Tag Archives: Mood Fabrics

Completed: The Striped Button-Down

14 Apr

A couple of weeks ago, Landon and I went to the mall – specifically, Gap – to find him a new pair of jeans. While we were browsing around (well, he was browsing – I just kind of lurking and judging the shit out of everything SORRY), I came across this stripey button-down goodness. I was mostly enamored with the horizontal stripes – loose fitting shirts aren’t so much my bag, and besides, those long sleeves would get worn for about two weeks in this climate – so I thought I’d make my own with a few modifications.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

And make it I did! Woohoo!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

This was definitely a waffling sort of project – I waffled on what style of shirt to cut, I waffled on stripe direction, I waffled on sleeve length, and I waffled on buttons. Fortunately, everything came together quite well and I’m super pleased with the end result!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

I started out with my base pattern, Butterick 5526, since I knew this little dude already fit me pretty well. I knew I’d be using this pattern from the start, but what I waffled on was which view to cut – straight lines or princess seams? Obviously the straight, less fitted view would be more true to the original inspiration – not to mention easier to cut and match up those stripes. However, I don’t really like weight loose-fitting clothing – and when I do, it either better be something super drapey (which this shirting fabric is not) or, like, the dead of winter. Princess seams were the next option, which seemed like a good idea until I realized that the stripes would start staggering over the bust and not match up properly as a result. I considered cutting the stripes vertically, until I realized THAT would even be a hotter mess – plus, the horizontal stripes are what drew me to the shirt in the first place.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

I took a sewing break to watch some infomericals, and thus realized the answer to my problem:

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

POCKETS!

Hell yeah Imma slap a pocket right over those broken stripes and NO ONE WILL BE THE WISER.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

So. Let’s talk about horizontal stripes across princess seams. As you can see here – it *can* be done. Obviously the stripes won’t match all the way to the top of the seam, but you can cover the worst parts with a pocket, or just pretend they’re not there. I cut all my fabric on the single layer and I’m pretty happy with how my stripe-matching turned out – if you stand back and squint, you can’t even tell that there are seams down the front of my shirt! Yeah!!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

I used this Marc Jacobs red striped cotton shirting from Mood Fabrics to make my stripey shirt. You’ll probably notice that the stripes in the picture are vertical – I had to cut the pattern on the cross grain to get those horizontal stripes. Doing so sacrificed the tiny (like, super super miniscule at best) amount of stretch on the grain, but I think the shirt fits fine as it is. Fair warning if you are working with a more fitted pattern – take the lack of stretch into account if you’re cutting on the crossgrain.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

To match up the stripes, I just sewed reeeeally really carefully (after accurate cutting, I should add!). I really love sewing plaids and stripes – I find the challenge refreshing, and the end result is SO freaking gratifying!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

If you’re at all familiar with this Butterick pattern, you’ll know that it doesn’t come with an option for short sleeves – just long, and 3/4 length (or, rather, on me – almost-but-not-quite-full-length, wtf). Also, the sleeves in this pattern kiiiinda suck – they’re really huge and wide, and the sleeve cap has waaay too much ease, at least for the princess seamed version (the plain version has a lower armsyce, since it’s more loose-fitting. My guess is that Butterick didn’t feel it was necessary to redraft the sleeves to fit the princess version, which is lame and shitty and boo on you, Butterick).

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

Reducing the sleeve cap ease was easy – I just followed Casey’s method. Figuring out how to get my beloved fitted, short sleeve started another bout of waffling. I waffled on sleeve length, I waffled on fit, I waffled on whether or not to add a cuff. In the end, I took about 1/2″ off each side of the sleeve seam, and put the sleeve on and marked where I wanted it to hit. I finished it with a 5/8″ narrow hem. It’s pretty simple, but sometimes simple is the best option, yeah?

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

The only thing I would change for the next round is to lower the pockets – I went with the markings on the pattern, but I think they are a little too high and should be about 1″ lower.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

The pockets were REALLY fun to sew, by the way! Lots of ironing little creases, and turning sharp points, and precise topstitching (my favorite!). I just love how they look, especially with the little pleat in the middle.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

As with my previous shirt, the seams are finished with a simple serge (I generally prefer flat-felled seams on this style of shirt, but flat-felling princess seams is NOT something I want to try to attempt right now!) and topstitched with a slightly longer stitch length. Besides the trauma of cutting and matching all those pieces, the actual construction of this shirt came together pretty quickly.

Also, I should note that I totally boringed-out on the buttons for this guy, and went with plain off-white shirt buttons. I like the way they look, though! :)

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

And I just love how it turned out! Simple, summery, and a little nautical – without looking costume-y. A win in my book!

As a side note – I mentioned this on Twitter and Instagram last week, but in case you haven’t heard – I’m teaching Introduction to Fashion Sewing this summer at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film! The 9 week class runs all the way through June and July, and I’m so excited about it! Nashvillians, if you’re interested – you can see the summer course catalog here (I’m aaaall the way toward the end, on page 13). Yeeeah summer crafty time! :D

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Completed: The Tie-less Miette

31 Mar

Ever since I made up my my first version of Tilly’s Miette wrap skirt, I’ve been meaning to make a second one. Isn’t that how it is, though? You find a pattern you like, you vow to make another one post haste, and it falls to the backburner in favor of something more *new* (I’m the same way with knitting socks. I’ve been meaning to knit a pair since I started knitting, but I keep getting seduced by gorgeous sweater patterns. Someday, I guess!). Miette fell by the wayside for, oh, a year.

