Sickness, Health, and Birthday Sewing

I've spent the first part of this week sick in bed, and so have not been nearly as productive as I would have liked to be -- indeed need to be - this week.  Monday I head back to Tennessee for another semester of college, so before then I must finish my recital dress (all but the hand-sewing), tie up other loose ends and projects, and -- oh, dreaded word! -- pack.

I've a few things to show you, though, completed in the past few weeks; a shirt, a pair of jeans-turned-skirt, and my brother's birthday present.

Firstly the shirt.  It's a nice, basic, button-down shirt pattern, from McCalls.  Six buttons, a collar, cuffs - pretty normal.

The only unusual things about it are 1) that I didn't have to alter the bust darts AT ALL and 2) even though the pattern called for 2 1/2 yards of fabric, I squeaked it out of just under 2 yards.  I'll admit I was pretty proud of myself.

Bias-cut placket binding.  Buttons from my stash.
And, just for fun, this photograph:

Blurry, but, um, you get the idea.  I think I was reenacting the moment, a few seconds before this, when I had tripped over the cat.  But I really don't know!  (This is just to show that I am not always a quiet, proper young person!)

I don't have any great photos of the jeans skirt.  We had a pair second-hand that was too big for my sister, too small for me, and too short for both of us.  So I ripped a lot of seams, took it apart, and put it back together into a skirt.  The fabric is navy blue with white flowers on, so I used a white linen/rayon blend fabric (.6 yards of 60" fabric, bought for $1.99 as a remnant) and used that for the triangular inserts front and back.  Then I made a pleated ruffle, about 4" long, out of the rest of the linen and stitched it to the bottom of the skirt, both to add length and to make the white insets look like they belonged there.  I wore it yesterday but I think Kate will get to keep it.

Then - this probably should be its own post, but I'm impatient! - my brother's birthday vest.  This was finished several weeks ago, save for the buckle, but only today was I able to corner him and get photographs.  He put up quite a fight, but cooperated in the end.

Here he is - he could be a model if he could only stand to have his picture taken!

I used a McCalls pattern for the most part, but changed the collar significantly.  David is very artistic, and some of that comes out in his care about clothing, so when I told him I'd make him a vest, he went away and came back with a sketch of how he'd like it to look.  Which included a collar with, in his words "jaggy bits".

So I made a collar with jaggy bits.

I think I went through four or five permutations of this collar pattern before I got it to work, and then three more as I messed up one in sewing, and then made a second version of the same side of the collar when I tried to fix it.  But I made it work in the end!

The back looks very smart - when it's not wrinkled - with a brass buckle attached to the straps, to adjust the width.  The fabric is a heavy cotton - I'm not sure what it would be called, but it's significantly more sturdy than broadcloth.  The lining is the cheapest JoAnn sells, but it's a very nice cloth and feels better than the more expensive brands.  All the buttons were from the button box, and the top one doesn't match, but it's hidden by the collar anyway!

One last shot.  I envisioned this vest being worn in a more dressy setting - and in fact he wore it, with a white shirt and black suit and tie, to church on Sunday - but I didn't get photos then, and he makes it work very nicely in a more casual look as well.

(I've been reading Northanger Abbey, so every time I use the word "nice" now I imagine Henry Tilney lecturing me!  "Oh! it is a very nice word indeed! - it does for every thing.  Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement; - people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice.  But now every commendation on every subject is comprised in that one word."  And true this is... but I will continue to use it!)

Adieu for now, my friends; I hope my next post will not be so long in coming!



  1. Oh Gillian, the blouse and vest are just exquisite! I have a pair of slighty-large jeans that I never wear, so I may have to use your brilliant idea of converting them into a skirt! I LOVE that!

    Your brother looks really great, by the way. . .he really OUGHT to be a model! That last picture is particularly stunning.


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