Giveaway + Review: Spiegel 60609 Sewing Machine

8 Feb

Spiegel 60609

A few months ago, I was contacted by Spiegel (yes, the catalog company!) about trying out a new machine that they were in the process of manufacturing. “Free sewing machine” is one of the quickest ways to grab my attention (don’t even lie, you’d do the exact same thing), and I was especially intrigued when they told me the price point was under $300. Y’all know I’m a diehard for my Bernina & Pfaff machines, but we all know that a budget is a very real and personal thing, and not everyone can afford to spend $2k+ on a piece of machinery – no matter how much you just looove sewing. I get that – I was in the same position myself for a very long time. That being said, it’s hard to recommend something at a lower price point when most stuff in that category is just pure awful. Even $500 is a lot of money for a lot of people, and that’s about the bare minimum that I could comfortably recommend for a new/non-vintage machine. Super bummer. Sewing should be for everyone, not just the people with bulging bank accounts.

All that being said, I am pretty excited about this Spiegel 60609 machine! I will admit that I was pretty apprehensive about it’s potential shortcomings before I had a chance to try it out for myself – yes, it is a beautiful machine, but it is a polished turd? I was lucky enough to see the machine before it hit the stores way back in November – I stopped by the Spiegel headquarters while I was in NYC and spent a couple of hours being wooed with sewing machines and chai lattes, yay – and I’ve had this particular machine taking up residence in my sewing room since December. We’ve had some time to really get to know each other, and things have been pretty awesome. Spiegel 60609 is good stuff, y’all.

Spiegel 60609

A quick overview of the machine – Spiegel 60609 is a computerized machine with over 350 built-in stitches, plus the option to download more stitches via iTunes and Google Play. It has plenty of standard and not-so-standard features – automatic start/stop technology (as in, you can sew with the press of a button instead of using the foot pedal), one-step button hole, speed control, twin needle capability, automatic needle threader, presser foot pressure dial, to name a few. It also has some very unusual, very cool features – it has a built-in Wifi station, which connects to the StitchCam located over the needle (!!!). The little gold shelf you see is designed to hold your cell phone or tablet, and there’s a Handy Hook that pops up to really secure things in place so they don’t bounce around while you’re sewing. Ideally, you’d have your phone up there to access tutorials on the Spiegel sewing app – but personally, I use it to watch Netflix while I’m sewing :P BECAUSE I CAN. Oh, yeah, and there’s a USB port in the side of the machine, which is super handy for recharging your phone after you’ve used up the battery on a bunch of X-Files episodes. Ahem. And the most important part – the stitch quality! It’s surprisingly good. Like, really really good. My only complaint is that the throat plate doesn’t have a lot of markings for seam allowances, but that can easily be rectified with strips of tape (or, in my case, Post-It notes).

Unlike most budget-friendly machines, the Spiegel 60609 actually has a heavy-duty metal frame (no plastic! Rejoice!) to keep it from bouncing around all over your table when you’ve pushed things to their highest speed. This metal frame extends all the way into the handle – so you can actually use it to carry the machine, instead of holding the whole thing like a baby (go ahead and laugh, but about a year ago, the plastic handle on my Bernina snapped in half and I dropped it on the ground. It’s fine now – it was fixed under warranty and the machine was not harmed, but MAN ALIVE that was a horrifying moment). It comes with an impressive array of included accessories – several feet (including a zipper foot, overcasting foot, blind hem foot, button hole foot, and non-stitch foot), extra needles and bobbins, screwdrivers, and quilting guides. It is my understanding that the machine was designed to be compatible with most standard low-shank feet (of course, neither of my machines have those kinds of feet – the Bernina is high-shank, and the Pfaff is one of the old German ones that *only* uses special Pfaff feet). I believe Spiegel is in the process of getting together a box o’feet that you can buy to use with the machine, though, if you’re in the same boat I am. I totally have a foot fetish when it comes to sewing machines, so I am pretty pumped about that!

The Spiegel 60609 retails for a hair under $300, and is available at Walmart (either in-house at your local store, or you can order online and ship free to your store) and also through Spiegel. While I do advocate supporting your local sewing machine store by purchasing through them, I understand that not everyone *has* a local sewing machine store, or can afford a $500 base model. Let’s be perfectly clear here – this is not a substitute for that high-end, several thousand dollar specialty machine. However, it is a great not-quite-so-basic machine that is perfect for a beginner, in a price range that works with a lot more budgets. Plus, it’s super pretty. Look at that fancy gold and white and tell me that’s not a beautiful machine. I dare you.

Spiegel 60609

Spiegel 60609

Spiegel 60609

Spiegel 60609

Spiegel 60609

This post would be pretty useless without some proof of stitch quality, right? Here are some quick tests I did. I realize now that I should have included some comparisons of Bernina vs Spiegel – I will next time!

Spiegel 60609
For this one, I lengthened the stitches by a couple mm and used a different color thread for the bobbin. The fabric is an old sheet, so it’s pretty sturdy.

Spiegel 60609
Here are the stitches on a much more delicate fabric – some *very* lightweight Liberty of London cotton/silk voile. Still no skipped stitches and no puckers.

Spiegel 60609
Finally, a sampling of some of the embroidery stitches and another shot of the straight stitch. Not too shabby!

Spiegel 60609

With all that being said – I’ve decided to partner with Spiegel, so expect more 60609 love throughout the year! I will be sharing monthly projects and tutorials, all of which are sewn on the Spiegel 60609, to show how versatile the machine is. That is, if I haven’t convinced you already :) I will still be using my other machines as well for other projects (let’s be real, those are my babies and I ain’t planning on dumping them off!), so don’t expect this blog to turn into a giant sales pitch. But if you want to see more of what the machine is capable of doing – well, I have some plans in the works! :)

Ok! I think I’ve talked long enough – let’s have a giveaway! Spiegel has generously donated a second machine which will be sent to one lucky winner :D Woohooo, thank you, Spiegel!! To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is a leave a comment on this post and tell me the first project you’d sew on your new Spiegel 60609. You MUST leave a valid email contact to be eligible (please please please. You can comment as anon and hide the email address so that only I can see it – but I need that email! Otherwise I can’t contact you if you win), but that’s it! This giveaway is open WORLD-WIDE and I will close the comments a week from today, on MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2016 AT 7:00 AM CST. Consider it a belated Valentine’s Day gift ;)

Spiegel 60609

Good luck, everyone! β™₯

Completed: Fancy Silk Georgette + Brocade

2 Feb

Here’s something a little different than my normal meat-and-potatoes (mmm… meat and potatoes) sort of dressing – FANCY GARB. YAY!!

