Archive for 2017

Dora the Explorer Doesn't Have Anything on Me

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Errrr, last week was the final week of classes for the fall semester.  I also traveled to New Orleans for a work conference for half the week.  Highlights of the trip (besides all the conference knowledge) included a cauliflower taco from Johnny Sanchez and perfect weather.   I have trouble sleeping in a hotel so I binged watched the latest season of Broadchurch and I perused Anthropolgie and Modcloth for sewing inspiration. During the 5 hour car ride home on Friday evening, in between bouts of conversation, I plotted my weekend sewing. I couldn't get a blue skirt from Modcloth out of my head.
Experiment:
Megan Nielsen Veronika Skirt Pattern (It's free!)
Size: Small

Materials:
3.5 Yards of Navy Blue Cotton Poly Blend
7" Invisible Zipper

Procedure:
I wanted to sew something uncomplicated.   Since I have made this skirt here and here, this sew was an easy couple hour investment. Circle skirts are flattering and fun.
The hardest part of the pattern is leaving the dang thing to hang overnight before hemming.  Then my least favorite part is hemming a circle skirt.  It is worth it.
Ooohh, I love how it twirls. Perfect for work. My closet is full of navy and coordinating colors -- this will do nicely.
Not bad for a Saturday evening sew.

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Blog Hibernation -- I am Awake!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Yikes!  It has been 8 months and 6 days since my last post. I have sewn. I have sworn. I have laughed.   Here is the 6-point synopsis:
  • I survived my first Spring semester as a School Director.
  • Mr. Chemist, Jules, and I went to Chicago.  We went to the Nutella Cafe (Yes -- that is a real thing!), a Cubs game, the Art Institute and ate a whole bunch of goodness.
  • At the beginning of the year, I started (yet again) practicing yoga.  It began as a 10-minute stress relief and has turned into an everyday 30-60 minute yoga practice.
  • I became obsessed with Candy Crush for a month.
  • I went to the Fair (i.e. traveling-carnival-ride-type-of-fair) for the first time in my life. And my son made it almost two hours before vomiting (He and rides that spin do not get along very well!).
I set intentions to try to blog and...uh...and I thought about blog posts (even have a few drafts) and....hmmmmm...and I just could not find the energy to photograph or write.  I didn't mean for the absence to be so long but I think I needed it.
 
Roisin of Dolly Clackett reminded me that Doctor Who first aired on the BBC in November of 1963 -- I think she said 23 November 1963.  It was Thanksgiving in the United States on November 23rd so I didn't wear this dress but I did make it in November so that counts as a tribute, right??

My little family loves Doctor Who  -- all his different versions and adventures. My least favorite Doctor was Matt Smith.  But a favorite!?!  Errr, that is hard. David Tenant?  I was a big fan of Donna as a companion -- she was no nonsense, funny, and really so different from the other companions before her. I cannot wait for the first female Doctor!! So you can see why I would have TARDIS fabric in my stash.

Experiment:
Simplicity 1419
Size 8

Materials:
3 yards TARDIS cotton
White Coats and Clark Thread
22" Navy Blue invisible zipper
Procedure:
Since my time is limited, I have been revisiting patterns that I love.  I haven't bought a pattern since March (I am lusting after the Patti Pocket Skirt pattern from Amy Nicole Studio).  I still have a fabric stash that is sinful which doesn't take a PhD to figure out how to destash -- SEW!
I had sewn up Simplicity 1419 ages ago. There is not much to say about this dress other than I love it -- since I'd sewn the pattern previously and I made notes on the pattern (say what?!? I can't believe I had the brains to do that!) -- construction was straightforward.  I did sew the seams at 3/8" because my old version was a little tight in the chest area.  And I added an inch to the skirt so that it skimmed just below the knees.
I'll always love a dress with pockets. And I can rock it with Converse! Ciao -- glad to be back!

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That's some ghost stuff bro

Sunday, March 19, 2017

I meant to get this post out last week and the week before that.  Honestly, I have been writing bits here and there (Although from the look of this post, there is hardly anything to it!).  My sew-jo, on the other hand, has crashed.  I have been traveling for work a lot and then of course, I got sick from all the said travel and what feels like non-stop work.  That poor Alder shirtdress that I started in February is sitting on my work table in sad state.

