Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer Sewing

So I'm way behind in blogging my latest creations, but I have two to share that I'm super happy with!  The first is the Willow dress from Grainline Studios.  I bought the pattern right when it came out, but  then I managed to lose it in a closet for about a month (oops!).  I made up the tank version first, but haven't taken any pictures yet.  I did want to try the dress though, and I had the perfect fabric for it, which was a linen/cotton blend I had picked up at Joann's.

For my initial tank version, I sewed it up exactly like the pattern (picture below on left), with the high round neckline.  For the dress version though, I wanted to change things up a bit, and add a deep v to both the front and back of the neckline, like my inspiration on the right below.  I also wanted to eliminate the fold-over at the low waist, as it would hit at a not-so-flattering spot on me, and probably wouldn't even show up really with the busy print.  If you're extra observant, you may notice that I have raised the dart up in the picture above, as it hit a little low on my first version.  It didn't really work though, so I have to research a bit on how to fix that problem.  It's a common one I have, being on the petite/smaller-boobed side of things.


I winged the neckline adjustment, and didn't account for the width of the bias tape finish properly, so I ended up doing exposed bias tape instead of on the inside, like the pattern calls for, because it would have been super bulky otherwise.  I would have preferred it inside, but I don't think it looks bad. 

As far as a pattern goes, it is a quick sew and a great basic design, there are definitely more in my future!  Without further ado, my Willow dress:

My second project is also visible in the above photos - my espadrille sandals!  I had taught some women how to make espadrille shoes earlier this summer, but I wasn't happy with my sample version.  Mostly this was due to me ordering a size too small, and they just didn't quite fit properly.  My solution was to remake them as sandals, and take advantage of the smaller fabric requirement to use up some of my Thai silk, leftover from a throw pillow I made earlier this year.

Again, this was very much a wing-it project, and I made it all up as I went.  I initially thought about finding buckles and doing a more professional closure, but my impatience won out and I just went for ankle straps that tied.  The biggest change was that I intended to double up the ankle straps, but for some reason forgot I needed to then cut 8 pieces instead of 4.  I only had enough fabric for four, and there was no way I was going to be able to do a skinny hem on those bad boys (fray city), so I took advantage of the frayiness and just sewed a double line close to the edge and frayed up to my sewn line.  I really like the way it looks, and think it would have been too thick to double-up anyway.  There are a few things I might adjust eventually (the front piece is maybe a touch loose, and the angle the ankle-straps are attached at is not big enough), but I'm really pleased with them.  Unfortunately, their first trip out I managed to step in both a giant wad of gum and dog poop, but that's just part of breaking them in, right?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Philly Photo Walk

A little bit different than my posts of late, but I wanted to share a fun experience I had yesterday, which was a photo walk through Philly, which was a summer mini course put on by my church, Liberti Collingswood.  It ended up just being four of us, and we started in Center City, meandered through Society Hill and ended up at one of my favorite spots, Spruce Street Harbor Park.  Without further ado, here is my walk!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

To capsule or not to capsule....

So I've been dancing around the idea of doing a capsule wardrobe for a few years now, and I think I might finally be ready to take the plunge.  The reason for this is two-fold:

  • I've gotten rid of most of my clothes at this point, so I don't have a lot to work with, and might as well formalize it, and
  • we're replacing our steam heat system in a few weeks with forced air heat and AC, which means I lose part of my closet.  Might as well be smart about it and look on the bright side as it forcing me to think through this whole wardrobe thing intelligently!
I haven't gone shopping in several months, but recently have been trying to fill some holes in my wardrobe in preparation for summer.  I know, I know, I should figure out what exactly my capsule wardrobe should be before buying anything, but I didn't think it through in time. :)  I've purchased a few pairs of floaty rayon shorts, which are super comfy, a little dressy looking, and work well with my more casual work from home time.  

A lot of capsule wardrobe instructions include selecting outfit silhouettes and then filling in pieces from there, but I personally like to select a few key pieces and then make as many outfits as possible.  It's probably takes longer and is a little more organic of a method, but I think it works better for me.  I've pulled together 4 sample outfits using one of the pairs of shorts I got, along with items already in my closet:

The first two are definitely on the casual side of the spectrum, just using simple tees, but the second two can be dressed up for weekends out and about with jewelry and other accessories.  As I work through my capsule wardrobe, I definitely want to add in some color, so there are options for colorful shirts, but I haven't gotten around to pulling in some color yet.

What do you think of this method of capsule creation?  Does it make sense, or am I making life too hard?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Going for the nativity shepherd look....

