Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sew Sexy Sew-Along: A Silky Colette Zinnia

I was so excited when my girl Lisette announced that she and the fabulous Nettie and Clio were having a sew-along. They write three of my favorite blogs and I have had the privilege of meeting all three of them in person -- so you know I was in from the word go.

The ladies in charge announced that anything you consider to be sexy was in for this challenge.

Now, I don't particularly consider myself "sexy" so I knew this might be difficult. But I also had the perfect Betsey Johnson bow-print silky goodness in my stash, and, as a bonus, I was feeling like I needed some silky-fabric sewing practice.

And thus my idea was born. A silky, flippy, fun skirt. What could be more sexy?

I even had a good pattern idea. Colette Patterns recently released Zinnia, which, at first blush, kind of looks like a skirt that does not necessitate a pattern. But it does include an option for a lined chiffon skirt. Bingo! I needed all the help I could get for my first shifty-fabric project.

The bow-print fabric is from Fabrics for Less in New York and says Betsey Johnson on the selvage; I have no idea what it's actually made of. I burned a small bit and it stank and melted, so we can be fairly certain that it's synthetic.

It is very sheer and very very shifty.

 But thanks to the Internets, I knew how to combat those issues.

At least in theory.

I used my rotary cutter (which, let's be honest, I use for everything I make) and tons of silk pins and I still ended up with a lot of trimming.

My blogland pal Lauren, who also bought some of this fabric (and made a freaking dress -- she is so brave) was kind enough to advise me about interfacing over email. I had read that one should not use fusible with sheer fabrics and I had no idea what to use/buy.

But Lauren assured me that she was 99.99 percent sure she'd used Pro Weft Lightweight fusible from Fashion Sewing Supply. Sold! I love high-quality interfacing -- why don't I ever buy it? Anyway, I immediately ordered a couple of yards of black (and some white -- and some clear elastic, because why not?)

I lined the skirt in black bemburg rayon from G Street and I used some miscellaneous black silk machine thread from Elfreide's in Colorado and microtex needles from Amazon. I have a stash of short black zippers from my awesome friend Alicia's craft room clean-out and I used a big pants-style hook and eye closure for the waistband.

Every seam is a French seam, except the back seam, which I ran through the serger (and it basically sneezed out the bow-print -- much ironing ensued.)

I also finally learned to use my rolled hem foot with this project -- it's so fun to use! I was so impressed with the uniform double-fold hems. I will definitely be using this foot again.

I made one major major change to the pattern to make my life easier -- I gathered the skirt instead of pleating. After working through the skirt pieces, I had no idea how I could possibly form nice-looking pleats.

So I punted.

The gathers look totally fine to me, though. I basted the skirt and the lining, serged them together and then gathered the waist seam.

Way easier than pleats. I'll save the pleating for cotton, thanks.

I definitely feel sexy and swishy and fancy when I wear this skirt, so I think the sew-along goal was reached. 

I see this skirt as a nice date skirt -- although I should probably make up a cute black silk top so that I don't have to wear a random Old Navy tank top from three years ago, but hey -- I'll get there. 

For now, I'm really happy with this project. And I can say I own a Betsey Johnson skirt, which is pretty awesome. So thanks, ladies, for the fantastic sew-along challenge! <3

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Quick Jaunt to New York!

I had the best time in New York this past weekend.

Lladybird Lauren, whose meetup I attended last year, was heading to the Big Apple this weekend and decided to make an event of it. 

Originally, I wasn't intending to go, since I ended up planning an earlier trip. But when that trip was canceled for bad weather, I immediately jumped on the meetup train, and I'm so pleased I did! 

