Tag Archives: Mood Fabrics

Completed: The Bronte Top

2 Jul

This is totally my new favorite outfit. I TOLD y’all I was gonna wear the hell of out this navy Hollyburn skirt! I love looking like an American Flag, ok.

Bronte Top

Today, though, let’s just focus on the top.

Bronte Top

This is the Bronte top, a new release from Jennifer Lauren Vintage. Sewn up in a knit fabric, this is obviously not your standard tshirt – the lapped shoulder/neckline detail almost make it look like you’re wearing a dainty shrug, and it’s a nice nod to the 40s without looking super costumey vintage. As soon as I saw this pattern, I knew I had to have it. Don’t get me wrong – I love plain, basic tshirts. I make and wear them all the time. But, let’s be real – there are only so many ways you can design a plain tshirt. This pattern gives a little extra oomph in an unexpected way, and I love it!

Bronte Top

Upfront disclaimer: I was given this pattern free of charge, in exchange for a review. Although, I’ll be honest – I was planning on buying it anyway, because it’s a really cute style that’s completely different from anything I’ve seen around the sewing world. I was also madly interested to learn how the neckline was finished. This review is going to sound completely biased because I really love the pattern and how the finished top turned out. Sorry! It’s just that good.

Bronte Top

Like I said, this pattern is designed for knits, and the first couple of pages are dedicated to helping you choose an appropriate fabric and set your machine up to handle sewing it (assuming you don’t have a serger). Pretty helpful stuff if you’re a knit n00b! One part even compares the appropriate fabric to feeling the same way as underwear fabric, which cracked me up to no end (seeing how much I talk about butts on this blog, I’d reckon y’all probably know how much I appreciated that reference ahaha). But, I mean, it makes sense! The same weight of knit fabric that’s used to make comfy undies would be PERFECT for this top. Plus, you could use the extra yardage left over to make, well, undies.

Bronte Top

I sewed up the size 6, and made no alterations. I’m pretty happy with the fit, although I think I got a little too stretch-happy with the binding and now it sort of gathers where it should lie flat. Oops. I’m so used to modifying my bindings for every top I make (I guess I just like them tighter than how they’re drafted), that I did it without even really thinking. Next time I make this, I’ll go with the binding length as written in the pattern, because as you can see in my photos vs everyone else’s – the binding should definitely sit more flat. Oh well, live and learn!

Speaking of the binding, if you’re curious – it’s sewn on the same way as I think most of us are familiar with. Folded in half, sewn to the right side and flipped back. Works pretty well, though!

Bronte Top

I did make a few changes to the construction, just because I like my knits sewn a certain way, which may not necessarily be the “easiest” way (but I think it looks the nicest!). I did not hem my sleeves until the side seams were sewn up – I like my hems to be a complete circle, don’t like a seam cutting them in half. I also only turned the bottom hem up once, instead of doubled-up. The instructions are very beginner-focused, but they’re easy to skip over if you don’t need the hand-holding.

Bronte Top

My fabric is this red and white striped cotton jersey from Mood Fabrics, with the white binding being some leftover cotton knit from Organic Cotton Plus. The jersey is a little lighter than the pattern suggests, but it works out very nicely. Getting the stripes to match wasn’t much of an ordeal as there are only a couple of pattern pieces to deal with. I sewed everything up on my serger, minus the topstitching, which I did with a twin needle.

Bronte Top

The pattern has you tack down the overlap at the very end – if you don’t attach it down somehow, it will flop open and look stupid. I just went back over my topstitching a second time in that one little section (for each side), but you can also use buttons or other trims to embellish the neckline.

Bronte Top

One surprising thing I really LOVED about this whole experience was the printing part. Ok, actually, I hate printing PDF patterns – like, I’ll go out of my way to avoid it. First I have to find a fucking printer (which I don’t have – well, not one that works – and yes I know it’s the 21st century), then I have to print a bunch of test pages to get the sizing right, then I have to take the thing home and tape it together before I can even start sewing! Argh! Taping together is the worst part, forreal. So, let me back up. I didn’t enjoy the actual printing of this pattern (which I’m pretty sure no one does, amirite), but the taping part was significantly less traumatizing than it normally is. The way the pages are taped together means that each piece gets it’s own set of taped pages – so, instead of ending up with a giant swath of tiled paper (that’s the part I hate – it’s always too big for my table, and takes up the entire floor and I have to crawl around it like a fucking insect. Whyyyy), you’ve got a little stack of smaller tiled papers, each one with one pattern piece to cut out. GENIUS. That shit is pure genius. Why doesn’t everyone tile their PDFs like this?

