Tag Archives: piping

Completed: My Maid of Honor Dress

18 Aug

Here’s a fun fact about me: I have never been a bridesmaid before. Never! I would almost say I’ve never been in a wedding at all, but I did get to carry the bride’s train in a wedding when I was really young (I think 8 – it was for my mom’s best friend). Is that a bridesmaid? I don’t know, let’s not get nitpicky here. My point being – I’ve never, as an adult, had a friend get married and ask me to be in their wedding. I think it’s kind of a rite of passage for most women at some point – but I’m not complaining, because I am not keen on spending $$$ on a dress I’ll never wear again!!

Anyway, that’s a moot point now because I was just officially in my first wedding last month! My very best friend in the entire world – my BFF, my life partner, and my favorite person everrrrr – was married in July and asked me to stand with her during the ceremony as her Maid of Honor. The bride, Morgan, is a really laid-back person and wanted a laid-back wedding – so I didn’t need to buy an expensive formal dress, or plan a ~cRaZy~ Bachelorette party (sidenote: did you know Nashville is now officially the #1 destination in the world for bachelorette parties? Yeah. And it’s awful. If you’re thinking about coming here and ~getting wild~, please don’t.) or anything like that. It was a small wedding – the bridal party consisted of me + the best man – held in their backyard, with a short ceremony and lots of food, alcohol, and dancing. There wasn’t even a “theme” or particular colors for this – which meant I had a lot of creative freedom when it came to choosing what I was going to wear. Which, of course, I wanted to be handmade by me!

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Since the wedding was going to be outdoors in July, this limited me to only looking at natural fibers (y’all can defend polyester all you want, but this sweaty gal is not gonna wear that shit under the July sun in Tennessee at 5p girl bye) – I needed something lightweight and breathable. The only thing Morgan said she cared about design-wise was 1. That the dress was not white (obviously); 2. That it had a light, neutral background; 3. That it had some kind of floral design that wasn’t super bright. Finding a fabric that matched this description was surprisingly hard – most floral designs are either really bright, or on a dark background. Or they were polyester! I probably spent an entire month just combing through every fabric website I could think of, and coming up short and a little desperate.

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

I actually found this fabric at the shop I work at, Craft South! It’s a 100% cotton barkcloth from the Outback Wife collection. We had a ton of colorways, and while I admired them when they came in the shop – I didn’t buy any because florals really are not much my thing these days. I love looking at them, but I don’t really like to wear them. That being said, this particular colorway was perfect for the wedding – the fiber content was right, Morgan loved the colors and florals, and I got that sweet employee discount on it (yay!). I bought the last of the yardage (sorry!), but we still have the dark colorway in stock FYI! And here’s the same colorway I used in some random Etsy shop, too!

This barkcloth is a little stiff on the roll, so I prewashed a swatch to see what would happen. It ended up softening quite a bit and getting a nice little drape, although it is very prone to unraveling. I prewashed the entire yardage (cold wash, regular heat in the dryer) and set it aside while I could locate a pattern.

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Finding a pattern also took foreeeever! I didn’t know exactly what I wanted in a dress – since the fabric had some structure to it, it couldn’t be a really swingy/draped design. I wanted a loose skirt (so I could move about freely during the evening) and no sleeves (sun’s out, gun’s out amirite lol). I ended up finding just the thing in Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book – which I had won ages ago in a giveaway and hadn’t actually made anything out of yet! This pattern is the Floral Surplice Dress – which features a crossed over bodice, a separate midriff piece, and a side-pleated skirt. Done and done.

A few notes about this book – the pattern pieces are overlapped all over one another (like a BurdaStyle pattern), which means you have to trace them. The first half of the book goes into detail about fabrics, seam finishes, special techniques, and fitting – and then the patterns themselves have very brief instructions on how to put them together (assuming that you would flip back to the relevant section in the first half to get full instructions if you need them). I like this sort of layout as I don’t need the hand-holding, and appreciate just having a list of ordered steps. Finally, the pieces are all designed to mix and match with one another – so you can swap out the skirt for a different one, or add sleeves, or whatever. I liked the design of this dress, though, so I stuck with the suggested pieces and finishing.

