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Completed: Margot PJ Pants (+Love At First Stitch) (+GIVEAWAY)

31 Oct

Hey everyone! Today I’m joining the US masses to help promote Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking by Tilly Walnes, my friend and fellow blogger.

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Most of y’all probably alreaddddyyyy know all about this, but in case you haven’t – Tilly is a fabulous blogger whose clear instructions and gorgeous patterns are perfect for beginner sewers who feel overwhelmed by mysterious sewing jargon and confusing instructions. She’s done so well, in fact, that now she’s got a whole book deal out of it! Which is pretty awesome! I was contacted by Roost Books to see if I’d like to help promote the US launch of the book – it’s been out for a few months now, but we’re just now getting it here! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m kind of over book reviews – but I want to support my friends in their business endeavors, so today you get a non-review-review ;)

Margot PJs

For my non-review-review, I decided to try out one of the patterns in the book – the Margot Pajamas! For someone who loves pajamas as much as I do, it’s kind of surprising to know that I’ve never actually sewn a pair of pj pants (those Lakeside Pajamas don’t count :P). I think pajamas are kind of a rite of passage for most first-time sewers, but not me, I guess! So it’s a first for me as well :)

Anyway, before we go too much into the pattern, I did want to talk a little bit about the book.

Margot PJs

Margot PJs

MOSTLY THAT IT’S FREAKING ADORABLE!

Everything is laid out with bright and clear photos (LOTS of photos, I might add – it’s like reading a really good blog tutorial, except in book form), and the book progresses to build the skills you need to get into dressmaking. Starting with threading the machine, to understanding how to cut fabric, to choosing a size – it’s very well thought out, very beginner friendly, and shit, I wish this existed when I was learning how to sew. Probably would have ruined about half as much fabric if that had been the case :)

Margot PJs

Each included pattern comes with sections to “Make It Your Own,” for customizing and, well, making it your own.

Margot PJs

There are also blurbs for making sewing a lifestyle, including this one that is my favorite – How to Behave In A Fabric Store. Haha!

Anyway, the short: it’s adorable, it’s well-written, and it’s great for a beginner. For those of us who are not beginners, the patterns are still pretty cute (you can see all the patterns in the book here). The only drawback is that the patterns are printed double-sided, which means you have to trace them. Boo! I imagine this was done to save $ on printing costs. Also, I just hate tracing. That’s a fact of life.

That being said, I did muster up the tracing stamina to at least make some damn pajama pants. Wanna see?

Margot PJs

SUP, MARGOT. How YOU doin’?!

I hope you enjoy this new background that is my living room! To answer your questions: Yes, we love America here. And, yes, that’s a creepy-ass painting behind me, and no, I have no idea who painted it. I found it at Goodwill for $7 and it had to come home with me because reasons. It’s painted on plywood and literally drilled into the wall. My mom hates it.

Margot PJs

Margot PJs

I cannot believe how long it took me to finally make PJ pants! They are SO easy and satisfying to make – even with my construction modifications (more on that in a sec). I am between sizes in the book’s size chart, so I spliced between the 1 & the 2, and removed about 1/2″ of length from the crotch (just folded it out horizontally across the middle), as well as 1″ from the length. I also narrowed the legs a little – mostly because I was short on fabric (oops).

Margot PJs

I admit I didn’t much follow the instructions – mostly because they were way too hand-holdy for my needs. However, pj pants are pretty easy to throw together. To match the plaid, I cut everything on the single layer and used my walking foot to feed things evenly through the machine. All seams are serged to prevent unraveling.

Margot PJs

I made a couple modifications to increase the comfort level of these pants. For one, I’m not a fan of drawstring-only pj pants. I prefer a little elastic! To do this, I cut a length of elastic (1.5″ wide, because that’s what I had on hand – and it also is the same width as my ribbon) about 8″ smaller than my waist measurement (enough that it almost came around my hip bones) and sewed ribbon to either end. I threaded it through the drawstring opening as instructed, being careful not to twist the elastic.

Margot PJs

Once the elastic was in place – centered and flat – I sewed down the center back seam with a straight stitch. This keeps the elastic in place so it doesn’t shift (and I don’t accidentally pull the elastic/ribbon out!). Since the ribbon I used is polyester, I burned the edges to prevent them from fraying.

Margot PJs

The finished waistband is much more comfortable, and – bonus! I can actually pull these off without untying the ribbon. Haha!