I also used a tape gun to stick the whole thing together, which made the whole process move a helluva lot faster. Mine’s not pink, though, I kind of wish it was now.

Bronte Top

So that’s it! Overall, I really like the pattern and I’ll definitely sew it again (I’d love to try the long sleeve version, but I’m going to wait until the temperature here is a little less like Hell). You can buy the pattern here, should you feel so inclined :)

Also, just a fun fact – but my name is Jennifer Lauren too :) Obviously I go by my middle name, but HOW COOL IS THAT.

A couple more things!
- Say helloooo to my newest sponsor, Indie Sew! Indie Sew doesn’t just sell sewing patterns (but they do – they have lots of great PDFs from various designers); they are also a sewing community for sharing and discovering new blogs. I especially love how they have a gallery where you can upload your creations – and it shows up on the pattern sales page (which I find EXTREMELY helpful, since sometimes the pattern artwork doesn’t necessarily appeal to me for whatever reason). I just love what they’re doing and I’m super excited to watch this community grow and flourish. Check them out!
- This has been EXPLODING across the blogosphere last week, so sorry to cram this shit down your throats again – but have you heard about Capital Chic Patterns? Run by Sally of Charity Shop Chic, these patterns are a little different from what we currently have on the market. For one – the styles are very fashion-forward, runway-influenced. Don’t get me wrong, I love vintage styles, but Sally’s right in that we kind of already got the market cornered on that ;) For second – the patterns themselves are aimed for intermediate to advanced sewists, not beginners. Can I get a halleluiah?! MAN. I love me some quick’n’easy beginner patterns, and I know the beginners sure love them – but it sure is nice to have patterns that are aimed to flexing our sewing skills. If these two points haven’t convinced you, just take a lurk at the lookbook and drool away.
With all that being said – I actually tested the Cosmopolitan (but I only got as far as a muslin for fit and instructions, as my time was very limited during testing), and I can’t wait to get my hands on some nice wide lace so I can sew it up proper; it’s GORGEOUS. I’ve also got my hands on that White Russian, which I will be sewing up when, again, it’s not Hell Fahrenheit down here.
- We have a winner for the Fashionary Giveaway! Lucky number generator says….

wins1

wins2

Woohoo, congratulations, Trinity (and high-five for committing to a lifetime of crafty!)! Hope you love the book as much as I do :D

Thanks so much for entering and playing along, y’all! It was EXTREMELY interesting to read what kind of crafty/artsy things everyone is into – seems like we have a lot of knitters, musicians, and scientists who hang out over here :) While I’m sorry to say that I only had one Fashionary to give away – otherwise I’d give all y’all one – you can still buy the red book if you want to join Team Matchy :) (go on, do it, you know you wanna~!)

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Completed: Vogue 1395

18 Jun

Confession: I don’t like cherries. Not for eating, anyway.

Vogue 1395

What I DO love are cherry prints, though (or any fruit, for that matter!). It probably makes me look like a total asshole wearing a fruit I won’t even eat (I’m currently having flashbacks to my high school days, back when I used to make fun of kids for wearing band tshirts of bands they’d never actually listened to. No, really, who does that?? High school kids, that’s who), but you know what? No fucks given. Go ahead and judge me.

Vogue 1395

Whatever, anyway, my point is – I like wearing cute prints. Cute prints can be hard to find though – and when you do find them, at lot of them tend to be printed on, like, quilting cotton. Or worse – silk chiffon (seriously, who the fuck is buying up all those crazy silk chiffon prints? I am so intrigued!). I feel like 3/4 of my sewing time is spent just trying to source cute prints that are printed on the type of fabric I actually like to sew and wear.

Vogue 1395

Sooo, with that being said – I was pretty excited to find this Anna Sui cherry print at Mood Fabrics. Not only is it basically the cutest fabric in the history of ever – it’s silk crepe! So glorious! Unfortunately for y’all, they are also completely sold out of it. Whomp whomp.

Vogue 1395

Immediately after securing a length of this stuff for my very own, I zeroed in on Vogue 1395 as my dream match pattern. Pretty cute, right? Vogue has really been stepping up their game with the last pattern release – as in, they had more than one wearable pattern this time (yay, Vogue!). Vogue 1395 intrigued me with it’s loose fit and strange overlay, and I thought the casual shape would look really nice with such a sweet fabric.

