Friday, August 22, 2014

Plantain Two Ways + Tribute Sewing

Whoa-ho. Not only is this my first post in months (eeep), but it's my first time participating in a Sewcialist theme month. I figured if I'm going to rise from my (blog-y) grave I might as well do it with something good, right? In my lack-of-posting defense, I did just move to NYC and I am still in the oh-so-delightful process of desperately trying to secure a place to live that isn't the size of a shoebox- there simply hasn't been time to sew or blog, and that's a damned shame. Technically there still isn't as I am still desperately running around Manhattan and Brooklyn begging people to like me enough to let me spend money to live with them (renting a room is weird, guys), but hey, I decided it was time for a break.

Anyway, I have two makes to share in this post, both the same pattern put to very different effect. First up is chronologically first and not my tribute thingamabob, but as it utilizes this tutorial by Anna of Paunnet you could still argue that it's a tribute piece. Yes indeed- it's a Plantain babydoll dress!

More detailed pictures to come, I swear, but these are the sanest full-length shots I have. I made my sister's day by asking her to take photos of me in two dresses when we went to a local (Virginia) botanical garden, hence the legit photos and equally legit scenery. I haven't blogged about it but I've made the Deer and Doe Plantain Tee five times now, and I don't think I'm stopping any time soon. The neckline and fit just work beautifully on me, and I feel so comfortable and cute wearing it whether it's in dress form or a top- I definitely need to get some of their other patterns soon!

Let's ignore the somewhat derp expression (in my defense I'm standing in a tree...) I'm making and my admission sticker and focus on the fabric and finishings here, shall we? This is a really nice knit from Wanderlust Fabric, my new go-to for knits- I love almost everything they sell. This cute birds-on-denim-blue fabric is out of stock now, unfortunately, but it was a breeze to work with. You may be noticing that this Plantain dress does not have even the shortest of sleeves- I didn't add any sleeves whatsoever to make this a perfect go-to summer dress (that can very easily be cozied up for fall). I finished the arms the same way you finish the neck, which I think gives it a very cohesive look- I'm actually really proud of my bands!

It's also the perfect dress to pretend to have magical tea parties in, but let's be real, that's ANY dress because pretending to have magical tea parties is awesome.
I've already worn this dress a slew of times, both in Virginia and in NYC, and it's already passed the NYC test- an employee at the NBC Experience store complimented me on it!

Now we come to the tribute-y portion. I've a fan of many sewing bloggers floating about the interwebs, but there's one in particular who's encouraged me to really think about why I sew, what kind of clothes I actually like to wear, and, more importantly than that, suck it up and join in the online sewing community. When I saw that the theme for August was making something inspired by someone else, I automatically knew both what I wanted to make and who had inspired me to make it, because I was already planning on making something inspired by this person!

That's a jacket in my hand, for the record, not a cute lace insert- although now I want to try that!

This is once again a Plantain dress, although I didn't follow a pattern hack for this one- I just extended the hem aaaalll the way to the ground. I determined length via the highly scientific method of lying down on my fabric and having my sister put a pin where my ankle fell, because I couldn't be bothered to deal with measuring tape. It's probably a tad long as a result, but eh, I had no problem walking in it. Again I neglected to add sleeves, but I finished both arm and neck in a different manner than before; rather than use bindings, I used the new-to-me technique of French bindings, a la this tutorial from 110 Creations. I really wanted a clean finish to make this dress slightly less casual, and this binding technique definitely pulled that off! The fabric is also from Wanderlust Fabrics and this one is still in stock, and it just feels so nice against the skin- perfect for a summer dress.

Told you it was a jacket. Also don't worry about why I look so alarmed here; I was tired and it was early, hence skittish reactions to cameras.
Can you guess who I was inspired by? Here's a list of things I associate with my honoree:

  • Knit fabric
  • A tried-and-true (for me) pattern
  • Maxi-length dress
  • Florals
  • Unintentional, but in hindsight perfect: the garden these photos were taken is was the Japanese one!
If you guessed Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, you'd be 100% correct! I feel like she's a popular choice for tribute month and it's really not hard to see why- she's such a positive, helpful presence, and her sense of style is both really wearable and really cute! I wanted my contribution to both honor her while also being something I'd wear, challenge or no, and I definitely think I achieved that here. 

