Smells Like Teen Spirit, Looks Like 1994

Hi! This will be a fairly quick post, since it’s a pattern repeat. I meant to have an entire outfit to share, but my trial jeans didn’t work out. (The fabric was the culprit: it was too damn stretchy!)

So that leaves us with this shirt! And thanks to my fabrication, it’s straight out of the High Grunge period of the early 1990s. It’s a Grainline Archer, this time with sleeves. If you’re keeping score, here’s another one for my Fall plans that I can check off! (Fair warning: my hair looks bleh because I had it dyed that morning and hadn’t re-washed it. But the color looks great, at least! ūüėÄ Also, I have had that metal comb headband since, I don’t know, junior high maybe? It is still ridiculously useful if utterly uncool.) Behold:

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Gahhhhhh he is so cute.

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The front; looks like I missed a few threads at the collar stand!

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Full front view, with dog

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Making a stupid face

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Back view–check out that pleat!

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Dicking around

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Clearly I have been watching “Kung Fu Panda” wayyyyy too much.

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Snaps!!

I put the yoke, button band, pockets, and cuffs on the bias to break up the checks and get out of pattern matching. >=D The scale of the checks–3″ by 3″–proved to be really annoying for the duration of this project, but especially¬†when it came to the collar, because no matter which grain or placement I chose I would be getting nothing but partial checks. In the end, I put that on the straight grain and just picked a color distribution that I liked. Like my striped version, I opted for an obsessively-choreographed placement of the center back pleat at the expense of matching one or both of the side seams. I french seamed everything I could, including the sleeve/armhole seams. I wanted to flat-fell but forgot to add more seam allowance before I cut. Derp.

I’d never done a continuous bound placket before, but got them done successfully on the first attempt; the instructions and sewalong post at Grainline were really clear.

Apart from my usual addition of 1″ of length, I didn’t make any fitting changes to this version of Archer. But once again, I used fewer buttons than the pattern calls for: there are 6 front buttons and 2 cuff buttons on mine, but the pattern calls for 8 front buttons. I just don’t like buttoning shirts up all the way OR wasting buttons. And instead of buttons, I used snaps for the first time!

The lovely Heather has made many beautiful shirts that feature snaps from Snap Source¬†(NAYY); she also raved about their quality and ease of application, so obviously I had to check them out. ūüėÄ I am pleased to report that my experience with these snaps very closely mirrors her own: I found the snaps to be of high quality, and after reading the instructions a couple of times, easy to use successfully. I really didn’t have high hopes for that last part, so imagine my surprise when my practice snap (Snap Source includes sample snaps with your tool because they’re awesome) went in perfectly on the first attempt! I went with pearl snaps for this shirt, which requires a separate base that is designed not to damage the pearl domes as you hammer away. Even so, I did end up with one scuffed snap (the top one, OF COURSE) but the installations were all successful. I will warn you though, that this process should not be done while your co-occupants are sleeping: it is LOUD. I did mine at 10PM (I was on a total high after¬†getting home from a “Fit and Sip” event at a sewing store down the street) while Tom was awake, but I felt obligated to keep apologizing for the noise! O_o

I got this fabric at Zinck’s in Berlin, OH. Don’t let the named-after-a-huge-European-city name fool you: this place is in the middle of BFE Amish Country, Ohio, and was a definite pain in the ass to get to from Columbus. (I am a freeway driver: give me high speed limits and at least 3 lanes–so I can get around all y’all–and I’m happy.) Their prices are pretty good anyway, but we timed our visit to coincide with their 37th Anniversary sale; as you can imagine, I made some serious scores. (Like an entire 20 yard bolt of water resistant nylon in The Most Perfect Olive Green for $0.37/yard. 37 CENTS. PER YARD. Seriously.) This buffalo check cotton (which also came in blue/black, which I also bought…) came pre-cut into approximately 3 yard bundles and was $0.75/yard. It’s probably not meant for shirts but the hand and weight are suitable for that application. The buffalo checks, I think, make it seem heftier than just shirting-weight cotton, but it’s actually pretty nice to have a light fall-appropriate shirt hanging around.

I made this shirt back in September, but don’t be fooled: I’ve been somewhat productive since then! I made most of a pair of jeans for myself–I was all the way at the waistband stage–before realizing the project just wasn’t going to work out (the aforementioned too-stretchy-fabric pair), sewed up some more poet shirts for the store where I used to work part-time, and made Tom 2 new pairs of Hudson pants! Here is one pair in, um, “action”:

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A pair of butts.

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This dog tho.

