Tag Archives: plaid

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

31 Oct

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

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

Margot PJs

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

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

Margot PJs

Margot PJs

MOSTLY THAT IT’S FREAKING ADORABLE!

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

Margot PJs

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

Margot PJs

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

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

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

Margot PJs

SUP, MARGOT. How YOU doin’?!

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

Margot PJs

Margot PJs

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

Margot PJs

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

Margot PJs

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

Margot PJs

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

Margot PJs

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

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

Margot PJs

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

Margot PJs

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

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

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

Margot PJs

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

Margot PJs

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

Margot PJs

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

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

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

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

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

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Completed: Travel Gear (aka I am a weirdo)

24 Oct

Hey everyone! This post is a little different from what I normally blog about… instead of showing y’all some (probably awesome)piece of clothing I made, today is all about the non-clothes crafty stuff! Yay!

And, before you start side-eyeing me – this isn’t in partnership or sponsorship or anything like that with anyone. I’m honestly just really excited about my upcoming trip and I wanted new ~travel accessories~ (especially since all I own is basically my old suitcase!). Except, once I started looking at the goods on Etsy (and, if we’re being honest – Amazon. And Target. Haha!), I found myself poo-pooing everything because it wasn’t cute/wasn’t exactly what I wanted/ugh I can make that myself. Rather than start doing idiot shit like buy a new suitcase (my suitcase, while definitely old – there are receipts in the pocket from when we visited Disney World as a family. In 1994, I might add. – it still perfectly functioning and absolutely does not need to be replaced unless I just suddenly run of out ways to spend my money), I figured I’d channel my energy into making these little accessories. And you know what? This kind of sewing is pretty fun – especially when there’s no fitting involved :)

I do want to add a small disclaimer before we dive in, though – a couple of these projects include the use of scrap leather. I know the use of leather can be a subject of hot debate, and I don’t want any of y’all to look at something you don’t want to. With that being said – none of us need to be “schooled” on the evils of leather, at least not in this post. I’ve done my research, I’m ok with leather and leather scraps (I mean, I wear leather shoes and belts), and I do not want to turn the comments here to turn into a leather debate. All right! Moving on…

Travel Sewing

The first thing I made up was this little make up case. Isn’t she ADORABLE? Way cuter than anything I could buy, at least as far as my budget is concerned.

I used a Butterick 6072 to make the make up case. I actually got this pattern for free when I visited the McCall Pattern Company – I know, I know, I just told y’all this isn’t a collaborative post. It’s not! The pattern was in a bag of goodies that they handed to me when I walked in the door. I’m pretty sure no one is expecting me to write a review – I’m also pretty sure I looked at the pattern and thought, “Huh. Definitely never gonna make this shit.” hahaha. (I should also point out that, if I had bought this myself, I wouldn’t have paid more than $1 for it, thanks to Joann’s sales. So there’s that). At any rate, once I realized I was gonna have to make my own damn make-up bag, out came the pattern to be looked over with a set of fresh eyes. If you can get past the somewhat dowdy styling and fabrics on the pattern envelope, this is actually pretty cute. I almost made the matching jewelry case & make-up holder, until I realized that I totally don’t need or use those things. So, just this one bag! (but I still might make that jewelry case. Watch me.)

Travel Sewing

Anyway, this was REALLY easy to put together! I used a piece of beloved plaid wool blend fabric from my stash – I was a little hesitant to cut into it, because it’s sooo pretty (isn’t it?), but I ultimately decided to go for it because 1. It’s a wool blend, which I prefer to wear 100% wool; 2. It was a small yardage (maybe 1/2 yard); 3. That unbalanced plaid meant I probably couldn’t eek anything remote successful and matching out of it. Anyway, now I can enjoy it all the time :) This fabric came from the flea market, by the way. I have no idea it’s origins, but it feels like a thick suiting.

The pattern is interfaced with fusible fleece (there was also some of this in my McCall bag – but honestly, it kind of sucked. I don’t remember the brand, but only about half the glue dots worked. Meh.) and then lined with some navy wool blend broadcloth from my stash (if I recall, my friend Trisha’s mom gave me that, which I believe she found at a yard sale). The zipper is from my stash.

Travel Sewing

I decided to fancy things up and use a piece of leather for the handle. Ooh la la! This leather came from my last trip to Chicago – I bought a small piece at Textile Discount Outlet, having no idea what the hell I was gonna do with it. I like it as a strap, though! I sewed the two pieces wrong sides together (eliminating the seam allowances) and then topstitched onto the bag itself. The thread is just denim thread, and I used a denim needle (alas, no leather needles currently in my arsenal). I can’t speak for *every* sewing machine, but mine was ok with the leather since it’s relatively thin. I used normal thread in my bobbin and adjusted the tension until everything looked good on both sides.

