Not dead yet

I swear, I am the most pitiful sick person on the planet!  I’ve only left the house once since last Friday, but tomorrow I will have to pull myself together – I have an important meeting that cannot be postponed.  My fever is gone, so I think I’m on the mend.

All this enforced house time has given me plenty of sewing time!  I’ve started doing a few things differently, to help with my prep time.  First, I’m pre-washing all of my fabrics.  That way, when inspiration strikes I won’t have to wait.  I’ve also been cutting the pattern tissue for the things I want to make this fall – I really don’t enjoy cutting, and I’m much more likely to start something if I don’t have to do the pattern cutting.    And I can do it on the living room floor while I watch tv (I don’t have a tv in my sewing room, though I occasionally wish I did… we don’t have cable on the 3rd floor yet.)

Some sneak peeks (I’ll show the dresses when I wear them later this week.)


SSS day 12: a new cardigan

Pattern: Simplicity 2417, view A

Fabric: Rayon jersey from Fashion fabrics club, gray with black dots, 2 yards

Shoes: Kensie Girl

Belt: Calvin Klein

Since I was running a fever for the 3rd day in a row and rapidly losing my voice,  I decided it was time to throw on some clothes and go to the doctor (well, the immediate care center, because why should I get sick on a weekday?)  Apparently I have the flu, for the first time in probably fifteen years.  Well… I may have had the flu other times, but for most of my 20s I didn’t have any health insurance, and so avoided going to the doctor at all costs.  At any rate, at least now I know why I feel so awful, and it really doesn’t seem to be the worst case of flu ever.  At least I get time off work, although I will have to make it up later.

I finished this cardigan on Friday – literally sewed the whole thing then.  I wanted some basic long cardigans to wear over sleeveless dresses, and I thought this pattern looked promising.  Since I had such good luck with Simplicity’s cozy wrap I was hoping this one would be as nice, and I was not disappointed!  I sewed a straight size 6, which seems to be my size in Simplicity.  Things I like about this cardigan: the nice high, tight armholes, which look very RTW to me, and the front bands, which give it a little more interest than just a plain cardigan.

I didn’t make many alterations to the pattern.  I did my usual job removing the ease from the sleevecaps (only 1/2″, but still unnecessary.)  I did not hem the sleeves, because I liked the length.  I sewed the sleeves in flat, and then closed up the side seams and sleeve seams in one sweep with the serger (I often do this – I hate setting in sleeves in the round, and I don’t notice much difference on most garments.)  I only sewed one line of stitching for the hem, because my twin needle wasn’t working well with this knit.

I absolutely recommend the pattern – this was incredibly easy to sew, and the results are very ready to wear.  I’m thinking of using my leftover jersey to create a little flower embellishment – removeable, of course, because I’m not handwashing a cardigan!  I’ve decided that while I’m having forced sick time I had might as well sew up some more knits – they’re easy to wear, and lately I’m finding myself reaching for them.  I did make a muslin of the jacket I mentioned yesterday, but the sleeve style was really weird – something in between raglan and dropped.  It is not flattering, so that pattern is out… I much find something else for my lovely wool.

SSS Day 10: sick day

I have been struck down by  some sort of illness – I have a fever, and a cough, and I feel pretty generally disagreeable.  Needless to say, I had to cancel all my weekend activities – Marc’s already caught my cold, and I don’t want to give it to anyone else!   Since I was feeling terrible, my plans for the weekend included lying on the sofa in my pajamas, rewatching all the Harry Potter movies and maybe sewing that dotted cardigan I said I was going to start days ago.  As it turns out I had neglected to buy thread, so I had to throw some clothes on to go to the fabric store.  And since it’s September, something had to be made by me!  This outfit is probably a reflection of just how lousy I felt, but hey… it served its purpose of clothing me so that I could leave the house.  I may have cursed my lack of hand-made yoga pants a few times, but let’s be honest… I don’t wear those out of the house anyway.

Skirt: Corduroy a-line skirt from the book SEW U, blogged here

T-shirt: Merona

Shoes: Sofft Pienza loafers

I don’t really wear this skirt, but I am proud that it was the first real garment I made.  I used to own a lot of these sort of low waisted a-line skirts.  As it turns out, the reason I stopped wearing skirts was probably because low-waist skirts came in – I like to tuck a shirt into my skirt, and this doesn’t do it for me.

There won’t be a day 11 post, since I’m not leaving the house or changing out of my pajamas, and who can tell about tomorrow?  But – I did finish sewing the dotted cardigan, and I’ll have photos sometime this week.  I’m going to start on Vogue 8640 – I am planning to make both parts, but the jacket is going to require a muslin before I cut into my lovely dotted wool… I’m not sure yet that it will suit me.

