Fall has arrived abruptly and violently in Seattle – I could have sworn we went from high 70s (F) to low 50s in a matter of two days. The torrential rain prevented me from both documenting and wearing the light autumnal jacket I finished last week. Until today!

Perhaps due to the change in weather, Nathan and I both came down with persistent low-grade fevers a couple of days ago. (Coincidentally, that’s when the weather cleared up.) After two days of being bed- and house-bound, we took a field trip to the post office and I kind of tricked Nathan into a 5-minute photo shoot. Then I went straight back to bed. | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

Looking a little bit vacant, no? | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

As you might have guessed, I used the Sewaholic Minoru pattern. I made a size smaller than my previous version, shortened it by 8″ and took the side seams at the bottom hem in by a half-inch to reduce some of the flare. I think the fit is even better than my other Minoru, and I can still wear a loose-fitting sweater underneath. | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

The only other real change was forgoing the elastic wristbands for flat ones and shortening the sleeves a tiny bit. They’re still pretty long! | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

It was really fun to re-visit this pattern and see how much more comfortable I am with a lot of the techniques this pattern requires. Top-stitching, lining and outerwear in general were mysterious to me when I attempted my first Minoru. This one felt like a victory lap. | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

Fabric-wise, this was a pretty thrifty jacket! I used a tiny portion of the olive linen I got at the stash shop, almost all of the rest of the fabric scraps from Nathan’s birthday shirt, and a little bit of silk twill I had in my stash to line the sleeves. Man, slippery sleeve linings are so luxurious. You can practically hear my sleeves squeaking as I try to put my arms in my other Minoru (fully lined in cotton) – not so with this one! | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

My goal with this project was to create a fall/spring jacket that was the right length for the higher waistlines of dresses and skirts. (If you haven’t already, check out Andrea’s short jacket – she created it to extend the wear of her warmer-weather dresses.) I could easily see myself creating a third version in a slightly longer length that would work well with pants.  I think taking 6″ instead of 8″ off the hem would do it.

So! That’s my first piece of fall sewing to hit this blog. It remains to be seen if it will see more wear this year; so much depends on the weather. Maybe I should start my winter coat project now? If you’ve got some good tips on timing seasonal sewing, please share!


Top 5 Hits of 2012

Hi there! Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I realized that I don’t really have much/any time to wrap up my Top 5 lists before the end of the year! Somehow I always imagine that there is two weeks between Christmas and New Year’s instead of one (maybe because they’re so packed with activity). So with that in mind, I’m going to forge ahead with my Hits without the inclusion of my newer projects. Luckily, I’ve made at least five very useful and delightful projects this year; here they are in roughly chronological order!

1. The Persimmon Shirt

This shirt is every bit as bright as the photograph, and it cheers me up every time I put it on. It walks the narrow line between success and failure because I unknowingly made it from very low-quality, fragile voile. This means I only hand-wash it, but I still consider it a favorite from 2012!

Pattern: McCall’s 6436
Fabric: cotton voile

2. The Grown-Up Flower Girl Dress

My life-long dream of being a flower girl was fulfilled this February thanks to my very indulgent uncle and now-aunt who got married after 20 years together. I waffled between making matching dresses for my sister and me and decided at the last minute to go for it. I made a muslin for myself, finished my dress, then made some guesses about my sister’s dress based on how mine fit her.

Even though I haven’t had the occasion to wear this dress again (where does one wear a loud hot orange Amy Butler floral?), I’m so proud of the fit and construction.


As a bonus, I also made my husband’s shirt that he wore to the wedding. We’re looking practically model-esque thanks to my sister’s superior photography skills!

Patterns: Butterick 5639 (dress),  McCall’s 6044 (shirt)
Fabric: Amy Butler quilting cotton (dress), thrifted cotton gingham (shirt)

3. The Red Bustier

Here’s another exercise in good fitting. I made several rounds of adjustments to a muslin before making this bustier top and really saw a lot of gains from it. This top layers really well and has been a versatile piece for both work and other occasions. The fabric was first thrifted by my friend Elizabeth, then re-gifted to me when she made a big move to California.

Pattern: McCall’s 6325
Fabric: thifted quilting cotton

4. The Wedding Guest Dress

I’m so very proud of this dress. Somehow I managed to sew slowly and carefully but complete it in a matter of days before a wedding (with a muslin!) It was my first time sewing a big project using silk and definitely the most expensive fabric I’ve ever sprung for.

