Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Me-made May, Week 4

We're nearing the end, guys! As much as I've enjoyed this month, I'm also getting a LITTLE tired of my me-mades and am ready to break out some other wardrobe favorites for June. We'll see what happens this week/weekend, but I just might have one or two more me-mades to add to the rotation for the final week (if I can figure out that silly Cynthia Rowley 2250)!

Day 19: My New Summer Dress
Day 20: Tania culottes part 2, altered RTW shirt, RTW denim jacket
Day 21: More denim jacket love, self-drafted maxi (I cannot get enough of this dress, despite a couple of issues I've realized that I need to fix after so many wears)

Day 22: Tania culottes part 1, RTW jacket and cardigan
Day 23: Self-drafted dress (which I'm still wearing despite the issues because I LOVE it with that mint cardigan). Switched up the belt for a better look, I think.

Day 24: Repeat of day 21, but I forgot to take pictures because I was visiting friends out of town. :)

Day 25: Tania culottes part 2, but shortened! After seeing the pictures from Monday, and realizing that the back wasn't even at all, I decided to chop off quite a bit of this skirt. I just felt that it was looking far too dowdy, and who wants that? Had a moment of panic that I'd cut it too short in some places, but I think I finally got it right, and I like it a lot more now!

Day 26: Did not leave the house nor bother to get dressed, oops. Still way ahead of my 5 days out of 7, though!

What about you guys - if you've been participating this month, are you ready for it to be over?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Summer Dress

I did it - I made one of the dresses I talked about in my last post!

In that post, I said that I was DYING over this outfit and wanted to try to knock it off: 

Well, my look obviously looks NOTHING like this, but I still love it! (That being said, if I find some blue floral fabric like that, I am snapping it up RIGHT away to make another one of these.) Part of my love for this dress is due to the fact that this is my first completed make from a commercial (big 4) pattern! I did try it on with my jean jacket, but it didn't really work, so I switched it up with this new ivory cardigan instead.

[I swear I'm not pissed in these photos. I still haven't perfected posing and smiling for these photo shoots. But isn't the mural awesome?!]

I used Simplicity 4070, view A for the bodice, along with some small-print floral quilting cotton. The skirt is self-drafted with soft box pleats some heavy knit fabric from my stash  (with probably enough left over for a skirt on another dress!). 

I obviously added some straps, which are still a bit too long, and used some heavy cotton lining I recently bought. Despite the heavy knit skirt and lining, I think this will be a very light, wearable dress for summer. 

I used a double needle for the hem, but didn't get it quite right since I couldn't figure out how to keep the threads from twisting. I do think it makes for an interesting detail, though. I used white thread because I didn't have a blue that matched closely enough - I thought complete contrast was better than not-quite-matching, though I might go back and redo that at some point.

I don't have a good close-up of the detailing, but I am SUPER proud of the topstitching on this make. (And though they look like polka dots in this picture, they're actually little flowers.)

Other than that, I cut a straight size 18, and it fit pretty well right from the pattern. The only issue I had was with some underarm gaping, which I think you can tell from these pictures that I fixed pretty well. :) This happens to me with a LOT of store-bought tops I buy, and it bugs the heck out of me. Luckily, I can fix it pretty well myself these days. For this dress, rather than ripping the whole thing apart, I just added some underarm dart-type things, which smoothed out very nicely. 

I definitely think this will be a go-to pattern in the future, especially once I modify the pattern pieces a little to match where I took this dress in.

(There are no pretty pictures of the inside, because it's really not all that pretty. The one picture I had of the back was also really blurry. I think my zip insertion is still a bit wonky, but the friend who took these pictures assured me that it looks fine, so yay for that!)

I know a lot of people have some very strong opinions on using quilting cotton for garments, but I figure it's good for me to get some practice with whatever's lying around. Once I make my way through my stash and allow myself to really start buying again, maybe I'll sing a different tune. What are your thoughts on the debate?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Me-made May, Week 3

This week was a bit hit-or-miss, honestly, mostly due to the CRAZY weather:

Day 12: Floral Tania culottes

I tried to mix up the styling with these so I wouldn't look like I was wearing the same outfit every week (mayyybe twice/week) - I thought the green tee might give it a more casual vibe, but looking back on this, I definitely can't say I love the outfit. I might just have to stick with my original styling.

