Liebster Award!

Several weeks ago, the fantastic new blogger over at Nice Dress! Thanks, I Made It!! nominated me for a Liebster Award! I feel so honored, and part of the reason it’s taken me forever to blog about it is I wanted to make sure I did a good job. The basic gist of the award is that it is given to bloggers with fewer than 200 follower by bloggers who have already been nominated – so, essentially a blog chain letter. The goal is to promote smaller blogs. Each nominee must answer 11 questions asked by the blogger nominating them, and then must nominate 11 bloggers themselves.

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I’ll start with the Q&A:

1. What is your favourite snack?
Anything with chocolate, especially if it’s a scone.

2. What is your favourite movie?
Lord of the Rings. Always.

3. Do you have pets?
Not anymore, but I used to have an extremely manipulative and slightly demonic tuxedo cat. She’s one of the reasons I didn’t knit as much when I lived in Princeton…

4. How long have you been blogging?
Technically I started this blog in April of 2012, but back then it was a fashion blog and didn’t really take off. I started sewing again in September of 2013, and that’s when I finally started blogging regularly.

5. What is your favourite project that you are most proud of?
My Pavot Coat. It’s certainly not perfect, but I learned a ton and am still impressed with myself for drafting a lining (someday I’ll post that tutorial! Agh!)

6. What is your least favourite project and why?
Blargh. There are several. If I have to pick one, I’d say a Lady Skater I made with a spongy sweater knit…the fabric wash cheap, I sewed some of the serger seams twice (NEVER DO THAT), and it was just a bad fabric/pattern combo. Hence I never blogged it. Blech.

7. Do you have any formal training in your craft?
I took several classes in my youth, and my mom taught me a ton about sewing and knitting. So, semi-formal training? 😛

8. Do you have your own craft room?
HA I wish!! We have a tiny apartment that is pretty much constantly overflowing with my sewing stuff at this point. I took over the dining room table and am slowly conquering the bookshelves…

9. How do you get your ideas?
I love to “idea shop” at retail stores, and reading blogs also is a big inspiration. I feel a little guilty about this, but I get a lot of motivation from competitions and sew-alongs – for some reason a time limit really amps up my sewing mojo.

10. Does your partner support you in your ideas?
Yes! Especially since he now gets pants and underwear from it…

11. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Oof. At that point, I’m hoping to have designed a few patterns, had a few kids, and sung a few opera roles. And someday write a book, but I’m giving myself a lifetime for that one.

Ok, now my turn! Apparently the original Liebster award involved nominating 5 bloggers instead of 11 (at least, according to Sophie at Two Random Words), so that’s what I’m going to do, mostly because I just don’t read enough blogs to come up with 11 😛 (to my shame – there are a lot of great bloggers out there!!). Please note – I’m going by WordPress numbers in terms of followers, so if you have a buzillion followers on Bloglovin or something like that, my bad!

My nominees are:
1. Infectious Stitches. She had some fab tutorials and makes fantastic stuff. She’s getting close to 200 followers – how about you give her the “big push”!

2. Gray All Day. A seriously gorgeous gal who makes some seriously gorgeous clothing. Check her out!

3. Stacey Stitch. I love her sassy vintage style – she really rocks the Mad Men look!

4. What Miss Amy did next. She’s been making some lovely dresses and skirts lately – go take a look!

5. A Handmade Wardrobe. She’s even made shoes, y’all. SHOES

And your questions are:

1. When did you start sewing?

2. What is your favorite pattern?

3. Do you have your own sewing space?

4. Do you do other types of crafting (knitting, crocheting, card making, etc)?

5. How do you balance sewing with work and family?

6. What are some of your sewing strengths?

7. What are some of your sewing goals – new skills, different patterns, etc?

8. Do you tend to sew with a plan, or do you wait until inspiration hits you and run with it?

9. How often do you sew, and for how long?

10. What project are you the most proud of?

11. What project are you least happy with?

Ok, I think that’s it for today! Whew! Thank you to all of you out there who read this blog – you keep my inspired and encouraged!

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Double Trouble – Matching Undies!

Ok, so I’m pretty much the worst blogger ever. I have a backlog of projects to write about and I was nominated for a Liebster Award almost two weeks ago by the lovely seamstress over at Nice Dress! Thanks, I Made It!!, and still haven’t written about that yet either…oy. But I’m postponing that post another day or so, because I want to make sure this current project gets blogged before time runs out!

