Secrets revealed…

As several of you probably already know, BurdaStyle revealed today that they’re going to be making a book! (You can read the announcement here.) It’s a really great concept– five patterns (designed by Alison Dahl Kelly, who was one of my favorite designers from her season of Project Runway, so yay!) along with instructions and ideas for how to vary the patterns.

I’m thrilled that the announcement is finally out…I may have alluded once or twice to a secret project that I’ll be working on in July, and now I can say that I was selected to make one of the variations! We were asked what our preferences were out of the five types of patterns that would be created, and after being asked to do two sketches for each of two types, I get to do a variation of my first pick, which was the coat pattern. (You know me, I love my jackets and blazers!) I have my fabric, and am just waiting to get the pattern– I think it’s coming out this weekend.

I have permission from BurdaStyle to document the process on here, so that’s what I’ll mostly be talking about over the next couple of weeks. Though hopefully I’ll have a finished project to show beforehand, since I have all but the hem done on the dress I’m working on.

Thrift store scores

….mostly, anyway. I do have one purchased piece at the end that I need some styling help with, so stay tuned!

Other than sewing, the main way that I’ve gotten clothes into my wardrobe ever since I was a teenager has been thrift shopping. I got away from that a bit after I stopped doing the Wardrobe Refashion pledges (mainly because I desperately needed pants for work, and that’s the one thing I’ve never had much luck with buying used–or new, for that matter–stupid pants. One of these days I will conquer fitting you!) But I’ve been getting back into it lately, mainly because I have a friend that I go with pretty much every time we hang out. I like it because you can find some really unique stuff, and it’s usually a lot less expensive! So I just wanted to share some of the things I’ve found over the last couple of months.

These are some of my favorite finds this year. From the top: a long zipped-up vest thing (not quite long enough for even a mini-dress, but it’ll be great for one of the concerts I’m going to later this summer!), a printed wrap top, an Asian print cross-over top, a striped blouse, and a mock-wrap top. Figures that most of them are crazy prints– I just can’t seem to stay away from them!

I often see fun details on them that I want to try and pull into my sewing, too. Like the pleats on the sleeve of the wrap top. Or this gathering detail on the green top–it’s hard to see because of the print, but that was what drove me to buy it after I tried it on (the print was what grabbed me, of course!) The black and white pinstriped blouse is a kind of sedate print for me, but I loved the closure detail–it’s a bunch of hooks and eyes rather than a button or zipper. (Which pretty much demands I wear a cami underneath in case of wardrobe malfunction, but I’ll be warmer in the fall and winter that way anyway!)

Now for the styling help:

I can’t really say this was an impulse buy for me– I literally debated it for weeks, watched it go out of stock and come back in a couple of times, before finally getting the Thekkady vest from ModCloth. After going through my little style project, I decided it might be fun to try and pull vests into my wardrobe again, and this one was pretty cute. The only problem is, now that I own it, I realized that I have absolutely no idea what to wear with it! I don’t have a lot of solid-colored tops, and many of the ones I have are V-necks or have other detailing that would make it difficult to wear with this. Not sure what, if anything, would work with it in the way of prints or dresses, either. So in order to actually make this work in my wardrobe and justify my purchase, I need to figure out what to wear with it (or what to sew to wear with it)! So any suggestions are welcome!

And with that, I’ll now return you to your regularly scheduled crafty-related posts…after I write another one, of course!

Me vs. the flowery explosion, part 3: I win!

That’s right, I didn’t let the top defeat me. I’m stubborn like that. And even though this is kind of a departure for me (especially the color scheme), I think it turned out pretty good. Good thing I’m so pale.

And no, Shelly, I hadn’t specified which pattern I used yet, but here’s a review for you!

Pattern: Simplicity 3750

Pattern Rating: Recommend, with modifications

Pattern Description: A tie-back tunic top with sleeve variations.

Pattern Sizing: 8-16. I cut a 14.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Pretty much, yes. I started out intending to make view C (with the cap sleeves), but it ended up looking too Regency-era so I took them off to end up with view E (the sleeveless one) instead.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were fine– I just made things way more complicated for myself by adding a lining.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the look of the finished product, though there are things I’d change if I make it again (mainly making it cut a little higher.) I also like that it has the wide tieback sash, because I like my empire-waist tops with an option to make my waist look more fitted whenever possible. I didn’t really care for the instructions to finish the armholes and back neck with bias binding, or that the elastic in the neckline is just a fold-over casing–I think that could have the potential to flip to the wrong side. But for the most part I didn’t follow that part.
Fabric Used: A silky print polyester, with a satiny polyester for the sash and lining (I used the wrong side of the fabric for the sash–as you can see here in the lining, it would have been WAY too shiny in contrast otherwise!).

