A New Bag and A Sack (Dress)

**Sorry guys and gals: I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save draft” the other day, so you may have gotten an alert about a new post and then not been able to get to it. Apologies for the confusion or irritation–I’ll try to read my buttons for comprehension (as opposed to color-coding!) from now on, LOL!**

Hi again! It has been a damp few days here in Ohio, and your intrepid blogger has managed to forget her rain boots and then step headlong into many, many puddles wearing suede flats. There was much swearing and lamentation. But it’s also warm enough not to need a coat, so I’m trying to keep it all in perspective! 😀

Today I have actual THINGS to share–hooray! (Well, one finished thing and one started thing.) I’ve been busy sewing (and fabric and pattern shopping…oops) and have really been pushing myself to crank things out while I have the inspiration fresh in my mind. I have a few other ideas swimming around in my skull right now, and I’m hoping to get to them right away; it helps that I am officially done with weeknight shifts at the shop and have those few hours each evening to toil in my sewing room.

First up, the finished thing: a Cooper bag for MEEEEEE! Tom got one for xmas, and I’ve wanted one for myself ever since. I was able to construct the entire shell out of leftover fabric from other projects (those of you who have been reading my nonsense for a little while will likely recognize them) and only had to buy the nylon lining and hardware.

Cooper pieces

Cooper pieces, minus straps

Proudly holding up the bag

Proudly holding up the finished bag (and check out that toothy smile, yay!)

Ripstop lining!

Ripstop lining!


Front, with bonus cat hair and stray thread…



A terrible photo of the bag, but we need a Mulder cameo!

A terrible photo of the bag, but we need a Mulder cameo here!

Apart from working out how to cut the ikat accent pieces, this was a very straightforward project for me. Even the ripstop sewed up without a fuss! I had only purchased 2 yards of the ikat originally (at $17/yard, I felt bad even buying that much!), and since I cut out my Scout tee without thinking about leftovers, I had to pick my battles for these accents. The flap is my biggest disappointment in terms of print placement–I just did not have the right piece of fabric left over to center that motif on the pattern piece, but I am glad I was able to get all the colors in there and kind of echo the flap pattern on the bottom front pocket piece. I was lucky to be able to use the stripe on the flap and the bottom pieces for some design continuity as well, and I was also able to match the stripe going around the bottom of the bag from front to back. The black glazed linen (of vintage Simplicity 1281 fame) was used for the main body pieces, the faux straps, the bottom gusset, and the underside of the flap (not enough ikat for both flap pieces), and I used some leftover orange canvas from Tom’s Cooper for the strap tabs and front body pocket.

I omitted the rivets on my Cooper, just because I am a lazy-ass. The webbing on my bag is nylon–as opposed to the cotton I used on Tom’s version–and it was very easy to deal with, although I stuck to finger pressing the folds instead of ironing, just to be safe. If I were to make another version of this bag (and I very well might some day!), I will stick to the cotton webbing. I do not doubt the durability of my nylon webbing, but the cotton stuff I used for Tom’s bag was so much sturdier and heavier and less slippery to the touch, which I (apparently) prefer. That being said, the nylon webbing was much easier for my machine to handle than the cotton version, which was a welcome relief!

I decided that it might be a good idea (mostly for Future Mads, but maybe for a few of you, too) to do a quick list of supplies for each completed project I post going forward, so here is the Cooper list:

  • Cooper bag pattern from Colette
  • Just under 1 yard genuine ikat from Michael Levine (this colorway is sold out, but they carry lots of others)
  • Not quite 1 yard Italian bottomweight glazed linen from Gorgeous Fabrics (long gone, but GF always has great stuff!)
  • Scraps of orange canvas, originally from Fabric.com
  • Almost 3 yards 1 1/2″ nylon webbing from Strapworks
  • 4 x 1 1/2″ nickel sliders from HardwareElf (I used Item # R-005)
  • 2 x nickel magnetic snaps, size 18mm, from Fabric.com
  • Roughly 1-1.5 yards ripstop nylon from Joann Fabrics
  • 1 Microtex needle, size 70/10 (for ripstop)
  • 1 denim needle, size 100/16 (for everything else)
  • Black polyester all-purpose Guttermann thread
  • Orange polyester all-purpose Guttermann thread (for orange canvas pieces only)

As if the bag weren’t enough, I have also started work on a dress!

