Completed: A Cardigan, a Skirt, and a Tshirt!

30 Apr

Woohoo y’all get a damn TRIFECTA of garments for today’s post! Lucky you!

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

For my monthly Mood Sewing Network post, this month I wanted to focus on that amazing striped sweater knit that you’re probably staring at (you should be staring at it, it’s fucking awesome). But I felt really boring just making *a* sweater (a sweater that took maybe 2 hours, tops, to complete), so I overcompensated and made my entire outfit. Yay!

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

We’ll start with the cardigan because it truly is the star of this outfit. It’s another SBCC Cabernet cardigan, this time with my minor adjustments made to the flat pattern (you can see my leopard Cabernet cardigan here, btw!). Since I’ve already made the pattern once, there’s not really anything new to report in terms of construction.

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

I bought the navy and white striped fabric while I was at the Mood Fabrics flagship store in NYC in March. I got soooo much good stuff while I was there, but this particular piece really takes the cake. I swear, if the bolt hadn’t been so heavy, it probably would have jumped off the shelf and fallen directly into my arms. We were like star-crossed lovers when we caught sight of one another.

ANYWAY, gushing aside – what we have here is a cotton double knit that works and feels like the perfect sweater knit. It’s wonderfully thick and squishy, and while it does drape a little bit, it also hold it’s shape quite well. It was really the perfect fabric for this pattern, as it responds really nicely to pressing and topstitching. I was careful in my cutting to not only match up the stripes at the side seams, but also the stripes blending into the sleeve cuffs and hem bands. The neckband is actually the same striped fabric – I just positioned the pattern piece so that the widest navy stripe was the only thing that showed when it’s folded in half. I knew I wanted a solid color at that neckband, but I didn’t want to try to color match, because nope.

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Because the striped knit is so thick, it was a bit of a beast to manhandle. Cutting it was painful (I REALLY need to get my scissors sharpened, dammit!) and the sewn seams were lumpy and wavy before I pressed them. It’s super important to press if you’re dealing with a fabric like this – the flatness is what makes the finished piece look so polished. Topstitching down the seam allowances also helped. As with my last cardigan, I used the straight stitch on my machine and a walking foot. The rest of the seams are serged.

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

The skirt is another one of my beloved Hollyburn skirts. I cannot stress this enough, but I LOOVE this pattern. SO MUCH. As soon as I finished the denim polka dot Hollyburn, I started lurking hard for a yellow twill to make another one. I really love this neon delight of a yellow, but it’s hellish looking against my skin – so obviously, the next best thing is a skirt.

I found the fabric also while I was in NYC, also at the Mood Fabrics flagship store (sorryyyyy not sorry). I actually spent a good deal of time looking for this one – I knew I wanted yellow twill, but the stuff in the twill section wasn’t quite up to snuff. Too pale, too lightweight, too much of something. This particular fabric was actually located in the denim section – I imagine there is someone, somewhere, who has made an amazing pair of jeans with this fabric.

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

This is a stretch cotton twill with lots of lycra in the content, giving it a super heavy stretch. Even though it’s on the lighter side (heavy enough to be considered a bottomweight, however), it has plenty of body that gives this skirt a great structure. The only downside to all that lycra is that it made the fabric really hard to get a good press. I ended up topstitching all the seams to keep them flat, about 1/4″ distance (as opposed to my usual 1/8″). The wider topstitching paired with this fabric really gives it a nice denim-y look, which I like. I thought about topstitching around the pocket bags to give those definition too, and “thought,” I mean I tried it and it looked absolutely terrible so I ripped it out. Don’t do that.

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

The back closes with a simple lapped zipper, and all the inside seams are serged. Basic stuff!

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Finally, the most basic of the basics – my tshirt!

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

This is SUCH a simple tshirt that it hardly bears a mention, however, we’re here and it’s here so let’s just roll with it. The fabric is this sheer white slubbed rayon jersey, which was WAY more sheer than I was expecting but it’s sort of awesome. It’s suuuuper soft, drapey, and the texture of the fabric makes it a tiny bit more interesting than your average plain white tshirt. I used my always-tweaking-almost-done-tweaking Frankenpattern’d tshirt to make this. The neckline is bound using Megan Nielsen’s bound neckline method, which is hands-down my FAVORITE way to finish a neckline on a slinky knit like this. It just looks really really good, and it’s nice and sturdy. I love the traditional method, of course, but some of the more drapey fabrics don’t do so hot with that method because you have to REALLY stretch them to keep them from being floppy, which ends up with a tight neckline that’s practically gathered.