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: As stated before, I ended up fully lining this top. With the light background of the print, it was just a little too see-through to go without. I also ended up adding about 3/4″ in the bustline (and adjusting the lower front, back and front strap accordingly) so it would fit my chest better, and then taking out an additional 1/2″ from the seam allowance just below the armholes on each side because it was gapping.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I might sew it again– I really like the look of the sleeves on view B. But if I do, I’m going to raise the neckline more, and use a little less elastic so it doesn’t gap at the neckline. If I’d strictly followed the directions and not had to figure out the lining, I think it would have been a pretty easy top to sew, so in that I would recommend it. But I would also caution to beware of the fabric you use if you go for a print, because it’s really easy to make it look too 18th-19th century with a smaller floral!

Conclusion: It’s a cute summer top–just maybe not quite as easy as the pattern thought if you want to make it look nice and finished.

I’m glad to have gotten this one knocked out of the queue…now if I could just figure out what to do with the leftovers! Angelia suggested maybe a quilted bag, so I’ll consider that. I’ve been really bad about my fabric estimations this summer, it seems– I’ve ended up with significant leftovers for every single project I’ve made lately!

I don’t have much in the way of work today–Tuesdays is my day off from the garden center this summer so I can do a lot of teaching, but every student I would normally have this morning and afternoon is away at a camp that my church throws every summer! So I just have a few later this afternoon and that’s it. I’m hoping to get some more work done on tweaking my jeans muslin (which I have to out-stubborn even more than this shirt, because it just refuses to fit me properly), and then I have a dress that I cut out over the weekend that I’m really excited to make. I’d much rather work on that than the muslin, actually, but I feel like I need to work on it while I can still get the instructor’s help! It looks like the dress is going to be a more or less straight from the pattern project, so theoretically, this should come together fast. “Theoretically” being the key word here…

Me vs. the flowery explosion, part 2

And the saga continues! As you can see, taking the sleeves off did help a lot. (As long as you ignore the tank top I’m wearing underneath. Too lazy to change.) Now it’s not so much “bad girls of the Regency era” and a bit more 60s flower child, which is a little more like what I had in mind to begin with. Still not the most flattering fit on me, I have to say…I feel like it looks boxy and huge, and I kind of wish the sash was a darker color. But the orange would have been too much to match, and that weird coral color would have come off too pink in any solid I could have found. (It really is more of a reddish coral color, but I probably would have had to go with a salmon. I am not a pink girl, as anyone who has been reading this blog for any stretch of time knows, and this fabric was a bit of a stretch for me to begin with!)

If I cut it to about this length, though, it might not be so bad…

The armholes are still a bit of an issue– I had trouble showing just how gappy they are when the shirt is on, but you can see the ripples. I do think I probably need to take it in there at least half an inch. Also thinking that the easiest bet might be to just suck it up and bias bind it like the pattern called for in the first place. Though maybe if I use some more of that seafoamy green, it won’t be such the shocking pop on the sash.

Not sure if I’m going to get to playing with it today– I’m just feeling really tired and headachey this afternoon, I spent the morning running errands, I’ve got a total experimental biscotti recipe in the oven that I decided to try spur of the moment (I had to turn it on anyway to make cookies for my dad for tomorrow, at his request), and I’d already decided to grill dinner tonight. I’m not motivated to work on my jeans muslin, either. So I think once the biscotti are done, I’m just going to cut out my next sewing project, since that’s relatively brainless compared to tweaking fit. (Besides, cutting is one of those things that I need to take advantage of having actual motivation. One of my least favorite parts of sewing.) And then just play video games the rest of the day. Because I got myself a Wii this week, and it’s Saturday, and I can, darn it!

But I am hoping that I can finish this top, the jeans muslin, the next project (a maxi-dress) and maybe a reconstruction that’s been simmering in the back of my mind all summer, by the end of the month. I have a secret project for July, which I can’t actually start yet. And it would be nice to get these couple of things taken care of first!

I have a bad feeling about this…

I have to admit, I’ve been having a great deal of difficulty getting motivated to sew over the past couple of days. I think part of it is my ongoing frustration with my inability to get my jeans muslin to fit properly– no matter what I do, the front crotch just refuses to work. I’m seriously at the point where I’m so tempted to just deconstruct the relic-from-high-school jeans that still fit and try cutting around them and see if that gets me anywhere. But part of it is the current project that I’ve been doing on the side, too. It’s a somewhat different color scheme for me, which could be part of it….but if I believed in this sort of thing, I’d think that the universe was trying to tell me something. As in, “this shirt sucks.”

