Slithering in late to the party…

I love  Jungle January! I stalk Pretty Grievances all January to see the jungle-inspired creations of other sewing bloggers. Last year I was a tad late. This year, I’m even later…

Everything about this make is late. I purchased the fabric at Joann’s last January and intended to make a top out of it.

IMG_1869

Life got in the way and I changed my mind about the top. I went with a classic wrap dress instead. There are a lot of wrap dress patterns out there and I have become obsessed with trying to score one of the original 1970s Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress patterns. For now, Butterick 5454 does the job.

photo

It’s tough to tell on the pattern envelope, but the dress has some tuck detailing at the shoulders and the hips on both the front and back of the dress. I really like the hip tucks because they provide some ease for those of us with curves. The only modification I made was to the sleeve length. I made up view B and extended the sleeves to make long sleeves rather than elbow length.

Here it is…

IMG_1822

I was home visiting my parents this weekend and my mom snapped these before my fiance and I headed out to dinner with some friends. She’s not the best with the iPhone camera and I’m not the best model, so this is as good as it gets.

Side view:

IMG_1867

Back view:

IMG_1843

The knit was really easy to sew. I LOVE sewing with knits. They are so forgiving. I used my walking foot and fusible knit tape on all the hems.

Based on my measurements, I should have made up the 14. It looked about right on my cutting mat, but once I basted everything together, it was massive- we’re talking tent-like ginormous proportions. I ended up cutting the entire dress down to about a size 10. Maybe a less stretchy knit would require a bigger size, but in this material, my suggested size was really off.

After a night of decadent food and drinks, the dress was still comfortable. It passed the out-on-the-town test. Now, I’m debating it’s work appropriateness. I was just offered a job (very excited!) and I’d love to wear it to work in the near future. The fabric has a bit of sparkle to it, but maybe with black tights I can pull it off.

I will definitely make another. There is some black jersey in my stash and a blue and white knit that I think will end up as wrap dresses. Next time, I’ll cut the smaller size. I think I may try different sleeve variations, too. I’m not a fan of the bell sleeves, but the flutter sleeves might be nice. I also think I’ll add an extra inch or two at the neck so I don’t have to wear a cami under the dress. It’s fine for winter, but in warmer months, the less layers, the better.

Some knitting and my first Zinnia

Eek! It’s been over a month since my last post! I’ve been busy getting into the groove of life in my new city. I’ve also been focusing on my dissertation.

I spend lots of time staring at my computer screen while drinking coffee.

Soy latte in Chinatown Coffee Company

Soy latte at the Chinatown Coffee Company. I’m in love with the milk foam heart.

As it gets colder in D.C. (it’s supposed to snow this weekend!), my knitting needles have been clicking away. I made a turquoise hat to wear in the cold at home and to a conference last month in Minnesota. Minn is freezing! My bones were cold… I found a sample of this hat at Looped Yarn Works in Dupont Circle. It was cute and looked easy. The pattern is called 201 Hat found on jessibean’s Ravelry page. It worked up very fast and is comfy to wear.

Freezing with fellow students in Minneapolis.

Freezing with fellow graduate students in Minneapolis.

Then, I made a cowl from some lovely textured yarn a former co-worker gifted to me. I think it was hand-dyed and I suspect it’s rather old. I used the free bulky mobius cowl pattern. I wasn’t able to pull off the mobius cast on this this yarn, but hope to give it a try soon.

Super warm cowl made from gifted yarn.

Super warm cowl made from gifted yarn.

In addition to knitting, I made a Zinnia!

When Colette Patterns came out with this versatile skirt, I knew I wanted to give it a go.

photo (1)

The fabric cost about $6 a yard on the sale table at Joann’s. It’s synthetic, but I like the colors and the print.

skirt fabric

skirt fabric

I used a non-static liner also purchased at Joann’s. It’s stiff and doesn’t drape well. I was worried about bulking up the hem, so I just did a zig-zag cut on the lining. I’m now in the market for nicer lining fabrics. If you have a good source, please share!

