I always have a really hard time with fall sewing. Mostly I think that’s because we don’t really have fall here on the coast – our hottest months are September and October, then November is all about food, not sewing, and then it’s magically winter, bam. So I end up sewing summer clothes until almost Thanksgiving, then switch straight to winter things. I make a ton of spring clothes, because our spring lasts like 6 months, then I wear those things the following fall, but I never get to make any real fall-specific things. But this year I cracked the code: I took a trip in the fall to a place that has fall! (Boulder and Denver, Colorado, to be exact.) And because of course for any trip I have to frantically make as many new garments as possible, that meant I sewed a whole fall mini-wardrobe in October. Real fall clothes, at last!

My quote-unquote inspiration for this “collection” was a great pair of brown heeled oxfords I found on Zappos (not there anymore, but here they are at 6pm) and just inexplicably loved. I don’t usually go for that vintage-y style (for myself – I love it on other people), but I thought I could pull these shoes off. I imagined them with cuffed jeans and sort of boxy tops, and started compiling a wardrobe built on warm browns and complimentary colors.

natalie top side

I started with a Liola Patterns Natalie shirt in a lovely dark maroon bird print voile that I picked up at Hart’s in Santa Cruz this summer (great store, totally worth a stop if you’re anywhere nearby, but I took the rest of the bolt of this one, sorry!) I’ve realized that I will never wear a traditional button up collared shirt (again, love them on others but they just don’t feel like me), but I quite like shirts that are kind of riffs on button-ups. I liked that this pattern is collarless and has a front detail that is sort of a deconstructed placket.

natalie top close

I sewed up the pattern pretty much exactly as drafted. I graded from a M on top to a L at the hips (wise choice, for me), and the only thing I changed was that I shaped the hem for more of a shirttail look. I initially thought that I wanted a lower front slit than the pattern suggests because 4 inches didn’t look like much on the pattern piece, so I made it 5 inches down from the top and that was somewhat indecent, so I sewed it up to the pattern suggestion after all. The neckline is more of a scoop than it looks on the flat pattern, so the modest slit turns out not so modest in the end. It took some careful stitching and a small amount of unpicking and redoing to get the front pleat to lay perfectly (I used my blind hem foot so I’d have an edgestitching guide), but it got there. I recommend a fabric like this with a not-too-different wrong side, since a sliver of wrong side might show unless your stitching is super exact (which mine never, ever is).

echino jersey sweater

I knew my mini wardrobe had to include this awesome leopard spot Echino jacquard knit that my mom got me for my birthday, and knew that it had to be a sort of boxy sweater, but I wasn’t sure what pattern to use to realize my vision. Not helping matters was the fact that this fabric is only 30 inches wide. Luckily I had 2 yards, and I used every ounce of it. Happily, my leopard placement worked out perfectly (although there are some disembodied paws on one shoulder…) The fabric is lovely, lofty but surprisingly light, not too stretchy but enough that it still feels like a sweatshirt knit. I really, really love it. Echino, make more knits, please!

echino sweater 2

I ended up using the Hey June Aurora tee pattern as my base for this boxy dolman look. I kept the neck/shoulders/sleeves the same, but I boxed up the shape by cutting basically straight down from the armpits and cropped it several inches from the bottom. I used my remaining fabric to make a hem band to complete the boxy look (the size of the band was determined by my fabric scraps, I would have preferred to make it just a smidge longer). I bound the neckline with a scrap of ivory jersey rather than with self fabric to cut down on bulk, and I just turned and hemmed the sleeves. And I have to say, it turned out exactly how I wanted it. This is probably my favorite make of the year so far!

camas and hudson 2

I also thought I should make something that would be comfortable on the airplane (particularly because my flight left at 5:40a – why, why do airlines think people should be flying that early?), so I pulled out some soft brown french terry from GirlCharlee and whipped up a pair of True Bias Hudson pants. I actually made a pair of Hudsons last winter, although I was on the fence about the style, and then ended up wearing them basically every day… when I wasn’t going to leave my house. But this year I vowed to make a pair that I would feel good about wearing in public. I’ve been seeing knit track pants in stores and catalogs, they must be a real thing, right? So I made them and wore them on the plane and around Boulder when we arrived, and of course didn’t see a single other person all day wearing track pants. At one of the biggest airports in the country! And let me say, all those people flying in jeans are doing it wrong. French terry Hudsons are definitely the way to go.

