Saturday, December 21, 2013

See ya later, alligator

The Christmas sewing is done. I hadn't planned to do any sewing past that this weekend, but my husband is sick and spent yesterday evening in a niquil coma. So, I was happy to get a couple of projects cut and ready to go.

After I got home from the office today, he had fallen asleep again! So I took advantage and did a quick little project.

I can definitely see myself using this pattern a LOT since I've figured out the fit issues. I read a lot of reviews of this one online, and heard that it was extremely boxy, with way too much ease in the waist. So I kept those thoughts in mind and compared the pattern to a shirt I had that fits me well. I ended up cutting roughly two sizes smaller than what I measured in the waist and bust. In the hips, I stuck with my normal size, which I think worked really well. 

I also lengthened the sleeves a bit. I cut them the same, but I just did a very short hem so they were a little bit longer. 

I think my favorite thing about this make was that it used facing to finish the neck opening. I like the clean look here, and I think it works really well with the style.  The sleeveless versions of the top also use facing instead of bias tape. 

The star of this project is really the fabric. It's from spoonflower and the designer is andrea_lauren. She has her shop set with limited selections right now, but she has some really lovely designs. I am totally crazy about the color here. 

This is the first project I've made that ended up exactly as I envisioned it. I think a lot of that is due to the fact that I really planned out my steps, took my time, and paid attention. 

I absolutely love it. And I am super psyched about the rest of the projects I have coming up!

Project: Alligator woven tee
Pattern: Simplicity 8523
Fabric: Alligators by andrea_lauren on Spponflower, 2 yds
Notions: nothing but thread! You will need a tiny bit of interfacing

Overall, I really enjoyed this make and will definitely use this pattern again, maybe with a different neckline?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The plan

I'm quickly closing in on two+ weeks of time off from work, and I'm trying hard not to make unreasonable plans.

There will be at least some relaxation time, of course.  And I'll spend a few days at my parents' house.  Plus cleaning, there's always that.

But I also have a lot of sewing projects in the works, and I'd like to knock some of the biggies out.

This is not even all of the fabric I have washed and ready to go!

My first priority are Christmas gifts and resizing some pajama pants I made for us (waaaaay too big).

But that should take like a day max.  And then I'll be free to work on things for ME.

I have so many things in the works.  But here are my thoughts on priorities.

  1. navy skirt with scallop hem - I wear a lot of prints, and I need some solid basics to mix in with my separates.  I'm starting here.
  2. alligator tee shirt - I have a couple of yards of some amazing fabric from spoonflower, but it is loud, and I think I need a really basic shape so I'm doing a woven tee
  3. taupe egg blouse - I'll be using that taupe fabric near the bottom of the pile in the picture above to make a button down blouse.  This is a (hopefully) wearable muslin for the next project, since I've already made the skirt from that pattern before.
  4. sheep dress - This light mauve fabric with herds of sheep (and a few little sheep dogs) is probably my favorite fabric in the queue.  I'm going to make a knee length dress with a button front bodice and a little collar.  
I've got a ton of other projects up my sleeve, but I'm thinking that if I give myself room to take my time with these and not stress, then things will go really smoothly, and I'll have some great stuff to wear when I go back to work in January!

Monday, December 16, 2013


I think I've mentioned here that I work half time in (well, outside of ) Baton Rouge, where I live, and half time in Houston.  This means I'm living out of a suitcase fairly often, and while packing mine last week, I checked the weather in Houston and realized something.  I am severely lacking in warm clothes.  It makes sense, it's not cold that often.  But my thin cardigans and tights over summer dresses can only go so far.  So I'm kind of thinking about how to make my wardrobe more winter appropriate ("winter" for those of you from more northern parts).

When I saw this knit fabric for the first time at JoAnn's, I just loved it.  I almost bought it on the spot, but it had a hole on the edge and I wanted to make sure I could cut around it.  But once I had a pattern picked out, I went back and grabbed it, super excited to make something.  I wanted something warm and cozy that I could wear with jeans and boots.

I used a McCall's pattern marked easy, since this was my first time with knits.  And I do think easy was accurate.  BUT the sizing is way off.  I'm quickly learning that I should just ignore the finished garment measurements given by McCall's and Simplicity because they are so inaccurate.  This thing is huge.  I have plans to cut it down on the sides and in the sleeves, because I think it would be much, much cuter if it was a bit more fitted (or fitted AT ALL).

It is growing on me.  I wore it with my pajamas basically every moment I've been home since I finished it and it's soooo warm and soooo comfy.

My husband's feelings on it are very clear.  He hates it.  Hates the fabric, hates the cut, HATES it.  He didn't believe I'd wear it to work.  BUT I DID.  You owe me $5, husband.

Anyway, I think it looks pretty cute with jeans.  And if I just cut it down a bit it will be even cuter.  Seeing it all wrapped up helps me imagine what it would look like with a bit more shape.

