one day I’ll be part of your world

First off, thanks for all the kind words on my last post, both on here and Twitter! It’s been hard to keep things quiet, and while quite a few of my friends and family have known already, it’s nice to have the support of my sewing friends as well. 🙂 Of course, the baby is also the reason I could only show a preview of my Sew Disney project, and why the Gabriola skirt I’d originally planned wasn’t going to work! It’s a shame, because I did have enough fabric to do so, but non-stretchy waistbands don’t make sense right now since I have no idea how my sizing will end up when this is all over. Or if it would even fit now, tbh.

Ariel-inspired outfit
So here’s my whole outfit, with a little help from Malkin–and my hair even looks slightly red here! I wasn’t sure if it would, since it’s very cloudy here today. As I said before, the top is a Renfrew, though I did make a few additional modifications that I hadn’t mentioned before. I added a little extra width to the front (about 1/2″ total, I think), and I added some length–more in the front than the back, so I could do a little ruching on the side. I also left the bottom band off, simply because I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut it, even if it had been pieced together! The length looks all right for now, but since I’m sure I’m going to use this pattern to make a couple more tops, I think next time I’m going to add even more length to the front and put the band on anyway, just to accommodate any expansion and hold things in place. I’d definitely like to avoid that baby belly hanging out from underneath my clothes look if I can!

Ariel skirtSince the Gabriola was a no-go, I raided my pattern stash for ideas. I picked out an elastic-waist maxi skirt, then realized that the hips were still pretty fitted and that this skirt wouldn’t work for too long as a result, either. So, believe it or not, it was a boxy Burda magazine pattern to the rescue! This is #119 from the June 2010 issue, and it’s literally two rectangles with two drawstrings that tie at the sides. No elastic, even. But I figured that could be a good thing, because then I can tighten and loosen this to fit exactly where needed. I’ll admit the result is a bit bulky around the waistband, but you can’t really tell as much when it’s under the shirt, I think. I did change the pattern slightly by doing a drawstring casing instead of a lining piece at the top, and I also did a French seam finish inside. If this ends up looking like a high-low hem in a few months, I wanted the insides to look good!

Ariel- side view
Here’s the side view–you can sort of see the ruching, but my hand’s in the way. Now that I’m seeing the top on, I kind of wish that I’d started the black a little bit lower so it wasn’t running directly into the sleeve seam. Oh well.

You can also see that I’m not really showing much, if at all, at this point. I’m sure that will change soon, though. It’s been very hard to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve lost a few pounds overall, due to the nausea and the very limited, bland diet I’ve been eating to try to get through the days, and yet I’m still having trouble with my pants fitting! For the record, my Thurlow pants have fared much better than most of my thrift store jeans, and it’s just been this week that I haven’t been able to button the top anymore. So that does give me hope that they’ll fit again! (I haven’t tried my last pair of jeans, because I need to do a little repair on the waistband before I can wear them. But honestly, I’ve already worn maternity jeans a few times and they stayed up, so I may not bother trying.)

Stashbusting totals:
Top: about 2 yards (1 of the ivory jersey, and 1 of the black interlock left over from the summer’s black tank dress. Both pieces completely used up, hurrah!)
Skirt: 2 1/4 yards of the teal. I have about 2 3/4 yards left, which I’ll need to come up with a use for at some point. (I already bought a similar-colored short-sleeved maternity top on clearance at Target, so that option is out.)

Ariel outtakeAnd I’ll leave you today with an outtake–  I’ve got the standard Disney princess animal companion, and we can just pretend his name is Max for this picture, even if he is the wrong breed. But apparently Ursula’s spell messed up, because this mermaid only has one foot!

Top 5’s of 2013, part 3: Hits and Misses

Time to look back at what I actually made this year! Let’s start with the hits, shall we?

Top 5 Hits of 2013: 
Wedding dress front 1. My wedding dress, aka the “One Dress To Rule Them All”! Yes, I only wore it once, but this was easily the most time-consuming and expensive thing I’ve ever sewn, so I have to include it, right? Plus, I never showed a really good full shot of the finished product, so here’s my excuse to share some of the professional pics. Don’t worry, they gave me the copyright as part of the photo package! We did get a couple of outdoor shots, but the lighting on the ones inside the church actually shows off the details of the dress better, so I went with those.

