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?

Now Offering Virtual Private Sewing Lessons!

19 Mar

cat in studio

Hey friends! As we navigate the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, I know a lot of us are encouraged if not mandated to #staythefuckhome to slow down the spread of the virus and help flatten the curve. Which means lots of time for sewing – yay, silver lining – but not a lot of options for being social or getting help in the form of classes and workshops. I know I personally have had to cancel / reschedule 2 workshops so far and anticipate many more will meet the same fate (peep my workshops page for updates), which in addition to the loss of income is just a total bummer! I’m bummed!

While it is unfortunately not possible at this time for me to offer online workshops (logistically, I just can’t swing it – although I will continue to look into it so that may change in the future!), I do think one-on-one lessons can be managed via video platform. So, starting now – I am happy to announce that I am offering Virtual Private Sewing Lessons! Yay!

All information (including a FAQ because everyone loves a good FAQ) is on the Virtual Private Sewing Lessons page of my blog, but a quick rundown of how this works:

  • You will sign up for preferred lesson via the PayPal link ($18 for 30 minutes, $30 for 60 minutes, $45 for 90 minutes).
  • After payment has been completed, click the RETURN TO MERCHANT link to be redirected to my Calendly page to select your preferred time and date (availability is from 11a – 6p CST Monday -Saturday, although I can be flexible if your time zone does not work with these. Send me an email!).
  • To complete your request, you will be asked to tell me a little bit about what you would like to cover during the lesson – this will allow me time to do any necessary prep work so that we can go straight into the good stuff during your session! You can also email me pictures / confusing instructions, ask questions – whatever gets us best prepared!
  • Lessons will be held via Google Hangouts (which is free to use on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Since this is a new technological territory for me (let’s be real, there are gonna be some hiccups!), for a limited time I am offering these lessons at a discount of 40% off my standard hourly teaching rate. I know a lot of us are looking at an uncertain future in terms of the economy + our jobs, so I hope that these lower rates will also allow more people to take advantage of this new platform and strengthen their sewing knowledge!

So what can be covered in a Virtual Private Sewing Lesson? Well – just about anything, I reckon! Here are some ideas to get the juices going:

  • Deciphering confusing sewing instructions
  • Real-time demos for specific techniques
  • Help with fitting (I’m not sure how well this will work since I tend to fit very hands-on, but I am willing to try and see what happens!)
  • Basic clothing alterations
  • Flat pattern adjustments
  • General sewing advice (such as fabric and pattern recommendations, finishing techniques for certain projects, advice for handling tricky fabrics, troubleshooting)
  • Or we can just chat because chatting is fun!

Selfishly, I am also hoping this will allow me to be more social while still maintaining my self-isolation – so perhaps that will be the same for you! Shit is stressful enough right now without having to deal with long bouts of loneliness, amirite?

I have some new projects and tutorials that I’d like to share on this blog, so stay tuned for those! In the meantime, please check out my Virtual Private Sewing Lessons page if you are interested in booking at session with me! Share it with your friends! I think we could all use a little creative distraction right now 🙂

Stay safe, stay healthy, wash your hands, and STAY THE FUCK HOME! Love y’all!


Completed: Tongue-Tied Sweater

26 Feb

It’s been a minute since I shared a knitting project! I actually *have* been knitting – I always have at least 1 project on my needles at any given time (usually two – one for the couch, and a smaller/simpler one for the road!), and I always keep my Ravelry account updated! But for whatever reason, I never feel super compelled to share them on my blog. Anyway, here’s one today!Tongue-Tied Sweater + Dawn Cords

This is the Tongue Tied sweater by Poison Grrls. I actually chose the yarn before the sweater pattern – a very uncharacteristic knitting move for me (usually I have my pattern selected before I start shopping for yarn). To be completely honest – I wasn’t in the mindset for planning a new sweater when all this happened, as I was still steadily working my way through my last sweater (see! There’s one I knit and never shared here lmao). But this yarn caught my eye at Pintuck & Purl and once I got my hands on it, it was all I could think about.

