5.28.2015

sherbert

Brumby skirt & tank

Hey Gang! How's everyone's May been going? It's been pretty dreary here the past few weeks - there's been a lot of rain and flooding throughout Texas (I hope my fellow Texans are safe and dry and on high land! Y'all are in my thoughts!) but it hasn't quite been able to make it across the bay to this island I call home.  Instead we've just had endless clouds and suffocating humidity. Gross, but I'll take it over devastating floods... Yesterday the clouds decided to thin and allow some weak early evening sunlight through so I took the opportunity to shoot some pictures of my newest outfit.

Brumby skirt & tank

Earlier this month, the lovely Megan Nielsen sent me a note to tell me about the re-launch of her paper patterns and the release of her new sewing app and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the app along with her newest pattern - the Brumby Skirt (note - throughout the entirety of this post autocorrect kept trying to change "brumby" to "crumby" and it. is. driving. me. insane!!! end note).  I thought the pattern was cute and I have to admit to being more than a little curious about the app - so I said "sure" but there is of course more to it than that.

It's hard to imagine that there was a time when my blog roll wasn't stuffed to the gills with sewing blogs.  In fact, it's hard to imagine that there was a time when I wasn't even really aware that such a thing as a sewing blog existed - but as incredible as it may seem, dear reader, there was such a time. In this younger, naive-er plane of existence I was the voracious consumer of the Personal Style Blog. I loved to click through the images of women putting together outfits from their own closets. Even if my own wasn't nearly as extensive or creative, I found the different looks, the signature way these women wore clothes, and watching the evolution of trends emerge to be both aspirational and inspirational.  Fashion blogs (along with a myriad of other, much more personal circumstances) led me to sewing my own wardrobe.  It was through this channel that I discovered a certain Megan Nielsen.  I remember when Megan released her first ready-to-wear collection, and I remember when her business began to evolve into sewing patterns at practically the same time that my thoughts were turning towards a handmade wardrobe.  It was zeitgeist! I think it's for this reason that I will always feel a special kinship with Megan.  As a reader, I made the evolution from the fashion blog world, to the sewing blog world in tandem with Megan, and for both of us it was here that we found our home.

Brumby skirt & tank

So it's with great pleasure that I present to you my Brumby Skirt! The Brumby is a gathered skirt with a wide waistband, an exposed zipper, deep pockets on versions 1 and 2, and three lengths - above the knee, knee length, and midi.  I made version 2 because I can't say 'no' to a midi skirt and I love a good statement-making pocket.  The fabric I used is some lovely cotton voile that I bought with my monthly Mood allowance in a cool, hand-drawn chevron print.  The colorway of the pattern feels very summery to me. Even though this fabric is somewhat sheer, because of the volume of this skirt I left it unlined and it works really well as a single layer.

Brumby skirt & tank

I think this pattern would be a really wonderful first make for a beginner.  I never really understood why people recommend learning to sew by making things like pillow cases or curtains when there are such cute patterns like this one out there that are easy and have a really impressive, wearable, and stylish result. Plus, you'll learn a few tricks, like gathering and setting in a zipper.  I mean, if you really love pillow cases and curtains, than you do you friend! But this isn't all that much more difficult, and  -  look how cute!! 

For my purposes, I could see myself wearing the midi version just as I'm wearing it here - as a casual summer look.  I really prefer dresses and skirts in the summer, but I don't always want to feel like I'm dressed to the nines, so this is a nice medium.  I can also see myself using this pattern to swap out with other dress bodices from my stash. So even though I feel like a gathered skirt might be the kind of thing I could draft up myself, it's always nice to have the option of a professional pattern ready to go.

Brumby skirt & tankBrumby skirt & tank

I feel like a big part of Megan's re-launch has been about thinking about the way sewers actually use their patterns.  Her new paper patterns are not all that different from the Big 4 patterns we're all familiar with - they're printed on a thin white tissue and come folded in a paper envelope along with a page of instructions printed on a slightly heavier newsprint.  I know this is highly subjective, but I actually really like this type of packaging. It's certainly not made to look pretty on a shelf, but it's unfussy and functional, and quite frankly, both of those things are more important to me in my sewing patterns than designer packaging.  

