Completed: A Black Wool Jersey Wrap Dress

14 Oct

Something that has been missing from my closet for a very very (very!) long time has been the class Little Black Dress. I know, it’s supposed to be a staple, and lord knows I’ve noticed the hole more than a couple of times over the past few years. Part of the reason why I’ve never bothered trying to rectify the situation is that black fabric is so BORING to sew. Send me to the fabric store with black intentions, and I’ll come home with acid-washed polka dots. Or something.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

That being said, I knew I needed to eventually make one of these bad boys – they’re so versatile and useful to have (and I guess they’d be convenient to have should I need to attend any funerals or KISS concerts, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can prolong both situations for a very very long time). My upcoming trip kind of sealed the deal for me – well, that and this fucking fabulous fabric. It’s like fate, y’all!

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

To keep things interesting (while still retaining the whole This-Needs-To-Be-A-Plain-Backdrop-Type-Dress), I decided to make my LBD a Little Black Wrap Dress. And who else to use as my inspiration than the Lady of the Wrap Herself – Diane Von Furstenburg! Yeah!!

Actually, this dress is kind of a bastardization of my beloved Vogue 1610/DVF. But, you know, sometimes we have to make sacrifices.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

I started with the bodice from the pattern – I’ve got the fit pretty much perfect as far as those things go. However, I knew I wanted to try a non-gathered skirt and I also needed long sleeves (which this pattern does not provide). Rather than buy myself a copy of Vogue 1548 (and probably sacrificing some goats or some shit as well because, holy mother of god, that price) (ugh, still want that pattern with every fiber in my soul, tho), I decided to take advantage of my favorite pattern – the Frankenpattern. Oh yes, I Frankensteined the shit out of this pattern.

Like I said, the bodice is indeed the original Vogue 1610. I sewed everything as normal (for me – I’ve made some construction modifications to get the neckband to fit better), except I left off the back tucks. For the sleeves, I used the long sleeves from my Lady Skater pattern. For the skirt, I used the Miette pattern and simply flipped it around so the wrap was in the front.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

And you know what? I think it turned out PRETTY FREAKING LEGIT, which is great considering I just started cutting without any muslins/testing/second thought. This could have been a Disaster Dress. Thank god it’s not.

If you want to Frankenpattern, you definitely need to check beforehand that the measurements for whatever you’re attaching match – so, your bodice will be the same size at the bottom as the top of the skirt (or the sleeve caps match, or whatever). For the sleeves, I just cut them and sewed them as whatever (although, looking back, I think I sewed them with a 5/8″ seam allowance instead of the included 3/8″, so they’re very fitted. Ah! It worked out here ok, but better pay attention to those seam allowances in the future). For the skirt, I did add an extension to the front pieces, so I’d have a facing to fold back (same as on the original gathered skirt). I took a little bit out of the center back seam – enough so that the back skirt measurement matched the back bodice where they connect – but other than that, I didn’t do any other modifications.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

So. This fabric. I picked this up at Mood Fabrics in NYC when I was there most recently (how many more times can I say that? Sorry, I’m just blasting through all the AWESOME SHIT I BOUGHT). It was up there on the 3rd floor, being my dream wool jersey and all. I can’t remember what designer claims this wool, but, you know… it’s ~designer (ooh la la). It’s also the softest wooly knit I’ve ever been privy enough to touch and omg it’s like a little black cloud of softness. I love it so much.

Pretty sure there was a hoard of women behind me all getting grabby hands as I was getting this cut, too. Raise your hands if you came home with the dream black wool knit! And then please share with the group what you’ll be making from it :)

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

Sewing this up was very easy, very fast. I used my serger for almost the entire thing, and then just slip stitched down the facings and hems by hand. What’s nice about this fabric is that it has a little bit of texture, so stitches don’t show on the outside :)

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

Here’s a horrible picture of the hem/facing. I just serged the edges and sewed them down by hand. Easy!

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

This is probably my favorite part of the dress – an official tag! Yesss!! Kelly sent me this as a little surprise – originally intended for my silk jersey DVF, but it’s been sitting on my pinboard this whole time because apparently I hate modifying things after I’ve finished them (even tags, I guess). I decided to save it for this dress because, well, why the hell not? It looks so good in my neckline, woohoo.

Also, while we’re talking about Kelly – can we talk about her DVF 1548 and oh my god that is stunning and now I’m jealous.

As a side note – that yellow tag is just a little piece of ribbon. I added it so Landon & I would have an easier time doing laundry – anything with the yellow tag can’t be washed in the machine (because, you know, wool). After destroying some wool garments by accidental washing (the saddest were my brown old man trousers, wah), I figured we probably needed a tagging system. I first thought about creating – or buying – care tags, until I realized that was dumb and ribbon is free. So there you go.

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics
Anyway, this dress will make a fine addition to my traveling capsule wardrobe. Solid black, easy to dress up or down, warm (!!!) wool, and check out that wrap! I’d like to see a gusty London wind try to turn me into a panty flasher! Ha ha ha!

DVF Black wool dress made with Mood Fabrics

And now, I have nothing more to say. So instead, tell me – what kind of jewelry would look good with this dress? I just realized I own, like, 3 necklaces and help me I need to adult.

 

*Disclosure: This fabric was provided to me for free, in exchange for contribution to the Mood Sewing Network (well… I think it was free. I got a LOT of stuff that day and dropped a WAD of cash! Ha!).

