1.17.2015

reflections of...

2014review

Here it is you guys! The good ol' year in review post! More than a little bit fashionably late, but what are you gonna do? That's just my style...

I haven't done one of these posts in a few years because it just didn't feel right (read: I procrastinated writing it for so long that it felt a bit odd to post it in... say... March). But I always sort of regret it. I think writing out your thoughts on past achievements and stating your goals for the future is a really great thing to do every now and again.  And the start of a new year seems as good of a time to do it as any. So without further ado, let's get this rambling post started!

Warning: I didn't really organize my thoughts too much before writing this, so be prepared for a whole mish mash of thoughts on the personal and practical, sewing and 'real life', and everything in between.

Sewing

Mood Fabrics wool and leather coat

One of the biggest changes for me in the past year, and really since I began sewing and blogging (a little over 4 years ago if you can believe that!) was becoming part of the Mood Sewing Network this past year.  Having Mood sponsor my blog has been a huge deal for me, in a very real, practical way. On a highly personal note, making money is not something that my husband and I excel at. We live very very frugally and as many of you know, sewing is not a cheap hobby (although I do believe it is a much more economical solution to clothing consumption than my previous shopping habits, but that is a conversation for another day). That being said, there have been many times throughout the past year that I've been immensely grateful for that monthly Mood fabric allowance.  Without it, I'm not sure I'd have been able to continue sewing. Or at least not with any sort of frequency.  And without sewing, I'd have no creative outlet. And without a creative outlet... I implode. And besides that, I have loved getting to try out fabrics that I would normally shy away from.  There have been so many truly kooky fabrics that have crossed my path this year, and it's made sewing a real joy.

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A few makes I am still extremely proud of are my wool and leather coat, and Nick's selvedge denim jeans. I'm still shocked by how much use I've gotten out of the Nettie bodysuit pattern (see here, here, here AND here!) and wearing this dress makes me endlessly happy.

Going forward, I'd really like to aim for two makes a month. This was my goal last year and I almost made it (22 makes total)! But I'd like to keep my sewing directed as well. It's so important to me that what I make gets worn on a weekly basis. The whole point of all of this is to make getting dressed as effortless as possible. So with that in mind, a few holes I've discovered in my wardrobe are loungewear, workout clothes, and weekend wear. Basically the boring stuff! So keep an eye on THIS space (she says sarcastically).

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

Blogging

Oh blogging. First, let me say that I love my blog, and I love to blog. BUT! I always feel like a terrible blogger.  2014 was no exception.  Even though the Mood Sewing Network kept me blogging regularly at least once a month, I still always felt like I should be doing more.  It can get a bit difficult to be a part of a blogging community, even one as kind and compassionate as the sewing blogging community, and not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to everyone around you. It's something I feel like I have to be very mindful of.  Does anyone else feel like this? Please share if you do, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

This upcoming year I'm going to work on going easier on myself. Thankfully (and luckily for ya'll) most of my 'bad blogger' berating goes on behind the scenes, but I still catch myself apologizing for prolonged absences and making self-deprecating jokes about what a bad blogger I am, and I think it's time for this to stop. I think we can all agree that blogging should be enjoyable, no matter which way you choose to do it, and not yet another source of bad feelings for not measuring up in our lives! And since I'm fairly certain that these 'bad blogger' feelings are totally self derived, than it's really up to me to change my attitude. I want to have a long, healthy relationship with my blog, after all.

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This past year I gave my blog a little facelift. Actually, "facelift" is still probably too dramatic of a word for what I did... Really I sent my blog to the salon for a fresh cut and color and maybe a little makeup demo.  This was perhaps not the total site overhaul I would love to do one day, but it did make the space feel a little fresher and tidier.

In terms of content, I would love some feedback on what you guys would like to see more of here? Are you interested in more process or 'behind the scenes' posts? Life updates? I've gotten the odd request for a hair tutorial or makeup question, and while that's a bit of new territory for me, I'm happy to oblige... Let me know... should I branch out, or just keep on keeping on??