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Also: SNOW! Like, holy shit it snowed soooo much last weekend! I had a nice snow-in for a few days (it’s true that Tennessee all but shuts down when the snow comes in – but, before you make fun: we don’t have snow tires, we don’t know how to drive in it, and the roads are not properly salted or cleared so they’re actually pretty dangerous. Also, come and deal with our 100* heat in August ffs. Ok, soapbox off haha), which was even better considering that I basically was in a Winter Wonderland. We ended up with a little over 6″ – y’all, I can’t even remember the last time I saw that much snow. Shit was crazy. Also, it all melted within like 3 days, and then the temps went back up to 65*. Yay I love Tennessee and it’s fickle weather haha.

Anyway, I wasn’t planning on taking snow pictures – it was obviously very very cold outside, and so bright that I could barely keep my eyes open (sorry in advance for all the squinty haha). But the indoor lighting was just terrible, so I took one for the team and tromped outside. You are welcome.

Ok, back to the real subject of this post!

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

I made these two pieces about a month apart, so I didn’t actually wear them together for NYE – although I definitely wanted to. Considering I didn’t start sewing for the party until a few days before the end of the year, I knew that shirt would not turn out nice if it was rushed. So I focused on the fancy skirt, and wore it with a fuzzy black sweater knit Renfrew (you can see a photo of the outfit on Instagram). It was the perfect New Year’s Eve outfit for my plans – reasonably warm, yet stylish, and had these big pockets so I could carry my phone, wallet and flask without worrying about a purse. Which, by the way, my phone ended up leaving my pocket at some point that night (I think it was more that it didn’t *make* it to the pocket, rather than leapt out on it’s own accord). Here’s the New Year’s Miracle, though – someone found it – in a pile of trash on Lower Broadway, apparently – and then returned it to me the next day. How awesome is that?! 2016, you’re off to a promising start! β™₯

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

The metallic stretch brocade that I used for this skirt has been in my stash for a long time – over a year, at least (if not longer). I never knew what to do with it – it’s kind of thick, it has a really heavy stretch, and it’s pretty freaking fancy. I figured a pencil skirt or bodycon dress would be suitable, but I rarely wear stuff like that. When I was planning my NYE outfit, I decided to find a use for this stuff. I’ve been on a circle skirt kick lately, so that’s what I went with. I used my self-drafted circle skirt pattern (I used Casey’s circle skirt tutorial aaages ago, which I can’t seem to get a valid link to now :( There’s also the By Hand London circle skirt app, which does the maths for you!), pieced to include side seams and a center back seam. This was mainly due to fabric restrictions – I had only a yard of this fabric. It’s super wide, though, so I was just barely able to squeeze it out. I also knew I wanted an exposed zipper and side seam pockets, which mean seams were necessary. The waistband was cut so the greatest amount of stretch ran along the length; I stabilized it with a piece of stretch interfacing to retain that comfy-ass stretch. Yeah man, it’s comfy.

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Sewing was easy, and relatively straightforward. My only complaints are that this fabric frays like a MOTHER, and it’s basically all polyester so it’s a nightmare to get a good press. For the fraying, I serged each seam separately to minimize the fuzz potential. For the pressing, I just used my super awesome, super hot gravity feed iron and then just held the seams in place with my clapper until they cooled. One thing I will note is that my iron has a shoe (basically a cover that acts as a press cloth), which keeps things from melting. If your iron does not have a shoe, you’ll want to use a press cloth on poly fabrics + high heat. Otherwise, melting will happen!

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

I thought an exposed metal zipper would look cool next to the fancy brocade, so I pulled a metal zip from my stash and used Megan Nielsen’s method to insert it (these are the same instructions that are included with the Brumby pattern, fyi). The pockets are silk crepe, also pulled from my stash. Nothing like using silk pockets to stow your whiskey amirite :)

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

This past month, I finally gathered up all my cojones and made the intended matching shirt. Remember when I made Butterick 5526 in silk Georgette? I want to hate that shirt so bad – it’s pretty poorly constructed, I mean, that fabric was EVIL – but every time I put it on, I can’t deny that I like the way it looks. I want more floaty button-ups in my closet. I figured enough time had passed to forget the trauma, and I tried again, this time with much more success.

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

There are two major factors that contributed to the success of this version of B5526 in silk Georgette. First of all, I chose the fabric in-person, rather than blindly ordering online. Which means I don’t have a link for the exact fabric I used – I bought it at the Mood Fabrics in NYC when I was there in November. I have since ordered some swatches from the website, and it’s definitely not the same fabric as what I have here. Mine is more like a double Georgette – it’s much thicker, and less see-through (I’m not wearing anything under this top, except a bra. I think it’s a nude bra, but I’ve worn a black one underneath too and no one has noticed, HA!). That alone made a world of difference in handling the fabric. I also prewashed it in the washing machine/dryer (just a cold wash, ma’am!), which helped beef it up a little more. The second factor is that I used a spray stabilizer on my fabric before cutting or sewing. I’ve heard of people using a spray stabilizer – and allegedly, you can also soak your fabric in unflavored gelatin for the same effect, although I haven’t personally tried this yet – but I never cared to try it myself because I wanted to be able to tackle the fabric without any outside help. Also, a can of that shit is like $12, which is way too rich for my blood (says the girl who is currently looking at $45/yard silk faille lolwut). It just seemed silly and unnecessary. I always felt like using outside tools like that almost negated my skills as a seamstress, but you know what? That’s not true. It’s not any different than using a special presser foot to get good edgestitching. Whatever works… it just works. And that’s ok.

