An Eyelet Ruby Dress

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I made my 3rd Ruby dress from Tessuti. I LOVE this pattern so much. It is so fast to make and is easy to wear. I had been dreaming this up for a few months, but just didn’t have time to make it until now.

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I bought the eyelet from Mood fabrics last year, and when I was checking out, the eyelet bolt happened to lay on top of someone else’s bright mauve (what? just trust me it was a bright mauve) fabric and I loved the pop of color, but regrettably I did not buy it. The idea of eyelet with a bright pop color underneath stuck with me, though.

I ended up using some almost-neon-yellow super soft voile from Firecracker Fabrics and used that to underline this dress. I took a lot of inspiration from the Ruby hack that Tessuti posted awhile ago, especially the back, but instead of binding the armholes, I made a front and back facing using this tutorial. I liked the look of the binding so I kept it for the neckline. I bound the seams (except the center back..) with bias tape, which really helped to neaten the inside of the garment. I had aspirations of hiding the back bodice within the facing, but it would have stuck out of the dress, so I hand-stitched the bodice lining to the center back instead. I had the crochet-covered button in my stash and I think it fits the look of the dress perfectly.

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A Whimsical Collared Shirt

Although I thought I was sick of making collared shirts, last year Bellbird posted (only on instagram I think) an offbeat collared shirt, Blaire by Style Arc, that I thought was so lovely, I had to give it a try. I bought this “wrong way” striped Italian shirting last year, and I thought this would be the perfect candidate. I saw the fabric at Loom, and after leaving the store without buying it, went back the next day because I kept thinking about it. Unfortunately, they only had 1 yard left!

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I set out to make the dress version, but I thought it looked too “hospital gown-y,” so I opted to rip out the bottom half (and the topstitched pockets…) and recut it into the shirt version. I think this is a better use of the stripes since I cut the under panels the wrong way.

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This was overall medium-hard to sew. The directions had a lot of typos that made it very confusing, but I muddled through. The hardest part was hemming the curves on the shirt. I don’t think I did the best job… oh well. I think I have finally learned my lesson about matching the thread to the project, I am sad about how bad the white thread sticks out, especially on the dark Liberty-print inner collar stand. This fabric was not forgiving with ripping out stitches, so I left it, but in the future I pledge to always match each bobbin’s thread to the corresponding fabric!

style_arc_blaire_frontOne other note– the pattern specifies 3/8″ seam allowances, but I used french seams throughout. Since this is such a boxy fit, I thought it would work out fine to have a little extra seam allowance in there. The only thing I didn’t account for was sewing the sleeve cuffs with the extra allowance, too, so they lined up with the sleeves.

Overall, loving it!

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Acton for a Spring Wedding…

I got this beeeeeautiful silk crepe de chine in Montreal last summer, and have been plotting a spring dress ever since. After finding out my friend had a wedding planned in April, I knew this print could turn into the perfect attire for the brunch-themed party. I decided to make another Action, since the design seems timeless and I had already fitted it from my linen version.

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I lengthened the skirt to the mid-calf, and since the fabric is 60″ wide, I added as much fullness as the fabric allowed (using In The Fold’s great tutorial as a guide!). I lined the skirt with some Bemberg Ambience, since I have found after a few wears that I wish my other version had one (a half-slip goes pretty oddly with the cut of the bodice).

I ended up very down to the wire (I finished it 2 hours before we had to leave), so I machine-sewed a rolled hem using the tried-and-true Colette tutorial. I had some issues sewing down the bodice lining, so I hand-tacked it in a few places and decided I will revisit it sometime in the near future.

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Our “backyard” hasn’t filled in yet, plant-wise, so its a little barren as a backdrop, but I wanted to snap some pics while wearing it post-wedding, since its sorta hard to just on a whim throw it on and snap some photos. It got a lil wrinkly from wearing it for several hours, too…

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Overall, I am very happy with the dress! It was perfect for the beautifully sunny spring day we had!

Acton Dress

I made an Acton dress! I’ve been eyeing this pattern up for a long time, and finally decided to go for it… with some lovely gray “luxe” linen and some super-fun Liberty I bought during our LA trip at The Fabric Store.

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I rode my bike to the Phipps since it was so nice out (!!), but I think it made the dress extra rumpled for these photos, especially in the bust and waist.

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I was pretty meticulous about lining up seams and making sure everything looked perfect, but was in a rush to finish sewing the straps, so I neglected to realize I did not line them up correctly. The top back also didn’t line up! Wow what a miss. It was surprisingly easy to perform surgery through the lining to fix it this morning, though.

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… see? All better now.

