Thursday, March 28, 2013

Introducing Miss Lyra!

 I mentioned in my last post that Greg and I had adopted a dog -- and here she is!

Readers, this is Lyra. She is a 1-year-old mixed breed dog from a local rescue place called Friends of Homeless Animals. 

Adopting a dog was a fairly difficult process for us. We applied to another organization first and were denied for an unknown reason, which was really disheartening. And then at FOHA, we were accepted, but the first dog we wanted had three (!) families apply for her, and a different family was the best match. But, we were so lucky in FOHA. They told us that since we were approved, but had been denied our first choice, we would be first on the list for another dog if we were a good match.

We tried out several dogs to see who might be a good match, and we fell in love with Lyra, who used to be called Terri. She had only just come out of isolation at the shelter, so she didn't know her name at all (or her name, Wysteria, from a previous shelter.) And instead of waiting a week (dogs can only be adopted on the weekends) we took her home the same day we met her!

We decided to call her Lyra. I've always been a fan of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Phillip Pullman, and the main character of those books, a slightly rough little girl, is named Lyra.

Our Lyra is a sweet girl who loves people and other dogs, but she's very shy and quiet -- we're hoping she'll get more comfortable with time! She is getting better every day. She can climb stairs all by herself and is willing to go into different rooms of the house alone.

My cousins even visited this past week and she was fine with having a 9-year-old in the house (though his exuberance made her a bit wary.)

We have no idea what happened to her before we got her, but she's ours now and we love her!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New York, New York!

What a wonderful town!

I'm so sorry to post this an entire week and a half after the fact, but I got busy once we ended up ADOPTING A DOG. But more on her later. First, the meetup!

I was so giddy leading up to this trip, it was totally unreal. I went to New York for a meetup organized by Lauren of Lladybird, got to meet a bunch of other amazing bloggers (and non-bloggers!), go fabric shopping in the Garment District (Hello, Mood!), hang out with some of Greg's friends, eat some incredible food and generally nerd out. I seriously had the best time.

I know it sounds all kinds of crazy to drive four hours to go fabric shopping, but the prices and selection in New York are way better than they are here.

When we arrived in New York, we parked the car and immediately headed to Mood for the meetup, which was awesome and awkward and amazing and a million other adjectives.

Photo stolen from @Mood_Fabrics

Look at these beautiful ladies! From left to right, starting at the top, we have Shelley, Meredith, Gaby, Charlotte, Lee, Kayleigh, Carly, Kim, Nettie, Sonja, Lisette, Janice, Lauren, Oona, me, Devra and Rosie. (Oh goodness, PLEASE correct me if I got that wrong!)

We sent about an hour and a half tearing around Mood. I wish I'd had even more time! I mostly just stuck to the main floor -- wish I'd had time to go upstairs! I was on a mission to buy fabric for a ton of upcoming projects: denim for a Ginger, knits for Renfrews, printed cotton for a Lonsdale, silk blends for work blouses. I went with a whole list in my little book.

After Mood, we went to Fabrics for Less and Chic Fabrics, as well as Pacific Trimming.

And then we went for drinks and snacks at Houndstooth Pub. I sat between Lee, who was wearing a beautiful bamboo wrap sweater she made (I covet it!) and Meredith, who just started a blog after the meetup. I wish I'd gotten to spend more time talking to everyone -- they were all so cool! Shelley was super nice and found me on Twitter the night before the meetup, so we bonded over mutual giddiness. Lauren let me try her Minoru coat on -- let's just say I need to cut a slightly larger size than she did. She is so tiny in real life! (OK, OK, so maybe part of it is that I'm tall.) Oona has the loveliest speaking voice and I'm convinced she knew every single person in Mood. Charlotte is studying in D.C. -- and she too is disappointed by the selection and prices at G Street! I won't go on and say something about everyone, though I certainly could!

Instead, I'll show you what I bought:

That piece of denim was much larger -- but I already made a skirt from it. The grey wool is from Azaymoon, the teal knit and black silk print are from Chic Fabrics and the tan with black print is from Fabrics for Less. (I think -- I may have reversed Chic and Fabrics for Less -- the stores are very similar and are owned by the same people.)

