Tuesday, October 15, 2019

'Til next time!

So I lasted a few months back posting, but life is again crazy, and I'm trying to be smart about my time use, and unfortunately blogging is an easy one to cut out.  Again, this might not be a permanent goodbye, but I need to take a break from blogging for a while.  As always, I do post regularly on Instagram, so head over there if you miss me! 


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Laura Tackles Pants, the Easy Version

I've made several pairs of pants, but I tend to stick to elastic waists and avoid fitted styles with flys and waistbands and all that jazz.  I've done it, but it just takes longer and I'm impatient.  That said, I really do want to add a few of those to my wardrobe, and they're on the list, but not just yet.  I had abdominal surgery a few weeks ago, and I'm still a little swollen and sore, so fitting is not something that's possible (or comfortable) right now, so elastic waists it is!  I've been meaning to make a woven pair of True Bias Hudson Pants for at least a year or two now, and figured this is the time for me to do so! 

I followed the instructions on the True Bias blog to convert from a knit fabric to a woven (namely, sizing up two sizes and adding depth to the pockets), and I left off the ankle bands, plus shortened them a tad, because I wanted to have enough fabric left over to make a matching tank.  You will never see me wear them together, which was my original intention (sneaky jumpsuit, anyone?), as it's pretty intense overall.  Anyways, here are the details:

Pattern:  True Bias Hudson Pants
Size:  10 (sized up two from where I fell on the size chart, for woven fabric)
Modifications:  woven fabric instead of knit, shorter, no ankle bands, added back pockets
Fabric:  mid-heavy weight linen from Stonemountain and Daughter

After I cut them out, I then measured a pair of elastic waist shorts from Madewell that I've been wearing a ton lately, and the hips measured 41" instead of the 43" from the finished measurements table for size 10.  To make up for this, I sewed the side seams at a 3/4" seam allowance instead of 3/8", but even still, I think I would like them a bit more fitted (just for personal preference).  The worst though is when a gathered waist pair of pants is too tight across the hips, with pocket-gaping, and bunching by the waistband, so I would rather err on the side of too loose.  With the slightly heavier fabric, I think it's ok, but next time I make this pattern (there are two more versions planned), I'll do a size 8 instead of 10.  Because I might want to tighten up the elastic later, I followed Karen Templer's method for attaching an elastic waistband, which I'm going to adopt from now on - it's just a cleaner finish, I  think.  I also added back patch pockets, as I find it easier to throw my phone in a back pocket instead of a front pocket.  I didn't attempt to pattern match the pockets at all, but the fabric is so busy, you can barely see them anyway! 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Vacation Sewing, Miami Edition - If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

So in my last post, I went into all my elaborate plans for sewing an entire vacation wardrobe, fully anticipating at least some of what I will go into in this post, which are my sewing fails!  It's all about setting up anticipations - this way I don't freak out and sew frantically until like 2 am the night before my trip.  I attempted three of the five garments that didn't work out, and didn't even get to a forth (the Ogden cami).

The first two were my fun Pucci print tank top, which I was planning on sewing up in the Common Stitch Wattlebird Cami pattern and a wrap top using the Common Stitch Bellbird wrap top.  I had just found Common Stitch, and thought they were both a good fit for my Miami trip.  Spoiler alert - using a new pattern brand doesn't always work out well.

For the Wattlebird cami, I sewed it first up in a linen blend I had floating around, as I thought the fit might be a bit tricky and I didn't want to cut into my precious fabric until I had the fit right.  It was a good thought - despite the fact I'm not particularly well-endowed, there would have been some clear side boob action going on, which isn't my typical style.  I was in quick production mode, so I put that one to the side to figure out later.  I do really like the style, so I will someday adjust it to fit me!

I went straight for my fashion fabric for the wrap top, and I just wasn't crazy about the armholes.  It looks OK on my dress form, but she actually is well-endowed, unlike me.  Again, it needed more work than I was willing to put into it at the time, and I will definitely come back to the pattern eventually, but it had to go for my vacation sewing.

Next up was a pair of white shorts - a warm weather staple that I was missing from my wardrobe.  I thought I would do a quick and dirty take by using the Purl Soho City Gym shorts, which I've made before and have an elastic waist (no need for proper fitting, or detailed flys, etc).  I simplified them even more by using the raw selvedge as the hem and removing the bias tape finish on all the edges.  I did make them slightly more complicated though, by adding pockets.  Shorts without pockets are just nonsense.  I was able to finish these up, but unfortunately I think I cut them out a bit small though, and they didn't look quite right.  A little more ease would have made the waistband lie more smoothly and not made the pockets so evident. 

