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!

 

These Are Clothes

Shout-out to Project Runway Season 9 Michael Kors, who used, “This doesn’t look like fashion, it just looks like…clothes!” as an insult, which inspired this title. 😉

Because I have a few repeat-pattern things to share today, I figured it was easiest to just throw them all into one post. And I’m just in time for the Sewcialists “TNT Month” theme, yay!

Ready? Here we go:

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I felt like I should have been on a boat in this outfit!

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…is this how people sit on boats?

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Frontal region

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#derpface

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#nowwith100percentmorederp

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A basic bitch in basic black…

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Yep, it’s a t-shirt!

These are my newest t-shirts! I made them with the Lark pattern, which is definitely my TNT for t-shirts. I love all the options, though I tend to stick to just a few of them (v-necks aren’t my favorite, either to sew or wear). I also love that, for a Grainline pattern, it’s quite long–I don’t have to lengthen it! The two striped ones are the drafted length (with about 5/8″ taken for a hem, I think? I don’t even know the pattern’s hem allowance…), but the black one was shortened about 2″ to make it more summery. One of these days, I will try making a more fitted version; I still feel frumpy in this weird middle ground between fitted and oversized! O_o

The navy/white Lark is bamboo/lycra jersey (Telio!), and the obnoxious yellow/navy one is a rayon/lycra jersey. The basic black tee is a tencel t-shirt knit that I previously used for an Inari a few months ago. I have to say that I’m not so pleased with how this last material is wearing: it pills very early into its life cycle. (And that’s from someone who will absolutely wear non-underwear things more than once before washing them whenever possible. O_o ) But that said, having a plain black un-cropped tee in my wardrobe again has been a lifesaver! Now I just need to make more, in a hardier material!

Meanwhile, I am putting together a list of “cool” knit top and dress patterns, because I feel like I’m wasting my bamboo/lycra jersey if I only ever make basic t-shirts with it! It drapes and stretches wonderfully, so I’m hoping to take full advantage of that with some twists and stuff. Ditto for the stash of wool/lycra jerseys I’ve built up. Watch this space! In the meantime, do you have any “cool” jersey top or dress pattern recommendations for me? I’d love to hear them!

And speaking of knit tops, here are 2 more:

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Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

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Loud-ass outfit

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How I feel about my tummy showing most of the time…

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It’s cooooooooooold

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Sulky Mads

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Back view, with an “oops”

These are Lexi A-line tops by Named (of course). Both are made from scuba knits, which I LOVE for cold-weather garments. I am always cold, and this shit doesn’t breathe: it’s like wearing insulation! 😉 You may have seen the lapis blue one with my TPC6 trousers, which is usually how I wear it. Even with my 1″ of length added at the bust, it’s just not long enough to wear to work with pants or bottoms that don’t come up to my waist. That’s why I made the blush version, which is 2″ longer (3″ longer than the draft of the pattern, because of my 1″ adjustment). Which brings me to…

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I’ve shown all the good front views for the tops, so here are some of the back!

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Close-up of the pockets

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Hems!

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Walking away

…more jeans!

That’s right, I made the ugly-ass pants in some of these photos, LOL! I kinda shot myself in the foot with these: I don’t think I’ll wear them much until Spring. To me, they don’t read as winter-appropriate and they’re kind of thin, but S/S18 will see them worn alllllllllllll over the place. I used my TNT self-made pattern, though this time I made a few tweaks:

  1. Enlarged those front pocket openings! They are now closer to the CF and cut down deeper as well. Much more proportional with the rise of the pants now! I made this change to the pattern itself.
  2. Shrunk the width of most of the pattern pieces above the full hip. This denim is really stretchy, and I knew if my last pair were too baggy at the waist, these would be a disaster! I actually made these changes to my pattern pieces, since they were needed after I cut the last pair anyway. I will have to watch out with future pairs, since stretch % is different for every denim!
  3. Despite 2., I still had to go back and take an additional inch out of the waist before attaching the waistband. O_o And they’re still a little bigger than I’d like in a couple of areas. But better too big than too small, eh?
  4. Omitted rivets and down-the-side bartacks and topstitching. I may go back and add these later, but felt the jeans were busy and tight enough to not need the embellishment. 😉
  5. Stupidly put the belt loops all the way on before finishing the waistband and facing. What I should have done is put the waistband on, baste my belt loops to it at the facing seam, and THEN sew on the facing, followed by topstitching the waistband and then bartacking the bottom ends of the loops to the jeans. I’m not happy with how the bottom of the loops look now and may go back and unpick them. 😦

