Sewing Again, Finally

All I’ve wanted to do all winter is stay home, drink tea, work on my charity knitting and listen to escapist audiobooks. But the prospect of spring is once again working its magic–and if I am to move on to spring tops and dresses, the things that I cut out months ago have to be made first. I think it’s some kind of law, violations of which are punishable by the loss of critical pattern pieces and profound feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

You really can’t have too many denim jackets in New Mexico. Nothing beats the classic jeans jacket, but often those have high armholes that make them hard to layer over sweaters. I liked the raglan sleeves of the Chicago jacket, and I really liked the boro-inspired variation described in this tutorial, for which I ordered the fabric kit.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, “boro” is from the Japanese word meaning “ragged,” and it refers to the kind of patchwork used to repair the clothing of the working class–often over the space of generations. The fabric was usually simple indigo-dyed hemp, and often sashiko stitching was employed. The next time you’re on Pinterest, do yourself a favor and search for it, and prepare to be amazed by the simple beauty of this form of textile folk art, which is gaining new popularity as it is used for up-cycling old denim.

So it’s mostly because of the simple, yarn-dyed detail fabrics, the contrasting topstitching, and the little details that make this “boro-inspired.”


But it wasn’t just winter malaise that kept me from working on this. I made the mistake of reading the pattern, and I couldn’t for the life of me understand how it was supposed to go together. (Mom told me never to do that, and she was right. Mystifying instructions have a way of making sense once you get to that point, and you will frighten yourself unnecessarily.)

Then there was all that topstitching. On black denim. Using white rope. (Well, OK, it was size 12 cotton thread, but it seemed like the stuff you’d use for doing whatever it is you do to topsails, or mizzenmasts, or something.)

I should have had more faith; I’ve been using Sewing Workshop patterns for almost 20 years, and never had one that didn’t work. It’s a bit origami-like, but once you get your mind around the fact that the “waist seam” actually starts at the underarm,  and that the topstitching is only weird because the pockets in this version are patch pockets rather than inset, it somehow works. And all that topstitching? Piece of cake, if you pop for size 100 titanium topstitching needles.

And it does fit over light-to-medium sweaters, so I’m content.


The other project hanging fire was the knit pullover variation of the Liberty shirt. And despite the fact that it’s such a simple thing, I really can’t call it a huge success.

I mucked it up six ways from Sunday–and since both the pattern and the fabric (a luxurious cotton-bamboo-spandex French terry) are old and beloved friends, I really can’t blame either of them. Puckers appeared out of nowhere. Carefully-matched markings divorced because of irreconcilable differences. Bits of the hem crept out from under the topstitching and headed for the Mexican border. I seemed to be sewing every seam at least twice, and I really thought that this top would end its days as a terrible, sloppy (albeit decadent) pajama top.

But in the end, the only unfixable mistake was a shiny bit right smack on the front neck seam–the result of pressing too vigorously, though I was trying so hard to be so careful.

Mildred, predictably, wasn’t having it. She wasn’t going to wear anything with a shiny bit right on the front neck seam, clearly visible to God and everybody.

Which is why I am hiding the mistake styling it with a Lazy Katy scarf.


Thank goodness there are sometimes knitting solutions for sewing problems.

And spring is coming.






3 comments on “Sewing Again, Finally

  1. The denim jacket is wonderful. Years ago (when I did some sewing) I used a Folkwear pattern for Japanese field clothes in a sort of heavy cotton chambray. There were directions for doing the repair patching with topstitching, though I didn’t do that. I loved the items and wore them till they fell apart. Your jacket brings back good memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome back. Your jacket is fabulous (rope topstitching and all), and styling with that gorgeous knitted scarf is perfection. Can’t see what Mildred is getting huffy about.


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