Archive for 2018

My Thoughts on the Pant Suit

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Experiment:
Vogue 9103
View C
Size 8

Materials:
3.5 Yards of Cotton and Steel's Moonlight Tangrams in Navy
3.5 yards of navy batista
22" Navy Invisible Zipper
Navy Blue Thread

Procedure:
I fell in love with this pattern because the dress looked so chic on the pattern envelope (Gah! Sound like a groupie fan girl!). If I had to come up with two reasons to really appreciate the pattern it would be the bodice and the back gathered skirt.

As a professional, I am always looking for fashion forward work appropriate clothes (What a mouth full! Can I throw in any more adjectives!?!).  I must say that every fiber of my being rebels against the drab pant suit. As a field scientist and grad student, I could wear what I wanted. Most of the time, even though I love girly dresses, I needed to wear jeans or cargo pants when doing experiments especially in the field.  Flash forward to my first gig as a professor -- even there, I had freedom to wear what I wanted -- jeans on cold days and dresses on warm ones.  Then I transitioned into full-time administration (Some would say going to the dark side!) and my wardrobe has morphed into a variety of dresses with some skirt separates and the casual jeans on a Friday. What I cannot come to wear is a pant suit. I am sure the pant suit is absent in my closet. Now I can rock separates -- a jacket and pants or a jacket with a skirt or a dress with a cardigan et cetera -- but the pant suit!?!
I have been to several conferences within the past year and I always feel like the odd woman for not prescribing to the standard pant suit. Then I get extremely self-conscious that I won't be taken seriously. Silly but we all have hang-ups. I thank all strong women who have paved the way for other generations of women to lead, innovate, create, discover, or engineer. I respect all women who wear dresses, jeans or pant suits. But I don't feel any connection or desire to wear the pant suit.

My vibe is a fabulous dress. I would never consider myself creative, I am analytical. One reason I love to sew is to be creative...to fabricate all the lovely clothes that make me feel confident, empowered and allow me to express my voice. And to make something that fits me perfectly.
No pants suit for me. Sorry for the long diatribe. I just keep noticing the pant suit and it has been on my mind. This Vogue pattern is opposite of a pant suit. It is described as having a deep v-neckline. It is a deep deep neckline. I added a detachable modesty panel. Detachable because I didn't make it until I tried on the final dress and was shocked at how low the bodice hit. For me, it was slightly below my bra... the easiest, quickest fix was small panel that I could attach to the lining of the bodice.
Clothes like this dress make me feel confident. Beautiful. Strong. And pretty bad-ass since I made it! In my opinion that is what clothes are meant to do (There was a TV show dedicated on how to dress -What Not to Wear - whose purpose was to empower people through clothes!). I highly recommend Vogue 9103. It was a challenging sew since I had to read the directions. And it is a great alternative to a pant suit if that floats your boat. One of the speakers at a recent conference talked about empowering other women so if a dress is not your thing and you love a suit, I am with you and I know you rock it!  What are your thoughts on the pant suit?


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Belcarra in Bloom

Monday, March 12, 2018

Experiment:
Sewaholic's Belcarra Blouse
Size: 2

Materials:
2 Yards of Art Gallery's Ink Outburst Atelier Voile
Light gray thread

Procedure:
This past week was insane. The previous weekend we traveled for soccer -- had a lot of fun, won all three of our games, saw the sun in what feels like ages but had to endure lots of driving (from north to south Louisiana and back again).  Midweek I got back on the road to attend a conference -- totally worth it as the guest speaker was Sonia Jackson Myles (She was so inspiring and such an amazing speaker!!). I chalk last week up to a whole lot of miles with little pockets of sunshine here and there. When I did find the time to sew over this past weekend, I wanted simple to amp up the sewjo.
I read Melissa's blog post (she blogs at Mahlica Designs) about her spring sewing plan.  I was impressed but then I was immediately depressed as I do not have the planning power or commitment to come up with a long term sewing plan. I challenged myself to plan but I reminded myself that Comparison is the Thief of Joy (One of my favorite quotes!). My way of planning (or sewing) is usually just turning to my stash and hoping the sewing muses grace me with an ounce of creativity. This is the exact method I used for my Belcarra.  Those spring blossoms in the Ink Outburst voile were calling my name.
The Belcarra is an easy beginner sew.  I estimate the total time I spent sewing was around 3 hours -- that is being generous and accounting for tea breaks and kiddo interruptions. The neckline is wide (Why didn't I remember that!?! I have a blog for heaven's sake!) -really wide. Somehow I don't mind it too much. I do like the way the design curves in at your natural waist and flairs around the hips.  Sewaholic is known for keeping the pear-shaped gal in mind.
And you can style the Belcarra with jeans or a skirt. This is my first attempt in 2018 to get back to basics. Look at those flowers!
I really do have spring on my brain. Let's bring on the sunshine!

