Bee’s Knees Cocktail | Guest Post from Sarah of Reviews for No One

bees knees gin cocktail

When you’re someone who enjoys a good cocktail, it’s nice having like-minded cocktail-loving friends. Who else can you geek out with about things like the best sweet vermouth for Manhattans or how to serve a delicious punch without killing severely intoxicating your guests? Sarah—who writes a great book-review blog over at Reviews for No One—is one of those friends. When she posted a delicious-looking gin cocktail on Instagram a few weeks ago, I immediately thought GIMME, and then figured it’d be a great candidate for the blog. She gamely agreed to write a guest post, and here we are. Take it away, Sarah!

It’s almost October, but in the Midwest that means we’re feeling the last wispy breezes of summer. So on a recent 80-degree day, I took it as a sign that it was time to make my favorite gin drink one last time before it’s full-blown sweater weather: the Bee’s Knees.

Technically, it’s not specifically a summer drink. It’s yet another classic Prohibition-era cocktail that went from the forgotten drink of flappers to working its way into almost every Logan Square (read: hipster) bar opening these days. It also happens to be one of the easiest drinks to whip up at home. But gin in general just screams SUMMER to me and with the punch of citrus in this drink, it has porch sippin’ written all over it.

I favor simple, straightforward cocktails—the fewer ingredients the better. And the Bee’s Knees is just that. It pairs the bright, botanical notes of gin with the tartness of lemon juice plus a little honey for sweetness. That’s it. Just three ingredients, two of which are probably already in your kitchen right now.

That means all you really need to worry about is what kind of gin to use.

st. george gins

My sister got me this sweet little three-pack of St. George gins for Christmas and I have had a fantastic time playing with them! St. George’s comes in Terroir, Botanivore, and Dry Rye. The Terroir is that classic juniper-forward flavor, while the Dry Rye is spicy and oaky (hot tip: sub it in for your whiskey in your next Manhattan—it’s fantastic!). But the perfectly balanced Botanivore won out in the end.

I followed the Washington Post recipe exactly. Some recipes call for equal amounts of lemon juice and honey syrup, but I found that to be too tart. So, per the Post‘s recipe, I used:

  • 2 oz. gin
  • ¾ oz. honey syrup
  • ½ oz. lemon juice

Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice, and then shake vigorously for 20 seconds or until the drink is chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and voilà!

bees knees gin cocktail in glass

“But,” you might say, “where do I get honey syrup?” Easy! It’s just like simple syrup—equal parts water and sugar—only you swap the sugar for honey. However, there’s no need to make some giant pot of the stuff just so you can stuff it in the fridge and forget about it.

Instead, pour about 1 tablespoon each of honey and water into a small bowl. Microwave for 10–15 seconds, and stir until thoroughly combined. Then you can pop the bowl with your single-serving sized bit of honey syrup straight into the freezer while you gather your ingredients and juice your lemon. A couple of minutes cools it off enough to stop it from affecting the flavor and temperature of the rest of your ingredients.

Aaaaand my mouth is watering. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

Author and photography: Sarah Gorr


Pattern Crushes: Fall/Winter Coats Edition

I’m torn about planning a seasonal wardrobe. I tried it for the first time this past March, when I posted what I considered to be a reasonable spring/summer sewing plan. “I can finish this in a few months, easy!” Not so easy it turns out, especially when you live in Chicago, a city that kicks any other city’s ass during the summer. Those sweet, sweet months between May and August begot more frequent late nights, beach volleyball, and patio drinkin’—and quite a bit less sewing.

My seasonal sewing plan wasn’t a complete bust, though. Here’s how I fared:

spring and summer sewing plans skitched

Sleeveless Button Up: I finally blew out the elbow on my favorite pink Levi’s shirt, so I lopped off the sleeves, took in the sides a bit to compensate for the deeper armhole, and bound the raw armscye with self-made bias tape. Cheating? Possibly. But I’m all for upcycling, so this one’s still a win in my book.

Solid Knit Tee: I made a knit Scout with some super-stretchy blue knit from my stash, but the ribbing I used for the neck band turned out a little gapey. I still wear this T-shirt, but it will probably be replaced by the arsenal of Lark Tees I’m planning on making. One down, at least five to go.

