Journal Entry

Flat Bias Faced Necklines

Flat Bias Facings | Grainline Studio

As summer enters it’s hot and humid phase I’ve noticed a lot of people searching the blog for our most popular tutorial, Getting Flat Bias Necklines. This tutorial works well for anything you’re using a bias facing on, not just necklines. So if you’re in a tank and tee frenzy like we are over here, this tutorial is a must see!

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Journal Entry

Making Stuff & The Great Closet Cleanout of 2015

Making Stuff & The Great Closet Cleanout of 2015 | Grainline Studio

As I mentioned in my previous post, I cleaned out a pretty hefty chunk of my wardrobe over the previous weekend. Living in a 500sq ft space with another person, I try to keep my possessions semi-pared down, but occasionally things start to build up, and usually, those things are clothes.

It can be overwhelming as a maker, and especially when a large part of your job is to sew garments nonstop, to deal with things piling up. I occasionally end up feeling guilty for making more when I don’t necessarily need it, even though I love making things (and it’s my job). Compounding the pileup is the fact that I wear my clothes until they die because I’m a creature of habit, and that the clothes I make tend to last a long time since they’re made well and I use pretty good quality fabric.

I asked on Instagram if you guys had a hard time letting handmade garments go and the responses ranged from “I’d never let them go,” to “Not at all, pass them along!” A lot of it has to do with our individual personalities of course, but the garments we’ve made generally do tend to hold a little more weight than something purchased. All the time you spent picking fabric, matching it to a pattern, maybe you made it in a class that was especially fun, those memories and the things you learned along the way all play into that garment making it especially hard to let go.

One solution I’ve come up with is making the sew along garments and most of the tutorial/variation garments in my sister’s size so those aren’t going into my closet. That doesn’t always work though, especially when I’m pattern testing and need to make a zillion of one thing that isn’t in our size.

All of this started when I decided I would map out my Fall / Winter sewing plan Saturday morning. I saw Sarah following along with the into-mind workbook and sketching in her Fashionary notebook and figured, I should get rid of the stuff I don’t wear before I start planning. By Sunday night I had packed up all of the clothing, shoes & bags I’ve collected over the years that I don’t wear to get rid of. It’s all going to be donated though, so sorry to all of you who wanted me to have a sale.

Phew, a bit of a detour but well worth the time invested. Now to get back to planning and sewing with the goal of making a well made wardrobe full of pieces I love. You can see what I’m considering for fall on my FW ’15 Wardrobe Inspiration board, but I’ll post about it when I’ve got things more narrowed down. Just collecting ideas at the moment!

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Sewn Garments

A New Denim Moss Etc.

A New Denim Moss (and raglan tee & watson bra) | Grainline Studio

Outfit Details
Skirt Pattern | Moss Skirt
Top Pattern | Penny Raglan (personal)
Bra Pattern | Watson
Shoes | Bryr Clogs

A New Denim Moss (and raglan tee & watson bra) | Grainline Studio

After our chat the other week on photographing and posting finished projects I’ve been super motivated (well relative to how motivated I was previously) to get some photos done. Saturday morning, before I started an impromptu massive closet clean out, Jon and I went to grab coffee and take some photos of my new Moss Skirt. I have to say Saturday morning in Wicker Park maybe isn’t the best time to get back into the swing of having your photo taken. People are swarming everywhere, but we got the job done just fine.

A New Denim Moss (and raglan tee & watson bra) | Grainline Studio

It’s been a while since I made myself a new Moss and I’ve been planning this one for about 2 years. I have a few that I wear pretty often so since I always had a backup to grab, this one kept getting pushed further and further out. I bought the fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics back in summer of 2013 – that’s how long I’ve been meaning to get this done – and finally last week decided it was now or never. I love the fabric so much so never wasn’t an option.

A New Denim Moss (and raglan tee & watson bra) | Grainline Studio

The Moss is such a quick sew that I can cut and sew one in a day and still have time to answer emails, work on admin tasks, and take a leisurely lunch – which is any lunch where I’m not typing between bites. Apparently I had forgotten this but it’s nice to have your memory jogged now and then. I’ve also realized lately that I need to get an iron and ironing board for home. I actually only have one at work, which didn’t bode well with the fact that I folded the skirt into my bag to bring it home. I guess I could have Photoshopped out the wrinkles but I abandoned that photo degree long ago so we’re just rolling with the wrinkles.

