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Completed: Polka Dot Chambray Butterick 5526

21 Oct

HAHAHAHAHA I bet you guys are sooo sick of seeing me in renditions of this pattern, huh? :)

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

SUP Butterick 5526. My heart, my soul, my official tried’n’true button down pattern. I don’t know how many times it has to be before it’s considered “the charm,” but I’m pretty sure this is legit the nicest button down I have ever made. I am so pleased with myself right now!

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

Since I’ve made this pattern, um, a lot (see: 1 2 3)(ok that’s not a lot, but it sure feels like a lot!), I’m pretty well-versed in the fitting and construction of this dude. It’s practically an autopilot pattern for me – apart from selecting the fabric & buttons, I don’t really have to think much while I’m putting this together. It’s like my hands have repeated the process so much, they don’t need any instruction from my brain at this point.

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

So, I’m sorry if you’re bored with looking at this pattern. Deal with it.

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

Seriously, though, I did have to figure out those damn sleeves, because all my previous versions have some awkward lengthage going on. My last attempt at making them full-length ended up with them being some weird purgatory of not-quite-long-but-not-quite-short – like the highwaters of shirt sleeves (do we still make fun of highwaters, or is that the cool thing to wear now? I just looked down and realized the jeans I am wearing are cuffed to the length of highwaters, SHIT!!). Since I actually want to wear this top underneath sweaters – and hence why I made a second chambray button down when the first one is actually quite wonderful (spoiler: dem sleeves, tho) – I needed to figure that shit out once and for all. And, look ma! They’re the right length! Finally!

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

Although, now I can’t decide if they are… too long? They look bunched up when my arms are hanging. However, when I reach my arms out – they are exactly the right length (as in, any shorter, and they would ride up to be too short and expose too much wrist). Thoughts? This is why I always roll up my sleeves (and jeans, for that matter) – I can’t find a happy hem length! Anyway, what is the point of making all your clothes if you can’t even hem them correctly?

Also, I think the sleeves might be a bit loose? Or do they look ok? Thoughts on that?

Dammit, this totally isn’t a TNT pattern, is it? :P

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

Anyway, whatever, let’s talk about the victories! Check out that sexy sexy sleeve placket. I used the placket for the Negroni (which, honestly, that pattern piece + instructions are alone worth the price of the pattern) instead of what was included with 5526. Lurrrrve it.

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

I also sucked it up big time and flat-felled every single seam on this shirt – the princess seams, the side seams, the arm holes (thanks to Negroni for those sweet instructions – see? Negroni, you rule!) – everything! What you see here is a beautiful and clean-finished top that doesn’t have ANY serging on the inside. Just miles and miles of flat-felled seams and gorgeous topstitching. Ugh, so good.

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

Don’t you love the fabric? I picked this up at one of our local fabric stores, Textile Fabrics. They were having a 40% off sale, so I treated myself to this and some soft fleecy knit. I was originally going to use this to make the Bruyere, until I realized I didn’t want to look exactly like the pattern cover (which is beautiful, don’t get me wrong!). I’m more of a plaid flannel kinda gal, for which I’m still stubbornly holding out for the perfect one to reveal itself to me. Textile Fabrics, unfortunately, couldn’t deliver on that front – but they did have polka dot chambray, so that’s ok enough in my book. Speaking of which, I think this is Robert Kaufman fabric. Don’t quote me on that, though!

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

Anyway, it’s a very lovely fabric – and it was soo nice to work with! Very soft and smooth, easy to cut and sew, SUPER easy to press (which is important with this style of shirt). The topstitching just sinks right in.

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

Again – placket! Sorry the cuff looks uneven. I promise it’s not. Buttons are these dress shirt buttons from Fashion Sewing Supply – part of my neverending stash.

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

I’m just including this because it looks so damn good – topstitched intersecting flat-felled seams (arm hole & princess seam). Also, if you were wondering – flat-felling princess seams really is not any more difficult than flat-felling straight seams. I don’t know why I put it off like it’s impossible to do. It’s not. It’s definitely more time consuming than just serging your raw edges, but the end result looks SO nice.

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

Finally – can we talk about how good this hem looks? Y’all, shirt hems have always been the bane of my sewing existence. I could never figure out how to get them to be straight and even with that giant curve. They ALWAYS look like shit. Not anymore, though! This time, I was inspired by Rochelle and tried using bias facing at the hem. I made self-bias strips with my fabric, and then applied it the same way I bias face sleeves & necklines (I did this before attaching the placket, as per the instructions). Since I used self-fabric for the bias, the end result looks like a simply turned up and stitched – except I didn’t, and this was SO MUCH EASIER. Plus, it give a nice bit of weight to the hem, which I like. Consider me a convert! Bias facing FTW!

Polka Dot Chambray Button down

So yay! I’ll consider this shirt a success – even if the sleeves are a little iffy. At any rate, I’m serious when I say it’s the best-made shirt I’ve ever constructed (if you see me in the wild and compliment it, there’s a good chance I’ll rip it off my body so I can show off the insides. TRUTH.). Little things like this make me happy! I think that’s the best part about sewing with a pattern you know and love – instead of focusing on new instructions and fit, you can zero all your attention on improving your technique.

Oh, and if you were wondering – that’s my Tie-less Miette I’m wearing in the photos. The shoes (because everyone always asks) are from the clearance rack at Nine West and no, I did not buy them to match this outfit. Ha! :P

Two more things!

1. My lovely sponsor (and OG to the LLADYBIRD Sponsor Game), Sweet Little Chickadee, is closing up shop for the time being :( We will miss her (I will miss her! Where do I buy my patterns from now?! I got candy with those orders hahaha), but on the flip side – this means closeout saaaaale! :D From now till whenever the shop runs out, use the code SHOPCLOSING to get 25% off your entire purchase. Apparently there are also some sweet flat-rate shipping options at checkout, so you may save there, too! Please keep in mind that you are buying from a one-woman shop who is running a sweet freaking sale, so please be patient if your order takes a couple days to ship out. Not a bad payoff for 25% off, though, yeah? Now go forth and help Juli clear out that inventory!

