Week 52: Margot + Mending

Well, this is the last week of the year, and of course the last night of the year as well here in Portland, so happy new year! It’s kind of hard to believe I’ve been doing this for a full year, to be honest. It simultaneously feels like I’ve been doing it forever and only just started. I have a wrap-up planned for tomorrow, but for tonight it’s just a normal update.

I wrapped up the Margot PJ pants! They are quite a bit shorter than I was expecting, because I failed to consider hemming when I shortened the pattern (oops), but they are about where I’d wanted them to be – a couple inches above the ankle, where I’ll never trip over them even if the tie comes loose and they start getting a bit low. I probably could have shortened it by an inch instead of three and it would have been ankle length, but I’m not at all unhappy with the length as they are. I should have added a full seat adjustment (I just need to give up and do that by default), and the front crotch area fits a little weirdly (maybe for the same reason) but there is enough ease that they’re still plenty comfy and make for great pajama pants. Yay for old flannel sheets!

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Mending-wise, I made it through most but not all of what I wanted to. I darned this hole in the very first pair of socks I ever made:

It  spanned enough rows that I actually decided to knit a patch while darning to cover it. It was kind of an awkward affair, especially since it was right at the point where the heel was decreasing, but it turned out all right.

I don’t believe I mentioned this sweater before, but I found it at the Bins months ago, and I decided that since it needed mending it was a justifiable purchase for this year:

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It’s 100% wool, and it is a little bit felted (but still stretchy) – it looks like it was originally a mock honeycomb pattern like the one I used on these socks (but purled on the right side), but I am a very inexperienced darner and opted to just darn it in stockinette. It had three moth holes that needed repairing. I used a Paton’s 100% wool yarn, and it’s a decent match considering I forgot to bring the sweater with me to the store when I went to buy darning yarn. It’s a bit heavier weight, so the darned spots are a little stiffer, and it’s a touch darker. It’s more noticeable from the inside than the outside, I feel, and anyway I’m not that concerned if it’s not a perfect match. I’m not quite bold enough to do perfectly visible mending, but semi-visible mending doesn’t bother me.

The largest darned spot is obviously in the center, but you can also see the spot I mended in the collar at the top left.

I don’t actually have any other wool sweaters, so this was a great find – I’ve already worn it out a few times and it’s nice and warm in a way my other sweaters aren’t quite. (I imagine the partial felting helps with that, too.)

The last thing I managed to get mended is a quilt my late great grandmother made for me when I was a teenager (so… probably twenty years ago now). The edges have been pulling out of the binding and fraying for awhile. I just darned over the smaller spots, but this was one of the larger holes that I didn’t think just reinforcement was going to help:

So instead I took a scrap of flannel leftover from the PJs and patched it:

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I’m kind of excited about the idea of it just getting patched and re-patched over the years, putting my own care into maintaining something that my great grandmother put her care into making for me. I’ll have my own boro quilt by the time I die, haha. I’ve been hesitant to use this quilt much since I don’t want to wash it much while there are holes, so it will be nice to put it back on the bed while it’s still winter.

The major mending I wanted to get done that did not is another item my great-grandmother made, a nightgown. It’s my favorite, because it’s knee-length rather than ankle-length (I hate it when nightgowns get twisted around my legs as I’m sleeping), and though it’s flannel, it’s lightweight enough that I can wear it in summer, too. It’s definitely going to be a project – the cuffs and neckline are all worn completely ragged, there’s a giant hole in the armpit, and there are a lot of spots that are just nearly worn through and need to be reinforced. It’s probably a week’s project on its own. I might also attempt to make a pattern from it before I fix it up, because unlike the quilt, the nightgown is unlikely to survive my lifetime no matter how much repair I do (although we’ll see), and I’d like to make another like it before this one falls to pieces.

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Week 51: Margot PJ pants, part 1

WHEW well with the holiday and everything going on with my house paperwork I almost forgot to do my update.

I did not, however, forget to do sewing! I graded up the pattern (really very easy with a multi-size pattern) and got all the pieces cut out.

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Grading up in progress – the paper is lifting up a bit so it doesn’t look like it, but the dots are two sizes out from the last size. Once marking is done, you just connect the dots, easy peasy. Since you have to trace the pattern anyway, it’s really easy to do it at that point.

I wound up shortening the legs by about 3 and a quarter inches, because they were going to be really long on me. I’m not particularly short (5’5″), but I do often have problems with pant legs being too long.) I probably took a bit too much off and when I hem them they will be shorter than intended, which is actually fine by me. I was considering making them 3/4 length anyway, and decided against it for no particular reason, so a bit short is not a problem.