Also, ribbon bonus: Pretty sure that stuff came from the bouquet I took home from my BFF’s sister’s wedding last year. How’s THAT for recycling? ;) Even better – now every time I’m lounging on the couch in my comfy pjs, Landon will be reminded that I CAUGHT THE BOUQUET, HELLOOO??

Margot PJs

I ~made these my own~ by adding a pocket to the back – using my phone as a guide for the size (the pockets on most of my pj pants are too shallow, which I hate!). I cut the pocket on the bias for a little interest, and used my existing pj pants to determine the placement.

Margot PJs

The legs have a nice deep hem – partially because I love the way it looks, and also in case these shrink up more when they’re washed. The extra hem means I can let the length down if need be.

Speaking of which, isn’t that fabric glorious? It’s from Pink Chalk Fabrics, a lovely cotton flannel from Robert Kaufman (which appears to now be sold out – here are their other available flannels). When I say this stuff is lovely, I mean it’s AMAZING. It is SO SOFT AND SNUGGLY. I was seriously bummed when I finished these, because I wanted to put them on immediately but I knew I needed to wait to take photos (and have since not taken them off. They are the best!). Between this fabric & the polka dot chambray I used, Robert Kaufman is about to be my favorite fabric source, possibly. I kind of wish I’d bought more, especially now that I see they are sold out :(

Anyway, I wanted to do something fun with these photos, but unlike Tilly – I don’t have a cool ~retro~ phone to pose with.

Margot PJs

WHAT I DO HAVE, THOUGH, IS A COMMODORE 64.

Margot PJs

“Aw hell yeah, mom, this is the best Christmas present ever!”

Margot PJs

Don’t mind us, we are just having a moment here.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Anyway, if you read this far- congratulations! Let’s have a giveaway! Roost Books sent me two copies, which means I have one to mail to someone! If you’d like to enter the giveaway to win your very own copy of Love At First Stitch, leave a comment on this post and tell me which pattern you’re dying to make (again, you can see all the patterns here). That’s it! Because we are celebrating the US release of this book, this giveaway is open to US READERS ONLY (sorry, my international friends! I still love you! I’ll see some of y’all in London next month!). The entries will close one week from today, Friday, November 7, 2014 at 7:00 AM CST.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
If you’d like to go ahead and get a copy of the book anyway, you can either buy it on Amazon or directly from Miss Tilly herself (and unlike Amazon, she will even sign it for you!). Good luck, y’all!
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Disclaimer: I was given Love At First Stitch for free from Roost Books, in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own.
From Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes, © 2014 by Tilly Walnes. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA.

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TUTORIAL + GIVEAWAY: The Sewtionary (+ last week’s giveaway winner!)

22 Sep

Sorry, y’all, I’m in giveaway overload this month! Can’t help it if my friends are releasing awesome shit all at once, you know?

Adobe Photoshop PDF

I’m sure most of y’all have heard all about this fabulous little book by now – The Sewtionary, written by Tasia of Sewaholic (one of my FAVORITE sewing pattern companies! Seriously, some top 5 shit right there). A couple of months ago, Tasia reached out and asked if I’d like to be a part of her Sewtionary Blog Tour to help promote the book. While I do realize that blog tours can be a little redundant if you read the same blogs over and over (I know I can sometimes get jaded at looking at the same photos/reading the same gushing daily for 2 weeks or whatever), I really wanted to help promote this book because I really do give a shit about Tasia and her business. She’s one of my friends, and I like to do things for my friends. Plus, the book is beyond excellent- a great resource of 101 sewing techniques, written out like a dictionary. The photos are beautiful, each technique includes why it’s necessary (something my nerdy brain just loves), and it’s spiral-bound, so it’ll lay nice and flat on your sewing table. Lots of wins here!

Anyway, that’s about as much of a review as you’ll get from me (if you want a true review, definitely check out some of the tour stops that I’ll be linking at the bottom of this post!). Today, I wanted to do something different. I’m going to share a tutorial from the book with y’all .Everyone likes tutorials, right? :)

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway

Today’s tutorial: Making a Tailor’s Ham & Seam Roll.

First up – you’re probably thinking, “What the hell are these things and why the fuck would I spend my time making them?” Well, I’m so glad you asked! Both are used as pressing aids – the Tailor’s Ham is a big pillow-shaped tool that is used for pressing curved areas (such as darts and necklines), and the Seam Roll is a long, narrow stuffed tube that is used to press hard-to-reach seams (such as the inside of a sleeve), as well as a helpful way to avoid making seam allowance impressions on the right side of your garment. While I have a Tailor’s Ham that I’ve used for for years (and no lie, my cat literally uses that shit as a pillow when she naps on my ironing board), I’ve yet to get a Seam Roll. They are both great to have, but can easily cost you $20+ a pop when you buy them from the fabric store. So here’s where we learn to make our own – at the delightful price of FREE NINETY-NINE. You heard me!

