Tova Dress.

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I am several years late to the Tova Dress party, but I’ve finally made my entrance. I had this Italian double-cloth shirting remnant from Firecracker Fabrics in my stash since Spring, and just couldn’t figure out what to make with it. I agonized over deciding, looking up every indie dress pattern I could think of and then googling to see how other people’s looked. You can see my final decision was the Tova. (I am also wearing my Wiksten Oversized Kimono jacket from Making Magazine!)

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I think I would have been happier with this if I made it a few years ago. There’s nothing wrong with the pattern, I just should have chosen a pattern with more shaping, because I now realize that’s what I was after. If I make this again, I would extend the center front fold line to create more gathers. On this version, it was barely enough to get any at all. The collar also lays a little wonky, and the back neck sits away from my body. I think this pattern would be a better match for thinner or drapier fabric.

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I do love the “rich” feel of this fabric, and I like where I used the contrast side vs the right side on the cuff binding, placket and collar stand. I think once I break it in a little bit I will like it more.

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We had a very unseasonably warm sunny day, so we headed down to Battery Park to take these pics. Very windy, which I bet you could have already guessed!

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PJ Shorts

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My favorite sleepwear is a t-shirt and PJ shorts. I can’t do sleep pants, they always bag up around my knee which drives me nuts, so I stick with shorts. I found the City Gym Shorts pattern from Purl Soho awhile back and made a pair from some scraps (previously unblogged), with great success. This weekend, I wanted a quick sew and I had been meaning to make another pair. I had a fabulous 80s silk remnant from the Center for Creative Reuse in my stash, and happened to have coordinating purple bias tape (also from PCCR!!), so I thought why not!! These came together so quickly, in less than 2 hours. On this new pair, I made the side hem split significant bigger, but otherwise followed the pattern exactly. I was surprised by how much better I have gotten at applying bias tape to fiddly fabrics. Practice really does make “perfect” (btw these are not perfect by any means).

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Super comfy, and very luxurious in silk!

Lined Drawstring Pouch Tutorial

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I made lined drawstring and zipper pouches for Christmas gifts this year. Since we moved and majorly downsized our living space, I have become much more aware of “stuff” and didn’t want to add more clutter to people’s lives. But… I saw bella_zilber‘s photo of some beautiful drawstring pouches she made, and I kept going back to it, thinking what nice gifts they would be. At the very least, someone can reuse these as gift wrap for their own giving! I made one test pouch to figure out exactly how to make them before cutting out several more, since all I had to go on was Bella’s photo. I wanted to share how I did it, in case you want to make one, too.

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How to make this lined drawstring pouch:
Notes: All seam allowances are 1/2″. Its very simple to adjust the height/width of your bag. Experiment to see what you like! This is a great scrap-user-upper. It takes very little fabric to make one. You will need: 4 bag pieces, 2 top strap pieces, and 2 drawstring pieces.

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  1. Create your pattern: Cut a sturdy piece of manilla (or cardboard, or pattern paper, whatever you’ve got) into a rectangle at your desired dimensions. I created an 8″ x 5.5″ rectangle, and curved the bottom corner. Cut out 2 lining and 2 fabric pieces on the fold.
  2. Next, cut 2 11″ x 3″ (size note: basically, cut the width as wide as your main pouch piece is wide. You want the straps to be a little bit skinnier than your pouch, and double turning the side seams will make this happen), turn the side seams of the top straps’ seam allowances and sew. TIP: Sew the folded side down and the right side up on your machine so the nicer looking stitches will show.top straps
  3. Fold the top straps in half, hot-dog style and lay on each outer pouch piece, right sides together, and raw edges aligned. Baste a little bit smaller than your seam allowance.sew_top_straps
  4. Position the lining, right sides together so the top strap is in the middle of the sandwich. I turned the sandwich so the outer pouch piece faces up so I can be sure to sew outside the original stitching line. Sew, then press the lining and outer pouch piece away from the top strap. Repeat for other outer pouch piece, top strap, and lining. Make sure your placement lines up between both of the pouch sides!top_straps_3
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  5. Open up the sewn pouch groups so the lining is away from each outer pouch piece, and the top strap is face up. Align the second pouch group right sides together on top, so right side lining 1 matches right side lining 2, and right side outer pouch piece faces right side outer pouch piece. You realllly want to make sure your seams line up here. See how mine are a teensy bit off? You want to make it more perfect than that.right_sides_togetherSew around the outside of the pouch pieces, leaving a 2″ gap in the lining so you can turn the pouch right side out. I like to put two pins close together to remind myself to leave a gap.
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  6. Trim the seam allowances and clip the curves. Turn the pouch right side out. Press. Sew the lining hole shut, either by hand or by machine (if you want your bag to be reversible, its a good idea to hand-stitch).DSC_5395
  7. Create the drawstrings. Cut 2 1.25″ x 25″ strips (or ~2.5x as wide as your finished bag is to allow room for knotting the ends), and fold in half lengthwise and press. Open the fold, and press each edge into the center. Fold in half again and sew the fold shut. “Thread” each drawstring through the top straps, and knot each end. I had no trouble pushing these through by themselves since the linen is fairly stiff, but you may need to use a safety pin if your fabric is being fiddley. You could also use cording if you didn’t feel like making drawstrings.drawstring_1
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Yay!!! All done! You can experiment with different widths and heights, and go for a curved bottom, or do a rectangular one, or maybe a pointy triangle bottom?? Or scallops?

