Bonnell Dress in Blue

I’d been eyeing the Bonnell Dress from Dixie DIY ever since it was announced. What can I say? Those side cut-outs called to me. Plus it’d been ages since I made a straight-up quilting cotton sundress in a novelty print.


So I made one!


I made a straight size 6 (and no muslin, because I like to live on the edge). The only modification I made was to lower the front neckline slightly.


The fit is pretty good, although I think I might go down to a size 4 next time for a snugger fit. I’ll probably lower the front neckline even more next time, too–as it is, it sits very high, even for a jewel neckline.


I was really pleased with how the side cut-outs turned out. To me, it was absolutely worth it to buy this pattern just to get the instructions for how to neatly finish those cut-outs (definitely an exercise in sewing origami). I can picture myself adding cut-outs to the sides of all kinds of things now, haha.


I really like this fabric, too. It’s a Cotton and Steel print that I found at Stonemountain and Daughter. It is a quilting cotton, but it is quite light and drapey as quilting cottons go. Perfect for a sundress.


I lined the bodice and skirt with gray cotton batiste. Here’s a close-up of the zipper and the nifty tag:


Thanks for reading!


A basic black maxi

I didn’t exactly mean to take a 6 month vacation from blogging, but, what can I say — life got busy and other things (like starting a new job) overtook blogging on my to-do list. But I have been sewing (a little).

This is my most recent project: a basic black maxi dress from New Look 6282 made up in yummy black rayon batiste.


I like this pattern! I appreciate that it includes pattern pieces and instructions for a skirt lining (basically a built-in slip) and a bodice lining. The order of construction makes sense and the dress went together pretty easily.


The only alteration I made was to shorten the straps slightly (not unusual for me), and to completely disregard the elastic length guides for the waist and the top back of the bodice.


I also disregarded the instructions for attaching the straps to the back of the bodice. The instructions tell you to sandwich the straps between the bodice and bodice lining, which results in a clean finish but makes it impossible (due to how the rest of the dress is constructed) to change the placement of the straps once you’ve finished the dress and tried it on. I just left the straps loose in the back until the rest of the dress was finished so I could try the dress on and pin them exactly where I wanted them. Then I tacked them down by hand. A little extra work and not as clean-looking on the inside, but worth it for a better fit I think.


A warning: tall ladies may want to lengthen the skirt! I’m 5’5″ and the skirt length is just right for me if I’m wearing flats.


It’s good to be back in the blogosphere. See you again soon, I hope!

2014 Top 5 Hits and Misses (sort of)

Another sewing blogger, Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow, hosts a “Top 5 of the year” blog series at the end of every year. The idea is to post a roundup of your top 5 hits and misses from the year, as well as other highlights from the year. I thought it would be fun (and maybe educational) to join in and take a look back at my sewing successes and failures this year.

Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5

The first thing I noticed as I scrolled back through my 2014 blog posts is that I didn’t make that many things this year (11 garments blogged, plus 2 that weren’t), and for a while I felt bad about that (especially while reading all the “year in review” posts from other people with truly incredible numbers of finished garments for the year…). But after thinking about it for a while, I’ve decided I’m actually happy with that number of makes. I don’t need or want to make dozens and dozens of new garments every year–I don’t have room for that in my closet anyway! A few well thought out, well executed projects is actually ideal for me, and I think I achieved that. Nearly everything I sewed this year gets worn frequently and makes me happy, and for me, that’s success.

So, let’s get to the hits and misses, shall we? (Clicking on the pictures should take you back to the original post about each project.)

Top 5 Hits:

1. Black Scout Tee

Black Scout Tee

This was the 3rd Scout Tee I’ve made, and I perfect it a little more with each iteration, so this one is pretty darn good! The silhouette works well for me, black goes with everything, and it’s easy to dress this top up or down. I’ve worn it a ton, and I love it.

2. Archers #1 and #2

Archer #2Archer #1

I’m cheating a little and counting these as one. I freaking love my archers! I wear them all the time! They are the perfect balance of casual-yet-put-together, and they work well both for work and leisure. I’d still like to make more of these.

3. Portrait Blouse

Portrait Blouse

This was kind of an unexpected hit — I sewed it up more or less on a whim, unsure it the shape would work for me. But it does work, brilliantly, especially for tucking into slacks for a slightly dressy look. The print and colors are perfect for me, too. I wore it to a job interview few weeks ago, and I felt great in it. (The interview, incidentally, went really well — must have been the blouse, don’t you think?)

