Thursday, September 21, 2017

Aztec Print Linen Dress: Vogue 9253

I'm pretty sure Vogue 9253 was declared The Dress of summer 2017, right? It was absolutely everywhere, in part due to the contest that McCall's was having in August. I totally missed the contest until it was over, and just happened to coincidentally be working on the pattern at the same time. Mine might be a bit unrecognizable though, since I made so many changes! I have a lot of notes about alterations, so scroll to the end if you want to read those.

Vogue 9253

The idea for this dress started when I saw a similar one on TV. I put out a request on IG for someone to find me a pattern like the dress I saw. My husband has a work event for us to attend this weekend and it's basically my only chance to dress up (think wedding attire). I wanted to make a dress and ended up purchasing Vogue 9253 and McCall's 7315.

The McCall's pattern had the handkerchief hem and was sleeveless, like my inspiration dress; the Vogue pattern had the deep V neckline. I had recently purchased this amazing black and white print linen from The Fabric Store and was desperate to use it before summer was over. Isn't it dreamy?

Vogue 9253

After lots of waffling, I decided on the Vogue pattern. There are so many beautiful ones on IG, check out the hashtag if you don't believe me!

I didn't have enough fabric to completely match up the back, but it's close enough for me. The skirt does match well though, considering.

Sewing the dress is pretty straightforward. There are pleats in the front bodice and skirt, and darts in the back. A regular zipper is inserted and there are double-turned hems.

Vogue 9253


I made a quick muslin bodice of the smallest size (Vogue patterns always run large for me) and it fit well with letting out the side seams just a touch. I did find the sleeves to be overwhelmingly long. I did not want the skirt to be midi length (I hate that length and I did not have enough fabric anyway). I made the following changes to my paper pattern before cutting:
  • Removed 6" from the skirt (really!). I'm 5'4" and I estimated that would put it close to knee length (see unhemmed photo below). I took out 3" at the L/S line and 3" somewhere in the lower portion.
  • Shortened sleeves 8" (really!).
  • Reduced SA under the arms, tapering to the waist, to 1/4" (adjusted skirt portion at waistline accordingly).
  • I chose not to make the tie or add pockets.
That left me with this look:

Even after removing all that length from all over, the dress still overwhelmed me. I was drowning in it, and the linen wasn't draping quite enough to make up for the volume. The sleeves felt like wings. I ended up making additional changes:
  • Added back in the SA I removed from the bodice/skirt.
  • Removed 4" more from the skirt hem.
  • Cut off the sleeves and drew in an armscythe (used the above McCall's pattern). Finished the armholes with bias tape.
After those changes, I no longer feel like the dress is swallowing me. It's cute and fun. The "make it work" fixes are not perfect, the skirt now hangs in a weird way and the armholes are tight. But going from what I had to this is way better than leaving it wadded up in the WIP pile! A fabric with better drape would have made this project more successful. It also would be amaaaazing in a knit and you could leave out the zipper (I could almost squeeze it on in this woven without a zipper).

Now about that neckline...

I know everyone is thinking the same thing about this pattern. The neckline is SO low, can I change it? Yes, you can. It's as simple as putting the front bodice pieces RST and sewing them up, OR overlapping it at CF. It does pull the fabric across the front but for me personally it didn't affect fit too drastically. Post three breastfed babies I'd say I fall into the saggy C-cup range these days, for reference (and TMI). I'm wearing a lightly padded bra and I'm still not sure it fits my bust correctly. That could be my fault with sewing the pleats, I'd much rather there was a dart. There are two pleats on each side so getting it all perfectly placed and symmetrical was a challenge.

As drafted, the V-neck cuts all the way beneath the bust to the waist seam. I raised the neckline 2". It's still pretty revealing and my bra is only just hidden. I tried it bra-less and for me it's a no-go (see above saggy reference!). I spent five years with my boobs basically out all the time, nursing babies, so I've gotten much more comfortable with my body over the last few years. I love the way I look in this but it does take confidence to rock this much cleavage. On the flip side, I wouldn't judge anyone for making it more modest. You do you! That's the best part of sewing our own clothes, right? And obviously, you could wear a cami underneath.