On top of all of THAT, I have been busy dealing with our bathroom remodel. It’s been a slog, but we’re finally getting to the point where there are things I need to do to keep the job moving. It’s been kind of nice to not have to work on it for a short while, since we did all our own demolition to save money. (Note to self [and any other interested/curious parties]: next time, just pay up and let someone else do everything. Seriously.) Now we’re getting to the priming and painting stage (again, we’re doing this ourselves to save money) so I’m being pulled back into the fray! I fully intend to share more about the remodel here when it’s finished: we have been taking plenty of pictures and it’s going to be an amazing transformation, but boy is it ugly in that in-between phase!! We’ve also had our fair share of Old House Problems that don’t make for very enjoyable in-progress reading material! =’D

So that’s my update today! I have a HUGE sewing project in the works (it’s a personal thing as per usual, not a testing/promotional thing, FYI) that I will hopefully finish by my deadline and be able to proudly share with you next month, so look out for that! (And if you’re feeling generous, send good vibes/cross your fingers/make a ritual sacrifice for me–I need all the solidarity I can get, LOL.)

 

 

 

Double Good Plan Success!

By which I mean, I finished multiple items that were ALL in my planning post!

I know, right? I can hardly believe that either. But it’s true: I have made 3 garments from my encyclopedic planning post. And even though 2 of the pieces are the same pattern made in the same fabric but in different colors, I think that’s worth celebrating!

And now Named has gone and smashed up my planned queue with their Fall collection–I literally only left 1 pattern unpurchased! O_o They get me when it comes to Fall stuff, apparently…Anyway! Back to business.

Penny Raglan x 2

First, let’s talk about the least-exciting of the two patterns: the Penny Raglan. Thrilling she is not, but function is her jam and I can appreciate that. I think a shirt like this can be very wearable with mini skirts, slim trousers, and skinny or boyfriend jeans. Bonus points if you throw in a slouchy boyfriend-style blazer! The trick to this pattern–apart from deciding that an aggressively over-sized raglan t-shirt is the garment for you and rocking the shit out of it–is in the fabric you choose. The pattern hilariously calls for fabrics with at least 20% stretch (maybe I’m being a bitch, but 18″ of positive ease doesn’t strike me as a situation where I need anything even remotely approaching 20% stretch; YMMV), but the most important factors here are drape and weight. If you want to make this pattern, I advise making it up in the lightest knit fabric you can manage. My I-wish-it-had-been-wearable sample was made in a cotton blend jersey–something close to a nice interlock weight, I would say–and I looked like I was wearing a brick of fabric. An unflattering red/navy striped brick of fabric, to be exact. ūüė¶ If I’m dealing with bricks, they’d better be made of cheese or I’m not happy.

Anyway.

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Big ole shirt

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Sheer, too.

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Goofing off

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Back neckband, V.2

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Best Penny!

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Dress form side view

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Innards!

 

Cool, right? At least I feel cool in them. ūüėČ Both tops are made from silk/modal blend jerseys that I bought at Fabric Mart a couple years ago. This stuff is amaaaaaaazing to wear, just FYI. It’s also the perfect weight for a top this shape. The first three pics are of the pink version, and the rest are the rose gold (aka THE BEST) version.

The rose gold Penny is my favorite not just because of the color (which matches a pair of shoes I have–swoon!), but because I did the best job on it. The pink one had been a highly-wearable trial, and while I wear it proudly, there are some things I could have done better: for one, there is a small tuck at the back of the neckline because I didn’t smooth things out enough when attaching the band. I also set the differential too high on my serger and the side seams look slightly ruched as a result–oops. My final crime is that I did very narrow hems for the sleeves and hemline; they’re fine and un-puckered, but they don’t look as “nice” as a deeper hem would have. I remedied all of these things on the rose gold Penny. For hems, I didn’t whip out my stretch twin needle, even though I have one. Here is what I did instead:

  1. Added extra hem allowance–1″ for everything.
  2. Marked 1/2″ up from the raw edge, then turned that under the final 1/2″ and pinned in place, stretching slightly as I pinned.
  3. Basted the hem in place near the top of the fold, stretching slightly as I went along and removing pins as I moved.
  4. Gave that sucker a good press from the wrong side.
  5. Sewed the hem from the right side at approx. 3/8″ to ensure I caught the top fold, stretching slightly as I went along.
  6. Pressed again.

Since none of my hems need to stretch, that method worked for me. If these were fitted knit tops, I would have tried the twin needle. Failing that, zig-zag or lightning stitch.

Pattern Alterations

As with the last time I made a Grainline pattern, I needed to add some length. 2″ was added at the lengthen/shorten line, plus I cut the pattern pieces at the hemline of the largest size, PLUS I added the 1″ hem allowance to preserve all that extra length. My height is concentrated in my torso, and Grainline tops¬†just hit me at an awkward spot without alterations.

