Friday, June 16, 2017

Pattern Review - Patchwork Please! Piece Of Cake Shopping Bag

I just finished a new insulated reusable shopping tote.  The pattern is from Patchwork Please!, and I used canvas and quilting cottons from the Paperie collection.  The webbing and drawstring was sourced from Purl Soho.  I quilted a layer of Insulbright and cotton batting to the lining, and added 1 1/2 inches to the height dimension of the canvas layer.  I also added an extra half inch to the width of the cover pieces so I could make a narrow hem as opposed to pinking the seams as instructed.
I thought the pattern went together easily, and it's a huge tote! I probably won't need another one this size.  I'm looking forward to seeing how well this keeps food cold during the hot Dallas summers.  I may eventually make a pocket insert to put a block of blue ice in and place on top of the food before closing the cover.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Guess Denim Skirt Copy

I made a "rub off" copy of a denim skirt I wear all the time.  I used a version of the fly and fly facing from Vogue 8774 and drafted the waistband based off the curve of a leather belt I wear all the time. I made my own pocket pattern for this, I wanted deep pockets I could shove my hands in; the dinky pockets most RTW has are so pathetic! I made this in about 8 hours, give or take.

I'm mostly happy with it, the inside of the waistband doesn't look great but there is always next time for that.  I made it about an inch longer than the original, and copied a lot of the topstitching ideas for it from the original as well.  I did not do any distressing on this, I may try that for the next one.  It takes just under a yard of denim and a quarter yard for the pockets (I wear an altered Big4 14 for reference).

I may make some minor adjustments for the next time I make this.   I think the yoke can be a little narrower in the center back, and I'll reduce the seam allowance on the waistband to 1/4 inch.  I may also play with the back pocket placement a bit.

Wardrobe Planning for 2017

I took a staycation week off from work, and in that week got a crazy idea; what if I made all my clothes for next year, and only purchased things I could not/won't make for myself (shoes, underwear, socks, certain pieces of outerwear and athletic/technical gear)?

I've attempted to sew with wardrobe plans in mind before, with abysmal failure.  I spent some time thinking about why and now believe I have a plan for success now.  After looking at several different wardrobe planning ideas, I've decided to work with Jennifer Skinner's idea on 6 bottoms, 12 tops, a few pieces of outerwear that interchange, and a handful of small capsules focused on a specific function.  With this in mind, I've decided to start with a couple looks that suit my lifestyle (work from home most days with a couple days a month in the office) that would be easy to sew.  This gives me the flexibility to incorporate colors that may not necessarily go together (I've picked a pale pink and medium teal as my Spring accent colors, which do not go well with red, a color I generally look great in and love to wear on occasion), as well as not forcing myself to make things in a "Core 4" set that I may or may not end up wearing in the end.

The basic look I'll work with for Spring/Summer is either a mariniere top or a woven button-down top with leggings.  A third layer could be a cardigan-style top or a sleek leather jacket.  I've chosen New Look 6402 and Vogue 1440 as the patterns I would work with.  I can use the jacket from V1440 or Vogue 1517 for dressier looks, or McCall's 7055 for something simpler.

I'll plan on setting aside a few hours each week to work on my wardrobe (at least 4 hours, per this Seamwork article).  I know I can make a knit top in around 4 hours, and if I make the same one multiple times I could get really fast at it!

Colors: Black, Grey, White neutrals with Pink and Teal accents
Patterns: NL6402, V1440, V1517, M7055

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pattern Review - Zakka Sewing Tape Measure Cozy

I've been meaning to make this for some time!  I bought a couple square Clover tape measures last year for the project, and have finally gotten around to making it happen.

I did not use the pattern provided in the project (photocopy and enlarge, ugh).  But fortunately the plastic part of the packaging on the tape measure served as a perfectly sized template to make a pattern.  I also did not add the circle charms and so made one continuous side panel for the cover.  I did make an applique for the "button" on the tape measure, which is not included in the instructions.

This was an easy enough project, definitely good practice for your ladder/invisible seam hand stitching!  It's also very easy to adapt the pattern and just use the idea for your own tape measure cozy if you can't source any of the square Clover ones (they are available on Amazon, btw).

