Monthly Archives: September 2011

Wow, I can’t believe it’s the end of the month! I can’t believe I wore all things I’ve made for 30 days!

Day 29 was a repeat of day 7, my contrast-yoke Butterick 5217 shirt in blue and black, which I still love. No picture, though, I ran out of time in the morning and ran out of light in the evening.

I did have some sewing time last night, so I whipped up one last item to wear for the last day of Self-Stitched-September:

It’s the free one-piece kimono tee pattern from BurdaStyle. I wanted an easy tee pattern for this fabric, which my mom bought at the Crazy Fabric Store (which I will post about soon, really), cut a tank top out of while she was visiting, and left the rest of the fabric for me.  I had just enough for this pattern, which took longer to tape together than to cut out and sew. It was incredibly easy, just the side seams and the neck band.  I left the bottom edge and sleeves unfinished, a hem would have done weird things to this really thin fabric, and made the sleeves even more wing-like than they already are. I’m wearing a cami underneath, because the fabric is actually pretty see-through. This is the size small, and it’s a little big on top and kind of tight on the bottom, but I left it as is.  I also ran the stripes vertically, for fun and because otherwise I’d have needed a shoulder seam, although the stretch is mostly in the horizontal-stripe direction. I think I cut the neck band a little small and stretched it too much, because the neckline is slightly (unintentionally) gathered.  I’m fine with it, though.  If I make this shirt again (and why wouldn’t I, it’s so easy), I’ll cut the neck opening wider for more of a boatneck, which I think makes more sense for the style. But I’m happy with this version (I’ll call it my baker’s twine shirt, since that’s what the fabric reminds me of), and it seems like a good way to end my self-stitched month.

So I guess I should do some sort of conclusion, a what-did-you-learn type analysis of the month. Well, I did get through with only a few repeat outfits, and I also have several dresses that I didn’t wear because they were too dressy or not seasonally appropriate (whatever season this was), so I’m pretty amazed that I’ve made all this stuff! What was most interesting about the month, though, is that I didn’t really ever find myself missing my RTW clothes.  In fact, it feels weird that tomorrow I can go back to wearing whatever I want… it’ll probably be a self-stitched item! I ended up being pretty excited every day to wear things I’d made, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  I will say that it would have been harder if we hadn’t had the Hawaiian vacation for a week, since I definitely have mostly casual dresses and skirts and I really need more work appropriate dresses. And on that note, I kind of discovered how much I like wearing skirts and dresses instead of pants – more fun and more comfortable! So overall it was a really great experience, an insight into my developing fashion sense, and a great way to get in the blogging habit. I won’t, however, miss having to take a picture every day!

So now I embark on my fall sewing, knowing that I want more things I can wear to work (since I’m there 6 days a week after all), and feeling okay about wanting to make skirts and dresses all the time. Though right now I’m considering starting with a jacket…


Well, I’m back home and jumped right back in to work today, after just 4 hours of sleep last night (the time difference from Hawaii does not work to our advantage coming home). I’ve had a bit of an SSS stall-out, with no picture for today or yesterday, but both were repeats anyway.  Yesterday to fly home I wore my grey jersey skirt from day 15, and today was the Vogue 1224 from day 1. I do have a picture from Sunday, day 25, and our last full day in Hawaii:

Did manage to get a little quality hammock time after a morning of snorkeling.  I’m wearing my muslin of my Butterick 5181, last seen on my cutting table. It’s not at all perfect, and the bodice suffers from my laziness in the form of no understitching, so the self lining is always rolling to the outside, but it’s just as comfy as the blue version and a totally wearable muslin.

