Archive | completed projects – reconstructed RSS feed for this section


24 May

I know what you’re thinking: “Who TF alters a tote bag?” Honestly, a lot of people asked me this – my students, my coworkers, my friends, myself. But, dammit, sometimes I wanna do weird things just to see how it turns out. And in this case, it was making this LL Bean Nor’easter Tote Bag 1000x better than straight off the rack.

Here is a photo of the bag as grabbed from LL Bean’s website. It’s a fine bag, very well made. It works great as it is. But I wanted to make it better, so I did.

I bought my tote from the LL Bean Outlet Store in North Hampton, NH. Fun fact: It’s right down the street from Pintuck & Purl, and I make Maggie take me there every time I’m in town for a workshop LOL. This time, I was determined to get a tote bag! I have a vacation coming up in July and I wanted a big ol’ tote bag to strap to my carry-on suitcase. Another fun fact about the LL Bean Outlet – you can buy mis-embroidered tote bags for about 30% off the cost. Which is how I ended up with Essie Kate’s bag.

Thanks, Essie Kate! Love u!

Apparently it is very New England to leave the wrong name on your bag, which I briefly considered, but I just love seam ripping too much. Off it went!

I did also consider just leaving it as “i ate” but the spacing was just too weird. Bye Felicia! I mean, Essie!

Like I said, the bag is great as-is – it is very roomy, has a zipper across the top, and a nice hanging pocket bag that includes a zippered pocket and 2 gusseted pockets. I liked that it included a detachable crossbody strap, in addition to the handles. The fabric is sturdy and heavy, and waterproof (both on the base and the interior). It was pretty close to what I was looking for. But after carrying it through the airport for my trip home, I made note of a few updates that would make it even better:

  • An outside pocket on the front to stash my phone
  • An slip-through panel on the back so I could attach it to my suitcase
  • An interior pocket for my laptop so it doesn’t bounce around
  • Also, the entire bag was just a hair too big. It needed to be about 2″ shorter – the height was a bit cumbersome for using the shoulder strap, and honestly just looks disproportionally large next to me, in all my 5’2″ glory

And here it is post-alterations! Hooray!

Making these adjustments actually wasn’t very hard – other than trying to wrangle the bag under my sewing machine (I’m sure you can tell that it’s not my absolute neatest sewing ever – which I’m fine with!). It only took a couple of hours and I was able to use materials that I already had on hand, so my only investment was purchasing the bag itself.

The front pocket was made using waxed canvas – I had the tiniest piece, it was actually used to keep closed a roll of wax canvas that came in a Klumhouse Kit. I saved it because it was a nice color, and it looks so good with this bag! To attach the pocket, I just ripped off the straps and inserted the pocket edges, then sewed the straps back down. I debated whether to insert it in the bottom fabric seam as well, but there was so much finishing and topstitching that I decided to just topstitch it down right above that seam instead.

I’m actually pretty stinkin proud of that back slip-through panel – I added a zipper to the bottom (which was a neat idea I nabbed from one of my Briggs & Riley luggage pieces) so it can also function as a pocket when it’s not attached to my suitcase! The fabric is waxed canvas that I bought from the Crafty Gemini ages ago, and the zipper is from an old Niizo bag kit. The topstitching does look a bit sloppy at the bottom – again, I was sewing this on a fully formed (and quite rigid) bag, so I’m cutting myself some slack here. It’s fine.

Here is a poorly-lit photo of the interior laptop pocket (can you tell that I didn’t edit these photos at all?). I sized it to fit my laptop and used more of the navy waxed canvas. I did have to be mindful of when I was sewing on white vs navy, and change my bobbin thread accordingly. I originally did not add a closure, but I hate a floppy laptop pocket (you think you’re putting something in the bag and it goes in the pocket, UGH). I used leftover canvas from the bag’s outer, and folded it up to create a tab, which got sewn into the top binding. I added a snap – the tab was sturdy enough to accommodate the snap with no extra reinforcement, but my navy waxed canvas is pretty thin so I supported it with a leather washer (this also came from a Klumhouse kit, and is absolutely 100% where I got the idea from). I use an industrial snap setter so I had no problem getting a strong snap through those layers. I like this closure because it keeps the pocket closed when not in use, doesn’t show from the outside, and also doesn’t risk scratching my laptop.

