Sunday, September 21, 2014

I've been on a roll, baby

I'm not really sure what it is but something about this new house has got my sewing mojo on like whoa. In the last few weeks, I've turned out two of these tops (but only one picture):

Another Belcarra blouse:

One shirt and one little dress for pinky neither of which I have a picture of. And this:

Or as I like to call it, my most favoritest thing I've seen since pinky's Christmas dress. It's probably my most favoritest thing I've seen for myself since . . . well I'm not really sure but look at that skirt!

I die. It all started probably about two years ago. I went into Joann's and came across the most wonderful stupendous summer fabric of all summer fabrics. It's a linen rayon blend that practically sparkles in the like. Not Edward Cullen sparkle because no but cool, gleamy magic sparkle. This stuff is like butter. No, not butter. More like heavy cream flowing over my hands and now over my hips in luscious, sweeping folds of deliciousness. I knew I wanted to live in such glory so I bought two yards even though I had no idea what to do with it.

Within a few months, Burda Patterns went on sale at Joanns which like, never happens. They were $2.49 for heaven's sake. Since they are rarely on sale, I didn't have a running list. I just sat down and browsed the catalog. Then suddenly, right before my wondering eyes, what should appear but Burda 7069

The heavens opened up and smiled down upon me, showing me just exactly how my magic gleaming fabric should be used. The line drawing and such suggested chiffon or some other light and filmy beast but I would not be dissuaded. My linen-rayon blend had spoken to me.

And then I told it to shut up for two years.

A few weeks ago, I happened to see a beautiful swishy skirt featured on Frabjous Couture's blog that renewed my burning need to make that fabric wearable. So I went out to the shed and looked in every single box until I found it. Of course it was in the box at the front of the shed, not the ones way in the back that threatened to swallow me whole and of course I looked in the box at the front last. But no matter. I found it and I now have this gorgeous skirt to call my own.

But it's well worth the weight I think. I lined it with a soft white cotton batiste and closed it up with an invisible zipper. Then I let it hang in the closet for a few hours, as you ought with something sporting bias panels. Of course I let it to the last minute and had to put in a simple hem this morning. It's only turned up the once and sewn down with a long stitch. Later, I'll let it out and allow the skirt to hang overnight as is proper. The lining is merely serged. At some point in the future, I'd like to add some peekaboo lace to the lining just as an extra touch.

Construction is pretty straight forward. This bad boy has five pieces. You sew the yoke together, then the skirt pieces together. Then attach the skirt to the yoke and put in a zipper. Really, not even Burda could write too scarce a directive for this one. The yoke seems are merely pressed open while the skirt seams were finished with the serger. The size 14 fit right out of the envelope. The skirt was a little long but that's easily solved.

I love this thing so much that I have two more versions cut. I picked version B, the pencil skirt for both as I thought the design elements could really be highlighted. The first was my test muslin in a brown Wal-mart a bit heavier than chambray fabric. I basted it together rather quickly just to check the fit at the waist then promptly took it apart. I should, however, have it done by next Sunday I think. The second version is made from a leftover length from this skirt that no longer fits me. I have a pile of navy blue piping just waiting. The lines of this skirt disappear into the linen-rayon and would into the hydrangea print of the blue fabric as well but the piping will great magic of them. At least that is my hope.

The blouse is also Me Made but I not only can't find what I did with my copy of the pattern, not a single pattern piece oddly enough, but I can't find it on any of the Big 4 sites. I'm guessing it's gone out of print sometime between when I bought it which really couldn't have been more than two years ago and when I finally sewed it up. It's been sitting in the unfinished pile for an eternity for want of a bias binding about the neck and the right buttons. It's made of Swiss Dot, which if you've been paying attention here for a while, you may have noticed my love affair with the stuff.

If you're wondering what else I have planned, new skirts need new tops, do they not? I've been bogged down in FBA and muslin hell. You really should be shocked. I dislike doing FBAs and as a self professed lazy heifer, you know I don't do many muslins. But along with sewing mojo, the seamstress fairy has dusted me with fit dust. After all, if you're going to be brave and start cutting into your silk hoard, you want to be damned sure the resulting garment will actually get worn. Am I right?

