Humble-Brag – Fabric Edition

Truth time: this post is basically an excuse to brag online about a super-sweet fabric deal that I got. I know my fellow sewists will understand that feeling! (My husband is kind of bored of hearing about it, which is no fun!)

Last week, I was cruising around Pattern Review, as I do most days. I ended up on the Fabric message board, and saw a thread about a 50% off sale at a website called Elliott Berman; that day happened to be the final day of the sale. I could have sworn I’d heard of the place before, and then it hit me: I’d seen their site linked on Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, a truly fabulous sewing blog that I love reading. (If you’re not reading Carolyn’s blog, you must start straight away! Her finishing is impeccable and I love her approach to sewing.) I then remembered that HOLY SHIT THAT’S THE WEBSITE WITH ALL THE DESIGNER FABRICS. I had bookmarked their Chanel page a few months ago but hadn’t been able to bring myself to place an order, since I have responsibilities, etc. ANYWAY. I immediately went to their site and, sure enough, the home page was covered with an announcement for the 50% off sale; I noted that it did not list any exceptions, so I went straight to the Chanel section. I figured they had to have sold out of the two wools I liked, because how could they not? Oh, dear readers, I was in for a shock.

Not only were my favorite wools not sold out, they were plentiful enough for me to order what I needed and I most definitely got every fucking yard at half price. I think my mouth hung open for 10 minutes after I completed my purchase, because this is just not a thing that happens. I’m dying. I died. I’m dead.

Oh. I’m sorry, did you want to see some fabulous Chanel wool that will someday become jackets and capes? Very well:

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Boucle! Look at those colors!!!

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Same boucle, minus the flash on my camera. Yep, still gorgeous.

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Black metallic wool chenille brocade!!

I wasn’t able to get a super-good photo of the black brocade, but it IS metallic and completely fabulous. (The floral bit is the bow that tied my packing slip to the fabric.) I shouldn’t play favorites, but I do. Oh, I sure do. I love them both, truly, but the black wool was the one I decided I would order SOMEDAY when I could justify spending that kind of money on one cut of fabric. It’s just…splendid. And more versatile than the technicolor couture candy in the first 2 photos. So even though I was able to get both fabrics, the black metallic stuff is a little more special to me.

I haven’t chosen patterns for these fabrics yet, but I know they’ll be vintage. I’m naively hoping to be able to get 2 items out of each piece, but we’ll see about that. If only one item per fabric is possible, the black chenille will be what gets turned into a cape. And then I’ll be swanning around resisting the urge to shout, “Oh, do you like my jacket/cape? IT’S CHANEL.”

(I seriously owe the person who posted that announcement on Pattern Review a high-five; like, the high-five to end all high-fives.)

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Vintage Simplicity 1173 – Playsuit Ahoy!

Happy Monday! I hope everyone out there had a nice weekend. I certainly did: we had great weather here in Ohio, and I got an unexpected day off yesterday. I’m pleased to say that I used my time wisely. :-)

After getting frustrated/intimidated by my blouse pattern of choice, I have mostly shelved that project without making any additional progress. I feel confident that I’ll go back to it eventually, since it’s one of my favorite patterns and because all of my notions are ready, waiting, and look great together. I just didn’t want to spend my first healthy day off in over 6 months working on something that was frustrating me! I cleaned up my sewing area a little bit, and decided that I was ready to tackle vintage Simplicity 1173: the playsuit to end all playsuits (for me, at least).

The pattern, fabric, buttons, and belt buckle I had picked out for Simplicity 1173 months ago have continued to haunt my dreams, and I felt like this was my best chance to get to work on it. I got started on Saturday night while Tom was out at a concert; I took everything out of the pattern envelope (what’s left of it, anyway!) and traced the necessary pieces directly onto my muslin fabric. With an ink pen. Because I can. I knew right away that I had to make some changes: this pattern is a size or two bigger than what I need in certain areas, mostly the waist. I measured in about 1 5/8″ from each side seam on the bodice, and the same amount from the side and center seams of the top portion of the shorts; my waist:hip ratio is about 0.7, so I knew I couldn’t afford to remove much or any from the rear region, so I left that area alone! :-) I also avoided any changes to the dreaded crotch curve area–I figured if that became an issue, I would deal with it after I got all the easy stuff fixed. After my inappropriate tracing was complete, I cut everything out and went to bed, prepared to sew it all together on Sunday.