I made a size 10 in accordance with the size chart and the fit is great. They go together really fast and the topstitched gathered waistband is really easy and looks very RTW. I omitted the drawstring on this pair simply because there was no way I was finding any appropriate drawstring anywhere in a 40 mile radius (more on that later). And these are seriously the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn in public.

camas and hudson

If I was gonna dress down on bottom, I thought I’d better dress up on top, so I decided to make another Thread Theory Camas blouse to go with the Hudsons. I picked up this lightweight slubby jersey in the swap pile at the LA Sewists meetup last summer, and I paired it with some light brown cotton lycra jersey scraps I had leftover from some long-ago gift (a draped cardigan for a friend, I think?) I didn’t double the yokes because my yoke fabric was already so much heavier weight than my main fabric, and also I didn’t have enough anyway. I also didn’t attach the button bands as instructed – the instructions seem like they’re for a woven or more stable fabric, and this was so light and drapey I wanted as easy as possible. I interfaced the band facing, sewed the band and facing together along the neck edge, turned and topstitched, then just serged the finished band onto the blouse. There are some drag lines along the front, but that’s just ’cause the fabric is so drapey in the body and the interfaced bands don’t drape as much. Because of the drape, this version feels much lower-cut than my previous version, but I’m generally okay with super-low necklines (lack of cleavage to the rescue!).

Surprisingly, it turned out that the hardest thing about this top was finding buttons. Ridiculous, right? I just needed 5 matching off-white translucent buttons. But there is literally no place to buy buttons in my city. My city of around 200,000 people, a major tourist destination, is home to exactly one garment fabric store (which is super expensive and not my taste and closed for remodeling anyway) and one chain craft store (Michael’s, which carries black and white buttons and of course the sort of multicolored plastic buttons you glue onto cards but would never sew onto garments). The woman at the antique store I thought might have some vintage buttons (they didn’t) actually suggested I go buy a shirt at the thrift store and cut the buttons off of it. Seriously. I was leaving on a trip in two days and didn’t want to waste the time driving 50 minutes to the nearest JoAnn, or 35 minutes to the nearest regular-ol’-local-fabric-store, so I resorted to pillaging 5 almost-matching buttons from the random-notions box in my theatre’s wardrobe office. This is what happens when I want to make something spur-of-the-moment. Anyway, sorry, rant over.

stripe top and boyfriend jeans

Now, before you go thinking that my whole vacation wardrobe came out perfectly (barring button frustrations), I did have one dud and a near-dud. High on the perfection of my first three tops, I got cocky and decided to make something awesome with a brown and white striped rayon knit from the stash (probably picked up at the Loft last year). I didn’t know what, though, so I googled “striped knit top” and found the image of a dolman sleeved top with a diagonal seam across the front with offset stripes and thought, I can totally hack that. I went back to the Aurora pattern, tracing the front piece in full and then cutting it diagonally and adding seam allowances along that edge. Then I cut the front pieces singly, offsetting the stripes. I even copied the longer curved back hem of the inspiration. It came out exactly as planned. And the result? Meh. I don’t know why I don’t like this top, I just don’t. It feels frumpy and casual in a not-cool way. Maybe I shouldn’t have topstitched the neck in white? Maybe it needed a less drapey fabric? Anyway, not a fan.

boyfriend jeans side

Especially not paired with my near-miss, a pair of attempted boyfriend jeans. I had this light denim from… somewhere (I absolutely cannot remember when or where I got this fabric) and got it in my head that it would be right for a more relaxed cut boyfriend style. I used my trusty Thurlow jean hack, but I cut the legs wider starting just above the knee. I erred much too wide, though, and had to spend like an hour trying the jeans on, taking various leg seams in (including ones I’d already topstitched, d’oh!) before I got an even almost acceptable leg silhouette. They do definitely read casual, but again, maybe not in the cool way. I have to be very careful pairing these jeans with tops – too slouchy and casual and they just look unflattering. They’re not bad with a dressier top, but of course I only photographed them with the fail-shirt, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

But all in all, a pretty good fall wardrobe accomplished in just two weeks. That’s more fall things than I think I’ve ever made in the actual fall. And of course, because one thing made equals 5 new fabrics bought, I have to share my goodies from Colorado!

co fabric haul

The patterned cottons on the bottom are from Boulder, where we found a lovely shop called Fabricate just down the street from our hotel with a beautifully curated selections of cottons (seriously, this shop owner and I are fabric soul mates – there were so many geometric mustard prints!). Not too many garment fabrics here, but I did score some not-yet-released Echino fabrics that the proprietor had just brought back from quilt market. Look at those shiny wolves! Echino is my absolute favorite fabric for making bags, and those wolves are going to make a fabulous evening clutch.

