Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Starting Fresh!

So, it's been awhile.  I took a brief (okay, a year) hiatus from blogging while I did my student teaching and finished up my undergraduate degree.  I had a wonderful, productive, and rewarding year.  Although I stopped posting, I didn't stop sewing!  I still made a few things, but got out of the habit of taking regular pictures and writing posts.


Now, in less than a week, I'm onto the biggest adventure of my life so far: moving to Shanghai!  I'll be teaching K-6 music in an international school there for at least two years.  I've started a new blog, called Eastbound, to share my experiences living, exploring, teaching, eating, and of course, sewing! 

Shanghai Fabric Market

Because of my limited luggage allowance, I am not bringing my sewing machine.  However, once I get settled, I plan to buy one.  I've already started reading up on the best fabric stores (see this post by Adey of The Sew Convert!) and it can't be too hard to buy a sewing machine, even with my nonexistent Mandarin skills.  

I'd love it if you'd join me on my new adventure.  It'll be fun!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Happy Dad

Excuse the wrinkles, he had just gotten home!

My Dad's birthday was in July and I made him this lightweight, linen/rayon summer shirt.  It was the first time I'd made him anything so he knew about it because I wanted to take his measurements.  He didn't know what the fabric looked like, though, so that was a nice surprise!  I got it from  He saw the pattern that I used, McCall's 6044, and requested that I make the hem straight with a slit on each side so he could wear it untucked.  I think it worked pretty well!

Fabric: Linen/rayon blend from
Pattern: McCall's 6044
Year: 2010
Notions: 8 1/2" buttons, bought new
Time to complete: About 6 hours
Total cost: About $30

I've made this pattern twice before, in View D (pink with two pockets in the picture) for J.  Since I knew the pattern, I figured I'd have no problem whipping up the shirt the day before Dad's birthday dinner.  That whole day, I felt like I was on Project Runway!  I stopped for nothing and didn't even bother to change my iTunes playlist once it had repeated about three times.  Luckily I got it done in time, and Dad really likes it.  He wore it to work yesterday, but it's also great for lounging around the house in!

This shot is the best representation of the colors.

Side vent

I'm headed back to school in about two weeks, and from then until the beginning of September I won't have my sewing machine!  I'm thinking about taking along some embroidery projects, and I was just inspired by Casey's post on embroidery this morning.  I love the southern belle that she's working on!  What do you work on when you don't have access to a sewing machine? 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cruz Bay Top

Usually I'm the kind of girl that likes for my clothing to be fitted.  Not necessarily tight, just appropriate for my size.  I've always thought that dresses that nip in the waist and slim-fitting tops show off my figure better.  I've noticed the growing trend in very loose, flowly clothes, especially for summer.  I never thought I'd buy in but I finally did!  I saw this crazy fabric on sale at JoAnn and immediately thought of a loose casual top.  I love the summery colors and it's super soft.  It's something that I would've liked to have worn while walking around steamy Cruz Bay, the main town on St. John.

Fabric: Lightweight stretch jersey from JoAnn
Pattern: McCall's 6359, view A (99 cent pattern sale!)
Year: 2011
Notions: None!  Yay!
Time to complete: About 2 hours
First worn: July 2011
Wear again: Yup!
Total cost: About $7

I cut a 12, one size down from my measurements and the size I usually cut, but I definitely could've gone down to a 10.  I had to take in the sides right under the arms by about an inch and a half on both sides.  View A has facings, which I thought was a bit weird for a stretch jersey top at first, but I decided that I'd turn the interfacings into a bandeau bra with elastic to help keep up the strapless bra I knew I'd need to wear!  I just held the facing pieces up to a store-bought tank top with the look I wanted and elongated them accordingly, by roughly 2".  I used some 6/8" elastic that I had and cut it to my underbust (correct term?) measurement minus about an inch and stitched it to the facing using a zigzag stitch.  I tapered the facing in on the sides by about an inch and added darts to the front, but still I had to stretch the elastic a lot to fit!

Here's a shot of the front of the bandeau bra from the inside.  Sorry it's not super easy to see!

I also had to shorten the straps considerably.  Stitching the straps to the front is the last thing you do, so it's easy to get them exactly right.  Still, I think this top might work better in a woven material because as I've worn the top the straps have already stretched out.  

I love the racerback with the soft gathers.  The straps are first basted to the facing and then the facing is stitched to the back piece.  It's a bit of a pain to get the straps aligned correctly, but overall it's not a problem.