Knitting

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Oh man! This is something I'm insanely proud of! Learning to knit has been a 'bucket list' goal of mine for awhile now, and this past year, with the help of my supremely talented sister, I added it to my repertoire.  In 2014 I made two hats, one sweater (never blogged) and started another sweater. The only bad thing about knitting, as far as I'm concerned, is that it turns me into an insanely obsessive couch creature. Seriously.  I find knitting to be about 1000 x's more addicting than sewing, to the point that it's kind of dangerous. Like, if I'm not careful it might destroy all my personal relationships and land me in some kind of crafter's rehab (that exists, right? It should...)

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I'm itching to finish the sweater I started last fall  - hopefully before spring arrives so I get a chance to wear it! Although I might have already got distracted and started knitting another hat in the meantime. This is something I pretty much never do. I'm actually really hard core about finishing what I've started because I hate having half-finished things lurking about, giving me side-eye. But it felt like the right move this time. Like if I didn't take a break from the sweater than I was going to get officially burnt out, but this still keeps my mind in the knitting world... or something like that... Yeah okay, it wasn't really sound logic... and maybe I was just really excited about the yarn I got for my hat...

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My goal going forward with knitting is to average about one or two sweaters a year, depending on the size of the project, and one or two accessories like hats, mittens, or socks.  I think this should be doable... but I also have to stay mindful that I keep balance, or else come spring I might find myself melded to the couch... Another goal is to tackle some color work in the upcoming year! I think this would be a great project for some mittens (maybe these or these would be fun!)

Life and other stuff

One thing that has become a bigger part of my life in the past year is fitness. As someone who has gone out of her way to find ways to not move (surely I'm not the only person who is a champ at picking things up with my toes so I don't have to bend over? And chairs with wheels are heaven sent...Want me to come over there?? Hang on a second... *weeeeeee*!!) this is kind of a big deal.

I was actually pretty okay not being a very active person. I ride my bike at a snails pace the two miles of very flat road to and from work daily, I mean... what do you want from me? But this coming year I'm turning 30. Which is also okay by me. What wasn't okay was the fact that I was starting to feel like I was turning 50. Oy vey! My hip! My knees! My hip and my knees! Couple that with my propensity for shuffling around in my bathrobe and slippers and my fondness for knitting while watching British murder mysteries on Netflix and I felt like my family might start sitting me down for conversations about how they think I might be 'more comfortable' in a retirement home.

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My picture game has seriously devolved in this post... 
 So around the end of last summer I began to try to incorporate more movement into my day beyond my half-hearted attempts at yoga, which usually resulted in me laying around in savasana more than actually saluting any suns... I decided I wanted to try, like really try, no excuses, to make fitness a part of my life. I always felt like any attempts at exercise I made previously were always done in the spirit of punishment - like "Holy Cow! You ate all the candy corn again?!?!?! To the treadmill with you!!" So I decided that was the first thing that had to go. I wasn't going to exercise because I felt a little bloated. I was just going to exercise. Every day. No matter what I did or didn't eat, or how my clothes fit. It was just going to be something I do. Like brushing my teeth. Which I know sounds really simple, but it was actually a huge mental shift for me.

I always hesitate writing about any of this on the blog because I don't want to come across as though I've 'figured it all out'. That's not the case. I just felt like I wanted to write it out so I don't forget. And because it's become a part of my life and I like talking about it. So if you're interested in hearing more, I'd be happy to write more, but otherwise - Note to self: Keep working out. You like it. It makes you feel good. It also makes you a much nicer person to be around.

Phew! Long post you guys! The crazy thing is, I could write so much more! But I think I touched on all the highlights.

I hope this didn't bore everyone to tears! Is it too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year? Probably, right? Well whatever....

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Oh! And I wanted to leave you with this, because... reflections. And Diana. Duh.


xx

1.05.2015

furry

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

Oh my gosh you guys HAPPY 2015!!! I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season, and a fantastic start to your new year!

As you might be able to tell from the lack of my usual greenery in these photos, I've actually been traveling for the past few weeks and only just got back home.  Whilst visiting family and indulging in some cozy holiday relaxation, I decided to unplug from the internet and social media for a bit, so my apologies if I've been a bit MIA in the blogosphere as of late. Since getting back I've enjoyed perusing all your reflective year in review posts - so much great food for thought! I'm feeling inspired to put together my own for this year... look out...

