Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I need this dress to live!

The title is a variation of something cute my nephew said the other day. He and my sister were in Toys R Us and my nephew saw a train that he simply had to have. He's four. He worships Thomas the Train. He grabbed a train and refused to let it go, exclaiming for all of Toys R Us to hear: "I need this train to live!"

Tee hee. I feel you nephew. I just came across a dress pattern that I need in order for my life to be complete:

McCalls 6503

I'm particularly drawn to this variation, View B:

View B
I actually love all four variations, but this one is so cute and simple. I'm a fan of simple. I missed the pattern sales at both Joann and Hancock Fabrics, but that did not deter me. I bought it anyway, braving horrible Austin holiday traffic to make it mine.

This dress would be awesome if I made it in the same colors as the Kate Spade dress I fell in love with two weeks ago:
Liana Dress by Kate Spade

McCalls 6503 is next on my list. Currently, I'm elbows-deep in polyester crepe as I try to finish my Colette Licorice dress in time for New Year's Eve. So far, so good I guess. After this experience, I will probably never settle for polyester crepe again. It's not bad, it just lacks something that I can't quite describe at the moment.

Here are a couple of things to keep in my when using polyester crepe (or almost any 100% polyester fabric):

  • Use sharp needs. Microtex to be exact.
  • Cotton thread is best. It's less likely to cause puckering.

I'm glad that I stumbled upon those two suggestions or you'd hear me cursing from a mile away.


I am so ready to be finished with this dress. I made two muslins. I changed the sleeves which required more work than I initially expected. Making this dress has been exhausting.

Not to say that the Licorice dress is complicated and time consuming. It is not. My almost insane desire to have it fit perfectly and to rid myself of the bell sleeves have made this a stressful sewing endeavor.

I really need to take it down a notch.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Year's Eve ideas

So, the hubby and I are going out for New Year's Eve. We go out every year, but this is the first time that I'm able to make a dress for the occasion. I have a million ideas going through my head. I'm getting overwhelmed to say the least.

I want to make something relatively simple but classy and stylish. I already have the shoes which limits my color options to eggplant, plum and black. I'm one of those people that needs everything to match.

Gallery Mary Jane by Sofft

I bought the December issue of Burda Style Magazine hoping to make this dress:

Burda Style 12/2011 (107)

I like this dress...a lot. I bought some black crepe but I'm still hesitant to make this dress. The instructions leave much to be desired. I've read through them a couple times already and I got a headache both times. I don't know if I have the patience for such an undertaking even though the dress seems really simple.  Also, empire waist dresses almost always make me look pregnant. There will possibly be a sew-along next month, so I may give it whirl then.

I also thought about the Colette Licorice dress from the Colette Sewing Handbook.

Colette Licorice dress

Something about this dress just doesn't do it for me. I love it in theory. It seems like it would make a great party dress but I don't know. It seems a bit matronly. Perhaps it's the sleeves that just aren't doing it for me.

While browsing on Pinterest, I came across this lovely dress by Kate Spade:

Liana Dress by Kate Spade

This dress reminds me of the Colette Peony pattern. I would make mine with sleeves and all black. I would nix the gathers in the front skirt in favor of pleats. That would be too cute.

I know that I need to post photos of my Peony but I'm not feeling photogenic right now and I also need to make some adjustments.

It never dawned on me before that I would need to make adjustments for my shoulders...until I made my Peony. The dress fit marvelously except for the neckline. It rises up over my shoulders as if it's too large. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.

I consulted my Busy Woman's Fitting Book by Nancy Zieman (thanks Half-Price Books)...too bad I didn't consult it before I finished the dress. Turns out, I should have been making adjustments for my square shoulders. D'oh! I think the boat neckline of the Peony dress makes this adjustment more necessary which is probably why it never dawned on me to make it before.

A black Peony would be excellent. I could get more wear out of it. Would it be too plain? Hmm. Decisions, decisions.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Brainstorming: Handbags Part Deux

Another bag that I've wanted for months:
Globetrotter Tote from Shabby Apple

It's sold-out now. It was around $55 when it was on the site. I thought that was a bit much for a canvas bag with faux leather handles. I still wanted to buy it, alas I procrastinated and missed my chance.

The thought of recreating it did cross my mind. I figured I'd have to draft my own pattern. I had no desire to do that. I caught a case of the lazies. I wrote the idea down in my sewing notebook for later use.

But in a zippy twist of fate, I came across a pattern.

NapkittenPattern on etsy I am going to make this bag. I have some canvas in the stash already. I also thought about making it out of plaid coating fabric or perhaps even tweed. Denver Fabrics has some for around $14 a yard. I'm looking for leather handles etc.

I'm keeping my projects to a minimum this month. I plan on making this dress for New Year's Eve. I already have my shoes. I have my copy of Burda Style magazine just waiting to be traced. I ordered swatches of crepe back satin. I'm excited.

I only have the zipper and hem left on my Colette Peony. I could have finished it tonight but I'm suffering from a case of the Mondays. Once I finish that, I will get started on my bag and my New Year's Eve dress.

We'll see how this goes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Brainstorming: Handbags

I want this handbag:

Fossil Vintage Re-Issue Satchel

I cannot afford this handbag. Well, I could afford it, it just wouldn't be prudent. It's $188 on Zappos and $208 on Fossil. Just a little more than I'd like to spend right now. Of course, I've already checked ebay and it's still a bit more than I want to spend.

