Monday, October 27

#Tutorials || DIY: Project Organizer Bags

    I'm not sure if I've shared this with all of you yet but... I'm sort of a neat freak.  If something can be organized, tidied, or streamlined in any way - you better believe I will organize, tidy, or streamline it. I just can't help myself.  So my "works in progress" used to all live in this little plastic drawer.  And by live I mean crammed and mixed up and disheveled.  Every time I went in that drawer the contents would burst out, I'd get stuck by pins, and/or I'd be missing a crucial button or zipper that I swear had been previously placed in said drawer.  I'd had enough.  
    Somehow I got the idea to make these little bags to organize each project in along with all of its accouterments.  The bags feature a vinyl window so you can easily see which project is inside.  So all of the parts stay together and each project is easy to find.  

    Needless to say this project was revolutionary to my studio life.  Not only did it look much nicer but it made my works in projects seem so much less daunting.  I just had to share it with you guys so y'all have the opportunity to experience the same amazing and life-changing transformation that I did :-p    

    Full tutorial after the jump!

  • Canvas bags - I found mine on Amazon.  Similar here.
  • Teflon universal sewing machine foot
  • Pinking Shears
  • Clear Vinyl (about 1/4 yard)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread - I used contrasting

Wednesday, October 8

#LadyMSews || McCalls 5539 Vintage Style Romper

    Ok so I know its fall and everything for all you nice people up north.  But down here in the great state of Texas, we are still seeing days that reach ninety... so no, I'm not THAT crazy for posting this make in October.  (okay so I meant to post it earlier this summer but I just procrastinated a bit - jeez)
    This McCalls pattern was a junk store find, and one that I just had to actually make (as opposed to letting it sit all lonely-like in the pattern bin).  And if you really want to talk about procrastinating, I actually made it LAST summer. If you remember (and of course you do), it was part of my sewing goals for Spring/Summer 2013!  This little outfit is so much fun to play around in with little sneakers on a super hot day, or dress up with heels for a retro-pin-up look at night to an outside concert or something. Sometimes I put this on and think .. "Is it TOO much?" and then decidedly answer "NO WAY!" and prance out the door to the delight of many compliments and admirers.  :)

    This pattern features an open front with three little tie closures.  It has a 1" elastic encased in the waistband. There is also a little flap that hangs over the bust line goes around to the back. The crisscross straps button in the back underneath the back flap. I sewed it up in a navy greyish chambray with little white flecks woven into it. It's the same fabric that I used for my tiny pocket tank - which by the way is extremely difficult to photograph, I mean this thing looks like its three different colors here!  I also made this pattern in a vintage floral (what I had left from my low back dress) for my dear friend Brynn for her birthday - which is three days after mine.  (I swiped a pic of it from her Facebook below) Because only the best of friends have matching birthday rompers. :)

    My only problem with this pattern is that it has no pockets.  I have no idea how I allow this major oversight to happen.  I'm actually considering going back and adding some patch pockets with a little bit of fabric that I have left. Until then I guess I will be that girl who is awkwardly rubbing her hands on her hips thinking that she has pockets where there are none.  As far as adjustments go, I did take in the side seems a significant amount and also shortened the rise about 1". 

    To add a very subtle pop to the neutral fabric I finished the seams in red serger thread which I also used for the hem and to made the front ties. There are also little red buttons hiding under the back flap to secure the straps in place. 

Pattern:   McCalls 5539 view D
Fabric:   White flecked Navy/Grey Chambray
Notions:   Two small red buttons, elastic waistband
Difficulty:  Intermediate 
Adjustments:  Took in side seams A LOT (probably about 4 inches), took up rise 1"
Finishes:  Serged seams in contrast thread, turned hem in contrast thread, neckline facing

Sew it again?   Probably not, only because this isn't exactly a "staple piece" - I mean, how many skimpy vintage rompers does a girl really need in her wardrobe?  I do have the tea-lenght skirted version in my sewing to-do list so I guess we shall see!