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Everything's Coming Up Roses Emery Hack

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Experiment:
Emery Skirt (Size 0)
Simplicity 2444 Bodice (Size 8)

Materials:
3 yards of Katarina Rocella's Flowered Engrams Ornate
Scrap fabric for pockets
22" Invisible Zip in Navy Blue
Mettler Gray Thread

Procedure:
This week has been a week of milestones. I am now the mother of an eleven year old. He got a vanilla bean cupcake for breakfast and he wanted steak for his birthday dinner. Birthday dinners are a must in our household and this was our goofy selfie commemorating his birthday while waiting for our dinner at the restaurant. Here is his serious 11-year-old look.
Annnndddd, I had to attend an event where my husband was recognized for his job (great event, crap food, good company). Would suffer crap food over and over again for this guy!
Then to cap it off, after what feels like a never-ending week, last night we had a spring baseball scrimmage in between the spring rain storms.  It was a long evening and the rain held off for the game --worth it until the mosquitoes started to bite!
I had plenty of dresses to wear to this dinner event with Mr. Chemist but what is a girl to do when she looks at all dresses and can't decide!?!? She decides to sew another one!! I turned to my TNTs because I can crank out a dress rather quickly. And I had this gorgeous fabric hiding in my stash. I am in love with Art Gallery Fabrics and I have several of Katarina Rocella's designs. The Art Gallery Fabrics has a great weight and vibrant colors. Soooooo nice. I chose this digital rose print to use for my latest dress hack -- Emery skirt paired with Simplicity 244 bodice.  It is meant to channel spring.
And I went to my TNT bodice Simplicity 2444.  I have lovingly tooled this bodice - I mean, WOWZA -- it fits oh-so-nicely with the right amount of ease.
I used the Emery skirt as a base and added 4 inches in length to the pattern. I wanted to the skirt to hit below my knee.  I am probably going to retrace the skirt pattern and add at least two to three more inches so that is will be a true midi-skirt.
This fabric is really lush -- dreamy and drapey. I love how it goes with my clogs. Am I channeling spring or what?  Rain, rain go away -- I want sun and comfy temps to enjoy the outside. 
I need to make some pants. My closet is now almost bursting with dresses. I see some staple sewing in my future -- any suggestions on go to patterns for wardrobe staples?

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Please List Every Possession Essential for Life

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Experiment:
Simplicity 1878
Size 10

Materials:
2 and 7/8 yards of Nani Iro Orisome Double Gauze
Gold topsitching thread
Light gray thread

Procedure:
Do you ever have an idea in your head for a project that won't go away? I purchased this Nani Iro fabric in Boulder over Christmas and as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted a loose flowy dress in the style of Stylish Dress Book. Unfortunately, I do not own this pattern book...nor did I want to purchase a new pattern book (I am trying to be more sustainable and sew my stash with the patterns I have...I am at heart an eco-hippy kind of gal). I was bummed and stashed this fabric.  But that nagging idea would not dissipate.
Determined. I was determined.  I ended up choosing to use Simplicity 1878 which is an out-of-print Lisette pattern for Simplicity called the Diplomat dress.  My measurements have me falling into the size 8 range but I decided to throw the directions out and try to make my vision come true.
I ended up sizing up the pattern --  I mean the pattern listed 3 inches of ease for each size!! I figured that if I sized up I could ditch the zipper in the back.  I also cut the back piece on the fold to feature the fabric.  The Nani Iro Orisome fabric is a border print.  I used the border to create the center of the bodice and skirt pieces.  Finally, I ended up adding ties to provide some waist definition.
In truth, it didn't turn out exactly like I wanted it to....but....I am pleased at the result.  The fabric is nirvana -- it is so soft and feels like you are wrapped in a soft cloud.  Dreamy.  I am pleased.
I used gold top-stitching thread to top stitch a contrast of the seams. It is subtle and melds into the fabric. I like that I can wear this as a summer dress with sandals or with heels as a statement piece.
Again, the fabric!?! Je t'aime.
The title of this post comes from the book I  just finished:  The Girl Before by J.P. Delany. One of my friends recommended it.  It was an easy read -- not quite as creepy as Girl Gone or Girl on the Train. In the book, the main character has to fill out a survey and is asked to list every possession considered essential for life...right now I would list more of the Nani Iro double gauze to make pants or dresses...basically anything that feels this dreamy needs to be on my body.  I need more double gauze and a new book.  Anybody got any book suggestions??

