Monday, September 14, 2015

Wrap me up in Ribbons

Hi all!  It's back-to-school time here, and it looks like fall has arrived just in time.  I tried to give myself a couple of responsibility-free weeks at the end of the summer, and it seems like it did the trick.  I'm much more relaxed going into this school year (it also helps that grad school is over) and I've found myself with a much more manageable schedule, which means more time for SEWING!  WIN!

In those last couple of weeks before school started up again, I made myself a sewing goal.  I really wanted to be able to go back to school with 5 new dresses: something new to wear every day that would be comfortable and would transition into the fall.  I started with these two (1, 2), and this one is the third.  I fell one dress short, as I'm just finishing up the 5th dress now (and I may put it on the back burner since it's a bit summery).  But, I'm excited to go back to school with lots of pretty dresses!

I'd like to think that this Emery is a little more special than the others I made, because I really took my time with the details.  The reality is that it's only special because the fabric is glorious.  I first spotted this fabric when Sarai posted another dress made up from it on the Colette blog.  I honestly wouldn't have given it a second thought if I hadn't seen hers.  The photos didn't do it justice at I'm not usually one for black. One glance and I was hooked.

This print checked off all my boxes: flowers, butterflies, and bows.  In person, it's much more gray than black, too, which made me happy.  The lining is a remnant of shirting that I found at Vogue ages ago, and it was a happy coincidence that it matched the accents of the print perfectly.  I'm going through a bit of a bow phase right now, so it just made sense to add a bit of contrast to the skirt.

The only thing I regret?  I forgot to staystitch the neckline and it stretched out big time.  The lining didn't stretch quite as much, so there's a bit of a bagging at the neckline.  Not a huge deal, though.  This dress is still fabulous.  I also tried mega hard to match up the back seam.  Failed.  Oh well.  Also worth noting: the fabric (if you were lucky enough to snag some) doesn't have the greatest recovery.  There are tiny pinholes everywhere a pin stuck through fabric, which includes a side seam I had to unpick and re-sew...

ALSO, I really need some hooks and eyes...mine went missing!

Fabric: Floral Cotton from Mood
Pattern: Emery from Christine Haynes
Size: 4
Adjustments: See this post

Song: Ribbons

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Raindrops on Roses

This fabric totally reminds be of those dresses Julie Andrews made for all of the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music.  Anyone else?

I was always totally impressed with how Maria managed to sew like 12 outfits out of 2 curtains in a matter of hours.  While I now know that the enormous curtains totally would have provided adequate yardage, I still don't get how they went to sleep one night with no play clothes and woke up the next day with a whole wardrobe of curtain clothes.  Maria must have gotten a little help from the nuns down the mountain.

I digress.  This fabric was a gift from the lovely Sally who got it from an estate sale that seems to be the gift that just keeps on giving.  I think this is the second dress I've made with the yardage she got that day, and she's still got TONS of it left.

This is, of course, the Emery dress.  I'm 100% Emery obsessed, so if you love seeing dresses with gathered skirts made out of cotton, this is the new place to be.  If not, sorry.  You get what you get and you don't get upset.  (Teacher friends, it's totally that time of year again.)

My first Emery is still a favorite, but this Emery is a serious upgrade.

First, the fabric.  It's super vintage looking (and, ya know, actually vintage) and I love the colors.  I think they'll transition really well into fall, and this will look great with a cropped cardigan.

Second, it doesn't wrinkle really easily.  I took these photos after a day at work (and car rides with seat belts) and I'd like to think it still looks pretty good.  Win!

Third: bow.  Enough said.

Fourth, I spent a lot of time making this one pretty on the inside.  My waist seam matches up perfectly at the zipper.  I did an all-in-one finish lining on the bodice using this method and it looks really awesome.  I even took the time to hand-stitch the lining down at the waistline, which I NEVER do.  It looks pretty sweet.

Fifth, house ribbon as a hem finish.  It's like the house in the mountains in The Sound of Music.  Perfection.

I made a couple of extra alterations to the pattern this time around (like incorporating that emergency wedge into the armscye) that I think made a big difference in the fit.  I also had enough fabric to use the original skirt.  I'm diggin' the longer length.

This pattern is officially one of my favorite things.

