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!



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!