Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 5 Hits of 2013

Hi! Happy New Year, everyone! I know I have been MIA for a while, but I can never resist a year-end rundown or a hits/misses list. I haven't necessarily been taking an official break from sewing, but I have been spending a lot more time tailoring or altering clothes I already have. I recently took two HUGE boxes of clothes to Goodwill and it made me feel bad about how much stuff I have. So I am trying to make do with less. Also I have been going to the gym a lot lately, and I noticed that when I work out a lot, my sewing suffers. Conversely, when I sew a lot, my working out suffers! I seem to only be capable of having two hobbies at a time (and cello will always be my #1 focus). So without further adieu, here are my bests of 2013!

#5: "All The Way Mae Halloween costume.

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Is it unfair to put a costume on my list? I am doing it, sorry. I love this costume so hard. I ended up wearing it FIVE times. I went to two parties the weekend before Halloween, one the weekend after, and then I wore it to orchestra rehearsal the night before Halloween and to work the day of. I was so sad when I had to pack it away! I wish there were more times in year to wear a costume.

#4: White Eyelet Sewaholic Alma.

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I've made a couple Alma's in my day, but this summery white eyelet is my A#1. I wore it to death this year and I am already counting down the days until I can pull it out again. I love that it's simple but not boring for days I really just want to wear jeans.

#3: Colette Patterns paisley rayon Chantilly.

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If you would have asked me earlier this year what my #1 was going to be, I for sure would have said this dress. It turned out so nice, better than anything else I have ever made. The reason it has slid down to #3 is because I lost some weight since I made it and it's a little loose now, and it seems really daunting to try to take it in. So many seams! So much lining! It is still a great dress that I have worn a million times, but it's not quite as flattering as it used to be.

#2: Patriotic Vintage Simplicity.

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Based on my tagged photos on Facebook, you would think I wore this dress every day this summer. I probably did! I have made this Simplicity pattern quite a few times before, but this one is my favorite. This is one I entered in the State Fair (and won a ribbon for women's one-piece dress) so I made sure everything is finished impeccably. I hand-picked the zipper and bound every seam with a cute contrasting bias binding. Even though it's way too cold to wear now, I couldn't bear to pack this one away in my summer tub. It's still in my closet, waiting for a warm day.

#1: RE-re-make of vintage blue coat.

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My second attempt at remaking my vintage blue coat is by far my #1 favorite item! I wore this well into December and froze my butt off, but it was worth it. It brightens up every outfit and just makes me so happy. It's a perfect replacement for my beloved. Also, here's a bonus shot of my new short hair! It's been about two months since I cut it, and I still really love it. I miss my bun on weekends, but it still fits in a ponytail.

Happy 2014, everyone!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Poor, sad, abandoned blog. I have been sewing, just nothing exciting enough to post about! I have been doing a lot of tailoring of existing clothes of mine, and buying fixer-uppers at thrift stores and  eBay and working on those. I think I get this way every fall? I lose my motivation to sew and revert to wearing leggings and sweater dresses every day. I really dislike fall and I just want to be warm and comfy. One thing that IS exciting enough to share is my Halloween costume. You all know I LOVE Halloween, and I start thinking about my costume way in advance.   I have no idea where this idea popped into my head, but one day I decided I wanted to dress as "All the Way" Mae, and I was set. A League of Their Own is one of my favorite movies (and it was my first "date" with my still-best friend, in 1992!) Besides, I freaking love Madonna.

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My first mission was to find a pattern. I searched eBay and Etsy for weeks for the perfect 40's pattern, but I never found one that was quite right. They were either too formal, the wrong size, or too expensive. I set an eBay saved search for "double breasted dress pattern" and this 60's McCall popped up one day. It's a little bit too big, but for $6 I decided to work with it. I also found 3 yards of peach cotton twill on eBay.

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Finding the uniform's patches proved to be difficult. I tried to find official ones, but I think they either don't exist or I missed the boat. I ended up outsourcing someone on Etsy to embroider the dress and hat for me. It didn't cost that much, either! I found the socks at Target, the belt and shoes at Goodwill, and I made the red cotton shorts.

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I hadn't planned on wearing a wig, but I cut my hair really short a week ago. 8'!!! I wasn't going to go so short, but my stylist said a couple more inches and I could donate it, so I said do it. I really love it! It's super cute and takes like 3 minutes to style. And I found pretty much the perfect wig. It was a "burlesque girl" wig, and it had the perfect curls and rolled bangs.

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I loved this costume so much!! I am going out again this Saturday just so I can wear it again. I kind of want to wear it to work on Thursday, too. I got so many compliments! And I wish I had kept tally of guys who yelled "There's no crying in baseball!" at me. Haha. I still think Effie Trinket was my favorite costume ever, but I am pretty proud of this one, too.

I hHope everyone has a fabulous Halloween!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Introducing the Emery Dress!

A few weeks ago I had the honor of being a pattern tester for Christine Haynes' new pattern, The Emery Dress! It's been hard to keep it a secret for so long but we just got the go-ahead to blog about it. I was lucky enough to meet Christine this past January at Sew L.A. at the launch of Gertie's book. She was wearing the most incredible black, white, and yellow rose print dress, which of course she made. I am thrilled I get to make my own version!

