I’m a huge fan of the Sewaholic Renfrew Top (and have made a couple of those), but as my quest for the all handmade wardrobe continues and the realization that I mostly wear jeans and t-shirts, I figured it would be nice if all my t-shirts didn’t look exactly the same. The Renfrew can be a bit snug, which I like about the cowl version I made, but I wanted the option of a looser fitting basic t-shirt pattern. I also like the look of t-shirts with no neckband or cuffs and it makes it quicker to put together, so the Grainline Studio Lark Tee was just what I had been looking for.

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Pattern- Grainline Studios Lark Tee

A printed version of this pattern is available, but one thing I love about the Grainline patterns is that a copy shop file is available in the pdf version, so you can download it immediately, have your copy shop print it and then not have to deal with all the taping. Since I was excited to make this right away and didn’t want to wait for it to ship, I purchased the pdf version.

Fabric- Pickering International Jersey Strip- Bamboo Blend in Black from Dry Goods Design

I love this fabric, it is just the right weight and is so soft! Black and white stripes are so classic and with the boatneck creates a fun nautical look.

Alterations- 

  • Graded from a size 10 at the shoulders/arms to 12 at the waist

Fit-

  • Because I was able to grade this pattern and the shaping of it (instead of straight lines at the sides it curves out at the bottom slightly), I feel like this t-shirt fits me better than any store-bought tees I have!

Total time to make- 5 hours

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Why yes, those are my Ginger Jeans!

Notes-

My only complaint is that the neckband wants to roll out at the edges (You can see this a little bit in the back shot). It’s partly the fabric and partly because I didn’t top stitch close enough to the edge of the serged seam at the neck. I can press it and it will stay for a wearing, but who wants to have to press their knits every time they wear them? I may rip out the top stitch at the neck and fix it. This won’t keep me from using this fabric or pattern again, as I love everything else about both of them. I’ll just remember to stitch closer to the edge next time or even use a twin needle to really reinforce it.

I have been such a huge fan of Jen Beeman’s for a while now. I used her silk cutting tutorial for my wedding dress, I went and saw her speak at Dry Goods Design and I even met her last fall at Camp Workroom Social. So I can’t believe that this is the first time I have sewn one of her patterns. It certainly will not be the last though. I just started an Archer Button Up (in a gray and black plaid) and have a Linden Sweatshirt (in a gray quilted knit) and Moss Skirt (in denim) cued up as well. I own the Cascade Duffle Coat pattern, but since that will be a big project and I don’t have the materials for it yet, I’m not sure when I’ll start that. I like Jen’s patterns because they are simple, classic, very wearable and fit so well into what I want my capsule wardrobe to be (i.e. what I actually wear). As I continue to work on my handmade wardrobe, I can see myself sewing a lot of her patterns in the future.

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Pattern- Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas

Fabric- Skull Dot Metallic Black by Sarah Watts from the Cotton and Steel Spellbound Collection from Pacific Fabrics

I’m used to buying a maximum of 3 yards of fabric (to make a dress) and 5 yards were required for this pattern, so I was a tad nervous about buying this much fabric. This fabric felt so good in my hands at the store and I loved that the “polka dots” were made up of skulls and moons, so I went for it. This is not the first Cotton and Steel Fabric I have purchased, so I already knew I loved their designs. However, it was the first time I had actually sewn with it and worn it. Since its cotton and therefore doesn’t stretch like a flannel would, I made sure to do a tissue fitting to make sure there wasn’t going to be any major fit issues, which there weren’t. The finished pajamas are super soft and comfy to wear and are holding up well in the wash, so this fabric turned out to be a great choice.

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Alterations- 

  • Graded from a size 10 at the shoulders/arms to 12 at the waist for the top
  • Sewed a straight size 12 for the bottoms
  • No other alterations

Total time to make (including tracing the pattern, cutting the fabric, and sewing the top and bottom)- approx. 23 hours

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The Bottoms-

I was inspired to make these when I saw “pajamas” on the packing list for Camp Workroom Social. It was last-minute (of course), so I only had time to sew the bottoms before I left for camp and had to finish the top when I got back. I did wear the bottoms the whole time I was in New York and they are the best fitting, most comfortable pajama bottoms I have ever had.

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These are the first pants I have ever made and, at the time, it was the first Closet Case Files pattern I had sewn. I’ve since made the Ginger Jeans and blogged about them first, because they were technically finished first. It turned out to be good practice for making my Ginger Jeans, as parts of the way the fly and pockets are constructed are similar.

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The Top-

I always planned on making the top (or I wouldn’t have bought so much freakin’ fabric), but I figured I might not wear it much, as I’m used to just wearing a tank top to bed. I have to say I was a bit surprised with how much I love the top and how comfy it actually is to wear to bed. I think the short sleeve version was definitely the way to go for this pair. I would love to sew a plaid flannel version (sans piping) and could see doing a long sleeve top then.

