February Sew My Style 2018

AEB80A45-EA1B-472E-80BB-6900AB40B05C.jpegFor the Februral Sew My Style Challenge, there were two different jacket options.  The absolutely beautiful Rumana Coat from By Hand London and the very on trend Estelle Ponte Jacket from Style Arc.  I had every intention to try my hand a both this month, but February turned out to be pretty busy and I wanted to be able to give the Rumana the time it deserves.  I have some beautiful blue wool that I picked up from a fabric store that was closing several years ago, and have been saving for a project just like this.  So, once I have the time to devote to it, I will have a blue wool Rumana Coat some day.

For this month I did make the Estelle Ponte Jacket.  I probably wouldn’t have been a big fan of the jacket, because I feel like I get lost in the vast amount of fabric involved in jackets like that.  However, I had some reversable/ double sided knit from Joanns that was perfect for the project.  I have a cropped waterfall jacket I love, so I decided to try something similar with mine.  I measured my RTW one and ended up cutting about 11” off the bottom of the pattern to make mine.  This was my first ever Style Arc pattern I had ever made.  I knew that their patterns only come with the size you order and one size on either side of the one you order.  However, this puts a lot of pressure on you when ordering.

I measured twice and went with 18.  After sewing it up, I probably could have sized down at least 2 sizes.  However, it does fit well through the shoulders, so maybe this was the best size. I made no other adjustments other than cutting off the bottom of the front and back pattern pieces.  I used my RTW one as a rough guide and held it up to the back piece.  Once I cut it, I matched up the bottom of the armsycle to the front piece and cut it off at the same point.  I was tempted to cut it at a slant, but decided against it.  Although I might try that the next time to see what would happen.

I actually really ended up liking this pattern.  It is super comfy and it sort of elevates anything it is worn with.  I wore it with jeans and a pocket t and got asked by several friends why I was so dressed up.  Score!  I love easy glam!  It does have a lot of material in the body and the sleeves could definetly be taken in a lot, so I might try to make a little sleeker one in the future.  But for now, I love this one.  It is a very quick pattern to sew, I think from taping to wearing it took a little over an hour.  The neck construction is a tad confusing, and the pattern in general could use a few more words in the directions, but the diagram was very helpful, and ended up being all I really needed.  So, if you are not very comfortable with sewing without a guide, this might not be the best pattern for you.  I am not sure if the simplicity of the pattern made the instructions so sparse or if that is indicative of the entire pattern line.  I would be willing to try another pattern from this designer as it really is a very modern fresh looking end product.

Madrona Skirt

I had the opportunity to test another fabulous Straight Stitch Designs pattern.  I will be honest, I was pretty on the fence about this one.  I almost didn’t respond to the tester call because my first thought was, “ that will look awful on me.”  However, I have been trying to move out of my comfort zone and try new things and so I went ahead and said yes, and I am so glad I did.

To be very honest, I made a lot of stupid mistakes with this one.  My very first take on it, I found some awesome fabric at walmart, that was labeled, “ remanant of unknown fabric content.”  So I have no idea what it is, but it definetly contains some polyester.  I felt like it would make an awesome ballet type skirt, which would look great paired with black leggings and a black bodysuit (which I do not actually have, but I do have a Megan Nielsen Rowan cut out, so maybe in the future.). The second it came off the sewing machine, I thought it was perfect.  My daughter was standing next to me and she exclaimed, “Oh Mommy, I love that skirt!  However, once I put it on, I felt like it had a lot of leg exposure and I wouldn’t feel very comfortable in it without leggings on.  So, I was pretty disappointed.  However, it did completely make my ballerina vision a reality, and it actually works pretty great over leggings.  I think that showing a little more leg probably works out.

One of the reasons I thought this wouldn’t be a very flattering skirt, was because I have a pretty long torso and then I have a belly, and things that add bulk right at the belly are generally not very flattering, because they accentuate my widest point.   So, I attributed the fact that my skirt met at a pretty high point to those factors

THEN.  Then the other tester photos started rolling in and something occurred to me, maybe I cut out the wrong size!   So, I went back and I totally had cut one size smaller than I actually should have based off of measurements. (It should be noted at this point, that the nature of this pattern is very forgiving and so there is a lot of flexibility about sizing.  Take my experience as a case in point.) Truthfully if I wasn’t testing a particular size I probably would have sided up one more, but that would probably have been a mistake.  This pattern really does have a lot of give.  Even so, I began to wonder what the “right” size would look like.

I cut out try two.  For my second try I used some double gauze that I have had for a long time.  I  was very worried that it would be too sheer so I stole an idea from another tester and added a lining.  Have you ever cut double gauze?  It was terribly shifty and one of the perks to this pattern is it only has three pieces.  But the two pieces that make up the skirt body are very large and they were larger than my largest cutting mat, ( I cut out patterns with a rotary cutter) so I had to shift it around during cutting, and on my first try, that shift went very smoothly, but it did not go so smoothly with the double gauze.  Then once I started sewing and I gathered the top of the skirt, I over gathered and it was way too short for my waist band, so I let it out some, but then I just kinda gave up and went with it.  I added the lining in with the skirt and I tried it on.  It also hits pretty high, but maybe not as high as my first try, but it also didn’t overlap very far.  This is definetly due to the fact the waistband was like 4’ too short. So, I haven’t put the buttons on yet, because I am thinking I might take the waistband off and try again.    However, I am a big fan of the double gauze on, it floats around and makes me feel kinda princess-ey.  For the lining, I  just cut a second set of body pieces and then cut off like 4 inches off the bottom and serged the edges. I put it with the skirt main and matched the middle seam.   Like so:

 

I took some pictures while twirling around to try to give you an idea of the floatyness, but it was difficult to capture, you might have to take my word for it.

 

So, I decided I needed to quit playing around and find a sure bet for success on this pattern. For my third and final (for now) try, I used a dotted chambray from Hobby Lobby.  I cut the correct size with my scissors to advoid any shifting mishaps and I used my gathering foot, with a basting stitch and the tension heightened just by one.  This time — perfection!

My initial instinct was to style this with another SSD pattern, the Bryant dolman tee, which is one of my all time favorite patterns.  ( I am also wearing a black Bryant dolman with the purple skirt.) I felt like the knot kept the siluette while keeping my waist definition.  I love this look!  This is probably going to be my go to combo.

However, I also thought that maybe an oversized tee would look cute too, so I styled it with a white Skorn tee and my favorite red sneaks.  And I also love this look.

While it took me a very long time to get there, this pattern is actually love.  It is a pretty quick sew, with a very clean finish.  I mean check out that inside center seam!

1CBEF663-A139-4A53-A6F2-9EEF7D8ECC7E(Just don’t look too close at my top stitching. ) The waist band addition is a technique I had never used before, but I like it a lot.  By the third one, it went together like a breeze.  I think that Kimberly is going to do a video tortorial on just attaching the waistband for anyone who gets to that step and gets hung up.  Which will make this an even easier pattern.  I think that this is a great pattern for spring, but you can totally through on leggings and wear it in winter or fall too.  The Madrona pattern released today, so go and grab yours now! .

Sew My Style 2018 – January

In an effort to try to improve my sewing techniques, build my me-made wardrobe, and experience new designers, I decided to join this years #sewmystyle challenge. If you haven’t heard about this, it is a challenge “started by  Alex Bartholomew from Bluebird Fabrics in 2017 to raise awareness about the slow fashion industry movement and to encourage young women to take up sewing.”  In this challenge every month there is a set pattern that all the participants sew. You all sew it together and participate in the Facebook discussion for advice and tips while sewing along.   Then there is a reaveal on the last Sunday of the month and of course there is a winner each month.  If you still want to participate I think you can jump in anytime, you just have to sign up to join the Facebook group.

For January the pattern was the Sunny Top/dress by the Friday Pattern Company.  Who really have a pretty cool business model, you can read all about it here.  I will say this this pattern did not receive much love from the group as a whole.  The Sunny Dress really doesn’t have the level of detail that the indie sewing community has come to expect from pdf patterns.  However, if you have a general sewing knowledge and have ever sewed sleeves and bound a neckline you are pretty much set.  There is not really a specific guideline for the neck binding in the pattern, but I used my two favorite methods for the ones I made and they turned out great.  To be fair, I had read about how sparse the directions were, and I glanced over them and then just sewed the dress together the way that made the most sense to me.  So, I did deviate some from the directions they did give.

I personally was very happy with my final products, and I did not really make any alterations to the pattern.  Which just goes to show that you should always try something for yourself.  I made a dress first.  I cut based on my measurements and so I did grade between an XL at the top and a XXL at the hip.  As this was where my measurements placed me.  The dress turned out to be both tighter and longer than I had anticipated.  Which worked out, as I really like fitted knee length dresses.  I am 5’7” and I frequently have to add length to dresses to make them work appropriate.  This one totally works as drafted.  However, I probably would add a couple of inches in the future as it comes to the knee in front, but the shirttail hem, (which I love!) comes up pretty far on the sides.  I also personally love the length of the sleeves, although they are a tad untraditional.

 

On the dress I used a pretty sturdy ponte, it is from Joann’s (I think, as it was from my stash and does not seem to still be available).   It does not have a lot of give, which I think gives it a pretty professional look, and helps to skim over my rolls a little. I used woven bias tape to bind the neckline, sewing and folding over. It worked well with this fabric and it adds a pop of color to the inside.

To style it I decided to mix up the slightly buttoned up look of the ponte with a little leather and/or my go to statement necklace.

 

Also note that this pattern is supposed to be reversible and in the first two pictures above I am actually wearing it backwards from the last two pictures.  I prefer it with a lower neckline in front, but options are nice.

After I finished the dress, I still had a good bit of the month left and I have a slight addiction to black tee shirts with shirt-tail hems, so I decided to give this a try.  I love it!  It is much more fitted than my other shirts in my wardrobe, and I think that is a good thing.  If your wardrobe is as monochrome as mine, variety in the fit is a great thing.  That way people know I have at least changed my clothes.  (Kidding, sort of ) I used my current favorite black knit fabric, which is super stretchy and I added an inch for length, as most of my height is in my torso rather than my legs.  Although based on where the dress hit my waist I almost didn’t add the legnth.  I am really glad I did though, because it would have been really short for my taste.  I think that is the general idea though from the pattern maker, to be slightly cropped.  I will definetly add another inch to my next shirt.

For the neckline on this one, I was afraid that it would ruin the drape to use the bias tape so I drafted a neck band.  I made it 2” shorter than the neck line and I made it 2” wide.  Which was way too wide, so I folded it toward the inside in half and then coverstitched around the neckline and I think it looks pretty good.  I could have done a better job with the cover stitching and I probably could have made it 3” shorter than the neckline and it would have fit a little better, but it works.

 

I have worn this shirt three times a week since I made it, so I guess that makes it a success.  Side note, check out those Chelsea Flares from Greenstyle Creations out of brown corduroy in the middle.  Those are pretty much the first pants I have ever made, and granted they are stretch pull on pants.  However,  I am pretty excited about them.  D625B0CB-5A42-41EA-9F03-6D4AB9A5F869

I added on the button-front add-on because I knew I wanted them to be super high waisted, and I was afraid they would be difficult to get on and off otherwise.

Anyway, back to Sew My Style.  I was pretty excited about the Sunny Dress being the first pattern, because I have been wanting to try Friday Pattern Co’s patterns, but had not pulled the trigger yet.  This definetly would not have been my first pick from their catalog, however, it does tell me that their block and I are not that far off and I am more willing to go ahead and try some others, like their Grace Top, for work.  Or perhaps their Sasha skirt, for weekends. So, that means that so far my goals for this challenge are being accomplished.  I am really excited to make the By Hand London Rumana Coat in February.  That will really take me out of my comfort zone, as I have never made a coat before.  However, I do already know and love By Hand London patterns.  I have a green velvet Anna Dress that is my favorite thing in my closet and I wish I had more opportunity to wear it.

I will keep you updated on next month’s makes.  Also, you can follow along on my instagram @alexisdcook1 .

 

 

Leschi

So, I am super excited about the first pattern testing session that I have gotten to participate in!  I had the opportunity to test the Leschi from Straight Stitch Designs. I love it!  When I first saw the original picture from Kimberly, I knew I needed one.  I have recently decided, through my slow fashion planning,  that shirt tail hems look better on me than straight hems.  Also, I have a deep love for leggings and am always looking for shirts that allow me to wear leggings as pants.  To top it off, I also think that v-neck tops are way more flattering on me than crew neck.

 

So, this is the perfect pattern! I have never participated in the testing process before, so I was sort of in awe at how good the other testers were and how good theirs looked on the first go around.  I still am working on what my “regular modifications” are, so anyone that can just tell from a picture what they need to modify to make it fit the better is akin to a super hero in my book.

This pattern has a deep v-neck, it fits tunic length, and it has a fabulous shirt tail hem that is longer in the back and shows off your legs!  It also has super comfortable sleeves and tons of potentials for modifications.  I have already used the hem for mashing up with other patterns.

The vision I had when I saw Kimberly’s was for this green shimmery, mermaid  fabric I bought on a whim from Jo-Anns.   I used the “wrong” side of the fabric because the shimmer was a little too intense for daily wear.  This fabric was HORRIBLE to sew.  It frays, it moves around, and it is pretty itchy.  I serged all the edges before I started and I did French hems on the sides.  I do love the finished product, but I will never sew with this fabric again!

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I also invisioned it with my leather leggings and over the knee boots. Which I totally love!

Here is more of this look:

Then I realized that if I had one in black rayon challis,  I would literally wear it EVERYDAY.  This fabric is so soft!  However, it is also a cautionary tale.  I accidentally forgot the stay stitching on this one, and the neckline is definetly a lot longer than the others, so I would recommend not skipping that step, because it definetly makes the finished product much cleaner.  I would also recommend using some tricot interfacing for the collar and possibly lots of starch.  I did not do either of these things, but I intend to the next time.  image

 

Finally, several of the other testers used flannel, and they just looked so comfy cosy, I knew I needed one.  That is one of the things I love about my Bryant Dolman Tee from Straight Stitch Designs, how comfortable it is.  I always say it is like wearing a hug, and this flannel shirt is too!!!  The flannel sewed up so much better, however, it doesn’t drape as well as the others.  (Or at all really.)image

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The only thing that I don’t like about this one, is because it doesn’t drape as well and the pattern is designed to be boxy, it is not particularly flattering from the side, as my waist gets a little lost.  I might try to size down the next time and do a fba.  But this shirt is perfect for drinking coffee by the fire all winter long!

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The Leschi was a super fast make, it took about 1.5 hours from cutting out to finishing.  I love the gath in the back! This pattern has so much potential, I will definetly make some in thinner fabric for the spring, and am also invisioning a swim suit cover-up.  I really do love this pattern.  The Leschi is available now, and is currently on sale for 20% off, so go get yours now!

 

Confidence In Artistic Endeavors

Hi!  It has been a while since I have written anything.  So, if you are still here, yea!  I have been working on a lot  on my sewing though, in my absence.  I find sewing really cathartic.  I, generally speaking, like to go fast, those of you who have known me a long time, know that I mean literally as well as figuratively.  While I now try to obey all posted speed limits, I still find myself pushing to hard and trying to fit too much into my days.  This is where sewing comes in.  One day I cleaned out my closet and the sheer volume of articles of clothing, sort of made me nauseas.  I started reading about capsule wardrobes and while I love the idea, I have a difficult time limiting my options.  I do have a couple of basic capsules, a work and a play one.  However, I also have some other random stuff thrown in.  If you want to learn more about this idea this was the first post I read and this is someone’s blog I love to read.

Anyway,  thrown in with the idea of capsuling, is the idea of slow fashion.    This is a concept that I really love.  Slow fashion is basically the idea that you value quality workmanship and quality materials and that both were ethically sourced.  So, of course the epitome of this is sewing your own clothes.  Basically, this allows you to:

  1. Think about what clothes make you happy, and feel fabulous when you wear them.
  2. Think about what clothes you NEED in order to be attired for the life you are living (i.e. Workplace culture, sports you play, church/social culture you are in)
  3. Decide what holes are in your currenwardobe to meet these needs.
  4. Find a pattern that will make what you invision
  5. Find the perfect fabric for the project.
  6. Learn the skills to be able to make your clothing, and take the time in the details to make is special and to make it last.

 

I am in no way executing this idea to the fullest, but I am trying to be a lot more contientious about items I add to my wardrobe, and about taking the time to make sure clothing I make is well made, and well finished, so it really feels like special custom made items.  To this end, I have been trying to tackle some sewing projects that really challenge me, (read: scare me) and by doing that, I have been gaining confidence in my abilities.

 

You know something I have talked about before, is the power of making something with your own hands, you know like those wine and painting places?  Have you ever met someone who painted something at one, that didn’t think theirs was pretty good?  I know I did, and I have zero painting ability.  I flunked art class, and I was like, “wow, this is not that bad!”  And I am sure, that to anyone else that ever sees it, they are like, wow, that IS really bad.  But there is something about the act of creating that gives you confidence.  The same is true with sewing your own clothing.  The fact that YOU struggled through the project, and YOU made the creative decisions, gives YOU confidence when you wear it.  I love my #memade items more than stuff I buy.  Even though in all actuality to the casual observer those items do not look as good on.  I know that I ROCK my me makes when I wear them, because the give me swagger.  (Do people still say that?).  Here are a bunch of awkward bathroom selfies to prove it.

Me mades in above picture:  the first and second on the top are both Bryant Dolmans from Straight Stitch Designs.   The third is the Farrah Blouse from Chalk and Notch Patterns.  The bottom left is the Ogden Cami from True Bias Patterns (which I have only worn alone in public like that once, but it is the best layering piece EVER.) and the bottom right is the Saunio Cardigan from Named Clothing.

One thing that I am doing now that I have gained some confidence in my sewing abilities, is I am pattern testing.  I have always admired those women who sewed up beautiful things and then showed them off on social media, and have always thought I was not good enough to be like them.  But you know what?  “I AM good enough, I AM smart enough, and Gosh darn it people like me.”  So be on the look out for some future blogs about patterns I test, or even some patterns I have tried and love that have been out there for a long time.