Hopefully that last sentence piqued your interest. “What project has a time limit?,” you might be saying (or you might not. Just trying to keep it interesting) – why, my entry for the Comox Trunks Sewalong Giveaway, of course! Seriously, though, if there is a man in your life and you haven’t made a pair of these, you need to get on that! This sexy little number was quick and fun, yet just intricate enough to keep it interesting. I’m coming to expect that sort of pattern from Thread Theory, the new indie pattern company devoted entirely to men’s clothing patterns – their Jedediah Pants were also a joy to sew! And there are great sewalongs for both patterns on the blog. Voilà!

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I love the great details in the pattern – definitely a winner! The hubby says they’re pretty comfy, which is good, cuz he’s gonna get a bunch! I used a super-soft bamboo/Lycra blend and knit elastic – since this is worn so close to the skin, you don’t want to scrimp on materials here.

…and since I’m a nerd, I decided I had to make myself a matching pair :P.

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I used the free pattern from So, Zo, What Do You Know, which I blogged about here, in case you’re curious. Super quick, super satisfying!

So there you have it. His and hers undies. Yeah, I know, I’m weird…

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Easter Princess Flora and my Fabric Fast

Happy Easter Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a lovely holiday yesterday – for once, the weather actually cooperated and it was a truly lovely day in New England :). I have sooo much blogging to catch up on, but for today I’m just going to talk about my latest make and my experience fasting from fabric purchases during Lent.

So, first, the fun part – my Easter dress! I knew as soon as I saw the By Hand London Flora Dress that we would be great friends. I love wrap tops and circle skirts, so this gal was win-win! I was following along with the sewalong, but after I got the fit right, I got impatient and just had to finish ASAP! I’ll be making a second following the sewalong, though – I have a feeling there will be many Floras in my future!

So, speaking of fit, I found that to be by far the hardest part of the dress. Which is not to say that it was too mind-bendingly difficult, but it was definitely a challenge for my relatively new set of fitting skills. I knew I would have to adjust the dart positioning, so I started off by doing a quick tissue fit to identify where the bust point should be. And sure enough, I needed to lower that bust dart by a good inch or so, which also meant fiddling with the position of the waist dart. I made a muslin of the bodice after that, and OH MAMA was that thing big! The gals at BHL say this dress is drafted for a B cup (I.e. a 2″ difference between your high bust and full bust measurement), but my Bs definitely did not fill out this roomy top, and I have a 2.5″ difference between high bust and full bust. Just FYI. So I did a SBA, which did the trick, and I’m happy to say I’m super pleased with the fit now!

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Isn’t she just a peach?? I love how I love this dress so much I refer to it as “she” :P. Anyhow, I’m super proud of the fit. I also made a few back adjustments – took in a teensy bit at the top to get rid of gaping, and did a sway back alteration about an inch from the bottom, taking out about a half inch. (I’m still working out that particular adjustment – I was in denial of the whole sway back thing for a while, hoping that if I corrected my posture it’d go away…I’m still hoping for that, but in the meantime, I’m working out how much to take out at the bottom)

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One little construction note…in the sewalong, the BHL ladies suggest using twill tape to stabilize the bias edge of the wrap neck, which is a fabulous idea, and they also suggest cutting the tape 1/4″ shorter than the pattern piece – also a great idea. But I got it in my head that “if 1/4″ is good, than 3/4″ must be even better” – ha! NOPE. Cutting my stay tape that short resulted in the wrap pulling up at the waist seam where it attaches to the skirt, which was a major headache to try to fix. It’s still not perfect, but it’s good enough and I learned my lesson for next time. Oy.

Now a quick word about the fabric! This is actually a piece from my mom’s stash – she took pity on me during my Lenten fast and asked if I wanted some of her old stash remnants that she knew she wouldn’t use. Um, yes please!! This lovely pink brocade (not sure of the fiber content – I’m guessing cotton/poly, but I really have no clue) was actually used for a costume for a Shakespeare play I did back in middle school. I didn’t get to wear that particular costume, but I’ve loved this fabric ever since, and am so happy that I got to turn it into such a dreamy dress!

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Ok, now for a few words about my Lenten fabric fast. It was definitely a challenge – sooo many wonderful patterns came out during Lent, not to mention the Sew Dolly Clackett challenge that I knew I wanted to take part in (I’m also submitting this dress, btw). But I stuck to my fast and did not purchase any fashion fabric for 40 days (I got some lining fabric, but it’s white, so I wasn’t tempted to make a garment out of it).

I learned many things during my fast – what my fabric spending habits are like, what my wardrobe needs actually are, and how to be creative and improvise with what I have. For example, the fabric I used for my Dolly Clackett dress was fabric I initially got for muslining because I didn’t like the color – but it turned into a dress that I love. And I didn’t get to go hog wild over all the new patterns that came out – instead I had to really think “do I actually need another sun dress pattern?”, “will this fit in my wardrobe?”, etc. It taught me to be more intentional about the things I make and wear. And lastly, I got a better sense of my own style and what garments I need in the future. In fact, I was so inspired by my new sense of style that I finally went through my closet and got rid of some old wardrobe pieces I haven’t worn for ages, and identified other pieces that I like and want to wear more. So, all in all, it was a very helpful experience that taught me a lot.

