All About My New Workshop: Alter + Repair Your Garments!

11 Oct
Teaching my new workshop, Alter + Repair Your Garments, at Camp Workroom Social in 2021!

Hey all! Long time no chat 🙂

Don’t expect a return of regular blog posts (sorry! Real talk; this shit took me multiple days to write and I am exhausted lol), but I did want to pop in and talk about my new workshop that I’ve been offering this year. That’s right – I went away for a full 12 months, just to come back around and try to sell y’all some of my crap! HA HA! Wait, come back, I promise this is some interesting quality shit!

As you [probably] already know, I’ve been a sewing teacher for many years – almost a decade, actually (crazy!). I’ve been teaching my Sew Your Own Jeans workshop now for years, and it’s awesome and fun and you should totally believe all the good hype you hear about it. As much as I love making jeans, though, a new sewing skill has entered my repertoire that I just cannot get enough of and I’m dying to share it with everyone! So I created a new one-day workshop, Alter + Repair Your Garments. And today, I’m dusting off this old blog to tell you more about it! And even if you don’t care about my new workshop, I hope that you will at least enjoy the absolute avalanche of photos in this post.

Alterations are a really sensitive subject in the sewing community. We love to say things like “Yes I sew – no I won’t hem your pants.” I’ve seen sewers literally make an entirely new garment, rather than address fit issues in a current garment. Things like seam ripping and making adjustments get a really bad rap in this inner circle. Why is that? I don’t know, but I had a similar attitude up until a few years ago. I would happily upcycle clothes – that’s how I really learned how to sew, by taking weird things from the thrift store and turning them into something even weirder (what can I say? I love weird shit). But I, like many other home sewists, didn’t touch alterations. Until recently, anyway.

I’ve touched on this a little on my blog – and a lot more on Instagram – but I actually do alterations for a living now. I started out as a freelance tailor, which I still do, and I also work part time in a tailor shop that is connected to a high-end clothing store. The tailor shop is stable and occasionally a bit redundant (which I honesty like), and the freelance work is… sometimes redundant, and sometimes just absolutely wild. As a freelance tailor who also lives in Nashville, the majority of my clients are musicians, mainly country and gospel artists. I work closely with my clients and their stylist to get their clothes to do whatever they want them to do. Sometimes that means proper fittings and alterations for things like red carpet events and tour outfits. Sometimes it means I’m sitting in a parking lot with my sewing machine powered by a generator, while I furiously take in something in the absolute shittiest and fastest way possible so they can film a music video. I also do a lot of adjustments to clothing in ways that aren’t traditional alterations – changing the style and fit of a garment (in a way that was not originally intended by the designer), adding or removing elements to make it wearable for performing, or to work with a stylist’s ~vision~. It’s all different and it’s all fun and I love it so much!

My new 1 day workshop, Alter + Repair Your Garments, allows students to dip their toes into the world of alterations and garment changes, with the support of someone who has quite a bit of experience under her belt (that would be me!). This class is a little different than what you might imagine when you think of doing alterations, though. Yes, we can (and we will) cover the basic stuff – hemming pants, taking up sleeves, adjusting waistlines, etc. The not as exciting bits that we like to tell people we don’t do as sewists. It’s totally valid and useful sewing and can be very handy if you think you might want to pursue a career as a tailor, or if you just want to handle your own alterations and save some cash, or in the case of some of my students – to show you the involvement in alterations, and release some of that sewist’s guilt when you realize you’d rather just continue to pay someone else to do it so you can keep your free sewing time entirely selfish and fun!

A big part of alterations, though, is a lot more exciting – the creative problem solving! This is where we take our garment sewing to the next level by changing things that might not be so obvious on the first go. Sometimes it’s a simple fix – shortening a hem, taking in excess. Sometimes it’s more involved, like replacing a zipper or a shredded panel of fabric. Sometimes it’s something really wacky, like making a new neckline or turning a dress into a top. The beautiful thing about sewing is that *most* things can be changed – I mean, it’s all sewn, after all. So go ahead and put pockets in that dress! Chop 6” off the bottom of your jeans and keep that original ratty hem! Dye your favorite sweater to a color that better suits your complexion (ok, no dyeing in this class but we can talk! We can talk!)!

Every class is different, and the curriculum is based on whatever students choose to bring into class. This means you aren’t signing up for a class that teaches you shit you don’t care about – you’re going to bring in your own garments (ready to wear or handmade, vintage or modern, yours or someone else’s! Whatever you want to work on!), and we are going to address those pieces specifically. Some students love the opportunity to watch what everyone else is doing – it’s like extra little bonus lessons! Some students like to bring in an entire pile of clothing and try them all on, chat their way through all the changes and how to do them, and save the actual sewing for home. Some students will just bring a couple big projects, and let their class session focus on finishing them. Some students use class time as an excuse to finally tackle the pile of clothing alterations they’ve been avoiding dealing with. However you decide to treat the class is up to YOU!

This is not a “fitting” class per se – although, most alterations do involve fit. We fit for style, for comfort, for wearability. We are not worried about getting “perfect fit” because that does not exist (and any photos you see without wrinkles? That’s due to the magic of Photoshop and standing completely still in a garment that probably isn’t very comfortable!). A fun bonus effect of this class is that this sort of fitting – on completed, wearable garments – can actually increase your understanding of fit and it’s adjustments on the future garments that you make. Fit adjustments are much more obvious on a finished garment, rather slogging through a book and trying to figure out the strange name that is supposed to describe the wrinkles you see.

As a tailor who works in the entertainment industry, I bring a unique point of view that you might not necessarily find in other classes. I’m not afraid to do something wild to a garment if I think it will improve it in some way. I love using elastic to sneakily take things in, and I’m a huge fan of turning mistakes into design elements. My goal for this class is to teach students how to approach this in a systematic way that makes sense and can be replicated with any garment, not just the pile you worked on in class. Of course, I want you to leave with a pile of pieces that you definitely will wear now – but I also want you to leave equipped with the knowledge and confidence to do this on your own, too!

Alter + Repair Your Garments is perfect for any sewist who wants to improve their sewing, as well as learn a whole new range of skills. Do you have a pile of clothes in your closet that you don’t wear, but you also can’t quite figure out why? You need this class. Do you want to be able to smugly tell those acquaintances who ask you to sew for them “Actually, yes I do know how to do that type of hem – but sorry, I don’t sew for other people :]”? This is your class, baby! Have you taken my jeans class and you just really want to hang out with me again but you are good with all things denim? COME ON DOWN AND SEE ME, MY FRIEND!

You do *not* need to be a sewing super star to take this class! I wouldn’t recommend this class to an absolute beginner – you should have a little experience under your belt, a general understanding of the basics of clothing construction, and be comfortable using a machine. But you know what the other beauty about alterations is? There’s the easy way, and there’s the “proper” way. And you get to choose the method you want to use (because those are your damn clothes and there aren’t any sewing police!)! From adventurous beginners to seasoned pros – I truly believe this is a class for everyone!

Here are some things you can expect to learn in this one day workshop:

  • Effective seam ripping techniques for a variety of stitches, including straight stitches, serged finishes, and chainstitches
  • How to assess a garment’s fit and style, and how to determine what changes need to be made
  • How to pin fit a garment and transfer the adjustments in preparation for sewing
  • How to take apart a garment, look inside, and determine the best method for executing whatever adjustment needs to be made based on the construction of the original garment
  • Basic garment repair
  • How to determine whether a garment can successfully be altered or repaired,
  • Best practices for using trial-and-error to approach for alterations on existing garments, and how to troubleshoot any problems that may arise
Maybe you just need help getting the right hem length on your long dresses? I got you!

A couple notes on what *not* to expect in this class – we are working on finished garments only, so no muslins and we will not cover flat pattern adjustments (that’s an entirely different class, one that your local sewing shop likely already offers!). We cannot work on specialty (or messy) materials, such as leather, sequins, or fur. Pls leave that shit at home!

Altering your clothes to better suit your body, style, and comfort needs is truly the most sustainable way to sew. In this class, I hope to show you how to see flaws in garments as exciting opportunities for improvement. Whether you are buying used or new clothes that need a little tweaking, or perfecting the fit + style finish on your own handmade goods (side note: *most* of my handmade clothes go through at least one round of alterations after they are finished! This is totally normal – even with a preliminary muslin fitting, clothes are going to fit different when you wear them out and around vs standing in front of a mirror with a shell made of a stiff fabric), the possibilities are endless and exciting!

Does this count as an alteration? Old RTW jacket that I thrifted and painted on the back! Full Instagram post here.

Don’t worry – I’m still teaching my Sew Your Own Jeans workshops (got a lot more butts I need to touch!). I will be offering Alter + Repair Your Garments in tandem with the weekend dates of my Sew Your Own Jeans workshops. I’m finalizing my 2023 workshop dates right now and will be announcing them soon – stay tuned! Can’t wait until 2023? There are still a couple seats left at Domesticity (Baltimore, MD) and Papermaple Studio (New Orleans, LA)!

For more information on my Alter + Repair Your Garments workshop, check out this interview I did with Workroom Social earlier this year.

For a list of all my upcoming workshops – check out my WORKSHOPS page.

I Donated Bone Marrow – This Is My Story

14 Jul

Good morning everyone! Today I want to veer way off-topic and share with y’all something very non-sewing – which is my recent bone marrow donation!

Before I go any farther, I do want to address the question that I have been asked the most – “Doesn’t donating bone marrow hurt really bad?” The short answer is, nope! I realize that “painful” can mean different things for different people – pain is subjective and we all have different tolerence levels! – but for me, I experienced very minor, very manageable pain (all post-procedure), no worse than the soreness you experience after exercising for the first time after a long hiatus. I believe the procedure was painful in the past, but that has not been the case for a long time. There are two ways to extract the marrow – one is surgical, one is not. You can read more about those here on Be The Match.