Travel Sewing

I am ridiculously pleased with how good the topstitching looks :)

Travel Sewing

I cut the top & bottom of the case on the bias, so I wouldn’t have to deal with matching the plaid any more than necessary (I also cut the back panel on the bias, but apparently did not take a photo of that angle. Sorry!) The pattern calls for a piece of cardboard at the bottom, to give the bag some structure. I also included some heavyweight interfacing (like… it’s so stiff, it practically feels like cardboard) on the top piece, because it felt really flimsy without it. I know they make lightweight plastic specifically for this purpose, but I really just wanted to destash so I went with what I had on hand!

Travel Sewing

Finally, here’s the inside! There are tiny pockets all around the perimeter and it’s fucking adorable.

I love this thing. It’s tiny, it’s cute, and I am pretty sure I can fit all my make-up/personal care shit in it. Yes! Win for me!

Travel Sewing

The next thing I made was this little wallet/passport case. I knew I needed something to carry my passport around it, and I also wanted it to include space for cards, cash, as well as a zippered pouch for change. I spent FOREVER looking for something on Etsy – and again, everything was just a *little* bit off from what I wanted (mostly lack of a zippered change pouch, interestingly enough. Excuse me, I need that change in case I have to pay for a toilet!). Argh!

Some more perusing of Etsy turned up this pattern – Passport Wallet from Teethy McGee Digitals. It’s a downloadable PDF with options for including card pockets and a change pouch, an elastic closure, and the whole thing costs $4.50. Perfect!

Travel Sewing

I made the option with a card holder on one side, and the change pouch on the opposite. Like I said, it is perfect! You can see my passport barely peeking out on the left side (side with my sneaky fingers). The opposite side, under the zippered pouch, can hold my cash. I know there are only 2 card holders – and I totally agonized over whether to add more, but in the end decided that I really only need 2 cards while I’m overseas – my debit card and my driver’s license (yeah, I know, the passport is ID King over there, but I feel weird without my DL!). I won’t be carrying my credit card on my person (it’s literally just for emergencies – like, actual emergencies, not “Ooh girl, are those shoes on sale?” emergencies), my health insurance card is useless over there, and…. actually, those are all the cards I have. Ha!

Travel Sewing

Here it is without the passport because, I dunno. Why not?

Travel Sewing

This was SO FUN to put together – even with matching the plaid! The instructions, while brief, were fairly straightforward. I decided to interface both large pieces of the plaid – the outer & the inner – so it would have some structure. Which brings me to my confession: I couldn’t find a decent medium-weight interfacing in my stash – everything I have is lightweight – so I ended up using my mega expensive Pro Weft Shirt Crisp Fusible Interfacing because, well, it was on hand and I haven’t even cut into it yet. And hey, it seemed to work all right! Ok, go ahead and stone me now :P

Anyway, the whole thing is sewn by machine – no hand sewing required – and I added a rectangle of leather to the outside for a more ~masculine~ look. I also made a little leather pull for the zipper – just sliced off a thin piece and fed it though. The elastic is actually lingerie elastic – from when I made my second Soma Swimsuit. Again, it matched! What do you expect from me!?

Travel Sewing

I love that it closes with elastic, so I don’t have to worry about my passport falling out. I love that there is a zippered pouch, so no paid toilets will be out of my reach (yes, I spend a lot of time thinking about toilets, and I’m not sorry about that. When you gotta go, you gotta go!). And, obviously, I love that it matches my make-up bag! Yesss!

I would have loved to show y’all a shot of this with all my cards & such tucked in, but the pockets are shallow enough that you can really get an eyeful of the numbers on them. Sooo, yeah, you get a matchbook. Sorry.

And now, prepare for a let-down because the last thing I made is admittedly pretty boring-

Travel Sewing
Travel Sewing

A MATCHING SLEEP MASK, HEY-O!

Seriously easy. I used this free pattern from Instructables (thank you, random Google) and the same fabrics/lingerie elastic with self-made bias tape. I don’t think this one needs much explaining. It’ll be nice for my flights, though- especially that red-eye I take arriving in.

Anyway, that’s it! Super rando post, but these are some pieces I felt I needed, and I’m so happy I didn’t have to buy them (and SO delighted that they match! Yay! It’s the little things, ha :) ). I am dying to make the Portside Travel Set next, but it’ll have to wait until post-London, because I don’t think I’ll have time! Someday, though!

What about y’all? Anyone else here love whooping it up with some random hobby crafts? Don’t be shy, we won’t judge you! :)

Completed: Two Colette Mabels

8 Oct

I totally skipped all the hullabaloo that came out when the Colette Patterns Mabel skirt was released – but that’s ok! I’m here now, reporting for duty!

