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Completed: Butterick 5526, in silk georgette

15 Dec

Ah, Butterick 5526. I just can’t quit you.

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

This pattern is truly a TNT//tried’n’true for me at this point. I’ve made it several times – in various fabric weights and drapes, always tweaking the fit as I go – and it’s turned out to be my very favorite shirt pattern. I am pretty sure I’m repeating myself at this point, but JUST IN CASE YOU WEREN’T READING THE FIRST TIME – I fucking love this pattern!

Since I’ve already beat this pattern to the ground as far as shirting fabrics are concerned, I figured I might give myself a little challenge for the next make. And by “challenge,” I mean went temporarily insane and decided to make this up in some silk georgette.

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

And it turned out pretty good! Just don’t look too close ;) Silk georgette is a slippery little beast, after all. Also, sorry about all the creases – I took these photos after wearing the shirt all day with a sweater over it. Turns out silk REALLY likes to set itself some creases!

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

I was bound and determined to have this ready in time for my London adventure – I just knew the shirt would look great under my various sweaters, as well as on it’s own (well, with a tank underneath it. It’s pretty sheer on it’s own! It’s not so noticeable in these photos, but… trust me.). The fabric is very thin, lightweight and drapey – which meant I could even get away with wearing it under a ponte tshirt. I knew silk would be a good bet because it’s so warm, plus, it would give me an entirely different look from my white cotton B5526 (nothing wrong with that shirt, by the way – except that the weird sleeve length means I can’t wear it with long sleeves. Which is why I’m making a second white button up. No judgement here). Based on my experience with the birdy silk geogrette of my dreams (and no, I still haven’t cut into my remaining yardage – too many options to choose from, can’t decide, HALP), I thought I’d give the fabric another try. At any rate, at least it won’t be shiny satin silk. I hate that stuff when it’s not part of a lining. Sorry.

I bought this silk double georgette from the Mood Fabrics website, sight unseen, only to find out that… well, it wasn’t *quite* the same as the bird silk. It’s much thinner – it’s basically sheer. I understand that the description explicitly states that, yet I still ignored it. It also has quite a bit of stretch, which is not ANYWHERE in the description. Whoops. Shoulda ordered a swatch, but I didn’t have time to wait. And I didn’t have time to buy something else, so I dealt with the cards fabric I was given.

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

Like I said, it’s mostly good. The worst part of the process was cutting this beast – talk about a PAIN IN MY ASS. The fabric is so shifty and I swear those pieces were moving around just to torment me. I usually don’t have too much of a problem with cutting shifty fabrics – I just rip the cut edge to get a straight line, match the selvedges and pin the hell out of them (buying a decent-quality fabric that’s already on grain really helps, fyi. If you’re going to go sheer/shifty, don’t cheap out!), and then pin all my pattern pieces as well. That simply did not work as well for this fabric. It basically didn’t want to be made into a shirt, and it fought with me every step of the way.

But I ended up winning, so there’s that.

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

To sew, I used my finest needle (70/10 Microtex) and my walking foot (since, again, shifty fabric). I used French seams for every part of this shirt and omitted most of the topstitching. I say most because I did topstitch the button band, but it ended up causing so much shifty drama that I decided to skip the rest and finish the collar stand by hand.

For the hem, I used bias facing, since the thought of rolling that hem made me want to cry. Bias facing was certainly easier, but it’s not really my best work on this shirt. For one, I didn’t have the right fabric – I was completely out of georgette (used up the whole yardage cutting the pieces, go me) and I don’t have any lightweight white silk in my stash. I did have some peach-colored silk (the same stuff I used to finish my boiled wool SJ sweater neckline), which worked out since it matches my skin tone at least. I must have done some crazy witchcraft distortion on the hem because it is now VERY wavy. But, you know what? Fuck it. I plan on wearing this thing tucked in for the most part anyway.

Also, it wasn’t until after I finished the shirt that I remembered I wanted to try to draft a v-neck for it. HA HA HA! Obviously that did not happen! Better luck next time!

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

Anyway, whatever. It’s pretty. I finished it on time. I wore the shirt out of it in London. People there probably think I don’t have any other clothes. Yay!

Have some close-ups and I will point out my mistakes so we can laugh together:

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

The tag is accurate. It is also hiding a big pleat in the collar stand facing that mysteriously grew longer than the interfaced side (I dunno, either).

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

I was ridiculously proud of how nice the sleeve plackets turned out, until I tried on the shirt and discovered that the sleeves were somehow too long (they still are, if you didn’t notice). I trimmed them as much as I dared, and as a result – my placket is maaaaybe 1″ long. It’s the saddest little weenie placket ever. I mean, it’s not the worst deal because I can still roll my sleeves up, but… yeah. Fuck you, weenie placket.

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

Here is my faced hem. Hey, it actually looks pretty nice in this picture!

White Silk Double Georgette B5526

Ok, I think that’s it! I do love the shirt – it hasn’t deterred me from my beloved B5526, or even silk georgette for that matter (I will try you again, and I WILL conquer your ass. I will also buy a swatch first, because, ~*YOLO*~). Despite the dramz that occurred to make this shirt (and also the fact that it took like 2 months to complete because I was right in the midst of the V1419 sewalong, argh), I feel pretty good about it. It’s definitely a good staple for the ol’ closet, and it served me well in London.

Sidenote: I did also make the shirt I’m wearing in these photos. It’s a Colette Mabel and I used this incredible black virgin wool sweater knit that is now sadly sold out of the Mood website. It’s super thick and cozy and I LOVE it. That is all.

Completed: A French Terry Lola Dress

11 Dec

Good morning, everyone! I guess I’m back to posting about sewing things… it was a nice hiatus, anyway! I had a lovely vacation, a very relaxing weekend at home, and now working on a new big sewing project (a coat for Landon!). In the meantime, I have a small backlog of projects that I’ve been meaning to post, so obviously I will start with the most recent one first, because it is my most favoritest.

