Archive for April, 2012

April 30, 2012

Wrap Up: Spring Wardrobe Challenge 2012

It’s the last day of April which means my Spring Wardrobe Challenge is over! I can hardly believe it. You can click on any of the above pictures to be taken to the original post for the garments.

I ended up completing six garments – two shy of the ultimate goal. March and April were crazy months for me so I pretty happy with what I accomplished. So how closely did I follow my plan?

  • Four Blouses – Success! – Although the concepts changed a little from the original sketches I completed four blouses, three of which are in full rotation!
  • One Skirt – Success! – I love my teal skirt!
  • One Pair of Pants – Success! – Alright, I bagged the plan to make Colette Pattern’s Clover when I couldn’t find a fabric that I liked. Instead, I made a pair of shorts from Colette and love them!
  • One Dress – Fail! – In the end, I just couldn’t focus my energy on one design.
  • Wild Card – Fail! – I set myself up by not having a concept to begin with. I kept waffling between another dress and a jacket and in the end didn’t get the work done.

One thing that I’m really happy with is my color palette. After I didn’t have much success finding yellows to mix in, I changed gears and added a lighter teal/mint color. All the clothes I made have mixed in really well with my existing closet and I don’t think you’ve seen the end of these colors – especially the red!

I’m finding that one of my greatest challenges is finding fabric. Once again, I take the easy way out and order online only to have the fabric not live up to expectations. I really, really need to stop ordering online when I have a specific project in mind. The drape and weight of a fabric are too important in the success of a garment and you can’t get a good idea of these qualities by reading a short description. Ordering swatches is a way around this but I have great fabric stores reasonably close that I should support if possible. I need to remember what good luck I had when I went fabric shopping this last time compared to the three online orders I placed.

So what’s next? My top priority is to focus on my school projects. Right now, I’m working on two dress designs. Having kind of neglected them during these past two months, I’m excited to get back to work and knock them out. Second, I want to do some fun projects that focus on techniques. You all know that I bought a new serger and I’m really wanting to master it. Despite this being my second serger, I’m amazed at how complex these machines are and how much of a learning curve there is with a new one! Thankfully, I bought it through a dealer and get free classes, otherwise I would be pretty frustrated. Strangely enough, an expensive machine won’t sew the garment for you!

I know I promised a maxi dress last Friday but I hit some design snags and didn’t complete it in time. You can expect a post tomorrow though! Happy Monday, everyone!

April 26, 2012

Join Me!

I’m blogging over at Madalynne today to discuss how to sew a wardrobe you’ll actually wear. Stop by and share your tips!

April 25, 2012

5. Fail


I finished my Banksia Blouse this week! It fits well and the sewing is darn near perfect. But…

It’s not going to get worn. In fact, I’m not even going to take pictures in it.

I knew this fabric was all wrong and I should of listened myself. It hangs like a burlap sack on and is terribly uncomfortable. Strangely, I’m not bothered by this. I had so much fun making it up and learning how to sew the button placket that wearing it would have been a mere bonus. So onward and upward!

April 20, 2012

Inspiration: Maxi Dresses

First off, thank you! This has been one hell of a week and all of your comments and compliments on my red shorts have really lifted my spirits. Our blogging/sewing community is amazing and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. I was completely beaten by some fabric this week and it had me wondering last night why I even bother to sew. I was in a dark place, let me tell you. We’ve all been there and I think that’s why it’s so nice when we can celebrate our successes together. So, thank you!

Despite my deepest desire to stay in bed this morning, I pulled myself together and went to class. Well, the universe needed me to prove that I wanted to be there! I had two delays on the light rail. The first one was caused by a very loud and very violent passenger who decided to start something with another person on the car. When the Muni security officer tried to escort the woman off the train she slapped him. So once we got back up and running not two stops later, our second delay came in the form of a power failure and we all wound up on the platform for 30 minutes while they cleared the tracks. An hour late, I finally made it to class! Thankfully, I didn’t turn around because I had such a great lesson. I finished my final draft for my spring wardrobe wildcard – a maxi dress! There was even some free jersey fabric and I started to sew up a trial run.

