So A Sundress and A Sweater Walk Into A Blog…

Hi! It’s been a little while, huh? You know, I naively thought that my summer would calm the f*ck down after Memorial Day, but I still had too much going on for my liking! (Some of this is stuff I do to myself, like agreeing to participate in an event.) Fall didn’t slow down much either, especially since we WENT ON VACATION ABROAD!!! What?!? I know. Don’t worry, I’ll share that soon. 😀

I haven’t had quite as much time for sewing lately; between stress from work (my role was assigned to a new manager and I feel ways about that…), stress from life, and continuing to struggle with my mental health, it’s been hard to feel creative. And as far as blogging goes, it’s been hard to get motivated to take photos of things once I did finish them. O_o On top of that, I started selling out writing blog posts for my company’s website this year: you’d be surprised how fast that can steal the fun of blogging about a hobby, but here we are.

That said, I did sign up for a block of the month quilt project in August and have been keeping up with it. And it’s easy to take photos of quilt blocks: they just lie there as I loom over them with my phone! 😀 I am definitely not a quilter, but when I saw this pattern–an exclusive at my around-the-corner sewing shop–I had to make it. As you might expect, this project is very EXTRA considering that it’s my first quilt:

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Koala cuteness!

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Flamingo and Turtle butts!

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Blocks 1 and 2 joined

The entire top design! (Photo property of Dabble & Stitch/Cassandra Ireland Beaver)

Here is a link to a photo of the actual quilt top sample–I can’t wait to have mine finished and on our bed…in a year! I’m planning on paying for the designer to quilt mine just like the sample. Personally, I think I will get more out of spending money on that service than I would out of doing the work myself. O_o #notaquilter

But let’s rewind, because I have made quite a few other things since my last summer post. Two of those projects were accessories I made to take on vacation, which I will share soon; two others are the garments you’ll see below! (The other others were costume shirts for the vintage and costume shop–8 in total.)

First up, my 3rd Style Arc Ariana dress!

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Cute dress, shame about the face!

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Back view

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Buttons!

I want you all to know that it was barely 55 degrees when we took these photos the other day: I suffered for you!! 😉

I can’t say enough good things about this pattern. I made two last year, and I would actually like to make at least a 4th one–it’s that good. This rayon crepe fabric was destined to be an Ariana the minute I bought it. It’s perfect, if a bit lightweight. For my bodice lining, I chose to use leftovers from my last Blaire shirt. This was kind of a bad choice, in that the fabrics behave quite differently to each other; but it worked out okay in the end, and there’s no risk of print (or nip!) show-through here.

There are a few dumb mistakes on display with this new dress, namely on the skirt buttons. Originally, I made this dress because I wanted to wear it to an out-of-town family thing this past July. I was actually ahead of schedule–yay!–which meant I was thisclose to having my dress done in time for a last-minute dinner I was invited to in June. I won’t get into it, but it was a (casual) dinner full of strangers who were Important People at an event I was helping with that month. While eating meals in front of other people is one of my actual worst nightmares, I wanted to attend to make a good impression and meet everyone ahead of the event. I don’t know about you all, but I always feel much more confident in a self-made garment when interacting with Important People and/or New People and/or People Who Stress Me Out. So anyway, buttons and buttonholes were all that stood between me and feeling my best at this dinner. The day of the dinner (yep…) I pulled out the front bodice pattern piece to see how far apart my buttons were supposed to be, marked the dress, and got to work. Unfortunately, I forgot that the skirt buttons are spaced farther apart than the bodice ones for Very Good Reasons. I used the correct number of buttons, but the skirt opened far higher than it should because the buttons were too close together! D’oh. Before my next event–the one I was originally making this dress for–I went back and added 2 more skirt buttons. The buttons, by the way, are from Bennos and are made of coconut shell. I love them and will for sure have to buy more when I run out.

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Twirling

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Derp

I also neglected to stay stitch my necklines, which I should have done at least on the shell; there’s some slight gaping around the curves. (It doesn’t help that I put my top buttonhole too close to the edge, so now I actually need to move the button over a bit to compensate.) The pockets aren’t my best work either, namely because I decided to try flat-lining them in the bodice lining fabric. They’re pretty sloppy at the bottom hems. 😦 My hope is that they pass the “3-foot” rule and nobody else will really notice. I mean, in the above photos you can’t even really see the pockets, so I think we’re good!

