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Review: eShakti, revisited

8 May

Here be another product review for eShakti.com. I wasn’t 100% thrilled with the first dress they sent me (honestly, it ended up getting donated because I just COULD NOT deal with those arm holes), so after they contacted me, I decided to give them a second chance.

For those of you who don’t know, eShakti is an online shop that sells a variety of cute lady clothes (not just dresses, there are skirts and blouses floating around there as well) in sizes 0-36, as well as offers inexpensive customizations for your size and certain style options (such as adding sleeves, shortening the hemline, etc). The prices are reasonable, and it’s definitely a good option if you normally have problems fitting into straight sizes, since you can adjust the measurements to correspond with *your* body.

Eshakti dress

This is the contrast poplin trim dress (unavailable now, sorry!). After the deal with the last dress, I was careful to choose something that-
1. Could easily be adjusted at the shoulders;
2. Was 100% cotton
This one fit the bill, and it was pretty cute, so I requested it and it was promptly shipped to me. I’m just going to say this now – I’ve been waiting to photograph this dress for a couple of months now. Why hasn’t it made it to the blog sooner?

Eshakti dress

UM. DO YOU SEE HOW SHORT IT IS?

I KNOW I just made like short short short BUTTCHEEK shorts, but shorts and a full-skirted dress are two entirely different beasts, if you will. I just can’t feel comfortable in a big skirt that only needs the slightest gust of wind to expose even more leg, you know? So I had to wait, and figure out my undergarment situation. And also buy a new bra – you can’t tell too much in these pictures because I’m wearing a strapless, but the straps are pushed way more toward the center than a standard bra. This means you cannot wear a bra with straps with this dress – the straps end up side-by-side. I needed a new strapless bra anyway, but man.

Eshakti dress

Anyway, back to the dress! It IS pretty cute – I love the nauticalness, and it looks equally good with bright yellow (or even brown!). It has pockets, as evidenced by me not taking my hands out of them at all. The quality is acceptable – nothing terrible, but nothing groundbreaking either. The back has elastic to accommodate more sizes (which honestly, kind of drives me crazy. If this is made-to-size, then why do you need elastic?). You can’t really see in these pictures, but there are some sweet tucks and covered buttons at the bodice. CUTE.

Eshakti dress

Eshakti dress

I do NOT understand how this dress came out so short, to be honest. I’m 5’2″ – I don’t think I’ve ever had an issue with a dress being too short on me. On my last dress, I requested that the hemline hit above the knee – and it’s knee-length on me (figures). So for this round, I chose “short dress.” And woohoooeeeooo is this dude short!

Eshakti dress

So what do you do with a too-short dress that can’t be let out at the hemline and cannot have length added (thank, stripes!)?

Eshakti dress

You make matching bloomers and pretend like it’s a playsuit set!

(Oh god, this picture is probably going to end up in sooo many Flickr spank-banks, ughh, the things I do for you guys haha)

Colette Madeline bloomers

Remember these? These are the Madeleine mini-bloomers, a free download from Colette patterns. Yep, free! I love these things and I knew they would go perfectly under this dress – the skirt is full enough where the bloomers don’t add bulk, and they’re cute enough where I don’t mind a wind situation now.

I used a remnant from my local fabric store, and pretty navy/red ribbon to tie it in with the dress.

Colette Madeline bloomers

I love the way the elastic looks at the waistline – and it’s sooo comfortable. Like wearing pajamas. I totally wear these are pajamas, btw.

Colette Madeline bloomers

Pretty sweet, huh?

Eshakti dress

I’m still not totally sure on my feels for eShakti at this time. They definitely need to add a skirt length measurement in the dress descriptions, because that would help when determining how much to shorten or lengthen if you are customizing. At least the sizing is much better this time – which I consider a personal victory with the size of my bust vs ribcage. So yay for that, I guess!

~*~Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post, although I did receive a sample to review & keep. All opinions on this product are my own.

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My Trip To NYC!

14 Mar

I’m baaaack!! Hope y’all have a big ol’ Lauren-shaped hole in your hearts that needs filling, because this is about to be a super long post, filled with lots of pictures that I mostly stole from other people’s blogs. What can I say – I was too busy ~enjoying the moment~ to be bothered to take pictures. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself ;) Rather than break this up into a bunch of posts, I’m just going to do one megapost so it’ll be easy to skip if you’re not interested!

Sonja kindly offered to let me crash on her couch while I was in town, so that’s where I stayed the majority of the week (a couple days were spent visiting some old Nashville friends up in Ossining. I took the train by myself and everything – so proud, you have no idea ha). Sonja was a GREAT hostess – with some of the cutest, no, THE cutest pugs ever! I would now like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my new girlfriend, her name is Peggy and she’s the cuddliest darling in the world:
Peg the Pug
LOOK AT THAT FACE. LOOK AT IT.

After an afternoon of eating cookies and lurking dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, we met up with some of the in-town Mood Sewing Network bloggers for dinner and drinks. I had a few people ask me this, so I just want to clarify – Mood didn’t have anything to do with my NYC trip. I mean, duh, fabric shopping was a big huge giant to-do at the top of the list… but I planned and paid for the trip on my own accord. Once that was set in action, Oona actually handled most of the meeting up deetz, including the Mood dinner. Honestly, I would have been totally lost and probably flailing in the dark somewhere if it hadn’t been for her and Sonja taking control of the plans. Thanks, ladiez!

Mood Dinner
Meeting Sonja and Oona made me feel like I was part an epic trio. I feel like I talked about this nonstop during my trip, but it’s so cool to meet people ~in person~ and realize that they are even more awesome than you guessed from reading their blogs. That’s how I felt about everyone I met. I don’t think I stopped the smiling the whole time I was there (and still smiling now, fyi!)

Mood Dinner
Meg from Mood joined us, as well as Carolyn (who I was super excited to meet!)

Mood Dinner
Peter showed up too!

