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Completed: Reupholstered Chairs

8 Aug

Soooo this is a little different from what I usually offer up here for my Mood Sewing Network posts – we are gonna talk about home decor fabric today! ::evil laugh:: No wait, come back, I promise it’s not all bad!

Forreal, though, I’ve known about Mood Fabric’s home fabric offerings since, well, the beginning of my Mood-time. And while I’ve never been one to futz much with home decor sewing (I mean, c’mon, wouldn’t we rather all sew clothes for ourselves?), I did have some chairs that needed to be recovered. Like, two years ago. When I bought them.

So, in celebration of Mood Fabric’s new home decor storefront opening (which I’m really excited to visit when I’m in NYC next week! Eep! Next week!), I bring you my chairs that are badly in need of a facelift.

Reupholstered Chairs - before

Lookit that bad boy!

Reupholstered Chairs - before

No, that’s not even the worst – look at THIS! Can you believe I sat on that rank-ass looking thing for over 2 years? Yeah. I blame it on not being able to commit to the perfect fabric. Either that, or laziness. Probably both.

So, finding a good home decor fabric is hard, y’all. The ~free spirited artist~ in me wants something with bright colors and textures and maybe peacocks… but the tiny adult in me knows I should pick something more subdued that will continue to work with my ever-changing decor. I think I found a nice middle ground, though, with this chartreuse geometric cut velvet fabric. Even though it’s chartreuse, it’s pretty mild by home-decor standards (the color doesn’t necessarily “match” my curtains, but it goes well enough), and the geometric design gives it a bit of fun texture and visual interest without assaulting your senses. I like it!

Soo, that brings us to the next step – the upholstering.

Well, first off, let me just say this – it’s really easy, at least with a simple chair like this. Those of you who are diehard professional re-upholsterers, please avert your eyes. I’m sure I’m doing everything wrong here, oh well!

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
PART ONE: THE DESTRUCTION
First, we have to remove the chair pad from the chair frame. It should unscrew from the bottom. Take everything apart and stash the screws somewhere safe so you don’t lose them (I should note that I didn’t lose a screw from this chair – it only had 3 to begin with! Someone else’s problem!) (and DUH I only put 3 screws back in the chair. Like I have time to find a 4th screw lololol)

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
Flip the pad over so you can see the staples, and start yanking them out. If you have a staple remover, that would be helpful. If not, you can use a flat head screw driver. Ideally, you want to remove all the staples – not just the ones holding the fabric down. Or you can just be sloppy and rip off the fabric, but seriously, dude, removing staples is kind of fun.

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

Once you’ve completely dissembled your chair seat, you should have something like this. Wooden chair seat pad thing, fabric cover, and padding.

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
PART 2: LAYING THE FOUNDATION
Using your fabric cover as a guide, cut out squares of the new upholstery fabric to size. If you don’t have the old fabric to use, then measure for a 4″ overlap on all sides (so my 16″ pads needed 20″ square covers). Padding can be cut to the same size as the chair seat. I initially cut off the selvedge of my fabric because I thought it looked nicest that way, but when I started ripping the rest of the seats I realized that the original upholsterer left the selvedges on. So my remaining 3 chairs have fabric selvedge, which helps with fraying.

While I did decide to add some new padding to my chairs, I did not completely replace the padding that was there. Upon inspection, it seemed to be in pretty good shape (apart from the whole falling-out-of-the-chair aspect, anyway), so I just added a layer to the top for some extra squish and called it a day. If you are completely replacing your padding, you may want to cut multiple layers.

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
PART 3: THE REBIRTH
Now we get to staple! Stack your padding and fabric with the wooden seat base centered at the bottom. Starting in the middle of one side, staple the fabric to the seat. Now move to the side opposite where you just stapled, pull the fabric taunt, and staple in the center. Continue working around the base of the chair, opposite sides at a time, until all 4 sides are stapled down securely. I found it was easier to do one set of sides at a time (as opposed to working all the way around at once).

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
To miter the corners, fold as shown and staple as you go.

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

Your finished seat should look like this. Woohoo!

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
Now screw it back on the chair frame and sit in that chair like the boss you are!

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

THAT IS DAMN SEXY

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

AMIRITE OR AMIRITE?

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

For serious, though, I’m a little embarrassed at how stupidly easy this whole ordeal was. From disassembling, to cutting, to stapling, to screwing, heck – even sweeping the floor – this all took about an hour. That’s it! For four chairs!

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

I want to say I should have done it sooner, but damn – I don’t think I would have picked as good a fabric. Sometimes it does pay to wait! Also, this was a fairly inexpensive project – I only needed a yard and a half of fabric (again, my chair seats are 16″ square and I had 4 of ‘em). My fabric was $45 a yard, which is stupid pricey, but the batting was only $8 a yard. All together, the cost of the fabric was less than $80 – I already had the staple gun, but it’s a cheap one that cost less than $10. You could obviously make this a much cheaper project with less luxe fabric or not buying batting, but considering I paid $100 for the table & chairs (plus a matching buffet in the living room – told ya our flea market was wonderful. Oh! My old lady dining room curtains are from there, too!), I don’t think that’s a very bad deal at all! Again, for full disclosure – I received credit for this fabric in exchange for my monthly contribution to the Mood Sewing Network. I got to pick the fabric and project on my own, though :)

What about y’all? Anyone have experience with upholstery or other home decor sewing – or is that something you’d prefer to leave to someone else to do? I made someone lined curtains once (for the 12ft ceilings in his swanky loft), and UGHHH NEVER AGAIN.

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Completed: Simplicity 1425

22 Jul

Today’s outfit inspiration comes from a completely new realm for me – watercolor painting!

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Remember that watercolor class that I signed up for earlier this summer? Well, here’s a shot of one of the paintings I did in my final class (no, it wasn’t a fashion illustration class, but the teacher was open to letting us paint whatever wanted – and she was tickled that I went with fashion illustration, ha!). I had some swatches from Mood Fabrics that I knew I wanted to turn into an outfit for my next MSN post, but the outfit inspiration didn’t come until my pen er, watercolor hit the paper :)

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Let’s start at the top and work our way down! I used Simplicity 1425 for the pattern, and cut the most simple version (sleeveless, no yoke, no collar). I cut the size 4 and took a little in at the waist, as well as made my normal gaping-upper-back alteration that seems to be a running theme for me when it comes to sewing Simplicity patterns.

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

My fabric is this beautiful white cotton eyelet from Mood fabrics, which I underlined with this bright white cotton batiste (also from Mood Fabrics), for modesty and some opacity. It’s still a little on the sheer side – as in, I have to watch what color undergarments I’m wearing! – but the two fabrics together make such a fun light and airy top.

Also, I just noticed that there is a fly on my boob in this picture (at least, I’m pretty sure it’s that fly that was buzzing around). Gross.

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Sewing was very simple and straightfoward – not to mention fast! Seriously did all this (minus the initial muslin) in the space of a Saturday afternoon. Not too bad! I underlined all the pieces by hand with silk thread (it’s not totally necessary to use silk thread, but it does make it easier to pull out the basting when you attach the seams – which, if you’re as anal-retentive as I am about sewing, you will totally appreciate that, ha!) and I used a 70/10 Microtex needle to prevent puckering, since the fabric is so lightweight. Most of the inside seams are serged, although I did finish the armholes and neckline with bias facing (cut from the same batiste). I can’t really speak for the instructions on this pattern as I didn’t use them at all, but the overall finished top is pretty nice!

