Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Spring Isla Dress With Jade Sleeves

I have made the Made by Rae Isla Dress so many times I have lost count but they have all been in prints. I decided to use this grey heather cotton Lycra knit from my stash to make a slightly longer grey version with long sleeves borrowed from the Jade Top pattern for cooler spring days. I cut this out ages ago and finally sewed it up in a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon.

I didn’t even hem it.

I know it will be worn a zillion times dressed up and dressed down.

Now to buy some new necklaces to go with it. It is the perfect backdrop. For the many other Islas and some tips on sewing knits with a regular sewing machine, check out Sewing with Knits 101, Sewing with Knits102 and my Me Made May wrap-up posts here, here and here.

Yay spring! The bees are back-seen in my flowers today!

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Sewing

Corduroy Tamarack Jacket

 

One of my goals this year has been to sew with fabric I already have. Over the past few years I have accumulated many yards of beautiful fabric (see below)

img_8309-1and I am focusing on using it in my sewing projects. One exception this winter was some corduroy that I purchased from Fabscrap, an amazing, volunteer-driven, non-profit organization whose mission is to keep fabric out of landfills by accepting donations from garment manufacturers and individuals and selling what is saleable to the public and then recycling what is left into industrial-grade felt that has many uses. I had the opportunity to visit Fabscrap last fall when the Love to Sew Podcast hosts Caroline and Helen hosted a meet-up there. It was really fun to meet them and other sewists and to see this amazing operation in the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Volunteers sort the donated fabric and then have the opportunity to take some home. I love this business model! A great way to meet fellow sewists. Fabscrap has occasional “flashsales” online via Instagram and when I saw wide-wale cotton corduroy for $5/yard I hopped on it. I have used it to make this York Pinafore which I have been wearing all winter and thought it would also be great for a second Tamarack Jacket. Turns out I was right!

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This corduroy is really high quality, soft and plushy with great drape unlike many other corduroys which are more stiff. I wasn’t sure at first whether I would quilt the corduroy itself. I had made a really cute, very pink,  Burda jacket for my daughter (see below-circa 1994)

img_3655where I quilted the lining by using quilting cotton and quilt batting and basically made 2 jackets, one the outer corduroy and the other the inner quilted lining and then sewed them together around all the edges with bias binding. The advantage of that approach is that all the seams are hidden. I was definitely tempted to use that approach. But I love the look of the quilting so I tried it on a sample sandwich of the three fabrics I was planning to use

img_4499and I was surprised how well it worked. I used a dark grey thread in my stash since there was no brown in my lining fabric and it was fine. img_6036I set my stitch length to a long length- I think I set it all the way to 4 but it might have been 3. I decided to have my quilting a bit wider apart. When I made my first version in cotton chambray, I quilted a slightly flattened diamond pattern about 3 inches apart.

img_0747-1With the corduroy, I decided to quilt using a 4 inch grid.

img_6008I used the corduroy to orient myself and then set my ruler to 45 degrees to draw the quilting lines with my chalk liner.

img_6009In both cases I didn’t end up basting the quilt sandwich but just used pins since none of the fabrics I was using were slippery and they really didn’t shift too much. In both cases I started my first line at the corner of the shoulder

img_0809and then used it to determine where to draw the next lines. I basically quilted an X and then quilted new lines working my way up and down the pieces. It went really quickly and was very satisfying to sew these straight lines.

Something that I did with my second Tamarack was to cut the pieces of batting and lining fabric a bit bigger than the outer corduroy pieces.

img_5705I didn’t have much shifting but this way after quilting everything I just used my rotary cutter to trim everything using the outer corduroy pieces as my guide so everything would line up nicely before sewing the jacket together. I don’t recommend cutting all three pieces bigger because I think you want to be able to orient your quilting lines on the outer piece knowing how it will line up in the finished garment.

I used a heavyweight cotton flannel to line the jacket. I wear my first Tamarack all the time but it is relatively lightweight and I wanted a version that was warmer for those colder spring and fall days. I was a little worried about the thickness of all of these layers but the only place this came into play was when I sewed my bias binding on and an area where I had joined two pieces lined up with one my corners with the bulk making it a little wonky. What I ended up doing was to switch the way my jacket opens so that the less wonky corner is on top. I could have unpicked the binding and re-sewn it so that the bulk wasn’t at the corner but it didn’t bother me that much. As I did with my first Tamarack, I sewed the binding strip on in a single layer and then turned it under and handstitched it in place. I love the way the diagonal lines in the corduroy look in the bias binding. It was worth the stress of sewing all that bulk!

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I thought about using buttons instead of snaps given the thickness of the corduroy and played around with some vintage buttons in my stash

img_6037but in the end, went with heavy duty coppery snaps from Joannes. I bought the handheld snap setter which wasn’t too expensive and works great. My better than a hammer. Totally worth the purchase.