And now for something totally different: a knitted sweater!

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Bear and Dog

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Half-brioche faux seams

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Back view–love those triangle details!

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Weeeeee!

This is the Ursa sweater by Jacqueline Cieslak. Jacquie is a fairly new knitwear designer but she definitely has a talent for it! Her instructions are really good, and I especially appreciate the way she breaks down your total stitch count between the front, back, and raglans here. It makes counting them up so much more intuitive!

I did modify this sweater a bit by lengthening it: it’s quite a cropped sweater and is even shorter on long torsos! I didn’t want to have to wear a shirt under it, or be limited to wearing it over dresses. In all I think I added about 4″ to the length before starting the triangle insets. Sadly I need to properly block it in order for that extra length to really “count”: it’s still in over-dresses-only territory. While knitting this I had to pay attention to my mechanics on the half-brioche parts: my method of knitting actually positioned the YOs on top of their companion stitch, so I had to re-orient those stitches when it came time to knit them. My first start on this sweater revealed the issue, so I frogged it back and started again. After that, it was looking exactly like the pattern (albeit a bit more open)!

My gauge is off on this sweater. My stitch gauge tends to work up tighter than a pattern’s specifications, and this is no exception: my sweater doesn’t have the same boxy fit that the samples have. Plus, with my broad shoulders and upper back, the raglan shoulders on the size I made are getting stretched to the max! My fabric also seems a bit looser/more open than Jacquie’s samples, probably because my yarn is kind of in between Aran and Bulky and probably needed a smaller needle than what I used (the US10.5 listed in the pattern); this is moreso on the row gauge but does show up on the half-brioche areas too.  So for future versions, I will probably need to go up at least one if not two sweater sizes for my shoulders and maybe drop my needle size (which may necessitate going up yet another sweater size). I’ll play with things and see, but I would love another Ursa or two in my life!

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Still handsome

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Admiring glance

Ironically, the sweater itself was out of season when I made it–in fact, Ohio was in the middle of a news-making heat wave about the time I finished–and now the temps are cool enough that I need to figure out how to style my pink (Ariana!) dress with tights and boots if I want to wear it. D’oh!

As far as current projects go, I have my Halloween costume underway (one piece is done!) and a non-costume Halloween-y dress cut out. I also have another sweater project going, so I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied for now. I’m excited for “proper” fall sewing though: I want to make SO MANY trousers!!

What are you sewing (or knitting!) right now? Do you have any tried-and-true tricks for deciding what to make next?

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? 😉

 

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?

 

 

Pants on Parade (aka Lander Bandwagon Goals)

Hello again, friends! This post has been in Draft mode since February!!!! First it was because I was working my way through ALL THE LANDERS, and then they got pushed aside for other projects; then there were photos to get (not so easy in the winter when your heart is set on outdoor pictures!), and then the post grew to over 2500 words because I am a technical maniac and I kept trying to edit it down and failing. O_o I try to give you details when I make adjustments or run into something that I think is noteworthy, but I also know that most people don’t like reading that many words in a blog post. 😦 So bear with me, this is a long post despite my best efforts!

As I said, today I’m sharing some pants–the US English version, not the UK English version, so you’re welcome. 😉 I started this post during construction of the first pair, and finally have photos of all 4 pairs–the final pair of shorts took me ages to get photos of! No idea why, but I lacked motivation.

So without further ado, here I am, jumping on the Lander bandwagon in rather spectacular fashion:

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Resting Bitch Face (Feel free to white-balance your monitors on my bangs and/or skin, LOL!)

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Crotch

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Back view

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Side

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Trying to look casual

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Surly

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Rear view, complete with slight wedgie…

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Checking my wrinkled self out…

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Moody

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Shorts!

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Tight shorts…

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Cuffs!

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Back view, minus the vacuum-sealed look… O_o

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Hooray for #sewingleftovers

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Jump!

Okay, so 2 pairs are shorts. But…

LANDER PANTS!!! You guys, I love them. I am mentally planning more pairs already!

As someone who plans to wear skinny jeans forever despite their “no longer cool” status and a general skepticism of OPPPs (Other People’s Pants Patterns), I admit that I was instantly all about the design of the Lander pattern. It struck me as a good balance between a 70’s style and modern trends. The shape of the legs isn’t too wide, either–I cannot handle WIDE pants. Obviously I made and wear my TPC6 trousers, but those have a very unique style and shape; they were definitely an exception to my rule(s)!

