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!

rocquaine_sweater_6rocquaine_sweater_4rocquaine_sweater_3Jacob is killin’ it with the photos!

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.

back of farrow dress by grainline studio

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.

front of farrow dress by grainline studio

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!

Autumn.

A few weeks ago, Grainline posted Sarah’s “fall wardrobe inspiration” and I was quite smitten with the Steven Alan dress she featured. I decided to hack the Archer shirt into a homage to that dress with some vintage plaid I’ve been saving. I added a very slight a-line shape to the dress, and made a shirttail hem. I planned to put in the patch pockets, but just never got around to it. I could hack apart the side seams and do it, if I really want to. I thought it looked a little blah when I was done, especially in the waist, so I added a bias-cut channel and created a drawstring waist. Its a teeny bit short but I am really happy with how it turned out; I think it will be great for autumn. Buttons are blackened brass from Fringe Supply Co. archer shirtdressarcher shirtdressarcher shirtdress

Also finally got around to photographing my Stonecutters cardigan by Amy Christoffers. I finished this in late winter last year and didn’t have much of a chance to wear it before it warmed up. I LOVE it and I am so happy with the Imperial Stock Ranch Columbia yarn.stonecutters cardiganstonecutters cardiganstonecutters cardigan

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Fitting one of the muslins in nasty mauve fabric.
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back view of an early bodice muslin
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Working on the drape.
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EEEP final fabric!!!!
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One of the final fittings.
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Back drape.
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Cut out and sewed the skirt!
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.

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Pre-hemming.
DEAR LORD, pinned hem. This took SO LONG.

I 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.

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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.