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

For an extra lil’ punch, I stuck an exposed separating zip right up the center back. Kind of toughens up the overall sweetness of the eyelet, yeah? :) This pattern was actually written for there to be buttons down the back – which is a cute idea in theory, but they only called for 3. THREE. How that doesn’t look like a fucking hot mess when you’re wearing the top and moving around is beyond me. I imagine that would gape a lot! So I swapped out my buttons for a fun zipper and I’m loving the way it turned out.

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Getting the zipper in was kind of an adventure in itself. I tried googling around for directions on inserting an exposed zipper (I mean, I had a vague idea of how to do it, but I always like to check and see if my technique is right first), but everything I was pulling up was for close-ended zippers. Since my zip is separating (you know, so I can get the top off and on without destroying something in pure rage during the process), those particular tutorials were kind of a moot point. In the end, I kind of winged it, but I think it worked out!

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

As far as the style of the top – well, I like it. I know it’s super trendy- especially with the dang exposed zipper! – but I’m ok with being trendy. I think peplum tops are super cute and the white eyelet will go with lots in my summer wardrobe. Plus, I can tuck that peplum into high-waisted skirts, so it’s like two tops in one! Woohoo!

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Now for the shorts! I used my beloved Sewaholic Thurlow pattern, matched up with my other beloved plum organic cotton twill from Mood Fabrics. My love affair with that organic cotton twill should be well known at this point, I hope. That stuff is amazing. Soft and cottony with a bright, saturated color… a dream to sew, and a dream to wear. I’ve made so much with this particular fabric in different colorways – including moreeee Thurlows! – and I’m sorry y’all have to see it again. Just kidding, I’m not sorry! These shorts rule! Get you some of that organic cotton twill, you won’t regret it!

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

I don’t really know how much more I can talk about these shorts until y’all tell me to shut up. I’ve seriously made them so many times, it’s kind of like autopilot at this point. I found that I did have to take quite a bit of excess out of the legs this go-round… I think I might be getting too un-curvy to wear this particular pattern :( I’m already at the smallest size, so it’s not like I can size down. I’m hoping my adjustments will work for future Thurlow shorts, but I’m kind of afraid to try the pants at this point since there is soo much that needs to be changed now, ugh. I reckon I could find another pants patterns to sub out, but wah! I want to keep making Thurlows forever!

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, fitting issues aside, these shorts were a delight to put together. I played around with the topstitching on this pair and I really love how the it looks so gorgeous and crisp against this fabric. I tried topstitching around the welts this time – something I’ve seen in RTW and always wanted to try – and I think it looks pretty nice!

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Oh, and check out that fun lining! Yeah girl! That comes courtesy of this crazy/awesome psychedelic cotton voile print, which is unfortuanately sold out now (but take a look at the other cotton voiles from Mood Fabrics. Sweet!). I love putting crazy prints in my pants because, dude, why not? Business in the front, party on the inside. Or something like that!

Since we’re on a roll with all these detail shots, here are some of the top:

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics
Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

I took waaay too many pictures, but there was so much detail to capture! Sorry bout that!

So I guess the next question is – does she have that outfit from the fashion illustration?

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Fuck yeah I do! Ok, maybe not so much the shoes, but I’ve got the purse! Ha! This shit’s from Kate Spade – I bought it after I was having a really rough week (retail therapy totally works, y’all.). It was on sale, but it is still also the most expensive purse I’ve ever bought – and it’s totally worth it! I knew I couldn’t find that lemon fabric anywhere, so I justified it with the purse hahah :)

Eyelet Peplum Top & Thurlow Shorts made with Mood Fabrics

Just for fun, here I am trying to strike a pose like my fashion illustration. Hmm… probably should stick to painting, not posing! :)

Completed: Vogue 1395

18 Jun

Confession: I don’t like cherries. Not for eating, anyway.

Vogue 1395

What I DO love are cherry prints, though (or any fruit, for that matter!). It probably makes me look like a total asshole wearing a fruit I won’t even eat (I’m currently having flashbacks to my high school days, back when I used to make fun of kids for wearing band tshirts of bands they’d never actually listened to. No, really, who does that?? High school kids, that’s who), but you know what? No fucks given. Go ahead and judge me.

Vogue 1395

Whatever, anyway, my point is – I like wearing cute prints. Cute prints can be hard to find though – and when you do find them, at lot of them tend to be printed on, like, quilting cotton. Or worse – silk chiffon (seriously, who the fuck is buying up all those crazy silk chiffon prints? I am so intrigued!). I feel like 3/4 of my sewing time is spent just trying to source cute prints that are printed on the type of fabric I actually like to sew and wear.

Vogue 1395

Sooo, with that being said – I was pretty excited to find this Anna Sui cherry print at Mood Fabrics. Not only is it basically the cutest fabric in the history of ever – it’s silk crepe! So glorious! Unfortunately for y’all, they are also completely sold out of it. Whomp whomp.

Vogue 1395

Immediately after securing a length of this stuff for my very own, I zeroed in on Vogue 1395 as my dream match pattern. Pretty cute, right? Vogue has really been stepping up their game with the last pattern release – as in, they had more than one wearable pattern this time (yay, Vogue!). Vogue 1395 intrigued me with it’s loose fit and strange overlay, and I thought the casual shape would look really nice with such a sweet fabric.

Vogue 1395

Sewing up this pattern (and fabric, for that matter) was pretty easy, although I did make some changes to the construction. The pattern calls for you to sew everything with a double-stitched seam – as in, literally two lines of stitching next to each other, and then finished. I couldn’t wrap my head around that one – why? for extra… strength? what? – so I compromised and used french seams for construction. I figured – hey, it’s technically a double-stitched seam, right? Plus, a french seam just looks way more elegant than a serged seam.

The armholes and neckline (sorry, didn’t take a photo, whoops) are finished with self-made bias binding (aka SILK CREPE bias binding). It looks really beautiful, if I do say so myself. It was also way less of a bitch to sew on than you’d think – despite the fact that we’re talking about bias silk crepe here. I used a lot of steam and manhandled that shit into submission. I also didn’t follow the directions on the pattern for adding the binding – they kind of had a weird method of construction, and I have a better one (sorry, but it’s true. Stay tuned for a photo tutorial during the OAL!). One big awesome plus is that the bias binding is applied flat, so you don’t have to worry about it stretching out and not fitting the area it’s binding – you can just cut the excess off! Hells yeah!

Vogue 1395

Size-wise, I cut the smallest size, which is an 8 in this design (anyone know why some patterns go all the way down to a 4 and some stop at 6 or 8? What’s up with that?). It fits ok – the arm holes, though. Whoa. Those arm holes were TERRIBLE. When I say they showed my bra, I don’t mean they just showed the very top edge. I mean they showed the ENTIRE SIDE of my bra (and a little bit below it!). Suffice to say, the arm holes were way too low! The back overlay does cover some of that, but it’s a moot point once you start moving around.

I fixed my dress in the most MacGyver way possible – I just pulled the shoulders up and gave them a new seamline. This was actually really easy thanks to my french seams, haha! I ended up pulling off about 1.5″ from the top of the shoulders – which yeah, that’s a lot! – and now the dress fits a hell of a lot better. The neckline obviously raised a lot too, but that’s ok – I kind of like it higher, I think it looks better with the shape/length. Plus, now I can bend over without fearing the gapeage.

