Tag Archives: sewing

A Very Belated Tour of My Sewing Room

3 May

Hey! Remember when I moved last year and promised I’d share photos of my new sewing room? Well, we’re almost a year overdue – but I’m finally making good on that promise! Truth be told, I kept putting off the ~big reveal~ because there was a never-ending list of things that I wanted to change about the space – first I wanted a new ironing board cover, then I needed new lights over said ironing board, then I thought I’d wait until I got new sewing tables… like I said, never-ending! I have since realized two things:

1. The list of changes is going to be never-ending. That’s the nature of decorating. Once you’re happy with one thing, you want to tweak something else. Ok, maybe you don’t decorate that way – but I do! Keeps me on my toes, keeps that DIY spirit alive or whatever.
2. I decided to move in June (more on that in a minute!), so I better document this room before it becomes a maze of boxes! Argh!

Anyway, better late that never! I always have a studio in every place that I live, and I like to document these snapshots of my life, so I wanted to include this one on the blog as well πŸ™‚ If you’re interested in seeing my other sewing spaces from past homes, check out this tag πŸ™‚

LLADYBIRD Studio

Here is what you see when you first walk in! It’s an average sized room (11′ x 12′, which isn’t super tiny – but it makes for a small studio, especially when you have a giant cutting table in the middle of it!), so it was hard to get good shots of everything, but I tried!

If you’ve followed my blog for a while and are familiar with my former sewing spaces, you probably noticed that this room is super white! In the past, I’ve always had lots of color on my walls – which I love, especially when it’s turquoise! – but I ended up keeping this room white. The landlord and I had a bit of miscommunication about the painting – he agreed to paint it turquoise, I sent him swatches, he said he didn’t get the swatches, I agreed to just go with white (it was originally that horrible beige-y rental color that no one loves), figuring I’d repaint it myself if it bothered me. But I’ve really grown to love it, it’s so fresh and bright!

LLADYBIRD Studio

The view from the door to the sewing station. I love having a window at my sewing station, even if the bright light makes my photos look awful πŸ™‚

One of the things that I wanted to change about this room – and will change in my next studio – is to exchange those two sewing cabinets in favor of aΒ long worktable that I can roll back and forth at in my chair. I love my cabinets, but they aren’t practical with multiple machines (plus, I can’t use the knee lever with my Bernina! Boo!).

LLADYBIRD Studio

Starting next to the door, on the right-hand side of the room – is my desk (or as they love to say on MTV Cribs “where the magic happens”). Since I primarily work from home, it’s great to have a dedicated desk space where I can keep my computer and all my office and art supplies. I also blog from this desk, and sometimes it holds fabric + pattern overflow when I’m on a giant cutting binge πŸ˜‰

LLADYBIRD Studio

Next to the desk is my ironing station – yes, with a new ironing board cover (finally haha!). The lights over the ironing board are suspended on a cord that plugs into a power strip below. These lights provide two purposes: one, to give me more working light (despite how bright these photos are, the corners of the room are actually quite dark, so it needs a lot of light to be comfortable to work in!), and two, to let me know when the iron is on! I use a gravity feed iron that does not have auto shut off, so I keep it plugged into a power strip with lights above it. When the lights are on, I know the iron is also on!

The shades over the lights are Joxtorp shades from Ikea. They are cheap little cardboard things that I just spray painted a different color. Nothing fancy, but better than a bare bulb! I used paper lanterns in the past, but I lost one of them during the move and figured it was time for a change anyway!

LLADYBIRD Studio

Over the ironing boards, I keep my rulers and cork boards – one for inspiration and general things that make me happy, and one to plot out future projects.

LLADYBIRD Studio

LLADYBIRD Studio

My sewing machines and serger are against the wall opposite the doorway, right by that beautiful window! All my thread is on racks on the wall (serger thread by the serger, sewing machine thread by the sewing machine), and notions in the shelf above my sewing machine. Plus, my dressform!

LLADYBIRD Studio

LLADYBIRD Studio

LLADYBIRD Studio

Continuing toward the right, this wall has a full-length mirror and a few shelves. The floor shelves hold my sewing books and yarn stash (yeah, it all fits in ONE BASKET woohoo), and the wall shelves have bra making supplies and zippers. And also fake plants along the top, cos green stuff is pretty stuff. I also keep a big roll of craft paper on top of the floor shelves.

LLADYBIRD Studio

Next to the shelves is where I keep my printer (FYI there is nothing fun in those drawers – it’s all products and samples that I send out for my other job haha).

