Monday, November 26, 2012

Ideas and inspiration.

I love it when I see a dress that I like and I realize that I could make something similar.

I really love it when I find a pattern that is so close to the original that minimal effort on my part would be required to make my dream a reality.

The Jada dress by Kate Spade is simple, yet classy. I would have loved to own this dress but it's price tag of $358 (now on sale for $161) put it just out of my reach.

Jada dress by Kate Spade

Princess seams = easy to adjust

Exposed zipper and elbow length sleeves = win

I've thought about this dress for the past couple of months. Initially, I thought that Vogue 8766 View F would be a good choice. The bodice had darts rather than princess seams. The sleeve caps also have darts.

Vogue 8766 view F

This didn't seem like a negative until I made the dress (I will post photos eventually). I already have broad shoulders. Puffiness (gathered or darted) on my shoulders was not, nor will ever be, a good look for me. After I finished the dress, I decided that it wouldn't be a good fit for any future Jada dress knockoffs.

I had just about given up hope (and started saving money), when I came across this lovely offering from McCall's:

McCall's 6599

It's one of those Fashion Star patterns. I had overlooked it until this morning. I was taking advantage of a McCall's pattern sale when I came across it. It's perfect, don't you think? The waist sits a bit lower, but I have to shorten the waist on all of my clothing, so it's not a big deal. I love that it has a longer sleeve option. I won't have to bother with any pesky sleeve adjustments other than hacking off some length.

Exposed zippers are all the rage right now. I'm still on fence. Although I'd love to incorporate some more details in my makes, I just don't know if it would be worth the effort. More importantly, I don't know if I really like exposed zippers. 

The Kate Spade dress is made of ponte. I have yet to find a color of ponte that I like. I have some black pique that would work. My wardrobe is sorely lacking in the little black dress department. My Colette Licorice dress from last year does not count. I have no desire to wear that dress ever again.

 Hmm. I will investigate this exposed zipper trend a bit more before I decide against it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I was born a unicorn.

Last night's Halloween party was awesome. I'm glad that I put forth the effort in making a great costume. I was not so sure it would work out. This is how I looked at 3 am on Saturday morning:

A felt dress. Not the best idea.
I didn't necessarily have a vision when I started work on my unicorn costume. I figured that I would make it look like one of these costumes and hope for the best:

I used the Anda dress pattern from Burdastyle. It looks like a shack using regular fabric, it was even more shack-like when made with plush felt. I've made the Anda dress before. I should have left it alone. Good thing that I already purchased Simplicity 4015 and had cut view A out of some satin that my sister had given me.

Here's what I ended up with (which turned out great in my opinion):


I used the bodice and made myself a dirndl skirt. The skirt included with the pattern was insanely too short. I'm 5'8" and the original skirt barely covered my ass.  Beware that the bodice on this pattern has about four inches of ease. I would recommend going by the finished measurements to get a good fit or you may end up swimming in it.

I avoided finishing any seams and I barely ironed it. I started this dress around 1 pm yesterday and my costume was complete by 6 pm. The bodice is lined with cheap poly/cotton broadcloth. I used a regular zipper instead of my usual invisible zipper. Invisible zippers are easier. I used satin quilt binding for the hem. My arm cuffs and boot covers (I used this tutorial for the boots) were made with plush felt.

The wig I purchased from ebay, smelled like bug spray. It was also completely unflattering to my face shape. I had a blue wig in storage (it was my sister's back in high school), so I cut off the horn and ears and hot glued them to the blue wig.

For my tail (of which I don't have a photo), I used four marabou feather boas purchased from Hancock Fabrics.

Although I had lot of fun wearing my costume, I hated making it. For me, it seems like a waste of time to make something that I will only wear once. I feel like it takes time away from more important projects.  Oh well. I shouldn't complain as my efforts did pay off in the end. I'm just glad Halloween is only once a year.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I have Halloween plans. I have a costume idea. A great costume idea. It was inspired by this post from Beau Baby and this photo:

Which led me to Google "My Little Pony" costumes and another photo:

I saw a unicorn wig via Google image search and looked for one on ebay. It resulted in this purchase:

Available on ebay in different colors

This reminded me of one of my favorite Youtube videos: Planet Unicorn

I have 4 yards of white satin. I have ordered feather boas for my tail. Let's do this!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sewaholic Cambie

So, last month I finished my Sewaholic Cambie dress. I had planned on taking photos to accompany my post/pattern review, but I never got around to taking more photos. Oh well.

