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I made another shirt! Some of you might remember when I made this red and white wearable muslin, and now I’ve finally finished the real deal shirt.
This blouse is a shortened version of the Vogue dress pattern V1152 made in a super soft I dunno what….poly/cotton, probably? I was surprised when I finished this shirt because when I bought the fabric and as it was coming together I was sure that the print was mostly navy blue with some bright flowers splashed across it. Now that it’s finished I can clearly see that the navy blue barely shows at all!!! (And in all the photos it actually looks black. But I swear it’s blue).
After making the muslin I brought the neckline up a full 3.5 inches! It’s definitely way better, but surprisingly I think I’d still need to wear a camisole under it, if only to prevent gaping when I lean over.
I also took a bit out of the front side panels along the princess seams. Even with taking it in a few inches though, I still opted to take the side zipper out. The elastic back and enormous sleeves/armholes made it easy enough to pull over my head and my not-so-awesome zipper skills made the zipper look just a little too obvious.
The shirt has a curved hemline and I tried really hard to keep it from going all wobbly but I had a little trouble. I got the curve above my hip ok (once I ironed it out), but I feel like the lower point as it transitions into the front ended up too sharp.
I had looked up online the secret to making a curved hem and tried stay-stitching it before I sewed it, but it didn’t help. Oh well!
I’m really pleased with how the front detail worked out though. This was my first time doing piping and I think it turned out lovely! I used my zipper foot to sew as closely in to the piping as possible (it also turned out a lot more even and less wonky than in my muslin).
I didn’t worry about making pretty seams with this shirt. The fabric doesn’t seem to fray much and it was a more complicated pattern. I thought if I started messing around with French seams I would probably just mess it up.
The pattern instructions suggested a lot of hand sewing – all around the yoke, the sleeve cuffs and the front panel. I didn’t feel like doing that. So wherever I could I just did some top stitching in the ditch instead.
The front shoulder is, I think, the worst seam and the stitching is still barely noticeable. I’m all for quality sewing but why make life harder than it needs to be?
I just want to take a minute to thank Jillian of Refashionista for featuring my Ele-Fun Refashion on her blog today! I love her blog, her creative refashions, and her conscientious approach to fashion and it was so amazing to see my very own re-refashion on Refashionista (that’s a lot of “refashion”)!
I can tell from my stats that many of you are joining me for the first time from her blog – Welcome!!! To help orient you and give you an idea of what I do here, I thought I’d share a link to my “Best of 2013” blog, so you can see some of my favorite projects and what I’m planning to do this year. Check it out here. And this is actually a good day to join me because this is a tutorial based on my elephant skirt refashion.
Ok. On to the tutorial. Bias tape is a folded strip of fabric that’s been cut on the bias and is used to add a decorative trim or to help finish edges like a neckline or armhole. When fabric is cut on the bias, it means that it is cut on an angle across the grain line.
Bias tape can bend with curved shapes (like armholes) and stay smooth, where tape not cut on the bias would go all wonky. Technically, the tape I made for trim on the sleeves of my elephant top isn’t bias tape because I cut it on the grain, not on the bias (I din’t bother because the sleeve wasn’t a curved shape).
Here is a great tutorial on how to cut the strips to make your bias tape using just a 10″ square of fabric.
Once you’ve got your strips, making bias tape is a cinch if you’ve got a bias tape maker. You can find fancy schmancy ones that heat and press the tape as it moves through the machine but in my humble opinion, you don’t need it. All you need is one of these simple bias tape makers;
Feed your strips of fabric into the large open at the back of the bias tape maker. Especially with flimsy fabric like mine, it can be really difficult to get it fed through the machine, so I always use something like a hem ruler to push it through.
When making your own bias tape, you can adjust the widths of the folded edges by how you feed it through the mechanism. As the folded tape comes out, I press it using my iron and gently pull the bias tape maker.
Once you’ve got your strip with the two long edges folded and pressed, you just need to fold it in half lengthways and press it again.
There are so many fantastic tutorials online for attaching bias tape, that I decided not to make another and instead to direct to a couple that shows different ways you can use bias tape; either visible, or not, (also these two on knits here and here).
So go ahead, get crazy with your bad bias tape self!
