Tag Archives: organic

Completed: the Meissa Blouse

28 Feb

I think every sewist has a dream fabric that they’ve spent years searching for in vain. It’s not necessarily a weird combination of prints and colors on a totally inappropriate weave, but whatever the specific end result is, it’s nowhere to be found. I have two – a wide (like 3″ or more) white and navy striped twill, and a bicycle print that is NOT quilting cotton.

Meissa Blouse

I gave up on the stripes, but the bicycle print really haunts me. I’ve seen some cute little stylized bikies (see my Bicycley Belladone for an example), but I was holding out for that literal printed-bike-on-some-lightweight-cotton-in-a-nice-color-combination that didn’t seem to exist. And NO pennyfarthings! I want real bikes, not some super hipster twiddly mustache crap.

Meissa Blouse

I had this particular fabric in mind when I was contacted by Organic Cotton Plus with offers to try out some of their yardage. I’d just been back from snooping at Brooks Brothers, specifically zeroing in on this Bicycle print button-up. Isn’t that shit amazing? Argh! So I thought to myself, “Cool, well I’ll just get a stamp and make my own, yeah? Oh, they don’t have any batiste in good colors… but they do have dye…”

And this, my friends, is how I ended up with two yards of white cotton batiste, emerald green Procion dye and some weird little bag of soda ash. Have I gotten in over my head? Probably.

Meissa Blouse

My first couple of days were preparing the fabric – first, I dyed it in a bucket (for real; I stood at the kitchen sink with a my Kindle on Netflix and squished it around the water while wearing gloves, ha!). I wish I would have used a bit more dye in my mix; the end result color is pretty, but it is lighter than the emerald green I was anticipating. On the flip side, though, the dye took evenly all the way across the fabric, so yay!

After I finished the dye bath and let the fabric dry, I took to stamping the entire yardage with a rubber stamp and fabric paint (I blobbed my paint into a dried-up ink pad to make it easier to use). I thought this part was gonna take forever, but it wasn’t too bad! Since stamping tends to look pretty, well, stamped (i.e., it’s not exact and you won’t get a perfect image transfer every single time), I didn’t follow any straight lines and just kind of stamped around haphazardly. After I cut the pieces, I re-stamped a few that had big gaps. This particular ink is great because you don’t have to heat-set it to keep it from washing out (which is good bc I’d spent long enough prepping the fabric, so one less end task is good in my book!), and the ink itself absorbs into the fabric and is not stiff.

Meissa Blouse

Other than the dye reaction it had (which is I think my fault for not making a strong enough dye bath, oops. Live and learn!), I really enjoyed working with this fabric. The batiste is one of those good ones that feels like there’s silk or something smooth and luscious blended in the fabric, but it is truly 100% cotton (and organic, no less!). Because it is cotton, it presses well, which makes it perfect for shirtmaking. It’s also not super sheer like some batistes – even the virgin white would be fine for a shirt. Always a plus in my book!

Meissa Blouse

The pattern I used is the Meissa Blouse from my beloved Papercut Patterns. I love this pattern because it’s a casual button-up without being an Archer (which I obviously LOOOVE, but hey yo, a girl’s gotta branch out!), ha. The little feminine details – the rounded collar, the shoulder yokes with the little gathers, the double buttons – seemed like a good match for this fabric, and a nice nod to my original inspiration without being a blatant copy.

Meissa Blouse

The pattern instructions make this thing really, really easy. Katie has had lots of praise around the webs for how good they are, and it’s all try! Really basic, really straightforward, and beautiful results. I did change a few things just because I’ve hit my personal shirtmaking stride – I flat-felled every seam (the way the shirt is made, only the side and underarm seams are not enclosed, so it’s not like you have a flat fell a million seams to do this) and I pulled in the waist an additional 1/2″ or so. I also shortened the sleeves by about 1″.

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

Whatever I did to the sleeve seams now means that I cannot button the cuffs around my wrist – they are WAY too small! Whoops! Oh well, this is totally a summer shirt, and I’ll never wear those sleeves rolled down anyway. Ha!

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

To keep the shirt from being overwhelmingly green, I added some cotton braid to the inside of the button band (butted up right against the stitching line) and inside the sleeve cuffs.