I did make a muslin before cutting into my fabric, as bodices like this tend to gape on me. I’m VERY glad I did this, because there is a big sizing error with the midriff piece! It’s about 2″ too small – even after measuring and walking the pattern pieces. I thought I was going crazy because Google wasn’t pulling up anything, until I saw in a forum where someone briefly mentioned it in passing. So I’m not crazy. And also, if you make this pattern – just know that the midriff piece will need to be adjusted to fit your waist (unless you’re in denial about your size and consistently pretend like your waist is 2″ bigger than it actually is, that’s your prerogative). I cut my muslin to the biggest size, then added 1″ seam allowances, and fiddled around with it until I could get it to fit the bottom edge of the bodice (the bodice is graded and sized correctly, as is the skirt waist. It is just the midriff that is incorrect). After I fit my bodice, I took the pieces apart and used them to make new pattern pieces, then made a second muslin bodice to verify that it all fit correctly.

As far as other adjustments, the only things I did was take a little 1/4″ wedge out of the neckline so it fit closer to my body (using this method), and I also shortened the skirt by about 2″.

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - front

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - back

Right after I cut out the pieces, I realized that the dress was going to look like a total clusterfuck unless I did something to highlight the seamlines. So I tailed it to Textile Fabrics and bought a pink linen/cotton blend to create piping (ideally, I would have loved a darker color that wasn’t pink – but this was the only thing they had that matched, and my options are very limited here in town). I added piping to the top edge of the neckline, and both sides of the waistband. This not only breaks up the seamlines so the dress doesn’t look like a hot mess, but also visually separates that neutral background a bit from my skin (which matches a little too close for comfort, in my opinion).

All that aside, the rest of the sewing was pretty easy and straightforward. I used a serger to finish all the seams, which I pressed open. The piping is topstitched with matching neutral thread, to help it lie flat. The zipper is a simple lapped zipper that is pick-stitched by hand. I also added hooks and eyes at the piping intersections in the back, again, to help them lie flat and stay closed. Didn’t want anyone creeping on my zipper! Finally, the hem is serged and blindstitched by hand.

Now, for the mistakes that I made! At one point, I did sew the midriff upside-down and didn’t realize until after I had finished applying the piping – serged and topstitched and everything. I tried to convince myself that it was ok, but honestly one of my favorite parts of the dress design is how the side seams curve down at the midriff – and it didn’t look right when they were flipped the other way. Oh, and it didn’t fit right, either! It was not fun to unpick that mess and re-sew with teeny serged-off seam allowances, but I’m glad I did it. I also originally inserted an invisible zipper, but it was toooo hard to zip up due to the bulk at the intersecting back seams (with the piping). I had visions of the zipper breaking while I was at the wedding, and didn’t want to put myself through that mess. So I unpicked, and added the lapped zipper – which is much easier to zip and unzip!

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice front

Omg, I’m like nowhere near done with showing pictures. I’m sorry.

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice side

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice back

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - zipper detail

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice flat

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice back flat

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice interior

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - hem detail

Whew! So that’s a big ol’ post for a big ol’ project! The dress ended up being perfect for the occasion – I matched the aesthetic of the wedding, I was comfortable, and I had room to eat and dance! I am also pleased with myself for remembering to add pockets – those were super handy for carrying things like my sunglasses and hankies for when we started crying! It was a fabulous wedding and I’m so honored that I was able to stand up there with my best friend and be a part of such an important day.

I am going to leave y’all with some photos from the wedding, if you feel like creeping! All photos were taken by Lilika Strezoska, who is based out of Macedonia but came to the US to shoot this wedding. Lilika did an incredible job capturing everyone in a beautiful and candid way – I have really loved looking through all the photos!

Morgan's Wedding!

The ceremony. That giant cloud of a dog is Bootes, who absolutely had to be nearby.

Morgan's Wedding!

Here we are looking nice and like adults.

Morgan's Wedding!

And here we are jumping. Also, I would like to point out that this shot actually captured my shoe flying off hahaha.

Morgan's Wedding!

With my bestie! ❤ (she had her dress custom made by a seller on Etsy, I am not sure who the seller is though!)

Morgan's Wedding!

Here we are giggling together and having a BFF moment.

Morgan's Wedding!

And, finally, this is me carrying the Marriage Certificate over to be signed! I was so excited!

Ok, that’s all! Thanks for sticking around for this exceptionally long post 🙂

Completed: Linen Carolyn Pajamas

27 Apr

Let’s start this post with the shocker: I don’t really care for linen.

Carolyn Pajamas

I know, I know. Linen is supposed to be a rite of passage for Southern gals – it’s cool and breathable, and the wrinkles are supposed to be there. Well, I HATE the wrinkles! Wrinkly fabric drives me insane, makes me feel rumply and unkempt. I just can’t get behind a fabric that wants to wrinkle the second I look at it, much less wear it around for a few hours. Nope nope nope.


