MMM ’17: Days 26-31

Well, I think it’s pretty clear I fell off the selfie train!  I did stick to my pledge, but became pretty bad at documenting it.  The previous week was super busy with preparations for a family party and my sister’s graduation, and on top of that I lost my blank white wall when my (other) sister moved back into her room for a bit.  Then the summer semester started and woweewow is it a doozy.  Five-week courses are understandably fast-paced, but I really failed to understand that I’d be grading labs and tests pretty much daily the entire time.  I’m two weeks in and already feeling the pain.  I imagine my stress also has to do with the fact that Ramadan has begun and I average about 4 hours of sleep a night now.  I’m gonna need a mental health day soon.


Anyway, enough whining from me!  Let’s talk about what I learned from my first wholehearted attempt at Me Made May.

  • I wore my Ginger jeans ALL THE TIME.  Jeans haven’t fit me this well since, um, maybe middle school?  Before I got hips?  Yeah I basically stopped wearing them after high school because the gaping waist and low rise were too uncomfortable.  I just love the custom fit of these handmade and high-waisted ones, though!
  • I prefer to balance volume on the top and bottom.  I feel uncomfortable when everything is fitted (like my Nettie dress I wore earlier in the month), and kind of sloppy and amorphous when I’m wearing something totally oversized.
  • I love colors and prints!  They seriously brighten my mood.  I remember a day in grad school when this girl in my lab was telling me a story about a drab friend of hers who wore gray every day and it made her (the story-teller) so sad (she was a bit superficial, now that I recall).  A little later I was in the bathroom and noticed that I had unintentionally dressed myself in THREE different shades of solid gray.  Not fifty, but still way too many! (Also makes me think that the story was directed at me personally???!!)
  • Posing for photos and taking selfies is really hard.  Duh.
  • I’m a recluse.  I rarely leave the house if I don’t have to.  I need more pretty at-home clothes so I don’t feel like a slob.
  • The tops I enjoyed wearing most often were fitted knits and looser button-downs.  The buttons downs are kind of a revelation.  I’m sorting through my stash for more of these types of shirt patterns to make up now that I know what I like.
  • I hate polyester.  Most of my work blouses are polyester and they’re terrible and static-clingy.  I want more natural fibers in my wardrobe.
All of my revelations in one outfit: Gingers, button down, natural fibers, balanced volume, comfortably casual, awkward pose.  There’s also little colorful specks in the weave of the chambray that you can’t see from afar.  Bonus natural face bc I had just driven 5 hours to NYC at the crack of dawn.

Since I have minimal sewing time for the next three weeks (until the class is over), I’ll spend some of my free time working through The Curated Closet and planning for projects to make during my break. Correspondence here might be patchy for a while, but I’ve still got a backlog of handmades waiting to be blogged.

How’d you all do with your pledges?  Or did you enjoy watching others make selfie-fools out of themselves?

MMM ’17: Days 12-18

We’re more than halfway there!  TL;DR: I lived in my Ginger jeans this week.

Day twelve:

Here are my Ginger jeans again, paired with a Papercut Coppelia cardigan.  I think I wore this top to death right after I made it, and then barely touched it all last winter.  I do like it, though, and think I’ll make this pattern again soon.  I raised the neckline a tad so that I could wear it comfortably without a layer underneath, but it still gapes open (as faux-wraps tend to do).  Here, it’s safety pinned in place, but I think I’ll go back and just stitch the overlap down.  I also might shorten my next version just a little so it’s easier to wear with all of my high waisted pants and skirts.

Day thirteen:

I went out to dinner in the city with some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.  It was cold and rainy, though, so I opted for comfort.  This is a McCall’s blouse pattern (M7436) that I made last year in a poly crepe from Mood.  It’s a seriously fun print, and I don’t even care that some of the design details get lost in it.  I think the reason I don’t wear it a lot is because I don’t have many bottoms to pair it with.  My trusty Gingers will have to do for now!

Day fourteen:


Happy Mother’s Day!  No outfit pictures because I was just being lazy around the house in my Ginger jeans (seriously, I need to get started on another pair!).  In MMMay-related news, I finally got my hands on The Curated Closet. I’d heard a lot of good things, but I really appreciated Kamila’s thoughtful review.  I’m excited to see if it helps me narrow down my style.  I struggle a lot with minimalism and hate the idea of having a wardrobe of neutral “essentials.”  At the same time, I know I need pieces that coordinate and fit my lifestyle.  CONUNDRUM.

Day fifteen:


You know how you sometimes get dressed to work out so that it hopefully forces you to do it?  Yeah, that’s how I often dress when I get home.  Sometimes it works!  Today I wore my favorite Jalie leggings (pattern is called Cora).  I love that they are very high waisted and that they have a crotch gusset.  All of my RTW workout leggings have a gusset, but only Jalie patterns include it in their design (at least out of all the patterns I’ve seen).  I really should make more of these, since I have a ton of athletic lycra just hanging around.

Days sixteen and seventeen:

No photos at all!  This is what happens when you are on a break from work without actually being on vacation.  I did wear my Ginger jeans for most of these days (no surprise there), so I technically stuck to my goal.  I’ll try to get out of my funk and do a better job of wearing different garments from here on out.

Day eighteen:


Well, I got dressed!  It’s my gingham Archer again, plus a RTW skirt.  I bought this skirt on a whim about 3 years ago, and it’s been a summer staple ever since.  I’ve realized that I don’t care for the straight cut of the skirt as much as I do the print and colors.  And that pretty much sums up what I’ve learned so far this month: I like bold prints, bright colors, tops with a bit of shape to them, and bottoms that are either fitted or flare at the hip.

I’ve been slowly working on some sewing projects, but for some reason I’m feeling uninspired again.  The good news is that I’ve also been uninterested in buying new fabric, so I’m not compensating with retail therapy.  Anyone have tips for sewing when it feels like it’s 90 degrees in your room?

MMM ’17: Days 5-11

Here we go again!  You’ll have to excuse my rambling, but I think this diary entry style is helpful for gathering my thoughts.

Day five:

To be perfectly honest, I was in my pajamas (not me-made) for most of the day.  Finals week had just ended, it was rainy and gloomy, and I just felt really mopey.  Towards the evening I finally tried to get myself out of my funk by getting dressed.  Since there’s about 2 weeks until the summer semester starts, I thought that I’d try on and evaluate some of my more neglected handmade garments.

This is a Nettie dress from Closet Case Patterns, made in a crazy awesome ponte.  I loved this dress when I made it, but have never worn it out of the house.  I think part of it is that I get too self conscious in a dress that’s tight everywhere AND rather short.  It also doesn’t really fit my lifestyle, as I can’t think of an occasion in which I’d wear it.  It’s not dressy enough for a fancy party and not casual enough for just hanging out (for me, at least).  I do like the scoop back, though, so I might try chopping it up into a top.

Day six:

I went to a baby’s first birthday party this day.  See?  I do get out sometimes.  I wore my off-white ponte Sewaholic Fraser sweatshirt again (my first repeat garment).  I actually made the top specifically to wear with these pants, which are the Winslow culottes by Helen’s Closet.  I’ve got nothing but love for these palazzo pants.  I get compliments on them every time I wear them AND they’re super comfortable.  I really should make more, since they’re also a fast make.  No slowpoke excuses for this pattern!

Day seven:

Wore my New Look 6471 top and repeated my Rosari skirt.  Denim is very comfortable and very versatile.  Who knew, right?  I love this top because 1) it has a bow neck 2) the print is fun and 3) the rayon challis is so soft and flowy.  I don’t like that it is so shapeless.  So my conclusion is that I need more denim pieces in my wardrobe, as well as flowy bow-neck blouses in good prints that are slightly more fitted. (Head cropped for bad hair :o)

Day eight:

And yet another Fraser sweatshirt.  You’ll probably see all of them this month!  This one is made out of a utility mesh fabric, with black ribbing for the bands and cuffs.  If you remember, I had a bit of a dilemma when I first made it.  Since then I’ve tried styling it several different ways, and actually find it quite wearable.  Here, I’ve worn it with my gray and black Hudson pants (pattern by True Bias).  These pants are super comfy and I wear them a lot.  I should probably make some more, since attractive lounge pants are apparently in high demand in my life.

Day nine:

I wore my gingham Archer again, with my coral pink Simplicity S1017 pants.  I love these pants.  They make me happy.  And I’m obviously a BIG fan of wide-leg pants.  I actually bought some black linen to make the cropped version.  I’m hoping to iron out the back fit before I cut into it, though.

Day ten:

My lemons dress!  (Blogged here, so I won’t bore you with the details again.)  Since I’m not allowed any outfit repeats, I’m trying to save my RTW pants for when work starts up again.  That’s why I got dressed up for a shopping trip.  Although I may have worn this dress prematurely, as I just realized that I have a dinner, graduation and family party coming up in the next couple weeks.  Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to get creative and dive into the depths of my closet.  Or I could just make another one!

Day eleven:


I was doing housework all day long, so it was just sweats for me.  This is my fourth Fraser sweatshirt with some matching sweatpants from a McCall’s pattern that I can’t remember now.  My comfy knit loungewear always gets worn a ton.  These are quite warm (made in a fairly thick French terry), so they’ll get put away once summer hits.  I’ll have to evaluate my lightweight lounge wear when it gets hot.

R-E-C-Y-C-L-E! (Fenway bra by Orange Lingerie)

As a kid, I watched a lot of t.v.  I mean, I still do, but now it’s mostly on my computer so it doesn’t feel the same.  Anyway, one of the consequences of spending my formative years in front of the boob tube is that I memorized a lot of the songs from my favorite cartoons.  And I still sing them sometimes because I literally CAN’T FORGET THEM.

There’s one song in particular that I sing in my head every time I take out the recycling, celebrate Earth Day, avoid using styrofoam containers, watch a nature documentary, hear what new stupid thing Scott Pruitt has done, look at a tree, drive past Mt. Trashmore, etc.  (Here’s a link to the clip I found online if you’re curious, but I don’t recommend it.)

What’s this got to do with a bra, you ask?  Well, my bra is technically recycled!  Reused?  Repurposed?  Refashioned?  Whatever, you get what I mean.  It’s made, partially, out of an old silk dress.  I bought this dress ages ago, and only wore it once myself.  It was to a cousin’s engagement party, and that cousin now has two kids.  It didn’t languish in my closet, though.  SOMEONE (who will not be named, but she KNOWS who she is even though she doesn’t read my blog) borrowed it and wore it several more times.  Long story short, it came back with a bunch of stains, snags, and pulls that no hand-washing or  dry-cleaning could fix. It’s also become a bit snug on me.

But it’s silk!  I couldn’t throw it away even if I had no clue what to use it for.  Flash forward a few years, and I’ve started making my own underwear!  The pieces are so small that I could totally work around those pesky flaws.


In my earlier post, I talked about the muslin I made for the Fenway bra.  Here are the changes I ended up making:

  • Narrowed the back band pattern piece by 1/2″ (which will reduce the back band width by 1″ overall)
  • Removed 1/2″ from the depth of both of the lower cup pieces (effectively “shortening” them – a good tutorial is here)
  • Shortened the neckline side of the upper cup piece by 1/2″
  • Shortened the underarm side of the upper cup piece by 1 1/2″
  • Added allowance for regular elastic (instead of FOE) to the upper edges of the back band (1/2″), side band (1/2″), and upper cup pieces (1/2″ on the underarm side and 3/8″ on the neckline edge)
    • When I did this on the back band I also straightened out the top curve a little
  • I decided not to mess with the bridge just yet, since I think my issue with the muslin might have been that my underwires were too short

I overlaid a black lace on top of the silk on the lower cups, bridge, and side band.  To help keep the layers together, I tried glue basting them using a spray adhesive.  It’s a little sticky and messy with such small pieces, but it worked pretty well!  I’ll try almost anything to avoid pinning and hand basting.


I wore the bra around the house for almost the entire day after I finished it.  Overall, I’m very happy with the changes I decided to make.  I thought I was a foam cup girl through and through, but this bra really has me appreciating the look and feel of a foam-less bra.  It’s supportive, yet unobtrusive.

Here are my thoughts about the bra:

  • The back band fit is snug, but comfortable – just how I like it
  • I’m happy with the lower cup depth, and my upper cup adjustments have definitely improved the fit of the cups.
  • There is still some gaping at the underarm, and I’m debating two different fixes:
    • I could lower the underarm edge slightly, all the way across the upper cup, side band, and back band (it might just be hitting a little too high)
    • I could stretch the elastic a little as I apply it (the gaping is not that bad, so I think this might work)
  • The bra definitely feels more stable with the thicker elastic at the underarm.  I don’t think the neckline needs as much stability, so I might go back to using FOE there.  I think it will be fun to incorporate pops of color that way.
  • I think I actually do need to lower the height of the bridge.  I’ve compared it to some of my RTW bras and it is taller than all of them.  I also might narrow it a little at the top.

I’m going to move away from bra-making for a bit to start filling in some of the wardrobe gaps I’ve noticed since starting Me Made May.  I’ll definitely be back, though!  I think it’s a good palate cleanser in between larger projects.

MMM ’17: Days 1 – 4

Woweewow I made it through the first four days!  This is finals week, so I’ve had a bunch of testing and grading to do, and a lot of anxious students to calm.  *SIGH* I really love teaching, but finals time always makes me want to cry.  Sometimes I still get the nightmare I had all throughout college and grad school where I suddenly realize at the end of the semester that I hadn’t been attending a class I was enrolled in THE WHOLE TIME and then have to take the final.  It’s always a math class.  It just goes to show that you can take the student out of the . . . wait, no . . . you can take the girl out of the school . . . hmmm . . . I think I need some coffee and a nap.  Preferably not in that order.

I decided to do a round up post every Friday (kinda sticking to my unintentional blogging schedule), so here’s what I wore so far this week.

Day one:

And right out of the gate, I’ve got an outfit I had never put together before!  Haha this wasn’t too hard since it’s just two black and white pieces, but it’s progress!

The top is a Sewaholic Fraser sweatshirt made in black and white ponte from Fabric Mart.  I really like this top (knit tops that are both cute and comfortable are the best), but I hardly ever wear it because I cropped it just a little too short to wear with any of my pants.  The labs I teach have a strict dress code, so I wear pants most days.  I’ll see if I have enough skirts to wear it with this month.  If not, I’ll consider putting a longer hem band on it.

The skirt is the same one I blogged about here.  It was so simple to make, albeit a bit time consuming matching all those pleats, but I love it.  This one gets a lot of wear during the warmer months.

Day two:

Another newish combination: a RTW top and a Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt that I made a few years back.  I say “newish” because it’s kinda boring, so I can’t even remember if I’ve worn it before.  I love this pattern, and wear this skirt quite often, but the fabric I used (mystery dark green crepe – maybe rayon/viscose? – that I got from an aunt who was destashing) is not my favorite.  It drapes well, but it pills and wrinkles like crazy.  Also, there’s nothing super interesting about it apart from the little button tabs.  I’m plotting another one in some fabric that I like.

Day three:

I’ve worn this combo many many times.  It’s my Grainline Studio Archer shirt (made in a super soft gingham print rayon challis that was a pain to sew) and my Closet Case Patterns Ginger jeans (made at the workshop I took at Stitch Sew Shop).  I never knew jeans could fit me so well until I put these on.  I like these two items a lot.  Probably the main reason I haven’t made more is because they’re both time-consuming makes, and I’m already really slow.  This is something I think I need to get over if I want a wardrobe full of things I love.

Day four:

This is my denim Rosari skirt from Pauline Alice. I blogged about another version here.  I really thought that I had thrown this out when I did my spring cleaning purge last year, but it survived!  If I remember correctly, I wasn’t super happy with the fit (although it seems fine now) and my topstitching (also fine).  I like the look of button-down skirts, so I might make another version in something drapey (maybe with the cargo pockets).  The top is another Sewaholic Fraser sweatshirt.  This one is also short, but that’s on purpose because I left off the hem band so I could tuck it into things without too much bulk.

If nothing else, at least Me Made May has forced me to get more comfortable in front of the camera.  My posture has also gotten a little better as I’ve realized that my clothes look terrible when I’m hunched over like normal!  Anyone else have the same epiphany?

Back in the Game (Fenway bra by Orange Lingerie)

Something new and actually made in 2017!  Not only that, it was made recently.  As in I’ve started sewing again!  I realize that this news is not actually cause for joy for others (or maybe you’re really happy to not have to listen to me complain about not sewing), but I’m just so glad to be out of that rut!

So it all started when I accidentally watched 15 minutes of the horror movie Oculus.  I don’t know what I was thinking, I was just flipping channels.  That night, while I lay awake in my bed at 4 am, bedside lamp on to ward off evil spirits, I pulled out my computer and started browsing the internet.  That’s when I came across the Fenway bra by Orange Lingerie.


I’d seen the release of this pattern already, but I hadn’t really paid attention to it for some reason.  Probably because I hadn’t been sewing bras for a while.  Anyway, while I was avoiding staring into the mirror at the foot of my bed (are there any stories of haunted IKEA mirrors???!!! please say no), I realized that the Fenway had some pretty great details: full coverage, rounded shape, straps that are all elastic, and a partial band.  Plus I just loved the use of a sheer fabric for the upper cup!  I bought it, downloaded it, and then fantasized about bra-making as I fell asleep.

I usually stick to my ready-to-wear size when making my own bras, but that has always lead to a lot of cup alterations.  So this time I decided to try the pattern’s measurement method to choose my size.  I normally vary between a 36 C and D (in RTW), but for this pattern I measured a 38 DD.  Woweewow!  The pieces seemed too big, but I figured I’d give it a shot and see what happens.  And to prevent too much heartache over wasted lace, I made a muslin in some blue tricot I got in a grab bag from Sew Sassy.  After cutting it out, I fell in love with the cool-looking pattern pieces.  They look very futuristic, don’t they?

Yep, I’ve got Star Trek patches.  I’m searching for the right pattern to put them on.  Thinking either a button-down or sweatshirt.

The sewing itself was pretty easy; if you have sewn any other underwire bra, you can sew this one.  While I’m not a huge fan of FOE (I find it kind of skimpy for larger sizes, especially without foam cups), I did like the method for applying it in the instructions: baste with a long straight stitch, fold over, narrow zig-zag through both layers, and remove basting.  And even though I made sure not to stretch the fabric or elastic while sewing, I’m pretty sure I stretched out the cup edges (so much gaping!).  When I compared the finished upper cup to the pattern piece, I measured that it had grown by about 1/2″ on the inside and outside neckline edges.

Norma mentioned in a blog post that it would be easy to switch to regular picot elastic simply by adding in the seam allowances on the edges that need them.  I’ll probably be doing this on my next version.

I also like that recommended stitch lengths and widths are given for applying the FOE and band elastic.  This wasn’t in the Boylston bra instructions, but I find it very helpful.


One unique feature, in terms of supplies, is that this pattern requires four rings, instead of the usual two.  Two rings to attach the straps to the front/cups, and two to attach the straps to the back band.  This might be important to know in case you are using a bra kit, which usually only comes with two rings and two sliders.  If you are short on rings, though, I think you could probably get away with attaching the strap directly to the back band.

Ok, now the fit.  The band is very comfortable, and I’m glad I sized up if only to get that great fit across the front.  In the back it fits perfectly at the smallest hook, which means I probably need to take about a half inch out of the back band piece. (The band is actually a little more snug on my dress form than on my body.)

I got a lot of gaping at the edges of the cups, at both the neckline and underarm areas.  I marked a couple wedges in both areas, indicating the amount of length I want to take out.  I also wonder if some of the length/gaping is due to the stretchiness of the tricot.  I don’t think there’s any lycra in it, but it has quite a bit of mechanical give.  Much more than the duoplex I used for my first ever bra, or any of the sheer cup linings I’ve used.  I guess I’ll find out in my next (non-stretchy) version!

Finally, I felt the bra cups were too “long” or “tall” in general, so I redrew the horizontal seam a little lower. I think this will give the lower cup just the right amount of coverage if I use a sheer upper cup (or – gasp! – NO upper cup).  I also thought that the bridge came up slightly too high, so I may lower it about 1/4″ – 3/8″.


I need to pad out my dress form, so this doesn’t really show you how it fits on my body all that well.  Not going to model it myself, though!


When I see it on the form, I also notice just how long the cups look.  Of course, my cleavage fills it out and pulls down on the cups a bit (dress form’s bewbs are quite smaller than mine), but I’d like to get it looking more in proportion to the product images.

So now all that’s left to do is to update my pattern pieces and plan my “real” version!  Norma posted some great inspiration on her blog.  I just looooove the black strappy version!  I think I need to recreate it.  I’ve included that image, and some more bras with similar style lines that might be replicated with the Fenway.  Apparently I’m in a black mood.

Clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

She also has a tutorial up on how to use lace on the cups, which is making me think I’ll be falling down a bra-making rabbit hole pretty soon.

Anyone else sewing up the Fenway?  Or doing any bra sewing at all?

MMM ’17: Wardrobe Roulette

Friends, I have a confession to make.  I’m a lazy dresser.  Yes, it’s true.  Even though I spend SO MUCH TIME making a lot of the items that go into my wardrobe, I don’t spend nearly as much time putting together outfits, let alone outfits that are seasonally appropriate.  Seriously, I still don’t own a proper winter coat and have been making do with sweaters + jackets for a couple years now.  I also tend to wear the same outfits on repeat all year-round.  Lazy, I tell you!


So when I started thinking about my pledge for Me Made May, I knew that setting a goal for wearing a certain number of handmade items per day or per week wouldn’t really be a challenge.  For me, the real challenge would be in figuring out HOW to wear the stuff I make.  Wearing them well is another story, but we’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it.

Without any further ado, my pledge is to wear at least one handmade item each day AND to style my outfits differently each day.  While repeat items are allowed, they can’t be worn the same way twice.  This will hopefully get me to not only wear garments that have been long-ignored or lost their luster, but to also think hard about the kinds of clothes I like to wear.

Outfits will be documented photographically.  Yes, that means selfies.  I know most people hate them, myself included, but last year I noticed that it was really easy to skip a day (or twenty) if I didn’t have to prove it.  Not sure yet if I’ll instagram daily or just do a round up here.  Maybe both if I’m feeling sufficiently good about myself.  A homebody like me can’t let a good outfit go to waste.  (Joking! Or am I? Hmmmmm)


One thing clearly missing from this pledge is any sort of commitment to sewing up my stash.  Oh yes, I learned that lesson last year.

I’m interested to hear everyone else’s goals for this month!  Have you pledged? Any tips on getting the perfect selfie?


Purple Paisley Person (Acton Dress by In the Folds)

Another belated post, although this delay was partially out of my control.  I was a tester for the Acton dress, a very cool pattern released by In the Folds late last year.  I actually tested it last April, but Emily decided to overhaul the instructions, so I had to keep it hush hush for a long time.

Keeping my mouth shut was made difficult due to the fact that I really love this dress, and wore it out a couple times (around non-sewing people, of course) before the release date.  It even made it to the White House!  Don’t worry, though, this photo was taken while Obama was still in office, well before the election.  That’s why I’m smiling the smile of someone oblivious to the current state of affairs.

I’ve also since decided that bangs are not my thing.  So much baby face!

As you can see from the line drawings, the Acton is a sleeveless dress with two back variations (high or low) and two skirt variations (A-line or wrap).  I was asked to test View B, which is honestly what I would have picked anyway.


I knew before I started (and from Emily’s suggestions) that I’d have to make a muslin to test the bodice fit, and sure enough the size D was a bit tight across the bust.  My boobs were squished, and at first I though that maybe it wasn’t so bad and I could deal with it.  But for some reason, I decided to see if I could make it better.  So I did my very first FBA on a princess seam bodice, and it was magical.

For my initial changes, I lowered the bust apex by 1/2″ and then did a 5/8″ FBA, following the instructions in Fit for Real People.  I made up a muslin of these adjustments, and the fit was pretty good!  No more squished boobs!  The only problem was some excess fabric right under the bust, which was easily pinched out (and trimmed out of the pattern piece).

One piece of advice I will offer to anyone doing an FBA on this dress: make sure you get the neckline in the right place and figure out strap length before you make changes.  The neckline is supposed to be pretty high, and the placement will affect where you make your FBA and how much of an adjustment you will need.  Also, you may want to fit it while wearing the bra you’ll most likely wear with the dress (or go bra-less, if it works for you).  For me, that meant wearing my strapless bra.


I also wasn’t totally sure how the skirt was constructed, so I decided to grade it out to a size F at the hips.  Later I realized this was unnecessary because the skirt is really wide anyway due to the wrap.  It’s all good, though, since it didn’t seem to affect the fit.

The other change I made was to add an underlining to the skirt, because my fabric was a little sheer.  Again, I took the safe route because I wasn’t sure how to line with those wrap pieces.  I think if I were to make view B again (in a sheer fabric), I’d use the skirt of view A as a lining pattern, and simply attach it at the waist.  That way it won’t add any bulk to the wrap.


Guys, I’m not normally one to dress for my “coloring.”  I tend to just go for whatever colors and prints make me happy, although I’m pretty sure I’m an autumn.  (I think.  When I was working on a self portrait in art class in the 7th grade, I couldn’t get my skin tone just right.  My teacher came over to help and started adding yellow to my brown and pink paint until it was perfect.)  But man, I’m really digging this deep purple on me.  Even though it was really gloomy the day we took these photos, I don’t feel like I look washed out.

This is my backyard in April.  Doesn’t it look like an enchanted forest? Even the foliage decided to coordinate with my complexion.

I also never thought I was a paisley type of person.  So when my aunt gave me about 9 yards of this fabric (it feels like a lightweight polyester crepe . . . georgette?  It’s heavier than a chiffon.), I wasn’t sure if I’d use it.  But it just so happened to be wide enough to fit my Acton skirt pieces on the straight grain.  Match made in heaven.  And guess what?  It turns out I’m a paisley type of person.


The underlining for the skirt is a mystery lightweight knit.  Well, a mystery until I tried to iron it on the polyester setting and burned a hole through the center front.  Then I figured it was probably nylon.  I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another piece (and it was already attached to the outer fabric), so I covered up the hole with a large paisley appliqué.  I kind of like it!  It adds character, as they say.

The color is off due to the Instagram filter – it’s really more of an eggplant, like the outdoor pics show.

Let me guess, you’re thinking to yourself right now “Why in the world did she use a knit underlining for a woven dress?” I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea.  I even wrote in my sewing journal after I finished the dress: BAD IDEA.  It stretched and pulled like crazy while sewing, but I hand basted it and I don’t think it looks bad now.  Just a pain to sew.

My hem ended up dropping a lot, and I kept messing up while trying to straighten it, so I had to trim off about 2-4″ all around.  To save some of the length, I opted for a rolled hem on my serger.  Luckily I had a spool of matching thread!


What do you think of the chain and tassel on the zipper?  I often use the necklace method to pull hard to reach zippers solo, but this time I really liked how the gold chain looked with the dress.  To jazz it up a little, I made a matching tassel out of embroidery floss.



Making this post and has me thinking about revisiting this pattern and doing some variations.  I kind of want to take the bodice of the Acton and add some wide leg pants to make a jumpsuit.  Or maybe make it out of a denim and wear it like a pinafore?  Can I be that cutesy?

S/S 2017: Road Trip

The weather here has been SO NICE recently, which has me itching to go outside and get some color on my skin.  Yes, I know this is bad for me, but trust me, I lather on the sunscreen and wear hats.  I really just want my gleaming white legs to match the year-round brown of my arms and face.  Is that too much to ask?

Basking in the sun while pretending to read fine literature gives me a bit of time to think about what I want to wear during the warmer months.  I often go back and forth between wanting to sew practical, work-appropriate clothing and fanciful, dress-for-the-life-you-want clothing.  A few months ago I decided I’m perfectly okay with buying work slacks and cardigans.  It’s the fanciful stuff that gets my blood pumping.

So what sort of fantasy lifestyle am I dressing for this season?  Good question!  I’m thinking: mysterious young woman who might be a con artist, demon hunter, or travel blogger.  Probably all three.  Basically, I’ve got about two weeks off between the spring and summer semesters in May, and I think it would be the perfect time to take a road trip somewhere cool.  Maybe to explore some sights nearby or to visit a few friends I haven’t seen in a while.

Clockwise from top left: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel / Kogod Courtyard / US Botanic Garden / Broken busts of 43 presidents in a field near Williamsburg (seriously, it’s a weird story but I really want to see them).  All of these are actually doable as day trips from where I live.  Sadly I think the Grand Canyon is out of my budget for now.

Road trips have always had a special place in my heart.  I went on a lot of them when I was growing up because I had a ton of family living about 7ish hours away in Connecticut.  Usually it was just my mother, my sisters and me in a small car, but sometimes we would also stuff in my dad, grandmother or a cousin or two.  I loved all of it: falling asleep in a pillow fort in the back seat, eating TCBY and kabobs at rest stops, fighting with my older sister because I was invading her space, resenting my younger sister for her spacious car seat.  All OF IT.  I believe this is called nostalgia.

So what does a con artist/demon hunter/travel blogger even wear while road tripping?  Obviously lots of funky denim, eye-catching prints, and comfortable two-piece ensembles.  I mean, she has to be able to drive for several hours, steal someone’s identity, stake a vampire, and be ready in time for a photo shoot at magic hour in front of the world’s largest yogurt cup.  She also has to have items that can coordinate easily and travel well.  Gotta pack light for those quick getaways.

Clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
Clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
Clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

I’m going to be realistic with my goals, since I really don’t think I’ll be able to make an entire mini wardrobe in three weeks.  There’s just not enough evidence to support that argument.  Instead, I’ll focus on making a few pieces really well.  Pieces that fit, are made with quality materials, and coordinate with some other items in my wardrobe.

Anyone else deep in the throes of spring/summer planning or sewing?  Anyone else feel that even their best laid plans are often completely destroyed by shiny new pattern and/or fabric releases?

Retro Lemons (Butterick B6318)

This post has been a long time coming.


Yep, I finished this one way back in September, at about 2 am the night before going on my one and only vacation last year: three days at the beach.  Once the fall semester started, I realized that I reeeeeaaaally needed a vacay, as did my parents (probably definitely more than me), so I booked a room and packed everyone up in the car for a long weekend.  I’d never been to Virginia Beach after Labor Day, but it was great!  Perfect weather and, best of all, NO CROWDS.  Seriously, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves.  I’ll probably never be able to handle the burning sand and fights over towel territory again.

I think this was just before dropping my phone into the ocean.
It felt like EVERYONE was riding horses on the beach except for me. Kinda wanted to look into it, but was also kinda too lazy.
Managed to just barely capture a sunrise off the balcony before plopping back in bed.
Can’t go to VA Beach without hanging with King Neptune.  Bonus full moon.

Alright, back to the dress.  You will probably recognize the fabric as a cotton lawn from the Gertie line at JoAnn.  I bought it on a whim when it was on sale a while back and didn’t match it to a pattern until later when I rediscovered Butterick B6318 in my stash.  It’s a vintage reproduction pattern from 1961 with a gathered skirt, slash neckline, kimono sleeves, and wrap around ties at the waist.  (There was also a similar repro pattern for girls released at the same time.  You better believe I bought it, too.)  I’m not usually into the retro look, but those lemons were practically begging to be made into this dress.

Oh but the fitting!  Where to begin?  I made a muslin of the size 14 bodice, without any adjustments.  It was weird because the pattern tissue says the measurement at the bustline was 40″ – I’m a 38″ full bust and this was SNUG.  The darts were also a bit high/long.  I usually have to shorten waist darts on patterns, but I didn’t really know where to position this one.  The model photos show the dart extending pretty high above the bust point (or is that just an optical illusion with the stripes?), but the pattern tissue clearly marks the bust point above (and more towards the CF) the tip of the dart.  I finally just went with my gut and lowered it to about 1/2″ below the apex.  Once that was in the right place, I did a 1/2″ FBA following the instructions in Fit for Real People.  The By Hand London Anna dress sew along also has a tutorial for doing an FBA with kimono sleeves.  The book’s method actually has you cut off the sleeve before doing the FBA, but has you slash near the neckline (like the Anna tutorial) for larger adjustments.

The waist was also a bit tight, so I narrowed all four (two front, two back) darts by 1/2″, giving me 2″ all around. Also, the neckline felt like it was suffocating me in the stiff muslin I was using. (I think this is a recurring issue and probably means I need to wash my muslin before using it. Thoughts?)  I lowered it by 1.5″ in the front and 3/4″ in the back.  It’s now more of a boatneck than a slash neckline, but I like it!  I think it’s more flattering for my shape.

I also needed to fix some back neckline gaping.  I was able to pinch out 1/4″ darts in my muslin.  At first I tried to see if it was because I have a dowager’s hump (a.k.a. high rounded back) – so I did the adjustment in Fit for Real People, which has you slash across the upper back, spreading about 1/4″ at CB, tapering to nothing at the armscye.  Yeah, that did nothing for the gaping.  I think the idea is that if your upper back is rounded, you need some extra fabric to get over the “hump.”  Either I don’t have a hump like I thought I did or I just stand up really straight when fitting.  Ugh, the hardships of fitting by yourself!

My second muslin was much better, and all I really needed to do was fix the back neck gaping. I ended up using a way old tutorial from Ginger Makes (again for the Anna dress), and just pinched out 1/2″at the neckline, tapering to nothing at the underarm.  Then I just crossed my fingers and hoped it worked because no way in hell am I making another muslin amirite?

Here you can see the changes I made to the bodice pattern pieces.  Left: front bodice with 5/8″ FBA, lowered and narrowed waist dart, and lowered neckline.  Right: back bodice with lowered and narrowed waist dart, useless high rounded back adjustment, lowered neckline, and neckline gaping removed.

OH YEAH! I also wanted to fully line the whole thing because lawn can be a bit on the sheer side.  I wanted something lightweight (may have erred on the side of too light), so I picked up this lovely white cotton voile while I was at a stitch night at Stitch Sew Shop.  (PS Kalle can we do more of those, please?)  After much debate, I decided to incorporate the facings into the lining, and even added some sleeve facings.  I don’t know why, I just hate it when lining peeks through to the outside.


I sewed up the lining and the dress separately, and only joined the two after inserting the zipper.  I could have joined the skirt and skirt lining at the waist, but I was worried the gathering would be too bulky because boy is there a lot to gather.  So much, in fact, that my long gathering stitches kept breaking.  I finally caved and used the dental floss method of gathering, and ohmygosh it is amazing.  Seriously, give it a try if you haven’t already – it makes what is usually a chore for me super quick and easy.

Spoiler: all you do is zigzag across some dental floss, and then pull the ends of the floss to gather.

I think that’s most of the deets.  I actually wrote up most of these notes while this dress was still a WIP, which was really lucky because my usual post-it note method of documenting pattern changes is not so easy to decipher months later.  Here are some more dress pics at the beach!



And later I realized that I never got any pictures of the back of the dress.  Here it is on my dress form.  Doesn’t the bow look kind of dinky?  I’d definitely lengthen the ties in future versions.


And lastly some detail shots:



That camel photo is a picture I took on my trip to Wadi Rum while I was studying abroad in Jordan one summer (nearly 10 years ago!).  I rode that camel for three days and he kind of hated me, but he was really photogenic so I dealt with it.

Now that I think about it, I spent a lot of time fitting this dress.  It seems like I might need to make a second version just to make it worth it.  What do you think?