Saturday, May 16, 2015

Three Skirts

Work is totally getting in the way of my sewing time here lately.  Ha!  Good thing I enjoy my job.  We are at the end-of-year crunch where everything needs to be done right now and fast.  Every time I check something off my list, three more things are added.  But we are so close to summer I can taste it.  So my sewing has been put on hold for a few more weeks.

I did do a boatload of sewing over spring break, though.  I was on a roll.  I told someone that I was truckin' right along and couldn't stop to blog about it.  Now that all sewing has stopped, I figured this was a good time to share some things I made.  I  snapped a few photos of three knit skirts I made that I wear all the time.  Seriously, all the time.  I think my coworkers are probably wondering if I own anything else at this point. 

I made two more quarter-circle maxi skirts and one Simplicity skirt.  The quarter-circle skirts are the ones I have the most love for.  I made one last year that I still wear regularly.  I know it's not the most interesting blog post but I feel like they deserve mention since they are such workhorses.  If you haven't made yourself a quarter-circle and half-circle skirt pattern, I suggest you do that and add it to your pattern arsenal.  I use mine all the time.  Even for switching out skirts on other patterns.  There are umpteen billion circle skirt how-to's out there, but I found this blog post from By Hand London very helpful.  The length of my maxi skirts are 44 inches (I'm 5'9") in case you are wondering.  But I do like to have the waistband jacked up high.  It sits right over my belly button.  I made a straight rectangular casing for two inch elastic for the waistband.  I love the thick, two inch elastic for it's belly holding properties.

The black tie dye fabric is a bamboo knit from  The awesome, colorful confetti goodness is a rayon knit I spotted at Hancock.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it.  I snapped up three yards and went home and immediately made this skirt.  Another great thing about these skirts is that it only takes an hour or so to sew one up.  Instant gratification.  The bamboo knit is pretty heavy, so I think I prefer the drape of the lighter weight rayon knit.  The bamboo knit makes some noise when I walk, actually.  But I do love both skirts.

I am not as in love with this black and white striped Simplicity 1163 faux wrap skirt, despite my superman pose.  But the issues lie in the execution, not the pattern.  I think the pattern is a decent one.  I made view E.   I didn't have quite enough fabric, a bamboo jersey again, so I shaved two inches off the back piece and blended to the front hem.  I did the blending part slightly unevenly, I think.  I also decided to use a stripe fabric thinking I could just match up the stripe at the side seams and then let them fall whichever way they wanted to on the front.  In theory, that was a good idea.  But I matched stripes right at the cut edges instead of at the seam line.  I realized my mistake when I went to sew up the side seams.  I thought I could shift the fabric just a bit to make it work, but you can see it didn't.  I am ever so slightly off at every stripe.  I almost think that's worse than just being blatantly off.  Anyway, I'm still wearing the skirt.  But I am definitely not as proud to say that I made it.  And after looking at these pictures I think I need to wear a heel with it.  The length is a little frumpy.  I'd love to try this skirt again in a solid red knit I have but lengthen the back of the skirt to ankle length.  As soon as I'm done with school!  I also just realized that I did the wrap backwards, not that it matters.  Whoops. 

Anyway, all useful pieces.  I also made a ton of tee shirts (seven!) during my spring break sewing binge that are in heavy rotation.  Hopefully I can get around to documenting those, too.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Purple Skirt

And now for something completely different.  This skirt really is a departure from what I normally wear.  But I'm branching out.  I usually feel like full, pleated skirts are best suited for those with tiny little nipped in waists.  My waistline changed dramatically post baby.  I mean, I know it does for most everyone.   But I ended up with quite a large difference in my waist measurement.  Not anywhere else, though.  Just the waist.  In fact my bust measurement went down a teeny, tiny bit-- womp, womp.  Hip measurement is the same.  The change in waistline very much changes my body shape.  And it's been interesting trying to figure out what works and what doesn't now.   I've been avoiding fitted waistlines just for that reason, in case you haven't noticed.  I do love a good billowy tunic or a swingy tee.  I always have and I always will.  But I think it's time to work my way back to some fitted waists.  Anyway, despite my own body issues, I really like this skirt.