Floral Shift Dress: Colette’s Laurel in a floral cotton did the trick.

Printed Shorts: Nope. Next year: Maritime shorts. I hope.

Full Skirt: How did I not make this one happen?! A daggum SKIRT???!! I’m embarrassed, y’alls.

Woven Straight-Leg Pants: You can’t say I didn’t try. Try, and fail somewhat miserably.

The overall outcome could’ve been worse, but I still don’t feel great about failing to meet my goal. This season, I’ve decided to play it by ear, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been ruminating. Let’s get real: people who sew also love to plan. I already bought some deep-red herringbone flannel for another Archer (view A this time), and I’m trying to drum up the courage to finally sew some Ginger Jeans.

But the number-one-must-absolutely-try-to-attempt item on my list is a winter coat. I know it’s early, but if I don’t get started soon it simply won’t get done. I’m not trying to make a coat to withstand the 0º F days of a Chicago winter; those days are for my Michelin-man Eddie Bauer down parka. I would, however, love to sew a heavyweight coat that’s not only warm enough to get me through most of the winter unscathed, but also cute enough that I’m not embarrassed to wear it in public.

I’ve been scouring the web for intermediate-level patterns (sometimes in vain), since the only coats I’ve sewn thus far are the Willy Wonka corduroy monstrosities that I made for Halloween last year. I’ve narrowed it down to the following patterns:

cascade duffel coat

Cascade Duffel Coat, Grainline Studio

Difficulty: advanced

Design details: slightly A-line toggle coat with optional hood

Pros: Made up in a nice wool, this would be insanely warm. And it’s got a hood!

Cons: It’s pretty sporty, and I find myself drawn to more feminine coats lately. I also already own a coat with toggles, albeit in a much lighter fabric.


Andy Coat, Named Patterns

Difficulty: advanced

Design details: collarless belted coat with welt pockets and asymmetrical button stand

Pros: Who doesn’t love a good waist-cinching belt? And no collar means all the scarves.

Cons: No collar also means it runs the risk of looking homespun?

leanne marshall 1254

Simplicty 1254 by Leanne Marshall

Difficulty: easy (I’m skeptical)

Design details: fitted coat with an oversize collar that doubles as a hood

Pros: I love the look of the concealed zipper band and in-seam pockets.

Cons: That collar looks like it might swallow my head. Reviews note that the instructions are lacking, which might be a problem for me.

burda paneled coat

Paneled Coat #126, Burda

Difficulty: intermediate

Design details: fitted coat with panels, hidden pockets, and a lapel-free collar

Pros: The lines on this look modern and incredibly flattering. And, maybe it’s just the styling, but d-d-dayum this thing looks sexy for a winter coat.

Cons: While the neckline screams for a scarf, it might be a little too open to be practical for cold weather.

long wool coat burda

Long Wool Coat #104, Burda

Difficulty: intermediate

Design details: Long, semifitted coat with passants (shoulder straps) and one asymmetrical row of military-style buttons.

Pros: According to Burda, this coat is “the ideal accompaniment for a quiet walk.” Burda, go home, you’re drunk. But for reals, this coat looks polished and timeless.

Cons: I haven’t gone the military-style route before, and I’m a little afraid this will look too preppy on me.

There are several more jackets on my Sewing Pattern Crushes Pinterest board, but I find myself consistently navigating back to these five coats. Please comment if you’ve tried one of the patterns before!

I’m still pretty intimidated by the thought of making a heavy-duty garment like this, but I’m determined to give it a go. Have you ever sewn your own winter coat?

inari tee dress in tencel denim

Inari Tee Dress in Tencel Denim

After last week’s unfortunate pants episode, I’m happy to say that I love this dress. It’s my second version of the Inari Tee Dress from Named Patterns. instead of a knit, this time I sewed it up in a soft, lightweight tencel-denim blend. Have you ever felt tencel? I first laid hands on a tencel shirt in my one of my favorite Chicago boutiques, Study Hall. (If that shirt wasn’t a gnarly shade of Barney purple, I’d probably be wearing it right now.) It was incredibly soft and had such a pretty, fluid drape. Bonus points that tencel turns out to be biodegradable and sustainable! Sweet.

