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Time For A Sewing Room Tour!

29 Jul

Finally, a tour of my new sewing room! This post has been a long time coming – honestly, this room has been set-up and fully functional since the first couple of weeks after we moved (because I have priorities), but I’ve put off sharing the big reveal until I felt that the room was “finished.” As always, I’ve realized that this room will never really be finished – I still want to hang some more lights, make a new ironing board cover, get a couple more rugs, etc etc – but it’s as finished as it’ll be for now. And now it’s time to share!

Soooo – welcome to my new sewing room, the Kingston Springs edition!

Sewing RoomThis room is funny shape, so getting photos was a little difficult. It’s basically an L shape – there are two little nooks off each end, and the corridor between is wide enough so that you can shove furniture against the wall and still be able to walk through. Here I have drawn you a shitty not-to-scale diagram to give you an idea of the layout. I used Comic Sans as my font choice to make it extra obnoxious. sewing room layout So, as you can see – two nooks with a bit of a walkway. The hallway going off the photo leads to our bedroom and bathroom, and the diagonal line off to the side of the cutting area is a doorway leading to our private living room/Landon’s office. The rectangles are windows and doors – one window in each the sewing and cutting nook, and the door is to the side of the desk. Our apartment is in the basement of the house, so the stairs lead up to the main floor. I’ll admit that when Morgan asked if I wanted to move into her BASEMENT, I was like, “lol no fucking way I ain’t your kid.” But, forreal, this is a pretty happy basement – it has windows and a door that leads outside, so it gets a good amount of light. Although it was a little scary when I first saw it, and it definitely took some TLC to get it to the point that it is now. The room is quite smaller than it looks – my rough measurements put it around 130 square feet. My old sewing room was about 200 square feet, so there was some downsizing and furniture Tetris in order to get everything to fit. It was a little brain-bending at times, but I think it turned out pretty awesome!

Before we moved in, we had to fix the basement up a little. We were really lucky that Morgan moved into the house a few weeks before we did, so we could do this at our leisure (and not live in the middle of a construction zone). The basement is finished and was fully carpeted. We tore out the carpet in the sewing room area – it was completely soaked with cat urine and was beyond saving. The carpet in the bedroom and living room, as well as the stairs, was ok, so that’s still there. Since the unfinished concrete floors were pretty beat-up looking (although thankfully not stained with pee odor! THANK GOD FOR THAT) and nobody wanted to invest in flooring right now, we simply stained them with.. um, some shit from the hardware store haha. We also installed the screen door outside; eventually I’d like to replace the door with one that has a window, but I ain’t got the budget for that now.

I painted the majority of the room by myself – the color is “Aquatic Mist” by Valspar, and the insides of the windows is some color called “Blanket” (I don’t recall the brand, but I will fully admit that I bought the color based solely on the name alone. Who names a paint color Blanket?? Michael Jackson?). Well, majority except for the long hallway leading to the back half – that stayed unpainted for like 2 months, because I wanted Landon to help me with rolling and we kept putting it off. He actually painted it for me as a surprise while I was in Peru, which might very well be the best welcome home gift I’ve ever been recipient of. Ok, I think I’ve talked enough! I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story :) Sewing Room

Starting with general layout photos – here’s the desk area.

Sewing RoomThe hallway leading to the back of our living area. And that giant wall that Landon painted! Sewing Room

The top photo in this post is the sewing area – here’s a view of the wall behind the machines. That tiny nook under the stairs ended up being exactly the right size to fit my pattern cabinet.

Sewing RoomThe opposite nook is the cutting and pressing area, as well as my fabric stash along the wall. Sewing Room

The ironing station. I REALLY wish I’d been able to find a way to keep the ironing board closer to the sewing machines, but the room layout just wouldn’t work around it (and I wanted to keep my desk in the center of the room). It’s not so bad to walk to the ironing board, I guess – I tell myself that a little exercise won’t kill me haha.

Sewing RoomMore of the cutting area. Sewing Room

Standing behind the cutting table, looking back toward the desk.

Detail shots:

Sewing RoomThese bookshelves are below the wall shelves in the cutting area – I keep my collection of sewing books here, as well as my yarn stash (it’s ALL in that basket! I can’t keep my fabric stash under control, but I’ve managed ok with my yarn stash!) and embroidery supplies (in the 70s floral filing box). The blue metal basket up top is where I keep my lingerie sewing queue, and the wooden FL box is my regular sewing queue. I’ve found it’s easier for me to do all my cutting at once for a few projects, and then I can work through the bundles without having to stop and cut another project. Sewing Room

Over the bookshelf are these two wall shelves that I hung ALL BY MYSELF (like a boss). I wouldn’t normally get all riled up over hanging a wall shelf, however, these were heavy AF and I somehow even managed to get them level idk. Anyway, the boxes are for small notions/tools that I have masses of – mostly lingerie supplies and zippers. I haven’t filled all the boxes quite yet, but I figure that’ll happen in due time haha.

Oh, and the plants on top are fake. Obviously. They are the only fake plants in this room, though… for now.