 This is Butterick 5929, a full, pleated skirt with pockets.  I made view A, the one with no waistband.  I love the lack of waistband on this.  I am surprised I like it so much, but I do.  I measured myself carefully and chose a size 16 based on my hip measurement.  But I did end up taking in the waist about a half inch on either side.  If I made a 14, it probably would have been too snug.  So I guess I really needed a size 15- ha.  It's a nice little pattern.  The front is paneled.  I assume to help with cutting layouts.  There are four pleats on the front and four on the back.  The pattern instructions have you baste the pleats down while sewing the skirt and then remove the basting later.  I removed all the basting stitches when I finished and decided I preferred the back pleats stitched down.  So I stitched those down but left the front pleats free.

Despite the fact that this silhouette is not usually my style, linen skirts are totally my jam.  And yes, I will always wear it slightly rumpled, just like this.  Making this skirt in linen made it feel more like me. I used a pretty purple linen I had stashed.  It's a perfect grape color.  Purple!  I can't remember the last time I wore anything purple.  I desperately wanted to put a filter on these photos since I am so incredibly washed out and pasty right now.  But I didn't so you could see the actual color of the skirt :)-  This is what I wore on Easter.  I did a regular dress zip for the first time in ages.  I planned to do an invisible zip but couldn't find a match.  I serged all the seams inside the skirt.  I didn't want to purchase four cones of purple serger thread, though.  Not a color I use very often.  So I bought a spool of variegated purple thread and put it in the upper looper on my serger instead (I used my navy cones for the rest).  I love how it looks inside.  Although from this photo you can see that I should have put one in the lower looper as well.  Or serged all my pieces right side up.  Anyway, this is an ode to Heather's awesome rainbow serger thread.  I really need to order some rainbow thread for my serger. 

All in all, I am very happy with my pleated skirt.  I am thinking I want to make it again.  I have a fabric in mind but it is much stiffer than this linen.  It will be interesting to see how I feel about the shape then.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Can't Touch This

Y'all.  I made hammer pants.  And I love them.

And no, this is not an April Fool's prank.  Now I know that these will not be everyone's cup of tea.  But these pants are awesome.  Awesome, I tell you!  Don't hate.  Whether I look like a tragic fashion victim or not, I am digging the breeze.  

I made harem pants.  I think I probably snorted my drink the first time I read that harem pants were a thing.  What was that, last summer maybe?  I am, like always, late to the party.  I usually pick up on a trend when it's no longer cool.  And to be fair, I am not a fan of the drop crotch.  But there is something about harem pants that drew me in.  I think I like the laid back, bohemian vibe.  I came across this Sandra Betzina pattern (Vogue 1355) while browsing the Vogue catalog during the last pattern sale and immediately purchased it, along with a cheap poly knit to test it out.  I like that this particular pattern had the drapey genie leg but without the drop crotch.

This wacky version is my wearable muslin.   I made no attempt at pattern placement or matching since I was really just trying to figure out if I could pull it off.   The pattern placement is not too unfortunate, I think.  My muslin is a size D with no changes.  This pattern is dead easy.  Three pieces, three major seams.  There are two darts on either hip.  It was a super quick sew.  The waistband uses negative ease instead of elastic-- like yoga pants.

After my muslin, I made the black pair out of the softest bamboo knit ever.  I ordered several yards of this bamboo/rayon knit from and I don't think I'll ever be able to use cheap knits again.  This is seriously nice stuff.  It is soft and drapey but also opaque.  And being opaque is high on my list of priorities when making a bottom.  I actually looked for a suitable knit at Joann's before ordering this stuff but everything there was too see-through.  Anyway, I have already ordered more bamboo knits from  Hopefully they will hold up over time.

The only change I made to the black pair was to add 1.5 inches of length.  That's it.  Fun, easy pattern.  In case you are wondering, both pairs are really just intended to be lounge wear at home.  I am still toying with the idea of maybe wearing the black pair out and about, but I need to figure out something to wear on top.  They are a little bit ridiculous, I know.  J likes them.  He said they bring back good memories of his zubaz pants.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Downton Baby

Be warned that this is a picture heavy post.  I can't help myself.

