When teachers get together, we just can’t help ourselves…

… we teach! So, when my favorite partner-in-crime and fellow teacher, M, enjoyed a visit from her younger sister this summer, we decided to teach her how to sew. We pulled out the shears and threads and had a girly day of garment making.

M mugging for the camera

M mugging for the camera

Her sister, A,  is a high school student, but holds her own really well with us… err… mature ladies. While we sewed, we drank lots of tea and took a pizza break.

A has some sewing experience. As a drama student at her high school involved with the school’s theatrical productions, A was familiar with using sewing machines for costumes and props, but had never attempted to make something she could wear off of the stage. M took her to our local JoAnn’s before heading to my place to select a pattern and some fabric. Here’s what they purchased:

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A wanted to try view E and selected some sparkly knit fabric.

M helping with some seam ripping

M helping with some seam ripping

A took to the sewing machine like a fish to water. We were impressed- no need to practice sewing straight lines. She worked that knit like a pro!

A showing off her inherent sewing skills

A showing off her inherent sewing skills

While A learned how to read a pattern and construct a garment, I learned something new, too. The pattern calls for a bias tape finish at the hems. I usually just turn my knit hems with stay tape, but M showed us both how to do a knit hem with regular old bias tape. It wouldn’t work on a hem that needs to stretch, but for the top part of this shirt, it was perfect.

IMG_1254I think the process took a lot longer than A expected, but she stuck with it. Here’s the final result:

A in her finished top

A in her finished top

Fabulous, right?! The darker spots on the top are due to my apartment’s bad evening lighting. The differences in tone are very gradual in person.

I was reminded of why I love to sew when she put on the top and it fit perfectly. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the thrill of making (or in this case helping to make) something that is a perfect fit. A did a neat job. No one would know it’s not ready-to-wear. She seemed very pleased and started wearing it immediately (obviously).

M and I both agree the pattern isn’t really written for beginners. I’m not sure A could have pulled this off on her own. I’m certain I couldn’t have done it a year ago when I started sewing. It’s not terribly complicated, but there were a few bits of the construction we had to stop and wrap our heads around.  Overall, it is a great summer pattern and comes together pretty quickly if you have a little experience under your belt.

I would love to repeat this next summer, but now that I’ve moved, it won’t be happening unless I head back south for a vacation, too. Actually, that doesn’t sound like a bad excuse for a visit…

 

Gingham wrap blouse

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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.

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The above is McCalls M6564.

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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.

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Then, I basted in a sleeve inside out.

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

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San Francisco and the beginnings of Me-Made-May

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A street car in San Francisco.

Last night I returned from a conference in San Francisco. The weeks leading up to my trip were crazy busy with the end of the semester and a mad push to finish my conference paper. Despite the intensity of preparation, my presentation was pretty low-key and the trip was filled with equal parts work and pleasure. My boyfriend tagged along, which made the trip a bit of a vacation.

Trip Highlights~

The food was amazing.

Best crap EVER at Crustacean.

Best crap EVER at Crustacean.

Alcatraz exceded my expectations. The audio tour is narrated by former guards and prisoners. Hearing about the escape attempts was fascinating and the island is actually quite pretty and lush with vegetation.

On the boat to Alctraz.

On the boat to Alctraz.

The view as the boat lands on the island.

The view as the boat lands on the island.

Inside of a prison cell. Note the crochet!

Inside of a prison cell. Note the crochet!

Close up of crochet in Alcatraz cell. Apparently, this was a common hobby among inmates.

Close-up of crochet in Alcatraz cell. Apparently, this was a common hobby among inmates.

We spend a wonderful afternoon in Napa and are now wine club members at Artesa Winery. The wines were fantastic. We barely took photos- we were too preoccupied with wine!

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Touring the city and vineyards wore out my boyfriend, so while he napped in the hotel one afternoon, I went in search of Britex, the famous San Francisco fabric store. Luckily, it was only two blocks from our hotel. They don’t allow pictures in the store, so I’ll just share my spoils.

My goal at Britex was to purchase a boldly printed knit for a maxi dress, but I was disappointed. The knit selection was decent, but my favorite prints were really expensive. After my massive purchases at Jo-Ann’s this past month during which nothing cost me over $6 a yard, I balked at paying $45 a yard. I just couldn’t do it. I purchased only one piece of fabric, 2.5 yards of a dusty blue knit. It was reasonably priced and I love the color.

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My favorite part of the store was third floor with all the patterns. They stock things I can’t find in Jo-Ann’s. First, I picked up the Colette Patterns’ Beignet. I’ve been stalking this pattern for a while. I have some denim left over from my Miette that I think may work well. IMG_0857

Second, I found my pattern for The Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge! I’m not sure what fabric to use… maybe a double knit? Despite its origination in the 1920s, I think it will look fresh and modern over a T-shirt and leggings.

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Last, Britex stocks Burda! Both current and select past months were available. I picked up the January and April issues.
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IMG_0855I’m thrilled with my purchases and can’t wait to start sewing. I just wish I didn’t have a stack of student assignments to grade…

Me-Made-May, Day 1

On May 1, I wore my green knit jacket on the plane home. Unfortunately, I don’t have photographic evidence. You all will just have to believe me. It was perfect plane apparel, comfortable and warm!

My first vintage pattern!

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Look what arrived in my mailbox today!

