June 9, 2013

Cake Riffs- Cabarita!

Hooray! My long-awaited Cake Patterns Hummingbird and Cake RiFFs Cabarita arrived on Friday, and I couldn't wait to tear right into them both! I only managed to squeak out a Cabarita on Saturday, but I'm looking forward to the 30 Minutes a Day Sewalong that is coming up for Hummingbird, and I'm trying to figure out what view to make first.

Meanwhile, check out this little cutie:

Cabarita in coral stripes

I knew I wanted to use a stripe to play with the fun directional cutting that Steph features in Cabarita, and I had this coral tissue knit jersey that I thought might be okay. I was worried it was a little lightweight (and it probably is) but I do like the finished product enough to wear it despite a couple of flaws.

Cabarita top

Here it is a little closer. This top was pretty quick and easy to whip up, and I constructed the whole thing on my serger, except for a bit of topstitching and the twin-needle hem. It looks pretty good from the front, but things get a little bit problematic from behind:

Cabarita top back view

This is not a great look, I know. I cut a size 35 front and back, and while I'm happy with the amount of ease in the front, I think it's just too big in the back. Probably cutting a 30 back, especially in this light drapey knit, would have been a wiser choice.

Strangely, I think it looks a little better backwards from the back:

Backwards Cabarita- back view

Steph showed the versatility of the pattern by wearing one of her Cabaritas backwards, so I had to try it too. And here it is backwards from the front:

Backwards Cabarita- front view

There's not a whole lot to say about the construction- it's a pretty straightforward make. I wasn't sure I was going to like the collar, but I knew I wanted to make it up with the collar the first time around, especially with the striped fabric, and I'm glad I gave it a shot! I really like it on the finished top.

Cabarita for spring

I did have to search through my recycling bin twice looking for the back neck binding piece, but thankfully I had the thought to check the Cake Patterns site before too long and found that the patterns were accidentally printed without that piece. Steph has the PDF pattern piece ready to go right on SewingCake.com though, so within minutes I was ready to go. And really- it's just a rectangle, I absolutely could have managed without, but it was more an issue of me thinking that I had lost my mind when I couldn't find the piece anywhere in my house!

I'm thinking for version two it might be cute in a more stable navy or red knit with a white collar- what do you think? Too sailor costumey? Did your Hummingbird preorder arrive? Will you be sewing along June 17-27? I'm in the Violetear House- sign up for the Flickr group and join the fun!

June 3, 2013

Simplicity 2177- Ships Ahoy!

Here I am, as promised, to share some details of one of the dresses that you saw during MMM'13 week two: Simplicity 2177, the Ships Ahoy! dress.

 May 8 

I found this border print a couple of years ago during a forage through the clearance bins at JoAnn. I find the best stuff on clearance there, and I only shop during 50% off red tags time, so it's always a steal! I hoarded it away until I could decide on the perfect border-print-friendly pattern to use, and finally landed on Simplicity 2177. As per usual, the pattern envelope is meh, but there are a couple of nice renditions of this dress on Pattern Review, so I decided to go for it.

Ships Ahoy Bodice

I draped the fabric onto my dress form to decide how to go about placing the pattern on the bodice area, and decided to rotate the weird bust dart out to the side in order to preserve the continuity of my circle pattern. The pattern would have the bust darts coming out from the center triangle inset, but I decided that would have done strange things to the design there. 

S2177 Bust Dart

A few other sewists have commented on the pointiness of the darts placed as the pattern was drafted, and I definitely also experienced that in the muslin stage, so I was more than happy to make that alteration to my finished dress.

I did make some effort to match the pattern in strategic locations, but I wasn't always 100% successful. I'm pleased with how things came out on the bodice, and the bottom hem is as good as it gets (easy to do with straight lines to follow), but I couldn't have it all- I decided it was more important to match the pink circle on the bottom hem in back than worry about the rest.

S2177 Back

This was an entirely stash-built dress, which I'm quite happy to report! I did buy a navy zipper, but the facings and the seam finishes were all things that I had around that just happened to match quite nicely. The green slinky poly stuff I used for facings and pocket bags is leftover from my Cambie lining, and it is something that has been in my stash for at least a decade to begin with. It's nearly gone now (finally)!

S2177 Interior S2177 Inset Panel Finish

I used a whole variety of seam finishes in this dress, depending on what and where. The seam allowances are mostly just serged, but I turned-and-stitched the allowances around the triangle inset. I hand catch-stitched the bias binding to the armholes because I don't really like the look of topstitching there and couldn't decide what color thread to use.

S2177 Sleeve & Neckline Interior

I had just enough of some thrifted vintage lace hem binding to finish the hem. I haven't seen this kind in modern stores- it's pre-folded and a bit narrower than the similar lace hem binding that you can find at the big-box sewing stores.

Ships Ahoy Hem

My final labor of love was hand-picking in the lapped zipper, which I did just because I couldn't bear the thought of top-stitching breaking up the print on the back. The bonus was that it made it a lot easier to ensure that all the circles lined up that way!


As far as fitting went, it was pretty straightforward. I made my usual big-4 size 12, and only had to make up a couple bodice muslins to pinpoint the dart placement. I ended up taking out a bit of width across the back to eliminate some gappage back there- which is a modification that I find that I always have to make but never have the foresight to do it at the pattern level. In this case I just folded a deeper seam allowance at the zipper from the neckline to waistline, and it's much better. It's still a little wide, but really the best I could do at that point in the construction process.

S2177 Back Zip Interior

Overall, I'm very happy with how this one came out! I almost wore it a second time during MMM, but I've been on the lookout for some navy flats and haven't come across the right pair yet. The pinkish/silver metallic ones I wore in the first photo above are a good enough match, but they rub my heel wrong if I have to walk too far in them so they're not my first choice.

