First finished post-dress project!

Yes, that’s right, I actually sewed something that is almost, but not quite, entirely unrelated to the wedding! I say almost, because there’s a pretty good chance that this will end up being part of the honeymoon wardrobe. Given the way this spring has been here in the mid-Atlantic–meaning ridiculously cold and I haven’t even migrated to the 3/4-sleeve portion of my wardrobe yet for the most part–I don’t think I’ll get much use out of it before then, sadly! Though I was able to wear it yesterday, with the help of some layers, before it got all cold again today.

purple tank frontAnyway, after the intensity and huge investment of time that was the wedding dress, I obviously wanted something that would be super-quick and easy to sew. I thought very hard about a Renfrew top, but in the end, I decided to revisit another knit pattern that I’ve been meaning to come back to for some time: the BurdaStyle Sadie top, from back in the glorious days when it wasn’t the magazine site and you could get patterns for free. This also qualifies as the first piece of fabric for the Stashbusting Sewalong! I’m bending the rules a little and choosing pieces as I go. And I know the theme was “vivid colors” this month, and this is probably a little too dark to be vivid, but I had it and it works with the plans I’m making in my head for that honeymoon wardrobe. Anyway, this is a piece of cotton/poly interlock knit that I picked up as a potential trim match for the fabric I used in my “Angels and Angles” top, back when I was intending to make it into another Butterick 5206, before I figured out that the fabric just wouldn’t work for it. (Another pattern I’d love to revisit!)

purple tank backThe top was, as I wished, super-fast. I had cut it out in advance, so I basically got it entirely sewed together in the duration of the latest episode of Doctor Who plus part of a movie that my fiance brought over. (My Cousin Vinnie, if you’re curious.) I didn’t quite get the entire piece of fabric used up, I think I have about half a yard left, so this piece isn’t entirely stashbusted. But it’s well on the way. I guess I should probably do a little bit of tweaking with this pattern, since it looks like I could use a swayback adjustment on here. And that extra gather at the top?
purple tank detailThis was my “make it work” moment. After I’d finished sewing the tank together and tried it on, I discovered that while the neckline was laying very well in the front, undoubtedly partially thanks to a wonderful knit edging tutorial from Steph, the back was quite noticeably gapping away from my neck. Now, I know I don’t always have the best posture, but I think that this was mostly just due to the thickness of the knit–there’s not a lot of give in it, and therefore not a lot of recovery. But since everything else fit fine, rather than undo that neck binding and try to ditch some of the fabric, I turned it into a little pleat detail with some thread loops and a random single button that I found in my stash. Thankfully, I hadn’t moved all of the buttons like I’d thought. If anyone asks, this was a completely intentional design detail, right?

It felt really good to be able to just whip something out, even with a few minor imperfections! I do have a little bit of wedding-related sewing left to do–I need to just stop procrastinating have enough time at home to press the tie, and then that’s done,  but it looks like I’m going to need to make a couple of simple headbands out of the leftovers for my bridesmaids. I’d kind of like to make myself a little simple bag for the day of as well, and I also have one more piece of clothing that I’d like to make before the honeymoon. And a few other crafty things. I think my wish for a Tiramisu to bring with me is just going to have to go on the shelf, sadly, since there’s only 40 days to go now! Really, basically 39. And there are the small matters of, you know, packing and moving the majority of my stuff, and planning the rest of the wedding. So we’ll see how this goes–but at least I do know I will have some time this week in which I can sew!

Sewing Surprise!

It’s reveal day for the Sewing Surprises swap that Nova is hosting!

I received a package from the lovely Kerrilee, from Sew Exhausted. (The sewcialist that I sent to was actually her co-writer, Laurie!) My package got a bit lost in transit for awhile, but arrived just in time for reveal day, on Friday. Which was great, because the end of the week was pretty stressful and it was the perfect fun surprise to cheer me up! So here’s what was inside:
IMG_0533The package came all tied up neatly with a pretty ribbon. It was much neater than this, but then I repackaged it when I realized that I needed to take pictures–I was too excited and had torn into it right away!

There was a card with the cutest little cat sticker to seal it up.


There were two packages of wedding-related scrapbook stickers. Which is perfect, because of course I’m already plotting to make a scrapbook so I can hoard all of the candids that my friends and family make, as well as professional shots that we can’t necessarily fit into the album that comes with our package!

