A Weekend in NYC

20 Mar

After a whirlwind of a weekend in NYC (landing in on Friday evening and rolling out Monday afternoon – whew!), I’m happy to report that I’m back home in one piece. Minus the piece of my broken heart that I left with Clare. Sob! But maybe I should back up a little…

Fair warning: this is a word-heavy, stolen-picture-heavy post. Feel free to scroll by – or at least to the bottom, to check out who won the giveaway! Sorry if this sounds super rushed – we cancelled our internet (in search of a new provider) and I’m trying to publish before it turns off! ~living on the edge~ and all that.

It’s been exactly over a year since the last time I visited NYC and I think it was just in time – I’ve used up nearly all my fabric, time to buy moreeee!! For this round, I shacked up with Clare in the tiniest little studio apartment I’ve ever seen, in East Village across the street from Big Gay Ice Cream (and before you ask – we didn’t get any gay ice cream. It was WAY too cold!). Neither of us had been before, but we both fell in love with the area, especially all the punk stores that made us feel old and nostalgic (not to mention kind of hilarious at how the styles NEVER EVER change. Seriously! Brands and styles that I wore 10+ years ago… that were already old as hell, even back then. Oh, punk. So punk.). The apartment was fabulous, except when our “neighbor” decided to throw a several-hour long party on one night that ended up with me laying awake, listening to some chick blather on about convection ovens until the wee hours of the morning. But, don’t worry – we woke up bright and early the following morning, and made sure to turn the TV (you know, the one that was attached directly to his wall) up nice and loud for a couple of hours :)

Our first meet-up happened right after I landed and made my way from the airport to our pad, dropped my stuff off, and dipped right back out. We had planned to get tacos & margaritas with a handful of ladies, and per usual, I made sure we were a good hour late (what? Don’t look at me like that – navigating the subway with a giant suitcase during rush hour is hard). I sat at the end of the table with Jennifer & Betsy, and an endless supply of margaritas ;) (although I hear there was some talk of fat quarter challenges at the opposite end – I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that conversastion, ha!).

post-dinner group

A few of our party had already peaced out by the time Carolyn convinced a rando to take this photo, but here’s a portion of the group! Look at my creepy skeleton hands, HA!

Most everyone went home afterwards, but the real badasses of the group (me, Jennifer, Lucinda & Fleur) stuck it out for another round of drinks at some fancy winebar with a creepy bathroom. Which was WAY more awesome than it sounds, ha! I love meeting up with big groups, but I also like these little smaller sets because it gives me more of a chance to actually talk to people one-on-one and have a proper conversation.

Saturday morning, Clare & I headed out to Devra’s for a pre-meetup brunch. We were only a couple miles away, so we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous morning and walk (and only made it about half an hour late ;)). Brunch was, per usual, fucking amazing – and although someone forgot the coffee (cough cough), Devra did make sure that we ate off paper plates this go ’round, so no dishes were broken this year :)

INSTAFRANZ  @oonaballoona @wwndw
Me with Marcy & Lisette

me!
Oh, yeah, my hair is blue now! :)

Marcy & Trice
Marcy & Trice

Amanda, Lisette & Jennifer
Amanda, Lisette & Jennifer

Amity, Nette & Kelli
Amity, Wanette & Kelli

Kelli & Peter
Peter & Kelli (in case you were wondering… her hair really looks that good in real life. Clare & I were amazed and a little jealous).

After brunch, we walked down toward the Garment District – only about a half hour late! No biggie! Ha! GUYS, I swear… I actually am pretty prompt and on-time for the most part. I HATE waiting on late people, so I try not to ever be that person. However, something about NY just makes me late for every freaking thing I try to do. Thankfully, the group didn’t get started without us – everyone was waiting patiently in the lobby at Mood Fabrics, and we were able to ride the elevators up together in a couple trips.

Should have taken this before half the meet-up left haha. Oh well! Successful day!!  (ps ladies pls tag yourselves )

This is only a portion of the crew! Didn’t think to get a group shot before we released the hounds into Mood, boo, so about half the people left before this picture was taken. Of course, I also didn’t realize that Mood closes at 4 on Saturdays… and since we all arrived after 1, that didn’t leave much time to get around the rest of the Garment District! We barreled through Mood and wreaked some serious havok on the lines in that store – I think at one point it stretched all the way to the back by the bathroom! Although I spent most of my chatting up new friends via meet-up, freaking out over the gorgeous silk button hole twist that Madalynne brought for everyone (who brings that sort of stuff to pass out at a meet-up? Maddie, that’s who!), and kicking it with my favorite Mood Dude, George. Seriously, y’all. George is awesome.

We managed to make a quick pit stop at Pacific Trimming before they closed, grabbed a bite at Ben’s Diner across the street, and posed with our favorite tailor on the street corner.

