Thursday, June 22, 2017

Laundry Day Tank Tops

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Is there anything more satisfying than using up large scraps, AND finding a TNT all at the same time?

I've been in need of some new tank tops this summer. I have a ton already, but most of them are close-fitting. I'm still working on that post-three-babies-belly-pooch and don't feel as comfortable or confident in those kinds of tanks. (Side note for anybody who isn't a mom...did you know your stomach muscles actually separate during pregnancy? Fun! Diastasis recti...Google it...meanwhile I'm doing exercises trying to bring them back together.)

A few months ago I made a Love Notions Laundry Day Tee (free code in the Facebook group!) and ended up wearing it a ton. I decided to try the tank version, since I knew it would give me extra volume around the waist and hide my belly. I did think that my tshirt was a bit large, so I sized down for the tank, to an XS, and I love the way it looks! I love it so much I made two.

The LDT works best in lightweight, drapey knits like rayon jersey, which is what both of these are. The white (from Urban Rag Trader on Etsy) was previously used for, you guessed it, my Laundry Day Tee! The blue stripe (from Raspberry Creek on Etsy) was used for a Hey June Santa Fe. I was so happy that I had enough yardage left to cut these tanks, because rayon knits are kind of my jam right now.

I also like how the shoulders are cut. They're more narrow than my other tank patterns (in fact, I thought I had cut incorrectly at first) and I think it's more feminine and flattering. These are a quick cut and sew, especially if you're like me and don't hem!

This is my "is it going to rain?" face...and the answer was yes!

What tank pattern are you digging right now? Anyone else obsessed with rayon knits like I am?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Capsule Travel Wardrobe

Hi everyone! I'm back from my much-needed vacation and today I'm sharing my travel capsule wardrobe. I am a classic over-packer, but for this trip space was a concern and I HAD to get my packing under control. I turned to Pinterest for help and came across this great guide using the 5-4-3-2-1 system. I started there, but ended up varying from the formula.

Union St. Tee // Target athletic tee // camp tee
Plantain tee // Reebok athletic shirt
Sloomb wool leggings // Jamie Jeans // Madewell jeans // Old Navy shorts
Chico's sweater dress // Anthropologie cardi // Kelly Anorak
Tommy Hilfiger aviators // Sloomb armwoolies // Sloomb wool scarf
Converse slip on shoes // Ryka tennis shoes

The first step was to evaluate exactly what I needed. My typical strategy has been "pack stuff I like" and that's less than helpful. We were gone roughly a week, driving, and were headed to Niagara Falls and a summer camp in Ontario. My needs were comfort for travel days, athletic wear for camp days, and one nice-ish outfit for our touristy day in Niagara. The trickiest bit for me was the weather. The summer camp was a group event, and I was warned by Canadian members of the group that it could either be sunny and beautiful, or cold, rainy, and windy. They cautioned me to pack long pants and long sleeves despite the forecast of low to mid-seventies temperatures (tank top weather for me!). I ended up listening to their advice and regretting it! It was quite a bit warmer than expected during the day, and I only packed one pair of shorts. I wore that same pair basically every day and didn't even touch my jeans! So let's call this a capsule wardrobe for mid-May rather than mid-June ;)

My favorite thing about this capsule collection is the color scheme. It's mostly black and grey, which meant everything went with everything. For example, I wore the grey sweater dress with my wool leggings the morning we took the boat ride in Niagara Falls.

The poncho they provided covered my top half, but my legs were nice and cozy in my leggings and stayed dry. When it warmed up later, I simply removed the leggings and still had a complete outfit. If it had been cool or rainy I could have thrown on my Kelly Anorak, my only piece with significant color.

The shorts, leggings, and one pair of jeans I brought were all black, and with one exception all my tshirts were grey with black accents. Toss the grey cardigan on top for cool mornings, and the textured of the cardigan still worked with the whole outfit without making me into a grey blob. If I had needed them, the navy jeans would have worked with any top. I also kept my accessories in the black/grey family, although it was warm enough that I didn't need a scarf or armwoolies. Even my shoes were black and grey! My aviator glasses were casual and went with everything.

We had a great trip, in no small part because I never had to worry about what to wear. Sometimes fewer choices can be freeing. The kids had one outfit for each day, bagged in a Ziploc and labeled with the day. They were actually excited to get up and ask for their "Friday" or "Saturday" bags! Much more excited than when I offer their entire closet and ask what they want. On this trip, I learned that less is more, and that you don't have to do anything fancy as long as you love the people who go along for the ride.

