Summer Tops and Miscellany! (But Mostly A Blair Shirt)

Hello, friends!

First off, I know I kept saying I was going to do a planning post for summer sewing. Clearly I haven’t had the time for that, LOL! So while that may not materialize, I have been sewing a bit. I made a Named Minttu top but haven’t bothered to have Tom photograph it until now. Apart from being annoyed as hell about the length of the facing (it cuts off right at mid-boob, where the top is still quite fitted: WTF?!?!? Not cool.), I think it’s really cute!

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Derp Face

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Side (Can you see the facing stopping suddenly? >=[ )

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Back

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Trying to put some “swing” in my swing top…

I added my usual 1″ of length at the bust, but otherwise there are no changes to this pattern as you see it. (And yes, I added the same 1″ to the facings. #bitter) It’s snug through the shoulders and upper back, but the stretch in my fabric makes up for that.

The fabric I used is a ponte knit, as recommended by the pattern. This particular fabric almost got destashed (it is decidedly NOT my best color/look, but then neither are white skinny jeans), but I actually really like it as a top. Which is good, because I have enough fabric left for another top! 😉 I’m planning on a Named Lexi or Sointu but haven’t decided for sure yet–feel free to weigh in with a comment!

And now for the star of this post: the Blair shirt by Style Arc!

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Blair!

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Side-ish

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Flaps!

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Back view (incl. VPL, ugh)

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One more front shot for good measure

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Shirt in the sunshine

Obviously I really love this shirt, hence the barrage of photos. 😉

I bought this very nice cotton shirting at Fabric Mart (my fabric shopping frenemy) and knew I would make a shirt with it eventually. I know…I’m a fucking visionary.

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Cotton Shirting? For a shirt? Groundbreaking.

After seeing so many inspiring versions of the Blair shirt and dress, I realized this fabric was perfect for it and finally made my pattern choice. 😀 I really couldn’t be much happier with it–it turned out so much like I had hoped!

Construction Notes

This is only my second Style Arc rodeo, but I know enough to read their instructions, chuckle, and figure it out for myself. 😉 I did things my way pretty much from start to finish. Here’s a brief summary:

  1. I assembled the bottom half of the shirt and the underlayer at the side seams before hemming them separately up to a few inches before the center front (to make attaching the button bands easier). That curved hem was a tedious operation, so I wanted it out of the way! Then I basted those pieces together.
  2. Next came the shoulders and upper half side seams, followed by attaching the bottom layers to the top.
  3. I did the button bands and remainder of the hem next, then the collar assembly and buttonholes.
  4. The sleeve cuffs were the last machine step, then I sewed on my buttons. Ta da!!!

I spent a lot of time prepping the stripes so that everything mostly matched. The shoulders don’t line up exactly, but I was more concerned about the fronts so was willing to compromise there.

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I think we can all agree that was time well spent…

Pattern Adjustments

I took a big chance here and didn’t change any proportions on my Blair. O_O I know. But it’s a cropped shirt, and the length looked like it would be fine with high rise jeans so I just went for it. I only made one–ONE–change to the pattern itself, and that was the undercollar.

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Undercollar awesomeness

Surprisingly, Style Arc has you use the same pattern piece for both the upper and under, but I wanted a bias undercollar. #shirtmakingcred That’s it, though. Everything else is exactly per the Size 4 original pattern, even button placement.

Apart from some sewing, here’s what else I’ve been up to lately:

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Readers, meet Nessie! She’s a Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple. ^___^

We planted a new tree out back! We lost our large Norway Maple (it was necessary, trust me–I don’t cut down trees lightly) and replaced it with a stronger, non-invasive species. Bonus: someday, Nessie will provide maple sap for syrup!

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SOCKSSSSS!!!!!!

And I’ve been knitting socks like a fiend! I have 2 more pairs on my needles as I type this. 😉

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And some hot air ballooning for good measure. Here at the “Mads” house, it’s not really summer if we haven’t played with some hot air balloons. 😀

How is your summer (or winter for my Southern Hemisphere friends!) going? Have you gone on any adventures (in the air, on the ground, under the sea)? Are you starting to think about sewing for the next season yet?

Reeta II: Copycat Boogaloo

Friends, I have made another Reeta midi shirtdress, and it may look a liiiiiiiittle familiar:

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Suspiciously similar!

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Hem split action!

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Bodice

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That’s right: I practically #singlewhitefemaled Named’s sample dress. O_o I actually did search–in vain–for THE floral rayon they used for the sample. I needed a Reeta in that poppy red color! ❤ ❤ ❤ Sometime after concluding that fruitless search, I ended up on Harts Fabric’s website, which I had never patronized before, and they had just gotten this beautiful rayon satin in stock. Yay! Not only is it the most perfect shade of poppy red (which they describe as “tomato”), the flowers themselves are pretty colors, too. I paid more per-yard for this rayon than I ever have for that fiber–$12.99–but I think it was worth it.

I bought 3 yards exactly. I knew that would be cutting it close, but I didn’t hand over that kind of money lightly–paying for an extra 1/2 yard was too rich for my blood. Plus, I had gotten my last Reeta (complete with self fabric drawstring) out of 3 yards of rayon that was the same width as this stuff, so I figured it would be fine. Unlike my last Reeta, I used self fabric for my yoke facing because I found working with such a difference in drape in the yoke/sleeve/collar area (cotton muslin vs. rayon challis) to be annoying last time. I also opted to interface the turn backs of the front facings and the upper collar this time, using plain old cotton muslin which I hand-basted in place.

Randomly, during our “photoshoot,” I noticed there was a hole in this dress–WTF?!?!? I have no idea what caused it (it wasn’t shears or the serger, based on where it is) but it definitely needed to be patched before it frayed further. It was about the diameter of a Q-tip and just appeared out of nowhere. I can’t tell if it was a flaw in the yardage that I missed, or if some catastrophe befell the dress while I wasn’t around. I was very cranky about it, let me tell you; I am really careful with my self-made stuff, during AND after construction, and was gutted to see that my brand new, worn-once dress was already damaged. But I did get it fixed:

Repair

Before and After; thanks to the Fray Check being wet, you can just make out the entire patch on the right. Not too shabby, eh?

So I guess the moral of this story is threefold: 1.) Be extra careful with things, lest you puncture them somehow, 2.) Check your yardage extensively BEFORE you cut stuff out, just in case there is a flaw, and 3.) Keep your fabric scraps until you are 1,000,000% sure the project is done and dusted. (Obviously this fix is brought to you by #3–thank goodness I am a lazy tidier!)

Pattern Notes

Since I made this pattern successfully once before, I really didn’t need to change much this time around. Once again, I shortened the dress by about 2-3″. I did not, however, alter the length of the splits because I forgot. 😦

Having learned from my first Reeta, I did remember to move the pockets up on this one! They are now 3/4″ higher and look much better. (They are really droopy though, moreso than on the last version. Hmmm…maybe it’s the fabric?) Other than that, I just did everything the same way as before–that’s what makes repeats so awesome!

Here are a few more photos of our setting: the Scioto Mile! It’s a really pretty mostly-green space in downtown Columbus, along the river. There are pedestrian sections on the two bridges over the river, walking/biking paths, and even some fountains for playing in, all in view of the city’s skyline! And also a deer sculpture, because why not?

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Skyline

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The Deer

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Someone was on the other side of the sculpture, so we didn’t get more shots with the deer. =(

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Not flattering (aka Thank Goodness For Drawstrings)

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The best I could do–there were many more attempts at looking “pretty” but they weren’t very successful. #notamodel

Anyway, that’s it for me today! I am still planning on doing a planning post (HAH!) for my summer wardrobe, so hopefully I will be back soon to share that with you. Thanks for reading!

What are you sewing right now? Have you ever had to repair a garment due to an accident or other mishap? Have you ever balked at the price of a not-necessarily-luxury fabric? (And be honest: did you buy it anyway? 😉)

PS: I have updated my “About” page in the aftermath of something that happened a couple of weeks ago. I know reblogging is allowed on WordPress (and that you literally can’t do anything about it, except hide that button or make your blog totally private, should the reblog-er refuse to take your post down), but I am not comfortable with anyone using my blog posts and photos that way. That goes double if someone holds views that I find morally objectionable–I don’t want my work associated with such beliefs. So if you want to reblog a post from here, please do me the courtesy of asking first, so that I can tell you “No” to your face. And never, ever use images from this site that are my property: you don’t want to find out how serious I am about enforcing THAT guideline. Again, if you wish to use a photo and properly attribute it to me, ask first. 

I’m not averse to being social with my sewing hobby–that’s why I have a blog. But I do expect that people will be respectful of my boundaries and the effort I put into blogging and the effort that Tom puts into my photos. If you really want to show your readers what a hack I am, or what the World’s Best Dog looks like, just link to a post–I’m FINE with that. I’ve made some amazing connections because of blogging–this notice isn’t because of anyone I am Internet Friends with–and I have no plans to make my space private. So please, any-and-everyone, respect these boundaries.

Rock ‘n Roll Uniform (In Which The Blogger Goes Full “Fangurl”)

Hey guys and gals!