I am not going to go into too much talk about using spray stabilizer because this was my first experience with it – and I want to try it a few more times before I give it a big write-up (aka I don’t want to eat my words later haha). But I will say that it REALLY changed how the fabric handled, in a good way. Instead of it slipping around like butterfly wings, it held more like a silk organza. It made cutting things straight much more easy, and the shirt fits better as a result. I think my topstitching looks really good, and all those fiddly pieces weren’t quite as fiddly. Spray stabilizer isn’t going to turn your silk into quilting cotton – you still need some finesse with those fine layers – but it helps tremendously. It won’t work for anything that you can’t wash it out of – such as a coat lining (unless, I guess, you assembled the lining separately and then wash/dry it before putting it in the coat?) – but it’s perfect for this sort of project. These photos are post-washing, so it has the proper drape, fyi. I soaked it in the sink with some lingerie wash, hung it to dry, and then re-pressed. I have since worn the shirt and washed it in the normal wash, and it’s held up fine.

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

All that being said, I don’t think there’s much else to say about the sewing of this shirt. I’ve made it like a dozen times at this point, so there’s nothing new for B5526. The shirt is constructed with French seams and I used a very lightweight interfacing to stabilize while retaining that beautiful drape. I added buttons and button tabs to the sleeves, so I can wear this shit into the warmer weather. Yay!

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

I finally go to use some of my fancy vintage glass buttons for this top – yay! I didn’t have quite enough, so I had to mix them. There are beautiful black/green/gold Art Deco buttons for the front placket and sleeve tabs, and then solid black faceted buttons for the cuffs and collar. The white buttons you see on the inside of the placket prevent gaping at the boobs (I can’t take credit for this tip – I got it from Emmie and Jane). Speaking of which, if I’m getting boob gape… that probably means I need to start doing a FBA to my pattern. Sigh. Or else just keep adding hidden buttons hahaha.

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

I think I’ve run out of things to talk about with this outfit, so I’ll wrap up. What’s your best tip for sewing the slinky? Have you tried spray stabilizer? Hey, how was your New Year’s Eve, anyway?

Note: Fabrics were purchased with my monthly allowance for the Mood Sewing Network. Also, there are affiliate links in this post FYI. Click at yo’ own risk.

Completed: Skyp Socks

29 Jan

Mmmm handkit wool socks. I don’t want to say there’s nothing better, but… handknit wool socks are pretty dang good.

Skyp socks

This is my most recent sock project, and I really mean recent – I just finished these a couple of days ago! Fresh off the needles and all that!

I’ve mentioned numerous times that I love sock knitting because it’s SO good for traveling – the project itself is super portable, relatively mindless (well, depending on the pattern I suppose haha), and you can always squeeze a little ball of sock yarn in your bag as a souvenir! This is my latest sock-travel project, and the first of my sock-yarn souvenirs.

Skyp socks

Is this not the coolest yarn? It’s a Crazy Zauberball, which I picked up at Knitwit Yarn Shop in Portland, Maine, when I was there for my sewing retreat in September. I was looking for a unique yarn and this is definitely unique. I’ve never seen anything like it – the colors gradually fade into a new color at random intervals, and the color combinations themselves are a bit of a surprise. I almost left with a grey/black/white gradient, but my shopping buddies convinced me to get the orange/blue combo because it was a lot more unexpected. I’m glad I did, because it was pretty fun to watch the colors change as I knit each round!

Skyp socks

The pattern is the Skyp Rib socks, which I’ve seen get rave reviews on Ravelry. I like that the socks look like they have a bunch of tiny cables, but there’s actually no cabling in this pattern – it’s just a series of passed-over stitches. The name of the pattern is the name of the stitch – a “skyp” stitch is slip 1, knit 1, yarn over, pass slipped stitch over. You do these in alternating rows of 3 and it looks like cables :) It’s also fairly mindless – except if you are unlucky enough to drop a stitch. That shit was a nightmare and I can’t even tell you how many times I unknit these things to try to correct my stitch counts. The rest of the pattern is relatively easy – top down, knit in the round on DPNs (I used circulars via Magic Loop cos that’s how I roll) with a size 0 needle. Honestly, the Skyp pattern probably wasn’t the best for this yarn as it gets a little lost in the color gradients, but that’s ok!

I don’t have a lot of pictures because it’s surprisingly hard to get good photos of your feet when you’re flying solo! Especially if you don’t want them to look like giant paddles (which is an accomplishment in itself, because I actually have pretty small feet – like, I can wear kid’s shoes. They looked HUGE in some of those photos, though, ha!). So here’s some detail shots. How many photos of socks do you really want to see, anyway? Right? Right. Don’t answer that if you err on the side of a foot fetish. Let me keep my innocence.

Skyp socks

Skyp socks

Skyp socks

Skyp socks

That’s all! Short and sweet :) I would absolutely consider knitting this pattern again, because it was just interesting enough to not be boring and the Skyp stitch is so pretty, but I have a few more patterns in my arsenal that I want to try first :) And I DEFINITELY want to knit with more Zauberballs! Every single one of the colorways is just fantastic.

I think I’ve asked this question before – but it bears repeating. What you’re favorite sock pattern? What’s your favorite crazy sock yarn? What you’re favorite ~normal~ sock yarn? What is a horse shoe? What does a horse shoe do? Are there any horse socks? Is anybody listening to me?

Completed: The Agnes Dress

20 Jan

I’m still trying to catch up on my last projects from 2015! Although I’m glad I waited to post this one because:
1. I got new shoes and I think they look pretty awesome with this dress
2. Such a good hair day for these photos. As a result, there are extra pictures in this post. No apologies for that!