LLADYBIRD Studio

Finally, at the end of the room – next to the door – is the closet. Since this closet is really big (like 7′ wide) and didn’t have doors, I just stuck my entire fabric stash in there, shelf and all! The shelf fit in perfectly with some extra space on the sides, plus there is storage along the top closet shelf for all my sewing patterns. My apologies for the bare shelves – I’d already started packing my fabric at this point, and I wasn’t about to unpack it for one photo! Just imagine that those shelves are full of lovely, colorful fabric πŸ™‚ hah!

LLADYBIRD Studio

Since that shelf is about 5′ wide, there’s at least a foot of space on either end to store things. One end has my sewing machine cases and tracing paper (boring), but this end I stuck a tension rod so I can hang my working PDF patterns from! I can clip all the pieces and then hang them from the rod, and that way they don’t get folds before I have a chance to use them (PDF patterns that I’m not currently using are stored in a binder system – which I keep behind one of those doors in the big shelf).

Speaking of printing PDFs – I have started using a local printer to print copyshop versions, instead of cutting + taping a million pages together. My research in the past showed that places like Kinko’s charge about $10/page, which just crazy (especially if you are unfortunate enough to have a pattern with multiple pages!). I found a local printer who will print them for $2.18 per page, and holy shit y’all they are amazing. If you are in Nashville, check out CCAD Reprographics, seriously! If you’re not local, I think they will ship πŸ˜‰

LLADYBIRD Studio

This is on that time wall space between the door and the closet. The hook is good for hanging WIPs (or stuff that I need to do some alterations or repairs on), and I found that postcard at my local yarn store, Haus of Yarn!

LLADYBIRD Studio

LLADYBIRD Studio

The cutting table takes up the space in the middle of the room. On one end, I have a bar where I store my cutting tools. The boxes in the cubes hold silk scraps, leather scraps, Papercut Patterns + Vogue patterns (since they don’t fit in the comic book boxes with the rest of my patterns), and my dyeing stuff.

The opposite end of the table has some drawers where I keep a bunch of tools and interfacing scraps, and the binsΒ at the bottom hold swimsuit fabric and an enormous stash of zippers.

I love this cutting table! I “built” it out of two shelves and a tabletop – all stuff from Ikea – and put it on casters so I can easily roll it around if I need to (the casters also lock, so that shit will also stay put if I need it to). It’s a great size and height for cutting! For more information on how I built this, check out my former sewing room post.

LLADYBIRD Studio

What’s rad about this table, is that the middle is open and tall enough for me to roll this cart underneath, so I can easily pull it out when I need supplies (or shove it under the table when it’s in the way).

hellooooo
Hi!

So that’s my sewing room! I have really loved creating in this room – it’s such a lovely, bright space and it is really the perfect size for my needs. I’m going to miss this room (not to mention THAT CLOSET), but I’m so excited about my new place!

Oh, and more about that! I really love this apartment, and I have enjoyed living here this past year. However, one of my friends got me a great hook-up on an AMAZING house (seriously, look at how cute it is!), which I jumped at the opportunity. I am excited to have yard access again, a private driveway – and I’ll be walking distance to my part time gig at Craft South (not to mention, all the other cool stuff in that area!). The house was built in 1935, which means it is incredibly charming and has really really small closets πŸ™‚ I am seriously SO sick of moving (just thinking about my to-do list is giving me anxiety), but I know it will be worth it! My new sewing room is going to be a hair smaller than this one – it measured around 11′ x 11′ –Β which means I need a bit of an overhaul on my organization / storage (for example – taking advantage of all those drawers!). I am up for the challenge, though! I love decorating new studios haha πŸ™‚

Side note to my Nashville friends – if you are looking for an apartment, this one is available! Send me an email if you want more info πŸ™‚

LLADYBIRD Studio

OAL2015: The Winners!

3 Aug

Hey everyone! One more OAL post for this year πŸ™‚

OAL_Banner

This was my second year co-hosting the OAL with Andi Satterlund, and I think it’s safe to say that we both had a most excellent time! There was a great turnout of participants (61 outfits in the official Ravelry thread!) and I really enjoyed following along with everyone’s progress and lurking all those beautiful finished outfits! Thanks so much to everyone who joined in – whether you made a whole outfit, just sewed or knit one piece, or watched and cheered along from the sidelines. Y’all are the best! β™₯

While making an outfit is a pretty sweet deal in itself, Andi & I wanted to draw out the fun even more by offering prizes to 4 random winners who posted completed outfits in the thread. This year, we doubled up and have two sponsors who have generously donated prizes, so I’d like to take a minute and acknowledge them! The first sponsor is Indie Stitches, who you might remember also donated prizes last year. Based in Australia, Indie Stitches sells both paper patterns and downloads, and offers selections from a huge plethora of indie designers, all of which are super good! Our other sponsor is The McCall Pattern Company, who owns and manages 3 of the famous Big 4 pattern companies (McCall’s, Vogue and Butterick, as well as Kwik Sew). I absolutely adore the McCall Pattern Company, even when I’m poking fun at them (and adore them even more for being basically the best sports ever about it!), so I’m pretty thrilled to have them on as a sponsor for OAL2015!