Red Miette - no ties

What’s even dumber is that I finally sat down and made that shit up, and it took me all of two hours. Oh, priorities.

Red Miette - no ties

So, back to Miette. Like I said, I’ve made this pattern before – and I still wear it aaaaall the time. That polka dot fabric goes with everything as far as I’m concerned, and it’s a great skirt for “oooh I have nothing to wear” because any top you wear with it looks instantly polished. I wish Mood Fabrics still had some of that navy, by the way. I tried to find it in the store while I was there a couple of weeks ago but all they had left was brown with white polka dots (which I totally bought, by the way).

Red Miette - no ties

This fabric in question is Organic Cotton Twill. It was one of the first things I grabbed in my first NYC-Mood-store-run (I also bought some navy because, c’mon, it’s just beautiful), and one of the only *basic* fabrics I bought the entire weekend (truth, I realized I should save my money & suitcase space for stuff that’s more special/can’t be later bought online). I love this stuff; it’s the same twill I made my skinny red Thurlows with, and I can personally vouch that it wears and washes beautifully. The only drawback is that it also attracts thread and cat hair like it’s going out of style. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Red Miette - no ties

Back to the skirt. The only thing I didn’t care much for in the original pattern was the waist ties. I knowwww, the waist ties are basically the whole point of the damn pattern! But on me, I always felt like they looked a little too twee and added too much bulk to my waist. I usually wear the bow tied to the back (it’s a tiny bow, but I make it work, dammit!), which is fine, but it means I can’t wear belts with the skirt. Y’all know how much I love abusing my belt privileges, too. I briefly experimented with tucking the ties in the waistband so I could put a belt over it, but that added even more bulk.

Red Miette - no ties

So I just made the skirt without the damn ties. Instant win!

Red Miette - no ties

This was sooo easy. Using my original skirt as reference, I sewed up the 3 waistband pieces as normal and attached them to the top of the skirt. Before I sewed the facing on, I tried on the skirt and measured how much waistband to cut off to get a good fit (the waistband does not sit completely in line with the skirt top; there’s some excess on either side). I wanted the underlap to have about 1.5″ of excess, and the overlap to be completely flush with the skirt. After I finished the waistband (sewing it as you would normally sew a plain waistband), I sewed a button hole + button to both the underlap and over lap. easy!

Red Miette - no ties

Red Miette - no ties

The inside of this skirt is very plain. I just serged all my seams, pressed them open, and topstitched them down. The topstitching helps keep the seams open (one thing I always need to re-press with my former Miette), and makes the skirt look more casual.

Red Miette - no ties

I think the pooling at the back is due to how I’m standing, btw. After seeing these photos, I checked in the mirror and that shit is smooth.

Red Miette - no ties

This is a great, full-coverage wrap skirt. I can personally vouch that I’ve worn my other Miette on some SUPER windy days and that shit stays put. I also ride a bike in this skirt, no fear of flashing! The fact that it wraps in the back helps things stay perfectly in place.

Red Miette - no ties

Also, in case you were wondering – I did make my tshirt as well! It’s a Renfrew, and the fabric is from Elizabeth. It’s a bit on the sheer side (ok, a LOT on the sheer side hahah), but it’s great for layering during this weird, fickle season. This is the same top I wore during the NYC meet-up, btw. I have lots of handmades like this – basic, simple, didn’t take a lot of time to sew up – and I’m reluctant to post them because it just seems like a such a boring post on my end. This is not to say that I think people who post about a tshirt are making a boring post – I love reading that kind of stuff! But I personally make soo many, it just seems really redundant for me to keep posting the same pattern over and over. So I try to sneak them in posts like this. A twofer, if you will. lolz.

Red Miette - no ties

Huh, I guess I should clean the lens of my camera tho.

Red Miette - no ties

Um. Sorry in advance for all the cat hair you’re about to see :X

Red Miette - no ties

Topstitching! For this, I used my blind hem foot and stuck the little blade in the ditch, then stitched down each side (single needle). This gave me a perfectly straight line that mirrors both sides :) With my topstitching, I also like to increase the stitch length a bit (going from 2.5 to 3), as I think it looks a bit nicer.

Red Miette - no ties

Decorative button at the over lap.

Red Miette - no ties

Plain button at the underlap.

Red Miette - no ties

So there you go! Plain Miette, perfect wardrobe basic that I assure you will get worn a LOT this summer. I just love making wardrobe basics; I know the pretty/fancy stuff is more interesting to make for some people, but I really find a good basic to be a great way to work on really perfecting my technique. Plus, unlike fancy piece – this shit gets worn to death.

What about you? Do you like making basics? Or are you a special-occasion-only sewer?

Completed: Runway-Inspired Separates

25 Mar

So, everyone at the Mood Sewing Network decided a couple of months ago that we would challenge ourselves to make pieces that were inspired by the Spring 2014 runway. Real talk: this shit sent me into a panic. Runway? I can honestly say I have never even so much as glanced at a series of runway photos, let alone determined an outfit based on what I saw (I’m not saying this in an ~ooh, I’m so cool I just don’t even pay attention to fashion~ way, more like, yo clueless!). Furthermore, it’s difficult for me to grab “inspiration” from something without just blatantly copying it. I spent an entire month agonizing over designers, pouring over runway sets at style.com (holy crap, there are a lot of them) and wringing my hands over what to make.

