The Octopus Negroni Shirt

Colette Negroni shirt

This shirt makes me happy for so many reasons. No other piece of clothing has given me the chance to say the word octopi or the phrase yes, its a very octopussy shirt so many times. I’m also ecstatic to get this out of my queue, since I’d been staring at 3 beautiful yards of cotton lawn octopi for far too long.

Ever since I successfully made an Archer for myself, Marc’s been asking for a short-sleeve shirt of his own. I settled on Negroni by Colette Patterns after seeing Lladybird’s version, so next came the fun/tricky part: finding the ideal fabric. I’ve had decent luck with Fabric.com, whose selection led both Marc and me to the octopi fabric, surprising since—while I loved it—I thought it might be a little too loud for his taste. I guess you don’t really know someone until you go virtual fabric shopping with them.

colette patterns men's negroni shirt

When it came to sewing, I added 2″ to the lengthen/shorten lines, and then made a muslin to test the fit. Marc’s 6’2″ and slim, and the medium fit him great in the body. It turns out I didn’t need to add the length after all, so technically the medium fit him right out of the package. Oh, men. Your lack of hip curves and boobs makes fitting so much easier.

Colette Negroni shirt

Here are the few changes I made to the final product:

  • Used self fabric for the facing, since the “lightweight” fusible interfacing I used on the muslin seemed miiiighty bulky. The Negroni has a pretty wide facing, but this cotton lawn is lightweight enough to feel comfortable while still providing some stability for the buttonholes and buttons. I fused the collar per the instructions, since a little extra stiffness there is fine.
  • Omitted one pocket and sewed it without the flap.
  • Omitted the collar loop. I think it would’ve made the Octopi look smug, or something.

Colette Negroni shirt

The sleeves came out pretty long when hemmed per the instructions, but Marc rolls most of his sleeves so the extra length isn’t a big deal. I cannot stress enough how much I love this Cotton and Steel Tokyo Train Ride fabric (also available in a few other colorways). It sewed like a dream, and the shirt is super soft yet crisp enough to hold its shape. Plus OCTOPI FOR DAYS! They’re so cute that I don’t even care that the yoke is horribly pattern matched. (I was running out of fabric, so certain octopi look like mutants with a bajillion tentacles.) I’ve already seen this material popping up all over Instagram, and I can’t wait to see what other folks are making with it!

And now, back to sewing myself a few things. My half-finished floral Laurel is currently crying out for attention on my ironing board, so that’ll be next. How about you? Sewn anything for a friend or S.O. lately?

Tessuti Ruby Top in Mustard Linen

Tessuti ruby top

Remember when cutaway necklines starting cropping up a few years ago? I’ve always liked the look, but the bra situation can be dire. Standard bras are out, since the straps peek out in both the front and the back. I avoid strapless bras like the plague unless one is absolutely necessary. For now, I settled on pairing this top with a racerback bralette bought from Gap Body god only knows when.

Tessuti Ruby top

Bra-talk aside, I am thoroughly pleased with this pattern: the Ruby Dress/Top from Tessuti Fabrics. This is the second Tessuti pattern I’ve sewn—the first being the Mandy Boat Tee. The directions were yet again straightforward and easy to follow, and the cut of the pattern is modern and flattering, probably on a variety of shapes. Here are the deets:

Fabric: mustard linen blend from JoAnn fabrics; leftover dark-gray linen for the binding

Size: cut an AU size 10. The units are in cm, so a 10 roughly corresponds to 35.8″-31″-39.8″ bust-waist-hip measurement. I decided to go with the bust measurement as my guide, since the top slightly flares at the hemline. It’s a teensy bit big, but the style’s so forgiving that a little extra width doesn’t make a huge difference.

Alterations to the pattern: added 1″ of length to the bottom hem

Tessuti ruby top facing

Construction: I followed the pattern’s directions for the French seams, double-turned hem, keyhole facing, and thread-chain-loop closure. Tessuti has a helpful tutorial on its website for those of us who haven’t sewn a thread loop before. Sewing one reminded me of the hours I used to spend making friendship bracelets that were no doubt lost or thrown away after a week. Oh to be a fickle adolescent again.

