Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Close, but no cigar

I actually made this shirt a while ago, in late March.  I just haven't photographed most of my newer stuff because I don't have a full length mirror in my new apartment.  I need to remedy that soon!

It was my first time using this pattern (Colette Sencha), and I was excited about it.  I loved the way the sleeves were constructed and loved the button back (although I didn't take any pictures of it, because I am the worst).

I also love the fabric.  It's an adorable print of books on bookshelves, and the colors are so pretty.

But I am almost positive this was the first and only time I wore this shirt.

Why?  Well, I think there are two reasons.

First, I don't wear a lot of pants in the warmer months.  When I did, it was at my Houston office, which is more formal and I just don't think this shirt would be a good match for that environment.  So I got out of the habit and then haven't picked it back up since pants weather started again.  And this shirt is not really suited to being tucked into skirts.

But mostly, it's a bad fabric/pattern match.  We all have them.  It sucks.

Looking at the pictures, this is really not that bad.  But it's a quilting cotton (and not one of those soft, gauzy ones), and that pattern is really better suited for something with some drape.  It makes it a little less comfy/easier to wear, and it's just not something I reach for in the mornings.

Also, RIP bright ass red sweater and shoes.  I have my replacement red flats on today and they are NOT AS GOOD.  I will never forgive J Crew for discontinuing the Cece flats.

So, I do like the little tie at the front (but again, not suited for this fabric).  And I like the button back, especially with the big mustard yellow buttons I used.  But I haven't made another version of this shirt, so I think this discouraged me in a  big way.  Hate it when that happens.

It's so weird to look at these pictures from so long ago.  My hair is so short!  And I thought it was loooong then.  And this is also before I got my amazing, amazing iron so that hem is annoying me.  I should have steamed it, dammit!  And also, you know, because I don't own that house anymore.

But maybe I'll give this one another shot.  I'll see if I can figure something out for tomorrow.

Project:  Library blouse
Pattern:  Colette Sencha
Fabric:   A quilting cotton, I don't remember where it was from.
Notions:    thread, interfacing, buttons
Skills involved:  blind hem, buttons/buttonholes, tucks
Changes made:  None that I remember
Fuckups: Fabric/pattern match failure :(

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The dress

THE dress.

The only thing I've loved more than this dress is my wedding gown.  And maybe my Fryes.

I had a wedding to go to in June and needed a new dress.  And of course I wanted to make it.  And I knew I wanted it to be special.

I really waffled on whether to buy this fabric or not.  It was the most expensive fabric I'd ever bought, and I needed quite a bit of it.  But the oversized polka dots and the color were just so me.  Perfect.  So love won out, and I bought the last few yards Mood had.

It's no longer available, but the fabric was a gorgeous silk satin from one of Carolina Herrera's resort collections a couple of years ago.  It was on sale for $40/yard and I just decided to grab it.  Thankfully, it wasn't a $150 mistake, because it was GORGEOUS

I used my old favorite, Simplicity 1823.  I knew the pleated sleeves and voluminous skirt would look great in this super structured fabric.  I scooped both the neckline and back a lot lower though.  What, I like to show some boob when I'm dressed up?  I also fully lined it with a black silk habotai, because I'm so fancy.

All in, I'd say I spent about $200.  And it was 100% worth it, hands down.

Not often someone yells at me on the streets to tell me how cute my dress is!

I felt really adorable and beautiful in it.  I've been able to wear it twice (both times to weddings), and I could definitely see wearing it again in the future to a fancy party.  It's lovely.

Right now, it crumpled and wrinkled from a return trip from Wisconsin in my suitcase, but I can steam it if I need to.

I would take pictures of the innards, but again, crumpled in my closet.  I bound all the skirt seams and the waistband, encased the zipper within the lining, etc.  It is awesome.

Side note:  I think I sewed this in May.  Wore it in June and September.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

Project:  Navy a-line skirt
Pattern:  Simplicity 1873 by Cynthia Rowley
Fabric:   Carolina Herrera silk satin twill omgomgomg
Notions:    thread, lining, invisible zipper
Skills involved:  Placing a zipper, regular stuff such as darts and pleating
Changes made:  Scooped neckline and back
Fuckups: I attempted pattern matching across the back, but failed.  Too much to do it across the zipper.


Yeah, I haven't posted in months.

I've been working a lot, traveling, plus I moved, so I get a pass.  Selling our house was quite an interruption to my sewing time.  But now we have an apartment with a dedicated sewing area, and my fabric stockpile is bigger than ever (retail therapy, anyone?)

But it's funny that my last post was talking about summer clothes and now I'm going to talk about fall.  I actually did make almost all of the things I mentioned in my summer wardrobe post, so I'm calling that a win.

So, fall.  Again, I know that I need more basics and solids.  I still wear a lot of prints (wearing my alligator shirt as I type), but winter means layers, and I need to mix some solids in there.