Finished : Kwik Sew 3758 and SSS days 8 & 9

Pattern: Kwik Sew 3758, size XS

Fabric: Kauffman radiance cotton/silk for skirt, 100% cotton jersey for the top

Shoes: Kensie Girl (Navy with white polka dots, can you tell?)

Notes: I feel like I’ve been planning this project forever.  You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find a navy/white stripe jersey with this size stripes (in my opinion, this is the most flattering width of horizontal stripe.)  I finally found some on ebay, and paired it with this red cotton/silk blend from  Let me tell you… the red fabric is not washable.  It does say to dryclean it, but I washed in hopes of removing some of the sheen.  It looks more like sueded silk now.  It also bled, even after several washes, so I’m pretty sure this dress is destined to be dryclean only.

I actually used the wrong side of the fabric for the skirt, and the right side for the belt.  I love this dress – it’s exactly as I wanted, and very flattering.  I made a size XS with only two alterations – I made a 4 inch hem, thus shortening the dress by 3 inches (I had cut the longer length, but decided that the dirndl wasn’t nearly flared enough for that to look good.)  I did not include the clear elastic that I was instructed to stitch into the skirt’s seam allowance after sewing the pieces together.  I’m not sure the purpose of it – the skirt is already gathered, and it doesn’t work without the belt.  And there are few things in this world that I hate more than sewing elastic in while stretching it… it always manages to tear loose.

The belt is a separate piece, and I have several other dresses it will work on.  I only interfaced the back side, as I didn’t have any good fusible and I was worried about the pellon bubbling up later.  The top of the dress is very nice – and the reason why I got the pattern, since I already have an obi belt pattern, and the skirt is basically two gathered rectangles with pockets.  I love a wide scoopneck, and I was surprised by how well it fit – I had read some warnings about Kwik Sew running really big, but this fits fine.  The instructions were excellent – I’m really interested in some other Kwik Sew patterns now, as they are definitely a step up from big 4 patterns, at least in terms of constriction with knits (1/4″ seam allowances, yay!)

This is my outfit today: day 9 of Self-stitched September!  To show that I’m not forgetting any days, here is day 8:

Dress: Butterick 5490, blogged here

Sweater: Old Navy, thrifted

Shoes: Mia (not recommended, they are super uncomforable.)

And a vintage Sarah Coventry brooch that matches the dress.  I was totally unconvinced about this dress when I finished it, but I’ve worn it quite a bit.  I love the way the pleats in the front fall in graceful folds.  And it matches this sweater.  I’m becoming pretty convinced about me being cool toned now… I can definitely wear these sorts of icy pastels, which I would never have dared to wear before (I thought they would wash me out… but that’s only ivory/ecru/beige colors.)

Self-stitched September days 6 and 7

It’s still hot here, and likely to remain that way through September.  On one hand, I am so tired of the heat that I’d love to see Fall, but on the other hand I don’t have nearly enough cold weather clothes yet!  I’ve nearly finished the dress from my last post (it just needs a hem shortening.)  I’ll probably wear that on Thursday, since I don’t have anything to do except teach tomorrow, and when I have a pretty new dress I like to make sure that I’ll be actually leaving the house!  Now on to the past two days of my month:

September 6th

Skirt: Simplicity 2413, blogged here

Top: INC

Shoes: Cole Haan

It must be a workday if I’m in flats!  I like this outfit better with heels, but I don’t really feel like standing up in them all afternoon… plus, to be honest, while they have adjusted to my dressiness, I think people think it’s strange to wear heels in your own house.  I’m very disappointed in the quality of this top – I discovered a hole in it, the fabric is pilling, and the stitching on the ruching is falling apart.  I’ve only had it a few months, and it’s not like I wear it every day!

That skirt, on the other hand, is holding up great!  I’m trying to wear more skinny belts, and I used a trick I read on Youlookfab to knot the skinny belt – I have a problem where belts are always too big for me, and if I add extra holes it ends up way long.  I like this way a lot, and it did stay all day.   This skirt is a bit tough to wear, but I’ve decided to just embrance the shape – it bells out and does not touch my hips, which is fine – it’s supposed to be an exaggerated look.  I feel like it could use something on top to balance though, a top with full, cuffed sleeves maybe (is that called a Bishop sleeve, or did I make that up?)

