Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring Sewing and a Couple of Blackwood Cardis

Hey there! Hope you're having a good weekend. Spring is definitely here, and I'm loving it. Summer and Winter don't have a lot of variation here in San Francisco weather-wise, but Spring and Fall never fail to delight me. You can just feel the energy of things coming to life, the quality of the light, the brighter colors. I find myself looking out the window at work and thinking things like, "I should take sailing lessons"or "I wish I was 25 again, hanging out in the park with my friends, and making daisy chains or doing something spontaneous like deciding to explore a new neighborhood or trying to find a hidden stairway or a mural or even a favorite tree."

Okay, so in addition to pondering my misspent (or brilliantly spent) youth, I've also been thinking about Spring sewing plans somewhat, but these thoughts only stay in my head for a moment or so before I move on to something else. Seriously, my attention span is shot. I'm definitely not the same woman who read all three volumes of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. (ETA: My husband read this after I posted and thinks this sounds like I'm bragging, being pedantic, etc. I can see, after posting. SO did not mean it that way. Just can't believe I once had that kind of focus.)... So instead of talking about future plans, I'm going to focus on a couple of completed projects and hope I can remember all the details.

The Blackwood Cardigan is the latest from Helen's Closet and it's a very practical and versatile close-fitting cardigan pattern. I like Helen's blog and her energy a lot. She also uses such lovely fabric, and her makes always feel fresh but still practical...if that makes sense.  I initially hesitated because I already have the Oslo cardi pattern, by Seamwork, but am so glad that I finally caved. The Oslo makes for a more dramatic, oversized sweater, which I do like to wear with a handful of things, but most of the time it sort of feels like it's wearing me. The Blackwood, on the other hand, is a bit more unassuming and therefore more versatile. It also comes together super quick--especially if you have a serger.

I picked up two inexpensive sweater knits from Fabric Outlet for around $10 per yard plus 40% off. (A pic of my most recent haul is posted at the top of this post.) It's a thin knit that snags easily. It's also perfect for this pattern. I went for the long version on both. I had a little trouble with the collar on the army green below. You can see how the bottom curls up because I stretched it like mad to get it to meet. It was just sloppiness on my part and looking at this picture makes me want to grab my iron and steam that shit out. For the black version, I took the extra step to baste the collar before serging and it really paid off. Basting is the best!

At some point I'll probably make the shorter version, but, like a lot of people, I've been loving cozy, long cardis these days. For me, this is really a year-round pattern since I live in cardis at work. (Of course, I wouldn't wear it to work with only a bra underneath like my saucy dress form. :))

Okay, here are the deets before I forget:
  • I paid close attention to Gillian's testing post because we're close in height. She shortened the sleeves by 2" and left the length as-is. The khaki version is just a tidge too long but still definitely wearable. For the black one, I cut sleeves by 2", shortened length by 1" and it feels like a better length. 
  • FBA: I tried that cool "dirtycheater" method even though I'm most definitely a candidate for the full version; I just wanted to try a new method. Verdict: Definitely a good one to have in your backpocket for knits. Also, I'm thinking it might work well with striped fabric since you would still have a chance of the stripes matching. Actually, I don't know that for sure. Any seasoned FBA'ers out there that would like to share their thoughts?
  • Sorry to not have any pictures with a human. I think this is a step backwards for me, but hopefully I'll feel like getting in front of the camera sometime soon. 
  • Size XL with the pattern adjustments noted above.
I had other things I wanted to talk about--Spring sewing plans, some ideation for long-form sewing experiments, etc.--but hopefully with the lighter days and renewed energy, we'll talk soon. 

Have an absolutely lovely week!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Celeste Undies

Hello and happy Monday to you. I had a very relaxing weekend and hope you did as well. The seemingly nonstop rain has finally stopped, and it's starting to feel like spring. Spent a mellow Saturday afternoon replenishing my underwear drawer with Ohhh Lulu Celeste undies. (You're going to have to endure an entire post of me trying to dodge the "p-word." I'll say drawers, knickers, undies, smalls...anything but (shudder) "panties.")

Ohhh Lulu offers a free version of this cute bikini, and I can never resist a free underwear pattern. This one is super easy and fun. So fun that I was a bit bummed when I discovered that I didn't have a lot of large-enough scraps and was frantically going through my clothes, looking for t-shirts I never wear that I could cut up and repurpose.

