2018: A Year in Review

31 Dec

I *almost* didn’t didn’t get this post written in time for the end of the year! But I feel like it’s not a true end-of-the-year celebration without a proper write-up, so here’s my review of 2018!

this me

2018 was another kind of weird year for me. It was definitely an upswing of a year compared to 2017, but I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t have to navigate some bullshit and heartache throughout the year. Sewing-wise, I’ve been on a constant path of slooooowing down, which has continued into 2018. A big part of this is due to less frequent blogging – I don’t feel compelled to post so frequently, which means I also didn’t feel compelled to constantly be making stuff. I also am just really over the idea of having multiples of the same thing. Not to judge anyone who lives and breathes having the same dress made in every color of the rainbow, I just realized it really isn’t for me. Especially considering I have a quite limited palette of colors I prefer to wear – something else that I’ve been really honing in on this year. It makes for a less exciting fabric stash, but the result is more garments that I will wear and truly love – rather than sewing just to sew, then blog, then never wear again.

Another really big change for me this year that drastically affected my sewing output was a big bump in my teaching commitments! I really put myself out there and offered loads of Sew Your Own Jeans workshops – and holy shit, y’all had me FLOORED by the response! All in all, I taught 16 workshops – in various cities across the US & Canada. Nearly all my workshops sold out, and some had to add on a second date to keep up with student demand. I really, really love teaching these workshops, too! Over the course of the year, I have really tweaked and perfected how I run my classes, and they really just get better with each new one I lead. For 2019, I am keeping up with a similar schedule with an emphasis on more West Coast classes – about 3/4 of next year is already listed, so take a look at my upcoming classes if you are interested in attending one!

It’s still a bit shocking to me that this is what I do to earn my living and pay my bills. It is something I never ever take for granted, something I am thankful for every single day. I cannot thank you guys enough for your endless support – whether you’ve taken a class with me, joined a meet-up, or just encouraged me in some way across the internet. This community is so amazing and I am thankful for every single wonderful person who is part of it!

Anyway, I want to talk about some of my sewing hits and misses of 2018! There are sooo many things I made this year that didn’t get blogged (sorry!), but I made an effort to post at least a small shot of it on Instagram so I could count up a talley at the end of the year (which I believe I only missed maybe 3 things, so, not too bad!). You can view the entire hashtag #lladybird2018 here on Instagram. And, of course, to see the stuff that did make it on my blog, you can always Lurk My Closet!

Without further ado, my top makes of 2018:

Ginger Jeans made with Robert Kaufman Denim
Ginger Jeans + Hemlock Tee

I think this outfit should win the prize for being worn the most! These are the jeans I made to promote my jeans workshops for this year (using the same Robert Kaufman Super Stretch denim that my samples are made with) and they are probably my favorite part of jeans I’ve made to date! The stretch denim is incredibly comfortable, which makes them ideal for traveling. This denim holds its shape well between washings, which again is wonderful when you are living out of a suitcase. I wore that hemlock tee almost as much throughout the year – again, it’s great for traveling! You’re basically looking at my unofficial flight outfit for nearly every trip I took this year 🙂

Sewaholic Fraser Sweatshirt made with stretch fleece from Mood Fabrics
Fleecy Fraser Sweatshirt

No lie, I’m kind of surprised this shirt only came of age this last year! I have worn it to DEATH, like, I think people are sick of seeing me in it haha. I love that this shirt is reasonably basic/plain without being boring, and the color is one I’ve really been digging a lot this year. It works equally well dressed up with jeans and a collared shirt, or to stay warm while lounging on the couch in my PJs.

Linen Kalle Shirt
Cropped Linen Kalle Shirt

This shirt was a lot of fun to wear during the summer! I love the oversized, boxy shape combined with the rumply linen, and while white isn’t necessarily a color that I gravitate to very often – I sure did when it came to this shirt!

AMH Popover Tank
Popover Tank + Navy Lander Pants

As much as I love those Robert Kaufman Ginger jeans that I mentioned earlier, I’m not so keen on wearing them when it is crazy hot outside. These navy tencel Lander pants were the perfect sub for keeping my legs covered while not making me sweat to death. Again, this was an outfit I wore a LOT while traveling. And I’m so happy I finally found a good pattern to use with my treasured fabric from Egypt!

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress
Tropical Seren Dress

Y’all. I wore this dress to SO MANY fancy dinners, cocktail hours, first dates, art crawls, and sometimes even when I just needed a little pick-me-up on an otherwise boring/shitty day. It’s an attention-grabbing dress that is easy and comfortable to wear, looks pulled together, and goes with most of the shoes in my closet (this is important).

Niizo Be Strong Backpack
Be Strong Backpack

Ok, so this is a more recent make that I’ve only been able to use for a couple of months – but it has been SUPER useful! I’ve all but retired my old backpack in favor of this new one. The slightly smaller size has been perfect for my needs (without giving me an option to overpack) and I really love the way it looks.

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric
Alexander McQueen Quart Coat

I know I just posted this so I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum. But! I love this coat! I feel so pretty and pulled together when I’m wearing it, it’s super warm, and it gets me more compliments than anything else I made this year. I am of course proud of the construction and how it turned out, but I also really love it because it reminds me of my friend Anokhee, who gave me the amazing fabric!

