Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Violet in Violet

Wow, I really do love this pattern! It's so quick and easy to make... It took just over two hours to cut and construct in one evening. It would have taken less time, but I finally decided to be brave and reconfigure my serger from overlock to coverstitch to finish the hems. (I was too lazy/scared to do that with my star trek version so I used a double needle on my regular machine.) The result is much, much better. And, bonus, I'm far less scared of my serger now so next time it won't take more time.

Coverstitch vs. Double needle stitch comparison:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Violet in Red & Black

Inspired by Tanya's super cute violet dress from Bluegingerdoll Patterns, I ordered the pdf and choose some red and black bamboo knit from my stash. I thought red and black would be sort of fun/sexy together. Color blocking is new to me so I chose a conservative red on top, black on the bottom approach. 

Halfway through, to my dismay, I realized I was making a Star Trek dress. Whoops. Combining the two colors must be done carefully, or a garment will look like a starfleet uniform.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Burgundy wool Dahlia...

I made this dress out of a lovely soft wool, hoping for a winter dress with leggings.

Unfortunately, I found it unflattering. Whether it is the fabric, the dress style or combination of the two, it's not a dress I will wear. I am very short waisted with a large bust and this was exaggerated by the wide waistband and bust gathers. Also, I choose the skirt with gathers which puffed out immediately after the waistband without drape (short waist = sudden hips). I should know better... I always prefer higher waists. Maybe the gored panel skirt would have been better? Meh, I'll just make another Anna!

Luckily, it looks wonderful on my sister in law. She is longer- waisted with slimmer hips so the waistband fits well and the skirt drapes nicely. We both found the neckline to be enormous, required major darts to fix it.

Pattern: Colette Dahlia
Fabric: Donna Karan Wool from Mood Fabrics
Size & Cut: 12 Bodice to 14 waist and wider hips.
No FBA, the gathers gave enough room for my bust (D cup). The waistband nicely pulls in on my underbust, which is the narrowest part of my body... but I'm looking way too busty from the front.

The raglan sleeves pull down, making the neckline pull down over the shoulders. It looks weird... I've seen it in other versions that people have made, a sort of baggy/pointiness over the shoulders.

I made huge darts in the back bodice and back sleeve seam to compensate for the baggy neckline, but that shortened the length of the sleeves.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A simple dragon shirt

Success! I found a simple shirt pattern, McCalls 6044 and made it for my brother in law... it's so fun to make shirts out of interesting prints!

Here, there be dragons.

Pattern: McCalls pattern, 6044
Cut & Size: Medium without alterations
Fabric: Year of the Ninja Dragon Black, Riley Blake

OMG, this pattern is so much easier than the Negroni. This version doesn't have the back yoke, but it has a simple collar, a simple collar stand, a simple sewn down button placket (no horrible wide flappy thing), sleeves that aren't cartoonishly wide and it is the right length per size. It took barely anytime to make without major adjustments! I can add the yoke or western details for my next version.

Sorry for the blurriness, it was getting late and drinks were plentiful.

Six Negronis!

Six Negronis and I'm done!

The Negroni pattern from Colette Patterns is a great pattern for learning techniques such as flat felled seams, button holes, collars, how to apply interfacing and the yoke burrito method. By my fourth shirt, I was finally confident enough to make the changes to the details that bothered me from the beginning (listed at the end of the post).

Negroni's from the beginning!

1) Negroni test shirt

Cut & size: Large unmodified, version 2 short sleeve.
Details: Single pocket, sleeves rolled out.
Fabric: AGF studio Minimalista darts in black and white ordered from the

My first shirt took over three weeks to make due to nerves!! Yet, even though I was nervous and overly cautious, I still managed to make some giant mistakes, ha ha. The button holes are too far from the shirt edge. This looks bad... I hesitated too long in making the holes and then I screwed up. This taught me that being slow is not helpful and if you are going to make a mistake, just go ahead and do it already. At the time, I could think of no way to fix it but now, 5 shirts later, I am pretty sure I could trim the edge and restitch it...
Anyways, the shirt ended up being too large around the waist, and definitely too long. Easy adjustments for the next one.

Also to note- the shirt sleeves are gigantic and flap around. The pattern appears to be made for some steroid addled brute with giant guns? Not so good for my husband. (Even my muscled rock climbing brother finds the sleeves to be floppy and huge).

