Sarrouel Trousers muslin from “She Wears the Pants”

Sarrouel Trousers muslin - finished

I picked up She Wears the Pants, a Japanese sewing book by Yuko Takada, on an impulse while running to catch a train last week.  Previous Japanese sewing books that I’ve seen have turned me off with super boxy styles and titles like Sweet Dress Book.  When was the last time I wore a sweet dress?  This one, however, really caught my eye.  The original title translates to “She Has a Mannish Style,” which I think suits me perfectly.  The designs are androgynous but not tent-like (for the most part), with some really interesting details and challenging techniques.  I was intrigued!

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Simple sunshiny summer skirt (Simplicity 1717)

Yellow chevron skirt - Simplicity 1717 - front

Happy Memorial Day to those of you in the US!  As today is the unofficial start to a very long-awaited summer, I have a cheerful, sunshiny yellow skirt to share with you.  It’s a quick and simple project, and it represents the sum total of my sewing over the last month.  Yikes!  As you know, I recently moved apartments, and the move basically sucked up all of my free time for the last several weeks.  So glad it’s over with!  Even better, this roof deck is now home.  That’s right folks, I finally have a private, outdoor location for taking blog photos.  Let us all rejoice in sewing blogger bliss!

All right, back to the skirt.  That’s what you came here for, right?  :)

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On the road again: a short blogging break

Sewing machines packed

Hello friends!  I just wanted to pop in and let you know that I’ll be taking a short break from sewing and blogging for a week or two.  My machines and fabric are currently packed up in anticipation of an upcoming apartment move.  Ah, moving.  Is there anything more stressful and exhausting?  Well yes, actually, plenty of things, but moving is still a pain in the butt.  Fortunately this is just a local move (less than 1 mile away), which actually makes things a lot easier.  I still may be moving farther away once I graduate, but I won’t figure that out for a few more months.

In the meantime, I’ll be spending this week sitting on a lawn chair in my current apartment among ceiling-high piles of boxes, perhaps petting the box of fabric once in a while just to keep my spirits up.  (And yes, all my fabric fits in one box.  In fact, just a small portion of one box!)

Despite the chaos, I’ve been doing my best to keep up my MMM’15 pledge.  Packing and moving are not exactly conducive to wearing your precious handmade garments, but so far I’ve only missed 2 days, both of which involved full days of cleaning, packing, and generally being covered in dirt and dust.  Today I was back at work in my granny chic tank though, and I really enjoyed wearing it!

I’ll be reading blogs sporadically but probably much less than usual, so I apologize in advance for disappearing from all your wonderful blogs for a bit.  I’ll be back soon though, with a new sewing space (in the penthouse!), more natural light for blog photography (a skylight and adjoining roof deck!), and a permanent photographer (a man!).  Until then, happy sewing.  :)

On my bookshelf: The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff

The Art of Manipulating Fabric - cover

Today I’d like to share one of my absolute favorite sewing books: The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff, published in 1996.  Simply stated, this book is nothing short of a masterpiece.  It covers, in great detail, the full spectrum of fabric manipulation techniques from simple gathering and pleating to complex structural forms that combine multiple elements into works of textile art.  If you have any interest in learning about the world of fabric transformations, even if you only use it as inspiration or eye candy, I would highly recommend checking out Colette’s exhaustive manual.  Honestly, it blew my mind!

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Granny chic and chambray self-drafted racerback tanks

Chambray and granny chic racerback tanks

Today I’ve got 2 finished summer tops to show you, drafted from scratch by me!  Hooray for actually using my sloper to create some finished garments!  You’ve already seen the chambray tank on the hanger a few weeks ago, and I also sewed up a floral version that I’m calling “granny chic,” since I can’t decide whether this print is granny-fabulous or just plain eye-searing.  I do think it looks good with a white skirt though, so I’m calling it a win!

Project Stats:

Pattern: Self-drafted from my sloper

Fabric: Robert Kaufman cotton chambray dots in burgundy, Bonnie Christine Aves Chatter Voile in Dim, Heather Ross Briar Rose Cricket Clover in pink/white (all 100% cotton).  Embellishments: “vintage” (?) piece of lace from a mystery box of goodies, metallic tailor’s tape.

Modifications: Starting with my bodice sloper, I added a deep V-neck, deepened the armholes, and added an aggressive racerback.  The “peplum” (not actually a flounce) is the top portion of a maxi skirt that I drafted from my skirt sloper.  I added a slight shirttail/curved hem.

Level of crafty satisfaction: Although I fully admit that these tanks look a bit like “my first drafting projects” (which they totally are!) and have a few fit issues, I’m excited to have finally used my sloper to create some finished garments.  I’m sure drafting your own patterns is a journey, and I’ve just started to take my first steps.  Lots to learn!

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My pledge for Me-Made-May ’15: wear whatever the heck I want!

Me Made May 15

Breaking news: I’ve decided to join in the fun and participate in Me-Made-May ’15!  It took me a while to decide if I was going to pledge or not, mostly because I really dislike any rules or deadlines imposed on my sewing.  I find that sewing-related obligations suck all the fun right out of my hobby, and who wants that?  So, I’ve decided to make my pledge flexible and not hold myself to any strict rules.  In fact, I’m going to do exactly what I did last year, which worked out really well for me.  I had a lot of fun, wore a lot of my handmade garments, and didn’t feel any pressure!

Here’s my pledge:

I, Carolyn, of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15.  I endeavor to be mindful of my handmade wardrobe each day for the duration of May 2015.