Hooray, it looks just as cute tucked into a skirt!  You know, in case I need that nipped-in waist look.

I'd love to make this top again, maybe in view C with lace as the straps and racerback.  I've come to realize that loose tops can actually be very flattering, and super comfortable when it's hot!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dress Refashion of Yesteryear

Hi all!  I thought I'd share a dress that I made a few years ago.  It's gotten a little tight in the bust so I don't wear it much anymore, but I still love it!

Note the almost complete flat-chestedness of 2009.

This was before I had my own machine, so I didn't do a ton of sewing.  When I did, it was on my mom's machine on the dining room table, which drove my family crazy because I always left a mess!  This dress was made from an old velvet dress of my mom's and a children's size lace dress that I used to play dress-up with.

Basically I just chopped off both dresses at the natural waist and sewed them together.  I must've also taken in the velvet to make it so fitted, but the lace isn't gathered at all.  There's a back zip that extends below where the velvet was cut.  I did a pretty shoddy job of attaching the lace to the zipper, but it looks alright.  This was my one and only time working with velvet and it's HARD!  My armhole hemming is wacky, with little threads sticking out, but luckily I didn't have to mess with the neckline.  When I pulled out the dress to inspect the finishing I realized I hadn't even attempted to finish the waist seam.  Yikes!

I also added buttons from my stash to one shoulder for some extra detail.  I actually got a lot of use out of this dress; I wore it to the symphony a few times and to a couple dinners with J.  It's shorter than what I normally wear but I love that it makes my legs look miles long!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


What do you think of the new layout?  The very talented Andrea from Andrea's Garden did it for me.  She was fantastic about incorporating the ideas I had with her own.  I'm so clueless about layout design that I could never have done this on my own.  Thanks again, Andrea!

My family and I got back from vacation on the 28th and I would love to say that I've been super busy and that's why I wasn't able to post, but I haven't!  I've just been relaxing.  Boyfriend (J) visited over the weekend and we had a great time exploring the city and watching the fireworks.  He bought me a beautiful vintage dress which I'll post pictures of once I get my act together!

For now, even though it isn't sewing-related, I'd love to show you a few pictures from my trip to the Virgin Islands.  It was beautiful and so relaxing!  Some of these were shot with my Mom's nice SLR and the rest were with my little point and shoot.

Cruz Bay

 Trunk Bay

Maho Beach

 Down the driveway of our rental home

Kayaking around Princess Bay

Crazy looking three-foot iguana!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pre-Vacation Projects

Yesterday was SO productive.  I'm leaving for vacation in the Virgin Islands tomorrow morning, so I didn't have anything to do all day other than pack.  I had plenty of time to get some sewing done!  

First, I made two little pouches using this fantastic tutorial, both to put in my carry-on tote bag.  The bigger one is for embroidery supplies (I'm working on a secret project that I'll post about when I get back!) and the other is for small makeup items.  They were made using scraps and the zippers were from my stash, so they cost zero dollars!  They fit nicely in my tote bag and don't take up too much room.

Next, I worked a little on the aforementioned embroidery project, which I don't have any pictures of yet because it's not finished!  Then, around 5pm, I decided I wanted a new pair of shorts to take along.  I've only made two pairs of shorts before (pre-blog) and neither fit very well.  Honestly I'm not sure what I was thinking, starting a project that late in the day!

Fabric: Quilting cotton leftover from this skirt.
Pattern:P111B from 6/2011 BurdaStyle.  
Notions: Just a 9" invisible zipper from my stash.
Time to complete: About 3 hours
First worn: Just to take the pictures.
Wear again: Definitely!
Total cost: $0!

I'm super happy with how these shorts turned out, but I made so many mistakes during the process!  The biggest one was forgetting to add the seam allowance to the back piece.  I realized what I'd done right before cutting out the front piece, so I doubled the seam allowance on the front pieces.  To make up for the missing upper seam allowance on the back pieces, I cut a small strip and sewed it on before I sewed the darts.  Here's a picture for clarification:

I think the extra piece actually looks kind of cool, like a little pleat.  After sewing the waistband and facing on I realized they were actually too big, so I had to take in the waistband a little.  I'm glad I left the back pockets off because it would've made taking in the waitsband really difficult. Now they're perfect, and I can't wait to wear them!

I finished the hem with some bubblegum-pink lace tape.  I love little touches like this that make the garment personal!

I'll be gone for about a week and a half, and I'm taking my computer with me but I probably won't be posting very much.  Have a good rest of June!