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

I actually made two – just to be safe!

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

Let’s start with a basic Mabel lowdown. I made the grey version first, out of some leftover ponte knit that I used to make a pair of Ooh La Leggings (not pictured – because neither photographed nor blogged, but they are basically the same thing as these black ponte leggings except, you know, grey). I actually have no idea why I bothered saving that little piece of fabric, because it was about half a yard and thus not enough to do anything with – and the ponte is pretty thick, which means it wouldn’t work for something like, say, colorblocking a tshirt (which can be a good use of leftover knit scraps, if you tend to get hoardy like I do). Anyway, it’s a good thing I did, because I had exactly enough to make a little Mabel mini! Yay! I love it when these things work out!

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

Mabel Mini 1 is view A, size XS. I sewed the pattern exactly as per the directions, except I opted to understitch the waistband lining (I used my machine’s lightning bolt stitch – kind of like a very short zig zag stitch), to keep it from sticking out. The seams of the skirt were sewn on my serger, and the hem is done with a twin needle. From cutting, to sewing, to hemming – this entire thing took… I dunno, maybe 30 minutes? It was VERY fast.

I didn’t really use the instructions – I mean, it’s a knit skirt, it doesn’t need much introduction – but they looked to be pretty good, based on my glance over. Like the Moneta pattern, they include lots of tips and info on how to sew knits with a regular machine, which is always nice. The only thing I did not like about this pattern was taping it together (I have the PDF). Holy shit, talk about too many pages! My disdain for PDFs is no secret (I get why other people like/need them… no defense necessary :) But for me? Nope, no way! Can’t do it!), so maybe I’m biased – but this one seemed to be unnecessarily large & unwieldy. My advice: get the paper pattern. Ha!

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

Anyway, speedy instaskirt is the reason why I obviously needed to jump right into Mabel Mini 2 immediately after :P

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

I made a couple very minor changes for this one – I took in the center back and side seams by about 3/8″ (in retrospect, I should have taken in more, because it’s still a little loose around the waist and thus rides down farther than I want the rise to sit), as well as the waistband by the same amount. I used the last of my black striped ponte from Mood Fabrics NYC store. Again – 30 minute skirt. Talk about fast fashion, amirite.

Colette Mabel
Colette Mabel
Colette Mabel

For both skirts, I used a lightweight black rayon jersey (the same jersey that my black tshirt is made out of, incidentally. That tshirt is a Renfrew, by the way!) to line the waistband. I considered using a self-lining – but decided the fabric was a smidge too bulky, so I went with a lighter weight lining, which ended up being a Good Decision.

Oh yeah! I made that plaid flannel button down too! SUP!

Grainline Archer

This was made using the Archer pattern. I actually finished it waaaay back in… March. Yep. I got it in my head that I needed to make a new plaid Archer to wear when I went to NY, so I nearly killed myself trying to finish the shirt in something crazy like 2 days. I did end up finishing it – and bringing it to NY to wear – and I learned two things about the experience:
1. My life did not suddenly become more fabulous because I had a new shirt to wear while on vacation; and
2. Pushing myself to the point of exhaustion to finish something for a self-imposed deadline is not fun at all. Seriously – it’s shitty, it makes me anxious for no reason, and I didn’t enjoy any part of sewing that shirt. Which is sad, because button downs are one of my favorite things to sew! I love how precise the stitching is, and all the little details that make it special. I unfortunately didn’t get to enjoy any of that because I was too rushed trying to hurry up and finish (when, realistically, I should have either started earlier, or accepted that I just wouldn’t finish before I left), and yeah, that’s just lame.

So, with that being said – no more unnecessary last-minute vacation sews with shitty deadlines! If I need clothing that quickly, I will buy it (lol jk I’LL NEVER BUY CLOTHES AGAIN)(ok, seriously, kidding with that last part… mostly.). So far, I’ve done a decent enough job of putting this into practice, so that’s good!

Grainline Archer

And, for what it’s worth – I do like the shirt. I could have done a better job with it – the topstitching is not my best, and the grain is all wonky because the plaid fabric was hideously off grain (like, to the point where I actually cut the entire shirt twice. Yes. I did that. And it’s still pretty bad) – but it is what it is. It’s snuggly, it’s warm, and I also just realized that I made it to match the leggings that I made with the rest of that grey ponte fabric hahaha omg my life is fabulous.

Grainline Archer

Anyway, I hope you liked my Archer story. Have some pearl snaps.

Grainline Archer

And a sleeve placket while we’re at it!