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When she emailed me and said it was a 60's style cocktail dress, I knew exactly which fabric I was going to use. I bought this from Fashion Fabrics Club for my remake of my beloved blue coat, but when it arrived, it was the totally wrong weight and feel. I'd been saving it to use for a Jackie O-style cocktail dress. Okay, let me tell you about this dress. It's basically the perfect bodice, with endless customizable options. There's short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, an optional peter pan collar, and optional bow belt. I went with the short sleeves and the bow belt. I pretty much hate sleeves, but these were a dream to set in. It has the perfect amount of ease and I did both without having to unpick and redo anything.

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The neckline is suuuuuper flattering, and I love how full the skirt is. See? Perfect amount of poof!

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 It zips up the back with an invisible zipper, but since I didn't have one, I used a metal zipper and a lapped application. It looks real good. I unfortunately did not notice the line of fading along where I cut my back pieces! Boo! I don't know if I would have had enough fabric to work around it, but I sure would have tried. I don't think it is TOO noticable, so I will pretend like it doesn't bother me.

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I was asked to cut the size 8, which I did without making any alterations. I normally do a full bust adjustment, but I wanted to make this pattern as-is so I could send my feedback to Christine. It's a little tight and I could use an extra inch of wiggle room, but it's not uncomfortable. I'm already making a second dress, this time with the 3/4 sleeves, and I did do a little adjustment in the bust. The dress is also lined, and has pockets. I know a lot of people are pretty crazy for pockets, but I'm just not into them. It's not that I find them difficult to sew or anything, but they're an extra step and I don't really ever use them. I always have a purse, and I never really stick my hands in my pockets. So for future versions they will be eliminated. I wore the dress out for my Mom's birthday and I felt so cute in it! I got a lot of compliments too. So if you want to make your own super cute Emery dress, head on over to Christine's shop because it's in stock now!

Monday, September 2, 2013

One Pattern Seven Bloggers - The Reveal!

I was sewing up until 2 minutes ago, but I finally got my Macaron done in time for the big reveal!  I wouldn't say this pattern is difficult, but there are a LOT of small pieces, lots of seams (and lots of seam finishing!) and the pleats on the skirt about killed me. It was a lot of work, but I think my dress turned out really similar to my inspiration dress.

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I LOVE the bodice so hard. Dare I say more than anything I've ever sewn. It was such a treat to put together and I really took my time on it, making sure each seam was matched up perfectly and finished on the inside.

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I used the lace's natural edge for the sleeves, so obviously I had to disregard the instructions and just wing it. I also slightly lowered the neckline in the front and back.

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I think it's going to be a great party dress. I'm invited to two weddings next month and I'm sure it will make an appearance at one of them.

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 For the lace, I trimmed the seams to 1/4" and overlocked them. I wasn't sure how to bind the neckline, and after lots of failed Google searches for "sheer bias binding", I just used some narrow lace trim to bind it.

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So here's the deal. I LOVE the bodice, but I am "eh" on the skirt. It's really not my style, the short bubble skirt. I would like it much better if it was a little longer, a little more a-line, and gathered. I really want to love the whole dress, so I might actually cut a new skirt. We'll see.

I had so much fun doing this challenge!  I hope we can make it a yearly thing.  Please make sure to check out my fellow stitcher's Macarons because they are all gorgeous.

Rachel - My Messings

And now for the giveaway!  We had a staggering 711 entries and needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed (and thrilled!) by the huge response to our little challenge.  Thank you SO much to all of the generous sponsors and everyone who read and commented. 
Lil- 1 x Macaron Pattern thanks to Colette Patterns 
Josephine - 1 x Macaron Pattern thanks to Guthrie & Ghanie 
MaciNic - 1 x Macaron Pattern thanks to Stitch 56

Elizabeth - 1 x Pattern of your choice thanks to Sew Squirrel
Kathleen S - 1 x Colette Pattern of your choice thanks to Indie Stitches 
Joanne - 1 x Colette Pattern of your choice thanks to The Haby Goddess
Amy - 1 x $20 gift voucher thanks to Fabric Worm 
Sew Charleston - 1 x $30 gift voucher thanks to A Fashionable Stitch

Monday, August 26, 2013

1 Pattern 7 Bloggers - Inspiration

Holy crap, I can't even believe the response to my last post! That is definitely the most comments I have ever gotten. I'm sure that little giveaway had nothing to do with it. :) And if you haven't entered yet, there is still time! I sat on my copy of Macaron for a long time, not really sure what direction I wanted to go. For dressy occasions, I tend to wear vintage, but on the other hand, I already have a TON of casual dresses. I did a lot of Google image searching and looking at the Colette Patterns Flickr stream, but nothing was really speaking to me. Then on a completely unrelated web search, I came across this dress.

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The bodice and shape of the skirt is basically perfect. It's Valentino, and retailed for $3290.00. My version is costing me $28! I'm using an apple green silk dupioni (purchased with a 50% off coupon!) and a vintage lace tablecloth I already owned. I plan on using sheer bias binding for the neckline and keeping the natural lace edge for the sleeves.

