Sunday, October 26, 2014



If I had to describe Deer and Doe's patterns in one word, it would definitely be charming. Seriously, I love every single one of their designs. They have sweet details but don't look like they're trying too hard. Initially, I didn't think I would be able to make any Deer and Doe projects because I fall outside of their size range. But after having had such a great experience with their free plantain tee pattern and after reading about Laurwyn's experience with grading Deer and Doe patterns, I thought I'd give a Deer and Doe pattern a try.


So this is the Sureau. My plan is to make a Bruyere, but since I was paying for shipping from France, I thought I'd get the most out of my postage by ordering two patterns. (I have no idea if this made a difference, but it's an excellent justification for ordering an extra pattern.) Right away I noticed that the Bruyere is rated advanced, and the Sureau is a beginner pattern. Now I'm not always the most sensible person, but in this case it seemed obvious that I should try the easier pattern first  - especially since I was going to make some adjustments.

To begin with I ended up not grading the entire pattern, but rather applying a FBA and then grading out only at the waist. I was worried that it would be too big all over,  or I would forget to grade a crucial piece, so I thought I would try this modification first. I made a quick muslin of the bodice with part of an old sheet and proceeded to stare at my reflection in shock and amazement. The shit worked.



I really wish I had some decent pictures wearing this dress because I feel just great in it. (I figured out my camera timer, but I don't have a tripod. I was stacking books precariously on a ladder and ended up with very few usable shots and was more than a little frustrated. Hence the dorky facial expression and necessary cropping. Sadly, this is the best of the bunch as most shots only got the top third of my dress.) It's a tad too large in the waist and bust now, but I'd rather have that than be too tight. I rotated my shoulders and reached high above my head to test it. It has good mobility for wearing to work. I'm not much of a dress wearer, but I like the simple frock/day dress vibe of this style. I would wear this with tights, brogues, and a cardigan at work and not feel overdressed. Speaking of tights, I'm thinking my next Sureau will have to be lined to avoid static cling.

Some quick notes:
  • Fabric is a purple swiss dot from Fabric Outlet.  I bought it during their 40% off sale, so I think it was around 4.99 a yard. It's a nice fabric to sew- nice and light without being transparent.
  • I suck at invisible zippers. I don't know how I can get it wrong so many times. I used a smart tip by Christine Hayes this time, though, and interfaced the area where the zipper is sewn on.  I actually love that the Sureau has NO interfaced pieces, but I wanted to make that part of the dress a little stronger. I used black fusible bias tape.
  • The center panel has some great possibilities for adding  trim - piping, embroidery, or cute buttons.
  • I love that this is such a simple dress and that the skirt is only slightly gathered. I want to make another one in black - lbd, right?
  • Next time I should remember to check fit more carefully before inserting the zipper. I do get a little carried away.
So that's all I can think of. I'm still finishing up my two Anise jackets. The single breasted one is very close to be finished. The problem is that the project finishes with a lot of hand sewing, which is kind of a buzz kill when you're so close to the end. Also, the weather's been really nice. I need a cold snap to motivate me to finish up.

Have a lovely week and thank you very much for reading.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014



Hello! I hope your week is going well so far. Tonight, I watched the first game of the World Series while making dinner, assembled my second (weird charcoal color) jacket lining, and washed some new fabric to sew. Already a pretty productive Tuesday evening, but I've got  fabric on my mind, so I'm writing a post instead of going to bed like I should.

Nobody warns you when you take up sewing about the danger of accumulating mass quantities of fabric - i.e. the stash. I'm really trying to keep it under control for obvious financial reasons, but also because I live in one-bedroom apartment with my husband and sewing stuff can really pile up.  I don't like a lot of clutter and am always looking for ways to stay organized.


So how happy was I when I found this shelf thingy (I assume it came from a convenience store/bodega.) while walking home from Fabric Outlet in the Mission! Here's what my fabric collection was starting to look like. (This is what you don't see  - this eyesore behind the couch - when I photograph my makes against our double doors.)


I would try to keep everything folded but always ended up with this mess when looking for a particular fabric that was always at the bottom of the pile. My street treat find has definitely improved the situation. (Just so you know, I gave it a good soapy scrub before putting my fabric on it.)