I know I said summer wardrobe planning was my next post, but I mayyyyyy have gotten a little carried away with something else in the meantime. 😉

I told you all about my new gig as a guitar player for a 90’s alt-rock cover band (thank you for the kind words on that, BTW!), and we recently had our first show together. I decided about 3 weeks before the show (of course) that I needed to make a new outfit for the occasion. O_o I haven’t been in a band in a couple of years, so between giving stuff away and my style evolving, nothing gig-worthy I owned really felt like “Me” anymore. I don’t know about any of you, but when I am preparing to get up in front of a lot of people, I get very anxious; feeling comfortable with my clothing and appearance can go a long way in terms of building my confidence (or at least giving me 1 less thing to stress about). So obviously I wasn’t about to go onstage feeling like I was wearing a costume or trying too hard. A new outfit seemed like The Answer. And I think it’s safe to say it was:

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Outfit in action!

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SKIRT!

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A non-crummy photo of me at a mic. #festivusmiracle

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The outfit in daylight

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Back

Separates were my first thought, both because I couldn’t think of rock-ready dress patterns and because separates would be easy to split up and wear with other things I own already. I started with the most critical piece: the skirt. In my epic Fall planning post of epicness, I had mentioned wanting to use a boucle I had for a Named Nascha mini skirt; I may not have gotten around to that in the Fall/Winter, but better late than never!

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Front view! (Now with awkward hands!!)

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Gettin’ the whole skirt in there…

The fabric is BANANAS, isn’t it?!? I love it. I bought it thinking I’d make a jacket but I am SO GLAD I changed my mind. I love it as a skirt!

I got this material from Gorgeous Fabrics, and am so excited that I can now wear it after staring at it for over a year. It’s such a unique fabric, and fun fact: there’s cellophane in the weave!! WUT. It made pressing trickier (which is why the hips look a little lumpy–they need re-pressed), but it was totally worth it. 😀 Other fun fact: some of the yarns glow under certain lights.

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IT GLOWS.

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You guys, I made an electric skirt.

The glow-in-the-dark nature of the skirt got more comments for me afterwards than any other aspect of the gig, which means 1.) it’s pretty cool and 2.) clearly my guitar-playing is less impressive than my sewing. I can live with that!

Construction Notes

Nascha is designed to be lined, which is good because this boucle NEEDS a lining to wear smoothly. I used a black bemberg rayon and it makes the skirt much easier to wear and put on/take off. I have never lined anything but a bag before this skirt, folks. But having worked through difficult-for-me Named instructions with my Reeta, I was able to understand the steps and nail lining this thing on the first try.


You can see that I accidentally sewed one half of the lining inside out…oops. I didn’t feel like unpicking it, because it’s just the lining. 😉 I made my lining a little “extra bigger” (the pattern pieces are definitely larger than the shell) just in case, which worked out fine; any extra fabric got pleated into the waist and hem and make the skirt feel a little less snug than it looks. 😀

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Close-up of the zipper

I have never sewn an exposed zipper before, and not to be a cocky jerk or anything, but…#nailedit. I used a 7″ zipper because that was what I had, so I had to make the CB opening longer (the pattern calls for a 6″ zip). That was a good thing in the end though, because this thing is TIGHT. Funny story, I bought this zipper (and 2 others) AND my lining fabric to make a Named Mai Zip Jacket a couple of years ago! I still haven’t made that jacket, but I did finally use this zipper and a little bit of the lining material. 😉

This fabric frays when cut, so I serged all the edges of each piece right after I cut them out. I also gave myself an extra 1″ on the side seams, just in case. Before I put the zip in, I sewed the sides up on the 1″ line (so, giving myself the 3/8″ included seam allowance as wearing ease until I could try it on). Good thing too, as I needed some room in the full hip to be able to sit down!

Pattern Alterations

For reference, I started with the US0/EUR32 size, as I do with all Named patterns. I added 2″ of length at the lengthen/shorten line (or at least that’s what I think the line was–it wasn’t clearly labelled on my PDF pieces) because I have heard tales of how truly “mini” this skirt is. Named drafts for 5’8″, and while I am not much taller than that and have shorter legs for my height, I wasn’t taking any chances, especially with that big split at CF. I wanted to make sure I could wear it to work or a gig without anyone seeing my panties. YMMV. #freethelabia

Having said that, I couldn’t really tell where the skirt was supposed to sit: at the natural waist, or at the high hip, or somewhere else. (The pattern says, “regular-waisted.” Does that mean natural waist??) Mine sits at my true waist; if it didn’t, I wouldn’t want the 2″ I added. Because I put mine up so high, I had to take in the side seams from the waist down for about 3-4 inches. I waited until I got the zipper in to do that, so I could really test the fit. That was also when I opted to let out a little bit of seam allowance at the fullest part of my hips so I could sit down with confidence. (I had to bend my knees together and SLOWLY lower myself onto a seat in the first round of testing; Tom thought it was hilarious, probably in part because I happened to be trying to “sit” using the toilet in our downstairs bathroom. 0/10, would not recommend.)

Other than that, I just followed the directions and had good luck with everything fitting nicely; no other adjustments were necessary. The back in particular is very nicely fitted, and my ass looks fabulous in it, if I may say so. The front vents, however, are acting a little odd: they have weird wrinkles or bubbles near the turn, and I don’t know why–everything is done correctly and without alterations from the pattern. Maybe it’s my fabric? Maybe the skirt is too pegged for my legs near the hem? Oh well.

Speaking of this fabric, I bought 2 yards and I have PLENTY left for another…thing. This is more impressive given the defined stripes AND the width: 45″. I am very conflicted about whether to make anything else with this fabric. O_o

So that’s the skirt! Moving on to the top:

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Top!

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Top again!

This is an Inari crop tee, with just a couple of insignificant small mods, made in a black tencel jersey. That’s right: my new onstage outfit was ALL Named patterns. #sorrynotsorry I think that finally puts me at full #fangurl status, but I’m happy to gush my Named love all over the internet: their patterns just work for me. (Plus they know WTF they’re doing technically, and are able to produce full collections twice a year–totally gush-worthy in my book.)

I had never worked with tencel fabric before this, but it was similar to working with the modal/silk jersey I used for some Penny Raglans last year. I bought my fabric from Blackbird Fabrics and have another colorway waiting in the wings. It’s really, really nice stuff! I was surprised that the top didn’t read as sheer once I put it on; the fabric itself is only semi-opaque (noted by Blackbird–her descriptions are always spot-on) but didn’t show my bra or anything.

Pattern and Construction Notes

I picked the Inari pattern because I wanted something loose, cropped, and somewhat plain to balance the outfit, since the skirt is so outrageous. I was thisclose to using the Penny Raglan pattern, but felt it would be too much boxy volume. I do sort of wish I’d thought to try to frankenpattern the raglan portion of Penny onto my Inari, though! A lot of folks have mentioned the dropped armholes of the Inari being limiting for range of motion, but since 1.) I picked a drapey and stretchy-ish knit and 2.) I am the least mobile guitar player of all time, I decided it wouldn’t be an issue.

In terms of changes, I didn’t use the cuff bands because my fabric is so floppy and light. I had added a little length to the sleeves and took a 5/8″ hem, but if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t have added any length. I added about 1″ to the hem, and again took a 5/8″ hem. I also sewed all the seams of this top at 1/4″ for some reason. For real, I can’t remember why I did that.

This top took maybe 2 hours from cut to “not-hemmed-but-sewn.” The best part? I was able to conserve yardage AGAIN and had enough of my lovely tencel knit left for a regular, full-length t-shirt. Yay!!

So that’s my new gig outfit! I would show you all more show pics but the band still needs to go over them all and decide which ones we want to use. 🙂

Hopefully I’ll be back soon with either a finished thing, or some Summer Sewing Plans!

What was the last outfit you made specifically for an upcoming event? Do you have any suggestions for what I should do with ~1.5 yards of that outlandish boucle fabric? Please share! ❤

Finally, A Seasonally-Appropriate Thing!

Look at me, back here already! 😉 Thanks to a recent flash of inspiration (don’t you love those?!?), I have something new to share with you all! What inspired me? FABRIC! (Duh.)

There have been so many incredible tropical prints coming out for the new Spring/Summer season (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is), and many of my favorites were on rayon. I decided that a tropical print rayon had to be my next project! After trawling through multiple fabric sites and not 100% connecting with any designs for me (or balking at the price points of the ones I did like), it occurred to me that I had something perfect in my stash already: a palm leaf-print plum and aqua rayon challis I bought on Fabric.com (NAYY) about a year ago.

When I was re-organizing my stash and found this stuff again, I had planned on making pajamas out of it, but where’s the fun in that?!? The colors are good on me, and in the aftermath of this latest inspiration explosion, I decided I didn’t want to “waste” the print on pajamas. Having decided that I NEEDED to sew this fabric right now, I had to figure out what to make. A dress was the obvious choice, since I had 3 yards of fabric. But which dress?!? While searching one fabric site for “rayon,” some sewing patterns came back (since they listed “rayon” as a recommended fabric) and the Reeta Midi Shirtdress from Named was one of them. (I hadn’t bought any patterns from their Spring/Summer 2017 release and only even liked three of them–that’s normal for me and Named, as their S/S stuff doesn’t jump out at me right away like their F/W stuff does. My love is a peculiar love.) I was struck by the beautiful fabric of the Reeta sample, which is viscose/rayon. I was sold! I bought and printed the pattern 2 Fridays ago and had it put together and the fabric cut later that very night! O_O For me, that’s some high-octane action.

Anyway, here are photos! 😉

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Graceful-ish

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Who’s that happy weirdo?

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That’s more like it!

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Earth Day love!