Ok, so here’s my dilemma – and I’m hoping y’all can help me. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO WEAR WITH THESE SKIRTS. I feel like everything I put on just gives me weird proportions! The tops I’m wearing here are ok, I guess, but that’s about the extent of what my closet can offer. Most of my other tops just look… weird? I think the biggest problem is the waist line- it kind of hits at a strange place:

Colette Mabel & Grainline Archer

See what I mean? It’s about right at my belly button – which isn’t quite high waisted, and not quite low waisted. I can’t tuck anything in – partially because it’s very lumpy under the ponte, and partially because the waistline hits at a sort of wide point on my body. Untucked, most stuff just looks sloppy or gives me that weird long-abdomen proportion that we just loved soo much in the early 00s (y’all know what I’m talking about!). So yeah, can’t figure that one out. Any suggestions? Should I stick with more fitted, cropped sweaters (such as what the model is wearing on the website)? HELP ME I CAN’T ADULT.

Colette Mabel & Sewaholic Renfrew

Anyway, let’s talk! Answer one or more of the following:
– What shirts should I be wearing with these skirts?
– Have you ever made yourself sick by rushing to complete a garment before going somewhere?
– What happened when you finished it? Did a unicorn grant you 3 wishes or did you just realize that life was still doing life things and dammit is it Monday already?
– Seriously, though, what should I wear with these skirts?

** Necessary disclaimer: I received the Colette Mabel skirt from Sarai of Colette patterns, gratis. No review was requested – but as always, all opinions are my own. All fabrics in this post were purchased by me :) I do get a monthly Mood allowance, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t also spend plenty of my own money there! Just wanted to clear that up :)

Completed: The Emery Dress

10 Mar

I am SO LATE to this freaking party – but better late than never, right? :)

Emery dress

Behold – it’s an Emery Dress! Sent to me by the lovely Christine Haynes, I was anxious to try out this pattern for myself (have you seen these popping up all over the internet? Everyone’s versions are AMAZING! Some of my favorites – Miss Crayola Creepy, SewTell, The Nerdy Seamstress, By Gum, By Golly!, ShanniLoves, Sew I Thought… ok, I’ll stop now, but you get the idea!). This little lady regularly gets rave reviews on the fit, construction, and overall look, and I think it’s pretty well-deserved.

Emery dress

So, my experience with Emery didn’t go quite as smoothly as everyone else’s – this was the dress that sucked me down the SIX MUSLIN SPIRAL OF DOOM, but once I got that out of the way, the rest of the construction came together easily. Even matching up the plaid was easy, since there aren’t a lot of pieces to contend with (although I totally done goofed mine up… more on that in a minute).

Emery dress

I’ll start with the muslin experience. Since figuring out that I have big back-gaping issues (and since that’s not really something that can be easily tweaked after the pattern pieces have been cut out of the fabric), I always always make a muslin, at least for just the bodice. My muslin for this dress turned out perfect in the front – darts in the correct place, ending at the correct points, perfectly fitting at all key points, yay! – but the back stuck straight out between my shoulder blades. I tried my usual adjustment, and instead of working – it actually made things worse! Thus, I started the muslin spiral: I played with moving around the slash line, I tried adding different amounts, I tried altering the center back seam and I tried adding fucking gigantic darts at the neckline. Those last two attempts were really really awful, by the way – if you tweak the back neckline too hard, you’ll end up throwing off the balance of the front neckline so it pooches out all weird. NOT a good look!

Of course, by the time I realized I couldn’t crack this pattern, I was also 5 muslins in and feeling stubborn enough to refuse giving up. Not to mention, I was getting super desperate and pissy because everyone else seemed to have NO problems whatsoever with fitting this pattern. Look at everyone’s backs – they fit perfectly. This was starting to make me feel like I had a freak body or some shit.

Emery dress

So how did I fix this mystery back pattern? After combing through my fit books and googling everything I could think of, I ended up landing on the narrow back adjustment (this shows something similar to what I did, although I pulled mine from Fit For Real People so it’s slightly different). That did the trick! No gape! I feel like a fitting PRO, y’all!

Emery dress

I think it’s really important to point out that just because *I* had some fitting issues with the back bodice, that doesn’t mean that you should be scared to try this pattern! Like I said, pretty much every other version I’ve seen praises how well it fits straight out of the envelope. Everyone’s body is shaped differently, and it makes me real cringy when I read that someone recommends against a pattern because they had a bad fit experience (unless it’s just a bad fit across the board – which happens, but it’s rare!). Your (or my!) fit experience =/= everyone else’s fit experience, so just keep that in mind! Ok, soapbox rant over!

