Back from a hiatus…

I’ve been taking a break from sewing while I focused on other things. I have done a couple of projects here and there, so I’ve decided to post photos now that I’m sewing again. Enjoy!

Most recent project: Rayon challis panel-print dress, spring 2017. This is nothing more than two rectangular panels with a partial side seam and a drawstring casing at the top. It was super easy and amazingly comfortable, and shows off the print beautifully! I have more of this fabric, so I will be experimenting with it more in the near future. Please disregard the laundry basket. The crop feature failed me just now… but everyone has these lying around the house, right?

 

This is a half circle with lots of gathering at the waist made from 60″ wide polyester print with full lining, sash, and elastic waist. I created this for my program’s graduation. More pictures of this later.

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I’ve been making bags lately- the inspiration was a partly that I bought a new bag and it was too small and partly that outdoor fabric was on sale and it sounded like a fun idea to make a bag in tropical banana leaves. The outer shell and top of the inner lining are outdoor canvas, which I’m hoping will weather the abuse I put my bags through better than my previous attempts (cotton home dec fabric) did. The rest of the lining and the inside zippered pocket are still cotton home décor fabric, though. I added a key keeper for fun. My mom liked mine so much that she asked me to make her one too, so after >16 photos of outdoor fabrics at JoAnn, she picked the red/orange/green foliage print and I documented all of my steps for her to follow along. =) Those are my two Brother machines photobombing in the background. Love those little guys!

 

 

This was a quick scrap-busting project: travel Kleenex covers! My mom used to make these so I had her send me a photo of one that she still carries with a ruler next to it. I devised my own pattern and then made about 10 of these one afternoon and gave them to my in-laws.

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Easter dress: my own wrap dress pattern in a mystery clearance polyester fabric (horrible to work with!!!!!) Fully lined, maxi-length, true wrap, cap sleeves.

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Cotton A-line maxi skirt with full lining and interfaced wide waist- I need a final photo of this. I made it around Valentine’s Day for a night out with my hubby and friends. Ironically, the day I wore it to work I found a blog entry online advertising Pellon interfacing by using it in a wide-waist skirt. Using the exact. same. fabric. Great minds, no? The first photo is of the scale miniature mock-up I did to try to maximize the hem circumference with the amount of fabric that I had using the slash-and-spread method for creating an A-line skirt. I somehow ended up mis-measuring my waist and cutting the waistband too small (!) You can see from the scale pattern that there was NOT much room for that error! I re-used the too-short waistband on the inside and narrowly found enough fabric to re-do the outside in the correct length. This was supposed to be an easy sew. It was not. Lesson learned: measure THREE times, cut once!

 

Curtain for a half-bath remodel. It was clearance red-tag home dec fabric and red-tags were half off. Hubby asked “…so did they PAY you to take it??” =P

 

Black lace-back cocktail dress with box-pleated skirt. I think this would have been better with a half or 3/4 circle skirt instead of the box pleats, but I still like it. The dress is in a poly satin and the sash/belt is a velvety textured ribbon- combined with the cotton/poly lace, I was going for a study in textures. The back lace piece was pre-made, from Amazon/China and was super cheap, but took months to arrive. I altered the shape of the lace at the top sides a bit to blend it with the shoulders of the dress. This took a lot of planning and prep work. I think I did several iterations of the bodice before I settled on a modification of my personal bodice pattern. Plunging necklines are difficult to get right, especially when fitting yourself.  I wore it to my department’s Holiday Party this past winter.

 

This dress has a story…

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My grandmother used to sew for herself and her four daughters. When it became clear this past summer that she would not be coming home from the nursing home to live independently and that she would soon need more income to pay for the nursing home, my mom and her sisters decided to clean out and sell her house per her wishes/with her blessing. During the clean-out, my mom found a ton of fabric and saved some for me since I like to sew so much. On inspection, this fabric was already pinned and cut for a size 20 dress. My grandmother passed away that winter, right after I had a chance to bring the fabric back to my home. I tracked down the pattern online and ordered a copy in (what I thought was) my size. Then, I practiced on broadcloth, tracked down a different size online (one-size pattern envelopes???) and tried again. Happy with the fit, I overlaid my size onto the pre-cut pieces and finished the dress that she had started. It was a fun process. I learned some new techniques in the process, and every time I pressed a seam my sewing room was filled with the scent of “grandma’s house”- the kind of familiar mustiness that is only pleasant to the person for which it triggers memories…