Lining and lazy hem

Lining and lazy hem

I am pretty proud of the button and my invisible zip isn’t too bad, either.

IMG_1640

Can’t even see the zip!

Here’s the finished product. I wore it with a chambray shirt and what my fiance refers to as my “cowgirl boots.” It is a bit western worn like this. For its next wearing, I think I’ll go with a simple brown or white top and brown heels.

photo 1

Selfie in my kitchen.

photo 5

Here it is from head-to-toe!

This was my first Colette pattern and I will be making others. The directions were very clear and the pattern only required one minor adjustment. I cut a 6 and ended up having to recut the waistband. I think I spaced out my pleats a bit too far apart which caused the waistband to be too short. Luckily, I had extra fabric, so cutting a bigger waistband was no big deal. I sprayed the fabric down with Sullivan’s Fabric Stabilizer which helped with the slippery factor. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the result.

Now, the time is ticking for holiday sewing. I have two projects on the docket and limited time. Anyone else engaging in holiday sewing?

Sewing amid chaos

Things have been quiet around the blog because life is happening in a big way.

First, this occurred..

IMG_1331

Then I moved here…

4310580656_ec78d546c1_o

The move was immediately followed by a brief hospital stay for my fiance. (Luckily, he’s fine now.)

Then, my soon-to-be sister-in-law broke her ankle. I stayed with her for a few days post-surgery.

Now, that everyone is on the mend, I am trying to plan our wedding. It is not going well…

bride_gone_wilde_slide (1)

If eloping wouldn’t cause massive family drama, I would do it in a heart-beat.

In the midst of all of this, I am supposed to be writing my dissertation. Ummm… yeah

tumblr_m6bqvrmrSd1rpfgj2o1_500

Sewing and knitting  are the only activities keeping me sort-of sane.

Right before I moved, I finished my first vintage pattern!

IMG_1233

I went with view 3 and omitted the pocket.

IMG_1459

IMG_1460

The pattern was straight-forward and I loved the little check boxes on the direction sheets. Although the pattern claimed to be a teaching pattern, it assumes the sewer has some basic garment construction skills. I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who’s never sewn before.

I used a cotton poplin I purchased recently on sale at Joann’s. I like the crispness of the cotton and the summery pattern, but I wish I had tried to match up the diamonds at the zipper. If I make it again, I’ll attempt back pattern matching and I’ll probably lower the neck by a few inches. It’s a little bit too high to be really comfortable. I also took in the side seams by an inch or so and raised the bust darts (I usually have to make this alteration). Maybe a size smaller would have been a better place to start?

I’ve worn it a few times, but it’s getting too cold in DC for such a summery top. It was in the 50s today! Gah! How is this Florida girl going to survive?!

While my fiance was in the recouping in the hospital, I knit a sweater. I’ll post photos later when it’s light out. I’m not thrilled with the result, but it’ll work. Obviously, I’m going to need it and many more. I need to get the knitting needles clicking!

My current sewing project is on hold while I wait for the knit interfacing I ordered to arrive. I’m working on my first fall wardrobe item, a knit sweater:

IMG_0891

It’s another Big 4 pattern that I picked up for a $1 at Joann’s. I’m working on view E. My version will not have contrast trim or pockets. I want something simple and need some more cardigans for fall weather. Seasonal sewing… a new concept for me!

Ooo la la!

I love pretty lingerie. Maybe it’s my French heritage or my penchant for the girly- a bit of satin and some lace makes me a very happy lady.

So, when Vogue 8888 came out a few months ago, I had to give it a try. Although it’s labeled “easy,” I was a bit worried. It all looked complicated and impossibly delicate.
IMG_0645

I attempted view D. I recently picked up a ton of fabulous fabric on sale at JoAnn’s- 50% off red tag fabrics! One of my purchases was three yards of a printed satiny blend for $2.75 a yard. I decided to forgo lace and just let the print do the talking.

IMG_1245Eat your heart out, Victoria’s Secret! What would have cost me about $50 was less than $6 worth of fabric.

