Fehr Trade | Surf to Summit

I’ve used running as my exercise of choice (with varying degrees of dedication) for the past 10 years, but I generally wimp out during the cold months. My runs had been super irregular this past Fall due to being over-scheduled, and not making the time, and myriad other excuses… so, mid-December I got back on it and decided I needed to make running a priority. And that, my friends, means I need gear to keep me warm-ish. We don’t have (or have room for) a treadmill, and if I have to go to a gym for exercise… well that just isn’t going to happen. I prefer solitary exercise and fresh air, so outdoor running it is. My dedication is being severely tested as of late since we’ve had several feet of snow every week since the end of January. The snow on the side of the road is currently at eye level so… yeah. Luckily, we live where snow removal is efficient and thorough, so as long as the streets are clear off I go.

Anyways… a quick perusal of running gear showed me just how expensive the stuff can be. So instead I picked up some dry-wicking fabric on sale at Joanns and decided to try the Fehr Trade Surf to Summit top: a long sleeve high-necked, raglan and princess-seamed top.

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I cut the XS at the top, grading out to the S at the waist and hip. This pattern is designed to be fitted through the shoulders and bust, but less so at the waist and hip. I’d say that the sizing is pretty accurate, though I think I’d prefer a slightly closer fit in the waist at the back. The neck is very close fitting, as I imagine it is supposed to be, but I’m fairly sensitive to things touching my neck. While I can deal with the neck issue on this top by simply not zipping it up all the way, I’ll probably end up scooping out a regular neckline or altering the integrated collar in some way.

The shoulders could use a little work as well, I feel like there is too much pulling under the arm, and a better shoulder fit may improve the neck fit as well. I think I’ll do a straight size S next time around.

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As far as construction goes, this was a quick top to make. The zip and placket/facing was a little dicey, and took some careful reading of directions to get right. I think the finishing on the inside ended up a little messy, and not completely as represented in the diagrams. The zipper facing is much wider than the zipper under-placket, but the facing doesn’t show up at all in the diagrams when you’re constructing the neck facing/placket. I think this could be neatened up a little, but I’ll have to work out how. If I do want another high-neck version of this top I’ll most likely make a separate neck piece or, at the very least, top stitch around the bottom edge of the neck facing. The pattern has you stitch in the ditch to secure the neck facing, but I’m not completely satisfied with that finish.

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I don’t yet know much about wicking/activewear fabrics, but I won’t be buying the stuff from Joanns again. It has a slightly plastic-y feel and retains odors. None of my RTW activewear (cheap or not) has either of these issues. I know higher quality fabric exists, but I’m not sure how much money I want to spend experimenting. I’m pretty minimalist with how much running gear I own, so I’m happy to get by with only a few pieces.

This top serves as a “wearable muslin” and I have been wearing it, despite my issues. Plus, this was a really fun top to sew! All the seaming is fantastic and there’s a lot of room for color-blocking, piping, top stitching, extra pockets, and so on. The jury is out as to how far down the activewear rabbit hole I’ll fall, but if the right fabric comes along it’s definitely worth the effort.

How about you guys? Anyone else tempted to stitch up exercise gear?

—lisa g.

Thread Theory | Camas Blouse

I’m sure you are all familiar with Thread Theory by now. Even though they have a clear menswear focus, they decided to throw us ladies a bone and put out a women’s blouse pattern! Since my name is in the tester pool, Morgan and Matt asked for some willing participants to sew up the Camas Blouse (from the finished pattern, I did not test it prior to release) and post about it. My hand shot up pretty quickly, as this is undoubtedly a pattern I would have purchased anyway. You all know I love a good button-up, and I’ve always had a weakness for the “V-necked with little gathers” variety.

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This blouse is designed for knit fabrics, and I used a rayon jersey I picked up from fabric.com on their black Friday sale (pretty sure it sold out). I had this blouse in mind when I ordered it, so I was super pleased that it was the exact weight and drape that I wanted. That doesn’t usually happen! Then I searched my scraps for a coordinating contrast fabric, and came up with leftovers from a recently made (though not yet blogged…) dress. It’s actually not a perfect match, but the floral has so many shades of blue that it just kinda goes together. The blouse is loose fitting, so it wasn’t a problem to mix a woven fabric in for the yoke pieces.

