Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Home Sewing is Easy Dress

In between spending a full day sewing with Gertie in her "Home Sewing is Easy" dress, and Sew Dolly Clackett to celebrate Roisin's upcoming nuptials, it seemed destined for me to make my own version of this glorious dress. I promptly moved it to the top of my sewing queue and got to stitching. Doesn't it just make you smile?!
I used the Emery Dress pattern, modifying the sleeves to be capped. I knew it would showcase the print marvelously. I've made the Emery several times before (one, two, and three), and although it fits me well, I realized after taking my pattern making class that I could be making things with a much closer fit. I used my sloper to make adjustments to the Emery bodice and sewed up another test muslin. I liked the fit before, but boy, do I like it now! 
The fabric is designed by Alexander Henry, and is wonderfully colorful and cheery. AND it's sewing themed! The quotes are just stupendous, like, "The name of my dressmaker? Why certainly it's me!" You just can't beat a good dress that's also a fun read.
The eagle eye among you will notice that I have matched the pattern at the back bodice where the lapped zipper is. Oi! Matching up that gentleman's face was quite a bother. I ripped and re-stitched several times, managing in the process to turn "home sewing is easy" into a curse phrase. But now, "Honey, I look tops!"
My photographer for these grand photos was Dixie of Dixie DIY, and I am ever so thankful! We stopped off at The Common Thread, a local fabric shop, after lunch and snapped these just outside. I also made a pit stop at Stitch Lab to say hi to my pattern making friends and got the photo by the notions. A superb day of wearing sewing-themed clothes, hanging out with sewing friends in sewing places! 

And many congratulations to a virtual sewing friend, Roisin, on her upcoming marriage! It was magnificent sewing a dress in her style to honor her big day! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Liebster Award!

The lovely Laura of Two in the Hand has nominated me for a Liebster Award! Thank you, miss!!

This award is pretty special in that it's given to you by your peers, and is meant to be a way to discover new, smaller blogs.  So in keeping with the idea of making new friends, Laura has sent me some questions to answer so you all can get to know me a bit better! So here goes!

1. What is your favourite sewing tool or accessory? 

My pin cushion! It sits on my wrist with little metal bands, and is nice and big for sticking pins. In addition to being functional, I also think it's very beautiful. It's from Susan Khalje's online store.


2. Do you listen to music or watch films/ tele when you are sewing? 

All of the above! I also listen to audio books while I sew. Lately, I've been "reading" a series called Maggie Hope Mysteries about an extremely clever woman who works as a typist for Winston Churchill during World War II. 

3. Who is your favourite designer or style icon? 

Oh, Edith Head. How I love Edith Head. She paid so much attention to a woman's form and knew how to flatter it, and she put such detail into making her clothes part of the character she was creating. She had such diversity in what she designed, but was always true to the woman wearing it.

I also really admire that she was a professional woman at a time when that was not an easy or likely thing to do. She seemed like she had a lot of pluck, and I like that. If you have an interest in her, I highly recommend you read Edith Head's Hollywood. 

4. What is the garment you most want to conquer and sew a version of? 

A tailored jacket. It requires great fit and fabric handling, but would also allow me to learn all sorts of new techniques. I might try a less structured coat this year to dip my toe in the water.

5. What blogs other than sewing ones are in your feed?

Gollies. I love to read blogs and have hundreds in my feed. I follow lots of vintage fashion ones, no surprise, as well as bookish ones from favorite authors. Two of my favorites are The Freelancer's Fashion Blog and Inside a Black Apple from Emily Winfield Martin. Although I confess they both do a wee bit of sewing, so maybe I cheated!

Passing the Nomination

In return, I'd like to pass the nomination along to Gabriella of Sewing is Hard. She makes the best cigarette pants! Here are 5 questions for you, Gabriella: 
  1. How did you start sewing? 
  2. What's your favorite thing you've ever made? 
  3. What appeals to you about vintage sewing? 
  4. Where do you like to shop for fabric? 
  5. Your husband sews, too, right?! Tell us more about that! The two of you always seem to have the greatest handmade vacation garb! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Navy and Red Striped Coco

I made another Coco!
Oh, come on now. I know I've made three of these, but we could all get a bit more excited about it. After all, this is my first striped Coco.
That's better. 

I think it's safe to say at this point that I am entirely addicted to sewing Coco. Knit tees were one of the few items left in my closet that I wasn't sewing, and it's been so much fun to fill that gap. This outfit is entirely handmade, which makes me so happy. I made the navy circle skirt last year, and I wear it pretty much every week no matter the weather. It's one of my all time favorites. And these two handmades together?! I can't wash it fast enough to get it on my person for another day of wear.
The construction and fit of this tee was very straightforward, so I can't say I have much to add from version 1 and version 2 there. I did a few extra steps to make sure the stripes matched, mostly basting before serging to make sure everything aligned. Look at those glorious lines all matched!
I used a tip when cutting from Susan of moonthirty, a fellow Austin sewing blogger. You cut one side of the pattern, then use it as a template for the other. It's genius!!
I only have one more Coco planned before I set the pattern aside for a bit. I've been sewing lots of separates lately, which was a gap in my closet to be sure, but my hands are starting to itch for novelty-print dresses again.