Both Indie Stitches and The McCall Pattern Company have offered to donate one pattern to each of the 4 winners. The winners will also get two patterns of their choosing from the Untangling Knots shop. So you will get to keep on making outfits! Yay!

Now for the winners! These were pulled from the official Ravelry thread and drawn by random number generator.

kari1276
Kari // Vianne cardigan + Carolina Mae dress

Can you believe that this is Kari’s second sewing project?? That dress fits beautifully and I just love the fabric! Also loving the idea of a black Vianne – that’s definitely a sweater you can wear with anything πŸ™‚

feminizzle
Ann Marie // Vianne cardigan + self-drafted dress

I love the colors in Ann Marie’s outfit! That orange Vianne is especially beautiful with all the subtle color gradation. The addition of a waistband on the dress is a really nice touch!

egwene2211
Angela // Myrna cardigan + V8726

Another first-timer here – this is Angela’s first cardigan! I think it turned out awesome and, again, love that orange! The colors of her cardigan & dress remind me of sherbert πŸ™‚ Yum!

irish1970
Jeri // Cancun Lacy Box top + Angie dress

Love everything about Jeri’s outfit, but ESPECIALLY that little lacy top! Ahh!! I never realized how much I needed a lace-knit crop top until right this second. It looks great on Jeri, both with and without the dress. The whole outfit looks so cool and comfortable, perfect for summer!

Congratulations, OAL winners! Expect some emails to get those prizes out πŸ™‚ I’m so happy to wrap up another successful OAL, and even happier to have a few new knitting and sewing patterns to add to my never-ending queue! Starting with that lace crop top. haha!

Thanks again to everyone who participated! Thanks to Andi for hosting along with me this second year, and big thanks to our sponsors Indie Stitches & The McCall Pattern Company for the great prizes! If you’d like to see more OAL garments, check out the official Ravelry thread, as well as the hashtag #OAL2015 on Twitter & Instagram πŸ™‚

Why I Sew

16 Apr

Sewing room sneaky peek

“Why do you sew?” This is the question that I get asked on a near daily basis – evenly distributed between curious blog comments, emails, face-to-face introductions, and random strangers who compliment something handmade that I happen to be wearing. Obviously, I am happy to talk about sewing until I start seeing eyes glaze over (oh, who am I kidding, I’m not gonna let that stop me one bit), but it’s not really something I’ve ever discussed at large on this blog. Since I’m currently in this weird blogging purgatory where I have finished projects but can’t take photos due to the current torrential downpours going on right now, let’s talk about it! And have some new sewing room sneaky-peeks while we’re at it πŸ˜€

As some of you may know, I learned how to sew through self-teaching. I’ve been around sewing my entire life – my mom made a lot of curtains, stuffed bunnies, and Easter dresses throughout my childhood, and I even had my own little sewing kit that I’d use to fashion Barbie-sized clothing and quilts. I started using her sewing machine when I was around 13 or 14, as someone on my favorite AOL message board (haha YEP) mentioned that they would sew up the sides of their band shirts to make them fit better. MIND. BLOWN. I used sewing strictly for alterations for a few years, and it wasn’t until I was 20 that I started trying to use sewing patterns. I learned everything – from threading the machine, to deciphering the pattern jargon, to learning new techniques – from books and the occasional internet research (I didn’t have internet in my house 10 years ago, so most of my early knowledge came from reading the Vogue Sewing Book cover to cover, like a freaking novel). That was back before blogging really took off, before sew-alongs were a thing, before I even knew that there was a site like Pattern Review and definitely during a time when we gave indie pattern companies a wary side-eye because we weren’t sure if they were to be trusted.

When I started sewing, I never had any intentions of eventually having a 100% me-made wardrobe. I never imagined that sewing would ever earn me any sort of income, not outside the random $10-$15 for an occasional pants-hem. I never really thought about it while it was happening – it was just, oh, great, a new hobby to immerse myself in! I did eventually start selling the clothing that I was making, as a way to offset some of my costs and give myself the go-ahead to sew up looks and fabrics that I’d never personally wear. That lasted for a few years, and it was pretty fun! I ultimately closed down the line because it was taking up too much of my selfish sewing time (NO RAGRETS).

noragretsI’ve been perfecting my craft for nearly 10 years at this point (I don’t count those early days pre-20 because, honestly, the only action my sewing machine got was nipping in the side seams of whatever random band shirt I’d bought the night before. Seriously. Soooo many band shirts), which is kind of crazy to me! I’ve had a lot of hobbies in the past, but this one has definitely stuck around the longest, and turned into an actual passion as opposed to something I do every few weeks so I have something to chat about at parties.