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The one thing that I do feel sets a brand above the rest is the quality of the instructions, and the extra information (sew-alongs, tutorials etc.) that they provide the home sewer, and this is where Megan's approach is pretty interesting.  The instructions that come with the paper pattern are certainly sufficient and straight forward, but she's also released her sewing app which acts as a companion to all her patterns.  In the app you have access to all the pattern specs, fabric requirements, and a neat little shopping list you can check off as you go, cutting layouts, instructions and other fun things like ideas for customization, and links to tutorials and sew alongs.

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For this review I just used the sewing app rather than the instructions that came with the pattern (although I gave them the once over just to see what's what).  I have to confess, I'm not the most technologically advanced person, and I wasn't quite sure how much an app could bring to my sewing experience.  But what this really made me realize is how often I do tend to look up instructions, tutorials, or pictures of finished garments on my phone as I sew.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  The fact that it was all right there in one easy to access place, rather than doing a million different google searches, was definitely convenient and really pretty cool. I think the app is going to be especially handy for those who purchase the PDF pattern.  I don't know about you guys, but I always feel really guilty printing out instructions and whatnot after I've just printed out 50 pages for a pattern.  It always feels really wasteful to me, so knowing that all that information is easily accessible on my phone is a big bonus.  I have to say, I viewed the app with some skepticism at first, but it really won me over.  Megan may have just discovered the future of sewing patterns!

Brumby skirt & tank

I wanted to make a quick little something to go with my Brumby skirt so I had a look through my stash and found this white cotton jersey of unknown origin - probably one of those things I bought thinking it seemed like a practical thing to have around and then promptly forgot about because... boring.  But it's really a pretty nice quality so I decided to do a rub-off of an American Apparel tank I've had for years and don't necessarily love but for lack of anything better seems to get a lot of wear. I tried to fix some of the things that bother me about the original tank, while still keeping the sexiness of the deep scoop neck and armholes.  All in all, I'm really  pleased with how it turned out! I especially love it tucked in like I'm wearing it here.  The original tank just had serged edges for the neckline and armholes, but I wanted a more finished look for mine so I used a binding. I think it's an improvement on the original for sure!

Well guys! I think those are all my thoughts on this one! I hope wherever you are you are enjoying some early summer weather and sunshine! And what do you guys think - does a sewing app seem like the future to you? 

xx

5.04.2015

tutorial: removing gathers from the minoru jacket

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Well it's finally here! This is my tutorial for how I removed the neck gathers from my Sewaholic Minoru Jacket, as seen in this post.  This was probably the most dramatic change I made to this pattern, but for a full outline on what I changed, please see the original post. 

Before I begin I just want to mention that while this tutorial is specific to the Minoru pattern, it can actually be used for any pattern where there are darts or gathers used for shaping.  The principles are the same, we're just rotating out the excess fabric.  

Also, these are pretty major changes to make to a pattern, so I highly recommend that you make a muslin after making these changes to make sure that the fit still works for you.  Obviously, these were the changes I made and they worked for my body, but, you know, we're all unique little snowflakes, and what works for me may not work for you.

Okay! Let's begin!

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Materials you will need for this tutorial:

  • Your Minoru pattern front, back, sleeve, and collar pieces, as well as all your lining pieces (For the sake of brevity I will only be showing you how to adjust the Minoru front and sleeve in this tutorial, but the steps are the same for the back and lining pieces).
  • A roll of tracing paper or parchment paper or some other sort of see-through paper for tracing
  • Tape (I'm using electrical tape because it's what I had on hand... don't ask)
  • Scissors
  • A straight edge/ruler
  • Measuring tape and Seam gauge
  • Pens/Pencils 
  • French curve (not pictured)
Note: Most of my measurements for this tutorial are in centimeters. I just find it easier when I'm doing pattern adjustments.


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1) Start out by tracing your Minoru front and transfer all the markings, including grainline, guide for waist elastic, notches etc.