We all met up at Mood at 1 p.m. and there was QUITE the group. Lauren was there of course, as was Marcy (in one of her Project Sewn dresses), Lisette (who is super sweet), Jennifer (who recently traded me a pattern that I still need to sew up!), Fleur (who has a really good Instagram account), Amanda (I met her at Male Pattern Boldness day), Suzanne (also met at MPB day!), Clare, Nettie, Madalynne (she brought us all vintage silk thread -- so sweet!), Juli (I read her blog, but I didn't recognize her in person, lol), Cindy and Elaine (who don't have blogs but are still really cool), Angela (she just moved back from Japan and has the cutest blog ever) -- oh gosh, and who else? 

Several people I saw, recognized and didn't get a chance to talk to (Sonja and Amity). And several people I talked to and didn't write down their blog names. So I'm totally depending on the rest of roundups to link to them so I can figure out who they are! I try to make sure I follow every person I meet at these meetups, so if you're not listed, you should hit me up in the comments. ;-)

Hilariously, about three or four of us wore our Sewaholic Minorus. Most people seemed to be wearing at least one homemade clothing item, which, can I just say, is the coolest thing ever? I made a new dress just for the event (which I'll share later on -- after wearing it for an entire day, I decided the armscyes need fixing.)

It is so nice to meet up with sewing folks. I don't know anyone around here who's into sewing, so it's neat to be able to get in-depth opinions on things like sewing silk and lining wedding dresses. 

... Speaking of which, I bet you can guess what I bought. 


Wedding dress fabric! Eep! 

Not only did I spend a wonderful day luxuriating in the wonder of Mood and the company of lovely and talented ladies. I also found the perfect wedding dress fabric! 

The top fabric is a silk charmeuse to use for lining. The bottom two are a delightfully soft silk-cotton blend. I got four yards of each, just to be safe. 

I also got some light purple cotton sateen to make a dress for Greg's sister's wedding (I'm a bridesmaid) and some light pink silk for Greg's mom. 

In other news, I finished my first sweater (pictures to come) and started a second one, which I worked on during the bus trip home. 

What a fun way to spend a Saturday. :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Advice Needed: Am I Finished?

Last week I had a super stressful meeting coming up at work. So what did I do the night before said meeting? 

Stress sewing, of course!

Here we have a Sewaholic bonanza --  a Hollyburn from a thick brushed cotton from Mood and a white Renfrew.

I love the combination of navy and white. I am a sailor, after all. I had some white piping left over from some baby sewing I did for my God-daughter, so I decided to add piping to the waistband of this skirt.

Of course now, in retrospect, I think I probably should have used piping in the pockets. Instead, all I did was white top-stitching at the pockets and hem.

I keep going back and forth about whether I like the piping at the waistband and the top-stitching elsewhere or if I should have done piping at the pockets and a blind hem.

What do you think?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Work-at-Home Chic: Another Hollyburn Skirt

Well, we had another massive snowstorm last night. I'd originally planned to travel to New York today with Christine to buy fabric for my wedding dress, but, of course, we had to postpone -- which means we're going to Lladybird's meetup in a couple weeks instead! So we'll get to hang out with some lovely blogland babes AND get our shopping done. 

Anyway, instead of an awesome shopping trip, I took advantage of the beautiful scenery to photograph one of my favorite recent makes!

This is a grey corduroy Hollyburn skirt. I love my first Hollyburn so much that when I saw a lovely soft grey corduroy at Fabric Mart in Pennsylvania, I snagged a couple of yards for a Hollyburn. It's very slightly stretchy, which makes it super comfortable.

While I did button tabs on the waistband of my first Hollyburn, I decided a plain waistband would be best here.

This pattern takes no time at all to make up -- I finished this entire skirt in a single night. Instant gratification!

The most difficult part of this was pressing the corduroy so that I didn't squash the lovely cords. I read somewhere on the Internet about someone using a piece of corduroy as a press cloth, so I tried that. I also ironed from the wrong side.

As per usual, I cut the pattern pieces and then serged all the edges before sewing. I love the clean look of serged edges.

I wear this skirt at least once a week -- it's perfect for working at home because it's nice and free below the waist. I can run around with the dogs and sit with my legs crossed comfortably.