Vogue 9253

And by the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I ended up deciding that the dress is a little too summery for our event, and just a little too casual for pairing with my husband's suit. So for now, it'll go in the closet and hopefully come out next summer! Somebody I know have a summer wedding, okay?

Looking for a great way to plan your sewing projects? Save 15% on all versions of A Sewist's Notebook with the code LULU15. Expires today! Click "About the Book" for more info!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Project Runway recap

We're almost to that point in the show where nobody is going to skate through the competition. I don't like the beginning, when you hardly see some designers and it's obvious who is in the top and bottom. During the runway show I actually thought "oh yeah, Batani is still on this show". Not good haha!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: It was nice to see Brandon and Kentaro bonding. They seem like an unlikely pair, their aesthetics are totally different, which is probably why they're getting along. They're not doing the same things so they're not in direct competition.

A two day challenge! Remember the good ole days when they were all that way?

Worst moments: Is there a reason why they didn't use the button bag for deciding who had good and evil? It's annoying when they try to create drama out of nothing. Speaking of something out of nothing, Margarita was borderline offensive in her comments about using a plus size model. She kept going on and on and on about making clothes that helped women feel beautiful, but said she had no experience designing for plus sized. Soooo who exactly is she "helping" to feel beautiful? Stick-thin models who look beautiful for a living?

This is probably an unpopular thing to say, but it unsettled me how Tim's critique of Aaron's look sent him wildly off the rails. I get that his muslin was sort of nutso, but if he had finished that look I'm certain he would have stayed instead of Claire. I know that's Aaron's fault, and not Tim's, but I hope Tim at least mentioned to the judges what happened.

See all the looks here.

Best looks: Kenya's was well done. That fabric looked like a total nightmare but somehow she managed to fit it perfectly. I loved Margarita's black dress. After all her rude whining about her plus sized model she pulled off a great design. I'm still mystified how Michael managed to perfectly drape his lace dress without the model even there for a whole day! I also was surprised to like Shawn's quite a bit.

Worst looks: I wasn't that into Brandon's straight jacket. If you recall, I already used that term for one of his designs previously. He's innovative, I'll give him that, but I fail to see how his designs are tying into the challenges. He's kind of doing his own thing and since it's so different he's getting recognized.

Samantha is only making Halloween costumes. Why has it taken so long for everyone else to see that?

Aaron. Oh Aaron. I was surprised how little the judges said about it, but I think everyone knew that it was SO ridiculously bad, there wasn't a need to tear it down. Pink toilet paper piñata with unfinished seams? Yeah, you're going home.

I also didn't like Ayana's. Tim told her the changing colors were awkward but she said that was what she wanted, then in her runway voice-over she said she didn't know what happened on the bottom??

Best quote: "It looks like...curry powder evil." --Kentaro

It was probably time for Aaron to go home, he's likely the kind of person who does well with more time to develop and execute his wild ideas. Plus he needs to touch up his pink hair and it was making me crazy haha! I'm happy to see Brandon doing well since he's so humble about it, but I'm tired of the same sorts of looks from him. Or maybe I'm annoyed because his clothes aren't beautiful.

Next week: Drama, and did I spy Georgina Chapman?!?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Robert Kaufman Chambray Skirt

Is there still a little summer left out there?

Many moons ago, I wrote a tutorial for the Sew Mama Sew blog and they compensated me with a gift certificate to Fabric Depot. This was a new-to-me retailer, and I enjoyed browsing their apparel fabrics. If you've read even one post on this blog, you know I'm a knit #fangurl, but Fabric Depot has a lot of great wovens as well. One of the fabrics I ended up with was a gorgeous Robert Kaufman jacquard chambray. I originally wanted to make a pair of shorts, but the more I thought about breaking up the aztec print, the more the fabric spoke to me and said "skirt".

