Proper Summer Sewing (aka Revenge of The Hammock)

Hi again!

As promised, I have two recent projects to share today: a Style Arc Blaire shirt and a dress made from McCall’s 6886! I’ve made both patterns before so there isn’t much new to say, but I’ll share them anyway. Plus we got some pretty ridiculous photos of the McCall’s dress, so stay tuned for those!

First up is my new Blaire:

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Yep, it’s a shirt

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Closer view of the front

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Side, with flaps!

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Back

I really must have a chat with my photographer about his favorite editing preset, as it does nothing for my scary-visible circulatory system! 😀 😀

As I said, there isn’t much new to say about this shirt that I didn’t say the first time around. I followed the same order of construction and everything! This fabric is cool though: it’s a cupro/linen/tencel blend from Blackbird. (I’d link directly to it, but her stock is always changing and I know eventually this will sell out forever and break my link! As of this post going live, she still has this fabric in multiple colors.) Originally I wanted a white Blaire but settled for ecru because there was no white, but this fabric seemed neat. It’s not really visible in photos, but the fabric has a sheen to one side; I used that one as my right side, because of course I did. 😉 It feels much heavier than I expected, but is still light and has a very fluid drape. No regrets whatsoever! This stuff feels great against the skin. I have just enough left over to use as a bodice lining for an upcoming dress, so yay! The buttons are shell ones from Wawak; it was tough choosing between the 2 different off-white shell buttons I have and my coconut ones. O_o (I’m only kind of kidding…I spent way too many minutes agonizing about it. #getalife)

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“Mom, this is boring. I’m bored.”

Couldn’t leave you all without a cutie cameo, could I? 😉

Now for something much cooler than a flappy off-white shirt: this dress!

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Stripes!

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Side slits!

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Tight fit!

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Ridiculous pose!

All those captions are basically “‘Mads’ Bingo!” aren’t they? 😉

This dress came to life because of the ponte knit fabric. Several months back, I was the lucky winner of an Instagram giveaway by Gorgeous Fabrics–I KNOW!!!!!!! I was very excited because the prize was 3 yards of an amazing bright red lace. However, I felt kind of guilty just taking free fabric, you know? Especially a nice fabric like double-scalloped lace! (And no, it wasn’t for a partnership or sponsored post–Ann was doing a few giveaways to clear stock and I happened to win one of them.) So I headed over to the site and poked around, as one does. >=D Ann has great taste and I’ve bought amazing things from her since I first learned to sew, so I knew I’d find something. My eye was immediately drawn to this fabric, as it’s the perfect stripe width AND bright shade of cobalt blue. I had to have it! (I also got an animal print ITY with a cool border fade effect. That will be fun to use!) Immediately I thought of a dress like this one: midi length, short sleeves, snug fit, side splits, worn with white sneakers. I couldn’t really be much happier with the result! (And I definitely bought these sneakers just because of this dress. And yes, they’re Sperrys–don’t @ me.)

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Pure class.

I’ve made M6886 a few other times, and it’s a great dress pattern. However, I learned early on that I really benefit from putting a CB seam in it: it’s a must to get the snug fit through the waist that I prefer. I didn’t 100% nail the stripe matching up the CB because I didn’t baste the seam first, but it’s sooo close. O_o I did baste the side seams and the actual neckband–I wanted the stripes to be perfect and that’s a tricky prospect on a neckband.

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Neckband action

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Sweet-ass side splits

I need to adjust the shoulder slope on this pattern–it’s really obvious to me now, lol.

This dress is also the first project that I’ve sewn on ALL THREE of my machines!!! (Oh yeah, by the way: I got a coverstitch last summer from a friend who had upgraded to a Babylock combo, and am now the proud owner of the legendary Janome Coverpro 1000CPX.) The CB seam was done on my sewing machine with a narrow zigzag, and the split openings were topstitched on it as well; I serged every other seam and the raw hem edges; finally, I sewed the bottom and sleeve hems and around the neckband with my coverstitch. Boom!!

Okay, with the technical stuff out of the way, I have some hilarious (to me, anyway…) photos of this dress for you. The day we took photos, Tom had used his hammock to lounge out in the yard. I thought it would be cute with the nautical look of my dress if I got some hammock shots, but it turns out I am rubbish at hammocks! See for yourself:

 

 

So far, so good, right? Nope. Behold the immediate aftermath of the above photos:

 

 

This thing kept spitting me out like I was a piece of gristle in a steak, y’all.

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For real, I look like I’m trying to elaborately hide behind the hammock.

Finally, after resorting to using my chin for leverage…

 

 

…I managed to stay on the hammock. Sort of. Less “lounging” than “clinging desperately and in a state of exhausted exasperation”…

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I mean, come on.

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A perfectly accurate face for my emotions.

In between Tom’s cackles at my ineptitude, he captured these photos (and more, if I’m being honest). You’re welcome.

Summer is what’s on my mind where sewing is concerned: I have plans for at least one sundress, and maybe some linen pants. (I know, soooo original…) I also need to replace one of my Reeta dresses 😦 😦 so that’s on the agenda also. What are you sewing now?

 

 

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Ending A Rut by Breaking the Pattern

Hello, friends!

I’ve felt like I’ve done very little sewing so far in 2019, but counting my completed projects resulted in more FOs than I expected. All told I’ve made 8 things which, while more than I realized, is still pretty paltry given that we’re halfway through the year. But 3 of those projects were finished in the last few weeks, so my pace is finally picking up! I’m super happy with these recent garments, and those happy feelings have helped my blogging mojo tremendously! So what did I make? The Utu pinafore by Named, the Blair shirt from Style Arc, and a dress from McCall’s 6886. Seriously, they’re all total winners. To keep things from getting too long, this post will focus on my “Breaking The Pattern” projects and I’ll be coming at you with a joint post for the other 2 very shortly. 😀

The recently-finished Utu is actually my 3rd project from “Breaking the Pattern,” although it’s only my 2nd unique pattern from that book; the other 2 are both Ruska tops. I’m bummed that my Utu is now rather out of season, but it will get tons of wear come Fall/Winter. For the uninitiated, “Breaking the Pattern” is a book by Named Clothing (aka my ride-or-die fangurl sugar-stan pattern company) that came out last year in lieu of their usual twice-yearly collections. Naturally, the moment I saw they had a book coming out I pre-ordered it because ride-or-die fangurl sugar-stan. Almost everything in that book is something I want to make, even the ridiculous vented wide-leg elastic-waist pants–who am I?!?

But let’s go in order here, starting with my first project from the book: a Ruska knot tee!

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Knot tee, now with 100% more wrinkles! 

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I am not 100% happy with this top and it’s down to things I should have changed before I even started. Namely (lol) the neckline–it’s just awful for a t-shirt on me. If I had added sleeve roll-ups I could maybe get behind the quasi-James Dean, “Cry-Baby” drape gang vibe, but nah.

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The “Cry-Baby” drape gang is #squadgoals

The ties didn’t turn out great, but that’s because the design and instructions for them are fucking stupid and I didn’t read the latter until after I’d coverstitched the hems. (They have you do a double-turn hem around the tips of the ties, which then stupidly tapers to a single-roll somewhere along the way. Excuse me, but what?!?) The next time I make a knot version of this pattern, I will be cutting the tie ends down so they’re the right shape and seam allowance (for a single roll) all the way around!

I also had a problem with the stabilizer I used in the hems, which essentially removed the stretch from my fabric and coverstitching. (Apparently it washes out, but I wash my clothing very sparingly and haven’t washed this shirt yet.) Fortunately I hadn’t used it around the neckline, because I doubt I could get my globe-like head through the tiny head-hole if I had done that. O_o

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Single knot (I prefer 2…)

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No knot!

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No, I would never wear it like this. xD

I had high hopes for this top because of the fabric: a moire rayon/lycra jersey. But between pre-washing/drying basically eliminating the moire finish and the issues mentioned above, I didn’t quite get the “Wow!” I was hoping for. Ah well, at least my front seam looks fucking GORGEOUS.

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You’re welcome.

Next is yet another Ruska, this time with no knot and full sleeves. WARNING: The following is not appropriate for all ages!

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Behold!

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DO YOU SEE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

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What I hope people will now think of when they stare at my t*ts…

Surprise tiger boobies!!!!!! Bet you weren’t expecting that, huh? 😉 Also, 1,000 bonus points to anyone who “got” the reference in the close-up caption. xD

My initial vision (god that sounds so pretentious…) was for a sheer navy turtleneck under my future Utu pinafore. I already had my suiting fabric and knew that was how I wanted to wear the jumper. It was hard finding a sheer navy stretch knit, though! Fabric Mart came through with some Halston fabric eventually, and for a good price. I bought too much, as is my usual M.O., and thank goodness: this is Mk II of this top.

