Simplicity 8441 – Stuffed Llama

Simplicity 8441 - Stuffed Llama
I sometimes sew gifts for the holidays, but not regularly. I’ve sewn dresses for my cousins before and a quilt or two. Usually, time constraints keep me from finishing my ambitious projects.

Luckily my sewing group scheduled a retreat last weekend which was the perfect time to complete this stuffed llama!

I used Simplicity 8441 although the designer also has her own PDF version. The Simplicity pattern includes the pillowcase as well.

I bought the fur and face-fleece from Joann. They have a big faux fur selection in the winter. The other pieces – the mouth, ears/tail/base, and blanket fabric were all leftovers from other projects.

Simplicity 8441 - Stuffed Llama

I was able to cut the fur from the wrong side with tiny snips in the fabric without cutting the hair itself. When I sewed the fur I brushed it away from the seam so I didn’t need to trim the fur from the seam allowance.

I made one slight mistake, however. The pattern is well designed in that the neck and body are cut in such a way as to make the llama’s face turn slightly to the side. But attaching the face and neck to the body was a little tricky for me. I wasn’t using a walking foot so my face and neck ended up a little off-kilter. In the end, though, it just looks like my llama’s face is tilted a bit. So if you’re making this llama, be sure to match the head and face up just right when sewing!Simplicity 8441 - Stuffed LlamaMaking the yarn wig was difficult. I found it helpful to wrap the yarn around a longer piece of cardstock. With the original three-inch-long piece of cardstock, the yarn kept sliding off the cardstock as I sewed it. You make the little wig separately then hand-sew it to the llama’s head. I used chunky yarn with a metallic thread to match the metallic in the blanket but I think I used too much yarn as the wig is very full.

Simplicity 8441 - Stuffed Llama

There’s quite a bit of hand sewing/embroidery on this project. I chose to blanket stitch around the mouth applique piece.

Simplicity 8441 - Stuffed Llama

The hole for the stuffing is not large (it’s at the base of the body near the neck) and I used the kind of stuffing that comes in little tiny pieces of fluff. I had to jerry-rig a paper cup into a funnel to fill the llama.

Simplicity 8441 - Stuffed Llama

The only significant change I made was to tack down the blanket rather than attaching the string ties that wrap around the llama’s body. I wish I had stuffed the tail to make it stand up better. The ears stand up just fine without any stuffing.

Simplicity 8441 - Stuffed LlamaHe’s super cute! If you like sewing stuffed animals and can deal with fur I’d recommend this pattern.

So that’s it, I’m now going to end this post with a series of choice llama gifs. Enjoy!

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

I made this skirt for another class I’m teaching at The Cloth Pocket. I’ve been looking for a good new skirt pattern lately because I prefer wearing skirts/dresses to pants/shorts in the summer.

This is the Made by Rae Cleo Skirt. I sewed the shorter View A.

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

This is a basic skirt design the contrast hem band gives it a bit more style. I also prefer these types of pockets to side seam pockets and I like the flat front waistband combined with a gathered back waistband as opposed to elastic all the way around.

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

The main fabric is a Japanese linen/cotton blend and the hem band is a textured cotton, both from The Cloth Pocket.

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

The pattern instructions are thorough but I do have one complaint – the pattern pieces come in two sheets, one of which (the sheet with the largest pieces) is printed on BOTH SIDES. This means you have to trace those pieces.

Now, you might say “well, I always trace my pieces anyway” and I hear you but these pieces are 95% rectangles. Meaning on a normal pattern you could just cut out the largest size and fold down the excess to your size, thereby keeping the pattern intact without needing to trace.

I understand that this is likely just a printing issue. The printers are only capable of printing certain size paper and another giant sheet won’t fit in the envelope. I get it. But I’m still grumpy about it.

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

As a comparison, Made by Rae’s Washi dress has you tape two sheets together to get a full pattern piece, this is just a problem with her printer company.

Made by Rae Cleo SkirtMy only problem with this actual skirt itself is the elastic I chose. I specifically bought thick “non-roll” elastic, yet, it rolls. It simply refuses to stand straight no matter what I do. Oh well, live and learn — and then sew it again!!

Closet Case Patterns Kelly Anorak

Closet Case Kelly Anorak

Ok, buckle up. This is the big one. The big sew of the season. A full-on 100% jacket. Or Anorak to be more specific.