2) Using a seam gauge or ruler mark the stitching line along the side seam, raglan seam, and neckline.  The Minoru uses a 5/8" seam allowance so you'll want to measure in from the cutting line 5/8".  No need to mark the seam allowance on the center front. Transfer all markings as best as you can to this new line.

3) Cut out your pattern on the stitching line, all the way around.

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Now we have to use some math to figure out how much fabric the gathers pull in, and therefore how much to reduce our neckline by. This next part gets a little tricky.  Please note that all my measurements are for a size 8.  You will have to do your own measuring and math for your own size, unfortunately!

4) Measure from the large circle at the neckline to the center front.  On my pattern that measurement is 4.3cm.  This is the part of the neckline that does not get gathered.

5) Measure from the large circle to the raglan seam.  On my pattern that measures 8.5cm.  This is the area that does get gathered, and therefore the area that we will focus our adjustments on.

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6) Now do the same thing for the sleeve, measuring the distance on either side of the notch at the top of the sleeve, omitting the seam allowances.  You can see I drew little dashes for where the seam allowances are.  Also note that you can tell the front and back of the sleeve based on the notches on the raglan seam - there is one notch for the front, and two notches for the back.  So the front half of my sleeve measures 10.5cm at the neckline, and the back half measures 8cm.

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7) Now find the pattern piece for the collar.  There are three notches on the bottom of the collar.  One at the center back, one in the middle, and one towards the front.  The notch in the middle corresponds to the notch at the neckline of your sleeve.  Measure in from the center front (the side not marked "cut on fold") the same distance as the ungathered portion of your jacket front (4.3cm) and make a mark.  Now measure the distance from that mark to the sleeve notch.  On my pattern this is 12cm.  This distance is the distance that we have to get the gathered portion of the jacket front and the front of the sleeve to fit into.
Note: you will be doing the same thing for the back measurements, but as I said earlier, I'll only be showing you the front.

8) Now comes the math part: 
gathered part of jacket front + front of sleeve = total length of front gathers
8.5cm + 10.5cm = 19cm

total length of front gathers - distance between sleeve notch and mark from step 7 = amount that needs to be removed 
19cm - 12cm = 7cm

divide by 2 = 3.5 cm

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You will need to remove this figure (3.5cm)  from both the jacket front and the sleeve front.  

Fun (sorta) fact - I found that the gathering ratio was exactly the same all around the Minoru.  So for me, 3.5cm was the amount that I removed from the jacket front, back and both sides of the sleeve.  Of course I have no idea if this is true for all sizes, so to be safe, do the math (I'm sorry!)

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Okay! No more math! I promise!

9) Draw a horizontal line just slightly above the guide for the waist elastic.  This line should be perpendicular to the grainline and the center front.  Cut this line so you have an upper portion and a bottom portion for your Minoru jacket front.  Set the bottom portion aside for now.

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10) Find the halfway point between the large circle and the raglan seam (or half of the measurement you made earlier). On my pattern this was roughly 4.3cm. Make a mark.

11) Draw a vertical line from this mark to the bottom of your pattern piece.  This line should be parallel to the grainline.

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13) Okay, I'll admit that this step is not the most scientific.  Basically you want to 'guesstimate' the position of the bust point on your vertical line.  I just kind of eyeballed this, but if you want a guideline, measure down from the underarm about 1 inch or so and draw in a horizontal line.  Make a mark where the two lines intersect.  Honestly, I don't know that it makes a huge difference how accurate this point is.

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14) Now cut along the vertical line from both directions to the point, but not through it.  This should create a little hinge where you can swivel both sides of your pattern piece.

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15) Using the numbers we came up with earlier, figure out the new length of this side of the neckline, and overlap the pattern until it measures the new length.  So for my pattern I did 8.5cm - 3.5cm = 5cm.  So I overlapped the pattern until that side of the neckline measured 5cm. Secure with tape. Notice how this opens up a dart at the waistline.

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16) At this point I like to re-trace the pattern piece, smoothing out the neckline with a french curve.  Make sure to transfer all marks including the grainline, and your new dart at the waistline.