Friday morning, I woke up bright and early to…
Snowwww!!
SNOOOWWWWWW!!!
Southerners will understand my delight. Snow! That sticks! And the whole city didn’t shut down! Such novelty!

Friday was the first day I spent fabric shopping – what started out as a pizza and spandex date ended up a 7 hour shopping spree, no lie! We started out just me, Sonja and Oona, then after lunch we added Peter and Carolyn for my first foray into Mood.

What can I say about the garment district? In one word, it is OVERWHELMING. The stores go on forever, all selling completely different stuff, and the prices vary wildly. There are specialized notion stores, stores for different types of fabric, stores that seem like they should be the same thing but aren’t (Spandex House, Spandex World). Some of the places I went in were cheeeeeap. Although, to be fair, Mood is pretty cheap compared to the prices I pay here in Nashville. Most of what I bought cost at least half of what I’m used to… some were even cheaper. I’m just going to say this right now: I bought a lot of fabric. Like… well, we’ll get to that in a minute. Anyway, the employees in Mood were so so great – every time I pulled out a bolt that I wanted, someone was standing behind me ready to drag it to my pile. The customer service in that place is great, I never felt like I had to track down someone for swatches or help finding something. Especially George. I loved George, he was my favorite!

First experience at Mood
Here is my first ~Mood Experience~. See? Overwhelmed in the best way possible. So glad I brought a detailed shopping list!

Saturday was meet-up day! I was SO EXCITED for this shit, I barely slept and actually woke up at 6:50A (woof… I don’t even get up that early to go to work!). But first, before meeting up at Mood for round #2, a boozy brunch was in order. Devra hosted at her seriously gorgeous/fancypants pad, where the champagne and coffee flowed freely (although not together, ew) and her badass cat kept jumping into my lap and we were BFFs within 5 minutes. Also brunchin’ with us was Wanett, Christine, and again Sonja/Oona/Peter.

Brunch meet-up

Brunch- Oona
Also within 5 minutes was Oona breaking a plate. She was smiling at me right before it happened, which means this is also partially my fault. SORRY DEVRA.

Brunch- swap+awesome cat
We also had a mini-swap, in which the cat showed us just how much of a badass he was by making himself at home right in the middle of the pile while everyone was digging.

Indiana Jones, the most awesome cat ever
GOD, I love that cat ♥♥♥

After we finished, I realized I was running late TO MY OWN FUCKING MEET-UP and hightailed it to Mood.

Big meet-up at Mood
And look at how many people showed up!! Awww!! You guys!!!!!
We took names and blogs and Oona shared the list with me when I got home (see what I mean about getting nothing done without her?!) – of course, this was after we spent about an hour in Mood, so I may have missed someone who slipped out early. Speak up if you don’t see your name here; I want to lurk aaaaall of you guys!
Gaby, Carly, Lee, Charlotte, Devra, Cindy, Janice, Allie, Lisette, Kim, Meredith, Kayleigh, Sonja, Oona, Rosie, Wanett, Shelley and Christine. Whew!!

We spent a good chunk of time in Mood, split into cackling packs and talking each other into buying fabrics (I like to think I’m very good at peer pressure but Carolyn proved on Friday that she has that shit down to an ART). Post-Mood, we ventured further into the Garment District to check out a few stores… specifically, Pacific Trimming, Chic Fabrics, and Fabrics for Less. Guys, if you have not shopped these stores… I have three words for you: $10 Wool Coating. ACK OMG.

We ended the meet-up at Houndstooth Pub, which we discovered when we tried to go to Stitch and realized they were closed. Houndstooth pub seemed like a good substitution – I mean, it being named after a fabric and all :) Although I feel kind of bad for the bar having to accommodate our enormous group on a moment’s notice – they were good sports about it! Also, the food was amazing.

Thanks again to everyone who was able to make it out to the meet-up – I’m so bummed that I didn’t have time to talk to everyone one-on-one, which means obviously there will need to be a round 2 in the future :) I really enjoyed getting to meet other sewists and I just love fabric shopping with people who actually get excited about that shit, ha! Y’all are the best!!

HOLD UP THOUGH because my trip is not over yet!!

Flea market
I woke up bright and early (too early… damn Daylight Savings Time. Wait, no, I actually love you) Sunday morning and took the train solo to meet with Devra, Wanett and Peter at the Chelsea flea market. I’m actually super proud of myself for getting there – considering I don’t understand how that public transportation shit works at all. I didn’t buy anything at the flea, but I had a lot of fun looking at all the stuff and gawking over some of the prices (guys… come to Nashville. I’ll show you my flea and you shall weep.).

Flea market - with Kenneth King (!!!)
We did run into Kenneth King, though! Holy shit, I was so starstruck!! He’s so funny and a great storyteller – and that jacket is way way way more amazing than any picture could convey. Trust me.

Ok, one more surprise star-studded meet-up…
Sunday night meet-up
Yep, that would be Karen, just dropping into NY the same weekend I was there! What are the odds!?!?

I don’t even remember where we ate, except that I had a lamb burger and the dessert was amazing and the girl sitting at the table next to us kept giving us the stink-eye. She was clearly on an awkward date, sux 2 b her. Karen is just as sweet as you would expect from her blog – and that accent! GOD why don’t I have an accent like that!?

My trip actually wrapped up on Tuesday, and I rolled back into Nashville late Tuesday night (my flights kept getting delayed waaah and LaGuardia airport sorta sucks, there I said it). I actually left the city on Sunday night, stayed with friends Monday & Tuesday in Ossining. I did go back into the city on Monday, to check out Soho and Chinatown… and also make a third trip back to the Garment District. Whoops.

Oh, I guess you wanna see the spoils, huh?

Fabric spoils, the whole lot
Here it is in a big giant pile on my sewing room floor. SO MUCH FABRIC, it barely fit in my suitcase (and spare duffel bag) haha. I actually spent most of the day yesterday prewashing it all and reorganizing my sewing room. I have plans for every single piece I bought.