Plus, I always think it's nice to wear actual clothing when I work at home. Too many days of yoga pants and sweatshirts and I start to feel grody.

My current favorite way to wear this skirt lately is with fleecy tights, a long-sleeved T-shirt and the shawl my mom made me. (Usually I wear slippers instead of snow boots!)

You may have seen this shawl before -- I wore it tons during Me-Made May last year. It's a favorite of mine. It's so easy to wear and it's super warm. I think she knitted it from an acrylic yarn? I adore it and really want a second one. Maybe after I finish the sweater I'm knitting.

I definitely love the Hollyburn pattern and will probably make several more of this skirt. It's super versatile, very simple and -- of course -- it fits perfectly.

Hope all my fellow East Coasters are enjoying the snow! (At least a little bit.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Things I've Sewn Lately: Victory Patterns Lola

 Greg and I finally made it out to Seattle. Though the weather has been a bit rainy today, the sun made a brief appearance late in the afternoon and we were able to snap a few photos of my Victory Patterns Lola dress.

The fabric, like my red Lady Skater, came from Girl Charlee. This fabric is actually why I placed an order in the first place. It's a Primp-brand sweatshirt fleece with a mouse print. And the mice have hearts for eyes. I swoon. 

This is the absolute softest fabric and it was really inexpensive (I think they've sold out, sadly, because I no longer see it on their website.) I bought two yards without a project in mind -- which I almost never do -- but inspiration came when I started seeing Lolas popping up in different blogs. 

I opted to buy Lola as a PDF and I will say it was super easy to assemble. The pieces joined together much more easily than more PDF patterns I've used. And the construction method and style lines remind me a lot of my beloved avocado hoodie, so the process seemed really familiar. I always think princess seaming is so flattering. Sweatshirt dresses I've owned in the past have been very boxy, so it's nice to have one with a little shape. 

There is an underbust seam, which made for an easy way to grade the sizes. I cut a four in the top and an eight at the bottom. All the bottom pieces are graded from a six at the waist to an eight at the bottom to accommodate my pear-shapedness.  

The dress has enormous pockets, which can only ever be a bonus in my book. I was worried about drawing attention to the aforementioned pear-shapedness, but instead of leaving the pockets baggier at the top, as they're supposed to be, I left them to mirror the shape of the bottom of the dress. The fabric is stretchy, though, so I can still put my hands in my pockets. 

The pattern directs you to use ribbing for the hemline, neckline and sleeve bands, but I just used self bands -- I'm not a huge ribbing fan, to be honest. 

The dress is super warm and comfortable, and, of course, wearable with my Jalie leggings, which seems to be a theme in my sewing this winter. 

I sewed the majority of the dress on the serger and did a little top-stitching with a ballpoint needle and wooly nylon thread I bought at Sil Thread in NYC on my last trip there.

In case you were wondering about the backdrop for these photos and the "interesting" lighting, we took these pictures with the Fremont Troll in Seattle (he lives under a bridge.)

We had a nice chat. ;-)

And as a bonus, Mr. Troll lives near a brewery Greg likes, so Greg got a growler of beer to share with his sister!

If you've made a Lola dress, share it in the comments -- I'd love to see some more takes on this. I feel like there has to be a cute way to turn it into a regular (non-dress) sweatshirt, right?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Things I've Sewn Lately: A Valentine's Day Lady Skater

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! 

We've had tons of snow here the past two days -- there's about a foot of it out in our yard right now. As a result, our flight out to Seattle to spend some time with Greg's sister and her fiance got canceled. We were all supposed to go out for a lovely dinner tonight, but clearly that won't be happening. And I couldn't seem to make reservations for anywhere tonight. So a lovely night in it is! At least we were able to reconfigure our schedules with work and get a new flight out for tomorrow afternoon, so that's something! 