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V1419 Sewalong: Cutting and Prepping

13 Oct

Good morning, sewalongers! (sewalongees?) Today we are going to go over the final prep work before we start sewing (next week! Eep!). This is the last slow post of the sewalong, which gives you another week to perfect your muslin and choose your fabric. Of course, these posts will also be up indefinitely so don’t feel like you have to rush to keep up!

blog-sewalong-image-650x563

The very first thing you need to do – yes, before you do anything else with that lovely fabric – is pretreat your fabric. How you pretreat your fabric will depend on the fiber you chose, as well as how you plan on cleaning the coat in the future. For those of you who are sewing wool (like meee!), this means you need to get any shrinkage out of your fabric *before* you cut the pattern pieces – otherwise, once you start steaming that bad boy, you may end up shrinking pieces and that’s no good. There are lots of ways to pretreat wool – and none of them involve washing the fabric (please don’t do that!). You can either steam the piece yourself (this involves lots of steam and probably a lot of time), take it to the dry cleaner and have them pretreat it (this involves money)(and also dry cleaning), or you can shrink it up in the dryer (which is what I do). Here’s a blog post outlining the entire process, but basically – you just need to throw your wool in the dryer (finish the edges if necessary to prevent unraveling), add a couple of towels that are soaked in hot water (and then wrung out, so they’re not dripping) and blast the dryer on high heat for however long it takes before everything is dry. Easy! This is the method I use for all my wool fabrics. If you are at all hesitant, try it out on a swatch first :)

For other fabric types that are not wool – you may not need to pretreat (unless you plan on washing the coat in the washing machine? If then, defintely prewash that shit!). If using a cotton or silk, you may want to at least steam the crap out of it just to be sure there is no shrinkage. Polys should be fine and not shrink at all.

Once you’ve pretreated your fabric in whatever way need, then it’s time to cut! I’m not going to go over cutting here – I assume anyone brave enough to tackle sewing a coat is probably fine to cut fabric without guidance :) – but if you need a refresher, here is an old post I wrote about cutting and marking your pattern pieces. One thing I did notice while I was cutting my fabric – I was able to reconfigure the layout and use slightly less fabric. Don’t be afraid to change up the layout if your fabric is wide enough, just be sure that you are keeping all the pattern pieces on the proper grain.

If you are including an underlining for your coat, you will need to cut out pieces 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 & 9 from your underlining fabric.

For the contrast – specifically, all those bias pieces – I found it easier to draw the pattern pieces directly on the fabric, rather than try to pin a bunch of stuff and then try to cut a straight line and nope.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

The long, straight pieces – I just measured them and use a ruler and marking pencil to draw them on my taffeta. For the big bias contrast pieces (those giant parallelograms), I pinned down the pattern piece, traced around the edges with my marking pencil, and then used a ruler to draw in the lines 2″ apart (as they are on the pattern piece). I did all this on the flat fabric before I cut anything out, and I think it made things a lot easier!

Once you’ve cut out all your pattern pieces, you will need to apply the underlining (assuming you are underlining – if not, skip ahead and start marking your pieces). Underlining is very easy. It is also very time-consuming – so I recommend watching some crappy TV or something equally entertaining while you do it :) For this sewalong, I won’t be going over underlining, but here is a tutorial if you need one. Some things to keep in mind:
– Sometimes you can get away with basting the pieces together by machine. This coat is not the time to try that method. Because the pieces are very large, you run the risk of shifting your fabric – which will give you bubbles or hang weird if you’re not careful. Try to keep things as flat as possible. Meaning: sit at a table, underline by hand. Watch a movie. Drink some wine. Whatever makes you happy!
– I use silk thread to underline, because it removes very easily. I also happen to have several spools on hand in strange colors, so that’s a big part of the reason. I realize silk thread is a bit expensive, so don’t feel like you have to break your budget on some thread that’s about to get pulled out as soon as you sew a seam. Use whatever you got! I would recommend using a threat in a contrasting color, just so it’s easier to see/remove.
– Feel free to use giant stitches. You’re just basting the pieces together to keep them from shifting when you sew them. Big stitches are ok – and they’re easier to remove!
– Sew well within your seam allowances, especially if your fabric shows pin holes (mine does!).
– I like to underline first, *then* mark the pattern pieces on the wrong side. You can also mark, then underline. Up to you – I just think the former is easier! Don’t freak out if you accidentally snip your basting when you cut notches – it’s ok!

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
See? I did it too. No big deal!

Once you’ve finished underlining (or have skipped ahead), you will need to mark your pieces. It is very important to get every stitch line (for the welts and the button holes), dot and notch – it’ll make things muuuuch easier to match up when we start sewing. You may want to use wax tracing paper and a rotary wheel for the lines, and a marking pen (or tailor’s tacks) for the dots. Just snip the notches. We won’t judge you.

Ok, bias binding! This is the same method outlined on the Coletterie, btw – except you are starting with a parallelogram piece, and not creating one from a square (if that makes sense).

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
You should have 3 parallelograms with 2″ diagonal lines drawn on the wrong side of the fabric. Matching the notches and markings, pin the two angled edges together, right sides together, to form a strange off-center tube. The edges will not match at the ends.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Sew the seam you just pinned. I used 1/4″ because – well, that’s what I always use. I think this pattern was drafted for 5/8″ – even at the bias binding – and if you sew with that amount, you will need to trim it down to 1/4″ after sewing.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Press the seam open.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Starting at once end, begin cutting along the line you drew. You should end up with a looooong string of continuous bias. Do this for all 3 parallelograms.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Once you’ve finished cutting all your bias strips, fold them in half with the wrong sides together and press.
(I promise that big yellow spot on my ironing board cover is not pee. That’s actually what happens when you put your iron on top of a piece of tailor’s wax. Whoops.)

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
You should end up with a big pile of bias strips. Mine kind of look like intestines. Cool.

Finally, you will want to staystitch and reinforce your coat pieces as directed in the instructions (steps 1-3 & step 35). For both – use a slightly shorter stitch length (I use 2.0 vs my standard 2.5) and be sure to backstitch at both ends. For staystitching, sew 1/2″ away from the edge. For reinforcing, sew along the stitching line at 5/8″.

Here are the pieces you will be prepping. Lines marked in blue are reinforcement stitching, lines marked in yellow are staystitching.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

ONCE LAST THING: Once you’ve reinforced all those tricky edges, you need to clip the seam allowances all the way to the dot.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Clip to the stitching line, but do not clip the stitching line. This will make it easier to sew those tricky sleeve seams.

