February 13, 2013

All That Glitters

Alabama1Alabama2

Pattern: Inspired by Alabama Chanin’s Alabama Studio Sewing and Design

Fabric: Organic Cotton/Lycra Jersey Made in Canada from Hart’s Fabric

Notions: Coats and Clark Button Craft Thread, Vintage sequins (cream and small faceted silver), African metal seed beads, and Shell beads.

Time to Complete: 2 hours for the garment, 7 or 8 hours for the beading

Notes:

You might recall that I was in search of an internship in the industry last fall. I ended up landing a spot at a couture bridal salon in San Francisco and it was such an incredible experience. The couturier had me dabble in a little of everything but I ended up falling head over heals for beading and much of my three months was spent hunched over with a cup of seed beads and a straw needle in my hand. It was glorious!

At the same time, my darling husband bought me the Alabama Chanin books. Since I was doing so much handwork at the atelier, Kelley knew that I’d find the books inspiring. I was introduced to Natalie Chanin’s work in 2011 when Andrea of Stitch Parade posted her stunning skirt and I’ve wanted to make something of my own ever since. If you’ve been interested in purchasing one of these books, I’d recommend Studio Sewing and Style. It has the most comprehensive information on Chanin’s techniques and several wonderful patterns as well.

Coincidentally, Craftsy emailed me this morning with their latest class – Natalie Chanin teaching Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric! If any of you have signed up, I’d love to hear about your experience. I’m banned from buying any more courses until I’ve finished one so I can’t research it myself but I’m wondering if there will be any new techniques not covered in her books.

I made this tank top last October and it is absolutely my favorite thing I’ve made! It was so fun to create, fits beautifully, and is unbelievably wearable. I was really worried that it would be too delicate to wash but I found out just how sturdy it is when I splattered pomegranate juice all over myself while making Thanksgiving dinner. After a heavy-duty pretreatment session, I threw it in the washing machine and it didn’t disintegrate! Amazing! Now I wash it with all my other clothes which means that I wear it about once a week. In fact, I have it on again today.

I’m pretty sure that eventually I will make every pattern from the Studio Sewing and Style book. My next piece is in the process of getting embellished and I can’t wait to show you the finished product!

February 4, 2013

Miss Me?

ImageImageImageImageImageDid you miss Me?

Because I have certainly missed you!

Thank you to everyone who reached out to me these past few months. It meant so much to me to hear from you! I know I’ve dropped the ball on getting back to many of you and I hope you’ll accept my sincere apologies! Life was so hectic that I had to let go of something and, sadly, that was sewing and blogging. This weekend was the first time in months that I’ve touched my sewing machine and it felt amazing to be back at it!

Pattern: No.5 One-Piece Petal Miniskirt from Drape Drape 2

Fabric: Jersey from Hart’s Fabric (sadly, all sold out) – made in Canada!

Notions: 3 inch wide heavy stretch elastic

Time to Complete: maybe 5 hours – I struggled lining the pieces up which delayed completion

Notes:

I was so excited when Laurence King contacted me wondering if I was interested in receiving a copy of Drape Drape 2. They have published my favorite English translated Japanese sewing books. I am constantly looking through my copies from the Pattern Magic series for inspiration and you may remember my hot pink dress from Drape Drape 1. While I absolutely love Drape Drape 1, the previews of Drape Drape 2 seemed far more “wearable”.

I decided for my first make that I’d try out the One-Piece Petal Miniskirt. Actually made from two pieces that overlap each other and then wrap around the body, I thought from the diagrams that the construction was fairly simple. It was, however, deceptive and I spent most of the time ripping out the waistline and realigning the two pieces. If you attempt to make this, I would recommend marking well and labeling the markings so that you don’t forget where the front, back, sides, and center are. I tend to think that I’m far too clever for markings and then I hate myself half way through the project. Don’t be me.

