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Sherlock Holmie

 

I was so intrigued when I came across Vogue 9288 a couple years ago that I feverishly hunted it down online (I *think* this was a pattern I couldn’t find in my size on etsy or ebay so I ended up buying it from an IG follower who had it in their stash), and waited to come across the perfect fabric for it. That day came when my friend Mimi destashed some of her fabric onto me and I received several yards of this perfectly-autumn-orange boucle that kind of looked like muppet fur and definitely looked fun and interesting. It took me a while to get around to finally cutting the project out as I was waiting for LA to get cold enough (sigh…I’m still waiting!) but by the time I did, I had made a HUGE mistake- I missed tracing and cutting out one essential pattern piece for the cape, the front center panel that each side of the cape buttons onto! So I had cut out all my pieces from fabric thinking I had PLENTY of room and not being frugal with the placement at all! Of course, by the time I realized what I had done, it was too late- there was not enough fabric left to squeeze that front panel from, not even enough to try and Frankenstein something together (although I’m sure I could have made it work with more thoughtful pattern placement). I searched EVERYWHERE for a remnant of this fabric- the fabric Mimi had originally purchased it from was out, so then I made inquests on instagram for anyone who might know where to find it, googling “orange boucle” fabric and scouring all the results. I found myself on European fabric store websites translating the pages to English, thinking I might have found it, but alas it just was not meant to be.

I banished the pattern to the back of my filing cabinet because seeing it brought me too much grief- what a waste of all that pretty fabric due to a shitty mistake on my part! But eventually enough time passed that I found myself re-inspired to cut out the pattern once again. This time the inspiration came from a beautiful (and also very autumnal!) wool I was gifted from The Fabric Store. It’s a classic plaid made of brown, tan and orange hues and it’s not-too-beefy for our mild LA winters.

As soon as I saw it, I was both excited to use it and annoyed with myself for always finding a way to make yet another coat or jacket even though I live in a part of the country that gets the least use out of them. Whatever- you’re supposed to dress for the climate you want, not the climate you have, right? Ha! I knew my vision for this cape was way different than the original one I had planned in the orange boucle, but I also realized that this is exactly where my tastes are today- classic, chic, and simple (she types, as a pile of animal print faux fur sits in her craft room waiting to be turned into a swing coat LOOOL).

Anyways, this time I made sure to trace the missing piece from the pattern that I had somehow forgotten about last time, and I cut everything out from this beautiful Japanese Glen Check wool. I figured that the plaid was busy enough that my non-pattern matching wouldn’t be super noticeable, but I’ve also learned after years of sewing that the less attention I pay to pattern matching, the better it comes out. I swear I have been meticulous about trying to get lines to match up before to absolutely no avail, while other projects seem to magically match up at the side seams. This cape is not perfectly pattern matched, but considering it was not a priority for me, it didn’t come out too badly!

This Vogue Easy Pattern was actually pretty easy (a lot of them are more appropriate for intermediate sewists, which I personally don’t mind, but I know can be a little stressful if you’re a beginner and feeling like the project is too advanced for your skillset- though I have to keep reminding myself that “Very Easy” doesn’t necessarily translate to “Beginner”), and suitable for a relatively quick sew, seeing that this pattern isn’t very fitted, so won’t require too many tweaks or adjustments. Mostly you just want to make sure the shoulders suit your frame well, that you have enough room in the front if you have a large bust, and that the length is right for you (I shortened mine just a bit as I am petite and I didn’t want to be completely dwarfed by a big wall of plaid when I wore this thing). The construction is very straightforward- it consists of two main pieces: the front center panel and the back cape, which attaches to the front panel on the sides with buttons. You can also make a belt that doesn’t actually attach to the cape but just ties around your body and holds the front panel in place. You can absolutely make and wear this cape without the belt and it’s super cute, but on me it was a bit shapeless so I love wearing it with the belt. You could also do well to sew a couple of belt loops on the front panel to hold it in place; depending on what you wear underneath it, the belt might want to drift around a bit so I might add them to mine just to make the belt feel a little more stable.