And that’s it! Whew! Sorry for the post overload today. Oh, I almost forgot – here’s my fabric!

wool coating
These are the swatch cards I got from Mood. The wool coating I chose is piece piled on the very top (4th one down). It’s a nice, thick virgin wool coating.

taffeta underlining and contrast
I am using 2 different silk taffetas – the brighter red will be the underlining, and the darker red is the binding and contrast.

How are we doing this week, seawlongers? Any questions about the cutting or prep?

Fall/Winter Sewing Plans for 2014

10 Oct

It just occurred to me that I haven’t share any seasonal sewing plans in… well, a while. Which is lame, because these are some of my favorite types of posts (both to write *and* to read) – I mean, who doesn’t like lurking inside someone’s brain, even if it’s just to see what they plan on doing over the next couple of months? Too creepy? Naw.

Anyway, now that London/Paris is looming on the horizon (less than 2 months! Omg less than a month and a half! Eee!), it’s really time that I start figuring out what I’ll be bringing with me (and making, for that matter! Don’t want to end up with another frantic last-minute sewing disaster, ugh). Especially since my luggage space will be very limited – I’m only allowed to bring one suitcase with me overseas (well… I use the word “allowed” loosely here. I can bring two suitcases if I want to – but I get to pay $130 for the second one! LOL GURL NO.), and I want to fabric shop while I’m there! So, I will be packing a capsule wardrobe, one that mixes and matches with itself, for maximum outfit options, as well as warmth. This is much different than how I usually travel (as I fly Southwest, where you can bring 2 bags free – so why the hell not, you know?), but I’m up for the challenge! :) Adulting and all that :)

I’ve already made/chosen a couple of pieces to base my capsule around, as well as chosen my theme (like Devon, I think all vacation wardrobes should have themes, because, duh) – Minimalist Parisian Chic. Mostly because my capsule will be very minimal – or, as minimal as I can get it down to, because I am still one of those people who delights in overpacking – with lots of black. Not much on the Parisian Chic side (I’m sure Parisian women will be horrified when they see what I wear to stomp around their city, ha!), but it has a nice ring to it :)

Anyway – to start – I have these black Jamie jeans that I made a couple of weeks ago:
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be bringing the star sweater. It’s a little bulky! On the flip side, regarding the jeans – I just finished wearing them for the 5th time in a row (sans wash), and they’ve stayed very close to their original shape. No bagging out, woohoo! So that makes me feel good, because I’ll be wearing these a LOT come London.

Stripey Renfrew
I will also be bringing my Imogene + Willie slim jeans (pictured here), because they are basically the best jeans ever. Oh, and probably that stripey Renfrew top. Can’t have enough tshirts!

Now for the sewing plans! Sidenote: By the time of publishing this post, I’ve already finished more than half these makes. Whoops! Guess y’all see where my priorities lie when it comes to posting vs sewing hahaha. Oh well!

Ikat Lady Skater
The Cowl-Necked Skater Dress
I’ve had this idea in my head for a while now – a Lady Skater dress // Renfrew top mash-up! This cotton Ikat knit fabric (purchased at The Fabric Studio here in Nashville) will be the perfect match for this dress – like a giant, snuggly Christmas sweater! I actually don’t know if I’ll be bringing this one to London, due to bulk factor (my capsule really only allows for one dress, which I’m thinking will be the one below – but we’ll see!), but the plans were too good to keep to myself :)

DVF Wool wrap
The Wool Wrap dress
Another big mash-up – I’m starting with the DVF Wrap dress pattern, but adding long sleeves (stolen from the Lady Skater, naturally) and swapping out the gathered skirt for a wrap A-line (Miette Wrap skirt – I’m looking at you). The black wool knit fabric was picked up at Mood in NY a couple of months ago – it’s SO soft! Like, cashmere soft. I’m so in love ♥

Silk v neck
The Silk Button-down
I already have a nice white button-down – made from the same pattern, Butterick 5526 (my favorite!) – but it’s not really cold weather appropriate, due to the length of the sleeves. Since they are 3/4, they don’t really layer nicely with my long sleeve sweaters! I’d love to make another one, but up the ante with some beautiful silk double georgette, and modify the neckline to be more of a v shape (likely using this V-Neck variation tutorial by Jen!)

Chambray Button down
The Polka Dot Chambray Button-down
Another thing I already have one of, but need a winter version. This one will be made using a gorgeous cotton polka dot chambray, picked up here locally at Textile Fabrics.

SJ Sweater
The Wool Sweater
Button downs need a nice sweater, yeah? I want to try sewing a sweater, using the SJ Tee as a basis (with a higher neckline, and omitting all bindings). The fabric I have is a lovely camel-colored boiled wool, that I bought from Elizabeth Suzann (aka I totally jacked her wholesale order hahaha). I think it’ll look equally good over both those button down shirts I have planned!

rigel bomber
The Bomber Jacket
I know – I’m already planning a pretty sweet coat. However, the weather in London (and Tennessee, for that matter!) can be fickle, so I’d like to bring a lighter-weight jacket for days when the temperature isn’t as low. I’ve been meaning to make the Rigel Bomber for, well, months now. Just been waiting on the perfect fabric – and I think I found it! Check out this black wool coating – to be paired with gold china silk for the lining.

Other plans I have (no photos, sorry! Use that imagination of yours, ha!)
– Need some thin long sleeve shirts for layering – maybe just a couple out of wool knit, such as this textured black wool jersey (that’s apparently already sold out?! Wah!). I wear these pretty much daily in the winter – and sometimes I like to sleep in them if it’s really cold – so it’ll be nice to have a few to choose from.
– Speaking of sleeping – I need some new pajama pants! Currently lurking Margot pj pants in Tilly’s book, Love at First Stitch, since they seem to be a pretty quick/easy make (I really want to make the Tofino pants, but right now I need quick and easy!). I picked up some really fun orange plaid flannel to make them with – I know, that fabric is ridiculous, which is exactly why I chose it. It’s nothing like I already own! When it comes to pjs, why not, you know?
– I would like to make a flared A-line wool skirt to make as well – thinking about using the Delphine pattern (also from Love at First Stitch), because I love the shape. A little stuck on fabric selection, though! My go-to is usually wool crepe, but that will be too drapey for this shape. Thoughts? I need it to be 100% wool (pretty nitpicky about this, sorry!) and I’m looking for lipstick red. Budget is no more than $25 a yard (and obviously I’d be delighted if it was less than that!)
– Bras! I want to finish at least one bra before I leave – using the Marlborough pattern and one of my kits from Bra Maker’s Supply. Obviously I want new bras, but even more – Norma will be in Paris while I’m there, and you better believe I’m going to drag her into a bathroom and make her assess and critique my fit. Haha! Man, sewing people are weird :P

I think that’s it for now! It feels good to get everything listed out in one place. I’m hoping I can get all this done before I leave – but if not, no worries. It’s not like I’m lacking clothing or anything as it is!