September 7th

Top: Simplicity 2501, blogged here

Sweater: H&M

Jeans: NY&Co

Shoes: Steve Madden

I find it hard to dress when I have to go straight from one activity to another.  Today I had my regular teaching schedule, followed by a band rehearsal (I’m now the singer and sometimes keyboardist in an Irish band,) followed by Pub quiz and dinner with friends at my neighborhood Irish bar.  In honor of all the Irishness going on today I wore green.  Combined with the hair, I occasionally get asked if I’m Irish, but the answer is no… not at all.  My ancestors were Swedish (my Grandparents immigrated here in the 1930s.)  I love the music though, and I’d love to visit someday.

I like this outfit.  It’s casual but still me.  I really love this blouse, and I’m happy that plaid and flannel are still in this year.  I will say that the sleevecaps are a little low and restrictive, and it could be longer, but I still love it!

While I put the finishing touches on one project I’m also starting another: the cardigan from Simplicity 2417 in this polka dot knit:

I bought this pattern exclusively for the long cardigan, because I love that style, plain though it is, but the jumper is pretty cute too (not in that fabric, but in the line drawings.)  I tell you, having to wear my creations every day is forcing me to get sewing!

This weekend looks to be challenging… I have a gig and I have no idea what I’m wearing.  Performing clothes, as it turns out, are hard because I know so many eyes are on me!  But I’ll figure something out… hopefully.

SSS Day 5, shaping up my Fall sewing plans

Dress: Rooibos in poplin, blogged here

Cardigan: Old Navy, thrifted

Shoes: Keds, also thrifted

Today I had a holiday cookout (for labor day,) and I wanted to be casual but still fun.  This dress makes me sad, because it photographs horribly, but it’s so cute in person – the polka dots just emphasize every slight wrinkle on the camera.  It’s a little shorter than I might prefer, so I usually wear it on the weekends rather than for work.  As it gets colder I plan to wear it with some brightly colored tights, which I think will solve the length issue.  These shoes are some of my favorites – platform sneakers are so fun somehow!  I love this color combo – classic navy and white with red.  In fact, my current dress project involves all three shades!

I’m making the Kwik Sew mock 2 piece dress that I posted about earlier this summer.  I washed my red silk/cotton in order to remove some of the sheen (it was really shiny, and I wanted a day dress. ) The top fabric is the result, and the bottom is the wrong side of the fabric.  I like the washed, slightly sueded look of the top right side, so I’ve decided to use that for my skirt.  I have more of this fabric, in a darker red, which I plan to not wash and turn into a fun shiny skirt for fall, using this pattern.

I’m still making plans too.  I mentioned before that I wanted to make a Chanel jacket, but now I’m ready to show my fabric!

It’s a beautiful tweed.  I’m using the vogue pattern on the left and either the version with the tie neck or the long version… I will wait and see the length. The jacket on the right is my inspiration.  It uses a self fabric fringe.  It also appears to have a sheer polka dot organza fabric as a ruffled trim, and attached to ribbons at the sleeves (I really like that touch!)  I’m planing to copy those features.  I bought a charcoal silk for the lining, and I’m going to quilt it using instructions from Threads magazine (I bought 10 years of back issues at a yard sale this summer, and they are so useful!)

I hit the labor day sale at Joann’s yesterday.  It wasn’t super exciting, but they did have patterns on sale, and some new fabric collections with a 10% off everything, even sale items coupon.  I got two knit prints and patterns to go with them, from their new collection (which is all jewel tones – lovely!)

Rayon jersey in deep teal with a subtle print.  This is one of my favorite colors.  I want to make this Mccall’s pattern, and I’m not sure yet whether I want the skinny sleeves or the balloon ones.  I’m going to make this short to wear with tights or leggings.

Matte Jersey for this Palmer/pletsch dress.   Probably the non-wrap style, but I’m not decided yet.

I picked up a few patterns that I had been waiting for sales on.

I have a black gabardine to make the tracy reese skirt, and a silk crepe jacquard to make the blouse.  I bought the pleated vogue tunic thinking it would be great in a knit, but after reading the reviews of it I’m not so sure…  The cowl neck is a nice basic, and I want to make one of those long drawstring shirts which I’m seeing for fall.  I want a plaid, but I can’t seem to find any great plaids that aren’t flannel.  Maybe later in the year there will be some.

The knit dresses and shirts are needed in my wardrobe – I don’t want to replace my storebought ones, but they are getting on in years.  I can already tell that this month will be a challenge in terms of shirts – I only have two self made ones, and I am so very bad to just make more dresses instead!  I would feel bad about buying so much fabric, but to be honest I don’t really have a winter fabric stash (and not so much summer either) so it’s necessary!

My husband always says “Don’t you have a pattern like that?”  I always answer “Yes, but not this one!”  I think I almost like planning for sewing as much as I like sewing.  It’s so fun to plan and dream about projects that sometimes I forget to make time to actually sew!

Wardrobe truthiness (and a blog award!)