I cheated a bit with these Landers: I made them all out of stretch twill. Originally, the plan was to make View B of the Lander pattern in the wine color–it’s not my go-to shade of red or purple, but I thought it would make nice trousers. I only ended up with this many Landers because I thought it was a good idea to test the crotch adjustments I made by making a pair of shorts out of the colorway I liked the least–the tan. And then it kind of snowballed into, “Hmm, that went well, and tan trousers would be pretty wearable…” and “While I’m here, I might as well make the wine pair too, since that was the entire point…” and finally “Fuck it, I have so much extra fabric left that I kinda have to make wine shorts too…” shit-show of sewing the same thing 4 times in a row. O_o But at least I made use of my leftovers, eh?

Fitting Notes

As I mentioned, fit adjustments were most definitely made. Pants can be daunting to fit, partly because it’s labor-intensive to work out how your crotch is shaped in 2 dimensions. Luckily for me, I have a pants block made from my RTW skinny jeans (I am very, very lucky that many RTW jeans are capable of fitting my body well) that I can use for a comparison against any fitted crotchal region. 😉 (I didn’t do that against my TPC6 trousers because the crotch is not fitted against my body.)

Here is your periodic reminder that I am not a drafting expert by any stretch; I use my block because it is easier than fussing with someone else’s draft, and typically I am content to just work from that block without getting too analytical about a given crotch draft unless something is really, really appalling and obvious. Perhaps someone out there will feel that I am doing a disservice by just getting on with things that way, but at the end of the day I am only an expert on my own body and how I like clothes to fit it. I won’t waste my time analyzing something that I’m not even really using, if that makes sense. YMMV, of course.

ANYWAYYYYYY…

Most of my changes were made to the back pieces, which I expected. I started from a size 0 because it was the closest to my measurements. I forgot to get a photo of the back leg piece before I cut it up to match my block, but suffice it to say that there was a serious difference in shape!

The tan shorts were my guinea pigs; I took a big ol’ wedge out of the center back, and shaved a little bit off the front crotch as well. They fit GREAT until I had to wash them the first time (long story; the short version is they got dirty when I put the buttons in) and are now really snug. They also shrank vertically, so I spend a lot of time pulling them out of my labial region. 😦 The upside? I put the other 2 colorways of this fabric through a second wash and dry cycle before cutting things out!

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See? Tight. They’ve since relaxed a bit more and are fit for polite society…

I made a few adjustments to the first pair of pants versus these shorts, mainly for insurance purposes. The tan pants are looser in the waist and hips than I was originally aiming for (what can I say? I like stuff tight…), but I thought they looked pretty good–if slightly frumpy–so I left them alone. The wine pants are…tight. I definitely over-corrected after being slightly disappointed with the tan pair, LOL. Having very different waist and hip measurements makes pants a challenge when you like stuff tight and hate belts. There is a lot of wiggling required to pull up that wine pair of pants but I make it work!! O_o

A note on the rise and length: I am about 5′ 8.5″ and the Landers–and all True Bias patterns–are drafted for a height of 5’5″. Height and proportions are not the same thing, and I know that my extra height is mostly concentrated in my torso (and my giraffe neck). When I used to buy clothing, I never needed “Long” sized pants–just the “Regular” length. With all that in mind, I didn’t make any changes for length to the rise or crotch depth of the Landers (again, THANK YOU, PANTS BLOCK!), though I did take a smaller hem than indicated based on my personal length preference. Knowing how your body’s vertical proportions are distributed is vitally important in getting a good fit, and you can’t assume a pattern is proportioned like you are just because the draft height matches your own. (Case in point: I always need to lengthen bodices/tops, even on Named patterns, whose base height is nearly identical to my own.)

Finally, I want to reiterate what’s up with the wrinkles along the front crotch/pelvic area, particularly on the wine pants. My front thighs (and, to a lesser extent, hip bones) stick out further than my lower abdomen and pubic bone, which results in an excess of fabric over the center of my pubic/uterine region that manifests itself in these lines. This is a typical thing for me with snug-fitting pants, as you can see in the difference between the two pairs of pants in this post. (It’s also way worse-looking in photos than in real life, since most photos capture all kinds of shadows because I’m just standing there.) I have the same lines on RTW and self-made skinny jeans too–it’s not exclusive to the Landers.

