Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mother's Day sale on A Sewist's Notebook!

I can't believe it's almost here, but Mother's Day is less than 2 weeks away! If you're a mom and have been wishing for your very own Sewist's Notebook, don't worry, I've got you covered. Drop a subtle (or not-so-subtle) hint to your loved ones, because now through Mother's Day you can save 10% with the code MOM10.

Grab the original version for yourself, or 110 Creations for Kids to help inspire your kiddo projects. After all, you wouldn't have Mother's Day without them!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wardrobe Architect: sewing plans

It feels nice to have a plan. Most of the time, I buy fabric I like and then pair it with a pattern and make a garment. That's been my MO for two years, and the result is a handmade wardrobe of randomness. Bird t-shirts, mustard polka-dot cardigans, floral wrap dresses...all things I like, but they aren't part of any cohesive whole. The Wardrobe Architect series has pushed me to narrow my focus, both in terms of fabric and patterns/silhouettes. Once I worked out my color scheme for a spring wardrobe I decided I wasn't going to buy any more fabric unless it fit with my colors. That might sound restrictive, but surprisingly it's been liberating! Instead of lusting after beautiful fabrics and trying to make them work into my life, I can appreciate their beauty and move on.

A few weeks ago, I made a list of garments that fit into the color palette and silhouettes of my ideal spring wardrobe. I noted down anything that I already owned that worked, and from there it was easy to find the holes.

This page is from my Fashionary (affiliate link) and it probably looks cray-cray, but to me it makes sense! Now before you decide that I must be a sewing superstar to make all these garments, there are a few items that I just wrote "buy". Additionally, this is an IDEAL wardrobe...I fully expect NOT to "finish" it. However, I could see this being a spring/summer wardrobe for at least next year as well, which gives me plenty of time to tweak and perfect it.

Once I had a written list, it was time to sketch. Even though I'm the creator of a notebook specifically for project-planning, I do still use my Fashionary for sketching sometimes. Especially if I don't even have an exact fabric in mind and just want to "see" it first.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, the Wardrobe Architect series has been a huge influence on my sewing. I have a focus and with that, projects feel meaningful. The money I spend feels purposeful, and now the purpose isn't only "sewing" (although that has its merits, don't get me wrong!). Oh, and one other little thing, I LOVE THE CLOTHES! And if you love the clothing you're wearing, you love the way you feel, you love the day just a bit more. Who wouldn't want that?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Perfect Slouchy Tank

Tuesday I reviewed the book Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit, which explains all about the rub-off method (aka copying) of making patterns. Inspired by what I had read, I decided to get off my butt and finally make a pattern for my most favoritist tank top. Actually, my two most favorites, but one of them went MIA when it was time for the photoshoot,'s one.

I bought these two knit tanks...when I was in college? I think. I remember grabbing them on the way to the checkout and being super happy because they were like, $3 a piece. I have worn these two shirts far more than Old Navy ever intended them to be worn. There was just one little thing...they were too low-cut. Whomp whomp. I have to wear another, more fitted tank underneath, or I feel a bit too exposed. Even the college version of myself felt that way (I'm a prude).

So what do you do when you can sew? You draft your own pattern and raise the neckline! I call this pattern the Perfect Slouchy Tank.

I figure this was a good first-time copying project because the design is SO simple. Two pieces, that's it. Oh, sorry, three pieces with the pocket (the rogue shirt has a pocket, promise). It probably took longer to write the construction steps than it did to draft the pattern.

The inspiration tanks have some strange finishing techniques that I fully intended to copy. For example, the neckline and armholes are bound, and then the binding is cut, causing it to curl at the edges:

The side seams (and hem) are done with a flatlock stitch:

I DID copy the flatlocking, I did NOT cut my bindings. Once they were on there...I couldn't bring myself to do it. I spent forever coverstitching them on, and they looked so nice it seemed a shame to cut them. I also coverstitched the hem instead of flatlocking it. I'm not sure my machine could replicate that anyway.

I had some trouble flatlocking so it doesn't look as close to the inspiration. Basically, my tension was too high (even though it was at the recommended level per my manual) and the thread kept breaking. Decreased tension led to the flatlocking not working. Couldn't win.

Despite not being exact copies, I'm crazy about these two new shirts. The raised neckline is perfect. The fabrics are super soft drapey rayon knits (a b*tch to sew but oh so dreamy to wear!). I even fulfilled a few of my Wardrobe Architect capsule collection requirements (loose tops in blue).

I used hoarded scraps of two of my all-time favorite fabrics (the tribal knit and the feathers) as well as some of the endless yardage of blue knit from my stash (courtesy of a bargain lot from Girl Charlee). What's not to love about these tops!? Oh, here's one thing. Let's talk about the tribal knit version.

