candy striper


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...


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! 


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!


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!)


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!

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.


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!


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!


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?



nick's jeans

This is Nick doing his best Bruce Springsteen impression... *swoon*
Alternate post title: How To Objectify Your Man.

Hi there! I hope you guys aren't sick of looking at jeans yet, because (un)fortunately for you, I'm not sick of making them! I figured since I  got some good jeans-sewing-momentum going with my last pair, I might as well take advantage of it and make good on a promise to Nick to sew him a pair, too.

Now, I don't need to explain my selfish-seamstress ways to ya'll - I know I'm in good company here! But, this past Christmas I bought Nick all the goods - denim, thread, buttons, rivets - for me to make him his very own pair of jeans. And then proceeded to not make him jeans for the next six months! Seriously, I am the worst gift-giver in the history of ever. The fact that I made myself a pair of jeans before his... well... I was starting to feel like if I didn't get on it soon it would just end up being one of those things that gets brought up 20 years from now in an argument ("yeah, like that time you said you were going to make me jeans...") And really, it's not completely unselfish sewing - brownie points with your husband never hurt anything!


But the jeans! The jeaannnnssss!!! I made Nick a pair of pants back in November using the Jedediah pants pattern from Thread Theory with the intention of using them as a wearable muslin for a jeans pattern. We discussed a few changes he wanted - like a smaller back yoke and higher back pockets, and I felt confident that I could adjust the pattern to make it more of a jeans style, which mainly meant changing the shape of the front pockets. However when I went hunting for denim, I really decided that only selvedge denim would do for my guy.  I bought the 13.5 oz Cone Mills Selvedge Denim from Taylor Tailor's Supply shop (love that guy!) I love the look of a classic, no-nonsense jean on a man - and it's really Nick's style, too (go figure). I felt like selvedge denim would make a great classic looking jean, but still give that extra special little 'something'.


However, that presented a bit of a problem.  If you're unfamiliar with selvedge denim jeans, typically the selvedge - which usually has a contrasting color (this denim has a white and red line) - is used for the out-seam of the leg, which means that the pattern must be completely straight along the out-seam. This meant that I was going to have to make some much larger alterations to the Jedediah pattern, and, truth be told, was one of the main reasons I procrastinated on this for so long. I was really worried that shifting the pattern that much would cause the pants to fall weird. However, I bit the bullet and just decided what the hell, and gave it a go! And it worked out, so phew!


(Apologies for the nasty carpet in my sewing room... I swear it's clean, just old) Hopefully you can see in these photos the difference between the original Jedediah pants pattern on the left, and the altered "Jedediah Selvedge Jeans" pattern on the right. Basically, I measured the distance between the new, straight, out-seam and the original, curved, out-seam at different key points along the length of the leg (high hip, low hip, crotch, thigh, knee, etc.) and shifted the inseam over the corresponding amount.  You can also see how much I changed the yoke piece, too. I measured an old pair of Nick's jeans to get this shape, then transferred the amount I cut off of the yoke to the top of the pants backs.


I may have taken a smidgen of width out of the hip/butt area while making all these adjustments, but I swear it was for a good reason! I felt like after wearing, Nick's Jedediah khaki's tend to get a very saggy seat and I thought that might help solve the problem. But I think instead it just made the jeans tight in allll the right places!! Bwahahahaha! Accidental WIN for this lucky lady!

While I don't know that this iteration is Nick's 'perfect jeans pattern', I actually really love the way they turned out. Next time (ha!) I would like to take a bit of width out of the waist in the back because I think that might actually be the cause of the saggy seat. And I might consider taking a tiny bit of width out of the legs, although Nick is pretty happy with the way the legs fit as is.

But let's take a look at some of the details, because with jeans, it's alllll about the details!


I stole a lof of ideas for these from Taylor Tailor's totally drool-worthy jeans. Here you can see the coin pocket which uses the selvedge edge as a nice design feature. Also prominent in this photo is some of my less-than-perfect topstitching! I was really worried about sewing such thick denim on my conventional sewing machine (an older model Singer HD) but it actually handled it like a champ through most of the process - until I got to the belt loops... oy vey. My machine doesn't love belt loops on a good day, but it was just not. happening. with these! I ended up forgoing my usual bartack method for the belt loops and instead just did a few rows of straight stitching. We'll see how well they hold up.


For the back pockets I copied an old pair of Nick's jeans. Everything that could be sewn with a flat-felled seam was sewn with a flat-felled seam. Including the back rise and yokes, which results in a charmingly, slightly off 'v' where the two yokes meet.


If love were a seam, it would be 72 inches of painstakingly, hand rolled, flat-felled inseam!


And, oddly enough, one of my favorite details is this little cobalt blue buttonhole!


I gave Nick strict instructions to limit the amount of washing he gives these jeans. Indigo dyed, 100% cotton denim like this is known for it's ability to break in and 'mold' to the wearer, creating beautiful fades with time. I'm actually quite smitten with these jeans, to be honest! So smitten that I'm itching to make myself a pair, too! But don't worry, I'll take a jeans-sewing break for now and make something else for a bit to end the denim monotony that's been going on around these parts!

And now, because it's my blog and I say so...


Let's take one last look at that tush!!

Seriously... dude butts do not get enough screen time on this blog!