So, the blue ones are from scraps, and the two green pairs are made from t-shirts that were heading for the Goodwill pile. Last week I took BART to the Mission on my lunch hour for a quick shop at Fabric Outlet--that's Cali-fabric to you online shoppers. I've decided that foldover elastic is overrated and what I really love is picot edge elastic. So I bought 10 yards each of of cream and black for next to nothing. I like having it on hand when I'm in an underwear-making mood.

I guess there's not that much else to say. Here are the deets:

  • Started with the XL and wound up cutting the side seam (between XL and L) in half on all pattern pieces. 
  • I like the full bum and full crotch coverage. Sorry if that's oversharing. 
  • I need to practice sewing the picot so that only the edge shows on the other side. I think they're still cute, though
  • Sewed the first pass at 3.0/2.5 zigzag and the second pass at 4.0/3.0. Seemed to work out okay
I'm already looking forward to making more. In fact, I picked up some super skinny satin ribbon today to make little bows. I think that would look really pretty at the center front. 

Have a lovely week, everybody! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ebony Swings

Hello, Sewing Friends! I'm sorry to have stayed away so long. I missed blogging, I really did, but I've been having trouble motivating myself to do much of anything. I'm just going to be real, here, and say what's on my mind: Living in Trump's America is a big fat bummer. Seriously, every day there is some new fresh horror--immigrants and refugees attacked, our environment attacked, truth and facts attacked. It's overwhelming and demoralizing and, frankly, exhausting. Sigh. Okay, political rant is over. Thanks for indulging me. By the way, I fully understand and respect that people have differing opinions. I just don't think our commander-in-chief understands the concept of respectful communication. Now on to the sewing!

Two things. First, I have a major fangirl crush on Heather of Closet Case Patterns. I love her style, her intelligence, her humor, her realness, so it was a no-brainer that I would snatch up her easy, swing tee knit pattern. Second, an alternative title to this post could be, "Just use the good fabric, already." So let's begin with the pattern first. 

The Ebony is a swing tee/dress/tunic. You could really just take your favorite tee shirt pattern and slash and spread to make your own. However, CCP provides some advantages for purchasing the pattern. To begin with, she offers a raglan version, which is pretty cool. She also has a crop top, dress, and tunic length, as well as various sleeve lengths to stretch your pattern-buying dollar. I sewed up both the raglan tunic and the dress (see below) and found them both to be such a pleasure to sew. Everything fit together perfectly. Also, you can see how differently two different types of knits look. 

So for my first version, the acid yellow raglan tunic, there was a bit of learning curve. Because of my impossible bust, I followed the sizing chart and went with the largest size -- a size 20. Turns out that was unnecessary. There's TONS of ease. I made the tunic to wear for a weekend getaway in Portland in February and the whole time it felt oversized and sloppy--like sleeping in an oversized tee shirt.  I brought the side seams in an inch when I returned, and I'm liking it a bit better, but it's still not my favorite.

I actually fall outside of the sizing chart and still very easily fit into the size 18. That's the size I made the purple version. I can throw it over my head and go. LOVE. This is a seriously easy quickie pattern and you know what? It's an excellent opportunity to use the good fabric, already!

I have yet another Britex gift certificate to spend from my generous bosses, so I've been working through some of fabric I'd been holding onto. First up, this crazy yellow Impressionistic rayon--like Monet on acid. I purchased it from Britex in January 2015, using a gift certificate Beej gave me for Christmas. It's a very drapey stretch rayon that was $25 per yard. I saw it and was obsessed. Unfortunately, this isn't really the best color with my pale complexion. I think I liked the idea of the fabric without considering how it would look on me. 

This purple ponte is another story altogether. I love this knit so much and can't believe I let it languish for so long in my stash. I don't remember how much it was per yard (though my guess is around $35-40), but I do remember that it's a Marc Jacobs fabric. I lightened the photo to give it a little pop, but in real life it's a rich deep plum color. It is definitely a color I lean toward. This fabric has such a wonderful hand. It's substantial without being stiff, has structure AND softness. Seriously, I need more high-quality ponte in my life. 