Funny story about the printed cotton on the left in the photo below. It was in a pile of cut fabrics at Fabrics for Less, and I pulled it out and asked the shop owner what it was. He spread it out on the table -- it looked to be about a yard -- and said "$10!" Well. That answered that question!  

The fabric on the right will be my Lonsdale dress.

OK, so I know I'm the worst copycat in the world, but Lauren pointed out that bow fabric in the back -- she'd bought some the day before -- and when I went back the next day for the aqua knit in the knits picture, I just couldn't resist. I bought just enough for a blouse. It was too pretty. Also, it's Betsey Johnson. Um, yes please!

Silk blends
Bonus picture of my new assistant, Lyra. More on her in a separate post!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Things I've Sewn Lately: Butterick B5649

As a preview of my New York post -- in which I'll link to the other bloggers I met and show off the lovely fabrics I bought -- I thought I'd post about a skirt I wore on the trip.

I made Butterick B5649 a couple of weeks ago and hadn't worn it out until we went to New York (does anyone else try to save a garment's first trip out for a special day? Am I alone here?)

I can't remember where I saw a button-front skirt like this for sale, but I wanted it instantly. I adore buttons. I mean, the expression "cute as a button" exists for a reason, right?

The fabric is a slightly textured navy cotton blend from G Street Fabrics. Navy is one of my favorite colors to wear, so I was instantly drawn to this particular fabric for a skirt. I don't know why, but I find it really easy to buy blouse fabrics, but bottom-weight fabrics intimidate me a bit. I suppose I'm more familiar with sewing dresses and blouses than skirts. The only downside to this fabric was that it did have a bit of a fraying problem. It really wanted to shed everywhere when I was cutting! I wish I'd thought ahead and bought seam binding, but alas. Next time.

The pattern, interestingly enough, called for "waistband interfacing," which I'd never seen before. They didn't have any a G Street and the ladies at my local JoAnn had never heard of it (hilariously, the saleslady tried to sell me horsehair braid instead -- I had to explain to her that so far as I knew, horsehair braid was for hems, not waistbands!)

My mom was shocked that no one sold it. She, apparently, used to use it all the time. Amazon, luckily, had some for $6 and it was Prime eligible. Score! I ended up LOVING the stuff. So easy to use! It's two long strips of interfacing connected by thin bits of interfacing so that you can put it in the correct size of waistband and easily fold it over. I thought the finished look was really nice. I also cut it in half to do the plackets.

Here's a closer look:

I used cover buttons for the first time. So fun! I think they look so polished. I love things that match.

The fit on this skirt was great. I used the finished garment measurements and it was perfect. I made a teeny tiny short muslin, just because I don't trust those tricky Butterick patterns. Greg thought the micro-miniskirt muslin was hysterical -- I think my dummy is still wearing it as a cape.

In addition to the skirt, I've got on an ancient Old Navy top that I'm about 10 seconds away from ripping apart to remake (it has a very pretty low scoop back) and an equally ancient (nearly dead) J Crew cotton sweater. And, my favorite part, an old necklace of my mom's. I think my dad bought it in Florida on a business trip in the '80s?

I used the very bitter end of some blouse fabric for the pocket lining. I was so in love with that fabric, but G Street only had a yard. I managed to squeeze a simple blouse out of it and two pocket linings. Not bad, right? I had to make the pockets slightly smaller to accommodate the fact that I had so little fabric.

All of these photos, as you probably can tell, were taken in New York in the Fashion District information area. An older couple walked by while Greg took pictures of me (freezing my patootie off with no coat on) with my pockets out. Pretty sure they thought I was crazy. There was hardcore judgement face happening. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, right?

Bonus picture of my favorite fashion photographer. <3

Click here for my Pattern Review post!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Things I've Sewn Lately: Washi Dress

When I went to Seattle, the ladies in one of the fabric stores I visited highly recommended the Washi Dress. It looked like a cute dress, and I was intrigued by the fact that one of the recommended fabrics was quilting cotton, so I snagged a copy.

I also snagged two super cute high-quality quilting cottons. I do think high-quality matters in using quilting cotton for apparel because the nicer fabrics have higher thread count (which means they drape a little more nicely.) The pattern itself is printed on really nice thick paper. It says you should trace, but I am so not a tracer, so I cut. 
Also, it has pockets. Any dress with pockets gets automatic points in my book. I love pockets. 