Speaking of slinky knits, binding that neckline was about the only easy part of sewing this tshirt. Talk about the slinkiest knit ever! It was worth it, though, because I can always use more white tshirts. Even if they are see-through. And yes, the pocket is totally in the wrong place and I’m totally not picking it off because I don’t think the fabric can survive that kind of trama.

Detail shots:

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

(that’s a Sewn with Mood Fabrics tag, by the way! :) )

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

PHEW.

Ok, one more picture:

Striped Cabernet Cardigan + Yellow Hollyburn

Only including this one because I look like I’m about to eat whatever is in my line of vision haha.

** Note: All fabrics for this project were provided to me in exchange for a review post as per my involvement with the Mood Sewing Network.

Completed: Linen Carolyn Pajamas

27 Apr

Let’s start this post with the shocker: I don’t really care for linen.

Carolyn Pajamas

I know, I know. Linen is supposed to be a rite of passage for Southern gals – it’s cool and breathable, and the wrinkles are supposed to be there. Well, I HATE the wrinkles! Wrinkly fabric drives me insane, makes me feel rumply and unkempt. I just can’t get behind a fabric that wants to wrinkle the second I look at it, much less wear it around for a few hours. Nope nope nope.

nope

That being said – I really want to like linen. Seriously! I love the idea of a fabric that gets softer with every wash, and as someone who could probably work up a sweat in the middle of the Arctic (I don’t even know how that’s possible, considering that I’m ALWAYS cold, but leave it to my body to fuck up my heating and cooling system), I’m always on the hunt for light and breathable fabric to wear during the summer months. Linen was my nemesis, but I was willing to extend the olive branch and make an effort at friendship.

Also, I’ve been eyeballing that striped linen fabric for months now at the studio (and probably for more months to come, since stripes just launched at Elizabeth Suzann woohoo!), and I knew it needed to be in my life/on my body. Linen wrinkles be dammed.

Carolyn Pajamas

There are many, many, many important things I’ve learned through my sewing journey. One of the biggest ones (well, other than not sewing over your pins. STOP THAT RIGHT NOW) is not to fight against your fabric. If your fabric is drapey, don’t try to sew something form-fitting with it. Alternatively, fabric with a lot of body needs to be made into something that will work with the shape. And if you are sewing linen but still hating on the wrinkles… make pajamas. No one cares if your pajamas are wrinkled (and if they do – get out. Get out right now while you still can).

Also, have you slept in linen pajamas before? LORD HAVE MERCY.

Carolyn Pajamas

Making proper pajamas has been on my sewing to-do list for aaaages. I love wearing matching pajamas sets, even if Landon does think they are dorky (I did compromise and get rid of the hot pink cat pajamas though. Relationships, man!). My mom actually buys me a new pajama set from Victoria’s Secret every year for Christmas (not the hot pink cats, those came from my AWESOME Mamaw). Still, I’ve always wanted to make my own so I could have – what else? – complete control over every aspect of the design, color, and fit. But I’ve never really found a suitable pajama pattern that didn’t look like something more appropriate for an 8 year old boy, so I held off on that dream.

The winning pattern you see here is the newest pattern from Closet Case Files, the Carolyn Pajamas. I looooooved this pattern the second it graced my inbox – the slim, feminine cut of both the top and bottoms, as well as the inclusion of the piping (I mean, I know how to sew piping, but it’s pretty nice to have a pattern that was designed for optional piping, if you get my drift), were what really got my gears turning. Also, Heather Lou looks amazing in those product photos, doesn’t she? I could steal that hair right off her head. I won’t, but should it ever go missing, well…

Carolyn Pajamas

I really enjoyed sewing this pattern! While I wouldn’t exactly call the linen easy to work with (it was a shifty little bitch and was prone to constant fraying), it did respond beautifully to pressing and took all the piping and topstitching like a champ. I recall when Heather Lou first released this pattern, she mentioned how much she labored over the instructions – and it really shows. Everything is very clearly laid out with beautiful little diagrams and helpful tips, and it’s about as hand-holdy as you can get with a pattern without actually having it be part of a sewalong (there’s no sewalong for this pattern, however, there are a few posts on the CCF website to guide you through the trickier steps if you need it!). I’m especially impressed with how nice my collar turned out – piping and all!