Here are some individual pictures, collaged as not to overwhelm this already huge post! Almost everything is from Mood, anything that isn’t is indicated in parenthesis.
Fabric spoils, 1
Starting at top left: chambray, lightweight non-stretch denim, medium-weight linen from Marc Jacobs (confession: I chased this bolt around Mood on Saturday, as it switched dozens of hands. I have really exciting plans for it too, although I can’t tell you right this second!), striped ponte knit, striped cotton sateen (the colors look black, but they are navy and white), french terry, lightweight red wool crepe, yellow wool crepe (Carolyn talked me into both of these wool crepes… I was resistant because I live in such a warm climate – it’ll be 70* this weekend, ugh – but that woman could talk me into anything. Also, I’m really glad I bought them and I can’t stop touching them and admiring how lovely the colors are), swimsuit fabrics (Spandex House- the stripes are navy and white, and that weird underwear-looking shit in the background is the lining).

Fabric spoils, 2
Starting at top left: red seersucker (this was intended for my 2013 Sewlution, but upon further inspection I have realized the fabric is quite stretchy, so it might not work for it’s intended purpose. I will, however, find a use for it!!), red floral voile (Chic Fabrics), floral print swiss dot, leopard ponte knit, mint and red cotton jersey (Fabrics for Less), tiny bows Betsy Johnson silk (also from Fabrics for Less – I looove that guy, go buy his fabrics!), hot pink wool coating (Chic Fabrics), polka dot cotton batiste, gingham.

Fabric spoils, 3
Starting at top left: plaid seersucker (Oh god, I don’t remember where this is from… help? Was it Fabrics for Less??), assorted chiffons (from the swap), white cotton twill/brown lightweight corduroy (from the swap), bemberg linings and cotton batiste.

YEP.

Yarn
A big chunk of Sonja’s yarn destashing also went straight into my suitcase… check it out!

So that’s my trip to New York! Thanks again to everyone who made this trip so fucking amazing – Sonja, Oona, Meg, Carolyn, Peter, Devra, Wanett & Karen for taking me out/showing me around, and every single one of y’all who came out for the meet-up. It really means a lot to me and I look forward to more meet-ups in the future. Hopefully some more in New York (must go back!!), but hey, if you’re ever in Nashville… holler at me :)

Before I dump out of here, I have a few more things I wanted to mention!
- I am thrilled to announce that I will be joining a slew of talented ladies for Miss P‘s Refashioner’s Challenge. I remember watching the challenge unfold last year and loving all the makes that came out… and now it’s my turn!! Yay!!
- My girl Mari just started a new pattern line and is currently trying to raise funds for it! You can donate to the Kickstarter Campaign here. The first pattern up is a pullover hoodie – with pockets in the back so you can keep your hands warm while wrapping your arm around someone. GENIUS. The new goal is $1640, which will enable her to produce actual printed patterns. And she’s SO CLOSE. Please, donate if you can!
- I just found out yesterday that on July 1, my beloved Google Reader will be no more. First of all: Fuck you, Google. Second of all: Does anyone have reader suggestions that are similar to the look/feel of the gReader (I mean, other than Bloglovin)? Ughhh I’m so lost. Third of all: Now I guess is the time to claim my blog on Bloglovin, so following me there is an option!
- Speaking of RSS feeds, I had a few people tell me over the weekend that they were having trouble getting the Mood Sewing Network to show up in feeds. I had the same problem in the beginning – which meant I didn’t read the blog, since I’m not about to click back to something every and and see if maaaybe there is an update, you know? Anyway, I talked to the Mood staff about it and they helpfully pointed out that you need to click on the RSS button near the top-right corner, and copy that address into your subscription bar. I tested it in my reader and it worked like a charm, so I thought there might be other people who would want to know the solution too!
- And one last little Mood tidbit – I got a small shout-out in this month’s issue of Threads. AMAZING. Check it out – that’s my name in print, omgomgomg!!
Look! That's my name!!

Ok, I think that’s it! Thanks for hanging in there and letting me gush about my trip :)

Let’s Talk Sewing Machine Maintenance!

13 Feb

In the spirit of Karen’s series of True Confessions, I think most of us tend to plead guilty when it comes to maintaining our machines and keeping them in tip top sewing shape. Fess up, guys! Are you guilty of:
- Using the same needle for months at a time?
- Sewing over pins?
- Going far too long between regular tune-ups?
- Letting the lint build up to epic proportions?
- Forgetting to oil your machine?

Let me be the first to say that I definitely hit some of those categories myself. Oops! I’m very vigilant about keeping the lint to a minimum (I clean my machine with that tiny brush every time I wind my bobbin; yes, I get freaky like that), but I regularly forget to change my needle until it breaks from the sheer pressure of existing. I also didn’t realize you were supposed to oil a computerized machine. I thought that was only something you did with the manual ones. No wonder my stitches were looking like shit! Hello!!

Part of my problem is that I just never had anyone tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing. Yes, you should refer to your owner’s manual for upkeep on your machine – but how many of us actually read that? (if you have a Featherweight and you’ve read it like a book, you’re exempt from this question. We all read our Featherweight manuals like a book, because it’s fucking fascinating and the pictures are amazing). So today, let’s talk about those little basics that should be second nature but totally are not. It’s ok, we’re all in this together, y’all.