The instructions for this pattern were GREAT!!! I loved the technique of sewing the lining to the center back seam, it was so easy and looks really professional. I usually hand-sew the lining at the zipper, but this looks better and is more sturdy. Speaking of the zipper…. my local fabric store didn’t have a grey zipper, so I went purple, and I really like it. It peeks out a tiny bit when I am wearing it, but its so fun! Overall, this is a great pattern… it is a tiny bit unflattering in the waist area, but I think I made it a skosh too tight. I made a bodice muslin in a straight size D, and then ended up taking in the side seams by 1″ on the final fabric’s side front and side back bodice (and as a result,I had to take in the skirt side seam 1″ in at the waist and grade out to the size D). Next time, I think I will take it in 1/2″ or so instead, so there’s more wiggle room.

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Thanks to Claire and Kelsey for taking some impromptu photos at the Phipps yesterday!

Bertoia Chair Cushions

A few weeks ago I happened upon some kelly green Knoll Bertoia chairs at Construction Junction. I had been looking around for some dining chairs to replace our benches for months, and was having trouble finding something that hit the spot perfectly between stylish, comfortable and not insanely expensive. I was scrolling through instagram and saw that CJ had received a generous donation of 29 Knoll chairs, and I lost all ability to concentrate the rest of the day at work. I left work early to buy them, and its a good thing I did. I purchased them and had to come back with Jacob’s car, and by the time I got back the rest of the lot was gone. The four chairs I snagged were a little (a lot) dirty, but I washed them up with some dish soap and a scrub brush and they all came pretty clean. One chair has some rust / damage on the legs (you can see its the bottom left one below), but otherwise they are great!

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I knew these needed cushions, but I didn’t want to spend the $$$$ on real Knoll ones since they are so expensive. I didn’t see too many ideas out there about how to make your own, but I did find this post with some clues on how to draft a pattern that matches the original pads pretty closely.

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I drew up my version in Illustrator, printed it and went for it. Jacob picked out some beige/green/red striped upholstery fabric at Mood during our LA trip, and I had just enough to cut 4 pads worth, plus bias tape to bind the edges. I filled each cushion with 2 pieces of 1″ thick batting. I machine-stitched the first seam on the edges, and then hand-sewed the other side shut. So far so good, we will see how they hold up!

PS I got some clip-on felt glides for the bottom of these. They are really hard to put on, but I think it will help keep them in good shape.

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A Warm Weather Escape

Jacob and I finally took a trip to LA. We had both never been! We stayed with our friend Claire, who was the best hostess and tour guide (thanks, Claire!!). She showed us so much in a long weekend: the Hollyhock House, Rand, Santa Monica beach, Venice beach, the Getty, Monterey Park, The Fabric Store, Mood, and SO MUCH MORE! We left Pittsburgh’s 15 degree winter snowscape and embraced the mid 70s and sun. It did rain the first day, but it was still glorious to not wear socks and a winter coat.

I also used this opportunity of good weather + nice camera to coerce Jacob into getting some shots of 2 me-made things I have not had a chance to photograph before now (thank you honey!).

Here is a Brumby I made last summer from some Anna Marie Horner rayon challis. I accidentally used FABRIC STABILIZER instead of interfacing because I had an unlabeled pile of each next to each other. I didn’t realize my mistake until I had finished. Oops. I did the exposed zipper, using Megan’s super clear instructions, and I like the resulting “grittiness” of it contrasted with the sweetness of the print. Great for a spring day, or any day in LA, apparently. These were taken somewhere between the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach.

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Claire got some pics of my Hannah Dress in the Bradbury building! This building is breathtaking, even though you are only allowed in part of the lobby. I was not expecting to be so blown away, but wow, what amazing craftsmanship. New construction just isn’t the same. The day before we went to the Getty, which is also incredibly impressive, but just does not hold a candle to work like this.

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I had a really cumbersome time making this dress (as I mentioned in a previous post). I changed the front neckline, I did not care for the placket. I think if I make it again, I would go up a size in the shoulders/bust, its pretty tight there. It is a very comfortable dress (except for the shoulder fit), and the pockets are fun to hang out in, but I don’t think it is terribly flattering on me, it certainly doesn’t really photograph too well. So, not sure if I will end up making it again. It is silly to say, I guess, but I wish the back darts weren’t covered by the criss-cross overlay.

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Well there ya go. Great weather, great company and great food! What more can you ask for in a trip?

Rocquaine/Gifts

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I made the Rocquaine sweater (rav link) from PomPom Quarterly’s Fall 2016 collection. I wanted to make something a little out of my comfort zone– it has a semi-cropped fit, and I had never made a gansey before. It seemed like a great learning project. This went very quickly, and I love how BT’s Arbor knits up, very spongy and light. I haven’t knit with BT yarns before, but it seems like this is a heavier yarn for them than the rest! I will have to give Shelter a try soon.

I messed up a little bit on the front gansey panel, I didn’t start the rig and furrow motif soon enough, so it starts a little late. Its very unnoticeable, though, so I am okay with it. I like the texture so much!

