Tokyo Jacket the 2nd

I made another Tokyo Jacket by Tessuti. I like the first one I made, but I used a very floaty silk-cotton, and when I finished it, I knew the jacket would be better served with a more drapey fabric.

Enter Center For Creative Reuse. I picked up this incredible purple silk on a whim, and as soon as I touched it, I knew it was destined to be the Tokyo Jacket. The yardage of the remnant was barely enough, but it was pretty wide, so I laid out the pieces as many ways as I could. It kept barely not fitting. So I took ~3″ out of the length of the sleeves, and had to patch one of the shoulders with a fabric scrap, but it ALL WORKED OUT.

sassy view of the Tokyo Jacket by Tessuti Patternsspinning in the Tokyo Jacket by Tessuti Patterns

front view of tokyo jacket by tessuti patterns

I LOVE IT, can you tell? I omitted the pockets and hemmed with some lace hem tape. I used some scraps of a plum silk chiffon for the neck band. I didn’t know I liked purple so much, it seems to turn up everywhere in things I pick out, as of late.

Special thanks to Jacob for his skillz and being willing to participate in the photoshoot. Also my hair is INSANE in these pics.tokyo_jacket_spin

Making My Wedding Dress

Its been almost a year since I wore the most time-intensive garment I’ve ever sewed! I thought it was time to share it.

Time: 9 months, not working on it every weekend, and mixing in smaller projects to keep my sanity. I did not keep track of hours.

Materials: Ivory silk charmeuse and ivory silk chiffon, bemberg lining and interlining, all from The Fabric Place in Mt. Lebanon, Pittsburgh. Also some boning from Joanns.

Hand-rolled double circle skirt hem length: 57 feet.


Emily and Jacob-Photographer s Favorites-0043.jpg

Emily and Jacob-Photographer s Favorites-0170.jpg

Photos by Julie Hagenbuch.

So… how did this come about? I knew I wanted to make my wedding dress, but I was not sure what I wanted. I decided to go to a local shop in Lawrenceville to try on a bunch of different styles to see what I liked. The person who helped me at the shop was very kind, but I was not a fan of being in the dressing room with someone else and having very tattered, worn by so many people sample dresses clamped on to me with clips to simulate the true fit. Out of the dozens of dresses I tried on, I really only liked one of them. It was $4,000:


I loved the materials used in this dress: silk chiffon over a silk charmeuse. The DOUBLE CIRCLE skirt was SO dreamy, I couldn’t stop lifting it and squealing as I swished all the fabric around me. I also loved the very dramatic back cowl.

Determined that I could recreate this dress, I signed up for a Pattern and Fit class at Cut and Sew Studio. I found what I thought was a similar pattern and came to class with a muslin made. It was not nearly as close to the inspiration photo as I hoped, so with the help of Catherine Batcho, I drafted a new bodice pattern. 5 muslins later…. I had the fit just right.

Muslin #3 maybe? Underlined with some pretty stiff fabric.
Fitting one of the muslins in nasty mauve fabric.
Creating the back drape.
Fitting the bodice (see the dotted lines??)
Final bodice back.
Checking the fit of the front.
Checking the back drape in the final fabric.

I ended up adding boning to the back “neckline (not sure what else to call it?)” to ensure it wouldn’t gape. It was very hard to anticipate fit issues like this before sewing the skirt to the bodice.

In-progress dress.
Trying it on before attaching the skirt to the bodice.
Trying on after sewing the skirt to the bodice, and inserting the zipper. Big relief after this was done.
DEAR LORD, pinning the hem.
more hemming.

and had 4 (I think?) follow-up sessions to help fit the bodice and hem the skirt. I have a bad habit of rushing through projects, and I tried my hardest to take my time and do the best job I could. I am so so happy with how the dress turned out, and I am so happy I can say I made my wedding dress. Thank you so much to Catherine Batcho, I could not have possibly completed this project so wonderfully without your help.

PHEW, who needs a drink?

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Photo by Julie Hagenbuch.

Two New Dresses

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

I really want to like this. Its a very very fussy pattern, it uses a ton of fabric, and it took a surprising amount of time to make. Full disclosure, I did not focus enough on the match points– if you decide to make this, BE SURE TO BE VERY PRECISE HERE. The pattern says this and I fault no one but myself here. I think I am going to rip out the placket and replace with a more tunic-like finish I ripped out the placket and replaced it with a more open v-neck(à la Hello Bear ). I like it much better this way, the original placket kept flopping around and was too stiff.

hannah dress by victory patterns

I underlined the white seersucker with some Bemberg lining, which I am glad I did because this fabric is pretty see-through. The pockets are great, the perfect depth to just rest your hands in. I do not know if I will make it again. One note if I do is the high bust/shoulders are quite tight, perhaps I should grade that part of the pattern up a size– it fits well everywhere else and would not want the rest any bigger.

Will get some more on-body pics soon!!!!

Next: Tea House Dress by Sew House 7.

tea house dress by sew house 7tea house dress by sew house 7I almost made this from a vintagey plaid I found at the Center for Creative Reuse, but I have my heart set on making that into another Archer or an Alder instead. I laid out the pattern pieces on the plaid and took pause. I remembered that I had almost 3 yards of that wax-print leftover from the Inari Tee. I set to work finagling around the pattern pieces, but I just didn’t have enough. I had to patch the front shoulder on one of the pieces to have enough fabric. I went to Loom Morningside to see if they had any fabric that would work. I thought of using black fabric for the yokes and ties, but that just seemed so BORING. One of the lovely ladies at Loom helped me find a hand-printed cotton that was similar in drape (read: none) to what I was already using. Back at home, halfway through making it I was having serious doubts about whether or not it would work, but I kept on going. I put it on when it was finished and showed my husband and he LOVED it (huge confidence boost, he is very honest with me about these things), so I think I do, too.

This is a pretty easy to follow pattern. I love the pockets! Only thing I changed was I hemmed it 3″, which I am glad I did, I really love deep hems, and now the dress hits above my knee. It does feel similar to my other “Japanese style” dresses I’ve made, but the waist ties help it feel more feminine. I think I will make it again, probably in a more subtle fabric next time.


Dueling Brumbys/Inaris

Here are two Brumby/Inari tee duos I made recently. I don’t have that many high-waisted bottoms, and it has been so hot that I can barely stand any tight clothing right now, but this combo is working pretty well for me. I am looking forward to cooler weather so I can wear the tees with jeans.

First up: Inari tee. Wow, I had no idea how much I would love this. I have a couple of simple tank patterns in my stash already, so I was hesitant to purchase another simple tee pattern, but this is great. I have not really explored the world of CROP TOPS too much, but I think I will be making more of these. The fit is swingy and forgiving, and if I wear high-waisted bottoms, no midriff shows. I remember when shirts got really long so many years ago, and I have been used to that, so this is a very big change for me. From cutting out the PDF to finishing this shirt, I think it took 2.5 hours to make. SO SATISFYING.

Brumby Skirt Notes: I have made 4 of these so far, and I love them all. Its also a quick sew, and I am surprised by how easy it is to wear such a high-waisted skirt. I wear them all the time! Totally recommend this pattern.

colorful wax print inari tee

colorful wax print inari tee

colorful wax print inari tee




The white linen Inari was originally going to be the dress version, but the bottom hem was hanging so weird and I was very disappointed with it, so I cut it to be the tee. The bodice front and back are underlined with a slippery white lining fabric.

This Brumby has Hong Kong finished seams, and I used lace tape to finish the hand-sewed blind hem. I love this skirt. I also finished the waist with rick rack so it pokes out a teeny bit when I tuck a shirt into it. I also made a serious effort to match the plaids. I cut the pocket and waistband on the bias.

brumby_hem_tape_hongkong_seams   rick_rack_brumby

Brumby 1: black linen from Joann
Inari 1: wax print cotton from Tissus Regent in Montreal
Brumby 2: madras from a street vendor in Lyon, France
Inari 2: white linen gauze from Tessuti Fabrics in Surrey Hills, Sydney.

Another Archer.

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetI made another archer. What a versatile, well-written pattern. I really like making button ups because its the right mix of technical sewing, but pretty quick to make, and very very satisfying. The finished shirt blends right in with my RTW wardrobe. …Well, this one might not because its very very loud. I was at a loss for what color thread to use, but I think I should have used a darker blue to blend in. Those topstitching lines really stand out, I had to rip things out quite a few times to make sure it looked great. Overall I am very proud of this one.

back view of archer button up shirt
front view of archer button up shirt
messing around with the grass behind me…
closeup of archer button up shirt, wooden buttons
wooden buttons
back view of shirt
Popping the collar to show the polkas

Things to remember for next time:

  • I didn’t pay attention to right vs wrong sides for the left and right front (I cut 2 left fronts with the idea that I’d trim down the 1 for the right front) along with the rest of my pieces with the fabric folded) and ended up having to switch the side that the button band goes on, so it looks a little bit odd.
  • I hemmed the shirt with single-fold bias tape, which is super fast and easy, but I don’t think it looks as professional as a baby hem. I might rip it out and redo it..



Floral shirting from Blackbird Fabrics. Polka dots were scraps from my stash

Buttons are from All Buttons Great and Small in Enmore, Sydney

Photos by Leah Vautar, who is about to set out on her journey west to CA😦

Summer dreams

I made Stylish Dress Book Dress I with some beautiful Anna Marie Horner Loominious fabric. I made it before we went to NZ as a summer weight, shapeless dress for those super hot days when nothing that is form fitting is bearable to wear. It was lovely for the trip, and now that its 90 degrees out and very very humid at home, it is getting the job done now. I lined the front and back bodice with some of my leftover owl-print voile, and made a contrast neck band with that blue silk that keeps on sneaking its way into projects. I added inseam pockets, although they are too low to comfortably put my hands in them. Oh, well. It is nice how forgiving these Japanese dresses are to make, but it spoils me because each one I make turns into a workhorse of a dress, and I don’t even have to work that hard to make it fit nicely.

Thank you, Anna Salamon for snapping some pics during our picnic today.


Stylish Dress Book, dress I from above.


side shot of the dress. note the saucy pose.
accidental stripe matching on point.
I used the wrong side of the fabric for the waistband.