Vogue 1395

Trying to figure out how the dress is pieced together? It’s really simple – there’s a front and back bodice (unlined, so make sure your fabric is opaque!), and the back bodice has an overlay that is only stitched down about 4″ at the center back. The slightly curved skirt is lined (I used china silk), and there is an elastic waist.

Vogue 1395

The back overlay crosses the side seams and ties at the front, which gives the dress a little bit of shape (that you can totally loosen after you’ve eaten a bunch of cupcakes because, fuck yeah, elasticized waist). Keep in mind that the wrong side of the ties show – it’s just a rolled hem all the way around, no lining – so you want to make sure you use a fabric that is relatively the same on both sides. The wrong side of this fabric is a little lighter than the right side, but it’s hardly noticeable.

Vogue 1395

What else did I change about the instructions? Well, I hated the way they had you hem stuff – lots of basting, pressing, and trimming. BOOORING! I used my rolled hem foot and finished much faster (with better results to boot!). I also could not FOR THE LIFE OF ME figure out how they had you attach the shoulders of all 3 layers. It just plain didn’t make sense, and I was french seamin’ that shit anyway (this was before the Armhole Disaster), so I did it my way and used french seams. Best way, I think!

Vogue 1395

Vogue 1395

Per usual, I threw both silks in the washing machine on cold before cutting, so now I don’t have to dryclean this guy! Yay! Talk about a casual day dress. I did notice that the black faded quite a bit on this silk crepe – so it’s more like, I dunno, light black or dark grey – but I don’t even care. It’s worth it just to know that I don’t have to schlep out to the dry cleaner every time I want to wear this. Which, btw, I would never do, because dry cleaning is the worst. Not because it’s terrible for the environment (although I reckon that’s a factor), but because I actually have to GO somewhere and PAY for it. Ew! Nope!

Vogue 1395

Anyway, cute new summer dress for meeee! I love it when my casual duds crossover into involving luxe fabrics. THIS, my friends, is why I sew.

As a sidenote – my pal Beth is gearing up to release her first pattern, and she needs testers! I know a lot of y’all were dying to dip your toes in to the tester pool, so here’s your chance to shine! Check out this blog post to see the skirt pattern in question (it’s super cute – I was actually on the list to test this, but my schedule this month has blown up all crazy so I had to bow out) and go ahead, throw your name in the hat :) You know you wanna :)

Completed: Sewaholic Robson, Jr.

21 May

Ever since I made my first trench coat last year (you know… the one in the amazing lace), I’ve been thinking of how to improve on it. Not that the lace coat needed a lot of improving – I mean, not to toot my own horn or anything (toot toot), but it’s pretty brilliant on it’s own. However, I knew there were a few things on the original that could use some updating.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

For one, I needed a coat that was a lighter weight. In these transitional spring days (specifically – when I wake up and it’s 50 degrees outside, then suddenly turns 80 by afternoon… I mean, what the fuck, weather?), a lightweight coat is a nice thing to have around. My lace Robson was a little tooo heavy, my Minoru a little too fall-esque (don’t get me wrong, though, I LOVE THAT COAT and I wear it all the time… in the fall) and obviously I can’t wear my big awesome plaid coat right now. Cardigans do work, but I wanted something that would also protect me from the rain (because, let’s be real, wet wool smells like shit).

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I knew I wanted to make another Robson – I’ve wanted to make another since, well, right after I finished the first one. It’s just a fun pattern to put together – it’s very detailed, there is a lot of fiddly work involved (with all the bias binding and topstitching), but it comes together sooo well. Plus, it looks super polished and who says I can’t have two trench coats amirite?

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I spent several months looking for a good fabric – and to be honest, I initially had my heart set on making a classic tan trench. I’ve always loved the way those look – talk about polished! However, I couldn’t find a good twill fabric – either it had stretch (a personal no-no when it comes to coatmaking), or it was the wrong weight, or the color was off.

This cotton/poly reversible polka dot fabric ended up linked to me via one of Mood Fabric’s sale emails – y’all ever sign up for those? They are, in one word, dangerous. Fabrics for half off! Aiee!! As soon as I saw the fabric and the price ($7 a yard YESSSS), I knew it was meant to be. I bought 3 yards and it ended up on my doorstep a few days later.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Guys. This is basically my DREAM coat. The polka dots make it sooo much more fun than if it had just been a borin ol’ tan coat. I’m so glad I came across this fabric, and that I snapped it up when I did. I admit I was initially afraid it would be a little too lightweight for the structure of a trench – and it is pretty lightweight, it’s not super warm or anything (but, like I said, I don’t need super warmth right now so that’s fine with me!) – but once I got in the facings and the hem, it holds it’s shape pretty well. It has a nice crisp drape and the poly content in the fabric gives it a subtle sheen that I think looks really nice for this sort of garment.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Plus, it’s reversible! Meaning the inside still looks cool as shit, but I didn’t have to line it to make it that way :D Yay!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Since I’ve already once talked at length into the making of this coat (well, the lace version… you can see the posts here and here, if you’re curious!), I’ll just go over what I changed for this coat.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I think the biggest/most noticeable change is that it’s much shorter than the pattern is designed to be. I always felt like the lace one was a liiiittle too long on me – and not always the most flattering. The shorter length on the polka dot one is definitely more casual, which I like! To get this one hip length, I actually just put on the lace coat and measured how much to take off to get it where I wanted it, and then added my hem allowance and cut off the bottom of the pattern pieces. I usually use the lengthen/shorten lines (cos, duh, that’s what they’re there for), but I wanted my coat to be slightly more flared and I also felt that the waist length was fine… I just wanted to shorten the length below the waist. I think it worked out pretty well!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I also raised the pockets on my trench – the pockets on the lace one are WAY too low, and I never use them (like, I can barely get my hands in them ahaha). Again, I just put the trench on and measured where I wanted the pockets to hit – I think I raised them close to 2″. They’re about 1″ below the belt looks, which for me was the perfect spot. Now I can actually use my pockets!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

One last thing I did was narrow the width of the front storm flaps on this trench – on my lace one, they have a tendency to stick out, and it’s pretty annoying! I wasn’t sure how to fix that, so ultimately I ended up putting on the lace trench (gah, most expensive muslin ever hahaha) and pinning out where there seemed to be excess flap, which I then measured and shaved off the pattern pieces. I think it was something like 1/2″, reduced to nothing – basically, if you look at the pattern piece, it’s where the bottom of the flap curves out by the armhole. After I cut that off, the flaps stay flat like they should.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Other than the above changes, I didn’t do anything else to the pattern. I did size this one down to the 0, so it’s smaller than the lace one (which I’ve lately felt like is a liiiiitle big). Other than that, I made no sizing adjustments and I did not stray from the directions!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I agonized for waaaay longer than I should have over what buttons to use for this coat. Initially, I had picked plain navy buttons – boring! Then I chose some cool cream buttons with a gold ring around the edge, but once they came in, they just looked all sorts of wrong with the coat. Of course, at this point we were pushing deadline, so I didn’t have time to reorder (and THANK GOD Mood returns buttons, because that was like $30 right there haha! More than I spent on the fabric! Whyyy are buttons so expensive?), so I turned to my stash for a solution.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Aren’t they cool, though? I got them from my Mamaw a few years ago – she used to work for a garment factory, and when they ultimately closed down, she came bearing loads of sewing notions. Mostly buttons and huge spools of thread, which my mom and I split. I have several jars of these gold buttons (with two different crests), silver buttons, and leather-wrapped buttons (in brown and black). I think she said they were used on Tommy Hilfiger coats? HA! Thanks for the buttons, I guess, Tommy!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Working with this fabric was pretty easy. I used a Microtex 90/10 needle and tried to be mindful of my pins (since it does like to show pin marks and where you’ve ripped out stitches – although getting it good with the steam iron makes most of the holes disappear). I was a little afraid that the polyester content would make this hard to press, but it played nice with the iron, so that’s good! The only thing that sucked is that it doesn’t ease terribly well, so I have a little bit of puckering at the sleeve caps, oh well!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Since the fabric isn’t too thick (despite being double-faced) and it pressed well, I chose to use the remaining yardage to make bias binding for all the insides. I used the same side I used for the exterior of the coat – I think it gives a nice contrast the wrong side!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Finally (yes, I’m wrapping up here, sorry y’all!), I swapped the tie belt with a gold buckle, to match the buttons. I think it gives the coat a nice final touch, plus, I just love buckles! I shortened the tie drastically and interfaced it for some extra stability.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

