Tag Archives: megan nielsen

Completed: The Brumby Skirt

29 May

Raise your hand if you love Megan Nielsen and are excited about her return to printed patterns and the release of her new sewing app. All I can say is – YAAAAY!!!

Brumby Skirt

To celebrate these big launches, Megan also dropped a new pattern into the mix – the Brumby skirt. She asked me a few weeks ago if I’d like to try out/review the new pattern – as well as the app – and considering I’d been stalking this pattern for well over a year (it’s not too hard, since she kept posting teasers of it on Instagram!), I was all YAAASSS. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish the skirt – let alone post about it – before I leave for my trip next week, but curiosity got the better of me and I found myself dedicating an afternoon to Brumby Heaven.

Brumby Skirt

Brumby is a simple little gathered skirt pattern, with a couple special details to make it stand a step above your basic DIY-drafted-dirndl. For one, there’s those pockets. How good are those pockets?! They are nice and deep, and what really pleases me about them is how they kind of stick out away from the skirt and give it this interesting shape. The instructions also include how to insert an exposed zipper – which, honestly, I didn’t realize there was actually a specific method on how to do this. These instructions give you a nice clean finish and a strong zipper.

The skirt has a curved waistband with side seams, as well as options for varying amounts of fullness in the gathers and different hem lengths.

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

What I’ve always loved about Megan’s patterns is that there isn’t necessarily anything ground-breaking about the designs – it’s clean and simple design, the building blocks of your wardrobe, to be made in a myriad of different fabrics. There are special details to make the pattern stand out above all the other similar ones available on the market – such as the curved hi-lo hem of the Briar tshirt, or the floaty circle skirt of the Tania culottes, or even the awesome pockets in this skirt. The directions are clearly laid out so that even the earliest beginner can manage them, but they also lend themselves well to customization so even an advanced sewer can find joy in making them up.

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

To make my Brumby, I cut the size XS and sewed up Version 1. This version has less gathers and is intended for heavier fabrics, however, I used a pretty lightweight fabric in it’s place. I’m not a huge fan of gathers at my waist – I think they add bulk in weird spots and just don’t look very good on me – but I thought the wide waistband combined with less gathers in a lighter fabric would probably work. And I think it does! My fabric is a total stash-bust, leftover chambray that I used to make this shirt last year. I bought it locally here in Nashville at The Fabric Studio, and I’ve been hanging onto the remaining yardage because I wanted to make a floaty little summer skirt with it. It’s *very* lightweight chambray – like, voile lightweight. It’s borderline sheer – with my button up, I have to wear a nude bra or you can see everything underneath haha. Anyway, it has a lovely sheen and a nice drape and it’s soooo good to sew. Making it up into this skirt was a good idea. Sorry if it’s a little wrinkled – these photos were taken after a day of wearing it.

Oh! And I also made that top – it’s my very first Butterick 5526. I hated the length of the sleeves and never wore it, so I finally just cut them off and finished the raw edges with bias facing. Much more wearable now!

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

Back to Brumby! I knew I wanted topstitching, but chambray is notoriously hard to thread-match, and I didn’t want my topstitching to be the first thing you noticed when you saw the skirt. I actually ended up using denim thread to topstitch this – a lightweight denim thread, but denim thread nonetheless. It’s that weird blue/navy Gutterman thread that they sell with the denim thread. The variances in color were good enough that they went well with the blues in the fabric, and they contrast nicely but they don’t really stand out. The thread is light enough so it doesn’t make the topstitched areas hang weird, so that is nice. I used white all-purposed thread in the bobbin which also probably helped.

The topstitching goes all over the skirt – down the center front, down the side seams, around the pockets, across the hem, all around the waistband, and of course, holding the zipper into place. I wanted to offset the delicate, floaty fabric with a some casual construction, and this is it! All seams are topstitched at 1/4″. I just eyeballed it on my machine, but I think I’m pretty certain I want a 1/4″ foot next time I go to the Bernina store. Feeeeeeet♥

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

I am really happy with how nicely the zipper went in! Like I said, there are directions in the pattern for getting a good exposed zip – and I totally didn’t realize there’s a method to doing this. I put an exposed zip in one of my tops last year (and I totally thought about wearing that top with this skirt, peplum tucked in, but ughh it won’t work because there are 2 exposed zippers and they’re different metals and wah), but that was really a matter of pressing seam allowances back and topstitching the zipper in. Poor peplum top, didn’t even have a damn chance.