These bags turned out so lovely, and were quick to make, especially once I got into a rhythm after making the first one. I also made two zipper pouches using Flossie Teacake’s tutorial. A great way to use up scraps!

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Making Mag!

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A little bit late to the party…. I am honored to be a part of Making’s No. 4 issue, Lines. My contribution is a Bento Bag “recipe” designed to use up scraps. These bags make lovely lunch carriers, knitting WIP bags, or extra-special homemade gift wrap. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to have a pattern in print!!! It is so cool! When I received the issue in the mail, I was blown away by the exquisite creativity of every single project. I was so enamored with Jenny Gordy‘s Kimono Jacket, I decided I had to make one immediately! I got some sienna washed linen from fabric.com, as well as some beautiful Liberty Tresco for the lining (treat yo self!). The result is a lovely oversized jacket that is the perfect layer for fall, and oh so soft both inside and out. Its heavy and drapy and comforting, just like Jenny intended.

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This jacket does use a lot of fabric, so be aware of that. If I make another one, I will cut the neck cuff pieces a little bit longer so I have more wiggle room at the bottom hem. I had to fudge the seam allowances to make them line up with the hem. Why does this always happen to me? I cut the size S, and I am glad I didn’t go M.

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See all the wonderful projects for yourself. Order a copy of the newest Making mag (or pick up one from a local stockist)!

Big News & A Wintry Archer

Its been too long! We had a big life change over the past few months, we moved from our beloved Pittsburgh to the Big Apple. Its been quite a transition from going to a huge old house to a tiny (not actually tiny by NYC standards) apartment in Manhattan. It was very difficult to not be able to sew during this transition!!! One of my top priorities was setting up the sewing zone so I could get back at it. Before we moved, I did my best to donate non-necessary supplies, fabric, scraps and tools that I don’t use because I knew our space would be very limited. So, here is where we stand:

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I still have some organizing to do (and I do have shelves off-camera with wayyyy more supplies), but this setup is working pretty well so far. So, what was the first thing I made after setting up the space? An Archer! Haha.

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I’ve had this Rag and Bone “cotton” from Mood sitting in my stash for over a year, patiently waiting to be made into something. Cotton is in quotes because although this material was labeled as such, it feels much more like an airy-spun wool. I also picked out buttons at Mood to go with it. I tried very hard to take my time and I think it really paid off, I am so happy with this shirt!! I cut the back yoke and the front button band on the bias, and did my best to match the plaids everywhere else. I used organza for the interfacing, and it works so well. It very warm! I used some cotton from my first Archer for the under collar, inside collar stand, and inner yoke, and it helps offset the slight scratchiness of the fabric.

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Tiki Uniforms!

I took on an exciting project last year to make uniforms for Hidden Harbor, a super awesome tiki bar in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. A friend who works there hooked me up with this job– apparently they had been looking for fitted ladies’ shirts for a long time but kept coming up short with ways to make it happen. Over the past year or so, I’ve made several shirts and skirts for the ladies of Hidden Harbor, as well as shirts for the men.

The fabric is all custom printed Spoonflower basic cotton ultra, some available publicly, but some is custom-designed especially for Hidden Harbor.

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I made wrap skirts and short-sleeved shirts for the ladies, and short sleeve shirts for the men. Overall, it was a great learning experience, and I am so glad I did it!

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Their drinks, by the way, are absolutely delicious. Go try them!!!