A New Denim Moss (and raglan tee & watson bra) | Grainline Studio

I also made this shirt, it’s one of those oversized raglan tees I’m always making. Since I’m now 4 deep I’ve named it to simplify the process of talking about it. It will henceforth be known as the Penny Raglan. BOOM! Anyway this little Penny is made from a silk/rayon blend from Mood purchased about a year ago. Unfortunately it has long since sold out. It’s been super muggy in Chicago lately so I figured a shirt that felt like a breezy cloud was the only way to go until – probably late September if we’re being honest. Ha!

A New Denim Moss (and raglan tee & watson bra) | Grainline Studio

The fabric on this tee is a bit sheer which doesn’t phase me, but I did take this as an opportunity to try out the longline Watson. I’d made a regular version a while back and I didn’t totally love it on me. It’s a combo of the proportion on my body and the fabric I used, so I don’t really wear it much despite it being pretty comfortable. This one though, this one struck it out of the park and I need more. It really deserves it’s own post though so we’ll just catch a creepy peek here and save the rest for later. Back to the shirt. I have 4 of these raglans now and I feel like I should mention this because it comes up a lot, it is not a variation of the Linden, it’s a completely separate pattern. Sorry guys!

A New Denim Moss (and raglan tee & watson bra) | Grainline Studio

I’m so so glad I got this Moss (and my humidity beating Penny) into my rotation. It’s going to be a great summer to fall skirt, though I think it might be a bit lightweight to transition to winter with tights. I’ve got a few more summer things I want to make/blog but I’m getting antsy to start my fall wardrobe planning and sewing. I really wasn’t made for the heat and humidity no matter how good my game face is. For the record it’s terrible. The Great Closet Cleanout of 2015 I briefly mentioned above all started Saturday morning when Jon got rid of an old chair we had in a corner and our apartment instantly looked so much better. This gave me a brief thought, “I should get rid of things I don’t wear before I decide what I need for the upcoming months.” Cut to me literally (this is 100% for real) packing up probably at least 50-60% of my clothes, shoes, bags, etc. Anyway, more on the clean out and planning wardrobes later. Time to go enjoy the last few hours of the weekend!

27 Comments Posted in Sewn Garments
Sew & Tell

Sew & Tell | Bella of Bellbird

Sew & Tell Belle of Bellbird | Grainline Studio

Sew & Tell Belle of Bellbird | Grainline Studio

Even though it’s mid-summer, it’s not too late to sew up an Alder. I just finished one a couple weeks ago before a trip to California and wore it a lot. It’s an easy, breezy, unfussy summer dress. Here at Grainline Studio, we have wide eyes for this amazing fabric Bella chose for one of her Alders. It’s so good and the fit on Bella is a big thumbs up!

Name   Bella

Where can we find you online?   Bellbird

Link to your post about this project   Alder Dress in Zig Zag Dot

Which pattern did you use?   Alder

What type of fabric or other materials did you use?

I used a printed cotton, along with some self-covered buttons.

Sew & Tell Belle of Bellbird | Grainline Studio

Tell us about your project!

I picked up this rather crazy fabric a couple of years ago while on holiday in San Francisco. At the time I had no real plans for what I would make with it, but I couldn’t exactly not buy it – it was covered in big purple spots!

When the Alder pattern was released, I knew that my fabric had found its match. This cotton has quite a sturdy hand, and I really like the crisp way it holds the gathers of the skirt as well as the collar and button band details. I also like the way that the different components of the dress break up the print a little bit.

My favorite thing about the Alder pattern is its versatility. Great on hot summer days, and equally perfect on cooler days with tights and a sweater. Writing this is reminding me that I could use a couple more in my closet!

7 Comments Posted in Sew & Tell
Tips & Tricks

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

It’s taken me a long time to get my PDF pattern organization and storage to a place where I feel it really works for me. For a while I kept them in a folder on my computer, but when I got a new computer they moved to an external drive…which I never seemed to have with me when I wanted to print a pattern. I would then scramble back through my emails looking for the download link, which wasn’t the worst, but it was definitely a bit of a pain. After a lot of trial and error with different storage solutions and programs this is what I’ve arrived at that works really well for me so I thought I’d share, as well as ask you how you store your patterns!

