The Fat Cat Dress - Tilly and the Buttons Francoise

Monday, December 1, 2014

When Erin, the lovely Miss Crayola Creepy, sneek peek'ed her Cat Lady Sewing Challenge WIP I promptly fell in love with her fabric.
Yes, please.  I instantly saw a vision of cats, yellow piping, and yellow buttons.  I missed the Cat Lady Sewing Challenge, which is lucky for me because Tilly introduced her new lovely pattern, Francoise.
Tilly is one of my favorite bloggers.  She's so sweet and adorable, and I loved watching her on the first season of The Great British Sewing Bee.  She's just a doll!  I love her style and also just acquired her new book, Love At First Stitch.  My vision of a purple and black fat cat dress with yellow piping and buttons suddenly formed in the shape of a Francoise dress.  Complete with black collar, yellow piped edges, and too cute for words buttons down the front.

Tilly also announced a contest.  Well okay then!  This is the first time I have participated in any sort of sewing challenge or contest, and I'm extremely pleased with how my dress turned out.  It is *exactly* how I pictured.
#SewingFrancoise
This is my first time successfully sewing piping, as well as a successful collar.  I'm pleased as punch.  Am I bold enough to wear a cat dress in public?  Why yes, yes I am.
This dress is an homage to my very own fat cat, Linux.

Paprika Patterns Jade Skirt - The Pinterest Skirt!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Quite a while ago I found an ADORABLE diagonally pleated knit skirt on Pinterest.  I promptly pinned it, quickly scanned the instructions online which I deemed it too complicated for my tiny head, and continued to pine for it from a distance.
(Picture sourced from Pinterest)
Lucky for me, Lisa turned this highly pinned skirt into her first released pattern via new indie company Paprika Patterns.

The Jade Skirt pattern is available for a price that YOU determine, including free.  I believe Lisa originally planned to have this available as a free pattern, but the project evolved and turned into a company and her sole employment.  I love to support indie pattern makers so I was happy to pay for the pattern.  I'm also happy to share the word, because I have a major crush on this skirt.  It's completely adorable, enviable, comfortable (knits = secret pajamas!), and did I mention - COMPLETELY ADORABLE.

I recently had a day off work that I planned to ~SEW~ all day long.  A glorious day to look forward to!  Since this is the initial release for Paprika Patterns, the pattern does not come in the full size range that it will be available for in the future.  I have lost a significant amount of weight, but I was still on the cusp of the size range:

Size Chart (Inches)


123456
Waist24.52627.52930.532.5
Hip3435.53738.54041.5

Good thing I'm a renegade seamstress, because I recklessly slashed and spread the pattern and added my necessary additional inches.

So, funny story.  I added about two inches to the overall width of the skirt.  As I was fitting the skirt on myself, I had to take out about the same amount that I had added.

Funnier story.  I finished the skirt within an afternoon, and had a haircut scheduled in the evening.  It was so cute and adorable and comfortable that of course I wore my new me made skirt to my appointment.  I gushed to my stylist about how I spent all day sewing this adorable skirt and we fawned over the adorableness of the skirt.
After my appointment my stylist and I were walking to the register.  Suddenly I feel a sort of constriction around my ankles, as if I had left the bathroom forgetting my undies around my ankles.  Except instead of my undies, it was my skirt!  We both got quite a laugh out of my wardrobe malfunction, luckily I was wearing some heavy duty tights due to our chilly weather.
Obviously I need to take it in even more.  My knit, although fairly stable, probably also has a fair amount of stretch which contributes to how the size feels.  Anyhoo.  The construction of the skirt seems complicated, but there is a video on the Paprika Patterns website to assist.  The pattern also includes a scaled down version to practice.  After watching the video and using the practice sheet, it really isn't that complicated.  I used color coordinated pins when constructing my actual skirt to indicate my folds.  The skirt is fully lined, so all raw edges are neatly concealed and contained.  The pattern prompts a mid-construction fitting to ensure a nice fit.  (Note, if you plan on wearing tights with the skirt, you may want to also wear tights while fitting to avoid any similar wardrobe malfunctions. Learn from my mistakes.)  I cannot say enough how adorable this skirt is.  I felt so sassy and put together when I wore it.  I can't wait to wear the hell out of this skirt, as soon as I take in the waist a bit!
































