Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunshine makes for MUCH better photos.

We got about 12 minutes of sunshine this afternoon.  I spent about 8 of those minutes frantically searching for my camera and snapping pictures of some little projects I've done recently.  For the other 4 minutes I sat right by the window, closed my eyes, and soaked up some vitamin D!

Here's one of the little projects I did last week.  I decided it was unfair of me to leave my poor machine out to collect dust and then expect it to work properly whenever I want it to, so I made a simple cover.  The middle part was a stocking stuffer from my Mom.  It's actually a dish towel from Girls Can Tell, but I thought the sewing machine diagram was too cute to be used in the kitchen!  I used some cotton leftovers for the sides and did a simple double hem.  Easy and quick!

The other things I've been working on are for my Mom's birthday on Thursday.  I'll post pictures once I know she's gotten her package!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Watercolor Blouse

Earlier this week when I started working on this blouse, it definitely felt like spring.  Now, not so much.  As soon as I saw this fabric I started thinking about the watercolor-looking blouses I've seen in stores like Banana Republic and Anthro.

I used McCall's 5661, and it was a breeze to put together.  It has cap sleeves, bust and waist darts, and it buttons up the back.  I cut a size 12, which is a size down from my actual measurements, and it fits perfectly.  My only changes were to add about 1" to the length and to make the sash half as wide.  I also added two buttons to the back because I felt like it'd gap with only five.

My main problem was the fabric.  It's 100% polyester (I know, but I fell in love with the print!) and I've never worked with a fabric this slippery before!  It frayed all over the place, so I finished every seam.  I also sealed the inside of the buttonholes with Fray Check.  I thought about doing bound buttonholes but I read that those aren't normally used on thin fabrics.  What kind of buttonholes and other techniques do you use on light fabrics that fray easily?

I'm really happy with how this turned out and I think I'll get a lot of use out of it.  I can see it over jeans or tucked into a skirt.  This pattern is super versatile and I already have tons of versions planned out in my head.  How about one with a border fabric at the bottom, or a scalloped back where the buttons are?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Book Review: "Designing Dress Patterns"

Yesterday I picked up a few sewing books at the design library on campus, so I'm going to do a review of each one over the next couple of days.  

First is "Desigining Dress Patterns" by Helen Nicol Tanous, first published in 1951.  The version I have is from  1971 and it definitely shows in the language and pictures!

Tanous provides basic front bodice, back bodice, skirt, and sleeve blocks.  You could enlarge them as she says, by blocking off your paper in 1 inch squares and drawing the blocks as the appear in the diagram, or you could take it to a copy shop and enlarge it by 4x.  The blocks are in size 14 but she provides information on grading later. 

The first seven chapters are dedicated to the bodice: dart control, slash and spread, yokes, pleats, combining darts and gathers, and completing the pattern.  There are SO MANY cute bodice ideas in these chapters!  Here are pictures of some of my favorites:

The other chapters are divided as follows: skirts, sleeves, collars, coats and suits (and capes!), playclothes (which includes panties, pants, shorts, playsuits, and bras--adorable!), children's clothes, and design.  

Peter Pan collar:


Bras (or bathing suits!):

Little girls' dresses:

I love how this book is laid out.  Each page has a different design with minimum text and large, clear pictures.  The designs are timeless and can be altered in so many ways!  Even though I haven't tried to draft any patterns from this book yet, just by flipping through and reading the directions I can tell it will be simple.

I just snagged a used copy for $10 on Amazon and there are plenty left.  To me, this is the perfect combination of clear pictures and directions.  I can't wait to use it!

Note: I'm not being paid or compensated to write this review and am not affiliated with the author.  I'm just stating my opinion!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Well, I'm officially the most awkward self-photographer ever.  It took me about 30 shots to get this one.  Seriously.  My camera was sitting on top of my music stand, which I couldn't raise any higher, so the top of my head is cut off.  Oy.  Any tips on being your own photographer?

Anyways, I was inspired by Sydney over at The Daybook.  She did a post about thrifting here and styled this boring, boxy top to make it something really wearable and current.  I found this top at Goodwill last weekend and fell in love with the print, even though it might be a bit grandma.  There's a back slit and a button, which needs to be replaced.  I can't tell if I should take it in or leave it as-is.  Thoughts?

I'm struggling through the finishing steps of Butterick 5319, which I'm making for a friend.  My zipper foot broke so I ordered a new one yesterday, along with a hemming foot that I'm excited to try out!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Smooth Sailing Skirt

I've done a bad thing...I took pictures before I actually finished the garment!  I rarely do that, but I know this week's going to be crazy and I won't get a chance to take pictures for awhile.  And it just needs to be hemmed.  Okay, maybe I was also a little excited about posting.

As soon as I rescued this fabric from the sale shelf at JoAnn, I knew it had to be a skirt.  I made a simple rectangle shape and gathered it at the top with elastic.  It's also lined since I knew the fabric would be see-through, and it has pockets.

I feel like it might be a little too poofy, but a good pressing might help.  I did make a pretty huge was the length of the fabric, which was 45".  Maybe I'll take a little off the sides next time!

Anyway, it's great for twirling around in and I can't wait to wear it when it warms up outside.  Oh and aren't those shoes cute?  I got them for $1.50 at Goodwill and they're hardly worn.  I love when that happens!

Have you started working on any spring projects yet?  I'm rescuing a Goodwill blouse with some new buttons and have another top in the queue.  Happy Sunday!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Origami Inspiration

How fantastic is this dress?  I can't believe I haven't discovered Jigsaw's like a toned-down Anthropologie.  It has lots of great basic pieces with interesting embellishment, like the one above.  I'd love to try to copy it but I wouldn't even know where to begin.  Are the vertical pieces cut and sewn on separately or are they part of the body?  It's a little out of my price range, but maybe for a special occasion.  I am going to a wedding this summer...

Here are some other favorites:

Happy Friday!!