French Terry Lola Dress

LOLA LOLA, I LOVE LOLA.

Y’all remember the Lola sweatshirt dress, right? Gah, sometimes I feel like – with the influx of new patterns coming out at such a rapid pace (which is not necessarily a bad thing – but it can get overwhelming at times!), we forget about the really good ones that are just a little bit older. And by older – sometimes that’s as “old” as a few months! So I’ve made it a point to re-visit some of my favorites and make them up in new fabrics. I mean, they’re a favorite for a reason, yeah? :) (but don’t worry – I’ll obviously still sew up new releases as well because, ooh, new and shiny!).

Anyway, Lola was always one of my favorites! A really fun and flattering twist on the sweatshirt – here’s a princess-seamed sweatshirt dress! I’ve made this pattern twice before (see: one and two), so I knew it was a winner. Side note: While version 1 gets worn aaaallll the time (love that dress!), version 2 is gone. The cheap fabric I used meant that the dress was constantly pilling and just looked old and shitty, so I removed it from my house. So that’s that. Also, wow, I sort of almost miss having brown hair now.

French Terry Lola Dress

French Terry Lola Dress

Since I’ve already made this pattern before, this was a very quick and satisfying sew. I sewed up the size 2, and then made further adjustments to get the fitted/streamlined look you see here. I started by using 5/8″ seam allowances (the pattern calls for 3/8″, but I’m a little bit smaller than the smallest measurements so this helped with sizing down a little), and then took in the waist another 1/2″ or so at every seam. Speaking of which, I really ought to adjust my pattern pieces for this shit because I go through this damn trying on/adjusting/trying on/adjusting rigamarole EVERY DAMN TIME I make this dress! Maybe that should be my New Year’s resolution – adjust my pattern pieces when I do fitting changes haha. That would save me a lot of trouble.

One thing to keep in mind if you’re making this pattern – if you want to adjust the fit at the waist, try on the dress before you attach the skirt. From there, you can pinch out the princess seams to get the fit you like (just remember to do the same to the skirt pieces so the seams match up!), but be careful not to overfit, as this really isn’t that type of dress.

Other changes I made to the pattern: I lengthened the sleeves to full-length (and redrafted the cuff piece accordingly), left off the hem band (and sewed a deep 2″ hem), and left off the pockets. Actually, those are the same changes I made to my last 2 dress. Whateverrr!

Also, wtf is going on with my hair in the last picture? And why do I look so… disgruntled?

French Terry Lola Dress

The fabric that I used for this dress is pretty fabulous! I’ve mentioned before that I get fabric from Elizabeth Suzann’s wholesale orders (ah, the perks of working in sewing!) – that’s where this stuff came from. It’s French Terry, and it came with MATCHING RIB KNIT, which I used for the neckline and cuffs. The right side of the French Terry is a smooth knit with defined stitches, and the wrong side has the most beautiful, plush loops that make this shit SO FUCKING COZY. We use it at Elizabeth Suzann to make sweaters and sweater dresses – although there, we sew the fabric wrong-side out because it looks so cool (see the Billie Sweater). For me, though, I wanted my dress to be warm and cozy – so the loops stayed to the inside. Funny, after sewing all those sweaters – this side looks rather plain :) It is, however, easier to see the cool seaming details this way, so that’s good!

Sewing this fabric was fine, if not a little messy (French Terry will shed like NO OTHER, so I would really hesitate to sew this without a serger – you need some way to finish the seams). Because the fabric is so thick, my serger had some difficulties at first with stitch tension – everything was super wavy. I just upped the differential feed to the max and tweaked the stitch size, and that spaced out the stitches enough so that the seams lie flat. Speaking of which, pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve ever had to tinker with the settings on my serger. For the most part, it does everything automatically without my input (it’s a BabyLock Imagine, in case you were curious. The queen of sergers!).

French Terry Lola Dress

French Terry Lola Dress

Sorry these pictures are kind of crappy/all over the place. I guess I’m out of habit at this point, ha!

French Terry Lola Dress

Here’s an accidental picture that really showcases the fabric! I used the wrong side for the little sweatshirt V. And check out that ribbing! Love it when it matches :D

French Terry Lola Dress

I guess that’s it! Really glad to have another cozy winter dress to add to my arsenal – and this one is pretty freaking cozy (while still being cute!).

One last thing – ChatterBlossom (one of my sponsors + an all-around gorgeous gal) is currently having a holiday sale! Use the code LLADYBIRD15 for 15% off your purchase, good through 12/15 (so, soon!). Whether you need a last-minute gift for someone – or for yourself (I always buy myself Christmas gifts, because I always ALWAYS get myself the best presents! Such as this necklace, ahem) – definitely check her out! I love Jamie’s stuff, and the detail in some of the pieces (such as this elephant or this mosquito) is INSANE. Actually, that’s a ChatterBlossom piece I’m wearing in these photos – the navy anchor button :) Love it!

Completed: The Marlborough Bra

19 Nov

Omg, you guys! I made a bra!

Marlborough Bra

And not only that – it actually fits! It’s comfortable! And it’s PRETTY!

Marlborough Bra

Besides the little bralettes I played around with a couple months ago (which totally don’t count), this is actually the first bra I have ever made. The VERY first – it started as a wearable muslin, that is quite super duper wearable. In fact – wearing it as I type this! Can you tell how tickled I am with this turn of events? SUPER pleased with myself right now.

Ok, lemme back up a little bit and talk about the not-so-harrowing process of bra-making. The pattern I used to make this gorgeous gal is the Marlborough Bra from Orange Lingerie. I can’t even tell you how happy I am about the release of this pattern – after reading up on Norma’s (of Orange Lingerie) book Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction after she sent me a copy a couple of months ago (as well as lurking hard on the beautiful custom lingerie she makes), I knew the pattern itself would be amazing, both in terms of fit and instruction, not to mention overall style. Spoiler: the pattern absolutely did not disappoint.

