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 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!

Sewing For Summer At The Beginning Of Fall


I realize that most of you all have moved on to fall sewing, but you should probably know that I live in a state of eternal denial so I'm still firmly in the midst of summer sewing over here.  Hence, the shorts that I just made.  For the record, this is my third pair of Maritime Shorts.  Why another pair?  Well, my waistline seems to be spreading a bit lately (I'm not pregnant - I should probably just make that clear) making all my pants and shorts ride up just a little bit.  The problem is that this pair that I made is already on the short side so any additional shrinkage is causing some real issues in that we're quickly approach butt-cheek exposure area (an area that I generally try to avoid).  So, it was back to the Maritime Shorts again, only this time adding about an inch and a half to the length.

I love how the length came out but I probably should have taken into account the fact that I used a different type of fabric in making these shorts (oh, when will I learn?).  The fabric is a cotton sateen but there's a bit of stretch to it, making the shorts a bit bigger than they would be in a regular woven fabric.  Because of that, there's a bit more fabric in the front than I would prefer, but what are you going to do?  After all, they're not exposing my butt to the world.   You win some, you lose some.

Speaking of which, this is what happens when you try to take pictures in the backyard.

First you get one photobomber, who looks so sweet and innocent that you can't help but give her a little hug.

And then the other kid hops in.

And pretty soon it's all gone to hell.

The good news is that Ben's a good sport about it all.

Hence, this awesome t-shirt that I still like to wear.  I'm pretty sure that I have at least 2 more years before my kids start to tell me that I embarrass them.

Undie Making Attempt #753 (Or At Least It Feels That Way)


This week I turned one year older and I celebrated by doing one of my very favorite things - getting stuff done!  Doors painted, papers shredded, random piles of junk done away with, and toys donated.  Oh, and I sewed a bunch of undies.

This isn't actually my first attempt at sewing underwear for myself, but it is my most successful.  After trying my hand at sewing kid's undies, I sewed a pair or two for myself with some interlock cotton and while they worked okay, they were actually kind of ugly and they didn't stick around too long.  About a year ago, I tried again, only this time using the So Zo free undies pattern.  The fit was great but I'm horrible at sewing with foldover elastic so the finishing was pretty hideous.  I tried to make them again using a picot edged elastic but I forgot to add width to the crotch area to make up for the fact that you have to fold the elastic over, and let's just say that they ended up riding up in all sorts of areas because of the missing width.  Not comfortable!  And then about a month ago I made myself a pair of undies using the free Make Bra hipster pattern, but the fabric I used ended up being far too flimsy and having no recovery so the undies are kind of saggy.  Not exactly a good look.  I could consider all those project little failures, but the truth is that I learned something important from each and every one.

I learned a lot about choosing fabrics for undies (lycra is your best friend).  And about how to sew on picot elastic (sew as close to the picot edge as you can when sewing it on the right side of the fabric.  Oh, and trim your fabric after the first step of sewing the picot to the right side.  The undies end up looking much better that way).  I also always hated how the inside of the undies looked when the thread you used matched the outside of the undies but contrasted with the elastic portion.  Then I had an epiphany - just use a different color thread in the bobbin! - and my undies have been looking much better since then.

Which brings us to today and my undie-making extravaganza.  These undies were actually all made using the Ohhh Lulu Grace underwear pattern which was fantastic but is definitely geared more towards an intermediate sewer.  A beginner could definitely try their hand at the pattern, but they would probably just have to search the internet a bit for some tutorials on certain techniques.  They're certainly not difficult to put together - they just require some different skills.

The pattern calls for using a woven cut on the bias for the front and back panels, but for my first pair I used a knit for the entire pair.  The only issue was that this is a pretty flimsy knit without an lycra and when I tried on the undies for size they ended up being too big.  No problem though - I just went back and sewed all the seams with a 5/8" seam allowance rather than a 1/2".  Problem solved!

I did use a woven for my next pair along with a cotton/lycra knit fabric for the sides and the fit was right on!  The woven fabric is a voile leftover from this project and the knit fabric is cut up from a dress that I made and never blogged about because it made me look like a stuffed sausage.  The pattern calls for just turning under the leg seam allowance but I added elastic edging to the legs in addition to the waist just because I prefer that look.  The orange elastic is local from Pacific Fabrics and all the other elastics I purchased from here.

For the third pair I used fabric leftover from this project and O just thinks it's hilarious that I have undies that match her dress.  The side fabric is just a cotton/lycra fabric that is leftover from my children's undie making efforts.

The truth is that I may be addicted to making underwear.  I know this because I spent the last hour searching websites for things like stretch lace and plush back elastic.  Who am I?

Oh, that's right - I'm the gal with some kick-ass undies!