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

The sleeve cuff treatment is something I saw on the Brook’s Brothers shirt (seriously… if you have a Brooks Brothers in your area, you should snoop it. Some of the finishing inside the clothes there was pretty awesome!). There was a little piece of petersham ribbon tucked in the seam at the top of the cuff, which shows when you flip up the cuffs. Using that inspiration, I tried to do the same thing with my shirt. It’s a liiiiiittle sloppy because I was experimenting, but I like how it turned out! It even makes me ok with the fact that I can’t use the cuffs :)

Meissa Blouse

I’m super happy with all the detailing on the shirt. I used lots of topstitching so it would really stand out.

Meissa Blouse

And hey, check it out – the shirt is long enough to where I can tie the bottom in a knot, like a fashion blogger or some shit.

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

~So fashun.

Meissa Blouse

I still have quite a bit of the dye & soda ash left over. I’m thinking I may buy a load of silk and sandwash the shit out of it. My friend Elizabeth uses soda ash to prewash her silks into this amazing textured wonderland, so I can’t wait to try that! I will definitely report back with results. First, I gotta find a washing machine, though ;)

Ok, ONE last thing – and I promise this is a good one! Remember The Great British Sewing Bee and how we (we as in Americans, ha) bitched about not having a US version of the show? Well, I was contacted by a Love Productions, who is in the process of producing and casting a pilot for – you guessed it – an American version, called The Sewing Bee! They are currently on the hunt for amateur sewists in the NY, CT & NJ area (although if they get picked up, they will expand to nationwide). I actually ended up talking to one of the producers on the phone and I’m really excited to hear about the plans they have in the works – such as, the show will differ slightly from the UK version in that there will be a different set of contestants and winners every week. One thing that is similar is how they plan on editing – as far as I know, it will be as drama-free as the UK version, which is what I like most about it!

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Click here for a bigger version of the flyer

If you’re in the area (or don’t mind traveling and camping out for a couple of weeks, I guess), you should definitely try out for the show! And then report back to me, because I want to see y’all on the teeeveeee!

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Completed: the Organic Hawthorn

7 Aug

First of all, thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Colette Hawthorn Contest – I somehow ended winning second place! Such a wonderful surprise, and do check out those other winners – because, guys, I’m not worthy.

With that being said, I love this pattern and I’ve already made a second dress.

Navy Hawthorn

I realized that my wardrobe was severely lacking some basic, work-appropriate, tattoo-covering clothing (we are fairly casual here at my office, but I think it’s good to have a few pieces that err more on the professional side should I need it for meetings or important clients dropping in), and a Hawthorn with sleeves pretty much fits the bill here.

Navy Hawthorn

It’s modest and sleek without being frumpy, vintage-inspired without being costumey. Win!

Navy Hawthorn

I am super happy with how it turned out, however, I am NOT happy with those bust dart points. I promise you they look 1000% worse in the pictures than they do in real life – according to these photos, I have two sets of eyes D: I resewed the dart tips more times than I care to admit – lowering them, raising them, tapering them more subtly – as well as pressing the everloving fuck out of them. No dice. Like I said, they’re not as bad in real life as they look here, but now I can’t stop staring at them oh god I’m sorry.

Navy Hawthorn

Anyway, dart issues aside – we’ve already discussed the pattern, so today we are going to talk about the fabric!

Navy Hawthorn

This is organic cotton sateen, from my pals at Organic Cotton Plus (my second review for this – they liked my my first review so much, they came back for a second round :P). I’ve not had much experience with cotton sateen – most of what I’ve seen has been the sort of fabric I shy away from. Think super shiny (if you like shiny, that’s totally fine, but personally I always feel like I’m wearing a prom dress!), too much stretch, and much too stiff for my liking. This stuff is NOTHING like what I described, though. Don’t let the boobie-eyes deter you; there ain’t much shine on this fabric, other than a spectacular luster that comes from high-quality cotton and a gorgeously deep pigment.

