Completed: Starwatch Watson Lingerie Set

24 Jun

I pretty much never name my makes (if I did that, I would have looooong run out of clever names at the rate I sew haha), but every now and then, I get a hankerin’ to christen something with a silly name. Which is why this new lingerie set is called Starwatch.

Because, like, I’m gonna watch the stars and shit while I wear this. Don’t call it Stargaze, that makes way too much sense.

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

Starwatch is made using the Watson & Bikini brief pattern from Cloth Habit. Every time I make or wear this pattern, I immediately start thinking of more versions to create. I know some people like a little (or a lot) of variety in their lingerie, but I feel pretty content with the two patterns I’m churning out these days – Watson for comfy happy lounge days (or starwatching lololol) and Marlborough for slightly-nicer-rack-but-still-pretty-comfy days. Actually, I’d love to throw a (non foam cup) strapless bra pattern in that arsenal. Any suggestions, my wise lingerie readers?

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

This is my third iteration of this pattern, so no changes to the sizing or fit. This was also my FIRST time making Watson where I didn’t have the hand-holding to comes with buying a pre-cut kit. Eep! I love those damn kits (the two I’ve used – both with great success – are from Blackbird Fabrics and Grey’s Fabrics) and I highly recommend them if you are just getting into lingerie sewing and don’t know where to start with sourcing your fabric or supplies. It’s really nice to have someone else take the guesswork out of all that, so you can focus on the actual sewing part. I also just really love having something packaged up in a box, it just makes me so happy! That being said, you are paying a finder’s fee for someone to source those supplies – and while I don’t think the kits are necessarily expensive (depending on where you buy your bras, the kits might be cheaper. They are for me, anyway!), I also have a huuuuge ol’ stash of lingerie notions that I’ve been hoarding collecting for a few months now, and it was time to woman up and start actually using it.

Starwatch Watson & Bikini

Obviously the fabric is the ~star~ of this ensemble (u see what I did there?). That amazing sparkly goodness was a gift from my beautiful and sassy girl Lola, who brought it from me all the way from the Garment District when she was with me in Philly for Maddie’s Bra-Making class. It’s a gorgeous stretch mesh with glittery stars all over it – and yes, in case you were wondering, I have washed this thing several times and I still get glitter everywhere when I wear it. Yay, party in my pants! It has a fantastic 2 way stretch – which was a bit of a gamble with Watson, as that requires a 4 way stretch, but it thankfully worked out ok.

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

Since the fabric is pretty sheer, I underlined all the pieces with a soft black power mesh, to give a little extra support and a layer of opacity. The cradle is also lined with tricot lining fabric (left over from my Blackbird kit, woohoo!). The back band is 2 layers of power mesh running in opposite directions (normally, I like one layer of power mesh – but this stuff is really lightweight and SUPER stretchy and I was concerned about the fit, so I doubled up). Everything was sewn on my regular sewing machine and the seams were finished with a 3 thread overlock.

All the notions are from my stash – I didn’t have to buy anything new to finish this bra. Yay! I honestly couldn’t tell you where any of this stuff came from – I look for lingerie elastics every time I go fabric shopping, especially in the Garment District, so there’s a good chance that most of this is from NY. I really love the tiny scalloped elastic around the bra cups, I wish I could remember where that came from because I’d totally buy more!

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

To complete my Starwatch set, I also made matching panties. Not much to say about these – I underlined the star mesh at the front (again, with power net) and used a single layer of power net for the back. The cotton crotch lining came from my stash.

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

Really happy with this set, and glad I was able to put that beautiful glittery star mesh to AWESOME use! (and I still have loooots more, so maybe more glittery underwear is in my future ;) heh)

Starwatch Watson Bra & Bikini

OAL2015: Assembling the Bodice // Adding Sleeves

22 Jun

Hey hey everybody! I’m finally back from my 2 weeks of traveling Peru with my best friend, and it was amazing. I spent a week in Lima (first half in the Miraflores District, which is absolutely beautiful, and the second half in the San Borja District), where we stayed with the family of a friend and basically ate our weight in ceviche. The second week, we flew up to Iquitos and spent a couple of days in the city, as well as a week deep in the jungle off the Amazon (and before you ask, yes, I was there for the ayahuasca). We did not visit Machu Picchu (I guess this is the main reason why people visit Peru, because EVERYONE asked us if we were planning on going!) – we considered it, but it was too expensive and we had to choose because Cusco and Iquitos… Iquitos won out, and I’ve no regrets :P  It was an incredible 2 weeks, although I’m pretty happy to be home where I can throw my TP in the toilet and drink straight from the faucet ;) hahaha

Anyway, it’s back to the real world for me! Which means it’s time to jump straight into business mode and kick this OAL off once and for all! Yay!

OAL_Banner

Today, we’ll be assembling the bodice of our dresses. This part is pretty easy and straightforward (well, honestly, the whole dress is pretty easy and straightforward!), although this post is quite a bit picture-heavy. Sorry in advance, ha. This method of bias facing is for those of y’all who are making their dress without a lining. If you plan on adding a lining, ignore these sewalong posts and use the instructions included in the pattern :)

OAL 2015
First things first – if you haven’t already done so, go ahead and fuse your little rectangles of interfacing to the back bodice where indicated. This will give that area a bit of stability for adding buttons later (or, if you’re like me – mock buttons. Either way, don’t skip the interfacing!).

OAL 2015
Sew the bodice front to the bodice side front princess seams (need a refresher on sewing princess seams? I got ya!) and finish the seams as desired. Since my fabric is a bit bulky, I chose to serge mine separately (with hot pink serger thread because, obvs) and press them open. You can certainly finish the seams as one and press them to one side, though.

OAL 2015
Next, attach the front bodice to the back bodice pieces, at both the shoulders and the side seams. Again, finish the seams as desired and press.

OAL 2015
Next, we are going to finish the entire neckline (all the way around) with a bias facing. Measure your neckline, starting at the interfacing of one of the back pieces and continuing all the way around the front to the opposite back piece. There are a few ways to do this – you can use a flexible measuring tape, you can measure with the bias tape itself, or you can use a Curve Runner (am I the last person on earth to find out about this little tool? HOLY SHIT that thing is so cool!). Cut your bias tape the length of your measurement and pin around the neckline, right sides facing.