…so today, I’m on the bus to NYC to visit Mood Fabrics and finally buy fabric! What better way to end a fast than with a feast, amirite???

Happy Easter, y’all 🙂

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An Easter Egg for Dolly Clackett

I’m pretty sure that by now the entire sewing blogosphere is aware of the fantastic Sew Dolly Clackett challenge, a clever and thoughtful wedding present from Sarah Gilbert of Rhinestones and Telephones to the ever-fabulous Roisin of Dolly Clackett fame. And if you didn’t know, now you do!

When I found out about this competition, I had already entered my Lenten fabric fast, so I was a bit stumped on how I would manage to create an entry. After all, Roisin’s style is quite distinct – adorable sun dresses made of quirky, tastefully loud cotton prints – which doesn’t exactly match my typical fabric-buying habits! So I had to get creative. I eventually decided on a quilting cotton I had originally purchased on sale at Grey’s, thinking I would use it as muslin fabric since it was too loud for my taste – good thing I hadn’t started muslining yet!

When it came to picking a pattern, I wanted to recreate something based on one of Roisin’s favorites. She has a penchant for the By Hand London dresses as well as the Christina Haynes Emery Dress, among others. I’ve made plenty of Anna’s, so I wanted to try something new, but didn’t happen to own a copy of any of her other favorites. So, I decided to improvise, and used the Colette Truffle pattern from the Colette Handbook as a base.

One thing I really love about Roisin’s sewing is that she is fearless about mixing and matching pattern pieces from different dresses. For example, she’ll add a circle skirt to an Anna dress or a gathered skirt to an Elisalex. You name it, she’s probably tried it. So I wanted to try, too! One of the skirts I particularly liked was the one from New Look 6824 that keeps popping up in her wardrobe. Again, I don’t own that pattern, so I did my best to figure out a pattern from the pictures on her blog.

So, without further ado…here is my entry!

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I’ll be honest – I’m super proud of this dress! I had to alter the crap out of that bodice – it’s drafted for a c cup and I’m a b, the bust dart was too high, etc. But I did it, and it fits! And I actually love the fabric, which is ironic, because when I bought it, I thought “oh, this is ugly enough that I won’t mind using it for muslins.” HA.

The dress also has a few hidden fun bits – for starters, it’s lined with PINK batiste:

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Whoa, mama! Also, I decided to change the back neckline. When I saw the Betty Dress from Sew Over It that came out a few days ago, I knew Roisin would be all over that, so I turned the back neckline into a V to match that pattern ( turns out the Betty is a scoop, not a v, but whatevs, I like mine). Voilà!

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So, there you have it, folks! And it’s just in time to wear to church for Easter – doesn’t it kind of remind you of an Easter egg? I can already tell this will be a favorite dress this spring/summer.

Oh, one more fun little secret. The shoes I’m wearing in those photos are my wedding shoes* :). Since this is for a wedding and all…

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Congratulations, Roisin! May your wedding be magical and your marriage filled with many years of joy!

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*ok, so this is totally weird, but I actually had a dream about a week or so ago about going shoe shopping with Roisin for her wedding. She managed to find lavender Liberty-print heeled ankle boots. Only in a dream!!

Three Cheers for Drafting!

This weekend was closing weekend for the opera I was singing – whew! It was a truly wonderful experience; I has such a great time working with so many wonderful singers. I’ve never done so many performances of a single show – we did 6 shows total – so I got to explore the world of this opera more than usual. All in all, I had a blast!

So, what’s the best way to combat post-show depression? Sewing, duh! One thing I’ve really been wanting to explore is pattern drafting, so when Simple Simon and Co. announced their Pencil Skirt Drafting Sewalong, I got super excited!

In the sewalong, Elizabeth taught us in detail how to draft a simple skirt sloper and then sew it up into a cute little pencil skirt. However, I don’t really like to wear pencil skirts – they’re a bit impractical for piano playing, and I don’t really like the silhouette it creates on my body. So I decided to spice it up a little and add some box pleats…with a little surprise:

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Contrasting panel insets! Woot! I have to say, I’m super proud of myself for figuring out the math and actually creating a cute garment. It’s one thing to create a successful garment from a commercial pattern, but quite another to design the pattern yourself! I’ve had the idea for this skirt floating around in my head for quite some time, and it was super exciting to see my vision become a reality.