That being said – I really want to like linen. Seriously! I love the idea of a fabric that gets softer with every wash, and as someone who could probably work up a sweat in the middle of the Arctic (I don’t even know how that’s possible, considering that I’m ALWAYS cold, but leave it to my body to fuck up my heating and cooling system), I’m always on the hunt for light and breathable fabric to wear during the summer months. Linen was my nemesis, but I was willing to extend the olive branch and make an effort at friendship.

Also, I’ve been eyeballing that striped linen fabric for months now at the studio (and probably for more months to come, since stripes just launched at Elizabeth Suzann woohoo!), and I knew it needed to be in my life/on my body. Linen wrinkles be dammed.

Carolyn Pajamas

There are many, many, many important things I’ve learned through my sewing journey. One of the biggest ones (well, other than not sewing over your pins. STOP THAT RIGHT NOW) is not to fight against your fabric. If your fabric is drapey, don’t try to sew something form-fitting with it. Alternatively, fabric with a lot of body needs to be made into something that will work with the shape. And if you are sewing linen but still hating on the wrinkles… make pajamas. No one cares if your pajamas are wrinkled (and if they do – get out. Get out right now while you still can).

Also, have you slept in linen pajamas before? LORD HAVE MERCY.

Carolyn Pajamas

Making proper pajamas has been on my sewing to-do list for aaaages. I love wearing matching pajamas sets, even if Landon does think they are dorky (I did compromise and get rid of the hot pink cat pajamas though. Relationships, man!). My mom actually buys me a new pajama set from Victoria’s Secret every year for Christmas (not the hot pink cats, those came from my AWESOME Mamaw). Still, I’ve always wanted to make my own so I could have – what else? – complete control over every aspect of the design, color, and fit. But I’ve never really found a suitable pajama pattern that didn’t look like something more appropriate for an 8 year old boy, so I held off on that dream.

The winning pattern you see here is the newest pattern from Closet Case Files, the Carolyn Pajamas. I looooooved this pattern the second it graced my inbox – the slim, feminine cut of both the top and bottoms, as well as the inclusion of the piping (I mean, I know how to sew piping, but it’s pretty nice to have a pattern that was designed for optional piping, if you get my drift), were what really got my gears turning. Also, Heather Lou looks amazing in those product photos, doesn’t she? I could steal that hair right off her head. I won’t, but should it ever go missing, well…

Carolyn Pajamas

I really enjoyed sewing this pattern! While I wouldn’t exactly call the linen easy to work with (it was a shifty little bitch and was prone to constant fraying), it did respond beautifully to pressing and took all the piping and topstitching like a champ. I recall when Heather Lou first released this pattern, she mentioned how much she labored over the instructions – and it really shows. Everything is very clearly laid out with beautiful little diagrams and helpful tips, and it’s about as hand-holdy as you can get with a pattern without actually having it be part of a sewalong (there’s no sewalong for this pattern, however, there are a few posts on the CCF website to guide you through the trickier steps if you need it!). I’m especially impressed with how nice my collar turned out – piping and all!

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

I made the size 2, based on my measurements and following Heather Lou’s advice. I reeeeally wanted to make the 0 because the ease just seemed excessive, but I’m glad I followed along faithfully because this fit is pretty spot-on. It’s sleek and somewhat fitted (I mean, fitted as far as pajamas are concerned), but there’s juust enough ease to make them super comfy. I did trim about 2″ off the legs, but that’s about it. I feel like there could be some tweaking with the armhole – it seems a bit low and pulls when I reach forward – but that may just be because I’m used to wear shirts that are a lot more tailored. It’s not uncomfortable or restrictive by any means.

I chose to make the long pants with the short-sleeved top. I was originally just going to make shorts, but my new digs are in a basement (I mean, it’s a happy basement with windows and a door – but it’s still a basement, with basement chill), and it’s a bit chilly down here right now. I added piping to the pocket, cuffs, collar, and leg side seams. The piping is self-made – I used more of this glorious linen fabric in the opposite colorway, and cut bunches of bias strips and sewed it around yards of cording. I prefer self-made piping, not just for the color/print selection, but also because it tends to be a lot softer than the stuff you can buy (well, I’m sure you can get awesome soft and flexible piping at some place like in the Garment District, but here all we have is that Dritz stuff in the packages and that stuff is AWFUL if you try to sew it to a drapey fabric. Again – don’t fight the fabric!). I didn’t have wide enough elastic as was required by the pattern, so I sewed an extra line of stitching about 1/4″ away from the top of the pants edge and inserted the elastic below, resulting in a frilly little gathered edge (some of my RTW pjs have this feature and I’ve always loved it!). Here’s a post about elastic waistband finishes if that doesn’t make sense.