I will not be modeling this one because it is cut low. It looks great (I think my boyfriend will love it), but I don’t want my cleavage splashed all over the internet…

The “easy” label was legitimate. I was most worried about the fit of the bodice, but the pattern fit perfectly without any adjustments (I’m a solid B-cup).

IMG_1246

I used French seams throughout, so the inside is pretty, too. Overall, it was a fast make. I started it Sunday after lunch and was able to wear it to bed Sunday night. How great is that?!

I will be making up this pattern again. I’m debating sewing up a version in jersey for a different look. I also think I’ll give the other views a try. Maybe I’ll even incorporate some lace next time.

Au revoir! Bonne nuit!

Baja Hoodies & a summer chevron tote

Wahoo! This is my first blog post as a doctoral candidate. Things have been quiet around this blog because I’ve been studying (and seriously stressing) over my doctoral qualifying exams and exam defense. After several panic attacks, nonsensical threats to my boyfriend that I was going to quit the program, and HOURS of studying, I passed my exams and defense. Now I just have to write my dissertation…

Although I haven’t been blogging, I have found some time to sew. Below are my latest projects: two Baja Hoodies and a summer chevron tote.

Baja Hoodies

IMG_1239

My niece and nephew turned three this month and I wanted to make them something cute for summer. After a bit of searching, I discovered many adorable little girl patterns both from indi designers and the big 4. Unfortunately, little boy patterns are not so plentiful and not nearly as cute. I was getting really discouraged when I discovered Blank Slate Patterns. Yay! Cuteness for little boys!

I purchased the Baja Hoodie pattern. A unisex pattern with simple construction, I envision the kiddos heading home from swim class in their coordinating hoodies.

The pattern is a downloadable pdf and has really clear instructions with photos to help you out along the way. This was my first time using bias tape and the photo instructions demystified the process. The pattern is considered intermediate due to the use of terrycloth. I agree this is not a good beginner project (unless you substitute cotton for terrycloth). Terrycloth fuzz covered my apartment (and my cat!) while I worked on these. In addition to making a mess, terrycloth is bulky and was tricky to work with. The fabric was too thick for me to use my walking foot, so sewing layers together was more difficult than it might otherwise have been. Many of my stitches across the bias tape aren’t as straight as I would like due to terrycloth misbehavior. Luckily, I doubt the kiddos will mind.

Front view- For the little man.

Front view- For the little man.

Back view

Back view

Front view- For the little lady.

Front view- For the little lady.

My favorite part of these hoodies is the label. I found these in a local knitting shop and couldn’t help myself. How cute are they?!

IMG_1226

IMG_1240

Overall, I’m pleased with how they turned out. I don’t, however, think I will use terrycloth again for quite a while.

Chevron Tote bag

I’ve been using my monogram tote bag a lot this summer. It’s the perfect size for all my stuff (laptop, power cord, wallet, book or two, etc.). It has taken the wear in stride and still looks great, so I’ve been toying with making a second one in a more summery fabric.

IMG_0636

The pattern for the bag- New Look 0126

I found a great bold black and white chevron canvas print at Michael’s last week and couldn’t resist making the purchase. It appears Michael’s is stocking a very limited selection of sewing notions now. My local store has a wall of quilting rulers and rotary cutters in addition to a very limited selection of precut fabric. The canvas I purchased is sold in bundles precut to a yard for about $10. This isn’t a bad price for canvas and, with a 40% off coupon, was a pretty good deal. I then picked up some red ribbon, webbing, and lining fabric at JoAnn’s.

IMG_1247

The finished bag

Lining- red polka dot quilting cotton

Lining- red polka dot quilting cotton

This was a quick and satisfying make. I can’t wait to load it up with my stuff and head off to my “office” (aka. Starbucks around the corner) to work on my dissertation proposal!

The ‘existential crisis tunic’

Wait… where did May go?!