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

Let’s start with the actual pattern pieces themselves. When working with a digital pattern that isn’t one of my own, I usually just do the print at home option because I’ve most likely decided on the spur of the moment that I need to sew this particular thing right now. Usually a few hours before I’d like to wear or use said thing.

After cutting and taping, I’ll use that pattern to sew the first garment. If I feel like I’m only going to make one of these or if there are changes I need to make, I’ll just punch a hole in the top of the pattern and hang it on a hook as is. If it’s a pattern I know I’m going to make a lot of and I’ve done any fit corrections I might need I’ll trace all the pieces out onto oaktag so that I have a good, sturdy hard copy to use over and over like I’ve done for my trusty Linden pattern above. I also like to trace these patterns out so nothing is “cut on the fold” and any pattern piece I might need 2 of I actually trace two of, like sleeves. I prefer cutting flat (which you can read more about here) because you get a much better fabric yield that way.

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

I keep all my patterns on a rolling rack and the patterns are divided by what type of pattern it is. Grainline Studio patterns each have their own section, then I have my personal pattern section which includes patterns I’ve drafted for myself, Grainline Studio patterns that I’ve customized to fit me (I’m not the fit model so I need to go between sizes), as well as patterns I’ve purchased. We actually have two rolling racks completely full of patterns here!

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

As far as how I store the digital files, after much trial and error, I now keep them all in Dropbox, which is a great solution because the files can be accessed on many different computers and devices. The files are organized into categories by the type of project the pattern falls under – garment sewing, knitting, or quilting. I print the patterns via my computer since that’s where my printer is attached, but I’ve started not printing out the booklets. Instead I open them in a note taking program called UPAD3 that also handles PDFs. The program works with Dropbox so it’s easy to import the booklets from Dropbox to UPAD. The advantage to opening the booklets in UPAD rather than just reading them in Dropbox is that you can mark up the booklets in UPAD.

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

Exporting from Dropbox is super easy, you just press the ‘share icon’ in the top right of the screen and select ‘Open in…’ which brings up the screen in the second photo. From there you’ll select ‘Open in UPAD’ or whatever program you’re using.

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

Between my brother-in-law (a physicist & app enthusiast) and I we’ve tried a lot of note-taking programs that also read PDFs and this has been both of our overall favorite. It offers good organization and a lot of functions – you can import photos, calendars, add links, etc. It does cost $5.99 but I get so much use of it that wasn’t a big deal for me. I’ve been using it for years and when I originally got the first edition there was a free trial version, which I quickly updated from. You can see I organize my files the same way I do in Dropbox. The garment patterns are organized by pattern company which I find is the easiest way to keep those straight.

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

I organize my knitting patterns slightly differently, by project type rather than designer since I typically have less patterns by a single designer. I do have a lot of Brooklyn Tweed though I usually think about patterns in terms of designer, not company. I just find this method works best for my brain, especially since knitwear designers often design for more than one company and under their own name.

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

You can easily change the names of your files so that they fit with your organizational system. I use just the pattern name rather than the entire file name since it’s easier for me to find what I’m looking for at a glance and I can standardize that way. I then enter any additional information I might need or want in the future into the text box below the title.

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

This is just an example of what a pattern looks like inside UPAD. I always like to highlight the size I’m using, which I find especially useful on knitting patterns. I’m a big highlighter fan in real life and obviously that translates to digital for me.

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

Taking notes is also super easy, I find that the pen option really writes like an actual pen would. One of the reasons I hated a lot of programs was that the weird robotic handwriting that would result from me writing was kind of offputting. You can use either your finger or a stylus, which I prefer. One of the reasons I’m really into using the iPad to keep track of these booklets is that when I print out the instructions, no matter how hard I try to keep them in order, I always lose a page, or the entire packet, then have to print out a new one which means any notes I’ve taken are lost. With digital they’re always there and you can back up your edited files to Dropbox. I’m also a huge fan of backing up files, to multiple locations!

