Tuesday, May 28, 2013

me? an award? i'm so honored!

About a month ago I was honored by Dani Jayne of One Small Stitch with a Liebster Award! So what's I Liebster Award? (I asked the same thing...) After a little Google-ing I've learned it's a informal award in the blog-o-sphere passed along from blogger to blogger. I've found a few different variations of the rules, but here are the guidelines that Dani posted April 20th when she nominated sew rachel!:

"So, as I understand it, the Liebster Award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers. I need to answer  the 10 questions set by Helen [who nominated One Small Stitch], then nominate another 10 bloggers, again with less than 200 followers, and give them another 10 questions. What a fantastic way to share the love!" 
How neat is that?!?! I guess the first order of business is the answer some questions...

1. Why did you start sewing?
My mom always sewed. She made a lot of our clothes when we were little, and doll cloths, and toys, and quilts. So I started "creating" at a pretty young age.  I liked to create anything out of anything (and kinda still do).  The first thing I remember sewing was a hand puppet in my 1st grade class.  I really picked it back up again last summer when I decided to make a party dress for my wedding. Here are a few pics of that dress from a photo shoot up on the blueberry fields behind our house, and a pic from the post-wedding BBQ with friends. I worked so hard on it, with all of this ruched, and gathered burn-out chiffon on satin lining. WHAT WAS I THINKING? It actually came out really well and gave me the confidence to start sewing again and start this blog! In retrospect, there are so many things I've learned since that dress. I didn't even know to finish seams!

I have to make a shout out to Andrew Davis for taking absolutely beautiful photos at my wedding! If you are looking for a photographer in New England, I HIGHLY recommend him! http://www.andrewdavisweddings.com/

2. What's your favourite part of sewing/making?
I just love that feeling when the right fabric combines with the perfect pattern and you create something even better than you expected! Or when you finial master a new technique that elevates your final product, like recently when I learned how to make a narrow hem.

3. And least favourite?
Easy. Two things: First, when you've spent all this time cutting and sewing, and then when you are finally 90% finished and can really try it on for the first time, and it looks terrible on you. Part of this is due to the fact that my figure has changed a little in the past year, and I have to re-learn what styles look good on me. I'm also learning to try out new patterns with inexpensive fabrics first, or make a muslin. And second, I hate hemming. BUT the more tricks and techniques I learn the less I dislike it.

4. Who is your muse/style idol/style inspiration/style crush? Can be real or fictional. Famous or civilian.
Tough question. With this whole making-my-own-cloths-thing, part of it is about trying to figure out what MY style really is. I'm inspired by many different bloggers who seam to have really figured that out for themselves.

5. What is your favourite make?
Just one? Even with all it's flaws, it may be that party dress for my wedding.

6. And least proud?
I don't think "least proud" is the right term, but I do have my fair share of items abandoned mid-way through. Maybe my first big disappointment was late 2012 when I was trying to make a party dress, and decided to completely change the pattern without any knowledge on how to actually do that...

The fabric was really beautiful so hopefully I can reuse it for another project.

7. What's your sewing/making bete noire? Your biggest challenge, or the thing you've been putting off?
I pledged this spring to make pants and a jacket. I tried making pants and abandoned them after they were 80% constructed and I was having problems fitting (I didn't know you could even have a baggy knee, much less how to fix it!). I've picked up a couple of simpler pant patterns to try next. I haven't even started a jacket.

8. Where do you find inspiration?
Sometimes I see things on Pinterest. Sometime I'll see something in the mall or Modcloth.com. I often get inspired by other blogger's makes. Most of the time I'm first inspired by either a fabric or pattern that speaks to me, and then I search for fabric or pattern to complete it.

9. Do you have any other hobbies, other than sewing/making?
I'm also an artist, primarily printmaking and painting. I like to grow, cook and eat good food. We're kinda foodies up here in Portland, Maine. I like to camp and hike. I take classes whenever I can, and I like to create pretty much all kinds of things.

10. What is your sewing set up? Do you have a dedicated sewing space? Are you relegated to a corner of the living room?
I've recently converted 1/2 of a unused back bedroom in our apartment into a sewing space! It's got a folding table for cutting, a tabletop ironing board right there and handy, my sewing machine in the window, and big plastic drawers underneath for fabric and patterns. It's always a mess, but that's ok because it's still very functional, and because that mess is no longer in my dining room!