And now for some favorites that didn’t make it to the blog:

ariana dress
Ariana dress

I made this with rayon from the OG Workroom Social line, and it certainly saw a lot of wear this year! I actually hated the dress until it was finished – sewing it was basically one huge mistake/problem after another – and I was really unsure how it would look on me until I had sewed the buttons on. But it love it now, so all is well!

rayon hudson pants
Rayon Hudson Pants
These were really fun to sew, used up some of the cool fabric I bought in Egypt, and are great for warding off an a/c chill in the summer.

ginger jorts
Ginger Jorts
After years of complaining that I needed some new denim shorts, I finally made a pair hahaha

burberry scarf
Burberry Scarf Blanket
Probably the simplest thing I made this year, but I LOVE THIS SCARF. It’s basically a fashionable blanket, which is perfect for someone like me who is always cold.

yay!
Dolce & Gabbana party dress
More on this in a future blog post!! But, to brief – this may be my favorite fabric ever (a matelasse from Dolce & Gabbana), and I’m so delighted how the dress turned out! I made it to wear to a good friend’s wedding.

hudson joggers
Grey Knit Hudsons
Another pair of Hudsons haha, this time specifically for the cold. This is an incredibly boring thing to write about, but I wear them as frequently as I think I can get away with and am legitimately sad when they have to go in the wash. After years of being a die-hard PJ Set kinda gal, I’m definitely veering in a new direction when it comes to loungewear.

Misses for 2018:
Surf to Summit Top made with Mood Fabrics
Workout Tank + Shirt

Despite my best intentions, these pieces just did not turn out the way I had hoped – I think due to fabric choice. I never wore them and ended up donating both of the tops. The yoga pants, however, are FABULOUS and I wear them often! So there is that!

French Terry Stella Hoodie Dress
Stella Hoodie Dress

I don’t know! I think this dress is so cute but I really only wore it once! It is really short, and makes me feel a bit exposed (and while the leggings + sneakers is cute, I don’t feel like it’s my “look” and it feels weird to wear). I may cut this into a top and see if it gets more mileage that way.

Organic Twill Jenny Overalls
Jenny Overall Shorts

Despite a hoard of people reassuring me that I should wear these forever and another hoard of people trying to tell me how to fix them so I would, I really just don’t like these at all. The waist is tight, and I just don’t like the way I look in overalls. And even though they are shorts, they are too hot to wear in the summer! I may try a pair with full length legs in the future, but these are not my jam.

popover tank
Watermelon popover tank
Looks super cute, but I absolutely hated this fabric. It’s a super tight weave with no give, which is vaguely uncomfortable to wear and also incredibly unflattering. Big ol’ no on this one.

denim skirt
Snap front denim skirt
I started with a pattern that had a different fit than what I ultimately wanted (the waist was lower than I realized), and I overfit this so much it doesn’t really sit right on me. Also, front snaps really are not ideal for a skirt. I have had many wardrobe malfunctions with this one haha. All it takes is one tiiiiiny snag and it’s WHY HELLO UNDERWEAR lol

There is so, so, SO much more I could say about all my makes this year, but these were the really major hits and misses! Honestly, I love most of what I made (it was hard to narrow down my list to what I’ve shown here – which is still admittedly a lot!) which is a pretty great feeling! I feel like I’m finally coming to terms with my style and the colors I like to wear – which means there are less pieces that go unloved. Really zeroing in on WHY I don’t like a certain garment (color, shape, fabric, etc) has helped me avoid making that mistake again in the future.

IMG_6671

Other notable things to happen this year:

  • As I mentioned – I led a lot of workshops this year! Starting in Nashville, and then traveling to Brooklyn NY, Durham NC, Alexandria VA, Ottawa Canada, New York City, North Hampton NH, Biddeford MA, Claryville NY, Berkeley CA, and Paducah KY! WHEW!
  • While most of my workshops are held in sewing shops or studios, there were 2 that ended up in very different environments! The first one was in Durham, where I taught an Archer Shirt workshop at Spoonflower Headquarters (and that is where the above photo was taken. No one told me the print I chose was also the wallpaper in the Greenroom haha). Then in July, I went to NYC to teach a Jeans Workshop at Google! Yes, THAT Google and yes you better believe I brag about that shit all the time BECAUSE IT’S RAD AS HELL.
  • In addition, I was lucky to have a few opportunities to take day / weekend trips to some of the cities near where I was teaching. I spent some time in Washington DC, Baltimore MD, Montreal Canada, Hartford CT, Boston MA, and Long Island NY (just this past week with my mom, for Christmas!). I really wanted to take a *real* vacation somewhere outside of the US, but by the time I had planned my class calendar there wasn’t time left to leave the country! Oh well, maybe next year haha
  • Oh, and I finally led my first intensive at Camp Workroom Social! For the past couple of years, I’ve worked as an assistant to Amy in the Bra Making class, which is always so much fun – but this year, I was offered my own class teaching jeans! I had 14 students (!!!), two amazing assistants (Kelli & Gabriela), and overall it was an incredible experience. I can’t wait to come back next year for another class!
  • Because of all this traveling, I’m happy to announce that I am officially Silver status with Delta Airlines. ha! I know that’s like the tiniest shitty baby status to have (so many of my friends are Gold, Platinum, or even Diamond) but Y’ALL let me have this moment, ok. I’ve never earned airline status before haha.
  • I took a class with Gertie when she was here in Nashville! Gertie’s original Blog for Better Sewing was the first sewing blog I really fell in love with, and after years of following her from across the internet like a damn creeper, I was really excited that we were hosting her for a workshop at Craft South! We ended up with an empty seat in the class, which I took advantage of (#workperks). It was so interesting to be in a class from a student’s perspective, and she is truly a wonderful teacher and just an amazing person in general. Not to mention, she really does look like a porcelain doll in real life. It would be maddening if she wasn’t such a nice person haha.
  • My side work as a professional seamstress for photoshoots/private clients (mainly celebrities and/or modeling agencies) picked up a bit this year, too! I had a few big shoots and some really cool clients, and a few of the pieces I worked on ended up on the red carpet for some of the award ceremonies that happen here in Nashville – the CMAs, Sesac, and the BMI awards. I can also officially say that 2018 was the year I got to touch a celebrity’s butt.
  • I was pretty excited to be featured on the Love to Sew podcast earlier this year! I had sooo much fun chatting with Helen & Caroline and I think you can tell by the length of the episode – it’s one of their longer ones! (what can I say – once you get me talking, I never shut up lol). Here is my episode if you want to listen to it.
  • I paid off my car this year! After 2.5 years of payments, that felt pretty good! Next up – I want to buy a house! I got pre-approved for a mortgage and now i’m currently shopping around 🙂