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Then I discovered Alberta Ferretti.

Alberta Ferretti Spring 2014

I still don’t know who this designer is, exactly, but the entire runway show is magical. Bright, saturated colors! Crisp white accents! Flowers! Stripes! This is the kind of inspiration I can get behind! I decided to make myself a *wearable* (emphasis on wearable ;)) version of my favorite look.

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Figuring out the fabric and patterns I would use was almost as difficult as picking a designer! I knew I wanted to make a striped skirt with pleats similar to the runway version, because I just really love how that turned out (plus, who doesn’t love a good striped skirt?), but finding a good striped fabric on the Mood Fabrics website was haaard. I mean, they have all sorts of good stripes to choose from – but very little in that specific combination of wide, irregular stripes in bright saturated colors. I know, I know – this is supposed to be an inspiration, not a literal interpretation. But dangit, I wanted those irregular stripes!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I’m not going to tell you how long I spent picking through the Mood website with a fine-tooth comb; let’s just say I probably know every apparel fabric they sell now. I did finally find my big prize, though – this amazingly bright orange stripe cotton sateen is the clear winner. Woohoo! Of course, it clashes with my hair like big time crazy bad, but whatever, I picked all this shit out pre-blue LT. Anyway, I just love love LOVE the bright colors of the stripes – it’s not quite the same colors as the inspiration skirt – it’s way more happy springy! Yay spring colors!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I was originally going to make the fabric in a skirt that is more similar to the runway inspiration – no button front + pleats all the way around – but at the very last minute (like, right before I cut into the fabric, lolz), I changed my mind and decided to go with a pattern I knew I would actually wear and love. Enter the Kelly skirt! Cutting that shit took forever, btw. I agonized for a long time on how to cut the stripes – where each color and wide stripe should hit. I used the inspiration photo to help me decide how to cut the waistband (it was originally going to be a mess of stripes on it’s own, but I like it as one solid, thick stripe!), and was careful to match up the stripes along the side seams, the button front, and the pockets. Like I said, it took forever, but once I got the pieces cut, the actual assembly took no time at all.

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

The fabric is described as a lightweight cotton sateen, but it’s weighty enough to work as a bottom weight. There is definitely some texture in the weave, and it stretches quite a bit. I made sure to stabilize the waistband and button placket so the fabric would keep it’s shape in those areas, and used a long stitch on my machine for all the topstitching. It presses very well – really easy to get a sharp crease in there, yeah! – but it also tends to leave pin holes. For areas that needed to be pinned together and topstitched (such as the button band and inside of the waistband), I fused the pieces with a long strip of stitch witchery instead of pinning; this keeps everything in place and makes topstitching SO much easier! Especially if you tend to miss spots and only discover them after you’ve finished topstitching the seam, which means they gotta be ripped out and restitched so you catch the entire fold (er… not that I would know anything about that…). That shit’s not a problem at all when you’ve got Stitch Witchery on your side. Yay, Stitch Witchery!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Since my skirt is so bright and colorful, I went the boring route with my top and made a classic button-down shirt. I seriously considered adding embellishment – or even making it into a crop top, because, why the fuck not? – but in the end, I stuck with the classic tried and true. Mainly because my wardrobe is sorely lacking a solid white button down with sleeves, so I know this shirt will get quite a bit of wear with other pieces to mix and match. I used this Theory lightweight cotton shirting – which, if you were wondering, took almost as much agonizing as find the perfect stripe. There are SO MANY WHITE SHIRTING FABRICS available at moodfabrics.com! SO FUCKING MANY. Like, how do you even choose? I figured that I’ve had really good experiences with all the Theory denims I’ve bought, so the shirting fabric must be just as excellent. Which ended up being true – this shit is soft as angel’s wings, presses and stitches beautifully, and it’s right along that line of being *almost* sheer because it’s so lightweight. A skin-colored bra is a must with this fabric. The only drawback is that since it’s 100% cotton, it does wrinkle like crazy. Like, when I pulled it out of the dryer, it was a hot mess of wadded wrinkled ball I don’t even know what. Good thing it presses well! :)

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

For my pattern, I used Butterick 5526. Like I said, I knew I wanted a classic button-down shirt but nothing in my stash was exactly what I wanted – everything was either a relaxed fit, or had something twee like a peter pan collar or an abundance of ruffles cascading down the front. Which is fine – clearly I like these patterns enough to even have them in my stash – but I wanted something super basic. Butterick 5526 perfectly fit the bill – I went with the princess-seamed version with 3/4 sleeves, and I’m actually a little surprised at how much I like it. I made the size 6 with no muslin, with the hopes that the princess seams would give me enough room to play around with the fitting. It actually came out perfect straight out of the envelope – I KNOW, RIGHT? – although next time, I will shorten the sleeves because they are stupid long. They’re supposed to be 3/4 and they come to right above my wrists – in that weird spot that’s not quite long sleeve, but rather looks like I measured my arms wrong. Wah wah! I’ll just wear these rolled up, I guess. I also may reduce some of the ease out of the sleeve cap in the next version; these were pretty hard to ease in smoothly and there are still tons of wrinkles. But, for the most part – it ain’t bad!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I did try to jazz up the shirt a little bit by adding topstitching, but for the most part – it’s just a plain jane backdrop to an awesomely loud skirt. I love it!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Ok, now I have to tell you my secret – I didn’t start sewing this until Saturday morning! On top of that, it had to be finished and photographed before dark on Sunday – and I had a wedding to attend on Saturday night. I spent so long agonizing over my designer inspiration, then the fabric, then the pattern – that by the time I had everything (mostly)figured out, it was time for me to get on a plane and head to NY. When I got home on Monday, I had another more urgent deadline that needed to be taken care of asap (more on that later), which put this project on the backburner for a few days. Needless to say – I was pretty stressed come Saturday morning! I like to think I’m pretty efficient when it comes to making things quickly, but even that’s a stretch for me, especially two garments. I’ll be honest – I was tempted to half ass this one, just for the sake of time, but I decided early on that it wasn’t even worth my while if I didn’t end up making something that would be wearable past this photoshoot. Which means I forced myself to slow down – I made time for fitting, for the details like topstitching, for fixing mistakes (oh yeah, I totally sewed that collar stand on backwards the first time NO BIG DEAL), for eating lunch. But hey, look – not only did I actually get it done, but I actually made something nice without cutting corners.