Note: For this particular method of finishing, you will want bias strips that are 1″ wide. You can certainly buy the pre-made packages if you’d like, but I personally like to make my own – it handles and sits better than the pre-made stuff, plus, you have a much better selection of colors and prints (and it’s a GREAT way to use little scraps that are too awesome to throw away). If you haven’t made your own bias strips, it’s super easy! There are tons of methods all over the internet on how to do it; the one I personally use is the continuous bias method since it means you don’t get stuck doing a lot of piecing.

OAL 2015
Sew the bias all the way around the neckline – again, starting at one back and continuing across the front all the way around to the opposite back – right sides together, with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Stretch the bias tape *slightly* as you sew, which will help snug up the neckline so it doesn’t gape open.

Note: The pattern is drafted with 5/8″ seam allowances, so you may want to trim 3/8″ off all around the neckline before adding your bias facing. I did not do this and the fit is fine. Just an fyi, though!

OAL 2015
If your fabric is on the bulky side, or your bias is a crazy contrast (like my hot pink), you may want to understitch the facing so it stays in place and doesn’t peek out from the right side. Push all the seam allowances toward the bias and stitch through all the layers 1/8″ from the seamline. I use an edgestitch foot for accuracy, but you can also eyeball it. If your fabric is lightweight and responds well to pressing, you can skip this step.

OAL 2015
OAL 2015
Here is the bias attached and understitched. Take it over to the ironing board; we’re going to press the hell out of this shit now.

OAL 2015
Fold the bias over to the wrong side of the bodice, so that the edge meets the stitching line where it is attached. (yes, it should actually line up with the stitching – my fabric is a little bulky, so the turn of the cloth means that it doesn’t quite meet up. That’s ok, though!

OAL 2015
Now fold the entire thing one more time to the inside, so all of the bias is on the inside of the bodice. Press.

OAL 2015
Topstitch 1/8″ away from the folded edge.

OAL 2015
Take the bodice back to the ironing board and give the neckline a good press, preferably over a tailor’s ham if you have one (and if you don’t have one, might I suggest this lovely tutorial for making your own? har har), to smooth out the curves and make sure that all the bias is pressed to the inside of the garment.

OAL 2015
OAL 2015

Et voilà!

Next, you are gonna want to tackle those arm holes. For those of you leaving your dress sleeveless, you will want to finish the arm holes the same way that you finished your neckline – i.e., with the bias facing (here’s a tutorial on adding bias facing to armholes if ya need it!). For those of you who are adding the standard short sleeves (view B), you will want to follow the instructions to set in the sleeves (or you can follow this tutorial on setting in sleeves, which I find a bit more clear). Don’t forget to finish the seam and press. For the cute little cap sleeves (view D), you will not only set in the sleeve but also need to deal with the underarm finishing (since the sleeve doesn’t go all the way around the arm hole). Normally this is finished with the lining, but since we are little rebels who aren’t playing by the rules, we are gonna finish that with bias facing.

OAL 2015
Start by finishing/hemming the bottom of your cap sleeves, in whatever way you prefer. I just serged, turned the hem to the wrong side, and topstitched.

OAL 2015
Attach the sleeve to the armscye the same way you set in a standard sleeve – sew a line of basting stitching at 5/8″ all around the curve of the sleeve cap (in a standard sleeve, there are dots to indicate where the basting goes – but for this little cap sleeve, you’ll baste from tip to tip), pin the sleeve into the armscye and pull the gathers so that it fits smoothly inside with no puckers. Sew at 5/8″. (if you need more tutorial help with setting in a sleeve, see the link above :) ). I continued my stitching line all the way around the entire armscye to help with trimming in the next step, although this is not necessary and you can totally eyeball it.

OAL 2015
Trim all your seam allowances down – all the way around the entire armscye, including the bottom part that hasn’t been attached to anything yet – to 1/4″. Measure the armscye (this is where one of those Curve Runners would come in super handy, argh. Or you can measure the trimmings that you cut off, ha) and cut your bias strips to length, minus 1″ (to account for stretching the bis as you sew it on). Sew the ends of the bias together to make a circle, and attach to the entire seam/unfinished edge of the arm hole at 1″, again, stretching *slightly* as you sew. Understitch and press as previously directed.

OAL 2015
Before you make the final press to pull the facing all the way to the inside of the arm hole, be sure to pull the sleeve out so that you don’t accidentally tack the sleeve to the bodice. Been there, done that, and it sucks.

OAL 2015
Stitch the bias facing all the way around the arm hole 1/8″ from the edge, being sure that the sleeve is out of the way and you are *only* sewing through the bodice and the bias facing. Press over a tailor’s ham, to set the curves and get everything to lay nicely.

OAL 2015
OAL 2015
Finished cap sleeves! I really like this method because the extra stitching really strengthens where the sleeve attaches to the arm hole – since it doesn’t go all the way around, sometimes they can start to tear off if there’s too much strain on them (I had a dress like that in my early days of sewing that would NOT keep the cap sleeves attached. Every time I moved, they would rip out. I eventually dumped the dress, too bad I didn’t know how to fix that problem!). And by “strain,” that usually happens from hugging people.  Shitty way to ruin a dress if you ask me hahaha. Anyway, once I started sewing them in this way, my cap sleeves tend to be a lot stronger and I don’t have problems with busted seams. You do have to be ok with visible topstitching – but in a dress like this, there’s already a bunch of topstitching, so it works.

OAL 2015
Here’s the inside of the bodice :) Fun!

Ok, whew, I think that’s enough for today! Do let me know if you have any questions about any of these steps :)

How’s your sewing coming along for the OAL?

Completed: Vogue 1395, Modified!