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I’ve loved the owl flannel selections at the fabric store forever, so I had to jump on these flannel sheets when I saw them at the Bins. The fabric has clearly been used, but it’s overall in good condition. The fabric is white – the yellow is because we have no light in Portland in the winter. :\ I probably should have ironed it before cutting, too, but… they’re PJs.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish up the PJs
  • All the mending – I have a number of things sitting around waiting for me to mend them before I can wear them again, and I would like to start next year with a clean slate. Since I have no work next week and just house buying stuff to stress out about, this should be doable, right? RIGHT?

And of course, since it is Christmas Eve and all, Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. 🙂 I hope you’re with people you care about, or enjoying a quiet night alone if you prefer (that’s what I’m doing!)

Week 45: Selene, complete!

It’s done!

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The hem is actually straight, I promise. I just can’t resist looking at that bias tape hem.

It’s been so long, I barely remember working on anything else. And although I’ve made this pattern before (the version without pockets), my unfortunate pattern adjustments made this one of the hardest projects to date. I’m frankly amazed it’s wearable at all! But actually, it mostly lays smoothly and I suspect I’m the only one who will see the problems. Plus I love some of the details – the pockets are great, I love the gold topstitching, and I am super proud of my hem now that it’s done.

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In hindsight I probably should have gone with a quarter inch seam on my first pass attaching the bias tape, but I don’t really mind the wider strip there.

Lastly, I cut fabric out for two more pairs of underwear from my heart and skull knit fabric – which leaves me with just small scraps now – the first of my fabric stash I’ve officially used up.

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Goals for next week:

  • two pair of underwear
  • ponder the next pattern

Week 44: Selene Waistband

Continuing the theme of this project, I had some issues with the waistband. Namely, after I’d gotten the pieces sewn together and went to pin it to the skirt, it was too small. By a lot. I… almost ragequit at that point, but I am so close to done with this thing that I persevered.

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The finished waistband, all topstitched like real jeans.

One of my cutting mistakes was that I cut the two back waistband pieces doubled, which actually worked out in my favor here, since I was able to use those. I just had to cut out the center front piece again. And then since I’d had some problems getting the fusible interfacing to actually fuse, I opted to cut out some of my reclaimed muslin and use it as sew-in interfacing. (I can’t bear to just toss my old muslins, so I have them and and all my muslin scraps stashed in a box. This is the first time I’ve actually used them, haha.)

So it turned out that I’d somehow cut the waistband at the right size to begin with, and the previous adjustments I’d made to try to make it fit were totally wrong. I was within about 1/4″ of where I needed to be. The notches didn’t all line up exactly, but they were close enough, and nobody’s going to know but me.

I topstitched the waistband in that gold denim topstitch thread, and even poor Ethel was struggling with the number of layers at the bottom corners. I had to hand-crank my way through some of the harder parts since the needle kept failing to come back up. Then at the last corner, when the thread finally broke about half an inch from the end, I realized that I still had the universal needle in from when I was doing stuff with the lining. The jeans needle worked a lot better to get me through that last stretch. Good lesson for next time I use denim.

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The inside of the skirt. Almost done! I do really love this fabric combination.

Now that the waistband is done, I’m on the home stretch – I even hemmed up the lining with no problems, and got the skirt vent hemmed at 1 1/4″ as instructed. I was going to finish all the hemming today and be down to just the thread chains (to connect the lining and the shell) and the hook and eye, but then I decided that I’m going to do bias tape over the raw edge of the hem instead of the blind hem treatment recommended. I did a blind hem on the sloper skirt that was in a similar weight fabric, and it’s really way too bulky. I’ve been considering re-hemming the sloper skirt as well – it’s that annoying.

So sadly, that means there’s one more week left on this project. But then it’s done forever and I can move on to a quick and easy project next. (Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a quick and easy project?) I already know what it’s going to be: underwear. I tossed two pairs recently and that means it’s time to make some more.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish Selene! (Bias tape, hemming, hook and eye, thread chains)
  • Cut out fabric for 2-3 pairs of underwear

Week 43: Zippers and Interfacing

Hemming up my sister’s dress took longer than expected, mostly because trying to even out the gathering on that big a circumference was so time-consuming. It isn’t totally even, but I didn’t say anything about it and she didn’t seem to notice, and she said it was the perfect length, so hooray!


I french seamed it, because it was rayon and prone to fraying, and after one wash the factory seam was already coming out, so I decided to make it extra enclosed.

Today I tackled the lined zipper, which was a massive pain (as expected). My pattern adjustments hadn’t taken into account the need for the left lining to be slightly smaller than the outside, and even though I’d attempted to compensate when I initially sewed the lining, it clearly wasn’t quite right after my first pass at stitching the lining and zipper together. I wound up putting the seam for the center back at about 1 inch on the left, and the right back at about 3/4 inch. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s the lining – if it is still too loose I can add a tuck all the way down to tighten it up and nobody will notice. It’s not that snug of a pencil skirt.