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

I made the size 2, based on my measurements and following Heather Lou’s advice. I reeeeally wanted to make the 0 because the ease just seemed excessive, but I’m glad I followed along faithfully because this fit is pretty spot-on. It’s sleek and somewhat fitted (I mean, fitted as far as pajamas are concerned), but there’s juust enough ease to make them super comfy. I did trim about 2″ off the legs, but that’s about it. I feel like there could be some tweaking with the armhole – it seems a bit low and pulls when I reach forward – but that may just be because I’m used to wear shirts that are a lot more tailored. It’s not uncomfortable or restrictive by any means.

I chose to make the long pants with the short-sleeved top. I was originally just going to make shorts, but my new digs are in a basement (I mean, it’s a happy basement with windows and a door – but it’s still a basement, with basement chill), and it’s a bit chilly down here right now. I added piping to the pocket, cuffs, collar, and leg side seams. The piping is self-made – I used more of this glorious linen fabric in the opposite colorway, and cut bunches of bias strips and sewed it around yards of cording. I prefer self-made piping, not just for the color/print selection, but also because it tends to be a lot softer than the stuff you can buy (well, I’m sure you can get awesome soft and flexible piping at some place like in the Garment District, but here all we have is that Dritz stuff in the packages and that stuff is AWFUL if you try to sew it to a drapey fabric. Again – don’t fight the fabric!). I didn’t have wide enough elastic as was required by the pattern, so I sewed an extra line of stitching about 1/4″ away from the top of the pants edge and inserted the elastic below, resulting in a frilly little gathered edge (some of my RTW pjs have this feature and I’ve always loved it!). Here’s a post about elastic waistband finishes if that doesn’t make sense.

Carolyn Pajamas

As I mentioned, I got my fabric from Elizabeth Suzann, because I work there and I get awesome employee benefits like wholesale fabric prices (don’t be jealous). It’s striped 100% linen (I’ve seen similar fabrics to this rolling around on the internet, but most are referred to as a cotton/linen mix. The stuff I have here is definitely all linen) and it is GLORIOUS. It also wrinkles, frays, and shifts like crazy. It wasn’t the most amazing piece of fabric to work with, but I’m glad I powered through because it is pretty amazing to wear. I made sure to finish all my seam allowances with the serger to keep the fraying down (for the front facing, I just serged the edge instead of doing a rolled edge, since I thought the bulk would show through). I didn’t realize how sheer the fabric is, so some of the dark piping shows through on the right side. It’s super sheer and everyone is absolutely aware of the color of my underwear when I wear these pants, just so we’re clear (I’m wearing nude undies for these photos, to save your eyes). It’s also, like I said, super shifty – so my pocket is really wonky. I’m going to call it “charming.”

Detail shots:

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

Pretty good stuff! I love my new pajamas and I definitely feel like a Classy Adult when I wear them, wrinkles and all. I definitely want to make a flannel pair when winter rolls around – finally, I won’t be at the mercy of whatever pink shit they’re selling at VS, woohoo! Too bad my mom is going to have to find a new Christmas gift to buy for me. Sorry, mom! Maybe I’ll make you pajamas instead :P

One last thing – the giveaway winner from last week! Random number generator says…

winner1

winner2

Woohoo, congratulations Kayse! I’ll be in touch to get that gift certificate out to you ASAP. Can’t wait to see what you make with your fabric :DDD

Carolyn PajamasFinally, this would be my senior picture, if I was still in high school and did things like senior pictures. The end.

Completed: Be-Zazzle’d McCall’s 6887 (+ a GIVEAWAY!)

20 Apr

I shared a little sneak peek of this dress in my last post (which, by the way – if you haven’t browsed through the comments, you absolutely should! I LOVED reading everyone’s stories!), and I had quite a few comments and emails from people asking what the pattern was and where I got the fabric. I’m sorry that I had to hold out on y’all – photography was just NOT happening that day – but I’m happy to be able to share the whole shebang with you today! Hopefully you’ll think it was worth the wait ;)

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

Introducing – my first make for Summer 2015, the Be-Zazzle’d Pineapple dress :D I don’t ever name my makes (partially because that would be a LOT of names to come up with, and partially because, well, as you can clearly see – I’m not very good at naming things hahaha), but naming this one was just toooo easy. Sorry if it made you groan. DGAF.

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

I guess we should talk about the fabric first, because it’s slightly more of a focal point than the pattern (tho I promise we will get to the pattern soon!). It’s hard to see from these far-out pictures, but my dress is covered in tiny pineapples! Cartoon-y pineapples, to be exact, since we all know those are the cutest pineapples. And, unlike cherries, I actually really really really love pineapples. I have been known to eat an entire pineapple in one sitting, and I have no regrets. Well, maybe my mouth does, but it has learned to deal.