Believe it or not, I bought this denim from Joann! I KNOW. I hardly ever find things there that I feel like I can’t leave the store without, in terms of fabric. (I am a spoiled USian, and prefer to shop online because #choices.) But my friend had this material and brought it to a sewing night, and I had to have it. The jeans zipper came from Zipper Stop, which I had shortened to 4″ for a fee. ($1 per zip, not bad.) The button came from either TaylorTailor or Wawak…I can’t remember!

I got a big assist from my Instagram friends when it came to picking a topstitching color for these jeans. I couldn’t decide what color would work best, but you guys came through! 😀 It’s perfect!

That will do it for me today–that’s a lot of crap clothes crammed into one post! But now I am basically all caught up: the black Lark tee and the Lexi tops were all made back in August, but weren’t blogged until now, and the jeans are from September. And I have one dress I made this summer that I didn’t blog because I don’t really like it and couldn’t get excited about writing a post for it, haha! It’s not that I want to pretend I don’t have FAILs, it’s just that I genuinely am not excited to write about that dress. Maybe for Fail February it will come out to play. 😉

As is customary around here, I have some outtakes for you! (Warning: .gif ahead)

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Running for warmth!

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Not a terrible photo, for once!

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That’s more like it! 😉

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Punching myself in the face, or fixing my Very Important hair?

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When will I learn that jumping doesn’t suit me?!?!?

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Calling this one the “TNT Happy Dance”

I don’t know what I’ll be back to share next, folks; it’s Totally Unnecessary Holiday Outfit season, which means I will be working (what’s left of) my ass off on something ridiculous for a one-night event. *eyeroll* But depending on how that goes, hopefully I’ll be back again soon with something fun!

A Tale of Two Tops

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

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

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

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

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

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Purple-iscious Lark tee!

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My face when we’re testing the lights

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

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Testing lights again…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Big orange sweater

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This face reflects how I feel about this top

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

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

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Wiggling.

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My flaps are fly as fuck.

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“Ughhh I can’t with this bitch…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spankin’ New Springtime Set (aka Jumping On The Scuba Bandwagon)

Hello, one and all!

I am pleased to inform the general internet population that I, Mads, have completed my first-ever item(s) in a scuba/neoprene knit! That alone probably makes this my trendiest sewing project ever. Shall we?

2-piece scuba set!

2-piece scuba set! Part Inari Crop Tee, part Shadi Knit Skirt

Bam, skin-tight skirt!

Bam, skin-tight skirt!

A shockingly good photo

A shockingly good photo

Peekaboo!!

Peekaboo!!

Isn’t it pretty????? This 2-piece set is brought to you by the Inari Crop Tee and Shadi Knit Skirt, both by Named Clothing. Apart from the same shoulder adjustment I made for my Inari dress, I also lengthened this top to account for my long torso. Well, actually, I cheated by using the pattern nesting to my advantage: the shoulders of the larger size (you get 2 sizes per PDF file with Named; I used the US 0/2 pair) are nested up higher, which means that the line for the hem of the smaller size ends up being lower on the page than that of the larger size. I just started at the top of the shoulders for the size 2 and followed the size 0 lines the rest of the way down. Doing that gave me just enough extra length to cover my midriff, provided I wear a bottom piece that comes up to my natural waist. Huzzah for work-appropriate crop tops!! One caveat: I did not take the 2″ hem allowance the pattern calls for–I did 1″ instead. I also cheated by abandoning the band finish recommended for necklines in stretchy fabrics and just turned and stitched it. (Incidentally, this is why my neckline looks a LOT different than the white knit sample on the Named site.)