Then in Denver we visited the amazing Fancy Tiger Crafts. Why, why can’t there be a shop like this in my town? (Oh, probably because we apparently can’t even support a store that might sell plain buttons.) I could spend hours and hours in that place. As it was, I came away with some lovely shirting, a beautiful wool, and a printed pattern to go with both! I was so glad to see the Cascade Duffle Coat pattern in print, because I have been wanting to make it but in no way wanted to print and assemble that pdf. I also couldn’t resist the hand painted ombre yarn, even though I would characterize my knitting as “amateur” and “sporadic” at best. (I do go through knitting phases, though, and I will say that this yarn has already become an ombre cowl scarf…) And talk about service: my yarn didn’t end up in my shopping bag somehow, and I didn’t realize it until we had already cycled back to our downtown hotel from the (very, very cool) neighborhood where Fancy Tiger is located, but when I called the shop, one of the employees offered to drive downtown to bring me my yarn. Amazing! Seriously, if you’re ever in Denver, do not miss Fancy Tiger.

And now, on to winter sewing! It’s finally taken a turn toward cold here, and I’m imagining cozy sweatshirts and merino everything. And maybe more Hudsons. And hopefully a duffle coat before Christmas… we shall see.

I’m on my way to New York! Yes, I’m actually writing this on the airplane, though I’ll post it later – wifi on planes still seems wrong to me somehow. Anyway.

As usual, in preparing for this trip, my eyes were bigger than my mouth (or my time, in this case), and I decided to make All the Clothes. My crazy ambition was kicked into high gear by the ridiculous timing of the Pattern Review “Wardrobe for Travel” contest, which, yes, had the deadline for entry two days before I was set to leave. How could I resist? I started planning my wardrobe before we even had plane tickets.

My inspiration was some family friends who make frequent trips to New York, and who have so totally committed to the idea that if you wear only black then everything goes with everything else that they now dress primarily in all black even when not traveling. I wanted to riff on that classing packing idea of everything going together, but with a little more fun than all plain black. It would be a good challenge for me, actually, because I wear so much color and pattern that my usual travel wardrobe requires three pairs of shoes and as many jackets. Not so feasible when you’re going to someplace that requires boots and a real coat. (In this case – a fabulous yellow wool coat I bought from Boden. Yes, I did manage to restrain myself from planning to make a wool coat. Thankfully.)

I decided to build my wardrobe off of some lovely black stretch denim I got at The Fabric Store during the LA Sewists Meetup last summer. I started seeking out black and white prints for tops, and also became obsessed with finding a black dimensional or quilted knit to make a circle skirt like this one Tasia made forever ago. Two black bottoms, two or three black and white print tops, and a black and white dress or three. Easy, right? Well, the best laid plans…

travel wardrobe collage

Let’s look at what I did get done. I did manage to finish, photograph, and post reviews of all my contest items in the nick of time, with my contest entry review being posted at literally the last moment of the contest, 11:59p EST (I do wish these contests rolled with the time zones, the extra three hours would have reduced my mad shouting at the photo collage I was attempting with 10 minutes remaining). Here’s a quick rundown (there are some links to individual pattern reviews for more detail if interested):

I made myself a pair real skinny jeans with the black denim, using the same skinnified Thurlow pattern with the yoke I drafted last year. I only had a yard and a half of the denim, which is plenty for jeans in a 60in width, but what escaped my notice in the shop was that this was more like 49in, so it was a real squeeze. In my concern over jigsawing all the pieces onto my fabric, I totally forgot to add the seam allowance to the top of the back piece where the yoke attaches. Thankfully, my yoke pattern piece includes a 1/2 in seam allowance, so I was able to just attach the yoke to the back with a 1/4 in SA and end up with the same amount of bum room (just a slightly larger yoke). The rest proceeded fine, except that for some reason that I can’t adequately explain (perhaps I interfaced the wrong waistband pieces and they got switched?) my waistband was short on one side and long on the other. So rather than sewing up the back seam and back waistband seam in one go as is the hallmark of the Thurlow, I sewed the seams separately and then joined the waistband to the pant in the back. I then cleverly covered the off-center waistband with a belt loop, which I mirrored on the other side. Crises averted!