My husband and I had a retirement party to attend a few weeks ago, and after I finished this tie-knot Santa Fe hack, I decided to tackle a skirt as a date night companion piece. I started with the Allegro Skirt/Pants Pattern from Love Notions. It's definitely supposed to have more ease than this...but I wanted a pencil skirt look. With an elastic waistband. And a woven.

I hacked and cut and sewed and resewed this poor thing until it looked how I wanted. There isn't really the proper amount of ease for good movement. There aren't any darts, just the elastic waistband for shaping. It's short. It's 100% not useful for my normal mom life.

But darn it if I don't love the thing. I felt great at the party, kid-less, not holding a diaper bag and not worrying about carrying or chasing anyone. I don't need a ton of dress up clothes in my closet, but this one will certainly stay. And bonus, you get to see last week's halter lace bra! It also falls into that fun-but-not-practical arena.

After all my hacking, the skirt ended up with an almost paperbag waist. Presumably I could tuck in my shirt to show that off, but I haven't found the right top for that look (or those abs I misplaced three kids ago...).

Have you ever hacked a pattern into a near-unrecognizable state?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Project Runway recap

Filming this show must be so crazy, straight off the runway and elimination to the next challenge! What are the chances that they actually slept on top of the Empire State Building? That can't be real, right?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: It was pretty cool to see the inside of the Empire State Building with the lights turned low. It would be fun to be the only ones there and feel like you have the place to yourself.

Worst moments: Shawn and Claire are wearing me out. In the first episode there was a teaser about someone being accused of cheating...I'm beginning to think it might revolve around the twins doing each other's work? There are some serious lines being crossed here. It's one thing if it's a team challenge, but they're contributing significantly to each other's garments.

See all the final looks here.

Best looks: I liked Batani's simple dress, but other than that, Michael pretty much ran away with it. If you liked it too, it can be your's for only $200!

Worst looks: Most of the rest were bad. They ranged from super boring to poorly made to poorly designed (sleeping in a romper? really??). Deyonte's was certainly the worst, he should have known that being on the bottom two times in a row leads to elimination.

Best quote: "In other words, we're worried that if we put a lump of coal up your behind, that it'd come out as a diamond." --Tim

This was a tricky challenge. At first it didn't seem too hard, but sleepwear probably was new to all of the designers, plus they didn't get to choose their own fabrics. Plus plus they had to embellish or print them. If I were Heidi I would have been disappointed by what was shown. By the way, why wasn't there a dossier of Heidi's collection for them to review? Maybe there was and we just didn't see it.

Next week: Good vs. evil vs. will they all be costumes?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Simplicity 8228 Halter Bra

Under every great outfit there should be the right undergarments. The journey towards this bra started with a dress, Vogue 9253. The Vogue dress was THE dress of the summer, it was all over IG. Every few years my husband has a work event that requires dressing up, and I decided the Vogue dress would be a fun item to wear. The problem? The super low cut (although completely changeable) and finding the right bra to go with it. Enter Simplicity 8228, a stretch lace halter bra pattern from Madalynne.

My idea was solid, but it turned out that the halter straps looked pretty dumb with my Vogue dress. The dress needs some finishing, so I haven't blogged it yet, but take my word for it, it's not going to work with this bra after all. Whomp whomp. I should have made the straps longer and more like a regular bra, rather than a halter. Live and learn! Additionally, it turns out I'm probably not wearing the Vogue dress to our event anyway. It came out a bit too summery. ANYWAY. Enough about the best laid plans.

The bra itself turned out great, it was not a bad sew (SA is 1/4" though, ugh) and gah it's SO pretty! The pattern called for 8" wide stretch lace, but I already have this 5" on hand (from Sew Sassy Fabrics) and made it work. I'm not sure why exactly 8" was chosen, except perhaps to cover the larger sizes. Speaking of sizing, please follow the directions in the pattern. The sizes weren't close to RTW or even other bra patterns I've sewn before, but I followed the directions and the fit is perfect (you'll have to take my word for it!). It's been close to a month since I weaned my last baby, so my body is still adjusting a little. Or maybe it's my head that's adjusting. In either case, it's nice to have such a beautiful garment to help boost your confidence.