3 Jun

I reckon I have time for one last post before I leave! :P

Plaid Silk V1395

May this dress be forever known as one of the bitchiest I’ve ever sewn. Sewing silk crepe is a challenge enough of it’s own – but throwing plaid into the mix? I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought this fabric (probably something like, “Ooh! Plaid silk crepe! My favorites! lololol”), but the fact that I not only sewed it up but actually finished the dang project is something of a miracle for me. It certainly didn’t give me an easy time.

Plaid Silk V1395

The pattern I used is Vogue 1395, which is a Rebecca Taylor design from last summer. I’ve made the pattern before in cherry printed silk crepe, and it’s one of my favorite summer dresses. It’s SUPER comfy, but still pretty cute! I knew I wanted to make a second one, but I wanted to try to figure out a way to make it without the back overlay. I love the back overlay, but it can shift over the course of the day and kind of make the arm holes hang weird. Plus, I wanted to improve on my first version (namely, the low arm holes that had to be emergency-raised and thus the seams are pretty wonky).

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

First, my pattern modifications. Remembering those awful armholes, I shortened the depth by a good 1.5″ or so. I actually wanted to shorten them more, but I was afraid I’d really fuck up the pattern, so I erred on the side of less. This gives the arm holes a much better depth (much more suited to my petite proportions), although you can still see a tiny bit of bra if I move a certain way. Ah, c’est la vie.

I kept the front bodice the same (other than the arm holes). I re-traced the back bodice and copied the shoulder width from the overlay to the shoulder area of my new back bodice (the OG back bodice in the pattern has narrow shoulders, and the overlay matches the front piece. This probably doesn’t make sense if you haven’t seen the pattern pieces). I redrew the bottom armscye to have a little curve, similar to the front (the overlay also doesn’t have that – it just goes straight, since it’s supposed to pull across to the front). Aaaaand that’s about it! Pretty easy modifications.

Plaid Silk V1395

Sewing up the actual pattern – again, with modifications, since I was omitting the overlay, as well as the skirt lining – was simple. Sewed the front and back together at the shoulders and side seams, added the bias binding for the necklines and arm holes, and then sewed the front closed. I sewed the skirt side seams, attached the skirt to the bodice, and then folded up the seam allowance and topstitched it down to create a casing for the elastic waist. The skirt has a simple rolled hem, and all the interior seams are french seams. Because of the bias binding, there’s quite a bit of topstitching on this dress, which I really like.

Sewing – and cutting, for that matter – silk crepe actually isn’t that difficult. Of course, it’s marginally harder than sewing, say, quilting cotton, but it’s not this terrible beast that you have to wrangle and beg and plead with. The spongey texture of the crepe gives the silk something to grab onto, so it doesn’t really shift much while sewing. It can be a little floaty when you’re trying to cut it, but I just make sure my table has enough space to hold the whole yardage and that helps a lot. You’ll want to use a sharp, new needle for sewing, and silk pins for pinning.

Plaid Silk V1395

What gave me the most trouble with this damn dress was the fact that it’s a plaid fabric. Cutting was a NIGHTMARE – like I said, silk crepe is sorta shifty at best, but as long as you’re staying on grain and getting the pattern pieces straight, it’s not too bad. Throw in strong horizontal lines and some plaid that has to match, and then it becomes an epic journey. I gave up on trying to match the plaid perfectly, and instead just focused on getting the lines to match across the seamlines. This was something I also had to focus on while sewing – again, a little shifting and/or growing is ok when you’re sewing a solid color or a busy print, but for these strong lines, you have to pay attention to make sure everything matches up at the seams. I pinned the shit out of things and used a walking foot while sewing, but man, thank god there are only a handful of seams in this dress. Otherwise, I might have ended up flipping a table over out of sheer rage.

Overall, though, everything matches up pretty well! The center front seam is a bit unfortunate looking with how the plaids lined up – but whatever. The back bodice does not quite match the back skirt – the lines are unbroken, but they’re the wrong lines (whoops). The elastic waist really helps to hide that, though, and at least it’s not at the front! The shoulder seams don’t match at all, but that’s the nature of the beast this pattern. Ya gotta pick your battles.

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

When I finished the dress, I was a little underwhelmed with how it looked on me – I wasn’t a fan of how the bodice bloused over the elastic (the overlay ties over it and flattens things, but since I didn’t have the overlay, I had the blousiness). Belts are usually my solution for this, but those looked strange, too. So I made a little self-fabric tie, out of my remaining scraps. The dimensions are as much as I could get away with from the scraps. I just sewed a tube with bias ends and turned it right side out.

I also didn’t like the length, so I cut it REALLY short. Go ahead, judge me :P

Close-up shots:

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

Final thoughts of this dress – love it, was totally worth the effort. The plaid matching, while not perfect, is good enough for me. I really love this silk print and I’m glad I pushed through to finish, although I don’t think I’ll be picking up any more plaid silk crepe anytime soon. Sewing this pattern made me want another of the unmodified version, though, so I made one last night – and it turned out beeeeyoutiful! You can see the Instagram peek here. Stay tuned in a couple weeks for that blog post, I guess!

I took these pictures in the woods because the sun was SUPER bright, and it’s awesome how much coverage the trees give! This is right outside my door, too. Amelia was sitting at the screen, complaining at me. The woods surrounding our house are on a bit of an incline, hence the slight bobble-head vibe I’m throwing here. Also, in case you were wondering and/or freaking out – I’m not allergic to poison ivy :) haha :) I don’t think any shows in these photos, but it’s aaaalll over the place back there!

Plaid Silk V1395

With all that being said, I’m taking a blog sabbatical for the next couple of weeks! My trip to Peru leaves tomorrow afternoon, and we will be gone through 6/18. I am not sure if I will have internet access while I’m away – definitely will be off for at least a week while I’m in Iquitos, because there’s no reception where I’m staying – but I’m not bringing my computer, so I can’t really answer emails. Fair warning in advance if you try to email me or holler with a question, because it’ll probably go unanswered the whole time I’m gone! I’m looking forward to spending some time unplugged and exploring another continent with my bestie, though!

See y’all in a couple of weeks!