Ships Ahoy Front View

I think this pattern would be fun in a stripe to really play up the bodice detail, and it actually even looks great in plain fabric too. I like that the skirt isn't too full, and the pockets are a hit, of course. I think this one will got lots of wear this summer outside the office, where I can wear it without a sweater and with a cute pair of sandals.

And apologies to those of you who might have an ounce of nautical knowledge, which I clearly do not possess. I called it Ships Ahoy! because the pattern inside the circles reminds me of those flags that they use on sailboats. And the color combo is totally Hamptons chic, don't you think? It just reads nautical to me. Also Ships Ahoy! is almost like Chips Ahoy! and mmmmmm... cookies!

June 1, 2013

MMM'13 weeks four & five wrap-up

We made it, friends! MMM'13 is done! No more morning photo sessions! Can I get a collective sigh of relief, or what? I started to write this week four wrap-up last week, but I got distracted and never finished. Sorry! I'll just squash the last two weeks into one so we can all move on with our lives, eh? Warning: it's long!

I kicked off week four with another recently completed dress that I haven't taken the time to properly write about here. It's New Look 6184 (view D) made up in some slightly stretchy cotton sateen in a funky ikat print. Despite David's reaction when he first saw the fabric: "But... it's so ugly!" I love this print and have been holding on to this fabric trying to find the right dress pattern to highlight it without chopping it up too much, or distorting the horizontal stripey-ness of the print. That's not as easy as I thought! I finally settled on this NL pattern, and I'm pretty pleased with the end result. More photos and a full write up to follow. At some point... Anyway, I paired it with an ancient Old Navy cardigan because it's sleeveless, added an old belt and new boots and I was good to go!

 May 20 May 21

Tuesday I had some fun with color. My Emergency Red Skirt had emerged from a life of laundry room exile and was freshly pressed, so I paired it with a sheer sweater by Nic & Zoe. I think this sweater can easily veer into a breezy running barefoot in the surf in wide-leg linen pants kind of style, which isn't really my bag, so I felt like I needed a little bit of something to ground the floaty sheer print. I added a heavily grommeted wide belt, black flats, and red lips. I think that skewed it a little more rock 'n roll, and I felt pretty awesome in this outfit!

I'm surprised that it took me until week four to reach for my Cambie. I've worn this dress a lot since I made it but have been stumped about how to deal with the exposure from the only kind-of-there cap sleeves in my office. (Just so you know, I don't work in a convent or anything, and it's actually probably fine to expose my shoulders in the office. I just feel weird doing so, hence my repeated yammerings about things being sleeveless and therefore problematic.) Anyway, I think I figured out the perfect solution by layering this lightweight sweater over it and adding a cheap thrifted butterfly belt for a bit of color. Add coordinating green and mustard bead necklace, mustard shoes, et voila! Fun, springy, and office appropriate. Also makes me want to make many more Cambies!

May 22 May 23 

By May 23rd I felt like I was running out of me-made garments, but I still had this corduroy skirt. It's (another) New Look 6030, but it's a different view than the red and denim ones. It's shorter, with the addition of the ruffle on the pocket, which makes it feel a little cutesy to me. I do like it, but definitely think it needs boots and the right top to keep it from reading too juvenile. This rtw pink top works okay, and I really want to steal some of the properties of it for a me-made garment some day. The front pintucked panel is some kind of lightweight silky woven material, but the sleeves and the back are a jersey knit in the exact same color. It makes for a super comfortable top!

Friday of week four was spent in jeans and a non-me-made top. It's funny, because I started out the month thinking that my problem would be that my clothes were too casual, but the only days I struggled to dress in me-mades were casual Fridays. In retrospect I guess it makes sense, because I have lots of skirts and dresses that can dress up or down depending on shoes and accessories, but a tee shirt and most of my other me-made tops are a little too casual, even for Friday in my office. They're fine for weekends, but I couldn't be bothered to photograph myself seven days a week. Four was pushing it enough already!

We had a nice long holiday weekend here for Memorial Day, so Monday was a day off work. I did wear my Briar, but styled it pretty much identically to how I photographed it when I made it, so I didn't bother to take another pic.

Which brings us to Tuesday, week five: the home stretch! I broke out my green Beignet for an encore appearance to see if I could figure out another way to wear it. I paired it with this black tie-neck Banana Republic sweater from long ago, a thrifted skinny black patent belt, and my fave Me Too giraffe print haircalf flats. And Junie thinks you should know that she stole the racecar from her brother and was quite proud of her acquisition.

May 28 May 29

This plaid dress (Vogue 1027) was lingering at the back of the closet because it didn't feel quite right for work. I first wore it on Easter Sunday with delicate gold sandals so I couldn't really envision it any other way. I'm not sure these boots were the right choice, but they did help make it feel more casual. I added a chunky-ish multi-strand necklace and considered topping it with a cardigan but decided not to. Interestingly, I didn't feel too exposed at work in this, despite the lowish neckline and the short cap sleeves. I'm a woman of many contradictions, of this I'm aware.

Two days to go, and I realized that I hadn't worn my Alma yet. Probably because I can really only wear it with denim and the combo makes me feel like a cowgirl. I decided to suck it up and just go with it, pairing it with Gap denim trousers, a white cardi and my green Miz Mooz flats just for the hell of it. This was pretty standard attire for me two months ago when I was a working-from-home mama. Now, I feel like it's terribly uninteresting and I wasn't that comfortable in this outfit at work. Weird, eh?