If you’re planning on making this, don’t be afraid to get a very drapey knit. The drape is a must if you want the skirt to flatter the hips. The fabric I purchased has some drape but not nearly enough and the gathers lift rather than fall creating a lot more volume. While I like this effect, I do regret not making the skirt in a patterned fabric or a bright color. This grey is beautiful with a lovely textured striping throughout but the skirt’s volume keeps me from wearing something bold or bright on the top. I’m afraid with my height that it just wouldn’t work but I’ll keep experimenting and hopefully prove myself wrong.

It’s so lovely to be back! I have some projects that I didn’t post about last fall and then several in the works right now. I can’t wait to share them with you!

September 13, 2012

Perspective

I started a new class on Tech Packs this week and I’m learning how to use Illustrator. I have a 30 day free trial that will see me through the majority of  the class and I’m having so much fun with the bezier curves. I’ve been taking some of my latest sewing projects and making little outfit drawings to practice. Since I haven’t found a moment to photograph this recent dress, I thought I’d show you the sketch instead!

I’ve recently discovered how much I love working with knits and I’ve been exploring different types over the past few weeks. I found a great ponte (pronounced pawn-tee) at Joann’s two weeks ago and couldn’t pass it up. It’s a really nice quality and with a 60% off coupon, I didn’t feel guilty experimenting. Ponte is a double knit interlock fabric. It’s a heavier knit which will be nice for fall and winter garments. I’ve seen pontes made from rayon and cotton but mostly you’ll find polyester blends. It comes in 2 and 4 way stretch and unlike many other knits, ponte is quite stable so you can use it in more structured garments like pants or jackets. It also has a beautiful drape and looks incredible in the a-line skirt of this dress.

The dress is quickly becoming my favorite piece in my closet. It is so easy to wear and incredibly versatile! I’ve made a block from the pattern and will be making up other versions soon. I’m heading into sleeves in my patternmaking class and can’t wait to add slim elbow length sleeves to the pattern.

In other news, I’m still hunting for an internship. I’ve had several interviews but haven’t found the right fit yet. I have another one coming up on Tuesday and I have a good feeling that it’s the “one”! Despite a few disappointments, I’ve had the opportunity to see the studios of a few indie companies and I’ve been having fun familiarizing myself with the local apparel companies. I had no idea there were so many in the area! It’s really inspiring to see a resurgence in manufacturing in the Bay Area and I hope that it will continue to grow.

Enjoy your weekend! I’ll be back next week with actual photos of this dress!

August 20, 2012

Convertible Knit Dress

Pattern: Inspired by KnuckleSalad with a few changes to the waistband.

Fabric:  3 yards black rayon knit from Joann Fabrics

Time to Complete: Less than 3 hours

Notes:

First, I want to thank you all for your support! Your comments on my last post meant so much to me. The encouragement gave me a much needed boost and I used the energy to put out a round of internship inquiries. There is a local dressmaker who creates custom wedding dresses and she’s interested in having me come in and help out in her studio. I’m meeting with her this week to talk about the details and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I’m so excited to see where the opportunity takes me and I feel like I owe it all to you! Thank you!

Now, about this dress… last spring, a friend approached me about making her a dress for a wedding she was going to. I was really excited about the project and was all geared up to make her one of Gertie’s Bombshell Dresses. Well, you can guess what happened. With all the stress of the past two months the project came to a halt. With the wedding a week away I needed to create something that I could feel proud to give her but wouldn’t take a lot of time. I was browsing Pinterest one evening when a picture of a Henkaa convertible dress came up. I knew this was the dress!

Convertible, infinity, chameleon – whatever you want to call it, it’s a pretty neat design. This particular one is simply a circle skirt with a straight waistband and two long straps that are used to create the bodice. My friend, who has a tiny little waist, looks great in it but I’ll admit that it wouldn’t be my first choice. Many of the style options involve wrapping the straps around the waist to secure and that extra fabric doesn’t do my shape any justice. I have been experimenting with options that don’t do this and I love using the straps like a scarf (see the first large picture on the left). This might be enough to convince me to make another – this time in a bright color!

