Saturday, August 23, 2014

/LAkeside PJs

I'm a really highfalutin thinker/post namer, you guys.
These are the Lakeside PJs and they're made from fabric I got in L.A.

They're a rayon crepe de chine, which I had always fantasized about, but never actually encountered in the flesh (fiber) before. Very pleased with the super silkiness. Sometimes I feel a little guilt in my love for rayon, since it is a semi-synthetic fiber (but derived from natural materials), but then I wrap myself in some rayon (or rayon/cotton blend for guilt-lessening softness) and my doubts melt away.
One thing is for sure: It's the perfect pajama fabric.

Not sure about the print... reptile? oil spill?

I didn't use wide elastic in the waistband because it would wear on this fabric really easily, and I don't like the feel of really stiff, wide elastic under thin and silky fabric. Also, I have tons of 1/4" elastic, so it worked out. I just made two 3/8" channels and shimmied that elastic right through, resulting in a nice lightweight waistband.

Be warned: If you're not feeling really jazzed about sewing bias binding on that particular day, do not even attempt these. Sewing time on these guys works out to 5% seams, 95% bias making/applying. I did the math. If you don't own a bias tape maker, it will make your money well-spent list after the first yard, I promise!

All that tiny baby bias is worth it though, once you feel those silky back flaps fluttering as you walk across the room.

pattern: Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas
fabric: rayon crepe de chine from Fabric Planet in Venice, CA (ok so not really LA. Whatevs.)
handmade pj set tally: three (one and two)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

/pineapple playsuit

It's not often I get started on a sewing project knowing that I'm not going to get a lot of wear out of it, and still carry on. Generally with sewing and ready-to-wear, I need to answer the question "could I be wearing this ten years from now?" with a resounding yes.

But for summer?
Come on- that's way too reasonable.
I need to get at least a little crazy. Afterall, I was headed to southern California where this new garment would happen to fit in perfectly with all those palms and whatnot...

The sun-bleached photo strikes again! Poolside! I also wore this bowling, please imagine w/ bowling shoes.

No, this crazy didn't just happen, I was on a mission. I bought McCall's 6083 on a whim, then got this intense urge to make it with a rayon challis in a vintage-look Hawaiian pineapple print. The problem being that I had no such fabric. I sort of pride myself on being able to find ridiculously specific things I get in my head on the internet, so this seemed doable. 

Not so. I went on an hours-long HUNT for a fabric within my parameters and almost gave in to a rayon challis that was too expensive, in the wrong colors, and with no pineapples.

A few days later, I miraculously came across Wanderlust fabrics and then this AMAZING pineapple hibiscus rayon challis. It was on its way within minutes!

Since I was already committed to this print, I just went full-on vintage Hawaii themed and bought some crochet (was trying to find more of a macrame look) trim and stained wood beads. Just seemed like the natural thing to do. Absolutely worth the hand sewing.

The only thing I remember doing differently than the pattern was eliminating the back neck facing, opting for bias binding. Ew, I really despise facings and all their general flappiness, so I try to eliminate them as often as possible. "Invisibly" hand sewing them down to a single layer of fabric is even worse. I also lengthened the bodice by 2" for my long torso to ensure my wearing experience was sans-cameltoe.
A good note; this pattern has the best pockets! I'm plotting a pair of pants using them.

I know this thing won't get a whole lot of wear, but I think it's served its purpose for the time being. It will certainly serve another by cheering me up in the middle of winter when I see a sliver of it in my closet!

If after that first photo you put money on me getting a nasty sunburn before this vacay was over, congratulations, you've won.
And the back of my legs certainly lost.

Friday, July 25, 2014

/the bossy dress shirt

Motivated by Morgan and Sally's awesome exchange last month, Katie (of What Katie Sews) and I decided to initiate our own installation of the Sew Bossy Initiative (Originated by Heather and Oona). I'm pretty impressed with how fast we were able to get this together, considering we're all the way across the globe from each other!

We exchanged a couple likes and dislikes, and both agreed on picking projects that would be good for the summer weather. Gotta take advantage of that ever-reclusive sun!

I was super excited to open my package and find:
1) Amazing handwoven nubby eco-friendly cotton from India.
Easy care fabric with great texture? YES PLEASE.
2) The Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt pattern(!!!)
3) The most adorable embroidery scissors in a super cute Liberty print holder. I am such a scissor fiend (but aren't all sewers?)
It really doesn't get any more British than this, folks. Katie sure knows how to pick 'em.