Sunday ended up being more active than I had hoped: we had an errand to run (UGH lawn maintenance) and a lost neighbor cat to look for, but I did get lots of sewing time. Before I started putting stuff together, Sane Mads convinced Rash Mads to trace the muslin pieces onto my tracing material, just in case my gonzo drafting resulted in a good fit. Out came the ink pen (WHATEVER, I DO WHAT I WANT) and all pieces were traced. Then I sewed. All the sewing I did took about 2-3 hours, or thereabouts (between snack breaks, checking in on my movie, and chatting to Tom, I lost track!). Here’s what I ended up with:

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ONLY A NEARLY PERFECT ROMPER…NO BIG DEAL

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We’re gonna need a bigger zipper. (Also, less-visible underpants.)

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My hands are trying to flatten out the back closure AND cover my goodies. =/

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Flat front view

It’s damn-near perfect!!! I was so excited when I got it on and it fit this well. I had tried on the shorts before the zipper went in, so I knew those would be a good fit, but the bodice was a lot of guesswork and couldn’t really be tried on separately. Please excuse my hands in every photo: since my zipper isn’t the right size, I had to pull up on the bodice to keep the back closure from sagging where the gap was between the zipper and the hook and eye; doing that also helped me get a better idea of how good (or bad) the fit was.

I need to add a little bit back in at the very top of the bodice, since it is too tight there but big enough for my bra cups in the actual cup area. So, all things considered, I have very little to change. I made a stupid mistake when joining the bodice to the shorts: I folded over my seam allowance in the shorts to create the zipper opening, but forgot to do the same on the bodice. Since the instructions said to ease the shorts into the bodice, I figured it was normal that things weren’t lining up exactly. This big “DUH” moment hit me after I’d sewn them together, so I just inserted the zipper anyway and made a mental note for the real thing.

The zipper is sloppily handpicked for fitting purposes only; I ripped it out of a UFO, but if it were a little longer, I’d use it for this playsuit–the color is great for the purple stripe in my fabric! I also had to sew in the hook and eye at the top of the opening, since my zipper came up several inches short and I needed to know how this was going to fit. How the hell do people attach those cleanly?!? I struggled with a capital “S,” folks. I got stabbed, and the sewing looks like shit. But they’re on there, and they did their jobs. (Let’s have a moment of silence for Victorian women, who had dozens of these damn things all over their clothes.) I omitted the pockets, but might try adding one to the muslin before I put my shorts together in the real fabric, just to see how much I struggle with it. I also have to stick the straps on this thing and see if they’re the right size. I made one but was too excited to attach it (and a button–after that hook and eye nonsense, I was tired of getting stabbed), but I can sew it down quickly and see if/how it changes anything. I’ve decided on a narrow machine hem for the shorts. Honestly, I can’t afford to make them much shorter than they already are!

I haven’t decided yet (I need to test the fabric), but I may underline the actual playsuit. I don’t want to have to bust out flesh-colored undergarments just to swan around in an outfit that’s supposed to be easy and casual, you know? I also need to figure out how I want to “face” the bodice. I think the pattern calls for using a full-sized piece as a facing that ends up functioning like an underlining, so maybe I will add an extra 1/2″ or so of height to the top edge of the bodice and just attach my underlining inside that seamline, turn it, press the top edge, and then it can function as an underlining AND a facing to finish the top edge. Any thoughts on that? I don’t think I will like the look of an invisible bias facing, since that will leave visible stitching along the top edge, but I will test it on the muslin before totally writing it off. And then there’s the small matter of making a belt, which I’ll sort out once the more important stuff gets done.

This project has really given my sewing mojo a boost–I’m so excited and motivated to get it finished! I think it helped that I had the entire thing together in only a few hours; with a schedule like mine, that’s a big help!

