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The Alabama Slammer


Last year I attended my first Pattern Review Weekend (in NYC) and saw the most amazing Alabama Chanin  jacket constructed by a fellow PR member. I was mesmerized and returned home to Boonetowne thinking “I’m going to figure out how to do that.” So I pulled out some black jersey knit, my favorite t-shirt pattern (Jalie 2805), and a giant wall stencil that I’ve had in my closet for about 10 years.



I started by cutting out the t-shirt, but cut two fronts and four sleeves. Then I got some grey fabric paint and stenciled the front and sleeves of the shirt. I pinned the fronts together (with stencil facing up) and began to sew around the outside of each stenciled area. I did the same with the sleeves. I decided to use some tan/mustard variegated button thread that I had on hand to do the stitching, and I am so glad I did. I love the way the variegated stitching turned out.


After I got a good start, I lost my momentum and put the shirt pieces in my to-do pile, and there they stayed until I went to PRW 2018. Right before PRW 2018, Deepika posted a review of this amazing Alabama Chanin version of a Jalie skirt and then she actually wore that skirt during the weekend. Then Maria posted a review of an equally impressive A.C. t-shirt . All of this inspiration gave me the kick in the rear-end that I needed to complete the shirt. So I started sewing.


And kept on sewing.


Until I had sewn around all of the stencil pieces. Then it was time to cut–I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I did.



I then assembled the shirt, and I’ve got to tell you, I love it. I now want to reverse applique everything I see. I actually found the hand-sewing really satisfying. It was a great sit-in-front-of-the-tv, evening activity.




Once I got into this, I was hand-sewing ALL THE TIME, and my husband would ask what I was making. I would reply, “an Alabama Chanin (inspired) shirt.” Then at some point, he started asking “How’s the Alabama Slammer” going? He gets all kinds of points for effort. I love my Alabama Slammer.







I see more Alabama Slammers in my future!!

The Bobman (Jalie 3880 + Jalie 3352)


I came home from Pattern Review Weekend with three new, hot-off-the-presses Jalie patterns (Mimosa, Rose, and Bobbie). I then found myself in a quandary–which one would I sew first????? Although the Mimosa was calling my name, I decided to try the Bobbie first.

I started by attempting a wearable muslin out of some knit, Girl Charlee fabric that I had in my stash. Although I’m technically an S in the bodice, I cut a U because I wanted it to be loose-fitting. The problem was that the U was a bit too loose and the V-neck felt a bit too low for me. I’m a little weird about V-necks; I always feel like crew necks work better for me.



So I went back to the drawing board and tried a second muslin. This time I cut a size S, raised the neckline about an inch, and added the high/low hemline from the Jalie Dolman (Jalie 3352).


Once again I used stash, Girl Charlee knit, but this time I went with a Fourth of July vibe.



This time the fit was much better, and I liked the high/low hem. So then I decided to try the Bobman (Bobbie + Dolman = Bobman) in my precious laser cut jersey from Mood. This time I extended the lining to make it full-length (note: I loved this modification) and bound the armholes (note: I ended up not liking the bound armholes.)





At this point I was ready to move on to the Mimosa, but then I was wandering around the Sundance website and saw all these Bobmanesque tops with neckline embroidery and applique. So I had to give that a try. I used some light, Girl Charlee sweater knit (also from my stash) and decided to try adding something to the neckline.

I started with a doily that I bought 10 years ago in a thrift store in Iowa City.


I cut it up and then tried to dye it using food coloring.



The problem was that the food coloring  didn’t stick. I think the yarn and fabric in doily must have been synthetic. So I went to Michaels to see if I could find anything that would work with synthetics. I found some Tulip Color Shot and decided to give it a try.





I liked the way the neckline looked from the side and the back, but the front looked like a craft project. The doily was too heavy and gloppy for the fabric. So I took everything apart and started again. This time I took a strip of wide lace that I had and added a light coat of the Tulip Color Shot.


Then, I got out my Cricut and a tried to cut designs out of the lace. It took a couple of tries, but I finally figured it out. I used Heat and Bond to stabilize the lace, and set the Cricut on the Bonded Burlap setting.



