Friday, September 5, 2014

Indiesew Fall Collection Blog Tour

indiesew fall collection 1

Summer is over, as much as the current temperatures want to disagree with me.  Kids are back in school, my beach vacation seems like a distant memory, and Indiesew just launched their new Fall Pattern Collection this week.

Oh yes, fall is here, my friends.

Indiesew, my new fave place for discovering independent sewing patterns, put together a curated collection of six patterns that can be mixed and matched to create the perfect outfit for fall, and asked me to create my perfect fall outfit from the collection.  This resonated with me because of the exercises I went through earlier this year with The Wardobe Architect and sewing a wearable wardrobe.  Depending on the fabric selection and styling, these patterns can truly fit any specific lifestyle.

indiesew fall collection 2

What I've learned this year through thinking about my personal style and lifestyle is that I need more casual pieces that work well with the sneakers because of the nature of my job and industry.  And with the amount of travelling I do for work, I also need these pieces to be comfortable and pack easily in a suitcase.  So, it' seemed like a no-brainer to pair the Hudson Pants from the Fall Pattern Collection with the Lane Raglan, and throw in a chic carry-all bag like the Alice Book Bag.

Lane Raglan

baseball lane raglan1

I heart this raglan pattern so much and the way it fits.  My first version of this pattern was made to look more like a sweatshirt, and to differentiate this version, I went for a baseball tee version with contrasting sleeves.  The next time I make a long-sleeved version of this shirt, I'll shorten the sleeves - they're a bit long on me, but look cool pushed up and slouchy.  The rayon poly fabric is ridiculously soft, so I'm sure I'll be reaching for this shirt a lot this fall.

Hudson Pants

hudson pants 1

The Hudson Pants are my favorite part of this outfit, because they're so different than anything I have in my closet and a much "cooler" silhouette than I usually gravitate towards.  Since I wanted these to pass as ok to wear to the office or on the road, I picked a black cotton knit instead of a casual gray or printed knit - what makes the fabric special are the tonal polka dots knit into the fabric, aren't they the cutest?  It honestly feels like PJs when I wear these, but these pants would be great for train trips to NYC or informal office meetings.  The only thing I should have done differently is grade down the waist.  I picked my size based on my hip measurement and the waist has a little too much fabric ease for my liking...I still love these pants though!

Also, you know that you've made something awesome when your boyfriend or husband hates it (Chris can't stand these pants).  That's just a sewing truth.

Alice Book Bag

alice bag 1

alice bag 2

I wanted this bag to be just as cool as the rest of the outfit, and almost bought a beautiful home dec fabric with birds woven all over, but it wouldn't have fit the vibe I was going for.  Instead, I found this awesome ultrasuede fabric with a metallic underlay - yes, there's holes punched in the ultrasuede for the metallic underlay to show through!  Thank goodness I had a coupon for this pricey beauty.

This bag was incredibly easy to make, it's a bunch of rectangle pattern pieces you draft yourself based off of given measurements, and the bottom of the bag has boxed corners.  I opted for the convertible strap option so I can wear the bag on my shoulder or as a cross-body.

alice bag 4

The grommets are a really cool detail, they're actually curtain grommets!  With the thickness of my fabric, it took a couple of tries to get them to fit, but they're totally worth it.

indiesew fall collection 3

Thinking about starting your fall sewing?  The Indiesew Fall Collection is a great place to start.  All six patterns can be bought separately, but if you love all six like I do, the bundle can be purchased for 10% off.

Outfit Credits:
Lane Raglan via Indiesew - rayon poly knit from Joann Fabrics
Hudson Pants via Indiesew - cotton knit from Joann Fabrics

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Finished Project: Lonsdale Dress [Sewaholic Patterns]

lonsdale 2

Pattern: bodice - Lonsdale by Sewaholic
              skirt - By Hand London Charlotte Skirt
Fabric: stretch cotton sateen from Metro Textile
Size: bodice - 4; skirt - 8

Earrings: Charming Charlie
Sandals: Nine West
Sunnies: Tommy Hilfiger

That Sarai, she's got some great ideas - did you see her white Lonsdale dress a few weeks ago?  Pure fabulousness, especially in all white for summer.  Sue gave me this pattern last year during the spring sewing swap and I've been saving it for just the right fabric; I thought my paisley rayon in my stash would be perfect, but realized just before cutting into it that the paisleys were directional.  Darn it!  But what I loved about Sarai's version is how she changed the dress from a flowy skirted number to a form-fitting silhouette.  When I considered that design change, I discovered I already had the perfect fabric all along.

lonsdale 4

I make a point of going into Metro Textile with a focused shopping list of what I need to find, but always walk out with something unexpected that I'm not sure what I'll end up using it for...such is the case with this fabric from my last shopping trip.  "Buy three yards, make a dress," Kashi said.  Those three yards were exactly what I needed to make this dress, what luck!  I love the body and weight of this cotton sateen, and with the little bit of stretch, it doesn't wrinkle at all and makes the skirt easy to sit and move in.

