pumping iron

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

'Sup dudes! It's the first day of October (as I'm writing this)... how did that happen? September, where did you go?

This post is going to be a bit different for me.  I'll just be talking about sewing briefly before I begin quite the ramble... This past month I've been experimenting with making my own activewear.

I go into a good amount of detail on the construction of each of these 4 makes over on the Mood Sewing Network blog, so I thought it might be nice to change it up a little bit over here and talk about making fitness a part of my life.  Hopefully this doesn't send you all running for the proverbial hills! As I said, there's lots of sewing talk going on over on the MSN site, so no hard feelings if you click over now and skip what's to come! I promise I'll be back with more shop talk next time.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

I began working out in earnest a little over a year ago and it's become a pretty important aspect of, if not my life than certainly my daily grind! I know a lot (erm.... all) of you come here for the sewing talk, but I thought today I might talk about my fitness journey and a few of the tips I've picked up along the way, as well as my philosophy behind the whole 'fit' lifestyle. I'm always nervous to tread off the beaten path and talk about my other interests on this blog, but I've also received so much inspiration, knowledge and even comfort from reading about others fitness journeys this past year that I thought it might be nice to share my own.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

Okay, so let's get physical! 

It was around this time last year that I decided I wanted to do more than the occasional, half-hearted attempt at yoga, and my daily bike commute in terms of activity.  This decision was brought on for a number of reasons, but mainly I just wasn't feeling great. And I also realized one day that I had sort of decided the whole 'working out' thing was not for me without ever really giving it a chance - like really really committing to it and seeing how it goes. I had been scarred by a childhood of always being picked last in PE and being the benchwarmer in every team sport I ever played.  I just thought I was un-athletic and that was that.  But with the distance of adulthood I realized that I always approached physical activity as a chore rather than a privilege, or - god forbid - something I could enjoy. And somehow this didn't seem fair. I figured if I was going to write something off as being 'not for me' I had to at least give it the good ol' college try.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

So I started working out. Every single day. I started small, doing a little circuit I made up around the house that involved me running up and down the stairs and doing a series of bodyweight exercises. I vowed to work out for at least 20 minutes every day.  Slowly I upped my game to more intense workouts. I discovered Fitness Blender (I'm probably going to mention them a lot in this post - please know that I am in no way associated with them, other than the fact that they have helped me immeasurably in this past year) and began incorporating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and weight lifting into my workouts. By Christmas I was hooked and I even asked for a set of dumbbells from Santa. Now, a little over a year later, I work out, on average,  1 hour 5 days a week with two days of 'active rest' (yoga, stretching, walking the dog, going on bike rides etc.) I now know (oh! how I know...) what a burpee is (it's not what happens after you chug a beer...) and the proper form for deadlifting, and I look forward to leg day!!!

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

I workout hard. And, at the risk of sounding evangelical, I've seen changes in my body that I didn't think were possible. But I also have to admit that I've struggled internally about feeling good about all of this. See, I'm a proud feminist, and I believe vehemently in body positivity and that size does not dictate beauty, worth, or health.  I spent many years trying to undo the damage of my teens and early 20's and the near starvation I put myself through in order to be... what? More worthy of love and respect? And I was very proud of myself that even though my weight might creep up on me, I still felt beautiful. That was a huge mental hurdle for me. So why was I now throwing myself headlong into this exercise thing? If I can be beautiful at any size, than why do I want to lose weight? I asked myself if feeling good about your body, and wanting to be more fit could coexist together?

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

Prioritizing your health is always a good thing, but I wanted to be sure I was really doing this for my health and not my vanity.  The fitness world is strange. It's easy to go from affirming, body positive sentiments like "You can do this!" "You're powerful!" to body shaming stereotypes like "Bikini Body Workouts" and overly cheerful trainers yelling at you to "Banish the Jiggle!" And then, oh god, there's the diets. So. Many. Diets. How does one navigate all the bullshit without losing their sense of self - and finding yourself, mid jumping jack, thinking about how if you do this you'll be skinny and isn't that the ultimate goal?