I initially wasn’t planning on sharing this story on my blog at all. However, the staggering amount of misinformation I’ve come across (primarily from well-meaning friends when I told them what I was up to) has led me to believe that it would be a disservice not to use my platform to share my own experience. A lot of the information you may know about donating bone marrow is out of date, or simply not true. I would, of course, encourage you to do your own research as well – but if one person signs up for the registry as a result of this post, and maybe even is found to be a potential match…. That’d be pretty fucking rad.

Anyway, moving on! I have been on the bone marrow donor registry (via Be The Match) since 2009, but wasn’t contacted until earlier this year. Lots of people who sign up for the registry and may never get the call. I honestly had forgotten about it; it’s been 12 years! I joined the registry by requesting a kit, which was mailed to me. I swabbed my cheek and mailed it back. I did not pay for anything. When they contacted me this year, it was via email with a request to call for more information. I spoke to a rep who answered all my questions (I probably asked her the pain question LOL) and once I agreed to proceed they put me on standby while they looked at other options to determine what was best for the patient.

Not gonna lie – getting the call and being told I was the “best possible option” kind of felt like I won a prize. Me! I’m the best! Hell yea!

The process leading up to the donation did not require too much of my time or effort on my end. I was assigned a rep who went over the procedure and everything with me, answered all my questions, and was my point of contact for everything related to the donation. My rep had actually donated marrow herself so she was a great resource to direct all my questions to! I went through a full physical and blood panel (including an EKG and chest x rays – side note, I had no idea my boobs would be fully visible in a chest x ray but they were and that was cool lol) to be sure it was safe for me to donate, plus a couple rounds of blood withdrawal in those last 2 weeks. The hardest part was coordinating a date for the donation – as I had a full travel+teaching schedule already booked, and my recipient is in another country so there were only certain days they were able to do the donation, plus we had to find a donation center that actually had availability for the surgery. My rep was adamant that I not change anything about my own schedule, that they would work around me, but I was just as adamant that we do the procedure as soon as we possibly could because I didn’t want my recipient to have to wait (I can’t imagine needing to wait months for a life-saving transplant???). I ended up getting booked for mid-June, between workshops, at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC.

All my travel arrangements (flights, hotel, etc) were booked and paid for by Be The Match. I was allowed to bring a companion – obviously I brought my mom (the ONLY person I want around when I’m not feeling well!). While there were a few things I had to pay for out of pocket (medications and supplements, and our meals during the trip), those were all reimbursed after the donation. In short, I did not pay for anything in order to donate bone marrow. Every single expense was covered by Be The Match.

The donation itself was as uneventful as you’d hope for surgery to go. I was put under anesthesia, they perforated two small holes in my lower back (right where the back dimples are), stuck a couple needles in to extract the marrow (they used the word “harvest” which honestly grosses me out so much LOL) and they were finished within 90 minutes. I was hoping for an outpatient situation – usually the case with marrow donation – but I ended up getting pretty nauseous from the anesthesia + low blood sugar (both are normal for me) so they kept me overnight. I wasn’t terribly happy about at first but honesty it was kind of awesome. The nurses were so kind and took really great care of me. I don’t want to say the whole experience was completely painless – because it wasn’t – but at most my pain was maybe 5/10. It was very very manageable with painkillers. The staff at the hospital was EXCEPTIONAL with their care and attention. They even gave me a goody bag when I left (and my emotional ass totally cried about it LOL). Unfortunately, my mom was not allowed to visit me due to COVID so she stayed in the hotel – but they set her up with a Lyft account so she could explore DC (at no expense to her) if she wished.

Overall, I was in DC for about three days. We flew in the day before, spent some time being cute tourists, I had my donation the second day, and on the third day we left and were home by about 5 PM.

One thing I was not prepared for with this donation was the recovery process. It’s not awful – but since you’ve had a lot of your marrow taken out, there are some limitations in order to allow your body to heal. For example, our flights home had me in a wheelchair to get around the airport (let me tell you, skipping all those lines was quite the silver lining woohoo) (I even got to ride in the little CAR at one airport!), and I wasn’t allowed to exercise or lift anything over 20 lbs for the first 2 weeks. I was also very, very tired. Like the sort of fatigue that you feel in your bones when you are ill. Even that honestly would have been manageable, but, I unfortunately underestimated just HOW TIRED I would be (I cannot emphasize this enough) and went straight back into traveling and teaching 2 days after donation. I managed and I lived, but it was a real struggle that I could have easily prevented by allowing myself ample time to rest. I really should have given myself at least a week to rest and recuperate before trying to go back to work.

I’m a few weeks out from my donation now, and basically back to normal – no lifting or exercise restrictions, my energy levels and appetite are completely back to their original baseline, and while I occasionally have some subtle soreness in my lower back first thing in the morning or if I stand for too long, a Tylenol knocks it out no problem. My incisions healed up without an issue, and I sort of hope they leave cute scars (just little dots on my back, super cute).

My biggest advice if you’re considering doing this – do it! Sign up for the registry now. If you are a match, you are under no obligation to donate. For real, I had SEVERAL opportunities to back out. No one would have been mad. So if you’re on the fence, understand that signing up for the registry does not automatically mean you *have* to donate if you are a match. You can say no; it is your body and ultimately your decision to make. There’s a huge chance you’ll never be called to donate – but if there is, and if you decide to do it, you will be giving a person and their family the greatest gift of all time. You get to call yourself a superhero! I think that’s pretty cool.

My other advice is to make sure you allow for ample time to rest! I really cannot stress this enough. There is no way of knowing how your body will react to the donation – some people bounce right back to normal, some have a little more of a struggle (my nurses told me stories about how some patients were running laps around the hospital within hours of surgery; meanwhile I was struggling to walk to the bathroom without throwing up!). My own struggle was directly related to the amount of rest I didn’t allow myself, and I definitely should have allowed for at least a week to recover. Go ahead and block off ample time for recovery – if you feel good, great! You can easily schedule things as you feel up to it. But also, you just donated bone marrow so it’s perfectly acceptable to spend a week sleeping on the couch in your underwear while watching Cosmos and eating peanut butter (my ideal situation).

I don’t want this to sound like it was a total walk in the park – I certainly experienced side effects that were less than pleasant, such as muscle soreness, bloating/constipation, and trouble sleeping for the first couple of nights. My entire body swelled up with all the fluid I was pumped with, and I had lil’ fat kid hands for about 2 days (see below photo LOL) and could not wear normal/non-elastic pants. Not to mention that fatigue! WOOF. But all my side effects went away within a couple of weeks, and at no point during ANY of this did I regret my decision to donate. I’ve put myself through way worse discomfort (piercings, tattoos, body waxing, IUD insertion and subsequent replacement, drunken slip’n’slides, etc) without a second thought. I’ve fractured my elbow, endured kidney stones, and once I woke up during a wisdom tooth extraction. This is NOTHING compared to any of those painful experiences. The difference with bone marrow donation is that I saved someone’s life. I gave someone a second chance.

Would I do this again? Absolutely I would, without hesitation. Losing my dad to cancer 4+ years ago was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to experience, and I would have done anything to keep him alive. While there were unfortunately no options available for us to keep him earthbound, it is such an incredible honor to know that I can provide that hope and second chance for someone else. My body is strong, able, and healthy – I think we often forget just how able we are in comparison to others who may not be so fortunate (wheeling around the airport in a wheelchair – while admittedly fun – was a stark reminder of that in itself). Sharing my own good fortune with someone who needs it feels like the most appropriate way to truly appreciate the privilege of my good health. The recipient of my marrow is a young person in another country (please understand that due to patient privacy, I am being intentionally vague here), and I’ll probably never meet or interact with them. But I hope they know that I am rooting for them, and I hope my marrow works as magically for them as it has for me. It’s pretty good stuff!

Well this got way longer than I expected it to be! In closing, I want to share some photos that my mom took while we were in DC the day before my donation. We went down to the National Mall and walked around for the afternoon, which was so lovely. And yes, I made those pants! I used the True Bias Hudson Pants as my base, and widened the legs + raised the waistline. My fabric is a viscose/linen noil from Blackbird fabrics, so to accommodate I sized up to an 8 (I normally wear a 2 in knit Hudson pants). I also changed the pockets to be patch pockets, instead of slant. This was a quick and easy make that is great for traveling and also wearing when it’s a thousand degrees outside but you’d still like a little leg coverage!

Are you on the bone marrow registry? Have you ever donated? What was your experience like?

Me Made May 2021

25 Jun

Did you participate in Me Made May this year? I used to be really active in the early days, but over the last few years I have chosen to not participate as I regularly wear me-made clothes almost exclusively, which at that point just seemed a little annoying and self-congratulatory to shoot a whole ass month of photos for something I already do without prompt.

However, in the last year or so, I went through a bit of an existential crisis as far as my wardrobe was concerned. I started with changing my color palette (I’m sticking strictly to warm tones now, and holy shit I can’t believe how all my stuff just effortlessly coordinates now, what a rush), then later playing with different silhouettes. I am now starting to slowly branch out from my own personal self-imposed “style rules” and experimenting with new ways to express myself with how I dress. Clothing is supposed to be fun!

So I decided to participate in Me Made May this year, and see what else I could discover.

What I really wanted to focus on was less the fully handmade outfits, and more something that previous Me Made Mays have absolutely fucked up for me when I participated in the past – allowing outfit / garment repeats, and RTW (ready-to-wear) pieces! Old MMM’s gave me this weird aversion to wearing the same thing twice in one month – because you want every photo to be fresh, right? The major problem with this – for me – was that it trickled into my daily dressing, too. It gave me a weird complex to wear the same garment twice, even weeks apart! Y’all, I get that this is a thing that is really pushed on us with our buy-buy-buy culture, but I honestly cannot articulate how fucking STUPID of an idea it is. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing the same shit on repeat (especially if it’s something that makes you feel really good!). People don’t notice – do you notice when someone repeats a garment/outfit? And realistically, even if you did notice – does it really matter? Like, who really cares in the grand scheme of things? I really needed to hammer this into my own head. Again – clothing is supposed to be fun!