Just being adorable with @clareyszabo

The rest of the weekend, Clare and I trolled around the city with whoever we could convince to join us – Amity, Trice, Devra & Sonja. We ended up going to the Garment District three days in a row – yes, there are totally shops open on Sunday, woohoo! – where I was finally able to meet my self-imposed fabric quota. Also, we totally tourist’d it up at places like FAO Schwarz (for the live toy soldiers), Tiffany’s (for the sparklies) & Saks 5th Ave (for lurking inside the designer duds – oh yes we did).

stole these from Clareeeee

@clareyszabo and I hanging with our new BFF #toysoldiermark

stole these from Clareeeee
This may be my favorite picture from the weekend. We dipped into Chic Fabrics and made BFFz with the owner, Sam. BFFz as in we are now planning a pool party at his house on Long Island, and Clare started snapping selfies that I tried to photobomb. Sam was awesome. Almost as awesome as the fabric I bought from his store :P

One thing I would have LOVED to do while I was around, had I been given a little more time (and perhaps the weather been a bit more cooperative), was to check out the tours at Seek. I reeeeeally wanted to do the NY Garment District Tour (or, hell, all their public tours sound pretty amazing. I’m dying to try that Fifth Ave department store history tour!), but it just wasn’t in the cards for this trip, due to weather and time restraints. I’ve had a few people ask for suggestions on places to visit in NY (from a tourist’s perspective), so that would definitely be the first thing at the top of my list to check out (psst! Want a discount? Use the code LLADY!). Next time I go, I am DEFINITELY getting signed up for at least one tour!

Another thing I was sad to miss was checking out Workroom Social – especially after a full night of getting my gab on with Jennifer! Again, I do want to plan a trip back in the summer, so hopefully we can make it happen!

I reckon y’all wanna see what I came home with though, huh?

fabric haul
Here’s the whole lot of fabric! I was pretty good this time around and spent a lot less than I did last year (also, hoping this can convince me to come back later this summer to restock, YES). Mostly cottons and knits, although there are a couple of pieces of silk in there.

Most everything came from Mood Fabrics, with a few exceptions-
- the chambray, plaid, and china silk came from Chic Fabrics (225 W 39th St # 11, New York, NY 10018) (our beloved Sam! GO SEE HIM and buy up allll the china silk like I did!)
- the grey/black/rust stripes and aqua with black polka dots came from Metro Textiles (Carolyn has a recent review on this place. It is really awesome to dig through, the prices are great, and I LOVED Kashi. Love love loved him. Go find him and tell him I sent you! I would have loved to spend a million hours in that store, pawing through fabrics, but we were on quite a time constraint by the time we managed to get in there.)
- the navy/white wide stripes and navy/white polka dots came from… I think Fabrics for Less? I honestly don’t remember, because I didn’t fall in love with anyone there, ha!

trims!
I also bought a few trims from Pacific Trimming. Rib knit – one with GOLD SPARKLY STRIPES, and one white stripes – and my first Riri zipper! That shit cost me $15, by the way. It better be as epic as everyone talks about.

OMG
Also from Pacific Trimming, this amazing American Flag elastic. I… what?

Speaking of Carolyn, she was kind enough to let Clare & I stash our giant stacks of luggage (I had one of those suitcases that was big enough for me to fit inside, plus an overstuffed duffel bag. All full of fabric, haha!) in her office on our last day, so we could pop back to the Garment District and get a quick Guinness before I had to leave for the airport. Carolyn mentions on her blog that she works in corporate, and she is NOT kidding – that office was corporate and swanky as hell! They had to take photos of us to even let us in, and then she gave us a tour and I don’t think we closed our mouths the entire time. And, of course, Carolyn was impeccably dressed – in handmade. Also, I just adore Carolyn. She’s like my mama bird of the sewing world ♥

One last celebration with my babez @clareyszabo

All in all, I had an amazing time. Clare was a wonderful traveling partner who felt the same way I did about every decision we encountered – whether or not we needed more coffee (always), if we felt up to walking instead of taking the subway (hell yeah we did!) and if the Garment District warranted just oneeeeee more trip before we left (what do you think?). She even brought me presents all the way from London – soo many teas, and a gorgeous African print wax fabric that I’m kind of afraid to cut into (see it in the haul photo? Bottom right!). I really did feel like I was leaving a tiny piece of my heart back there when I had to finally go home. Which just means I better haul my ass over to London, STAT!

As far as meet-ups, I’m so glad I was able to squeeze in soo many in the short time I was there (and bummed that a couple that we planned weren’t able to pan out). Everyone says this, all the time, but it’s really awesome getting to meet up with people who share the same interests as you and are happy to hear you drone on about your fitting adjustments and offer advice. Also: having met up with lots of bloggers across all channels, I gotta say – sewists are the nicest ones in the bunch, across the board! In these meet-ups, I never feel like I’m competing for a chance to talk (you know those people who you can tell are just waiting for a dip in the conversation so they can butt in and take over? Yep. Not a sewist trait, at least not with the ones I’ve met!) or carrying on about something that’s really obvious no one gives a shit about. Everyone is polite, encouraging, and happy to let you try on their jacket if you are interested in the pattern (ask Clare about that bomber jacket. I about stole it right off of her, ha!). Ohh, and we all tip well :) If you’re thinking about joining a meet-up in your area – DO IT. So much fun, so many new friends and new blogs to follow! The best part is when you can pick out who is wearing what pattern – I think there were, what, 4 Minorus at our meet-up? Too bad I left mine at home!

