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Anna Dress in Rifle Paper Co. Rayon

Six weddings in five months. That’s been the happy, if daunting, theme of my year. Who doesn’t like a good wedding? The vows, the tears, the dress, the champagne, the Hall and Oates, the elderly couple who can kick your ass on the dance floor. I love weddings in all their sappy glory. And thank god, because half my friends are getting married this year or the next.👰🏼

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And let’s be real—being a wedding guest is pretty easy. The hardest part for me is figuring out what in the hell to wear or, better yet, what to sew. I bought this Cotton + Steel/Rifle Paper Co. rayon challis completely on impulse. I figured I’d make a shirt for me or as a gift for someone, but then I remembered Anna. A few months ago, I sewed a wearable muslin of this dress in its maxi variation. Thigh high slit and all. It’s the most glamorous thing I’ve ever made, but I still haven’t worn it out of the house.

I was toying around with a knee-length version of Anna but was feeling pretty meh about it. Even after finding a few really adorable versions, I wasn’t sold on the style. At some point, my crazed sewing alter ego took over (as it tends to do the week before a fancy event). I succumbed, said f*ck it, and decided to eke a knee-length Anna out of a meager but beautiful 2 yards of fabric. That meant taking a shot in the dark when it came to fabric placement. I didn’t notice any flowers where they shouldn’t be. (And you don’t either. Right? Right…?!)

The Details

My last Anna is very fitted, so I used a slightly smaller seam allowance for the side seams this time (probably closer to 3/8″). I also used a quick and dirty tip from the BHL tutorial to reduce a bit of back gaping by sewing the invisible zip slightly away from the edge of the fabric toward the top on either side, and then tapering to the correct seam allowance a few inches down.

I decided to understitch the facing to prevent it from flipping up, but for some reason the seam line wanted to roll outward (see the back close-up). Initially, I hand-tacked the facing to the shoulder seam allowance, but that didn’t seem to be enough to keep that sucker flat. I ended up hand-sewing a portion of the facing to the front bodice with some tiny tiny tiny invisible stitches. Not a perfect solution, but it worked. Have you ever had that problem with a facing before? I’m curious.

And now for some gratuitous wedding photos:

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The bride (Sarah) and groom (Alex) cutting their beautiful cake at their amazing wedding
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Groupon reunion
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my mang
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I think my feet were almost bleeding at this point. But I love those heels.

This wedding was badass. The newlyweds walked out of their ceremony to the theme from Star Wars. And then there were Manhattans. And amazing soup. And dancing to Robyn. And a lot of love. ❤️

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Ruby Top and a Trip Down (Tumblr) Memory Lane

Waste not, want not. It’s rare for me to have enough leftover fabric to sew a second garment. Nowadays, I scour pattern labels and try to buy only what I need. I bought these black and printed linen blends to make a Hannah Dress. That’s it. When it turned out I had enough to make another Tessuti Ruby Top, I was thrilled.

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The only caveat: I had to cut the back in two pieces, hence the center back seam. I top-stitched that down for a clean finish. This top feels a bit roomier than my first Ruby, maybe due to one of many reasons:

  • Maybe I undershot the seam allowances on my french-seamed sides. You know I am not unpicking those seams, though. Hell no.
  • Maybe I accidentally added some roominess when I cut the back in two pieces.
  • Maybe the armholes are a little low because I decided to follow the directions this time, securing the bias binding by stitching in the ditch.

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On my original Ruby Top, I heeded a tip from Thornberry and applied the binding to the wrong side, and then top-stitched in place. I decided to give the ol’ stitch-in-the-ditch method a shot this time around, seeing that the black thread would disappear against the black and/or busy fabric if I went astray.

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The result? A clean finish on the inside and out, but the binding on the armholes turned out a bit thinner than I’d anticipated. Live and learn. I’ve worn this top a few times already, and its comfort factor far outweighs any worries I have about low armholes.

Now that I’ve covered a happy fabric surplus, let’s talk about what happened before I knew to consider the width of fabric.

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The very first garment I sewed: flannel Batmanpris

Back before I migrated over to WordPress, I shared my sewing projects on a little Tumblr blog called Sewcially Inept. (Kinda miss that name. Feel free to explore my hilarious beginner attempts at clothes. And comically undersized things.)

I took on an “easy” project for my first garment: simple flannel pajama pants for Marc. Innocent, oblivious me made the trip to JoAnn and bought fabric for said pants, not realizing that fabric comes in both 45″ and 60″ (and more!) widths. Long story short (pun intended), I didn’t have enough fabric. The pants were ill-fitting and turned out cropped enough to be labeled manpris.

That day, I learned a lesson. I learned that men’s pants fit really tight on women’s hips. I also learned that sewing can be a frustrating hobby, one that sometimes even leaves me in tears. But I didn’t stop then. And I don’t think I ever will.