Check out my adorable shoes!! I've worn them all summer. They were a leeeetle small when the arrived but either they've stretched or I love them too much to care because they feel fine now. I bought them from Rue La La which means you can't go over and buy them now that it's been a few months. But Amazon has them here. I'd recommend ordering them half a size up and they have yellow??? I WANT YELLOW! They only had coral and navy on Rue La La! Yes, that's coral. Amazon has the right of it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I sewed something!

No really, this is epic. Epic in so many ways. Epic because I'm a procrastinator, epic because of the recent move, epic because this dress gave me first from the beginning.

It all started with this pattern.

It's a beautiful pattern, wouldn't you agree? The lines, the piping, the breeze nature of it all. I was in love. Somehow though, I got the impression that it was for knits. So I'm sitting there, knit fabric in hand, looking at Sewing Pattern Review when it finally occurs to me that this is totally for wovens.

Because stupid is a thing that sewing sometimes makes you feel.

Then I had a magic moment. A few months ago on a whim, whim in this instance referring to those incessant emails I signed up for that lure me in with the promise of wonderful fabric, I bought two coordinating fabrics from Mood. When it arrived, I swear the heavens opened up and wrapped me in their loving Italian cotton embrace. There are really no words for the glorious feel of this stuff. One half of the pair is a smooth, cool lipstick red cotton sateen and the other half is some kind of woven miracle that words cannot express. I'm sure there's a fancier name but Mood listed it merely as Italian cotton. So in adequate, let me tell you. It's patterned in black and white and on the flipside, also black and white but the pattern is reversed.


So looking at this pattern, I had an epiphany.

I could use the red cotton sateen to make this dress, create piping from the 5/8th yard of houndstooth that's been sitting in my stash since some company messed up my order and it would coordinate beautifully with a chic cropped Italian brocade jacket in a reversible black and white pattern.

It would heaven. But heaven, in the sewing world, is often ruined by a terrible fit or a terrible pattern so I decided to do a wearable muslin. And then, I became oddly invested in the turn out of this wearable muslin. I had some pretty pink pique sitting around and fixated on the idea of the gorgeous resulting dress. Then I became invested in acquiring (but not making) the perfect piping to coordinate and then determined not to buy more. I can't explain it. I just painted myself into a sewing corner.

Finally, I threw caution to the wind, cut out the bodice pieces despite being in the middle of a move, and then well, I moved.

And there is sat.

And sat.

And sat.

Just waiting, I suppose to be the first garment I sewed in my new house.

Ta da!!!

I don't know where  my camera charger is. Can you tell? This might be the worst picture I've taken in a long time.

Also on the list of whatevers, the waist is hella uneven along the zipper line, the bodice is too long, the waist is a bit too small, and we aren't going to discuss the zipper I put in three times before having to replace the zipper altogether. Did I mention my iron died after I got the bodice together but before I put on the skirt?

Oh and let's not forget that my dog rolled all over the rest of the yardage after I cut out the bodice but before I cut out the skirt. I'm not even sure what the dog did to it and quite frankly, I don't care. I do care about the tomato seeds my son scattered on it. Maybe they will come out in the wash.

But it's finished. My sewing and thus, my blogging mojo are back in business.


Now I just need to find my damned camera charger so I can get on that sew along thing. I didn't forget, I promise. But I won't be mad if the rest of you did. I'll be remaking this dress in the aforementioned sateen and when I do, I'll post a proper review. If you decide to make up it before then, you should probably leave the bodice as is. I lengthened it because that's what I do but it's a multi cup size one and thus my usual way of getting out of an FBA was unnecessary.

Well, dude, that's a lot of gifs and a lot of words for nothing more exciting than two pictures of an ill fitting dress. The first pic, btw, is of the bodice folded up. The second is of the bodice as is. And here's two pics of the piping which turned out beaaaaaaaaaaautifully in an otherwise meh dress.

Before I show you the second pic, I should mention the other first that comes along with this dress. This is the first time I've used all three of my machines on one dress. I used my reliable SE-350 on the piping, the bodice seams, and the majority of the skirt seems. The waist was attached using the serger and the skirt seams were finished with the same. Then I whipped out my gorgeous coverstitch machine to hem up the skirt.

