Archer 2.0

I made another plaid shirt!

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Of course it’s another Archer. Do you even need to ask?

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The first Archer I made turned out a little boxier/looser than I wanted, so I cut one size smaller this time (a 4 instead of a 6). (To be fair, though, my first Archer has shrunk just enough, after multiple washings, that the fit is pretty great now. I’m going to be more careful about not shrinking this one too much!)

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Pattern modifications: narrowed the shoulders by about 1/2″, added 1/2″ of length at the lengthen/shorten line, added ~1/4″ of width on each side of the back at the hips tapering to nothing at the waist, graded down to a 0 at the cuffs, shortened sleeves by some amount that I don’t remember offhand. I think I may have overdone it on the sleeve-shortening, but I wear my button-ups with the sleeves rolled up 98% of the time anyway, so it’s all good.

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Want to know what part of this make I’m proudest of? Here, let me show you:

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See the pocket? NO? WELL THAT’S BECAUSE THE PLAID-MATCHING ON THAT SUCKER IS PRETTY PHENOMENAL, if I do say so myself, and I am super proud of it. Which I realize is kind of weird because, you know, it’s really hard to see from far away, so probably no one will ever notice it. Whatever. I know it’s there, and it makes me happy.

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I noticed one weird thing while I was cutting those pocket pieces–I think the pocket piece is drafted with 1/2″ seam allowance, when it’s supposed to have 1/4″ seam allowances (according to the directions). If you cut the pocket piece as drafted and turn under 1/4″, the finished pocket ends up being wider than the pocket placement line indicates the pockets should be. Not a big deal at all, but something that I noticed and was briefly confused by when I was trying to figure out how to match the plaid on the pockets and the shirt fronts. (It’s also entirely possible I messed up somehow, so take all that with a grain of salt.)

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Other than that, it came together really nicely. I’ve been wearing it tons since I finished it last month–if that’s not the sign of a successful make, I don’t know what is.

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P.S. I realized recently that I never got around to sewing a “Umbellularia Designs” tag into this shirt! Must fix that soon. :)

Pattern Testing: The Sandpoint Top!

I got to test a brand new pattern a few weeks ago — before it was officially released! Pretty thrilling stuff, huh?

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This is the Sandpoint Top from Gray Day Patterns. Gray Day Patterns is a new pattern company run by Helena of the sewing blog GrayAllDay.com.

Helena put out the call for pattern testers about a month ago, and I volunteered. I liked the sophisticated-yet-wearable look of the pattern, and I thought pattern testing sounded fun. If you’re unfamiliar with the pattern testing process, here’s how it usually works (with indie pattern companies, anyway). People who sign up to test the pattern are given a draft copy of the pattern for free and are expected to sew it up and send feedback to the pattern designer, which is then incorporated into the finished version of the pattern. Testers are not paid, but they are given a copy of the finished pattern when it’s released. I’ve tried to be unbiased in my review of this pattern; Helena did not specifically ask us to blog about our creations, but I really liked how mine turned out and wanted to share it. :)

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From the front, the Sandpoint looks like any other scoop neck, kimono sleeve knit top, but from the back…

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Bam! Surprise cowl action! (…Let’s just pretend my shirt ISN’T awkwardly tucked into the waistband of my pants in this picture, ok? This is the best shot of the back I got, so we’ll just have to deal with its shortcomings. :P) The cowl is secured by a band that is sewn across the shoulders of the top. This keeps everything in place so nothing falls off your shoulders. Clever!

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The only modification I made was to add a hem band at the bottom–I got the idea from one of the other testers. Helena actually added an optional hem band to the finished pattern, which I think is great. It helps give the top a little extra shaping and definition. (Plus, it means you don’t have to deal with hemming drapey knit fabric.)

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I had no complaints about the pattern. The armholes were a tiny bit tight, but Helena says she fixed this in the final version. The pdf was easy to print out and assemble (and the final version of the pdf is layered, so you have the option of only printing the size(s) you need, which is pretty nifty). The sewing process went smoothly. The instructions in the final version also look very detailed and clear. This pattern gets my stamp of approval. :)

Fancy making a Sandpoint for yourself? You can snag a copy here. Helena has a 20% sale going until 10/26 with the sale code “firstweek”, so act now if you want it (and you know you do)!

Yet Another Scout

I’m back with another Scout Tee! A utilitarian-but-still-pretty black one this time.

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I made my usual size 6. I initially put petal sleeves on it, but afterwards (after I had already attached them with French seams…ugh) decided I didn’t like how they looked. It took me a few weeks to work up the gumption to rip them out and put on new, normal sleeves. Sigh. But now that I’ve fixed it, I’m pretty happy with this shirt!

