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!

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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!)

Cranberry Renfrew

I made my first Sewaholic Renfrew top! I can see why everyone raves about this pattern so much; it really is pretty excellent.

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I’m so pleased with how this turned out. It’s super cozy, and it looks quite nice too!

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This pattern is very well drafted and went together very easily. I made view C, with the cowl neck and 3/4 length sleeves. Tasia’s instructions are, once again, fabulous, and give the shirt a very neat and professional finish. I especially love that you can easily make this top using either a regular sewing machine or a serger (or a combination of the two). I made the whole thing with my sewing machine.

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I finally learned how to use my machine’s overcasting stitch to finish my seam allowances. I think it looks pretty good!

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Mainly for my own information, since I will inevitably forget this and have to look it up when I go to make my next Renfrew (and there WILL be a next Renfrew, this pattern is THAT good), I sewed the seams with a regular zigzag stitch with length 1 and width 2, and finished the seam allowances with the overcasting stitch using whatever the automatic length and width are for that stitch on my machine.

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The pattern calls for twill tape to stabilize the shoulder seams, but I didn’t have any on hand. I used some sturdy ribbon I happened to have in my stash instead, and it worked perfectly. I kind of like having this secret bit of green on the inside, too. :)

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I cut a straight size 10 based on my upper bust measurement, and it fits pretty well! I didn’t even take in the hips, except for sewing the bottom hem band with quite generous seam allowances to tighten it up just a little. The fit from the waist down did turn out slightly more relaxed and slouchy than I was envisioning, but I don’t actually mind–it’s definitely comfy, and I think it looks okay. I think I might try a size 8 next time though (maybe even grading down to a 6 below the waist), especially if I make a non-cowl-necked version where neckline gaping might be an issue… We’ll see.

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The only substantial adjustment I made was to tighten the cuffs quite a bit. I don’t know if I just have skinny arms or what, but they were kind of ridiculously loose on me as drafted. Taking them in was super easy though, so no big deal.

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I love this fabric too. It’s from Stone Mountain and Daughter, and it’s a lovely, warm, cranberry red color. It’s super soft, too. I don’t actually remember the fiber content, but I have a feeling it might be bamboo or something–it feels softer and smoother than cotton.

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Overall I’m really happy with this make. I see many more Renfrews in my future! Must get my hands on some more cozy knits… :)

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Oh, also: I finally got around to making an account on Bloglovin’ and claiming my blog over there… So now you can follow me over there if you want to!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Tropical Sorbetto

Remember when I said I was working on a quick and simple project for myself, as a “sewing palate cleanser” after working so hard on the button-up shirt? Well, I finished it!

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This is the Sorbetto blouse pattern from Colette Patterns. It’s a quick and easy pattern to put together, is a great wardrobe staple, and you can download it for free from the Colette Patterns website! YES! I love free patterns!

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The fabric might look familiar if you’ve been reading my blog for a while. I made this with the scraps from the Tropical Cascade skirt I made earlier in the summer. I wasn’t sure I had enough fabric left to cut this out, but with some creative piecing I found I had more than enough to cut out all the pattern pieces for this top AND make some matching bias tape to finish the neck and armholes. Yay!

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You can see that I had to add a seam down the back–I didn’t have a scrap big enough to cut the entire back pattern piece. I don’t think it’s terribly noticeable, though.

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And here’s a shot showing how I had to piece the front. In this photo I’m lifting up the edge of the pleat that runs down the front of the blouse. The front is supposed to be cut as one piece, but I ended up cutting it in three pieces to fit on my available fabric. Luckily I could piece it right under the pleat, so no one need know (except you guys)!

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I actually really enjoyed making the bias tape to finish the edges. I followed the continuous bias tape tutorial from Colette (they include a link to this in the pattern instructions). I’m now looking forward to finding excuses to make more bias tape using this technique–it’s seriously like magic. I don’t think I can describe it well enough to do it justice, but you should check it out if you ever need custom bias tape.

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I’m especially proud of the insides. I used French seams, so there are no raw edges to be seen! Here it is inside out to prove it:

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So neat! So tidy!

And here’s the neckline, showing the bias tape, the front pleat, and the French seam down the back:

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And here’s the inside of one of the shoulders…

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…And the outside for comparison. Equally attractive!

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I think it came out quite nicely! If I make this pattern again, I might add just a touch of extra length–maybe 3/4″ or something (I like my tops on the long side, plus I think I have a relatively long torso to begin with). But other than that I’m really pleased.

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I thought about putting some buttons or something down the front, but I eventually concluded it was best to just let this fabric speak for itself.

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Of course it’s just starting to get cold here, so I probably won’t get to wear this much until next summer… Ah well. I have a few more autumn-appropriate projects in the works. Hopefully I can finish them before spring!

P.S. Do you like the new blog layout? I decided I needed a theme with sidebars, so as to make the archives and such more accessible. I think I like it (especially now that I’ve figured out how to use the same color scheme I was using before…)!

Shirtmaking #2: The finished shirt (finally)!

Guys? Guys. I made a shirt! From a pattern I drafted myself!

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I’m pretty excited.

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Check out that beautiful flat felled side seam and narrow hem (this photo is of the inside of the shirt).

Is it perfect? Goodness no. It has some issues, for sure. But for a first attempt, I’d say it was a success.

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More pretty flat felled seams. This is where the side seam and armhole seam meet (again, on the inside of the shirt).

Most importantly, The Boyfriend likes it. :) I can tell because he’s worn it several times, with no convincing from me. He actually wore it to work the day after I finished it!

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(As usual, excuse the terrible photography. If I get some better shots of the shirt in action soon, I’ll post ’em.)

I’m still debating whether to add pockets. And if so, with or without pocket flaps. Opinions?