Vogue 1395

Sewing up this pattern (and fabric, for that matter) was pretty easy, although I did make some changes to the construction. The pattern calls for you to sew everything with a double-stitched seam – as in, literally two lines of stitching next to each other, and then finished. I couldn’t wrap my head around that one – why? for extra… strength? what? – so I compromised and used french seams for construction. I figured – hey, it’s technically a double-stitched seam, right? Plus, a french seam just looks way more elegant than a serged seam.

The armholes and neckline (sorry, didn’t take a photo, whoops) are finished with self-made bias binding (aka SILK CREPE bias binding). It looks really beautiful, if I do say so myself. It was also way less of a bitch to sew on than you’d think – despite the fact that we’re talking about bias silk crepe here. I used a lot of steam and manhandled that shit into submission. I also didn’t follow the directions on the pattern for adding the binding – they kind of had a weird method of construction, and I have a better one (sorry, but it’s true. Stay tuned for a photo tutorial during the OAL!). One big awesome plus is that the bias binding is applied flat, so you don’t have to worry about it stretching out and not fitting the area it’s binding – you can just cut the excess off! Hells yeah!

Vogue 1395

Size-wise, I cut the smallest size, which is an 8 in this design (anyone know why some patterns go all the way down to a 4 and some stop at 6 or 8? What’s up with that?). It fits ok – the arm holes, though. Whoa. Those arm holes were TERRIBLE. When I say they showed my bra, I don’t mean they just showed the very top edge. I mean they showed the ENTIRE SIDE of my bra (and a little bit below it!). Suffice to say, the arm holes were way too low! The back overlay does cover some of that, but it’s a moot point once you start moving around.

I fixed my dress in the most MacGyver way possible – I just pulled the shoulders up and gave them a new seamline. This was actually really easy thanks to my french seams, haha! I ended up pulling off about 1.5″ from the top of the shoulders – which yeah, that’s a lot! – and now the dress fits a hell of a lot better. The neckline obviously raised a lot too, but that’s ok – I kind of like it higher, I think it looks better with the shape/length. Plus, now I can bend over without fearing the gapeage.

Vogue 1395

Trying to figure out how the dress is pieced together? It’s really simple – there’s a front and back bodice (unlined, so make sure your fabric is opaque!), and the back bodice has an overlay that is only stitched down about 4″ at the center back. The slightly curved skirt is lined (I used china silk), and there is an elastic waist.

Vogue 1395

The back overlay crosses the side seams and ties at the front, which gives the dress a little bit of shape (that you can totally loosen after you’ve eaten a bunch of cupcakes because, fuck yeah, elasticized waist). Keep in mind that the wrong side of the ties show – it’s just a rolled hem all the way around, no lining – so you want to make sure you use a fabric that is relatively the same on both sides. The wrong side of this fabric is a little lighter than the right side, but it’s hardly noticeable.

Vogue 1395

What else did I change about the instructions? Well, I hated the way they had you hem stuff – lots of basting, pressing, and trimming. BOOORING! I used my rolled hem foot and finished much faster (with better results to boot!). I also could not FOR THE LIFE OF ME figure out how they had you attach the shoulders of all 3 layers. It just plain didn’t make sense, and I was french seamin’ that shit anyway (this was before the Armhole Disaster), so I did it my way and used french seams. Best way, I think!

Vogue 1395

Vogue 1395

Per usual, I threw both silks in the washing machine on cold before cutting, so now I don’t have to dryclean this guy! Yay! Talk about a casual day dress. I did notice that the black faded quite a bit on this silk crepe – so it’s more like, I dunno, light black or dark grey – but I don’t even care. It’s worth it just to know that I don’t have to schlep out to the dry cleaner every time I want to wear this. Which, btw, I would never do, because dry cleaning is the worst. Not because it’s terrible for the environment (although I reckon that’s a factor), but because I actually have to GO somewhere and PAY for it. Ew! Nope!

Vogue 1395

Anyway, cute new summer dress for meeee! I love it when my casual duds crossover into involving luxe fabrics. THIS, my friends, is why I sew.

As a sidenote – my pal Beth is gearing up to release her first pattern, and she needs testers! I know a lot of y’all were dying to dip your toes in to the tester pool, so here’s your chance to shine! Check out this blog post to see the skirt pattern in question (it’s super cute – I was actually on the list to test this, but my schedule this month has blown up all crazy so I had to bow out) and go ahead, throw your name in the hat :) You know you wanna :)

Completed: Sewaholic Robson, Jr.

