Carolyn 1, Bleached Out Fabric Marker 0

Remember my first version of the Carme blouse?  Well, this is where I tell you that the little bleached-out dots on the pleating drove me absolutely bonkers after a couple of wears.  I couldn't wear the shirt without feeling like everyone was staring at those dots (even though logically I know that they probably weren't).  I ended up over-dyeing the shirt in an attempt to get rid of the marks and while it mostly worked they are still very faintly visible.

Almost like they're mocking me.

But it looks like I'll have the last laugh, though, because look - I made another Carme blouse!  And you can bet that I was very careful in how I marked the pleats this time.   No little bleach spots here.  Hallelujah!

As for how version 2 compares to version 1, well, mostly it's just better sewn together.  I fumbled around with the bottom of the neck placket the first time around and while it came out okay, it didn't come out great.  This version's placket looks much better.  The collar looks better on this one too, but to be honest I'm still not happy 100% happy with it and I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong.  If we come across each other in real life just don't stare at my collar, okay?

Everything else is pretty much the same as last time.  Same size, same length, same super-awesome sleeve tabs, and same use of Jen's tutorial on how to make the sleeve placket.

As for the fabric, it's a cotton lawn from Drygood Design, but honestly it seems a little thicker than most lawns that I've seen.  Plus there's a little bit of a sheen to the right side.  It was absolutely lovely to work with, though, and if all goes well, O's holiday dress will be made out of leftover fabric from this project. Blue's totally appropriate for a Christmas dress, right?

Glad you agree.


The Watson Bra - The Gateway Drug of Bra Making

When Cloth Habit first came out with the Watson pattern I told myself that I was going to wait to buy it - mostly because I've gone a little crazy with fabric and pattern buying lately.  But the fact is that I couldn't resist.  I loved the style of it and I was super-excited to try out a new bra pattern.  Plus, it seemed like the perfect way to work on some bra-making skills without taking on a complicated project.  And given the great sewalong that Amy put together in the past I was pretty sure that the instructions were going to be spot on.

And I'm pleased to say that I was right on all fronts.  The pattern is super-simple to put together.  The bra is incredibly cute.  And the instructions are great.  Win, win, win!  (One of the things that I like most about the pattern?  That she tells you what width and length of zig-zag to use at each step.  So helpful!)

Now I realize that this bra is not going to be for everyone - particularly those who need more support - but it works great for those of use who are, well, less endowed.  I guess there are a couple benefits to having a small chest!

As for the sizing I went with a 32C again knowing that this pattern was going to be a little more forgiving in terms of getting the perfect size since it's made for stretch fabrics.  I'm happy to say that the fit ended up being spot on.  The band fits great and the cups fit perfectly.  I was pretty excited that there was no gaping at the upper cup, a problem that I usually have with bras.

As for materials, this bra is wholly made from scavenged items around the house.  The lace is from a pair a pair of undies that I made and never blogged about.  They looked lovely (they were made out of silk and lace, after all) but they were super-uncomfortable so I chopped them up and used the lace for this bra.  The cradle and band fabric is leftover from the the bra kit for this bra and the hooks and eyes are also scavenged from my first bra attempt.  That bra isn't a great fit and I don't think I'll wear it as it is, so I figured I might as well reuse whatever items I could off of the bra.  The straps were originally purchased from Sew Sassy and are left over from my Soma bathing suit.  The elastic is left over from my undie making bonanza, although I should point out that technically I was supposed to use a plush back elastic for the band rather than a regular lingerie elastic.  What can I say?  I was far too impatient to wait for some new elastic to arrive.  As for the rings and slides, I just bought those from Bra Essentials.  I love the idea of having metallic rings and slides so I don't have to worry about anything matching or coordinating.

So not bad for mostly just using materials leftover from other projects, right?  Don't congratulate me too much though, because I just put in a big order from Sew Sassy for some new supplies.  I'm hooked, people!  Send help soon!


A Bra! (Otherwise Known As "Things I Make When I Should Be Studying")

Since starting to sew there have been many things that I told myself that I would never make either because I had no interest in making them or because they looked too hard.  Quilts.  Too boring.  Bathing suits.  Too complicated.  Shorts.  Too many fitting issues.  And yet time and time again, I've found myself making the things that I was sure that I would never make.

