Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 5 of 2015

I feel like I say it every year, but it's especially true this year: I can't believe how quickly it went! With that said, it's time for another year-end round-up. I'm not planning to stretch this out over several posts this time, so you'll only have one to skip if it's not your thing. ;-) I'm planning to get a few things sewn up over the New Year's break, so hopefully I'll be back soon with some new makes!

Top 5 Hits: 

Walking Dead Quilt: Yeah. This one was definitely a nerdy labor of love. And the compliments I got on this were like none other. 
(Not-so-secret-Secret: I keep a list of my favorites that I can refer to whenever I need a pick-me-up:
"I'm wiping drool off of my keyboard right now. I simply can't believe how fantastic this quilt is, and ALL OF THAT EMBROIDERY!! You are the good kind of crazy, girl."
"Can't. Process. All. Of. The. Awesome. You broke my brain with this. Tremendous!!"
/bragging over) 

Floral Maxi Dress: I got so much wear out of this one - I might have to make another next spring. 

Cabled sweater: I love this sweater and wear it all the time. Thanks, Andi Satterlund!
Christmas dress: I've only worn it once so far, and it drove me nuts trying to keep it on my shoulders, but I got so many IRL compliments that I just had to throw it on here. 

Wanderlust Quilt: This one's really too small to use, but every time I see it hanging on my blanket ladder, I smile a little. This one just came together in some incredible strokes of serendipity.

Top 5 Misses:

These mostly came down to trying to break out of my style and realizing that it was "my style" for a reason. 

Stretchy tulip skirt: Note to self: there's a reason I don't wear pencil skirts. This has already been thrown in the "donate" bag (in spite of Kennis' great drafting/instructions). 

Too-short tunic: This was one of the few tester calls I answered this year, and while I do like the pattern, there are too many problems with this tunic (though not the pattern itself!) and it was only worn once. It's too short, too tight around the bust (some overzealous fitting there, oops), and the finishing on the neckline is pretty terrible. I think this pattern does have some potential for me, though, so I'd like to try again at some point. 

Ill-fitting lace: This was another make that was only worn once. I should've gone back and re-done the zipper, but never got around to it. I do like the pattern, though, and I'd like to try it again, with a few caveats: I need to lower the back neckline, and not try to use this pattern with lace (lace+underlining shifts too much for me at this point). 

Cabled sweater: I used the same pattern as the one above, but a very different yarn, and this one just doesn't fit/drape well at all. Maybe at some point I'll redo the sleeves (the main offender), but at this point, I can't even be bothered to take a picture. 

A little too 70s: I keep meaning to go back and fix the fitting issues on this one, but really, I think the fabric on this is just not me. If I'm gonna go vintage, I'd prefer the 50s/early 60s to the 70s. 

What are your year-end reflections? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Just under the wire

Merry almost Christmas! I don't know about the rest of you, but the holidays really snuck up on me this year. I came back home after a nice Thanksgiving with my family and immediately came down with a pretty terrible cold. It had me stuck on the couch for a solid week, and, though I wasn't really feeling better during week 2, I had to suck it up so I could finish my first-ever Christmas dress!

I bought this fabric over the summer when I fell in love with it at Vogue Fabrics and knew I wanted to make a fancy gown with it. Months came and went and I still couldn't decide on a pattern, but since I'd been telling my coworkers that I was going to make my dress for our annual Christmas party (and since I really didn't have anything else to wear), I had to buckle down and do something. And because our party was at the Signature Room at the Hancock, it was the perfect event for something fancy. 

I started with a muslin of Simplicity 2580, but really didn't like the way it was draping and decided I wanted a more dramatic neckline. I found Simplicity 3503 in my stash and, even though it's intended for knits, I figured I could make it work with this slinky mystery material. 

Rather than my usual slapdash method, I really took my time with this one. After using some really low-quality material that wouldn't stop slipping and sliding for my muslin, this was a dream to sew with. I made sure to stitch up the front neckline to make it a little more work-party appropriate. Because there's nothing like living on the edge, I finished the last piece of this (the hem) about an hour before I had to leave for the party. (I'd debated whether I wanted a floor-skimming gown, but since this was a brunch event, I figured knee-length would be more appropriate.) I just had time to try it on and make sure it looked decent before heading out the door. 

What I realized after walking just a couple of blocks, though, was that this thing did not want to stay on my shoulders, even with some double-sided tape. That meant I was fiddling with it all day, but that didn't stop the compliments from coming! Several of my coworkers told me they liked it, and when I told them I'd made it, they were even more impressed. It became the talk of the party, which made me a little self-conscious, but also infinitely proud. So all in all, while this wasn't quite the dress I'd imagined, I think it was a hit! Hopefully I'll get a chance to wear it again (with some minor alterations, of course).