inari tee dress in tencel denim front

This fabric was so easy to work with—aside from the fierce fraying—that I’m letting it dictate my next make. is out of yardage in this color, but I’m planning on picking up some similar tencel chambray in a darker color to make another Archer. (Maybe with cuffs and a pocket made from remnants of the lighter fabric?! The wheels are a turnin’!)

inari tee dress

As I said, the innards were fraying like a beast after finishing them with a zigzag stitch, so I experimented with some binding for the side seams. Plus, the vented hem just cries out for a little extra something on the inside.

inari tee dress bias bound seam

inari tee dress hong kong seam

Experimenting is the key word here. I made some double-fold bias tape from leftover floral cotton and used it to create bias-bound side seams on one side (top image) and a Hong Kong bound seam on the other (bottom image). Honestly, I can’t remember my thought process or the steps I took when it came to the finish at the vent, but it necessitated a different treatment than the side seam. As you can see, things got a little wonky at both vent openings, especially on the Honk Kong side. I zigzagged any raw edges to prevent any further unraveling. Any tips for finishing a vented hem? I’m wondering if a simple zigzag finish (or overlocked edge if you have a serger) is the best option.

inari tee dress decorative stitching

As if some janky floral bias tape wasn’t enough, I also added decorative stitches at the vent. I seriously felt like a kid discovering Doritos for the first time when I started playing around with the decorative stitches on my machine. I settled on these loops, which are inconspicuous because of the near-matching thread. It’s all about those little details, amirite?!

inari tee dress in tencel denim vent

The Nitty Gritty

  • Fit: Again, I sewed a US size 8. Since my knit garment was so large at first (like, large even for a fabric with lots of stretch), I sewed the side seams at a 5/8″ seam allowance. I should’ve stuck with the pattern’s recommended 3/8″ SA, though, since I could use a teensy bit more room at the upper thigh. I thought about letting it out, but the dress was still comfy after two full days of wear. Just no sumo squats in this!

inari tee dress bias facing neckline

  • Neckline: I forwent the facing pieces and finished the neckline with a self bias facing. As always, I used the method outlined in this Grainline tutorial to get that sucker lying flat.

inari tee dress sleeves

  • Sleeves: I did a shoddy job setting the sleeves the first time around (I guess I’m rusty sewing them in the round?!), so I unpicked them and took my time pinning and easing. Unfortunately, the stitches from the previous seam are visible. Any tips for fixing that? I have enough fabric to sew new sleeves, but the marks don’t bother me too much right now.

inari tee dress sleeve detail

  • Sleeve detail: Again with the decorative stitches—I can’t stop myself! Instead of sewing the sleeve detail to the sleeve by hand, I used this pointed-oval stitch. It turned into a fish since I didn’t stop quickly enough. Kinda cute?

This dress is seriously so fun to wear. I’d say that after sewing two Inaris within a month, I should give the pattern a rest for awhile, but I can see making this up in a slightly heavier weight wool jersey to pair with tights this fall.

That gets me thinking: Are you geared up for fall sewing? I’m going to go with the flow this season and work on things as inspiration (or a new pattern!) comes along. And then there’s Halloween! But that holiday deserves its own post. Soon enough, my costume-loving friends, soon enough. :D

Woven Hudson Pants

woven hudson pants true bias aw shucks

Well folks, they can’t all be winners. I won’t call these woven Hudson Pants a fail—they’re still wearable and hella comfy. But even after some major surgery, they’re just… not great.

Note: Please forgive the optical illusion effect that the stripes give off in these pictures. They look totally normal in person—I swear!

For starters, the print I chose reminds me of pajamas. More specifically, Bananas in Pajamas. The fabric itself is fine: a 100% cotton stretch twill with 15% stretch across the grain. It’s a true medium weight though, and I think these pants—when sewn in a woven—would work better with a floatier, lighter textile.

