collins top pattern review - in the folds

In the past few years, I've realized that I like to wear more neutral easy fitting clothes but I tend to buy crazy fun fabric prints and dressy patterns. Thankfully the online indie sewing community has begun to gravitate away from vintage and more towards practical sewing. When I started (maybe seven years ago?) it was all Colette and Gertie and but a girl doesn't need very many cotton party dresses and I ended up with a closet full of clothes suited for a life I don't actually lead.

I do love a good interesting pattern, especially one that is different from anything ready-to-wear. An interesting basic may be a bit of a contradiction but in my quest to make some sleeveless summer shirts I came across the Collins Top by In the Folds and I was smitten. It's both simple and has interesting construction details. It makes me think of Jil Sander.

 No bust darts either! I don't know why I hate the look of bust darts so much.

No bust darts either! I don't know why I hate the look of bust darts so much.

I bought the PDF and decided to use a raw linen that has been in my stash forever. Linen combined with this swingy loose pattern seemed the perfect combination for dealing with the hottest of summer days, and I'm really happy with how it looks. I feel like some cool minimalist Scandanavian.

collins top back

As far as the pattern goes, I have to say this was the most detailed pattern I have ever bought.

Things I really liked about it:

1) You can print your size without any other sizes. If you open it with Adobe Reader you can turn off all of the different 'layers' for others sizes and print the one you want. If you're between sizes you can print two or three of them - just select the layers you want to appear.

2) You can print the view you want. The different pieces for View A and View B are laid out on the PDF so you don't print the pieces you won't be using.

3) Seam lines appear on the pattern.

4) Instructions for View A and View B are separated out so you can just follow one of them without thinking twice about if the steps are relevant for your view.

I can imagine that the first three things I've mentioned are a ton of work for pattern designers and I wouldn't expect them all to take the time to do it, but I never realized how much time I spend trying to figure out at which point I am in the construction of a particular view. Since it's a PDF and there is no need to save paper, duplicating instructions in different places doesn't make much difference to the designer, but it makes it easier for the sewist. I hope to see this again in other patterns I buy.

Things that confused me

1) The seam lines vary all over the place - 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4 inch. I understand having a smaller seam line on the collar but the difference between 5/8 and 3/4 is minimal and it would have been easier to just have a standard seam allowance everywhere except for the collar. It did get me to pay very close attention to the pattern though. So maybe that is a win.

2) There are notches where the seam allowance is (for instance, at the 5/8 mark where they meet up). Maybe to remind you how wide it is? I cut notches without paying attention and then there was very little room to back stitch. I eventually quit cutting notches because I don't find them helpful unless I'm sewing together curved pieces that are hard to match up, i.e. a princess seam, and all of these pieces match up perfectly.

Anyhow, these are small things. I highly recommend this pattern. It should be an easy fit on almost everyone.

I didn't make any significant changes to the pattern. I used a thread loop instead of a fabric loop for the closure, and I hemmed the bottom instead of using bias tape. I did staystitch in more places than were called for. All of the pieces have diagonal or curved edges and I was super worried about the bias stretching out. So if you are a relative beginner, I hope you understand the importance of being careful with bias cut pieces. If not, this is your heads up.

Here are a few more pictures of the finished project. Enjoy my awkward posing, a few interior shots, and a cat.

collins top side view
collins top front view
 I thought about ironing for pictures, but it's linen - this is what it looks like.

I thought about ironing for pictures, but it's linen - this is what it looks like.

in the folds collins top interior front
in the folds collins top side view linen
in the folds collins top full back view
in the folds collins top back interior
collins top with cat

homemade fast fashion a.k.a. when your clothes still end up in a landfill

how I ended up with the equivalent of homemade Forever 21 / burdastyle 6990 pattern review

After spending around a total of 20 hours working on my new favorite Archer shirt from Grainline Studio (it doesn't take most people that long to make it - I had a feud with the button band), I wanted a quick, make-myself-feel-good-about-sewing project. So what is quick and easy and doesn't required any fitting? Knits. They are stretchy and comfy and easy to adjust.