I’m so excited! This is my first vintage pattern, Simplicity 4676. I discovered the pattern on Lauren’s blog. Her make is gorgeous and I want one, too!

After some hunting, I found it in Tina’s online store.

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I’m always nervous ordering online from someone for the first time, but this was a pleasant experience. Tina emailed right away that she had received my order and was shipping it out. The pattern arrived wrapped carefully in plastic and is as advertised.

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I think I’m going to attempt view A.

Joann’s has 50% off of sale fabrics and I now officially have what sewing bloggers refer to as a “stash.” I totally lost control and filled my cart with linens, knits, cotton blends, and satins. I picked up 11 different fabrics. The most expensive was $5 a yard (a tribal print challis) and the cheapest (a wine colored cotton knit) was only $2.50 a yard! My fabric store purchases will now consist of only notions until I get some of this sewn up. I’m so looking forward to making up the garments I’ve planned for all of this beautiful fabric!

I picked up this beauty today for $3 a yard and I think  it will make a perfect bow blouse. It’s a lightweight (but not see-through) cotton. I’m generally not a big fan of pastels or purple, but I really like this anyway.

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I’m a little worried about the pattern’s fit. According to the body measurements on the envelope, I am a perfect size 16. In the modern patterns I’ve made up thus far, I’ve been taking a size or two down because there is so much ease. They look sloppy in the “correct” size. I wonder if this will be a problem with vintage patterns. Should I have ordered a 14 instead?…

A University of Florida baby blanket & Tilly’s new pattern

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My latest baby blanket draped over my office chair. Try to ignore the stacks of paper on the floor!

After the Mathilde blouse, I pulled together another football baby blanket. I made this one for a good friend’s pregnant sister-in-law. The pattern and directions are from Jessica’s blog, Happy Together. The only changes I made were widening the white lace bits to a full inch. I felt they were a little too narrow on the first football blanket I created.

I have decided on a policy of strictly selfish sewing, but my friend asked very nicely and offered to cover my costs. When she told me the expectant parents are fellow Gators, I caved…

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I’m fairly certain it is my solemn duty as a University of Florida graduate to make sure future Gators are immediately surrounded by orange and blue. Duty fulfilled.

In other news…

Tilly has read my mind. I was staring into my closet this weekend after finishing my Mathilde blouse and pondering my next sewing project. I decided a simple and versatile skirt should be next. Maybe something in khaki or denim I can wear all summer and well into fall.

Have you seen Tilly’s new pattern? She read my mind! Her Miette pattern is exactly what I need. I’m not a big fan of pockets (I just don’t need extra fabric in that area…) but, I adore the pocketless version. Although, I haven’t purchased the pattern yet, my car inexplicably pulled into the fabric store parking lot on as I ran some errands this evening. I left the store with this:

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The color is really off in this photo. It’s a dark blue denim. It’s not quite as light as chambray, but it’s close. I didn’t want anything too stiff and I think this will drape nicely. Mysteriously, the exact amount required to make Miette landed in my shopping bag… Hmmm… it appears construction on my Miette will commence soon!

Cupcakes, polka dots, & more plum

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Two new projects were started this evening. One involves the fabric above and this green bit for accents.

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I cut and marked the pieces so it is ready to be put together this weekend.

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My love affair with plum continues… The second project I began today is slowly growing on my knitting needles. I haven’t knit in a week and I’ve missed it. I’m worried this may be an early sign of a knitting addiction. The new project will require I learn how to create a lacy edge. I’m excited!

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I made a dress!

I love green and navy prints. Here’s one from Banana Republic’s current Mad Men collection I think is fabulous:

Banana Republic's Mad Men dress

Banana Republic’s Mad Men dress

When shopping I tend to seek  out navy and green prints, so as I was picking fabric to make my own dress, a green and navy print was the obvious choice. I picked up  this geometric cotton sateen at Joann’s a few weeks ago. It’s part of their Hampton Collection and has been on sale, 30% off, for a while now. I think it cost me about $10 a yard.

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I used New Look 0126 and made a muslin.

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…And then made and remade the muslin. Several versions later, I decided I needed one size up top and  a different one on the bottom.I ended up cutting a 10 on top and a 12 on the bottom. I was a bit freaked out by having to merge two different sizes but it wasn’t a big deal as I just blended them at the waist.

Here’s the final result without a belt:

IMG_0665I think I’m a bit too curvy for a sheath without waist darts. It’s comfortable but looks a little sloppy.  I like it much better with a belt:

IMG_0666Since it’s chilly here today, I styled it with a sweater for my school visits.

IMG_0669The hardest part of putting this all together was the back zipper. It came out okay, but there are a few minor imperfections. I’m probably the only one who will ever notice, but…

Also, the back neckline gapes a wee bit. It’s fine with the sweater over it and I’m hoping it’s due to the interfacing needing to soften up a bit in the wash. I bought what the pattern recommended, but it seems overly stiff.

Hands down, my favorite part of the dress is the invisible hem. I did a slip stitch by hand and it really is invisible!

See? No threads!

See? No threads!

Overall, I’m pleased with how my first dress turned out. I wore it to dinner with friends this evening and they asked where I bought my dress. Their reactions were pretty humorous when I told them I’d made it!

This weekend, I was at Joann’s (if I’m not careful, they are going to start charging me rent) and I took advantage of their 5 for $5 Butterick patterns promotion.

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Hmmm… which should I make next?