Summer Wardrobe Recap 2017

Well the best laid plans they say……..

I got sidetracked by a couple lovely new patterns. a couple pattern hacks to old favorites, and a new hobby (knitting).

I had a serious duh moment when I was looking through Instagram at all my lovely friends tops, hacked into dresses. I took a hard look at my tried and true tops and thought “why not?”  So my two favorite makes of this year came into being, beautiful Art Gallery cotton jersey Tee shirt dresses.  I wish you could feel how incredible soft and cool these are.  I get tons of compliments and feel pretty in them.

To make them I just lengthened my MariaDenmark Kirsten Kimono Tees to a length below the knee. It flirts with a maxi length but not quite so much fabric. I adore them. I have already worn both more than once.  One of the simplest, easiest makes ever, I promise.  The green floral is a surprising versatile, flattering color. I almost never wear green so I was pleasantly surprised. The black/white stripe can be dressed up or down. Did I mention virtually no wrinkling? Definitely a fold into a beach bag for a weekend trip kind of dress.

I had some grand plans for some new top patterns that were released recently. With the exception of the Summer Jazz Top which came out beautifully most of my muslins were just poor fitting or really not my style.

I was sure the Springfield top was going to be my new Go To tank top. Yeah, not so much. It was surprising boxy and shapeless on me. I adore the Concord tee so I was baffled. To be fair it is a plus size pattern and I barely squeak into those. But still. I may size down into the 12 with the largest cup size and see what happens. I salvaged the top I made in an embroidered cotton into a short sleep dress.

So I made a new Sutton Blouse from True Bias patterns in a floral challis that I love. I will continue to look for a new tank/top pattern for summer. Although I am rethinking the Willow tank I used for PJ tops this spring. In some pretty cottons or linen…….that top could be a staple. (Update: I ended up making five tank tops and three tank dresses from the Willow pattern. It is so easy wearing and graceful.)

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So the final roundup is

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Leralynn Dress by Blankslate Patterns

I already had made two of these last summer in Black print quilting cotton and a grey silk linen blend that I wore constantly on really hot days. I made two more, one a black/white floral linen that is divine, the other a sweet grey gingham check in a cotton.

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MariaDenmark Tee Dress

  • green bird cotton jersey
  • Black grey stripe cotton jersey

 

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Grainline Scout Tee

  • Merlot coloured cotton
  • blue printed chambray
  • Blue/grey batik
  • dark blue chambray
  • embroidered  navy cotton

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Sutton Blouse

  • black floral challis
  • yellow fruit pattern challis
  • peach/grey beige lightweight mystery fabric

Addison tank

  • Cream poly floral
  • white embroidered cotton
  • blue chambray

SewCarolyn Parkside skirt

  • black linen
  • denim blue linen
  • black/red/grey paisley
  • blue floral cotton

 

The last items that I added that actually replaced the idea of a summer jacket was two gorgous shawls that I knitted as well as a loosely knitted cotton vest. All of these are working so far as a bit of extra warmth on cool evenings or in air conditioning. I am very pleased at how well they came out in yummy cotton yarns. The patterns are Vested Interest and the Marquise shawl on Ravelry, knit up in Bamboo pop silk cotton DK yarn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Fashion, Knitting Edition

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A million years ago I remember that every woman I knew over a certain age had a shawl of some kind. Some were wispy bits of lace and fringe, some were gorgeous hand knit confections that just begged to be stroked. Over the years as we moved away from handmade wardrobes they seem to have fallen away from popularity. In the last 15 years or so I have mainly seen them at fancy occasions when a coat would be inelegant.

Recently they have come back into fashion as a Boho expression of style. As a new knitter I tempted fate with the first shawl, an easy granny square triangle in a silk wool blend that I picked up from a shop we visited on a trip last summer.

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I have worn it at the beach on windy days, on my deck in the chillier evenings, and once to a party with a linen shift dress. I have even recently kept in next to my bed to cover my shoulders as our evenings have gotten colder. I love it. The pattern is from this blog . I was not brave enough to do her edging but it would take it to another level for sure.

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Next came this beauty knitted in Bamboopop cotton/ bamboo fingering. Its a beautiful cream/ brown/ gold combo called Beachy Keen that looks divine next to tanned shoulders.  My local yarn shop has addicted me to this light airy yarn. The pattern is Marquise from Premier Yarns .

Its my first foray into lace work. Don’t look too closely at the spine! But it looks glorious on. My only change from the pattern was an icord bind off to give the hem a bit more oomph.