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My feelings about there being no hammock in the hammock stand.

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Strike a pose

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…maybe not *that* pose. O_o

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Poison ivy in the foreground, nice.

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Showing off the collar and neckline!

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Gotta get the pup in there!

Pretty cool, huh? I love it!! I will probably wear this once a week all summer, LOL! I am especially proud of my pleated breast pockets, which I had never made before this; doing them in rayon challis was “fun” but they really turned out great! Well, except for the fact that the loud-ass fabric renders them nearly invisible despite no attempt by me to pattern-match them…

(Also, what is it with me and making Named dress patterns in ridiculous fabrics??)

I used a contrasting dark teal thread for my buttonholes–livin’ dangerously! I asked my Instagram friends if I should go with matching plum or the contrast, and they (you) voted overwhelmingly for matching thread.

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Testing buttonholes and thread colors!

But I can’t explain it, I just felt like the dress needed this pop of darker blue/green against all the purple. So I disobeyed my pals–sorry, guys!!! I do value your opinions (or I wouldn’t ask!) but sometimes, the heart just wants what it wants! After doing a partial test buttonhole, I realized I needed some stabilizer under the fabric or the results would be a hot mess. (You can see that partial buttonhole in the photo above–yikes!) That meant I finally got a chance to use my Tear Away stabilizer that I bought forever ago. It worked wonders and my buttonholes look pretty fabulous, if I may be so bold. 😉 (Especially considering that they’re on rayon challis!) I used buttons that I got from Wawak last year (thank you, Past Me, for judiciously buying multiple dozens of buttons in a few neutral colors). I settled on white in the end, because this dress needed something clean and understated about it.

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Buttons and buttonholes in action!

And now for a “Do as I say, not as I do” moment: I didn’t use any interfacing on this dress. *ducks for cover* I brought down my cotton muslin with all the best intentions of using it, but in the end I decided to see how I liked the drapier quality of the challis on its own, especially on the shirtdress features. The collar was my biggest concern, and I had enough scrap fabric left to recut it if necessary, but I decided I liked it without any firming up. I pressed it carefully, as always, and I think the dress looks well-made and very nice as-is. The collar is very light and flimsy, but so is the rest of the dress. I don’t regret my decision, but I will say that I usually NEVER forgo interfacing, and neither should you. 😉 I just liked the idea of a totally breezy midi dress this time around! Actually, while challis is a perfectly acceptable fabric for this pattern, a rayon poplin would have been my IDEAL material. Maybe I’ll get my hands on some eventually!

Pattern Alterations

As per usual, I couldn’t get away without making some fitting adjustments. I added my usual-with-Named 1″ at the bust line front and back and adjusted the shoulder slope of the front piece (adding 1″ to the outer edge at the armhole and tapering into about 1/4″ at the neck opening). I got away without needing to move the bust dart, which is always nice! I was not so fortunate when it came to the armholes though, having fucked with the shoulder slope at that edge to the tune of 1″, and therefore adding length to the armholes. Since this is a sleeved garment, that extra length needed to be added to the sleeve cap as well. This tutorial does a good job of showing how to add length to a sleeve cap without also enlarging the bicep of the sleeve. That’s the method I used, and I walked/measured the pieces afterwards to confirm that they would be compatible.

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All the altered pattern pieces!

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Sleeve piece after cap height was added

Finally, I took a bit of length off the hem, because 1.) Named already drafts for a height of 5’8″, and I am at most 1″ taller than that, 2.) I added 1″ at the bust and another 1″ at the outer shoulder (which does add length to the dress overall), and 3.) my legs are short for my height, proportionally. This should be a midi dress, and it was hitting me well below that point. All told, I took about 2-3″ off the original hem length; I also opened the side splits a bit so they were close to the original length, since they had been affected by my hem shortening extravaganza. I trust Named’s proportions on design, and wanted to make sure I didn’t lose that effect; based on the modeled photos on their site, mine are damn close.

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Side splits, doin’ their thing.

All that said, I should have checked the pocket placement after doing so much lengthening: they’re a bit low, but I think only by about 1/2″. And if I’m being picky, the dart point could stand to extend about 1/2″ closer to the apex. But all things considered, I think the dress fits very well.

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My beautiful pockets! Just a touch too low, but NBD.

Construction Notes

The Reeta dress was fairly simple to assemble–if you’ve made a shirtdress before (or a shirt!), you can do this. However, things got a little more complex thanks to the convertible collar with facings (as opposed to a stand + collar + button band combo) and the use of a yoke facing. You can’t just do the burrito yoke method and get a perfectly clean finish everywhere, so don’t get cocky like I did: I sewed my burrito and came back to the directions to find that I should have done it their way. I unpicked back to the part where both the yoke and yoke facing are sewn to the dress back and started again from there. It was complicated at the end, simply because the instructions are fairly short, and the illustrations weren’t clicking for me right away. Just go slow, make sure your mind is fresh, and keep checking your assembly against their instructions. The resulting finish is impeccably clean and fully enclosed, and you won’t regret taking the extra time! (I did manage to sew my collar on upside-down the second time without realizing until after I was done with the whole shebang, so all my careful rolling of the seam was wasted. GRRRRRRRRR.)

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Finished yoke/facing/collar/dress thing–whew!

The instructions would have you use purchased drawstring cord for the waist, but I am of the opinion that this tends to look cheap. #sorrynotsorry I made my own 1/4″ drawstring out of my fabric by cutting a 1″-wide strip, turning the short ends in by 1/2″, pressing the whole strip in half length-wise, opening it back up and pressing both raw edges to the center crease length-wise, and then pressing THAT mess in half length-wise along the center line and sewing down the open edges. Still with me??? O_o I didn’t bother with a bias strip either, just a straight grain one–not only is that unnecessary for this application, I didn’t have the yardage anyway!! I used some rayon seam binding for the casing–it’s only 1/2″ wide but if you sew it right at the edges, it’s no problem to fit a 1/4″ tie through it.

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Waist tie casing, made from Hug Snug seam binding.

OH! And despite that drawstring waist, there is NO waist seam on this dress. So your front and back pieces (and front facings) are LOOOOOOONG. As such, I can’t recommend playing Pattern Tetris with anything but your sleeves, collar, back yoke, and pockets on this one–trust the fabric requirements, folks.

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All that’s left of 3 yards of fabric: daaaaaaaamn.

Conclusions

So there you have it: another wildly successful Named project! I am so glad to have one much-needed Summer/Spring dress added to my wardrobe, especially since I used fabric AND notions that I already had on hand. That’s right: the only thing I bought for this project was the pattern, which I would have eventually bought anyway. Sewing doesn’t get much better than that, does it? 😀 Well, Tom did find a way to make it slightly better, thanks to his epic Photoshop skills. This dress has now “theoretically” crossed time and space, making it The Greatest Ever:

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I dare you to beat THIS on #tbt

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DRESS…….IN…….SPAAAAAAAAAAACE

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“Mads” the Mountaineer!

And speaking of kickass Summer dresses, I think I will do a planning post for a summer wardrobe next. I desperately need more options for that season, and it is coming on fast! My goal will be to use only stashed fabric, and to focus on those patterns I already own.

In closing (FINALLY), I will leave you with one final me-made-related thing! We did band photos a few weeks ago (UGH the week before my hair got touched up–that figures), and I decided to wear one of my Inari dresses for the shoot! I am so pleased that I got to wear something that I like and feels like “me,” that I think looks “cool,” and that I MADE for band photos. SEWING ROCKS!!!

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Sitting in my car with 6 weeks of roots, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. 😉

See you all soon!

What have you been sewing lately? Do you ever curse yourself for choosing a tricky fabric for garments that require precision? How do you feel about the midi trend: LOVE or HATE? 

 

It’s Spring, So Here Are Four Winter Things

Well, this post took me long enough, didn’t it? 😀

I don’t talk much about my non-sewing activities on this blog, as I’m fairly sure they’re boring. But back in January, I decided to audition for a 90’s alt-rock cover band and guess what? I GOT IN!!! I’m really excited–that genre has been a long-term love of mine from back when I’d sneak downstairs on Saturdays to watch MTV as a kid–but it’s been a lot of work. I have to learn not just the existing set list, but a whole host of other songs we want to add as well; then there’s the weekly practice, which takes most of an evening after work. I’ve had a really hard time adjusting to my new obligations when it comes to time management, so a top that I started for Jungle January took me until March to pick up again (and it was a FAIL–salt in the wound). Yikes! To be fair, I was also working feverishly on some hand-knitted birthday gifts for my bestie (2 pairs of socks and 1 cowl), so any spare craft time went to those items first. (And yes, they were delivered on time!) Here’s hoping I get used to my new extracurricular activity and make more time for sewing, eh?

So anyway, I had hoped to be sharing a leopard-print blouse–that I started in JANUARY–with you today. Unfortunately, I am still without a leopard print garment. 😦 Since M7436 is a big ol’ shirt, I didn’t bother doing any flat pattern measurements. Yeahhhhhh, my lats and shoulders were too big for the shirt. (Thanks, one year of varsity track and field!) I’m bummed, since I had been looking forward to this top being done after 2 months of not having time for it but badly wanting to wear it. Lesson learned: MEASURE SHIT.