lonsdale 1

So how did I go about making this pattern hack?  Well, I didn't have the confidence or pattern drafting abilities that Sarai has to alter the original skirt pattern for the Lonsdale dress - it was on the bias, a-line...didn't want to touch that puppy and risk screwing up.  Instead, I turned to my trusty and beloved Charlotte skirt pattern.  The waist of the Charlotte skirt measured the same as the Lonsdale bodice in my size, so it was a no-brainer to go that route instead of drafting my own pencil skirt.  What I did end up drafting was the curved pocket, to emulate the pockets on the original Lonsdale skirt...I do love me some pockets in my skirts and dresses.

The pocket drafting was pretty simple: I copied the curve of the original Lonsdale pocket onto my Charlotte skirt pattern (traced, of course) to get a general shape, and tweaked it a little to fit the shape of the sides of the skirt.  I also took the original pocket pattern piece of the Lonsdale dress, altered the curve, and shrank it down slightly since I was worried that the original pockets would be too big for a tight fitting skirt.  Easy-peasy change, and now I can make my future Charlotte skirts with pockets!

lonsdale 3

With the fabric being a bit stiff, it's easier just to knot the ties instead of tie them into a bow.  I think the straps are my favorite detail, they make the dress so different than other patterns out there and RTW dresses.  This is why sewing is awesome!!

lonsdale 5

Ok, I had to include this shot - Chris took pictures, unbeknownst to me, of me peeking through a crack in the fence at the horses next door and I couldn't stop laughing!

Well, that's my last garment of the summer.  I finished this a few week's ago to wear to a party with Chris and his family, and now I'm tucking it away until our winter vacation somewhere warm in January (I hope!!).  So far for 2014, this dress just may be my favorite garment of the year...but I have a long list of garments to make for the balance of the year, so who knows!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Finished Project - Ukulele Case

ukulele case1

I have a new hobbie, and no, it's not of the crafty variety.

Ever since visiting the Martin Guitar factory in July and learning about the ukuleles they make (I had no idea!), I've had a longing to learn to play one.  They're not as intimidating to learn as a guitar, and with Chris absolutely enamored with the mandolin I bought him for his 33rd birthday, it made me want to learn to play a stringed instrument so we could play songs together (however, he's been playing guitar for over 20 years...I have some catching up to do...)

Playing the ukulele is So. Much. Fun.  I've had my little guy for about two weeks now and can stumble my way through a handful of chords and some songs like Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Octopus's Garden, Hotel California, and Both Sides Now.  Since we were leaving to go on vacation to Ogunquit, ME shortly after my ukulele arrived, and I didn't want to lose out on a week of practice, I whipped up a carrying case from some fabric in my stash so I could take my uke to the beach.

ukulele case5

To make a pattern, I traced around the body and neck of the ukulele on pattern paper, adding seam allowances and wiggle-room to make it easy to take the uke out of the case and put it back in.  I also measured the depth of the ukulele, so I knew how wide to make my side panels.

Even though this is a cheap uke I bought online, I wanted the case to be durable enough to protect my instrument from bumps and scratches.  The case is made up of leftover quilting cotton from a few years ago, a layer of stiff interfacing, craft fleece, and a flannel lining.  If I was to make a uke case again, I'd use a different fusible interfacing than the craft kind I found, maybe a woven fusible.  The interfacing creases around the neck and isn't as stiff as I'd like it to be.  I'd also use fusible fleece instead of the regular fleece I had kicking around, it'd be much easier to work with.

ukulele case3

The zipper I used was a 36" robe zipper, so I cut two 36" rectangles half the width of the side panels and attached the zipper to the middle of the two pieces to create the zipper portion of the case side panel.  Then, I measured around the ukulele to see how long I needed to make the other side panel piece, cut it out, and sewed the short ends of the zippered panel to the new, shorter panel, forming a loop.

Sewing the side panel loop to the main body of the case was the hardest part - trying to get a reinforced rectangular piece to bend and form to the curves of the ukulele body made me want to tear my hair out!  Not gonna lie - there was some swearing and seam-ripping. 

ukulele case4

The easiest way I could figure out to sew the webbing strap on was to do it by hand before attaching the lining.  I pinned the strap onto the side of the case, playing around with the placement of the strap so the body would balance when holding the strap like a handle.  The nice thing about the length of the strap is that it can be worn on the shoulder, and it's not too long that I can't hold the strap in my hand if I feel like it.

ukulele case2

I carted my ukulele down to the beach every day on vacation last week to get my practice sessions in without worrying about it getting scratched or banged up, thanks to this little case.  Funny enough, a guy on a blanket next to us one day also brought his ukulele to the beach - his was much nicer and more expensive looking than mine,  but had a boring black case.  I think I definitely trumped him there with my apple-print case!