21 May

Ever since I made my first trench coat last year (you know… the one in the amazing lace), I’ve been thinking of how to improve on it. Not that the lace coat needed a lot of improving – I mean, not to toot my own horn or anything (toot toot), but it’s pretty brilliant on it’s own. However, I knew there were a few things on the original that could use some updating.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

For one, I needed a coat that was a lighter weight. In these transitional spring days (specifically – when I wake up and it’s 50 degrees outside, then suddenly turns 80 by afternoon… I mean, what the fuck, weather?), a lightweight coat is a nice thing to have around. My lace Robson was a little tooo heavy, my Minoru a little too fall-esque (don’t get me wrong, though, I LOVE THAT COAT and I wear it all the time… in the fall) and obviously I can’t wear my big awesome plaid coat right now. Cardigans do work, but I wanted something that would also protect me from the rain (because, let’s be real, wet wool smells like shit).

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I knew I wanted to make another Robson – I’ve wanted to make another since, well, right after I finished the first one. It’s just a fun pattern to put together – it’s very detailed, there is a lot of fiddly work involved (with all the bias binding and topstitching), but it comes together sooo well. Plus, it looks super polished and who says I can’t have two trench coats amirite?

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I spent several months looking for a good fabric – and to be honest, I initially had my heart set on making a classic tan trench. I’ve always loved the way those look – talk about polished! However, I couldn’t find a good twill fabric – either it had stretch (a personal no-no when it comes to coatmaking), or it was the wrong weight, or the color was off.

This cotton/poly reversible polka dot fabric ended up linked to me via one of Mood Fabric’s sale emails – y’all ever sign up for those? They are, in one word, dangerous. Fabrics for half off! Aiee!! As soon as I saw the fabric and the price ($7 a yard YESSSS), I knew it was meant to be. I bought 3 yards and it ended up on my doorstep a few days later.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Guys. This is basically my DREAM coat. The polka dots make it sooo much more fun than if it had just been a borin ol’ tan coat. I’m so glad I came across this fabric, and that I snapped it up when I did. I admit I was initially afraid it would be a little too lightweight for the structure of a trench – and it is pretty lightweight, it’s not super warm or anything (but, like I said, I don’t need super warmth right now so that’s fine with me!) – but once I got in the facings and the hem, it holds it’s shape pretty well. It has a nice crisp drape and the poly content in the fabric gives it a subtle sheen that I think looks really nice for this sort of garment.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Plus, it’s reversible! Meaning the inside still looks cool as shit, but I didn’t have to line it to make it that way :D Yay!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Since I’ve already once talked at length into the making of this coat (well, the lace version… you can see the posts here and here, if you’re curious!), I’ll just go over what I changed for this coat.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I think the biggest/most noticeable change is that it’s much shorter than the pattern is designed to be. I always felt like the lace one was a liiiittle too long on me – and not always the most flattering. The shorter length on the polka dot one is definitely more casual, which I like! To get this one hip length, I actually just put on the lace coat and measured how much to take off to get it where I wanted it, and then added my hem allowance and cut off the bottom of the pattern pieces. I usually use the lengthen/shorten lines (cos, duh, that’s what they’re there for), but I wanted my coat to be slightly more flared and I also felt that the waist length was fine… I just wanted to shorten the length below the waist. I think it worked out pretty well!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I also raised the pockets on my trench – the pockets on the lace one are WAY too low, and I never use them (like, I can barely get my hands in them ahaha). Again, I just put the trench on and measured where I wanted the pockets to hit – I think I raised them close to 2″. They’re about 1″ below the belt looks, which for me was the perfect spot. Now I can actually use my pockets!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

One last thing I did was narrow the width of the front storm flaps on this trench – on my lace one, they have a tendency to stick out, and it’s pretty annoying! I wasn’t sure how to fix that, so ultimately I ended up putting on the lace trench (gah, most expensive muslin ever hahaha) and pinning out where there seemed to be excess flap, which I then measured and shaved off the pattern pieces. I think it was something like 1/2″, reduced to nothing – basically, if you look at the pattern piece, it’s where the bottom of the flap curves out by the armhole. After I cut that off, the flaps stay flat like they should.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Other than the above changes, I didn’t do anything else to the pattern. I did size this one down to the 0, so it’s smaller than the lace one (which I’ve lately felt like is a liiiiitle big). Other than that, I made no sizing adjustments and I did not stray from the directions!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