To console myself, I jumped headlong into something else. I had bought some sweater knits–my first ever–on Fabric.com about 3 months ago and have been eager to use them. Here they are! (NAYY.) I have also been wearing the same busted-ass pair of Forever21 sweatpants for 5 winters (and falls…and springs…) now and was due for at least one new pair, so I bought some french terry knits from Urban Rag Trader (NAYY) for those. So while I meant to be showing you all 1 new thing, I have 4 different-than-planned things to share instead!

First up: M7471, View B!

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A good depiction of the drape of the front.

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Closer look at the front collar

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Back wing-a-lings in action

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We made the same face!

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how this top would work for me–the envelope photo looks a little too oversized, but I loved the idea of it based on the line art. I picked View B because it had all the elements I wanted: straight hem, long sleeves, and no ruching. I am really, really happy with the finished top: it’s a winner! I don’t think it’s too much fabric at all, and the shape of the top is interesting and stylish (but very, very easy to sew). It also used a lot less fabric than I expected: I had 2 yards of my knit, and I still have enough left to use for something else! The key, I think, is to pick a fabric that drapes well; otherwise this top will look like you are wearing a pile of fabric in heavy folds. Just my $0.02, anyway.

Pattern Adjustments

The only adjustments I made to this pattern were vertical: it would have been a belly top on me otherwise! O_o (If you go to the pattern page on the BMV website, look at the model in the red top–that’s the one I made, and that’s about how short it would have been on me…no thanks.) I added 2.5″ at the waistline (which is marked on the pattern) and gave myself an extra 1.5″ at the hem; I only took a 5/8″ hem. I left the sleeves alone after taking some measurements and deciding they were fine as-is.

Construction Notes

Like I said, this top is dead simple to make. Just beware of the instructions: they have you baste the shoulders and necklines together, and then tell you to fold down the front collar at the fold line (after you’ve basted PAST it), baste that down somehow, and then sew the shoulder/neckline seam for real. DO NOT BOTHER WITH THAT. I blindly followed the directions to that point and then realized I’d be sewing the same thing twice, for no good reason. I unpicked my basting from the foldlines on up, folded the collars down FIRST, and then basted everything. So much simpler.

The instructions also have you sew the side seams before setting the lower sleeves…yeah, nuts to that. I put the lower sleeves in flat and whipped up the side seams and sleeves in one pass with the serger.

Next up is M7538, View A:

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Front view! You can see the top overlaps due to my fabric being lightweight…

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Back view, which is basically identical to the front (right wraps over left, etc.)

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Boob crossover in action! Nursing or soon-to-be-nursing folks, this top could probably easily be hacked for access! (I am neither: just an idiot who plays with her clothes.)

Now if M7471 has flown somewhat under the radar, THIS pattern is one that got everyone’s attention when it was released. It BEGS to be color-blocked. So of course, I did the most boring thing possible with this awesome pattern and just used 1 color for the entire thing. Style FAIL. 😉

The only things I would change if I make this one again (and I think I will) are to add a little less length, take a wedge out at each upper back piece near the shoulder blade, change the shoulder seam slope just slightly (those two factors cause the shoulders to fall down during wear), and use a heftier fabric. I think my hatchi knit is a bit too lightweight for this pattern, so the crossovers at the bust show through and look a bit bumpy. But otherwise, I am happy with this one.

Pattern Alterations

This is one of those tricky patterns for long-torso’d people. It clearly says, “No provisions made for above-the-waist adjustments.” So if you need that length, you have to figure out how to add it. My solution? Slice all the pieces except for the top ones along their horizontal centers and add 1″. I also added some amount at the hem, 1.5″ maybe? (Can’t remember, sorry!) It was definitely enough length, and I ended up taking a lot off the hem before hemming the top (it was covering my entire ass). There are a couple of spots on the body that are too long as well, so I’ll make further adjustments if there’s a “next time.”

I also went for half-length sleeves, hitting at my elbows. I thought long sleeves would be too much of this color on me, and with the low necklines front AND back, it wasn’t ever going to be a “keeping warm” shirt anyway. I also prefer shorter sleeved tops under cardigans and other toppers, so it was an easy choice. Since that length isn’t in the pattern, I just measured my arm to where I wanted the sleeve to hit and added 5/8″ hem allowance to that.

Construction Notes

Make sure you transfer your markings carefully–you’ll want them. The top looks like a bunch of twisted, overlapped fabric strips, but really it’s just clever pieced construction. Orienting your pieces is really the only challenge in this pattern, and even that isn’t difficult if you were careful from the beginning. I did opt to baste all of my pieces in place before serging.

I have mentioned this next bug-bear before (when I made my Jungle January dress last year), but I encountered a very bloated sleeve cap on this pattern: it was just way, way excessive for a pattern designed for knits. On top of that, they expect you to set the sleeve rather than sew it in flat. I’ve found McCall instructions for knit patterns to be old-fashioned; they will get you there in the end, but there is almost always a better way than they recommend. Food for thought…

And last but not least, 2 versions of the True Bias Hudson Pants:

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Pair #1! (Photo was lightened somewhat to show the detail–black fabric is hard to photograph!)

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Back view

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Using those pockets!

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Side view

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Puppy time!

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Blue pair!

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Wayyyyyyy stretchier than the first pair!

Having made the men’s version of this pattern before, there isn’t much new to say about the original women’s version. The pattern goes together very easily, though I did deepen the pockets by about 1.5″ and omit the drawstring at the waist. I made the smallest size and cut the elastic to 7″ shorter than my high hip measurement (I made no adjustments to the waistband pattern piece for my size). My only issue is that the black french terry fabric isn’t as stretchy as I need it to be, so the ankle bands make that pair hard to take off!

I didn’t add any length to either pair–both my fabrics stretch on the grain slightly (or in the case of the blue one, about as much as on the cross-grain) and I didn’t really care if they ended up full-length or not because I don’t wear sweatpants except at home. I think I got away with it because of the stretch of my fabrics, because the Hudsons are designed to be dropped in the crotch, and because I have a small butt and short-for-my-height scrawny legs. I also wear these at my high hip, and not at my waist. YMMV, so check the rise and leg length if you aren’t sure!

So there you have it, 4 things! Hopefully I won’t be gone as long before my next post–I have some plans but that’s never a guarantee. 😉 Just in case it takes me a while, here are some cute Mulder photos to hold y’all over!

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THAT FACE.

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Happy model pup!

 

Remodeling “Mads”ness – Our Bathroom Remodel!

Can you say, “MAKEOVERRRRR“?!?

I know I said I’d share fabric organization stuff next, but I haven’t gotten photos of that yet. (Mostly because my yarn still needs to be organized and put away…shhh!) So how about a detour to our new bathroom instead? It’s only one door down the hallway from the sewing stash! 😉 This post is definitely not sewing-related AND it’s really long, so if sewing is all you’re here for it’s totally cool if you close this tab and move along. No hard feelings!

A year ago, we decided to seriously explore having at least one of the 2 bathrooms in our house remodeled. This project was without a doubt the biggest undertaking we’ve ever had as homeowners, and definitely took a lot of time and energy. (And also $$ but that’s because we hired a professional.) Now that it is finally finished (our designer came to take final photos earlier this week), I thought it would be fun to share the project with you guys from the beginning.

Background

Originally, we had planned to try doing both bathrooms–they both needed some major TLC, but for different reasons. One was just old and outdated in its fittings (or so we thought), while the other was new but definitely not done properly. We knew we wanted to hire this out: we’re somewhat ambitious DIYers, but this seemed like something better left to a professional.

After getting a quote for both bathrooms, we discussed it and decided that, while it would be awesome to have them both redone, we would be better served using the money for the second, newer bathroom on a mini-split system for the attic and a new water heater (ours was 20 years old). We have exactly ZERO regrets about that choice, for the record. 🙂 Having made that choice, we moved forward with our plans for the upstairs bathroom!

Here is what that room looked like when we bought the house (and until we remodeled it):

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The back corner of the room; note the original baseboards!

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Old vanity, medicine cabinet/mirror, and sconces, plus the linen closet! Also note the outlet–it will move and look nicer later!

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Original claw foot tub, rigged to function as a shower. That cupboard thing is hiding the water lines. Classy, no?

While our contractor employs designers, we had a definite idea of what we wanted: a walk-in shower with tiled walls and a frameless glass door, a floating vanity, and vinyl plank flooring. We also picked our own color scheme very early in the “nebulous will-we-or-won’t-we discussion” phase. Believe it or not, Tom is the one who picked out the final paint color at first! The only disagreement we ever had–and which was more of a running joke than an actual disagreement–was about the purple accent tile he wanted but that I vetoed as hard as I have ever slapped down a design suggestion in my life. It was awful. 😉 (Imagine “Cotton Candy Purple” glass tiles, in round bubble shapes of varying sizes. Just…no.) ANYWAY. We had ideas. The final result is very true to what we wanted, which makes it that much more exciting!

It Begins

We had decided to do the demo work ourselves to save money ($1,000), and also to save that magnificent bitch of a bathtub you see in the photo above. See, our contractors are good people, but they’re not historic salvagers. They were going to smash that tub into bits to get it out of our house, folks. I couldn’t allow it. It hurt me to think of that tub–an original piece of our home’s history–being destroyed and sent to a landfill when it could still be of use to someone. And at least in our part of the world, people WANT these antique tubs! I don’t get it myself–I haven’t taken baths since I was a little kid–but I will happily contribute to the supply. I called our local architectural salvage (yep, that’s a thing we have in Columbus!) and they not only came and hauled the tub away with nary a scratch put on it OR my house, they paid me for that. In cash. I know, right?!? So I did a good deed AND got $50 for it. Unfortunately, that was where the good aspects of doing the demolition ourselves ended.