2. Affiliate links. I wrote this blurb out in my last post, but realized after the fact that not everyone reads sewalong posts (I’m guilty of this too – those posts can be boring if you’re not following along). I definitely want y’all to be aware of my use of affiliate links, because I think it’s important, so I’m copying this verbatim into this post. Sorry if you’re reading this twice  :)
Side note/disclaimer: Ok, so I decided to start occasionally using affiliate links on this blog. Sorry if you hate me! :) I am currently only affiliated with Amazon, and I promise I will only be linking things that I personally use and recommend – such as those scissors & that clapper. Y’all will never ever ever see me link something just for the sake of linking it – that’s just crappy. However, please keep in mind that any purchases you make through these links will net a small kickback to me, which I will likely spend immediately on yarn & fabric (and thus pour back into this blog, in the form of content for y’all to read!). Also, no sneaky linkies – I will always describe the item I’m linking so you don’t have to click to see them, if affiliate links squick you out :) I won’t be posting this disclaimer at the end of all my posts, as it seems a little redundant, but you can always view it in my About Me page. That’s all! Thanks for supporting my blog, dudes! ♥

Ok, that’s it! Have a lovely Tuesday, guys!

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Completed: A Black Wool Jersey Wrap Dress

14 Oct

Something that has been missing from my closet for a very very (very!) long time has been the class Little Black Dress. I know, it’s supposed to be a staple, and lord knows I’ve noticed the hole more than a couple of times over the past few years. Part of the reason why I’ve never bothered trying to rectify the situation is that black fabric is so BORING to sew. Send me to the fabric store with black intentions, and I’ll come home with acid-washed polka dots. Or something.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

That being said, I knew I needed to eventually make one of these bad boys – they’re so versatile and useful to have (and I guess they’d be convenient to have should I need to attend any funerals or KISS concerts, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can prolong both situations for a very very long time). My upcoming trip kind of sealed the deal for me – well, that and this fucking fabulous fabric. It’s like fate, y’all!

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

To keep things interesting (while still retaining the whole This-Needs-To-Be-A-Plain-Backdrop-Type-Dress), I decided to make my LBD a Little Black Wrap Dress. And who else to use as my inspiration than the Lady of the Wrap Herself – Diane Von Furstenburg! Yeah!!

Actually, this dress is kind of a bastardization of my beloved Vogue 1610/DVF. But, you know, sometimes we have to make sacrifices.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

I started with the bodice from the pattern – I’ve got the fit pretty much perfect as far as those things go. However, I knew I wanted to try a non-gathered skirt and I also needed long sleeves (which this pattern does not provide). Rather than buy myself a copy of Vogue 1548 (and probably sacrificing some goats or some shit as well because, holy mother of god, that price) (ugh, still want that pattern with every fiber in my soul, tho), I decided to take advantage of my favorite pattern – the Frankenpattern. Oh yes, I Frankensteined the shit out of this pattern.

Like I said, the bodice is indeed the original Vogue 1610. I sewed everything as normal (for me – I’ve made some construction modifications to get the neckband to fit better), except I left off the back tucks. For the sleeves, I used the long sleeves from my Lady Skater pattern. For the skirt, I used the Miette pattern and simply flipped it around so the wrap was in the front.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

And you know what? I think it turned out PRETTY FREAKING LEGIT, which is great considering I just started cutting without any muslins/testing/second thought. This could have been a Disaster Dress. Thank god it’s not.

If you want to Frankenpattern, you definitely need to check beforehand that the measurements for whatever you’re attaching match – so, your bodice will be the same size at the bottom as the top of the skirt (or the sleeve caps match, or whatever). For the sleeves, I just cut them and sewed them as whatever (although, looking back, I think I sewed them with a 5/8″ seam allowance instead of the included 3/8″, so they’re very fitted. Ah! It worked out here ok, but better pay attention to those seam allowances in the future). For the skirt, I did add an extension to the front pieces, so I’d have a facing to fold back (same as on the original gathered skirt). I took a little bit out of the center back seam – enough so that the back skirt measurement matched the back bodice where they connect – but other than that, I didn’t do any other modifications.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

So. This fabric. I picked this up at Mood Fabrics in NYC when I was there most recently (how many more times can I say that? Sorry, I’m just blasting through all the AWESOME SHIT I BOUGHT). It was up there on the 3rd floor, being my dream wool jersey and all. I can’t remember what designer claims this wool, but, you know… it’s ~designer (ooh la la). It’s also the softest wooly knit I’ve ever been privy enough to touch and omg it’s like a little black cloud of softness. I love it so much.

Pretty sure there was a hoard of women behind me all getting grabby hands as I was getting this cut, too. Raise your hands if you came home with the dream black wool knit! And then please share with the group what you’ll be making from it :)

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

Sewing this up was very easy, very fast. I used my serger for almost the entire thing, and then just slip stitched down the facings and hems by hand. What’s nice about this fabric is that it has a little bit of texture, so stitches don’t show on the outside :)

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

Here’s a horrible picture of the hem/facing. I just serged the edges and sewed them down by hand. Easy!

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

This is probably my favorite part of the dress – an official tag! Yesss!! Kelly sent me this as a little surprise – originally intended for my silk jersey DVF, but it’s been sitting on my pinboard this whole time because apparently I hate modifying things after I’ve finished them (even tags, I guess). I decided to save it for this dress because, well, why the hell not? It looks so good in my neckline, woohoo.

Also, while we’re talking about Kelly – can we talk about her DVF 1548 and oh my god that is stunning and now I’m jealous.