What do you guys have in your queues at the moment? Any must-have summer items that you’d like to get started on?

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Inside The “Mads” Pattern Stash

Hello again! Two posts in as many days–wha??? :-) I swear my body and mind have not been taken over by pod people! (Although that’s exactly what a pod person would say…)

I thought it would be fun to show you all a few of the things that I’ve added to my collection lately, pattern-wise. I did buy some fabric as well, but haven’t photographed it. (I unwrapped it, “ooh’d” and “aaah’d” over it, and promptly re-wrapped it and put it in my stash bin before Tom could come in and see what I was doing!) For fun, I thought I’d include photos of (almost) the entire pattern stash as well. I have to say, it’s tremendous!

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Most of my newest patterns–yay!

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One filing box, nearly full!

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The other filing box–filled past capacity!!

Aren’t the newest ones just amazing?!? I want to make all of them right now, at once. And I’ve still got plans for that playsuit and a blouse and a bra, so who knows what I’ll end up working on first! I’m going on a fast for a while, since I’ve got wayyyy more patterns than I can possibly use in a reasonable amount of time.

I am so glad that we have a Container Store in Central Ohio–the filing boxes in my photos are the perfect size for sewing pattern storage! Plus they come in all kinds of colors, which is a nice way to add some cheer to my sewing room year-round. (Nevermind that my dining room/sewing room is eggplant purple with metallic copper accents–I had to have the green boxes!) I had started with one filing method–mailing envelopes with a photocopy of the envelope taped to them–but have switched it up to something more reasonable and less time-consuming: comic book bags! The bags I have are “current issue” size, which is way too big for my patterns, but better that than too small, right? And these photos don’t even show the ones that are sitting in a grocery bag, which appear to mostly be assorted pieces of many different vintage patterns; I need to take the time to dig through those and unfold them and pair things up, but haven’t found the motivation yet! :-)

Have you gotten any new-to-you patterns (or some other item that you love to acquire) lately? Which one(s) are you most excited about?

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The Liebster Award!

I’m terrible, you guys. The worst. (No, wait: Britta is the worst. But I’m 2nd.)

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I have been very generously nominated for a Liebster Award by not one, but TWO amazing fellow bloggers. Poor Kathy (aka The Nerdy Seamstress, whose blog you should definitely be reading) nominated me back in February, and Chuleenan (C Sews herself, an incredibly talented sewist whose blog you should ALSO definitely be reading) nominated me a few days ago. I am just now getting around to writing this up–sorry, ladies! (Especially Kathy, because this took me 2 months after your post, that I definitely read and even commented on! Yikes.) Thank you both SO MUCH! Not just for the nominations, but for reading my sporadic ramblings. =) You both inspire me to sew more and to sew better, and it’s always a pleasure reading about what you’re up to next!

The tricky part of this for me is nominating other bloggers with fewer than 500 followers. I know of a couple, but so many of the blogs I follow have more than that. I’ll do my best, though! =) Other Liebster responsibilities include thanking the blogger who nominated you (check!), answering 11 questions posed to you by your nominator(s), coming up with 11 new questions to ask of the 11 people you nominate, and tagging your nominees and commenting on their blogs to let them know they have been nominated. First up: answering a double-dose of 11 (aka 22) questions!

From Kathy:

1. What interesting fact about yourself that you want people to know?
I’m 28 and still have a baby tooth. =) Although I did get braces a few months ago, so it won’t be here much longer! (Yeah, interesting fact #2: I have braces now. FML forever.)
2. Why did you take up sewing?
Because I love vintage clothes. I use vintage patterns almost exclusively, and it’s a cool way (to me) to preserve history while being able to add vintage (repro) pieces to my wardrobe without having to hunt for them in the wild and hope I find what I want at a price I can manage.
3. Other than sewing, if time weren’t a concern, how would you spend your day?
Napping or vegging out in front of the TV, preferably with unlimited Coca-Cola and delicious pizza. So…I guess I’d be like a college student. =)
4. What have you learned most from maintaining a blog?
How hard it is!! I never expected to feel a sense of obligation to keep up with it, but I totally do. And that’s not a bad thing! But it’s hard to want to take time to write frequently (especially when my sewing isn’t going well) or think of things to write about (especially when my sewing isn’t going well). I want to try harder to get on a schedule and share things with people, whether it’s pieces from my vintage wardrobe, updates on sewing projects, plans, or inspirations, or random life stuff that might be worth reading about.
5. What other artistic/crafty things do you like to do?
I play a few instruments and am in a band, which I guess qualifies as artistic. I also enjoy pressing flowers when the mood strikes; I’ve got my grandmother’s flower press (which is FULL OF HER PRESSINGS) and it’s a cool way to feel connected to her (especially since I did not think to save any flowers from her funeral several years ago, which I regret now).
6. What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
This question can best be answered with a picture:
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7. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
Pay off the house/student loans/car, etc., do a little frivolous spending, and then invest the rest so I don’t end up eating cat food when I’m 40. (Boring, but practical: The “Mads” Story!)
8. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Going to Wisconsin every summer for a 2-week fishing trip. Fishing is fun (especially when you don’t have to bait or de-fish your own hook) and I always tried to eat my weight in string cheese and pizza. Seriously, you guys: there is no better string cheese than Wisconsin string cheese!
9. What’s your make that you’re proud of?
My vintage Simplicity 1281. It’s the best thing I’ve made in terms of lack of flaws, and I finished it in under a week–a record for me! Plus it’s the thing I’ve made that I wear the most.
10. What have you learned most from sewing?
Patience. Every time I rush, I fuck up or get less-than-stellar results. I also learn patience when I’m trying to decipher the instructions on some of these vintage patterns; they are not very n00b-friendly!
11. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Singing in my car. Loudly. If I have a 2-hr car trip by myself, I will be hoarse by the time I reach my destination!
From Chuleenan:

1. What is the first thing you sewed that you liked enough to wear in public?
Oddly enough, it’s the actual first thing I made: a Colette Hawthorn sleeveless dress.

2. Where did you grow up?
A very small place called Defiance, OH. I still go back there to have my hair done by the same woman who has cut my hair since I was born. Other than that, I mostly stay away!

3. What are your favorite colors?
Black, gray, orange, purple, and certain blues.

4. What’s your favorite season of the year?
Early Fall. It’s like a fence-sitter between the hottest of summer and the damp, moldy fall weather.

5. What’s the last sewing book you bought?
“Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques” by Kristina Harris. I’m hoping to learn some good hand-sewing skills from this one.

6. Have you made anything from a vintage (or vintage-inspired) sewing pattern?
Yep! I’ve only made or mostly-made 4 vintage garments, but they’re my favorite patterns. I’ve got over 50 of them filed and waiting to be made!

7. If so, did you like how it turned out and did you wear it out?
I’m really proud of how the two I actually finished came out, and I wear them regularly. There is one dress that I liked okay, but the fabric I picked just wasn’t right for that kind of dress, so I never finished it. (I’ll be salvaging the skirt section to hopefully make a top.) The first thing I ever tried to make was a vintage blouse, but I stopped most of the way through because the scrap fabric I used wasn’t remotely wearable and I wanted to turn my attention to something that I would actually wear.

8. What helpful sewing tip did you pick up over the past year?
French seams! I always get excited when my plans for a garment allow me to use them; they’re so clean and nice-looking!

9. What’s your favorite sewing machine presser foot?
The regular boring one, haha! It’s basically all I use, since I hand-pick my zippers and am trying to do bound buttonholes as much as I can. I’d like to try out a walking/even feed foot though, because that would probably become my favorite.

10. What’s your favorite cuisine (Thai, French, Italian, etc.)?
Boring old American, specifically pizza. (It feels wrong to call pizza Italian, LOL!) It’s mostly all I eat. Also: fried chicken and steak fries. Mmmmmmmm. Is it dinner time yet?!?

