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.  


Thursday, July 10

#LadyMSews || WHiT - Inspired Burda Jumper

    Hey gang!  I'm finally getting back to my regularly scheduled programing after weeks of getting settled and unpacking from our big move.  Been dying to share this project as I think it might be one of my new favorite things (bare with my back-logged posts set in NY!)  The second I saw this pattern on burdastyle I knew I had to make it.  I had been dying over this jumper from WHiT's Fall 2013 Collection, and jumpers have kind of been everywhere lately, so it only seemed obvious I had to add one to my wardrobe.  I think its funny & neat how burda ties inspiration from the current runways into their pattern collections, I've caught it a couple times and those are always the collections I like best.  

Right: Burda A-line Jumper, Left: WHiT Fall 2013
    There are so many things I love about this piece.  I am a sucker for pockets, and in-seam ones are just extra spectacular.  I also love the retro-mod feel to it, and it's versatility.

    There are several adjustments I made to the original pattern.  Most notably, the pattern was made for a knit, so I had to add a center back zipper to get in and out of it.  I also added a leather zipper placket detail (another cute little touch I picked up from WHiT) using scrap leather I had in my stash, which I also echoed at the front pockets.  Aside from adding a center back zip, I also ended up taking the dress in about 3/4" off the hip and 1 1/2" off the hem sweep.  I should have noticed this before I sewed the lining in (or I should of made a muslin but I'm too impatient for that) but for whatever reason I didn't.  Then when I tried it one I sort of felt like I was swimming inside of a bell.  Taking it in really cleaned up the lines and made it look less like the dress was wearing me, and more the other way around.


    I already mentioned how versatile this little jumper is.. but lets chat about it even more because who doesn't love versatility in their wardrobe?  I love how I can throw it over a tshirt with sneakers to be super casual, a button down and booties for work, or nothing underneath with heals for a night out.  (NOTE: this is where my - ahem - minimalist bosom comes in handy).

    Lets talk about the details - another thing I love about this project is that aside from the zipper, every bit of it came out of my stash.  I just love stash-busting projects dont you?  During the packing and moving I got a rude awakening as to how out of control my fabric collection has become, and am now challenging myself to sew through at least half of it before I buy more -eep!  I used a wool gaberdine for the body which I had left over from a school project.  The only thing I dislike about this fabric is that its sort of a lint magnet.  The leather is cut up from an old jacket I was saving just to strip and salvage.  And the lining is a poly lining also leftover from a school project (same as the black).  

    The whole dress is clean finished with the lining.  I think the red is a nice little surprise on the inside, and a little special when it peeks out from the armhole and neckline.

    For some reason I have these little spots of tension around the hip seam in the front (seen above) and the back (seen below).  I was hoping it would iron out but had no success and gave up when my fabric started to shine.  Its not very noticeable when its on.  My only other imperfection is the leather zipper placket is not completely even on both sides, again not too noticeable unless I point it out, and being leather I didn't want to rip and re-do it to avoid the holes showing (plus I had stupidly already glued the seams open once I noticed it).

    I am pretty pleased with the overall turn out, and seem to get a lot of compliments when I wear it.  I think I may be obsessed with jumpers - I mean, they are like the overalls of dresses, how could one not be obsessed with them?

    Happy sewing!

Thursday, June 19


    That's right folks!  My radio silence as of late has been due to the fact that the Gentleman and I have made the adventurous and quite possibly crazy decision to uproot and move from bustling New York City to the sleepy middle-of-nowhere town of Nixon, Tx (population 2200 to be exact).  After several months of considering how the fast-paced life was overwhelming us and feeling like we were ready for some country living, an opportunity to buy a BBQ restaurant in Tx about 2 hours from my home-town sort of just fell into our laps.  We weighed the pros and cons, said goodbye to our beloved NYC and went for it!

--- Just so the restaurant thing doesn't sound completely random to y'all, I must note that the Gentleman is a chef and we met when he hired me as a waitress at his BBQ restaurant in NY.  ---

    There will be more details and our full story coming up soon on our brand spankin new website and blog which I will share with y'all when the time comes!  If you are interested in seeing a few sneak peeks, you can follow @honeyandswine on instagram!  And not to worry - My sewing and crafty home here at LadyMockingbird is here to stay and as soon as we get settled (and I set up my new sewing space-eek!) I'll be back to my regularly scheduled program of DIY goodness!!  In fact, I have a lot of remodeling plans in store for the blog which I can't wait to get cracking on - which may even include some DIY's for the home, seeing as we have a real one now!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 17

#BookReview: The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine

The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One
The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just finished reading this great book by Margaret Lobenstine and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is perfect for those of us who have one million interests and counting. Often times I can feel frustrated and overwhelmed by all of the different things I want to try or learn or do. Margaret really helps you to hone in on all of those interests, and approach them in a more organized way, so you don't feel like your missing out on one thing while you are working on another. While the title is terribly cheesy (sorry Margaret), I found most of the book and it's exercises to be quite relevant and helpful. I've already implemented several of them into my life. If you are like me, and want to be a pattern maker/teacher/tailor/lounge singer/fill-in-the-blank (this is why I prefer the term "slasher" over "renaissance soul" that and it sounds way cooler) and don't really know how to handle yourself or where to start - this book could get you on the right track.

View all my reviews


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