Day 13: Self-drafted dress

Wayyyy back in the day when I posted about my maxi skirt refashion, I said that I'd done something else with the top of that dress and that I'd post about it "soon" Well, consider 2 years later "soon" for the purposes of this post, okay? The top is what was left over from the original racerback dress, and the bottom is a 25 cent Goodwill skirt that I took the zipper out of and stitched to the top. I wore this dress a handful of times right after I made it, but for some reason it fell out of rotation. I think I felt that there were some fit issues around the butt, but I didn't notice them this time. This is definitely not the best-made dress in the world, and can certainly not be worn without a cardigan and a belt, but I have to say that I really loved this styling. I felt chic and comfortable all day long (and the girls looked great, which was an instant ego boost!). I think the mint cardigan really helps make this fresher and more spring-appropriate.

Day 14: Refashioned dress from a maxi skirt

After ages of purgatory in my "refashion" pile, this dress finally makes it back into the rotation. When I first refashioned it from a maxi dress a couple summers ago, I liked it and wore it pretty often....and then I lost 20 pounds and it kept falling off of me. I FINALLY got around to taking out some of the extra width the other day, so was happy to put this on. Again, this is not the best-made garment in the world - there's a lot of extra poofiness in the back, and it still falls down a little. Thankfully, one of the many wonderful qualities of jean jackets is that they can be thrown on over almost anything and cover up quite a variety of sins. I love the floatiness and the subtle mullet hem on this (I really never thought those last few words would escape my mouth (or fingers, as the case may be)). I think I'll definitely be wearing this a lot before the weather gets too hot for jean jackets.

Day 15: The weather was cruelly cold, and I had an event to go to in the evening for which none of my me-mades would have been appropriate. I hate to admit that I didn't even bother to wear handmade jewelry that day, but I did only pledge to do 5 days/week, right?

Day 16: Self-drafted striped tank

Another cold, rainy day, so this was the most I could be bothered with, both outfit-wise and picture-taking wise (it's REALLY a horrible picture, sorry about that).

Day 17: Self-drafted maxi

It was my friend's graduation (congrats, Alisha!), so I needed something a bit more formal, but still comfy and warm. I love that I have a million purple things that go with this - I decided to switch up the cardigan a bit, and also wore a darker purple scarf with it while we were outside. Also, I feel like this is the 14th time I've worn this dress since I made it - maxis for the win!

Day 18: I did not get dressed and therefore have nothing to show, but I DID spend the day in my PJs making the dress I'm wearing today (and one of the things I mentioned in my last post was on my to-do list), so...kudos to me? 

We're now more than halfway done with Me-Made May! How are you doing with your pledges?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sewing plans

As always, my eyes are bigger than my stomach (or in this case, my plans are more ambitious than the time I have to finish them), but I have been seriously lusting over some outfits lately. The first two are indie patterns - the By Hand London Anna dress, and Megan Nielsen's Cascade skirt. However, since I'm on my self-imposed stash busting diet, I kind of feel guilty shelling out the cash (and adding to my stash) for these two patterns. I thought maybe I could recreate some similar looks for this summer, and once my cash flow is a little better, support both of these indie designers with some other pattern purchases. 

For the Anna dress, I'm thinking some good substitutes for the bodice might be: 

New Look 6156 (View A)

Pros: Similar shape, boat neck, solid back
Cons: No sleeves (but shouldn't be too hard to extend them, right?)

Butterick 5880

You can't really tell on this line drawing, but when it's sewn, the bodice actually looks really similar to the Anna bodice. 

Pros: Sleeves, boat neck (minus those little cutouts), similar overall shape, solid back
Cons: Different bust darts

Butterick 5605 (View C)

Pros: Sleeves, somewhat similar bodice/bust shaping (in the pictures of the made garments)
Cons: Now that I look at the line drawings, the bust shaping isn't all the similar, and it doesn't have quite the boat neck that the Anna does. The cutout back and the sleeves would also have to be redrafted a bit.

