Completed: A Lacy Georgia (+ a giveaway!)

19 Feb

As much as I’m not really one for ~celebrating~ Valentine’s Day (I’ll take the flowers and the steak dinner, though, thanks!), I *love* the excuse it gives me to make a new dress specially for going out. Last year I wore red lace, this year I decided to go with… lace again. Except this time, I thought I’d ramp up the knockout factor with some black lace and a form-fitting, By Hand London-approved shape.

Georgia dress

So. Meet Georgia.

Georgia dress

When the girls at BHL HQ asked me if I wanted a copy of their newest pattern, I did not hesitate to scream YUSSSS and start prowling the Mood Fabrics site for a perfect lace. I knew I wanted to experiment with emerald underlining black lace (when I was still working for Muna, we had made a swing coat for a client in a similar color scheme and I looooved looking at that thing. LOVED it. Unfortunately, the client didn’t want photos taken of her even though she’s totally gorgeous, so you’ll just have to use your imagination here), so I snapped up this Anna Suit stretch lace and emerald cotton sateen and immediately set to work.

Georgia dress

The prep work for assembling this dress was definitely a labor of love – I underlined every single piece of lace with the green cotton sateen, using long basting stitches and silk thread, by hand. I kept the pieces flat on my tabletop so they wouldn’t shift around, and I bribed myself with episodes of the X-Files while I sewed (two, in case you were curious) (speaking of which, whyyyy didn’t anyone ever tell me about the X-Files?? I’ve just discovered it and I’m OBSESSED! It’s like watching Ancient Aliens, except with a 90s love story. omg.). As I sewed each piece together to assemble the dress, I removed the basting stitches (this is where silk thread comes in handy; it just slides right out effortlessly!) and serged the edges separately so the seam allowances could be pressed open.

Georgia dress
Georgia dress - stabilizing neckline

I used twill tape to stabilize the top edges of the cups, so they would curve against my body and not stretch out over time. This is one of those really easy techniques that takes barely any time at all, but give you fabulous results. You basically do the same method as you would for taping the roll line on a coat – cut the twill tape to the length of the neckline minus 1/4″, then place it inside the seam allowance, up against the seam line. Since the tape is shorter than the neckline, the neckline gets eased into the length of the tape and then stitched down (inside the seam allowance). That’s it! So easy! So effective!

Georgia dress
Georgia dress

I’m really happy with how the hem turned out – I knew I wanted the scallops to roll all the way around the dress, with a wide hem of solid green below (similar to the aforementioned coat). Since the skirt has 6 panels to give it it’s shape, cutting the lace required some forethought and a lot of head-scratching. I’m happy to report that my scallops ended up pretty close to perfect – they go all the way around the hem uninterrupted, even at the zipper! Yeah!! Totally worth that extra effort.

Georgia dress

I changed up the construction of the straps because my fabric was too bulky to pull right side out. Instead, I treated them like belt looks – finished one edge, folded the strap into thirds, and slipstitched everything together. As a result, my straps are really secure and I think they look great!

Georgia dress

The only part about the dress that I’m not happy with is the bodice size – despite my muslin, it ended up toooo small! Whoops! Thankfully, it’s totally wearable (the smallness is in where the bottom seam hits, not in a scandalously-low way or anything), and it’s not terribly noticeable in real life, thanks to the lace. But it’s there, I know it’s there, and next time I will be giving this lady a big ol’ FBA.

Also, in case you were wondering – I can wear my dress with or without a bra. It’s fitted enough to give me some support without a bra, but it also works fine with a strapless bra.

Georgia dress
Georgia dress

What I love most about this dress, though, is the 90s throwback style. It really looks like I’m wearing a Cher Horowitz-approved, super fancy slip. The whole time I was making this dress, this scene from Clueless kept running through my head:

HAHA! But seriously – someone make this shit up in white silk! DO IT NOW!

Georgia dress
Georgia dress
Georgia dress

The pattern itself was very easy to follow, even with my added changes. I made the size 2/6, with the skinny straps and the mini hemline. Just a warning – it is pretty short! If you are considering the mini and you are not a petite person, you may want to consider lengthening it. I personally did not have to make any sizing alterations to the pattern, but like I said earlier, I will be doing a FBA for the next round.

Georgia dress

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Ok, so here’s the prize if you made it through to the end of this post – the gals at By Hand London graciously sent me an extra copy of the pattern, so let’s have a giveaway! If you’d like to win your very own copy of the Georgia dress pattern, simply comment on this post and let me know what fabric you’ll use to make it up. That’s it! This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the entries next Wednesday February 26, 2014 at 8AM CST.
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Good luck! Here’s a bonus picture of me and Landon on Valentine’s Day, smug wine smiles and all~

Valentine's Day!

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Completed: A Snuggly White Hoodie

17 Feb

Oh my god, I love this hoodie.

