Friday, November 27, 2015

Be Thankful For What You've Got

A new snugly cardigan #seamworkmag #oslocardigan #roomforstuffing

Wise words from William DeVaughn. Beej and I were singing this song, among others, in the car, on the way over to his folks' house yesterday. It's our own little Thanksgiving tradition. Such a lovely day it was, too. So I wanted to share what I made this week. I'm still practicing with more challenging (i.e. silky) fabrics and have been checking out the scarf section in thrift shops as a fabric option. Scarfs are great to repurpose because the fabric tends to be drapey and, depending on what you're making and how you cut it, you already have a perfect baby hem.




I picked up this 100% rayon scarf at Thrift Town, which just so happens to be right next to Fabric Outlet. When I laid it out and saw the border print on either end, I immediately thought about the Akita from Seamwork and remembered this dress hack. A short while later, I had a colorful tunic/minidress  to wear over a camisole and leggings on turkey day. It turned out to be a very comfortable outfit that still felt a little special. The fabric is really thin, so I ended up making the Seamwork Oslo cardigan to wear over it.


I had been resisting the Oslo cardigan because it looks a little like a bathrobe to me (maybe it's the belted version), but then the temperature dropped and I wanted a comfy cardigan to wear around the apartment. Maybe it's because I had low expectations, but this has turned out to be my favorite sweater. I love the loose weave and the fact that it goes with everything. It comes together really quickly, too.


Just a few notes because everything was pretty straightforward.
  • For the sweater I stitched it together with a zig zag AND serged it for added security. I didn't want to take any chances since it's a really loose weave. I also hand stitched (slip stiched) the hem and I really like how it turned out.  Stitches just disappear into the knit, and it didn't take very much time at all.
  • Speaking of hand sewing, I've discovered beeswax and it makes a world of difference. I set up a little dish of hand sewing supplies on the shelf, next to the couch, so that I have everything when I need it. 
  • The only surprise in the cardigan construction was the length: I cut an XL, which was fine, but I cut the hem length at XS. It's something I do sometimes so that I don't have tons to hem off and also to save fabric (I had 2 yards of the sweater knit even though the pattern calls for 2.5). However, the shawl collar ended up being about four inches shorter than the rest of the sweater, so next time I will cut that piece at an XL. 
  • The only thing I can think of to say about the Akita hack is that when drawing the hip curve, it only needs to be a gradual curve - at least for my body since I don't have much of a waist. My first attempt resulted in quite a bit of fabric hanging on either side, and I ended up stretching out the hem in the process. I'll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for more scarfs to experiment with.
Thanks so much for reading. Cheers!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Undie Upcycle


Hello! Hope you're having a fantastic weekend. It seems that I fell into another rabbit hole this weekend. I decided that before I started my sheer Hot Patterns Acqualina top I should practice a bit with more delicate fabrics. I started working on a couple of camisoles (to be blogged) but wasn't able to get the fit quite right. When I ran out of suitable fabric for a camisole, I turned to underwear. There's something about this time of year that makes me yearn for more soft and luxurious things. Since I didn't have any lingerie materials (e.g. stretch lace, silk, ribbon), I turned to my stash of old, Goodwill-bound clothes and, of course, my scraps.


So I cut up this old Banana Republic top and used the lace and the undershirt. I also used some scraps from this gorgeous rayon that I bought in January. The rayon became a Sutton blouse (unblogged).

Using my last scrap of this beautiful rayon�� #imakemyunderwear #sewing #fabricfiend #britex

The pattern is Ohhh Lulu Grace Panties. Her patterns (and pictures) are soooo pretty. My recent underwear makes have been more utilitarian and less pretty, so it was fun to play around with the lace. Totally botched the elastic...on both pairs dammit..., but they're still wearable. I'd rather move on and make another pair and keep practicing than pick stitches on something so small. I've made this pattern before, but haven't really talked about it in detail.


Just a few notes:
  • This pattern calls for a mix of stretch and woven. I wish there was more info out there about working with knits and wovens together. I'm never sure what kind of knits work best (maybe more stable?). Also, do you use a jersey needle or a standard? Do you have to switch back and forth?
  • I like the first pair better, mainly because I don't like how the serging looks on the pair with the print. I strayed from the instructions a bit. They say to finish the leg openings and then turn and stitch with a double needle. Maybe I should have done that instead of a zig zag. Clearly I need more practice cuz my zig zag stitching is pretty wonky. 
  • Note to self: stitch foldover elastic wrong side first and then foldover to right side. 
  • I used french seams to combine the lace and knit panels. Hope that works out with the mix of fabrics. The fit on these is not super stretchy or tight. In fact, not ideal with leggings. 
I will indeed be making more underwear (although I'll probably mix it up with some different patterns) because I am on a scrap/stash busting mission. Gotta make room for the Christmas tree. Thanks for reading and have a fantastic week. Cheers! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hot Patterns Riviera Acqualina Shirt