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, September 25

#ReMake of the Month: September || Refashioned Dress from Vintage Apron/Smock

    I love refashioning projects because there is so much great vintage/used clothing out there made with beautiful textiles that are just sitting on the shelf/on the rack/in the basement because the silhouette is out of date or something is damaged or theres just no use for them.  Refashioning breathes new life into those items and they get to re-enter the world with a big smirk and a brand new strut.  Plus I like to think that it potentially keep these lovely little beauties from eventually clogging up the landfills.

    This is one of those items that I'll have to admit even I didn't see much potential in.  But I got to hand it to the Gentleman - he has a pretty good eye for fun pieces.  This little apron/smock was a last minute grab, you know the one you spot while your already in the check out line?  The gentleman picked it up and said "what about this!?"  Me: (eyebrows raised - unsure if my man's judgement has gone off a bit) "um...I guess I can make it into a dress?"  I love the idea of an "apron dress" don't get me wrong, but these colors were SO BRIGHT and the print was SO WACKY I thought it would be too much.

   Boy was I wrong!  What a lovely little transformation from smock apron to bright vintage summer dress.  Luckily I had the perfect little matching bandeau to wear underneath.  This dress is so comfy and cool for hot days, and I get so many compliments on it!  I especially love the pocket detail.

Bandeau: American Apparel, Shoes: Lotta from Stockholm, Pearls: Vintage - from my grandmother
    The adjustments I made to make this little gal wearable were all pretty small changes that really made a big impact on the silhouette.  I took in the sides, which moved a lot of the open space from under my arms to the center back.  I added buttons and button holes down the center back of the apron to close the flap and make it into a skirt - aren't the buttons so perfect?  Lastly I hemmed it.  I generally hem all of my vintage finds since I'm teetering on the shorter side and they tend to hit me in a weird place.  Usually I get a little over-zealous and make the hem too short, but I'm finally starting break this habit and I think I hit this hem just right.  I used the excess I removed from the hem to make my button and button hole plackets in the back which I also fused for stability.

Original: Apron/Smock
Adjustments: Take in sides, add center back buttons, hem
Final Product: A summery open backed dress
Difficulty: Easy
Finishes: Serged seams where I took in the sides, turned hem

Time: I worked on this on and off - all together maybe 2 hours?
Do another like this?  I love that this style keeps me cool on super hot days (you know how I hate lots of fabric around my armpits - this completely eliminates that problem!)  If I found another smock with the same potential I would definitely go at it again!

Happy Refashioning!

Monday, September 8

#LadySeeLadyDo || Refashioned Pillowcase Dress from the Purl Bee

image from the Purl Bee
    How adorable is this little top from the Purl Bee?  (granted, anything is adorable in liberty print but come on, this is so cute!)  I love the Purl Bee for their simple, free projects that they release on a regular basis.  They always use the most beautiful fabrics and have the best photo styling!  If your are ever in NYC you should definitely check out their soho store - I can't go in there without wanting to touch EVERYTHING!  
    Ok enough about my obsession with Purl, back to this project.  I've had this pillowcase that I snagged at a goodwill for ages now, and I knew I wanted to use it to make something for my goddaughter Violet, but I hadn't quite decided what.  This little dress was the perfect fit! Purl pitches the project as a top, but my little violet is the tiniest thing, so it will fit more as a dress for her till she gets a little older (how perfect that they can grow into this and still wear it!?) 
    I try to keep myself away from the textiles section of goodwill because I will inevitably impulse buy something (usually vintage floral sheets) that will sit in my stash forever.  But how could I resist this little pillowcase set?  And pillowcases dont even take up that much space!  I'm so glad I bought it cuz this dress turned out so cute - and it was so easy!

    The only thing I did differently from Purl's instructions was I measured up from the pillow case opening (instead of measuring out a hem).  Pillowcases are perfect for projects like these - especially if you find one with a cute border like this one - you dont have to deal with the hem!  The thickness of the border at the hem also gives the dress some nice bounce.  I also lucked out because this was the perfect width, I didn't have to cut it down at all.  

    Here is a detail shot of the fun little whales along the bottom.  I still can't get over how darn cute they are!  I have a confession to make - I think I'm going to do a little something for myself with the other pillowcase... that is if my ass tushie can fit in it... we shall see!