I agonized for waaaay longer than I should have over what buttons to use for this coat. Initially, I had picked plain navy buttons – boring! Then I chose some cool cream buttons with a gold ring around the edge, but once they came in, they just looked all sorts of wrong with the coat. Of course, at this point we were pushing deadline, so I didn’t have time to reorder (and THANK GOD Mood returns buttons, because that was like $30 right there haha! More than I spent on the fabric! Whyyy are buttons so expensive?), so I turned to my stash for a solution.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Aren’t they cool, though? I got them from my Mamaw a few years ago – she used to work for a garment factory, and when they ultimately closed down, she came bearing loads of sewing notions. Mostly buttons and huge spools of thread, which my mom and I split. I have several jars of these gold buttons (with two different crests), silver buttons, and leather-wrapped buttons (in brown and black). I think she said they were used on Tommy Hilfiger coats? HA! Thanks for the buttons, I guess, Tommy!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Working with this fabric was pretty easy. I used a Microtex 90/10 needle and tried to be mindful of my pins (since it does like to show pin marks and where you’ve ripped out stitches – although getting it good with the steam iron makes most of the holes disappear). I was a little afraid that the polyester content would make this hard to press, but it played nice with the iron, so that’s good! The only thing that sucked is that it doesn’t ease terribly well, so I have a little bit of puckering at the sleeve caps, oh well!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Since the fabric isn’t too thick (despite being double-faced) and it pressed well, I chose to use the remaining yardage to make bias binding for all the insides. I used the same side I used for the exterior of the coat – I think it gives a nice contrast the wrong side!

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Finally (yes, I’m wrapping up here, sorry y’all!), I swapped the tie belt with a gold buckle, to match the buttons. I think it gives the coat a nice final touch, plus, I just love buckles! I shortened the tie drastically and interfaced it for some extra stability.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

One thing I want to mention is that I actually waterproofed this bad boy! I used Scotch Gard and, well, just sprayed the everloving shit out of it and left it to dry overnight. I actually finished this coat a couple of weeks ago (the photos were taken the Saturday before Mother’s day), and I’ve been wearing it ever since, due to a random cold snap. I’ve managed to wear it in light drizzle *and* for Bike to Work Day (where there was also a light drizzle), and it’s definitely waterproof! Dunno how well the waterproofing works for torrential downpour or anything like that, but it works for the purposes I intended :) This is my first experience using this stuff, so while I can’t vouch for it in the long-term, I’ll be sure to post an update in a few months :)

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

That’s it! Probably way too long of a post for something I’ve made twice (and already discussed at length), but hopefully this helps some of y’all who may have been on the fence about making this pattern or wanted to make the same changes I did.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Also! Landon took these photos for me – aren’t they nice? We actually shot these in my parent’s back yard, right above the creek that I used to play in as a kid :) That big plot of dirt behind me is actually my dad’s former garden (I say former because he moved everything closer to the house and put it in raised beds), although I think he’s going to plant corn there later this summer. If you think the garden looks huge, it is. It’s fucking gigantic and probably bigger than my house and yes, I’m spoiled with fresh vegetables all summer. Omg I can’t wait for tomato season.

Polkadot Robson made with reversible cotton/poly  from Mood Fabrics

Oh, right, and also – it’s my birthday today! Yay!! I’m 29 – and one year closer to 30 :) Think I might treat myself to a new Bernina foot soon, cos, well, I love buying myself presents. Ha!

Bye for now!!

Completed: Vogue 1610, in Silk Jersey

23 Apr

All right, y’all, so back to Vogue 1610. If you recall my first make-up of this pattern, I’m happy to report that I finally got my hands on some gorgeous silk jersey and was able to do her her all fancy-like – want to see? :)

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Yay, baby’s first ~silk jersey~ DVF ;)

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

I know, I know – a true 1970s DVF would be made in some ~futuristic~ polyester, but I’m a fine lady with fine tastes and I wanted silk! So silk I got. Ha!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

After my first make, I was pretty confident on the sizing and adjustments I needed to do to get this dress really looking it’s best. Y’all should be proud of me – I remembered to *not* hack off the hemline to dangerously short proportions, and I remembered to remove the added length to the bodice so this hits me in the right spot. Other than that, this dress went together almost the same way as my first one – except I left the sleeves off, for a cool 70s kick. Nice, yeah?

