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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One 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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Pittsburgh Fabric Stores Travel Guide

My favorite thing to do when I go on trips is to find the best fabric stores in town and buy some souvenirs from my travels to add to my fabric stash. Here’s a list of my favorite Pittsburgh fabric stores (and other cool stuff nearby) for anyone who comes to visit and is looking for the Good Stuff.

Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse

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courtesy of Google Maps

This store is an elementary school teacher’s dream. It has every type of odds and ends you could ever dream up, organized perfectly. Think of it like the home section of the best Goodwill you can imagine. Their fabric section is in the back corner, and it can be hit or miss, but I have scored some major fabric finds there, as well as other sewing/knitting supplies (like a sleeve board that I use almost every day). It is priced like a Goodwill, too. They have a monthly craft night at Allegheny Wine Mixer which offers on-the-spot craft kits to purchase and make right there for a small fee.

Nearby to do: East End Food Co-op, for a snack and the best bulk-food section in the city, Construction Junction, saved-from-the-landfill building supplies and furniture, Free Ride, where you can build/maintain your own bike, Frick Park, lots of trails and beautiful scenery, and the Frick Art Museum, beautiful estate with free admission to their seasonal traveling art exhibitions.

 

Firecracker Fabrics/Cut and Sew Studio

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Courtesy of Google Maps

Indie-loving fabric and pattern shop with an attached sewing studio that offers a variety of classes.

Nearby to do: Tazza D’Oro Coffee, a cute neighborhood coffee shop with outdoor seating, Park Brugges, Belgian-inspired fare with an excellent draft list, Smiling Banana Leaf, tasty Thai food in an intimate setting (with outdoor seating), Bryant Street Market (fb link, sorry), neighborhood bodega with killer sandwiches, and Highland Park, a beautiful city park with a 1 mile running loop, swimming pool, trails, and a reservoir.

 

Loom Exquisite Textiles

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Courtesy of Google Maps

Very quirky collection of quilting cottons, as well as some apparel fabric, and lovely vintage trims.

Nearby to do: Strip District, a walkable stretch with lots of food shops and retail stores, do not miss Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, Penzey’s Spices, Penn Mac, Gaucho.

 

The Fabric Place

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Courtesy of Google Maps

If you are looking for special occasion fabric, or lycra of any type, this store is for you. They have an amazing supply of spandex due to their large figure-skating client base. They also have an enormous selection of buttons, and are happy to help you find the perfect match for your project. I bought my wedding dress fabric here, and they were extremely knowledgeable and helpful. This store is about a 25 minute drive from the city, but if you are looking for a cute neighborhood to walk around, and have any interest in lyrca, its worth the side trip.

Nearby to do: Mt. Lebanon shops and adorable houses to ogle off the main street, Uptown Coffee, Hitchiker Brewing.

Summer of Basics #2 and #3.

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Continuing on with my second item for #SummerofBasics, I made a self-drafted linen gauze tank, heavily inspired by Karen Templer’s version. I made a patch pocket pattern piece and fully intended to use it, but I forgot to sew them on before joining the front + back, and decided to wait until the top came together to see if it felt right to add them. I think the side slits are too “extreme” to logically accommodate pockets, so I left them off.

I traced a woven tank top I liked to create this pattern. I made a quick muslin to make sure I traced accurately, and then I cut into the little bit of linen gauze I had left from my Tessuti visit last year. This material is pretty sheer, but when its 90 degrees outside with almost 100% humidity, such concerns retreat away through the heavy haze of summer.

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I cut the back along the selvedge in two pieces so I could remember how pretty it is, with its chambray-esque blue and a stripe of green. I used white single-fold bias tape for the neckline and armholes, and french seamed the shoulder and side seams. I made a mistake and double-folded the side slits to the right side (instead of the wrong side) of the garment, but I actually like it as a design feature, so I left it as-is.

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For my #SummerofBasics Number Three, I made a Moss skirt from more of that leftover Essex linen I had in my stash. I thought red would be an unusual color for a skirt, but it turns out that I love it and it doesn’t look unusual at all! I am not sure the essex linen is the best fabric for garments, as it unravels very quickly, but I bound all the seams with bias tape, so hopefully that helps with the skirt’s longevity. I had some berry colored piping and added it to the pockets and I think it adds SO much to the look of the skirt. I used the teeny bit of striped Italian shirting I had left for the waistband and pockets, and I LOVE it so much. Overall, really happy with how this turned out. I do notice that when I wear it, I have to constantly pull at it to make it sit correctly on my hips. I think I made the right size, but I am not sure why this is happening. I might get some true bottom-weight fabric and give it another shot.

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Summer of Basics #1: Maritime Shorts

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I’ve decided to enter the Summer of Basics make-along as a challenge for myself to pepper in practical, plain items along with all the garments with wild prints I am drawn to. Here is my first make, Maritime shorts from Grainline in Essex Linen. I made these once before a few years ago, and have been meaning to make more ever since. I remember being very challenged by the fly, but this time I really focused (turned off those podcasts!) and powered through successfully. I did use a 5″ zipper, because thats what I had, and it turned out fine. I also used a front button instead of a pants hook/eye closure.

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I really love these, especially the tushie pockets! I wore them all weekend, and they are very comfy. I was surprised by how little fabric they take, as well as how quickly I sewed it… I did the whole thing in 1.5 sittings. The trickiest part was the waistband… you have to reallly pay attention to the grain of the fabric and the way each piece is flipped, especially if your fabric has no RS or WS like this linen. One note, I sewed my button hole the wrong way! GAHH!

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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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