OAL2015: Fabric, Size & Cutting

1 Jun

OAL_Banner

Happy Monday, everyone! We are officially kicking off the OAL (Outfit Along) this morning, so I hope you’re ready for it! As I mentioned in the announcement post, we won’t actually start the sewing until later this month, on 6/22, since I’ll be traveling outside of the country and won’t have much internet access (and I hate the thought of putting up a tutorial and then not being around to answer questions! Lame!). However, I figured I’d help get you guys rolling in the meantime with choosing your fabric, size, and cutting. Then when I’m back, we can get straight into sewing so you can finish these dresses before the deadline at the end of July! Sound good?

Of course, if you don’t need the sewing tutorials, then you are absolutely free to start the sewing whenever you’d like! This just goes for those of y’all who are waiting for tutorials :) For this year, I won’t be doing a full photo step-by-step of the entire pattern – but if you need those, most of the steps are similar to the ones from The 2014 OAL, so you can always browse through the tag for the tutorials. Things like sewing princess seams, sleeves or bias binding, and inserting a lapped zipper. All good stuff! Since it’s already up on the blog, I don’t see any point in reinventing the wheel (or subjecting those of y’all who aren’t following the OAL to a bunch of repeat tutorial posts, because, boo on that).

The tutorials I’ll be covering on this here blog are changing out the lining for bias facing (which can get a little weird around that back cutout, but don’t worry, I got your back!) and adding pockets. I will only be sewing View A, with the back cutout and no sleeves (that’s a lie, I’m still debating if I want to add the little cap sleeves. Decisions, decisions!). Again, the ~official~ dress pattern for the OAL is McCall’s 6887, but you are totally welcome to sew whatevererrrrr pattern you like!

First of all, here’s the fabric I’ve chosen for my dress!

OAL2015 - Fabric

This is some uhhhh-mazing Ikat cotton that I picked up from Mood Fabrics in NYC when I was there… um… March 2014. Ha! I’ve been apprehensive to sew it up because the print-matching looked to be a nightmare, and also, the fabric is pretty thick and I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of garment it would work with. I think it’ll be really nice for this dress; it has a good structure for the skirt, and the print is so fun! I haven’t decided what color bias binding to use for the insides – common sense would tell me black or white, but I’m thinking I might look for some turquoise or hot pink :) Something to add a little splash of color to the inside :)

OAL2015 - Fabric & yarn

Here it is with my yarn for the sweater portion – this is good ol’ Cascade 220 (my one true yarnlove), in a gorgeous mint color.

Don’t know what kind of fabric to choose for your dress? First of all, think about how you want the finished dress to look – do you want a bit of structure in the skirt and bodice, or do you want everything to hang in soft folds? You will want to choose a fabric with a weight and drape that work with what you have in mind. For this particular pattern, I really like how it looks with more structured fabrics – such as linen, cotton eyelet, cotton sateen, or even quilting cotton! This blog post I wrote for last year’s OAL goes over all the details for choosing and weight and drape, and shows you the differences between several fabrics. I’d recommend checking that out first, if you’re confused!

Here are some fabrics I’ve pulled off the ‘nets that would be lovely for this pattern –

coral eyelet
Italian Red Coral Eyelet – from Mood Fabrics
This would be a great choice for adding a lining – or if you want to skip the lining and still go with bias binding finishes, make sure you get an appropriate underlining. You could also sew a matching slip :)

tropical sateen
Tropical Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
Busy prints are great for hiding wonky seams, if you’re concerned about neatness :) If you plan on sewing this pattern with a stretch fabric, you may want to consider sizing down (make a muslin out of similar weight/stretch fabric first, to check!).

abstract sateen
Abstract Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
I couldn’t resist. This fabric is AMAZING.

seersucker
Red and White Striped Cotton Seersucker – from Mood Fabrics
Easy to sew and lovely to wear, cotton seersucker is a great option if you live in a hot climate. I love the classic red and white stripes!

linen
Pinstriped Linen from Blackbird Fabrics
Another good option for hot climates. This linen is similar to the stuff I used to make my linen pajamas :)

shirting
Denim Chambray Cotton Shirting – from A Fashionable Stitch
Ain’t nothing that says you have to use shirting to make shirts. Make yourself a comfy little dress instead :)

agf
Art Gallery Fabrics: Arizona from Grey’s Fabric
Quilting cotton is a surprisingly good choice for this pattern, since it has the weight and drape that looks best with the bodice and skirt – and you have aaaalll kinds of fun prints to choose from :D I’ve never personally sewn with Art Gallery Fabrics, but everyone on the internet seems to go apeshit over them. At any rate, this is one helluva fun print!

A few notes about fabric:
– As I mentioned, if you’re sewing stuff that’s on the sheer side and you don’t want to mess with a lining, make sure you get an appropriate underlining fabric. I prefer to use white cotton voile or batiste (or black, or, whatever color looks best with my fabric), as it doesn’t add too much weight. If you aren’t sure about the weight, hold it with a piece of your main fabric and see how you like the way it feels. I won’t be covering underlining in this OAL, but I have a tutorial on my blog if you need help!
– Those of y’all sewing stripes or directional prints (meaning if you turn it the other way, it’s quite obviously upside-down) – make sure you buy extra fabric! Depending on the width of your fabric and the size you’re cutting, 1/2 yard – 1 yard will do.
– Prewash your fabric, however you plan on sewing your final garment. For me, that’s a cold wash and a low tumble dry (I hang my dresses to dry once they’re done – only because I hate ironing! Ha. But I always pre-shrink in the dryer just in case it accidentally gets tossed in there later down the line!).
– For your bias facings (and pockets, for that matter!), you may want to use a lighter fabric if your main fabric is a bit bulky. This is the case with my Ikat – I don’t want bulky facings, so I’m getting something lighter. Again, cotton batiste or voile is a really good choice for this, as is quilting cotton or cotton shirting. You can use almost anything, but remember that you’re dealing with skinny strips cut on the bias, so maybe don’t try the silk right now (unless you’re feeling really brazen!). Also, get something that presses well – like cotton or rayon. You will be pressing the hell out of your facings, and you want something that will respond to that. Polyester is not a good choice for this. I always stash-raid for this kind of thing, but if you’re buying, you’ll need about 1/2 a yard (and you’ll have tonssss left over to make even more bias binding, so get something you really love :) ). Of course, you also buy those pre-made bias tapes – I don’t care for them, because I think the fabric is too stiff to look nice (and the color selection is very limited), but it’s definitely a lazy option if you don’t want to make your own. You’ll need the kind that is 1″ wide.
– To make your dress, you will also need interfacing, an invisible zipper (I prefer this dress finished with an invisible zipper, but you can try a lapped zipper if you’d like) and at least 3 buttons for the back, if you’re making the scoop back version.

