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!

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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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.

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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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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.