White Hoodie

Remember that stripey hoodie I made last year with a sacrificed RTW hoodie that I ripped up to use as the pattern? I LOVE that thing – I wear it allll the time – but it’s a bit lightweight for winter. I mean, the fabric is a very flimsy jersey knit. I knew I wanted to make something with a bit more heft and warmth to it, but every fabric in my stash just seemed… wrong.

White Hoodie

Then I bought that ridiculous chunk o’ yardage of ivory jersey from Mood and I was like, YES. White hoodie it is!

White Hoodie
White Hoodie

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE. This isn’t just any ol’ white hoodie – this is a white hoodie that has been lined in fluffy faux sherpa, at the pockets and the hood, for extra warmth and snuggliness!

White Hoodie

I bought sherpa remnant while I was in Chicago last year, at the Vogue Fabric Store (Here is it on their website, I think). I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I knew it had to come home with me! After seeing how great it looked next to the ivory knit, I knew I’d found a match made in heaven.

Since the sherpa only has a slight stretch to it, I knew I couldn’t use it for anything that was dependent on being stretchy – i.e., the body or the sleeves. This left the hood and the front pockets, both of which I lined. I cut the pattern pieces from both the knit and the sherpa, giving the sherpa an extra seam allowance at the hemmed edge. After sewing the pieces together, the smaller size of the knit meant that it easily pushed inside the lining, so I had a cute ~sherpa edge~ on the hem of my front pockets and the edge of my hood.

“But Lauren,” you might be thinking, “isn’t sherpa hard to sew? Don’t you need to use a special leather needle or risk blowing up your machine?” Naw! Not even! My sherpa is pretty thin, even with the suede backing, so it sewed up fine with a ballpoint needle (normally I would have opted for a universal needle, but we are dealing with knits on the other side here) and serged effortlessly. It also wasn’t quite as messy as other faux furs I’ve used – no fur tumbleweeds blowing around in my sewing room or anything! – but be warned that it does still shed. I was wearing my Lola Sweater Dress  while working on this and by the time I was finished, I looked like I had crawled through a snowstorm. So, you know, maybe invest in a lint roller or something.

White Hoodie

I topstitched down around the perimeter of the hood hem, which turned the sherpa into a casing where I could insert a drawstring and some little sherpa pom poms. I mean, if you’re gonna go all out – you should go all out, yeah?

Pom poms are SO easy to make, by the way!

White Hoodie - pom pom

Cut a circle out of your fabric (cut it bigger than you think you should) and baste all the way around with a long running stitch.

White Hoodie - pom pom
White Hoodie - pom pom

Gently pull one thread tail to gather, and the circle will form itself into a ball.

White Hoodie - pom pom

Before fully closing the ball, you will want to stuff it so it has some body. You can use polyfill or just fabric scraps – I decided to use some of my leftover tiger jersey because I thought it would be a fun little secret ;)

White Hoodie - pom pom

Finally, just fold gathered raw edges under and sew across the top several times, pulling the thread tight (but not so tight that it snaps!) until the hole is closed. Not pictured but you should do this anyway: make sure you put your drawstring in the hole before you close it up! I first tied a giant knit at the end of mine so it wouldn’t pull out.

White Hoodie
White Hoodie

Pom poms + sherpa = best hoodie ever

White Hoodie

This hoodie was one of those weird experiments that I wasn’t sure was going to work out until the very end – the front pockets are pretty thick, thanks to the sherpa, and the hood fits a bit tighter than normal because of the multiple layers. But I really LOVE the way it turned out! Exactly as I imagined!

White Hoodie

The only question (and the only thing I didn’t think through before plowing ahead): Um. How does one wash suede-backed sherpa?

White Hoodie
White Hoodie

Here are some less blown-out close-ups. Man, this thing was hard to photograph! I tried taking the pictures in my living room so it wouldn’t be quite as bright, but it’s still hard to see the details.

White Hoodie

One thing that really upped the luxe factor of this hoodie (or, as luxe as a hoodie can get, I guess!) is the zipper I used. Instead of going to Joann and getting a plastic white zipper like I usually would, I went to my Bernina store and bought one of those special gold metal zippers that costs like $8. Ha! It’s not quite as fancy as a Riri zipper, but it’s the best thing I could find locally ;) I think it really adds a nice touch and makes the hoodie look super professional!

White Hoodie

To get the zipper in was a bit fiddly, since I had so many layers going on at the pockets. I basted the layers together by machine, folded the edges under and fused stitch witchery in between to keep everything in place. I sewed the zipper in with two lines of straight stitching – the closest line going right up against the zipper. I used a walking foot and a ball point needle so the fabric did not move around at all.

White Hoodie

There are those pom poms again! Ha! I LOVE them! :D

White Hoodie

Leaving y’all with this picture because it’s so amazing. What am I even doing here, I have no idea, but it makes me laugh every time I see it.

Psssss- I just got wind that the Great British Sewing Bee is casting for Season 3! Ahh!! I know I said I don’t like participating in sewing contests, but were I qualified for this one I would be ALL over it like white on rice! Which means, if you DO qualify – go on and let us live vicariously through you! Do it do it!