The side-view photos show my thighs projecting forward.

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Wrinkles

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They do not look this bad IRL, I promise!

 

There are adjustments you can make to address this, if you are so inclined; personally, I find this not to be worth my time so long as the crotch fit is comfortable and the pants are wearable. I’m pointing it out (again) because I don’t want anyone to think I don’t know they’re there!

Other Adjustments

Aside from the fit, I did make some other changes to my Landers. I added 1.5″ to the hem of the shorts legs; I also drafted* cuffs for the shorts. The cuffs were sewn on 1/2″ above the raw edges of the shorts legs to get the length I wanted. (So that’s a net gain of 1″ in length, plus whatever the original hem allowance for the shorts was.)

*Seriously, it hardly qualifies as drafting: it’s a damn rectangle. 

This isn’t necessarily a fit adjustment either, but let’s talk about the back pockets for a minute. Unusually, the back pockets are graded in groups–there are 3 sizes you can cut. I cut the pocket commensurate with my pattern size, and I knew going in that they were designed to be oversized as a styling element. What I didn’t know was how the pocket size would work with the size of my ass…by which I mean it didn’t. At all. Behold:

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Pocket: 1, Butt: 0 (Also: note how nice these shorts were before I accidentally shrank them!)

My entire ass cheek is obscured by the pocket!! (And yes, that’s with the seam allowances folded back.) Not a good look, IMO. Using lightweight cardboard, I made a template for a new size. I took about 1″ off the height and width of the pockets; they’re still slightly taller than they are wide, just like the originals, but now they don’t cover up my whole butt. (Just most of it. Sad, “butt” true. 😉 #buttpuns) Placement was tricky, as the pattern marking for the top inner corner got removed from the back shorts leg piece by my crotch curve adjustment! I got my back trouser leg pieces out and measured the original distances from the center seam (since I hadn’t cut the changes into the paper yet). Then I checked a pair of my homebrew jeans and decided that the Lander placement was close enough to work, so I slapped them on there and sewed them down. I think the size is good, but wish I’d moved them in about 3/8″ more on the pants.

Construction Notes

I didn’t really follow the directions when making these. (What a shock!) I didn’t line the front pockets–it just felt unnecessary, especially for a pair of casual pants. I made bias strips out of my twill and used them to bind the top pocket edges, topstitching from the outside to seal the binding.

The front fly is left until nearly the end of the construction order in the directions; I opted to do mine how I do my jeans, which is in the earlier phases of construction. I used my own method combined with the one from the directions.

I did try a new waistband construction method for all these Landers, courtesy of Amber @soisewedthis. Basically, you sew the facing side down first, and then when you topstitch from the right side there’s no worry about sealing the inside. IT IS AWESOME. Thank you Amber!! (I am still working on the front lower corners though–they don’t turn out so great for me.)

True Bias includes a pattern piece for making all the belt carriers, but I just made my own like I would for jeans. (I like a finished width of about 3/8″, personally.) My topstitching thread is Gutermann Mara 30, which is the same as the stupid tiny spools you can buy at Jo-Ann but which comes in much bigger spools (and in more colors) for less money on Wawak. 😉 (NAYY)

The pants are both View B, the cropped version. (Full length wide-leg pants are right out for me.) As previously noted, I did not make any height or rise adjustments to this pattern (again, my block is my savior), and I took a 2″ hem instead of a 3″ as instructed. I simply picked a length I was happy with, as cropped trousers are something I find to be tricky when it comes to finding the most flattering* hem length. But looking at the product photos from True Bias, I think mine are basically the same as the sample for View B.

*As I perceive it on my own body–YMMV

I used jeans buttons for the 3 button fly pairs because I like the look, and don’t own any other buttons that I’d want up the front of my pants. 😉 Shout-out to all my Instagram friends who helped me pick which color to use for the wine pants: you guys are the best! 😀

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Copper won, but gold wasn’t far behind!

Conclusion

Making these shorts and pants was a little bit of an adventure, but it was worth it! I love them all. It’s fun having a new shape in my pants wardrobe. I’d love a denim blue pair as well! As for the shorts, it’s great to have nice-looking pairs that double as office-appropriate on Fridays. 😀

And now, in the great “Mads” House tradition, here are outtakes and .gifs!