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These pajamas turned out to be a great pattern and fabric combo. I’m super eager to put them on at night and try to stay in them as long as possible in the mornings. My jammies of the past have always been a little ratty, so I feel so put together now when I go to bed. It’s so exciting to make something I will wear a lot and feel great in!

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Last year, I wanted a better sense of balance in my life. I feel like I achieved that by making some big changes, such as getting a new job and being more choosy about what I do with my free time. I’ve been purposely trying to move towards quality over quantity, so this year “intention” feels like it should be the word of the year. From the ads I place for work to the garments I sew, I want everything to be well-thought out and intentional. I believe it will lead to a better end product and a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

GARDENING

With that said, I’m going to take it easy on the gardening goals this year. For the first time in years, we don’t have any plans to add anything or build anything major (even though a greenhouse would be next on my list). The garden itself I can do on autopilot these days without much variation and there’s comfort in just doing the same thing every year. I do have a couple of little things on the list though.

2016 Gardening Goals-
  • Get new chicks

Our current fab (original four) are now about 8 years old, which is getting up there for a chicken. For the last several years, their egg production has been decreasing, which is normal for chickens their age. There are many schools of thought on what to do with aging chickens, so much that I could dedicate a whole post to it. All I will say now is that I have done my research, explored all my options, thought it through and my decision is to keep my ladies and let them live out their lives as pets that no longer make food. That said, I still want eggs.

One of the many great things to come out of the chicken coop tour, was that I got advice on what we should do from several of the attendees. One lady in particular, convinced me that we could and should get fertilized eggs to sneak under one of our gals when they go broody in the Spring (which, since Buff Orpingtons are an especially broody breed, they do all the time). With the newly remodeled coop, I think we have room for a least a couple more chicks, so that’s the plan for this Spring. I still need to do some research on where to get said fertilized eggs. Anyone know?

  • Trim trees so there is less shade in the front yard

This isn’t the most exciting goal, but I have been noticing that every year my garden is less and less productive, due to the ever-increasing shade from several trees on our property. It’s so frustrating to work your butt off to have things not grow as well as they could (or at all), so this year I think we will have to finally trim several trees back. It won’t be fun, but it comes with the territory I suppose.

  • Plant more flowers

This has always been a goal, not just because they are pretty, but so we can attract more bees!

COOKING

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There are a couple of factors that have been deterring me from cooking more and sharing what I’m making with you. One reason is my new job and that I get home later in the evenings. The other reason is that my kitchen makes me want to scream when I try to photograph in it. Not only is there very little natural light, but it’s in bad need of an update (the surfaces are horrible). There is a kitchen remodel on the horizon, so I may just put some of my cooking posts on hold until I can make them prettier for you.

2016 Cooking Goals-

A couple of posts you may see-

  • Roasted Yellow Tomato Soup- I came up with this last year and it’s delicious!
  • Scalloped Quiche Shell Video Tutorial

CRAFTS

I have learned so much over the years, from experimenting, trial and error and from the 2015 Wardrobe Architect. I’m finally sewing things I will wear everyday and this is very exciting. I feel like the idea of having a capsule wardrobe is within reach, which makes me even more motivated to keep going.

2016 Crafting Goals-

Sewing Projects-

This is a pretty ambitious sewing list. If I accomplish it, it will be more than I have ever sewn in a year, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m just really excited about all of it and have fabric for most of it, so it all went on the list.

Knitting Projects-

Again, this is a super ambitious list, so I doubt I’ll finish it all. I think I’ll get through at least the first three things on the list and start the fourth.

As you can see, my biggest challenges this year are going to be my sewing goals. Outside of work, which is also an exciting challenge, it will be nice to be able to mostly focus on sewing. I’ll also be attending Camp Workroom Social again this year and have already signed up for bra-making! I’d also like to continue to blog, of course, and continue to get to know you guys. Do any of you have a word of the year? What are your plans for 2016?

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Even though this blog can feel like a chore at times (I admit it), I’m always glad I took the time to document the important stuff. I’m especially thankful at the end of a year and the beginning of a new one, because it feels good to look back at previous year’s goals and review.

In 2015, I didn’t totally stick to the list, which is fine, goals can morph and change, but I still feel like I accomplished a lot. Here’s how I did in 2015.

GARDENING

Posing in front of Matt’s hops trellis during the Urban Farm and Coop tour.

2015 Gardening Goals-

  • Grow my usual crops and preserve some of it– Check.
    • 5 1/2 pints of tomato basil jam (canned)
    • 6 1/2 pints of jalapeño jelly (canned)
    • 5 pints of dilly beans (canned)
    • 6 pints of spicy carrots (canned)
    • 3 1/2 pints of grape jelly (canned) and 1 pint of raisins (dried) with grapes from my co-worker’s garden.
    • 3 1/2 pints of pesto (froze)
    • 1 garlic braid
  • Build a Hops trellis– Okay, this was Matt’s goal, but he did it and it’s awesome!
  • Take the Master Preserver’s Class– Nope.
    It’s just such a huge expense. I’m not even sure how much I’ll really learn and I have so many other things I want to do, that I think it’s time to take this one off the list.