One thing I want to mention is that I actually waterproofed this bad boy! I used Scotch Gard and, well, just sprayed the everloving shit out of it and left it to dry overnight. I actually finished this coat a couple of weeks ago (the photos were taken the Saturday before Mother’s day), and I’ve been wearing it ever since, due to a random cold snap. I’ve managed to wear it in light drizzle *and* for Bike to Work Day (where there was also a light drizzle), and it’s definitely waterproof! Dunno how well the waterproofing works for torrential downpour or anything like that, but it works for the purposes I intended :) This is my first experience using this stuff, so while I can’t vouch for it in the long-term, I’ll be sure to post an update in a few months :)

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

That’s it! Probably way too long of a post for something I’ve made twice (and already discussed at length), but hopefully this helps some of y’all who may have been on the fence about making this pattern or wanted to make the same changes I did.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Also! Landon took these photos for me – aren’t they nice? We actually shot these in my parent’s back yard, right above the creek that I used to play in as a kid :) That big plot of dirt behind me is actually my dad’s former garden (I say former because he moved everything closer to the house and put it in raised beds), although I think he’s going to plant corn there later this summer. If you think the garden looks huge, it is. It’s fucking gigantic and probably bigger than my house and yes, I’m spoiled with fresh vegetables all summer. Omg I can’t wait for tomato season.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Oh, right, and also – it’s my birthday today! Yay!! I’m 29 – and one year closer to 30 :) Think I might treat myself to a new Bernina foot soon, cos, well, I love buying myself presents. Ha!

Bye for now!!

Completed: Vogue 1610, in Silk Jersey

23 Apr

All right, y’all, so back to Vogue 1610. If you recall my first make-up of this pattern, I’m happy to report that I finally got my hands on some gorgeous silk jersey and was able to do her her all fancy-like – want to see? :)

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Yay, baby’s first ~silk jersey~ DVF ;)

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

I know, I know – a true 1970s DVF would be made in some ~futuristic~ polyester, but I’m a fine lady with fine tastes and I wanted silk! So silk I got. Ha!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

After my first make, I was pretty confident on the sizing and adjustments I needed to do to get this dress really looking it’s best. Y’all should be proud of me – I remembered to *not* hack off the hemline to dangerously short proportions, and I remembered to remove the added length to the bodice so this hits me in the right spot. Other than that, this dress went together almost the same way as my first one – except I left the sleeves off, for a cool 70s kick. Nice, yeah?

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Now let’s talk about silk jersey. After lurking the Mood Fabrics website (as well as the store last month!) for a few weeks, I came across this gorgeous this paisley silk jersey by Marc Jacobs. I was looking for something a little groovy that would look like something Diane would use to make one of her iconic dresses, and I think this fits the bills. Also: SILK. Hell, it was expensive, but it was definitely worth it!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

This was my first experience working with silk jersey. The texture is quite a bit different than what I had imagined this fabric would feel like – it kind of feels like a really really high-quality ponte (this particular fabric is also a heavier weight of silk jersey; some of the lighter weight in the store, for example, almost felt like straight-up poly. So weird!). A high-quality ponte with a beautiful drape and feels like luscious silk, I might add. The colors on the fabric were SUPER saturated, and there was a nice sheen to the right side.

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

I say “were” because while they’re still pretty bright, the colors aren’t quite as close as they were when I originally got the piece of fabric in the mail. See, I’m of the camp that anything that cannot be safely washed in the washing machine simply does not belong in my house. For some of my older (and wool!) projects, that usually means they get a good airing out and the occasional hand wash. For everything else, it means I don’t own it. Ha! I hate the dry cleaners, I hate the chemicals, and I don’t want them anywhere near my body! I knew this dress wouldn’t get worn at all if it meant that it was a pain to clean, so I did a little research and ultimately threw the whole yardage in the washing machine and dyer to pretreat before I cut into it. Apparently, silk is a-ok as long as you treat it the same way you will treat the finished garment (in my case – wash on cold, tumble dry medium). Be warned that it will soften the silk and remove the sheen, as well as slightly dull the colors. I figured a little dull color is better than a dress that I never wear, so in the wash it went! No regrets!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Anyway, back to sewing this stuff – my particular fabric (again, like any other jersey, not all silk jerseys are the same!) was pretty stable, so it would be fine for sewing up on a regular machine. For the most part, I treated this fabric the same way I treat any other knit – the seams are constructed on my serger (again, not necessary – but hey, I have a serger and it’s there, so why not?), and I stabilized the shoulders with strips of iron-on interfacing to keep them from stretching out over time.

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

The few parts that I did sew on my sewing machine, I used a fine 70/10 ballpoint needle and regular polyester thread. What is different here (as opposed to how I normally sew knits) is that I included facings at the arm holes and blindstitched them down, as well as blindstitched the hem and the facing on the skirt overlap. I know, I know – it’s a knit, throw a fucking binding on it and call it a day, yeah? – but I felt like this dress deserved just a little more finesse, it being a silk jersey DVF and all. Since the silk jersey is so, well, robust, it lends nicely to blindstitching as the stitches really sink it and are completely invisible on the right side. Plus, it presses like a dream. Yay silk!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

GAH, I mean – just look at that beautiful fabric!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

So good.

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Here’s what silk jersey looks like once you push it through the wash. Notice that the texture isn’t smooth and shiny – it a little rough, almost slubbed (I hesitate to call it pilling because I feel like this particular fabric probably doesn’t pill, but feel free to chime in if you have a long-term experience with this stuff!). Despite being silk, the end result is very relaxed and casual feeling, but it totally looks nice enough to wear to work or on a date.

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Overall, I’m really pleased with how this dress turned out and I can’t wait to test those silk-breathing properties in the dead of summer. Not to mention – how about those colors, eh? Seriously, is it even possible to be unhappy while wearing this dress? :)

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

So, there you go – silk jersey wraps FTW! What do you think? Are you ready to fall in love with silk jersey yet?

Completed: Runway-Inspired Separates

25 Mar

So, everyone at the Mood Sewing Network decided a couple of months ago that we would challenge ourselves to make pieces that were inspired by the Spring 2014 runway. Real talk: this shit sent me into a panic. Runway? I can honestly say I have never even so much as glanced at a series of runway photos, let alone determined an outfit based on what I saw (I’m not saying this in an ~ooh, I’m so cool I just don’t even pay attention to fashion~ way, more like, yo clueless!). Furthermore, it’s difficult for me to grab “inspiration” from something without just blatantly copying it. I spent an entire month agonizing over designers, pouring over runway sets at style.com (holy crap, there are a lot of them) and wringing my hands over what to make.