Have you tried capsule wardrobes for travel? This was a great way to get my feet wet with the idea of capsule wardrobes. I'm currently reading The Curated Closet and can't wait to pare down my whole wardrobe to things I love.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kids' Duffle Bags

I've mentioned my upcoming vacation a couple times, and today I'm sharing a last-minute project perfect for summer trips! I spent weeks constructing my own Portside Duffle, only to realize that my kids don't have anything similar. Since adding a third child into the mix, we've only done a single overnight away from home. Our vacation will be nearly a week, which meant each child needed a bag of her own. No way it was all going to fit into my bag!

I searched Pinterest for a free, quick pattern and ended up finding a tutorial here. Cheap was the name of the game, so I used as much stash material as possible. I found that the tutorial was a little off in fabric estimation, a full yard of 44" wide fabric is what I needed. So far I only have one bag done, the other two are a few steps away from completion.

I used zippers from my stash which appear to be separating sport zippers. Two of them are longer than the tutorial stated, but there are directions for making adjustments. The only thing I purchased was the webbing, from Jo-Ann's.

These bags are highly unstructured and do not contain interfacing. There is a facing for the zipper but no lining. They're basically only going to hold clothing and a toothbrush, perhaps an extra pair of shoes, so I didn't need anything heavy duty. The bags are a pretty quick sew, the longest step was figuring out how to cut out the circles for the ends (hint, I found a plate)!

We leave on our trip next week! Guess I'd better finish up the other two bags...

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Casual Summer Dress

Someone who loves knits as much as I do should have a TNT dress pattern by now, right? On a warm summer day, nothing beats tossing on a sleeveless dress, but I'm still trying to find my perfect pattern for such a thing. I think with a few tweaks, this one could be it.

This is McCall's 6744, an OOP pattern that I've had for a few years. I previously made a crossover maxi dress version, which sadly ended up in the garbage after the thin fabric developed holes. But I hadn't yet tried the sleeveless version, and decided on the racerback view to keep it casual.

The pattern was already cut in all views (yay!) in XS (boo!). I'm not an XS on the side seams I used a 3/8" seam allowance instead of 5/8" which worked out fine. It is a bit low-cut (the light pink you see along the neckline is my bra) but that just means I have easier nursing access. All the edges are finished with a 5/8" single-turned hem. Not the best finish, but it is the fastest, and my coverstitch made quick work of it.

I needed a quick project, since I decided the night before H's birthday that I wanted a new dress! Now I know a sewing mama would normally be making a new dress for her KID on the kid's birthday, but I had already bought her something new ::shrugs:: We went to the zoo for her special day, and this dress worked out perfectly for our weather and activity. I was able to cut it out and sew the whole thing in maybe 90 minutes of time (fabric was already washed, pattern was already cut as I mentioned). Can't beat that!

And oh yes, let's talk about this fabric. It's a rayon/spandex knit from Raspberry Creek Fabrics. Even though it has a white base it's not sheer. Pink and blue are my two favorite colors, and I love abstract, graphic prints. Basically, it's a win in every category. And I have enough left to squeak out a top, I think.

To make the dress a bit more fun (okay, I was also just being lazy) I reverse coverstitched the openings. There was maroon thread in the needles, which pulled through a bit to the right side. It works with the casual feeling but keeps this dress unique.

As far as a TNT pattern goes, this might work for me if I lengthen the bodice so it's more of a drop-waist. Ten months out from my last baby, I'm facing that dreaded mama pooch and the possibility that it might be here to stay. It makes me self-conscious and uncomfortable to have an elastic casing running right over that part of my body. A drop-waist would give a bit of blousing there and put the waist on my high hip instead. Stay tuned for that particular hack! And by stay tuned, I mean, wait three or four years haha!

I admit, I'm already looking forward to the end of Me Made May, so I can wear this again!

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Color-blocked Santa Fe

No need to reinvent the wheel today, but I've got a fun new top to share! Despite my reservations about the sleeveless Santa Fe tops I've made, I've been wearing the heck out of my version with sleeves. Once I sewed the last stitch of my Kelly Anorak, I knew I desperately needed a palette cleanser, so another Santa Fe landed on my sewing table almost immediately.

Shockingly, I have no basic white tees in my wardrobe. I found this cut of lightweight, terribly off-grain cotton jersey hiding out in my stash. It was less than a yard, so not big enough for anything unless I could get creative. Trying to match the weight as closely as possible, I decided to use some black burnout knit and color-block. I love how it turned out!

I think the jersey was from Girl Charlee, back before I gave up on their quality, and the burnout is from Jo-Ann's I believe. I only had a small piece of the black as well, so this was definitely a stash-busting project.