4. Pumpkin Renfrew

Pumpkin Renfrew

Not much to say about this one, except that I LOVE the color. It just makes me happy to put this on in the morning. I’m wearing it right now, actually! Plus it’s super soft and cozy, and the fit is pretty good (although I think on my next Renfrew I’ll shorten the body by 1″ or so).

5. Floral Flora Dress

Floral Flora

I’ve only worn this once (to a wedding), but it’s still qualifies as a hit because I felt great in it on that one day. Besides, when I made this I didn’t expect to get to wear it super often. I knew if would be a special occasion dress; that was the point.

Top 2 Misses:

I wouldn’t say that anything I made in 2014 was a complete miss, which makes me feel pretty good! Here are the two makes that I’m least satisfied with, though:

1. Sandpoint Top

Sandpoint Top

This make seemed great at first, but I eventually realized I just didn’t feel good wearing it. (The difficulty I had getting pictures of me wearing it that I liked enough to use in that blog entry really should have been a clue…) Part of it is the hem–it feels too long right now, and the hem hits me at an awkward place. I need to either take the hem band off and hem it normally, or take the hem band off, shorten it, and then put the hem band back on. Blah. In addition to that, the style just isn’t practical for my everyday life. The cowl back makes it not work appropriate (for me, at least), and you can’t really cover the back by wearing a cardigan over it because the cowl gets all bunched up. So it’s weekend wear only. But most of my weekends are spent either lounging around at home or traipsing around outdoors, and this doesn’t really lend itself to either of those activities either. So mainly it sits in my closet, unworn. Once I get the hem fixed, though, it will be fun to wear this occasionally!

2. Shirt For The Boyfriend

Blue Men's Shirt

This definitely isn’t a complete miss, as it gets worn frequently (hooray!). But it does have some issues. The sleeves are too wide/puffy where they meet the cuff–I really need to adjust the pattern to take out some width there. I also don’t really like the shape of the collar–it turned out too big, I think. The Boyfriend looks best in shirts with pretty narrow collars. Need to adjust the pattern for that, too. Still, considering that this is only the second incarnation of a completely self-drafted pattern, I’d say it’s pretty good! Hopefully the next version, with those changes, will be even better (whenever I get around to it…).

Another Highlight — The Wardrobe Architect Project:

The Wardrobe Architect

The other sewing-related highlight of my year was participating in the Wardrobe Architect Project. It definitely helped me figure out what kinds of garments to focus on making/acquiring, and my wardrobe has certainly benefitted. I think the fact that I frequently wear nearly everything I sewed this year is largely thanks to this project. Huge thanks to Sarai for designing and leading it! I learned a lot, but I think the single most helpful thing I figured out is that I look/feel the best in warm autumn colors (olive green, dark red, burnt orange, warm purple, mustard, teal, etc.). Although I don’t intend to always confine myself to this palette (obviously, judging from the things I made this year), having this in the back of my mind has been hugely helpful when I’m fabric shopping (or just shopping for ready-to-wear clothes).

That’s it from me for today. I’m off to make another Scout Tee (this will be #4). #SoManyScouts #NeverEnoughScouts

Pumpkin Renfrew

I finally got around to making a second Renfrew top! I actually made this back in November, but I haven’t had a chance to take photos until today.


I made this top primarily because I found this orange knit at my local fabric store and fell in love with the color. And then I had to figure out something to make with it.


The fit of this one is much better than the fit of my first Renfrew. For this one, I cut a size smaller than I did last time, and graded down an additional size at the hip (which makes sense, since Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear-shaped women). I also took in the side seams right at the underarm, and narrowed and shortened the sleeves. I think the fit is pretty spot-on, now. (It’s a little clingy, but I think that’s mainly down to the fabric being a little flimsy, not the fit being too snug. It doesn’t really bother me.) I even remembered to write down the changes I made on the pattern pieces, so it should be pretty easy to recreate them next time!


I ended up wearing this for Thanksgiving this year — the color seemed appropriately autumnal.


I made this all on my sewing machine, since my serger is still at my parents’ place. It worked just fine — I just used a narrow zig-zag to sew the seams, and finished the seam allowances with a wider zig-zag. I love that the Renfrew is finished with a hem band and cuffs, so you don’t have to worry about hemming a flimsy knit!


That’s it for now! I’ll be back soon with a year-in-review post — I really want to participate in Gillian’s “Top 5 of 2014” series before it’s too late.


Happy New Year! :)

Archer 2.0

I made another plaid shirt!


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


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!)


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.


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


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.


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.)


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.


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?


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

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. :)


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


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!


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.)


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.


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!


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.)


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


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.


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. :)


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.)


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


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.


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.


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.


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


A Floral Flora

I’m pretty excited about this dress. :)


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.


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!


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?


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!