Kelli’s woven variation tutorial on the True Bias blog suggests going up two to three sizes, so I cut a 12 instead of an 8 this time. I must have forgotten about the stretch in these pants when cutting—looking back, I should have cut a size 10 considering the 15% stretch. Here’s what they looked like before surgery:

woven hudson pants beofrewoven hudson pants before

As you can see, they are YOUUUUGE, even with a 3/4″ seam allowance (rather than the suggested 3/8″ SA). There’s tons of excess fabric in the crotch and hip area, and the length is kind of off. Here’s what they look like postsurgery:

woven hudson pants true bias bottom half

The fit still isn’t fantastic in the crotch area, but I had to stop somewhere. Fiddling anymore with these pants would’ve driven me mad, especially considering I sewed the elastic waist too loose the first time around and had to pick out a bunch of zigzag stitches through two layers of fabric AND the elastic. Woof. These pants were truly a test in patience. Pretty sure I got a C–.

woven true bias hudson pants

You might be thinking, “They’re not too shabby from this angle!” You’re right, they’re not. But what fun would a sewing blog be if it didn’t reveal its hideous underbelly? In the interest of transparency, here’s what the crotch looks like now (avert your eyes if you want to avoid gratuitous bunching):

woven true bias hudson pants
No, those aren’t headlights. It’s just the way the fabric on my top is folding.

Elastic-waisted anything always rides up that high on me. The extra crotch depth I added deters any camel toe, but there’s just still too much fabric there. I added a few darts to help fix the issue, and they definitely help. I’m glad I added the cuffs, as I think the pants look more modern and less pajama-like now. See, it’s not all cold pricklies and pessimism here!

woven hudson pants cuff

The Nitty Gritty

  • Lengthened the pants 3″ at the lengthen/shorten line.
  • Followed Kelli’s instructions re: altering the pocket pieces, adding length to accommodate for hemming instead of sewing on an ankle band, and grading the leg opening a little wider. I cut the main pocket on the cross grain, and I love the way the stripes play against each other.
  • Cut the waistband on the bias for similar stripey goodness.
  • Ended up adding cuffs, cut on the bias after measuring the leg opening.
  • Added 1″ to the crotch depth on the front and back pattern pieces. On my second pair of knit Hudsons, I added 1″ to the crotch length. That seemed to help a little bit with the camel-toe issue I had on the first knit pair, but the second pair seemed to pool too much in the front, so I figured it might be more of a depth vs. length issue. For a little background on that, here’s what the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing has to say:

The crotch depth is the measurement of the distance from your waist to the bottom of your hips, taken when you are sitting. . . The crotch length is is actual length of the crotch seam, taken between the legs, from waist at center front to waist at center back.

  • Added two small darts in the front and back to reduce some of the excess fabric.

woven hudson pants

All-in-all, these pants aren’t a total bust. They really are comfortable and I think they look okay styled with my Ruby Top. In reality, I’ll probably wear these around the house on my work from home days. Normally I’m wearing shredded old pajama shorts and a tank top when I work from home, so these pants will be a vast improvement. And who knows—maybe they’ll grow on me.

Have you sewn any duds lately? If you have, at what point did you throw in the towel? Commiserate with me, it’ll be fun!

On My Radar

Change is good. If you’re a returning reader, you’ve probably noticed that this blog has undergone a mini makeover. It’s nothing too crazy, but I was tired of the previous layout and wanted something fresher and brighter. I’ll probably switch fonts a few more times until I find the right one, like the dutiful overthinker I am. Please let me know if you have trouble reading anything, if the layout’s terribly confusing, or even if you don’t like that color green. (I don’t know what kind of MONSTER wouldn’t like that seafoam green, though.)

With this change in look, I’m also going to augment the content a bit. For awhile now, I’ve been bouncing around ideas for new kinds of posts, only to shoot them down in my head for fear of failure. That toxic fear is unfortunately pretty common for me, and I’m doing my best to get over it and just write. It’s my own damn blog, after all. I’ll still post all the clothes and cocktails I make, but I’m going to start peppering in some new types of posts and series. “On My Radar” is a random assortment of topical and not-so-topical things that I consider worth sharing. Simple as that.

Without further ado:


Sweat: Yoga with Adriene

Any yoga teacher that says the word “fart” during class is alright in my book. Adriene Mischler, the namesake behind the Yoga with Adriene YouTube empire, has a way of making her online classes laid-back and accessible while explaining each pose perfectly and still imparting some grounding yogic wisdom. She’s got a series for true beginners, a more intense series called Yoga for Weight Loss, and specialty videos for everything in between.