Completed: The Ensis Tee

13 Feb

I feel like such a bad friend, but I’ve hardly managed to make a ding in my stack of Constellation patterns from Papercut Patterns. Not for lack of inspiration – I have plans for almost every pattern in that horde – but a lack of time. Well, I guess time isn’t such a bad issue now, huh? :) YAY TIME TO GET SEWING.

Ensis Tee - stripes

So here’s the first of the series – the Ensis Tee! Actually, hush hush, but this is the second Ensis Tee I’ve sewn – the first one, I tried to use pieced fabric scraps to make the yoke up and it just ended up a mess of mismatched seams. It’s super comfy, though, so I wear it as loungewear :)

Ensis Tee - stripes

Ensis Tee - stripes

I really love the colorblocking effects with this pattern – I have so many ideas that I want to put into action! Like making it into a colorblocked turtleneck or cutting the yoke out of lace. Such a great little basic pattern!

Ensis Tee - stripes

For this particular Ensis, I used more my stripey ponte from the making of my Stripy Lady Skater, and the matching ivory ponte for the colorblock at the top. I also managed to cut out a Renfrew with the tiny bit of remaining yardage left, so expect one more garment out of this amazing fabric. What? Don’t look at me like that.

Ensis Tee - stripes

I cut the size XXS and the only alteration I made was a nip the waist in just a tiny bit for some added shape. My original Ensis was made using a very drapey Merino wool and the unaltered size is perfect, but when the fabric has a bit more body, you may need to add a little bit more shaping or else run the risk of looking boxy.

Ensis Tee - stripes

Ensis Tee - stripes

I also shortened the sleeves a little, as the originals were too long with the addition of the cuffs. You can’t see too well in these pictures, but the hem is slightly curved. I finished that with a simple twin-needle stitch – the rest of the shirt is sewn entirely on the serger. Yess!

Ensis Tee - stripes

I mostly like this top because I think it makes my boobs look big. There, I said it.

Ensis Tee - stripes

Ensis Tee - stripes

Ok, FINE, I reckon we can now address the elephant in the room – my hair! What is UP with my hair?!

Ensis Tee - stripes

I told y’all it was bright orange!

Ensis Tee - stripes

So, this is phase 1 of a two-part hair makeover. I had it bleached out last week at the salon (my salon does a training program that needed a bleach model, which means I got this done for a STEAL. srsly, srsly cheap), but I haven’t had a chance to deposit my color on it yet – hopefully this weekend. YES, it’s very orange – I had old box color already on my hair, which makes for unpredictable bleaching results. This was as light as we could go without really damaging my hair, and it’s fine for what I have planned. YES, I am aware that orange is not the most flattering color for my complexion, and I don’t intend to leave it like this for forever (although it’s kind of fun right now, not gonna lie!). I’m now working a job that doesn’t require a natural hair color as part of the dress code, so I jumped at the opportunity to do something weird with my hair. It’s just hair, it’ll grow back!

Ensis Tee - stripes

Also, say hello to my sewing room! The winter has been wretched cold, but with enough random warm days scattered throughout so I was able to squeeze in some outside photos from time to time. We’re right in the midst of another below-freezing week, so I’m back to shooting in my sewing room :)

Completed: Simplicity 2145

10 Feb

Happy Monday, everyone! I have some good news and I have some bad news. The bad news is – I didn’t make it through the first round of Project Sewn. Bummer! Although, I’ll be honest right now – as soon as I saw who I was competing up against, I immediately figured I’d be one of the first to go :) On the flip side, my girl Oona made it as the winner for the first round! YAY OONA GET IT GIRL. Can’t wait to get some celebratory drinks with you when I’m in NYC next month!

Speaking of my short stint with Project Sewn – I’ve received lots of sweet messages and comments since I was eliminated, and I am absolutely floored by all the support. Aw! You guys! I think some of you were more upset about the elimination than I was :) I’m actually a tiny bit relieved to have that heavy workload off my shoulders. I’m not gonna lie – it was tough trying to coordinate all that sewing (for PS, as well some other ~secret~ side projects, stuff for the Mood Sewing Network, not to mention this blog!), and it got a bit stressful. SO MANY UFOS ALL OVER MY SEWING ROOM. Which is certainly a first world problem, don’t get me wrong, but it is what it is. I really don’t know if sewing contests are for me at this point – I always feel too rushed when I’m making my shizz, and half the time I end up with something that isn’t up to my personal standards. I really loved participating in Project Sewn, and I don’t regret my decision to join one bit, but but I think from here on out, I’ll be staying out of contests like that :)

So, anyway, the GOOD news – my pink dress is already finished and photographed, and since I’m not one to let a perfectly good project go to waste, I’ll be showing y’all a whole DAY earlier than originally planned. Woohoo!

Simplicity 2145

The color is a deep magenta, although it looks quite red in these photos.