Anyway, back to a more cheerful topic: sewing! This is the lovely Lady Skater dress by indie pattern company Kitschy Coo. I'd never heard of Kitschy Coo until I started seeing this dress pop up on lots of blogs, but I can see why it's been making frequent appearances around the interwebz. It's amazing.

The fabric is a cardinal red ponte de Roma from Girl Charlee. I ordered from Girl Charlee for the first time right after Christmas and I could not be more pleased with the service and fabric. Plus, they give you 10 percent off your first order. I will caution you, though, in case you order this fabric, that it definitely can snag. But the upshot is that ponte is just a dream to sew.

The Lady Skater goes together exceptionally quickly. I actually made it the night before a party. I wasn't rushing or anything -- this dress is just that easy! 

It's also a good base for accessories, so I felt totally justified in buying the leather bow belt I'm wearing in these pictures. 

 It must also be said that this dress is super comfy. It's like wearing pajamas.

The one and only thing I don't like about this pattern is the sleeve length, which is a touch awkward on me. I love three-quarter sleeves, but I feel like these are hitting in an awkward place -- probably because my arms are a bit on the long side -- and bunching in my elbows. I think in my next version I'll either lengthen them a bit or shorten them to just above the elbows.

Make no mistake: There will be a next version. Or six.

I'm really proud of the top-stitched collar on this dress, too. I've been trying to do my top-stitching more neatly lately and I think it's paying off!

I definitely recommend both the Lady Skater and Girl Charlee -- I'm really pleased with the way they worked together for this dress (if you couldn't tell.) 

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day! Please do share if you have any exciting plans so I can live vicariously through you. ;-)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Things I've Sewn Lately: Plaid on Plaid on Plaid!

Oh my goodness, ya'll. I've cracked the shirt. 

My love of plaid flannel shirts goes deep. But I've rarely been able to buy any, because they are always -- ALWAYS -- too short for me in sleeve and in body. Thankfully, I've learned to sew.

I ordered this plaid flannel from Mood with the Archer shirt in mind, and it's delightfully soft and snuggly. I pre-washed it about three times, though, because flannel is so shrinky. And I intend always to dry this shirt on the line.

It must be preserved at all costs!

I'd never used a plaid fabric before, but, after reading multiple tutorials, including one by the lovely Lladybird Lauren, I decided to give it a try.

I made a muslin of view A of the Grainline Studios Archer Shirt and, somewhat predictably, decided to add five inches to the body of the shirt before take two, which got me to the perfect length for me. I wanted to be able to wear the shirt with my beloved Jalie leggings and still cover my toosh.

I also graded between sizes at the top and at the bottom, as we pears are wont to do.

Do you see my mistake at the back? (Other than not pressing the pleat after washing/before photographing, woops.) I did the collar upside down! I decided just to go with it, though. It doesn't bother me at all since I don't usually look at the back of my neck, and I was out of fabric by this point.

I also somehow ended up with the buttons on the wrong side. But who cares about that? I can't even tell anymore.

I cut the back yoke, front button placket, collar and cuffs on the bias.

The buttons I used are simple tortoiseshell-look plastic buttons from JoAnn Fabrics.

I loved my first version so much that I scurried right out to JoAnn's to buy some more plaid flannel. I wore the first shirt something like three times in three days and decided I desperately needed a backup.

Enter the buffalo check Archer!

I got the button band on the right side on this one!

And I put the cuffs in like a ninja. (Bridesperson Kelly was visiting this weekend and was present for the photoshoot; he insisted on the ninja hands. This one's for you, Kelly!)

I, like everyone else in the sewing blog world, can't say enough good things about Archer.These are by far the best plaid shirts I've ever owned -- and the only ones I've ever had that fit!

These were fun to make and a nice break from wedding obsession! Though, speaking of wedding obsession, which of these two hairstyles do you like for wedding hair? Either? They're my current top contenders. 

Anyway, go forth and conquer the Archer if you haven't done so yet! I'm already planning to make it a third time -- solid grey flannel, I think. Hurray for clothes that fit!