Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sew Grateful: Chicago Social Sewing

Friends, I've been wanting to participate in the lovely Debi's Sew Grateful event for some time.  While I know it's still a week away, I wanted to share with you this fabulous sewing event I hosted this past weekend.

As you know from this post, I recently hosted a free sewing class in my apartment for anyone who wanted to learn how to sew buttons.  I am so grateful to have learned this incredible skill and I wanted to share my passion with anyone who wanted to learn. The response was astounding: 12 people showed up for an afternoon of food, laughter, and learning.  It was an honor to have them all in my home and be able to teach them something I love so dearly. 

Pictures by my darling friend, Mina, who was trying out her new camera lens.  I will definitely be framing some of these for my sewing room.

Our delightful spread of food.

My thread and scissors collection.

 Close up of my bobbins.

One of my favorites.

I used my flower bowls to hold the two-hole, four-hole, and shank buttons.

The finished cinnamon rolls.  They didn't last long after this photo was taken!

Homemade tamales from here

Needles!  Get 'em while they're hot!

My friends, both old and new, were all so focused and determined.  I could not have taught a more fabulous group.

This is your sampler, mmmkay?

Selecting demonstration buttons.

A back view of my thread holder - possibly one of my favorite things that Mama Grand passed onto me.

Fixing the random thread loops.

A close up of the pinking shears - these were much loved by all.

Mina's pristine and perfect sampler.  

Inspecting their handiwork - I've never seen such lovely stitching!

My friends were diligent and energetic and open-minded - everything I could ever ask for in a sewing group.  I don't need to tell you how excited I am about teaching them hem stitches and hooks & eyes!

How are you celebrating Sew Grateful Week, friends?  Let me know what you're planning in the comments below!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday, my darling friends!

The oh-so-lovely Christine from What's Up, Cupcake?  asked me to stop by for a little chat.

How could I refuse?  She is a total kindred spirit!  Make sure you check out her fabulous featured spot on the Sew Weekly!!

Links I am loving today:

I am going to make so many of these - a fantastic way to use up scraps!

I think this might be one of my favorite articles that Peter has ever written.

This couch - WOW.

Sally's article on tights is perfect for all Midwesterners who don't want to give up skirts and dresses during winter.

This dress - it's amazing.

I've started embroidering.  I completely blame Donna and Lee for making it look so enticing.

I keep this article near my desk at work - it's been helping with the nail biting resolution.

And finally...

We have a big problem: Vogue Patterns released their 2012 designs, and my wallet looked at me in a panic.

Vogue 1296 was the first thing I saw in my inbox when I got up this morning.  This image prompted me to get out of bed and rush to my computer for a closer look.  That neckline is a beauty!  I'm not much for peplums, but wow, I would totally love to make this and wear it everywhere.

Vogue 1285 is a beauty.  A simple dress with clean, classic lines and this fabulous little addition : "Lining forms attached slip with shoulder and lingerie straps." I would need to make the hem a bit longer, but mock wrap dresses go pretty far in my closet.

I only have one issue with Vogue 1281: You never see a picture of the dress on the model while she is just facing forward and standing still.  You get the best idea of this dress from the detail sketch below the images. With that said, it's a beautiful dress.  The description: "Dress has no side seams, very close-fitting, lined bodice, single-layer, pleated shoulder strap looped through front pleated drape, front wrap skirt cut-in-one with back, raised waist, and invisible back zipper." That sounds complicated ... I like it!

While we already have a mock wrap dress above, the collection does include an actual wrap dress: Vogue 8784. This pattern includes two options for the skirt: an A-line and a semi-fitted pleated skirt.  I don't recall seeing many wrap dress patterns that have included a semi-fitted option, but I am all for this choice - it would definitely add to the corporate wardrobe I have assembled in my closet.

Vogue 1282 is a top/skirt combo, with some lovely draping details on the top.  I love the skirt - it seems to emphasize curves and has one scandalous slit.  It's on the maybe list, as there might not be enough occasions to wear this, but I still love the idea of it.

Vogue 1280 is pretty fabulous in terms of construction.  Look at those bands of fabric!  Shoulder straps, insets, AND overlapped seam detail.  Tres chic, y'all. 

I love this blouse, Vogue 8790.  I would make this with all the leftover spandex from my Little Mermaid running costume.  It would be totally amazing and shiny.

Onto the Vintage Vogue patterns:  I found it slightly disappointing that they did not include the artist renderings of the original designs, but that's just me. 

Vogue 8788 is a back wrap dress (my, we have so many different varieties of wrap dresses here - I LOVE IT) and reminds me of the Butterick 4790.  What do you think?

The other Vintage Vogue pattern is Vogue 8789.  It's a lovely dress in this print, and I love the contrast cummerbund, but doesn't it seem a little ... simple (construction wise)? I guess when I see a Vogue pattern, I automatically assume there is going to be some degree of hair pulling, and this looks deceptively easy.  I almost want to try just to confirm my suspicions.