May 30 May 31

And for the final day of MMM'13, it was another casual Friday, much to my dismay. There were a handful of me-made garments left in my closet that I hadn't worn yet, but this was the only one that I felt like could translate to the office. It's a copycat knit top that is almost an exact replica of a black one I bought at Nordstrom some years back. Had it not been MMM, I would have chosen the black one to better match the shoes. Alternately, I suppose I could have gone with different shoes, but these are so comfy and I knew I had to hike from my office to another corporate location across the city and I try to plan accordingly for trips like that after a few ill-prepared treks resulted in sad feet. Also, if you look closely in the glass door of the bookcase, you can see what I'm looking at when this pic was taken. It's a little Junie apparition!

So that's it! Me Made May done! Pledging to wear my me-mades four days a week ended up being a reasonable thing for me to achieve. I probably could have done five and incorporated a weekend day, but for me this year four was plenty. By next May, I would like to have a closet full of me-made items that work well with my lifestyle and then maybe it will be no big deal to go for the full month every day. It's a good goal!

As for the second half of my pledge, things didn't go so well. I set myself a goal to complete four new items during the course of the month, and I only made two that I like and will wear. I completed a third, but it's not going to see the light of day in its current state. I'll be back at some point to share what I did make, and also finally post a thorough review and more pics of the dresses that I made in April but still haven't blogged about.

And once again, a huge thanks to Zoe for being amazing and organizing this month of sewing fanaticism, and hooray for everyone who participated! I'm still getting caught up on all the posts in my reader, and I've barely had time to poke around the flickr group at all this year. I love that there were so many participants, and it's so much fun to see everyone's creations. How did it go for you? Are you exhausted? Can't wait to wear your RTW, or raring to sew some more?

May 18, 2013

MMM'13 week three wrap-up

Time for another MMM'13 recap! Are you sick of seeing me standing in the same spot yet? I'm surprised that at this point I still have a few items that I haven't worn yet, which will come in handy since we have two full weeks left. Is it just me, or is this May particularly long?

When I was going through my closet at the end of April trying to assess the Me-Made situation in there, I pulled out this skirt and was a bit shocked at what I found. It's Simplicity 2059 AKA the $2 skirt and it's a lightweight rayon challis. It's a little tough to tell here, but it's a bias cut skirt with an off-center seam front and back- you can see the chevron formed by the front seam on my right leg below:

May 13

Well, despite having (I think) let the bias hang before I hemmed this thing back when I made it, it was seriously misshapen when I pulled it out, with parts of the hem hanging almost an inch longer than others. Last weekend I finally took the hem out and straightened and re-hemmed it and now it can return to rotation. I really like this skirt, and the dark brown tones are a nice match for the Miz Mooz boots I picked up at a sample sale at the office for the highway robbery price of $10.

Last weekend I also finished the first of four garments outlined in my MMM'13 pledge. It's another Beignet, but I just don't know. It doesn't compare to my first Beignet love, and I think I overcorrected with this one after the shrinkage fiasco. This one's a size bigger and it's verging on Frumpsville.

May 14

I think possibly moving buttons three through five or so there at the top might help with that wrinkly pooching, but I'm not sure. I've washed and dried it now so I'm going to try it on again and see where we're at before I do anything drastic. This one does have a fun coral lining, and it will be a nice staple for the work wardrobe, but I really have to pin down the fit. I paired it on Tuesday with more bargain finds from the sample sale- the sweater and drapey neck top above might have cost me a dollar together. Maybe. I love sample sales! 

Bonus points for Junie rockin' some mama-made leggings in the pics above and below! I can't even take credit for it either, David dressed her! Way to represent MMM James family!

After I finished fixing the hem on the $2 skirt last weekend, I also took the time to sew some buttons back on the sailor pants I wore on Wednesday. I didn't make them- they're oldies from Express- but I've replaced every button on those babies at least once, so I feel a special handmade connection to them nonetheless. I've also completely lost faith in my drycleaner, because twice now I've taken these pants in and had them returned to me with buttons missing. The first time they were just gone (five of the twelve, necessitating a full-switcheroo). The second time there were only two lost, and they took the time to sew some (non-matching grey plastic) buttons back on, and again, they didn't bother to make a note or tell me about it. I didn't know until I took them off the hanger to wear them months later. Seriously? What is wrong with this situation? It's Dryel for me from now on. But I digress. Sorry.

  May 15

I am actually wearing an item that I legitimately made as well. Well, refashioned, I suppose. The top is from way back in 2010, made during one of Rae's Spring Top Weeks. It was a button-front shirt of David's that he didn't wear any more, so I chopped it up and made it my own. I never wear it anymore, and I certainly never would have picked it out to wear with those pants if it wasn't MMM. I like the look of them together, but sadly that top will now have to be retired. The fabric is weak and has split down at least one of the vertical burnout stripes in the back.

Thursday was my first repeat, but not because I ran out of me-mades. I still have a couple but I wanted to wear some comfy flats after walking around downtown in those platforms above. I've worn them a few times before with no trouble, but for some reason they really bugged me on Wednesday so I built my outfit around my need for comfort and pulled out my old favorite New Look 6030 denim skirt again.

  May 16

Paired with my fun giraffe haircalf Me Too flats and a Nic & Zoe cardigan from- you guessed it!- the sample sale, my feet were happy and my wallet is too!

That fulfilled my pledge this week to wear something me-made four days, but I decided to go for a fifth so I could try the Lisette tunic in a different way. I was curious to see how it might look belted, so for a casual brunch date with the hubby today I wore it like this:

  May 18

I tried it with the belt at my natural waist and also loosely slung at hip level, and ended up going with the latter. I don't love it this way, but I don't really love this top at all, so it's hard to say if it's the styling or not. I feel like it looked better with the ankle-length skinnies and no belt, like I wore it to work the first week of MMM. Maybe over black leggings it would work too? I don't know what it is. I want to like this top and wear it more, but I feel so weird in it for some reason. It just doesn't really feel like me, however it is that I see myself anyway. Ugh- okay, that's enough navel-gazing for one night!

