Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Owlie Cambie

It's kind of amazing that I've made it this far in my sewing career without making a Cambie.  I seriously have a stack of fabric about a foot high and at least a year old designated "good for a Cambie."  Needless to say, I'm pretty much in love with my Cambie.  It has everything I love: a sweetheart neckline, cap sleeves, pockets, lining, and a gathered skirt.

Oh, and this one has owls on it.

O W L S !

I finished this little beauty up last weekend and have already worn it like 3 times.  I won't be stopping.  Expect to see lots more on the Cambie front.

Now, for the bad:

I'm gonna be honest here.  I'm not 100% thrilled with the fit.  The bodice is too long, the neckline gapes, and there is weird bagginess under my bust.  I've made some adjustments to the pattern for my next version (which is 50% done) but I'd love to hear your suggestions. 

I also didn't mach up my notches on the skirt correctly so the back is way more gathered than the back. Whatever, bustles are totally back in, right? Oh, and I didn't cut my waistband correctly so it doesn't match up perfectly. 

Whatever.  There are owls on it.

And, on to the good:

The fabric is fantastical.  It's really lightweight cotton that has an almost linen look and hand to it, so it's going to be so perfect for summer.

My usual shoulder issues are non-existent. I graded down two sizes at the shoulders (where my over bust measurements lie), which really really helped.  I'm thinking I may continue doing that it the future and hope it reduces the number of adjustments I need.

The invisible zip is my best ever and is so invisible I was worried I sewed too close to the teeth and zipper was done for.  Oh, and the insides are soooooo pretty!

Finally, this is my Sew Dolly Clackett make.  (Duhhhh)  I'm hoping to crank out a couple more before the competition ends because I'm really, really enjoying myself. 

Would it be Dolly Clackett without a cool door??
I'd also like to take a moment to thank the fabulous Roisin for getting married so that such a contest could be born!  I have admired Roisin's style (and 100% identified with it) since I discovered sewing blogs.  Seriously.  I think my boyfriend even knows who she is.  The day I stumbled across her blog,  I think it went something like "There are cowgirls on her dress, AND there are hearts on her shoes.  Where has this girl been all my life?"  When I first started sewing, I thought that using kitschy prints would make me look too home ec.  Something clicked when I stumbled upon Dolly Clackett, and I bought lots of fun fabrics. 

Then, I proceeded to let them sit in my stash for ages.  For some reason, I think I just got caught up in the sewing "trends."  An indie company would put out a new pattern, and I would jump to make it.  Eventually, I'd figure out the fitting and the fabric and finish it.  I'd wear it once, and that would be it because I just didn't like it.

Somewhere along the line, I started hoarding patterns and ended up with more than I need.  Patterns for pants and skirts and jackets galore when all I ever wear in real life are dresses.  Most of which, naturally, have a funny print on them and don't fit well.  I've always struggled to fit into store-bought woven dresses.  For some reason, I always reach for them, though, because I like the fabric the dress is made of.  I literally walk into a store and go "Look! There are _____ on that dress!"

A close-up of my fabric, which needs a good press. PS there are dogs in hats on the lining of my coat.

Maybe you've seen the disconnect there, but I've finally come full-circle thanks to Sew Dolly Clackett.  Honestly.  I looked in my closet on Friday night stressing out about what to wear, as one does, and for the first time ever my go-to was a handmade dress.  It's flattering, it fits, it's comfortable, and there are OWLS on it.  What could be better?

I'm done sewing what's popular and buying every dress I see at the mall with birds on it.  From now on, you'll be seeing lots and lots of dresses with flowers and animals and dolls, and everything in between. 

Mostly, though, you'll just be seeing more of me.  The moral of the story?  I wish I'd had an excuse to Sew Dolly Clackett ages ago.  I'm so much happier now!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekender Pattern Giveaway!

A while back, when I moved from NY, Miss Allie Mass announced her weekender wardrobe challenge.  Although I've yet to make anything from a weekender pattern, I did offer to destash some of my patterns for her challenge (I didn't see myself making them, and didn't want to take them across the country)!  I love the idea of a capsule/weekend wardrobe, and it's totally something I can get on board with.