Finished with the Von Trapp-ian theme?  NEVER

Pattern: Emery by Christine Haynes
Size: 4
Fabric: Gifted from Sally
All alterations from the last version plus:
-additional 1/2 in swayback adjustment at upper back
-1/4 in wedge removed from front armscye

Monday, August 10, 2015

Three is a Magic Number

Ohhhh, yes it is!

How's that for a little walk down memory lane on a Monday morning?

Three is also, apparently the number of times I need to make a pattern before I'm satisfied with the fit enough to wear it out.  It happened with my Anna over the course of a year.  Today, it happened with Emery!

I wish I could say my story was evolving or changing in some way, but it still goes like this:

"Wow!  This pattern looks awesome on so many people.  It's so simple! Awesome!  Ok, so I'll trace off my best guess, add an FBA, and see where things are.  WTF?! This looks horrible.  I must have done something wrong.  Let me start with another size.  WTF still awful.  Screw this.  I'm going back to something stretchy.  Where's the ice cream?"

One year later...

"Maybe I should try it again!  I fit into the size 6 measurements reasonably well.  NOPE.  Let me go back through all 500 (that may not be an exaggeration) versions that Roisin has made and see what she started with because she looks awesome. I mean seriously, though, look at those mushrooms.  I die.  I'll just do some swayback action and shorten the bodice and see what's up with the bust later.  Not awful, just a little tuck here and we'll be okay.  Alrighty then, let's sew this up and see what happens...BAM! This pattern is amazing!"

Anyone else?  No? Whatever, it's clearly a workable strategy for me.

Now, before you get all fitting police on me, I know this version is not perfect.  I had to take an emergency dart out of the armscye, which didn't show up on the muslin I made before I cut into this fabric.  Whatever, I don't care, this fabric is perfection and I needed to make it work.  Noone but us sewing people will notice that stuff anyway.  I'll just wear my hair down and stand up real straight.

In case you didn't guess, the saga of the Emery was kind of epic for me (as all sagas are, I suppose) as I now have a bodice that fits really well and is crying out for some quirky prints.  I made 3 (MORE) adjustments to the pattern for the next version I'm sewing up, so I think I'll be set after that!

There's not much else to say other than I'm SO GLAD I worked this one out.  Expect lots more in the future.  I'll leave you with the saga of fitting below if you're interested.  If not, border prints for the win!

Pattern: Emery by Christine Haynes
Fabric: I think I got it on like 3 years ago.  Good Luck.
Size: 4
-Shortened the bodice 1in.
-1in. swayback adjustment
-Shortened darts 1/4 in.
-Made waist darts bullet-shaped at 2 in. below the bust point
-increased neck dart width by 1/2 in. total (1/4 in. on each side)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Easy Like Sunday Morning

As school wound down this year, I found myself craving easy, throw-on basics that would look cute on, well, Sunday mornings.  I consider myself a "dress person," but sometimes pants are just where it's at on a Sunday.  Especially in the summer and spring months when it's too warm for tights, but I'm just too lazy to shave my legs.  TMI?  At least I'm being honest.

I snatched this pattern up right after it was released, but sat on it for a bit.  I wasn't sure they were really my style, or whether or not I was actually brave enough to make pants.  Turns out I AM, but I'm still I little unsure about them.  As a said, I'm not really a pants person.

Side note, I once wore pants to work (which I do occasionally) and a co-worker asked me what was wrong.  "Are you sick today?" "No, why?"  "Because you are wearing pants.  You never wear pants.  Something must be wrong..."  I just feel weird in pants.  Apparently I look weird, too.

ANYWAY, anecdotes aside, I made pants!  These are delightfully soft polkadot chambray that I hoarded for about a year.  I just couldn't figure out what to do with it!  I think the fabric works really well with the loose, relaxed fit of these.  It's comfortable and breathable and doesn't really touch my legs, which is awesome on a hot, sticky Chicago day.

The loose, relaxed factor kind of bugs me, though.  I made zero adjustments to the fit, and followed the recommended size chart, but I feel like I definitely could have sized down and made a huge swayback adjustment.  Something in my gut told me this was going to happen, but I was too scared (because--PANTS) to ignore the size chart.  They have elastic in the waist, but I still have to wear a belt or they fall down continuously to my hips.  I think part of the problem may be my proportionately thinner legs.