So there you have it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Updates for those of you who still love me

I finally found a place to live!

Now I just have to move all of my crap, including my children,

 my impressive fabric stash,

And my growing makeup collection.

Because the only thing worse than searching for a new place to live is actually packing everything up and hauling it there.

I know what you're thinking.

Why, yes. Yes, you are. Because everyone knows moving sucks. But never fear, I have good news.

Since I live in the South and the South hates school children, my kids will be forced to trudge to school in 90 degree temps the first week of August. And this means the second week of August, we shall resume our Sew Along or rather begin our sew along, I suppose if I'm being honest.

So thanks keep scoping out fabric and thanks for your patience. In the meantime, despite all the moving,

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mary Poppins Bag: Helpful Stuff and Things Part 2

I won't bore you with the details but suffice to say the move is sudden and unexpected and while we know we are moving, we still don't know where. Summer is not the time to be looking for a rental, FYI. So long story short, I've been packing and I've somehow lost sight of five yards of gray velveteen. The same gray velveteen, if you were wondering, that I intended to use for my bag, the same velveteen I need to photograph so you can see.

Seems like a good reason as any to discuss fabric choices, though this post will be lacking pics thanks to the absconding of the velvet. Maybe it's hiding from my scissors.

So fabric choices.

Have you given thought to what you're making your bag from? The sample on the Sew Fearless site looks to be made of quilting cotton and a velveteen. Quilting cotton is a perfectly acceptable choice and you'll get decent results from it. But don't limit yourself to one small section of the fabric world. Personally, that $30 dollars worth of hardware alone calls for something a wee bit more elevated than a mere quilting cotton.

Be bold! Be brave and consider . . . corduroy, denim, suede, or even leather! Lucky for you, Fabric Mart has a leather sale going on right now. Mood had a great selection of heavier weight fabrics as well. I'm also pretty partial to's Premier Prints. They come in all sorts of colors and, if you guessed by the name, prints. Nautical, paisley, chevrons of all colors and sizes, and all sorts.

Do you like blue? Navy isn't my favorite color but I'm not sure you'd know it from my wardrobe. I own a ton of blue. It looks good on me, coordinates with quite a bit, and is a year round color. For all of these reasons I support a navy lambskin purse or I would if Fabric Mart hadn't just sold out. Instead, I'll support a navy suede purse thanks to Mood Fabrics. Perhaps with beige textured pockets and a vivid purple lining that will make you smile each time you dig in there for that pen you could have sworn you put in there.

Or maybe you favor something more eye catching. Perhaps a bright yellow purse with black trim and a fun, animal print lining.

Don't forget the prints! This fun octopus print by Tula Pink would look lovely with denim in both ivory and dark blue.

Do you have a love for all things Elizabethan or Baroque? Look at this amazing embossed leather. If I wasn't sitting on four yards of soft rose faux leather, this one would call my name. I'm not even sure what I'd pair with it. I'm simply in awe of it's mere existence. I think I'd use the same fabric for the pockets and trim to best show off the beautiful print. And then perhaps this pretty pink and gray damask for the lining.

So many decisions! There is no end to the different combinations you can come up with. Just remember when selecting your fabrics that you want something sturdy that will hold up to a decent amount of wear. You don't want much stretch in these fabrics if at all but if you do fall in love with something a wee bit delicate, soft, or stretchy, remember that there are a ton of interfacing and interlining options to help beef up your choice. A muslin backing, a heavy weight interfacing, all of those things can turn a less than stable fabric into something that will hold up for ages.

So what about you? Do you have your fabrics yet? Have some ideas bouncing around? If I didn't mention it already, make sure you check out the home decor section of your favorite brick and mortar or fabric site. If they fabric can hold up to your butt rubbing on it for the next five years, it will stay strong while you drop it in the grass, fling it into the backseat, or shove things you totally meant to throw away in there until you can find a garbage can.

Next time we meet, we'll discuss interfacing. 