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

In the midst of my travels, my December make for the Mood Sewing Network went live, and then promptly disappeared. I believe they've been switching over their server over there, so if you saw some posts pop up in your feed but couldn't get to them that would be why! And it looks like things are on the mend now...

This was a quick and simple make this month since I spent the latter part of December on the road, tragically separated from my machines. However, I really think the fabric here is the star of the show, elevating this from a simple raglan top to a special statement piece.

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

Holiday sewing always makes me feel weirdly anxious.  Being the willing citizen of the internet that I am, I feel like I get bombarded in the weeks leading up to the holidays with beautiful examples of party dresses, articles on how to put together my best holiday party look, and advice on how to juggle my holiday party circuit without getting burnout. Question: Who is having all these fabulous holiday parties and why is no one inviting me?!? Are there really people that have so many parties to go to that they get burnout?! I mean, I know I'm not the most social of butterflies (*cough*understatement*cough*) but, like, is the whole world hanging out without me? Yes. Yes it appears they are.

So because I am a mindless automaton, I think holidays = parties, therefore, holiday sewing must equal party dresses, right? And then Practical Sallie mule-kicks me in the back of the head and reminds me that the fanciest party I'm going to involves catching up with my Mom over a cup of tea. While I'm sure she wouldn't blink an eye if I decided to curl up on the couch in a taffeta and lace confection to watch It's a Wonderful Life, the whole scenario leaves me feeling oddly itchy...

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

So I put my social anxiety back on the shelf (where it belongs) and tried to come up with a compromise that feels a little special, but still allows me to kick back and relax without having to don pantyhose (because...ugh). 

And that, my best beloveds, is how this little furry top came to be. Aren't you glad you asked? What? You mean you didn't?? Hmm...

Okay! Back to the matter at hand, and all joking aside, I've been digging the whole 'fancy sweatshirt' look that has been a bit of a trend for awhile now, and thought that a faux fur sweatshirt might be just the ticket to fancying up what is, essentially, loungewear. And I just happened to have Grainline's Linden Sweatshirt pattern arrive on my doorstep not too long ago, so I thought I'd give it a whirl!

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

I ordered this Estate Blue and Black Faux Fur from Mood Fabrics online a couple of months ago with absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it. And when it came I couldn't stop petting it. No exaggeration folks, it is so SO soft. Like, I-want-to-make-footy-pajamas-for-my-dog-out-of-it-so-she-can-be-this-soft soft. That's right, I want to cover my furry animal in faux fur because.... soooooffffttt

Did I mention it's soft?

It also has a very short 'hair' and a slightly crushed surface, reminding me a bit more of velvet than of fur.  And, true confessions, I actually have a pretty big fear of working with velvet, or really all napped fabrics, including, I suppose, faux fur.  That's right. I have a furry phobia. (Let's all agree to just not google that last sentence, mmkay?) I mean, THE PILE you guys!! What if I crush the pile??!!! Oh the things we sewists worry over...

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

Isn't that fabric gorgeous!? That subtle blue and black animal print... that sheen... that texture! Sigh...

So how did I handle this furry fabric?? Well, here's my little secret guys: I did absolutely nothing different than I usually do with a woven fabric.  That's right.  That's my "expert" advice to anyone out there who might share my fear of faux fur - just treat it like you would any other fabric. Of course, if you want to get technical, there was also a fair amount of finger-crossing and making burnt offerings to the Fabric Gods going on, as well... I know, I know... I'd never ask me for advice either...

Okay, seriously, this fabric is 100% rayon, which I knew going into it. It has a very firmly woven backing, a crisp drape, and as I mentioned, a short hair.  I simply cut my pieces, as you do, sewed them on my regular machine, then serged the edges together to prevent any raveling.  I'll probably be finding little blue and black hairs all over my cutting table and in the gears of my serger for the next eon, but them's the breaks. I used a medium hot iron with a little steam on the back of the fabric whenever possible, and employed the services of a press cloth if I had to press on the front. No drama.