For my birthday, my parents bought tickets to see Dressing Downton, an exhibit of costumes from the first four seasons of Downton Abbey on display at the Biltmore Estate.  We went the other day and it was fantastic.  If any of you out there are near Asheville, NC- go.  It was well worth the visit.  I've been to the Biltmore before but it was especially enjoyable this time with the costumes included in the setting.  Each room on the tour had a costume or two.  

“The day-to-day running of Biltmore House was surprisingly similar to that of Downton Abbey,” said Ellen Rickman, Director of Museum Services. “Just like Downton has Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, Biltmore had its own cast of fascinating characters. Displaying these fabulous costumes from the show gives us an unparalleled opportunity to delve into Biltmore’s stories.”

I borrowed the quote and photos from the Biltmore site about the exhibit. The pictures on the web don't do the costumes justice.  You really need to see them in person.  Some pieces are actual clothing from the era and some were made specifically for the show.  One jacket was made from a vintage tablecloth.  The beading and overlays (and jewelry) were incredible.  What an opulent time.  Well, for the aristocracy anyway.  Even the menswear was extravagant, though not nearly as exciting as the gowns.

So anyway, let's get to this cuteness, shall we?

This whole outfit was sparked by the hat.  My aunt made this little cloche for Jane for Christmas.  My talented aunt who knits beautiful things for Jane.  She has recently ventured in to knitting and felting hats.  She had two of her hats featured in a museum show.  We all agreed at Christmas that the cloche was very "Downton Abbey."  So when it was set in stone that we were all going to see Dressing Downton, I decided that Jane needed a dress to go with her hat.  I did extensive research first.  Ha, just kidding.  I did a quick google search of what children wore during the early 20th century.  And then this pattern came to mind- the Apple-picking Dress from Oliver and S.  Which I just so happened to have in my pattern stash.

The pattern has a real vintage feel, doesn't it?  I thought the bow collar, drop waist and double button placket were perfect for the time period.  I also had this iridescent rust colored shot cotton in my stash, too.  Which just so happened to match the cloche.  This was definitely a serendipitous project.  I bought the fabric several years ago so I'm not one hundred percent sure it's all cotton.  I suspect that there may be some silk in it because of the way it felt when I washed it and the fact that it shifted every which way when I was sewing with it.  That's my excuse anyway.  It was not a well behaved woven.  I had trouble pressing seams flat and top stitching because the fabric shifted around so much.  Maybe it's just because the weave is looser.   Anyway, don't look to closely at my top stitching.  I found parts of the pattern to be somewhat difficult.  The top of that wide placket where the bow collar meets has to be trimmed very carefully.   I didn't do such a great job, but it's passable.

The proportions are a little different on my version because I made a size too big and shortened everything.  Jane is wearing a 2T now but for some reason I thought I'd go up a size for some growing room.  That was a dumb decision because it was huge.  I cut off the skirt and sleeve bindings and took up the hem of both.  That's why I only have four rows of buttons instead of five.  So the dress is wider than it would be had I used the right size.  If it's too short in the fall (when I think she'll wear it more), Jane can wear it like a tunic.

This photo above is my favorite.  I title it, "Bribery With Raisins."

No pictures inside the Biltmore so we only got to take some out in front.  And it was cold.  I made her suffer though a few photos without her jacket.  I also took some photos beforehand near the english ivy in my yard (see what I did there?).

Fun times.  It was a great exhibit and fun photo op for Jane.  She is changing so much!  She is looking more and more like a little girl everyday.  My almost two-year-old girl, if you can believe it.  I am so glad to have these photos for posterity.  

Any other Downton Abbey fans out there?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Sack Dress

I'm on the fence about this one.  I'm leaning towards really loving it, but there is something a little off about it.  And yes, this is most definitely a sack dress.  No waist definition at all.  I really dig the way sack dresses look... on other people.  I've tried making them from time to time and have never felt like they suited me.  However.  I honesty don't really care that this dress is not one that is considered traditionally flattering.  I like it.  There is something not quite right about the proportions, though.