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I picked a size 8 based on my bust measurement, then graded out at the waist and hip by 1/4″ (1″ all around). I was in between the 8 and 10 for my waist and hip, so I wanted to make sure it didn’t end up too clingy. The sizing was perfect, and I’m very pleased with the fit!

Aside from size adjustments, I made a few tweaks to the pattern.

  • Added 1″ in length to the hem—I’m high waisted, but also tall-ish, so I just tacked on length instead of splitting it at the “shorten/lengthen” line.
  • In the back—I took 1″ off the bottom of the yoke, and added the inch to the top of the back piece. Visually, I prefer a narrow yoke, and since I was using a woven for the yoke, I wanted to make sure I didn’t end up with it being too tight across the back.
  • Neckline—I raised the neckline by 1″. I have a high bust and quite often run into the problem of unintentionally plunging necklines.

Altering the neckline was a little tricky to do since I had to make sure the neckband and blouse front would match around the V-neck curve. Since I was only raising it by an inch I didn’t alter the yoke piece any, just changed the angle from the yoke seam and down. If I were to raise it any further, I’d have to start the adjustment higher.

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Construction was pretty much a breeze, until I got to the button placket, which was very tedious. I suppose it was the wide (5/8″) SA’s that made things tricky. Trying to sew opposing curves between the button placket and blouse front with a wide SA is just a frustrating (and often inaccurate) experience. I did make sure to stay stitch and clip the most extreme curves, but next time around I’ll narrow the SA to begin with. Because the finished placket is so narrow, you have to aggressively trim down and grade the SA’s anyways.

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I do like how the inner placket isn’t turned under, but simply left as is, more like a facing. Then, instead of top stitching the placket, I stitched in the ditch at the placket seam line, catching the facing. When I finished the inner edge of the placket on my serger (before stitching it down), i trimmed off about 1/4″ to keep the facing nice and narrow.

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Lastly, this pattern suggests interfacing the yoke pieces as well as both outer and inner placket. I skipped interfacing the yoke pieces since I was using a woven, and I skipped interfacing the inner placket to keep the placket from becoming too stiff. So, all I bothered to fuse was the outer button placket piece. This worked out just fine for my fabric, but you’ll want to evaluate how much interfacing to use based on your own fabric choices.

I did make functioning buttonholes, even though they are totally unnecessary, as the blouse slips easily over my head. Fortunately my otherwise unremarkable sewing machine does not put up a fuss when it’s time to make buttonholes, even in knit fabrics!

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Overall, I am truly, honestly in love with this pattern. It was fun to construct a knit blouse that ends up both comfortable and a little more dressed up than your average tee. I know this will quickly become a staple in my wardrobe!

lisa g.

*This pattern was a freebie in exchange for a blog post*

project dump

I totally failed on blogging all my makes this year, so I’m just going to dump them all in one post! Here are 20 projects that I either photographed and never blogged, or only posted on IG. All the photos are numbered and you can scroll down to the bottom for pattern info. Also, if you click on a photo you can scroll through them all easily.

Pattern Info:

  1. (Burda 08/2011 #146) I made these back in January and they’ve been worn a lot! They’re getting too small now and have a hole in the knee, but these were a definite favorite. He calls them his “truck butt” pants because of the fancy back pocket stitching.
  2. (Anywhere Dress) This is a great simple pattern. My oldest daughter is taller on the charts than she is wide, so I added several inches in length. I also swapped the facing for regular t-shirt neck binding. Huge winner! She receives many compliments whenever she wears it.
  3. (Self-drafted, used the Flashback Skinny Tee as a start) Again, for my oldest daughter. I used the topstitch function on the serger to finish the hems.
  4. (Anywhere Dress) This was for daughter #2. The floral print was very stiff and painted on, but it worked great as a shift dress. I altered the shoulder for a small kimono sleeve and color-blocked with some navy cotton spandex. She wears this dress all. the. time.
  5. (Tiny Pocket Tank) I was determined to get this pattern perfected because I love these tanks! This is a rayon challis, which is a perfect fabric for this style.
  6. (Tiny Pocket Tank) Also in rayon challis, with a few fitting tweaks. Still not perfect, but very close. I wear both tanks frequently, as they layer nicely with blazers and cardigans.
  7. (Hemlock Tee dress) This is the second Hemlock dress I made (first here, with a short tutorial), and both were big winners this year. Love this style for casual wear!
  8. (Saltspring) I really like this dress, but it’s a bit of a fail in terms of my lining choice. The lining is too stiff, and so it only got worn a couple times. I plan to take it apart and re-line it in a rayon challis so it will drape nicer. I like it too much to let it languish in the closet!
  9. (McCalls 6919) Love this little dress on my daughter! The top is denim, and the bottom is a cotton batik. Mccalls kids patterns seem to run huge in the chest, so it’s not perfect fit-wise. No matter, she wore this constantly during the summer.
  10. (McCalls 6833) I like this dress in theory more than in practice. It’s super cute, fits perfectly, and is fun to wear! However, it’s a little revealing at the neckline and the straps need adjusted to cover my bra straps. I’ll re-visit strap placement in the spring, and maybe even get a babysitter since it would be great for a date night in the summer!
  11. (Flashback Skinny Tee) I use this pattern a lot for t-shirts and t-shirt variations. Here I cut the bodice short and added a gathered skirt. Now that it’s winter, she layers long sleeve shirts and tights underneath.
  12. (Hemlock Tee) This is a thin drape-y rayon jersey. I wear this every single time it comes out of the wash. I love the color, the floral print, and it works well with a cardigan.
  13. (Scout Tee) I picked up this really fab chambray stripe fabric when I was in Austin, TX. It is lightweight and breezy and soft and just generally a really awesome fabric!
  14. (Burda 08/2012 #152) My son just loves button up shirts, so I picked up this shirting from Joanns. It’s a teeny-tiny stripe, which was super annoying to sew! But, this is another frequently-worn shirt, and he looks so sharp in it! Great pattern too, btw.
  15. (Jalie 2919) I love Jalie. You get a huge bang for your buck with their patterns. This cardigan is for my oldest daughter, and she practically lives in it. I adjusted the design by moving the shoulder seam forward, and ditching the stitched pleats in favor of gathers. I want one just like it for me!
  16. (Hudson Pants) I have nothing to say about this pattern that hasn’t already been said. I love these pants and wear them always! I used ribbing for the waistband (and so cut the waistband several inches smaller so it wouldn’t be gathered), and a cotton/spandex french terry for the pant. They’re kind of an ugly color, but the black contrast makes it work for me. NEED MOAR HUDSONS.
  17. (Burda 10/2010 #147b) I made this for my oldest daughter out of a chambray floral print from Joanns. I lengthened the hem so she can wear it with tights and left off the waist casing in favor of a self-fabric skinny belt. I rounded off the collar and cuff and used pearl snaps. Love, love, love this dress!
  18. (Flashback Skinny Tee) Another dress variation, this time with a cowl neck. Hands down, this is her current favorite dress.
  19. (Simplicity 1366//Grainline Alder) To be blogged…
  20. (Simplicity 1366//Grainline Hemlock) Also to be blogged…

I’ll update the Grainline Studio links when her shop is back up.

I know there are still a few things that didn’t make it to the blog… some tees, leggings, a dress another pair of kid pants… but this list at least appeases my repressed OCD about getting all my makes on the blog.

Happy 2015 everyone!

—lisa g.

Mccalls 6172 | finished!!!

Man, I feel like this blazer took me an eternity to make! There’s that point in blazer and coat-making where you feel like you’ll never finish and you just can’t bear to complete one. more. step. It’s been a while since I’ve made any tailored outerwear, so I was a little rusty in terms of construction order. In the past I had followed the RTW jacket sew-a-long on Pattern~Scissors~Cloth but I thought I would do more hand-sewing this time around (this comes to play once you start attaching the lining). In the end, I ended up going back to the machine and scrapping most of my hand sewing plans.