Anyway, just a quick shout out to say that she's giving them away on her blog.  Hop on over to enter :)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Stash Diet Giveaway

I'm not exactly on a fabric stash diet, but I am in need of some spring cleaning.

Over the past couple of years, I've accumulated some things that I just don't want anymore and probably won't use. 

Giveaway time!

Here are the rules:

  1. Everything is first come, first served.  Be the first person to leave me a comment below with your email address, and the fabric or pattern of your choice is yours.
  2. I am more than happy to ship the patterns to the US for free.  If you live internationally, or want one of the fabrics, you will be responsible for the shipping costs.  I would love to ship it all for free, but I just can't afford it!
  3. One item per person, please :)  Feel free to check out the flickr group for lots of other giveaways and swaps. 
 The Patterns:

All of the newer patterns are uncut and have never been used.  I have not looked through the vintage patterns, but they all seem to be in good shape!

The fabrics:

1.5 yds poly accordion pleated jersey.  I used it to make this skirt.

A lot of good sized remnants of owl print cotton.  Definitely enough to make a skirt from!
1 yard of tweed suiting.  Not sure of the fiber content.
3/4 yd of plaid suiting.  Not sure of the content.

2 yds of pale pink chiffon

2 yards of pale green rayon
1yd of pale green chiffon
4yds of mustard poly lining fabric.  I used it to line this skirt

2yds of pink knit.  It's really soft and has ruffles/large pintucks running across it.

That's all, folks!  Say the word, and it's yours!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Strathcona Henley

It's guy-sewing time! Things I thought I'd never do for $10,000 please, Alex...

My fellow had a birthday last month, so I decided to make him a strathcona henley.  It doesn't fit exactly right, as I had to guess on the sizing/alterations.  You can't measure a guy-he'll figure out the surprise is coming!

I bought the entire parkland wardrobe package as a pdf waaaaaay back when Thread Theory had it on sale in December.  Although I will probably never make him pants (although who knows!) I wanted a good t-shirt/henley pattern since that's pretty much all he wears.  I could definitely see him in the Newcastle Cardigan as well, so for me it was well worth the $10 for all three patterns.

I had never worked with a Thread Theory pattern before, and I can say it was a good experience!  There weren't a thousand million pieces to tape together, which I was really thankful for.  I was able to whip the whole thing up in an evening, which also happened to be the evening before I moved.  This is technically my last NYC make!

The only thing that I found a little confusing were the placket instructions.  I ended up fiddling with it for about 15mins before I finally figured it out.  It's still not perfect, but now that I've done it once I think the next one will be even better.

The fit on this is decent, considering I didn't make any "real" alterations.  I made up a size small, and shortened the sleeves by 1 inch, and the hem by 3 inches.  Now that I've seen in on him, I'd say that the hem and the sleeves definitely need to be shortened a bit more, and the back of the neck could use a tiny adjustment.  Either way, he's a guy, so he doesn't notice any of this...

As for the guy who gets to wear this, he loves it.  I don't know because I've asked him, but because he wears it at least once a week.  Maybe it's just because it's on the top of the pile, but I don't think so.

He also wanted to include what he has deemed "the blogger pose:"

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stress + Sewing

Hi guys! It's been a while, no?

I feel like it's been forever since my last post!  I'll admit it.  I've fallen slightly off the radar recently.

I'm back with an explanation, but settle in kids!  It's going to be a long one.  Feel free to wait for pictures of pretty dresses and check in at a later date...

As they say, finding a job is a full-time job.  Right?  Well, kind of.  I'd be lying to you if I told you that the reason behind my conspicuous absence from this little webspace was due to the toils of moving across the country and spending oh-so-much time job hunting.

Maybe I'll sound spoiled, or ungrateful, or bratty, but I'm just going to throw it out there: I really didn't spend all that much time job-hunting.  I did, however, spend a lot of time job-deciding.  Maybe it's a character flaw, or maybe it's just dumb luck, but I truly feel that having a job is far more stressful than finding a job.

