194

It seems like a really long time since I made this dress, but it’s actually only been about a year. Maybe less than a year… Or maybe I’m making excuses for not blogging about it a year ago.DSC_0212 The only change I made to the pattern was to take in the bodice at the side seams. This is such a fitted style that having the extra ease in the bodice didn’t look right. I seem to recall that I had some trouble putting in the invisible zipper and getting it to zip over the waist seam. If I were to make this again, I would hem it by hand. I was too crunched for time to do that when I was making it, but I wish I had. Other than those few things, I like how it turned out. I wore it last year for Easter, and I made a matching pillbox hat. Alas, I don’t have much opportunity for formalwear in everyday life, so I don’t really wear this dress. As far as construction and fit goes, though, I would have to say it’s mostly a success.DSC_0213DSC_0211

Flannel Shirt- Simplicity 8297

By now you’re probably wondering, Is that something you just sewed, or did you make it a year ago and are just getting around to posting it now? Good question. Complicated question, but good question. I started making it last winter. I sewed most of it, then got deterred by the buttonholes. All I had to do was set in the sleeves, do the buttons and buttonholes, and hem it, but it languished in a UFO bin for a year. Finally I realized that I’d done about forty buttonholes on our new machine and I should just finish the shirt.

Look at the pockets! They blend in! And the plaid matches at the front and sides! If I can toot my own horn, I’m pretty proud of that. The yoke/back seam is a French seam, but the other seams are just serged. My only deviation from the pattern was to topstitch the facing down so it wouldn’t just be flappy and loose. The one thing I’m not happy about with this shirt is that the sleeves are a bit short. I didn’t realize they weren’t full-length sleeves when I started making the shirt. I tried sewing knit cuffs onto the sleeves but that looked pretty awful, so I left it as is, and it hasn’t bothered me as much as I thought it would.

I’m glad I finally finished this, because it’s become a wardrobe staple. Also, I’ve learned that I really like plaid flannel. I have another shirt with this same pattern in the works. It’s definitely a success!

Summer Dresses

Now that it’s January, I think it’s fitting that I tell you about these dresses I made this summer.  The pattern I used was Butterick 6318.  It’s one of their a Retro Butterick patterns, and I loved the waist ties and full skirt. You may recall from my Liesl Dress and circle skirts that when it comes to skirts, the more full the better.  Now, okay- the skirt on this dress that I made isn’t particularly full. In my defense, that’s because I didn’t have a particularly large piece of fabric to work with.  If I’d had more fabric, that skirt would’ve been super full.

So, goldfish. Or betta fish. I’m not entirely sure, but I love this fabric. It was actually a border print- the flower fabric that I used for the ties was the border of the fabric. My mom thought it would make a lovely tablecloth. 

This is my second version of this pattern. The pattern uses a facing for the high neckline, and I wasn’t crazy about the look of it. For this one I made bias binding from more of the border fabric and used it for the neckline. I also lowered the neckline a bit so it wasn’t so close to the neck, and shortened the waist of the dress so the waist seam would be better hidden by the ties.

All in all, this isn’t my favorite dress I’ve ever made, but I wore it a lot this summer and the fabric is really pretty. The ties can make the dress sort of hot around the waist, but it’s not a big deal. The ties cinch in the waist nicely. I’m sure I’ll wear this dress next spring and summer, and I love the betta (gold?) fish.

P.S. Happy New Year! I wrote this post last year and I definitely meant to publish it before now… May your new year be filled with lots of sewing and pretty clothes!

Liesl’s Dancing Dress

I am sixteen going on seventeen, so what better time to make Liesl’s Dancing Dress from Edelweiss Patterns? I’d been wanting to make this dress for a long time, so getting to finally sew it was frustrating, because of the chiffon  awesome! Despite the slipperiness of the chiffon, I had a great time making this dress. To be honest, one of my favorite things about the pattern was the fact that the pattern piece for the sleeves is enormous. It’s the size of the pattern piece for the skirt panels. There are seven skirt panels- the skirt is super full, and I love it- but the sleeves are still huge. I’m easily entertained.

The only change I made to the pattern was to shorten the bodice. I used French seams wherever the instructions suggested it, and the finish the French seams is beautiful. I wore the dress for my cousin’s wedding, and I’m planning to wear it for my school’s semiformal next month. I love wearing it; as soon as I put it on it makes me want to find a telegraph boy and go and dance in a gazebo. So far I haven’t managed to find a telegraph boy to dance with me, but I’ll let you know if I do. All in all, it was a really fun pattern to sew up and I love my dress!

Self Drafted Bodysuit + Gathered Skirt

This is kind of a funny story. I decided I wanted to make a bodysuit, because they look nicer with skirts than t-shirts. My mother suggested that since she would pay for the pattern for me, I should buy a Big 4 pattern when they went on sale, which is all the time. Instead of waiting for it to go on sale like a normal person, and also because for some reason I really didn’t feel like cutting out a paper pattern, I decided to draft my own. I’m lazy that way… I used my self-drafted t-shirt pattern for the top of the bodysuit, and found a tutorial for drafting a bodysuit and used it to draft the bottom.


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