Monday, December 7, 2015

You look like you're ready to go conquer the Scottish highlands

That's what my office manager said to me about this wrap and I've gotta say...I don't mind. Kind of badass, right? This one wasn't on my fall sewing list, but after hitting the stores again and seeing so many of these wrap/poncho things around, I knew I wanted one for myself. 

[I was super tired on the day we took these pics, so forgive me for not looking at the camera in ANY of them.]

After some business (CT) and fun (San Francisco!) travel, I was very excited to get back to my sewing machine, but also incredibly tired. So my first ever sewing meetup (at the Vogue fabrics warehouse, nonetheless!) was just what I needed to get some sewjo back. (Thanks to Michelle, Gina, and Debbie!) We split some rolls of denim at the warehouse, and then headed to the retail store, where I didn't find the emerald coating wool I was looking for, but I did find this great tartan wool. 

Thanks to Gina's help, I decided I only needed to splurge on a yard to be able to get the look I was going for. I had this all sewn up by the next day! (I basically did what she outlines in this post.)

I definitely prefer it with the belt, I think, although my mom (as usual!) disagrees, ha. I think either way is good, though! I've worn it a few times, and I like the look, but it's not quite as warm as I'd hoped (for winter, anyway). I think it'll be a go-to for next fall, though!

Friday, November 6, 2015

My dreams of becoming a princess are slowly coming true...

If this skirt is any indication, anyway. I almost wore it with a tiara for a lazy Halloween costume, but in the end, was too lazy for even that. 

[My face looked dumb in all of these pictures. Grateful for the crop function!]

This was item #12 on my fourth-quarter sewing list. I'm making pretty good progress on it already! This skirt has been on my to-sew list for 2-3 years (I bought the tulle one Black Friday, but I can't remember exactly how long ago it was). I'm glad to finally have it done, even if I'm not quite sure if it's my style. 

As you can see, it's VERY poofy. I wore it to work one day (we dress very casually at my office), and I felt very self-conscious. I'm not sure if I just to need to own it, or if it really does look ridiculous. (My mom, who took these pictures, thought it was kind of silly until I pointed out all of the similar versions in stores and magazines). 

It's hard to see the lining in most of these pictures (which is kind of the point), but it ended up being much more of a form-fitting pencil skirt than a circle skirt that matched the layers. I think I'm pretty okay with that, though. Anyway. I think I'll give it another chance and see how I feel! What do you think? Would you try the tulle trend?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Trying something new

Today I've got TWO projects from my fall sewing list to share with you! How's that for productive? :)

First up, the Sierra bra by Madalynne. It's available as a free download - there are no instructions, but she's got a great sew-along up on her blog. 

Mine isn't a lacy pretty one like she makes, but there are a few reasons for that. A) The pattern is intended for ladies who are much smaller than I am (in band width and cup size). I didn't want the hassle of fiddling with lace for something that was never going to fit. B) I wanted a cute but comfy bra for lounging around in. I bought this fabric last year with my allowance for one of the Stashbusting Sewalong challenges. And C) ...I swear I had something for this. :-/

For a first bra, this isn't too shabby. I added some length in the back (4", maybe? I need to transfer the changes to the pattern), but didn't think to add length on the parts that wrap around to the back. The fit is okay overall but the cups are a bit too small. I'm debating whether I want to try to making them bigger, or whether I should move on to another (soft) bra pattern (I'm not quite ready to try anything with underwires yet). 

[Yep, I took these outside. We've had so little sunlight this week that it was a struggle, and there was no way I was going to get a decent picture inside. :-/]

I had about 1 2/3 yards of this fabric (I probably ordered 2 and it shrank?), so with the rest, I traced off the skirt of a RTW dress and made a simple a-line skirt. 

I definitely had fun walking around at the corn maze with my friends, but even with a slip, this fabric is pretty clingy. I'd love any tips for making it less so. But at least I can cross off items 3 and 8, woohoo!

What are your favorite fall activities?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Notes from Istanbul

So remember my long list of fall sewing/knitting/crafting plans from last week? Welp, I just realized that I didn't *actually* follow the rules to enter the contest, so...if anyone knows of any other contests I could enter to keep my motivation up, I'd appreciate you sending them my way! That being said, all of the things on my list *are* things that I still want, and I've finished several of them already, so...let's hope that motivation continues!

Before I get into showing off those projects, though, I wanted to share with you a few pictures from my recent trip to Istanbul (all fabric-related, of course). 

