self-stitched challenge

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.

Another item off my cutting table and into my closet (hooray!), worn for day 9 of Self-Stitched-September:

Wow, I clearly should have ironed my shorts.  Ha, that’s funny, I would never actually do that.

The top is the ubiquitous Butterick 5495, one of Pattern Review’s best of 2010. I usually do a pattern review when I make something, but this one has so many good reviews that another seems unnecessary. I’ll do a brief overview here, though.  This shirt is super slapdash, even for me. I did none of the staystitching or reinforcement stitching, didn’t trim seam allowances, and I left the armholes unfinished (after trying several times to get a narrow hem without terrible puckering and awfulness – I must remember to hem the armholes before stitching the side seams, so much easier!). I figured the shirt probably isn’t in it for the long haul, since it’s a 99 cent rayon jersey that I can already sense is just dying to pill up a storm. I intended this as a wearable muslin to see if I liked the pattern, and that’s what I got.  I originally cut the tunic length (and, boy, is this sucker long! practically a dress), but it was a little too tight in back across the butt/hips, so I cut it off to make a shirt.  I’ll probably make the tunic length at some future point, grading out a bit more from the waist.  I cut an 8 on top grading to a 10 (my usual top size) at the waist since it seemed like the kind of pattern that runs big, but it’s actually fairly snug across the back. As many people have noted, the neckline is kind of odd. The edges of the V are just folded under to create the facing, tapering down to no facing at the bottom point.  I zigzagged clear elastic along the foldline on the facing side to create a neat fold (a trick I also used on the similar neckline of Vogue 1194), but I ran into trouble at the point of the V.  I ended up sewing up from the gathered area to about 2 inches up from the marked bottom of the neckline, both to finish the neckline point and also as a sort of SBA – there was just too much fabric there and the neckline was gaping at the bottom. It worked out okay, and now that I know how the pattern works, I can make the same modification more graceful on the next version.  But this one works for now!

Here is my outfit today, SSS day 10, which I wore to bike down to the farmer’s market this morning, and then wore to work for my double show day:

The dress is McCall’s 5893, with an added ruffle. This is one of those patterns with a truly hideous illustration, but is a really fantastic, super easy, endlessly modifiable workhorse.  I’ve already made two, and can see myself making a bunch more.  My pattern review is here, and as I mention, I self lined the bodice on this version to hide the ruffle seam allowance, and I think from now on when I make this dress I’ll line the bodice – the double thickness means I can get away with no bra. The other thing about this pattern: the pockets are perfect.  Just the right size, they lay great, don’t know what makes these pockets so special but they are.

The leggings are from Target.  Could I make grey leggings? Yes. Is it easier to buy grey leggings from Target for $5? Yes.

It was warm enough at my house this morning to go sleeveless again…

…though it was not as warm at work, so I’ve been freezing all day! Oh well, one day of summer was nice I suppose. This is another of my easy jersey skirts with a fold over waistband.  After I made up the first one using the gathered skirt tutorial, I decided I wanted future skirts to have less or no gathering, like the RTW jersey skirts I see everywhere.  I decided to cut the skirt in a trapezoid shape, and I measured it all out and created this little diagram for future reference:

I of course neglected to include a length measurement in this drawing, resulting in all my skirts being rather different lengths (this one could be longer, but now that I think of it, I may not have had enough fabric – I made this with just a yard of 60″ jersey).  Also, these measurements still require some gathering, and since I am lazy and want a skirt with as little sewing as possible, I narrowed the top measurement by 4 more inches.  This made it ease into the waistband well, but it’s a little tight across the hips.  Oh well, I wear it anyway. The tank top is from Banana Republic earlier this year.  Guess how much they were asking for it. $30! I have always loved the Gap stores, but, really, that’s ridiculous.  I happened to have a $15 off coupon, so I paid $15 for the tank, but that still seems excessive. I must say I only ever browse for inspiration at that store now, I just can’t bring myself to pay so much for things I could (theoretically) make myself… not that my fabric addiction ends up saving me money, but at least I feel accomplished!