Speaking of those hands, I went to the doctor last week and discovered I sprained my wrist from all the sewing at Gertie's Beacon Sewing Retreat! Apparently three days of sewing plus hauling fabric all over the Garment District was enough to do me in. My doctor acted like I should have seen it coming, "I don't know why you're surprised… That's a lot of concentrated wear…" 

Here's a pathetic selfie of me with my good 'ole wrist brace. Don't worry! I can still sew with it on! TAKE THAT, WRIST.
I've suffered endless teasing from coworkers and friends. It is pretty pitiful when I get the classic, "How did you hurt your hand?!" and I say, "…sewing..." Have you ever had a sewing injury? Tell me I'm not alone! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Gertie's Inaugural Beacon Sewing Retreat

I have returned from Gertie's Inaugural Beacon Sewing Retreat, deliriously happy and flush with fabric from New York's Garment District! As promised, I have many photos to share with you, several borrowed from my new friends! Here I am with the woman herself.
Here's the whole gang! All the women were such a pleasure to spend the weekend with. Sewers really are the nicest people. I will steal a line from Oddfellow Orphanage that sums it up quite nicely, "It surprised her that people she just met could make her feel so special."
Photo from Gertie. Left to right: Marie, Blanca, Jenny, Jacky, Fleur, Me, Alison, Joanna, Kim, Kristen, Annelieke, and Emily
In particular, I got to meet the delightful Jenny of Cashmerette. I will add my voice to the chorus of sewing bloggers that proclaim how wonderful it is to meet your virtual sewing friends in real life. It was grand sewing with Jenny all weekend, and she kept me in stitches (if you pardon the pun). Upon meeting, we promptly hugged and took a silly-faced photo like old friends.
Photo by Jenny, @cashmerette on Instagram
We spent the long weekend at a lovely hotel in Beacon called Roundhouse overlooking the Hudson River. Here's a snap of us at breakfast by the fire.
Photo by Jenny, @cashmerette on Instagram
We got a sneak peak of Gertie's book coming in September, which is going to be sensational, and got to look in detail at many of her handmade masterpieces. Gertie also did several demos, including sewing gussets, bound buttonholes, and how to add boning to your garments.
Since I knew we'd be working on boning, I brought the Bombshell Dress from Gertie's Craftsy class. Here I am in my second muslin, once all the fitting was done! I'm posing by Gertie's dress of the same pattern.
Photo by Jenny, @cashmerette on Instagram
I intend to construct a bustier for the finished garment out of a retro glasses print. I got everything cut and prepared for sewing before we had to part ways, spending most of the retreat on fit. I decided to match the pattern at the seams, and I was getting a little loopy after so many hours of cutting cross-legged on the floor!
Photo by Fleur, @frau_fleur on Instagram
The weekend came to a close far too quickly, but my adventure wasn't over yet! I took a train into Manhattan next to take the Garment District by storm. I was armed with suggestions from Gertie and Fleur, local pros, as well as tips from other sewers.

I felt like a kid in a candy store! I managed to make it to Mood, Metro Textiles, and B & J Fabrics before my wallet and hunger overcame me. Here I am, staring bright eyed at my choices at B & J.
In the end, I did quite a bit of damage, and I'm pleased as punch with it. I wish I could have gone back a second day for more! I must go again. I know I barely scratched the surface.
There's some Liberty in there, double knit, some great cotton stripes, a seafoam green wool suiting, and a total splurge of an embroidered black organdy that is the exact fabric Gertie used in her strapless party dress from her first book. I stared at it longingly all weekend at the retreat, and when I saw it in the store, I knew there was no turning back!
Here's the handmades I wore from the photos above:
If you just can't get enough of this glorious weekend, you can find more photos on Instagram with the tag #gertieretreat. I'll be looking at them longingly for weeks! I'm so glad she plans to host many more of these retreats!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Baby Boy Sewing: Kwik Sew 3730 Elephant Romper