I apparently over-stretched my neckband on my first version and I COULD NOT FIT MY HEAD THROUGH IT. Talk about embarrassing! I cut the band off and decided to widen the neck opening a bit, but had a little accident with my shears and yeah…the whole top had to be scrapped. 😦 Luckily I had enough fabric to recut the whole thing, and this time I took 1/4″ off each neckline seam and that was it. I didn’t use the shaped piece provided because I hate relying on neckband pattern pieces, but as a result my collar does flop and sit away from my neck a bit. (That’s also because it isn’t as tightly stretched as I normally do them, because of the first “oops”…) I could always take a dart out of the back of it I guess, but meh.

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Not even a handful…

While rather unimpressive on its own (let’s be real, even the t*ts are underwhelming ones! 😉 ), it really does make the outfit:

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Pensive office person

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I adore these shoes!

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Back view

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Don’t mind the mismatch at CF, I forgot to button my secret button for like, half the photos…

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Super stern business lady

I LOVE THIS DRESS SO MUCH!!!!!! The shell fabric is a stretch suiting from JOANN Fabrics, of all places. The plaid is just interesting enough without clashing with the double-breasted front or the snug fit. This Utu is one of my favorite sewing projects to-date, I think! (And that’s from someone who usually hates pinafores.) I might make another, maybe in a solid wool crepe! ❤

For only having 3 pieces (okay, 6 if you count the lining) this pinafore took me FOREVER. Literal months. I made a really stupid mistake on the pattern that further hindered my mojo. Like, colossally stupid. I held the front pattern piece up to myself and was pleasantly surprised not to need any bodice length. I always need bodice length, even on Named. Well, genius here didn’t think about the bust dart, which removed about 1″ of vertical length once sewn. So lo and behold I cut my lining (you know, to be clever and get my lining done first) and sewed the darts, held it back up and realized that the darts were too high and the waist was DEFINITELY too high. Ugh!!

At that point I didn’t want to recut the lining–I really wanted this color for some reason and didn’t have enough to recut–so I slashed the pieces and added strips. My first front got slashed above the bust only, which I quickly realized was not the best idea; the other front and the back were cut in 2 places, one above and one below the bust.

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Hacked up front lining.

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Back hack job

After fixing the lining, I changed my pattern pieces by adding 1/2″ above the bust dart and 1/2″ below it. Then I cut my shell fabric. At this point I made a cutting error on one front piece plaid matching-wise, and had stretched the other front out somehow along the neckline. (Seriously, any and all possible mistakes were made on this 3-piece project. O_o ) I did fine on the back piece, so I recut my fronts and then set the whole mess aside for like a month and pouted. (During that hiatus I finished my Wool & Honey!) I came back to it after a seriously excellent sewing afternoon with Betsy, which reinvigorated me in a major way. From there it was all downhill until I got to the buttons!

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Buffalo horn buttons FTW

I asked my husband and sewing friends (IRL and Instagram ones alike) to help me choose buttons. 😀 My initial vision (ooh la la…) had been for horn buttons to emphasize the suiting fabric angle, but then I found these navy enamel/silver-toned metal buttons and couldn’t decide. Most people voted for the buffalo horn buttons–the appeal of which was because they came in the right size but also because THEY’RE BUFFALO!!–and in the end, I went that way. No regrets, they’re perfect. I did keyhole buttonholes, a first. Again, I wanted the hit the #suitingvibes angle. A couple of the buttonholes mysteriously got fucky and don’t have nice round keyhole openings, but nobody will be able to see that.

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Buffalo horn button up close!

Shiny, runner-up buttons! (Image property of Bennos Buttons)

(For the record, I’m not affiliated with either supplier linked above–just a happy customer.)

In terms of fitting, I did make a few small adjustments besides adding my 1″ of length. I removed most of the shaping in the high hip, and pulled the bodice in from the underbust through the high hip. The waist isn’t zero ease but fits a lot closer than the original shape. I didn’t take in my lining anywhere–it isn’t a stretch fabric and I knew I’d want that extra ease for comfort. If I’m being picky, I do wish the dress was a bit shorter but I’ll be damned if I’m ripping out my hems. 😉

I’m pretty pleased with my pattern matching work on this: I was careful, especially when it came time for buttons and buttonholes. I did get a few buttons a bit further to the left than I needed to (I’m talking like, maybe 1/8″) but I can live with it. I did add that secret security button also, which took my plaid matching from “good” to “very good” by holding the CF line securely in position. I don’t know if I put it where it’s supposed to go, but I put it where I needed it and that’s good enough for me! I am very annoyed that I forgot to close it before we took a lot of the best photos of this pinafore, so you’ll have to take my word for it I guess! I decided early on not to worry much about keeping the plaid contiguous across the side seams; I focused on the CF and below-the-bust-dart horizontal plaid lines instead, which to me were infinitely more important. (And yet I got not 1 good photo of the side seams to show the horizontal matching! 😦 )

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Hiding. #nailedit

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Cheeky pose

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A thorn among roses. 😉

Once I finished this dress, I figured I wouldn’t be able to wear it until Fall. But then I remembered that I actually had an occasion coming up that was perfect: a mid-May wedding! And a wedding at which I was performing, no less. My former band reunited specifically to play during the couple’s reception; it was a magical evening, both for us getting to be together (we ROCKED) and for the happy couple, who were radiant. ❤ It was an honor to play for two lovely people and their family/friends on such a special day!

Unfortunately for me, the event space was over 80 degrees all night; it was then I learned that my turtleneck, despite being sheer and scandalous, DOES NOT BREATHE. It felt like a sexy wetsuit. I was so hot I had sweat dripping down the backs of my legs. These AA-cup bra-less boobies had instant boob sweat. That’s how you know it’s f*cking hot! 😉 So after its first outing, this entire outfit needed a thorough rinse and steam but at least I looked and felt good in it. 😀

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Pre-gig selfie!

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Photobombing the dancing wedding party, cuz I’m classy…

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Post-gig old elevator Polaroid!

There you have it: my first projects from “Breaking the Pattern!” They won’t be my last, that’s for sure. I’m already planning a very special Ruska dress, as well as multiple Saraste dresses and shirts!

The next time you hear from this ol’ blog, I’ll be sharing my other 2 recent projects: a Blair shirt and a McCall’s 6886 dress. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! ❤

 

An Unseasonable Sweater

Hi!

First, I want to thank everyone who left supportive and understanding comments on my last post. It was hard to write that intro–I’ve been very private about my mental health on the blog (and everywhere else!) and generally dislike being vulnerable–but in a way I’m glad it’s finally out there. Fortunately things have continued to improve on that front in the weeks since I posted last!

Today I’m sharing a recent FO with you, which is definitely an indication of ongoing improvement in the Fort Kickass Psych Ward*. Fair word of warning to those of you here for sewing content: this is a post about a knitting project! If that sounds horribly boring, I won’t mind if you close this post–really! 😀 I will have sewing things to share very soon; they just need to be photographed!

*Fort Kickass is our affectionate nickname for our house, and I can joke about my mental health if I want to.

Believe it or not, I managed to knit a second sweater! (Thereby proving that my first one was not a fluke. 😉 ) While I found this one more enjoyable in some respects–no seaming, top-down construction–I now understand why people gripe about fingering weight sweaters taking forever. O_o I made it harder for myself with the all-over garter stitch too. But honestly, I’m not at all put off of lightweight sweaters after this. (But you best believe my next one or two will be in something thicker!!)

Without further ado, here is my take on Wool & Honey:

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Casual post-hair flip stance

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Honeycombs!

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Artful application of pet hair and thread bits. xD

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I immediately bought the Wool & Honey sweater pattern when it came out last June, and bought the yarn for it shortly thereafter. Even so, I didn’t get around to starting it until I’d finished my Harlowe. (I cannot endure the thought of having multiple sweaters going at once. Socks sure, but sweaters?? Nope.) I promptly lost steam upon realizing that my gauge was, once again, working up smaller width-wise than the pattern. I had started the smallest size and the neck was coming out so small that I didn’t see how my globe-like head was going to fit through it. I grudgingly ripped out my work and it took me a few months to start over in the next size up; now that I have finished this project, I see I could have probably gotten away with my original size but I didn’t want to risk it. I also could have fiddled with needle sizes instead of going up a sweater size, but that didn’t occur to me until I’d already made progress on the new one. Whatever, everything worked out!

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Part 1 of the yoke, complete!

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Body complete!

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Hot blocking action. 😉

(BTW, here’s my project page on Ravelry.)