Brumby Skirt

I will be totally honest here and tell you that I tried the skirt on about 3/4 of the way through construction (after attaching the waistband, but before I put in the zipper) and I was COMPLETELY underwhelmed with how it looked on me. In fact, underwhelmed is too nice of a word – I hated it! It was extremely unflattering and the length made me look dumpy. Part of that was because the waistband was a little bit too big – big enough to slide around and not sit into place, and make me look wider than I am. I did some quick waistband surgery to remove about 1/4″ total from the side seams, and then I took another 1/4″ out of the zipper seams when I was inserting it. That was enough to make the waistband fitted, but not so fitted that it’s uncomfortable.

The length was another issue – I just don’t do midis, and while I did cut the pattern for the mini, there’s a huge-ass hem included so it was really long before that got turned up. I know midis are ~in~ right now, and you can tell me all you want that they might even be flattering on me – but I’m all legs when it comes to skirt length and I just.can’t.do.it. Honestly, I didn’t really love this skirt on me until the hem was turned up and topstitched into place – and then I was twirling around my sewing room in excitement like a big dork. It’s funny how much the hem can affect how something looks. Anyway, that’s a big part of the reason why my hem is serged and topstitched – I wasn’t if I’d love the finished skirt, so didn’t want to spend tooo much time on the last steps. At any rate, the serging matches the rest of the guts so whatev.

Birthday Brumby!

Sooo in the end, I loved the finished skirt so much that I wore it for my last hurrah of my 20s. Notes about this picture:
– That’s not what you think it is in my hand. It’s hot chicken.
– I love Giorgia Tsoukalos.
– And America.
– And also aliens.
– My coworkers at Elizabth Suzann are awesome and know how to throw (me)the best parties.

Megan Nielsen app

Before I jump off here, let’s talk about the Megan Nielsen Patterns app!

I will admit – other than my love for sewing blogs, I’m a bit of a paper girl when it comes to sewing media. I like paper patterns and I like having hard copies of the instructions that I can scribble notes (and mustaches) all over. While I think this app is a completely brilliant idea and may very well be the future of sewing patterns – I wasn’t sure if it would actually be useful to me (I’m old-fashioned in that sense, and I’m ok with it). However, I was willing to try it. For science. Also, it’s a free app soooo it’s not like I had anything to lose if I ended up hating it.

Megan Nielsen app

Megan Nielsen app

The main drive behind the app is basically digitizing the instructions you get with your pattern (paper or PDF). Everything from the required materials, to the cutting layouts, to each step of the instructions (cataloged in a way that’s easy to get straight to the section you need, instead of relying on the Endless Scroll) is included in the app. There are also options within the app (and each individual pattern) to view other people’s makes of this pattern, customization suggestions, and links to the tutorials that may be useful while constructing the garment.

Megan Nielsen app

While I probably won’t switch out my paper instructions for digital (again, mustaches), I actually do find bits of this app useful! It’s SUPER handy to have when you’re shopping and need to reference a material’s list – in the past, I’d scribble everything down on paper (all right, I still do that. No shame!), but then you lose your paper, or you find that perfect fabric that doesn’t go with anything on your “make” list, or you forget that you also needed a zipper. I love the tutorial links, as I do use a computer to look up things while I’m sewing – but more often than not, I end up spiraling down this long internet rabbit hole, where I click on links on links on links and then I forget that I was sewing! Lame! So it’s nice to have a direct link in the app, where I can go straight to the tutorial, get the info I need, and get back to the task at hand. Another thing I love about the app is that you can access any tutorial/instructions for any pattern that you own – which is awesome for when I’m using a Megan Nielsen step in a different pattern, such as stealing her Briar neckline binding for my traced tshirts. In the past, I’d just pull the paper instructions out – but I’m always afraid I’m going to lazy out and forget to put them away and eventually lose them (I mean, it must happen – I think about all those vintage patterns we buy that have the wrong instructions or extra pattern pieces in them. Yep!). With the app, everything is in one place and I can quickly find it. So I like that!

And there are notes sections in the app, for scribbling, but no places that I see where you can doodle on the croquis faces.

Anyway, you can read more about the app in this post and download it in the iTunes store FOR FREE. Those of y’all on Andriods – it’s coming! Don’t worry!

Brumby Skirt

In other news, thanks for all your tips on dealing with my caffeine withdrawals! I am happy to report that I was feeling MUCH better yesterday – no more weird body aches, no more tiredness. I found some great uncaffeinated teas and I only miss coffee the tiniest bit now 🙂 To those of y’all who suggested that I drink decaf – I’m not opposed to decaf (and I drank about a cup a day while weaning off the hardcore stuff), but it does have trace amounts of caffeine in it, and my whole goal was to eliminate the stuff 100%. Mostly to see if I could 😛

*Note: Megan Nielsen provided this pattern to me free of charge, in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own!