Quite a while ago now I made a total impulse purchase and bought myself some wonderfully soft bright floral fabric with the idea that I would sew myself a dress. When I got it home and held it up to myself though, the print seemed like it would be too overwhelming in a dress and so I decided on a blouse instead.
I originally wanted to make a button-up blouse but I’m not confident with sewing obvious button holes just yet and my machine has a tendency to catch when sewing them. I still wanted that general look though, and for the shirt to be a bit more fitted than the Mathildes I’ve been sewing lately. I landed on a Rebecca Taylor for Vogue dress pattern, V1152, and decided to shorten it into a shirt.
I found a few bloggers who had made it and most raised the neckline a little to decrease the depth of the V and make it a little more modest, and some also had to increase the bodice length to get proper placement of the gathered detail under the bust. I hummed and hawed and hummed and hawed and finally decided that with my large bust and limited experience patterns, I should make a muslin first. And if you’re bothering to make a muslin, why not make a (hopefully) wearable one?!
I pulled some red and white polk-a-dot quilting cotton out of my stash that I had found at Goodwill for $1.99 and figured it would do the trick! I always check out the textiles section whenever I’m in a thrift store, it can be a great place to find inexpensive fabric for making muslins!
I only had 1 meter of the red fabric, but seriously guys, you have never seen someone get so much out of so little fabric! I literally only had a handful of mini-scraps left after cutting. I felt compelled to commemorate my achievement with photographic evidence. The leftovers;
Even with my creative cutting I still have a couple weird seams (hidden in gathers) and some pattern pieces that needed to be cut from white. Oh yeah, and no sleeves either (I’m not worried about fitting those on the final garment since they are heavily gathered).
You’ll notice immediately that the neckline is quite…ahem….plunging. I measured it out and I’ll need to raise it 3.5 inches to make it at all wearable without a cami underneath! Even with this one it seems like the neckline gapes a little where it comes to a V and I think I might be able to stitch it up a couple inches to make this muslin more wearable. I safety pinned it so you could see what I mean.
I was pleasantly surprised though that the gathered detail at the front actually sat below my bust without making any adjustments. Usually those details end up at nipple height on me with RTW tops!
Upon flicking through the photos though I did notice a troubling detail; I managed to make a big sticky-outy gather right in the middle of the bottom bodice piece. A closer look for you;
When I make the real version I’ll have to be careful to make sure my gathering is even and that I’m not adding belly bulk. Might not be such a big deal though because the fabric I’ll use for the real version has much better drape than this relatively stiff quilting cotton.
The back came out pretty well, although I can’t quite decide if there’s a bit too much fabric in the gather, or if it just looks that way because I used a stiffer quilting cotton. The elastic in the back though (and lack of sleeve) meant that I could leave the zipper out of this muslin, which was nice because I get lazy sometimes.
Honestly, although this is technically a wearable muslin I’m not sure how much wear it will actually get. Red is just not a color I wear much and I usually prefer tops with at least a little cap sleeve. Adding a little white cardigan definitely helps with the wearability for me!
I also took in the shirt a bit – more at the waist and hips because I’m narrower there. I think this muslin, wearable or not, served it’s purpose as a dry run so I can cut my good fabric with confidence now that I’ve made not of all the adjustments I need to make!
The gathers and elastic back really make the shirt comfortable and once I correct the gaping bustline issue I think it’ll be a really comfy top to wear.
See? It’s so comfy I can do jazz hands in it!
And just because it’s Jungle January….
Crazy eyes in a crazy print Mathilde blouse! I could not get a reasonable picture of myself today! Well….I’ve started off 2014 a little behind the ball and have been trying to catch up on promises made and deferred maintenance spilling over from last year. As a consequence it’s been two weeks since I posted last – oops!
I made my first Mathilde blouse last year, and almost immediately moved onto this one. But some earlier errors and frustrations have kept me from finishing it until now. I LOVE my first version of this blouse and am still completely in love with this pattern. But this version….mmmmm…..maybe not so much.
The main problem is that I just chose the wrong fabric, plain and simple. This fabric is a really breezy cotton lawn that I got for about $6/yd at Discount Fabrics. The problem is that the fabric is a little too flimsy and I didn’t know how to deal with the seams properly so just from trying it on during fitting, the back seam is already giving. D’oh!
