2014’s top 5 hits and misses

Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5
Time for the Top 5 lists, as hosted by the fabulous Gillian! I’m going to start off with hits and misses today.

Top 5 Hits
Looking back over my posts this year, I guess this was the year of pants, coats and dresses.

Grey Thurlows 21. The Thurlow Trousers– all 4 pairs of them I made this year. I’m just showing the grey pair here, since they show up in photos the best. Along with the brown test pair I made in 2013, these got a ton of wear during the cooler months this year. And unlike most of my jeans, I was able to wear these pretty much all the way through the first trimester–it was just last week that I had to resort to safety-pinning them closed rather than buttoning them. So I’m feeling hopeful that, even though I’ll have to retire them for the remainder of this winter, maybe I can pull them out again next fall.

Robson Coat

2. The Robson coat. I love the color, and I’m quite happy with the inside finishing. I will confess I need to do a tiny bit of repair on one of the pocket flaps where the stitching has come out, but aside from that, everything’s holding up nicely. I actually took this with me to Paris and ended up wearing it pretty much constantly, and it was the perfect added layer. Also, dragon buttons!

Tea Cambie3.  The teacup Cambie. I loooove the print on this dress, and I have to admit that this is probably the dress that I’m most nervous won’t fit again post-pregnancy. Here’s hoping, because I really feel like this dress deserves more wearing than I was able to give it in one season!

IMG_13884. The Tiramisu maxi-dress. This one did get quite a bit of wear over the summer, since it’s a little more casual of a dress than the Cambie, and that makes it easy to wear for teaching and such. This one did adapt very nicely to the longer skirt, and I’m glad I got a chance to try this hack out!

peacoat5. Even though it did take forever to make, I’m going to have to say the peacoat. The time I spent on the tailoring seems to have been well worth it so far, as was the investment in the Thinsulate. It’s much less stiff to wear than the old one, and so far, it seems to be keeping me warm.

Top 5 Misses: 
Not all of these are necessarily sewing projects, or even entire sewing projects. But still…
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1. The daisy Sorbetto. It’s not so much that this project was a fail, as that I just haven’t worn it much. I pretty much have this one skirt that it works with and that’s it. Plus it got cold pretty quickly after I made it, and, well…you know, all my clothes starting to not fit. I’ll probably pull it out again sometime, though I doubt I’ll get much wear from it next summer, as it’s not the most nursing-friendly top.

2. My jeans hardware installation skills. I think I would have gotten a lot more use out of the skinny jeans earlier in the fall, if the button hadn’t started to get loose after one wash. My dad used some of his epoxy-type stuff to ensure that it wasn’t going anywhere, and that’s worked. But it’s also made the inside waistband really scratchy right behind the button. I managed a quick fix for awhile by just sticking a band-aid behind the button, but I need to stitch a patch over it for a more permanent solution. I just never got to it, and now that those jeans won’t fit me for awhile anyway, my motivation to do so has been quite low.

Irish cables hat
3. This hat. I think it would have been better for me if it had been about an inch longer. It barely covered my ears at all, and that bugged me to no end. I ended up giving it to my mom, since it fit her much better. I guess I have a big head or something?

IMG_13224. The Tauriel costume, which I attempted to make for the Sewcialists’ “March of the Shieldmaidens” sewalong. A combination of bad choice of fabric and less-than-stellar pattern alterations left this looking pretty awful. And though I love making costumes, I wasn’t having much fun with it, and was just getting stressed at how many more things I’d need to make for DragonCon vs. how long this was taking. So I ended up throwing it out and wearing my old Eowyn costume instead. Which was probably for the best.

5. Honestly, I think the biggest miss for me this year, or at least the last couple of months, has just been sewing time. It’s not that I didn’t want to, or even that I didn’t have any free time in which to do so. It’s just that my “morning” sickness ended up being so bloody awful and I just didn’t have the physical stamina to do it as much as I would have liked.

So what’s your favorite thing(s) that you’ve made this year? Anything you wish had gone better?

The Sorbetto that was late for everything

I love sewalongs! Especially when I can work things so that one project fits the parameters of multiple ones. What can I say, I guess I have a hard time not wanting to participate in All The Things. I mentioned in a recent post that I’d been planning to make a Red Velvet that I could use for both The Monthly Stitch’s birthday sewalong, and the Sewcialists’ Tribute month, and that it didn’t work out. So my plan B was to revisit my original list of things I planned to sew this summer, and make the Colette Sorbetto. My thought process, since I was still in DragonCon prep mode at the time, was pretty much this:

“A lot of cake has flowers on it, so a floral print top would work for cake. Even if they’re daisies and not roses. And I’m sure somebody out there likes Sorbettos enough that I could say this is a tribute to her, right? Right!”