This is unrelated to my project and not something I added to the bag – but I wanted to share the free hanging pocket, which is really nice! The zipper gusset folds over the open pockets when the bag is not zipped, so your stuff doesn’t fall out πŸ™‚ I thought that was pretty cool! PS sorry about all those threads that I need to snip!

Ok, I don’t have any photos of shortening the bag because that was a pretty straight forward process. The top is finished with a canvas binding, so I pulled that off with my seam ripper, which also removed the zipper gusset and the free hanging pocket. I also had to open the side seams a bit so I could lower the crossbody strap D rings, because they are close to the top and would get cut off. I removed 1.75″ from the top, moved down the D rings, put the gusset and pocket back in, and re-attached the binding. Like I said, the only hard part was wrangling it under then machine (which honestly felt like a walk in the PARK after sewing those pockets in haha).

I used my Janome HD9 machine, which is not an industrial but it can sew a pretty powerful stitch. I don’t know if a standard sewing machine could handle this, the layers got super thick especially when attaching the binding. I equipped with a size 18 needle and 30wt Gutterman thread – except the white topstitching, I actually didn’t have the right weight thread in that color so I doubled up 2 spools of 100wt! (this is a fun little tailoring trick I pull out of my hat when I have a rush jeans hem and don’t have the right thread color – or time to order. NO ONE can tell. Sometimes I even make my own ~custom colors~ by using two different spool colors lmao).

Aaaaaand that’s it! That’s the story how I altered a tote bag. I’m super duper happy with the changes – it’s a better size for me, and the extra pockets are highly useful. We shall see how well it fares on my international trip but in the meantime I’ll be bringing it with me to upcoming classes!

Speaking of upcoming classes – I’ve got a few more dates for my Alterations class scattered throughout the year (including one in October at Pintuck & Purl – you could walk to the LL Bean Outlet and nab yourself a discounted tote to attack!). I say this often, but I can’t say it enough – alterations does not *have* to be pants hems and boring shit. Basically anything that has been sewn can be altered. A big part of the fun of this class is bopping around ideas and changing things up in the most glorious and unconventional ways (although if you want to learn pants hems and other standard alterations – I can teach you that, too!). Read more about my alterations class here in this post, and check my upcoming dates here!

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜› 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?

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 β€œwrong” 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?

Updated: Sequin Cat Hoodie

13 Sep

Y’all remember that Stella Hoodie dress I made last year?

French Terry Stella Hoodie Dress

It was real cute for sure, but I think I literally wore it twice after completion. The fabric was a little too heavy to be comfortable as a summer garment (and I’m sorry, but a mini / sleeveless dress *is* a summer garment, fight me), and it was also real, real fucking short. Like, butt-cheeks-peeking-out-to-say-hello-whenever-I-lifted-my-arms short. And while I think it would make a good swimsuit cover-up, still, I’m gonna be real with y’all and point out that I go swimming about twice a year. There is no room in my life for a swimsuit cover-up.

So, overall, this garment was pretty useless. I thought it might work as a shirt, though, so I kept it around waiting on inspiration. After announcing the 2019 OAL, I went through my UFO drawer and decided to see if I could salvage the dress into something I might actually wear.

Sequin Cat Applique

Turns out all it needed was a little chop and some bling! And thank god I saved it, because this is seriously one of my favorite shirts now!