As a side note, I was just notified that one of my lovely sponsors, Indie Sew, is holding a pretty sweet contest where you can win a YEAR of free patterns! Fuck yes! You can read all about the contest and the reasoning behind it on this blog post, but the general gist is that Indie Sew wants to help you transform your entire wardrobe into handmade and end the cycle of cheap/fast fashion. And what better way to jump start a new handmade wardrobe than with some FREE FREAKING PATTERNS AMIRITE? Such a cool idea, and I really really hope the winner shares their journey via blog or social media so we can follow along! Anyway, soapbox rant over – go throw your name in the hat!

What’s on the table for your fall/winter sewing plans? Do you have any capsule wardrobe suggestions for me? Tips for packing light? Are you going to judge me if you see me wearing the same thing for 3 days in a row while I’m on my trip? :)

Completed: Two Colette Mabels

8 Oct

I totally skipped all the hullabaloo that came out when the Colette Patterns Mabel skirt was released – but that’s ok! I’m here now, reporting for duty!

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

I actually made two – just to be safe!

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

Let’s start with a basic Mabel lowdown. I made the grey version first, out of some leftover ponte knit that I used to make a pair of Ooh La Leggings (not pictured – because neither photographed nor blogged, but they are basically the same thing as these black ponte leggings except, you know, grey). I actually have no idea why I bothered saving that little piece of fabric, because it was about half a yard and thus not enough to do anything with – and the ponte is pretty thick, which means it wouldn’t work for something like, say, colorblocking a tshirt (which can be a good use of leftover knit scraps, if you tend to get hoardy like I do). Anyway, it’s a good thing I did, because I had exactly enough to make a little Mabel mini! Yay! I love it when these things work out!

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

Mabel Mini 1 is view A, size XS. I sewed the pattern exactly as per the directions, except I opted to understitch the waistband lining (I used my machine’s lightning bolt stitch – kind of like a very short zig zag stitch), to keep it from sticking out. The seams of the skirt were sewn on my serger, and the hem is done with a twin needle. From cutting, to sewing, to hemming – this entire thing took… I dunno, maybe 30 minutes? It was VERY fast.

I didn’t really use the instructions – I mean, it’s a knit skirt, it doesn’t need much introduction – but they looked to be pretty good, based on my glance over. Like the Moneta pattern, they include lots of tips and info on how to sew knits with a regular machine, which is always nice. The only thing I did not like about this pattern was taping it together (I have the PDF). Holy shit, talk about too many pages! My disdain for PDFs is no secret (I get why other people like/need them… no defense necessary :) But for me? Nope, no way! Can’t do it!), so maybe I’m biased – but this one seemed to be unnecessarily large & unwieldy. My advice: get the paper pattern. Ha!

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

Anyway, speedy instaskirt is the reason why I obviously needed to jump right into Mabel Mini 2 immediately after :P

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

I made a couple very minor changes for this one – I took in the center back and side seams by about 3/8″ (in retrospect, I should have taken in more, because it’s still a little loose around the waist and thus rides down farther than I want the rise to sit), as well as the waistband by the same amount. I used the last of my black striped ponte from Mood Fabrics NYC store. Again – 30 minute skirt. Talk about fast fashion, amirite.

Colette Mabel
Colette Mabel
Colette Mabel

For both skirts, I used a lightweight black rayon jersey (the same jersey that my black tshirt is made out of, incidentally. That tshirt is a Renfrew, by the way!) to line the waistband. I considered using a self-lining – but decided the fabric was a smidge too bulky, so I went with a lighter weight lining, which ended up being a Good Decision.

Oh yeah! I made that plaid flannel button down too! SUP!

Grainline Archer

This was made using the Archer pattern. I actually finished it waaaay back in… March. Yep. I got it in my head that I needed to make a new plaid Archer to wear when I went to NY, so I nearly killed myself trying to finish the shirt in something crazy like 2 days. I did end up finishing it – and bringing it to NY to wear – and I learned two things about the experience:
1. My life did not suddenly become more fabulous because I had a new shirt to wear while on vacation; and
2. Pushing myself to the point of exhaustion to finish something for a self-imposed deadline is not fun at all. Seriously – it’s shitty, it makes me anxious for no reason, and I didn’t enjoy any part of sewing that shirt. Which is sad, because button downs are one of my favorite things to sew! I love how precise the stitching is, and all the little details that make it special. I unfortunately didn’t get to enjoy any of that because I was too rushed trying to hurry up and finish (when, realistically, I should have either started earlier, or accepted that I just wouldn’t finish before I left), and yeah, that’s just lame.

So, with that being said – no more unnecessary last-minute vacation sews with shitty deadlines! If I need clothing that quickly, I will buy it (lol jk I’LL NEVER BUY CLOTHES AGAIN)(ok, seriously, kidding with that last part… mostly.). So far, I’ve done a decent enough job of putting this into practice, so that’s good!

Grainline Archer

And, for what it’s worth – I do like the shirt. I could have done a better job with it – the topstitching is not my best, and the grain is all wonky because the plaid fabric was hideously off grain (like, to the point where I actually cut the entire shirt twice. Yes. I did that. And it’s still pretty bad) – but it is what it is. It’s snuggly, it’s warm, and I also just realized that I made it to match the leggings that I made with the rest of that grey ponte fabric hahaha omg my life is fabulous.

