Lazy sewing days

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These days, when I’m not doing money-making job stuff, you can find me at this desk. My current day job is 3 days a week (40 hours). It leaves me ample time on my days off to wake up late, enjoy a hot breakfast, and then put my feet up while I rip out stitches or slowly make my way through drafting and sewing up a couple muslins. I like this schedule. It’s a happy medium between this past summer’s unemployed-but-still-sewing-full-time fiasco and  school’s I-barely-have-time-this-weekend squeeze. I am a little surprised that I have yet to finish a project since moving here a month ago. But all good things take time, and I’m determined to slow down this fall and winter, to put more care into the creation of the stuff I make. I have high hopes for the chambray fabric that arrived in the mail yesterday.

Now that I think of it, Richmond and its people are also to blame (thank?) for my slow pace lately. There is so much to do and so many friendly people to meet in this lovely southern city. Discoveries happen every day! I’ve visited beautiful parks, found a hole-in-the-wall fabric store, toured a college campus, been invited to sing at a Civil War reenactment, and gone to 2 (two!) music festivals. No wonder the sewing has slowed down.

At this late hour, I’d like to raise up my glass (just water, I promise) and propose a toast. Here’s to my one month anniversary of living in Richmond! And here’s to slow sewing!

Underwater

Underwater

Here’s proof that I actually swam in the bathing suit I made. My mom and I found an old underwater camera with some exposures left, so we finished it up before the pool was closed. Some of these are hanging on the fridge, to remind us of warmer days when winter comes. My bikini held up like a champ in several swimming pools, and I didn’t worry once about whether or not it was slipping off or covering me up.

*:) win*

Hipster Zebra PJ Pants

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As most sewists know, it is both a joy and a challenge to make things for one’s family. I find that my family doesn’t really know how long it takes me to make something, so they come up with all sorts of requests-quilts, hemming or tailoring pants, replacing zippers, curtains… it can be a bother to drop my current project in favor of a last minute request, but I love seeing how my family adores what I’ve made them. A prime example is my dad and PJ pants. Shortly after informing me that he needed new PJ pants (I last made him a pair in 2010) he called me from the fabric store to ask “where is the flannel section?”

“Ask the people who work there” I replied, laughing. “Get 3 yards.”

He showed up with this rad zebras-wearing-glasses print in a medium weight flannel. I pulled out the old pattern and whipped up a pair, complete with buttoned fly.

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I remember the winter I made his last pair- they were green plaid. I had decided to make flannel PJ pants for the entire family for Hanukkah. Rounding out to 6 pairs- elephants, stripes, Navajo geometric, plaid, Matrishka dolls, and fish prints. I got so good at making them that I churned out the last three pairs in 30 minutes each (I timed it!). They were well received.

Back in the day when flannel was queen and the Hipster Olympics hit a million views, the certain mark of any hipster was a pair of big plastic frames. Those thick glasses have come back into vogue since those early 2K days, but these zebras remind me of those original hipsters.

My dad loves these new PJ pants. I know that when I call home from now on, I will be informed when he wears them and how well they fit. And I’ll grin when I hear it.

dad in pj pants

Thank you Dad for letting me talk about you on the blog.

Upcycled purple hemlock

DIY skirt to shirt

I know I’ve been sharing lots of tops lately, but I’m almost done-  promise! I’m just too pleased with my cleverness on this make to save it for later. It started as a vintage dress  made of a luxurious purple knit. Due to some issues (stains on the bodice, size) it wasn’t readily wearable, so it had been sitting in my stash for about 4 years. Now I know why I saved it! Slow sewing at its finest. Here it is before.

purple dress

The dress had this huge circle skirt made of 4 panels. I ripped off the bodice and folded the skirt in half, then tried to fit as much of each pattern piece on the skirt as possible. I used the Hemlock Tee pattern by Grainline Studio. Here’s what it looked like after I cut it (I whited out the spaces from which I cut the pattern pieces):

cutting diagram

I used the original hand-stitched hem, which made this an eaaasy project. I finished it in a couple hours since I didn’t have to spend time finishing the sleeves and bottom of the shirt. I finished the neck with some self-binding (per pattern instructions). Because the circle skirt was made of 4 panels, the skirt’s original center fron/back seams run down the middle of the shirt and sleeves, and the hems are curved. I think it makes a nice detail.
Upcycled purple dress to shirt

There’s some pulling around the armpits, but I think that’s due to a lower stretch % in the fabric and the fact that I need to clip those armpits closer. Overall, it’s super comfy and just the right weight for this southern fall weather.