Simplicity 2145

This is Simplicity 2145, which is one of those ~be your own designers~ Project Runway patterns. I’m just going to throw this out there – I don’t like the PR patterns. Sorry! The drafting is fine for what it is, but the method of construction (and instructions) is usually pretty subpar in my experience. I suppose the drafting is more important than the instructions (ok, I KNOW the drafting is more important than the instructions, ha), but they are generally intended for “emerging designers” and I think they just set a bad example. I’ve sewn lots of these patterns in the past – they usually have some neat style lines that I don’t find replicated in other patterns – and if I was dealing with those instructions as a beginner, I think I’d give up on sewing entirely. Lots of unfinished edges, missing information (I can’t remember the particular pattern, but I do recall one that spent 3 paragraphs explaining how to sew a dart, and then forgot to tell you to close the side seams. Really!), and the yardage requirements are waaaay too generous.

I guess my point is – if you want to sew these patterns, great, but make sure you have a good instruction book close by. That is all.

Simplicity 2145

ANYWAY, back to the matter at hand – I think this particular dress turned out great! I really love the front wrap and the pleated skirt, and I think it’s a cute (and flattering!) look. I believe this pattern was intended to be a knockoff of Princess Kate’s engagement dress, although let’s all take a moment to acknowledge that she looks 1000x better in hers than I do. Must be the silk jersey ;)

Simplicity 2145

My version is made from wool crepe, which I picked up at Textile Discount Outlet while I was in Chicago last year. It was cheap, too – I think I paid less than $10 a yard for it (and it’s pure wool, according to my burn test. Nice!). I used a scrap of baby pink Bemberg Rayon to underline the bodice, and left the skirt unlined (only because that’s all the lining I had). I decided to go with underlining because the thought of trying to draft a lining for this style gave me a headache, haha. Underlining also meant that I got to keep the facings without there being a lot of bulk. I like facings.

Simplicity 2145

One thing I will warn y’all about this pattern is that it runs LARGE – like, super duper large! Holy shit! According to Simplicity’s size chart, I should be wearing a size 10. Well, I know how much they (and the rest of the Big 4) looove to make things way too fucking big, so I double-checked those finished measurements and ended up sewing the 4. So freaking ridiculous!

On the flip side, I didn’t have to make many adjustments to get a good fit. I did make a muslin – this has become a very regular thing for me (more so than usual) because I’ve learned that my posture means the back is too large at the top and needs a flat pattern adjustment. So I have to muslin everything I make now. It’s a pain for sure, but I will admit that it is REALLY nice to not have a big gape at the back of my neck! This one didn’t need much of an adjustment – I did a 3/8″ rounded back adjustment, and the fit at the back is pretty much spot-on now. The only other alteration I made was to shorten the sewn-down part of the skirt tucks. They were a little too long on me and it just looked weird.

Simplicity 2145

The dress also has two tucks at the back, which upon viewing these pictures appears to hit a somewhat unflattering spot right above my ass. Oops.

Also, for some reason, I had a DEVIL of a time inserting that invisible zipper. I don’t know why – invisible zips don’t really give me much trouble! – but my feed dogs were trying to make it gather on one side. So weird! I’ve since inserted several invisible zips, and they go in flawlessly. I don’t know if it had something to do with the wool crepe or what. If you super zoom into this photo (which, I mean, uh, don’t. Haha), you can see that my waistline seam at the zipper is off by about 1/4″. That was the closest I could get it, after ripping the zip out like 4 times. Stupid zipper!

Simplicity 2145

Another thing I don’t care much for about this dress is that the sleeves are SUPER tight and it’s difficult to raise my arms very high. So it’s ok for wearing if I’m going to be sitting all day/not moving around, but that’s about it. I need to rip them out and reinsert them and see if that helps. I’ve been told that if the sleeve isn’t eased in the right areas, it can make it difficult to move your arms, but I was pretty careful about that while I was setting these in. I’m thinking it might be another pattern adjustment that I need to address, because it happens a lot to me. Anyone have a suggestion on what I should be looking for? The armhole is high enough (I believe) and the circumference around my bicep is the correct size, so I’m not sure where to go from here, or even what to research.

Simplicity 2145

Sleeve issues aside, the rest of the dress is right up my style alley. You can get a better idea of the true color here – it’s a very rich, deep pink, and it looks super fabulous with all the wool crepe-y texture.

Simplicity 2145

Simplicity 2145

Simplicity 2145

Wish I’d actually had the correct thread color on hand – I had a pale pink, which in retrospect was a horrible decision (you can sort of see it at some seams when I’m wearing the garment, ugh), but at least it matches the lining, I guess?