Anyway, here's my pattern review:

Fabric: I used some cotton lawn I found on Etsy. The fabric is "Sofia" by Robert Kaufman. It's OOP and I had been looking for this particular print for about a year before I came across it on Etsy.

I love this fabric. I love the colors. I'm a sucker for floral prints. However, with floral prints you always run into a problem: pattern placement. My dilemma with this fabric was figuring out how to place the bodice without having the flowers right over my boobs.

I used poly/cotton batiste for the lining. I should really invest in a bolt of this stuff since I always use it for lining. I also added some crocheted lace to the lining hem.

Pattern and Instructions: This was my first time using a Sewaholic pattern. I've stayed away from them in the past because they are designed for pear shapes. I'm not a pear. I'm more of a rectangle. I had no desire to figure out the pattern alterations needed to make one of these patterns work. However, when I bought this fabric I knew I wanted to make a dress. A commenter on a previous post suggested the Cambie pattern and I decided to give it a go. 

The pattern was well drafted and the instructions were clear. I would have been a bit confused when it came to attaching the lining had it not been for the tutorial on the Sewaholic blog. This tutorial was very, very helpful. Now I attach all my linings this way.

Sizing and Alterations: As previously stated, I'm not pear-shaped. My shoulders are fairly broad as well. Also, I had no idea how the sizing worked for this pattern. My measurements fell in between sizes so I figured I would make a muslin of the larger size and go from there. I made view B with the gathered skirt. The gathered skirt would keep me from having to make a lot of hip alterations.

I shortened the bodice by one inch. It could stand to be shortened another 3/8" - 1/2". I pinched off a dart on the neckline to prevent some gaping. I didn't make any other alterations.

Conclusion: I would make this pattern again, probably view A with the a-line skirt. I'm very happy with the results. I bought the Renfrew top to try it out. Sewaholic patterns are awesome.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hard at work.

The tiny pattern weights that I purchased at Hobby Lobby are worthless.

My husband and I never buy canned goods because we hardly ever cook.

I'm cutting out the lining (bemberg!) for my pencil skirt (from Gertie's new book, of course) and using pins simply will not do.

I looked around our apartment for something to use as pattern weights.

Pimm's is my favorite

I guess these will have to do for now ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


One of my sewing goals for this year is to make a jacket. Last year, I caught "coat fever" but it was quickly cooled when I realized how much work a coat would require.

So, nix to the coat. Yes to the jacket.

It's rarely cold here in central Texas. There are some nippy days in January but for most of the cooler weather, a light jacket is all that is required. Of course there are hipsters and those who perpetually suffer for fashion that will don a coat when the temps dip below 70 degrees. I am not one of those people.

Ideally, I would love to make my own trench coat. I always catch hell trying to find jackets and coats that fit my shoulders with sleeves long enough to make it to my wrist. I bought a trench coat last year from Target. It was great with the one exception being the shoulders. The coat was not designed for anyone with broad shoulders. I even went up a size. That only helped a little. I got it on clearance for $25, so I overlooked the shoulder problem.

Trench coats, just like every other coat pattern I've come across, are a bit time consuming and complicated. Also, I fail to see the point in making something that I will only wear a couple of times during one month of the year.

So, I lucked up on this jacket pattern from McCall's. It looks like a trench coat minus the lining and all the details that would make it an actual trench coat.

McCall's 6517 View D

I already own two khaki blazers and the aforementioned khaki trench coat. My fall wardrobe needs a bit of color. I think this jacket would look excellent in navy twill or better still, burgundy twill...just like this coat from Banana Republic:

Belted Cotton Trench

McCall's 6517 is such a simple pattern (I read through the instructions already) that I could add some details without complicating things. Perhaps I could add buttons down the front. As is, the jacket has no closures except for the tie belt.

