Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nettie to the Maxi

Wohoo! I'm back!!  I started grad school this summer (yay!) so things have been extra special hectic around here recently.  Translation: I have like 10 things to show you but no time to take pictures!  I'm also moving to a new apartment with a backyard (!!) this week, so I'm hoping that once things get settled I'll have a perfect place to take photos with a tripod and won't need to wait for Mr. Photo-taker.

So, the maxi.  It started its life as a Nettie...and ended here.  I really, really needed a new "I feel like wearing pajamas all day" dress as my old, store bought cozy maxi is looking a little sad.  So I hacked my Nettie pattern.

If I didn't sell you enough last time: get a Nettie.  It's so hackable, and seriously the perfect start to so so many possibilities.  I'll probably make a million.  Sorry, not sorry.

This was a super duper easy hack if you also need some public-appropriate super comfy maxis.

Here's what I did:

  1. Cut out the pieces for the high back and the scoop front, stopping at the "shelf bra" line instead of going all the way down the bodysuit.
  2. Cut out extra binding for the arm holes.
  3. Cut two rectangles for the skirt pieces, 30in wide x whatever you want the length to be.
  4. Gather using Andrea's most excellent method.
  5. Attach the skirt pieces to the bodice pieces.
  6. Sew up the sides.
  7. Attach armhole binding using the same method as neck binding.
  8. Hem if you want. I didn't because I'm a rebel lazy.

I'm hoping to make up some more of these in shorter versions with natural waists because the empire waist isn't the most flattering.  Boy is it comfy, though!

Oh, and just in case you missed it on instagram, my hair is purple.

And, clearly the most important thing is that the boy says I look like a mermaid in a maxi on the beach with purple hair.  So, here's my best fish face.


Pattern: Nettie by Closet Case Files
Size: 8, graded to a 4 at the shoulders.  I should have just done a straight 8 here, though, this fabric is not as stretchy as my last one!
Fabric: 2 yards of mystery cotton-poly-whatever jersey from JoAnn
First version: here

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Nettie + La Sylphide

First off, thanks for all the love on my last post.  You guys are amazing.

Now, on to the patterns at hand.

In January, I made a resolution: NO MORE PATTERNS!  I did make it through 5 months pattern free, and then I bought like 3 patterns in a week.  And I've purchased no more since then.  Maybe, for you, this would be considered a lot, but for me that's waaaaaay less than what I used to do!  So, I'm calling it a win and am going to keep doing what I'm doing.  Basically, 5 months pattern free made me much more conscious of the patterns I do buy, how much I will make them, and whether or not they are a good fit for my lifestyle.  From here on out, my new resolution is to buy patterns that I can see myself making more than once.  I'm not forcing myself to or anything, because some patterns just don't work, but if I don't think it has more than one make potential, I'm not buying it.

Enter Nettie.

I freaking love bodysuits.  They're seriously the perfect solution for those of us that love to tuck in our shirts.  My tees are ALWAYS riding up and creating a bulge around my waistband, which drives me nuts.  Bodysuits totally solve that problem.  Plus, coverage for windy days?  Thank you, Heather Lou!!!

La Sylphide and I have met two times before (here and here).  But, the pattern has three variations, so why stop there?  I upped the ante here a little bit by using snaps up the front instead of buttons.  It really wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be, plus I got to use a hammer.  Is there a better way to take out your frustrations?  I think not.

That's all I have to say about these two.  They're perfect, wearable, basics.  Expect to see them again!

Finally, Sally is having a stashbusting summer challenge.  Which I need SO BAD.  I actually keep track of my stash, and since I met Sally, I have an extra 48 yards of fabric sitting around.  EEeeek.  Check out everyone's progress and join up here


Patterns: Nettie from Closet Case Files // La Sylphide from Papercut Patterns
Fabric: 1yd of bamboo jersey // 1.5yds of rayon challis
Size: 6 at the hip, graded to 8 at the waist, and 4 at the shoulders // XS
Alterations:  Originally, none.  I ended up chopping off the snap crotch because I thought it was uncomfortable.  So I technically took out .5in from the front and back at the crotch.  I think it fits better now, anyway.

What are your go-to patterns?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Midsummer Cascade

You know how it goes: there's a new make in your closet, you go out and take 1,000 pictures and pick the 5 that make the garment look the best (and you) then post those on the blog.  The rest get deleted.  But, what if your new make looked amazing in every single photo?  Even when it's overcast and wet and kind of squinty outside and the sun keeps going in and out?  Get ready for photo overload, because that's exactly what happens when you combine the Midsummer Night's Dream dress from Papercut and the Cascade skirt from Megan Nielsen.

I made this dress up as part of indie pattern month on The Monthly Stitch. (Vote for me!)  This week's theme was franken-pattern, so I mashed up two beautiful patterns from two different designers and got this beauty.

I've been craving a racy, flowy, thigh baring dress since the Anna dress came out, but after two muslins, it just wasn't doing it for me.  For some reason, it makes me look kind of dowdy and overwhelms my upper body.  I don't know what the problem is since it looks great on everyone else.  And, in case you're wondering, it's not just me.  Man friend says it looks fine, I just look a bit Amish.  Sorry, not the look I'm going for here.