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

Here’s a close-up of the fabric. Isn’t it so awesome? It’s definitely a cutesy little novelty print, but it’s not quite so in-your-face as some of the novelty prints you find on quilting cottons. It’s a little more subtle (well, as subtle as you can get with cartoon-y pineapples on a watercolor turquoise blue background), and it’s just pretty. I love it so much!

The fabric is called “Tropical Summertime Watercolor Pineapple,” and it from Zazzle. Did you know that Zazzle prints custom, on-demand fabric? Neither did I! This is a new venture that they’ve recently rolled out, and they offered me a few yards to try out and see if I liked it. Um, you guys. IT IS AMAZING. Granted, most of the fabrics offered are Home Decor weight, but they do have a classic combed cotton (similar to quilting cotton) and a Pima cotton, which are both suitable for apparel. I decided to go with the Pima cotton, and I chose an existing design. You can absolutely design your own print – I just didn’t want to go that route personally because I don’t really have a good eye for things like fabric design! I’d rather let someone else handle that part and let me make the dress ;)

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

Pima cotton is very easy to work with – it’s similar to quilting cotton, just lighter (but not quite as light as, say, voile). It doesn’t fray much and it cuts and sews like a dream. It doesn’t press quite as well as some other cottons – I just used my clapper to hold the seams down while they cooled, and that worked fine (your hand also works in place of a clapper, but don’t burn yourself! Ask me how I know. Also, ask me why I ended up getting a clapper, haha). The only minor downside is that, since the fabric is printed, the design only shows on one side – so the wrong side is white. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it’s certainly something to be aware of when choosing a pattern. You don’t want to use one that will show the wrong side of the fabric, unless that’s part of your ~design inspiration.

I pre-washed my fabric before sewing it, and I definitely got a little bit of color fading. Not as much as you’d think – the colors of the fabric upon arrival weren’t quite as neon as they are in that product photo! – but they are a little muted. I actually like them better this way, so I’m ok with that! I washed the fabric on cold and dried it on low, same as I pre-treat all of my fabric. Going forward, I plan on washing this as infrequently as I can get away with (I mean, short of stinking up a 5 foot radius around me or anything like that) and when I do wash it, I will turn it inside-out and hang it to dry on the line. I imagine if this was hand-washed and hung to dry, it would probably retain it’s colors a bit better, but I’m a woman who ain’t got time to hand-wash her clothes (and, tbh, I only line-dry because then it means I don’t have to iron hahahahahaha), so I can live with a little fading.

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

Now for the pattern! Since the fabric has a good amount of body, I wanted to use that to it’s advantage and make something with a bit of sleek structure. I used Mccall 6887, which has front princess seams, a scoop neck, a flared skirt – and this awesome back detail:

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

WHICH IS BASICALLY MY FAVORITE THING EVER AT THE MOMENT.

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

For sizing, I cut the bodice in a size 6 with an A/B cup (I don’t 100% understand these cup sizes because I definitely don’t wear anything close to an A/B cup in real life, but whatever. The sewing pattern fits and that’s all that matters, I guess.) and graded out the waist and hips to the size 8. I chose these sizes based off the finished measurements, and I’m really happy with how the dress ended up fitting (my measurements put me in a “suggested” size 10, which as you could see here would have ended up way too big. Use the finished measurements, y’all! Trust me!). It’s actually pretty perfect straight out of the envelope – I didn’t have to do anything! Even the straps are a good length, which is really surprising to me as I usually have to shorten them. I cut about 3″ off the skirt length because it was otherwise unflatteringly long, but that’s typical for me.

In the future, I am going to re-draw the curve at the bottom of the back cut out, because it’s not quite in the right place. My bra tends to poke out just slightly from the bottom :( It’s not the worst deal – honestly, I’ll probably just make a cute bra to wear with this dress bc that’s how I roll – but it’s annoying nonetheless. I tucked it out of the way for these photos, which is why you don’t see it, but I’m pretty sure it’s just gonna hang low and be free when I’m actually wearing it.