The one thing I did to elevate this simple make was to make bound buttonholes instead of regular ones, because the buttonholes are the main closures to get in and out of the cape and therefore will have a lot of stress put on them. Bound buttonholes are generally much stronger in terms of stability in a bulky fabric like wool, but I also don’t like how my machine makes buttonholes on thick fabrics- they just look a bit unkempt and unprofessional, so whenever I work with thick wool fabrics I opt for bound buttonholes (you can also get nice buttonholes professionally sewn in at a shop but I have no idea where to get that done in LA during COVID). And because I made bound buttonholes, the underside of the fabric was much thicker and took up more space than regular buttonholes, so I decided to face the whole top part of the underside of the front panel instead of just relying on the thin facings that were at the edges. It was a very smart idea and it also makes the whole panel a little bit warmer since it’s got two layers in the front (not that it will matter much here in LA, but who knows where the future will take me and my cute cape!)

I like making bound buttonholes, but ten of them is…A LOT. VERY MUCH A LOT. I think it took me a whole day and a half just to complete them, but of course now that it’s all over, I am SO glad that I spent all that extra time on them. They look so nice! And they set my buttons off so well! Speaking of buttons, I found these (and about 6 other sets that I immediately fell in love with) from a vintage button shop on etsy based in Canada. They have the most incredible vintage buttons- none of that plastic crap that Joanns sells, these are all beautifully designed metal pieces with the most lovely details. There were so many that I liked, I’m pretty impressed that I limited myself to just to the 6 sets I got, but I rarely come across buttons that make me stop in my tracks so this seemed like a smart investment. I bought two sets to pair with this cape in hopes that one of them would work, and these lionheads were the clear winners (the other art-deco set I got in the correct size have a great design but were too bright gold for the colors of the cape- the dark, muted antique metal of the lions ended up being PERFECT). I’m just crazy about how well the buttons work- they feel ornamental and extravagant paired with a fabric that feels a bit utilitarian and unfussy. A little too much paired with a little too little, ending up in “just right” Goldilocks territory!

This Vogue cape comes in size XS-to XXL which fits chests/busts from 29.5″ to 48″.

Thanks as always to Claire for the pictures!

 

Turia Dungarees in Yellow Linen

I made these overalls once before in a shorter version, and they have been a warm weather staple for me ever since. On a whim I decided to make another pair,  full length this time, and in a really fun color. Initially I was going for pink or mauve twill, but after I hopped into The Fabric Store a couple months ago, I became fixated on making them in one of the gorgeous linens they have in stock, which I imagined would be comfortable and relatively cool to wear even on hot LA days. A bolt of bright yellow mid weight immediately called to me from the wall of linens- more sunny day yellow than butter yellow if you’re wondering, since pics don’t really do this color justice.

 

I’ve never had my ‘colors done’ per se, but, now after 37 years of living in this skin, I know exactly what hues make it SING. Yellow, chartreuse, rusty orange, any shade of brown- they all tend to look great on my skin, which has yellow undertones and pops when draped in these colors. This used to bum me out when I was younger because I would always be drawn to the bright purples and pinks and reds in stores. Few high schoolers, at least in my day, gravitate towards a neutral + orange + yellow palette, which are colors that more often than not look kind of ‘meh’ on the rack. But as soon as I would try those colors on (always urged to give it a try by my mother, who already knew the transformation that would happen), the result was undeniable. Brown was my color! Olive green made me radiant! Paprika made my eyes pop! In contrast, bright reds, hot pinks and brilliant purples just washed me out, made the bags under my eyes look a bazillion times heavier, made my skin look gray and sallow (yes, I had awful bags under my eyes, even in grade school- I had terrible allergies and stayed up too late reading most nights). Now this certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t wear colors I love even if they don’t “go” with my skin (although red has remained a no-no for me since it doesn’t elevate my skin OR my mood), but as I have gotten older and started paying attention to different facets of what I like and dislike, I’ve noticed that I rather enjoy stomping around in colors that you don’t see people wear as often. This skin I’m in, it BUCKS TRENDS! Funny how it takes decades to appreciate the littlest things…