And then I didn’t finish this until yesterday anyway, which makes it too late for both sewalongs. Oh well. I’ll probably throw this one up on TMS anyway.

Oh, right, you probably want to see that shirt, don’t you?

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So here it is, in all of its slouchy glory. I’m still not convinced this is a good pattern for me, to be honest. It’s all right when tucked in, though that’s not a look I often go for, and I guess I’m a little stuck on looser top + fitted skirt still = waist definition. But it is pretty comfortable to wear outside, which is good, because September and July seem to have traded places this year! So while I was enjoying mostly that golden range of 70-85 degrees most of the summer, now that it’s unofficially fall, we’re back to 90 degrees and 200% humidity. Go figure.

I did make a couple of changes, which are completely unoriginal, given how long this pattern’s been out. I lowered the darts about 1″, because they were way too high on the original pattern. I’m pretty sure they’re in an ok place now, but the shirt tends to slide forward on me and bring them too low, so it’s hard to say. I also replaced that front pleat with some gathering–I thought that might help it work better with both the pattern and, well, my chest. In that, I do think this was more successful than my last attempt. Finally, I lengthened the pattern as much as the fabric would let me.

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Untucked, it just looks like a sack. So while I was considering/planning to bring this on my upcoming France trip, now I’m not so sure.

As for the fabric, it’s a rayon challis that I acquired via a swap with Kat about a year and a half ago. I hadn’t sewn with challis since, oh, the 90s. And I forgot how lovely it can be to work with–which is good, since I have 2 more pieces stashed for dresses! And I guess a year and a half really isn’t all that bad, as far as my stash habits go. I literally still have fabric that I purchased back when I was in college (over a decade now, yikes!), though at least by now, it’s a piece leftover from a finished project.

The time of year pretty much demands that I move on to more fall sewing now. So let’s evaluate how I did with my summer sewing plans overall, shall we?

Tops:

  1. A navy daisy-print tank, most likely a slightly modified Sorbetto. See above.
  2. A royal blue button-down blouse, from a Burda mag. Not even close to thinking about this one.
  3. A navy Archer blouse, which will probably be closer to the fall. I did think about this one, but it obviously didn’t happen.
  4. A striped ivory knit tee–hoping to use the Plantain but we’ll see if I have enough fabric. Done, cardigan-style.

Bottoms:

  1. Fitted/skinny-ish jeans. Check!
  2. Thurlow shorts. Too bad I didn’t have time for these, because I really could have used some shorts that fit for when I was at work, if nothing else. Maybe next year?
  3. Solid black Thurlow pants, which I do not currently have fabric for. And I still don’t have fabric for them, but I still should do this sometime. My black RTW pants that I’ve also had since college are finally starting to fall apart!
  4. Possibly some black Clover pants– I have fabric that will work, but have not tested this pattern yet. Maybe I should just use that fabric with the Thurlows?
  5. If I have time, a Pavlova skirt. I didn’t have time.
  6. I also have a plum skirt that I can do a quick refashion of to make it a better skirt. Maybe this fall?

Dresses:

  1. A navy/ivory Cambie  Done!
  2.  A plum/yellow/royal/white Darling Ranges. I’m bumping this one to my fall plans.
  3. A yellow/white/turquoise Reglisse dress. Part of me is tempted to say I want to make this in October, since The Monthly Stitch is using that pattern as one of their Frocktober contest ones, but the colors are just sooooo summery. I dunno.
  4. A plum/green/white/ knit Tiramisu maxi-dress Done!
  5. A black tank knit maxidress, from McCall’s 6559. Done, though shorter than planned.

Layering pieces: Honestly, I didn’t touch this category.

  1. a 3/4 sleeve jacket, from the ivory/black embroidered twill I got at Mood and Simplicity 4491 (which I’ll modify to shorten and cuff the sleeves.)
  2. An ivory Carmine shrug.
  3.  a yellow knitted cardigan, which I already have yarn and a pattern for, but starting it will have to wait until I finish my grey cardigan. Considering I haven’t even finished my Roheline cardigan yet, this was a definite no-go.

IMG_1592So all in all, I had 18 things on my list, only made 6 of them, but also made about 6 things that weren’t on this list at all for DragonCon. Plus that Kimono tee from the maxi-dress leftovers, and a couple of refashions. So I guess that isn’t too bad for this summer!

Next post: FESA plans!! Did I mention I love sewalongs? But for now, I’ll leave you with my “smug model” photo. Because I can. And this particular picture makes me think that maybe tucking in a looser top could actually work on me. Maybe.

a traveling companion bag

Last bit of Dragon-Con related sewing, I promise!

