Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Found Object


Well Hello! I hope you're doing well and had yourself a fantastic weekend. Beej and I went to see a really stellar performance of True West on Friday. And then on Saturday, we went to see an art exhibit at Green Citizen that my dear friend, Nikki Contini of Fusing Fun Art, curated, created art for, and organized. The focus was on teaching kids to recycle/upcycle. It was a very sweet event with lots of cute kids and colorful art.


Speaking of upcycling, I have a non-sewing make to share in the above pic. The weekend before, when I was in the Marina, I found an earring in the grass. Yeah, I'm totally not above bringing home stuff I find on the ground. Anyway, I've been crushing on those cute brass pendants from Madewell, but I just can't bring myself to pay $40 for something so trendy. So I gave it a soapy scrub, along with some hydrogen peroxide, snipped off the earring part, and attached it to some chain I had in my craft supplies. I think it might look cute with some of the super simple tops I like to make and wear. 


And the tee shirt in the above pics is the same one I wore underneath my plaid Bruyere in last week's post. Not too much to say - it's another plantain. I love it, but I totally mangled the neckband at the back. Fortunately, I don't have to look at the back of my neck or the inside of my shirt. It's a shame, though,  because this was THE most expensive fabric I've used to date. (I know, I just talked last week about how I don't pay much for fabric. This was special because I was using a Britex gift certificate I got for my birthday.)  It's 100% viscose, which I've recently learned is a high-end Italian rayon, and was 24.99 X 30% off. It feels fantastic, but I'm a little sad to say that there are two tiny holes near the sleeve. I don't think the holes are associated with my sewing or sleeve insertion. I'm thinking about putting a bit of black interfacing behind the holes to prevent them from getting bigger, but I'm also afraid of making it look worse. Here are a few things I've changed in my tee shirt construction:
  • I'm starting to sew in my sleeves before serging. It's more accurate and really not that much more work. 
  • Fusable bias tape  is awesome. I wouldn't use it on a part that gets stretched (like an armhole or neckband, but it's great for hems.
  • I'm back to two needle/four thread for my serger.
So that's it. I have a few more garments to share, but it's too dark for pictures when I get home from work now, so it'll have to wait until the weekend. It's been over six months of straight sewing now, so you'd think that I have tons of clothes, right? Not so. My standards are getting higher. As a result, some of my earlier tops don't get much wear. And some have gotten so much wear that they're starting to show it too much.  But that's a good thing! Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Monday, November 10, 2014



Hello! Hope you had a lovely weekend and your new week is off to a great start. Beej and I actually got out for a bit this weekend for brunch at Greens and an art exhibit at Fort Mason, which gave me an opportunity to wear my first Deer and Doe Bruyere tunic.  Let me just get this out of the way: I made a number of silly mistakes, resulting in a button-down that's too big, but I still like it.  The relaxed cotton fabric lends itself to a casual feeling, so I'm okay with it being slouchy weekend wear. It feels a little like the 90's (a decade I remember all too well) but also with a twist.  I'm nearly finished with another version in a crisp cotton and have followed the instructions to the letter. The results are much different. Should I have gone for an easier fabric in a solid rather than plaid? No way. Once I saw this awesome, super loud, cotton-blend plaid at at Discount Fabrics for 6.99 a yard, I simply could not get the idea of a plaid Bruyere out of my mind until I had made it. Sometimes that's just the way. More and more I'm finding that rather than making muslins, I'm making first drafts. I don't do a careful enough job in terms of cutting or sewing on a muslin (the way I do with my fabric), so it doesn't help me all that much. I also don't get a clear idea what something's going to look like  because I rarely have a muslin fabric with similar characteristics.  And since I almost never spend very much on my fabric choices (like $7 or $8 a yard at the most),  I feel okay with working with my intended fabric. It's not like I'm being all cavalier with fancy silks or wool blends.


So let's start with all my mistakes. Not because I feel the need to publicly shame myself, but because I'm hoping to learn by taking notes. And if you were planning on trying this pattern and sometimes make silly mistakes like me, maybe I'll save you some time and/or frustration. Happy to oblige.
  • The FBA worked out fine in terms of making room for my ample bosom, but the side dart is way too high. The one part of the FBA that still confuses me is repositioning the dart.
  •  The box pleats on the front aren't actually box pleats, but rather tiny gathers. I've had a similar brain fart in the past with box pleats for some reason. Here's what I did: you know how the pattern has different cutting marks made up of dot/dash combinations depending on your size? ..... or _..._..._ or ------- ? You get the idea. I cut two similar looking dotted lines from each set of pleat markings and made four tiny gathers by mistake. Naturally, this affected the size, but since I'd graded out at the waist, I thought it was working out fine. Silly, I know.
  • Here's the silliest of my silly mistakes: I sewed the button hole/button on the same side of each sleeve, which totally reminds me of Eugene Levy as Gerrie Fleck in Best of Show. Instead of two left feet, I have two right cuffs. hehe :)
  • Speaking of cuffs, I didn't understand the directions on the first go and sort of thought of them as tee shirt cuffs. Not the same AT ALL. On my second, soon-to-be-blogged Bruyere, the instructions made perfect sense when I read them.
  • It's really important to make sure the placket is folded in a back-and-forth (accordian) manner. I folded mine in half and then folded both sides in, which isn't exactly the same. It's a simple fix to change this if you find you've done the same thing.
  • I went off script and used the burrito method on the yoke, which messed things up when I got to the placket/collar/facing. The instructed method actually works great - something I'm appreciating with Bruyere #2. That's the thing with this pattern: The instructions are great/clear as long as you follow closely and don't skip any steps. I've only made one other button-up ( a Negroni for my husband), so I don't know what I was thinking going all rogue. 

