Finally, an FO report

I’ve managed about a half hour a day, sometimes 45 minutes, for the past week or so. Yay! This was enough time for me to knock out the sewing on a simple fleece robe, one that I cut out in early February and then promptly ignored. I have one other robe cut from that same cutting session. It could get lucky next!

But for this one, I needed something warm, big, and fluffy, and I had a length of cheap white fleece from JoAnn’s that is the last, final, absolute end of the fleece in my stash. This makes me so happy, I can’t even tell you. I wanted to sew up a lot of “around the house” junky little things from this cheap fleece, and I did, and now I can move on to something worthy of being worn in public.

The pattern for this one is McCall’s 5248, which has the distinction of NOT being unisex pajamas. So I figured it would fit me pretty well straight out of the gate with little alteration. I cut a standard size medium, and didn’t alter it one bit. In fact, I didn’t even measure the pattern tissue pieces, which is usually an automatic step in the process around here.

M5248

I figured, heck, it’s a robe. How bad can it be?

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No makeup, uncombed hair and a huge knee brace under my sleep pants — sexy!!

Meh. Not great, not bad. If you look closely, you can see that the shoulder seams are a little far down the arms, but it’s like that in the pattern line drawings, too. The arms are big, the sleeves are long, and it’s really bulky around the waist. And I’ll still wear this thing plenty, I’m sure, because it will fit over even my roomiest sweatshirt. If I make it again (and I might — the collar detailing is super clever — we’ll get to that in a mo), I would make a size small with FBA and maybe a little tweaking to the sleeves. But this giant white one will serve its purpose handily.

The best part about this pattern is the way it uses darts to shape the shawl collar. If you’re a knitter, you know that shaping a shawl collar can be a bit tricky. The inner part of the collar (closest to the skin) should be smaller than the outer part of the collar in order for the entire thing to roll properly. In knitting, we make it happen with short row shaping, but in sewing, this usually means shaped collar pieces that are sewn separately to the body of the garment.

Not in this case, though. This pattern inserts darts in both the front piece and the facing piece to create a roll line for that collar. It’s very clever and easy, and it yielded a terrific result. Take a look.

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The row of stitching at the top is the shoulder seam, and the sleeve is to the right. The collar is folded back to show the dart that creates the roll line. If you look very closely, you will see that this dart stops about 3/8″ away from the shoulder seam. It’s this placement, plus the depth and shape of the dart, that give this collar its beautiful automatic roll. I want to sew this again, maybe in a really good flannel, just to watch this magic happen again. It’s fun in that weird way sewing can be fun — you drop the needle, press the foot lever, and see the fabric become 3-dimensional right before your eyes.

So I’d rate this one a solid B — an A for that cool collar detail, but only a C for fit, averaging out to a B. Not a bad way to return to the sewing room after such an absence.

The second robe will be made from a really tricky printed silk. I’m looking forward to the challenge! There’s something deeply satisfying about handling a quality silk and acclimating to its temperamental nature after all the endless yards of fleece lately. But the fleece sewing has been absolutely worth it. I have a stack of warm, stay-at-home garments that cost next to nothing to make — this robe, for example, tallied up to a whopping nine bucks, pattern included. The silk robe will be slightly more than that. Ahem.

Do you ever tackle a category of fabrics (all the fleece, all the printed cottons, all the whatevers) just to try to clear them out of the stash? I used to do this with yarn sometimes, too — I once knit nothing but socks from Regia until every bit of Regia was gone from my stash. Or do you prefer to rotate different kinds of materials and projects?

Theresa

A new flannel nightshirt

I live in a place with an extreme climate. Our heat index climbs over 100F in the summer and can easily dip as low as -25F or below with wind chills in the winter. My house gets cold in the winter. It’s inevitable. And this means warm textiles sewn into warm garments.

Like this nightshirt. This is a garment with a purpose more than it is a garment with a fashion point of view. Or wait. Maybe the point of view consists of, “Even with flannel sheets and down comforters, this bed is effing freezing.” Is that a fashion point of view, you guys? Does that count for style points?

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Fashion point of view: Brrr!

Yeah, probably not. The entire virtue of this garment is that it is warm. It’s a heavyweight flannel, very good quality stuff from The Needle Shop (link*). One touch of this flannel on the bolt, and I bought a length of it without a care for the print. It’s that good. The weight and weave are top quality, and it has become increasingly difficult to find flannel of this quality in sewing stores. If I do happen upon some, I buy it. Worst case scenario, it can be used to interline a jacket for an extra layer of warmth. Or it can be used to line jeans. Or, as here, it can be used to wear to sleep. I’ll have my eyes closed. It won’t matter what I think of the print.