While I’ve had this pattern in my stash for a little while now, it took me a couple of months to muster up the energy to actually make it up. There is a LOT of info in the pattern – as well as on the Orange Lingerie blog – about choosing fabrics and notions. Orange Lingerie’s book, Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction, is also a great resource, with whole chapters devoted to all the fine details. I ended up chatting Norma up via email for advice on what fabrics to buy, and she directed me to Bra Makers Supply (psst – the US version is Sweet Cups Bra Supply. It confused me at first, too, but the shipping is a bit more reasonable for those of us in America. You can click over to the US site from the main site, on the top right hand corner). They actually sell full bra kits that include everything you need to make a bra – the fabric & powernet, all the elastics and notions, even a tiny bow :) The Marlborough bra was designed to be made of a fabric that has no stretch, and specifically, designed for the fabric that comes in these kits. So I bought two kits right away. There are ways to manipulate any fabric to get it to work for this pattern (which is outlined here), but for my first bra, I wanted to Keep It Simple, Stupid.

A few of things I want to point out about these kits:
– They don’t come with underwires. You have to buy those separately. I bought them from the same site to save on shipping. If you don’t know your underwire size (I did not), get your best guesstimate based on your RTW size/measurements and buy the next size up or down. I bought both the 34 & the 36. I ended up using the size 34 for this bra.
– The kits also do not come with lace. You’ll need to supply that on your own. I was all set to make this bra with my red kit, until I realized I didn’t have any red lace! So I’ll be looking for red lace in London. In the meantime, the black lace leftover from my Georgia dress worked nicely for this bra :)
– While the kits do come with elastic strapping, be warned that it is NOT enough for this pattern (Maddie warned me to this, and I didn’t listen to her at all because I’m an asshole. Then I had to go back and buy more strapping. Except I bought it from a different supplier, and it was a MILLIMETER more wide than what I needed, so it’s kind of hard to slide the sliders and rings. Argh!). I think the kits are cut for bras with fabric straps. Anyway, you’ll want to buy more strapping – either from Bra Maker’s Supply, or another vendor entirely. You’ll need at least a yard and a half, and the kits come with something crazy like 15″.
– Be mindful of what size kit you are buying. My bra cups are preeeeetty small, so I bought the small kits since I wanted to save on shipping as they weigh a tiny bit less. That fabric yardage worked out great, however, I didn’t think about the fact that my size really needs a 3 hook hook and eye! The small only comes with the 2 hook size. It’s not the end of the world (my bra is perfectly supportive with the 2 hooks), but you will need to recut the back band to fit the smaller size if that’s the case. Just fyi!
– I’ll also mention that the fabric that came in the kits, at first glance, looked really cheesy and cheap. It was REALLY shiny and my first impression was that it looked like a crappy Halloween costume. Ha! For one, you can use either side of the fabric (my shiny side is on the inside, so my bra is more matte). Also, it’ll look better when it’s sewn up. Just looking at a flat, shiny piece of fabric… well, it’s gonna look shitty no matter what. So there’s that.
– Speaking of shipping, Bra Maker’s Supply did refund me about half my shipping costs after they sent my order out. That kind of ruled!

Marlborough Bra

Based on my measurements and Norma’s email advice, I decided to make the size 30D. I typically wear a size 28DD or 30D in RTW, so pretty much the same. I actually compared the pattern pieces to my favorite lace RTW bra to see if they were similar, and they were almost exactly the same. Fit-wise, things are very close. The upper cups on my handmade bra are a little more snug than the RTW one, but the RTW one also has stretch lace for the upper cup (whereas on the Marlborough, the lace is rigid), so that might have something to do with it.

The Marlborough Bra pattern is very well-written and covers every step of the process, which is super helpful if you’re like me and have never sewn a bra before. There are tips on where to add topstitching, how to sew in the underwire channels perfectly, what pieces to baste on first so they don’t slip when you zigzag them on. In itself, the pattern is absolutely sufficient for making a bra. However, I did find it incredibly helpful to have Norma’s book at my side during the process. Whenever I found a step in the pattern confusing (more so confusing because this was new and alien territory to me – and less because the instructions were lacking), the book answered it right away. It’s also helpful because there are actual photos of the steps in the book, so if the diagrams aren’t doing it for you, you have back-up. Of course, I don’t think it’s necessary to have the book to make a bra – but I was happy to have it on hand.

Marlborough Bra

Marlborough Bra

The one part about the pattern that I didn’t like was that it wasn’t super clear on what pattern pieces to cut from what fabric. This stalled me for a couple of hours, actually – there’s some general info in the pattern, but I’m the kind of person who needs clear-cut specifics. After googling as many Marlborough bras as I could find, pouring over Norma’s book, and referencing Maddie’s bra-making guide from her Sewing Party class, here’s what I came up with:
– The cups, bridge and frame are cut from the main fabric from my kit. I cut them according to the grainline, since there is a slight stretch in the fabric.
– The straps were cut out of powermesh, with the direction of greatest stretch (DOGS) running around my body.
– Since my lace is stretchy, I lined it with more of my black fabric so it would be rigid (as the pattern calls for)
– I lined the bridge with a second layer of the same black main fabric

The kits also don’t tell you which elastic is for what. I wish I’d bothered to figure that out BEFORE I started sewing – as there is actually a cute little 1/4″ scalloped/lace trim for the upper cup. Instead, I used clear elastic on the inside of my cups. Womp womp. At any rate, I figured out the rest of the elastics pretty easily – just measure them and check the widths against the pattern notions list. One thing to keep in mind, again, is that the small kit has narrower trims. Since my size is a D, I should have had the large kit (and wider elastics, including straps). I did not, but the bra turned out fine. I feel supported.

Oh, and I did not finish my seams. I felt that focusing on construction and fit was more important for this go. I do want to explore seam finishing for future bras, though!

