Monday, September 9, 2013

One Pattern, Two Garments

I'm pretty far behind on posting about newly made garments, but have pretty legit reasons for this. From a broken dryer a few weeks ago, to a malfunctioning hot water heater, then a really leaky toilet turned whole bathroom renovation, the past couple of weeks have been a whirl wind of distractions that are necessary to take care of.

Back in February, I made a rayon challis dress using Simplicity 1810. I really loved how it turned out and knew this pattern was a keeper. I made it from a floral burst print rayon challis from Fabric Mart. (Bought about 2 years ago.) 

The pattern was easy and because it is a loose design, the belt helps create a waist on an otherwise shapeless dress. The belt is actually attached to the dress. When you sew the darts into the back of the dress, you insert the belt edges into the dart. Then when you sew the dart, the belt stays attached. I always lose belts that coordinate with specific garments, so this is perfect for me!

The other thing I liked about this pattern was the fact that the facing ends up being stitched down without hand-stitching. The pattern calls for you to put bias tape on the armholes. I created my own bias tape from the fabric. The facing is wide enough to catch in the armhole and actually helps make the shoulder strap sturdier. 

This dress is so comfortable. It is light and airy and perfect for really hot days. Wear it on a cool day with a cardigan. I loved the pattern so much I decided to make a blouse! The pattern has both dress and tunic/blouse length.

This tunic took just an afternoon to cut and sew from start to finish. I would definitely recommend it to a beginner and as seasoned seamstress. The blue ikat print rayon challis is from, bought about a year ago.

Now it's time to start thinking about my fall wardrobe. What is everyone else making for fall? Stay tuned for my fall wardrobe wish list and a recent fabric purchase!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Show and Tell: My Recent Fabric Purchases

A few weeks ago I was in NYC for a fabric show. After a morning of meeting with a customer and eating a late lunch with a friend on a warm rainy day in July, I decided it was time to go fabric shopping! And where do people go in NYC to shop for fabric? Mood Fabrics of course! My first Mood (in-store) purchase was made this past February. I wrote about it here: My Trip To Mood. You would think I would not shop at other fabric stores, especially since I see so many different gorgeous fabrics everyday. But when I'm shopping for fabric at other stores, I only pick out items that I cannot find myself very easily. They have to be truly unique pieces that I know I will not find myself in the near future. 

For example, I had a silk knit print remnant I picked up at Fabric Mart about two years ago. (Sorry ladies, this one did not make it into the mystery bundles!) This silk knit was from the design room of Cynthia Steffe. There was only 1 yard left so I knew whatever I decided to do with it I would need more fabric. I wanted to finish up my study of knits (Skirt Obsession and Quick Study of Fabric Types Using the Same Pattern.) So I decided that I needed to look for a solid that would coordinate with this purple and magenta swirl print. I really wanted to find a deep purple silk knit. I dug through the entire silk knit section at Mood and did not find one :O( But I did find this bright pink/ fuchsia solid silk knit that matches one of the other colors perfectly. I also wanted the knit to be a little heavier because I am literally using this as the waistband. It was a perfect coordinate! I sewed up this skirt last weekend and will post pictures as soon as I get someone to take them!

My other two purchases were fun designer prints. Left: Anna Sui Cotton/rayon blend print. This fabric is so soft and has a challis-like weight. I would like to make a blouse from this, but I do not have a pattern in mind yet. Right: Oscar de la Renta Abstract Print. I LOVE the colors in this print. It is a woven silk/ wool suiting-type fabric. I bought just enough to make a skirt. I don't have a specific skirt pattern in mind, but am considering a pencil skirt. Before I cut into the gorgeous fabric, I'm definitely going to be making a muslin. I would hate to cut into this fabric and have it turn out badly. 

I can't help myself when I see gorgeous fabric! I wonder what I will buy next???

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fabric and Patterns for Sale

Last weekend I took some time to clear out some unwanted sewing patterns and fabric! I picked out some really awesome designer fabrics that I love, but just don't know what to do with. It's time to move them onto a good home! 