So my Mom has informed me it's been a while since I posted, and Mother knows best, so here I am! :)  I've discovered how much simpler it is to just post a photo to Instagram and not bother with the whole blog thing, but it's hard to get all the details in.  I've been cleaning up my sewing room lately, and trying to wrap up the random half-finished projects scattered around.

This robe is one of those, in that I cut it out maybe a year or so ago, and it sat there gathering dust since then.  The fabric is an unidentified clearance upholstery fabric from JoAnn's, with a nice texture, but it frays like no other.  The pattern is intended for a lightweight cotton, and uses french seams throughout, but there is no way that was going to work with this thicker fabric, so my first step was to serge all the edges.  I sewed it up basically like the pattern instructions (Purl Soho Women's Robe), but I left off the pockets and I sewed the belt ties into the side seams, instead of having it go all the way around the back, and shortened it a bit.  I also changed up the sleeves, because I felt they were a little skinny with my fabric, so I made them shorter and wider than the pattern called for.

Original Pattern

My problems with the robe started with me not thinking through the pattern placement of the stripes, and the vertical stripes really are what give it the shepherd vibe.  I was intending to leave it the longer length, but that was adding to the effect as well, so chop, chop.  My second mistake was not measuring properly when I cut the neckline.  The entire pattern is just a series of rectangles, and you cut a diagonal line across the top of the front rectangles to make the neckline.  I cut it way too wide though, and it sits funny.  Oh well, it's actually fairly well made and comfy, so for an around the house garment, not too bad!

Shepherd Chic

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Back in the Sewing Studio

It's been a little while since I've been able to devote most of a Saturday to sewing, but I was finally able to do so last weekend!  I finished up four different projects (most of them were just about complete), in an effort to actually clean up my in-progress list, and of course to finish something up in time to wear for Easter!  That is for another post though - today's outfit incorporates a simple dress to skirt conversion.  I've had this dress for quite a while, but hadn't worn it in quite a while, and thought I would enjoy it better as a skirt.  I cut the top half off probably about a year ago, and it had been relegated to the clothing rack where projects go to die.  I rescued it though, and added a simple elastic waistband, done by serging the skirt to the lining fabric, flipping it over to the inside and sewing it down with the elastic inside.  I initially tried serging the elastic directly to the skirt, but that didn't work out so well.  Super simple fix, and now I have a cute, springy skirt!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Time for a Refresh

I had made this dress a few years ago, and while I loved the fabric and the idea of it, there were a couple of things that bothered me.  Since then, I have learned that for some reason, most necklines in patterns that are technically my size are just way too wide for my frame, so I typically adjust the neckline, but I hadn't learned that trick yet, so instead I had to make a little tuck at the center front of the neckline.  While not too terrible, it just wasn't the look I was going for.  The second thing is that it is a tad short for my everyday life.  John always likes to say I'm too modest, but I just didn't like it without tights.  It was relegated to being my bathing suit cover up for a few years, and it worked quite well, but I wanted to get it back into my everyday wardrobe, so I sliced and diced it a few weeks ago.

I've had this picture saved for quite a while now, which I think came from one of the many pictures I've torn out of magazines over the years.  I wanted to do something similar with the dress, but obviously I would only have enough fabric left for a top, once I took care of the too-wide neckline. 

So I chopped off the top, slimmed up the body, and recut the neckline, adding solid black knit bands to the neckline and armholes.  All in all, a quick fix, but I love the end result!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Stress Relief Sewing

Whenever I get stressed and too busy, I try to fit in some extra sewing time.  It seems a little counter-intuitive, but it really does help my brain calm down and deal with everything.  I'm sure there is some psychological reasoning behind it, but it just works for me.  There are a couple of qualifications for it to be stress relief sewing though, as opposed to just sewing.  It has to be a simple project that doesn't require too much actual thinking, and it helps immensely if it is a TNT pattern (tried and true), because I know I can just go through it without fiddling with the fit and figuring out the instructions.

This particular project was intended to fill a need in my wardrobe, which is warm(er) casual tops, and used up some fabric I had left over from another project (Mesa Dress).  I used my usual modified Named Inari tee pattern, which is closer-fitting through the bust, and I added a band on the arms instead of a regular hem.  The length of the sleeves was entirely dictated by my available fabric, as I made them as long as possible.  To make it a tee instead of the dress which I usually make, I just chopped it off at the length I wanted, and didn't adjust the shape at all.  It wings out a bit, and I remembered later that the actual pattern has a slightly different shape for the tee version versus the dress, but oh well.  It's comfy and fits pretty well, and I'm less stressed, so it did its job!

One of the things I like about the fabric (and the style a bit), is that it reminds me of Boden clothes.  I'm usually too cheap to buy them, so I'm always happy to imitate!