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I flipped the pattern piece over so it would lay flat. It is still the same jacket front we have been working with.
17) Draw a new set of dart legs from the base of the dart to a point at the underarm.  I noticed after I photographed this tutorial and went back and looked at my original pattern pieces that I actually ended my dart at a different spot on the underarm than I have shown here.  Originally I ended the dart about 1inch into the curve of the underarm on the raglan seam.  I don't know that it really makes a difference, but you may want to do it the way I'm describing rather than what I have shown because I know that to be successful. Sorry for the confusion! The rest of the steps are the same.

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18) Cut along one of the new dart legs just to the point at the underarm, but not through, creating another little hinge.

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19) Swivel the side seam so the dart closes.  Tape in place.  Notice how the horizontal "waistline seam" we created earlier is now uneven.  We've essentially rotated all the excess fabric from the neckline, into the waistline, and we're now going to blend it out.

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20) Grab that bottom portion of the front jacket pattern that we set aside earlier and reattach it to the upper portion at the waistline, matching up the grainline.  There is an obvious gap of fabric along the side seam now, but we're just going to ignore that and retrace our new pattern, blending the side seam between the upper portion and the lower portion of the pattern so it's smooth.  There will obviously be a little bit of extra length now at the side seam, but since we'll be doing the same thing to the back pattern piece they should match up.  Also, because we did not alter the markings for the elastic at the waist you can still use these as is.  Since the waistline of the Minoru is fitted with elastic (or in my case, a drawstring) and not very tailored, I think this is a good place for the excess fabric to end up.

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This picture shows the new pattern piece overlaid with the old pattern piece (ignore some of those strange lines at the side seam. This is actually one of my original tracings I used for my coat and I made a few notations along the side).  You can see how everything below the waist stays exactly the same, and how the raglan seam lifts up and in.

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21) The very last step for the jacket front is to add back in those seam allowances we removed back in step 2.  Remember that the pattern uses 5/8" seam allowances.  Make sure to transfer the notches, grainline, and the markings for the waist elastic.  The pattern piece pictured above is my actual pattern piece used for my jacket and reflects a few of the other changes I made to the pattern.

Don't forget to do the same thing for the jacket back, and both of the lining pieces!!


Now let's move onto the sleeve.  This is far less complicated than removing the gathers from the jacket front, since we're just going to be converting the gathers to a dart.  When I first started making adjustments to this pattern I tried to swivel out the gathers from the sleeve in much the same way that I did above.  However this resulted in a sleeve with very little "corner" for the shoulder to fit in.  Using a dart may not seam as neat as having a dart-less sleeve, but with a raglan sleeve like this it's really the best option!


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1) Start off by tracing the sleeve and removing the 5/8" seam allowances, just like we did with the jacket front.  Transfer all notches, and grainline.  You'll notice that I only traced the upper portion of the sleeve here.  That's because the top is really all we need.

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2) Now draw a vertical line from the notch down about 6 inches or so.  This line should be parallel to the grainline.  Make a mark about 4 inches (or so... I just kind of eyeballed this) down on this line.

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3) Measure out from the notch on either side the amount that you deduced should be removed when we were doing all our math earlier on and make a mark on either side.  For my pattern this is 3.5cm.  Remember how I said that the gathering ratio was the same for all areas of the Minoru? This means that I'll be reducing the front of my sleeve by 3.5cm, and the back of my sleeve by 3.5 cm (and the back neckline of the jacket).  But as I said, do the math anyway just to be sure.

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4) Using a french curve, connect the marks you made in step 3 with the mark you made along the vertical line in step 2.  Yay! You've made a dart!

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5) Now retrace your sleeve pattern, adding the seam allowances back in, and making a little bumped out 'v' shape at the base of your dart legs.  This is so that when you fold your dart back it meets up with your seam line and gets sewn down flat, rather than flapping about inside your jacket!  This is the actual pattern I used for my Minoru.  You'll notice that I elongated and changed the shape of the dart.  This was a change I made after making a muslin, and was done so that the tip of the dart ended at my shoulder point, and also so it had a nice curved shape.  I also make a note to "add more height" at the base of the dart.  You really do need a lot of height up there to allow for the dart to get caught in the seamline.

Don't forget to do the same thing for your sleeve lining too!!

