Gail's Nest · Pattern Review · Sewing Project

Orageuse Bruges Trousers Pattern Review


This is one of my latest projects – the Bruges Trousers by the French pattern company, Orageuse. I wanted a comfortable yet stylish pair of pants for work and so I chose this pattern. It has a front fly, which I hadn’t ever done on pants before, but I was ready for the challenge!

I chose a light brown corduroy that cost me next to nothing. I love shopping at our local thrift sewing store called Sew Green, a not-for-profit that takes unused and leftover fabric and other sewing notions and resells them. I got the corduroy as well as the peach corduroy that I used for the stripe on a day Sew Green had their bag sale (fit as much fabric as you can in your bag for $15!).

The pattern turned out to be more difficult than I bargained for, but I persevered and was very happy with the results. Here’s the lowdown on my experience:

The pattern has been translated into English. Between teeny tiny print that strained my 57 year old eyes, even with reading glasses, and strange terms, lost in translation, I almost gave up! This is what American sewists need to know before attempting this challenge: seam allowances are 1 cm! The instructions do say this, but somehow I missed this little note and ended up with pants that were too small so I had to pick them apart and start again! The other little thing that kept tripping me up was the use of the term “right sides facing”. I am used to American patterns which say “right sides together”. I kept asking myself, “Right sides facing? Facing what? Up? Down? Both the same way? Huh?” And what does this mean: “If your muslin is too thigh around your butt will have to add more ease.” Huh? My thighs aren’t around my butt! Okay – it’s a typo, but it’s a pretty hilarious typo.Jpeg

I found the pocket design unique but not impossible. The front fly was tricky, but the directions were pretty clear on that one. You definitely need to print the directions in color.

I consider myself an intermediate sewist. I would not recommend this pattern for beginners, nor advanced beginners. This was, in my opinion, not for the faint of heart. But I am so happy with the finished product! I really do love them!

The blouse I am wearing with my pants (ok – for all you Europeans – “trousers”), is the Simplicity K8169.SimplicityK8169



Gail's Nest · Pattern Review · Refashion · Sewing Project

Refashioners Challenge 2018 – Inspired By

This year’s Refashioners Challenge put out there by sewist and blogger, Portia Lawrie of the UK, is to take a popular designer or fashion icon out there and mimic his/her masterpiece with an old, tired, thrifted piece.

Sooooooooooo…here’s what I did:

Really this project came at the right time because I’ve been planning on making a winter coat for myself for 10 months now. I have quite the pinterest board on coats and patterns. I knew I wanted a 1960s style coat. Jackie Kennedy’s style has appealed to me for awhile and her famous/ infamous Oleg Cassini leopard coat was probably the most amazing thing she ever wore:


I say “famous” because when she wore it she stunned everyone everywhere. I say “infamous” because it was so crazy popular that everyone wanted one and the leopard population nearly became extinct. Oleg Cassini was quoted as saying he regretted making it. I think he underestimated how much of a fashion icon Jackie Kennedy was.


When I walked into my local “Sally Ann’s Boutique” (aka Salvation Army) I saw this fleece bathrobe. BINGO!!


Yeah. Hmm. I know. My husband just laughed at me when I put it on. This was a definite rescue operation.

So my first step was to “unpick” it apart. (BTW – why do sewist say “unpick”? I don’t get it. Aren’t we “picking” it? We’re picking apart the seams, right? Un-pick would mean to undo picking which would mean to put it together. Where do we get “unpick”? Anyway… that’s what I was thinking about while I did this tedious task.


I decided on The Ellsworth Coat pattern by Christine Haynes.


It required a lining fabric and while fleece is warm I knew I wanted a REALLY warm coat to get through the weeks of below zero (fahrenheit) Ithaca, NY weather. I pulled out a thick black soft fleece from my stash (really it was from a failed attempt to make a coat back in March).


Look at that pile of pattern pieces! I was going to make a few adjustments on the pattern because the fabric from the robe wasn’t going to be quite enough.