I started off this month in San Francisco at a conference. I wore me-made on the plane home and did a solid job of wearing me-made items twice a week (I didn’t do a good job of taking photos). I even managed to make four new garments this month: gingham bow blouse, a yoga-style maxi skirt (unblogged), a red sleeveless knit top (unblogged), and the existential crisis tunic (below). I also finished knitting a scarf for my boyfriend

Scarf for my guy

Scarf for my guy (Man Scarf on Ravelry)

and made three little crochet baskets.

crochet basket (Pattern on Raverly)

crochet basket (Pattern on Raverly)

I haven’t blogged much because I have been prepping for my qualifying exams (the super terrifying mutli-day test I have to survive before I can start on my dissertation). By the time I finish studying each day, I need a crafty break, but I have no desire to read or write. As a result, I’ve been ignoring the blog a bit this month. My test is the last week in June and I can’t wait for life to get back to normal. My brain is starting to hurt…

Sewing, knitting, and crocheting have provided me with a respite from all the studying. My latest sewing project was made from this fabric:

wild tribal challis from JoAnn's

wild tribal challis from JoAnn’s

Nope, there is nothing wrong with your computer… it is bright and wild! This is not normally something that would catch my eye. (I’m blaming this purchase on exam stress.) It has a lovely drape, was 50% off the sale price, and is unapologetically loud.

I decided immediately it wanted to be a tunic, so I attempted Simplicity 4149 again.

IMG_0792

I made this pattern once before in a gorgeous shimmery linen, but the garment was a flop.

IMG_0788

The linen was too stiff. It was uncomfortable and made me look like a box. Making matters worse, the first time I washed it, the seam at the ‘V’ in the front of the tunic started to pull away and fray.

IMG_0789

You can’t really tell in this photo, but the bottom of the ‘V’ is fraying on the left side. Gah!

Disaster.

So, this was a second attempt. I worked on it for a little bit each night for about a week. It’s an easy make, but this was my first time working with challis. It’s slippery and has a bit of stretch. I’m sure with some practice this will be no big deal; however, my first few seams were wavy. My seam ripper got a workout. I ended up with this:

IMG_1042

topstitching around the neck in turquoise. It looks wavy here, but really is straight.

Topstitching around the neck in turquoise thread. It looks wavy here, but really is straight.

It’s super comfy. I was bummed that the ‘V’ is a bit too low to wear out in public without a cami underneath, but otherwise, I like the fit- flowing and comfortable. I think it will make a nice cover-up poolside as well as a top for running around on weekends.

I’m particularly proud of the detail I managed at the ‘V.’ I just wish it didn’t get lost in the print:

IMG_1045

I’m calling this my ‘existential crisis tunic’ because I finished it on a day when I was not coping well with exam stress. After throwing myself a pity-party, I decided to channel my freaking out into something productive and finished this tunic.

I’m not sure what I’ll work on next. My sewing production has ground to a halt since finishing this tunic- too much studying to do. After the exams, I have a few days of nothing but sewing and mindless television watching planned. I’m soooo looking forward to it!

Gingham wrap blouse

IMG_0939

I love a bow.

My boyfriend has hidden things with bows from me when we go shopping. He thinks I am irrationally drawn to items adorned with bows. He’s right! I don’t think my style is super girly, but I love a bow.

IMG_0935

The above is McCalls M6564.

IMG_0644

 

I used a cotton blend I picked up on sale at my local Hancock Fabric store. The word “easy” is missing from the pattern envelope, so initially I was worried the make might be too complicated for my current skill level. It wasn’t. The directions were clear and uncomplicated. The pattern fit perfectly as written, so no fitting adjustments were made. I did add a snap to the front neckline. While trying it on during sewing, I noticed it gaped a bit across the chest when I moved around. I also gathered the tops of the sleeves to create a little poof. This wasn’t my original plan. I couldn’t get the sleeves to ease in without puckers, so I decided to gather the tops in order to make them fit. Luckily, I like the result.

During the make, I made two rookie sewing blunders. First, I sewed a dart inside out.

IMG_0825

Then, I basted in a sleeve inside out.

IMG_0826

Oh well… I’m still learning and I like the end result.

IMG_0933

IMG_0936