So, I gave up on my thigh baring dreams for a summer, and finally made up my first cascade skirt a couple of weeks ago (unblogged).   Pretty much life changing in the thigh-baring department.  I love it and wear it all the time.  It's beautiful, comfortable, and just so perfect for my summer lifestyle. 

Naturally, this got the wheels in my head turning for a dramatic summer dress.  What could I do to turn this beauty into a dress?  A quick look at my pinboard pattern stash (god I love pinterest) made me think that a mashup just might work.  Plus, papercut patterns usually fit me well out of the package, so I figured not much could go wrong.

Except I needed 4 yards of drapey fabric.  Maybe you shop differently than I do, but I don't typically buy things in 4 yard increments.  I'm exactly 5 feet tall, so 2 yards is usually more than enough for a dress on my frame.  I searched my local haunts and didn't find anything suitable. 1 week to go, and I thought I'd just have to sit this contest out.

Thank the sewing gods for Sally.  She went to an epic warehouse sale a few weeks ago, and gifted me this beautiful vintage silk sari when she heard my dilemma.  It was so, so, so perfect for this project!  The silk drapes beautifully, but is a little nubby so it wasn't really difficult to work with.  It also gets bonus points for feeling like heaven next to my skin.

If you've never worked with a sari, I highly recommend it.  It's a lot of fabric, so you'll have plenty for whatever you need.  Both edges were printed with a border print, and one edge had a yard square of a contrast print.  I, personally, love working with border prints and contrast prints but they can be so hard to pull together when they don't "go" together.  The sari pretty much solved that problem for me, since all of the color schemes are the same.

I am 100% in love with this dress, and can't wait to wear it somewhere fancy.  If you're looking for a fast, easy, dramatic dress, this mashup is totally it! 

Patterns: Midsummer Night's Dream from Papercut
               Cascade from Megan Nielsen
Sizes: XS on top, S on bottom
Alterations: NONE for fit!  I did make some slight changes, though:
                 -Serged and stitched the bodice instead of bias binding it
                 -The skirt is about 2 inches shorter than the bodice, so I put that edge on the inside :)

All kidding aside, though, don't wear this one out on a windy day in Chicago... you might end up looking more like this:

Sunday, June 15, 2014


I told you guys I was going to make another Cambie dress!

This one is made in an adorable fox cotton from Spoonflower that I got for my birthday last year.  Isn't it adorable?  I love the way the foxes are looking at each other!  They seem like they're high fiving, if you ask me...

This cambie is fully lined (unlike my last one, which was half-lined because I'm lazy) with yummy rayon challis, because why not?  I am pretty much 100% obsessed with rayon challis, so expect to see more of that on this front.  It's just so soft and drapey while still being easy to work with.  A lovely lining fabric (and main fabric) for the summer, in my opinion.

Anyway, on to the foxes at hand!  I made some extra adjustments to the bodice this time around, and ignored the skirt pattern all together and just cut panels from what I had left.  I'd say that the time spent was well worth it.  The bodice fit is spot-on, and there's really nothing I would change about it at this point.  Basically, I took out 1/2in in length from the bodice by folding the pattern.  Then, I redrew the darts with the pattern folded  to be MUCH more curved that the curved darts in the pattern.  I think the curvyness helps compensate for the pretty large difference between my bust and underbust measurement. (37.5-28.5)

I used a my narrow hem foot for the skirt because I could.  It's just so freakin fast, and looks awesome.  Are you guys sick of hearing that yet?  Sorry, not sorry.

I was also really really careful about print matching and cutting out the waistband, and I'd say it really paid off along the zipper.  I'm a little obsessed with my pattern matching, and it's kind of a shame that I'll never see it without a mirror.  But, I figure it will make crazy people like me happy, so here you go.

There is a little bit of wrinkling left under the bust if I'm not standing up really straight, but I think that it's just inevitable in this style.  In virtually every photo I've seen of the Cambie (and there are a LOT) it's present.  So, I'm just pretending it's not there and trying to stand up straight.  It's kind of a win-win for my back, too.  Also, the neckline gaping I had in my last Cambie totally disappeared.  I staystitched the life out of it immediately, so maybe that's why...

Foxes + Cambie = WIN


Pattern: Cambie
Fabric: Foxen cotton from Spoonflower
Size: 8, graded to 4 at the shoulders
Adjustments: 1/2 in taken out of the bodice length
                      1/2 in FBA
                      Used size 4 darts and widened/ made them more curved

Sunday, May 25, 2014

La Sylphide, take 2

As I write this, I'm home in the beautiful paradise known as The Jersey Shore (and, no, it's nothing like the tv show.  Check my instagram feed for proof) for Memorial Day weekend, and hoping to catch up on a couple of undocumented makes.

First up is my La Sylphide Dress.  I made a lot of alterations to the pattern this time around, and the fit is definitely much better than it was in my first version.  If I make the dress version again, I'd like to take in about an inch from the back of the neck, and possible take out 1/2 inch horizontally from the bicep and upper back.   Thoughts?