The fabric hunt begins now. I won't actually start work on it until next month. I probably won't wear it outdoors until late December.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sewaholic Cambie: First Look

I'm too tired to write a formal post about this lovely dress. That will come later. For now, here are some pictures:

This was my first time sewing a Sewaholic pattern. I am quite pleased with the result. There were no real fitting issues despite this pattern being designed for pear shapes and I am the opposite of pear.

That's all for now. More info when I've had some rest.

Friday, August 10, 2012

So, this is love.

I've just fallen in love with a pattern:

Nicola - Victory Patterns

I've visited the Victory Patterns site before but nothing interested me.  I saw the above dress and now it's on my sewing list. An interesting wrap dress? Sign me up.

It will have to wait for a bit while I finish my Sewaholic Cambie dress. Despite me being the polar opposite of pear shape, the fit is pretty good. I'm working on View B with the gathered skirt. This keeps me from having to make any serious hip adjustments, an adjustment that I've never had to make before.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Notes on sewing

Ever since I was 11 years old, I've had some form of a diary or journal. Honestly, I was obsessed with blank notebooks. Most of them contained scribbles and notes about all sorts of random things. This love of scribbling in blank books led me to my current obsession: the sewing notebook.

Sure, I could take photos of patterns and store them in my phone for reference. I could just scribble a grocery-type list of notions for when I visit Jo-ann or Hancock Fabrics. I tried both of these methods. I ended up with an alarming amount of post-its stuck to the bottom of my purse.

I needed something a bit more tangible and travel-friendly, with room for swatches. I stopped by Half Price books and here's what $5 got me:


I love having a sewing notebook. I'm able to write down ideas whenever inspiration strikes. I also plan future projects:


I printed out line drawings from pattern websites and wrote down all the fabric requirements. This was really helpful when I shopped in the Garment District back in May.

It's also handy for things like button guides. Math isn't my forte, so trying to figure how many inches equals 2 cm was a pain in the ass. With my button size conversion chart, I can figure it all out with relative ease:

Yes, I do need a chart this basic.

And there's even a pocket in the back for swatches:


Moleskine notebooks work as well. I was being cheap the day I bought this notebook. It serves it's purpose and keeps me organized. I'd be lost without it.

So, how do you keep your sewing notes and ideas organized?

Monday, July 30, 2012

This shirt dress thing is getting out of hand.

My current shirt dress obsession:

Land's End Woven Pique Shirt dress

Some times I wish I could just buy the things that I want instead of obsessing over how to create them myself. This dress is sooo pretty. It's $90. I find that ridiculous. It's just a cotton shirt dress. It's not worth $90. Sorry, it's not. I've ordered dresses from Land's End before and was unimpressed with the quality for the money spent.

Instead of trying to budget $90 for a dress, I'm going to make my own. Deciding on a shirt dress pattern is the least of my concern at the moment. To achieve this look, I would combine the bodice of Vogue 8829 with the skirt (shortened, of course) from McCall's 5801.

Vogue 8829 (bodice) + McCall's 5801 (skirt)

Finding just the right fabric is my problem.  I want a shade of plum-meets-eggplant-meets-aubergine in poplin, or pique or heck, even broadcloth. Mood Fabrics has an eggplant poplin that may work. I already have a swatch and the price is right ($10 a yard).

Cotton Poplin from Mood Fabrics

It should be easy, right? I don't know if I like this shade of eggplant. The fabric has a sheen to it and could make the dress too dressy to wear to my super-casual job. Also, the fabric is really stretchy. I'd have to take extra steps (fusible stay tape) to tame it.  Hmm. I'll keep looking. We'll see how this goes.

In other news, I've acquired this beautiful cotton lawn and I have no idea what to do with it:

Robert Kaufman "Sofia"

Suggestions? And no mention of maxi dresses. They make me look pregnant. That's not the look I'm going for.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I want to make this dress.

I have fallen in love with a vintage dress pattern.