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Then I discovered Alberta Ferretti.

Alberta Ferretti Spring 2014

I still don’t know who this designer is, exactly, but the entire runway show is magical. Bright, saturated colors! Crisp white accents! Flowers! Stripes! This is the kind of inspiration I can get behind! I decided to make myself a *wearable* (emphasis on wearable ;)) version of my favorite look.

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Figuring out the fabric and patterns I would use was almost as difficult as picking a designer! I knew I wanted to make a striped skirt with pleats similar to the runway version, because I just really love how that turned out (plus, who doesn’t love a good striped skirt?), but finding a good striped fabric on the Mood Fabrics website was haaard. I mean, they have all sorts of good stripes to choose from – but very little in that specific combination of wide, irregular stripes in bright saturated colors. I know, I know – this is supposed to be an inspiration, not a literal interpretation. But dangit, I wanted those irregular stripes!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I’m not going to tell you how long I spent picking through the Mood website with a fine-tooth comb; let’s just say I probably know every apparel fabric they sell now. I did finally find my big prize, though – this amazingly bright orange stripe cotton sateen is the clear winner. Woohoo! Of course, it clashes with my hair like big time crazy bad, but whatever, I picked all this shit out pre-blue LT. Anyway, I just love love LOVE the bright colors of the stripes – it’s not quite the same colors as the inspiration skirt – it’s way more happy springy! Yay spring colors!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I was originally going to make the fabric in a skirt that is more similar to the runway inspiration – no button front + pleats all the way around – but at the very last minute (like, right before I cut into the fabric, lolz), I changed my mind and decided to go with a pattern I knew I would actually wear and love. Enter the Kelly skirt! Cutting that shit took forever, btw. I agonized for a long time on how to cut the stripes – where each color and wide stripe should hit. I used the inspiration photo to help me decide how to cut the waistband (it was originally going to be a mess of stripes on it’s own, but I like it as one solid, thick stripe!), and was careful to match up the stripes along the side seams, the button front, and the pockets. Like I said, it took forever, but once I got the pieces cut, the actual assembly took no time at all.

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

The fabric is described as a lightweight cotton sateen, but it’s weighty enough to work as a bottom weight. There is definitely some texture in the weave, and it stretches quite a bit. I made sure to stabilize the waistband and button placket so the fabric would keep it’s shape in those areas, and used a long stitch on my machine for all the topstitching. It presses very well – really easy to get a sharp crease in there, yeah! – but it also tends to leave pin holes. For areas that needed to be pinned together and topstitched (such as the button band and inside of the waistband), I fused the pieces with a long strip of stitch witchery instead of pinning; this keeps everything in place and makes topstitching SO much easier! Especially if you tend to miss spots and only discover them after you’ve finished topstitching the seam, which means they gotta be ripped out and restitched so you catch the entire fold (er… not that I would know anything about that…). That shit’s not a problem at all when you’ve got Stitch Witchery on your side. Yay, Stitch Witchery!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Since my skirt is so bright and colorful, I went the boring route with my top and made a classic button-down shirt. I seriously considered adding embellishment – or even making it into a crop top, because, why the fuck not? – but in the end, I stuck with the classic tried and true. Mainly because my wardrobe is sorely lacking a solid white button down with sleeves, so I know this shirt will get quite a bit of wear with other pieces to mix and match. I used this Theory lightweight cotton shirting – which, if you were wondering, took almost as much agonizing as find the perfect stripe. There are SO MANY WHITE SHIRTING FABRICS available at moodfabrics.com! SO FUCKING MANY. Like, how do you even choose? I figured that I’ve had really good experiences with all the Theory denims I’ve bought, so the shirting fabric must be just as excellent. Which ended up being true – this shit is soft as angel’s wings, presses and stitches beautifully, and it’s right along that line of being *almost* sheer because it’s so lightweight. A skin-colored bra is a must with this fabric. The only drawback is that since it’s 100% cotton, it does wrinkle like crazy. Like, when I pulled it out of the dryer, it was a hot mess of wadded wrinkled ball I don’t even know what. Good thing it presses well! :)

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

For my pattern, I used Butterick 5526. Like I said, I knew I wanted a classic button-down shirt but nothing in my stash was exactly what I wanted – everything was either a relaxed fit, or had something twee like a peter pan collar or an abundance of ruffles cascading down the front. Which is fine – clearly I like these patterns enough to even have them in my stash – but I wanted something super basic. Butterick 5526 perfectly fit the bill – I went with the princess-seamed version with 3/4 sleeves, and I’m actually a little surprised at how much I like it. I made the size 6 with no muslin, with the hopes that the princess seams would give me enough room to play around with the fitting. It actually came out perfect straight out of the envelope – I KNOW, RIGHT? – although next time, I will shorten the sleeves because they are stupid long. They’re supposed to be 3/4 and they come to right above my wrists – in that weird spot that’s not quite long sleeve, but rather looks like I measured my arms wrong. Wah wah! I’ll just wear these rolled up, I guess. I also may reduce some of the ease out of the sleeve cap in the next version; these were pretty hard to ease in smoothly and there are still tons of wrinkles. But, for the most part – it ain’t bad!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I did try to jazz up the shirt a little bit by adding topstitching, but for the most part – it’s just a plain jane backdrop to an awesomely loud skirt. I love it!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Ok, now I have to tell you my secret – I didn’t start sewing this until Saturday morning! On top of that, it had to be finished and photographed before dark on Sunday – and I had a wedding to attend on Saturday night. I spent so long agonizing over my designer inspiration, then the fabric, then the pattern – that by the time I had everything (mostly)figured out, it was time for me to get on a plane and head to NY. When I got home on Monday, I had another more urgent deadline that needed to be taken care of asap (more on that later), which put this project on the backburner for a few days. Needless to say – I was pretty stressed come Saturday morning! I like to think I’m pretty efficient when it comes to making things quickly, but even that’s a stretch for me, especially two garments. I’ll be honest – I was tempted to half ass this one, just for the sake of time, but I decided early on that it wasn’t even worth my while if I didn’t end up making something that would be wearable past this photoshoot. Which means I forced myself to slow down – I made time for fitting, for the details like topstitching, for fixing mistakes (oh yeah, I totally sewed that collar stand on backwards the first time NO BIG DEAL), for eating lunch. But hey, look – not only did I actually get it done, but I actually made something nice without cutting corners.

Butterick 5526, made with Mood Fabrics

Butterick 5526, made with Mood Fabrics
I mean, check out that topstitching!

Butterick 5526, made with Mood Fabrics

Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics
Lots of topstitching on the skirt too, woohoo :)

Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I know my outfit isn’t quite as fashion forward as what I could have done, but I am elated with how both pieces turned out and I can’t wait to give them some proper wear to welcome spring in with loving arms. Come on, spring! I know you’re lurking back there somewhere, time to come out of hiding!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

One last thing – most of y’all are probably aware by now, but just in case you weren’t… By Hand London is going to start printing fabrics on-demand! How freaking awesome is that?? They need some help with costs to get production started, so they’ve got a Kickstarter going to raise funds. You can get some pretty sweet loot in exchange for your money – from tote bags, to coffee mugs, to free patterns, to private sewing lessons – but even $5 helps. Every little bit adds up! I am so so excited for this new venture that the BHL ladies are seeking out, and I really hope they meet their goal so it can become a reality (especially if it means I can start printing wildly tacky fabric to my heart’s desire). You can check out the Kickstarter here – watch the super cute video, and I dare you not to fall in love. I dare you.