Marlborough Bra

All this aside, I had a LOT of fun putting this thing together! Omg! Once the cups were assembled, it really started to look like a bra and that’s when things got exciting. I got to usse all kinds of cool zigzag stitches (these are all covered in the pattern instructions) and play around with lace and trims. So fun! One tip I will give is to be careful with those 1/4″ seam allowances – if you’re not used to sewing them (I’m not), you might have issues with the machine trying to eat the edge of your fabric, especially if you’re sewing something delicate. I have found that by *very* gently pulling the thread tails away from you when you start each seam, it will guide the fabric along until your feed dogs have a good grip and you’re past the danger of your machine chomping a hole in your fabric. Just be sure to hold both thread tails and don’t force it.

Also, that favorite RTW bra that looks a lot like this one? I kept it on hand while I was sewing my Marlborough, so I could refer to it when needed. That was pretty helpful, especially when I needed to visualize how the elastic was supposed to look.

Marlborough Bra

Marlborough Bra

The only downside to bramaking is, unfortunately, it’s very hard to tell if the bra will fit until it’s mostly finished. Of course, you can mock-up with crappy elastics and temporary underwires, but because the fabric is so essential to determining fit, the mock-up needs to be of the same stuff (aka, not cheap muslin, or whatever). So it’s a bit of a gamble. I’m pretty thrilled that mine fits so well – although it can definitely use a little bit of tweaking before it’s perfect. I’ll let y’all know how that goes! In the meantime, here’s a somewhat awkward photo of how this one fits on me:

Marlborough Bra

Sorry that I had to totally erase my body (I’m not terribly shy, but, this is a public blog, after all), but this should give you an ok idea of how it looks. I’m actually pretty impressed! It’s supportive, it’s comfortable, and it’s SO pretty! Looks like a bra you’d buy in a store. Except better, because I made it :P As far as wearing it under clothes – it’s about the same as any seamed/lace bra. Not completely smooth (personally, that doesn’t bother me), but not super lumpy. Since this fabric is kind of thick, I’ve noticed that nipping isn’t too much of a problem, either.

I’m looking forward to making more of these! Once I tweak the fit, I want to try some different kits – I see that Grey’s Fabric has some beautiful kits, and I’ve also been eyeballing the ones from Hooks & Wires. Not to mention the famous Merckwaerdigh kits, the holy grail of all that is beautiful about handmade lingerie. I want to buy all white everything and try my hand at dying the whole set to match (there’s a short chapter on dying in Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction, yes!). I want to explore trying new fabrics (I’m thinking this might be the PERFECT excuse to splurge on a tiny piece of Liberty fabric while I’m in London!), laces and trims, and mixing and matching for some cray combinations. I want to make matching underwear (yep). I also want to make a push-up bra, but that may require a different pattern :) Making this one bra just has me itching to sew more! It’s SO satisfying! Have I convinced you to make a bra yet? Have I? Huh? :)

Bloggy Disclaimer: Norma sent me a copy of Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction as a gift. I did buy the pattern and kits with my own money, just in case that wasn’t clear!

Ooh, speaking of London – a couple more things -
For those who have asked – there will be a meet-up on Saturday the 22nd! If you emailed me previously, you should have received the details of the meet-up a couple of days ago. Anyone else who wants to join (whether you didn’t contact me, or are just hearing about it now :) ) – we will be meeting at Goldhawk Road at 10:00 AM. We will congregate outside the tube stop until 10 minutes after the hour, then we will be moving on to shop! If you would like to join the meet-up – please, come! You don’t have to email me to get an ~invite~ (nor do you need to have a blog to hang with us). If you can’t make it at 10:00 AM but would still like to try to find us later, you can either email me and I will give you my number (I plan on getting a SIM while I’m there, so it’ll be local!) so you can text me, or just tweet me. Come to buy fabric, come to eat and drink later – whatever works! This is an open invite :)

Also, the blog will probably be pretty quiet while I’m gone. I want to really enjoy my vacation and not be sitting at a computer all day! I will have access to the web and will respond to emails and comments as I can (and maybe squeeze a post in if I have downtime waiting at the airport or something), but I don’t have anything autoscheduled and I’m not bringing in guest posters or anything like that :) I’m taking a break and I’ll be back in December! :) In the meantime, if you want to lurk my trip – you can follow my Instagram and/or Twitter.

See y’all laterz!! ♥

Completed: Vogue 1419 (At Last!)

18 Nov

Well, no that the V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong has officially wrapped, I guess I can finally show y’all my coat! For those who didn’t catch my post on the Mood Sewing Network yesterday to see my completed coat a day early – your patience is finally being rewarded, including some never-before-seen shots that weren’t included in the original post! How exciting!

Anyway, coat!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

Considering how much I went over the making of this coat at length (see all my posts tagged v1419 here), I won’t be going over the construction so much in this post. If you want more info, feel free to check the tag – or just holler out some questions in the comments (I don’t expect anyone who didn’t actually sew along with the sewalong to have actually read the posts – they were pretty intense, and I find sewalong posts kind of boring if I’m not part of the action, you know? Anyway, snaps to you if you did read the posts! I hope you learned some new coat-making tips and tricks ;) ). Here’s a general rundown of the basic information, for those who are dropping in for the Big Reveal:
Pattern: Vogue 1419
Fabric: From the Mood Fabrics flagship NYC store – I enlisted the help of my favorite Mood dude, George, to assist me in finding my perfect red wool coating – and he knocked it out of the park! This coating is red virgin wool, it’s nice and thick with a great amount of body to give the coat it’s lovely shape. The wool itself is soft and easily malleable (very necessary for all the crazy intersecting seams of this pattern!), and the color is just PERFECT! The pattern itself does not call for lining, but I did add a layer of bright red silk taffeta as an underlining, to help the coat slide on and also as an additional layer of warmth. The contrast (inside binding, bound button holes, belt trim) is also silk taffeta, in a darker red that matches the wool coating. I think it gives a nice bit of textural interest and keeps the coat from being just straight up loud and red. Both silk taffetas were also purchased from the Mood Fabrics store in NYC, and the colors were chosen with the help of George.
Notions: Just thread and buttons! I had my buttons custom-made here in Nashville by a local lady who sells them through Textile Fabrics. Since my coating is SUPER thick (way too thick for those sad little button kits that you can buy), it needed some heavy-duty machinery to get the fabric on. I’ve used this service in the past for previous coat buttons, and the quality is excellent.
Sizing & Alterations: I cut the size 6 and sewed the coat exactly as drafted, except at the waistline where I used a 1/2″ seam allowance instead of the standard 5/8″ (just to give myself a tiny bit of eating room ;) ). I only altered the length – removed 3″ from the hemline and 1″ from the sleeve length.