11. What’s your favorite dessert? If you have a recipe, please share it!
I don’t really eat dessert, but I love making it! Here’s how I do (miniature) cheesecakes, which have become my go-to dessert to make for any function or occasion; I always get compliments on these, so they must be good! The recipe can easily be customized to make different flavors, or to lower the carb count (which I had to do when Tom went on a diet that limited his carb count to under 100 per day). The almond and raisin measurements aren’t exact–I always eyeball the crust stuff, so apologies if you end up with more crust than filling, like I always do!

2 x 8oz bricks of cream cheese, softened
1 cup (8oz container) sour cream
2 (large) eggs
3/4 cup white granulated sugar or Splenda/sugar substitute
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins, chopped
2 to 3 cups almonds, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 stick butter, unsalted
Preheat oven to 375.
Using a food processor, crush up almonds and raisins; combine and set aside.
Melt butter; stir into almond/raisin mixture until you can mold it with your fingers and it mostly stays put! Line cheesecake pan or cupcake liners with this mixture, compressing the crust as you go. Set aside. (Side note: this crust is really low in carbs AND delicious!)
Combine cream cheese and sugar/Splenda until whipped. Add sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Pour into pan or cupcake liners. Bake for about 30-45 minutes (for full cake) or 15-20 minutes (for cupcakes) OR until a toothpick comes out with chunky cake batter on it (runny means it’s not done) and cracks have begun to form in the cake; if making a full cake, the edges will probably start to turn golden as well. Allow to cool and then transfer to the refrigerator until completely chilled. Serve with any garnish you choose, and eat up! =)
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Without further self-centered ramblings, here are my nominees for the Liebster Award! I didn’t check to see if any of you had previously been nominated, so I apologize if that’s the case. I’m mostly going by Bloglovin’ and WordPress numbers for follower count, so sorry (again!) if that’s not your entire total and you’re actually over 500.
Here are the questions I have for all of you:
1. How long have you been blogging, and why did you start?
2. What is one hobby you’ve always wanted to take up, but haven’t?
3. Which real person (past or present) is your hero or inspiration, and why?
4. What’s the one thing you’ve made that you’re the most embarrassed of or never use/wear?
5. How do you reconcile your online persona with the “real” you, and how do you choose what NOT to share on your blog?
6. What is one thing that others might be surprised to learn about you?
7. If you could only listen to one album for an entire year, which one would it be?
8. As far as you are concerned, what is the rudest thing ever?
9. What’s one thing you wish you were better at?
10. What’s on your ideal pizza?
11. How are you? (Seriously–I want to know!)
BONUS QUESTION: True or False: “Clue” is one of the best movies of all time.
I’m sincerely looking forward to reading any answers you all post. Thanks again to Kathy and Chuleenan for my nominations–this is so fun!

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2014 Fitted Blouse Contest – Progress (Barely)

Hello out there!

I’m pleased to have started working on my fitted blouse for Pattern Review’s contest, but I’m afraid I will not make the deadline for this one after all. :-( I just have not had the time to get much done, and haven’t even gotten my muslin finished. I’m really disappointed, guys; I wanted so badly to participate in this contest, just for the thrill of finishing something. Ugh.

Here’s where things stand:

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Front

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Side view

First off, my apologies for once again wearing a t-shirt that’s the same color as unbleached muslin for these photos. You’d think I’d remember that, right?? As you can see, I’ve only got the very basic first steps done on this so far, and I’m missing a back piece. I also sewed the first back piece to the front inside-out, hence the crazy shoulder seam that’s visible above. My first impressions fit-wise are that my adjustments worked out okay, but it will be easier to know for sure once I get that second back piece darted and attached. I’m toying with the idea of making the tucks in the front go up a bit higher to lose some of the volume, but I won’t do anything there until I get the back finished and see how buttoning it impacts the fit.