The fabric is listed on eBay. You can check out my listings here

There are fabrics from Ralph Lauren, Anna Sui, Vera Wang and many other beautiful fabrics!

Vera Wang Floral Print
Anna Sui Silk Print
Embroidered Eyelet Cotton
Swirl Print Ponte Knit

If you're interested in my sewing patterns, I have a variety of different patterns on my Etsy shop. I will be adding more in the coming days, so check back later also! I found that I was buying similar patterns with slightly different details (and in some cases, same pattern, different fabric shown on front cover!) So I went through and kept one of each style and got rid of the rest. All the patterns are uncut. I recycled any patterns that were already cut. 

So mosey on over to my Etsy shop and eBay section to see what's available! The fabric auctions end on Sunday, so start bidding! There are some awesome deals there right now. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Skirt Obsession and a Quick Study of Fabric Types Using the Same Pattern

Now that summer is just around the corner, I've been thinking about making casual skirts that I can wear to work. Shorts are usually a summer staple for me, but when I feel like looking a little nicer, yet casual, I go to skirts. I've been seeing knit skirts being worn around town and thought, "I can do that!" I finally found the perfect pattern: Simplicity 1616. This pattern includes skirts made from knits and wovens. I selected view B, but shortened it about 14 1/2" above the hem line. I used size 18, knowing that I might have to do some alterations depending on how the yoke fits around my hips. My hips are the hardest part to work around sometimes!

The first skirt I made is from an ITY knit print. This fun retro floral print is from Fabric Mart's retail store, bought a couple years ago.

The second skirt is made from a rayon knit print from France - purchased at Fabric Mart. (It only made it through the wholesale division, sorry!) This rayon print was more on the lighter side, but not sheer. It has a crepe-finish, along with an NYC themed print. I've loved this fabric from the day I laid eyes on it, but had no idea what to do with it. I wasn't sure if I wanted to make an entire dress from it, but when I decided I was making this skirt, I thought it was perfect! (Plus I have about a yard left that I can make a shirt or tank!)

I intentionally selected two different fabric types because I wanted to see how each laid and fit. I love ITY knits just because they are comfortable, fashionable and easy to travel with. The ITY knit seems to have a little more weight to it as well as stability/ sturdiness that the rayon knit did not. Therefore, the ITY knit snugged my hips while still hugging and flaring a bit. The rayon knit was airy and lightweight with a decent amount of stretch (I think it was 4-way stretch, actually.) But when making the yoke, I ended up sewing it about 1/2" in on the side seams because the rayon knit stretched so much and was lighter than the ITY, therefore feeling like it may fall off after a whole day's use.

Now I want to make one for every day of the week! They are so comfortable! Just pair it with a basic shirt and your good to go for work, travel, or a weekend outing! So what are my plans for future skirts? I'm going to make one in a black or gray jersey knit so it can go with a variety of shirts in my closet. I would also like to try one out of a silk knit I have in my stash. I don't have quite enough to cut the yoke out of the same fabric though. So what I am going to do is find a coordinating fabric that can be used for the yoke. Does anyone know if you can wash silk knits? If so, should I do it before I cut out the pattern? Also, if I wash it first, should I select a solid silk knit for the yoke or can I select another fabric content?

Monday, May 27, 2013

What I've Been Up To...Dresses!

As I sit down to write this post, I think about how I've complained to myself that I haven't had a lot of time to sew. But when I think about how many projects I've worked on, it's not that bad! I've finished 2 dresses and 1 shirt in the past month/ month and a half. I've been busy working out in the yard and doing other things around the house, but I would have to say my progress is not too shabby! 

The first dress I made was Vogue 1225 by Tracy Reese. I've always loved Tracy Reese's dress designs and the fabric she uses, so having a pattern collection from her by Vogue is exciting. This dress is a mock wrap bodice with gathered front shoulders and elastic waist. The skirt section is also really flowy and makes you want to dance! The fabric is an awesome peacock feather print on rayon knit. (Bought at Fabric Mart, but not available anymore.) 