So, my cheapy brain has come up with an idea: I can make this bag. Not with leather, mind you. But with fabric. I could also use faux leather but honestly, I would prefer to use fabric. The only leather I would use would be for the handles. Those are easy to find and not too expensive.

I have some Alexander Henry floral fabric that would be perfect. I'm thinking of using Kona cotton in place of the leather. I also plan to omit the top zipper as I never use them on the handbags I already own.

I plan on drafting the pattern for this one myself. If it works out, I'll post it as my very first tutorial.

Another bag that I like and would like to own:

Tommy Hilfiger Canvas Travel Tote

This one is more reasonably priced but I can live without the Tommy Hilfiger logo. I don't really like the shape of the bag, but I what I really like is the canvas, webbing and leather handles. I could make something similar to that. I thought about using the Grand Revival Emma bag pattern and striped grosgrain ribbon. I already have plenty of canvas in my stash. I would use purchased leather handles on this one as well.

Aside from lusting after handbags, I've been working on the Colette Peony dress. I'm using the red-violet poplin that I bought from Fabric Mart for $1.99 a yard. I honestly like the poplin so far. The color is great. Although it is a bit on the thin side, I still like it.

I hope to finish it today.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A sigh of relief.

So, turns out my wrist fail wasn't Carpal Tunnel after all, but a good old wrist sprain.

I'm doing much better now. I have to take it easy and take sewing breaks, but overall, I'm good. My days of marathon sewing are over now. That's a good thing because I was clearly over-doing it. I had become overwhelmed by all the projects that I felt I had to complete AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. At one point, I was sewing at least 7 or 8 garments (or bags) a month. Of course, I still haven't posted most of these projects. I will do it eventually. I promise

To get me back in the swing of things, I'm working on a simple dress. I was quite inspired by the Bon Voyage dress from Shabby Apple:

I love Shabby Apple designs but the prices are just a bit much. I refuse to pay $78 for a cotton poplin dress. Especially since I can make it myself.

I decided to use the combination of Kwik Sew pattern 3023 (view C) along with a pleated hem. I'm still working on it at the moment. Tomorrow I will work on the pleated skirt as the rest of the dress is complete. I'm using some espresso colored stretch poplin that I bought from Fabric Mart's poplin blow-out sale.

The poplin is good for $1.99 a yard. Anything more than that and I would be a wee bit pissed. It's thin and attracts lint and dog fur. My dress is currently covered in dog fur despite the fact that my dog hasn't been anywhere near me for hours (he's sleeping on his favorite blanket). The colors are great though. I ordered three different colors: red violet, espresso, and claret red.

I should have lined my dress but I was lazy. That's what slips are for ;)

Anyway, I also bought a new pattern that I'm genuinely excited about: the Darling Ranges dress pattern from Megan Nielsen. I saw the version by paunnet and I I have the pattern in my possession (shipping was super fast) and now begins my search for fabric.

I like this one and this one. I'm leaning towards the second one because it's a U.S. seller and I won't have to wait a month (or pay $30 for faster shipping) for my fabric. I really like both.

Next week, I'll start work on my muslin and mull over more fabric ideas.

I'm so excited :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ease on down the road.

Looks like my wrist fail is more of a stress injury rather than Carpel Tunnel. We'll see next week when I have my second visit with the physical therapist. I'm not in nearly as much pain but I'm far from 100%.

It's annoying. All I want to do is sew. I have a million projects dancing around in my head right now because my creative energy has no where to go. I've even pondered projects for the inevitable Spring Palette Challenge (2012!).

Crazy, right?

Also, I've read an alarming amount of reviews on Pattern Review. One of the biggest complaints amongst sewists (I actually prefer seamstress even if it seems a bit antiquated), is the amount of ease in the Big Four patterns. Ease also seems to be the cause of most fitting issues, especially if the finished garment isn't fitted.

But what I don't understand is, doesn't anyone just read the finished garment measurements on the back of the pattern envelope? They seem to be the only accurate measurements.

Depending on the pattern, I choose my size based on the finished garment measurements. I usually choose pattern sizes based on my upper bust measurement, which is 40 inches. I am one of those broad shoulder people. My measurements usually put me between a size 18 and 20 on the Big Four measurement charts.

I've found that with some styles, if I made them according to my measurements, I would be swimming in an ocean of ease. So, I look to the finished measurements for size guidance. Since I'm using my upper bust measurement of 40, I know that any finished bust measurement that exceeds 4 inches (again, depending on the style) may be too large. I won't choose that size even though it may correspond with my measurements on the size chart.

For example, the finished bust measurements of let's say, Simplicity 2059 view A, are 45 1/2 inches. The dress is loose-fitting and 5 1/2 inches is plenty of wiggle room for me (again 40 bust). According to the chart that would put me at a size 16, so I will make a muslin of a size 16 (maybe even 14) and go from there. If I went according to my measurements (falling between size 18 and 20), I would end up making a garment with almost 9 1/2 inches of ease!

Now this method isn't fool-proof or without its faults. I've been successful so far by choosing my size this way. If anything, it's a good starting point, especially if you're confused as to how to choose a size. It works best for shirts (not taking bust adjustments into consideration) or loose-fitting dresses.

Anywho, those are my thoughts. I wish I were sewing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy and Sad.


I got my Colette Sewing Handbook a couple of days ago! I'm so thrilled to finally have it in my possession. I was initially drawn to the Licorice dress, but after seeing the Meringue skirt styled with a shirt very similar to the Violet blouse, I was sold.

Too bad I won't be able to sew for a while.