A few things have changed about my sewing habits.  You may notice a startling lack of novelty prints (only 3???).  My wardrobe is close to reaching peak novelty print, plus I think these generally work better on dresses and skirts, which I'm not sure in need of.

I'm also sewing a lot more knits.  I bought the Colette Guide to Sewing knits and jumped on the bandwagon.  Made a couple of Monetas and got hooked.

And also, my pattern preferences have changed immensely.  I'm more into simple, modern shapes and have basically started to focus on finding TNT patterns that I can alter if I want (My two favorites are Grainline Scout and Simplicity 2215 and 1873).

So here's my fabric plan for fall.

Top, L to R:

1.  A black and white buffalo plaid shirting that will become a loose, boxy woven tee with cuffed sleeves (Grainline Scout)
2.  A motorcycle print cotton jersey destined for t-shirt-dom (Grainline Scout)
3.  A wide striped knit fabric that was set to be a Scout t-shirt (already made, worn it 4 times in 2 weeks) (Grainline Scout SEE A PATTERN HERE??)
4.  I'm a chemical engineer, so I absolutely HAD TO HAVE this fabric.  It's going to be a little v-neck dress with buttons down the back.  It's cut and will be my next project (Simplicity 2215)
5.  This print will become a drapey cardigan, I think.  Possibly a regular cardigan. But definitely cardigan bound. (self-drafted/rectangle with sleeves

Middle, L to R

1.  Gorgeous deep purple wool remnant that will have trangle cutouts at the neck and sleeve (Scout, again)
2.  Red wool suiting, going to be a t-shirt with a loose, breezy back (Scout, with full back adjustment, But seriously folks, this is my favorite pattern.)
3.  I already used part of this, but I think I have enough left to do a little button front peplum (Grainline Alder, shortened)
4.  This bright yellow knit is going to be some sort of cardigan I think.  I may banish it to pajamas.  Pattern TBD
5.  Navy canvas, because my next big undertaking will be a waxed cotton rain jacket (I'm waxing it myself after it's sewn) (Colette Albion I think)

Bottom, L to R

1.  Amazing soft wool that I found in the remnant section, going to be a jumper with a pleated skirt (Simplicity 2215)
2.  Ivory and black slub knit, already made into a t-shirt that I wear like every third day
3.  Vintage Hmong batik fabric.  Used it (along with a leather hide) to make a gorgeous bag.  I fucking love this thing. (Senna Tote)
4.  One of the first fabrics I bought when I got started.  Going to use my tried and true skirt to make this one.  (not really a pattern)
5.  Cobalt blue buffalo plaid flannel.  Destined to be a loose-ish button down shirt (Grainline Archer)

So, a few words on winter.  I live in New Orleans.  Winter is a relative term.  Short sleeve shirts, sleeveless dresses, and unlined canvas jackets are probably more spring material for some of you guys.  But it's mid October and it will be in the mid-80s today, so we just have different needs.

But:  15 garments!!!  What?

I'm SO into sewing right now, because I had to take a 3 month hiatus while we were in the process of moving.  I don't think this will be a problem.  And I even left off some pajama/lounge stuff and my Christmas sewing.  I get to dedicate basically a whole day to sewing every week, plus a few hours when I want, so I can be productive.

I've made 3 garments and probably the most work intensive project on the list (the bag) in the last two weeks.  So I think I can knock most of these out before the new year!

Soon:  posts on all the shit I made while I was gone and never took pictures of.  Up first:  Carolina Herrera.  Silk.  Polka dots.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Try, try again

This is one of a few projects that I made before our trip but never got around to writing about.  All of my computer time in the weeks leading up to the trip were spent researching weather, backpacks, tours, and if I would want to barf at the thought of eating Scottish food (I didn't.  Actually the food was pretty great, except the seafood wasn't nearly as good as it was hyped up to be.  Says the girl from Louisiana, I know).

So, after hating my first attempt at this pattern, mostly die to the weirdness of the fabric, I decided to try again with something more structured and less clingy.  I decided on a cotton twill, and found this pretty navy at High Fashion Fabrics in Houston.

Side note:  if you're in the Houston area, I love this place.  My home base in Houston is completely on the other side of the city (Energy Corridor) but I make the trip often, because it's so worth it.  They have every type of apparel fabric you could want, and their prices are fair, in my opinion.  Plus their selection of zippers, thread, and buttons is pretty great.

ANYWAY, this twill was great.  I don't remember how much it was but it wasn't expensive.  Under $10/yard and I used two yards.  I love the color, definitely a navy but not too dark or black.

I added pockets, but I think I'll remove them next time.  Just not necessary and they add bulk.  I also need to take this in a tiny bit at the hips, but I think it's a really great basic.

Side note:  sweater is from J. Crew last season.  It was a gift from my mom and I'm crazy about it.

Close up of the waistband (and the cat hair)

Although I cut this on the straight gran, I used the waistband from version three.  I didn't want the shaped waistband, although I may try that next time.