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

I realize I'm rambling now, but these have been real concerns of mine! And I suspect I'm not alone. Here in the sewing community we're a beautiful, diverse bunch and I'm proud to think that we foster a sense of body positivity.  In fact, I know I've been part of many discussions about how sewing has been a major factor in helping women feel good about their bodies, mine included. I didn't want all the good that the last few years being a part of this wonderful and supportive community have brought me to slip away for the sake of toned arms.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

Obviously I needed to work on my own mental hangups surrounding exercise. For so long I've thought of exercise as a punishment, not a reward. Something you have to do because you ate too many oreos. Again. So when I decided to really give fitness a place in my life, in a healthy way, I had to change the way I thought about my body and movement. Over the past year I've come to see it like this - our bodies are like dogs (stay with me here).  Dogs love to have a job to do, and the more physical that job the better. We show our dogs that we love them by taking them on walks and letting them run and jump and play. The worst thing you can do to a dog is ignore it.  Bodies aren't so different. They were made to move, and by letting them move, even challenging them, you make your body happy and are showing it that you love it. Essentially, exercise is a form of self love. And I'm all about the self love. I also don't mind a good belly rub.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

SO! Now I got all that off my chest, I thought I'd share a few of the exercise tidbits I've picked up in case anyone else is thinking of taking the plunge! Clearly I am not an expert, nor a professional, just an enthusiast who would like an outlet to talk about some of this stuff!

In no particular order, and accompanied by a few progress pics, because - what can I say? I'm proud...

9 months in
1) Exercise doesn't have to be expensive
The fitness industry is just that - an industry. If you want to spend money there are a myriad of ways to do it. Me? I'm cheap. And broke. I used to love yoga but couldn't afford to go to a studio and never felt like I pushed myself very hard on my own.  When I decided to commit to a fitness routine I needed it to be cheap. No gym membership. No personal trainer. When I first began I had an old pair of sneakers and I wore the rattiest, oldest stretch pants and t-shirts and mismatched socks. And it worked.  Eventually, once it became clear that this wasn't just a passing phase I decided to invest in a few new things. First up were 2 good sports bras. Then for Christmas I got a new pair of running shoes and a super nice set of weights. Oh and socks (because no one deserves blisters - no matter how thrifty you think you're being). Over the past year I've added a few legitimate workout clothes (besides making my own as you see here) and a pair of ankle weights. And that's it! I work out 100% at home (besides going on walks and the occasional run) with Fitness Blender. As I said, I can't recommend these guys enough.  All their videos are available for free (theres over 400), but they also have 8 week programs for an insanely reasonable $10 and 4 week programs for $6.  Once you buy a program it's yours forever and you can repeat it ad infinitum. And the programs are good. My favorites are the 8 week fitness program and the 4 week mass building program, although I haven't tried them all.

2) I don't believe in dieting
I know that diet and exercise seem to go hand in hand, but I try to avoid diets like the plague.  This is because a healthy relationship with food is something I value and I feel like diets completely undermine that relationship (for me).  And at the end of the day, weight loss isn't my goal, living a healthy life is, and food in all it's glorious forms is part of that. This doesn't mean I haven't seen changes in my body composition - I have - but those changes happened very very  slowly. So slowly that if I didn't have pictures as proof I probably wouldn't even know it. But slow and steady does win the race. 

3) Make it a habit
This is that thing that everyone says and it's so much easier said than done. But it's true. When I first began working out I decided I was going to work out every day.  In the past I had tried to commit to a 3-days-a-week schedule and I always gave up after awhile. It's just too easy to put it off if you give yourself those extra days in between. Working out everyday got me in the mindset of "this is just something I do" - it was part of my day, like showering or breakfast, or feeding the cat. Once the habit was established I began working out harder and doing more intense exercises (like weight lifting) that require some recovery time. I give myself one full day off a week, and one light workout day.  And you know what - I kind of miss working out on those off days!

4) That being said... it never gets easier
Anyone who tells you differently is a crazy sadist! (Unless you're one of those people, then high five man! You go git em!) I still have to talk myself into working out everyday. My body still whines during my warmup "Why are you doing this to me?!? We were just sitting on the couch! What was so wrong with that???" If it's the weekend I'll still spend all day procrastinating on my workout.  But every. single. time. I realize that I've spent 3 hours being unproductive and avoiding my workout which would only take up 45 minutes of my day.  It's always a better use of your time to just get it done. It takes longer to come up with excuses.