My poor left hand has been cursed by dreaded Carpal Tunnel. Steroids are being consumed and physical therapy starts Monday for the next month. Hopefully, the physical therapy will work and I can avoid surgery. But until the dust settles on all this---no sewing.

I have so many projects that I'm just dying to start work on and I can only read the pattern envelopes and hope for the future.

In the meantime, I can catch up on some blog posts and pattern reviews. I have so many dresses that I haven't even photographed. So, all won't be lost.

To keep me from feeling terribly depressed, I packed up my sewing stuff (I don't have a room, just a dining table and a few plastic bins). I got tired of my sewing machine mocking me every time I walked in the living room.


There are worst things. So I'll keep my whining to a minimum.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tova! Tova! Tova!

I've always wanted a Wiksten Tova pattern. And by always, I mean like for the last 8 months. Every time they were for sale, I was broke. When I had the money, they were sold out. Earlier this month, I finally had money and the pattern was on sale at the same time. It was meant to be.

My initial plan was to make the Tova top in the plaid shirting I bought from Fabric Mart. I like Fabric Mart. Shipping was a bit annoying. Although I like flat-rate shipping, I don't think it should take a week to show up. Perhaps I'm just impatient ;)

The Tova pattern wasn't supposed to show up until after the 21st of this month, so it seemed perfect that it would take a while for my Fabric Mart order to show up. Three days later, my Tova pattern was in my mail box. Oh joy! Oh rapture!

I really, really, really wanted to start work on this shirt. I didn't want to wait for my fabric. I had some eggplant poly-cotton broadcloth and coral cotton broadcloth that I had purchased in Chicago. These fabrics were for my fall palette challenge although I still had no idea what I wanted to make with them.

I made the eggplant Tova first.

I had a couple of fit issues with this first one. Although my measurements were dead-on for the XL size, I soon realized, after trying it on, that the Tova pattern may have not been designed for ample boobage. Too bad that I didn't discover this tutorial on adding some room to the bust area.

So, for my next Tova (which was made immediately after finishing the first one), I used my coral broadcloth. I added 1/2" to the front and back pieces this time. There was less ease in the sleeves which I didn't think would be a problem until I tried it on.

The sleeves were too tight. I could still wear it, but the tightness of the sleeves got annoying after a while. It wasn't a total loss. Adding 1/2" to the front and back pieces did give my boobs space to breath. However, in hindsight, I probably should have only added about 1/4" instead. Of course, this didn't occur to me until after I made my third Tova, this time in plaid.

First of all, I LOVE this fabric. It's a smooth, lightweight shirting with just a bit of stretch. It's soft and presses with ease. Although it's lightweight, the shirting isn't sheer. I love it. I cut the placket, collar, and sleeve cuffs on the bias for some visual interest and to help break up the plaid. I also added 1/2" to the sleeves which relieved me of the tightness.The shirt was a bit boxy, so I added back darts.

Originally, I made it as a dress. I added 5 inches to the hem as I am tall and the dress pattern is actually only about tunic length. I tried it on and it looked like a muumuu. I tried to reconcile it. I tried to deny it. But yes, it looked like a muumuu. My husband agreed.

Because my body is kind of square and I lack actual waist definition, I can't really wear baggy or shapeless dresses without looking pregnant or like I'm wearing a muumuu. I've seen others wearing the Tova dress and it doesn't look baggy or muumuu. I think it's just me. Thus the dress became a shirt.

And because I just love the Tulip skirt, I made another:

Some how I screwed up and made the waistband too small. I still have enough fabric left to redo the waistband which is awesome. If not, I'd have to lose 15 pounds to be able to button it. I also plan on changing the buttons. I used poly trigger that I also purchased in Chicago.

I had no idea what trigger was or it's purpose until I found a random bolt of it while fabric shopping in Chicago. It's stiff and doesn't wrinkle and is perfect for this type of skirt. I may purchase more, maybe. This will not be my last tulip skirt.

The first two Tovas are a apart of my Fall Palette Challenge simply because they are the color that I chose for my palette. So that makes five things that I've completed for my Fall Palette Challenge. Eventually, I will hem that darn half-circle skirt.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The final lap.

Last night, as I was sewing the placket on my third Wiksten tulip skirt, I realized that I'm almost finished with the Fall Palette Challenge. Seriously. All I have left is the aforementioned tulip skirt and the hem on my half-circle skirt.

Of course, most of my pattern selections have changed but my colors have not.

I've made one dress, three shirts, and 3 skirts (two nearing completion).

I'm quite shocked. I need to post pictures and reviews asap.

Monday, October 3, 2011

First a fail, then a win times 3.

This blows.

Wrist = sprained. Or is it sprung? Being an English major, you'd think I would know for sure. Alas, my brain is fried.

I'm not sure how I did it, all I know is that I'm out of commission for at least a week. This entry marks the first time in a few days that I'm able to type with both hands without shouting out in pain.

The wrist fail will not stop me completely. I'm still buying fabric and patterns. Fabric Mart is having a sale on stretch poplin ($1.99 a yard) in colors that I actually want besides the mediocre brown, black, white, navy, bright red, hunter green and purple that Hancock Fabric and Joann always manage to have for $7.99 - $8.99 a yard. I bought enough for three future projects: Wiksten Tova shirt (I actually bought plaid shirting for this one), McCalls 6279 trench dress and the Colette Peony.