Completed: Butterick 4066

5 Sep

Ummmm so this may or may not be the third garment I’ve posted this week that is made of rayon challis.

Butterick 4066

No shame.

Butterick 4066

These pictures are also horrifyingly bad and blown out, but… meh. We all know y’all don’t come here for the ~dazzling photography. Again: No shame.

Butterick 4066

I picked up this copy of Butterick 4066 while I was last at the flea market in July. The cover art is a little outdated (and not in a cool vintage way, but rather, I feel like I can probably smell my Mamaw’s house if I lean in too close. Wait, just kidding, my Mamaw’s house smells great. That shit probably smells like someone else’s Mamaw’s house, maybe), but the line drawings looked promising enough – almost like the Kelly skirt and Hollyburn skirt had a secret affair that ended up with a little love child.

Butterick 4066

It’s hard to see, thanks to my terrible photos, but the skirt has pockets, a smooth A-line shape with no darts or tucks, and buttons down the front. I used this shameless 90s black floral rayon challis from Fashion Fabrics Club, as I knew the shape would look great with a drapey fabric (just like my Crazy Paisley Hollburn).

Butterick 4066

My skirt pattern was just a smidge too big (not the fault of the pattern itself – my copy is a size too big, since we don’t normally get to be choosy when it comes to buying vintage patterns!), but that was easily fixed by taking in the side seams before attaching the waistband. The big challenge was cutting off length – a LOT of length. Even after I’d shortened the shortest version of the pattern tissue by a good 6″, I had to go back after making the skirt and hack off another 4″! Shortening the length did wonders for the overall look of the finished skirt – before, it was pretty dowdy and outdated looking (mostly due to fabric choice, I mean – we are talking about the 90s here), but I think it looks pretty cute now! Shorter skirts FTW!

Butterick 4066
Butterick 4066

I finished the seams with my serger and used these pretty black and gold buttons that I had lurking in my stash.

Butterick 4066

I love how the finished skirt turned out – and I think it’ll transition really nicely for our “fall”**, since it’s so cool and lightweight, but still has those nice dark fall/winter colors. That being said, it’ll look great with tights and a sweater, too 🙂 (maybe with a silk slip, though! It’s not very warm!) I’m interested to try pairing this print with black and white stripes – I can imagine it in my head, but until I start sewing up the striped knits I got while I was in Mood last month, your guess is as good as mine.

** Tennessee Fall: Beyond gorgeously colorful (visiting Tennessee in the fall should be on every single one of y’alls bucket lists), but still blazing hot and, yes, we absolutely make fun of those dumbasses who insist on wearing wool caps and jeans tucked into tall boots while marinating in giant pools of sweat. I mean, COME ON LADY, it’s 90* outside FFS! You aren’t fooling anyone!

One last thing – Giveaway Winner! Lucky number is…

winner1

winner2

Congratulations, Sue Martin! I love your method of sneaky inspiration by way of shop dressing rooms – something I’m too chicken to do myself (I got major stink-eye once while manhandling a rack of dresses in Buckle and I’m kind of traumatized now haha). As far as adding hours in the day – well, let me know when you figure it out! 🙂 haha!

Thanks to everyone to entered the giveaway – and thanks to Laurence King for providing us with a copy to giveaway! Friends, if you’d like to buy your own copy of Casual Sweet Clothes, use the code LLADYBIRD35 to get 35% off! The code is good through 10/1/14 🙂

Completed: A Jumpsuit, of sorts

3 Sep

A couple of months ago, I was asked by the ladies at By Hand London if I’d like to test their new Holly Jumpsuit. I’m always a sucker for these gorgeous patterns, but then they went and threw in an offer of testing-fabric from Grey’s Fabric to really seal the deal. Consider me sold, name signed in blood and all (forreal, though, I’ll do anything for love free fabric).

Holly/Tania Mash-up

I finished with good time, sent my testing notes in, and took some photos (I could pretend my hair grew like that overnight, but in reality, these photos are just that old. Haha!). And then I waited. And waited. Right before the pattern was to be released, there was a design snafu that meant the pattern had to be reworked, which set things back by… well, a lot. Fortunately, the kinks have been worked out and the pattern is now officially for sale! Which means I can finally show you mine! Yay!