Coming soon: the Inari Tee Dress!

Coming soon: the Inari Tee Dress!



Inari pieces (taken before I finished my binding)

Inari pieces (taken before I finished my binding)

This post is all ikat, all the time, huh? 🙂 I bought both cuts together, and was originally planning a Scout tee with both versions. And then I decided that I really wanted a sack dress (seriously), and planned to turn my Scout pattern into that sack dress. And then I saw the Inari pattern and liked the vaguely-cocoon-shaped silhouette better than the kind-of-A-line lengthened Scout. I’ll be honest: when Named’s newest collection, Ticket, came out, I was kind of underwhelmed. Nothing really jumped out at me as I scrolled through the page, mostly due to the styling. But once I opened each pattern individually and looked at line drawings and extra photos, I had to have Inari. I instantly knew that I would use this ikat for it, and set out to start working on it straight away. I did encounter a little trouble with the PDF assembly, though:

Wait...something seems "off," doesn't it? =)

Wait…something seems “off,” doesn’t it? =)

Above is Saoirse’s idea of “helping.” Her definition is slightly different from mine! She stayed there until I gave up and walked away to brush my teeth for work, at which time she decided that if I wasn’t trying to work on it, she wasn’t interested in playing with it. Cats, amirite??

Once again, I am not completely thrilled with my fabric layout on this one. I had 2 yards to work with, but 2.5 would have been ideal to wastefully center the vertical motif on the pattern pieces. My layout ended up being rather wasteful anyway, but it was the closest I could get to centered while getting the main design on both front and back. The sleeves and folded hem bands were sort of haphazard, though I tried to make both sides identical. After tracing my pattern from the PDF tiles, I took out my Scout pieces and copied the shoulder width onto my Inari pieces. The Scout is a truly amazing fit in my shoulders right out of the envelope and I didn’t feel like muslining a sack, so this seemed like the best (read: easiest) course of action. After cutting out, my next step was to sew seam binding to every. single. raw. edge. I could have used the overlock on my machine, but this just seemed like a nicer, better-looking option. It was painfully slow work, but will be worth it when my dress seams DON’T fray down to the stitching and fall apart on me. 🙂 I am hoping to have this dress finished by next week so I can wear it–it’s officially Spring here now, and my legs would like to take a break from pants for a while! And of course I will share photos and junk here, so check back!

And remember that little sidebar about pattern and fabric shopping? >=D

Beautiful ombre silk crepe!

Beautiful ombre silk crepe!

Three loud jerseys and one ginger-y scuba knit

Three loud jerseys and one ginger-y scuba knit

3 new vintage top patterns!

3 new vintage top patterns!

It’s not my fault, guys. (Spoiler alert: it never is!) Gorgeous Fabrics had a sale and I succumbed to my fiber lust. Specifically regarding that ombre silk crepe: I’ve had my greedy little eyeballs on it for MONTHS and finally got up the nerve to buy some. It’s 60″ wide and runs from red at both selvedges into coral, and then to orange in the center. I feel like it NEEDS to become a long, split-to-there dress of some sort–what do you think?? I also got my first-ever cut of scuba knit (with another on the way!), along with some really bold-but-awesome jerseys for tops. The patterns came from the ebay shop Vintage4me2, which I highly recommend. Again, not my fault, there was a sale, yadda yadda yadda. The late 50’s V-neck top isn’t something I ever thought I’d gravitate toward, but it’s super wearable and could work with knits or wovens; it also gave me a vaguely 1920’s vibe, and you know I’m all about that!

I’ll stop here for today, but hopefully I’ll have a finished cocoon/sack/dress-like item to show you very soon. What are you all up to these days? Splashed about in any good puddles lately?

Let’s Go To The (Blog) Hop (Plus Fabric Photos!)