I had a long knit t-shirt pattern from BurdaStyle in my stash and I decided to use some cheap fabric that I bought a few weeks ago. It was the end of a bolt of dark green jersey from a discount fabric store and dirt cheap, only $2/yard. The fabric was thin and I have no idea what the fiber content is, but I liked the color and figured it was worth a shot.

burdastyle 6990

It was not worth a shot unless the expression means it was worth shooting at.

 This pattern is in the kindling pile now.

This pattern is in the kindling pile now.

The fabric is super thin and even though it is dark green you can see through it in bright light. It will probably start pilling after the second or third wash. Not to mention, the BurdaStyle 6990 pattern is absolutely terrible. Let me count the ways

  • Who are these sleeves for? Stretch Armstrong?
  • The stitching from attaching the cowl pops up and shows through, which I could try to fix by sewing it down, but that's a weird thing to do in a knit, and I'm not going to bother with fabric so terrible I will never wear it.
  • I picked the size according to my measurements and it is obviously huge. Sizing knits is not difficult!

This is my second bad experience with a BurdaStyle knit pattern. I made a knit dress from one of their patterns and ran into a similar problem - the facing kept popping up and showing all of the time. I tried to stitch it down but it never looked quite right. That dress went to Goodwill in hopes that they get money for scrap fabric but it is probably in a landfill. So I'm going to avoid their knit patterns in the future.

The whole point of sewing (for me) is to get quality clothing that fits well and this is neither quality nor does it fit. I've made my very own Forever 21 landfill worthy crap.

lessons I've learned to avoid this in the future

1) If I want a quick project I should make napkins or something useful and avoid clothing that I'm not that excited about

Fast might be fun to make, but unless it's a remake of something simple that I like (i.e. a tried and true t-shirt pattern) I'm setting myself up to own something I don't care that much about. I spent about $40 on materials for my Archer shirt and 20 hours sewing it. It is now my favorite shirt and I wear it every week. I plan on making several more. Sure, there are easier projects, but I should think about each piece as an investment of time and resources. And not just my time - but the time of the people who made the fabric I'm using.

2) Buying cheap fabric or using fabric that I don't love is already setting the project up for failure

I'm sure this will not be the last time I have a project that will end up as a 'wadder' as they say. But many of my problems began when I bought sketchy discount fabric of unknown origin. If I'm going to the trouble of making my own clothes I should buy quality fabric that I am excited about. Not to mention, sketchy discount fabric is almost undoubtedly made by slaves in a way that is bad for the environment. How else could it be $2/yard?

While it can be really hard to find interesting fabric that is fair trade, I've recently come across Offset Warehouse and I plan on buying a bunch of yardage from them in the future. I wish we had an equivalent stateside. I've found a few ethical retailers in my own country but none with patterns/prints that I love.

I've now gotten rid of all of the fabric that I'm not excited about. One of my friends sews costumes for our local YMCA children's productions and they have the world's tiniest budget so she was really happy to get the donation.

3) Using a pattern I'm not super excited about is setting up the project for failure

I started sewing about five years ago. At the time I lived in Boston, went to lots of fancy parties, loved vintage and was super broke. My pattern and fabric stash has reflected that - lots of cheap, vintage inspired cotton and vintage inspired big-four patterns from sales at Joann's and Colette patterns.

My style and my life have changed. I've been to one fancy party in the last year. I'm much more likely to spend my weekends hiking and gardening and my wardrobe needs to reflect that. I did use up some of that vintage style fabric and a McCall's pattern to make my Easter dress. It is well sewn, but I don't love it and I'll probably give it away. However, I don't feel so bad about it since it is made to last a long time and I'm sure I can find it a home where it will be loved.

Right now I'm drawn to Grainline Studio and Closet Case Patterns for their modern aesthetics and wearability. And I'm not broke so there is no reason to use that $2 sale pattern I've been ignoring for 5 years because it doesn't excite me anymore. That's false economy.