T&TB Agnes Dress

Anyway, let’s talk about the dress itself because that’s why y’all are here! I tried something newish for this project in terms of silhouette and I gotta say – I’m pretty happy with how it turned out! I don’t normally like the way gathered skirts look on me, and strong shoulders always make me feel like I’m wearing someone’s mom’s old clothes (not my mom, though, she’s a pretty sharp dresser hahah), but this dress does me good! I made it to wear during recently-ended holiday season – the thin jersey isn’t necessarily appropriate for cold weather, but we had a 70*F Christmas down here in Tennessee, so it suited me just fine at the end of 2015! Of course, now we’re in for the serious cold snap (you can’t tell in the pictures, but it was COLD outside when I took these! Like below freezing, eep), so I currently can’t wear it because it’s simply not warm enough!

T&TB Agnes Dress

T&TB Agnes Dress

To make this dress, I used the Agnes shirt pattern from Tilly and the Buttons. I love special and unique details on an otherwise plain knit tshirt, and this pattern is pretty good for that! I love the runching at the neckline and sleeves, and the shape is really fitted and flattering for me. I have made this top before (there’s not a full post – but I’m wearing it with my 70s denim skirt), so I had a good idea of how it was going to fit. My own complaint with the first version is that the armholes were too high on me, and thus a little uncomfortable. I lowered the armholes by about 1/2″, using my adjusted Renfrew tshirt pattern as a comparison. Size is right between a 1 & 2, which suits me pretty well for this pattern line.

Now, the pattern only gives you an option to make a top – and this is a dress, obviously. I confess that I didn’t even consider Dress Possibility until Tilly posted this tutorial for making an Agnes dress. SCORE. How cute does she look in those photos, btw?! Oh god I just realized our outfits are pretty similar hahahaha!

Anyway, it’s an easy change to turn this into a dress. Cut the pattern piece at the waistline (or where you want the waist to hit – I used my Lady Skater bodice as a guide, personally), sew up the shirt, and then add a gathered skirt (literally, a rectangle that is the width of your fabric + whatever length you want). I stabilized the shoulders and waistline with 1/4″ elastic, just so everything would stay in place and not stretch out (I learned the waistline elastic trick from the instructions in my Lady Skater pattern and it’s THE BEST. Keeps the skirt from pulling the bodice down with it’s weight and making things all saggy). Everything was pieced on my serger, and all the topstitching is done with a plain straight stitch. Easyyyyy. So fast! I finished in like 2 hours and actually wore the dress out that night :D

T&TB Agnes Dress

T&TB Agnes Dress

T&TB Agnes Dress

As I mentioned, I don’t really care for the way gathered skirts look on me – I think they add unnecessary bulk. But I do like the way this one mimics the gathers and fullness at the sleeves. I think the key is to use a fabric that is a lighter weight and has some drape. Then you get soft gathers, instead of big, weird bulk.

T&TB Agnes Dress

T&TB Agnes Dress

T&TB Agnes Dress

The fabric I used here is from Lillestoff. I’d never heard of this company before, but they are located in Germany and offer some really nice, high-quality organic cotton knits. They reached out to me several months ago and ended up sending me a few of their fabrics to try out. I can’t find this star print on the website anymore, but it’s pretty awesome. It’s a lighter weight without being sheer, and it has a good drape that looks fantastic with the gathers in this pattern. I was impressed with all the stuff I got – the colors are nice and saturated, and the fabrics are soooo soft. They wash well and have a good recovery when you wear them, so they tend to hold their shape. I also have a hoodie that I recently made with some of their French terry, gotta remember to get photos of that!

I originally earmarked this piece for another Lady Skater dress (linking because I’ve officially mentioned that pattern 3x in this post now hhahaha), but changed my mind to make something with a little more ~pizzazz~. Don’t get me wrong – I love me some LS, but sometimes a plain dress is a plain dress and sometimes you need those details! I guess that’s one downside to this particular dress – I can’t make a dozen of them without people noticing that I’m using the same pattern over and over again. Oh well I’ll probably do it anyway hahahahahah

T&TB Agnes Dress

If you can’t stop staring at that ONE long rogue hair, just know that I can’t either.

T&TB Agnes Dress

Detail shot – the neckline and sleeve runching is done with 1/4″ elastic, btw! You cut it to length, and zigzag it down while stretching it to the max. When it snaps back, you have lovely yet easy runching!

T&TB Agnes Dress

Ok, I think that’s enough talk about one dress. Here’s a picture of me being cold hahaha. Have you ever sewn with Lillestoff fabrics, and if so – what do you think about them? When I posted on Instagram, people were going NUTS. Apparently they have a pretty die-hard fan base :)

Note: The fabric for this dress was given to me by Lillestoff. And the pattern was given to me by Tilly! Free or not, all opinions are my own :)

Coral Lace Watson Bra (+ upcoming workshops!)

15 Jan

Coming back after a hiatus – even if it’s a mere 2 weeks – always feels a little awkward writing that first sentence. I have missed you guys, though! Thank you so much for all your thoughtful comments + general encouragement on my last post – I appreciate every single one of you! β™₯

Before I bring in the fun underwear portion of this post, I want to address a few orders of business first. Promise I’ll be quick!

Peach Lace Watson Bra
But first, a bra to tempt you to stick around. Ooh la la! Enjoy that butt view in the mirror, too.