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Since I’ve already detailed my fitting and construction in previous posts (here and here) I won’t rehash all that. In short—I found the fit to be very good, so long as you go down one size from the size chart. The “size down” thing is pretty standard (unfortunately) with Big 4 patterns, so always make sure you check the finished garment measurements first.

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About the only thing left to talk about is the lining. I picked up a poly charmeuse from joanns, mostly because I was really excited about having a print instead of a solid color. I love the print, but I don’t think I’ll be using this type of fabric for a lining again. It was extremely difficult to sew, it frayed like MAD, and it does end up feeling a little plastic-y. However—PAISLEY! So that basically makes it all good in my book. The shell fabric (wool) has a good weight to it, so this will be a blazer to wear when it’s cold. The poly lining actually lends extra warmth, for better or worse. I do prefer the feel of a rayon bemberg lining, but the stuff I can typically find around here is too thin for blazer or coat lining.

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As I already mentioned, I decided to ignore most of the pattern’s directions and instead followed the construction order of the RTW Jacket sew-a-long. I did the sleeve shell/lining join, and started the hem bagging by machine. It is so much cleaner to finish the facing/lining/hem join by machine rather than trying to hand stitch all that. What I did was sew the facing hem all the way to the dart seam by machine. Then from there, I catch-stitched the remaining hem turn up, and then fell stitched the lining in place. I do think that this gives a nice crisp hem line, superior to simply tacking the hem facing at the SA’s. Plus, that small bit of hand sewing doesn’t take that much extra time.

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One thing I wish I had done differently would be to draft a better lining. Except for the back piece (which at least has a deep pleat for wearing ease) the rest of the lining is just a duplicate of the shell. I was all set to draft this, but I was feeling a little burnt out at that point and just didn’t want to deal. In the future, I will take the extra step! (Jen at Grainline Studio has an excellent tutorial on how to do this.)

Random note: I typically need to lengthen sleeves by 1″ on patterns, but I didn’t make any changes here. So, if you suffer from an average to short arm length… you may need to alter the sleeves.

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I did feel like I had a hard time getting a good crisp press at the lapel and collar edge. Part of this is due to my failing iron (the water chamber leaks, so I have to use a spray bottle with water to get any steam) and the thickness of the wool. In the end, I decided to topstitch the collar and lapel to get the crisp edge I needed. I’m completely happy with this decision given that I wanted a casual look and I had already topstitched the patch pockets in place. The extra topstitching at the collar fits right in and ends up being a nice detail.

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All in all, I am very pleased with the fit I achieved, the fabric is killer, and I know I’ll be wearing this a lot. I can already imagine sewing up both the short and long length options in a variety of fabrics. Basically this pattern is very versatile, and if you’re looking for a classic blazer pattern—this is a good one. Sheesh… now that’s it’s winter here, maybe I should start a winter coat. Ya know, so I can wear it sometime by March.

—lisa g.

Some dress fitting…

I finished my new blazer and was hoping to get some photos today… alas there is no sun and it’s rained all day… blerg. In the meantime, I’m working on a dress and am having some fitting issues, and thought I’d share. Kennis from the new pattern company Itch to Stitch contacted me to see if I would be interested in sewing and reviewing her first pattern, the Marbella Dress*. To be honest, I was reluctant to sew up a pattern from a company completely unknown to me. Aside from from a handful of indie pattern lines, I’ve been drawn more and more back to Big 4 patterns. The thing is, once you sort out your standard fitting issues you can broadly apply them to a vast number of patterns. With indie patterns, you don’t always know what type of figure they draft for. I don’t like re-inventing the wheel every time I sit down to make something.

However, I was intrigued by this dress because she offers different bodice pieces based on bra cup size. YES. Now Mccalls and Simplicity do have a handful of cup size based patterns, but they only go down to a B (which is their normal draft) so I still have to make bust alterations when using those.  I also happened to have some black cotton sateen on hand that was a bargain buy, so if the dress worked out great! If not, I wasn’t really out much.