Sequin Cat Applique

Sequin Cat Applique

This was a really easy refashion. I removed the kangaroo pocket and tried on the dress to determine how long to make it, then cut about 2″ longer and used that as a hem allowance for a nice deep hem (I chose to make my hoodie cropped, as I’m really into the cropped shirt / high-waisted jeans look these days, but since the hem is so deep I can always un-crop it if I decide I want a longer shirt someday). I then stitched the hem with my coverstitch machine, same as the original dress hem. I was initially planning on sewing the pocket back on, so after hemming I tried the top on again to determine pocket placement, and that’s when this big ol’ blingy cat patch caught my eye…

Sequin Cat Applique

Isn’t this patch AMAZING?! I bought it at Hai Trim in NYC when I was there over Christmas. Honestly there are loads of cool patches in all the shops around the NYC Garment District, but I think Hai Trim has the best selection (and most are $12-$18, which I think is a pretty reasonable price). I bought it without any idea what I’d do with it, and have had it hanging on my wall in the months since. When I held it up to the shirt, I couldn’t stop smiling. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a perfect match.

Sequin Cat Applique

Sequin Cat Applique

I sewed it to shirt using Invisible thread, which is a thin nylon thread that kind of looks like a spiderweb. Usually when I do this sort of sewing, I just use regular sew-all thread – but I had recently read a Threads Magazine article that mentioned using clear thread to applique and I thought it sounded like a fun experiment to try. You load your bobbin with standard polyester thread, and use the clear thread in the top. Then you zigzag around all the edges, being careful to position the needle so that it lands inside and outside the edge of the applique with each zigzag. I would show you a close-up – but it’s literally invisible lol. So hopefully that makes sense! It is definitely more forgiving than using colorful thread, since you can’t see it at all – so if your zigzag strays off course at all, it can just be your secret.

However, the thread is really delicate and prone to breaking. I found that I got a better experience by loading my thread in a thread stand so that the thread comes from the top of the spool, instead of out the side (whenever I loaded sideways, it would eventually twist around the spool pin and break).

So far, this has held up fine in the wash! I turn the shirt inside-out and then wash/dry as normal (cold, regular cycle, etc). The threads did pop in one small section, but I think that was because a dog jumped on me lol. I just stitched it back down and it’s fine! All good!

Sequin Cat Applique

BTW if you’re wondering how the hell I got these BOMB-ASS PHOTOS (tbh the only reason this post is even warranted haha), we shot them in a professional photo studio in Portland, OR when I was up there earlier this year for a jeans workshop at Josephine’s Dry Goods! Since Josephine’s is such a small shop, we opted to move the workshop to this place so we’d have more space… and a great backdrop to take photos (which obviously I took full advantage of). I can’t take any credit for the quality of these photos as Bini’s husband set it all up- as well as let us use his equipment – but hey they are cool and I got some neat jumping shots!

Sequin Cat Applique

I really like my hair in this one πŸ™‚

On a final note – I was creeping on Gucci recently and I was surprised to see this cat all over their F/W 19 collection, but specifically these sneakers

Gucci Cat

They call it “Mystic Cat” which I love but I think mine is better because it actually sparkles.

Sequin Cat Applique

Sewing For My New Apartment!

28 Jun

All right, y’all, time for something different – another round of HOME SEWING PROJECTS (heh heh heh!). No wait, come back! I promise it’s at least somewhat interesting!

So, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly – I moved this month! Yay! From a basement apartment in the middle of the woods, to a second floor apartment with masses of windows in my favorite part of Nashville. Literally movin’ on up, here! :B Since things go all kinds of haywire during moving month (from packing, to moving, to unpacking, to figuring out your new neighborhood bar, etc etc), I knew I probably shouldn’t devote myself to trying to make a whole outfit or something crazy for this month’s MSN project. Never mind that I actually unpacked and set up everything in 3 days hahaha. I decided to focus my efforts on sprucing up and decorating, to get the new place real pretty instead. Not to mention, this gave me an opportunity to actually shop the home decor selection at Mood Fabrics. Yes! I don’t normally sew with home decor fabrics, like, ever (too stiff to wear, at least for me!), so that whole side of the website was so fresh and new and different and ahh I love it.

