Completed: A Very Festive Brocade V8998

26 Dec

After many years of saying I was gonna do it and then never actually doing it… I made a Christmas party dress!

Vogue 8998

I wanted something sparkly and festive to wear to Christmas parties (before you think I go to fancy parties… I don’t. I have consistently been the most overdressed person at every party this year, not that I’m complaining!), but every year I put it off until it’s too late. This year, I was determined to use my Mood allowance to make something fabulous, so I forced myself to start early. I’m so happy it paid off!

Vogue 8998

With this make, I chose fabric before the pattern. I had an idea that I’d like to make my dress out of a sparkly brocade – a fabric that I don’t have a lot of experience with. I generally prefer a fabric that has less body, plus, my lifestyle doesn’t really warrant a need for fancy dress. This seemed like a good opportunity to jump out of my comfort zone a little, so I waited until I was back in NYC for another workshop and used that change to stop by Mood Fabrics store to pick my brocade.

I’m not going to lie – I spent over 2 hours in that shop trying to decide. There are sooo many options, it’s a bit overwhelming! I had a couple of things in mind to narrow it down – I wanted a fabric that was primarily black, gold or silver (so I could wear it with my turquoise heels), and I was budgeting $50/yard or less (you’d be surprised how expensive brocade can get! I only needed 2 yards, which helped a lot). I wanted something that was more floral than abstract, and nothing that was super dimensional (I don’t like puffy brocade, I’ve learned). Even with those terms narrowing it down, there was a LOT of fabric to wade through. God bless all the people at Mood who helped me pull bolts and kept their grumbles to themselves every time I changed my mind. I’m sure it helped that I was there on a slow weekday morning, but still! I must have been annoying. Those people are saints haha.

Anyway, I found this fabric and eventually settled on it (someone else was considering it for their wedding party, and decided against it – so she was happy to see me buy it instead!). What you see in my photos is actually the wrong side of the fabric – the right side is more dimensional with silver + gold, as you can see here. I had a hard time deciding what size to use – and even asked IG for opinions – but ultimately decided that the wrong side really made my heart sing. Plus, it looked better with my turquoise shoes (and also, someone on IG pointed out that it looked mature and tbh I just couldn’t see past that after that fact haha). Wrong side it was, then! I did consider adding in a bit with the right side for contrast (such as at the waistband), but upon pinning the pieces to my dressform, it definitely did not work. Rather than look cool, it looked like I made a mistake. So I scrapped that idea and just went with the wrong side all over.

Vogue 8998

 

Vogue 8998

For my pattern, I used Vogue 8998. I cut a size 6 at the shoulders and bust, grading out to an 8 at the waist and hips. I made view E, but changed the skirt gathers to soft pleats. A quick muslin of the bodice showed that I needed to remove about 1″ from the shoulder to make it fit better, and I also removed 2″ from the skirt length before cutting. I made no other fitting changes.

Construction-wise, I mostly followed the pattern but changed a few things to suit me + my fabric. I did not interface the entire bodice – I get why they have you do it, but I felt like my brocade had enough body where it wasn’t needed. I did interface the midriff with silk organza, just to give it some extra stability. I also changed out the lapped zipper for an invisible zipper.

The whole dress is lined in black silk charmeuse, which gives the garment a bit of weight and makes it feel SUPER luxurious when I’m wearing it. There is 2″ wide horsehair braid at the hem to give the dress a bit of extra volume. This is one area that I totally deviated from the instructions. They have you attach the horsehair to the lining and then sew that to the outer fabric, so everything is encased… but I wanted my layers to be separate (mainly so I could show people the “right” side of the fabric haha). So I sewed the horsehair to the outer, and rolled the hem of the lining.

Vogue 8998

After a little bit of internal debate, I also added pockets (also out of silk charmeuse). I figured it would be nice to have a place to hold my phone (or stolen snacks), and I’m glad I did!

Vogue 8998

Oh, right – AND I made a matching clutch, using all leftover fabrics + my new Cricut Maker! More details on that in the next post 😛 But doesn’t it look great with my dress? haha!

Vogue 8998

Vogue 8998

Vogue 8998

Despite this being a fairly fancy, pretty $$$$ dress made with fine materials… it was really easy to sew. It’s just a basic dress (I mean, style-wise it’s technically a sundress, you know?) that is fully lined with a center back zipper. There aren’t a ton of pieces, and while I can’t say that the silk was the easiest thing I have ever cut… the brocade was super easy to work with. It doesn’t shift around, it pressed fine with high heat + a press cloth (sorry, I’m terrible but I use high heat for everything haha), and all my hand stitches disappeared which made hand sewing the hem very satisfactory! The only downside to brocade is that it sheds like CRAZY… so I just serged all my seams (even the ones that are completely covered by lining) to prevent them from fraying more. I am still finding sparkly bits of brocade in my studio. It’s kind of great.

Vogue 8998

Vogue 8998

I love the shape of the bodice, and the wide waistband.

Vogue 8998

Vogue 8998

Vogue 8998

Vogue 8998

Vogue 8998

Vogue 8998

Here you can see the “right” side of the fabric! 🙂

Whew! All right, sorry, that was a load of photos. I am so excited about this dress, though, it’s been a while since I worked on such a big, fancy project!