I also brought the neckline up significantly after the “striped brick” trial version. I felt that the original neckline was too droopy on me to be flattering. I added 1″ all the way around and am much happier with the look now. So hooray for 2 whole wearable shirts!! This pattern is super easy to sew up, especially if you and your serger are on speaking terms. (My Juki and I are still in the honeymoon phase…) I got 2 done in rapid succession and have a 3rd in-progress!

Moss Mini Skirt

And now for the exciting piece: a Moss mini skirt!

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Moss mini!! And legs!!!!

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Fly front

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Back view, complete with bunchy, tucked-in tank top

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Sorry for the pose–I was itchy

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Beautiful serged innards!

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Full (fly) frontal

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Back insides; didn’t realize JR was so bodacious from the back!!

I am really thrilled with this one with ONE exception: I wish I had used a jeans button instead of a hook and bar. Without a button it almost reads “Tennis Skirt” and no. Just no. But I can live with it. (Read: I hand-sewed that fucker on and I’m not uninstalling it.) This fabric is a stretch cotton-blend twill from Fashion Fabrics Club/Denver Fabrics. I’ve had good luck shopping with them for the most part–just BELIEVE their descriptions regarding weight. And swatch if you can if color matching is of great importance to your project. Learned that one the hard way once! You can get some great stuff there though, for sure. The quality of this material is incredible, and I paid $3/yard per my records. Boom.

I would like to take this opportunity to bitch about the zipper situation on this pattern. The instructions tell you to buy a 6″ zipper. My opinion? Buy a 4″ or 5″ and save yourself the waste of having to cut off the top of the 6″ zip they tell you to buy. I cannot for the life of me understand this whole “buy it too long and cut it off” philosophy. We are capable of installing the correct length of zipper to begin with, you guys. We totally are. For the record, I used a 4″ zipper for my skirt. My fly functions correctly. A 5″ is probably okay too in terms of not having extra zipper to cut off, but I will be sticking with 4″.

The pockets, however, are shout-out worthy. They attach in a way that keeps them in place all the time, and it’s awesome.

Pattern Alterations

Once again, length was added. My legs are short for my height IMO, but I wanted to make sure this mini was going to be appropriate to wear at the office. 2″ were added at the lengthen/shorten line. After trying it on unhemmed, I decided to take a 1″ hem (two folds at 1/2″ each) and I’m happy with the length; the pattern has you take two 3/8″ folds for the hem. I will try it at the original length though, just for fun. ūüėÄ

I also ended up taking the waist area in about 1″ before installing the waistband. I could use another 1″ removed I think, so I will make those changes before Moss 2.0 is cut out. The pattern sits below the natural waist, and while I thought I might need to make this type of adjustment, I didn’t want to do that before trying things on! Better safe than sorry, right?

I also did some gratuitous topstitching on the skirt (not in the instructions) and I like it. Definitely keeps it from looking like a tennis skirt. ūüėČ

So there you have it! I got some of my planned garments done before Named went and got me all in a tizzy about their Fall line. I’ll still try to stick to the original spirit of the plan, but we may have some last-minute substitutions over here. ūüėÄ

Before I go, here’s a¬†gratuitous Mulder pic:

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“Hi, Rhonda!!!” =)

Thanks for reading! ‚̧

How is your sewing going this month? Do you have one favorite pattern company that just seems to “get” you and your style?¬†

Q3 and Q4 Sewing (aka The Planning Post to End All Planning Posts)

Hiiiiiiii! Wanna guess what I’ve been up to since I last wrote?

Sherk 2-9

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School Spirit Shark

Yep–sharks like whoa. The last one there is for my little sister, who started teaching at a new school this year. Their mascot? THE SHARKS. For real. So obviously I made her one in the school’s colors. I did as she asked and made this one a little smaller–it’s about 75% of the original size. It’s still over 4′ long though!

Anyway…

It’s August,¬†which means that it’s time for many of us to begin thinking about our plans for the upcoming season(s). So with that in mind, I thought I’d do a planning post to share my ideal sewing focal points as we Ohioans prep for Fall (and football season, UGH) and Winter.

I always love reading other people’s planning posts, so I thought it would be fun to jump on the bandwagon. It’s also nice to have a concrete reminder of my intentions! My plans* are mostly based on wardrobe needs, but never fear: I have some ridiculous shit in there, too! And of course, I have listed wayyyyyy more patterns than I could possibly sew up before January, but I like to give myself plenty of options. ūüôā

*We at The ‘Mads’ House reserve the right to arbitrarily change these plans for any or no reason. We are fickle people.*

Tops

I need tops. Any tops. Knit tops, woven shirts, long-sleeved, short-sleeved, you name it. I have begun work on one already, so hopefully I will be sharing some results¬†sooner rather than later! My pattern selections–below, in no particular order–for this section are quite numerous:

Tops

 

  1. Grainline Studio Penny Raglan – I know, I know…I rolled my eyes pretty hard at this pattern when it came out–I could nearly fit 2 of me in my size with all that ease and the design is really, really simple. But then I remembered I had some really drapey and lightweight knits that I haven’t used (and was going to try to sell, actually) and decided that, given my recent lust for mini skirts, something like this could be a great way to balance out a mini for the office. So I bought it. #sheep
  2. Grainline Studio Archer – Flannel shirts, here I come!!
  3. Vintage Advance 6426 РI have my heart set on some gamine button-up shirts with short sleeves, and this pattern seems like the perfect match!
  4. Waffle Patterns Vanilla Top РI have striped knits ready and waiting for this one.
  5. True Bias Sutton Blouse – Finally got this pattern during the recent release sale. I can’t wait to make it: it should be an easy and chic addition to my wardrobe.
  6. Grainline Studio Lark Tee – I own 4 plain t-shirts and they’re looking¬†gnarly. It’s time!
  7. Itch-to-Stitch Mila Shirt – Definitely going to use a yellow and black plaid rayon-blend suiting for the first one.
  8. Style Arc Elsie Woven Overshirt – I have B&W striped silk twill waiting for this pattern.
  9. Vogue bonanza – Specifically, V1463 (View B), V1387 (View B), V1509, V1378, and V1389. I’ve got silk and lightweight shirting for the woven blouses, but I’m not sure what I will use for the last two, which are knit.

Pants

Namely, jeans. There is something demoralizing about one’s spouse having a pair of handmade jeans whilst you are left out,¬†trust me.¬†I have plenty of denim, from neon to black to indigo to non-stretch (for real–it’s everywhere) and just need to get started. Skinny jeans are my staple, but I’d like to take a crack at a pair of boyfriend jeans before the year is over. I also want to make a few pairs of pleated, cropped trousers like all the pairs Keira Knightley wears in “Begin Again.” Pattern selections:

Pants

  1. Self-drafted copy of Aeropostale skinny jeans –¬†The pattern is ready for a wearable (I hope) mock-up, but the hold-up was zippers. The zipper I salvaged from the pair I tore to pieces copied¬†measures roughly¬†2.5″ long, which is RIDICULOUS and proved impossible to find ready-made. But I like my skinnies to have a¬†low rise (I know, that’s totally uncool now) so once I realized I didn’t have any suitable zippers in my stash, I found a supplier who would shorten them for a reasonable fee of $1 per zipper. I went with 2.5″ and they’re perfect! (Yes, I know I could have bought a 3″ and shortened it myself, but I don’t feel like it.) I plan to make an entire drawer full of these jeans!
  2. Named Jamie Jeans – Not a style I want too many pairs of, but I’d like to make them anyway! I’m thinking one pair in black, one in blue, and one in a pink or rust color.
  3. Named Wyome Boyfriend Jeans – I’ll sub out the button fly for a zipper and use larger back pockets, but otherwise the silhouette is very close to my ideal boyfriend jeans.
  4. Republique du Chiffon Gilbert Trousers (not pictured) – This pattern has me nervous–it’s hand-drawn in pink pen and there aren’t tons of finished versions of¬†it online. There aren’t even line drawings available for it! But I am confident that I can figure it out, even if it takes a few iterations. When in doubt, I can always call Nina!

Skirts

Specifically, mini-skirts. They’ll work in summer, obviously, but they are also great with tights and layers up top for Fall. I have twill, I have denim, I’m ready!! Patterns:

Skirts

  1. Pauline Alice Rosari Skirt – My one beef with this one is all the buttons down the front, which isn’t usually something I like. (Plus it seems like a waste of jeans buttons or pearl¬†snaps, TBH.) But it’s the perfect A-line mini! I’ll make it work.
  2. Grainline Studio Moss Skirt РI love all the jeans-inspired details (back yokes! fly front!) but will probably make mine out of anything other than indigo denim to avoid the full-on jeans skirt look. (I had an ill-fitting one in Junior High and would prefer not to sartorially revisit those dark, awkward days! O_o )
  3. Named Nascha Mini Skirt РI have an incredible tweed/boucle from Gorgeous Fabrics that I thought should be a jacket, but will probably become this skirt instead. Wish me luck!

Dresses

After giving away almost all my summer dresses last year, I have been struggling to get dressed for work all season. I’d like to get a head start for next year, as well as give myself lots of options for Fall layering.