Linen apron

First up is a basic (but so useful!) apron, made using this Blue and White Striped Linen. I know, aprons are generally one of those things that people make when they are first learning how to sew haha. To be completely honest – I’ve never actually sewn an apron before (as with all my adult learning, I jumped straight into the “difficult” stuff). But I knew I needed one because I am a helluva messy cook – I get splatters everywhere and I’m always wiping my hands off on my clothes. I’m also a really clean cook – in the sense that I clean as I cook (seriously – I won’t even sit down to eat until all the cooking dishes are washed, unless there’s something that needs to be soaked. A sink full of dirty dishes stresses me out!) – so I’m also usually covered with water by the end of the prep. Using an apron might actually make me feel more like a grown-up. Plus it would be cool to wear one while whipping up a delicious meal to impress whatever man I have over. If that ever happens. BTW, Tinder is incredibly depressing hahaha. ANYWAY, MOVING ON NOW.

I didn’t use a pattern to make this, just this adjustable Unisex Apron tutorial from Purl Soho. You basically make a series of measurements directly onto the fabric to get your pattern. From there, it’s just a lot of folding, pressing, and topstitching. The tutorial was really easy to follow, and this linen was even easier to sew up. I did find that the straps were a bit too low to hit my waist – so to fix this, I folded over the top by another couple of inches and topstitched it down, which shortened the apron enough so that everything hit me in the right spot. A better fix would be to reduce the angle and length of the diagonal cuts, obviously, but since my pieces were already cut at this point, this was a quick and dirty fix!

Other changes I made to the ~design~ was to leave off the pocket (what’s the pocket for, anyway? Dirty spoons? Secret snacks? Seriously, I am not putting my phone in that mess) and also to change the webbing to some 1″ twill tape. I did try the webbing, but it was WAY too stiff to be comfortable or even tie easily. The twill tape is nice and soft and it’s much more comfortable. I also topstitched along the edge of the apron where the twill tape goes around the neck, because otherwise it tends to slide off when you’re putting it on. The topstitching anchors everything so it stays in place at the neck, but the sides/back are still adjustable πŸ™‚

Linen apron

Linen apron

Linen apron

Linen apron

Linen apron

Once I finished with the apron, I realized I had quite a bit of fabric left over (I had bought 2 yards). Not enough to make a full garment, but certainly enough for some kitchen linens! Yeah, Friday night just got WILD up in here!

Linen napkins

Linen napkins

I was able to squeeze out 7 cloth napkins, and 3 dishtowels. Yay! For the napkins (pictured above), I cut 13″x13″ squares (I know there are lots of sizes for cloth napkins, but I personally like mine to be about 12″ square) and folded each edge under 1/2″ twice, and then topstitched. Really easy, and very fast when you sew it assembly-line style πŸ™‚ This was definitely not the most exciting project, but it is certainly useful! I am trying to move away from using disposable products as much as I can, including paper products like napkins, mostly cos I’m sick of having to buy them over and over. Plus, cloth really does wipe your face off better than paper does. Now if I could just get my visiting friends to stop using paper towels to dry their hands (whyyyy do people do this, use a real towel ffs).

Linen kitchen towel

The dishtowels have a finished measurement of 25″ x 14.5″, and were sewn in the same manner as the napkins. Again, definitely a useful thing for my kitchen! I prefer smooth tea towels over the really plush terrycloth kind, at least for kitchen use, and these work exactly the same way. I love the blue stripes and I love how they look in my (admittedly boring off-white) apartment kitchen πŸ™‚

Now, linen does tend to wrinkle up like crazy and this particular linen was no exception! I will point out that it was very stiff and flat when it arrived, but washing it made it soften up very nicely. I actually washed my linen 3x in hot water (and dried on extra hot) before cutting into it, to get it to shrink as much as possible and also because that does help with preventing future wrinkles. As you can see, they still wrinkle when they are laundered, but it’s not terrible. I’ve learned that just giving them a good shake after pull them out of the wash helps a lot. I do put mine in the dryer, however, line-drying will also prevent wrinkles as well.