Simplicity 1459 - The One With The Perfect, Gorgeous Shirtdress

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

You guys. I'm seriously impressed with myself! My construction is getting pretty damn good. See: Simplicity 1459.
I came across this pattern through the lovely Tanya Maile. I've always loved shirtdresses and have long quested for one that fit and flattered me. No such luck. This is why I sew. Combine the perfect pattern with the perfect fabric and you've got the perfect dress! I instantly knew I wanted to make this dress in a royal blue cotton sateen. This would make my eyes like POW! Enter, this gorgeous and perfect fabric:
(Now unavailable on fabric.com. Also, this is the true color. It's awfully hard to photograph.)
I found this on fabric.com and it was exactly what I was looking for. The planets aligned and this dress was destined to beautifully grace my body. When I received my package I was even more thrilled. It has just the right amount of stretch and the color is incredible. Plus, tonal dots! Even more perfect.

Then... Life happened. I bought the pattern and fabric for my birthday, in August. In September I worked on my Princess Peach costume. Apparently it took the whole month. I was cautious because being the same brand, I was worried about picking the size of the garment. I finally got around to tracing the pattern and making a muslin. I didn't realize the sleeves had darts at the elbows, but I gave it a shot. The bodice fit fine, but the sleeves were way too tight. So I used sleeves from another pattern instead, since I didn't care about the elbow darts anyway.

One thing I hate doing is gathering, and the skirt requires lots of gathering. Luckily from my Princess Peach costume I had already practiced my work around! I think I picked up the tip from Gertie, but I sew a long and wide zig zag over a bit of string. I happen to have a ball of string in my stash! This trick is miraculous. Gathering is so much faster and honestly I think it actually does a better job too. Just pull the string when you're ready to gather, and blamo! You've got lovely gathers.
I was also quite impressed with how the collar turned out. My tips aren't perfect, but the collar as a whole looks pretty good. I worried the collar would overwhelm my small frame, but I didn't make any changes to it and I think it looks good. I hand picked the lapped zipper and am in love with how beautiful yet camouflaged the zipper is.
Sorry for the flash!
My biggest issue with the dress is the buttonholes. First though, yay for my first (non-bound) buttonholes on a garment! Go me! Anyway, I'm pretty sure I marked their placement correctly per the pattern but it seems they could be in better locations. I also would shorten the bodice a bit because the weight of the skirt brings it a bit low on me. I meant to use hem tape when finishing the skirt, but it seemed sooooo fiddley so I just pinked the edge and did a catch stitch hem. I like that better anyway.
All in all, I'm very proud of this dress and I'm totally in love with it. I wore it with my petticoat made last year. I'm ecstatic with how this dress turned out!

Disney Princess Goes Princess Peach - Simplicity 2813

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Generally speaking, my family and I attend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando every year. 

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2007
Our first MNSSHP. Obviously I'm no stranger to Princess costumes.
This year my mom and my sister are dressing up as Mario & Luigi, so naturally being the princess of the family they voted me to be Princess Peach. I knew I wanted to sew myself the costume, and a quick google search lead me to Simplicity 2813.

Simplicity 2813
 
Meant of course to be used for Disney Princesses Snow White or Cinderella, but it just so happens that Princess Peach's dress is incredibly similar in style to Cinderella's. Just a switch up of the colorway and you've got yourself a Nintendo Princess.

Princess Peach
Instantly I began plotting my dress and became ridiculously excited about sewing myself a Princess dress. Well, duh. I thought I would use glitter organza for the contrast pieces, but instead I used a shimmery organza since I couldn't find the glitter version. I also picked up some uber cheap pale pink costume satin for the main dress, fully anticipating it to be a nightmare to sew.
 
The pattern instructions either assume you just know to do certain steps, or my skillz have gotten so damn good that I've just set a higher standard for myself. The pattern barely tells you to press anything, much less to finish any seams. It's entirely possible that they don't tell you to because 1) you are likely going to wear this outfit once or twice, and don't need it to hold up well, or 2) because the bodice is lined they figure you don't need to finish your seams. For this reason I wasn't going to line it, but then I thought cotton would feel much better against my skin than cheap polyester. So things I did to bump up the quality were to press my seams open, press my darts toward the sides, and pink all my raw edges. Pretty standard things that weren't included in the pattern instructions. If I really wanted to be awesome, I could have understitched the lining too but the muslin I used to line the bodice took a pressing pretty well. I don't think I'll have any peekaboo lining issues.