Oh yeah, I went there ❤️
So, anyway… New York, I ♥ U. I’ll be back, yes indeed.

One more thing – the book+pattern giveaway! Um, WOW you guys – I cannot believe the enormous response that blew my email up all week. Y’all must really love you some sewing textbooks, that’s all I have to say about that!

But, like all good things – this has got to come to an end, so let’s pull up a winner. Ding ding, who’s the lucky number?

winner1

winner2

That would be Sam L! Woohoo, congratulations! I’ll be in touch to get you your book & pattern :) I think you’ll find this book very helpful for learning all the techniques that come with making pants :)

Thanks to everyone who entered! I really really wish I had a copy of this book to give to ALL of y’all – but unfortunately, I only got one :(. If you are interested, you can purchase the book here on Amazon. As a side note (and perhaps this is better suited for a discussion post, maybe?), I noticed that an overwhelming majority of commenters seemed to be really terrified of sewing button holes and zippers. I’m going to let you in on a my top tip for learning new things: just try it! Who cares if your first attempt ends up to be total crap (err… maybe try on a scrap first, so it can truly be nbd, ha!)? That’s why we hide things at the bottom of the trash can :) Almost everything I’ve learned – seriously, everything – came from studying sewing books and tireless googling. Practicing is really the only way you can get better at something, and you need a healthy dose of fearlessness to realize that it’s really not so bad once you get going. You got this!!

Whew, that was long! Ok, I’m outta here! Have a great week of the week, everyone! :)

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Giveaway: The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction

13 Mar

blog-tour-banner

Hey everyone! Remember Christine Haynes, maker of the Emery dress pattern? Well, Christine has recently released her second book, The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction, and I’m excited to be the next stop on the blog tour!

CPG Clothing Contruction High res

When Christine originally asked me if I wanted to preview the book and take part in the tour, I didn’t even finish reading her email before I started typing my ‘YES YES YESSSSS’ response right back to her (good thing I did finish reading before I actually sent it, though- because at first, I thought she was saying she was planning a physical book tour and would end up in Nashville! Doh! Christine, you should still come to Nashville, tho :)). I really love sewing books, almost to a fault – I have a few dozen on my bookshelf, and only that few because I tend to cull them pretty aggressively so they don’t end up taking over my sewing room. Even though I’m not a beginner, I especially love the books geared toward beginners – I love all the photos and how-tos, and I still find myself learning new things from time to time!

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The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction is a book that is definitely geared toward beginners – if you need hand holding, this is the book for you. I’m actually pretty amazed at all the information Christine managed to cram in this deceptively small looking book – from choosing the correct thread and needle, to pretreating fabric, to deciphering the envelope of a sewing pattern, to those amazing step-by-step photo guides for a whole array of techniques. The general consensus on this book seems to be that everyone wishes they had it when they started sewing – and I absolutely agree! Just the zipper section alone would have sent angels singing to my sewing room if I’d had this shit back when I was first trying to understand how to operate my sewing machine. I think the best way to learn it hands-on with a good tutor, but that’s not always an option for everyone. Having this book would be the next best thing – it’s like having a tutor in your sewing room 24/7, but in print! Ha!

IMG_7003

I think this was the tutorial that excited me the most about this book. Yes, it’s geared toward beginners, but then she throws things like this in the mix. A full color, photo tutorial on sewing a front fly zipper! And it’s a good one, too! See – a beginner could TOTALLY tackle this technique with Christine by their side.

(psst! You can click the photos to enlarge!)

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I also love this how-to on shortening a zipper- isn’t it sooo much more clear than the sad little insert that comes with your Coats and Clark zip? Especially since, yes, you can totally shorten a zip by machine. I think I did mine by hand for the first, oh, 7 years of my sewing career – and trying to find a needle with matching thread in the heat of the moment? Forget about it! Half my stuff from back then has self-made zipper stops in some obnoxious mismatched shade of whatever I happened to find in the nearest pincushion. Again, I would have LOVED to have this book at my side when trying to figure this stuff out.

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This is probably my favorite part of the book – scattered throughout are photos of garments with numbers denoting what technique was used for each part, and where to find it in the book. Isn’t that genius? Plus, all the patterns Christine used (both finished garments and for the photo tutorials) are from indie designers. No Big 4 to be found anywhere in this bad boy, yeeeah!

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GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Ok, that was fun, but let’s get to the REALLY fun part! Christine has generously offered up a signed copy of The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction, plus an extra Emery pattern for one lucky winner! Yay! To enter, all you gotta do is leave a comment on this post and tell me what technique you’d like to master. That’s it! This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the comments one week from today, THURSDAY MARCH 20, 2014 AT 8:00 AM CST.
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Don’t forget to check out the full blog tour here on Christine’s blog – lots of awesome ladies involved, lots of cool giveaways going on!