Grainline Archer

Anyway, I hope you liked my Archer story. Have some pearl snaps.

Grainline Archer

And a sleeve placket while we’re at it!

Ok, so here’s my dilemma – and I’m hoping y’all can help me. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO WEAR WITH THESE SKIRTS. I feel like everything I put on just gives me weird proportions! The tops I’m wearing here are ok, I guess, but that’s about the extent of what my closet can offer. Most of my other tops just look… weird? I think the biggest problem is the waist line- it kind of hits at a strange place:

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

See what I mean? It’s about right at my belly button – which isn’t quite high waisted, and not quite low waisted. I can’t tuck anything in – partially because it’s very lumpy under the ponte, and partially because the waistline hits at a sort of wide point on my body. Untucked, most stuff just looks sloppy or gives me that weird long-abdomen proportion that we just loved soo much in the early 00s (y’all know what I’m talking about!). So yeah, can’t figure that one out. Any suggestions? Should I stick with more fitted, cropped sweaters (such as what the model is wearing on the website)? HELP ME I CAN’T ADULT.

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

Anyway, let’s talk! Answer one or more of the following:
– What shirts should I be wearing with these skirts?
– Have you ever made yourself sick by rushing to complete a garment before going somewhere?
– What happened when you finished it? Did a unicorn grant you 3 wishes or did you just realize that life was still doing life things and dammit is it Monday already?
– Seriously, though, what should I wear with these skirts?

** Necessary disclaimer: I received the Colette Mabel skirt from Sarai of Colette patterns, gratis. No review was requested – but as always, all opinions are my own. All fabrics in this post were purchased by me :) I do get a monthly Mood allowance, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t also spend plenty of my own money there! Just wanted to clear that up :)

V1419 Sewalong: My Muslin

6 Oct

Good morning, V1419 Sewalongers – and Happy Muslin Day! Yes, today is all about the muslin – a very important part of coat construction (some of y’all make refer to it as a toile, same difference!). After all, you don’t want to spend all this time and money making a coat that doesn’t fit once it’s finished… do you? (if the answer to that is no, then, um… do you want to share some of your spare time and money with?? haha!)

Meg is handling All Things Muslin over at The McCall Pattern Company blog, so check out her post for advice and tips. Me, I’m just here to be your personal cheerleader this week – as well as share my muslin! Wanna see?

V1419 Muslin

V1419 Muslin

V1419 Muslin

V1419 Muslin

V1419 Muslin

V1419 Muslin

Some notes & thoughts:
– I started with the size 8, which seems to fit pretty well right out of the envelope! The small bit of pulling you see under the bust is not noticeable in real life (and, god, these pictures are awful. I took them three times and these are the best you’re gonna get. Something about shooting a *white* muslin is just… ugh. And yes, I even tried against a not-white background. No dice, looked worse. Deal with this.), and some of the wrinkles were actually pressed into the muslin. I think that, overall, this looks good, and I will be making no further adjustments other than shortening the length and the sleeves. Thoughts?
– Notice when I said I made a size 8? That’s at least 1-2 sizes bigger than what I usually cut in Vogue patterns – this lady runs a little snug! For what it’s worth, my body measurements correspond very closely to the size measurements for the 8 (I’m about 1/2″ bigger all around). If you’re hung up on sizing, I suggest start with the size that works for your measurements and make a mock to see what direction to take the fitting. I know this goes against everything I’ve ever told y’all about using the finished measurements to start, but maybe Vogue has been hearing our cries about the extra ease? :)
– I used a medium weight muslin to make this mock-up, and it’s a bit more drapey than the fabric that I chose. This is fine, as I’ve tried on the original and I like the way the dramatic shape looks on me – but if you’re still debating whether or not to use a drapey fabric, try making the muslin with a fabric that has a similar hand to get a feel for how you like it.
– When trying on your muslin, make sure you are wearing the same types of clothing you plan on wearing with the finished coat – for me, that’s a long sleeve tshirt and jeans. If you try this on with a lightweight tank top, for example, the fit will be totally different (and, um, might not work with a big sweater!). Speaking of big sweaters – this style of coat is NOT the thing to wear with your giant chunky knit warmest wool pullover. It’s supposed to be very sleek and fitted – the type of fabulous coat that you would wear over a cocktail dress. If you have your heart set on making this an every day winter coat to wear over multiple layers, you may want to consider sizing up to accommodate the extra bulk.
– Need to make some adjustments? Not a big deal! While this pattern does not have traditional style lines, it *does* mark the bust apex and waistline, so that will give you a general idea where to add your adjustments. Due to the time restraints we have for this sewalong, we will not be covering flat pattern adjustments. A few people have asked whether or not this particular pattern can handle a FBA (full bust adjustment) – and the answer is yes! You’ll need to first remove the lower skirt portion of the coat, as well as the sleeves, make your FBA (I like to use the method explained in Fit for Real People)… then rotate out the dart you create to retain the original lines of the pattern, and reattach the sleeves and skirt (smoothing and blending your lines as needed). Don’t know how to rotate out a dart? Here are some links that you may find useful: The Mahogany Stylist, Vicki Kate Makes, The Sewaholic Blog (with extra links!). Alternately, there are zillions of tutorials online of how to do a FBA/rotate a dart – just Google and pick your favorite!
– For length adjustments – you can actually just hack it right off the bottom of the sleeve/length. Which is exactly what I plan on doing, fyi.
– If you’re one size in your bust and another at the waist, you can grade the sizes together to get a better fit. There’s a brief write-up on how to do this here on my blog, but essientally you’re just drawing a line to connect size x to size y to seamlessly blend between the two.

Finally – we have an Offical V1419 Coat Sewalong Flickr Group! Whoop whoop! The group is open, so please feel free to join and upload your photos to share with everyone – fabric selections, muslins, anything V1419 coat related! Additionally, there are forums if you need to ask questions or advice on fitting or selecting fabric. Meg & I will be manning the group and forums as needed, but please feel free to jump in and help if you see a question that you know the answer to! :)

Oh, and don’t forget the Mood Fabrics discount code, if you haven’t already purchased your fabric. “lladybird1013″ is good through 10/13/14 for 10% off your order (not including PV codes or dress forms). If you missed the V1419 fabric selection post, you can see it here.