Simplicity 2145

Oh yeah, and if you were wondering why my hair looks SO good in these pictures – I’d just had a haircut and that blowout they gave me was LEGIT. God, I wish I could afford regular blowouts haha! As it stands right now, my hair doesn’t even look like this anymore. I had it bleached last week, and now it’s neon orange. More on that later ;)

A couple things before I dip outta here:
- Remember Joanna Baker, she of the sweet sewing prints giveaway? Well, I just heard back from her (she’s been busy getting married since then!) and she has listed the 3 sewing prints in her shop for a limited time. I know some people were interested in purchasing them, so if that’s you – here are the dressform, button collection and thread prints.
- Also, She’ll Make You Flip is currently offering a nice discount – use the code VALENTINE25 for 25% off your entire purchase, good through 2/24/14! Someone should go buy this and hang it on their wall, because that is EXACTLY what I would do with that pattern. Ok ok, in all seriousness, how cute is this pattern?? AND IT’S IN MY SIZE. EEP, my neverending quest for the perfect stripe fabric continues!

Project Sewn: Hello, Dolly!

4 Feb

All right, dudes and dudettes – Project Sewn is up and running! This first week, the theme is Style Icon.

I’m just gonna be real with y’all – as soon as I saw that challenge, my personal motto started rolling through my head. The thing is – I don’t have a style icon. I honestly don’t have a person (or designer, or whatever) who I use as inspiration for my outfits. I mean, I like the way lots of celebrities dress and I’m no stranger to the siren song of a good Joan Holloway outfit, but as far as picking a particular person… naw. I don’t even know, y’all. In the end, I decided to go with someone who I admire as a person who just happens to have amazing style….

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Dolly Parton!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I mean, who doesn’t love Dolly, amirite? She’s such an incredibly smart, funny, generous – and not to mention talented as HELL – woman… a true icon in my book. Speaking of books, have you ever read her memoir, My Life and Other Unfinished Business? Or heard about her program Imagination Library, which sends free books to kids to get them excited about reading? Or, hell, have you been to Dollywood?? This woman, she is amazing. She’s not just a style icon for me – she’s a real life icon, the kind of person I want to emulate.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Plus, Dolly (specifically circa 60s-70s) was no stranger to an overly decorated/borderline tacky western shirt. And, dammit, I wanted a western shirt! I’ve actually been looking for an excuse to sew one for years.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I made my entire outfit, obviously, but let’s talk about the shirt first. My fabric is a tiny check gingham seersucker from Mood. I used the Archer as my base pattern (lol, poor Jen, probably never thought her pattern would get used to make this sort of monstrosity SORRY JEN I LOVE YOUR PATTERN THO), and made a few modifications, beyond my normal ones of changing the sleeve placket, narrowing the side seams, and a different method for attaching the collar and collar stand. There’s quite a bit of piping, since we all know it’s not a real western shirt without gratuitous amounts of piping.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Adding the piping was really fun, and definitely adds some pizazz to an otherwise plain shirt. The piping at the back yoke and top of the sleeve cuffs was easy – I just sewed it along the seam allowance before attaching the other pieces. For the front yoke, I had to do a little bit of drafting and figuring out – I ended up tracing the front piece and cutting off where I wanted the yoke to hit (right above the pockets) and then drew my scallops with a french curve. To attach the piping, I first sewed it to the bottom of the yoke, clipped and trimmed and pressed and it toward the wrong side, and then laid the yokes on top of the front piece and topstitched along the piping. The raw edges of the piping are enclosed inside the yoke, so the inside of the front of the shirt is perfectly clean except for a line of topstitching. I think it worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Once I had the shirt entirely assembled, less the pearl snaps and hem, I hung it on a hanger and stared at it for over a month. What to do next? I liked the way the effect was going, but it clearly needed some embroidery at the yokes to give it that western flair. I realized at the point that the tiny gingham check was working against me – any embroidery was going to get lost in all that action.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I had my epiphany right before I fell asleep one night – APPLIQUE! That would show up against the check, and it would still allow me to involve some of the embroidery I so desperately wanted. I knew I still had a piece of vintage barkcloth in my stash that would be perfect (I used the majority of it for my birthday dress a few years back, and have been hoarding the remaining yardage ever since!). I painstakingly cut around each rose and leaf, arranging the pieces so they would be mostly mirrored at the front, and attached them with fusible web to the yokes. Then I hand-embroidered around every piece – partially to keep them attached to the start, but mostly because I just loove the texture of hand embroidery!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I am pretty freaking THRILLED with how it turned out, what do you think??

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

The last thing my shirt needed was a little bit of pearl snap action! I got mine from Cowgirl Snaps on Etsy, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the overall experience. I actually bought both red and black pearl snaps, but once I got the shirt finished, black was the clear winner. Also, I just really love hammering shit in my sewing room, ok.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Ok, now let’s talk about the pants! I used a Theory stretch denim from Mood and my pattern is McCall’s 6440. This is my first version of this pattern (you’ve already seen my leopard pair, ooh la la), and I went through a BIG fitting curve with these. I initially cut the size 8, based on the finished measurements – and they were huuuuge! Pretty much every thing about them sucked except the crotch curve, basically. I spent an entire evening trying on, pinning, basting, trying on, repinning, basting, trying on… ad nauseam. I’m happy that they worked out in the end – they are SO fun to wear, and look super pin-up, yay! – but getting there was a process, plus the insides are full of thread tails from all that basting. Oh well!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Some gratuitous butt shots for ya. You’re welcome.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Oh, yeah, and in case you were wondering – I can also wear this shirt untied with the sleeves rolled down, like a proper Archer, which makes it much more wearable in day-to-day life :)