I’m reading on my Kindle, which I’ve had for a few months now and I have to say I love it. It was one of those things that I initially scoffed at – ‘it’s just technology for technology’s sake, it only does one thing, I’d never use something like that’ – and then suddenly I started thinking about my rapidly diminishing bookshelf space and my ever-growing fabric stash and I realised electronic books were the solution I didn’t know I’d been looking for.  And it’s been great. It’s light (no more sore thumbs from holding a hardcover open for hours), easy to read (the screen really does look almost like print on a page), and doesn’t take up much room in a carry-on bag (more room for Hawaiian souvenirs and snacks. Mostly snacks). It’s perfect for travel and I like it at home too.  I highly recommend going the e-book route if you’re looking to recapture more room in your house for fabric!

Anyway, the normal work routine will recommence next week, but I’m looking forward to having a few evenings this week free to start my fall sewing, which after a week of summer-dress-wearing I am finally excited about! Of course that means the summer weather we haven’t had all summer has just arrived for the end of the month, so rather than finishing out SSS with fallish items sewn last year, I’ll have to repeat my summer clothes for the last three days… oh well.

It turns out it’s much harder to get good outfit shots on vacation than I thought – these are real “action” shots, in the sense that I didn’t just check the mirror, make sure my hair is okay, find the perfect pose and take gazillions of shots to choose the best one…

But anyway, here’s day 22, our 3rd day in Hawaii, worn to the National Botanical Gardens:

I bought this fabric back in May at Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley with exactly this dress in mind, but no pattern.  I have a couple Old Navy knit dresses in this style, and I thought maybe I could trace one and duplicate it that way, but I’m a chicken so I went looking for a commercial pattern.  You know how hard it is to find a two-triangle-bodice-with-midriff-band-and-spaghetti-straps dress pattern? There aren’t any for knits.  So this is Butterick 5181, another pattern for wovens I converted to knit.  It may have been easier to trace my existing dress. I eliminated the center back seam/zipper, took a half inch off the center front midriff and center back midriff and bodice, another half inch off the side seams, eliminated the front and back bodice darts, gathered under the bust a little, and made the skirt about 8 inches narrower total (the skirt is drafted to have a ton of gathering, and I didn’t want the fullness, plus I didn’t have enough fabric). It turned out pretty good in the end, and I’m happy that for once when I bought fabric without a pattern in mind it turned out exactly as I intended it to (instead of turning into something else entirely or languishing in the stash). The one thing I did notice as I wore it was that it started off fitting around the midriff, and by the middle of the day it was much too large… must have stretched out! It’s a rayon knit without much recovery, I guess, but hopefully it’ll shape back up when I wash it. Full pattern review is here. Oh, and here it is in action at the tree where they found the eggs in Jurassic Park. They filmed that in the Botanical Garden, as well as the most recent Pirates movie, which I carefully ignored on the plane ride over, but I clearly should have watched so I would have recognised all the locations!

On day 23, we started at the beach, getting some snorkeling in despite it being really, really windy.  I wore this beach coverup, which was one of the first things I made – trying to catch the shirring craze:

It’s a cotton print I found in the bulk bin at the local fabric store, a little on-the-nose for Hawaii, but okay. I used the Heather Ross Mendocino sundress pattern, which I was excited about since I’s seen so many people have made really cute ones, but it was a pain to sew.  Granted, the shape is nice, and it’s easy to wear, but what’s keeping me from making another one is the memory of how annoying it was to sew that many rows of shirring.  I’ve avoided shirring ever since, though I really should give it another shot, I guess.

Later in the day we took a downhill bike tour of Waimea Canyon, and I wore my jersey skirt from day 8 (with shorts underneath!) for the ride.  It was really fun and the canyon is beautiful, I highly recommend it if you visit Kauai. Here’s me and the other half at one of the canyon lookouts:

More adventures on day 23 – we took a boat tour up the Na Pali coast and out by Ni’ihau where we snorkeled. I wore my second version of McCall’s 6347 (racerback view), originally reviewed here. I did make the armholes much higher on this new version, and cut the shoulders at an XS rather than a S, and it worked much better.  Instead of a tie in back, I made a loop that I sewed in place around the straps, for a flatter back.  I highly recommend this view of the pattern if you want a super quick, easy, no fuss knit dress. It made a good swimsuit coverup for the ride out!