I used Vogue 9022.  I'm not really sure what drew me to the pattern.  I thought the pockets were cool. And I liked the dolman sleeve.  The suggested fabrics list different wovens along with ponte.  I figured I could make it out of something stretchier than ponte, which I did.  I used a really cool textured knit of questionable content I found at Joann's.  This particular knit has a lattice texture and is very stretchy.   You can see the texture really well in that heavily edited photo below.  I was worried that it was too thin for a dress so I underlined it with a black cotton knit.  I searched for one that had the same amount of spandex as the textured knit.  But there are some issues with having the two knits together.  The cotton knit is really grabby which makes some odd wrinkles show up while I'm wearing this dress.  I can smooth them out, though.  And the two layers together make this dress extremely thick.  There is some seam rippling as a result of all the thickness, especially where the pockets are doubled over.

The pattern has a separate pattern piece for the lower pocket with a seam at the bottom.  After reading a pattern review about it, I decided to eliminate that seam and cut out the side front pieces in one giant piece.  That was an interesting pattern piece.  I'm not sure that it was a necessary move as a seam at the bottom of the pocket "bag" wouldn't have made a difference to me.   My measurements put me as a size large and that is what I cut, ignoring my instinct to go smaller since I was using a stretchier knit.  I should have cut a medium, maybe even a small.  Ok, well probably not a small.  I can't remember the last time I ever wore a size small.   It was huge when I basted everything together.  I think I ended up sewing all of my seams at an inch or more.  For real.  I cut the long sleeves and they were so long it was comical.  And I have long arms.  I took four inches off the sleeve hems and I still prefer them rolled up a little shorter.  I took two inches from the pattern shorten line before cutting my fabric.  I knew I wanted the dress to be short to balance out the ease.  Then I ended up hemming it up two more inches.  So four inches off the hem, four inches off the sleeves and I'm guessing about four inches around.  Over sized pattern?  I'd say so.

I did sew the keyhole at the back because I like the way keyholes look.  But it isn't functional.  I sewed up the hem split because it was indecently high after taking out all the length.  Anyway, I'm liking the end result.  I think I need to wear it out once before I can really make a final judgement.  I don't think I'd revisit the pattern, though.  Maybe the pattern would work better in a woven.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Burda Cardigan

I may never take this off.  This cardigan was inspired by the fabric.  It's not anything fancy.  It's just something I found on a trip to Joann's for thread.  You know how that goes.  You only go in to pick up some thread and...  It's a double sided knit. Polka dots on one side, stripes on the other.  Actually, I think this would be considered double cloth since it seems to be two knits fused together at the dots.  I have used some of this same knit before to make crawling baby pants for Jane a while ago.  It is really soft and spongy and has some drape because of the weight.  But not a lot of recovery.  So I bought it knowing it would be perfect for a drapey cardigan.  One that would show off both sides of the fabric. 

I cleaned out my pattern stash recently.  I was ruthless.  Since I began sewing all the time five or so years ago, I have bought patterns with reckless abandon.  Mainly big four patterns when they are on major sale at Hancock or Joann's.  I had a huuuuge pattern stash with no chance of ever making all of them up.  I got rid of everything that I didn't love.  I donated them to a local thrift store that has a giant crafting section so I know they'll go to good homes.  And I've whittled my pattern stash down to just what I intend to make.  I'm also vowing to not buy any more patterns unless I am serious about making it up.  We'll see how that goes.  I think I've already bought four or so since that cull.  Oops.

Anyway, this Burda 7184 pattern survived the pattern stash purge.  I'm generally a fan of Burda patterns, magazine or envelope.  So I kept this one.  It was perfect for this fabric.  The pattern has a two piece raglan sleeve.  The sleeve is not a very close fitting one.  I bet you could make this pattern up in some sort of wool knit or coating and it would be a great jacket.  Maybe even in a ponte knit.  I made the longer version with pockets.  I did size down to a 38 thinking the pattern pieces looked oversized.  I'm glad I did.  I normally make a 40 in Burda patterns.  I hemmed the front by flipping under twice and straight stitching.  The front hems shouldn't need to stretch much.  I made it up exactly as the pattern directed except for the neck facing.  The neck facing is a small piece of binding that you sew on to the back neckline and flip inside to finish the edge.  I inserted a piece of 1/4" elastic when I flipped the binding inside.  I wish I had taken a picture.  The elastic keeps the back neckline from stretching way out since the knit fabric is so heavy.  Helps it keep it's shape.