Things we did that weren’t on the list- 

COOKING

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2015 Cooking Goals-

  • Take classes at the Pantry– Nope. I’m still on their mailing list and peruse the classes, so if the right class comes along and I have time, this could still happen in 2016.
  • Get better at food photography– I tried, but I am still kind of lazy when it comes to this. It’s something I will continue to work on.

There weren’t really any significant achievements in the kitchen for me in 2015. Matt took on most of the cooking duties in the second half of 2015, due to my work schedule. That was fine by me, because he’s a great cook! He also got really into fermenting in 2015, which I am super excited about because I love kimchi.

CRAFTS

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2015 Crafting Goals-

  • Continue going to knitting night– I got a little distracted from this goal by my ukulele lessons, but towards the end of the year, I started missing it, so I have been making a point to go lately.
  • Knit another sweater or two– I am so close to being done with my Owl Sweater by Kate Davies. I have two rows of the owls left, then the neck shaping and the neckband to do and then I am done! I am actually super obsessed with this sweater right now. It’s kind of all I want to be doing. I also cast on the Hetty by Andi Satterlund and have started the back. I’ll get back to that as soon as I finish the owl sweater. With the lace pattern, I have a feeling that sweater will be a way quicker knit.
  • Whittle away at my fabric stash– I did alright with this. Most of the fabric I sewed with this year was from my stash with the exception of the denim I bought for my Ginger Jeans and the fabric for my Carolyn pajamas.
Completed Knitting Projects-
Completed Sewing Projects-
Completed but unblogged (posts coming soon)-
Other noteworthy events-

Camp Workroom Social happened and I got to spend a weekend in the Catskills, sewing and knitting with these lovely ladies. It was “ahh-mazing” and I have already signed up for next year’s camp.

OVERALL BLOG GOALS

  • Interviews– I kind of blew it on this one. I had some momentum going and then never followed through. I am at a point where I have to be realistic about what I can and cannot achieve, so this will probably be taking a back burner this year as well.
  • Videos– I finally posted a 2 part video tutorial on how to make a potholder with binding. Honestly, they were kind of bad, so I’m glad no one really saw them. It did get me to create a Youtube channel and was really good practice. I’m glad I just put them out there and I still believe I will only get better.

2015 was another year with some change (the big one being my new job), but it was good change, so I feel like I ended the year on a really positive note. Next up, my 2016 goals. Let the tradition continue! :)

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Every year, I post something holiday gift related. This year, I have another fun and easy handmade gift idea for you: quilted potholders! I have made quite a few of these for friends, family, craft sales and myself. I have a very well-loved (i.e. a little food stained) potholder in my kitchen that I use everyday, so these potholders are pretty and functional!

These potholders are quilted, have a pocket and loop and are finished with binding. Since the way I do the binding is best explained visually, I’ve included a couple of videos for this tutorial. Part 1 shows how I do the quilting and has tips for marking lines, using a walker foot and more. Part 2 shows how to do the binding and has tips for binding the pocket, attaching the loop, getting the nice mitered edges and pinning.

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Materials

  • 1/4 yard cotton fabric
  • Thread
  • 1/4 yard of Insul-Bright insulated batting
  • 1 1/2 yard of binding– I say 1 yard in the video but you need more like 1 1/2 yard, I was forgetting to calculate the extra for the pocket and the loop.
  • Walker-foot (optional)

Finished potholder dimensions are 8″x8″

Instructions

  1. Cut out 2 8″x8″ and 2 6 1/2″x8″ pieces from your fabric.
  2. Cut out 1 8″x8″ and 1 6 1/2″x8″ pieces from your Insul-Bright. If you are using a different brand of insulated batting you may need two layers.
  3. With right sides facing out, sandwich the insulated batting between your fabric. (see Potholder Tutorial Video Part 1)
  4. Quilt the fabric (see Potholder Tutorial Video Part 1)
  5. Bind the pocket (see Potholder Tutorial Video Part 2)
  6. Attach the loop (see Potholder Tutorial Video Part 2)
  7. Pin on the pocket and bind the potholder (see Potholder Tutorial Video Part 2)

These are my first video attempts and I would love to say that these were “quick little videos”, but that wouldn’t be true at all. This is all new to me, so there has definitely been a learning curve. Like I always say, if you wait for everything to be perfect, nothing will ever get done. So I am putting these out there, knowing that I will improve as I do it. You have to do something to get good at it! I already have so many ideas for the how I want to do things differently next time (like show my face). 😉

I hope you all enjoy these and can learn from them. If you make a potholder from this tutorial I would love to see it. In the meantime, have a Happy Holiday everyone!

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