10.01.2014

you make me feel like dancing

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly Jumpsuit

Hey Gang! I hope life has been treating you good over the last few weeks! Goodness, has it been that long? After coming down from the last crazy show install at work I have been trying to spend some time on 'me' the past month. Trying to find that life balance again of work/play/home/food/exercise/friends/family/hobbies... you know, the never-ending list that makes up a 'life'! And I've also been trying to soak up as much of the summer as I still can. September and October are my favorite months here in Galveston because the tourist season has ended, I get the beaches to myself (little known fact, fall is the best time for the beach here, the water is totally clear, slightly cooler than it's normal 'bathtub' or 'urine' temperatures, and there's no seaweed) and the weather is still summery perfection. I always feel like this time of year is sort of a brand new start - perhaps a bit of that lingering 'back to school' mentality - a great time to make goals, take stock, perhaps slow down a bit, and renew priorities. So that's been my focus these past few weeks.

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly Jumpsuit

And of course I've been sewing! Because 'life' would not be 'life' without the feel of fun new fabrics and the whir of my little machines. I've mostly been focusing on my latest make for the Mood Sewing Network - this fabulous Holly Jumpsuit made up in a bubblegum pink, vintage-y Marc Jacobs viscose print (no longer available online). I originally fell in love with the sister color-way of this fabric (coral and yellow flowers on a deep blueish-purple background) but sadly my 'buy now' fingers were not fast enough and it was sold out in the blink of an eye. Devastated, I consoled myself with this, slightly odd, pink, blue and green yardage you see here. Pink and green seems like a bit of a peculiar color combination to me, but I think that's precisely why I ended up loving this fabric. The green tones down the overall Barbie vibe of this pink and takes into a more unique, even modern, territory. 

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly Jumpsuit

The pattern is of course non other than By Hand London's newest pattern release, the Holly Jumpsuit. I was pretty smitten with the cowl-necked, disco fabulous version of this pattern as soon as I saw it. Many of the versions I've been seeing pop up in the ol' blog feed since the release have been from pattern testers who either tested an earlier version of this pattern, or Variation 1, featuring a cute button-up bodice. Don't get me wrong, those versions are fabulous, but it was this 'Bianca Jagger goes to Studio 54' view that really stole my heart. I wasn't completely sold on using this Marc Jacobs print to make this pattern at first (I had visions of 40's inspired fall dresses) but after a quick consultation with my pal Heather Lou (always a good idea to keep sewing friends on speed dial - or in this case, email - in the event of just such a conundrum) I decided a head-to-toe pepto-pink-and-green look was exactly what I needed in my life!

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly Jumpsuit
Crazy eyes!!
I actually made two - count them, two! muslins of this pattern because I wasn't completely confident about the fit - jumpsuits are kinda tricky like that. I went with a size US8 and the first muslin (here and here) seemed to have a lot of excess fabric pooling above the waistline of the back bodice and some horizontal pulling at the bust. I pinched out the excess fabric at the back and then performed a small 1/4" FBA (full bust adjustment) - not something I usually have to do - to the front bodice, rotating the dart into the pleats of the cowl neck. I felt like these were pretty big pattern changes to make so I went ahead and made another muslin to check fit again, but decided to check the FBA changes before adjusting the back bodice, because I had read somewhere that you should only make one fitting adjustment at a time. Well, my second muslin (here and here) had a nice, neat looking back without any fabric pooling, but my horizontal lines at the bust were still there! Not to mention that the FBA had added width to the side seams (as it's supposed to do) which in the second muslin I felt like I could do without. But I was muslin-ed out and deemed my second go around 'good enough' and decided to cut into my fabric. Also, my deadline for my post was fast approaching... decisions had to be made. 

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly JumpsuitMood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly Jumpsuit

As I was cutting out my fabric I gave absolutely zero thought in regards to print placement. Like less than zero. Seriously, it didn't occur to me at all. Which means that the fact that those green flowers are so evenly placed down the front of my legs leaves me pleasantly baffled! However, not all my cut pieces were quite so serendipitous... my original front bodice piece (which is cut on the bias) featured two big ol' green and blue flowers right over each breast! Yep. Way to go, Sal. Luckily I had just enough fabric left to cut myself another bodice with less suspicious flower placement. 

HOWEVER!! After I cut bodice numero uno (the one with the FBA, remember?) I noticed that it grew considerably due to the bias cut in my fabric. Turns out this Marc Jacobs viscose/poly silky, crepe-y, magical fabric is quite susceptible to shiftiness and stretching on the bias! Which means... when I cut out my second bodice I decided I didn't need the extra room after all and went with the originally drafted bodice straight out of the packaging. Yes, that means what you think it means: THOSE TWO MUSLINS WERE FOR NOTHING!