Sewing RoomI love this pattern so much, I hung it in a frame so I could admire it all the time :) Sewing Room

The wall at one end of my cutting table is where I have my cork boards and tools. One board is for general inspiration/love notes – just things that make me happy. The other board is my project board – I’ve found by having a visual running list with swatches and sketches out where I can actually see it (i.e., not in a book or lurking on the internet), I can more easily keep track of my make list. Sometimes I forget what patterns or fabric I have in my gigantic stashes, and this is really helpful!

Sewing RoomHere’s the other end of the cutting table, and one of two windows! That plant is totally alive and not fake, btw. Sewing Room

This is the view from the window. Ahh! We are totally ground-level and I look straight into the woods. Amelia loves to sit in this window and watch the birds, and sometimes Turtle (the beagle) will come sniffing around when she’s outside and it always freaks Amelia out because they are eye-level haha.

Sewing RoomA little more about the cutting table! I built this myself (well – I use the term “built” loosely; it’s IKEA furniture that I screwed together haha) and it’s pretty awesome! I used two Kallax shelves and a Linnmon table top (there is a whole list of links at the bottom of the post for the specific products I used), and 4 sets of Kallax casters to raise it to counter height/make it moveable. One end, I installed 2 drawers on top, and bought 2 little fabric boxes for extra storage (if you were wondering – one box holds swimsuit fabric, and the other holds a mass of vintage zippers still in their packages – too big for the cardboard boxes on the shelves). I also installed a rod to hold my scissor collection on S hooks. They do sit in front of the drawers, but it’s easy to slide them out of the way when I need to access the drawers (which isn’t terribly often). Due to the width of the rod where it screws in, I could only install it on that side.

Those of y’all who have seen previous sewing rooms of mine (we’re on #6 as of this writing… I’m a dedicated woman for sure. I also live in an area with a low cost of living. Yay!) will recall that I had a Norden Gateleg table as my old cutting table. It was ok for a cutting table – I liked the size and that it folded down to be very narrow. However, the height was always bad for me, even when raised on blocks (and, again, I’m 5’2″, so I don’t have extra height to deal with here). I also hated that I couldn’t fit anything under the table due to how the legs were arranged to raise the leaves. And the drawers were a funny shape that I never found useful. I like this table a lot better – it’s pretty much countertop-height with the casters, and I have lots of storage options with the shelves/drawers/boxes. Plus, if I ever give up on sewing (lol no), I can always disassemble it and use the pieces individually on their own. Or sell it – Nashville doesn’t have an IKEA (we have to drive 4 hours to Atlanta), so people here seem to think that shit is made of gold and will pay top dollar for it haha. Which is exactly what I did with the Norden. Bye, Felica!Sewing Room

The inner side of the cutting table has more storage boxes – silk scraps, leather scraps, craft supplies, knit swatches, and my dye pot.

Sewing RoomThis little cart fits perfectly under the table as well. I keep a bunch of weird stuff here – cutting and marking tools, pressing supplies, extra pincushions, my hammer and a spray bottle. Sewing Room

The ironing station is right next to the cutting table. My iron is a silver star ES-300, which is a gravity feed iron and it’s AWESOME. The one thing that seems to scare people the most about using a gravity feed (other than the sheer steam power behind it) is that it doesn’t have an auto shut-off, and they are afraid they’ll accidentally leave it on and burn the house down. I solved this issue by plugging my iron into a power strip that also has paper lantern lights running from it – so if the strip is on, the lights are also on (and, thus, the iron is on). It’s pretty easy to tell if the iron is on that way! That overflowing box of fabric houses all my scraps from cutting. I try to find homes for that shit as quickly as possible because the pile can quickly get overwhelming otherwise.

Sewing RoomNext to the ironing board is my fabric stash – organized somewhat by type/color (jerseys/knits on one side, wovens on the other). I installed little cabinet doors on the bottom, to hide unsightly stash (fabric scraps and linings) and boxes for the unfoldables (interfacings and lingerie fabrics). The roll of paper on top is super handy for pattern tracing or if I just want to make a giant doodle of something. As far as *how* I stash my fabric – I used to fold, but now I roll. Folding looks really pretty, but I could never seem to keep it neat (mostly because my attitude went somewhere along the lines of “ah, fuck it.”). Now I roll my fabric and just stack it in the little cubes. It much easier to keep everything organized this way!

As you can probably tell, this area is also Cat Central. Amelia likes to hang here – on the rug, in front of the screen, all up in my silks – so I keep her scratching pad here, and there’s always at least one toy lurking around.Sewing Room

I like having my desk in the middle of the room, so I can easily hear music/videos while I’m working. It’s also close to the door (which is open 99% of the time, bc fresh air lol yay). I work from home a couple days a week, so it was important for me to have a nice workspace to sit at. I also hung those shelves above the desk, also by myself. I really love shelving. And boxes, for that matter.