I hemmed it with yellow grosgrain ribbon.  These little details are one of my favorite things about home made clothes.  I also used an old blouse for the pockets so there is a fun little print in there (it's a pretty floral with blues and purples).

I was happy to have this second chance at a good pattern.  It kind of erased my frustration at the first attempt.

Project:  Navy a-line skirt
Pattern:  Colette Ginger
Fabric:   Heavy navy cotton twill
Notions:    thread, interfacing, invisible zipper
Skills involved:  Placing a zipper.  There is a really cool technique for finishing the zipper that is explained will in the instructions too!
Changes made:  Used a straight waistband instead of shaped.
Fuckups: None that I can remember

And a final note:  RIP red leather flats.  I shouldn't have pushed you so hard on the cobblestone streets of Belfast.  You were a good friend to me....

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My spring/summer capsule wardrobe

So here it is, the culmination of the Wardrobe Architect.  A capsule collection of clothes that fit my style, my needs, and that I can reach for again and again.

I ended up with what was a fairly long list, so we may not see all of these pieces this season.  But when it comes to needs, wants, and budgets, I think this is a really good compromise.

So, for spring, I chose a few silhouettes to keep in mind.  full skirts, slimmer skirts, cardigans, skinny pants, and blousey tops were all featured.  And ballet flats with every outfit.  Which is fitting since I have about a bazillion of them.

So I made a list of each item, how many I had (and love wearing) and how many I would need to have a mixable wardrobe.

In the end I decided on my needs

  • 3 blousey tops with short or mid length sleeves
  • 2 full skirted dresses
  • 2 slimmer dresses
  • 1 easy knit dress
  • 2 full skirts
  • 1 slimmer skirt
  • 1 knit blazer
  • 1 terry sweatshirt
So, make or buy?  The only thing on the list I'm buying is the blazer, because I'm not confident enough in my skills yet to try a structured knit.  I actually already bought it, and really love it.

Next, color.

I thought a lot about this one, and tried not to just go with my first instincts.  I thought about the colors I've been wearing a lot, the fabrics that I've bought and love, and what is flattering on me.  And this is what I came up with.

It's arranged with bolder colors at the tops, nearly neutrals in the middle, and neutrals at the bottom.  At first this image gave me a little pause.  Shouldn't I be choosing crazy bright colors?  It's spring!  But this is colorful without being over the top, and I think entirely mixable/matchable.  I'm also including cream/white even thought it's not shown here.

So from here, I was able to plan specific pieces.  12 pieces to make (and one already bought) that I think will really work for me.

So back to the list above
  • 3 blousey tops with short or mid length sleeves
    • A loose fitting tee shirt in blush colored silk
    • A silk georgette blouse with a neck tie in ochre
    • a short sleeved blouse with peter pan collar in a charcoal and white stripe
  • 2 full skirted dresses
    • A white seersucker dress with tiny embroidered crabs in a poppy red
    • An eyelet dress, color TBD but would love it to be poppy or coral
  • 2 slimmer dresses
    • Button front sleeveless dress in a cat print - aubergine with pink and poppy accents
    • A shirtdress (I think) in a different cat print - very light putty and white
  • 1 easy knit dress
    • Black knit dress with a full skirt and elbow length sleeves
  • 2 full skirts
    • pleated flowy skirt in a dark olive silk georgette
    • print skirt in black and gold - done!
  • 1 slimmer skirt
    • Slim skirt in a bright coral floral
  • 1 knit blazer
    • black and white striped blazer - bought!
  • 1 terry sweatshirt
    • cream terrycloth sweatshirt for lounging
So, that's a lot of colors/prints.  But when I put them together, I think it really works. This combination feels very "me." So I think this exercise was definitely a success. Now I just have to put this into practice!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Crazy cat lady

I'm steadily knocking off items from modcloth like it's my job.  This is the third garment I've made in a few months that is almost identical to something on their site.  The quirky prints in classic silhouettes is just right up my alley, so it makes sense.  But when something is so simple to make (like a dirndl), I just can't resist.

So, apart from the spinster part, I am quickly approaching the definition of a crazy cat lady.  I'm obsessed with my cats.  These are my babies, and I love them so much.  I even have a tattoo of one of my cats (who we lost about a year ago and dude, still not even close to over it).

So, when I saw this skirt on modcloth, I knew it wasn't optional.  I had to have it.

But $60 for a novelty print skirt seemed... excessive.  And I am really trying hard not to make unnecessary clothing purchases right now.  But I wondered if I could find the fabric, and I suspected it was quilting cotton.

Low and behold, I found it.  I think I googled cat frame quilting cotton.  I found it at Hart's Fabric and bought two yards.  This all went down about midweek last week, and I got the fabric delivered to me on Friday or Saturday.  Super quick!