Do you see what I see? Perhaps it's a sewist thing to even notice...but I promise I tried really hard to avoid boob headlights. I had barely any fabric (hence why the back of the shirt is solid blue) and I could only shift my pattern piece up or down a little bit. I added the pocket to try distracting from the headlight look and I think it helps a little.

What do you think? I see myself living in these two tops this summer and I can't wait! These were actually supposed to be wearable muslins to test the pattern, I wanna make another in this knit which is waiting in my stash.

Speaking of awesome tank tops, the Rio Racerback Tank and Dress pattern is now available from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop! Save 15% today only on this super cute design. This pattern might even inspire me to start sewing for AB again!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit

I've gone full circle with patternmaking.

Okay, maybe I've made ONE circle, I'm sure there are more loops to follow. When I first started learning how to sew, I placed little value in patterns. I had limited funds and skills and decide to follow tutorials on Pinterest as much as possible to teach myself. I mean seriously, how easy does Pinterest make EVERYTHING look? I also tried drafting my own patterns. I'm stubborn, so it took a couple of failed projects before I "broke down" and bought a commercial pattern, which of course worked fine and was way better than the terrors I was constructing (need an example?).

Almost two years later, I'm back into drafting my own patterns (thus the full circle). For a looooong time, I've had the book Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit (affiliate link) on my Amazon wish list. My parents were gracious enough to buy it for me for my birthday in February, and I finished it up a week or two ago.

This book is written by Stephanie Lincecum, who is a costume designer as well as an instructor on Craftsy. I think the title alone is a tad misleading, as you won't be patternmaking starting from scratch. This book is for anyone who wants to copy garments they already own. If you have clothing that fits well, why not copy it? I have a ton of RTW clothing that I adore either as-is, or love except for X, Y, Z reason.

After going over basics like tools, measurements, and knits vs. wovens, the book dives into patterning skirts, dresses, blouses, and even handbags. The step-by-step directions are very well-written and managed to be succinct without leaving things out. I wouldn't say I'm a visual learner per se, but a few times I found myself wishing there was a photo or diagram to explain the text further. I like a good combination of words and photos and sometimes there weren't as many pictures as I'd like.

After explaining all the details of copying a particular garment, Stephanie shows you how to alter your pattern to change up the look. She also touches on some minor fitting adjustments, though it's not the emphasis of the book. The point is to start with a garment that fits well in the first place.

It probably wasn't necessary in a book about patterning, but Stephanie also goes into detail about actual construction of garments. Don't skip these parts--she's not an experienced costume designer for nothing! There are great tips for efficient sewing that will make you say "why didn't I think of that?"

The biggest drawback to the book is a lack of information about pants. I got to the end and was like "am I missing something...pants!" There isn't even an explanation for why the topic wasn't addressed. I think it's cool that handbags are included, but I would have gladly given that up for a chapter about pants instead. Perhaps it's too complicated?

I learned a lot from this book, but possibly the most important thing it did was to get me to TRY. I have quite a few items in my closet that I've been dying to copy, and I kept making excuses and putting it off. Basically, I was afraid of failing. This book showed me that it can be done, and how to do it properly. Thursday I'll be showing off the results of what I've learned, with my first true rub-off-self-drafted-altered-RTW design! See you then :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Sewist's Notebook free download and giveaway!

When Sarai at Colette Patterns introduced her Wardrobe Architect series back in January, I was thrilled. I've loved following along with the posts and exercises, and it's truly helped me to focus my wardrobe and my sewing. Shortly after the series started, I contacted Sarai with the idea for a Sewist's Notebook tie-in. I was SO nervous contacting her--she's kind of a sewing world superstar!--but Sarai was great. I've really been looking forward to sharing our plans with you!

Today, you can hop over to the Coletterie blog for a FREE download of a single page from A Sewist's Notebook. If you've been eyeballing the book but haven't pulled the trigger yet, I encourage you to try this download and give a whirl!

AND two lucky people will win a free copy! How great is that? Go here for all the details!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Introducing 110 Creations for Kids!

When I originally published 110 Creations: A Sewist's Notebook, my primary intent was for sketching women's clothing. I left a few pages blank at the end and suggested that these were for planning clothes for children or men. However, I quickly found myself running out of space, and without a croquis my sketches were...less than stellar (okay, they were terrible)! Necessity is the mother of invention, and today I'm thrilled to officially announce the release of 110 Creations for Kids!

Designed with moms and grandmothers in mind, 110 Creations for Kids features 50 pages each for sketching girl's and boy's clothes.

Of course, this version of A Sewist's Notebook keeps all the things I love about the original--the pattern catalogue, the needle change record, and the measurement charts. I've included multiple diagrams for measurements so you can update them as your child grows, or if you sew for more than one child there's lots of room.