Except not really. Indulge me just a little more? I finished my second me-made today- which means I'm half way through my pledge of four new items! I think I have a plan for the other two, but nothing set in stone yet. In reality, I have a lot of ideas for the things that I would like to make next, but I have yet to commit to anything. Ideas are good though! And I picked up a few new patterns last week during the McCall's & Vogue sale at JoAnn. I think there are some good ones this season! How is MMM'13 going for you? Still sewing new things to add to the rotation? Heading into repeatsville yet?

May 11, 2013

MMM'13 week two wrap-up

Well, MMM'13 week two is over, (or soon will be, depending on how you count the weeks) and things are getting exciting! I'm already starting to feel the challenge as I watch my me-mades move from my closet to the laundry, where they have a tendency to sit for extended periods of time. I've got to start getting my wash and iron on, or I'll have nothing to wear for the second half of the month!

Once again this week I didn't quite live up to my own requirements for the challenge. I could go put on a me-made t-shirt and count today (Saturday) but for me the real challenge is in getting my me-mades into my work wardrobe so I'm not going to bother with that. I'm wishing that I had a few more me-made blouses or tops to wear, especially on casual Friday when jeans are the office norm. I have a couple but they're either not exactly office appropriate, or not really my favorite shapes anymore, so that's been a sticking point. I'm thinking more Almas are in order, and I have some chiffon that I'm dying to make into a cute little summery blouse.

But anyway, as usual, my life contains more plans than time. So here's what I wore this week:

May 6

It was my green Beignet on Monday, and it fits much better now that I've let it out a bit and moved the buttons. No breath-holding required! Paired with the ever-versatile striped sailor tee and flat mary-jane Miz Mooz shoes I was comfortable and still felt stylish and put-together.

Juniper!

Tuesday morning my helpers were back and eager to get in on the photo-taking action. Lincoln always wants to be in charge of the remote, and as you can see above- now Junie's first reaction to seeing the camera tripod come out is to go stand in my favorite (only) well-lit picture taking location.

May 7

This is my beloved Tiramisu, paired with a perfectly complementary pair of purple Franco Sarto shoes that I found at Nordstrom Rack. The belt is from Target, and coordinates better in person than it appears to in the photo.

On Wednesday I wore Ships Ahoy! It's one of two dresses that I've completed recently but haven't had time to properly blog about.

May 8

It's Simplicity 2177 (here's my review on PR) and I chose the pattern specifically to make use of this border print cotton that I found on clearance a couple years ago. I'm still searching for some navy flats to pair with it, so for this outfit I went with these metallic studded ones by Me Too, a hard-to-see but truly there silver metal belt that I thrifted, a me-made necklace, and basic navy cardi. This dress is sleeveless so it will be fun for summer all alone, but I can't have exposed shoulders at work, so be-cardigan-ed it shall remain on weekdays.

This next one is admittedly a bit of a cheat as I didn't make anything that I'm wearing. HOWEVER, if it wasn't for my little sewing hobby/obsession/passion, I wouldn't still have the skirt or the top in my closet at all. I relegated the Michael Stars wrap top to my bin of knit fabrics years ago, thinking that I could salvage the fabric for a future kid's top or something, as I didn't wear it often. I found it when I was moving my sewing room recently and decided to give it another shot. That, in case you're keeping track, is yet another point for fabric hoarding. Wheee!

May 9

The skirt is from Old Navy and I've had it forever. It was the palest of pale yellows, which wasn't great for me and my yellowish skin tone. Since I've been dying all kinds of stuff lately in an attempt to give things a new leash on life, one day I decided to throw this skirt in a red dye bath and see what happened. I was hoping for more of a lipstick red, but as you can see, it ended up pink. There are parts that didn't pick up the dye at all, like the poly ribbon at the hem, the button and zipper closure, and the burnout sections of the fabric. That's cool with me, because it means I can get away with pairing this with my mustard yellow pumps from Target (long ago), and I do think it's now a better color for me to wear. So hooray for the make-do-and-mend mentality so persistant in the sewing community. I'm now much more inclined now to try to alter or adjust garments that aren't working for me, rather than just tossing them in the Goodwill pile.

Since I pledged for four days of me-mades per week, I had intended not to count Thursday's cheat and wear something me-made on Friday, but it didn't work out. As I mentioned above, I need to get better about doing laundry and make myself some new tops so I can get in on the casual Friday action a little more easily. Things were also complicated by the fact that there was a Mother's Day celebration at Lincoln's preschool, so I wanted to look nice but also wear jeans- first world problems, etc. I was also up for many hours in the early morning because Junie wouldn't sleep, so in the end, exhaustion won out over my good intentions. Luckily, Lincoln offered redemption in the form of a custom handmade brooch that I was proud to pin to my off-the-rack top of shame.

Mother's Day Celebration at Creative Minds Academy

The bunny ears and Ziplock bag bow tie are from Lincoln's most recent accessory collection which, despite appearances, was NOT sponsored by Playboy. The kids performed a rousing rendition of Some Korean Song About Bunnies, complete with hopping and hand movements and general adorableness.

Lincoln as bow-tied bunny

We devoured plates of international cuisine and desserts galore while the kiddos serenaded us in no less than four languages and spelled MOM and LOVE with their bodies, causing the hearts of all of us helpless mommies to melt into puddles of goo all over the floor. It was precious.