I mean, maybe it would be ok as a longer dress, if I was in Little House on the Prarie. Or “Jane Austen Girls Gone Wild”. Or if I was about 15 years younger than I am now. It’s just something about the combination of the print and the style that is completely not working. Not to mention the fit is pretty atrocious, despite my tweaks. Or possibly because of them. (And trust me, it looks much, much better on Donna than it does on me.) So I think I’m going to have to call this one a wadder.

On the plus side, the top and bottom of the bodice did end up in the right places. So at least I was on the right track. And at least I thought to try it on to test the look before I did all of the annoying handwork things.

I might consider trying the pattern again, with some serious tweaking (and perhaps a solid-colored fabric), because it does have a sleeve option that I really like. I don’t want to admit total defeat on this fabric, so I think I’m going to take this one apart, salvage what I can of the material, take that yardish piece that I have left, and see if I can just make a better-fitting tank top. Or at least something that doesn’t make me look like I’m going to party like it’s 1799.

Edit, 6/18: Thanks for all of the feedback so far! I’m going to try taking the sleeves off and tweaking the side seams a bit to see a) if the style/print combo works better without those sleeves and b) if having a closer fit helps the armhole issue. I’ll keep you posted…just have to get a new memory card reader for my computer first, since the USB port completely snapped off at last! (It’s been threatening to do so for awhile now…)

It’s curtains for me (again)!

Ok, so they took a little longer than I thought. Apparently I slightly overestimated the amount of fabric that I needed, and after I’d already sliced the fabric in half (mostly for ease of ironing the 4 1/2 yards of fabric), I ended up having to chop an extra foot off of each piece! And since I’d already hemmed both raw edges on one of these, I had to hem it a second time after. (Boy, am I glad I decided to check before I started the second curtain!) But they’re done, finally, and it’s good to have one of those projects that’s been hanging over my head since October out of the way.

Added bonus: This will make a much nicer backdrop for having Donna the Dummy model my finished garments!

The Elements Jewelry Series, part 3: Water

Third element down! The necklace has actually been done for about a month, but I only finished the earrings last night– it took me awhile to figure out how I wanted to do them, and I originally had a different idea, so…yeah. This one was fun to put together– I basically just dumped a bunch of blue, green, and clear beads in a container and randomly strung them together.

I knew I wanted to make a multi-strand necklace for this one, since it would give kind of a wave-like effect. And I did something a little different for me–I had these “focal clasps” in my stash that are meant to double as a pendant. And when I spotted the pattern on these when digging through recently, I realized they would be absolutely perfect for a water-themed piece! It’s a little odd for me letting the clasp hang in the front, but I’ve gotten several compliments on the necklace so far. (I’ve worn it a couple of times on its own without the unfinished earrings.)

Once I abandoned my original earring idea, which involved twisting several strands of seed beads together with one of those cones and would have been a pain in the butt to get on an earring hook, I decided to just pull these as-of-yet unused chandelier earring forms from the stash. I could get all artsy here and say that the teardrop shape is meant to represent a droplet of water, but in actuality, it’s just that these looked like they’d work better than the figure-8 shaped ones that I had! (Besides, water droplets are actually round.) I actually was thinking of ice for the larger crystal beads in the top of the teardrop–some of those are in the necklace. I’m still not totally sure it worked, but those looked a lot better than the smaller beads that are in the dangles.

So now I just have one element to go, and it’s going to be the most challenging for me–after all, “fire” colors aren’t ones that usually end up in my wardrobe! So I’ll have to dig through my stash and think pretty hard about that one.

Other news: As you can see, I’ve changed the background. Again. Blogger made it easier to do so, and I liked this one. It looks like funky printed fabric. The sad thing is, I’ve lost my scrolling sidebar for the finished projects. Again. So now I need to figure out how to fix it again, and the html is being uncooperative. I really wish sometimes that I was better at editing these things.

Also, yesterday was a pretty frustrating sewing day. The jeans muslin still isn’t working, and I’d decided to make curtains to go in the front of my closet once I’d taken the muslin as far as I could. And then discovered that I must have underestimated how much fabric I needed, or used it up in my quilt or something, because I didn’t have enough! So I went to Joann’s and got more this afternoon, and it’s currently in the washer, so once I dry it, I’m going to whip that up. (I have clip rings for this one, and the print goes all the way to the selvedges, so I literally only have four hems to sew and they’re done.) I could have worked on a shirt I’m making, but at that point, I was so annoyed that I figured I’d make a bunch of stupid mistakes. So I did some much-needed cleaning instead. (Well, that and finished the earrings.)