Tailoring the Vogue Coat, pt 2

23 Dec

Man. Tailoring. It is always (always!) worth the extra cost and effort, but lord I always forget how much extra effort is actually involved. I’ve been plugging along on my coat since I last posted my progress, so here’s what I’ve been up to in the meantime!

I finally got the padstitching on the lapels done. That alone took the longest – not because padstitching takes forever, necessarily (well, I guess it depends on the size of the lapels), but because I kept putting it off for as long as possible. I was not looking forward to how long it would take. Guys – when I finally sat down and made myself do it, I finished both lapels in like 45 minutes. I’m such a baby, haha! Fortunately, while I was putting off the padstitching, I was not sitting idle – I skipped ahead of the instructions, and assembled the coat back (minus the tailoring) and lining, so that should save me some time now.

Now, I totally could have skipped the padstitching – it’s not 100% necessary, although it will 100% of the time make your coat look sooo much nicer. RTW coats do NOT have this sort of tailoring in them, and they obviously get away with it because people still buy them. But look at what a difference it makes:

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

If you can’t tell, the padstitched lapel is on the left (the side that overlaps), and the one that hasn’t been padstitched is on the right (the underlap). Do you see how flat the non is in comparison to the one with stitching? It’s pretty incredible!

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

LOOK AT THAT ROLL LINE, JUST LOOK AT IT.

Padstitching, in a nutshell, is basically just sewing diagonal stitches in straight lines (eventually forming a bunch of chevrons) using silk thread, so the hair canvas adheres to the coating fabric. You don’t sew all the way through the fabric – just pick up a little nip here and there to keep things connected. You hold the fabric+canvas over your fingers so it is encouraged to roll while you sew, and then when you’re finished, you steam the shit outta that sucker so it is hold it’s shape. Again, time consuming and not totally necessary, but it really is the difference between “Hey, I made a coat” and “~*Hey I tailored a fucking coat are you so impressed*~”. I mean, I’m impressed with myself and I haven’t even finished the thing yet!

After I finished the Dreaded Lapels, I focused my attention on the collar.

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

First, I sewed the two under collar pieces together. These are cut on the bias, so they will stretch and sit correctly underneath the upper collar. They are also cut slightly smaller than the upper collar, so the seam will roll to the underside and you won’t see it. That’s the plan, anyway.

Vogue Coat - Tailoring
Vogue Coat - Tailoring

To sew the interfacing pieces together (remember, they need to be on the bias so I can’t cut them on the fold), I removed all seam allowances and zig-zagged the pieces together at the center, secured with a piece of seam binding. I then marked my roll line and, I know, it looks really shitty. Sorry about that.

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

As with the lapels, I marked the padstitching lines with my trusty Sharpie. Above the roll line gets heavy padstitching (1/4″ tall, spaced 1/4″ apart) and below the roll line is more lightly padstitched (1/2″ tall, spaced 1/2″ apart). This will help the collar to stand so it looks nice and full and not sad and flat.

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

After I finished padstitching, I wrapped the collar around my tailor’s ham and, again, steamed the shit out of it. So qt, so pro.

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

I drafted a back stay, although my pattern doesn’t call for it. It’s always a good thing to include, though – it’ll reduce the strain on the coat back from moving your arms around/hugging people, and thus give your coat a longer lifespan. Plus, you can use cheapie muslin and I love me some cheaping out.

By the way, I use the term “draft” veryyyy loosely. I pinned my back and side back pieces together (so they would be one continuous piece with no seams) and marked 8″ below the neckline and 3″ below the armhole, then used my curved ruler to connect the two lines.

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

The resulting piece (cut on the fold, because, again, no seamlines) is the back stay. I pinked the bottom edge so there wouldn’t be a sharp line on the outside of my coat. Real talk: this is the only reason why I own pinking shears at all. For tailoring. I’m not even kidding about that a little bit.

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

The back stay then lays on top of the coat back and is basted to the arm holes, side seams, neckline, and shoulder edges. The bottom just kind of flaps free in the breeze. And that’s all there is to it!

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

I also stabilized my shoulder seams with twill tape – no real reason, except that my Tailoring book (lol why the fuck is that listed at $65 what is this madness) said it was a good idea so I just went along with it. It should reduce the strain at the shoulders, which is good because this coat is starting to get a little heavy!

Vogue Coat - Tailoring

Finally, I catch-stitched down all my seams on the coating fabric, catching only the underlining. Honestly, I should have done this as I sewed each piece – I really had to reach up under the back stay to get some of those seams sewn down – but I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. Catch-stitching down the seam allowances is one of those weird optional steps that isn’t necessarily bad if you skip it (like I was planning to), but it does help keep everything in place on the inside, thus prolonging the life of your coat. And, I mean, it’s sort of relaxing. I really love to catch stitch, what can I say?

So there’s that! I’m mostly done with the fiddly tailoring at this point – I still have the sleeves to deal with, but they shouldn’t be too bad. Since I’ve already assembled the lining, it’s really now just a matter of putting everything together.

My original plan was to have this finished by Christmas, but I’m now shifting that to a (hopeful) NYE completion date. Construction hasn’t necessarily been dragging- I just haven’t been home at all to work on it! My dad ended up in the hospital last Monday, where they discovered that his colon was completely blocked due to cancer, so they wheeled him into emergency surgery on Tuesday and cut out 30% of that shit (pun intended). They also removed a bunch of lymph nodes and tested those – turns out that stuff is cancer-free, which is AWESOME – but he does have spots on his liver that will require him to go through chemo. Scary, scary shit, man. Fortunately, my dad has been a total trooper and by Wednesday morning he was walking up and down the halls like a champion. Things are good now – he finally passed gas yesterday (lol @ us being excited about my dad farting, considering he regularly likes to stink us out), and we’re hoping he can be home in time for Christmas. Fingers crossed! Although, to be honest, I’ll totally spend Christmas in that tiny hospital room if I have to!

I don’t like to discuss my personal life here much, this being a sewing blog and all, but my dad is a pretty inspiring/amazing dude. He regularly runs ultra marathons – 50-100+ miles at a time, up a mountain, sleeping in the bushes, that’s all normal for him. I laugh when someone corrects me for saying 500k (“Oh, you mean 5k, silly.” “No, dipshit, I meant 500k. He ran 314 miles.”) when I brag about his racing. And dude is fast – he regularly smokes out all the little 25 year olds who run the same races. Not bad for a 54 year old who looks like Santa! Not to be a total sap, but getting to spend the last week with my family (despite the less-than-ideal circumstances) and knowing that my dad is going to be a-ok is literally the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for. I’m just so thankful.
❤️❤️

Anyway, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas! I’m hoping to get in some much-needed sewing time – my machine has been idle for way too long :)

Completed: A Manly Striped Sweater for Landon

19 Dec

Guys, I’m such a mess. It’s December 19th and this is literally the first Christmas present I’ve come up with – I made Landon a sweater!

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

Or, I should say, I SEWED Landon a sweater. Ain’t fuckin’ around with no Sweater curse.

