8.14.2014

back to school

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Even though I've officially been finished with my education for seven years, this time of year will always make me think of going back to school. I swear, there's just something in the slight shift in the light that signals the end of sumer and with it the impending doom of a new school year! I know some people associate that 'back to school' feeling with excitement, but for me it always meant the return of stress and anxiety - juggling good grades with extracurricular activities and often more than one demeaning and depressing job (Lord, may I never again have to waitress at a chain restaurant where they make you stop what you're doing every 30 minutes to line dance in the aisles...) not to mention the social and emotional labyrinth that was being a teenager. Thankfully, the majority of this anxiety has abated as I've gotten older, got out of school, and just generally got on with life. But I still visit my high school in my anxiety-induced nightmares - you know the one... You forgot your locker combination, which is bad enough, but you can't even remember where your locker IS anymore, and come to think of it, it's the end of the semester and you don't think you've been to Calculus all year and surely you're failing, and where is your calculus classroom? Who's the teacher? Are you failing all your classes? Can you make up all the tests in one day?

Yeah. That one.

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But there was one thing I always loved about going back to school, and that was getting a brand new 'back to school outfit'. Complete with shoes. Definitely the silver lining to the whole 'back to school' thing. Somehow that new outfit could convince me that this year was gonna be different, better. With my new outfit I'd suddenly understand Physics, I'd get the lead in the school musical, I wouldn't feel the sting of the mean girls, and I'd maybe get to skip out of gym (ha!). Apparently I thought a new outfit could do a lot! Even as a poor art student I still scraped together my money to carry on the tradition of buying myself a new somethingsomething for the upcoming year. I hung all my hopes and goals and aspirations on that outfit.

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All this musing and tripping down memory lane has a point. I swear. True, it's a bit of an oblique point, but a point all the same. And the point is this: this outfit reminds me of a 'back to school' outfit. Okay, my skirt may not have passed dress code, but anytime I see gold paired with blue (bonus points if you throw in some cranberry red too) I'll always think of 'back to school'.  And you know, when I got dressed this morning, I still felt like today was gonna be a good day, because I was wearing some new duds. Of course that was before a hose leaked all down my back. Totally should've taken blog photos before I went in to work!

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Aaaanywho! This skirt probably needs no introduction. It's V1247  one of those beloved (by me) Rachel Comey patterns, which plenty of other sewistas have made up before me. A few of my favorites are Sophie's (here, and here) Heather's (here) and Carolyn's (whose made a few, but here's one, and here's another).  Every time this little skirt makes a show in my blogroll I'm always pleased to see it, and without fail I'll ask myself, "Self, why haven't you made that skirt yet?" I've made the top from V1247 (click on that link if you want a throwback! My hair!!) but never got around to making the skirt. After seeing Sophie's latest versions I decided enough was enough and it was time to right this pattern negligence wrong.

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It just so happens that I had this funky little palm tree print stretch cotton twill that I picked up with my Mood allowance sitting around, gathering dust, with no real plan for.  Nothing like pairing an overlooked pattern with an overlooked fabric! I just love giving these things a happy ending!  I cut the skirt in a size 10, which would have been a close fit if it wasn't for this fabric's stretch. As is, it's a ridiculously comfy skirt! I also decided to keep the original length, though I noticed that many other ladies who've sewn this up added length. I was going to add an inch in length, but at the last minute I decided, nah, just go for it! I really love the super mini length paired with the high waist. It feels very 70's collegiate to me - a bit Gloria Steinem, or like something my Mom would've worn in her late teens and early 20's.

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I did, however hem the back of the skirt a half inch longer than the front to compensate for the fact that my rump ate up some of the length back there. Also, pockets as design features are highly underrated.

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This skirt came together pretty much without a hitch. Although I did almost lose it once or twice with the bias bound innards. The pattern calls for you to make your own bias binding, but I decided to just use up some random bits of pre-made bias binding that I've had lying around.  Therefore, my innards look a bit like a carnival! I have to admit, I hate this method of seam finishing. Sure it looks pretty, but it's a major pain in the tuckus. Bias binding is just so fiddly!! After a total hack-job on the curved pockets, I decided to forgo the idea of pinning the binding in place, and instead brought out my trusty glue stick and started glueing that shit down! It stopped me from ripping out my eyeballs. So there's that. To all you ladies who choose this method of seam finishing of your own accord (not because a pattern tells you to) well... I will readily admit that you are finer seamstresses than me!

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I decided to wear my new skirt with my blue linen Archer, which looked quite sharp this morning, but after a day of sweating and leaking hoses... well, I was looking a bit rumpled by the evening! I'm also looking forward to pairing this skirt with my bodysuits for an overall svelte look. All in all, a fun little addition to the wardrobe!

So does anyone else get the 'back to school blues' this time of year, regardless of the fact that you're not actually going back to school?

xx

8.01.2014

it's not easy being green

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

I'm sorry, I really couldn't help myself with this post title. I know it's lame, but then again... shhh.. don't tell anyone... I'm kinda lame!

Anyway! Hiya friends! Welcome to August. Time, man.... it's flying. I had a pretty wonderful July, if I do say so myself (and I do). I got a nice long visit in with my family in PA, doing nothing but lounging by the pool, reading alll the mystery novels, having looong chats with my Mom, and catching up with my sister, one of my two brothers, my Daddy-o, and playing with my little nieces and nephews (for as long as my energy would allow). Sometimes there's just nothing like family to recharge you and make you feel centered again. Although Nick always says that every time I come home from visiting my family I revert to being a little kid again. Eh... what can you do? Once the baby of the family, always the baby of the family!

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

Oh you wanted to talk about sewing! How silly of me! Yes, well this is my July make for the Mood Sewing Network, and I'm pretty stoked about it. The fabric for the skirt is this Ultramarine Green Embroidered Linen, and it's delicious. I almost didn't click 'buy' on this fabric because, quite frankly, I'm not a huge fan of the color green (had it been red, there would have been no hesitation). I mean, besides in nature. Obviously. I think my anti-green sentiments stem from my painting days when I discovered that Phthalo green (similar to this 'ultramarine' hue in the skirt) is an evil, evil color that does not play well with the other colors. It is a color bully, squashing out all the colors with a more delicate chemical makeup. And it doesn't occur in nature. So I kept it well and good away from my palette, just like I do with bullies in real life. 

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

Now that you understand my completely rational bias against green, let's talk about how this fabric won me over. Because it did. Completely. First of all - it's linen, the fabric of summer. Second of all - it's embroidered, which means it's full of both visual and textural candy. And finally - that print!! What would you call that print? Tribal? Aztec? I'm pretty down with Mood's description of it being simply 'geometric'. But whatever it is, I think it's pretty fantastic. So fantastic that I embraced it's green-ness and grabbed a couple yards to call my own. I actually had an immediate idea that I wanted to make it into a full skirt. I felt that with the embroidery and the print it would have a really lovely gypsy/bohemian/70's vibe when worn as a full skirt.

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

I used Colette's Zinnia skirt pattern, view A, for the pattern. I haven't made something from Colette in ages. I guess for awhile it just felt like their styles weren't speaking to me, but I've already discussed how I feel like my style has been changing recently.  Anyway, it was nice to revisit this beloved indie brand.  Zinnia is a really straightforward skirt, definitely great for a beginner. It has an a-line shape and a gathered waist with a front button placket. I always feel a bit like a cheater making 'beginner' or simple patterns, but that feeling only lasts for a minute or two.  In reality, I just choose patterns that feel right stylistically, not based on skill level. And a gathered, full skirt is, yes, easy to sew, but it's also a classic that never goes out of style.

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn't even consider print matching until I was well into cutting out my pattern pieces. Thankfully I had just cut out the back skirt piece, and one half of the front before I stopped and was like, "Oh shit, yeah, this could be one hell of an eyesore if I don't do some print matching!" So I made the minimal effort of making sure that the horizontal bands of the print lined up across the front (true confessions: I thought I did a better job with matching up the print at the center front, but I forgot to take into account that the button placket would eat up some of the print. Whoops.) 

This linen took a little bit of finagling to get everything working right. After I pre-washed it and hung it to dry, the embroidered areas shrank up a bit, leaving the wide, plain, white, linen selvedges a bit wavy. I steamed it and pressed it, but the shrinkage was done. I had planned on using the plain white selvedges for the waistband and button placket, but now they were all buckled. In the end I just cut them away from the embroidered area and gave them a good press to restore their shape, and cut my pattern pieces from them that way.  It all worked out, as you can see. 

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

The linen was also slightly sheer, so I decided to line it with some white cotton lawn I had in my stash. I debated doing this, because the embroidered linen was also quite heavy and could get pretty thick in places, and I didn't want to add to the bulk of the gathered waist.  However I'm glad I went for it. It really gives the skirt some good support, and it's completely opaque, which makes getting dressed much easier (no digging around my unmentionables drawer for light colored undies, or, god forbid, a slip). The Zinnia pattern doesn't include instructions for lining this version, however it was really easy.  I just cut the skirt pieces out of the cotton lawn, minus about an inch in length. I sewed up the side seams and hemmed it before doing anything else.  Then I simply sewed the linen and the lawn as one layer when I created the button placket and the button band, enclosing the lawn along the center front, and allowing the rest of the hem to hang free.  Gathering the two layers of fabric was a bit touch and go, but it worked out just fine, and after some serious trimming, the waistband is pretty much bulk free!

Those of you that follow me on instagram know that I had a helluva time choosing buttons for this skirt. I bought two sets of buttons, the jade green plastic ones you see here, and also a set of bamboo buttons. Being genuinely stumped myself I took a poll of just about everyone I know - Nick, my Mom and sister, all of instagram - to see which they preferred, and the consensus was overwhelmingly pro-green! Who knew so many people like the color green?!? Of course I still wasn't totally sold, and delayed my decision making until the last minute, when I finally rationalized that these green buttons really were a perfect match with this fabric, and the bamboo buttons are more likely to go with some future fabric/project down the road. So practicality wins the day.

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

This striped top is also a new make. It's another of Closet Case File's Nettie bodysuit, made up in some navy and white striped rayon-y knit that I picked up at a Houston fabric joint. This summer has really been the season of Nettie's for me.  I actually have another Nettie hack all made up that I've been wearing out and about that I need to photograph and write a post about.  This bodysuit was a seriously quick make.  I honestly made it - from cutting to hammering on the crotch snaps - in one evening after work.  I even stopped to eat dinner somewhere in there.  And that's just one of the joys of sewing a knit with a pattern you know works.   This may also just be one of the best looking knit sewing jobs I've ever done.  The neck and leg bindings look ace, the stripes match up on the sides, and kinda on the sleeves too! The insides were all sewn on the serger, and the sleeves were hemmed with a twin needle. For the snap crotch binding I used self fabric interfaced with non-stretch fusible interfacing.  It worked much better than trying to handle a slippery, silky fabric, although it was a bit thick when it came time to hammer in my snaps.  Next time I might just interface some lightweight woven fabric and see how that works.

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

I've really been gravitating to this silhouette of a skin-tight bodice paired with a full skirted bottom.  It's a classically feminine look that just nails it 90% of the time.  However I'm always a bit wary of how I put this look together because I think it can read too '50's housewife' for me.  That look works for plenty of women, but it just looks silly on me.  I think the print mixing of this outfit, and the type of prints used, help the whole outfit feel more modern and bohemian than June Cleaver.  At least that was my aim! 

Well, my lovelies, I think that was plenty of words for this post! I have a few more summer makes planned over the next couple of weeks, so I should be back soon!

xx

7.07.2014

beach babe-in'

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Hi Ya'll!! I hope all my buddies here in the States had a great holiday weekend - maybe you got out of the house, made your way to a nearby pool, or park, or beach, maybe there were some hotdogs involved? Some beer? Or maybe, like me, you spent your holiday holed up with your sewing machines and your newest pattern obsession! Nothing like a long weekend for churning out a few handmade goodies! Which of course culminates in an uber awkward photo session, this time on the beach, in a bikini, with some very curious onlookers!

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Some of you that have been around here for awhile might know that I am currently calling the little beach town of Galveston, TX "home". And while it doesn't boast the classiest or most scenic of beaches, there is still a freaking ocean (okay... gulf - smaller waves, but still salty, and a heckuvalot warmer) just a mere 5 blocks from my front door. And I am not one to turn my nose up to sand, sun, and surf. Actually, I luurve the beach. And living here has taught me that fleshing out my beach (and pool) attire with some new, stylish, non-stretched-out-elastic-saggy-butt swim duds is not only fun, but necessary, as these little garments get quite a lot of wear in a season. Which is why I'm always super psyched when I hear that a new swimsuit pattern is on the market! Last year I got my first foray into sewing swimwear with Heather Lou's Bombshell swimsuit (the suit that made waves across the sewing blogosphere!) And this year I felt ready to take on some more swimwear sewing.

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This is Papercut Patterns newest addition to their collection - the Soma Swimsuit (bikini, variation 2). I was pretty intrigued by this pattern when I saw the release of their newest collection, TRI, but I really fell in love, like, hard, when I saw Lauren's adorable stripe-y version.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't seriously tempted to copy every. single. thing. about that suit! Right down to the yellow trim (and Lauren's hot bod!) But, alas, I begrudgingly made myself muster an inkling of originality and began searching the internet for some fun swim fabric of my own.

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My search didn't last too long, however, and I ended up landing on this nylon spandex from none other than Girl Charlee.  For the contrast triangle I went with a light coral tricot.  Looking at the fabrics online this seemed like it would be a fun color combination, but once I got them together I wasn't so sure - maybe black would have been better? No matter though, I still thought they looked good enough to forge ahead, as you can see! I also decided to get the most out of the different color shifts in this floral-y print by cutting the bust cup pieces out of two different areas. I like how this really highlights the style lines of the top. Otherwise, I thought they might get lost in this busy fabric.

I ended up having to draw in my size for this pattern, because my measurements landed me squarely in between an XS and a S. In retrospect, I probably could have gone with the XS, as drafted, for the top - which was only a half inch off from my bust measurement, but you just never know! After all, there is nothing worse than a swimsuit that pinches your fleshy parts too tight! And almost equally as bad is a swimsuit that is so big you lose it altogether every time you dive into the pool or get hit by a wave! So I wasn't taking any chances. And, as a matter of fact, I am grateful for that extra inch I added to the bottoms!

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I was also a bit worried about bust support with this top. Let's get a bit TMI... I have a pretty average sized bust - I wear a 34C (or a 32D, depending on the bra) however, when left to their own devices, my ladies like to point towards the side, or perhaps I just carry most of my breast tissue towards the sides. So my yearning for bust support wasn't so much about lift (although that's welcome too) but more about keeping my lovelies front and center. After reading Lauren's review of this pattern I gleaned that it would be a bit awkward, or down right impossible, to add swim cups. So I started looking for another route and ended up buying some poly laminate foam from Sew Sassy. This is basically the same stuff that swim cups are made out of, just in one giant sheet instead of formed into boob domes. I cut the two bust cup pieces out of the foam, minus the 1cm seam allowance, then constructed my bust cups as indicated in the instructions - which basically leaves you with the cups and lining connected at the center, horizontal seam (all seam allowances neatly enclosed) but the edges all free. Then I slipped the foam pieces in and topstitched them in place along the horizontal seam. The instructions tell you to only topstitch the bottom cup, but I found that without the topstitching the foam created a little 'ridge' - so both the upper cup and bottom cup got the topstitching treatment.

Once again, in retrospect, I probably could have left it out and I would have been fine - or done as Lauren did and just triple the layers for the bust cup - but this does give a nice, defined boob area, and no chance of nipple show through.

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I also bought black lingerie elastic from Sew Sassy, and used some leftover rubber swimwear elastic that I had from last year's swimsuit sewing for all the edges. However, the lingerie elastic was a bit flimsier than what I was expecting (I saw later that they sell bra straps separately, and that probably was more along the lines of what I had in mind, and what the pattern calls for - this elastic is more like what you might use on a camisole) so I decided to get creative and use multiple straps to help hold the top in place. It does the job, and looks like a cool design feature, even though it was a total spur-or-the-moment, 'make it work', kind of decision.

I love the cut of the bottoms on this suit! They're actually pretty substantial, but they're just a touch cheeky! Sexy!

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After taking these photos I discovered that my swim fabric totally changes colors when wet - in this case with under-boob sweat! So classy. Ah well, I've already embarrassed myself about as much as I can by even posting these pictures on the internet, what's a little boob sweat to top it all off?? 

But seriously, if you would have told me a few short years ago that I would be making my own swimsuits one day I would have called you crazy pants. But here I am! And it feels awesome! Also, when I think about how much I spent on materials for this (and I have a TON left over) and how fast it was to sew, and then I look at the price of a good portion of the swimwear out there, I feel like I just cheated the system. Affordable, handmade, swimwear for all!! 

Now to (safely) get to work on my tan... let the beach bummin' commence!

xx

6.18.2014

candy striper

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Do you guys remember that part in Sex and the City when Big is in New York for heart surgery and Carrie can't stop crying, and she goes to his hotel room where he's recuperating all dressed up like a sexy candy striper to keep him company, and they play games all night, and as they're falling asleep Big is like, "Kid, what are we doing?", and we're all like, "YES! Big finally gets it!", but then in the morning they wake up and he's all distant, and dick-ish, and kicks over the dominos, and we're like, "God dammit! Why do I even watch this show?!?" ?

Yeah... me too...

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This post has nothing to do with that. Except that anytime I see a fabric with thin red lines (especially if they're vertical) I inevitably think of the traditional candy striper uniform (and not necessarily the sexy kind!)

But enough of my free associating! I made a new dress! A simple, classic, easy breezy, knit dress - perfect for pulling on and feeling 'done' in a matter of seconds. I love it for work, I love it for the weekends, I love it for the swelteringly hot summer days we've been having, and for the many more that are yet to come! 

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This is my first, of (hopefully) many, Nettie hack dresses (and before you even ask, yes I am aware that my hem is uneven... more on that in a bit). Ever since making my black Nettie bodysuit I've been scheming up ways to work that pattern, because that little bodysuit has been getting a lot of wardrobe play! My favorite way to wear it is with fuller skirts, so when I was planning a Nettie hack it seemed like a no brainer to pair the top of the bodysuit with a full skirt. There are plenty of patterns out there to create a similar dress (Kitschy Coo's Lady Skater dress, and Colette's Moneta come to mind, but I'm sure there are others). However, this was such an easy pattern hack that it seems a bit silly to purchase another pattern. That Nettie is proving to be quite the versatile little pattern!

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To make this I simply tried on my Nettie bodysuit, made a mark where my natural waist fell, then took it off and transferred that mark to the flat pattern (for reference, on me, it was about 1 inch below the second 'lengthen/shorten' line). Then I drafted a half circle skirt using my actual waist measurement, which is 27.5 inches, and the length I wanted the skirt to be, 26 inches (my preferred midi length), and with the help of the BHL circle skirt app, was able to figure out the maths and draw it up. I cut two half circles and sewed them together at the side seams to make a full circle (of course this was my intention all along so I took that into account when figuring out the waist radius. If this is making your head hurt, don't worry, mine hurts way worse!)

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I suspect my less-than-accurate method of circle skirt drafting could use some work, because as you can see in some of these photos, the hem dips down in one area on both the back and the front. This would have been an easy thing to catch had I taken a second to try on the dress before I hemmed it, but I was in such a rush to wear the damn thing I went full speed ahead! It wasn't until I donned the finished dress and paraded out to the living room to show Nick that I discovered my error. It went a little something like this:

Me: Hey! How do you like my new dress!
Nick: (wolf whistles and other prerequisite admiring sounds) Looks great! I especially love the uneven hem!
Me: WHAT DO YOU MEAN 'UNEVEN HEM'????!!!!

Of course I could go back and fix the uneven areas, but let's be real, I'm not going to. I can live with a little hem dip if you can.

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The fabric is a cotton jersey with a "Persimmon Red Slub Stripe" from Girl Charlee. It has about 30% width wise stretch, and not much vertical stretch. It's slightly sheer, but I just couldn't bring myself to line it (re: swelteringly hot) so nude undergarments are a must! I love the slightly preppy look of stripes in summer dresses, and playing with stripe direction is always fun when planning a garment. I love the way the stripes change direction across the circle skirt - it makes this garment look much more complicated than it is!

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There's not too much to say regarding the actual construction of the dress. I used a long zig-zag stitch, and a walking foot, to baste all the seams before sewing them on the serger to ensure that all my stripes matched up. I used clear elastic to stabilize both the shoulder and the waist. For the waist, I cut my elastic to fit the un-stretched waist of the bodice (26 inches), then first basted my skirt to the elastic, stretching the elastic as I went to create an even gather at the skirt waist. Then I serged the bodice and skirt together. This creates a nice, straight, waistline. As you can see, I left off the sleeves to the Nettie and instead used the same flat-binding method that is used for the neckline to finish the armholes. The hem, predictably, took forever. I first serged the raw edge, then sewed a long gathering stitch along the edge, turned it up and eased in the fullness, pressed it and stitched it down with a twin needle. Besides the uneven-ness, the hem is quite pretty!

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And for the second non-sequitor of this post, let's talk real quick about bodies - somehow it just feels so tied up with sewing your own wardrobe, and this dress is a great example of how making my own clothes has changed the way I feel about my body. This past weekend I was getting caught up on some blog reading and I read this post from Sarai over at the Coletterie which really resonated with me. I agree with pretty much all her points, but the one that really stood out to me was "Body Attitudes Change". Not to completely reiterate Sarai's post, but, you guys, bodies change!! And what's even more, the way we feel about our body, and in our body, and what we put on our body changes too. Even just a year ago I would not have considered this silhouette particularly flattering on me, but now, I just can't get enough of it! For the record, while my body is healthy and strong and (I feel) beautiful, I am not at my thinnest, nor my most toned. I lead an active life, but I don't really exercise, and as I get older it shows. You would think I'd be more comfortable in the looser clothes I used to favor, or ones that don't highlight my wide(er) waist, and full(er) upper body. Don't get me wrong, I still love my loose, billowy styles, it's just these days I've been feeling prettier, and more like 'myself' in curve-hugging silhouettes. At times it's almost felt like an identity crisis! 

It's extremely interesting to think about the way your body evolves in relation to the way your tastes and style evolves. It doesn't always work the way you think. I can't say whether these styles, like the dress here, are 'technically flattering' for my body 'type' (whatever that means). But I do know that I feel good in them, and to my eye, I don't look too shabby either.

What about you guys, has your tastes or style evolved in relation to your body changes? Has it surprised you?

xx

6.10.2014

nick's jeans

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This is Nick doing his best Bruce Springsteen impression... *swoon*
Alternate post title: How To Objectify Your Man.

Hi there! I hope you guys aren't sick of looking at jeans yet, because (un)fortunately for you, I'm not sick of making them! I figured since I  got some good jeans-sewing-momentum going with my last pair, I might as well take advantage of it and make good on a promise to Nick to sew him a pair, too.

Now, I don't need to explain my selfish-seamstress ways to ya'll - I know I'm in good company here! But, this past Christmas I bought Nick all the goods - denim, thread, buttons, rivets - for me to make him his very own pair of jeans. And then proceeded to not make him jeans for the next six months! Seriously, I am the worst gift-giver in the history of ever. The fact that I made myself a pair of jeans before his... well... I was starting to feel like if I didn't get on it soon it would just end up being one of those things that gets brought up 20 years from now in an argument ("yeah, like that time you said you were going to make me jeans...") And really, it's not completely unselfish sewing - brownie points with your husband never hurt anything!

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But the jeans! The jeaannnnssss!!! I made Nick a pair of pants back in November using the Jedediah pants pattern from Thread Theory with the intention of using them as a wearable muslin for a jeans pattern. We discussed a few changes he wanted - like a smaller back yoke and higher back pockets, and I felt confident that I could adjust the pattern to make it more of a jeans style, which mainly meant changing the shape of the front pockets. However when I went hunting for denim, I really decided that only selvedge denim would do for my guy.  I bought the 13.5 oz Cone Mills Selvedge Denim from Taylor Tailor's Supply shop (love that guy!) I love the look of a classic, no-nonsense jean on a man - and it's really Nick's style, too (go figure). I felt like selvedge denim would make a great classic looking jean, but still give that extra special little 'something'.

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However, that presented a bit of a problem.  If you're unfamiliar with selvedge denim jeans, typically the selvedge - which usually has a contrasting color (this denim has a white and red line) - is used for the out-seam of the leg, which means that the pattern must be completely straight along the out-seam. This meant that I was going to have to make some much larger alterations to the Jedediah pattern, and, truth be told, was one of the main reasons I procrastinated on this for so long. I was really worried that shifting the pattern that much would cause the pants to fall weird. However, I bit the bullet and just decided what the hell, and gave it a go! And it worked out, so phew!

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(Apologies for the nasty carpet in my sewing room... I swear it's clean, just old) Hopefully you can see in these photos the difference between the original Jedediah pants pattern on the left, and the altered "Jedediah Selvedge Jeans" pattern on the right. Basically, I measured the distance between the new, straight, out-seam and the original, curved, out-seam at different key points along the length of the leg (high hip, low hip, crotch, thigh, knee, etc.) and shifted the inseam over the corresponding amount.  You can also see how much I changed the yoke piece, too. I measured an old pair of Nick's jeans to get this shape, then transferred the amount I cut off of the yoke to the top of the pants backs.

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I may have taken a smidgen of width out of the hip/butt area while making all these adjustments, but I swear it was for a good reason! I felt like after wearing, Nick's Jedediah khaki's tend to get a very saggy seat and I thought that might help solve the problem. But I think instead it just made the jeans tight in allll the right places!! Bwahahahaha! Accidental WIN for this lucky lady!

While I don't know that this iteration is Nick's 'perfect jeans pattern', I actually really love the way they turned out. Next time (ha!) I would like to take a bit of width out of the waist in the back because I think that might actually be the cause of the saggy seat. And I might consider taking a tiny bit of width out of the legs, although Nick is pretty happy with the way the legs fit as is.

But let's take a look at some of the details, because with jeans, it's alllll about the details!

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I stole a lof of ideas for these from Taylor Tailor's totally drool-worthy jeans. Here you can see the coin pocket which uses the selvedge edge as a nice design feature. Also prominent in this photo is some of my less-than-perfect topstitching! I was really worried about sewing such thick denim on my conventional sewing machine (an older model Singer HD) but it actually handled it like a champ through most of the process - until I got to the belt loops... oy vey. My machine doesn't love belt loops on a good day, but it was just not. happening. with these! I ended up forgoing my usual bartack method for the belt loops and instead just did a few rows of straight stitching. We'll see how well they hold up.

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For the back pockets I copied an old pair of Nick's jeans. Everything that could be sewn with a flat-felled seam was sewn with a flat-felled seam. Including the back rise and yokes, which results in a charmingly, slightly off 'v' where the two yokes meet.

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If love were a seam, it would be 72 inches of painstakingly, hand rolled, flat-felled inseam!

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And, oddly enough, one of my favorite details is this little cobalt blue buttonhole!

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I gave Nick strict instructions to limit the amount of washing he gives these jeans. Indigo dyed, 100% cotton denim like this is known for it's ability to break in and 'mold' to the wearer, creating beautiful fades with time. I'm actually quite smitten with these jeans, to be honest! So smitten that I'm itching to make myself a pair, too! But don't worry, I'll take a jeans-sewing break for now and make something else for a bit to end the denim monotony that's been going on around these parts!

And now, because it's my blog and I say so...

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Let's take one last look at that tush!!

Seriously... dude butts do not get enough screen time on this blog!

xx

5.30.2014

black on black

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim and black jersey tee

Hey everybuddy! I know these pictures look suspiciously a lot like my last post - but I swear it's all new makes! I feel like every year around this time I get the urge to make myself a new pair of jeans - and once I go down the jeans making route, well, it's basically a straight shot to Wardrobe-Basic-Ville!  After all, one can make only so many fun dresses before you're left standing in front of your closet on a random Tuesday morning, naked, with nothing to wear! (No? Only me?)

So for this months Mood Sewing Network make, I bring you the ever-so-humble jeans and a t-shirt combo - in all black. Because black is always the new black. This was mildly inspired by the fact that earlier this month I listened to Just Kids by Patti Smith on audiobook, read by none other than Patti Smith herself. Despite the fact that I was already pretty familiar with Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe's story (I'm pretty sure it's a requirement for every art school kid), it was still a pretty engrossing read... er.. listen? And it definitely led me down a rabbit-hole of image searches where I became pretty obsessed with Patti and Robert's grungy, rock & roll style.

But let's talk about sewing!

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim and black jersey tee

This is my fourth pair of handmade jeans (here, here, and the ones that started it all, here), and I swear they just keep getting better! For this pair I used a black, medium weight denim with a bit of stretch by Theory from Mood Fabrics online. Unfortunately this particular denim is now sold out, but I highly recommend the Theory denim. I've used it for one other pair of jeans and the stuff holds up well. I always like to order swatches of my denim before buying, because it's a bit hard to tell the difference online. That way I can pick out the weight, color, and amount of stretch I like best.  This denim had some stretch for comfort, but wasn't so stretchy that it didn't feel like denim, if you know what I mean. True confessions: I've actually been wearing these jeans for the past three days by the time I got around to photographing them, and the denim hasn't stretched out much at all!

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim
Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim

Also - distressing!!! Denim. Distressing denim. I feel like people generally fall into two camps when it comes to jeans: The Purists (I will take my denim raw, and dark, and made the way my forefathers made it) and The Fashion Followers (Colored denim?! Let's do it!! Printed denim?!?! Where do I sign up!! Denim so torn up and distressed it's practically a crime that their selling it?!?! Gimme some of dat!!!)(Also, I couldn't think of a better name for this camp, suggestions are welcome). And then there's those of us that fall in between. I appreciate some fresh raw denim, so stiff it'll chafe your thighs the first month of wearing, but every now and then I get envious of those cool kids with their store-bought denim all perfectly ripped and faded... 

So I decided to try my hand at some light distressing of my own. After all,  distressing denim is just a fun embellishment! Obviously for the home sewer, industrial distressing techniques are a bit scarce, but you'd be surprised what you can do with a few basic tools. For my pair I used a hammer and a metal plate to hammer each seam, then I took a dremmel tool to the edges to wear them down and fray certain areas. It was great stress relief! You know, in case the yoga and meditation ain't working - there's nothing quite like destroying something to cure what ails 'ya! 

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim and black jersey tee

For the pattern I used my ol' reliable - the Built By Wendy pants pattern from SewU, which is so altered at this point that I should just call it mine. On my last pair of jeans that I made I had some issues with the dreaded leg twist (that spoiler of all jeans-making fun!) If you're not familiar, leg twist is when one or both legs ... well... twist! It's mildly irritating both visually, and physically for the wearer. It's often the result of inaccurate cutting or sewing, and seems to be very prevalent with jeans due to the twill weave of the fabric - which tends to have built in warp - or skew (according to my google searches). So this time I took a few precautionary steps to prevent this: 1) I traced and cut all pieces on a single layer instead of folded in half (this also results in greater fabric yield) and 2) I made sure that all the leg pieces were cut from the same area of fabric - meaning I lined them all up, going in the same direction, horizontally across the fabric. I actually remembered to take a picture while I was working to show you what I'm talking about:

My yardage was wide enough that all four leg pieces could be placed this way. This way if the twill weave was to skew, they would all skew together! Anyway, it worked! Nothing but perfectly straight seams here! If you want to read more about leg twist - this is a good source.

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim
Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim

I realized I've never really shown you guys the insides of one of my pairs of jeans. Not that they're all that exciting, but I know how nosy all of us sewists are when it comes to construction! All of my topstitching was done in black topstitching thread, which unfortunately means that it's not super visible. This is a shame, because this just might be my best topstitching on a pair of jeans yet! Also, fun fact - I don't use a twin needle to do any of my topstitching. I've broken way too many twin needles during jeans sewing that I've just given up. I usually draw out my topstitching by hand, and use my chalk lines as a guideline.

I serged all the raw edges since this is stretch denim, and because I was too lazy to do flat felled seams. And the pocket lining is just some pretty floral fabric that I keep around for just such a purpose.

Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim
Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim
Mood Fabrics Black distressed denim and black jersey tee

Because jeans sewing can be such a time-consuming project (especially if you're like me and only own one sewing machine - you're constantly changing out thread!) I wanted to pair it with an instant-gratification sew. And nothing says 'instant-gratification' to me quite like a knit t-shirt!

Mood Fabrics Black viscose jersey tee

After seeing Heather Lou's super sexy version of Deer & Doe's Plantain Tee I decided I had to jump on that bandwagon. Also, free t-shirt pattern!?! Yes please! I used this drapey silk viscose jersey from Mood, and, man oh man, is this stuff ever luxurious to wear! Silky and smooth and light, with a lovely fluidity. Even though this pattern calls for a more stable knit, I felt like the drapey quality of this silk viscose would actually pair well with the subtle flared shape of the Plantain tee (and, also, I was copying Heather... duh... clearly I can't get enough of that girl). I stabilized the shoulder seams with a bit of clear elastic, and sewed all major seams on my serger. The sleeve and shirt hems were both simply folded under and finished with a double needle.

Mood Fabrics Black viscose jersey tee

And to thank you guys for putting up with another extra long post, I'll leave you with this gem:

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Not really sure what I was going for there! But ya know... I like to get a little crazy for the camera every now and then. And yes, this was in front of a stranger's house. A stranger who came home while I was taking these. I have no shame...

Well, anyway! I've been wearing both of these makes a ton since they came hot off of the sewing machine! I think that's a sign of a great basic! What about you guys - got any wardrobe basics planned for the near future?

xx