Now that I look at this one a bit more...what was I thinking? It's definitely not a contender.

I think I'll try #2 for this one and see how it goes. If it sucks, well, lesson learned, right?

I'm thinking (crazily) of trying to self-draft the Cascade skirt...or, you know, just shell out the $12, I haven't really decided yet. (That being said, I DID just get an offer accepted on a house, so every cent counts!)

(This has been a little rambly, sorry about that!) The last look I've been lusting over is one I saw on Pinterest a while back: 

As with everyone else in the northern hemisphere right now, I'm totally in love with florals. While I would love to find that exact same print, I should probably make more of an effort to keep to my resolutions. I found some navy quilting cotton with a (small) floral print in my mom's stash, so I think I'm going to attempt to make the bodice out of one of those two, using Simplicity 4070:

Maybe view E with some straps? (I thought I had a million patterns with a sweetheart neckline, but apparently that is not the case. This is really my only stash pattern that comes close.)

I know I don't have enough of that quilting cotton for a whole dress in this fabric, so I was thinking of doing the bodice in that and the skirt in a solid navy I have in my stash - I think it's a heavier knit, so a waist stay would probably come in handy here. What do you think, is this a good match?

What're your upcoming sewing plans?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stripey Tank

You may have noticed my reference to (and picture of) an unblogged self-drafted tank top in last week's Me-Made May roundup. Well, I'm here to show it off some more, and document some firsts for me!

First and most importantly, this top was made entirely from stash fabrics. I know that's the whole point of this blog, and the point of the Stash Diet challenge, but I've been a bit less-than-dedicated to that goal lately.

The red and white stripes were a remnant bought a couple of summers ago, with who-knows-what in mind. It was pretty see-through, so I added another stashed remnant underneath.

There was only about 1/2 yard of this fabric, and it wasn't very wide (I didn't measure, but I'd have a hard time believing it was even 45" wide). I decided I wanted to make a racerback tank, and rather than buy a new pattern, I thought I'd try my hand at:

First #1: Self-drafting!

I used an existing racerback tank that was a bit flowy, but whose fit I liked (aside from the low armscyes that always exposed my bra). I upped the armscyes a bit but kept everything else the same, including the curved front hem and the straight back hem.

However, the fabric wasn't wide enough to get my whole block onto it and keep the horizontal stripes (I thought that vertical stripes on this would look terrible), so I squeezed out the straps (front and racerback) from the remnants. For a bit of visual interest, I decided to make these horizontal, and not underline them like the rest of the tank.

[Wow, my mom was right, the stripes DO make my butt look big!]

First #2: Binding! 

I bound the neckline with help from Sleek Silhouette's easy tutorial, but there wasn't enough striped fabric left to bind the armholes, too, so I used ANOTHER remnant from the stash. 

Honestly, I'm not in love with any of these bindings for a lot of reasons, but for a first try, they're passable. I might try to go back and fix a few things at some point, but I think it's pretty wearable in the meantime.

First #3: French seams!

Still not quite convinced I did these right, so I won't show you any pictures, but it was an interesting technique to try. All of this seaming did mean that the shirt fits a bit tighter than originally intended, but I think it works - a super baggy knit top probably wouldn't have been a good look for me.

First #4: Stripe matching!

Look at that perfection! Seriously, so proud of myself on this one. 

All in all, this is a pretty wearable top, and I know that my pattern will have a good fit as-is - I definitely foresee more of these in my future, especially once I work out a few of the finishing touches.

In the meantime, do you have any binding tips to share?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Me-made May, week 2 (late!)

Wow, week 2 has already come and gone, and I was much more successful than anticipated!

Day 5:

Bottom: Tania culottes, part 2
Top and sweater: RTW

Monday was a lot colder than it should have been, but since I'd JUST finished up my second pair of Tanias, I was dying to wear them. I was definitely a bit chilly, but it was worth it. :) I made this pair quite a bit longer, as I feel almost indecent in my first pair, but ended up making them TOO long. I chopped a bit off the hem and then sewed up with a generous hem allowance. I still think they're a bit too long, especially in the front - I might need to work on that.