The dress is not my style. At. All. But it does have a certain 80’s-channeling-40’s charm. I’ve worn it to work and it’s had a good reception, so I’ll likely continue to wear it, if for no other reason than it reminds me of her =)

 

I did several projects surrounding my sister-in-law’s wedding. First, I made her a bridal shower gift of a self-drafted apron made from I Love Lucy fabric (the theme of the shower) with polka-dot ruffle and red bottom-weight cotton backing and ties. I used the leftover ILL fabric to line her card basket. Next, I inserted a side zipper into my form-fitting lace-back bridesmaids dress to save time/effort on the big day. I was the only bridesmaid at the church on time 😉 I also altered the flower girl’s dress. SO MUCH TULLE!!! She was so adorable! I also gave the bride the veil I wore at my ceremony after I blinged it out with sequined and beaded trim that I hand-sewed to the edge. The leftover trim was used to wrap over the ribbon on her bouquet. I enjoyed all of these projects so much!

 

Rayon sundress modeled after one of my favorite little knit pull-on dresses from college. This was finished this past fall and worn for my sister-in-law’s goodbye brunch, before she moved to Ireland with her new husband.

 

Final thoughts: the curl game is getting stronger. These days I’m using Suave Naturals coconut conditioner, Curls brand Crème Brule curl cream, Carol’s Daughter alcohol-free gel (soft hold) and my trusty long-sleeved T-shirt to plop for 5 minutes and no more. Recent insights- the curls reeeally do better if I do NOT touch them AT ALL after I take them out of the t-shirt. It’s so hard not to fuss and scrunch, but on the days that I take the t-shirt out, bobby pin and forget them, usually Saturdays, when I don’t care what they look like so I don’t try to “fix” them… ironically, they turn out AMAZING.

Have a creative day!

-J

The Envelope Clutch

An envelope clutch seems like an easy enough project, right? Wrong. Because, of course, I had to make it difficult for myself. I combined two different zippered pouch tutorials- one of them was actually for an envelope clutch, and then also included an inside zippered pocket. The fabric is clearance home decor fabric interfaced with Pellon 809 and lined with run-of-the-mill synthetic apparel lining. This is actually the second in this fabric (I used Pellon 71 F on the first one and it was definitely overkill, and it had other problems as well.)

Enjoy!

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Recent Sewing Projects

It has been a while since I have posted, but I have been doing projects in the meantime.

I have added a new “toy” to my collection: a serger! I’m getting better at using it each time, improving at making the seams balanced. Sometimes I use it to overlock the edges of my fabric pieces before constructing, other times I use it after construction to finish and reduce seam bulk. Rarely, I use it to actually construct a piece. I’ve even dabbled in rolled hems (more on that below). I’m still experimenting.

I modified my sloper to make a cross-front bodice pattern, then used it to make a true wrap design with a one-way stretch I found at Walmart. It is NOT the highest-quality fabric, but it is bold and pretty, and it was CHEAP!!! Good formula for an experiment. I am not thrilled about some of the seams, though. Despite using a walking foot, they puckered and warped in places. (Sorry about the poor-quality photo.) It is floor-length with an a-line silhouette and elbow sleeves. The v-neck bodice is self-lined, but the skirt and sleeves are not. I used my serger for some of the finishing, but not all. It was my first “real” project trying my serger and I wasn’t that confident yet.

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Next, I used this same pattern to make another maxi wrap dress. This time, I used a very light-weight non-stretch fabric I found on clearance at Walmart (again, Walmart. who knew??) Since it was nearly sheer, I toyed with the idea of underlining, but eventually went with just a standard lining- fully lining the skirt as well this time, but attached to the dress at the waist. I used the serger for finishing again, with fewer mistakes this time. I also patterned, after MUCH research, indecision, misgivings and outside advice, a flutter sleeve. It turned out OK. Not fantastic, but OK. I tried a rolled hem for the first time with the serger and didn’t really like it. However, when making the contrasting scarf, I discovered why I didn’t like my first attempt at a rolled hem: I didn’t balance the stitch AT ALL and essentially, it was a crappy rolled hem. No wonder. When I (inadvertantly) balanced the stitch on the scarf, it was like a lightbulb went on in my head. OH! So THAT’s what a proper rolled hem looks like? That’s niiiiiiiiiiiiice. =)