Candidly, I do not like how closely my yarn matches my hair. 😦 I love my yarn and sweater and I LOVE my hair, but I avoid burgundy and oxblood clothing precisely because those shades tend to make my hair look dull by comparison. But when I first saw this colorway, I had to have it, and it had to be this sweater. Don’t expect this to become a habit though, folks!

This was my first pattern from indie darling designer Andrea Mowry, and it was a really great project. The honeycomb pattern was much simpler than I had imagined, and the directions were good enough for a beginner to follow and understand. I like the proportions of this design, especially in the sleeves with the tall ribbed cuffs. I have a couple of her other sweater patterns too, so I’m glad my first was a success! I definitely recommend this sweater pattern if you’re looking for this type of style, just mind that neckhole!

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Flappy sweater

I added a bit of length before the ribbing, something like 1-2″. (Ugh that’s what I get for not recording my measurements!) It’s a cropped sweater, but my torso is long and I didn’t want to get stuck wearing a stupid cami underneath my beautiful new sweater after all that work. It’s just long enough to wear with my mid-rise jeans that don’t come up to my waist, so I’m happy. I didn’t change the sleeve length though, as my limbs are proportionally short for my height.

You may notice a subtle difference between my sweater and the pattern sample: my honeycomb flow to the front left rather than the front right. That’s because I am left-handed, and knit from left to right. I didn’t care about having my hexies on the “correct” orientation, so I just followed the directions as-written and embraced the mirror image aspect. Apart from cables or colorwork (which I haven’t tried yet), I don’t have trouble knitting as a leftie, and even then it’s just a matter of either switching the cable orientation or reading a chart from left to right. But it’s something I do have to think about sometimes!

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Close-up honeycomb action!

There you have it: another successful sweater project! I finished this back in April and thanks to Ohio’s notoriously changeable spring weather, I’ve gotten to wear it twice. I have to go out of town in July, and will definitely be packing one of my knitted sweaters to wear on my flight–which one will all depend on my outfit of choice on departure day. 😉

How about some outtakes, .gifs, and Mulder cameos for reading this far? You’ve earned them!

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“Bright idea: knit a fingering weight garter stitch sweater!”

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I have a good feeling about this jump…

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…nevermind.

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Apathetic windmill

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Come on, you know this is funny.

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“Mom, this is boring. I’m bored.”

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“Get that f@cking camera out of my face!!!!!!!!” (Just kidding, although he was being a dork that day.)

That’ll do it for me today, but watch this space for sewing projects SOON! ❤

 

 

 

Adventures in Pattern Testing feat. Work Horse Patterns Ione

Hello out there! It has been a while, hasn’t it? I’ll be very honest and say that it’s been a rough few months mentally; I had a good run with managing my depression, but it’s really been a struggle recently. I’m okay(ish), just utterly out of energy and motivation for…everything. I’ve barely done any sewing since December! But I’m hoping I’ll come out the other side soon and be back to sewing and posting regularly.

In the meantime, here’s a post I had written wayyyyyy back about a pattern I tested.

(WARNING: post contains a .gif)

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Today I have a tester version of a pattern to share with you all, and from a new pattern company at that!

After my first testing experience was so positive, I applied for a few more calls in the months that followed. I was delighted when Becky added me to her tester pool for her first pattern, the Ione Shirt. Full disclosure: I cannot for the life of me remember if Becky posted a brief description of the pattern in the call for testers. All I know is I was up for it and sent in my stats, and was accepted!

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Ione!

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Better view of the high-low hem

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Back

So what did I think of the pattern? Well…

  1. It invites pattern play. I am a sucker for designs that make it intuitive to play with directional designs like stripes and plaids, so the cuffs and yoke had me like ❤ ❤ .
  2. However, it does require a patterned or other interesting fabric for best results IMO. I will be honest: I was afraid to make this in a plain fabric because I was worried it would look like I was wearing a sexy scrub top. O_o
  3. The shape of the hem is very well executed. High-low hems aren’t anything we haven’t seen (and honestly, unless they’re vented, they aren’t normally something I go for), but I really like the shape of this one with the cropped length. The curve of the front is very pretty and I love how it looks with my high-waisted trousers! It looks well-designed and intentional.
  4. Clean neckline finish. THERE IS NO BIAS TAPE FINISH ON THE NECKLINE THANK YOU JAYSUS. This is a pet-hate of mine, because unless finished invisibly (aka by hand), I think it tends to look cheap and/or homemade-in-a-bad-way. (And I say that as someone who once-upon-a-time used that finish. Time makes fools of us all!) Plus you also tend to see that telltale upward bend at the bias tape from there being layers of fabric folded together and possibly distorted or stretched during application.
  5. Clean, professional treatment of the yokes. Relatedly, the finishing of the yokes and neck opening is awesomely clean and professional-looking.
  6. I am unsure of the proportions of the yoke on my body. I am not 100% keen on where the yoke stops on me, personally; it ends just about at the top edge of my bra cups and I vacillate between being fine with it and finding it unbecoming.
  7. The size range!! The Ione pattern comes in sizes 0-32, which the size chart equates to a bust ranging from 32″ to 57.5″.
  8. Approachable project that’s highly wearable. It is a very approachable sew, especially for people who are beyond the Beginner level. Once you get past the neck opening, it’s so quick. And the resulting top has been a great fit for my wardrobe from Spring to Fall, so it proved to be a good use of a small amount of precious sewing time.
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My favorite way to wear this top so far!

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Ah yes, another #jumpfail

Honestly, the only bad part about this project was my fabric, which was not only guilty of perpetual show-through of the black stripes but was also rather uncooperative with my machine! The stitches were really tight and were causing puckers in the fabric. Since I made this amidst the chaos of house stuff last year, I didn’t have all of my supplies back in my sewing area yet–sewing machine needles included. So rather than attempt a needle change to solve the tension issues, I lowered the needle tension on my machine from “Auto” to 2. This is quite low, but it did the trick. I would like to see what happens with “Auto” tension and a smaller needle though!

Related to this, I should note that I used a different fabric for my yoke linings–a cotton batiste. I used the same material to make bias tape for hemming also. As it was, I had to trim all the black yarn out of my seam allowances wherever I could–it showed through horribly and ruined the look of the top. Using it for the inner yokes would have been a disaster! And while my hatred of bias tape is now a known thing, the hem finish ended up being a two-fold problem for me. For one thing, despite knowing my body is long up top even on Named patterns, I didn’t add any length to this top at the given lines. (WHP are based on a 5’8″ draft height, FYI.) This was dumb and I knew it was dumb, but did it anyway. #lazy So when it came time to hem, I needed to take less than the given 1 1/2″. On top of that, I could not abide the shadow of the black stripes all around the hem. My solution was to make bias strips out of the plain white batiste and take about 1/2″ for the hem in total.

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Patchwork innards

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Bias hem

For those of you who have been around here for a while, you may recognize this fabric from this 2013 project. (I KNOW, WHAT?!? IT WAS LIKE MY SECOND FINISHED PROJECT EVERRRRRR.) Total throwback. 😉 And yes, this means that Past Mads held on to nearly 2 yards of this material for 5 years “just in case” and actually did end up using it. I have enough left for an Ogden cami after this top, so that’s probably going to happen. (The first blouse I made with this fabric has since been donated because I didn’t wear it anymore.)

I did make a couple of regrettable-in-hindsight mistakes with this top, namely centering the outer yoke CF and CB folds on a stripe instead of the actual center of the fabric’s repeat. O_o But the yoke stripes match across the shoulder seams, so it’s not a total loss. I also wish I had considered the placement of the stripes on the cuff pieces better; they’re identical to each other, but don’t match with the horizontal stripes of the lower bodice pieces AT ALL because I didn’t think to check that. Derp.

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Poor choice of pattern placement by yours truly…

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At least my shoulder matching is on point!

If you are intrigued by this pattern, you should know that Becky made a few adjustments after receiving tester feedback: she has added 2 additional neckline shapes as well as a few other tweaks. She’s also hard at work on some hacks for the Ione, so keep an eye out for those too!

And I couldn’t leave you all .gif-less now could I?

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Bouncing Ione

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So that’s my Ione! I hope I’ll be back again soon to share new projects, plans, etc. because I miss blogging so much! But you know, it’s hard to blog about sewing when you haven’t really been sewing, eh? 😉

 

2018 Top 5 – Hits, Misses, and Highlights

It is that magical time again: Top 5 season! I had hoped to have this post (and the next one) done before the end of the year, but you can see how well that worked out! #sorrynotsorry But better late than never!