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I’m also quite happy with the fit. It took a few tries – I didn’t add enough ease to my initial pattern at the waist, so I had to use smaller seam allowances, but it all worked out in the end. I also made the waist higher than a “normal” pencil skirt, because that’s how I prefer skirts to fit me. I find that disguises my tummy a little better, as it highlights the narrowest part of my torso. I decided to put the pleats right at the fullest part of my hips to continue the A-line flair that starts at the high waist. This also (hopefully) masks fullness in the hips by leading the eye up or down that line. What do you think? Were my design intentions successful?

I also decided to do a side zip instead of a back zip so that I wouldn’t have to figure out how to fiddle with the pleats to insert a zipper back there. It also makes for a nice, smooth back – that fits!!

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Oh, and I thought it kind of looked like a cheerleading skirt, hence the blog post title :P.

Ok, now to let you all in on a little secret: it’s always been one of my dreams to be a fashion designer. In fact, I almost studied textiles in college, but when I started taking voice lessons mid-way through high school, I realized I wanted to follow that dream instead. I’m still happy I made that decision, but now that I’ve started sewing again, my designer dreams have started to resurface. And seeing so many successful indie pattern designers has really inspired me – maybe my dream can still become a reality after all!

So, in all honesty, what do y’all think of this design? Is this something you would like to see as a pattern? Maybe with a few different design options – gathers as well as pleats, or something like that? Of course I still have a TON to learn about pattern design, but I’m really curious to know what you think! THANKS!

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P.S. Sorry about the posting mix-up with The Monthly Stitch!! Clearly I’m not very internet-savvy…oy

Gabriola Take Two

What’s better than one Gabriola skirt? Two Gabriola skirts, of course!! When the pattern arrived in the mail, I realized that this might be the perfect opportunity to use a somewhat problematic piece of fabric that I had purchased back in the fall.

See, the tricky thing about ordering fabric online is that you can never be quite sure exactly what it’ll look like until it arrives on your doorstep. So back in October I wanted a fun knit print to use for tops or dresses, so I got what I thought was a subtle geometric floral print from fabric.com. I guess I must’ve read the ruler in the website picture wrong, because when this fabric arrived, the print was a good 3-4″ bigger than I thought it would be. So, not subtle at all. Oops…

The Gabriola skirt, however, it the perfect place to use large prints! It has enough pieces to break up the texture while still leaving the printed pattern intact. Of course, since this fabric was a knit, I had to make some adjustments to the pattern. I placed the back piece on the fold, omitting the seam allowance, and used an elastic waistband instead of a zipper.

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I discovered a fun little secret while sewing up this version – it’s WAY easier to sew in a knit! Whereas the first skirt took me almost two weeks, this one took one afternoon! Also, the bias edges that gave me trouble the first time around behaved quite nicely with the knit. Since the fabric is more elastic in general, the bias edges don’t stretch out as much, making them much easier to work with. I should also note that this isn’t a super slinky knit – it’s a cotton/poly jersey with not Lycra, so it has a nice drape but not toooo much stretch.

I used my sewing machine set to a narrow zigzag for the yoke pieces – I didn’t want to risk the seams not matching, and was afraid the serger would be too difficult for that. The large skirt pieces were sewn with the serger, however. For the waistband, I just cut a long strip of fabric twice the width of my elastic plus seam allowances, and then attached it to the skirt by stretching it slightly. I didn’t want the elastic to create gathers, so I wanted to use as little fabric as possible in the waistband. I then used this great tutorial by Melissa over at Fehr Trade to finish the waistband. Easy peasy!

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The hardest part of the whole process was actually figuring out the pattern placement. The first time I cut out the yokes, I had a different placement, thinking it would be cute to put the flowers in the center of the yoke. But when I sewed the pieces together I discovered that this wasn’t the best plan…

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I had inadvertently put a bullseye on my tummy – ouch!! To say I was upset is a major understatement. After a brief period of swearing and throwing things (just fabric and pattern pieces…it was pretty anticlimactic), I managed to cut new yoke pieces out of the few fabric scraps I had left, and the rest was a breeze. WHEW. All in all, I’m very pleased with the pattern placement – the flowers in the yoke now make a nice little triangle pointing away from the hips instead of highlighting them.

So, to conclude, I highly recommend making this pattern in a knit!! I know I will again. Have you ever tried converting a non-knit pattern into a knit garment? How did that go?

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(Not sure what’s up with the weird hand wavey thing)

One last comment – I entered the first Gabriola skirt in the Sew Dramatic, Sew Gabriola competition over at Stitch 56, and the voting polls are now open! Woot!