So that's week two wrapped! I'm having so much fun checking out everyone's outfits on their blogs (trying, at least- I'm way behind!) and in the Flickr group (which has 399 members! Awesome!). How is MMM going for you if you're participating? Feeling the strain yet? Is laundry the bane of your existence too? I feel like those piles NEVER go away!

May 5, 2013

MMM'13 week one wrap-up

Hey-o! How was everyone's week one of MMM'13? I'm satisfied with my showing thus far, despite the fact that I pledged four days per week and only did three. It was a mini week so I'm cutting myself some slack. Besides, I totally could have dressed in something me-made on Saturday but I was grumpy and couldn't be bothered to take a picture or care about what I was wearing, so I just decided to skip it. Whatever- moving on!

So I kicked off MMM'13 with my newly olive Butterick trench dress. You might recall that this dress (B5598) started it's life more army green-ish, but an unfortunate accident left some spotting at the hem from the not-so-color-friendly stain remover. I bathed it in two bottles of RIT black, and now it's a nice deep olive green, which was a totally pleasant surprise. I didn't really want a black trench dress, but I didn't know what else to do. And since the topstitching was already black, this new darker shade works great. I just had to change out all eleventy million buttons to black, and it was good to go.

May 1

I love this dress! It's super comfortable and the pockets are awesome and I love that the bright (still) watermelon (it didn't take a speck of dye- that's all poly right there!) lining peeks out just a bit at the sleeve. It's such a fun surprise, and the colors are great complements.

On Thursday I pulled out an old standby. It's my tried and true New Look 6030 denim skirt, and I paired it with a favorite orange beaded cardigan and my fave Miz Mooz boots.

May 2

This outfit is pretty much quintessential Tiffany. I wear this look in one way or another many days, just mixing up the cardigan with another much like it, or trading the skirt for another much like it, or maybe switching to jeans. It's not a terribly exciting style, but I guess it is what it is. Comfortable and not completely slovenly. That's my goal! Also my badass vintage leather moto jacket is new and was my treat to myself when I started my new job. I foresee it being worn to death over many years, and those are the kind of items that I'm happy to invest in.

I followed up with a decidedly less "me" look on Friday. It's a Lisette Portfolio top that I made what feels like forever ago now out of a lightweight bedspread from Urban Outfitters. I seem to only wear this top once or twice a year, and not because I don't like it, I swear! It comfy and well-made, but there's just something about it that makes me leave it hanging in the closet.

May 3 (with toddler photo-bomb!)

And look how sweet Junie is! She saw the tripod come out and she walked right over and struck a pose. Adorable!

Hooray! We made it through the first week- just four more to go! And thank god for that, because I still haven't finished my first of four promised new garments. But four weeks is practically a whole month, so there's still hope! How's it going for you? I'm behind on reading, but I can't wait to see how everyone's getting their MMM on!

April 30, 2013

MMM'13- Count me in!

Whoa! I didn't mean to stay away for so long, but it's been a pretty crazy couple of weeks! I started my new job on the 15th, so I've got two full weeks under my belt and I haven't run away screaming or spent a day huddled under my desk crying (yet), so I think we're off to a good start!

With Me Made May 2013 just around the corner, I've spent the first two weeks "practicing" to see how my me-made garments would translate into my new corporate environment. I think I'm in pretty good shape! And interestingly, rather than reaching for my comfortable stockpile of trusty old Banana Republic trousers left over from my last foray into the 9-5 world, I've found that I'm actually preferring to turn to my fun skirts and dresses when I get dressed in the morning. In fact, I had to force myself to wear something store-bought the last two days so I could "save" my me-mades for Wednesday, when it will finally be May. I figured that I have about 15-20 items to work with, and with five weeks that works out to 4 days per week that I should be able to wear at least one me-made item. Some of the garments aren't really suitable for my workplace dress code, but I might be able to get away with them on the more casual Fridays, or wear them on the weekends. My initial intent was to go with a three-day pledge like last year, but as Zoe said, this should be a challenge, so four days it is. I would love to be able to pledge to do it every day- maybe next year!

me-made-may'13

So, here's what I posted on the MMM'13 sign-up post over at So, Zo... What do you know?:
I, Tiffany of twilltape, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear a minimum of one me-made garment four times per week for the duration of May 2013. In addition, I pledge to complete four new garments during the course of the month.
I initially wrote that I would complete just three new garments, but I decided to up the ante to four. It will be a struggle for me, but I figure a little fire under my butt can't hurt. I've got one garment underway right now, and another in the wings. I have no idea what the next two will be, but maybe I'll get brave enough to tackle my Burda coat. That would be a real coup, and I can't really imagine I'll be that courageous, but maybe.

I've also got two recently completed dresses that I would love to share, but I just haven't had a chance. I'm hoping that I'll aclimate quickly to this new schedule so I can figure out a way to work my most favorite hobbies (blog reading, sewing, and blogging) back into my every day. I know that in reality there's time, but it's going to take a while for me to find it. Bear with me while I figure it out! And have fun with Me Made May! Maybe I'll see you in the Flickr group, and I'm looking forward to everyone's posts on the topic.

April 12, 2013

Colette Beignet, v1. Or, A Cautionary Tale.

And I'm back, with yet another sewn garment that I made in the weeks leading up to my trip to New Orleans which was also left behind. But unlike my plaid Vogue dress, this one fit in perfectly with my chosen vacation palette, and it's even named Beignet, for crying out loud! I REALLY wanted to eat a beignet in my Beignet, but alas, it was not to be. I was foiled (by my fabric? by my own cleverness?) this time around, and I want to share my woe because I would hate for any of you to make the same mistake (whatever it was).