Lois Dress

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I whipped up the new Lois Dress from Tessuti. We have a couple of weddings coming up, and I wanted to make a new dress to wear to one of them. Overall, it was fun to sew, especially the neckline seam! I french seamed everything, except for the waistband. I zigged that seam as well as the dart seam allowance, as specified. I cut a 8-6-10, and was very nervous that the seams wouldn’t line up right with all that grading between sizes, but overall I am very happy with it. I had to extend the side darts A LOT, they stuck out exactly where my hips are widest and it looked really bad. So bad that I didn’t think I would ever wear it. But I stopped over to consult with my sewing teacher and she quickly pinned out the darts to extend several more inches down the side, and now its MUCH better. I also had to redo a little bit of the side zip to take in a little bit more of the dart.

One important note: the skirt pieces require 55″ wide fabric. I neglected to realize this until I had cut out the pattern and laid out all the pieces to cut out, and saw the front skirt was extending past the fabric. I slashed the pattern and brought in the a-line to accommodate my 43″ fabric. By the way, this is silk CDC from Mood that I got awhile back. I bought 2 yards, and it was JUST enough. I had barely any scraps left after I cut everything out.

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The neckline is very risqué, but I like it! I tried on several bras with it, but none of them are low enough to not show when wearing the dress. If I make this again, I will underline the front bodice to provide a little bit more… coverage?

Overall, I love it, especially the midi length. I wore it to dinner for our anniversary last night, and am planning to wear it to a wedding this weekend!!! Update: Here is a shot from the wedding:

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Rigel Bomber Jacket!

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I finally joined the Rigel Bomber Jacket club! I bought the supplies to make this in the fall, but other projects took priority, so this sat in my sewing room, cut out and ready to sew, for several months. The gray wool is from the Center For Creative Reuse, the Liberty lining is from The Fabric Store in LA, ribbing is from Mood, and the zipper is from Pacific Trimmings. Wowza!

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I followed Ginger Make’s tutorial to line the jacket, and it was overall pretty easy and definitely worth the effort. I got tripped up with sewing the little tabs at the bottom of the zipper, I ended up slip-stitching that part shut. I am super happy with this jacket, overall, and I can’t wait for it to get chilly so I can take it out for a spin. I am a little worried that its too plain, but I can jazz it up with some enamel pins and a scarf.

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Archer For a Friend.

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I made a sleeveless Archer a few years ago using Grainline’s awesome tutorial, and I wear it all the time, even though its a white-with-bright-stripes 90s-looking seersucker. My friend Chrissy saw me wearing it one day and commented on how much she loved it, so I decided to make her one for her birthday.

I had some leftover all-white seersucker, but it was barely enough to cut out the shirt. I had to get a little creative with the pattern piece placement: I cut the button band and pockets the wrong way. I didn’t even have enough left to cut the inside yoke, so I used some light micro-floral cotton. I also used it on the under-collar as a subtle way to introduce some color to an otherwise stark white shirt. It took me a long time to settle on a fabric that wouldn’t show through the seersucker too much. I really struggled with buttons, I spent forever comparing at the fabric store before settling on these taupey gray ones. This is the first time I used a teeny button for the collar stand, and I like how it turned out. I also recently got a buttonhole cutter and some fray check, and WOW they improve the finish to look much more professional!

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I am so happy with this shirt, especially because I look at it and see such great strides in craftsmanship since the last time I made one.

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A Baby blanket.

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Two of our close friends just had a baby, and a month before they were due, I decided I wanted to make them a baby blanket. I needed to do something simple, since it was so close to the due date, and they were not finding out the gender of the baby ahead of time. I went fabric.com surfing for some double gauze, and happened upon this ADORABLE Cotton + Steel print, called “Dog Lion.” I ordered 1.5 yards of it, 1.5 yards of plain C+S double gauze, and some cotton batting, and got to planning. I used this Purl Soho tutorial as a guide, but used the max width of the fabric, and as much length as I got out of the 1.5 yards. It ended up being a little over 40×50 as the pattern suggests. I did regular corners vs curved ones, and I quilted with some yellow sashiko thread I had waiting in the wings. After I had quilted two rows, I realized I had some yellow twill tape that matched PERFECTLY. It was truly a serendipitous project, and I am so happy with how it turned out. Also, the double gauze is SO SO SO SOFT, I loved quilting it on my lap.

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Since the parents didn’t reveal or know the gender, I went with a more generic tag, the couple’s last name is Haag. Overall, so happy with this quick, whimsical blanket! I hope the parents love it.

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