IMG_1575The one thing I finished up just before the Con that I didn’t say much about earlier was a new bag–I wanted something that I could use for both day trips and airplanes, and this one worked out beautifully. This is the Cooper bag from Colette Patterns, and I pretty much mashed together the messenger bag and backpack versions. My original thought was to make the backpack straps so they could zip into the back, but at the end of the day, it was far more simple to just make a removable messenger bag strap, so that’s what I did.

IMG_1578Under normal circumstances, I probably would have passed on solid grey and navy. But my planning revolved largely around this Spoonflower print of TARDIS (Tardises? Tardii? How do you even pluralize that, Whovians?) and Gallifreyan writing that Doug gave me last Christmas. Since it was the quilting cotton, I figured it would be best utilized as a bag lining. As for the outside, it’s leftover grey twill from my Thurlow pants, and some stiff poplin-esque fabric that my mom destashed on me. I didn’t manage to completely use up any of these fabrics, which particularly surprises me with the grey since it was already leftovers, but it’s a start.

And yeah, I stuck a TARDIS on the outside. Because I could. And also because since I have this habit of taking a little plastic TARDIS with me on trips and sticking it in random places, I figured it was fitting. 

The one non-pattern addition I made was the separating zipper–I figured if I was planning to carry this around for day trips and such, I’d feel more comfortable if I had more than a flap and a couple of magnetic snaps standing between me and potential pickpockets. My mom, who is quite experienced at making bags, was kind enough to sew this one along with me and help me figure out the best way to do the zipper, since she added one to hers as well.

IMG_1576And here’s the back! The only thing that somewhat annoys me about this bag is that the straps tend to flop out past the sides when I’m carrying this messenger-style, but it’s not annoying enough to undo the straps and try to come up with something different. I was also pleased to learn when carrying it around this past weekend that the webbing straps were surprisingly comfortable, though I’m not sure they would have been if I’d been wearing anything sleeveless.

All in all, I think this bag will be quite useful, and now that I know how it works, I’d definitely use the pattern again. Maybe Doug will actually let me sew one for him sometime?

Mone-misu? Tir-etta?

Monemisu

This dress wasn’t in my original summer plan, but it was a nice quick make. I cut it out and sewed most of the bodice together on Sunday, sewed the neckline and armholes on Monday, made and attached the skirt on Wednesday, and hemmed it yesterday. It’s also nice and comfortable–the fabric is some rayon knit from Mood that I bought specifically for this project. Not so great for the stashbusting, but at least I used it quickly!

IMG_1411This week’s Indie Pattern Month contest on The Monthly Stitch is Franken-patterning, so that was part of my inspiration.  The top is based on the Colette Monetta dress, and the bottom is based on the Cake Tiramisu dress, though I modified both parts. For the Monetta top, I squared off the neckline and added seams down the center of both the front and back of the outside pieces. Since I wasn’t doing the collar, but I still wanted to line the top, I also had to tweak the clean finish directions a bit–I did that around the neckline, and the lower half of the armholes, but I had to hand-stitch the top of the armholes closed. For the skirt, I cut both halves on the fold instead of seaming it down the middle like the original pattern. It’s a pretty plain and simple dress overall, but I think it’ll be a good one to play with accessories. Especially since the color is much brighter and cheerier than the average neutral solid knit dress!

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So if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I’m a fan of secretly geeky clothes. Now that I’ve got you thinking this is just a normal knit dress, it’s time to ruin the illusion by revealing that this is also going to be a part of one of my DragonCon costumes! I still have a couple components to make for that, but I’ll give you a clue: Think Disney bookworm who’s fond of teacups.

I’m having trouble with the picture insert, so you can find the picture here. So did I get the gist of it? The idea is to make as many costume bits that can be worn as everyday clothes as possible, so I’m not spending my entire summer sewing things that I’m only going to wear once. And Belle was my favorite when I was a kid–she loved books, she was a fellow brownI’m having trouble inserting the picture, so click here.-eyed girl, and she wasn’t afraid to use her head to help her get out of sticky situations. And whack at the wolves with a big stick, even if she wasn’t very good at it. What’s not to love?
I still need to make a top, apron, and hair bow for this, but I think this dress is a pretty good start.

Speaking of DragonCon, I’ve recently made the difficult decision to set the Tauriel costume aside. It’s been going so slowly, and I’ve been racking my brains unsuccessfully for 3 months to come up with a good way to sew that armor bodice without making the vinyl tear apart the second I put it on, since I never was able to find a closure for it. Given how much I still need to make for multiple costumes, even though they’re more everyday-clothes, and that I’m also going to need to help my best friend with some of hers, it just doesn’t make sense to continue when I have a perfectly good Eowyn costume that only needs a blonde wig. Besides, as surprisingly much as I enjoyed Tauriel in the latest Hobbit movie, Eowyn is still cooler. And, you know, actually in the books.