Organizing PDF Patterns & Instructions | Grainline Studio

Lucinda by Madder | The Kittens by Elizabeth Hartman

This is what two projects I’m currently working on look like in UPAD. You can’t actually alter the original PDF you’ve imported so you don’t need to worry that you’ll somehow delete or erase any part of that, which is nice, but anything you write you can always erase.

So, how do you store your PDF patterns? Print at Home or Copy Shop? Do you print out the instructions or use a computer or app to read them? There are so many different ways to use them, I’m interested to see what methods you’ve all come up with!

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Knitted Garments

Whitewash Cabled Socks

Whitewash Socks | Grainline Studio

ravelry link
pattern | bff by cookie a
yarn | madelinetosh tosh merino light in whitewash
needles | us 1 double pointed needles
modifications | none
plant | monstera deliciosa

Whitewash Socks | Grainline Studio

These socks and I have been through a lot together. I cast on during a flight to NYC with Jon back in February to see him play. I didn’t get too much done because it was such a fun, whirlwind trip between his show and catching up with some of my super close friends from undergrad. That trip was hands down my best NYC trip in a long time even though we got slushed on and frozen to the bone and were completely exhausted and delirious by the end of it.

Whitewash Socks | Grainline Studio

I continued knitting these socks in a hospital waiting room with my dad for while my mom was in surgery for 6 hours having two vertebrae fused. It was one of the most stressful points in my life; she was fine one week, and the next she couldn’t move and was scheduled for surgery. If you look closely you can see the part I knit that day waiting. I couldn’t keep track of where the cables were crossed due to stress so some are 5 rows long, some the normal 6, and some are 7. The surgery went perfectly and she’s been recovering really well.

Whitewash Socks | Grainline Studio

Sometime after that surgery the Blackhawks went through a bit of a slump, so one night while Jon and I were watching the game I decided to work on these socks rather than my usual hockey knitting project, my Stone Lake Sweater. The Blackhawks won that game and from then on out Jon decided that they were lucky and I needed to knit on them for every game. Once I finished the first sock it was decided that I needed to wear the finished sock during games, since it had already been deemed lucky and the second sock was untested. I obliged – hockey fans can be very superstitious and Jon’s been one for a very long time (think kindergarden). You can see that the sock on top in the above photo is a little more stretched out than the other sock. I finished the second sock as the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, on my birthday, so really it was all meant to be (wink)!

Whitewash Socks | Grainline Studio

So that’s the story of knitting the socks, lets talk about the pattern now. It’s the BFF by Cookie A and I found it to be a great pattern to work with. It’s well written, easy to follow, and resulted in an awesome sock. Knitting cables on US 1 needles was a little painful on the hands at times, especially with all the stress knitting that went into these suckers, but it was well worth it. I would heartily recommend this pattern to anyone looking for a great sock that’s a step up from basic but still showcases a great yarn colorway.

Whitewash Socks | Grainline Studio

The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, which I bought for the amazing colorway – White Wash. I couldn’t fine this colorway in their sock yarn which is how I ended up using this for socks. The Tosh Merino Light isn’t as well suited for socks as their sock yarn (imagine that, haha) but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t deal with. Occasionally I’d split a stitch when I was really busy yelling at the Blackhawks but other than that it knit up just fine. I can’t say enough how beautiful this colorway is, it’s even more beautiful in person. I wish I had a million skeins to knit a sweater with this! I though it was interesting that the first sock turned out so much lighter than the second sock, but I guess this is the nature of the dying beast. I don’t mind it at all and actually find it really interesting and beautiful, but I’d thought I’d mention for those of you who are more into matching than I am. I think the subtle colorway was a perfect match for the small cables, I think it really highlights the beautiful simplicity of the pattern.

Whitewash Socks | Grainline Studio

I also forgot to mention that this was my first time doing this type of heel, I usually pick patterns that have a short row heel, so I was a bit confused when I got to that point of the pattern. If you’e one of the people on Instagram that assured me to just follow the directions and things would work out, thank you!

These are definitely my favorite socks to date that I’ve made, and they’re going to get a lot of use during the fall & winter. I really couldn’t be happier with the outcome, both of all the things I knit them during and the outcome of the socks themselves! I’m now on the lookout for my next sock pattern…so many good ones. Any recommendations of ones you’ve knit recently?