The bra is lined with a stretch mesh that was in my stash, I can't at all recall where it's from but I think it was Jo-Ann's or Girl Charlee. I've never used it before but it ended up being just what I needed for this pattern. I already had clear elastic left over from the kit I bought from Tailor Made Shop (used for this bra), and the black picot elastic (used on the underarms) was from a local shop and also already in my stash. The brown channeling was upcycled from an old bra, which is why it doesn't match haha.

Did you catch that? Everything was already in my stash! The pattern was the only thing I bought, and of course it was on sale.

A few notes about the pattern: If you're wondering why the seams are exposed on the inside of the cups, it's because the lining is meant to be spray-basted to the lace and then sewn as one. I didn't have any spray adhesive so I skipped that part, but I still sewed the pieces as one. The seam allowance is then topstitched down. I think it would have been a neater finish to sew them separately and then place WST, but it would have been trickier to topstitch in that case, and would have required more steps.

Lastly, I don't think there was a step for finishing the bottom of the band. I mentioned the spray adhesive but that's not good enough for me to keep the lining and the lace together at the bottom. You could zig-zag clear elastic here but I was running low, so I just zig-zagged the two together and it worked fine.

I also did not use a hook and eye closure at the back #lazy and it slips over my head just fine.

Our weather has turned crisp and fall-like, but if we get another hot day out of the blue I'll be pairing the bra with my maroon backless top. And if not now, then next summer for sure!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Project Runway recap

A little bit less twin drama this week, and we still had an entertaining episode. Could it be that *gasp* some of us are tuning in for the actual fashion?? There was a lot of fashion to see this week, that's for sure!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moment: I quite enjoyed the little snippet we saw of the ballet dancers turned hip-hop. I thought that was a great introduction to a challenge about innovation.

Worst moment: Deyonte sewing over his finger was so cringe-worthy. I had to look away. That has never happened to me (yet) but I did slam my finger in a door this weekend. So, samesies (that's sarcasm!).

See all the looks here.

Best looks: I just about lost my mind when I saw Amy's jumpsuit-turned-dress. LOST IT. I struggle to understand why she isn't getting any recognition from the judges. I also thought Aaron's crazy asymmetrical look was interesting and deserved some attention too, as did Kenya's chevron piece. I didn't hate Kentaro's as much as the judges, I like his understated aesthetic. And actually, the more I look back through the safe designers, the more I see things I really like.

Worst looks: I didn't really like Batani's butterfly look. I was with Zac, the taste was borderline. I'm a little on the fence about Brandon's winning design. It was interesting, but it looked like a straight jacket, which is the opposite of movement. Perhaps that was the point? Deconstructed restriction? Claire's red...dress? was terrible, especially looking back at still photos. And let's not forget Deyonte's yellow disaster and Kudzanai's Pepto Bismal parrot. That makes it sound like I hated them all. I didn't, and I think these designers are doing a lot, but some of them are hiding among the crowd right now.

Best quote: "It actually doesn't suck, I'm wildly surprised." --Aaron

I'm glad Kentaro didn't go home on what amounted to a misunderstanding with translation. I'm sure he would have added some innovation if he had understood that was a requirement. Kudzanai's look was pretty bad, so I think he probably should have seen his elimination coming. I think there were some better designs that deserved the top more than Batani, and I wonder if she was included just because she was essentially plugging the movie they were pitching.

Next week: Something that involves Heidi doing critiques, which is always fun to watch!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Summer of Basics

A few months ago, I heard about the Summer of Basics via IG (I think Jen from Grainline). A local friend was participating and she gave me a push into trying it, too. The concept was super simple; make three basic pieces in three months. There is a contest happening as well, with some great prizes. Let's take a look at my entry!