In my personal life, it has been a difficult year. I’m still grappling with all the shit that comes when you lose a loved one, and I’ve also had to deal with loss in other ways this year – loss of friendships, people moving away, and also a pretty devastating breakup that knocked me flat on my ass when I was least expecting it. For me, this year has been all about growth, patience, letting go of things I can’t control, and taking control of the things that I have power over. I still have a lot to work through and a lot of ways in which I can grow, but things get a little bit better every day.

Anyway, I don’t want to end this on a sad note, so here’s a photo of Amelia sitting like an absolute lady next to my sewing machines.

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Happy New Year, everyone! Here is to a bright and beautiful 2019!

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Completed: The Quart Coat, in Alexander McQueen Fabric

14 Dec

Well y’all. This post has been a LONG time coming – hopefully it was worth the wait!

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

I made a coat! Big whoop, amirite? It’s been a minute since I sewed a real coat – I just don’t live in a climate that warrants a serious need for multiple coats. Which is a bummer because I really LOVE sewing me some coats! And I actually sewed two this year – but I just want to talk about this one first. Like I said, it has been a long time in the making!

I received this fabric way back in May of 2016, actually! It took me a solid year to decide what I wanted to make with it, then nearly another year to actually start the project. And while I finished this earlier in 2018 (in February, it appears) – it has taken me this long to get some photographs of it! So yeah, this might be my longest project to date!

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

So – a little bit about the fabric! This fabric is actually Alexander McQueen coating from a prior collection. It is 100% wool, solid black, and has laser printed skulls all over that you really only see in certain lighting. I wasn’t able to find what this fabric was used for in AM’s collections, but it’s essentially a medium weight (on the lighter side of medium weight, to be specific) coating. It’s super, super amazing.

The coating was actually given to me – you know, back in 2016 – courtesy of my friend Anokhee. She originally bought it from Darrell Thomas Textiles in Ottawa, Canada (where she also teaches!). If you are thinking “wow Lauren that’s a really fucking generous gift” YOU WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. I was floored when I received the fabric, and am honestly still a bit dazzled every time I wear my coat. I didn’t really know Anokhee that well when she sent me the fabric – we were email/internet buddies, seeing as she lives in Canada and I’m in Nashville – but this year, I actually got to hang out with her several times when I was in Canada to teach my Jeans Workshops at Darrell Thomas Textiles! I’ve even sat in her hot tub, so, basically, yes she’s an amazing friend.

And speaking of Darrell Thomas Textiles – if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen this name pop up a few times. Darrell’s shop gets some of the BEST high-end designer fabric I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been really lucky to be the recipient of a few special pieces, as well as be able to shop there in person! In addition to this McQueen fabric, I’ve gotten some amazing Dolce & Gabbana prints (stay tuned for a blog post on one of them!), as well as pieces from Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and other gorgeous pieces that aren’t necessarily attributed to a specific designer but are still stunning as hell. While these pieces definitely, absolutely are not cheap – they are unique, special, and high-quality. I realize this post just sounds like a giant advertisement, so I’m gonna stop now, but – just wow. Check out his Instagram if you want some eye-candy to creep on.

Ok, back to my coat!

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

So, yes, I hemmed and hawed when it came to cutting this fabric! First, I couldn’t decide on a pattern. Then, I went through a lot of second-guessing with the fit, post-muslin. Once I powered through and cut all the (many, many) pieces, the actual construction of this garment went pretty quickly (according to my Instagram – it took about two weeks!). I don’t generally second-guess myself and I rarely treat my fabric like it is some kind of precious gold, but in this case, I am glad I took my time to figure out exactly what I wanted because the finished coat is basically perfect as far as I’m concerned!

The pattern I chose is the Quart Coat from Pauline Alice Patterns. I love the military look of this style, and I felt it would pair well with my McQueen fabric. Especially since my fabric can look either solid black or covered in skulls, depending on the light!