Last month, the lovely Ina from Sky Turtle emailed me about doing a project together. Somehow, in the midst of tossing around ideas, we both mentioned that we’d love to wear maxi dresses/skirts but don’t feel able because we’re short. I’m 5’1 so you can imagine how impossible it is to find a maxi dress that fits me in stores. However, I’ve always felt that a person can wear any style of clothing as long as the fit and proportions are right for their body. To test this, we both agreed to make a maxi dress or skirt and unveil the results on Friday the 27th. Until then, I wanted to show you what’s been inspiring my design.

                     Source: via Elizabeth on Pinterest


For my garment, I wanted something casual and effortlessly sexy. Right away I knew I was after a flared skirt in a knit fabric. It took about three drafts to finally settle on a where the flare should begin. My first draft had the flare start at the bust. Without much definition at the waist, this design swallowed me and I began to experiment with really body conscious bodices that flared at the waist.


With so much length, I knew that this wasn’t the time to be modest up top so I started drafting scoop necks with a slight razor back.

One of my biggest sources of inspiration has been Cirque Du Bebe‘s version of Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi. She looks so stunning and that print is to die for!

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my inspiration. Be sure to check over at Sky Turtle to see what Ina is going to be making!

April 18, 2012

4. Bougainvillea

Pattern: Iris from Colette Patterns

Fabric: Red wool twill from the remnants bin at Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics

Notions: Interfacing, invisible zipper, some scrap rayon for the pockets

Time to Complete:4 – 5 hours


I was pretty excited when I heard that Colette Patterns was releasing a shorts pattern for spring. I had it downloaded, printed, and assembled within hours of their announcement! Alright, so it doesn’t have a fly zipper but the shorts looked so cute on the model that I didn’t care. I’ll admit, when I first finished these I was a little underwhelmed. I don’t know what it was but they just didn’t thrill me. However, after wearing them for a day, I’m in love! They are so comfy but still flattering that I wouldn’t hesitate to make them again.

Once I had the pattern assembled, I went about choosing the size I would cut. In Colette world, I am a perfect size 10 below the waist (30 1/2″ waist and 40 1/2″ hip), however, the finished garment measurements were more important to me. The Iris shorts come with 1/2″ ease at the waist. I went to my closet and measured some of my favorite shorts with a higher rise and found that none of them cut it this close. Most had 1 1/2″ to 2″ of ease so I cut a size 12 (finished waist measurement was 32 1/2″). I was a little concerned that this would leave me with too much room in the hips but I figured that I could shave off some from this pair and then grade the pattern for later makes. In the end, this wasn’t necessary as the shorts fit almost perfectly!

Construction went so quickly! Over the course of a few days, I assembled these in small spurts. I figure it took me no more than 5 hours to cut and sew these shorts. I’m really happy with my sewing overall. I’ve struggled in the past to get a smooth waistband and this is probably the closest I’ve come. Everything will be perfect until I go to topstitch the facing down. When I finish the waistband warps and shifts and looks so terrible. There’s a little bit of wrinkling but nothing more than many of my RTW shorts. I think I may be finally gaining some finesse with fabric rather than torturing it!

I didn’t stray from the instructions too much on this project. However, I did try something new on the crotch seam. The instructions have you clip the curves before finishing the seam but, frankly, I’ve never seen a pair of RTW shorts with clipped seam allowances there. Once again, I went to my closet and pulled a pair of shorts out that have really lovely construction. I studied the way these were made and did the following:

  • I trimmed the seam allowance to 3/8″
  • Serged
  • Understitched to one side of the pants.

This worked perfectly! Sure, you can see a small row of stitching on the right side if you’re looking closely but it’s actually rather nice looking. The best thing is, the seam is perfect and there are no wrinkles around the curve. Now the seam is beautiful and stronger!