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Now at this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Ok, fine, but where the hell are you going to wear that thing, anyway??” Guys. Guys. I live in Nashville. I’m not so stuck up my own butt that I’m not above rolling down to the tourist district and getting my Honky Tonk on. Let’s be real – Honky Tonkin’ is the best part about living in Nashville, as far as I’m concerned. OF COURSE you can go dancin’ in normal people clothes, but why the hell not throw on your best western digs and cowboy boots and dress the part? This being made of seersucker is even better – it’ll be much more comfortable come summer, compared to my RTW black cotton western shirt, especially with the looser style.

I’m also going to wear it just for the heck of it because, well, it’s awesome ;)

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Also, in case you were wondering – I DO have cowboy boots! I just thought this outfit needed a little tone down from the ~country~, hence the Keds :)

Ok, hope you’re ready for some detail shots… I took a million :\….

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

The waistband of the pants is faced with more gingham seersucker. I love when my pants match my top, even if it’s only on the inside!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Don’t look too closely, but the embroidery on the front yokes is actually not a perfect mirror. Since the flowers weren’t printed to mirror, I had to get super creative with my cutting and appliqueing on one side, but I think it worked out quite nicely!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Sleeve placket + pearl snaps + piping = ♥

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Yokes

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Embroidery – the flowers are outlined in a 4 thread split stitch, and the leaves are outlined in a 2 thread chainstitch. I love the effect and textures with the applique and embroidery – it’s just a little bit Alabama Chanin.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Snaps to anyone who sat through this entire post! I have one gift for you, which I found while I was trolling the nets for Dolly inspiration (click for source):

dolly parton style inspo

NOW do you see why I chose her as my inspiration? God, I love that woman.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Now head on over to Project Sewn and see what everyone else has been up to! Don’t forget to vote for your favorite!

Completed: A Stripey Lady Skater

31 Jan

Oh my god, you guys. I am so sorry to do this, but I’m about to dump another Lady Skater on y’all.

Stripey Lady Skater

Actually, you know what? I’m not sorry. This dress is damn cute!

Stripey Lady Skater

Since I’ve posted about this pattern a few times already, I’ll spare y’all the repeat drivel about my sizing and construction. I used this really amazing grey and white striped medium weight knit from Mood Fabrics – which has apparently already sold out (wah! I was planning on going back and ordering ALL THE YARDAGE), sorry guys! This ivory knit is the closest thing I could find, at least weight-wise, although it’s sold out too (and yes, I totally bought some of dat).

Stripey Lady Skater

Anyway, the fabric is fabulous and I plan on getting a lot of wear out of this little dress. I think it will make a nice backdrop to a variety of colors – I’m wearing it with red here, but I think it will look equally fab with yellow, or navy, or hell – even green. It’s super comfortable and the fabric does not wrinkle, which means this will be great for traveling*. Since, you know, I travel all the time and everything . Ah well, a girl can dream!

Stripey Lady Skater

This dress was also SUPER fast to make. I am not kidding when I say it took me an hour to assemble – and that includes cutting the fabric! Yeeeeah buddy, this is why I love knits!

Stripey Lady Skater

So, realtalk: this Project Sewn has been sucking up a LOT of my sewing time lately. Fortunately, we were given the challenges a bit in advance and encouraged to start as early as possible, so I’ve managed to knock out quite a chunk of my work over the past few weeks. Which means, less stressed Lauren – but also, less time to work on other things! So, unfortunately, this blog has had to suffer a little bit as a result.

I’m happy to say that the contest officially starts on MONDAY – so I can finally start showing y’all what I’ve been working on! Yay! I’m also hoping this will free up some personal sewing time for me, because I’ve been staring at my fabric and pattern stash and just been getting that itch.

Stripey Lady Skater

With that being said, now you know why I’ve been sewing up a lot of knits :) What can I say – they’re a great little palate cleanser when you want to work on something else but don’t have a lot of time to devote to it.

Stripey Lady Skater

Plus, I don’t know about y’all, but a cute knit dress is ALWAYS welcome in my closet! Expect to see more of this fabric… I bought 2.5 yards, so I’m hoping I can squeeze another top (or two!) out of the remaining piece :)

Stripey Lady Skater

Now, can we please get the weather to warm up again so I can go back to not wearing socks? And maybe get some greenery back in my pictures as well, that would be nice!