Can we talk about the fabric for a minute? It’s SOOOOOOO beautiful. I really don’t think the photos can do it justice. If I could wallpaper a room in my house with this print, I would do it! And to me, the color palette is as quintessentially “SPRING” as it gets: bright magenta pink, deep mint green, a splash of cobalt blue, some white, and plenty of gray. And I was thrilled to realize that I had the perfect shade of obnoxious magenta lipstick to wear for my photos, as one does. 🙂

As mentioned previously, this was my first-ever attempt at using a scuba/neoprene knit. This stuff seems to be everywhere right now–RTW, runway, and the sewing world at-large–and I’ve been wanting to try it. Now that I’ve been there, done that, I can say that I understand the appeal. This length of beautiousness is probably on the lighter side of the scuba spectrum, but it’s definitely still heftier than any jersey I’ve ever met. I had tried to mentally prepare myself for the, er, “unique” tactile experience that I’d read reports of online, but I was still surprised by the feel of this material. It almost feels…melty? Sticky? Gooey? Like, if fabric could simultaneously feel like fabric with top-notes of melted taffy, it would be this stuff. Even Tom was mesmerized by its strange properties, and I had to cut off a small scrap to give to him so that he would stop fondling and petting the pieces I needed to work with for my outfit, lest he create a pull or snag on one of the important bits! (Thanks to the lovely Ms. Red at Sew RED-y, I knew snagging was a risk with this material–thanks, girl!) The fabric was SO easy to cut and sew (even without a serger), but pressing was dodgy due to the synthetic nature of the material; I turned my iron to the “Barely On” temperature setting and gave seams a quick press that way, but mostly I stuck to using the iron unplugged for applying pressure only. I need to do the armhole seams with a little warmth though–they’re still not laying quite right! And despite the strange hand-feel of the fabric, it was not unpleasant to wear (though I reserve the right to alter that opinion if I wear any of this outfit in truly hot weather). Even Mulder likes this fabric:

My face says,

My face says, “I love you, but don’t you dare snag my new outfit!”

Truth time: I don’t totally love this outfit, and I have not worn it yet apart from these photos. BUT, I suppose I do know what bothers me about it: I just am not 100% confident in it because of how body-con the skirt is. 😦 And I think the root of that disappointment lies in my previous experience with the Shadi–yes, I’ve made the pattern before and understand the shape of it, but since I badly mis-cut that first iteration, I assumed (LOL) that a correctly-cut version would not be as revealing or blush-inducing. I was clearly wrong. So now I have this skirt that I love in theory (THAT PRINT THO) but not so much in practice. I knew I was in trouble when I got the waistband done, tried it on, and then never hemmed it. In “The ‘Mads’ House,” that’s a bad sign. Maybe I will feel better once I finish it, or find a magical undergarment of some sort. And, you know, figure out how in the hell to wear the skirt so that I don’t look and feel like I’m a big Mads sausage crammed into a very pretty casing. :-/ Tom tried to make me feel better by pointing out that my skinny jeans actually reveal more, uh, “details” about my lower half than this skirt does, but for some reason I feel so weird and vulgar in the skirt. (Not that tight clothes are inherently vulgar–I absolutely do not think that is true. I just *personally* struggle to feel comfortable in something this tight, for some reason.) Do any of you have suggestions or words of wisdom??

So what’s the word out there: have any of you sewn with a scuba/neoprene knit before? On a related note, I have some of this fabric left–what should I make with it?? It’s probably enough for a top or a skirt, but I can’t decide!

I will leave you now with two “action shots” of my new outfit, plus my supply list at the bottom. Thanks for tuning in!

Oh, you know, just jumping off of stuff, NBD...

Oh, you know, just jumping off of stuff, NBD…

Spinning in circles

Spinning in circles

Scuba 2-Piece supplies:

  • 2 yards of scuba knit from Gorgeous Fabrics
  • Inari Tee Dress and Shadi Knit Skirt patterns from Named Clothing
  • Guttermann all-purpose polyester thread in grey
  • 80/12 jersey needle
  • 1″ elastic for skirt waist