I also received an awesome package in the mail today:

I saw on the Sew Weekly blog last week that Mena was selling bundles of the fabric she used for her weekly creation, and in a bizarre fit of excitement about possible fall sewing projects, I snapped one up. (A not-so-brief digression: I bought early last week, and got the shipping notification the next day. Since it was just coming down from the Bay Area, I was expecting it over the weekend.  When it still hadn’t arrived on my doorstep by Wednesday, I started to get suspicious and went out to the mailbox. Our neighborhood’s mail is delivered to a set of small, maybe 6 inch square by 12 inch deep boxes that are in the middle of our block, but if something doesn’t fit in your box the mailman will drop it on your doorstep.  I was sure since it was two yards of fabric that it would have to be delivered to the door, but when I went out to the boxes I found it literally stuffed into our box, with other mail crammed in and crumpled around it. See the dented package? I’m sure glad it was just fabric and not something breakable! Anyway-) It’s a really wonderful red and charcoal grey plaid, and I’m envisioning a sheath dress, maybe, or a jumper? I grabbed McCall’s 5927 at the last pattern sale with this fabric in mind (very few seams to match plaids on! and a great subject on which to practice my new-found love of belts), but then I found Simplicity 2848 in my stash (more seams, but a jumper would be fun). Other pattern ideas? I don’t think I’ll be getting to it terribly soon, given my resolution to keep sewing sundresses for a couple more weeks at least, but I’m glad to have gotten the fabric.  There are still a few bundles left, check it out!

This was my outfit for Self-Stitched-September day 6:

Notice I said outfit, not picture? I must confess that this is not a picture from yesterday. I had to be to work at an ungodly hour (well, 9am, which I suppose is not ungodly to most people, but when you work until 11:30pm and have an hour commute it certainly is!), and someone who shall remain unnamed (but who sleeps next to me and is not the cat) turned off the alarm clock before it woke me up, so I had only 20 minutes to get ready – needless to say, an SSS picture was not in the cards.  But rest assured that this is exactly the outfit I wore, and it looked fabulous, but all you get is this picture I took right after I made the skirt. So, right, the skirt! This is the BurdaStyle free downloadable Marie skirt pattern, made in Kerri stretch sateen from in January or thereabouts.  I found the pattern from the Stitch in My Side sewalong, and made it for Valentine’s dinner on our trip to San Diego (we ate at the Stone Brewing restaurant – the food is as good as the beer!) I’ve worn it a few times since, but always with the white shirt and yellow cardigan (you’d think with all those colors in the skirt I could have found more shirts to go with it, but nope), and not to work before today. I actually love the skirt; I was unsure about the tulip shape at first, but now I like it a lot (maybe that’s why I made this dress?), and I’m kind of a fiend for pleats… The fabric is lovely and holding up well, and lasted me from 8am to 12:30am without any terrible wrinkles! My full pattern review is here.

Today I did have time for a picture. Not a good picture, mind you, but a picture nonetheless:

I’ve got my (super giant) work bag and am about to head out the door.  It’s actually hot today (hallelujah!), so for the first time since I made it I can wear this shirt without a sweater.  It’s Butterick 5217, but made in an ITY knit and with some substantial taking-in of the side seams (like 8 inches!); details in my pattern review. I love the fabric and everyone else does too, I’ve gotten tons of compliments on it.  I had just enough for part of a shirt, hence the pattern with a contrast yoke. I found the remnant in The Weirdest Fabric Store Ever in Solvang, which I promise I will post about soon – I need to go there with my camera, because you really have to see it to believe it.  Everything is 99 cents a yard, and you cut it yourself and pay in the cafe upstairs… I would say that awesome fabric like this is the exception rather than the rule (most of the prints are terrible early 90s florals and stuff), but I guess I got lucky!

Ah, Monday.  I love Mondays. I suppose that’s the opposite of what most people feel, but Mondays are my day off (generally my only day off), so my week is shaped around looking forward to Monday rather than dreading it. And pretty much my favorite thing to do on a Monday is nothing. I consider the day a success if I don’t ever get in my car. Today was such a day – so you are the only ones who get to see my self-stitched item today:

Look at me actually relaxing, instead of just pretending to relax! (Well, okay, I am actually pretending to relax in this picture, but I’m authentically replicating the real relaxing I did in this very chair earlier in the day, when it was too bright out to take a good picture.)

The skirt is a gathered jersey skirt with a fold-over waistband, based on this tutorial. This was my first such skirt, made from a kind of bizarre print cotton jersey from the bolt-end bin at one of my local fabric stores. I have since made, like, 5 more of these skirts (with varying degrees of gathering), which I’m sure will show up on subsequent SSS days. Nothing is more comfortable for a busy Monday of relaxing! (And I am aware that today was Labor Day, and I should have hosted a barbecue or something, but I just wanted to stay away from it all. I’m always kind of miffed when there’s a Monday work holiday, it just means more traffic and crowds everywhere, negating the convenience of my having an unusual day off.)