First, we had to cut the water and drain lines to that tub before they would come and get it. (Fair enough, right?) This required turning off the water to the entire house because there were no shut-offs for these pipes. Oh, and we also needed a saw and caps. And one water line was bigger than the other, so an emergency trip back to the hardware store for a different size cap was required at like, 7PM. Yay. We had no trouble removing the old sconces, medicine cabinet, or vanity. Well, I say “we,” but mostly I mean Tom. 😀 Tom also replaced the old outlet with a new GFCI outlet and relocated it; we also installed a new vent fan/light combo mostly ourselves, but with an assist from our roofer with the outdoors parts.

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Much better than the can light that preceded it.

I will note that we would have LOVED to redo the ceiling in this room, but it would have been a big expense. We have no idea what state the original plaster is in under that ugly-ass paneling, and that wasn’t a can of worms we were interested in opening and paying for since the paneling isn’t in disrepair. 😦

I took the lead on removing about 90 years worth of poorly-applied paint from the baseboards, since we were going to repaint them and wanted our fresh semi-gloss paint to look nice. This project took me weeks, and actually resulted in nerve damage to my right ulnar nerve; I still lose feeling in my right hand on occasion, even 4-5 months after finishing that work. As such, I am definitely counting the paint removal as demolition! 😀

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That grain hadn’t seen the light of day in close to 100 years…

We had to resort to some heavy artillery to get the paint off (Peel-Away 1, if you find yourself in a similar situation–IT IS AMAZING but also very involved), but I’m so glad we put the time and money (and bodily injury) into that project because there were SO MANY LAYERS and most were so badly applied! And since the base layers were old lacquer paint applied over the original stain, they didn’t respond to anything less intense than this product.

That’s not to say things went totally according to plan; one huge issue was revealed when the vanity was finally out of the room:

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Yep, that’s a hole in the floor and allll the vanity pipes come out of it. (But do you see my nice new outlet?!?)

That little gem is definitely NOT up to building codes. And my designer, upon seeing a photo of it, said she had “never seen anything like that–ever.” Hooray. That metal button on the wall is an old vent pipe for a sink that has long since been removed; that pipe is still in the wall, BTW. It is also lead, as were all the original pipes in this house before they were eventually converted to modern PVC. Our theory, which is probably close to the truth, is that the lead pipes to this bathroom had frozen and leaked, and this was someone’s quick and cost-effective workaround. When we bought the house, there were still lead drain pipes in use in this bathroom (which we replaced during the Polar Vortex of 2014 when they, surprise, froze and leaked) so that just makes the most sense!

You are probably wondering WTF that gray shit is all over the floor, right? Yeah, that was what was still stuck to the subfloor after we removed the roll-on vinyl floor (as seen in the “Before” photos further up the post). Tom had to remove that, too; it was a difficult job and he’s my hero for doing it by himself. And then the floors looked like this:

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What The Actual Fuck?!?!?

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Seriously, can we put the fuzzy gray stuff back on?

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But WHYYYYYYYYYY????

Clearly, the original floors in this room had been hard done by, as evidenced by their almost total replacement with a patchwork of mostly-plywood subfloor. The original floorboards are the narrower slats you see in the last pic, up against the wall. For the uninitiated among you, the number of joints in the subfloor in these photos is BAD. More joints = less structurally sound. This floor and those pipes for the vanity were a hard lesson for us in remodeling an old house: once you start a project, there’s no turning back, no matter what sort of fuckery you encounter. And fuckery was present in abundance: some asshole used PEGBOARD to support the rotten floor under the toilet and water lines for the tub. Pegboard. Which comes with holes already in it and is basically made of compressed glue and sawdust. >=[ If there is a heaven, the people who ruined this bathroom did not go there.

To make matters worse, because of repeated leaking and nobody ever moving that original cast-iron tub (EVER–they even cut holes and slits in the old vinyl floor to go around the feet), the floor had a definite dip where the tub used to be. The floors in the entire room also slant slightly toward the vanity wall, but this didn’t worry us–or our carpenter–much. (All the floors in our house do this–it’s 106 years old, and that chimney is so heavy that it has created a vortex of suck over time. Not ideal, but not a scary “The House Is Going To Fall Down!!!!!!!!” kind of thing.)

Bringing In The Pros

Finally, we had the demo finished. Unfortunately, our carpenter was still stuck on a previous job due to a last-minute catastrophe. As a result, our start date got pushed back to October; not a big deal, but we had done the demo at the end of August/beginning of September because we expected a September start date. So we essentially ended up with an unnecessary extra month of living with only 1 bathroom. (I know that’s a total First World Whine, but you’d be amazed at how fast you can become accustomed to having 2 toilets for 2 people…) But in October, the pros arrived and the rebuilding began!

Phase 1 for poor Doug the Carpenter was plumbing. It was at this juncture that we all found out–because learning is FUN!–that some asshole (who, again, is not in heaven) had cut off all the vent pipes for this bathroom long ago. If you didn’t know, bathroom plumbing requires venting for sewer gas in order to work properly and meet modern building codes (at least in the US); our vents had been cut and capped for reasons that still elude us. It took Doug a couple of weeks to have the plumbing done properly, but he did it!

And because of the awful nature of the subfloor already, Doug decided to do the plumbing work from below–our kitchen has a drop ceiling, so access was very easy to obtain and didn’t damage our ceiling in any way. Unfortunately, making room for Doug to work from there meant that our kitchen got torn apart and rearranged for the duration of the remodel. But what can you do, right? We just went to the basement if we needed to use the microwave and made it work. 😀

Here are some fun photos of the preparation phase of the plumbing work:

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This is the spot where we found pegboard used to support the sad floor. O_o

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That’s Tom, in our kitchen…downstairs. Thank goodness for drop ceilings! (PS: See the pegboard in the upper right corner???)

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Ever wondered what the top of my oven and vent hood look like from the next floor? Here you go. I made cookies the day before!

And here are photos of Doug’s work, done properly (at last):

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Future shower head/faucet! (Those paints in the frame are NOT the ones we used–we did a slightly darker variation of each.)

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What a plaster and lathe wall looks like on the *inside*…pretty cool, right?

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New vanity plumbing, NOT coming through the floor underneath.

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New toilet plumbing and drain stack

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Shower drain and rough-in for the pan; those dark areas of wall are where baseboards used to be.

And because Doug is a goddamn hero (and a professional), he laid new subfloor over top of the shit-show that was already there:

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LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCE THO.

Now we were getting somewhere! Next is the really fun stuff: the shower being built! But before that could happen, Doug needed his supplies. Unfortunately, between us having to take the doors off the room AND the closet and all Doug’s supplies, this meant a few weeks of living in the middle of an obstacle course:

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Ummm…did I accidentally wander onto the set of Nickelodeon’s GUTS?

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Somehow, this shower pan was going to fit in my bathroom.

I can’t tell you how many bruises I had on my upper thighs from cracking into the vanity there in the foreground of the first photo! But we did get used to it, oddly enough; like the kitchen, it was just something we had to live with if we wanted the bathroom done.

The shower really began to take shape once the pan was installed, though:

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First phase: cement board!

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Next, a rubberized waterproof coating; it goes on pink and dries red!

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Holy shit, it’s our tile!!

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Even without the grout applied, it looked amazing.

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You can *just* see the Schluter metal piece on the outside of the tile here–we did that instead of a bullnose tile.

From here, Doug did the grout to finish off all the tile. (We went with a light silvery gray to match.) Once he had this done, he turned his attention to the flooring and installing the vanity. At this point, I was told it was okay to start painting the trim and walls. The toilet needed to be installed as well, so I started in that corner. I had already primed all the baseboards–never skip that step! 🙂

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OMG THE FLOOR!!!

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Even 1/3 done, it looked awesome.

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Making its way toward the closet…

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Magical Levitating Vanity, plus paint!

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Coming together!

From there, things moved fast: Doug installed the toilet, did me a solid by painting the woodwork and wall under the vanity, and installed the shower fixtures and shelves and the quarter-round along the baseboards and pan. After that, your intrepid blogger finished painting the rest of the room and the doors. About a week later, the shower door arrived and was installed. Considering how long the first parts took, this all felt like it flew by!

All that remained was for us to install the wall cabinets, mirror, and fixtures we’d bought at IKEA, put the re-painted doors back on, and have the final inspection and pass it (which we did). And then, in December, IT WAS FINISHED:

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Even the toilet is pretty!

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Seriously, it is a different room now!

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Close-up of the AMAZING shower tile and shelves. The glass tile is a beautiful iridescent purple but it’s hard to photograph…

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‘Sup.

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So beautiful!

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Automatic nightlight action

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How I felt when it was all done

So, that was our big remodel adventure of 2016! It took months, and at times felt like it would never be finished, but we are really glad we did it. We’ve added a few things since I took these last photos: there’s a towel bar on the back wall (with the window) now, a hand towel bar under the cabinet next to the vanity, and some hanging hooks on each door. We also got new bathmats and towels thanks to my in-laws, who gave us a Kohl’s gift card for Xmas. I hope you guys enjoyed the transformation; it’s still hard to believe that this bathroom is part of my house–especially after seeing it during that demolition phase, LOL!