My plan is to a.) pin the little cards I made (in the top pic) to my fabric to help me remember all the details and b.) to eventually keep find a place for this shelf in our largest closet. It's fine out in the open for now, but I really need to figure out a better situation. And c.) I should probably cool it with the fabric buying. I'm lucky enough to live very close to a number of terrific fabric stores, so it's not like I need to go on a buying trip to stock up. Here are my favorite fabric sources:
  • Discount Fabrics -  just down the street from my apartment so super convenient when I run out of fusible or thread.
  • Fabric Outlet -  in the Mission. It's worth it to be on their mailing list because they have really great sales.
  •  Britex Fabrics - sometimes I spend my lunch hour there just stroking the knits. They get a bad rap for being expensive, but their textiles are really lovely. Now that I'm getting more comfortable with knits, I find that I want to spend a little more to have something that feels more luxurious. After all, my time is way more valuable than the few extra dollars for a nicer product. I still don't want to spend too much on wovens, though, but that's because my skills aren't up to par yet.
  • Goodwill - also just down the road.  I had a lot of fun making my V1247 from a thrift store find. Ideally, I'd like to alternate repurposed fabric with new fabric as a way to challenge myself and be more eco-conscious.
  • Wanderlust- it's online so proximity isn't applicable. I just really like their fabric and find it all so reasonably priced. 
Before I forget, when I was in Britex last week I saw Emily Payne of this season's Project Runway. Apparently, she's worked there for years. Thanks to the "You might also like" widget, you may have discovered one or two of my PR recapping posts and already know that I'm a huge PR fan. Even though I don't look at what's made on the show in the same way I look at real-life sewing (it's not made to withstand even one wash, half of it is glued together, etc.), I am, and always have been, blown away by the creativity of the contestants. I'm also not into snark at all and tend to favor the designers who manage to come out of the whole, weird process with their dignity intact. Emily was not only very talented and creative, but she also conducted herself in such a mature manner. It was a pleasure to watch and made me feel kind of proud since she's local. So anyway, I'm not the type of person who usually goes up to strangers, but since she wasn't with customer I couldn't resist telling her, as I was on my way out, that I'd been watching the show and that I really admired her. I'm sure I'm not the first total stranger that has done something like that, and I'm sure she couldn't care less whether or not some total stranger admires her. I was kind of nervous and I probably made an ass out of myself. But she graciously smiled and said thank you, which is just what I would have expected after seeing her on the show.

Okay, I should really get to bed. Thanks for reading! Cheers!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Ugly Stage


Hello! Hope you're having a lovely weekend. As you can see from the above pic I'm still working on my Colette Anise jacket. I'm actually really enjoying the slower process of building something a bit more substantial.  And I love that I'm learning welt pockets and bound buttonholes. When I got to the part shown above - still in the ugly stage but finally starting to look like a jacket - I decided that I'd really should have gone for a single breasted look. So I started another jacket...


Now I have two jackets in the ugly stage.

But it's  good because the second one will get more wear since it's a charcoal/grayish color. It looks a bit like navy in this picture, but it's actually an odd shade of dark gray with a slightly purplish tinge. It kind of reminds me of a faded black marker - a bit dull but maybe a good neutral for daily wear, and the lining (not shown) is a lovely shade of pink, so that will be fun. It's an inexpensive, bottom-weight, cotton with some lycra, that I had originally bought to practice making pants.

I'm still going to finish the corduroy jacket. There's no reason not to since I already cut the fabric. I just think I'll get more wear out of the second version. I thought it would be helpful to work on the second jacket at the same time while the construction is still fresh in my mind. I added the sleeves tonight and am happy to report that it went well and only a few curse words were uttered. (You know how some people name their sewing machines? Well, apparently mine is called "You Little Bitch.") I freakin' hate sleeves. I'm beginning to understand the logic behind the easing/sleeve cap part, but the whole process is just so messy with all the basting threads and then trying to sew the seam without getting any unwanted folds caught in the seamline. One thing that I will always do from now on is change the thread color for basting. It only takes a couple of seconds, and it just makes everything so much easier later. I even switched out the bobbin for the middle baste, when easing the sleeve, and that really helped.


As mentioned in my previous jacket post, I decided to play around a bit with the collar shape to get something a bit more angular. I like it better than the oversized, rounded peter pan of the original design. The collar for the corduroy version is much larger, which seems appropriate with the double breasted bodice, but I think I prefer the smaller version. This is going to sound crazy, but I kind of want to start another one. I'd love to make one with a more luxe fabric (maybe a boucle or gabardine) and a contrasting collar (maybe velvet) for special occasions.

So many things to make but not nearly enough time.

Just a quick post to log my current progress. Thanks for checking in! Have a lovely week.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Color Block Fail


Hello! Hope you're having a great weekend. The weather's been really lovely here. Yesterday, I worked on some projects while Beej made chili and watched the Giants play. Super relaxing.