Another reason for joining MMM this year was to simply get more comfortable taking photos of myself, and to try different locations. Let’s be real here – the main reason why I post less and less is directly related to my comfort level with taking photographs. I’ve never liked taking photos of myself, and over the years I find myself avoiding it more and more. By making myself take a photo every single day, I hoped it would force me to get more comfortable with the whole process. And to make things interesting, I decided to take photos in as many different locations as possible. I love creeping on people’s houses in the background of their photos – I think most people do! So even if you don’t care about the Me Made May aspect of these photos, I hope you can appreciate the mini house tour!

Anyway, I think this year was very successful for me! I stuck with it for the entire month and took a photo every single day – even when I was traveling! And I allowed myself to repeat individual garments – and even full outfits! – which made the whole process less stressful. I thought it would be fun to share these here, since I know a lot of people don’t use Instagram and prefer to read blogs. So here you go! My Me Made May results from 2021 – only a few weeks late 🙂


Day 1: Masin Sicily Slip Dress + Alina Design Hampton Jean jacket  / This is my hallway! This photo also marks the first time I joined multiple (vaccinated) friends for a dinner party since COVID! In someone else’s house! What a rush!!


Day 2: (RTW) Elizabeth Suzann Florence pants (I did alter these to have narrower legs and a more cropped length, FYI) + True Bias Ogden Cami + Grainline Studio Driftless cardigan / This is my living room! Obviously I really whooped it up the night before, so I spent my day relaxing on the couch and getting absolutely nothing done 🙂


Day 3: Grainline Studio Scout tee + Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans / This is my studio, and I spent most of my day in here!


Day 4: Cashmerette Concord tshirt + Deer & Doe Fumeterre Skirt (made with a rayon from Workroom Social!) / This is my bathroom! I was bound and determined to get a shot in here, but it is VERY small (as is my whole house LOL) so I had to improvise 🙂


Day 5: True Bias Nikko top + Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans (again!) / This is my kitchen! Fun fact: I bought wallpaper (to cover the soffits above the cabinets) immediately after taking this photo.


Day 6: (RTW) Skateboarding is Stupid tshirt (cropped + re-hemmed by me) + Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans / This is my dining room!


Day 7: Allie Olsen Elio Top + True Bias Lander Pants / This is my bedroom, and also here is an Amelia cameo!


Day 8: Tilly & the Buttons Rosa Shirt dress / Real talk: This is an exact duplicate of the dress in that post LOL I guess I’m a different size now, so I made a bigger one! And I rarely wore it, because it felt so… overwhelmingly denim and kind of heavy. So I cut the sleeves short right before taking this photo, and it feels so much better now!) Anyway, this is my patio!


Day 9: Grainline Studio Archer shirt (made with Spoonflower fabric!) + (RTW) Elizabeth Suzann Cecilia pants (altered by me!) (also discontinued – sorry! But they are super high waisted and super stretchy and really awesome!) / Just hanging out in my giant + empty back yard. I love that the blank canvas gives me the option to do anything I want back here, but also, it is a little intimidating to start from scratch! Eventually I’d like to landscape and add some small gardens and maybe a patio (and someday – a separate studio building!!! #dreams), but for now, I mainly use this space to take blanket naps in the sun haha


Day 10: (RTW) Handpainted denim jacket, Martine Sweater (originally knitted by me, then later overdyed by me!) + Closet Core Patterns Kalle Shirt + Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans (again!) / I ran out of rooms so I’m back in my living room, in front of one of my favorite pieces of art! I found this delightfully creepy piece a a thrift store about 10 years ago and it gets a lot of comments (both good and bad haha).


Day 11: Poison Grrls Beauty School sweater + Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans / Ok so this isn’t my house – I was on set (as a tailor!) for a tv shoot! It was a very busy day but I managed to squeeze in a quick bathroom mirror selfie 🙂


Day 12: True Bias Nikko Top + (RTW) Talbot’s Leopard Midi skirt (I changed out the waistband for a soft, wide elastic!) / Took these photos on my front porch to show up my SEXY NEW SECURITY DOOR (here is the one I got!). I’ve wanted this door since I originally bought my house, and it is everything I dreamed it would be! (ps if you think my legs look really airbrushed… they aren’t, it was just kind of cold so I have on skin-colored pantyhose LOL)


Day 13: Tilly & the Buttons Stella Hoodie (shortened into a top and then I added that sparkly cat patch!) + Vogue Patterns 2442 (the original Calvin Klein jeans!) / While I had the carpenter installing that front door, I also convinced him to re-hang the screen door on the side of my house! It’s original to the house, but the sellers took it down and stashed it in the crawl space because it looked “old fashioned.” So I had it re-hung and I love it! There!


Day 14: Megan Nielsen Eucalypt tank + True Bias Lander pants / Just hanging out with the peonies in my front yard! The previous homeowner planted them and I have never loved a flower more!


Day 15: Cashmerette Concord tshirt (again!) + (RTW) Maxi skirt that originally started out as a huge 80’s dress (I cut into a skirt and then later added a wide elastic waistband. Because elastic is super comfortable and I love myself LOL) / This is the other side of my kitchen! And if you peek into the living room behind me, you can see Amelia’s favorite toy – a horrible thing that looks exactly like vomit (brown, fuzzy, and it’s even the same SHAPE ugh)


Day 16: True Bias Rio Ringer tshirt (with an added CAT PATCH!) + True Bias Lander pants / Here’s another little corner of my studio – I painted the mural on the wall!


Day 17: Sophie Hines Axis Tank + ThreadyMade Sunburst Monroe skirt (this came as a kit but I sewed it together!) / Here is another corner of my kitchen, and at this point you can see I clearly ran out of spaces to shoot…


Day 18: True Bias Lander shorts + Closet Core Patterns Kalle shirt + (RTW) Black sweatshirt (that I added another cat patch to LOL) / Someone thoughtfully suggested I take a photo in the laundry area, so that’s what inspired this hahaha.


Day 19: Helen’s Closet Arden Pants + (RTW) vintage Duran Duran concert tshirt (shortened by me!) / This is another angle of my bedroom, taken while packing for a workshop at Pintuck & Purl.


Day 20: (RTW) Thrifted black tshirt (cut + hemmed into a crop top by me!) + (RTW) knit skirt (brand is A.L.C.) (I did take in the waist elastic to make it a little more fitted; otherwise it is essentially un-alterable due to how it is constructed) + leopard print silk chiffon scarf that is basically a really expensive piece of fabric (Alexander McQueen from Darrell Thomas Textiles) cut into a rectangle and then hemmed / Out of my house for the weekend, and in my temporary digs in Exeter NH while I teach a workshop at Pintuck & Purl! This AirBNB was the *cutest* little space!


Day 21: Cashmerette Appleton Dress / This was my birthday!! Maggie brought me a CAKE – it’s a little pair of jeans with a pincushion that matches my tattoo / blog header, I mean, COME ON.


Day 22: Sophie Hines Axis Tank + Grainline Studio Archer shirt + (RTW) thrifted Leopard bias skirt (hemmed by me) / Day 2 of my workshop at Pintuck & Purl! Also, 2020 was the year I discovered just how much I love wearing bias cut pieces. SO. COMFY. (yet so refined!)


Day 23: Tilly & the Buttons Rosa shirt dress (again!) + silk leopard scarf (again!) / Day 3 + a wrap for my second jeans workshop of the year! I loved wearing this dress so much that I decided to bring it with me and wear it again! Although in retrospect, it might not be the absolute best choice for teaching – the skirt is short, and gets dangerously shorter depending on how I sit. That’s a lot of leg!


Day 24: Poisongrrls Beauty School sweater (again!) + RTW A.L.C. knit skirt (again!) + leopard silk chiffon scarf (again!) / I was traveling all day and this was the best photo I could manage! Also, this whole outfit is repeats. Whatever! Amazingly, I did not vanish into a puff of smoke upon leaving the house LOL


Day 25: StyleArc Patterns Ariana dress + (RTW) Button-up (hand embroidery on the back done by me, and I also shortened it a little!) / Another angle of my living room! This last year I also discovered using button-up shirts as a light layer to wear in the summer. Breathable fabrics such as rayon, silk, linen, and lightweight cotton are perfect for warding off the chill of an aggressive A/C, and also look much more seasonably appropriate (I think!) than a big ol’ cardigan!


Day 26: Sew Over It Penny dress (made with a fabulous Dolce & Gabbana cotton from Darrell Thomas Textiles) / Went out for my birthday dinner (to House of Cards in Nashville which was SO AWESOME and I highly recommend!) and decided to wear an old birthday favorite! I never posted about this dress, but I made it a couple of years ago! Also, I’m standing with my (new to me) truck! This was my dad’s vehicle and my mom titled it over to me a couple of months ago. It’s been a few years since I drove a truck (my old truck was a Ford Ranger, too!) and I forgot how fun they are!


Day 27: Cashmerette Concord tshirt + (RTW) Talbots leopard skirt (again!) / My niece graduated high school this year so I spent the day celebrating with her! I cannot believe it has been 18 years since this little squirt was born. Where does the time go??


Day 28: True Bias Lander pants + (vintage/RTW) Sheer Embroidered top + Sophie Hines Axis tank (worn underneath) / Another side of my dining room. Can you tell I’m over the daily photos by this point? LOL


Day 29: Professor Meow sweater + Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans / It got suddenly cold again which meant another opportunity to bust out the sweater collection! Yeehaw! Also, this is the other view from my hallway!


Day 30: Closet Core Patterns Fiore skirt + True Bias Nikko top (again!) / When I made this skirt a couple of years ago, it felt a little risky to sew it in such a weird yellow. But it has ended up being a real workhorse in my wardrobe, and that strange shade of yellow-green matches most of my clothes! I also wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the slightly longer length, but I love it! Here is another side of my living room, and where Amelia spends most of her day when I’m home with the door open (there is a bird feeder hanging on the tree right outside).


Day 31: Closet Core Patterns Elodie wrap dress / Last day of May, finally!! I leashed up Amelia and took her out for a little photo walk! Of course, she’s a cat so our “walk” ended up with her flopping down on the ground, dramatically eating all the grass around her like it was her last meal. Oh well!