Good luck! I’ll be off the blog and prowling NYC this weekend with my best blog gal, Clare. Expect lots of photo spam on Twitter and Instagram… and possibly an extra little surprise in that winning package ;)

Completed: The Emery Dress

10 Mar

I am SO LATE to this freaking party – but better late than never, right? :)

Emery dress

Behold – it’s an Emery Dress! Sent to me by the lovely Christine Haynes, I was anxious to try out this pattern for myself (have you seen these popping up all over the internet? Everyone’s versions are AMAZING! Some of my favorites – Miss Crayola Creepy, SewTell, The Nerdy Seamstress, By Gum, By Golly!, ShanniLoves, Sew I Thought… ok, I’ll stop now, but you get the idea!). This little lady regularly gets rave reviews on the fit, construction, and overall look, and I think it’s pretty well-deserved.

Emery dress

So, my experience with Emery didn’t go quite as smoothly as everyone else’s – this was the dress that sucked me down the SIX MUSLIN SPIRAL OF DOOM, but once I got that out of the way, the rest of the construction came together easily. Even matching up the plaid was easy, since there aren’t a lot of pieces to contend with (although I totally done goofed mine up… more on that in a minute).

Emery dress

I’ll start with the muslin experience. Since figuring out that I have big back-gaping issues (and since that’s not really something that can be easily tweaked after the pattern pieces have been cut out of the fabric), I always always make a muslin, at least for just the bodice. My muslin for this dress turned out perfect in the front – darts in the correct place, ending at the correct points, perfectly fitting at all key points, yay! – but the back stuck straight out between my shoulder blades. I tried my usual adjustment, and instead of working – it actually made things worse! Thus, I started the muslin spiral: I played with moving around the slash line, I tried adding different amounts, I tried altering the center back seam and I tried adding fucking gigantic darts at the neckline. Those last two attempts were really really awful, by the way – if you tweak the back neckline too hard, you’ll end up throwing off the balance of the front neckline so it pooches out all weird. NOT a good look!

Of course, by the time I realized I couldn’t crack this pattern, I was also 5 muslins in and feeling stubborn enough to refuse giving up. Not to mention, I was getting super desperate and pissy because everyone else seemed to have NO problems whatsoever with fitting this pattern. Look at everyone’s backs – they fit perfectly. This was starting to make me feel like I had a freak body or some shit.

Emery dress

So how did I fix this mystery back pattern? After combing through my fit books and googling everything I could think of, I ended up landing on the narrow back adjustment (this shows something similar to what I did, although I pulled mine from Fit For Real People so it’s slightly different). That did the trick! No gape! I feel like a fitting PRO, y’all!

Emery dress

I think it’s really important to point out that just because *I* had some fitting issues with the back bodice, that doesn’t mean that you should be scared to try this pattern! Like I said, pretty much every other version I’ve seen praises how well it fits straight out of the envelope. Everyone’s body is shaped differently, and it makes me real cringy when I read that someone recommends against a pattern because they had a bad fit experience (unless it’s just a bad fit across the board – which happens, but it’s rare!). Your (or my!) fit experience =/= everyone else’s fit experience, so just keep that in mind! Ok, soapbox rant over!

Emery dress

Anyway, this dress was super simple to whip up after I figured all the fitting shit out. Cutting was a beast; not only did I choose a large scale, unbalanced plaid as my fabric – I only had about 1 3/4 yards, which meant I had to be VERY careful with my layout. Happily, I was able to match up the side seams on the bodice… but check out that skirt seam. I was concentrating so hard on matching up the plaid lines, that I didn’t think to match up the GIANT BLOCKS OF COLOR. Which means the plaid doesn’t match at all on the skirt. Oops! Learn from my mistakes, people :)

Emery dress

Because I barely had any fabric, I had to cut some corners on other parts of the dress. I originally wanted to make the collar in the same plaid fabric – but I couldn’t get the pieces to mirror each other, and it looked really stupid on my dressform, so I used my lining fabric (originally cut to be the underside of the collar) on top instead. I think it actually really works this way – makes the dress a little less twee. My lining fabric is the same silky delicious purple cotton batiste that I used with my Victoria Blazer, and I used every single last bit of those scraps!

Emery dress

I also used the batiste for the pockets, because, again, fabric restraints :)

Emery dress

I think the biggest/most visible changes I made are the lack of sleeves and the shortened hemline. I cut a good 4″ off this hemline – it really helped with conserving fabric, plus, I just don’t like knee-length hemlines on me! – and then folded up a 2″ hem allowance. I didn’t make any bodice changes to account for the lack of sleeves, I just… didn’t add them! Ha! I waffled with the idea of using plaid bias to close the arm holes, but I ran of of plaid… so the arm holes are just slip-stitched closed. Nothing fancy here!

Emery dress

I’ll admit, when I finally stuck the zipper in this dress and stood in front of the mirror, I thought it looked really unflattering on me! Listen, I am not the type of person to pretend like I think I’m fat (I know I’m not, and I’m not going to fish for compliments either), but something about that gathered skirt + plaid really made me look wider than I am. Even Landon, who never ever sees unflattering things the same way I do, noticed it. I kind of assumed so since I don’t think gathered skirts are very flattering on my shape, but again – everyone else’s Emery’s were soooo cute and flattering! Ugh, Lauren!