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Victory Patterns Hannah Dress in Linen

I’ve been getting lucky with sleeveless dress patterns. First Cardamome, and now the lovely Hannah Dress from Victory Patterns. It took all of my will power not to buy this pattern the day it was released. It was game over when Kristiann from Victory announced a 20% off sale.

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Is it hyperbolic to say that this dress is magical? I don’t care. The dress has so many different parts that come together seamlessly—I’m pretty sure Kristiann used some kind of witchcraft or wizardry to pull it all together. Per the description, Hannah “features angled side seams and front pockets, which transition cleverly into folding side-panels that wrap around to the back and criss-cross over each other.” Um, yeah.

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I was afraid it’d be a little too clever, a little too advanced, for my skill set. Luckily, the directions are detailed and specific, and it came together more easily than a button-up shirt. No joke.

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Even the hidden button placket didn’t take too much head scratching. It would have been even easier if I’d marked everything properly before I began sewing. If you make this dress, I have one important piece of advice: Take the time to mark every single notch, dart, fold line, sew line, and match point during the cutting process. I didn’t use a visible enough mark on the wild contrast print, and it was a pain when it came time to sew and press.

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The Deets

  • Pattern: Hannah Dress, Victory Patterns
  • Size: 8 (my measurements: 36-29-39, 6′ tall)
  • Alterations: Added 2″ of length at lengthen/shorten line
  • Fabric: linen-nylon blend for main fabric, linen-rayon blend for contrast (both from JoAnn)
  • Fit: Very fitted across the bust and shoulders. I have a broad back, and this fits like a glove. I might consider giving myself a tiny bit more room through the upper back when I make this again.
  • Issues: The top layer of the placket doesn’t lie perfectly flat. This very well could be through a fault of my own. I’ll probably sew a small snap in between the layers to keep it flatter when worn.

And now for my favorite aspect of this dress…

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Contrast hem facing! WHEEEEEE! It really is the small things that bring a smile to my face. Do you personalize the garments you sew?

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Embracing Festival Style

I never thought I’d date a male model.

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New York Times

To be fair, Marc didn’t know where this photo would end up when a random dude snapped it at Pitchfork Music Festival. That the dude turned out to be a freelancer for The New York Times was a hilarious and pleasant surprise. Not sure how I’m going to top the Muscle Men Negroni shirt now. 😊

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I went out on a limb for my own Pitchfork outfit with this two-piece number. I’m calling this my “Slave to Almost-Tired Trends” look. Off-the-shoulder? Check. High-waisted shorts? Done. The shorts are Cynthia Rowley 1371 for Simplicity and the top is self-drafted based on a tutorial from Elisalex of By Hand London.

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I sewed a size 14 for the shorts—no modifications. The waistband gaped a bit in the back, so I pinched out some fabric and sewed a dart to make up the difference. It’s a quick and dirty fix, but it works!

Surprisingly, these fit pretty well through the crotch even without lowering the curve, which is something I figured I’d need to do to accommodate my long torso. It might just be that these shorts run big? The fabric is a cotton twill that I initially intended to use for a shirtdress, but it’s got almost no drape. (“Medium weight” Denver Fabrics? Really?!) Still, it worked out well for these structured shorts.

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As for the top, I’d highly recommend trying Elisalex’s tutorial if you’re in the market for a quick off-the-shoulder top. You draft it based on your full bust and high bust measurements, and it comes together incredibly fast when you use a serger and a sewing machine. This fabric is $2/yd. muslin with some “decorative” black serger trim. I was too lazy to rethread my serger and then really liked the look. No hemming necessary.

 

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Photo: Chris Little

 

I was kind of nervous wearing an outfit like this out of the house. The great thing about going out of your comfort zone at a music festival is that there’s bound to be someone wearing a fishnet tank and pasties. Or someone in a full dog costume despite the 90-degree heat. Probably both.

Cheers to wearing what makes you feel good!

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Polka Dots and Muscle Men

IMG_0508This outfit isn’t even secret pajamas. I’m aware that it legitimately looks like I’m wearing real PJs out in public—and I’m fine with that.

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I bought these shorts a few years ago on a trip to Nashville, and I’m going to have to copy them at some point. Elastic back waist, pockets, noticeable lack of camel toe—they’re real winners. But I’m here to talk about my Minnie Mouse-esque top.

I picked this borderline-sheer, supersoft cotton voile up from the Needle Shop (which finally re-opened as Oak Fabrics, YES!). Initially, I wanted to make a sleeveless button up, but my lack of restraint won out. Sometimes you’ve just gotta cut and sew something RIGHT NOW.

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When that feeling strikes, it’s safest for me to sew something I can’t screw up too much. Enter Grainline’s Scout Tee. This lightweight fabric was a solid match for the loose-fitting shape. I lengthened the sleeves, curved the hem up a bit at the sides, and added some length to the body. Otherwise, this was a straightforward Scout.

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And now let’s talk about the shirt emblazoned with the likenesses of many a bronzed muscle man and women—and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Seriously, Arnold.