Anyway, here are the gory details:

1. The custom pattern drafting/draping methods in David Coffin’s book really do work. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this ended up fitting! There are a few tweaks I want to make next time, though — mostly lengthening the shirt body a little, lengthening the sleeves, and making the cuffs a little narrower (I had to make these cuffs wider than I planned after discovering I’d cut the sleeve pieces a little too short).

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The sleeve plackets turned out pretty well though, if I do say so myself.

2. This fabric is really nice and soft, but cutting it out was a royal pain. I don’t know if it was this way when it arrived from Mood, or if it somehow got stretched out when I pre-washed it, but the vertical and horizontal stripes were not at perfect right angles to each other. They are woven stripes, not printed, but somehow the warp and weft threads of the fabric just weren’t perpendicular, and no amount of ironing completely solved the problem. This meant that I had to choose which was more important — perfect vertical stripes, or perfectly level horizontal stripes. I chose perfect vertical stripes, but this made matching up the side seams and the center front…difficult. You can see that the front button band didn’t end up matching at the center front perfectly. In hindsight I wish I’d cut it on the bias to avoid that problem. Ah well.

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A view of the collar. Not perfect, but pretty good, I think!

3. Another issue I only noticed after it was too late to fix: I cut the back upside down. That is, the pattern goes the opposite way on the back as it does on the front. I’m somewhat reluctant to bring this up because I honestly don’t think anyone would ever notice if they didn’t already know–it’s practically impossible to tell. But I want to be honest with y’all, so…now you know. Call it a design feature?

4. As far as construction goes, I used a combination of David Coffin’s methods and Peter’s instructions from his men’s shirt sewalong. Peter’s methods are generally simpler and seemed to give perfectly adequate results, so I mainly stuck with those. I’m planning to write up instructions on exactly what I did so I can replicate it all next time. Maybe I’ll post those instructions up here at some point.

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I’m pleased at how this turned out, but also pleased to be done with it. I’m working on a quick and simple project for myself at the moment — sort of a sewing palate cleanser. But after that I’m looking forward to making another shirt, and correcting all the mistakes I made this time!

Have you made a men’s shirt? Any tips? Let me know if the comments. :)

Tropical Cascade Skirt

I finished my first sewing project of the summer last week!

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This is the Cascade Skirt pattern by Meagan Nielsen. Over the past few months I’d seen several beautiful versions of this skirt pop up around the blogosphere, but I hadn’t really thought seriously about buying the pattern–it just didn’t seem like the kind of thing I was likely to wear, you know? But then I found this amazing tropical floral rayon at Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics a few weeks ago, and I knew immediately that it had to be made up into a Cascade. Aren’t they just a perfect match?

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This skirt came together really quickly and easily–it took me three or four evenings, from cutting to sewing on the buttons (and most of that time was spent doing the rolled hems on the outer fabric and the lining). Definitely an instant gratification project (which is great)! Here’s a close-up of the inside of the rolled hem, and a French seam:

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I only made a few minor adjustments to the pattern. First, I added a back seam. The cutting layout included in the pattern has you cut the back piece on the fold, but to do that you have to fold the fabric perpendicular to the selvedge, which means that if the print on the fabric is directional at all, it will be sideways on your skirt. Most of the time this wouldn’t matter at all, but the flowers on my fabric all face one direction, and I really wanted them to be facing up instead of sideways. So I just added 5/8″ seam allowance, cut 2 back pieces, and sewed them together with a French seam. I don’t think it’s noticeable at all–and if it is, that’s okay, because those French seams are pretty gorgeous, if I do say so myself. Here’s a close-up of the inside of the skirt back seam:

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I also added a lining, because I wasn’t sure whether this rayon would wind up being slightly see-through or not. In hindsight it probably wasn’t necessary, but it wasn’t too difficult to do and it sure feels nice and silky on my skin. Here’s the inside of the finished skirt (all wrinkly from being worn all day–forgive me):

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The pattern includes instructions for a lining, but it instructs you to use the same pattern pieces for both the outer fabric and the lining, which means that the lining fabric will be very visible due to the high-low hem. I didn’t want my lining to show (I didn’t want to cover up that fantastic print!), so I just shortened the pattern pieces enough that I was confident the back lining would be shorter than the front of the skirt. I also made the lining a little shorter around the waist, so the lining fabric would be less likely to peak out from the front of the skirt. I think it worked pretty well. (The lining fabric is rayon bemberg lining ordered online from Mood Fabrics–specifically, I think it’s this one.)

Other than that, I pretty much followed the directions exactly. I’ve seen several versions of this skirt that were shortened in the back a little bit, but I like the extra long back–it’s dramatic, certainly, but in a good way!

The pattern includes three waistband options (tie-in-the-front, tie-in-the-back, and button-up), and I chose the option with buttons. I also added a snap for some extra security.

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The buttons are purple plastic, inherited from my grandmother in her enormous stash of sewing supplies. They’re definitely vintage, although I’m not sure what decade they’re from. In real life they’re a beautiful rich purple, although for some reason they look more blue-ish in these photos. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

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Here are some terrible self-timer photos I took right after I finished it, just to give you an idea of what it looks like close up…

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And here’s some more artsy photos of the skirt in action in the rose garden this afternoon.

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The back is kind of wrinkly from sitting on a bench in the rose garden right before this…oh well.

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It’s very twirly and billows beautifully when you walk!

This is a great, simple pattern, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I ended up making it again. My only complaint is that it really isn’t suitable for windy conditions, unless you wear bike shorts underneath or something. :P That being said, I love my new skirt, and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of wear out it. Definitely a successful project!

And just for fun, here’s a pretty photo I took in the rose garden this afternoon:

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