I'll be blogging up my new makes - stay tuned!

dandelion frittata with sweet potato and goat cheese

It's dandelion season! So while we wait for the arugula that we planted to grow large enough for us to pick, I decided to try cooking dandelion greens for the first time as they are plentiful and nutritious.

dandelion greens

Are they tasty? Imagine the most bitter collard greens you have ever had - they are more bitter than that. Jonathan loved them - I thought mixed in moderation with other ingredients they were fine. As I am not a desperate malnourished Puritan I will probably not be eating them again for awhile. However, in this recipe, the sweetness of the sweet potato and the sourness of goat cheese balanced out the bitterness really well. It's a fun and novel way to get rid of some of the dandelions in your yard, so I'd say it's worth trying at least once.

Note on picking dandelion greens - find the youngest ones you can because they will be less bitter. Don't harvest them anywhere that dogs (or humans) pee frequently.

 I recommend having a glass of rosé because it's Spring!

I recommend having a glass of rosé because it's Spring!

 Wash thoroughly - therein lies dirt and bugs!

Wash thoroughly - therein lies dirt and bugs!

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • approximately half a colander full of dandelion green leaves

Wash the dandelions very, very thoroughly and then pat dry with a towel.

Whisk eggs in a bowl with the salt and thyme so they are ready to pour in the pan at a moment's notice.

Heat a cast iron pan to a medium-high heat. Sauté the sweet potatoes in a generous amount of oil for 10-15 minutes until completely cooked through. Remove from the pan.

Add the dandelion greens to the pan and sauté until wilted, about two minutes. Throw in the garlic and cook for another minute. Turn down the heat to medium and add the sweet potatoes back in. Add more oil to the pan if needed. Distribute the vegetables evenly across the pan - this is important as chunks of dandelion green will be very bitter.

Evenly pour the eggs into the pan. Drop chunks of goat cheese into the eggy mixture. After 3-4 minutes the bottom should begin to look like it's cooked. At this point turn your oven broiler onto low, and finish cooking the frittata in the oven for around 5 minutes so that the goat cheese gets nice and melty on top.

Enjoy the Spring bounty, preferably with a crusty loaf of bread and a glass of chilled wine!

dandelion frittata

grilled lamb with lemon and spring herbs

Nothing says Spring like lamb! When I was a kid we would have lamb once a year when my mom roasted a leg for Easter. Although I'm from a family of a bazillion kids, fortunately, several of my siblings didn't like lamb so there were always leftovers. Unlike chocolate chip cookies, it wasn't a race to wolf everything down before other people ate more. The week after Easter was a series of lamb sandwiches, which are delicious if you have never tried them. I suggest adding mango chutney.

Our meat share has been giving us a decent amount of lamb lately which makes me so so happy. And it has been warm enough to grill which also makes me so so happy. And even happier news - we have things in our garden!

 Huzzah for peaches!

Huzzah for peaches!

 Walking onions!

Walking onions!

It's still a month till we can safely plant summer veggies, but the kale, sprouts, and perennial herbs are in the garden. The walking onion I planted in the fall has shown up. The fruit trees we planted are beginning to blossom. It's a very exciting time of year.

So now that we have mint and rosemary in pots, I am going to begin taking full advantage of having fresh herbs around.

herbs, lemon, garlic
spring marinade

Which brings me to the recipe - this is a pretty simple, straightforward weeknight marinade for lamb with fresh, spring-y flavors. It would work well with beef too.

It's about five minutes of chopping and then you let the meat soak up the flavors for a bit. Another 6 minutes of cooking and you have dinner! You still have to make some decisions about sides though. I made some oven sweet potatoes with rosemary and I definitely recommend the pair.

Ingredients

Serves 2-4 depending on how much meat everyone wants

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice and zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 lamb chops

Mix the olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl large enough to hold the lamb.

overhead_marinading_lamb.JPG

Chop herbs, mince garlic, zest lemon and add in. Throw in the lamb chops and make sure they all get coated on each side. Let them sit for an hour.

Turn on your grill to a high heat, or heat a pan on your stove to a medium-high heat and cook each side for 3 minutes.

Our chops caught on fire in our grill but they ended up getting cooked perfectly, so if that happens don't despair.

Enjoy grilling season and all that comes along with it!

 Lamb chops all charred and perfect.

Lamb chops all charred and perfect.