crunch and hook

Halloween 2018 Postmortem: DIY Captain Hook and Cap’n Crunch

October is over, which means one more Halloween has come and gone for this costume-loving DIYer. In an effort to avoid overthinking, I decided to dress up as the first thing that really spoke to me: the villainous Captain Hook.

“Which Hook?” you ask? As in, the larger-than-life, murderous pirate from Disney’s Peter Pan, or the delightful Dustin Hoffman in Hook, one of my favorite childhood films? The answer is…Read More »

gorton's fisherman and rainbow fish

Happy Halloween from Rainbow Fish!

rainbow fish

Who here was obsessed with the book Rainbow Fish growing up? I absolutely loved it. What little kid doesn’t like adorable sea creatures and pretty shiny things? I believe the moral of the story is that it’s good to share with your friends…? Sure, why not. What really stuck with me? The image of that goofy little fish and his beautiful silver scales.

I struggled this year coming up with Halloween costume ideas. Then I remembered how much Marc looks like the Gorton’s Fisherman. I thought maybe I’d go as a fish stick, but then realized I could easily be mistaken for a Twinkie or a mozzarella stick or a worm.

So Gorton turned vegetarian for the night and took Rainbow Fish as his date to the party.Read More »

Flannel Archer Button Up

flannel archer button up grainline studio

It’s time for me to get back in the blog saddle. I recently started a new job, and I gave myself a little break for a few weeks to adjust. The gig’s been great thus far, but I’m still getting used to dressing like a real person (business casual, y’all!) and coming into the office five days in a row without feeling like a zombie.

My previous job offered Work from Home Wednesdays. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact that had on my energy levels. Doing work braless, in my pajamas once a week really did wonders for my well-being. But alas, that life is no more. I’m finally used my new schedule and workload, and that means more energy for blogging. 😀

image: Veronz

I know Halloween has come and gone, but daggumit I worked hard on my costume and I want to share it. Here’s the outfit breakdown:

  • Fleece and faux fur coat: Vogue Very Easy pattern V 8930
  • Dress: single layer of V 8904, sewn twice before
  • Red gloves, cigarette holder, and wig:
  • Red pumps (not pictured): DSW
  • Earrings and necklace: sourced from my late grandma’s fantastic costume jewelry stash
  • Emerald ring: panic attack central AKA Forever 21

The gloves were slippery, the wig was a little itchy, and the coat was hot as hell at the indoor party I attended. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel like a badass the entire night. Being a glamorous Disney villain has its perks.

flannel archer button up

When it came time for a practical sewing project, I turned to the Archer Button Up from Grainline Studio. Last year, I sewed view B in a red chambray. This shirt is view A, a classic boyfriend-style button up, in a super-soft Robert Kaufman flannel from The Needle Shop in Chicago. I was very, very hungover when I took these pictures (like, “oh god why did I do this to myself never again” stupid hungover), so I apologize for my glazed-over eyes and general derpness.

flannel archer button up grainline studio

The sewing process was so much less intimidating this time around with one Archer under my belt. I don’t have a ton to say about construction, but I did fudge the collar a little bit. Instead of using Andrea’s collar tutorial like I did last time, I followed along with the pattern directions and referred to Jen’s sew along. Her video on how to attach the collar is helpful, but my collar stand ended up jutting out past the button band a little bit on one side. It’s not enough to be bothersome, so it’s staying as-is.

archer button up in flannel

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that I’m coming to accept little imperfections in my handmade work. Part of me wonders if I notice the mistakes more because I’m gaining experience. But, I could just be getting lazier. Either way, I have a wearable shirt at the end of the day. Right now, that’s good enough for me.

archer button up grainline studio
And this is why we press our hems

In case you’re interested in the boring details:

  • Size: Straight 8. My measurements are 36″-29″-38″ and I’m 6’0″ tall.
  • Alterations: Added 1.5″ to the sleeves and body (could’ve gone with just 1″ on the sleeves); used Jen’s alternate Archer pocket tutorial again.
  • Finishing: Used my machine’s overcast foot for a faux-serged look (this foot is AMAZING by the way); sewed faux flat-felled seams throughout.

It feels good to be back! Before I leave, did you all see Heather’s latest release over at Closet Case Files?