So my final thoughts on fitting this pattern are: 1) a drape-y fabric can hide a multitude of fitting sins 2) strap length can also make a huge difference with this pattern (in my case, it got rid of all that mysterious back bodice excess fabric I mentioned way back in muslin #1) and 3) The BHL gang are currently executing a Holly Jumpsuit sewalong with a myriad of fitting posts!

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly Jumpsuit

Putting this jumpsuit together was really quite straight forward. Those BHL ladies wrote some fine instructions, and, remember, I had already sewn it twice before (no, I'm not still bitter...) I decided to give my pants a deep, 3" hem, and I hemmed them to wear with my clogs. For reference, I'm about 5'6" and my clogs have about a 3" heel. I didn't have to add any length to the legs because these suckers are loooong as drafted.

But just because the instructions and process was straight forward doesn't mean that I didn't muck it up. I ended up cursing my way through attaching the bias binding along the back, armholes, and extending into the shoulder straps. You guys. I. hate. bias. binding. I glued that shit down and used about a thousand pins per inch and still it somehow managed to shift out of place under my presser foot. I think in the future I'm just going to hand sew it in place. It will probably take less time overall once you consider all the unpicking I have to do! But it turned out fine in the end *deeep sigh*.

The other place I made a major cock-up of things was with the zipper. In my sewing haste I did not stop to consider that my bias cut front bodice may have continued to grow as I was working on it and therefore when I went to attach my zipper my waist seam was way off. If you squint you can see it in the photo above. And I left it like that... because.... pink jumpsuit. More of the 'frosting' type of garment than the 'cake', wouldn't you say? In other words, as much as I love my finished jumpsuit, it probably won't be a wardrobe staple, more of 'special occasion' getup. And on those 'special occasions' no one will be looking at my waist seam.

Especially after I stun them with my sweet sweet dance moves!!

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly JumpsuitMood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly JumpsuitMood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly Jumpsuit

Ah HAH! You thought my title for this post was completely arbitrary, didn't you!?!? No no! There is always a method to my madness! In this case, I took those disco vibes I was getting from this pattern very literally.

Now I would like you to imagine me pulling out my worst best dance moves in front of my tripod, with a self timer, on this residential sidewalk, in front of some stranger's home, at around 5pm when everyone is driving home from work.  Picture it in your mind...

YOU'RE WELCOME!

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Floral + BHL Holly Jumpsuit

And on that note, I'll sign off! Until next time, my friends, Happy trails!

xx

*The fabric for this post was provided to me free of charge by Mood Fabrics*

8.29.2014

flowers and colors and newness

Mood Fabrics | Thakoon Amparo Blue & White Viscose Jersey | Vogue1287

Hi guys! So you may have noticed that I've done some redecorating around these parts! I hope you like it! I've been meaning to give my blog a little facelift for awhile now but couldn't quite decide how far I wanted to go with it.  Eventually I decided just a little sprucing up, a little feng shui, and a new coat of paint was really all I needed to make this space feel fresh again. There's no major reason for the new look, I just felt like it was time.  For the most part everything is still the same, but I might be doing some larger reorganizing of things in the next few weeks, so don't be alarmed if things keep changing or look a bit weird if you come back and visit. I do all this stuff myself, so it's a lot of trial and error and googling things like "how do I get rid of the weird space in my sidebar in blogger". Fun times! Speaking of which, if anyone can tell me how to get rid of that skinny black line underneath my header I will tunnel through cyberspace and give you a giant smooch!! (translate: I will be forever grateful and I'll repay you with undying love and loyalty. Like a puppy.) (UPDATE!! Problem solved!! Jana, you win my endless love and devotion!)

Mood Fabrics | Thakoon Amparo Blue & White Viscose Jersey | Vogue1287

So let's talk about this dress! This is my latest make for the Mood Sewing Network.  I generally feel like sewists take one of two approaches when confronted with a large scale print, like this Thakoon Amparo Blue and White Viscose Jersey. You either opt for a simple silhouette to pair it with so the whole thing doesn't become to overwhelming, or you go for an equally statement making design and the let the print and style duke it out. Winner takes all? Or perhaps the battle simply swallows whoever was foolish enough to attempt the pairing in the first place! Well, whatever, I fall into the latter category.