Emery dress

Anyway, this dress was super simple to whip up after I figured all the fitting shit out. Cutting was a beast; not only did I choose a large scale, unbalanced plaid as my fabric – I only had about 1 3/4 yards, which meant I had to be VERY careful with my layout. Happily, I was able to match up the side seams on the bodice… but check out that skirt seam. I was concentrating so hard on matching up the plaid lines, that I didn’t think to match up the GIANT BLOCKS OF COLOR. Which means the plaid doesn’t match at all on the skirt. Oops! Learn from my mistakes, people :)

Emery dress

Because I barely had any fabric, I had to cut some corners on other parts of the dress. I originally wanted to make the collar in the same plaid fabric – but I couldn’t get the pieces to mirror each other, and it looked really stupid on my dressform, so I used my lining fabric (originally cut to be the underside of the collar) on top instead. I think it actually really works this way – makes the dress a little less twee. My lining fabric is the same silky delicious purple cotton batiste that I used with my Victoria Blazer, and I used every single last bit of those scraps!

Emery dress

I also used the batiste for the pockets, because, again, fabric restraints :)

Emery dress

I think the biggest/most visible changes I made are the lack of sleeves and the shortened hemline. I cut a good 4″ off this hemline – it really helped with conserving fabric, plus, I just don’t like knee-length hemlines on me! – and then folded up a 2″ hem allowance. I didn’t make any bodice changes to account for the lack of sleeves, I just… didn’t add them! Ha! I waffled with the idea of using plaid bias to close the arm holes, but I ran of of plaid… so the arm holes are just slip-stitched closed. Nothing fancy here!

Emery dress

I’ll admit, when I finally stuck the zipper in this dress and stood in front of the mirror, I thought it looked really unflattering on me! Listen, I am not the type of person to pretend like I think I’m fat (I know I’m not, and I’m not going to fish for compliments either), but something about that gathered skirt + plaid really made me look wider than I am. Even Landon, who never ever sees unflattering things the same way I do, noticed it. I kind of assumed so since I don’t think gathered skirts are very flattering on my shape, but again – everyone else’s Emery’s were soooo cute and flattering! Ugh, Lauren!

I really think adding the belt helps – it separates the bodice from the gathered skirt, which visually makes me look smaller in the waist. Of course, now that I’m looking at these pictures, it looks totally fine! I think it’s one of those things that just looks better in pictures than it does in real life :)

Emery dress

That being said, I totally plan on living in this dress all summer. The plaid cotton is lightweight and comfortable, it’s super cute, and I just really love it! Although I’ll probably keep the belt; mostly because that vertical line isn’t matched perfectly (due to the gathers) and it’s making me feel twitchy ;)

Emery dress

Emery dress

(psst, aren’t my earrings so perfect for this dress? I just got them from ChatterBlossom, gahhh, she always has the best stuff!)

Emery dress

Emery dress

Emery dress

This pattern is labeled as an Intermediate, but know that the instructions are very very thorough and super hand-holdy, so I think a confident beginner could easily tackle this shit. Christine also has an extremely detailed Emery Sewalong on her blog with lots and lots of pictures, in case you get stuck. But seriously – you can do this!

Emery dress

If you’re lovin on Emery but haven’t made the jump to purchase, keep an eye on this space – I have a copy to give away later this week!

Also, check it out:

Yay spring!

SPRING IS HAPPENING RIGHT HERE IN MY YARD HOLY SHIT.

Completed: The Vogue Coat

9 Jan

Ahhh, it’s finished! A little past all my self-imposed deadlines, but whatever – I have a new coat! Finally!

Vogue Coat - Done!

Of course, now I wish I’d given it a catchier name than “the Vogue coat,” but ehhh, too late now. Let’s just look at how nice my coat looks, yeah? :)

Vogue Coat - Done!

I guess there’s not much else to say about the making of this coat- I’ve outlined it pretty heavily here and here. Once I finished with all the pad stitching and steaming and general tailoring funsies, the rest of the coat came together quite quickly – especially since I’d already sewn up my lining and had it waiting for me.

Actually, let’s talk about inserting the lining real quick because I thought it was interesting how the pattern had me do it – I sewed the entire coat to completion – finished the backs of the bound button holes, sewed on the buttons, hemmed the bottom and the sleeves, stitched down the facings with long running stitches – and then inserted the lining by hand with slip stitches. At first, I tried to think up ways to not have to do this so I could just bag the lining like in RTW (one thing I learned how to do at Muna’s, man, we sewed sooo many coats there haha), but I eventually decided to just go with the instructions because I liked the way the finished coat felt with everything securely sewn down (bagging a lining, at least the way I learned, means that the facing and hem are left open and then you have to go back in and thread tack everything, which I sort of hated). Plus, the lining will be easy to remove and re-attach should I ever need to replace it. Considering that I plan on keeping this coat for a long time – or, at least, as long as I continue to fit into it :) – I’ll probably end up shredding the lining long before the coat needs to be repaired.