5) Come up with non-appearance-related goals and focus on those
The first, oh, 3 months I was working out I saw no physical changes. As a matter of fact I even felt bigger for awhile.  It would have been so easy to get discouraged and give up. But I was determined to make working out part of my life regardless of my physical appearance. I took on a "come what may" attitude and decided to accept whatever changes, or not, that my body decided to deliver. Instead I made myself small, performance related goals to judge my success. I worked on upper body strength. I worked on cardiovascular endurance. My current goal is increasing weight for my lower body exercises. These things keep me going. And occasionally I'll poke my head up, look in the mirror and go "Hey, that muscle wasn't there 2 weeks ago... cool!" It's fine to have appearance related goals but remember...

6) If you want to work out solely to look better, stop right there
In the past I would work out to lose weight for an event, like a wedding, or because it was swimsuit season, or to make my ex regret he ever let me go. If you've ever been in a similar mindset my advice to you is to forget about working out and work on being comfortable with where you are.  Buy (or make!) a beautiful dress that fits you as you are right now. Wear your dream swimsuit, whatever it looks like, and whatever you look like, and forget about your body and have fun at the pool or the beach. And your ex is dumb. Exercise is a beautiful thing, and as I said, can be all about self love. But in order for it to be that you have to get the basics of self love down, otherwise you'll be coming at it all wrong.


7) Weight lifting is awesome
This is my final bit of advice, and it's one of the things I've really taken to heart from my Fitness Blender workouts.  When I used to go to the gym I would spend the majority of my time on the treadmill.  When I vowed to lose weight for whatever reason I would go for a run. I hate running. Hate it. For a few years there I got deep into yoga in search of that mind/body connection, but I always lost steam when I saw no physical change.  I've weighed less than I do now, but didn't look it, if that makes sense. It wasn't until I started lifting weights - like really lifting weights, not doing 50 reps of bicep curls with 2 lbs - that I began to see any change in the way my body looks. Don't get me wrong, cardio is important and yoga is wonderful, and I still incorporate both into my weekly routines, but weight lifting  is where it's really at for me.  And when it comes to building a stronger, more capable body that ages with grace, the importance of building muscle mass can't be overstated. It's also a great way to stay curvy while you lean out - should those be things you care about. This is why the only "investment" into my fitness routine has been a set of adjustable weights - so I can lift heavy.  Obviously 'lifting heavy' is relative - my heavy is not Rhonda Rousey's, is not Arnold Schwarzeneggar's! But you get the idea.

Oh! And one last thing! Don't look at the scale! In fact, stop weighing yourself altogether. It's not an accurate depiction of fitness. I only weigh myself when I go to the doctors.  Besides, we sewists know to put our trust in our measuring tape!

Okay everyone. If you've made it to the end of this ramble, thank you for sticking with me.  I hope for some of you it was interesting and not just a bunch of navel-contemplation! And if you feel like it, please leave a comment telling me about your own fitness journey - sharing is caring, afterall!



the dust that pancho bit down south

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Hey everyone! Long time no... post? Can you believe that summer is winding down? The mornings and evenings have cooled off slightly around here which has my brain thinking about Fall - even if the weather is, by all accounts, still sweltering! 

I felt like I've been in a bit of a weird place with my making this summer.  Blame it on a lack of sewjo, or what have you, but I've been feeling pretty uninspired. What's worse, is that I wasn't even enjoying wearing my handmade clothes either! Between the heat, and some gritty tasks for me to tackle at work, my uniform became the same old pair of cut off jeans shorts and my grungiest of tees and tanks.  Not only did the people around me notice my lack of usual polish (and by "people" I mean Nick and my boss, because let's be real, that's about the extent of my social circle!) but after a while it started to do a number on my head! I was questioning my identity - was this sun-bleached-frayed-hem-sports-bra-Sallie the new me? While I certainly fit in with my lazy island surroundings, the thought depressed me. So I resolved to try to kick myself out of my rut in the only way I knew how: by making something so darn pretty I couldn't resist wearing it!