I cut a 36, and my preliminary muslin looked preeetty good except that there were some light pulls near the bust, which is usually indicative of needing a full bust adjustment. For the life of me, I could NOT find a way to add room at the bust with these particular pattern pieces! The princess seams come out of the arm hole, not over the bust, and every tutorial I found (or reference in my dozens of fit books) only covered the latter. And half of them wanted to add a dart – which I didn’t want in my coat. I tried several different things and agonized for months. I knew this fabric was expensive, hard to come by, and I wanted to do it right! But you know what? I ultimately decided, fuck it, and went ahead and cut the coat. Part of this was because the drag lines were indeed really subtle – super minor. The other part was me realizing that muslin doesn’t have the same “give” that regular garment fabrics do, and there was a good chance those minor fitting issues would be resolved by simply using a different fabric. I’m not always right, but I was right in this case. The wrinkles disappeared, the coat looks fabulous, and life goes on.

After getting past that and cutting aaaaalll those pieces, I was ready to sew! I actually started a little log to keep track of how long my progress was taking. JUST THE PREP ALONE (cutting, marking, underlining, etc) took 8.5 hours! I stopped keeping track after that (ha!) but I always tell this to people when they suggest I do some custom sewing for them. Bitch, u can’t afford me.

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Since the coating is on the lighter weight side, I opted to underline all my pieces with a cotton flannel. This adds a layer of support (necessary as this is a quite structured coat) as well as additional warmth. I used a Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel for this purpose; I had purchased it with the intention of another project that I ended up scrapping. If you’re curious, this is the specific flannel I used inside my coat haha. While I find Mammoth Flannel to be really reasonably priced (and it is SO NICE!), it is a bit expensive to use as underlining. That said, I already had the fabric so I didn’t see any point in buying something else, even if it did cost less.

Underlining definitely took the longest. I like to underline by hand, which means a looong time of sitting at my cutting table, with endless hand-basting. I use cotton thread (silk is nice too, but cotton is what I had on hand!) and create long basting stitches, which are then removed as the pieces are sewn together. After the pieces are sewn by machine, I trimmed all the flannel from the seam allowances and then catchstitched the seam allowances down (again, by hand) to keep them nice and flat. It’s a lot of extra effort, but this fabric deserves that effort!

The lining is a solid black silk charmeuse, which I bought at Mood Fabrics on one of my many trips to NYC. I love, love LOVE using silk charmeuse for coat linings – it’s heavy and warm, and it looks expensive as hell. Just the way silk charmeuse catches the light when you wave it around delights me to no end. Why I chose black – well, I had considered using a fun lining color, like red or teal. But while shopping, nothing at the store really appealed to me. I also feel like most RTW (not all, but a lot of them) use coordinating and matching linings, rather than contrast. I wanted my coat to look like it could have come from the shop, and also, black on black just looks good.

Since my coat was all black, that gave me a little freedom to choose something more contrasting for the buttons and sleeve zippers – so I went with BRIGHT SHINY GOLD!!! I just love how this turned out, I think it really adds a luxurious touch that isn’t over-the-top. My buttons are from Mood Fabrics (they are actually Marc Jacobs hahahaah!), and my zippers are from Sil Thread (in the NYC Garment District). I spent a long time trying to find hardware that had the same tone and brightness, so they match well.

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

A few things about the construction – one, I definitely put the pleats in backwards. Whoops! It doesn’t bother me, but, if you noticed that – yes, I am aware. I did not do any traditional/heavy tailoring with this garment. Part of this is because I just wanted to finish the damn thing – and part of it is because I’ve learned I don’t really like wearing heavily tailored coats. I dunno, they just feel a little too precious to me, and I’m scared I’ll mess them up somehow! Also, my padstitching always ends up going wonky if the coat gets stored with the lapels in the wrong place, and I can’t ever seem to steam them back into submission. So while this coat has some basic tailoring – the fronts are interfaced (with a fusible weft, before I added the underlining), there is a back stay, and I added both shoulder pads and sleeve heads – I left off the fancy stuff like horsehair, padstitching, and bound button holes (just machine ones here!). Sacrilegious? Sure. Whatever you say.

I don’t know what else to say about this project, so just have a photo dump:

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Oh! Here’s another piece from Darrell Thomas Textiles – one of my precious Burberry wools! I actually have two of these (the other one is the classic tan, which I believe they just got a new shipment in at the shop), both of which I made into simple blanket scarves. I started with a yard of fabric, which I cut in half lengthwise and then seamed together (with a flat-felled seam) to create a rectangle that is 28″ wide by 70″ long. I then hemmed the two long sides with a 1/2″ seam folded twice and edgestitched down. On the tan scarf, I also hemmed the short ends – and on this one, I teased out a little fringe! I have always wanted one of these Burberry scarves – and while the fabric was not cheap (I don’t remember the exact amount, I think it’s somewhere in the realm of $150-$170 CAD per yard), it is definitely cheaper than buying from Burberry! And it’s basically a giant blanket, which is the best thing ever 🙂

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

So, there’s the long story saga of my Alexander McQueen coat! Cheers to you if you’re still here reading 🙂 Big thanks to Anokhee for her incredibly generous gifts – both the fabric and for introducing me to the wonder that is Darrell Thomas Textiles! Another giant thanks to my student Elisa, who graciously took these photos for me during my workshop at Stitch Sew Shop earlier this month! In closing, I will leave you with this beautiful cheese plate that we destroyed immediately after:

and a cheese plate <3

Have a great day, everyone!

Completed: Pinnacle Sweatshirt

11 Dec

Have y’all seen the new Geo Collection from Papercut Patterns? It’s no big secret that I am a DIEHARD Papercut Fangirl, but this recent collection really blew me away more than usual (which is saying a lot!). I love everything that was released and have many plans!