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The most stressful and then satisfying parts of the Tamarack are the welt pockets. I almost didn’t add them since again I was worried about corduroy bulk but I just love them in my first version.

img_5791They are just the right size and shape for hands and keys and my phone. So I was brave and added them and was so glad I did. I have not been successful in making the inside view of the pockets cute so I adapted a little hack where once the pockets are sewn, I hand-sewed a rectangle of fabric over the inner view of the pocket.

img_5992Now they don’t swing around and I think it just makes everything more durable. I highly recommend this approach.

Size-wise I had made a straight 12 last year when I made my first version. I had actually cut it out a bit longer and had lengthened the sleeve pieces but once assembled I found that I didn’t need the length in either place which surprised me and I trimmed them back to the proportions exactly as drafted. I am 5’91/2″ and my torso is very long-I usually add 2 inches to all tops-but the proportions as drafted were perfect. I made my first version one year ago and I have put on some weight this year but I made the same size and it was just fine. For reference, right now my bust measures 37″ and my hips are 42 1/2″ and here is the size chart for the Tamarack.

img_6170I chose my measurements based on my bust but I am pretty sure my hips were smaller last year but since I knew that my jacket still fit me perfectly, I didn’t grade between sizes because I didn’t want to shift the proportions of the jacket. The fit is a bit loose and slouchy in a good way. I can wear two light layers underneath but it doesn’t really allow for a heavy sweater. If you plan to wear your jacket with heavier layers, I would suggest making a muslin. My shoulders are somewhat sloped and the dropped sleeves work well for me. I have plenty of room in the shoulders. The fit is really just right. The best part of both of my Tamaracks is how comfortable they feel when I wear them. They really are just light wrapping yourself in a comfy quilt.

I think I washed my fabrics twice before cutting just because they both were cotton and subject to shrinkage. This would not be a bad idea if you are concerned about shrinkage. I used scraps of quilt batting left over from quilting projects. This is such a great pattern for that. It is important to use quilt batting that doesn’t require close quilting. The all-cotton batting I use, Warm and Natural, can be quilted or tied so it is perfect.

I didn’t bind the inner seams with bias binding as some people do. It is a pretty look but all that bulk just overwhelmed me. I zigzagged the edges and in some places hand sewed the seams together with an overcast stitch to reduce fraying.

Here are many pictures of both jackets as worn after washing and drying it in my machines. I have not found any issue with it not fitting after washing-on the contrary the washing softens everything up and it fits better. I know from my experience as a quilter that these will just get softer and nicer to wear with age.

On the front door (version 2):

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On the front porch:

img_6103As worn after washing:

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img_6122At the Art Institute of Chicago (version 1):

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And at the Bean (Chicago):

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On a trip to NYC (version 1):

img_5161-1If you haven’t made this pattern I highly recommend it. It is actually easier than you would think to make. The only tricky part are the pockets and it was fun to learn to make them and hand sewing goes a long way to make them come out nice

img_5786(with the corduroy I had no choice since I just couldn’t get some parts of the assembly under the presser foot.

One more picture vivified (I have been vivifying all my pictures recently):

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I will definitely make this pattern again. I would love to sew a very light-weight version in linen or double gauze and hand-quilt the pieces. Feel free to ask any questions below. I can’t recommend this pattern more highly!

 

 

 

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Nursebean Reads: Winter 2019

I have really been enjoying reading this winter and have lots of new books to recommend. All the books below were terrific reads. I have a hard time singling any of them out because they are so varied and all so good but if I had to choose one it would be Chemistry, a spare, beautifully written book that is darkly funny, occasionally heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful. It is amazing what this author does in so few words-I am in awe of her talent and can’t wait to see what she writes next.

I loved Dani Shapiro’s latest book Inheritance. I would suggest not googling it. Just read it and let the story unfold. I read Devotion afterward and loved it even more and was so glad I had read them in that order.

Washington Black is a great read. The story and characters drew me in. It felt a bit like a cross between The Underground Railroad and The Signature of All Things-both excellent books themselves if you haven’t read them.

Once Upon a River was a great winter read. I loved the characters and the setting and the story. It started slowly but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down.

Freshwater is an exploration of one woman’s experience of mental illness but it is not just that. She explores spirituality, culture, sexuality, family. She takes you on a trip that gives you a sense of her experience of the world. It is hard to do it justice describing it. A totally original voice.

I continue to read and love Patti Smith’s work. She makes me want to read and travel and write and seek out beautiful things.

I have also been reading my way through Joan Didion and loving her beautiful incisive prose.

In the same vein, I really enjoyed Alexander Chee’s collection of autobiographical essays. I love his writing and look forward to reading his fiction.