The latest addition to my stash of sewcialist-given chocolate. I’m still working on the first of the two bars I got from New Zealand for the stash swap (eating them verrrrry sloooooooowly so there won’t be any last minute dress-fitting panic issues!), but sea salt and dark chocolate is completely yummy, so I’ll be looking forward to this for sure.

IMG_0537And finally, there were two coordinating pieces of super-lightweight jersey, and a pattern to make them into! I’ll have to see if I can squeeze this in before the wedding, because wouldn’t this be great for a tropical getaway?

I had a lot of fun putting together my package for Laurie, and it was very exciting to see what I got in return! Thanks again, Kerrilee!

branching out

Both literally and in terms of knitting technique, as that was the name of this pattern.
These are the “Branching Out” mitts from the Coastal Knits book, which I got for Christmas in 2011. This was also my first foray into colorwork other than stripes, and I think that I handled it pretty well overall! They could probably use a good blocking to even the stitches out, but as usual, I’m impatient and wanted to show off my finished project! Also, I may want to wear these tonight, since despite the fact that we’re finally scraping into the 60s, my hands are still perpetually cold.


Aside from the colorwork, this was also my first attempt at a thumb gusset instead of just a hole! I think it went pretty decently. And they fit really well, too– I know they look very long, but I don’t mind most of my fingers being covered. Aside from playing the flute, I should still be able to mostly use my hands fine.

It was a little bit of a challenge to come up with yarn that would work, since I can’t do the wool thing, but I ended up using the Milky Whey yarn that I got last summer at the beach yarn shop. It’s half-soy, half-milk (!), and absolutely lovely to work with and to wear–it’s so soft! Once again, I seriously overestimated how much yarn I needed, and have at least 2/3 of a skein of the tan and maybe around 1 1/4 of the blue left over, so I think a matching slouchy hat will be in order. If I can find that full ball of yarn, that is–somehow, between last night and the previous time I’d worked on it, the entire unused skein of the blue disappeared from my knitting bag! I hope it turns up as I’m packing!

Also in knitting news, I was recently gifted the Craftsy class of my choice by Gwen, as an early wedding present! It was a tough call, because there’s a lot of tempting sewing classes that I haven’t signed up for yet. But in the end, I decided to sign up for the Knit Lab class, because I’ve realized that there’s some finishing details, like sewing up seams and especially weaving in ends, that I could really use some extra work on to take my knitting to the next level. I probably won’t get to it before the wedding, but hopefully I have some yarn in the stash that will be good to use for the class project.

Guess what? I also have a sewing project to show! But not in this post, as I still need to take pictures.

I’ve been a bad, bad girl

The latest additions to the stash.

new fabric

The one on the left is my new plan for the Darling Ranges dress, in place of that more-muted-than-expected paisley. The one on the right is for the Reglisse dress–the stripes are small and a bit hand-drawn/crooked-looking, so I figure I can get all the visual fun of stripes without the hassle of trying to match things, because it will be impossible to do so.

Both are rayon challis (challises? Challi?) from The already on sale price + 15% off total order made me do it. I’ll probably need to line the white, at least, so I’ll have to see if I have enough lining in stash.

No, I haven’t forgotten that I’m stashbusting, but since the one was to finish my dare, and I literally had nothing in the stash that was a good yardage for the Reglisse, that’s how I’m justifying it. So consider that altered pledge as starting now. And I think that I will be much happier with the result of the Darling Ranges with this painterly print–plus, think of the layering possibilities with all of those colors! I can wear cobalt! And plum! And–dare I try it–mustard? A mustard-colored cardi would go amazingly well with both dresses, but I’ll have to consider that, since yellows have traditionally not been the kindest to my complexion.

As for the paisley, I’m strongly leaning towards an autumnal Cambie dress. Or maybe some kind of longer tunic that I can wear with my skinny jeans. But we shall see. First step is to actually find time to sew again, since I’m quite sadly having a repeat of last year’s almost no-sew spring, it seems. But I am planning on working on the tie tonight, so that’s something, at least.