Vogue 8998

I’m happy to report that I have now worn this dress 4 times – 3 parties, and one night out with my coworkers for fancy drinks! It’s super comfortable to wear, and the silk lining makes it a touch more warm than I expected. A couple of the parties I went to were waaaay more low-key than this dress would require, but it actually looks super cute with my cropped Chuck sweater worn over it with a belt.

Anyway, that’s all for this dress! I’ll be back later this week to talk more about the clutch I made to go with it 🙂

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

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Completed: Running is Stupid Tank

19 Dec

Guys, have y’all heard of the Cricut Maker? I was somewhat familiar with the Cricut, which I typically associated with general crafters and/or scrapbookers – not the sorts of crafts I personally do. Anyway, a few months ago, I was contacted by Cricut with an offer for the Maker. Not gonna lie, I was confused why they’d reach out, since I definitely don’t do paper crafts (or, I do occasionally, but not enough to necessitate a dedicated machine for it – and I definitely don’t blog about said paper crafts, so it seemed like a really weird fit). If you are confused, too, I recommend watching that intro video at the link, because it 100% changed my mind!

I still don’t know about the rest of the Cricuts, but let me tell you about the Maker! This machine is about the size of a small printer, and it can cut or draw on a variety of materials. I always associated them with just paper and vinyl – but you can also cut stuff like balsa wood and fabric, depending on what blade you use. The fabric part was what really got my attention, when I realized I could use it to cut out fiddly fabric pieces – such as a bra pattern. You don’t have to stabilize the fabric – it sticks to a special mat that feeds right into the machine. There is a free app that has hundreds of patterns and designs available for download – some are free, some cost money (charged to your iTunes account) – including a lot of options from Simplicity. I have been told that it is possible to upload your own cut maps – like the aforementioned bra pattern – but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. In the meantime, I wanted to play around with this machine and see what I could make! This is actually my second project with the Cricut Maker, but the first one I’m posting!

I got a bunch of the iron-on vinyl, which comes in a roll that you can cut to whatever design (or in my case, words) that you want! Then you simply iron it on, the same way you’d use the classic letters that you find in most craft stores (y’all are familiar with these, right? Man, I used to use the SHIT out of those back in high school haha. I had a tshirt that said “Go me” on the front and “Go me some more” on the back. Oh, high school.). I wanted to make my own funny tshirt, but it took me ages to think of a good text to write. I decided to make a running tank with the words “Running is stupid.” My dad had a similar tshirt that he wore to races, and I always thought it was hilarious. After my brother debuted his recent skate video, Skae3rdie Trying (which I’m linking bc y’all should watch that shit at least for his solo at the beginning lol), he had tshirts that said “Skateboarding is stupid,” and OF COURSE he gave me one. But I really wanted that running is stupid shirt, to wear when I go running (obviously), and I knew my mom would never give me dad’s- so that’s what I decided to make.

Running is Stupid tank

Setting up the machine is easy – it has wifi capabilities to connect to your phone or tablet, to download the patterns. There is also a USB port on the side for charging your device, which is handy! The machine has a tray at the top for holding a tablet (or phone); my only complaint is that the tray is very narrow and does not accommodate my iPad when it’s still in its case – I have to remove it. Minor complaint, but I did want to point that out.

Running is Stupid tank

For this project, I designed my text in the app, using my Skateboarding is stupid shirt to compare font and text size. Once I was happy with the design, I connected my tablet to the Maker via wifi and clicked through all the boxes to start cutting. The app makes this really user-friendly – it asks you the material (and in my case – reminds me to mirror so it irons on correctly), tells you what blade + mat to use, then you just load it up and go!

Running is Stupid tank

The machine has space to hold 1 blade and 1 pen simultaneously – you can use the pen to draw or write (with the machine), or you can stick in a fabric pen to mark your pieces as they get cut. The best part is how easy they are to change out – they just snap right in.

Running is Stupid tank

The mats have a sticky side, to hold whatever material is getting cut. There are different mats for different materials, but I just used the all-purpose one for cutting the vinyl. With fabric, there is a special mat – and it comes in both 12″x12″ or up to 12″x24″ (obviously you can only cut stuff as large as the mat, so the bigger fabric mat is nice to have!).

Running is Stupid tank

I loaded the mat into the machine and hit start. And that was it!

Running is Stupid tank

Running is Stupid tank

After cutting, I peeled all the negative space away from my letters. I then cut the letters apart so I could position them better on the shirt (I don’t know why there was that extra space in the second line, but whatever, I can manually fix that!). The letters remain on a clear sheet that is sticky, so you can position everything exactly how you like it and it won’t move while you’re fusing.

Running is Stupid tank

Running is Stupid tank

Then you fuse from both sides (I used a timer so I was sure it was getting enough heat) and peel the clear film off. Super easy!

Running is Stupid tank

Running is Stupid tank

Because I’m so extra, I couldn’t attach this to a standard RTW shirt… obviously, I had to make my own shirt, too. I cut my pattern pieces before fusing the vinyl, but waited to sew everything together until last. Having done a lot of stenciling (and using those vinyl letters as well) in the past, I know from experience that it can be hard to get everything straight and centered if you’re attaching to a garment that’s already made. And I didn’t want to deal with a bunch of yardage and then trying to cut with everyone centered, so I fused to my already cut pattern pieces.

Running is Stupid tank

Then it was just a matter of sewing up the tank!