You will need:
- Large scraps of wool fabric & cotton fabric. Try to choose something with a dense weave that does not stretch, that is 100% (aka – no poly blends!). I used leftover wool coating from my Vogue Coat and black quilting cotton.
- Something to stuff it with. Traditionally, these things use sawdust. You can also use cedar shavings (from a pet supply store), wool fabric scraps, or even old nylon stockings. For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using sawdust. It is *extremely* messy. It is also extremely free. No lie, I just waltzed right into my local Home Depot and asked for a bag of sawdust, back where they cut wood to spec. I can’t speak for other countries (Tasia tells me that you can’t sell sawdust in Canada, say whaaaat), but here in the good ol’ US of A, lots of hardware stores will give you free sawdust because they would otherwise throw it away. My sawdust man also informed me that it makes a nice mulch for the garden. Isn’t that handy!
- Sewing machine, thread, and hand sewing needles.
- Outdoor space, or a really really good broom. I told you, this shit was messy. You have been warned.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway

Here are the instructions, Sewtionary-Style. Told y’all that book is just lovely.

Now here are my steps.

TO MAKE THE TAILOR’S HAM:

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
I found it easiest to start with a paper pattern piece, since the shape is so weird. You’ll want to make your ham 14″ long; 10″ wide at the wide end and 8″ wide at the narrower end. This will result in a bit of an egg shape.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Using your paper pattern piece, cut one egg from both the wool and the cotton.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Pin the pieces, right sides together, leaving a nice 5″ gap at the wide end. PROTIP: Whenever I’m sewing something that requires an unsewn gap, I mark each end with a double pin. This reminds me to stop sewing when I get to the double pin! Otherwise, I’ll just keep going my merry way and complete the circle, which is exactly what we don’t want right now.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew around the entire circumference of the ham, again leaving that 5″ gap at the wide end. Make sure it’s 5″, too – you’ll need the room for stuffing (don’t make it more than 5″, or you’ll hate yourself for it).

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Turn the ham right side out.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Ok, time to get messy! Take that ham outside and start stuffing your stuffing in it! If you are using sawdust, expect a big mess that will get everywhere.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Instead of just quickly trying to fill the ham with sawdust, take the time to pack down the sawdust with each handful. The narrow end of the ham especially needs to be packed pretty tight, or else it will collapse. Once you’ve packed it down, work on the next section and pack that. Again – this IS messy, and it will take longer than you think, because sawdust loves to pretend it’s tightly packed when it’s secretly not. You want the ham to be pretty hard so it will retain it’s shape. When you think it’s full – keep stuffing. Then stuff some more.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
In the meantime, here’s a photo of my cat glaring at me for daring to sit outside without her, haha.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Once you are sure the ham is packed as tight as it can go (Are you sure? Are you sure you’re sure?), it’s time to sew it up!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Holding the ham between your legs (do as I say, not as I do – don’t set it on the ground; you don’t want to push the narrow end back in!), turn under the seam allowance on one side and lap it over the opposite side. Using a tight whipstitch, sew the opening shut by hand.

Next, you’ll probably want to beat the shit out of your ham (if it’s covered in sawdust like mine, anyway). I just pounded mine against the porch railing until all the dust was knocked off.

This post is turning into one long “That’s What She Said” joke, isn’t it?

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
End result: Completed Tailor’s Ham!

TO MAKE THE SEAM ROLL:
How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Unlike the Tailor’s Ham, I didn’t bother making a pattern piece for this one – I just drew it directly on my cotton with a Chaco pen. Draw a 14″x5″ rectangle and round the four corners.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Cut one of each of these rectangles from both your cotton & wool.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew the two rectangles, right sides together, leaving a 5″ opening in the middle of one long side of the seam roll (I have no idea why I don’t have a photo of this, but I trust you can work this step out). Turn the roll right side out.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Time to stuff that bad boy!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
As with the Tailor’s Ham, really stuff and pack each long narrow end before focusing on the middle of the roll. This will ensure that your roll is nice and tightly packed, and hard enough to hold it’s shape.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Once you’ve packed the roll nice and tight with sawdust, turn one seam allowance under and lap it over the opposite side of the opening. Sew this closed by hand.