As a side note – that yellow tag is just a little piece of ribbon. I added it so Landon & I would have an easier time doing laundry – anything with the yellow tag can’t be washed in the machine (because, you know, wool). After destroying some wool garments by accidental washing (the saddest were my brown old man trousers, wah), I figured we probably needed a tagging system. I first thought about creating – or buying – care tags, until I realized that was dumb and ribbon is free. So there you go.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics
Anyway, this dress will make a fine addition to my traveling capsule wardrobe. Solid black, easy to dress up or down, warm (!!!) wool, and check out that wrap! I’d like to see a gusty London wind try to turn me into a panty flasher! Ha ha ha!

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

And now, I have nothing more to say. So instead, tell me – what kind of jewelry would look good with this dress? I just realized I own, like, 3 necklaces and help me I need to adult.

 

*Disclosure: This fabric was provided to me for free, in exchange for contribution to the Mood Sewing Network (well… I think it was free. I got a LOT of stuff that day and dropped a WAD of cash! Ha!).

Completed: Two Colette Mabels

8 Oct

I totally skipped all the hullabaloo that came out when the Colette Patterns Mabel skirt was released – but that’s ok! I’m here now, reporting for duty!

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

I actually made two – just to be safe!

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

Let’s start with a basic Mabel lowdown. I made the grey version first, out of some leftover ponte knit that I used to make a pair of Ooh La Leggings (not pictured – because neither photographed nor blogged, but they are basically the same thing as these black ponte leggings except, you know, grey). I actually have no idea why I bothered saving that little piece of fabric, because it was about half a yard and thus not enough to do anything with – and the ponte is pretty thick, which means it wouldn’t work for something like, say, colorblocking a tshirt (which can be a good use of leftover knit scraps, if you tend to get hoardy like I do). Anyway, it’s a good thing I did, because I had exactly enough to make a little Mabel mini! Yay! I love it when these things work out!

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

Mabel Mini 1 is view A, size XS. I sewed the pattern exactly as per the directions, except I opted to understitch the waistband lining (I used my machine’s lightning bolt stitch – kind of like a very short zig zag stitch), to keep it from sticking out. The seams of the skirt were sewn on my serger, and the hem is done with a twin needle. From cutting, to sewing, to hemming – this entire thing took… I dunno, maybe 30 minutes? It was VERY fast.

I didn’t really use the instructions – I mean, it’s a knit skirt, it doesn’t need much introduction – but they looked to be pretty good, based on my glance over. Like the Moneta pattern, they include lots of tips and info on how to sew knits with a regular machine, which is always nice. The only thing I did not like about this pattern was taping it together (I have the PDF). Holy shit, talk about too many pages! My disdain for PDFs is no secret (I get why other people like/need them… no defense necessary :) But for me? Nope, no way! Can’t do it!), so maybe I’m biased – but this one seemed to be unnecessarily large & unwieldy. My advice: get the paper pattern. Ha!

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

Anyway, speedy instaskirt is the reason why I obviously needed to jump right into Mabel Mini 2 immediately after :P

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

I made a couple very minor changes for this one – I took in the center back and side seams by about 3/8″ (in retrospect, I should have taken in more, because it’s still a little loose around the waist and thus rides down farther than I want the rise to sit), as well as the waistband by the same amount. I used the last of my black striped ponte from Mood Fabrics NYC store. Again – 30 minute skirt. Talk about fast fashion, amirite.

Colette Mabel
Colette Mabel
Colette Mabel

For both skirts, I used a lightweight black rayon jersey (the same jersey that my black tshirt is made out of, incidentally. That tshirt is a Renfrew, by the way!) to line the waistband. I considered using a self-lining – but decided the fabric was a smidge too bulky, so I went with a lighter weight lining, which ended up being a Good Decision.

Oh yeah! I made that plaid flannel button down too! SUP!

Grainline Archer

This was made using the Archer pattern. I actually finished it waaaay back in… March. Yep. I got it in my head that I needed to make a new plaid Archer to wear when I went to NY, so I nearly killed myself trying to finish the shirt in something crazy like 2 days. I did end up finishing it – and bringing it to NY to wear – and I learned two things about the experience:
1. My life did not suddenly become more fabulous because I had a new shirt to wear while on vacation; and
2. Pushing myself to the point of exhaustion to finish something for a self-imposed deadline is not fun at all. Seriously – it’s shitty, it makes me anxious for no reason, and I didn’t enjoy any part of sewing that shirt. Which is sad, because button downs are one of my favorite things to sew! I love how precise the stitching is, and all the little details that make it special. I unfortunately didn’t get to enjoy any of that because I was too rushed trying to hurry up and finish (when, realistically, I should have either started earlier, or accepted that I just wouldn’t finish before I left), and yeah, that’s just lame.

So, with that being said – no more unnecessary last-minute vacation sews with shitty deadlines! If I need clothing that quickly, I will buy it (lol jk I’LL NEVER BUY CLOTHES AGAIN)(ok, seriously, kidding with that last part… mostly.). So far, I’ve done a decent enough job of putting this into practice, so that’s good!

Grainline Archer

And, for what it’s worth – I do like the shirt. I could have done a better job with it – the topstitching is not my best, and the grain is all wonky because the plaid fabric was hideously off grain (like, to the point where I actually cut the entire shirt twice. Yes. I did that. And it’s still pretty bad) – but it is what it is. It’s snuggly, it’s warm, and I also just realized that I made it to match the leggings that I made with the rest of that grey ponte fabric hahaha omg my life is fabulous.

Grainline Archer

Anyway, I hope you liked my Archer story. Have some pearl snaps.

Grainline Archer

And a sleeve placket while we’re at it!

Ok, so here’s my dilemma – and I’m hoping y’all can help me. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO WEAR WITH THESE SKIRTS. I feel like everything I put on just gives me weird proportions! The tops I’m wearing here are ok, I guess, but that’s about the extent of what my closet can offer. Most of my other tops just look… weird? I think the biggest problem is the waist line- it kind of hits at a strange place:

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

See what I mean? It’s about right at my belly button – which isn’t quite high waisted, and not quite low waisted. I can’t tuck anything in – partially because it’s very lumpy under the ponte, and partially because the waistline hits at a sort of wide point on my body. Untucked, most stuff just looks sloppy or gives me that weird long-abdomen proportion that we just loved soo much in the early 00s (y’all know what I’m talking about!). So yeah, can’t figure that one out. Any suggestions? Should I stick with more fitted, cropped sweaters (such as what the model is wearing on the website)? HELP ME I CAN’T ADULT.