Tessuti Ruby Top back

I strayed from the directions in two places: stabilizing and binding. I couldn’t find tearaway Vilene shields (used to prevent the neckline and armholes from stretching), so I just staystitched those edges. It seemed to work fine. As for the binding, the pattern instructs you to apply the binding to the right side and then stitch in the ditch to secure. I REALLY HATE stitching in the ditch, so I took a tip from the Thornberry blog, which suggests applying the binding to the wrong side and then topstitching in place on the right side. That worked great for me! It’s the same technique used in the Colette Sorbetto top, and I once again used Colette’s trusty tutorial for making continuous bias tape.

Tessuti Ruby top

One of my favorite things about wearing linen (blends) is that you don’t have to worry about wrinkles. It’s the one fabric where massive wrinklage is expected. (We all know wrinklage should be a word so let’s just accept it.) I’d be wary of anyone who wears linen without having it become a creased mess. There’s probably some Stepford shit going on there if that’s the case.

And that’s that! Ruby in linen gets a big thumbs up from me. Have you sewn any Tessuti patterns lately? I’d love to hear about any favorites!

Thoughts on Me Made May 2015

So, Me Made May 2015 has come and gone. What did I learn? To respect the almighty #mmm15 hashtag and its inspiring bounty of outfits. That I have a uniform and it consists of a boxy T-shirt, long necklace, and jeans. That a mere year ago, I didn’t understand the importance of “finishing” the guts of a garment. Whoopsies.

me made may 2015

The four most popular makes, according to Instagram likes. Clockwise from upper left: modified Scout Tee, french terry Mandy Boat Tee, jersey Mandy Boat Tee, split-hem Linden Sweatshirt

It’s been a pretty revelatory month. My goal for the challenge was to wear one me-made garment five days per week. In reality, I wore one (and sometimes two!) me-made garments 24 out of 31 days. I’d say that’s a goal achieved!

Here are my top takeaways from this year’s Me Made May:

  1. Taking a daily outfit pic is exhausting. For those of us who don’t revel in posting #OOTD snaps on Instagram, taking bathroom selfies or forcing a loved one to take yet another boring outfit photo gets old real quick. The founder of MMM makes it clear that the challenge isn’t about daily pictures, but it kiiiind of seems like par for the course.
  2. I should make more bottoms. I wore me made bottoms five times throughout the challenge: a half-circle skirt three times and Hudson Pants twice. Looks like I’ll bump a skirt and pair of Maritime shorts up to the top of my queue.
  3. I’m in love with my Mandy Boat Tees. Seriously, I don’t know how Tessuti made such a gem of a one-size-fits-all pattern. I’ve got two of ’em, and I’m not ashamed to admit to wearing each twice throughout the challenge. I suggest making several for yourself if you haven’t already. Kelli’s got the idea.
  4. Building a handmade wardrobe takes time. Some sewing folks seemed to wear me-made from head-to-toe for most of the month. It’s inspiring and daunting at the same time! I’ve accepted that either 1). These folks have been sewing for awhile, and I too can get there someday, or 2). They have seven arms.
  5. Take a look back to take a step forward. You don’t realize how far you’ve come with a skill until you look back at earlier work. I was planning on wearing a floral shirtdress I’d made last year until I spotted the armhole seams, which I’d left completely unfinished. The humanity! That day I didn’t have the time to go back and fix it, so I sadly left the dress in the closet. It’s hard to believe that I made that dress just one year ago. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about finishing seams. What’s the point of making a beautiful dress if the insides look all gnarly? I don’t have a serger, so I’ve used pinking (probably more often than I should have), zigzag stitches, flat-felled seams, and french seams to finish my woven garments. The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing contains a bunch of pretty finishes, and I’m excited to try even more.

I’d say Me Made May was a success. It’s revealed holes in my wardrobe and lit a fire under my buns to get sewing again. I definitely won’t miss taking those daily pics, tho. I like to limit my selfie game to horribly unflattering Snaps, thank you very much.

Did you take part in MMM? How’d it go for you?