BACK TO THESE OVERALLS. There isn’t really much else to share, since not only did I make these overalls once before, but I even made the EXACT SAME MISTAKE in sewing them that I did the first time. And guess what! I didn’t forget that I made a weird mistake in the construction process when I first made them, I just forgot what the problem was specifically and was too lazy to read my previous blog post about it (which literally would have taken me only 60 seconds, I know, I know- I’m rolling my eyes at my own self). I think I assumed that once I came to my wonky misstep, I would totally remember what the initial problem was and I would be able to fix it easily. And that did happen, but about 2 steps too late. The issue is in the way that the back upper pattern piece is nested on the pattern sheet (and this is no fault of the designer- I should have been paying closer attention! Although it’s interesting to note that I did make the same mistake twice!) Most of the pattern pieces are nested in a similar way with the largest size on the outside and the smaller sizes graded smaller and smaller inside those lines, but on this particular pattern piece, the largest size is on the outter-most side on one half of the piece, but on the other side it’s on the inner-most side. Does that make sense? Lot’s of patterns are formatted this way and haven’t been a problem for me, but I guess I usually see patterns drafted as all one way or the other, so the switch that happened on the pattern paper didn’t register in my brain, and I ended up cutting the correct size on one half of the pattern piece and a smaller size on the other. Essentially this means that the back pattern piece that connects the straps is too narrow to accommodate them, so (two times, now) I have had to add an additional slice of fabric to the back side seams to make up for the smaller size I cut out. Bah humbug. One of those things no one else will notice, or will think is a design feature. BUT I KNOW. I KNOW FOR TWO PAIR!

Aside from that snafu, everything came together beautifully. Because linen likes to fray so easily I tried to finish and/or bind all of my seams, and for some spots that didn’t get special treatment in the construction of the overalls (instructions suggest you use flat felled seams on many of the pieces, but some are left raw) I made some self fabric bias tape and used it to cover the raw seams, specifically in the bib area and the back straps. As with the overall shorts I made, I only used one zipper because two were unnecessary, and I graded to a size larger in the pants at the hips (38) and kept the top a straight size 36. I also used my Ginger jeans pockets for these overalls (the pockets drafted for this pattern are really tiny), ignored the pocket placement stated on the pattern pieces, and instead tried the almost-completed garment on and positioned the pockets on my butt where they would look best. This should be standard procedure for all pants making that comes with back pockets, since everyone’s booty is different and pocket placement can really make or break the way a butt looks.

When I first finished sewing them up, the overalls fit pretty snugly in the thighs, but, as I had hoped, literally within minutes the linen had relaxed significantly and the legs were very comfortable and loose-fitting without looking too big. When I make this pattern again in a sturdier fabric than linen, I might go up one more size in the pants so that I can ensure that they don’t fit too tightly in the hip and thigh area.

I am in love with the color of these overalls and other people seem to be, too- I don’t think I have worn them once without a stranger coming up to me and complimenting them. But linen is a tricky fabric to pair with this kind of garment. Overalls are designed to get a lot of wear and tear and as such they are usually made with a very stable fabric, most commonly denim. After a few weeks of moderate wear, mine are already starting to pill in the seat and the thighs, and of course they are always wrinkly when I first put them on, as linen tends to be. This of course will not keep me from wearing them into the ground, but they might not last as long as, say, the first version of this pattern I made a couple of years ago, which are comprised of a heavy twill and are still going VERY strong.

Whatever I decide to do for my next pair, I am really happy with how these yellow linen ones turned out and I am glad to be reminded of how NOT to cut out that back pattern piece out next time. Third time’s a charm, right?