It wasn't required to create a whole outfit, but I decided that would be the most fun. I started with a black V-neck t-shirt (a basic I desperately needed) and from there decided on grey shorts, and a black/grey cardigan. It was tricky to get the color scheme just how I wanted it, but it helped that the fabric I used for the cardigan had some texture to it, rather than being a more flat-looking solid.

I can't tell you how many times I've worn this exact outfit! And since the pieces are basic, they work with the rest of my wardrobe too. The linen shorts have been high in the rotation and the merino t-shirt is possibly my favorite garment ever. I was surprised how much fun I had planning a complete outfit. I absolutely flew through making these items because I was so excited to see them all together.

Top: V-neck Union St. Tee from Hey June Patterns. Black merino knit from The Fabric Store.
Shorts: Allegro Shorts from Love Notions Patterns. Silver linen from The Fabric Store.
Cardigan: Self-drafted pattern. Salt and pepper sweater knit from Urban Rag Trader.
Necklace: My new favorite thing, from Layered and Long on Etsy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Project Runway recap

Every year, I say the same thing: Does anybody actually like the unconventional challenge??? Hate it. I think there should be a big prize and no elimination. Although having the designers work in teams was probably to their advantage with these particular materials.

Spoilers ahead...

Best moment: Considering this was a team challenge on top of an unconventional challenge, I think the contestants kept it together pretty well. Nobody lost their temper or got overly concerned about themselves vs. the team. Is it possible that these designers don't have raging tempers?

Worst moment: I thought the judging and the critiques of Team Tsunami got pretty ugly. Sentell did nothing but try to help the twins and it bit him in the butt. Can you imagine if he hadn't finished Shawn's look for her? The team would have been in the bottom no matter what, but she would've been out for not finishing. She knew she struggled but she let Sentell take the fall. I don't see how Shawn can stay around much longer.

See all the looks here.

Best look: Deyonte's dress with the slits had a big wow factor, as did the braiding on Samantha's top. Other than that I didn't care for hardly any of these looks. Because they were made of garbage.

Worst look: I guess Sentell's was the most boring. But I call foul on a lot of other designs because THEY WERE MADE OF FABRIC. Last time I checked, vinyl is fabric. Team Ballin' on a Budget used that orange vinyl in their entire collection. How did they get away with that??

Best quote: "Some of these pieces still look like garbage!" --Heidi (shhhh...Heidi. It all looks like garbage.)

Next week: Dance as inspiration.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Project Runway recap

Project Runway is back! It feels like forever since the show has been on TV. Looks like a good batch of  contestants this year!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moment: Hands down, it was the introduction of the models. Real people! Imagine that! And a shout out to Ashley from last season, who laid the foundation for this year's changes. Not only are a variety of sizes being introduced, but they're also letting the models *gasp* speak and have ideas. I enjoyed the humanizing and I'm interested to see how it plays out to allow them a more vocal role.

Worst moment: The twins were interesting at first, but once Amy pointed out their weird way of speaking, I couldn't un-hear it. That's going to get annoying. I also thought they were super snooty to say "we dressed Katy Perry" as one of the first things out of their mouths. To me, that kind of desperate self-promotion shows some insecurities.

See all the looks here.

Best look: I was kind of amazed, this was a great show. Nobody fell flat on their face. I was very surprised that Brandon pulled out not only a finished look, but one that worked! That poor guy looked terrified from the second he was on screen.

Aaron's tuxedo reversal was really interesting and clever. My favorite was Kentaro's black and white piano-inspired look. Crazy about it!

Worst look: Shawn's top was interesting but those shorts...all the side eye. They looked cheap and trashy. Batani's was just terrible. The knit was so casual and combined with lace appliqués and inexplicable pink it made no sense. And she LIED to Heidi! I can't believe she was allowed to stay after that. Samantha's LBD was boring and forgettable and I don't think it's right that she is safe, and someone with a clear vision (even a coo coo one like Cha Cha's) is sent home.