Changing your needle
We all know to change the needle when it’s broken – you can’t sew anything otherwise :) But did you know that you actually should be changing the needle far more frequently than that? Not just when there’s an issue. It is recommended that the needle is changed after 8 hours of sewing, which comes out to every 1-2 projects (depending on the project, of course). Waiting longer to change your needle causes it to get dull and loose the sharp point, which can result in wonky or skipped stitches (and hours of hair-pulling frustration, because ARGH!). I know it can be hard to remember to change your needle out that often – hell, I forget all the time, although I’m trying to be better about it. It helps to keep a stash of needles on hand (I buy a pack every time I go to the fabric store!), so you’re not tempted to try and plow through if the needle is super old but seems “good enough” -it’s probably not. You should also be proactive and change your needle if you ever manage to sew over a pin – it may look fine at a glance, but the tip is likely bent and this can also cause stitch problems. Which brings me to my next point…

Don’t sew over pins
I really hope I’m just preaching to the choir here, but just in case someone doesn’t know any better… DON’T SEW OVER YOUR PINS. Don’t don’t don’t! I cannot stress this enough! Sewing over pins causes all kinds of problems, from bending/breaking the needle (ever thought about where that broken tip might land? How about IN YOUR EYEBALL), to completely fucking up the timing of your machine so that you have to take it to the repair center and pay $ to have it fixed. Lame! Do yourself a big huge favor and pull those pins out before the needle gets anywhere near them. Do it for the sewing machines.

Regular Tune-ups
At the risk of sounding like a big fat sewing machine snob, it makes me cringe when I hear people brag about how their machine works so well and it hasn’t had a tune-up in decades. I understand that it may not be common knowledge that sewing machines need regular maintenance, but hey – that’s not something to brag about! Think about your car (if you don’t have a car, you can think about someone else’s car ;)) – would you let that thing go so long between tune-ups? Hell no! A sewing machine must have very precise timing to function correctly; if one little beat is off, it can wreck the whole output. Getting a tune-up can be a bit of a hassle – here it costs between $50-$90 (computerized machines are on the higher end of the price spectrum), and they hold your machine hostage for 1-2 weeks, depending on how quickly they can get to it. However, it is very important to have this done at regular intervals, as the machine needs benefits from having the timing and tension adjusted back to the factory settings, as well as getting a nice deep clean in all those little nooks & crannies that you can’t get to without actually opening the thing up and taking it apart. What constitutes as a “regular interval” is really a matter of how much you use your machine – I take mine in every year, but I also sew a LOT. You may be able to get away with getting a service every 2 or even 3 years, depending on how much you use the machine.

Taking care of lint build-up
Here’s my confession: I’m a big freak about cleaning my machine. I pull the whole bobbin apart and go to town with the lint brush before every sewing project, usually while the bobbin is winding. I also do this on my serger – I mean, have you seen how linty those things get? Nothing delights me more than getting a good sized ball of lint to marvel at (I also like cleaning the lint screen on my dryer. I’m sorry, is this TMI?). So keeping the lint build-up to a minimum has never been a problem with me. I’m not saying that you need to start digging for gold every single time you have a project – but please, make it a habit to at least keep a regular cleaning schedule. You’ll be amazed at how much better you machine functions when there’s not a big build-up of lint and broken thread lurking under the throatplate.

Oiling your machine
OMG. Until I bought my new Bernina, I never realized you were supposed to oil those things! For some reason, I was under the impression that computerized machines were exempt from regular oiling. My mechanic assures me that neglecting the oil does not necessarily hurt the machine, but it can do some wonky shit to those bobbin stitches since there is too much friction going on down there. If you’re not oiling your machine, take a quick peek at the owner’s manual (or call your local sewing repair place and ask them) and see if it’s necessary to keep things running smoothly. I now oil my machine once a month – and it doesn’t take much! A little dab will do ya.

If the idea of poking around in your machine just sounds too overwhelming and terrifying – well, there’s an app for that! :)
diy
DIY Household Sewing Machine is an app for iPhone and iPad (sorry Droid users :( Maybe soon?) that guides you through three basic steps of maintaining your sewing machine – removing the bobbin case to clean and oil the bobbin area (there are instructions for both top and front-loading bobbins – yeah!), changing the needle, and cleaning the tension units (which is not something I was aware of until, uhm, last night. Eep! Don’t worry, I’ll get a-cleaning as soon as I get home :)). While you shouldn’t necessarily consider this a total replacement for a regular session with an actual sewing machine mechanic, it is a great assistant in keeping things clean and running smoothly in between tune-ups.

screenshot2

screenshot3
What’s interesting about this app is that there are three ways the information is shared – a short animation (which totally reminds me of Money For Nothing and I TOTALLY LOVE IT OMG), a text document, and live-action video. The animation is great if you just need a little refresher on how to do something (you know, for those brainfart moments. I’m not the only one who gets them all the time…?), and I love that everything is spelled out for those of us who are just too impatient to sit through a 2 minute video.

screenshot5
Speaking of the vidoes… they are actually really great. I just mentioned that I’m too impatient to watch videos (it’s true! They are always just too damn slow-moving for my fast paced brain, I guess), but the longest one is only 2.5 minutes long, so it’s not too bad. Everything presented is very easy to see and understand, and there are some good tips about what tools are best for cleaning what parts of the machine. Bonus that dude has a delightful accent. God, I love accents.

The app is not free, but it only costs 99¢ – which is pretty much pocket change as far as I’m concerned. It’s nice to have a go-to reference of the text and videos when you need a little hand-holding but don’t want to put your machine’s life in the hands of Google… and bonus, those little animations are fun to watch :) I’m so easily amused, ha!

What about you? Do you have any confessions about maintaining your machine that you’d like to get off your chest? C’mon, fess up – we’re all friends here ;)

As a side note, I know I’m a few days late to the party but LADIES HAVE YOU SEEN MADALYNNE’S NEW UNDIE PATTERN? From the technical sketch to the gorgeous finished piece – I’m in love!! Must make me some undies, stat!

~*~Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for which I received financial compensation. All opinions on this product are my own, however!

Revisiting the Fabiani Coat – and I Hit The Holy Grail

30 Jan

Guys. Remember when I made this coat last year?
Coat front
This is Vogue 2925, which is one of them special designer patterns from the 70s. The pattern is really wonderful – the instructions include light tailoring, with the pad stitching and the fancy interfacing and back stay and all that good stuff. I spent about a month working on the coat, from the muslin to the finishing touches – truly a labor of love. Sadly, I haven’t worn it much this year because I’ve lost weight and it doesn’t fit me as well as it did. But, ugh, whatever about that, that’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that I got an email a couple of weeks ago from someone who actually made the coat when the pattern was originally released in the 70s. AND she lives in Nashville. AND she wanted to meet up.