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

I love the style of this dress, but I don’t completely agree with the construction methods presented in the pattern – some of them seemed needlessly complicated. The dress is designed to be worn with a lining, which finishes the neckline, arm holes and back all in one swoop. Awesome, I guess, but I definitely want to be wearing as few layers as possible during the summer! Instead of lining this dress, I finished all the openings with self bias facing. It was a slight puzzle to figure out the bottom of the back opening and dealing with that zipper, but it turned out pretty nice!

I also did not actually sew button holes to the back – I just lapped those two pieces over each other and sewed them down. The buttons are there strictly for decoration. I had every intention of adding the buttons- there is interfacing there and everything – but I realized that the buttons would gape open and look stupid, and also, they’re hard to close by myself because they’re in that weird spot in the middle of my back that I can hardly wash, let alone button. So this dress just slips right over my head. It’s a little bit of a wiggle, but it’s not too bad.

Oh, and I added pockets! The pattern doesn’t come with them, so I stole a pocket piece from another dress pattern in my stash.

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

There’s an invisible zipper at the center back of the skirt, which helps with getting everything on. I actually had this zipper in my stash – it’s one of those dumb metal invisible zippers (seems like a good idea, until you try sewing one and realize that it’s basically impossible for it to be concealed, which is the WHOLE FUCKING POINT of a concealed zipper. And now we all know why these zippers don’t exist anymore), which I hate, but it was the perfect color, so I took one for the team and made it happen. Also, check out my matching serger thread – also from the stash! I love it when that happens :D

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

Here is the bias binding. There are two lines of stitching because I understitched the facing instead of pressing it with the first pass (here is my method for adding bias facing, if you missed that post!). Also, I cut a metric shit-ton of the bias tape and only used a fraction of it, so expect more pineapple bias facing in future blog posts.

I don’t really have anything else to say about this pattern, so have another photo of the back:

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

OH YEA.I definitely love this dress and I definitely plan on making more – I don’t even care if the open back is super one of a kind and that it’ll be obvious that I have several of the same dress. Whatever!

Ok everyone! So, as I mentioned in the title of this post – it’s time for another giveaway! Yay! Zazzle has generously offered to give one lucky reader a $75 gift certificate to spend on the ~custom fabric of your dreams~. You can design your own, or choose from the thousands of designs that they have available, and $75 is enough to get at least 2 yards out of most of the available designs. Below are some of my favorites (I seriously spent about 2 weeks agonizing before I finally settled on the watercolor pineapples), you can also see my entire wishlist here.

Citrus Lemon fabric

Citrus Lemon fabric

And, my personal favorite: this is what I found when I searched for “Butthurt” (look – I was waiting on car repairs and I was bored, and the Zazzle app is really entertaining, ok?):

All right! To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment on this post (PLEASE include an email address where I can reach you – you don’t have to enter it in the comment box, but it needs to be at least viewable to me from an admin end or I can’t count your entry :( ) and let me know what fabric you would choose if you won. If you want to tell me what you’d make with your amazing fabric, do that too! You know I like to be nosy :) This contest is open WORLDWIDE, but you must be 18 or older to enter. Winners will receive the equivalent of $75 USD and are bound by the T&C of the Zazzle gift certificate. Entries will close one week from today, MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2015 at 6:30 AM and the winner will be drawn at random.

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

Good luck, everyone!

** Disclosure: Zazzle provided me with this fabric free of charge, in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, though! Also, I am an affiliate with Zazzle, so any purchases you make at Zazzle by clicking the links in this post will net me a small percentage of the sale. Which I will likely use to buy more custom-printed fabric from Zazzle. The end! :)

Why I Sew

16 Apr

Sewing room sneaky peek

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

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

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

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

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

REASON #1: Mood-Altering Abilities

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

 

REASON #2: Problem Solving

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

 

REASON #3: Level 10 Bartering // Income

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

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

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

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

 

REASON #4: Makes Me A Better Consumer

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

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

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

 

REASON #5: Complete Wardrobe Control

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

New garment sneaky peek

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

deal-lladybird

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

Completed: Leopard Cabernet Cardigan

13 Apr

Good morning, everyone! Lots of changes happening in my world over the past couple of weeks – as you know, we moved out to the country, about 20 miles west of Nashville in beautiful Kingston Springs, TN. Our house sits on a 5 acre plot of land surrounded by woods, and wow, spring is gorgeous here! The leaves are finally starting to poke out – I can’t wait until all the trees are green! As I mentioned before, my best friend bought the house, and Landon and I are occupying the lower level apartment. We are still settling in, but making good progress. I promise I will share sewing room photos as soon as the space is ready. It’s still a work in progress – for one, I need to finish painting (I mean, Landon needs to help me finish painting because I am SO OVER painting by myself!), and I need to get some rugs because the floors are coooold. So it’s not quite ready for it’s ~big reveal~, but it is totally usable for makin’ shit! Which is what I’ve been doing since the second the space was finally unpacked. And here is evidence of my first completed garment in the new place! It’s not anything fancy, but it fills a fabulous gap in my wardrobe ;)