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

Anyway, let’s talk! Answer one or more of the following:
– What shirts should I be wearing with these skirts?
– Have you ever made yourself sick by rushing to complete a garment before going somewhere?
– What happened when you finished it? Did a unicorn grant you 3 wishes or did you just realize that life was still doing life things and dammit is it Monday already?
– Seriously, though, what should I wear with these skirts?

** Necessary disclaimer: I received the Colette Mabel skirt from Sarai of Colette patterns, gratis. No review was requested – but as always, all opinions are my own. All fabrics in this post were purchased by me :) I do get a monthly Mood allowance, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t also spend plenty of my own money there! Just wanted to clear that up :)

Starting My Bra-Making Adventure!

2 Oct

I’ve reached what I feel like might be the most hardcore-DIY’er point to date in my me-made journey. I’ve slowed down the impractical makes and gone fullstop into the daily practical wear – tshirts, jeans, coats, pajamas, even workout clothes. The next logical stop on this me-made-merry-go-round?

Undergarments.

Yikes.

I never thought I would be that person who makes their own undergarments. On the surface, it seems unnecessarily fussy – like, why buy undies (or whatever your country calls them) if you can pick up a pair for less than $5? Sure, bras are expensive – but falling down the bra rabbit hole can be even more expensive when you look at the up front cost of sourcing all the materials and patterns, and then dealing with mock-ups (which, unlike other handmades – must be made from the same fabric as whatever you intend on using for the finished product. No cheapo bedsheet muslins here!). For those of us who treat sewing as more of a relaxing hobby and less of a “EVERYTHING I WEAR HAS TO BE MADE BY MY OWN HANDS, ARGH!”, it seems wasteful to spend time sewing something that no one sees.

However, I don’t fall in that category. I’m that weirdo who loves to wear all handmade (and y’all, I am NOT judging you if you don’t fall in this camp! I just tend to go balls to the wall with everything I do), and now I want it to include my undies. Yes! It’s also been driving me crazy as of late that I spend $70-$90 on a single bra that still doesn’t quite fit correctly (the underwires and bands fit, but the cup is not the right cut for the shape of my breasts, to get a little TMI on y’all)(and please don’t tell me to shop online, I fucking hate buying underwear online and dealing with returns. I won’t do it). Might as well make my own, right?

So this will be my bra-making adventure. Hope you like to read about undies! Also, if you were hoping to see some modeled bra shots… don’t hold your breath. That shit’s not happening, at least not in this post. Sorry!

bambi pattern

Making bras is pretty weird! As I mentioned before, it’s quite different from making, say, a dress. You have to mock-up the bra pattern, and it has to be done with the same fabric you’ll be making the real deal from. You can get a general idea of fit just by sewing the pieces together without the trims, but you won’t *really* know how that thing fits until you’ve actually completed it – straps and all. If the bra needs a lot of tweaking – too bad. You gotta make another one (hope you bought enough fabric!). This alone has been the biggest drawback to bra making, at least for me. The other big drawback is sourcing all those dang bits and pieces you need to make *one* bra – the fabrics, the lining, all the elastics and channeling and boning and trims, and ugh! Too much! Can’t deal!

Like I said, the thought of putting all that work into something that I may not even be able to wear was very off-putting. However, I have made a couple bikini tops at this point (see one and two), and I didn’t find either of those processes traumatizing at all. So I decided to start with a soft bra – the kind that don’t require a lot of special notions (including underwires) or fabrics, with similar assembly to that of a bikini top. The Bambi Bra pattern from Ohhh Lulu seemed to fit the bill quite nicely, so that’s the one I went with. Fortunately, my boobs have shrunk enough now that I can actually wear one of these (because I don’t really need much support these days), but they’re also good for lounging around the house/sleeping. You know, comfy bra!

I bought the pattern and printed it out. I exchanged quite a few emails with Madalynne, who gave me lots of great tips and encouragement and even offered to phone or Skype if I was having fitting issues. Ultimately, though, I realized that no one was going to come out here and make this bra for me, so I set about making my first one a couple of weekends ago. And here she is! My first bra!

Bambi Bra

I made this first Bambi using fabrics that were sent to me from Madalynne – a beautiful blue stretch lace with matching white power mesh. The white lace trimming at the top is actually from my own lingerie elastic stash (oh yeah, I totally have a stash of that shit). It turned out REALLY pretty! It also turned out to be a bit too small in some places, and too large in other places, but that’s ok. It’s still wearable and it’s quite a learning experience and both of these things are satisfactory to me.

Bambi Bra

For this bra, I followed the sizing of the pattern but kind of went my own way with the directions. All of the lace is lined with the power mesh – in retrospect, probably/definitely should have left that upper cup lace and back band lace unlined, as it’s a little too stable right there (see what I mean? Learning experience!). When I put on the bra without the elastics, the upper cup was gaping a bit (this is a problem I have with my RTW bras), so I tried to compensate by pulling the top elastic for a snugger fit. BAD idea! You shouldn’t pull that elastic more than a 1:1 ratio, except in certain areas. I knew that. I did it anyway. Oh well!

By the time I got to the back, I realized that I didn’t have a hook and eye to sew in there. Oops. I just stole one off an nude old bra that doesn’t fit. It doesn’t match at all and looks pretty bad, why is why I didn’t take a photo :P

Bambi Bra

Here it is flat – see how much the elastic is pulling? It definitely shouldn’t pull that much. You may also notice that I just literally sewed the strapping elastic to the bra – there’s no adjustable sliders on this guy! By the time I realized this bra wasn’t quite right, I decided not to waste my cute little gold strap slider things (that Madalynne also included) and save those for a bra I’ll actually wear. In case you were wondering – I have more of this lace fabric, and the powermesh, so I can totally make another one once I get my fit down. Again, learning experience!