Sewing RoomTo the left of the desk is the sewing area. This is where I keep my machines, patterns, and a bunch of notions. Sewing Room

And here’s the view out of that window, in case you were curious :)

Sewing RoomOn one table, I keep both of my standard sewing machines – I have a Bernina 350PE and a Pfaff 7570. The Bernina is my main machine, but it’s really nice having 2 when you are working on a project that requires a lot of thread changes (such as jeans). For those, I use the Pfaff for construction and the Bernina for topstitching. Above the machines are buttons, notions, and thread racks. Sewing Room

More thread racks, plus my favorite sewing room art :D

Sewing RoomThe dedicated serger table has additional storage, which is handy. My serger is a Babylock Imagine, FYI. Sewing Room

Behind the sewing machines, in the weird little nook under the stairwell, is where I keep my pattern stash. On top of the cabinet, I have storage for trims and elastics, plus a running queue of the patterns I want to make next (before I cut them and put them in the cut queue box by the cutting tables. Man! All these systems!). That bag hanging on the lemon hook is my knitting bag.

Taking photos of my sewing room is hard because it's such a funny shape! Here's a shitty panoramic to give you an idea of what I'm working with.

Finally, here’s an Instagram panorama of the room!

SHOPPING LIST:
Most of the stuff in this room is either thrifted or from IKEA. I’ve tried to compile everything here, but feel free to ask if you are curious as to where I got something! If it’s not on the list, chances are I bought it used (like from the thrift store or flea market). Like I said, I’ve had an on-going sewing room in every house I’ve lived in for nearly the past 10 years, so I’ve had a LOT of time to collect stuff and learn what works best for my set-up and organizational needs. Oh, and one more thing, because I’m always asked this – yes, it does always stay this clean! “Messy” for me is if there is a project on the cutting table. I never lets piles accumulate and I’m pretty good about putting stuff away when I’m done with it. I can’t stand to work in a messy room, plus, this area is the walk-through to get to the rest of our basement suite, so I have to be mindful of that for Landon’s sake.

Wall paint color: Aquatic Mist by Valspar

Sewing nook
Serger table: thrifted + painted
Sewing machine table: family hand-me-down + painted
Pattern cabinet: thrifted + painted (for info on the boxes inside the cabinet, check out this post!)
DMC thread organizer: thrifted
Thread racks: given to me by Elizabeth, but here are some similars on Amazon- thread rack + serger thread rack
Turquoise hanging shelf: thrifted + painted
Chairs: thrifted
Sewing room art: Joanna Baker, via Madalynne giveaway
“I’ve Made A Huge Mistake” chalkboard sign: Custom made by Kaelah
Rug: Old Time Pottery

Desk area
Desk: Nashville flea market
Chair: Nashville flea market
Ceiling light: KNAPPA
Wall shelves: EKBY JÄRPEN / EKBY BJÄRNUM
Mesh drawer unit: LENNART
Rail/basket (above desk): BYGEL RAIL + BYGEL BASKET
Dressform: Professional female dressform with collapsible shoulders (also: full review here!)
Rug: Nashville flea market
Sewing machine print: Madalynne
Kitty Cat clock: gift from Landon

Fabric // Cutting area
Fabric shelf: KALLAX with 2 doors
Industrial paper roll: Given to me when my old job (advertising) was downsizing and clearing out the art room!
Paper lanterns: IKEA, like 10+ years ago
Rug: Nashville flea market
Wall shelves: EKBY JÄRPEN / EKBY BJÄRNUM
Bookshelf: thrifted
Cutting table: 2 KALLAX shelves + LINNMON tabletop + 2 KALLAX drawers + 4 KALLAX casters. Scissor rail is BYGEL RAIL + s-hooks
Tool baskets (under the corkboards): BYGEL RAIL + BYGEL container
Turquoise utility cart: RÅSKOG
Yellow storage boxes: DRÖNA
Large white storage boxes: IKEA, discontinued (these are similar)
Small white storage boxes: IKEA, discontinued (these are similar)
Fake plants: FEJKA

Ok, I think that’s it! Let me know if you have any questions :)

New Vogue Sewing Patterns: Fall 2015

14 Jul

Aaaaand they’re back again! I was actually right in the middle of working on a project (no shit, I just turned on my iron so I could start fusing interfacing once it was good and hot) when I noticed that Vogue had released Fall 2015 patterns. Took a quick lurk, and I’m afraid my poor project is just gonna have to wait because I have opinions and I need to share them right now!

V1466Vogue 1466 // Donna Karan Vogue 1466 – the jacket with a it’s own SARS mask! V1465

Vogue 1465 // Donna Karan

Forreal, tho, how low are those armholes? Looks like we’re fixin to head into sideboob territory any minute now. V1458 1Vogue 1458 // Ralph Rucci

I can’t wrap my head around this dress. The front looks ok (if you ignore the eye-searingly hideous fabric it’s made up with) – I’m all about some interesting seam lines à la Ralph Rucci, except that big diamond on the side just looks like a really shameful attempt at patching a hole. Then I looked at the back: V1458 2

The hell is going on back here? That wonky neckline just looks like a mistake (and now I’m noticing the wonk on the front neckline, too, ugh) and the horrible exposed darts are making me feel twitchy (especially considering they look like they’ve barely been pressed and now they’re all puffy and sad). Is the patchwork diamond pulling down that side of her dress with the weight of it’s shame? Straight outta the funny house, this dress. Ralph Rucci, ILU but why you gotta do this to yourself your patterns?? V1460Vogue 1460 // Badgley Mischka

“Ugh, when is this bitch going to shut up? I have to pee sooo bad.” V1462

Vogue 1462 // DKNY

“Hello, Ladies…”

V1461Vogue 1461 // DKNY

“You don’t understand – this is an Alaïa! It’s like a totally important designer!”V1459

Vogue 1459 // Koos Van Den Akker

I… sort of like this? Someone send help, I’m losing it.