There's like a foot of extra fabric crossed over in there.  The description of the pattern is a "close fitting cardigan."  Yep, sure.

I do love the fabric though.  I think no matter how I felt when I first put it on, this one is a keeper (or, it will be once I make a few changes.  It's also perfect for Christmas time.  With leggings, my fur lined houseshoes, and this sweater I am good for hanging out and watching Christmas movies all day long.

Project:  Warm and cozy peplum sweater
Pattern:  McCall's M6844
Fabric:  Dark green printed knit from JoAnn's
Notions, etc:  thread, interfacing for the collar
Time to make up:  A couple of hours, maybe 3.  I cut all of the fabric another day so that cut down on my time.  I also did some additional stuff (double stitching the seams, top stitching around the shawl collar) that may not be necessary for you and could cut time off.

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Notebook

There are some things that I completely, unreasonably geek out about.  The weirdest one is probably notebooks.  I had a large red moleskine that I carried with me for the longest time, and I was so sad when it was done.  I now have a little paperback notebook that matches my phone case.  And the cutest little notepad I obsess over at work.  I like writing in cute, useful things.

So, when I started sewing a lot, and mainly when I started planning lots of projects, I got frustrated pretty quickly with pages of notebook paper folder and stuffed in my purse.  I really wanted to have something durable, useful, that I could throw in my purse and go.

Googling immediately brought me to Beth Byrge's book, 110 Creations, which you can buy here.  I was planning on grabbing a copy myself, but I really wanted hardback so I could not worry about it getting banged up in my purse.  And by the time I added the things I wanted and made so many changes, I knew I should just have something printed up myself.


 The book came with a dust jacket (I just threw up a picture of some buttons I took), but I knew I wasn't to use it.  So I chose a nice green linen-ish cover with a simple embossed title.  This thing is lovely and I'm so psyched to have it in my possession!

Up front, I have a place for measurements (and plenty of them).  I'll add my and my husband's measurements here for now, and then whoever else I needed later.

I also have a couple of reference chart.  First for normal ease allowances (which will help to make sense of finished measurements on patterns), and a conversion chart for different fabric widths.

From here, it jumps right in to the projects.  I really wanted to make a custom croquis for this book.  You can find tons of directions online for how to do it with photoshop or similar programs.  But because I am lazy, I just took a picture of myself in underpants, pulled it up on my ipad and cranked the brightness up (actually two pictures, one with each arm straight).  Then I laid a piece of copy paper on top of the screen and traced it.  I went over it with a sharpie so the lines were nice and defined, and took a photo in the sunlight.  Then I converted that to monochrome, cleaned it up, and voila.  A line drawing of myself sans pants.

 I also drew my tattoos on here.  Partly because I love them, and partly for a legit reason.  I work in an office about half the time that is much more conservative than my home base.  So I need to have options for covering my tattoos.  Having them on here gives me a good indication of whether I can expect them to be covered, and how I'll need to wear the garment.

So here's a peek at two projects I have lined up.  I am really excited about both of them.  The scallop skirt is actually going to be made with some fabric that was misprinted from spoonflower.  It was supposed to coordinate with a print I bought, but the coloring is off.  Since I have it though, I'm going to do a solid skirt with a cute hem detail.  The orange top is going to be made of a fabric that is SO CUTE but also SO in your face that it needs a really simple silhouette, I think.

I was so excited to get my hands on this that I've already drawn up 8 projects (which is not even all of the ones that I have the fabric bought and washed for!  Whew!).  One of them is a Christmas present, so it will be kept under wraps, but here's a look at some of the others.

That green sweater will probably be the next thing I make for myself.

Each page has a spot for a sketch, list of materials, notes and changes, and just overall planning for the project.  I also left a spot where I can attach swatches if I need to match for notions, etc.  I have some pages also that are just like this without the croquis, to use for projects for other people or accessories.

And a quick note here.  I would definitely be writing in pencil if I didn't have these amazing erasable pens.  Pilot Frixion, I got mine at work (in my job we mark up a lot of drawings and we need to be able to write in lots of colors and ERASE it), but they are seriously so cool.  They erase BETTER than pencil.  It's incredible.  I'm obsessed with these.

In the back, I have a spot to keep track of all of my patterns, as well as some wish lists for future purchases.

The main reason I opted to make this myself was because I just didn't think there was enough room in the ready made book.  I mean really, half a page for a fabric wishlist?  That's not going to work for me.

I made all of the pages in Word and then printed them to pdfs, where I then resized.  They're super simple, but that's exactly what I need.  The book is about 6x9, so it's small but not too small.  Overall, I'm in love with this book.  I would definitely recommend the one from Beth if you would rather have a lay flat notebook that you don't need to throw in your purse and go.  I just know it's going to be a great resource for me, instead of having numbers and projects and lists just floating around everywhere.