Green Beignet

But what? Why? I can hear you say it. I know, at first glance it might look okay. Maybe even kind of awesome. But take a close look at the hem in the picture below and you can see a bit of my woe.

Beignet in kelly green cotton

Okay, maybe you can't unless you look really hard. Here, try this one:

Shrinkage

See that lovely powdery blue lining peeking out? Well, you shouldn't! That, my friends, is the result of what they call shrinkage. And yes, OF COURSE (I think) I pre-washed and dried this fabric before I started. And I know that I didn't do a crappy job cutting or measuring, and in fact, this is one of the most beautifully made garments I've made. Inside and out, it's lovely. And the most perfect shade of kelly green, is it not?

Bazillions of buttons Beignet

And once again, the button gods were smiling down on me, because the buttons are the EXACT same shade of green as the fabric. This fabric, in fact, which has been with me for quite some time. It started as a huge long piece, probably five yards or more, that was gifted to me along with my serger by my super generous inlaws at Christmas a few years back. The fabric was used quite cleverly as the wrapping paper around the oversized box, and in the years since I've used pieces of it for a whole bunch of things. It's just a plain weave cotton, light weight but not like a quilting cotton. It's got a loose weave and it's kind of drapey. I decided once I bought the Beignet pdf pattern that I needed a kelly green Beignet, and thankfully I had enough left to cut out all the pieces with just a few scraps remaining.

Beignet rear view

And then I had a stroke of genius. I was a little concerned about the loose weave- I mean, I didn't want to end up with a saggy and baggy Beignet. I turned to my friend and favorite interfacing, Pellon EK130, a knit tricot fusible that I've been using almost exclusively as my apparel interfacing of choice since I discovered it. I test-fused a few scraps and even compared EK130 to ES114 and 860, a weft-insertion interfacing, to see how they changed the hand of the fabric and how they washed. (I discovered later that 860 is not to be washed, but it actually survived the trip through a permanent press cycle alright anyway.) My tests confirmed that my instincts were right. The tricot gave my fabric just enough body to make it a more suitable choice for a tailored skirt, but it wasn't stiff at all. I block fused two yards to my fabric and cut my pieces, and set to work.

Beignet hem

I toiled long and hard on this beauty. I found a remnant of something blue and slippery in my lining bin and I had JUST enough to cut my skirt lining pieces. I tried Steam-A-Seam for the first time to help tame that slippery lining hem and got a nicely even 1/4" narrow hem all around. I think I probably worked on this skirt for about a week, during nap times and in the evening after the kiddos went to bed. It came together beautifully and I can't say enough great things about Colette patterns. They're brilliant.

So, I finally finished up- exactly one week before my departure date, and naturally, I wore it. And naturally, I spilled something on it! So, a dab of stain remover went on, and I sent it through a delicate wash cycle. I pulled it out, and the stain was still there, so I sent it through again, with warmer water this time. Much to my relief, the spot came out, and I put it in the dryer on delicate for just a few minutes, then pulled it out and hung it to dry the rest of the way. I noticed that the lining hem seemed to be poking out funny when I hung it up, but I figured it just needed a good press. But then when I was trying to finalize my vacation wardrobe, I put it back on. And holy crap, the thing was tight! It wasn't that tight before, was it? And that lining! That wasn't hanging out before, was it? The damn thing shrank! Shrunk? No!

Kelly green Beignet

Before I left I spent some time staring at it and trying to figure out what to do. For the lining, it should have been as easy as ripping out the narrow hem and restitching it a bit deeper, but thanks to the permanent bond that the Steam-A-Seam creates, that hem is there to stay. I thought about rolling the lining hem under again, but that disrupts the beautiful finish that's going on in there where the lining meets the facing. And then there's the fact that I couldn't really breathe in it, and there was no way I could eat a beignet in it. I decided it would be better if I just left it at home.

And then once I got back, I was still determined to have a kelly green beignet, so I bought a piece of green denim with the intention of remaking the skirt. I thought I might be able to salvage the lining from this one, and reuse the buttons. But, the denim, although a pretty good color match, just isn't the same. It's rougher looking and the dye isn't even and after I washed and dried that piece of fabric, I knew that it wouldn't make a Beignet as lovely as this one. I had to save this skirt!

So, I begrudgingly rolled that lining hem up a third time and stitched it down. It's bulkier and not as lovely as it once was, but no one will see it and at least it's not hanging out of my skirt anymore like a tacky slip or something. I pulled off a couple of the belt loops and let out the only two seams that I hadn't serged completely off, gaining back about 1/2" around the waist. I moved the top three buttons over a little bit so they aren't so strained anymore, and just to prove to myself that I hadn't simply fatted out of my skirt, I fused and washed another scrap of fabric, but this time I actually measured it before and after.


That was a 5" x 5" piece of my fashion fabric, with the EK130 fused to one side. As you can see, it's now more like a 4 3/4" x 4 7/8" piece. It's clear to me that the length is where the greater shrinkage happened, and though the width shrinkage seems insignificant, it was clearly enough to make a difference. I'm kicking myself for taking the time to swatch the interfacing before I made the skirt, but not thinking to measure the pieces! Foolish girl. And for comparison's sake, I also washed a 5" x 5" piece of fabric without the interfacing. They came out exactly the same size!