So, with all that being said – I give you my top 5 reasons (in no particular order) as to why I sew.Sewing room sneaky peek

REASON #1: Mood-Altering Abilities

I love sewing because it’s a good mood-changer for almost any situation I encounter. If I’m bored, it’s entertaining. If I’m feeling stressed, it’s relaxing. If I’m angry, it calms me down. Everything about the entire process – from planning, to cutting, to prepping, to stitching, to finishing – makes me feel drastically better than I did before the project started. Truth, if I go too long without getting some creative release taken care of (such as those couple weeks during our recent move), I start getting angsty and upset. Sewing just makes me feel really good, which is more than I can say about other hobbies. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t peel myself off the couch after an afternoon of TV binge-watching and think, “Man. That was a productive day.” And hey, since sewing is considered entertainment – it’s REALLY easy to justify spending money on it πŸ™‚ Ha!

 

REASON #2: Problem Solving

I am a problem-solver at heart. Give me a dilemma, and I’ll roll it around in my head for a few hours (or days) and try to come up with the most effective solution. I was one of those math nerds in high school who loved both Algebra AND Geometry. Figuring my way out of puzzle keeps my brain active and happy, and sewing is a really good way to incorporate that into my every day life. I love being presented with a challenge – whether it involves fitting, fabric, or finishing – and kicking that challenge right in its big, stupid ass. I’m not really a brain expert here or anything, but I like to think that exercising that part of my brain that solves problems and figures out puzzles makes me a better problem-solver overall, in all aspects of my day to day life. Whether or not that’s actually true, of course, is up for debate, but again – it makes me feel good. I like feeling good.

 

REASON #3: Level 10 Bartering // Income

When my sewing skills were still in their infancy, I learned a lot of what I know just from hacking away at alterations (first, my own, later, everyone else’s). I hemmed pants, I shortened bridesmaid dresses, I repaired couch pillows and cushions, I made custom curtains (fun fact: one time I made curtains for Emerson Hart. Those celebrities in Nashville, they’re everywhere!), I made dog clothes and Halloween costumes, and I also made about 100 flat-sheet sleeping sacks for a local hostel (you wanna know why I can sew in such a straight line? I had a LOT of practice making those sacks! ha!). I advertised on Craigslist and charged low rates, and made some decent money over the years. Not enough to quit my day job, obviously – but enough for a night out of drinking, or to pay for gas for the week, or to add to my savings for an upcoming trip. I was pretty poor during most of those 10 years – I was an irresponsible 20something with loads of credit card debt who spent way too much money on cigarettes and alcohol – and these random little alteration jobs kept me afloat when I needed it most. This is something I can always fall back on – and I still do, from time to time. When I was jobless during the last month of 2013, you best believe I was hawking the alterations like a crazy person. Not only was I able to cover my rent and bills – I also was able to tuck some money into savings. Yay!

I do pretty all right now with my current work, so I’m not dying for additional income right now – but I still using sewing as the bestest bartering tool. Like that one time when I had to take to small claims court that asshole who hit my car (AND THEN LIED ABOUT IT) – I bartered with my lawyer friend, who agreed to represent me in court in exchange for making him a Princess Peach dress for Halloween.

Check out the finished man-sized Princess Peach dress that I made for my attorney (yes, he's awesome)! Last year, I was in a minor car accident that the insurance refused to pay out (despite none of it being my fault), and this guy was nice enough to repr

I cannot make this shit up. Again – sewing is the best bartering tool evarrr. I wouldn’t have been able to afford a lawyer otherwise, but I *can* afford my time! Also, I won the case. Mostly because it was total bullshit, but, I digress.

 

REASON #4: Makes Me A Better Consumer

Y’all. For as much as I’m a bleeding hippie about a whole myriad of aspects in my personal life, I used to be a really really terrible consumer. I spent way too much money (see above RE: credit card debt) and I treated most of what I bought as disposable. I didn’t have a lot of control in a lot of really important parts of my life (early 20s were a very dark time for me, to put it mildly), so I shopped. A lot. Sewing helped me get out of the funk in two ways – for one, it gave me something to be happy about and have control over (see reason #1) and it did a number on curbing the consumerism. Once you see how much effort goes into making a single piece of clothing – even a simple fucking tshirt – it becomes a bit mind-blowing to realize that there are stores selling that shit for as little as $2. How? I also started noticing just how crappy the quality is on a lot of the stuff we buy – awful fabrics, pieces cut off-grain, horrible seam finishes, bad fit – especially when you compare it to vintage pieces, or hell, even shit from 15 years ago. All that being said, I really drastically cut down on the amount of stuff I was buying – mostly because it seemed ridiculous to pay $$$ for something horribly made that I could do a better job of myself at home. Once I started getting picky about fit and realized that I was going to have to alter everything I bought, it made clothing shopping even less appealing. I gradually pulled back from buying new clothing over the years, and as of now, I’m rocking the almost-entirely handmade wardrobe.