To go with my jeans, I made two black and white print tops with really nice rayon from Emma One Sock. Yes, that stuff is pricier than I’m usually willing to pay ($20 a yard instead of $2.50 a pound…), but it’s very, very nice. I’m starting to think of relaxing my cheap fabric standards. I had also read that “dry” rayon is the only rayon jersey that won’t pill, though I think I’ve only ever seen that descriptor at Emma One Sock, so I’m not sure it’s exactly an industry standard. It does feel more matte and not shiny smooth soft like the cheap rayon jerseys I’m used to that pill if you look at them funny. But it’s also nice and heavy and drapey and actually, totally worth $20. I squeezed both of these tops out of a yard and a quarter (bless you, EOS, for being like the only online shop to sell in 1/4 yard increments!), so the tops cost me about $25 each. But a jersey cowl or wrap top from Boden in similar fabric is like $60, so maybe it is still a bargain? All a matter of perspective, I guess.

S1716 black and white

The cowl is my go-to cowl pattern, Simplicity 1716. I. Love. It. The perfect cowl for me (omitting the armhole bust dart, of course), and I’ve made like 5 and I’ll probably make at least 5 more. It was a no-brainer that I would make one with my nice fabric. I chose the mod print for it, because it’s slightly heavier and drapier.

S1916 wrap top

The wrap top is from Simplicity 1916. I had previously made the other view, which I like, but I wanted a full faux wrap top so decided to try the other view. I didn’t want the little half-moon ungathered section on the corner, though, so I studied the pattern and figured if I just extended the piece along the neckline and hem edges I could then construct it as a normal wrap top. I did have to futz with the neckline quite a bit, ultimately taking out more than an inch to get it to stop gaping, and it’s still super low cut. Luckily I have no cleavage to spill out! The crosshatch fabric seemed most appropriate for this pattern because it’s on the thinner side, so good for a crossover front because the front hem is double thickness and you don’t want it too bulky. It’s also a black jersey with a white print, not a white jersey printed black like so many, so it can stretch without fear of color distortion. It was a real squeeze getting it into a yard and a quarter, but because of generous cutting I actually had a bit more than that and I got it all in, cutting single layer. I did switch the wrap direction by cutting the pattern pieces upside down, because I like it better gathered on the right and also that was the only way I could fit the pieces.

McCall's 5974 black

As an additional piece, I also made a McCall’s 5974 with a fabulous micro dotted bamboo knit. I love the polka dot bamboo knits so. much. They’re springy and soft  and heavy and also have a delightful texture from the dots. This is a great pattern, I can’t believe this is only my second version. It’s such a fabric hog, though, I barely got it into 2 and a half yards. This dress will be a workhorse, though, I’m sure. It’s my version of a little black dress, I guess.

McCall's 6844 back

To increase my combos (for the contest, anyway) I also made the ubiquitous McCall’s 6844 peplum cardigan. I had absolutely zero interest in this pattern until I saw Ms. McCall wearing hers in person, and I suddenly had to have one. Awesomely, she happened to have an extra pattern for me! So I picked up some lovely merino doubleknit in a stone color (not white, not off white, sort of gray-white) from The Fabric Store for one. I knew going in that I didn’t want as high-low a hem as the pattern has, so I decreased the back length a few inches, which still kept it longer in back. When I had it all put together, before I hemmed it, I decided it was still too much length difference from front to back and I carefully cut off the extra in back so the peplum was the same length all the way around. That’s still plenty peplumy for me, thank you. The fabric is pretty thick and a bit spongy, so the collar lays a little wonky, but luckily it’s wool and I can probably steam and press it into submission, like I did the hem. And hoo boy is it warm!

NL sweater dress

What did not happen was the black quilted skirt. Long story* short, I had a bit of a “customer service” misunderstanding with and did not end up with any suitable fabric. So that’s a bummer. But frankly, the skirt would have been better for the contest but worse for the actual weather in New York, so I suppose it’s not that bad. Instead, at the total last minute, I threw together a sweater knit raglan tunic that I actually ended up really liking. I had two yards of this gray/black stripe sweater knit from Girl Charlee from my last big fabric gorge from them laying around, and out of nowhere I grabbed New Look 6230 again, the raglan I used to make my pj top that I had dismissed as having too wide a neckline. I decided to solve that problem by finishing the neck with a cowl, the length of the neckband pattern piece but 13 inches tall. This made about a 6 inch cowl. It’s a pretty measly cowl, I should have made it taller, but it’s okay. I also finished the hem and sleeves with bands for a sweatshirt-dress look. It’s a pretty comfy plane dress, I’ll give it that.