What can I say?  I'm a fickle human being.

So surprise, surprise, I made yet another thing that I told myself I would never make - a bra!  Now I should point out that it ain't perfect and I still have some fitting issues to work out, but look - it actually looks like a bra!  I've never been so proud of something that doesn't really fit.

Okay, now on the details.  After much internet surfing research I settled on making the Marlborough pattern which is a recently released pattern by Orange Lingerie.  I had read many great things about the Pinup Girls patterns but in the end I decided against it for two reasons, one being that the design is a much fuller cup than I'm used to wearing and I was worried that it would look too matronly on me.  The second reason is that after spending too much time reading about bras and breast shapes I became convinced that I may have a shallow bust which basically means that I don't have enough breast tissue to fill out a full cup.  Is this more information that you ever wanted to know about my breasts?  Yeah, I figured as much.

Anyway, that's how I decided to go with this pattern (plus, I like the little lace detail).  As for the supplies, I ordered a kit from Sweet Cups Bra Supply which is a US affiliate of the Canadian store, Bra Makers Supply.  They sell a fairly limited amount of items, but they do sell underwires and kits and you don't have to pay international shipping, so yay!  (Also, just a FYI that they're planning on having a 20% off black Friday sale).  The lace was purchased from this etsy shop

Once the kit arrived it was on to making big decisions like what size to make. I ended up not following the sizing directions on the pattern because I was coming up with weird size recommendations.  In the end I went with what Nordstroms measured me to be a couple months ago - a 32C.  I also made sure that the underwires that correspond to this size fit my breasts well, which they did.  I cut out this size without making any modifications and went to work.

All things considered, the actual construction of the bra wasn't so difficult, although sewing the channeling on was a pain in the butt and I ended up having to rip it out once.  Also, ripping out stitches on this fabric is a major pain in the butt.  I also ran into problems with the supplies because the kit is designed to be used with the Pin Up Girls Classic bra pattern where the front fabric goes halfway up the straps so you need less strap fabric.  As a result, the kit included half as much strap fabric as I needed so I fudged it with some leftover elastic.  Not a great solution, but it worked okay in a bind.  Also, the kit rings and slides are for 3/8 elastic, but the pattern calls for 1/2 rings and slides.  Not a huge deal, but just something to be aware of.

As for fitting issues, I think the first thing that I need to do is widen the bridge a bit.  I think that making that modification will make the cups fit better.  The band is fairly tight right now and adding to the bridge will probably help with that issue as well.  I should also probably pinch out a tiny bit of space in the top of the cup to prevent gapage.  Hopefully those modifications solve all the fitting issues.  The hard part for me was that I really couldn't assess the fit until the bra was entirely done and by that point you can't really fix anything.  Oh well.

I'm definitely intrigued by the whole bra making process and I'd love to have at least one bra pattern that fits me well.  I'm guessing that it'll probably take me another bra attempt or two to get there so watch out for some more bras in the future.

PS - Oh, and did you see Cloth Habit's new bra pattern.  I may just have to try my hand at this pattern too!


Simple Clothes For A Simple Gal


I realize that it's been incredibly quiet around here, but I can assure you that it's not from a lack of sewing.  Mostly it's from a lack of picture-taking, because if there's one aspect of blogging that I loathe, it's taking pictures - especially when I have to be in them.  For all you gals who lug your tripod around to find fantastic spots to take photos, I applaud you because I can barely get it up to take a picture in my living room (which is what you get today).

Most of the things that I've been sewing lately have been extremely practical and these shirts fall firmly into that group.  I mean, can you get more practical than a plain white tee?  I think not.

Both of the tees are made from the Plantain T-Shirt pattern by Deer & Doe and the pattern is every bit as lovely as you've heard it is.  Like most knit tees, it's super simple to whip up and I love that it flares out towards the bottom.  I sewed up my recommended size and didn't make any modifications to the pattern.   Because each knit fabric has a different amount of stretch the white tee neckline came out a bit lower than I would have preferred, but it's still very wearable.