Also, I read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion when it was published, and it totally blew my mind. If you’re one of 3 people who hasn’t yet heard of this book, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It will change your (shopping)life.

Sewing also played a part in getting that credit card debt finally paid off once and for all. I spent nearly an entire year living as shitty as possible and funneling the majority of my income into that stupid debt. When I say majority, I really mean it – I gave myself $20 per pay period (so, $40 a month) to spend on fun money after my bills were paid. Everything else went back into that looming debt. It obviously sucked and I’m definitely planning on not ever going through that again. Also – what can you do with $40 a month? That’s like 2 movies, or a month of REALLY shitty cable (or, for me – one night out at the bar). Lame! I sewed my way through my stash, and re-upped with monthly trips to our flea market (where $40 actually does go pretty far!). Instead of going out to the bar, I stayed home in my sewing room. Not only was I keeping myself entertained, I was also contributing to my wardrobe (because, again: $40 a month.). I made additional income from alterations, which I also dumped right into that debt. I was able to pay that shit off about a month earlier than I had anticipated, and I’ve been debt-free ever since! Yay!

 

REASON #5: Complete Wardrobe Control

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is why the majority of us sew – it gives us complete control of our wardrobe! It’s pretty awesome to be able to choose what you wear based on what you want, and not what’s just available in stores. It’s mind-blowing to be able to finish a garment and know that it is going to fit you just the way you like, without needing a bunch of alterations. And don’t even get me started on the merits of having control over the fabric – how many of us have used novelty bedsheets or ridiculous quilting cotton to make a crazy dress?

New garment sneaky peek

I started sewing specifically for the wardrobe control – beginning with those band tshirts, and making my flares into skinny jeans (because I couldn’t find them in stores, because it was 1999 and everyone worshiped The Flare). I started using patterns because I wanted cotton sundresses made out of ~quirky~ fabrics (mostly those novelty bedsheets, of course). I used vintage patterns because I wanted a vintage wardrobe without paying a hefty price for my pieces. I continued sewing and honing my craft because I want clothes that fit my body and are made of natural fibers, in colors and patterns that I like (versus whatever is available at Express this season). I want clothing with special details and one-of-a-kind designs. I am inspired by the clothing I see- from designers on the runway, to costume design in movies and television, to rando people walking in front of me on the sidewalk – and I recreate it in ways that work for my wardrobe and lifestyle. While I do occasionally complain about how there are RTW fabrics that I never see available for the home sewer, that’s a pretty small drop in the bucket compared to the choices we DO have over the typical clothing consumer. Sewing isn’t exactly known for saving you money these days (I mean, unless you’re ripping off really expensive designer shit), but it certainly puts you in charge of wearing what you want, which to me is worth far more than saving a little bit of cash. I always think back on those skinny jeans that I wore when I was 14, surrounded by a sea of flares, and it feels pretty good to know that I don’t have to put myself at the mercy of whatever is currently in style. I wear what I want, and I give no fucks.

deal-lladybird

So that’s the story of why I sew – in a nutshell, it makes me happy! I like being happy πŸ™‚ Now tell me – why do you sew? What gets your little (sewing)motor going? Do you aspire to the eventual 100% handmade wardrobe, or are you content just pushing out the occasional fiber art because it makes you feel good? Time to get our chat on!

Announcing the Vogue 1419 Sewalong!

17 Sep

Hey guys and gals! Remember this coat we all made fun of?

V1419

Then remember when I tried it on and realized it was actually amazing?

"Yeah, like the girl in the $10,000 coat is gonna hold the elevator for the guy who doesn't make that in four months." #COMEON #gobbluth #ralphrucci #thisreallyisa10kdollarcoat #voguepatterns #latergram

YAY $10K DESIGNER COAT!!

Well, here’s the thing. I want this dang Ralph Rucci coat for my very own – and I want to make it. After chatting with The McCall Pattern Company – and realizing that a lot of y’all are hankering for your own Ralph Rucci Dream Coat – we’ve decided to partner up together and host a sewalong for Vogue 1419! LET’S ALL MAKE FANCY DESIGNER COATS, Y’ALL!