2) Negroni #2

Cut & size: Large at the shoulders, grading between large and medium below the armpits to the waist. Shortened length and narrowed sleeves.
Fabric: Japanese print from
Details: Single pocket, sleeves narrowed, medium length.
This fits much better! And it only took two days to make. :) The sleeves are still ridiculously large, but better... and I managed to set the buttons correctly.

The main "new" problem with this shirt is the interfacing. I chose a high quality fusible cotton weave but I must have misapplied it; not enough heat or steam. After each wash, it needs a long pressing to get rid of the little bubbles. It is not unwearable, but it is annoying...

This is what misapplied interfacing looks like after a wash:

3) Crazy negroni- wearable muslin for my brother

Cut & size: Straight medium, no adjustments
Fabric: Quilting cotton Thistle from Anna Maria Horner
Notes: This was a the first shirt for my brother... he was not present during the construction, so I considered it a muslin to test the sizing. He requested the crazy print and loves it... He reported that the sleeves are way too big, even with his rock climbing arms, and the length is too long, but otherwise the fit is okay. He wears the shirt tucked in to hide the length... and wears it to go rock climbing... which is why he likes the thickness of the quilting cotton. Weirdo.
This shirt took one day to make.

Rock climbing in this shirt:

4) Adjusted Negroni for my brother

 Cut & size: Medium at the shoulders, graded to small at the waist. Sleeves narrowed. Button placket is sewn down to pocket to prevent flipping out (And it's crazy big enough to reach that far over!) Shirt shortened to 23" upon request.
Fabric:  Cloud 9 Southwest from Hart's Fabrics
Notes: My brother chose this fabric. It is quilting cotton, but a bit softer than the previous shirt I made him. I hesitated to chop it to 23 inches, but that is what my brother said he wanted. I left an extra 1.5 inches in the hem just in case. My brother reported that the length is good, but again, the sleeves are way to baggy. Again. I keep narrowing, and narrowing and it's never enough!

Rock climbing in this shirt:

5) Chambray Negroni

Cut & size: Large at the shoulders, grading between large and medium below the armpits to the waist.
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Chambray
Notes: This took only an afternoon to make!
I narrowed the sleeves severely this time, and I folded and stitched down the ugly interfaced placket that I've always hated. It is shaped at the collar to keep it flat, and edge stitched along the outer edge to look cool. 

The difference between an adjusted thin placket and an unmodified shirt can be seen here:

6. Aaron's Negroni

Cut & size: Medium to small at the waist. Narrowed sleeves, 26" length.
Fabric: Cloud Nine, Dem Bones Tombstone vine
Notes: This took only an afternoon to make!
I narrowed the sleeves enough for my other brother. He's a bit taller so I kept the length in the shirt. I cut the button plackets/facings to my taste and folded them under again, stitching down. I even modified the shape of the attachment point to the yoke so it could be stitched down too. This made me realize that I really wanted to be making a different pattern.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Autumn Moneta

 I made a new Moneta for the autumn... I want a busy print to wear under simple solid cardigans. 

I did all the construction with my new serger and it took a few hours, tops. So happy! My other Monetas were made with a regular machine, not too hard, but not as easy as this one.

The bodice is lined and the sleeves are 3/4. I haven't cover-stitched them yet, they don't bother me unhemmed... knits are wonderful that way.

The fabric is a ITY jersey knit, very stretchy. I used elastic for gathering the waist but then cut it off when the bodice was too long (now it's too short! oh well). The result is a slightly loose waistline... but that's great for the upcoming holidays. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cardigan weather

It's cardigan weather! Ha ha, barely... it's chilly here only in the mornings and after sundown. During the day, the sun warms everything up. I've decided to make some casual cardigans anyways.

My second is the Simplicity / New Look 6330 pattern. I made view C, the same as view B without the extra fabric on the bottom. (My first cardigan was a failed Jenna cardi, entirely my fault, will try again)

 The cardigan is made to be closed at the waist with long loops, held taut on buttons by the tension of the waist. This means that if you cut big, you may have to shorten your loops... and sitting or moving might dislodge a loop.