I washed it Sunday morning (along with some other cat themed fabric I'm psyched about) just so it would be ready when the mood struck.  And the mood struck that evening around 5, so I just went with it.

I'm actually in the middle of another project, a silk crepe Colette Zinnia.  I am really happy with how it's turning out, but I still have to attach the waistband (and hem!) and the instructions have me stumped.  I feel like the hard part should be over, even the zipper is done, but I'm just at a loss.  So Sunday afternoon I decided to put it aside and take my mind off it for a few days.  Googling tells me this is a problem for a lot of people.  I may just put the waistband in the way I usually do it and skip the confusing instructions.

ANYWAY.  After I gave up on that skirt I still wanted to make one, so I set about making something quick.  And what's the quickest, easiest garment to make?  A dirndl.

Three rectangles and just a few seams.  It's perfect and cute.  This fabric was even easier because I could use the cats as reference when cutting.

And dude, I LOVE how it turned out.  I think this skirt is the most "my style" thing I've made.

And an advantage mine has over the $60 version?  No partial cats.

No cat left behind (excepting the waistband).

I'm just butt crazy in love with this outfit.  I thought about wearing a bright red sweater but I thought that might be a little TOO Claudia Kishi.

Side note about this project.  After one too many replacements, I finally broke down and bought a legit invisible zipper foot.  Do it.  Do it now.  It is so much better than those little multi-machine plastic pieces of shit you can get at Joann's.  I've used it twice and marveled at how easy it was.

See also:  Clover marking tools.  Every Dritz thing I've bought (tracing paper, pencils, and markers) has been shit.  Just go with Clover and save yourself the money.

So, the details

Project:  Cat portrait skirt
Pattern:  None, just a n easy dirndl.
Fabric:   Cats in Frames from Hart Fabric
Notions:    thread, interfacing, invisible zipper (I just shortened one I already had, hence a black skirt with a lavender zipper!), hook and bar or a large-ish button.
Skills involved:  Geez, this one is so simple.  Almost none.  Gathering and putting in a zipper?  And if you were really worried about the zipper you could do an elastic waist.
Changes made:  N/A.  Actually I was planning to do a button closure but changed my mind at the last minute.
Fuckups: None!  The perks of not working with a pattern I guess

BRB, scouring modcloth for another piece to copy.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Being my Wardrobe Architect

Anyone else been following the Wardrobe Architect on Coletterie?  I thought it was cool at first, but wasn't really following until my great closet purge of '14.  I realized I want to be waaaaay more intentional about my clothes, both purchased and made.

So, although there have been ten "assignments" so far, I would break it down into 4 categories (excluding the beauty post, because I don't think that one really helped me).

Defining your style, Identifying silhouettes, Identifying your colors and prints, and creating a capsule wardrobe.

Defining my style

I'll be honest.  Reading the first questionnaire (Making Style Personal) is what turned me off this whole thing in the first place.  It just seemed...over the top?  I didn't think my family or culture really had an affect on my style.  And while I'm still not sure they do, I think this step helped inform the weeks to come.

But while my style is very, very different from my family and friends, I do think my personality, which is what draws me to certain items, is informed by them.  I come from a big extended family.  There are a lot of us, we are loud, we like to have fun.  Our last Christmas celebration was a night of karaoke, booze, food, and love.  I love us.  Between that, and growing up in the performing arts, I am not afraid to be expressive with my clothes.

I have also found that my mental health affects the way I dress in a huge way.  Dark, neutral, knits = low.  Bright, structured clothes that take a bit more effort = high.

Some other things that I think affect my style

  • Climate.  It's hot, y'all.  I think the biggest effect this has is the lack of seasonal changes.  I don't have seasonal clothes.  The addition of tights, cardigans, and light jackets is really enough to handle our winters.
  • Comfort.  I don't wear heels.  I won't wear heels.  I don't really like to wear pants.  I like to be comfortable.
  • Animals.  I really, really, really love animals.  A lot of the prints I choose reflect this in a big way (this is also evident in my house.  LOTS of animal themed art).
  • Philosophy.  This is something that is relatively new, but I'm trying to focus a lot on limiting my consumerism and being an intentional consumer.
For the second week, we had to choose style icons and words that described clothes we like, clothes we hate, how we want to feel, etc.

My icons had a lot in common.  Feminine, comfortable, easy.
Zooey Deschanel, Taylor Swift, Alexa Chung, Dianna Agron
I had a lot of words, but these are the five I eventually narrowed it down to.  This is how I'd like my style to be described.

Identifying Silhouettes

This section was really pretty simple for me.  I know what shapes I like.  Fuller skirts with slim tops and cardigans.  Skinny pants with slouchier tops.  Slim dresses with cardigan.

And sometimes boots, but nearly always - ballet flats.

Here are a couple of mine, but there were no surprises for me.

Identifying Colors and Prints

The most fun part of this whole thing has been the colors.  I love color, I love coloring, I just loved this.  I made my color chart on my iPad using the Paper app, which makes it really fun and easy to mix colors.