Vogue Patterns V1419 Ralph Rucci coat pattern sewalong

The sewalong officially kicks off on 9/29, which gives you plenty of time to buy your pattern and begin sourcing fabrics. Don’t worry – the first couple of weeks will be nice and slow, with tips on fabric selection (and yes, I’m working on snagging y’all a sweet discount!), muslin-making, and prepping all your pieces so we can dive straight into sewing in mid-October. We will finish our coats on 11/10, with a finished coat parade on 11/17. The sewalong posts will alternate weekly between here and on The McCall Pattern Blog, so make sure you’re following both!

Keep in mind that while this is a coat pattern – it’s not a traditional tailored coat, so there will be no scary pad stitching or lining (although I will be underlining my version, so we’ll have some tips on that as well πŸ™‚ ). While I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to a true beginner, I think a super adventurous/advanced beginner could probably swing this – just make a muslin, take your time and aim for accuracy! We’ll be photographing every step, which will make construction easier (and of course, the posts will be up indefinitely if you decide that you need to revisit your couture coat dreams at a later date πŸ™‚ ). The McCall Pattern Company has lots of interior shots of the coat in this Pinterest board if you want to see more of the deets. It’s a really beautiful coat that lends itself to lots of fun customization!

Here’s the full schedule of events:
9/22/2014 Social media: official hashtags, Flickr group, Pinterest board & blog badges
9/29/2014 Selecting your fabric
10/6/2014 Making your muslin
10/13/2014 Prep week: cutting your fabric; marking your pattern pieces; underlining (if applicable); creating bias binding; reinforcing and staystitching (Steps 1-3 and step 35)
10/20/2014 Attaching the gusset, binding, belt & side seams (steps 4-22)
10/27/2014 Sewing the sleeves & back (steps 23-50)
11/3/2014 Assembling the pockets (steps 51-63)
11/10/2014 Finishing: Facing, button holes, buttons, and hem (steps 64-86)
11/17/2014 Parade of coats

I know that sounds like a lot of work for each week, but keep in mind that most of the steps involved are instructing you to sew bias binding. Those of us who have made unlined bias bound coats before know that once you get into a groove, it’s not so bad πŸ™‚ Plus, I don’t want this to drag on forever! I want to take my coat to London, dangit! πŸ™‚

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Ready to join in the coat-making fun? AWESOME! Don’t forget to buy your pattern – there’s a sale going on right now through 9/19, yay! – and make sure to follow The McCall Pattern Blog if you’re not already doing so. Next week, we’ll have all the official badges and hashtags so you can pretty up your blogs πŸ™‚

In the meantime… who’s in? What’s your dream Ralph Rucci coat look like? I’m currently manhandling some of the most gorgeous red wool coatings, can’t wait to make this baby up! πŸ™‚

Completed: The Emery Dress

10 Mar

I am SO LATE to this freaking party – but better late than never, right? πŸ™‚

Emery dress

Behold – it’s an Emery Dress! Sent to me by the lovely Christine Haynes, I was anxious to try out this pattern for myself (have you seen these popping up all over the internet? Everyone’s versions are AMAZING! Some of my favorites – Miss Crayola Creepy, SewTell, The Nerdy Seamstress, By Gum, By Golly!, ShanniLoves, Sew I Thought… ok, I’ll stop now, but you get the idea!). This little lady regularly gets rave reviews on the fit, construction, and overall look, and I think it’s pretty well-deserved.

Emery dress

So, my experience with Emery didn’t go quite as smoothly as everyone else’s – this was the dress that sucked me down the SIX MUSLIN SPIRAL OF DOOM, but once I got that out of the way, the rest of the construction came together easily. Even matching up the plaid was easy, since there aren’t a lot of pieces to contend with (although I totally done goofed mine up… more on that in a minute).

Emery dress

I’ll start with the muslin experience. Since figuring out that I have big back-gaping issues (and since that’s not really something that can be easily tweaked after the pattern pieces have been cut out of the fabric), I always always make a muslin, at least for just the bodice. My muslin for this dress turned out perfect in the front – darts in the correct place, ending at the correct points, perfectly fitting at all key points, yay! – but the back stuck straight out between my shoulder blades. I tried my usual adjustment, and instead of working – it actually made things worse! Thus, I started the muslin spiral: I played with moving around the slash line, I tried adding different amounts, I tried altering the center back seam and I tried adding fucking gigantic darts at the neckline. Those last two attempts were really really awful, by the way – if you tweak the back neckline too hard, you’ll end up throwing off the balance of the front neckline so it pooches out all weird. NOT a good look!

Of course, by the time I realized I couldn’t crack this pattern, I was also 5 muslins in and feeling stubborn enough to refuse giving up. Not to mention, I was getting super desperate and pissy because everyone else seemed to have NO problems whatsoever with fitting this pattern. Look at everyone’s backs – they fit perfectly. This was starting to make me feel like I had a freak body or some shit.

