Sunday, August 21, 2016

Marilla Walker Roberts Dress Hack


Hi there! Hope you're enjoying your weekend so far. I'm getting ready to go on vacation and have been sewing like crazy in the hopes that I'll have some appropriate things to wear that make me feel fabulous. Sewing for vacations is both fun and funny. I mean, I'm the same person; I'm just going to be in another place. It's like all of a sudden I'm imagining myself like Lauren Bacall on a yacht or something.

So as you can see I'm still obsessed with the Marilla Walker Roberts collection and made both a top and a dress. For the dress hack, I followed this tutorial by What Katie Sews. It was super easy--just lengthen and slash and spread.  Katie even included an illustration. This is why I love blogs so much, that someone would take the time to do that just to help out fellow makers. Pretty awesome.


I really love this and think it will be a perfect addition to my holiday wardrobe. And in the winter, I'm thinking I can wear it with tights and a cardi to work.

The details:
  • I lengthened the shirt 9 inches. It ended up hitting me at the perfect place, so I used store bought bias tape instead of a double fold hem. 
  • The fabric is tencel from Fabric Outlet. I think it was 9.99 per yard. This was my first time sewing with tencel, and I really like the smooth, slightly shimmery quality and how easy it is to work with. However, next time I would like to try a crepe or rayon--something that has a little heavier drape.
  • The dress slips over my head, so I skipped button holes and sewed the buttons through both plackets with my button hole foot. I used a fabric glue stick to keep things in place and taped the buttons down with clear tape, sewing right through the tape. (Another tip from What Katie Sews. Thanks, Katie!)
  • I added side seam pockets, naturally.
  • Even though this was an easy, quick make, I took my time and did lots of clipping and grading. I was inspired by this post on clipping from Sewing on the Edge. I've read about clipping and grading many times, but something about how she explains techniques really resonates with me.
  • Next time I will raise the shoulder seam 1/4 inch. It sits a tad too low, which means I have to wear a cami underneath unless I want everyone to see my bra. If I wasn't such a lazy maker, I would unpick the arms and collar and make the necessary adjustment to this garment, but you and I both know that ain't gonna happen.

So that's it. I also made this Roberts top from some inexpensive embroidered cotton and posted it on Instagram. The only thing I need to note in terms of my sewing diary is that I did not shorten the top--in fact I lengthened it by 2.5" to get the most out of the embroidered border.

Summer holiday sewing #sewingblogger #indiepatterns #marillawalker

I'm happy with both projects but, man, I really love the dress and I think it shows.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

SBCC Limoncello Cardigan and Making My Own Rules

IMGP2305 (1)

Hello Sewing Peeps! Hope you're having a great weekend. As I type this post, I can hear the music from Outside Lands outside my window, and I'm grateful that I'm not out there right now freezing my butt off in the wet fog. Whoever decided to have an outdoor concert in Golden Gate Park in August must not actually live here.

So anyway, I'm super excited to share this latest project with you because it reminds me how far I've come with my sewing. Not because it was a terribly difficult project or because I acquired new skills, but because it represents how far I've come in terms of problem solving. To start, I need to back up a little. Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick (SBCC) was one of the first indie pattern companies I discovered back in 2014 when I first started garment sewing. They were just what I was looking for - not only do they make patterns for petites, but their size range is inclusive to larger sizes.  So I excitedly bought this pattern, the Limoncello cardigan, along with a few others - the Mimosa, the Gibson, and of course I downloaded and sewed up the free Tonic Tee many times.


When I tried making this cardigan in 2014, I failed miserably. Partly because I didn't have enough experience working with different fabrics, but also SBCC instructions are sparse and I needed a lot of hand holding. Now I'm actually cool with the sparse instructions in this case because SBCC is consistent in their approach. They set the expectation off the bat by not giving you a pattern layout (You decide the best way to lay out your pattern.) and having very few markings (You decide where you want your buttons to go.). It's actually rather empowering, and it's better than indies that start off with very detailed instructions, and then seem to give up toward the end.