Again, you’ll probably want to beat the shit out of that thing to get all the dust off. Be aggressive! Honey Badger Seam Roll don’t care!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
And here’s the finished seam roll!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
And here’s my new pressing family! Yay!
BTW, be sure to save some of that remaining sawdust – once you use the ham or seam roll, you may find the sawdust settling and thus need to be repacked to firm up the shape. Unless you just really love having an excuse to go to Home Depot – in that case, don’t let me stop you.

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED
All right, I promised y’all a giveaway so let’s get on that. To win your own copy of the Sewtionary, simply comment on this post and tell me your favorite sewing technique. Are you a freak about pressing (high five!) or is sewing patch pockets your thing, or…? You tell me! This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the entries a week from today, on SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 AT 7:00 AM CST. Good luck!
GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

If you’d like to buy your own copy of the Sewtionary, you can pick up a signed copy at the Sewaholic website (or a boring ol’ unsigned copy on Amazon). Thanks so much, Tasia, for letting me be part of this book tour & for generously donating a copy to giveaway!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway

Want to read some more Sewtionary reviews and/or enter some more giveaways? Check out the full blog tour here:

ONE LAST THING – We have a giveaway winner to announce! Lucky number generator says:

winner1

winner2

Donna, you’re a winner! Is this now offically the second time I’ve made your Monday exciting? :) Congratulations! Sending your email now!

Everyone else (and there were a lot of y’all – nearly 400 entries, wow!) – I’m not turning you away completely empty-handed. Kat has generously offered a coupon code, which is awesome! Use the code LLADYBIRD to get 15% off the purchase of the Jenna Cardi from Muse Patterns, good through 9/29. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! Y’all are the best :D

Completed: The Jenna Cardi (+GIVEAWAY)

15 Sep

In my wardrobe, I have a very small selection of RTW clothing that is quickly dwindling to nothing. Out of those pieces, the majority of them are lightweight knit cardigans. You know the kind I’m talking about – sewn, rather than knitted, lightweight enough to throw in a purse, wearable for all seasons (I dunno about y’all, but I wear my cardigans throughout the summer – air conditioning is tooooo cold for me!). As I’m quickly replacing all my clothes with handmades, the one major hole – other than undergarments (which I’m working on!) – has been those damn cardigans. I love knitting cardigans, don’t get me wrong – but those take loads of time, not to mention even the lightest fingering weight yarn can’t compete with how lightweight a knit fabric is, you know?

I’ve been on the lookout for a good cardigan pattern – not even really for the pattern itself, but rather, the instructions. Y’all, the one time I tried to sew button holes on a knit, it ended up being slightly traumatizing. Then there was that time recently that I tried to use an old RTW cardigan to copy into a handmade one (cutting it apart to use as a pattern – same concept as how I made my striped hoodie). Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out at all. Clearly I can’t hack this on my own. I need someone else to do it for me.

20121202-210149

Also, that cardigan I chopped up? As much as it wasn’t really my favorite – it was the one grey cardigan that went with basically everything. And here it was, chopped up into little bits and, uh, I kinda needed it back.

Jenna Cardi

Anyway, all that being said – right about the time I realized I was making a huge mistake (chopped up cardigan and all), Kat emailed me, saying she’d just launched her new pattern company, Muse Patterns, and would I like to try and review the Jenna Cardi?

UM. YES.

Jenna Cardi

HI GUYS, LOOK, DREAM CARDI PATTERN RIGHT OVER HERE.

Jenna Cardi

The Jenna Cardi comes with a few different options, so you mix and match to create the cardigan of your dreams (I’m not the only one who dreams about cardigans, am I?). You can choose a cropped or waist length version, sleeves ranging from full, to three quarter, to short, and then there’s also an option to include a beautiful curved yoke detail.

I’m a boring person with no imagination when it comes to wardrobe basics, so I chose something plain and simple for my first hurrah – cropped length, long sleeves. The thing about this cardigan that makes it so special, though (I mean, other than the fact that I SEWED IT MYSELF yaaaay for not buying RTW!), is the fabric I used! HOMEGIRL GOT HER HANDS ON SOME MERINO WOOL.

Jenna Cardi

Are we all still freaking out about merino wool or has that ship sailed? Whatever, *I’m* still freaking out over it! Ever since Katie started pushing it on me like an extraordinarily effective drug, I have been trying in vain to locate a US source. That stuff isn’t cheap, even in the best of times – and to ship it all the way from NZ obviously adds some dollarz to the cost.