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If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll know I look forward to this every year, as it’s a great opportunity to look back on my past year of sewing and see how my naive set-last-year goals materialized (or didn’t) and evaluate how valuable all my projects really were. And I love a good navel-gazing postmortem on my year, if I’m honest. 😉 As per usual, I will do 2 posts instead of 5 for this, since I find they group together well this way. But first, SEWING STATS!

In 2017, I managed to sew a whopping (for me) 31 things. One of my goals for 2018 was to meet or surpass that; if I count every single garment I made, I did it! 2018’s grand total was 39–a 25% increase over last year. (It would be 40 if I counted my hand-knitted sweater, but I’m keeping this count sewing-only.)

2018 Sewing Projects

(Sorry the chart is tiny–it won’t get any bigger for some reason!)

Categories are:

Tops – Medium Blue (7)
Skirts – Orange (1)
Pants – Gray (6)
Dresses – Yellow (7)
Layers – Light Blue (5)
Costume – Green (2)
Friends & Family (F&F) – Dark Blue (11)

That’s a pretty good mix of things! Obviously the F&F category was by far my biggest single category last year, and I was a little surprised when I tallied that up. None of those 11 items have been blogged, though. 4 of those items were adaptive shirts for a friend I love as she dealt with treatment for and recovery from a serious illness, 1 was a Driftless cardigan for that same badass friend, and the other 6 are for my main squeeze-slash-personal paparazzi, Tom. His were all those baseball t-shirts that I’ve made him before–he knows what he likes! I don’t have photos of the specialized tops or gifted Driftless of course, so you’ll just have to take my word on those! Neither do I have photos of Tom’s finished t-shirts all together, but here are the photos I do have of them:

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#1 of 6, before thread trimming and a final pressing…

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These eventually became full-fledged t-shirts

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The very shitty but very helpful diagram I made to help me remember what pieces to cut from which colors…

I’m proud to report that, apart from periods of extreme temperatures, these t-shirts get worn all the time! (And are still complimented frequently by his friends and co-workers, which blows my mind.)

The category with the most growth over 2017 was Dresses, and Tops had the biggest decrease in count YOY. I did fail to blog a few tops, and one of those I still can’t show you because it was a pattern test and it is unreleased as of this writing. I CAN NOW POST THAT BLOG BECAUSE TODAY IS ACTUALLY RELEASE DAY!!! So look out for that!

You’ll note 2 more new categories for last year: Costume and Layers. Costume is exactly what it sounds like, and Layers are things like cardigans. You saw one costume piece in this recent post, and the other was something I made to sell so I have no photos of that one for you. Once again, I failed to blog 4 of my 5 Layers pieces, but here they are along with the aforementioned unblogged tops:

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4 Driftless Cardigans

Overall I was pleasantly surprised to see a mostly even distribution of my output in 2018 (sorry, skirts! I swear I love you). Now that we’ve done the stats, here are my Top 5 Hits:

Top 5 Hits

  1. Lander Pants
  2. Ariana Dresses
  3. Otari Hoodie
  4. Tamara Top
  5. Heather Dress

The Landers were far and away my biggest wardrobe Hit last year–I wore them so much!! I am planning a few more pairs for 2019 also. My Ariana dresses and Otari hoodie were straight-up staples also, and the Otari has the added bonus of being my first-ever pattern test. The Tamara is perfect for wearing with jeans on in-between days during Spring and Fall (and I feel very cute in it), and the Heather dress is perfect winter garb on days where I want to look a little nicer but still be comfortable. I already made that pattern again (something about January makes me realize I need Heathers, apparently) and I’m probably not done with this pattern yet! ❤

Now, unlike 2017, I don’t have any outright FAILS for last year–yay! But I will choose my least-successful projects and rank them, because why not?

Top 5 4 Misses

  1. Jailbird Hudson Pants (unblogged)
  2. Gray Driftless Cardigan (unblogged)
  3. Adaptive T-Shirt Mk. II (unblogged)
  4. Obnoxious Yellow & Navy Hemlock
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The aforementioned Hudson pants and Hemlock tee serving their purpose

First of all, let me just say that all of the above items were worn multiple times. The first two are failures of fabrication: the Hudson pants were made from a fabric with no vertical stretch, so they’re not the most comfortable things to wear; the gray fabric of the cardigan has NO recovery and I swear to The Almighty Bobs that it is not long for this world.

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OBEY THE BOBS!!!

As for the adaptive t-shirt, there was one version that just did NOT want to get snaps installed in it–literal holes were torn in this knit top in the struggle with the snaps, and even then there were still pokey edges in a few places. I felt like a very lousy friend handing that one over (“Hey, sorry about your health crisis but maybe stabbing yourself with snap prongs will help you forget about it, urwelcomekthanxbai!”), but having only made 4 total tops I figured it was better to hand it over than not. 😦 Bless my friend, she wore it anyway and still speaks to me. #itsamiracle And the Hemlock, while perfectly wearable, is just not something I like wearing in public between the shape and the color; it has been demoted to sleepwear, which is a pretty good outcome actually.

With the business out of the way, let’s move on to Highlights!

Top 5 Highlights

  1. Personal Knitting Triumphs – In 2018, I tackled cables and made my first sweater! I also met my personal goal of completing at least 13 knitting projects last year, which is very exciting. I actually surpassed that goal also, getting to 15 finished projects. Spoiler: they were mostly socks. 😉
  2. MOAR REMODELING!!!!! – This is barely less exciting for me than my knitting, people: we got so much work done! I am hoping to do a separate post to show you everything eventually but for now, here is a list of what we did: refinished the upstairs floors, replaced the front and rear entry doors, totally revamped the landscaping out front, replaced the porch roof, and replaced the kitchen ceiling. And as a small-but-mighty bonus, we also had our guest room painted (a mere 7 years after moving in…yikes). Whew! The floors are the most staggering achievement, simply because they offer the biggest transformation IMO. (The landscaping is a very close 2nd there.) Plus it’s a great feeling as a lover of old houses to be able to restore something to its former glory after decades of wear and abuse. I can’t wait to show you everything!!
  3. Abbey 1, Student Loans 0 – I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS LAST YEARRRRRRR. For real, I don’t like parties but this made me almost want to throw one. I was able to pay them off early (by like, 8 and 11 months respectively, but still) and it still feels weird not to have to pay them every month. Full disclosure: I was one of the lucky ones. I had very little student debt to begin with compared to my peers (being a nerd can literally pay), and was some-crazy-how able to land a good job right out of college at the start of The Great Recession and remain gainfully employed full-time in the years since. Having said that, I reserve the right to party my metaphorical n*ts off over this achievement!
  4. Tales From The Crypt Redux – I mentioned this in a previous post, but I was honored to take part in this event again, and not as an emergency understudy. 😉 This time, my “character” was a talented 23-year-old  young lady who took part in Ziegfeld productions on Broadway during the Roaring 20s. It was a privilege to tell our guests about her (albeit a hard thing to do, since this is a mausoleum). I hope I did her some justice, if not in looks (she won many beauty contests…this is not my reality LOL!) then in showing her bubbly personality and love of her work and life. Eerily, this young lady very nearly got cast as Ramon Novarro’s leading lady in a movie (she was too tall for him!), and our production was mere days before the 50th anniversary of his death. Spooky!
  5. Family – I know, I hit this one every year! But last year was a big one: Tom and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. ❤ We also still have all three fluffy kids, which with Tycho’s age and medical history is never a guarantee. (He’s crankier than ever 😉 , and 2018 was also his 10th “Adoptiversary” and that was a wonderful milestone.) 2018 brought many challenges for us, from Tom’s job uncertainty to some private family issues that I won’t get into here; I’m glad that we’ve been there for each other and can laugh together, like and love each other, play MarioKart, and talk shit about people who deserve it together! 😉
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Big ugly sweater!!

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My first-ever cabled project on its very satisfied owner!

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That’s right: I made cowls for my sister’s bassets. I’m that knitter, apparently.

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This isn’t even all the socks I knit last year–2 pairs aren’t photographed!! xD

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Remodeling sneaky-peek; this is definitely a “Before” photo!

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Fffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccckkkkkk YESSSSSSSSS

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Fancy lady

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Familyyyyyy

Well, that does it for my first Top 5 post for 2018! I’ll be back soon with my Reflections and Goals post, just as soon as I finish writing it. 😉

 

 

A Fancy-Schmancy Blue Velvet Dress

I’m back! Already! Miss me? 😉

I love this time of year for “fancy dress season” reasons. As you may have guessed, I kept my tradition going and made yet another fancy thing for my office holiday party. Yay!

This year I went a somewhat stereotypical “holiday dress” route: velvet. Much like florals for spring, it’s hardly groundbreaking. 😉 I also decided early on to jump into Linda’s Designin’ December challenge once again, as I found an amazing inspiration dress a few years ago and couldn’t get it out of my head.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Image property of Linda @ Nice Dress! Thanks, I made it!!