So, the way I see it, there are a number of things that could be coming into play here:
  1. Maybe I never pre-washed this fabric after all. It was years ago, and I can barely remember last week. Probably should have washed it again, just to be sure.
  2. The interfacing shrunk (shrank?), taking the fashion fabric with it. This is what I was convinced had happened, until the two test swatches came out of the dryer exactly the same. So much for that theory! Although the un-interfaced cotton would have relaxed again in the width, while the interfaced piece doesn't have any give.
  3. I'm a slob, and should really stop wearing the clothes that I make in real life situations. True, had I not spilled on my skirt the first day, it might have gotten to come to Louisiana with me. I am confident that I would have spilled something on it there, but maybe it would have been powdered sugar from an actual beignet, and my meta skirt dream would have been fulfilled. But the point is, I would have had to wash it eventually anyway. Maybe...
  4. The loose weave means it will continue to shrink, wash after wash? So...
  5. I guess I should have washed, fused, washed again, and then cut a size bigger? I don't even know. I think that it's salvaged at this point, assuming it doesn't keep shrinking. But it's a skinny day skirt, that's for sure. And I'm not done with this pattern, so hopefully next time won't be so problematic. I've got some charcoal grey mystery fabric stashed that I've earmarked for Beignet v2. Better go throw it in the wash!

I've got one more dress to show you that I completed last week, and then I think that I might be even more absent than I usually am for a while. I'm going back to my old (pre-babies) 9-5 on Monday, and I imagine that might have an impact on my sewing output. However, Me Made May '13 is just around the corner, and I still have some plans from my old Work Wardrobe Pinterest board to tackle. And I have to determine what my level of participation in MMM13 will be before I make my pledge. While most of my me-made garments aren't completely unsuitable for a corporate environment, they definitely skew a little more casual. I've got to take stock of the closet and formulate a plan.

So, what do you think went wrong with my Beignet? What would you have done? Are you playing along with MMM13? Do you like how I just snuck in the fact that I'm going back to work like it ain't no thang? Truth is, I tried to write a whole thing about it, explaining and laying it all out there- but frankly, it's just not that interesting. I got a job. David quit his. We're trading places, and hopefully it all works out for the best. I'll keep you updated, of course. And now, I'm off to begin my final weekend before this very dramatic life change takes place. Hope you enjoy yours as much as I intend to revel in mine!

April 8, 2013

I Heart NOLA

Alright, let's talk about our trip, shall we? As I mentioned previously, hubby David and I recently had our first solo vacation opportunity and we spent it in a place that is near and dear to our hearts: New Orleans, Louisiana. You may remember that this is also where we spent our "weddingmoon" in 2008 after our beautiful private ceremony at Oak Alley Plantation, so it was nice to revisit some of the same places after nearly five years, and discover some new ones as well.

Let me just start by saying that this trip would not have been a remote possibility without my fantastic and generous in-laws, who not only sponsored my flight, but also moved into our home and watched our two darling children for the week we were gone. Seriously, if you can swing it, I highly recommend finding a partner with such supportive and amazing parents! I'm a lucky girl, I know.

I had a bit of a rough start when I thought I would miss my connection at DFW on the way down there, as I had just a 50 minute layover there and we left Seattle over an hour late due to some mysterious "maintenance issues". Thankfully a combination of fast flying by the captain and the fact that there were 19 of us on the flight that needed to make the connection meant that they were able to hold our next flight just 15 minutes for us and it was enough for us to squeeze in. Hallelujah too, because I'm pretty confident that I would have spent the night at DFW crying my eyes out!

I spent that second, shorter flight from Dallas to New Orleans laughing through a few episodes of New Girl, because at this point I was missing my babies pretty hard. I needed a pick-me-up and those crazy kids are just the ticket! By the time I landed I was in much better spirits and ready to enjoy myself and my week of vacation.

And while this trip wasn't pure pleasure, as David was there on work business to begin with, we still managed to squeeze in our fair share of fun and excitement. Here are the highlights:

1) The FOOD! Of course, New Orleans has a world-famous food culture, and we love to eat, so we got along just fine. We ate lots of seafood, like the platter of fried goodness below, which included shrimp, crawfish, stuffed crab, catfish, calamari, AND oysters. It was sinful and delicious, and you can get your own at Mulate's. Bring a friend or two, or plan not to eat for a day or so afterward (which would be a shame in NOLA).

Mulate's Cajun Seafood Platter

We also enjoyed a more refined meal at Root one evening, where fresh and local meet up with decadent housemade charcuterie, and innovation and playfulness are the name of the game. Take our appetizer, for example, pictured below. It was the Ménage à Foie, featuring foie gras three ways. The "Foielly Pop" is the fluffy thing you see there on the right, and it's a little chilled taste of foie gras on a stick, coated in Pop Rocks (yes, I said Pop Rocks), then spun with savory cotton candy. A second foie gras preparation that evening was foie gras "dippin' dots"- just like actual ice cream dippin' dots, but made with foie gras. I forget what the third was, but it was delicious too! The whole thing was totally bizarre and interesting, and this meal was a once in a lifetime experience from beginning to end. I highly recommend a trip to Root if you visit New Orleans.


I won't tell you about my main course that night because I don't want to make anyone ill, but trust me when I say that it was actually delicious, despite how it sounds. If you're curious, you might be able to identify what I ate by visiting the Root dinner menu and picking out the one item under Principals that you would never, ever order, because OMG, GROSS! Yup. That's what I had, at the server's suggestion. She claimed that it was her favorite item on the menu, and after two Abita Ambers, I felt just bold enough to take her up on her challenge. Never again, but like I said, it was a once in a lifetime meal.

In addition to many, many more brews by Abita, we also had the requisite muffalleta at Serio's, beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde, barbecue shrimp at Mister B's Bistro, and lunch at Butcher over the course of the week. We didn't have a disappointing meal, and I can strongly recommend a trip to New Orleans if you just want to eat your way around a city for a week or so.