To start, I wanted to try out the Pinnacle Top. I find this pattern really interesting as it can be made with either a woven or a knit, which really changes the finished look! I love the geometric design on the front, and the pattern itself has some crazy looking pieces that come together in a very origami-like fashion. Pretty standard of Papercut Patterns, which is part of what I find so appealing about them!

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

I really want to try the v-neck version of this pattern, in a soft linen or even a drapey silk – but for this time of year, the sweatshirt is king. I love that I can sew my own sweatshirts, which gives me the ability to add cool design features or use fancy fabrics. Nothing like the basic stuff I wore when I was a kid! And this pattern looked like it would be fun to put together, and I assumed correctly.

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

I had this super soft bamboo French Terry in my stash that I purchased from Mood Fabrics earlier this year… it comes in a load of amazing colors, and while I WANTED to stick with my TNT black/grey colorways, I went a little wild and ended up with 2 yards of Moroccan Blue. Almost more like a teal, this is a very deep, rich blue. I love it and I’m happy to report it’s seamlessly worked its way into coordinating with *most* of my wardrobe (unlike some colors that I try out and then realize I have nothing to wear them with!).

The fabric itself is amazing. Like I said, it is super soft on both sides, thanks to the bamboo. The terry loops are very fine and small, which means the fabric isn’t bulky – but it is dense and heavy. It also has a great amount of 4 way stretch, which makes me think this would be an ideal fabric for lounge pants (leggings, joggers, whatever keeps ya warm on the couch). At $20/yard, it certainly is not cheap – but it’s super fucking wide (I still have quite a bit left from my 2 yard cut after making this sweatshirt) and it washes and wears great. The only downside I have noticed is that it does wrinkle when you store it folded in the drawer – which is easily solved by tossing it in the dryer for a few minutes before wearing (and bonus, it’s like PUTTING ON A HUG! omg you guys why I am I so alone). Traveling or don’t have a dryer? Laying it out flat in the bathroom while taking a hot shower also does the trick!

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

I’m sorry, I don’t know how I ended up with so many of what is basically the same picture. It’s either feast or famine when it comes to me and my camera, deal with it.

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

So, the pattern piece for this shirt is really interesting! It’s GIGANTIC (which means you really do need to pay attention to the fabric requirements), and goes together in a way that makes a shirt with no shoulder seams. The pieces are assembled with center front seams (in the form of this cool-ass triangle) and a center back seam, then closed with side seams (which gives you the chance to tweak the fit a little if needed). I made mine with one piece of fabric, although the geometric design on the front would lend itself well to colorblocking. For a little added interest, I used the wrong side out on the top triangle of my shirt, so you can see the texture of the French terry there, but the shirt in general is pretty monochromatic otherwise.

I sewed a size XS based on my measurements, which gives a nice, roomy fit. For future makes, I may side down to the XXS as I feel like I’m swimming a little in this version.

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Construction-wise, not much to report here. I sewed this almost entirely my serger, which made this a really fast and efficient make. My one tip is to be careful with where the seams intersect at the center front, and baste them in place (either by machine or by hand) before sewing them for real. The seamlines matching are pretty essential to this shirt looking good, and if you baste them first, you can rip them out if they don’t match up!

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

I’ve been wearing this sweatshirt a lot since I finished it – it’s perfect for staying cozy around the house, but also looks pulled-together if I need to step out or have an unexpected delivery. Secret pajamas are always a go in my world!

*Note: The fabrics used in this post were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. All opinions are my own!

Completed: Niizo Be Strong Backpack

30 Nov

I made another backpack! While my original Freedom backpack from Niizo has been holding strong (and been schlepped across the US many times over the past 2 years), a couple months ago I was offered the opportunity to try the newly updated Be Strong backpack pattern from Niizo. While I don’t necessarily need a new backpack (what is a “need,” anyway, amirite), I was looking forward to the chance to sew one up! Niizo patterns – as well as the kits – are some of my favorite satisfying projects to work on.

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

I also, in all honesty, have been yearning for this specific pattern since I first discovered Niizo a couple of years ago. The patten was only available as a PDF with no included kit, and I wanted the kit… so I stuck with the Freedom backpack. But now the Be Strong backpack has been updated with some new features, and comes with a kit option. Yeah! And let me tell you – it is as good as I was expecting it to be!

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

The Be Strong backpack is a bit similar to the popular Herschel backpack – with a large zippered opening (no flap) and a 3-D zippered pocket on the front. The backpack features padding in the back and the straps, adjustable straps, a few interior pockets and exterior pockets, and a leather-wrapped handle. It also has a cool hidden pocket on the side that can be used to hold small items that you need to reach quickly – such as your phone, wallet, passport, etc (I don’t think this pocket is exactly pickpocket-proof, as it’s pretty visible, so obviously use some common sense if you are traveling somewhere that this could be an issue. But for schlepping around the airport and not wanting to dig through a huge bag to find your cash, this thing is AWESOME).

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Of course, you can buy the pattern solo and use your own fabrics, but I wanted one of those sweet kits! I chose the kit with the waxed canvas, in the khaki colorway. The lining is waterproof nylon fabric, and the contrast is a basic cotton. The kit also includes all the zippers (with leather pulls!), leather pieces (with the holes pre-punched, as well as waxed thread for sewing them), nylon strapping and adjustable sliders, and foam. Basically, all you need to supply is the thread and sewing machine.