After three failed garments, I went back to the drawing board a bit and came up with a few new ideas.  Stay tuned for plan #2!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Vacation Sewing, Miami Edition - Planning it out

Continuing with my sewing catch-up series of blog posts, last winter was cold and I was sick and tired of it, so I managed to talk John into a long weekend trip down to Miami in March.  I don't know what it is, but something about an upcoming vacation just makes me want to jump in and make an entire travel wardrobe every time.  It rarely actually happens (spoiler alert, it didn't this time), but that doesn't take away from the pleasure of going through my fabrics and picking out a mini capsule wardrobe.  I may or may not have even started planning the wardrobe before booking our trip, I was so excited to do so. :)

After pulling out all of my fabrics and pouring over them, I came up with the following plan:

Top row:  (1) self-drafted silk slip dress, (2) True Bias Ogden cami and self-drafted wrap skirt
Bottom row:  (1) Common Stitch Bluebell wrap top and Purl Soho City Gym shorts (2) Common Stitch Wattlebird cami and Purl Soho City Gym shorts (3) self-drafted ruffled lace top

I included a pair of RTW jeans and two items that I already made (the silk slip dress and ruffled lace top) to make it a bit easier on myself, but was still planning on making five separate garments.  I fully anticipated that I wouldn't finish them all, but thought it would be good to have a goal to shoot for.

What started this whole thing was this silky poly fabric I bought like 4 yds of from the remnant table at G Street Fabrics years and years ago.  I always envisioned it as a flowy maxi dress, but never got around to making it.  I thought would work perfectly for Miami, but instead of a dress, I thought I would make it slightly more versatile and make it a tank top and skirt.  I figured I could mix things up by wearing the cami with jeans or white shorts, and the skirt would also work with a solid plan top (knowing me, it would always be black).

I wanted to add a couple of tops to the wardrobe, so picked out a couple of fun, somewhat coordinating fabrics from my stash.  Both came from Emma One Sock - the first a sheer-ish textured tan cotton, and the second a fabulous Pucci (real Pucci!) cotton shirting.

I don't have a photo of the last fabric, but it was a stretch white denim from JoAnn Fabrics.  I figured with all these other crazy fabrics, I needed to add some basics in there!

I was pretty confident in my plan, so I dove right in!  Stay tuned for the next installment, in which I fail to complete several garments. :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tied up in a bow

I'm working on cleaning up my sewing database, which is a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of my measurements, patterns, fabric, and projects (it's fairly complicated and I've gotten behind).  In doing so, I realized I have a ton of projects that I can post about!  I don't want to go back too far, so I'm starting back at the beginning of the year - fun fact is that I've completed 17 sewing projects and 1 knitting project, trashed 6 sewing projects and undid 1 knitting project, and currently have 11 sewing projects and 1 knitting project in process!

Anyways, onto the first two projects I finished up this year, which were basically the same pattern.  I had been seeing a lot of shirts with tie details lately, and decided to make my own.

Details - Shirt #1
Fabric:  Sweater knit from Emma One Sock
Size:  ?  Too long ago to remember
Modifications:  added front center seam, extended front pieces to add long ties

I started with my staple tee pattern, the Plantain tee from Deer and Doe (gotta love a free pattern!), and sliced the front piece into two, adding on a long tie along the center front.  I didn't really measure it out, basically just made it as long as I could and fit it on my fabric, and made it a couple of inches wide.  The picture below shows this probably a lot clearer than my rambling description.

I first sewed up the front seam, stopping just above my belly button (maybe about 12" down from the neck).  I then just sewed it up following the directions of the Plantain tee as written.  I didn't want to deal with finishing the edges of the tie (particularly since I was viewing it a bit as a muslin), so I stay-stitched it about 1/8" away from the edge and left it essentially a raw edge.  All in all, a quick and easy sew, and a fun outcome!


Details - Shirt #2
Fabric:  Jacquard knit from Emma One Sock
Size:  ?  Too long ago to remember
Modifications:  added front center seam, extended front pieces to add long ties

For my next version, I cut it out exactly like the first version, but with elbow-length sleeves instead of full (maybe because I didn't have enough fabric?).  I used this fabulous jacquard knit, also from Emma One Sock, which is a Diane Von Furstenberg - I'm never going to buy one of her garments, but her fabrics, while still pricey, are more in my range!

I sewed it up identically to the first version, but forgot to take one thing into account - my original sweater knit had a ton of stretch, and the jacquard version did not - it was very stable, with only 10-15% stretch.  Let's just say the wrap around the body did not work at all, and it was quite a snug fit!  I still love it though, and instead of the wrap tie, I just make a cute little bow in front.  it's fun to see how the same pattern can turn out so differently with different fabrics.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

An accidental skirt

A surprisingly large number of my sewing makes are some variety of accidental, because I struggle with giving up and admitting defeat when I mess something up, which is all the time when I'm sewing!  And by accidental, I mean that I just turn them into something smaller than I originally intended, which is why I have a lot of handmade tank tops!