2) The MUSIC! The only thing better than the food scene in New Orleans is the music scene. We spent our evenings on Frenchman Street because Bourbon Street is chaos, and smells like a port-a-potty all the time. We enjoyed lots of live music from all different types of entertainers, and I love that you can just wander up and down the streets, stopping to stick your head in a club or restaurant or bar when you hear something interesting drifting out (which is often).

We also met Rob Thomas out one night at DBA, which was exciting for me because I'm a big Matchbox Twenty fan. The band also played at the closing party for the show David was working on, and we were able to attend that as well. I struck out on my own during the set and wormed my way up to about fifteen feet from the stage and enjoyed a musical trip back to my early twenties. They played a nice mix of songs from the older albums that everyone knows and loves, as well as some new stuff from North. I had a great time at the show, and knowing that 24 hours before I had shook Rob's hand and told him that I appreciated his music made it even better.

Apologies for the crappy phone pic. But look! Rob Thomas!

3) PROMENADE FABRICS!!

I googled for fabric stores before I left for New Orleans, and thank heavens I found Promenade Fabrics. I was hoping to find somewhere special to treat myself to something for my recently celebrated 33rd birthday, and I did! This place was a real deal apparel fabric store. There was not a thread of quilting cotton in sight- nor polar fleece, or felt, or anything other than beautiful, high quality European gems. I could have spent hours in there, chatting with the owner and touching everything in sight.

Just one small corner of this not large store.
It was stacked to the ceiling with fabric all around!

It would have been just my style to get so overwhelmed by all the beautiful options at Promenade that I just left with nothing, so I was thankful that I went in with kind of a plan in mind. See, when I packed for my trip, I ended up following a bit of a capsule wardrobe plan, and I found that sticking with a color palette really helped me narrow down my clothing options to a manageable selection. I'm a notorious over-packer, and could have easily brought an extra 40 pounds worth of stuff I would have never worn or used if not for this plan. I kept to a basic color palette of black, white, kelly green, red, and dark denim. Then it was easy to bring only a handful of shoes (black and gold, flats and heels) and basic accessories (green, black, and gold) that went with everything, and I didn't have to worry about my bag not matching or dealing with a million different jewelry options jumbled in my cosmetics bag.

Cases of buttons.

So, with my palette in mind, it was easy to shop and find a few special pieces of fabric that I could bring home that I knew that I would use and would have mileage in my wardrobe. I think it's really a great way of thinking about my closet that I have never done before that will serve me well in the future, whether shopping for fabric or ready-to-wear items. I have to credit the sewing blogosphere for planting this bug in my brain, through the many palette challenges such as those on the Coletterie, and Steph's expositions on color that got me thinking about my clothes in this way.

Tons of ribbons and trims.

I ended up with three pieces of fabric, plus two lining materials, and I'm terribly happy with my choices. It was a bit challenging for me to pay full price, as I'm so accustomed to shopping the clearance bin; but as I said, it was a special treat for myself and I was pretty confident that I was making good choices, so that made it a bit easier to part with my birthday money. Plus, I was happy to support this small but thriving shop and the delightful owner Herbert, who credited "us twenty-somethings" with the resurgence of the sewing industry. Having been in the business for 45 years, he has seen a lot of change, obviously, and it was nice to know that at least in some places in the country, small shops like this are safe and prosperous! But anyway- wanna see what I got?

First up is a beautiful piece of Jones New York stretch cotton sateen. It's 97% cotton, 3% spandex, and just the perfect weight for a great statement coat, I think. I'm in love with Gail's recent take on Burda 7072, so I picked that pattern up once I got home, and as soon as I can work up the nerve to cut my fabric, that's my plan for this piece. Herbert also suggested a lovely satiny white slightly stretchy lining, which is what you see on the right in the photo below. 


I'm really excited, but also so nervous to make this! I really want it to be a classic item that I will wear for a long time, so of course I want it to be perfect and fit me just right. I'm thinking the longer sleeves, and I'm completely torn on the collar. I think I might make it and decide in the process- hopefully that's not something I have to decide on right at the outset? Ack. I've never made a coat before, but Gail said in her post that she thinks it's an appropriate first jacket choice, so I'm going for it. Someday.

This next piece below is the most expensive yardage I've ever purchased. Ever. Hands down. Herbert said it's silk jersey and I hope that the worms got at least a small cut of the $28/yard that it cost me. This fabric has definitely got a lustrous finish, a slightly nubby texture, and it's a nice weight. I'll make a dress from it, but I can't decide what pattern to use. I want it to be special, but not too special, you know what I mean? Classic, and wearable, and something that I can wear long enough to justify the price!


Finally, I picked up this lightweight cotton and a plain white batiste to underline it with. I photographed it with the lining beneath it because it's just slightly sheer. Maybe it's voile? I love the large scale floral, and the colors. This will be a summery dress- maybe a Lonsdale? Or a Parfait? I'm not sure yet. With all these big flowers, I feel like it has to be just the right pattern to take full advantage of them.


I almost went back to Promenade Fabrics a second day, because I remembered catching a glimpse of a whole shelf full of remnants, and that's totally my thing. I refrained, however, figuring that I had spent enough and had enough textile memories to work with for this time around. I'll be sure to visit again when I return to the city though, and I suggest if you're heading that way you do the same!

So there's my trip to NOLA in a nutshell. It was so weird traveling without the kids, and waking up and having nothing- literally NOTHING- to do was completely bizarre. I even read a real book for the first time in a while- an actual paper, checked out of the library book- not one on my kindle. That was fun! I sat around by the pool and walked around downtown while David worked in the mornings, and generally just enjoyed having no obligations. Of course, I missed the babies, and it was a really rough show for David, but all in all, I think it was a smashing success. I already can't wait to go back!

Have you been to New Orleans? Do you love it as much as I do? What would you make with those fabrics?