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

I wasn’t sure what waxed canvas would be like to work with, but this stuff was really nice! The biggest thing I noticed was that it finger-pressed with absolutely NO effort – I didn’t need to use my iron at all! And while it does have a good amount of body (the backpack is completely empty in these photos, fyi), it isn’t hard to wrangle around and manipulate under the sewing machine. Although, there were a couple of points when I was literally sweating while I was sewing it haha. For the most part, it was fairly straightforward and super relaxing to make up. I found it easier to sew than the Freedom backpack – primarily because you don’t have to pull the entire backpack through a small hole in the lining (which can get difficult with all those layers + foam). Instead, you assemble + line the front and back, and then connect them. That connecting seam is then covered with a cotton binding. It looks REALLY nice and makes sewing the backpack soooo much easier!

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

I did encounter one big problem when I sewed this – I actually finished the entire thing (including hand-stitching the binding for a really clean and flawless finish), went to put it on… and realized I’d attached the zippered panel in backwards. Which meant the bulk of the backpack went toward the back of the pack, not the front. I don’t know how i managed to mess that up, but after a few minutes of thinking about what I was going to do, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to be happy with a half-assed backpack. I knew I’d never use it. So… I ripped the pieces apart and re-did the backpack. It added an extra day to this project, but I’m so glad I fixed it!

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

The backpack is slightly smaller than the Freedom backpack, but still big enough to carry my laptop (a 13″ MacBook Pro), along with my ipad, Kindle and Field Bag full of whatever I’m knitting. I prefer a smaller backpack as it means I’m not tempted to overpack, which can get quite heavy! This one has been the perfect size for the last 2 trips I’ve brought it on. I especially like that it holds its shape when it’s less full, which makes it good for a daypack to carry while exploring around a city.

Oh, and in case you were wondering – the “Nope” patch is from Mood Fabrics!

And, because I’m a spoiled brat… I also got a kit to make the Fortune Wallet:

Niizo Fortune Wallet

I’ll spare you another 20 photos and direct you to this Instagram post, where you can see lots of sexy close-ups (or just stay here and admire how beautiful this wallet looks when taken in Portrait Mode haha).

The kit I chose was the royal blue colorway, and again, it included everything I needed to sew the wallet. This was a SUPER easy project that I finished in the course of a couple of days, to warm myself up for the backpack. Not really much to report here – everything came together perfectly and now I have an adorable wristlet that I can carry when I just need my wallet/phone and am lacking pockets.

My biggest advice for making one of these patterns (whether you buy just the PDF or order the kit – but – you should order the kit! They are really nice!!) is to TAKE YOUR TIME. Don’t try to rush the project – go slow, take accurate measurements and rip out stitching when you fuck something up. The #1 reason why these look so good is because I didn’t cut corners at any point in the construction. My other smaller tip is to try using a e-reader or your computer for the instructions, rather than print them out. I use my iPad – this was originally to save on paper, but I found that I can zoom in on the photos if a particular step is confusing. Can’t do that on a printed sheet of paper! (or can you? Are we in the Matrix yet?)

Niizo Be Strong BackpackLast thing! Niizo is currently offering a discount on all items in their Etsy shop! Yay!

🍎Dec 1st −13th 10% off on all items in the niizo Etsy shop

🍎Find out the coupon code in the maze. It is valid from Dec 1st − 7th, 15% off (when you spend over US$15)

To get the secret coupon code, you must solve this maze. Need more clues? Visit these websites for the other pieces of the map:

☞ https://lladybird.com/

☞ https://www.instagram.com/trine.schroeder

☞ http://bymyhand.net/

Completed: Professor Meow Sweater

31 Oct

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to knit an official cat lady sweater, but, here we are.

Professor Meow sweater

The sweater in question was actually knit much earlier this year – I finished it way back in April – but barely had time to wear it, let alone photograph it, before the weather warmed up too much. I’ve really enjoyed rotating it back into my regular wardrobe now that the temperatures have cooled down a bit, so here it is! Never too late for a blog post!

Professor Meow sweater

Also, if my surroundings look different – well, they are! I’m currently on the other side of the US, a little more than halfway through my 10 day stint in Berkeley, CA while I teach some workshops at Hello Stitch! This adorable AirBNB is probably the cutest place I’ve ever “lived” (other than my own house, OBVIOUSLY) and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take some photos while I’m here!

Professor Meow sweater

Professor Meow sweater

Professor Meow sweater

Professor Meow sweater

So what is this magical garment of Peak Cat Lady, you ask? The pattern is Professor Meow from KnitPicks. I found this pattern entirely by chance – I wasn’t necessarily looking to make a cat sweater (although, clearly, I think I should have been), but once I saw it I knew that was going to be my next project. I stuck with the suggested yarn, Knit Picks Wonderfluff, which really is pretty wonderful and fluffy. I don’t typically knit with acrylic blends, but this one has some additional alpaca and merino which makes it super soft with a nice fuzzy halo. Since it’s a bulky yarn, it knits up really quickly. A quick swatch had me go down a needle size to a #10 , which is typical for me.