Sentell's dinosaur potato sack was one of the ugliest things I've ever seen.

I know Deyonte was the winner and his dress was pretty, but I honestly thought he was in the bottom. The print was doing most of the heavy lifting and the silhouette wasn't anything new. I thought the judges were going to say that it looked like something you could get at JCPenny.

Best quote: "I don't want to look old, covered up...or like I'm a mom." --Katie, Samantha's model

I could not be more relieved that the first challenge was 100% fair and a great way to start. Red carpet, large budget, let's see what you can do. I think there are some interesting points of view here and the competition is going to be tough. I'm kind of dreading the eventual break up of the twins, or, even worse, an undeserved head to head in the finale for maximum drama. I'm not sure Shawn will be able to hang the whole time compared to her sister.

Next week: Unconventional materials. Groan.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tie-front Santa Fe Top Tutorial

My favorite kind of clothing is something simple, with a fun twist. Today I mean that quite literally, as I'm sharing my tutorial for a tie-front top using the Santa Fe pattern from Hey June!

I've seen these tie-front tops all over Pinterest, and actually Hey June already has a pattern for a version in a woven fabric. But I wanted one in a knit, and didn't feel like purchasing another pattern for this feature. I figured it would be easy enough to do with any pattern that has a center front seam. I chose the Santa Fe because in addition to the seam I needed, it has extra ease due to the swing hemline. The ease is needed so you can tie the top without it being too tight.

My previous Santa Fe, you can see the swing hem

To start, lay out your pattern piece with extra paper on top or below (I used Swedish tracing paper from Amazon). Line up the straight edge of the center front seam and the edge of the paper. I like to do this on top of my cutting mat so I can use the lines.

I made a complete guesstimate as to how long of a tie I needed. I marked 5" down from the end of the original pattern piece. Spoiler alert: this amount was perfect.

Using a curved ruler (mine are from a great little kit I ordered on Amazon...can you tell I have Prime?) I sketched out a tie shape that ended at my 5" mark.

You can see the size, roughly, of my tie using the grid beneath. Each square is 1". Using a second ruler I blended the curve up to the original hemline.

Here is my completed pattern piece.

The last step is to mark a point on the front of the pattern piece where you will stop stitching the center front seam. Again, I guesstimated at 5" up from the hemline.

Mark this place on your fabric. You MUST sew this center front seam with a straight stitch on your sewing machine to ensure the split for the tie works correctly.

Complete the top as instructed, except that you end your center front stitching at the mark mentioned above, and you DO NOT HEM. If you can find a person who has hemmed a Santa Fe I'll give you a dollar...even the designer for Hey June has admitted that her samples are not hemmed! I have washed this shirt (made from a rayon knit from Raspberry Creek) a few times and not run into any issues with distortion. Just be sure to secure your stitches in the center front with some good backstitching.

I've just about exhausted my drapey knits in my stash, otherwise I would have made a few more of these! Proceed at your own risk with something more stable like jersey or cotton/lycra. They'll probably turn out fine but the look will be slightly different.

Have you jumped onto the tie front trend?

This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

UFO Manila Leggings

I rarely end up with UFOs (unfinished objects) since I don't work on more than one project at a time. I do have a pile of cut-but-not-sewn kids' clothes, or never-getting-to-this repairs, but there are very few things in the just-didn't-finish stack. These leggings were one of those, and I'm so glad they're done!

I started these two and a half years ago (!!) but they were abandoned due to fit issues. These are the Manila leggings, an old Seamwork Magazine pattern. I was pregnant when I worked on these, so when the fit issues occurred I set them aside to be finished postpartum. Except postpartum only lasted four months and then I was pregnant again haha! So now, here I am again, but one year past my last baby and not planning on any more.