At Gillian’s request, I’m including a mini top 5 of things I learned or loved about making my wedding dress.

a) I loved working with the fabrics! It’s not every day that I can justify using a whole bunch of different silks, so this was both a lot of fun and a very big learning experience.

b) I learned and/or developed skills in a lot of different couture techniques. I’d worked with underlining before, for instance, but this had underlining, sometimes multiple layers of underlining, boning (and not the cheap plastic kind ,either!), regular lining, the works! So I think my handstitching improved quite a bit in this process!

Wedding dress backc) I love that I was able to design an entire dress around that sunflower lace, since the only two things I’d wanted for my future wedding for ages was having sunflowers, and making my dress! So I got to combine them! I also love that my pattern modifications to the Cambie top worked so well for really showing it off. (Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of it, because I have probably at least 3 yards left! Any ideas?)

d) I learned that sometimes muslins, or even multiple muslins, are a necessary evil. I’m really glad I allowed myself the time to do that. My usual attitude towards them is to try to make them as wearable as possible, or just skip them altogether, because I have so little sewing time and “ain’t nobody got time for that.” But I’m glad I really took the time to perfect the fit before I started–especially since I was just barely able to squeak out the skirt with the yardage I had estimated! Plus, now whenever I do get around to making a “real” Cambie, I have it all modified and ready to go. Assuming I can find those muslin pieces. Gah.

(Disclaimer: I’m still probably going to stick more with wearable muslins for most things, because I still mostly don’t want to take the time for that.)

e) I love that being able to sew helped me keep the costs down significantly! All together, I think the supplies ended up costing about $500. I think the most expensive fabric I got was the dupioni for the outside, at around $16 a yard. Given that I have a hard time paying more than $12 a yard for most fabrics, that’s a LOT. But at the average bridal shop around here, that would get you a pretty low-end polyester dress. Mine was silk, custom-fitted, and I didn’t have to deal with sorting through all of the trains and strapless bodices to find something I was ok with!

And now, on with the rest of the hits…

Thurlow trousers2. The Thurlow trousers. I’m quite happy with the fit, they’re very comfortable, and I’ve worn them at least once a week since I finished them. In fact, I’ve washed and worn them so much that the fabric is already starting to pill on the thighs a bit! Not a huge loss, since this was only ever intended to be a wearable muslin, and the fabric was free, but that means I may have to make a new brown pair sooner than I thought. (After I finish the other 4 pairs that I actually bought fabric for.)

TARDIS-inspired skirt 

3. The TARDIS Hummingbird-esque skirt. Subtle geekiness for the win! This got a lot of love on Flickr (by my standards, which is pretty much anyone commenting at all), and I’m always happy when my pattern alterations turn out as I envision them. Plus, since it’s basically a denim skirt, I have a feeling this is going to be a rather versatile addition to my wardrobe!

Plaid matching4. My plaid flannel shirt. Even though I’m still not a huge fan of the collar, it’s warm and cozy, which is exactly what I need in my life right now. I’m also still feeling a bit smug about how many sewalongs I was able to apply this to! (And now I’m wondering if it’s a crime against fashion to wear flannel shirts that aren’t plaid, because I want a lot more flannel in my life!)

purple tank front
5. The purple Sadie tank top, which has proved to be quite versatile, even though it’s not the most exciting thing I sewed this year. (Aaaaahhhh, look how sunny and warm it is there! Much nicer than looking out the window–it’s actually pretty unseasonably warm here today, but it’s also grey and rainy, which is why I’m home to finish this post. Work is soooooo sloooooow on rainy days that the manager told me to stay home!)

Thankfully, since I didn’t have a huge output this year, I don’t feel like I really had a lot of misses as far as my actual finished projects went. So I’m taking a slightly more tongue-in-cheek approach to this.