Hey There. If you're visiting today because you're thinking about buying the Riviera Acqualina pattern (it's currently on sale) or already bought it but haven't sewn it up yet,  I'm here to tell you to learn from my mistakes and watch this brilliant video before you make your blouse. I like how mine turned out, but in order to make it work I had to take a number of ad hoc measures - all down to choosing the wrong fabric. You have to choose a fabric that is identical on both sides, and to be fair, it does state that on the package envelope - albeit amid a somewhat dense block of text. Totally my mistake, but it wouldn't hurt to have that part in boldface or repeated that vital bit of info somewhere else. Just sayin.



This is my wearable muslin. I plan to make another in a sheer fabric, worn with a camisole, for a dressy holiday top. I cut a size 20 and while I like the way it fits in the back and shoulders, there is way too much volume in the center fold. It looks and feels like I'm smuggling a bag of oranges in there. I think, though, this is partly down to the opaque fabric, busy print, and extra layer of fabric sewn onto one side of the front so that the wrong side of the fabric wouldn't show when I twisted the front.

My inspiration came from Helen in Showtime's The Affair. Have you seen it? It's like a juicy soap/murder mystery - with really great acting and fun plot twists. I'm totally hooked. The show uses a Rashomon story telling device, so Helen's wardrobe changes slightly depending on whose point of view it is, but in general her style is easy, loose and wearable, definitely not trying too hard, but also the clothes always look very expensive. Helen is someone with hippie ideals (maybe a holdover from college), but she's also rich and can afford to wear well-made clothes. They're usually in solid colors, with an unusual, often asymmetrical, detail. Here's a little montage to give you an idea.


You get the idea, right? Totally real-person clothes but on the luxe side. My construction notes:
  •  To compensate for not using two-sided fabric, I had to Frankenstein a few large pieces together to make the fabric double sided. Fortunately, my print is very busy, so it's hard to notice. 
  • I didn't bother with any kind of print matching for this and just noticed that I cut the back the wrong way.
  • The fabric has an excellent drape for this pattern. I think it's a rayon voile but can't be sure as it was purchased at Fabric Outlet. 
  • I didn't make the placket/cuffs because I didn't have enough fabric, but I wasn't planning on wearing it as a long sleeve top anyway. I thought the busy pattern would be too much and wanted to give the eye a rest with a three quarter sleeve, which is, in my opinion, a universally flattering sleeve length. I made sleeve holder thingies instead (Does anyone know what those are called?) and sewed buttons on. Note: the sleeve is tapered, so next time I will cut the sleeve wider at the end so that it rolls up easily. 
  • Sleeves are sewn in flat - Yay!
  • The video explains how to do FBAs, SBAs, and adjusting length, but I made this in a size 20 as is. The next one will not have as much volume in the fold. You can also add a hidden button to ensure that it doesn't gape open, though I don't plan on wearing it without a cami underneath. 
  • For my sheer version, I plan to do a clean finish yoke, french seams for the sleeves, and organza for the collar interfacing instead of fusible.
So that's all I can think of. Thanks so much for reading and have a great week!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Laurel Greenstyle Tunic - Rerun


Hi All! Hope you're having a great weekend. I haven't felt much like sewing this weekend and have been, instead, thinking about redecorating, which means that I'm also thinking about decluttering/stash busting. I love having fabric on hand whenever I feel like playing, but the reality is that I live in a one bedroom apartment. Something's gotta give.

This is going to be a quickie since I already made this pattern and just want to log some notes about some changes that worked for me. Then I'll get back to reorganizing my stash.


Last time I mentioned that I thought it was a little loose in the back, so while I still cut an extra large at the sides, I cut the shoulders, arms, and neckline at a large this time. The result is a much better fit in the back and shoulders. It's altogether a closer fit, but I think that's necessary with this type of style. I don't want to wear tight or revealing garments, but there's no need to shroud myself either. For the tunic, I cut three inches above the tunic line, so that it would fall just below my butt and did a 1/4 hem. I omitted the pockets this time. Knit pockets are cute for posing in pictures, but I never feel confident in their functionality.