The dress was quite easy to make, but I'm not so sure about the gathering at the top of the shoulders. If I were to make this dress again, I would do it a little different, but not sure what I would do yet. I'm just afraid the gathers are going to fall out. The dress ended up being about 1-2 inches shorter than intended because I did not have enough fabric to make the dress. So I ended up shortening the skirt section and putting a smaller hem on it. 

Here you can see how full the skirt is. Great for dancing---if I did that...haha! The back has a slit opening with a tie closure-- a designer touch. This dress only took me a day from start to finish. It was a fun pattern, but I'm not sure if I will make it again. 

The next weekend, I decided I wanted to make retro-style dress. I was inspired when I saw someone post a picture of their submission to the Mad Men Dress Challenge. I've always loved retro designs, but was never sure if they would look right on my body. I was also worried that it would look REALLY homemade. I used Simplicity 3833. This pattern is actually a reprint of a pattern from the 60s. 

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout. It did not feel homemade and it fit pretty well! I had to do some tweaking at the bust/underarm area-- I had some gapping that just needed an extra dart to bring it in. I used a beautiful embroidered cotton from Jones New York (bought at Fabric Mart, not available anymore.) The dress looks good with and without a belt.  You can see in the picture above I added a belt. (I actually forgot to bring a belt along to work that day, so I found a piece of white fabric to give the illusion!)

Here is the dress without a belt---not too bad! The dress would look super cute with a bib necklace-- I guess my next task is to find the perfect one. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just thought I would share...Alternative to a Wreath!

It has been awhile since I posted, but for reason enough...I was traveling for much of March. Then most of April was spent outside working in the yard. I made this arrangement in early April to spruce up the back door. (I have to admit, I still had the Christmas wreath on the door!) 

I got everything to make this on sale at Michaels. I bought a bouquet of flowers which I cut up into individual stems to make my own flower arrangement. I found some pink peacock feathers to bring some height to the arrangement and finished it off with a glitter butterfly clipped onto one of the flowers. 

All of these are neatly arranged in a triangular metal basket that was also on sale at Michaels. Overall, the entire project cost about $20, which is less than many pre-made wreaths you can find in stores. Now I have a soft, yet cheerful door hanging that can be used all through fall!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ponte Knit Cropped Blazer - Simplicity 4698

When browsing the Tracy Reese website recently, I came across a knit blazer that I really liked. I sort of obsessed over it for a few days and was going to buy it until I saw that it was a final sale and I could not return it if it didn't fit. I was going to NYC for a few days and decided I would go to check out the blazer in person. I headed downtown to Tracy Reese's flagship store in the meatpacking district. When I got there I was pleasantly greeted by a woman that worked there and asked if I needed any help. I told her I was browsing, although I was looking for this blazer. It took me a little while to find it among all the other very tempting designs. (I have to admit I found myself looking more at the fabric and the construction first before actually looking to see if I liked the garment itself!)

I found the blazer in the sale section and was actually a little disappointed. It had raw edge finishing, which is hard to see in the photo online. I really liked how the blazer was reversible, but I thought it was reversible with a gray/navy combo. Well it was, but the navy fabric was like a polyester crepe de chine. Between the fabric choice and the raw edges, I felt like even the sale price was too expensive for the "quality." So I decided to make the blazer myself! I wanted to make it reversible, but wanted to try the blazer pattern out before doing anything too complicated.

I used Simplicity #4698, which is now out-of-print, but it is made for a woven fabric. I selected a 4-way stretch, solid black ponte knit from my stash (but of course I purchased it at Fabric Mart last year.) It was a really nice, sturdy ponte knit, so I figured it would be ok to substitute this for a woven fabric.