First bra down means that the second one can only get better though, right?

Bambi Bra

This one was SO much better! For one, I used a non-stretch woven fabric cut on the bias (leftover from this top, in case you were wondering!), which gave me the stability I wasn’t getting with the stretch lace. I also tweaked the sizing a bit, so it’s better (but it could still use some improvement).

Bambi Bra

Here’s a close-up. I’m like a sexy lumberjack up in hurr.

So, let’s talk about the sizing. My underbust is 28″, my full bust is 32″, and I typically wear a 28DD in RTW (I know, according to ~bra measurement guides~ that shouldn’t be my size, but any band size higher is way too big and any cup size smaller means I’m busting out of the place. This is the size that *generally* fits my body best, at least with brands like Freya and Panache). The Bambi bra says that the XS will fit a bust of 34″-35″, so I was apprehensive right off the bat.

I started with the XS, and used the straight size for the Blue Lace, just to get an idea of the sizing and what needed to be adjusted. Not surprisingly – the band was too big and the cups were too small. The band can be adjusted by taking out of the center back or side seams – you can even adjust the back right before sewing in the hook and eye at the very end. The cups, unfortunately, just kind of are what they are. They’re definitely not big enough, which is actually kind of awesome because it almost makes me feel like I have huge rack! Woohoo!

For the Lumberjack Lady, I made a few adjustments:
– I sewed the bust curve (that seam that runs vertical right over the nipple) at 1/4″. The seam allowances in this pattern are 1/2″, so I figured that would give me a little more room where I needed it.
– I kept the seam allowance at the center front at 1/2″, although next time I may shave off 1/4″ because it’s still a little wide.
– I also added 1/2″ to the bottom of all the pieces except the little lace piece at the top, so the bra would actually cover my entire breast (Blue Lace has a little bit of underboob action going on). Next time, I will also add 1/2″ to the top of the pieces as well. They just need a liiiiittle more coverage up there.
– I took some length out of the band to make it fit my ribcage, but I honestly couldn’t tell you how much. Sorry!

Bambi Bra

The end result is a better fitting bra. It’s still not perfect, but we are getting there!

Bambi Bra

Here’s the back – don’t laugh too much at how bad it looks. I was feeling so clever about this salvaged hook & eye that actually matched, until I realized that it’s not the right width – after I’d already sewn on the elastics! Argh! Lesson learned!

Bambi Bra
Bambi Bra

By the time I was sewing on the trims for bra #2, I found that I was much more comfortable and confident in the process – and I think the end result really shows (other than that embarrassing hook and eye! STOP LOOKING AT IT!). The elastic was sewn on at a less tight ratio, which really shows when the bra is laying flat (and makes it fit much more comfortably). Also, dudes – sourcing all the little trimmings and fabric combinations for this thing is fun, at least when it come from a stash raid :) The black lace is from my Georgia Dress, The lace trim is from Pacific Trimming, and the straps were sent to me from Trice. WHAT UP, FREE BRA.

Bambi Bra

The inside is lined with a soft cotton jersey.

So that’s it! Some things I learned with this new experience:
– Bra Making is really fun and kind of addictive. It uses the tiniest little pieces of fabric (forreal, the amount of blue lace I used was smaller than a sheet of copy paper, ha!), which means you can never throw scraps away. Sorry!
– Adjusting the sizing is not as scary as I thought it would be. Basically finishing a bra before knowing whether or not it’ll work – yeah, that still kind of sucks, but there are worse problems to have, you know?
– You can sew this – start to finish – on a sewing machine! No serger needed. I used a lightning bolt stitch to assemble pretty much everything, and a standard zigzag for sewing the trims.

One big thing I learned is – ok, soft bras are fun, but I’m ready to pull out the big guns! Bring on the real bras with underwires and lots of tiny pieces! I’ve been reading Orange Lingerie‘s Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction and I just bought my own PDF copy of the Marlborough Bra – partially because it was designed and drafted by Norma herself (and I totally trust her bra-making expertise), and partially because it looks exactly like my favorite RTW bra (aka, the only one that really fits right, haha). I also bought a couple of bra kits from Bra Maker’s Supply, which means I didn’t have to personally source all the bits and pieces. So that’s a plus!

marlborough patternWhat about y’all? Would you ever consider making your own lingerie (or… have you?)? Are you a handmade-all-the-time kinda sewer, or would you rather focus your free time on making extravagant and fun things? I think you guys all know my stance, but I want to hear yours!

Hey, and one last thing – last week, I had the pleasure of “meeting” Corinne of The Sewing Affair via phone and chatting her up – and now it’s a podcast that you can listen to! Go have a listen – even if it’s just to decide whether or not I have a southern accent (southerners think I don’t; everyone else thinks I do. Someone sway the vote, my voice is feeling like it doesn’t have an identity haha). ALSO, Corinne has been killing it with these podcasts and they are ALL so good – you should listen to them all! It’s so cool to put a real voice to the blog voices I’ve been reading for the past few years :)

Completed: Some Tshirts!

26 Sep

Oh hey, head’s up – this post is all cake and no frosting. No apologies, though! Lord knows I can never have enough Tshirts.

Rather than bore y’all with a bunch of posts featuring patterns I’ve made before, though, I’ve compiled a trio of 3 different tshirt patterns – ranging from Free to You Gotta Pay For That Shit – for science and comparison purposes. Who doesn’t love a good Tshirt debate, amirite? Also, I took these pictures before I redyed my hair, fyi. Just in case you were curious, haha.

LET’S TALK ABOUT TSHIRTS NOW, GUYS.

Plantain Tee

First up is the Plantain Tshirt, from Deer & Doe Patterns. This is that free pattern I was telling y’all about. This is a great beginner tshirt pattern – there aren’t a lot of pieces, it includes some new techniques for beginners (such as sewing the neck binding), the instructions are very clear, and the fitting is quite loose at the bottom. I was initially afraid that I wouldn’t like this shape on me AT ALL, but I’m surprised at how much I love it!