As for the fabrics, the gray fabric is a soy organic cotton jersey from Drygood Design and it is luscious.  In fact, I went back to buy some more of it recently, but it turned out that they only had about a yard and a half left.  Boooo!  The white fabric is a Kaufman laguna jersey and I was pleasantly surprised with it.  It's actually a nice weight for this tee, it comes in a ton of colors, and all things considered, it's usually fairly inexpensive.  Score!

These may not be the most exciting projects, but I'll tell you that they've gotten a ton of use.  I actually finished them a couple weeks ago and I've worn them regularly since then.  What can I say?  I'm a simple gal at heart.


The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Let's start with the good.

I rarely work in Seattle but when I do it usually involves me complaining because I hate commuting and being away from home longer than I have to.  But then Drygoods Design moved their store to downtown Seattle and suddenly having to go to Seattle seems more like a gift than a pain in the butt.  No more complaining from me.

My husband - who usually has to listen to all my complaining - thanks you.

So I made my first trip to Drygoods Design a couple of weeks ago and picked up this lovely yarn dyed cotton lawn.  It's soft and light and the most beautiful color, but it's not overly sheer which is always my biggest concern with lawns.  I bought two yards not knowing quite what I was going to do with it, but it only took me a day or two to settle on Pauline Alice's Carme blouse.  I had never heard of this pattern maker until I came across a version of this blouse online, but I'm usually a year behind most things so that's no big surprise.  The pattern is probably more involved than most simple things that I make, but she has a sewalong on her blog so I figured that I would have a little help if I got stuck.  I have to say that when I first saw that the sewalong was made up of videos I kind of thought it would be a pain in the butt to turn to them for help, but they were actually really helpful in explaining some of the steps.  Apparently, I'm a visual learner.  Who knew?

As for the pattern, I cut out my recommended size but I added an inch to the length of the body because I'm perpetually worried about shirts coming out too short.  I also added1/2 of an inch to the length of the sleeves because some people noted that they wished that the sleeves were a bit longer.  Adding the length to the body was most likely overkill because it probably would have been a good length without the added inch, but better safe than sorry I suppose.  As for other fit issues, in looking at my handmade tops lately I'm beginning to think that I should be making some alternation to the back/shoulder area because it's a little tighter than I would prefer it to be when moving around.  One day I need to take the time to really understand fit and alterations.

That day, however, is not today.

I love the little pleats on the shirt and the fact that the pattern has you pleat a square of fabric and then cut the pattern piece out of the pleated fabric.  This way it doesn't matter if your pleats aren't perfect - your pattern piece will still be the right size.  Ingenious!  In putting the shirt together there were two moments that left me scratching my head, but the videos helped a lot with figuring things out.  I will say that I prefer Grainline Studio's explanation for making the sleeve placket, but that may just be a personal preference.

As for the sleeves, I debated about adding the tabs so that they can be rolled up since I'm perpetually cold and will probably always  have my sleeves down but in the end I figured that I'd try them out just for fun and I'm really happy that I did.  I love the little added detail and I love the look with the sleeves rolled up.  Honestly, I'm super-excited that this is such a wearable shirt - both for work and for home.

But now for the ugly - my fabric marking pen has decided to revolt against me and has bleached out little bits of fabric where I marked it for the pleats.  You can barely see it in these photos, but you'll have to trust me that there are little bleached out dots running across the pleats.  The good news is that I feel like the old me would have thrown a total hissy fit about it, but nowadays I'm too tired for such antics.  Mostly I just let out a big groan.

But help me out here, people.  What do you recommend for fabric marking?  Because I have a feeling that me and this pen are on the outs.


Doing It All. But Not Doing It Very Well.


Sadly, the return of school for O also means the return of school for me - which mostly just means, the return of the ever-present feeling that I have many things to take care of, none of which I'm taking care of particularly well.  Just the other day a lovely and well-meaning friend told me to cherish the time I have with my little kids because the age that they're at is golden.  Of course, she meant this in only the most positive way as she looked back at the changes that her kids have gone through in the last ten years; but of course, all I could think of was that I was doing exactly the opposite - over-extending myself to an extent that the little joys get lost in the big chaos.

And then I ask myself "what the hell am I doing?"