Mood Fabrics | Thakoon Amparo Blue & White Viscose Jersey | Vogue1287

This jersey is the stuff of dreams. It's a sheer, light as a feather, tissue weight jersey, with a modest amount of stretch, and it drapes like a boss. I ordered several yards of it without really having a plan for what it would become, but once it arrived I couldn't get over how gorgeous it looked as it folded and shimmied over itself.  The large blue floral print became abstracted and even more beautiful than when left un-manipulated.


Mood Fabrics | Thakoon Amparo Blue & White Viscose Jersey | Vogue1287

So I decided to pair it with Vogue 1287, a DKNY pattern that I've had in my pattern stash for awhile. This pattern's got pleats out the wazooey, saggy pockets, kimono sleeves, a mock wrap top... it's got errrythang! I knew that the Thakoon jersey would be much too drapey and ... I don't know... ephemeral to stand up to all those pleats, but I also imagined this fabric falling in soft folds instead of sharp pleats and, in my minds eye, this pairing seemed inspired. At the time. I'm not 100% sure how I feel about the end result, but there are a few reasons for this.

Mood Fabrics | Thakoon Amparo Blue & White Viscose Jersey | Vogue1287

Chief among them being that this was one of those patterns that suggests jersey as a possible fabric, but only includes instructions for wovens. Total pet peeve of mine. Why do you do this, Big 4 Patterns?? Why?! Who understitches a jersey?? I ended up following the instructions as they were written, my reasoning being that this viscose jersey wasn't extremely stretchy, and that the style itself didn't have any areas of negative ease, so I really didn't need the fabric to stretch.  It turned out mostly all right, however there are a few areas where the stitching pulls the fabric too tight and I got some puckering - like around the pockets.

Mood Fabrics | Thakoon Amparo Blue & White Viscose Jersey | Vogue1287

Speaking of the pockets - I love how deep and slouchy these are! They create some volume around the hips which helps balance the blousy-ness of the bodice. You can also get a peak at the accompanying slip I made for this dress. This was included with the pattern and I was soooo tempted to skip it! However my jersey was very sheer and really needed a slip, and I didn't own any plain white slips, so I decided to give it a go. I used some white crepe de chine I've had lying around. I had barely enough to make this slip, which is all cut on the bias.  I sewed it up one night after work and expected it to go together in a couple hours. The slip had different plans. It was just so finnicky! I forgot how stressful sewing bias cut garments can be! However, I'm glad to have it.

Mood Fabrics | Thakoon Amparo Blue & White Viscose Jersey | Vogue1287

The back is definitely the most boring view of the whole dress.  The back waistband is gathered with elastic (yawn) and the pockets wrap around the hips (the potential is there but it leaves me feeling a bit 'meh').  I sewed a straight size 12 for this dress, but probably could have sized down. I tried it on after inserting the elastic and the waist was very loose, which, combined with the loose, drapey bodice, the saggy hip pockets, and the large print, made for a very unflattering dress. Luckily, the solution was simple, I just cut a smaller length of elastic to pull the waist tighter, which created the shape I was missing before.  I also only had 1 inch wide elastic on hand, and this pattern calls for 1.5 inch wide elastic. I thought I could get away with it, but it really does look a bit sloppy, so I think I'll switch it out for wider elastic when I make my next Joanne's run. 

Mood Fabrics | Thakoon Amparo Blue & White Viscose Jersey | Vogue1287

If I'm being truthful, this dress kind of stressed me out. I probably should have tried to make something a bit more straightforward this month because I was in the midst of a very labor intensive install at the gallery which had me running on fumes. But I had a vision! And dammit, I wanted to see it come to fruition! But the combination of this delicate knit, the instructions, and all those pleats (seriously, it felt like they were never ending... I think I spent three nights after work skipping dinner and just sewing fricking pleats. I could be exaggerating. But I don't think I am) and that shifty bias slip had me crying out in frustration on more than one occasion! And then, when it was time for me to try it on, I couldn't quite decide if I was wearing the dress, or if the dress was wearing me! The combination of the print and the pleats and the drapes just seemed like... a lot

But I think it's growing on me. Now that I'm on the other side of my work stress and I've had a few good nights sleeps under my belt (and stopped skipping meals) I can look at this dress and see that maybe it's actually the right amount of everything.  