The circle is complete

First off, regarding Me-Made-May ’13: I’ve decided to sit this one out this time, due to a trifecta of cons: The only new me-made things added to my wardrobe since last year are two dresses, a tank top, and a pair of jeans (and, you know, a wedding dress that took up 9 months of my life) so I’d basically be wearing exactly the same things as last year. I can’t wear me-mades for the retail job that tends to suck up 6 days a week this time of year, and have been getting out too late and too rushed to have time to take photos when I change to teach my music lessons. (Or, on Saturdays, to go lie on the couch and watch tv when I’m dead tired from 10-hour shifts on my feet.) And since it’s the last month before the wedding, adding daily photos to the mix is probably not an additional stress factor that I should put on myself. Honestly, I’d rather focus what free time I can squeeze in on actually sewing! So hopefully I can jump in again next year, after I’ve had some time to make fresh new items and make things more interesting for all involved.
So, today’s story: yesterday after work, and before and after some teaching, I decided to cut some things out so I can actually start sewing new things again! So I cut out the lining and interfacing for my fiance’s wedding tie, and pinned the pattern on the main fabric. (I did not cut that, because my videographer brother wants to get some footage of tie-making too, so I figured that would be the part he’d want to do.) I cut out a tank top from a piece of solid colored knit that had been in my stash for awhile. Unless I can figure out the embellishment I’m seeing in my head, I’m afraid this one will be rather boring. But I can probably sew it together in an evening, 2 at most, and after The One Dress, that’s what I need.

The third and final thing I wanted to cut out was from a piece of this white crinkle gauzy stuff that I think is probably cotton. I’m not 100% sure, because it falls into the category of “fabric I got for free because people who don’t know sewing and were decluttering gave it to my mom to make quilts”. After seeing Steph’s crinkle woven linen version of the Pavlova top, I’d thought to try out something like that, so I can use it as a lightweight jacket/sun protection layer for my honeymoon. (We’re going to Jamaica. I’m of Irish/Scottish/English/German decent and a quasi-natural redhead. That’s right, I can burn in 15 minutes!) So I laid the fabric out…and discovered that I was really short on fabric. Like, the entire wrap tie short. Guess I should have seen it coming, since my fabric was only about 45″ wide, but of course I didn’t check that now!

So, I tweeted about my conundrum, since I’d already had my laptop out so I could watch the first two episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee while I worked, and went back to the drawing board. I didn’t think to check my Burda magazines, honestly, but I already had my box with shirt patterns down, so I rummaged through to see what I could find.


Candidate #1: New Look 6922, which I bought several years ago but haven’t actually used yet. I thought the short-sleeved cardigan was potentially cute, so I started pulling the pieces out to see what I could do. And I realized that the shawl collar on such sheer fabric was going to look terrible, and it looked like I didn’t have quite enough fabric to really do that, either. So I put it back and kept looking. (Incidentally, I think I will have to revisit this, because I still think that short-sleeved cardigan looks very potentially cute!)


So I put that away, and pulled out New Look 6405. Which I did make once, years ago, but that particular top is no longer in my wardrobe because both the body and the long sleeves were too short for my comfort. (I still think the style is cute, though, so this one may also need revisiting. Maybe using my Renfrew as a fit check of sorts.) My thought was that I could take that crossover piece on the red shirt, double it, and then draft a wrap tie to make something similar to the Pavlova. I even went so far as to draw out the piece, though I realized partway through it that the crinkles would be running the opposite direction on the ties than on the front and back of the shirt. It was the only way it would fit.

Somewhere close to the end of this, I got a tweet back from Steph herself, suggesting that I just leave the ties off and draft it as a drapey-front cardi. (This is high on the list of why I’m becoming a total indie pattern snob–the ability to communicate directly with the designer!) So I put away the third pattern and went back to my original pattern. And it looked like I had just enough fabric for it to work! I did end up retracing the pieces, and made a few changes–I lengthened the front side seam to match up with the “muffin cover” on the back, added some length to the front diagonal bit, and traced the sleeve out to be the length of the short-sleeved size 45 rather than the size 35 that I was otherwise tracing. (I would have gone with the longer sleeve, but the fabric wasn’t wide enough.) I’m not sure how this will work out once it’s all together, but hopefully it’ll look cute, and if nothing else, it will be long enough in the front that I might be able to do a midriff tie or something if the mood strikes me. Because if you can’t get away with that on a tropical island, where can you?

Now I just need to find some time to sew, which will be tough since I have a date with the friend who’s doing my hair for the wedding tomorrow evening to do a dry run, an open-to-close shift at work on Saturday (boo), and church and a music rehearsal on Sunday. And absolutely no idea what the majority of my work schedule is after that, since it will only come out tomorrow at the earliest. Wish me luck!

Pledge alterations!

So, now that I can actually sew other things again, and after the Swap Your Stash and moving the majority of my stash to my future sewing room at my fiance’s house, I’ve been re-evaluating the stashbusting pledge that I made back in January. And I’ve realized that I may have defined things too narrowly, or put too many restrictions on myself to make this realistic. Especially after realizing things like I can’t use the majority of my dress patterns with my current stash, because the yardages I have are literally not enough!