My friend is coming to pick it up in a few hours – I hope she likes it!

August 13, 2012

Mixed Metals Dress

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Rayon/poly blend

Notions: Metal zipper

Time to Complete: ?

Notes:

Wow! Did I drop off the face of the earth or what? Since late June, I’ve been pounding the pavement looking for a new job. Between resumes and cover letters, school work, and my current job I didn’t even think about my blog. Sad, I know. Do you know what’s even sadder? Job hunting. It is such a demoralizing experience. I had little success and, for the time being, will be staying put. While I realize that two months isn’t a lot of time when it comes to looking for a job, this was the last week for me to give notice for the fall season at school and at work. When I received my latest rejection email, I cried all afternoon and then woke up that night with the flu. I spent four days inches from the bathroom in a delirium that can only come from a fever. It was the lowest I’ve been in a long time.

But yesterday, I woke up with a little more energy and anxious to move forward. I finally updated the Independent Pattern Designers list to add several great sites. I had neglected the page this summer (sorry!) and hopefully I didn’t miss anything. Now, I’m slowly going through my latest projects to photograph them. The first up is this lovely little number that I made as a final project at school. It also happened to be my interview dress on a number of occasions.

A simple sleeveless shift, the dress features french darts, a boat neckline (with a very subtle cowl), and an exposed zipper in the back. The zipper is my favorite little touch as I’m enamored with mixed metals. The combination of the natural and industrial is so beautiful! I think the decorative teeth on the zipper really highlights the fabric’s unique color, too. The fabric is a blend that has a slight stretch to it making it comfortable to wear all day. I was stoked to find it at the discount fabric shop in Berkeley as I’ve never had much luck shopping there before.

Even though I won’t be wearing the dress to a new office, I’m thrilled to have it in my closet. It’s a great transition piece – I can see wearing it right through winter with the right amount of layering. Right now, it’s still in the mid 90′s so unless I’m meeting with potential employers, I’m not wearing it with anything else (although I’d love to pair it with a cream oversized envelope clutch)!

I hope everything is well and I can’t wait to catch up with you all! I still owe you a tutorial on neckline and armhole bindings with knits. I’ll get to work on it as soon as I get my house back in shape – it’s a total disaster after the month I’ve had! Until then, happy sewing!

June 25, 2012

Golden Hills Maxi

Pattern: Self drafted (to achieve a similar look, I’d recommend Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi)

Fabric: about 2 yards of Ella Moss rayon jersey and tricot swimsuit lining

Notions: Wooly Nylon

Time to Complete: Weeks… but I’ll be able to bust the next one out in a few hours.

Notes:

Remember this challenge? The one where we tried to sew a style that we wouldn’t normally wear? The one Ina of Sky Turtle inspired? Even though my first dress skirt left much to be desired, I was determined to make this pattern work. After I returned from vacation, I picked it back up with help from my instructor and finished it just in time for the first week of summer!

I’d say the biggest road block to this garment was the fabric. My first version taught me to avoid fabrics with vertical stretch – no one wants to watch the hemline grow throughout the day. I wanted a lightweight fabric with a nice subtle drape that hugged rather than clung. This meant that online shopping was out of the question if I didn’t want to order dozens of swatches. I headed to Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley and found this knit but I was a little worried about its opacity.  It’s ever so slightly sheer so my instructor suggested lining it with nylon tricot (think swimsuit lining). I was resistant at first (wouldn’t it be hot or itchy?) but I’m so glad I took her advice. I’m not seeing the static cling that I did with my jersey lining and the tricot acts like a lightweight girdle holding me in without restricting me.

Once I had the fabric finalized, the construction of this dress was a breeze – two long seams later, I was ready to think about finishing the neckline and armholes. There are dozens of ways to bind a neckline and the choice can be a bit overwhelming. I’m no expert and I was petrified that I’d stretch the edges out. I tested several samples but finally chose a simple self fabric binding with a narrow coverstitch to secure. I’m so proud of the work as it’s the flattest binding I have ever done. If you’re interested in the method I used, I’d be interested in doing a tutorial.