For this pattern, the recommended fabric (and, in my opinion, obvious choice) is knit but the instructions confused me -- especially as a beginner -- because they seemed to lean more towards woven. In the original version, you cut two center front panels for each side, sew them wrong sides together, and turn. This makes for a heavy front that doesn't want to hold its shape. The overall project is designed to give a clean finish, but that means hemming the back part, which is still pretty visible since it's a cardigan. Also, the instructions have you set in the sleeves, which seems unnecessary for a knit project. If you're a rule-follower like me, these things can cause a lot of confusion.


When I picked up this tissue knit remnant from Fabric Outlet, I thought it would make a perfect summer cardi. (What else can you do with those thin knits? Pajamas, I guess.) I remembered that I had this pattern and also remembered the problems I had, so I  thought about how I could do things differently. To begin with, I eliminated doubling up the front center piece. This works as long as your fabric looks similar on both sides  -- or the other side looks pleasing to you. I ignored the instructions to set the sleeves and just sewed them in flat. They fit together very easily. Finally, to eliminate the back hem I sewed a rolled hem around the entire cardi with my serger. (Remove the stitch finger, set serger tension settings to 4, 5, and 7, and set dials to R.) Fast and easy and well suited to the light fabric. Overall, an easy and satisfying project.

I'm happy that SBCC is back on my radar. I still love the proportions of the Gibson blouse and would love to try to make it again now that I have a few button up blouses under my belt.

Well, that's all for tonight. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dungaree Dress

Just enough linen left over for two dinner napkins. Perfect. #marillawalker #dungareedresses #sewing #linenisawesome #scrapbusting

Hello! Hope you're having a fab weekend. So as you can see, I'm not yet finished with Marilla Walker's Roberts Collection. And there's a whole jumpsuit to make as the hacks. OMG, I could spend the rest of the year sewing Roberts hacks and Mandy boat necks and be happy as a clam. I'd certainly be very comfortable.

Okay, so after that giant rave, why no picture of me modeling my dungaree dress? Honestly, it looks better on Eva than me. Yeah, I'm dissatisfied with how I look in it. My husband thinks it's cute but that the color doesn't really do anything for me. He may have a point. But also...I wish the skirt had gathers or box pleats or something to give it a little swish. Instead, it feels a bit stiff like a bbq apron. So if I try making it again, which I may, I think I'll try to hack the skirt and also choose navy blue or black fabric. I will say, though, that it kept me very cool when I went up to the Sacramento delta last weekend. I have very few warm weather clothes; this will be nice to have for those rare hot days.


Some sewing deets:
  • I went down a size (to a six) so it wouldn't be too oversized. (It was still pretty oversized.)
  • Since this is a dress, there are no bathroom issues and therefore closures aren't really necessary. I didn't have snaps or buttons in the color I wanted, so I just left them off and sewed the flap closed and the straps down. 
  • Fabric is a beige linen purchased Fabric Outlet during one of their 40% off sales. They were earmarked for a pair of Tessuti demi pants. Maybe that would have been a better use of the fabric... Digression: I really dig the Tessuti look and the easy, no-fuss style. It's more mature than I'm used to, but probably also more appropriate for me.  

Bonus! I had just enough linen leftover to make a pair of dinner napkins.  Probably want to make sure the blue pattern is facing up if I'm wearing my dungaree dress and have one of these napkins in my lap.

Well that's it for me. Thanks so much for reading and have a happy week!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

All Blue All the Time

The Mandy boat neck by Tessuti was meant for stripes. Super soft bamboo rayon knit from blackbird fabrics. ❤️❤️#tessutifabrics #blackbirdfabrics

Hello! Hope all is well. Just popping onto the blog to share a couple of tops and my current fabric obsession. So the above pic is yet another Tessuti Mandy Boat Neck in a super awesome bamboo rayon from Blackbird Fabrics. I've always liked wearing blue, but lately it seems that all I ever want to wear are variations of black, blue, and white. All the time. It's actually really great having such a limited color palette. I'm dressed in no time. Funny, I spend so much time thinking and planning the making part of clothes in an effort to speed up the dressing part.