Friends, what are your thoughts on the new Vogue patterns?  Love them, hate them?  Boil 'em, mash 'em, put 'em in a stew?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sew Weekly Challenge: Make This Look or the "At Last" Blouse

Friends, so far this year I have used the Colette Patterns Taffy and Ceylon. Why quit while I'm ahead?  For this challenge, I finally settled on making a luscious Jasmine blouse (and by finally settled, I mean that this was the third project I had attempted for this challenge.  You'll get to see the failures later this week).

 My "Make This Look" inspiration was none other than fashionista Sarai, whose amazing polka dot Jasmine made me long for a navy blue one of my very own.

The shirt was made with navy polyester from my stash - it has the perfect amount of drape for this pattern, I think. I wore this ensemble to work today - the skirt is from a refashion seen here.  It's always nice to find an outfit that fits corporate America's standards while letting me flex my sewing muscle.

While I really love the look of this blouse, I definitely am having issues with the facings.  They keep popping up even though I've tacked them down in spots.  It makes the shirt sit a little oddly, but I'm hoping with some ironing and washing it will relax a little.  

It's a fabulous, versatile piece - perfect for work or play - and I can see myself making several of these in the future in all colors (and by all colors, I mean various shades of orange).

Friends, I know some of you have tried the Jasmine blouse pattern.  Any further recommendations on making the facings lay flat?  If you would let me know, I would greatly appreciate it!

Have a great day all, and stay warm - it's brisk out there today!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Coke vs Pepsi: The Ultimate Fashion Showdown

Friends, I've been on a real refashioning kick lately.  I finally got the chance to tackle one of my most favorite pieces ever:  Mama Grand's Coca Cola Sweatshirt. 

 No, seriously.  It says Coca-Cola right there.

I absolutely love that it is a mix of cartography and cola, and I've been WAITING for Mama G to say I could have it.  Once it was in my greedy little paws, the ideas began.  Shall I make into a skirt? A hoodie?  When I told Mama G of all my ideas, she gasped.  Obviously she was not a fan of my completely refashioning her shirt.  I decided to stick with it as a sweatshirt but with some alterations.  Both parties were pleased with this idea.

And then this dude walked in.  (No, seriously.  It says Pepsi.  He's owned this for at least twenty years.)

I was all like HELL NO.  We are not going to the grocery all matchy matchy. I am Queen Supreme, zero calories and refreshing flavor.  Rob was all, my sweater is more awesomesauce and I am not clear anymore so that makes me better. " I am Coke Zero." " I am Pepsi One."

(Wasn't the clear stuff nasty?  I mean, really...what was Pepsi thinking?)

Eventually I won, with my new fabulous gathered sleeves and taken-in sides. (No, Rob, I will not gather your sleeves.)  And by winning I mean I didn't have to carry the bag with the milk AND the orange juice.  It's the little things, really.

Friends, please help settle this matter once and for all with your comments! Whoever loses has to make dinner this weekend, so please help this recipe challenged girl out and say that Coke totally beats Pepsi, hands down :)

XOXOXO Have a great night, all!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sew Weekly Challenge: Buttons or "How Green Was My Button" Dress

Friends, when I first saw this challenge come across the screen, I knew exactly what I wanted to try: Colette Patterns Ceylon Dress.  I bought the dress pattern months ago knowing it would eventually need to be made and my fear of buttonholes conquered.  I also knew that this challenge would be the perfect chance to try my hand at this tutorial I found via Pinterest.  I was so excited to see that I could dye buttons!  I, for one, must have at least 100 white mismatched buttons that could easily be dyed.  I was pumped.

(Pardon the face.  My skin was sticking to the ice cold metal pole I was leaning against.)

My main issue with dyeing buttons is that I needed to use almost an entire bottle of Rit Forest Green liquid dye to dye 16 buttons.  These went into a dye bath four times, and yet, are mossy and not dark at all.  I was originally working for these buttons to match the piping on the dress, but it was not meant to be.  I would say that the buttons are the only thing I am disappointed about in regards to this dress.

Aside from the mossy bits of sadness, I LOVE this dress.  I was not really crazy about it until I tried it on - and then I was oh so pleasantly surprised by how flattering the cut was, how great the neckline lays, and how the sleeves have just the right amount of Anne of Green Gables puff to them. 

This dress took about 14 hours to make.  I took my time, which is quite amazing, considering how impatient I am in real life.  I flat lined each piece with a white bed sheet, I basted piping onto the un-interfaced pieces before sewing the seam, and I even hand stitched the hem.  I so desperately wanted for this dress to turn out like I had imagined, and I worked slowly with that goal in mind. 

The piping might be one of my favorite parts of the whole dress.  While I was working, I remembered this dress I had made some time ago, and how the dress (green shamrocks on white background) needed a little oomph.  Noticing the similarities in fabric between that dress and this Ceylon, I knew that I needed piping in order to make the fabric pop and not let my skin get completely washed out by the white background.

