Backpack with Inside Pocket






This pattern is based on an awesome tutorial by Sweet Bee Buzzings! Head over there if this tutorial is confusing, hahaha! Or feel free to message me as well. :)

Cut 2 main fabric 14 3/4” x 13” - mark tops 1” down and 2 1/8” down
Cut 2 lining fabric 14 3/4” x 13” - mark 5-6” gap at bottom
Cut 4 main fabric 2 x 2” squares
Cut 1 pocket lining fabric 21” x 13” - mark pocket stitch lines
2 cords, about 65" each (or longer and cut down to fit - still need to test this!)

All seam allowances are 3/8” unless otherwise noted


See stitch lines below.
Reinforce openings with backstitching.


Mark a 5-6" opening at bottom seam of lining.


Measure 1" down from the top of the main fabric and mark. 
Make a second mark at 2 1/8" on both sides.


POCKET
Fold pocket in half lengthwise and press



Stitch 1/4” from the folded edge
Fold the same edge down 1/4” (at the stitch line) and press


Edge stitch 
Lay pocket piece along bottom of a lining piece mark lines for pockets




Stitch along pocket markings, adding interfacing at top of pockets on back side of lining, and reinforcing stitching at top of pockets






LINING

Stitch lines again, for reference

Stitch 2 lining fabric panels together (one of which has the pockets attached) at bottom, right sides together, leaving 5-6” gap in center
Press open
Stitch remaining 2 sides
Press open

GROMMET TABS
Stitch three sides of 2” squares together, right sides together
Trim corners 
Turn
Press
Topstitch around the same three edges
Set grommets
Stitch unfinished edge of each grommet to one panel of the main fabric, placing the bottom of the tabs 1” from bottom of main fabric piece


MAIN FABRIC/OUTER SHELL


Stitch lines in red

Stitch 2 main fabric panels, right sides together, at bottom
Press open
Stitch remaining 2 sides leaving space open between marks at top, backstitching edges of opening for strength, and reinforcing stitching over grommet tabs
Press open
Sew rectangle around openings at top, see illustration below
Ignore how awful this drawing looks, haha!
This stitching reinforces the opening where the drawstrings will eventually go.




ASSEMBLY
Put one inside the other, right sides together, aligning seams
If they match up well, stitch top
Turn piece through lining bottom gap

Stitch lining gap at bottom closed, as close to the edge as possible
Stuff lining inside the bag

Press top seam
Top stitch 
Now use the top of the rectangle (at the edge of the opening in side seams) as a guide and stitch all the way around.
Top stitch again at the bottom of the rectangle to create a channel for the drawstrings





Attach a large safety pin to the end of one of the cords and insert cord through one of the openings, threading it all the way around until it comes out the same opening as it started from
Thread both ends of the same cord through the grommet, from back to front, on the same side as the opening they just came out of
Tie both cords in a knot
Repeat on the other side and you're done!




Gemma Tank


I'm currently obsessed with Meg over at Sew Liberated. I'm trying not to fan girl all over her on Instagram, but I've found her approach to clothing and making an intentional wardrobe really refreshing. I'm looking forward to her Mindful Wardrobe Project, because I've needed a dose of it in my life.

I know a lot of women struggle with post-baby bodies. Weight fluctuation, carrying a little more than you'd like, and proportions that have changed. I'm definitely in this camp. I haven't been as proactive as I could be about doing yoga or not having that second glass of wine. Meanwhile, most of my pre-baby clothes don't fit. So I've purchased a few loose t-shirts and some comfy lightweight sweaters to get me through. But it doesn't make getting dressed every day fun, or god forbid, inspiring.

So the concept of being mindful about your clothes in a way that fully embraces your body as it is right this moment is a very appealing concept. I keep telling myself that my body has done something miraculous. Created another human, fostered life itself, blah blah blah. All that is true, but sheesh I wish all my cute jeans fit. I've been sorta waiting to revamp my wardrobe until I lose weight, but in all honesty, I really want to be comfortable and cute, RIGHT NOW.



The Gemma tank by Made by Rae is my first step toward this.

Meg wore it in so many cute ways, as you can see on her Instagram account, and I kept drooling over it in that beautiful Nani Iro linen. So when I was strolling through Joann Fabrics and saw a beautiful, drapey and buttery Modal that had a very similar indigo dye inspired print, I had to make it mine. I was trepidatious because I don't wear a lot of wovens. I am an extremely flexible person, and tall, so I've never found wovens to be particularly comfortable. But I had this one top...