The sweater is knit flat in 2 pieces, with the cat design achieved by some basic intarsia. This actually isn’t my first intarsia project – I have another sweater that I finished right before this one that that I’ve yet to actually photograph/share (in my defense… it’s even warmer than this one, so the weather hasn’t really cooperated YET haha) – but it was good for practice! After the front and back are knit, the pieces are seamed, then the little sleeve ribbing is knit in the round, as well as the neckline. I did change how the neckline was knit, as I didn’t like the way it was written in the pattern (a basic ribbing with a bind off at the end). Since knitting my last couple of sweaters, I’ve really come to love and appreciate a nice knit neckband that is folded over with the live stitches secured down, like with my Martine Sweater. So that’s what I did with this one, and I think it looks much nicer. I *generally* try to follow knitting instructions as they are written, but sometimes a girl’s gotta go her own way!

Professor Meow sweater<

Professor Meow sweater

After blocking the sweater (which, even if you normally skip blocking I do HIGHLY recommend blocking this yarn, as it really softens and relaxes with a good block!), I used yarn to stitch the whiskers on as directed by the pattern. I left off the kitty pupils because I like the way the cat looks without them.

Hmmm what else? I knit a size 37, so that the sweater would have a little bit of relaxed ease but not be quite as loose as it is on the pattern images. I went boring with the yarn colorway and just got grey on grey, which OF COURSE goes with everything in my closet so I’m pretty pleased with that. Full Ravelry notes are here!Professor Meow sweater

I always love the sweaters that I knit, but this one may be my favorite! It’s pretty silly and quirky, but not so much that I feel ridiculous wearing it in public. Despite being short sleeved, it is quite warm, and the yarn is super soft and fuzzy. It’s definitely pretty attention-getting, and in all honesty I typically prefer to wear this bad boy on first dates. What is it they say – if you can’t handle me in my cat sweater… ? I don’t know.

As a side note – my jeans in this photo deserve a shout out! These are, of course, jeans made by me. But wait, there’s more! These are my ORIGINAL Ginger jeans, the first pair I ever made! I can’t believe they still fit (I’ve gained weight since I made them, but I guess the fabric has stretched along with me, ha!); they’ve been going strong since 2014! If you look closely at the butt, you can see where I have patched them a few times – the fabric is getting thin, and there was one unfortunate incident where I actually tore a hole in the butt immediately at the end of a jeans workshop (hm good thing I had access to a sewing machine to patch it, yet?), but amazingly they are still holding up! Yeah for handmade jeans!

Completed: Denim CentaurĂ©e Dress

25 Oct

Good morning, everyone! I am writing this from my local airport lounge, waiting for my flight this morning to San Francisco! Figured I’d take advantage of the downtime (and free WiFi!) and see if I could throw together a little post! I feel like a big part of the reason why I stopped posting as much was because there is so much EFFORT that goes into it – I have this weird need for them to be long and therefore “worth it,” (and a long post takes a really long time to write!) but really, short posts are better than no posts… right? I don’t want to let my blog die!

Another reason why I post less is because I really seem to have hit a hard rut with photos. I just really hate taking them, I feel like they always look shitty and I honestly don’t know how to improve them (one would think that standing in the same spot where I take my dressform photos would work, but nope, sadly not the case). I snapped these very quickly using the self-timer on my phone, right before I took a walk down the block to my local cookie shop (oh yeah). The lighting isn’t great and I have my shades on, but… whatever. It’ll do!

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Anyway – the dress! I made this little denim sundress a few months ago, one last dress hurrah for summer. The pattern is the Deer & Doe CentaurĂ©e dress, which I loved when was first released – it’s a great little basic sundress with some fun details that make it a little more interesting. The bodice shaping is created with interesting seamlines that form a star (y’all know how I feel about a good star), and the edges are finished with a self bias binding that turns into double straps (a super cute detail IMHO but definitely requires no bra or a strapless bra to get the full effect – fwiw, I am bra-less in these photos). The skirt is a simple gathered skirt – no pockets, but I was able to easily add some simple patch pockets.

I cut a size 36 at the bust, grading out to a 38 at the waist and hip. No other alterations were necessary, which is good because I totally threw caution to the wind and make this up without first sewing a muslin o_O haha! Like I mentioned, I did add patch pockets – simple squares (I think I took the pattern piece off my Ariana Dress but they can easily be drafted if you don’t have a pattern to steal from), to bring a little more interest down to an otherwise plain skirt and to also incorporate more topstitching. Everything else about this dress is exactly as the pattern intended!

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

My fabric is a lightweight denim from Mood Fabrics. I found this in the store while I was in NYC – I was actually looking for bottomweight to make a pair of jeans with, but this was too good to pass up. It’s a fine, lightweight Japanese denim that is very narrow (like less than 45″). This denim on the Mood Fabrics website appears to be very similar, although it’s a little wider. I originally purchased this with the intention of making a shirtdress – I specifically had a Colette Hawthorn dress in mind, to replace my beloved denim Hawthorn that no longer fits – but decided to try something a little different than my norm SINCE I MAKE SO MANY DAMN SHIRTS.

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Sewing this fabric was super easy, as most denims are! I used two sewing machines to construct this – one threaded with regular polyester thread, and the second threaded with topstitching thread (you can totally do this one with machine if you don’t mind re-threading over and over!). I chose to highlight all those interesting seamlines with gold topstitching thread, which makes it look more like a pair of jeans, just reincarnated as a dress. All seams are finished with my serger (the multitude of intersecting seamlines on the bodice + the gathered skirt would have made it difficult to flat fell, plus, I wanted the option to be able to let out or take in areas since, again, I did not make a mock-up), and I used self-binding to finish the edges of the bodice as instructed by the pattern.