ONE I am having a difficult time contacting one of the winners from our Shutters & Shuttles giveaway in December, Shesewsswell. Both Allison & I have sent emails and we haven’t heard a peep back :( Neither of us are terribly keen on the idea of passing the prize on to someone else just yet (I would feel absolutely rotten if it turned out those emails went to a spam filter or something), but we will need to if we don’t get a response from the original winner. SO, Shesewsswell, pleaseeeee contact me at lladybirdlauren at gmail to claim your prize! There is a beautiful piece of handwoven, Nashville-made fabric waiting for you :) UPDATE: Found her! Yay! :D

TWO Upcoming workshops! First one is in March in Brooklyn, NY! I’ll be coming into town to teach the Weekend Pants Making Intensive at WORKROOM SOCIAL, which, if you’ve heard me talk about this class before – you know I’m pumped about it! This is a fun, 2 day class (3/19 & 3/20) at WORKROOM SOCIAL studios in Brooklyn, where we will cover all the basics of making a fine pair of pants – from basic fitting, to following the pattern, to all the little details that make pants look, well, like pants :) This is a really popular class and it always sells out pretty fast, so if you want a spot you better act fast! We also have an afternoon of fabric shopping in the Garment District the Friday before, for those who need some guidance with selecting their pants fabric – or just want to take advantage of a Garment District tour and all the discounts! All the info for the class + shopping trip are on the WORKROOM SOCIAL website, as well as where to sign up! If you want to learn more about the class from my perspective, here’s a post I wrote about the first one I did (wow, that was a long time ago!).

THREE Other workshop! In April, I’ll be in Portland, ME, to teach another open-sewing weekend at A Gathering of Stitches! I had SOOO much fun teaching this open workshop last year, and I’m super delighted to come back for a second round! The workshop is in Portland, ME, and starts Wednesday, April 13 for a pizza + booze get to know you night, then four days (4/14 – 4/17) of awesome fun sewing times! What I love most about this workshop is that it isn’t specific project-based – you get to pick whatever project you want to bring, and sew away in the beautiful shared space, use the cool equipment (like the gravity feed iron), and hang out and socialize with everyone else. And, of course, I’ll be on hand to provide assistance and ~expertise~, as well as comic relief and general cheerleading :) Whether you want to make a pair of jeans, tailor a coat, whip up a bra, get some help with fitting and making muslins, or just want to take a solo sewing hobby and make it social for a weekend – this is the class for you! Plus, Maine is SUPER beautiful (truth, if it weren’t for the winters, my southern ass would figure out a way to move there in a heartbeat. I already have my house picked out and everything haha) and full of such delicious food. For more info on the class, visit A Gathering of Stitches. Official registration isn’t live until February 8th at 12PM EST, fyi, but this gives some time to plan and save before worrying that it will sell out :) (it sold out last time. Actually, we oversold! Whoops! I loved all 11 of y’all though! β™₯). If you want to read a brief write-up of my experience with the class last year, you can find that here.

Ok, that’s enough housekeeping! Onwards to the undies :D

Peach Lace Watson Bra

Peach Lace Watson Bra

Actually, I don’t have too much to say about this project so I’ll keep this (relatively) short! This is another Watson Bra, which is a non-underwired soft bra pattern. Perfect for a first bra project, I think! The fabric + notions are a kit from Tailor Made Shop, which is one of my favorite sources for bra kits and supplies. Everything is sooo nice and the kits are just beautiful! The particular kit I used is for coral and light pink, which doesn’t appear to be available anymore, but this one is pretty similar. And this yellow one is awesome. Ok, enough, Lauren!

Peach Lace Watson Bra

I love the effect of the scalloped lace, and I wanted to use that to my advantage with this bra. This makes for some finicky cutting – not only do you have to be sure that you’re cutting the right edge along the scallops, but it’s also nice to mirror them so everything is balanced. Having made this pattern before with scalloped navy lace, I used that knowledge to make the coral lace. The elastics along the scallops are sewn flat and not turned back (such as what you’d do with a picot edged elastic), so the lace retains the scallops. Since the lace is pretty stretchy, I underlined the entire bra with the included powermesh. There was plenty of fabric in the kit for all this – I even have some left over :) I guess I could make some matching undies, but realistically, I probably won’t. I have realized that I don’t like sewing underwear. It’s just… meh.

Peach Lace Watson Bra

Peach Lace Watson Bra

Peach Lace Watson Bra

Peach Lace Watson Bra

For the pattern, I used my normal size 30D and made the version with the normal band (i.e., not the long-line). Sewing the bottom elastic was a little tricky since there’s not much real estate to work with there – I used the included picot that came with the kit, since it was narrower than the 1″ stuff I used on my navy lace version, and that helped a little. I had originally requested the kit with the 3 row hook and eye, thinking that I’d make a longline – but changed my mind and thus had to change the hook and eye. I noticed that RTW bras just zigzag along the top of the hook and eye, so that’s what I did with this one after I trimmed it down. Then I melted the edges with a lighter to really smooth them out (it’s poly, so it works). I don’t think you can even tell there was a surgery on that thing. Go me.

Fit-wise, this one is ok. It’s not nearly as awesome and supportive as the longline versions – which I had suspected would be the case, especially since there’s no underwire to bear the brunt of the support. If I tighten to the tightest hook, it does help some. I reckon this short style is just better suited for smaller cup sizes. If you’re rocking a D or larger (or maybe even a really full C), you probably want to stick with the longline so you can take advantage of that support. It really makes a difference!

This is mostly a bra for lounging around and being all fancy in-house, because it’s PRETTY comfy. And it’s really beautiful on! I think lace bras with scalloped edges are just beautiful regardless, but this one is a lovely shape and the colors are just fantastic. I really love that the kits have different colored elastics that all match the lace, and that the hardware (rings + sliders + hooks + eyes) are metal. Even the strap elastic is fancy. LOVE ALL OF IT.

Peach Lace Watson Bra

So anyway, there’s that. Happy first post of 2016! :D :D :D Who’s got bra making on their reSEWlution list this year (I am so sorry about that awful word haha)? Who’s coming to NY or Portland? Shesewsswell, where areeeee you? Let’s talk!

Note: the supplies (bra kit) for this project were given to me by the Tailor Made Shop. The Watson bra pattern, however, was purchased by me! And all gushing is 100% my opinion ;)

2015 – A Year In Review

31 Dec

Yay, I love doing these posts! It’s so interesting for me to go back to the beginning of a year and see where life was at vs life today, and I love reading these sorts of reviews and updates from everyone else, too.