I shortened the skirt by 16" to bring it up to tea length. I plan on wearing a petticoat with the outfit to boost the Princess factor. Plus, petticoats are just plain awesome. I shortened the bodice by 1/2" and used the smallest size for the neckline dip and strap widths, just because I tend to be small in the shoulders and I find patterns often make necklines too conservative for my taste. The costume satin surprisingly was not a nightmare to sew, though it does fray like the dickens. It also makes an awful sound while being sewn, like my needle is perforating the fabric. Which, it probably is. We'll see how the dress wears. I have the Halloween party as well as a Halloween ... party ... like a real one. Florida will likely be hot and schewtty, so the costume will probably go through a gentle washing between them.  Luckily I've got a wonderful bottle of Soak handy for things like this.
Dad came too.
In the end this costume turned out pretty sweet, albeit REALLY BIG.  I didn't want to redo the entire bodice, so I had Hubs pinch in the excess from the back zip.  I ended up taking out 4+ inches from the back, grading to zero at the waist.  If I had taken it in at the waist I really would have needed to redo some things since the overskirt puffs were already nicely sewn in.  It fit okay at the waist anyway.  The bodice front still gapes, a lot.  I'm only going to wear this costume this year so I'm just going to leave it as is.

One thing I am happy about is this was my first lapped zipper.  I've read tutorials but they still seemed confusing.  Funny that I should learn something like how to do a lapped zipper from a Big 4 pattern.

So. Much. Fun!

Cake Patterns Hummingbird Flounce Skirt - UFO

Monday, September 15, 2014

I have wanted to make a Hummingbird skirt for a while, but I wanted to get through my current list of projects first.  As you may recall, I wrote about making a Hummingbird peplum top.  Which I did.  But ... something about it is ... off.  I've put it on a couple times, modeled for Hubs, and he says it's "fine".  Well, for some reason I don't feel like it's fine.  I think that the front waist raises up too high, and the back waist is too low because the front is raised by my chest dwellers.  So I needed to compensate for that.  For now, it's just a finished top that sits lonely in my dresser.  Cue lone violin.

Since I'm not making a coordinating Hummingbird skirt for my top, I realized that I could really use a nice black skirt for work.  Lightbulb!

I wanted to find black cotton sateen, but of course Joann's website LIES and my store didn't have or couldn't find their bottom weight black sateen.  There was grey, purple, and some other colors.  But black?  No.  Sad face.  I'm pretty sure the one I picked up was a Sew Classic Bottomweight Wrinklease.  I needed something that wasn't demin so it was work appropriate, and I wanted a dressier look.  This one has a soft feel to it so I picked it up.  Unfortunately it's only 44" wide, and it's a whore for lint.  Awesome.  I asked the cutting counter for 2 1/2 yards but there were only 2 left on the bolt.  I was still charged for 2.5.  Not that I'm bitter.  Knowing I would likely wear tights with this skirt, I also picked up some Ambiance Lining which is woven with magic and feathers.  I bought it in Blackberry, a nice deep purple, just for a fun little secret inside my pants.  Hahahaha.  Okay, let's move on from that now. 

Now my trick was to squeeze a Hummingbird skirt (with flounce) out of a measly 2 yards of narrow fabric.  I shouldn't have needed more than 2 yards, but that's on 60" width.  I said a prayer and started cutting.
Yes, I cut on my floor.
I did make it, but my waist band couldn't be cut on the fold so I have a seam in the middle.  Well, whatever.  I never wear shirts tucked in anyway.

I then had to cut most of the pieces again out of my lining fabric.  Instead of a true lining, I actually underlined all of my pieces.  Since the skirt is more form fitting I thought this would prevent any annoying wrinkles between the layers.  This also allowed the flounce to be underlined as well.