(Is that awful song stuck in your head now? Good.)

Today at the Mads House, we’re serving a blog hop entree with a side of juicy fabric photos for dessert–how’s that sound?

If you read many sewing blogs, you’ve probably seen the blog hop going around right now–it’s focused on why we bloggers write. I was nominated by the enchanting Rosie at sparkleneedles, whose entry will almost certainly be funnier than mine. To see more about why/how I write (and for fabric photos after), read on! (Otherwise, go look at cute cat videos or something…)

Why do I write?

Well, my degree is in History, so writing things was basically my job for 4 years; I enjoy writing (luckily) and it comes easily for me (more luckily). I started this blog to chronicle my progress as a maker of clothing. I’ve blogged before, but it was always more of a general journal exercise. My goal for this blog was to write about sewing, what I learn (if anything), and to be a part of a larger community of people who are also passionate about sewing and related things; I may include non-sewing stuff occasionally (like vintage posts, or maybe life-ish stuff) but mostly, this is a sewing blog. I don’t really have any IRL sewing friends (though one or two pals are getting into it–yay!), so it’s nice to be among others who will get excited about fabric, techniques, etc., and who will understand the kind of effort that goes into making something 3-D from a 2-D piece of fabric. I suppose I could have just started an Instagram with no blog behind it, but I enjoy reading about other people’s makes and wanted to have something similar for myself; I don’t assume that anyone would enjoy reading about my creative travails, but I wanted a more detailed and involved chronicle for myself than just a bunch of pictures with hashtags.

How do I write?

I don’t have much of a process, actually. (Actually, that’s probably really obvious if you’ve ever read my blog…) Most frequently, my posts are triggered by me working on or finishing something. Sometimes I post about fabric I got, or inspiration and plans for future projects. I try to include details about projects, since I personally do not care for “I made a thing, here are photos of it, the end” posts as a reader; and since this blog is supposed to be a way for me to chronicle my adventures as I learn and progress, not including details or challenges would kind of be a waste of my time. I try to include photos most of the time–even if it’s not an FO or in-progress post–but sometimes don’t, which is something I’d like to be more conscious of in the future.

I do most of my blogging from the office (sorry not sorry) so I tend to put a post together very quickly. I don’t draft–never cared for it–and am able to just sit down, write a thing, and post the thing. I’m a grammar enthusiast, so I usually end up having to do edits after I hit “publish” in order to correct a silly error that I missed on my first few read-throughs, but what I post is essentially exactly what I sat down and spat out into the post editor tool in WordPress. Usually my heater is running at my feet and there’s a bottle of Coke and some type of sweet nearby for good measure, but those things are not required for me to write. 🙂

How does this blog differ from others of its genre?

Honestly, I don’t think it really does: I’m yet another young, slim, white, cis-gendered, coupled, hetero, middle class woman in the sewing blogosphere. That’s about as typical as it gets in the online sewing community, isn’t it? I suppose that, if I had to pick something that’s a little different about my blog, it’s that I’m not afraid to talk about mistakes I’ve made or projects that I struggle with; I know that’s not something everyone does. But even that is such a small thing! I like that there are so many people blogging about their sewing, though–that was one thing that encouraged me when I first started. This isn’t a dying art: people are out there making things and talking about them and sharing with the world! So while I am pretty willing to admit that I have little or nothing new or novel to offer the sewing world, I am enthusiastic about the craft and want to contribute to the chorus of voices.

What am I working on?

Currently, I have one project cut out, and it’s for Tom: McCall’s 6613, view C. I have big plans for myself as well, but nothing is started yet. I’d like to make another vintage Simplicity 1281 and some shirts, at least! Most likely, my next project will be a pair of pants. I’ve been dying to crack open a particular vintage pattern since I got it, and due to an unfortunate turn of events, I’m a bit short on casual pants–this is my moment, right?!?

I honestly have no idea who to nominate next, so I’m taking a rain-check on that. My blog, my rules. xD

So if you’ve made it this far, here’s a treat: my box from Fabric Mart arrived today, and I’m a happy camper!