I'm super excited about all four of the rayon bamboo knits I purchased from Blackbird, but the stripes are definitely my favorite. The shipping was quite fast, and while I paid extra for shipping from Canada, I really felt it was worth it because the fabric is gorgeous and probably would have cost even more at Britex. (At least that's how it was when I compared prices for my Shibori knit.)

Simple sewing on a Sunday morning #sibilance #marillawalker #robertscollection #sewing #sewingbloggers #cottonandsteelfabric #rayon

This second top is from the Marilla Walker Roberts Collection.  I knew I would have to try it, although, honestly, I didn't have high expectations because it's so simple. Also, an oversized pullover v-neck always looks a bit like hospital scrubs. So I used this Cotton and Steel rayon, which I sort of regretted buying on a whim during a sale. The fabric feels great, but I'm really into darker blues right now. The color's just not floating my boat. I thought it would be good for a wearable muslin, though, and I think with a few tiny tweaks this pattern might be a TNT for me.


I was imprecise in sewing my shoulder seam. Well, actually, lazy to be honest. The pattern calls for a 1.5 cm for plain seams, but since I was sewing french seams, I just sewed half inch (i.e., two quarter inch seams) because it was easier. That extra bit of seam allowance would bring it up and fit the neck/shoulders a little better. As it is, it fits pretty well, but I'm making note for next time when I make it with fabric I really like. I also shortened the bodice about an inch, which I maybe don't need to do. It's a petite adjustment, and with some patterns it's been a good adjustment for me, but I'm more of a short-legged short person rather than an overall petite.

The top is very similar to the True Bias Sutton, which I've made several times and is a TNT for me. It's actually nice, though, to have both patterns because there are some important distinctions:
  • True Bias Sutton:
    •  Sharp front V-neck is achieved by two front bodice pieces sewn together.
    • Yoke/back pleat detailing (my favorite part!)
    • A bit more of an a-line shape makes it a little more swingy
    • Neck binding as opposed to a facing
  • Marilla Walker Roberts Top:
    • Can cut front on the fold and therefore feature a bold/large scale print
    • Can use the button placket from the jumpsuit to make a button up (or faux button up) to break up large expanse of fabric and get away from scrubs look. 
    • Cool triangle seaming in back 
    • Very hackable - can see tunics, button-ups, shirt dresses, etc. Simply poke around What Katie Sews and you will find much Roberts hacking inspiration.
Next up: Vacation Sewing! I'm thinking the dungaree dress would be a perfect vacation dress. Hope you're enjoying your summer and thanks very much for reading!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Marilla Walker Roberts Collection: Dungarees


Hey there! Hope you're having (or had) a relaxing weekend. I just woke up from a little siesta on the couch and am feeling pretty refreshed. I was wearing my new Marilla Walker dungarees - i.e., the height of comfort - so it was easy to fall asleep. It's always a good sign when the thing you're making is the thing you want to put on immediately and never take off. I want to LIVE in these!

I remember liking the Roberts collection when it came out but resisted it for the very silly reason that I felt like I was too old to wear overalls. You see, dungarees and I have a history. Put me in some Doc Martins and a black body suit and I am back in my 90s heyday. Whoo hoo! I can hear the Nirvana playing and the crack of the billiard balls, smell the beer...and, ahem, other substances.


...Of course, the 90s were quite some time ago. But what I like about this pattern is that there are some decidedly modern elements that weren't in the pair I lived in all those years ago. I love the minimal details, the super skinny straps, and the tapered back. I also love that it's not in a stiff denim, but rather a fluid Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer linen in navy blue.  The other thing I like about this pattern is ALL the variations. I love the little overall dress and, of course, the top. I even like the jumpsuit, though I'm not sure if I have the confidence to pull it off. That's a lot of variety in one pattern.