My last home project doesn’t involve sewing at all – just fabric and hot glue πŸ™‚

Recovered Lampshade

I’ve had this cool gold floor lamp for several years (and my grandpa had it in his home for even MORE years before I got my hands on it), but the drum shade has definitely seen better days. It’s pretty old and brittle and will crack if you so much as look at it funny. I also wasn’t a big fan of the yellow-y off-white color, especially not for my new place. Rather than try to buy a new drum shade (because those things are $$$ – if you can even find one!), I recovered this one!

Recovered Lampshade

Recovered Lampshade

The fabric is this beauuuuutiful Peacock Geometric Chenille. The colors were perfect for my new living room, and I just love the chenille texture! The fabric was wide enough so that I only needed a half yard to cover my lampshade, but I may end up buying more to cover some pillows for my couch as well πŸ™‚ Because it’s THAT beautiful!

Anyway, covering the shade was really simple! I cut the fabric to be a couple inches taller than what I needed to cover the shade, and then turned under one long edge by 1/4″ and hot glued that to the wrong side of the fabric (since it does fray a lot, you’ll want to cover your raw edges or double turn them). Then I carefully wrapped the shade with the fabric, hot gluing as I went. The edge at the top of the shade was left raw, and then covered with this gold metallic braid. The bottom has an overlap of about 2″ of fabric (the edge with the 1/4″ turn under). When I came back around to where I started, I turned the fabric under 1/4″ and glued it down before overlapping. Done and done!

Recovered Lampshade

Here is the shade in all it’s glory, in my NEW LIVING ROOM πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ (psst – see that chair in the background? I recovered that bad boy a couple of years ago – also thanks to Mood Fabrics! πŸ˜‰ ). Also, I totally knit that white blanket – using size 50 needles and fluffy wool roving that basically feels like a cloud. It’s a simple k2 p2 rib, and just big enough for me + my cat to cuddle up. Ravelry notes are here, if you are interested!

Ok, so real talk – sewing things for the home doesn’t exactly top my list of favorite things to make, but it’s fun to switch things up every now and then! Not to mention, in a world where greys and chevrons are the current fashion, it’s really nice to have full control over my decor (even if it means I have to be a little bit more hands-on than just throwing something in my shopping cart at Target). What about you? Do you even sew (or hot glue) for your home?

Note: Fabrics were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, as part of my involvement with the Mood Sewing Network.

Me Made May – Week 1 Roundup

4 May

Holy cow, is it Friday already? Where did the week go?

Time for a round-up of the first week of Me-Made-May!

I wanted to put these in a cute little collage, but since Picnik died & left me all alone to grieve in private, you get individual pictures. Them’s the breaks.

Dress: Simplicity 2458
Belt: thrifted
Shoes: Target

Dress: Colette Patterns Rooibos
Belt: Handmade
Cardigan: Thrifted
Shoes: Target

Dress: Simplicity 6268
Belt: Thrifted
Shoes: Steve Madden

5/4 (that’s today!)
Blouse: Colette Patterns Violet
Skirt: Colette Patterns Ginger
Cardigan: Thrifted; reconstructed by me
Belt: Thrifted
Shoes: Target Kids

Sooo… about that Violet blouse… we need to talk.

The original incarnation just wasn’t doing it for me. I know it’s looks super cute in the pictures, but it was very uncomfortable in real life – mainly because those damn armholes were WAY too low-cut for sleeves. Every time I moved my arms, the whole shirt would ride up. As a result, I never wore it and felt very sad inside since 1. dotted swiss; and 2. cotton batiste, aka my two favorite fabrics that very instant.

So I cut the sleeves off.