Side note #2: Do any other petite ladies have this problem?  I feel like 99% of the time I look at the finished measurements to determine size, then size down one more to get a good fit.  I know your hip measurement is your hip measurement regardless of your height, but I'm always pissed when I have lots of extra ease.  Anyone else?  Am I just crazy here?
I SWEAR the pockets don't look so lumpy in real life, by the way.  That one on the right there has something weird happening to it.  Maybe it's my butt rejecting pockets.

The instructions, as usual, were absolutely amazing, and I had zero WTF moments while constructing these, which was kind of a godsend since I had to do eleventy billion things I had never done before.  One of the many reasons I love papercut so much.

Need a reason to have people stare at you in a public place?   No worries, have your fiancee take detail shots of your crotch.  Works like a charm every time.

ANYWAY, back to the pants.  They're pants.  I'm a little underwhelmed.  I like them for pants, but I'm not quite sure how to style them, what to wear with them, or how I feel about how I look in them.  I learned a LOT making them, and am proud of how they turned out for the most part.  They've been through the wash once and are looking a little lumpy now (I'm looking at you, elastic and welts) but whatever.  Instagram knows what those pockets used to look like.

They're ridiculously comfortable.

They're way cuter than yoga pants.

They're Sunday Morning Pants.

Pattern: Guise from Papercut Patterns
Size: S
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Chambray
Adjustments: Shortened by 2 in, rolled up the legs instead of hemming (too long)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sunday in the Park with Anna

Did you know that I'm a bit of a theatre geek?  Well, now you know.  I spent the better part of my elementary, teenage, and early 20s doing community theatre every chance I got.  For some reason, Sunday in the Park with George popped into my head while I was taking these photos.  It WAS Sunday, so I guess it makes sense.  This dress is not named George, though.  It's Anna!

I'd like to think I'd kind of fit in in the painting.  I'm that lady up by the water with the fierce orange hat on.  I'll apologize in advance, this is kind of a picture-heavy post.  It was pretty outside!

Anyhow, I finally made an Anna dress!  I've been fiddling around with this pattern since it came out.  This is actually my third version of it, although this is the first wearable one.  I still need to make a few tweaks to the fit of the bodice, but for now I'm totally happy enough with the way this fits to wear it.

And, wear it I have!  It was totally worth all of my fitting woes because I wear it all the time.  It's the perfect throw-on dress for work.  It's cute, comfy, and breathable in the summer.  The little kimono sleeves make it perfect for layering with cardigans, too.

As you can see, I did make some changes to the pattern.  I eliminated the neckline facing, and finished with bias tape instead.  The most noticeable one is that I swapped out the skirt for a simple gathered skirt.  I wanted to showcase the pretty border print, so I thought a gathered skirt would be the best way to do that.

In terms of fitting, I found that the bodice ran large on me.  As is, I still have some ease in all places including the waist.  I made a size 4 which should have a 25.5 inch waist.  Mine is currently sitting around a 28.  I graded into a size 2 at the shoulders, and it fit is just okay.  I think I'm going to make some more adjustments in the shoulders/upper back for the next one, as there's still a lot of gaping.  I made a 1/2in swayback adjustment, but I think I also need to shorten the bodice a bit.

If you look closely, you can see that I didn't even bother hemming the skirt.  I had to make the dress on the cross-grain to get the print to sit the way I wanted it to, so the selvedge is at the bottom.  Its one of those that looks just like the rest of the fabric without holes or fringe, so I just left it as-is.  I think it looks fine. Plus, hemming it would have meant loosing a row of flowers at the bottom!

I moved to a new apartment over the weekend, and took these photos in Lincoln Park, which is only 2 blocks from my new place.  I'm so glad to have somewhere nearby that's perfect for pictures.  Also, the zoo is steps away!  I'm hoping that this gives me that extra little push to finally get back into blogging regularly again!

That's all I really have to say about this one!  I'll leave you with some more photos (because when hats are involved there are lots).  

Pattern: Anna from By Hand London
Size: 4, graded to a 2 at the shoulders
Fabric: Awesome purple border print cotton from the Needle Shop
Adjustments: listed above 

Oh, and lest you think I always look all ladylike in a garden, here's a parting shot for you.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Little Matchstick Dress

Does anyone else remember that story?  I'd like to think that this dress is a little cuter than her sad, tattered clothes though.