Of course I needed one more in the same yarn and pattern in blues and greys (also Bamboo-pop from Universal Yarns in Frosty Morning) !

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I have worn these to the grocery store, on errands, in restaurants to stay warm in frigid air conditioning.  I wandered a bit south to town to check out a small yarn shop in downtown Portland Maine and came away with a couple skeins of Juniper Moon Farms Zooey Linen/cotton  yarn. The colour is Luscious. No really, thats the name.

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This one is very light and perfect for summer days. I can safely say I can do this pattern in my sleep now! I blocked them on my clothesline with a gazillion pins. They grew just enough to be medium sized. If I can make these as a beginner there is no reason you can’t as well. Just take it slow. Did I mention what fab gifts these would be?

These beautiful wraps came out of a natural progression to move my wardrobe to entirely memade items. I have to say that having handmade items made from better quality materials feels good and makes me feel more confident. I think the only item that I most likely will not replace with slow fashion is my shoes and boots. But at least I am making even conscious purchases there as well.

Blankslate Patterns Leralynn Dress

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Whether you believe in global warming or not, there is no denying this summer has been insanely hot. Everyone has seen record temps and is desperately trying to stay cool. I am normally a sportswear/separates kind of gal but I just couldn’t take waistbands or even t shirts this past month.

I had made the grey linen Leralynn by Blankslate patterns and the quilting cotton wearable muslin version last year. Amazingly I did virtually nothing for alterations to the fit.

I added an inseam back belt to the black one to pull it in a bit at the waist. The grey one got some pretty embroidery at the neckline and an extra bar-tack at the neckline because of the delicateness of the fabric.  I wore these a bunch last year.

I found the yummy gingham check in a soft cotton at a local fabric shop. My pattern matching is atrocious across the front but when it’s on no one seems to notice.( Although I swear I couldn’t see the grease stain before I took pictures! Keepin it real folks!)

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The floral linen is my absolute favorite of the lot. I get tons of compliments, its crazy comfy, and doesn’t wrinkle noticeably at all.

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Overall, the Leralynn is a great beginner pattern. The split neckline is accomplished by creative seaming. You can use purchased bias to finish it  or you can go the extra mile and make matching bias tape. I did a mixture on mine.

While loose and comfortable it has just enough shape to not be like a potato sack. If you want to accentuate the waist you can use a belt. I left off the pockets because I didn’t want them bagging out or adding bulk to the hip area. There is an adorable hood option as well if you want to make one to wear to the pool or beach.

Stay cool!

Grainline Studio Willow Tank

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What could be more perfect than a woven linen or cotton easy fitting tank top or dress on a hot summer day?

I already have a favorite sleeveless top pattern from Seamwork Magazine that I have made several of and love to wear.  The Addison is awesome because of it’s options to dress it up, a v neck, peter pan collar(or not) and partially lined bodice which removes the need for bias bindings.

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This summer though I find myself attracted to sundresses and easy shift dresses that work up a dream in linens. I came late to the linen party but now I never want to leave. My Instagram feed has a new Willow tank dress almost every day, every one cuter than the last. I had a nice little pile of linens I had purchased locally, as well as some I splurged on online. I can always use a few more tanks or tees so I muslined the Willow and after my usual FBA and dart moving it looks wonderful.

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I made three  in the top length to get a feel for fit and finishes. Because I did linen or linen blends I french seamed all seams that were not enclosed by bindings. There is nothing worse than a beloved top unraveling to the point of throwing in the bin because you didn’t finish the seams. I made self bias tape for two and used some sweet purchased binding from SoBiased on Etsy.

I did my usual FBA, cutting a 14 and adding two inches. I also had to re-position the dart to be a little less perky. I graded the hip out to a 16 for a wee bit of room as well.

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You can’t beat a basic woven tank for versatility. It can be dressed up or down easily and packs great for vacation or the beach.

Next in my queue is the dress version. I am going to do a sewing workshop with this dress next month and I can’t wait to see the lovely makes my students come up with. I guarantee this pattern will become a tried and true.

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Surviving School Vacation, Low waste, Gluten free, and Vegan

Ack the kids are home. It’s an endless cycle of “I am bored!” and “what’s to eat?”.

When you eat gluten free, mostly dairy free and no processed food unless its unavoidable that last bit seems challenging. You can’t just throw them a bag of Cheetos and a juice box. ( not that I would, ever!)  So what’s a Mom to do?

Every morning I have a simple routine that takes care of the basics. It makes easy healthy snacks within reach for the kids and keeps me from answering the “what do we have to eat?” question 12 times before lunch.  Believe it or not, its a lot cheaper to eat bulk healthy foods.  I’ll put my cart of fruits, veggies, and grains against your cart of single serve processed food-like groceries.