Yes, I managed to finally score a Wiksten Tova pattern. I've wanted this pattern for a while now but they were always sold out. Also, in pattern news, I managed to find the infamous Simplicity 3835. It's been OOP forever and whenever I find it online, it's for $35. I stumbled upon one (wrong size, of course) at Hancock Fabrics a couple months ago. I bought it, foolishly thinking that I could grade it up to a size 16 with ease.

Does anybody want it? It's sizes 4 - 12 uncut. I think I only opened the instructions once. I just found the correct size pattern for $10.50 (including shipping) on Etsy so I no longer need it.

Leave me a comment and I'll get in contact with you. It's free because I'm a nice person. First come, first served.

As far as the Fall Palette Challenge goes, I've managed to make a shirt dress, a Parfait with no zipper, a shirt and two un-hemmed skirts. I think that should do it. I'm ready to move on, or I will be once this brace comes off.

Anyway, that's all for now. It's nap time.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I still hate invisible zippers.

Put in a brand new zipper. It did the exact same thing.

Ok, now it's time for me to learn how to do the lapped zipper application.

No more of this invisible zipper crap.

But wait, I don't want to give up on them completely. Perhaps it's just Coats brand invisible zippers that suck. Maybe I should try YKK instead?

But not for this dress. If I install a zipper for the THIRD time, it had better work.

I'm going to abandon zippers for now and hem a couple of skirts instead. Hopefully, I will post pictures sometime this weekend.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Screw you invisible zipper.

I knew there was a reason why I was hesitant to use invisible zippers.

It's because they suck.

Anytime I have a dress that has an invisible zipper, it breaks. Never fails. I have two dresses in my closet right now that need the zipper replaced...the invisible zippers replaced.

This just happened to my almost complete Colette Parfait.

I just installed the zipper after fighting with the facing for an hour (there's a rant all about that).

I put the dress on and start pulling up the zipper. It stops midway and won't go any further.

It seems like it's caught on something, so I wiggle out of it to investigate.


I thought maybe my dress was too tight or something.

Nope. Not that either.

I try to wiggle it some more and the damn thing separated.


Now I have rip this damn zipper out and put in another one that will probably do the same thing (I have no money for any more sewing supplies this month. Not even a zipper. I have a spare invisible zipper that I can use.)

I'm so pissed. Despite a couple of instructional hiccups (which I will address on Pattern Review once the dress is finished), this dress was going well.

Argh. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


This Fall Palette Challenge is truly a challenge for me. I'm finding it almost impossible to stick with the patterns, colors and fabric that I've chosen. I come across other patterns. I get random inspirations. It's all very annoying and confusing.

I've already deviated from my list. I made the Lisette Market Skirt (Simplicity 2211 view B). I had some gray twill scraps lying around and it was just enough for the skirt. This means that I've now added gray to my color palette. Honestly, I felt like making another skirt. I'm also riding on an invisible zipper high. I bought the metal invisible zipper foot for my sewing machine instead of using the cheapy one that I bought at Joann. It broke after the first time I used it. Super glue just made it worse. Thank goodness for ebay. I also have enough black twill and wool from my half-circle skirt to make two more Market skirts. Go me.

Invisible zippers are awesome. I don't know why I avoided them for so long. My next hat trick will be the lapped zipper.

I've also fallen in love with two dresses that weren't on my current list (Peony was on list #2 but dropped from list #3): Peony and Parfait. I want to make both of these dresses, like now. Also, I have a strong desire to make the Lisette Traveler shirt dress in light blue poplin. Decisions, decisions.

My half-circle skirt is hanging in the closet. I finished the waistband and zipper, all I have left is the hem.

So far, I have almost finished three things on my list, which isn't too bad. It's hard to stay focused.

I think that instead of having a set list or plan, I'll just go on making things as I feel. Once the challenge is over, I'll take a look at what I've made and see if it fits into any kind of color palette. Yeah, that'll work.

My Parfait dreams may be realized this week. I'm going to buy the pattern today and I already have the fabric. The Peony pattern should be arriving in the mail any day now. I still haven't completely decided on fabric yet as I'm expecting some swatches soon.

I really need to make more shirts. I have a ton of dresses and skirts already.

This post was kind of random, my apologies. Saturday brain has taken over.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Busy busy busy.

Major triumph today: I installed my first invisible zipper! Yay me. I used this tutorial:

While my application wasn't flawless, it was really great for a first try. Now, I want to use invisible zippers in everything. I still have to sew the waist stay and hang the skirt for a few days before I hem it. For the hem, I plan on using horse hair braid. I want my skirt to be extra twirly.

I think I may once again change around a few things on my fall challenge list. I've become quite enamored with the Lisette patterns I have purchased over the last month (I have all but one). I have enough fabric in my stash to make everything. This is a first for me. The only fabric shopping I have left do is for next month's Clover sewlaong.

Back to work tomorrow. Boo. I like having a week off. Oh well. I have to do something to support my fabric habit.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Scratch another off the list.

I just finished New Look 6808 view B from my Fall Palette Challenge list. I used an old Gap halter dress that no longer fit me. It's navy blue with off white polka dots. The navy is so dark that it looks black. I think the fabric is rayon but the dress tag only says "100% cotton." It's not stiff but it's a bit heavier than lawn.

This smile is a result of delirium.

I'm not a fan of New Look patterns. The fit is always weird and the instructions leave much to be desired. I saw several nice versions of this shirt, so I figured I would give it a try. I also wanted to find a simple shirt that required minimal fabric since I planned to use my old dress.