I’m so happy with this dress and you’ll be seeing many, many more versions to come. For the last few summers, I’ve enviously watched women in their maxi dresses wishing I could pull one off. At 5’1, there’s little chance of finding a dress with the right proportions in the store. For me, this is what sewing is all about. Being able to create any style to match my shape is a dream. When I came out in it for the first time, my husband exclaimed, “it’s as if it were made for you!” He’s always been good with the obvious.

June 20, 2012

Drape Drape No. 13

Pattern: No. 13 from Drape Drape Vol. 1

Fabric: Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics

Notions: none

Time to Complete: If I added it all up maybe 5 or 6 hours?

Notes:

I had been in the mood for a high impact but little effort project and this dress delivered! I was a little worried about getting arrested for indecent exposure but it’s surprisingly wearable. I mean, it’s not an everyday garment but it’s not as revealing as I thought it would be. The drape falls beautifully to the back so unless you’re bending down, you’re actually quite covered in the front. While I did end up wearing it over my swimsuit on this particular afternoon, I’m not limiting the dress to the beach. It layers nicely over brightly hued or lacy bandeaus and is perfect for the sweltering weather we’ve been having. While not the most practical garment, it’s so much fun to wear!

The construction is crazy simple. It’s cut from one piece with a seam down the back so the majority of the sewing is in finishing the armholes, neckline, and hem. I finished the neckline and armholes by serging a folded fabric strip to the unfinished edge and then tacking down the seam allowance with the coverstitch. I’m still working on my coverstitch dexterity (especially around curves) but it looks pretty good. There are only two spots (and of course they are front and center on the neckline) that are a little crooked. I also used the coverstitch to finish the hem. I initially thought it might be too sporty for the garment but it blends so nicely and doesn’t interfere with the drape at all.

The book labels the garment as a tunic so I decided to add about 4 inches of length to make it a dress. Absolutely unnecessary! I ended up cutting away all of that excess but it still hits just above my knees. Since the front of the dress is a little shapeless, I’d prefer it even shorter. I’d take it up a few inches but the design tapers and that type of alteration is best dealt with at the pattern level. There’s always next time! One good thing – I’m confident that I’ll be able to fit into any of these designs despite being several inches larger than the XL.

My favorite part of the garment has to be the fabric. This poly/lycra blend is like no other jersey I have ever felt. It doesn’t cling like I’ve come to expect from poly-knits and it has the most wonderful texture that Ann describes as “spongy”. It drapes beautiful with a substantial weight but doesn’t feel heavy to wear. There are only 9 yards left at Gorgeous Fabrics so nab this one while you can. I would buy it in every color if it weren’t a one and only!

I’ve been a bit knit obsessed lately and it’s not going to stop any time soon! I’ve been getting so much use out of my new serger and now that I’m more familiar with the machine I owe you all a good solid review of the Bernina 1300MDC. For those of you who have asked about the machine, are there particular features that you’d like to hear about?

June 19, 2012

Join Me at Dixie DIY!

I’m guest posting at Dixie DIY today. I absolutely love Dixie’s Summer Concert Tee Pattern with its dropped shoulders and asymmetrical hem. I thought the design would make a great summer cardigan and couldn’t resist making a few modifications to the pattern. While Dixie’s sitting on the beach, I’m over on her blog showing you how to make one too!

June 13, 2012

Pink

 

❤ See more pink inspiration on my Pinterest! ❤

June 12, 2012

Two Books

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I’ve had my eye on these books for a while and finally picked them up this week. I already have the first two volumes of the Pattern Magic series so it was only a matter of time before I bought Volume 3. The other, Drape Drape, is on of those books that I always thumb through at the store but have never purchased because I’m just a hair too big on the size chart. I started thinking though that the designs have so much volume that I could fit into most. I have the first one on my tracing table as we speak so we’ll see!

Do you have these books? Have you made anything from them?

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