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Here’s my inspiration dress, which was part of Elie Saab’s Fall 2014 RTW collection:

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Photo property of Vogue and/or their credited photographer(s)

Like I said, I first saw this a couple of years ago and it’s been in my head ever since! I knew I didn’t want to copy the exact style of the original dress, but 100% loved the draping, the color of the velvet, and the ombre effect. I found my dark teal poly/lycra stretch velvet at Fashion Fabrics Club and planned to dye the dress from the hem to the waist in a navy ombre; however, I couldn’t get the velvet to take the dye I bought (which was for synthetics). 😦 While I’m happy enough with the dress in one color, I definitely would have preferred it with the gradient effect that I envisioned!

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Full-length shot

The pattern I (mostly) used is Burda 05/2012 #133. (Julia Bobbin also made this pattern and she looked fierce!) I did make some changes, as follows:

  1. Adjusted the neckline: The pattern photos on Burda’s site are somewhat deceptive, as my mock-up per the pattern didn’t drop the back neckline as low as theirs. Then again, I kept my material on the straight grain rather than bias for the stretch factor. Anyway, I was determined to drop the back much lower. But after reworking the back bodice and starting from scratch using my moulage, it just wasn’t coming out how I envisioned. (To get the effect I was after, I’d most likely need to drape the dress onto a form.) In a last-ditch effort to get something with a little more “oomph” than the original design, I added an additional cowl extension to the Burda bodice that originated at the outermost edge of the shoulder; this dropped the shoulders to the off-the-shoulder position you see in these photos as well as added some additional “swag” draping to the back.
  2. Redesigned the shape of the bodice: The pattern bodice has a blouson effect, but I wanted things to be snug. (Not least of all because it would help the bodice stay up without the shoulders for support.) In the end I still could have taken a bit more out, but I had re-sewn it a few times (and had unpicked the waist once–that was not happening again!) and decided it was good enough. Plus I still had to be able to get into it with no zipper!!
  3. Redesigned the skirt: tiny pleats, in velvet, over my stomach? No thank you! Instead, I used the skirt pieces but eliminated the pleats and darts, and simply took the waist in until it was tight enough. I also lengthened the skirt to a midi (it’s now 34″ long, I think?) and added high splits to the sides. Originally I wasn’t sure about that last part, but when the back wasn’t dropping as low as I wanted they became necessary for some sex appeal.
  4. Omitted the zipper: Apart from being unnecessary with the stretch velvet, I wasn’t about the wrangle that sewing task on top of everything else! Just thinking about putting a zipper in this fabric gives me the willies…
  5. Omitted the ribbons: Even if I had kept the shoulders of the original design, I wasn’t about the have ribbons flapping around. Ick.
  6. Omitted the lining: Originally this was not my plan. But because I wanted the bodice tight and had zero-to-negative ease at the waist and no zipper, my lining fabric (silk jersey!!) wouldn’t have lent itself well to that choice. Self-lining was right out, because this fabric gets thick. So no lining.
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The best shot of the back I have–it wouldn’t cooperate so well on “official photo” day!

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The best available setting at the party…womp womp.

There’s clear elastic in the waist seam to help stabilize it. The bodice is still a bit long, due to the vertical stretch and weight/length of the skirt though. But doing that did help a lot! The hem and side splits are all hand-sewn, since visible stitching felt too casual for this dress.

The more eagle-eyed among you probably noticed an issue with the dress in the above full-length photos…I crushed the pile along the hem. 😦 I used a towel under the fabric when pressing, but it didn’t prevent tell-tale iron-shaped spots allllllllll along the hem. (Interestingly, I don’t appear to have done any damage with my first pass, in which the iron was laid parallel to the hem rather than perpendicular.) I was gutted when I noticed this, as you might imagine. I tried every available trick to un-crush the pile but nothing helped (just as the internet warned). The only good thing about this disaster is that it’s on the very bottom of the dress, which I doubt anyone paid as much attention to as the top! #smallmiracles O_o

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So that’s 2018’s holiday dress sorted! It wasn’t quite what I imagined but that happens, doesn’t it? I haven’t even started plotting for next year’s dress–who knows what I’ll end up with!

This ended up being my last project of 2018, so my next post will be a Top 5 post (Hits, Misses, and Highlights). See you there!

Special thanks to Linda for coordinating and hosting Designin’ December once again–it’s a pleasure to share alongside so many creative and inspiring pieces in that sewalong.

A Triumphant(ish) Return!

Hellooooooooooo! Is anyone still out there? 🙂

After a serious lack of sewing mojo (and opportunity), I finally started sewing for Fall/Winter in November. O_o I also managed to sneak in a very minor costume project back in October, which I will also show you today.

I have missed blogging so much! (And sewing, for that matter.) This was a weird year: in February we found out that Tom would be without a job come November, which was highly stressful to say the least. (This was not helped by the extra-long timeline and a severance worth waiting for at the end of it.) Seriously folks, my hair started thinning and graying during that time because of how stressed out I was about it. I didn’t mention it here because I had no way of knowing how it would work out, and it didn’t seem appropriate to air it and have it hanging over not just my IRL life, but my blog and sewing life as well.

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Bonus cat-in-an-inappropriate-place photo

Happily, I can report that Tom not only found a better job before his end date, but that he still managed to get his severance out of the old place. Yay!!!! But between that whole thing and undertaking several remodeling projects in the Fall–smoke ’em if you got ’em, amirite?–I spent most of the year stressed out, fluttering between self-distracting productivity and creative paralysis (the kind with TONS of ideas but not the will to execute them). 😦 The real death blow for my sewing came in July/August when we had an appraisal done on the house and I had to tear down my sewing space. This was immediately followed by having our upstairs floors refinished, so all my sewing stuff in the attic got buried by a floor’s worth of furniture and clutter that we still haven’t fully put back to rights. And at that point, Tom did not have the new job lined up yet. Say it with me: UGHHHHHH. (Double UGHHHHHH for clinical depression and anxiety on top of all of this, which made everything that much worse.) I still haven’t got my supplies sorted out, but I’ve been able to sew a few things and am slowly relaxing and getting inspired again after being totally wound up for months on end.

So that’s been my last few months. But now we can get back to THE SEWING!!!

First up: a Talvikki sweater!

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Oof, that face! O_o

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The important view of this pattern

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Artsy photo

This was a much-needed “win” project after months of limited sewing time and scarce inspiration. I love the fabric/pattern combo, and think it will be great dressed up or down through Winter!

The fabric is a scuba from Marcy Tilton, and I love it. I hardly ever shop there (it’s an issue of the selection not being totally up my alley and the prices, both for fabric AND shipping) but I’m glad I treated myself to this piece. Initially I thought I’d make a skirt but I have to acknowledge that knit skirts just aren’t my jam. I had *just* enough yardage to get this top cut out–and I mean just. It was worth the tetris.

And now for something unlike anything I usually trouble you with around here: a costume piece!

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Yes, I took outdoor photos of this thing *in December* for you all. You’re welcome.

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The back is the best bit, of course.

This is underwear. 1920s-30s underwear, to be exact. (And yes, those are vintage shoes ca. 1930s also–I love them.) The pattern is Depew Patterns #2029 and I very highly recommend it. I didn’t really follow the directions for sewing it but everything went together beautifully. Really, it’s a relatively easy project if you fancy some old-fashioned (and complicated-in-the-bathroom, since it doesn’t have a snap crotch) undergarments!

You might be wondering why I’d go to the trouble of making costume underwear, especially since I own extant undergarments from this exact time period (that DO have snap crotches). Well…I had an event!

I mentioned it in my Top 5 post for last year, but this event is called “Tales from the Crypt.” It’s held at Green Lawn Abbey and this year, I was honored to be asked to help with the event as an actor once again. (And not as an understudy, yay!) Since the researcher who did most of the work on my “character” and I had more time to talk about a staging setup, we had quite a developed idea going into the event. (Which was definitely mostly his idea!) He was going for a boudoir-like setting: a vanity table, mirror and brush set, and me in a dressing gown surrounded by playbills. (My “character” was a Ziegfeld Follies girl!) I was game, but didn’t want to wear my extant undergarments because they’re ivory and slightly sheer. My skin is also ivory and slightly sheer–not a good mix. 😉 And while awe-inspiring, the setting–a mausoleum ca. 1927 whose interior is white marble, at night, lit mainly by candlelight and gas lamps–didn’t really lend itself to my pasty skin in pasty lingerie standing out against the white background. So I decided to make something!