I really think adding the belt helps – it separates the bodice from the gathered skirt, which visually makes me look smaller in the waist. Of course, now that I’m looking at these pictures, it looks totally fine! I think it’s one of those things that just looks better in pictures than it does in real life :)

Emery dress

That being said, I totally plan on living in this dress all summer. The plaid cotton is lightweight and comfortable, it’s super cute, and I just really love it! Although I’ll probably keep the belt; mostly because that vertical line isn’t matched perfectly (due to the gathers) and it’s making me feel twitchy ;)

Emery dress

Emery dress

(psst, aren’t my earrings so perfect for this dress? I just got them from ChatterBlossom, gahhh, she always has the best stuff!)

Emery dress

Emery dress

Emery dress

This pattern is labeled as an Intermediate, but know that the instructions are very very thorough and super hand-holdy, so I think a confident beginner could easily tackle this shit. Christine also has an extremely detailed Emery Sewalong on her blog with lots and lots of pictures, in case you get stuck. But seriously – you can do this!

Emery dress

If you’re lovin on Emery but haven’t made the jump to purchase, keep an eye on this space – I have a copy to give away later this week!

Also, check it out:

Yay spring!

SPRING IS HAPPENING RIGHT HERE IN MY YARD HOLY SHIT.

Completed: The Flora Dress

5 Mar

Here’s a lovely, floaty warm-weather dress, just in time for another massive cold front! Ha! :)

Flora dress

Haha! In all seriousness, let’s welcome the newest member of the By Hand London family – Miss Flora!

Flora dress

Flora is a lovely dress with two bodice options and pleated circle skirt with a straight or hi-lo hem (or, as I like to call it, mullet-hem). I’ve dubbed this a floaty warm-weather dress because that’s specifically what my version is made for, but I imagine this could make a pretty sweet cold-weather dress, too, sewn up in the right fabric (preferably with some kind of crazy awesome contrast lining in the skirt, so it peeks out behind your legs and ooooh!).

Flora dress

My version is the the dipped hem skirt with mock wrap bodice. Man, I love me a good wrap bodice, mock or not.

Flora dress

I did have to make a few changes to get a good fit on the pattern, but nothing that runs outside my ordinary alterations. Let’s get them all out in a pretty list. I started with the size 2/6:
- 3/8″ rounded back adjustment + 5/8″ darts at the upper back
- Lowered the shoulder seams 1″ – also lowered the vertical waist darts 1″ (I also should have lowered those horizontal bust darts too, looking at all the wrinkles on mah side boobs. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 blah blah)
- 3/8″ tuck out of the front neckline to keep it from gaping

The rounded back adjustment is a new thing for me – I’ve noticed on a lot of my old handmades, there is a weird gaping at the upper back, right under the nape of my neck. It looks STUPID AS SHIT. Apparently I have a ~rounded upper back~ or a Dowager’s Hump, which yes, sounds even worse. I am pretty certain this is in relation to a change in posture, which means I need to start doing yoga or something. Lord.

Flora dress

You know what, though? My upper back no longer has ANY gaping, at least not in this dress! Fuck yeah!

Flora dress

The rest of the dress came together without any additional alterations – even the skirt length is as-printed on the pattern. I know some people really hate this type of hem – that was me, for a long time, and still to some extent (on the really bad ones, YOU KNOW WHICH ONES I’M TALKING ABOUT), but I reeeeally love it on this dress. Combined with the circle skirt, it kind of makes me feel like a princess, without feeling like I look over-the-top. Does that make sense?

Flora dress

It should be noted that, since the back side of the fabric show behind your legs due to the hem line, you probably want to make sure that it doesn’t look totally hiddy. My fabric isn’t super gorgeous on the wrong side, but it’s passable. It looks fine.

Flora dress

Check out that hem sweep! Woohoo!!

Flora dress

I finished the skirt seams with a simple french seam – I think that just looks prettiest on exposed seams like the backside of a mullet skirt. The hem is just a tiny rolled hem, but wouldn’t it be pretty with a strip of lace so it show on the back? Yes, yes it would. Just be forwarned that this hem is looooong and goes on into forever, so if you handsew… you’ll be handsewing into forever, too.

Flora dress

Same with my Georgia dress, I stabilized the neck edges with twill tape to keep it from gaping. I really cannot recommend this step enough when it comes to necklines that have a tendency to droop and gape open – it pulls everything slightly in, and keeps it secure. I can move around all I want and there is no gaping! Yes!

Flora dress

At this point, I kind of feel like it’s my personal life mission to eliminate the gape.

Flora dress

This cotton voile fabric is equal parts weird and amazing, isn’t it? I picked it up from Mood Fabrics with this dress specifically in mind (I also grabbed this navy linen with View A in mind, but floaty won out. And now, the more I look at it, the more that linen might want to be a skirt. Thoughts?).

The Flora was designed to be made up in most any fabric (check out the other versions on the BHL blog if you don’t believe me… as a side note, MAN I am jealous of that cleavage! Dang! Haha!), so I chose to go on the lighter side – lightweight, floaty, almost see-through, you know the drill. What’s interesting about this fabric is that it has all the qualities on voile, with an extra kick of giant embroidered dots scattered everywhere. The dots are slightly thicker than the voile (not, super duper thick like you’d think when you think embroidery… more like the equivalent of a couple extra layers of the voile in thickness), but they don’t affect the drape of this fabric. Also, they’re cotton, so they didn’t do anything crazy when I hit them with my iron. Win!