Butterick 5526, made with Mood Fabrics

Butterick 5526, made with Mood Fabrics
I mean, check out that topstitching!

Butterick 5526, made with Mood Fabrics

Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics
Lots of topstitching on the skirt too, woohoo :)

Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I know my outfit isn’t quite as fashion forward as what I could have done, but I am elated with how both pieces turned out and I can’t wait to give them some proper wear to welcome spring in with loving arms. Come on, spring! I know you’re lurking back there somewhere, time to come out of hiding!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

One last thing – most of y’all are probably aware by now, but just in case you weren’t… By Hand London is going to start printing fabrics on-demand! How freaking awesome is that?? They need some help with costs to get production started, so they’ve got a Kickstarter going to raise funds. You can get some pretty sweet loot in exchange for your money – from tote bags, to coffee mugs, to free patterns, to private sewing lessons – but even $5 helps. Every little bit adds up! I am so so excited for this new venture that the BHL ladies are seeking out, and I really hope they meet their goal so it can become a reality (especially if it means I can start printing wildly tacky fabric to my heart’s desire). You can check out the Kickstarter here – watch the super cute video, and I dare you not to fall in love. I dare you.

A Weekend in NYC

20 Mar

After a whirlwind of a weekend in NYC (landing in on Friday evening and rolling out Monday afternoon – whew!), I’m happy to report that I’m back home in one piece. Minus the piece of my broken heart that I left with Clare. Sob! But maybe I should back up a little…

Fair warning: this is a word-heavy, stolen-picture-heavy post. Feel free to scroll by – or at least to the bottom, to check out who won the giveaway! Sorry if this sounds super rushed – we cancelled our internet (in search of a new provider) and I’m trying to publish before it turns off! ~living on the edge~ and all that.

It’s been exactly over a year since the last time I visited NYC and I think it was just in time – I’ve used up nearly all my fabric, time to buy moreeee!! For this round, I shacked up with Clare in the tiniest little studio apartment I’ve ever seen, in East Village across the street from Big Gay Ice Cream (and before you ask – we didn’t get any gay ice cream. It was WAY too cold!). Neither of us had been before, but we both fell in love with the area, especially all the punk stores that made us feel old and nostalgic (not to mention kind of hilarious at how the styles NEVER EVER change. Seriously! Brands and styles that I wore 10+ years ago… that were already old as hell, even back then. Oh, punk. So punk.). The apartment was fabulous, except when our “neighbor” decided to throw a several-hour long party on one night that ended up with me laying awake, listening to some chick blather on about convection ovens until the wee hours of the morning. But, don’t worry – we woke up bright and early the following morning, and made sure to turn the TV (you know, the one that was attached directly to his wall) up nice and loud for a couple of hours :)

Our first meet-up happened right after I landed and made my way from the airport to our pad, dropped my stuff off, and dipped right back out. We had planned to get tacos & margaritas with a handful of ladies, and per usual, I made sure we were a good hour late (what? Don’t look at me like that – navigating the subway with a giant suitcase during rush hour is hard). I sat at the end of the table with Jennifer & Betsy, and an endless supply of margaritas ;) (although I hear there was some talk of fat quarter challenges at the opposite end – I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that conversastion, ha!).

post-dinner group

A few of our party had already peaced out by the time Carolyn convinced a rando to take this photo, but here’s a portion of the group! Look at my creepy skeleton hands, HA!

Most everyone went home afterwards, but the real badasses of the group (me, Jennifer, Lucinda & Fleur) stuck it out for another round of drinks at some fancy winebar with a creepy bathroom. Which was WAY more awesome than it sounds, ha! I love meeting up with big groups, but I also like these little smaller sets because it gives me more of a chance to actually talk to people one-on-one and have a proper conversation.

Saturday morning, Clare & I headed out to Devra’s for a pre-meetup brunch. We were only a couple miles away, so we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous morning and walk (and only made it about half an hour late ;)). Brunch was, per usual, fucking amazing – and although someone forgot the coffee (cough cough), Devra did make sure that we ate off paper plates this go ’round, so no dishes were broken this year :)

INSTAFRANZ  @oonaballoona @wwndw
Me with Marcy & Lisette

me!
Oh, yeah, my hair is blue now! :)

Marcy & Trice
Marcy & Trice

Amanda, Lisette & Jennifer
Amanda, Lisette & Jennifer

Amity, Nette & Kelli
Amity, Wanette & Kelli

Kelli & Peter
Peter & Kelli (in case you were wondering… her hair really looks that good in real life. Clare & I were amazed and a little jealous).