V1419 Ralph Rucci - Inspiration Watercolor

Here’s my original inspiration, in watercolor :)

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

I think it turned out pretty close, if not better! :)

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

Don’t you love the photos? These were taken by my friend and fellow knitter, Alannah Arnold, who was almost as excited about this coat as I was! Alannah and I meet with a group of ladies every Monday for a casual (and, um, booze-filled, haha!) knitting night at my favorite local bar. She’s listened to me talk about this coat for weeks at this point – and offered to take photos once it was done. Which is awesome, because they turned out WAY better than anything I could have shot in front of my shed!

I met with her in East Park, in East Nashville, to take these photos. That’s a feat in itself – anyone who knows me, knows I will kick and scream when it comes to crossing the river into East Nashville. Never mind that driving into East Nashville is like driving into Brooklyn – it’s actually not that bad (unless there’s a Titans game – if then, forget about it!), it’s just fun to complain about :) Regardless, East Nashville has the prettiest fall trees, and this park is undeniably beautiful. So, I made some sacrifices (har har) and ended up with a pretty great set of pictures to match my pretty great coat! Yay!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

Ooh, and I even found a Porsche while I was at it :) haha!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

If I haven’t already made it completely obvious – I’m SO happy with my finished coat! Sewing it up was so satisfying, and absolutely worth it. It is very dramatic and theatrical – so it’s a bit excessive for daily wear. I don’t think I’ll be bringing this to London, unfortunately, as it’s definitely not very practical (it’s too fitted to really accommodation multiple layers, plus I could see those bell sleeves getting real annoying real fast after 2 weeks of daily wear). However, it is the PERFECT topper for all these upcoming holiday parties that are just around the corner ;)

Let’s also not forget how this is one of few instances where sewing can actually save you money – this coat cost less than $200 in materials, whereas the original designer version has been rumored to run closer to $10,000. Sure, making a little cotton sundress will probably set you back more than whatever you would paid from a mall retailer – but knocking off couture? That’s where the savings really start to show ;)

I will leave you with this photo of me, wearing my knock-off designer coat, throwing leaves in front of a rich person’s house. Probably the same person who owns that Porsche, to be honest:
V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

Be sure to check out the McCall Pattern Company blog to see Meg’s completed coat, if you haven’t already done so! Big thumbs up to everyone who participated in the sewalong – and big, huge thanks to Meg for agreeing to cohost this beast of a sewalong alongside me. Couldn’t have done it without you! :) Don’t forget to use the hashtag #V1419sewalong so it will show up on this tagboard. We encourage you to upload your photos to the V1419 Flickr group, the Vogue Patterns Facebook page, and pin it to the Pinterest board

Didn’t join the sewalong but still want to make your own designer Ralph Rucci? Check out my V1419 tag and the McCall Pattern Company Blog for all the posts pertaining to this sewalong. I can’t wait to see everyone’s finished coats!

What do you think? Would you ever tackle a crazy long intense project like a coat? What about THIS coat? Man, I love making coats!

Disclaimer: My pattern was provided to me free of charge from the McCall Pattern Company, and the fabric was provided from Mood Fabrics as part of my monthly allowance for participating in the Mood Sewing Network. Still, I definitely made this entire coat myself – sooo, that should count for something ;)

Completed: The Rigel Bomber Jacket

14 Nov

This jacket has been a LONG time in the making. Totally worth the wait, tho.

Rigel Bomber Jacket

My dream bomber jacket! ♥

I swear, ever since Katie released the Rigel Bomber jacket for Papercut Patterns, I have noticed this style popping up EVERYWHERE. Talk about being on point with style trends! I knew I wanted to make the jacket when I first saw the pattern last winter – it’s a great, casual jacket and I love the short length (sometimes my Minoru just feels a touch too long, depending on what I’m wearing with it – not to mention, the cotton/poly fabrics mean it’s not the best choice for super cold temperatures!). It’s totally different from any other pattern I own, so obviously I wanted to make it. Once I saw Clare’s Rigel bomber making it’s rounds – and then saw the dang thing in person during our trip to NYC earlier this year – it became Very Important that I have one in time for this current winter. Especially since I tried hers on and it looked ace on me. As you do.

Rigel Bomber Jacket

Since I was in bomber-mode for the duration of that particular shopping trip, I made it a point to source the notions I knew I’d have the hardest time finding – rib knit and a separating zip. In the mecca that is the Garment District of New York City, these things are relatively easy to find (well, at least compared to the Limited Fabric Options of Nashville, ha!). I found both of these things at Pacific Trimming – the rib knit came from the very back corner of the store, and the zipper is a Riri zipper! I chose the colors, specified the custom length according to my pattern, and paid something insane like $20 for it. I don’t actually remember how much the zipper cost, because I mostly blocked it out of my mind – but suffice to say, it cost significantly more than the $5 zips you can pick up just about anywhere.

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

I do want to talk about the Rigel a little more before I start going on a tangent about my notions, though. I sewed up the XXS – one, because that’s my Papercut size, and two, it’s the same size as Clare’s and I liked the way hers fit on me. I did not make any length or fitting adjustments to the pattern, just sewed it straight out of the envelope. The instructions on this pattern are great – you are guided through the steps of adding a single welt pocket, attaching the ribbing, and inserting the open-ended zip. The only part of the instructions that leaves a bit to be desired is the lack of lining – which most blog posts I’ve read have mentioned. My assumption here is that Katie wanted the pattern to be as quick and simple as possible, and adding a lining to this sort of jacket is either going to be complicated (at least to write out the instructions for) or involve a lot of hand-sewing. It’s not terribly hard to add a lining, but it does require some brain aerobics before you start sewing.