I have three of those colors on today (poppy, royal, and putty).  So I think it's a pretty good indication

Now, I love bright colors, but I also love prints.  Like most beginning sewers, I went crazy buying a bunch of novelty prints when I first started sewing.  Some of these were really great purchases, and things I'll get a ton of wear out of.  But it makes putting separates together a real challenge.  Still, I love a good novelty print and I'm not giving them up (I actually bought two more yesterday, and am psyched to put them to use!).

So I put these together to illustrate the types of prints I love.  Yes, novelty prints, especially involving animals (and especially especially involving cats).  But I also love florals, stripes, and abstracted geometric shapes.

What I'd like to focus on soon is what I call "effective solids."  So, not a solid, but something I can mix with other prints easily.  Keep in mind, one of my words is loud, so this may not be everyone's cup of tea.  But I would consider the stripe, the polka dots, and probably the watercolor floral in this group to be effective solids.

And talking percentages, I would say at least 50% of my wardrobe is prints, and that's how I would like to keep it.  I wear prints almost every day.  They make me happy, and the clothes I reach for over and over again are prints.  The sheep print in the bottom right, that makes up my very favorite dress, that I grab as soon as it comes out of the wash.  I have another novelty print coming that I'm going to make into the same pattern (which is very similar to the yellow dress above).  I just love it.

Creating your Capsule Wardrobe

So this is the next step.  It came up while I was on vacation, so I haven't really started yet.  but I do have a lot of plans for clothes to make this spring/summer.  Too many really.

I'll probably do another post with those plans, but I'm starting this weekend with a dark olive green silk pleated skirt that I'm SO psyched about.  I think, now that I'm nearing the end of this process, it is really cool how all of the steps came together to help plan a wardrobe.  It's really helping me to think about things in an intentional way.

I have 16 pieces in the planning stages.  All are perfectly suited to our weather (including a cream terry sweatshirt that will be great for the air conditioned tundra that is the Southern movie theater).  5 are solids, 5 are effective solids, and 6 are prints that range from the novelty-est of novelty (the cat portraits above) to a small scale floral that's not quite so bold.  And many of them can work well together and work with things I already have.  I'm really excited about the plan coming together like this!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Look what's new at ModCloth!

Great minds, I guess?

ModCloth version:  $79

My version:  I'd say under $15

I haven't worn this one in a while.  I've found that my skills have increased so fast since I started making clothes, and when I go back to the first few things I made, I they just don't feel as good as the newer stuff.  Maybe I'll wear it tomorrow!  Still, it makes me want to take mine apart and make it gathered instead of pleated.  I think it would be way more flattering than the irregular pleats, which I was never a huge fan of anyway.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One Sweet Blouse

I'm back!  After a looooong and wonderful vacation, I'm back home and slowly emerging from my pile of e-mails.  I had an amazing time and so enjoyed seeing the differences in fashion between the US and UK/Ireland (Super short skirts, leggings as pants, madness all around).  But now that I'm home, I'm excited to get back to sewing!  I have a project for this weekend already picked out, and I'll be working with legit expensive silk for the first time.  Here's hoping I won't fuck it up!

And now for a project that I finished right before we left.

There were two things driving me to make this blouse.

First, a recognized need for more solids in my wardrobe.  I actually didn't own a white blouse before I finished this one.  Second, I bought these crazy adorable vintage milk glass buttons on Etsy and needed to make something with them.

I chose a plain seersucker because let's be honest, it's real hot where I live.  And I think this will work perfectly throughout the summer.

This is not something that I would reach for in a store.  I tend toward brighter colors, prints, and usually avoid button downs.  But that's exactly why I needed it in the first place.

I am really, really happy with how this turned out.  I muslined it first, and was super frustrated by the sleeves.  They fit, but it was really uncomfortable to move my arms up/to the front.  After a lot of research, I was able to figure out the issue.

Basically, when you look at a shirt laying flat (or a pattern illustration), the more severe the angle between the sleeve and the shoulder, the less room you'll have.  So a t-shirt where the sleeves basically stick straight out?  Lots of room to move.  A blouse where the sleeves are set in at a low angle?  Fat man in a little coat.

With that in mind, I redrafted the sleeves with a much more flattened sleeve head.  I was skeptical, but it totally worked.  It's WAY more comfortable and flattering.

This is SUCH a good basic.  I love how it's pairing with all of my skirts and bottoms.  I do wish it had just the tiniest bit more length so I was more comfortable wearing it with jeggings.

The best part, though, is the detail.  The seersucker is just so sweet, and the little detail of the glass buttons makes it.  This is one of those items that really doesn't "seem" handmade in person, and it looks pretty expensive.

I am going to use this pattern to make a blouse with some gray/white stripe shirting, and I'm really excited about it.  I think I can make some improvements in the fit at the high bust, and I'm going to add a cute bias detail on the back yoke.