The instructions are super clear and all on one big page, single-sided, which I appreciated, but they do NOT adequately explain the fact that the back should be all one piece. It's two pattern pieces, which is the way I cut it the first time, but BEWARE. You should cut it all in one piece. Live and learn, right? I did it correctly on my shirt version.

The dress came out cute, but I have to say, the cut is not super flattering on me. (I apologize for the poor photos. Unless I can get pictures on a sunny weekend day outside, I have to use a LOT of flash.) I feel like it's a little.... maternity on me. However, I do think that would be fairly easy to solve. Also, I think this dress would be PERFECT for working in the garden/hanging out on a summer weekend day. It's so loose and easy to wear -- and light because it's quilting cotton -- that I feel like super flattering or not, it would be a dream on a super hot summer day. 

I did learn a couple of new techniques on this dress. I'd never done shirring before and I'd never used bias tape before (which is really hard to believe, because it seems like the sewing blogger community is crazy for the stuff -- but my mom always told me that bias tape is for people who don't know how to finish their seams nicely. Woops.)

One thing about quilting cotton that kind of sucks is that the edges fray LIKE CRAZY. So there's a lot of seam binding to do.

I also messed up the neckline on the dress a bit. I had to unpick it and that stretched the fabric pretty badly. Hence the wrinkle at the neckline. Lame.

I also made a shirt version out of a super cute (also grey and white -- yikes) quilting cotton with little anchors on it.

The above picture clearly illustrates what I think is unflattering on me about this shirt. It's just... too wide. It made me little a little pregnant, I think. 

Here's that shirring detail I mentioned. Shirring is super fun! You get to sew with elastic thread in the bobbin and regular thread in the needle. And then when you're done, you steam it and VOILA! it shrinks up into shirring.

Ultimately, I think I'll take a bunch out of that front panel. Don't you think this is much more flattering with a smaller silhouette?

I also made an awful mistake of cutting the actual shirt when I was trimming the hem. Ugh. It needed to be slightly shorter anyway, right??

All in all, it's a really cute pattern and the instructions and printing are wonderful, so I highly recommend it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Planning a Spring/Summer Wardrobe

This year, instead of buying new clothing for spring and summer, I'm going to try to make my new wardrobe.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not independently wealthy and I don't buy a whole new wardrobe every season or anything. But I do usually spend a couple hundred dollars about twice a year. I don't know if I'm hard on my clothes or what, but I tend to wear them out/stain them -- especially t-shirts and blouses.(Flat shoes, too, but I don't intend to make any of those. I'm a slacker.)

To this end, I bought several new patterns from Sewaholic and Collette and I already have some "Big Four" patterns in my stash. And I bought several lovely patterns in Seattle. Unlike the majority of sewists I know, my fabric stash is nearly nonexistent, but I have patterns galore (OK, I have like 20).

Protip: Joining Pattern Review gets you a month trial membership to their Friends of Pattern Review program. I saved a ton! You get like a 10 percent discount -- so I bought all my new patterns from there. I probably should be ashamed for not buying them directly from the lovely ladies who made them, but girlfriend loves a sale. 

Anyway, this weekend (!!) I'm headed to New York City for a sewing blogger meetup at Mood organized by Lauren and I am SO EXCITED.

I told Greg at least six times yesterday how excited I was.

I'm kind of a pain in the ass when I'm looking forward to something, I can't lie. 

I got us a hotel room for the night using a 10 percent discount. Apparently I'm loving the 10 percent discounts lately, huh? Our hotel is right in the garment district near Mood. I've got a couple other places I want to visit, too. House of Spandex maybe? The name alone intrigues me.

We also want to get some good food and maybe hang out with some friends if they're available.

But mainly, I'm really excited to meet some sewing bloggers and go fabric shopping.

My goal -- and it's a fairly lofty one -- is to participate in Me-Made May. For the uninitiated, Me-Made May involves an entire month of wearing at least one self-made item of clothing every day.

I've got two months to make enough clothing to wear for the month of May. I think I can totally do it! I have more clothing than I've posted on the blog (gotta get on that, sorry...)

Now the most important thing on my mind: What should I wear for the meetup?