Emery dress

So how did I fix this mystery back pattern? After combing through my fit books and googling everything I could think of, I ended up landing on the narrow back adjustment (this shows something similar to what I did, although I pulled mine from Fit For Real People so it’s slightly different). That did the trick! No gape! I feel like a fitting PRO, y’all!

Emery dress

I think it’s really important to point out that just because *I* had some fitting issues with the back bodice, that doesn’t mean that you should be scared to try this pattern! Like I said, pretty much every other version I’ve seen praises how well it fits straight out of the envelope. Everyone’s body is shaped differently, and it makes me real cringy when I read that someone recommends against a pattern because they had a bad fit experience (unless it’s just a bad fit across the board – which happens, but it’s rare!). Your (or my!) fit experience =/= everyone else’s fit experience, so just keep that in mind! Ok, soapbox rant over!

Emery dress

Anyway, this dress was super simple to whip up after I figured all the fitting shit out. Cutting was a beast; not only did I choose a large scale, unbalanced plaid as my fabric – I only had about 1 3/4 yards, which meant I had to be VERY careful with my layout. Happily, I was able to match up the side seams on the bodice… but check out that skirt seam. I was concentrating so hard on matching up the plaid lines, that I didn’t think to match up the GIANT BLOCKS OF COLOR. Which means the plaid doesn’t match at all on the skirt. Oops! Learn from my mistakes, people πŸ™‚

Emery dress

Because I barely had any fabric, I had to cut some corners on other parts of the dress. I originally wanted to make the collar in the same plaid fabric – but I couldn’t get the pieces to mirror each other, and it looked really stupid on my dressform, so I used my lining fabric (originally cut to be the underside of the collar) on top instead. I think it actually really works this way – makes the dress a little less twee. My lining fabric is the same silky delicious purple cotton batiste that I used with my Victoria Blazer, and I used every single last bit of those scraps!

Emery dress

I also used the batiste for the pockets, because, again, fabric restraints πŸ™‚

Emery dress

I think the biggest/most visible changes I made are the lack of sleeves and the shortened hemline. I cut a good 4″ off this hemline – it really helped with conserving fabric, plus, I just don’t like knee-length hemlines on me! – and then folded up a 2″ hem allowance. I didn’t make any bodice changes to account for the lack of sleeves, I just… didn’t add them! Ha! I waffled with the idea of using plaid bias to close the arm holes, but I ran of of plaid… so the arm holes are just slip-stitched closed. Nothing fancy here!

Emery dress

I’ll admit, when I finally stuck the zipper in this dress and stood in front of the mirror, I thought it looked really unflattering on me! Listen, I am not the type of person to pretend like I think I’m fat (I know I’m not, and I’m not going to fish for compliments either), but something about that gathered skirt + plaid really made me look wider than I am. Even Landon, who never ever sees unflattering things the same way I do, noticed it. I kind of assumed so since I don’t think gathered skirts are very flattering on my shape, but again – everyone else’s Emery’s were soooo cute and flattering! Ugh, Lauren!

I really think adding the belt helps – it separates the bodice from the gathered skirt, which visually makes me look smaller in the waist. Of course, now that I’m looking at these pictures, it looks totally fine! I think it’s one of those things that just looks better in pictures than it does in real life πŸ™‚

Emery dress

That being said, I totally plan on living in this dress all summer. The plaid cotton is lightweight and comfortable, it’s super cute, and I just really love it! Although I’ll probably keep the belt; mostly because that vertical line isn’t matched perfectly (due to the gathers) and it’s making me feel twitchy πŸ˜‰

Emery dress

Emery dress

(psst, aren’t my earrings so perfect for this dress? I just got them from ChatterBlossom, gahhh, she always has the best stuff!)

Emery dress

Emery dress

Emery dress

This pattern is labeled as an Intermediate, but know that the instructions are very very thorough and super hand-holdy, so I think a confident beginner could easily tackle this shit. Christine also has an extremely detailed Emery Sewalong on her blog with lots and lots of pictures, in case you get stuck. But seriously – you can do this!

Emery dress

If you’re lovin on Emery but haven’t made the jump to purchase, keep an eye on this space – I have a copy to give away later this week!

Also, check it out:

Yay spring!

SPRING IS HAPPENING RIGHT HERE IN MY YARD HOLY SHIT.

Completed: The Flora Dress

5 Mar

Here’s a lovely, floaty warm-weather dress, just in time for another massive cold front! Ha! πŸ™‚

Flora dress

Haha! In all seriousness, let’s welcome the newest member of the By Hand London family – Miss Flora!

