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.  




back to school


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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?



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!