It's from Old Navy. It's an XL, but feels like an XXL. It has elastic shirring across the shoulder blades. It's in a beautiful bohemian print. It's long enough to cover a bit of my butt. It's loose enough that it's comfortable enough to sleep in. And every time I wear it, even when I was 9 months pregnant, I feel great in it, and really that's the most important thing.

As I was contemplating making a blue and white woven tank, I was keeping in mind the things I love about the Old Navy top, and wanted to recreate the things I love about it. The Gemma tank is the pattern Meg at Sew Liberated used, and after comparing a few of the indie tank patterns out there, I decided to just go with the Gemma. I liked that it took into account the upper bust measurement, as that's always been a problem area for me fit-wise. The Old Navy top skirted around that with the front keyhole opening, and the elastic shirring in the back, but I didn't want to add those particular details. The keyhole with the ties is pretty, but kind of annoying. And the shirring isn't quite as flattering as I'd like across my broad upper back. Plus, if I wear a bra it shows both in front and back, so it had better be cute and match. Ugh.



I cut out the pattern in a size 2, knowing it might be a bit large for my measurements, but that I could always take it in if needed, which I eventually did. I wound up with a size 1 in the side seam at the armscye, and graded back to the 2 at the hip so it would keep some flowyness.

I also altered the neckline a bit. I cut out a size 2 at the top shoulder, a size 3 at the top of the neckline, grading down to an L at the center bodice. That made the width of the shoulder a bit narrower, and the neckline deeper and a touch wider, which I knew from experience would feel less claustrophobic on my body.

I then added a bit over an inch to the length, just above the waistline. The pattern was actually already pretty good for my height, I'm 5'11", but I wanted to cut a bit long for the added butt coverage, knowing that I still have an addiction to yoga pants and leggings, but don't love how my butt looks in them. Just a personal preference. Also if the top is long enough, I don't worry about panty lines should I happen to have my grannies on.



I sewed it up relatively quickly, during Luna's nap times, and had it finished in about a 24 hour period. This is good in mom-time. I can't believe how much patience is required for parenting in general, but especially when trying to actually get stuff done. It just takes more freaking time. Ah well. I love her, so it works out.

The pattern specifies that you can finish the neckline and arm holes however you want, and the Made by Rae blog has an amazing post about different bias bindings for the Gemma tank in particular, here. My intention was to do the French, but in classic Victoria form I sewed my neck binding to the wrong side of the fabric and instead of ripping it out and trying again, I Bob Ross-ed it and called it a "happy accident."




I really don't mind how it turned out. It gives even a bit more interest to the top, I think. I used another Made by Rae post to make bias binding. I had a yard and a half of this fabric, but loved it so much I didn't want to cut across the large leftover piece to make one long continuous bias tape. Instead, I used the actual scraps from cutting out the pattern. I wound up with about 8 smaller pieces, around 10 inches each, that I seamed together. I knew that some of them would show (though I didn't realize quite how much, considering I was assuming this bias tape would be on the INSIDE instead of the happy accident outside), so I tried to match the pattern at the ends of the strips as best I could. I'm actually pretty proud of that nugget, because there are two seams on the front of my neckline that are pretty much invisible. I mean, I also got incredibly lucky. But I'm glad I took the extra effort to both be eco-conscious and aware of the color fluctuations. I now have very few unusable scraps from this project, and about another 3/4 of a yard to make something else. Shorts? A skirt? Another Gemma? The world is my oyster!




I've worn this top an embarrassing number of times since making it. I've been wearing other things out into the world, then coming home and changing into it for comfort. And THAT is how I know this top will be a truly functional part of my wardrobe. It's already been worn more than any other me-made item I have, and I hope more of the things I make can have this perfect blend of form and function.

Do you all have any tried and true patterns that you'd recommend? I'm in the market. :)









Colorblock Crochet Sweater




Hello friends! Today I'm sharing a bit more about this colorblock sweater I crocheted about 4 (5? yikes) years ago. Me Made May gave me the swift kick in the pants I needed to finally get it done. It had been sitting in my "to fix" pile for so long, mainly because I knew it would take a lot of courage to finish it properly.

The pattern was inspired by this Anthropologie sweater I saw on Pinterest, which had been blogged about over at Fringe Association.



They have a pretty decent discussion about how to DIY your own version of the sweater, with some great suggestions for where to start. I didn't know much about knitting at the time, I was in a crochet phase, so I didn't really understand what they were talking about over there. The message I came away with was "make it up." So I did.



I crocheted this in two T-shaped pieces, front and back. I took measurements for my hip, bust and shoulders, and added some ease so it would drape (which, sadly, it did not, due to cheap worsted weight yarn and the nature of crochet). I started from the bottom and went up, and honestly just winged it. I had a basic plan, but not an in-depth one by any means.