So here it is! This ponte knit blazer has two side pockets, princess seams and a single button closure. I made size 16 and didn't have to do much altering. The only major alteration I had to do was to bring in about 3/4" at the top of the princess seam. I added topstitching to the princess seams to make it have a more ready-to-wear look. 

This blazer has a half-lining, which I wasn't too crazy about at first, but when I saw another blazer at the Tracy Reese store, I decided it was acceptable. I selected a poly faille print to spice up the lining a little bit. 

I would recommend this pattern to anyone-- beginner to advanced. Next time I'd like to try a reversible blazer like the Tracy Reese blazer I fell in love with-- but I definitely will be using better construction techniques than the original blazer!

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Trip to Mood

Last week I was in NYC for a fabric show. I had a little bit of time before the show started to check out Mood Fabrics! I was in once, but was doing business at the time so I did not get a chance to really look around. Made famous by Project Runway, Mood Fabrics is found on the 3rd floor of 225 West 37th Street, between 7th & 8th Ave. It definitely met my expectations and although I did not go in looking for something specific, I found a few items I could not live without!

As you may know, I work for Fabric Mart, therefore I have access to LOTS of incredible fabrics. So when I'm fabric shopping somewhere else, I have to absolutely LOVE the fabric I see and be willing to spend real money for it. I first looked in the silk print section.

I found a beauitful silk crepe (almost like a 4-ply) from Peter Som or Derek Lam (I can't remember which one was written on the tag!) This fabric was $16 and I bought 2 yards for a total of $32.

This zig-zag print is from Tucker. This charmeuse print has a more matte backing that I think I'm going to use as the face. The charmeuse side does not have as much of a defined print, which you can see in the close-up picture. This piece was $16 and I bought 2 1/2 yards for a total of $40. 

After digging throught silk section I walked over to the knit section and found a really nice selection of silk knits. I snatched up this fun abstract geometric print. No designer attached to this one, but it is 60" wide which is great because I can get a tank or short-sleeve blouse out of it. The start of the cut had a lot of samples taken from it, so I ended up getting more like 1 1/3 yards, which will be plenty for sleeves or accents. I paid $25 ($25 per yard) for this piece.

Overall, I spent $97 on these fabrics, but feel like it was well worth it. These fabrics are definitely on the top of my list of things to make sooner rather than later. Any suggestions on what to make with them?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Simplicity 2447 - Plaid Buttondown Tunic

After making three buttondown shirts for my husband, I'm really in this "technical" sewing mode. I've been wanting to make Simplicity #2447, a buttondown tunic shirt, for a few years now. I even had the fabric picked out for that long---I just never got around to it. I bought the fabric at Fabric Mart back in 2009. We sold the entire roll to a wholesale customer, but I snatched up a few yards before it was measured for them! It is a tie-dye plaid linen crepe from Ralph Lauren, which I have pre-washed.


I feel like I'm finally figuring out what parts of the "mainstream" patterns fit me and what I need to alter. I cut out a 16 in this pattern. I had been cutting 18's in the past-- based off of my measurements, but ended up taking them in all the time. My hips are the tricky part, so I use a bit smaller seam allowance there, but I think I've FINALLY got this!

The pattern was really easy, especially after having the experience of three other buttondown shirts under my belt. The front yoke and back yoke are both set on the bias. I love the look, although the pattern does not call for it to be stabilized. The linen really distorts, so I should have stabilized it with a stiff, yet lightweight fabric.


I added top-stitching to the shoulder seams --the pattern did not call for it, but I love adding RTW details. I used buttons from my stash. I ended up picking vintage pearl buttons. Shined them up a bit and they look really great! They add a touch of shine to this outfit. 