Vogue Coat - Done!

Oh, you wanted to see the lining? Sure thing!

Vogue Coat - Done!

It’s red! Shiny shiny red!!

Vogue Coat - Done!

I can’t even tell you how happy I am that I decided to go with the silk charmeuse instead of the Bemberg Rayon or China Silk that I was originally considering. This stuff is LUSH. It’s so heavy and wonderful, which makes it easy to sew and press, and it’s so shiny and gorgeous! I can’t get enough of it! Totally takes that coat game up a notch, don’t you think?

Vogue Coat - Done!

I am just really happy with this coat. It’s surprisingly warm, considering how light the wool is and the fact that I only underlined it with silk organza – when I took these pictures, it was like 25* outside, and I felt fine. It’s also pretty lightweight, making it easy to carry around (after I took these pictures, I spent the day at the mall with my BFF and the coat fit easily in my purse strap while I walked around. So nice!).

Vogue Coat - Done!

Not to mention, it’s just awesome. I’ve always wanted a plaid coat. And now I have one!

Vogue Coat - Done!
Vogue Coat - Done!

And unlike mall coats, my plaid actually matches ;)

Vogue Coat - Done!

I love the topstitching on this coat. I used proper topstitching thread so you can really see it, and my machine had no trouble plowing through all the layers of coating and hair canvas.

Vogue Coat - Done!

Here’s a dorky fact about me – I love setting in coat sleeves! Really! Instead of using gathering stitches and all that nonsense, I use this cool little trick that uses a bias strip of fabric (for this coat, it was pajama flannel, ha!) to ease the sleeve head before you attach it to the armhole. Lolita patterns has a great tutorial on exactly how to do this, and even some tips of on what kind of fabric to use. I’ve used this technique for all my coats and I pretty much always get perfect results.

Vogue Coat - Done!

Here’s the coat without my distracting cowl. I ended up going with these black glass buttons as I like how they are simple enough to not distract from all the plaid going on with the coat fabric.

Vogue Coat - Done!

One thing that really upped my game with the coat this year was that I had a new iron to steam the shit out of things with! I ended up getting a gravity feed iron for Christmas (yay! Thank you, mom!!) and I can’t even tell you how delighted I am with the pressing output from that thing. It gets SO HOT, doesn’t auto shut-off (!!!) and I also got a shoe with it so there’s no shine or melting. It’s SO awesome. My coat really benefited, too, as you can tell – see how sharp the creases are at the hems and lapels? Love. Love love love!

Vogue Coat - Done!

Y’all probably already guessed this, but I also made my little knitted cowl to go with my new coat. It seemed appropriate, especially since I had a ball of Cascade 128 in the perfect shade of red just waiting to be used. I used the Blue Streak pattern, which was easy enough to memorize so I just carried the project around in my purse and knitted a row or two during downtime. Which was all the time – Christmas morning, knitting a cowl. Sitting in the movie theater waiting for the previews to end before The Wolf of Wall Street started, knitting a cowl. Waiting in line at emissions testing, knitting a cowl. Whatever, I love how portable knitting is! Ha!

Vogue Coat - Done!

No need to knit new gloves, as it goes perfectly with my childish skeleton gloves ;)

Vogue Coat - Done!
Vogue Coat - Done!

In other cool coat-making news, I finally found a home for my Fabiani coat – my mom! It fits her perfectly, so she’s been wearing it for the past month. Yay!

Vogue Coat - Done!

Anyway, I guess that’s it! Yay for coat-making, and yay for this giant project to finally be over! :)

Tailoring the Vogue Coat

5 Dec

When I originally posted my Vogue coat muslin posts, there was quite a bit of interest about what goes in the process of making a coat from start to finish. I’m not one to tease, so here’s a glimpse into what I’ve been up to, coat-wise, for the past couple of weeks.

The first thing I should mention is that coat-making isn’t hard. It is time consuming, for sure, but anyone with a few projects under their belt could easily tackle this. It might take you a couple of months, and you may have some hair-pulling moments (either with deciphering instructions or actually trying follow them), but it’s doable. I don’t know who started this whole thing of ~omg coat-making is so hard~ (probably the same person who said that sewing with knits was also difficult. Nope! It sure ain’t!), but, ugh, just ignore them. It’s not hard. It’s time consuming, it’s expensive, and you definitely need to muslin the shit out of your pattern before you even think about cutting into your coating… but in reality, it’s not terribly different from making a lined skirt or dress. You just need to follow a few more steps. You can also totally omit the whole tailoring part, with the special interfacing and padstitching and bound button holes and all that – and then shit gets super easy (well, as super easy as sewing a lined garment can get :)). Personally, I don’t see the point in spending all that money on a garment if you’re not going to go all out and do the whole nine yards, but then again, I think tailoring is fun. So do what you will.