Tongue-Tied Sweater + Dawn Cords

The yarn is CashLuxe Spark by Sweet Georgia Yarns, a gloriously soft and cushiony fingering-weight yarn with this incredibly rich color and the cutest subtle sparkle! I’m not a super duper yarn snob (I love natural fibers, blah blah, but I don’t typically buy *really* expensive yarn. Although. That may now change haha) but I really, really, really wanted this yarn on my body. I initially considered socks – I mean, who doesn’t want to wrap their toes in cashmere? – but at $38/skein, that was a little rich even for my blood. So obviously it made sense to buy two skeins and turn it into a sweater, because that’s totally fiscally responsible.

Tongue-Tied Sweater + Dawn Cords

Tongue-Tied Sweater + Dawn Cords

I started this sweater right after I finished my last one, toward the end of December last year. It knitted up really fast – partially because, well, it’s a tiny fucking sweater, but also I just really enjoyed every part of the process. I LOVED touching that yarn, so so much. I actually would have finished this quite a bit sooner, except once I got to the point of picking up the sleeves I let it sit dormant for a couple of weeks while I worked on other stuff.

Not a lot to say about this pattern, but here are some notes:
– I knit the size Small, based on my bust measurement. My gauge called for size 2 needles (body) and 1 needles (ribbing).
– This is a really fitted sweater! I mean, I knew that going in – but trying it on, yeah, it’s basically painted on. Aggressively blocking the entire thing really well helped a lot, and now it skims my body perfectly.
– Because it was so tight, I did have some issues with getting a stretchy enough bind off (I actually had to re-do my bind off at the bottom AND the neckline twice!). I ended up using size 3 needles and a super stretchy bind off. With the neckline, that was mainly my fault for being an idiot. I thought I’d be super clever and do a fold-over neckband, but quickly discovered (while unsuccessfully trying to pull it over my head) that those don’t stretch at all. LMAO.
– Mod-wise, I added 1″ of length to the body, since I wanted to be able to wear this with high-waisted jeans (it’s pretty short!).
– If you think you see a yarn tail in the back, you’re right. I haven’t woven it in yet. I don’t know why.

Tongue-Tied Sweater + Dawn Cords

I loved knitting this pattern! It was easy to follow, simple to knit (but not boring), and the proportions are just lovely. I’ve already got a few more Poison Grrls patterns in my radar for my next sweater. I love Amy’s aesthetic and I love that she uses fingering weight yarn – perfect for our mild winters!

Tongue-Tied Sweater + Dawn Cords

Tongue-Tied Sweater + Dawn Cords

Oh, I also made my pants, too! These are more Dawn Jeans, made in Robert Kaufman non-stretch corduroy from Pintuck & Purl! (I picked it out the same time I was fantasizing about that yarn haha). Not much to say about these that I haven’t already said – I made my normal size, this time with the wide legs and the cropped length. The cropped length isn’t actually that cropped – I ended up having to take off another 3″ or so (but I also have a 28″ inseam sooo take that as you will). I’m also not super thrilled about how the back fits, but I believe that’s just what you get with wide leg pants. The wrinkles are there because there is too much fabric at the inner thigh (the issue I had with my Calvin Klein jeans), but for true wide-leg pants you really don’t want to remove width there. Whatever, I’m not the one looking at my own butt so I don’t care.

Tongue-Tied Sweater + Dawn Cords

So anyway, that’s my new sweater! Fun to knit, fun to wear, and the sparkles make me happy 🙂 Oh! And I still have some of this yarn leftover – so you better believe I’ll be making a tiny pair of socks 🙂 If anyone has suggestions for short-cuff sock patterns – preferably one with bobbles (I don’t know why but I’m feeling like I want bobbles on these), let me know!

Completed: Rayon Crepe Magnolia Dress

4 Feb

LMAO for some reason I’ve been sitting on these photos since Thanksgiving, no idea why I’ve been dragging my feet to post this! Anyway, better late than never!