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Don't forget to check out what the rest of the lovely ladies are sewing!

Reana Louise from Reana Louise

Rachel from My Messings

Sam from Buckingham Road

Monday, August 19, 2013

One Pattern Seven Bloggers - Revisited (+Giveaway!)

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A little over two years ago, 6 fabulous and talented ladies asked me to be part of their One Pattern Seven Bloggers project.  I was a sewing newbie, and an avid reader of all their blogs (seriously, if you are not familiar with these you need to do something about that!!) so I was honored to take part.  We all made the same Burda pattern and put our own spin on it.  Well, we're back with another challenge:  Colette Macaron!  I LOVE Colette Patterns, so I'm super excited it was the pattern we chose, and I can't wait to see the unique garments my fellow challengers come up with.  I am sure they are all going to be fabulous!

Without further adieu, the wonderful sewists joining me are:
Another incredibly exciting thing is that this time around we are able to offer a huge giveaway thanks to a group of amazing sponsors!
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 The Prizes
1 x Macaron Pattern thanks to Colette Patterns 
1 x Macaron Pattern thanks to Guthrie & Ghani 
1 x Macaron Pattern thanks to Stitch 56 
1 x Pattern of your choice thanks to Sew Squirrel 
1 x Colette Pattern of your choice thanks to Indie Stitches 
1 x Colette Pattern of your choice thanks to The Haby Goddess 
1 x $20 gift voucher thanks to Fabric Worm 
1 x $30 gift voucher thanks to A Fashionable Stitch 

To enter, all you need to do is comment on this post before Saturday 31st August with your email address!
Make sure you head on over to all of the other participants blogs for up to 7 chances to win!

Terms & Conditions 
  • Prizes will be randomly allocated to each of the 8 winners across all seven blogs. 
  • One entry per blog. You can comment on each of the 7 blogs for 7 chances to win (!). 
  • The winners will be drawn and contacted by email on the 2nd September 2013.

So, keep an eye out on the blogs of the other ladies over the next day to see their announcement posts, and remember that you can comment once on each blog for up to 7 chances to win one of the giveaway prizes.

Also remember to come back on the 26th of August for Inspiration posts and then on the 2nd of September for the big reveal!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Summer is really getting in the way of sewing. I have been crazy busy lately! We just spent four days visiting friends in Kansas City, and then tomorrow I'm off to Chicago for Lollapalooza. I get to see Beach House, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, The Cure, and Postal Service. I am so freaking excited, you have no idea. It's basically my dream lineup.

I did sew one thing recently, just a quick little sundress with this strange fabric from an estate sale. I am not 100% thrilled with how this turned out (gapes under the armpits) so I might have to rip some seams out and fix it. I used the same New Look pattern as my Paris dress, but I made the straps longer so I could tie them.

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Is the print...nursery rhymes? There's geese. Fishing. A guy chasing a girl. 

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Speaking of sewing, I had entered 4 items in the Wisconsin State Fair. In the "Independent Pattern" category, I entered my beloved Colette Chantilly and I was SURE I would win 1st place. In "Adult Halloween Costume" I turned in Effie Trinket. I really thought that one was a lock as well. Then in "Misses One-Piece Dress", I entered my Flag Day dress. It's not the most exciting thing I've ever sewn, but it's well-made and I thought the judges would appreciate my patriotism. Finally, in "Misses Cocktail or Dinner Dress", I entered my New Years Eve dress, as a total afterthought. It's great fabric, but pretty basic design. I was not confident about either of those. Well, guess what. I won ribbons for the two that I thought were NOT my strong contenders.  I got 3rd place for the cocktail dress and 4th for the misses one-piece dress. I got to see my items displayed today!!

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I was feeling pretty happy about my wins! So I decided to check out the competition. Uh. I seriously hope I don't offend anyone with what I'm going to say, but I'm pretty baffled by the judging. Some things were really great, like this 2nd place winner in Misses One-Piece Dress. Super adorable. I would wear that in a heartbeat.

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The 1st place winner for Cocktail Dress was also super adorable and very much something I would wear.

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But, uh, this one (the white dress) won 1st for Misses One-Piece Dress. It's just a basic bodice with a gathered skirt. Any of us could knock that out in 2 hours. Maybe it's impeccably made? The scoring was 40 points overall presentation, 35 points for construction, and 25 points for materials.

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And this weird patchwork quilting cotton vest won a ribbon for the Independent Pattern category. I am seriously shocked that this is considered better than my lovely Chantilly, which in my opinion, is the prettiest and most well-made thing I've sewn. Boo.

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But then I saw what won Best in Show for the misses fabric garments division.

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I can SEE a pucker on the right sleeve cap. It's maroon wide-wale corduroy. So I feel a little bit better because obviously the style the judges prefer is very different from my style.   I don't mean to be a Bitter Betty, and I seriously hope I don't hurt anyone's feelings. I am really happy to win two ribbons. Just a little surprised I didn't do better.

Okay, I gotta go pick a Lollapalooza dress. I have two muslins done so hopefully I will have a real sewing update soon!