I then arranged the pieces on the Bobman and used the iron to fuse them. After that, I free-motion stitched them on to the top.






I ended up really liking this version. I think the dye-cut lace looks like it was stenciled onto the shirt. I’m going to take a little break from the Bobman because I feel like I’m bordering on obsessive,  and that’s not good. But I will be back, and when I return, it will be with embroidery.









My Ode to Pattern Review Weekend 2018


I just got back from Pattern Review Weekend 2018, and it was SO MUCH FUN!! I’m thoroughly exhausted, but it was totally worth it. I’m still on my PRW high, so I’m going to wax poetic about just how awesome this weekend was.

The weekend started on Friday morning with a tour of the Stratford Festival Costume Warehouse. This was such a cool tour. I can’t remember how many sewists are employed by this organization, but let’s just say it’s a lot. The costumes that they make are pretty fantastic.






At the end of the tour, we were able to try on some of the costumes. Not sure which of these should be my new look?



After the tour, we had three different sessions. The first was from the amazing Gillian Whitcombe. She talked about how to take better photos of our makes, and she had us practice taking some pictures. Kyle, from Vacuuming the Lawn, and I took this opportunity to take some photos of our makes from the same fabric. We actually bought this fabric at French Couture Fabrics in NYC during PRW 2017.


After lunch we heard from Jalie Patterns and got to see their new releases. I bought three. Then at the end of the afternoon, Bramaker Supplies gave a presentation. I never really considered making bras, but after their presentation, I’m kind of considering it.

When evening came we had entertainment, dinner, and contests. The entertainment was Connie Bontje’s ukulele band and they were FANTASTIC!!! The fun that they were having during their performance was contagious!!


After dinner we had the contests. I entered the camp shirt contest with a new version of Butterick 6563. I used some fabric that I have had in my stash for approximately 5ish years. It came from the now shuttered Les Fabriques. I loved that store and was so sad to see it close. 😦


Since the fabric was sewing-themed with all of the thimbles, I added spool and scissor buttons. They are super-cute, but a little tricky to move through the buttonholes.


And since this camp shirt was for a sewing weekend, I decided to add a little embroidery on the back. The design came from Urban Threads.



And just because I’ve been in an embroidery groove lately, I added some embroidery to the front pocket.

B5522E18-7C4B-4696-9BAE-FCEBF88DF433I loved how it turned out. It was a lot of fun to wear, and I actually won a prize for it!!!

On Saturday morning we boarded school buses at 8AM and headed out for some shopping. The first stop for my bus was Ann’s Fabrics in Hamilton, Ontario.


This is an amazing store. I bought some gorgeous wool sweater knit and some coral cotton sweater knit. I could have bought more, but I was trying to pace myself.


We then went to Ottawa Street in Hamilton and checked out more fabric stores. We also stopped for a few photo opps.


Our last stop of the afternoon was the Lens Mill Store in Woodstock, Ontario. This place is huge.



We returned to Stratford at 6PM. It was a full day of shopping. I ended up purchasing about 15 meters of fabric (and three Jalie patterns from day 1).


There are so many things to love about PR Weekends. The shopping is incredible and the sessions are super informative, but PR Weekends are way more than that.

For most of my childhood, I went to summer camp. It was always the highlight of my year. I loved everything about it and hated to see it end. When I would return home, I always felt like I had changed in important and visible ways. That’s kind of what PRW feels like to me. I’ve returned home to Boonetowne, and I feel a bit different. Over the weekend, I saw old friends and met some new ones. I was inspired and challenged and supported, and I began to imagine who and what I might become. That’s what I loved most about this weekend. At fifty years old, I left PRW thinking about who and what I might become. It’s like summer camp for grown-ups who really love fabric!


My Wardrobe Contest Entry


I think I’m finally done. I finished sewing everything yesterday and then today we got 5 inches of snow and school was cancelled. This gave me time to get the pictures taken and the entry submitted.

I’m calling this collection “Springtime in the Mountains.” Boonetowne is in the mountains of western North Carolina. We are 3300 feet above sea level. Our altitude and location produce springtime weather with lots of variability. One day it’s sunny and 65 degrees and the next day we are getting a winter storm. This wardrobe is designed for a mountain springtime. It has options for sunny days and snowy days.