I’m worried that I’ll be stretching for something one day and will just hear “Riiiiiiiiiiiiip!”. The other thing I don’t like about this fabric is the print. I’m always attracted to loud colors and fun prints but I sometimes fail to consider how they’ll actually look as a garment. This print in the finished top reminds me of a duty shirt that a vet or dental assistant would wear. Sad face.
Last time I made this blouse I went with the tucks instead of gathers across the front. Because it was more fitted I added some width to the front bodice to make sure it would fit over my bust. Since this one was gathered I assumed I wouldn’t need to do that. Errrrrrr! Wrong! The front yoke was actually too narrow so after assembling the whole shirt I had to take it all apart, cut a new yoke and reassemble. Lesson learned! I’m glad I didn’t add an extra width to the bodice front though, it is already very loose on me and would’ve looked a little maternity-esque with any more volume.
The other change I made to the front yoke was to lower the neckline by about an inch. I’m not sure that I like that change. I might just leave it alone next time. I do think the gathers look quite nice though.
I also made the short-sleeved version of this dress, but to add a more structured shape, I added cuffs to the sleeves. I made the same alteration to my last Mathilde and just used the cuff pieces as patterned, but I’ve found the cuffs are a bit tight on my huge guns. So this time I added about an inch when cutting the cuff pieces and they’re definitely more comfortable.
Finally, I also eliminated the back button placket as I did with the last blouse and for the same reason; I thought it would look too busy to have a button placket with such a busy pattern. I left an opening at the top of the back seam and made a button closure, but especially with the lowered neckline, I definitely could have sewn it all the way to the top and still easily fit my head through. The bright yellow button is a cute detail though!
Having made this pattern twice now, one piece of advice I have for tall ladies (I’m 5’10”) is to add lots of length to the bottom. I added a couple inches (and did a double turn hem) and am definitely going to let it out as much as I possibly can to try to get a bit more length. At it’s current length I don’t feel like I could tuck it in if I wanted.
So there we have it. I’m still in love with Tilly’s pattern, but not in love with this version that I’ve made. Thoughts to make it feel less like a pediatric nurse’s scrub top???
After Thanksgiving Morgan wrote a lovely post over at Crab & Bee about her heirloom button collection and it inspired me to dig through my mother’s button collection while I was home for Christmas this year. Both she and my granny sewed as hobbies but the real seamstress in the family was my great grandmother. Apparently her home was full of stacks of Vogue magazines and she could pretty much sew up anything she found in there!
As we sorted through the buttons we found some that my mom remembered from various projects or clothes and some family heirlooms (of course she claimed all the ugly ones were inherited from her mother’s button collection, lol).
One of the cute fabric covered buttons I found she remembered from a maternity top she wore when pregnant with me and we were even able to find a photo of her wearing it!
It was fun to dig through the jar and find little bits of history like this button off her Brownie uniform when she was a little girl. (Are the Brownies a thing in the US? It’s part of the Girl Guide system.) Apparently when learning to darn her Brownie leader told her that she’d never find a husband if she kept darning so poorly. She didn’t stay in Brownies for long.
She was pretty sure that somewhere in the big jar o’ buttons was a little gold button off her dad’s Royal Canadian Air Force uniform in the 50’s. So I dug and dug and eventually found it! How cool to be able to go through the buttons with my mom. I probably wouldn’t have given any of them a second look if she hadn’t been there to tell me about their history.
The button trip down memory lane inspired us to go digging through her cedar chest for some other gems. In addition to the scarf that went with the button above on her Brownie uniform, we also found a plaid scarf that my grandmother had sewn.
Inspecting the seams I realized that my impatience with finishing sewing projects isn’t my fault….it’s genetic! See? My granny ran out of the navy thread halfway through the scarf and switched to a light blue instead of waiting until she got more navy thread! God forbid anyone inspect the seams of anything I’ve sewn, lol!
We found this adorable little jacket that her mother had sewn her as a baby. I remember using it as dress-up doll clothes when I was a little girl!
What a great way to spend a morning digging through my family’s sewing tradition! Thanks to Morgan of Crab & Bee for inspiring me!