So on to my negative post title and the make I'm writing about today. It's not as tragic as I make it out, but it definitely is not a good look for me and I will take it for what it is - an experiment and an opportunity to learn. I considered not even blogging this because I hate the idea of seeing my pictures in some google image search down the road, but whatever. I like blogging even if it's not a successful make because I see this blog as a making journal. I don't think everything I make is great, but I make notes and share and hope to get better. And along the way I hope to connect with fellow creatives. While my family and friends are great and always encourage my creative pursuits,  they do not want to listen to me go on and on about the virtues of fusible bias tape. I can just see their eyes glazing over now...

Okay, enough blather, here's what happened: Have you ever been hit with an idea that you're so excited about you want to attempt it immediately? I was at work, updating yet another endless spreadsheet when I started wondering about scrapbusting and how one would go about making the Vogue 1247 in a knit fabric. I have no idea how to grade a woven pattern for knit, but then I remembered the free Cake tee-shirt pattern, which has a kimono sleeve style not unlike the V1247 bodice. I grabbed what I could find in my desk (i.e. highlighters and a sharpie) to make a quick sketch:

I couldn't wait to get started and practically ran from my bus stop to my apartment. I already had a finished version of the Cake Tee I'd deemed unwearable because of my sloppy waistband and neck finish. I figured that would be a great piece to experiment on and used the top part of the front and the full back as replacements for the V1247 bodice, which includes darts and pleats that are, of course, unnecessary for a knit top. I used turquoise scraps from my failed Moneta; the blue fabric was repurposed from a RTW knit top earmarked for Goodwill. Both knits have a similar weight, so I thought they would work well together. Since I wasn't sure how to hem the front part with the curve and two colors, I opted to make a mirrored shape on the inside - as a sort of self-lined piece. It worked and actually drapes quite nicely.

So here's what it looks like and I'm sure you'll see right away why it is a fail:


No, I am not pregnant, but the color blocking certainly gives the optical illusion of a round, protruding belly, doesn't it? Yikes! I managed to cut myself in thirds and completely eliminated any hint of a waist. What's hilarious is that I was so excited about my idea and my feeling of accomplishment in its execution, I actually wore it to work the next day and thought I looked great! BAHAHAHA!!

But, you know, maybe if I had raised (or lowered) the geometric panels so the horizontal line didn't hit me at such an odd place? Or maybe if the black top part and colored bottom weren't so starkly different in value? Colorblocking is fun but definitely harder than it looks. You really have to pay attention to proportions. I dunno... I actually think on a long and lean body type this might look adorable.  And I still think it's a cool idea and might try it again. Maybe try it as a V-neck and choose colors similar in value or all one hue with different values. I don't ever want to be afraid to experiment.

And it wasn't a complete waste. I used the rest of the blue, thriftstore-bound top I'd cut up to make a new pair of underwear. Score!
So do you ever post your failed projects? Have you ever tried color blocking? If you ever try this, please let me know as I would love to see other versions.
Thanks for reading! Have a lovely week. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Just Lovely


Hello! Hope you're having a good week so far. I so wish there was enough time after work to do all the things that I want to do, but, you know, that's I'm shutting the whining down right now. I want to share a new make - actually made on Saturday - and express my deep and (destined to be) abiding love for the Deer and Doe plantain. Yep, that's me - always tardy to the party. I've had the free pattern printed out for months but hadn't gotten to it - plus I was worried that it would be too small for me. I pictured only lovely, slender, French ladies wearing Deer and Doe, but I'm seeing lots of lovely, curvy ladies rockin' them as well. Yay!

I know I'm always gushing over tee shirt patterns, but, seriously, this one is extra special. Tee shirts make up a huge part of my wardrobe AND being able to make my own that fit me the way I want to (i.e. skim the chest but without linebacker shoulders and orangutan arms) is a game changer for me. It's actually pretty damn empowering. And all this taking pictures of myself is making me really look and analyze fit. I suspect that I need to learn how to do a narrow shoulder adjustment based on what I'm seeing. I don't really think I have narrow shoulders, but opting for larger sizes because of my bust measurement means that the shoulders are wider too. That's my guess, anyway.


We went out to brunch with Beej's parents on Sunday, so I got to wear my new top along with my (boring) Colette Ginger skirt. I even made the necklace. Everything but the shoes, baby! :) (Except the bra, of course. That's a feat of engineering that I don't plan on attempting....yet.) 