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

The pattern required some tweaking to make it work in this faux fur because the Linden Sweatshirt is designed for knits.  But, you know guys, I like to live dangerously.  I take fabric suggestions as just that: suggestions. Obviously a knit would be perfect for the Linden, but I felt like this slightly crisper woven would work too, given the easy sweatshirt fit of the pattern, and would make for a more boxy shape.  Plus, I always feel like Jen's patterns are so expertly drafted that they really hold up well to experimenting like this. The only place where my little experiment totally backfired was at the neckline.  The fabric stood away from my body in a most unflattering way.  So I took two little darts out of the neckline at the mid-point of the raglan sleeve and problem solved! The actual raglan lines are a little puffier than perhaps I would like, but at the point I tried the top on (obviously there were no muslins being utilized here) it would have required too much finagling to fix the issue, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to move my arms if I did. So we're living with a bit of poof. We're okay with that.

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

I made View B of the Linden, which has a cropped hem and a shorter sleeve.  To keep things on the luxe side I used bias strips of black silk charmeuse to bind the neckline and as a facing to finish the sleeves and hem. It's a very small touch, but it feels very luxurious.  I hand stitched everything in place on the wrong side so there are no visible stitches when the garment is being worn.  The seamlines really sink into this faux fur and become nearly invisible so it probably wouldn't have been a big deal, but I really wanted a clean looking finish and didn't want to chance it.

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

I really love the finished look! The shorter length of both the hem and the sleeves make for a really cool layering piece, while the faux fur still keeps me snuggly and warm.  I'm also such a sucker for playing with opposing textures this time of year and I love how this pairs with my faux leather leggings.  All in all, this was such a simple make, but it's also such a great statement piece. Definitely a nice, subtle way to dress up my low-key, party-free holidays! 

I really hope y'all had a wonderful holiday, that you got to spend some time with those you love and make a few memories to carry you over till next year.  As I get along in years I really start to cherish the holidays as a time to come together and show my love and gratitude for all the important people in my life.  So excuse me for being sentimental, dear readers, but I'd just like to take a moment to say how much I've appreciated each and every one of you this past year. You guys are where it's at.  I'm sure I'll be back with more new-year-reflections, so I'll keep the sap short for now - just know there's more where THAT came from!

Love you guys...
xx

11.26.2014

wool weather

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress 

Howdy Y'all! Well, it's finally sweater weather here in East Texas. Sorta. Off and on at least! Which means that it's time for me to do what I do every year around this time: freak out about my utter lack of cold weather clothing and start eyeing the blankets on the back of the couch maniacally, wondering if I can quickly drape and belt them into some passable semblance of clothing! Every year I feel completely taken off guard when the mercury decides to dip below 60 degrees (that's about 15C to all my non 'Merican friends).  I think having 9 months out of the year with triple digit temps does something to your brain...

That's why this month my Mood Sewing Network makes are all about quick, but warm, wooly dresses. I needed something warm, and I needed something warm now.  (Before the weather decides to return to balmy temperatures in a few days time!)

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress

My first dress was made using this thick and fuzzy Designer Wool Sweater Knit from Mood Fabrics online, which is, of course, no longer available. Those wool knits go fast dudes - my advice is if you see one you like, pounce on it, like a tiger, regardless of the seasonal appropriateness of it.  For example, I spotted this fabric back in early August - when just blinking put one in danger of overheating - and I think I must have been daydreaming about cooler weather because I had to have this fabric then. At that moment. I think Nick was a bit concerned when the box came and I proudly pulled out my yardage and started crooning over it's springy, scratchy, wooly goodness. Of course, maybe it wasn't the fact that I was buying wool sweater knits in the middle of August that caused his brow to furrow, but rather the fabric itself. It's a little bit like an 80's Cosby sweater thrown in a blender... I mean, what is with those colors?! And why am I kinda obsessed with them?

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress

Despite my love for this fabric, I had a bit of a hard time deciding what to do with it. It's quite thick, and scratchy, which means that whatever I made had to be roomy enough to wear something underneath, but not so big that I end up looking like the Michelin Man rolled in mud. I settled on variation 2 of the Saiph Tunic from Papercut Patterns because I had made one last year out of a medium weight black wool knit that I loved, but that sadly died a tragic death in the dryer (*sobs* R.I.P.) and I felt that this pattern worked well with heavier weight fabrics with a stiffer drape.

