Raspberry Rucksack by Sarah Kirsten

Grace. Grace. Grace. I prayed this word over myself before I began this project. Grace in my life. Grace in my heart. Grace in my work. Grace, for all the will-be mistakes, shortcomings, and crooked stitches. Grace for all the real feelings of intimidation or unworthiness. Just grace. 

One of the last few things I sewed was my flannel Wiksten Haori, and I was pretty hard on myself during the whole process, striving for perfection in myself and with the completed garment. So, going into this project I knew grace would have to be at the forefront of my mind. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated by this pattern when I first received it. I’ve been drawn to less simple, more interesting designs lately, like the Philippa Pants, so even though I felt intimidated, I knew it would be a good thing to continue challenging myself and my sewing practice. And even though I felt that intimidation when I cut out my pattern pieces and got started, Sarah is such a gifted designer and genius at creating instructions (I have been blown away by her creativity), or as one other tester put it–“pattern wizard”, which is 100% accurate, so I knew I could trust her. Sometimes when I’m starting a pattern, I look at the cover of the finished project and think, how am I ever going to be able to do this? What was I even thinking of deciding to make this? Maybe this is out of my skill level. Maybe I shouldn’t use this beautiful fabric I’ve been saving. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. The most difficult part for me is always just getting started. My grandma says this is usually the most challenging part for her as well. I’ve also heard this is true for other sewists, artists, and creatives—just get started, that’s all you have to do. Luckily, in sewing we have patterns and instructions from amazing designers there to guide us through the process, because this is how it feels sometimes making a new pattern…it feels like taking the hand of the designer as they guide you through this amazing experience where you arrive at the end of the journey with this beautiful thing you’ve created.

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What Nana Made – An Introduction

When I first told my grandma about the idea for this project, she said, “Who would want to read about that.” She couldn’t believe that anyone would want to read about the simple and imperfect things she’s made and about her little life. My grandma has always been a humble woman, humbler than most, I think. When I look at photos from way back when, I don’t see imperfect things or a little life, I see the woman I love who persevered through more than I probably ever will and came out the other side this jewel of a person I get to have as a grandmother, and call Nana. 

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Organic Cotton French Terry Coat

I made this coat a few years ago, back before I really started blogging my sewing makes. It’s still one of my favorite things, so I thought I’d share it now. Back then, I was still experimenting with how to get homemade clothing not look so, well, homemade. I wanted the things I made to look like they could have been purchased from Anthropologie or somewhere similar. I’ve always been really picky about the clothing I wear, mainly, because I’ve always been very insecure. But the less insecure I’ve become, the more I’ve been able to develop my true sense of style, like peeling back the layers of an onion (Shrek, anyone?) to find the real me. So, if I had to thank my insecurity for one thing, I suppose it would be that.

For this coat, I decided not to follow any of the rules, and because of that and how it turned out, my sewing was really set free. I realized that you don’t, in fact, need to follow all the sewing rules, and that often there isn’t a wrong way to do things. Especially, you don’t need to follow a pattern exactly. I make changes from the pattern on nearly everything I make.

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Philippa Pants

OK, friends, these are the first real pair of pants I’ve ever made. Sure, I’ve made loads of Ninni Culottes and various other wide-leg pants, but those don’t need fitting like a jean type a pant, nor do they have a fly… Needless to say, I’m pretty proud of myself. 

I was lucky to be a tester on this pattern, and it was such a great experience to work with Anna and all the other testers. I had been wanting to make the Persephone Pants since last fall, but hadn’t yet gotten up the nerve to jump into the project. I’ve always had a difficult time finding pants and jeans that fit me well, so I was sure I’d have the same experience making pants, which is what kept me from jumping into the project, and I even had the fabric for it! When Anna put out the call for testers on Instagram, I thought it was finally time to tackle my fear and I was lucky to be accepted as a tester, which meant I was for sure making a pair of pants… 

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Sybil Tee Dress Tutorial – Part 3/Sewing with Linen

So you have your pattern pieces, let’s sew! All the techniques I use in this tutorial are how I sew all my linen pieces, as well as most wovens. Linen is a beautiful fabric but is loosely woven, so it’s important for me to finish all edges; I always use my serger, or you can use a zigzag stitch. I also try to highlight the wild and imperfect nature of the fabric when I can, such as using the selvage in place of a hem, like in this tutorial.

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Canyon Coat – Flannel Wiksten Haori

or The Gift of Imperfection

It was summer, and still outrageously hot, but talk of fall was starting to catch in the air, and I caught it, the longing for cooler, crisper days, and the longing to wear the clothing that wrapped itself around you like an embrace, sweaters, flannels, shawls… I dreamt up this flannel jacked then, during the last days of summer. When it was finally cool enough, I started on it, because who wants to make a warm jacket when it’s still 85 degrees out? It was a much more challenging project than I originally anticipated, and if I had known the effort that would go into it, I might not have started it at all. But I had just finished some flannel pajamas for my husband and brother for Christmas, so I was still in the mood to do some pattern matching, and I really wanted my own piece of flannel clothing. Plus, my first Wiksten Haori turned out so beautiful, I knew it would be even better in flannel. It’s been many years since I owned anything flannel, even though I love the fabric. I had many flannel pajamas as a child, my grandma would make pajamas for all five of her grandchildren every year (which is how she got the nickname nana pajama). And as an adult, I’ve had a flannel shirt here and there, but I’ve never loved the way I look in T-shirts or button down shirts, so my flannel ones never stuck around.

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On a whim last week I decided to change my sewing plans and use the fleece I’d been saving for a wearable muslin Berlin Jacket to make a cozy sweatsuit instead. The idea was inspired by two super cozy outfits I’d seen on Instagram here and here. I didn’t want a typical sweatshirt and sweatpants combo, but something more simple and modern. I had made the original Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee (old version of the pattern) before as a sweatshirt out of a thin french terry, which I love but isn’t quite warm enough for winter, so I thought I’d try using it again. PS. This pattern is free! Thanks, Tessuti!

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Wiksten Haori

I have been dreaming of making a Wiksten Haori since I first discovered the pattern through the many, many, many posts about it on Instagram between #wikstenhaori and #wikstenkimono. At the time, it was solely available through Making Magazine’s 4th Issue, so I quickly ordered a copy and started planning my jacket. It was still summer (I believe), and I wasn’t ready to start sewing it quite yet. Sometimes, when it’s still 95 degrees out, being motivated to make a jacket is tough, so I waited until the weather cooled down a bit. Meanwhile, I’d been tossing around ideas for which fabrics I wanted to use. I had a fleece I was thinking about using as a wearable muslin, but I knew I wanted a substantial jacket in the end. I’d also been dreaming about some sort of flannel jacket for fall and winter, so that was another top contender. In the end, I decided to use a mystery fabric from my stash that has the feel of something between a structured mid-weight linen and canvas.

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Silk Noil Hinterland Dress

I don’t know what came over me, but I just had to make another Hinterland Dress, and it had to be in purple silk noil. I think maybe I was having sewing withdrawals after being away from home for two weeks… When I got home, both my machines were either in the shop or unusable, and I was going CRAZY.  I am diagnosing myself with a low-level sewing addiction, for which the only cure is more sewing, obviously.  So… another Hinterland. I loved The Sarah Project’s silk noil version, which was my inspiration for this dress, and I had seen a few lovely purple silk noils floating around the internet, so the fabric choice was pretty easy. 

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