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The one adjustment I made to the pattern was to shave just a smidgen off the top of the sleeve pattern piece, to reduce the ease in the sleeve cap. This made the sleeves way easier to set in (no gathering stitches required!), and makes the sleeves less prone to wrinkling where the sleeve meets the armhole. I like the results, and haven’t noticed any downsides to the reduced sleeve cap ease. (BTW, the debate about whether sleeve cap ease is actually necessary is pretty fascinating, if you’re a sewing nerd.)

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Excuse the underarm wrinkles — I’d been wearing the shirt all day before taking these photos!

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The fabric is black viscose (aka rayon) from Stone Mountain and Daughter. It’s lovely and soft and drapey, although it wrinkles like nobody’s business.

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P.S. Why yes, that is a sewing machine necklace. (It’s from ModCloth, in case you’re curious and/or need one in your life.)

Versatile Blogger Award

Sewing bloggers are a friendly bunch. Among other things, they like to give each other blogging awards! It’s fun, and a nice way to point people to new awesome blogs that don’t have many followers yet.

One such award that gets passed around the blogosphere (like a chainletter, but much friendlier and less annoying) is the Versatile Blogger Award. And, lo and behold, Becky from Springystitches has nominated me for it! :)

Thanks for the Versatile Blogger Award nomination, Becky (Springystitches)!

(Ignore my handwriting… Focus on the sentiment, and the sneak peek of this gray and pink plaid that I’ve earmarked for another Archer shirt.)

Here’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re nominated. (If you want. No pressure.)

1. Thank the person who nominated you and create a link back to their blog

2. Share 7 things about yourself

3. Nominate 15 other versatile bloggers

4. Tell the bloggers that you nominated them

Okay, so, some things about me:

1. I majored in biology in college.

2. I really like board games. Current favorites include Dominion and Race for the Galaxy.

3. I love fantasy novels. I’m re-reading Lord of the Rings right now.

4. The first sewing project I completed was a Lord of the Rings elf costume to wear to the opening of the Return of the King movie.

5. I really like British TV mystery series. Poirot, Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes (the Jeremy Brett version), Midsomer Murders, Rosemary and Thyme, etc.

6. I can juggle!

7. I love Shakespeare. I’ve seen almost all the plays at least once, except for some of the more obscure history plays.

(Basically what I’m saying is I am a giant nerd, okay? Okay. Glad we got that sorted out.)

Now for the best part!

I know you’re supposed to nominate 15, but I really wanted to limit myself to blogs that 1) aren’t already super well-known (under ~300 followers on Bloglovin), 2) I’ve been reading for a while and genuinely think are awesomesauce, and 3) haven’t already been nominated for the VBA as far as I can tell. These are the 6 I came up with:

1. Dandelion Drift for her relaxed, modern style.

2. Sew Pomona for her beautiful and everyday-wearable makes, and her sense of color.

3. Sewin’ in the Rain for super cute dresses.

4. SewStylist for her strong sense of her own style (which she summed up recently as “uncomplicated,” “interesting,” “timeless,” “sensual,” and “edgy”). Seriously, her blog is just beautiful to look at.

5. Under Alteration for her chic, wearable, and beautifully-sewn garments (and she calls herself a beginner!).

6. Two Random Words for awesome pencil skirts.

There you have it! Thanks again for the nomination, Becky. Now go forth and check out these lovely blogs!

A Coral Scout

See, I told you I’d make more Scout Tees eventually. :)

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I loved my owl print Scout so much that I knew I had to make some more. I also knew, from my Wardrobe Architect-inspired musings, that I needed more solid-colored woven blouses. So, on a recent afternoon, I found myself browsing the solid-colored rayons at Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics. This coral caught my eye, and ended up coming home with me. (I got some black viscose too, which was also ear-marked for a Scout. I actually finished it a few days ago, but have decided that my modifications to the pattern on that version were not terribly successful, so it needs to be re-worked a bit. Ah well. It was a learning experience.)

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This one turned out just fine, though. :) It’s actually one of my favorite things I’ve sewn lately.

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Just look at that beautiful top-stitching on the front neckline.

I fall more in love with Grainline Studio patterns every time I sew one. The patterns fit me well with almost no adjustments, they’re beautifully drafted (all the notches line up, etc.), and the styles are perfect — modern, minimalist, not fussy, but still pretty.

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The only fit adjustment I made for this Scout was to lengthen it by 1/2″ by slashing and spreading at the lengthen/shorten line. I also added the tiny pocket from the Tiny Pocket Tank, just to break up that expanse of coral a little bit.

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One more note: if you’re making a smallish size (I made a size 6), you can get away with using significantly less fabric than the pattern calls for. Just cut your fabric as a single layer and put the front and back pieces next to each other instead of cutting both on the fold. Works like a charm.