I’m on a boat!

Here’s my dress for Self-Stitched-September day 21, day 2 in Hawaii:

This is my last-minute dress, cut on Sunday night, completed on Monday literally 15 minutes before packing. I wanted one of those jersey skirts that converts to a tube-top halter dress, and I could’ve sworn McCall’s had one in their catalog earlier this year, but when I went looking it was nowhere to be found… Maybe I imagined it? Anyway, they had this pattern, McCall’s 6113, which was the dress style I wanted anyway even if it’s not also a skirt. I bought the pattern on Saturday (JoAnn pattern sale!), and fantasized that I could have it done in time for the trip.  And lo and behold, I did! This may be the fastest I’ve ever made something, from conception to completion. So obviously it’s a pretty easy pattern. It’s a pattern for wovens, though, and I wanted a knit dress, so I had to make it a lot smaller (cutting a 6 and taking another inch off each bodice side seam).  I also modified the skirt to a more traditional shape – I wasn’t interested in the drama of a full handkerchief hem, and I only had a yard and a half of fabric (another find from my Crazy Fabric Store). My full pattern review is here.

The dress worked really well for my Hawaiian adventures yesterday – it’s an easy dress to change into out of a bathing suit in a beach bathroom (no armholes, yay!), which I did twice (lots of snorkeling), but also appropriate for, say, a farmer’s market, which we also did:

Look at all that crazy fruit!

I did end up pulling the back of the dress up all day, but for the most part I didn’t feel like full exposure was eminent, so I’m calling it a success. I don’t know that I’ll really wear it back home, since it really begs for super warm weather, but it’s the perfect vacation dress. So glad I finished it. Now if I could just go back in time and tell my frantically-trying-to-finish-in-time-to-pack self that all the bobbin-thread-running-out and machine-tension-wonky related cursing and stress was totally worth it…

We leave tomorrow for Hawaii, so it was time to pack my self-stitched suitcase:

I was slightly amazed that I was able to pack 2 self-stitched cardigans, 8 self-stitched dresses and 4 self-stitched skirts! I am bringing things I didn’t make too – swimsuits for one, as well as a bunch of purchased camis to go with the skirts. But I’ll definitely be able to continue SSS on my trip!

Today’s outfit was a repeat of day 14 (since all my new stuff went into the suitcase), but I’ll soon be posting pictures of all these items with way more interesting backgrounds than my deck.

Ready to go!

Another Self-Stitched-September update – here is day 17:

I am clearly miffed that the lousy weather necessitates the wearing of leggings and a cardigan with this cute dress… particularly since the bodice is the interesting part of the pattern! It’s Butterick 5491 (made in may, review here), in an ITY-y knit from Michael Levine in LA. I love the print, but the fabric is pretty thin and there are a bunch of faint grey streaks, like grease marks from a roller or something, all over the fabric (which I of course didn’t notice until I went to cut). I thought I’d avoided them all with creative cutting, but realised when I wore it the first time that there’s one dead center on the skirt front! At least the pattern is busy. I have to say that I think that online fabric shopping is really the way to go, I’ve gotten much higher quality knits for cheaper online than I can even find in the most famous fabric store in the LA fashion district!

And here’s what I’m wearing today (it’s kind of weird to edit a picture of the outfit you’re wearing, isn’t it?):

In my determination to go as long as possible without a repeated item, I whipped up this skirt last night. It’s a border print cotton from my favorite Crazy Fabric Store, and I basically followed this tutorial to make an elastic waist skirt. I didn’t do pockets (though I love them) because I was rushing. This is about the easiest skirt ever. I cut my border print into a 25 inch length, then cut it lengthwise about 5 inches down from the fold (I didn’t actually cut, I ripped, which is way faster and makes it perfectly square!), making two rectangles 25 by 22 inches. I serged all the edges, sewed the side seams, and hemmed the bottom with a blind hem stitch.  I then attached the skirt to my 30 inch elastic waistband like the tutorial instructs, stretching the elastic as I went to create the gathers. The one thing I did differently was I sewed the right side of the fabric to the wrong side of the elastic, which means less pouf since the skirt comes out facing straight down, and it leaves the whole height of the elastic exposed, which I like better for the proportions of the skirt.  The stitching line is visible up close on the outside of the elastic, but it’s not obvious. Here’s a detail of the waistband showing the inside and outside:

I’m not totally convinced this style skirt is flattering on me (hip pouf is not my best friend), but I do like the way it turned out. And it was so easy!