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Can you spot him?

Instagram tells me that I made this Negroni shirt for Marc more than 12 weeks ago. *Gently reminds self to blog more often.* This ridiculous (amazing?) rayon challis is from Denver Fabrics; sadly, it’s sold out. I know how much you’re all itching to get your hands on $5.95/yd. fabric covered in text that says “Good Ol’ Days” and “Bodybuilding Hall of Fame,” so I’ll post an update if it comes back in stock.

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I sewed the first Negroni per the directions, with a facing instead of a button band. This time around, I added a button band. Many thanks are due to the sew along from Male Pattern Boldness—the instructions were immensely helpful when it came to drafting the extra pieces.

IMG_0475And that’s about all I remember about construction. That’s what happens when you wait three months to write about a garment. Lesson learned!

Do you dress your S.O. in insane clothing, too?

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Deer and Doe Cardamome Dress

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This dress came together in a very serendipitous way. I didn’t realize that the fabric and pattern would be a perfect match. I had no clue how it would look sans collar and buttons. But daggumit I went for it. And I love it.

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Cardamome Dress // Deer and Doe

After making multiple versions of Deer and Doe’s free Plantain Tee, I figured I should fork over some cash and try one of their many non-free patterns. The Cardamome Dress caught my eye with its bib front and smocked waist—two new-to-me techniques. The pattern also has a view with full-length sleeves, and I will definitely be making that in the fall. (Mandatory “It’s got pockets, too!” mention.)

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I took my time with construction. This isn’t the sort of dress you can whip up in a night unless you’re a complete speed demon. The difficulty is listed as 4 out of 5, but the directions are solid and I think most people with a collared shirt under their belt could easily tackle Cardamome.

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The trickiest step was the smocked waist, which calls for four lines of elastic thread. I’d never shirred/smocked before, so this was quite the learning experience. This post from Dawn Nicole helped a ton. Quick crash course in shirring for those of you who are unfamiliar:

  • Elastic thread goes in the bobbin. Regular thread goes through the needle, per usual.
  • You have to wind elastic thread onto the bobbin by hand.
  • If you have a Brother cs6000i machine, I highly recommend watching this video. It demonstrates how to carefully adjust the tension by using a tiny screwdriver to tighten a screw on the bobbin casing. GAME CHANGER. My shirring was sad and loose before making this adjustment.

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For the collar, or lack thereof, I took some inspiration from this Grainline Studio tutorial on how to sew the Alder Shirtdress with a Mandarin-style collar. It’s essentially a collar stand without the collar piece. I like the streamlined look of the Mandarin collar with Cardamome’s feminine gathering and bib front. I had every intention of adding buttonholes and buttons, but then I wore this out a couple times and realized they’re superfluous for a summer dress. Maybe I’ll add them if I make a cold-weather-friendly version.

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And the fabric! I almost forgot. I found this cherry-red block-printed sateen on Denver Fabrics, and it is perfect. It’s totally opaque, which is ideal since this dress isn’t lined, and I love the kooky (slightly patriotic) geometric print. It feels a little knockoff Dusen Dusen to me and that’s exactly why I bought it.

Here are the dirty deets:

  • Pattern: Cardamome Dress from Deer and Doe
  • Size: 40
  • Fabric: 100% cotton sateen
  • Alterations: Added 1.25″ to the skirt, only because I forgot to add that length to the top. I’ll swap that for next time. // Mandarin-style collar. // No buttons.

BONUS BLOOPER REEL: Here are some pictures that I managed to ruin with talking or general derp-ness.

 

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I haven’t seen this dress around the blogosphere very much, and I’m not sure why… it’s a fantastic pattern. Think you’ll give it a shot?

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Grainline Studio Willow Tank

It was hot as the devil’s ding that day. Jorts were necessary. So was this breezy Willow Tank.

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This tiki fabric—a dinky remnant—spoke to me. I know tiki culture is a manufactured, Polynesian-inspired entity, but I’m a sucker for it. Give me a strong mai tai and a banana that’s been fashioned into a dolphin and I’m happy.

The remnant wasn’t enough to make much of anything, but it weaseled its way into my heart and eventually into my shopping bag. And then Grainline Studio released the lovely Willow Tank Dress, a simple A-line tank (plus a dress option) with bust darts and a deep hem, perfect for making the most out of a teensy lil bit of fabric.

You can barely spot it because the print is so busy, but I had to cut the back in two pieces rather than on the fold. I added 1/2″ seam allowances, sewed them together to create a single piece, serged the raw edge, and pressed the seam to one side.

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Construction was easy peasy and made for a very satisfying, quick make. I sewed a size 8 with the following minor modifications and observations:

  • Added 1 3/8″ at the “lengthen here” line.
  • The bust darts hit a little low. Next time I’ll probably raise them a smidgen.
  • Dreaming about making this in the dress iteration in black or navy linen.

Have you tried this pattern yet? Thoughts?