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I’m happy to report that the bodice front has a very nice fit, and the bust is perfect—did you catch that?—perfect on me. That is an absolute first. The back bodice has some neckline gape (I had to remove a full inch from center back at the top of the zip), and the overall bodice length is too long (I’ll need to take up the waist seam by 1/2″). These are fairly common issues for me, so nothing shocking there.

Unfortunately, the skirt portion of the dress is problematic for me. The skirt has a tulip shape with pleats on the front, and the back is fitted with darts. Going by my measurements, I cut a 4 at the waist and graded out two sizes at the hip. The finished skirt width seemed perfectly adequate, however the distribution of the skirt width is completely wrong for me. My backside is dramatically throwing off the fit of the skirt, to the point that it’s completely unwearable as is.

I know I have a curvier backside, so I went back and took my hip measurement (40″) and determined that my front hip measure is 18″, and my back 22″. That’s a 4″ difference. So here’s my question: What is a normal backside measurement? Would an 18″ front and 20″ back be more “standard”? Should I select size based on a 38″ hip then add 2″ to the back (increasing through the dart intake)? I just haven’t made many fitted skirts (for a reason!) so I’m pretty inexperienced here. Looking at the back dart, it is comically small… about 1/2″. That seems tiny even for someone with less booty than myself.

Now, I do have more fabric, so I’d like to sort out the skirt problems because frankly—I like this dress. I’ll go back and take some pattern measurements, re-cut the back piece, and trim down the front side seams. However, I’m not sure if I really want the back fitted (as designed), or if I want to go tulip shaped all around (think a more subtle version of the BHL Elisalex). I’m open to thoughts on this one, but at the moment I’m inclined to alter the front skirt piece to use as the back. Looking past the current fit issues, I think this would end up being a fairly useful wardrobe addition, so I’m hoping to end up with something wearable! When I do re-work the skirt, I’ll be sure to give a more comprehensive review of the pattern.

—lisa g.

*this pattern was a freebie, given for me to review.

mccalls 6172 progress

I managed to make solid progress on my blazer last week (Mccalls 6172), and I’m pretty thrilled with how it is turning out! There is very little in the pattern I’ve felt the need to change or improve upon, so if you’re in the market for a blazer pattern, this one is a winner. I especially love that it will work in a variety of fabrics (structured or not) and there are options for different lengths (cropped to hip length). Also, it has a lot of built in lines for pattern alterations and instructions for many common adjustments. Very handy! As per usual, there are only directions for FBAs and not SBAs… but whatever. :P

I spent what felt like an eternity fusing the jacket pieces. I used weft interfacing on the entire front, collar, facing, then partially fused the back pieces and the sleeves. I also added fusible horsehair on the lapel, upper chest, and the stand area of the undercollar. I had such a hard time with the fusible, and encountered near disaster. First off, the fusing leeched through and stuck to my press cloth so badly that I ended up using parchment paper under my iron. I don’t have an organza press cloth, I was just using muslin, so I don’t know if that would have made a difference.

Then, after fusing, I went to transfer my pattern markings only to find that my pieces had shrunk quite significantly (vertically). I had a mini panic attack and contemplated my options. my longest pieces had shrunk by a solid 3/8″ vertically. Now, I had pre-shrunk my wool, twice actually. I sent it through the dryer on high with a wet towel, then I took our garment steamer to it. I spent quite a bit of time doing this, so I was perplexed as to what had happened. Turns out, it was the fusible that shrunk. Yeah, thanks Pellon. Next time I’ll be ordering from Fashion Sewing Supply. Should I have block fused? Maybe… but to be honest I’m not sure that’s 100% the way to go either. Plus it’s really hard to do well with my current ironing board setup.

Anyways, I had two options: (1.) Sew as if nothing happened. (2.) Go back to my pattern pieces and reduce all the SA’s and re-cut my fabric.

I thought about it for a while and decided that from shoulder to hem, 3/8″ isn’t all that much for a loosely fitted blazer. I had considered shortening the armhole depth, but in the end didn’t, so if I lost 1/8″ there, no big deal. Also, my waist sits high, so a little more length lost there, no big deal. All the fused pieces that had shrunk were going to be sewn to other shrunk fused pieces, so most everything would match up as is.