The Clare Coat just pounced to the top of my queue. I know, I know, I did a whole post about which coat pattern I wanted to make and actually bought one from Burda. But this pattern just speaks to me. Now to source some wool and super-warm lining…

Have any patterns cut the line in your sewing queue?

Three Grainline Studio Lark Tees (and Halloween Costume Progress)

three grainline studio lark tees

It’s been churn and burn in my sewing world lately. I usually try to write a post fairly quickly after sewing something, but life’s been busy. Plus, lots of output means less time for blogging. But I’m here to remedy that today. Please forgive the garment and photo overload in this post! First up: the costume. Halloween is looming, and for once I’m not procrastinating. This year I’ll be dressing up as the most fabulous harpy to come out of the Disney empire:

disney style cruella de vil
Image from

Cruella de Vil. No, it’s not the most creative costume, but I’ve been itching to be Cruella for a few years now. I used Very Easy Vogue coat pattern V8930 to make the yellowish-cream “fur” coat. As in, I used banana-colored fleece for the body and faux fur for the facing/collar piece.

cruella de vil costume
I think I’m attempting “haughty” here. Also plz excuse the mess and graininess.

And, of course, the coat is lined in vivid red. I made a simple black dress using the base layer of V8904 (also sewn here and here), except I sewed a V-neckline. The shoes are Anne Klein pumps from DSW. I’ve gathered most of the other accessories (red gloves, cigarette holder, green earrings), and now I’ve just got to settle on a wig, maybe make a purse, and find a real or fake dalmatian puppy for my pocket. Are any of you attempting a DIY Halloween costume this year? Spill!

I’ve kept my sewing machine pretty warm with Halloween stuff lately, but I’ve also made some non-costume-related garments. When Grainline Studio launched the Lark Tee sewing pattern, I bought it immediately and planned a trip to Vogue Fabrics to get my hands on some knits. I didn’t hesitate to buy Lark because A). I don’t own a T-shirt pattern, B). Grainline’s drafting is generally spot on, and C). it’s infinitely customizable, with four neckline options (crew, scoop, V, and boat) and four sleeve options (long, 3/4, short, and cap).

For construction, I used a ballpoint needle, walking foot, and the lightning bolt stitch on my sewing machine. Each is a size 8. Here are the rest of the dirty details about my three Larks (and counting):

Long Sleeve with V-Neck

grainline studio lark tee olive

cuffs grainline studio lark tee

I didn’t have a twin needle handy when I finished the hem and sleeves of this shirt, and I kind of botched the sleeve hems with a regular zigzag stitch. Since I didn’t stabilize them with anything, they turned out wavy enough to be bothersome. Luckily, cutting the hems off and adding cuffs turned out to be a really simple fix. I’m a fan of cuffs on long sleeves, and I think I might treat all of my LS Larks this way!

lark tee long sleeves

v-neck lark tee grainline studio

I looooove the color of this fabric—a sturdy ponte knit from The Needle Shop in Chicago—but unfortunately it’s pilling like crazy after just three washes. I think I might start air-drying this bad boy to avoid any more damage. (It might also help if I stopped wearing jewelry with it :-P). As for the neckline, this was my first attempt at a V-neck. It’s not horrible, but it’s a little more rounded underneath the point than it should be. I fixed that with my second V-neck after reading Jen’s tutorial for the Lark sew along. Speaking of my second V-neck…

3/4 Sleeve with V-Neck

v-neck lark tee grainline studio

lark tee 3/4 sleeves grainline studio

I know it’s kind of hard to see the V-neck detailing on black, but the point of the V is much prettier on this version. I folded the neckband strip carefully to get a thin line of white at the edge, and I like how that turned out. The neckline is anchored down with a twin needle stitch (finally replaced my broken one!). I also used the twin needle to hem the sleeves and bottom.

lark tee 3/4 sleeves grainline studio

This fabric is probably the best knit I’ve ever bought. Its a bamboo-lycra blend from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. At $16/yard it’s pretty pricey, and I hesitated to purchase it at first. But I’m glad I went with my gut, since it’s washed and worn beautifully thus far and remains buttery soft to the touch.