A few details for the sewing part:
– I used black bamboo stretch jersey to make this – I love wearing bamboo when I exercise because it breathes so well, and it also doesn’t hold stink! I get my bamboo knit from Mood Fabrics and it’s fantastic stuff, well worth the price, and comes in a great selection of colors. There’s about 5% spandex blended in, which helps the knit keep its shape so it does not stretch out.
– The pattern I used is a mash-up of the Mission Maxi for the top, and the Plantain tshirt for the body. I wanted something fitted at the top and bust, but loose at the waist.
– I sewed the seams with my serger (just a standard 4 thread overlock, but next I want to experiment with flatlocking), and made binding strips out of the bamboo knit, which I attached using my coverstitch machine + binding attachment. This was my very first time using the binding attachment (I just bought the machine a couple of months ago, and no, I haven’t posted about it yet!), and LET ME SAY THAT WAS A STEEP LEARNING CURVE. It probably didn’t help that I used it on a wiggly knit instead of a nice stable cotton! But it was totally worth the headache and I’m so happy with how the binding looks.

Running is Stupid tank

Running is Stupid tank

I will write more about the coverstitch machine + attachment in depth in a future post (I’d like to use the thing more before I start acting like an authority on it, ha), but in the meantime – doesn’t the binding look nice! 🙂

Running is Stupid tank

All right, so that’s all for this shirt! I have more workout stuff that I need to sew up (I have a wonderful assortment of gear for the warm months, but absolutely nothing for the winter – so I need to fix that!), so photos of me wearing it will come with that post I suppose! I gotta say, I cannot wait to wear this to the gym when I use the treadmill next, haha! My dad would totally be proud 🙂

I also used the Maker for a sewing project – stay tuned for that post!

Have you ever used the Cricut machines before? Are there other cool things they do that I’m missing out on?

** Note: Cricut generously sent me the Cricut Maker machine + a bunch of supplies at no cost to me, in exchange for writing about my experience. All opinions are my own! Also, FYI, this blog post contains affiliate links. Actually, it is littered with them. That is all!

Completed: Pulmu Skirt Kit from Needle Sharp

15 Dec

Y’all, I love a good kit. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I just want to reiterate in case you didn’t hear me the first time – I LOVE KITS. Something about having everything already picked + sorted, then corralled in its own little box just pleases me to no end.

So, today, I have another kit to show you. Or, rather, the results of a project from a kit.

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

A few months ago, I was contacted by Mary of Needle Sharp, who wanted to send me one of her kits to try out in exchange for some honest feedback. Now, if there is one thing I love more than kits, it’s sharing my opinion! Needle Sharp is a new company that provides sewing subscription boxes. There are 3 different levels to choose from – the Lightweight, the Mediumweight, and the Heavyweight (plus a Starter Box if you literally don’t have the tools), with 3 fabric options to choose from each category. Each month focuses on a theme – this month it’s pencil skirts, last month was wiggle dresses – and the boxes include everything you need to make the project, including pattern, fabric, interfacings and stabilizers, thread, notions, even machine needles. All you need to supply is the sewing machine and any tools (such as scissors, pins, chalk, etc).

I was given several box options to choose from (including upcoming months that haven’t been announced yet!), and I went with the mediumweight pencil skirt box. I chose the rock’n’roll option – black polyester suiting, black pleather triangle inserts. Let me say this is a DEFINITE departure from my style (minus the black part) – I haven’t worn a pencil skirt in ages, and this one is long enough that it requires wearing heels or else it looks stupid – but I’m pretty into it!

I took some photos of the box before I tore into it, so here’s that:

Needle Sharp box

The box arrived on my doorstep with the logo clearly visible, so I knew exactly what was waiting for me (rather than it being a nondescript box that I ripped open with glee to realize it was just a bunch of Amazon books that my upstairs neighbor had ordered, ugh I’m still mad about that lol).

Needle Sharp tissue

Needle Sharp contents

Everything was beautifully packaged, it looked like a present when I opened it. I didn’t take a picture of all the included stuff (well, I did, but it was a dumb and useless-looking picture so I deleted it), but my box contained the sewing pattern, suiting fabric, lining fabric, pleather, interfacing, 2 D rings, an invisible zipper, a spool of black thread, 2 sewing machine needles (80/12 and a leather needle – both clearly marked on a small card), and CANDY. TBH, the candy might have been the best part. I am always so tickled when I get surprise candy.

Needle Sharp fabric care

Another thing included in the box were cards for each piece of fabric, with yardage, content, and care instructions. I really appreciated this, since this information is rarely included with online fabric orders.

While I’m generally not a fan of polyester, the contents of this box were definitely a very high quality. It didn’t feel plastic-y like some polys, and in general the fabrics were easy to work with and handle. That lining shed all over the place like a bitch (a month later, I am still finding surprise tufts around my studio), but charmeuse has a tendency to do that regardless of whether it’s silk or poly. I especially loved the faux leather! It is a SUPER nice quality and actually looks like leather (as opposed to plastic, like a lot of the faux leathers I’ve seen). It is backed with a knit rayon, so it’s super easy to sew and doesn’t require a special foot (I did use the included leather needle). I received more fabric than I needed (each kit comes with enough fabric to make any of the sizes in the pattern), so I have tons to play with and put toward future projects. Pretty stoked about that!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

So, now, let’s talk about the pattern – the Pulmu skir from Named Clothing. This was the pattern that was included in my box. As I’ve mentioned, a high-waisted pencil skirt really isn’t the kind of thing I wear these days, but I’m willing to branch out. I loved the way this one looks and I loved the idea of putting a cool fabric in those triangle inserts. This pattern is definitely a neat twist on an otherwise plain pencil skirt, and I’m totally into that.