Dotted Swiss Violet

I wish I could tell y’all that cutting the sleeves off immediately solved the problem, but that would be a lie. Remember those low armholes? They were so low, sans sleeves, that you could see the whole side of my bra without even being sneaky about it. Which, I mean, I’m definitely known to let it all hang out from time to time, but we’re talking about a freakin swiss dot button up with a peter pan collar here. Not really the right vessel for looking tarty.

I used part of the sleeves to add an extra wedge of fabric at the bottom of the arm hole – I ended up having to raise it a good 2″, and it’s still a little too low but I am NOT in the mood to fiddle with this blouse anymore. I finished with bias tape facing (machine-stitched because, again, NOT in the mood). I also took in the side seams a bit more at the waist to give it some more shape, since I was feeling pretty box-like at that point. I’m not 1000000000% happy with the finished result – it kind of looks, well, homemade – but it’s much better than the sleeved version.

The lesson here: don’t buy a loose, free-flowing boxy blouse pattern when you prefer to wear everything with little to no ease.

On a happy note, look at the newest addition to my house as of last night!
It’s actually Landon’s set, not mine πŸ™‚ But OH MAN it’ll be SO FREAKING NICE to do laundry in my own house! I really love doing laundry (and folding it! Haha!), but I hate dragging it in & out of the house. So I’m pretty excited about this. And yes, this is absolutely relevant to MMM’12 since pretty much all the good stuff is in the dirty clothes bin right now.
Also, check out my reel mower on the right (don’t look at the recycling on the left, please & thank you). I mow my lawn with a reel mower because I’m a BAMF. And also because gas is expensive.

Oh, and my Bombshell dress is almost done – all that is left is securing the vent (seriously, a little 2″ diagonal line haha) and figuring out how I want to attach the strap. It’s lookin’ good and I’m feeling good about it!

I leave you with this –
In case you were ever wondering what it looks like when the plastic cone inside a spool of serger thread crumbles into pure nothing.

Recon: The Hawaiian Sundress

30 Apr

I’m still slogging away on my Bombshell dress – although right now it appears to be more of a bed than anything:
Current Bombshell state

More on that later! Today, we will talk about my newest recon.

I actually started plotting the making of this dress on Friday afternoon – I found this sweet Hawaiian maxi dress and I spent the rest of the afternoon obsessing over how to make my own. My drive home from work ended taking A FUCKING HOUR AND A HALF (I drive about 5 miles & it usually takes 15-20 minutes – tops! 25 minutes is long enough to make me feel desperate, no lie) – thanks, Country Music Marathon! – so I had plenty of time to plan the making of my new dress. I realized the head start was actually hanging in my closet.

Hawaiian Dress Recon - before
If you’re feeling underwhelmed, well, so was I. I picked this dress up at the thrift store last summer – I loved the print, and it’s rayon which is my faaaavorite fiber to wear in the summer. Also, it was $2. Unfortunately, it’s a big shapeless muumuu. I thought I could cinch it with a belt and be done with it, but belting that much fabric leaves some weird gathers & poof, so this was a dress reserved for hanging around the house.

This was a REALLY easy (and fast!) recon – I sewed a strip of wide elastic at the waistline, cut 6″ off the hem & sewed that to the elastic neckline. Done and done!

Hawaiian Dress Recon
The original inspiration is sleeveless, but I actually like the extra ruffle the sleeves give, so they stay… for now.

Hawaiian Dress Recon

Hawaiian Dress Recon
It is hemmed a little short – you can’t tell from these pictures, since I have the tripod angled, but I could definitely use an extra inch. Although I did wear this to shop the flea market with my mom on Saturday & she never mentioned the length (or lack thereof), so maybe it’s not as bad as I think it is.