!!!

WOULD I???

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!

How many times have we looked at vintage patterns and thought, “I’d love to know who made that, for what purpose, and what fabric they used.” How excited do we get when we find little scraps of fabric or newspaper clippings in the pattern envelopes, offering a little hint to the pattern’s previous life? I don’t know about y’all, but my favorite part about vintage stuff is learning the history behind the people who previously owned them. So to say that I was excited to get to hash this stuff out in real time is a bit of an understatement.

Karen, the original owner/maker of the pattern, agreed to let me take some pictures of the coat and share some information about making it. We met up at Bread & Company on Sunday afternoon and ended up chatting for over 2 hours – about all kinds of stuff, not just sewing! Although sewing stuff came up too :) We brought our coats and showed them off, compared sewing notes and talked about our fabric and finishing choices. You know, basically sewer’s heaven :) The pictures of Karen above were taken in 1973 – she made the entire outfit (pants and top included) for a sewing contest. Although she didn’t win (which surprised me – but hold up, bc I got pictures of the winners too ahaha), she did win the regionals and got a Singer Genie sewing machine out of it.

Fabiani coat - the original!
The coat really is a thing of beauty – I think it’s waaaay better than mine, for sure! Karen said she spent an entire summer working on it for her tailoring class, and the workmanship is just amazing. So much detail and care went into everything – all the way down to how the buttons are sewn on.

Fabiani coat - the original!
Look at that beautiful top stitching!

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!
I love how she added piping between the lining and the coating – as well as the fabric covered snaps.

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!

Karen also brought the pattern envelopes, as well as swatches for all the garments she made. Sadly, the coat is the only piece that still exists, but between the pattern envelopes, swatches, and those 8×10 photos, you can get a pretty good idea of how the entire outfit turned out.

Fabiani coat - the original!
Here’s the coat – with swatches for coating (which cost $25/yard in 1973! Ouch!), lining, interlining, and the horsehair interfacing.

Fabiani coat - the original!
The turtleneck, and the knit fabric.

Fabiani coat - the original!
And the pantssss!! MAN, I wish these pants still existed!!!

After seeing all this stuff (and rubbing my hands all over the coat, bc SHIT), I was really curious to see who won the contest! It would have to be something amazing to win out over a hand-tailored, wool designer coat, you know?

The winners were separated by age groups – Karen was 17 at the time, so here are the people who beat her out:
Fabiani coat - the original!
WHY OH WHY did they not include the pattern numbers?! I need that Heidi-esque Vogue coat!!

Fabiani coat - the original!
Look at the age bracket for these winners – 13-15??? How…?

CFabiani coat - the original!IMG0021
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, THERE WAS A 10-12 BRACKET.
How many 10 year olds do you know who can make a suit set? Or a hooded coat?? Mind blown over here.

And here’s the best part-
Fabiani coat - the original!
Karen let me try on the coat!! Ahhhahahaha, so awesome! It actually fits better than mine does, yeah?

Fabiani coat - the original!
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of us both wearing our coats :)

So yeah, that was a pretty cool way to spend a Sunday! I just love how sewing and blogging can bring people together like that. I had a wonderful time meeting with Karen and talking shop – and trying on that coat! Oh oh, she even gave me a copy of Seventeen magazine from 1976… I’ve been flipping through it over the past few days, and the advertisements alone are just amazing. I may have some post some pictures of that, too, there are even ones for sewing patterns :) Big thanks to Karen – for emailing me, for meeting up with me, and for letting me post these pictures on my blog so we could all enjoy them!

In other news, I just wanted to give y’all a heads up about a Kickstarter that my best friend, Morgan, is raising money for right now. You may or may not remember my talking about when she joined the Peace Corps and moved to Macedonia – which was hard on all of us (but duh, especially me because I need my bestie ;) ). She accomplished a lot in the year that she was there – in addition to teaching English, she opened a dance studio and taught dance camp. She is back in the US now, but she wants to return to the ‘donia and teach another dance camp this summer, hence the purpose of raising the funds. You can read more about the cause here, and contribute to the Kickstarter here – backing starts at $1. ONE DOLLAR, PEOPLE.

And in case you were wondering how the hell this relates to this here sewing blog (other than the fact that Morgan is my Life Partner and such as), I have been promised Macedonian fabrics. Here is the piece she bought me last year (it’s still waiting to be sewn; haven’t found the perfect pattern yet!), the softest, most beautiful cotton dream fabric. And obviously I need more. So let’s pull those dollars out and help me get more of that fabric. I mean, shucks. I might even get her to buy two pieces an host an awesome giveaway!

Oh, and Morgan also promised a video teaching us how to curse in Macedonian. So there’s that, too ;)

Oh, Vogue.

24 Jan

Nothing like some Vogue-hate to cheer me up when I’m having a shitty week, amirite. Thanks, Vogue!

V1341
Vogue 1341
I don’t get this. It looks someone tried draping for the first time and failed as hard as they could possibly fail.

V1342
Vogue 1342
True story: I check my Google search terms every day (because they are hilarious and awesome) and my very favorite one was when someone found my blog by searching “buttcrack sundress.” I always wondered what a buttcrack sundress was. Now I will wonder no more.

V1340
V1340 (1)
Vogue 1340
From the puffy darts to the shitty fit to the sad attempt at whatever is going on there with the neckline, this dress makes my heart hurt.

V1337
Vogue 1337
No comment on the dress, I just think the pose is really really funny.
COME AT ME, BRO.

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Vogue 1338
Y U mad, tho?

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Vogue 1347
Vogue, stop trying to make the danglies happen.

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Vogue 8873
The pattern describes this as a “fitted bodice.” I don’t know about you, but nothing about that bodice looked fitted to me.