So that’s my contest wardrobe, which will all see action in the city. I also made a couple more dresses and some accessories, and even some man sewing(!) that I’ll share later. But first things first: I’ve got some fabric shopping to do in the garment district!


I ordered the perfect fabric from back in January. After a week or so, I of course got an email that they had less in stock than I ordered, would I like just the one yard that was left, or something else entirely? I knew I couldn’t get a skirt out of just one yard, so I opted for replacement. Sadly, when my order came like 2 weeks later, the replacement I’d selected was not even a little black. It was more gray, but a purpley gray that didn’t go with any of my other fabric. Plus they’d only sent one yard of it. Seriously. So I wrote back, informing them of the mistake and asking if I could order something else that had since arrived on the site that was better, maybe with free shipping, or could I exchange the replacement I didn’t want after all? After a full week, and emailing them twice, I got a response that just said: an order has been dispatched to you, keep what we sent before. Okay, I thought. I had specified the new fabric item number in my emails, so I just assumed that that’s what they sent. Aaaand, you know what they say about assuming. The package took more than two weeks to get to me – several days before it was sent at all, then it got stuck in some storm and UPS couldn’t get it out for a few days. Anyway, when it came, 5 days before my departure, it was, in fact, more of the purple-gray fabric I didn’t want. Yeah. I shouldn’t have assumed that a company that large would actually have people carefully reading and responding individually to customer service inquiries. Every email I got read like a form letter, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when they totally didn’t understand what I actually wanted. It did really make me realize that while smaller companies may be more expensive, sometimes it’s worth it. When I ordered from Emma One Sock, for instance, my order confirmation email was clearly personally written to me by the owner, and she noticed I was a new customer and applied a new customer discount of 10%. Now that’s customer service. So yeah, still learning about the online shopping thing.

I tend to be a planner. Some of this stems from the fact that I basically plan things for a living, and some from the fact that I have more time to daydream about sewing than I have time to actually sew. So I generally plan out pretty precisely what I’m going to make next. However, I’ve realized that the things I like best and tend to wear more are the things I made on the spur of the moment, right when the inspiration struck. So.

Last month I was planning on entering the PR Mini Wardrobe contest. I like this contest. I had a lot of fun with it when I entered it a couple years ago. I even had an awesome plan for an old school throwback wardrobe based around jean shorts and a bomber jacket, and I went so far as to make the shorts right at the beginning of the month to wear on the 4th of July. But then I didn’t make anything else. For weeks. I dinked around, read like 5 books, went to work, did not sew. I knew what I was going to make but I couldn’t get excited about any of it. And then, with the end of the month in sight and no realistic way I was going to squeeze in four garments including a bomber jacket, I thought, screw it. And I made the dress I actually wanted to make, instead of the things I thought I wanted to make.

knit lonsdale

This is a jersey knit Sewaholic Lonsdale. I’ve been wanting to try the Lonsdale in a knit for a while (knitify all the things!) and wanted to make it in this specific lovely striped bamboo jersey ever since the green colorway arrived on my front porch (upon which I went back to Girl Charlee and ordered it in yellow). The only thing keeping me from making it as soon as the fabric arrived and was washed was my grand plan to make other things. I can be very foolish.

I feel like the Lonsdale is calling out to be made in a knit. It’s got a casual summer vibe that I don’t think plays as easily with a nice woven fabric like a voile; i.e., I think this knit Lonsdale will be appropriate for more occasions than the lawn version I made a few years ago. Case in point: I wore this dress to a friend’s bridal shower and it felt totally appropriate for that event, but so would the woven version. Then after the bridal shower we went out to a pizza joint, and later in the day I wore it to a movie, both places the knit dress felt right for where the woven dress would have felt too fancy. Knit dresses for the win!

I basically didn’t modify the pattern at all for the jersey fabric. I omitted the zipper, obviously, but I kept the back seams in the bodice and skirt for shaping. Rather than the waistband that goes all the way around, though, I cut two waistbands, front and back, constructed the whole front and then back of the dress and sewed the side seams last for fitting, like I usually do for knit dresses. I made the waistband a bit taller than the pattern, but that’s just a personal preference. I also omitted the pockets, sadly, because that style of pocket is hard to make work in a knit. Oh, and I chopped 4 inches off the length (really! why is it so long?).

knit lonsdale back

I self-lined the bodice, and while I didn’t feel that stay tape or elastic was necessary in the front bodice, I did sew clear elastic to the seam allowance along the top of the back bodice for a little extra support. I maintained the loop-and-tie strap design of the pattern, although in the jersey the bow is a bit heavy and floppy. It would probably have been neater to just sew the straps into the back bodice and dispense with the tying, but I like the adjustability that provides to the front.