Rigel Bomber Jacket

Part of what took this jacket so long to incubate was that I couldn’t decide on a fabric! I bought my zipper and ribbing before anything else, so matching a wool fabric (yes, it had to be wool) to all that gold was a little tricky. Not to mention, my notions were a bit special – if not expensive – so I wanted to make something that I’d love and actually wear. I hemmed and hawed for MONTHS over what fabric I wanted to use… this double-faced black wool coating was my #1 contender. I actually got a swatch of it back in the spring… and it’s been pinned to my bulletin board ever since (sometimes I just make myself look at a fabric for a long time, and if I don’t get sick of it – it’s mine!). I finally bought it last month, which is actually REALLY lucky because it’s sold out now! I like how the embroidered floral design gives the fabric some interest and texture, while still keeping it relatively plain (so it doesn’t compete with my trims).

Rigel Bomber Jacket

I will mention that the fabric description is a bit off. I guess it doesn’t matter at this point, since the fabric is sold out – but it definitely feels more like a light to medium weight fabric, NOT a heavy coating. The wrong side is brushed with long fuzzy strands of fabric fiber, and this fabric SHEDS LIKE A BITCH. Even though my jacket is lined, I serged every single seam of the wool because I couldn’t otherwise control the shedding. I really don’t recommend trying this fabric if you can’t serge the raw edges – a plain straight stitch won’t prevent it from eventually disintegrating.

Also, on a bit of a bummer-town note – this fabric doesn’t really wear well. It’s already starting to pill and look kind of old :( So this jacket might not have a super long lifespan as it is. Good thing I can always salvage that ridiculously expensive zipper! :DDD

Rigel Bomber Jacket

I don’t know why I’m winking in this photo (just imagine me taking my pictures with a remote and tripod and things get even creepier with the winking ahaha)? Anyway, here’s the lining! I lined the entire jacket with gold china silk, which goes really nicely with my gold accents. I love the warm combination of silk+wool – it’s lightweight, and while it probably won’t work well in the Arctic, it’s fine for our mild winters (or a mild spring up north).

I will deviate for a second here to talk about the lining. As I mentioned, the instructions don’t tell you how to do this. Further, while there are lots of posts scattered around the internet on how to line the Rigel, none of them were exactly what I wanted (NO raw edges, no hand sewing). I wanted to try bagging the lining – which, spoiler alert, that shit totally worked! I used to do this all the time when I worked for Muna last year, but my memory was a little spotty, especially since we never used written instructions for anything (I like instructions when I’m sewing – even if it’s just a checklist – so I don’t forget to do something important!). I used Jen’s tutorial on bagging a jacket lining to jolt my memory, which was extremely helpful. Here are the steps I took to get my lining in that dang jacket:
1. First, I drafted some lining pieces – using the facings as a guide, I removed that amount from the jacket pieces (the front, the back, and the sleeves), and added 3/8″ seam allowances. I also added an ease pleat to the back piece, but I haven’t ripped open the basting yet because I found that I don’t need it. Someday, it will pop open and scare me, probably.
2. I constructed the entire jacket – up to the ribbing and zipper. The lining was completely assembled, with the facings attached.
3. I sewed the two jackets together at the neckline and zipper, as instructed by the pattern (for attaching the facing), and pressed and understitched.
4. I sewed the bottom of the zipper and facing, as instructed by the pattern (some of the lining may later need to be unpicked to get it to turn correctly, this is ok!)
5. I sewed the lining to the seam allowance of the ribbing at the bottom, right sides together.
6. I attached the lining to the sleeve hems at the ribbing, right sides together.
7. At this point, I had a giant Möbius tube of jacket+lining with everything attached and no openings anywhere. It was slightly horrifying – and exactly on track. This is when you rip open a section of the underarm lining that’s already been stitched, and pull the entire jacket through the hole.
8. Press everything, and then sew up the hole. I actually close up my hole from the inside by machine as much as I can, and then sew the remaining inch or so shut on the outside (I tried to take pictures to show how I do this, but it’s really hard to understand if you’re not actually seeing it in action. Needless to say, my closed-up hole is only about an inch long, instead of the 4″ tear I had to make to get the jacket pulled through it).
9. The little sections at the bottom where the facing meets the ribbing will need to be sewn shut by hand.

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

AND JUST LIKE THAT – A COMPLETELY BAGGED LINING WITH NO VISIBLE SEAMS! Woohooo!

Rigel Bomber Jacket

Ok, now we can talk about all the fun trimmings!

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

What I neglected to tell you guys about this ribbing is that is actually has sparkly gold stripes. It is amazing! Pacific Trimming sells these in 1 yard pieces – and I needed two pieces. They’re about $8 a piece, if I recall correctly (they won’t cut them down, at least, they wouldn’t when I was there!). Also, when I pressed them, they smelled like a fart (I actually wrote this in my sewing notebook, so it must be important and worth mentioning, I guess). Must be all the polyester?

The Riri zipper looks really nice with the sparkly gold, I think! I still haven’t decided if it was worth the obscene price I paid. On one hand, it was really cool to be able to pick the zipper based exactly on my specifications – color, length, everything. It does feel solid and it is really satisfying to zip up (Riri zippers are referred to as the ~Rolls Royce~ of zippers, I’m told). That being said – $20 for a zipper? Yeah. I dunno. It sure is pretty, though!

Have a photo dump:

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

God, I’m sorry about that.