First Half of Me Made May 2015 and Road Trippin’

This should technically be the titled the First 41.9% of Me Made May, but mama’s goin’ on a road trip and will not be blogging for the next two weeks. I’ve had the travel bug BAD for the past year. After our plans to go to Sweden didn’t work out, Marc and I decided to keep things Stateside. Gas can’t stay this cheap forever (can it?!)!

Neither of us has seen the Grand Canyon, so the planning started there and then snowballed into a 4,000+ mile, 12-day, half-of-the-country course. Here’s the tentative map:

road trip map

On the tentative itinerary:

1). Getting through Nebraska unharmed

2). Enjoying the bounty of mountains and beer that Denver has to offer

3). Camping in Canyonlands, UT

4). Camping near the North Rim, AZ

5). Betting in Old Vegas (aka the cheap casinos)

6). Avoiding sunburn at the Flamingo’s pool

7). Exploring Santa Fe

8). Pit stop in Oklahoma

9). Lookin’ at trees in Mark Twain National Forest

Whew. I’m beyond excited to get out of Chicago for a bit and get some nature in my life. I love my city, but hot damn it has been gray and chilly lately! Let me know in the comments if you have any favorite spots in cities along our route. I’m always down to check out the World’s Largest Ball of Twizzlers or whatever it is that people stop to see on the side of the road in ‘Merica.

Oh, and Me Made May! Almost forgot. I’ve been having a pretty fun time with the challenge, but it has already uncovered a glaring weakness in my sewing wardrobe: a serious lack of pants, skirts, and shorts. I might bump the Maritime Shorts to the top of my queue when I get back. Here are a few of my favorites from my shirt-heavy #mmmay15 feed (with a skirt thrown in for good measure!):

me made may 2015 collage

L to R: self-drafted half-circle skirt, Archer Button Up, Plantain Tee, Mandy Boat Tee

How is Me Made May going for you?

Vogue 8904: The Anthropologie Column Dress Knockoff

vogue 8904 striped column dress anthropologie knockoff

For discerning readers out there, two things may look familiar here: the striped fabric and the pattern. I love them both dearly, so it seemed only fitting to birth their love child. After a couple relaxing nights of cutting, pinning, and sewing, out popped my second iteration of Vogue 8904.

vogue 8904 striped column dress

This time around, I made the shorter version but kept it sleeveless for seasonal purposes. The dress took considerably less time overall since the pattern pieces were already cut out and ready to go.

Hot tip: A cool iron works wonders on wrinkled, creased pattern pieces. I picked that info up from one of my Grainline patterns, so thanks, Jen!

Side note: The left side of my face was still very much novocaine numb from an earlier dentist appointment, so please excuse any Derp Face in this post.

vogue 8904 striped column dress

The pattern: V8904, view A without the sleeves

Alterations: added 1″ of length at the waist (same as the last dress)

Fabric: for the base layer (which is completely hidden by the shingles), I used a black knit bought for $3.95/yard at Textile Discount Outlet in Chicago. I’m not sure about the content, but it’s not too dissimilar in stretch from the top layers. For the shingles, I used my beloved striped bamboo-lycra blend from Girl Charlee.

I sewed the neck binding in the flat, like the pattern directs. But then I CUT A HOLE in the binding attempting to trim the excess fabric down. (Insert sounds of glass shattering and a banshee scream.) Instead of unpicking an entire row of lightning-bolt stitches, I cut the neckband off as closely to the original stitching as I could. I then cut a new neckband, stitched it into a circle, press it in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, and sewed it on in the round.

vogue 8904 striped column dress

I’ve sewn a good handful of knit neckbands in the round now, and I’m pretty happy with this result. To anchor the neckband, I used an edgestitching foot to stitch verrrry closely just below the seam line. I sewed the armholes in the round for the hell of it, topstitching near the seam to anchor them. I might go back and unpick that stitching, though, since it’s a little wonky and uneven for my taste. We’ll see if I find the energy.