Plantain Tee
Plantain Tee

Even though it’s a free pattern, I think it’s far from being a “crappy” pattern, if that makes sense. The sizing is perfect – I sewed up a straight 34, with no tweaks. I used the last scraps of my black merino wool from Organic Cotton Plus to sew this up – I like how the wool gives the bottom some structure (and the wrinkles? Not as much a fan of those, but I’ll live :P). And it’s SO COZY. Cozy tshirts, FTW!

Plantain Tee

I did make a couple of changes to the design of the pattern itself – the main one being that seam that runs down the front and back of the top. This was done out of necessity, as I didn’t have enough fabric to cut on the fold. I simply added a seam allowance and created a CF and CB seam. I topstitched the seams so they’d look more intentional, ha. I also added cuffs to the sleeves – because, I dunno, I like them! There’s a bit of piecing at the neckline binding as well. Since I was making this out of leftover scraps, I didn’t have a long enough piece to cut continuous binding. I don’t think it’s that noticeable, and hell, I’ll deal with some seams if that means I get a merino wool top out of it amirite.

Stripey Renfrew

Next up is my tried-and-true tshirt allstar – the Renfrew from Sewaholic Patterns! I LOVE this pattern, a fact that I believe is pretty well documented. Renfrew is favored by me because I think it most resembles what we think of when we think of a tshirt – slightly fitted, set-in sleeves, and 3 neckline options (in addition to the scoop, there’s also a cowl and a v-neck), as well as sleeve length options. The pattern is written to have a band of self-fabric at the sleeve cuffs and hem, in addition to the neckline. I’ve found that I prefer to hem my tshirts (rather than use the fabric band), and some of the more casual ones I like to hem the sleeves as well. One thing to keep in mind – should you decide to join me in my tshirt anarchy – is to add that length to the sleeves and hem before you cut them out. Otherwise, they might end up short! Ask me how I know about THAT ;)

Stripey Renfrew

Fitting-wise, this is a great pattern, although I did make a lot of tweaks to get to the point I am now. It’s been a long time since I tweaked, but if I recall – this is a size 0, with additional ease removed from the waist. I also shortened the shoulders a smidge and made them slightly narrower. All those tweaks paid off, because this is a pattern I reach for again and again when I need a tshirt. At any given time, if you see me in a tshirt – ask me if it’s a Renfrew, the answer will probably be yes! Seriously! Oh, and my fabric is a striped ponte from Mood Fabrics (the store, not online).

SJ Tee

The last top in this trifecta is the SJ Tee from Papercut Patterns. Another new-to-me top, and I admit this is more like a sweatshirt than a true tshirt (but mostly due to fabric choice). It’s kind of like a sexy sweatshirt, tbh – raglan sleeves and WHOA SCOOP NECK. Forreal, make this in something too stretchy and you’ll end up in boobie city. Again – want to ask me how I know about that? :) haha!

SJ Tee

I’m surprised at how much I like the fit of this, considering that I don’t normally go for things so loose. I did end up taking the CB in by about 1″ – I’d already sewn the neck binding in at that point, so the seam runs clear from the bottom to the top of the binding, oops. But that made a HUGE difference in the fit, especially at the back. I used the size XXS and – other than the chunk taken out of the CB – it’s relatively unchanged. Oh, and I did shorten the cuffs so they’d look more like a sweatshirt. The fabric I used here is the last of my wool knit from Mood Fabrics (the same knit I used to make my grey Jenna cardi), and I had JUST ENOUGH. It’s amazing how much I love such a simple sweatshirt, by the way – I’ve been wearing it every night. It’s so cozy!

Here are the three patterns as modeled on my form:
Plantain Tee
Plantain Tee

Stripey Renfrew
Renfrew Top

SJ Tee
SJ Tee

I think it’s really interesting how something so simple as a damn tshirt can yield such different results, based on pattern and fabric choice. These are all pretty basic designs in the grand scheme of things, but they’re different to stand on their own. Obviously there are many, many more tshirt patterns out there (off the top of my head, these come to mind: Ensis, Briar, Bronte, Coco, and Lord, don’t get me started on dresses that can be hacked into tees), but I stuck with these three because I feel they’re the most basic/versatile. Also, let’s be real – if I fall down a tshirt rabbit hole, it might be months before this post sees the light! Ha!

Stripey Renfrew

Out of all these, I think my favorite is the Renfrew, just because it’s so damn versatile and I love how it fits (not to mention, the slim fit is ideal for layering). It might also have something to do with the Renfrew being my first love – can’t ever abandon her now ;)

I can’t stop thinking about that SJ tee too, though – I already have some future plans for her, including camel-colored boiled wool. Yum!

Plantain Tee

What’s your opinion on tshirt patterns? Do you have a favorite – and if so, dish please!

(psst! Don’t forget to enter the Sewtionary Giveaway, if you haven’t already done so! Entries close on Monday morning!)

Sweaters & Skinnies for Fall!

24 Sep

Ok, I’ll admit – when I first started working on this outfit, the air was a LOT more fall-like than it currently is at the moment. Stupid fickle season, ha!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, I’m totally a trooper so I’m modeling this outfit for y’all nonetheless (photos taken early morning before the temperatures got too high, because, woof.). My first real cold-weather makes – like I said, it’s a little early in the season here, but I like to get a head start so I can actually start wearing this stuff when the weather cools down :) This outfit – or at least the skinnies – is also part of my London wardrobe. I’m officially less than 2 months out, EEEEEP! – so it’s time to really start cranking down and getting my wardrobe act together. Since I’m very limited in suitcase space, I’m trying to capsulate everything to mix and match. So I can bring less clothes, so I can bring home more fabric :) You know – priorities!

