Archive for ‘Spring Wardrobe Challenge 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 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 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!

March 30, 2012

Sew Weekly: Pantone

I don’t know about you but March has been one doozy of a month. Nothing bad – just a really busy month.  I’ve finally (on the last two days!) given in and accepted that I can’t keep up with it! This past week I was lucky enough to have my darling mom in town and we had such a great time hanging out together. I just put her on the shuttle to the airport and now I’m sitting in my quiet apartment looking out at the rain. It’s hard not to feel lonely after such a great visit!

If you didn’t catch it, the minty peplum blouse pictured above was featured on Sew Weekly yesterday! I’m so flattered! This is the charmeuse I mentioned last week and it’s the third (technically fourth) garment in my spring wardrobe challenge. I had originally picked up the fabric for another swingy tank top but at the last minute I thought it would work better as this peplum blouse. Jump on over to the post for more details on the construction.

I hope you all had a great week! Any fun plans for the weekend?

March 19, 2012


Sadly, I spent most of last week in bed with migraines. I tend to get them with seasonal changes like extreme temperature or humidity shifts. This usually means that I get a migraine two or three times a year. However, this spring has been brutal with temperatures climbing to the mid 70’s one day and 50’s the next. It was the rain that brought them on last week. Today is my day off and my first day without a headache or residual weakness and I’ve spent most of it with some very slippery silk charmeuse.

Probably not the best choice when your looking for a relaxing project! My first time working with charmeuse ended in disaster but I’m hoping with some patience I can churn out a beautiful blouse.

I hope your week is starting out well! Any fun projects you’re working on?

March 9, 2012

2. Magnolia

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Wool blend gabardine and bemberg rayon from

Notions: 1 zipper and fusible interfacing

Time: An afternoon


I’ve been trying to decide what to call this color. Is it teal? Is it turquoise? I don’t know but I love it! I actually think it’s a seasonless color and I expect to be able wear this skirt long after spring has passed. The fabric’s color changes depending on the light – it’s more green in the shade and more blue in the sun – which made it rather difficult to find matching thread and zipper.

Speaking of fabric – this is probably the worst quality yardage I have ever worked with. It’s labeled as a wool/poly blend but at times it felt more like rattan. While working with it, it splintered, split, and shredded. It would stretch out of shape despite staystitching and it was so weak that I couldn’t even consider ripping out stitches.  I had my doubts as to whether it would look okay on but somehow it pulled itself together at the last-minute and made a great looking skirt. I have a feeling the bemberg lining had something to do with it. 

The skirt is self drafted. From my sloper, I dropped the waist and drafted a 2″ contoured waistband. I shortened the hem to the same height as my grey mini skirt (JCrew) and then drafted a lining with a jump pleat (also known as a bagged lining). All darts were removed making it a very straightforward sewing job. Once I had everything cut and interfaced, it came to together in less than an hour. If you’re looking for a similar pattern, try In House Pattern’s A New York Mini. The pattern as written is unlined but you could always add one if desired. 

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you installed a normal zipper as you would an invisible one? Seriously stupid maneuver. I had it in my head that I’d purchased an invisible zipper and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I couldn’t stitch closer to the teeth. It wasn’t until I tried the thing on that I realized the head was facing the wrong way. That’s right, the pull is facing towards my body. Unfortunately the fabric was so frail there was no turning back and I’m just grateful that I can still zip it up this way. You can see the zipper tape just a hair but from far away it’s really not bad.

I couldn’t help but include a close up of my new shoes. Since my spring palette is so bold, I figured a pair of cream colored shoes would keep bright outfits from overwhelming me. I had my eyes on a different pair and went to Nordstrom’s to try them on but when I saw these Born’s I knew they were the ones.

Overall, I’m very happy with the outcome and I know I’ll be wearing this skirt all spring. I can’t wait to start pairing it with my spring blouses and tops!