Hopefully I’ll see you guys back here soon with fabric organization and possibly even some SEWING! Thanks for sticking with me! ❤

*I should note that we bought the IKEA stuff (mirror, cabinets, bathroom hardware, and vanity), along with the shelves for the shower and the flooring and underlayment ourselves, with our contractor’s encouragement. Our designer was wonderful at helping us determine what things would be cheaper to source ourselves.*

Have you undertaken a big remodeling project before? Tell me about it!

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Tops

Hi! Wherever in the world you are, I hope your weather has at least been consistent: ours has been somewhat confused about what season it is! One week it was in the teens (F) and then suddenly we had a few days of 40-50 with rain. One day, it was 60F!! And now it’s back to 40s and 50s forecast for this week. Come on, Ohio, pick a lane!!

So here I am, with not one but 2 new tops to share! One was called out in the planning post a while ago, and the other got an honorable mention by way of me whining about Named’s Fall line and how I wanted to sew ALL OF IT* right now. On these grounds, I am calling this a technical victory on both garments as far as sticking to my plan goes. 😉

*Except for literally only one pattern from that collection, which was the only one I did not buy. Yikes.

We did our photos indoors this time, in our attic studio. Which is orange. (2 shades of orange, to be precise.) So we had to hang up a blanket to make it work for these tops! I had the first top on during our test photos so that’s mostly what we got–not as many detail shots on that one. But it’s definitely the less interesting of the two, so…

First up, a Lark tee! I opted for the 3/4 sleeves with the boatneck for this first one.

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Purple-iscious Lark tee!

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My face when we’re testing the lights

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Supposed to show the flawless twin needle hem–oh well.

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Testing lights again…

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Literally the only shot we got of the back of this top, and I’m pretending to twerk in it. Awesome. O_O

I am so sorry about that last pic, you guys–my ass has this super power where it can make itself look bodacious on camera sometimes, much to my constant consternation. Okay, I guess I’m not that sorry because I still posted it, and it is pretty funny. I promise you that Le Azz is rather underwhelming IRL and is about what you’d expect from someone who wears size 00 jeans (i.e., sad). 😦 ANYWAY…

My Lark tee is a riff on the whole “luxurious basics” thing: simple garment, swish fabric. That fabric is a gorgeous Telio bamboo/lycra jersey from Fabric.com. (YES, they have Telio fabrics now you guys.) This particular fabric is great: soft to the touch, plenty stretchy, but with a nice weight. I love the color, too. This fabric shrank like the devil in the washer/dryer cycle; not a shock, since bamboo is a cellulose fiber and that’s a risk you take, but I still managed to be surprised when I went to lay the fabric out to cut! 😉

Unlike every other time I’ve made a Grainline pattern, I did not add any length to Lark. None. It’s clearly drafted to be longer, and I like that about it. There are plenty of neckline and sleeve options on Lark, which is nice. That being said, it’s definitely not a fitted top: this is a size 0 (my usual Grainline size) with a little bit extra removed from the waistline. I like a good relaxed-fit tee now and then, and I know that Grainline’s aesthetic doesn’t really jive with “body-con” anything, but I think I will bring future Larks in a bit more all over to give me some definition. I would feel frumpy in tops that were this loose all the time, if I’m honest. I think it’s something about the fitted sleeves in combination with the loose-but-not-oversized body…I just can’t deal!

With respect to this top specifically, I now remember why I don’t wear boatnecks: bra straps. O_O

Sewing-wise, this was dead simple. I serged everything but the hems and sewed my hems with….DRUM ROLL…a stretch twin needle! Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!  I opted for the narrower one of the two that I have because it matched my RTW tees. I tested it on a scrap first and, apart from making sure to use knit interfacing for all my hems (including the neckline), I just went for it. I am pleased to report that the interfacing prevented the dreaded tunneling effect (which was present on my un-interfaced test scrap)!

So that’s this Lark tee. There will be more, that’s for sure!

And now for the star of this post, the Named Talvikki Sweater!!!!!!

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Big orange sweater

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This face reflects how I feel about this top

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Infinity Arms!!!!!!! It’s amazing what a funny photo angle can do…

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Neckline. It does stand up by itself, I just didn’t adjust it before we started taking pics. =(

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Wiggling.

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My flaps are fly as fuck.

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“Ughhh I can’t with this bitch…”

Re: that last photo, I HAD TO. HAD TO. I got the idea immediately when I decided I was going to post these tops together. I died laughing when Tom got the Photoshopping done. HILARIOUS. (And free of twerking…)

So anyway, Talvikki! AKA, the Big Orange Sweater. I fucking love this thing. The collar! The darts! The hem! The fabric! Gahhhhhhh. I apologize for the odd-looking dents and stuff around the front shoulder/neck area; it’s because my collarbones and shoulders are very prominent (read: boney as fuck) and the fabric is kind of catching and pooling on them weirdly.

Speaking of fabric, this is a scuba/neoprene knit from Gorgeous Fabrics. I bought it a while ago but immediately thought of it again when this pattern was released–it seemed like the perfect match, and I think that instinct was right on! It’s hefty enough to support the collar (I opted not to interface my neck facing but YMMV), and has just enough stretch to satisfy the pattern’s very specific requirements (30% minimum). And since I bought 3 yards, I still have enough left to make a skirt! #winning  😀 And can I just say that my favorite thing about scuba is the way it totally dissolves when you pull on tiny pieces of it?!? I find it bubble wrap-levels of mesmerizing:

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Seriously, how the f*ck does it do that?!?!?

Construction-wise, there wasn’t much to this top once I got past those neck darts. Those were by far the fiddliest part! I did most of the remaining work at my serger, but used my machine to attach the neck facing. Since none of the hems have to stretch, I just single-needled them. I will note, for the record, that I used a stretch needle in a size 90/14 and had no issues whatsoever. When in doubt, always test on a scrap first!!

I did add 1″ of length to this top, which is now a standard adjustment for me on any Named tops and bodices; I added it at the bust line. Normally I would change the shoulder slope on a Named top as well, but this one has a dropped shoulder and funnel neck so I opted just to leave them be. I’ve seen other folks debating whether they want to slim the sleeves down, which I totally understand. As for me, I agree that they’re a lot of sleeve, but I don’t mind them as-is.

So there you have it: two new tops! They’re certainly very different from each other, but I am glad to have both of them added to my wardrobe.

That’ll do it for me today–thanks for checking in! I’ll be back before too long, because I just organized my fabric stash this weekend and can’t wait to show you guys!!

Have you sewed anything new recently? Do you find it easy to pair fabrics with patterns? Do you ever look at a potential blog photo and wonder “How did that happen?!?” or, “OMG do I really look like that?!?” 😀

(PS: Let me know what you think of the new theme on the site! I didn’t like how narrow my old one made all the text so I decided to tweak it. If you find the site hard to read or navigate, please let me know!)

Top Fives, Part 2: Reflections and Goals

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Formerly known as “Goals and Shit,” by Mads. Thanks again to Gillian for keeping this going! Part 1 of my Top 5 is here–it felt more logical to separate them this way. 🙂

Happy New Year, everyone! I am writing this from my couch (under a sherpa blanket–if you get winter weather, you will want one of these) with a sinus infection. Truly a fitting end to this big-picture shit-show of a year, eh?

So, anyway: 2016 Sewing Reflections and 2017 Goals!

For Reflections on 2016, I just have a few random thought-barfs for you:

  1. Vague Disappointment: When I look back on my sewing in 2016, it’s hard to remember much about it. I ended up with garments that I love, but I think it was just kind of a slog in the sewing room this year mentally. I had hoped to get more accomplished in 2016, but oh well. Every project just seemed to take FOREVER. I had a lot of stress in the background: July marked the first full year at my new job, which still demands my best every day whether I have it in me or not; at home, we were in Bathroom Remodel mode from March when we started seriously planning everything until December when it was finally finished. I am hoping to be more creatively productive in 2017 and want to treat my sewing–even the challenging projects–as my chance to re-focus and enjoy myself. I love sewing, and I don’t want to lose that in the moment. With no massive home reno projects in the pipeline for 2017, hopefully that’s an easy thing to live up to!
  2. Being Social: One thing I really did enjoy in 2016 was taking part in #sewphotohop in September. I “met” so many new and wonderful people and felt so inspired by the creativity that’s out there just waiting to be discovered. Thanks to all of you who share your creative spirits with the world and are willing to talk to (sometimes slightly odd/awkward/foul-mouthed) strangers about it: you are awesome. Having a community–I am lucky to have both a virtual and a physical community for sewing–makes this incredible hobby/passion/lifestyle that much more meaningful.
  3. Being Bold: This is more reflected by my 2016 fabric purchases (and I suppose by 2 of my projects this year) given my glacial sewing pace, but I am trying to embrace color in my wardrobe the way that I embrace it everywhere else. (Except my car: I speed so a neutral color is a must!) Color brings me a lot of joy and I want to wear that joy on my body, regardless of what “experts” or anyone else thinks about whether or not it is flattering. The #restingbitchface will remain however–that’s basically tattooed on.
  4. Fearless (or Stubborn): I am not one to be scared of a project. (Scared of making a hash of my Chanel boucle yardage on the other hand? Definitely. I would vomit from rage and shame.) If I want to make something, I make it. (Muslins first, of course–gotta practice!) I know there are folks who don’t approach their sewing projects this way and that’s FINE–it takes all kinds, right?–but if there is one thing that’s been consistent across my journey into sewing, it’s been my “attitude problem.” 🙂 I get mad when things don’t work out, of course. I’ve cried over projects that didn’t live up to my standards, or when I felt like I hadn’t done the garment justice with my technique or skills, but I just get back in there and make what  want to make. Shit, I took patternmaking classes on a bit of a whim with ZERO experience and it turned out to be one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, even if I did struggle with the material some days. I guess what I’m saying is this: no matter what I make in a year, or whether it worked or it didn’t, I FUCKING MADE THAT THING. And even if it was a piping hot mess, it is likely that I learned something from the experience. So I want to encourage all of you, especially those who may find this attitude uncomfortable, to pick ONE project for 2017 and Just. Make. It. Try it. If it sucks, it sucks; we have all made something that sucks. And if it doesn’t suck, then you conquered that project. And no matter how it turned out, you can find a lesson there someplace. And there are an awful lot of us out here who will encourage you, give advice, let you vent, and clap out loud for you as you go. You can.