I proceeded to baste all of my lining pieces to my outer pieces.  Then came construction.  The first part to construct are the sides with the pockets.  Let me tell you.  I felt like maybe I am not good enough for this, because I could not understand how it went together.  I stared at it, willing the pieces to tell me their secrets of how to go together.  I read over the directions some more.  I made sure my pieces were all in their proper alignment, because the top side skirt has faint shaping to it.  I finally just dove in, as per the usual, and it all worked out.  As per the usual!  In the end, the pockets are really quite a cool construction.  And just like Steph says, you can take in the side seams and the pockets still retain their shape.  It's beautiful construction.

I hand picked the zipper because they are awesome.  I struggled a little bit with finishing the waist band during the stitch in the ditch process.  I stitched in the ditch, but the stitches did not fully catch the waist band on the inside.  I took it to work and finished the interior with some hand stitching.

Gorgeous.  Just look at that!  It's so freaking pretty.  I'm getting really good at this sewing stuff.
I didn't bother with measuring length but I should have.  As soon as I tried this on I realized it was far, far too long.  So ultimately this has ended up being a UFO.  It's quite sad and at some point I want to take it apart and see what I can do to save it.

TEARS. :'(

News!

Just to cover some "administrative" tasks, I've recently had surgery which kept me down for a while, and I've been losing weight very quickly which makes selfish sewing difficult when I shrink out of clothes within weeks! I've finally started to sew again and feel like I've come back to my happy place. I've been making things that can be easily altered to accommodate my on-going weight loss.

With that said, I've fallen IN LOVE with both of Colette Patterns' Myrtle and Moneta dresses! To welcome the coming Fall, I've also sewn the ultimate in cozy, a Lola dress by Victory Patterns. Let me say, I can definitely tell that my mad skillz have advanced. Not only did the many and complicated looking pieces of Lola come together like a breeze, my seam matching is BEAUTIFUL. I far exceeded my expectations of myself here!

In addition to my mad skillz, I've decided I really need to advance my photography on this blog. So I'm digging out our DSLR and becoming friends with it. Wish me luck!

Book Recommendation & Giveaway!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My dear friend, Maria, has had her book published today! Check out this gorgeous cover!

Here is the description of In The Rearview:

When Meagan’s secret is found out, and she realizes there is no way to outrun her habit of cutting, she tries to work through it, and her depression, before she cuts too deep, making a mistake that can never be undone.
Meagan's problems aren't like every other adolescent's no matter how much she wishes they could be. Hers are worse. They've pulled her down into the depths of a depression that is anything but normal. She begins her pattern of self-harm as her depression threatens to drown her. She starts with one cut that leads to the next, and the next. After starting, it's apparent that there's no stopping, and Meagan spirals into a dark and cruel world she doesn't understand. Meagan cuts to feel better, but that comfort doesn't last long enough, and soon life is worse than it ever was before.
While learning to quit cutting Meagan faces life-altering obstacles and grows up in the process. IN THE REARVIEW is a story of pain, loss, confusion, and hope told through Meagan’s poems, journal entries, and a splash of narrative.
Maria is a very dear friend of mine and I can't wait to read her book! Maria Green currently lives here in Minnesota, despite its bitter winters, with her husband. She graduated with a degree in Psychology and a minor in English. When she isn’t writing, Maria loves to read with a cup of strong coffee or a glass of sweet wine, craft, and spend time with her family. This is her first published novel. I'm so excited for Maria and encourage you to download the eBook! 
Speaking of... anyone who buys this book, in any e-version the first week it's out, August 19th - 26th, and sends Maria an email verification (screen shot your purchase confirmation, forward the confirmation email, take a picture of your computer screen - whatever works) will be entered into the drawing to win a pretty cool set of prizes. Send the emails to: magauthorgiveaway@gmail.com
There will be three winners. If you win there are a few things you will be getting. First, you will receive a gifted copy of Maria's next published book in any e-version that you prefer. Second, because there is poetry in this book, Maria will write you poem that is specifically for you. The winner can feel free to provide personal information or likes to make the poem more specialized, but that is not required by any means. Third, Maria will name a character after each winner in her next book. She says she cannot guarantee that the character will live, or be a good guy, but the winners will get to be a character in a manuscript! Fourth, and finally, each winner will get a mention, by name, in Maria's next acknowledgments page. 

You can find Maria Green on the web and social media:

Go forth and read!