I am really proud of the quality of my work here.  This was the first collar I've made, and I think it turned out pretty darn good!  These are by far the best buttonholes I've made.  And I'm proud of the finishing as well.

So, the stats:

Project:  White seersucker blouse
Pattern:  Colette Violet
Fabric:   Plain white seersucker, bought at High Fashion Fabrics in Houston (my fave fashion fabric store)
Notions:    thread, interfacing, 7 buttons (I had 6 so I just redid the spacing)
Skills involved:  setting sleeves, gathering, buttons/buttonholes, attaching a collar
Changes made:  Changed the button spacing to eliminate one button, redrafted sleeves for freer movement of arms.  I don't remember exactly the sizing changes, but I know I cut at least 2 sizes smaller at the shoulders than at the waist/hip.
Fuckups: None, actually!  I concentrated on taking my time here and I think it paid off.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A $5 dress

Don't you love these projects that come in at crazy cheap prices?

I bought this fabric at the weirdest store in my parents' town.  They have the most random stuff.  Gift bows, dishes, tinsel, tools.  I don't even know what to call it.  But my grandma told me I should go there for fabric.

I didn't have a ton of luck.  They did have a lot of old fabric, but I felt like for the most part their prices weren't great.  Once I went to get the two things I did find cut, I figured out that the prices are merely a suggestion.  Also they're terrible at measuring.  I told her I wanted 5 yards of this but I would take whatever they had.  She said they had under 3 yards and charged me like $1.50/yd for it.  Grand total $4.50 plus tax.  But after making this dress I still have over 1 1/2 yards.  I think it probably was closer to 5 when I started!

Anyway, as soon as I saw this dress I knew what I wanted to do with it.  Well, I knew I wanted to do one of two things.  Either a vertical striped bodice with a horizontal circle skirt, or a bodice cut on the bias.  I decided to try the bias since this fabric was so cheap, and if I couldn't figure it out, so be it.

Well, it took me quite a bit of time, mostly because these stripes are not totally consistent and don't match exactly.  But after an hour or so I had the bodice pieces cut.  The funny thing is, I was looking and looking for a pattern that would work, and I thought I would have to really alter one I already had.  Then I noticed my halloween costume balled up in the floor of my closet and realized this pattern was PERFECT.  It was made to be cut on the bias, and I love it.  This made the cutting a lot easier for me, although there was still a bit of work to do to match up the stripes.

So here it is!  I was happy when I looked at the weather and realized it would be perfect for today.  I didn't line this as I wanted a cool, breathable summer dress.

I am having some unfortunate issues with dart bubbles, which is usually not a problem for me.  I'm going to try to fix it tonight.

Check out those perfectly lined up stripes though!

The back is also a vee, which is really cute.  I love how this pattern sort of slopes off of the shoulders.  It's perfect for this fabric.

I only used the pattern for the bodice, and just did a dirndl skirt.  The pattern also calls for a dirndl.  But it's LONG and FULL which I wasn't looking for.  This silhouette is much nicer for me.

I'm trying to decide what to do with the rest of this fabric.  It's pretty distinctive so I'm not sure I want another real piece of clothing.  It's SO soft though.  Maybe pajamas?  Or I might say fuck it and just do a shirt.  Everyone knows I sew a lot of my clothes anyway, so it wouldn't be a shocker.

I'm a big fan of this dress.  Weirdly, none of the stripes are colors that I particularly love (or love on me) but I'm really drawn to it as a whole.  Brett said it looks like a grandma's couch.  "Not your grandma, but A grandma." I like how he clarified because he knows my grandma is too cool to have a couch like this.  I'm not sure he's converted yet.  But he'll have to get used to it, because I can see myself wearing this a LOT this summer.

Project:  Bias stripe dress
Pattern:  Vintage Vogue V8789
Fabric:   Some old soft cotton?
Notions:    thread.  It calls for a 12" zipper at the side.  I eliminated this because there's enough ease to pull it over my head
Skills involved:  Cutting on the bias, matching patterns, gathering, putting in a zipper if you're not shaped like a triangle!
Changes made:  Eliminated zipper, self drafted (too strong a word. I cut out some rectangles) the skirt to eliminate some fullness.  I was originally planning to put the zipper in the back, so I split the skirt in the back and sewed it all together with the back open, which I think made the gathering of the skirt quite a bit easier!
Fuckups:  I originally sewed the skirt on inside out.  That was fun to unpick!  Other than that, no mistakes!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lighter than Air

This is another garment that I am just so proud of. Because this didn't really have any new skills hat I haven't used before, I really focused on quality and finishing. There were times when I would see the end of a task (ironing pleats!) in sight and get so excited, only to realize I had to do the same thing to the lining. Argh!

But! All of the hard work was definitely worth it. This is the first thing I've made that to me, doesn't feel home-made. And it actually feels pretty expensive!

