I could not get the Flintstones theme song out of my head when sewing these pants. I’m sorry if this song gets stuck in your head, too, because we all know earworms spread like the common cold. I could talk earworms all day—good ones (thanks Queen), bad ones (eff you Styx)—but we’re here to talk pants.
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.👰🏼
Purely. Gratuitous. Sewing. That’s what I did when I had the apartment to myself for a couple days over holiday break, and it felt amazing. Did I need to make this By Hand London Anna dress? Not quite.
Sure, I’m considering using this pattern to sew a bridesmaid dress for a wedding in the fall, but that’s more than 10 months away. I did, however, really want a break from sewing Christmas gifts and practical clothes, and Anna turned out to be just what I needed to get my sewjo back. (Sorry not sorry for using that frankenword.)
Construction was simple but time-consuming, since I opted to hand sew a lot of the finishes. Here’s how I finished the guts:
Blind slipstitched the armholes and leg slit
Catch stitched the hem
Pinked the facing and waist seam
French seamed the skirt panels and shoulder seams
Frenching the seams and hand-sewing the hems took quite a bit of patience, but I’m really pleased with the outcome. Plus it was nice to have something to do with my hands while binge-watching Making a Murderer.
As for fit, the bodice is pretty snug. I’m not sure if I lost some inches with lackadaisical french seaming, or if I could stand to go up a size. I cut a straight size 10 (I’m a 36 bust with broad shoulders), and I’ll probably go with that size when I sew this up for a for-real bridesmaid dress. Edit: I should note that this material has a bit of stretch, which definitely helps. I think it’s a poly charmeuse?… I honestly can’t remember, I picked it up for $5/yard from Vogue fabrics in Evanston.
I’ll generously call this a wearable muslin, although I’m not sure where I’ll wear it. I finished Anna in time to bring her to the Wisconsin Dells for New Year’s Eve, but my rational side won out and I left her at home. She might have been JUST SLIGHTLY out-of-place at the steak house we went to for NYE dinner.
It pains me to say it, since the floor length makes this dress pretty glam, but I might shorten her to wear in the spring and summer. I’m sure I’ll make up for the drama with the bridesmaid dress in the fall.
Have any of you made a bridesmaid or wedding dress? Tell me your secrets!
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.
This fabric was so easy to work with—aside from the fierce fraying—that I’m letting it dictate my next make. Fabric.com 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’!)
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.
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.
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?!
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!
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.
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.
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. 😀
I wouldn’t recommend driving 1,800 miles in three days. But if you have to do it, you should reward yourself each night with a cocktail at a local watering hole, or a 40 of Bud Light while lying in bed in a Motel 6. No one’s judging here. Both happened last weekend, when the bf and I flew out to the Southwest to finally pick up his car. In case you’re unaware of the Coyote Saga, here’s the rundown (and some pictures for good measure):
May 14: We set out on the first day of our road trip, which started in Chicago (home) and continued on to Denver/Boulder, Canyonlands in Utah (the most beautiful place I’ve ever been), Vegas, and the Grand Canyon. After seeing the Grand Canyon (which was barely visible since it was sleeting that day :-/), we planned on spending the night in the small town of Gallup, New Mexico, before heading to Santa Fe and then eventually making our way home.
May 22: I was gazing up at the stars through the sunroof right after nightfall when I felt a huge thump. “Oh my god. I think I just hit a white wolf,” says Marc. The phrase was so ridiculous I laughed out loud, but the laughing quickly turned to mild terror when we realized that the radiator was busted, leaving us stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, Arizona. Apparently white wolves coyotes get real big out in the Southwest (RIP coyote). After sitting two hours in genuine fear that a Jeepers Creepers–type character was going to steal me and eat my skin, a tow truck arrived and we spent the night at a Travelodge in Holbrook, AZ. Long story somewhat shorter: We got a rental car for the next few days and explored Albuquerque and Santa Fe before driving back to the body shop in Holbrook, where we learned that the car would take at least a few weeks to fix. We couldn’t afford to take any more time off work, so a flight back to Chicago it was.
July 23: Nine weeks later, the car was finally fixed. We flew back to Phoenix and drove a rental the three hours from the airport to Holbrook, and then spent the next 2.5 days driving back to Chicago. Aside from almost hitting a stray dog eating roadkill in the middle of the road (crisis averted), the drive was blessedly uneventful. Humid as hell, but uneventful. SAGA OVER.
So as timing would have it, this iteration of Sallie made it’s debut in Phoenix, Arizona, on a 100º evening. It was so comfy—despite the heat—that I bust it out the next night in Tucumcari, New Mexico, another middle-of-nowhere town along old Route 66.
Here’s a breakdown of my Sallie:
Cut a straight size 10, adding 1.5″ to the bodice and lining and lengthen the bottoms 1″ at the lengthen/shorten line.
To make this into a romper, I chopped the pattern off 4.5″ below the crotch, but next time I will definitely alter the bottoms using Heather’s tutorial
I bought 4 yards of this gray knit fabric (not sure of the content, I picked it up for $2.95/yard at Textile Discount Outlet in Pilsen) with the intention of making a jumpsuit muslin, but then I decided to go with the romper length. After making a romper muslin (which was necessary bc of crotch length issues), I had ALMOST enough to make my “real” version, but I had to use a similar black knit for the lining. It peeks out a bit, but it doesn’t bother me.
I think I could afford to go a tiny bit shorter with the length, but it’s comfortable as is so I might just leave it.
For construction, I cursed the fact that I don’t have a serger, and then sewed this up using my regular machine and a ballpoint needle with either a straight or zigzag stitch, depending on the seam. I broke my twin needle (WAH!) so I hemmed the shorts with a zigzag, too.
I never thought I’d be a romper/jumpsuit person, mainly because whenever I’ve tried one on the crotch looks obscene. It turns out that I LOVE this romper because it actually fits my torso. If you’re on the fence about this look, I highly recommend giving this pattern a try, plus you get maxi dress and tank options if those are more your thing.
How do you feel about jumpsuits? Willing to give ’em a go?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!):