I used 5/8" heavy duty snaps (or poppers) for the straps and for the side flap. Sewed the flap on the wrong side. D'oh! It's the kind of the thing you would notice after the 10th trip to the ladies room. Fortunately, though, I really just need to unsnap one of my straps. I ended up inserting the snaps the wrong way, sigh, more than once. It's a huge pain in the ass to remove a set snap. So when I made the same mistake again on the strap I decided I could live with it. It really only bugs me when I see a picture of the back view.


Both straps are twisted in this picture, but that's on account of sloppy dressing, not faulty snap setting. The construction is pretty simple. I made a 7 (second to the largest size) and shortened the space between the waist (?) and crotch  by one inch and the legs by two inches. At first I was rushing to finish by Tuesday so I could wear them to a work event - a team-building night that involved bowling. Many seams were sewn incorrectly and ripped out because of my rush. Then I started thinking about all the possible wardrobe malfunctions that could occur while bending, stretching, swinging a bowling ball, etc. in a newly and hastily sewn garment and decided to slow down.


I'll leave you with a picture of me and my buddy Eva. We're not perfectly matched body-wise  as she has a flatter stomach and far fewer lumps and bumps, but at least I have a better butt. :)

Have a lovely week! Thanks so much for reading.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Fabric Crush: Shibori Knit

My weekend plans #shibori #knit #britexfabrics #fabric #sewing #sewingblogger

Hello! This is just a quickie because I made another Tessuti Mandy Top, and there isn't much to say about the pattern except I love it. The only change I've made is to lower the neckline a bit so it doesn't hit me at an uncomfortable place at my throat. Other than that, the pattern's aces.


Here's a heading-to-work snap. I basically ambushed my husband on the way to our streetcar stop. The element of surprise is useful sometimes. I'm on a big knit kick as I credit it with getting me out of my sewing slump. The fabric is a bamboo rayon with bit of lycra (maybe 3-5%) from Britex. I had noticed it on an earlier trip but decided on purchasing this amazing linen (pictured below) instead.


But the shibori fabric stayed in my head, which, incidentally, is a good way to decide on fabric purchases. Then I saw a Me-Made pic of Caroline of Blackbird Fabrics. (I love her blog - such pretty pictures, but she also keeps it real. I've noticed that kind of down-to-earth vibe with other Canadian bloggers as well.) She had made this absolutely lovely Mandy boat neck, using what I'm fairly certain is the same fabric. So I straight up copied her.

She doesn't have anymore of the shibori knit, but Britex does so I ended up using the remainder of my gift certificate. I did some price comparison and was happy to find that her fabrics are totally reasonable (her shibori knit was priced lower than Britex). The Canadian priority shipping is under $19. Since I'm totally addicted to bamboo rayon now, I put an order for four different bamboo rayon knits in and can't wait for it to arrive next week.

In love with bamboo rayon. #seamworkmag #seamworkmakes #seamworkgeneva #sewingblogger

I'll end with a pic of my underpants. This fabric is so pretty and feels so lovely against my skin that I wanted to be sure to use as much as possible. The pattern is the Seamwork Geneva, which is just a basic brief - very comfortable. I'm a bit out of practice sewing elastic, so I referred to this elastic tutorial by Emerald Erin (yet another cool Canadian blogger).

So that's it. Nothing new pattern-wise, but it's nice to have a couple of garments I feel really good about. Have a great weekend and thanks so much for reading!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sewing Slumps and TNTs

Almost finished with my #deeranddoepatterns lupin.just need cuffs and top stitching. #sewingclothes

Hello! It's been a while hasn't it? Hope you're doing great and enjoying your weekend so far. So, after listing my somewhat ambitious spring sewing plans almost two months ago...nothing, not  a peep. I'm chalking that up to a major sewing slump and an inability to finish my projects due to not being present. I've been sewing lots, but I'm not paying close enough attention to what I'm doing, being sloppy, etc. I've just been focusing most of my energy on my job because it's still relatively new and there's lots to learn. No big deal, life happens and hobbies have to take a backseat sometimes.