V1467Vogue 1467 // Anne Klein

This is a seriously gorgeous jacket! The shiny buttons are cracking me up, though.V1467 2

Good day, sir!

V1463Vogue 1463 // Anne Klein

Now including eyebrows for your boobs – a must-have for the season’s fashion. V9127 1V9127 2Vogue 9127 // Vintage Vogue

Holy shit, the seaming details on this pattern are amazing. Total eye candy. Look at those little arrowhead tacks! Eep! I would totally make this just for the fun of it (and then never wear it, bc when the hell in my life does a dress like this fit?)V9135

Vogue 9135 // Kathryne Brenne

No words for this one. I think the picture is hilarious enough on it’s own.

V9140Vogue 9140 // Marcy Tilton

Oh my god, you guys – Marcy Tilton made something that actually looks normal! V9128

Vogue 9128

Who the hell chose this wretched print combination?

V9139Vogue 9139

~~ Haters gonna hate ~~ V9142

Vogue 9142

Not even an adorable little child can save you from this mistake of an outfit.

V9143Vogue 9143

VOGUE. WHAT IS HAPPENING. WHAT ARE YOU DOING. V9144

Vogue 9144

“Come and play with us. Forever… and ever… and ever.”

the-grady-twins-copy

What are you loves/hates from this collection?

OAL2015: Fabric, Size & Cutting

1 Jun

OAL_Banner

Happy Monday, everyone! We are officially kicking off the OAL (Outfit Along) this morning, so I hope you’re ready for it! As I mentioned in the announcement post, we won’t actually start the sewing until later this month, on 6/22, since I’ll be traveling outside of the country and won’t have much internet access (and I hate the thought of putting up a tutorial and then not being around to answer questions! Lame!). However, I figured I’d help get you guys rolling in the meantime with choosing your fabric, size, and cutting. Then when I’m back, we can get straight into sewing so you can finish these dresses before the deadline at the end of July! Sound good?

Of course, if you don’t need the sewing tutorials, then you are absolutely free to start the sewing whenever you’d like! This just goes for those of y’all who are waiting for tutorials :) For this year, I won’t be doing a full photo step-by-step of the entire pattern – but if you need those, most of the steps are similar to the ones from The 2014 OAL, so you can always browse through the tag for the tutorials. Things like sewing princess seams, sleeves or bias binding, and inserting a lapped zipper. All good stuff! Since it’s already up on the blog, I don’t see any point in reinventing the wheel (or subjecting those of y’all who aren’t following the OAL to a bunch of repeat tutorial posts, because, boo on that).

The tutorials I’ll be covering on this here blog are changing out the lining for bias facing (which can get a little weird around that back cutout, but don’t worry, I got your back!) and adding pockets. I will only be sewing View A, with the back cutout and no sleeves (that’s a lie, I’m still debating if I want to add the little cap sleeves. Decisions, decisions!). Again, the ~official~ dress pattern for the OAL is McCall’s 6887, but you are totally welcome to sew whatevererrrrr pattern you like!

First of all, here’s the fabric I’ve chosen for my dress!

OAL2015 - Fabric

This is some uhhhh-mazing Ikat cotton that I picked up from Mood Fabrics in NYC when I was there… um… March 2014. Ha! I’ve been apprehensive to sew it up because the print-matching looked to be a nightmare, and also, the fabric is pretty thick and I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of garment it would work with. I think it’ll be really nice for this dress; it has a good structure for the skirt, and the print is so fun! I haven’t decided what color bias binding to use for the insides – common sense would tell me black or white, but I’m thinking I might look for some turquoise or hot pink :) Something to add a little splash of color to the inside :)

OAL2015 - Fabric & yarn

Here it is with my yarn for the sweater portion – this is good ol’ Cascade 220 (my one true yarnlove), in a gorgeous mint color.

Don’t know what kind of fabric to choose for your dress? First of all, think about how you want the finished dress to look – do you want a bit of structure in the skirt and bodice, or do you want everything to hang in soft folds? You will want to choose a fabric with a weight and drape that work with what you have in mind. For this particular pattern, I really like how it looks with more structured fabrics – such as linen, cotton eyelet, cotton sateen, or even quilting cotton! This blog post I wrote for last year’s OAL goes over all the details for choosing and weight and drape, and shows you the differences between several fabrics. I’d recommend checking that out first, if you’re confused!