For choosing your size, again, I will refer to you to Last year’s post in the OAL. Scroll past all the fabric, and there’s a section on choosing your size based on the finished measurements. McCall’s patterns can have quite a bit of ease in them, so this is a more accurate way of choosing the correct size. This is how I size *all* of the patterns I make, and it has yet to let me down :) As an example – my body measurements put me into a size 10, but I sew the 6 (graded to 8 at the waist) for my finished garment, and it fits perfectly. Check those finished measurements!

If this is your first time making the pattern, I would strongly advise you to make a muslin mock-up of at least the bodice so you have a good idea of how the finished garment will fit. This gives you a good opportunity to make any necessary adjustments before cutting into your fabric. It’s also important if you’re sewing the version with the scoop back – I found the scoop came up higher than my bra band, and this may be the case for you as well. Can’t fix it once you’ve already sewn it up! For the muslin, you can make the whole dress if you’d like – but I just sew up the bodice and leave off any finishing. Pin the back shut as best you can to get a good assessment of the fit.

Once you’ve got your size and muslin done, THEN it’s time to cut your fabric! Refer to this post about cutting and marking fabric (also from last year’s OAL hahahaha sorry) if you need any help :) You will be following the cutting guidelines that are included in your pattern; make sure you follow them carefully so you cut the correct number of pieces. The side skirt piece should be cut TWICE on the double layer, for a total of 4 pieces.

OAL2015 - Cutting the back bodice

You may also want to consider adding a little extra fabric allowance below the scoop back, just to give yourself more bra coverage (I added about 1/2″). There is also a 5/8″ seam allowance there, and we’ll be sewing at 1/4″ to apply the bias, so keep that in mind as well. Your muslin will tell you exactly how much you need to add (if any at all!) to cover your bra band. Or maybe I just wear my bra band low, ha.

FINALLY, if you’re cutting stripes or plaids and need help matching – here’s another tutorial link for that. Man! I’m so glad I already wrote all these tutorials haha!

Ok, whew, I think that about covers it! Do you have any questions about the prep work that I haven’t covered in this post? Let me know before I ditch town on Thursday 6/4 and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can :) Have you chosen your fabric and yarn yet? Let’s have a look, please! :)

Completed: The Brumby Skirt

29 May

Raise your hand if you love Megan Nielsen and are excited about her return to printed patterns and the release of her new sewing app. All I can say is – YAAAAY!!!

Brumby Skirt

To celebrate these big launches, Megan also dropped a new pattern into the mix – the Brumby skirt. She asked me a few weeks ago if I’d like to try out/review the new pattern – as well as the app – and considering I’d been stalking this pattern for well over a year (it’s not too hard, since she kept posting teasers of it on Instagram!), I was all YAAASSS. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish the skirt – let alone post about it – before I leave for my trip next week, but curiosity got the better of me and I found myself dedicating an afternoon to Brumby Heaven.

Brumby Skirt

Brumby is a simple little gathered skirt pattern, with a couple special details to make it stand a step above your basic DIY-drafted-dirndl. For one, there’s those pockets. How good are those pockets?! They are nice and deep, and what really pleases me about them is how they kind of stick out away from the skirt and give it this interesting shape. The instructions also include how to insert an exposed zipper – which, honestly, I didn’t realize there was actually a specific method on how to do this. These instructions give you a nice clean finish and a strong zipper.

The skirt has a curved waistband with side seams, as well as options for varying amounts of fullness in the gathers and different hem lengths.

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

What I’ve always loved about Megan’s patterns is that there isn’t necessarily anything ground-breaking about the designs – it’s clean and simple design, the building blocks of your wardrobe, to be made in a myriad of different fabrics. There are special details to make the pattern stand out above all the other similar ones available on the market – such as the curved hi-lo hem of the Briar tshirt, or the floaty circle skirt of the Tania culottes, or even the awesome pockets in this skirt. The directions are clearly laid out so that even the earliest beginner can manage them, but they also lend themselves well to customization so even an advanced sewer can find joy in making them up.

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

To make my Brumby, I cut the size XS and sewed up Version 1. This version has less gathers and is intended for heavier fabrics, however, I used a pretty lightweight fabric in it’s place. I’m not a huge fan of gathers at my waist – I think they add bulk in weird spots and just don’t look very good on me – but I thought the wide waistband combined with less gathers in a lighter fabric would probably work. And I think it does! My fabric is a total stash-bust, leftover chambray that I used to make this shirt last year. I bought it locally here in Nashville at The Fabric Studio, and I’ve been hanging onto the remaining yardage because I wanted to make a floaty little summer skirt with it. It’s *very* lightweight chambray – like, voile lightweight. It’s borderline sheer – with my button up, I have to wear a nude bra or you can see everything underneath haha. Anyway, it has a lovely sheen and a nice drape and it’s soooo good to sew. Making it up into this skirt was a good idea. Sorry if it’s a little wrinkled – these photos were taken after a day of wearing it.

Oh! And I also made that top – it’s my very first Butterick 5526. I hated the length of the sleeves and never wore it, so I finally just cut them off and finished the raw edges with bias facing. Much more wearable now!

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

Back to Brumby! I knew I wanted topstitching, but chambray is notoriously hard to thread-match, and I didn’t want my topstitching to be the first thing you noticed when you saw the skirt. I actually ended up using denim thread to topstitch this – a lightweight denim thread, but denim thread nonetheless. It’s that weird blue/navy Gutterman thread that they sell with the denim thread. The variances in color were good enough that they went well with the blues in the fabric, and they contrast nicely but they don’t really stand out. The thread is light enough so it doesn’t make the topstitched areas hang weird, so that is nice. I used white all-purposed thread in the bobbin which also probably helped.