V8870
Vogue 8870
Well, that pattern placement is just tragic.

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Vogue 1345
NOPE.

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Vogue 8887
I actually don’t mind this get-up too much (except for that pants length… yikes). I just wanted to make fun of her shoes.

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Vogue 8879
The fuck is going on here.

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Vogue 8883
Vogue, what did we just talk about regarding those danglies.

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Vogue 8891
The prettiest beekeeper you ever did see.

I’m noticing a new trend here, in that NOTHING FUCKING FITS ANY OF THESE MODELS. What the hell! I know that most fashion magazines pin back the clothing to make it tight on the models, but ffs Vogue you had these things sewn for you. Could you not size down?? Compare the actual pants to the line drawing here. Those are not supposed to be Hammer pants, contrary to what the photo would have you believe. I’m just… I have no words. No words at all.

Vogue, go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.

I’M GOING TO NEW YORK

19 Jan

Pardon the all-caps explosion here, but I’m freaking EXCITED AS FUCK right now!

I’m going to New York City in March!! YAAAAY!!

I am SO EXCITED to finally get to meet up with my favorite sewing-land babes, Sonja and Oona, as well as *finally* lurk the shit out of Mood… as well as the entire garment district, just, in general. Omg. Omg I can’t wait !!!

I know there are at least a good solid handful of y’all who also reside in and/or travel to New York on a regular basis so here’s my relevant question… anyone interested in a lil meet-up? I’m thinking Saturday March 9th (or we could do Friday the 8th! I just figured more people would be able to do a Saturday ;) ), meeting up for drinks or food and then checking out some fabric stores! So yeah, let me know if you’re interested – either in the comments, or shoot me an email! I had so much fun at the Chicago meet-up, I want to recreate that day with some New Yorkers! Pleaseeee!! ;)


Here is a hideously bad picture of me the last time I was in New York, in 2008. As you can see, I was very excited about Grand Central Station.

And while I have your attention, I’d like to introduce y’all to my very first sponsor:
sweetlittlechickadee_shopad
Hellooooo, Sweet Little Chickadee! Juli’s shop is full of patterns – both sewing and embroidery – as well as some of the cutest handmade jewelry I’ve ever seen. She just added some new patterns from The Maker’s Journal – a new-to-me company who is based out of Australia and has a LOT of cute undie patterns, omg.

And check this out – she had graciously agreed to give my US readers some free shipping love! Use the code “LLADYBIRDROCKS!” to get free US shipping – US orders under $35 get free first-class mail shipping, and US orders over $35 get free priority mail shipping. Combine that with the amazing pattern sale running right now, and yeah…. you really can’t beat that with a stick. The code is good now until 1/31/13, so hurry and get yo’ shop on :)

If you are interested in some sweet sponsor ad love (sewing and vintage related only, pls) of your very own, holler at me via email and we’ll see if we can work something out ;)


Since we love Andrew WK here, I feel like this song is quite appropriate.

Merry Christmas To Meeeeee :)

28 Dec

Just dropping in to show off the Christmas present I bought myself yesterday!

Merry Christmas to me!!
Wait for it…

New sewing machine
Wait for it…

New sewing machine :)
Yay! My first Bernina – a 350 PE :)
I guess you could say I was real good this year haha :)

We’ve been bonding since yesterday afternoon, and I must say – she’s a sexy beast of a machine. The mechanics are incredibly smooth and quiet, and the stitches are freakin perfect. Just a gorgeous piece of machinery, and super fun to sew with. It came stocked with a knee lever for the presser foot and a free walking foot (which is golden, since my #1 sewing machine deal breaker is that I need a walking foot, no lie). There are two thread cutters – one by the bobbin winder. GENIUS. Why didn’t I think of that?! The bobbin winder is cool as hell, btw – it’s automatic, as in you don’t have to press the pedal to get it to wind. Again – GENIUS.

Since I’m awesome and live in Nashville, my local Bernina dealer is only about a 20 minute drive away. YUSSS! I’ve actually been plotting/saving for this purchase since October or so, but I wanted to make sure I could pay for the whole thing without financing (or any other debt, for that matter – had to pay off the credit card first!). And lucky me, they were offering $100 off during Christmas. So I was able to splurge a little and buy some bobbins and an invisible zipper foot as well :)

I know you can buy machines online these days, and in some ways they may be cheaper (especially if you don’t have to pay taxes – our rate here is 9.25% and, ouch), but I really recommend buying your machine from an actual local dealer if you have the option. There are so many perks, aside from the whole fact that you don’t have to worry about the machine getting thrown around during shipment (and waiting for it to ship in the first place! Argh!). This store offers free getting-to-know-your-new-machine classes, which I will be taking advantage of – I barely know a quarter of the features on my Pfaff, and I sewed with her for 5 years! I also get free maintenance, cleaning and repairs for 2 years on the Bernina… and a free clean-up/repair on the Pfaff, so I can sell it :) Not to mention the small discount I get on Bernina feet and accessories since I bought a machine from them.

And look – I even got a Bernina seam ripper lol:
lol Bernina seam ripper
I’ve never bought a *new* machine, so I didn’t know they came with branded seam rippers. Ahh, I am tickled.

I just realized this sounds way too much like a sponsered post – it’s not :) I paid for this machine with my own money and the discount I got was offered to anyone who buys a Bernina from that store :) I’m just super excited about my new baby and I wanted to share the love!

As a side note… assuming my Pfaff comes back in good working condition (the repair guy said it probably just needs a new pedal, no motherboard problems like I originally feared), anyone looking to buy a 7570? Holler at me! Haha! :)

2012 – A Year In Review

21 Dec

I knowww I said I wouldn’t be back until 2013, but I just realized I haven’t made a proper yearly review! This is important!