This was the first time I didn't use the instructions. It's a fairly simple shirt (well view B is simple). I omitted the zipper as I could easily get the shirt on over my head. It's a bit roomy. I could probably go down a size but then I would have to use a zipper. I think having a zipper in shirt is weird. This shirt could easily be finished in a couple of hours.

Initially, I planned to line the shirt but I didn't have enough fabric. I also considered using bias tape but I didn't have any in the right color on hand and I had no desire to make my own. So, I ended up using the facing.

Facings suck.

It's the one thing that I don't like about this shirt. I think that I will change it eventually but I'm too tired to care about it right now.

I do plan on making the other versions of this shirt. I recommend using fabrics with stretch to avoid the zipper. 

Tomorrow I will begin work on my half-circle skirt.

Anyway, that is all for now. I'm going to bed.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quite fickle indeed.

I'm back from Chicago (a trip that will go down in infamy for a multitude of unpleasant reasons), with renewed vigor. I'm ready to get down to this fall palette challenge business. I did some fabric shopping while in Chicago---at a gloriously large, multi-floored warehouse full of unorganized fabric goodness and no a/c. I left with enough fabric for two shirts (or one shirt and one dress) and two skirts. This will change my fall palette colors and patterns for a third time.

Here is my new color palette (which includes navy polka dot--not pictured):

I already finished my first project: Simplicity 2246 View A. These patterns will round out the rest of my pattern list:

  • Simplicity 4236 View C (half circle skirt) in a tan wool blend
  • Wiksten Tulip skirt (my third one!) in golden mustard trigger<---I had no idea what this was until I found it at the fabric store. It's a little stiff and doesn't wrinkle.
  • New Look 6808 View E with sleeves from View B in eggplant cotton
  • New Look 6808 View B in navy polka dot cotton
  • BurdaStyle JJ blouse in coral cotton

I do plan on joining the Clover Pants Sewalong next month which will round out my fall sewing. I have some off-white and chocolate brown poplin left over so I may make a couple more shirts to throw into the mix.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Palette part deux.

So, I had a change of heart. I was quite inspired by Shabby Apple and strong desire to have a navy with white polka dot dress.

Click to enlarge

One down. Five to go....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I'm a fan of the Make This Look website. Where has this been all my life? More often I find myself looking at dresses and thinking, "I can make that." It's refreshing. Before I felt limited. Now if I want it and don't feel like spending the money, I can make it.

I had this epiphany when I took a look at Shabby Apple.I love the dresses on this site. Unless it was an ultra-special occasion, I would never spend more than $50 on a dress. So that pretty much eliminates any future purchases from Shabby Apple. But I can sew! Even though I still feel like an advanced beginner.

For instance, I just love the Pina Colada dress from Shabby Apple. I would love to buy it and wear it all the time. It is $96. That won't be happening any time soon.

But that won't stop me, for I have found a pattern that is very similar to this dress.

So similar, it's scary.

I would use sateen or poplin for the dress and add the piping and buttons. Sure, the pattern is out-of-print, but I found it on ebay for $3. I love ebay.

My fall palette may be changing as I've become quite addicted to all things shirt dress. I've made two of them so far.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Look at what I did.

So yah, I finished my Lisette Traveler dress (view A). It hasn't been washed or ironed since I finished it, as I finished it mere moments before these photos were taken.

with belt.

without belt but with tired smile

Actually, I finished this dress Sunday morning. Then an hour ago, I tried it on and decided that it was too baggy, even with the belt. So, I added a couple of vertical (or double point) darts to the back. It's still a bit roomy but at least the back has a bit more shape.

Overall, I like this pattern (Simplicity 2246). I've also made View C but I'm far too tired to model it for photos at the moment. I only made a couple of alterations: the aforementioned back darts and I omitted the patch pockets. I have a bit too much boobage for chest pockets.

Well, that's one thing off my Fall Palette Challenge list. Five more to go...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oh, Violet.

I finished my Colette Violet shirt a month ago. I meant to post pictures before, but I didn't like the buttons I used.

While I was working on my Traveler dress (View C), I realized that I could use covered buttons on my Violet shirt too. I don't know why that didn't occur to me before. The picture of the shirt on the Colette website has covered buttons. D'oh.

Anyway, I got all excited but then ran out of buttons to cover. Since I had so many other things to finish, my Violet shirt fell to the bottom of the finish pile.

But this is the first photo I took with the original buttons:

Eventually, I will finish changing the buttons and take another photo. The buttons in the photo are mother-of-pearl shell buttons. I used cotton shirting that I bought from The Common Thread.

This was my first shirt with buttons. I love how it came together. I thought the Peter Pan collar would be too precious and twee, but it looks great. The cotton shirting is nice and soft with a lovely sheen. I love this fabric so much that I bought more and made my Traveler dress (view A) out of it. I just finished that dress today.

I love Colette patterns. I really, really do. I plan on making the longer sleeve version of this shirt as soon as I find the right fabric. I think it would be beautiful in red or maybe cranberry.

Now, I need to finish Kris' messenger bag and I'll be all set for Chicago.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


So, here's my lovely little pattern board (courtesy of Microsoft Paint) for the Fall Palette Challenge:

I'm using this as my color palette:

This is all still in the planning stages. I'm going to stop by a couple fabric stores while in Chicago, so my fabric choices are subject to change. At first, I wasn't going to make the Colette Peony dress until I saw some mustard yellow gabardine at Hancock Fabrics. I fell instantly in love.

If all else fails, I do hope to have completed the Peony dress and Clover pants by the end of challenge. Those two are at the top of my list. I've already started on the Traveler dress (which I hope to finish tomorrow or Monday).