Neutral ponte knit; no plans yet really, but we'll get there!

Neutral ponte knit; no plans yet really, but we’ll get there!

The coveted cheetah print silk twill! *swoon*

The coveted cheetah print silk twill! *swoon*

Then there's this crazy shit...

Then there’s this crazy shit…

Marc Jacobs, biotch!

Marc Jacobs, y’all!

"Mads" goes mod...

“Mads” goes mod…

Plaid brushed knit

Plaid brushed knit

Modal/silk jersey in two colors

Modal/silk jersey in two colors

I love/hate you, Fabric Mart

I love/hate you, Fabric Mart

Pretty sweet, right? Can we talk about that silk twill for a second, though?? Because holy hell, it is even silkier, dreamier, and sexier than I imagined. It’s also not opaque, but I’ve got that covered: I got some china silk from Dharma Trading to line it. I’m having a total “Wayne’s World” moment–I am not worthy of this luscious material!!

The crazy-ass blue/zebra combo is sufficiently insane in person, but it is LIGHT. I’ve never messed with an ITY knit before, so maybe it’s my inexperience talking, but I did not imagine this material to be semi-sheer and virtually weightless. Guess I’ll be wearing a slip under whatever that becomes, eh?

The Marc Jacobs bottomweight cotton is destined for my ass…as a pair of pants. =) It’s hard to photograph color-wise, but it’s a weird mix between gray and taupe.

The mod checkerboard knit, purple plaid knit, and almond-y ponte are things I liked a lot and figured I’d use at some point. I have no plans for any of them just yet, though. The modal/silk jerseys are perhaps the most heavenly knits I’ve ever put my grubby mitts on; my t*ts are gonna love them.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully I’ll be back in a few days with something new under construction!

Fabric Stashing With Mads

Hello again!

Predictably, I have not started any new projects since finishing the ultimate cat lady outfit. I haven’t made any progress on the one thing I’ve got cut out, either! Again, totally typical of me. The outlook for productivity in my sewing room is bleak for the next week or so: my in-laws (who I actually really do adore–they’re wonderful) are visiting us this weekend, so I am in CLEAN ALL THE THINGS mode…

Like a fuckin' adult

Like a fuckin’ adult

This means that my sewing area will likely be reverting back to its original dining room-like configuration in the event that we cook (LOL) or get pizza one night (probably). Think of it like those rooms in movies/tv shows where a wall spins to reveal something totally awesome, like a mid-century bar, and then spins back into Middle Class Wall mode again as needed. Except, you know, without the automated capabilities and with much more swearing and sadness…

Per my title today, I was very bad. Very, very bad. But I can explain: it’s all Fabric Mart’s fault!!!! They had a 40% off sale for Halloween, and I went a little nuts. I bought 19 yards of fabric. 😦 One of them is an AMAZING silk twill with motherfucking cheetahs on it. Seriously: where was that stuff when I was doing it up Cat Lady style? Oh well, better late than never. Hello, future feline dress!

I also got some modal/silk jersey so that I can use it to line eventual bra cups. My boobs and I are very excited about that prospect, in the event that I ever get around to sewing anything ever again. I also ordered some Marc Jacobs bottom weight cotton for a pair of late 50’s/early 60’s high-waisted skinny pants (duh), and a lot of knits, which is weird for me. Weirder still, most of the knits I got are bold. Like, REALLY bold. I have ideas for all of them, otherwise I would never have pulled the trigger on something like a zebra print knit with bright-ass blue floral border action. (Hey Fabric Mart: let me know if you ever have a job opening for naming fabrics on the website, k? 😉 ) Nothing for Tom (or Gretchen Weiners), but so it goes. I’m sure I’ll post photos instead of links once these beauties arrive at my house, so check back in several days if you’re into that sort of thing!