First, because everyone else is doing it….
2013 was a big crafting/sewing year for me, mostly because I’ve been out of full time work since July while waiting for my Green Card (arrived in October! Woot!). I finally had the time I wanted to put into making things and working on this blog. Thinking about my Top 5 Hits of the year, many of them are more about what stop the project represents along my handmade journey rather than the finished product (though I love the finished products too!) So. Without further ado, my Top 5 Hits of 2013!
5. Elbow Patch Appliques
My husband’s favorite sweater finally got a hole in the elbow this year and, inspired by some street fashion he saw in NYC, I made some plaid elbow patches to repair his sweater (tutorial here). This makes the Hit List firstly because he loves the sweater even more now than he did before! But secondly, it represents the emphasis I put on repair and reuse this year. I’m always tempted by wanting shiny new things but I recognize that it’s more important to me to exercise responsible consumption and to save our money for experiences and our future. I get a certain pride from knowing that I’ve extended the life of something, saved it from the landfill and saved some money.
4. The Eva Dress
I made my version of the Eva dress (free pattern from Your Style Rocks) back in August and I think I’ve worn it twice (which is actually a lot for me to wear a dress in 5 months!). Inspired by many of the blogs I follow, this dress represents one of my first steps toward making things that I actually wear. I thought about my wardrobe, what was missing and what I thought I could use more of (casual but pretty jersey dresses) and decided on this pattern. This thought process will hopefully lead to me actually wearing the clothes I wear rather than leaving them hanging in the closet when I just see a pretty pattern or fabric without really thinking about how it will work with my existing wardrobe or how I’d wear it.
3. Striped Tank
Despite my wonky hair in this photo, my st
riped tanktop had to make it onto my Hit List. The shirt itself has some fit issues – the straps are a bit too wide and it’s pretty baggy – and I encountered some technical issues while sewing (a messed up tension resulted in a really ugly hemline) but I’m proud of it for 3 reasons. 1) I wear it a TON, so it clearly filled a void in my wardrobe, something I want my sewing to focus more on in the New Year. 2) It was a self-drafted pattern and while one of the major lessons it taught me was that I have a lot to learn, it’s fun to know that it’s my tank through and through. 3) This project had some major issues with it and while it definitely sat in the WIP basket for months, I’m really proud that I didn’t give up on it. I thought carefully about possible solutions, decided on (a remarkably easy) one and finished it up!
2. Scoop Neck Tee
In September I made a simple Scoop Neck Tee and it was a bit of a thought revelation for me. I’ve always thought of sewing as being for making special occasion dresses, costumes and occasional wear. Many of the other sewist bloggers out there really inspired me this year. As Me-Made May passed I really wished that I had more me-made garments incorporated into my wardrobe. This T-shirt represents my decision to sew more wearable garments for myself and to not sew exclusively “fancy” garments.
1. Mathilde Blouse
My #1 for this Hit List was an easy choice: my first Mathilde blouse (I say “first” because I’ve already got another in the works and may make even more after that). I’m so proud of this blouse because I chose a pattern that I would be excited to wear, in a cute fabric that worked great with the pattern and I took the time to sew it well. Fully lined with French seams and double turned hems, I just love knowing that I’m wearing a well made shirt when I wear this.
Of course, with all this looking back, it’s a great time to look forward and think about what goals I’d like to set for 2014. When I look at the project I chose for my 2013 Hit List, they’re ALL garment sewing projects. Which tells me I should focus on those in the coming year.
2. Participate in Me Made May! I just discovered Me Made May this year as I got more into blogging and I found it so inspiring! The idea that I could make myself a wardrobe that I could wear with pride on a daily basis is so exciting! I’d love to work hard over the next few months to make a few more garments (many of which I already have fabric for in my stash) so that I have enough items to participate in Me Made May (to whatever extent I choose).
3. Learn to Draft a Pattern! I bought a pattern drafting book in 2012 and read a couple chapters right away but never started working on any projects. I want to better understand how patterns come together so that I can understand what alterations to make to purchased patterns and how to draft a pattern when I’ve got a clear picture in mind of what I want.
What are your 2014 Re-SEW-lutions???