And now for my nominees! I'm going by the bloglovin.com stats for the under 200 follower requirement. Looking through my own bloglovin list, I'm finding that many of the blogs I read don't fit that requirement! So I may not have 10 nominees, but I do have:

Suzy Bee Sews - Just stumbled up her blog while researching Sewaholic's new Tofino Pants. What beautiful makes! Check out this Rose Peplum Trench!

Sew Me Love - Just squeezing by with 199 bloglovin.com followers! I love her style! This dress stands out in my mind.

We Sew Retro - Here is a fun new blog I've discovered where a whole group of sewers share vintage inspired sewing from all decades.

Manic Pop - Here is a blogger with great personal style, and on top of that she makes almost all her own patterns!

Sew, Cook, Laugh and Live - My mother sent me a link to a post on her blog. Jos is a woman who takes part in all kinds of creative endeavors, and I totally dig that.

Check them out!

Friday, May 24, 2013

they're here! they're here!

My indie patterns arrived! And early! I only ordered them from Sweet Little Chickadee on May 22nd, and according to the USPS tracking they were scheduled to arrive on May 28th, but they're here!

I opened the mailing envelope to find everything beautifully packaged! Of course, I was so excited to get into the patterns that I didn't take the time to take a picture. Oh well, next time. And after this package, there will SO BE A NEXT TIME.

The patterns were wrapped in blue tissue paper and twine, and on top was her business card in a little fabric pouch with a few pieces of CANDY (which I ate.... so no pictures, either)! How nice?

This is my first experience buying independently produced patterns, so I'll show you what I found in the blue tissue. Here are my two new Sewaholic patterns:

Inside looks very much like a traditional pattern printed on tissue paper with a large folded instruction sheet. I already have fabric picked out for these!

Now I've seen a few Megan Nielsen makes on other blogs and, to be honest, haven't been overly excited about them, especially for a $20 pattern. I decided to try her new Eucalypt Tank Pattern because I had been searching for just this kind of simple tank pattern that would give me lots of options for summer staples, and a lot of sewers seam (get it?) to love her patterns. Now that I've got my hand on one, I can see why. First off, the opening of the envelope is on the long side and has a Velcro closure to make it easier to store the pattern.

And once you open it up, you find a full glossy booklet of instructions and pattern variations!

And the pattern pieces are printed on nice, heavy, white paper, something that will really hold up to being traced and used over and over again. It's so beautifully produced and packaged that I just have to make it, like immediately! Maybe I'm seeing what all the hub-bub is about!

Like I said, I will be ordering from Sweet Little Chickadee again! She had a great selection of patterns from many different designers, including Australian and UK designers like Sewaholic and Megan Nielsen, but because she's US based it means quick shipping, no international conversion credit card fees, or extra taxes for this US chick! Check them out!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

me-made-may '13 - may 19th - 23rd

Still going strong!

On May 21st I wore my slim, lace print skirt to work with a black t-shirt and purple-y cardigan. This was one of my earlier makes, and wearing it again this week I can see how far I've come in my sewing skills in just a few months! The fit isn't quite right and the zipper is sewn a little bit bumpy. But the print camouflages most of that so it still look good and I'll wear it again!

I wore my new McCalls 6751 and I love this fabric! I paired it with skinny jeans and a red cardigan.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I  have to wear a black cami under so that my bra doesn't show with the deep V int ha back. BUT I'VE ALSO DISCOVERED that the straps like to slide off my shoulder... another reason for the cami! 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

me-made-may '13 - may 14th -18th

Here is my MMM '13 update! I'm doing really well, and finding it easier than I expected to reach for my me-made items when putting an outfit together. It's totally reaffirming my decision to dedicate so much of my free time to making my own garments.

Everyone at work loved my new Butterick 5885 on May 14th! Still too early to go sleeveless, and I was having a hard time figuring out what color cardigan would go with this graphic print. I decided on fuchsia... because fuchsia really goes with everything this season!

I wore my new maxi skirt on May 15th AND 16th. This is SO going to be a summer staple! I've already planned another maxi skirt fro my next project. Given how many times I've work this since just a week ago when I made it, you will be relieved to know that it launders beautifully. :)

On May 17th I wore the purple lace fold-over waistband skirt out shopping with my sister and mom. I dressed it casual with gold flip flops, a white t-shirt and a slouchy, grey sweater. So cute! 
Until later! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

indie pattern summer wishlist

Following many of the sewing blogs out there I've discovered so many amazing independent pattern designs.... and yet haven't bought any! This summer I pledge to buy and make at least one indie design... but which one? Here are my top contenders:

Image of 1202 Cambie Dress
One of the first blogs I discovered in the sewing blogosphere was Tasia's Sewaholic. She has SOOO many beautiful patterns that would be perfect additions to my wardrobe, but the Cambie dress I think it the perfect dress pattern. I've come across many lovely renditions on the interwebs, like these amazing versions by one of  favorite bloggers Scruffy Badger Time.
I think I will eventually need to own many from the Sewaholic line, like the Thurlow Trousers and the seemingly perfect knit Renfew Top. But before those on my indie pattern wishlist is...