The topstitching goes all over the skirt – down the center front, down the side seams, around the pockets, across the hem, all around the waistband, and of course, holding the zipper into place. I wanted to offset the delicate, floaty fabric with a some casual construction, and this is it! All seams are topstitched at 1/4″. I just eyeballed it on my machine, but I think I’m pretty certain I want a 1/4″ foot next time I go to the Bernina store. Feeeeeeet♥

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

I am really happy with how nicely the zipper went in! Like I said, there are directions in the pattern for getting a good exposed zip – and I totally didn’t realize there’s a method to doing this. I put an exposed zip in one of my tops last year (and I totally thought about wearing that top with this skirt, peplum tucked in, but ughh it won’t work because there are 2 exposed zippers and they’re different metals and wah), but that was really a matter of pressing seam allowances back and topstitching the zipper in. Poor peplum top, didn’t even have a damn chance.

Brumby Skirt

I will be totally honest here and tell you that I tried the skirt on about 3/4 of the way through construction (after attaching the waistband, but before I put in the zipper) and I was COMPLETELY underwhelmed with how it looked on me. In fact, underwhelmed is too nice of a word – I hated it! It was extremely unflattering and the length made me look dumpy. Part of that was because the waistband was a little bit too big – big enough to slide around and not sit into place, and make me look wider than I am. I did some quick waistband surgery to remove about 1/4″ total from the side seams, and then I took another 1/4″ out of the zipper seams when I was inserting it. That was enough to make the waistband fitted, but not so fitted that it’s uncomfortable.

The length was another issue – I just don’t do midis, and while I did cut the pattern for the mini, there’s a huge-ass hem included so it was really long before that got turned up. I know midis are ~in~ right now, and you can tell me all you want that they might even be flattering on me – but I’m all legs when it comes to skirt length and I just.can’t.do.it. Honestly, I didn’t really love this skirt on me until the hem was turned up and topstitched into place – and then I was twirling around my sewing room in excitement like a big dork. It’s funny how much the hem can affect how something looks. Anyway, that’s a big part of the reason why my hem is serged and topstitched – I wasn’t if I’d love the finished skirt, so didn’t want to spend tooo much time on the last steps. At any rate, the serging matches the rest of the guts so whatev.

Birthday Brumby!

Sooo in the end, I loved the finished skirt so much that I wore it for my last hurrah of my 20s. Notes about this picture:
– That’s not what you think it is in my hand. It’s hot chicken.
– I love Giorgia Tsoukalos.
– And America.
– And also aliens.
– My coworkers at Elizabth Suzann are awesome and know how to throw (me)the best parties.

Megan Nielsen app

Before I jump off here, let’s talk about the Megan Nielsen Patterns app!

I will admit – other than my love for sewing blogs, I’m a bit of a paper girl when it comes to sewing media. I like paper patterns and I like having hard copies of the instructions that I can scribble notes (and mustaches) all over. While I think this app is a completely brilliant idea and may very well be the future of sewing patterns – I wasn’t sure if it would actually be useful to me (I’m old-fashioned in that sense, and I’m ok with it). However, I was willing to try it. For science. Also, it’s a free app soooo it’s not like I had anything to lose if I ended up hating it.

Megan Nielsen app

Megan Nielsen app

The main drive behind the app is basically digitizing the instructions you get with your pattern (paper or PDF). Everything from the required materials, to the cutting layouts, to each step of the instructions (cataloged in a way that’s easy to get straight to the section you need, instead of relying on the Endless Scroll) is included in the app. There are also options within the app (and each individual pattern) to view other people’s makes of this pattern, customization suggestions, and links to the tutorials that may be useful while constructing the garment.

Megan Nielsen app

While I probably won’t switch out my paper instructions for digital (again, mustaches), I actually do find bits of this app useful! It’s SUPER handy to have when you’re shopping and need to reference a material’s list – in the past, I’d scribble everything down on paper (all right, I still do that. No shame!), but then you lose your paper, or you find that perfect fabric that doesn’t go with anything on your “make” list, or you forget that you also needed a zipper. I love the tutorial links, as I do use a computer to look up things while I’m sewing – but more often than not, I end up spiraling down this long internet rabbit hole, where I click on links on links on links and then I forget that I was sewing! Lame! So it’s nice to have a direct link in the app, where I can go straight to the tutorial, get the info I need, and get back to the task at hand. Another thing I love about the app is that you can access any tutorial/instructions for any pattern that you own – which is awesome for when I’m using a Megan Nielsen step in a different pattern, such as stealing her Briar neckline binding for my traced tshirts. In the past, I’d just pull the paper instructions out – but I’m always afraid I’m going to lazy out and forget to put them away and eventually lose them (I mean, it must happen – I think about all those vintage patterns we buy that have the wrong instructions or extra pattern pieces in them. Yep!). With the app, everything is in one place and I can quickly find it. So I like that!

And there are notes sections in the app, for scribbling, but no places that I see where you can doodle on the croquis faces.

Anyway, you can read more about the app in this post and download it in the iTunes store FOR FREE. Those of y’all on Andriods – it’s coming! Don’t worry!

Brumby Skirt

In other news, thanks for all your tips on dealing with my caffeine withdrawals! I am happy to report that I was feeling MUCH better yesterday – no more weird body aches, no more tiredness. I found some great uncaffeinated teas and I only miss coffee the tiniest bit now :) To those of y’all who suggested that I drink decaf – I’m not opposed to decaf (and I drank about a cup a day while weaning off the hardcore stuff), but it does have trace amounts of caffeine in it, and my whole goal was to eliminate the stuff 100%. Mostly to see if I could :P

*Note: Megan Nielsen provided this pattern to me free of charge, in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own!