So back to the plantain. I was definitely encouraged by just about everything I read on the internet. So, yeah, everyone on the internet was right. It's awesome and so flattering and just feels really good to wear. It skims without being tent-like. It's magic.  I loved reading Laurence's post on grading Deer and Doe patterns to fit her shape over at the Curvy Sewing Collective. Why should we limit ourselves when all it takes is a little thinking and a bit of math? But, ugh, math...Kidding! As a challenge to myself, I've ordered the Bruyere and will use that as an opportunity to learn how to grade a pattern. What's the worst that can happen?

A few notes for future plantains before I forget:
  • The fabric is a very lightweight sweater knit. I bought it at Fabric Outlet in the Mission (they're having a 40% off sale, btw, until Oct 14th). Fabric Outlet is awesome for selection and super friendly staff, but the bolts don't have ANY information on content. You just have to make an educated guess. My guess is rayon, poly, and spandex. Used 1 yard @ 7.99 per yard X 40% off. So this is one of the few times that sewing is actually cheaper!
  • This is a really great pattern for a slinky, luxe-feeling, fabric to make a great layering tee. That's definitely my plan.
  • No FBA. I went by my high bust measurement based on a blog post by Sewnhenge.
  • I used fusible bias tape for hemming the bottom and sleeves. Not only did it do a good job stabilizing the fabric, but it acted as a built-in measuring guide for turning up the hem evenly. 
  • I'd like to start using the fusible to reinforce my shoulder seams when working with these drapey knits. I wish I had for this one because I can tell it's going to get a lot of wear. 
Okay, that's all. Thank you so much for checking out my make. Have a fantastic week!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Swing Jacket or Pea Coat?


Hello! Hope you're having a great week. I didn't have much time to sew this week, but I did go to circus school Wednesday night, which was a first for me and a lot of fun. I balanced on a giant ball, walked a tightrope two feet off the ground, and practiced juggling.  

I don't have any makes to share because I am deep in decision mode for a fall jacket or coat. It seems that everyone who takes up sewing has coat aspirations at some point. With good reason - coats are expensive and fun to personalize and you get a lot more chances to show off your make. Here's my first, sad, little attempt, accompanied by a sketch, from waaayyy back in 2011. I was probably even proud of it, although I think I only wore it a few DIY goggles.


Those pockets are pretty terrible, aren't they? The coolest part, though, was that I used a silk scarf to line the hood. The scarf was part of a swag bag from when I worked part-time at a museum and was based on a painting by M.C. Escher. Cute idea, just executed really badly. But now that I've had lots of practice and actually understand and utilize techniques like grading and understitching and am working to overcome my fear of sleeves, I'm hoping  this next coat/jacket attempt will be much, much better.

So I've had my fabric for ages - the amber corduroy pictured at the top of this post, with the bee voile (used to make a Papercut Clover and blogged here) as a lining. I  purchased a pattern - the adorable and comfy looking Malu by Schnittchen. I even spent an evening taping the pdf and EVEN made a partial/quickie muslin. It looks like a pretty easy pattern to sew up and "Schnittchen" is just so fun to say, but I kept having this nagging feeling that the fabric I had was really wrong for the pattern. 

The fabric used for the Malu on the Schnittchen website looks really soft and snuggly. Whereas corduroy seems like it would be too stiff, making the shape stand away from my body in an unflattering way. 

And then this happend. 

Sigh. Swoon. Have you seen Masters of Sex? It's pretty good, and the costumes are freaking amazing. I don't really wear retro styles, but this is just such a classic shape. I am completely and utterly smitten. Now there are a few problems since this actress and I have polar opposite body types. Seriously. She is as tall, slender, and small busted as I am...well, not going to reinforce unhealthy body image language, but you get the idea.

But now I'm starting to think that maybe, as long as I have realistic expectations and spend the necessary time achieving a really good fit, I could make something like this work for me. I live in San Francisco, so I never really need a long coat with a hood. But I can always use jackets. And a jacket like this would really come in handy and be nice to have for dressier occasions, as well as with jeans.

So then another thing happened. Colette Patterns had a 30% sale on ALL their patterns if you subscribed to their free hem guide - and why wouldn't you? In fact, here's a link to their hem guide. And I think that the sale is still going on.  I still struggle with remembering which type of hem is appropriate for a garment, and I enjoy experimenting with trying to achieve a professional looking hem, so I, for one, am really excited to have all that info in one handy-dandy guide.