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Green Lawn Abbey; photo is property of Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association

The teddy fabric is polyester charmeuse but the color is good for the era, and making it myself allowed me to line the entire bodice for added opacity. (No bra was going to work with that back!) I was also planning to make a kimono-inspired robe from Depew Patterns #3039 (also from 1927–how freaky is that?!?) but I picked a brocade that ended up being way too heavy for the shape of the design. I got it most of the way made and tried it on, and thought it looked like an appropriative wizard’s robe. (The fabric had a general Asian motif, since that was very popular in the 1910s and 1920s.) O_o So I scrapped that and decided I would wear my own extant vintage robe, which is a striking lapis blue color dating to the 1940s. The style is very much kimono-inspired, and could pass for something earlier.

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As close the The Charleston as I’m going to get…

And then on the day, the weather was COLD. Like, mid-40s and raining. And this building isn’t heated. The event lasts for multiple hours, and consists of 4 separate monologues for each actor on opening night. So in an effort to protect my health* I opted for a true vintage dress in the end. But I did wear my teddy underneath it! I was very nervous, and wearing something I made always makes me feel more confident in any situation. 😀

*Yeah yeah, I know that the temperature doesn’t make people sick. However, exposure can lower your body’s ability to fend off invading pathogens; since my lungs are vulnerable to infections already, this was not a risk I was willing to take.

Here are some photos from the event, courtesy of my resident paparazzi husband Tom, who was “voluntold” to take photos of the 2nd show that weekend. 😉

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Fancy lady

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You can see Sylvia, my “character,” in the background photo

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Artful makeup application

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Playbills for actual productions Sylvia was in!

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Our intrepid cast this year!

So that’s a lot of words about non-sewing stuff, far fewer about a cool sweater, and probably too many about a silly costume piece made out of polyester. 😉 I’m looking forward to sharing my (likely) final project for 2018 shortly, as well as doing my Top 5 posts for this year. I’ve been pretty absent from this blog lately, and I’ve had a hard time keeping up with my friends, both in real-life and online. Here’s hoping 2019 is a more active year in all those respects!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again soon!

 

In Which The Blogger Gets Sweater Fever

Hello, friends!

Today I will be sharing a knitting project–my first sweater!–and no sewing, so feel free to skip this one if knitting isn’t your jam.

There are two reasons I decided to learn to knit: socks and sweaters. I have been rather obsessively crushing it in the sock department–in the 2 years since I learned to knit, I have made 20 pairs of socks! After just over a year of knitting, I decided I was ready to tackle sweaters. That was last October, and I started this project at that time. (PS: If any of you are on Ravelry, feel free to share your Rav name in the comments, or add me as a friend over there–I’d love more knitting buddies! My Rav name is wronghandmads because I am so creative.)

Fair warning, these photos were all taken before blocking the sweater. Doing that improved the shape of the hems quite a lot…

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Big ugly sweater!!

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Big sweater + baggy jeans = Frumptastic

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Close-up of the yarn. ❤

Theoretically, I could have easily completed this sweater long before now; unfortunately, I messed up my sleeves (the first parts of the sweater I made) and had to unravel them back to the cuffs, which happened over our rather unpleasant Christmas last year. All of that stuff ended up souring me on the project for a while, and I consoled myself with more socks. #sockmonster But this summer I decided that Fall 2018 was going to see the debut of this sweater–I couldn’t stomach the possibility of a WIP passing an entire year without being finished–and buckled down to finish it. As luck would have it, I got it done days before needing to travel out of state and had it handy to keep warm on my flights!

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Well this is certainly a photo…

The pattern I chose is called Harlowe, by Melissa Wehrle. Technically it’s a pattern for Brooklyn Tweed, a company whose design collections initially made me want to knit sweaters but toward whom I now have less-pleasant feelings. Ultimately the other patterns from their collections that I like and want to make are by non-employees of the company, so I will probably make them anyway; buying their yarn, on the other hand, is firmly in the “never” category. (It doesn’t hurt that I’m basically a Madelinetosh fanatic at this point…send help and storage solutions, stat!!)

The pattern itself was just fine and I was able to knit it totally by myself apart from the initial tubular cast-on, which was done under the supervision of an experienced knitter. 😀 I liked the results of this cast-on so much that I have used it on every other project that requires a stretchy cast-on. It really isn’t much extra work for the results you get! Apart from my original PDF download not working fully (the last few pages were missing!) and misunderstanding the sleeve increases the first time, the only trouble I had was with my actual knitting mechanics.

Since my first-ever sock heel, I have known that something about my knitting isn’t quite “right.” Sure, my stitches form and hold together and look nice and whatever, but when working flat or doing short rows my stitches always end up twisted. I actually like the effect on my sock heels and since that’s all I had knit that involved working flat, I didn’t bother to un-learn what I was doing. Well, this sweater’s split hem requires working flat and I was hoping to avoid a large twisted section at the bottom! Unfortunately I wasn’t totally able to do this, simply because I was too stubborn to look up a solution. (I also had no idea where to start looking, as I’m still new and didn’t know what to call this quirk. “F*cky knitting” isn’t really in the knitting dictionary…)

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Rather f*cky hem.

I got it almost-kinda-sorta right on my own, but not completely: you can definitely see the line that denotes where I began working in the round versus flat. (That said, my hem sections are less twisted than my usual flat efforts.) But thanks to Siobhan at Chronically Siobhan (a truly excellent knitter as well as sewer and all-around human being), I was able to successfully work out what to do to fix this. She helpfully suggested that I look up “combination knitting.” It turns out that all I needed to do to fix this issue was purl through the same stitch leg that I knit into (the back one, as it happens) and voila, beautiful flat knitting is now mine! I always assumed that the root cause of the twists was how I wrapped my working yarn around, but fussing with changing that still resulted in the f*cky twisty sections on the hems of this sweater. I couldn’t face ripping out all my work and starting over, but honestly I am just thrilled that my upper sweater doesn’t have the same line that my lower pieces have! So in truth, this sweater is brought to you by my friend Betsy, who taught me to knit and supervised my cast-on, and Siobhan, who knew exactly what to suggest that would help me un-twist my shit. 😉 Ladies, I am in your debt!!

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Blocking!

In a way, the drop shoulder and oversized style made it a great choice for a first-timer, as there was less to worry about in terms of fit. My stitch gauge was a bit off (on the side of more stitches than the pattern’s gauge specified), but my vertical gauge was dead-on; I made no changes to stitch counts or anything like that and am really happy with the size of the finished sweater. Well, except for the sleeves, which are ridiculously over-long as written. :-/

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I mean, come on.

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I don’t know what I was doing here, but it still makes more sense than the length of these sleeves…

All told, my first sweater was quite a success! I am now looking forward to knitting ALL THE SWEATERS.

And never fear, the sweater is Mulder-approved:

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Handsomeness personified…

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He’s eating lipstick in this one…

And you guys know I wouldn’t leave you .gif-less:

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Gotta have a .gif!

 

Thanks for sticking with me while I took a detour into knitting! I hope to return soon with sewing, as I have a costume-ish project in the works that I’d love to share once it’s done. ❤

Last Gasp of Summer Sewing!

Hello again! I am back for Fall with…more Summer sewing action, lol. I haven’t even started Fall projects yet! (Soon, I hope!) To console you, I have 2 garments to share today. The first is by far the most satisfactory, so I’ll start there. **WARNING: Post contains awesome .gifs at the end!**

Presenting: a total copy-cat of something posted by Trend Patterns on Instagram!

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Pleats!

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Pockets!

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Bemberg rayon pockets, at that!

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Side view

Trend Patterns posted photos from their new Spring/Summer 2018 collection on its release, and of course I ate that shit up! One outfit featured what looked like a shorts hack of their TPC6 trouser pattern, which I made last year and love. Lucy, the designer, kindly gave me details about how the shorts were made: 40cm was removed from the length of the pants, and the shorts were rolled up to create the cuffs. I knew I needed a pair exactly like them!

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Original Inspiration! (Image is property of Trend Patterns and/or their credited photographer)

I bought some medium weight tencel denim from Cali Fabrics just for this project, and it was perfect. I wanted something that had some decent weight with a definite wrong side that would show on the cuffs, and this was IT! (Plus Cali has really great prices–they’re a new favorite place to shop for me.) I was a little worried it would be too soft and drapey for the pleats, but I think everything hangs nicely.

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Apart from shortening the legs by 40cm, I didn’t make any pattern changes. I did do a little extra work for the cuffs, mostly because I can’t abide adjusting my clothes whilst wearing them and prefer things to be secure. Just rolling the shorts legs up every time I wore them wasn’t going to cut it! First, I hemmed the shorts legs–turning the hem to the right side–at 1/2″, and then turned and pressed a 2″ fold going the same direction. I knew I wanted a double-turn cuff, so I did another 2″ turn before tacking the cuffs to the shorts legs at the side seams and inseams. I was a little bit worried this would make them too short, but they’re exactly what I wanted! (Thank goodness for my short legs, LOL.)