It is becoming clear to me that there will be many lessons learned during this month of wearing handmade clothes.  The first?  It’s ok to admit that something isn’t working for you.  Here is today’s outfit:

Sweater: Blithe, designed by Kim Hargreaves.  Blogged here.

Jeans: NY & Co flares

Shoes: Anne Klein

Another lesson to be learned: as in a catalog, a funny pose from me probably means that something is wrong.  I liked this sweater after I finished knitting it, but then it sat unloved in my drawer.  I had a few requests to use handknits this month, and while I don’t have as many warm weather sweaters I have a few to try.  Let me tell you: this sweater does not fit, and I don’t think it ever did.  I think I used to be less picky, before I started sewing.  Now?  It makes me crazy.  Here is a head-on shot.

No,  I don’t know why I have such a crazy smile here.  Anyway, it’s too short, and the sleeves are teeny tiny, like “I feel like I’m in a straightjacket” tight.  That’s why it’s off the shoulder here, because it’s slightly more comfortable that way.  I was on my way out to the mall, in search of a concert dress.  I needed a black dress in a non-wrinkle fabric (matte jersey) that was dressy but went below my knees.  I bought one from Ralph Lauren, and we’ll see how that works – I feel super guilty not making one, but to be honest I wasn’t feeling like it – I hate deadline sewing.  After I tried on dresses I left this sweater in my bag and wore the tank top – that’s how uncomfortable it was!  I also really don’t like the way that it pulls up in the center.  So this sweater?  It’s going to be going away somewhere, to a friend with a more petite torso.

I like long shirts.  I have a long torso (but short waist) and those of you with a long torso know what I mean – it’s torture to have a shirt that just isn’t quite long enough!  I’m actually quite happy about the current trend for tunics because I never have to tug at them.

The lovely Robin over at Yarncrawl nominated me for the Beautiful blogger award.  Thanks, Robin!  Robin is definitely an inspiration, and she was so helpful to me when I started sewing!

This is another of those “share things about yourself” deals, I do love filling out a list (if I can come up with another ten!)

1.  I have no “in between” mode in housekeeping.  I’m either completely OCD about every speck of dust, or I’m a total slob.  Since I have parents and students in my house all the time now I’m trying to find a middle ground, but it’s hard!

2.   Earl Grey is my favorite tea.  I tend to like things that taste bitter or perfumey, but to be honest I started drinking it because it was what Captain Picard always got from the replicator in Star Trek.  I went for a formal tea for the first time, and when asked to make a selection I could literally only think “Earl Grey, hot!”

3.  I hate being in a house by myself at night.  I tell people it’s because of the break-in we had last year, but in truth I never liked being home alone, it’s just that the break-in reinforced that my fears weren’t actually crazy!

4.  My parents were big-time hippies, but I didn’t always live with them (I lived with my paternal Grandmother, as I’ve mentioned before.)  Because of that, I have some odd quirks – like, I’m about the most open minded person you can imagine, but I have a strangely conservative sense of style, and I’m always asking people “is my skirt too short” when it’s barely above my knees.

5.  I love “old lady” perfumes.   I hate modern scents, which either smell like overripe fruit or soap… I like the smell of soap, but it’s not making a statement, you know?  I want my perfume to say something.  My all-time favorite is Baghari by Robert Piguet.  It’s sort of powdery, with vanilla, amber, and jasmine.  It bears a similarity to Chanel no. 5, but it’s better (I love no 5, which I also own.)  The only modern perfume I wear regularly is Estee Lauder Sensuous, which is very nice, smelling of amber and woods, but not (I must say) as exciting, and I wear it when I need to be unobtrusive (yes, I have a perfume habit – I love the stuff!)

6.  I am completely fascinated by sociology, especially feminist sociology.  I took a ton of classes in college and considered a minor, but ended up transferring.  I recently discovered the blog Sociological Images, and read the whole thing.  I constantly analyze things in real life, which I will admit makes people crazy.  I read the first Twilight novel and wound up filled with feminist rage, and let me tell you how no one wanted to hear me rant on about it (but I did anyway, because that’s how I am!)

7.  I like eccentric people, the odder the better.  The first thing my husband said to me was “Want to switch Kroger cards?  You never know what they’re using that information for.”  I know so many people who strive to be normal and unnoticed… I can’t imagine living that way, and I love people who dare to be themselves no matter what society might say!

Ok, I guess I only got to seven – still, pretty good!

I hope you are all having a great weekend – I bought the dress mentioned above, had some great Indian food, and hit the Joann’s sale for some top patterns (it has become apparent already that I need some, and it’s only the 4th!)  I’ll write more about that tomorrow.