Pattern: Vogue 1228
Fabric: silk habotai

5. The Long-Awaited Minoru

Months in the making, my Sewaholic Minoru has quickly become one of the most-worn pieces in my wardrobe. I expect that will be even more true when the weather warms up a bit. I won’t go on too much about this piece since it’s blog debut was fairly recent, but it definitely makes the Top 5.

Pattern: Sewaholic Minoru
Fabric: Cotton twill with cotton lining

There you have it! The Top 5 Crab&Bee creations of 2012. (PS I had no idea I was such a McCall’s fan! The first three items on this list all involve a McCall’s pattern).

Minoru by Morgan

Mes amis, I present to you my Minoru! I made the hooded version in cotton black/navy twill, lined with a supposedly-100% cotton print that is suspiciously stretchy (does that ever happened to anyone else? mis-represented fabric?) Overall, I’m very pleased with the project! Since I finished it, I’ve been wearing it 3-4 times/week.
The nuts and bolts

I didn’t use any elastic; instead, I interfaced the cuffs and cut them to fit the sleeve ends after doing a test to make sure my hand would fit through. For the waist, I did a drawstring. I put it in a bit too low and had to grade the hips down because it caused too much of a flared shape. I also lined the hood, which you can see in the bottom two pictures.

Design drawing: testing out some pocket and drawstring options, with true-to-life hairstyling
Grit and other characteristics

As I’ve mentioned before, this project sat unfinished in my closet for, oh, 6 months. I’d installed the collar and hood and realized that the hood zipper was slightly smaller than my hood. Because of the effort I’d put into sewing the zipper and making a lined hood, it kind of stopped my in my tracks. And one I’d stopped, new projects always sounded more enticing.


What made me pick it up again, you ask? Two things influenced me.  The first is that I found myself shopping for 100% cotton twill coats when I already had one in the works. The second was a little more abstract; I turned our local public radio station on and heard the writer Paul Tough speaking about character traits that are better indicators than grades of whether or not a kid will succeed. One of them was grit, which Tough defines as persevering through adversity for the love of the activity. Immediately, I thought of my jacket in progress; that was the tipping point.
One of my struggles in life is abandoning tasks that present me with difficulty. Sewing is generally the exception; my desire to make a finished piece and my enjoyment of the process have helped me consistently move through stumbling blocks. In the case of this Minoru, it took awhile (and some prodding from Paul Tough).
“It’s raining” face

I’m not sure what makes sewing easier to persevere in; maybe it’s because I don’t do it professionally, nor do I plan to. Nothing except for a wearable finished garment (probably for myself) hangs in the balance if I fail. There are times when I’m more confident in my abilities, times when I’m less confident, but I keep sewing. A hearty online community of sewists doesn’t hurt, either. Sharing projects, tips and travails really helps. I love seeing what everybody’s making and how you’re making it!

Future Minorus

I’d make another Minoru, but I’m not rushing into it just yet. My hands need to recover, and it’s nice to give my triple-stitch setting a rest. If/when I do make another, I think I’d go down a size and try a cropped version. Thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate my long-awaited jacket!

Finished Minoru!

Here’s a sneak peek at my finished Minoru! I can’t believe it’s done (well, minus the slip-stitching I need to do on one facing), especially since I abandoned it months ago. I started the world’s most attractive muslin way back in April. Since my homework load is really high right now, I managed to complete it over a few weeks during study breaks.

Ah, Seattle light in the late fall. Sparse and yellow-ish.

I’m hoping to get a photo shoot in with Bee soon so I can share it with you guys! And in the meantime, I’m trying to give myself a couple days off from sewing so my fingers (aching from pushing pins into 16 layers of heavy twill) can recover!

Minoru Muslin, Me Made May ’12

crab&beeMuslins aren’t known for their beauty, but this one really takes the cake. (The motley of fabric probably obscured my ability to evaluate the pattern effectively!) It’s a testament to the Minoru that I’m going forward with making one in real fabric.

In other sewing news, I’m entering Me Made May, hosted by So, Zo! I’m super excited and a bit nervous. (I started mentally cataloging my self-made items in my head on the way to work today.)

Me Made March from last year was an eye-opening experience. The closest thing I can compare it to is training for a half-marathon. Getting dressed every morning is hard enough without making sure I made at least one of the items. And let’s not forget documenting!

It’s an exciting way to measure how much progress I’ve made, however, and great motivation to refashion, make new projects, and push myself to really use what I’ve made.

So here goes!