30 Comments Posted in Knitted Garments
Journal Entry

Blog Goals: Posting Finished Projects

Unblogged Things I've Made | Grainline Studio

A Selection of Unblogged Things I’ve Made Pulled From my Instagram Account

I had a realization the other day, I’ve only done 3 finished project posts this year, and they’ve all been knitting. I’ve never been one to post every single thing I’ve made, but I used to do one or two a month and I’ve realized two things over the past 6 months of almost no finished garment posts. One, that I miss posting them if even just as a record of what I’ve made with details on that particular project and two, the longer you don’t post the harder it is to start back up.

I think there are a few reasons why I haven’t posted as much, the first being Instagram, where all the above photos are pulled from (@grainlinestudio). Sometimes I think if I’ve posted either a progress sewing or a mirror shot to Instagram than it’s not worth double posting back to the blog. Now that I’m typing this out I don’t actually think this is the most sound logic, especially on those in progress shots. The other reason is that as this microscopic business has grown into a small business I’ve become much busier and posting finished garments can seem a bit self-indulgent. Shouldn’t I be tending to my quickbooks or working on invoicing? Those patterns aren’t going to finish themselves & quarterly taxes are due soon!

Kendra and I recently had a good conversation about how it’s important to sew for fun when we can (and sometimes to even post about it!) because that’s basically what this business is all about! I don’t want to lose the heart of what I’m doing because I’m stuck behind the computer doing one thing or another. The week before we left on vacation we both just took the week to come in to work and sew whatever we wanted, on the clock. It was such a refreshing experience to just make a small list of things to make or finish and, with the exception of emails, sit down and do it.

So where am I going with all this? I’m setting myself a new blog goal to sew for fun and sometimes post about it! Gillan just sent me the best tweet right now while I’m typing out this post, “Play dress up with Kendra and photograph each other on the way to get ice cream!” That girl always knows what’s up, guess that’s why she’s always dishing out the sewing dares.

Have guys have any recent blog goals or struggled with posting your finished garments even when you want to? Fill me in!!

39 Comments Posted in Journal Entry
Sew & Tell

Sew & Tell | Katie of What Katie Sews

Sew & Tell Katie of What Katie Sews| Grainline Studio

Sew & Tell Katie of What Katie Sews | Grainline Studio

We love what Katie did with the Morris pattern. She changed it up to make an awesome staple piece for her wardrobe, that can be worn fall, winter, and spring. We love pieces like that! We were excited to read more about what Katie did, because we could really used a blazer like this and we bet you could too!

Name   Katie Marcus

Where can we find you online?   What Katie Sews

Link to your post about this project   Boyfriend Morris

Which pattern did you use?   Morris Blazer

What type of fabric or other materials did you use?

I’m not completely sure what the fabric is. It’s knitted, approximately ponte weight, and has black and white yarns to give a heathered grey effect. I bought it from Cloth House in Soho, London.

Sew & Tell Katie of What Katie Sews | Grainline Studio

Tell us about your project!

I was really excited when the Morris was released and bought the PDF pretty quickly. I decided I wanted more of a slouchy boyfriend silhouette so added 2 inches to the length of both the body and the sleeves using the lengthen/shorten lines. Besides that, I cut a 6 across the shoulders grading to a 10 at the hem.

Sewing it up was quick and fun. I used a mix of serger and straight stitch on my normal machine. While the blazer is unlined, the instructions cover how to get a nice clean finish inside. To break up the longer expanse of front given by the extra length, I added some mini welt pockets right at the end.

This jacket seems to throw on over everything and suit most weathers. I love how it turned out! In the future I’d like to sew the pattern exactly as it’s designed and in a stretch woven rather than knit for a more formal spin on the pattern.


5 Comments Posted in Sew & Tell

Pattern Inspiration on Pinterest

Pattern Inspiration on Pinterest | Grainline Studio

Lately I’ve been wanting to make some new versions of some of the patterns I haven’t had time to work with much. It’s always so fun to me to reinvent a pattern whether it’s with an unexpected fabric or by making small adjustments to add new details. I’ve started an inspiration board for each of the Grainline Studio patterns on Pinterest to keep track of some fun potential variations I’ve seen around and thought I’d share in case anyone else likes doing this as much as I do!

Leave a comment Posted in Inspiration