I added plenty of cute touches to get your kid-creation juices flowing, and I'm super proud of how this book turned out. Imagine filling it with clothes as your child grows, and being able to look back over the handmade wardrobe you've lovingly created!

110 Creations for Kids: A Sewist's Notebook is available in spiral bound, 8.5 inch x 11 inch format. You can order a copy here. To read more about the original Sewist's Notebook, check out my About the Book page.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Me Made May '14

It's that time again!

Hosted by the fabulous Zoe, you can read all about Me Made May (and make your pledge) here. Last year I pledged to wear one item of me-made clothing every day during the month of May. With a few sketchy entries (sweatpants, underwear) I did it!

This year, my pledge is the same.

I, Beth, of 110 Creations, sign up as a participant in Me-Made-May '14. I endeavor to wear one piece of handmade clothing every day, with no repeats, for each day during the duration of May 2014.

I've been brainstorming how to make this year different from last year, and I haven't come up with anything. Anything attainable, that is. I don't have enough skirts/pants to try wearing two items each day. I certainly hope that I won't resort to sweatpants in order to meet my goals!

And now for a bit of business: part of MMM is taking photos every day. Last year I laid my outfit on the floor and took pictures that way, and posted a weekly round-up. Now, I have a tripod and could feasibly take photos IN my clothes, but that requires setting up and taking down a tripod every day.

Thoughts? For MMM do you prefer to see the clothes on people?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Under the Gunn rehash: the finale!

Fresh air! Sunshine! Warmer temperatures! Time to pull out all my dresses and work on my tan. If you're in the southern hemisphere, well, sorry. Just know that we have suffered greatly (in the US anyway) this winter.

Spoilers ahead...

Things I loved:

I must be getting soft in my old age because I loved seeing everyone with their families. It's such a double-edged sword, it can encourage designers or take them off their game. But for people like Shan, who are working FOR their families, I think it helps.

Seeing designers from older seasons always makes me happy.

Shan's sons falling asleep during the fashion show. Ha!


Things I hated:

Seeing the models get their eyebrows waxed. Ewww...

It kind of sucked that we didn't get to spend more time watching the designers build their collections. No home visits. Boo.

Favorite garment(s):

Dying for Sam's kimono top. Online it looks like a sweater knit?

Everything Shan made. Screw the judges.

Least favorite garment:

I really disliked Asha's striped textile. It looked like it was meant for pillows. Y'know, the extra ones you keep on the bed and throw on the floor every night.

I didn't understand the story behind Oscar's collection. Women? That's the story? Oh my...I sound like one of the judges. #fashionsnob

Best line of the night:

"I was getting 1920s/40s circus couture." --Neil Patrick Harris

The final runway show was good, I was surprised at the quality of the clothing. I have mixed feelings about Oscar winning. He has the skills, but sometimes he's all over the place. He IS the only one who thought about making his collection a SHOW, which I do think is important for a finale. I was just sort of meh on his stuff because it didn't feel cohesive to me. I still think "his woman" is 40, which isn't a big deal except for how PR has handle that kind of thing before.

I loved Sam's clothes, but it was certainly very RTW. I think Rachel Roy was right, if he pushes himself out of that every now and then, he may be surprised to find that he likes it.

One thing I do NOT have mixed feelings about: Nick winning as a mentor. How 'bout them apples, Anya and Mondo?

So that wraps up the first season of Under the Gunn. I'm sure I'll watch if there's another...the quality of these kinds of shows is more dependent on the designers than on the format of the show. Although I can't help but feel like these guys were the rejects from PR. Speaking of PR, come back soon, okay?!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Shearwater Kaftan

Last week I blogged my Coastal Breeze dress from Make It Perfect. The second pattern that designer Toni Coward sent me is the Shearwater Kaftan. Believe it or not, I pinned this pattern more than a year ago, and didn't realize I'd been talking to its designer until I dug deeper into her shop! Ever since I saw the photo of it online, I've been in love with the easy-breeziness of this top.

Most of the blouses I wear are knit fabrics, but I've been making an effort to sew more woven fabrics lately. This one is perfect for me because it's loose and very wearable. It's designed with long sleeves that roll up and fasten with tabs.

There is a park in town that has a free splash pad for kids, and I plan on taking AB there a lot this summer. I think this kaftan will be absolutely perfect to throw on over a swimsuit or a tank top, and if it gets a little cooler I just have to roll down the sleeves. Very versatile, very fun, yet still stylish.

You'll forgive the wrinkles in my version if I tell you it's linen, right? 

As a matter of fact, it's a linen/bamboo blend, from The Fabric Fairy. When I ordered this fabric, I was hoping it was more of a bottomweight and thought I might make a skirt. But when it arrived I saw that it was very sheer and I was stumped on what to do with it. A few days later I heard from Toni, revisited the Kaftan, and it was a perfect pattern-fabric love story.