Experiment:
Simplicity 2444
Size 8
Materials:
3 Yards Black Cotton (Fabric Benartex -- Math Wizard)
22" Black zip
Gray hem tape

Procedure:
I had a math event to attend and I thought -- I need a math dress!  Every geeky gal needs a math dress.  I found several gorgeous fabrics with math - some were childish and others were custom made which meant they were out of my price range.  Stalking Etsy, I settled on a subtle math fabric that was black with white equations all over it from Fabric Benartex called Math Wizard.  From far away, it looks like black fabric with a white lines but up close -- it is full-on math nerdiness.  You can talk nerdy to me anytime!
Limited time made me grab my Simplicity 2444 TNT dress pattern.  I opted for the sleeveless version and for something new, I added the big ties.  Since this pattern is one of my TNTs, the longest part was cutting and marking.
When I was pulling this pattern out of my stash, I found the pattern sleeve, the pattern but no directions.  I keep all my patterns in large plastic bins and ziplock bags.  I am sure the directions are somewhere in the bin -- I didn't want to expend any energy finding them.  Good thing I have sewn this pattern several times.
I wanted a slightly longer skirt --just below- my knees.  I used hem to create a very narrow hem and add length to the skirt.  I should have added some horsehair to the bottom for an understated swishy skirt.  Regardless, I love this dress.  Now I just have to find my sew-jo...oh and my voice (Thanks cold for kicking my butt!).


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Try Very Hard Not to be Predictable

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Squeeeee!  I am a big Potter fan.  But I was skeptical about Fantastic Beasts.  My son read the 'textbook' when he was on his HP kick last school year and it is literally that: a textbook of descriptions of fantastic beasts.  Sooooo when it was announced there was a movie -- I was kind of like, really?  Fast forward to the end of 2016 when my son and husband dragged me to the movies.  My verdict: Fantastic Beasts was ah-mazing!  The costumes were on fire.  And that is how I became obsessed with 1920s and 1930s patterns (you know -- so I could create my own fantastically inspired wardrobe).
Experiment:
McCall's M7153
Size: 8

Materials:
3+ yards of Cotton and Steel Mustang Sparkle Arrows
14" cream colored zipper
A hook and eye
Meter Navy blue thread

Procedure:
McCall's M7153 is a reissued pattern from 1933.  It has a v-neckline in the front and a plunging v-backline.  It is cut on the bias.  It has an interesting shape in which the bodice has a mirror V that ends beneath the natural waist.  I have never sewn something like this with a the little pattern pieces -- I actually had to read the directions. The pattern is more puzzle-like and less intuitive than most patterns I sew.
Because of how the dress was cut on the bias, I knew I wanted to use a stripe.  The Melody Miller designed arrow fabric for Cotton & Steel was sitting on top of the blues (I have so very many blues!) in my stash.  Superb for a little modern kick to a 1933 pattern.  I got a little sloppy and did not cut mirror images of the side panels of the skirt.  I was a little worried I would not cut them straight.  It doesn't has that dramatic effect that the dress on the pattern cover does but it works.
Besides botching the side panels, I removed about 3 inches from the skirt panels so that it would sit about an inch or so below my knee.  I think I am getting shorter because lately it feels like I am getting rid of more and more from the length to get a good fit.  There are no directions at how to alter the waist probably because the waist includes like 7 pieces coming together.  I used some Harry Potter magic to take in the waist slightly for a better fit.  I have to admit that I am a little self-conscience of the V at the waist as I feel like it points to my mom pooch (A big arrow that lets everyone know it is there).  I know its just me but I can't help thinking of that when I wear the dress.
The back of the dress plunges.  Love it!  I also made a matching belt to go with the dress but forgot it in these pictures.  The belt does help break up the V and focus the eye back on the waist.
This is my Fantastic Beasts Tina dress complete with practical shoes (my go-to Lacy sandel Hasbeens).   The title of the post is line from the Fantastic Beasts movie.  I thought it was ideal since this pattern was anything but predictable and it turned out so fantastic!