Fabric:  Repurposed pillowcase from goodwill - about 2$ 
Notions: None!
Difficulty: Super easy
Adjustments: Skipped hem step and used pillowcase opening as hem
Finishing:  Used existing seams in pillowcase and opening as hem
Time: 45 min

Sew it again?  yes - super easy and quick project - good for last minute gifts! 

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, September 2

#LadyMSews || See Kate Sew: Callie Top - aka Confessions of a Ruffle Lover

    I was so lucky to be in the testing group for this pattern from See Kate Sew!  I don't know if you've ever pattern tested before, but often you don't get to know much about the pattern before its sent to you to test.  Of course, I had no doubts because Kate does such amazing things - and I was oh so pleased when I received this pattern!  The top is a part of her SS14 Garden Party collection, and if you haven't checked it out yet - I highly recommend it.  The whole collection is simple and feminine, perfect for easy spring (or summer!) days.

    Kate did some really clever things with this pattern.  The ruffles are set into darts, which adds shape and makes for easy construction.  In the back, the darts lead into separate panels - along with the horizontal seam, this opens up the pattern for lots of fun color blocking.

    I didn't exactly color block with this top, I.. surface-detail-blocked? Is that a thing?  I had this tiny piece of embroidered fabric that I snagged when an internship I had was cleaning out their swatches and samples.  I went home with lots of tiny pieces of beautiful fabrics that I was determined to use for contrast yokes, collars, pockets, etc. (they probably thought I was crazy).  This particular piece was just so beautiful, I've been saving it for the most PERFECT thing.  It took some serious cutting magic to get this long narrow strip of embroidery cut-out to fit just right into the middle back of this pattern, and I almost changed my mind because the linen on the embroidery fabric was just off-white enough to be pretty obvious against my white linen.  I'm so glad I stuck through the frustration, because it turned out just beautiful!

Top: Callie Top - Self Made, Pants: JCrew, Shoes: TOMS, Earrings: Vintage, Leather Bow: American Apparel

    So... in the detail shots you can see I had some button-placement issues (note to self: don't measure out your button placement in the wee hours of the night after a couple glasses of wine).  The buttons were a gift that a friend found at a stoop sale - I like how they are all different and almost look like rocks.  You can also see the slight contrast in the two linens.  In the end I think it adds a nice rustic feel along with the mix-matched buttons.  I also left the raw edges of the linen on the ruffles and just added a stay stitch to prevent over-fraying.  The pin tucks in the front were a last-minute addition to get rid of a little too much body up front, they turned out to be a fun added detail.  

    You probably dont know this about me, but sometimes I try to pretend like I'm not really much of a girly-girl.  Especially in winter, I tend to dress more menswear-inspired-prep.  But when the warm weather comes out I just can't hide the floral-loving, ruffle-wearing, bow-in-the-hair five year old that still lives inside of me.  What can I say?  You just feel better with a bow in your hair!

Pattern: Callie Top by See Kate Sew
Fabric: White Linen, Off-white Embroidered cut-out linen - both from stash
Notions: Vintage assorted buttons - all in stash
Difficulty: Intermediate
- Added pintucks in front
- Lowered under arm about 1" (my go-to adjustment)
- Shortened ruffle length by about 1 1/2" (they were overwhelming my small frame)
Finishing: Serged seams, 1/4"hem, raw edged ruffles, bias binding to inside neckline
Time: 5 hrs
Sew it again? Oh yes!  This top is so easy and comfortable.  You can also do so many different variations on it, the color blocking and ruffle adjusting possibilities are endless.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, August 25

#LadyMSews || Grainline Studios: Tiny Pocket Tank

    Ok seriously!? This pattern has been sitting in my patterns folder on my desktop since one hundred million years ago when Jen was giving them away for free.  I have no good reason as to why I just now got around to sewing it up (it was so fast and easy!) but I made sure to put it on my seasonal sewing goals for this summer so it would not go overlooked again.