Don’t forget to read up on Meg’s muslin post over at the McCall blog! How is everyone’s muslins coming along?

Organizing My Pattern Stash

3 Oct

I freaking love sewing patterns, y’all. Love them. I snap them up at an alarming rate – indies, big 4, vintage, whatever I can get my hands on. I love to collect them for the artwork, the instructions, even the odd pocket or facing piece that I might need later (ok, that’s a little hoardy, but whatever). The vintage ones will fall in my lap en mass – either someone gifting me a huge box of whatever belonged to their grandma and/or they found in their attic, or I’ll find them for the flea market for less than a dollar a pop (at this point, I’m kind of convinced that I can sniff them out).

So, yeah. I have a lot of patterns. Over 300, to be exact – ranging from printed to PDF, and, lord. There’s just a lot of them.

Sewing Room

Previously, I stored them in open boxes that I sat on a shelf – that way I could easily see them and sort through them (I’m the kind of person who needs to see something to remember that I have it). This was fine when I had 20, 30… even 100 patterns. Nowdays, not so much. Despite my patterns taking up most of an ENTIRE CABINET (the photo above is from about 2 years ago, so – while I had plenty of patterns then, I have about 3x as many now, and they take up way more shelf space), there wasn’t enough room. They were crammed into boxes, which made sorting through them difficult (if not destructive, especially with the delicate vintage ones), which meant I never sorted through them at all. Which, in turn, meant my ~open shelving concept~ was BULLSHIT, because why bother if you don’t actually use it?

It was time to find a new organization system.

No doubt most of y’all have read Sarai’s post on pattern organization over at the Coletterie. If not – you should! It’s where I got this entire post idea from, ha :). Anyway, I was inspired by the post and decided to get my pattern stash under control, once and for all. Drumroll, please…

Pattern Organization

Yeah! How do you like THEM apples?!

Pattern Organization

Here’s another sexy shot, because – sexy.

Anyway, here’s what I did -

I started out by sourcing the supplies – I bought plastic bags, cardboard backing boards, plastic dividers, and cardboard boxes with lids. All of these things are made for comic book storage, but lucky for us – sewing patterns are pretty much the same size. I know Sarai had luck with getting her supplies at Bags Unlimited; I can’t personally vouch for that site as I bought all my stuff here locally, at The Great Escape, which is conveniently located right by my house. (upon linking this, I just noticed that they have an eBay store! They’re also cheaper than Bags Unlimited, because they rule). I started out with buying enough stuff to house 100 sewing patterns… then went back again. And again. This is how I know a rough estimate of how many patterns I have, ha!

Pattern Organization

Anyway, the patterns are stored in a little plastic comic book bag, with the backing board added for stability. I really love this because you can cram and push and shove the patterns around as much as you want – and even the delicate ones won’t rip, because they are protected by the bag.

Pattern Organization

You can also shove pattern pieces in the bag itself, instead of back in the envelope, if rips are a concern.

All this talk of shoving makes me sound like I’m super violent with my patterns, hahaha. Promise I’m not *that* bad!

Pattern Organization

Once I got the patterns in their baggies, I could start organizing them in the boxes. I used the plastic divider boards to separate them by type, in a way that made the most sense to me.

Pattern Organization

Even if you cram them in the box super tight, it’s still relatively easy to find the pattern you’re looking for – especially with the tab dividers.

Pattern Organization

I also labeled the boxes so I would know the contents at a glance. I used scrapbooking paper and just taped the labels on – that way, if I need to switch things around, I can just peel it off the box and make a new label.

Some things to note:
– I agonized for WAY too long about what size bags to buy. I don’t know anything about comics, so I had no idea that they came in different sizes! I ended up buying the bags for regular size comics, as well as the regular size backing boards.
– The boxes, at least at my store, come in 2 sizes. I bought the smaller size – they were $5 a pop, lid included, and they are short enough to fit in my cabinet. I would estimate that each one holds around 50 patterns, give or take.
– I also played around with resealable vs non resealable bags. My personal verdict: get the resealable. You’ll end up taping the other ones shut. Just pay the extra dollar and get on with your life.

Ok, so that’s part one of the pattern organization! Next, I had to deal with patterns that didn’t fit in the boxes – PDFs, the big Vogue patterns, and my collection of Papercut Patterns.

Pattern Organization

For the Papercut Patterns, I decided to take them down from the wall (the sheer amount of them was taking over the wall and starting to look extremely sloppy!) and stack them on the one stupid shelf that I couldn’t adjust. The patterns don’t have their names printed on the sides, so I wrote it on the bottom of each one so I could sort through them in a glance.

Inside the basket is my tape gun thingy that I use to tape PDF patterns, as well as some cardstock pattern pieces (like shirt pockets) and extra bags.

Pattern Organization

The bottom shelf holds all my PDF patterns, big Vogue designer patterns, and a couple boxes of random fabric scraps.

Pattern Organization

The manhandling of those PDF patterns into submission is my FAVORITE part of this makeover! Before, I stored each one in a large manilla envelope (I scored boxes of them from my old job when we switched to digital filing for our job jackets). That was, to put it mildly, a clusterfuck. It was hard to sort through the patterns, they didn’t all fit on the shelf, they looked like a hot mess, they were always falling out of the shelf, AND THEN I ran out of envelopes (and ew, wow, those things are expensive!). While I was debating what to do about this, I came across Andrea’s Craftsy post on organizing PDF patterns. Solution #1 – that was my answer!

Pattern Organization

As with the printed patterns, I agonized for forever over what supplies to buy for storage. I know Andrea gives specific products, but they were a bit out of my budget. Plus, I have like 40 PDF patterns – so I needed to keep the budget way down. I ended up getting these clear plastic sheet protectors and these 3″ 3 ring binders, both from Amazon. As with the printed patterns, I organized them according to what made sense to me, and labeled the outside of the binders. Since my plastic sleeves are not resealable, I just paper clip them closed. Haven’t had a disaster yet (fingers crossed, tho).

