Category Archives: alterations

Cozy hats for a white December

I’ve had this pattern since about February. My dad and I were heading out to photograph some bald eagles (and an AMAZING hoar frost) the next morning and I didn’t want to be hatless. Something I’ve learned about myself over the years is that if I get cold I get pretty whiny. Since it was going to be frigid I decided I needed to make a hat.

Hat Pattern

I used to have this awesome fleece hat that was so incredibly warm and had an attached, drop down/fold up into the hat balaclava. Somehow I lost it after a few years, but I found this pattern and it looked very similar.

I went to Jo-Ann’s about a half an hour before they closed that night. I found some pretty ugly dark brown heavier fleece and came home with every intention of making this hat that night. The only problem with this was that by the time I got home it was pretty late, and I had to meet my dad at his house at 4am. And he lives about a half an hour away. I went to sleep instead. And the hat pattern & fabric sat. For 10 months. In the bottom of a closet.

Its been an incredibly cold December here, with lots of snow already. Tromping about campus with nothing covering your ears isn’t very pleasant, so I decided I want to make this hat. I bought some cute fleece with stripes when it was on sale a two weeks ago. Then this past week, I had my first final on Monday. Afterwords I just needed a break, and I sat down to sew this hat.

It has a sizing guide on the back so I measured and used the size it told me to, cut it out, and sewed it up. It came together REALLY quickly. Less than an hour from opening the pattern to trying it on. At the time, I found it interesting the way they had you finish the seams with a straight stitch on the inside and a zigzag in the seam allowance.

Hat edge finishing

It calls for a stretchy fleece, so it seemed to me that you should be using a zigzag to allow it to stretch. Maybe I should have listened to myself because I finished the hat part and tried it on, and it was too small. Not so small I couldn’t wear it if I needed to or anything, but just too small at the seam between the ear covering part and the top hat part. With no stretch what so ever!

Fortunately, my best friend apparently has a smaller head than I do and it found a new home with her!

Nat in a Hat

You can kind of see how wonky the stripes are in that picture. You should really read the construction details before deciding how you’re going to match the strips. I didn’t do that. I just figured this piece went to that piece and they should match… oh right about there. Didn’t quite work

I was kind of bummed because I didn’t have a ton of that fabric left and definitely not enough for a whole new hat. After giving Natalie her new hat, I came home and made another one, out of the ugly brown fabric. And I cut the size bigger.

ugly brown fleece

I told you it was ugly.

As I was getting really to attach the headband/ear warmer part to the hat part, I thought, Eureka! I’ll piece together enough of the cute stuff for the top! And have a brown headband part! And it will be adorable!

So I frankenfleeced the hat part together and sewed it up, finished the whole hat and loved it.

hat on a desk

The only problems I had with the pattern are sizing or placement related. The balaclava is supposed to be attached 1.5″ from either side of the back seam. When I did this, I couldn’t get any part of it over my head. So I’m attaching it with sew on snaps. If I make it a third time out of better fleece, I’m going to shorten the height of the headband part, and the front of the hat part. It looks a little goofy now, but its so cozy!

I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on it and I’m quite proud of it. I think how it came out looks rather RTW so that’s cool, and I think thats why everyone (myself included) is so impressed that I made it.

It was a quick easy project that I’d recommend if you need a toasty hat!


Pondering sewing priorities

I’ve been taking a week long sewing break. It seems like its been a month though. After rush rush rushing through the Purple Party Dress project, I just want to relax. But I’ve recently discovered as the temperature gets lower and lower, that I don’t have coat that fits. Well, I have one that technically fits. I mean, it zips up and covers my body. But it is not attractive and not really the style I like. Oh, and I have temporarily borrowed an old one that belonged to my dad, its a super warm Carhart complete with some lovely battery acid holes. Like I said, its warm.

I’m trying not to be too sad about this because although I loved my old coat, I’ve gotten a ton of wear out of it. Not to mention that I bought it in 2005. I was just enamored with it when I bought it. Its a camel pea coat that hits about mid thigh, made out of a soft wool/cashmere blend, insulated with thinsulate. Its going to be hard for another coat to live up to it.

As I see it, I have 3 options.

1. Buy new coat. The problem with this option is that its going to cost about $200 to do this with an equally good coat. In a plus size. And I’m not even sure if the one I’ve been thinking about would fit. I’m looking at this one from LL Bean and this one from Lands End.