And then I just keep doing it anyway, hoping that one day I'll have some sense of clarity, although I'm pretty sure that that day is not coming anytime soon.

On the upside, hanging around with a bunch of twenty years at community college is endlessly entertaining and I always return to work the next day with some hilarious stories and an appreciation for the fact that I'm no longer twenty.  


A couple of wrinkles and stray gray hairs never felt so good.



Like A Phoenix Rising From The Ashes

I'm no master sewer by any stretch of the imagination, but I can look at most basic garments and have a general idea of how they go together.  Not so with this shirt, though.  The construction of it had me scratching my head until I was able to go through the instructions and see how all the parts go together to make that fabulous little front detail.  So simple and so ingenious! As if we would expect anything less from Liesl, right?

The pattern is the Weekend Getaway Blouse from Liesl and Company and it was released quite a while ago but I just got around to buying it from Pink Chalk Fabrics thanks to a birthday gift card from my sister (thanks, Debbie!).  The fabric is a Tina Givens voile from the Pagoda Lullaby line and in making this shirt it was saved from the wreckage of a failed project.  A couple months ago I attempted to make a kimono based off of this tutorial and let's just say that I looked nowhere near as cute as she did in her kimono when all was said and done.  The only redeeming thing about the project was that it called for pretty large fabric pieces so it was easy to reuse the fabric after  making peace with my disappointment.

As for pattern itself, I cut out a straight size 2 based on the size recommendations and I didn't make any modifications to the pattern.  Next time around I'll probably add some length because I prefer shirts on the longer side and I'll probably curve the hem a bit just because I usually wear my shirts untucked and I like the look of a curved hem better.  That's just me being picky though, because as it is right now it's perfectly wearable and perfectly lovely.  The pattern is so simple to put together that I'm imagining it in all sort of other sumptuous fabrics...like silk!  Sewing with silk kind of scares the heck out of me, but I figure that this should be a pretty easy pattern to try out my non-existent silk sewing skills on.  Wish me luck!

And here it is untucked just in case you were wondering about the length


All Grainline, All The Time

Alternative Title: "The One In Which I Blatantly Copy The Lovely Ms. Beeman"

Perhaps this top looks a little familiar to you?  Probably because it looks exactly like the version that Jen sewed up for her tutorial on how to turn the Scout Tee into a Madewell-inspired top.  What can I say?  I'm a total copy cat.  But imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?  If so, I hope she considers herself truly flattered.

Well, let's start at the beginning and talk about how this top came to be.  I know that I've mentioned it before, but I'm trying my best to work with what I have in making new garments this year.  That certainly doesn't mean that I haven't bought new fabric or new patterns in the last 9 months, but that does mean that I'm trying to be a bit more thoughtful in what I do purchase and that I do my best not to jump on all the latest crazes.  It also means looking at patterns in new ways to see how they can be altered slightly to make garments with different design features.  The fantastic thing about this project though was that all that work was done for me thanks to Jen writing a couple of posts about how to reconfigure the Scout Tee into this lovely garment.  She did a great job writing out a tutorial on how to alter the pattern and all I did was follow her directions (which were lovely - as usual).  I love the curved hem and the cuffed sleeves on this version, not to mention the split neck.  Three little modifications that make for one awesome new garment.

As for sizing, I used the size two in the Scout Tee but with the length of a size 18 garment and I'm sure glad I did because it would have been way too short otherwise - especially since you take some length off of the sides with the curved hem.  The fabric is a Kaufman chambray and is as lovely as everyone says it easy.  Super easy to work with and very affordable - especially since it's such a wide fabric.  I think I bought two yards to make this shirt but only used maybe a yard and a quarter.  Now I need to figure out what to do with the other 3/4 of a yard.  Oh, to have such troublesome problems.

Oh, and why All Grainline, All The Time?  Because I happen to also be wearing my favorite Grainline Maritime Shorts.  A fully handmade outfit?  Yes, please!


Alabama Chanin - The Sequel

Okay, let's start out by just acknowledging the fact that this dress is super-wrinkled.  I swear it's not because I'm lazy.  Rather, it's just because I'm a poor planner and I ended up taking these pictures after wearing the dress all day at work.  Just squint your eyes until you can't see the wrinkles anymore.  There, problem solved.