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress

Because this fabric was pretty lofty, I ended up changing a couple of things about the Saiph Tunic in order to keep bulk to a minimum.  First I left off the neck facing and instead just simply turned the neckline in 5/8" and topstitched it with a double needle. This made for a slightly wider neckline, but I'm okay with that.  I also left off the front in-seam pockets, which I'll admit was partly because of the bulk issue (4 layers of this fabric is a lot) and partly out of laziness.  Although I'm regretting not trying to find a thinner substitute fabric that would have worked, because I keep trying to dip my hands into non-existant pockets! I also omitted the back neck button closure because I remembered from my last version that the dress was plenty big enough to slip on and off over my head.

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress

Despite the thickness of this wool sweater knit, I had no problem zipping through it with my serger, which I used for all the major seams.  The cuffs and hem were stitched in place using my double needle on my regular machine.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about this dress, but after wearing it around the house and for pictures, I have to admit I'm fairly smitten! I love that the boxy shape is tempered by the short hem, and the horizontal seam at the drop waist does wonderful things visually to the crazy print.

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

But, you know, sometimes you just don't want to feel bulky all winter long! In which case, let me introduce you to my second wool knit dress for this month! This was made using a smooth, mid-weight wool jersey, with a nice amount of crosswise stretch, in a bitter chocolate color (I'm also not seeing this exact knit online anymore, but this gorgeous deep maroon jersey is catching my eye!)

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

Unlike the first sweater knit, this wool jersey was soft enough to wear against bare skin, so I thought a body-hugging silhouette might be really flattering. It's also thick enough and completely opaque so I don't have to worry about every little lump and bump showing through.  For this dress I used Closet Case Files Nettie Bodysuit & Dress pattern.  This pattern has so many great options for variations.  For this version I decided to make it a dress (obviously) and went with the high neckline for both the front and the back, and the long sleeve.  I was hoping the modest neckline might add a counterbalance to the curve-hugging silhouette.

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

This dress came together in no time at all. Of course it's a very simple design, but still, I think I wound up sewing the majority of this one morning before work! And I love the results. This dress is just so easy to throw on and yet still look like you tried. It's also warm, which was my main motive, and I think the bitter chocolate color is a nice, unexpected alternative to the usual black. I'm already eyeing more appropriate wool jersey to make more of these, because I could basically live in them all winter long.

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie DressMood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

The only downside is that it attracts fuzzies and hair like it's its job! So please excuse all the lint in these closeup shots.  As far as construction goes, I just zoomed all the major seams through my serger.  The neckline was finished with self fabric binding, and the sleeves and cuffs were once again hemmed using my twin needle.  Easy peasy!

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

And that's it! Two quick and simple wool dresses to keep me warm... for as many weeks as winter decides to last! Best of all, both of these dresses go really well with these mulberry colored tights I pulled out of the depths of my sock drawer the other day, and immediately proclaimed them the perfect colored tights for Winter 2014/2015! Okay, okay... maybe they are just the only tights I still own that haven't been shredded to bits. Yet.

What are you sewing to keep warm or cool, depending on your hemisphere?

I hope all my friends here in the States have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving week, and for all my international buddies, Happy Sewing, as always!

xx

11.11.2014

my gingers

Ginger Jeans

I need to be honest with you, friends, I could probably have filled this post with just pictures of my butt because, seriously, every single photo I took today of my rearview was just killing it!! And while that probably sounds like I have an insanely inflated sense of self when it comes to my booty, I assure you, I don't! IT'S JUST THESE JEANS!! 

Ginger Jeans

So for posterior  I mean, posterity, I've included some front shots too, but I just want you to know it wasn't easy!!! *Sigh* the things I do for you guys...

But anyway, Heeeyyyy! What's new with y'all? Did you have a good Halloween? Is your November getting off to a swinging good start? I got myself into a bit of a blogging rut after posting my last Mood Sewing Network make - I just couldn't muster the mojo to re-write the post over here on my home turf, so if you haven't seen it, let me just direct you on over to the MSN site.  Once I accepted the fact that that post was just not going to get re-posted I felt like I unclogged the drains and could finally move on to sharing some of these other makes that have been sitting around waiting to be blogged about! 