Flora dress

One more shot of the upper back, bc I’m so proud of myself :) Just a note – in most of these pictures, I’m wearing a strapless bra with my dress. You can see my black bra strap in this picture; that’s cos this came from the set I snapped and sent to BHL after I tested the pattern (just… be thankful I retook them, that’s all I have to say about that!). Anyway, my point is, the straps of the dress are not bra-friendly without a little bit of tweaking. You’ll either need to make bra strap carriers to hold the straps in, or go strapless.

Flora dress

I underlined my bodice in a lightweight cotton batiste, so the inside feels soft and breatheable and delicious. Also, no slippery lining fabric, yay!

Flora dress

Flora dress

And, of course, there’s a hot pink zip in there because why not?

Flora dress

Can’t wait for it to warm up out here so I can wear this bad boy out and about. I’m SO dying to get out of the house and just spend a day lounging around the park on a blanket, eating snoballs. God. Summer, won’t ya hurry up already??

Completed: the Meissa Blouse

28 Feb

I think every sewist has a dream fabric that they’ve spent years searching for in vain. It’s not necessarily a weird combination of prints and colors on a totally inappropriate weave, but whatever the specific end result is, it’s nowhere to be found. I have two – a wide (like 3″ or more) white and navy striped twill, and a bicycle print that is NOT quilting cotton.

Meissa Blouse

I gave up on the stripes, but the bicycle print really haunts me. I’ve seen some cute little stylized bikies (see my Bicycley Belladone for an example), but I was holding out for that literal printed-bike-on-some-lightweight-cotton-in-a-nice-color-combination that didn’t seem to exist. And NO pennyfarthings! I want real bikes, not some super hipster twiddly mustache crap.

Meissa Blouse

I had this particular fabric in mind when I was contacted by Organic Cotton Plus with offers to try out some of their yardage. I’d just been back from snooping at Brooks Brothers, specifically zeroing in on this Bicycle print button-up. Isn’t that shit amazing? Argh! So I thought to myself, “Cool, well I’ll just get a stamp and make my own, yeah? Oh, they don’t have any batiste in good colors… but they do have dye…”

And this, my friends, is how I ended up with two yards of white cotton batiste, emerald green Procion dye and some weird little bag of soda ash. Have I gotten in over my head? Probably.

Meissa Blouse

My first couple of days were preparing the fabric – first, I dyed it in a bucket (for real; I stood at the kitchen sink with a my Kindle on Netflix and squished it around the water while wearing gloves, ha!). I wish I would have used a bit more dye in my mix; the end result color is pretty, but it is lighter than the emerald green I was anticipating. On the flip side, though, the dye took evenly all the way across the fabric, so yay!

After I finished the dye bath and let the fabric dry, I took to stamping the entire yardage with a rubber stamp and fabric paint (I blobbed my paint into a dried-up ink pad to make it easier to use). I thought this part was gonna take forever, but it wasn’t too bad! Since stamping tends to look pretty, well, stamped (i.e., it’s not exact and you won’t get a perfect image transfer every single time), I didn’t follow any straight lines and just kind of stamped around haphazardly. After I cut the pieces, I re-stamped a few that had big gaps. This particular ink is great because you don’t have to heat-set it to keep it from washing out (which is good bc I’d spent long enough prepping the fabric, so one less end task is good in my book!), and the ink itself absorbs into the fabric and is not stiff.

Meissa Blouse

Other than the dye reaction it had (which is I think my fault for not making a strong enough dye bath, oops. Live and learn!), I really enjoyed working with this fabric. The batiste is one of those good ones that feels like there’s silk or something smooth and luscious blended in the fabric, but it is truly 100% cotton (and organic, no less!). Because it is cotton, it presses well, which makes it perfect for shirtmaking. It’s also not super sheer like some batistes – even the virgin white would be fine for a shirt. Always a plus in my book!

Meissa Blouse

The pattern I used is the Meissa Blouse from my beloved Papercut Patterns. I love this pattern because it’s a casual button-up without being an Archer (which I obviously LOOOVE, but hey yo, a girl’s gotta branch out!), ha. The little feminine details – the rounded collar, the shoulder yokes with the little gathers, the double buttons – seemed like a good match for this fabric, and a nice nod to my original inspiration without being a blatant copy.

Meissa Blouse

The pattern instructions make this thing really, really easy. Katie has had lots of praise around the webs for how good they are, and it’s all try! Really basic, really straightforward, and beautiful results. I did change a few things just because I’ve hit my personal shirtmaking stride – I flat-felled every seam (the way the shirt is made, only the side and underarm seams are not enclosed, so it’s not like you have a flat fell a million seams to do this) and I pulled in the waist an additional 1/2″ or so. I also shortened the sleeves by about 1″.

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

Whatever I did to the sleeve seams now means that I cannot button the cuffs around my wrist – they are WAY too small! Whoops! Oh well, this is totally a summer shirt, and I’ll never wear those sleeves rolled down anyway. Ha!

