Monthly Archives: March 2014

Red Renfrews and a Plain Plantain

As I reach for the me-made shirts in my closet far more often then store bought at this point, it seems prudent to make a few more. Enter one of my favorite shirt patterns: the Renfrew. I’ve already made eight (I think) shirts off this pattern, in a variety of fabrics, and using most combinations of sleeves and neck finishings on the pattern. This is the first one I made with a cowl neck and the three-quarter length sleeves. As usual the top went together without a hitch. This one is made out of a super drapey rayon-poly jersey. It feels great, and is light enough I should be able to wear it well into the spring.


The lovely lady standing next to me is my mom. In a funny bit of coincidence, she happened to be sewing a red Renfrew at the same time I was. So of course, we took pictures together. Her top is made out of a heavier weight cotton interlock. She added the machine embroidery accents. Also, she made the cowl removable! I think it’s a great idea, as it makes the shirt wearable for a great range of temperatures. Too hot? Take the cowl off. Too chilly? Put it back on! I didn’t even realize she’d made the cowl a separate piece until she told me. She did mention that she made the cowl slightly larger around (maybe and inch or two – I should probably check).

Removable cowl!

Removable cowl!

As there was a little bit of my mom’s red fabric left, kiddo got a shirt too! I love that I can sew clothes for him out of what might otherwise be considered scraps. I know that won’t last for long, given how fast he’s growing, but I’ll enjoy it while I still can.

Kiddo’s shirt is off a vintage pattern for Toddler Sportwear by Sunrise Designs. I’m guessing it was printed in the late 1970’s, or early 80’s since my mom made clothes off this pattern for my brother and I. Thankfully, after we both out grew it, she tucked it away to use for future grandchildren. And I’m thrilled she did! It’s got nice classic patterns for shirts, pants, shorts and jackets that should be enough to keep kiddo dressed for a while. And it’s sized 1T through 4T. Anyway, this was the first shirt we made him off this pattern, but it fits so well, my mom has already cut out four more. She also machine embroidered the bunny on his shirt. The text reads “I’m your little Valentine”. Yes, it’s a Valentine’s Day shirt. That’s how long it’s taken me to get around to this post. Sigh.

ValentineKiddo2And one more picture for good measure…


While I was on a shirt making roll, I decided to try out the Plantain, a free pattern by Deer & Doe. I’ve seen the shirt made up on countless other blogs, and thought it would be good to make something other than a Renfrew for once. You know, variety and all. Anyway, I’m pretty happy with how it came out.


Since I really had no idea how this was going to fit, I opted to make a test version before cutting into any of my really nice fabric. I’d already made two other shirts (maternity, no less) out of this blue fabric, so I wasn’t too worried about wasting this fabric if the top came out awful for some reason. Admittedly, this isn’t the best fabric choice. It’s a cotton/lycra (or spandex? how does one tell?) blend, so it’s got plenty of stretch. Not much drape though. Still, the shirt is wearable, and now I know how the pattern fits.


I didn’t bother with the elbow patches this time. Maybe on the next shirt. The bottom hem does tend to roll up, but I know that’s due to the fabric, since both the other shirts in this fabric do the exact same thing. The sleeves are a bit shy of the three-quarter length on the pattern, because I simply ran out of fabric. The length works fine for me though.

In the lengthy interval it’s taken me to get this post up, I’ve actually finished a second Plantain. This one is out of a lovely, drapey rayon jersey. It’s a much better fabric choice for this pattern.


As with the first one, I used up the whole piece of fabric, and the sleeves are actually a bit shorter than the pattern’s three-quarter length sleeve. Still just enough to cover my elbows though. But not really long enough for the elbow patches. Eventually I’ll make a long sleeve version and put on the elbow patches.

PebblePlantain2There’s not much else to say about the Plantain. It’s a lovely pattern, and one I’ll certainly sew again. Actually, I’ve already played with it some more since this last shirt. But I’ll save that for another post.


Studio Re-Vamp

I tend to work better in clean organized spaces. I’m able to focus better, and I feel more energized to work on projects. This would be great except that my studio is rarely what I would consider clean or organized. Most of the time it looks like a bomb just went off, or a tornado (known as my toddler) has just blown through. I can usually tidy up enough to work on something and ignore the rest. Because, really, when my sewing time is measured in naptime, the last thing I want to do is spend it cleaning.

Example A: Terrifying mess of a studio

Example A: Terrifying mess of a studio

But, the chaos in my studio finally expanded to the point where something had to be done. I store most of my fabric in big plastic tubs, and most of the quilt fabric in modular wire shelves against one wall. However, lots of little projects and digging around for specific pieces of fabric had left things piling up all over the place, including stacked on top of the already stacked tubs. Needless to say, it was a pain to get anything out of the tubs, particularly the one on the bottom.



Conveniently, I had an old door sitting around from a closet we removed a couple of years ago. The door was a little narrower than standard, and having seen a post a few years ago about turning a hollow-core door into a desk, I thought I’d hang onto it just in case. At some point, the idea of making a shelf out of the door popped to mind. Something high enough that I could fit some of the fabric tubs underneath it (making them more accessible), and put my wire shelving on top of the shelf (thus making better use of the vertical space). My wonderful husband cut some pieces of scrap wood for the legs and helped me assemble the shelf.

Wuhoo! Tub storage!

Wuhoo! Tub storage!

The shelf is pretty quick-and-dirty compared to the desk that inspired it, but I’m okay with that. Really, I plan to bury the shelf in so much fabric it will barely even be visible. The unstained bits on the edge of the door are where the hinges used to be. And yes, that pink area towards the back of the shelf is Hello Kitty duct tape. Did I mention this was a quick project? Anyway, I didn’t want any creepy-crawlys building webs in the hole where the doorknob used to be. With my studio being in a basement I get plenty of spiders already, no need to provide them another place to live.

Ready for fabric!

Ready for fabric!

I can’t believe what a difference it makes just re-arranging the space with the added shelf. It feels so much better working in here now. And I was able to add a couple of additional cubes to the wire shelving, which meant I could store more of my fabric in sight instead of in a tub. As an added bonus, going through most of my fabric has inspired me to sew more of it up! I pulled out a small pile of “sew up soon” fabrics and left them on my ironing board. I’ve already worked through most of the pile (although some pieces have been cut up, but not sewn up yet).

Filling up quickly...

Filling up quickly…

I should note, piling up fabric and patterns on my ironing board or cutting table is pretty much my version of a sewing plan. For anyone else who is as bad as I am about planning what to sew, might I suggest this excellent post? The first bit is pretty darn funny, and offers a good reason for a little planning. Now that I’ve got a better handle on my ridiculous fabric stash, I just might try a little better planning to sew through some of it. Once I get through the pile of fabric on my ironing board that is.