Green Lady Skater

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Sometime earlier this winter, I had a fight with my serger and pitched her to the back of the closet. I dug her out again to make up a quick Plaintain tee at some point early this spring, and she performed very well, which gave me some confidence to work with knits again. I can always use a simple, easy-to-wear dress, and I thought the Lady Skater fit the bill. I had this fabric purchased from Emma One Sock at some point about five years ago. I don’t have much exciting to say about this project–you know, it’s a knit dress. It took me maybe 3 hours to construct. I’m pretty happy with it. I did use a new-to-me notion: wash-away wonder tape. I used it to secure the hem, and it worked really great to keep the knit stable for me to use my sewing machine, set up with a twin needle, to make a neat hem. A great pattern for a quick and versatile knit dress!

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Wiksten trifecta

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How is it already May 20? I can’t believe how quickly this spring has whooshed past. So many things–we moved in the middle of a localized flood, we immediately hosted 4 guests for the weekend, and I started running again (to get rid of those pesky winter pounds I managed to gain). Also: I HAVE MY VERY OWN SEWING ROOM. For the first time ever, I have a room where I can keep my machines set up all the time, spread my pattern pieces all over the floor, and keep my projects strewn about. The best thing is having a door I can close on this mess. Seriously, I’ve only been set up in this room for about a week and a half, and it already looks like a tornado of tissue paper and fabric scraps projectile vomited all over the room! Once I get things organized a bit more, I’ll share a photo.

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I actually made up this Wiksten Tova before we moved to our new, awesome place. I made it as a test to see how I liked the pattern. The fabric is some very sheer cotton/silk voile, I think, purchased at Mood circa 2008-ish? It’s pretty and floaty. I ultimately decided that the size I cut this time around was a bit large, so I’m glad I didn’t cut into some precious yardage for this version.

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Confident that I would like the pattern with a few tweaks, I cut into some precious Liberty of London cotton lawn that I’ve been hoarding since our first trip to London in August, 2009. I bought two pieces of Liberty cotton on that trip and have been too afraid to cut into their beauty ever since. Honestly, though, this stuff is so amazing to work with, I don’t know why I ever sew with anything else. (Oh yeah, maybe because it’s about $35/yard.)

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I made a few modifications based on my first version: cut one whole size smaller, added a little waist shaping to the side seams, took about 1″ off the hem and took a deeper hem at 1.5.” I think this will be a great little blouse to tuck into a pencil skirt or to wear more casually with skinny jeans and ballet flats, or under a cardigan sweater this fall.

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Finally, feeling confident about the Wiksten loveliness, I went ahead and made this little tank from this super lightweight cotton/silk voile blend, also from my stash circa 2010, if I had to guess. If I were awesome I probably would’ve double-layered the front piece–it’s a little sheer to comfortably wear without a camisole underneath. The fabric was so sheer, binding the neckline and armholes was a real pain in the butt. It doesn’t look super flattering in this picture, but it works well layered under a cardigan (the one in the first picture above is from Boden, purchased years ago and dug out of the depths of my closet, since I finally have something to wear with it). I think that I’ll be making more of these little woven tanks with a few little tweaks next time around.

Happy spring!

 

 

Winter’s last stand

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After I blogged about my aggressive spring sewing plans, I did the logical thing: I cut out a wool jacket. In my defense, shortly after I cut it out, we actually got a bit of snow in Philadelphia. So, it’s not like, totally ridiculous or anything. I intended to make this jacket this winter, so this was a last ditch effort to wrap up my winter sewing list.

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This is the same out of print Vogue I used for my brown tweed jacket that I made this fall. I was inspired by the blazer above, from Boden, which featured some classic British tweed fabric and grosgrain ribbon trim. I knew I had this black, white, and red checked fabric hanging around in my stash–a long-ago purchase from Fabric Mart–and, I thought it was the perfect inspiration.

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I think I fixed a few of the fit issues that I had with my other jacket. I made the whole thing a tiny bit larger, except I took in the waist a bit. I also took in a bit in the princess seam between the bust and the shoulder on the front (but looking at the photos, it does seem like I should have taken out a bit more). I added about 1/4″ on both side seams below the waist to accomodate my, ahem, slight winter weight gain (which went straight to my hips). The back hangs a bit better now. I think if I were awesome, I could make the fit more perfect, but I’m pretty happy with it. If I were to make another version, I’d work on the sleeves–something funky is going on with the sleeve heads, and the upper sleeves are a bit wide.

In terms of details, I used some scraps of red tie silk for the under collar and also the underside of the pocket flaps. I added grosgrain ribbon trim on the upper collar and on the welt above the pocket flap. And, I made bound buttonholes for the metal buttons I purchased at M&J Trimming in NYC last fall. They remind me of the classic leather buttons you often see on blazers. I’m really happy with how all the details came out. I feel like a total double-welt pocket pro!