This one tested me in many ways and in the end, I’m not sure if I came out on top. In any case, it’s finished and I love it, flaws and all, and it’s only spurred me on to make another.

Let’s dig in:

This is the Closet Case Kelly Anorak which was released last year to much fanfare. I liked the design, classic yet sporty. But it wasn’t until I started planning my trip to Utah that I decided that by golly, I NEEDED a new jacket!

Closet Case Kelly Anorak

I definitely have a preferred “style” when it comes to dressing for the outdoors. Now you might say, “it doesn’t matter what you look like while you’re in the wilderness, so long as it’s functional.” To that, I say, “go rain on someone else’s 7-mile hike!”

For me, my ideal look for traipsing across in the desert/mountains/forest involves a cross between Lara Croft (circa the 2013 reboot) and a 1911 Egyptologist. Basically, I want to look like someone who regularly carries a torch.

So when I saw a jacket at REI that was almost identical to the Kelly but had a shearling hood lining, visions of torch-lit ancient tombs glittered in my eyes.

I immediately ordered some shearling and a couple yards of ripstop cotton from fabric.com (appropriately named “coyote”).

Closet Case Kelly Anorak

I had about a month to finish the jacket but first I needed to address some fit issues.

1. The sleeve was too small. Luckily the sleeve is in two pieces which made it easier to alter.

Not only did I made it wider in the bicep but I lowered the height of the sleeve cap to give me some more rotation in the arm. Before I could only lift the arm in front of me to neck-height. Now I can reasonably scale a rock wall while wearing it. Not that I did, but still.

2. In several versions of this pattern, I see a recurring fit issue. It’s not a huge problem but I kept seeing it enough that it bugged me. Right above the bust, near where the chest yoke seam met the armscye – a fold. A lumpy, slightly angled fold. Always appearing when the wearer had the jacket zipped up. Like the jacket was crying out for a dart.

Luckily I had a friend who loves fitting more than I love complaining. She helped me tackle that dreaded fold in a muslin.

Unfortunately, that fold proved hard to fight. You’d think you could take the fold out at the yoke seam but the yoke doesn’t come anywhere near the fullest part of the bust. And while the yoke piece of the jacket is curved toward the armscye, the body of the jacket is not curved along that seam.

My options were to make a whole new side dart, or try to squeeze the excess fabric into that yoke seam. Neither option was a perfect fix. I ended up forgoing the new dart and trying to curve the yoke seam more. It helped – but didn’t fix it completely.

Closet Case Kelly Anorak(That fold(s) is still visible – though not all the time – with the jacket zipped. And now that you see it on me, I dare you not to see it on other people’s Anoraks as well…)

To adapt the hood I simply cut out the same hood pieces again from the shearling. Then I adapted the lower front piece that gets snapped together to be sewn from the cotton. I didn’t want to try to apply snaps through the fur.

Closet Case Kelly Anorak

Now, I have to admit, fiddling with all those front zipper-area flaps was confusing and frustrating. Following the tutorial online helped.

One thing I found annoying in the instructions, however, was the part where it suggests finishing the hem before adding the zipper and the flaps. So I did. Then when I went to add the flaps and zip I had to unpick some stitches to get it to fit (maybe I stitched too far over??? I don’t know). But after those steps, the instructions essentially said, “if you didn’t hem before, go ahead and hem now.” It likely would have been easier had I hemmed after the zipper section.

Another change I made was to the drawstring. This idea I stole from my REI inspiration piece. Rather than risking my drawstring getting caught on a tree branch or other obstacle while hiking, I turned it into an interior drawstring.

Inside of the jacket, I stitched the drawstring end to the center front zipper area, then I left the casing open at each side seam. The string extends out from the casing at the side seams so it can be tied. You could go fancy and buy one of those spring-press stoppers but I was short on time.

Closet Case Kelly Anorak(on the right you can see the holes made from attaching the snaps which I talk about below. Also, I bound the side seam allowances in bias binding, although I realize I should have just flat-felled them instead. Oh well, they look pretty at least.)

Removing the exterior drawstring meant I needed to adjust the position of the snaps. And here’s where things got messy.

Since I wasn’t going to use the drawstring hardware, I chose not to buy the Kelly’s hardware kit and instead bought snaps from WAWAK.