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The Proof is in the Dress

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The ATL Dirty birds are currently kicking some Patriot booty in Superbowl 51.  Woot!  Pour moi, the Superbowl is an excuse for a cocktail and watching the commercials (for those who are not in the US,  companies pay crazy amounts of money to advertise during the game so this is the one time where I want to see the commercials!).   With one margarita down, I figured now would be a wonderful time to write about my latest make.  This dress has been my longest WIP.  I think I cut it out during the summer, put the bodice together in the fall, and finished the dress on a rainy Sunday in January.
Experiment:
M6696
View A
Size 8

Materials:
3.5 yards of navy shirting
Meter #792 Navy Thread
12 nautical themed shank buttons
Homemade bias tape
Procedure:
No joke - I cannot believe this dress has taken me as long as it has.  It was a WIP that I couldn't get motivated to finish.  I am pretty sure I can attribute this to the dread I would feel making buttonholes on my Singer.  My Singer would devour buttonholes no matter how much interfacing and stabilizer I used.  The majority of this dress was finished on my Singer.  I made the buttonholes on my new Bernina -- it was worth the wait.
This dress has a sooooooooo many pattern pieces.  Attention to detail and a lot of hand sewing is involved.  I hand sewed the yoke but then my impatience kicked in.  As a result, I stitched in the ditch where I could, reducing my hand sewing.  I know so many seamstresses proclaim how much they love hand sewing but I cannot muster up the thrill.  Other adjustments include sewing the pleats 2.5 inches down.  I like how that shapes the waist and lets the volume out around my hips.   Also, I did adjust the length of the bodice slightly so it sat at my natural waist.
The pattern calls for 1/2 inch buttons.  I could not find 1/2 inch buttons that I liked.  So I adjusted and went with 3/4 inch shank buttons.  The nautical theme includes anchors and whales with sparkly bits on the button.  I love how the colors pop with the navy dress.
I can now see why so many bloggers love this pattern.  It is a solid well drafted pattern.  And look at the result!!  Swoon!  J'adore.


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He seduced me with popcorn

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I have been searching for a good woven tank pattern.  One preferably that could be made with a scant yard or possibly a meter of fabric.  Nothing fancy just a woven tank to wear with skirts or shorts.  A tank perfect for the hot and humid summers that can transition to other seasons with layers.  Yep, I have been searching.  Combing the blogs it is obvious that seamstresses love Grainline Studio's Tiny Pocket Tank (which I cannot find in Grainline's pattern shop so maybe it is retired....?!?) or Wiksten's Tank pattern.  I opted for Big 4 version because for next-to-nothing during a sale  (You know me.), I found the Kwik Sew 3848 Tank pattern.  Et voila!  A Saturday afternoon well spent.
Experiment:
Kwik Sew 3848
Size: Extra Small
View B

Materials:
1 meter of geometric cotton
Homemade bias tape
Meter Thread in Eggshell
Procedure:
Continuing my Kwik Sew experiments, I should have anticipated the pattern would be long.  I should have remembered their generous amount of ease.  Lately my brain resembles Swiss cheese (Thanks new job that has a cray-cray pace!).  Remembering details like this seems hazy (Kind of reminds me of pregnancy brain where I could not for the life of me remember details.  I am going to dub this episode of my life 'director brain' cause managing a large area really has sucked all sewing memory cells not to mention my free time.).  I am learning I have to write down everything or it will not stick.  Any who, Kwik Sew -- I love your patterns but I don't think you designed them for my body type.
Good thing I have ninja pattern skills.  I had a meter of fabric for this test woven tank.  I am considering this a muslin because I am on a mission for perfecting the woven tank.  After I traced the pattern, I did a quick tissue fitting.  It was obviously that it was waaaaayyyyyy tooooooooo loooonnnngggg.  I removed four inches from the bottom of the pattern.  The adjustment allowed the hem to sit right a my hips.  I like this length because it works for tucking in or leaving untucked.  The neckline was a little low so I adjusted the pattern to raise it about a half of an inch.
Boom.  Off to work I went.  A couple of hours (two pattern pieces and a bunch of bias tape) and here is my tank.  I am generally happy with the overall product (although it is a bit boxy and could use some shaping).  My biggest peeve is that the arm holes gap.  See?  The arm holes are slightly too large.  The adjustment note has been recorded in my sewing notebook and  I will definitely have to fix this on the paper pattern.  I can make this work as a layering piece so it is not a failed experiment.
Any other recommendations of a woven tank that doesn't require gobs of fabric??