So, that's that! Hopefully it won't be another multi-month break before I post something. My sewing machine is still states away until I find an apartment (have I mentioned yet that I'm apartment hunting? Any Sewcialists in NYC looking to rent a room/get a new roommate? I swear I'm nice!), but now that I'm in NYC I don't really think I have an excuse not to sew. I'm looking forward to becoming more active in the sewing community, maybe both on and offline, who knows!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The ACTUAL Grad School Wardrobe Plan

I want you to ignore basically everything I said in that last post, excluding the Zinnia skirt (and the Plantains of course). Turns out, I don't really have the funds to buy new non-PDF patterns and get new fabric, so instead I am falling back on the old pattern stash. Someday I shall get those stunning Deer and Doe patterns, and I only wish I were joining in on the Centauree Sew Along, but that day is not this day.

Anywho, I've got a revised plan of attack, this time with nifty (and by nifty I mean "thrown together in Microsoft Paint haphazardly) fabric + line drawing visuals! These will supplement my stock of jeans that I live in on a day to day basis, for the record- I'm still too intimidated by pants to tackle making my own skinny jeans.

1) Colette Zinnia

I've already got this lovely thing cut out, but I can't finish sewing her up until I get a new invisible zipper foot- seems I lost mine in the move between dorm and home. I have so many RTW tops that'll go swimmingly with this as olive green is one of my go-to colors, it'll make for a great comfortable staple skirt. (To be specific I'm making view 3, as the eyelet is ever so slightly sheer- I'm lining it with some nice pale green material.)

2) Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan

(Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan - Girl Charlee Fabric)

I mentioned green was one of my colors, right? Ever since I made my boyfriend an (unblogged) Newcastle Cardigan I've been scheming up a version of my own. I probably won't modify it to be more fitted- I like the boyfriend cardigan look, it makes it so nice and cozy. I picked out a french terry for the body of the cardigan itself, with a nice slub knit for the yoke details as I like a bit of contrast.

3) Dixie DIY Summer Concert Tee

(Dixie DIY Summer Concert Tee - Girl Charlee Fabric)

When I got the first Perfect Pattern Parcel, I knew I wanted to make one of these cute tops. I love the hem and the cuff detail- I'm not sure if I'll use contrast fabric for the cuffs yet or not, though. I also fell in love with this dreamy pastel feather print knit from Girl Charlee and figured the two would pair quite nicely togehter.

4) Colette Mabel Skirt

(Colette Mabel Skirt - Girl Charlee Fabric)

So remember how in my last post I said I was still distrustful of the Mabel? I apparently forgot about that and decided to buy the Mabel pattern instead of the Moneta, rationalizing that I already had a knit dress pattern I hadn't utilized yet but needed a good staple skirt pattern. Go figure, man. I'm not certain the knit I have in mind for this skirt will actually work- it might not be heavy weight enough. But I really have my heart set on a blue skirt to wear with my incoming Sailor Mercury shirt, so I might chance it even if the fabric isn't ideal! Risky sewing up in here, friends. I'm a madwoman.

5) By Hand London Polly Top + Tilly and the Buttons Margot PJ Pants

(By Hand London Polly Top - Michael Miller Fabric)

I saw these (and the following) Michael Miller prints on sale and couldn't resist. I was immediately overcome with the desire to make an adorable pair of woodsy, fox-covered pjs with these two; the bottom fabric is even a flannel, so it'll be nice and cozy for cold NYC winters. I like sleeping in tank tops all the time, though, so figured I'd give the Polly a whirl to go with it. I don't have Tilly's book yet, actually, but I intend to soon enough- my boyfriend is going to England to visit his relatives and I'm convincing him to buy it for me while he's over there so I sneak around international shipping fees! The patterns in Love At First Stitch look amazing- I especially adore that blouse! 