My first task, post-muslin, was to start cutting the plaid coating. I won’t go into detail on that process – basically the same steps as the tutorial I posted on matching plaid – and it took foreverrrr. Seriously, I think I spent close to three hours just cutting the outside fabric! WOOF. I also had to cut interfacing (I am using hair canvas, which is a hefty interfacing commonly used for tailoring purposes, such as coats!), lining, and silk organza. The silk organza was a last-minute addition – I originally wasn’t planning on underlining, although the pattern calls for it, since I don’t need my coating to be super warm in our mild winters. However, my pattern is a fairly structured peacoat, and the coating has a bit of a loose weave, so I decided to underline with silk organza to give it that nice crisp hand without adding a lot of bulk or unneeded warmth.

Vogue Coat WIP

Silk organza can be expensive, and some people like to use poly if it’s not touching the skin… but personally, if I’m going to dump all this time and money into a coat, the couple dollars in price difference doesn’t really effect my final budget. So I went with silk, since it presses nicely along with the wool.

The bonus part of using an organza underlining (or really, any underlining at all) is that you can mark directly on the underlining and you don’t have to worry about it showing through the coat fabric. I totally use a sharpie. Go ahead, judge me.

I underlined my pieces flat on my tabletop (see this tutorial if you need more info on underlining!), using silk basting thread and going alllll the way around each piece. Every piece is underlined except the facing – only because I ran out of silk organza :). I will be interfacing that piece with a fusible. This process took a long time, but it’s pretty relaxing work – perfect for grabbing the computer and watching shitty documentaries. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

After underlining, it was time to put in the bound button holes!

Vogue Coat WIP

I was actually a little scared of this part! I don’t know why – I’ve sewn plenty of successful bound button holes in my day, and used a different technique each time. Maybe I’m out of practice, but for whatever reason, I was not looking forward to this part and I definitely put it off for like, a week. Which is shitty because bound button holes are the kind of thing that get done before you do any other work on the coat, so that meant the project was put on hold until I got my ass in gear and put those damn button holes in the front piece!

To make my button holes, I wanted to try yet another technique, so I downloaded Karen’s e-book on bound button holes and followed her instructions. Folks, these are the prettiest, most perfect button holes I’ve ever made on the first try. Seriously! If you have any concerns about doing these, or have fucked them up in the past, you should definitely check out her book. I think I paid about $3.50 for it after the rate conversion. For $3.50, you really have no excuses.

Vogue Coat WIP

I mean – look at them! I even managed to match up the plaid on that particular one, ha!

Vogue Coat WIP

As I mentioned previously, the instructions include all the steps needed for a fully tailored coat, so fortunately I don’t need to compile a list of steps and modify the pattern to suit my needs. They are a little different from the previous coats I’ve made, in that some of the pieces are sewn together before you start with the interfacing and pad stitching. Personally, I like to do all that before I assemble the rest of the coat because it makes it easier to handle, but I’m also a stickler for following instructions. So, I attached the pocket, the front and side pieces (being careful to match up the plaid, which for some reason took me like an HOUR. Shifty plaid, go die.). I attached the interfacing using long basting stitches with my silk thread. This took a while, but I also recently rediscovered all my favorite awful pop-punk and ska bands from my youth, so I may or may not have had a personal dance party in the process.

Vogue Coat WIP

Here you can see some of the details – the hair canvas, the uneven permanent basting with the silk thread, my underlining, the pressed open seams. It’s coming along, that’s for sure!

Vogue Coat WIP

Next, I sewed my twill tape to the roll line of the collar. This will help the collar keep it’s shape as a wear it, since the twill tape will dictate how it falls at the fold line. You measure your twill tape to the length of the roll line, then subtract 1/4″ from the length and ease the coating to the tape and catch stitch it down. Pretty simple, but it makes a huge difference in the finished coat.

I also marked my pad stitching lines on the collar, but I forgot to take a photo. I totally used that sharpie, too. Ha!

Vogue Coat WIP

So that’s where we are now! The coat fronts have been mostly assembled – I just need to pad stitch the collar, and it’ll be ready to attach to the back and side back pieces. Obviously, it’s not anywhere near completion, but that doesn’t stop me from pinning it to my dress form and pretending it’s a coat. Call it inspiration, or call it a kick in the pants, or whatever. Either way, I’d love to finish this by Christmas, but we’ll see!