Okay, freak out over, I started sewing and everything has worked out just fine. Big sigh of relief! As it stands I have the entire shell and facing complete. I should note that I did add a back neck facing piece. It always bugs me when patterns don’t have them, and it’s no work at all to draft.

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I’m very happy with the fit alterations I made from my muslin, everything seems to be working out as expected. I cut a 10 at the shoulder/bust, grading out to a 12 at the hip (for reference, my measurements are: bust 34″, waist 29″, hip 39″). From there I made the following fit adjustments:

  • 1″ SBA (small bust)
  • 1/4″ FSA (forward shoulder)
  • added 1/2″ to the lower part of the back of the armhole (you can check out my pattern alteration in my last post)
  • narrowed the sleeves by 3/8″
  • decreased my SA by 1/8″ from waist to hemline on all the back pieces and the side seams, giving me an extra 1 1/4″ for le booty.

One last thing I need to do is add pockets to the front. I’ve decided to go with patch pockets since, well, I like patch pockets on blazers. I also think I’ll be doing an interior welt pocket. I put one in the winter coat I made two years ago and it’s super handy for phone stashing.

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I finally picked up some lining the other day, so now I’ve got everything I need to finish this baby up. May not get there by the end of November, but it’ll be close!

—lisa g.

blazer | mccalls 6172

Life has been pretty hectic around these parts… unfortunately my sewing time, not to mention blogging time, has been virtually non-existent. So, so sad… I actually had decent Halloween costumes made up for the kiddos this year, but I never got around to getting good photos, so… oh well. They’re up on IG if you’re interested.

Instead of trying to post all the unblogged things, I’ll just jump ahead to what I’m working on now. Namely, a blazer! I’ve been wanting to make a blazer for a long time, so I jumped in when Gail and Shar teamed up on IG and were all like “Yeah! We’re sewing blazers! Wooooooo!” Andrea joined up as well, and we were all pretty gung-ho for a couple of days. So… that was the end of Septemeber, and we aimed to be done by the end of October-ish. Oh what, it’s mid-November now? Heh heh… oops.

I’m making view B, but will add patch pockets

I muslined the blazer (what seems like) ages ago but only this week did I transfer my alterations to my pattern and got cutting. I’m going for a relaxed fit, so I tried to keep my fitting low key. I stuck to my usual changes and did a 1″ SBA, a 1/4″ FSA (I didn’t mess with the sleeve cap, I figure it will be easier to just make some small adjustments when I set the sleeves), and took a small tuck out of the lapel. The only thing left troubling me was some restriction in arm movement. In the past I’ve shortened the depth of the armhole to gain more movement, but when i fiddled with the seam line on my muslin it left the back of the armhole looking kinda funny. Then by chance, I read Idle Fancy’s post with a ton of fitting links, including this one from A Fashionable Stitch. BINGO. That’s exactly what I needed. I don’t have broad shoulders, but I think perhaps my forward shoulder makes the standard armhole placement a little off? Or maybe it’s something else altogether… who knows!

The change was fairly straightforward. I simply straightened out the curve on the back of the jacket, and added a little extra in the same part on the sleeve. Things got a little dicey when I was altering the sleeve since this has a two-piece sleeve and the adjustment crossed between the two pattern pieces, but I think I’m in a good place. Basting will be my friend when I get to the sleeves.

I feel the need to apologize for the terribly lit iPhone photos… it’s a dark and dreary day!

The fabric I’m using is a very nice Pendelton wool that was gifted to me by one of my husband’s aunts. A few months ago she sent me a box of five cuts of wool (with receipt dated from 1992!) and the pink is just the right shade of bold without being obnoxious. Now that my fabric is cut, I need to get to fusing. The fabric has nice weight to it, so I’m using a weft fusible, reinforced with a little hair canvas fusible on the back collar, front lapel, and upper chest.

I’m pretty excited to get going now that my schedule has eased a bit and I have some momentum behind me. Who knows, I may finish it by the end of November… only a month late!

—lisa g.

P.S. If you’re really interested in seeing our slow progress, just search #bourbonandblazers on IG