I also tried out a coverstitch for my hem. You heard me right – coverstitch. No, my little Singer serger doesn’t have the capability but my brand new serger does! I’ve been in the market for a new serger for a while now and I finally took the plunge this week. I’ll tell you more about it in a separate post but it’s been a game changer. I have seams on these shorts finished with my old one as well as the new and it is night and day. I’m left to wonder how it took me so long (alright, so not that long) to upgrade.

I know several of you are making these shorts right now. How’s your progress going?

April 11, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Seam Allowance Guide Givewaway! Congratulations to Sarah (comment #18), Ginger (comment #4), and Helen (comment #14). I’ll contact you for your shipping information and get these out right away.

April 10, 2012

My Bodice Sloper

I really enjoyed reading the comments from my post on my skirt sloper and I thought it would be fun to post about the other slopers I’ve made. This is my bodice sloper drafted to the low hip.

This is the front of my bodice sloper. The sloper is notched at the high hip, waist, bust, armhole, and cross front. I’ve marked the four darts (shoulder, armhole, bust, and waist) and their apices (the high and low figure point). I can choose which figure point to use as the pivotal point when manipulating the darts. You’ll notice a (faint) circle around the dart apices. This represents my bust and is used when drafting necklines. If a lowered neckline meets or goes beyond the top of this circle, I can add a neckline dart to prevent gaping.

You’ll notice that at the waist there is 1/2″ shaping which extends to the waist dart and then tapered to zero at the side. This can be taken out at the neck and shoulder during the drafting process, with princess seams, or with a seam at the waistline.

On all my slopers, I’ve written in the key measurements used for reference while drafting. For my bodice slopers, I’ve also included a neckline chart which helps me to draft wide necklines that don’t gape at the center front.

The back sloper has a shoulder dart, waist dart, and waist shaping like the front. In addition, it also includes awl punches for optional back contouring. The back contouring is taken at the waist and then tapered to the high hip and the cross back. This contouring helps to accommodate the natural curve along the spine. If I choose to take this out, I need to adjust the waist dart so that the waist measurement remains the same.

That’s my bodice sloper! Do you use a bodice sloper? I love seeing and reading about different drafting approaches and would love to hear how your sloper differs. I’ll post next week about the bodice sloper I drafted recently for knits – I’m using it for a surprise project that I can’t wait to reveal.

Remember, the Seam Allowance Guide giveaway ends tonight! See the post for a chance to win this handy device. Winners will be announced tomorrow morning!

April 7, 2012

Closed:: Giveaway: Seam Allowance Guide ::Closed

The lovely Hollie, inventor of the Seam Allowance Guide, has offered to giveaway SAGs to three lucky readers!

Curious to find out more about this product? Check out my review from earlier this week. The Seam Allowance Guide is a must for those who hate having to add seam allowances to your sewing patterns. I’ve also started using my guides to help me evenly trim seam allowances during sewing.

To enter to win, comment on this post and tell me your favorite sewing pattern without seam allowances. Make sure that you’ve included an email address in your profile. One entry per person. Open internationally. The giveaway will close on Tuesday, April 9th at midnight (pacific time) when the winners will be randomly selected. I’ll announce the winners on Wednesday!

The giveaway is now closed! See the winners here!

April 5, 2012

Upcoming Projects

I’ve been busy with some school projects so I haven’t been working on my spring wardrobe projects this week. That isn’t to say I haven’t been thinking about them.