I know the plaid looks like it doesn’t match in those pictures, but the fronts are not properly overlapped. Trust me. Three hours of cutting means all the plaid fucking matches, dammit.

What’s on your sewing table this week?

Pattern Testing: The Sigma Dress

13 Nov

Umm, have you guys seen the new Constellation Collection from Papercut Patterns? Obviously, I’m biased here, but it’s pretty freaking amazing! Katie has really killed it this time, with the release of six fabulous new patterns – including a bomber jacket (which, duh, totally making that). I was lucky enough to test a pattern in this round, so I ended up making the Sigma Dress. Want to see? :)

Sigma Dress

The Sigma is a simple dress that can be made up in a variety of views/fabrics to create a different dress each time. What I love best about this pattern is the pure simplicity of it – it can be embellished however you please. Add a sweet detachable collar, sew it up in a fabulous brocade for the holidays, tough it up with an exposed zipper – it’s super versitale! And, I should point out, it’s a great pattern to sew up in a lovely plaid ;)

Sigma Dress

My Sigma has the skirt from variation 2 (small gathers at the waist; kind of hard to see in this fabric, ah!) and a weird mishmash of sleeves from both variations. I reeeeeally wanted this dress to have long sleeves, but I totally borked up the cutting, like, immediately (I blame it on the kidney stone), so I just made the sleeves as long as my fabric would allow me to. Soo, elbow-length it is!

Sigma Dress

I cut the size XXS, based on my measurements, and it was a near-perfect fit straight out of the envelope. I did have to add two small 1/4″ darts at the back neckline because it gaped a little, but that’s a pretty typical measurement for me. I also sewed in a lapped zipper at at 5/8″ seam allowance (these patterns use a 3/8″ seam allowance), to tighten the waist seam and also because I didn’t want to math.

Sigma Dress

Fair warning, this baby is SHORT! This is the actual length you see on me, and I’m 5’2″. Katie and I discussed the length, well, at length (hee, we’re like a mini-focus group), and she ultimately decided to keep the original short length because it’s cute as hell and add lengthen/shorten lines to the skirt so you can get on with your bad self and make it whatever length you want!

Sigma Dress
Sigma Dress

See that strange lightened area around the pocket? Yeeeah, that was where I applied interfacing to the wrong side of the skirt, sewed up the pocket, stuck it on the dressform and realized my stupid fabric was identical right/wrong side and I had used the wrong side as the right side. Meaning, my unbalanced plaid did not match at ALL at the waistline. After mulling over it for a couple of days, I carefully shredded off the interfacing and tried to wash the glue off, but as you can see – a little still remains. It’s not totally noticeable, but it *is* there. Something to keep in mind if you’re making this up in a plaid – make sure you’re using the correct side of the fabric ;)

Sigma Dress

“Wait, did someone say pockets? In this dress??”

Sigma Dress

Yep! Yay for pockets!

Sigma Dress

If you were wondering about my fabric choice, it’s really not anything special – some lightweight cotton plaid I got from a friend (who I think originally bought it at an estate sale). It’s actually a bit toooo lightweight for this dress, as it loves to wrinkle up whenever it has the opportunity. But, you know, that’s the beauty of this pattern – you can make it in practically anything. Anything!

Sigma Dress
Sigma Dress

I also think the neckline is just perfect for showcasing those little choker-esque necklaces that I can never figure out what to pair with.

This was my first experience testing for Katie (although not my first rodeo with her patterns, yeehaw!), and it was a very pleasant experience! I really liked that she had the patterns printed and shipped directly to us, as opposed to sending out PDFs to be printed and assembled at home. For one, I hate printing PDFs (and I don’t even have access to a printer anymore after quitting my office job, sooo it’s not like I could print even if I wanted to. Ok, I could go to a copy shop but you and I both know that’s not gonna happen), and for two, I’m not really sure how accurate they are when it comes to testing purposes. Seems like an easy way to fuck things up, size-wise, in my opinion.

Sooo, now that I’ve waxed poetic about this pattern for an entire post, who else is excited to get their hands on it? Or anything from the new collection? I think the next sewalong we have on the Papercut blog will be for this dress – just because I reeeeeally want to play around with different looks (which you can’t really do with a tester pattern, I mean, not the slicing and hacking type of playing :)). Speaking of which, we have a La Sylphide sewalong going on right now if anyone is keen to join!

Sigma Dress

Right now, through 11/15, you can get 15% off this pattern (or any pattern in the new collection) with free shipping! This is a great opportunity to try out a Papercut Pattern, if you’ve been on the fence before. Not to mention, Katie added a new size so they go up to XL now :) What are you waiting for??

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