That’s all for Me Made May this year! Not putting any restrictions on my outfits (ex., allowing repeats, RTW, etc) made it a lot easier to get dressed and feel excited about what I was wearing! If you’re thinking that there are barely any repeats here as it is – you’d be correct, as May tends to flip-flop a lot weather-wise here in Nashville, with an equal amount of warm and chilly days. So I pretty much had double the options to choose from when it came to clothes!

The biggest improvement for me was narrowing down the colors I wear, and sticking mainly to warm colors with a slightly limited palette (including lots of leopard, obviously #leopardisaneutral). This made nearly all of my pieces effortlessly coordinate, which I love! I still need to do some work when it comes to silhouettes and proportions, but keeping track of everything for a month has been really helpful.

I’m also happy to report that there were only a couple of pieces I wore that I didn’t feel super excited about. I will be removing these pieces from rotation and seeing if there is something that can be altered to make them more appealing, or releasing them into the world for someone else to wear and love.

Did you participate in Me Made May this year? What were your takeaways?

2021 Jeans Workshop Dates (+ a FAQ)!

5 May

Hey friends!

Hope everyone is hanging in there after that doozy of year we’ve just been through. Allow me to grace your feed with a workshop announcement! Yes! We are gonna do some workshops this year, god-willing!

Please note that not all the classes are listed as of this posting (I will update as they are!). I strongly recommend that you follow the shop hosting the workshop, to be notified when the class is listed so you can sign up quickly and hopefully secure a seat! I will update my classes page as workshops as listed, however, I cannot guarantee they won’t be sold out by that point (this appears to be a common theme with my workshops LOL).

All dates and links are listed on my WORKSHOPS page, as well as at the end of this post. For more information, including pricing, please visit the shop’s website or send them an email!

For COVID-19 precautions, most shops are limiting class size to allow social distancing. Also, ya girl is fully vaccinated! Yay!

I also wanted to share with y’all some Frequently Asked Questions, as these tend to pop up regularly any time I announce my workshops. If you’ve got a burning question, please check the list below as I may have already answered it!


What can I expect to learn in this workshop?

My Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend workshop primarily focuses on construction – you will learn all the details that go into making a pair of jeans, including order of construction, seam finishes, topstitching, inserting a fly zipper, attaching a waistband, and loads and loads (and loads) of little tips and tricks sprinkled throughout the weekend. The knowledge you obtain isn’t just jeans-specific – you can use what you learned to apply toward all sorts of future sewing adventures (Denim jackets!! Rad pants! Skirts! Dresses! Bags! Your possibilities are endless!). You will leave with a great pair of jeans, plus the confidence to go home and make more!

Does this workshop cover fit?

We will go over fit, although this is not a fit-specific workshop. The first half day is devoted to choosing our size (including trying on samples!), adjusting our preferred fit, and preparing our fabric for sewing (cutting, marking, etc). We *will* go over minor fitting adjustments as needed for each individual body. We will *not* spend a long time fussing over fit, nor can I guarantee that your first pair will be ~the most perfectly fitting pair of pants you’ve ever worn~. There simply is not enough time in class to allow for us to make multiple muslins for a perfect fit – and to be completely honest, this is hard to obtain without wearing the pants around for a few days to really get an idea of what needs to be adjusted. I don’t say this to discourage you, but rather, to set the expectation of what you will get out of your weekend. We will tweak the fuck outta your pants throughout the weekend (if it needs it – most students find they get a great fit right out of the envelope! #magicpants) and you will leave with something lovely and wearable that I promise you’ll be proud of. Should you need future adjustments, you will be armed with the knowledge to make it happen!

Is this class suitable for plus sized sewists?

Yes! The Closet Core Ginger Jeans pattern is available in sizes 0-20 (up to a 48″ hip). If you need a larger size, the Cashmerette Ames Jeans pattern is a great option, and is available in sizes 0-32 (up to a 62″ hip). Need a bigger size than that? Holler at me and I’ll get it sorted. This class caters to EVERY size, no butts left behind!

I’m a dude, can I take your class?

Of course! Men (whether cis or trans or non-binary) are absolutely invited to join us for the weekend! The Ginger Jeans + Ames patterns are designed for women, however, there are easy tweaks we can do to change the fit as needed.

That being said, my Sew Your Own Jeans workshops are an inclusive, welcoming, FUN space for everyone! BIPOC, LGBT, disabled – I would love to have you in my class! Please let me know your preferred pronouns and if you need any special accommodations in order to make the most out of your workshop weekend. I got you ❤

What experience level should I be at in order to take this workshop?

Believe it or not, this workshop is actually quite beginner-friendly! You don’t need to be a sewing superstar with years of experience under your belt. The prerequisites for class are that you should be comfortable threading and operating a sewing machine, and have experience sewing at least one sewing pattern. That’s it, that’s all you need to take this class!

If you are a very experienced sewist with lots and lots of sewing (and maybe even jeans making!) under your belt, I still believe you will learn a lot in this workshop! I have had a vast array of skill levels in my classes – from the total beginner to the seasoned professional – and everyone leaves with more knowledge than they came with.

I don’t like the pattern, can I use a different one? Can I modify it?

I hate to be a fun sponge, but we really don’t have time in class to make huge design changes to the pattern or try to work with something entirely different. That being said, there are downloadable pattern hacks for the Ginger Jeans that you are welcome to bring to class – Ginger Mid-Rise Jeans and Ginger Flares. We can make additional small fit tweaks (such as opting for a looser fit or straight legs, if you’re not a skinny-jeans kinda sewist), but plan on saving the major changes and additional patterns for your home sewing practice!

Will you ever offer this workshop as an online class?

Probably not! Due to the extremely hands-on nature of this course (including the availability of pre-sewn samples for students to try on!), it isn’t very well suited for online. Also, I don’t wanna do online classes! Sorry, I’m selfish!

Will you ever come to _____________ (city / state / country / planet) to teach this workshop?

I get this question a lot, and the short answer is – I’d love to!! My best advice to make this happen is to holler at your local sewing shop and tell them you want to take a LLADYBIRD Jeans Workshop, and encourage them to reach out to me (lladybirdlauren AT gmail DOT com). This allows the shop to recognize that there is already interest in a workshop, which means they are more likely to get the ball rolling in terms of planning one!


So you signed up for a jeans workshop! Yay! We are so excited to have you in class and I can’t wait to make a lil’ denim believer out of you!! Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of your class weekend:


Folks, I cannot stress this enough. Please, please… spend the extra money and buy the kit that I recommend for class. Please do not use this as an opportunity to “use up that old Joann’s denim that’s been languishing in the stash for several years.” On the flip side, for your very first pair of jeans – you maybe don’t want to dish out and use something really precious that you’d be devastated to not have turn out exactly right. I chose the materials in my kits specifically for their affordability, reorderability, and the fact that the shop can sell them directly to you (which in turn supports the shop). My samples are sewn with the exact same materials, so you can get a good idea of what your finished jeans will also turn out like in terms of sizing, ease, etc. If you want the best possible results, please buy the damn kit!


I know this can be really hard for a lot of sewists – but in my workshop, I really encourage you to let go of any ideas of perfection and just enjoy the learning process! By allowing yourself to make mistakes, you take a lot of stress out of class. Believe me, you are going to have some wonky topstitching, and maybe your first go at bartacks will be kind of horrifying. But rather than spend your time stressing and seam-ripping and hyper-focusing on small details – I encourage you to let it go and embrace the fact that you are learning something new! As you continue your practice at home (on your own machine, with no rushing), you’ll further develop your skills and, yes, continually improve! Furthermore, there’s something really sweet and lovely about looking back on your first go at something and recognizing the vast improvement you’ve made over time.


Don’t be skeered, y’all! Can you operate a sewing machine? Do you want to make jeans? Congratulations, you are qualified for this class! In addition to being your (super fun, super awesome) teacher, I’m also your personal cheerleader. I’m here to encourage you throughout the weekend, to tell you that you got this. Bring a notebook (or plan to film lots of video), wear comfy underwear, tell your inner naysayer to shut the fuck up and come sew with us!!


Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
May 21 – 23, 2021
Pintuck & Purl, North Hampton, NH

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
June 4 – 6, 2021
Josephine’s Dry Goods, Portland, OR

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
June 11 – 13, 2021
Josephine’s Dry Goods, Portland, OR

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop SOLD OUT
June 25 – 27, 2021
Domesticity, Baltimore, MD

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
June 30 – July 2, 2021
Domesticity, Baltimore, MD

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
July 9 – 11, 2021
Darrell Thomas Textiles, Almonte, Ottawa Canada

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop SOLD OUT
July 16 – 18, 2021
Pintuck & Purl, North Hampton, NH

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Retreat SOLD OUT
August 5 – 8, 2021
Maker’s Hideway, Stanwood, WA

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Retreat SOLD OUT
August 12 – 15, 2021
Maker’s Hideway, Stanwood, WA

How To Sew Jeans Weekend Retreat SOLD OUT
September 3 – 5, 2021
Madalynne Studios, Philadephia, PA

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
September 17 – 19, 2021
Fancy Tiger Crafts, Denver, CO

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
October 1 – 3, 2021
Stitch Sew Shop, Alexandria, VA

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
October 29 – 31, 2021
Pintuck & Purl, North Hampton, NH

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop ONLY 3 SEATS LEFT
November 12 – 14, 2021
Domesticity, Baltimore, MD

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
December 4 – 6, 2021
Sew With Sonia, Menlo Park, CA

Note: All images in this post were taken by Madalynne, at her studio workshop this past April! If you are a Philly local and would like to take a workshop in a very beautiful, very pink environment with your own personal paparazzi that makes you look like a sewing model with every shot, come join us this Labor Day Weekend! 🙂

2020: A Year in Review

31 Dec

Well, folks, it’s that time of year again – the end of it! I think it goes without saying that we are all gonna be breathing a collective sigh of relief when this bad boy finally gets wrapped up and pushed back to our history books.