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Okay guys!! THAT'S IT!!! 

Phew. I never said it was easy!! But it's definitely do-able.  I hope that it was helpful to all of you out there that have been holding off on making this pattern because of those neckline gathers.  And I hope it's inspired some of you to really make this pattern your own! 

If there are any parts that you find confusing just give me a holler in the comments and I'll do my best to clarify things.

xx

4.30.2015

just call me crazy culottes

Mood Fabrics

Hey guys! Well, I know I said I wasn't going to apologize anymore for being a bad blogger, but here I am, feeling like a bad blogger and like an apology is in order.  For everyone interested in that Minoru tutorial I swear it's coming! I didn't mean to go AWOL on you this past month, but work got busy and so forth and so on... you know the jig. But I haven't forgotten about you!

In the meantime, here's a crazy new outfit to distract you from my bad blogger ways! Look! Pattern mixing!! *runs in the opposite direction*

Mood Fabrics

This outfit is my contribution to this month's Mood Sewing Network.  The top uses this Ralph Lauren Dazzling Blue/White Striped Viscose Jersey, and the bottoms are this Famous Designer Navy Geometric Cotton Woven.  Fun fact: the mysterious 'famous designer' is none other than Anna Sui, according to the print on the selvedge of this fabric which read "Anna Sui 2012".  I did my best to search Anna Sui's 2012 collections to see if I could spot the fabric anywhere, but no joy.  Perhaps it was used for a garment that went straight to stores? Your guess is as good as mine. But anyway! I've got Ralph Lauren and Anna Sui all in one outfit! Not too shabby for a nondescript Tuesday/Workday!

Mood Fabrics

I actually picked up both of these fabrics with zero idea of what to do with them.  I just thought the blue and white striped jersey seemed like a handy fabric to have on hand, and the print and texture of the cotton looked interesting, and I try to make it my policy, when funds allow, to grab fabrics that look interesting regardless of their practicality.  Generally speaking, however, I'm more of a "buy your fabric with your project in mind" kind of gal.  So this was kind of an anomaly that I went for two fabrics with no intended use in one order. Although it may also have been serendipity, because after my fabrics arrived (and after the standard time allotted for "oohing" and "ahhing" and petting and draping around my torso in front of a mirror that goes into every new fabric acquisition) I carefully folded each yardage and set them on top of my grotesquely disorganized fabric pile, one on top of the other. And it was like lightening struck my brain! Seeing the two of them like that, right next to one another, made me realize that they were meant to be worn together as an outfit.  More specifically, as this outfit, the image of which almost simultaneously came to me at that moment as well. Now if that doesn't sound like divine intervention from the Sewing gods than I don't know what does!

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I knew I had to make these two garments, if only to get the outfit out of my head and into reality! The shirt was first.  I used Grainline’s Hemlock Tee – a free, one-size, 3/4 length sleeve, slouchy top pattern.  This came together in no time at all. The Hemlock Tee is a great pattern for a casual top.  I didn't really follow the instructions on the Grainline blog, but just put it together the way I normally do knit tops. To match the stripes I just put a pin in every blue stripe.  It makes for a lot of pins to remove while I’m sewing, but it also ensures that everything is lined up perfectly.

The blue and white viscose jersey was super easy to work with.  I sewed this all together on my serger, using my twin needle for the hem and cuffs.  This jersey has a super smooth, almost silky hand with a slight sheen. It’s surprisingly weighty for viscose, falling in deep fluid folds, making it perfect for an oversized tee like this one (although I can also think of a myriad of other uses for it that would be just as lovely).


Mood Fabrics

Culottes seem to be very trendy at the moment, and I’m clearly guilty of being bit by the bug! For these I used Style Arc’s Erin Woven Culotte pattern.  I love the deep pleats on the front and the way the pockets mirror the pleats.  I also love the jewel bright tones of this cotton woven and how they give these culottes a very bohemian feel.  This fabric has a very loose weave and a slubby, almost jute-like look, though with a much softer hand and drape.  It’s a bit more substantial than what the pattern called for, but I like the body it gives these culottes, while still keeping them airy for our sticky southern spring.

