Monday, September 26, 2011

Purple Maxi Dress

As a vertically challenged woman I never thought that I could pull off a maxi dress but this dress has changed my mind!

Don't mind the weird kitty in the background!  The purple cotton lawn has a crazy print that obstructs the construction details of Butterick 5490 like the pleating at the bodice and skirt.  The bodice is lined in plain white cotton batiste and zips up the back.   
The unlined skirt is light and flowy and makes me feel like a million bucks. :)  Maxi dresses aren't so scary after all!  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Static Sencha Blouse

This is my second blouse made from Colette's Sencha pattern.  Version 1 is a very simple top that showcases the interesting fabric (teal, black & white ikat cotton lawn from Denver Fabrics). 

The back closes with five white buttons:

The hand stitching around the sleeve hems and back edges is fun to do for a change.  The white thread at the bottom hem looks a little weird so I might redo it with black.  At any rate, I'm hoping that this will be a good addition to my work wardrobe!      

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Navy Cynthia Rowley Dress

Pattern used was View B of Simplicity 2497 (a Cynthia Rowley design).   This looks MUCH better in person (not so shiny). 

Instead of using a contrast fabric I used purchased red piping to outline the yoke, waistband, and sleeves. Oh boy did this cause a lot of swearing!  The piping had to be hand basted onto the seam allowance and then carefully machine sewn with my zipper foot.

Seven Dollar Sheath Dress

I made this dress last minute to wear to a lovely summer wedding.  The whole thing cost me only $7 in supplies!

Pattern I used was Simplicity 2588 ($1.99 on sale from Jo-Ann)
Fabric was about 2 yards of brown and ecru lace-print poly sateen ($1.99/yard from Fabric Mart)
Zipper and interfacing was from my stash (free-ish)
Buttons from Ben Franklin ($1.00)

I usually don't sew specifically with the intent to save money but this is a great example of how home sewing can save a buck.

I loved that the pattern included pockets hidden in the front pleats of the skirt--no need to carry a purse!  The bride told me that I looked "very Jackie O." in the dress and I suppose that it does have a 1960's vibe.  I will definitely be making a variation from this pattern again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I hate wearing shorts but I decided to try making a pair using this BurdaStyle pattern. They are pleated in the front, pocketless, and zip up the side. The tiny blue and cream stripes gave me a headache while I was sewing!
Front of shorts
Back of shorts
Detail of front pleats

Bella helping with the photos

Now I just have to wait for warm weather to see if I'll actually wear them!

Marie Skirt in Blue

I gave the Marie pattern another try. This time I used a blue and white cotton canvas and didn't line it.
 Delphine is wearing it with the Green Slouchy Blouse because I was too lazy to take it off but I kind of like them together. The dark blue goes with many colors (sort of like denim) and so I have a feeling that this skirt will get lots of wear this spring and summer!

Green Slouchy Blouse

Last Tuesday was brought to you by the letter "B"! I made a blouse and baked breads. :) This blouse pattern was not my favorite. It came out looking like a uniform smock or something. The pattern is Burdastyle's slouchy blouse and the fabric is an iridescent cotton woven with tiny green and yellow flowers. The style would probably be more flattering if it was made in a fabric with more drape like a silk or rayon.  

Detail of buttoned sleeve tabs

Detail of collar
It looks much better when worn tucked into a skirt or pants.
Fresh baked boule

English muffins!

G.I. Jane Pajamas

I made these floral/camo satin pajamas as a birthday gift for one of my sisters.

Front of pajama camisole & shorts

Back of pajama camisole & shorts
I used Burdastyle's Jane pattern and polyester charmeuse from JoAnn's. The pattern was easy but I made a few simple changes. I added adjustable straps and I used bias tape to make the elastic casings instead of just zigzagging over the elastic as instructed. I think that the casings make for a neater look inside and out.

Adjustable ribbon straps
Camisole top with tiny bows
Shorts trimmed with tiny bows

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Plaid Peggy Skirt

So I know that I need another twirly full-skirted something like I need a pet pony but this one is wool so it is warm and practical! It looks like something Peggy Olson from Mad Men would have worn when she was still a secretary so it might come in handy as a future Halloween costume! I can justify almost anything...

I used BurdaStyle's Linda pattern (though one does not need to use a pattern to make such a simple circle skirt--just some math) and 2 yards of plaid wool lined with iridescent green/orange acetate from Denver Fabrics. I also added horsehair braid to the skirt hem for maximum oomph and twirl-ability.  

Skirt worn with my Poppy blouse

I did okay matching my plaids at the seams
I started this project weeks ago but had to be patient and let gravity do its thing with the bias.