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No Matter What Dimension You're In, Equations are Lovely

Friday, February 9, 2018

 
Experiment:
Hack of Simplicity 2444 bodice and New Look 6390 skirt with added pockets
Size 8

Materials:
3 yards cotton from Dear Stella called Supernova designed by Rae Ritchie
22" navy invisible zipper
Guterman thread color 272
Fabric scraps for pockets

Procedure:
I know that I sew a lot of dresses.  My closet is now mostly full of handmade lovely dresses.  My weakness is nerdy fabric to make nerdy dresses.  I already have one math dress but I need more.  I have come into this stride where I have less desire to buy new patterns and just sew with the TNTs that I have painstakingly put time and energy into so that the fit is just right.  Enter my latest dress: it is a combo of a tweaked Simplicity 2444 bodice and the New Look 6390 skirt lengthened by 2 inches.
Another reason to like TNT pattern pieces is that most of the time, the sew is already etched into muscle memory such that it doesn't take so long.  My job has kept me busy lately (sorry for the intermittent posts!) and Jules is on a travel soccer (or football, for the rest of the world) team which means my weekend sew time has been exponentially (ha! see how I threw some math in here for the math dress!) on the decrease.  I traveled to south Louisiana to a conference the previous week.  Business travel is never exciting.  I rarely sleep because of a foreign bed and the pillows - gah! To top it all off when I couldn't sleep, I began to watch Season 3 of Luther on Netflix. During the first episode, a creeper bad guy crawls out from under a bed and, of course, kills.  Yeah, that did wonders for my ability to sleep alone in a hotel room. *Sigh* All this week I had to play catch up with all the business that went on while I was gone.
To attempt to become more efficient in my craftiness, once a month I spend a morning or afternoon, prepping and cutting several projects.  Then I find the time to fit in sewing the rest of the month.  Because Mardi Gras is an official holiday season that culminates with state holidays here in Louisiana, I get Monday and Tuesday off (Woot! Woot!  Sew-cation!!).  I am hoping to sew up a storm.
Back to the dress at hand: the New Look skirt pattern has got the lovely swishiness but it does not eat up the fabric of a full circle skirt (I think it is a half circle skirt!?!). I have paired it with several different bodices and I love the look.  Now if I were being entirely honest, this isn't strictly a mathematics dress -- it does have a bit of astronomy.  Ummmm, worth it. Still totally geeky!
I need to make more of this pattern combo...with different fabrics it could become a uniform. What are your favorite TNT patterns?

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Snow Day Sewing

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Experiment:
Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt
Version 2
Size: Small

Materials:
2.25 Yards of Cotton Ikat
White Thread
9" Navy Invisible Zipper

Procedure:
We had an unexpected snow day this week. My family and I were convinced it was not going to snow.  But sometime in the middle of the night the rain transitioned to sleet then to snow. When we woke up the ground was blanketed in a bit of snow. Of course, we ventured out to sled and then came home to warm up with hot chocolate.
After the excitement of snow faded and the cold faces and hands were warmed, I was able to finish a WIP that had been sitting on my sewing table for -- wait for it -- 6 months! 
Gah! I cut this version of the Brumby skirt in August or September last year.  I marked and serged the pieces. Then it sat. To be honest, I forgot about it. I have a sewing basket where I keep the patterns or ziplock bags with projects that I am working on or will begin. The new year hit and I had that nagging urge to organize. . .annnnndddd, guess what I found?!
I love the Brumby for the pockets. They are serious deep pockets. I love the Brumby for the length.  I am still on my midi-obsession.  My original Brumby gets a lot of wear.  I knew this ikat would be perfect for a second one. I did not have a fancy zipper to pop in the skirt so I opted for a standard invisible zip that I had on hand.  There was no way I was venturing out in the South with snow.  Although I am from the North and feel very confident driving in snow, I do not get the same warm fuzzies from Southerners who have less experience in dealings with snow.  Hell, snow comes like every three years here.
I am quite smitten with this skirt.  And I am so thankful it is off my sewing table -- sewing is like books for me.  If I start a book, no matter how bad it is, I still finish it.  I can name the books I gave up on -- its a grand total of nine!!  A sewing project is the same -- my time, energy, creativity, and juju all go into making a garment.  I want to see it from start to finish even if it is a hot mess.
This is my "What should I sew now!?!" picture.  I have been eyeing the Zadie dress from Tilly.  Any other suggestions??