As with all Style Arc patterns, the instructions for these are minimal, and I actually took issue with a few of the steps.  For instance, they instruct you to baste the pockets in place along the top of the pants before doing the pleats, which as far as I could tell would result in your pockets getting folded up in the pleats.  Not only would this be bulky, it would also render those pockets pretty much useless! So just a heads up if you intend to make this pattern.  I honestly didn't fuss with the instructions too much since I've made a fair number of trousers in my sewing days and I'm pretty comfortable with the order of construction, and confident enough to come up with my own methods if I think the instructions don't make sense. However if you're new to sewing pants, these might not be the best ones to start with!  Or, go ahead and make them, just don't fold your pocket up into your pleats!!

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Because of the loose weave, this fabric frayed like it was it’s job.  To combat this I serged all the raw edges as soon as I could, basically right after cutting, and I used fusible interfacing to reinforce the areas that I thought might lose some of it’s shape with wear – like the center back seat seam and the pocket openings.  I also bound the seam allowances at the waist and hems.  This was mostly for looks, since these culottes are unlined, but also to ensure I don’t start to unravel after a few wears.
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While the fraying may have been a bit of a headache, this cotton took heat and steam like a champ.  I just love how crisp those pleats are! And the stitches literally sank into the weave.  Honestly. Like, I was crossing my fingers I didn’t make any mistakes, because I don’t think I could have found my stitches to unpick if I tried!

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I'm glad I got this outfit out of my head and into my closet, if only because it's getting kind of crowded in there - my head, that is.  Although, come to think of it, my closet is a bit crowded these days too! But truly, that is one of my favorite things about sewing.  Before I knew how to sew I still had all these ideas for outfits floating around in my brain, and my only option for getting rid of them was to search the stores to find the closest approximation.  This wasn't particularly good for my wallet or my closet, as it usually ended with me impulse buying something completely different, and nowhere near closer to scratching that sartorial itch.

Although, if I'm being totally and 100% honest with you guys, I'm not completely convinced on the success of this outfit in reality.  I think my shoes and that kooky necklace that my Grandma gave me are really holding it together here.  But separately, I think these are really great pieces.  I've actually been wearing the top multiple days a week since I finished it earlier this month.  And I'm excited to try the culottes with a more structured or sleek silhouette up top - like a crop top or one of my Nettie bodysuits. Aren't separates the best?!

And speaking of handmade outfits - isn't Me Made May coming up??

xx

*Disclaimer: As part of the Mood Sewing Network I receive a monthly allowance to spend on fabric which I sew up into anything I want, then blog about first on the Mood blog, then on my own.  The fabric for this post was bought using my Mood allowance. 

3.26.2015

30!

Mood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL Holly

Hi Guys! As you can see, the sun has decided to come out and play, and I've basically been walking around like this in a sun-drunk haze. It gets very awkward when you're constantly running into things, but Igottasoakupdatsun!

But, hey! Yesterday was my birthday! I haven't done a proper birthday post in... gosh... years. Not since I turned 27 (I still love that dress, btw. So pretty). But seeing as I turned 30, some fanfare seemed in order. 

Mood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL Holly

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be feeling existential or what, but I'm actually quite happy to see the back of my 20's! Don't get me wrong, a lot of wonderful things happened in my 20's - I got my BFA and MFA in Painting, I met Nick, got married, taught myself how to sew, started this here blog, and got to know all of you wonderful people. But it was also a decade of a lot of uncertainty and, well, growing up. I'd be perfectly fine if my 30's were a little less momentous! I know a lot of people have anxiety about getting older, but I think with each passing year I get closer to my internal age. You know how some people are 'young at heart'? Well, I'm the opposite of that.  I'm not joking when I say my true age is, oh, somewhere between 65 and 85, but firmly planted in the senior citizen zone. Which is good! I've got awhile before I peak!