6) McCalls 6924 Dress

(McCalls 6924 Dress - Michael Miller Fabric)

A keyhole back dress for a lock and key print fabric, geddit? Oh, god, who lets me write things. Anyway, I actually have a major weakness for key motifs and fell in love with the idea of a cute little dress made from this fabric- the keyhole back is just an added groan-inducing benefit. I think this is me trying to assuage my sadness at not having the Belladone Dress pattern, as I picked this pattern up on a whim during a 5 for $5 sale. I'll likely use black piping for the sleeves and neckline, as I suspect any paler color'd just get lost- the black'll be a nice, bold contrast while still matching due to the darker keys.

7) Self-Drafted Hidden Rainbow Skirt

(Michael Miller Fabric)

I saw a really clever use of striped fabric and pleating utilized on a dress in Dillards the other day, and let me tell you, the technique has stuck with me and has been rattling around in my head ever since. I do a lot of pleating for cosplays (all. those. pleated. miniskirts.), so it's something I feel quite comfortable with, and I just think it makes for such interesting effects in skirts. What I plan to do here is pleat the fabric so that only the white portions of the fabric show, but when I move (or twirl, there will be twirling) the rainbow stripes pleated under get to shine brightly through. Does that make sense as an explanation? W/e, hopefully the intent will show through once I actually make the darn thing. This is less of a closet staple piece and more of a "I really, really, REALLY want to test this idea out to see if it even works" sort of thing- but hey, a hidden rainbow skirt could be hella fun!

And that, my friends, is that! All the fabric referenced here is either already here or en route to me, so as soon as it gets in I can get to work. I also plan on making a Brigitte scarf out of some leftovers from the ridiculous space print pants I made my friend Rachel, although that won't really go with any of these projects- I seem to have fallen for subdued blues and greens, haven't I? Well, that's not really anything new, especially as those colors really suit a blue-eyed redhead such as myself.

Oh, I'll also be making up a third Cooper bag, to be my carry-all-in-the-city schoolbag, but I haven't quite settled on the fabric for that one yet. I've got time- I know I can make up that pattern in a day or two, so no rush!

Promise, next I post there will be actually sewing to blog about! What a wonderful day that will be, eh?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Planning a Grad School Wardrobe

Weird as it is to say, I'm in my last finals period of undergrad, ever. Only three exams and two "quality papers" stand between me and graduation from the College of William and Mary with a major in history and a minor in physics (oh, and a voice jury, I suppose, but as a non-major all I need to do for that is show up and at least pretend to know my lyrics, so no worries there). I imagine here's where I would be panicking about my future* if I didn't already have the next step lined up- I've accepted a spot in NYU's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program, which means a move to NYC and a lot of science journalism in my future, which is precisely what I want to do. 

It also means that I feel compelled to reevaluate my wardrobe and start filling in some gaps. My undergrad "uniform", as it were, has been graphic tees and jeans, and while that's great for relaxing and for informal settings, I don't think it's going to cut it for a grad program full of interviewing people, internships, and networking. It's also just not what I want to wear anymore, being perfectly honest. I like the comfort of skirts and the laid-back elegance of lacy, loose-fitting button up blouses over camisoles, things that are elegant yet cute with a dash of sophisticated geekiness. (... I've been following along with the Colette Wardrobe Architect series, can you tell?)

I also, y'know, like making my own clothes now, which I didn't do when I was working on an undergrad wardrobe. That changes things just a bit.

So, here's what my plan is: I have a full summer before I jot off to NYC, and during this summer I hope to accomplish the following:
  • Obtain a part-time/seasonal job so I can save up funds for my big move
  • Find an apartment in NYC that I can reasonably afford (probably looking at you, Brooklyn, unless I really luck out and can rent my cousin's Upper East Side apartment from my great aunt for a steal)
  • Work on sewing up a professional yet quirky grad school wardrobe
And what's a good plan without a list of key patterns? My focus will be on skirts and dresses, along with shorts for more casual days (mainly because I adore the Deer and Doe Chataigne Shorts too much to resist and love shorts with tights). With that in mind, I think these are the patterns I'm going to be honing in on. Starred ones are ones are ones I still need to buy, but I'll have some graduation money coming my way, a small part of which can be allocated to buying patterns and fabric (the rest is going straight into the "oh god I need to be able to afford NYC living help" fund).