Top 5 misses of 2013:
Pavlova cardi
1. The one true sewing fail I had this year was my Pavlova cardigan–the one that tore apart in the washer before I even had a chance to take a photo of me wearing it. I hardly even got a chance to wear it, either. Despite my usual cold-blooded ways, I was sufficiently comfortable both indoors and out to not wear it at all while I was in Jamaica, so I only wore it on the plane there and back. If I were to be honest, it didn’t turn out as cute and flattering as I’d hoped, either. I still plan to make a Pavlova top again, but maybe more of a wrap top as intended. Or with knit fabric so it drapes better.

2. My timing in finishing my Tiramisu dress. It’s not the dress itself, because I do like it. And if I’d made it earlier in the fall or even the summer, I think it would have been worn a lot more. But I only wore it once, because it got too cold almost as soon as I’d finished it! I’m definitely not one of those people who can go short-sleeved in the cold. I wonder how it would look with my brown corduroy jacket–too much brown in the middle?

3. Online fabric shopping. This wasn’t a 100% fail. I did manage to find the right shade of nude organza for the wedding dress. I do like the rayon challises that I picked up for a couple of dresses that I didn’t get to this year. And I recently got some organic cotton knit that is super-soft and I think it will make a great basic black maxidress next year! But I did have multiple issues here, from trying to find a solid emerald green to make wedding accessories (color of the year, huh?!), to the paisley I’d intended for a Darling Ranges dress that looked quite different when it arrived, to the stretch denim I recently ordered that looked like teal, but showed up more of a robin’s egg blue and a lot thinner than I’d anticipated! And, of course, I also recently had issues in buying both fabric and yarn online, because in both cases, the website said they had more in stock than they actually had by the time they got to processing my orders. Both times, I had to make substitutions for things that cost more money. Aside from higher cost, the most annoying thing in both cases was that they were things I’d spent hours searching for in order to avoid wool! Blasted allergy…anyway. Hopefully I’ll have more hits on that count next year, since I can’t necessarily rely on Joann’s to have what I need or want.

My pattern/fabric combo4. Pantsapalooza. It’s not that I regret doing it, though I think I really could/should have managed the sewalong aspect of it much, much better. I guess since it was my first time hosting one, it’s a learning experience, right? And I did get usable trousers, but only one pair out of my intended five. So that’s not a palooza, that’s just pants! (Guess what I’m most likely sewing first in January…)

5. Buying vs. using. Yes, a few of these were projects I intended to get to quickly–my Darling Ranges dress that I actually bought fabric for twice (see #3 above), or the Reglisse dress that I found the perfect print for almost right away, for instance. And then the summer just disappeared. A few of these I actually did get to right away–I’m thinking specifically of the Hummingbird pattern, since I actually managed to jump in on the official sewalong and use up some stash to boot! And I did buy and use the plaid flannel in a timely fashion, which is unusual for me. But overall, I think I acquired a lot more fabrics and patterns this year than I have in recent years past, and didn’t necessarily use things up in a way to balance that out. (And it’s not even Christmas yet, and I can usually expect to get fabric for Christmas from my mom, too!) My husband and I are planning to really crack down on the budget come January so we can pay off some debt and save for some things we’re hoping to do, so this is something I really need to get under control again, and focus more on using what I have and being creative with it. (Incidentally, I loved the idea of the Sewcial Bee that I did last year, since it forced me to jump on fabric and patterns that were already in the stash! I hear rumors that there’s going to be more next year, and I hope that’s true!)

I did also lose track of yardage in vs. out this year, which is something I’ve been trying to keep track of. If I do succeed in my plan to get the room straightened up to start the new year, I do plan to re-tally everything that has significant yardage (like a yard or more) so I can start keeping tabs on that again.

Honorable mention: My #greendecember project. I got it cut out, then got caught up in a secret sewing frenzy, so that’s as far as it got. But it only gets honorable mention, because it’s another Renfrew top, which means there is a chance I can still actually get it sewed up before January 1!

Come along (to the grunge show), Pond

I had been planning on making a plaid flannel shirt for the Doctor Who Sewalong from the earliest days of my planning. After all, when I think of Amy Pond, her Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon outfit is the one that immediately jumps to mind.

(Though, with the right white button down, I could definitely wear River’s outfit, too. Minus the gun holster. And let’s face it, my hair is definitely more like Amy’s!)