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Now let’s talk about silk jersey. After lurking the Mood Fabrics website (as well as the store last month!) for a few weeks, I came across this gorgeous this paisley silk jersey by Marc Jacobs. I was looking for something a little groovy that would look like something Diane would use to make one of her iconic dresses, and I think this fits the bills. Also: SILK. Hell, it was expensive, but it was definitely worth it!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

This was my first experience working with silk jersey. The texture is quite a bit different than what I had imagined this fabric would feel like – it kind of feels like a really really high-quality ponte (this particular fabric is also a heavier weight of silk jersey; some of the lighter weight in the store, for example, almost felt like straight-up poly. So weird!). A high-quality ponte with a beautiful drape and feels like luscious silk, I might add. The colors on the fabric were SUPER saturated, and there was a nice sheen to the right side.

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

I say “were” because while they’re still pretty bright, the colors aren’t quite as close as they were when I originally got the piece of fabric in the mail. See, I’m of the camp that anything that cannot be safely washed in the washing machine simply does not belong in my house. For some of my older (and wool!) projects, that usually means they get a good airing out and the occasional hand wash. For everything else, it means I don’t own it. Ha! I hate the dry cleaners, I hate the chemicals, and I don’t want them anywhere near my body! I knew this dress wouldn’t get worn at all if it meant that it was a pain to clean, so I did a little research and ultimately threw the whole yardage in the washing machine and dyer to pretreat before I cut into it. Apparently, silk is a-ok as long as you treat it the same way you will treat the finished garment (in my case – wash on cold, tumble dry medium). Be warned that it will soften the silk and remove the sheen, as well as slightly dull the colors. I figured a little dull color is better than a dress that I never wear, so in the wash it went! No regrets!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Anyway, back to sewing this stuff – my particular fabric (again, like any other jersey, not all silk jerseys are the same!) was pretty stable, so it would be fine for sewing up on a regular machine. For the most part, I treated this fabric the same way I treat any other knit – the seams are constructed on my serger (again, not necessary – but hey, I have a serger and it’s there, so why not?), and I stabilized the shoulders with strips of iron-on interfacing to keep them from stretching out over time.

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

The few parts that I did sew on my sewing machine, I used a fine 70/10 ballpoint needle and regular polyester thread. What is different here (as opposed to how I normally sew knits) is that I included facings at the arm holes and blindstitched them down, as well as blindstitched the hem and the facing on the skirt overlap. I know, I know – it’s a knit, throw a fucking binding on it and call it a day, yeah? – but I felt like this dress deserved just a little more finesse, it being a silk jersey DVF and all. Since the silk jersey is so, well, robust, it lends nicely to blindstitching as the stitches really sink it and are completely invisible on the right side. Plus, it presses like a dream. Yay silk!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

GAH, I mean – just look at that beautiful fabric!

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

So good.

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Here’s what silk jersey looks like once you push it through the wash. Notice that the texture isn’t smooth and shiny – it a little rough, almost slubbed (I hesitate to call it pilling because I feel like this particular fabric probably doesn’t pill, but feel free to chime in if you have a long-term experience with this stuff!). Despite being silk, the end result is very relaxed and casual feeling, but it totally looks nice enough to wear to work or on a date.

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

Overall, I’m really pleased with how this dress turned out and I can’t wait to test those silk-breathing properties in the dead of summer. Not to mention – how about those colors, eh? Seriously, is it even possible to be unhappy while wearing this dress? :)

Vogue 1610 - silk jersey

So, there you go – silk jersey wraps FTW! What do you think? Are you ready to fall in love with silk jersey yet?

Completed: Ikat Moss Mini

21 Apr

Since I announced my pledge for Me-Made-May, I realized I better get crackin’ on making some summer-appropriate handmades if I want to actually get through the month as planned. One thing my closet has been missing for a few years is a good, basic mini skirt. I used to wear these things aaalll the time, but all my old ones either disintegrated over time or plain don’t fit anymore. I really wanted to try Grainline’s Moss Mini, but I wanted to hold off on pulling the trigger until I came across the perfect fabric.

Moss Mini

That perfect fabric being Ikat. Ow ow!