Here are some fabrics I’ve pulled off the ‘nets that would be lovely for this pattern –

coral eyelet
Italian Red Coral Eyelet – from Mood Fabrics
This would be a great choice for adding a lining – or if you want to skip the lining and still go with bias binding finishes, make sure you get an appropriate underlining. You could also sew a matching slip :)

tropical sateen
Tropical Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
Busy prints are great for hiding wonky seams, if you’re concerned about neatness :) If you plan on sewing this pattern with a stretch fabric, you may want to consider sizing down (make a muslin out of similar weight/stretch fabric first, to check!).

abstract sateen
Abstract Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
I couldn’t resist. This fabric is AMAZING.

seersucker
Red and White Striped Cotton Seersucker – from Mood Fabrics
Easy to sew and lovely to wear, cotton seersucker is a great option if you live in a hot climate. I love the classic red and white stripes!

linen
Pinstriped Linen from Blackbird Fabrics
Another good option for hot climates. This linen is similar to the stuff I used to make my linen pajamas :)

shirting
Denim Chambray Cotton Shirting – from A Fashionable Stitch
Ain’t nothing that says you have to use shirting to make shirts. Make yourself a comfy little dress instead :)

agf
Art Gallery Fabrics: Arizona from Grey’s Fabric
Quilting cotton is a surprisingly good choice for this pattern, since it has the weight and drape that looks best with the bodice and skirt – and you have aaaalll kinds of fun prints to choose from :D I’ve never personally sewn with Art Gallery Fabrics, but everyone on the internet seems to go apeshit over them. At any rate, this is one helluva fun print!

A few notes about fabric:
– As I mentioned, if you’re sewing stuff that’s on the sheer side and you don’t want to mess with a lining, make sure you get an appropriate underlining fabric. I prefer to use white cotton voile or batiste (or black, or, whatever color looks best with my fabric), as it doesn’t add too much weight. If you aren’t sure about the weight, hold it with a piece of your main fabric and see how you like the way it feels. I won’t be covering underlining in this OAL, but I have a tutorial on my blog if you need help!
– Those of y’all sewing stripes or directional prints (meaning if you turn it the other way, it’s quite obviously upside-down) – make sure you buy extra fabric! Depending on the width of your fabric and the size you’re cutting, 1/2 yard – 1 yard will do.
– Prewash your fabric, however you plan on sewing your final garment. For me, that’s a cold wash and a low tumble dry (I hang my dresses to dry once they’re done – only because I hate ironing! Ha. But I always pre-shrink in the dryer just in case it accidentally gets tossed in there later down the line!).
– For your bias facings (and pockets, for that matter!), you may want to use a lighter fabric if your main fabric is a bit bulky. This is the case with my Ikat – I don’t want bulky facings, so I’m getting something lighter. Again, cotton batiste or voile is a really good choice for this, as is quilting cotton or cotton shirting. You can use almost anything, but remember that you’re dealing with skinny strips cut on the bias, so maybe don’t try the silk right now (unless you’re feeling really brazen!). Also, get something that presses well – like cotton or rayon. You will be pressing the hell out of your facings, and you want something that will respond to that. Polyester is not a good choice for this. I always stash-raid for this kind of thing, but if you’re buying, you’ll need about 1/2 a yard (and you’ll have tonssss left over to make even more bias binding, so get something you really love :) ). Of course, you also buy those pre-made bias tapes – I don’t care for them, because I think the fabric is too stiff to look nice (and the color selection is very limited), but it’s definitely a lazy option if you don’t want to make your own. You’ll need the kind that is 1″ wide.
– To make your dress, you will also need interfacing, an invisible zipper (I prefer this dress finished with an invisible zipper, but you can try a lapped zipper if you’d like) and at least 3 buttons for the back, if you’re making the scoop back version.

For choosing your size, again, I will refer to you to Last year’s post in the OAL. Scroll past all the fabric, and there’s a section on choosing your size based on the finished measurements. McCall’s patterns can have quite a bit of ease in them, so this is a more accurate way of choosing the correct size. This is how I size *all* of the patterns I make, and it has yet to let me down :) As an example – my body measurements put me into a size 10, but I sew the 6 (graded to 8 at the waist) for my finished garment, and it fits perfectly. Check those finished measurements!

If this is your first time making the pattern, I would strongly advise you to make a muslin mock-up of at least the bodice so you have a good idea of how the finished garment will fit. This gives you a good opportunity to make any necessary adjustments before cutting into your fabric. It’s also important if you’re sewing the version with the scoop back – I found the scoop came up higher than my bra band, and this may be the case for you as well. Can’t fix it once you’ve already sewn it up! For the muslin, you can make the whole dress if you’d like – but I just sew up the bodice and leave off any finishing. Pin the back shut as best you can to get a good assessment of the fit.

Once you’ve got your size and muslin done, THEN it’s time to cut your fabric! Refer to this post about cutting and marking fabric (also from last year’s OAL hahahaha sorry) if you need any help :) You will be following the cutting guidelines that are included in your pattern; make sure you follow them carefully so you cut the correct number of pieces. The side skirt piece should be cut TWICE on the double layer, for a total of 4 pieces.