In other news…

Excuse me while I get giddy for a moment over the fact that I have a JOB and live in VIRGINIA! Srsly guys, I’ve been dreaming of moving down here since I was 18, and now (at age 25) I’ve arrived! More or less permanently. It feels great to put down roots. Especially in a place as warm (weather and people) as Richmond and close to many, many friends and a phenom creative community. It has been a very happy first couple of weeks.

upcycled shirt

 

Weekend Rambler Skirt :: Snapdragon Studios

Red velvet midi skirt

Recently I discovered midi skirts. A couple weeks before making my Senna dress, I went thrifting and found a vintage midi skirt made of raw silk. I was in love and wore it nonstop through the last few hot days of summer. But summer love ends, and it was soon time to pack it away. So when Kim of Snapdragon Studios contacted me about participating in her blog hop, I took one look at the Weekend Rambler skirt before deciding it was a perfect next project (and immediately emailed her an enthusiastic YES!). While not quite a midi skirt on me, the length is much longer than what I usually wear, and fits right into that midi niche created by my prior thrifted find.

The Weekend Rambler skirt is a beginner project, but quite a clever one. It includes front and back triangular yokes and ingeniously fits two pockets into the front. I made mine from a rich, textured burgundy fabric that was found at an estate sale. I was saving it for something special, and this fits the bill. Its a great fall skirt, especially with a light sweater, tights and boots. The fabric is so warm that I’m sure I’ll be wearing it into the winter.

Onto the details: I made a size M skirt, but took 2″ off of the hem (to make it a petite size) and 1″ out from the side seams (so it would sit at my natural waist). I also made a 1/4″ swayback adjustment at the back yoke (booty booty). I’d say my skirt is in between sizes S and M. The pockets I lined in a gold colored cotton- I like how it peeks out just a little and looks like piping.

Weekend Rambler skirt

There was a bit of a zipper snafu- I accidentally bought a regular zipper instead of the invisible zipper recommended by the pattern. So I decided to insert it as a lapped zipper instead. In the process I accidentally inserted the zipper 1/4″ too low, so there is a little gap at the top (but it doesn’t make much difference in terms of fit).

I used the same gold cotton as the inner waistline facing and serged all seam allowances.

skirt detail

Another great thing about this skirt is that, even though the yokes look complicated, the instructions make them very easy to match up. I’d definitely recommend this pattern to any beginner sewist looking to upgrade from making pillows and PJ pants. If you want to check out the other projects on the blog hop, here’s the schedule:

9/3: Morgan at Thread Theory

9/10: Beth at Sew 110 Creations

9/17: Meg at Cookin’ and Craftin’

10/1: Teri at Fa Sew La

10/8: Maris at Sew Maris

red velvet midi skirt

Ladybugs and Licorice

Fabric Swap Hoopes Park Studios

Marilla had this wonderful idea a couple months ago to organize a special fabric swap. But it wasn’t any old fabric swap- it was a hand-printed fabric swap. Time to break out the stamps and fabric paint!

My swap partner was Charlotte of English Girl at Home. She is one timely seamstress, because only a couple weeks after receiving the fabric I sent her, she has already made a cute, mod-style dress out of it!  It is so cool to see my fabric being worn.


Before I start rambling about my printing process, here’s what she sent me:

ladybug print

Oooh, aaah. Chambrayyyyy. With ladybugs. It’s simple but thoughtfully detailed- just my style!

*Update 9/26/14- Here is a link to the full fabric swap round-up. Some gorgeous fabrics were made. I’d highly recommend checking them out*

Read on for more about my dyeing and printing process.

Continue Reading

Slinky Senna

 

E-photo 3 (3)It’s slinky, it’s sexy, and it’s easy to make. It’s the Senna dress! Excuse me while I saunter all over town like Sophia Vergara in this perfectly balanced kimono top and ruched midi skirt. It’s a bombshell- I bet Marilyn Monroe would have worn a gold Senna. It’s clingy around the bottom, but long enough and loose (on top) enough to be super classy. My version is made of a busy cotton/lycra knit from JoMar (Philly love!). It’s a veritable dot party!

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I was a pattern tester for Design by Lindsay’s Senna dress. She was a joy to work with, and the pattern was so good the first time around that I hardly had any feedback to give her! It sewed up quickly (two short evenings) with only a few fitting adjustments. I made view A in a size 8 top and size 10 skirt. I made a mini swayback adjustment and lined the back of the skirt in self fabric to hide panty lines (gaah I hate that word).