I decided on using the lining fabric for the yoke and collar. Also, I chose to eliminate the pockets on the front. Jackie’s coat had side pockets and I would rather have them too so I planned to insert the pockets from the robe right into my coat.


Here’s the coat in process:


Jackie’s coat had 3/4 sleeves so I saved precious leopard print by adding my lining fabric at the bottom, giving the sleeves a 3/4 look but giving me the full length I wanted.

Now it was going to need awesome buttons so I searched my stash, Joann’s, and ebay and settled on these black paisleys.Jackiecoat3-1

So here’s the finished project:

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No leopards harmed in the making!!




Gail's Nest · Pattern Review

Sewing as Therapy

I heard an amazing podcast on Love to Sew. It was Episode 25 with Caz Adams from Useful Box. She’s an Aussie sewist who nearly lost her life after the birth of her son. As she recovered from the trauma, sewing became a way to return to equilibrium.

I was totally relating. Sewing is therapy for me too. I love to sew. I’ve been sewing since I was in junior high. Once I became a mom my sewing was reduced to curtains, costumes, and Easter dresses. But now that my kids are adults I am finding solace and healing from life’s stressors in sewing.

This is what sewing does for me:

  • It tickles my right brain’s desire for creativity.
  • It releases endorphins that trigger such a sense of calm, satisfaction, and peace.
  • It provides an outlet of escape from tension and stress.
  • It makes me so happy and proud of my accomplishments.

Two recent therapy sessions produced these fun projects:

The first is a cat house from a free pattern from See Kate Sew. I used fabric from my scrap bin and just had to buy the 1/2 inch foam. I thought it would be complicated but I found the directions to be straight forward, clear, and correct. It came together pretty easily. I gave it to my daughter, Rachael, and her hubby, Tom, for their cat, Inara.


I think she likes it! SCORE!! (Yes the endorphins are flowing right now!!)

My second therapy project was a tote. I found this pattern at The Inspired Wren.


I found the directions a little complicated (certainly not for a beginner), but the pictures were helpful. I bought heavy cotton (from the remnant section at Joann’s) and used lining from my stash. The suggestion for the bottom panels was to use duck cloth but I used black vinyl that I had leftover from another project. I was so happy with the result. Here are pics from the process:


Ahhhhh. I feel sooooo good. Try it. It’s what the doctor ordered.






Gail's Nest · Pattern Review · Refashion

Refashioner’s Challenge 2017 #Suits You My Second Entry – A Jumper!

Presenting… my second entry:


If you read my previous post you know I’ve entered the Refashioner’s Challenge 2017. This is the third year I’ve participated. Each year Portia Lowrie of the UK challenges the global refashioning community to make something out of a used garment. The first year I participated the challenge was to make something out of a men’s shirt. I made a mini-jacket.  The second year the challenge was to make something out of jeans. I did a patchwork jacket.

So I guess I like jackets because I submitted my remake of a man’s suit:


You can read about the process here. 

Anyway… all that as way of introduction to my second entry of this year’s contest. And this one IS NOT a jacket!

So here is how I got to this place…

First it started with a trip to the thrift store. I went to the Goodwill in Ashland, OH where I found four suits for $12! I chose 2 suits out of the 4 I bought for my jumper:


My inspiration for the project came from a bit of history. French designer, Yves St. Laurent, back in the 60s designed a dress called the Modarian. His inspiration was from a painting by Piet Modarian:


Next, I chose a pattern:


My next step was to dye the suits. I used a dark blue that more or less matched the color of the wool suit but gave the yellow one a bluish hue. Then came the big step of deconstructing:

It was tricky to lay out the pattern. I wanted to keep a chest pocket in the skirt. At times I had to fold the pattern piece in half and plan to put in an extra seam so I could cut out everything I needed:

I picked out a cotton lining fabric that would contrast nicely with the blue. It was a cherry red with polka dots. I decided to also use it to accent with my color blocking:


I ended up using it to line the whole dress because the back of a deconstructed suit is really a sight to behold. It’s full of seams, interfacings, pockets, etc. In addition, the wool would be scratchy otherwise, so it made sense to just line the whole thing:


I found these amazing buttons at an antique store in Hammondsport, NY.  They are made from black glass and I thought they would look nice on my Modarian dress:


In the end, the overall look was fun. This was an easy pattern for intermediate sewers. Here are more finished pics:




Gail's Nest · Pattern Review · Refashion

“Suits You” Refashioner’s Challenge 2017

For the third year now, I’ve participated in the Refashioner’s Challenge put on by Portia Lowrie of the UK. This year she declared the challenge to be men’s suits. So the goal is to make a refashion out of an old suit. All last month she posted featured bloggers who used their creative geniuses to give the rest of us some inspiration. My favorites included this women’s jacket made from a suit and the cami made from its lining.   Another awesome make was this gorgeous coral linen dress made from a thrift store find. I also really liked this loose fitting vest that could go over just about anything.

So… off to the thrift store for me. I was visiting my daughter, Lydia, in OH, and went to the Goodwill there. It just so happened that there was a sale! You really feel like you find pirate’s treasure when you find a sale at a thrift store! So I picked out four suits that suited me and it cost a whopping $12 for all four!


So there was plenty to work with. Now… what do I choose to make? On to pinterest for ideas! I’ve always admired a nice Coco Chanel jacket:


My other favorite sewing blogger is Lisa Comfort from Sew Over It.   She recently release her own version of the Coco Jacket:


It would be a double challenge for me to do this pattern, which of course starts with a pdf print out, and harvest the material from an old suit. But I love a good challenge. So onward!

The first thing I did, after choosing which of the four I’d use, was wash and then dye the suit. I actually dyed it a similar color to even out the coloring and cover up a couple of stains.



The next step was to unpick the suit apart, which meant to separate the lining. I decided to cut out the sleeves and just adjust them and resew them back in.


Then it was all about preparing the pattern and figuring out how to lay out the pieces. I soon realized the pattern pieces weren’t all going to fit. So I used the lining material I purchased to create a back panel.


I liked the chest pocket so I left that intact.


The finished garment looks like this:



The pattern instructions were clear and overall I was pleased with the result. Next time I do this I will unpick the sleeves and re-cut them according to the pattern as I wasn’t super happy about how they ended up looking in spite of my adjustments.

I plan to give this a second go with another suit. So stay tuned!

What will YOU do? Go to Refashioner’s Challenge to find out how to enter.



Gail's Nest · Pattern Review

Sewing for Baby – Pattern Review of

Being a new grandma gives me a great excuse to make baby clothes! I decided to try the free patterns on The first one was their pants:


You can find the pattern here. It was a very straightforward pants pattern. There is a video tutorial on their webpage and step by step directions. The pattern, of course, is one that you print on your computer and then have to tape together the pages. But being a small pair of pants, there weren’t many pages.


I’d give the pants’ pattern 5 stars for being very simple and easy to make as well as excellent directions. It’s versatile and can be used for different sizes.

Next, I made a T-shirt for my baby Deacon:


This too was a free pattern from You can get the pattern here.


This too went together quickly. Directions on their site are clear. Again, another 5 stars. It is tricky sewing with jersey fabric so I used a needle for jersey as well as a twin needle at the end for a nice finish on the hems.

I couldn’t stop there. I had to make matching booties:


Now these booties were difficult. They are made with suede soles to give them a little sturdiness. I used a free pattern from You can get the pattern and step by step tutorial here.

Now while it came out beautiful I have a couple of complaints- the directions on this pattern are not accurate. Step 5 tells you to put the pieces “wrong sides together” before you sew. This is incorrect. You should put the pieces “right sides together” so that you are sewing on the wrong side and can turn it inside out to iron. My other complaint is that the finished product has the seam on the inside of the shoe and because there are so many layers the seam could be uncomfortable for Deacon to put his foot in. Time will tell whether or not he’s sensitive to that. He’s not walking yet, so maybe we’ll get away with it.