After brunch, we walked down toward the Garment District – only about a half hour late! No biggie! Ha! GUYS, I swear… I actually am pretty prompt and on-time for the most part. I HATE waiting on late people, so I try not to ever be that person. However, something about NY just makes me late for every freaking thing I try to do. Thankfully, the group didn’t get started without us – everyone was waiting patiently in the lobby at Mood Fabrics, and we were able to ride the elevators up together in a couple trips.

Should have taken this before half the meet-up left haha. Oh well! Successful day!!  (ps ladies pls tag yourselves )

This is only a portion of the crew! Didn’t think to get a group shot before we released the hounds into Mood, boo, so about half the people left before this picture was taken. Of course, I also didn’t realize that Mood closes at 4 on Saturdays… and since we all arrived after 1, that didn’t leave much time to get around the rest of the Garment District! We barreled through Mood and wreaked some serious havok on the lines in that store – I think at one point it stretched all the way to the back by the bathroom! Although I spent most of my chatting up new friends via meet-up, freaking out over the gorgeous silk button hole twist that Madalynne brought for everyone (who brings that sort of stuff to pass out at a meet-up? Maddie, that’s who!), and kicking it with my favorite Mood Dude, George. Seriously, y’all. George is awesome.

We managed to make a quick pit stop at Pacific Trimming before they closed, grabbed a bite at Ben’s Diner across the street, and posed with our favorite tailor on the street corner.

Just being adorable with @clareyszabo

The rest of the weekend, Clare and I trolled around the city with whoever we could convince to join us – Amity, Trice, Devra & Sonja. We ended up going to the Garment District three days in a row – yes, there are totally shops open on Sunday, woohoo! – where I was finally able to meet my self-imposed fabric quota. Also, we totally tourist’d it up at places like FAO Schwarz (for the live toy soldiers), Tiffany’s (for the sparklies) & Saks 5th Ave (for lurking inside the designer duds – oh yes we did).

stole these from Clareeeee

@clareyszabo and I hanging with our new BFF #toysoldiermark

stole these from Clareeeee
This may be my favorite picture from the weekend. We dipped into Chic Fabrics and made BFFz with the owner, Sam. BFFz as in we are now planning a pool party at his house on Long Island, and Clare started snapping selfies that I tried to photobomb. Sam was awesome. Almost as awesome as the fabric I bought from his store :P

One thing I would have LOVED to do while I was around, had I been given a little more time (and perhaps the weather been a bit more cooperative), was to check out the tours at Seek. I reeeeeally wanted to do the NY Garment District Tour (or, hell, all their public tours sound pretty amazing. I’m dying to try that Fifth Ave department store history tour!), but it just wasn’t in the cards for this trip, due to weather and time restraints. I’ve had a few people ask for suggestions on places to visit in NY (from a tourist’s perspective), so that would definitely be the first thing at the top of my list to check out (psst! Want a discount? Use the code LLADY!). Next time I go, I am DEFINITELY getting signed up for at least one tour!

Another thing I was sad to miss was checking out Workroom Social – especially after a full night of getting my gab on with Jennifer! Again, I do want to plan a trip back in the summer, so hopefully we can make it happen!

I reckon y’all wanna see what I came home with though, huh?

fabric haul
Here’s the whole lot of fabric! I was pretty good this time around and spent a lot less than I did last year (also, hoping this can convince me to come back later this summer to restock, YES). Mostly cottons and knits, although there are a couple of pieces of silk in there.

Most everything came from Mood Fabrics, with a few exceptions-
- the chambray, plaid, and china silk came from Chic Fabrics (225 W 39th St # 11, New York, NY 10018) (our beloved Sam! GO SEE HIM and buy up allll the china silk like I did!)
- the grey/black/rust stripes and aqua with black polka dots came from Metro Textiles (Carolyn has a recent review on this place. It is really awesome to dig through, the prices are great, and I LOVED Kashi. Love love loved him. Go find him and tell him I sent you! I would have loved to spend a million hours in that store, pawing through fabrics, but we were on quite a time constraint by the time we managed to get in there.)
- the navy/white wide stripes and navy/white polka dots came from… I think Fabrics for Less? I honestly don’t remember, because I didn’t fall in love with anyone there, ha!

trims!
I also bought a few trims from Pacific Trimming. Rib knit – one with GOLD SPARKLY STRIPES, and one white stripes – and my first Riri zipper! That shit cost me $15, by the way. It better be as epic as everyone talks about.

OMG
Also from Pacific Trimming, this amazing American Flag elastic. I… what?

Speaking of Carolyn, she was kind enough to let Clare & I stash our giant stacks of luggage (I had one of those suitcases that was big enough for me to fit inside, plus an overstuffed duffel bag. All full of fabric, haha!) in her office on our last day, so we could pop back to the Garment District and get a quick Guinness before I had to leave for the airport. Carolyn mentions on her blog that she works in corporate, and she is NOT kidding – that office was corporate and swanky as hell! They had to take photos of us to even let us in, and then she gave us a tour and I don’t think we closed our mouths the entire time. And, of course, Carolyn was impeccably dressed – in handmade. Also, I just adore Carolyn. She’s like my mama bird of the sewing world ♥

One last celebration with my babez @clareyszabo

All in all, I had an amazing time. Clare was a wonderful traveling partner who felt the same way I did about every decision we encountered – whether or not we needed more coffee (always), if we felt up to walking instead of taking the subway (hell yeah we did!) and if the Garment District warranted just oneeeeee more trip before we left (what do you think?). She even brought me presents all the way from London – soo many teas, and a gorgeous African print wax fabric that I’m kind of afraid to cut into (see it in the haul photo? Bottom right!). I really did feel like I was leaving a tiny piece of my heart back there when I had to finally go home. Which just means I better haul my ass over to London, STAT!