Hawaiian Dress Recon

Hawaiian Dress Recon
I got a LOT of compliments on this dress! Probably more than I’ve ever received for any of my clothing – funny! It seemed like every other person I ran into had something nice to say about it πŸ™‚

Hawaiian Dress Recon - no belt
Oh, and thanks to the elastic waistband – it looks great without a belt! This will be extremely important once the rest summer heat+humidity hits πŸ™‚

Some construction notes…
Hawaiian Dress Recon - elastic waistband, inside
The elastic waistband was really easy to insert – I measured the elastic around my waist, and then sewed it to the middle of the dress (try it on first to check the placement), giving the elastic a good stretch while I sewed it on. I just used a straight stitch, since it’s not a really high-stress area.

Hawaiian Dress Recon - elastic waistband, outside
From the front – it gathered up nicely, I think!

Hawaiian Dress Recon - collar ruffle, inside
To make the ruffled collar, I sewed cut-off dress bottom (hem intact!) to the inside of the dress, wrong side up. Again, I stretched it as I sewed so it would gather up.

Hawaiian Dress Recon - collar ruffle, outside
Then just flip the ruffle of the outside, hiding the seams.

The hem is finished with a small rolled hem. No, I didn’t take a picture. I’m sure you can use your imagination πŸ˜‰

Hawaiian Dress Recon
And that’s it! Easy, breezy, beautiful… err, this’ll be great for Me-Made-May πŸ™‚

As for the flea market… well, the pickings were pretty slim this go-round 😦 I did meet two vendors who said they have loads of fabric they need to sell off, so I gave them my contact information and hopefully I can spend the money I didn’t spend at the flea market on their fabric πŸ™‚ Haha!

I did pick up this pattern… there’s not a listed manufacturer anywhere, just the pattern number.
Pattern 8452
I love the button placket.

Pattern 8452
It’s undated, but based on the fact that it’s unprinted & it has THIS across the top of the (sparse)instructions, I reckon it’s from the war era πŸ™‚

I also bought two pieces of stretchy fabric, although they were from the thrift store, not the flea.
Floral stretch fabric
Probably going to save this one for winter, it’s kind of… velvety? I like how loud it is, though. And yes, my cat is modeling because she refused to get off the table.

Stripey poly stretch fabric
This is polyester, but I just love those 70s stripes!

Bombshell list
The Bombshell is making excellent progress – and it still fits! YAY!

Completed: Embroidered Silk Shell Top

22 Mar

shell top

And another one down!

I don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but I picked up this silk turquoise skirt at my favorite thrift store about a month ago – at half off, it was $2. And it was plus size, and long, which meant lots of fabric for me to play with. Silk for $2? I’ll take it! I was able to salvage some giant pieces of fabric, plus the lining. And the zipper, for about 5 minutes (until I forgot that there wasn’t a zipper stop and I immediately pulled the zipper off the teeth. DERP.). I know the tag says ‘dry clean only,’ but I washed a little swatch of the fabric in the sink & it didn’t seem to be an issue at all – no water spotting, no weird shrinkage. Anyway, I had enough fabric to make the little top in Simplicity 4400 (which, I might point out, is the very first vintage pattern I ever bought – at the same thrift store, no less!). I was even able to finagle the pieces so that I kept the original skirt hem intact. Yeah!

A word about this pattern (and every other vintage pattern I’ve ever sewn up) – there is still ease in vintage patterns. Lot and lots of ease. Notice the size on that pattern is for a 32″ bust? My bust is actually 36″ – and the top fits me perfectly. I have noticed this a lot with vintage patterns, so do what you will & make a muslin (or tissue fit, like lazy me :3).

To keep this top from being *too* simple, I embroidered a rose by the right shoulder:
Silk Shell Top - embroidery
I got the design from Hoop Love Vintage Transfers on Flickr – a GREAT embroidery pattern resource! To transfer the design, I laid it over a sheet of wax transfer paper and traced with a pencil. The stitches here are split stitch (on the rose) and back stitch (on the leaves & stems). Oh, and if you are apt to try this – make sure you staystitch those curved seams before you start! It’ll keep them from stretching out with all that extra handling πŸ™‚ I probably should have serged my edges too, since this silk frays like nobodies business, but you know me… livin’ on the edge & shit.