So where did I find this golden merino ticket, you might ask? Surprise – Organic Cotton Plus, of all places! They are starting to branch out to include other natural fibers than just cotton, which is all kinds of awesome. When they asked me if I’d like to try a little piece of whatever caught my fancy from the website, I stumbled across the merino wool and, forreal you guys, my heart stopped for a nanosecond. There aren’t a whole lot of options on the site at the moment – just the black I have here, as well as a natural colorway (which I almost got, but then the idea of dying that shit seemed too overwhelming. Plus, black is so useful! Even if it photographs like crap). At $33 a yard, it is not cheap – but it’s worth it. That black merino is a whopping 61″ wide, plus, IT’S MACHINE WASHABLE WOOL. Oh, and you don’t pay NZ shipping prices! Win win!

Jenna Cardi

Having used both merino wool from Organic Cotton Plus, as well as the stuff straight from New Zealand – I can confidently say that this is pretty good stuff. It’s soft and lightweight without being see-through, it has a nice stretch and drape to it, and it cuts and sews like a dream. Wait till you see the topstitching on this baby – it’s ridiculously beautiful. Ahh I just love this fabric.

Jenna Cardi

The only downside I can think of is that it does wrinkle up a bit, as you can see in these photos (it’s not nearly as noticeable in real life – otherwise, I would’ve steamed things up before taking photos. Womp whomp, deal with it). Kind of the same thing as linen – just natural wear wrinkles. If that bothers you, you’ll want to stick to something with a poly blend. For me, though, wrinkles are an ok trade-off for natural fibers!

Jenna Cardi

Anyway, I loved my Jenna cardigan so much – I immediately made a second one!

This one is pretty boringly similar to the black merino one, except it’s longer. It’s not quite the longer version – I cropped some off for my proportions – but it does look better with the shirt I’m wearing underneath it, ha :) Instead of using merino wool, I used some wool knit that I picked up at Mood Fabrics when I was recently in the store. This stuff is less drapey than the merino – it’s almost like sweatshirting, except without a fleecy side. It’s also not machine washable, so there’s that. I’ll have to handwash it like I do all my hand knits, oh well.

Jenna Cardi

Sewing both of these was ridiculously easy, by the way. My second version took me all of 2 hours – not bad! I made the bust 32″ and took in the sleeves a bit because they were a little wide. I also had to shorten the sleeves by a couple of inches.

As I mentioned, I was pretty apprehensive about the button bands – but surprisingly enough, the button holes were way less problematic than I was anticipating! I made some test button holes – experimenting with interfacing, tear-away stabilizer, no interfacing – but ultimately went with the instructions, as I figure Kat knows more than I do when it comes to knit button holes :) The button band is stabilized with woven fusible interfacing, and it’s sewn on with a 1:1 ratio (meaning it’s not stretched at all). This gives the knit fabric enough heft to tolerate a button hole stitch without getting eaten into the bobbin area (my former experience with this sort of thing). For the black merino cardi, I also used tear-away stabilizer in addition to the interfacing. For the grey cardi, I skipped the tear-away stablizer and just kept things purely interfaced. Both worked out splendidly!

Jenna Cardi

Another thing I’ll point out is that, while these cardigans are somewhat fitted, there’s just enough ease included to keep the button bands from gaping open. Always a plus in my book!

Jenna Cardi

Jenna Cardi

I’m thrilled that they both look just as good unbuttoned as they do buttoned – which is important to me, as a cardigan-wearer. I usually button things up, but it’s nice to have unbutton options:)

Jenna Cardi

Jenna Cardi

Here are some ~extreme~ close-ups of the merino wool cardigan. Check out that topstitching! Ughhh it’s so beautiful! I did add a little more topstitching than called for in the pattern – I wanted to tie in the topstitched button bands and button holes, so I included it at the shoulder seams and along the bottom band. Plus, it’s just beautiful. Seriously.

Also, how bout them buttons? These are also from Organic Cotton Plus. I know black and brown is generally frowned upon as a color combination, but I like it :)

Jenna Cardi

Grey cardigan close-up :) Boring buttons are from my boring stash.