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

This dress came about sort of slowly. I bought 2 yards of this delicious Liberty of London silk-cotton voile using my Mood allowance a few months ago with no plan for it.  I had never touched Liberty of London fabrics before and I feel like it's the stuff of legends among the sewing community, so my interest was certainly piqued when Mood started carrying a selection.  This particular print really stood out to me.  It reminded me vaguely of a certain period of Disney animation - like the Sleeping Beauty era - where everything is highly stylized and you kind of suspect all the animators were experimenting with hallucinogens... I believe I described it in my Mood Sewing Network post as a "fantasy garden on acid" which I still feel is an apt description!

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Well my 2 yards sat while I pondered what to do with them - I thought maybe pajamas, but it's so pretty I wanted the world to see it.  Meanwhile I was trolling some of my less traveled haunts on the internet looking for a pattern or a look that would get me excited about sewing again and I came across this dress on Burdastyle.  I don't know why I always forget about Burdastyle - maybe it's because they release such a deluge of patterns, many of which are just variations of the same rectangle, that it's easy to forget that there are some honest to goodness gems in amongst that deluge! I consider this dress (07/2015 #110) to be among those gems. The only problem was this pattern called for 5 freaking yards of fabric!! So I waited until my next Mood allowance rolled around and picked up the remaining 3 yards.  I have to be honest, this is definitely a project that would not have happened if it wasn't for my partnership with the Mood Sewing Network! No way in hell could I have afforded 5 yards of Liberty on my own dollar! So thank you Mood!

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Working with the Liberty silk-cotton voile was at times both heavenly and oh-my-god-gouge-my-eyes-out-with-seam-rippers awful! If you've never crossed paths with these fabrics, let me try to describe it for you. In weight, this is somewhere between a cotton voile and the finest silk habotai. It is silky smooth and fairly sheer with a lovely drape that I would describe more as "floaty" than the fluidity of, say, a silk charmeuse. Basically it was the kind of fabric that if you bat your eyelashes at too hard it might flutter away! It does have the "stickiness" of cotton, so it didn't slip all over the place, but it could get kind of limp and wimpy when you wanted to get a crisp press.  I found that to get any kind of structure, like throughout the bodice, I had to utilize a liberal amount of interfacing, which I did. It also frayed pretty terribly with handling, so serging the raw edges was a necessity.

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

But oh my goodness if it doesn't make an exquisite finished garment! For eating up 5 yards of fabric this dress is remarkably light weight and easy to wear.  I self-lined the bodice for opacity and left the sleeves and skirt as a single layer.  This means that I have to wear a half-slip with the dress, but I'm okay with that.

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

There are so many details about this pattern that I absolutely adore: The slightly raised, cut-on collar, the deep, curved v-neck ending in the sweet button placket, the little fabric button loops, the yoked waist, the raglan sleeves, and oh my god that skirt! I had actually debated switching out the skirt for another pattern because I was worried it would be "too much" but I'm so glad I didn't! Yes it ate up yards of fabric with all that gathering, but the effect is a little bit Stevie Nicks, a little bit 70's folk singer, a little bit Little House on the Prairie, and a whole lotta stuff I love.  Let me put it to you this way, after finishing this dress I put it on to get the good ol' nod of approval from Nick and then proceeded to spend an inordinate amount of time swaying around the living room listening to Emmylou Harris sing "Pancho and Lefty".

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle DressMood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Working with the pattern was the usual head-scratcher that most Burda patterns are.  I've learned not to trust the Burda sizing, but since the patterns don't come with seam allowances it was very easy to measure the waist and bust (the only measurements I needed for this pattern) and I ended up cutting a size smaller than my measurements on the size chart.  The instructions were... an adventure... In retrospect, there wasn't anything in particular that tripped me up, but I'm grateful that I have a few years of sewing under my belt to help decipher the cryptic descriptions. Par for the course with Burdastyle, really.  But again - the result is utterly lovely so I'm willing to forgive any moments of confusion I might have had! In fact, this pattern is most definitely going into my "to make again" pile.  The pattern came with pieces for a long poet sleeve - you guys! Can't you just picture the ultimate fall boho dress?!? Perhaps not in Liberty... but in a more affordable fabric I might even be tempted to make it maxi length...

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

You guys. I love this dress. It was just what I needed to fall in love with my sewing room again. Give me a good romantic design and delicious fabric with a complex floral print and I'm happy as a pig in shit!! 

Now excuse me while I go sway around my kitchen barefoot...




Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

Whew! Where does the time go, amirite? This dress was finished back in May for my Mood Sewing Network make, but due to one thing or another it didn't get posted until June.  Then I went on vacation and shut myself off from all things internet-related, so now we're almost in mid-July and I'm just getting around to posting it here on my home turf! I suppose I could have just skipped it and moved on to the next project, but it's just too darn pretty of a dress not to get it's proper dues!

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

One great thing about waiting so long to post a make is that you can really give an honest opinion about it as part of your wardrobe.  So you can believe me when I say, with no reservations, that this dress has become one of my favorite warm weather outfits! I reach for it at least once a week - if not more - and it's taken me from a regular old day at work, to fancier gallery openings, to picnics. Really, I'm beginning to think that there is no occasion that this dress wouldn't work for!

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

This dress came about because I was looking to make some summer dresses that were both easy to wear, and easy to care for.  I'll always worship at the altar of All Things Silk, but there's something to be said for a dress that you can wash, throw in the dryer, shake out, and it's ready to walk out the door with you! I think my poor overloaded drying rack will agree...

So the first place I started to look for some easy, carefree fabrics was the cotton selection from Mood online.  I grabbed this Gray Multicolored Abstract Cotton Poplin Print (joy of joys! It appears to be back in stock!! If you're at all intrigued by this fabric I encourage you to grab some! You won't regret it!!) earlier this year with the intention of turning it into a summer dress.  I just can't resist a good abstract, painterly print! This cotton poplin has a smooth, soft hand, a nice soft cotton-y drape, and best of all, when I removed it from the dryer post pre-wash, no wrinkles!  Consider me sold! And you really can’t get a fabric more well-behaved than cotton.  It’s just so precise to cut, sew and press. A true joy to work with.

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

I always planned on turning this lovely cotton with it’s abstract, painterly print into a Grainline Alder. I bought this pattern last year and somehow never got around to making it up last summer.  I wasn’t about to make the same mistake this summer! I actually really surprised myself with this pattern by going for View B which features a gathered skirt inset across the back and sides.  I’ve always thought of myself as someone who, when given the option, usually gravitates to the more streamlined look – but maybe that’s changing! Good to know our personal styles aren’t set in stone.

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

I cut a straight size 4 based on my measurements, and I think the fit is pretty good right out of the envelope, however I did add 2″ to the length.  I’m getting a little bit of pulling across the chest, but not enough to make my buttons span.  And speaking of buttons, I used little black buttons in the hope that they would stand out from the print.  I also just love the petite little collar on this dress.  Styling wise, I surprised myself again by really liking the way this dress looks all buttoned up to the top.

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder DressMood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

It’s hard to see, but there is actually a cute little pocket on there.  The print is so busy it gets totally lost (especially in photographs) which is a shame, because it might be some of the prettiest edgestitching I’ve ever done! I also think this might be the nicest my gathers have ever looked.  I think the trick might be to put a line of basting below the stitching line that prevents the gathers from shifting during sewing.


I kept the insides simple. A lot of the raw edges got enclosed in the yoke, button band, collar or bias facing for the armholes, but for the side and waist seam I simply serged.  I didn’t even bother to match my thread!

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

Now that I'm getting all settled after my little summer travels I'm looking forward to getting back in the sewing room. I have so many things I want to make that I'm having a difficult time figuring out where to start! Time for me to take stock of my fabric and look through my patterns and see what calls to me first.  This is always the most overwhelming part of making something for me - just making the decisions you need to make to get started - but it's also the most creative. So many options!!

What are you guys sewing this summer? Any go-to summer looks you've been favoring??



sallie in sallie!

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

Ok, you guys had to know this was coming... Closet Case Patterns just released her newest pattern and it's named after meeeee!!!! SQUEEEE!!!! I'm a sewing pattern!!! And not just any pattern, but a JUMPSUIT!! Seriously friends, if I had to pick an article of clothing to personify me, I can think of no higher compliment than to say I'm a jumpsuit.  It's just... *tears*... it's just too much for words! When I think of all the high kicks and funny lunge-y walks and disco grooves that women around the world will be doing in their Sallie Jumpsuits, well let's just say I can die happy.  But the Sallie isn't just a jumpsuit, it's also a maxi dress, as you can see in this post. That means options you guys.  And as much as I love pants that are directly attached to tops in my sewing patterns, I think I love a pattern that gives you options even more.  But I'm getting ahead of myself here...