Flora dress

Flora is a lovely dress with two bodice options and pleated circle skirt with a straight or hi-lo hem (or, as I like to call it, mullet-hem). I’ve dubbed this a floaty warm-weather dress because that’s specifically what my version is made for, but I imagine this could make a pretty sweet cold-weather dress, too, sewn up in the right fabric (preferably with some kind of crazy awesome contrast lining in the skirt, so it peeks out behind your legs and ooooh!).

Flora dress

My version is the the dipped hem skirt with mock wrap bodice. Man, I love me a good wrap bodice, mock or not.

Flora dress

I did have to make a few changes to get a good fit on the pattern, but nothing that runs outside my ordinary alterations. Let’s get them all out in a pretty list. I started with the size 2/6:
– 3/8″ rounded back adjustment + 5/8″ darts at the upper back
– Lowered the shoulder seams 1″ – also lowered the vertical waist darts 1″ (I also should have lowered those horizontal bust darts too, looking at all the wrinkles on mah side boobs. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 blah blah)
– 3/8″ tuck out of the front neckline to keep it from gaping

The rounded back adjustment is a new thing for me – I’ve noticed on a lot of my old handmades, there is a weird gaping at the upper back, right under the nape of my neck. It looks STUPID AS SHIT. Apparently I have a ~rounded upper back~ or a Dowager’s Hump, which yes, sounds even worse. I am pretty certain this is in relation to a change in posture, which means I need to start doing yoga or something. Lord.

Flora dress

You know what, though? My upper back no longer has ANY gaping, at least not in this dress! Fuck yeah!

Flora dress

The rest of the dress came together without any additional alterations – even the skirt length is as-printed on the pattern. I know some people really hate this type of hem – that was me, for a long time, and still to some extent (on the really bad ones, YOU KNOW WHICH ONES I’M TALKING ABOUT), but I reeeeally love it on this dress. Combined with the circle skirt, it kind of makes me feel like a princess, without feeling like I look over-the-top. Does that make sense?

Flora dress

It should be noted that, since the back side of the fabric show behind your legs due to the hem line, you probably want to make sure that it doesn’t look totally hiddy. My fabric isn’t super gorgeous on the wrong side, but it’s passable. It looks fine.

Flora dress

Check out that hem sweep! Woohoo!!

Flora dress

I finished the skirt seams with a simple french seam – I think that just looks prettiest on exposed seams like the backside of a mullet skirt. The hem is just a tiny rolled hem, but wouldn’t it be pretty with a strip of lace so it show on the back? Yes, yes it would. Just be forwarned that this hem is looooong and goes on into forever, so if you handsew… you’ll be handsewing into forever, too.

Flora dress

Same with my Georgia dress, I stabilized the neck edges with twill tape to keep it from gaping. I really cannot recommend this step enough when it comes to necklines that have a tendency to droop and gape open – it pulls everything slightly in, and keeps it secure. I can move around all I want and there is no gaping! Yes!

Flora dress

At this point, I kind of feel like it’s my personal life mission to eliminate the gape.

Flora dress

This cotton voile fabric is equal parts weird and amazing, isn’t it? I picked it up from Mood Fabrics with this dress specifically in mind (I also grabbed this navy linen with View A in mind, but floaty won out. And now, the more I look at it, the more that linen might want to be a skirt. Thoughts?).

The Flora was designed to be made up in most any fabric (check out the other versions on the BHL blog if you don’t believe me… as a side note, MAN I am jealous of that cleavage! Dang! Haha!), so I chose to go on the lighter side – lightweight, floaty, almost see-through, you know the drill. What’s interesting about this fabric is that it has all the qualities on voile, with an extra kick of giant embroidered dots scattered everywhere. The dots are slightly thicker than the voile (not, super duper thick like you’d think when you think embroidery… more like the equivalent of a couple extra layers of the voile in thickness), but they don’t affect the drape of this fabric. Also, they’re cotton, so they didn’t do anything crazy when I hit them with my iron. Win!

Flora dress

One more shot of the upper back, bc I’m so proud of myself πŸ™‚ Just a note – in most of these pictures, I’m wearing a strapless bra with my dress. You can see my black bra strap in this picture; that’s cos this came from the set I snapped and sent to BHL after I tested the pattern (just… be thankful I retook them, that’s all I have to say about that!). Anyway, my point is, the straps of the dress are not bra-friendly without a little bit of tweaking. You’ll either need to make bra strap carriers to hold the straps in, or go strapless.

Flora dress

I underlined my bodice in a lightweight cotton batiste, so the inside feels soft and breatheable and delicious. Also, no slippery lining fabric, yay!

Flora dress

Flora dress

And, of course, there’s a hot pink zip in there because why not?

Flora dress

Can’t wait for it to warm up out here so I can wear this bad boy out and about. I’m SO dying to get out of the house and just spend a day lounging around the park on a blanket, eating snoballs. God. Summer, won’t ya hurry up already??