Now, I had been eyeing the Anise jacket for a while  but had dismissed it as too difficult and too boxy. Plus, I wasn't sure about the peter pan collar. 
But me being the impulsive sort, and it was late,, yeah, I bought it, and now I have another ginormous pattern to tape together.  Now my only question is whether I can change the collar from the rounded peter pan to something a bit more angular as shown in the photo below.

Is this even possible? Does that make it a pea coat instead of a swing coat? I was thinking of trying to adapt the pointed collar that came with the Malu to make a frankencoat. Being a sewing novice (still!), I probably shouldn't start monkeying around with patterns that are already a bit hard for me, but I'm really stuck on this coat and want to find a way to make it work. Any thoughts or suggestions? Let me know! Thanks for reading and have a very lovely week.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

V1247 In Apple Green


Hello! Another week has flown by and while most of it was a bit tedious, I did get to spend some evenings working on my very own Vogue 1247, which was lots of fun. (Being a sewing-blogging newbie, I've only just discovered the famed V1247, so I guess this post is so very 2012.)

So far I haven't really loved any of my woven garments (mostly due to the fact that I don't spend enough time fitting and cutting properly). This, however, I love! There are some issues I will detail for my own learning purposes, but, yes, I really really love how this turned out.


And this is the part where I get to feel a little virtuous because I made this top from a thrifted maxi dress. Yes!  See below:


I picked up this sad, little, most-likely-purchased-from-Forever 21 number at my local Goodwill for 6 bucks because I loved the color and it's a garment with so much fabric to practice with. Now that we're heading/or into fall (depending on where you live) this is a good time to pick up second hand maxis (or upcycle your own). The fabric is a thin cotton with a pretty rough texture that I didn't necessarily love sewing, but for me the color makes up for the low-grade fabric. I also didn't have to worry about wasting a more luxurious (and expensive) fabric while trying out a new pattern. So I guess this is a wearable muslin. I ran into some trouble at the shoulder seams, which you can see for yourself here:


My shoulder pleats don't meet exactly and there is too much fabric at the back. Part of the problem is that, despite numerous bloggers commenting on the hugely oversized aspect of this design, I was still afraid that it would be too small for me at the bust. So when I cut the back piece, I cut it folded rather than two pieces and didn't deduct the seam allowance. I thought it would give me more room...and I guess it did. The problem is that everything else sort of shifted. The neck got wider and the front got lower. So low, in fact, that I ended up adding a little modesty panel at the V neck to avoid exposing way too much. There was a bit of a gauzy underskirt on the dress, so I used that for the panel, which I think adds a nice bit of texture. Cutting on the fold did, however, allow me to take advantage of the slit in original garment. I think this top benefits from having the back slit since it's so oversized and flowy. The CB is the only non-frenched seam since it's part of the original. I wonder how one would attempt a slit in a french seam? Hmmm?


I wound up guessing on grainline and bias. I figured that since the original dress looked to be pretty cheaply mass-produced, it was a fair assumption that the skirt panels were not cut on the bias to save on fabric.

And here's an undie pic and some notes on my ongoing quest to perfect my underwear making. In keeping with my upcycling theme this week, the fabric is from an old Banana Republic tee that was ready to be retired.

My notes:
  • I'd like to try another V1247 (and the cute skirt that's included) in a more luxurious fabric next time. I bet double gauze would be lovely. Also, wouldn't this make a fun dyeing project? I could see the segmented panels dyed in different values of the same hue.
  • Next time I would cut AS is except maybe raise the CF about an inch. Also, I would pay more attention to this part of the fit before adding the neck facing. (I'm already pretty lazy about ripping out stitching but even more reluctant to make adjustments with the french seams.) This pattern is really about getting it right in the preliminary stages.
  • I was seriously confused about the shoulder pleats. I was never sure if I was supposed to top stitch them or what. I've seen other versions where sewists have removed them altogether, but I like the extra shaping they add to an otherwise boxy little top. I think they would look better, though, if they were a little closer together.
  • I didn't do the sleeve roll, but I did add the sleeve facing. Found this most excellent sleeve roll tutorial from Salme patterns.
  • Undies - This is a bigger version of what I've been making since this fabric is not a four way stretch. I cut the front and back pieces about 1.5 inches wider. ETA: The extra 1.5 to the width of the front and back pattern pieces made for a perfect fit!
  • I think I'm improving with the elastic sewing part. The trick, I think, is not to pull too much. I can  tell when they look all twisty that I've pulled way too hard on the elastic.
So that's all I can think to note about my most recent make. I may add some notes later when I've worn them a bit. Thanks so much for reading (if you've made it this far), and I hope you have a lovely week.