ANYWAY, I have a lot of ground to cover with these two pieces, so let’s get started! Sorry in advance for the big photo overload!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Let’s start with the sweater. I bought this fabric last month while I was in NYC. This was my first non-spring trip to the city, which meant my fabric shopping was focused on woolens and winter weights (instead of summer fabrics, which I am usually bee-lining for in March). I immediately found this star printed WOOL sweater knit, and promptly flipped my shit over it. It’s SO fabulous – and soft! Even softer than you can imagine, forreal. At $25 a yard, it wasn’t the cheapest sweater knit – but stars and wool? Totally worth it. Plus, it’s not like a sweater takes a lot of yardage – at least not for me. I bought a yard and a half (and I have some leftover.. hmm, what to make with?).

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

The pattern I used to make this bad boy was actually suggested by Devra (who also bought some of the prized star wool knit, after I peer pressured her into it ;) ) – the SJ Tee from Papercut Patterns. I made a wearable mock-up before the real deal – which I will show y’all later this week – so I was able to figure my fitting before cutting into my precious wool knit. I cut a size XXS and took 1″ out of the center back. The length is the long version (aka, not cropped) and the sleeves are long as well.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

I used rib knit to finish the neckline and cuffs – it was in my stash, I have no idea where it came from. This knit was way stretchier than the sweater knit, so I had to keep retrying the neckline to get it to lie flat. I ended up cutting the rib to half the length of the neckline and stretched the everloving shit out of it – it could still stand to be a little tighter, but this will do. The neckline also can’t stand to be a little lower, it’s already a little risque (which I LIKE!). The cuffs are a bit looser than I’d prefer, but I wanted to be able to push the sleeves up, like so.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

I sewed the entire sweater on my serger – you could use a sewing machine (this particular knit does not unravel or shed), but serger is faster :) I did use a twin needle to topstitch the raglan lines, as well as the neckline & hem. Really loved topstitching this sweater; the stitches just sink right in and look soooo good!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

For the black skinnies, I used a really great stretch twill. I’ve had some hits and misses when it comes to stretch bottom weights – they tend to be a weird weight (either too heavy, or not heavy enough), and the stretch can bag out over time. One thing I’ve learned is that you need a pretty high spandex/poly content to get them to snap back into shape – 5-10% – and you need to make sure they are bottom weight. I actually made Heather Lou source this fabric for me, also in the Mood store. We were initially looking for black denim, couldn’t find a good one (I still don’t really know what constitutes as a good one- you’ll have to ask her! I just blindly followed, ha), and decided on the twill. We did end up finding a black denim, fyi, but not at Mood. Once I sew that one up, I’ll share more about it :)

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, this twill is great! It’s pretty similar to what you get with stretch RTW pants – thick enough for a bottom weight, but not tooooo thick (I still only used an 80/12 needle, so no heavy denim shit or whatev). The stretch is crazy good, and it actually snaps back into shape. I can’t give y’all a true verdict on a full day’s worth of wear – the weather jumped back up to hot, so I haven’t had a chance to wear these yet. However, I tried the jeans on a LOT during construction, and they haven’t bagged out yet. So that’s a good sign!

The only drawback to this stuff is that it attracts cat hair like a magnet. It’s not as bad in real life as it is in photos (else I would have lint-rolled that shit, I mean, come on), but it also doesn’t bother me that much. When you have a cat and you wear black pants, cat hair is sorta just a way of life, you know?

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

The pattern I used to make the skinnies is the Jamie Jeans, from Named. I’ve actually had this pattern in my stash for a few months – my friend Carla bought me these (plus a few other Named patterns) as an early birthday gift earlier this year. Then I was a total ass and didn’t do anything with them until just now :P Hey, it’s been too hot! Anyway, I’m glad I put these off because there is no way I would have had such stretch twill success if it hadn’t been for Heather doing that side of the shopping for me. So there’s that.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, this was my first experience with Named. My understanding is that a few things have changed since they initially released this pattern – for one, the instructions include some diagrams now (they used to be text-only), and the prices are a little more competitive. The pieces also aren’t quite as overlapped as they were the first go-round – because, ugh, tracing patterns, ugh. I only had to trace the waistband for these. Everything else was, thankfully, not super overlapped.

I started with the size 2, and made these initial modifications, based on my muslin:
– Added 1″ to the back crotch, for butt room
– Removed 2″ of length at the legs
– Removed 5/8″ at the center back yoke, blending to 1/4″ at the bottom (where the pants meet the yoke)
– Removed 1/4″ from the center back, blending to nothing

Once I started sewing, I ended up doing a few more fit adjustments. I don’t know why these weren’t prevalent in my muslin – perhaps my fabric wasn’t quite stretchy enough? At any rate, these are my additional modifications (and now you know why I pulled them on and off so many times!):
– Sewed the side seams at 1/2″
– Took a 1″ wedge out of the center back of the waistband, tapering to nothing at the bottom
– Removed an additional 3/4″ from the length
– Did some crazy witchcraft to reshape the crotch to be a J (again, NO IDEA why this wasn’t an issue with the muslin, but argh – at least I fixed it? Mostly.).

Things I will change for my next rendition:
– Need to remove some length from the front crotch – you can see that it’s slightly too long (it’s not toooo bad – I doubt anyone will point and be all “HA HA YOUR CROTCH IS TOO LONG HA HA!” But I know it’s there and hey, it bothers me, ok?). Maybe 3/8″ish.
– Rescoop that J a little more out of the crotch. It’s still not perfect, but it’s damn good considering that I did this while the pants were already mostly assembled (for those of you who are all, “Wtf is this J crotch you keep talking about?” Here’s the post where I talk about my pants adjustments, including J crotches. Also, in case you were wondering- those crotch rulers *do* work. I found one in Elizabeth’s studio last week, immediately stuck it on my crotch – and hey, there’s a J! Cool!)
– Need to take a little pinch of fabric out of the inner leg seam – maybe 1/2″

Despite my nitpicky fit adjustments, these aren’t so bad! I’ll still totally wear the shit out of them, at any rate.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Constructing these was REALLY fun! The instructions – honestly, they’re kind of useless about 70% of the time, but I’ve made enough pants to where I don’t really need them. The seams are all finished with my serger – except the crotch seam, which is flat-felled – and I made use of my edgestitching foot to get all that beautiful topstitching. For the waistband, I used fusible tricot knit interfacing – I fused both the outside and the facing, to give it some stability but retain that lovely stretch. The button & jean zip are both from Pacific Trimming in NYC.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

I really love the back pockets! And hey, that double line of stitching at the yoke? That was done with a single needle, twice. No twin needle!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

For the hem, I used the lightning bolt stitch, so it would retain some stretchiness. It looks pretty similar to a straight stitch, but it, you know, stretches.