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

Oh, right, that’s the other big change – I changed my hair color back to something a bit more normal! :) My stylist and I have been talking about this for a few months – even before I went to London in November, we were planning. I was starting to get really sick of doing the upkeep myself – redying the roots, dealing with fading, hair color rubbing off on everything, etc etc – and I knew I wanted my hair to look relatively normal for when we go to Peru in June. I actually had all this done the day before we moved at the end of March. It took about 7 hours (woof) and we’re still not done – there’s a little bit of green showing through in certain spots. I need to go back later this week and get another fill or whatever, but my scalp was just done. I gotta say – I’m REALLY happy with how the color turned out! My stylist is seriously a hair magician. And while I’m not delusional enough to think that my hair is 100% undamaged as a result, it’s still in pretty outstanding condition, considering what we put it through. Eventually, I’d like to lighten everything up to a brighter, more coppery red (still natural, but less brown), as well as let her do some fun stuff with highlights. But that’s all in due time! For now, I’m loving this red-brown :)

Ok, back to sewing stuff!

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

This leopard beauty is the Cabernet Cardigan from Skinny Bitch, Curvy Chic patterns. I was REALLY excited when this shit was released because I love wearing v-neck cardigans. I really like the way they look both buttoned and unbuttoned – which is the one minor complaint I have about my Jenna cardis – the crew neck just feels like it looks really weird when it’s unbuttoned, at least on me. Also, this pattern very closely mimics the poor v-neck cardigan I ripped up to use as a pattern (which was totally in vain, because that shit DID NOT WORK. But I guess it’s ok bc the cardigan in question was destined for the scrap heap anyway, since it was holey-er than, like, the Pope at that point), so yay! V neck cardis all day, erryday!

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

See? Looks totally legit unbuttoned. Also, I promise I’m wearing a shirt under the cardigan – it’s just a white v-neck, and the sun was VERY bright that morning. So I look nakey, but honestly, I’m not that exciting of a person.

You can’t see much of the details of this piece due to the (admittedly fabulous) fabric that I used, but it has some nice and simple finishing. The sleeves and hem are finished with a wide band (same with the Jenna cardi) and the neckline also has a folded-over band. The difference between this cardigan and the Jenna is in the neck band – on the Cabernet, it’s one long piece that is interfaced only where the buttons/button holes go, and stretched just at the back of the neck. It’s also a wider band than the one on the Jenna, which means the button holes were a helluva lot easier to get in there without fucking them up.

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

This cardigan also features the cutest little teensy pockets! Yay pockets!

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

Not a lot of changes went into the sizing of this pattern. SBCC drafts for petite proportions, so the length of both the body and the sleeves are pretty spot-on for me. I cut the size XXS, based on the pattern suggestion, but ended up taking about 1/2″ out of each side seam because I felt that even the slim version was still a bit boxy on me. This was totally a hack alteration – I’d already finished the cardigan at that point (and Instagrammed it, so you know that shit’s forreal), and rather than pull off the bottom band and do things properly… I just nipped in the sides with my serger and continued the seam down to the bottom of the band. Better to have a slightly subpar finish than a cardigan that I never wear, right?

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

Since this was my first rodeo with the pattern, I followed the instructions as written. I topstitched everything with a straight stitch, as recommended – I was afraid it would look kind of homemade and tacky, but I think it actually looks really nice! Since the cardigan is an easy fit that doesn’t reply on much stretch (unlike, say, a tshirt), I don’t have to worry about the stitches popping. Everything else was finished on my serger, and I used regular lightweight fusible woven interfacing for the neckband. All in all, I think this took maybe 2 hours to sew, start to finish. It’s a quick little make and it’s already getting very regular rotation in my wardrobe.

