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.

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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.

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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…

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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:

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Back view:

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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.

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.

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

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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!

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!

Monogram tote

 

This weekend, I wanted a quick project. I was in the mood for something fast and satisfying, so I whipped up a tote bag.

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I used New Look 0126. I made the dress a while back and decided to give the bag a go.

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It was crazy easy and I really like the result. The body of the bag is a faux blue suede I picked up on sale at Joann’s and the lining (and letter “B”) is made from quilting cotton. Luckily, I found strap material and ribbon for the top edge of the bag that match almost perfectly.

Interior of the bag with items needed for my workday

Interior of the bag with items needed for my workday. My laptop fits perfectly!

This project took about 2 hours on Sunday afternoon. There are a few things I will do differently when I made the bag again. First, I think I’ll shorten the straps by 3-4 inches. Second, I’ll use my walking foot to attach the lining to the exterior of the bag. There is one spot on the inside of the bag with a little pucker because the cotton moved on me while I was sewing. Third, I’ll use a smaller appliqué letter and a smaller zig-zag stitch when I apply it to the bag. The letter “B” is from Microsoft Word, but I think it’s a bit too big. Sewing around the letter got hairy at the round parts. It’s not noticeable  but I think a smaller stitch might be easier to maneuver.

My furry sewing buddy really wanted to climb into the bag while photos were being taken.

My furry sewing buddy gave me a photographic challenge. She really wanted to climb into the bag while I was taking pictures.

A second version of this bag is in the works. With Mother’s Day drawing near, I decided to try something different and make Mom’s gift. Her tote bag should be done soon!

 

 

Two challenges & a forgotten black knit top

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This morning, I took the Me-Made-May pledge! Eek!

I vow to wear at least two me-made items per week during all of May 2013. I’m a bit worried. Just a few months ago, I had never threaded a sewing machine and here I am attempting to wear things I made at regular intervals. Yikes!

Concerned that maybe I can’t pull this off, I took inventory of what I’ve created thus far and realized one of my me-made items had neither been worn nor posted on the blog. When I made it a few months ago, I was on the fence regarding whether or not it suited me.  I suspect the hideous yellow floral version on the pattern envelope may not have helped with my overall impression of the garment.

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I folded it up, placed it in a drawer, and forgot about it. When I inspected it this morning, I have no idea what my hang-ups were about this top. It fits well and my workmanship is good. I threw it on with a pencil skirt and sweater and headed off to my teaching duties at the university. Now, lounging around on my sofa in the shirt and a pair of yoga pants, I have decided to declare it a sewing success. It was super comfortable to wear today and I think the draped neck is a good look for me.

After months of neglect, here is McCalls 6563:

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Please ignore my blank expression. Obviously, a career in modeling is not in my future…

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With sweater. It’s warm here today, but the university has a love affair with airconditioning.

In addition to resurrecting my black knit top and signing on for Me-Made-May, I have decided to attempt my first sewing challenge:

TheGreatGatsbySewingChallenge

I like 1920s fashion. It always strikes me as a bit ahead of it’s time and appeals to my feminist sensibilities. Tiny waists or unnaturally pointy breasts weren’t required. Short, almost masculine hair was incredibly fashionable. I have yet to see a pair of crazy high heels in photos from the 1920s. While I have no desire to go back in time (I am a thoroughly modern girl), I do appreciate first wave feminists, flapper fashion, and bobbed hair.

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I also LOVE F. Scott Fitzgerald. This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby are two of my favorite books. Friends and I have already planned a girls’ night for the Gatsby movie. Obviously, I’m up for this challenge. I think the best part may be researching my garment. I’m hoping to come up with something paying homage to the 1920s, but modern enough for wear today. A Pinterest board may be involved….

Now, I just need to learn how to cook…

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A very girly apron happened this weekend.

I used this pattern, Simplicity 1934:

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Simplicity patterns were on sale at Joann’s for $1.99 last week, so I decided to give this one a go. I created version C. I thought the ruffles were adorable. I didn’t really need an apron, but I decided it would make a fun weekend project. I also figured it was a low risk garment on which I could practice gathering fabric and sewing ruffles. It was the first time I had done either.

The ruffles on the pockets turned out pretty well.

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The waist band gathering was also pretty easy, but the neck ruffle was a bit tricker than I’d anticipated. My sewing is a bit wobbly. You can’t really tell from the apron front.

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Okay- you can tell a little, but would you have noticed if I hadn’t said anything?

The back is a hot mess:

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It’s all over the place…

If you don’t look too close, I think the finished project is cute.

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I had enough fabric left over to create a second, simpler apron for a friend who just bought a house. It’s a little kitch for her new kitchen.  I kept this one really simple and I think the end result is very professional.

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For this one I borrowed a friend’s pattern, Simplicity 2011. The entire apron is one huge pocket and the exposed cupcake fabric are holes to reach your hands in. I would have loved to do the waistband in the pink fabric as well, but I ran out. She’s not as comfortable in loud prints and bright colors as I am, so this may have  all worked out for the best.

My sewing machine was humming with apron making this weekend. Now, I just need to learn how to cook!

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?