Maybe...

xx

8.14.2014

back to school

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Even though I've officially been finished with my education for seven years, this time of year will always make me think of going back to school. I swear, there's just something in the slight shift in the light that signals the end of sumer and with it the impending doom of a new school year! I know some people associate that 'back to school' feeling with excitement, but for me it always meant the return of stress and anxiety - juggling good grades with extracurricular activities and often more than one demeaning and depressing job (Lord, may I never again have to waitress at a chain restaurant where they make you stop what you're doing every 30 minutes to line dance in the aisles...) not to mention the social and emotional labyrinth that was being a teenager. Thankfully, the majority of this anxiety has abated as I've gotten older, got out of school, and just generally got on with life. But I still visit my high school in my anxiety-induced nightmares - you know the one... You forgot your locker combination, which is bad enough, but you can't even remember where your locker IS anymore, and come to think of it, it's the end of the semester and you don't think you've been to Calculus all year and surely you're failing, and where is your calculus classroom? Who's the teacher? Are you failing all your classes? Can you make up all the tests in one day?

Yeah. That one.

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But there was one thing I always loved about going back to school, and that was getting a brand new 'back to school outfit'. Complete with shoes. Definitely the silver lining to the whole 'back to school' thing. Somehow that new outfit could convince me that this year was gonna be different, better. With my new outfit I'd suddenly understand Physics, I'd get the lead in the school musical, I wouldn't feel the sting of the mean girls, and I'd maybe get to skip out of gym (ha!). Apparently I thought a new outfit could do a lot! Even as a poor art student I still scraped together my money to carry on the tradition of buying myself a new somethingsomething for the upcoming year. I hung all my hopes and goals and aspirations on that outfit.

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All this musing and tripping down memory lane has a point. I swear. True, it's a bit of an oblique point, but a point all the same. And the point is this: this outfit reminds me of a 'back to school' outfit. Okay, my skirt may not have passed dress code, but anytime I see gold paired with blue (bonus points if you throw in some cranberry red too) I'll always think of 'back to school'.  And you know, when I got dressed this morning, I still felt like today was gonna be a good day, because I was wearing some new duds. Of course that was before a hose leaked all down my back. Totally should've taken blog photos before I went in to work!

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Aaaanywho! This skirt probably needs no introduction. It's V1247  one of those beloved (by me) Rachel Comey patterns, which plenty of other sewistas have made up before me. A few of my favorites are Sophie's (here, and here) Heather's (here) and Carolyn's (whose made a few, but here's one, and here's another).  Every time this little skirt makes a show in my blogroll I'm always pleased to see it, and without fail I'll ask myself, "Self, why haven't you made that skirt yet?" I've made the top from V1247 (click on that link if you want a throwback! My hair!!) but never got around to making the skirt. After seeing Sophie's latest versions I decided enough was enough and it was time to right this pattern negligence wrong.

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It just so happens that I had this funky little palm tree print stretch cotton twill that I picked up with my Mood allowance sitting around, gathering dust, with no real plan for.  Nothing like pairing an overlooked pattern with an overlooked fabric! I just love giving these things a happy ending!  I cut the skirt in a size 10, which would have been a close fit if it wasn't for this fabric's stretch. As is, it's a ridiculously comfy skirt! I also decided to keep the original length, though I noticed that many other ladies who've sewn this up added length. I was going to add an inch in length, but at the last minute I decided, nah, just go for it! I really love the super mini length paired with the high waist. It feels very 70's collegiate to me - a bit Gloria Steinem, or like something my Mom would've worn in her late teens and early 20's.

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I did, however hem the back of the skirt a half inch longer than the front to compensate for the fact that my rump ate up some of the length back there. Also, pockets as design features are highly underrated.

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This skirt came together pretty much without a hitch. Although I did almost lose it once or twice with the bias bound innards. The pattern calls for you to make your own bias binding, but I decided to just use up some random bits of pre-made bias binding that I've had lying around.  Therefore, my innards look a bit like a carnival! I have to admit, I hate this method of seam finishing. Sure it looks pretty, but it's a major pain in the tuckus. Bias binding is just so fiddly!! After a total hack-job on the curved pockets, I decided to forgo the idea of pinning the binding in place, and instead brought out my trusty glue stick and started glueing that shit down! It stopped me from ripping out my eyeballs. So there's that. To all you ladies who choose this method of seam finishing of your own accord (not because a pattern tells you to) well... I will readily admit that you are finer seamstresses than me!

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I decided to wear my new skirt with my blue linen Archer, which looked quite sharp this morning, but after a day of sweating and leaking hoses... well, I was looking a bit rumpled by the evening! I'm also looking forward to pairing this skirt with my bodysuits for an overall svelte look. All in all, a fun little addition to the wardrobe!

So does anyone else get the 'back to school blues' this time of year, regardless of the fact that you're not actually going back to school?

xx

8.01.2014

it's not easy being green

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

I'm sorry, I really couldn't help myself with this post title. I know it's lame, but then again... shhh.. don't tell anyone... I'm kinda lame!