And now for a side-by-side comparison of V8904 and one of the Bailey 44 layered column dresses I drooled over for ages at Anthropologie (now retired, but originally $178 LOLOLOL):

v8904 anthropologie bailey 44 dress comparison

Obviously this model’s beach house beats my backdrop: a gravel-filled lot where the garbage cans live. Styling aside, V8904 holds its own pretty well, especially considering that this dress cost less than $20 in fabric. The stripe matching ain’t perfect (although the top and bottom shingles are pretty good), but this dress is so forgiving that the imperfect stripes don’t stress me out. This little number will most likely make an appearance on my Me Made May feed… maybe in Vegas?

What are your tried-and-true patterns?

Another Mandy Boat Tee

Mandy tessuti boat tee

When a pattern’s pretty near perfect, why stop at making it twice? This striped number is my third Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee (with a color-blocked fourth one in the works). I went the same route with this one as I did with my cream-colored french terry version, keeping 1/2″ sliced off the pattern’s side seams. I forgot to shorten the sleeves, which I might go back and do since these are just a tiny bit tight below the elbows.

Mandy tessuti boat tee

The fabric is a buttery soft bamboo-lycra blend from Girl Charlee. I’m going to go ahead and say that this is the softest goddamn fabric I have ever worn. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a striped knit with plenty of stretch.

And that’s that! Since I’ve already written about this pattern, let’s move on to one of the many projects in my queue:

MorrisSideModel

The Morris Blazer! This pattern is fresh off the presses from Grainline Studio. It’s an unlined blazer designed for stretch wovens and stable knits, and I am SO EXCITED to sew this up for my spring and summer wardrobe. My mom commented that Hong Kong seams would be perfect for finishing the center back seam allowances, and I totally agree. I’m excited to test that technique on some scraps and then eventually try it with Morris.

What’s in your queue?

Dark and Stormy-ish

dark and stormy with Q ginger, cane & abe rum, and lime juice

Lately, Q Ginger is hands down my go-to mixer. Have you tried it? It’s the ginger-lover’s ginger ale, delivering an earthy bite without the coughing fit that comes with some of the bolder ginger sodas out there.

I almost always have a bottle in my fridge to mix with gin and a little lemon or lime, or vodka and lime if I want a makeshift Moscow Mule. (Note to self: BUY COPPER MUGS). I know, I know: Q Ginger is ginger ale, not ginger beer, the latter of which is required to make a proper mule. But apparently the lines between the two have become blurred over the years, so it’s more a matter of personal taste than what’s on the label.

I’ll take Q Ginger in my mule over most of the ginger beers out there, partially because it’s got nearly half the sugar of a ginger beer like Gosling’s. It also probably costs three times more than Gosling’s. Us cocktail fiends have to choose our battles, I guess.

cane & abe small barrel rum for a dark and stormy

If Q Ginger is my go-to mixer, then the below version of a Dark and Stormy is my go-to cocktail of choice lately. Some friends from Madison, Wisconsin, gifted me a bottle of Cane & Abe Small-Barrel Rum from Madison’s own Old Sugar Distillery. It’s smooth, oaky, and delicious on its own, as I’ve come to learn while enjoying the signature drink in the distillery’s onsite bar: the Standard. The cocktail is simply a glass of this rum served on ice and garnished with a wedge of lime, “Just like the Pirates used to drink.” It’s delicious, but absolutely deadly when you and your friends have hopes to hike later in the day. Three rounds of that will derail any proactive plans.

The Dark and Stormy-ish, which pairs Cane & Abe with a hefty dose of fresh lime juice and ginger ale (or beer), is a lighter option when you want an effervescent rum drink that won’t send you into a stupor.

Dark and Stormy-ish

  • 2 oz. dark rum
  • Juice from half of a juicy lime
  • Q Ginger
  • Lime wedge

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the rum and lime juice and give it a quick stir. Top with Q Ginger. Garnish with a lime wedge. Simple simple!

Obviously this is a Dark and Stormy-ish since we’re technically using ginger ale instead of ginger beer, but it’s also a bit off the wall with its liberal inclusion of lime juice. I think it really brightens up the drink, but you can always use less or omit it.

What’s your go-to cocktail of late?