Anyway, despite the fact I also keep telling myself to stop buying fabric, I picked up this super-soft striped knit fabric at Jo-Ann's a few weeks ago, and it rocketed to the top of my list, mostly because I knew it would theoretically be a quick sew, and I desperately need summer clothes to wear to the office.

I've saved this picture on my pinterest board forever, and I've always been a huge fan of the pencil dress silhouette:

I actually have already made a similar style one once, but I gave it away earlier this year because it was too big:

I kept thinking about the striped version though, so that was what immediately came to mind when I saw this knit fabric.  I "drafted" my pattern (I always feel silly saying that when it's something like a knit tank dress), and I brought in the shoulders a bit, to make it a bit more of a racer-back style.  I cut it out and carefully sewed up the side seams and shoulder seams a couple of weeks ago (paying such careful attention to stripe matching), and last night I had a little free time, so figured I would add the neck and arm bands.

I had carefully planned out how I wanted the bands to be the white stripes with just a touch of the black showing, and inserted the arm bands with no incident, but for some reason the neckband I just couldn't get right!  I inserted it twice, but both times it was just too short.  It's hard to see in the above photo, but in the back of the neckline (on the right of the photo) there is a big folded mess, where I just couldn't stretch the band enough.  Because I serged it, I just cut off the serged portion (I've tried to thread-rip though that mess before, and just don't have the patience.  Unfortunately, doing that twice meant I didn't have any shoulder left to sew onto for a third try. Look how cute it is though (ignore the poor lighting and my crazy hair)!

Check out my stripe matching (also ignore how incredibly messy my sewing room is)!

Anyway, I finally gave up, chopped it off about 3" above my waist, serged the top, folded it down and sewed it to make a channel for a 2" wide elastic waist, and voila, it's a knit pencil skirt!


I'm really tempted to go back to Joann's and get more of the fabric to remake the dress, but I do have plenty of other projects to do, and this works as summer office-wear too, so we'll see.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Another Take on Hobbit Pants

Today will be a two-for-one - an outfit story in this post, and I'll follow it up with all the sewing details for my Emerson cropped pants in the next post.

First the story, in three parts - I have a bit of a mixed relationship with this style of pants, whatever you want to call them (culottes, cropped wide-leg pants, etc).  I wore them a lot as a kid, and liked them then.  Back when they started coming back into style a few years ago, I jumped on the bandwagon and made myself a pair out of a fabulous turquoise, black, and white wool plaid.  John dubbed them my hobo hobbit pants and was not on board at all. :)  I've had a couple of different iterations since then as well, and I like them, and I really like wearing them when it's like 95 degrees out, so they'll stay in my closet, whether or not they make me look like a hobbit.  More details on the pants will come in the next post, but they are the Emerson cropped pants from True Bias, and made out of a heavy-weight grey linen from Ikea.

The second part of my story involves the shirt - it's a fairly new addition to my wardrobe (Banana Republic, May, $45), and while it's simple, it's a style that I've stored on many a pinterest board over the years and have never quite found the very specific version I've wanted until now.  I try not to fall into the trap of buying multiples of the same thing (because I know I'll always just wear the black one anyways), but I did buy this shirt in red, blue, grey and black and have worn all of them.  It's just such a perfect shirt for work, because I prefer knit tops over woven, and it's just dressy enough to look like I'm not wearing a t-shirt.

And the last piece of the story brings everything together - similarly to the shirt style, I've had a photo saved for years of a women wearing wide-leg light grey pants with a light grey sweater (which I weirdly can't find at the moment), and I've always wanted to recreate it.  I just happened to figure out that I could when I was trying to figure out what to wear to the office today (my office wear section is a bit pathetic at the moment, given my lack of leaving my house these days), and here it is!  I've been on an on-going quest to figure out my style for years, and one of the problems is that I feel like is that what I'm attracted to changes a lot, but certain things stay the same (but never in a cohesive way that I can pin down my style).  There is such a satisfaction of accomplishing this look after all these years though, particularly when I can tweak it in ways that I know make it better for me (cropped wide-leg pants vs. long wide-leg pants,  close-fitting top vs. loose sweater).

While the story is technically done, I will round out the outfit details.  The shoes I talked about in my last outfit story actually, and I'm trying to wear them more, so lucky they happened to be light grey!   I'm not a big jewelry person these days, so keeping it simple with my wedding ring (well, one of the rings I wear as my wedding ring, that could be a whole post in and of itself), my watch and big silver hoop earrings.  Apparently things I've loved a long time are the theme of this story, because I have worn big silver hoops for years and years now.  This is at least the second pair I've purchased from Tiffany Anne Jewelry and I also have them in gold, and love them (only reason I've bought them multiple times is because I lost one).  I can never make up my mind whether I want to go silver or gold with jewelry, so when it comes to things like basic hoops, I buy them in both (oooh, another theme to the story - basics in bulk!).