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

This is the Magnolia dress from Deer & Doe, this time in View A with the plunging neckline, long sleeves, and a very mini length (ok, so that’s not view A exactly, but let me live). I’ve made this dress before and wore it a few times this last year, and I was interested to try it again with some modifications.

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

My original Magnolia dress skews quite a bit more romantic than how I normally dress (and while I’m not quite ready to let it go yet, I will admit that it doesn’t get a whole lot of wear), but I loved the pattern and I wanted to try it with a more modern twist. One thing I have noticed with my OG dress is the bust is just a bit more generous than my actual body. As I mentioned, I sewed a different view, sized down to a 34 at the bust (keeping the 38 at the waist / hip) and made a quick muslin to assess the fit. Here are the changes I made:
– Took an additional 1/4″ out of the CB along the fold for my narrow back
– Removed a 1/2″ wedge from the front neckline because it was gaping (same as this method, except obviously on the front. Also, oh my god I miss that dresssss)
– Reduced the upper bust by about 1/4″ by shaving it off the princess seams to the bust point (I wanted to wear this dress without a bra and my breasts tend to be a little more bottom-heavy)
– Removed an additional 1/4″ off the side seam

Sounds like a lot, but it was just tiny tweaks! I wanted the dress to be fitted, but still skim over my body (rather than just be tight). Shortening the neckline to bring in the gaping was definitely the biggest thing; I knew I wasn’t going to wear a bra with this dress and I wanted to be CONFIDENT that there was no danger of accidental nip-slips. I’m not going to go into detail the weird gymnastics I performed in my studio to really test this theory, but believe me… the ladies aren’t going anywhere.

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

I bought my rayon crepe from Stone Mountain & Daughter Fabrics, back in March last year. I loved the autumnal colors and that beautiful drape! I took home 3 yards, and used nearly every last inch of it, despite this dress being a mini. Those sleeves took up a lot of fabric!

Construction-wise, I didn’t make too many changes to the dress beyond what the instructions call for. I did opt to self-line the entire top – the instructions just have you self-line the bodice, which I think is fine but why not the back? By doing this, I was able to eliminate all the bias facings, and have a completely clean finish. I also self-faced the waistband pieces, again, for a clean finish but this time on the inside. This is just personal preference; I don’t like exposed waistband seams in dresses and for the most part, I always face them. I don’t have any photos of this, so you’ll need to use your imagination.

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

To keep that neckline intact and immune to stretching out, I used strips of twill tape to stabilize the edges (here is a similar method to what I used). One thing I irrationally hate in clothing is weird gapey necklines that don’t stay close to the body, so I will do whatever it takes to keep that shit in check. Especially with a low-cut top like this, and again, especially since I ain’t wearing a bra with it! Anyway, the twill tape means that edge is nice and stable.

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

Unfortunately, I do think I was a little overzealous with my neckline tweaking – I shortened the twill tape too much, because now the center front of the waistband rides up. It’s noticeable for sure, but it also looks intentional so we’ll just say that was the case.

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

Surprisingly, the sleeves were the correct length for me without any adjustments (I think having a gathered elastic edge makes things a bit more forgiving). And I believe I did shorten the skirt length further, but I couldn’t tell you by how much (sorry). It is pretty short, though I love it! I feel so sassy and groovy and a little floaty when I wear this dress.

Rayon Crepe Magnolia dress

Anyway, that’s all for this make! Short and sweet (both the dress and the blog post lol). I’d love to make this again in a solid color in the future, but for now, I love the fun print!

Completed: Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans

7 Jan

Alright y’all, I’m back with one more jeans post – the ~Designer Jeans~ Edition!

Thanks to Vogue 2442, I was able to make my own pair of Calvin Klein jeans 😀

Before we get too far into the post, though, I just want to acknowledge how absolutely stupid this envelope cover is. You can barely see any of the details of the jeans (although the butt close-up is helpful, and to be completely transparent here, it’s a nice butt), and I don’t know why that woman is holding her leg up like that because you definitely can’t do it in these jeans. Nothing about this cover art (or lack thereof) makes me want to try this pattern, but nevertheless, I persevered. For science.