And first on that list are these white Ginger Jeans - the newest pattern from Closet Case Files!

Ginger Jeans

You know, I really love seeing women that I've come to know, and call my friends through the sewing  and blogging community expand, and grow, and take on new ventures, and find success through their passion and hard work.  And no one embodies this more for me than my pal, Heather Lou.  I'm just so proud of her and her burgeoning pattern business! And it's with good reason too - because each new pattern she releases knocks it out of the park.  And I'm not just saying that because I love her (even though I do) but I really believe that each of her patterns possess a little bit of magic that makes me feel like a million bucks every time I put them on.  Case in point: these Ginger Jeans have since been dubbed my 'sexy jeans'.  They may not be perfect, but that rear view is worth the title alone, in my opinion!!

Ginger Jeans

Okay, okay, I know you guys didn't come here to listen to me wax poetic about my tush and my love for Heather, so let me tell you a bit about the actual pants you see before you.  First of all, Heather asked me to test this pattern, and I said 'yes' because I love making jeans, and I love wearing jeans, and I love learning about jeans, and because - duh - she's my girl! (Okay, I'm done, I swear... well maybe not...) So the jeans in this post are my test version.

Ginger Jeans

I used a moderately stretchy, mid-weight denim that I picked up with my Mood allowance.  Funny thing about these jeans - this is actually the wrong side of the denim! The right side of the denim was described on the Mood site as being a 'burnished gold', and of course, me being me, I thought "oooh gold jeans!!!" and clicked 'buy' without a second thought. Then the denim arrived and, much to my dismay, they weren't so much 'gold' in real life as they were a sad, slightly greenish, khaki color. Boo.  (To be fair, had I gotten past the 'gold' descriptor and gone on to read the rest of the color description I might not have been so disappointed) I was all resigned to just make them up as a muslin that never saw the light of day, when I had the sudden brainwave to use the wrong side of the fabric, which is this pretty normal looking white color you see before you. Total save!

Ginger Jeans

I'm no novice to jeans making - in fact these Ginger's will make my sixth pair of handmade jeans.  And I really have to say, it's one of the things I love to make the most.  I just get so much satisfaction out of all the topstitching and details, and I really enjoy knowing that I'm making something that will get a lot of love and wear.  For my test version of the Ginger Jeans pattern I made View B - the high-waisted and skinny leg variation.  I chose this style for two reasons: 1) I love a good high rise for their vintage-y sexy look and 2) My hacked-to-pieces Built By Wendy pattern that I've been using to make my own jeans pretty closely resembles View A and I was looking for something a little different.  I cut a size 6 for these, which is a size smaller than what I've cut in Heather's patterns in the past.  My measurements were a bit all over the place - a 6 in the waist and a 10 in the hips.  I gambled by cutting the 6 and sewing the hips and legs at a 3/8" SA instead of the instructed 5/8".  The resulting fit is very close, but they're still comfy (stretch denim is a beautiful thing)!

Ginger Jeans

I really love the fit of these! I'm sorry, I have to say it again, but I don't know what sort of voodoo magic Heather puts into her patterns because each one makes my bum look ace! I really only ever have this experience with her patterns, so... obviously it's witchcraft.  To be fair, I do have a bit of a camel toe issue with the front rise (I tried to pose in such a way as to minimize it's appearance in these photos - also, isn't 'camel toe' an awful name?) but it's not enough to make me stop wearing them in public. Also, it should be noted that Heather has made a few fit adjustments to the pattern after we testers gave her our feedback. I believe one of the things she changed was to take a little scoop out of the crotch curve on the high-waisted version to solve any potential camel toe issues. Of course, we're all such unique little snowflakes, no one is going to fit any one pattern exactly the same.  I'm sure I'll still have to make little tweaks here and there when I make my next pair of Gingers from the finalized pattern, but... that's sewing!

Ginger JeansGinger Jeans

Some of the little details I added to my jeans were this gold topstitching thread and copper buttons and rivets, all bought from Taylor Tailor.  And maybe my favorite little detail is the hot pink thread I used to sew the buttonhole.  This was something I did on my husband's jeans and I just loved how personalized it made them feel.  See?! There's just so many little ways you can customize your jeans when you make them yourself - it's like a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' sewing experience! 