Rigel Bomber Jacket

Anyway, I LOVE my new jacket and I’m so glad I took my time with choosing the right fabric (as well as figuring out that lining!) because the end result was so worth the wait. I’ve been wearing this thing constantly since I finished it – just in time for the weather to get cold, it seems. I’d love to make a patterned version of this one – either with some floral wool (LIBERTY?!), or something polka dotted! Can’t have too many bombers amirite. I even have a couple more pieces of rib knit that I apparently bought during that shopping trip that I completely forgot about. They are black with white stripes. Thanks, past Lauren! ♥

Oh! And my pants are those Jamie Jeans I made a couple of months ago. Just mentioning it because I ended up taking in the inseam a little bit more after that last post, so you can see what they look like now. I think the fit is much better! I’ve found I can usually go about 3-4 wearings between washings on these, before the knees bag out enough to drive me crazy.

Lastly, I will leave you with this outtake. Not sure what I was doing there, but it made me laugh, so hopefully it’ll make you laugh too! :D

Rigel Bomber JacketHave a great weekend, y’all!

Completed: The Lady Renfrew

12 Nov

Question: What do you get when you combine the Lady Skater with the Renfrew??

Lady Renfrew

Answer: The awesomest, snuggliest, Lady Renfrew dress, of course!

Lady Renfrew
Lady Renfrew

There’s not much to say about this dress – I basically just summed it up in the first sentence. This will be a relatively short post, ha (is that even possible for me to accomplish? Time will tell). Anyway, I used a combination of the two patterns to create this Frankenpatterned dress. The bodice, skirt and sleeves came from the Lady Skater, which after much careful testing, I’ve decided is my favorite favorite favorite knit dress pattern. The bodice fits me really well, the sleeves are a good fit/length (all sleeve length options, I mean), and I love the flared-but-not-costumey-looking skirt. Everything about this pattern is exactly what I like in a knit dress, so it was the obvious choice for the base of this dress. To get the cowl neck, I left off the neck binding and instead used the cowl from view C of the Renfrew tshirt. I compared the two patterns to see if I’d need to make any modifications, and the necklines were surprisingly similar (fwiw, I use the size 2 Lady Skater and the size 0 in the Renfrew). So similar, that all I did was just sew the pieces together and that was it. I don’t remember what seam allowance I used to attach the two (Lady Skater is drafted for 3/8″, and Renfrew is 5/8″), knowing me – probably 1/2″ because it’s in the ~middle~. Or something dumb like that. Whatever, it worked out regardless! :D

Lady Renfrew

The real bitch part of making this dress was cutting the dang fabric. I had 3 things to pay attention to while I was cutting this – matching the print horizontally across the seams; being mindful of fabric usage (I barely had enough!); and actual print placement. I cut it so the darker stripes cross my waist, and the lighter stripes cross my bust. I think that’s a flattering look for me, plus, I love the way the white print kind of frames my head (that’s a bonus, because I totally cut it that way with the intention of it making my boobs look slightly bigger hahaha). I didn’t do any print matching on the cowl. I ran out of fabric and actually had to cut the underlayer with a seam. It worked out, though!

Lady Renfrew

AND NOW I HAVE THIS BIG SNUGGLY COWLLLLLL WOOHOO!

Lady Renfrew

I think the fabric is what really makes this dress! And by makes, I mean it’s slightly over-the-top – I’m almost afraid to wear it before Christmas season, ha. It’s like a giant, awesome black and white Ikat Christmas sweater. I bought it from The Fabric Studio here in Nashville; it’s the same fabric I used to make my Ooh La Yoga Pants. While it wasn’t 100% ideal for yoga pants, it’s pretty freaking fabulously good for this sort of dress. The fabric is nice and stable, cozy, and works really well for this sort of pattern.

Lady Renfrew

I especially love how the cowl looks. Yay cowls!

Lady Renfrew

So, what do you think? Lady Skater+Renfrew – do we have a perfect partnership here, or what?

Two more things:
1. Giant thanks to everyone who attended my class at The Sewing Party on Saturday! I had so much fun chatting with y’all (although I’ll admit – I kept my video on mute! Can’t handle the sound of my own voice blaring at me ahaha) and I’d love to do more video-related stuff if the opportunity ever arises again :) Y’all are the best! Just wanted to give all my students (and future students, for those of you who will be watching the class sometime during the next 90 days) a head’s up – I forgot to remind you to download the handout for my class! I know, bad teacher! Anyway, it’s a little PDF document with all the class info written out – along with photo tutorials for each zipper insertion. You can find it to the left of the video, under handouts and chats.

2. The big closing sale at Sweet Little Chickadee is still going strong! Juli has upped the ante a little bit – now use the code SHOPCLOSINGSALE to get 35% off your entire order! This code is good until all the stock runs out!

3. I recently found out that I was named one of the top 50 sewing blogs in Budrastyle‘s Best of Blogging contest. COOL! I’ll be honest – I had no idea I was even nominated (or that this contest was even a thing) until I got the congratulatory email. Big huge thank you to whoever nominated me, and even bigger huger thank you to everyone who voted for me! Y’all are seriously the best! I’m not worthy! ;)

Completed: Boiled Wool SJ Sweater

7 Nov

I’m just gonna come out and say it: “boiled wool” is the grossest fabric name. It just sounds disgusting – like some kind of rubbery, overcooked fabric food that you’re only putting in your body because there is literally nothing else in the house and you are starving to death. Am I right? Am I right?

Wool SJ Sweater

When it comes to fabrics, though, boiled wool is pretty amazing. I had some spend some time working with it – sewing up a storm at Elizabeth Suzann‘s, making sweaters and kimonos and coats (so, so, so many coats. I am the coat whisperer now, y’all). After spending so much quality time handling this fabric – pressing (boiled wool loooves steam) and sewing (where the stitches just sink right in) – I found myself anxious to buy some and make a luxe sweater/sweatshirt for myself. So I bought some – off Elizabeth herself (she lets me ride the coattails of her wholesale orders and, um, you guys, I’m not even going to tell you how little I paid for this wool. NOT EVEN.).

Wool SJ Sweater

It was a borderline agonizing choice, but I ultimately decided to get the camel color (next time, though, I will be getting some black. And some moss. Dammit, I want them all!) because I had ~visions~ of it looking gorgeous with my polka dot chambray button-down. Doesn’t it? I also love camel because I feel like it looks equally good with black and brown (and navy, for that matter!).