Size-wise, I suspect you’d want to go down a size from what you would make in a woven. I can’t be sure, though, because the woven version I made sadly doesn’t fit me anymore. I ended up cutting about a size larger than I made last time (just in the waist and hips, though, not the bust), because I thought I might have to go up almost two sizes to get it to fit in a woven again. I also shortened the bodice almost an inch because I remembered thinking the bodice was too long for me in the other version, and it turns out I could have shortened even a little more on the sides. I think this is less to do with the length of my torso (which is very average as far as I can tell) and more to do with the fact that Sewaholic’s patterns are drafted for higher armpits than mine. Putting the top bodice line where I want it under my arms puts the waistband too low, which makes the bodice blouse and wrinkle on the sides. This will likely not be a problem for you if the Renfrew top as drafted doesn’t cut off circulation to your arms the way it does to me.

knit lonsdale 2

Overall I like this dress. Some minor regrets: I wish I had played with the stripes a little, because I feel like this dress could use some chevron action. However, that would have required a lot more fabric and been more wasteful because of the shape of the bodice pieces with those looooong straps. Also, the skirt is an A-line rather than a full 1/2 circle, but I kind of wish I’d gone with a 1/2 circle, which I feel is more flattering on me. But if I’d taken the time to think about and make those changes, it wouldn’t have been the instant gratification project I wanted.

sew more

Which leads me to my new goal (for summer, at least): Plan Less, Sew More. I’ve been letting myself get bogged down in obsessive thinking and planning, at the cost of my mojo. At this point, I’d rather make whatever tickles my fancy than what is required for this or that contest or sewalong. That said, I don’t object when, by happy coincidence, I can have my cake and eat it too. I have almost unknowingly created a dress for Heather B’s Summer Sundress Sewalong. If this isn’t a sundress, I don’t know what is. Which is probably why it makes me so happy, and why it called me to make. it. now. (Even though our version of summer here is overcast with temps in the high 60s… sigh. I know, I know, but I’d trade any of you with regular ol’ 100 degree summer weather right now.)

And then, to further solidify my pledge to not plan anything, at 10pm the night before the bridal shower I decided this dress required a new purse. Something casual but not informal, sort of like the dress. Into my quilting cotton stash I went, pulling out an ancient Echino camera print fat quarter which I decided needed to be a foldover-style clutch/purse. It took me a bit of thinking to make a fold over style work with a directional print, but once I realized I could just turn it on its side the thing came together in about an hour. I used a blue zipper, because why not?

foldover clutch purse

And I lined it in orange, because again, why not?

foldover purse open

And I love it.

It’s basically a big zipper pouch, which there are a bajillion tutorials for online if you’ve never made one. My pieces were about 14 inches tall by 9.5 inches wide (that’s what worked with the fat quarter in the orientation I needed). I added little tabs with D-rings to each side at about 9 inches from the bottom to hold the strap and encourage folding over at that line. For the strap I doubled up a piece of ribbon I had and edgestitched it, attaching a small dog clip at one end so I can convert it from a shoulder strap to a wrist strap. Instant gratification again!

So here’s to sewing what you want, when you want. Now I’m off to stare at my stash and see what else is begging to be made!

Happy New Year! …a bit late, I know. I’ve never been that into New Years as a big, important holiday (as evidenced by the lateness of this post), and I’ve never really made resolutions or done a big look back or anything, but (maybe because I’ve been reading everyone’s great year-end posts) it feels right to do a bit of reflection this year.

