Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Vogue 8634 + glittery skirt = Holiday outfit

Here's the outfit I made to wear to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert we attended on December 22. They play rock music so I wanted something a little edgy but Christmas-y too.

These 2 fabrics were bought independently from each other. The top is made from a cranberry wool knit from Fashion Fabrics Club and the sequined cranberry stretch wool fancy (whatever that means) is from Hancock Fabrics. I have a ton of the wool knit left over and will probably do some sort of skirt with it. They were both easy fabrics to work with and the top was simple enough to be finished in a day or so.

The skirt was a good two week ordeal. I should have just done a simple straight skirt from my TNT straight skirt pattern but no, I seem to like to complicate things. The top was so simple that I thought I needed something with interest for the skirt. I muslined a skirt from Burda but the fit was way off and I didn't feel like doing the necessary alterations to make it work. Then I cut the fabric for a pleated mini using my TNT waistband. Well, the waistband did fit but the pleats did not take to the fabric well. And no, I did not muslin that one first. Then I had to salvage it somehow so used another pattern for a straight skirt that I'd not made previously and had to add 6 darts to the area under the waistband to make it work. The zipper I'd sewn into the center back and foolishly not tried on until after the waistband facing was completely hand sewn in place stuck out at the bottom like a tail, and no amount of fiddling with it could get it to lay smoothly. It was moved to the side seam where it now behaves itself. After all that I chose not to line it and added some wide ribbon to the inside to keep the sequins from scratching my skin/tights and to act as a hemline facing. However, I really should have lined it because the fabric bags out in the bottom when I sit down for 5 minutes. I may or may not fix that little issue but for now it is going in the back of my closet so I don't have to think of what a nightmare it was to sew. It's a good thing I made the top first because otherwise the skirt would have been in the trashcan.

I wore this outfit to the concert (and did not have the shortest skirt there by far) and also for Christmas Eve with my husband's family. They didn't say anything about it so I'm thinking they thought my skirt scandalously short and chose to ignore my festive clothing completely. What do you think - can a 30 something mom of 3 get away with a mini skirt if she's wearing dark tights and boots with it?

I am cleansing my palette from the nightmare skirt with a very fun little lined jacket. It is coming along s-l-o-w-l-y but now that Christmas is over I hope to finish it up quickly. And we are going to see Les Miserables in early January and I was suppose to make an entire outfit for that as well. It's not happening and I've got to figure out something else quickly.

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Simplicity 2459 - Black baby overalls w/ apple embroidery

I have had these overalls completed for at least 2 weeks but haven't gotten them posted until now because:

1. I'm in some sort of blogging funk and don't feel like it.
2. This garment attracts SO MUCH lint that every time I put it on the baby she is instantly covered with hairs/dust/threads (maybe I should vacuum more...)
3. Taking pictures of something black on an uncooperative model isn't easy.

These aren't the best pictures ever but oh well. I'm going to have to live with them so I can cross this post off my to-do list.

This fabric is a small wale corduroy from Hancock fabrics. The only tough part of working with it was the cutting layout. More on that later. Rachel is a skinny baby, as I've mentioned before. I cannot find any pants to fit her because if they fit in the waist, they are super short in length. Good thing I can sew. I made these in an x-small for the width and a medium for the length. The straps could stand to be a little longer as they're already buttoned at the last button hole.

Please ignore the Target bags. It's about impossible to get a picture of her not turning to look at me!
I liked the elastic casings at the outer legs that you might be able to see if you stare long enough. The back straps meet in a V which I also though was cute. I did NOT LOVE the snap tape at the inner leg seam. Ugh! What a pain! Plus, she wiggles so much when I'm trying to re-snap them that it's not any easier having diaper access that way. The next pair will not have it.

Now because of the evenly spaced apples, I had to be careful when laying this out that the apples continued the same spacing across the center front/back of the legs and the bib. If you look back at the top picture, you will notice that the apples along the outer leg seams are a lot more clustered. There was no way around this.

I am planning to make this again, maybe in denim. The ruffly dress from this pattern is also really cute and is the reason I bought it in the first place:

Friday, December 9, 2011

December Burda picks

I told you last month I'd be purchasing the magazine for December as well. If you are interested in where I get them, I order from GLP International. They charge $10 per issue, and that's with the shipping included.

The reason I had to have this month's copy is because of this coat:

I love all the seaming, the Peter Pan collar, the oversized pockets. I really want the exact ivory color as seen on the example, but lighter color wool coatings are hard to find. There seem to be an over-abundance of dark and muted colors available from the online fabric stores I frequent, but hardly any bright or light hues.

Skirt 105 is also a pretty, flattering style. It reminds me a lot of this skirt, but without the front ruffle. I also very much like the skirt suit they've created with the shortened version of 104, but think all the beautiful seaming on the jacket is lost by using such a textured fabric.

Dress 107 is gorgeous! Love the intricate tucks of the bodice, fitted & shaped midriff panel, double ruffled sleeves. There are a few things I'd tweak about it - mainly those front gathers below the midriff panel and the unnecessary vertical seams in the front and back bodice.

Faux fur jacket 113 is the sewing course for this month. I have seen these little fur jackets popping up everywhere lately and want one too! It should be an easy project to whip up using some fabric that's been languishing in my stash for at least 5 years.

 Lastly, I really like the looks of gown 129, even though I have no where to wear it nor any possible reason in the future to need an evening gown. Maybe I could use it if I cut it knee length...

The January preview is already online here, but there's really nothing much that interests me in it. Perhaps this is the last copy I'll purchase for awhile. Are there any of your favorites that I've missed?

I was going to post Rachel's new overalls earlier this week, but she got them dirty before I could take any pictures. Kids are so messy! Anyway, they have been laundered so I should be able to snap some pics later today.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Butterick 5521 - Mixed materials sheath dress

I saw a picture of this Johathan Saunders dress on Michelle Obama months ago and absolutely adored it. The mixture of fabrics really resonated with me, and I knew I wanted to make something similar.

However, finding the right materials proved something of a challenge. I had the black leather already in my stash, and was able to purchase the black wool gabardine quickly, but the dark gray tweed was a challenge. I thought I had some at one point but it sold out before my order was cut (an online purchase.) All of my local stores had some in polyester, but if I was using leather and wool for part of the dress, I really didn't want to use polyester for the main body. Just when I had given up the search, look what I found at the Goodwill secondhand store:

It was a Ralph Lauren 100% lambswool gray tweed maxi skirt in size 2P which was too small for me even if I liked wearing maxi skirts. But the fabric was LOVELY and at $2.99 I couldn't pass it up. I was just barely able to squeeze out the necessary pieces to make my dress, and had to put a vertical seam in the back bodice area that is hopefully not very noticeable.

And no, it is not an exact copy of the inspiration dress but I am okay with that since I didn't have to do any pattern drafting. (It was really cold and windy the day these pictures were taken. My face is saying oh-my-gosh-I'm-SO-cold-hurry-up-and-snap-the-picture-already!) I did make a muslin and only had a few minor tweaks at the hips and center front bodice. The pattern did not call for any interfacing and I didn't put any in, but now I'm wishing I had along that center front slit. As is I had to spray some starch on it to get it stiff enough to hold its shape.

I have this thing about sleeveless winter dresses. Maybe it's because I like long sleeved dress a lot, I don't know. Anyway, my plan was to include sleeves even though my inspiration dress didn't have any. I cut some out and stitched one to the dress but really didn't like the looks of it. By this point, of course, the bodice had been completed and the zipper was in. This forced me to iron the SAs in on both the dress and lining and stitch them together invisibly by hand. 

I think this was a good project for my first go at sewing with leather. The amount necessary was relatively small and didn't make me quite so nervous of making a mistake with it. At first I glued the leather SA to the outside leather where it gets folded back, but that was noticeable from the outside. So I found our rubber mallet and hammered them down instead.

Here you can see where I had to piece the center backs together because of fabric limitations. I hated to do it but now think it blends in perfectly. Also, this pattern was top notch for having all the various pieces come together neatly. Notice how the width of the flanges is the exact same as the distance between the back skirt darts:
The leather flanges were backed in the same black wool as the dress sides.
Here is the pattern envelope picture:

This dress fulfills item #5 in my fall/winter must haves list and I absolutely adore it. I have two more projects almost complete including some overalls for my little girl. Hopefully I'll get at least one posted by Sunday. I hope you all have a really great weekend!

Friday, November 18, 2011

November Burda picks

Yeah. I ordered another one. And I really like the looks of the December issue too. Now I am thinking about re-subscribing. But you can bet the minute I do they will go back to pillow-cases-posing-as-dresses and already-seen-it-a-thousand-times designs. As long as I don't buy the subscription they might keep up the trend toward more interesting clothing, right? You may all chime in with your thanks now.

Wait, what was my point for writing this post? Oh yeah.

Up first is jacket 104. Lets see - fitted jacket, interesting design lines, really cool collar and shoulder tabs - it pretty much has my name all over it. I will have to un-petite it, though.

Next are some rock'in leather pants, 108. I'm posting the picture of the garment as the drawing is pretty ugly looking. These are made from metallic leather, but I do have plenty of cream leather hides that would work. Do I need leather pants? Where the heck would I wear them? I've never had a particularly warm leather jacket, but I'm wondering if leather pants would make me hot (temperature wise). Lots of questions for this one, but I like the looks of them non the less.

It's a jacket - no wait, it's a cape. It's a jape cacket jacket-cape. Well, whatever it is, design 118 is definitely interesting looking.

I reserve my final opinion of dress 119 for when Allison finishes hers. It's hard to see how this dress looks from the magazine pictures. Both the short and long versions have the model sitting down; one is made up in black and the other photographed half hidden in shadows. Again, though, I'm intrigued by originality of the design.

Dress 120 is THE REASON I bought this issue. I love a dress with long sleeves and that ruffle down the front is perfection. Love. It.

Dress 123 is certainly a sexy little number. It's relatively simple but still interesting with all those front pleats coming together at one focal point. The one on the model in the magazine doesn't fit her all that well, so I'm anxious to see this made up.

Dress 126 is a formal gown that I have nowhere at the moment to wear it to. You never know, though, I might decide to make it up for some future theater show. Again, this dress does not fit the magazine model. I am wondering where they got this poor woman. All of the clothing they gave her to take pictures in are skin-tight and puckering at the seams. Except for the long blue taffeta one, where she appears to be sans clothing and is holding it up to herself while smoking a cigarette. Bizarre. I do think this dress is really pretty, despite the fit issues.

So there you have it. I'll be purchasing the December issue as well because there is a coat in it that I just cannot live without.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vogue 1261 - Navy tie-dyed asymmetrical hem top

This is one of the new fall Vogues that I liked because I saw other women wearing the same style and found it surprisingly flattering. Plus I loved the neckline, reglan sleeves and interesting exposed seaming included.

And since I was intimidated by my next leather project wanted something quick and simple, I decided to give this pattern a try. I used a fun tie-dyed matte jersey that has a pebbly texture from Originally it was going to be made into a dress, but had runs down both edges about 15" in. So, I had to find another pattern that would fit inside the runs and was no more then 30 inches in length.

I cut a size small with no fit adjustments. The back was cut on the fold to eliminate the double ribbon detail original to the pattern as I didn't want to break up the print.

Here at the neckline you can better see the exposed seams along the reglan sleeves and bias bound neckline. The pattern instruct you to use a twin needle, but I could only find one with narrow spaced needles. Instead, I simply topstitched it 1/8" from the seamline on both sides of the sleeve seam and then trimmed the excess fabric away.

I thought about leaving the hems raw with a double row of topstitching per the pattern instructions, but it just looks unfinished to me and is not to my personal taste. And since I so liked the bias bound neckline with raw edge, I decided to do the same for the sleeves and bottom hems.

I had to miter the binding at the side points, but otherwise it was very simple to do.

So there you have it! A simple knit tunic in a silhouette that is new to me that I like very much! I plan to make view C from this pattern as well and have a really neat idea for it. But first I have to find the right fabrics...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gray pinstripe wool dress - updated pictures

The weather has cooled off here in Texas and I decided to wear this dress for the first time today for church. It didn't fit last year because I was nursing my baby, but now is just right.

I took out the top hook and eye from the neckline to let the collar relax a bit. Beforehand the sides of the collar were sticking up in a weird manner.

I opted for no cardigan today as it was pretty mild outside and this dress is made from wool suiting. I froze! Which is making me doubt the 100% wool label on the fabric bolt. Next time I will take a wrap!

BTW, per the discussion in my last post, I hope you all do not think I am walking around Target or the grocery in high healed pumps. I only wear those for pictures, occasional date nights, church or special occasions. Just wanted to clear that up!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vogue 1127 - Badgley Mischka sleeveless bow blouse

Bow blouses are hot right now, and this was trend #1 on my fall/winter must sew list. To be honest with you, I never even noticed this pattern until I saw this review for it on Then I got to looking at the pattern envelope, and noticed the fabric they used for the example reminded me of this pink houndstooth charmeuse I purchased from JoAnn's around the same time. I could see it all made up in my mind's eye, easily worn with a sweater or jacket in colder months or by itself when warmer. That's pretty much all it takes to convince me to purchase a pattern!

Here's mine, being worn with a black wool skirt I made several years ago that is finally fitting again. It's amazing how many items in my closet this blouse matches - my hot pink wool skirt, my gray leopard wool skirt, my gray tweed pleated skirt, etc., not to mention various jackets and cardigans. I would have gotten some pictures of it with other things, but my photographer isn't especially keen on taking tons of pictures of me in different outfits. He can be a tiny bit cranky sometimes. :)

Here at the side you can get a feel for the looseness of it through the torso. It is actually cut like a trapeze dress with no indention for the waist. Since I wanted to wear it tucked in, I decided to cut the sides smaller and used Simplicity 2554 as my guide. Without having much shaping, the horizontal lines of the fabric needed only to be matched at the side seams.

My hair should probably be worn in a bun with this top as I think the back of the neck a really fun design feature. Incidentally, getting this over my head is a bit of a squeeze. I do have a larger then normal sized head, though, but wish I had made the opening an inch or so bigger.

Because of fabric limitations, I had to cut the bow a lot smaller then the pattern piece provided. Can you believe I cut off 8 inches from the center back ends of both sides of the tie?! I also cut the width down by 1 inch! That was one ginormous bow!!! Closer inspection of the pattern envelope leads me to believe it must also have been reduced in size.

I usually do not go for these sorts of loose and flowy designs, and I especially don't like my neck being constricted with too much fabric. That fear of feeling choked, coupled with my fabric shortage, caused the need for some modifications to the collar. Here it is without the ties around it. This front part I cut on the bias as instructed, but cut the height down by the same inch as the ties.

For the inside of the collar, I cut a much narrower height - 3.5" including seam allowances - the same height you are instructed to gather your back collar to, and also cut it on the bias. Then I fused knit interfacing to the back to give it some stability but still enable it to stretch a bit. The outer collar was attached to the inner collar, and rows of gathering stitch were put in at the side seams. Then I sewed the outer collar to the gathered neckline of the blouse, stitched the backs of the collars together, and slip-stitched the inner collar to the inside of the blouse. Make sense?

After the collar was attached and finished on the inside, I gathered up my side gathering stitches and topstitched the outer collar to the inner collar at the sides. This was done to further restrict the fabric from bunching up under my neck. It turned out to be a very neat finish, and is completely hidden under the ties when being worn.

 This pattern provided for some nice finishing inside touches, including directions for french seams and a piece for bias bound armholes. Oh, I forgot to mention that I made the size 8 and I'm normally a 10-12 for tops. The underarms were a pretty tight fit, so I cut them down by 1 inch. The bias binding still worked, though, so I didn't have to recut larger pieces.

It's a fun little top with lots of outfit variations. And incidentally, I had a question from Veronica when I posted that Cynthia Rowley plaid skirt. Here is what she asked:

Cute skirt! So, I've been a lurker for sometime. I love your blog. Question...I see that you're a SAHM. Where do you wear most of these items? I ask because I want to sew more for myself but I work from home so I'm torn with wanting to make more clothes like what you make and just making lounge stuff over and over...know what I mean? I'm trying to "justify" making nicer clothes, I guess...if that makes any sense! :)

I find myself being asked ALOT why I am so dressed up on what appears to be an average day. I am a stay-at-home-mom after all, I should adhere to the jeans and a t-shirt dress code for my job, right? The problem is I like pretty clothes. I like to feel put together and that I look nice. What is the point of having a closet full of nice garments if you never plan to wear them? I recommend all of you stay-at-home types try it for at least a week. You'll feel better about yourself; find yourself eating better and taking care of your body. You'll get better service from salespeople at stores and more smiles from complete strangers.