Completed: Ikat Maritime Shorts

26 May

Good morning, everyone! I hope y’all had a nice weekend – we spent the holiday driving back from the beach, which was AWESOME – well, the beach I mean, not the drive, ha – but I’m soo happy to be home! Apparently, my cat spent the entire time sulking downstairs and trying to attack my roommate when she would try to feed her. Great job, cat. And you wonder why no one wants to be your friend :|

ANYWAY, now that the summer heat is in full swing round these parts, I’ve really started rolling with my warm-weather wardrobe. Beginning with shorts, obviously, because ain’t no way I’m trying to wear pants in this humidity.

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

The pattern I used is the Maritime Shorts from Grainline Studio. I have a long history with this pattern – having made shorts with crazy colors, home decor weight fabric, bicycles, and even some failed jorts. This is a good little workhorse of a pattern, and I love the modern, clean cut (which kind of reminds me of something you’d pull from a JCrew catalog, especially in a printed fabric like those bikes!). They’re also REALLY easy to whip up, Ikat fabric notwithstanding, and can be squeezed out of a fairly paltry yardage. All good things, in my book!

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Since I’ve made these so many times before, there’s not too much to comment on construction or fit. I made my usual size, although it needed a bit of pulling in due to my fabric choice (more on that in a sec). I used stretch interfacing for the waistband and fly pieces and shortened the hem as much as I could before the pockets threatened to poke out. Most seams are serged, although there are a few flat-felled seams in where I could manage it. Oh! I also used both of my machines to make this – one threaded with white, one with navy. This meant that I didn’t have to change out the thread over and over, as I did with the skirt. Made sewing these shorts go a LOT faster!

When it came time to sew the fly zipper, I skipped over Jen’s instructions and followed the ones for the Thurlow pants (you can see my sewalong post for those steps here). I don’t know what it is, but the included fly instructions don’t make a lick of sense to me. This seems to be the case for about 50% of sewers who make these shorts – some people think the instructions are awesome, and some of us are just sitting there scratching our butts, confused as shit. Obviously I fall into the latter. Anyway, it’s easy to swap out the directions with something that makes a little more sense to you, so in my case, it’s Thurlow. All good!

Ikat Maritime Shorts

If this fabric looks familiar, it’s because I’ve used it before – on another Grainline pattern, no less. This is a stretch cotton twill that I bought from Mood Fabrics aaaaages ago – and have been hanging onto ever since, mostly because I had to work up the courage before I attempted pattern matching again! As with the Moss Mini, pattern matching these shorts was a total and complete bitch. I cut everything on the single layer, but even then it was really really difficult. Matching plaids and stripes is pretty easy – I could do that shit in my sleep at this point – but I had it in my head that I needed to match the print like freaking wallpaper for this piece, so the Ikat pattern runs seamlessly all the way around. I actually did manage to do just that, but not without wasting a shit load of fabric – seriously, I think I started out without about 2 yards, and I just barely had enough to match the back pockets by the time I was done. I kept mis-cutting and it was extremely frustrating. Of course, I have more Ikat lurking in my stash and I’m just side-eyeing it with terror now. I don’t know if I can deal anymore. I just don’t know.

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Anyway, I’m happy with how everything turned out – it was totally worth the effort. You’ll notice that my print-matching is not 100% – especially at the center back. This is because I used a twill with a heavy stretch, which rendered the shorts waaaay too big when I sewed them with the normal 1/2″ seam allowance included in the pattern. I tried them on before attaching the waistband, so it was easy to nip in the sides until I got a closer fit, but that meant I had to sacrifice some of my perfect print-matching. The Ikat still runs in a straight line, which is good – it’s just a little interrupted at the sides. The center back looks like a vortex leading straight to hell, but there’s really not much I can do about that, so whatever. At least the back pockets are good, ha.

All in all, I think I pinched out about 1″ off each side before the shorts were finally the right size. Again, this is due to the stretch in the fabric. I’d normally size down for this sort of thing, but I sewed the smallest size so that wasn’t really an option.

I don’t have much else to say about this project, so here are some pictures.

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

(I totally sewed the hook & eye on with pink thread – I am pretending like it’s a design feature, but in all honesty it’s because I already had a needle threaded with pink thread and I didn’t feel like changing out to white. Ha!)

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Notice that the bottom of the fly shield is unfinished – I sewed it in upside-down on accident. This seems to be a running theme for fly shields+me, as it certainly isn’t the first time I’ve made this mistake. Oh well.

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ok, I guess that’s it! So happy to finally bite the bullet and put that Ikat to good use. These shorts turned out really awesome, and they’re much more wearable than the mini skirt was (it’s hard for me to justify wearing something if I can’t comfortably sit on the floor with it on). And they look great with my new coral button-up, so bonus!

In other news, I recently decided to quit drinking coffee for the next couple of weeks – I felt like my caffeine dependency was getting out of hand, so I wanted to try to 0 out and start new. Omg you guys, it is REALLY hard! I am fortunate not to have any withdrawal headaches, but instead I’m just tired and listless and feel a little depressed, which is weird. I’ve also taken way too many naps over the weekend. I’m hoping things will balance out soon and I’ll feel back to my normal self but – ugh. So pardon me if I seem irritable – I’m just under-caffeinated! In the meantime, if you have any tips to help me ease out of this ~trying time~ in my life, I’m open to suggestions! I mostly just miss the taste of coffee. It was like getting a warm hug in the morning.

Completed: The Burdastyle Alison Swimsuit

21 May

Oh hells yes it’s time for another swimsuit. SWIMSUITS FOREVERRRRR.

Alison Swimsuit

I actually finished this a couple weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting it. Whoops! This is swimsuit #2 of my summer swim gear (if you missed #1, you can see it here). Not that my old swimsuits needed to be replaced (I have three in addition to what I’ve made this year – one two three –  yep, all my swimsuits are handmade at this point. Livin’ the dream!), but they’re REALLY fun to make! Can’t stop, won’t stop.