My routine goes something like this, every morning.

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I make cold brew coffee every morning for my coffee drinkers.  Half a cup of ground coffee covered with warm water and then let sit on the counter until bedtime. It’s that easy.

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Place two teabags ( or loose tea if I have it) into a 2 quart jar of warm water. Let the sun brew it until lunch. Unsweetened iced tea is ready for drinks. I do let my kids drink the decaffeinated kind.  Its kind of amazing to have them picking out teas at the store and comparing flavors.

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It’s been a process to get the kids to drink water. First we did the cute little plastic disposable bottles. Kids size reusable bottles were next. Now they have adult sized bottles( BPA free, of course). I just invested in some stainless steel bottles for them to take when they leave the house but they still use these everyday at home. I refill them in the morning and stick them in the fridge so they can grab one whenever they are thirsty.

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I cut up a bowl of snack size veggies for them to nibble on. Whatever has come from the garden that morning or what ever we have on hand.  It’s amazing but if its easy they WILL eat it. Or at least its the first stop before they grab something else. I do not give them dip and they don’t like it anyway. It hides the taste of the veggies. What law says you have to anyway? My only exception to that is hummus, We use it on everything you would use dip or mayo on.

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Same principal applies to the never ending fruit salad bowl. I fill a large bowl every morning with whatever fruits we have on hand that are seasonal or on sale. A sweet snack craving gets stopped in its tracks, for the kids or me.  For an extra treat I will whip some coconut cream to have with it.

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I eat zucchini noodles every day. One of my sons eats them almost as often. Its an almost instant gratification grain free noodle dish. I like canned diced Italian tomatoes and olives, he likes Go Veggie lactose free Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. To help keep them from getting too soggy when cooked, I spiral a few zucchinis in the morning and let them dry out on a plate.

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Last but not least I make a fast batch of bread dough to hang out for 24 hours.  It enables me to instantly make a pizza crust, bread sticks, rolls or flatbread. For some good gluten free recipes for dough, Glutenfreeonashoestring.com has some recipes on their site as well as some awesome recipes books available on kindle or Amazon.

For a little bit of time and effort, these substitutions can help you get off of the processed food train and save you some money in the bargain.  Happy Summer!

 

 

 

 

MeMade May 2017

 

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It’s that time of year again! I love #MMMay2017 It’s so inspirational, for all the reasons that slow fashion is becoming a thing again. It’s hosted by Zoe Edward at ‘So Zo what do you know’. The sign up post is here.

 

I get stuck about halfway through for ideas for somewhat original pictures to post on Instagram. This year I want to focus more on styling those fabulous Indie patterns I have so many of. Focusing on a capsule wardrobe this year is helping me to narrow in on colors and styles that fit my body type and lifestyle. With any luck the pictures will be more cohesive and less just rolled out of bed and grabbed the first thing….

I have added a few more items to my “tried and true” I will showcase ( and hopefully blog about!) this year.  Blackwood cardigans, Lark tees, Parkside shorts, and one hour tops were added, as well as some WIP Ginger jeans that hopefully I will have done next week. I made two jackets as well, the Dover and HP’s kimono jacket. Can’t wait to show those.

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I hope by sharing my me-made wardrobe someone may take the plunge when they realize that basics can be less time consuming to make once you have a basic template but still fashionable and wearable daily.  I also plan to add my knit wear to my pictures. Socks, a sweater, and a couple shawls are all getting regular wear so I want to share those too.

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Can’t wait to see all the beautiful clothes the community is wearing! See you on Instagram at Nicholaix.

 

2017 Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe

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Once the Valentines day cards coming out I start thinking about slip dresses and flowery feminine tops. While I mostly sew basics I do need to replace or update 6-8 pieces at least Biannually.  I have taken a hard look at what I actually wear in the spring/summer vs what I want to wear. Slip dresses and miniskirts just aren’t happening, and neither are those fashionable tops that hang off the shoulders or have weird, I mean interesting, drapes. So here is my list:

  • A light jacket, most likely denim
  • 4 pairs of bermuda shorts
  • 3 knee length skirts
  • 4 tee shirts
  • 2 rayon or lawn blouses
  • 3  camisoles/halters
  • 3 shift dresses

There has been a flood of new patterns put out over the winter from both big and small pattern makers. While I have some tried and trues for skirts, shorts, and tees the others I would like to do something different.