And now: Goals!

My goals for 2016 were rather vague (I’m not too fond of prescriptions for things that are supposed to be my hobbies–that’s for work!) but I gave myself enough to aim for to be able to tell how I did after-the-fact. Here they are:

  1. My first goal was to stop buying fabric…nope. Definitely didn’t happen. (And now that I know how to knit, I buy yarn too. Shit.)
  2. Goal 2 was to fill some wardrobe gaps with sewing. This was a mixed bag: I made some tops but no pants. However, I scored BIG at a Limited sample sale a couple of weeks ago and got plenty of pants and some new blouses for next to nothing; I am hoping those will tide me over until I can catch up in Ye Olde Sweatshoppe.
  3. Goal 3 was Outwear and Activewear, neither of which happened but that’s cool because I knew even in 2015 that they weren’t top priorities.
  4. Dude Sewing was next on my list, and I think it is safe to say I nailed that one. Tom got 4 pairs of bitchin’ sweatpants AND one pair of Japanese denim jeans between December 2015 and December 2016. (I did not manage to make him anything for Xmas this year though, and I am sad about that.)
  5. Last up was to keep my sewing spreadsheet going, and this was another rousing success. Although sometimes, like when I’m looking at the fabric tab, I wish I hadn’t done such a great and thorough job…

So that brings us to goals for 2017! Again, I’m a loose goal-setter, but I do genuinely hope to succeed at the following:

  1. Cull That Stash. Donating isn’t really my favorite option for my garment fabrics because I buy nice things (with a few scarce exceptions from when I was first starting out) and want to give fellow garment sewers a chance to make them into something awesome (or horrible, whichever–just make it into SOMETHING). Have any of you ever sold stash fabric online before? How did you do it, and what do you recommend? I intend to sell everything for as dirt-cheap as I can: this isn’t to make money, it’s literally to make space. O_o I am not averse to donating things if it comes to that, it’s just that there aren’t huge numbers of options for that around me that I know of–if you have advice for that route, hit me up!
  2. Make Those Jeans. My pattern is ready, I had one nearly-complete attempt that was undone by bad fabric, and I seriously want to make this happen. This is my year, no doubt!
  3. Be a #basicbitch. Boring, yes, but I want to make some serious progress with basics and staple pieces this year: knit dresses that work just as well for the office as a gig depending on styling, knit tops made from luxurious fabrics, and shirts and skirts that can be worn with tons of other pieces seamlessly.
  4. Conscious, Heartfelt Gift Giving. I’d like to make more gifts for more people I love this year. 2 of my sisters have moved to new digs and said they’d love some Dirty Bird Potholders; one sister is getting Pussy Hats for her group going to the Women’s March in a few weeks; my bestie wants some Well-Mannered Bird Potholders for her mother; dear friends (Dunuh’s people!) are having their second baby and that baby needs a baby shark, obviously; Tom needs more jeans and I have patterns and denim and could just make them without him really noticing; Bestie is getting at least one pair of knitted socks for her birthday. That’s quite a list but if I can plan properly, it should be easily done.
  5. Draw It or Forget It. I treated myself to a Fashionary earlier this year and have not kept up using it as well as I had hoped. I tend to get these garment ideas out of nowhere and without a way to get it on paper, I forget about it. I’ve said before that my sewing queue is very fluid–and I like that–but I do want to remember what intentions I may have had for a fabric or pattern in case it was a decent plan!

So that’s it for me and my Top 5 posts this year: thanks for sticking with me! Feel free to weigh in with a comment; one of my favorite things about sewing and blogging is talking to people and making new friends!

See you all on the other side–let’s make 2017 awesome.

Top Fives, Part 1: Hits, Misses, and Highlights!

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It’s Top 5 time again! Thanks to Gillian for hosting once again, and to everyone out there who has shared their own thoughts and data under the prompts–I look forward to reading these posts every year!

Since I always enjoy reading other people’s recaps this time of year, I figured I would share my own! I will do two separate Top 5 posts this year: one for hits, misses, and non-sewing highlights, and another for goals and reflections. I’m not a prolific enough sewer (YET.) to justify separating out those first few things, LOL! So without further ado, here we go!

Top 5 Hits

This is a tough one, because I had almost all successful projects this year. For the sake of expediency, all my Sharking is ineligible for the rankings. 😉

  1. Buffalo Check Archer – This shirt has gotten so much wear in its first few months of life! I am also a big fan of the snaps.
  2. Dude Jeans – Bragging rights + workmanship = Definite Top 5 project. I am still really proud of these jeans!
  3. Holiday Outfit – I worked with lace for the first time and powered through some mojo-busting creative challenges to get this project finished. I am very happy with the dress and know it will be worn again!
  4. Penny Raglan Trio – I’m counting these as a cluster; the rose gold and green striped versions get worn the most, but I am really glad to have all three of these tops in my wardrobe.
  5. Moss Mini Skirt – Again, this got worn quite a lot when the weather was warmer. It’s not getting worn as much now because it turns out I don’t have tights that go with navy. :-/
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Archer, Dude Jeans, Holiday Dress, Penny Trio, and Inside-Out Moss

Top Misses

As with last year, I don’t really have 5 misses in my 2016 catalog. But here are things that had issues:

  1. Penny Raglan Take 1 – Utterly unwearable; below is the only known photo of it, actually. The fabric was just too heavy for the pattern IMO and the colors were not a good look for me. I also hate the original neckline: it looks sloppy on me. Recycled.
  2. Dirty Bird Pot Holders – These are here because of Clover’s Chaco Liners, which stained the finished product and resulted in them having to be washed before I could gift them; because the fronts are paper pieced (so grainline doesn’t really matter), they warped out of their painstakingly-squared-up shapes. Fuck you, Clover Chaco Liners.
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Sad Penny, Dirty (Chalk) Bird

That leaves us with the in-between things; these things are liked (or loved!) but got overshadowed by more versatile things.

No Man’s Land

  1. Jungle January Dress – Full disclosure: I love this dress and have worn it a handful of times. It just doesn’t get “go-to dress” status because, you know, Zebra + Electric Cobalt Blue. Although I do have lipstick to match it now… 😀
  2. Kielodoscope – Love. I made it right as the warm weather started to wane though, so it didn’t get more than 2 outings this year.
  3. Sleeveless Striped Archer – Again, I love this one. It’s just highly seasonal until I can knit some baggy sweaters to wear over it in the colder weather!
  4. Dude Sweatpants, Takes 3 and 4 – Total successes, but sweatpants are not that exciting–especially when they’re a repeat! I didn’t even blog them (I did share a pic of one pair in an unrelated post, though).
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Jungle, Kielo, Archer, Sweatpants

I made 19 things this year, including 6 sharks (3 big ones, 1 medium one, and 2 miniature ones). Not bad, although the sharks certainly artificially inflate my count! The shark-adjusted sewing count stands at 13; that accounts for finished items only, and does not include anything that got pitched after completion. Not bad!

In 2015, I made 14 things; 13 of them were garments. So by that metric, I am only 1 garment short of last year’s figure (my 14th thing in 2015 was a shark; my 13th thing this year was the set of potholders). I had certainly hoped to do better than that this year, but things happen!

Speaking of things happening, that brings me to my last thing for this post: Non-Sewing Highlights!

  1. Learning to knit – Life-changing achievement, you guys. I am hooked. So far I still only make socks, but I have plans to move on to cowls and sweaters very soon! ^____^ I am very grateful to my friend Betsy for taking the time to teach me–life (and my stash) will never be the same again!
  2. Bathroom remodel – This is also a big deal, for both time and $$ reasons. Our house is 106 years old and still had the original claw-foot tub in the upstairs bath; those are nice (and highly coveted by some folks), but it just wasn’t right for us. We now have a very modern, very functional (and up-to-code!), very beautiful bathroom upstairs and it was worth every penny, every frustration, and every minute of work. I’ll share a post about it soon! (And don’t worry, the bathtub went to a good home–I would never trash such an iconic piece of our home’s history unless I had absolutely no other choice! I’m pretty sure they could take away my History degree for something like that!! 🙂 )
  3. New lappy – This blog is now brought to you on a new laptop as of May 2016! Mine was from 2006 and had survived moving from England to the US (I bought it in the UK out of necessity during my semester abroad–that currency exchange HURT, man), functioning as my sole source of television and movie entertainment for 2 years, and a metric shit-ton of pet hair/kitty stampedes/wanton dog paws and various other abuses. It even survived a hard drive wipe after being infected with a virus that attacked the core of its Windows operating system! I was used to its quirks, like the British Pound currency symbol where the # sign is (I couldn’t be bothered to change it from its original UK English settings…), but it was time to retire it; while I do miss having Windows XP, it is nice to have a fully-functioning machine again!
  4. Family – Okay, this feels like kind of a cop-out because my family is always in my life regardless of what year it is. But this year lacked the health crises of 2015, and Tom and I are hours away from celebrating both our 8th wedding anniversary and the 10th anniversary of our first date. (Awwwwwwwww.) We’ve got all three of our babes with us, and it feels like we’re in a nice groove right now. Family-wise, it’s been a really good year. 🙂
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New socks, New Bathroom!