The other thing that's kind of irking me is the necktie.  In these photos, I've folded it over.  I really like the way it looks here, so I think I may just tack it down so it stays that way.  If I don't fold it over it kind of sticks up around my neck in the back, which is just not a good look on me.  I haven't noticed this issue in other people's versions (and it wasn't an issue in my last version, which was much drapier) so I think it's just an issue of fabric choice and an extremely petite upper body.

I finished the hem with the narrow hem foot on my sewing machine (my new favorite toy) and I love the way it looks with the circle skirt.  I've been using my narrow hem foot on pretty much all of my summer makes this year, and I just love it .  So fast, easy, and awesome looking!  I was also really anal about the grainline since it's so noticeable, and I think it really made a difference in the way the skirt hangs.  It's just so swirly!

So wrinkly...totally wasn't this noticeable in person :)
For the most part, the button gaping is not an issue here, as the stiffer nature of the fabric is holding the placket together much better.  I may still go back and add in a hook and eye or a snap for security.  May.  As in I should but I probably won't.  It took me like a month to sew on regular buttons.

The last thing I want to note is that there is supposed to be some extra ease in this dress, which I eliminated by cutting a smaller size.  My waist is 75cm, and the recommended size is a S.  I cut an XS and there is still a couple of cms of ease in there for me.  I like my garments fitted, so if you do too, that's something too keep in mind :)

This hem is NOT even due to my curvier top.  I should probably start paying attention to that...I'm going with the whole high-low thing, though :)
All in all, I'm calling this one a success.  The fabric is awesome, and totally perfect for any sort of garment that needs both structure and drape.  I've already worn it a lot more than my top version because, hello, it's a dress.  I really love dresses and wear them a lot more than tops and bottoms over the summer months.  I'm definitely looking forward to making many more knit and woven sundresses as the weather gets warmer, so watch this space!

Pattern: La Sylphide from Papercut Patterns
Size: XS
Fabric: Cotton Chambray from Robert Kaufman
Alterations: 1/2in FBA
                   1in swayback
                   1/4in taken in from the shoulders

Sunday, May 11, 2014

La Sylphide

Life is getting crazy.  Or rather less crazy, I suppose.  Now that the weather has changed from blah to beautiful, I just want to sit outside all the time instead of working.  Which also means less time for sewing and blogging and more time for sunning.

In all honestly, it's probably a good thing.  My legs are quite pale enough, thankyouverymuch.  Plus, my closet is already chock full of sundresses.

Anywho, the beautiful weather does make taking photos much, much easier.  If you remember batteries for the camera, that is.  Enter exhibit A: My La Sylphide blouse.

That peplum is totally even, I swear.  It was windy!

Doesn't it look great?

Well, my camera died after two shots, so this is all you're getting.  The front is definitely passable from this angle (although the gaping just below the waist is driving me nuts...I may have to go back and add in some snaps there), but the back is all kinds of swayback issues that you'll never see.  Just trust me on this.  They're there.

This is technically my muslin of this pattern anyway, so I'm not that upset about it.  And by muslin I mean what was I thinking with a button down in jacquard chiffon.  I love the fabric, and I love the way it turned out on this blouse, but putting it together was a real pain in the ass.

I french seamed the entire thing, and finished the sleeves and hem with a baby hem.  It was DEFINITELY my hardest make to date.  That stuff is slippery, shifty, and frays like crazy.  But, I love the color and the drapeyness of the fabric, so I'm calling it a win.  I definitely made some fitting changes (fba and fixing aforementioned swayback issues) for v2, but this is definitely in the "wearable" category for me.

Plus, how awesome does green look with my new hair color?  WIN.

Pattern: La Sylphide from Papercut Patterns (the obsession continues)
Size: S
Fabric: Green Jacquard Chiffon that came all the way from NYC

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stripes and bows

Now that I made the commitment to Me-Made May '14, I'm thinking it's about time I start documenting the backlog of projects sitting in my closet.  Some are waiting on little things like buttons before I can wear them.  So typical.

I do however, have like 4 makes that need to be photographed, so hopefully I'll get to that soon.  Now that it's really starting to warm up it's getting so much easier to take pictures of things!  Last weekend, I headed to the Chicago Botanical Gardens for the afternoon.  Spring is just starting to bud, and it was so nice to get outside for a little while.

Anyway, this stripey beauty is New Look 6150 which I've made twice before (here and here).  My last version of this view was totally wearable, but came out pretty big for a knit, so I decided to size down.  Big mistake.

This fabric, while super cute and awesome, has a white stripe that is significantly less stretchy than the main red part of the fabric.  That made it a bit too tight across the bust, and a little see-thru.  In the photo above, you can see the pulling on the side seam at the bust.  Although this is the third time I've made this pattern, I'm still having issues with the fit/neckline, so I'd say this is far from a tnt for me.

That being said, I put a bow on it, so I'll probably wear it all the time anyway.  One of the things that really sells me on RTW clothing is details.  If there's a bow, flower, or fun trim on it I'm sold.  So, one of the things I'm trying to do for my handmade "basics" is make them a little less basic.   Because I don't really do basics anyway.

Until next time, put a bow on it, y'all.