Moss Mini

OMG I love this skirt way more than I should. It’s a new silhouette for me for sure – despite having worn this style a LOT in the past (no lie you guys, I had them in every shade of denim, from white to dark blue. My dreams of being in a Poison video were, unfortunately, never recognized. Perhaps it’s because I only have a pick-up truck to lounge across, instead of a sweet 80s sports car? Dammit, I knew there was a reason why I needed a Delorean.), it’s not something I wear a lot of these days, so the style takes some re-getting used to. I’m liking it so far, though!

Moss Mini

Let’s talk about the pattern. The Moss Mini is a cute little mini skirt that includes slash front pockets, a back yoke, and a front fly with a button closure. It sits a little lower than my other skirts – the waistband is right below my navel. The length is pretty short! I didn’t remove any and it’s good for me – but I’m a petite lady, so as always, check those measurements.

Moss Mini

Moss Mini

I cut a size 0, but I had to take quite a bit out of the waist and hip to get it to fit without straight falling off. Next time I make this, I will probably cut a wedge out of the center back yoke as well – it’s gapes a little, since I curve more there than the pattern was drafted for. Other than that, the fit is pretty good!

Moss Mini

I debated adding back pockets (lord knows I’d use ‘em), but ultimately decided that the skirt was busy enough without extra pocket baggage also demanding attention. Plus, the thought of additional pattern matching made me want to cry. Print-matching this bitch was rough, but totally worth it.

Moss Mini

“Wait a second, Lauren, didn’t I hear you say something earlier about there already being pockets on the skirt?” Yep! Check out those front-slash pockets, so cunningly camouflaged RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES.

Moss Mini

Like I said, pattern-matching this skirt was way rough. I used my single layer method, which always does the trick. The hard part was getting the pattern to seamlessly continue, so you don’t notice any interruptions in the skirt (as opposed to a plaid or stripe, where you just follow the line). It’s like hanging freaking wallpaper, I guess. I think I ended up doing a pretty damn fine job if I do say so myself, though – do you see the center back seam? No? Good.

Moss Mini

Apart from the pattern-matching-hell, the fabric was lovely to work with. This is a stretch cotton twill from Mood Fabrics, emphasis on the stretch. Like I said, I had to take a bit out of the side seams to get this baby to fit close (a close fit is important when you are working with a stretch – negative ease is needed!), but the resulting skirt is also really comfortable and not at all constricted. Be warned that it does like to fray and shed, though. I used flat-felled seams throughout my skirt and it’s held together pretty nicely, although pressing got a little fiddly (tip: use a reeeeally hot iron and smack the shit outta that bad boy with a clapper. Ha!).

Moss Mini

Moss Mini

As far as how I’m gonna wear this skirt? I dunno. I like the way it looks with my white button-down, but the combo feels a little fussy for a breezy summer. The lower rise is also throwing me off, as tucked in shirts just don’t look nearly as good (and this shirt is long enough to where it needs it; it looks sloppy otherwise). I’m thinking I’ll just make a bunch of plain tshirts that hit right at the waistband seam, and just swap out the colors according to my mood.

Moss Mini

Now let’s plaid “find that seam!”

Moss Mini

I debated how to cut the back yoke. Originally, I planned on matching it with the back of the skirt, so the pattern wasn’t broken up – but then I realized you wouldn’t be able to tell there was a yoke there. I stand by my mis-matched yoke (and slightly mis-matched waistband, ah well), but I still think a close match would have looked good too.

Moss Mini

There’s the flat-felled seam! Omg you guys, I changed out soooo much thread to make this stupid skirt. All interior seams are white, all topstitched seams are navy. Since every seam gets sewn twice (first the inside, then the topstitching for the flat fell), you can imagine how much I was changing thread to make this. Of course, I have 3 more machines that I could have set up to speed things along. Did I bother? Naw.

Moss Mini

I made a couple of changes to the waistband. I kept the extra length that was left (from me taking in the side seams) and used it to create an underlap for a flat button. I’ve found that I prefer this kind of waistband finish, as a non-underlap waistband – on me, anyway – tends to pull funny. I also used a hook and eye to close the front, instead of a button. I dunno, I just like the clean finish of no button!

Moss Mini

And here’s the inside! I serged the pocket edges and the fly front/facing, but everything else is flat-felled (with the white thread on the inside – see how good it looks??). I’m really really happy with how the inside of this skirt looks. So clean!

Moss Mini

I guess that’s it! Question: What color tshirts should I be making to wear with this skirt? I’m filling up my Mood cart right now…

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

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??

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