Truthfully, I’m not a big fan of prints in general. I think they add volume to a figure. I briefly toyed with the idea of making a fitted flannel shirt out of this print, but that thought was fleeting. The pattern scale is all wrong, too oversized for my petite frame, even if I do like the color palette. And it is a good color palette. The little flashes of red really wake up the gray, enough so that I decided to use red shirt buttons, too.

The pattern is McCall’s 6249 (link*), which I’ve used several times now to make pajama pants. View C, the nightshirt, comes with bust sizing, so that spared me from having to make a muslin. Normally, for anything that has to go over my shoulders and bust, I would make a muslin first. But for a nightshirt where fitting doesn’t have to be perfect, and one that came scaled to a D cup, I figured I could make it work. If this had been a regular shirt pattern, I still would have made a muslin, and I likely would have increased the bust just slightly and narrowed the shoulders just slightly. But for a nightshirt, the fit is acceptable as it is.

McCalls6249

View C, center right

This pattern is rated easy, and with good reason. The sleeve is in one piece with no plackets or cuffs, just a turned and stitched hem. The collar is in one piece — the pattern drawings almost make it look like a two-piece stand collar, but it’s not. It’s one piece. The hardest part, if it can be called hard, were the buttonholes. The automatic buttonholer on my machine is not very user-friendly, so I considered making hand-stitched buttonholes. This is the difference between a nightshirt for private wear and a regular shirt for public wear — I skipped the work of a hand-stitched buttonhole and ended up with some rather Becky Home-Ecky machine made buttonholes, but that’s okay. I don’t mind a shortcut like this for something that very few people will ever see up close.

So, that’s one warm flannel nightshirt just as the temperatures start to fall. That will help me stay a bit warmer on a cold night. Hey, I should tell you my favorite trick for winter bedtimes — use the blow dryer to warm the sheets. You just lift the sheets and comforter, aim the blow dryer between them for a few seconds (not too long, and keep it moving — you don’t want to ignite anything), and then the bed will be warm when you get into it. I love this trick. I learned it from my Minnesota cousins who lived in a house with no heating on the second floor where all the bedrooms were located. Think about that. Minnesota. No heating on the second floor. If anybody knew how to beat the cold bed syndrome, it was those cousins.

I have some other “OMG my house is freezing” sewing in progress right now. Utilitarian stuff, but I’m in wardrobe-building mode, and these kinds of garments are needful things.

What is your favorite trick for staying warm in winter?

Theresa

*By the way, I am using parenthetical links right now because this wordpress theme doesn’t really distinguish hyperlinked text from plain text. Someday I will fix this theme, you know, when my abundant free time allows it.*

The final cutting … for now

I bought a length of really excellent flannel from The Needle Shop a couple of years ago.Really excellent flannel is such a rarity these days that even the highly knowledgeable seamstresses at Sewing Pattern Review recently had a discussion about this. There are a few sources, but really, good flannel is hard to find. This is why, when I spotted this superior bolt, I bought two and a half yards without even pausing to consider what I would do with it.

And I wasn’t entirely sure what I would do with it — the pattern is a little busy, but not dreadfully so. The gray and red is one of my favorite color combinations, so I knew I would come up with something. At first, I was leaning toward a standard shirt with placket and cuff sleeves, a yoke cut on the bias — your basic lumberjack shirt. But then it let me know it would rather be a nightgown. My house is always cold at night in the winter, and a warm flannel nightgown is always a good thing.

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Cutting in progress

I’m using McCall’s 6249, which also provided me with my go-to pajama pants pattern. I spent a whole entire dollar on this pattern at a JoAnn’s sale, and it is proving to be a dollar well spent.

McCalls6249

Unfortunately, this pattern is out of print, and I have it in the size 14-20. So I have to make the nightgown in a 14, which is a touch big, but it will have to do. For the pajama pants, I regraded the pattern to make it narrower. But after measuring the nightgown and comparing it to some sleep tees in my drawer, I decided to leave it alone. It will be big, but it will be dramatically smaller than the only other flannel nightgown currently in my drawers, a size XL bought last winter when I was around 50 pounds heavier than my current weight. This new one will be a huge improvement, and the old one is in great shape and will benefit someone at the charity thrift shop.

I’ve spent a lot of time cutting and working on a test knit, less time sewing, but I will have two FOs to show you before the week is out.

What is your go-to source for good flannel?

Theresa