Considering how infrequently I update my blog, I almost didn’t write this ~2020 Review Post~. But, to be completely honest, it doesn’t feel like the proper year closure if I don’t include a round-up review here. This year, I’d made a real effort to be more intentional with what I do share on the internet. And I love writing these posts, reminiscing about the last 12 months, and reading them in the future. Also, this shit took like 4 days to write so y’all better read it LOL. So, anyway, now let’s talk about meeeee.

I know 2020 has been a very, very difficult year for a lot of people (most people, probably). But I’m just gonna go ahead and say it – my year has actually been pretty awesome. In spite of all the wrecked shit that happened over the last 12 months, I haven’t merely survived – I’ve actually thrived. This year has been therapeutic, eye-opening, and honestly quite empowering.

Some highlights (and also low-lights – can’t have the rainbows without the rain blah blah blah) of my year:

Work + Career Updates:

  • I had a pretty solid kick-off with workshops and taught in New Jersey, Florida, Nashville, and New York. I met some fun people, ate a lot of steak, and of course touched a lot of butts! I was on track for the whole year to be so grand but, as we know, COVID-19 had other plans in store for us. It was a real bummer cancelling those carefully planned dates throughout the year, but – what can you do?
  • Once things started shutting down, I got my butt in gear and offered Virtual Private Lessons via video chat. This was a godsend for me in terms of socialization – living alone can be isolating in itself, but being stuck in forced isolation threatened to make it worse. By giving myself the ability to continue to do my work while also socializing with people, it really helped with my mental health and overall sense of well-being. I taught a LOT of private lessons those first couple of months! That being said, I had to take a break over the summer (more on that below) and narrow down my availability to something that was more manageable. I love teaching and I love chatting about sewing, but I still don’t love sitting in front of a computer LOL. If you are interested in taking a private lesson in 2021, you can sign up here!
  • Luckily, I landed a big gig shooting catalog and e-commerce for Talbots. Tennessee had finally reopened for small gatherings (I know someone is going to say something shitty so here you go – just keep it to yourself. We were safe, legal, and no one got sick in all the months we worked together. Byeeee) which made this possible. It ended up being a huge amount of work, over many days spanning into multiple months of shoots. I tailored a LOT of garments – hundreds and hundreds of garments. It was a blast!!! I worked with some awesome colleagues, met some amazing new people, and got out of the house on a regular basis. Working on this shoot allowed me to remain independent while still earning an income, and again – my mental health really benefitted from regular socialization. Also it’s fun to work with professional photographers, they can set up for some really rad selfies (see above!).
  • Despite the pandemic cancelling so much stuff at the beginning of the year, I was still able to work on a few fun projects for clients with my freelance tailoring gig. A couple worth mentioning – another music video and fitting the most beautiful evening gown I have ever laid eyes on (it was an HONOR to touch it).
  • I ended up getting a part time job – at a tailor shop! I work as an in-house tailor for Oak Hall here in Nashville. I met the head tailor, Loretta, on a shoot earlier this year and we immediately bonded over sewing. I wasn’t planning on doing any part time work this year, but this opportunity came right at a time where I was needing to get out of the house on a regular basis (after shooting for Talbots started to slow down) and it felt like a gift from the universe that I’d be a fucking idiot to turn down. I have learned SO much working with Loretta and all the wonderful tailors who are employed at the shop. Everyone is so generous with their knowledge, and so happy to share it. One thing I learned about myself is that I love to sew – I don’t care what I’m sewing, I just want to sew! So being able to work in a shop with fun machines and tools (y’all, we have an industrial button hole machine!!), and learn new skills regarding fitting, alterations, clothing repair, and a million other things – it’s pretty awesome. It’s like being enrolled in school, except I’m getting paid to be there. It’s a wonderful job in a wonderful environment and I just cannot believe that I get to do this!!
  • I finally got my shit in gear and had business cards made! I feel like a real professional now!

Home Updates:

  • I have loved being in my home so much this year! Being able to watch all the little changes in my yard + neighborhood has been so fun, and I’ve really enjoyed making my house more of a home in 2020. I painted my name on my mailbox (a lifetime goal of mine, ha!), started a small herb + tomato garden (note to self, tomatoes need a LOT more room! Ah, live and learn), dug a fire pit, and bought a hammock!
  • I added a chandelier to my dining room!
  • My studio got a couple small updates as well! I painted a mural on the wall behind my dressform, and replaced the shelves by my ironing station. More room for more plants – yes please!

Other Updates:

  • I was supposed to go to Italy in May – my first vacation since 2017! – and, well, I’m sure you can guess what happened to that LOL.
  • I got stitches for the first (and hopefully only!) time this year. Cut my finger real good using a rotary cutter and went right through the nail. I’m happy to report that my finger is fully healed and you can’t even see the scar. But still – watch those rotary cutters!
  • This year, I really wanted to branch out and explore other creative pursuits that aren’t related to sewing / work – so I am learning how to draw and play piano! Both are activities that I really enjoyed when I was younger – I played piano for about 8 years as a kid, and was really into drawing as a teenager – that just fell off my radar once I started getting older and busier. Both are going really well! I have been drawing every day, and while I’m definitely still an amateur, I can absolutely see improvement and really just enjoy the process. I bought an electric piano over Thanksgiving weekend and have been working my way through a self-teaching guide – let me tell you, as someone who used to be very very good at piano (I look at my old books and think – how??? did I fucking play that??), it is humbling to start back over at the beginning. I had to re-learn how to read the music, how to make my fingers move the correct way. I’m still very much a beginner, but it’s so satisfying to practice and play and slowly hear myself develop my skills and muscle memory. Plus, it’s super super fun. I forgot how much I simply loved playing piano.
  • Another really big thing I learned this year, although not necessarily a highlight (I guess it depends on how you look at it LOL), is a better understanding of my food allergies and intolerances. After allergy testing and extensive elimination diets, I found out that I’m allergic to grains. This includes things like rice, corn, oats, and of course wheat. Yes, I know how bad it sucks. Rice has been a major staple of my diet for years, and learning how to live without it has been… really hard. But after cutting these out from my diet, I feel better than I ever could have imagined. I no longer get headaches or stomachaches, I sleep like an ANGEL, my mental clarity and focus is insane, and the random patches of eczema that I always dealt with have completely disappeared. I won’t lie, eating out is really difficult now – but it’s not so hard to make those substitutions when cooking at home (foods like Japanese glass noodles, cauliflower rice, and cassava flour have been wonderful discoveries this year). And it’s totally worth the effort, because, again, I feel AMAZING now. I did not even realize how poorly I felt in the past until I stopped feeling that way.

Sewing Updates!:

  • Because I was so busy this year with sewing for work, I didn’t sew as much as I tend to do in the past. Which is totally ok – I’ve mentioned before that my wardrobe doesn’t really have any holes, and I’ve tried to be conscious of the things I do add to it. Taking a hard look at why I do/don’t wear certain garments – is it the color? Shape? Fabric? Style? Fit? etc – was the big goal for this year. I actually kept a spreadsheet LIKE A BIG FUCKING NERD for several months while I sorted these thoughts out, and it was super helpful!
  • 2020 was the year I was inspired to dramatically narrow down my color palette! I know a lot of sewists revel in the fact that we can make and wear anything we want – which is awesome! – but I found there were a lot of colors that I did not wear, simply because I did not like the way they looked on me, or they didn’t go with anything else in my closet. By narrowing down my palette to a more limited range (warm autumnal colors are my JAM), I found that my wardrobe coordinates much more effortlessly. Of course, this also limits fabric buying options – I’m pretty surprised at how many shops and fabric lines almost exclusively carry cool colors!
  • Speaking of fabric buying, I worked a lot from my stash this year! In fact, from mid-March until now I’ve only bought fabric a total of 3 times. Considering how frequently I upped my stash last year (nearly every shop I taught at had me leaving with a small purchase), this was a win for me!
  • Finally, while I wasn’t sewing as many garments from scratch this year – I did manage quite a bit of alterations and repairs! I pulled out a stack of existing clothes in my wardrobe that weren’t quite “right” in some way – and I made them right! I know the majority of the sewing world loves to talk about how much they hate making alterations, but honestly it’s one of the most sustainable ways to sew (tell me you’re trying to be sustainable and then in the same breath say you’d rather make a whole ass new pair of jeans than alter the waistband of a pair you just finished… right.). In my experience, most alterations take an hour or less and are rarely as complicated as they might first appear to be. And, as I mentioned before – I just really love sewing. I don’t even care what I’m sewing, as long as I get to sew!
  • On a more personal note, I made a conscious effort to post less and be a little more private with my sewing life this year. I’ve learned that, for me, regular posting (whether it’s here on this blog or via social media) contributes to a sense of urgency to continually publish fresh content, at the expense of my own personal enjoyment. In the past, I’ve felt guilty for not wanting to go into my studio and sew – which is some bullshit, if you ask me! My creative practice is a way to keep me happy and centered, and trying to adhere to a posting schedule or force myself to make something when I’m not feeling the inspiration has the exact opposite effect. By enforcing some personal boundaries in that regard, I’ve re-kindled my love of doing things… just for the sake of doing them, and not necessarily because I want to share the results. It makes the learning process more fun, and makes the inevitable mistakes feel more like an important lesson rather than a big failure. Furthermore, creativity ebbs and flows. Sometimes I want nothing more than to spend all day sewing, and sometimes I would rather focus that energy on something else (I have a lot of other hobbies that are not sewing!). I don’t want to feel like I’m forcing my creativity because I have some weird self-imposed deadline that no one but me cares about.

Favorite Makes of 2020:

The Lightweight Sweater: I knit a few sweaters in 2020, but hands-down my absolute favorite is the Beauty School sweater from Poison Grrls. I wasn’t exactly sure how a short-sleeved wool sweater was going to fit in my wardrobe, but let me tell you – I have worn the SHIT out of this bad boy throughout the entire year. It is the perfect shape, weight, and color for all seasons. I used Brooklyn Tweed Peerie yarn for this one, but I’d love to knit another in something more luxe, like cashmere ❤ (PS – I also altered those pants I am wearing! The legs were originally way too wide, and now they are perfect!)