The Great Believers is a hard book in terms of the subject but I am glad I read it.

Waiting for Eden is short, beautifully written, heartbreaking.

The Line Becomes a River is the experience of a journalist who works for several years as a Border Agent. It was inconsistent but the last section was worth the wait. I am glad I read it.

I also listened to this book in audio. The narrator is amazing. I have listened my way through all 10 books of the series-I highly recommend them.

And I read this book along with the rest of the country. I am glad I read it. It was a little bit like reliving those years right along with her which was a bit depressing but it is well written and thoughtful and worth reading.

My to-be-read pile is overflowing and I couldn’t be happier. I just started Bowlaway. I love the premise and the quirkiness of the characters. I can’t wait to see where the story goes.

Winter and books. A perfect combination!

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Quilting, Sewing

Christmas Stars Quilt

It is January! So I am sharing one of my 2018 completed projects, a Christmas quilt for my daughter!

This year I finally made a quilt with a pattern I had been meaning to try since I saw her awesome version here. I have been endlessly inspired by Erin’s beautiful quilts and color palates and I knew that this would be the perfect pattern to use for a Christmas quilt for my middle child who carries Christmas in her heart all year long.

I have nicknamed her my Christmas elf. She and her husband throw themselves wholeheartedly into the Christmas season and I thought it would be nice for them to have a special quilt to use during advent. Erin’s free pattern fit the bill. I love these oversized Ohio stars. I used a mixture of Christmas fabrics from the original Cotton and Steel designers lines (some of which I bought in a panic last spring when I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get them anymore) together with scraps from my stash, which included this red gingham left over from a set of matching duvet covers that were on my children’s bunkbeds back in Brooklyn when my Christmas elf was 3 (she is now almost 29!) I stuck mostly to blues and reds and aqua. I love that you can use so many different colors and still have a cohesive quilt. I have different versions floating through my head now.

I machine-pieced 9 blocks using the larger size of the stars from Erin’s pattern to make a throw quilt that is a bit bigger than 60 inches square. Then I started machine quilting it. Unfortunately, my machine had other ideas. I am generally a hand quilter and most of the machine quilting I have done has been on small pieces like the Tamarack Jacket. It worked a charm for that project but not so much for this quilt. Fortunately, I had seen Crinklelove‘s beautiful work on Instagram. It couldn’t have been easier to bundle off my top and bottom fabrics, choose a quilting design and wait a very short time. When I got the beautifully quilted quilt back, I was so pleased. I chose the orange peel design for the quilting because I like the juxtaposition of curved lines with straight-line piecing as can be seen here and here in my hand-quilted projects. I also liked the repeating star-like pattern in the quilting and the idea of an orange which brought me back to reading about early Christmas traditions that included oranges in the stocking. (Did that happen in the Little House books? I think it might have.) Here are some pictures of the finished quilt. Some of the fabrics are from stores I visited in person including The Cloth Pocket and Stitchlab in Austin, Tx. Using the fabrics in the quilt brought back memories of fun trips to those stores.

The oversized blocks came together so easily and it was just enough thinking-picking three fabrics that worked for each oversized-20 inch block-but not too much. I just made them at random but once I had 7 blocks, I laid them out to see how the values worked and then did a sort of tic tac toe grid alternating darker and lighter backgrounds which you can see here.

It is fun to finally share this project! I used the vivid filter in this picture to give a better idea of what the colors look like. The light was very stark on the day we took pictures. I have been vivifying all the things lately. 🙂

I can’t recommend Erin’s blog, quilt patterns and tutorials more highly. She will be hosting a sewalong on Instagram for her new beautiful squash blossom pattern this spring and believe me, I will be participating. After 4 busy years of sewing, I have accumulated quite a bit of fabric and I am excited to make all the quilts this year. If you are new to quilting, try this pattern! It is a great place to start. I plan to try to make one of these for each of the rest of my children. Between us, my husband and I have five which seems like a lot of work but really you could piece this top in a couple of afternoons, even if you new to sewing. I am also saving all of my linen scraps to make a larger version for our bed.

Give it a try! Happy sewing and happy quilting! Ho ho ho!

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Uncategorized

2018 Me-Made Wrap-up

I sewed 30 garments this year, 28 for me and 2 for my daughter. These are my most-loved and most-worn.

They include the Beatrix blouse, the Isla dress, the Jade top, the Gemma tank and the Josephine blouse, all by Made by Rae, the Grainline Patterns Tamarack Jacket and the Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan and York Pinafore. Details on each of these and most of the other garments I sewed this year are on the blog. Pictures of all of the 30 garments are on my Instagram ( #nursebeansews2018 ).