Before I went, I (obviously) looked up what kind of good fabric shopping there was (that's one of my first priorities when planning a new trip these days). The Selfish Seamstress, Dibulous, and Clio and Phineas all indicated that there were some places to be found in the Grand Bazaar, as well as on one magical little road between the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar. I decided to look for the latter first, so my friend and I started wandering along the cramped, busy streets of Istanbul. When I found this guy, I knew we were going in the right direction:

I stumbled upon this great store with a beautiful purple floral print that I got for about $5/yard. I'm planning to make a spring dress with it, I think. I'd also heard about the great silks that can be found in the city, so on our last day there, I went hunting for it in the Grand Bazaar. This proved to be kind of difficult, because A) that place is HUGE (seriously, I didn't quite realize how big it was, and probably still don't, but it's SO easy to get lost in there), and B) even the people who work there, who know almost everything about what there is to find, looked at me blankly when I asked for the fabric section. Thankfully, we eventually found it!

The first place we went was nice, but a little more than I wanted to spend (and you can almost ALWAYS find a better bargain at another shop in the bazaar). We eventually stumbled on a good one willing to deal. Though they didn't quite have all of the choices that the other places had, I found a blue ikat and knew it would make a great robe. Unfortunately, with very narrow (15" wide?) fabric, I had to buy 5 meters of it at about $15/meter, but...once it's made, it'll be a really great, long-lasting souvenir of my trip! As Selfish describes it, it's more of a twill weight than a chiffon, so it should be a great weight for a spring/early summer robe in which I can luxuriously lounge around the house. :)

I also couldn't resist going back to the first fabric shop to get some more great deals on our last day there. I ended up adding the fabric on the top, and the blue colorway of the purple fabric that I originally fell in love with (more florals, of course. I am seriously in love with those two prints). 

I feel like this is a great time to tell one of my favorite "Istanbul hospitality" stories. As described above, we basically stumbled around the shopping district of the city on the first day and happened to find this shop in the "fabric" section. I had no idea how to get back, so I showed a random shopkeeper the picture of me and the fabric statue, hoping that would at least get me in the right direction. He didn't know, so he asked several passers-by. He eventually found an elderly man pushing a heavy cart who knew where it was, so gave directions, which the shopkeeper interpreted for us. We started on our way and, about halfway through...got lost. As we were standing there scratching our heads, the elderly man with the cart happened to be on his return trip, saw that we were lost, and exasperatedly (but good-natured-ly!) shook his head and enthusiastically gestured in the right direction. We didn't end up finding the statue again, but did walk right to the fabric store I wanted! Phew, that got kind of long-winded, but we thought it was one of the most adorable things we'd seen, so I had to share. :)

I wish I'd had a bit more time to explore the fabric and notions in Istanbul, but I'm really happy with the souvenirs I did get. What's your favorite fabric-shopping experience been?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My long-awaited return (and some Fall goals)

Hmmm, maybe it's only been long-awaited by me. :-/ Sorry for the unintended hiatus. I don't really have a good excuse, either - there's just been a general lack of motivation (mostly lacking the motivation to take decent pictures, but more generally as well). I'm always on the fence about whether I should be kind to myself and not try to force things that I'm really not feeling, or whether forcing myself through things will be better for me in the end. Do you ever struggle with that problem? How do you approach it?

Despite said lack of motivation, I do have a backlog of projects to blog, and some WIPs I'm hoping to finish sometime soon. I'm also currently in the midst of planning (slash over-planning...slash achieving?) my fall sewing list (more on that below), but before it gets too late in the year, I wanted to share one last summer make.

This dress was definitely a labor of love. I picked up that great skirt fabric in Puerto Rico last year (my only sewing souvenir!), but only got 1.5 yards. At first I was intending to make a simple circle skirt to really show off the print, but then started thinking about the fact that dresses are so much easier to wear in some ways (hello, instant outfit!), so I went for the whole shebang. 

For the bodice, I used the same lace I used for this dress (which I sadly have only worn once. I feel like the proportions are off on me? And I definitely need to fix the back.) I carefully basted the lining to each piece of lace, determined not to repeat some of the mistakes I made with the last lace dress. I used some random ribbon for the straps, since the lace+underlining would've made straps a bit difficult to turn. It's hard to tell in this picture, but I used double-fold bias binding around the top edge. 

You can see some wrinkling in the back, which is a common problem I have when working with lace. The bodice is my tried and true Simplicity 4070, which fits me well in general. I guess I'll just have to keep working at it. 

Sadly, I've also only worn this dress once. In part because I finished it just before the cold weather hit, but part of it is also that I'm terrified of spilling something on it. But clothes are meant to be worn, right? I'm sure I'll be itching to pull it back out next spring. 

In other news, I have to thank one of the lovely ladies in the Facebook stashbusting group who told me about this Fall Finish-Along. I hope that having some of these lovely prizes to motivate me will help me get through my rapidly growing Fall sewing(/knitting/cross stitch) list.