The secret new Sewaholic Pattern!
The next Sewaholic pattern is out on Monday, but those who are on the mailing list (including yours truly) have had a sneak peak. I'm excited!

Collette Hazel
Another great summer dress! Don't you love the interesting seaming on the bodice? I've got a lightweight cotton stripe that would be amazing.

Avocado Hoodie
I discovered this pattern while exploring Lladybird sewing blog by Lauren, when she pattern-tested it here a few months ago.  Designed by Disparate Disciplines, it's more than a perfect fitting hoodie. It also includes back pockets for when walking with arms around your best-y on a cold day, and comes in men's and women's! I think I see a present in Mr. Sew Rachel's future (which means I'll just have to make one fore me, too. I mean... they ARE a pair!).

Eucalypt Woven Tank & Dress by Megan Neilse
I've seen a lot of folks who love Megan Neilsen and I haven't been convinced until I saw THIS new pattern! Maybe you see a simple woven tank, but I see so many possibilities! She illustrates some of those on her blog. Plus, what a great summer wardrobe staple.

Digital Download Sewing Pattern Clutch with Bow by Constructivism, $7.00
Where am I going to take it? I don't know! But look how pretty it is! 

What are some of your favorite indie patterns? Have I missed something really good?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

a bright casual mccalls 6751 for summer

I saw this fabric and knew I needed it! The colors, the print, the softness, the drape! The questions was, what to make? Mr. Sew Rachel thought I should make a maxi-skirt, and while I do love my maxi-skirts, I really wanted a top. But, with a large print like this it had to be a pattern without a lot of pieces and seams, and large enough to really show the print off without overwhelming my small frame. I decided to try a new McCalls pattern, M6751 view D.

It's not that l'm crazy for the butt flap trend this season, but it needed a little something to avoid being just a boxy top. After looking at the finished garment measurements I decided to cut a size smaller. 6+ extra inches in the bust? That's too loose for me. Even so, the shoulder straps lay a little too wide, which I'm finding is the case with most patterns on my frame.
Back view D
Back view of my finished top.
The back is designed to be made from one pattern piece, cutting two so they mirror each other. I thought, "how silly to waste such beautiful fabric by having a double layer over the butt flap. It isn't even seen!" So I cut the bottom piece to just under where they overlap, and then had enough scrap for a cool infinity scarf! Wrong move. Once I had it on, the way the "V" in the back draped revealed the bottom edge of the under-layer, and a big ugly opening! I had to top stitch the two pieces together along the top hemline about 6 inches from the side seam to prevent the gaping. It's mostly invisible, but now the back "V" doesn't drape nearly so lovely. What did I learn? Next time follow the instructions because they are probably that way for a reason.

Speaking of instructions, I discovered a fabulous little nugget of information tucked in the M6751 instructions! The options for finishing the neckline, armholes, and hem were bias tape or a narrow hem. I wasn't so pleased with bias tape when I used it for the top I made for my sister, so I thought I try my hand at a narrow hem and discovered THIS:

Why had I not seen this before?!?! What a great way to ease in a curved hemline, and even with the straight hems that extra line of stitching made for a great guild-line! Remember how in the last post I stated how much I hate hemming? Well I still think it's tedious and fussy, but at least I now have a tool that makes it a little easier and lead to better results! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

me-made-may '13 - may 9th - 13th & a new maxi-skirt

Well first off, let me show you what I'm wearing right now:

Ahh, the beauty that is an iPhone-bedroom-mirror-self-portrait. Here is my new jersey, fold-over waistband maxi-skirt. I LOVE it! I put it on as soon as I got home from work. I used a soft, grey, rib-knit I got on a $1.95/yard sale at Fabirc.com, and the included skirt pattern by Meg McElwee from my Sewing with Knits class on Craftsy.com. The pattern is for a knee-length or mini skirt, so I taped some newsprint to the bottom of the skirt pattern and continued the line to a maxi-length. I did find that with this rib knit I could not get the fit tight enough for the skirt to stay up, even after taking 5 or 6 inches off the waistband from the original pattern. I'm learning that different knit fabrics using the same pattern will yield very different fits. I ended up sewing an additional line of stitching in the seam allowance to create a casing for some 1/4 inch elastic. Problem solved! I will SOOO be making more of these for summer, or maybe skipping the fold-over waistband all together and making strait-up elastic waist maxi-skirts.