So what do you think – are you team sew-your-own-cardi yet? I hope so, because Muse Patterns has hooked me up with an extra pattern to giveaway! :D

Jenna Cardi

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
To enter to win your very own Jenna Cardi, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what you plan on makin’! Which view? Any particular fabric? Do you have a wild card up your (cardigan)sleeve? Inquiring minds want to know! :) This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the comments a week from today, on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 7:00 AM CST. Good luck, y’all!
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

**Some disclosures now – I was given the Jenna cardi pattern from the patternmaker herself, for free, to try and review. I was *also* given the organic merino wool fabric & butons from Organic Cotton Plus, again, for free to try and review. The grey wool knit was purchased at Mood Fabrics NYC out of my own pocket. No one paid me for this post – I’m just doing it for the freebs! As always, all opinions are my own :)

GIVEAWAY: Casual Sweet Clothes

29 Aug

I’m still not quite back into my normal routine as of now (YET – the good news is, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! Yay!), so today I wanna take it easy with some eye-candy of the Laurence King variety :)

Casual Sweet Clothes book

This is Casual Sweet Clothes by Noriko Sashara, a new Japanese pattern book from – you guessed it – Laurence King. This arrived as a nice little surprise at my door recently (which, speaking of LK and surprise book, I don’t know how they manage it but they have their send-Lauren-a-surprise-book-so-it-arrives-when-she’s-having-a-bad-day shit down to a SCIENCE. It’s almost creepy how much they are on my vibe brainwaves, haha), and I really enjoyed looking at the pictures so I thought y’all would too!

I generally don’t care for most of the patterns in these sorts of books – they are cute, but not always really my style – but I see a lot of things in this particular book that I would actually like wearing! The styling is especially great – it’s still pretty sweet, but it’s not so sweet that you’re giving it the side-eye and wondering who the hell would wear that shit out in public.

Casual Sweet Clothes book

FORREAL THO. What is it about this photo? Is it the styling? Is it that the shirt is actually pretty freaking fabulous? Is it the hat (I could never pull off a hat like that)? Is it the babely model herself? I don’t know, but I want everything about that outfit on my body right now (minus the model because, guys, I already have a boyfriend ok).

Casual Sweet Clothes book

Not sure if I would wear the jacket, but it’s ADORABLE. I love the camel wool with the black bow contrast! And on the opposite page – such a pretty tank top! I have a vintage RTW dress from Mexico that’s in a similar style, and I’ve worn it so much it’s basically deteriorating. I’d love to make another one to replace it.

Casual Sweet Clothes book

If those last 2 photos were still sweet enough to give you a toothache, just know that there are some good solid basics in this book as well – like this tiered pencil skirt.

Casual Sweet Clothes book
Casual Sweet Clothes book

One thing that I love about these types of books is that they offer a lot of inspiration in ways other than just the pattern itself. This dress pattern in particular isn’t necessarily something I would wear – but I *would* wear that cool lace inset in the sleeves! The book gives great instructions for adding this design element, and it would be so easy to modify an existing pattern to allow for a little lace love :)

Casual Sweet Clothes book

I REALLYYYY love this blouse. Look at the cute little bows on the shoulders! Ahhh!!

Casual Sweet Clothes book

Also – this coat. See what I mean about the styling? It’s still pretty sweet (like, girl is wearing a tutu), but that coat would not look out of place in my closet.

Fun fact: this is the same pattern as the second photo (camel wool swing coat with the black bow). Just a couple small design changes – pocket, hood – plus the fabric choice make it a completely different garment! That’s another thing I love about these types of books – even if you don’t like the patterns offered, it’s pretty cool to see how the designer took the same pattern and reworked certain parts to make a completely different garment.

Casual Sweet Clothes book
Casual Sweet Clothes book

My very VERY favorite part of these books are the instructions! Yesss! I LOVE the diagrams – those alone are basically artwork to me. I’m so tempted to rip them out and stick them directly on the wall, but I’m one of those people who is mortified to see books get torn apart haha.

Casual Sweet Clothes book

There are a couple small drawbacks to the patterns in this book- the sizing and the seam allowance (or, lack thereof). As with most Japanese sewing books (well, at least in my experience), the sizing is pretty limited – the largest size allows for a 36″ bust. That being said, the clothing is all very simple and relatively loose-fitting (and the finished measurements are printed for each pattern), so it wouldn’t be too hard to increase the size a little bit – or you could even find a similar shaped pattern and made adjustments (such as adding the shoulder ties to that tshirt). Or you could just use the book as inspiration, because there’s plenty of it in there! Ha! The patterns are all nested and crazy overlapped (so you gotta trace ‘em if you wanna make ‘em), and there are no seam allowances included, just fyi! Fortunately, the patterns don’t have a lot of pieces either, so there’s that!