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

To keep the shirt from being overwhelmingly green, I added some cotton braid to the inside of the button band (butted up right against the stitching line) and inside the sleeve cuffs.

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

The sleeve cuff treatment is something I saw on the Brook’s Brothers shirt (seriously… if you have a Brooks Brothers in your area, you should snoop it. Some of the finishing inside the clothes there was pretty awesome!). There was a little piece of petersham ribbon tucked in the seam at the top of the cuff, which shows when you flip up the cuffs. Using that inspiration, I tried to do the same thing with my shirt. It’s a liiiiiittle sloppy because I was experimenting, but I like how it turned out! It even makes me ok with the fact that I can’t use the cuffs :)

Meissa Blouse

I’m super happy with all the detailing on the shirt. I used lots of topstitching so it would really stand out.

Meissa Blouse

And hey, check it out – the shirt is long enough to where I can tie the bottom in a knot, like a fashion blogger or some shit.

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

~So fashun.

Meissa Blouse

I still have quite a bit of the dye & soda ash left over. I’m thinking I may buy a load of silk and sandwash the shit out of it. My friend Elizabeth uses soda ash to prewash her silks into this amazing textured wonderland, so I can’t wait to try that! I will definitely report back with results. First, I gotta find a washing machine, though ;)

Ok, ONE last thing – and I promise this is a good one! Remember The Great British Sewing Bee and how we (we as in Americans, ha) bitched about not having a US version of the show? Well, I was contacted by a Love Productions, who is in the process of producing and casting a pilot for – you guessed it – an American version, called The Sewing Bee! They are currently on the hunt for amateur sewists in the NY, CT & NJ area (although if they get picked up, they will expand to nationwide). I actually ended up talking to one of the producers on the phone and I’m really excited to hear about the plans they have in the works – such as, the show will differ slightly from the UK version in that there will be a different set of contestants and winners every week. One thing that is similar is how they plan on editing – as far as I know, it will be as drama-free as the UK version, which is what I like most about it!

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Click here for a bigger version of the flyer

If you’re in the area (or don’t mind traveling and camping out for a couple of weeks, I guess), you should definitely try out for the show! And then report back to me, because I want to see y’all on the teeeveeee!

Completed: Vogue 1610

26 Feb

Good morning, everyone! Sorry, I took the last few days off of blogging… to be honest, I’d spent the entire weekend in my sewing room futzing with ONE fitting adjustment for ONE pattern, and six muslins later (yeah, just typing that makes me die a little inside), I was done. Not done with the fitting adjustment – I wish! – but rather, done with sewing. I took some time away to do more important, non-sewy things (specifically: binge-watching infomericals from the comfort of my velvet couch and drinking bourbon with ginger beer… yum.), and I gotta say – I feel like a new woman now. Ready to go tackle that god-forsaken fitting adjustment and get back on the ~swagon~.

Speaking of swagon (which is like a sewing wagon, except way funnier), check out my new threads- baby’s first DVF!

Vogue 1610

OKKKKK, it’s not a ~real~ Diane von Furstenberg, obviously, but it *is* a Vogue Designer Pattern, which is close enough in my book. This is Vogue 1610, a classic DVF wrap dress with sleeve and length options. I found this dude at an estate sale a few years ago – in my size, and for $1, no less! – and this is the first chance I’ve had to make it up.

Vogue 1610

Sewing this wrap was an experience, albeit a fairly easy one. Although the pattern came in my size, a quick tissue fit (and by tissue fit, I mean I held it up to my chest and looked in the mirror, ha!) showed that the bodice front was big enough for complete coverage – which, when one is sewing a stretch knit, that is TOO big! You need the pieces to be a little smaller than you are, so they stretch into shape and give you that lovely silhouette that only negative ease can do. Further, this pattern was drafted for stable knits – i.e., pontes and double knits and all those goodies – and the fabric I had was an extremely fluid, extremely drapey rayon jersey. Fortunately, both the style of this dress + knit fabrics in general are pretty forgiving, so I sized down with some experimental hacking and I think it came out pretty good!

Vogue 1610

At the cutting stage, I took 1″ off the center back seam and the front side seam. I didn’t bother changing the pattern tissue itself (have you seen how much this pattern sells for on Etsy? Holy shit.), just folded over the edges to size and pinned them down. When cutting a piece on the fold, I just extended the pattern piece so it hung over the fabric edge by 1″. I also shortened the skirt by, um, a lot. I think 7″ the first time, and then another 2-3″ after I sewed it up (and immediately regretted that decision, because YIKES SHORT AIEEE). I don’t really recommend this type of size hacking unless you are very familiar with sewing and manipulating knits, because you can definitely end up with a surprise outcome, but it all worked out for me.

Vogue 1610

I chose not to follow the instructions that came with the pattern – I’m sure they were fine, but they were also written for stable knits and included things like facings and pockets. I hate pockets on knits, by the way! They always come out lumpy and can’t hold anything heavier than a cell phone. I also hate facings on knits because, whyyyy. Why would you put yourself through that kind of torture.