Anyway! Hiya friends! Welcome to August. Time, man.... it's flying. I had a pretty wonderful July, if I do say so myself (and I do). I got a nice long visit in with my family in PA, doing nothing but lounging by the pool, reading alll the mystery novels, having looong chats with my Mom, and catching up with my sister, one of my two brothers, my Daddy-o, and playing with my little nieces and nephews (for as long as my energy would allow). Sometimes there's just nothing like family to recharge you and make you feel centered again. Although Nick always says that every time I come home from visiting my family I revert to being a little kid again. Eh... what can you do? Once the baby of the family, always the baby of the family!

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

Oh you wanted to talk about sewing! How silly of me! Yes, well this is my July make for the Mood Sewing Network, and I'm pretty stoked about it. The fabric for the skirt is this Ultramarine Green Embroidered Linen, and it's delicious. I almost didn't click 'buy' on this fabric because, quite frankly, I'm not a huge fan of the color green (had it been red, there would have been no hesitation). I mean, besides in nature. Obviously. I think my anti-green sentiments stem from my painting days when I discovered that Phthalo green (similar to this 'ultramarine' hue in the skirt) is an evil, evil color that does not play well with the other colors. It is a color bully, squashing out all the colors with a more delicate chemical makeup. And it doesn't occur in nature. So I kept it well and good away from my palette, just like I do with bullies in real life. 

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

Now that you understand my completely rational bias against green, let's talk about how this fabric won me over. Because it did. Completely. First of all - it's linen, the fabric of summer. Second of all - it's embroidered, which means it's full of both visual and textural candy. And finally - that print!! What would you call that print? Tribal? Aztec? I'm pretty down with Mood's description of it being simply 'geometric'. But whatever it is, I think it's pretty fantastic. So fantastic that I embraced it's green-ness and grabbed a couple yards to call my own. I actually had an immediate idea that I wanted to make it into a full skirt. I felt that with the embroidery and the print it would have a really lovely gypsy/bohemian/70's vibe when worn as a full skirt.

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

I used Colette's Zinnia skirt pattern, view A, for the pattern. I haven't made something from Colette in ages. I guess for awhile it just felt like their styles weren't speaking to me, but I've already discussed how I feel like my style has been changing recently.  Anyway, it was nice to revisit this beloved indie brand.  Zinnia is a really straightforward skirt, definitely great for a beginner. It has an a-line shape and a gathered waist with a front button placket. I always feel a bit like a cheater making 'beginner' or simple patterns, but that feeling only lasts for a minute or two.  In reality, I just choose patterns that feel right stylistically, not based on skill level. And a gathered, full skirt is, yes, easy to sew, but it's also a classic that never goes out of style.

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn't even consider print matching until I was well into cutting out my pattern pieces. Thankfully I had just cut out the back skirt piece, and one half of the front before I stopped and was like, "Oh shit, yeah, this could be one hell of an eyesore if I don't do some print matching!" So I made the minimal effort of making sure that the horizontal bands of the print lined up across the front (true confessions: I thought I did a better job with matching up the print at the center front, but I forgot to take into account that the button placket would eat up some of the print. Whoops.) 

This linen took a little bit of finagling to get everything working right. After I pre-washed it and hung it to dry, the embroidered areas shrank up a bit, leaving the wide, plain, white, linen selvedges a bit wavy. I steamed it and pressed it, but the shrinkage was done. I had planned on using the plain white selvedges for the waistband and button placket, but now they were all buckled. In the end I just cut them away from the embroidered area and gave them a good press to restore their shape, and cut my pattern pieces from them that way.  It all worked out, as you can see. 

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

The linen was also slightly sheer, so I decided to line it with some white cotton lawn I had in my stash. I debated doing this, because the embroidered linen was also quite heavy and could get pretty thick in places, and I didn't want to add to the bulk of the gathered waist.  However I'm glad I went for it. It really gives the skirt some good support, and it's completely opaque, which makes getting dressed much easier (no digging around my unmentionables drawer for light colored undies, or, god forbid, a slip). The Zinnia pattern doesn't include instructions for lining this version, however it was really easy.  I just cut the skirt pieces out of the cotton lawn, minus about an inch in length. I sewed up the side seams and hemmed it before doing anything else.  Then I simply sewed the linen and the lawn as one layer when I created the button placket and the button band, enclosing the lawn along the center front, and allowing the rest of the hem to hang free.  Gathering the two layers of fabric was a bit touch and go, but it worked out just fine, and after some serious trimming, the waistband is pretty much bulk free!