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On another note, I made my mom and sister some mitered-corner Essex linen napkins for Christmas. After making 16 napkins, I have discovered a trick to help make a more professional finish. At first, after sewing the miters and pressing, I had so much excess fabric in the middle of each side, and couldn’t figure out where I went wrong. After going back to double-check my measurements, I found that pressing from the middle of each side before pressing the corners made a huge difference and eliminated the excess ease. I think the miters can be deceiving when pressing them first, and they can throw a lot of slack to the long sides instead of sucking some up themselves. After adopting this method, sewing the hem became a breeze. Anyway, totally recommend these napkins, I love them and the fabric is perfect for an everyday napkin. I might make some more for me!

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Bonus: Jacob snapped a pic of the silver dollar patch after some rain. I love how moody this is.silver_dollar

Dove/Salt and Pepper.

I had some leftover linen from Joann’s and I decided to use it to make a trial Dove top. I really would like to make the bell sleeve version, I just haven’t found enough of the right fabric yet. The shape of the top is very “modern” and its loose in a way that makes me feel like I am trying with my outfit. I took a page out of Elizabeth Suzann’s book and am considering linen a year-round fabric, instead of just for summer, and I am trying to embrace the wrinkles.dsc_1827dsc_1828

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Totally embracing the wrinkles here.

I used some leftover Liberty of London for the facings, and I used the beautiful selvedge edges where I could, like in the center front seam. Why are linen selvedges always so whimsical?

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While we were on our family beach walk, I found some awesome silver dollar plants growing in the brush. I snuck in to get some.

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The cowl is based on Purl Soho’s Salt and Pepper cowl. I sort of just followed the spirit of the cowl, the idea of two yarns, alternating rows, and using one yarn for the ribbing. I used some hand spun alpaca yarn from my friend’s mom’s farm, and the white is some luxurious cashmere I’ve been saving. I made a pair of mittens from the alpaca last year, and I wanted this to match them. In the past, I think I’ve gone crazy with colors, and want to make more neutrals so I don’t look so wacky when I wear my hand knits.

Yay for family beach walks!

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Thank you to Jacob for taking these beautiful pics!

 

A Farrow Dress

I was so excited by the Farrow dress by Grainline Studio, that I ran out to Spool to pick up a paper copy so I could get started right away. Its funny how sometimes “right away” means going to the store to get the printed pattern, but sometimes it means caving and downloading the PDF.

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I used some lovely, drapey viscose from Blackbird Fabrics and I think it suits this pattern perfectly. For some reason, I had it in my head that the neckline facing was not going to be comfortable, so I semi underlined, semi lined the bodice pieces. It made for some tough decisions when it came time to sew the middle front seam, and to finish the back neckline. I don’t think I would recommend doing it, but it is nice to have an extra layer in there. I also didn’t face the sleeve hems, I just turned them under twice.

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I used a wooden button from All Buttons Great and Small  that I had leftover from a short sleeved linen shirt I made for Jacob. I used Tessuti’s chain button loop tutorial from the Ruby dress to fasten the button. I am happy with this dress, but it is very shapeless, especially once you get past the hips. It was hard for me to find shoes I liked with this. I think the print makes it tricky to wear, too. Overall, though, it was a satisfying instant-gratification sew.

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Coldddd!

Jacob picked out some Zealana possum-blend (60% merino, 30% possum, 10% silk) yarn on our honeymoon to New Zealand, and I finally got some pictures of him wearing the cowl I made with it, since its been SOOO COLD!

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First, some background on possum yarn. Possums in New Zealand are not like the ones here. As a non-native species they are an invasive predator to NZ’s birds. The short of it: New Zealand has a very unique avian population due to its remote location and lack of native mammals. Birds evolved in a very wild way here because they had no natural predators. The most widely known example of this is the Kiwi. Because the possum is killing off their already-endangered birds, NZ is curbing the population of possums wherever possible, and in the process has discovered that their fur makes wonderfully warm yarn. We had to see for ourselves, so I bought some yarn to make a cowl for Jacob. It has a distinct halo when knitted up that you can sorta see here:

lodgepole cowl on bodyI used the Lodgepole cowl pattern, because I wanted to do some colorwork, and I wanted it to be masculine enough so Jacob would happily wear it. I used bamboo DPN’s for this, and I really do not like them at all, for the record. But I think I have two-handed colorwork down now, so maybe I should try a colorwork sweater! HA! I eliminated one of the repeats to make a more snug cowl, and I added a split in the bottom ribbing to curb opportunities for the wind to sneak in to his neck while riding a bike. He has been using it this week since its become suddenly bone-chilling cold. He loves it, and it fits very snugly.

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oops! you can see where my 2×2 ribbing didn’t line up because I eliminated a pattern repeat!