Now I will just get to...

Hopefully I'll have a project complete for next week!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


You just have to make a cape for your cat.

I had planned to blog a simple little shirt I made a couple of weeks ago.  I used the Bess Top pattern from Imagine Gnats, the shortest length, and shortened it up a little more.  I also added a pleat at the front neckline because the neckline was super open on me (even cutting the higher neckline) and I wanted to tighten it up a bit.

I loved that shirt.  I've worn it so often since I made it.  I loved the fabric and it was comfy and it was the first garment I made that I was actually totally proud of.

The shirt in question, pre rip
I love the way the sleeves work with this pattern

The plan was to wear it today and take some pictures.  Until my washing machine ate it last night.  I was folding laundry and noticed something that felt off on the back of the shirt, and turned it over to see a hole the size of the palm of my hand.  There were also gross streaks all over the back.  I've identified the culprit (tub cover had some sharp pieces of plastic coming off) and my husband is fixing it this week.  But dude, I'm super bummed over this.

But what cheers me up when I'm sad?  Cats in clothes.  What's even better?  Cats in costumes.

I present to you:  Dimitri the super cat!

This was a result of many factors converging at once.  I was bored over Thanksgiving weekend with nothing to do.  I wanted a quick project I could handle quickly.  My husband came down and joked that I needed to make Dimitri something pretty to wear.

And so, my cat is a superhero.

Surprisingly, he doesn't hate it at all.  He just walks around like normal, except he can fly with the cape on (just kidding of course, but we totally pick him up and make him "fly" around.  Because we're jerks).

I just used leftovers.  Red quilting cotton as a base (just drew a general cape shape based on his length), navy jersey for the log and neck band.  I wanted the part around his neck to be as comfortable as possible.  It's elastic so it's easy to pull over his head, but super loose on his neck once it's on.  And the jersey is soft enough that it doesn't bother him.  I think it helps that we've had a collar on him since kitten-hood.

For the logo, I just drew out a couple of ideas onto cardstock and traced my favorite onto the jersey.  Then I topstitched it down onto the cape.

This was a super quick project, made with scraps, that has given us so much joy over the last couple of weeks.  I don't think there's anything more adorable than a kitten in a superhero cape.

You can also follow this general guide to make a super easy cape for kids (although I might stick with a velcro neckband for littles).  It's so much fun!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sweet Birdy Skirt

I came across this fabric a few weeks ago online, and knew immediately that I wanted to make up a skirt.  The polka dots and the collage look were freaking adorable.  But it was really the border print that did it for me.  The little birds along one edge were just begging to be a skirt to me.

I used the Simplicity 2215, part of the Cynthia Rowley line, for the skirt.  I like this pattern a lot and found it pretty easy to follow, even though I somehow put the zipper in the wrong side.  Whoops!  Overall I like the pattern and I'll be using it again.  But I felt the sizing was really off.  I cut my size based on the finished garment measurements, knowing I wanted it to be a bit snug in the waist (which is my preference for skirts).  Even with that, I ended up cutting the waistband down by 3-4 inches.  This meant there was a little additional volume in the skirt, which I don't mind.  Next time I make this I'll cut one size smaller in the waistband, and choose the sizing for the skirt based on the drape of the fabric.  I'll also probably make the waistband a bit wider.  The finished width here is a little over an inch, and I just like the look and feel of a thicker waistband.  I will also probably do a full lining depending on fabric choice.

Overall I do really like this pattern.  I have some fabric already chosen to make the dress version of it, with an adorable button front and collar.  Because of the sizing issues here, I'll probably make up a muslin of the bodice before I cut the dress.

This was my first time putting in pockets or invisible zippers, and this one had both.  Adding the zipper on a pocket was an adventure, but after a couple of attempts I got it.  Now that I have the hang of it (and have the foot I need for my machine) I think it will come a lot easier.

I am in love with the colors in this fabric.  It really gives you a lot of freedom in pairing.  I pulled out 3 shirts this morning and all of them went great with it!  Plus the neutral background is a really nice color to tone down the brights that I tend to wear.  Although these pictures are showing me that I definitely need to iron it when it comes out of the dryer!

Project:  Bird border pleated skirt
Pattern:  Simplicity 2215 View C
Fabric:  2 yds Collage Bird Dot in Putty (I bought it from superbuzzy but it's now out of stock.  You can get it here).  You won't need 2 yards of this if you're not using a border print, though.
Notions and other needs:  large hook and eye closure, 9" invisible zipper (and invisible zipper foot from Coats), 1/2 yd lining fabric for pockets, interfacing for the waistband.
Time to make up:  probably around 4-5 hours including cutting.  About half of this was figuring out the zipper!


Hi.  I'm Sarah.  I like to make things, particularly clothes.

I'll be sharing my projects, crafts, and thoughts on makes here.  Hope you enjoy!