Stripey Lady Skater

* Oh, hey, and speaking of traveling… I just booked myself a plane ticket for a weekend jaunt in NYC with my blog bestie/super babe Clare (AND I’M SO EXCITED OMGAH)!! I’ll be rolling in March 14 – March 17 (lucky Clare gets to stay a bit longer than I do, boo!), and I’m thinking maaaaaybe we should try to for another epic meet-up on Saturday 3/15? Who wants to go fabric shopping??? :D

Tutorial: Invisible Zippers- My Method

28 Jan

Some of y’all requested to see my invisible zipper method, so here it is! Just a head’s up – this is a fairly picture-intensive post. Sorry! You have been warned!

Invisible zippers are not necessarily my favorite type of zipper (because only a seamstress would have a favorite type of zipper, amirite), but they definitely have their pros. I like them sewn into the side of slim-leg pants, into the back or side seam of a wiggly dress, and concealed in the seam of a pencil skirt. While I love lapped zippers and I think they are a beautiful touch, sometimes your zipper needs an invisibility cloak. This is where the invisible zipper can rock your world.

Invisible zippers have this reputation for being fiddly, and I totally disagree with everyone who believes that. They really aren’t any more fiddly than a lapped or centered zipper – in fact, in some ways, they are actually easier to sew into a garment. It definitely helps to have an invisible zipper foot, but you can easily sew those suckers in if you have a regular zipper foot and you can move the position of your needle. I think most of what gives invisible zippers so much hate is that it can be difficult to close up the bottom of the zipper after you’ve sewn it in – the seam allowance is off, there’s a little bump under the zipper stop, and dealing with facings is kind of weird.

So, this is where my tutorial comes in! First off – this is not some kind of earth-shattering method I have discovered and patented. I learned this way during my stint at Muna’s, and it’s super similar to the standard method that we are all familiar with (although I find it a lot more foolproof, personally!). Not sure if this is a RTW method or not – I know most of what we did there was based off RTW standards, but I’ve never sewn invisible zippers in a factory so your guess is as good as mine (if you know, speak up, yo!). Try it for yourself and see what you think!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
You will start with an invisible zipper and the seam that it is going to be sewn into. For this tutorial, I’m just using scraps, but this method can be used on anything – skirts, pants, dresses, etc.
Press your fabric and interface along the seamlines of each side, if desired, using either fusible interfacing or sewing in interfacing or silk organza. I did not for this tutorial, so be prepared for wrinkles. The zipper seam should be completely open from top to bottom at this point.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Finish both sides of the seam as desired. Mine are serged, but you can also pink or use a zigzag stitch. I’ve also had some luck with encasing these in seam binding, but be warned that it can get bulky!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting at the bottom, close up the seam, ending about 2″(ish) from the marking where the zipper stop should go, and backstitch.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting with one side (I usually do left first), lay your zipper on the fabric with the right sides facing and the zipper teeth pointing away from the raw edge, keeping the top stop about 3/4″ away from the top edge (or your seam allowance + 1/8″, assuming you will be adding a hook and eye at the end). I don’t use a lot of pins here, just one to keep the zip top in place.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Using your handy-dandy invisible zipper foot, start sewing the zipper to the fabric. To keep everything along the correct seam allowance, you can use the markings on your throat plate (the silver doo-dad under the needle that has measurements etched into it) to line up the raw edge of your fabric and the zipper will fall into place exactly along the seam allowance line. So simple, but y’all wouldn’t believe for how many YEARS I sat there trying to mark the seam line on the fabric and sew the zipper on top of it. DUR. Just use the throat plate guide! Argh, Lauren!!

Anyway.