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Testing a new photography toy

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Coquette

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Leap!

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Had a little bonfire going, too!

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Literally the closest I can get to climbing a tree…

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Gotcha!!

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Roughhousing

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Doggo!

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Had to do a #landerpantsdance for you

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Jumping, now in .gif!

Seriously, I aim to be the queen of .gifs in the sewing blogging world. 😉

Now that I’m caught up with long-finished stuff, I will be sharing proper summer sewing next!

In Which The Blogger Wears A Cupcake Wrapper

Hello out there! You guys, I have had a couple of posts in Draft mode for months but haven’t been motivated to finish them or get photos in a timely manner–lazy blogger alert! 😉

What have I been up to? Apart from the usual life stuff, I have actually been sewing quite a bit! I’ve made 19–NINETEEN!!!!!–things since I last wrote, with 2 more in progress. 11 of the 19 weren’t even for me: Tom got 6 new baseball tees (aka Easy Palate Cleansers), and someone I love got 4 adaptive tops ahead of a moved-up medical procedure, followed by a Driftless cardigan to celebrate her ongoing recovery. I have photos of 0 of those things, LOL. I may share Tom’s t-shirts eventually, depending on whether 1.) They are all clean at the same time for photos (highly unlikely) and 2.) We feel like it. I do kinda have my heart set on a .gif of him where he stands still and his t-shirt changes though!

As for me, I have 3 pairs of Lander pants/shorts to show you (photos are done, post is mostly done but I keep re-writing it because it was over 2500 words and UGH), plus 4 Driftless cardigans, plus this thing today. There is one thing I made that I’m not going to write a standalone post for, because it is far from my best work sewing-wise:

That’s a ponte dress made from M6886 and modified to have a split hem and elbow-length sleeves. I made every possible mistake on that project, which was a last-minute thing because I had a gig and was panicking about what to wear. O_o (For instance: I confused the CB seam I added for a side seam and sewed it up accordingly, on the serger to boot. FUUUUUUUUUUUUU.)

But anyway, on to my most recent project! This thing proved to be a queue-jumper, both sewing-wise and blogging-wise: I bought and printed the pattern last Friday, and finished the dress this Saturday. 😀

Presenting the Myosotis dress, View A, from Deer & Doe!

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So fashun

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A Twirl in 4 parts…1

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…2

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…3

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…4

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Back view, now with creepy grabby claw hands

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Cupcake Wrapper

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Obligatory “Thanks, it has pockets” photo

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Yep, I can still see my feet…

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Slightly evil?

Surely I’m not the only one who gets these weird, immediate urges to sew something specific RIGHT NOW, am I? That’s exactly what happened with this project; I totally overlooked the pattern on its (very recent) release day, but then got sucked in so completely that I shamelessly copied the sample. I was so desperate to make this thing that I even put the PDF together myself instead of waiting for a copy shop or print version. Yep, that’s right: I couldn’t wait to make a big white ruffled muumuu. 😉

I wasn’t kidding when I said I copied their sample: they linked the fabric they used (a white-on-white seersucker from Fabric.com, of all places) and I bought it. Normally I really dislike seersucker–I don’t want my clothes to look like they’ve been slept in and re-worn sans ironing–but I thought the added texture would help this dress feel more interesting. And honestly, I still dislike seersucker, or at least this one: this shit feels like thick paper towels. O_o But I think the texture works with the design and don’t regret the choice; I have about 1 or 1.5 yards left over though (D&D calls for 3.25 yards and I bought 4 because I was reading the 45″ width requirements, derp) and I really, really don’t know what to do with it. UGH.

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My fave photo of the dress “floofed” out!

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Swish swish

Pattern Notes

This was my first-ever Deer & Doe pattern. (I know, right?) On the whole, I’m really pleased with it! The PDF was fairly compact for a full dress–29 pages–and the pages lined up beautifully. All the pieces fit together pretty well (more on that later) and overall, I felt that the product was professional and well done.