Navy Hawthorn

The fabric has a great drape – it just floats and creates the most lovely folds. It’s pretty lightweight, with no stretch, which makes it ideal for this pattern. And since it’s cotton, it’s super comfortable to wear. It also wrinkles like crazy, because of the aforementioned cotton, but I’m ok with a few wrinkles – I’d rather have wrinkles than pools of sweat from polyester!

Navy Hawthorn]

This is a great basic if you want to make something in a solid color but feel bored with the idea of, well, solid colors.

Navy Hawthorn

Both the buttons and the monogram are from the flea market. I think they both add something special to the dress, while still keeping it office-appropriate.

Navy Hawthorn

I love the monogram! It’s actually metal, and has sharp bars at the back that pierce the fabric and bend to keep it in place. Which means it’s never coming off this dress… except to wash, I guess. I’m not sure how old it is, but it’s pretty sweet! I’ve been hoarding it for a few months now, waiting on the perfect shirtwaist backdrop.

Navy Hawthorn

Soo, as you can see here, I tried splitting the dart on this version, following the tutorial at the Coletterie. I’m not totally happy with how the darts turned out – they are too close together at the top (and I suspect that, while they likely aren’t 100% of my nipple-eye problems, they likely contribute to it, ugh). I didn’t realize how they looked until after I’d put the bodice front together- and cut up all my fabric. Shoulda made a muslin, shoulda woulda coulda.

Navy Hawthorn

Oh well!

Navy Hawthorn

Quick, look at this! Shiny!!

Navy Hawthorn

I trimmed the hem with matching rayon seam binding, and catch-stitched it down for a clean finish (and yeah, that took forrrever haha). I’m mostly including this picture because it really shows the color best. It’s so rich!

Navy Hawthorn
Navy Hawthorn

The dart points aren’t as prominent here – this is much more accurate of how they look in real life. Still… how do I fixxxx thiisssss????

Navy Hawthorn

Navy Hawthorn

I think this dress will end up getting a lot of wear this fall! I can’t wait to pair it with future Kelly Green cardigan – navy and green is one of my favorite color combinations at the moment. I better get knittin’!

Completed: White Tshirts. Yes, Tshirts.

1 Feb

At the risk of really beating this dead horse to the ground- I like making solid, every day basics. Boring shit like plain pants, tshirts, solid knit dresses, and I’ve got my eye on making underwear as well. I mean, making a bunch of party dresses is super fun, don’t get me wrong – but there are only so many frilly/froofy dresses I can fill my closet with before I start pulling my hair out on Saturday morning whining that I don’t have anything to weeeear. And I, too, have read Overdressed, which basically punched me in the face the same way that Fast Food Nation punched the rest of the world in the stomach. I can’t even walk in the mall anymore now without yelling about polyester and stitch lengths. It’s insane and no one wants to go shopping with me these days… not that I do much “shopping” as it is.

So, I’m ok with sewing my own basics. I like that I make a tshirt for roughly the same cost as something from the mall, except I can control the fit as I like it and I also know the hem stitches aren’t going to fall out the first time I throw it in the wash. Maybe making tshirts is simple and the exact opposite of exciting, but sometimes I’m having a bad day and I just want to make something without thinking to much about it – and for me, that perfect something is the tshirt. Some people bake when they’re in a bad mood. I make tshirts.

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Organic Cotton Plus and asked if I would like to sample some of their organic fabrics. Yeah! I chose the white interlock knit and set to work making some basics. In organic because, yeah, I be fancy.

Organic Renfrew- V-Neck
I used my beloved Renfew pattern and made two tops. Here’s the v-neck -probably could have stood to make that v a little more, uh, v-like, but it ain’t too bad for a first attempt. The secret, I’ve learned, is to sew the neck band on a regular sewing machine first, and then serge the edges after. Otherwise, the blades of the serger will chop a big ol’ hole in the middle of your tshirt when you try to pivot (and disabling the blades just makes a huge mess, oh god). I know this because I actually tried to do the v-neck version several months ago, and it failed. Also, I realize I just lied to y’all about this being a first attempt. I’m sorry, I’ll never lie to you again~.

Organic Renfrew- V-Neck
I made no changes to the pattern (other than my initial fitting changes), except I did not add the hem band. I just hemmed the bottom with a double needle and used my walking foot.