Holly/Tania Mash-up
Holly/Tania Mash-up

You may have noticed by now that my jumpsuit* looks nothing like the pattern – and you would be right. That’s because at this point, no part of my jumpsuit is actually part of the pattern! Whoops!

Holly/Tania Mash-up

However, it is still technically a jumpsuit (right? The two-separate-holes-for-each-leg dictate that… right?), so there’s that.

Holly/Tania Mash-up

There’s a method to this madness, I promise. As a pattern tester, I always make my first version (usually a muslin), exactly as drafted and written by the pattern. After I have taken my (usually very unflattering)photos and made my fitting adjustments, I will transfer those adjustments to the pattern and make it up in my fashion fabric (if not a second muslin entirely). I started out with the shorts and Variation 2 bodice, which was surprisingly a pretty good fit straight out of the envelope. The butt of the shorts was a little tight (it is my understanding that this ended up being a grading error that has since been amended), and I needed to shorten the straps – but overall, things were looking good. It wasn’t until I had made this up in my beautiful rayon challis – i.e., the good stuff – that I realized the entire ensemble just made me look like a giant toddler. Especially when combined with this fabric – while beautiful, it’s pretty juvenile looking. Eep!

After some chatting with the BHL ladies, we ultimately decided that it would be a shame to sew something I’d never wear (and I know I occasionally wear some out-there ensembles, but again, looking like a giant toddler is NOT one of them) , so I was given the green light to swap out the bottoms for another pattern. Specifically, I chose the Tania Culottes because FUCK YES I DID.

After that, things went haywire in the design department and my tested version of the bodice ended up getting scrapped and redesigned. Which means my tested Holly jumpsuit is now basically anything BUT Holly! Oh well! I tried!

Holly/Tania Mash-up
Holly/Tania Mash-up

Anyway, let’s talk about the construction of this jumpsuit. To combine the bodice with the Tania culottes, I added a 2″ wide straight waistband (interfaced on one layer, and faced with self-fabric on the inside) that connects the bodice to the skirt. Ideally, I would have shortened the bodice and raised the rise of the culottes, as I think the waistband sits a little low, but that’s life. The Tanias are sewn as normal, just without a waistband.

Holly/Tania Mash-up

All edges were finished with my serger and I used my rolled hem foot to make the prettiest little baby hem.

Holly/Tania Mash-up

The end result is a sweet little flouncy tank dress that has an amazing twirl factor – and thanks to the culottes, is less likely to fly up and flash any innocent bystanders.

Holly/Tania Mash-up

As I previously mentioned, my beautiful rayon challis came courtesy of Grey’s Fabric, specifically to be used to test this pattern. I just love the smooth silhouette and fluid drape that comes with rayon challis – not to mention, it’s ridiculously comfortable to wear in the heat. Rayon loves to wrinkle like crazy and this fabric is no exception, but at least the busy print and voluminous skirt hide most of that.

Holly/Tania Mash-up

Anyway, despite my design changes+unexpected pattern snafu changing things to the point that my tested pattern ended up being something completely different, I am happy with said end result – not to mention, it’s absolutely something I would wear (and have worn! Lots!). Again – if you plan on buying this pattern, please keep in mind that absolutely nothing about my version matches what is included in the final pattern – although it would be pretty easy to Frankenpattern this one with a couple indies.

What do you think of the Holly Jumpsuit? Are you Team Jumpsuit – craving dangly earrings, sparkly eyeshadow, and a Studio 54 vibe (I mean, ugh, that new Variation 2 bodice is KILLER, ain’t it?)? Or do you feel like an overgrown toddler who would prefer to stick with dresses and two pieces, thank you very much?

* I think the leg-shorts mean this thing is actually a romper or a playsuit, not a jumpsuit. However, the thought of saying that I’m wearing a playsuit makes me feel, again, like an overgrown toddler, so fuck that. I’m calling it a jumpsuit, as that sounds a lot more grown-up. My blog, my sewing, my rules 😛

In other news-
1. The new class schedule is up at The Fabric Studio! Lots of fun classes coming up – including an Open Sewing Lab hosted by yours truly! Those of y’all in Nashville can come hang out in the studio to sew and drink tea with other crafty peeps 🙂 I’ll be on hand to answer questions and assist as needed. This is a great alternative to a structured class since you can work on whatever you want, come whenever is convenient for you, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a private lesson 🙂 Check out the classes page to sign up (my class is at the bottom). I am REALLY excited for this; I love sewing with company! Yay!

2. Don’t forget that the Casual Sweet Clothes giveaway ends on Friday! If you haven’t already entered, here’s your hint 🙂