But at the end of the day, it all worked out fine. Like many of my projects, it's, um, *weekend wear.* It's still a marked improvement from my earlier projects, that were either *sleepwear* or *no-wear.*  I had a lot of fun making my first Bruyere and I loved wearing it on our little outing yesterday. BTW,  forgot to take pictures of the back view. Sorry. There's not much to see except by then I had figured out the box pleats.

Also, the brown tee underneath my shirt is another Plantain made by yours truly. I love that free pattern so very much. Do you also find yourself wanting to make some quickie projects after finishing something more complicated? Speaking of quickies (super awkward segueway, I know) here are a couple of pairs of Cake Espresso leggings. We're moving into the time of the year when our apartment is cold ALL the time. Seriously, that's the downside of old San Francisco apartment buildings. You get hardwood floors and charming architectural details, but you pretty much freeze your butt off for most of November and all of December. I will live in these leggings.
Some cotton/spandex daisies from Wanderlust fabrics. 

And some olive spandex cotton - also from Wanderlust. This knit is thicker than the daisies. I also made a tee out of this green knit, but did such an abysmal job with the neckband I didn't bother to photograph it. It's *workout wear.* :)


That's all I've got. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Monday, November 3, 2014



Hello! Hello! I hope you had a fabulous weekend. Most of mine was spent binge watching English costume dramas and sewing. Hot off the heels of my first successful bodice modification in a woven fabric,  I couldn't resist making another Sureau....like, immediately.  I think I'm turning into a middle aged Deer and Doe fangirl - Squee. Above is my latest - a Sureau in black.


I know, I look pretty pleased with myself don't I? I'm just really happy. It's hard to find dresses to fit me. They're either too tight in the bust or too long in the arms and I'm swimming in them, making me feel frumpy and dumpy. So this is awesome for me. I'm not being overly dramatic when I say that learning about full bust adjustments has been absolutely empowering - a real game changer. And I know that I need to continue to work on fitting, but I also think I see a benchmark in my progress. I never thought I liked to wear dresses, but I guess I just hadn't met the right dress.


A rare view of the back of my arms. I think the fit is pretty good, as I usually have way too much room in the back. I've worn this to work twice now, and it's been comfortable to sit in all day. However, I do wish I had lined it because I don't like to spend the day tugging at my skirt to make sure it's not riding up.  I opted to leave off the sleeves because the fabric is a little crisp, and I was worried they would be puffy. Plus, I already know I will always wear it with a cardigan cuz I know me and what I like to wear. The one thing I need to do, though, is trim down the back of the facing, which peeks out a little bit.


Some quick notes before I forget:
  • The fabric is a black shirting purchased a while back from Fabric Outlet during one of their awesome 40% off sales. I bought it to make a shirt for Beej. Oops. 
  • This time I had faith that the bodice would fit and sewed up the side seams using the correct 5/8 seam allowance. I folded the skirt pattern piece up about 2" about two thirds of the way down AND cut the bottom hem at the size for a 36. The result was only minimal hemming. A turned up serged edge basically.
  • I put in a regular zipper and it was SO freaking easy. I don't think an invizible zip is all that necessary since it's on the side so not very visible at all.
  • I splashed out and bought vintage glass buttons made in Germany from Britex. They were $1.25 each and are SO much nicer than plastic buttons. Here's an over-exposed picture so you can see the buttons up close. (Funny, I never would have thought I would ever get excited about buttons.)
  • IMGP0976
Oh, and I wore my purple Sureau as part of my Halloween costume. Originally, I had planned to make a crazy Rankin Bass Mrs. Claus dress with puffy shoulders, etc., but I decided to be more judicious with my sewing time and make something I'll get to wear on other days of the year.

"Who ever heard of a skinny Santa?" I even made a plate of "grey food" to carry around as a prop.
So that's it! Thanks so much for reading and have a fantastic week.

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.