Organic Renfrew- V-Neck

Organic Renfrew- V-Neck

Organic Renfrew - Scoop Neck
I also made a scoop neck!

Organic Renfrew - Scoop Neck
Making tshirts is FUN!

Organic Renfrew - Scoop Neck
I actually really really love this fabric. It is the *perfect* weight for a basic Renfrew – super soft, a bit of stretch (but not all slinky like jersey – which I love, but there is a time and a place for slinky jersey) with a good hefty weight. Even though it’s white, it’s actually quite opaque – the scoop-neck top has neon yellow twill tape on the shoulders. Can you see it? NOPE. I’m pretty sure I could get away with wearing a neon bra under these and on one would be the wiser.

Organic Renfrew
Plus, the fabric is less than $9 a yard. So yes, a teeny bit more expensive than F21 – but it’s also light years nicer, as well as ethically-sourced. Which I’m totally willing to pay extra for.

Organic Renfrew

Organic Renfrew

Organic Renfrew

And while we’re on the subject of paying extra for ethical fashion… didja see my new jeans?

Imogene Stretch
WELL LOOK AT THEM.
Before you get all excited and start freaking out, I didn’t make these. As much as I wish I was a jean-making-master like Taylor Tailor, I can’t make a good pair of jeans to save my life. I don’t even think it’s a matter of fit anymore – I just don’t like the denim that is currently available. As much as I love love love my Thurlow jeans, I rarely wear them because the fabric just sucks. They stretch out so much over the course of the day, they are huge and baggy by the time I take them off – and I’ve sized them down twice now. Ugh. So I give up. Jeans, you win. I will buy you from now on.

Imogene Stretch
So here’s the deal – like, I dunno, every single woman I know, standard jeans just don’t fit me right. They are too big in the waist, too tight in the thighs, and the length is always much too long (and I’m too lazy to hem my own jeans, let’s be real here). I guess I could fix the waist issue by wearing a belt, but I hate wearing belts with pants, not to mention I don’t even own any belts that fit around my hips. Plus, the denim is just shitty. I bought some GAP jeans a couple of years ago and they’re already getting holes – and I barely even wear them! So I recently got rid of all my jeans – I had almost a dozen pairs – and bought one pair. I only own one pair of jeans now, and here they are.

Imogene Stretch
These are made by Imogene and Willie, and they are the Imogene Stretch. I’m not going to sugar coat – they were fucking expensive. Actually, these jeans are the most expensive piece of clothing I have ever owned. This is also the first piece of new/non-sale clothing I’ve bought in several years (and yes, I bought them with my own money. Ha, I WISH I+W would give me free jeans!). So, why would I spend $200+ on one pair of jeans, you might ask?
- They are made here in Nashville, TN, by a small business. I like supporting small businesses. I like knowing my money is going back into my community.
- The materials are amazing. The denim is high-quality and wears beautifully (and it’s woven in the USA! Yeah!). I also get 3 free repairs, should I happen to gouge a hole in them or some shit.
- The fit is better than any pair of pants I’ve ever owned. I dunno about you, but I’d rather own one pair of well-fitting pants than a dozen pairs of ill-fitting pants. I have no waist gap, the legs fit perfectly, and the length was hemmed to my exact measurements when I bought them.
- THEY LOOK DAMN GOOD ON ME.

Also, the workmanship is just beautiful-
Imogene Stretch
The topstitching is three different colors. Can you see it?

Imogene Stretch

Imogene Stretch

Imogene Stretch

I’m not posting this because I secretly want everyone to stop shopping at fast fashion places (ok, I kinda do – in a perfect world. But that’s not really attainable right now, and not everyone has that kind of budget! ;)). I mean, I just bought a pair of Keds the other day. Whatever. But… know when to pick your battles. Know what matters to you, and what you can let slide. And personally for me – I’ll make what I can, and buy local when I can find and afford it, and not feel bad if I occasionally have to buy shoes at Macy’s. Small changes eventually equal big changes.

Organic Renfrew

Organic Renfrew

~*~Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post, although I did receive a fabric sample from Organic Cotton Plus to review & keep. All opinions on this product are my own.

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