Vogue 1610

Construction-wise, I sewed everything up on my serger, except where I used my twin needle to topstitch the hems. The hems are stabilized with Stitch Witchery, which seemed like a brilliant idea at the time, but in retrospect, my hems are weird and stiff and lumpy. Not a good look! I also can’t trim any more length off that skirt for fear of indecent exposure. I’ve used Stitch Witchery in the past to stabilize hems, and I stand behind it, but for something as drapey as this rayon, it just didn’t work. Next time, I will probably just steam the heck out of it and sew very slowly to get my hems.

Vogue 1610

I applied my neck binding in the flat (starting at the center back and stretching down each side of the front individually), so I could get it as stretched as possible and cut off the excess. I think I ended up cutting a couple of inches off each end! The final result is a binding that stays in place and does NOT gape – which is important for this wrap style. I like my clothing to stay in place while I’m wearing it, thanks.

Vogue 1610
Vogue 1610

I was a little concerned that the gathered skirt would look stupid in a knit, but I actually think it’s quite lovely. I think the key here is to go with something lightweight and drapey – bulky fabrics will add, well, bulk!

Vogue 1610

Isn’t this fabric fun, though? It’s the Arc Deco rayon jersey from Mood Fabrics. I snapped up three yards of it while it was on 50% off sale (do y’all get those sale emails? Oh man. Those are dangerous.), specifically with this pattern in mind. It sewed up like a dream, wears like a dream, feels like a dream… just don’t use Stitch Witchery with it ;)

Vogue 1610

Next time I make this, I’ll shorten the bodice a bit – whoever owned this pattern before me had lengthened it about 1″… I left it because it definitely hits my waist, but I think it looks a little long and unbalanced in these pictures. I also promise not to get too scissor-happy with the skirt length on the next go ;) But yeah, I’ll definitely be making this again – I want one in silk jersey, like a proper DVF! Yum!

Vogue 1610

I guess that’s it! Some housekeeping before I dip outta here-

- Clare and I have already started planning the meet-up while we’re in NYC, and emails have been sent! I tried to get everyone who expressed interest, but inevitably I’m sure I missed someone. If you’d like in on the action for Saturday March 15th, holler at me and I’ll get that email out to you! I’m really excited about this trip, can you tell? :)

- Oh, right, giveaway winner! Let’s see, random number generator says…

Ok, for whatever reason, Flickr won’t give me the html code to show the number box (and I don’t have time to futz with it this morning because I need to leave for work in… 5 minutes haha), but you can click this link if you want to see the screenshot. Btw, fuck you, Flickr.

winnerstevie

Congratulations, Stevie Nicole! Watch for my email so we can get your Georgia out to you :)

Everyone who asked – I don’t care if you copy my Georgia! Remember, I copied that lace+emerald combo from someone else. Plus, who doesn’t need a gorgeous sexy lace dress in their life, yeah? :)

Completed: Coco!

21 Feb

YAY I’m so glad I finally get to share this secret with y’all – Coco!

Coco Top

For those of you living under a rock (a… really big rock, I’d assume), Coco is Tilly‘s newest pattern, just released last week! Tilly asked me a few months ago if I’d like to test the pattern, and as soon as I saw the word “knit” in the description, I immediately jumped at the chance. I can’t resist knits, I’m sorry!

Coco Top

Coco is a lovely, simple shape reminiscent of those gorgeous Brenton tops that everyone except me seems to own. Sewn up in a more stable knit (I love my slinky jerseys, but this pattern is not really the place for that… although I will probably experiment with that shit in the future anyway!), it’s very easy to assemble and very forgiving to fit, making it perfect for beginners to tackle. I made the short length with 3/4 sleeves and a funnel neck; there are three views included in the pattern (that you can mix and match for endless variations) – you can see them all in more detail on Tilly’s blog.

Coco Top

For my fabric, I used a heather grey ponte knit from Mood Fabrics. I sewed the entire thing on my serger, although you can absolutely sew this on a regular machine if need be – the pattern even includes some instructions and tips if that’s the case for you! I made no alterations to the pattern itself; just sewed it up in a straight size 1 and followed the instructions to assemble! I used a straight stitch to sew the side slits and the hem, which have held up quite well, despite all the washing and wearing I’ve given this top. This is also the first thing I made using my new gravity feed iron, and WOW you guys – that hem pressed like a dream!

Coco Top

I’ll admit; when I was sewing this up, I was a little afraid it looked a bit Star Trek-y for my tastes, with the solid color and the big funnel collar. I think the end result turned out really cute, though, and it’s sooo comfortable to wear with leggings. I’m wearing this one with my red ponte leggings; it’s like a ponte double-whammy up in hurr, yeah!

Coco Top

Also, check out that throwback hair! You can tell how old these pictures are, ha ;)

Coco Top

I think this would be REALLY cute up in a stripey fabric (which I looked for, but no dice. Whyyy is a good stripey knit so hard to find, anyway??). I’d love to try the variation with the boat neckline and keep the little side slits – maybe even go with the longer length. It’s a simple shape for sure, but it’s also open to LOTS of possibilities!

Coco Top

What do you think? Love Coco or LOVE Coco? Get your copy here!

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