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In terms of matching the plaids, I focused on making sure the red stripe matched. Since this plaid had multiple check sizes (large, medium, AND small), I made an effort to keep the rows of big checks on the same horizontal line, which extends across the sleeves as well. It isn’t perfect–I literally couldn’t match the pocket flaps because of where the red lines fell on the front pieces. So, I chose to cut the pocket flaps on the diagonal and without any red line running through them. I think they look ok, but it would have been super awesome if I had been able to match the flaps to the main part of the jacket. I would have had to re-cut the two front pieces, though, and I really didn’t want to do that.

Overall, I think this project is more successful than my previous jacket. Next fall, I really want to make a coat for myself, so these projects have increased my confidence!

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A quick note on the skirt: it’s actually yet another version of the Liesl & Co. Everyday Skirt (black is so hard to photograph!). I made this out of some black wool that is thick and warm. I made it right before the holidays and have worn it CONSTANTLY since. Like, seriously, at least once per week. It looks great with a sweater or with a blouse and is so comfortable and easy to wear. I took out 2″ of ease in both the front and the back since I was using thicker fabric, and I also added a lining.

My first hand-knit sweater & an everyday skirt

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I finished my first hand-knit sweater! It’s the Willard pullover by Hannah Fettig. I started it back in February, and it took me awhile because I couldn’t manage to stay focused on this one project. It’s knit with Quince & Co. Owl, which is a great rustic yarn.

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It’s a pretty basic pullover without any shaping, but that makes it the perfect casual sweater for weekends. We took a day-trip out to Cape May, NJ to visit the beach (and to search for Cape May diamonds), and it was the perfect weight for a cool, breezy early spring day. I’m sure I’ll throw this on with a pair of jeans for many weekends to come. More details over on Ravelry.

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I paired it with a Liesl & Co. Everyday Skirt out of cotton chambray from my Chicago fabric haul. For this version, my third from this pattern, I made a size small. I took about 1″ of ease out of both the front at the back panels so that there was less fullness. I also cut about 3″ off the length (and had a 1.5″ hem). I know I’ll wear this skirt a TON this summer–it’s so easy to throw it on with a t-shirt or tank top. So, while it’s not terribly exciting, it’s definitely a wardrobe workhorse.

 

Stockholm Syndrome & Aggressive Spring Sewing Plans

IMG_5530So, we’re moving again. I think, in fact, that I have Stockholm Syndrome towards moving at this point–I irrationally get excited about the possibilities despite the horribleness that inevitably ensues. A new apartment/house! New decorating projects! A new neighborhood with TREES and PARKS! Nevermind those pesky parts of moving, involving THE SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT APARTMENT (which, let’s face it, is never without a whole lot of emotional drama), never-ending packing, stacking boxes, running up and down stairs and across the street to a moving truck 200 times, all the scrapes and bruises from all the above, making sure our pets aren’t completely freaked out by all the above (which usually involves slipping our cat a bit of a sedative to knock him out for a few hours, poor little guy), and then THEN comes all of the phases of unpacking and organizing. Yikes. Hey, on the bright side, this time around, we actually didn’t unpack several boxes, so I won’t have to repack that stuff!

This is relevant to here because I’ve been trying very hard to decrease the amount of fabric I have stashed in the back of our closet since we moved last fall. Before we left Vermont, I actually got rid of a huge amount of fabric. I gave some away via Craigslist, and I sold some of my better pieces on ebay. After dragging boxes of fabric from Cambridge to Vermont and now to Philly, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with my fabric stash. I love buying fabric I love, imagining possible garments I’ll make. I love having fabrics on hand so when I get the urge to sew, it’s all ready for me to go. But, I hate feeling trapped by my stash–like I can’t sew something if I don’t use fabric I already have. Taste and style changes, though, so what I have in my stash at any given moment may or may not appeal to me when I actually get around to sewing with it. Which is why I feel so ashamed to admit that I purchased 6 (!!!) new cuts of fabric on a recent trip to Chicago. Folks, don’t visit Vogue Fabrics in the Chicago area if you don’t want to walk out with a huge amount of fabric. Those 6 new cuts are in ADDITION to the stack of fabric above, which I pulled out of my already existing stash to plan some spring makes. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Stockholm Syndrome, I tell you. I’ve apparently developed a fondness for lugging huge boxes of fabric around with me.

So, in an effort to motivate myself to use all of these lovelies, I present my overly aggressive list of spring sewing plans. I think the only possible saving grace is that I tend to prefer easy styles which tend to take less time to make.