Now on to the details!  This lovely white dress - that I finished on September 2nd, just in time for it to be a fashion faux pas - is yet another Alabama Chanin garment.  The pattern is the short fitted dress pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing and Design and when they say fitted they mean fitted.  I cut out a size small - the same size as the tank top that I had made (although this time I didn't grade out to a larger size at the hips) - but this garment came out much, much smaller.  In fact, after sewing it up (by hand!) I tried it on for size and found the stitches under a lot of pressure in the bust area (and I don't really have a  bust area, so if I have a problem you know it's pretty tight).  In the end, I went back and reinforced those stitches with smaller stitches which ended up helping a bit and then I felled all the seams (by hand!) and that ended up helping a lot.  Who knew?  All that felling actually serves a purpose!

The hand stitching of the dress actually went by pretty quickly and was enjoyable to do.  The felling of all the seams?  Well, that felt like a chore, probably because there was a lot more pressure to make the stitches nice and neat because they're so visible, but I really love the dimension that it gives to the dress and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.  

As for the neckline and armholes, I used the cretin stitch to attach the binding once again.  The only real change that I made was to make the overlap of the binding on the neckline right behind the shoulder rather than in the back of the neckline.  The low back neckline is such a design feature that I didn't want a big old overlap right in the middle of it.

As for the fabric, I bought it from Organic Cotton Plus again and I'm incredibly happy with it.  In fact, it's taking all sorts of self-control not to place another order so that I can make an Alabama Chanin mid-length skirt for winter.  Right now self-control's winning.  We'll see how long that lasts.

Oh, and remember how I said that I wore it all day at work today?  Well, it turns out that this dress goes perfectly with the Ikat blazer that I made several months ago.  It's a handmade match made in heaven!


The First Day Of School Dress That Almost Wasn't

I'd like you all to know that you shamed me into making this dress.  Until I saw all of your posts on clothes that you made for your kid's first day of school, I had resigned myself to the fact that this dress just wasn't going to happen.  O definitely had an idea of what she wanted - "I need more long sleeved dresses" - but I didn't have any fabric in my stash that would meet her demands and I don't live close to any store that sells apparel fabric.  I had just accepted the fact that it wasn't going to happen this year, but then the guilt set in and I knew that I had to get my butt in gear, so we headed to a fabric store the Saturday before school started to search for some jersey fabric.  Unfortunately I wasn't in love with 99% of the knit fabrics that I saw.   So many were polyester knits and the others weren't particularly kid friendly.  Fortunately, stuck in between a bunch of quilting cottons was this Heather Ross knit fabric that just so happens to be 100% cotton and very kid friendly.  Now if it looks familiar it's because:

1) it's been used all over the internet and
2) I actually made O a shirt out of the red version of this fabric for her first day of school last year.

I swear that I didn't plan to use the same fabric for another first day of school outfit.  I'm a huge nerd, but not that big a nerd.

In an attempt to make O a nice comfy knit dress I started with the Flashback Tee pattern, elongated it, and widened it at the bottom.  My so-called attempts at pattern modification didn't go so well though. I tried to add gathers to the sleeves, but I didn't alter the sleeve enough so you can't really see the tiny, almost nonexistent gathers.

I also attempted to scoop out the neckline but I got a little overzealous and cut out way too much so I had to add gathers to the front to prevent the dress from looking like an off the shoulder Flash Dance tee.  Then I had some trouble getting the binding to lay flat along the neckline, but that's par for the course for me.  Also, the dress fits a bit bigger than I was imagining but that's probably because O is a string bean and I should have gone with a size 4, rather than the size 5.  The good news on that front though is that this dress will probably fit her for longer than a week.  Woo-hoo!

So, the dress is not quite what I imagined and doesn't fit quite like I would have preferred, but I seem to have a happy customer anyway and in the end, isn't that all that matters?

Happy first day of school, O!  You go, girl!

PS - You may have shamed me into making a dress, but you didn't shame me enough to make another backpack!  Store-bought backpack, baby!

PPS - Like the painter's tape on the door?  Keeping it real around here!
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