OAL2015 - Cutting the back bodice

You may also want to consider adding a little extra fabric allowance below the scoop back, just to give yourself more bra coverage (I added about 1/2″). There is also a 5/8″ seam allowance there, and we’ll be sewing at 1/4″ to apply the bias, so keep that in mind as well. Your muslin will tell you exactly how much you need to add (if any at all!) to cover your bra band. Or maybe I just wear my bra band low, ha.

FINALLY, if you’re cutting stripes or plaids and need help matching – here’s another tutorial link for that. Man! I’m so glad I already wrote all these tutorials haha!

Ok, whew, I think that about covers it! Do you have any questions about the prep work that I haven’t covered in this post? Let me know before I ditch town on Thursday 6/4 and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can :) Have you chosen your fabric and yarn yet? Let’s have a look, please! :)

Announcing the 2015 OAL!

15 May

Happy Friday, everyone! I just wanted to pop in and let y’all know that the Outfit Along is back for a second year! WOOHOOO!!!

OAL_Banner

Once again, I’m joining forces with Andi Satterlund of Untangling Knots to combine a sew-along with a knit-along. The idea behind the Outfit Along (OAL) is to make a complete outfit by sewing a garment and knitting a garment. This is a great opportunity to stretch your crafting skills, and we’ll have two official patterns that we’ll help you with along the way.

The official sewing pattern will be McCall 6887, and the official knitting pattern will be Andi’s newest cardigan pattern, Vianne. I will be blogging about the official sewing pattern and Andi be blogging about the knitting pattern so we can all sew and knit along together. If you don’t love the official patterns, you can still join in! The Outfit Along is about making an outfit you’ll really wear, so to participate, all you need to do is to sew a garment and knit a garment to make an outfit. You’re more than welcome to pick projects that fit your own style and skills. You can look through the 2014 Outfit Along FO thread in the Untangling Knots group on Ravelry to see the variety of patterns people chose to use last year.

Vianne

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

You can read all the juicy details over at Untangling Knots, but in a nutshell:

– We will be kicking off the OAL on June 1, 2015.
– The deadline for completion is July 31, 2015, which gives you two months to finish both garments.
– Did I mention that finishing within the deadline means you are eligible for PRIZES? Yes! We are cooking up some fun pattern giveaways to reward those of y’all who complete their outfit within the allotted deadline, so stay tuned for more information!
– To be eligible for said prizes, you must finish BOTH garments by July 31, 2015 and post them in the OAL Finished Outfit thread in the Untangling Knots group on Ravelry. Prize winners will be randomly selected from those who finish both their knit and sewn garments and post pictures in the appropriate thread by the deadline.

Vianne_Back
The official knitting pattern, Vianne, is a seamless, top-down cardigan, knit using DK weight yarn on US 8/5mm needles, which makes it a lovely lighter weight cardigan for the summer months. The v-neck cardigan features a set of mirrored lace panels that run along the front neckline and frame a large mesh panel on the back. To celebrate Vianne’s launch, Andi is offering 20% off up until the official OAL start of June 1. Use the code OAL2015 to snag the discount! You can read more details in the Untangling Knots shop or check Vianne out on Ravelry.

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!
The official sewing pattern, McCall 6887, is a fun little summer dress with a surprise cut out in the back! You probably remember my Pineapple Delight version from a few weeks ago – well, I’m dying to make more, and I want to drag all y’all down with me (mwahaha). The pattern features front princess seams, skirt variations (flared or fitted) and the optional open back (there is also an option for a non-open back if that’s your jam!). I will be covering basic construction of the dress, and including tips swapping out the lining for a clean bias facing, and adding pockets. The pattern is rated as “easy,” so y’all beginners should have no problem tackling this! Also, just a head’s up – I just checked my local Joann’s and it looks like all McCall’s patterns are on sale for 3/$5 through 5/16, so go save some dollaz!

Since I’ll be traveling around Peru during the first couple of weeks of the OAL, we won’t start the sewing portion until June 22nd. Of course, you are welcome to get a head start and begin sewing on June 1; there just won’t be any sew-along posts until the 22nd! Andi will be managing the knitting posts over on her blog starting on June 1. If you knit and sew along with us, you’ll get your projects done in plenty of time.

Help spread the word and grab one of the badges below or use the hashtag #OAL2015. If you want to hang out and chat about the OAL, come join the OAL2015 Discussion Thread in the Untangling Knots group on Ravelry. You do need a Ravelry account to view and post on the thread, but it’s totally free and totally worth it if you do any knitting at all :)

OALBadge3

 

OALtag_2015

Y’all, I am SO EXCITED. Who else is joining in the Outfit Along this year?