One of these will be for one of my sewing kits, the other will be sent to my mom as one of her birthday gifts next month.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pattern Review - NanaCompany's Well-Traveled Sewing Book

Amy from NanaCompany blogged about this very nice sewing travel 'book' pattern she put together, based on her adorable needlebook pattern.  It comes in two PDFs, one for the book "cover", and one for the "pages".  There is enough blank space to serve as inspiration, to put your own pockets or bits of embellishment, and I added my own vinyl pocket and divided up the pocket on the first page.  I flipped the side the felt needle pages are attached on; I'm left-handed and this seemed more ergonomic for me to use.

Initially I wanted to scale the pattern up a bit, in order to accommodate my 7" embroidery hoop, but the more I thought about it I decided I would just stick to the pattern instructions.  Now that I've made it, it feels a little large and am thinking I may try to scale it down to a 3"x5" size sewing kit for dance performance emergencies.  I like the pattern very much as there is a lot of room to customize it for your own purposes.  I like the use of interfacing to make the pages stiffer, and I want to try making a needlebook with interfacing and see if I like how it turns out.

I got my zakka labels (from Fort Worth Fabric Studio) and name labels (from Heirloom Labels, did not realize their cream ribbon would come out so dark!) in time to add these in as embellishments as well.

Get your own pattern here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Grown-up Wrap Ballet Skirt

About a yard of polyester chiffon and some 5/8" ribbon will get you a lovely little wrap skirt!  It's about 14" in the back, tapered to 12" in the front, and made for a grown-up woman.

It was easy enough to draft, but I am considering digitizing the pattern and making it available on Etsy and Craftsy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Note For Future Me: Smooth Rolled Hems on Chiffon

Serger settings (Babylock Diana):
Stitch length - N
Differential - 1
Stitch width - N ~ 1.5 (closer to N)
Keep even tension in front and back of the needle plate.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pattern Review - Vogue 1160

Photo by Sarah Tomlinson
Spring Tango Dress!  I made this for the Spring Tango Festival in Austin this year.  I finished it just in time (hemmed it the morning I drove down to the festival) and wore it later that evening.  I made the slip for it but the hem had lengthened beyond the hem of the dress and I didn't wear it.  I'll need to fix it later.

Fabrics before pretreatment and cutting

Fabrics: "Moonstone" silk charmeuse from Mood (slip), Liberty silk crepe de chine in "Shinjuku" charcoal colorway from

Slip Fitting/Alterations:
Added 1" total width to the front bodice
1" swayback, took it from the top of the skirt (pivot and slide technique), added an extra inch to the bottom of the hem because I wanted to retain the "high low" look
Moved in the strap attachment points on the back towards the center back 1"
Instead of cutting spaghetti straps, I bias bound the top edge with 1" wide self fabric (same width as the straps).  This turned out really nicely.

Completed silk slip

Dress Fitting/Alterations:
Added 1" total width to the front bodice
1/2" sloped shoulder alteration
I made several muslins to get the front band fitting right, I still don't think it's right but looks OK
1" swayback/short back length alteration (pivot and slide technique)
1" full bottom adjustment (made at the top of the skirt pieces)

Somehow when I cut the dress out I cut the back bodice out so that the back bodice and band match perfectly.  I don't know that I could do that again even if I tried.  I used a bit of fusible interfacing to stabilize the zipper, and I want to hand overcast the edge anyway.  I hand overcast the armscye seam.
Bodice in progress

Perfectly matched back seam.
My bicep is an inch larger than Vogue's standard model; the sleeves as drafted came out a tiny bit snug but they don't bother me.  I didn't find the sleeve instructions to be difficult to follow.

Nearing completion

I am really happy with how the bodice fits.  The neckline doesn't gape at all on me, and the bodice overall fits very well.  The next time I make this I may fiddle with the front band some more, but it doesn't ripple when I wear it and I have plenty of breathing room.  I used the recommended zipper size and don't have a problem getting it on or off.