Finally, here's a few sewing details of note:
  • Ebony Raglan: Sewed a size 20, but brought in by an inch side seams. Since I'm short, I followed Gillian's tack and shortened at the "shorten here" line by 1.5 inches. 
  • Ebony Raglan: Didn't bother hemming the bottom or sleeves. This is a really thin rayon, and I was worried about puckering. Sometimes a clean cut looks best, in my opinion. Also, I was flying to Portland the next day. :)
  • Did something unexpected and interesting with the neckband. Since I cut all pieces on the fold, I inadvertently cut two neckbands and (I must have been on autopilot) sewed them together. Because I didn't want to rip out stitches, I decided to go with a doubled up neckband. In this case, it turned out great. Sometimes drapey rayons can result in floppy neckbands, so I like that there is a bit of underlying structure to help hold its shape.
  • For purple Ebony dress: Sewed size 18 but cut length considerably. (My guess is four or five inches.) I also didn't shorten the torso length because I thought that might serve as a cheater FBA.
  • For purple Ebony dress: Hemming this project was a breeze. It's sort of like a circle skirt, so since I knew I wouldn't be stretching it to put it on, I didn't bother with a double needle or even a zigzag stitch for the matter. I did use fusible bias tape because I love the stuff. It helps keep the hem measured. I considered a zigzag for the sleeves,  but they are a little oversized. I'll let you know if that was a bad decision or not down the road.
So that's all I've got. Hope all is well with you. Have a fabulous week! Don't forget: life is short, use the good fabric! :)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Top 5 Everything: A Final Look at 2016

I know, I know...I'm a little tardy for the year-end-review party. While I haven't been the most prolific blogger this year, I just couldn't let January end without participating in Gillian's blogging tradition of reflecting on one's makes in the top five format. In looking at my top five post for 2015, it's easy to see that 2015 was all about trying a million different things--jeans, bras, coats, sewing with silk--some with more success than others. In contrast, 2016 was more focused on quality or unique fabric finds combined with simple shapes and a lot of TNT, repeat patterns. And I'm fine with that. It's fun to read sewing blogs and see how the various stages of the sewing experience are quite similar for many people. You start off a little overwhelmed, making rookie mistakes with quilting fabric, and experiment a lot while trying to find your style. Then, after your first successful make, you become obsessed and want to make absolutely everything--coats, jeans, lingerie. Then, maybe, you slow down and become more selective and discerning. After all, sewing is time-consuming and you don't want to waste valuable free time trying to make everything or ruin expensive fabric on the latest Indie to hit the blogs...At least, these have been my sewing stages.

Let's start by laying out the positives:

1.) My TNT SJP top

SJP top is done. Glad I didn't hoard this fabric. #frenchseams  #true bias #sutton #suttonblouse

I absolutely love the origin story of this unique fabric and also feel like it really fits my style. It's a TNT for me--a True Bias Sutton, which may be my all-time favorite pattern.

2.) Shibori Knit Mandy Tee

Shibori Knit

This is another example of the fabric really calling to me. I discovered bamboo rayon this year and there's no turning back. Another TNT pattern--the Mandy Boat Neck by Tessuti. I made several Mandys this year and credit the pattern for getting me out of a sewing slump.

3.) Dungarees


This was such an incredibly fun pattern to sew and the dark blue linen is so nice to wear. I had a lot of fun sewing most incarnations of the Marilla Walker Roberts Collection.

4.) Roscoe Blouse

What do you know, another True Bias pattern. This fabric, a bargain find at Fabric Outlet, really appealed to me and matched the requirements of the pattern really well. I also made a sweet, Pegasus version.

5.) More Undies

What can I say? I like making underwear. It's no-stress sewing and a great way to satisfy the need to make something without buying a new pattern or fabric. I made these using  the Seamwork Geneva pattern.

Now on to the not-so-successful makes...

1.) Hot Patterns Halycon Top


I wrote about my first wadder of the year and my attempt to salvage it. Still not quite sure what happened.

2.) Seamwork Perry Dress

Hope this is the type of dress that looks better on...#seamworkmagazine #perry #sewingblogger #sewingclothes

This never made it to the blog. I really like the look of a lot of Seamwork patterns--the cool styling, variety of body types modeling, etc.-- but I think their block doesn't work for me. I did manage to salvage this by removing the elastic waist and turning it into a tunic. It got a lot of wear after being modified.

3.) Deer and Doe Melilot

Melilot in progress #deeranddoeaddict #deeranddoe  #robertkaufmanrosechambray #sewing

Major disappointment here as I love D&D, but something weird happened after my FBA. The collar was way too short. Also, it feels small around the shoulders, and I hate that it doesn't have a yoke in the back.

4.) Navy Pinup Bra

Bra #2

It looks pretty but doesn't fit me. Now that I found a brand of bras I like and fit me really well, I've pretty much given up on bra making. That just means more money and time for making other things.