As far as meet-ups, I’m so glad I was able to squeeze in soo many in the short time I was there (and bummed that a couple that we planned weren’t able to pan out). Everyone says this, all the time, but it’s really awesome getting to meet up with people who share the same interests as you and are happy to hear you drone on about your fitting adjustments and offer advice. Also: having met up with lots of bloggers across all channels, I gotta say – sewists are the nicest ones in the bunch, across the board! In these meet-ups, I never feel like I’m competing for a chance to talk (you know those people who you can tell are just waiting for a dip in the conversation so they can butt in and take over? Yep. Not a sewist trait, at least not with the ones I’ve met!) or carrying on about something that’s really obvious no one gives a shit about. Everyone is polite, encouraging, and happy to let you try on their jacket if you are interested in the pattern (ask Clare about that bomber jacket. I about stole it right off of her, ha!). Ohh, and we all tip well :) If you’re thinking about joining a meet-up in your area – DO IT. So much fun, so many new friends and new blogs to follow! The best part is when you can pick out who is wearing what pattern – I think there were, what, 4 Minorus at our meet-up? Too bad I left mine at home!

Oh yeah, I went there ❤️
So, anyway… New York, I ♥ U. I’ll be back, yes indeed.

One more thing – the book+pattern giveaway! Um, WOW you guys – I cannot believe the enormous response that blew my email up all week. Y’all must really love you some sewing textbooks, that’s all I have to say about that!

But, like all good things – this has got to come to an end, so let’s pull up a winner. Ding ding, who’s the lucky number?

winner1

winner2

That would be Sam L! Woohoo, congratulations! I’ll be in touch to get you your book & pattern :) I think you’ll find this book very helpful for learning all the techniques that come with making pants :)

Thanks to everyone who entered! I really really wish I had a copy of this book to give to ALL of y’all – but unfortunately, I only got one :(. If you are interested, you can purchase the book here on Amazon. As a side note (and perhaps this is better suited for a discussion post, maybe?), I noticed that an overwhelming majority of commenters seemed to be really terrified of sewing button holes and zippers. I’m going to let you in on a my top tip for learning new things: just try it! Who cares if your first attempt ends up to be total crap (err… maybe try on a scrap first, so it can truly be nbd, ha!)? That’s why we hide things at the bottom of the trash can :) Almost everything I’ve learned – seriously, everything – came from studying sewing books and tireless googling. Practicing is really the only way you can get better at something, and you need a healthy dose of fearlessness to realize that it’s really not so bad once you get going. You got this!!

Whew, that was long! Ok, I’m outta here! Have a great week of the week, everyone! :)

Completed: The Flora Dress

5 Mar

Here’s a lovely, floaty warm-weather dress, just in time for another massive cold front! Ha! :)

Flora dress

Haha! In all seriousness, let’s welcome the newest member of the By Hand London family – Miss Flora!

Flora dress

Flora is a lovely dress with two bodice options and pleated circle skirt with a straight or hi-lo hem (or, as I like to call it, mullet-hem). I’ve dubbed this a floaty warm-weather dress because that’s specifically what my version is made for, but I imagine this could make a pretty sweet cold-weather dress, too, sewn up in the right fabric (preferably with some kind of crazy awesome contrast lining in the skirt, so it peeks out behind your legs and ooooh!).

Flora dress

My version is the the dipped hem skirt with mock wrap bodice. Man, I love me a good wrap bodice, mock or not.

Flora dress

I did have to make a few changes to get a good fit on the pattern, but nothing that runs outside my ordinary alterations. Let’s get them all out in a pretty list. I started with the size 2/6:
- 3/8″ rounded back adjustment + 5/8″ darts at the upper back
- Lowered the shoulder seams 1″ – also lowered the vertical waist darts 1″ (I also should have lowered those horizontal bust darts too, looking at all the wrinkles on mah side boobs. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 blah blah)
- 3/8″ tuck out of the front neckline to keep it from gaping

The rounded back adjustment is a new thing for me – I’ve noticed on a lot of my old handmades, there is a weird gaping at the upper back, right under the nape of my neck. It looks STUPID AS SHIT. Apparently I have a ~rounded upper back~ or a Dowager’s Hump, which yes, sounds even worse. I am pretty certain this is in relation to a change in posture, which means I need to start doing yoga or something. Lord.

Flora dress

You know what, though? My upper back no longer has ANY gaping, at least not in this dress! Fuck yeah!

Flora dress

The rest of the dress came together without any additional alterations – even the skirt length is as-printed on the pattern. I know some people really hate this type of hem – that was me, for a long time, and still to some extent (on the really bad ones, YOU KNOW WHICH ONES I’M TALKING ABOUT), but I reeeeally love it on this dress. Combined with the circle skirt, it kind of makes me feel like a princess, without feeling like I look over-the-top. Does that make sense?

Flora dress

It should be noted that, since the back side of the fabric show behind your legs due to the hem line, you probably want to make sure that it doesn’t look totally hiddy. My fabric isn’t super gorgeous on the wrong side, but it’s passable. It looks fine.