When I found this fabric, I thought it looked familiar. Then I came back across this dress on modcloth and realized why. 

It's adorable. It's $80 and it was sold out in my size.

So I snapped up some of the fabric (from superbuzzy.com), and thought about what to make. I chose a fairly simple knee length dress with a pleated skirt and cap sleeves.  The pattern called for a lined bodice, but I also lined the skirt because this was a pretty light fabric. 

So, here it is!

Love it, love it, LOVE IT. 

It's so comfy and flattering and adorable. 

The first time I wore it, the clerk at the gas station asked me if I was a teacher. Um, are you trying to imply that anthropomorphic hot air balloons are anything other than professional, sir?

The sleeves have this really adorable pleated detail that gives them a little volume, but not too much. 

But really, what I'm most proud of is the finishing. 

The inside is almost as beautiful as the outside!

Look at this encased zipper!

The seams in the bodice are all stitched and pinked. The skirt seams on the lining are French seams, and the skirt seams are all bound with bias tape. The hem of the lining is bound and the skirt hem is finished with grosgrain ribbon.  All of this gives it some nice weight and will make it last if I take care of it. 

I am really so proud of this dress. And it's shown me that if I am patient and take my time, I really can do this.

Project:  hot air balloon dress
Pattern:  Simplicity 1873 (by Cynthia Rowley)
Fabric:  Balloon Ride in Garden (bought from superbuzzy.com)
Notions: 22" invisible zipper, I used 2-3 packages of bias tape for the seam binding, one package for the lining hem, and probably 2-3 yards of ribbon (this skirt is heavily pleated and it has a really long hem).  But that is all optional. 
Skills involved:  placing an invisible zipper, fitting a bodice, pleating
Changes made:  I fully lined the dress, instead of just doing the bodice. And I also eliminated some of the pleats on the sleeves because I wanted a little less volume after I did the muslin. 
Fuckups:  I didn't pay enough attention while cutting and the layout wasn't meant for one way designs, so I ended up with two upside down panels. Luckily they weren't too far off square so I was able to flip them and just trim a bit. 

Truly adorable!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Follow your Arrow (but not in this case)

This skirt sucks.

I wrote a big long post about it, but dude.  It sucks.  So that's what I'm going to say.

I'm kind of upset about it because this was the first item that I had a real clear vision for when I got my new machine.

I love arrows, and I loved the colors in this fabric.  And I knew I wanted a skirt with a border of them around the hem.  So I ordered the arrow fabric and a coordinating solid from Spoonflower, and got to work.

I used a new pattern and didn't do a muslin because I'm dumb.  So the skirt is a little tighter than I would prefer across my hips.  I can easily fix that next time, and it's not the real problem with this skirt either.

The problem is the fabric.

It's the cotton poplin from Spoonflower and it was 20 freaking dollars a yard!  But I liked it so much I was okay with paying that.  I chose the poplin because it was suggested for skirts.  But it sucks.  It wrinkles like CRAZY.  Which I could honestly deal with.  I have an iron.  But it also sticks to everything.  Tights, underwear, even my silk top.  It just grabbed everything and would not let go.  Which made the back zip a bit of a challenge.

My main issue with the fabric was first that it wore so easily.  I noticed this on another skirt I made with the same poplin.  But when I washed it once, the color was wearing away on any edges or seams.  After ONE wash, on gentle, and being hung to dry.  And when I pulled out this fabric to make it, I noticed that where I had folded it when I washed it, the printing was wearing away from the folds.  Just from being folded and sitting in my craft closet for a few weeks.  It's really ridiculous that this is what I got for $20 a yard.

Another huge issue was the fact this it shows needle holes so easily.  I mean, look at this where I took out some basting stitches.  I don't expect it to completely disappear but this is ridiculous.  Holes from pins look the same way.  It's not leather, it's cotton!  It shouldn't require this sort of care.

Anyway.  It's the worst, and I'm sad about it.  I'm going to try the pattern again.

Baa Baa

I love this dress!!

It's actually a good thing I made this right before the arrow skirt because I was still on a high and not TOO upset about how horrible that turned out.

This one is all about the fabric, for sure, but I also love the button front bodice and the silhouette.  I had used the skirt part of this pattern twice (on the bird skirt and another one I haven't posted, and might not ever. It's quite a bit too short!).  I liked it, but didn't feel it was super flattering with the uneven pleats.

I did do a muslin of the bodice for this, and pinned it to the bird skirt for fitting purposes.  This fit me almost perfectly as printed.  I just needed to take a little bit of length off the shoulders, and take it in at the sides slightly.  This wasn't unexpected as the bird skirt was a bit too big.

I cut the skirt pieces for one size smaller than the bodice, but I didn't pleat them.  I gathered them instead and just spread the gathers to fit.  I wanted it to be a bit less full than the last skirt and I think it was perfect.