The model in the pattern picture shows that the top portion is fully open in a V down the bust until the loop closures. I hadn't realized that until I tried it on! It's a nice cardigan to wear over something that could use a waist, not so good extra modesty.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My sewing buddy

Helpful paperweight:

Not so helpful paperweight:

Enforcer of breaks:

Demands order and cleanliness or risk this:


Somewhat reluctant model:

Lover of pillows:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Printed Denim Moss skirt

I made this skirt months ago! Then I set it aside, making and wearing dresses most of the summer. Now that it's getting slightly cooler, I enjoy wearing separates again... It's nice to have a fun denim skirt ready to go.

It was my first fly zipper! I was very excited it worked out. I had a hard time with the instructions, but it came together after some head scratching and viewing other fly zippers. I had to steam and press the fly after using too stiff interfacing. It's a little puffy above, but has improved over time and wear (and steam pressing).

The skirt fits very well, sitting below the waist without causing any muffin top. Thank goodness.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hot pink Léa!

My second Léa dress is made out of a crazy fun wax print fabric... It is hot pink with small purple stripes and bright turquoise flower/atom symbols or something. It's awesome.

I imagined I'd downplay the buttons, but instead I went with hot pink glass flower buttons on top, and none on the bottom.

I love the pockets!

As you can see, I had a bit of fabric mismatch on the waistline, but I managed in most other places to keep it matched. Thank goodness for belts.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Timeless daywear Hawthorn

I signed up for the Vlisco newsletter so I can see when they offer sales and deals (every few weeks or so) that I cannot resist... During the last deal, I bought the fabric the model is wearing in this photo:

Gorgeous, right? The shirt dress is lovely and they are trying to frame it as "timeless daywear" which is what I could use more of... so I made it into a Hawthorn. I'm no model, so... of course, I did not expect to look just like the woman in the ad, but I did expect the print to look awesome. Well, it does but I feel a bit conspicuous. I'm not sure I can wear this around timelessly, during my everyday activities like walking the dog, or shopping at trader joes. What do you think? Maybe I need a fancy interior as background. :)

Pattern: Hawthorn by Colette Patterns
Fabric: Vlisco wax print
Cut & Size: 12 bodice with added FBA bust dart, 12-18 skirt

I'm not sure if my FBA was messed up or if I just have a peculiarly short torso, but I had to cut two inches off the bottom of the front bodice and 1.5 off the back.  I tried on my first Hawthorn and can now see similar issues that I was previously able to disregard (getting better at sewing means ones standards are constantly being raised along with skill!) Anyways, it fits now, still a little loose at the waist, but that is probably for the best to insure that no buttons pop. I might take in the side seams at some point.

I added a few inches to the length of the skirt all around and sewed down the horrible facings as much as possible. I must remember for next time that the facings on the back neckline are nasty and awful and must be replaced with bias tape.

All seams are flatfelled including armscyes. Extra pressing helps! Oh and pockets!

Dog shot:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Anna in wax print

Success! I made a perfectly fitted Anna dress- it's my fourth try with the bodice and it fits just right!

The only exception to the perfect fit is due to my choice to put a clunky zipper on the outside of the dress.

I thought this would be "fun"

But it turns out to be a little bumpy... maybe the outside zipper should be used on less fitted garments. At least it's easy to replace!

The back looks good on a hanger!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Night trees 1940's tea dress

I love this pattern! This is my second version (first here)... I will be making even more. :) There's just something about the vintage look and simplicity that appeals to me... and it looks good in a modern fabric!

Pattern: Sew Over It 1940's tea dress
Fabric: Night Trees border print from Smugglers Daughter
Cut & Size: 14 Bodice with 1 inch FBA, to 16 waist and 18 hips and lower edge + 5 inches length. 1 inch off bodice length all around.
I shrunk the FBA of the first dress by about half an inch, and distributed the bust gathers more evenly. This is a much better fit for my bust. Also, I shortened the whole bodice by about an inch... I think there is more work to do with my swayback but it's okay for now.

Oh, and I might make the sleeve poofs a little less poofy in the future. 

The pieces are cut with the border print in mind. There's black on the sleeve cuffs, bottom hem and back zipper area. I hand stitched the zipper into place after three(!!) bad machine insertion attempts. The stretchiness of the fabric did not work well with my auto-tension/ zipper foot.

Also, all seams are finished with my new serger!! Super cool and fun to use. :)

Trying to keep my dog's attention below: