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!

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I think this was just before dropping my phone into the ocean.
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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.
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Managed to just barely capture a sunrise off the balcony before plopping back in bed.
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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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And lastly some detail shots:

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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?

Scheduling Creativity

I’ve been in a rut recently.  I haven’t touched my sewing machine in almost a month.  Judging by the last time I posted on this blog, though, it probably seems like it’s been more than half a year.  What can I say?  Instagram just fits in better with my social media laziness.  While I’d like to be able to blame my lost groove on the universe, I really don’t want to wait another 3 weeks to get it back.

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The last time I went this long without sewing, I was down with a really bad flu/bronchitis.  I also went on a short vacation in the middle, which did not help at all with the recovery.  This time, though, I’m struggling to figure out a particular reason for my funk.  I know it started right before my yearly work evaluation, which always raises my anxiety a bit.  But that was weeks ago, and went really well.

Work itself has been only mildly busier than usual, since we are nearing the end of the semester and there is a lot of grading to do and many stressed students to calm.  Still, it’s been enough to warrant skipping the gym a few nights a week to catch up.

My home life has gone through some changes recently, I’ll admit.  I’ve been living with my parents in the ‘burbs since I finished grad school, and it’s been a nice, albeit very quiet life.  Then, earlier this year, my sister and her family moved in as they have sold their house and are still searching for a new one.  Things have been a little crazy with a 5-year-old and, now, a newborn in the house.  Quiet life no more.

Also, I got a zit this week.  And my crush doesn’t know I exist.  And I’m on my period . . . . oh, too much information?  This is not my personal teenage diary?  My bad, sometimes I get carried away talking to myself.

So I think the conclusion I’ve come to is that I’ve lost my routine and I need at least some of it back.  I need it so bad that I’m willing to write it into my planner like an appointment.  This is a little weird for me to think about: scheduling creative time.  Normally I think of sewing as the one thing I DON’T have to plan.  Like, I think one morning (or, honestly, more like 11pm) “I want a pink bra” and BOOM! – several hours later – I have a peach bra.  Hey, I can’t always have pink stretch lace ready at a moment’s notice.  Make do and mend and all that.

My hope is that by setting my goals pretty low to start, I can gradually get the creative juices flowing and work back up to actually making things.  For example, today I set aside some time to iron one piece of fabric and write this blog post.

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This is the fabric I ironed: C+S/Rifle Paper Co. Rayon for a Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt.

I’m not promising there will be more posts here on out, but I’m going to try to get better at documenting my progress.  That will be part of my new routine.  I’ve even pulled out my old sewing journal to take notes as I work on projects.  I feel like I forget so much, and I like having an archive of my sewing life.  Okay but what other life do I have, really?

Fall Sewing Plans

If you are like me, fall is your favorite season and you look forward to relief from the burning summer sun.  If you are not like me, you are probably sobbing over the realization that summer will be ending soon (-ish, don’t freak out, you have some time!).  Either way, changing seasons means something we can all agree is fun: new sewing plans!

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Visual proof of my love for fall.  Wearing a pre-blog Grainline Archer.

All of the realizations that I came to this spring/summer (discussed in a previous post) have taught me that if I really want a handmade wardrobe, I have to take a more pragmatic approach to my sewing.  Yes, I will eventually need to go to a party, but do I need to be making a new cocktail dress every month?  Nope.  The honest truth is that I need blouses and trousers, and maybe some pencil skirts and blazers.

I also need to be able to mix and match all of the pieces that I make.  This is the hard part that I usually avoid by sticking to neutrals.  What makes it depressing is that I really love color!  I have a purple blouse that I made, and absolutely adore, but it never gets worn because I have NOTHING to wear with it.  This sounds ridiculous if you have seen my closet, but it is true.  Rhyme? Reason?  My wardrobe has neither.

SO, with all of this in mind, I’ve slowly been gathering fabric and patterns that will work together to make a cohesive fall capsule wardrobe.  I started with a color palette first: mustard yellow, rusty orange, baby blue and dark green are the main players.  I’ve also picked cream/beige, navy, and black as my neutrals.  Incidentally, these fall nicely in line with the Pantone colors of the season.  Not too surprising, though, as they are pretty much just autumn colors.

I also wanted to incorporate a variety prints and textures.  My only rule here was to stick to geometric and abstract designs (okay, there’s ONE floral, but I already had it in my stash and the colors work).  There’s ponte, plaid flannel, a quilted knit, crepe, satin, gorgeous boucle, twill – everything my little ol’ heart desires!  Some have been lingering in my stash for a while, and others were specifically purchased to coordinate with the existing pieces.

Here are some of my picks:

 

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I’ve picked out most of the patterns I’m going to use, so, barring any game-changers being released in the next few weeks, I’m ready to go!  Guys, I’m SO EXCITED!  I know this again seems like a lot of work, but it’s early and I tend to be optimistic about my sewing abilities (and speed).  Also, I can totally imagine wearing the different pieces together to work.  That has NEVER happened.

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How about you all?  Ready to start sewing for the new season, or still trying to soak up the last few rays of summer?

 

Hello, again!

SOOOOOOOO it’s been a while.  I get that blogging is not a two-way street, so I’ll just say it: my bad.  I do enjoy documenting and sharing my makes on here, and I have actually been sewing.  I just haven’t really been that excited to share anything.  I’m hoping that will change as I take a more organized approach to my wardrobe plans (more on that to come).

To tie up some loose ends, first, I’ll recap what happened with my May challenges.  Jeesh, is it really August already???!?!?!?!!

First: wearing two handmade items per day (not pajamas).  This proved to be genuinely difficult.  Mostly, it was due to my lack of appropriate clothing.  Even though I’ve been sewing for a few years now, I have only really been making “presentable” clothing for the last year.  (2014 Henna would never have imagined she’d be sewing her own formal wear.) Naturally, there are gaps in my handmade wardrobe – especially in the work-appropriate attire department.  On the days I wore me-mades, I basically repeated the same few looks.  I gotta work on that.  It was so embarrassing that I didn’t even take any selfies.  Thanks, Me Made May, you were a real eye-opener!

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Second: sewing 31 yards in 31 days.  Boy, what was I thinking?  I probably could have done it if I had planned it out and prepared like a marathon runner, but that is not what I did.  I just kind of made whatever seemed like fun at the time, regardless of the yards per project ratio.  I misplaced my notes, but I think I sewed 17 yards.  That’s more than half-way, so I’m just going to count it as a win and let myself off easy. It’s nice when you are your own judge and jury.

I know I got hung up on my Rigel bomber jacket, which ended up taking a week and involving totally unnecessary seam binding that was covered up with a last-minute lining.  Here are some Instagram shots of the things I made:

Top: Sewaholic Fraser Sweatshirt/Simplicity S8124 top Middle: Papercut Rigel Bomber Jacket/Sewaholic Fraser Sweatshirt and McCall’s M6659 PJ pants Bottom: Sewaholic Fraser Sweatshirt and McCall’s M4116 Turban/ T-shirt pattern from Sew U Home Stretch

That bomber jacket needs its own photoshoot once I make the matching pants to go with it (and once it cools down enough to permit a jacket photo shoot).  And wow, I have made all of the views of the Sewaholic Fraser.  It’s a cool pattern, though, I love all the variations. It’s going back on my to-do list for F/W sewing.

As daunting as it was, I might try to challenge myself like that again.  I did learn a few things.  For one, I realized that I have very few TNT patterns.  This meant that I either had to muslin for fit or sew something forgiving.  It’s pretty obvious that I opted to go with the latter.  Knits, man.  I love ’em.  (All of the Fraser Sweatshirts are starting to make sense.)

Now that I don’t have a deadline, I’m learning to embrace muslins more.  I have sacrificed way too many pretty fabrics to poor fit.  Hopefully once I’ve altered a few patterns I’ll get the hang of it and it won’t seem so daunting.  Next up I’ll be sharing some swimsuits and a summer dress, both of which involved a few muslins.  Stay tuned!

 

Vogue 1374 Badgley Mischka Gown

Okay, no updates on my May challenges just yet, but I’m excited to finally share this project here!  As I mentioned in a few previous posts, I made a dress for a wedding I attended at the beginning of February.  My cousin got married in Sacramento, California, and almost all of the east coast clan attended.  We all stayed at the same hotel and basically treated the lobby and breakfast bar as our living room and family kitchen.  My family is HUGE, so you can imagine that it was quite a scene to behold.

I really wish I had taken more of my own pictures of the evening, but you will just have to trust me when I say that the wedding was beautiful!  Thankfully, I managed to get my sister to snap a few photos of my dress.  But first, the details!

This is a Vogue American Designer Badgley Mischka pattern (V1374).  It is a dress designed for 4-way stretch knits, featuring a low back with a drape and a fishtail hem.  I couldn’t find many reviews of it online before I started on my version, so hopefully this post helps someone else out in the future.

We had a blizzard around here in January, and I put those school closings to good use by making up a muslin in some stashed jersey.  The pattern calls for 4 yards of 60″ wide fabric because all of the pieces are cut on the fold, but you could get away with less if you don’t mind having seam lines (and if there’s no nap/directional print).  For the muslin, I had seams through my upper back and drape, and I don’t think you can really tell.

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I loooove the figure-skimming silhouette, it feels so glamorous!  Of course, it needed modifications.  I cut the size 14, and the fit was pretty good in a knit (if not a little baggy).  I clearly needed to narrow the shoulder by about 1″ and shorten the sleeves by 2″, both of which are usual alterations for me.  I also decided to lower the neckline by 1/2″ at the center front, just for comfort.  The bigger issue was that I had a not-so-stretchy sequin fabric in mind for the final version.  To account for the lack of stretch, I straightened out the fish tail to make it more of an A-line starting at mid-hip.  This way I’d be able to move my legs around and, you know, walk.

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I kind of made up the narrow shoulder adjustment.  There is a yoke at the top of the shoulder, and I simply folded an inch out of the middle of it.  Easy peasy.  Next I had to match the new yoke width with the front and upper back pieces.  I understand the general idea of a narrow shoulder adjustment (as explained here and here), and I’ve done them before.  You want to make the shoulder seam narrower without changing the armscye or removing width from the bust.  I’m just lazy and hate making all those cuts and hinges.  For my method, I drew in the seam lines and marked the inch I wanted to remove from the width.  I then drew lines from there to a single point on the armscye seam line (making what looks like a dart), and folded the wedge out.  A little tape and everything stays in place.  I know I probably broke some pattern-making rules and risked messing up some grainlines, but it worked!

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With those alterations made to the paper pattern, I started making up another muslin in some stashed black lace (no lycra, only some mechanical stretch) and poly crepe lining.  I figured it was a good idea to try the pattern again in a non-stretch fabric.  By the time I was done, I kind of loved it!  I also realized that I could not for the life of me figure out how to lay out the pattern on my sequins in a way that would fit all of the pieces and look okay.  (Still love those sequins, though!  I’m desperate for another wedding so I can sew them up!)

As usual, I had to make some adjustments along the way.  I found out that having an open back means you can get the dress over your head easily, but it does NOT mean you can get it over your bust easily.  I needed a side zip.  Putting it in was easy enough (I took some tips from the Colette sew along blog), but I later realized that I needed something a little longer.  My zipper was only 9 inches and slightly useless.  I also ended up taking the sleeve seams in by 1/2″ (and now looking at the muslin photos, I wonder why I didn’t notice they were big before).

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Those are pretty much all of my construction notes!  I didn’t hem the lace originally, since it seemed to actually look better without it.  After putting it through the wash once, though, the white (?!?!?!) cording in the lace started to peek out on the cut edges.  I just turned the hem about 1/4″ and topstitched with a zigzag.

Once the dress was done, finding the right bra to wear became an issue.  I don’t feel that the stick-on cups are very supportive, so I actually sewed a RTW bra into the lining.  This felt great at first, but by the end of the night didn’t really do much for me.  I think that with the moving and dancing and one quick costume change, the dress lost a bit of its shape.  My sisters assured me that they did not notice anything weird, and I’m sure I asked them a million times!

I played up the back drama by hanging some gold necklaces across my back.  My only other jewelry was a pair of simple dangly earrings.  I felt super glamorous for a change, especially with the awesome hair and makeup I got done!

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I really love having special occasions like this so that I can try out some fancier designs, but deadlines can be a lot of pressure.  I was lucky enough to have all those snow days to get a lot of the fit issues out of the way, but I still ended up putting the finishing touches on it just a few hours before my flight!

A Month of Stash-Busting

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It’s that time of year again!  I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and participate in Me Made May. It’s my first time! I thought about it very carefully chose the following goal for myself a few weeks ago:

‘I, Henna, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear two handmade items (that are not pajamas) each day for the duration of May 2016’

The pajama stipulation is key. I love all of my me-made garments, but it’s a painful truth that I wear a lot of them to bed. That, or to fancy parties. I have a lot of gaps in my wardrobe, so I’m going to try to sew more garments that are appropriate for day time and even for work! Don’t worry, I won’t bombard you with selfies. I might just do a couple round-up posts.

Since I made this goal, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much stuff I have, especially sewing stuff. I mentioned this earlier in a post about the spring “cleaning” of my stash. That really put my consumption in perspective, and it’s just been bothering me ever since. I’ll spare you the soul searching I went through, but I will tell you that I’ve come to a few conclusions:

  1. I am adding to my stash at a much faster rate than I am sewing it.
  2. This makes me feel bad.
  3. I still love all of the fabric and patterns that I own.  De-stashing is not my jam.
  4. I’d love my fabric and patterns even more if I could wear them on my body.

Basically, my stash is overwhelming my tiny sewing space as well as my mind. It needs a diet. So, in an effort to use what I have already consumed (and to have a little fun with it), I’m setting another personal challenge for myself: 31 Yards in 31 Days. Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like! I’m going to try to sew up 31 yards of my stash fabric over the 31 days of May.

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Some ground rules: the 31 yards will include fashion fabric and linings, but won’t include fabric used for muslins (unless it turns out to be a wearable muslin). I’ll also only be using patterns I already own, but there’s no specific goal for those. It probably goes without saying that I am going to avoid adding to the stash during this month. I may need an odd zipper or button, but I will be limiting any notions purchases to only what I absolutely need in order to finish the garment.

I’m pretty excited to see if I can actually make this happen! It felt like no big deal when I thought of it, but now I’m like woah that’s a lot of fabric!

I actually got the idea for this from my sister. She doesn’t sew, but she’s quite the make-up junkie (and a nail polish fiend). She’s been doing something called Project Pan for a while, which focuses on using up the make-up you own (all the way down to the metal pan), instead of just constantly buying new stuff. I’ve seen her participate in challenges like this, where there is a goal for using a certain amount of products by a certain deadline.  I just subbed the eyeshadows and lipsticks for chambray and linen.

 

Ahhh I’d better get prepped, I’ve got a long month of sewing (and wearing me-mades) ahead of me! If you’d like to follow along, I’ll be posting my progress on Instagram.

Spring Hoarding

Isn’t it amazing how quickly you can accumulate stuff?  I spent last weekend overhauling my fabric and notions.  I remember when I first started sewing I would go all heart-eyed when people shared pictures of their huge stashes.  I never imagined that my grocery bag stash would grow into three 18-gallon bins (and a couple shelves).

While I didn’t throw anything out (see title), I did organize it.  Until now, new acquisitions were either washed and cut immediately or thrown into the bin with the most space available at the time.  No method, just madness. Now they are all organized by type and occasion, so I will know generally where to look to find any piece I need.  It’s still not pretty.

Naturally, tidying up involved swearing up and down that I was not going to buy any more sewing stuff until I sewed through my stash.  After which I promptly ordered three new patterns and 2 yards of fabric.  Hey, cleaning is stressful.  My new oath is: no more new bra sewing stuff until I sew through my stash.  Set your standards low and you will never be disappointed, right?

I now present to you the fruits of my first stash-busting project: a Pin Up Girls Classic Bra and a pair of Make Bra hipster undies.  Even though I only used a third of a yard of fabric for this set, I did get through a fair bit of the elastic stash.  That totally counts.

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The notions are all from Sew Sassy, and the fabric was originally a white nylon mesh from Fabric Mart.  I dyed both the mesh and the notions with Rit dye in “pearl grey.”  I know now to expect varying shades for each of the different pieces – some of them are way more poly than nylon.  I was a bit surprised at the color of the mesh, though.  It looks more blue than gray, but I still really like it!

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I’ve made this pattern before, but I kept making a 34C (based on RTW bras I own) and it was too small no matter how much I altered it.  I decided to size up to a 36D and the fit is much better right away!  It will need a few changes, though: the straps are a little too long and the band fits only on the smallest hook.  Other than that, the bridge fits great and the underwires haven’t bothered me yet.

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The cups fit pretty well, too.  I was worried that the mesh was too stretchy, so I lined the whole thing in a beige tricot.  I usually don’t care about the guts, but this looks so neat inside!  The lining and mesh pieces are all joined at the topstitching.  Looking back now, I’m realizing I probably should have had the stretch of the lining pieces going in the opposite direction (for the cups).  They’re not super supportive, but they’re okay.  The underwires definitely help.

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The lining of my bra was inspired by Erin’s latest post.  Have you seen her #BRAAWEEK challenge?  I’ve been following Erin’s posts about bra making for a LONG TIME.  Like, before I ever bought any supplies and made my first bra.  She’s super talented and I always learn something new.  After taking my personal oath to sew through my bra making stash, I’ve given this bra-a-week thing some thought.  It’s time to join in, I think!  Since I’ve got the basic bra sewing techniques down now, I’d like to use this challenge to focus on getting a great fit.  Not sure it’ll be weekly, but monthly at the very least!