Mood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL HollyMood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL Holly

But enough navel-gazing! I don't care how old you are, birthdays should always be at least a little bit about having fun and feeling great, and nothing makes me feel better than a new dress. After the sewing extravaganza that was my jacket I needed a palate cleanser.  So for my March contribution to the Mood Sewing Network I turned to some of my sewing favorites - my comfort food of sewing.  In this case it was a combination of gorgeous silk crepe de chine, a tried-and-tested pattern for the bodice, a circle skirt, and straightforward construction. From start to finish this dress took me two days, which is about as instant gratification as my sewing gets!

Mood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL HollyMood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL Holly

A few months ago I snatched up this Ralph Lauren Dark Blue Polka Dotted Silk Crepe from Mood Fabrics online with the intention of turning it into a sundress as soon as the weather warmed up.  As any fabric enthusiast knows, a good polka dot is hard to find! So when I spot one, I jump! And this is a good one.  The blue is one of my favorite shades to wear – a brilliant deep cobalt – and the scale of the polka dot is perfect.  Plus, silk crepe is one of my all-time favorite fabrics to sew with.  If you’ve ever been intimidated by silk, do yourself a favor and pick up some silk crepe de chine.  It has all the luxuriousness of silk with none of the finicky handling.

This silk is pretty lightweight, but still very opaque, which might mean it's, like, the unicorn of silk fabric. It also meant that I decided to skip the lining on this one, making this the simplest, slinkiest little slip of a dress in the history of dresses. I did use a one-inch strip of fusible interfacing to reinforce the opening for the invisible zipper, which makes inserting a zip into lightweight fabric like this much more manageable. But other than that, when I'm wearing this dress, there's nothing between me and the world besides a little shimmy of brilliant blue, polka-dotted silk! Just the way I like it!

Mood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL HollyMood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL Holly

I wanted to pair this fabric with a pattern that would be simple, timeless, feminine, and flirty.  For the bodice I used By Hand London’s Holly jumpsuit bodice, variation 2, which I made once before. I love the disco-vibe of the cowl neck paired with the skinny strap. For the skirt I just used a half-circle skirt, my favorite of all the circle skirts.  I think it has the perfect balance of volume and swish and   also body-skimming sensualness (can skirts be sensual? I think half-circle skirts can). After letting the skirt hang overnight I hemmed this skirt at my preferred midi-length using a narrow folded hem.  Overall I think the look is classic, and slightly retro without being overt.

Mood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL HollyMood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL Holly

For such a fast sew, I actually did a surprising amount of hand stitching on this dress.  The entire neckline and all the bias-binding was slipstitched in place (just ignore that bit of staystitching that you can see peeking out near the straps... Ignore it I say!). I happen to really hate sewing bias-binding by machine, I can never get it to look neat! So this time I didn’t even attempt it, I just stitched the binding to the bodice right sides together, then folded over and slipstitched to the wrong side, including the straps.  It was way more time-consuming than tackling it by machine, but it was also much less of a headache. And I don't know, there's something about hand stitching that always feels very zen to me.  And in the end I actually really love how it turned out! So much neater than my awkward attempts at the machine.
And speaking of those straps – the original Holly bodice has a regular spaghetti strap, attached at the back bodice.  I had intended to do this, but when I put the dress on mid-construction to do a test fit I just quickly tied them around my neck to keep them out of the way.  I ended up really loving the way the neckline looked as a halter so I decided to keep it like that. I can always tack them down later if I change my mind.  For now though I just folded over the raw ends of the bias binding and stitched them in place.
Mood Fabrics | RL Blue Polka Dot Silk Crepe | BHL Holly

I wore my new dress all day yesterday on my birthday and it really helped me feel great, like a modern day Sophia Loren. And really, what more can a girl ask for on her 30th birthday? Of course I also ended up enjoying so many sweets and drinks and decadent meals that by the end of the day I was more than ready to unzip and give up all pretense of any sort of ladylike or sensual airs. And my birthday ended as all good birthdays should - by washing my face, dotting myself with zit cream, putting on my ratty robe, popping a couple of ibuprofen and heading to bed!

So here's to new decades, new dresses, and sewing something that makes you feel great! Hope you're all having a great March! And if you're not, try sewing yourself something you love. 

I'll be back in the next couple of weeks with a tutorial for the Minoru pattern, so stay tuned!

xx