Dresses

  1. Brunch In Paris Cowl Dress (not pictured) – Free random pattern from a sewing magazine. I have polka dot¬†rayon fabric ready to go! (Which was also free–yay!)
  2. McCall 7351 – I haven’t decided which skirt to use first, but this one is definitely happening.
  3. Named Kielo Wrap Dress – Finally broke down and bought this pattern, too! I am not sure I have anything appropriate in stash, but it’s on my list if I do.
  4. McCall 7429 – Again, who knows if I have the right fabric for this one, but I wants it! I’d love to shorten¬†it into a top as well.
  5. McCall 7430 – The perfect cool weather knit dress!
  6. McCall 7244 – I know I have plenty of fabrics for this pattern, and I can’t wait to make it!
  7. Vogue 1404 – This was a “love at first sight” pattern, and I’d love for this to be the year I finally make it!

Miscellaneous

These are all things I need, but that don’t fit neatly into one of the above categories!

Misc

  1. Grainline Studio Driftless Cardigan – I have precisely one long-sleeved open-front sweater, and it’s showing its age. I need something light for layering over short-sleeved dresses and tops, and this fits the bill! I have one length of fabric earmarked for this pattern, but hopefully I can find some more options in stash.
  2. Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas – I tend to sleep in sweatpants and sweatshirts in the winter, but I would love to have a set of flannel pajamas to wear instead!
  3. True Bias Hudson Pants – Did I mention that the sweats referenced above are 5 Ohio winters old? I need new ones!
  4. True Bias Ogden Cami – To wear under sheer and semi-sheer tops, of course!
  5. 1920’s Preteen Coat – Ah yes, the coat. Still haven’t tackled that one, but my winter coat is getting really ratty and the pattern is ready for an adult–maybe this is my year.

Frosting

aka¬†SHINY!!!!!!!! Stuff I don’t need to sew, but want to sew anyway.

Frosting

  1. Vogue 9160, View B – This will be my project for this year’s company holiday party. It’s utterly frivolous, but it’s fun to challenge myself and have an excuse–no matter how tenuous–to sew a piece of formal wear. I have scalloped-edge corded¬†lace and a matching wool/silk gabardine (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) in the most perfect eggplant purple for this one. Swoon!! ‚̧ I plan to start fitting this one ASAP so that I have plenty of time to deal with the lace. I also plan to make the sleeves 3/4 length rather than full as pictured.
  2. Boyfriend Blazer – I’m putting this one under Frosting because I¬†don’t *need* it. I have a RTW one already! But I want to copy that one using some amazing mascara black wool/nylon/lycra designer suiting I got from Fabric Mart recently. I’ve never made a jacket before, so that will be fun! I just need to figure out how to clone the jacket without destroying it, and what to use for lining; definitely thinking silk for lining, though! #becauseiamworthit
  3. Xmas Sewing – What will I make this year? No idea. But probably something for Tom (Xmas Sweatpants, Round 2, perhaps? Surprise Jeans?) and maybe another Stanley Tree for us to keep–those things are too cute!

So that’s my ridiculous list for Fall/Winter 2016! Hopefully I get at least one thing done from each category, LOL.

Better Pictures Project* (And Also Another Marfy 3093)

*Disclaimer: this LONG post is mostly about improving the photos I post to this blog, but it does feature a new sewn garment as well. It’s just that the photos and talky words will have more to do with photography and less to do with sewing than usual. Additionally:¬†I am probably not the target audience for Gillian’s awesome series, since I have a partner to take my photos and we use a cell phone and not a camera, but her September homework inspired me. =)

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Since we last met, your intrepid blogger has managed to turn 30–WOO HOO I MADE IT!!!!!!!!!¬†I’m excited for this new chapter of my life;¬†this is the first fresh decade that I have kicked off¬†knowing exactly who I am and feeling good about that person, and it’s a great feeling. Not bad, eh? ūüôā

I have also been sewing as much as I can, and I am trying desperately to keep up with my massive blog roll (Bloglovin’ makes it so easy to follow a billion-and-three blogs, and then I end up with the dreaded 99+ unread icon…), which helps explain my belated interest in Gillian’s Better Pictures Project. She has been posting lots of really helpful information for anyone looking to¬†improve their photography skills and make their blogs that much better. Now, per my disclaimer above, I not only do not have an actual camera, I have a personal paparazzi to help me; as such, I read the camera settings posts and thought they were interesting and helpful, but just not something I could incorporate into my life right now. But then the September “homework” came along: find a new TNT photo location close to home. THAT, friends, was something we could handle! I knew there was a public park comprised of a ravine and its surrounding wooded area within walking distance of¬†the house, so we went location scouting (with Mulder in tow, naturally) one Saturday morning in September. You guys, I might never take photos in our backyard ever again!

So we had a new awesome location ready to go, but we were missing one crucial element: a finished thing. (This is still a sewing blog, you know…) So I got Tom all wound up about taking these photos in an idyllic location and then basically gave him photography blue-balls by taking forever to finish my new shirt. But whatever, I don’t need to explain my art to him!!!!!