I re-organized my fabric stash about a month or two ago. I had been very proud that my entire fabric stash fit into one big Rubbermaid bin, and it definitely did…until I took everything out of there and tried to put it all back in again. So now I have two bins where things are folded relatively nicely, and both are pretty full. I may have to start looking for someplace else for this new shipment to hang out, because I doubt those bins have any room! On the one hand, I feel guilty and bad for stashing–it sits there and sits there, and it takes me FOREVER to sew anything. Plus, fabric isn’t free, and it’s not like I have an unlimited budget. And let’s be real: my tastes are kind of expensive, and I can be a total fabric snob; it’s not like I’m stocking up on $2/yard polyester (not that there’s anything wrong with that). On the other hand, I will get around to everything eventually, and almost never buy fabric without an idea of what to do with it, and only buy it at full-price if desperate. I also very rarely shop for new RTW clothes, a recent (unblogged) denim fiasco aside. I buy underpants and some vintage clothing, but not often. I definitely want to curb my stashing, since I have a few years worth of material and limited storage space and sew slower than the speed of smell…

Do any of you stash? Do you ever feel bad about it? If you have any fabric organization tips, feel free to share them!

Quick Update (aka This Is What Happens When Someone Gives The Gift Of Cash)

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

After a very busy and emotional weekend, I am exhausted! Saturday was action-packed, and the band played our last show EVER. I cried on stage, sang and talked myself hoarse, and stayed out until 1:45AM socializing and eating pizza. Totally worth it. After getting up at 5:45AM and having no nap, Sunday was spent strutting around a Golden Age mansion in 1920’s underwear (and some actual clothes sometimes) and then wandering around said mansion trying to figure out how many hours it would take the owners of the house to find me if I just picked a bedroom and crashed for a while.

Saturday was so busy that I didn’t have a chance to unpack or photograph my latest fabric delivery until now. I got some great stuff!! A very sweet friend gave me a generous cash gift (like, so generous that I felt terrible accepting it, but did anyway because we’re both stubborn and what kind of asshole turns down a gift from a woman at her wedding?) and I decided to spend it on more fabric. Because duh. I placed my first-ever order with Fashion Fabrics Club about 2 weeks ago, and apart from the speed (or lack thereof) with which they ship orders (seriously: order entered and confirmed on May 20, order received on May 31–Missouri to Ohio, mind you, not international) I’m really satisfied. The fabrics are as-described, but I haven’t checked yardage or grain on anything yet. Almost everything I ordered was a remnant piece, and the prices were really good, in my opinion. I even got some things for Tom!

Black stretch denim! The color isn't easy to photograph, but it does have a slight brown undertone.

Black stretch denim! The color isn’t easy to photograph, but it does have a slight brown undertone.

Rayon/poly blend--6 yards of it!

Rayon/poly blend–6 yards of it!

Really soft and slinky knit in a loud color

Really soft and slinky knit in a loud color

More t-shirt knit!

More t-shirt knit!

Another knit; this one didn't photograph well, but is lighter and brighter than it looks here.

Another knit; this one didn’t photograph well, but is lighter and brighter than it looks here.

Wrong side (I think) of the double-faced twill

Wrong side (I think) of the double-faced twill

This side looks so cool!! It's very close to the color of my Hawthorn dress.

This side looks so cool!! It’s very close to the color of my Hawthorn dress.

Future coat! The coating is a blend, and the lining is a poly charmeuse.

Future coat! The coating is a blend in dark green and white, and the lining is a minty poly charmeuse.

I’m really excited about all of these pieces. I got three different knits for t-shirts for Tom; he likes all of them very much, but I am not looking forward to working with the bright orange rayon jersey! It’s curled up along the cut edges already, so I know it will be a bear when I get down to sewing it. Time to get busy researching how in the hell to stabilize such an ornery fabric! O_o

The denim will likely become skinny pants and/or shorts for me, and if I have anything left, maybe shorts for Tom. (See?? I am VERY considerate. 🙂 ) All these cuts are WIDE, so it’s not out of the question.

The yellow and black rayon/poly blend will become a Robson trench coat, and I’m nearly ready to pull the trigger on some beautiful 1940’s yellow plastic buttons for it. I need to buy underlining for that project yet, and I’m thinking I’ll probably use black cotton broadcloth or something like that; since the plaid is so loud, I don’t want a lot of weirdness on the inside!