The jacket will be the HotPattern’s Fast and Fabulous Four Season Kimono Jacket. I bought this last spring and never got around to it. I want one in a denim and a dressier one in a brocade I bought at the same time as the pattern.

I want some thing to throw over long sleeve Tees and tank tops or a camisole in the summer so this should be perfect. This will be my first HotPatterns garment, I am looking forward to seeing how the fit works out.

I live in Bermuda shorts. I am of an age where I want a bit of extra coverage, not to mention that fact that I am very active outdoors. I perfected the fit on the Make It Perfect Essential shorts last year and plan four pairs to replace a couple I destroyed last year in denim. Two in lightweight denim and two in linen are on my list. Great basics that mix and match are always needed in my wardrobe and I wore these to death last year. My only regret was not doing a pair in a coloured fabric. I picked up some delicious royal purple mid weight linen over the winter which is set aside for a pair of these.

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Parkside Skirt

The knee length skirts aren’t a priority but more a wish list item. I made three Parkside skirts from SewCaroline that I also wore constantly in light blue and black linen, as well as a grey silk linen blend. I want one in a light white cotton or a summer print for this year for the odd cookout or beach trip. I would like to have a couple denim as well.

This pattern is wonderful. Big roomy pockets, flattering fit, and wide elastic waist made this one a tried and true as well as the easy directions and relatively quick sew up time.

I sewed up a ton of Tees last year trying up some new patterns that came out. I also need a few more because I destroy them in the garden or cooking. I always look like a four year old after an art project during a day of canning or baking. I would like a few pretty florals to counter some basic bottoms like jeans or linen skirts.

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MariaDenmark Kirsten Kimono Tee

My tried and true is MariaDenmark’s Kirsten Kimono tee. This Tee fit me great, no set on sleeves and is virtually instant gratification. The only modification I did was a slight FBA and lengthen just a bit to sit below my hip for coverage bending over (did i mention gardening?). Its a free pattern for signing up for the newsletter.

The second winner was up and coming Cashmerette Patterns Concord Tee.  This delightful top comes in cup sizes so no need to do an FBA. The fit was very flattering for me as well. Tons of options for long/short sleeve and different lengths are available.

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TrueBias Sutton Blouse

Two lightweight blouses will most likely be a couple more TrueBias Suttons. I perfected this one last year and love hem. The little details are actually quite easy and make it look very handsome. See my former blog post here. I have a few rayons and lawns I bought last year just waiting for the time for these.

The camisoles are a new thing for me. It was so hot last year even a tee was miserable. I want something to throw over a bathing suit too. TrueBias Odgen Cami looks great. I just finished a muslin for it and after some tweaks it looks great.

I also have two other I want to try. Straight Stitch designs View Ridge tank and SewCaroline’s Waterfall tank are on my short list. We will see how the muslin works out. Hot Patterns Joyful top looks awesome too. Too many patterns, not enough time.

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Blankslate Patterns Leralynn Dress

I am stuck on a shift dress. Last year I made two Leralynn dresses from Blankslate Patterns. I love them but I want something different. I am debating between TrueBias Colfax ,  Tessuti Patterns Ruby Dress or the Annie, or Seamwork Magazines Mojave. Too many choices I think.  I will probably muslin all of them and see which gets the most complements!

The first step is making a list of what you need and what you want.  Looking at what you already have is critical too. Do I really need four more sundresses?(NO!)

Keeping a wish list or colour board helps a lot too. I took pictures of swatches of fabrics as I make items or buy fabric. In the store I can pull it up from Dropbox on my phone to make sure the skirt fabric goes with the top I already made or if I already have something similar.

Thanks for stopping by to see what my sewing plans for the next season are. I will post as I finish each garment and let you know how they came out.

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TrueBias Sutton Blouse

PS This post may contain some affiliate links that add no cost to you if you click through but buys me a cup of coffee and more thread.

Handmade Christmas 2016 Part 2

To look at my last post you would think I only knit these days. I am cranking out more fiber goods but still manage to hand make many other things as well.

I have always done food gifts but tried to stay away from too much baking this year. I think its a bit hypocritical to preach plant based healthy food then give away cookies and cakes…..In keeping with our simpler lives  I did a few new things.

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The boys and I saved a boatload of seeds from our favorite varieties this year. We packaged them up in envelopes, labeled them, tied them with ribbon, and gave them to some of our gardening friends. They were excited to have some tried and true seeds and helped them plan for the next year. My boys got a lesson in stewardship and sustainability too, always a bonus.