Contrast topstitching the lapped zipper was terrifying, of course, and I had to re-stitch a section in the middle where it had gone off the stitch line when I closed up the zipper. I opted to topstitch the vent in a dark blue instead of the gold, just because I felt like it would look weird in gold.


Lastly, although I know I had “cut out interfacing” on the docket for weeks ago, I skipped that step, and I’m glad I did – I had to make some significant changes to the back waistband pieces to make it match up to the actual skirt, so I transferred those changes back to the pattern before I cut the interfacing. I’m still not sure about how well it’s going to match up, but I guess I’ll find out pretty soon here!

Goals for next week:

  • Attach the waistband

I’d really like to finish off the whole skirt, but I’m trying to keep my stated goals very attainable, haha.

Week 41: Seam Finishes and Lining

I suppose the title is a bit of a misnomer, as I haven’t actually finished lining the skirt. I did, however get it basted in around the top. But first I got to deal with all the seam finishes I’d been neglecting and forgotten about.

I was going to press the side seams open and finish separately as recommended in the instructions, and then top stitch over each side to keep the large seam allowances down (I opted not to trim them ahead of time to help with potential future alterations), but then realized I’d be topstitching over the pocket openings, and I really didn’t want to do that. I caved and did mock flat fell seams on the side seams as well, and then topstitched like I did between the center front and side front panels, to give it a nice line. There’s just something magical about that denim topstitch color thread on denim – it looks way more professional than it has any right to. Those side seams will be a pain to take out if I need to make alterations, but they lay much more nicely right now.
Then I finished off the side seams for the lining, which I’d been waiting on until I fit the shell. I then proceeded to finish the seams off and stitch over the basting I’d initially done without making any adjustments based on the final fit. When I went to pin the lining to the shell, the lining was a good inch too short at least. The left back lining was supposed to be a tiny bit short to help pull in the lapped zipper, but there was just no way this was going to work. So I took out the top of the side seams and re-pinned them so that the lining was the right length to match the shell, and then it went together much better.

It’s hard to see in this picture but I had to significantly reduce the seam allowance at the waistline (bottom of the picture) so it would match up the shell


I’m extremely ready to be done with this skirt at this point – it’s been an absolute bear, and it’s pretty much all my own alterations that have done it. None of the notches have matched up, the lengths haven’t even matched up, I’m still not sure the lining isn’t going to be weird and lumpy when it’s fully attached or what I’m going to do about it if it is. I’m eyeing new patterns longingly, and between work being hectic and stressful and my own lack of motivation, the project really just isn’t going fast enough. I refuse to move to another project before this one is finished, because if I do that I know I’ll never finish it. So I’ll keep baby-stepping my way through it.

I do have to spend some time on mending this coming week, though! I offered to raise the hem on one of my sister’s dresses, and although I’ve had it for weeks now and am about halfway through picking the seam on the flounce so I can re-attach it later, she said she might like to wear it to a function at the end of the month, so I need to, like, actually finish altering it in the near future. Probably this week.

Goals for next week:

  • Attach the lining to the zipper
  • Finish picking the seam on the sister’s dress, and at least get it trimmed to the right length and the flounce pinned in place.

Week 40: Fitting Selene, part 2

Those crazy seam lines were definitely a bear to sew. I hand-basted them first, which was good because I discovered I hadn’t blended well enough around the pocket and there was a weird pooch under my hips. I took in about a quarter inch on either side right at the hip since it still felt too big (I should have gone with a smaller size, I have realized), and after blending that in, I have something that doesn’t lay flat by any stretch but actually fits reasonably well. It’s definitely not perfect, and I am sure I broke all sorts of cardinal sewing rules to get there, but you do what you gotta do!

Front and back pinned together, pins where the seam is going to be
After stitching everything up by machine, trimming the seams, and then pressing them flat, I’m happy enough with the fit that I opted not to tweak the darts at all.

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Front and back seams complete, front on the top and back on the bottom. Lots of extra fabric there on the sides.

You can see just how much I’m taking off the back here – I’m essentially taking a massive dart out of the bottom. In the process of course I broke the alignment wth the bottom front, so I had to trim some off there, and the back already is a bit lower at the center back than at the sides, so I trimmed some off there as well.

After looking at the instructions, which say the lining is intentionally a bit smaller to help pull the lapped zipper in, I’m worried about getting the lining in, so I guess I’ll do some substantial measuring before I do that step. While I think the end result of this project will work out okay in the end, I’m looking forward to being done with it – I’ve made so many errors along the way that I am ready to start fresh with something new!

Goals for next week:

Getting the zipper installed to the lining is a whole process, I remember, so my only goal for next week will be to get that done.