I made a size 34. The only pattern adjustment I made was to add 1″ of length to the bodice; the darts were hitting me in the right place, so I opted to add it at the waist. Mostly I wanted insurance: this pattern has a raised waistline but I didn’t want to be in empire waist or pregnancy speculation territory! (Plus their brand ambassador is 5’8″ and she lengthens their bodices too, so I felt like this was the right call.) I snooped finished Myosotis dresses on Instagram and saw that some people were getting drag lines at the shoulder near the collar, so I made sure to check the shoulder slope and back measurements before beginning; I didn’t make any adjustments there. The dress is a little tough to get on and off, since the waist is closed and I have broad shoulders. (My waist might be smaller than the dress’s, but my shoulders definitely aren’t!) If I’m being really picky, I could use a hollow chest adjustment along the front opening: it sits away from my body a bit.

I kept the skirt short (i.e., unchanged from the pattern), mostly to keep it from feeling frumpy. Needless to say, I am SUPER GLAD I added that inch to the waist, because this thing is short! And the waistline is still quite above my natural waist–by about 2″. But the dress easily passes the “fingertip test,” so it’s office-appropriate in my opinion. (Having short limbs for your height DOES have some advantages!)

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Okay, “bump watch” scenario has not been totally avoided…

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Note to self: do not jump around in this thing at work.

Construction

Myosotis is a really simple project, particularly if you’ve made button-up shirts or shirtdresses before. I sewed the entire thing on Saturday, complete with multiple breaks. (I did cut it out on a different day though, which helped!) I did as much as I could with my serger; french seams would have been too bulky, and I wanted finished edges to prevent fraying. I did NO hand sewing for this project: the hems are topstitched, and even my buttons are sewn on by machine. (Seriously, I do not know why I waited so long to use the button foot that came with my machine–IT IS AMAZING.)

The directions were fine, though I pretty much just read through them once and then went about my business. I didn’t use their collar method, because the Four Square Walls method is still usable for a Mandarin collar and that’s my preferred way. (Having said that, the collar isn’t my best. Womp womp.) I think the open neckline is really pretty; it balances the volume of the rest of the dress and puts a bit more skin in the mix, which I like. My front bodices aren’t as sharply angled at the turn as the sample or line art, so I may not have clipped far enough into the seam; I blame the white-on-white-on-white situation going on, plus sewing at night with sub-optimal lighting–it was hard to tell the difference between thread and seersucker after a while! 😉

My biggest disappointment, apart from inadvertently making a dress out of paper towels, is the gathering. I bought a gathering foot for my machine, but we will need to spend some quality time getting to know each other because we…weren’t instant friends. Plan B was to turn the needle tension up on my machine, which actually produced beautiful, even gathers. But when the time came to attach gathered stuff to non-gathered stuff, I was disappointed by how much I had to relax the gathering to get things to fit together. 😦 I expected capital-G Gathering, you know? So they aren’t very evenly distributed because I had to keep letting them out between the side seams. I get it: the pieces need to be wide to achieve the shape of the dress. But UGH. The only pieces I’m really pleased with are the sleeves, which look nicely–and intentionally–gathered.

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Some gathers…sorta.

Conclusions

Aside from a few complaints about the fabric and the gathers, I really am pleased with this project. It’s fun and easy to wear, and I think I did a good job on the sewing (distribution of the gathers aside). Plus it’s like nothing else I own, so it has that extra “novelty” appeal. I am sad that I can’t wear it home for hair appointments though, LOLOL. 😉

 

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“Meh, the shoes are okay I guess…”

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“Dude, you’re blocking my shoes.”

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“Come here, buddy!”

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Or don’t…

Honestly, I probably won’t make View B because it’s too plain for me–if I’m going oversized, it needs to have something going on–but might try View A again at some point. (In a flannel for Fall? Or a sleeveless version?) Maybe. Or maybe I’ll just make peace with paying $13 for a pattern I used one time and move on with my life!

And can I just say that I have never been happier NOT to be a vlogger? Because I cannot for the life of me figure out how the fuck to pronounce this pattern’s name. My-OS-otis? Me-OS-otis? Myo-SOTIS? Mitosis? Milo-and-Otis??? 😉

And now it’s time for OUTTAKES!!!!! And also a .gif, which may actually be the best one yet.

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Another blog, another jump FAIL

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Come on, lady! How hard is it to jump gracefully?!?

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UGH, Seriously?!?

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There ya go!!

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“I’m A Little Cupcake,” which is my version of “I’m A Little Teapot” meets Riverdance I guess…

Well folks, that’s it for me today! I should be back really soon with my Landers, which have been patiently waiting since FEBRUARY to get blogged. 😀