That’s my “puppy” Bentley in the second photo. Sometimes he “helps” me sew =)

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I also self-drafted and made a gift for my SIL, of which I am ridiculously proud, but I can’t post pictures of that until after she receives it 😉

Finally, I found more rayon on clearance at JoAnn and attempted to copy one of my favorite little casual knit dresses (from college??). I tried a new skill: making and using binding to finish the neckline and armscyes. It went swimmingly. Then, I gathered the skirt to the crossover top and gathered the top slightly to fit my chest. That did not go well. I took a shortcut with the gathering that the fabric did NOT tolerate. After I ripped it out and did it right, it turned out much better. Lesson learned. Again, sorry about the photo quality.IMAG0830.jpg

That’s all for now. More after my SIL’s bridal shower, most likely.

-J

Casual Tropical Dress… and other recent projects

I have some sort of soft, flowy fabric that wears like a dream. (UPDATE: it’s rayon! who knew!) But working with it is like herding cats; it completely has a mind of its own. Nonetheless, cats were herded and I managed to make a pull-on maxi dress with an elastic waist out of a non-stretch woven fabric. It’s comfy and fun. I used a rolled hem to finish all the edges and (surprise!) the hem… which is good practice for my bridesmaid dress for my SIL’s wedding, which will likely need a rolled hem. It would be annoying to have to pay someone to hem a dress for me, so I decided to get some practice in now before it arrives!

Below are photos of today’s dress and another that I made recently after several weekends of drafting. Enjoy!

(on a related note, I think my bobbin tension might need to be adjusted, but I’m afraid to touch it because the last time I adjusted the bobbin tension it took months to get it back to normal again!)

Sauce master

So, everyone in our little family of three (two humans and one dog) has “specialties”. For example, Bentley’s are “seat stealing” and “being in the way”. Two of mine are “good ideas” and “sauces”.

I’ve been taking a sewing hiatus until I get the shelves and storage things up above my sewing tables (pictures soon!) so I’ve been creatively cooking recently. Mostly because I’ve put myself on an elimination diet to try to calm my crazy GI system (it has helped somewhat, I think). But also just because I like to cook. So, I decided to go back to something I used to enjoy, but haven’t tried in a while: white wine sauces. Enter 187 mL bottles of white wine and I’m a happy cooking camper. I started experimenting with moscato (I know, kind of sweet for a sauce, but roll with me) a white roux, cream, and the drippings from whatever protein I had made. It worked well. The hubby liked it. Then I decided to add fresh basil and lemon. Even better. Then I switched to sauvignon blanc. Perfection. So I served it to some old friends yesterday for lunch. They’ve never said anything bad about my cooking, in fact, I’ve never heard them say anything bad about anything, but they did both practically lick the plates clean. So I’ll take that as a success. I’m writing it down here as much for myself as anyone else. Feel free to try it out.

Melt 1T butter and add 1 T flour over low heat, simmer a few minutes to make a white roux before adding cream and simmer a bit more, all while cooking protein in another pan. After removing protein from second pan, deglaze with white wine and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add roux/cream mixture to the simmering wine. Season and simmer until the desired consistency is reached. Add back in your protein and simmer, or spoon over protein on serving plates.

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I’m back!

I’m done with my most recent round of boards, so now I can be creative again. (Don’t ask. I won’t know until May if I passed. It’s a long story…)

Since I have a ton of work piled up from when I had studying blinders on, I can’t do all the projects I want right now, but I’m planning them for some slow weekend very soon. My next project will be copying a ready-to-wear dress that I bought this past weekend. I have a ream of tissue paper and some extra broadcloth all ready for the task.

In the meantime, an observation.
Now that I have embraced my curls, looking at photos of me in the past where I tried to wear my hair natural/wavy/curly is painful. I have a slideshow app on my desktop that shows me photos of my husband and I while we were dating and a photo that I used to love flashed across the little box. Three thoughts occurred to me.

  1. OHMYGOODNESS WHAT DID I DO TO MY HAIR? ugh.
  2. Look at that handsome young man! Oh, yes. That would be my hubby =)
  3. Is this what middle-aged people think about their hair when they see photos of themselves from the 80’s now?

-J