Also, speaking of instructions – the booklet that comes with the pattern is super cute! (well, the printed version, which I’m totally glad I sprang for the couple of extra dollars because yay for not having to print and tape PDF patterns!) It’s about the same size as a standard piece of paper, and the pages are stitched together along one edge. The illustrations are large and very clear, and the instructions are very much direct and to the point. There are no cutting layouts included, and not a lot of hand-holding involved (i.e., no beginning section telling you how to work with knit fabrics, for example. Kind of refreshing, honestly! I think there’s enough of that out there as it is, ha). So if you’re a super beginner and want to try this pattern, but need some help with sewing knits – definitely research beforehand. It’s an easy pattern, though, and I think it’s totally doable for the beginner knit-sewer.

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

The super fabulous leopard print ponte was one of my scores from when I was in NYC last month. It was one of the very few things I had specifically on my list to pick up – leopard print ponte, yellow stretch twill, and stone washed stretch denim, to be precise (sadly, I did not find the stonewashed stretch denim. Everything available right now is dark indigo or black – wtf? Do y’all seriously not want me 90s-mom’ing it up or something?). I actually met up with Renee during my first shopping expenditure that weekend (who is just as awesome in real life as she is on her blog – maybe even more so, actually, because she came bearing a selfie stick), and while we were in Metro Textile, I asked Kashi for leopard print ponte and everyone laughed at me for being way too specific. Well, joke’s on all y’all because I found my damn ponte the next day – in Mood Fabrics, no less! (although I did get some amazing shit from Kashi. Just wait for it.). This ponte in particular is a bit more lightweight than usual, which is nice for this warmer weather. It’s stretchy, but it’s really easy to work with. My scissors did not particularly enjoy trying to cut through all the thickness, but I’m pretty sure it’s because they desperately need sharpening.

I also realize and completely acknowledge that this v-necked leopard print cardigan kiiiind of makes me look like one of those Ladies Who Lunch, but I’m totally ok with that. I like eating lunch with my lady friends.

SBCC Cabernet Cardigan

So yeah! So much newness up here today – new cardigan, new hair, new background in mah photos. I am LOVINGGGG these woods; it’s so quiet and serene out here, and you can actually see the stars at night. And we’re still a relatively short drive from Nashville, which is nice for when I need my hot chicken fix :P

One last thing – the Sewing for Fashion Designers giveaway winner!

winner1

Congratulations, Vickie C! I will be in touch to get that book mailed out to you ASAP :) The rest of y’all – as always, the book can be pre-ordered on Laurence King’s website and Amazon :) Thanks for your support, y’all are the best!

Vogue Spring/Summer ’15 Sewing Patterns

10 Apr

New Vogue Sewing Patterns were just released the other day! What better way to celebrate their arrival (and give myself a little more time to procrastinate getting my shit together, mostly because I CAN’T FIND MY CAMERA REMOTE, ARGH), than to rip apart the latest offerings? :D
V1451Vogue 1451 // Donna Karan
“Hey, Ambular. Was that you going through my laundry?”
V1450Vogue 1450 // Guy Laroche
“As if! Like I would really wear something from Judy’s.”
V1444Vogue 1444 // DKNY
I know there is a whole class of sewists dedicated to making sure that their insides look as pretty as the outside (both hands raised bc I’m totally part of that camp!), but this shit is taking that to the next level.
V1446Vogue 1446 // Rebecca Taylor
Did seriously no one bother to tell this poor girl about the toilet paper stuck to her shoe?
V1454Vogue 1454 // DKNY
Vogue 1454: Includes butt canopy.
V1447Vogue 1447 Tracy Reese
REALLY cute dress pattern, awkward fabric choice.
V9100Vogue 9100
koolaidFirst thing that comes to mind every time I see that damn ripped paper background.
v9108Vogue 9108 // Marcy Tilton
As usual, Marcy Tilton does not disappoint.

V9117Vogue 9117
I’m having a really hard time trying to figure out the storyline behind this photo. Was she working on home renovations before going to lunch?
V1452Vogue 1452
Ladies, if this ensemble isn’t fabulous enough for you, just know that you can also make it out of stretch velour.
V1453Vogue 1453
Sandra Betzina, what the fuck have you done now?
V9115Vogue 9115
Kimono-no-no.
V9114Vogue 9114
The perfect pocket for stashing your extra tots.
V9111Vogue 9111
“I have given up.”
V9120Vogue 9120
Introducing the Bellow Bag: For all your accordion-hiding needs.
And finally, check out this trifecta of fuckery: Vogue 9121
V9121aA) Tragic fabric choice? Check.
V9121bB) Unnecessarily long dangly? Check.
V9121cC) Saggy boob illusion? Check.
Vogue. Please don’t ever stop.

 

(psst! If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to enter the Sewing for Fashion designers giveaway! Entries close on Monday morning ;) )

GIVEAWAY: Sewing for Fashion Designers

6 Apr

Well hello there, folks! Sorry about my sudden abrupt absence (I wouldn’t normally even mention it, but I got a few concerned emails over the week, so I thought I would clarify!) – we spent the last weekend of March moving house, and then the past week painting and unpacking and then throwing our first party in the new place. I actually haven’t been at my sewing machine since before I went to New York last month, and I’m kind of going crazy! The good news is, I’m pretty much completely unpacked and set up at this point (I told myself I wasn’t allowed to sew until the house was set up – talk about a good motivator!). The bad news is, I don’t have anything new to show y’all just yet. The awesome news is, I do have a giveaway! So there’s that! Bear with me here and regular posting will resume shortly, I promise.

Sewing For Fashion Designers_Front

Sewing for Fashion Designers is one of the newest titles from one of my favorite sewing book publishers, Laurence King. The beautiful hardcover book has over 300 pages of information, covering everything you need to know about sewing from a professional production standpoint.

I admit, when I received my copy in the mail – my first thought was, “For real? Another book on learning how to sew? How many more of these do we need, really?” And while I still agree with that to a certain extent, this particular title doesn’t necessarily fall into that category. This book won’t teach you how to thread your domestic machine and it doesn’t include any sewing patterns. What it is is a dictionary’s-worth of sewing knowledge, beautifully photographed and illustrated, giving you all the information you could possibly need to create clothing the same way it is done in the industry. To be honest, I found it really fascinating.

Sewing For Fashion Designers_Spread_01

The book is a bit textbook-like in how it’s laid out – the first chapter covers tools and equipment, working with patterns and cutting out your fabric. Chapter 2 is a comprehensive overview of fabric, notions, and supporting materials (such as interfacing for tailoring a jacket) and underpinnings. Chapter 3 covers stitches – both hand and machine – as well as finishing seams. Chapter 4 is for general techniques, such as setting in a sleeve or creating a welt pocket. Finally, chapter 5 explores fabric and cut-specific techniques, like working with sequined fabrics or fur. There’s a good mix of both illustration and photography, plus little tips scattered through the pages. There are also plenty of runway photos to illustrate the techniques and fabrics described in a particular section.

Sewing For Fashion Designers_Spread_07

As someone who has an aggressively edited sewing library (I can – and will – buy sewing books all day, but there comes a time in every sewer’s life when you realize you gotta let some of ’em go so they can be loved and appreciated by someone else, rather than gather dust on their shelves, you know?), I really like this book and I definitely made some space for it in my collection. I love that it covers an entire range of techniques and I love how the instructions are laid out and how easy they are to follow. It doesn’t cover fit – but I’m ok with that (I think fitting really belongs in its own book – that’s a whole world of knowledge that can’t possibly be covered in 20 pages). I love that it’s not necessarily geared toward the beginner female sewer – it speaks from a fashion industry standpoint, and holy shit there are actually photos of men sewing in this book. It’s also, like I said, just fascinating to flip through. I’ve been reading it, well… like a book. Ok, a novel. Whatever.

(psst – click the photos to enlarge)

Sewing For Fashion Designers_Spread_02

Sewing For Fashion Designers_Spread_03

Sewing For Fashion Designers_Spread_04

Sewing For Fashion Designers_Spread_05

Sewing For Fashion Designers_Spread_06

Sewing For Fashion Designers_Spread_08

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Like I said at the beginning of this post, there’s a giveaway here! Laurence King has been kind enough to offer a second copy to one lucky winner, yay! If you’d like to throw your name in the hat to win your own copy of Sewing for Fashion Designers, just leave a comment on this post. You don’t have to say anything in particular, unless you want to tell me your favorite joke! (please – I need some new jokes!) This giveaway is open to US READERS ONLY (sorry, my international friends! I love you!) and I will close the comments one week from today, Monday, April 13, 2015 at 6:30 AM CST.
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

If giveaways aren’t your jam, you can also get a copy of the book on Laurence King’s website and, of course, good ol’ Amazon. Please be aware that the title has not been released yet, and is currently on pre-order.Sewing For Fashion Designers_3DGood luck, everyone! In the meantime, you can bet I’ll be back puttering around the new sewing room – now that I’m unpacked, I can finally start sewing! I even made a cardigan last night! Life is good :D

Note: Sewing for Fashion Designers was given to me by Laurence King, in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own :)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,648 other followers