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We also gave away some pesto that we had made from basil we grew. While I maintain that things like homemade jam have a place in our diet as a sometimes treat, I think the pesto was much more appreciated. One friend had requested a pizza sauce from our herbs and organic tomatoes. Next year I will have to keep in mind how much we gave away and try to grow a bit extra.

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Instead of gift cards for the bus drivers, mailman, and neighbors I made a huge batch of fresh crusty bread that we gave in brown paper lunch bags tied with ribbon. Judging from the looks of delight I think that may need to be repeated as well. How many of us remember that smell from Grams house of fresh bread? Not something many of us get anymore.

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A couple of brave friends got 6 packs of our own apple kombucha, non alcoholic, of course. I just started doing this last summer and it was a success once I got the hang of it. A cold kombucha in the summer was heavenly. Some day I may try my hand at brewing wine but that’s low on the priority list at the moment.

So we managed to stay true to our homemade Christmas and Holiday gifts and keep the budget to a minimum. I think the lesson I learned was to be creative but keep it simple.

I also played with the idea of handmade coupons for produce from our garden this spring and summer. I may think about that more and try it next year.

 

 

Handmade Christmas 2016

This years line up of handmade gifts is heavy on the yarn. I learned to knit and crochet this year which was so much fun. It kept me off my feet when I was feeling poorly and kept me busy.

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I took a Craftsy class on circular knitting skills over the summer. The example pattern was this lovely neck warmer which I thought would look lovely on men or women depending on the yarn. I ended up making four of these. Can’t beat scrumptiously soft, warm, and expensive looking in a relatively quick knit! Lion brand Thick and Quick in Oatmeal worked up nicely on this one.  This picture is before I blocked it, I never would have thought that that would make such a big difference but it really does.

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I did this lovely crochet lap blanket for a treasured Aunt who had a very tough year. Winter white bulky yarn came out super soft. This Chunky Icelandic pattern from Mamainastitch.com came out beautifully. I was surprised at how easy the pattern was.   The recipient was almost in tears when she opened it. I know she will enjoy it for years to come.

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These hats were a huge hit with the teens on my list. They are made up with all the little scraps of yarn held with a bulky white. Used up a lot of bits and look fabulous. Super warm too, a must here in the Northeast. Pattern and tutorial from Swellamy.com. Pinks for the girls, greys for the boys looked very stylish.

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Really who doesn’t need cotton dishcloths? Simple Sugar and Cream cotton yarn done up in a simple single crochet stitch with a border in a coordinating color. We use tons of these around here so I know they are very useful and easy to clean. Nice gift for those people that stump you too. We gave them as teacher gifts with Meyers dish soap. Not very romantic but they were very appreciated.

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I did a couple simple ribbed neck warmers in this glorious handspun and hand dyed yarn from Cascade. I almost couldn’t give this one away! I recently rediscovered a local shop that carries fabrics and yarn. Double threat for me but full of these little gems of yarn.

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Another lap blanket. I really love the Lion Brand Thick and Quick for a relatively quick project. They come out so soft and squishy and warm. This was my favorite summer activity this past summer, soaking up the sun and knitting or crocheting.

That’s enough for this post. Part two will have some of the other gifts I made this year. I am so glad I finally got around to knitting and crocheting. I didn’t realize how many things we use that are made this way. If I can learn anyone can!

 

Grainlines Scout Woven Tee

 

I always used to be a t-shirt kind of girl. Lately I have been leaning more towards the body skimming woven blouses in pretty rayon, voile, and cottons. My far and away favorite is Grainline Studio’s Scout Tee. It is available as both printed and PDF.

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It lays nicely and the length is great. It’s a pullover so it is a super quick sew up, no closures to worry about. The only alteration I need to do to this top is a full bicep adjustment (I used this tutorial to fix my sleeves) and take a wee sliver from the front fold seam to tame a wonky neck.The neck is bound with bias tape, either matching or purchased. If you are new to making your own here is an awesome video tutorial from Dana at MadeEveryday. The sleeves and bottom are just double fold and hem.

My first couple of Scouts had a gaping neck. I got creative and added an inverted pleat which took care of it. I sized down, adjusted the sleeve and voila, perfection, no neck gape.

The far right is the first one with wonky neck, the middle one with the pleat, and the far left a size down. At this point I have done a wide range of fabrics and all have come out nicely. Its a great year round, basic addition to any memade wardrobe. These were last springs colors.

For this fall I currently have these three fabrics on my table ready to be made up in this pattern. A chambray, rayon, and a cotton print all will fit in nicely with a couple new skirts and a couple pairs of jeans.  Sew this one up, you will like it.

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Keeping It Simple