Up Next:

  • Banksia Blouse – I was pretty frustrated after making two muslins for this blouse. I’ve since come around and I’m ready to tackle it again. I think my first step is to go up a size and to drop the bust dart 1 1/2″ and see where that leads me. I’m using a reddish version of this Valori Wells linen blend which is a little heavier than I would like for a blouse. If nothing else it will work for a great wearable muslin (besides, I picked it up at a steal).
  • Shorts – I’ve finally given in and accepted that I’m not going to find a sunny yellow stretch twill for my spring pants. Instead, I found some lovely red twill (not stretch) in the remnant bin at Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics (where I also found that lovely silk charmeuse) that I have slated for shorts. I’ve made up a muslin from Burda but the instructions are so lacking that I might save this pattern for when I have more experience. Luckily, Colette just announced that their next line up will have a pair of shorts in it! I’m hoping that the shorts have a fly zipper because I would love the help from their super clear instructions.
  • Dress – I think this aforementioned trip to Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics was the most successful in store shopping I’ve ever had. In the sale section was this gorgeous silk cotton for 1/2 off ($6 a yard!!!) I bought up the remainder (3 yards) and have replaced the rayon challis that I purchased online. The print looks like paint splatters in a pastel version of my palette. I am so in love. I start working on my final dress project at school this week and this dress will be part of that.

I’m hoping to work a little more breathing room in to my schedule so that I can catch up on all of my favorite blogs. I swear to you that my reader has something like 500 unread posts. I’m ashamed but most of all I just miss you all! In the meantime, tell me about your favorite project from March!

April 3, 2012

Review: Seam Allowance Guide

Truth be told, I’m not a gadget person. When I was in culinary school, I had a lovely chef who would always tells us, “if you don’t have it, you don’t need it.” I’ve carried this bit of wisdom throughout my life. It’s amazing how little you really need and what you can do without.  Having said that, I’m not against looking for tools that will aid me. For my school projects, I am constantly adding seam allowances to my working patterns and it can get pretty tiresome. So when Hollie contacted me to review her seam allowance guide, I was pretty jazzed about the idea of a small gadget that could streamline this process. A week later, a package arrived with Hollie’s invention. This product was given to me for free but I want to be clear that it won’t color my review.

For $15 AUS you get two guides, a little instruction card and free international shipping. The guides are about an inch and half long and the circumference of a crayon. They feel really sturdy and have a strong magnet. The guides are different from one another, although you can’t tell straightaway. The yellow guide is for blades with a slope and the green is for blades that are straight (it would be perfect for a rotary cutter. I must emphasize that the yellow only works with blades with a gentle slope. Unfortunately my favorite scissors have a very steep slope and the yellow guide will never lie parallel to the table. See how it tilts down?

So my only option with my Kai’s is to position the green guide way back at the pivot. This is fine for long, straight seams but wouldn’t work for curves like a neckline.

In order to get the most use from the seam allowance guide, I need to switch to my backup scissors. This pair has a gentler slope and you just stick the guide on the blade and twist until it’s flush with the table. Once on, you just follow a few easy steps to align the black band to your desired seam allowance and cut away! I’d recommend watching Hollie’s video the first time as it helps to clarify the process. Something to keep in mind (this may be a deal breaker for some of you), is that you must cut in one direction – clockwise for you right handers and counterclockwise for the lefties. If you don’t have a table that you can easily walk around, this may cause some problems.

Sadly, I don’t see myself pulling out the seam allowance guide for its traditional use because of my scissors. My backups are from Mundial and are beasts! More than a few minutes cutting with these and my wrists begin to ache. Since I overuse my wrists at my day job, I try to be careful the rest of the time so that I don’t end up with serious problems later on.

Having said that, these little guides are useful in other ways! I find that the more uses I have for a tool, the more likely I am to keep it around. Something that I absolutely abhor is trimming seams. I can never maintain a consistent trim and I’ve started to use these guides during this process. It took a little dexterity but once I got the hang of it, I was really pleased with the result.

I’ve also been experimenting with adding it to pencils and other marking devices. So far, I haven’t found anything that has enough magnetic pull but I’m sure it’s out there. Do you have these seam allowance guides? If so, have you come up with any alternative uses?

If you’d like to pick up your own pair, you can order directly from Hollie at!