With that being said, I feel like Named Patterns can be a little hit or miss. Some of the designs are cool (some of the designs leave me scratching my head. Sorry. I’m not a cool person.), the drafting is great and the pieces fit together well. The instructions make me want to SCREAM. Key steps are left out, additional wtf steps are included (like serging all the seam allowances – on a *closed* lined skirt. Really, dude?), but tbh I’m mostly mad because this pattern didn’t include any lengthen/shorten lines. Who does that?? And why??? So, that agitated me. Minor complaint, but frustrating nonetheless.

I knew this skirt was going to be long – the instructions state that the pattern is drafted for someone who is 5’8″ and to shorten if needed (again, then why the HELL would you not include lengthen/shorten lines, like, seriously dude), and I am more like 5’2″! The skirt is intended to hit calf length, and I was tempted to make it way shorter than that but decided to embrace that whole “wearing clothes out of my style comfort zone” and stick with the longer demure length. It does look cool, but the downside is that I have to wear heels or else I look frumpy. The upside is, I finally have something to wear these turquoise Jimmy Choos with, ha!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

I mean, seriously, look at how fucking cool those shoes are.

In case you were curious, they are as uncomfortable as they look. I actually bought some new insoles to try out on these shoes and they have kind of changed my life – the Vivian Lou Insolia insoles, seriously amazing. My problem with heels is that all my weight gets pushed to my toes, and it gets incredibly painful really really fast (I took these photos before I tried the insoles and just the time it took to get pictures, my feet were screaming). These insoles redistribute the weight so your heel takes a lot of it, which makes the shoes easier to wear. I’m not delusional and I’m not going to tell you that these feel like sneakers now – but I can wear them and walk around and it’s way more tolerable. They are expensive for insoles – like $30! – but they have a money-back guarantee, so you’re not stuck with them if they suck. I’m pretty happy with this discovery!

And, in case you were wondering why I own a pair of designer shoes that I couldn’t even wear – my boss gave them to me (she never wore them either). I do not normally buy $1,000 shoes just for the hell of it 😛

Ok, moving on!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp_4662

Based on my measurements, I’m a size 34 at the hip and between a 34/36 at the waist. I cut my skirt pattern between the 34/36 lines at the waist, grading down to a 34 at the hip to the hem. I also shortened the skirt by 2″ – which took a little problem solving on my end, as the skirt is pegged at the hem and has that triangular insert to contend with. What I ended up doing was shortening the skirt 1″ in two different places, which I think worked quite well. In addition to the pegged hem, the skirt has 2 side slits and an encased lining (it doesn’t hang free; it’s attached at the hem), so I wouldn’t be able to shorten the skirt after assembling it. Figuring out which 2 places to shorten was part of the challenge, but I ultimately went with around the hip area (which, strangely, is marked on the pattern), as well as a couple inches above the slits.

The waist fits great, but the hips could have stood to go up a size- as you can see, there are drag lines all over my butt. I’m not terribly concerned about it – the 3/8″ seam allowance means there’s not much room for fit adjustments, so I’m just gonna deal with what I was given here – but I’m certainly aware of it. Like I said, I cut my size based on my measurements, so I’m not sure if the finished hip is tighter due to my fabrics or an error in the sizing. The fabric recommendations on the pattern aren’t exactly helpful – they just say get fabric with “up to 5% stretch.” Oh, ok. To be fair, my leather inserts are stretch – but the lining isn’t, so it negates that. At any rate, I’m not concerned about it so whatever!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

The poly + leather in this skirt pressed surprisingly well (I used medium heat, a presscloth, and a clapper to hold the heat in until it cooled), but I added a bunch of topstitching to get a really sharp edge. I topstitched all the darts, as well as the inserts, and I love the way it looks.

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

The skirt features a self-fabric facing to keep the top lining from peeking out, and the back closes with an invisible zipper.

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

The “vents” are actually just slits. I love the look of them but be aware they are not faced like a true vent – so your lining fabric will show. This was my one complaint about the kit is the color of that lining fabric. I know that people love a contrasty lining, but I generally stick with neutrals, especially in a black skirt that is going to show the lining. Based on my feedback, the kits now have the option to choose your lining color (you can get plain black and be boring like me, or a fun contrast if that’s what you like!).

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

One thing I added was a small bartack at the bottom of the slit, to reinforce it from tearing. BTW, the slit instructions are… interesting. It’s not my cleanest work, but it’ll do.

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

The skirt includes belt loops and a self-fabric belt that closes with D rings. I don’t know why I love that part so much, but I do. I’ve actually found other ways to wear the belt with different garments, so that’s a bonus!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

I think that’s all the word vomit I have to say about this project! In short: the kit was great, and especially awesome for getting me to branch out a little, style-wise. If you are making this skirt (whether with a Needle Sharp kit or just because you own the pattern), I recommend sizing up at the hips, or using a fabric with some stretch (and making sure your lining stretches as well). And also check that length, because once you’ve sewn up the skirt you can’t exactly shorten it!

Oh, one last thing! If you want to try a box with Needle Sharp – use the code HOLIDAY10 to receive 10% off any box! This promo is good through 12/24/17.