And here are my guidelines (not rules!):

  • Write down what I wear each day, including all handmade garments and accessories.
  • Consciously think about wearing at least one handmade garment each day.  I will ask myself each morning, “What handmade items can I wear today?”
  • If I don’t feel like wearing anything handmade, I won’t force myself.
  • As the month goes on, I will try to wear handmade garments that haven’t been worn earlier in the month.

That’s it!  Not too bad, right?  I think I can live with this for a month.  :)

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Floral voile Archer – finished!

Floral voile Archer - finished

Today I’m excited to finally share my finished Floral voile Archer!  I sewed this up a few weeks ago but had to delay the photo shoot while I recovered from a slew of various aliments, but thankfully I’m (almost) all better and have a new shirt to model for you.  :)  It’s no secret that the Archer is one of my favorite patterns, and this is the 6th one that I’ve added to my wardrobe.  This one is made in a blue and white printed voile that I think is perfectly light and breezy for the summer, topped off with some striped details on the collar and cuffs.  Simply put, I love it!

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Lily Sage & Co patterns!

Lily Sage & Co

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not the type of sewist who snaps up the latest indie patterns as soon as they’re released.  In fact, I hardly ever buy any patterns at all, mostly due to my limited sewing time, limited disposable income, and very specific tastes in clothing from both stylistic and functional standpoints.

BUT.  I am thrilled to see that Debbie of Lily Sage & Co has started releasing women’s sewing patterns.  Debbie is hands down my style icon, and I am a huge fan of her work.  She has a very unique, fresh, and modern aesthetic, and she isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of traditional fashion and come up with some really exciting and — dare I say it — thoughtprovoking garments.  And let’s face it, she has a killer body and can pull off just about any garment you can imagine.  Go Debbie!

She just released her first women’s sewing pattern, the Sea Change top, which you can check out in her store.  There’s even a discount code for the next 7 days.  She also has a girl’s dress pattern, the Twirl to Me dress, that she released a few weeks ago.  I absolutely cannot wait to see what she comes up with next, and I’m looking forward to building my own fabulous Debbie-inspired wardrobe.  Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly be a bigger Debbie fangirl, she goes and starts releasing her original designs.  Ahhhh!

For the record, Debbie isn’t paying me to say any of this, and in fact, she has no idea that I’m writing this post at all.  I’m not affiliated with her or her pattern company in any way.  I’m just a huge fangirl and want to share the love.  :)

In conclusion, I’m absolutely thrilled to see such a fresh, modern aesthetic injected into the realm of indie sewing patterns, and I wish Debbie the best of luck in her new endeavor.  Hooray!

Chambray racerback peplum tank (almost done)

Chambray racerback peplum tank - front

There’s something about a quick sewing project that’s really uplifting.  My life outside of sewing has been extremely stressful lately, and I find that diving head first into a satisfying sewing project can be a very healing, restorative process.  I’m sure you can relate.  I whipped up this tank during a day off from work today (a mental health day in the truest form), and I’m quite delighted with the result.  I’d say it’s *almost* done at this point, just lacking a little piece of flair.

This top is self-drafted from my bodice sloper, and I used the modifications I had made for my self-drafted maxi dress that I never got around to sewing in real fabric.  Essentially I took the sloper and added a racerback, deepened the armholes, and added a deep V-neckline.  For the peplum, I simply chopped off the maxi skirt and left the top ~8 inches, adding a slight shirttail hem.

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Do you finish raw edges before pre-washing?

Finishing edges before pre-washing 1

When I first started sewing a few years ago, I read somewhere that you should always finish the raw edges of new fabric before tossing it in the wash.  Of course, I totally ignored this and proceeded to deal with the huge tangles of thread that would form in the washer and strangle, mangle, and distort my precious fabric.  WHY I ignored this very simple piece of advice is beyond me.  What can I say?  I’m hopelessly stubborn!

Finishing edges before pre-washing 2

About six months ago, I finally decided to give this whole “finishing the edges” thing a try.  I used a wide and long zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to wrap up the edges of my wovens, tying the ends in knots to secure them.  Once I got my serger, I switched to serging the edges but continue to knot the ends.

And you know what?  IT WORKS BEAUTIFULLY.  Who knew??  :)  No longer do I have to get out my scissors and surgically remove the huge knots of thread from my freshly washed fabrics, nor do I have to worry about the threads wrapping so tightly around the fabric in the wash that they actually hinder the washing process.  It only takes a few minutes to zip the raw edges through the serger, and I save myself so much drama and aggravation.  I am shaking my head at my former, stubborn self.  :)

New fabric from Gather Here sidewalk saleThe fabrics you’re seeing are newly purchased from the semi-annual sidewalk sale at Gather Here, my local fabric shop.  There’s something about a good sale that completely annihilates my usual discerning shopping habits – it’s quite amazing, actually!  I surprise myself with the fabric choices I make when price is no longer an issue.  Behold: I totally strayed from my color palette and bought a bunch of cheery springtime prints.  The 4 on the left are cotton voiles and quilting cottons, and the deep print on the right is one of the new Art Gallery rayons.  I’ve never worked with this rayon and am excited to give it a try.  I’m picturing loose tops and floaty skirts for all 5 fabrics.  Yay!

In other news, I have a finished floral Archer to show you, but due to various maladies that I’ve been dealing with this week, I’m not quite photoshoot-ready.  Suffice it to say that this week hasn’t been the greatest, but at least I have a pretty new pile of fabric to enjoy, pre-washed and free of knots and tangles.  :)

So tell me, do you finish the raw edges of your new fabrics before pre-washing, or do you happily deal with the thread tangles?