My patterns are thus:
  • Colette Zinnia (definitely at least one belt-looped, non-button-down one and a sheer lined floaty one)
  • Victory Patterns Ava (a knee-length dress version and a blouse)
  • Deer and Doe Plantain (Lightweight, short-sleeve ones for summer, longsleeved ones for winter, I just need an army of these and I say that having already made three.)
  • Colette Sobretto (it's a good, versatile pattern for simple dresses, and I love this tutorial for adding sleeves to it)
  • Deer and Doe Anemone Skirt*
  • Deer and Doe Chataigne Shorts*
  • Colette Moneta* (I'm a sucker for the different necklines. Still not sold on the Mabel yet, but the Curvy Colette blog tour is making me less leery)
  • Sewaholic Gabriola Skirt*
I already have the fabric for a few of these projects (mainly the Zinnia skirts- yup, both of 'em -the Ava top, and one pair of the Chataigne shorts) and have a few fabric options in mind for the rest. Lots of greens, blues, browns, and grays- those are my standard colors anyway. Some purple and metallics might sneak their way in, too, as accents for design interest. I do need to find a good cardigan pattern, either draped or button-up, because I love wearing those, but they're less of a priority right now as I have an army of RTW ones already.

So, mildly ambitious, yes, but it should be fun and it'll help keep me occupied during my last "free" summer, as it were! Anyone else have big summer sewing plans/big life milestones going on this year? Also, man, someone needs to hold me the first time I poke around the NYC fabric shops, it'll be overwhelming.

*Let's be clear, I'm still panicking a little, but more about finances and where on earth I'm going to live and less about, y'know, what I'm going to do. I have that at least figured out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Indie Bundling and Fox Tops

I play my fair share of video games, and one of my favorite ways to get great indie games is the Humble Indie Bundle, as it gets me games at a good price while also helping really worthwhile charities. It sometimes means I end up having a huge roster of games I will never play (I am not masochistic enough for Super Meat Boy), but it's also enabled me to get beautiful games like Bastion and Braid, and it's let me stumble on games I might not have otherwise sought out for myself simply because they were included in the deal.

Many of you can probably guess where this is going: how goddamn ecstatic I am that this sort of thing has spread to the sewing world. When Dixie blogged about the Perfect Pattern Parcels I let out a shrill little squeal of glee (I think I was on the train at the time so that was kind of embarrassing but worth it) and, well, instantaneously bought it. Just like with the indie game bundles I didn't really want everything in the bundle- I mainly wanted the Summer Concert Tee and the Ava Dress (which I have been LUSTING after for a good long while), had a glancing interest in the Lady Skater as a good simple staple dress, knew my sister'd like the Accordion Bag and honestly had no desire at all for the Dandelion (although it is beginning to grow on me, don't fret- it's just not something I'd have bought on its own!).  But. I am 100% here for supporting indie designers whenever I can, and I am 200% here for childhood education. It was a no brainer; I had to be part of this. And hey, now I have five new patterns to play with, although I think I'll gift the bag pattern to my sister as she'll get more use out of it (she's a quilter, she has a lot more fabric scraps laying about).

Anywho, sewing! I made probably the "trendiest" thing I ever will today: a fox-print peplum tank top.