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I’m so pleased with how this turned out! This pattern is fast becoming one of my favorites. :D

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A Floral Flora

I’m pretty excited about this dress. :)

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This is the Flora Dress by By Hand London. It’s a combo of the wrap bodice from version 1 and the high-low skirt from version 2.

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It’s for a very special occasion, too — I made this dress specifically to wear to the upcoming wedding of a friend I’ve known since kindergarten. :) Yay weddings!

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For the most part, I liked the pattern and would recommend it. The high-low skirt, in particular, is great; the pleats are arranged in just the right way to make the most lovely cascading folds of fabric around in the hem. (Eventually I’d really like to make a Flora skirt!)

However, fitting the wrap bodice gave me quite a bit of trouble; it took 3 muslins to get it right! The main problem was that the vertical bust darts did not point to my bust apex at all, which made the bodice look simultaneously (and weirdly) too big in some places and too small in others. In the end I moved the vertical bodice darts about 1″ towards the center front, which seemed to pretty much solve the problem. (To do this, I literally cut a rectangle around the entire dart on my traced pattern piece, moved it over, taped it down, and filled in the gap with extra tissue.) So, if you too are having trouble fitting this bodice, my advice is to check whether the darts are in the right place for you!

Here’s a quickie sketch of the bodice modifications I made (not to scale at all). See how the vertical dart is closer to center front in the altered version?

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In addition to moving the vertical darts and lengthening the horizontal darts accordingly, I straightened out the bottom edge of the bodice a tiny bit. This pretty much had the effect of shortening the front edge of each half of the bodice. This pulls the bodice pieces in closer to the body and helps eliminate gaping.

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I added about 1.5″ of length to the center front of the skirt (tapering to nothing at the side seams), since I had seen other people mention that the high-low hem was, uh, pretty high in the front. I think the length turned out just about right!

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The construction went fairly smoothly. I used the tutorial from the Flora sewalong for stabilizing the wrap bodice edges with twill tape, which really helped eliminate the dreaded gape. I definitely recommend taking the time to do this step, if you make this dress!

The one major change I made was to add a full lining for the skirt, since my skirt fabric wasn’t quite opaque enough for my tastes. This was fairly easy, although figuring out how to deal with the lining at the center back, where the zipper is inserted, took a bit of thought. I eventually opted to sew the zipper only to the outer skirt fabric, and to hand-stitch the center back edges of the lining to the zipper tape, to give a clean finish.

The one mistake I made, which I didn’t even notice until the dress was finished, was to overlap the two halves of the bodice the “wrong” way–it’s supposed to be right-over-left, and I did left-over-right. Oh well! I don’t think anyone else will notice or care.

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I freaking love both of the fabrics I used. The bodice is a white cotton eyelet, underlined with white cotton voile and lined with white mystery cotton from my stash (which may or may not have started life as a bed sheet, I honestly don’t remember). The skirt is a lovely, floaty rayon challis lined with white cotton voile. Everything except the bodice lining was from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics.

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Overall, I’m extremely pleased with how this turned out! It even goes with this awesome purple belt that I already owned, haha. I’m very much looking forward to wearing it to my friend’s wedding in few weeks!

Wardrobe Architect (weeks 7 & 8)

More Wardrobe Architect talk today! (See, I haven’t forgotten, even though I am atrociously far behind…)

The Wardrobe Architect

Week 7 was all about prints and patterns vs. solid colors, and figuring out which types of prints we like wearing.

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I’d say that my favorite and most-worn garments (me-made and otherwise) are about half prints and half solids. I don’t do a lot of print mixing — I tend to pair printed tops with solid bottoms or vice versa, or just go for all solid colors. This made me realize that I could stand to make/acquire more solid-colored blouses and t-shirts for wearing with patterned skirts.

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In terms of types of prints, I tend to go for organic-looking patterns, florals, and novelty prints. I don’t really care for strong geometric prints on me, except for stripes. Oh, and plaids are really nice for button-up shirts! In this post I’ve included a sampling of prints from my favorite garments and fabric pieces from my stash. I think lately I’ve actually done very well at steering clear of prints that I love the look of on a bolt of fabric, but don’t actually like to wear.

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Week 8 was all about hair, makeup, and other beauty products and routines. This is an area of personal style I’d like to explore more! I’ve pretty much always had long hair. I like it, but I’d be interested try short hair to see what it’s like.

I’ve only just started dipping my toes into the world of makeup–somehow I missed the memo on this in high school and college. (I’ve found lurking in r/makeupaddicts to be very educational in this regard, by the way.) I suppose my core, essential makeup products at this point are foundation; black mascara; neutral, brown-ish eye shadows; and pinkish lip colors. The amount of makeup I put on really depends on the day. I actually enjoy doing a full face with foundation and everything, but realistically I don’t bother most of the time. (I still need to acquire some kind of really light foundation/bb cream/tinted moisturizer for days when real foundation seems like too much… Recommendations?) As with clothing, if something takes a huge amount of effort to put on or wear, I can’t be bothered most of the time. And that’s fine with me. :)

Me Made May! (And a Portrait Blouse)

It’s May 1st! That means it’s time for Me Made May!

