Thursday, May 4, 2017

Travel Sewing - Kimono Scuba Jacket

I know I'm not the only one who has big plans to sew new pieces before a trip!  I was headed to Michigan last weekend for my Grandpa's 90th birthday party, and just managed to squeeze this jacket in under the wire.  I bought this scuba with metallic flowers on a whim on a trip to Jo-Ann's a few months ago, and didn't have a plan.

I woke up one morning, and had the realization that it would make a great kimono jacket!  I was originally thinking about some kind of sweatshirt, to tone down the fanciness of the fabric a bit, but I would get a lot more wear out of the jacket, so I laid in bed and googled kimono jacket patterns and came across the Wardrobe by Me Kimono Jacket, which was exactly what I was looking for.  I had never used one of their patterns before, and it turned out great.

I sewed up a size 6, which is a touch smaller than my actual measurements, but particularly for over-sized garments it works better to underestimate instead of over, since I'm petite.  I do always double-check the finished garment dimensions first though, which in this case still gave me a couple of inches of ease.

It was a quick sew, and I followed the instructions exactly, except for the front edge, which I was being dense on the instructions and messed up.  I was able to save it, but my bottom corner isn't quite as neat as it should be.  I also adjusted the pockets so the front edge doesn't stick out quite as much as drafted, and I did that just by not lining up the pocket edges with the jacket edges, instead making the pocket piece stick out more.  I really do love the pockets though - I can't stand jackets that don't have them!  These are simple to sew and give a little pizzazz to the jacket, which is always a plus.

I used my serger for everything except top-stitching and hemming, and it was a quick sew overall (which is why I was able to wrap it up before my trip)!  I will definitely be making this one again.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring 10x10 Challenge Wrap Up

I had a blast this time around with the spring 10x10 challenge, and I think in part it's due to being a bit more loose around the rules, and staying a bit truer to my style.  I think I struck a good balance of pushing myself a bit, but being comfortable.

Without further ado, here's what I wore:


I would have to say my favorites were day 1 (striped tee + overalls) and day 8 (tank + cardigan + jeans).  I like the layeredness of them both, and the monochromatic color schemes.  I like having a touch of pattern (stripes or a patterned scarf), but not too much.  It's funny that they both also use scarves, since I used to wear them all the time and stopped, and have been wanting to wear them more again.  

Lessons Learned:
I tweaked the rules half-way through, and was so much happier doing so this time around.  I think I felt too constrained the previous rounds because I like to incorporate more color and pattern than I see in a lot of the capsule wardrobes out there, and I just need a bit more variety.  Biggest lesson here is to be more relaxed about how I approach my wardrobe and not follow rules so stringently

I love blue!  I've always leaned more towards turquoise/teal before, but I really like this royal blue that I've been pulling in lately.  

Sometimes it's best to go with my gut, even if it's perhaps not as exciting.  I didn't try to force myself to get outside my box as much this time around (although I did a little), and this also helped me be more happy with my selections.  Yeah, a striped tee and jeans is not ground-breaking, but it's very me.  By narrowing in on the specific elements that I like in a striped tee (scoop neck, skinny but not skin-tight), I was able to customize the look to exactly where I'm comfortable.

I don't actually like to be as matchy-matchy as I thought.  Particularly since I was working with a newish color to my wardrobe, I was able to isolate that I prefer color schemes to be similar, but not exact.  Case in point, day 10 I went with navy sneakers instead of blue loafers, and it went from forced to casually coordinated (at least in my head)!

It's been hard to get back to my full closet this time around!  I ended up in workout clothes a few times, and spent a lot more time trying to decide the other days.  If I get a free moment (it's been tough lately), I might try my hand at pulling together a more extensive capsule at some point!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring 10x10 Challenge - days 9 and 10!

And I made it!  Overall, I had a better time with the 10x10 challenge this time versus the two other times, which I'll get into tomorrow, but for today I'll leave you with my final two looks!

Day 9 was Tuesday, which was another office day for me.

 I basically wore the same outfit as day 6, but dressed it up by switching out jeans for black pants and dressier accessories.  I also wore the shirt like I normally do, which is tucked in the front.  This makes it look less like a tunic and more like just a normal tank.  One thing I'm noticing about colors is that while I'm still weird about making sure my colors match, I don't want to be too color matchy, if that makes sense.  There has to be at least some variation, which in this case would be pulling out all the different colors of the tank (black pants/shoes, gold jewelry, cream cardigan) versus just sticking with the tank and all black for example.

Day 10 - I made it!  This was an errand-running and working from home day.