I could not be more pleased by the final version of this dress!  I recommend this pattern for anyone who is looking for a challenge and is willing to take their time.  The steps were clear and easy - there were just more of these than usual!

I apologize for the photos - the best ones seem to be from the elevator ride in our building.  My kind photographer stood on the rails to take these pictures.  I thought for sure he would bust his head on the ceiling, but he came out relatively unscathed.
Why no photos outside, you ask?

While it's called the "Windy City" for political reasons, it is totally weather appropriate for 360 days out of the year.

Friends, I hope you are keeping warm where you are, and if you've tried the Ceylon pattern in the past, post a link in the comments - I would love to see your versions!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Great Aunt Refashions: Tee Shirt Tutorial

Friends, on my most recent trip home for the holidays, I was alerted to the presence of a bag sitting in the bottom of my old bedroom closet.  I opened the bag to find some fabulous items of clothing that all needed a little bit of love.  Apparently, my great aunt was doing some closet cleaning and Mama Grand thought I might be able to use the clothes for something.  Oh yes...*maniacally rubs hands together*

In the bag was this fabulous striped tee!  It originally had some spots on the front in the yellow area.

Want to see how I fixed it so those spots never show?

It's tutorial time!

To start, I assessed the damage.  I could only find two spots on the shirt that needed to be addressed, and one was directly in front on the yellow stripe. After checking for spots on the back of the shirt and finding it clean, I decided to flip this shirt around.

First, I moved the shirt around on Emma, making the original front the new back.  I then traced my neckline (using a handy compass - much more useful for sewing than math, I say) down to the spot.

Here is the original back prepped to be the new front.  I've removed the sleeves and pinned in the side seams.  I like my t-shirts fitted, which works well with the scoop back.  Less gappage = less bra showing. 

I drew the front neckline free-hand, making sure to to draw around the original neckline and tags.

Next: Cut out your necklines.  Please do not cut the neckline while you are wearing you shirt as this might be awkward and slightly dangerous.

The new front neckline:

The new back:

Next, I took the bottom of an old white t-shirt and cut one long continuous strip to use as trim around the neckline.  I machine stitched the trim to the right side of the fabric before hand stitching it closed on the wrong side.  I prefer not to have my stitches show (because it tends to get sketchy when I machine stitch), but if you prefer using a sewing machine, I say go for it!


Repeat the trim process on the sleeves.

Voila!  A fabulous new top that is stain free until you eat your first meal that involves sauce.

Have a fantastic Saturday, all!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sew Weekly Challenge: Accessorize or "The Tardis Taffy"

Friends, it should come as no surprise that I chose Doctor Who as my inspiration for the first official challenge of the year.  I mean, I have the shoes, I'm making my bedroom into a spaceship, and my hand is still cramped from making the scarf

Not too long ago, I had some fabulous Tardis jewelry come into my possession via The Sisters Ruehl Etsy Shop.  I grabbed the necklace first, but then *gasp* there were earrings, too!  Now I just needed an outfit.  Enter this challenge + the Colette Sewing Handbook...

and a shooty dog thing.

 I made this fabulous Taffy with some polyester that I have been keeping in my stash for what seems like forever.  I only had large scraps to work with, but I was determined because this fabric is AWESOME.

I'm in love with the sheer portions of this shirt.  I didn't cut the shirt on the bias just so I could have the sheer stripes running vertically.  I love the way these appear on the curve of the sleeve. 

Making this shirt was a breeze aside from hand sewing the trim onto the sleeve edge.  I chose to hand sew because my machine tends to eat edges and I really wanted my stitching to be hidden.
The back was pieced together from two sheer portions of the shirt.  I'm so glad I kept this tan tank top!

I did have some issues sewing through the polyester - it seemed to resist every single machine needle.  My French seams are a mess but they are FRENCH SEAMS.  I was so excited to finally learn this skill!   Once I got the hang of it, it was a total piece of cake.  French seams will be making regular appearances on my garments from here on out.
Here's a picture of me waiting for that silly Doctor to show up.  He's late per usual... which might be a good thing this time because OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BOTTOM OF MY SKIRT?!

It appears the seam binding I used from my stash bled through and stained my fabric.  Once I came to grips with this fact, I trucked myself up to the local Hancock Fabrics (and by local I mean it takes an hour to get there on the Red Line) to buy black dye.  Black dye covers all manner of sins, right?  Imagine my shock when Hancock Fabrics was out of black dye.  FAIL.  I'll never make that trip again.

It only leads me to wonder how long the skirt has looked like this and I haven't noticed.  Obviously I still didn't notice when these pictures were taken ... but I found out shortly after.  Oy.

A close up of my jewelry.  Isn't it fab?  Now I just need a mini Matt Smith or David Tennant to come running out of it.  I wonder where I could buy one of those...

And finally, a video for all of you of me and my pup :)

Have a fantastic day, all!  And I'm so glad I'm not the only Doctor Who (or Downton Abbey) fan out there!