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If I made it again, I’d make it in a solid color to show off the ruching more… dark grey or black maybe? I’m almost afraid to make a second version of this dress, because it might be the only thing I wear out. And I don’t go OUT that much, but wearing this dress might be an excuse to go out, since it’s all confidence-boosting and beer-belly-hiding. My wallet is cringing at the thought of visiting all those Richmond bars. So it’s up to you, my readers, to go forth and make your own Senna dress. Get slinky! You can find the pattern here and Lindsay’s blog here.

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*I was not paid to test this pattern, and was given a free copy of the final pattern as compensation.  This post contains only my own opinions. I love to support independent pattern companies and believe that pattern testing is a valuable resource to new designers*

Quick+Easy Inseam Zipper Tutorial

 

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I’m back with the inseam zipper tutorial! Look/read on:

pants diagram

Rip open the inseam slightly shorter than the zipper you are going to insert and tack it at the end of the opening (so it rips no further). With the zipper closed, carefully pin one side to the seam allowance so that the old seam line (the one you just ripped out) is flush with the middle of the zipper. Use your zipper foot to sew in the first side of the zipper. Starting at the top of the zipper, with the zipper closed, carefully pin it to the second seam allowance so that the sides of the inseam match up. Open the zipper and sew into place. Check that the zipper can close and open easily and that the inseam hides the zipper when closed.  Hand tack the cuff into place (if you are altering a pair of slacks) or redo the hem. Turn the pants inside out and sew the top of the zipper to the seam allowance.

Other tips

  • make sure that the zipper pull, when the zipper is closed and the zipper pull is hanging down, does not hang more than a couple millimeters past the end of the hem
  • the zipper should open at the bottom, at the hem of the pant leg
  • trim the top of the zipper or sew a piece of cloth over it so that the sharp end does not scratch the wearer or the artificial limb
  • encase the bottom of the zipper in the hem when finishing the pants

Happy altering! If you have any questions let me know.

 

 

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Artificial Limbs and Garment Fittings

The story: Growing up, my family had a good friend named Ed. Like most people, Ed had two complete legs. Unlike most people, one of those legs caused him a lot of medical problems. Four years ago, he lost part of that leg (the right one) below the knee, and had to get an artificial limb. Once he recovered from the surgery and got used to his new high-tech limb, life mostly returned to normal (as normal as it can get after losing a leg). There was one major problem besides his lack of leg- pants. Ed travels a lot for work and spends a lot of time flying on planes. When I get on a plane, I find my seat, shove my bag under the seat in front of me, buckle up, kick off my shoes, and settle down with a good book. Easy peasy. For Ed, it’s a bit of a problem. On long flights, it may be necessary to adjust the leg or even remove it (on an overnight flight). However, he can’t do that without removing his pants.

Ed found an ingenious solution- inseam zippers. Adding a zipper along an inseam makes it very easy for Ed to remove his leg if he wishes, or show his leg to airport security for inspection. The zipper provides quick and easy access for any adjustments he may need to make as well.

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Thought those were regular pants? They all have inseam zippers!

Soon after he lost his leg, Ed showed up at my parents’ house with a pair of bespoke pants that included a zipper in the right inseam. He enlisted me to create more of these. I’ve slowly worked my way through his closet, inserting 20 and 22 inch zippers in the inseams of many pairs of pants. As the process has gone on, I’ve gotten good at quickly inserting invisible zippers. The process is simple and works best on pants without a flat felled inseam.

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This is one of the coolest and most unusual projects I’ve ever undertaken. I could go on all day about it, but I’ll leave off here. Check back tomorrow for the tutorial! Thanks Ed for letting me write about you!

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Taking sewing on the road

Have you ever taken your sewing studio on the road or to a temporary space? Do you know any sewing friends in Richmond?

Moving day is here. For those of you who don’t know, I’m moving to Richmond, Virginia! Which means I’m moving out of my big studio space, into a small room in a friend’s house. Which means that all this sewing stuff had to be pared down to the essentials:

cluttered sewing space

even more clutter

Here’s what I’ve decided to take:

  • Sewing machine
  • pins and magnet
  • fabric scissors
  • enough fabric for my next couple projects
  • a couple patterns
  • measuring tape
  • some thread
  • a little bag of buttons

Everything (except the machine) fits in this very nice bin:

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These are the things I find myself using 99% of the time (except my serger). I would love to bring along more fabric, patterns, chalk, and other fancy shmancy things that I use occasionally, but there isn’t room. It has to fit in my car with all my other STUFF. Which I have been purging like a madwoman for the past few weeks. It feels gooood to get rid of so much, but I still have a lot left over.

I’ll be back for the rest of my sewing stuff at some point, once I’ve found a more permanent living situation with more space. For now, goodbye my lovelies!

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