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Ok, giveaway time! :D Laurence King has generously offered a copy of this book to one lucky reader! Yess!! If you’d like to enter to win your very own copy of Casual Sweet Clothes, just leave a comment on this entry and let me know where YOU like to go for eye-candy inspiration (I love eye-candy, need more in my life!). This giveaway is US ONLY and I will close the entries a week from today, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 2014 at 8:00 AM CST.
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

If you are itching for your own copy RIGHT NOW, no worries, I got a discount code for ya! Use the code LLADYBIRD35 to get Casual Sweet Clothes for a whopping 35% off! This code is good through 10/1/14, so you have time after the giveaway ends if you want to make sure you didn’t win first ;) Whoop whoop! Don’t say I never did anything for ya ;)

Good luck, guys! I promise I’ll try to be back to a more regular posting schedule next week :) Also, international readers – I’ll make it up next month! Haven’t forgotten about you ♥

Review: Fashionary Sketchbook (+ a giveaway!)

25 Jun

Fun LT Fact: Back in high school, before I fell hard in love with sewing, I was a wannabe artist. Painting, sketching, doodling – I loved it all. I was moderately good at it (not enough to, like, make a career out of it or anything, ha!), and I churned out dozens of sketches and paintings (mostly oil and acrylic). Once I switched over to sewing, my love affair with art started to die down. This is why I love fashion sketching so much – it really appeals to the other artistic side of me, the one that likes to use paintbrushes and fancy drawing pencils.

One caveat to my art: I’m a fantastic copier, but I cannot draw or paint from memory. Can’t do it! So all my paintings were direct copies of whatever I was looking at (be it a photo from a magazine, or a real painting in my art book, or whatever).

Fashionary Sketchbook

So, this Fashionary Sketchbook really appeals to me, as it allows me to draw and doodle clothing to my little heart’s desire, without actually having to come up with drawings on my own accord (aka, copy that shit, dude!).

Fashionary Sketchbook

This little unassuming red book was sent to me by the folks at Fashionary to review. I’ve been carrying it around for about a month, and I gotta say – it’s pretty freaking cool! The small size (I’m using the red sketcbook, fyi) is small enough to carry around in my purse, but it’s big enough so I’m not drawing little 2″ figures. I love that there’s elastic to keep the book closed when you’re not using it, and a bookmark is attached to the binding so you can quickly find your place.

Fashionary Sketchbook

Oh, and the first 20% of the book is full of line drawing for various clothing and accessories! Remember what I said about being a copier? YEP, this shit is RIGHT up my alley!

Fashionary Sketchbook
Fashionary Sketchbook
There are so many little details in this book, I don’t even know where to begin. Lots of line drawings to copy for your figure sketches – and even the outline of pattern pieces at the top of the clothing pages.

Fashionary Sketchbook
Tables of measurements for anything you might need while designing.

Fashionary Sketchbook
Fabric patterns!

Fashionary Sketchbook
Care labeling instructions decoded, because why the fuck not?
(Note: I should probably learn these. I just wash everything on cold, is that terrible?)

Fashionary Sketchbook
Different poses, if you dare!

Fashionary Sketchbook
The last 80% of the book is for sketching. A first glance, it appears to be blank pages-

Fashionary Sketchbook
But if you look closely, you can see a faint outline of the figure, 3 per page. This is my favorite part of the book; the outline is visible enough so you can use it if you have problems with drawing proportions (well, we are talking ~fashion~ proportions here), but it’s faint enough to where you could ignore the template and doodle whatever the hell you want right over it.

Guys, I have fallen in LOVE with this book. I’m so sorry if this is like the gushiest review ever – yes, I got a free book out of it, but I’d buy this shit regardless. It’s so handy and well thought out, and it appeals to me on so many levels.

Want to see what I’ve been doodling? Don’t judge my mediocre drawing skills, now!

Fashionary Sketchbook
Fashionary Sketchbook
Fashionary Sketchbook
Fashionary Sketchbook

My only complaint is that I wish the paper was a little thicker so I could outline my pencil with ink – I started to, with my first drawing, but it bled through the back. Ugh. I reckon if the paper was any thicker, the book might have to have less pages, so I’m sure that’s why it is what it is. Alternately, I could probably try using an ink pen that didn’t bleed through so much, like a ballpoint. I was using a Sharpie in this case, ha.

As a side note, this book has inspired me to start painting again, so I signed up for a Watercolor Painting class this past month! It’s been really fun – I love learning new things as an adult – and hopefully I’ll have some cool ~fashun~ watercolors to show y’all in the future :) Lord knows I spent enough on the paints :P I better get my money’s worth out of them!