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Toasty Toaster #2

Wednesday, January 10, 2018



Experiment:
The Toaster Sweater
Version 1
Size: Small

Materials:
1 5/8 yards of gray fleece
Gray serger thread cones

Procedure:
All last week the South was blanketed with below-normal freezing temperatures.  When I mean freezing, I am talking 15F (-9C) in Louisiana.  That is 20 degrees F lower that average.   Cold weather had me reaching for warm clothes only to be reminded that I am lacking. After making my first Toaster sweater and still inspired by Meg, I wanted another Toaster Sweater.  Opting for the full Toaster effect and in an effort to stay get warm, I printed Version 1 and set to the task.
This sew was a cinch -- all done on my serger (Man -- I love how fast the serger zips through seams! Very satisfying!).  Over the course of three evenings, I dealt with the pattern, then I prepped fabric and cut -- by the end of the third evening I had a new sweater.  Ummmm, hells yeah.
I choose gray fleece -- fleece is universally warm and it adds to my winter wardrobe.  Similar to my previous Toaster, I did not do a muslin. The sleeves are a tad long but I think it adds to the coziness of the sweater.  I wish I would have thought to add thumb holes to the cuffs.  I guess I need to make another. I'll also probably add a bit of length.
Overall, I love both of my Toasters.  They are going to get a lot of wear this winter since we are again set to get freezing low temperatures going into the weekend.  I want to try the Simplicity Toaster pattern as well -- anyone try it? any thoughts?

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Toasty New Year

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year.  I am not a New Year resolution kind of girl.  But I am a list maker and goal oriented -- that sort of counts, right!?  Here is my sewing list:
  • Sew more of my fabric stash
  • Make a pair of jeans 
  • Face my fear of sewing knits and just sew (I am sure my Bernina can handle it!)

I have to share one of the last of my 2017 makes.  I blame Meg from Cookin' and Craftin'.  She showcased a whole week of the Sew House Seven pattern: The Toaster Sweater.  If I am honest, well, I wasn't wowed when this pattern was released.  The sweater had a boxy look and I couldn't imagine myself wearing it.  Soooooo, I skipped it and admired all the bloggers from afar that made the sweater.
Experiment:
Toaster Sweater
Version 2
Size: Small

Materials:
A bit over 1.5 yards on Ponte Knit
Brown thread from an estate sale

Procedure:
Yup, perfect timing.  A week of Meg blogging cozy sweaters and the realization that I was heading to spend 10-days in Boulder, Colorado where it was forecasted to snow a majority of the time we were there led me to purchase the pattern.  Thank goodness for inspiration and downloadable pdf patterns.  By mid-Toaster-week, I was a Toaster believer.  In an evening, I purchased the pattern, printed, and taped that sucker together.
 
My knit stash is rather pathetic (look above at my list of things to tackle in 2018 -- I do have an aversion to sewing with knits.  So many bloggers swear by it but I have not had the best of luck.  I avoid sewing knits AND buying them).  Rant aside -- I did happen to have a luscious ponte knit within my stash.  Amazingly, it was washed and prepped for a project.  Since ponte sews like a woven I was confident I could make the Toaster Sweater. BAM! Toaster Version 2 was whipped up in an evening.  
In my haste, I did not have time for a muslin.  I find the length just to be alright.  I prefer a little longer.  Next time I make one (and yes, it is an easy sew, flattering sweater, and cozy so there will be another sew) I think I will add a couple of inches in length.  I may add 3 to 4 more inches so that I could wear a version with leggings and it would cover my bum. The neckline is divine and those side vents are on point.  You cannot see it in any of my photos (I needed to get some beautiful mountain blog photos) but the mitered corners are gorgeous. 
I spent last night taping together the pattern for version #1 of the Toaster.  This Arctic air mass has the whole Southern portion of the United States drowning in freezing temperatures.  I'll probably have a new cozy Toaster by the weekend!

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