** Note: All the supplies used to make this skirt were provided to me as a free kit from Needle Sharp, in exchange for my honest feedback. I was not required to post about this project, I just wanted to!

Completed: Addictive Free Canvas Tote from Niizo

4 Dec

It’s that time of the year again – new bag season!!

Addictive Free Canvas Tote

This is the Addictive Free Canvas Tote from Niizo, and my third project made using a kit + pattern from this company. I cannot say enough good things about them – my Freedom Backpack has been the best travel companion I could ask for (I’ve dragged that thing EVERYWHERE – including all the way to Egypt!) and my Craftsmanship Bag gets loads of compliments every time I carry it.

While I wasn’t much of a tote bag user in the past, that has changed recently. Now that I walk to Craft South for classes, it’s nice to have a bag to carry all my junk in. I have also started doing occasional work in alterations for photoshoots and tv, which require me to carry all my supplies on set. I have tons of those free tote bags that pretty much every business gives away, so I’ve managed just fine, but I really wanted something more sturdy that looks professional and doesn’t collapse when you put it on the floor. This pattern checks all those needs, and it’s an added bonus that I made it myself – call it advertising, if you will!

Addictive Free Canvas Tote

The Addictive Free Canvas Tote pattern includes 3 sizes, as well as instructions + a formula to create the custom sized tote of your dreams. I went with the largest size, which is quite large – about 19″ x 9″, and 5 1/2″ deep. I wanted something that would fit my 13″ laptop, as well as my knitting bag with plenty of room to spare.

I used the kit to make this bag, which is 100% what I recommend! Of course, you can buy just the PDF pattern if you want to supply your own fabric, but the stuff that comes in the kit is super nice! It includes medium weight canvas, water repellent nylon lining, thick foam for the bottom of the bag (which helps the bag keep its shape when you fill it with all your crap), a nice metal zipper & magnetic bag closure, and the leather tag that you can choose what words you want to have stamped on it. The medium weight canvas is sturdy enough that it doesn’t require interfacing – the bag stands up on it’s own without it. My backpack & purse are made of this same stuff, and they have held up beautifully over the year that I’ve carried them.

The kit is beautifully packaged, with each piece clearly marked so you know what pattern piece to cut from it. The pattern is a PDF, so while you do have to print it, there is only one page that needs to be taped. I have found the easiest way to cut my fabric is to trace the pieces directly on the fabric with tailor’s wax, and then cut the single layer with a pair of sharp scissors.

Like the other Niizo patterns I have sewn, the instructions are clear and easy to follow! This is definitely the easiest one I’ve sewn – but it has some fun features that keep it from being just a super plain tote bag. There are interior pockets – including a zippered pocket – plus one outside pocket which is the perfect size for my phone. The straps extend all the way to the base of the bag, and they are long enough to hold over your shoulder. There’s also a cute little fabric piece sewn to the back that you can use to attach a charm (or in my case, keys).

Addictive Free Canvas Tote

Addictive Free Canvas Tote

My little leather patch says L.Taylor, but you can customize it to say anything! I’m not going to lie – I had to actually talk myself out of asking for it to be stamped “butts.” Butts on everything, man.

Addictive Free Canvas Tote

Addictive Free Canvas Tote

Addictive Free Canvas Tote

You have the option to add stitching lines to the flat pocket to make it whatever size you want. I added a section for a pen and made one side big enough to hold a small notebook or my phone.

Addictive Free Canvas Tote

Here’s a picture of the tote on my dressform, to give you an idea of it’s size!

Anyway, if you made it this far – congratulations, now you get to learn about Niizo’s holiday sale!

4th -18th December
♥︎ All items 10% off in niizo Etsy shop.
♥︎ Participate #mapofbagmaker event to get a 15% off coupon code
– Post a photo of your SELF-MADE bag in a scene that could represent where you are.
– Name your location
– #mapofbagmaker @niizocraft
(the code will be sent via ig private message, one account one coupon, valid until 31st Dec)
for more information please follow @niizocraft in instangram

Addictive Free Canvas Tote

I think that’s about all I can say about this one! Happy bag-making, friends! ❤

Note: I was given this bag pattern + kit free of charge, in exchange for writing a blog post about it. All gushy opinions are 100% my own. Get you a niizo bag kit, they are worth it! Really!!

Completed: Wool Crepe Mirambell Skirt

30 Nov

Look – it’s two of my favorite things, rolled into one! Wool crepe + rust orange. YES!

Mirambell Skirt

I haven’t sewn with wool crepe in ages, which is weird because I consider it one of my favorite fabrics. Since my life is so… casual now, I really just wear a lot of pants, tshirts, and button ups. Dresses only happen if they are knit, and anything remotely resembling a suit hasn’t graced my body in about 5 years. Lol, remember when I worked in an office and had to dress up for work? Yeah. That was a long time ago.

Anyway, wool crepe! I love it! I love how squishy and soft it is, I love how it drapes and hangs off the body, I love the rich color. I love working with it – it’s easy to cut, easy to sew, rarely frays, and responds to pressing like a fucking dream. I love wearing it because it’s warm and comfortable, but also looks polished. Wool crepe, where have you been? Why did I forsake you? I’m so sorry.