Short Sleeve with Scoop Neck

short sleeve lark tee grainline studio

short sleeve lark tee grainline studio

This particular Lark Tee is a testament to how differently patterns can behave depending on the type of fabric you use. I can’t remember the exact content of this cotton-spandex blend from Vogue Fabrics, but it’s definitely more structured than the bamboo knit. I think I could’ve easily cut a size down for this, and I might go back and take in the sides if the fit starts to bother me. Again, I used a twin needle to anchor the neckline and finish the hems.

lark tee short sleeve grainline studio

The Verdict

This is a great basic T-shirt pattern to build your layering wardrobe. It seems like it runs a bit big, so definitely make a test version and go from there. I have pretty broad shoulders and a 36″ bust, and the 8 fits great around the chest. It falls into a looser shape around the hips, but that’s part of the design. I should also note that this thing is pretty long. I’m 6’0″ with a long torso, and I normally have to lengthen my shirt patterns (including other Grainline Studio patterns) by at least 1″. I didn’t lengthen these shirts at all, and they’re plenty long.

Have you made any Larks yet? What’s your verdict?

The Official 2014 Post-Halloween Sewing Report

sew your own Willy Wonka costumes

October 31 was a wet, blustery night in Chicago. After standing in vain at a freezing wind tunnel of a bus stop for 15 minutes, I gave up and set out walking toward my destination. Traffic’s always rough, but it seemed to be particularly awful that night. It turns out cars were gridlocked on north/south streets because Lake Michigan was throwing up 20-foot waves directly onto Lake Shore Drive, effectively shutting down that thoroughfare. Guess it’s not Halloween without some real-life terrors.

I realized too late that I’d created my own personal Halloween sewing nightmare. As I mentioned in my plans post, my intention was to make Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp Willy Wonka coats and hats for my boyfriend and myself, respectively. Don’t get me wrong, this shit all got done, but not without some moderate freakouts along the way. Somehow I thought that making two jackets and matching hats from scratch would be totally manageable if I chipped away at them each day. I failed to recognize that sewing items I’m not familiar with (jackets, nay, MENSWEAR jackets, and hats) would involve some practice and probably many, many mistakes along the way.

Purple Willy Wonka Coat

Even with a muslin, the first jacket I made (the bright purple one), was a bit of a doozy. I decided against lining the jackets since I wanted to minimize spending and “uneccessary” steps for coats that we’d probably only wear one or two nights. I finally wrapped my head around how to attach the collar and facing without a lining, but then came the sleeves. I didn’t adjust the ease enough the first time I basted them in, and they were a complete disaster. They kind of looked like this. I ripped those sucker out, adjusted the ease a bit more, and Frankensteined them into place. They’re still not perfect, but at least they didn’t make Marc and me immediately burst into laughter just looking at them.

Thankfully, the Gene Wilder jacket and hat came together before our first costume party, held the week before Halloween. I abandoned hope of getting my Wonka getup finished by then, but the makeshift Golden Ticket costume seemed to go over pretty well. Thank god for Blick Art Materials’ golden poster paper and stencils!

wonka and the golden ticket

That next week, I focused on completing the red jacket. Since I’d already hashed out some issues with construction on the first jacket, this piece came together much more easily. The lapel and collar sit flatter, and the sleeves fit nicely after the first try. It was strange wearing a coat tailored for a man, but I cut out a small (instead of the medium I cut for Marc), and that seemed to balance out a little of the bulk. I didn’t have to worry about length for once—the sleeves and waist were pretty much spot on.

Red Willy Wonka Jacket

It’s got pockets, too! The flaps wouldn’t lie flat because I couldn’t iron them (hot irons+corduroy=burning plastic smell), but it was nice to have a place to stash candy, gloves, and cans of cider.


I could go on about these jackets, but I’m kind of sick of them at this point. McCall’s M7003 served its purpose, but I’ll be happy if I can avoid men’s outerwear or red or purple corduroy for the foreseeable future. Come to think of it, I’d like to add camel and black felt to that list, too.

felt top hats

These unfortunate “top hats” were nearly the death of me. Marc’s was way too small and ended up cutting off circulation to his head. My black hat fared a little better, but neither really looked like an actual top hat. And the camel one definitely looks like something an 8-year-old Indiana Jones might wear. As far as construction goes, I pulled from a medley of confusing WikiHow articles and online tutorials, opting to use sew-in interfacing for the brim and flue of the hat. I wish I’d had more time to make a prototype to figure out how to keep the top of the hat from collapsing into the flue. Millinery is tricky, y’alls! That said, the felt and ribbon came out to roughly $12 overall for both hats, and that’s way cheaper than most decent-looking hats I came across online.