*Ahem*

Finally, I finished the damn shirt. And then it got cold and rainy here in Ohio, which meant that going down into a ravine was probably only going to result in one or both of us winning a Darwin Award rather than any blog-worthy photos, so we waited. Then this Sunday, the weather gods shined down upon us with sunshine and mild Fall temperatures!

Bird Mural

Bird Mural

Fashion is about climbing on stuff, right?

Fashion is about climbing on stuff, right?

Senior portrait pose

Senior portrait pose

One of our favorites of the day...

One of our favorites of the day…

Side view + some nature

Side view + some nature

Another favorite!

Another favorite!

A back view

A back view

I wish I could fit in this pipe!

I wish I could fit in this pipe!

Using props to our advantage

Using props to our advantage

The shirt really pops!

This amazing slate wall made the best backdrop of all!

This amazing slate wall made the best backdrop of all!

The color of the shirt really pops in these!

Gotta use a bridge when it's there!

Gotta use a bridge when it’s there!

A walk-away shot on the way back to the car

A walk-away shot on the way back to the car

(Really quick note: every photo in this post was taken on a cell phone with no filter or settings adjustments.)

The blouse is another Marfy 3093. I LOVE this pattern, you guys! This time I made it in a hammered silk (I bought it from the same lady who sold me the chambray I used for Marfy 1.0) and while I did a decent job, there are things I wish had gone better. I should have listened to my gut and done a starch or gelatin treatment first, because this stuff got shifty. But overall, I am very happy with the result. I used some precious vintage shell buttons ca. 1930’s and they’re perfect for this shirt. The only thing I did differently to V 1.0 was to leave off the pocket flaps (and accompanying buttons) and remember to french seam the front shoulder seams. I am done with this pattern for the time being–it’s a pretty unique shirt, after all–and will be moving on to other stuff in my FW ’15/16 queue.

My only regret about these photos is the way I styled myself and the blouse. In person, I totally looked like an extra from a 1990’s music video from the waist up!! It was mostly my makeup (lipstick, in particular) combined with the shiny finish of the shirt–both looked great on their own merits, but together they weren’t what I was going for AT ALL! Hopefully that doesn’t come across in the photos to people who aren’t me, but I certainly can’t un-see it, LOL!

Yeah yeah, we get it: but what about the Better Pictures Project thing? Here’s what we did:

So, I’m biased, but these are without a doubt the best photos I’ve ever posted to this blog. We chose a¬†time of day¬†(10:30AM) with plenty of natural light–critical in such a heavily wooded and earthy area–and the added benefit of next to no foot or bike traffic, since it was a Sunday. You may have noticed¬†the distinct absence of a Mulder cameo in these photos. ūüė¶ Ultimately, it just wasn’t a good idea to try to have him along while we were climbing around on slippery rocks and earthen banks and focusing so much on the quality of the composition and lighting. He really loves this park (he “helped” scout, after all!) so we will take him back again, just not when it’s “Mommy Daddy Happy Photo Time.”¬†And you guys, we haven’t even been to the entire park yet!!! Endless possibilities for the entire family. ūüėÄ

So Phase 1: know when and where to go, and when to leave the dog at home.

Phase 2: Challenges

I think we really did a good job of achieving most of our goals for this conscious attempt at improving our pictures. Obviously the primary objective–finding a TNT photo location close to home–was achieved, and we’re thrilled about that! We knew we wanted to¬†incorporate¬†the features of our site as much as possible, and I think we did that pretty¬†well. There were some areas we would have liked to use more, but either the lighting wasn’t working out or the extra water from the rain the day before made it too annoying or hazardous to attempt what we had in mind. The bird tunnel is a prime example of a lighting issue: in real life, there was lots of light pouring into the tunnel from outside, but that did not translate to the photos. The shot I posted above is the one and only workable shot we got from that site, and it’s pretty dark (and I’m fucking slouching…grrrrr)! Another issue we ran into was my dislike/fear of nature–I do NOT do nature, folks. I am a strictly indoor nerd. So there were some points during the shoot where I was eager to get out of the setup because OMG THE NATURE IS TOUCHING ME AND CHRIST ON SALE IS THAT A BUG?!?!?, which translated to stiff poses and short sittings. And, like any sensible human who wants to live, I was not super keen on the slippery-ness of some of our settings due to the rain; that, unlike my seething hatred of the great outdoors, will not always be the case, thankfully.