I also have to say that these are some of the most thorough instructions I've ever come across.  Sewing jeans can be a bit of a process which is probably why so many people are intimidated by them.  Heather really breaks the whole thing down for you with the instructions, I even learned a few new tricks to add to my jeans sewing arsenal! And, of course, she's doing an exhaustive series of posts as part of her sew-along covering just about everything you could ever want to know about making your own jeans. Truly, it's a like a gold mine of jeans sewing information! I've long been an advocate of making your own jeans - it's just so damn empowering - and I love that now there's all the information you could possibly want all in one place.

Ginger Jeans

Let's finish off with one last look at that boot-ay because... I mean... hot damn!

I'm sure I probably sound like a Closet Case Files fan girl in this post, and, well, I am! But I also hope you guys know I wouldn't just rave about something for no good reason - I'm just really pleased with the way my jeans turned out! 

But I guess the real question is whether or not the Ginger Jeans pattern will replace my Tried and True Built By Wendy jeans pattern? You know... they just may! I most definitely need more of these high-waisted beauties in my closet, and if the low rise version gives equally good ass - then who am I to complain! I will say that I was able to get my dirty little mitts on one of the Ginger Jeans denim kits before they sold out, and... yeah. There's gonna be more Gingers in my future.

What about you guys? Anyone else looking to make this handmade jeans thing happen?

xx

10.23.2014

greenness, gathers, and gratitude

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So I'd like to start this post off with a little announcement, one that I've been struggling to keep in for the past few weeks, but I've been given the green light so I figure it's time to shout it from the rooftops!


A couple weeks ago I received an email from BurdaStyle informing me that I was voted as one of their Top 50 Best Bloggers for Sewing Enthusiasts!! I was so floored by this news, I can't even tell you! As so many of you know, sewing and blogging can feel like a lonely pursuit if it wasn't for the amazing community I've been able to connect with by doing both.  Every single person who takes the time to comment, email, stop by, lurk, or end up here by accident makes my day brighter and makes me so happy.  I love to share what I love to do, and you guys make that pursuit worthwhile.  So thank you to whoever nominated me for BurdaStyle's 50 Best Bloggers, and thank you to all of you who took the time to vote for me! I feel so incredibly grateful to have so many wonderful ladies (and gents) by my side, encouraging me and letting me be a part of this lovely community. Thank you guys! I love you!

Burda hasn't gotten around to posting the full list of all the 50 bloggers, but I can't wait for them to! I love discovering new blogs, and this list is sure to recommend some awesome new-to-me blogs! I promise to share as soon as I get wind...

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Now that I got that off my chest... let's talk shop! One of the things I love about all the sewing blogs out there is that they present a never ending stream of inspiration. Sure, this can sometimes be overwhelming (I never seem to have enough time or resources to make allll the dresses!) but it can also light a little spark that makes you want to try a style you never considered before, or dredge up some forgotten love for a particular detail.

This particular getup was inspired by some of my favorite lady sewing bloggers. Last spring, Morgan from Crab & Bee wrote a few posts about her love for yokes and gathers as a design feature, and proceeded to make a few, utterly lovely, garments that featured said yokes and gathers - such as this one, this one, and especially this one (that last one... sigh... be still my heart!) Those makes got lodged somewhere in my brain, and ever since then I've been on the lookout for a good "yoke 'n gather" look for myself (sadly, that Built By Wendy pattern is out of print... *sobs*).  Then Mary from Idle Fancy went ahead and added fuel to this slowly building fire when she made two, back-to-back, swingy, artist-smock-esque tops, here and here. And then I remembered that I went through a brief period on Pinterest where I couldn't stop pinning looks with full, romantic, 19th century poet sleeves, like this one, and this one. And in a thunderclap of yokegatherbohemianbigsleeve mania I decided I needed to have all the things on One. Dress. Because I'll practice self-restraint when I'm dead, dammit!