I've now used all of my fabric haul from the September Fabric Outlet sale. Yay! Check it out.


fall wardrobe

Clockwise from the top:
Greenstyle Laurel Tunic / Tessuti Mandy Boatneck TeeGreenstyle Laurel (as a dress) / Papercut Waver Jacket

Thanks so much for reading and have a great week!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Waver Jacket Takes Me Back


Hello There! Way back in the nineties I had a slouchy hooded jacket that I loved. It was lined, had snaps and a drawstring, and was made out of a super soft knit (probably something like a ponte). With the exception of using knit fabric, I pretty much recreated my old jacket with the Papercut Waver Jacket. Yay!


Last year, I attempted to make not one, not two, but three pieces of outerwear. All remain unfinished. Sigh. I think where I ran into trouble was straying too far away from the original patterns. But, hey, I learned from the experience. I learned that I really don't like peter pan collars. :) I may actually go back and work on that trench some more since it would be nice over work clothes. With the Waver jacket, I didn't make any changes. It went together very quickly, without the slightest bit of drama. The pattern pieces fit perfectly together, which I think is what people mean when they say that a pattern is well drafted.


Yesterday was the first day it was cool enough to wear a light jacket, so Beej and I went for a walk in the beautiful San Francisco Arboretum and had a little photo session, which consisted mainly of me hissing at him, "here, take a picture of me! hurry, someone's coming!" We love going to the arboretum and try to take a different path each time. Yesterday, we checked out the prehistoric plants.


Here's the back. I don't have any hood pics, but it works the way a hood is supposed to - i.e. it stays on - maybe because it's made from three pieces so it conforms to the shape of a head.


I made this a couple of months ago, during a heatwave, actually, so I'm just now looking back at the pattern pieces to remember what I did. Here are the details:
  •  Papercut patterns run large, and a jacket, of course, has even more ease. This actually worked in my favor since I'm just outside of their size range. Also, with a drawstring waist there's definitely some wiggle room. I cut extra large on the sides of the bodice and back and large at the arms and shoulders and large for the sleeves.  Amazingly, I did not have to shorten the length of the jacket.
  • I don't know very much about the outer fabric since Fabric Outlet doesn't offer a lot of textile info. It has a very subtle herringbone weave of black and blue cotton thread and frayed like the dickens - almost before my eyes. It's also quite lightweight.
  • The lining makes me very happy. It's beige and white polka dot from Japan, also purchased at Fabric Outlet. 
  • My one regret with this jacket is that I didn't interface the hem. The instructions tell you to, but I skipped the step because I was going for a slouchy look. I think it would have still looked casual but more polished and professionally made if I had interfaced the bottom. 
  • Snaps! I was both thrilled and terrified when it came time to set the snaps.  Here is some info and tips that helped me:
    • I used the Dritz heavy duty snaps and the Dritz heavy duty plier kit. I've had inconsistent results with other Dritz products, which made me nervous that I was going to mess up my nearly completed project.
    • Obviously, I bought extra snaps and practiced a bit on some interfaced scraps. 
    • When it was finally go-time for the actual garment, I found that it helped me to separate my top snaps (sockets and caps) from my bottom snaps (studs and posts) into two different piles so that I didn't inadvertently grab the wrong thing. 
    • For the bottom snaps, I pinned the lapel back to help me line things up and to ensure that I didn't apply the bottom snap to the front. You apply the top snap to the right side of the garment and the bottom snap to the wrong side.
Snaps! #waver jacket #sewingblog #papercutpatterns #newclosures

So I think I've said everything I wanted to say about this make. It really was fun, and I'm delighted to have made a jacket that I'm not embarrassed to wear in public. If I find some nice weather-resistant fabric, I would definitely make another one since this one won't help me much if I get caught in a downpour. I also think it would look nice in a stiffer fabric - like a waxed denim or cotton twill.

Thanks so much for reading and have a fantastic week!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Greenstyle Laurel Tunic - Exploring New Shapes


Happy Friday! Hope you're having a great week. I'm currently in Tennessee, visiting my parents, so no sewing is happening. Instead, I'm learning to knit and struggling through a very simple project. I've already unraveled my scarf several times. Oh well,  I thought it would be a portable craft while I'm here, but now I'm wondering if a person can have too many hobbies?
I still have a backlog of projects to share, so today I'm sharing the Greenstyle Laurel Tunic. So, what to say? It's definitely comfortable to wear and easy to put together. I made an extra large. There are three options for the bodice length, and I chose the longest option. I wanted to make sure that there wasn't a line cutting across my bust. I went for the loose cowl version, which I like because it looks nice and clean, but I'd like to try a plain neckband next time.