We also made canes by attaching cabinet pulls to stained dowel rods. Thanks, Home Depot! And thanks especially for not giving us a breathalyzer before we used a saw to cut the dowels to our preferred size…

Despite the sewing hangups and imperfections, I’m happy with how our costumes turned out. I’m also happy that I discovered how fabulous dancing is with a cane. Try it! Now that Halloween’s over, it’s time to move on to the greener pastures of soft knits, patterned cottons, and trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to make for xmas gifts this year. Do you have any giftable sewing plans?

A Striped Hemlock Tee (and HaLLoWeEn Plans!)

grainline studio hemlock tee

I’m about a year late to the game with the Hemlock Tee, but I have to say, Grainline Studio hit it out the park with this *free* PDF pattern. At first I was a little freaked out by the one-size-fits-all cut, but since it’s designed for lightweight knits, this top’s really all about the boxy drape. And what a gloriously comfortable drape it is! It’d probably be even more flowy if I hadn’t accidentally cut off an extra 2″–3″ from the hem. Whoops. I made that mistake when trying to even out the bottom with a rotary cutter, not realizing that the stripes were ever so slightly offset. Long story short, this quickly turned into a cropped Hemlock, and I love it!

hemlock tee grainline studio free pattern

Most of my pants hit high enough that I don’t have to worry about flashing skin (it’s fall now, the time when us Chicagoans put away our bare skin until next spring). As far as construction, I used my walking foot and a lightning bolt stitch for the side seams. To finish the bottom and sleeves, I just did a simple turned hem with a slightly lengthened straight stitch. Next time, I’ll try a double-needle finish like the tutorial instructs.

hemlock tee grainline studio

I cut the neckline down a little lower than the pattern, which lead to some problems with the neckband binding. I thought I’d added enough length to compensate, but I had to rip out my first neckband and try again. Does anyone have a surefire formula for calculating neckband length? I know it probably differs depending on the level of stretch, but any tips are welcome!

hemlock tee grainline studio
V excited for BYOB sushi

I have high hopes to whip a few of these up for Christmas gifts, but for now, I’m focusing solely on HALLOWEEN. Halloween is kind of a big deal for me. Ever since I can remember, my mom’s always been a champ when it comes to whipping up creative costumes. As a toddler, I was a hand-sewn furry spider. In second grade, I was the R.M.S. Titanic. 

titanic Halloween costume 1998

There were many more, but that cardboard ship remains the costume to top. Bravo, Mom & Dad in 1998.

Last year marked the first time I sewed my own costume, a spring roll. It took forever, but it was gratifying to know I made the entire piece on my own. This year, I’ve decided to capitalize on my current haircut and go as Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. And since my boyfriend is blond and light-eyed, naturally I suggested that he be Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka. I’m planning on sewing the coats, possibly making the hats and canes, and then throwing together the rest of the outfit with items we already own.

M7003 costume pattern

I found this McCall’s pattern for $5 on Etsy and immediately snapped it up. It’s not exactly the style of the Wonka jackets, but I think it’s close enough to pass if we get the accessories right. (And the candy. We’re only allowed to hand out Wonka Candy, otherwise WHAT’S THE POINT?!) The pattern calls for a mid-weight wool or gabardine, but I’m hoping that it’ll work with these mid-weight corduroys I found at Textile Discount Outlet:

red and purple corduroy

At just $3.95/yard, they were way cheaper than anything I could find online, especially when you take into account shipping charges. By the way, Textile Discount Outlet is an old-school fabric labyrinth that definitely deserves a visit if you’re even in Chicago. It’s not glamorous, but it does have an insane number of fabrics, notions, and everything in between.

I just got my pattern in the mail today and can’t wait to get started on these goofy jackets. Do you have any Halloween projects in the works? Let me know in the comments!