Anyway, hi all!  It's been a couple of months since I've showed my face around these parts.  I (finally) graduated from my master's on Saturday and finished up all of the things that went along with it, like the end of the school year.  It was a pretty crazy year, and I'm not expecting next year to be nearly as nutty.  Which means more time for blogging, yay!

I've promised myself that I'm going to catch up on the backlog of makes I have piled in my closet over the next few weeks since I have NOTHING else to do.  Except for sew, that is.  I have been sewing a lot over the past few months as a huge stress reliever so I've got lots to share.  Truth be told, I almost didn't get photos of this dress while I had it on today.  I'm not a big fan of wearing my hair up, and wasn't sure if I wanted my slightly wrinkled, crazy, makeup-free face lurking on this space.  Since I've procrastinated so long, I threw on some chapstick and said screw it.  I'm a master now.  That means unclipped threads don't count, right?

This dress was one of the fastest makes ever, and came out much cuter than I was expecting it to.  I made it entirely out of my own house, on sewing dates with other Chicago ladies.  It just sat in my bag with the sole purpose of being something to work on outside of the house.  All in all, I'd say it only took a few good hours of work.

I didn't feel like muslining such a simple design (plus it's only one piece for the front so I would have wasted a lot of fabric) so I ended up making a lot of alterations as I went to make it fit as best as I could.  I'm still not totally sold on the fit, but it's super comfy and airy because it's a little big.  If you have any experience with a Chicago summer and 100% humidity all the time, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  That being said, the sizing was a bit off.  I went by the finished garment measurements, but still could have sized down.

I'm love the little back cutout on this dress.  It's like a little party in the back.  As is, I'm yanking my bra down so you can't see it, so  I wish it hit up just a little higher.  I think that on someone a little taller this would be no problem, but if you're small like me, it's something to think about.

Bra+Unclipped Thread = Worry-free Summer

That's all I have to say about this one! I hope you're all enjoying the beginning of your summer!

Fabric: Meet Your Match from Cotton+Steel
Pattern: McCall's 6924
Size: 12, graded to a 10 at shoulders
--Took in 1in. at side seams
--Eliminated back button closure and sewed with 1/2in. seam allowance
--Shortened length by 4in.
--1/2in. swayback

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Hey there, blogging land!

My poor, neglected blog has been alone for too long.  I finally had some time this weekend (and some nice weather) so I could get out and take pictures of my shiny new Sophia Dress.

I have a huge backlog of makes that will hopefully get to say hello now that it's not freezing and raining or snowing all the time!  More on that later :)

This dress is a story of poor impulse control if there ever was one.  The second I saw the godet version of Sophia, I had to have her.  Click--preordered.  Then, there was this swan fabric.  Click, done.  And, I mean I HAD to have this floral voile.  I might as well get as much as I could in that box for the shipping costs, right?

When I bought them, I had no intention of using them together.  My original idea was lace panels on the skirt, but they arrived next to one another in the package and refused to be separated.  I love the combination and LOVE this dress.

I was really, really, anal about those swans matching, the darts matching, and the waist seam matching.  I was so successful, the Mr. insisted on taking a zoomed in photo of the front.  Not my most flattering look, but when swan butts AND darts match up, you roll with it.

If I'm being honest, the fitting here isn't perfect.  I am not crazy about the fitting in the bust (it's a bit pointy and tight), and I forgot to shorten the bodice, so it keeps riding up.  Most days, I'm not feeling too honest, though, so I'll stick with it because I love the overall effect.  I'll also probably wear it with a belt so the riding up doesn't make me nuts.

I chose to fully line the dress because of the sheer voile, and serged everything.  It's very pretty inside (and out, if I do say so myself).

There's not much else I can say, so I'll let the photos do the talking.

Pattern: Sophia from By Hand London
Size: 4, graded to a 2 at the shoulders
Adjustments: fully lined the skirt with a 1/2 circle skirt
                      shorted the skirt by 4in
Fabric: Pongee Swan Cotton, Flocked Cotton Voile, bemberg rayon lining