Why I Sew

16 Apr

Sewing room sneaky peek

“Why do you sew?” This is the question that I get asked on a near daily basis – evenly distributed between curious blog comments, emails, face-to-face introductions, and random strangers who compliment something handmade that I happen to be wearing. Obviously, I am happy to talk about sewing until I start seeing eyes glaze over (oh, who am I kidding, I’m not gonna let that stop me one bit), but it’s not really something I’ve ever discussed at large on this blog. Since I’m currently in this weird blogging purgatory where I have finished projects but can’t take photos due to the current torrential downpours going on right now, let’s talk about it! And have some new sewing room sneaky-peeks while we’re at it :D

As some of you may know, I learned how to sew through self-teaching. I’ve been around sewing my entire life – my mom made a lot of curtains, stuffed bunnies, and Easter dresses throughout my childhood, and I even had my own little sewing kit that I’d use to fashion Barbie-sized clothing and quilts. I started using her sewing machine when I was around 13 or 14, as someone on my favorite AOL message board (haha YEP) mentioned that they would sew up the sides of their band shirts to make them fit better. MIND. BLOWN. I used sewing strictly for alterations for a few years, and it wasn’t until I was 20 that I started trying to use sewing patterns. I learned everything – from threading the machine, to deciphering the pattern jargon, to learning new techniques – from books and the occasional internet research (I didn’t have internet in my house 10 years ago, so most of my early knowledge came from reading the Vogue Sewing Book cover to cover, like a freaking novel). That was back before blogging really took off, before sew-alongs were a thing, before I even knew that there was a site like Pattern Review and definitely during a time when we gave indie pattern companies a wary side-eye because we weren’t sure if they were to be trusted.

When I started sewing, I never had any intentions of eventually having a 100% me-made wardrobe. I never imagined that sewing would ever earn me any sort of income, not outside the random $10-$15 for an occasional pants-hem. I never really thought about it while it was happening – it was just, oh, great, a new hobby to immerse myself in! I did eventually start selling the clothing that I was making, as a way to offset some of my costs and give myself the go-ahead to sew up looks and fabrics that I’d never personally wear. That lasted for a few years, and it was pretty fun! I ultimately closed down the line because it was taking up too much of my selfish sewing time (NO RAGRETS).

noragretsI’ve been perfecting my craft for nearly 10 years at this point (I don’t count those early days pre-20 because, honestly, the only action my sewing machine got was nipping in the side seams of whatever random band shirt I’d bought the night before. Seriously. Soooo many band shirts), which is kind of crazy to me! I’ve had a lot of hobbies in the past, but this one has definitely stuck around the longest, and turned into an actual passion as opposed to something I do every few weeks so I have something to chat about at parties.

So, with all that being said – I give you my top 5 reasons (in no particular order) as to why I sew.Sewing room sneaky peek

REASON #1: Mood-Altering Abilities

I love sewing because it’s a good mood-changer for almost any situation I encounter. If I’m bored, it’s entertaining. If I’m feeling stressed, it’s relaxing. If I’m angry, it calms me down. Everything about the entire process – from planning, to cutting, to prepping, to stitching, to finishing – makes me feel drastically better than I did before the project started. Truth, if I go too long without getting some creative release taken care of (such as those couple weeks during our recent move), I start getting angsty and upset. Sewing just makes me feel really good, which is more than I can say about other hobbies. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t peel myself off the couch after an afternoon of TV binge-watching and think, “Man. That was a productive day.” And hey, since sewing is considered entertainment – it’s REALLY easy to justify spending money on it :) Ha!

 

REASON #2: Problem Solving

I am a problem-solver at heart. Give me a dilemma, and I’ll roll it around in my head for a few hours (or days) and try to come up with the most effective solution. I was one of those math nerds in high school who loved both Algebra AND Geometry. Figuring my way out of puzzle keeps my brain active and happy, and sewing is a really good way to incorporate that into my every day life. I love being presented with a challenge – whether it involves fitting, fabric, or finishing – and kicking that challenge right in its big, stupid ass. I’m not really a brain expert here or anything, but I like to think that exercising that part of my brain that solves problems and figures out puzzles makes me a better problem-solver overall, in all aspects of my day to day life. Whether or not that’s actually true, of course, is up for debate, but again – it makes me feel good. I like feeling good.

 

REASON #3: Level 10 Bartering // Income

When my sewing skills were still in their infancy, I learned a lot of what I know just from hacking away at alterations (first, my own, later, everyone else’s). I hemmed pants, I shortened bridesmaid dresses, I repaired couch pillows and cushions, I made custom curtains (fun fact: one time I made curtains for Emerson Hart. Those celebrities in Nashville, they’re everywhere!), I made dog clothes and Halloween costumes, and I also made about 100 flat-sheet sleeping sacks for a local hostel (you wanna know why I can sew in such a straight line? I had a LOT of practice making those sacks! ha!). I advertised on Craigslist and charged low rates, and made some decent money over the years. Not enough to quit my day job, obviously – but enough for a night out of drinking, or to pay for gas for the week, or to add to my savings for an upcoming trip. I was pretty poor during most of those 10 years – I was an irresponsible 20something with loads of credit card debt who spent way too much money on cigarettes and alcohol – and these random little alteration jobs kept me afloat when I needed it most. This is something I can always fall back on – and I still do, from time to time. When I was jobless during the last month of 2013, you best believe I was hawking the alterations like a crazy person. Not only was I able to cover my rent and bills – I also was able to tuck some money into savings. Yay!

I do pretty all right now with my current work, so I’m not dying for additional income right now – but I still using sewing as the bestest bartering tool. Like that one time when I had to take to small claims court that asshole who hit my car (AND THEN LIED ABOUT IT) – I bartered with my lawyer friend, who agreed to represent me in court in exchange for making him a Princess Peach dress for Halloween.