I loved, LOVED this fabric from the minute I saw it.  It was not cheap ($18/yard), but I just loved the print so much.  This light mauve color is one of my favorites to wear, and the adorable sheep and sheepdogs was just right up my alley.  It also washed wonderfully, and it has a great weight and feel.  It's probably my favorite fabric I've ever used, no joke.

Because it is a little cutesy though, I wanted to stick with a somewhat clean, classic design.  I think this pattern was spot on for that.  The button front gives it a bit of interest, but there's not too much detail and it's a very simple silhouette.

I took these photos immediately after I pulled it on this morning (because I am somewhat triangle shaped, I generally can pull dresses on without unzipping.  Am I the only one that does this?  It just makes it easier getting dressed by myself in the morning), and it's pulling to one side.  Dangit.  It doesn't do this all the time, I promise!

The bodice is not very fitted, which I really like with this style.  It's so comfy!  I do think I could stand to do a slight small bust adjustment next time, but it really does fit well.

All styled up for the office.  Side note, I got upgraded so a corner suite with tons of windows this week, so I couldn't resist using it to take outfit photos.  We also start work a bit later at this office, plus it takes me like 5 minutes to drive to work from my hotel.  It's such a nice change to go to work when it's already bright and sunny!

So, the breakdown

Project:  Sheep dress
Pattern:  Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 2215
Fabric:  Sheeeeep by Cotorienne, bought from superbuzzy
Notions:  9" invisible zipper, 4 7/8" buttons
Skills involved:  placing an invisible zipper, making buttonholes, sewing buttons, fitting a bodice
Changes made:  I gathered the skirt instead of pleating, and also did a full lining on the skirt.  The pattern calls for 1 yd of lining, but that's just for the bodice.  I think I used roughly 2 yards of a 60" width lining.
Fuckups:  somehow the bodice back ended up longer than the front on the zipper side.  It's not a really visible error, but it was pretty funny the first time I noticed it (photo below!).  I also should have finished the hem of the lining better (I just pinked it but that's not really suitable for the fabric at all).  I might cut it off and do a bias binding to give it some weight.


Monday, January 6, 2014

It's a new year!

And it's going to be a tough one for me.  Work wise, mostly.  I am still commuting to Houston each week, and will be doing that for a few months.  At which point, we are hoping to sell our house, find a new house in New Orleans, and move down there.  Then I'll be working half time outside of New Orleans and half time outside of Baton Rouge.  I don't know why I can't pick a role that just keeps me in one place...

On top of that, I'm transitioning into a new job with a lot more responsibility and leadership.  It is exciting, but it will be hard.

So, with all of that in mind, my goal for 2014 is to remain focused on what is important.  My job is really important to me.  I love it and it brings me a lot of satisfaction.  So that's on the list, but it's not the most important thing.  I also need to keep focusing on my health and my family.

One of the things I want to do that I think will really help in this area is to eliminate clutter.  Both physically and mentally.

I started this year with a huge clean out of my closet.  As my husband pointed out, I do this occasionally, get rid of a couple of bags full, and then go shopping and cram it all in again.  Which is totally true.

But as I went through my clothes I was really thinking about focusing in on what I need.  I got rid of SO MUCH.  I used to have my side of the closet completely crammed full.  Zero room (and I use the huggable hangers so I'm already maxed on usable space.  I should have counted my items before I started!  But I had about 6 feet of linear feet, plus another hanging bar with another 3-4 feet.  Just full, and full of things I never touched.

Now, I've eliminated the second bar, put in a little hanging shelf unit for my sweaters and workout clothes, and have TONS of additional space.  It's absolutely no trouble finding stuff.  It's so much easier now!  I would estimate that I probably got rid of 100+ items.

A couple of things I noticed as I was going through.  The vast majority of things I was getting rid of fell into the "fast fashion" category.  Target, Old Navy, Gap, H&M.  LOTS of Target stuff.  I liked things and bought them, wore them a couple of times and moved on to the next thing.  Most of my higher quality clothes (Anthro and J. Crew purchases mostly) were held onto.  The ones that I did let go of, I'm going to try to sell online, because they're still in great condition.

Also, I got rid of barely any shoes.  2 pairs of worn out house shoes and a lone black ballet flat that didn't have a match.  I made a decision a couple of years ago that I would spend the money on quality shoes that would last.  I think that shows that I need to extend that thought to the rest of my wardrobe.

The only real gap I noticed was the lack of basic solids.  I wear a lot of prints.  I love prints and I don't see that as an issue, but I do need some more basic pieces to mix in.  I think this was a really good exercise because now I know exactly where to focus my efforts in my sewing projects.  The problem is, I have 12 projects planned (and have material bought) and all of them, every one, are with prints.  I know I need to mix some solids in there, and I am definitely going to make that happen.

Taking the giant (seriously GIANT!) box to goodwill was such a good feeling, just to be rid of it all.  I am excited to extend that feeling to all of the areas of our house, as well as my life.  I think this will be a good year. :)