Vogue 9019

I love View B with the short sleeves. I found the pattern on Etsy, but of course neither of the patterns I found were close to my size. I'm not adept at pattern grading. To be honest, I don't possess the patience necessary to grade a vintage pattern. I have broad shoulders and a wide waist. Vintage patterns were not designed for my rectangular body type. Just thinking of all the possible fit alterations including pattern grading makes me nauseous.  Perhaps one day I will feel differently. Today, not so much.

Anywho, the thought of combining a couple of patterns I already own crossed my mind.

I have this out-of-print New Look pattern that I could use for the collar piece (View D):

New Look 6831

That part was easy enough. Trying to find the right dress is proving to be much more difficult ('cause I'm picky).  The first dress that comes to mind is one from Simplicity:

Simplicity 1810

I like that it already has pleats at the shoulder, which can easily be changed into gathers to mimic the Vogue pattern. The dress has a bit more shape and is really cute (seen here and here). I like it but then I don't. I'm not quite sure why.

Another idea is Simplicity 1796:

Simplicity 1796

Finally, Salme patterns has a dress pattern that could work:

Pussy Bow Dress

I'm still on the fence about the whole thing. I'll continue my pattern research, perhaps I'll find something closer to the vintage pattern. Perhaps I'll just break down and grade the vintage pattern. Nah. I'll keep looking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

You wanna know what annoys me...

...discovering the new Vogue Patterns five hours after placing an order for old Vogue patterns.

I guess I'll be out another $4 for shipping because I'm about to place another order. I usually wait for pattern sales at Hancock Fabrics or Joann. Last time the new patterns came out, I spent a week calling around to see if they were in stock. I'm guessing the employees at the Austin area Hancock Fabrics or Joann don't keep up with new releases. "But our pattern numbers only go up to..." Yes, I know that. These are new. That's why I asked if you had the new ones. Sigh. By the time they did show up, the pattern sale was over. There's no way I'll pay full price for a pattern if I know I can get it for less than $5.

This time around I refuse to perform the "do you have the new patterns?" dance.

There are only two patterns that I'm excited about. Both are regular wardrobe staples that most people won't really get excited about: a wrap shirt and another shirt dress. However, I have yet to find a satisfactory wrap shirt pattern (read: one that doesn't require a full bust adjustment) until now.

Vogue 8833

This wrap shirt patterns come with separate pieces for different cup sizes. I nearly wept with joy. I am a women who enjoys the little things in life. I love all things wrap.

Here, we have yet another shirt dress. I like that the skirt is flared. I'm not a fan of straight skirts since they do absolutely nothing for my rectangular figure. I've also grown tired of pleated and gathered skirts. Sometimes I need something a touch more modern and slightly less 1950s.

Vogue 8829

The other new Vogue patterns don't really interest me much. As usual there are some that make me scratch my head. Like this one:

Vogue 8826

Very 70s indeed. It looks almost wearable if you're a fan of the 70s. I then scrolled down the page and took a look at the line drawing. It looked eerily similar to a choir robe.

Vogue 8826: Holy Vogue? Choir chic?

 I can safely say that I won't be sewing up this pattern any time soon.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Simplicity 2215

I actually attempted this dress back in February but it it didn't work out too well. At the time, I didn't know that I should shorten the waist on most patterns. The original dress ended up in my UFO basket and I had no intention of ever finishing it. I honestly don't know why I picked it up and decided to give this pattern a second chance. However, I decided to use some cotton shirting I picked up at Metro Textiles during my NYC trip. You can buy the same fabric at Gorgeous Fabrics.


Aside from shortening the waist 3/8", I eliminated the side zip and used seven 1/2" buttons instead of four 7/8'" buttons. Also, the dress is fully lined in cotton/poly batiste. I made a hem facing as the dress was already short. Hem facings are great and super easy.

Simplicity 2215: Not too shabby.

I may make this again, probably in gabardine for the fall.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

All about shirt dresses

Just as with wrap dresses, I often find myself obsessing over the perfect shirt dress. If I could get away with it, my entire wardrobe would consist of shirt dresses, wrap dresses and Wiksten Tovas. I've yet to complete a wrap dress. Not for lack of trying; my Colette Crepe is in my UFO basket waiting for me to acknowledge it once more.