Wool SJ Sweater

As I mentioned, I’ve had some time to work with this fabric and get an idea of how to handle it. They very first thing I did was prewash the yardage – the same way I wash/block my handknits. I soaked it in gentle wool wash (I use Soak, which I actually buy from my local yarn store, but here it is on Amazon), used a towel to wring out the excess, and then laid it flat to dry in the yard. This particular boiled wool (and maybe all boiled wools?) shrinks up quite a bit after it’s been washed, giving the fabric more of a felted quality than it is when you first pull it off the roll. You can also steam-shrink the fabric (which is what we do at the studio), but I knew I’d be washing this stuff here on out, so I wanted to get all the shrinkage eliminated before I started sewing.

Wool SJ Sweater

For construction, there is not much different you need to do from sewing, say, a very stable ponte knit. I just used a regular 70/10 needle (not even ballpoint – the wool is felted so it’s not necessary to preserve the knitted loops or anything) and sewed everything on the sewing machine. I left my seams unfinished and pressed them open with lots of steam. I think the open seams look a little neater this way, plus, they’re not as bulky as they’d be if I serged them. Again, since the wool is felted – nothing is going to unravel. Even for the hems, I just turned up the allowance and topstitched it down.

Wool SJ Sweater

The only part I struggled with (and I’m still not 100% happy about, if we’re being honest here) was the neckline. Not because it was difficult to sew – but because I didn’t know how I was going to finish it! At Elizabeth’s, we just turn the hem allowance under and topstitch. This is absolutely fine for finishing boiled wool – but we’re talking crewneck sweaters here, and mine is obviously very scooped. I needed a finish that would pull in the neckline just a little – like a ribbing. Except I didn’t want a ribbing, because I wanted this sweater to be ~fancy.

The first thing I did was try to turn the hem allowance under, and then sew clear elastic into the neckline like an invisible banding. That did not work out. I don’t have any photos, but it looked like shit and you have to trust me.

The next thing I did was try to use the boiled wool as a self-fabric band for the neckline. It sort of stretches, so it sort of works.

Wool SJ Sweater

This picture makes it look way better than it did in reality. What you don’t see here is that the binding would NOT lay flat – especially at the center front. It is standing almost straight up in some sections, like the weirdest little funnel not-collar. Believe me, I pulled and stretched as hard as I could to encourage the neckline to ease smaller (and thus lie flat), and then steamed the beejezus out of it, but there’s only so much you can do with boiled wool. It’s not a true knit, so you can’t really treat it as one. Furthermore, the inside just looked raggedy with the self fabric neckline. Too many unfinished seam allowances (I know, I know, I just said the unfinished edges were fine – but even I have neckline limits, ok), too bulky, and noooope!

nope

Wool SJ Sweater

My solution was to apply a bias facing to the neckline, stretching the bias to get it to lie snug and thus pull the neckline in. I used this method to sew it on, and the bias is a piece of silk charmeuse that I got from Elizabeth’s scrap pile (surprisingly – it was the result of a botched dye job, although it matches the wool quite beautifully, so yay for me!). I think this netted the best result, although I think the neckline is still a little wide for this sweater. Oh well. That’s just my fault for choosing this pattern. Better luck next time!

Wool SJ Sweater

The pattern I used is the SJ Tee from my beloved Papercut Patterns. I raised the neckline a couple of inches – not that you can tell! – but the rest of the pattern is sewn as-is, using my previous adjustments. Other than the bias faced neckline, I didn’t make any construction changes. Oh, no, wait, I did leave off the sleeve ribbing. I just turned that hem allowance under and topstitched it down! The boiled wool does not have nearly as much stretch as a standard knit, however, this pattern is a little loose-fitting on me as it is, so I think it turned out fine. If you want to make this in a wool and retain the design ease, I’d recommend sizing up.

Wool SJ Sweater
Wool SJ Sweater
(sorry ’bout the color discrepancy! The less-washed out photos show the true color. And that yellow tag is there to remind us NOT to wash this sweater with the laundry, since it’s wool :) )

Wool SJ Sweater

As you can see, this sweater is not ideal for a completely 100% no-gape neckline. That’s ok, though, since I’ll likely be wearing it with something underneath (this boiled wool is soft, but it’s still a little bit itchy!). I am pretty happy with how this turned out – I like the shape, the raglan sleeves, and how lush the fabric is (aka makes it look expensive. Ha!) – but I’m still iffy on the neckline. I think it’s too wide. It looks ok with the collared shirt underneath, but… eh. I don’t know. Obviously I can’t do much to change this current sweater – so I’ll be wearing it regardless – but for future makes, I need to refigure that silhouette. What do you think? Too much of a scoop? Am I way out of left field and overthinking?

Speaking of the collared shirt – I still haven’t made any changes to the sleeves. I decided to wait until it’s been laundered a few times – that way, if it shrinks, I won’t be up shit creek. In the meantime, I do like the fit/length of the sleeves under a sweater, so there’s that!

Wool SJ Sweater

At any rate, I’m pretty happy with boiled wool! Gross name and all :) Tell me – have you ever sewn with boiled wool? Would you? Or do you think the name just sounds nasty? :)

Last thing – time to announce last week’s giveaway winner! After a harrowing 208 comments, random number generator chooses….

winner2
winner1

Yay! Congratulations, Dawn! I will be in touch to get that book to you – so you can start making those pajama bottoms asap! First time for everything ;) (also, can we kill that rumor that Random.org never chooses the first or last number? Because, clearly, not the case!).

Thanks to everyone who entered, and thanks for all your lovely comments on the post (and thank you, Roost Books, for letting this giveaway be possible!). If you’re still itching to buy yourself a small piece of Tilly, you can buy Love at First Stitch from Amazon, or directly from the magic-maker herself.

Happy Friday, everyone! :)

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