2. Refashion old coat. Its basically an older, dressier version of those two coats. No cute cuff bands or interior pockets. But since its double breasted, I’m thinking about moving the buttons. This is a totally shoddy solution, but it might work for long enough that a. I can make/ buy a new one or b. I can lose 20 pounds and it will fit again.

3. Make new coat. My husband came up with this idea. I found some navy coating weight wool online for like $6 a yard, and some Thinsulate for about the same price. BUT I don’t have a pattern for it though, (maybe something like this?)and my mother is concerned about all the bulk in the seams and that perhaps I’d be biting off a bit more than I can chew. I’m also concerned about it being a little bit out of my skill set, but I felt so inspired by Gertie’s tailored Lady Grey coat sew along that I think I could probably tackle it as long as I took my time and sought help when I needed it.

I’m also inspired by Lindsay T’s peacoat .A peacoat made out of something other than wool? A new idea to me, but it might be the solution for this problem. If I could find some heavy winter weight polar fleece like is in those winter Northface jackets, I could use it as a lining to a much thinner shell part, and still get the peacoat look I like. And no bulky seams, or dealing with fraying lining fabric. Or maybe I would just deal with the lining fabric. I like silky lined coats and jackets much more than fleece ones. No one likes bunched up uncomfortable sleeves.

So these are my thoughts on coat making. Probably going to refashion the old coat as an initial AND temporary solution. I’m afraid that if I do that, I’ll just leave it and never come back to dealing with the real issue at hand. But I’m declaring it here for all the internet to read, so hopefully I will remember to make it a temporary solution! 🙂

On top of all this I have two shirts I’m dying to make.

I think I’m going to try to sew along with Barbara at Sewing on the Edge. I think that sewing a project that may be challenging for me because of the pattern would be good for me. And I’m quite sure that it will be challenging technically and to get the fit right. After all, every shirt I’ve made had some amount of gathering on the torso, so it really has taken some of the worry out of fitting. BUT I think it would be very nice to make a project with what is, at least in my mind, “easy” fabric. Nothing with strange creases that are meant to be there, or wacky prints that make it hard to mark the fabric, or anything slippery. Just plain, white cotton. I have two patterns I am thinking about using. One has princess seams and would undoubtedly be more difficult. The other has a side bust dart so it would be easier. But either way, I am pretty sure I will be stretched in my sewing skills.

Of course, me and my crazy lack of confidence with fitting skills, I think I should make a muslin first. But if I do that then I won’t have time to do all these other projects! I got the book Fit for Real People for my birthday in September, and have been dying to try out some alterations. They have you do a tissue fitting first, and then alter from there with no muslin. I did some small versions of the alterations on the Purple Party Dress, but I don’t think I did the best job. So this would be a great opportunity to try out step by step the method laid out in this book.

Then there is this other top I’ve been wanting to make. It has tucks and pleats and takes almost a whopping 4 yards of fabric. This McCalls, M5976. I got some really cute fabric on the red tag table at Jo-Ann’s for like $4 a yard, and I think I had a 50% off coupon on top of that, so finally I could justify buying enough fabric for a top that I’m not sure will be flattering at all.

Fabric for tucked blouse

As if these weren’t enough sewing projects to keep me busy until Christmas, I’m doing a craft show the weekend before Thanksgiving with my mom. Mostly I’m going to keep her company and for moral support, but I’d also like to make up some coffee cozies to sell myself. I guess we will see how quickly I get burned out on these projects. Maybe the cozies will be a nice quick, instant gratification project to take a break from heavier sewing.

Well now that I have talked your ear off about things I want to make and nothing I’ve actually made and relatively few pictures, I’ll let you go. 🙂

Shorts are finally done!

They’re functional, cool shorts! I’ll have to call them a success. The pattern wasn’t for anything phenomenal, and I didn’t get anything phenomenal. The fit is not great. They’re elastic waist shorts, how much can you really expect from them? Not to mention, I have no idea how to properly fit pants or shorts or skirts. Heck, I don’t even know what constitutes a good fit for me in this arena with ready to wear fashions! And that’s ok! Will perhaps post some pictures in the coming days.

Next project I’m working on is making some of these! Its a very functional project, because a new semester starts soon, and these are great for holding an I.D. to get on the bus quickly! Not to mention that carrying a backpack and a purse all over campus is rather unpractical. I’m all about ease and simplifying my life!