Oh, and look at this jacket pattern that I found! I  couldn’t pass it up. Though I have no idea what fabric to use with it yet, since every recommended thing on the back is wool and my sensitive skin can’t put up with that– I literally get prickly irritated skin just from touching the stuff, let alone wearing it! (One of the prime deterrents for me and yarncraft–too many of the cool yarns are wool or wool blends!)

And the productive streak continues!

First, the big news: my jeans muslin is finally starting to work! After literally hours of stitching and ripping out and adding fabric and whatnot over the past several days, the crotch is starting to fit like something I could actually wear in public. The turning point was in the last chat for class yesterday, when Jennifer mentioned that if we had a pair of well-fitting jeans, we could look at those and use it for a guideline. And I actually do have one pair that fits the bill…

These are pretty much the perfect jeans for me. The rise is perfect–not too high, not too low. They don’t gap in the back. I don’t get weird wrinkly “smileys” right under the zipper. They also have this awesome swirly embroidery down the sides. There’s only two things wrong with these jeans: a) they’re just a liiiiiiittle tiny bit too short, and b) they’re falling apart because they are literally at least 11 years old. Probably closer to 12 or 13. This, my friends, is one of the few articles of clothing I still own that I bought in high school. I definitely got my money’s worth out of this pair, and whoever constructed it did a pretty good job, since after being washed at least 500 times, there aren’t any real holes (just one threadbare spot starting to form on the back yoke–not even anything on the knees!), that usual bit of jeans seam fraying, and one back pocket where the topstitching is partially undone and making that pocket flake off a bit in the corner. The main reason I don’t wear these outside of the house/working at the garden center is because they are so incredibly faded–the one thing that makes them look their age. (I’m quite seriously tempted to try my hand at re-dying them to a darker denim to see if I can get another couple of years out of them!)

Fortunately for me, these jeans are also made out of non-stretch denim, which is what I’m making my muslin for. I’ve learned over the years that even 2% lycra means I’ll inevitably need a belt by lunchtime to stop the gapping. So I took a ton of measurements on both these and my muslin to compare the two, and finally ended up with this:

Still a little “smiliness”, and I do need to fix the rise (the front isn’t bad, but I’ve determined that I need to make the back a good 3″ higher in order to not show my underwear when sitting!) But those wrinkles might be a little better in denim rather than the heavy muslin, and this is still about a hundred times better than how they looked when I left them on Saturday. (Which I refuse to show pictures of, because I’d just be embarrassing myself.) So there is a light at the end of the muslin-covered tunnel!

Aside from that, I’ve been getting a couple other small things done that I’ve been putting off. For instance, I couldn’t sew on Saturday night since Cassie was over and we were watching stuff on TV, so I made a bunch of bracelets for Wendy, and when I ran out of beads for that, I did some necklace repairs that have needed to get done for awhile. (The blue one needed to be restrung because the tigertail had stretched out and it was looking bad, the grey one had to be restrung because the tigertail actually broke, and all the small chain necklace needed was a new clasp. Talk about lazy on my part!)

And I was so happy with how the muslin turned out (and didn’t want to mess with it any more until I saw what the instructor had to say), so I did a small refashion this afternoon.
I found this dress a couple of weeks ago at Buffalo Exchange, and completely couldn’t resist it. But there was one major issue with it, at least for me–the strapless bit. It’s not that the dress wouldn’t stay up…I was actually surprised at how well it stayed. (It’s that super-smocked type fabric on top.) But I was a bit nervous about actually wearing a smocky tube-top style dress out in public, because the thing is, I’m clumsy. I’m constantly dropping things or knocking them over, I somehow managed to maul the back of my leg last week while shaving (I think I must have scratched it beforehand and didn’t notice) to the point where it’s probably going to leave a scar, and back when I was in grad school, I managed to break my toe by walking. (Granted, I probably fractured it the night before when I kicked it into my bed, but I swear it didn’t fully snap until the next day when I was walking across campus.) The point of this little ramble is, knowing me, I would probably do something like step on the hem of the skirt and yank the whole thing down in a very public location. And I don’t particularly feel like flashing people, so this needed to get remedied!