I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone -- beginner or advanced. It's a perfect addition to my spring wardrobe. I can't wait to wear it with leggings and a belt!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

High Hampton Collection at Joann Fabrics

I'm not one to talk about other fabric stores, especially since I work at a well-known one in the fabric world. But I just have to express how much I LOVE the High Hampton Collection at Joann Fabrics. Yes, I am almost a weekly customer of Joann Fabrics, but I am usually only shop for notions, buttons, interfacings, patterns and the 50% off clearance fabrics section. (I look for knit fabrics to make infinity scarves.) But one day on my way out of the store, I saw this collection of fabric with a sophisticated and nautical look featuring fabrics in navys, emeralds, whites and reds. Definitely reminds me of many Lilly Pulitzer designs! I've selected a few Lilly garments to use as inspiration for these fabrics. 

This selection of fabric includes (left to right:)
Cotton Plaid Shirting, Green/navy knit, Abstract Print Rayon Knit (really like this one), a cotton with netting-like burnouts (see detail below - I really like this one!), and two nautical prints. 

Possible idea?

Here we have another plaid cotton shirting, another eyelet-look cotton, an awesome abstract diamond design on cotton sateen (I really like that one), a floral swiss dot cotton, green eyelet (LOVE) and a striped chiffon.

Obviously I was drawn to this outfit because it mimicks the colors in the cotton sateen. But the cotton sateen print could be a blazer (pretty wild one!) Or maybe even a dress or skirt. I don't have a good example for the green eyelet---I just love it! Any ideas??

This photo shows a cotton seersucker, floral cotton print, a navy blue sateen with white cording and a navy fabric (I don't quite remember if it was a knit or woven.) 

The fabric on this dress is awesome--they are buttons! But since that fabric is not available, the navy blue sateen with white cording could be a good alternative. Even the green floral cotton would be a cute substitute.

Last but not least, here is a collection with a striped knit, cotton with embroidered anchors, a cotton eyelet-look, and a white eyelet knit. 

The striped knit would make a fun shirt like the one shown above. If you wanted to go total nautical, make some shorts with the embroidered anchors cotton.

As of right now, the collection is 25% off. I'm definitely going to purchase 2-3 of these fabrics when they go on further discount. The bolts don't seem to be getting smaller. (I check everytime I go in!)

While I have some inspiration photos for these fabrics, does anyone have a pattern suggestion? All advice is welcome!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Buttondown Shirts for the Hubby

A few weeks ago I wrote about my hope to make some buttondown shirts for my husband. Well about two weeks, one semi-failed buttondown shirt and 5 yards of fabric later...I have two handsome buttondown shirts! I have a third shirt that is a size too large and needs work to make it right, but I learned a lot from it!

I've made buttondown shirts before, but it had been almost 10 years since I last tried. I was worried I wouldn't remember how to be precise! I used McCall #6044 and three different cotton shirtings I bought from Fabric Mart a few years ago. They have a nice selection of wrinkle-free shirtings.

The first shirt I cut out in size large because that's "what the pattern told me I should do." I knew that when I make clothing for myself I never make my ready-to-wear size, so I was expecting the same thing here. When my husband tried the shirt on, I ended up having to take it in a whole size! So I stopped working on that shirt and cut out the next shirt in size medium.

There were just a few changes I made to the pattern. I cut the collar out in size large, because he has a larger neck circumference. On ready-to-wear shirts, he has to leave the button at the top open (when wearing a tie.) I also had to make the sleeves 1 1/4" shorter and the hem 2" shorter.

The pattern was quite simple as far as details go. I added a yoke to the back of the shirt to help make it more like a ready-to-wear shirt. I also added top-stitching to the shoulder seams, and armhole. I had a hard time finding a thread that matched the background color, so I selected a deep navy thread. It matches some of the pinstriping in the fabric.

I used Pellon Shir-Tailor Fusible Interfacing for the collar and cuffs. I used a lighter weight interfacing on the button yoke because the Shir-Tailor made it too stiff. 

Overall, I really enjoyed making these shirts! They were fairly easy and I whipped up two in one weekend. I don't think we're going to be buying buttondown shirts anymore. I will be shopping for fabric instead!

(I will post a picture of the other two buttondown shirts once we have a better day to do picture taking!)