Mirambell Skirt

This wool crepe is from Mood Fabrics, which I found in the store when I was in NYC a few months ago. There is a nice selection of wool crepes online if you aren’t local, but I love the opportunity of being able to go to the store and actually see/feel the fabrics before committing to one. This particular fabric is the result of a rare instance where I went to Mood with a specific fabric I was looking for (my lists are usually pretty vague – x amount of knit for a tshirt, for example) and amazingly, somehow managed to find (despite the selection in that store, I feel like they rarely have the specific things I want haha. Which is why I usually end up with vague lists!). But, no – for this skirt, I wanted wool crepe in either rust orange or saffron yellow. And I actually found it! Amazing!

Mirambell Skirt

Mirambell Skirt

The pattern I used is the Mirambell Skirt from Pauline Alice. It’s actually the second version I made – my first one was a sheer navy cotton/silk blend. It’s beautiful; maybe someday I’ll get around to blogging about it lol. Anyway, I originally bought the pattern specifically for that fabric – I was envisioning something similar, and then the pattern appeared on my radar a few days later. The pattern features a high waist with a curved waistband, topstitched pleats, and shaped pockets. There are two versions – one that closes with an invisible zipper, and one with buttons down the front. It is, admittedly, pretty similar to the Colette Zinnia, which I have made twice before (see: one, two). Between the two, I absolutely prefer the Mirambell. I always felt like the shape of the Zinnia was a little off – it tends to flare right about the hips, which is weird. Even topstitching the pleats further down did nothing to rectify this. Also, the inseam pockets on the Zinnia contribute to that flare – which isn’t an issue with the Mirambell, since the shape of the pockets makes them life more flat. The Mirambell does have a shaped waistband, but that can easily be straightened if you hate it. Anyway, my two cents!

I made a size 36, with no further fitting adjustments. The waist is just perfect on me – it’s fitted, but not uncomfortably tight. I love the length, although I’ll tell ya I was tempted to make it incredibly short.

One thing I did change was to add a lining, because I tend to wear wool crepe during tights season and it’s just easier to add a lining than deal with a slip. This is not included in the instructions, but it was easy to figure out (I’d already done this for my aforementioned prior version anyway, so I knew what I was getting into). I used china silk (originally from Mood, and languishing in my stash for the past year or so) and cut a second skirt out of it (I taped the pocket piece to the skirt front since there’s a slash where the pocket goes on the outside… man I hope that makes sense haha), 2″ shorter than the skirt I cut out of my crepe. I assembled each skirt individually as instructed (omitting the pockets on the lining), and then attached the lining to the waist seam of the outer skirt before attaching the waistband. Easy and effective! China silk is not my favorite fabric to work with as it’s INCREDIBLY shifty, but occasionally I’ll take one for the team if I feel like the end result will be worth it. This was one of those instances. The entire making of this skirt was just really fun and satisfying.

Mirambell Skirt

Here is the inside with the lining. Sorry about the wrinkles, that’s just the nature of silk.

What else? I finished all my seams with pinking shears, since the wool doesn’t fray and it was also going to be lined. I love using pinking shears, they feel so quaint and sweet haha.

Mirambell Skirt

Mirambell Skirt

Mirambell Skirt

Mirambell Skirt

Mirambell Skirt

Mirambell Skirt

Overall, a very happy skirt that combines my favorite color *and* my favorite fabric! Double bonus in that it looks so good with my polka dot chambray button up I made back in 2014. I’ve been trying to stick with a general color palette so that my pieces coordinate (and I don’t have any weird closet orphans), and this skirt is a great addition to that.

*Note: The fabrics used for this project (skirt) were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Completed: The Martine Sweater

13 Nov

It’s been a minute since I posted a knitting project, but that doesn’t mean I ever stopped knitting!

Martine Sweater - front

I took some time off from knitting sweaters (other than my yearly OAL makes!) and have spent a couple of months furiously knitting socks. I love handknit socks – I love making them, I love traveling with them (so portable!), I love wearing them, and I love buying yarn for them (way more economical than buying sweater yarn – even if you end up splurging haha). But then I started to get a little sock’d out, so I turned my focus back to sweaters.

Part of the reason why I stopped knitting sweaters as much is because I couldn’t really find patterns that stood out to me. There are TONS of patterns on Ravelry, but the selection dwindles down quite a bit when you factor in personal style and taste. I simply don’t wear very complicated looking clothes these days – which is what seems to be most available on the market (along with variegated, hand-painted, and bright yarns. Pretty, but again – not my style!). While I used to love cardigans, I really don’t wear them so much anymore (blame it on my lack of working in an office these days!). And I live in an area with a reasonably mild climate, so bulky sweaters are a bit unnecessary. TBH, even worsted weight sweaters are more than I need.

What I really like are plain, uncomplicated sweaters knit with fingering weight yarn in a very small color palette consisting of mostly greys and blacks. Ha! I know that sounds boring as hell, but I’d rather make something boring that’s going to get a ton of wear, than something crazy looking that doesn’t go with anything I own. I know a lot of us have fallen in the camp of “I love this pattern, I need to make one in every color!” whether it’s with sewing or knitting (or whatever craft’s ass you’re stuck up at the moment), but I’m realizing now that it’s ok to have one thing in one color and call it a day. And that color can be grey and that’s fine too.

Martine Sweater - front

Let me tell you – I’m SO HAPPY I reached this conclusion and stuck with it! This grey sweater hits all my needs – it’s cozy, it’s cotton (see: mild climate), it’s a great color for my wardrobe, and I actually really really enjoyed knitting it!