5.) Itch to Stitch Zamora Blouse

Sweet pattern, but I don't think it's me...#itchtostitch #itchtostitchzamora #indecisione

I knew from the start that the style wasn't for me, but I'm so impressed with Itch to Stitch patterns I tried it anyway. Good lesson in realizing that I know my style better than I think I do....if that makes sense. At any rate, I'm still incredibly impressed with Itch to Stitch. I posted on her Facebook page, suggesting she post a hack on changing the neckline--i.e., without a bow-- and she followed through and posted a detailed modification. How cool is that!

So there it is, my year of making in 2016. Some things didn't make it to the blog, but I think what did gives me a sense of the direction I want to go. Overall, I'm happy enough with the types of things I've been making such as simple shapes, and I definitely want to continue working with better quality fabrics. What I want to change, actually, is the focus of my blog. I'd like to spend more time in the ideation phase and focus on inspiration and technique, rather than just making stuff and throwing it up on the blog. We'll see what happens. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and view my makes. I wish you only the best for 2017!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Velvet Bandwagon

Velvet Bandwagon? Sounds like my stripper name or a '70s tribute band. Anyway, hello and happy New Year! This is seriously just a quickie as my pictures are few and crap, but I do miss blogging so I'm jumping on to tell you about the Hey June Santa Fe top I made. Inspired by this Anthro top and the current velvet trend, I knew I could easily approximate something similar. And unlike the Anthro version, this would fit my body and not cost $88. It's not exactly the same, of course. I didn't buy a beautiful crushed velvet, and the Santa Fe is a raglan, but I was happy to have something festive and even a little trendy for various holiday events. I purchased the blue velvet at Fabric Outlet. It feels a little cold and synthetic on the inside, but I didn't feel like spending a lot of cash on something that probably isn't going to get a lot of wear after the holidays. I think it was around $10 per yard. Apart from making sure to cut all pieces in the same direction due to the fabric's nap, I didn't have any particular issues sewing it up. I went easy with the iron and basted the cuffs and the neckline first. I'm finally learning how awesome and time-saving it is to baste slightly trickier pieces. It's way faster and more accurate than pinning.

I like the Hey June top a lot. I like the swingy shape and the sleeve cuffs. The neckband went in nice and easy. I made version F. There are a million variations, which is an awesome quality in a sewing pattern. I made the largest size (2X) without an FBA. There is tons and tons of ease and that's just what I wanted. 

Alas, my modeling pictures were all crap. Bummer. But I'm going to make another as soon as I can find a knit I adore. (Shouldn't be hard; I have over $300 in gift certificates to spend at Britex. WhooHoo!) So I may blog this again. 

In other news, I made some underwear a while back. These are the Seamwork briefs. I went down a size, though it may not look like it as they're full-coverage undies. I hadn't made the version with different side panels or the lace inserts before, so I thought that would be fun to try. And it was. An added bonus, you can use up even smaller scraps this way! The pair on the left are reversible--polka dots on one side and stripes on the other. 

I hope to do a Top 5 post in the next week if time permits. In the meantime, just wanted to say hello and wish any folks out there a very happy New Year. Cheers!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Me and SJP: We're So Alike


Hello fellow sewing friends! I know it's been a while. I will admit that my paucity of posts is directly attributed to being fully consumed with the election here in the U.S.  And while this isn't a political blog, I will also admit that I'm feeling a great deal of pain over the outcome. Seriously....this. hurts. so. much. I really, really want to work on understanding my fellow Americans and to not paint with broad strokes--that's why we got into this mess in the first place and ended up with, in my opinion, a vile man for our next leader--but this is difficult. I can't understand how so many people could be moved by hateful rhetoric and how those who voted with their wallets were able to overlook this. I'm now thinking of ways I can be more active in my community, which, I guess, is one positive result of this (again, in my opinion) horrible outcome. Sigh...Let's just say the healing is going to take a while and leave it at that....

So on to the sewing! I have been making a few things here and there, but since I got back from Europe in September and was blown away by the amazing textiles, especially the embroidery, I've been thinking about focusing on long-form projects. After all, I have plenty of clothes and don't need to make something new every weekend.

Here's a few pics from my visit to the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest. If you're planning a trip, I highly recommend a visit. It really is a must-see for anyone interested in textiles.