I’ve gotten a bit behind on Self-Stitched-September pictures, but I’m ahead on actual sewing! Behold three finished objects:

From right to left, Butterick 5181 in a rayon jersey, Simplicity 2417 cardigan (shortened), and McCall’s 6347 (racerback view).  I’ve been a sewing machine the last few nights! Wait, that doesn’t work… I’ve been a machine at my machine, let’s try that. Anyway, on-body pictures and full reviews to follow, when I wear them in Hawaii next week! I still want to whip out at least one more thing before we go -I’ve got a nice piece of turquoise jersey that I can’t decide what to do with. An easy knit dress for sure, but which one? I remember seeing a convertible skirt-to-halter-dress in one of the pattern books (McCall’s?) earlier this year, but the pattern is nowhere to be found now on any of the big 5’s websites. Did I imagine it? It would be perfect if I could find it!

And here are my outfits for the last few days. Day 14:

This is Simplicity 3503. I used a cotton jersey with a little stretch but not a lot of recovery, so it doesn’t drape very nicely and it lays a little funny in the back (and it’s prone to wrinkles), but I like the pattern and the dress falls into that niche of not-too-dressy-for-work that I love, so it gets a lot of wear.  I never reviewed it because there are so many lovely reviews already and my version is nothing special.  I will say I think the pattern runs big, the 10 is even a little loose at the waist for me, which is rare. I also can’t really wear it without a cami underneath; not because it’s too low in front, but because my bra shows in the deep back v! I really needed to take out more along the neckline for an SBA. Next time!

Day 15:

What am I doing in this picture? (Other than wearing these shoes again.) I have no idea. I’ve been trying to mix up the poses for the SSS pictures, but this is just wacky.  Also, I was losing the light, so all my other pictures were pretty motion-blurry from the slower shutter speed. Please ignore my crazy model pose attempt! Anyway, as part of my aforementioned sewing frenzy, I managed to whip up this jersey skirt (yes, another one) the night before I wore it. I’m pretty proud that I finished this one up in just a couple hours from cut to hem! It’s longer and gathered more than my last one. So far no two are alike, despite them all using the same template.  I’m the least consistent sewist ever. Oh well, it works, and is in a very practical charcoal jersey that’ll get a lot of use, I think.

Day 16:

A terrible early morning picture, taken seconds before rushing out the door at 8:30 to go to a 7 hour meeting/retreat. The yawn is staged, but certainly representative of how I was feeling! The top is McCall’s 6078, reviewed here. I love this fabric, found in the remnant bin of my local old-school fabric store (as in run by little old ladies). They have a very traditional (as in old-fashioned) print selection usually, so I was shocked to find this mod ITY. I also love how easy this pattern is.  I need to pull it out again and make more!

That’s all for now, back to sewing!

Just a quick post to keep up with my Self-Stitched-September pics!