With a little help from my friend Nicole, I managed to find a near-perfect match of knit fabric the same day we went to Buffalo exchange. And without realizing it, I had loaded pretty much the perfect color of bobbin thread into my machine while working on the muslin. So making straps for this thing turned out to be a pretty quick job this afternoon, and I think the dress actually looks better with the straps! I’d normally show this off on Donna (the mannequin), but I couldn’t resist taking a pic of myself in it because, after all of that personal style “research” I did earlier this year, I can safely say that this dress pretty much epitomizes everything I like about the Boho style, while avoiding all of the things about it that annoy me. It’s flowy, it’s comfy, but it doesn’t make me look like I’m wearing a maternity sack. Plus it has great embroidery on the skirt. And it’s tie-dyed. And somehow, even though I usually avoid wearing shades of red because I’m a quasi-natural redhead, the colors look really great on me! I think the red is just burgundy/plummy/brownish enough to not clash with my hair. And I think the fact that I’m so pale actually helps it. Which is good, because I pretty much have to bathe in sunscreen to avoid getting burned, so no tanning for me! So I’m excited that I can actually wear this dress!

I also spent a good chunk of Saturday and Sunday working on this shirt. I’m kind of nervous that it’s not going to fit me right– I enlarged the bodice, but I’m thinking I may not have done enough. I guess I’ll have to see once I get it all sewn together. No pics of this one yet.

And hey, look, the header of my blog doesn’t clash with the background anymore! Maybe someday I’ll actually put pictures there that’s relevant to crafty stuff, but the water is good for now. And I did take the picture that I manipulated that from, so that counts as creative, right?

A 2-for-1 finished project post!

First up: my finished plaid button-down shirt!

The plaid shirtings, when I bought them from, were all given boys’ names. This one was the “Mason” plaid, but I’m going to call this my “happy camper” shirt– it just looks like that sort of style. I finished sewing the buttons onto this one on Tuesday. Or was it Wednesday? Oh well, doesn’t matter, it’s done!

Just to recap, I made this one based off of New Look 6407–my third shirt from this pattern. Though I made some tweaks to it, mainly in terms of the sleeve. (By the way, the giveaway for this pattern is still open, but only until Monday! I’ll pick the winner on Tuesday. So if you’re interested, comment away!)

I am so happy with how the sleeves turned out–exactly how I’d envisioned them! I’m still learning how to manipulate and alter patterns without tweaking-as-I-sew, so the fact that I was able to draw out this sleeve, sew it together, and have it look just like what I wanted is pretty huge for me. I’m also glad that I went with these shell buttons instead of plain shirt buttons like a plaid shirt would usually have– I think it makes it just a little more interesting. (And a little less lumberjack-ish. I guess I’ll be saving that one for the other plaid I bought from the same sale! Though “Ayden” isn’t really a lumberjack name…)

The second project is a bit of a cheat.  I mostly finished it last August–it was intended to be a part of my mini-wardrobe experiment. But since I decided I didn’t want to bother with adjustable straps (and honestly, with the hardware for that I was able to find, I really didn’t think it would work with the thickness of the sewn straps), I did the construction a bit differently and it resulted in this funky batwing effect. I’d already picked a bit of the binding off with the seam ripper, so all I did last night was gradually take in the top of the side seams about 1/2″ each, took 1/2″ out of the binding, and sewed it back together. I think it made a pretty significant difference! And now I can finally take this one out of the mending pile and start wearing it. (Actually, for me, 10 months to get to that is pretty good!) I’m hoping that the pleats hang a little better on me than they do on my perpetually-crooked mannequin…poor Donna.

One final note on the jeans fitting class: my muslin still has a lot of work to go. The teacher, Jennifer Stern, has been very kind and helpful about my plethora of questions! Where it stands right now is that the thighs fit pretty well (yay!), the back crotch is in pretty good shape, but the front still needs a good bit of tweaking–I’m getting these weird wrinkles, and actually have too much room in the front for my stomach! She gave me some suggestions in the chat last night for how to handle it, so I’m hoping to test those out and see if they help. Once I finally get the crotch fixed, the next step is going to be to make it a higher-rise jean…covering my underwear is good. And then I get to work on all of the fun that’s going to be actually getting that waist to fit, which was my main incentive for taking this class in the first place–the hope of jeans that fit that I don’t have to wear a belt with! Belts certainly have their place, but since my style is generally more longer, tunic-style shirts that stay untucked, I really hate the look of a bulky belt buckle under my shirt!

So the plan for today is to work on that muslin some more, and then hopefully start sewing my next project, which I cut out on Tuesday. Oh yeah, and do some cleaning, because my best friend is coming over tonight so we can catch up/do some crafty stuff (at this point, I’m thinking I’ll be making more bracelets for Wendy while she’s here–it’s quieter) and watch Doctor Who. I guess I should get on that first!