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Cloudy with a Chance of a Tova

Monday, January 16, 2017

I know a lady who is absolutely obsessed with the Wiksten Tova pattern.  Every time I see her, literally, I declare how I love her top...it is almost comedic because she shrugs her shoulders and always responds "It's my favorite: The Tova."  This was why I came to know the Tova pattern.  It was added to my long list of patterns to buy and sew (I know we all have a never-ending list!).  Well, I was at my husband's holiday party and I happen to again comment my love for her top.  About a week later Mr. Chemist came home with an envelope.  Inside was the Tova pattern with a note to enjoy (Thank you T. J.)!
Experiment:
Size: Small

Materials:
2 Yards brushed cotton flannel
White Mettler Thread (#15 White)

Procedure:
I unexpectedly got all of Saturday to sew since Mr. Chemist took students to a Quiz bowl tournament and my son endured a long standardized test in the morning and then played with friends all afternoon.  I was very thankful that I had the Tova cut and marked.  A frigid cold spell descended into our region when I was cutting this pattern which inspired a warm, snuggly brushed cotton flannel Tova. 
I had to scratch my head a couple of times with procedure.  Especially when putting together the yoke.  The directions sound counterintuitive but basting and pinning (this is the experimentalist in me!) convinced me it was going to work.  The yoke was challenging in that good sort of way.  And I survived.
The pattern calls for a little over 2 yards.  I had only two yards so instead of cutting the back piece on the fold, I just added seam allowance.  I also cut the cuff pieces off grain.  It was a puzzle but I consumed that two yards.  I did end up with excess fabric around the neck in the back and added a  petit-pleat to remove it.  Hard to see in the picture below but you can kind of make out the center back seam.
With the yoke down (and the collar), the rest of the shirt sews up quite effortlessly.  Or could that be my new machine??  Sappy moment ahead:  I. Love. My. Bernina.  She is absolutely luscious but hardcore enough to conquer thick seams.  I almost expect her to sew autonomously... but where would the fun be in that?

If I am honest, this top is very, very roomy.  I haven't made up my mind if I like it.  Because of the roominess, I styled it with slimmer jeans that taper.  I wanted to wear the Tova with my Birkin Jeans today but Mr. Chemist wrinkled his face which I can translate to "Are you sure?!? Are you really sure you are going to wear those two things together? Please carefully look at yourself in a full-length mirror"   Years of knowing each affords us this essential non-verbal communication skill.  I did look at myself and I'll admit it: He was right.  the roominess and flare of the jeans looked comical.  I have a feeling that the Tova will be a perfect travel (plane, train, car or bus) shirt.
Happy Monday!

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New Year, New Job, New Sewing Machine

Saturday, January 7, 2017

I made it through my first week of my new job.  It was quiet -- a lot to learn and little time but nonetheless, it is past. Th exhaustion of adjusting and my son's basketball game in the middle of the week, there was no time to sew. I did cut the Wiksten Tova in a lush warm flannel -- took me all week.  Anywhos, new year, new job and a new sewing machine but I am here to share one of the my last makes of 2016.
Experiment:
Karri Dress
Size: Small

Materials:
3 yards of blue cotton voile
3 yards of polyester lining (yikes! All I had in the stash)
Blue invisible zipper
Gray Mettler Thread

Procedure:
I was a tester for Megan Neilsen's Karri pattern. This is a scrap busting pattern with many tiny pieces so you can go to town on all those scraps of fabric that are stuffed into a bag (clearly I am assuming everyone stores scraps like I do -- stuffing them into a bag which hides in the odd corner -- I've got so many scraps I don't even know what to do with them.)!  It has a paneled bodice with princess seams and a paneled skirt with pockets.  I opted to make a sleeveless version as I prefer the ability to wear my dresses in summer or winter!
I have tested a lot of different patterns and so I tend not to invest really precious fabric into the testing process.  I have had disaster makes before and it bums me to waste fabric. Sooooo, I used a blue cotton -- it was lightweight of unknown origin in my stash.  And yes, I didn't use scraps even though I had a bag, even though I could have.  To be honest it was because ...I didn't want to look like some psychedelic girly hippie... I was more concerned with directions, fit, and pattern pieces for the testing processes than making a awesome scrap dress.
It turns out that it all came together rather nicely.  I chose small based on my measurements but I probably should have gone with extra small.  I ended up have to take in to make it work (Very Tim Gunn moment) especially since there was a deadline. I have to say that my favorite part of this dress is the back.  I would also probably adjust the neckline on the second go-round as well - lower it just a smidge.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda and I didn't.  Here is the Karri with a belt:
I am an uber fan of Megan Nielsen.  Her patterns are well-designed and her directions are superb.  I haven't met a pattern I don't like of hers.  Actually, writing this post and gazing at these pictures makes me wish for warmer weather!  Yesterday the Southern US got slammed with winter weather. Northern Louisiana had freezing rain and today it is just arctic.  Guess that means I just have to stay indoors and sew.

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