This is a small. I chose to make my seam line roughly halfway through the sleeve. I played around with the two colors for binding and cuffs and decided on black for both. The cuffs are topstitched down to prevent flapping (which happens on my other top).

Yes, I'm wearing a black bra because I'm just that cool.

I did add some length to the bottom because I honestly had no idea if I had prewashed the fabric (again, see why A Sewist's Swatch Book became so necessary for me?!). If it shrinks a bit in the wash it won't be the end of the world, it's plenty big enough right now. I did not hem.

Sometimes all it takes to jazz up an old standby is a little color-blocking, and maybe even playing with length. I ended up with this cool effect on the sides as well.

One final construction note: the burnout was alternately fine and tricky to sew. With the serger it was fine (I lessened the presser foot pressure and increased the differential feed), but on my regular sewing machine I needed to use tissue paper underneath so it wouldn't get sucked down into the throat plate. French seams would also be a good option, but I was in a hurry and just wanted something casual.

Have you ever sewn with a burnout jersey? Offhand I can't remember doing so previously, but it was a fun change!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Me Made May: Halfway!

Are you enjoying MMM17 so far? I admit, I'm having a ton of fun challenging myself and scrolling through IG seeing everyone else doing the same. My pledge was to wear one item of me-made clothing every day, excluding underwear, without repeats. So far I've succeeded. My secret challenge was to wear two items as often as possible, and I've been suprisingly good at that, too!

One thing I've learned this year is that I have a lot of clothes, but it seems like I always reach for the same four things over and over. I used to think that this meant I needed more of certain patterns, but I've discovered the real truth: I'm a lazy dresser! I wear the same things because I'm in a hurry and my brain latches on to what's easy. There's nothing wrong with having favorites, but I need to push myself to take the time for careful dressing. Otherwise, I'm just making clothes for no reason, which is pretty wasteful.

You can see my daily outfit posts on Instagram. I've also created a Pinterest board called My Closet, with photos and links to all of the garments I've blogged over the years. If you see something on IG and want more info, check out My Closet to find it. A Pinterest board seemed like the fastest way to display everything in one place. It's updated all the way back through 2015, two more years of blog entries to go!

Have you learned any lessons so far during MMM?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sleeveless Willow Wrap Dress

A slightly modified oldie-but-goodie today! This is my fourth iteration of the Love Notions Willow Top/Dress and maybe my favorite to date!

Just to clarify, the Willow is two different patterns. Find the dress here, the top here, or the bundle here. I first made the dress almost two years ago as part of the Momiform Makeover tour. I've worn that dress a lot and decided to make another for Easter this year. Y'know, about three days beforehand haha!

Anytime you're sewing on a tight deadline, it's good to use a pattern and fabric combination you've used before. My first dress was a poly ITY knit, and so is this one (except the black band, which is cotton/Lycra). For the life of me, I can't remember where it's from (it's pre-Sewist's Swatch Book, clearly!). Same size (small). The only change is that I wanted it to be sleeveless. The pattern actually does not include a sleeveless version, so I pulled out my Laundry Day Tee, which is also from Love Notions (free if you join the Facebook group), and traced the sleeveless armhole from that pattern onto my Willow. It is finished with bands following the instructions from the LDT.

The neckline is the lower option on the pattern, no modesty panel. It's finished with my coverstitch. The rest was constructed on my serger. I ended up taking it in under the arm and down halfway through the skirt. I hesitate to say I need to go down to an XS because I think it fits across my bust, it's just baggy on the sides (mainly the bodice). A wrap dress is not the place for pulling across the bust! I need to compare the pattern pieces to see where the sizing differs between XS and S.

After a few Love Notions patterns, I've concluded that I may not have the right body shape for her sloper. It's a shame, as I love her designs and how easy the pdfs are to use. But I've had weird, head-scratching fit issues each time, ranging from extra fabric at the side seams to a seemingly wrong bust point. I've studied the photos in the LN Facebook group and I feel like the armscyes are perhaps drafted too big. You can't really see evidence of that with this sleeveless dress, but I've felt that way about my other Willows. Luckily, taking the side seams in was all I needed here, but overall I'm hesitant to purchase any more LN patterns in the future. Oddly enough, the back fits me perfectly, and typically I need a narrow shoulder adjustment.

Speaking of buying patterns, I received this one for free during the Momiform Makeover tour. Just throwing that out there in the interest of being transparent!

Have you ever "given up" a pattern company because you felt like you didn't fit their sloper? I'm curious how other people feel about this topic!