The Bias Dress: I didn’t make a load of dresses this year, but one that really stood out was the Sicily Slip Dress. This pattern reignited my love for wearing bias-cut garments (form-fitting while still comfortable!) in fun fabrics (this one is from Blackbird Fabrics). Such a fun dress to make and wear, and it always make me feel fancy even if I’ve got on sneakers.

The Push-Up Bra: Lingerie-wise, my new favorite bra pattern is definitely the Lansdowne Bra from Orange Lingerie. The partial band + plunge style isn’t something I normally wear, but I love those cleavage-enhancing effects!

The Backpack Tote: So I love sewing backpacks, and this one was no exception! I made the Maywood Totepack (using a kit) early in the year and it’s been SUCH a great (and stylish!) way to carry all my shit around when I’m on set. I love that the straps convert to either a backpack or tote, I love the water-resistant exterior, and I even love the interior pocket that was responsible for me cutting off the tip of my finger.

The Re-Dyed Sweater: Not a new make, but a successful revamp of an old one! My Martine sweater has been a long time favorite, but I’ve always hated the color (turns out I don’t like the way I look in light grey… who would have guessed). So I dyed it a more appropriate-for-me olive green and am stoked with the outcome!

The Painted Jacket: I thrifted this jacket in June 2019 and finally got around to painting it in 2020! The design is copied from a Patrick Nagel painting and I’m so happy with how it turned out!

The Big Reconstruction: Oh, and here’s a big one – my reconstructed blazer! I had so much fun working on this project and I learned a TON. I actually did this before I got my tailoring job at Oak Hall and the experience was a great introduction to the sort of tailoring I now do on a regular basis!

So what’s in store for next year? Well – back to teaching jeans workshops, I hope! (you can see my ever-hopeful 2021 schedule here!). I’d love to go back to traveling, when it is safe to do so. I’m also hoping that Nashville gets a little bit of a break this upcoming year! From devastating tornados (hi, we still haven’t rebuilt from that!), to the freak Derecho, to protest rioting that burned down part of our downtown, to our epic COVID-19 stats (I always wanted to be #1 but maybe not exactly this way lol) and now to the Christmas Day Bombing… its been a rough year for my city.

Overall, this has been a really, really good year for me. I almost hesitate to say this because I know so many people struggled in 2020. But since I started on my journey of self-improvement and hard introspection at the end of last year, I’ve been in a better mental place than I was for the last 10+ years. Don’t get me wrong – dealing with shut downs, cancellations, isolation, and fear of the unknown was definitely stressful and a little anxiety-inducing. What I found this year was that I was equipped to deal with whatever shit that got thrown at me and take it right in stride. For me, 2020 was a year to be brave and make myself a priority. My personal mantra was “Just try it and see what happens!”

I’m going to wrap this incredibly long (sorry) post with a quote that I recently discovered that has really resonated with me this year:

“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes. And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.” And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.” And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Amelia & I wish you all a happy, safe, and emotionally fulfilling 2021!

Completed: Reworking A Vintage Blazer

7 Oct

Here’s a big ol’ project I worked on for a couple months this summer that I believe warrants a whole ass blog post!

Fair warning – there are a LOT of photos in this post. I tried to narrow them down and include some collages, but… don’t say I didn’t warn you!

This project started with me wanting to make a blazer – but after months of looking and just not feeling any of the fabrics I was seeing, I decided I would try altering one instead. I’ve altered plenty of blazers, jackets, and coats for lots of clients + photoshoots over the years, but I’ve yet to really tackle complicated alterations beyond sleeve shortening and taking in the body (since, understandably, most people don’t need those kind of crazy alterations!). Over the summer, I worked closely on a photoshoot set with a master tailor here in Nashville, Loretta, who was delighted to share a lot of her trips and tricks with me. I spent some time looking for the perfect blazer for this project, and eventually found this 70s gem at the Southern Thrift in West Nashville, for a grand $5.99-

The before – click to zoom a lil’

As you can see, the before wasn’t super terrible! Obviously the sleeves were a little long and the back a bit saggy (there was no size tag in this jacket but I suspect it was probably 1-2 sizes too big for me). I also felt like the shoulders were a touch wide, and the length a little too long. But I loved the fabric and knew I could work some magic to get this bad boy to fit the way I liked!

I started with pulling off the buttons, the back belt, the cheesy patch pockets (I’m sorry, but they are SO cheesy lol and were also poorly sewn on!). I removed the entire lining from the shell and set about my alterations first. Here is what I ended up doing:

  • Narrowed the shoulders by 1/2″
  • Added shoulder pads (the original ones had disintegrated into the jacket hem! I am STILL finding old shoulder pad dust in my studio, despite regular vacuuming!)
  • Took in back arm seams 3/8″
  • Took in side back seams 1/8″
  • Took in center back seam 1/2″
  • Shortened body length 2″
  • Shortened sleeve length 3/4″

This was accomplished by lots of pinning, basting, trying on, and taking photos (so I could see what the back looked like). Usually when I do these alterations, I work with a client who is already wearing the jacket – so it’s quick and easy to pin where needed. It’s a little harder when you are doing it yourself, but still totally doable!

Adding pockets and plackets!

After finishing the alterations, I could work on the fun stuff – adding design elements to the shell! I knew I wanted to change those patch pockets out for double welt pockets. I also wanted to include sleeve vents with functioning (!!!) button holes, a single welt breast pocket, and an interior “Barcelona” pocket.

Since I had removed the patch pockets and back belt from the original jacket, I was able to carefully disassemble them which gave me some fairly good-sized pieces of fabric to work with. Adding the double and single welt pockets was pretty straightforward and easy – it’s the exact same as sewing on a piece of fabric, you just have to contend with, well, an entire jacket getting in your way haha. I used the instructions + pattern pieces from the Closet Core Patterns Jasika Blazer for the two exterior pockets, and a beloved In-House Patterns tutorial for the inner pocket. Honestly, the hardest part about this endeavor was figuring out where exactly to put the pocket! For the outside pockets, I drew chalk lines directly on the blazer and checked the proportions in the mirror until I was happy. For the interior pocket, I went a little lower than my chest after looking at loads and loads and LOADS of blazers online with interior pockets – consensus seems to be that it starts right below the welt of the outer breast pocket. Which makes sense, as you don’t want whatever you put in that pocket to sit right on top of your breast. Well, I don’t want that anyway haha.

For the sleeve placket – well, that was a fun experience! The original jacket had no placket – just buttons sewn straight on a plain sleeve. Loretta had shown me how to shorten a jacket sleeve with a working button placket, which is the same process as adding a placket. You just sew fabric to the edge to create a placket extension; all the seams are hidden when it is finished. I had no idea shit would be that simple. I think the scraps I used came from the back belt. For a step by step, I followed these directions for sewing a back vent (a back vent and button placket on a jacket are essentially the same – except there is no exposed line of diagonal stitching) from Waffle Patterns. The hardest part of that was getting the corners to miter correctly haha. Wish I could give y’all some tips for that but TBH I just used a lot of trial and error and unpicking until it was right.

I also decided to change out the lining, after determining the original lining – while a really beautiful soft pinkish beige – was just too smelly and discolored. I took the lining apart and used the pieces to cut a new lining from a piece of silk charmeuse that I already had in my stash (here is a blog post I wrote a few years ago about replacing a lining in a coat, which is the same process I used!). I made sure to add my alteration adjustments and sleeve plackets to the pieces, then sewed the whole thing together and bagged it in. I did hand sew at the sleeve button plackets and near the front facing (you can sort of see the pins in the above photos), but the rest was done by machine.

After THAT was done (whew!), I added some fun finishing touches 🙂 I sewed buttons + button holes on the sleeve plackets (using the original buttons, cos, well, I like them!), added a leather hanging tab + label to the back facing – oh, and I made a sweet wool felt embroidered undercollar!

To make the undercollar piece, I cut some Swedish tracing paper and traced it around the undercollar, trimming and refining until it was the exact same size. Then I cut it from wool felt (which I ordered the The Felt Pod); my piece was wider than the felt so there is a seam in the center. Then I embroidered it by hand with a simple chain stitch, and attached it directly over the existing undercollar using embroidery floss + a blanket stitch. It’s not visible when the collar is down, but it is a fun surprise when flipped up!

I actually finished the whole thing about a month or so ago, but didn’t get around to taking photos until this last weekend. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – taking photos is the part I hate most! So, like, enjoy or something 😛 I’m pretty sure my neighbors did considering that came outside RIGHT WHILE I WAS SHOOTING THESE dear lord can you see the fear in my eyes?

And if you don’t want to look at my mug (it’s cool, I don’t want to look at it either), here are some dressform shots:

I think that’s about it for this project! I had a lot of fun digging into this one and feel extra confident in my alteration skills as a result. Funnily, the original jacket isn’t very fancy – it’s actually pretty cheaply made as far as jackets go. The wool is a blend, and there wasn’t much tailoring inside the shell apart from a bunch of interfacing. Spending so much time + effort (and silk lining lol) was basically the equivalent of polishing a turd – but, you know what? I love how it turned out, and I learned a lot during the process. I don’t know if such an involved reconstruction would be worth it if you were paying someone else to do it – but for me and my sewing practice? It was perfect. I was only out about $10 for this project (the jacket + wool felt, as I already had the lining in my stash) which we can all agree is WAY cheaper (and faster!) than making the dang thing from scratch!

I will always love making garments from their humble fabric beginnings, but truly, you can’t beat a solid reconstruction (or even just a couple simple alterations to an otherwise great + previously-loved garment!). This might be the most sustainable I get when it comes to sewing, ha! How about you? Does this inspire you to give it a try?

Swatch Service with The Confident Stitch

6 Jul

TCS Swatch Service

I don’t know about y’all, but my fabric buying habits have dramatically changed since this whole pandemic shit started. While I strongly prefer to buy my fabric in person, I’ve had to learn how to shop online again. It’s been an interesting learning curve, to say the least. How often have we purchased fabric that ended up being wildly different than what we were anticipating? Sometimes this is due to bad photos/monitor situations (like with incorrect colors or very strangely-scaled prints), and sometimes the company just does a piss-poor job of describing their product accurately. Either way, it’s frustrating – not to mention expensive!