Day 6:
Skirt: Refashioned maxi
Top and sweater: RTW

This simple skirt sure has a saga behind it. I wore it quite a bit during the fall right after I made it (2 years ago), but by the next summer, I'd lost some weight and it kept falling down. I wore it a couple of times but it was driving me nuts. I finally sat down a few months ago to take in the side seams using my serger, but without a proper walking foot, the seams were incredibly wonky. I threw it into a corner and FINALLY picked it back up again after I got my walking foot. Miracle of miracles, it now fits wonderfully! This thing is SO comfortable, and the knit is SO soft, that I never want to take it off.

Day 7: 

Skirt: Tania culottes, part 1
Shirt: altered to fit
Sweater: RTW

Silly me, I only took one picture on Wednesday, and it was blurry, so you get this re-used one. :) It was the exact same outfit, though, minus the shoes, and I love it just as much as ever.

Day 8: 
Maxi: Self-drafted from a remnant

I maybe should have planned my outfits a bit better. Monday-Wednesday were pretty chilly, but I wore bare-legged outfits, and Thursday was HOT (Wednesday: 50 degrees. Thursday: 90 degrees), and my legs were covered. I did get several compliments on this outfit, though. :) Much cooler without the sweater, ha. You'll notice I still haven't added those straps...oops.

Day 9:
Skirt: Refashioned maxi
Tank: Self-drafted (as-yet unblogged)
Jacket: RTW

I like to call this look "garage sale chic." It was quite comfy for helping with my mom's MASSIVE garage sale, although the lack of pockets made getting change for people a bit difficult. The morning started off cold and humid, but by 9:00, the gorgeous weather had come around and was here to stay, so I ditched the jacket.

Day 10:

Shorts: RTW (since my attempts to sew shorts have all been epic failures)
Shirt: Refashioned polo
Jacket: RTW

Garage sale chic, part 2. :) The pockets definitely came in handy, as did the layering.

Day 11:

Bottom: Tania culottes, part 2
Shirt: Altered
Sweater: RTW

My second pair of Tania culottes make a second appearance for the week. I got quite a few compliments on these, and the bigger waistband is a bit more comfortable than the first pair. They sit quite a bit lower, which does change the silhouette, but I think they'll definitely be a summer staple with various bright tops.

I also made much more of an effort to wear me-made jewelry, although my efforts to photograph said jewelry have been severely lacking.

Stay tuned this week for more pictures of my self-drafted racerback tank!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A personal word about "old lady" hobbies

Unlike every single sewing blogger out there (or at least, it seems like every one, from where I'm sitting), I'm single. Which means I'm dating. Which means I inevitably run into some jerks. I've become a bit jaded about the whole thing, honestly, but I still try to laugh most things off. But when someone I've finally started to trust a little bit disappoints or insults me, that's when I seriously start to consider adopting 15 cats and 3 more sewing machines.

Let me preface this a bit: I willingly call myself an old lady sometimes: I like to go to bed around 10 pm (later if the situation calls for it, but I don't want to start a date at 9 pm - I'm not 19 anymore). I like to knit. I like to crochet. I like to sew. I like to cross stitch. I like some granny print stuff. I like vintage. I'm fine with all of that. And I'm fine with poking a little fun at myself, because I know, to the guys in my dating world, those things aren't "hip." I don't go to trendy bars in cocktail dresses, I don't stay out late, I don't take rock climbing trips, and I'm not a fan of of house parties (or at least, house parties that don't involve Cards Against Humanity). My hobbies don't necessarily read as "exciting," but it doesn't matter, because I like them. 

I can be self-deprecating all day. But when someone decides to make that leap themselves, I get peeved. A recent response, when I told someone that one of my favorite hobbies is sewing: “Sewing to me sounds like something my grandma would do.”

How unbelievably insulting. Never mind the very lively segment of bloggers making cool, trend-setting independent patterns. Never mind the fact that, when you sew for yourself, you never have to worry about someone else having the same thing. Never mind that know where your clothes came from (i.e. not a Bangladeshi kid who was paid 3 cents to make it), or that you know it'll last (and you're helping ditch "fast fashion,"), or that it can really take some cognitive work, which studies have shown is likely to stave off Alzheimer's and dementia. Never mind all of that. It's really just plain fun. I get an immense amount of joy in wearing the few makes I've accumulated so far. So to you, boy who doesn't know anything, I say: Nice try. Better luck next time.