Anyway, here are mine!

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

I went down a little rabbit hole last fall while looking at vintage jeans. I reaaaaaally wanted some vintage Calvin Kleins, if only for the brag factor, but my budget currently doesn’t allow me to spend hundreds of dollars on someone’s used jeans (RIP, the vintage market). I considered sewing them, but recalled looking up vintage CK patterns years ago and they were going for obscene wads of money. Just out of curiosity, I checked again – and was surprised to see that there are plenty to choose from for $10-$20. Calvin Klein licensed his name to Vogue patterns a bunch throughout the 80s and 90s, occasionally offering a jeans pattern. There were loads of mom jeans to choose from (including a truly horrifying Vogue 2851, I mean, come on) but I went with the OG, the Vogue 2442 from 1980. In the effort of being as science-y as possible, I re-measured myself and chose the size that closely matched my measurements – in this case, the 8.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

It took me a while to find a suitable denim to make these up – I wanted something non-stretch (as the pattern calls for – this was before stretch denim was really a thing!), but not too heavy, and a lighter wash. A bunch of the stuff I was coming up with ended up being way too lightweight, or had too much stretch, so this project ended up being shelved for longer than I would have liked.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

As you can see, I did end up finding a great denim – from Art Gallery Fabrics, of all places! I’ll admit that Art Gallery Fabrics wouldn’t be my first thought when it comes to denim, but they’ve been expanding their denim gallery and I was curious to see what the offerings entailed. There is a great selection of lightweight (4.5oz, like what you’d use to make a button-down top or a sundress) denims, both printed and dyed various colors. The heavier denims clock in at 10oz (which is the lighter end of a pants-weight denim, and my personal preference), and come in a smaller selection of colors, nonstretch only.

After playing with some swatches, I chose the Crosshatch Textured Denim, in the Bubbling Brook colorway. My other choice was the Solid Textured Denim in Bluebottle Field, but that was sold out, so hopefully I can try it out in the future!

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Anyway, about the Crosshatch Textured Denim! First off, you probably noticed that my jeans don’t exactly have a crosshatched design on them – that’s because you are looking at the wrong side of the fabric, baby! I actually don’t mind the crosshatch look, but upon receiving the fabric I fell in LURVE with the less contrasty wrong side of the fabric, so that’s what I went with on my jeans! My sewing project, my rules! The denim was pretty stiff and definitely not soft upon first receiving; but did get really soft and supple after just one wash. Be warned that it frays a lot, though – you’ll want to make sure you finish your seams (whether serging, or zigzaging, or even binding them) because otherwise the inside of your garment will get real hairy, real fast. If that bothers you, I mean. You do you.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Other than the fraying part, this denim was easy to work with. I recently got an Oliso Steam Iron (yes, the little iron that stands up when you stop touching it and yes it never ever stops being hilarious, no matter how much I use it) and this was my first real project to use it on. It doesn’t get quite as melt-your-hands-off-hot as my industrial gravity feed iron does (granted, this is cotton, so it doesn’t really need to be beaten into submission haha), but it heats up quickly, delivers a satisfying steam burst, doesn’t auto shut off every 2 minutes, oh, and IT STANDS ON IT’S OWN LITTLE FEET. My only regret in life is that I can’t find my stick-on googly eyes, because this iron needs eyeballs. Ok moving on.

Oliso Iron!

Oliso Iron!

Oliso Iron!