I love it.  It's like wearing a bathrobe that is acceptable to wear in public.  It's perfect for weekend wear.  This project was a win.  Like I said, I may never take it off.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Very Late Review

Ok, I told myself I wasn't going to bother doing end-of-year graphs this year.  But Joy's post changed my mind.  I love a pie chart.  Can't help myself.  So I make no apologies for this post.  I was curious how my year stacked up against previous years being that this was such a crazy one.  And I want to be able compare this year visually to the previous two years that I've done year end graphs.  That was a mouthful.

 Thirty-nine projects!  Holy cow.  I honestly can't believe I made so many things.  Most projects were super easy ones, but still.  I must have found more time to sew than I thought.  Of course summer is more productive since I get to be home all day.  Nap time equals sewing time around these parts.  I probably should have used nap time for cleaning time, but you know.  Most were blogged.  I think.

Here are some pie charts for your viewing pleasure.  First up, by garment type.

Lots of tops.  Lots of quick and easy tops.  No closure, pull over tops.  That was half (!) of what I sewed.  I guess that's why I ended up having such a large grand total.  I do love my Jacqueline tops so the fact that they were quick and easy is only an added bonus.  I only sewed four measly items for Jane.  Yikes.  I really thought I sewed more for her.  The things I did sew for her were a little more time consuming, though.  She has some projects already planned for this year.

Jacqueline Tops

Next chart, by pattern company.

Self drafted sounds fancy but most of that is all those half-circle skirts I made.  And I love all of them.  They probably win for most worn garment of this year, especially the leopard print one.  I used a few Indie patterns but most of that category goes to Tina Givens patterns.  I really like her wild, art teacher designs.  I love a big linen top.  My white Luella is such funky one.  And I wear my Jacqueline tops all the time.  All the time.  In fact, they may have surpassed my circle skirts at this point...

By fabric type. No surprise about the linen.  I love linen.  But yes, you so have to embrace the rumple.  I also discovered this year.

This last graph is a new one I added.  It's all my projects categorized as either a success, fail, or meh.  I added in ufo and baby for a few projects I couldn't categorize.  

I had a rough time this year with making things I was unhappy with.  It all came to head this summer.  It looks like I made a ton of projects in July but most of those were a bunch of fails I made at one time.   Looking back, my unrest in sewing things coincided with my unrest with life at the time.  I wrote a post about J's leukemia diagnosis well over a year ago and then never mentioned it again in this space.  He has chronic myeloid leukemia for those who are new here.  It's been a rough year, although things have ended up really well these last three months of so.  J "failed" two of his medications earlier in the year.  One lowered his platelet count too much and he couldn't take the full dose.  And one caused liver toxicity, which is scary in it's own right.  Anyway, he had to stop taking medication during the summer for a while to recover before we tried a third option.  And you don't want to be off of medication for too long when you have cml.  So in hindsight, I get why I've been so wishy washy and anxiety ridden this year.  2014 has been somewhat of a roller coaster.  I've had to put on my big girl panties a few times.  J is on a third medication now and is doing fantastic.  Very minimal side effects and all of his counts are in the normal range.  I think we can exhale now because I hope we've found the meds that he can be on long term.  Which, you know, we need him around long term.

Of course this little one has been a huge bright spot this year.  She mostly overshadows all the hard stuff.  And makes it all worth it.  Those teeth...

Anyway, this turned in to a rambling and deep post.  I so enjoy writing this blog even when posts are few and far between.  I've thought lots about whether I want to keep this space up this year.  And yes, I do.  I love the sharing, the connection with others and sense of community we have around here.  I love reading sewing blogs whenever I have a free moment.  It's like being a part of great big, bright and boisterous sewing club.  So thank you for reading, thank you for having conversations with me and thank you for sharing, too!  Here's to never ending bobbins in 2015.