Continuing my color-matching discoveries, I originally put on my blue loafers with this outfit, but it was just too much.  I switched out to my navy sneakers and liked it so much better.  I also attempted to knot my shirt, to up my styling game and try something a little different.  Mostly the shirt is just too short to do so and I'm self-conscious about my spare tire, but I just couldn't handle it and went back to the open shirt.  I think it also has to do with not breaking up my silhouette as much - because I'm a shorty, I like to keep things lean and sleek, and not have a lot of horizontal lines.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring 10x10 Challenge: days 6, 7, and 8

Day 6 was last Friday, which was working from home for a half day, sewing a bit, and a Good Friday service at my church.

This shirt is one of my me-mades, which I whipped up before our anniversary last year, and ended up not wearing.  In the quick sewing process though, I ended up hemming it by hand in the car, and it is longer than I would typically do (I initially was going to make it a dress, but it was too lightweight).  I never got around to rehemming it though, and I typically just do a front tuck.  This time though I wanted to try something different and wear it as a tunic, and I like it quite a bit.

Day 7 was Saturday and was spent delivering meals for Easter Outreach, so I went for a simple favorite outfit.

These two pieces are literally two of my favorite things to wear - a black and white striped tee from Boden and the Madewell jeans that turned me onto the brand.  I wore my black leather espadrille sneakers out and about, but most of the time at home I just go barefoot.

I took the day off on Easter Sunday, because I've always worn a special Easter outfit since I was a little kid. :)  Monday was a work from home day.  I actually forgot to take a photo, so I recreated it this morning to make sure I got my photo in!

This was a comfy, layered outfit fit for the variable spring weather we're having.  I really like all the blues going on.  The shoes match the shirt, the jeans match the scarf, which also picks up a bit of the ivory in the cardigan and the lighter blue.  It's just on the verge of being too matchy-matchy, but in a good way.

Today is day 10 (woo hoo, I made it!), so stay tuned tomorrow for a summary of the last two days, and Friday I'll wrap it up with lessons learned, which, spoiler alert, surprised me a bit this time around.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Year of the Sleeve

Back in March, I had a spur of the moment inspiration and wanted to make a quick blouse.  I initially saw this picture when I was deep down a pinterest rabbit hole (where most of my inspiration comes from):

I had a decent amount of random fabric, so I figured I might as well add sleeves as well, and oh, maybe I should make them gigantic bell sleeves?  Very much on trend right now, but not necessarily a style I would typically gravitate towards, but fun to experiment with.  (I keep trying to make myself sew practical garments, but it's way more fun to sew special things!)

For my pattern, I did my usual procedure of picking random pieces from different patterns.  The bell sleeves were an easy pick off of the Megan Nielsen Dove Blouse, While I love the french darts in the bodice, I wanted a dart-less top that could accommodate the gathering, so for the bodice I went for my good ol' staple, the Grainline Studio Scout Tee.  And hence the Doubt tee is born!  Maybe not the most compelling smashed together name, but it was the best I could come up with. :)  

I started with the bodice, as that was the part where I was adding in my personal flair and not following a pattern, since the Scout Tee is just a loose-fitting straight tee.  I eyeballed where I wanted the gathered seam to be, and then drew it on my front and back pieces using a curved ruler.  I then gathered the tops and bottoms and then sewed them together.  Major fail.  It looked ridiculous, nothing like my inspiration photo above.  I think the biggest problem was that I gathered it too much, but it was super overwhelming and not flattering at all.  Luckily I had enough fabric to cut out a second bodice, so I did that, and then just zigzag stitched a piece of skinny elastic to the inside just under the bust.  It's not perfect, and I think I might have liked it better without it, but it gives it a bit of interest.  Hmmm, I just realized I could take it out at this point.  Take a look below and let me know what you think - gathered or straight?

The rest of it was pretty straightforward to sew, as I just followed the Dove instructions for the sleeves, and the Scout instructions for attaching the sleeves and finishing up the edges.  Oh, I did forget to mention that I extended the Scout sleeve pattern piece to elbow length and then trimmed the width slightly to match the circumference of the Dove bell, so the sleeves were a combo of the two patterns.  I really could have gotten away with just drawing a circle to get the bell sleeves, but I already had the pattern pieces cut out for the Dove, so I went with it. 

I remembered reading recently on the Grainline Studio blog about doing a cheater's rolled hem, so I looked it up, and voila!  I have beautiful "rolled" hems on the curved sleeves, which would have been a beast otherwise.  It does involve sewing it three times, but it was worth it.

Without further ado, meet my Doubt blouse!

Spring 10x10 Challenge: Days 4 & 5

I'm getting behind on documenting my challenges and things are building up!  Today is actually day 7 of the Spring 10x10 challenge for me, but I've taken off a couple of days in between (laundry needs and I had to wear my new Easter outfit yesterday!).