2011 was a pretty good year for me, I suppose. (11 is my favorite number, after all!) I posted 29 reviews on PatternReview, made several more things that I didn’t review, and wrote up the tutorial for my messenger bag that I’d been thinking about for eons. I also participated in Self-Stitched September, which was a big step for me. It definitely made me want to wear things I’d made all the time! I started the year mostly making big-event type dresses, and ended wanting to spend my sewing time on practical, comfy things I could wear every day (more on that later). Let’s see, the item I’m probably proudest of is the orange polka-dot silk halter dress I made in May for a friend’s wedding (success with silk!), followed closely by my voile maxi birthday dress. The item I’ve probably worn most is my V1224, which I thought when I started it that I wouldn’t like it or wear it at all! And I found a great TNT jersey dress pattern in McCall’s 5893, which I’m excited to make more of this summer. And overall, I’ve basically gone from being somewhat of a shopaholic to not being interested in clothes shopping at all. Of course, it’s been replaced with fabric shopping… but I am glad to be not buying so many RTW clothes. And, not to forget, I started this blog!

In non-sewing matters, my biggest achievement in 2011 was probably cycling. A year ago this week I bought my fancy road bike, and since then I’ve ridden over 3,000 miles! I’ve gotten so much more fit than I’ve ever been in my life, and discovered the exhilaration of coasting at top speed down a mountain that I’ve just ridden up. In July I rode my first half-century (50 miles), and just a few weeks ago I rode the most difficult route in our area (with 4,700 feet of elevation gain), and now I feel like I can do anything! I’m hoping to do more organized rides this year, and maybe even a full century (100 miles)… and also to sew a bike jersey or two. Hobby merging!

And now for my future sewing plans. The other day I sat down on the floor surrounded by my stash and put together a bunch of patterns and fabrics, then laid them all out on the table:

Yeah, so that’s probably not going to happen. I won’t go through all the patterns in detail, but I will say there are a lot of knits and everyday sorts of things, something I learned from my fall sewing that I needed. I also would like to participate in Tasia’s Minoru Sewalong (I’ll be attempting it in buffalo check nylon, I think). Also, a lot of these fabrics are from pretty deep in the stash, so I’ll be entering some things in the PatternReview stash contest (though I have no chance of winning – some people are going to sew up like 25 yards, I think! Crazy). But it’ll be good to get to some of these fabrics at last.

So here we go with 2012… I’ve already completed a couple things I’ll post about soon, and now I’m going to start cutting frantically and see what I can get done next!


With the Christmas season actually here (by which I mean it’s December – I am resoundingly not an early holiday-season-starter), I’m trying to kickstart my gift making. To that end, I’ve joined the Crafty Christmas Club (founded by the lovely Tilly). There’s tons of great inspiration over there for your gift-making from loads of talented sewists. I’ve just shared my messenger bag tutorial, and I intend to post the other gifts I make there too. Some of them I’ll also post here (if it’s a gift for someone who doesn’t read my blog), but others I’ll just put up over there, so no peeking! (I’m looking at you, mom.)

I tend to work faster with a deadline (and this “Christmas Day” deadline is pretty firm), so hopefully I’ll be able to get all the gifts I’ve got planned done in time! It wouldn’t be the holidays without feeling rushed, right?

Despite already having nine eight projects in my fall sewing queue, I was enticed as usual by the JoAnn pattern sales this week… it’s not like they don’t put the patterns on sale pretty much constantly, but for some reason I feel like I need to stock up on patterns every time a sale happens, even if I know I’m not going to get around to making it up for eons. I justify it by saying you never know when a pattern’s going to go out of print, but really I just like shiny new patterns and the planning possibilities they entail. Anyway, here’s the most recent haul (click on image for pattern info):


I really would like to get to most of these this fall/winter – particularly B5649, the jean skirt style version (which I need in khaki to replace a RTW skirt that just ripped), and B5672, the cute side pleat double knit dress everyone’s making and making me envious with.  I don’t currently have fabric for either of those, but I do have fabric for M6069 (the double cowl dress) and B5685 (the big-lapel coat). The dress I think I can whip out pretty fast, but the coat will be a more serious undertaking, as I haven’t attempted any coat-like-object thus far. The Simplicity coat is more of a far-off-dream, purchased because I love it and want a green wool coat just like the picture, but it’ll only happen if for some reason I end up being a total whiz at coats (I am not anticipating this being the case). Finally, the knit cardigan is a pattern I’ve been eyeing for a while but our JoAnn persisted in not having my size in the pattern during the last two McCall’s sales.  Can’t have too many cardigans (they’re what we wear in California instead of coats when it gets “cold”, aka in the 50s, in December).

So as usual, my eyes are bigger than my stomach (wait – is that the colloquialism?), but I just can’t resist the promise of more fun stuff to make!