Those of you that follow me on instagram know that I had a helluva time choosing buttons for this skirt. I bought two sets of buttons, the jade green plastic ones you see here, and also a set of bamboo buttons. Being genuinely stumped myself I took a poll of just about everyone I know - Nick, my Mom and sister, all of instagram - to see which they preferred, and the consensus was overwhelmingly pro-green! Who knew so many people like the color green?!? Of course I still wasn't totally sold, and delayed my decision making until the last minute, when I finally rationalized that these green buttons really were a perfect match with this fabric, and the bamboo buttons are more likely to go with some future fabric/project down the road. So practicality wins the day.

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

This striped top is also a new make. It's another of Closet Case File's Nettie bodysuit, made up in some navy and white striped rayon-y knit that I picked up at a Houston fabric joint. This summer has really been the season of Nettie's for me.  I actually have another Nettie hack all made up that I've been wearing out and about that I need to photograph and write a post about.  This bodysuit was a seriously quick make.  I honestly made it - from cutting to hammering on the crotch snaps - in one evening after work.  I even stopped to eat dinner somewhere in there.  And that's just one of the joys of sewing a knit with a pattern you know works.   This may also just be one of the best looking knit sewing jobs I've ever done.  The neck and leg bindings look ace, the stripes match up on the sides, and kinda on the sleeves too! The insides were all sewn on the serger, and the sleeves were hemmed with a twin needle. For the snap crotch binding I used self fabric interfaced with non-stretch fusible interfacing.  It worked much better than trying to handle a slippery, silky fabric, although it was a bit thick when it came time to hammer in my snaps.  Next time I might just interface some lightweight woven fabric and see how that works.

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

I've really been gravitating to this silhouette of a skin-tight bodice paired with a full skirted bottom.  It's a classically feminine look that just nails it 90% of the time.  However I'm always a bit wary of how I put this look together because I think it can read too '50's housewife' for me.  That look works for plenty of women, but it just looks silly on me.  I think the print mixing of this outfit, and the type of prints used, help the whole outfit feel more modern and bohemian than June Cleaver.  At least that was my aim! 

Well, my lovelies, I think that was plenty of words for this post! I have a few more summer makes planned over the next couple of weeks, so I should be back soon!

xx

7.07.2014

beach babe-in'

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Hi Ya'll!! I hope all my buddies here in the States had a great holiday weekend - maybe you got out of the house, made your way to a nearby pool, or park, or beach, maybe there were some hotdogs involved? Some beer? Or maybe, like me, you spent your holiday holed up with your sewing machines and your newest pattern obsession! Nothing like a long weekend for churning out a few handmade goodies! Which of course culminates in an uber awkward photo session, this time on the beach, in a bikini, with some very curious onlookers!

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Some of you that have been around here for awhile might know that I am currently calling the little beach town of Galveston, TX "home". And while it doesn't boast the classiest or most scenic of beaches, there is still a freaking ocean (okay... gulf - smaller waves, but still salty, and a heckuvalot warmer) just a mere 5 blocks from my front door. And I am not one to turn my nose up to sand, sun, and surf. Actually, I luurve the beach. And living here has taught me that fleshing out my beach (and pool) attire with some new, stylish, non-stretched-out-elastic-saggy-butt swim duds is not only fun, but necessary, as these little garments get quite a lot of wear in a season. Which is why I'm always super psyched when I hear that a new swimsuit pattern is on the market! Last year I got my first foray into sewing swimwear with Heather Lou's Bombshell swimsuit (the suit that made waves across the sewing blogosphere!) And this year I felt ready to take on some more swimwear sewing.

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This is Papercut Patterns newest addition to their collection - the Soma Swimsuit (bikini, variation 2). I was pretty intrigued by this pattern when I saw the release of their newest collection, TRI, but I really fell in love, like, hard, when I saw Lauren's adorable stripe-y version.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't seriously tempted to copy every. single. thing. about that suit! Right down to the yellow trim (and Lauren's hot bod!) But, alas, I begrudgingly made myself muster an inkling of originality and began searching the internet for some fun swim fabric of my own.

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My search didn't last too long, however, and I ended up landing on this nylon spandex from none other than Girl Charlee.  For the contrast triangle I went with a light coral tricot.  Looking at the fabrics online this seemed like it would be a fun color combination, but once I got them together I wasn't so sure - maybe black would have been better? No matter though, I still thought they looked good enough to forge ahead, as you can see! I also decided to get the most out of the different color shifts in this floral-y print by cutting the bust cup pieces out of two different areas. I like how this really highlights the style lines of the top. Otherwise, I thought they might get lost in this busy fabric.

I ended up having to draw in my size for this pattern, because my measurements landed me squarely in between an XS and a S. In retrospect, I probably could have gone with the XS, as drafted, for the top - which was only a half inch off from my bust measurement, but you just never know! After all, there is nothing worse than a swimsuit that pinches your fleshy parts too tight! And almost equally as bad is a swimsuit that is so big you lose it altogether every time you dive into the pool or get hit by a wave! So I wasn't taking any chances. And, as a matter of fact, I am grateful for that extra inch I added to the bottoms!

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I was also a bit worried about bust support with this top. Let's get a bit TMI... I have a pretty average sized bust - I wear a 34C (or a 32D, depending on the bra) however, when left to their own devices, my ladies like to point towards the side, or perhaps I just carry most of my breast tissue towards the sides. So my yearning for bust support wasn't so much about lift (although that's welcome too) but more about keeping my lovelies front and center. After reading Lauren's review of this pattern I gleaned that it would be a bit awkward, or down right impossible, to add swim cups. So I started looking for another route and ended up buying some poly laminate foam from Sew Sassy. This is basically the same stuff that swim cups are made out of, just in one giant sheet instead of formed into boob domes. I cut the two bust cup pieces out of the foam, minus the 1cm seam allowance, then constructed my bust cups as indicated in the instructions - which basically leaves you with the cups and lining connected at the center, horizontal seam (all seam allowances neatly enclosed) but the edges all free. Then I slipped the foam pieces in and topstitched them in place along the horizontal seam. The instructions tell you to only topstitch the bottom cup, but I found that without the topstitching the foam created a little 'ridge' - so both the upper cup and bottom cup got the topstitching treatment.

Once again, in retrospect, I probably could have left it out and I would have been fine - or done as Lauren did and just triple the layers for the bust cup - but this does give a nice, defined boob area, and no chance of nipple show through.

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I also bought black lingerie elastic from Sew Sassy, and used some leftover rubber swimwear elastic that I had from last year's swimsuit sewing for all the edges. However, the lingerie elastic was a bit flimsier than what I was expecting (I saw later that they sell bra straps separately, and that probably was more along the lines of what I had in mind, and what the pattern calls for - this elastic is more like what you might use on a camisole) so I decided to get creative and use multiple straps to help hold the top in place. It does the job, and looks like a cool design feature, even though it was a total spur-or-the-moment, 'make it work', kind of decision.

I love the cut of the bottoms on this suit! They're actually pretty substantial, but they're just a touch cheeky! Sexy!

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After taking these photos I discovered that my swim fabric totally changes colors when wet - in this case with under-boob sweat! So classy. Ah well, I've already embarrassed myself about as much as I can by even posting these pictures on the internet, what's a little boob sweat to top it all off?? 

But seriously, if you would have told me a few short years ago that I would be making my own swimsuits one day I would have called you crazy pants. But here I am! And it feels awesome! Also, when I think about how much I spent on materials for this (and I have a TON left over) and how fast it was to sew, and then I look at the price of a good portion of the swimwear out there, I feel like I just cheated the system. Affordable, handmade, swimwear for all!! 

Now to (safely) get to work on my tan... let the beach bummin' commence!

xx

6.18.2014

candy striper

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Do you guys remember that part in Sex and the City when Big is in New York for heart surgery and Carrie can't stop crying, and she goes to his hotel room where he's recuperating all dressed up like a sexy candy striper to keep him company, and they play games all night, and as they're falling asleep Big is like, "Kid, what are we doing?", and we're all like, "YES! Big finally gets it!", but then in the morning they wake up and he's all distant, and dick-ish, and kicks over the dominos, and we're like, "God dammit! Why do I even watch this show?!?" ?

Yeah... me too...

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This post has nothing to do with that. Except that anytime I see a fabric with thin red lines (especially if they're vertical) I inevitably think of the traditional candy striper uniform (and not necessarily the sexy kind!)

But enough of my free associating! I made a new dress! A simple, classic, easy breezy, knit dress - perfect for pulling on and feeling 'done' in a matter of seconds. I love it for work, I love it for the weekends, I love it for the swelteringly hot summer days we've been having, and for the many more that are yet to come! 