Day 4:

Day 4 was last Wednesday, which was an office day for me. I was originally intending to wear my leather espadrille sneakers (so it is basically the same outfit as day 2, but with different pants), but I figured I was pushing my staid engineering office a bit already with the dramatic sleeves, so I switched out for more professional looking shoes (relaxing the rules just a tad).  The funny thing is that I've gotten plenty of comments on the shirt already, but at the office, I got several compliments on my shoes, but no one mentioned the shirt. :)

I went easy on the accessorizing as well, only wearing my silver hoops and no necklace.  I've struggled with finding a necklace I like with this shirt as it has to either be short and simple or longer and bold to stand out, but that can get a bit too busy for my tastes.

These pants are one of two pairs of ponte pants (the other pair are full-length trousers) that match my ponte suit blazer, which I bought a year or so ago to be my main suit.  Best decision ever to go ponte.  It is still pretty formal looking, but completely machine washable and super comfy!  At the time, Boden only had this flare version in cropped, but now they have a skinny leg crop which is a bit more me and I'm tempted to get them.  Being petite, I find that narrow is generally a better silhouette for me.  They aren't cheap though, and it occurred to me that it would be super simple to narrow down these, so I may be doing that at some point soon!

At this point was where I decided to relax the rules a bit more.  My original plan only included 9 items, because I was planning on sewing a simple top to add in.  That simple top turned out horribly, so I took a step back, decided to remove the shoes from my ten items (since I already added in a new pair anyway), and bring in a few more tops and regular jeans (I love the overalls, but they are not exactly a basic you can get away with wearing every day).  I added in the blue/red checked button-down, the me-made blue printed silk tank top (that was a contender the first go around anyway), and the jeans on the end.

Day 5:

Day 5 was Thursday, which was spent working from home and then packing up meals for Easter Outreach, a program that my church helps organize to deliver meals for Easter weekend.  One of the main reasons I added the button down to the mix was to wear it over the overalls, and wear them in a different way.  I like the look overall, but let's just say it made bathroom trips even more awkward, so not ideal.

This outfit is basically item for item something I would have worn in high school.  It was the nineties and that version would have veered baggier and more towards grunge, but the idea is the same.  The picture below is the best I can come up with (given the birthday cake and hair cut, my best guess is December 23, 1997):

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Summer time sewing

And now for something different (kind of)!  I took the day off yesterday from the 10x10 challenge, as I was planning on sewing a shirt to wear, and didn't get to it because we had guests staying with us until yesterday.  I spent most of the day in jeans and a black tank top, which is basically my everyday outfit when I work from home.  I was able to spend a few minutes finishing up a summer top that I had started a week or two prior.

I came across the image below when I was falling down a pinterest rabbit hole:

I loved how simple and chic it was, as well as I'm super ready for summer shirts!  I just made it up as I went, and ended up making some changes which don't quite stick to the same vibe, but I realized I'm also not stick-thin, so it will never look the same on me. :)

Photos are first, and then I get into the nitty gritty details below!



Pattern:  Self-drafted, based on inspo photo

Fabric:  1 meter of lightweight cotton I got in Thailand for like $1 - ahhh, I miss that fabric shopping.

Difficulty:  Super easy!  It probably took me about 2 hours for the whole process - think through the design, cut it out, sew it and take photos.

Sewing Details:  I literally just cut four rectangles - two for the body (keeping the selvage for the hem) and two for the straps.

Before sewing the body together, I ironed down 1/4" at the top, as it was easier to do it then versus after sewing them into a tube.  I then french-seamed the sides, folded down the top just slightly larger than my elastic (I think it was 1-1/4" elastic), and sewed it down, leaving a couple of inches to get the elastic in.  I then threaded through the elastic using my trick of attaching a large safety pin through one end of the elastic, which is easier to push through the tube than just the elastic.  My standard finish for elastic bands is to overlap the two ends and zigzag.  This eliminates extra bulk and the zigzag is essential for stretching, as a straight stitch would break.

The arm straps were the piece that took a bit of thought.  I didn't want to wear a straight jacket, but I also didn't want them too droopy.  I settled on using another piece of elastic that would wrap around the sides of my arm, leaving enough room to tie the ends.  I made two tubes that were the width of the elastic, and estimated a good length for the tie.  I then threaded the elastic in until it hit that point, and zigzagged straight down to hold it in place.  I scrunched the tie down and zigzagged the other end, leaving me with a tie that had a stretchy bit in the middle and flat ties on either end.  I just found the center of each tie, and zigzag stitched it to my side seams on the body of the shirt.  I wish I would have taken a closer picture, so let me know if you want more details!

I wish I would have used a smaller, less strong piece of elastic though, as the whole elastic band is the part that really doesn't match my inspiration (both with the front being too blousy and the straps looking more fussy).  Particularly when I tied the straps like the photo, it makes the ends look wimpy, so that's why I also tried out the bow.  I debated taking it apart and taking out some of the width, but I think I'll call it good enough for now - if it turns out I never wear it, I might revisit it.

And because I wanted to keep up my outfit sketches, I also did a sketch of the top!  For some reason I really struggle drawing my head when it's turned to the side and down like that - another thing to work on! :)