Martine Sweater - front

The pattern I used for this sweater is the Martine by Julie Hoover. Let’s just get this out of the way first and foremost – yes, its the same color as both the pattern photographs *and* Jen Beeman’s version. Specifically, I 100% ripped off Jen’s sweater after seeing it first and I’m not ashamed to admit it haha.

Things that I like about this sweater:
1. It’s knit in a cotton yarn, which is ideal for Tennessee weather – it’s great in the fall, early winter, and I reckon it’ll be ace in the spring as well. I love knitting and wearing wool, but sometimes it’s not always practical.
2. The design is simple and understated, but has a beautiful texture that I knew would be fun to knit.
3. That raglan shaping! Jen waxed poetic about how much she loved the raglan shaping and I was INTRIGUED. I wanted in on some of that action, too!
4. The sweater is knit in pieces and then seamed. In the past, I only ever knit seamless sweaters – and I’ve definitely announced this publicly numerous times. But as I’ve gotten more into knitting, I’ve heeded the advice of more seasoned knitters that a seamed sweater is truly the way to go, in terms of longevity and the sweater keeping it’s shape. This is especially important with a cotton sweater, since it’s already destined to stretch out of shape and really needs all the help it can get. Further, I figured knitting in pieces would make this a much more portable project – it’s annoying to schlep around an entire sweater on your needles, but just the front? Sure, why not! Finally, I wanted to learn how to properly seam (I’ve seamed before, but it was.. uhhh, well, the pieces were held together, and that’s about it haha), and this would be a great project to start with.

Knitting this pattern definitely stretched my comfort level, and I picked up some new skills as well! The pattern is loooong, but well-written – I didn’t have any problem following any of the steps or learning any of the techniques. I did make it a point to follow every single instruction in this pattern as written, in order to get the best results (this is not something I have generally done in the past, but I have changed my ways and have chosen to trust the pattern writer now!), which definitely paid off. This sweater is one of my best makes yet!

I made the size 35 3/4, and as you can see the sweater is quite loose on me (my bust is 32″) but not overwhelming.

Martine Sweater - back

Martine Sweater - back

Martine Sweater - side

Martine Sweater - side

The only part of the pattern that I did not follow was the suggested yarn – I stuck with a cotton, but used Quince & Co. Willet. This was mainly due to cost – the suggested yarn (Shibui knits) is expensive, while Quince is much more economical. Add in that I work at a shop that carries Quince & Co., which means I get a discount – and not only that, but I took advantage of our “employee layaway plan” (meaning I grabbed all the skeins I required and put them in my box in the back room, then just paid for each skein as I needed it haha). So yeah, I went with Quince! My coworker Hannah, who is as big a yarn snob as I am a fabric snob, assured me it was a suitable substitute for the Shibui. I haven’t seen the Shibui in person, but man, I LOVE this Willet!

I knit a few test swatches before casting on – surprisingly, I got gauge with the suggested needle size (this NEVER happens with me, I always have to go down at least 2 needle sizes because I tend to knit so loose), but my row gauge was way, way off. Going down a needle size only messed up my width gauge, and barely budged the row. Row gauge isn’t always super critical, but it is when dealing with raglans – and as someone who already has a pretty small armscye, I don’t want any extra room there! So I math’d that shit out, and took a few rows off the raglan shaping to compensate for a larger row gauge. I wasn’t sure if it would even totally worth until I was finished with the front piece – but it totally did, thank god! Unfortunately, I didn’t think to adjust the row gauge for the rest of my sweater, so it’s a bit longer than it should be. Which is fine, we are gonna call that “cozy.”

Martine Sweater - front

I named my sweater “Carrie” because I knit the majority of this while watching Sex and the City. I don’t remember why I started watching that show this year, but once I did – I was hooked. Ugh y’all it’s embarrassing how relevant every character and situation is to a single woman in her 30s haha. I recall trying to watch it as a 20 year old, and thinking I identified the most with Samantha (no, 20 year old Lauren, you don’t) but also really not getting it. I get it now. And also, I definitely identify the most with Miranda these days, who is arguably both the most annoying and boring of all those women. Oh well. Welcome to your 30s I guess haha.

Anyway, I blasted through the entire series while happily knitting away at this sweater. I knit the front and back separately, blocking each one after it was finished. For the sleeves, I cast those both on at the same time and knit them 2 at a time until I got to the raglan shaping, then transferred one sleeve to waste yarn so I could knit them separately (the raglan shaping differs on the front vs the back, so the sleeves are not identical – they are mirror images). I didn’t want to risk Second Sleeve Syndrome, and I’m glad I did this! After I finished the first sleeve, there was only raglan shaping remaining for the second sleeve – not the whole thing 🙂 Finally, blocked the sleeves, seamed the whole thing together, and knit the neckband.

Martine Sweater - neckband

The neckband on this sweater is funny – it’s knit in the round after the sweater is assembled, and you don’t actually bind it off. Instead, the band is folded to the inside and the live stitches are sewn down. I’ve never seen a neckband like this, but I admit that it looked polished as fuck and feels nice and sturdy. I like that!

Martine Sweater - texture

Here’s a close-up of the texture! It’s not a moss stitch (which is what everyone asks), it’s a double knotted stitch. You purl 2 stitches together, then knit the same two stitches together. It’s easy enough so that you can do other things (like talk, or watch Sex and the City) while knitting, but interesting enough so that I didn’t feel like passing out or anything.