#sewphotohop day 1: my name is Lauren and I blog at lladybird.com. I live in the woods right outside of Nashville, TN, with my boyfriend and BFF. I've been sewing for most of my life and I make almost all of my clothes at this point (including lingerie an

Rather than make a big photo collage of every single thing I made this year (which is what I usually do, and honestly, just kind of over it at this point), I want to focus on a few pieces that did and did not get worn/loved. There was a bit of a shift in my blogging this year – even if no one else noticed it (which is quite likely), it definitely affected my output and the things that ended up in my closet. I participated in far fewer collaborations/sponsorships this year – no pattern testing, very few fabric freebies (other than my monthly MSN makes, which you will tear from my cold, dead hands), no blog hops, and only a handful of gratis patterns. Compared with how much I ate that shit up in the past, I really toned things down this year – and I absolutely think it was for the better. My wardrobe certainly reflects it, anyway.

Oh, and if you want to see *everything* I made this year in all it’s entirety – you can always Lurk My Closet ;)

* * *

So, here are some of my favorite pieces from 2015!

Ginger Jeans
Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - side
Ginger Jeans // 1
Ginger Jeans // 2

GOD BLESS MY GINGER JEANS. Both of these pairs have seen soooo much wear over the course of this past year – the first pair even went all the way to Peru with me (considering I traveled with only a backpack and minimal clothing, that’s a big compliment!). Whatever mystery denim I used for that first pair is super legit, and I wish I’d bought more of it. I can seriously wear those things for a solid 2-3 weeks without them bagging out and looking frumpy. And, of course, I’m happy to finally have a Cone Mills denim pair. These don’t fit quite as well as the first pair (I am thinking that I should not have gone up a size, and instead embraced the painted-on legs), but they are still light years better than almost all the pants I’ve ever bought retail (I won’t snub the OG I+W ones, though, because they are pretty good). Plus, they were fun to make with all the colorful topstitching.

Honorary mentions are required for my Red cotton twill Gingers and Ginger Jeggings. I was NOT expecting to love those jeggings as much as I do (and tbh, I rarely wore them at the beginning of this year), but they are super comfy and get busted out at least once a week now that it’s cold.

B5526 Floral
Gingers & B5526
Butterick 5526 // 1
Butterick 5526 // 2

Butterick 5526 was, again, a big winner for this year. I just feel really good when I wear shirts made from this pattern, not to mention how much I enjoy making them in the first place. A collared shirt is the easiest way (for me, anyway) to wear jeans or shorts without being completely casual. Plus, I can layer them under sweaters in the cold months! Win!

Watson Bikini
Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - front
Watson Bikini
Stretch & Sew Bikini

Super proud of both of these swimsuits. I really nailed the fabric selection (which sounds super dumb, but that shit can get overwhelming really fast when you are presented with practically every option in the WORLD so much that you forget what you actually like), and got a good fit that looks good and feels secure/comfortable. The Watson definitely got more wear, but mainly because I finished it much earlier in the season. I am looking forward to wearing out that paisley one next summer :)

Silk crepe Saltspring
Silk Crepe Modified Saltspring

I made a lot of little silk summer dresses this year, but this one is probably my favorite! It’s really easy to throw on when you don’t feel like figuring out an entire outfit, and the shape is perfect for wearing in the heat. Plus, elastic waistband. Yes.

Flannel Carolyn PJs - front
Plaid Flannel Carolyn Pajamas

I am actually wearing these right now, as I type this. These are the BEST pajamas I have ever worn/made – the fit is perfect (unlike any RTW I’ve ever owned) and they are so warm and snuggly. I really love this particular plaid and it makes me happy every time I look at it.

Papercut Waver Jacket
Crazy Aztec Waver Jacket

This jacket was my favorite thing I worked on this year! From selecting the fabric, to planning all the little details, to starting construction and finishing with wearing it – I loved every step of the process. Not to mention, this jacket makes me so freaking happy. It’s definitely a loud statement piece, and it probably even borders on looking a little ridiculous, but I just love it so much. As a side note, for those of you who are curious to know what I did with the remaining fur – I made it into a pillow for my bed. It’s even more ridiculous than the coat and it’s awesome.

Shutters & Shuttles Sway Dress - front
Hand-woven Sway dress

Another project that I really enjoyed working on! It was so cool to be able to meet with the fabric designer for this fabric, and to actually know where my raw materials came from. The fabric turned out absolutely beautiful and was a real treat to work with. I took my time and made sure to really appreciate each step of the process, and I am super proud of the finished dress – even if it’s a relatively plain/simple garment. Also, wearing it feels like wearing a blanket, which is basically the best thing ever.

Silk leopard print Boylston bra
Navy Lace Watson soft bra - side front
Silk Leopard print Boylston bra
Blue Lace Watson soft bra

I made quite a bit of lingerie this year, but these two pieces turned out to be my favorites and definitely get the most wear. The Boylston is so much fun – I love the leopard print, I love that it’s silk, and I LOVE the shape it gives me. I actually feel really really beautiful when I wear it, which is always good in my book. The Watson is equally beautiful, and also perfect for being comfortable and lounging around (not that the Boylston isn’t comfortable – but the Watson doesn’t have underwires, so, hells yeah y’all). Again, I feel beautiful when I wear it. Can’t argue with that.

Portside Travel Set
Portside Travel Set

I use this every time I travel, and it has been INSANELY handy. It’s especially good for a back-up bag, to pack flat when I’m trying to travel light – in case I buy too much shit fabric and need to check something on the way home.

Now, for the opposite side of the spectrum – the pieces that did not get quite so much love in 2015:

Leggings & Ensis Tee
Faux Leather-Paneled leggings

I don’t know if I ever actually wore these out of the house. I just feel silly in them. Shiny legs probably just need to stay a part of my past, I’m thinking.

Francoise Dress
Floral Francoise dress

I love how this one turned out – I think it’s a beautiful combination of fabric + pattern – but it just doesn’t feel like me when I’m wearing it.