So, with that in mind, I’m going to alter my pledge. Technically, I haven’t been able to start it yet, so I still can! I’m still going to keep the goal of using up at least 6 pieces of fabric. If I do more, great, go me! But I’m going to add the caveat that I will be allowed to purchase fabrics that are necessary to finish projects–linings in particular, since that is something I’m not likely to have on hand. In addition, I’m going to give myself the allowance that, if I so choose, I will be allowed to purchase one new piece of fabric for every 3 pieces that I use up–I’ll still have more fabric out than in that way, and that way I can have some fun with stash patterns that I wouldn’t be able to use otherwise. Plus, you know how it is–sometimes a girl just needs something new to keep the inspiration flowing! (To keep it fair, I’m using this allowance for garment sewing fabrics only, not things like the curtains that I already have fabric for!)

I’m also in the process of re-counting my current yardage count–I do have some leftovers from more recent projects, like the One Dress, that need to get put in, as well as the things I traded in the Swap Your Stash. So I’ll be back soon(ish) with the new and improved stashbusting tracker. My ultimate goal is still to try and get my stash down to a manageable level, which would be somewhere around 75-100 yards. I’m probably somewhere around 250 right now, so I still have quite a ways to go!

So what’s next?

Now that the One Dress To Rule Them All is finished (yay!) and awaiting the big reveal in June, and it turns out I do have a little bit of time left before the wedding, it’s time to figure out what to do with whatever sewing time I have left between now and then! Well, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, especially recently as I’ve been back at my retail job and have had more mental time to kill. I’m trying not to be overly ambitious because, you know, 2 months to W-day and that might take up some time. But here’s what I’m thinking…

  • Doug’s tie, of course. Which will be much easier and quicker to finish, because I can totally sew that while he’s around.
  • Honeymoon clothes! I’ve been plotting my wardrobe for that out in my head, and I’m sure that will get a post at some point. But I do have a few holes that need filling. Particularly, I’d like to make one or two pairs of shorts, and for the sake of time, I’m going to do a total cheater refashion and cut off/hem a couple of pairs of jeans. They’re thrifted jeans that I’ve pretty much only been wearing to the garden shop–one is a little too short for my legs anyway, and the other was a victim of the dryer ink disaster last fall. The obvious damage looks like it’s mostly lower down on the leg than I would need anyway. I do need to cut them long enough that I can also wear them to work in the summer, which means no shorter than mid-thigh, but I think I’d be more comfortable with that length anyway. And both of these pairs fit pretty decently at my waist, so it should do. I still totally want to test out my Thurlows on another pair of shorts, but that can wait until after the wedding.
  • Also for the honeymoon, I’d love to do a trial run of the Tiramisu dress! I don’t have too much in the stash that would have the necessary yardage, but I do have some plain navy blue jersey bedsheets that I inherited when my brother got married. They’re too big for my bed, so I’ve been hoarding them for the last few years purely for muslin purposes, and navy blue should fit wonderfully into the color scheme that’s shaping up in my head. I’d also like to knock out a quick tank top as a palate-cleanser, and I have a potential idea for a layering piece. Because you know I will be the one who will get cold on a tropical island!
  • One little secret I’ve been keeping–I did buy three patterns off of Etsy around Christmas, for some lingerie. (Which is strange for me to type, knowing that my mom might be reading this…) But if I have time, I’d like to test out at least one of them. (My fiance would probably say that I should make this first priority, but I don’t know how badly my friends will try to embarrass me what I’m getting for the bridal shower yet. I’ll find out on Saturday.)

There, that doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable, does it? I have a few things lined up in my head for after the wedding as well, including a whole lot of Thurlow work so I can try to have some actual pants that fit before the fall rolls around, and a couple of self-challenges that I’m setting for myself. One will be an ongoing project, one will have a deadline, but more on that later. The one thing I will reveal is that I’d asked Gillian for a sewing dare that actually involved, you know, sewing.   The dare she gave me:

I polled the quite biased sewcialists on Twitter, and the consensus was that rewarding oneself for accomplishing a huge and very time-consuming couture sewing project trumped stashbusting pledges. (But I promise that this will be my only cheat, since technically, the lime green silk was bought with the wedding in mind, and therefore falls under the parameters that I’d set!)