Thank you again for sticking with me through all of the delays. You guys are the best.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mary Poppins Bag Sewalong: Helpful Stuff and Things Part 1

By now, you should have purchased your hardware and your pattern. But what about the other stuff, you might be wondering. What do all of these things in this pattern actually mean???

Well allow me to unveil the mystery!

Before we do that, let's talk business.

First off, I'd like to thank Ms Sew Fearless for the cottage industry license printed in her pattern. At the risk of blowing up people's spots and making enemies, let me just say that I think it's odd for pattern designers to behave as if they have the right to tell you what to do with a product you've made. I understand that confusion has arisen from the fact that even Joann's prints on the selvage that you can't use their fabric for stuff you intend to tell and uhm, no ma'am. Personally, I would prefer not to sell finished products created from someone's pattern only because I don't want to plant seeds of bad will in the sewing community. But it's a rather simple fact that if you make something, you can sell it. So kudos for that acknowledgement.

Secondly, this, as most of you know, is my first sewalong and I did not create this pattern. So you'll understand when I say that as much as I want to make this experience as simple as possible for all of you who are so kind as to sew along with me, I don't want to be giving away all of Ms Sew Fearless's secrets. My goal here to give you enough info and pictures to help you out but not so many that you don't need the pattern or her wonderful instructions. So I'll do my best and if you're still confused, leave me a comment and I'll help the best I can.

So sewing terms and techniques you'll need.

1. Basting: I think most sewists know this one. Long stitches that are easy to take out. They keep things in place, test placement, and otherwise ensure you are happy with what you're doing before you do it permanently and make yourself cry. My machine has a basting setting because I'm a lazy heifer who enjoys button pushing but if yours does not, just set your stitch length long as hell and you'll be ready to go. You could also do it by hand but 

2. Topstitch: Just what it says. You stitch on top of your seam or to the right of it or whatever so make it look all pretty and professional. If you look at the seams on your jeans, many of them are topstitched. According to the pattern, you can just use regular thread but topstitching thread which is a bit thicker, looks fabulous, imo. I'd planned to use some but I didn't find it in a color I liked, so regular thread it is.

3. Whipstitching: I hate whipstitching. Probably because it's a sewn my hand stitch and why do I have a sewing machine if I'm going to sew by hand? (Please remember I said this when it's time to sew up that Chanel-esque Marfy suit so you can point and laugh appropriately.) Despite the smack talk I do about whipstitching, it is really easy and it's pretty quick to boot. Here are some down and dirty examples so you can tell me to stop being such a damned baby.

4. Understitching: This one is sewn on the edge of your seam on the side that will be hidden close to the line of stitching you just did to make everything stay on its side the way you wish small children would on a road trip. It's also better explained via video so just go there instead of looking at me like that.

Are you with me so far?

Good! It's a pretty heavy post but I think you can do it. Are you ready to discuss the list of stuff you must acquire?

If you are an avid sewist, even a beginner one, you'll likely have the following things on hand. If you're a procrastinator, a horrible housekeeper, and a general loser of stuff, you may not know where all of these things are. Here's a list so you can spend the next 24 hours locating things you couldn't find six months ago yet no longer need because you replaced them and not being able to find the things on this list and having to replace those . . . you know, so you can find them in six months while looking for those knitting needles you could have sworn you bought.

Oh is that just me?

The list then.

  • Scissors
  • pins
  • marking pens of some sort. I prefer my trusty double sided fabric of which I have several due to the process I described above.
  • seam ripper (yes, the seam ripper. Don't worry, I have no idea how often you use the thing and you'll have no idea how many times I use the thing.)
  • ruler (yes, you do need one. Some of the pieces are given by measurement and not a piece in the pattern. Do not let this scare you. Math is not completely frightening unless letters are involved. Some of you may be giggling over this, you smart math people. I'm wishing extra passes with the seam ripper on both your houses.)

  • An iron. Oh, you don't iron? Yes, you do. Trust me, you do. If you don't, there's no point in continuing. Now if you're one of those dreadful, I don't iron people, I totally get you. I used to be there. But let me say this as gently as I can. Nothing you sew will ever look quit as nice as it could, no matter how carefully you try if you continue to hide from your iron. I pinky promise I will allow you to take short cuts where you can, I often do myself. But you can't skip ironing, okay? You just can't. If you do, I don't want to hear about it. 