For once in my life, the timing on this project was quite serendipitous, because it enabled me to participate in three sewalongs with one project! It would have been four, but I just couldn’t quite get this done in time for the official dates of the Fall Essentials Sewalong. I can, however, claim this shirt for both the Grunge Sewalong and the Flannel Shirt Sewalong that Kelly is hosting!

What's with the silence?My initial thought was to find a plaid as similar to Amy’s shirt as possible, but then I remembered that I hardly ever wear red. And I already have this shirt. And I also found that lovely blue plaid that I showed in its half-done state in the last post, and figured that would mix in with my wardrobe much better.

I’m quite pleased overall with how it turned out. I can wear it with the sleeves rolled up like Amy’s, with some skinny jeans and boots…

Wait, what was I doing again?

Oh, right, project details. I’ll get to those after the fashion show.

Grunge styleOr I can wear it with the sleeves rolled down for warmth, which is how I’ll be rocking it today, since it’s still stupid cold out there. Going grunge-style here and wearing it over a t-shirt, which is how I was most likely to wear a flannel in the 90s. I guess my musical experience was more “grunge-lite” than anything else–I was still a pretty young teenager in its heyday, and my fashion choices were largely dictated by my school’s dress code. I did listen to bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, but I was also just as (or more) likely to listen to U2 or Counting Crows. Or the Beatles. Yes, I was the weird kid who preferred 60’s music to all those boy bands that were so ridiculously popular by the time I graduated. Every time they play the Backstreet Boys on the radio station at work, which they do on a disgustingly regular basis, it still takes me back to walking the halls of my high school and hearing my female classmates singing it while they sat against the wall before class.

(For the record, yes, there’s a Weeping Angel on my shirt. My intention was to do a “Don’t Blink” photo, but I was having trouble getting one where it didn’t look like it was yawning. On the plus side, you can look away from your screen now.)

Ok, back to those pattern details. I’ll do a proper review, since it’s been awhile.

Finished!Pattern: I used #114 out of the April 2010 issue of BurdaStyle. I was originally going to use my beloved New Look 6407 and mash it up with the BurdaStyle pattern I used for that other plaid shirt I linked to earlier. Then I decided it would be easier to just trace out a new pattern, and I needed a little more length and a little less front darting for a plaid. (And I didn’t have enough time to jump on the Archer bandwagon and order that.)

Description:  The magazine just calls it a “casual shirt-blouse”.

Pattern sizing: Size 38-46. I made the 40.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Mostly.

Were the instructions easy to follow? For Burda patterns, they were surprisingly straightforward! The annoying thing was that it referred me to instructions for two other patterns in this particular issue, but all things considered, I can live with that.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Overall, it’s a pretty good basic button-down. I also like that the sleeves are actually long enough for my arms with no alterations. That’s pretty rare. I do not like this collar, though. It’s crazy wide, and just looks kind of weird.

Fabric used: A cotton plaid flannel that I bought at Joann’s. I know there’s a lot of Joann’s haters out there, but aside from some fraying when I prewashed it, the fabric turned out very soft and cozy. Since they’re literally the only apparel fabric store option in my entire state, it’s good to know that they still have nice fabric sometimes!

Plaid matchingPattern alterations or any design changes you made: I left off the pocket, and that little back loop thing. I cut a few pieces on the bias, like the cuffs, collar and yoke, just to avoid more plaid matching. I also used my New Look pattern as a guideline for lowering the bust dart. It would have been super-high on me otherwise. I also didn’t bother putting buttons on the collar stand, because I will never button this that high. Good thing, since I would have been one button short otherwise. 

Quick note on the plaid matching–I honestly forgot to factor in the dart when working on this, so I went for the next best thing and intentionally alternated the lines. Because Amy kept alternating between Rory and the Doctor…yeah, something like that. But hey, look at that matching in the sleeve and under the arms!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?   I might sew it again, with some tweaks.
I’d probably add a little more front shaping, and a bit more flare at the hem. It’s a little tighter around my hips than I’d like. Or maybe I’ll just jump on the Sewcialist bandwagon and buy the Archer….hey, look, she’s having a sale this weekend!

But first, time to change out of these skinny jeans. After all, it’s Thanksgiving here in the States, and that is not a good fashion choice for stuffing my face with turkey and mashed potatoes. 

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!