So, more about the pattern itself! Like I said, I went with the size 8, which was based on my current measurements. I did not make any prior fitting adjustments or a muslin before cutting my fabric – I just went for it! I wanted to see what would happen! (this might be my new motto for 2020). Fit-wise, this was almost perfect right out of the envelope. I did end up making a few minor tweaks before I attached the waistband – because I am extra, and I like fiddling with things! – but if I hadn’t done anything at all these still would have absolutely been wearable.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Adjustments I made:
– Removed 1/2″ from the inner thighs, keeping the crotch length intact
– Scooped 1/8″ from the front crotch curve
– 5/8″ wedge at the center back yoke + waistband
– Cut 5″ total off the hem (I have a 28″ inseam, y’all lmao)

Sorry I didn’t take before photos, but these were all minor tweaks that didn’t translate very well in a photograph. Also, when I’m fitting, I don’t want to stop to take a bunch of weird ass selfies. Sorry, not sorry! Looking at these photos, I see I could have removed a little more from the inner thighs (as evidenced by the horizontal wrinkles pointing directly at my butt), but I can assure you this is a big improvement from the start, and I actually think they look worse in the photos than in real life! But, you know, it’s good enough. I spent far too much of my past sewing days overfitting myself to the point of frustration (and sometimes, actual discomfort). Nowadays, when I feel like I’m done fiddling with it, I just stop. As long as it’s not actually uncomfortable, I think it’s good enough! It has been very liberating and I encourage y’all to consider the same outlook 🙂

The instructions on this pattern certainly were interesting! As someone who’s made loads and loads (and loads) of jeans, these were a little more based on the home-sewer, rather than how RTW jeans are made (granted, I don’t have access to vintage jeans at this time, but the 1980s isn’t exactly the same type of vintage as, say, the 40s, and generally the construction methods back then were more similar to how they are now, i.e., serging seam allowances and such). As this is an older pattern, it wasn’t common for the average home sewist to have a serger – so the instructions include turning under edges, or finishing seams with a zigzag or overcast stitch. Interestingly, there is NO interfacing called for in this pattern (I interfaced the fly facing + outer waistband, out of habit and because I know that gets the me the result I like), but they do have you add twill tape to the top and bottom edges of the curved waistband to keep it from stretching out (that was a no from me, dawg). The other weird thing I noticed was that they have you double topstitch the side seams, and not the inseam. I also skipped that part (I prefer a stronger inseam, thnx) and did it my own way. However, I did follow the instructions for the most part.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

The pattern includes a back pocket topstitching design, front pocket stays (pocket lining is also from Art Gallery Fabrics, fyi!), and a two-piece curved waistband. The pants are fitted at the waist, hips and thighs, and then the leg goes straight down (which is not what the line drawing suggests; they look a little more tapered on the envelope). Since my denim is such a light color, I opted for a pale brown topstitching thread (my beloved Gutterman Mara 70), rather than gold or copper. I alter a lot of jeans for clients and one thing I’ve noticed is that most jeans use brown thread, not gold or copper! My rivets and buttons are from the Garment District (I think these rivets might actually be for bags, but whatever, I like them); I had 1 extra rivet so I attached it to one corner of the back pocket. I saw this on a pair of jeans the stylist I work with was wearing, and while I normally hate rivets on back pockets, I thought it was kinda cute.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

My only issue with this pattern is the two-piece curved waistband. Since it’s in two pieces, that means there a seam at the center back – great for fitting, but it also means a lot of bulk at the center back when the inner and outer waistband are sewn together (and then later, a belt loop is sewn on top of that). I also admit that I was running on fumes by the time the waistband facing was attached, so it’s not my best work. But, it’s on the inside, so who cares!

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Overall, I enjoyed making this pattern and I think the finished jeans turned out great! I love the high waist (better for wearing crop tops with!), and the straight legs are a big style departure from my usual look. I love the lighter wash and subtle texture of the AGF denim, and I love love LOVE how soft it is! I don’t feel like I even really need to break these in, which is wonderful! If you’ve been looking for a good non-stretch, not-too-heavy denim, definitely check out what Art Gallery Fabrics has to offer!

** This post was sponsored by Oliso. All fabrics were provided by Art Gallery Fabrics. As always – all thoughts, opinions, and weird ideas are my own! **