Now please excuse me, I need to practice learning Stairway to Heaven...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What's Next - Fall Sewing

Not too bad for one sewing session. The question is: will I finish it in time for the party tomorrow afternoon? Still have some fitting to do on the bodice...

I'm in-between sewing projects right now.  This summer hasn't been as productive for me as past summers, and the summertime is usually when I crank out a fair amount of projects, like easy sundresses and tops (however, I turned out the above dress for a party last weekend in less than 24 hours).  I guess it's due to: the mild summer, my more-intensive travel schedule the past few months for work, and because I already have a fair amount of summer me-mades in my closet.  There's a project or two I was planning on making before vacation in Maine this coming weekend, but when I look at my sewing pattern queue on Evernote, nothing is jumping out at me as a "must make now" project...except for what's on my fall sewing list.

That's right everyone, I'm starting my fall sewing now.  Call me a party-pooper, say I'm "rushing summer," but I really just want to dig in and start sewing now so I'm prepared for when the cool weather hits (and lasts a loooong time in New England).  We do that when it comes to spring/summer sewing, right?  So why not fall, I say.  Fabric and patterns I bought for this summer?  Step aside, you'll need to wait until 2015.

Fall 2014 is going to be all about jackets, I can feel it.  Blazers, bombers, boyfriend style, anoraks, toppers: I have JACKETS on the brain.  Oh, and pants, but I'm going to hold off a bit on tackling those again.  Here's what's haunting my stash right now:

Jackets 2014

McCall's 6711 - this is an awesome pattern collection of mix-and-match separates, and this blazer looks like a basic, easy-to-fit blazer with princess seams.  Lots of possibilities with this pattern.

Simplicity 1421 - a little bit of a longer blazer style, but what I like about this pattern are the different views with options for contrasting trim or the possibility to make the jacket out of ponte instead.  This one is unlined.

Rigel Bomber - I got bomber fever after seeing all of the great renditions of this jacket this spring!  I have a reversible black and white polka dot twill in my stash that I may use for this guy...

Minoru Jacket - I've had my eye on this pattern for awhile, and recently bought this pattern at the Grey's Fabric party a few weekends ago.  To hood or not to hood, that's the question.

Vogue 8884 - Morgan of Crab and Bee had a pattern contest this spring, and this is a pattern I won!  There's got some classic-style trench coat options, but I like the swingy silhouette of this topper.  Maybe a flannel-lined raincoat?

When do you decide to start sewing for new seasons?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sewing Treats


Whoa - it's August.  How can it be that we're in the last hey-days of summer already?  Personally, it's felt like a weird summer to me with the weather - it was such a cool spring, and then it got hot all of a sudden, but not the kind of hot where you crave the beach (at least in my opinion).  There's been some perks though: cool nights for sleeping with the windows open a lot, beautiful morning temps for running outside before work, low/no humidity.  I'm just worried with my beach vacation to Maine in two weeks that the weather won't be not enough up north for swimming in the ocean!

Maine is my second summer vacation, I went to visit my family in PA two weeks ago with Chris.  It was so nice - (almost) 100% unplugged from work, hanging out with my family, just decompressing.  That doesn't mean I didn't do anything sewing related, though!  My mom and I went to a quilt show in Hershey, PA one afternoon, where I unexpectedly found some great sewing goodies, like the above vintage sewing pattern decorated with buttons.  I thought it would look cute in a frame on the wall over my sewing area.

The mother-load of the day was this:



This is 100% lint free poly-wrapped polyester thread from Superior Threads.  My mom told me about how some of her quilting friends raved about the quality of Superior Threads, so I was curious to see if they had any thread suitable for garment sewing.  I squealed when the vendor showed me thread that's good for sergers and garment sewing.  I'm not going to lie - this stuff is not cheap.  However, when you consider the money invested in a serger and how much you use it (I use it a ton!!), it's a shame to gunk it up with cheapy, linty thread from Joann Fabrics.  At 6,000 yds per spool, this seemed well-worth the money, and it's been wonderful to sew with.  It's a bit heavier weight than the Toldi Lock I used to use, but the stitches look more professional and smooth.  Can you tell from above photo that I stocked up??  You can learn more about Omni thread and see the colors available here.

Going along with the whole theme of lint-free serging and sewing, I finally bought a micro vacuum attachment kit to suck up all the dust bunnies from my Bernina and Babylock.  It's one of those things where I don't know whyyyyy I waited so long to buy one.

Here's the before vacuuming photos of my Babylock (no scolding!):

Evil lint monsters!  You escape my lint brush every time!

Begone, lint!!  You will torment the insides of my serger no more!

Have you treated yourself to any sewing treats lately?