I wore these shorts every week between finishing them and the end of the hot temperatures here–between the fabric and the design, they are an awesome addition to my summer wardrobe! It was also pretty exciting to get more mileage out of my beloved TPC6 pattern and create a whole new look from the same great base. Special thanks to Lucy at TP for sharing the details with me, too–having the exact measurement was the key to my success! ❤

Now for the less successful garment: the Jim dungaree skirt from Ready To Sew. Sorry in advance about how dark the skirt is photographing: I didn’t realize until I was adding them here! (Fair warning: these photos were all taken after the skirt had been worn for a gig but not laundered; it looks a little wrinkled and bagged out in some areas as a result!)

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Large Toddler Chic

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3 is plenty of buttons…

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Back view (now with 100% more flank on display)

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Attitude, or hiding a flaw? (Hint: it’s both.)

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Straps down = shit just got real! 😉

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Obligatory “surly guitarist” photo

I made this skirt for a gig we had back in July; we were playing at a fair, outdoors, and it was going to be HOT. I styled it just how I am wearing it here. (I didn’t make the crop top. Also, hooray for not having to wear a bra–my boobs and I felt very free and subversive. 😉 )

I am not 100% happy with this skirt…overalls…thing. That is partially my own fault (of which more later) but the pattern itself left me a bit annoyed in the actual process of making it. This was my first Ready To Sew pattern, too. :-/ That said, I was happy wearing it and felt like it was a great choice for a gig. And I have to say I’ve gotten many compliments on it, which always makes me feel better about the things I’m not happy with.

So, on to my mini review of the pattern.

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Jim by Ready to Sew (Image is property of Ready to Sew)

  1. First up: if you can, spring for a color print-out. The designer uses the same 2 line styles for all sizes, alternating them every other size. In B&W, the printout is a hot fucking mess. I had to open the copy shop file on my laptop to help me figure out which cutting lines were correct for hem lengths and a few other things. Super frustrating.
  2. Confusingly, there are multiple copies of the waistband and dungaree top pieces included. Some are for the skirt version, and some are for the trousers and shorts together. And no, there is no difference between any of them. O_o So if you want to print all the views in the copyshop format, you’ll get a bunch of unnecessary waistband bits. Sorry, I’m writing out of frustration, but shouldn’t there be a more efficient way to plan a copy shop file for printing?!? At least this is kind of avoided in the at-home file, which helpfully tells you which pages to print for each view. (If you just print the entire file without reading that info, you will get all the stupid extra waistband pieces though.) I was annoyed at wasting the paper for those pieces, and had a serious feeling of deja vu while sorting the pieces I needed for the skirt from the IDENTICAL pieces for the trousers and shorts views. The waistband and dungaree tops for the front do have separate right and left pieces, which is necessary, but there’s no need for the duplication across views when they all use the same exact pieces!! 😦
  3. This isn’t so much a fault as it is an “I hate this design element” thing: the D-rings. I was never going to have the ends of my straps flopping around and potentially needing to be re-secured. I opted to use a method like I used for my Cooper backpacks, and I bought slides instead of D-rings. No loose strap ends, no potential for strap malfunctions, and no half-ass looking straps. 😉
  4. Similarly (as in, it’s not an error, but it’s not my taste), OMG all those effing buttons made my eyes go twitchy. I wasn’t ever going to do that. I chose instead to use a longer zipper (6″) and only put buttons on the dungaree top. I chose jeans buttons for those, both for looks and durability.
  5. Upon putting this thing on, I realized how high up the back pockets are (I used the pattern’s placement). They’re basically on my lower back/upper butt area rather than over the fullest part of my butt, which is where butt pockets belong. I doubt anyone notices this, but they definitely aren’t very functional way up there!
  6. Overall: I felt that the pattern itself came together well in terms of sewing. I didn’t have any drafting issues to complain about or anything like that. The instructions were fine, although admittedly I didn’t use most of them because I did things differently. (And at its core, this is a mini skirt–the sewing was mostly pretty straightforward.)
  7. One thing I thought was neat: Ready to Sew makes playlists for her patterns that are linked in the digital instruction files. I know not everyone will think that’s worth doing but hey, I like music; it also gives you an idea of the designer’s head space relating to the design you’re sewing, and personally I think that’s intriguing.
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See? Not at all cool.

So in terms of things that weren’t down to my own mistakes, that’s it. Shall we talk about my idiocy now? 😀

Exhibit A: I picked this fabric. O_o It was a beast to cut out and I decided that matching the plaids was 1.) not in my best interest sanity-wise and 2.) not the best use of the limited time I had between the gig and when I started sewing. Instead, I decided to match plaids on the skirt horizontally as much as I could, and then focus the dungaree, waistband, and strap pieces on specific colors in the plaid pattern, mirroring those things as much as possible.

Exhibit B: I am spoiled by my usual pattern sizing. I didn’t take into account any finished measurements apart from the waist before I cut this out. This was a huge mistake! The hips were so tight I could barely move, and this fabric has a small lycra content, LOL. (My ass is flat anyway, but it was compressed to EXTRA flat in the original skirt.) And of course, by that point the skirt was fully constructed except for the hem. I damn-near trashed this thing, but decided to press on because I knew it would be an amazing gig wardrobe addition. All I could do was add panels to the side seams, but the complication was that the waist pieces fit fine–I didn’t want to make those any bigger. In the end, the sewing of the side panels is far from my best work; there are some mini-pleats at the waist to ease them into position without expanding the waist itself. 😦 (And you guys will NEVER see the inside of this skirt–it’s an ugly mess around those panels.) I hope it isn’t noticeable to non-sewers, but I have a hard time not noticing them.

 


Exhibit C:
Because I took such offense at the numerous waistband and dungaree front pieces, I lent no brain power to why there were separate left and right pieces for them. To explain: On a proper fly front, you need the shield piece to go behind your zipper; this also creates extra width across the front of your pants or skirt that must be accounted for in the length of your waistband treatment. Since I was using a longer zipper, I remembered to cut a longer fly shield that would reach up to the top of the waistband; I did NOT remember to cut a wider right front piece for the dungaree, and instead cut 2 mirrored lefts. Instead of recutting it (I got the mirroring done pretty nicely), I cut myself an extension and sewed it to my right dungaree front. Luckily I hadn’t cut my linings yet, so I used the correct piece for the lining on that side. O_o But it was a close call!!

Exhibit D: The straps. These weren’t hard to sew or anything, but I did make more work for myself. First of all, I chose to do an adjustable slider strap; this necessitated the creation of a short strap piece that would attach to each dungaree front. Then I decided to lengthen the back strap pieces, just to make sure they were long enough to be adjustable and compatible with the sliders. (They are actually too long and I have to tighten them regularly, but at least I like how they look! 🙂 ) Sewing them on proved to be slightly more complicated than the directions accounted for (which I don’t begrudge the pattern at all–this is on me!), so that was another headache to add. But overall I have no regrets about my choice of strap style: I think these look more professional, personally.

Exhibit E: The hem. I realized after cutting the skirt pieces out that it might be a bit brief, even for me! (I do a lot of bending and crouching during set-up and tear-down on stage, okay?) I assumed I would need a hem facing, and I did. I could only afford to sew it on at 1/8″ (which became more like 1/4″ after turn-of-cloth) and then decided to try machine blind-hemming this on a whim. LOLOLOLOL. It was bad. The feed of my machine distorted the facing against the skirt, so I had to rip and re-sew it by hand.

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Check out those sliders!

Another quick note about sewing things with this longer zipper: I sewed the front waistbands to the skirt fronts prior to doing the fly, since the fly was going to run through them also. The lining fabric for those was already basted in place inside the seam allowance, and functioned more like an underlining. The dungaree top and lining were then attached–along with the straps–kind of using the method from the instructions. The back waistband was sewn to the back dungaree top, then lining pieces and straps were sewn as per the instructions; that entire apparatus was then attached to the skirt backs as instructed. So really, it wasn’t too different to the way the pattern says! Highly doable, if you’d like to make a similar alteration.

So that was an adventure, eh? 😀 Let’s all console ourselves with outtakes and .gifs!

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LOLOLOLOL

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Pirate pose

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Wonder Woman pose (now with dog)

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Okay, not the most flattering shorts for sitting down…

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Trying to hide my panties from the camera…

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Moody guitar shot

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Spin!

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I should do bachelor parties, amirite? xD

That’s all for me today, but hopefully I’ll be back soon with something to share!