March 7, 2012

1.5 Cherry Blossom

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Tencel Jersey

Notions:  Fusi-knit tricot interfacing and some silk organza selvedge to stabilize the shoulders

Time: This went together so quickly that I don’t even remember making it.


If you recall, part of my wardrobe plan was a flared tank top made from a woven silk. I drafted a pattern and made a muslin a few weeks ago. The shoulders and upper bust were good but without a drapey fabric it was hard to get an idea of how the flare would fall. While working on another garment on Saturday I happened to spy the leftover yardage from my first top. Although, the pattern is intended for a woven fabric, I figured it would give me a good enough idea of how much flare I drafted in. And it did!

It’s a nice top and I’m happy with the amount of drape in the front. I used many of the same techniques as my last top although I substituted silk organza selvedge to stabilize the shoulder seams. I also forgot to remove the seam allowance from the neck and armholes for the binding method I used but it worked out just fine. What I’m most proud of though is my drafting for the back. When I’m standing straight, the back falls perfectly over my curves! When I make it from a woven fabric, I hope it looks just as beautiful.

March 1, 2012

1. Peach Blossom

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Tencel jersey from

Notions: fusi-knit tricot interfacing, elastic tape to stabilize the shoulders

Sewing Time: 2 hours


I’ve never been a lover of spring, but this year I’m a convert. In the past two weeks every tree and bush has erupted in blossoms. Each day I find a new favorite – sometimes it’s the magnolia, sometimes it’s the cherry. Today, it’s the peach. All over my neighborhood there are branches of these blush red flowers. Up until this week we were having some phenomenal weather. Saturday was 78, if you can believe that. Unfortunately, I had to go and ruin it by cutting my first piece for my Spring Wardrobe Challenge. I kid you not, the very day that I cut this fabric it started to rain and the temperatures dipped to the more seasonal appropriate 50’s.

This pattern was my first attempt at drafting for knits so I referred to my school text on how to treat the darts and waist shaping on my sloper. My sloper has four darts in the front (shoulder, armhole, bust and waist) and two in the back (shoulder and waist) all of which needed to be taken out. After I had taken care of the darts and waist shaping, I altered the neckline and drafted the yoke and front gathering. All that was left was truing and adding seam allowances. I was surprised at how quickly it came together and was just sure that I had missed some critical step but in the end it all came together!

Since I had ordered much more fabric than I needed for a simple blouse, I decided not to make a muslin. If I had, I think the final garment would have come out much more professional but it’s still a good casual top. One thing I wish I could change is the gathering at the front yoke. I had never used gathering on a knit fabric but figured I could just treat it as I would a woven. I ran a few rows a basting through the fabric, gathered, and then serged it to the yoke. Unfortunately, the serger flattened the gathering and it’s more like random tucks than gathering. Can you recommend a better way to do this? I was thinking of sewing a straight stitch to secure  the basted and gathered piece before serging it.

I tried out two other techniques on this blouse. The first was to use clear elastic tape to stabilize the shoulders. At first I had trouble feeding the elastic in my serger but I learned that if you leave a tail coming out the back before you start it’s easier to handle. The second technique I tried was using fusible tricot interfacing to stabilize the neck and armholes for the binding. Wow! Did this ever make a difference. You may recall this dress from last fall – while I realize it could have been worse, I was really disappointed that the neck was so wavy after I had carefully followed the instructions for applying the binding. The interfacing solved this problem in a snap and was so easy to stitch into that I even used a single (rather than twin) sewing machine needle to stitch in the ditch. I’m curious to see if interfacing would do similar wonders on a hemline.

And can I just say that tencel jersey is amazing! Have you ever worked with it? When I first felt it, it reminded me a lot of modal. Both are types of rayon and I’ve been trying to understand the difference. Regardless, it’s incredibly soft, lightweight, drapes beautifully and has a lovely sheen to the fibers. I’m trying so hard not to drop all of my sewing plans and buy up the rest of this for pajamas. I would love a few pairs of straight legged drawstring pants and matching tank tops! Gahh – stupid self control. All the better reason to get cracking on my spring garments.


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