We've been having great weather, so I kept on putting off "officially" photographing this dress until the last minute (of course) and now it's POURING outside (of course) so all I'm left with are a couple super golden sun-drenched sunset phone photos from a wedding I went to a couple weeks ago.
Side note: Someone at the wedding said I looked like a "grown-up Madeline", which is basically the best outfit comment I've ever received. That mischievous redhead was always a kindred spirit.

Here. It's much easier to just have the dress form model. 

This pattern was really enjoyable to put together; not so boring you'll fall asleep, but not difficult at all. While cutting, I decided what was so great about this fabric. It's striped, but you DON'T HAVE TO MATCH THE STRIPES! I felt like such a cheater playing with the stripe direction to my heart's content and only worrying about being on grain! The front yoke panels ended up cut on the bias and the back yoke perpendicular to the main body. This dress has really nice details and just the right amount of them; I love the oversized bib and feel like the pleat below it is really lengthening.
I contemplated shortening the hem quite a bit, but decided to try it out in the original midi-length just to see what it would look like on me. Turns out, I love the length and the shirttail hem does flash a little lower side-knee. Mmmhmmm.

 Thanks so much Katie bossing me into such a great project! It's already getting its share of wear.

p.s. Check out Katie's project here!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

/beachy archer popover

I made this popover at the end of February, after I saw and promptly ordered this Steven Alan striped shirting from Mood. Upon the fabric's arrival, this shirt immediately popped into my brain (pun so intended) and subsequently out of my sewing machine. Unfortunately, it was still February and as you can see, nothing about this shirt says 'February in Washington'. I get more of a summertime 60's California beach vibe from it, but I think that's the stripes and coconut buttons talking. I could definitely hang with the Beach Boys in this thing.

You probably already guessed that this is yet another Grainline Archer shirt; complete with the hotly anticipated (by me) popover placket variation. I noticed this style when it started showing up at j.crew a few years ago, and now I'm seeing them everywhere, including many sewers' closets; Yuzukat's awesome chambray version (you know I'm going there soon), this beautiful bright white staple from Crafty Little Bugger, and from Oh She Dabbles, a cuuuute floral sleeveless version. I'll take one of each.

Here's the back, no big deal. My only regret is that it slipped my mind to place the stripes on the yoke horizontally. Just personal preference. When cutting, I get into a stripe-matching groove and apparently cannot stop. If I write it down here, I won't forget next time... or so I hope!

Regardless of the yoke misstep, I was very happy to add this to the rotation this Me Made May. Hopefully I'll get to channel my inner 60's Beach Gal in California this summer, too!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

/my favorite quilting tools (for sewing garments)

A few years ago, I read about how great fork pins were in Threads magazine, but it was just a name drop with no picture. After scouring the notions aisle of the craft store, I finally asked a sales assistant who kindly directed me to the quilting section. AHA! How I had been unknowingly bypassing this section my whole life, I do not know. Since then, I've picked up a few other notions mostly advertised as quilting aids but are awesome for garment sewing too:

Mary Ellen's Best Press
I stumbled into this stuff at a local quilt shop. I had never used spray starch before, but this non-aerosol starch alternative was intriguing, so I looked up reviews on my phone (yep, I'm that shopper) and was reeled in. Now I'm totally hooked. The sprayer produces a nice fine mist and it makes things crisp. 'Nuff said.

Clover fork pins
These pins are really helpful in matching stripes, plaids and seams. If you're as stripe-obsessed as me, these will come in handy. Slip these in with one prong on either side of the seam/stripe you're matching and it will not shift. I don't have a walking foot (Bernina walking foot = $$$), but this and a few other tools/techniques help to perfect the matching.

4.5" quilting grid
This little guy is really helpful when you need to cut perfect 45 degree angles on your bias tape ends, but don't want to take the whole thing over to the cutting mat. Also handy if you've misplaced your seam gauge for the thousandth time... not that I'm speaking from experience...

Clover Wonder Clips
An alternative to pins. Useful when sewing: bias binding, leather, oil cloth or anything that would scar from being pinned. I'm sure these were just as popular before I got some last year, but now it seems like I'm seeing them everywhere, being used for so many different applications!
Bonus: They're kind of cute and so is their name.

Anyway, I wanted to post about these tools not only to share the goodness, but because I want to know your favorites! Any tips on tools that everyone (or just me) is passing by?
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