I don’t know where she studied yoga, but her cues are by far the best I’ve ever heard in online yoga classes. If you want to supplement your studio yoga practice or just gain some flexibility, you should check her out. It’s weird, but after doing Adriene’s videos a few times a week for months, I feel like we’re almost… friends? My guess is that the other 825,000+ YouTube subscribers feel the same.

Here are some of my favorite Yoga with Adriene videos:

There are a few I’m forgetting, but you get the point. You can follow along with Adriene on her YouTube channelblog, and Instagram. Namaste, y’alls!

umbrella collective bucket bags

Drool: leather bucket bags from Umbrella Collective

These bags. They’re so buttery soft I could rub my face on them all day. I came across Umbrella Collective at a Renegade Craft Fair popup at the Hideout in Chicago. At first, I bypassed the booth since everything looked EX-PEN-SIVE. My curiosity brought me back, though, and I fell in love with a super-soft, navy bucket bag priced at $138—not cheap, but reasonable considering each product is handmade in the USA. For better or worse, I take every clothing and accessory purchase pretty seriously ever since I started sewing my own clothes. It means something to me that I got to meet the maker behind the bag, and I’m willing to save up for her quality product instead of impulse-buying something else. (Steps off soapbox.)

I didn’t buy anything that day at the craft fair, but I’ve been eyeing the brand’s goods on Etsy and Instagram ever since. The camel and navy leather purses and the striped canvas totes are on point. If I don’t go for a bucket bag, I might snag a canvas-and-leather tote. Which style do you like best?

Listen: Jemaine Clement on You Made It Weird

I went back and forth for awhile about which Flight of the Conchords member is sexier, but it’s got to be Jemaine. (Sorry, Bret.) That voice—dem LIPS! Anyway, I’ve been a fan of FotC since their first season on HBO, and even saw them live in concert in Chicago. If you’re a fan of Jemaine, check out episode 276 of the You Made It Weird podcast. In his wickedly dry deadpan, Jemaine talks to host Pete Holmes about death, being a dad, and American–New Zealand misunderstandings. My favorite quote of the episode involves fanny packs, and I’ll leave it at that.

bees knees gin cocktail
Image: Sarah Gorr via Facebook

Drink: Bees Knees gin cocktail

Save for the piña coladas I mixed up on the reg this summer, I’ve felt a little uninspired on the cocktail front lately. And then my friend Sarah, who blogs here, posted her version of the Bees Knees. It’s a simple, classic cocktail with just three ingredients: “gin, lemon juice, [and] honey simple syrup.” YASSS. All things that I have in the house (or can easily make). I will be mixing one of these before the summer’s out, and then probably into the fall, and then winter. I’m a Gin for All Seasons kind of girl.

Thanks for reading the first edition of this series! Now spill: What’s on your radar?

Knit Inari Tee Dress

inari tee dress

Some sewing projects are a labor of love. Maybe you take extra care cutting a slippery fabric (rayon spandex: I’m lookin’ at you), or maybe you take the time to hand sew an invisible hem. For me, button-up shirts and silly, time-consuming Halloween costumes fall into the Labor of Love category. If you’re Morgan from Crab & Bee, your sister’s insanely gorgeous wedding dress falls into that category. If there’s an award for Sewing Goddess of the Year, Morgan deserves it. I don’t even want to know how many hours she put into conceptualizing, pattern hacking, and sewing that two-piece gown. All I know is that It. Paid. Off.

But, life is full of ebbs and flows. Sometimes literally: This week, my apartment flooded during a flash flood, but then I got a haircut I really like. See?! For every action there’s a reaction. Yin and Yang. Fire and Water. Easy and Hard. For every painstaking sewing project we put ourselves through, there is another satisfying, easy-peasy one waiting in the wings.

inari tee dress
“Can you get a shot of the split hem?”