So here's a recap of some of my projects and where I'm at with my spring sewing plans.

The top pic is the Deer and Doe Lupin jacket that I outlined in my last blog post and I've been almost finished for weeks now. Seriously, all I have to do is the top stitching and the cuffs, but I'm afraid I'll mess up the top stitching. I think I might take a look at my special sewing feet to see if I have an edge stitch foot or something to help. I also reviewed these tips from the Colette blog (too much work to try to spell the real name) the other night to help shore up some courage.

Melilot in progress #deeranddoeaddict #deeranddoe  #robertkaufmanrosechambray #sewing

And here we have another UFO -- the Deer and Doe Melilot blouse. I've since added the collar and that's where I ran into some trouble. The FBA worked out great, and most pieces fit together nicely, but somewhere along the line my collar came up way too short. I did forget to stay stitch the neckline (see, not being present here), but I can't imagine that it would stretch out THAT much. Anyhoo, I made a little pleat in the back to get the collar to fit, but it all just feels a little sloppy. Not just the collar but also the the sleeve cuffs don't fit exactly.  I'm trying to decide if I need to rip out some stitches and redo some parts. I've learned that a half-ass project won't get worn, so I guess writing that bit just helped me make up my mind. :)

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

Next up is the Itch to Stitch Zamora blouse in the same fabric as the Melilot. I really love this Robert Kaufman rose chambray - so lovely to sew with - so I hope I can save at least one of these projects. Itch to Stitch sewing instructions are so amazingly detailed yet concise, and everything went together well, but I ended up just feeling very frumpy with the bow tie. I did not feel like Joan of Mad Men at all. Of course I knew about the bow going in, but I wanted to give it a try anyway.

Any suggestions for how I could make the #itchtostitch Zamora without the bow? I was letting myself be open...but front bows are not a good look for me. Love everything else about it, though. #sewingblog #sewingclothes

Here I have it on my dress form with the bow tucked in. Doesn't it already look so much better? Now this is why I'm such a fan of Kennis Wong and her Itch to Stitch patterns: I left a comment on her facebook page, asking if she would ever consider posting a hack for another neckline option and, well, she did! Talk about listening to your customers! She also posted a tutorial for raising the neckline, which would have to be done first. i.e., some major reconstruction efforts on this blouse. But it's great to have that option and I can always try again with new fabric.

So that's where I'm at with my woven projects. Lots of sewing with just a few bumps in the road. One thing I learned, though, is that I can always turn to lovely, lovely knits to combat sewjo. They are the best for a satisfying project.

First of many #concordtshirt (s). I love the sleeve tabs. #cashmerettepatterns

First off, I made this Concord tee pictured above and can't wait to make more. Just waiting for the appropriate knits to arrive in the mail. I'm sorry I don't have more pictures of me wearing this project; they were all heinous. But here's a detail of the sleeve tab. It was a reversible knit fabric, so I just had to do something fun.


I love how Cashmerette (Jenny) really thought about what's already out there and what she could bring to the table that would be different. The multiple bodices are definitely the most awesome part, but the sleeve tabs, hem facing, and multiple necklines are great, too. It's just so nice to have so many options. I wish I had bought the pdf instead of the paper pattern, though, because of all these options. I guess I prefer taping to tracing.


Finally, if you're in sewing slump because of a string of problematic projects, or you're just too damn busy with life to have a lot of time or focus for sewing, a good old (free!) Mandy Boat Neck tee by Tessuti in a fun stripey fabric will never let you down. :)

There's more to share, but I think I'll sign off for now. Don't want to talk your ear off. :) Will be back soon. Thanks so much for reading and have a fabulous weekend!