Flora dress

Check out that hem sweep! Woohoo!!

Flora dress

I finished the skirt seams with a simple french seam – I think that just looks prettiest on exposed seams like the backside of a mullet skirt. The hem is just a tiny rolled hem, but wouldn’t it be pretty with a strip of lace so it show on the back? Yes, yes it would. Just be forwarned that this hem is looooong and goes on into forever, so if you handsew… you’ll be handsewing into forever, too.

Flora dress

Same with my Georgia dress, I stabilized the neck edges with twill tape to keep it from gaping. I really cannot recommend this step enough when it comes to necklines that have a tendency to droop and gape open – it pulls everything slightly in, and keeps it secure. I can move around all I want and there is no gaping! Yes!

Flora dress

At this point, I kind of feel like it’s my personal life mission to eliminate the gape.

Flora dress

This cotton voile fabric is equal parts weird and amazing, isn’t it? I picked it up from Mood Fabrics with this dress specifically in mind (I also grabbed this navy linen with View A in mind, but floaty won out. And now, the more I look at it, the more that linen might want to be a skirt. Thoughts?).

The Flora was designed to be made up in most any fabric (check out the other versions on the BHL blog if you don’t believe me… as a side note, MAN I am jealous of that cleavage! Dang! Haha!), so I chose to go on the lighter side – lightweight, floaty, almost see-through, you know the drill. What’s interesting about this fabric is that it has all the qualities on voile, with an extra kick of giant embroidered dots scattered everywhere. The dots are slightly thicker than the voile (not, super duper thick like you’d think when you think embroidery… more like the equivalent of a couple extra layers of the voile in thickness), but they don’t affect the drape of this fabric. Also, they’re cotton, so they didn’t do anything crazy when I hit them with my iron. Win!

Flora dress

One more shot of the upper back, bc I’m so proud of myself :) Just a note – in most of these pictures, I’m wearing a strapless bra with my dress. You can see my black bra strap in this picture; that’s cos this came from the set I snapped and sent to BHL after I tested the pattern (just… be thankful I retook them, that’s all I have to say about that!). Anyway, my point is, the straps of the dress are not bra-friendly without a little bit of tweaking. You’ll either need to make bra strap carriers to hold the straps in, or go strapless.

Flora dress

I underlined my bodice in a lightweight cotton batiste, so the inside feels soft and breatheable and delicious. Also, no slippery lining fabric, yay!

Flora dress

Flora dress

And, of course, there’s a hot pink zip in there because why not?

Flora dress

Can’t wait for it to warm up out here so I can wear this bad boy out and about. I’m SO dying to get out of the house and just spend a day lounging around the park on a blanket, eating snoballs. God. Summer, won’t ya hurry up already??

Completed: Vogue 1610

26 Feb

Good morning, everyone! Sorry, I took the last few days off of blogging… to be honest, I’d spent the entire weekend in my sewing room futzing with ONE fitting adjustment for ONE pattern, and six muslins later (yeah, just typing that makes me die a little inside), I was done. Not done with the fitting adjustment – I wish! – but rather, done with sewing. I took some time away to do more important, non-sewy things (specifically: binge-watching infomericals from the comfort of my velvet couch and drinking bourbon with ginger beer… yum.), and I gotta say – I feel like a new woman now. Ready to go tackle that god-forsaken fitting adjustment and get back on the ~swagon~.

Speaking of swagon (which is like a sewing wagon, except way funnier), check out my new threads- baby’s first DVF!

Vogue 1610

OKKKKK, it’s not a ~real~ Diane von Furstenberg, obviously, but it *is* a Vogue Designer Pattern, which is close enough in my book. This is Vogue 1610, a classic DVF wrap dress with sleeve and length options. I found this dude at an estate sale a few years ago – in my size, and for $1, no less! – and this is the first chance I’ve had to make it up.

Vogue 1610

Sewing this wrap was an experience, albeit a fairly easy one. Although the pattern came in my size, a quick tissue fit (and by tissue fit, I mean I held it up to my chest and looked in the mirror, ha!) showed that the bodice front was big enough for complete coverage – which, when one is sewing a stretch knit, that is TOO big! You need the pieces to be a little smaller than you are, so they stretch into shape and give you that lovely silhouette that only negative ease can do. Further, this pattern was drafted for stable knits – i.e., pontes and double knits and all those goodies – and the fabric I had was an extremely fluid, extremely drapey rayon jersey. Fortunately, both the style of this dress + knit fabrics in general are pretty forgiving, so I sized down with some experimental hacking and I think it came out pretty good!

Vogue 1610

At the cutting stage, I took 1″ off the center back seam and the front side seam. I didn’t bother changing the pattern tissue itself (have you seen how much this pattern sells for on Etsy? Holy shit.), just folded over the edges to size and pinned them down. When cutting a piece on the fold, I just extended the pattern piece so it hung over the fabric edge by 1″. I also shortened the skirt by, um, a lot. I think 7″ the first time, and then another 2-3″ after I sewed it up (and immediately regretted that decision, because YIKES SHORT AIEEE). I don’t really recommend this type of size hacking unless you are very familiar with sewing and manipulating knits, because you can definitely end up with a surprise outcome, but it all worked out for me.