Myrtle knit dress
Colette Myrtle dress

Super cute dress in theory, not so great in practice. Basically, every time I leaned over even a little bit, the entire front fell forward and you could see straight down to the elastic waistband. I tried to make it work, but that’s just a whole lotta nope.

Alison Swimsuit
Alison Swimsuit

I felt secure in this thing at first, but then I jumped around and decided it was a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. This suit frightens me.

OAL2015 - M6887
McCall’s 6887 Ikat dress

Loooove this dress, but the fabric is really thick so it’s a little too tight in the boobs and difficult to move my arms around in. I am thinking I may cut off the bodice and salvage the skirt into a separate piece, though, because I really do love the fabric.

Gingers & B5526
Gold Ginger jeans

Awesome, except there wasn’t enough stretch in the fabric, rendering them too tight to be comfortable.

My #2015bestnine ... More like breast nine amirite
My 2015 Best Nine, according to Instagram.

I feel like most of my makes were hits this year (it was REALLY hard to narrow down *just* my favorites – I loved them all, except for that handful of misses), which is a really good feeling. I focused a lot more on my tried-and-true concepts – both in pattern and fabric – and they certainly did not steer me wrong. While I did have a few misses, I can at least objectively point out *why* they were misses, which in itself is important and a good learning experience. I spent a lot less time this year chasing trends, and instead made things that worked with my lifestyle and fashion preferences. A lot of repeats, sure, but hey at least it makes getting dressed that much easier!

Another thing I’ve focused on this year is making the time for clothing repairs. I know I’m not the only person who hates the idea of opening something up to fix it – ugh! But I am all about that sustainability, and it’s pretty ridiculous to let something stay broken/crappy/ill-fitting because you are feeling lazy. Especially when the repair (or alteration) doesn’t actually take that long to do! So I’ve made it a point to do those necessary tasks – from replacing broken zippers, to re-fitting a bodice, to changing out buttons, even completely removing sleeves and adding a bias facing in it’s place. It never takes as long as I think it will, and I feel good that I’m giving stuff in my closet a second chance.

Last year, I mentioned that I wanted to take a step back from blogging so much, because I was starting to feel like it was controlling my life in a negative way. Blogging sucks up a LOT of time, and I was also starting to fall into that trap of sewing just for the sake of content. The amount of excess in my life has really made me feel hypocritical, not to mention the feeling of getting my self-worth via likes and comments. That’s just not the kind of person I want to be. Having been in the habit of doing this for years now (forreal, y’all, I think this blog and I are well on our way to becoming domestic partners), it felt pretty weird to essentially take giant steps backward, but I don’t regret my decision. It’s surprising how much more free time I have when I’m not tied down to a blog schedule.

πŸ˜πŸ’™πŸ˜πŸ’™πŸ˜
Standing by the Amazon, with my bestie.

Hm, what else happened in 2015? Some highlights:

– I turned 30 this year! Yay!
– I traveled quite a bit this year, and that was pretty cool! Went to Philadelphia, New York (twice!), Florida, Peru, Portland, Boston, and Mexico. 2015 was a good year for travel! I taught 3 classes – 2 Pants Making Intensives in Brooklyn, NY, and one Long Sewing Weekend in Portland, ME. As always, I’d love to travel more next year – back to NY and ME (you have both stolen my hearts!), of course, and I’d love to check out some new places as well. I’ve always wanted to go west – maybe next year it will happen :)
– After a full year of living in color, I went back to a more natural tone for my hair. Having fun-colored hair was, well, fun, but I do enjoy the opportunity to blend in with the crowd these days ;)
-I had a major move at the beginning of the year – from right in the city of Nashville, to the tiny lil’ town of Kingston Springs, TN, about 30 miles west, population 2800. I live with my best friend and our house is in the woods. It’s pretty awesome, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss Nashville. I mostly just hate the drive – because I hate driving, period. So that kind of sucks, but it’s really the only negative part (and I’m looking into buying a new[er] car in 2016, so I may change my mind on that! Who knows, maybe driving is fun when you’re not operating a total piece of shit hahaha). It’s pretty neat to live in the middle of nature and have things like a garden and a pig (oh yeah, my roommate totally got a pig). And I have a pretty sweet sewing set-up here, so that’s always nice!
– I got a big tattoo on my leg. And I knit a sock while it was being done hahaha
– 2015 was the year I completely stopped using Twitter. The notification system was driving me CRAZY – either I got “ghost” notifications on my phone that wouldn’t go away no matter what, or I never got any notifications whatsoever! Fuckin’ Twitter! I gave up on it about halfway through the year and I’m sorry if anyone tweeted me, because I promise you that I did not see it. Haha! Pretty much the only non-blog social media platform I use these days is Instagram.
– On a more grown-up note, I bought myself a really fancy purse this year. As a longtime carrier of cheap/thrifted purses, this is a big deal to me.
– One of the biggest experiences I had this year was traveling to Peru with my best friend in June. This was less of a ~sewing-related~ trip and more of a personal journey of self-discovery and change, which is why I didn’t really discuss it much on this blog. Half of that two-week trip was spent in the city of Iquitos, where I participated in several ayahuasca ceremonies in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest. To say that shit was profound and eye-opening doesn’t even really scratch the surface. It caused me to take a hard look at myself in ways that I hadn’t before, and really think about things that I had previously been ignoring and pushing to the side. I came to terms with things that needed to be addressed, and overall it was a very very positive and life-changing experience. It’s kind of like, really really really sped-up therapy, haha. I’ve spent the remainder of this year processing through everything that came up during that experience, and making massive changes in my life. It’s been extremely hard, but it’s also been extremely worth it. If I’ve completely confused the shit out of you at this point, I recommend watching the documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule, (also on Netflix) as it’s pretty fascinating and that’s what prompted me to decide to go to Peru in the first place. If you just think I’m a weirdo… cool :)
– One of the hardest things that I’ve dealt with this year is the end of my relationship with Landon. I don’t really want to discuss it on this blog, mostly because it’s personal, but I will say that it was amicable and we are still friends. We had a lot of issues that we could not work our way through, and mutually decided to part ways in November. We were together for nearly 5 years, so it’s been hard, but I know that ultimately it was the right decision. I have a wonderful support group here, and I know I’m gonna be ok.