Okay, it’s totally fall.  The air is crisp, there’s been some rain, and I’m okay with wearing things with sleeves.  I’m actually getting excited – I do like fall (it’s my birthday season, and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays) – so the other day I pulled out a bunch of patterns and fabrics from the stash and laid out my fall sewing plans:

Oh boy. Yes, that is nine projects.  Many of them are things I intended to make last year, but winter and spring came too fast and I abandoned them into the stash.  But this year I’m thinking ahead (um, if early October is ahead… luckily the weather here is basically fall-like until January), and I’m going to take a stab at making all this stuff! So clockwise from top left we have:

  • Butterick 5454 in a brown border print slinky-y jersey from Mood in LA. I actually bought this fabric with a DVF wrap dress style in mind, but no particular pattern.  I attached this pattern to it last winter, but never got around to it.  I think it’ll be a great work dress… I hope I have enough fabric!
  • Simplicity 2497 in green poly shantung from JoAnn, currently in progress and the cause of the furry foot yesterday. I wasn’t going to make this the first project, but I realised a few days ago that I have a dressy work event on Saturday (as in the day-after-tomorrow!) that it would be good for… we’ll see if I can get it done; I’m about halfway now but waiting for disaster to strike.
  • McCall’s 5927 in awesome red and gray plaid from The Sew Weekly‘s Mena.  I’m less excited about the pattern than the fabric; I’m still not sure if this sheath dress is what it wants to become.
  • Simplicity 2343 in brown stretch twill.  Pencil skirt with pockets; need I say more?
  • Simplicity 2447 in turquoise/orange plaid from I got this fabric too late last year to make this shirt – it’s such a fall item to me.  I’m hoping to have it done by Halloween so I can go as Liz Lemon.
  • Colette Beignet in orange denim from JoAnn. I was going to make the Beignet in the brown twill, but I’ve seen so many great bright colored versions of this skirt and I wanted to give it a try, and I bought this orange fabric on a whim the other day (they get you with those 50% off coupons!). I hope the buttonholes aren’t too impossible on the thick fabric.
  • McCall’s 6035 in green poplin with a cool woven dot pattern. Having been assured by my mom that button-up shirts are “easy”, I’m going to give it a try with this basic pattern.
  • Simplicity 2443 (jacket) in gray baby corduroy. This will be my first attempt at a jacket; we’ll see if all the little fiddly bits make me go crazy. I like this style (lightweight, cropped length/sleeves) for fall.
  • Simplicity 2758 in wool plaid with navy lining. I got this fabric to make a circle skirt last fall, but again didn’t get around to it.  I’m going to make it now, though, for sure – I hope these full plaid skirts are still in style!

Whew! So that’s what I’ve got so far.  As far as project order, the jacket and the skirts are highest on the list, but I’m just going to see what I feel like doing next after I finish one. I’ve got a few more patterns that don’t have fabric and vice versa floating around, but I’m going to try to get these things done so they don’t languish in the stash until next fall! We’ll see how I do – right now I’ve got 1 or 2 hours a night plus Mondays for sewing, but my work schedule will lighten up a bit around Thanksgiving.  But by then I’ll want to be doing winter sewing!

So why am I starting this blog now, in the last week of August, and not at just some random time?

The self-stitched months have been some of my favorite in the sewing blogosphere (yes, I did just use that word). I love seeing everyone wearing their creations in everyday life, and I’ve been wanting to join in for a while, but I’ve not felt like I had enough self-made items to get me through a month.  I think this one is it, though, and it will motivate me to post a lot in the first real month of this blog. And hopefully get me better at the whole self-photography thing. It’ll also let me share all the things I’ve made in the last year and a half!

I have actually made over 30 items, so technically I could do the month with no repeats, but unfortunately many of my items are fancy dresses that I would feel odd wearing for just a normal work day.  I already know I need to make more everyday items and basics, but we all know those just aren’t as exciting to sew… Adding another fun element to the self-stiched month is the fact that my husband and I are planning a trip to Hawaii in the third week of September, so I’ll be packing an entirely self-stitched-suitcase! I’ll be trying to knock out a few more summery items for the trip in the next two weeks, rather than starting much more sensible fall projects. Because our weather has been so terrible this summer (as in, this is the only place in the country that was not super hot, but instead overcast every day and not warm), I haven’t really gotten summer dresses out of my system yet!

So, anyway, here goes:

I, Aleah of no time to sew, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-Sept ’11. I endeavour to wear at least one self-made item each day for the duration of September 2011′

Let the alliterative fun begin!