What about you guys - have any of you had any particularly frustrating insults (or backhanded compliments) thrown your way? What's your response?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Me-Made May week 1, plus quiet weekend projects

Well, week 1 was a short one, but I managed to wear 3 different me-mades in 2 days (I definitely didn't leave the house this weekend, so nothing to show for Saturday or Sunday): 

Thursday: Unblogged turquoise necklace and earrings.
Thursday (after a quick change for a cocktail party): Floral maxi dress
Friday (because I was feeling lazy and it was cold and rainy): Refashioned polo shirt with a go-to winter sweater and jeans.

My plan for the weekend was to stay in and have another super-productive few days of sewing again. Well, I DID stay in, and I DID sew, but it was not super-productive. I finished the second hem on my second pair of culottes (full post to come soon), and my first from-scratch project was another bow clutch with this beautiful floral fabric:

It's a simple quilting cotton, but I can't tell you how in love with this print I am. Does it look like old-lady fabric? Not that it matters, I still think it's beautiful. For some stupid reason, I only bought 1/4 yard of this (2 years ago?)...probably because that was my epic fabric-buying summer and I'd already spent SO much money, but still, stupid. For the lining, I used this leftover piece from a dress a friend made me (I was supposed to make it WITH her, but that never happened) 5 years ago. Wow. Combined time in stash for these 2 fabrics: 7 years. 

When I went to check out the tutorial for that clutch again, I saw that she'd temporarily taken it down because it's being published in the inaugural issue of Love Sewing Magazine...exciting for her, not-so-exciting for me! However, I figured that since I'd already made 2 of these, I could figure it out pretty easily. 

Well, I was right and wrong. I ended up making some stupid mistakes and needing to rip out a few things, and I had to guess on the measurements based on my previous makes, so it turned out a little smaller than before. 

Here it is with my second version, finished last summer (whose fabric I also love, but which I've never used, of course). Hopefully both of these make it into my summer staples this year! I also have enough of the blue left to make a pillow cover, so I'll get to stare at this pretty print every day!

I also started working on Simplicity 2250 with a bright pink floral and butterfly printed cotton: 

Don't ask me why I thought it would be a good idea to use THIS as my first foray into dressmaking with a commercial pattern. There is SO much pleating and darting, and I ended up not having enough fabric to make all of the pattern pieces as-listed. I think I'll have to do some creative piecing. The bodice is almost all done now, but I'm afraid I cut it too small. Oh well. If it doesn't work out, it wasn't fabric that I loved, anyway.

Did you guys do anything fun this weekend? Were you less hermit-y than I was?

Friday, May 2, 2014


When I bought this fabric remnant (1.25 yards), I initially intended to make a tank top or maybe a cardigan - florals are all the rage, right? However, after I washed it and saw how much yardage I really had to work with, I knew a maxi dress was in order.

[More weirdly pissed-off looks, sorry!]

Never mind that the temperature is stubbornly staying in the 50s, and that it's been drizzling all week - I've already worn it twice! I refuse to accept that it's not summer, even while everyone else is still walking around in winter coats and scarves.

I self-drafted this - it's really just a couple of tubes, since I didn't have enough to make a fuller skirt. I lined the bodice with a super-comfy knit fabric I cut from an old babydoll dress I no longer wear:

 So pretty and comfy, I think I'm in love! 

Although, after wearing it all night, I think I'll go ahead and add the straps I was debating adding to begin with. It fell down quite a bit more than I realized in these pictures - nothing too showy, but I think it's more flattering when it's pulled up higher. It'll also help keep it from getting twisted around.

[Left: Being ridiculous. Right: Laughing at being ridiculous.]

This was project #1 of 3 of my sewing insanity weekend. Stay tuned for the other projects (assuming it actually ever gets warm and sunny enough to photograph them!). Here's hoping the weather where you are is better than here!