Yesterday during the day I wore the top from day 2, but I changed into this dress to go out to dinner:

This was the second dress I ever made. I wore it for an opening over a year ago and haven’t worn it since (mainly because I pretty much only wear nice dresses for big work events, and I like to wear something different to every event). I knew it was there, hanging in my closet all this time, but I was ignoring it for some reason… but once I pulled it out I remembered how much I like it! The pattern is McCall’s 5094, and the fabric is a cotton stretch poplin from Mood in LA (bought on my first visit there).  I kind of love the fabric, and it’s really fun in the full-skirted style.  Oh, and the back is probably my favorite thing about this pattern:

The funny triangle cutout is not at all obvious in the line drawing, and was a bit of a surprise when I muslined the bodice! I’m kind of proud of the job I did with this dress – it’s got a really clean finish, there are no obvious sewing mistakes (I realized after taking the pictures that the hook on the top of the zipper is not hooked – d’oh! – so please disregard the gaping at the top of the midriff, it’s not actually like that), and sure, I could have done a better (by which I mean actual) SBA, but for my second garment ever it’s pretty good! I’ll have to stop passing it by in the closet. I never did a pattern review, since I made it well before I knew that site existed, but as far as I remember I made no substantial modifications (other than eliminating the tie on the back and using a flat slide hook with a decorative covered button on the outside where the back bodice triangles meet). I do recall there being a missing step in the back bodice construction instructions; when you sew the lining and bodice together, there’s a side you’re never instructed to sew, but you need to for a completely finished bodice! I think it was the bottom of the triangle pieces. Read through that section carefully and think about all the edges that should be enclosed if you’re making this view. I do recommend the pattern!

Here’s my outfit for (all of) day 13:

The top is Simplicity 2593, the Cynthia Rowley twist-neck top. This was maybe the third or fourth garment I ever made, and my first top.  The fabric is a poplin from that same first trip to Mood.  This is a good pattern, but it is pretty boxy, and even with taking in the sides a bit it’s still kind of shapeless and poufy in front. My neckline piece is twisted more than called for, I think, because I wanted it to be a little narrower… we’re treading awfully close to circus territory with the polka dots and I didn’t want a huge collar. I’ve actually gotten a fair bit of wear out of this top, and I do like it.

I’ve actually managed to get a fair bit of sewing in the last two days, frantically trying to make some more things to bring on my trip to Hawaii next week (!) My mom actually helped me cut out three things while she was visiting (thanks Mom!), so that helped a lot and I might actually be able to get all the things done I wanted to. Hooray for progress! I’ll close with a spinny picture to express my sewing-time-happiness:

Here’s what I wore today, day 11 of Self-Stitched-September – and hey look, I’m not on my deck or in my house!

My mom is visiting, so I’ll be doing a bit of local sightseeing in the next couple days.  Today we stopped by Solvang briefly to go to the Crazy Fabric Store (I grabbed some pictures as well as a few cuts of fabric, post forthcoming), and we ate lunch then grabbed some ice cream – I am holding our half mango sorbet, half pistachio gelato.

The skirt is my self-stitched item, Butterick 5466.  This was one of my first patterns, and I made three skirts from it last winter.  I like the pattern a lot, but I would say its limiting factor is no pockets. I think it’s time for me to move on to a pencil skirt pattern with a pocket option (my first candidate is Simplicity 2343, once I give in to fall sewing). This version of the Butterick is view B (darts and waistband) in a strange ribbed stretch denim from the bolt-end bin at my local fabric store (not the one we visited today).  It is, I have to say, the most comfortable pencil skirt ever because the fabric is so stretchy! When I first made this skirt I wasn’t thrilled with it, but then I realised how much better it looked with shirts tucked in rather than out (as was my tendency), because what really works on this pattern is the shaping and close fit at the waist.  I got tons of compliments on it at work today! (And I don’t know why it wants to crease so bad at the hemline… even ironing – if, for instance, I did that -doesn’t help.)

After work, mom and I had dinner at the most marvelous pizza restaurant – Full of Life Flatbread. It’s just off the 101 in Los Alamos (aka, “what? there’s a town here?”), and by day it is a factory for all-natural frozen pizzas. On weekend evenings they open as a restaurant, and it’s wonderful. I can’t believe I’ve lived in this area for 6 years and this was the first time I’ve been there! We were seated by the huge wood burning oven they cook everything in:

That thing sitting on the edge of the oven (bottom left)? Giant s’more. And yep, it was just as good as it sounds.