No one here is a good photographer and there is no good lighting. I'm sorry. We tried.
I'm not 100% satisfied with this just yet, as the fit isn't at all right. This was that McCall's pattern I posted about, and it's honestly okay, it just needs tweaking. For one, I had to cut two inches off the shoulder straps- they were WAY too long, Secondly, it fits a bit large all over- maybe I should've cut a small instead of a medium? I'm going to wash it and dry it to see if that bit of shrinkage'll fix it up, but if it doesn't I'll have to get creative. Don't get me wrong, it's entirely wearable as-is, but I would like it to be properly fitted, not kind of... baggy. You'll notice I threw a cardigan on over it, and that's because it pooches out at the bust. Maybe it should've had bust darts as well as the... front... middle... darts... I need to brush up on my terminology.

Girl Charlee fabric haul!
The fabric itself is a really stable knit (like it feels more like cotton) from Girl Charlee. It's not very soft nor is it very stretchy, but goddamn, I can't say no to the foxes and the cheerful bright blue. Again, hopefully washing'll fix some of these issues. I was hella impatient and didn't prewash (I know, I know, bad me!), so there's hope yet! I'll be prewashing the peacock blue and owl print knits in when I do this load of laundry so I don't repeat my mistakes (I prewashed the knits for both my completed Plantains, rest assured).

... and yes, I'm making another Plantain with the peacock jersey. The owl print jersey there'll be my elbow patches and a patch pocket. Don't judge me. It's become a tried-and-true already and I am totally okay with that.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sure is dusty in here but I CAN'T STOP SEWING THESE PLANTAINS.

(Note: I'm gonna go back through and add photos to this when able, I haven't gotten the chance to take good photos yet but I just really want to post something.)

Has it really almost been a month? Two months? Am I that kind of blogger? Turns out I darn well might be, but that doesn't mean I haven't been sewing. I've actually been sewing a lot, between cosplays and discovering my almighty, burning love of Deer & Doe's free pattern, the Plantain.

I know, I know, I missed the contest! Which is a darn shame, as I've got my eye on basically all of Deer & Doe's patterns (but most particularly those cute as hell Chataigne shorts and the super wearable Sureau dress, those might be coming home soon), but I doubt either of my makes would've been in contention. I've already made it up twice and have every intention of getting more fabric to make a lengthened dress version (just lengthening it, not making it a cute empire-waisted sort of thing like the tutorial they made is for- although that is cute!) and another t-shirt one... and this time I'll finally actually sew elbow patches on! Adorable fox elbow patches, no less. Despite my love for elbow patch everything, I shockingly have yet to actually use the elbow patch parts of the pattern.

I did do a bit of experimentation, though! Inspired by the lovely Newcastle Cardigan I made my boyfriend (which I still need to blog, dammit me, and which will soon be joined by another- making one for myself, aw yes oversized boyfriend cardigan), I decided to try making a shoulder and back yoke for the Plantain- a kind of color-blocking effect, I guess? It makes the top and sleeves sparkly purple while the rest is more toned down gray is what I'm getting at. Would you believe that both the purple and the gray are the same fabric, just different sides of it? When I first got it the fabric felt a little stiff, but after prewashing it it became so soft and drapey, it's just lovely. I think it was a bit too lightweight for this particular pattern (oh, how that neckband gave me grief), but I struggled through and I'm pleased enough with the result.

That was actually the second one I made, though, and I gotta say, the first one gets a lot more wear even though it's far simpler. Simple is good, though- it's in a lovely olive green, which is one of my staple colors, and it just flatters me so well. It's comfy as hell, instantly makes me feel 20% more put together than if I threw on a regular t-shirt, and it smells so damn nice since I prewashed it with my long-lasting clean scent... scent... beads. In fewer words, this is the perfect combo of comfort and style for me.

I fear that I've unleashed the knit monster, and it wants more. I can't stop eyeing Tilly's Coco pattern- that slashed neckline dress calls to me, with cuffed sleeves, perhaps, and a nice black and green stripe... I also picked up a knit top/dress McCalls pattern as Joann's had McCalls patterns on the 5 for $7 sale and that's when I buy everything, if it's gonna be a non-indie brand (Big Four? I'm trying to pick up the lingo here!) pattern. I also got: a dress (with pockets!) pattern that will be fantastic for colorblocking or mixing patterns a solids, plus it's such a sleek styling- love it; a back cutout dress pattern that I think drew me in due to it being vaguely Belladone-esque (still going to get the Belladone, though, this version doesn't have pockets, which is a crime); a shirt dress/blouse pattern with an optional high-low hem, my absolutely favorite kind of hem, no shame whatsoever; aaand then the oddball pattern, a Civil War uniform pattern than I'm going to use to make Zach a Zeon uniform.