Well, that's all for now. Boardwalk Empire is on.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pattern decisions.

It's bed time, but I wanted to post a list of patterns. This way if I lose the post-it that I wrote my ideas on at least I'll have them somewhere more permanent.

So here goes:

I was waiting for Colette patterns to release their Fall 2011 patterns before I made my definitive list.  I love all three patterns, however, I'm leaving the Peony dress off the list for now. I have a crap-ton of dresses already. I need more separates in my wardrobe.

Also, I just started on my Traveler dress. It's great how it coincides perfectly with the Fall Palette Challenge.

I still haven't completely decided on my color palette as of yet, besides the sprucey green I'm using for my Traveler dress. My goal is to pick a color palette and make each item of clothing for each color of my palette (6 colors total). I've already decided to make the Pretty bag out of a navy/beige polka dot dress that I bought off ebay a while ago.

Looks navy and sprucey green are two of my colors so far. Berry and mustard might be tossed in there as well.

I'll be looking for fabric when I go to Chicago in a couple of weeks. I also have my Mood fabrics groupon so fabric for this project is covered. I don't have much of a stash at the moment but I have enough scraps to make something work if need be.

I will post more on these lovely patterns later.

Bag time.

In addition to 5 new projects for the Fall Palette Challenge (which I will post more on later), I want to make a new handbag. Handbags are my favorite things to sew. They're not nearly as stressful as clothing and I can make one in a day.

I've checked out a couple of patterns from I think sew. This time around I don't really need a huge bag. Medium-sized will do just fine. Although I've made a couple of pleated or gathered handbags already, I'm really liking this one. I think the polka dots and corsage sold me.

A messenger bag would also be nice. I like this pattern.

Last weekend we went to Ikea out of boredom. I bought some fabric, a first for me. I hadn't been to Ikea in so long that I had forgotten that they sold fabric by the yard.

Patricia, the only Ikea product name I can pronounce.

I like the fabric. I'm not quite sure which pattern would look best with it. I'm partial to the messenger bag, but I don't know. I have a couple already and I don't really use them all that much. Also, I don't know if it will coordinate with my fall wardrobe planning. We shall see.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Color palette! Yay!

I tried out this awesome site, COLOURlovers, to begin work on my fall color palette. Ten minutes later, my palette is complete.

Or, so I thought. Here's another to consider:

Yay! This palette challenge is fun so far ;)

What a coincidence!

So, yesterday I was posting away with color palettes and thinking deep thoughts about my fall was out of the blue really.

Then today I check out the Coletterie blog and they've just posted about the Fall Palette Challenge.

It's like they read my mind or I a had a vision. Tee hee.

Anywho, I think I might do it. I'm already making a dress with one of my colors. I may as well go ahead and participate.

This will be my first time participating in some group sewing thing. Usually, I avoid group ventures. But I think this might be fun. Maybe. We'll see.

Monday, August 29, 2011

More color palettes!

All are from Design Seeds:

I love this site! It's actually soothing to search through it.  A similar shade of green is in all them. This sprucey-seafoamy-light tealish color is my favorite shade of green. It's the green I'm using for my Lisette Traveler dress. I think this will be the foundation for my fall color palette.

Fall wardrobe time?

Lately, I've contemplated whether or not I should bother with planning a wardrobe for the fall/winter. It's not that I don't want to, it's just Texas never really gets that cold. I think I wore my coat 3 times last "winter" (winter in Austin is a joke). Most of the time, I can get away with wearing the same clothes all year around with the addition of a light jacket or sweater. There have been times when I've worn flip flops in December. I've worn shorts on Thanksgiving.

So, the thought of all the fantastic wools, plaids and other staples of a cooler-weather wardrobe just make me sad instead of giddy. What's the point?


I'm going to do it anyway, or at the very least, make a valiant attempt. Right now, I'm perusing color palettes courtesy of Design Seeds.  I like this one:

and this one:

And even though this one looks more like spring, I just had to add it. I love the colors.

I think for the fall, I'll kept my pattern selections simple and manageable. I  just want about 6 pieces (dress, skirt, light jacket/blazer, two shirts and coordinating handbag). That seems simple enough. I've never made a jacket before. I think that will be the most challenging aspect of this whole wardrobe experiment.

But first things first. I have Kris' messenger bag all cut and ready to be sewn. I'm also going to try and squeeze in Simplicity 2246 view A (made with the same lovely green shirting that I used for my Colette Violet) before my Chicago trip in two weeks. After seeing Rachel McAdams walk around Paris in shirtdresses (I saw Midnight in Paris last weekend), I decided that I HAD TO HAVE ONE.

Now to get back to work...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sis Boom Jamie

Let me just say, my very first zipper application was a pleasant experience thanks largely to the Sis Boom Jamie pattern.

You can do it!
I apologize for my pictures being sub par. I took them with my camera phone. I've worn this dress twice (or three times) since I finished two months ago. Yet I'm never close enough to a camera to take a decent photo.

Zippers (regular not invisible---haven't learned that technique yet) and buttonholes were once causes of great sewing anxiety for me. They both seemed terribly complicated and I didn't want to devote the time and energy to learn how to do it. Also, most of the online tutorials that I read weren't exactly clear. I was frustrated and annoyed, so I avoided both of these.

But then I saw the Jamie dress, courtesy of the sew a long (flickr group) hosted by Sew Sweetness a few months back. I was quite enamored with the pattern. The dress was beyond cute and looked fairly simple---except for the zipper. That kept me at bay for a while.