I had an afternoon to myself and without anything pressing to do, and with black serger thread already in place I was able to quickly finish these leggings. I basically pinned and cut and resewed wherever I needed to make them fit. They aren't the prettiest any more, due to shortening the rise without cutting a new waistband, but they're functional. They are TIGHT since this fabric (ponte) doesn't have much stretch. They are shorter than drafted, also due to stretch issues and y'know, wanting to get these up my calves.

The petal cuff is cute but the petals do not overlap as much as drafted. I had to shorten the leg, which meant the opening for the cuff is larger than intended. It still works, I think, just don't take this as an example of how it's supposed to look!

We're having an unseasonably cool August so these capri leggings are perfect for quick errands or around the house. This month has been busy with back-to-school (or rather, first time to school!) and we've also been tackling painting projects around the house. This is my newly-painted kitchen, which used to be yellow. So if the blog is a little quiet in the next few weeks, you know why!

Flat-felled seaming

What's the longest you've let a UFO languish, and actually finished it? These would have been tossed long ago, but the embossed ponte is amazing and I couldn't give up on it.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Allegro Linen Shorts

I mentioned the Summer of Basics sewalong in a few previous posts, and so far you've seen two of my three items (black Union St. tee and self-drafted cardigan). Today I'm sharing the third creation, which completes my outfit and total look! (Yes, I was wearing them in last week's post!)

These are the Allegro Shorts from Love Notions. Yeah yeah I know, I previously swore off Love Notions as just not quite fitting me properly, but to be fair, that was only tops. This is the first time I've made bottoms from this designer. There are other patterns out now that are similar, but I was looking for this type of pattern around the time it released, so, sale! I also know from experience that LN pdfs are quick to assemble. The pattern includes two length options for the shorts as well as two skirt options, so plenty of bang for your buck.

I've got a ton of inspiration photos saved on Pinterest. I wanted those sort of lived-in, stylish, but not sloppy shorts. I relentlessly studied the tester photos and took a gamble on size. I should be a size small according to the chart, but I wanted them to be more fitted and cute, so I went down to an XS. I also removed 1" from the inseam, based on measuring some of my favorite RTW shorts. I made a quick muslin and saw that these changes were exactly what I needed.

I also drafted my own back pockets based on a RTW pair. I vastly prefer rounded pockets and I think it makes my butt look better than square ones. Looking at this photo, I think I could stand to bring the pockets closer to center. I assembled the cuff a bit differently than the directions (basically the opposite) so that my seams were enclosed. My final change was to sew the crotch seam as a flat-felled seam, for extra durability.

Now for the fabric...I wavered between a pure linen and a linen blend. Linen blends are so much cheaper. I don't think I've ever worked with 100% linen before so I wasn't positive how it would turn out. I was also looking for a fairly specific grey, not too light and not too dark. I ended up with this grey/silver 100% linen from The Fabric Store. I love it. Hard. I'm so glad I went with all linen, as the fabric feels sturdy but also soft. It wrinkles, sure, but that's part of the charm. You can see above that the wrinkles do distort the fit and pull in weird places, but I've gotten used to it.

I loved how quick these were to sew. I got almost all the way done and realized I needed the proper width elastic, plus drawstring, plus cord stops (optional). I made a trip to Jo-Ann's, hoping to knock out all three of those things at once, but no luck. I left with just the elastic. I ordered drawstring and gold cord stops from two different suppliers on Etsy. They were overseas, and it took a while for the items to arrive. They were stuck in Chicago customs for more than a week. A lack of drawstring did not stop me from wearing my by-then-completed shorts, however! I'm thrilled to say my drawstring color matches perfectly.

Unfortunately, the cord stops did not work out how I'd hoped. I ordered a 4mm drawstring and 4mm stops...I think perhaps I should have gotten stops that were bigger? I tried inserting the drawstring and hot-gluing it to the stops, but they eventually fell off. You can see them peeking out in the photo above from my cardigan photo shoot. Who knows if they would have lasted through the washing machine anyway. It's back to the drawing board on stops, since I desperately want some gold SOMETHING at the end to elevate these shorts just that much more.