Flirty dresses, comfortable tops and cosplays, basically all I ever want to sew and wear.
Now that I'm through Katsucon, I get to sew for myself again! I'm thinking of breaking into the Zinnia pattern, as I have some wonderful olive polka dot eyelet that's begging to be made into the lined version. I got some material to make the sleeved version of the McCalls top pattern I just got, and am waiting on material for another Plantain because I have a problem people. I also have some silk tweed that I've no clue what to do with, but oh I wanna do something. Maybe a jacket? What's an appropriate application for silk tweed?! How did I end up with this fabric that I don't even know what to do with?!

Also, any favorite cardigan patterns? I live in cardigans 90% of the time, and if I can make my own with knits so much the better. I'm eyeing the Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan, or maybe a waterfall cardigan I can wrap into different styles of top (I had a pattern for that in my tabs but then my browser crashed and I lost it, uhg.)

Final bit of exciting news... I might end up in NYC next academic year? I'm deciding between two grad programs, one in Washington, D.C. and the other at NYU. Whatever I choose it'll be a big difference from my undergrad experience in a small tourist destination!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some Wordy Top Five Lists

I've really been enjoying reading the Top Five lists organized by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, because I think it's so satisfying and fun to look back on the things people have accomplished in a year's time. As much as I'd love to participate in full, I genuinely don't think I have enough to fill out most of the lists! I've really only made five things this year (The Other Williamsburg skirt, my two Coopers, the Stress-Sewing T-Shirt dress and my as-of-yet unblogged Newcastle Cardigan), and they've all been crammed into the last two or so months at that. Not quite enough for a Top 5 Hits and/or Misses, unless I have all the things I've made serve as both!

What I can do, however, is all the more introspective or forward-thinking questions. It can serve as a boost for me, especially as a beginning sewer (is sewist the term? It feels strange to say, but I imagine that'll change) and blogger. Plus, I'm a sucker for lists. So, here we go, slammed into one massive (and text-heavy) post!

Top 5 Reflections/Things I've Learned:

  1. The sewing machine is not an object to be feared, but if you need to get yourself a cutesy, completely non-intimidating beginner's model to convince yourself of that that is a-okay. I've always had an interest in making my own garments (it started with a desire to take up cosplay), but I was terrified of my nana's and my mother's sewing machines and self-aware enough to know that handsewing was not my thing. It was even worse when I tried to use my friend's gray storm cloud of an industrial-strength one last year while working on cosplays (it didn't help that the buttonhole feature of it totally destroyed my blouse- and that was with her trying to do them for me!). It wasn't until I bought myself my cutesy little mint green Janome Hello Kitty machine that I actually felt comfortable with a sewing machine, and that has made ALL the difference.
    I love you, little buddy. Guest starting my BJD, Thomasina, who will eventually show up on this blog as I venture into RIDICULOUSLY SMALL SEWING.
  2. Letting myself embrace the fact that I had no idea what I was doing made it possible for me to actually learn. I know that probably sounds hella weird, but it's true! I have this problem in all areas of my life: I'm so afraid of coming across as uninformed or stupid that I lie to myself and to others that I know a lot more than I do. That's a ridiculous way to be! Going into a hobby where I really had to study and embrace the fact that I knew nothing (Jon Snow) is helping me attain the confidence to, well, not know things and to respond to that lack of knowledge not with embarrassment but with excitement.
  3. Wearing things I've made is really satisfying! I wore my Stress-Sewing t-shirt dress to both a luncheon honoring an alum of my college and to my voice jury and I felt completely comfortable in it. I thought I'd be self-conscious, but since it's considering impolite to flip someone's skirt to see how they finished their seams or inspect a worn garment to see if the thread matches just so, I knew only I knew about the flaws of what I was wearing.
  4. If wearing things I've made is satisfying, giving things I've made to others is even more satisfying. Best sewing-related thing of the year was definitely making my sister the Winnie the Cooper. The Newcastle Cardigan for my boyfriend would've edged that out if I'd made it a bit neater, as he adored it (and so did his parents, something I did not expect- his Army dad actually complimented me on the workmanship of it and his British mom couldn't stop complimenting the fabric choices). Can't wait to steal that back from him tomorrow to fix it up a bit.
  5. It may be a silly reflection, but as this is my first year (well, half a year or so) sewing it's an important one: I really, genuinely do love sewing!
Top 5 Inspirations:
  1. My cosplay group at college and my cosplay friends online. If it hadn't been for the group's tutelage last year and the motivation to make costumes to go along with my friends when I met them at conventions, I never would've built up the determination to get into sewing.
  2. Tilly and the Buttons. It was reading her "Learn to Sew" posts that really made me feel like this was something I could do, as I actually understood things, both from what I'd learned with the cosplay group and just from how she was writing it. Looking forward to her book!
  3. Independent pattern companies. Seeing the incredible stuff made by companies like Colette, Deer & Doe, and Victory Patterns has shown me that I can have the wardrobe of my dreams. My fashion style is a weird mesh of feminine, flowing and effortless with futuristic, bold and androgynous, and that's kind of a hard thing to pull off using storebought clothing; by utilizing patterns from these amazing companies and using cohesive color palettes, I can make my ideal style a reality.
  4. A slew of different sewing blogs. Reading about others' projects made it seem so fun and so creative that I wanted a part of it! Besides the already mentioned, I really love Ginger Makes and Cation Designs. That said I'm still looking for more blogs to follow- again, I'm pretty new to this slice of the internet! 
  5. Animated fashion designs. This is a little dorky, but man, being able to sew means if I so chose I could have an entire wardrobe based on the Disney Princesses or on my favorite video games (I could dress like I live in a Harvest Moon game!!). I'm going to go mad with power.
Top Five Goals:
  1. Sew more, plain and simple! By the end of the year I want a wardrobe of items I've made myself that I can wear for a variety of occasions and environments.
  2. Be more mindful of my technique. It's well enough to sort of be sloppy in certain things while I'm building up the confidence to do them in the first place, but if I want to improve and to have a solid foundation for my future sewing I have to start doing things right now. (Although I think I'll always be that person who'll fudge things if I can get away with it...)
  3. Focus on things I'll wear, rather than patterns that make me go "ooh how cute!" I don't have the budget to buy patterns that'll just linger there looking pretty.
  4. Have a cohesive feel to what I make. Similar to the above, I can't let myself get swept up in a pretty fabric if it won't go with anything else I own or have made!
  5. Get more involved in the sewing community! I don't really know anyone else who makes their own clothes (my cosplay friends sew for cosplay and that's typically it), but I'd love to make some friends who won't tune out when I start talking about fabric choices or how I want to learn a new technique- and if they can help me learn, so much the better!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sewing for the Holidays: Winnie the Cooper

Apologies for the gap in posts, but I permitted myself to take a break from the siren song of the laptop for the start of my winter break. By that I mean I was avoiding opening up my laptop because it'd mean I had to actually deal with the bureaucratic mess that is getting some paperwork done for my history thesis, but I do genuinely believe it's good to take nice, long breaks from the internet and it's charms when possible. And I promise I put that time to good use, as I whipped up two new makes during that time!

Without further ado, the first of the two Christmas gifts I handmade for special people in my life: the Winnie the Cooper Satchel for my sister!