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The result of said mania is the dress you see before you! This might be another one of those makes that just isn't everyone's cup of tea. There's a lot of poofiness going on here, and a general shapelessness that some might consider 'unflattering'.  As I was making it I was getting some pretty distinct "nightie" vibes from it, followed by "choir robes"... Hopefully this amazing fabric (more on that in a bit) helps steer it from "housecoat" and more into the romantic-bohemian-artist territory that I was going for. The pattern is Burda 10/2010 #122 which I selected as one of the five free patterns I was awarded by BurdaStyle (seriously hard to choose five patterns, by the by!) I changed the sleeves to be 3/4 length and added serious width at the hem by slashing and spreading the pattern piece to create the full sleeved, slightly 1800's, look I was going for.

If all of this is looking a little too Little House on the Prairie for you, don't worry, because this dress also delivers some serious leg!

(Complete aside: Is Little House on the Prairie still a relative cultural reference? Did I just age myself by bringing that up?? Not that I really care because I loved that show! It made me feel lots of feelings!)

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Those side slits are verging on indecent! However, I decided to go with it as a counterpoint to all the poof that was happening up top. I zeroed in on this pattern because I loved the squared off yoke (with the prerequisite gathers, of course) on the front, and the little placket and mandarin collar.  However, like most Burda patterns, the instructions are a bit scant. I love Burda because they have such a huge, insanely affordable, offering and they really cater to trends. I don't sew with their patterns nearly often enough, but any time I'm looking for a hard-to-find style in a sewing pattern, I always start with Burda. However, you definitely do not get the generous hand holding and lovely illustrations and thorough instructions that we've all been spoiled by with indie pattern companies. This wasn't a huge issue, since I've got a nice bit of sewing under my belt at this point, but in the future I think I'll trust my gut more and follow my own sewing instincts rather than trying to decode the included instructions.  It took me sewing the front placket according to their instructions to figure this out though...

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Egads!!! Are your eyes bleeding?? What? You want to get in closer??

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The HORROR! 

Ah well. You win some, you lose some. I'll know for next time!

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I treated myself to this fabric from Emma One Sock (sadly, all gone) specifically for this dress.  It's a light weight silk that seems to fall somewhere between a crepe de chine and a habotai, and it's completely lovely.  Ya'll might remember how I was going on about green not being my favorite color when I made this skirt.  Well, that skirt must have started something, because I'm all of a sudden finding myself drawn to all sorts of amphibian shades! Primarily this lovely grassy shade.  But really, it was the print that sold me on this fabric. I just can't get enough of painterly prints, and there is something about this one that I just find especially lovely (it's slightly 'leopard-y').  It definitely wanted to be made into a voluminous, billowy, bohemian look! It was lovely to cut, lovely to sew, lovely to handle, and lovely to wear. The only sad thing is that I've used it all up! 

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I wish I had had enough fabric to make bias tape to face the curved hem (and keep a bit more length) like Rochelle and Lauren, but I was literally down to teensy scraps (definitely filing this tip away for the future though! So simple and so genius - especially when you don't want to sacrifice length).  So I had to make do with a simple 1/4" narrow hem.  Oddly enough, sewing these sort of hems on lightweight silks like this one is (dare I say it?) one of my strengths when it comes to sewing. Isn't that funny? I hate bias binding (different than bias facing), but I don't mind narrow curved hems.

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Ah yes, and pockets! I'm not entirely sure what I plan on putting in these pockets, but it's fun to have a place to hide my hands amongst all those rippling folds. 

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Well my best beloveds, there you have it! My take on yokes and gathers and artist smocks and poet sleeves and maybe more than a dash of Little House on the Prairie. I had another length of fabric earmarked for this exact same pattern as well, but I think I might give Tessuti's newest pattern, the Alice Dress / Top a go. Or should I save that one for spring... what do you think?

And as a final note, can I just say how hard it was to shoot this green dress in front of my usual photo backdrop of 'some stranger's garden'? Talk about dueling greens! It's hard to compete with nature!

Have a great end to your week everyone! 

xx

*Disclaimer: This pattern was given to me for free by BurdaStyle, but I selected it because I loved it, and wanted to make it, and I'm very happy I did. All thoughts and opinions on the pattern are my own and not influenced by the lovely people at BurdaStyle.