I made a muslin and from that decided to add two darts to the back bodice.  I probably could have done without if the fabric had more drape, but this linen is a bit stiff, which would have caused gaping in the back without the darts. The Internet tells me I can wash the fabric in hot water and it will soften over time, so I'll probably keep doing that. The darts restrict my movement a teeny bit (or maybe it was my trouble with easing in the sleeves) but in a softer fabric (voile, double gauze) I don't think you'd have these kinds of troubles.

The neckline is finished with bias binding (I actually had enough fabric to make my own bias tape!) and the front slit is finished with a small facing. The pattern does come with two length options for the slit.

I used French seams for the sides, the armscythe, and the sleeves. Because the shirt is meant to have the sleeves rolled, you want to carefully choose an attractive seam finish for the sleeves.

Button on the exterior sleeve for the sleeve tab.

Rolled up and fastened with the sleeve tab.

And how about an adorable photo outtake?

He's the sweetest <3

And if you think this pattern is cute, wait until you see the girls' version! Released last week, it's available in an instant download PDF in two size ranges (0-5 and 6-10). Adorable!

Thanks again to Toni for sending me both the Shearwater Kaftan and Coastal Breeze Dress patterns. It was great partnering up and chatting with her! You can read her review of my book, 110 Creations: A Sewist's Notebook, coming up soon on her blog.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What to bring to a sewing party?

Next weekend I'm signed up for a "Sewcial" event at a fabric shop about an hour away from me. About 10-15 people show up and sew for 3 hours. I've never done anything like this and I'm pretty darn excited! I've never sewed for 3 hours at once without a toddler or doggie interrupting me. So now the hard part: deciding what to sew!

You know me and my love for knits. But anyone who owns a Brother 1034d (affiliate link) knows that its volume is slightly below "motorcycle". I figure that it would be more polite to bring my regular ole (quiet) sewing machine, which means no knits. Once you go serger, you never go back. I also don't want to sew anything that requires in-the-moment fitting. I doubt these ladies want me sewing in my underwear.

So here are my choices:

New Look 6216, the pants, with a lovely lightweight non-stretch denim I got last week from Fabric Mart. With Me-Made-May coming up, I definitely need these done ASAP. I've compared the flat pattern to another pants pattern that fits well and have noted any adjustments. There's still a small risk in terms of fit because I haven't made a muslin.

If you follow me on Instagram then you've seen this pattern, a vintage Butterick. My lovely and sweet reader Candace sent this to me because she knew I'd been searching for a good jumpsuit. I have some black linen for this one and I've already made a muslin, which fit almost perfectly.

Last but not least, a few possibilities for Easter dresses for AB. I've made these patterns before (here and here). But for both of these I need more/contrast/lining fabric and I'm trying to impose a fast on myself for the rest of the month. I'd either have to break my fast or use something "just okay" from my stash. Or maybe just be more creative! Oh, the other downside to this one is that Easter is 2 days after the event, which is sort of cutting it close.

(Speaking of a fast: someone tell me that I don't need to pre-order the bundle of the new Colette book on knits plus the two knit patterns being released next week. Haaaaaaalp! I want but probably don't need or maybe I do need?!)

What do you think of these patterns? I plan to have whatever I choose cut before I go, so I'll need to get on that next week. Have you ever gone to an event like this? Want to take bets on the one essential item I'll forget to bring?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Restyled spring frock

Remember my disappointing potential Easter dress from a few weeks ago? A few people mentioned some styling options that would address my concerns. Today I'm posting an update so we can see what worked!

Original styling:

If you recall, my beef with this dress is that the waistline hits in the wrong place on my body, and there is a lot of volume in the bodice. The above photos show it with no accessories, with a medium-sized belt, and with a jacket. I decided to hunt for a wider belt and a shorter jacket. Here's what I came up with!

New styling:

What do you think? The wider belt definitely helps. It covers up the elastic waist (which hits too high) as well as fitting over my actual waist. By the way, I bought this belt at Goodwill for $1, after looking at something similar at Target for $15. It's sort of a deep plum color. It's completely perfect for this dress and I was thrilled to nab it for a buck!

The first jacket was a bit too long. This new jacket is a one that I've had for a while and is the closest thing I own to a cropped style. However, it's really too casual for this type of dress, so the first jacket is the lesser of two evils.

Of all these looks, I think my favorite is the wide belt and no jacket. The belt sort of saves this whole project for me. It controls the volume nicely without looking forced. It's especially noticeable from the back.

I hope by the time Easter rolls around it will be warm enough to go with a sleeveless dress. Either way, I'm happy to find a solution for some of the problems with this garment.


By the way, if you're looking for a tutorial on using seam binding on a hem, Angela Wolf posted one the day after I originally blogged this dress. Good to know I was doing it right, because I was kind of winging it!

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