The elusive sophisticated Winnie the Pooh print fabric has been found.
Initially, I was going to make a Cooper satchel for my dad, but I knew he'd be more particular about what he wanted in a bag so that plan got scraped. I really wasn't planning on making my sister one, but then I discovered this Winnie the Pooh printed burlap while traipsing around the Joann's website and everything clicked beautifully into place. I mean, a mature-looking Winnie the Pooh print?! Knowing how obsessed with Winnie the Pooh my sister is, I knew what I had to do, and thus in a marathon night of sewing (more because I had the motivation to tackle it right then and didn't want to stop working on it than because of time constraints) this Cooper satchel was born... with a slight modification.

No pannier here!
My sister doesn't ride a bike. She doesn't live in a very bike-friendly place, so she couldn't even if she wanted to. I knew the pannier straps'd be a waist on her satchel, but I still wanted to put the clasps I got in the hardware kit to good use. I considered a shoulder strap but my sister doesn't really like those, and then it hit me: why not make horizontal straps for it rather than vertical ones, so it could slide over the handle of a rolling suitcase and serve as an awesome travel bag? It was a really simple switch to make. First, I sewed the back handle into the top contrast panel rather than the bottom one, so it was neatly enclosed. I then eyeballed the length of the horizontal straps I'd want, taking the fact that the straps would need to be longer than one might think to accommodate the bag being full (okay, that makes it sound like I planned everything out, when really I just cut two long pieces of fabric and sewed them up as per the instructions for the bag's handles and it just happened to work out well), then sandwiched the raw ends into the side seams, backstitching there to reinforce it. Dad and I stuffed a twin-sized thick blanket into it to test the straps and they worked like a charm!

The body fabric is a great thick corduroy I found on sale that matches the red of Pooh's shirt perfectly; it makes this bag look a lot more "fashionable" than utilitarian, like the pack cloth of my messenger bag. It was my first time working with a fabric with pile, but mercifully bag sewing is a bit more forgiving than garment sewing so it wasn't tedious to work with at all, although I did have to give my machine a through cleaning afterwards as it left everything with a delicate frosting of red fluff. Since I was using burlap for the contrast fabric, I lined the bottom gusset with the corduroy as well, to make the bottom of the bag extra sturdy. I also lined the flap pieces with the lining fabric (a cute blue and white polka dot waterproof fabric that was cryptically labeled "bag fabric" at the Joann's, but it was in the utility fabric section and was $2.50 a yard so I figured what the hell, let's go with it), to ensure that the snaps wouldn't tear out of the loose burlap and that the flap itself wouldn't be too, well, floppy.

This pattern sewed up even more easily the second time around, with one notable difference: I totally bugged up those straps at first! I had the messenger bag instructions too fresh in my mind so I stitched the front straps down the entire body, which made it so that when I went to test how the bag looked with the handle done up I found that completely impossible. Mercifully, since the straps are sewn down entirely on the outside of the bag, it was a simple matter to seam rip out the extraneous stitching with no damage to the bag. Bless my lime green seam ripper, it's my best sewing friend (don't tell the shears or my teapot pin cushion).

I do wish I'd taken more care with cutting out the burlap- it'd be nice if I'd managed to get a Pooh between the handle straps rather than being cut in half by or creepily blindfolded by them. But! My sister is incredibly pleased with it, and really that's what matters the most to me.

Next up: a Deus Ex: Human Revolution inspired Newcastle Cardigan for my boyfriend, which was many a first for me (first time sewing for a guy, first time making a jacket, first time using facings- the list goes on!) But first, I need to recapture the cardigan from him to make a few fixes (definitely made the arms a little too long as I forgot that the cuffs were a thing) and so I can take some decent photos!

P.S. I got the Colette Sewing Handbook for Christmas, so definitely expect more Colette Patterns makes in the future. I love all the patterns (well, I might make the Pastille Dress have a fuller skirt, because I don't like dresses that are so fitted everywhere even though I know that's kind of the point of the dress, but) so I'm going to work through it almost like the Home Ec class I never had. I might go a bit out of order, though, as I have the perfect hunter green chiffon for the Taffy Blouse, and I'm itching to cut into it and try it out. This really is a beautiful book, full of great tutorials for the beginner and just inspiringly pretty in general!