I’ve abandoned the detachable collar idea for now, since this pattern is WAY harder than I imagined. The back pieces include facings already (with a line showing you where to fold and sew), and the neckline is finished with a bias facing in conjunction with the back facings. So at this point, until I figure out how to properly sew those facings, I’m not thinking about taking that collar on and off!! The first thing I ever tried to sew was a different 1940′s blouse with the same type of setup: facings were drafted as part of the bodice pieces, specifically near the placket where the shirt buttoned. I was able to figure that out after LOTS of reading and studying the instructions and diagrams and by thinking it through very thoroughly before trying it; naturally, I threw that project out because it was made out of scrap fabric that I hated and would never have worn, and I’m kicking myself for it now! I think what I need to do is spend a lot of quality time with this project, which hasn’t been possible as yet.

Guys, I’m seriously bummed about this. It seemed impossible NOT to finish, since I had an entire month. But between life being insane and this pattern being more difficult that I had anticipated, I just cannot get there. But I’ll be plugging away on it, and my goal is to finish it before the end of next month. That probably sounds ridiculous–it IS 5 or 6 weeks, after all–but with everything that’s going on, it’s pretty reasonable. In the meantime, I’ll be eagerly keeping up with my blog roll to see what all of you are sewing or wearing, and how you’re all doing.

PS: Just for fun, here’s an 8-bit avatar of yours truly! It was created by the singer of our band for our upcoming EP release show (this Friday–OMG!!) in keeping with the 8-bit theme of our original artwork. It’s fun!

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Giveaway at The Vintage Home Sewist – Yay!

Checking in real quick to let y’all know about an amazingly generous giveaway going on over at The Vintage Home Sewist! Here’s the scoop:

Three winners will be selected, and each will win a $50 credit to The Vintage Home Sewist’s Etsy shop, where she has a lot of amazing vintage sewing patterns on offer. (And there’s currently a sale going on, which means those prizes will go even further–who doesn’t love that?!) I’m tossing my name in for this one (because OBVIOUSLY), and if you’re interested, you should do the same. Good luck, and many thanks to The Vintage Home Sewist for this generous giveaway!

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Fitted Blouse Contest – Getting Started

Hello again!

I’ve been working on my Pattern Review Fitted Blouse Contest project whenever I can, and I’ve got a few photos to share. (Here is a link to the discussion thread for this contest if you’re interested–I’m so excited about it!) I’m glad we have the entire month to do this, because I already feel so far behind; my muslin isn’t even finished yet! 

Here is my pattern and fabric for this contest–isn’t it pretty?? :-)

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Except for the thread, this is a stash-busting project–yay!

And just what the hell am I planning to do with these awesome materials, you ask? Behold:

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Vintage Simplicity 2343. I’m going for the version on the far right.

I’m really excited about this project. I love this pattern so much, and it fills a need in my wardrobe. I’ve envisioned this piece since buying the fabric, so I’m thrilled that it’s finally happening after all these months! And because I can’t just do something and have it be straightforward, I’ve decided to do my best to make the collar detachable. I bought an AMAZING vintage beaded collar at the shop that matches this shirt perfectly (and of course I forgot to photograph it–sorry, guys!) and I want to be able to swap it for the original rather than just lay it over top and hope it doesn’t slip around. We’ll see how I do! My plan at this point is to utilize snaps.

As I mentioned above, I’ve got my muslin started. I traced this one, because I know it won’t fit right out of the envelope based on my experience with my last fitted vintage blouse. My Fall for Cotton project was my size (bust-wise, anyway), and I still felt like I could have made a few adjustments to the fit in a few places; this pattern is a size bigger, so I know I will swim in it if I don’t start out with some changes. Step 1: remove 1/2″ width from each seam line. Step 2: sew that shit together and see if it helped. Step 3: figure out how to adjust the sleeve pieces to fit into the no-longer-matching armholes. I screwed up the cutting of the muslin already, by not cutting the front on a fold. I’ll fix it, I promise! :-) 

I’ve been a little mystified by the darts on this blouse. Have any of you ever seen these before??

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Weird-ass darts

Here’s how they look pinned in place (I think?):

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It looks right, and yet it doesn’t. O_o

If any of you have helpful advice on sewing darts that look like this, please share in the comments–I’d love correction or reassurance, whichever is appropriate. Hopefully once I sew them, it will become clear to me whether or not they’re right!

What are all of you working on? Is anyone else out there entering this contest at Pattern Review? 

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