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Awwwwwwwwwwwww

So that’s it for this portion of my Top 5! I’ll be back with my Reflections and Goals in a separate post. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Will you be sharing your 2016 round-up? Did your sewing live up to your expectations this year? What do you want to change–or keep up!–in 2017?

 

An Utterly Unnecessary Holiday Outfit

Hellooooooooo!

I hope you are all having a good holiday season so far–this time of year always seems to blow up my schedule and make me stress like it’s my job, so I for one will be glad when it’s over!!

You may remember that last year, I decided to make a fancy-ass dress for my company’s holiday party. The dress code for this party is not black tie, as you may have expected from the nature of my dress. Rather, the only real stipulation is that people are not allowed to wear jeans. Clearly, I require only the flimsiest of pretexts to go full evening wear on my colleagues! Just before last year’s event, Vogue released V9160 in their holiday collection, and I instantly knew that it would be Next Year’s Outfit. It even made my epic Planning Post for this Fall/Winter!

I bought the fabric for this during the first quarter of the year but left any actual work on it until November–bad idea. 2 weeks before my event, it was clear that some major adjustments were needed; it was a slight scramble and I had to compromise my original vision, but I got it finished. All told, the final item is nice and I felt great in it!

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V9160/Sloper Mash-Up!

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From the back! (The back necklines are symmetrical–the lace on the right side ended up with more blank space at the top, which creates the illusion that they aren’t the same. Grrrr.)

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Snow! It was also sleeting when we took these.

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‘Tude

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Note, if you will, the mirror images of the necklines–pretty proud of that one!

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Without the sash, but now with more Derp Face!

Please excuse the skirt, which had been worn the night before to my party and needs to be re-pressed and re-clappered; I ironed out the “Butt, Meet Chair” wrinkles for you, though! (And yes, I did wear that lipstick to my work party! I also wore eye makeup and some jewelry for that event, but wasn’t about to put it back on for a quick photo session. Meh.)

Fabric!

The lace for the bodice was the first thing I found: it was everything I wanted, from color (Eggplant!!) to width (WIDE) to style (double scalloped, no beads, slight metallic thread usage, beautiful cording, and no tulle backing). It’s a Nicole Miller lace and I got it from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Next, I set about finding fabric for the trousers. I chose wool/silk gabardine because it has that sheen for evening, but would be easy to work with because it’s so stable. Mood had the perfect color, but I found a very-slightly-cheaper price at Fashion Fabrics Club, so I ordered from them. This was difficult, because their website uses different names for the colors vs. Mood’s site, and their depiction of colors was much less true-to-life than Mood’s. I ended up having to return the first cut I ordered–at my cost–and re-order another color. I never thought I’d have to say this, but I should have just ordered from Mood! In the end, I got the color I wanted and it really is THE SAME FABRIC that I swatched from Mood, so whatever, lesson learned.

My rayon bemberg for underlining the bodice came from Vogue Fabrics, who I heartily recommend. I ordered a color card first, which was a massively good choice: do that. My one beef with the experience comes down to color depiction on the site (which is soooo bad in the flesh tone section of colors) and the way they stack swatches and staple them down on the card. Once you remove the staple, you’d better not shuffle your swatches around because remembering what color is what will be impossible, especially given their awful color depiction online. Not that I know anything about that…okay, I totally did that. Luckily, I could search for the color names that I *thought* I was considering and find other sites that displayed them better. Once that was done, I settled upon…*drum roll*…Beige. Corpse-y, but it matches my skin well and doesn’t detract from the lace at all.

Pattern!

The bodice of this pattern is truly wonderful: I only needed to do 1 muslin to confirm the fit (I checked the length beforehand and added what was needed). I could probably have taken it in from the bust to the waist but I didn’t want to risk Hulking out of the lace because it was too snug! The sleeve caps are a great fit for the armholes, with hardly any easing required (and this lace takes easing very, very well). They are rather fitted sleeves though, so if you plan to make this pattern, be sure to check that! And one other thing to be aware of is that this bodice’s surplice neckline is rather…booby. Really rather booby. Like, checking-my-tits-every-time-I-move booby. If I was a busty gal, this would probably have required some adjusting on the pattern itself; as it stands, I’ve got more ribs than tits so I left it as-is and opted not to put a snap there or sew it closed. The pattern calls for small shoulder pads, which I omitted; my shoulders, in my opinion, support the garment well enough on their own.

You may have noticed that there is a skirt on this outfit rather than trousers. There were issues with the pants–despite 4 muslins and getting close to a good fit and being fairly sure about what final changes needed to be made, the fashion fabric behaved so much differently than muslin that it rendered the pants unwearable and unsalvageable. :’-( And since this fabric was pricey, I only bought a smidgen more than what I needed per the pattern envelope. To say that I was crushed would be an understatement: I so badly wanted the jumpsuit from the artwork! And the shape of the trousers was so flattering and beautiful, even in muslin. I was so distraught that I took a vintage cocktail dress to a local tailor to have it hemmed, just in case I needed to wear it to my event. (Hey: that skirt was 3 layers of silk chiffon PLUS a lining, and needed to go from Midi to Mini–I wasn’t about to do that shit myself, deadline or not.) Fortunately, I was able to get a pencil skirt out of my remaining yardage and make it work–truly a Christmas miracle! 😀

Said skirt was made from my skirt sloper/moulage than I made in a class with Nina last year. I knew the darts would probably never match with the bodice, so I cut the skirt out with 3″ side seam allowances; from there, I sewed the skirt darts and then pinned the pieces to the bodice to mark where my side seams needed to be sewn to match the bodice AND fit me. Quick and dirty, yes, but it worked! I hemmed the skirt to 18.5″ from waist to hem because I think that is a flattering length on me; I kept about 2″ of hem allowance, which I felt was appropriate for this fabric and the shape of the skirt. The length allowed me to not worry about a vent, either–yay! The hem was sewn invisibly by hand.

Hilariously, *before* I cut out the skirt, I had a hell of a time with the pattern piece for the sash! It is supposed to be cut on the fold, but I had not one lay plan at my disposal that would accommodate that on what was left of my material! So to recap, I had plenty of fabric to cut out an entire emergency skirt, but not to put the sash on the fold. O_O I made it with a center back seam and honestly, I doubt anyone would think less of the dress because of that! The sash itself is not very flattering on me from the back due to my narrow back waist and the straightness of the sash, but I love the effect in the front! It adds that extra element to make the dress look “Finished.” I always prefer a buffer of some sort in dresses with contrasting tops and bottoms with a waist seam, whether it’s a belt or a waistband inset or something like that, so I am glad I went ahead with the sash!

Construction Notes

This pattern is fairly easy to put together–there aren’t very many pieces! But the lace obviously added some work because of how it needed to be underlined. I hand-basted both fronts and backs to their respective underlinings, which was great for getting the bodice put together. But it occurred to me the day before the party that I couldn’t take the basting stitches out of the surplices without replacing them somehow–the layers would separate and flap around! My solution was to prick-stitch along each surplice in my purple thread, taking care to come up through a section of lace so as to hide the stitching on the right side. It is utterly imperceptible from the outside as a result!

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Wrong side of prick stitches on surplice neckline

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Right side of the same section–can you find the stitches? xD

I didn’t have any real trouble sewing the lace; the cording got bulky quickly, as did any areas of heavier embroidery that got taken up in darts, but my machine handled it just fine. I used my straight stitch plate most of the time to prevent the feed from eating the lace, though! I used a Microtex 70/10 for the bodice by itself, and an 80/20 Universal for the wool/silk gabardine, as well as for joining the bodice and skirt together and inserting the zipper. The zipper, by the way, is longer than the pattern called for: 24″ vs. 22″. I made this decision when I was still planning on a trouser jumpsuit: due to the difference in my waist and hips, I needed more room to unzip and wiggle into the thing! This held true even with the skirt, so #noregrets. I had to call Wawak to order the zipper, because the colors on their website weren’t showing up very accurately and I had Very Serious Questions. Tanya (I think? It’s fuzzy now…) was able to understand what color I needed and give me accurate information about the choices they had; it turned out that the best match wasn’t even listed on their website in that length, but she hooked me up and I couldn’t be happier with the match.

Conclusion

This is a fantastic pattern, and I highly recommend it if jumpsuits are your thing. Just pick a drapey fabric for the trousers–or at least something with more drape than wool/silk gabardine!–and you’ll be okay! I would love to revisit this pattern another time and get my fantasy jumpsuit, but my next project will absolutely be something less stressful!

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Remembered to get one pic on Saturday…3 drinks deep and on the way home, LOL.

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This *felt* treacherous in those shoes…

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“Talk to the fabulous lace-clad hand…”

Have you made a holiday outfit this year? If you’ve ever sewn with lace, how did it go?