Vogue 1610

I chose not to follow the instructions that came with the pattern – I’m sure they were fine, but they were also written for stable knits and included things like facings and pockets. I hate pockets on knits, by the way! They always come out lumpy and can’t hold anything heavier than a cell phone. I also hate facings on knits because, whyyyy. Why would you put yourself through that kind of torture.

Vogue 1610

Construction-wise, I sewed everything up on my serger, except where I used my twin needle to topstitch the hems. The hems are stabilized with Stitch Witchery, which seemed like a brilliant idea at the time, but in retrospect, my hems are weird and stiff and lumpy. Not a good look! I also can’t trim any more length off that skirt for fear of indecent exposure. I’ve used Stitch Witchery in the past to stabilize hems, and I stand behind it, but for something as drapey as this rayon, it just didn’t work. Next time, I will probably just steam the heck out of it and sew very slowly to get my hems.

Vogue 1610

I applied my neck binding in the flat (starting at the center back and stretching down each side of the front individually), so I could get it as stretched as possible and cut off the excess. I think I ended up cutting a couple of inches off each end! The final result is a binding that stays in place and does NOT gape – which is important for this wrap style. I like my clothing to stay in place while I’m wearing it, thanks.

Vogue 1610
Vogue 1610

I was a little concerned that the gathered skirt would look stupid in a knit, but I actually think it’s quite lovely. I think the key here is to go with something lightweight and drapey – bulky fabrics will add, well, bulk!

Vogue 1610

Isn’t this fabric fun, though? It’s the Arc Deco rayon jersey from Mood Fabrics. I snapped up three yards of it while it was on 50% off sale (do y’all get those sale emails? Oh man. Those are dangerous.), specifically with this pattern in mind. It sewed up like a dream, wears like a dream, feels like a dream… just don’t use Stitch Witchery with it ;)

Vogue 1610

Next time I make this, I’ll shorten the bodice a bit – whoever owned this pattern before me had lengthened it about 1″… I left it because it definitely hits my waist, but I think it looks a little long and unbalanced in these pictures. I also promise not to get too scissor-happy with the skirt length on the next go ;) But yeah, I’ll definitely be making this again – I want one in silk jersey, like a proper DVF! Yum!

Vogue 1610

I guess that’s it! Some housekeeping before I dip outta here-

- Clare and I have already started planning the meet-up while we’re in NYC, and emails have been sent! I tried to get everyone who expressed interest, but inevitably I’m sure I missed someone. If you’d like in on the action for Saturday March 15th, holler at me and I’ll get that email out to you! I’m really excited about this trip, can you tell? :)

- Oh, right, giveaway winner! Let’s see, random number generator says…

Ok, for whatever reason, Flickr won’t give me the html code to show the number box (and I don’t have time to futz with it this morning because I need to leave for work in… 5 minutes haha), but you can click this link if you want to see the screenshot. Btw, fuck you, Flickr.

winnerstevie

Congratulations, Stevie Nicole! Watch for my email so we can get your Georgia out to you :)

Everyone who asked – I don’t care if you copy my Georgia! Remember, I copied that lace+emerald combo from someone else. Plus, who doesn’t need a gorgeous sexy lace dress in their life, yeah? :)

Completed: Coco!

21 Feb

YAY I’m so glad I finally get to share this secret with y’all – Coco!

Coco Top

For those of you living under a rock (a… really big rock, I’d assume), Coco is Tilly‘s newest pattern, just released last week! Tilly asked me a few months ago if I’d like to test the pattern, and as soon as I saw the word “knit” in the description, I immediately jumped at the chance. I can’t resist knits, I’m sorry!

Coco Top

Coco is a lovely, simple shape reminiscent of those gorgeous Brenton tops that everyone except me seems to own. Sewn up in a more stable knit (I love my slinky jerseys, but this pattern is not really the place for that… although I will probably experiment with that shit in the future anyway!), it’s very easy to assemble and very forgiving to fit, making it perfect for beginners to tackle. I made the short length with 3/4 sleeves and a funnel neck; there are three views included in the pattern (that you can mix and match for endless variations) – you can see them all in more detail on Tilly’s blog.

Coco Top

For my fabric, I used a heather grey ponte knit from Mood Fabrics. I sewed the entire thing on my serger, although you can absolutely sew this on a regular machine if need be – the pattern even includes some instructions and tips if that’s the case for you! I made no alterations to the pattern itself; just sewed it up in a straight size 1 and followed the instructions to assemble! I used a straight stitch to sew the side slits and the hem, which have held up quite well, despite all the washing and wearing I’ve given this top. This is also the first thing I made using my new gravity feed iron, and WOW you guys – that hem pressed like a dream!

Coco Top

I’ll admit; when I was sewing this up, I was a little afraid it looked a bit Star Trek-y for my tastes, with the solid color and the big funnel collar. I think the end result turned out really cute, though, and it’s sooo comfortable to wear with leggings. I’m wearing this one with my red ponte leggings; it’s like a ponte double-whammy up in hurr, yeah!

Coco Top

Also, check out that throwback hair! You can tell how old these pictures are, ha ;)

Coco Top

I think this would be REALLY cute up in a stripey fabric (which I looked for, but no dice. Whyyy is a good stripey knit so hard to find, anyway??). I’d love to try the variation with the boat neckline and keep the little side slits – maybe even go with the longer length. It’s a simple shape for sure, but it’s also open to LOTS of possibilities!

Coco Top

What do you think? Love Coco or LOVE Coco? Get your copy here!

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!

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 :)

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!

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