I have been wearing the heck out of these shorts this summer! The elastic waistband is comfortable, the rise is low the way I like it (remember, I went down a size, so in "my" size the rise would be a touch higher), and the fabric is cool and soft. The pockets are perfect. I'm sort of sad that I don't need any more shorts because I'd love to make more!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Merino Union St. Tee

If you know me in real life, you know that I'm a bit obsessed with wool. I'm a huge fan of using wool in cloth diapering (specifically from the company Sloomb) and that love has crept over into my wardrobe too. Lately, I've been crushing HARD on all the gorgeous posts from The Fabric Store on their IG. It seems like they're the current "it" fabric source, everybody is sewing with their stuff. I hopped my butt onto their bandwagon and placed my first order a few weeks ago. Today I'm showing off my first garment, a Union St. Tee from Hey June Patterns.

So boring! So basic! A black V-neck t-shirt. Yawn. That might be what you're thinking, but I'm not! I love black. I love V-necks. It seemed impossible that I didn't already own a shirt like this, but I didn't. A friend of mine alerted me to the Summer of Basics sewalong (more on this in a later post), and what's more basic than a black t-shirt?

The hardest thing for me was choosing fabric. As I said, The Fabric Store has SO many beauties. I desperately wanted to order some of their lightweight merino knit, but at $23/yard it was out of my price range. Instead, I ordered this rayon knit. I wanted a soft, drapey shirt and I knew rayon would give me that. Imagine my surprise when my fabric arrived and the black knit felt, well, wrong! It was not the silky smooth, liquid feeling of rayon that I was expecting. In fact, it felt like wool. I double-checked my email receipt and I did order rayon. Perhaps this was just a weird rayon. I prewashed the fabric in a gentle cycle with mild detergent (my standard practice these days for rayon) and hung to dry. A few short hours later and I had my new t-shirt.

This is my second Union and it's a size small. It's a bit too big, but it fits exactly how I wanted it to fit. I think I could easily go down to an extra small for a more fitted look. I made life harder on myself by making the narrow V-neck, but I love how feminine it is. V-necks definitely get easier the more that you make them, so if you're scared, just keep trying!

After wearing the shirt a few times, I could not get over the idea that it was wool. I finally got around to a burn test. The scrap was slow to catch fire, hard to burn, and produced a brittle, black ash.

Everything I read pointed to wool. I couldn't tell if it smelled like burning is not something I burn on a regular basis! After posting a photo on IG, The Fabric Store immediately reached out to me and we exchanged a few messages. They helped me determine that more than likely, I had been sent one of their merinos by mistake. Oh happy accident! They offered to send me the rayon I originally ordered, but I assured them that would not be necessary, since I wanted wool in the first place and it just wasn't in the budget at the time.

To tempt you even further, The Fabric Store is currently running a 20% off sale! I also want to clarify a bit because I was originally confused about the site. The Fabric Store has 4 locations in New Zealand, 3 in Australia, and 1 in Los Angeles. For anybody that can't make it to a physical location, they also have an online store. Fabrics from the online store ship out of New Zealand. I *think* that if you're in the US, you can call the LA store and discuss their selection at that particular location. Shipping from New Zealand to my home in Indiana was about $14, which isn't much more than I would pay for a domestic shipment. Orders over $150 NZD (about $110 USD) ship free. They shipped quickly via DHL and it wasn't much longer than a shipment from California. Do be aware that they will charge your credit card in NZD, meaning that it is a foreign transaction, subject to extra fees (a few dollars in my case). My shipment required a signature, but DHL sent me a text alert with a link to authorize them to leave it without one. And I miiiiight have just gotten a second shipment yesterday because of the sale...

In the end, I absolutely adore this shirt and I'm so happy I ended up with a merino knit! Who knew that basics could be so lovable?

P.S. The shorts I'm wearing are made from linen from The Fabric Store. More on those later!

This post contains affiliate links (for the Union St. Tee only).