You must use a heavy-duty needle as you sew through several layers, including suede, and I also used a heavier thread. I’d give this pattern only 2 stars.

So because I was afraid Deacon wouldn’t like the shoes, I made another pair from a less complicated bootie pattern.


I thought these would fit better as they go around the ankles and are secured with velcro. The pattern is from You can get the free pattern here. This pattern was much simpler and directions were clear, but they don’t look as nice, so only 4 stars.

Here is the whole ensemble:


It was so much fun that I made a second outfit with the same patterns:

And you probably would like to see Deacon wearing them. I packaged them up and mailed them to Ohio and unfortunately Lydia said the orange tee was a little too small. So… back to you, Lydia! Time to post pics of our little guy. Stay tuned!




Gail's Nest · Pattern Review

Pattern Review – Sew Over It-Nancy Dress


I absolutely love this pattern from Sew Over It. Lisa Comfort does an amazing job with her designs and the style suits me. This one, The Nancy Dress, is not difficult at all and I think a beginner sew can tackle it.

Unlike The Heather Dress, (see my review here), this dress has nothing tricky. The directions are clear and easy to follow.

Like all her patterns, Lisa offers them as paper patterns but can be downloaded as well. I prefer the download version as she is from London and I usually don’t want to wait nor pay for shipping. The downside of pdf patterns is that after you print out the pages, you must take time to line up the pages and tape them together before you cut them out.


Next, you place your pattern on the fabric of your choice and cut it out. I chose this amazing silky-rayon print from Joann Fabrics:


The finished result:



I love the keyhole back! I did have to readjust the hook and eye. It might be more secure with a snap.


Let me know if you try this pattern!



Gail's Nest · Pattern Review

Pattern Review – Sew Over It- Heather Dress

I really enjoy Lisa Comfort’s Sew Over It Tutorials and blog. She designs and sells her own patterns. She is in London, so those of us in the US either have to wait a while to ship a paper pattern, or fabric (she sells beautiful fabric too) or you can download the patterns as a pdf. That is what I did and I’d like to tell you about my experience.


First of all, the downloads are printed out on your printer onto 8 x 11 sheets. That means, of course, that you have to tape the papers together before you cut out the pattern. This isn’t terrible just time consuming and rather tedious. Lisa makes it easy on us, though, by numbering the papers. You have to be careful to align the printed material correctly before you tape. BUT… make sure you measure the test square on the first page before you bother to print out the whole thing! The test square says it should be 10 cm x 10 cm. Measure it! If it doesn’t measure to a 10 cm x 10  cm then you must adjust your computer printer setting. Otherwise your pattern will be too small and your finished garment won’t fit!

Be sure to print out the directions for yourself too. Her directions are very clear and there are photographs to help you along as you construct your dress.

The Heather Dress is meant to be cut out of jersey fabric. Jersey fabric requires a foot that will help glide the fabric through the machine. But it’s very forgiving and doesn’t frey.

The style of the Heather Dress is simplistic yet so cute. It has these big front pockets that are darling but gave me fits! I consider myself a seasoned sewer, and thought the directions for this part were confusing. I’ve always said, “My seam ripper and I are best friends!” And yes, I made the mistake of sewing the front sides in backwards! No wonder the pockets didn’t fit. See my video clip on how the pocket fits:


The side fronts and the pockets were the most difficult part of this dress. I made a second dress and it went much more quickly! Overall the design is genius and I was pleased the result.

This was my first time to use a twin needle too. Follow your machine’s instructions for inserting the twin needle. It worked great with jersey fabric and gave it a professional finish.

Here are more pics:


Sew Over It Heather Dress
Sew Over It Heather Dress


Blessing!– Gail Felker