  • Sewing gauge and/or measuring tape. Did I mention there's quite a bit of measuring? Because there's quite a bit of measuring. Be brave, be strong! You can do it!

So there, you're good, right?

Alrighty then.

Next up: The Materials List! I will try to post that tomorrow but it might not be until I get home from church. It's probably not a good sign that I'm starting this off with an apology but I thank you for sticking with me. We shall have bags, I swear it!

Let's do this.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Mary Poppins Bag:

** Quick note **

Turns out I'm moving. I'm not sure when but it's only a local move so maybe I'll get lucky and keep both my hair or my sanity. This also means it's possible the sewalong could get held up at certain parts but I will try my best to keep up as I can. I hope you'll have patience with me or at least be creative if you want to leave cranky comments to convey your abject disappointment in my overall uselessness. I'm particularly fond of gifs if you've noticed so feel free to express yourself accordingly.

Now that we've finished that part, let's get to the business.

Photograph from The June Bride
First things first, this thing is a beast. My hardware arrived in the mail from The June Bride and it was only then that I realized I could probably fit a toddler in this thing. It just so happens I have a toddler so this isn't exactly a bad thing. Strollers are rather unwieldy, don't you think? Of course hanging a toddler from your clavicle isn't exactly comfortable, but I digress. I'm just not good picturing things even when provided dimensions. I had to see it in my hand first and once I did, as you can see, a toddler.

If you aren't interested in carrying around a toddler, you can resize this bag to suit your purposes. You'll just need to scare up a smaller frame. Etsy carries quite a few, even some larger ones if you have some preteens in need of handcrafted transportation. The pattern provides directions for changing the size of your bag. They seem easy enough to follow if you're willing to do the math. I hate math but I'm willing to do the math for you if you leave me a comment letting me know what size you're constructing. Otherwise, I'm going to assume you're cool with having extra room for Lindor chocolate and the occasional hard to resist bit of fabric from the remnant bin at Joann's. Just make sure you take the chocolate out of the bag before you leave it in the hot Georgia heat and go getting smooth yumminess all over your handmade creation.

Rabbit sized?

Secondly, the wallet pattern isn't included. Now maybe you read better than I do and already knew that. But I was apparently blinded by the cute pockets and irresistible shape and didn't notice. I want a wallet though so after we've turned out this magnificent bag (don't worry, it will be fabulous) I'll see about finding a pattern and continuing our little sewalong.

Tomorrow we shall discuss what you need to be all ready for my birthday. In the meantime, if you haven't ordered your hardware, please do so now. You're looking for a tubular bag frame, six d rings, and two 1 1/4in swivel clips. The ones from June Bride are a really great weight, consistent in look and feel nice in your hand. Admittedly I don't know much about d rings and swivel clips though so you may very well find something that works at your local craft store or via an online seller.

I'm getting more excited the closer we get to sew time. My bag is going to be rose faux leather and gray velveteen. I need to some help to pick a lining. I've sworn to use my stash for this but I'm dumbstruck with indecision. Regardless, I'm already convinced of my bag's awesomeness. I will keep the secret of life in its little depths and we shall never be parted from each other.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou: Phenomenal Woman and an Elegant Lady of Color

It's been a while since I featured an ELoC on here and the death of Maya Angelou seemed like the perfect time to bring back something close to my heart.

I confess I'm not much for poetry. But Maya Angelou's poem Phenomenal Woman struck a chord with me from the moment I first saw it. The words came into my life at a time when I was most unsure of myself, of my looks, of my appeal. They stuck to my soul like glue, forever solidifying all of the positive affirmations my mother ever put in my head. Here was a woman writing exactly what my mother had been telling me all my life in such an elegant, memorably way.

Maybe moms know what they are talking about after all.

I have to confess though, I do talk real loud and as a mother, I shout more than I should.

"'Cause I'm a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That's me."

Maya Angelou, 1928 - 2014