Deep breath.

Hey! How are you?  Summer going good? Or is it winter where you are? That's nice...

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

Alright, let's get back to Sallie!  When Heather told me she was going to be naming this pattern after me I was so excited (can ya tell?!?! Can ya tell I'm excited!!!!?!?) And then I saw the pattern and I Lost. It. Heather designed the Sallie Jumpsuit and Maxi Dress with the sexy disco vibes of 70's Studio 54 and glamour girls like Bianca Jagger in mind.  Basically everything I want to embody. And best of all, it's designed for knits, so not only do you get that 70's glamour girl look, but you get it while wearing something that essentially feels like pajamas! I mean... can you see why I am proud to have it be my namesake??

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry JerseyCloset Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

I of course jumped at the chance to test this pattern.  As excited as I am about the jumpsuit version of this pattern (and you better bet your britches I'm excited) I opted for the maxi dress for my test.  The reason for this being that it is approximately a-million-dee-ba-jillion-dee degrees outside these days and about the only clothing I can wrap my head around at the moment are dresses.  So the maxi dress won this round.  I also thought that this gorgeous raspberry rayon knit from Mood would look exceptional in a floor length dress.  

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

Construction-wise, this thing went together without a hitch.  I cut all the pieces one evening, and sewed it up in a few hours the next day.  I've loved every pattern I've made from Closet Case Files so far, but I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Heather's knit patterns.  Her instructions always teach me a little trick for working with knits I never knew before, or a better way to do simple things, like create an elastic casing, from how I had been doing them.  Admittedly, as much as I love them, working with knits has never really been my strong suit, so I appreciate the opportunity to learn.  This pattern can pretty much be sewn entirely on a conventional sewing machine.  The bodice is a double layer, so all seams are enclosed.  I sewed the long side seams of the skirt, and the waist on my serger, but a zig-zag stitch would have worked just as well, and maybe even better for the side seams because of the split sides.

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

In terms of fit, you really can't get any easier than a knit! The Sallie calls for a knit with a good amount of 4 way stretch, which makes it oh-so-comfy and oh-so-easy-to-fit! I made a size 6 based on my measurements, and then measured the elastic for the waist by pinning the elastic and wearing it around for a bit to make sure it was comfortable.  One of the things I love about the maxi dress is that it's actually pretty darn adjustable! You can adjust the waist elastic to what's comfortable for you, and you can adjust the shoulder ties for a comfortable fit.  Seriously, does it get any easier? In my drapey rayon knit, the single layer skirt is a bit clingy on the rear, which doesn't bother me, but could bother some.  A thicker or less drapey knit (or a slip if you don't live in the fiery furnace of hell and can stand an additional layer) would totally solve this.

I should also note that while I'm showing you the tester version of this pattern, Heather ended up not changing too much to the maxi dress after testing besides altering the hem curve slightly, so this version is pretty close to the finished pattern.

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry JerseyCloset Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

Well guys, thanks for letting me gush! I'm so excited to have such a fun pattern named after me (HAVE I MENTIONED I'M EXCITED?!?) And I wish I could convey the little giggle I get at the thought of a bunch of beautiful ladies "wearing their Sallie's" or "sewing up a Sallie"... Hmm... upon further reflection that kind of makes me think of people making freaky skin-suits of me... Scratch that!!! Let's just say I'm excited for people to get their jumpsuit on! And try the maxi dress version too!! Your sweaty legs won't regret it!!

Heather my love, THANK YOU. I know I had absolutely ZERO to do with all the hard work that went into making this lovely, but consider me a Proud Papa all the same.  

Now everyone, go forth and make some Sallie's!!!!



the simplest of swimsuits


Well friends, here we are, another summer of sewing and blogging and once again I can't believe that I'm actually posting photos of myself in a bikini on the internet.  *Sighs* oh well... (shoves her shame into the same box where she keeps her pride and stuffs it back under the bed) here we go! 