Considering how cavalier I was about it, I was pretty happy with the results. 90% happy. I didn't love the way the shoulders looked on me. A little too football player for my taste. As I'm 5'11" and fairly broad, I get a bit finicky about shoulder fit. Here are some pics of how it originally fit.



Looking at these pretty, edited pictures I'm thinking "Maybe it really didn't look that bad," but I was never reaching for it in my closet. And when I'd pull it out of the fixer pile and try it on again, I just didn't want to wear it as it was. I needed to do the scary thing and take out some stitches.


I had to take a chunk out from under the sleeve to help nip in the fit. Here's a rough idea:

After lots of thinking about it, I figured I could do it in a way that would be relatively easy. Just snip the yarn about an inch from the edge and unravel from both directions until it was the correct width. But no. Guys, it was a harrowing 30 minutes in which I snipped at both Luna and my mom, and had to apologize for being so stressed about something as silly as knotted yarn.

Do not be fooled by the peaceful, organized-looking picture below. It was, to be plain, awful.



But I made it through, and I'm really glad I did! Here are some before and after shots. Sooooo much better for my body shape.






I may have nightmares about the sound of that cheap yarn snipping through my scissors, but I have a sweater I like a whole lot more than I did. I'm really hoping it'll become something I reach for a lot more, as it's a really good top for LA weather.

PS...I added it to my Ravelry page, that you can find here, which is slowly but surely growing. Reeeeeally hoping to add a finished Tecumseh sweater to my page soon. But of course I haven't started it yet, so it may be a minute. For now I'll try to wear this sucker more often and move on to the next!










Zig Zag Sweater



I fell in love with this sweater, the Zig Zag Jumper by Mrs. Moon, for its comfort and squishiness factor. I wanted to find something that could take my usual mom wardrobe up a notch. I'm usually in leggings and some sort of trapeze sweater that's just long enough to cover my bum. But I recently fell back in love with knitting, as you can see in this post, and I wanted to make something for myself that was quick and bulky, something that I'd actually wear. So comfort was key.





I altered this pattern a bit, due to my own finicky-ness. First off, the neckline. This is a top-down sweater, where you start at the neckline and knit toward the waistline. The pattern begins just below the neck band, and the pattern instructs you to add it at the end. I get a little claustrophobic in high-necked tops, plus I really liked the way this sweater draped while I was trying it on in its unfinished stages (especially in the back!), so I decided not to add the ribbing and instead added a drawstring. I just threaded a piece of yarn in and out all the way around, then tied it to my liking and wove the ends in. Kinda ghetto, haha, but hey man, I'm the one wearing it, so I do what I like! 




I went back and forth about adding the sleeves. I don't usually reach for a sweater of this thickness unless I'm actually cold, so it was my intention to add them. I considered doing 3/4 sleeves, to both keep the bulky feeling down, as this yarn feels, well, super bulky, but in the end decided on the cap sleeve. I liked how it looked, but also, even though the yarn is cotton, it's pretty warm. So for temperature's sake, and for the sake of not feeling to bulky (sometimes I get fed up with clothes that are so bulky they get in the way of daily activities), I went for the short sleeve.




I'm not a huge fan of the little specks of color peeking through the color blocking. I experimented with ways to minimize this as I went, but still wound up with quite a lot of little creepers. In theory, these appear in color work because the floating yarn, the color not being used at the moment, is being picked up at the same stitch on each row. But even though I varied that (sometimes ;), I wasn't able to fully control it. 




I haven't blocked this sweater, because I was so excited to get it on my body I haven't taken the time, but maybe that would help get these peekers under control. Or maybe it's an attribute of this yarn, or maybe I could've sized down my needles so my stitches were tighter and that yarn underneath wouldn't have as much wiggle room. Either way, they're there. I may go in with a needle and thread and see if I can force them to stay out, but that sounds like a lot of work and I have no patience for that at the moment, haha!





Since I finished this a few weeks ago I haven't reached for it much beyond my initial "I'm so excited I finished this sucker I'm going to wear it every day" phase. I think it's because of two things. 

1. My closet is a disaster and Mrs. Zig Zag is getting lost in the fray. 
2. She sheds. A lot. Like it looks like we adopted a pink cat with alopecia kind of shedding. 

I know with wool yarn you can spritz your finished work with water to help bind the fibers together. But I have no idea if that would work with this cotton, or if it will just make it pill.

Does anyone know how to solve a shedding situation with bulky cotton yarn? I'm listening, internet.