Check out the finished man-sized Princess Peach dress that I made for my attorney (yes, he's awesome)! Last year, I was in a minor car accident that the insurance refused to pay out (despite none of it being my fault), and this guy was nice enough to repr

I cannot make this shit up. Again – sewing is the best bartering tool evarrr. I wouldn’t have been able to afford a lawyer otherwise, but I *can* afford my time! Also, I won the case. Mostly because it was total bullshit, but, I digress.

 

REASON #4: Makes Me A Better Consumer

Y’all. For as much as I’m a bleeding hippie about a whole myriad of aspects in my personal life, I used to be a really really terrible consumer. I spent way too much money (see above RE: credit card debt) and I treated most of what I bought as disposable. I didn’t have a lot of control in a lot of really important parts of my life (early 20s were a very dark time for me, to put it mildly), so I shopped. A lot. Sewing helped me get out of the funk in two ways – for one, it gave me something to be happy about and have control over (see reason #1) and it did a number on curbing the consumerism. Once you see how much effort goes into making a single piece of clothing – even a simple fucking tshirt – it becomes a bit mind-blowing to realize that there are stores selling that shit for as little as $2. How? I also started noticing just how crappy the quality is on a lot of the stuff we buy – awful fabrics, pieces cut off-grain, horrible seam finishes, bad fit – especially when you compare it to vintage pieces, or hell, even shit from 15 years ago. All that being said, I really drastically cut down on the amount of stuff I was buying – mostly because it seemed ridiculous to pay $$$ for something horribly made that I could do a better job of myself at home. Once I started getting picky about fit and realized that I was going to have to alter everything I bought, it made clothing shopping even less appealing. I gradually pulled back from buying new clothing over the years, and as of now, I’m rocking the almost-entirely handmade wardrobe.

Also, I read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion when it was published, and it totally blew my mind. If you’re one of 3 people who hasn’t yet heard of this book, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It will change your (shopping)life.

Sewing also played a part in getting that credit card debt finally paid off once and for all. I spent nearly an entire year living as shitty as possible and funneling the majority of my income into that stupid debt. When I say majority, I really mean it – I gave myself $20 per pay period (so, $40 a month) to spend on fun money after my bills were paid. Everything else went back into that looming debt. It obviously sucked and I’m definitely planning on not ever going through that again. Also – what can you do with $40 a month? That’s like 2 movies, or a month of REALLY shitty cable (or, for me – one night out at the bar). Lame! I sewed my way through my stash, and re-upped with monthly trips to our flea market (where $40 actually does go pretty far!). Instead of going out to the bar, I stayed home in my sewing room. Not only was I keeping myself entertained, I was also contributing to my wardrobe (because, again: $40 a month.). I made additional income from alterations, which I also dumped right into that debt. I was able to pay that shit off about a month earlier than I had anticipated, and I’ve been debt-free ever since! Yay!

 

REASON #5: Complete Wardrobe Control

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is why the majority of us sew – it gives us complete control of our wardrobe! It’s pretty awesome to be able to choose what you wear based on what you want, and not what’s just available in stores. It’s mind-blowing to be able to finish a garment and know that it is going to fit you just the way you like, without needing a bunch of alterations. And don’t even get me started on the merits of having control over the fabric – how many of us have used novelty bedsheets or ridiculous quilting cotton to make a crazy dress?

New garment sneaky peek

I started sewing specifically for the wardrobe control – beginning with those band tshirts, and making my flares into skinny jeans (because I couldn’t find them in stores, because it was 1999 and everyone worshiped The Flare). I started using patterns because I wanted cotton sundresses made out of ~quirky~ fabrics (mostly those novelty bedsheets, of course). I used vintage patterns because I wanted a vintage wardrobe without paying a hefty price for my pieces. I continued sewing and honing my craft because I want clothes that fit my body and are made of natural fibers, in colors and patterns that I like (versus whatever is available at Express this season). I want clothing with special details and one-of-a-kind designs. I am inspired by the clothing I see- from designers on the runway, to costume design in movies and television, to rando people walking in front of me on the sidewalk – and I recreate it in ways that work for my wardrobe and lifestyle. While I do occasionally complain about how there are RTW fabrics that I never see available for the home sewer, that’s a pretty small drop in the bucket compared to the choices we DO have over the typical clothing consumer. Sewing isn’t exactly known for saving you money these days (I mean, unless you’re ripping off really expensive designer shit), but it certainly puts you in charge of wearing what you want, which to me is worth far more than saving a little bit of cash. I always think back on those skinny jeans that I wore when I was 14, surrounded by a sea of flares, and it feels pretty good to know that I don’t have to put myself at the mercy of whatever is currently in style. I wear what I want, and I give no fucks.

deal-lladybird

So that’s the story of why I sew – in a nutshell, it makes me happy! I like being happy :) Now tell me – why do you sew? What gets your little (sewing)motor going? Do you aspire to the eventual 100% handmade wardrobe, or are you content just pushing out the occasional fiber art because it makes you feel good? Time to get our chat on!

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