First up, let’s talk about how many pieces of clothing I made. I thought I was slacking, but I started clicking through the months and saving pictures and holy shit:
2012 - A Review!
2012 - A Review!
2012 - A Review!
2012 - A Review!
2012 - A Review!
2012 - A Review!
2012 - A Review!
2012 - A Review!
2012 - A Review!
2012 - A Review!
(psst- click on the picture to see the patterns I used for each piece! Sorry these aren’t in better order; it was hard enough just getting them all in the collages)

Assuming I got them all, that’s 52 things I made this year (I know, you see 50 pictures – but two pictures have two garments in them, so booyah!). Oh, and that doesn’t count the handful of Renfrews I made that never appeared on the blog. That’s basically a garment a week? How the hell did that happen haha.

I know a lot of people think I’m some kind of madwoman sewing machine who never eats or sleeps, but I assure you – I have a full-time day job, and I spend just as much time sewing as I do having fun life experiences with friends. I just really, really enjoy sewing! ;)

Just glancing over those pictures, here’s a list of my top favorite/most worn things I made this year:
- Gingham Peony – This is forreal the perfect little biking dress.
- Cheetah Mock Wrap Dress – This dress is surprisingly versatile – it works just as well in summer as it does winter. And it’s leopard, which is always a plus in my book.
- Disaster Dress – I love this dress! The lining and lace were gifts from two different blog franz, and I think of both those lovely ladies every time I put it on (is that creepy?). Not to mention, I just feel so pretty and elegant when I wear this dress.
- Thurlows! Specifically – the old man Thurlows (which may or may not have had a brush with death over the weekend… Landon put them in the wash :X They fit, but they’re a little short HELP) and the gingham Thurlows, which I seriously wore several times a week in the summer. I wish I could give my Thurlow jeans the same nod of appreciation, but unfortunately the fabric isn’t quite cutting it for me – over the course of the day, they stretch out and get super baggy. I love the way they look when they are fresh out of the dryer, though. I may need to revisit denim next year and see how I can make these better.
- Last, but not least – the mustard Agatha. I am going to wear this sweater until it falls apart in glories wooly ribbons. Watch me.

Some really awesome things happened in 2012, and not just clothing! Let’s see a recap:
- I bought a Featherweight sewing machine. Longtime sewing dream: accomplished!
- I learned how to knit in 2011, so by 2012 I was ready to tackle my first sweater! It took 3 months and it was super difficult at times, but I powered through and now I have a new favorite wool sweater that goes with practically everything I own :) Here is an agonizingly long list of posts that cover the process
- After the first sweater, I got pretty fearless and went on to knit 4 more sweaters. That’s 5 sweaters in one year haha! YAY SWEATERS.
- I participated in my first Me-Made-May and not only did I manage to wear handmade for 31 days straight… I didn’t repeat an outfit, either.
- I had one major sewing fail, and it came in the form of an Amy Butler handbag.
- Vogue released a new line of patterns that had the most ridiculous styling and posing ever and we all lol’d for days.
- I painted this chicken and it is cool as fuck.
- I moved to the other side of town (yay! BYE EAST NASHVILLE) and got a fancy pantsy new sewing room, and eventually a real sexi couch.
- Landon & I went to Chicago, where I had my first ever blogger meet-up and met some of the COOLEST ladies:
Final stop! Love these ladies!!
♥ !!!
- I made a bear costume and wore it for the internets.
- I finally paid off my credit card! BIG HUGE DEAL!
- I found my ~*~TNT~*~ pattern, the Sewaholic Thurlows. I think I beat that dead horse well into the ground – I made 5 pairs of the same pattern, plus hosted a sewalong! AND I HAVE MORE THURLOWS PLANNED HEH HEH HEH.

As far as the goals I had for 2012:
- I wanted to make another coat – done!
- Perfecting pants fitting – I hesitate to call anything perfect, but these are mighty close
- Make men’s clothing – done and done!
- Knitting: Learn colorwork and knit a sweater – Well, the sweater is done… and then some! I haven’t dipped my toes into colorwork quite yet, but that’s coming :)

And a few goals for 2013:
- More men’s sewing – I want to make a proper men’s shirt for Landon, with the collar stand and button placket and everything!
- Sewing with “difficult” fabrics – slippery little shits like chiffon and silk, I’m lookin’ at you.
- Knitting socks – why haven’t gotten around to making these yet? Also, COLORWORK: your time has come.

I know a lot of my friends have been complaining that 2012 was a rough year, but it was good to me. 2013, can’t wait to see what you have in store!
In front of the Bean :)

SEXI COUCH TIME

19 Dec

I know! The title of this post is super misleading! We are not having sexi time so much as this is the time for the Sexi Couch to shine. Got it?

This blog is going to be a bit quiet over the next couple of weeks – I’m working on a dress right now, but let’s be real, I’ve got parties to make a drunk ass of myself at and therefore that shit won’t be finished before the weekend. My family is going to Gatlinburg on Friday – we’re staying in a cabin! Yeah! – and then I’m taking the entire week off after Christmas (and hopefully getting a LOT of sewing done! Yay!). So I’ll be taking a break from the blogworld for a bit :)
Speaking of Gatlinburg – anyone have suggestions for fun stuff to check out (or eat!) while we’re there? I know all about Ripley’s Believe It Or Not (and you best believe that I will be all up in that shit!), but I haven’t actually been in at least a decade so I’m not sure what kind of stuff there is to do anymore. Sadly, Dollywood parks are closed for the season, or else that would be my #1 choice, obviously.

Anyway, check out this babely babe-
SEXI COUCH
Green-gold 60s velvet, yeah! Looks quite different from the last time I showed you guys my living room, huh?

SEXI COUCH
I bought this beauty from Lauren Winter over the weekend. They were upgrading to a bigger couch in a more neutral color, and I about shat myself with delight when I realized that meant I could have the old couch. Aha! It *is* old – probably from the 60s, but they bought it from the original owners and it’s in very good shape. And it’s long enough for us to stretch out on :) Plus: VELVET.