I’d considered buying something for the Pavlova, since I did already treat myself to this new pattern, I’m just not sure I have things in the stash to make both pieces.  I’d also thought that I could use it as part of the honeymoon wardrobe. But hours of scouring my favorite fabric websites turned up nothing that’s jumping out at me for it at this point. And, as Gillian put it in a later tweet, “go big or go home. right?”

So, for my sewing dare, I treated myself to the Darling Ranges dress by Megan Nielsen, and some fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics. I haven’t tried a Megan Nielsen pattern yet, but I’ve heard good things about them. It was a tough call between this one and the Reglisse dress from Deer & Doe, because that one is just too cute and it reminds me of something that Jane Bennet would have worn in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. But in the end, the Darling Ranges won out, because…

  1. I’ve been wanting a more autumn-friendly dress for awhile now–most of my dresses have no sleeves and are in summery colors.
  2. I have two weddings to attend this fall, and will need something to wear. I’m a bridesmaid in one of them, so that’s covered, but I still will probably need something cute to wear for rehearsal dinners and such, right?
  3. Even though it’s a longer-sleeved dress, it doesn’t look frumpy. Those are hard to find. 
  4. As it turns out, it’s a good thing the Darling Ranges won out, because apparently I just won the Reglisse pattern from a giveaway at Paunnet! Thanks, Anna! 

But…. I’m sorry to say that I think I’ve failed this dare.  I bought this fabric for it:

    Über-Chic Paisley Crepe de Chine - Blues/Tan/Brown

    I tried to be smart about the fabric choice, and choose a print that–guess what–already went with a bunch of things in my wardrobe! So I was thinking that I could layer this with my  brown jacket, or my brown hoodie cardigan sweater, or the thrifted tan jacket that I picked up recently,  or throw a coordinating knit top over it and wear it as a skirt, and so on. (My other choice was this adorable dragonfly print, but I realized that would require a lot more effort to work as a layering piece. I also managed to resist the temptation to further break the pledge and buy both pieces.) Also, as far as fabric choice goes, I do have a serious weakness for paisley!
    Darling Ranges
    But–and I am not blaming Gorgeous Fabrics for this, because I know the problem had to be my color perception–now that I’m seeing the fabric in person, I’m not so convinced that this is a good match for this pattern. The blue looked way more teal instead of this colonial blue, and the fabric looked brighter in general on my computer monitor. If I were to be perfectly honest, if I saw what I got in a brick-and-mortar store, I wouldn’t have bought it. And my gut tells me that if I make this dress out of this fabric, I’m going to think it looks totally granny (and not in the chic way) and I’m going to hate it. So that leaves me with two questions–what can I do with 3 yards of dull-colored paisley fabric, and do I have anything in my stash that I can actually use to make this pattern? A serious question, given that most, if not all, of my fabrics are more separates-length yardages…

    Maybe this would work better as the Reglisse. What do you think?

      The end is….

      here!!! It took me hand-stitching straight up to midnight, because I was so easily distracted while sewing, but the dress is officially DONE!

      I’m going to wait to do the big final reveal pictures until after the wedding, because then I’ll have the best pictures with my hair all done up nice and out of the way. But I do have two last detail shots from the lining, courtesy of my phone, since I’ve been working on this in the evenings over the last 2 days while it’s been too dark to use the nice camera.

      Lining narrow hem

      I did a narrow machine hem all around the lining–partially to speed up the process, and partially to practice the technique. I have another friend getting married this year, she already has her dress, and it fits perfectly other than it being too long, so I told her I’d hem it for her. She’s practically my honorary bridesmaid, so I don’t mind.


      I also have a bustle, sort of–I discovered after pinning in and partially sewing the lining that the center back was hanging past the hem of the dress! At this point, I’ve stopped caring about perfection and just wanted to finish, so rather than rip out and redo that portion of the hem, I figured no one will see it but me, so I just tacked that up and secured it under the zipper.

      I did have one tiny little mishap last night, where I was trimming a thread sticking out next to the zipper, and accidentally nicked the skirt with my scissors! I’m rather proud of myself for staying calm–it was small and hardly noticeable thanks to the zipper seam allowance underneath, so I just stuck some fray check on it this morning and left it at that. Trying to mend it would have made it more noticeable, and I don’t think anyone will know except for me (and now all of you who read this.)

      So, aside from the final reveal, that’s it! Thanks to all of you who have followed along on this massive project and left encouraging words. And you bet my next couple of projects are going to be much less complicated!