Sewing plans:
1. Christmas dress. This fabric immediately caught my eye in the store, but I started second-guessing myself. However, the friend I was shopping with quickly talked me into it, and now I can't get the idea of a beautiful vintage-inspired emerald dress for our fancy work Christmas party out of my head. I think I'll use the bodice of B5748 with a sleeker skirt, though this is subject to change.

[This is a much deeper emerald in real life.]

2. Self-drafted fall cape along these lines: 


The cape and lining have been cut out - now to finish it properly!

3. Sierra bra #1. I plan to try this first in some jersey fabric in the stash, to see if it'll even work for my size (it's intended for sizes smaller than mine, so we'll see). 

4. Sierra bra #2 in pretty lace (assuming the first one works out). 

5. Self-drafted white pleated skirt (this one's been cut out and basted already, yay!):

 6. Wrap top (note: this one's been made, but doesn't work for me. I'll have to figure out how to fix it to complete this item):

7. Denim A-line skirt. I'm thinking something like this, though may use a simpler self-drafted skirt. 

8. Self-drafted knit skater skirt using one of these Girl Charlee fabrics:

9. Another skater skirt, assuming the first goes well.

9. Sparkly A-line skirt:

  10. Cocoon cardigan:

11. Wrap top from men's button-down:

12. Tulle skirt:

13. Coat with emerald green wool (to be honest, this'll probably have to be rolled into next year, but a girl can dream!)

Some of these makes look pretty summery, but I'm all about the layering and can see myself getting a lot of winter use out of them.  

14. Game of Thrones quilt (like my Walking Dead one, but...with GoT). All of the fabrics are bought, and many of the designs are done. You can see them on my Instagram.


1. Cocoon cardigan (I figure I'll either sew OR knit one - probably can't do both!) If I make this one, it'll be in a chunky purple yarn.

2. Leg warmers (pattern subject to change, but something like this:)
3. Boot toppers

4. Katniss cowl

5. Fix Fezziwig sweater. I knit it last winter, re-doing the button band twice. However, it's still not right, so I'm going to rip out the band again and try to complete it for real.

6. Lace shawl (again, kind of summery, but I want it, dangit!)

7. Slippers

1. Pretty Little Chicago cross stitch (this one's about half done at this point):

2. Pretty Little Barcelona cross stitch:

Phew! That's a lot! I'm sure I won't finish everything, but I like lists, and I like goals, and I like prizes, so...let's see how far I get! Are you participating?

Monday, August 31, 2015

I'm baaaaaack!

So, let's state the obvious: it's been almost 2 months since I posted. I've been kicking myself about it throughout my entire hiatus, but I just haven't found the energy for blogging. In preparation for this post, I took a bunch of pictures of all of the things I've made lately (I have been making things, I swear!), but even then, I wasn't quite sure where to start. 

Since the Refashioners challenge is going on right now, and since I'd really love to win that prize pack, let's start with that project, shall we? When I first started getting into sewing a few years ago, the couple of blogs that I followed were very big into refashioning. I saw so many cute projects made with men's button-down shirts, so I headed off to Goodwill and picked up quite a few of them (at fill-a-bag prices, they were only about $0.25 each!). 

After just one failed refashion attempt, I threw the remaining shirts in a corner and forgot about them...until I saw this picture of a quilt top that Sewaholic had been working on, and knew I had to do the same. 

[It was a windy day, I swear (/hope) it's straight!]

Luckily, the shirts I'd picked out way back when had a very unified color scheme! Cutting the shirts apart was a task, but I plopped down on the floor with some good (trashy) T.V. and set about getting as many usable pieces of fabric as I could. I decided to go with
6" x 6" blocks to maximize fabric. I also decided, kind of last-minute, to keep the pockets as a fun little detail. 

When it came time to do the actual quilting, I was inspired by Handmade Jane's method, and went with complementary blue thread to fit the theme. I also found some random gray cotton in my stash that I decided to use for the binding (very proud that I decided not to go out and buy store-bought binding for this one). 

The layout took me a while, but I like how the alternating vertical-horizontal stripes stripes turned out. 

I had no idea what to use for the back, but I stumbled on some great chambray at Wal-Mart for $1/yard! After washing, it turns out that it's not actually so great (though I shouldn't be surprised at that price tag) - it tears easily, so I'll have to be really careful when using this. I do like the look of the quilting on the back, though!

I have no idea how big this is, but there's a fair bit hanging over the edge of the fence at the top. Maybe a skinny twin? I can't decide if I want to keep this for myself or give it as a gift, but I do know that I love it!
Bonus: I've got extra bit all pieced (though I'm not sure how to finish it, because it's really not big enough for anything). Any ideas?

Anyway, hopefully I can get back to my regular blogging schedule soon (although my upcoming trip to Istanbul might throw a wrench in that - I definitely plan to buy ALL of the fabric, though, I'll have to show you when I get back!).