Fashionary Tape
In my package, I also received this bonus little Fashion Tape Measure! While this is not something I will personally use for it’s intended, er, use (I don’t draft patterns, and I probably won’t ever start. Sorrrrrryyyyy!), I can’t hate on a good tape measure. Those things always come in handy :)

Fashionary Tape
Fashionary Tape
What makes this tape measure unique is that it is marked at key measurements for two standard sizes (men and women’s). The women’s standard US size 6 is marked on the white side in centimeters.

Fashionary Tape
The men’s US 38 is marked on the black side, in inches.

I can absolutely see how someone who designs and drafts patterns could find this useful! It’s pretty cool. Personally, though, I’ll just be using it for plain tape measure purposes. I love sewing gadgets haha :)

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Hey, ok, so now let’s have a giveaway! The folks at Fashionary were generous enough to offer up a free Red Fashionary Sketchbook for one lucky reader to win (and you can match me, yay!). To enter, just leave a comment on this post and tell me if you have any artistic talents beyond sewing. I’m curious! :) This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the entries one week from today, WEDNESDAY, JULY 2, 2014 8AM CST.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Good luck!

Review: The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits (+ a giveaway!)

5 May

cover.indd

Y’all know how much I love sewing knits (just to reiterate: I LOVE that shit!). While knits tend to get a bad rap for being “tricky” to sew, I find them to be quite easy to fit and manipulate – not to mention, knits are worn more than any other fabric in my closet (and I’m sure most of y’all are the same way!). They’re just so comfy and easy to wear, you know?

Despite my never-ending campaigning to get people on board the Knits Boat, some of y’all are still a little scared to take the plunge. Whether you don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing a fabric, or if you think your standard machine can’t handle sewing on knits (spoiler: it totally can), or the techniques just seem completely foreign to your woven-trained brain – there is always room for more guidance.

Which is why I’m so excited for Colette’s newest book release – The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits. Written by Alyson Clair (a patternmaker with years of experience working in the knitwear industry) and then put together Colette-style with clear photographs and easy to understand descriptions, this book is a fantastic resource for tackling knits – taking you from the different types of fabrics, to what needles and threads to use, to the difference between sergers and coverstitch machines (and how to use them – from threading to tension to troubleshooting!), to how to sew knits on a regular ol’ sewing machine (for those of y’all who don’t have a serger ;)), to fitting, to different finishes. Whew!

Although I definitely have some experience with sewing knits, I can always use more tips and ideas for branching out and discovering new techniques. This book is pretty fabulous in the sense that it’s both helpful for knit newbies *and* those of us who have a few years under our belts – I even learned a thing or two in the first chapter. The chapter Stitching and Finishing totally blew my mind, though.

Want to take a little sneaky peek? Of course you do! (psst, you can click the photos to enlarge them :))

serger roadmap

When I said there was a full section on your serger (as well as the coverstitch and standard machine), I was not kidding! There are several pages dedicated to showing you the different parts of each machine, and what they do.

threading serger

There’s also a section on threading- for both the serger and coverstitch (ohhh, someday I will have a coverstitch ♥)! Yay! So much easier to read than those little manual diagrams, yeah? :)

serging a corner

Here’s a neat little tip on how to serge an inner corner.

elastic types

Like I said, though… the finishing section is my favorite part.

decorative elastic

Inserting decorative elastic – gah, I wish I’d had this resource when I was experimenting with making my own underwear a couple of months ago. I found the elastic really difficult to sew in, which is why I stopped after one pair :) Turns out I was sewing it in the hard way, doh!

lace neckline

Stretch lace – isn’t this so pretty? I’d love to try this with the new Moneta pattern.

buying fabric

There’s also an entire section devoted to knit fabrics – how they’re made, what the different types are, what needles to use, what to look for while shopping.

Pretty cool, huh? I’m so glad I picked up this book – I’ve learned a lot just from flipping through the pages, and I can’t wait to try some of these new techniques with my next knit project.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
If you’ve made it all the way to the end- yay! Prize time! Sarai has generously offered a copy of the book to one lucky reader – it could be you! To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’d love to sew up in a knit – a dress? A swimsuit? Boring white tshirts? What’s your knit end goal? I’m curious :) This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the comments a week from today, Monday, 12 May 2014 at 7:00AM CST.
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

For those of you who simply can’t wait and must have this book NOW, you can order The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits from Amazon or directly from the Colette website.

Good luck!

Giveaway: The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction

13 Mar

blog-tour-banner

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

CPG Clothing Contruction High res

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

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

IMG_7003

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

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

IMG_7002

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

IMG_7006

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

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

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

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

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