I think I might have over-piled my holiday plate this year! I decided to make all the Christmas gifts I’m giving and we’re also hosting a big holiday party (I have no idea how much of everything to buy for a party of 45!!!). My poor Mathilde blouse is just sitting neglected on the corner of my sewing table, as is my Mood fabric and a couple other projects I’ve been keen on. In the meantime, I hope you’re not sick of holiday posts!
I thought I’d share some great handmade touches that we’ve been enjoying this year (both from me and from others!). My original plan was to share the handmade gifts I made for my in-laws at our early Christmas celebration with my in-laws. But I totally forgot to take pictures of my projects before giving them away! Doy! So I’ll share the lovely things that other people did. My brother-in-law made everyone fantastic little chalkboards. To go along with it Pete’s sister-in-law made us a selection of pickled deliciousness, smoked salmon and beef jerky. Om nom nom. They were a hit!
My mother-in-law also arranged a fun little craft to keep us occupied while we were there. She had purchased a box of plain green, red and white ball ornaments and some silver and gold sharpies. We got to decorate the ornaments and bring them home!
This handmade ornament goes along great with some of the other homemade touches to our Christmas decorating. Last year I got this cute little snowman ornament in a gift exchange and I think it adds a great personal touch to the tree.
In an attempt to rein myself in a little and not go too cray cray with Christmas decorating (as is my initial instinct) I used some left over tree trimmings and bits of Cedar garland to make a wreath for our front door! I didn’t use a wreath form or anything, instead I just tied the tree trimmings together into roughly the size circle I wanted with twine. I’d add to it little by little evening it out and filling in the gaps. Finally, I broke out ye ol’ hot glue gun to attach bits of cedar garland and cover any messiness that my rough hash job left.
And to add a little mood lighting around the apartment I just took a few mason jars, tied some twine around the top, and added tea lights in the bottom.
First of all, happy Thanksgiving!
Second of all;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings? These are on the list of totally adorable holiday things! And it’s easy to make your own!
Sometimes it can be tough to find cute wrapping for homemade baked goods. It seems like the stores are flooded with cheap and gaudy plastic bags and you may not want to invest in a more substantial tin or the like. As a solution, may I humbly propose this simple tutorial! From start-to-finish I’ll describe how to make your own holiday gift or goody bag, but (if don’t have as much time on your hands as me and don’t want to construct paper bags from scratch) keep in mind that this is meant for inspiration and you can apply it to brown paper wrapped packages or store-bought paper bags too!
– brown craft paper
– stamping ink
– alphabet stamps
– baker’s twine
For each bag, I cut a rectangle from the brown craft paper that measured about 10″ x 11″. The final dimensions will be a 10″ tall bag with 3″ and 1.5″ sides. To achieve these dimensions I drew a line parallel with the long edge at 1″, 4″, 5.5″ and 8.5″.
I filled my gift bags with delicious spiced candied almonds (recipe here).
To add a nice personal touch I used an alphabet rubber stamp kit to decorate the outside of the package (I found it easier to do this after the bag was full so that I could properly position the writing. But you, or course, can do whatever you like).
And there you have it – a new favorite totally adorable holiday thing!
With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas hot on it’s heels, you know what that means, right???!!?!?! It’s time for….
The Second Annual Holiday Roundup: Crafty Gift Ideas For the Nerd In Your Life!!!
………………………….[PAUSE FOR APPLAUSE]…………………………….
Ok, I may have changed the name a bit since last year, but it’s the same basic idea. If you’ve got a crafty science nerd in your life, or one who appreciates a handmade touch, then this is the shopping guide for you!!
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all thro’ the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in the hopes that St. Nick soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of Erlenmeyer cookies danced in their heads,
And mama in her anaphase earrings and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter’s nap. When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave the luster of mid-day to objects below; When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight cool science-y flask terrariums! (Hey, I never claimed to be a poet)
With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name: “Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen, “On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem; “To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! “Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!” As deconstructed mint leaves in caviar bubbles fly, when they meet a molecular mixology kit on a cold winter nigh’; So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of Toys – and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound: He was dress’d all in knit, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all nerdy with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back, And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack: His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples how merry, His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face, and a little round belly That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly: He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle: But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight;
“A CRAFTY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A NERDY NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!”