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

Y’all know I don’t do much sewing with men’s clothing… I think I average about one piece per year, so here’s 2013’s edition! I don’t know what the hang-up is, because every time I get started on a new Landon-garment, I realize that I really enjoy the process of men’s sewing because it’s so straightforward. No weird fitting (I mean, there’s fitting, but not like fitting a woman’s body with boobs and a butt), no frills, and lots of exact topstitching and mitered corners and fun things like that. It’s also very safe.

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

We found this navy/pea striped wool knit on Mood Fabrics and Landon immediately pointed out how much he loved it. I’m not surprised- like 3/4 of his closet consists of these colors, or stripes, or this particular cut of shirt. So I’ve basically just created the holy trinity of sweaters for him, I guess.

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

Anyway, I was iffy about the fabric when I ordered it, but a sweater was promised and I’m a girl who keeps her promises (plus, like I said, I didn’t have to knit is, sooo..). The fabric is actually quite lovely in person – it’s a nice, stable knit, sort of like a ponte, so it holds stitches beautifully without getting all weird and wavy. It’s also wool, which means it steams up beautifully and doesn’t get that weird shine that you sometimes get when you stick a hot iron on ponte. I sewed this up on my serger – because it’s fast and durable (and this is a dude sweater, after all) – but this is totally the type of fabric that can handle a standard sewing machine making the seams, so fear not if you’re part of the serger-less population.

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

I’ll be straight with y’all – this was a very last-minute project. My original plan for December was the glorious plaid coat I’m working on, but I’ve had some issues with time management this month (and hand-tailoring takes foreeeever, and no, I don’t care if Peter can make a beautiful coat in a week STOP COMPARING ME TO A LITERAL SEWING MACHINE), so the coat, while still in the works, is not quite ready for her debut. Fortunately, knits sew up pretty fast, so I had this finished in a couple of hours – just in time to take some pictures and send the man off on a week-long business trip.

I did not use a pattern for this (see above: time management), but simply traced off an existing sweater that already fit him. From there, I sewed up the main pieces (front, back, and sleeves), tried it on him, and then added the binding for length. I somehow messed up the length of the sleeves (pretty certain that the original traced-off sweater had too-short sleeves, since these were exactly the same length, gr), but I was able to adjust the ribbing width and they turned out fine. Speaking of the ribbing, I tried to source a good navy but ended up with nothin’, so I just used this navy ponte knit from Mood Fabrics, left over from last month’s dress. The color match is perfect, and the lack of visible ribs actually looks pretty polished. So there’s that!

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

To get the neckline ribbing to lay nice and flat, it needs to be short enough to stretch perfectly within the opening. Even a fraction of an inch too long, and it will wave and flap out. Not a good look! Since I was working pattern-less and didn’t feel like getting my math on, I switched up the sweater construction so the neck ribbing is applied flat. It’s really easy – see my tutorial on the Papercut Patterns blog. I pretty much get perfect results across the board every time when I use this technique, and it doesn’t require any intense maths or measurements. This is what I love about knits!

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

I also topstitched the ribbing at the neck with a twin needle, making sure to have the seam exactly between the two needles. I just like the way it looks!

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

Since I had quite a bit of wool knit left over, I made a quick scarf for Landon as well. Super, super quick – just cut two lengths of fabric, sewed them together down the long side, turned the tube right side out and then closed up the open ends with a bit of Stitch Witchery. Landon loves his scarf, and he promises not to wear it with the sweater like I forced him to in these pictures.

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

I don’t know why I thought modeling the scarf in a bush was a great idea, but it sure seemed hilarious at the time.

Men's Sweater made with wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics

So, I guess the moral of the story is, when in doubt, make a sweater! Or if you’re super short on time, make a scarf! Either way, my knit scrap stash has just made itself incredibly appealing to me…

Completed: The Sugar Plum Dress (+ a Giveaway!)

25 Nov

This dress is SO awesome and sneaky. Looks like two pieces, but wait- there’s more! It’s actually one dress! Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics I LOVE these kinds of dresses! Looks like a silk blouse with a high-waisted pencil skirt, without the bother of keeping a shirt tucked in all day and making sure things match in the morning (because, ew, all I wanna do is sleep right now). Extra bonus – the skirt is a ponte knit, so it’s actually a COMFY pencil skirt. Are y’all feeling my excitement right now?? Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics This is the Sugar Plum, from Lolita Patterns. Full disclosure: Amity sent me this pattern free to try it out and see how I liked it. I guess you probably gathered at this point my reaction to the finished dress – ummm, amazing! I love how it’s totally appropriate for a professional environment (not that I need clothes like that anymore, but, you know, I still like to dress up ;)), but it’s still beautiful and feminine and unique. The pattern is really fun to put together – lots of tiny pieces, clever seam finishes, the kind of stuff that makes me :D Since it doesn’t require a lot of fabric to make up the top half (less than a yard!), I splurged on this amazing Oscar de la Renta silk print from Mood Fabrics. I also bought this navy blue ponte knit for the skirt (omggg so comfy) and lime green china silk for the lining for a bit of a color pop. Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics This is view B, without the front flounces. I sewed up a size 2. The top fit with no alterations, although I did need to take the skirt in a bit to get it fitted (it’s actually a bit toooo fitted now, whoops. Good thing it’s a knit lol). I did use a much stretchier fabric than suggested by the pattern, so I’m not surprised. The pattern has you use a stretch woven, and pontes tend to be a little more like an actual knit. Based on the way the skirt fits, I suspect you could also use a non-stretch woven and just cut the panels on the bias for the same fitted/comfortable effect. I skipped the pockets and the sleeve gathering detail for a more simple look. Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics The more I sew with silks, the more I find myself not wanting to make up anything else. The most important thing I’ve learned when it comes to sewing lightweight/slippery/silky fabrics is to make sure that your cutting is super accurate, then the sewing is a piece of cake (or, at least, as much of a piece of cake as it can be!). I always rip my fabric along the cross grain first, to ensure that the edges are perfectly straight, and then pin the selvedges together before I lay down my pattern pieces. This prevents the silk from shifting as I cut it. When it’s time to cut, make sure your scissors are nice and sharp, and try to cut the entire length of the blades (instead of timid little snips). One thing I loove about ordering from Mood Fabrics is that I know the fabric is going to already be on-grain, so I don’t have to worry about straightening the grain before I cut. Just rip the cut edge, pin, and cut those pattern pieces! Sewing with the ponte was much easier than the silk, obviously. I used a serger for all the skirt seams, and my regular sewing machine (treating it like a woven) to attach the silk top to the ponte waistband. I love this ponte because it’s quite a bit more stretchy than other pontes I’ve tried, which means it’s extra extra comfortable. Just be careful when you press it – it definitely gets a shine, so use a press cloth. I keep a big square of silk organza specifically for this purpose. It absorbs the heat of the iron so my fabric underneath doesn’t shine, and it’s sheer so I can actually see what I’m doing :) Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics I really enjoyed working on this pattern – lots of tiny details to make me feel challenged as a seamstress, but not so much that I got overwhelmed with the process. A lot of indie patterns run on the easy/beginner side – which is fine, I know there are lots of people who want something simple to make up, and it’s easier to complicate a pattern than simplify it. But sometimes it’s nice to have something that I feel is aimed at a slightly higher level, without me having to run through the steps and find ways to make it harder for myself. Wow, I just made me sound like a total weirdo. What can I say, I like a challenge! Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics I did make a pretty crappy mistake toward the end of this dress. I was sewing in the invisible zipper and could not get the waistband seams to match up. I was tired, hungry, getting grouchy (you can see where this is going), and I thought, “One more try and then I’m outta here.” While picking out the zip, I somehow managed to detach the teeth from the zipper tape. WHYYYYY. I know I tell y’all that I have millions of zippers in my stash, and I do, but none of them are invisible. I actually have to go out of my way and buy one whenever I need it (because I’m too stubborn to keep those in stock, apparently), which usually ends up with me going to Walmart because they sell invisible zippers and they’re open at 3am when I suddenly need one. So I pretty pissed about destroying this zip, and trying to avoid another trip to Walmart. I ended up cutting the zipper right above where I sliced it open, and just finished the dress with a super duper short zipper – it ends about halfway down the waistband. Since the skirt is so stretchy, this works, kind of. It’s funny to watch me pull it on, ha! And you know the worst part? THE WAISTBAND PIECES STILL DON’T MATCH UP. Whatever, I’m over it! Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics I love the little details on this dress that make it so special – the ruffled collar (hemmed using the rolled hem on my serger), the tiny buttons with the tiny button loops, and that BRIGHT LIME GREEN LINING. Really, it’s like a party when I take the dress off! Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics By the way, don’t ever search Oscar de la Renta on the Mood Fabrics site unless you plan on dropping some serious dough on some seriously incredible fabrics. I just fell down the rabbit hole – again! – and discovered violet boucle, boucle with sparkly lurex (!!!), silk floral and some freaking polka dot silk taffeta. I want, I want it all! Sugar Plum dress made with Oscar de la Renta silk and ponte knit from Mood Fabrics