Phase 3: It’s not you, it’s me

Tom, bless him, has really found a love for taking photos by helping me with this blog. He even wants to get a proper camera at some point! He probably has more fun than I do on these shoots!! Tom¬†is a great amateur photographer, IMO. In addition to having a great eye and¬†tons of creativity, he is adventurous and very willing to roll with whatever happens while we’re shooting, which makes for a relatively easy and fun experience. It also leads to some unexpectedly awesome photos and settings! What he needs, frankly, is a better model. I really have to work on feeling comfortable in front of a camera: I never know what to do with my body!! I feel like I look uncomfortable and awkward most of the time, and I want to change that. I need to work on poses that feel natural enough to me while still looking interesting; I’m not necessarily going for editorial here, but I do want to take cool, creative photos of me faffing about in my handmade clothes, so whatever. I need to practice my poses and faces before we go out for a shoot, and perhaps invest in some practice time with Tom to see how things photograph before the “real deal” gets underway.¬†Do any of you have suggestions for or advice on posing for photos? Do you ever feel awkward having your photo taken?

Here are a few ton more from our shoot: enjoy! And seriously, please weigh in with how you think we did: input is welcome and appreciated!

Inception: Blog Photography Edition

Inception: Blog Photography Edition

Admiring the nature from a safe distance

Admiring the nature from a safe distance

Much casual. Wow.

Much casual. Wow.

Branchy branch

Branchy branch

Pensive walking

Pensive walking

Probably shouldn't have touched that water, tbh...

Probably shouldn’t have touched that water, tbh…

I got my silk shirt dirty for this one. O_o

I got my silk shirt dirty for this one. O_o

"Mads" in the wild

“Mads” in the wild

Reflection

Reflection

"Fabric Sale Ahoy!"

“Fabric Sale Ahoy!”

There's a smile!

There’s a smile!

Camera-shy

Camera-shy

I totally match my living room. #sorrynotsorry

“Mads” for Marfy 3093 (aka B*tch Made A Button-Up)

Howdy, internet people!

I have a thing to show off–hooray! This particular thing is one¬†I’m rather proud of, because it’s from a Marfy pattern. Marfy, if you are uninitiated, is a line of patterns that tend to be the purview of more adventurous and/or advanced sewers. They can be purchased in a few ways: via the Vogue website (not all Marfy patterns are available that way), the Marfy website (again, not exhaustive), or by ordering their annual catalog (see Marfy’s website). When you order, you get only one size; the pattern arrives pre-cut, folded into a rectangular packet. The kicker? No seam allowances, no hem allowances, and NO INSTRUCTIONS. You’ll get markings for grainlines, notches, buttonholes, etc., and a few hints as to where certain pieces attach to one another, but that’s it. Apart from that, Marfy tend to offer beyond-a-beginner patterns, and some of their stuff is really complex. Their bridal patterns are legendary. Once I saw a version of this blouse–3093–at¬†poppykettle, I knew I had to have it. A few weeks ago I bought a big piece of heavier-than-average chambray at a lady’s stash sale for $3 with this pattern in mind–behold!

Front--plenty of buttons!

Front–plenty of buttons!

A better view of those sleeve tabs

A better view of those sleeve tabs

Back view; how about that curved yoke??? <3

Back view; how about that curved yoke??? ‚̧

Full-length shot

Full-length shot

Hanging out with my shirt and my blurry dog...

Hanging out with my shirt and my blurry dog…

I made a straight size 42 in this pattern with no adjustments whatsoever, apart from some extra length at the bottom. (I did make a muslin first.) 42 is the smallest Marfy size this pattern comes in, and even though a 40 would be closer to my measurements, I ended up liking the roominess of this size.

I’m going to come right out and say it: this pattern was not difficult! I think that’s down to the fact that this isn’t one of their more advanced patterns, like a cocktail or bridal dress; I mean, my skills have improved quite a bit since I finished my first-ever garment back in 2013 (which, OMG, simultaneously seems like it was yesterday and forever ago!), but I am not prepared to give myself that much credit for this pattern¬†resulting in a great shirt. The drafting was absolutely excellent, which is in line with Marfy’s reputation. One word of warning though, if you feel like making this exact pattern: it is LOW. LOWWWWWWW. Camisoles are mandatory, folks. Unless of course you have a life and/or job where your bra and tits are¬†allowed to show their faces at will, in which case, I fucking envy you.

My

My “My tits should not be this close to showing in public” face.

I even wore my loudest bra–blue leopard!–for this shoot, thinking it would show up when I demo’d the low front. And while my bra decided to be camera-shy, trust me: we were close. Tom made sure to note that any time I moved, he could see it. So keep this in mind if you pursue 3093.