Living room
(Ignore that lamp; I have a really sweet gold 60s floor lamp that I’m going to replace it with, but it’s currently getting some new wiring :))

Living room
We finally mounted that beast of a tv, so I guess I can show y’all the other side of my living room!

New painting
I just picked up this painting at the flea market over the weekend… the market as a whole was pretty dead (December-April tends to be a little sad; only like a third of the vendors were there!), but hey, at least the painting matches my living room, eh? :)

Living room
This is a pretty shitty picture, but I just wanted to show the weird shape of the living room… and why we had to hang the tv. There really wasn’t anywhere to put it! I guess that’s what happens when you live in a house that was built before most families had a television :)

Christmas tree
My silver tree is one of the original tinsel ones (the kind you’re not supposed to put lights on) – it was my Great-Grandmother’s :) I really love it and I’m so glad she took such good care of it.

I’d give you guys a list of where everything in this room came from, but honestly like 99% of it is from the flea market, the thrift store, a yard sale, or given to me by a friend/family member. What can I say – I’m a gatherer when it comes to decor ;)

As a side note, a lot of y’all were commenting on my sewing room corner and wondering if it usually stays that clean…
Sewing room
And here’s a shot I took this morning. So in general – yeah! I can’t work in a messy space. I’m not terribly organized, though, especially when I’m in the middle of a project :)

I guess that’s it! I’ll still be lurking Instagram and Twitter and checking emails if you need me! Have a happy winter holiday, whatever you celebrate :) I’ll see y’all next year – I’ve got a couple pieces of exciting news that I’m just bursting to share :)

Review: eShakti.com

19 Nov

Fair Warning: I did not sew this dress at all. This is a product review for eShakti. They mailed me a dress of my choosing, and now I get to talk about it on the internet woohoo!

When I was first contacted for a review, my initial thought was, “lolwut.” I mean, this is a sewing blog. I make clothes and then we talk about how awesome (or not awesome, I can swing both ways) the finished piece is. Trying out something for someone else’s clothing line just seemed weird and completely against the entire point of this damn blog. I’m not ~punk rock~ anymore, but I still get real weirded out at the idea of selling out, if that means anything.

Then I realized that there are lots of people who read this blog who don’t sew – or don’t sew clothes. There are a lot of us out there who struggle with getting a good fit (and yep, I’m part of this crew! Always learning new stuff!), and it sure would be nice to have a grey area between “Making Everything I Wear” and “Buying Bullshit At The Mall That Doesn’t Fit Over My Ass.” You know?

So, my non-sewing readers. This is for you. And also for me, because, hey, free purple dress :D

If you’re not familiar with eShakti, it is a website that sells cute lady clothes. Mostly dresses, but there are also tops and coats and even skirts floating around if you look hard enough. Everything is adorable, and there is a wide range of styles to cover most events, from cocktail parties to a semi-professional office. What makes them unique, though, is that they not only offer a serious slew of sizes – 0-36! – but you can customize the fit to accommodate your ass. Or boobs, or petite stature, or whatever. In addition (I know, I’m just blowing your mind over here), you can change certain design elements as it strikes your fancy. Changing up sleeves, hem length, and sometimes even the neckline. So basically, it’s like the seamstresses’ dream wardrobe without actually pulling out the sewing machine and doing it yourself. FANCY.

Oh, I forgot to mention the price range. Most of the stuff they offer is under $80, and any customization is $7.50. Not too shabby, eh?

For my dress, I went with the Ruffled Tiers, except mine is purple, obviously, and not black. I didn’t see the purple one on the site anywhere, so sorry if you’re salivating in jealousy over mine (on the other hand, I did just discover this green goddess one, this silk (!!!) one, and this one that is totally channeling Liz Taylor, and now I’m really jealous haha). It was really hard to NOT just get a fancy cocktail dress, but seriously? I own like a dozen of those things and I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually wore one. So I went with something office-appropriate, in a pattern/fabric that I wouldn’t sew myself (too slinky!), that would also be suitable for biking. I did end up customizing the sizing (since this is normally an issue for me with RTW), but I kept the general style of the dress the same as it looks on the site.

And how did that turn out, you might ask?

eShakti dress
ME GUSTA.

Seriously, though, isn’t it just adorable? I’m a big fan of the color, especially… and all the cascading ruffles. The off-center neck bow is my favorite part.

From a construction perspective, I have no complaints. Obviously, we’re not talking about the finest couture here – this dress is polyester, after all – but I will say that I was pleasantly surprised. I actually studied the insides like I was studying for a test, except that I was giving it the Evil Eye the entire time and waiting for it to slip up somewhere.

eShakti dress
I would like everyone to know that this dress is absolutely perfect for cycling in – a good length to prevent flashing, and the shirring in the back keeps it snug without cutting off circulation.

eShakti dress
My only beef is that the armholes are a bit low on me – see my bra peeking out? Yikes! I think this problem is pretty unique to me and my body, though – I definitely have low shoulders in comparison to my bust size (hence why it is so important to do a FBA on sewing patterns and not just size up), and most stuff has to be taken up quite a bit there. Out of all the measurements I gave, shoulder height was not one. So I’m going to chalk this up to LT-body problems and not point fingers back to eShakti.

That one doesn’t bother me too bad, though, because…
eShakti dress
THIS DRESS LOOKS SO FUCKING AWESOME WITH MY MUSTARD AGATHA CARDIGAN.
Doesn’t it?! I knew it as soon as I spied it on the site. Actually – it looks good with ALL my handknits, including the Chuck sweater. The top is fairly sleek and smooth, so there isn’t much bulk when you wear stuff over it. Add in a ruffly tiered skirt and a little bow at the neck and now we’re just talking straight-up adorable.


Right now, they are offering $25 off your first purchase! Someone should go buy this dress, because holy shit I want.

In conclusion: Big thanks and thumbs up for eShakti!
In other news, I have a new garment on the sewing table that just needs picture… hope to get a post up this week :)

~*~Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post, although I did receive a sample to review & keep. All opinions on this product are my own.

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