For this reason, I love ordering swatches. It’s so handy to get an actual piece of the fabric, that you can, you know, actually get your hands on. This, too, is a little risky though – since there’s no guarantee the fabric won’t sell out before you make your decision!

Today I’m going to tell you about a new way to swatch, as offered by The Confident Stitch and their new Swatch Service!

TCS Swatch Service

The Confident Stitch‘s Swatch Service is pretty straightforward – every 3 months, you receive a card with a selection of fabric swatches for the upcoming season. There is a variety of fibers and weights included, everything from swimsuit lycra to rigid bottom weight. The fabrics are chosen to coordinate with one another, which makes it easy capsulate your wardrobe if that’s your thing.

One thing that I really appreciated is that the swatch cards are available in 3 different options: warm tones, cool tones, and quilting cotton. No more getting a box of swatches in all cool blues when you’re more of a warm red kinda person, or vice versa! Furthermore, the card is limited to 8 swatches, so it’s more of a curated experience and less of an overwhelming “let’s throw everything in the box and hope something resonates!”

In addition to swatches themselves, the cards also include care instructions, fabric facts, and pattern suggestions. For even more in-depth fiber nerdiness, Swatch Service also provides emails (sent after the cards are shipped) with more details about each fabric. There are videos so you can see how the fabric handles (also great for checking out print proportion), links to different color options, and blog posts with more information on each fabric, including tips for cutting and sewing.

Oh, and you also get a discount on all the fabrics featured in your swatch book, which is valid for 90 days!

TCS Swatch Service

The Swatch Service starts at $15 per card/quarter, with discounts for ordering multiple cards and/or months.

The folks at the Confident Stitch sent me both the cool and warm tones swatch cards, so I could get a good look and feel of them in order to write this post!

TCS Swatch Service

The first thing I noticed was how professional they look – heavy cardstock, full color printing, and the swatches themselves are firmly attached to the card (sorry mine are a little beat up – I was carrying them around in my backpack all week!). You can flip up each swatch to reveal essential information (fiber content, care instructions, suggested needle size, fabric width and price per yard). On the left-hand side are pattern suggestions and line drawings, which can be used in combination with the swatches to create a small capsule wardrobe that is suited for the season.

TCS Swatch Service

TCS Swatch Service

As you can see, the fabrics all coordinate with each other quite beautifully. As someone who struggles with creating a cohesive color palette (I end up just making things in every single color and then wonder why nothing coordinates with each other), it’s pretty magical to have the colors and prints already chosen for you!

One thing I really love is that the swatches are all fabrics that are reorderable (if you’re like me and you tend to sew designer end-cuts, I know you feel my pain in regards to non-reorderable fabric lol), so generally these same fabrics will be available even if you take your sweet time deciding on which swatches to pick. This also means that many of the fabrics come in multiple colorways! So maybe you love the feel of the Robert Kaufman Essex Linen, but that blue isn’t doing it for you – just know there’s probably something even better (hint: there is. Essex Linen rules, btw!)

TCS Swatch Service

TCS Swatch Service

I think my favorite thing, though, is the little sewing tip under each swatch! Each fabric has a professional pointer to help with sewing, fabric care, or choosing a suitable pattern. They are fun to read and would be super handy for any beginner who needs a little extra guidance.

TCS Swatch Service

TCS Swatch Service

The Swatch Service is great if you’re the sort of person who needs a little guidance with choosing fabrics for your upcoming sewing projects, or prefers a more tactile shopping experience. I also think this is a wonderful option for new sewists who are still trying to navigate the crazy world of fabric hand, drape, and fiber content – and may not necessarily have access to a local fabric store that carries a wide variety of options. It’s also just a nice little way to support a small business, while also getting a fun (and hopefully inspiring!) piece of mail a few times a year! Are you a mood board / visual sewing planner sort of person? This card already comes with pre-cut swatches and line drawings that you can use! Yes!

TCS Swatch Service

Here are the warm and cool cards next to each other! Personally, I’m really feeling those warm tones – but the cool is pretty nice, too! Which one do you like?

** Just a note: This is a sponsored post. The Confident Stitch sent me these swatch cards for free, and I was compensated for this post. All unbiased views and opinions are my own! 

Completed: The Maywood Backpack

18 Jun

Wow guys, it’s been a minute, huh? I try not to neglect this space, but the fact is I only write when I feel like it… which is honestly, kind of rare. I’d rather be making stuff!

So anyway, here’s something I made recently!

Maywood Backpack

This is the Maywood Toteback! Realtalk – I have PINED for this damn bag since I first saw one in the wild (I think it might have been at one of my jean workshops!). I love how it flips from a tote bag to a backpack with a push of the straps:Maywood Backpack

Maywood backpack

I think y’all know I love sewing backpacks (1 2 3), although I have to limit myself since there are only so many backpacks a person can use! (a backpack update: #1 gets used occasionally, #2 was gifted to my little brother who absolutely loves it, and #3 still is used frequently when I travel. You know, back when we were still allowed to travel haha). I justified this one since it’s a bit more refined than my standard canvas pack – the solid black waxed canvas, gold hardware, and rich leather straps just make it look so classy. And I love that I can flip it to a tote, for times when I don’t feel like carrying my shit around on my back – or, TBH, when I feel like showing off my rad back patch haha.

Maywood Backpack

Maywood Backpack

The pattern itself is a super simple design – it’s a basic bag with boxed corners and a zippered top, fully lined to hide all seams. The pattern includes a large front pocket (for hiding the front tote strap when using this as a backpack) and an inner pocket that is large enough to fit a laptop (my 13″ MacBook Pro fits perfectly, FYI). What really makes it shine is the high-quality materials, especially those leather straps!

I knew I needed more than 2 giant pockets for this bag – and while it’s a slim size (you can fit a surprising amount in there, but it is arguably smaller than your standard backpack), I didn’t want to overload it with so many pockets that I stuff the whole thing too full to zip closed (typical Lauren – if there is space, I will find a way to fill it). But I did want a small pocket to throw my wallet in – and, based on past backpack experience, I wanted it to be zippered so nothing would fall out.

Maywood Backpack

I ended up adding a little patch pocket that closes with a zipper, using the pattern pieces + instructions from the Addictive Free Canvas Tote from Niizo. Niizo is hands-down my favorite pattern + kit maker for bags, I always find their techniques to be so clever! I’ve made the tote before so I was familiar with the steps to insert this pocket. I like that it’s a patch pocket (so I could rip it off with no issues if I ended up deciding that I didn’t want the pocket!), and it has the zippered closure that I require. It’s the perfect size to hold my wallet, which is basically what it is intended for. I also added a little loop to the side seam, which I use to hang my keys or AirPods (using a carabiner clip) so they are easily accessible, but also secure while not taking up precious pocket real estate.

I actually sewed this pocket twice – my first go wasn’t quite perfect, and there were a few mistakes that just looked glaringly bad enough that I feel it was worthy of a re-do. I made this bag while on set for a big photoshoot (it is allowed where I live, please don’t @ me), and we were done with all our sewing… so I figured I had all the time in the world to get it right. I recut my pocket pieces from muslin, and while using the rotary cutter I glanced away for a fucking second and ended up somehow slicing through the tip of my left pointer finger. To make a very long and boring story short, I got 7 stitches the next day and also lost about 1/4 of my nail as the blade cut right through the nail bed. I’ve never had to get stitches before – hell, I’ve never had a sewing accident that warranted going to the walk-in clinic! – and let me tell you… that shit SUCKED. There was about a week and a half that I had very limited use of that finger which resulted in me not being able to type or knit without pain. Thankfully, it’s completely healed up at this point and my nail is slowly starting to grow back.

I guess the moral of this story is – 1. Pay attention when you are using your rotary cutter! and 2. Sometimes re-doing a pocket is the worst decision you can make that day LOL

Maywood Backpack

Anyway, it turned out all right in the end! I’m glad I added the pocket, although I wish I’d just kept the first version (as well as part of my finger haha). I used medium weight muslin and a metal zipper and I think it fits in with the rest of the bag nicely. Also, you can see here how much stuff fits in the bag! My laptop, charger, Kindle, notebook, pen pouch, and wallet are all hanging out in there. I also typically bring my knitting bag (which is full of a sweater at this point). It holds a lot!

Maywood Backpack

So, a little more about the kit I used! I got the whole ass kit from Pintuck & Purl (I think Maggie special ordered it for me, ha!), which includes everything – fabric, hardware, leather, and the pattern. All the pieces are pre-cut and marked, which means you can jump right into making! I’m boring as shit and I wanted a 100% black bag, but there are other color options (including a contrasting front pocket) if you don’t want to embrace your inner Goth. I also got the tool kit, for hammering in all the hardware. The outer fabric is waxed canvas, the lining is a heavy cotton duck. Both materials are structured enough to stand on their own without the use of interfacing. All of the leather is hammered on – no sewing (so no worries about whether or not your machine can handle it!). The handles are backed with leather supports, so the whole thing feels sturdy even when you’ve got it overloaded to max heaviness.

Maywood Backpack

I’ve been carrying mine around daily for about 3 weeks now and it has been perfectly suited for my needs!

Maywood Backpack

In other news, I hope you enjoyed my artsy photos that were definitely not taken in my back yard haha.

New Vogue Sewing Patterns: A Roast

29 Apr

Ooooh y’all looks like we’ve been blessed with a lil’ treat this month – new Vogue Patterns are out and they are something else. It’s almost like they’ve been saving the crazy ones and decided to give us a treat to take our minds off the world basically being a dumpster fire otherwise.