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

The dress closes with an invisible zipper on the side seam. Here’s a fun fact – the only zipper I had in my stash was off-white, and I didn’t feel like going to the shop to grab another one in the right color (another fun fact – I live 3 blocks from one fabric store, and less than a mile from a much bigger one so I absolutely have no valid excuse, #teamlazy)
 so there is a off-white invisible zipper in this dress. You’d never guess it unless you see the zipper pull, which is located under my armpit, and I take a lot of pride in this. Not to toot my own horn, but hell yea my invisible zipper game is strong. You can’t even see that shit.

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

The skirt is finished with a wide hem – I wanted mine shorter than the pattern is drafted for, and I like the way the wide hem looks with the topstitching + pockets. Plus, it will be easy to let the hem out if I decide I want a longer skirt in the future (whether or not that will actually ever happen is up for debate, but at least I have options now!).

As a side note, the patch pockets on this dress are perfectly sized to hold a Christie Cookie
 speaking from experience here. And! After I finished taking this photos and took my walk, I ran into the sweetest little cat:

neighborhood cat

That’s all for this make! Admittedly, we are a little late in the season now for a sundress (Tennessee appears to have completely skipped fall and jumped straight into early winter
 wah!), but if I was a cooler person I could totally rock this with a white t-shirt underneath. Alas, my inner Cher Horowitz definitely won’t be making an appearance, but I do think this dress would look cool with a cropped sweater over it (like my Chuck!). So, sundress or not, this can definitely be a transitional garment!

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Anyway, I’m out! Berkeley, I will see you soon! For those of y’all in the area – Stone Mountain & Daughter Fabrics is hosting a meet-up tonight at 5:30PM. Full details are on my IG 🙂

** Note: The fabrics used in this post were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. All opinions, as always, are my own!

Completed: Seren Dress

9 Oct

I am not one to apologize for a lack of posting, but HOLY SHIT Y’ALL has it seriously been a month since my last post!? My poor little neglected blog 😩 I don’t even have a good excuse… I’ve been sitting on these photos since August haha.

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress
Look, a rare photo that does not involve the privacy of my own home / backyard! 🙂

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

This is the Seren Dress from Tilly & the Buttons, released earlier this summer. I loved this pattern the minute I saw it; I love that it’s a simple sundress with some fun details. While I personally don’t care for the ruffle version (again, not really a ruffle girl here), I was ALL ABOUT that little midriff slit! It’s hard to tell in the pattern photos, but this dress is actually one piece – not two. True story, I thought it was a two piece dress right up until I started sewing it haha. I think it would be easy to modify to be two pieces if that’s what you’d rather wear, but I had a lot of people comment that they’d never wear it because they don’t like to expose their midriff. As you can see in these photos, it certainly doesn’t expose very much!

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

Sewing this up, I made a size 2 which is based on my current measurements. I followed the instructions as written and made no adjustments to the sizing. Honestly I don’t remember much about making this dress, seeing as that I finished it back in JULY (sheesh), but I do recall it being really quick and satisfying to sew.

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

The fabric is a custom printed piece from Spoonflower, given to me by my favorite blue haired angel mermaid, Paula. Mine is printed on their fabulous lawn, which is sadly discontinued (sorry!). This might be one of my favorite fabrics I got this year – the colors are so happy, and I just love the print! I don’t typically wear pink, but I actually really like how it looks with the green. Like all lawns, this one was easy to work with and it also super easy to care for (wash & dry as normal with the rest of my clothes – no special treatment required). I do wash this dress pretty frequently and haven’t noticed any color fading.

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

Since finishing this dress, I’ve worn it a surprising amount – considering I don’t typically dress up, and it does feel a little dressy! This dress has taken me to the downtown Art Crawl, various parties and first dates, as well as to Canada and New Hampshire for nice dinners out! It’s easy to wear, but is also quite the statement dress. I’m happy I went a little out of my comfort zone with the fabric, because that’s definitely the best part!

Speaking of New Hampshire, that’s where these photos were taken! When I was up in Exeter back in August for my jeans workshop at Pintuck & Purl, Maggie took me out for a really nice dinner on the beach, and helped me get some photos right as the golden hour happened! It’s definitely a better backdrop than where I usually take my photos, ha! And in case anyone was wondering… I ordered the steak for my meal. I ALWAYS order the steak.

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

Unrelated to my dress, but we also got some photos of the white denim jacket I made (also earlier this year)!

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

This is the Hampton Jean Jacket, which I made after I finished my first jean jacket. It’s pretty similar to the first one, except I cropped about 4″ off the bottom, removed the inseam pockets (bc the jacket is now too short for them haha) and used a stretch denim for a little added comfort. All topstitching is white, so the gold buttons really pop! I have enjoyed wearing this over dresses and with skirts, the cropped length is perfect for anything with a high waistline.

Some photos of the dress:
Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

I guess that’s all for this project! I have enjoyed wearing this dress all summer, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to busting out my beloved jeans and handknit sweaters as the weather cool down! JK we all know it’ll stay hot here through the end of November, ha! 🙂

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress

Note: The Seren pattern was given to me by Tilly & the Buttons, with no obligation to post about it! And while my fabric was made by Spoonflower, it was given to me by my friend Paula!