Oh yeah, I should also explain the Sarah Jessica Parker pic at the top of my post. A few weekends back, a friend told me about this textile bazaar happening in my neighborhood. The bazaar was in the basement of St. Anne's church, which is only two blocks from my home. There were all different kinds of textile traditions on display and for sale. It was actually pretty random. Mostly I took pictures, but I did end up buying the remnant pictured below. As you can see it's the same fabric in SJP's dress. I was watching her new show, Divorce, when I noticed this and I couldn't believe it.

Quite smitten with this remnant I just purchased from a textile show happening at the church around the corner from my house. Feels like maybe a rayon blend or poly. Excellent drape. #textile #fabric #sewing #indiesewing

I think it's a rayon/poly blend. Feels cool to the touch. It's quite thin and sheer but not so sheer that you need to line it. I ended up using a TNT-- the Sutton pattern by True Bias-- which is perfect for a chiffon-like fabric. The pattern repeat is small, so I felt I could cut the front in half. Of course I french seamed and baby-hemmed to the best of my ability. I'm sorry I don't have a picture of me wearing it. With the time change and my current schedule and mood, it just didn't happen. If you have a similar body shape and want to see how the blouse looks, check out my previous post on the Sutton blouse. And here's a pic of the final product on Ava.

SJP top is done. Glad I didn't hoard this fabric. #frenchseams  #true bias #sutton #suttonblouse

Well, friends, hope not to stay away so long next time. I will try my best to stay hopeful and kindhearted. Have a lovely weekend!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cashmerette Springfield Refashion


Hey Folks! Happy weekend to one and all!  So Beej and I are back from our vacation. We went to Vienna and Budapest and had the most amazing time. I'm afraid I'm not a very good blogger, though. I don't have any pictures of me-mades against a fabulous backdrop, and I didn't do any fabric shopping, but I did gain a lot of sewing inspiration as well as some much needed rest and relaxation. I can report that the Marilla Walker dress-hack I wrote about last week traveled well. It was nice and cool on hot days and made me feel put together without feeling too dressed up. I also ended up wearing this (below) little skirt most of the time I was there. It's a denim, Vogue 1247 skirt I made last year and hardly ever wear here because it's too casual for work and it's usually too cold to wear on the weekends (even in the summer). The front pockets were very handy for my phone, map, sunglasses, etc.


Okay, enough about my vacation. I'm here today to share my Cashmerette Springfield top, which was refashioned or upcycled (I never know the difference) from an ill-fitting, worn-once, bit of fast fashion that was one coffee stain away from the Goodwill bag. I wasn't planning on buying the Springfield because I don't like to show my arms, but then I realized what a good basic shell it would be and also perfect under cardigans. Turns out, it's also good for re-purposing.

I started with this top from Uniqlo...


I don't indulge in fast fashion very much, especially since I got into sewing, but a while back I was feeling particularly vulnerable after an intense dentist visit and needed a pick me up that couldn't be ingested orally. I didn't even bother trying it on.  After a day of wear at work, I was bothered by the fit around the shoulders and the weird bubbling up of fabric above, and most likely due to, my bust. It looked oversized, but I should have known...

Because I didn't have a lot of fabric to work with, I made the most basic version of the Springfield, size 16 with an E/F cup. I actually made up a muslin (Yes, you read that correctly) in size 18 and from there decided to go down to the 16. I didn't have enough fabric for the yoke, but white is so easy to match. I used a white scrap from my stash with a woven polka dot.


I'm definitely guilty of maker's love or DIY goggles sometimes, and this certainly isn't my best stitching, but I really love how well it fits. There have been plenty of times when I've thrown a new make over my head and pronounced it a great fit, only to notice half way through my work day major gaping and twisting. I've been wearing this all day, and the fit is good. I also have a not-so-flattering (but hopefully helpful) pic to show how it fits around the shoulders and back. Not bad for a woven.
One thing I forgot to mention when I first wrote this: The bust darts hit me high, so I'll need to lower them the next time I make this.


All in all, a very nice pattern. Very easy to sew, a good stash buster, and versatile. I'm looking forward to making a few more out of some scraps and wadders in the future. And speaking of Cashmerette patterns, I was planning to take another crack at the Deer and Doe Melilot for my next project when I looked in my inbox this morning and saw that Cashmerette has released a new button-up blouse. Yay! Talk about perfect timing. I've already purchased, cut, and partially sewn this pattern,  so hopefully I'll have another happy make to share soon. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a few pictures taken on the Chain bridge in Budapest by Beej. I'm wearing my bamboo rayon Mandy tee in the first pic. Thanks so much for reading and have a lovely week!