Overall, 2015 was certainly a really challenging year for me. There was a lot of great stuff that happened, and a fair amount of bad stuff as well. I feel like 2015 was a weird – if not completely shitty – year for a lot of people – not just me! Overall, I’ve come out on top, despite all the negative stuff that was thrown at me, but lord, I so look forward to closing this year out once and for all.

Celebrating the last day of my 20s with hot chicken, aliens, America, and the best damn coworkers in the entire world πŸ”₯πŸ“πŸ‘½

Anyway, I don’t want to end this post on a sad note, so, here’s a picture of me celebrating my birthday with hot chicken and some aliens. You were ok, 2015. But now you gotta make way for 2016.

Completed: The American Flannel Archer

28 Dec

Another Archer for my winter wardrobe! Yay!

Flannel Archer shirt

I actually finished this shirt nearly 2 months ago, but here I am just now getting around to posting it. I’d apologize for the delay, but honestly, I’m not sorry. It is what it is. On the flip side, I’ve been able to wear it plenty since completion, so I can actually comment on the fit from the perspective of wearing it all day. On the other hand, I’ve already made a bunch of Archers so it’s not like this is some kind of breaking news in my personal pattern collection.

Flannel Archer shirt

Flannel Archer shirt

Since I’ve made this pattern multiple times (see: one two three… well damn, there’s another one somewhere but I can’t find it oh well), I’ll spare you the nitty gritty. Like my previous versions, I cut a size 0, sewed the side seams at 5/8″ and flat-felled all the seams for a nice clean finish on the inside. The buttons are just standard shirting buttons that I had in my stash, and I matched the plaid everywhere except on the back yoke and the pockets, which are cut on the bias. Oh, and I used the pocket piece from my Negroni pattern. It looks like it belongs on a western shirt, and I like that.

Flannel Archer shirt

I really love this fabric, but this particular shirt almost didn’t happen. See, back when I bought flannel from fabric.com for my Carolyn Pajamas, I added a few yards of this Robert Kaufman Mammoth Plaid flannel to my cart so I’d qualify for free shipping (because I just love saving money when it means I have to spend more money first :P). A few days after I placed the order, I received an email from Fabric.com saying that they didn’t have the 3 yards I requested, but they did have 3 cuts (totaling around 1.5-2 yards) of a smaller amount if I wanted that. I didn’t think I’d be able to cut a shirt – let alone plaid-match – out of that small of an amount, so I picked a different plaid from the site and asked them to just change my order. When I received my order processing notification, it said I was only getting 1 yard of the new flannel (not 3, like I’d asked for in the email). I had to call the company and sort things out, and while all this was happening – they completely sold out of my back-up flannel! Argh!! Obviously, that shit wasn’t in the cards for me. I told them to cancel the second cut of flannel and just send me the original piece that I needed to finish my pajamas (which they thankfully still had! Pretty sure I bought the last of it). I was refunded for the 3 yards that were out of stock and I got free shipping too. Cool!

And then they ended up giving me the off-cuts anyway, for free. Just threw them in the package where I was surprised (but also happy because, YAY FREE FABRIC) to find them hanging out with my actual order. That’s cool, I ain’t complaining.

Flannel Archer shirt

Flannel Archer shirt

Since I had the fabric, I decided to try my original plan and make that Archer. Like I said, had 3 cuts – one was a full yard, one was a half yard, and the last was a bit less than half a yard (I’m sorry I don’t remember the exact amounts, but it was a while ago and my order history on the site doesn’t reflect the freeb). It took some ninja cutting skills to cut everything so that the plaid lines matched, but I did manage for the most part. Cutting everything on the single layer helped immensely. That being said, I was still a tiny bit short on one of the fronts, so I ended up having to piece it and there is an extra seam. It’s only a little noticeable, but, again, free flannel shirt. Not complaining.

Flannel Archer shirt

You can see the piecing here, sort of. The top seam that I’m pointing to is the actual shoulder seam. The bottom seam is the result of piecing. By carefully matching the plaids and flat-felling the seam, I was able to get it to blend pretty well.

Flannel Archer shirt

Another minor complaint is that I wasn’t able to properly match the sleeves. The lines of the plaid are uninterrupted, which is good, but the sleeves themselves are not sleeve twins. Again, fabric restrictions. Again, free flannel shirt. Not complaining.

Flannel Archer shirt

Here’s a crappy picture of the inside, in all it’s flat-felled glory. Yay!

Flannel Archer shirt

This flannel shirt is a bit different than my other ones, since the fabric is SO thick. It almost feels like I’m wearing a light jacket, as opposed to a shirt. It’s pretty awesome and super snuggly. The fit is a little more boxy, too, since this fabric doesn’t drape as well as a shirting plaid flannel. I’m pretty ok with that, though! It works well with leggings (shown here with navy Ooh La Leggings which btw FAVORITE comfy lounge legging pattern, hands down!), but also looks good with jeans. I almost wish I’d put in pearl snaps instead of regular buttons, because I really like Hulking out of my clothes, but I think the fabric is just too thick for pearl snaps. But at least I resemble an American Flag! Can’t be mad about that, not one bit.

Oh, right, and I have some winners from the Shutters & Shuttles giveaway a couple of weeks ago! First, thanks for all your awesome comments on that post – Allison and I both really enjoyed reading through them and see what you’d do with the fabric :D (even if it just makes me want more of that fabric now so I can steal your ideas). Second, the plural “winners” is not a typo – there are two of you! A little belated Christmas bonus and all that :) Sooo congratulations are in order to both shesewsswell and Samantha! I hope you ladies love this fabulous fabric, and I cannot WAIT to see what you make up with it! β™₯

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