This is what the hemline looked like after hanging for 2 weeks!
After I was satisfied that the bias had stretched itself out, I evened the bottom with the help of my dress form's hem gauge. I also tried adding 1/2" horsehair braid to the hem for the first time using Gertie's excellent tutorial. I'm a fan. It gives the skirt's hem some nice movement without being too stiff or puffy.
Finished hem with 1/2" horsehair braid and green lining

Close-up of the blouse colors perfectly matching the skirt!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Free Marie Skirt

Free pattern + Free Fabric = (almost) Free Skirt! 
I made this "tulip" skirt using BurdaStyle's Marie pattern (available as a free download from their site). The fabric is a cream colored stretch cotton jacquard that was a part of a free 10 yard mystery bundle promotion from Fabric Mart Fabrics. While the pattern does not call for a lining I added one using a piece of mauve acetate that was also included in my free fabric bundle. Now the skirt fabric won't stick to my legs velcro-style when I wear it with tights! This skirt was basically free to make (the zipper, interfacing, thread, and hook-and-eye were purchased but already in my sewing room so I am pretending they don't count).

This was sort of a success. I would recommend this pattern to a beginner because it is literally the same front and back, making it simple to cut out and to assemble. It's not the best look on me because I feel it's a bit bulky in the waist and the cream color is more for spring (I can just hear my grandmother reminding me about white and Memorial Day...) but I'm going to rock it anyway with black tights, black patent booties and a black long sleeved embellished t-shirt! If I'm going to break Grammy's fashion rules then I might as well make the offending garment front and center. :) 

A Good Learning Experience
This was the first Burda skirt pattern I have made and I was not sure which size to select. I made a 40 and it is way too big to sit at my natural waist. I will alter this skirt some day when I'm in the mood. When I made my next skirt from a Burda pattern I cut a 38 and the fit was much better (I haven't blogged about that one yet because it has been hanging for a few weeks to let the bias stretch before I hem it). I also reached a milestone with this Marie skirt--my first invisible zipper to be properly installed on the first attempt! I did a little happy dance. 
Successful invisible zipper!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Karl Lagerfeld Ruby Skirt

I finished this skirt today after a lot of swearing:

 I used the Karl Lagerfeld pattern available on Burdastyle and some red polyester suiting. It has elastic in the back, in-seam side pockets and fake front pocket flaps. I omitted the front zip because I wanted to reduce bulk in the tummy area. I also added 2 inches to the length because other sewists had warned that this was a very short skirt. They must be a lot taller than I am because those 2 extra inches were not necessary! I am still deciding whether to take it apart and shorten it....

This is a close-up of the fake pocket flaps and the fabric-covered buttons I made. Making the buttons was definitely my favorite part of this project!
An overexposed photo of the button-covering in progress on the ole ironing board!

My frustration with this project was mostly due to the fabric I chose. I had to be very careful not to melt the poly when ironing the hem turn-up and front pleats. If you make this skirt please use natural fibers like cotton, silk, or wool!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thinking Spring

Here are two spring/summer dresses that I am planning to make at the moment.  They will both have pockets because dresses with pockets are my favorite.

I want to make the ruffle-sleeve version shown in yellow on the envelope (on the left) out of this floral poly charmeuse.  I imagine wearing it with the heels I have in both blue & red (yes, I buy the same shoes in multiple colors and yes, I live in fear that one day I will go out wearing one of each color like Helena Bonham Carter...). I might make a game day decision to first try the pattern in some white peachskin with blue brushstrokes on it that I have because I am a bit afraid that the charmeuse will be too delicate for an everyday dress...
Future dress #1

 I also want to make Colette's Crepe dress out of this graphic linen with a solid navy sash & underlined in white cotton batiste. The print seems very '90s to me (Tommy Hilfiger?) and hopefully its boldness will keep the dress from looking too twee (or worse--cute!). Of course there is also the possibility that the bold print will be entirely too large on my shorty mcshortypants self but I like living on the edge. Besides, I've never had a wrap dress that wraps in the back so this will be pretty exciting even if the print is all wrong on me. :)   

Future dress #2

Sophie Shrug

I have been working on several projects all week (cutting, basting, etc) but I haven't actually finished anything. This morning, in search of some instant gratification, I decided to whip up this rayon knit shrug using 2 yards of a rayon blend jersey from and this free pattern download for Hot Patterns' Cozy-Cascade Shrug. The last giraffe I saw was a Sophie Giraffe baby toy so that's where the name came from!
Front on Delphine

Knotted?  Eh, probably not.   

Bella "helping" me by being a pattern weight
I'm pretty "meh" about this. It was super easy to make and I would highly recommend the pattern but it's just not my usual style (both the print and the shape). I think at the very least it'll end up as a bathing suit cover-up, but first I'll try wearing it belted over a cami with some dark skinny jeans...  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Fabric!