For the Vogue patterns, I found that they fit perfectly in magazine-sized plastic sleeves (and they also make backing boards this size!), so that’s what I used. I didn’t even buy a whole box – my shop sells them for pennies individually, so I just took what I needed. They are stored in one of my old pattern storage boxes – which actually looks kind of nice when it’s not so full :)

Pattern Organization

Finally, I keep a running “list” of the patterns I want to sew on top of my sewing cabinet – they’re just pulled from the boxes and stored in their cd case holder (omg I love repurposing things hahaha). This way I can still see things to be reminded of them, but not overloaded with seeing OMG EVERY PATTERN I OWN.
(also, this picture is old. I’m not sewing that McCall pattern. Actually, I scrapped it because the very smallest size was like 4″ too big for my sad little rack. And yet everyone keeps making beautiful versions of this pattern and I’m super jealous, so stop already).

Next, I’d like to digitally organize my patterns. The second half of Sarai’s post talks about creating a digital database using Tap Forms, an app that costs like $9. I’m embarrassed to admit that I bought the app (mostly because I was so sure that actually paying for it would ensure that I actually USE it) and then uploaded like 10 patterns (so much for that theory). It’s kind of a huge time-suck! Argh! But I can’t think of a better solution, so I really just need to suck it up and deal with it.

deal with it

I don’t want to say this entire process was difficult – but it was very very time-consuming. It was also a bit more expensive than I had originally budgeted for – I think, all in all, I spent around $100 for all the supplies. It was spread out over a few paychecks, so the cost didn’t hurt *that* much – but still, that’s a chunk of change for organizing a mess! Anyway, it was worth it. It’s so much easier to find what I’m looking for (without destroying it in the process), and the clean white boxes and red binders make my entire sewing room look SO much better than the original messy piles. Woohoo!

Anyway, that’s my organization story! What about you? How do you organize your patterns? Or are you one of those cool minimalist people who has, like, seven? (ps, please teach me your ways).

Starting My Bra-Making Adventure!

2 Oct

I’ve reached what I feel like might be the most hardcore-DIY’er point to date in my me-made journey. I’ve slowed down the impractical makes and gone fullstop into the daily practical wear – tshirts, jeans, coats, pajamas, even workout clothes. The next logical stop on this me-made-merry-go-round?

Undergarments.

Yikes.

I never thought I would be that person who makes their own undergarments. On the surface, it seems unnecessarily fussy – like, why buy undies (or whatever your country calls them) if you can pick up a pair for less than $5? Sure, bras are expensive – but falling down the bra rabbit hole can be even more expensive when you look at the up front cost of sourcing all the materials and patterns, and then dealing with mock-ups (which, unlike other handmades – must be made from the same fabric as whatever you intend on using for the finished product. No cheapo bedsheet muslins here!). For those of us who treat sewing as more of a relaxing hobby and less of a “EVERYTHING I WEAR HAS TO BE MADE BY MY OWN HANDS, ARGH!”, it seems wasteful to spend time sewing something that no one sees.

However, I don’t fall in that category. I’m that weirdo who loves to wear all handmade (and y’all, I am NOT judging you if you don’t fall in this camp! I just tend to go balls to the wall with everything I do), and now I want it to include my undies. Yes! It’s also been driving me crazy as of late that I spend $70-$90 on a single bra that still doesn’t quite fit correctly (the underwires and bands fit, but the cup is not the right cut for the shape of my breasts, to get a little TMI on y’all)(and please don’t tell me to shop online, I fucking hate buying underwear online and dealing with returns. I won’t do it). Might as well make my own, right?

So this will be my bra-making adventure. Hope you like to read about undies! Also, if you were hoping to see some modeled bra shots… don’t hold your breath. That shit’s not happening, at least not in this post. Sorry!

bambi pattern

Making bras is pretty weird! As I mentioned before, it’s quite different from making, say, a dress. You have to mock-up the bra pattern, and it has to be done with the same fabric you’ll be making the real deal from. You can get a general idea of fit just by sewing the pieces together without the trims, but you won’t *really* know how that thing fits until you’ve actually completed it – straps and all. If the bra needs a lot of tweaking – too bad. You gotta make another one (hope you bought enough fabric!). This alone has been the biggest drawback to bra making, at least for me. The other big drawback is sourcing all those dang bits and pieces you need to make *one* bra – the fabrics, the lining, all the elastics and channeling and boning and trims, and ugh! Too much! Can’t deal!

Like I said, the thought of putting all that work into something that I may not even be able to wear was very off-putting. However, I have made a couple bikini tops at this point (see one and two), and I didn’t find either of those processes traumatizing at all. So I decided to start with a soft bra – the kind that don’t require a lot of special notions (including underwires) or fabrics, with similar assembly to that of a bikini top. The Bambi Bra pattern from Ohhh Lulu seemed to fit the bill quite nicely, so that’s the one I went with. Fortunately, my boobs have shrunk enough now that I can actually wear one of these (because I don’t really need much support these days), but they’re also good for lounging around the house/sleeping. You know, comfy bra!

I bought the pattern and printed it out. I exchanged quite a few emails with Madalynne, who gave me lots of great tips and encouragement and even offered to phone or Skype if I was having fitting issues. Ultimately, though, I realized that no one was going to come out here and make this bra for me, so I set about making my first one a couple of weekends ago. And here she is! My first bra!

Bambi Bra

I made this first Bambi using fabrics that were sent to me from Madalynne – a beautiful blue stretch lace with matching white power mesh. The white lace trimming at the top is actually from my own lingerie elastic stash (oh yeah, I totally have a stash of that shit). It turned out REALLY pretty! It also turned out to be a bit too small in some places, and too large in other places, but that’s ok. It’s still wearable and it’s quite a learning experience and both of these things are satisfactory to me.

Bambi Bra

For this bra, I followed the sizing of the pattern but kind of went my own way with the directions. All of the lace is lined with the power mesh – in retrospect, probably/definitely should have left that upper cup lace and back band lace unlined, as it’s a little too stable right there (see what I mean? Learning experience!). When I put on the bra without the elastics, the upper cup was gaping a bit (this is a problem I have with my RTW bras), so I tried to compensate by pulling the top elastic for a snugger fit. BAD idea! You shouldn’t pull that elastic more than a 1:1 ratio, except in certain areas. I knew that. I did it anyway. Oh well!

By the time I got to the back, I realized that I didn’t have a hook and eye to sew in there. Oops. I just stole one off an nude old bra that doesn’t fit. It doesn’t match at all and looks pretty bad, why is why I didn’t take a photo :P

Bambi Bra

Here it is flat – see how much the elastic is pulling? It definitely shouldn’t pull that much. You may also notice that I just literally sewed the strapping elastic to the bra – there’s no adjustable sliders on this guy! By the time I realized this bra wasn’t quite right, I decided not to waste my cute little gold strap slider things (that Madalynne also included) and save those for a bra I’ll actually wear. In case you were wondering – I have more of this lace fabric, and the powermesh, so I can totally make another one once I get my fit down. Again, learning experience!

First bra down means that the second one can only get better though, right?

Bambi Bra

This one was SO much better! For one, I used a non-stretch woven fabric cut on the bias (leftover from this top, in case you were wondering!), which gave me the stability I wasn’t getting with the stretch lace. I also tweaked the sizing a bit, so it’s better (but it could still use some improvement).

Bambi Bra

Here’s a close-up. I’m like a sexy lumberjack up in hurr.

So, let’s talk about the sizing. My underbust is 28″, my full bust is 32″, and I typically wear a 28DD in RTW (I know, according to ~bra measurement guides~ that shouldn’t be my size, but any band size higher is way too big and any cup size smaller means I’m busting out of the place. This is the size that *generally* fits my body best, at least with brands like Freya and Panache). The Bambi bra says that the XS will fit a bust of 34″-35″, so I was apprehensive right off the bat.

I started with the XS, and used the straight size for the Blue Lace, just to get an idea of the sizing and what needed to be adjusted. Not surprisingly – the band was too big and the cups were too small. The band can be adjusted by taking out of the center back or side seams – you can even adjust the back right before sewing in the hook and eye at the very end. The cups, unfortunately, just kind of are what they are. They’re definitely not big enough, which is actually kind of awesome because it almost makes me feel like I have huge rack! Woohoo!

For the Lumberjack Lady, I made a few adjustments:
– I sewed the bust curve (that seam that runs vertical right over the nipple) at 1/4″. The seam allowances in this pattern are 1/2″, so I figured that would give me a little more room where I needed it.
– I kept the seam allowance at the center front at 1/2″, although next time I may shave off 1/4″ because it’s still a little wide.
– I also added 1/2″ to the bottom of all the pieces except the little lace piece at the top, so the bra would actually cover my entire breast (Blue Lace has a little bit of underboob action going on). Next time, I will also add 1/2″ to the top of the pieces as well. They just need a liiiiittle more coverage up there.
– I took some length out of the band to make it fit my ribcage, but I honestly couldn’t tell you how much. Sorry!

Bambi Bra

The end result is a better fitting bra. It’s still not perfect, but we are getting there!

Bambi Bra

Here’s the back – don’t laugh too much at how bad it looks. I was feeling so clever about this salvaged hook & eye that actually matched, until I realized that it’s not the right width – after I’d already sewn on the elastics! Argh! Lesson learned!

Bambi Bra
Bambi Bra

By the time I was sewing on the trims for bra #2, I found that I was much more comfortable and confident in the process – and I think the end result really shows (other than that embarrassing hook and eye! STOP LOOKING AT IT!). The elastic was sewn on at a less tight ratio, which really shows when the bra is laying flat (and makes it fit much more comfortably). Also, dudes – sourcing all the little trimmings and fabric combinations for this thing is fun, at least when it come from a stash raid :) The black lace is from my Georgia Dress, The lace trim is from Pacific Trimming, and the straps were sent to me from Trice. WHAT UP, FREE BRA.

Bambi Bra

The inside is lined with a soft cotton jersey.

So that’s it! Some things I learned with this new experience:
– Bra Making is really fun and kind of addictive. It uses the tiniest little pieces of fabric (forreal, the amount of blue lace I used was smaller than a sheet of copy paper, ha!), which means you can never throw scraps away. Sorry!
– Adjusting the sizing is not as scary as I thought it would be. Basically finishing a bra before knowing whether or not it’ll work – yeah, that still kind of sucks, but there are worse problems to have, you know?
– You can sew this – start to finish – on a sewing machine! No serger needed. I used a lightning bolt stitch to assemble pretty much everything, and a standard zigzag for sewing the trims.

One big thing I learned is – ok, soft bras are fun, but I’m ready to pull out the big guns! Bring on the real bras with underwires and lots of tiny pieces! I’ve been reading Orange Lingerie‘s Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction and I just bought my own PDF copy of the Marlborough Bra – partially because it was designed and drafted by Norma herself (and I totally trust her bra-making expertise), and partially because it looks exactly like my favorite RTW bra (aka, the only one that really fits right, haha). I also bought a couple of bra kits from Bra Maker’s Supply, which means I didn’t have to personally source all the bits and pieces. So that’s a plus!

marlborough patternWhat about y’all? Would you ever consider making your own lingerie (or… have you?)? Are you a handmade-all-the-time kinda sewer, or would you rather focus your free time on making extravagant and fun things? I think you guys all know my stance, but I want to hear yours!

Hey, and one last thing – last week, I had the pleasure of “meeting” Corinne of The Sewing Affair via phone and chatting her up – and now it’s a podcast that you can listen to! Go have a listen – even if it’s just to decide whether or not I have a southern accent (southerners think I don’t; everyone else thinks I do. Someone sway the vote, my voice is feeling like it doesn’t have an identity haha). ALSO, Corinne has been killing it with these podcasts and they are ALL so good – you should listen to them all! It’s so cool to put a real voice to the blog voices I’ve been reading for the past few years :)

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