Martine Sweater- seaming!

Here’s my seaming! My finger is pointing to the seamline – it’s barely visible from the outside! The pieces are worked with a 1 stitch selvedge, which made seaming sooo much easier. My coworker Amanda (yes, I knit a lot of this while sitting behind the counter at Craft South haha) taught me how to seam, and I was surprised at how much I loved doing it! I always thought I’d hate it since that’s something a lot of knitters complain about, but man, I like hand sewing too so it shouldn’t surprise me that I would love seaming as well. I actually had to seam this twice – when I got to the last raglan, I realized I had seamed them on the wrong sides somehow. Whoops! So I just consider the second round more practice, ha 🙂

Martine Sweater - front

The ONE downside to this sweater is the fact that is it cotton – so it stretches and grows when I wear it! Which means it is basically a very short dress by the end of the day. Kind of a bummer, but the good news is that it snaps right back into shape when I throw it in the washer and dryer. I don’t even block it out – the dryer shrinks it up perfectly. It’s super easy care, but not really ideal for traveling as I basically have to wash it every single time I wear it. These photos were taken after a couple months of wearing + washing, so you can see how the yarn has held up. Cotton is pretty sturdy!

While I did say this sweater is one of my best makes, it’s certainly not perfect – there are visible inconsistencies with the row gauge, and I need to fix one of the raglan seams because it appears to have stretched out a bit, oh, and there’s a tiny hole between the collar and body of the sweater where I forgot to pick up a stitch (but TBH I probably won’t fix that one because I use it to determine which side is the front lol), but you know what? I gave this one my best efforts, I ripped out all my mistakes, I learned SO MUCH new shit, and I had a blast knitting it. If that doesn’t count as one of the best, I don’t know what does.

That’s all for this one! Full Ravelry notes are here.

Completed: Black + Grey Flannel Archer

3 Nov

IT’S FLANNEL SEASON AGAIN, Y’ALL.

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

I don’t like the cold – like, at all – but I do love the clothes that are associated with this season. Layers, textured fabrics, WOOL, dark colors and jewel tones… gimmie all of it. Flannel button-ups are at the top of my list. I love that they can be worn solo and buttoned up, layered under a sweater, or layered over a tank or tshirt and left to swing free in the breeze. Snaps at the cuffs make it easy to roll the sleeves up, snaps at the button band make it possible to Hulk out at the end of the day (don’t pretend like you don’t do this with snap-up shirts, you liar).

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

I have a few handmade plaid flannel shirts, all of which I love to wear, so I put a short hold on adding to that stash. I finally allowed myself this year to make 2 more – both out of plaid cotton flannel from Mood Fabrics. This is the first of the two. I haven’t taken photos of the second one yet, but rest assured – it’s almost the exact same as this one, just a different colorway. Because if I am anything, I am consistent haha.

As I said, this is the Archer button up from Grainline Studio. I’ve made this shirt a lot, so there’s not a lot to elaborate on here, just a few small changes. I sewed view A with the angled cuffs, swapped out the included placket for a tower placket (I use the placket from the Negroni pattern, but this placket download from Threads is basically the same thing).

Sizing-wise, I cut a size 0 (which is the size I pretty much always sew with Grainline). One thing I did change with this pattern was to increase the seam allowances at the side and sleeve seams to 5/8″ – the included seam allowances are 1/2″, and I actually sew them at 5/8″ since I like to flat-fell those seams. I’ve noticed that my shirts are pulling ever-so-slightly at the bust now (told ya I’ve gained some weight. And also an entire cup size, ughhhhh), so I added in that extra 1/8″ and the fit is much better now!

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

I cut my fabric on the single layer to get the plaid all matched up (see here for my plaid-matching tips!), and cut the outer yoke and pockets on the bias. I originally had the pockets cut to match the plaid at the front, but they matched so well they basically disappeared, and I wasn’t crazy about that look. So I re-cut them and I think they look much better!

As I mentioned, all seams are flat-felled so there is a nice clean finish on the inside. I used a super lightweight interfacing so that everything would stay nice and soft – I didn’t want a stiff button placket in contrast to the otherwise floppy fabric. Everything is topstitched in black, and I used black snaps for closures.

My cotton flannel was found at the Mood Fabrics store in NYC, back in August. I had a hankering for a new flannel, and I wanted one that was soft and lightweight, like it had already been worn to death. I found this and another similar flannel in a different colorway, both of which work perfectly with the color palette that my closet has ended up morphing into. Since flannel tends to shrink up quite a bit, I washed and dried my fabric three times before cutting into it. I kept the sleeves slightly on the long side, again, in case they decide to shrink up (my first flannel shirt has quite short sleeves now!).

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

I think that’s all I can say about this make! I’ve already worn it loads and I look forward to some hardcore layering here in the next few months 😀

A couple other things of note:
1. Yes, I made my jeans! They are Gingers that I made with veeeeery stretchy twill fabric (like, they are almost jeggings haha I love them). Just some basic black pants that don’t necessarily warrant a whole post. However, here’s a shot of the butt (and my new belt) (and this shirt, too, apparently lol)
2. Yes, that’s a new hair color! After a REALLY long time (for me anyway haha) with the same color, I decided I was ready for a change! I love the new color so much!

Plaid Cotton Flannel Archer

** Note: The fabrics used in this post were provided by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for participation in the Mood Sewing Network.