As my luck would have it, I came across some out-of-print Alexander Henry fabric that would be perfect for the Jamie dress.

Alexander Henry Brooke Poppies in Pink

You may recognize it as the same fabric I used for my Colette Sorbetto but in the pink colorway. I love this fabric.

With this fabric in hand, I sucked up my fear of the zipper and downloaded the pattern.

I love the Sis Boom Jamie pattern. It has photos--color photos--of all the steps. It's clear. It's simple to follow. I didn't tear my hair out or cry. I was beyond impressed.

According to the instructions, I had to install the zipper using a glue stick. That was ingenious. Sure, some sewing purists would scoff at that notion, but I didn't want my first zipper experience to be a time-consuming pain in the balls. I do appreciate a good shortcut. Now, of course if I were making a dress out of silk or something delicate and/or expensive, then I wouldn't dare use a glue stick. But on cotton poplin or quilting cotton---hell yeah.

The dress turned out beautifully (psst, the glue washes out with just a spritz of Resolve). I love it. I just want to prance and twirl around in it for all time.

Ignore my bathroom.
It's a little short on me due to the fact that I mis-measured the size of my rectangle for the skirt. I can't really bend too far over but I do have to watch for the occasional breeze. I did buy a cute coral-colored cardigan to wear to make it work-appropriate.

This is one my favorite dresses. I've already made another one in Lecien lawn, but I have yet to hem it.

Next, I want to make the Sis Boom Rebecca shift dress. I already have the fabric in my stash.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Three things.

While I'm impatiently awaiting the arrival of my buttons for my Simplicity 2246 (view C); I've started work on my new sewing project: Simplicity 2365 (view D).

I love this shirt so far. I'm using some cotton (poplin, I believe) that I found in the discount section of Hancock Fabrics. It's off white---not quite cream--more like winter white with a bit of stretch. I love white shirts.

The pattern itself has been good to work with so far. The instructions aren't the clearest in the world, but they aren't too confusing. The shirt comes together rather quickly. At the moment, I'm working on the band/collar. All I have left are the sleeves and buttons.

Next, I purchased my first Groupon! It's a $30 groupon (I only paid $15 for it) to Mood Fabrics. I have no idea what I plan to use it for but it doesn't expire for a year, so I have plenty of time to decide.

Finally, I've found a "new" (well out-of-print) wrap dress pattern, whose skirt is eerily similar to that of the Colette Crepe. It's McCall's 5314, a wrap dress with a full skirt:

I'm quite enamored with View B. I like that the bodice has princess seams and set-in sleeves. It's perfect. I plan on buying this pattern next month--as I've already blown through my sewing budget for this month. I may end up using my Mood Fabrics groupon for this dress. We'll see. I have a swatch of some burgandy poplin (I ordered this swatch months ago) that would be perfect. I need some berry--wine--cranberry--redish dresses and shirts in my wardrobe.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Making progress.

It's so far, so good on the Simplicity 2246 shirtwaist dress. All I have to do now are buttonholes/buttons:

Not too shabby.

I used brown stretch poplin (the color is called "potting soil") from Joann. It wasn't my first choice, but I'm on a budget. I also had a 40% off coupon. I really wanted a brown dress. I'm a big fan of earth tones.

The pattern is great. I cut a size 18 with no alterations except adding pockets. After trying on the dress, I realized that I should have just made the bodice a 16 and graded to an 18 for the rest of the dress. The shoulders and bust area are a wee bit baggy. However, I do think it will look better with buttons.

Speaking of buttons, I almost had another meltdown last night at Joann. This dress requires ten 1/2" buttons. This dress is also a weird shade of brown (the photo makes it look normal) thus making it damn near impossible to find matching buttons. I like things to match. That's just how I am.

I wasn't looking for the exact same shade of brown for the buttons, but I wanted something close or at the very least, coordinating. I *finally* found some buttons, but only 8 of them. Only 8. I walked up and down that aisle for 15 minutes just to make sure I didn't overlook them. Damn you Joann. Damn you.

I briefly considered buying unfinished wood buttons and painting them to match but quickly came to my senses. That's just obsessive crazy talk.

Once I calmed down, I realized that fabric covered buttons would be my best bet. I found some online for cheap, now I have to wait for the next few days for their arrival.

Other than that, the dress was easy to put to together. The instructions were great (albeit a few typos here and there). Overall, I like it. I will probably make this dress again.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm calm now.

So, after my previous Colette Crepe meltdown, I decided to put that pattern aside for now.

Sometimes, it's better to do that rather than plow ahead on a project that you're not too sure about anymore.

Instead, I've decided to start work on a shirtwaist dress. Yes, that means I finally decided on a pattern: Simplicity 2246: the Lisette Traveler dress.

I'm making View C, the shirtwaist dress. So far, so good. The measurements on size chart are accurate. The ease isn't so much that I have to go down 3 sizes. The instructions aren't baffling. I really like this pattern so far. I do plan on adding pockets and making a matching belt.

I went ahead and purchased two more Lisette patterns (the Portfolio 2245 and the Continental 2059) and 4 regular Simplicity patterns on Friday as Hobby Lobby was having a 99 cent sale.

Looks like I have enough patterns to keep me busy well into next year.

I want to finish this dress, Kris' messenger bag and perhaps a shirt before my Chicago trip next month. I think I can do it without losing my mind. But, we'll see.