Carolyn Pajamas

As I mentioned, I got my fabric from Elizabeth Suzann, because I work there and I get awesome employee benefits like wholesale fabric prices (don’t be jealous). It’s striped 100% linen (I’ve seen similar fabrics to this rolling around on the internet, but most are referred to as a cotton/linen mix. The stuff I have here is definitely all linen) and it is GLORIOUS. It also wrinkles, frays, and shifts like crazy. It wasn’t the most amazing piece of fabric to work with, but I’m glad I powered through because it is pretty amazing to wear. I made sure to finish all my seam allowances with the serger to keep the fraying down (for the front facing, I just serged the edge instead of doing a rolled edge, since I thought the bulk would show through). I didn’t realize how sheer the fabric is, so some of the dark piping shows through on the right side. It’s super sheer and everyone is absolutely aware of the color of my underwear when I wear these pants, just so we’re clear (I’m wearing nude undies for these photos, to save your eyes). It’s also, like I said, super shifty – so my pocket is really wonky. I’m going to call it “charming.”

Detail shots:

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn Pajamas

Pretty good stuff! I love my new pajamas and I definitely feel like a Classy Adult when I wear them, wrinkles and all. I definitely want to make a flannel pair when winter rolls around – finally, I won’t be at the mercy of whatever pink shit they’re selling at VS, woohoo! Too bad my mom is going to have to find a new Christmas gift to buy for me. Sorry, mom! Maybe I’ll make you pajamas instead 😛

One last thing – the giveaway winner from last week! Random number generator says…



Woohoo, congratulations Kayse! I’ll be in touch to get that gift certificate out to you ASAP. Can’t wait to see what you make with your fabric :DDD

Carolyn PajamasFinally, this would be my senior picture, if I was still in high school and did things like senior pictures. The end.

completed: colette patterns rooibos

2 Aug

can you believe that i actually started this dress a little over a month ago? i got halfway through the construction – completed the bodice, basically – and then sadly put it aside to work on lladybird duds. i was so excited to finish it, i went straight home after the big event & had it completed in time to wear it that night! yay!
Continue reading

lladybird: more summer 2011

25 Jul

i actually don’t have much to show here. i’ve been in a sewing frenzy/rut for the past week, alternating between feeling like i work in a sweatshop & not wanting to even go near my sewing room. part of the problem is the mess – oh god the mess. i’m the kind of person who cleans up her workspace at the end of every day… and right now, there are piles everywhere. it’s awful, but i don’t have time to clean. and i should be packing this stuff up anyway. arghhh!!

okay, i’m done complaining! promise!

Continue reading

completed: colette’s ceylon dress

1 Apr

yay another one done!!

ceylon & fabric
ceylon by colette patterns

Continue reading

ceylon progress

23 Mar

i’ve been lurking the ceylon pattern for months now… finally gave in a couple weeks ago and bought a copy. i initially planned on making it up in some navy polka dot voile or lawn, but searching has turned to be fruitless so i settled on blue pin dot shirting fabric from fabric.com (you just wait… my first choice will suddenly be fruitful and multiply. gah.). i’ve already made a bit of progress on the dress so i thought i would share with y’all!

first off, i will point out that i didn’t bother to make a muslin and just started cutting directly into the fabric. i like to live dangerously sometimes.
Continue reading

vogue 9668: a labor of love

1 Mar

i am calling this dress a labor of love because i don’t think i’ve ever put so much time & patience into a casual sundress. what started out as a simple v2.0 pattern turned into an episode of how-difficult-can-i-make-this-project. i am, however, extremely happy with the end result!

so here’s where we left off:

Continue reading

vogue 9668 v2.0 – progress

22 Feb

i’ve been working on my second v9668, aka the summer version. what should have been a fairly straight-forward project (i mean, i JUST finished the first one pretty recently, so the construction is very fresh in my mind) has turned into a huge headache and a lot of wow-i-sure-made-this-as-difficult-as-possible-huh.

this is the fabric i’m using.
it’s a lovely stretch cotton with a touch of sateen. GORGEOUS.

Continue reading