When the snaps arrived I realized I did not have the correct tool to set them. I have multiple tools for snaps, grommets, eyelets, etc – but not the kind made for this specific type of snap. I immediately ordered a new tool but when it hadn’t arrived by the day before my trip (even though I paid extra for faster shipping, ugh) I got desperate.

I went to the Tandy Leather store in my city and bought a new tool.

I returned home and the new tool doesn’t fit the spring snaps either. Luckily, I had the right frame of mind to buy extra snaps at Tandy. But upon closer inspection, I realized these were ring snaps. Ring snaps are different than spring snaps in that they have a tiny, loose metal ring inside them on one side. This makes them noisy, it also makes them hard to snap on and off. But it was my only choice.

Oh, and did I mention this package of ring snaps only had 10? And I needed 12?

Closet Case Kelly Anorak

Yeah, so my jacket has fewer snaps than it’s supposed to. ANNND when I was out of snaps I tried my darndest to get one of my many tools to work on my original snaps for the left cuff. I got one half of the snap on before I gave up. Instead, I hand stitched the cuff closed. On the outside, it looks like a normal snap but it’s completely nonfunctional.

At this point, I didn’t care anymore.

Oh, and I didn’t think to fold the under facing of out of the way while attaching the snaps, and banging on the metal tools formed tiny holes in the fabric in that facing layer. Ugh. Welp, lesson learned.

I wore this jacket at some point on every day of my trip and I noticed a problem… My pocket stitching started to come undone along the top edge. I realize now I should have stitched these pockets like one stitches back pockets on jeans, with a little triangle of stitching at the opening to prevent this exact sort of thing from happening. I fixed it when I got home.

Closet Case Kelly Anorak(the moment I realized my pocket stitching snapped. I was not happy.)

Ok plans for my next Kelly *rubs hands together like a scheming villain*

  1. Lining – gonna buy the lining pack and make a warmer jacket. This add-on includes a new sleeve that is larger around which I hope will preclude my need for width adjustments. Does anyone know a good source for high-quality flannel? None of that cheap stuff from Joann.
  2. Breast pockets – the pattern has that yoke seam over the chest and is just begging for pockets. A pocket deep enough to hold my phone/keys would do well. I’m thinking interior pockets with an exterior flap as opposed to patch pockets on the outside.
  3. Do the snaps the right way! ‘Nuff said.
  4. Better, more secure stitching around those pockets.
  5. Shearling lined hood again – because I bought a yard of that stuff so I gotta use it up somehow.
  6. I think I’ll do the ripstop cotton again but in a different color. It looks cool up close, was easy to sew with, is a good width, and best of all, it’s cheap!
  7. Carry an actual torch while wearing it.

Closet Case Kelly Anorak

Closet Case Patterns Ebony Dress

Closet Case Ebony Dress

My serger is currently on the fritz so I haven’t been sewing as much, and what I have been sewing are gifts. And since I can’t really share those, I guess I’ll catch up on a few unblogged projects…

This is the Ebony knit Dress by Closet Case Patterns. I made View A with the scoop neck of View B.

Closet Case Ebony Dress

I sewed this dress as a sample for my new class at The Cloth Pocket in December.

My fabric is a cotton sweatshirt terrycloth (also from the cloth pocket) that’s heather black on the right side and white on the wrong side. I rolled up the sleeves in these pics to show off the underside.

Closet Case Ebony Dress

The fabric was stretchy enough for this pattern but the terry backside made the seams a little bulky and hard to serge. Because of that I made the neckband a little thicker to make it easier to work with.

Closet Case Ebony Dress

Overall I liked the pattern and instructions. This swingy dress is simple and quick to sew. I can definitely see myself whipping up a few of these dresses with long sleeves for winter.

My paper pattern included a supplementary sheet with an updated sleeve piece. The original piece had a grading error in the smaller sizes but when I measured the new updated sleeve piece in my size I knew it would be too tight for my arms.

Closet Case Ebony Dress

I adjusted the sleeve so that I didn’t change the length of the sleeve cap much but made the cap and bicep wider by almost an inch. Which was good, because I definitely needed it with this fabric. If my fabric were stretchier I could probably get away without it but I didn’t want to take the chance with this thicker sweatshirt knit.

Closet Case Ebony Dress

This dress is VERY voluminous at the hem which is why you have to use wide fabric.

Closet Case Ebony Dress

I know I’ll make this pattern again, likely from a different type of fabric — and depending on what fabric I use I’ll probably use some kind of stabilizer on that curved hem.