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This is my first, of (hopefully) many, Nettie hack dresses (and before you even ask, yes I am aware that my hem is uneven... more on that in a bit). Ever since making my black Nettie bodysuit I've been scheming up ways to work that pattern, because that little bodysuit has been getting a lot of wardrobe play! My favorite way to wear it is with fuller skirts, so when I was planning a Nettie hack it seemed like a no brainer to pair the top of the bodysuit with a full skirt. There are plenty of patterns out there to create a similar dress (Kitschy Coo's Lady Skater dress, and Colette's Moneta come to mind, but I'm sure there are others). However, this was such an easy pattern hack that it seems a bit silly to purchase another pattern. That Nettie is proving to be quite the versatile little pattern!

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To make this I simply tried on my Nettie bodysuit, made a mark where my natural waist fell, then took it off and transferred that mark to the flat pattern (for reference, on me, it was about 1 inch below the second 'lengthen/shorten' line). Then I drafted a half circle skirt using my actual waist measurement, which is 27.5 inches, and the length I wanted the skirt to be, 26 inches (my preferred midi length), and with the help of the BHL circle skirt app, was able to figure out the maths and draw it up. I cut two half circles and sewed them together at the side seams to make a full circle (of course this was my intention all along so I took that into account when figuring out the waist radius. If this is making your head hurt, don't worry, mine hurts way worse!)

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I suspect my less-than-accurate method of circle skirt drafting could use some work, because as you can see in some of these photos, the hem dips down in one area on both the back and the front. This would have been an easy thing to catch had I taken a second to try on the dress before I hemmed it, but I was in such a rush to wear the damn thing I went full speed ahead! It wasn't until I donned the finished dress and paraded out to the living room to show Nick that I discovered my error. It went a little something like this:

Me: Hey! How do you like my new dress!
Nick: (wolf whistles and other prerequisite admiring sounds) Looks great! I especially love the uneven hem!
Me: WHAT DO YOU MEAN 'UNEVEN HEM'????!!!!

Of course I could go back and fix the uneven areas, but let's be real, I'm not going to. I can live with a little hem dip if you can.

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The fabric is a cotton jersey with a "Persimmon Red Slub Stripe" from Girl Charlee. It has about 30% width wise stretch, and not much vertical stretch. It's slightly sheer, but I just couldn't bring myself to line it (re: swelteringly hot) so nude undergarments are a must! I love the slightly preppy look of stripes in summer dresses, and playing with stripe direction is always fun when planning a garment. I love the way the stripes change direction across the circle skirt - it makes this garment look much more complicated than it is!

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There's not too much to say regarding the actual construction of the dress. I used a long zig-zag stitch, and a walking foot, to baste all the seams before sewing them on the serger to ensure that all my stripes matched up. I used clear elastic to stabilize both the shoulder and the waist. For the waist, I cut my elastic to fit the un-stretched waist of the bodice (26 inches), then first basted my skirt to the elastic, stretching the elastic as I went to create an even gather at the skirt waist. Then I serged the bodice and skirt together. This creates a nice, straight, waistline. As you can see, I left off the sleeves to the Nettie and instead used the same flat-binding method that is used for the neckline to finish the armholes. The hem, predictably, took forever. I first serged the raw edge, then sewed a long gathering stitch along the edge, turned it up and eased in the fullness, pressed it and stitched it down with a twin needle. Besides the uneven-ness, the hem is quite pretty!

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And for the second non-sequitor of this post, let's talk real quick about bodies - somehow it just feels so tied up with sewing your own wardrobe, and this dress is a great example of how making my own clothes has changed the way I feel about my body. This past weekend I was getting caught up on some blog reading and I read this post from Sarai over at the Coletterie which really resonated with me. I agree with pretty much all her points, but the one that really stood out to me was "Body Attitudes Change". Not to completely reiterate Sarai's post, but, you guys, bodies change!! And what's even more, the way we feel about our body, and in our body, and what we put on our body changes too. Even just a year ago I would not have considered this silhouette particularly flattering on me, but now, I just can't get enough of it! For the record, while my body is healthy and strong and (I feel) beautiful, I am not at my thinnest, nor my most toned. I lead an active life, but I don't really exercise, and as I get older it shows. You would think I'd be more comfortable in the looser clothes I used to favor, or ones that don't highlight my wide(er) waist, and full(er) upper body. Don't get me wrong, I still love my loose, billowy styles, it's just these days I've been feeling prettier, and more like 'myself' in curve-hugging silhouettes. At times it's almost felt like an identity crisis! 

It's extremely interesting to think about the way your body evolves in relation to the way your tastes and style evolves. It doesn't always work the way you think. I can't say whether these styles, like the dress here, are 'technically flattering' for my body 'type' (whatever that means). But I do know that I feel good in them, and to my eye, I don't look too shabby either.

What about you guys, has your tastes or style evolved in relation to your body changes? Has it surprised you?

xx