Sewcialist Sewing Inspired by Morgan of Crab & Bee

Hi Sewcialists!

My name is Meris of The Fabric Alchemist. I’ve been sewing cosplay costumes and clothing for the past seven years.

Meris Portrait
Me, in and out of cosplay

I’m a long time follower and hashtag user of the Sewcialist Community. I am excited to be part of the August Inspiration Month blog team so I can tell you about a Sewcialist and friend who initially inspired me to try my hand at sewing back in 2010.

Morgan of Crab & Bee

Many of you already know and follow Morgan on her blog Crab & Bee. I don’t think I need to convince you of her talents and inspiring nature, but at least let me tell you my story.

Appropriately, this story begins with a Facebook post.

Morgan and I went to college together, so we knew each other in the real world but weren’t in regular contact post-graduation. Then one day she shared a blog post about a dress she had recently made from reclaimed curtains.

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I saw this dress, I read her blog post about making it, and I distinctly remember thinking aloud, “I could do that.”

This was the first time one of my peers talked about making their own clothes. Morgan demystified everyday sewing for me. Even though my mom sewed many of her own clothes in high school and college, as well as making clothes for my brother and I, sewing everyday clothes was like a fly in amber. I could see it, I knew it was a thing, but I didn’t see how it fit in my life. Morgan helped me see it’s stylish and creatively independent potential. Morgan also introduced me to the online sewing blogger community.

What really spoke to me in that blog post was Morgan’s commitment to sustainability and her vision for how sewing helped her achieve those goals. These are values I share and her approach to sewing continues to inspire me. (Editor’s note: In 2014, Morgan hosted “Scraptember” theme month for the Sewcialists where she inspired us to reduce and reuse by getting creative with scraps of fabric!) 

Morgan has a style that I have always admired. There has always been something about the way the fabrics sing. She has a way of picking what seems like the perfect fabrics…because in a way she waits until the perfect fabric presents itself.

From her post about “My Favorite Shirt” – “Inna witnessed my shopping process. For me, it’s rarely as simple as ‘I like that, I have the money, I’ll buy it.’ I’ll call into question my entire identity and value system (aspirational minimalism, thrift, investment of time required to properly own something, quality, wardrobe versatility, environmental values) before I make a purchase.”

It makes me rethink my fabric accumulation approach. She chooses fabrics and projects with intention. I’m fighting genetic urges to accept all free fabric and keep everything “just in case.”

McCalls 6436

For my August Tribute Project, I chose the pattern McCalls M6436 that Morgan has used no fewer than 10 times.

The ways she revises it and alters it are infinitely inspiring. She’s made it from flannel, cotton, and linen, played with the length of the hems, used it to perfect her shoulder fitting, changed the neckline, modified it to have kimono sleeves, and calls it her favorite shirt.

She even made two shift dresses from it!

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Morgan’s blue swiss dot version is one of my favorites. I wanted a sleeveless top for the remainder of the summer and I wasn’t sure I had enough fabric for full sleeves.

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As a pattern, M6436 is good for learning the ropes of sewing blouses. The instructions are mostly straight forward. Because there are so many versions of the shirt, when you combine version elements it takes a moment to parse which steps belong to which version.

Seeing that I continue to have trouble with collars, armhole binding, and front plackets, I am going to call this blouse a wearable muslin.

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You know what I love? Without any adjustments to the shoulder or bust, the armholes don’t gape! This blouse pattern has variations for different bust sizes, but I think that there are still times when some sewists will need to do a small-bust or full-bust adjustment.

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I did add slits at the side seams because even with grading up at the hips, my round tush was causing the blouse to drape oddly. I opted out of the back darks because of the fabric’s print and Morgan’s dartless versions looks great!

Also…find the front pockets IF YOU CAN. Pattern matching For The Win!

I might shorten the blouse a bit the next time I make it. For now, this is a great length for a beach cover-up. (Hawaii vacation anyone?)

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In tribute to Morgan, this shirt has been made with 100% previously owned materials. The fabric is from a lightweight kimono robe that my husband’s grandmother gave me years ago (for the purpose of refashioning). (She passed away two weeks ago and I felt this project would also be a meaningful tribute to her as well.) The interfacing is actually the lining from the kimono. The buttons and thread once belonged to my own grandmothers.

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Looking back, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to start sewing if I hadn’t seen Morgan’s dress when I did. Around that same time I had started thinking about making costumes to attend conventions, but I was still viewing sewing as a skill related to costume making. How long would it have taken me to find the sewing community if I hadn’t read Morgan’s blog? I learned about Me-Made-May through her. So many what-ifs!

I have gotten to know Morgan better through our sewing. She is one of my many “Sewing Friends” that I often refer to. I can’t wait to meet more of you as the Sewcialist Blog resumes.

Happy Sewing!

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18 thoughts on “Sewcialist Sewing Inspired by Morgan of Crab & Bee

  1. How lovely! And I had that robe, and wore it to pieces… my father brought it home for my mother from Japan about fifty years ago, She never used it, but I sure have… ❤

  2. What lovely way to honor Morgan and the grandmothers in your family! Your pattern-matching skills are top-notch, and with the tweaks you mention it sounds like this pattern will become your go-to shirt too. Great job!

  3. There’s so much I love about your project! The homage to your family, the small-world fact that you know Morgan (who I’ve followed for YEARS!) in person, the Japanese fabric which is near and dear to my own heart, and that I love your finished project! Thank you so much for taking part, Meris!

  4. Your shirt looks gorgeous! I’ve been reading the sewcialist posts & thinking who I’d choose as inspiration & Morgan was the first that sprang to my mind too. I love your story behind th fabric and notions, and how you know Morgan & started sewing.

    1. Thank you Kathryn. I love this month’s theme because even though I chose to write about a big inspiration moment, this month has helped me reflect on all the many ways (big and small) other sewcialists have inspired me or taught me something.

  5. I love that you actually have a real life connection to the person that you did a tribute to! The fit looks good in those photos, and I love both your fabric and the story behind it. I think your husband’s grandmother would be honored to know that her old robe has found a new life.

    1. Thank you Becky. Sometimes I forget that I’ve never met most of my Sewcialist friends in real life. Digital media has allowed us to stay updated on each others creations, big life events, pets, children, etc. And yet, most of us can’t call each other up to meet for coffee.

  6. What a beautiful blouse and that pattern is so versatile. I love when you can use something again, patterns certainly but I love to recycle fabrics most of all. Seeing perfectly useable things going to landfill is such a terrible waste. How lovely to use fabrics & notions that are so personal to you. It is a lovely tribute to all involved. Xx

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