    I chose this very comfy, very cute navy chambray (it has a slight polka dot woven into it).  This was actually left over from another project (yet to be blogged) and I knew exactly what I planned to do with them - though lost in my desktop pattern folder, this tank was always hovering in the "things I really need to make" part of my brain.

    Over all I am super happy with the fit of the top.  I love a boxy fit, and this top provides that while still being snug around the chest.  Even more I love that with the thickness of this chambray I can get away with out wearing a bra - which I try to do as much as possible mid-texas-summer (thank you small boobs).

    I absolutely love this pattern - I already have a silk in mind for the next make of it.  I literally whipped it up in 2 hours, which is my favorite kind of project.  And this is the first make of my newly focused "make clothes for everyday" perspective.  I have pretty much worn this at least once a week since it was finished.  I dont even bother ironing it (as you can see from the pictures).  I kind of like the casual rumpled look of the chambray after washing.

    My only complaint with this top, and a change I plan to make for the next one is that the armhole is too tight in the underarm - which is a constant problem for me (am I the only one that can't stand feeling my top in my armpit??).  I am also relentlessly bad about pre washing my fabric so this worsened the issue.  I will definitely lower the armhole about 1" for the next make, and may even go back and alter this one.

    I went with french seams on the inside, which turned out beautifully and made me wonder why I haven't been french seaming everything.  I even love looking at the top inside out!  I also decided to do a contrast pocket with the wrong side of the fabric which turned out to be such a great little detail, might even duplicate that on the silk.

    In short, if you haven't picked up this pattern - DO IT!  Jen even has a pattern hack on her blog that involves making it into a dress (how amazingly comfortable do you think THAT is?)  Plan on seeing more of these little babies in my future.

Pattern: Tiny Pocket Tank by Grainline Studios  
Fabric: Navy Chambray with tiny dots from Mood
Notions: none
Difficulty: easy
Adjustments: none
Finishing: French seams, 1/4" hem, bias binding to inside neckline
Time: 2 hrs, 30 min

Sew it again? Did you not get that from above? .. Duh

Happy Sewing!

Monday, July 21

#Tutorials || How To Pack Like a Minimalist - with Free Printable!


    Theres been a lot of talk around the blogosphere lately about simplifying you lifestyle, being a more conscious consumer, a more responsible maker, and over all more mindful of the earth, your wallet, and your space.  This brought to mind my experience packing for our trip to Paris last year, and how I recovered from being a chronic over-packer all in one "light-bulb" moment of clarity.

    Here's the break down: Last September, the Gentleman and I were preparing for our 10-day trip to Paris - both of our first time over seas.  As we were discussing our plans and things of importance we couldn't forget (i.e. passport, camera, cash, etc.) he subtly slips in "We need to pack light since we are going to be hopping around from place to place" with an added look of warning in my direction.  Um... me?  Pack light?  I'm sorry you must have me mistaken for someone else.  You see, I am was a member of over-packers anonymous - my packing technique went something like this: open closet, grab anything you see that you like to wear, shove in suitcase till seams are bulging, reconsider what has to come out to make room for toothbrush, close suitcase, lug stubbornly to airport.  But I know all too well what that look of warning from the Gentleman means ... hunker down, and make it work!

    Fast forward to packing day.  I'm staring at my open suitcase (by suitcase of course I mean tiniest possible carry-on you can imagine), then at my closet, sinking feeling in my stomach.   When suddenly it hit me like a sack of doorknobs - you are in fashion school dummy!  Just pretend you are putting together a mini-collection!  HELLO!!  In less than 30 min by little bag was zipped up with room to spare for on-the-trip purchases.  Since then, my packing life has never been the same.  I've come up with a fool-proof formula PLUS a free printable to guide you in keeping your bag light, and your vacation dressing stress-free!

    First things first, click HERE to download and print your FREE packing list printable!

    Next, fill out your sheet BEFORE even looking in your closet!!  Yes, you heard that right, and dont ignore me missy because this part is very important.  It's easier to keep things minimized by going off what pieces pop into your head from memory - as soon as you open that closet you will get distracted and want to throw all the prettiness you see in your bag.  Thats why its best to come up with a game plan first!  I usually do this step when I'm not even at the house.  



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