I made three tops (Jalie 3667, Butterick 6378, Butterick 5526), two bottoms (Simplicity 8175, Ottobre 5/2015-9), and one topper (Jalie 3675).


These six garments actually produce a total of 12 different outfit options. And now I’m going to show you every single option–feel free to skim or leave this blog at any time.


















And if you haven’t had your fill of pictures, here are some composites:





Last but not least, here’s a video where I talk about each of the garments that I made for this contest. It’s almost seven minutes long, so watch at your own risk!!!!

This was a fun contest!! I loved every minute of it!

Ottobre 5/2015 #9 Update


One of the first garments that I made for the PR Wardrobe Contest was a pair of wool shorts. My plan was to wear these with tights during the transition from winter to spring. I liked the color and the fabric weight, but the fit was not great. They were a bit too baggy and the crotch was way too low.


So I took the waistband off, took the side seams in, and raised the crotch. Unfortunately in doing all of this, I lost the side pockets and made the shorts a bit too tight.


See, they’re too tight. Also the zipper is black and does not blend in. It was driving me nuts, so I made a second pair. Now the fit is good, the zipper is gray, and I am a happy woman.




Butterick 6378


I don’t know about y’all, but I was single for a LONG time. I didn’t get married until I was 40, and before I met Mr. Boonetowne, I went on a lot of dates. And dating is exhausting. Sometimes I would go on a date with someone new, and I would want so badly for him to be the one. Then something would happen (he would tell me he lives with his mom or he’s addicted to a controlled substance) and I would realize, without a doubt, that he was not the one. The disappointment was crushing.

I think I am having the same experience with my cream, floral Butterick 6563. I want so badly for this garment to be the third top in my wardrobe entry, but it’s just not right. It just doesn’t go with the skirt and the jacket. It’s too much of a stretch. I want it to work, but it doesn’t.

While wallowing in my disappointment, I decided to try a fourth top, to see if it was any better. Enter Butterick 6378 in a black and cream floral challis that I bought at JoAnn’s.


I decided to make View C without the elastic waist and with the short, banded sleeves from Butterick 6563.


I also decided to add a ruffle/flounce around the collar.


I cut a size 6 and graded out to an 8 because there’s a lot of ease in this pattern. I’m usually a 10 in tops. I used the sleeves from B6563 and then cut a ruffle that I added to the collar.






The good news and bad news is that I think it works better with my wardrobe skirt and topper. This means that I might have to give up my dream of the cream floral. It’s hard to let a dream go.




Butterick 6563


It started with this fabric. Each Christmas my husband gives me a gift certificate to Mood. It’s the best gift ever!! This year when I was doing my post-Christmas Mood shopping, I came across this fabric. It’s a cotton sateen named The Passing of Adonis. I wasn’t sure what I was going to make, but I knew I had to have it. I ordered two yards.


Then last weekend I was visiting Asheville, NC and made a brief stop in JoAnn’s. Butterick patterns were on super-sale, and I scored this new Gertie pattern. I decided that View C would be a perfect vehicle for The Passing of Adonis. Not that anyone cares, but in my opinion, The Passing of Adonis name does not really fit the fabric. English Springtime would be better. Or even Adonis’ Garden. Or even Adonis in Springtime. Maybe Mood should hire me.

In any case, the pattern is super straightforward and seriously cute. I spent a lot of time trying to decide which buttons to use. I even solicited Insta-feedback. I had four different options that I had identified from the button stash that my mom gave me.


Options 1-3 were glass. I ended up going with Option 4.


I did get to use some of my newest gadgets. I used this accordion thing to place my buttonholes. I’m not sure how I lived without it because it’s awesome.


I also used my new buttonhole cutting tool.


I also used a tip that I got from Male Pattern Boldness on Instagram. He recommended putting Fraycheck in the buttonholes before cutting. I did this and it worked really well.




I loved the end result. The only problem was that when I combined this top with my wardrobe bottom and topper, things got way too busy. See:


It just felt like way too much. So I ended up switching out the flower buttons for some cream, glass buttons. It’s a little less overwhelming.





Here it is with one of my bottoms:


And with the topper:


It’s a lot, but hopefully it works.

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