Me Made May & Me: Where I Stand



I've been really inspired by Me Made May for about a year and a half now, but I've never really participated. I first became aware of it from following Elise Joy, who I'm such a fan of if I ever saw her in real life I might faint. I've loved following her journey as she manages to make her own wardrobe pieces while also running a planner business and raising two young girls.

My little one, Luna, is about 16 months now, and I seriously don't know how anybody gets anything done. I mean, last night she was up from 3:30-5:30, then up for the day at 7:30, and I'm busted. Especially since I've always been a night owl. I really don't do well with interrupted sleep, but that's what having kids is all about. She's worth it, for sure. I'm just. So. Tired. I have extraordinary respect for moms and parents, let alone moms and parents who have to do anything else. 

So making my own clothes? Ugh. It sounds so exhausting.

BUT...

I also really love the ideas behind Me Made May: making clothing you truly love, making clothing that truly fits your body (which is big for me, being 5'11"), sustainability by encouraging reworking the clothes you already have, supporting independent designers and small businesses, getting out of a wardrobe rut, finding out where the 'holes' are in your wardrobe so the things you make will actually get worn (um, yeah, I don't need another dress I never wear), inspiration to finish works in progress, and support and inspiration from other makers.




So where does this leave me?

I didn't 'officially' sign up this year. It felt like too much pressure, haha! But, I set some goals for myself:

- Wear 'me made' items 3x/week
- Finish 3 new items that will fit into my wardrobe, that I'll actually wear
- Finish 3 works in progress

These seem like small goals, but so far, as of today, May 18th, I'm not on track.

Wearing me made items 3x/week just isn't doable. I have a handful of items I've made, so I thought I could make it work. But there are some problems. First of all, most of them are dresses. Turns out I do NOT have the patience to wear a dress in this season of life. I'm down on the ground with Luna, or hauling the stroller to the playground, or napping (hopefully), and a dress just isn't comfortable for me. At least, not the ones I've made.

There's also the issue of my new mom-bod. Since having Luna I've gone up and down in weight, and I'm currently on an upswing. I was on a very strict diet after she was born. She wasn't tolerating breast milk, so I eliminated foods one by one until I was down to 5 foods (which I never want to eat again, btw).  I lost all the baby weight and more, but she was still very sick. It was heartbreaking to switch to formula, but as soon as I gave her the first bottle, her little body relaxed in my arms for the first time in months.

I stayed on the restricted diet and pumped, and as she got a bit older and grew out of her intolerance I could give her some from time to time. But man that diet sucked. We were planning for our wedding a few months down the line, so I stuck to a strict but slightly less restricted version as a bride bootcamp of sorts. And after the wedding, I just stopped. I decided to let go a bit, and bake bread and make my grandmother's fudge recipe and enjoy the holidays. And I'm still there, haha. Of course I'd love to lose some weight, but I'm working on being really gentle with my body and mind right now. So I'm starting slowly, for my health, for the clarity of thinking that exercise and clean eating can bring, and so I can fit back into the clothes I truly love.

At this point, most of my clothes, 'me made' or otherwise, don't fit that well. And they're dresses anyway. So, yeah, I've found the 'holes' in my handcrafted wardrobe.

I have made some progress this May, though. I made this very cozy cotton sweater, the Zig Zag Jumper by Mrs. Moon.





And I made this Strata top by Sew Liberated, which I know will be a very versatile and comfortable piece in my wardrobe.




I loved the pattern so much I made a mini version for Luna. Well, it's in progress. I printed the pattern at 45%, which mostly worked, but the neck hole is too small, since babies' heads are gigantic. So I'm going to open that up when I get a chance. Then we can be twinners.



I also purchased a few more patterns with function in mind. I've been wearing a ton of leggings, but they're never cut for tall people, so it's a constant struggle to keep them up. I'm hoping to make some Arnite pants, also from Sew Liberated, to be a nicer, more comfy and more flattering version of leggings. Contemplating making them in a knit, even though they're meant for a draped woven. Could be a disaster. Could be amazing. Time will tell.

It's hard for me to be honest with myself about what I'm actually wearing. I'm sort of a mess. So I'd like to find a better version of...myself, really. Comfort meets style. That's the plan. And I'd like to see if there's a way to repurpose what I already have. I'm currently wearing a giant men's hoodie, which is starting to look like raw materials for something more flattering. Somehow.

There are 12 days left in May, and the sewing community online has been so inspiring, I'm hoping to make good use of those 12 days and come out the other side with a few more truly functional pieces in my wardrobe. Follow me on Instagram to see my progress!