As a side note, can we discuss these wtf directions?
Silk Shell Top
I’ve never seen this before – it’s a dart, but without the dart legs. I have to make my own dart legs. How intriguing!

Ok, anyway, back to my top.

Construction was fairly simple & straight forward. I opted to hand-pick a center zipper (instead of the machine-stitched lapped zip in the directions) and did not topstitch the facings, as I wanted the top to be simple so the focus would be on that embroidery. The top sewn as-is ended up being too billowy for my tastes, so I added vertical darts below the bust for a little shape. I originally planned to wear it tucked but I think I prefer it untucked now! Unfortunately, the arm holes are a little on the tight side but, eh, I think I can deal.

Silk Shell Top
(huh, I really need to re-press those dart tips!)

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top

BONUS: Tucked!

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top - handpicked zipper
Hand picked zipper – I got a little obsessive & tried to match the stitches up on both sides hahaha

Silk Shell Top
Remember when I said I broke the zipper that came with the skirt? Well I found this one in my stash – and it matches perfectly! Talk about a happy accident!

Pretty pleased with this little top – I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it this summer. The silk is so deliciously soft, and I just love the color!

Silk Shell Top

recon: taffeta christmas skirt

5 Dec

my favorite kind of recon – easy easy!

holiday skirt

i’ve been pining for a plaid taffeta party something for a couple of weeks now – didn’t care if it was a skirt or a dress. i actually wanted to make a taffeta peony, so i started lurking plaid taffetas online. well, i scrapped that idea to the back burner when i realized how expensive that stuff is – and i wanted silk!

so imagine my delight when i found a little girl’s plaid taffeta party dress during my saturday shopping trip with lauren. it’s polyester, but whatever – PLAID. and $2.50!

holiday skirt - the before
here’s what i started with. it’s pretty small, but that empire waist is exactly my waist measurement. and before anyone gets sad about the death of a little girl’s plaid taffeta party dress, i will point out that it’s a walmart brand. pretty cheap stuff to begin with.

anyway, i removed the skirt from the bodice (and discarded the bodice – not enough fabric to do anything with!) and cut the hem off the bottom to form a waistband. since the hem is on the bias, i stabilized it with horsehair interfacing to give it some structure. i shortened the zipper & stuck it back in there with the skirt lining. the hem is just a simple rolled hem. easy!

holiday skirt

this whole project probably took about 2 hours, and now i have a new skirt to wear for christmas parties πŸ™‚ i already wore it this morning to put up the office christmas tree.

holiday skirt - waistband

holiday skirt - inside

i even had enough taffeta left over to make a matching headband.

matching headband

i look like a damn christmas present.

holiday skirt
i’m okay with that πŸ™‚

boot fur cuffs & pom poms!

30 Dec

happy holidays (whichever you prefer, i’m not picky!) to everyone! i’ve been MIA for the past week or so, and about to disappear again for another week due to this:
my poor bb sewing machine + serger awaiting the sewing machine doctor!

nothing is wrong with them… they just need their yearly check-up (same as you’d do for your pet, or your car, or uhh yourself). turnaround time is about a week, so i took the opportunity to drop them off today since i will be spending my new year’s weekend in new orleans πŸ™‚
but i miss them already!

in other happy fun-times news, i did get a new camera for christmas! so i can start taking pictures again, although this camera is much different than my previous one so it is taking some getting used to. my pictures are pretty sucky right now, hopefully i’ll figure it out sooner than later!

oh, and i got new sewing books!
kwik sew method for sewing lingerie

singer sewing for special occasions

my brother & sister-in-law bought me a couple sewing books for christmas – tailoring and boutique apparel. i couldn’t get a good picture of them, but here is the art of sewing flickr set. aren’t they gorgeous? there is a great cape pattern in the apparel book that i am dying to try!

i also made some little fur cuffs & pom poms for my boots over the weekend πŸ™‚
Continue reading