**WARNING: Word dump imminent.**

So, even though I am inclined to give the exceptional pattern most of the credit today, I did take quite a lot of care with this project. We’re talking chalk outlines, thread-tracing those chalk outlines, and¬†marking¬†all important items with a different thread color: think buttonholes, the roll line for the lower collar, the shoulder position (which was very necessary because of the yoke–no shoulder seam!), which side of the sleeve was the front, pocket placements, etc. After¬†all that, I went through and added seam allowances with my seam gauge. I did 5/8″ everywhere, to facilitate french seams. I added 1″ of sleeve hem allowance and 1 1/2″ of body hem allowance. The bias hem facing only ate about 1/2″ of that, which is good because I needed that extra 1″ or so.

I drafted a back neck facing–the pattern does NOT have one–for a cleaner finish in that spot, and I am very pleased with how that worked. The undercollar got put on the bias to ensure a good roll. I interfaced the upper collar, but kept my interfacing out of the seam allowances. Looking back, I sort of wish I had interfaced the front facings as well, but I gave those roll lines a good press and am happy with how they sit. This, along with the above paragraph, was all stuff I did before sewing one stitch on the machine! Needless to say, this project felt like it took forever and I expended a lot of mental energy making sure my prep work was up to scratch. And it’s just a chambray¬†shirt!!! ūüôā But it’s a¬†Marfy¬†chambray shirt, so I wanted to make sure I gave myself every chance to be successful. Which reminds me: PRESS YOUR SHIT, guys. It’s so important and it makes a huge difference. I pressed every. single. seam. I sewed on this blouse and was amazed at how much more professional everything looked once that step was done.

When it comes to construction, I did my french seams nearly everywhere that I intended to, with the yoke seams at the front being my most shameful exception. No good excuse for that one, guys–I got really caught up in making sure those front pleats faced the right way and utterly forgot to french that area. The back yoke was another tricky spot, so I just pressed¬†the yoke seam allowance under and edgestitched that motherfucker. The armscyes are another area I didn’t french, but that was according to plan–I didn’t feel like messing with that, frankly. I know it’s possible, but I felt like I’d done my fair share of tedious bullshit for this shirt already. For all these un-frenched areas, I zig-zagged the seam allowances close to the stitching line and trimmed them down. I tell myself that, from far away, it looks like serger stitches. LOLOLOL. ūüėČ

The only photo I have of the innards, for some reason

The only photo I have of the innards, for some reason

As for instructions, I double-checked myself only one time (yay!), and that was to make sure I sewed the sleeve tabs to the appropriate side of the sleeve, since I’d never made them before this. They go on the inside and your buttons go on the outside, FTR. ūüôā (The post I referred to was on Dixie DIY; I literally just needed to know which side of the sleeve to sew the tabs to, and one look at the post of hers that came up on Google made it obvious. Yay!) If you have some solid garment construction experience, and especially if you’ve ever successfully done a collar and facing insertion, you can absolutely handle this blouse. Although, if anyone wants to know what I did here (order of construction, etc.), just ask in the comments and I’ll share. I just didn’t want to make this textbook of a post any longer than it is already!

I guess the moral of the story here, apart from “Mads has a new shirt to parade around in, hooray!”, is that you should not be afraid to try something just because you know it might be hard. Maybe don’t start with¬†fabric that has sentimental value or that you would be sad to ruin, but just get in there and try things. As long as you learn something, it was probably worth doing. If you get to a point with your sewing where you think, “Gosh, this pattern seems difficult,¬†but I feel like I could do that,” then DO IT. Personally, even though I think this pattern was simple enough for me to tackle, I felt AMAZING when I looked at the finished¬†shirt and realized that I had done a good job on a Marfy pattern. Finishing this project has even made me reconsider how I “rate” my skills…I have always considered myself a beginner, but I’m wondering now if I have finally surpassed that classification.¬†Do you categorize your sewing skills this way? Did you have that “ah-ha!” moment when you realized you had crossed over to the next level?

We had another great shoot for this blouse–Tom really likes taking photos!–so here are some extras. (And seriously, I say “shoot,” but this whole process took 15 minutes at most.) Some are silly, some are “arty,” and one of them (of me, mid-strip down) is both. ūüôā

“Haven’t you guys ever seen an album cover? You’re supposed to be standing in random places, looking away like you don’t care!”

“Dude, what were we doing again?”

“Mulder, come here!!”

“Good boy!!!!”

Is my dog the only one obsessed with lipstick??

Is my dog the only one obsessed with lipstick??

My dog should be a model...

My dog should be a model…

Sunbeam

Sunbeam

Artful strip-down: A Lifetime Original Movie

Artful Sunset Stripping: A Lifetime Original Movie

What, you mean you don't flit around your house like this??

What, you mean you don’t flit around your house like this??

If you’re still with me, thanks so much for checking in with my silliness–see you soon! ‚̧

Supplies:

Approx. 2-2.5 yds chambray
9 plastic buttons in two sizes (courtesy of a lovely sewing friend)
Marfy 3093
White Gutermann polyester thread