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).

Monday, July 17, 2017

New Collection from AUrate

I've mentioned the book The Curated Closet a few times. It's been a great resource for defining my personal style (instead of just saying "I like that!"). Part of the process is collecting images and then figuring out exactly why a certain look or outfit appeals to you. One thing I've learned is that I love metallics. In a casual outfit or one with mostly neutral colors, a bit of shine can elevate a look and add a finishing touch. I've been looking for more ways to add metallics into my wardrobe, so it seemed like perfect timing last week when I was contacted by AUrate about their new jewelry collection.

AUrate is a relatively new company based in the US. Their mission is "Durable Materials, Transparent Pricing, Sustainable Production and Tangible Giving." They design and create their pieces in New York and offer direct-to-consumer, eliminating the wholesaler and reducing costs, making their jewelry far more affordable. AUrate is also involved in charitable giving and donates a book for every item purchased (read more about them here).

Beyond all these appealing business practices, the jewelry is exactly my style. If I had to define my style (and I do have to define it, after making my way through The Curated Closet!) I would call it "simple, with a twist". I love pieces that feel familiar but are unique. I could see any number of AUrate's creations in my life. Now that my littlest offspring has hit the 1 year mark, I'm excited to add jewelry back into my wardrobe without fear of it being grabbed or broken. 

AUrate is launching a new collection today, The Solid Circle Collection. Here are a few selections from the lookbook:

Check out the new collection and all the other pieces online. AUrate offers free shipping and returns in the US. I've been dying to get a bar necklace like this one (even before AUrate contacted me!) and I also love these two rings:

Do you use jewelry to pull together your looks? What are your favorite pieces? I've always been a white gold kind of gal (i.e. my wedding rings) but lately I love traditional yellow gold in my accessories, and rose gold is a great option as well.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anthropologie Cardigan Knock-Off

I recently noticed a gaping hole in my wardrobe when it came to a lightweight summer cardigan. Y'know the kind, usually lacey or knitted, drapey, looks gorgeous on the model? A little oversized and oh-so-snuggly? Perfect for wearing around the campfire? Right before my vacation I went to a second hand store with that specific vision in mind and managed to find the cardigan of my dreams.

It's grey, so obviously amazing, with a cool pattern to the knit. It fits like a dream and is a great weight. According to the tag and Google, it's originally from Anthropologie. The only problem with buying second hand is, obviously, there aren't any more! (Not that I could afford full-price Anthro anyway.) Luckily for me, I can sew, and can fumble my way through copying a relatively easy garment. I had a lightweight sweater knit in my stash and was able to make a second perfect cardigan. I couldn't be happier with it!

The fabric is from Urban Rag Trader on Etsy. It's an amazing black/grey/silver mix and it matches everything in my closet. I've sewn with open sweater knits before (here and here) so I had some idea of what I was getting into. This one turned out to be pretty easy to cut and sew, I'm not exactly sure why. It didn't curl or shed much. It's a rayon blend and took well to pressing. I made sure to give myself a 1/2" seam allowance, any less would have made sewing much harder. I constructed it on my serger, making sure to lighten the presser foot pressure and turn up my differential feed.

To draft the pattern, I used Swedish tracing paper laid underneath half of the Anthro cardigan and traced around the edges, then added seam allowance. The sleeves are kimono with a machine knit single-layer cuff (I added a traditional double-layer cuff instead). The front edge is finished with machine knit single-layer ribbing, I used double-layer self-fabric. The front edge is simply a rectangle, so I measured that with my tape measure and added seam allowance. The back has a shaped center-back seam, which I basically drew free-hand after studying a similar seam on the Fiona cardigan. The bottom of the original was finished with single-layer ribbing as well, instead I simply cut a bit longer and hemmed by hand after serging the raw edge. It ended up a bit shorter than the original as well.

I didn't notice until I laid out the original, but the front edge is not straight up and down, it actually curves gently outward towards the bottom. That curve creates the lovely draping in the front, which you can see below. The only downside to this outward curve+kimono sleeve is that they made the pattern piece fairly wide. I struggled to fit my piece onto my fabric, so the sleeve is maybe a touch shorter than I would prefer. It worked out fine, but it's something I need to note moving forward with any other sweater knits. Sometimes those knits run narrow (this one is 50").

I've had a lot of sewing fails in the past, so it felt amazing to be so successful with a garment that I drafted myself. The fabric was definitely intermediate level but I was able to tame it (I guess after five years I can call myself an intermediate sewist haha). An all-around giant win! If you're interested in copying RTW garments and making your own patterns, check out my review of Stephanie Lincecum's Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit or check out her class on Craftsy.

This post contains affiliate links. When you shop using one of my links, your price remains the same, but I receive a small portion of the sale. Thank you for your support!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Cheeky Chonies no-show undies

A quick post today for a short holiday week (here in the states anyway!). If handmade undies aren't your thing, you can probably skip over this one, but I was so excited to find a pattern like this that I had to share!

I have a few garments where VPL can be a problem, but I'm not always crazy about wearing a thong underneath. The next best thing is no-show undies, but the home sewist doesn't have the ability to create seamless, laser-finished items like these. Once I found out about the Cheeky Chonies pattern from A Sparkly Baby, I decided it would be worth a try, before plopping down a bunch of money on RTW.

Fabric is key with this pattern. Spandex is a must, and there is an entire page of the pattern devoted to selecting the right fabric. I used a "satin milliskin" from Girl Charlee, ordered a long time ago. I would say it's similar to a swimsuit lining or lingerie weight textile, and I believe it's nylon/spandex. Any swim type fabric would work and ensure that your clothing slips easily over the undies. It also tends not to roll, meaning you can leave your edges unfinished without worrying about bunching. The lining piece is organic cotton I had in my stash.

My full hip measurement put me at a size 36, but I sized down based on the stretch of my fabric. I went all the way down to a 32 and I think these still ended up a touch big. They were not falling down or anything, but I would have preferred a tighter fit for my own peace of mind. There is only a center-back seam, so I can't adjust the ones I've already made. Luckily, they took very little fabric, so I don't feel like they were a waste.

These were just about the fastest item I've ever sewn, and they were made entirely on my sewing machine. I whipped up this pair to wear under my McCall's romper when I was headed out to a wedding. No panty lines, and basically made with scraps I had laying around=big win! So if this highly-specialized type of item is on your wish list, head over to A Sparkly Baby and pick up the pattern!

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