Monday, August 8, 2011


So, I was all ready to start on my Colette Crepe. I washed and ironed my fabric. I gave my muslin a final try-on to make sure everything was as it should be. I got out all my pattern pieces and started placing them on the fabric...that's when I discovered that I lost a pattern piece. It's piece H, the back sleeve facing. It's gone. Poof! Disappeared.


This "beginner" pattern is becoming more trouble than it's worth. I've had the pattern since January and I've obsessed about it ever since. I couldn't decide on fabric until 2 weeks ago. I made the muslin but I changed the waist darts 4 times before I was satisfied with the fit. I compared my muslin to all the other muslins in the Colette Patterns flickr group. I read all of Gertie's Sew-Along multiple times, agonizing over all the adjustments that I would have to make. Honestly, there weren't really many adjustments to make at all, but that didn't stop me from over-analyzing.


I could just line the bodice---which isn't a bad idea considering how much I loathe facings. But that could complicate things as I like following pattern instructons if it's my first time using the pattern.

Perhaps piece H will show up. At this point, I don't know if I want it to show up. I've lost interest in this dress.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Junia bag

I just finished my ithinksew Junia bag and matching Caroline clutch!

I am quite pleased.

The Junia pattern is straightforward and easy to follow. The pattern comes with two sizes. I made the smaller of the two. I like that the gusset comes to a point at the sides. This little detail takes a step above a regular tote bag. I used nylon purse straps that I bought from Joann, but they are also available online here. Initially I wanted to use leather handles but my fabric spending was already out of hand so I had to take it down a notch. The straps are lovely and were only $3.99 (on sale).

I used Pellon Craft fuse for the interfacing. It gets the job done. I'd like to try a woven interfacing one of these days as I've read that it wrinkles less.

For my fabric I chose cotton canvas (Ojai in taupe) by Alexander Henry. Clearly, I'm a fan. It's hard to find now (of course), but Etsy never lets me down. I used Kona cotton (in stone) for the lining.

Now, I'm sick of making bags. This is my third one in a week (well fifth if you count both clutches). I still have to make Kris' messenger bag, however, I'm going to take a break to start work on my Colette Crepe. I've just finished the muslin and I found the almost perfect brown poplin for it. Originally, I wanted some rich chocolate brown poplin from Mood Fabrics, alas I'm on a budget. If this dress was less than 5 yards of fabric, then it wouldn't be a big deal. Oh well. Joann had brown poplin and I had a 40% off coupon. That works for me.

I should probably clean my sewing area but after all this bag sewing; I'm in desperate need of a nap.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Birthday bags!

My sisters' birthday is August 28. They aren't twins (but are eerily similar). There's a four year age gap. Anywho, I decided the most cost-effective route for presents this year would be to make handbags for both of them. I bought the sewer friendly combo pattern (no written instructions, just photos) for the Lindsay and Melanie bags. It's an excellent deal. My middle sister picked out the Lindsay pattern. Since my youngest sister didn't really care which pattern I used as long as she got something, I would make the Melanie bag for her.

The Melanie bag is HUGE. I printed out the pattern and it looks more like an overnight bag. If my sister traveled, then it would be perfect. Of course the dimensions are clearly printed on the pattern, but sometimes the size just doesn't register until you see it.  This simply would not do.

I went ahead and made the Lindsay bag for my middle sister. Another great thing about ithinksew is that you get 5 free patterns when you purchase one. So I made the Caroline clutch for her as well. I haven't finished the one for my youngest sister yet. It takes 20 minutes to make, maybe even less.

Lindsey bag and Caroline clutch

Recognize the fabric? I used Yoko by Alexander Henry and black Kona cotton. I used white Kona cotton for the body of the clutch.

Since I decided against making the Melanie bag, I needed another option. Then I remembered that I already cut out the pocket tote by Jen Giddens (in black duck cloth) a few months ago. I had some Amy Butler fabric left over (Temple Tulips in Azure) to use for the lining. I like this pattern as well. It was my first time using one of Jen Gidden's sewing patterns.

I like how both of these bags turned out. I haven't made a bag since April. Now I'm working on my Chicago bag. Everything is cut out and interfacing applied---I will start sewing tomorrow.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lola Goes Shopping

Lola Goes to Work

a better photo

 So, this is my Lola Goes Shopping bag by Izzy & Ivy Designs. I used Blakely in Smoke and Poppybox in Lilac, both by Alexander Henry. It seems as if that's the only designer that I use---yeah, pretty much.

I made this bag back in April, a week before my trip to Seattle. It really wasn't that complicated just a wee bit time consuming. The bias binding took forever to finish. It was also my first time using bias binding so there's a few mistakes here and there, but overall the bag is great. It's large enough to carry all of my stuff.

I like my bags to be sturdy, so I followed the pattern instructions and used canvas and interfacing. The canvas helps the bag keep its shape without feeling too heavy or bulky. I've also tossed this bag into the washing machine--twice--and it's held up both times. Not too shabby.

Maybe one day I'll make this bag again. Of course I have to find the right combination of fabrics. I lucked out with the fabric I did use as both of them are out-of-print (of course).

Now, I'm off to make sleeves for Sorbetto #3 and to start work on the Junia bag. I just ordered some Nani Iro Molly cloth from Hart's Fabrics (for only $10.99 a yard---I thought it was a typo since everything else by Nani Iro is $20+ a yard). This may become Sorbetto #4 if the sleeves for #3 work out. We'll see.

So many sewing projects. Not enough time and money to finish them all.
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