Photo by Sarah Tomlinson
Photo by Sarah Tomlinson

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pattern Review - Vogue 1389 Top

I realized this week that I'm going on vacation next week, and when I was thinking about what I wanted to wear on the trip I realized I had crucial gap in my wardrobe.  Luckily, I had already made the top once before, I had fabric prepped, and I had some spare hours to sew this top up.

From start to finish, this took me about 4 hours. If I had not spent 1 one those hours fighting with the coverstitch function on my serger, this would have taken me 3.  If I was not being super careful and basting most of the seams, I probably could have done this in 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

The only alteration I made was to make the sleeves 2 inches longer, this made the sleeves a great 3/4 length for me. Unaltered the sleeves are a bit longer than elbow length and just feel odd.  I probably need to figure out a swayback alteration on this top but it can wait for the next time I make it.

I would be interested in tips on working with my coverstitch. I think the secret is I need coverstitch-specific needles, and I am having a tough time finding those that use the ELx705 system.

I still need more practice in balancing my serger seams, but I am happy with how this top turned out. It's really comfortable and I'm looking forward to this being a staple in my wardrobe.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Capsule Makeup Kit, Revisited

I still love the idea of a capsule makeup kit; something that you can just throw a few tools in and leave on a romantic trip in a moment's notice.

Turns out, a capsule makeup kit is exactly what one needs to use up the makeup products she buys, (hopefully) preventing waste!

I found a "makeup bag theory" on putting together one look (a signature look?), and just wearing that look until all the makeup is gone, or replacing products as things get used up.

Lil Lady's Life - How I Finish Makeup
Lil Lady's Life - How I Finish Makeup: The Replacements

This is what is in my updated makeup bag; I have other makeup in my collection but it only comes out for very special occasions.  If I want to wear any makeup at all for "every day" it comes out of this bag.  Honestly, I usually just wear sunscreen unless I am going to my job's corporate headquarters for the day (I would like to cultivate the habit to wear makeup more regularly though), but this makes it really easy to grab something that just works, saving time and energy in the mornings.  I can get this entire routine on in about 15 minutes, and just the other night was able to get foundation, eye makeup, blush and lipstick on for a last-minute date in 5 minutes.

Makeup Bag: I'm still using a LeSportSac Travel Cosmetic bag, it's the perfect size for everything you might carry.  For travel I have enough room to add a sunscreen, a contact case with eyecream and face lotion, and a Japonesque lipstick palette (no longer available on Amazon).  I was able to move all my eyeshadows and most of my blushes to an Unii Palette; this slips into the travel cosmetic bag without a problem.  For tools at home I use my regular brushes; I'm pretty happy with the set that I've put together over the years but probably need to curate the collection a bit.  For travel I use a very nice travel set my mother-in-law gifted me last Christmas.

Foundation: I picked up a travel size of Dr. Jart Black Label Detox BB Cream, if I don't like it I'll go back to using Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum, which feels a lot like Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua to me.

Concealers: For under my eyes, I've been using Bobbi Brown's Light Peach Corrector topped with a touch of Givenchy's Mister Light in Mister Toast.  For blemishes I've been using Bobbi Brown's Foundation Stick in Warm Ivory.

Powder: I keep a Chanel Les Beiges, but this is very luminous and for the office I might swap out for one of my loose powders (I have a Laura Mercier one and a pale yellow Bobbi Brown one) that I need to work through.

Blush: Using Chanel's Joues Contraste in Rose Petale.

Eyes: I don't do this every day, but when I do up my eyes I use any combination of these three products -  Benefit's Creaseless Cream Shadow in RSVP, Chanel's Stylo Yeux Waterproof in Cassis, and black mascara.  This gives a really professional look and a similar eye was featured in Lisa Eldridge's Fresh and Polished Look for Office/Work.  I also keep an Anastasia Eyebrow Pencil in the bag, mostly to work through it.  It's a good product but super expensive for what you get - not a good value in my opinion.

Lips: I'm using up one of my (three!!) rose colored lipliners (Bobbi Brown's in Rose) and top it with Chanel Rouge Coco in Orchidee (discontinued).  I'm trying to get to the end of both of these products.  I carry a lipgloss in my purse for touchups.

For night or a special occasion I will add a touch of Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Grey Pearl and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl on my cheekbones.