And that’s where the Inari Tee Dress dress comes in. I spotted this loose-fitting dress over on Heather’s blog and immediately fell in love. I’d been meaning to try a Named Patterns garment for awhile now, and their take on the tee dress is just so chic. It’s got a cocoon silhouette that just skims the body, a split hem (cue googly eyes) that’s slightly longer in back, and sleeves with a permanently rolled up effect. Basically, this thing is crying out for Madewell-style knockoffs from the sewing world. (It’s our DUTY, people.)

named patterns inari tee dress

The Inari Tee Dress, which is a 2-for-1 pattern that also includes a crop tee option, calls for woven fabric or knit fabric with “slight stretch.” Since I wanted to do a test version before I cut into my precious tencel denim, I decided to do some serious stash-busting. The gray fabric is leftover from my Sallie romper, and the blue knit is leftover from a tank top I made for Marc and a knit Scout. It definitely has more than some “slight” stretch. To accommodate for this, I sewed the US size 8 with 1″ side seam allowances (grading to 1/2″ at the armhole) instead of the prescribed 3/8″. Anything more fitted might be venturing into bodycon, which would not be in keeping with the pattern’s slouchy, effortless style.

inari tee dress

Even now, the material clings a LOT, especially when you’re in the midst of a wind gust. Despite its clinginess, I love this dress and have already worn it a few times. The drafting of the knit neckband is pretty spot on (no gaping to speak of!) and construction was a breeze. I used my walking foot, a lightning bolt stitch, and ballpoint needle to sew everything together. To hem the bottom, I just used a simple zigzag stitch, flipping to a longer straight stitch at the side vents. Next time, I’ll understitch the rolled-up accent on the sleeve to keep the seam on the inside, and I’ll probably use a facing instead of a knit neckband when I sew this up in a woven.

Have you tried any patterns from Named? I’ve had my eye on the Alexandria Peg Trousers and Kielo Wrap Dress for awhile now. After Inari, I might not be able to help myself…

A Very Wearable Morris Blazer Muslin

morris blazer grainline studio

The Morris Blazer was an impulse buy. It went something like this: 1). Jen announced the Morris Blazer on the Grainline Studio blog on April 21. 2). By 10:30 a.m. that day, I’d already purchased and printed out the PDF. Don’t get me wrong: I would’ve eventually bought the pattern anyway. But in the instant-gratification world of PDF sewing patterns, I generally try to read other folks’ reviews and determine how much I’d wear it before clicking purchase. It’s for my bank account. (And my social life. And my sanity.)

morris blazer
Grainline Studio’s Morris Blazer sample

That tactic fell by the wayside this time, though, since I was a total goner when I set eyes on Morris. I own two blazers, back from the time when my 9–5 occasionally required it. Those Banana Republic jackets do the trick when I need to look professional, but they scream STUFFY. Morris, on the other hand, has a modern, cropped cut, and it’s designed for stretch wovens—cha-ching! I ordered some natural-colored stretch twill at $3.50/yard from with every intention of making a muslin as soon as I got the fabric.

morris blazer grainline studio

Fast-forward four months later, and I finally got to work on it. Apparently the dog days of summer are when I decide it’s appropriate to sew a blazer. The humidity must be slowly killing what’s left of my rational brain cells. Anywho, here’s the nitty gritty:

morris blazer grainline studio

Morris Blazer

  • Size: 8
  • Modifications: added 2″ to the body and 1.5″ to the sleeves at the lengthen/shorten lines
  • Fabric: medium-heavyweight stretch cotton twill with 10% stretch across the grain and great recovery (I think it’s got about 2% Lycra, though it’s not available on anymore so I’m not certain)
  • Interfacing: Omitted (GASPGASPGASP). Since this was supposed to be a quick muslin, I didn’t bother running out to buy the necessary tricot fusible interfacing. Luckily, the fabric is weighty enough that it doesn’t look too droopy or stretched out along the hems—yet. I’m hoping it won’t bag out, but only time will tell.
  • Construction: I followed the pattern directions and referred to Jen’s sew along. That was especially helpful when attaching the facing, since that step was a little confusing to me in the pattern directions.
  • Finishing: I used a zig-zag stitch to finish all the inner seams, but then I decided that Hong Kong seams would look baller on the back and side seams. I luuuuurve them. The bias strips are self-made using some leftover floral cotton.
honk kong seams grainline studio morris blazer
*my precious* during the construction process

I wore this blazer (in air conditioning) all night and it was supremely comfortable. I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to make it, since summer is “almost over” and only now did I decide to sew an off-white blazer. Instead of wallowing in poor-timing sorrow, I’ll leave you with two questions (and a dumb photo shoot outtake):

80s ladies
“Imma try a sassy one”
  1. Have you ever tried the Hong Kong seam finish?
  2. Is the whole No White After Labor Day thing an evil, evil lie?