If you've been following my blog for a little while, you know I became an Aunt last October! This elephant romper is from Kwik Sew 3730 for my darling nephew. Elephants are my sister-in-law's favorite animal, and I knew she'd adore this print. Lukas is only five months, so he can't quite fit into this yet. So you'll have to be content seeing it on tiny clothes pins!
I had never sewn for children before little L came along, and I gotta say, it's fantastic. Lukas won't care if it's not perfect, and will likely spit up on it, so it's completely stress free sewing. This pattern was also so fast to sew up. It calls for 1/4" seam allowances, and can easily be done on the serger. 
The pattern calls for snaps at the bottom, which is nice and easy for all those diaper changes. 
I love the detail of the little pockets! Isn't it just adorable?! This romper was just too cute, so I had to squeeze in one more post before I head to Beacon, NY for Gertie's Sewing Retreat. If you're on instagram, you can follow along with our fun with the hashtag #gertieretreat. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Laverne-Style Coco

I had so much fun embroidering on my first Coco, that I couldn't resist doing it a second time on this lovely red ponte knit. This one is going to be so fun to wear so many different ways! High-waisted cigarette pants, circle skirts… My mind is reeling with combinations.
I'm channeling Laverne on this one from "Laverne and Shirley." Although judging by Laverne's photo, I could have gone way bigger on my "L."

You like my Laverne face? I bet that's the image that will populate in Google when you search for Cocos, because isn't that how it always goes.
I made four changes on this Coco from my first version
  1. I did a 3/8" forward shoulder adjustment. Now it's hitting me in the perfect spot! 
  2. I added 1/4" to the top of the sleeve cap. The hem of the sleeve was riding up just a bit on the outside, and I find having the sleeve hit my arm evenly makes them look slimmer. 
  3. I did ribbon instead of stay tape for the neckline and shoulder seam reinforcement. I like the ribbon much better! It feels nice and looks prettier. 
  4. I sewed up the vents so the side seams are continuous. I'm not sure which I like better...
I also used an interlock knit last go round, which I like a bit better than this ponte. This is thicker and resulted in a slightly snugger-fit tee. Not bad, but the interlock knit is much comfier for a tee I think. 
Here's some pictures of the insides. I serged the seams, and then left raw edges at all the hems. Knits don't fray, so there's no need to clean finish! For your reference, I followed the same techniques for embroidering the L from my tutorial on how to embellish a dress with cross stitch. The stitch is just a satin stitch.
It's been grand playing with solids and embroidery on Coco. I've got to sew some striped versions! But first, I'm off for an exciting weekend in New York for Gertie's Sewing Retreat! I'm hoping to learn about using steel boning and coat tailoring. I'm so excited!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sewing Cigarette Pants with BooBoo Kitty Couture

While planning for my Bedford Cigarette Pants, I contacted the lovely Aislinn of BooBoo Kitty Couture (BBKC) to see if she had any tips. BBKC offers made-to-measure dressmaking services, with fashions inspired by the 1940s and 1950s.  I have long admired her gorgeous cigarette pants, and I knew she would be a wealth of knowledge!


1. What types of cigarette pants do you make for your customers?

All the clothing I make for customers is made to order so I make a wide range. Ranging from semi-lose cigarette pants, with no stretch so they look more authentic. To skin tight capri pants for a sexy rockabilly bad girl look!

2. Why do you love wearing cigarette pants? Do you have a favorite style icon that wore them?

I love love love wearing cigarette pants. There are far too many icons to mention. Jayne Mansfield in her sexy leopard print, or Audry Hepburn in the film Funny Face wearing plain black ones for a simple yet chic Beatnik style. And of course Marilyn Monroe. Check out my pinterst board.


3. How do you go about tailoring your cigarette pants to each customer?

I draft the pattern to fit their hips fist and then bring in the waist using darts. Some people have large hip to waist ratio and others small. Those who have high waist to hip ratio I put four drafts at the front, those with small hip to waist ratio, I only can fit two darts at the front.

4. I found the front rise to be particularly challenging. How do you get a snug fit while leaving enough room to sit?!

I much prefer to use fabric with stretch. But I don’t think I have had any problem with the rise being too tight when sitting as the fabric has stretch. I have made pants without stretch but these aren’t as tight on the hips to allow ease when sitting. There is a fine fine balance when fitting pants without stretch, no room for error in fit.

5. What fabric do you recommend for this style of pant?

Medium weight with STRETCH!!


6. Describe some of the construction details of your pants.

Fixed interfaced waist band, darts at front and back, over locked seams. I also double stitch all seams as I would die if the pants ever split!! Side zipper, hand sewn waist band inside. Trouser clip. Slits at the hem for ease of movement.

7. Do you have any other tips?

Lots of fittings. My pattern is based on a vintage pattern, but has been adapted over the years and no longer resembles the vintage one at all!
Thank you so much, Aislinn! I am definitely using a stretch fabric next time around. And for those of you in the UK, you can contact Aislinn to enroll in sewing courses taught by her in her studio in Nottingham. She creates some truly beautiful tailored garments, well beyond just cigarette pants, so there's much to learn from her! And I hear there's afternoon tea at a vintage tea shop with the class, too! All us gals across the pond will just have to be jealous.