Now on to my Me-Made-May update, and I'm exceeding my pledge of a handmade garment two day per week!

On Thursday, May 9th I wore my teal denim Simplicity 2258 to work.

Friday, May 10th, I both made the above maxi-skirt AND wore it out with friends that evening! Double win!

And on Sunday May 12th I wore the these-are-not-jegging yoga jeans when lounging and working around that house, and slipped on my previously mentioned spring ruffle skirt when I went out. 'Cause my yoga jeans look good, but not quite where-outside-of the-house-without-looking-scrubby good.

I'm already planning on wearing my new Butterick 5885 tomorrow for my usual Me-Made-Tuesday... I am so rocking MMM '13!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

butterick 5885 finished!

I finally finished the Butterick 5885 by Maggy London that I started over a month ago! I actually had the construction finished a long time ago but have been putting off the hem. Why? I don't like hemming, for one thing. It's tedious and fussy and plain old not as much fun as the making-something-out-of-just-fabric part (a.k.a. construction). If you don't get the hem just right the whole garment, and all the work up until then, will look awful. Most of the UFOs in my sewing room are because I just don't feel like hemming them. This dress with a full circle skirt has A LOT of hem, and a fussy curved hem at that!

Second, it's so hard to mark a hem by yourself! Most of the time I can wing it when I have a straight hem, or one that hangs evenly right from the pattern. But this big circle skirt in a stretchy knit made for an all wonky hem. I tried the hem attachments on my dress form, but once I was marked all the way around, my marks were 2 inches shorter then when they started... that's not going to work. I tried to teach Mr. Sew Rachel how to do it, but a quarter of the way through he throws up his hands and says "I can't do this! I'm going to ruin your pretty dress!" Umm, I was going check it in the mirror before I cut anything.... oh well. So I took it to my Gramma's.  Of course she had no problem helping me out, and I now I know to go to her first.

Once the dress was marked, it actually finished up quite nicely! This fabric has been great to work with; even easing the curve of the hem was no trouble at all! And for the 56 inches of elastic that pattern was telling me to put in the waist.... I just left it out and it looks just fine. In fact, the fit is fabulous. I would for sure make this pattern again!

A v-neck with crisscrossed and ruched detail. As usual  I had to take in in the shoulders a couple inches, as well as take in the sides. I always cut a 14 (which is what a measure at) and always take it in! I need to just cut a 12 for all patterns from now on...

The back is constructed from two one-shoulder pieces that cross and then both attach at the waist for a nice v-detail. I love how the graphic print will camouflage any little bumps in both in the dress construction and in the wearer! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

me-made-may '13 - may 1st-7th

How are you doing on your Me-Made-May pledge? I pledged to wear a handmade garment twice a week, and so far so good. On May 1st I wore a made-by-me spring ruffle skirt (yet to be blogged on... but I will!) with a white t-shirt and fuchsia cardigan to work, and on the 3rd I wore my purple lace fold-over waistband skirt..


And I'm already on track for this week, as I mad a garment this morning AND wore it in the afternoon/evening! But more on that later...

Friday, May 3, 2013

another present?

Yup! I made another present! Who knew I was that generous? This time it's for my brother's fiance. (They are getting married this August and this girl is a bridesmaid, so keep posted for a killer handmade bridesmaid dress!)

We were out at the Mall and she spotted this awesome teal sleeveless tank top at Macy's. It looked great on her, and had a cute just-the-right-size bow on the neckline, but she was not going to pay nearly $40 for a tank top! So....
I used Simplicity 2116, a simple tank pattern. It was really easy, just two pattern pieces. The instructions were to sew up the side and shoulder seams, then turn in and hem the neck and shoulders. But wanted to take it up another level. I bought a teal polka-dot knit for the front panel and the bow (from the clearance rack, of course), and a fine off-white knit for the back and for lining. I chose to use lining so it can be worn to work without worry of undergarments showing, and just to elevate it and make it more than just a tank...  

Because if the lining, I chose to construct it a little differently. After sewing the shoulder seams on both the lining and the outer layer, I sewed the necklines right sides together and turned to get a clean, top-stitch free neckline to highlight my bow! I hope she likes it!