Thanks for reading!! ❤

 

90’s Nostalgia – Sundress Edition!

Well where the f*ck did July go?!?!? I really did plan on sharing some things with you all last month, but time kind of got away from me. And not for nothing, either: we have had a lot going on with the house, and I will definitely have some incredible “Before and After” photos to show you this Fall. 😀 It’s been really exciting but stressful, as old house renovations tend to be!

I have 2 garments to share today, which have been sewn for MONTHS. I haven’t done much sewing lately because part of the house goings-on involved me tearing my sewing setup down to reveal our lovely dining room. It looked beautiful but was also depressing, if you know what I mean!

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Sure it’s a pretty dining room, but I want to sew!!!!

I’ve just started getting the sewing stuff back out but haven’t had time to make anything. Hopefully soon! (Like, once we stop using the dining table as a closet and sleeping in the living room…)

My summer sewing was pretty successful this year. (Yes, I am pronouncing it “past tense,” because I don’t see how I’ll squeeze any more summer things in!) The first dress I’m about to show you was started the same week as my Myosotis dress, but I set it aside temporarily to hurriedly make that pattern. But I got back to my “Pepto-Bismol” pink sundress as soon as I finished the Myosotis because I knew it was exactly what my summer wardrobe needed. Then I made a second one almost immediately, lol.

Presenting: my Style Arc Ariana dresses!

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Pink!

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Pink, now with 100% more attitude

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Showing off the neckline

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Full back

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Big-ass pockets

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Nonchalant

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Is there a sewing blogger in the US that *doesn’t* own this fabric yet?

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Swish

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Aren’t they just so perfectly 90’s and cute?!?

I bought the Ariana pattern from Style Arc as soon as it came out: the combination of the shirred back panel, spaghetti straps, and not-too-full skirt pulled me in immediately. (And yes, the 90’s vibe, because duh.) Apart from some small fit complaints, I LOVE THESE DRESSES. Seriously, I want an army of them for summer. (So…2 down, 48 to go? 😉 ) It’s chic, but not fussy. And while I must admit to not being totally sold on the large patch pockets at first, I am glad to have them. (They also help to break up the expanse of skirt nicely…)

I really wanted a pink one just like the cover art, so I made one. #sooriginal

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Kick!

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Blue Kick

For the second Ariana, I copied a bunch of other internet sewing people and went to JoAnn for this cotton/linen/rayon blend. I under-bought slightly, so the CF matching isn’t great; and while shortening the skirt was the plan, it would have been a necessity with the yardage I had anyway. Oh well, I’m happy enough with the dress so it’s all good!

Pattern Notes

Pattern-wise, I made 0–that’s ZERO–adjustments (unless you include using the extra length Style Arc put on the straps) to the pink dress. I have had great luck with tops from Style Arc fitting really well straight out of the packet. I was pleasantly surprised by the bust area however, as I am really small cup-wise (ahem…A) and the princess seams have just enough room for my braless boobies. (So be warned if you measure into a Style Arc 4 and have boobs bigger than mine!) If I really want to be a perfectionist (and you KNOW I do…), I could use a little extra length in the bodice rather than just using the maximum strap length to cheat it.

The waist is bigger than I’d like–in the size 4, it is over 1″ bigger than my largest occurring waist measurement (thank you, period) and 3.25″ bigger than my usual baseline waist measurement. However, I was paranoid about the dress not fitting–and I don’t know why, because they give the finished measurements!–so I didn’t remove any width. (I blame the shirring and not having done it before, resulting in paranoia about how much the CB panel would shrink up.) The views from the side and back are not very nice, but ultimately I know I’m not going to open the whole dress back up to take it in. (The bodice is fully lined in self fabric.)

Honestly, combined with my small bust and the very nice fit there, I was worried I looked dumpy in a baggy-waisted midi length sundress. Tom said he didn’t think it was dowdy or frumpy, so here’s hoping he’s not a lying jerk! 😉 I should also note that because there is a hefty linen content in this fabric and I wore it multiple times before these photos were taken, the pink bodice has relaxed a bit versus the hot-off-the-machine fit.

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Partial back, wherein you can kinda-sorta see the poor fit at the waist and lower back.

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Ugh, such puff…

I made bodice adjustments before the blue one, I swear! I took off 1/4″ from each seamline on the side front, side back, and CB panels. And IT’S STILL REALLY BIG. O_o Again, I think I was overconfident about how small the shirred section would be in the end–it really doesn’t shrink up as much as you might expect, even after a steam. Before I make any more Arianas (and I will make more), I will spend more time fine-tuning the back waist area. I’ll probably remove excess from the skirt as well: I don’t think all that bunched up fabric (shirring + gathers) is flattering on me in that area. I’m thinking I’d like a version with no gathers at all, so that will probably be my next plan of attack.

Construction Notes

Mie at Sewing Like Mad has an excellent post about how she made her Ariana dresses, and I found it tremendously helpful. As in, I wouldn’t have been so successful without her thorough notes. (Plus her dresses are totally gorgeous!) If you are planning to sew this pattern, READ HER BLOG POST. Seriously, it will save you a lot of trouble. Her tip for attaching the shirred panel to the bodice is particularly genius!! I would probably not have thought of that on my own, let’s be real.

She also notes that, on clothing with no proper placket, buttonholes are supposed to be horizontal–I did not know that! Style Arc’s line art bears this out, but I wouldn’t have even thought about it had Mie not mentioned it. (See both of my Reeta dresses for evidence of me not thinking about such things–I put the buttonholes on those dresses going vertically.) So here is a huge “Thank you!!!” to Mie for taking the time to share her process, which awesomely includes the “why” AND the “how.”

My first shirred panel isn’t the greatest; the lines aren’t 100% evenly-spaced, and despite being sure I was never going to fit all 29 lines of shirring on that panel, I managed to sew 31 of them because I wasn’t counting and didn’t trace the lines!! O_o #sostupid The last few were the worst and curve up pretty obviously; those were helpfully put on the inside of the bodice so nobody has to see them but me. 😉 The second one was marked and sewn very neatly!

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Flexing, thanks to that shirring!

As for the straps, I went off-piste with those on purpose. The length of the straps–INCLUDING the extra Style Arc tacks on one end–was pretty close to perfect for me, so I went with it. I made the straps the same way I made my Reeta drawstrings, so they’re nice and heavy (because layers) but still thin and feminine. I did use Style Arc’s pattern piece for cutting them out, I just didn’t sew them as directed if that makes sense! I used the directions from the Ogden cami pattern to attach the straps: they are easy to follow and the result is clean and tidy.

I used smaller buttons than SA specified–I didn’t have anything suitable in a 5/8″ button but had plenty of white 1/2″ buttons (thank you, Past Mads, for buying one gross–144!–of those buttons…) that I liked just fine. Honestly, something about the scale of the buttons Style Arc suggests just didn’t feel right to me; 5/8″ seems too large for the sweetheart neck and delicate little straps and relatively close nature of CF to the edges (3/8″). Maybe that’s just me though?

Also, BEHOLD MY BEAUTIFUL HEM CORNERS:

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Sharp hem corners

(The blue ones are equally beautiful, but I didn’t get a close-up of them…)

Conclusions

I am 100% making more Ariana dresses! I already have tentative plans for at least 2 more beyond the ones in this post. I don’t often buy Style Arc patterns just because their designs don’t always “click” for me and my style, but I do know that I can rely on them for a consistent draft quality and fit. (That doesn’t mean I expect their stuff to fit me perfectly right out of the gate, but that I can reasonably expect the same general fit across their patterns against my own body because they are consistent.) If you want a summer sundress that’s so 90s it hurts, this is it!

And you guys didn’t think I’d leave you without any outtakes or .gifs, did you??? >=D

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Accidental strip-tease

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Puppy snugs!

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God I look like such a mom…

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Chomp chomp!

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You guys are the wind beneath my…skirt. 😉

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No dog noggins were actually smooshed in the making of this .gif

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A “Mads” in her natural state of being

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Don’t judge: that bench was wobbly and those shoes are tall!

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Attitude in motion

I have a few more summer items to share, which I will hopefully have posts for shortly. (And one of them will introduce you to the newest member of the “Mads” House blog team. 😉 ) After those are live I will be mostly caught up, yay! I still have 4 Driftless cardigans that haven’t been photographed, plus 6 t-shirts for Tom that I made back in…March? O_o

I have NO IDEA what I will sew next (it’s hard to plan these things when you can’t use your sewing space) so perhaps a brainstorm/planning post is in order…

What’s on your sewing table right now? Are you prepping for the next season or still stubbornly sewing for this one? Are you into the 90’s fashion revival?