I know it's nearly Presidents' Day but that has absolutely nothing to do with my recent red, white, and blue order from Denver Fabrics. My plan is to create a mix-and-match mini spring wardrobe. I don't usually have a plan so this is some real progress. I totally lucked out because the colors go together exactly the way I imagined they would (which is always tricky when you order online and can't touch and compare the fabrics in person!).
Left to Right:
-Red suiting for a (work appropriate?) mini skirt
-Brown cotton print (with little white geese!) for a blouse
-Navy & tan circle-print crepe for a dress and a simple skirt
-Red & cream rayon knit for a tank top or t-shirt
-Navy & cream pin striped suiting for some pleated shorts (not work appropriate)
-Navy & cream floral rayon knit for a tank top of some sort

Poppy Blouse & Green Denim Pencil Skirt

I am wearing this outfit right now because I finished up this blouse this morning just in time for the weather to get all unexpectedly warm! The blouse is made from a lovely sheer cotton lawn that is definitely meant more for spring but I couldn't wait! The pattern I used was Simplicity 2564, view C. It is a very simple blouse with kimono sleeves. Since the lines of the blouse were so simple and my fabric was so sheer I decided to use french seams to assemble it and I'm very happy with how neat and sturdy the seams are.
Ah yes, my elephant belt is the pièce de résistance, don't you think? Either that or the "vintage" hallway wallpaper is. It's a toss up, really.*

The pattern called for a mere three buttons but that seemed pretty dangerous to me so I went with five. There will be no placket-gaping if I can help it!

Obligatory button placket close-up: 

I made the green wool denim skirt that Delphine-the-Dressform is wearing last fall using Simplicity 2343, view D (minus the topstitching, which I might still add to it some day...).

* It is now my stated goal to photograph my projects in front of all the lovely "vintage" floral wallpapers present in our apartment. They are varied and crazy so stay tuned! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Christmas Vacation Shirt

This shirt is a belated Christmas gift for my guy (on Christmas I wrapped up the fabric & the pattern envelope for him with my profuse apologies). He has a habit of wearing a Hawaiian shirt to work on the day before he goes on vacation--even if he plans on spending his vacation time just bumming around the house.  
 Behold, the Christmas "Vacation Shirt"! It is made out of an appropriately tacky rayon challis Hawaiian print from Denver Fabrics and the pattern I used was Kwik Sew 2935.  My favorite details are the coconut buttons! So tropical!
  Here's a close-up of the collar details:

I like the surfing bikini-clad ladies! Woohoo!
I am relieved to have finished this project (thank you, unexpected snow days!). I had been feeling very guilty for not finishing it in time to put under the tree. My guy must like it because I barely had time to snap these photos before he packed it in his suitcase to take with him on a business trip!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sewing Goals for 2011

In 2010 I made something like 17 garments for myself (and several more for others) and I would like to make at least 25 in 2011. I hope to keep the following goals in mind as I sew.    

1. Sew more bottoms! 2010 was the unofficial Year of the Blouses and so now I want to focus on creating shorts, skirts, and pants that fit me well.  I have the hardest time buying ready-to-wear pants so this should be a very satisfying goal to work on. 

2. Sew at least one coat/jacket. I've never made one and I'll probably start with a spring raincoat.

3. Take time to make muslins. My excitement for starting a new project always overcomes the practicality of first testing the fit of the pattern with a muslin. This has recently led to a very disappointing Birthday Dress UFO (unfinished object).       

4. Learn more advanced techniques and select projects that challenge me. Some skills to master: bound buttonholes, welt pockets, flat-felled seams,   

5. Create clothes that thoughtfully complement my existing wardrobe. I tend to be inspired by crazy fabric (ahem, Lobster Shirt) and so my wardrobe is full of rather unique statement pieces. I want to spend time making more wearable everyday basics and thinking about how they can be worn in different combinations. This will be especially tough for me because if given the chance I would wear and make full-skirted party dresses all day, every day!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brown & Salmon Sencha Blouse

I made this blouse using Colette Pattern's Sencha pattern and some polyester charmeuse. I chose Version 3 with the keyhole neckline and tie. This was a fun project because it involved a lot of hand sewing along the hems and facings.
My machine absolutely refused to make buttonholes in this slippery fabric so I cheated by sewing the non-functional buttons on top of the functional snaps down the back.

This is another machine washable blouse that is in constant rotation in my work & weekend wardrobes. It looks as great tucked into my brown pencil skirt as it does with jeans and a cardigan!  I will definitely be making more blouses from this pattern for spring.