In fact, I have a third one already cut. No idea when I’ll get to that one, but its my American Flag Bikini Fit for a Beer Commerical, soooo hopefully sooner than later, ha. That is the suit that will be necessary for lazy days floating down the river.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

So anyway, let’s talk about the swimsuit at hand. This particular goody is the Alison swimsuit from Burdastyle. This is I think maybe the second Burdastyle pattern I’ve ever sewn (the first was a Bombshell dress – which I don’t know if that *really* counts, because I followed an online course to make it so I wasn’t at the mercy of the instructions). I know they’re kind of a rite of passage for a lot of us sewers who thrive on the internet, but I’ve never been a huge fan of PDFs (hate taping them, hate storing them, bleeech) and I’ve heard horror stories about the ones that come out of Burdastyle. Most of the patterns don’t include seam allowances, and pretty much everybody complains about the instructions, or lack thereof. I’ve done pretty well with getting the looks I want from patterns that don’t have these issues, so skipping the BS (lol that abbreviation) hasn’t been a huge issue. Until I saw this swimsuit, anyway, and realized that I was gonna have to woman up and make shit happen.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison is a cute little retro-inspired one piece swimsuit, with a halter neck, gathered bust section, and a healthy bit of butt coverage. While this would be a REALLY cute style for pretty much all sizes and shapes, it unfortunately only comes in sizes S, M & L. I would guess it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to grade up another size or two – the few pieces in the pattern are all pretty simple – but I’d definitely make a mock-up first if you decide to go that route. I’m actually between sizes according to the size chart, so I just traced a line right between the Small and Medium and used that as my ~custom Lauren size~. Worked out pretty well, I think!

While I did not make any fit alterations to this pattern – there are a LOT of reviews that the body of the suit is really really short. I’m pretty petite and everything fits quite well, both length and width wise, which is good because I didn’t see those reviews until after I’d cut out the suit. Also, if you’re thinking about making this pattern – the seam allowances ARE included! Praise the Lord!

The instructions, on the other hand. Woof.

Alison Swimsuit

In all honesty, this almost ended up being The Swimsuit That Never Was, because the instructions are pretty confusing and hard to decipher! When I first downloaded the pattern, I noticed that there were a couple pages of instructions as well as some photos. I thought that was pretty awesome and I felt confident that this pattern would not live up to the Burdastyle tales of caution (especially since, like I said, it was fancy enough to have the seam allowances included). THIS WAS ALL A LIE. The instructions don’t make a lick of sense, at least not from what I could tell, and there aren’t any notches or markings to help you assemble the pieces together (which can sometimes save a shitty set of instructions). I spent a lot of time pin-basting pieces together, re-opening the PDF instructions and zooming in on pictures, reading the complaint comments on the Burdastyle site (had I read those first, I probably wouldn’t have even attempted this shit, tbh) and feeling sorry for myself for wasting a perfectly good piece of black swimsuit lycra.

Fortunately, a bit of googling around led me to this blog post with instruction clarification, as well as a list of the steps needed to actually put together the damn swimsuit. Of course, as of this writing (you know, a whole 2 weeks later), it appears that the post has been taken down so unfortunately that’s not really gonna help anyone. And being as how I made of this suit flying by the seat of my pants, I don’t really remember the specific steps needed to actually finish the damn thing. SORRY, I’M LIKE THE MOST UNHELPFUL BLOGGER EVER GAH. To be fair, the only really confusing part for me was the gathered bodice – because of the lack of pattern markings, I couldn’t figure out which way to fold it or where to sew my gathering stitches. Once I figured that out (it gets folded in half vertically, fyi – so it perfectly fits in the front suit scoop without being stretched), the rest of the suit was pretty easy to figure out. If you’ve sewn a swimsuit before and understand how to insert the elastic and all that, then you can probably figure this one out.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

The black swimsuit lycra I used is old from my stash. I also lined the entire suit, except for the gathered bodice (which is self-lined by folding back one big piece of lycra after gathering). I was able to squish some swimsuit-friendly cups in the bodice before closing it up – this was as easy as trying the suit on before sewing the lining closed, positioning the cups, and then zigzagging them into place. The original pattern back strap is supposed to tie closed, but I don’t like having big lumps on my back sooo I just cut it as one piece and connected to both sides of the back. I wish I’d had the foresight to position the strap so that it doesn’t cross over the back binding and instead goes under it, but, eh, hindsight is 20/20 and at least I know for next time. The halter closes with a swimsuit hook, rather than tying because, again, don’t like having big lumps on my back.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

Here are some flat/inside shots. I would have loved to have a hook that wasn’t bright white, but white was what I had in my stash so I made do with (not that you can even really see it when I’m wearing it, anyway). The lining I’m especially proud of – I was able to origami the whole thing so that the only exposed seams are the side seams up by the bust. Everything else is encased within the lining, yay! The leg holes are finished with swimsuit elastic and topstitched with a zigzag stitch.

ANYWAY, all construction issues aside – the pattern itself is pretty all right, and I’m happy with how it eventually turned out! I’ve always wanted a black retro-style bathing suit, so I can lay on the beach with my fancy adult beverage and floppy sun hat and feel like a Classy Lady, and I feel like this suit really fits that image to a T (me in the suit, now that’s another discussion for another day, ha!). I can’t wait to try my suits out at the beach this weekend. This suit feels pretty secure and like it won’t have any wardrobe malfunctions, but I always get a little nervous the first time I wear a handmade swimsuit out. You never know what’s going to decide to disintegrate once it hits the water and leave you nakey on the beach. Not that that’s EVER happened to me (or anyone I know, for that matter), but I have a healthy fear nonetheless haha.

Alison Swimsuit

In other news – it’s my birthday today! Yay!! I’m celebrating the dirty 30 this year, and I’m pretty happy to finally be able to say good-bye to my 20s. My early 20s were a total shitshow, my mid-20s were basically me rebelling against myself, and my late 20s have been spent cleaning up the mess I left in my own wake. I feel pretty good about this new decade and I’ll be celebrating it good and proper with my BFF when we’re in Peru next month! (have I been talking about Peru too much? Whatever, dudes, I’ve been planning this trip for a year! Sorry, not sorry! ahhahaahaha!).

Hope y’all have a lovely weekend! I’m beach-bound as of tomorrow morning, and I cannot WAIT.

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