The other thing I like to do on Monday is make dinner (again, this seems crazy, but it’s often my only night of the week to cook).  As I am still in summer mode, I can’t get enough of grilled veggies (summer squash and peppers), and my husband loves tacos (as a hot sauce conveyance more than anything, I think), so I was thrilled to discover this grilled veggie taco recipe from Dana Treat. I was pretty loosey-goosey with it, though – I just grilled the veggies right on the grill grate (sacrificing two slices of pepper through the grate due to poor flipping, as usually happens), then cubed them and tossed them with salt and pepper; grilled the cubed potatoes in one of those perforated grill baskets, then tossed them with the chipotle pepper/sauce; sliced some avocado, made a quick pico de gallo, and crumbled up some cojita cheese to go on top. They seem like they’d be plain, but they’re actually really flavorful and super filling. I’ll also whole-heartedly endorse the new corn-and-wheat tortillas from Trader Joe’s – the best of both (taco) worlds!

And I clearly need to try tilting the camera the other direction next time I photograph a plate.

Hey, I finished something!

It’s Vogue 8511, last seen on my cutting table. I managed to get it done in time to wear it for opening night of my show last night, and as such am counting it as day 3 of Self-Stitched-September.

The show is set in 1963, so I wanted a dress for opening that had a kind of 60s silhouette.  I would never have even noticed this pattern if I hadn’t seen Jorth‘s lovely versions. Thanks Jorth! I decided it would be a good use for this orange dotty poplin I picked up at Satin Moon Fabrics in San Francisco in May. The dress went together really fast and easily, actually, and it was a big hit at work yesterday! Apparently I need to make more sheath dresses, because everyone said it really suited me.

Also, BELTS! I have never been a belt person.  Ever. I’ve owned maybe 3 belts in my life, and worn them only under pants-falling-down duress. But I’ve been seeing them all over for the last couple years, and I figured it was time to take the plunge.  This dress was just crying out for a belt (I think a self belt would be cute too, but I didn’t have time to find a belt kit… although, you know how hard it is to find a white belt in September? I had to resort to Macy’s). And look, I’m pretending I have a waist! I think it really makes the dress.  I may be a belted-dress convert. Still no desire to wear them with pants, though.

My full pattern review is here.

Moving on to SSS day 4 (aka today):

The dress is Simplicity 2443, pattern review here. I wanted to try a jumping picture, partly because I love the way the double-knit fabric bounces, and partly because I’m celebrating only having a matinée performance today, which means I got to be home this evening!

I made one of my favorite salads for dinner, the Five Spice Chicken Noodle Salad that was in Sunset last summer sometime.  If there’s an herb I love as much as mint (and I really love mint), it’s cilantro – and this recipe has both, and uses them as the salad greens! Wonderful. Unfortunately I ran out of gas halfway through grilling the chicken, and I had to finish it on the stove. Oh well, it was still good!

Here I am in my second outfit for Self-Stitched-September, pretending that I have time to sit and relax on my deck instead of just sitting in that chair for 45 seconds and 4 pictures before running out the door 10 minutes late:

This is a shirt I made for Rae’s Spring Top Week this year. I wanted to knock off this shirt from Boden that had a small layered ruffle around the collar:

I used Simplicity 2593, the Cynthia Rowley twist-neck top, as the shirt base.  For the neck ruffle I ripped three lengths of fabric in decreasing widths, stacked them, gathered them, and sewed them to the neckline of the shirt.  When I finished it, the neckline was too big and kinda wonky and I thought it was a failure, but after washing it the neckline suddenly worked and I actually love the shirt now.  The fabric is a fairly loose weave quilting cotton (from the Patty Young Sanctuatry line), and I suppose eventually the ruffles will just fray into nothingness, but for now it’s holding up and has been a solid piece of my summer wardrobe!

Here’s my outfit to kick off Self-Stitched-September:

It’s Vogue 1224 (my pattern review is here), the Tracy Reese dress that everyone was making this spring. I was really unsure about this dress while I was making it – it’s not a style that I gravitate to, and I’m not sure I would even have tried it on if I’d seen it in a store.  I was also not totally in love with the fabric, I found it in a weird bolt-end store in San Francisco, and I really only bought it because it was like $2 a yard.  I thought I would use it to muslin the pattern.  Well, it turned out to be the most wearable muslin ever, since I love the dress and wear it all the time! It’s in that sweet spot of dresses, right between dressy and casual, so it’s perfect for work.  I’m trying to figure out what makes it so perfect, so I can make more…

And the orange blur in the bottom right corner? Here’s an outtake from my super rushed photo session:

Even if my head isn’t in the picture, at least someone’s is! That’s Malcolm, wondering what on earth I’m doing and why isn’t it petting him?