The double-faced twill is really cool and lighter than I expected. My original plan for that stuff was at least one more skirt from Simplicity 1281 and possibly a pair of shorts, so we’ll see how I do!

The coating and lining fabrics in the last photo are especially exciting for me. I bought a pattern on Etsy (which is basically like my heaven at this point) for $6–it’s a coat pattern from the 1920’s for a girl (probably about 13 or so), and I bought it because 1) it’s awesome and 2) the bust measurement matches mine. I’m expecting to have to grade it a little bit, and probably lengthen the arms and widen the shoulders, but I’m really amped about it. This coating fabric seemed like the perfect material for such a classic coat, and the lining is close enough in color to look classy while still being a little surprising, which I love. I’m looking forward to trying some legit tailoring techniques on that project (OMG hair canvas and pad stitching and roll lines)!

In other news, my sewing space has never been as put away as it is right now: we had the band over for a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity last night, and I had to clear off the table so we could eat and play. I even made cheese dip–with REAL cheese–from scratch! It was a lot of fun, but I’m looking forward to getting all my gear back out and hacking into some of this stuff soon. But what will I make first?!?!?!? I have too many ideas, but I’ve got to start whittling away at my stash, which is so tremendous that my bin lid doesn’t so much close as levitate on top of the pile within!

PS: Voting for the Pattern Review Vintage Contest 2014 starts TODAY! Go here to see all the lovely garments people have made over the last month, and if you’re eligible, vote for your favorites! There’s an awful lot of talent in that gallery, which is wonderful!

On Hitting The Jackpot

Tonight I’m not writing about my Fall for Cotton projects, except to say that I’m still in the muslin stages and that I am almost certain I won’t complete even one project before the end of the month. And that’s okay! The good thing is that I’m working on them when I can, and they will get done eventually!

What I do want to write about is an amazingly cool gift that was given to me over the weekend. One of my husband’s distant cousins (who is really more like a friend than a distant relative–we love her!) sent me a message saying that her mother had a whole stockpile of vintage patterns; she wondered if I might like them. I felt like typing “YESSSSSSSSSSSS” with lots of exclamation points, but I kept my cool and said something a little less spastic. 🙂 This weekend, I stopped at her place to pick them up, and OMG it was like Christmas. An entire grocery bag full of patterns awaited me, and I really cannot begin to figure out which one to make first! There are some that look like they’re late 1930’s, and one that is probably 1970’s; most of them are 1940’s and 1950’s, which I love! Some probably have pieces missing, but our cousin will be bringing the entire pile of loose pattern pieces to me the next time she visits her mother. Below is a photo dump featuring my very favorites. The pants pattern literally made me squeal out loud when I saw it: I had been eyeing that one on Etsy, but felt that it was too expensive. Sure enough, someone else bought it, and I couldn’t find another listing for it anywhere. And here it is, falling into my lap for $0! Hence the squealing, haha!


OK, I’ll be honest: I posted this one because of the boobs. They’re insane!!


The mythical pants pattern–swoon!!


Capes and shawls!


I am all about that peplum suit at the bottom.


Pretty blouses, plus the gorgeous detail on the dress bodice at the bottom.

As you can see, this was a major haul for a vintage-obsessed sewist. And this is just a handful of them–the stack is enormous and contains probably close to 20 patterns. As if that weren’t enough, our cousin is also a home sewing enthusiast, and offered to let me poke around in one of her bins of remnant fabric finds. So I ended up with a bit of new fabric for free as well, and here it is:


New pretties!

I think most of this is cotton or a cotton/poly blend, but I think the polka dot stuff is rayon. I’ve got one other rayon in my stash but haven’t worked with it before, so I probably won’t bust that out for a little while until I’m comfortable. Most of the pieces are really small, but I’m hoping I can squeeze sleeveless tops out of most of the smaller remnants. The polka dots will probably end up being a cute 1930’s or 1940’s dress, since there’s a lot of it. Needless to say, my adventure on Saturday was very successful!