Now, let's rewind here.  Because I don't literally mean going to work 9-5 is super stressful.  It can be, but I'm not really a "bring your work home with you" kind of gal.  I mean preparing for a new job.  Or getting multiple offers and not knowing which direction to go.  Having one, but not actually having one.  To me, those things are really stressful.  Like really stressful. 

I wish people would just interview you right away, tell you whether or not they like you, and start you on Monday.  The whole job-searching process of interview 1, interview 2, negotiation, offer, decision is absolutely agonizing.  Multiply that times however many jobs you've applied for, and it's exhausting.

I fully understand that I sound like a total nut job here.   

How many people in this country are unemployed, and this girl is bitching about which job to take?  Seriously, come on.

But, we're all different people, and stress takes hold on our lives in different ways.  We're all friends here, so I'm just trying to me honest and open.  I could lie and tell you that the excitement of moving far far away got to me and made me a horrible blogger.  But, it didn't.

I've spent the last couple of weeks agonizing over a couple of pretty simple decisions: 
Do I want to make money or do something that makes me happy?
Is taking a supervisory role really what I want?
Do I like my car enough to spend a pretty decent amount of time commuting in it every day?

I'm sure some of you out there would be like, duh.  Do what makes you happy.  The end.  Moving on.  

But, I'm not like that.  I don't know why.  It's just not in my make up.  I'm really practical, give terriffic advice, and don't upset easily.  I'm awesome under pressure, super efficient, and procrastinate like hell.  I've never had trouble finding employment, and I sincerely hope I never will.  However, career decisions make me turn to jelly inside.  (Oh, and I can't get dressed to save my life.  But that's another story for another day.)

I spend hours agonizing (whether consciously or not) over whether I've made the right decision, where that decision will put me in a few years, and what effect it will have on the rest of my life.  It's ridiculous, I know.  I'm young, I have so much time to worry about big decisions later, and should just enjoy myself.

Logically, it makes sense.  But, subconsciously I'm freaking out.

Constantly weighing my decisions is like a compulsion: no matter how much I want to stop I just can't help it.

So, I've slacked off on blogging.  Not because I've been too busy--because I haven't.  I've been gone because the thought of having to put forth the effort for anything other than thinking about my future employment has been too much of a hurdle to jump.  It was so unattractive, in fact, that I haven't blogged in a month even though I literally had nothing else to do.  I mean, besides binge watching TV, of course.

That being said, I've made my decision, I start on Monday, and I'm trying not to freak out too much about the details (what will I wear?!).  I'm feeling much better about things and hope to catch up on blogging all of my finished makes soon.

One final note, before I wish you all a happy weekend. (You thought I was done didn't you?  Sorry folks.  Almost there.  I just need some advice.)

I have a skin disorder called psoriasis.  Thankfully, it's generally very mild, and likes to hang out behind my ears along my hairline.  It's never been very noticeable before, and most people (including my best friend) had no idea I had it until I told them.

For those of you familiar with psoriasis, you probably get where I'm going here.  For those of you unfamiliar, here's a brief introduction: scaly red patches of skin that feel like a burn for a couple of days, then get really itchy and flaky.  I'll have an outbreak every couple of months, it will heal up after a few weeks, and then I'll be good to go for a little while.  Then it starts again.

As I said, I have mild psoriasis, and I'm so, so thankful for that.  But, psoriasis responds to stress.  My recent stresses have caused the largest outbreak I've ever had, and I currently have patches all over the right side of my face.  Honestly, taking photos of myself is not something I really want to do at the moment.  Vanity aside, I'm kind of afraid to put makeup on it for fear of irritating it further.

The doctor gave me some vitamin D cream to put on it, and I'm honestly not sure if it's helping or not.  The other option I have at this point is steriods. Which, to be honest, is not something I'm crazy about.  I'm not a big fan of pharmaceuticals if not 100% necessary, and this is the first time I've ever treated it with anything I needed I prescription for.