It's a little too roomy in the back, and not all that flattering from the side (sorry for not having pics), but I do like how it looks from the front. I may try sizing down to a large next time. Maybe I could cut the longest bodice in the front and the mid length one in the back and ease them together? Has anyone tried this?  If I sound less than enthusiastic about this tunic/dress, it's only because I made it a while back and lost my momentum. Also, it's been quite warm, so I haven't had many occasions to wear it. I will definitely make another one. It's a fun quick project, and (for me) I like the shape better than the Moneta for a knit dress.

Which brings me to the subject of silhouettes. There are days when I'm feeling frustrated - when I've had a couple of wadders in a row - and I wonder why I'm doing this. Indeed, I don't have to try to sew my own clothes. In fact, I could save myself a lot of money and time if I gave up this particular hobby. Like most of you, I have a number of different reasons for choosing to spend my time sewing, and I would love to hear yours. One aspect I've noticed recently is being able to explore new shapes on my body. Of course, I can do that in a much more timely and cost-efficient manner by simply trying on clothes in the store, but when I'm shopping RTW my mindset is different. When I'm shopping my criteria is as follows:  Will this top fit my bust? How much does this item cost? Do I think this garment is flattering? Do I like the color/fabric/style? ...By sewing I've eliminated the first two questions and am left to focus on the other two. If you're a long-time sewist, this little revelation of mine is probably obvious, but for me, it's been quite liberating. :)

I don't think the Greenstyle Laurel Tunic is a big departure in silhouette -little to no waist definition and tunic or short dress length, but I've also been thinking (obsessing) about other shapes as well. Take culottes, for example: Part of me thinks this might be a bad look for me, but I just gotta try. :) I would love to wear them with boots during the winter. Or with a long button down (open) over a camisole. Or a button down tucked in with a close fitting cardigan.

Culottes for sure #culottes #sewing #sewingblog

Culotte fantasy #sewingblog #culottes

I'm using the Burda Plus size pattern below. The pattern description notes that this style is flattering to "compact shapes." Ha! We'll see. ;) Any new silhouettes that you've tried lately?

Culottes are going to happen #sewingblog #sewingplans #burda

Thanks so much for reading and have a fab weekend. Cheers!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Akita Upcycle


Hey there! I'm on a blogging roll these days, right? I made another Akita top (Colette, Seamwork, etc.) AKA the easiest top in the world to make. Seriously, I love that it's just one pattern piece.

So before I lay out the details, I wanted to bring up something else. After reading yesterday's post, my husband had an interesting observation about my self deprecating blogging voice. In short, he thinks I'm being too hard on myself when I talk about my sewing fails, etc. I explained to him that sewing is an accumulation of techniques and that I'm making notes so that I can get better. However, I think he brings up a good point and so, as an exercise,  I'm going to try to be more aware of the impact that my words have. I'll start by avoiding words like "failure" and try not to criticize my body. Let's see how it goes. :)

So the top! It's a thrifted maxi turned into a drop waist top. See below:

It's a super bright red... a little too bright.  I sort of wish I had done something creative with the beaded yoke, but I was worried it was going to look too cheap, Forever 21ish, etc. I tried to make a gathered panel similar to my block printed Akita, but since I had never sewn gauze fabric before, I didn't realize that it would stretch out so much. As result my calculations were off. No biggie. I think it's cute and I love the deep side slit. That's my favorite part. Check it out:


After taking these pics, I resewed the side seams so they don't look quite as wonky. The part where the side seam met the bottom panel was looking a bit odd, but it's corrected now. I also enjoyed making the bias tape from some scraps. I'm starting to like bias tape again.

#bias tape #sewingblog


Overall, I'm happy with the top and enjoyed working with a new (to me) fabric.

Speaking of fabric, I would like to share another Akita that didn't turn so well. See what I did there? That's me turning over a new leaf. No f-word. Okay, I was so excited after I made my linen version that I wanted to try another Akita and make it as it was intended - i.e. no bottom panel. So I broke out my beautiful Amy Rhodes fabric that reminds me of Lake Tahoe. That's where I got married, and my husband and I try to visit every year, so I have very special associations with the fabric and was trying to make sure to use it for something I would love.


You see the problem, don't you? I didn't take into account that I was using a directional print, and that's where a one piece pattern like the Akita isn't ideal. So all my lovely landscapes are upside down. Bummer! Oh well, I think I still might wear it. I wonder if people will notice? I did manage to salvage the last bit of that fabric and made a shoe bag for traveling, so I still have a lovely reminder of Tahoe whenever I take a trip...hopefully to Tahoe. :) Thanks so much for reading. Cheers!