Now time for the fun part – a giveaway! Amity has generously offered a copy of Sugar Plum to one lucky winner, yeeeah!! Still having reservations? Just know that the sizing goes aaaaall the way up to 24 (yes!) and there is an entire sew-along on the blog for anyone who needs some hand-holding. You have no excuses, people! To enter, just leave a comment on this post and let me know what you’d make your Sugar Plum up in (Personally, I’m lurking on a second version with a leopard blouse and a denim skirt, like, ahem, Leila’s. Yes. Exactly like that. Sorry boo!). This giveaway is open to WORLDWIDE and I will close the entries a week from today, Monday, December 2 8:00AM CST. Good luck!

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Completed: the Zinnia Skirt

8 Nov

Who doesn’t love to wear wool in the winter time?

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

I feel like a broken record when I start singing the praises of wool, but foreal you guys – this stuff is awesome. It’s super warm and cozy, breathes very well (so you don’t get overheated in all that warm and cozy-ness), and it’s also antimicrobial, which means it naturally repels odors. Which means now you know why I wear so much wool and still manage to keep up with the laundry – it doesn’t need to be washed very frequently! Airing out is fine for day-to-day. Yay for being lazy!

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

So obviously, I was ready to bust the wool out just as soon as the temperatures started dipping. I’ve had my eyeball on that Zinnia pattern, and I paired it up with this beautiful lightweight wool plaid suiting from Mood.

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

I didn’t take any special precautions when sewing this – it’s wool, it’s just easy! The stitches sink in (bad for unpicking, but great for hemming since you can’t see the top stitching ;)), it presses beautifully, and as weird as this is gonna sound – it was really fun to cut, too. My scissors just sliced right through that yardage. I love the colors and it looks just as good paired with black as it does with navy. Double duty fabric and all that.

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

For the skirt, I cut the size 2 (although I did end up taking in the waist so maybe the 0 would have been better). I left the skirt unlined and shortened the hem by about 3″ so I could have a mini. The waistband is cut on the bias and, despite what you might think you see, I promise that the plaid matches up at the side seams :)

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

See?

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

Oh yeah, and I did totally just change shirts. We’ll discuss those in a second.

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

So. About working with this skirt in a plaid fabric. It works – kind of. Matching those side seams was HELL ON EARTH and I’m not really sure why. There are only two pattern pieces, for fuck’s sake! That was also the same day I got my kidney stone (which, if you’re still wondering… it’s still here. Just hangin’ out. Ugh ugh ugh), so I blame it on the pain meds. Anyway, I don’t really think this patterns works very well with a stripe – at least not the stitched-down-pleats version. They just look like a hot mess at the front and back. Might want to save your plaids – or at least your large-scale plaids – for another project.

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

I also had to drastically shorten the hemline – like I said, 3″ and WOO IT’S A MINI – because the longer length just looked dumpy as hell on me. Which means my plans for using a border print probably won’t work with this pattern, at least not the print I had in mind. It’s just too tall for the skirt length.

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics
Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

Also, the fabric I chose maaaay be a little too much for this pattern – seeing as how it sticks out like I have a teeny petticoat underneath it, ha – but I actually like the flared look.

Renfrew top made with wool knit from Mood Fabrics

Oh yeah, my tops! This is a Calvin Klein wool jersey, also from Mood Fabrics (attached link isn’t the same color – looks like they’re sold out of the grey, SORRY – but it’s the same fabric type) and it is deeeelicious. So soft and cozy, and not itchy at all! I used the Renfrew pattern and made the cowl version with 3/4 sleeves. I just love the way the fabric drapes at the cowl – it has enough body so it’s not droopy, yet it’s also not huge and standing up on it’s own or anything.

Also, sorry about the rouge leaf. Didn’t see that during the photos, haha!

Renfrew top made with rayon knit from Mood Fabrics

I made the navy v-neck because I felt like my contribution was a little boring, and also because I wanted to see how good navy looks with this skirt (it does! it does!). I used a rayon jersey from Mood Fabrics that’s been in my stash for ages – originally considered for leggings, until I realized that it was a tiny bit too sheer aka I would be baring my bum. I’m so glad I found a use for it, though, because it is some of the most luxurious fabric I have ever handled! It may just be a rayon knit, but it’s silky smooth and amazing. I really wish I had it in every color! I’m also, like, stupid proud of how that V turned out, by the way.

As usual, I took waaay too many pictures, so I’m just going to dump the rest here.

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

Renfrew top made with wool knit from Mood Fabrics

Renfrew top made with rayon knit from Mood Fabrics

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

The tiny belt loops are my favorite part! So tiny and cute!

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

See what I mean about the plaid? It looks like a hot mess at the pleats. Oh well.

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

One last thing – I wanted to thank y’all for all your advice regarding my muslin, as well as my kidney stone. I’ve decided to set the muslin aside for now; I may revisit it in the future but I think my coat for 2013 will have to be a totally different pattern! So I guess I’ve got that to figure out. As far as the kidney stone… well, it’s still there, taking up residence. Y’all will probably be able to hear me scream from the rooftops once it finally emerges haha. A few people urged me to to go the doctor, and I did want to follow up and let y’all know that I went to both a doctor and a specialist last week, got the x-rays as well as a variety of medications. There’s not much else we can do at this point beyond surgery or shooting lasers (which my uninsured ass is reeeeally trying to avoid), which means I gotta shoot it out! For the past couple days I’ve been on an essential oil regimen, and tonight I will be trying some Coke/asparagus concoction that sounds fucking disgusting but is supposed to work. Anyway, sorry for the TMI, keep thinking happy kidney stone thoughts! haha!

Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics
Zinnia Skirt made with plaid wool from Mood Fabrics

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