As most of you probably know, I love the beach. It's been well documented.  I believe there are scientific studies that show a shocking increase in 'good mood vibes' and 'general sense of well-being' as a result of spending a day on the beach.  Those studies were conducted by me. On myself. So... you know... cold hard fact, people.  But seriously, I can't think of another environment that makes me feel quite at home in my own skin. Plop me in the sand near a large body of water (preferably the salty variety) with a good book (preferably the mystery variety) and I'm one happy little mermaid.  In fact, these photos were taken after spending just such a day, which explains my rather salty appearance and my whole "oh hey camera, let's take some nearly-naked-photos" confidence.


A few weeks back I woke up one Sunday morning, saw the sun shining, and knew it was gonna be a perfect beach day.  I also decided right then and there, as I was laying in bed watching the sun stream through the curtains, that I needed a new swimsuit. Now.  So I popped out of bed and went straight to my sewing room and began making this little guy.  A few hours later my brand new swimsuit was on my body and I was on my way to the beach! Talk about a fast make!

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If you're looking to make your own bikini, there are options out there for patterns, but quite frankly, I just wanted something classic and simple.  Call me crazy, but I kind of think string bikinis are the perfect bikini. They're adjustable so they fit a wide variety of shapes without digging into your skin, they give good tan-lines, they're sporty and sexy at the same time, and (remember, I spend a lot of time on the beach and see a lot of bodies in swimsuits) they look good on everyone.  Sure, they're not the most supportive of swim tops - they're not going to hold you in, or push you up, or pad you out - and they certainly don't offer a lot of coverage or modesty, but that's kind of the point. They simply cover what needs to be covered and leave your body to do it's thing.  And bodies are beautiful. So there.


String bikinis are also one of the most simple, expedient swimwear designs ever created.  We're literally talking about two triangles attached to strings.  Simple enough that I didn't feel the need to go hunting for a suitable pattern.  Instead I traced a RTW string bikini top I already owned and started from there.  The cups are actually a sort of curved triangle, with more roundness at the center front than the sides. My RTW bikini is nice because all the seams are enclosed within the lining - I think it's technically reversible, although I've never worn it as such.  I really wanted to figure out how to do the same for my bikini top because it makes for a very comfortable design.  It was a bit like a puzzle figuring it out, but with my usual finagling and manhandling I was able to pull it off.  One thing I did was to cut the lining 1/8" smaller all around so that all the seams rolled to the underside.  And if/when I make one of these again I think I will add some swimwear elastic to the front and sides - not pulling it taught, but just to help prevent any gaping when wearing.


The suit bottoms are from Papercut Patterns Soma Swimsuit bikini.  I was pretty happy with the fit of these when I made that bikini last year, but I wanted to make a few tweaks to suit my personal tastes. I'm realizing that I'm just not a full coverage bottom kind of gal.  Not that I think I've got a great bottom, I just don't like the feeling of them when they get wet.  A lot of wet fabric hanging around my bum makes me feel like I'm wearing a diaper. There. I said it.  (The exception to this might be the Bombshell swimsuit, which, while a lot of fabric, I actually think is a very flattering cut, but for me that suit is more of a poolside suit than a beach suit).  So for these bottoms I shaved about a half inch off of the leg, tapering to nothing at the crotch.  This makes them a little more leg-lengthening, as well as pretty darn cheeky.  I'm really happy with these bottoms, but I'm wondering if I could go even narrower at the hip/side seam next time.


This fabric is some navy matte milliskin I bought when I made my Bombshell swimsuit.  It's been a while but I think it's from Spandex World...? It's pretty hefty for a swimwear fabric, and I probably could have skipped the lining altogether, but you never know with homemade swimsuits! I figure it's always better to air on the side of caution.  No one wants to come striding out of the waves, channeling her best Ursula Andress circa Dr. No, only to find that her bikini turned translucent on her when wet! Both the suit top and bottom are lined with a nude swim lining from Bramaker's supply, which is also where I got my rubber swim elastic.  All this stuff has been in my stash for a few years, so this was a virtually free make as well!

All in all, construction on this was pretty straightforward.  I switched between my serger and a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine for the bikini top, and my bottoms were done completely with a zig-zag stitch.  As I said, I threw this whole thing together in a morning and still had time to spend the afternoon at the beach. Since then it's been my go-to suit.  I have lots of extra bits of swimsuit fabric lying around from past makes, and since this uses such little fabric I think I'll make a bunch of these this summer to rotate out.

And now... time for some lady bodybuilder poses!!!



And no, this was not a deserted beach...