So, why am I ranting again?

If you or someone you know has psorasis, or maybe you're just a really awesome homeopathic know-it-all, what do you do?  I'd love to know if you have any advice! 

Thanks for listening, guys.  I'll be back with some actual projects soon, promise.

Friday, February 21, 2014


As I've mentioned before, I'm going through a papercut phase right now.  I want it all!  I've you've checked out my pinterest boards recently, I've finally categorized what I've sewn up, and what remains unsewn.  There are definitely a few papercut patterns sitting in my "unsewn" pile, so expect the trend to continue ;)

Anyway, this is my version of Coppelia.

This is actually my second version of Coppelia.  My first version has yet to be blogged because it's been SO cold out and it's not quite as warm as this one.  Hopefully the warming trend will continue and I'll be able to snap some photos of it soon.

I searched the garment district high and low for a sweater knit that would do this pattern justice.  I love the versatility of a long-sleeved knit wrap.  It's great for layering, and will fit no matter what happens to my waistline. Since it's hella freezing outside, I knew that a simple jersey version wouldn't cut it.

I (of course) found this beautiful fabric in Mood.  It's a synthetic blend sweater knit that, honestly, is a bit itchy.  But, the itchiness means it will hold up well, wash well, and hopefully last for a few years longer than a super soft version would.  But, the important part here is that it looks just like a pretty ballerina wrap!

I definitely brought my fabric home and did a little dance with it around the living room.

I also do a little dance every time I wear it because I love it so much!  (Life-changing useless fact of the day: Coppelia is the name of a ballet!  So that totally makes sense!!!)

This is cut in the smallest size, an XXS.  Which sounds realllly tiny, but I promise it's not.  According to the size chart, the XXS should fit someone with a 32in bust and 24in waist.  I (currently) have a 37in bust and a 28in waist.   This IS a stretch garment, so the different drape and stretch of your fabric definitely has an effect on the final garment, but the disparity seems like a lot to me and I think it's worth noting if you plan on making this (which I think your should!)  The one thing I have noticed with my stash of papercut patterns is that the sizing listed can be a bit off.  If you have any hesitation about buying a pattern because the largest size may not fit you, I think you should know that, in my experience, it's probably a bit larger than it says it is.

Anyway, for my third version, I'm thinking I want to take some fabric out of the top of the sleeve.  I'm still getting some shoulder slide-age in that area, and think it probably has something to do with my relatively narrow shoulders.

Enough sewing talk, though.  Can we talk about how beautiful the scenery is???  One of the things that I love most about Chicago is the accessibility of pretty places.  No matter where I am, the lake is nearby.

This spot is a beach in the northern suburbs.  In the winter, they push the sand towards the shore line in huge heaps so that no one accidentally walks into frozen ice and falls in the lake.  The snow falls on top and it really looks like a scene out of an Alaskan expedition by this time of year.  Isn't it gorgeous?

For reference, that's me next to one of these snow piles!

The snow here is finally starting to melt.  Let's hope it keeps up so I can start making and modeling sundresses soon :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine's Day Plantain

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

I just have a quick one for you today--my plantain tee.

I cut a straight size 36, but added an inch in length to the bottom and shortened the sleeves by an inch.

The only change I made was to the elbow patches.  I drew a heart, layered it with some stretch lace, and sewed them on with embroidery thread.

For the hem, I gathered matching lace with some picot-edge elastic, serged it on to the bottom, and top stitched with a twin needle.

The sleeves are serged, turned under and topstitched with a twin needle.

And, big surprise, the neckband is also topstitched down with a twin needle.  I've recently gotten into getting one line of stitching over the band, and the other over the body of the garment.  I just love the way it looks--and it lays so flat.

Overall, a very easy, kinda boring make.  But so so perfect for wearing with leggings and lounging around the house.

Here are some detail shots, because it's Valentine's Day and I love seeing that stuff from other people:

Happy Valentine's Day guys!!