Before we get into it – I want to address the question that I get asked all the time, which is why I don’t write these reviews anymore. Ummm y’all I don’t know if there is another Vogue website I’m not seeing but honestly the stuff they have been releasing for the past few years has been pretty inoffensive. I look every single season and I really don’t see anything that warrants being made fun of. Lots of boring and meh stuff for sure, but none of the crazy WTF-were-y’all-thinking shit that we used to see in their catalogues. It’s not a conspiracy. No one told me to stop posting. I’m not holding out to be mean. I really just… don’t see the WTF much these days. That’s it, that’s the tea.

That being said, oh there’s plenty of it this season. Let’s take a look!

Vogue 1702 / Claire Shaeffer
It finally happened. Science has found to way to breed pants with skirts and created this hybrid monstrosity. But have we gone too far?

Vogue 1694 / Marcy Tilton
It’s a strange fabric choice but TBH I kind of like it.

Vogue 1697
Cute dress or whatever, but who is responsible for styling this shoot? The way the bias has draped at her lower back looks like a fucking jelly roll.

Vogue 1692 / Júlio César NYC
Ok, Angelina.

Vogue 1704 / Rachel Comey
Hot air balloon sleeves: A must-have for the season’s fashion.

Vogue 1707
Who approved that button placement? It looks like God put her nipples in the wrong spot.

Vogue 1710 / Rachel Comey
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph what the FUCK am I looking at here??

Vogue 1708
So I guess this is supposed to be a jumpsuit where the “bodice” is just long ties that you can wrap however. It’s a cute idea in theory I guess but in reality it looks like she quit sewing the garment halfway through and is trying to Little Mermaid her way into pretending like it’s a whole ass dress.

The back is cute, tho.

Vogue 1706
Hospital scrubs, but make it fashion.

Vogue 1700

Who wore it better?

Vogue 1703
I don’t hate the pattern, I just want to talk shit about the stripe placement.

Vogue 1695 / Today’s Fit By Sandra Betzina
Bonus – the bow doubles as a pillow!

Vogue 1705
Thanks, I hate it.

Vogue 1701

That’s all for this round! Thanks to Vogue Patterns for giving us some entertainment during these shitty, shitty times. Which one was your favorite?

This one is mine. Elbow windows! WITH RUFFLES. I cannot even tell you how long I’ve spent laughing at this.

Tutorial: How To Adjust the Waistband of Your Jeans

1 Apr

jeans waistabdn tutorial

Hey friends! I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy during these strange times. I think most of us are firmly in the “stay home and self isolate” camp (at least, I hope all y’all are! STAY HOME!!) (except for those who are, of course, on the front lines – thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, for your sacrifices every single day. Y’all the real MVPs <3), and while it’s a great excuse to catch up on all the projects we’ve been putting off… I know I’m not the only one who is experiencing a dip in their creative energy. It’s not surprising; stress can really do a number on your mental health and overall energy, and sometimes the first thing to go is the desire to do anything other than [barely] survive. However, for me – and I’m sure this can be said for a lot of us – being creative is what brings me joy, so it is important that I make at least a tiny effort every single day. Sometimes that means I sew, sometimes I draw, sometimes I just read. And sometimes I want to sew, but not necessarily start a new project. This is where alterations are so useful! I can get a little bit of sewing in – 20 to 60 minutes – and let my brain have a little stab at problem-solving. Plus, it feels pretty good to take something previously unwearable and make it wearable!

So with all that being said – today I want to share a tutorial on how to alter the waistband of your jeans! This is something you can do on both handmade and ready-to-wear jeans (I actually perform this alteration frequently for clients as one of my side-gigs). You can of course use these steps for any waistband adjustment – trousers or skirts for example – just be aware that some steps may differ depending on what you are working on.

I am sorry in advance for the quality of the photos. I originally shot these with the intention of posting them on Instagram, but while typing my caption i realized it was too long for the app! So I’m moving it here to a blog post (and I can’t re-shoot the steps since, well, all my pants fit now! LOL). For more mini-tutorials and pro tips, please follow and/or occasionally check in on Instagram – the hashtag is #lladybirdprotips

Some notes about this process – as I mentioned, this is not technically jeans-specific, as you can use this process to alter any waistband, including trousers and skirts. Keep in mind that anything you alter without belt loops will mean a visible waistband seam (which I personally thing is a worthwhile trade-off for having a fitted waistband, but you can be the judge of your own wardrobe!). If you don’t like the idea of a visible waistband seam, you can either re-cut a new waistband (I keep leftover fabric from projects specifically for this purpose!) or remove volume from multiple areas (which would make the adjustment appear more of a ~design element~ rather than an alteration).

Heart on Ginger Jeans

When determining the amount of take out of your waistband, you will be tempted to overfit. Don’t do this. You want to aim for snug, but not tight. It’s hard to really articulate this into specific words, but I’ll try. A waistband should not have negative ease (unless it’s super stretchy), but should be quite close to your own actual measurements, if not slightly larger (no more than 1”, but this will vary based on body shape and personal preference). For me, I like a waistband that is fitted enough to only allow a couple of fingers, but not so snug that it gives me back fat / love handles. I know with some body shapes, this can be unavoidable – so use your best judgement, and understand that it’s totally fine if you end up needing to re-adjust later down the line. It’s a learning process, after all! Better to not take out enough and need to re-do the adjustment (think of it as another chance to practice, rather than that you did it “wrong” the first time), than take out too much and render the pants unwearable. Because of this, I tend to err on the side of a looser waistband when first sewing my pants, with the understanding that I can always make adjustments later down the line. Sometimes your fabric – especially if you are working with a rigid denim – takes a bit of wearing and washing before it really settles into its shape. A LOT of my pants start out needing a belt for the first few wears, then the waistband shapes itself over time and washing. I recommend waiting a couple of months before doing this alteration!

I know a lot of people recommend adding darts to your yoke to get a better fit, or subbing a curved waistband. While these are certainly viable solutions, I personally find a curved waistband uncomfortable (and it’s something you rarely see in RTW – most waistbands are cut straight and eased in) and I think darts in a yoke look terrible (there, I said it! Fight me!). So my method is a little different, but it works! Try it!

Now, without further ado- Altering the Waistband of Your Jeans: A Lil’ Tutorial!

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
1. Try on your jeans and pinch out the center back waistband until it fits snugly. Pin this measurement (or use a binder clip), and then measure the distance from the pin to the fold. This is how much you will need to take out- in my case, 1” total. Don’t worry about doubling the measurement or anything, we aren’t mathing here! If you are fitting yourself, you may need to pinch the side seam rather than the center back.

Trying to figure out if you just need to adjust the waistband or the whole back of your pants? A good rule of thumb is if it fits everywhere *except* the waistband (like you just need a belt to snug it up, or else the waistband shelfs open when you sit down)- then you will just work on the waistband. If you’ve got quite a bit of extra space down the center back of your pants as well (like you can easily shove your whole hand down there), then you will want to also take in the center back seam in addition to the waistband. If you’ve got loads of unnecessary room everywhere in the back, you probably just cut a size too big – so take a bit out of the side seams in addition to the center back. Don’t be afraid to pin shit until you’ve got a fit that feels good!

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
2. Ok, time to start unpicking! Completely remove the center back belt loop, and remove the bottom stitching lines from both side back belt loops.

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
3. Remove the back waistband from the jeans, from side seam to side seam. Depending on how much you are taking out of the waistband, you may be able to get away with unpicking less (although I tend to err on the side of removing more than less, since you’ll be closing the whole thing up later anyway). I do not recommend unpicking far beyond the side seam!

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
4. Remove all top stitching and under stitching from all sides of the waistband, so that you can completely separate the waistband from the facing. You don’t need to unpick completely from side seam to side seam here – 3”-5” is plenty, depending on how much you are taking out. If you are removing understitching, you will need to unpick about 1” of top stitching beyond the understitching on either end. Mark the center back of the waistband (I used a pin here).

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
5. Fold the waistband at the center back together short ways, with the right sides facing, and open out all folded seam allowances so it is completely flat. Sew a new seam line from one end to the other, with the distance from the fold being whatever measurement you took in step #1. Repeat for the waistband facing.

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
6. Cut open the fold, trim seam allowances if needed (I like to trim my facing seam allowances slightly shorter so there isn’t a bunch of bulk right at the center back), and press both seams open.

7. Sew the waistband and the facing together along the top edge, and understitch.

8. Pin the center back seam of the waistband facing to the center back seam of the pants, with the right side of the facing against the wrong side of the pants, then ease the top edge of the pants to match the new length of the waistband (no photo, sorry!). You will probably need to pull the waistband quite a bit to stretch to fit (#unintentionalpoetry), but it can be done! I took out 2” total from my waistband (1” on the fold), using a very low stretch denim cut on the cross grain, and was able to ease it in with some womanpower. If your fabric is very rigid or you need to take out a lot, you may want to unpick the top stitching from the center back seam of the pants and remove some of the excess there, grading to nothing along the CB seam line. Use your best judgement here!

10. Now sew the facing to the top edge of the pants, pulling the waistband to stretch and easing the top edge of the pants to fit (pro tip – keep the facing on top and the pants against the feed dogs of your machine. This will kept ease the excess fabric, as well as give you more control over stretching the waistband). Press the seam allowances up toward the waistband, steaming out any ease wrinkles at the top edge of the pants if necessary.

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
11. Now just sew everything back together! Pin the waistband on the outside to cover the previous stitching line, then topstitch along the top edge of the pants. Topstitch the waistband to the facing along the top of the waistband. Re-attach the center belt loop (which ideally will cover your CB stitching line) and the bottom of the side back belt loops. Give everything a good press and you are done!

Claryville Jeans

And that’s it! Honestly, this is a very easy (and very emotionally fulfilling!) adjustment – I think writing this blog post might have taken longer than actually making the alteration! I encourage y’all to give this a whirl if you have a pair of jeans that’s just a little loose in the waist – even the smallest adjustment can make a huge difference!

Some notes: The jeans in this tutorial are the Claryville Jeans from Workroom Social (blog post can be found here). Also, I am still offering Virtual Private Lessons if you have an alteration need that you’d like to chat about or get a little guidance with! So far they’ve been a blast!

How is everyone holding up these days? What are you doing to bring a little creative joy to your life?