I've just had better luck with the shirt dress. I have four in my closet at the moment with a fifth one waiting for a hem. Yet I want more. Many, many more. I find myself overwhelmed (as always) by my choices.

On my sewing table I have this lovely shirt dress offering from Simplicity/Cynthia Rowley:


It's a bit boxy but I managed to make it look cute. I'm quite proud of this one and I may actually photograph it and show it to you. Yes, I know I always promise photos and never deliver. I've felt a bit camera-shy for the last few months. But I digress. On to the next shirt dress.

I've mentioned McCall's 5801 before. It's one of my favorite dresses. It's out-of-print but still available on the McCall's website. It comes with pattern pieces for different cup sizes. A definite win for me.

The Lisette Traveler dress (Simplicity 2246) is one of my favorite patterns. I have View A cut out and ready to sew. I'm using my recent Liberty Lawn acquisition to make it happen.

However, before I sew it, I want to make another View C. This time I want to remove the collar completely so that it looks more like another shirt dress that I adore: New Look 6587.


This pattern hasn't garnered many raving reviews. Fitting seems to be the biggest issue. I have no desire to fiddle with a pattern that I already know will be difficult. Instead, I want to combine what I love about this dress (the neckline of View E) with a dress that I know already fits (Simplicity 2246 View C). I'll start work on my muslin sometime this week. I hope that it works out.

Of course there are more shirt dress patterns out there. I've barely scratched the surface. I'll continue this time. Perhaps then I'll have some photos to post.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Start. Start. Quit. Start something else.

I've been in a bit of a sewing funk lately.

I find myself really enthusiastic about planning a project. In fact, my project notebook is full of fabric swatches and ideas just waiting for their chance to become reality.

As soon as I start cutting the fabric, I begin to lose interest. I try to maintain it by taking a break and coming back later but that hasn't really worked. I'm not sure why I'm having such a tough time.

Instead of trying out new patterns, I decided to use patterns that I've sewn before. I did a bit a tweaking but nothing major as far as alterations go, in the hopes that an "easy" project will get me motivated. I decided to go with the Lisette Traveler dress. It's simple, the fit is nice and I should be able to finish it in a reasonable amount of time.

This has not been the case. I cut it out and immediately lost interest in sewing it. In fact, I used some of my Liberty Tana lawn. And It's not happening. My UFO pile is growing steadily each week.

I think I may be a bit overwhelmed. I have so.many.ideas. that I will never have enough time or money to complete them. It doesn't help that I constantly compare my sewing efforts with every sewing blog in the blogosphere. I long to make something simple and demure and photographed beautifully with instagram.


My current project is my fourth Wiksten Tova in this Lecien lawn:


All I have left are the sleeves and collar. I could have finished it tonight. But no, it was not to be. I just felt so blah.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

Friday, June 15, 2012

2-in-1 Sewalong...Yay!

Hooray for Sewalongs! Or is it Sew-A-long?

No matter, I quite excited about this one. This time I will actually participate. I mean it this time. For real.

The sewalong will be centered around Simplicity 1880, a Project Runway inspired pattern. The shirt dress dress seems more inspired by Kate Middleton, but that's beside the point.

Simplicity 1880

Simplicity 1880

I need a wrap dress in my life. I've made the Colette Crepe, which I will blog about eventually, but it's not quite what I have in mind when I think of wrap dress. Simplicity 1880 is closer to what I want. It's more of a faux-wrap but I can live with that.

I've had some fabric in my stash (5 yard of it) for about a year now that I wanted to use for a wrap dress. It's called Firenze by Alexander Henry, an out-of-print poplin (and it's actually poplin not quilting weight) from the Fashionista collection. You can buy some here. I think this would be perfect for this dress.


The photo is kind of dark, but it's the only one I could find that shows the entire pattern.

I did consider making the shirt dress but I realized that I've already made four shirt dresses. The sewalong is hosted by Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch. I'm quite a fan of her blog and I'm really excited that she chose this pattern. The pattern has been in my stash for a couple of months now. Currently, I'm working on a second Hazel dress that I should finish by Sunday just in time to start on the sewalong on Monday.

I know that I say this in every post, but I seriously need to start posting pictures.
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