True to form, what works for me is to find a pattern that works well for me and sew it in multiple versions. I sewed 7 Islas to add to the many others in my closet and 7 York Pinafores. Those two patterns have become wardrobe staples. I have sewn both warm weather and cool weather versions. They both use just 2 yards of fabric and can be hacked to make very different looking garments using the same pattern. The Blackwood Cardigan is a quick sew and I wear my 4 versions all the time. The Tamarack Jacket was such a fun project and has gotten tons of wear. I have a second version cut out and ready to go.

I am looking forward to sewing some new to me patterns in the new year. Here is a picture of my #2019makenine plans. Can you guess the patterns?

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New Year New Make

I kicked off the new year with this Berlin Jacket (pattern by Tessuti) in boiled wool. Love it! I highly recommend this pattern! It is a quick and satisfying sew. I found it true to size but would add length next time ( I am 5’9″.)

Looking forward to a year filled with sewing and books. Happy 2019 friends!

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Nursebean Reads 2018

I am on book 100! A good year for reading. I enjoyed them all but these were the best of the best. To see what I am currently reading, you can scroll to the bottom on my blog where my Goodreads account is linked. I have posted many times this year and over the last three years with book recommendations. To find those posts just search using the terms books, reading or nursebean reads. This year I read more paper books and fewer on my kindle but I love them both. Happy reading! Linking to @annebogel whose podcast about books and reading is a wonderful source of wonderful books!

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Helen's Closet Patterns, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Fall Sewing: York Pinafore and Jade Tops

I have been trying to fill in my cold weather wardrobe with handmade basics and the York Pinafore and the Jade top are the perfect combination. This past holiday weekend, I finished a second fall version of the York and two more Jade tops, all of which will mix and match with my other fall York. With tights it is the perfect cold weather outfit. img_4778-1I sewed my second fall York using a light brown wide-wale corduroy that I bought for a song at FabScrap – a wonderful non-profit based in Brooklyn that is working to keep fabric out of landfills by recycling and reusing fabric that would otherwise be discarded. img_4679I lined the pockets with blue linen left over from a summer version of the York. You can see how nice the fabric is in this close-up. It is really soft and drapes so well-really surprising in a corduroy as they are often stiff.
img_4718I had heard about FabScrap but had never visited their operation and then the Love to Sew ladies came to NYC and hosted a meet-up of local sewists there and I was lucky enough to be able to go.  I am a big fan of the Love to Sew podcast and Helen and Caroline were so warm and friendly in person and it was really fun to spend time with other sewing friends. It was such a fun evening!
img_4151At FabScrap, volunteers sort donated fabric and what can’t be sold as yardage is recycled and made into industrial felt. They even have recycled buttons and zippers and sometimes sell fabric online. They recently had a flash sale of corduroy for $5 a yard that I jumped on. I bought four colors thinking that it would be a great basic to have for clothing for myself but also for little jumpers and pants for future grandchildren and I am so glad I took the plunge. It will make great garments (I have plans for Lander pants and this amazing Charlie Caftan hack ) and the scraps will end up in some patchwork quilts I am making out of leftover heavyweight plaid flannel scraps. Altogether a great purchase. This summer I wore my Yorks with Gemma Tanks and now that the weather is colder, the Jade knit top is the perfect shirt to go under the pinafore. I made two this weekend including the navy and white striped version img_4677-1as worn here:
img_4785and have several more cut out. I discovered Cloud 9 organic cotton knits this spring when I was a tester for the Jade and made this version:img_0088This fabric is a dream to sew with and is incredibly soft and comfortable to wear. I stocked up on several different colors and stripes this summer and I am sewing a wardrobe of shirts. It spoils you for any other knit. I highly recommend it. It would make great children’s tops as well.img_4723I also sewed a dark grey version of the Jade from lovely soft cotton knit fabric bought long ago from Peekaboo pattern company. I know this will get a lot of wear. It goes with everything.
And there you have it. Two great patterns that are quick to sew, don’t use a lot of fabric and mix and match with many possibilities. More versions to come!  Perfect for walking all over the city, something I have been lucky to do this fall. I really enjoyed walking through Central Park img_4522 and going to the Guggenheim img_4552where I saw this amazing exhibit which is totally worth a visit. img_4544I will definitely be going back.  img_4540This past Sunday it was so warm (50 degrees in November!) and my husband and I spent the day exploring Clinton Hill in Brooklynimg_4850 where we got to see the inside of the beautiful library at the Pratt Institute (yes I am wearing my Tamarack Jacket here-this was a selfie in the distance-the mirror was on the opposite wall and I couldn’t resist.)
img_4836We also went to a favorite bookstore where I bought this book (so good so far) and
img_4878 ended the day with ice cream eaten on the waterfront. It felt like spring-a perfect fall day.  (this is not us-just another lucky couple enjoying a beautiful NYC night.) Happy Fall!img_4865-1

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