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If you’re not familiar with Me Made May, head over here and read all about it. Basically, it’s a month-long challenge to wear your handmade clothes more often! There are no specific rules (each participant decides on their own pledge), and no winners or losers. The point is to challenge yourself to actually use the garments you create. (And to have fun admiring everybody’s awesome handmade outfits, and show off your own!)

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I signed up at the very last minute (last night!). This is the first time I’ve participated in one of these challenges, so I’m pretty excited. Here’s my pledge:

I, Katie of UmbellulariaDesigns.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one garment sewn by me (including re-fashioned garments) at least 3 days per week for the duration of May 2014.

So, without further ado, here’s today’s outfit — including a brand new make. This is the Portrait Blouse, from Gertie’s book.

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I’m quite pleased with how this turned out. I made no alterations except to lengthen it by 3″. I also ended up omitting the zipper (after I’d already basted it in…). I found that I could actually just pull the blouse over my head, and the zipper was making one side hang weirdly (probably because the fabric is quite flimsy).

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Here’s a blurry back shot:

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I especially love this fabric. It’s a rayon challis from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics. It’s incredibly soft, and very lightweight (great for summer!). I still have a little less than a yard left — what should I make with it?

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Get ready for lots of outfit photos for Me Made May. I’ll probably try to do weekly updates — we’ll see how it goes. I’ll also be posting photos to the Me Made May ’14 Flickr group — come check it out and admire all the beautiful handmade clothes! :)

Owl Print Scout Tee

I made a Grainline Studio Scout Tee!

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And it has adorable owls on it. LOOK:

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Is that not the cutest print you’ve ever seen?

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I really, really like this pattern. It has only four pattern pieces (three, if you don’t count the neckline binding), so cutting it out is super quick. It goes together really easily too. It took me a couple evenings to put together, but that’s only because I decided to be fancy and do French seams everywhere. If you didn’t do that you could totally make it up in one session.

See? Fancy insides.

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I also really like this rayon fabric (from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics). It feels very light and flowy. It does wrinkle pretty easily, but I can put up with that.

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And a back shot:

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This is definitely a winner–I’ve worn it several times already, and I only finished it a few days ago! The only change I made to the pattern was to lengthen it by 1/2″; otherwise it fit perfectly as drafted.

There will definitely by more Scouts in my life soon. :) (First I have to finish my current work in progress, the Portrait Blouse from Gertie’s book, and then I have to make a dress to wear to a friend’s wedding in June… But after that, more Scouts!)

Wardrobe Architect (weeks 5 & 6)

I bet you thought I’d forgotten about the Wardrobe Architect project, huh? Okay, you probably didn’t–I don’t think anyone except me thinks about my blog enough to notice that I’ve fallen behind, which in this case is convenient! (If you want to read my previous Wardrobe Architect posts, you can do that here.)

The Wardrobe Architect

Weeks 5 & 6 were all about color. The exercise for week 5 was simply to create a palette of colors that you like and feel good wearing.

This was actually a really useful exercise for me because it forced me to think critically about what colors I think look good on me (as opposed to just what colors I like), something I admit I had never put a lot of thought into before. I found this series of posts (part 1, part 2, part 3) from the blog Into Mind (which I recommend, by the way) really helpful and interesting while I was thinking about this. Apparently, according to the “color seasons” idea, I am a “warm autumn,” or possibly a “warm spring.” Now, I don’t subscribe to the idea that one should feel obligated to cling slavishly to the colors one is “supposed” wear, but figuring out which type you are is an interesting starting place for figuring out which colors you might like to wear.

Figuring out which “type” I am was pretty illuminating for me, actually. I had never really considered before that I tend to look best in warm colors, but now that I have thought about it, I can see it’s totally true. My favorite garments are warm colors, and I can even think of specific cool-toned garments that I don’t wear very often because I don’t think the colors flatter me.

The exercise for week 6 was to organize your color palette into three categories: neutrals (black, cream, etc.), near neutrals (colors you’re comfortable wearing as neutrals, that go with almost anything), and statement colors. So, without further ado, here is mine:

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This is a combination of colors I already wear and like, and colors that I’d like to wear more often. I really enjoyed putting it together, and it’s definitely been useful to think about while fabric shopping.

Up next in Wardrobe Architect: prints vs. solids! Also, I just finished a Scout Tee today (and I love it!), so you’ll be seeing that up here as soon as I have a chance to photograph it. :)