Dresses

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1 – a knit Lady Skater / 2 – a chambray shirtdress from Lisette’s Simplicity 2246

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3 – a Liberty of London shirtdress from Lisette’s Simplicity 2246 / 4 – a silk dress from the Rebecca Taylor Vogue 1344

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5 – a red linen (on the left) Colette Laurel

Woven Blouses

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1 – Liberty of London Tova (or Archer?) / 2 & 3 – a pair of Cotton Voile Daturas

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4 – Cotton Voile (I’m not sure yet) / 5 – Silk print (hmmmmmmm)

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6 – Cotton Voile (I don’t know) / 7 – Silk print Weekend Getaway blouse

Skirts

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1 – cotton sateen pencil skirt / 2 – chambray Everyday Skirt

Jackets

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1 – black ikat Salme Cropped Blazer / 2 – navy sateen (on the right) Salme Cropped Blazer (much darker in real life)

Pants

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1 – navy sateen (on the right) Colette Clover (or similar flat front ankle pants)

You guys. If you’re keeping count, that’s 17 garments. (!!!) Did I mention that I am planning to be hiking for an entire month of this summer? Oh yeah, and we’re moving. So there’s that. Yikes. Our house may never be in order.

Sherlock Tweeds & a Grey Rosebud

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This fall, I went through a Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock watching binge that had me dreaming of tweed vests and jackets and all manner of classic British styles. I think I have the urge every fall to wear tweed and drink tea. Really, my obsession with woolens and tea is a year-round one, but it’s just not practical on those 90 degree humid summer days we have here in the mid-Atlantic (and the Brits are nothing if not practical)! Plus, there’s the side-eye I get from Philadelphians on the street that sometimes deters me from wearing proper clothing like waistcoats or blazers instead of apple bottom jeans (jeans) boots with the fur (fur). Just kidding. Sort of. #iliveonthenewjerseysideofphilly

I made these items back in September/October, so my memory is fuzzy, and this post is a bit more “I made this” than a helpful review of these patterns. Anyway, while opening a random box I pitched in the back of the closet instead of actually unpacking when we moved back in August, I found this skirt, which I had cut out probably 2 years prior and then never actually made. The pattern is an out-of-print Vogue. I like the skirt a lot, but these pictures don’t make it look uber-flattering, so I’m re-thinking it. But, it has pockets and a wearable a-line shape that makes it comfortable and classic. I added a lining.

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I also had enough fabric to make a vest. It’s a super soft wool that I got on sale from Fabric Mart, I think. The vest is also lined, and I used some charcoal grey for the visible lining back that has a subtle stripe running through it. It’s so subtle, you can’t even see it in this photo. Sadly, the welts in front are merely decorative. The vest is finished with a buckle in the back and buttons from Fleishman’s on 5th Street here in Philly. I actually think these pieces work best alone rather than together, so I have mostly worn them as separates.

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The hat is Rosebud by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. I have this nasty acrylic floppy thing that I bought at REI or something once. I wanted to replace it with something a bit more sophisticated and made from a nicer fiber (that won’t pill and shed and generally look crummy like my other hat). The yarn is Quince and Co. Osprey, which is a true aran weight yarn. Based on Ravelry notes, I made the smaller size of the hat–the Osprey doesn’t have quite as much drape as if I had used something like Shelter, as the pattern calls for. I really like this hat–the garter stitch is simple and effective, and the bulky cable is great. The yarn is not the softest ever, but it feels sturdy and warm. It blocks the wind like a champ. At some point, I may make a lighter, slouchier version of this, but this little beanie-style has been a nice winter addition to my hat wardrobe. A few more details over on Ravelry.

Tribal Everyday Skirt

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Happy Friday! Here’s a skirt I actually made back in October around Halloween. You know, during those glorious days in the fall when it’s warm enough to wear boots without tights. It’s the Liesel + Co. Everyday Skirt, and let me tell you what, it truly IS an everyday skirt. Let me tell you a little secret: IT HAS AN ELASTIC WAISTBAND. But, not in a frumpy-dumpy way–in an awesome-no-elastic-in-the-front way!

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I love how this pattern is drafted to give you a flat waistband in the front, elastic in the back, and flat size panels for a more flattering, less frumpy fit. It also has pockets, which are always a win. I’ve worn this skirt  A LOT since I made it last fall. This winter, I’ve been rocking it with tights. The cotton ikat fabric I used from Michael Levine is a great versatile mid-weight that works well for all seasons. I have dreams of making an army of these skirts in chambray, ikat, cotton sateen, linen . . . well, you get the picture. I actually made up one for this winter in a lovely wool that I’ve also been wearing constantly since I made it.

The only change I made is lopping off  close to 4″ of length before hemming. I don’t know if I’m just wicked short (which, I’m 5’5″, so I don’t think I am crazy short?) or if this pattern is made for really tall people or if this pattern assumes you’ll use a deep hem. I think I did a 1″ hem. In any case, this is relevant because if you’re shopping for fabric for this skirt, you’ll end up using a lot less than the pattern demands if you lop 4″ off the bottom. You might want to measure the pattern pieces before you spend some unnecessary dough on more fabric than you need.

This pattern gets two thumbs up from me. Extremely satisfying sew that is a super basic addition to your wardrobe.