What else? Here are some sweater close-ups:

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

YUM!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

One last thing – here’s the little watercolor fashion illustration I made for this outfit. GOD, I love painting watercolors! So much fun!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Ok, I guess that’s it! Now if the cooler weather could please come back – I hate working up a sweat while I drink my morning coffee :) Oh, and in case you were wondering – that’s a fresh dye job you’re looking at, in regards to my hair! I love how neon electric is is :) Yay for fun-colored hair!

PS: Ralph Rucci V1419 Sewalongers – in case you missed it, there’s a new post up on the McCall blog regarding the sewalong. Just some general housekeeping, including blog buttons (yes!) and social media chat. The burning question this week – for general sewalong chat outside of our blogs, do y’all prefer to use a Facebook page or a Flickr Group? Trying to decide which platform to us. Let us know which side you swing!

Completed: The Aiken Sweater

19 Sep

Yay for finished knitting projects!

Aiken Sweater

This is the Aiken pullover from Andi Satterlund (aka my faaaavorite knit designer, to whom I should probably just establish a direct deposit of a portion of my paychecks, because, YES). Aiken is everything I love in a knit project – seamless, top down construction, knit in the round on worsted weight yarn, with just a little bit of lace to keep things interesting.

Aiken Sweater

Aiken Sweater

I knit the XS (size range goes up to 3X, whoop whoop), using my normal size 6 needles and this delightfully soft and squishy Debbie Bliss Rialto yarn (oh shit, I just realized this is 100% Merino and here I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that it’s Cashmerino… I’m a lying piece of shit, you guys. But really, it is SOFT). By the way, I LOVE these Debbie Bliss yarns. This is the second sweater I’ve knit up with ‘em (the first one being my Cashmerino cowl neck sweater, well, I reckon there’s where I was assuming this one also involved cashmere, ha), and they’re just so lovely and soft with the most beautiful saturated colors.

The Debbie Bliss yarns are kind of expensive, though – around $10+ for a 100 yd skein (compared to Cascade 220, which I think I pay around $11 for a 220 yd skein at my local yarn store) (yes, I know it’s a little cheaper online, but I want to keep my LYS in business, thanks, bye). With that being said – my favorite yarn shop – Haus of Yarn – has an awesome sale at the end of every year where they mark a big chunk of the yarns at half off – and there’s always some Debbie Bliss lurking in the piles. So these skeins were $5 a pop, which made this sweater cost me a very affordable $30. Can’t beat that with a stick!

Aiken Sweater

This pattern is relatively plain – the body and arms are plain stockinette, with 1×1 ribbing at the edges. The neckline is a very simple slash – it’s not finished with ribbing, so it has a soft roll, which I think is very pretty! And then there’s the lace inset, which is mirrored for both the front and back. As far as lace goes, this one is preeetty simple. It’s not super mindless lace like the Myrna – there’s a little more stitchcraft involved. I did have to unpick a couple of rows when I missed a yarn over and thus messed up my count, but it’s not so bad. The good news is that you start at the top, so you get the longest part done first and then progress to less lace knitting as you go down to the tip of the V. Then you combine the whole thing into a tube and knit in endless circles for the rest of the way.

THEN, because there’s no neckline finishing or button bands to contend with – you just block it and wear it! SO gratifying! OMG I love knitting pullovers!

Aiken Sweater

My sweater is worn with about 1″-2″ of negative ease, which is why it’s a little more fitted than the version in Andi’s shop. The lacework surprisingly doesn’t dip as far as I thought it would – I’m not wearing anything under the sweater (well, I mean other than a bra haha), and there’s absolutely no danger of cleavage flashing. That being said, I don’t have much cleavage to begin with sooo that might also have a lot to do with it :) I really like to way it looks with my polka dot trousers, though! I imagine it’ll also look pretty ace with a collared shirt underneath it. And it’s the perfect length for wearing with high-waisted skirts.

Aiken Sweater

(not sure why I basically took the same picture twice. Deal with it?)

Aiken Sweater

Love the back! ♥

Aiken Sweater

Aiken Sweater

It took me a little over 2 months to knit this – which is slow for me, but has also become my new normal, if that makes sense (gone are the days of my luxurious one hour knitting break at the office – I still have an hour to knit, yes, but I’m usually home and DAMMIT I’d rather sew! :)). It was a relatively easy knit, and I think would make a great first sweater pattern if you’re somewhat comfortable with knitting lace.

Full Ravelry notes are here.

Aiken Sweater

That’s all, folks! Right now I’m working on my first pair of socks (I haven’t gotten to turning the heel yet, so I’m going to refrain from commenting on whether or not they’re easy until I get to that point! But so far, the cuff has been easy :) HAHA) – but I’m still dreaming of sweaters! What should I knit next? Would love to do another pullover; I’m a little cardigan’d out at this point :) Looking at Berwick, Ease, Cloudy Sunday (maybe lengthen those sleeves, tho), or Praline – what would you choose? Alternately – what’s on your needles right now?

(Psst! Not a knitter but want some handmade cardigans nonetheless? Don’t forget to enter the Jenna Cardi Giveaway for a chance to win an awesome cardigan sewing pattern PDF! Giveaway ends on Monday morning ;) )

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