A few words about the mighty invisible zipper foot:
- The are awesome and worth every freaking penny. The Bernina ones get pricey (I think I paid like $40 for mine, ughf), but most other manufacturers are closer to the $15-$25 range. WELL worth the price if you want a gorgeously inserted invisible zipper every time.
- Some shops sell a sort of “universal” invisible zipper foot that is plastic. Don’t buy that shit, it’s a waste of money and you will likely end up throwing it out the window in frustration (join the club!). Save up and get the real thing, or stick with your regular zipper foot.
- You may also use a regular zipper foot to insert your invisible zipper. This works best if you can move the needle position, but you can still do it even without that. We did not have invisible zipper feet at Muna’s, and we inserted zippers just fine. You just push the teeth out of the way and sew as close as you possibly can. Pressing the teeth flat with an iron helps, but it’s not necessary and can sometimes result in you getting toooo close to the teeth, thus meaning you can’t zip the zipper!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Here you can really see that foot in action. It grabs the teeth and pulls them out of the way, which lets the needle get SUPER close without actually impairing how the zipper functions. Also, still on my 5/8″ seamline, hey-o!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Anyway, go on and sew your zipper as far as you can. You’ll get stopped at the pull if you’re using the special foot. That’s fine. If you’re using a regular zipper foot, stop somewhere at the zipper stop, aka, don’t go alllll the way down to the tippy toes of the tape.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Now close your zipper and mark on both sides of the tape where the stitching stopped. If you are matching stripes or plaids, you may also want to use this method to mark where the lines cross so you can match them when you sewn the other side of the zip.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Invisible Zip Tutorial
Locate the same point where the stitching stopped on the other side of the zipper seam (the unsewn side); this is where you pin the marking on the tape.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
If you did it right (and you probably did, cos you are awesome!), the top of the zipper should match up on both sides.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting from the top, sew this side down, same as before. Use your seamline markings on the throat plate – if your machine doesn’t have them marked on the left side, measure it out and mark it with a strip of tape or a Sharpie. Do NOT start from the bottom and sew up – if you want your zipper to be nice and balanced and not have weird wrinkles or pulls, you need to sew both sides in the same direction.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
After you’ve sewn both sides, test that zipper out! Make sure it doesn’t show when you close it, and that it slides easily. You’ll have a little open bubble where between the zipper and the closed seam, we’re going to fix that now!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Get out your regular zipper foot and move your needle all the way to one side. If your needle doesn’t change position, you can still do this, but you’ll just have to go reeeeeally slow.
Check your opening and make sure you don’t have one side that is longer than the other! This is where bubbles happen. If you marked everything correctly, it should not be a problem, but things can slip through the cracks from time to time. If one side is longer but only slightly so (as in, you can gently pull the top and bottom and it matches up flat), you will want to sew this next part with the longer side facing DOWN. The feed dogs will help ease that tiny bit of length so you don’t get a bubble.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting at the bottom, lower your needle on the stitching line you first created (the one below the zipper) and sew toward the zipper. Remember to backstitch! This can get kind of tricky with zipper bulk, so move the tail end out of the way with your finger if you need to.
Sew all the way to the zipper and try to get as close to the previous stitching line as possible, overlapping by a couple of stitches.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Here’s how mine turned out. The zipper is on the right (the side with the yellow marking), and the remaining seam is on the left. Obviously I didn’t do a super perfect job – there’s definitely a curve in the stitching, whoops! – but as long as you’re within 1/8″ here, it’s close enough.

IMG_6418
Now give the zipper a good press on both sides, making sure to press open the seam below the zipper.

IMG_6420
No bump! Yay!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
To give the zipper some strength, we want to attach the tail end to the open seam allowance. I used to do this by hand, but why whipstitch when you can shove it under the machine AMIRITE? Flip the fabric away from the seam allowance and sew each side of the tape down (to ONLY the seam allowance!) with a few short stitches.

IMG_6419
And that’s it! Easy invisible zipper, no bump at the bottom, no wonky seam allowance below. Also – see the little wrinkles toward the bottom? That’s from my super-lightweight voile not having some interfaced support. Whomp whomp. Make sure you interface if you are using a lightweight fabric!

Now, what about finishing the top of that zipper with a facing? Hold onto yer hats, I’ve got a tutorial for that!
(also, the sun was starting to set at this point, so whoops, pictures are worse than ever up in hurr)

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Invisible Zip Tutorial
Open the zipper out so the fabric is flat and lay your facing across the top. Stitch down with your preferred seam allowance.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Open up the facing and understitch all the way across.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Fold the facing back so the right sides are facing. It won’t lay perfectly flat due to the understitching; this is ok!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Grab the facing seam allowance (at the top, the one with two lines of stitching) and turn it so it folds back on itself with both stitching lines facing up, and pin into place. The top stitching line should be about 1/8″ (or less) from the fold. This kind of hard to explain in words, so hopefully the picture makes sense!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Now stitch next to the zipper stitching line, about 1/4″ away (close enough so you catch the zipper; far enough so it doesn’t interfere with zipping abilities), from top to bottom. The fold that you just pinned down with be stitched into place. I like to sew where I can see the stitching line from the zipper, so I can make sure that I’m getting it at the right distance.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Here is what it looks like from the facing side.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Take your zipper seam allowance up at the corner where that weird fold is, and push the whole thing with your finger toward the facing. Turn right side out.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
You should end up with a pretty nice lookin’ corner! That’s before pressing – and I didn’t even clip or trim any seam allowances. MAGICAL.

Give everything a good press, sew in a hook and eye, and admire your handiwork.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
YEAH GIRL
(I know there are some wrinkles in that facing; it’s because I didn’t make it perfectly square when I was chopping up scraps to use)

Invisible Zip Tutorial
WORK IT

Invisible Zip Tutorial
SO PRO

Invisible Zip Tutorial
SHOW THE CAMERA SOME LUV

So there you go! I think this method is a little more fool-proof, and I love anything that can be accomplished 100% by machine. Hopefully some of you will find this tutorial helpful when it comes to conquering those invisible zippers. Also, isn’t that corner-turning trick AWESOME? You can use that with any corner that needs a sharp point. The extra fabric actually helps keep the corner nice and structured, and is less likely a develop a hole over time (as would be the issue if you trimmed down those seam allowances too aggressively). If you’re experiencing deja-vu, it is very similar to the method Tilly posted about a couple of years ago, except with stitching to keep everything in place.

If you have any questions, holler at me in the comments! Or we can just discuss your thoughts on invisible zippers ;)

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