finished objects · Sewing

Jenny + Mondo

Pattern: Jenny from Burdastyle

Fabric: Hot pink houndstooth doubleknit, 1.5 yards

Tights: H&M

Sweater: 525 America (from TJ Maax

Shoes: Gianni Binni last season

Notes: I have completed my Mondo-esque skirt, just in time to watch the finale tonight!   I’d made the Jenny skirt before, so this project went very smoothly – I just cut a size smaller than usual, to account for the stretch.  I cut the waistband pieces on the crossgrain so that I wouldn’t have to match all that houndstooth (though I did match the back seam.)

The skirt was shortened by about 2 inches and hemmed with a catchstitch by hand.  No lining – I am wearing a half-slip instead.  I was going to line with tricot, but I felt like the tricot wasn’t as stretch as my fabric, and I didn’t want to have to account for that.  No back slit, because the skirt is so stretchy.  I also omitted the zipper because I was in a hurry.  I can get it on, though I confess that I wouldn’t really recommend leaving out a zipper on this style.  I completely recommend making the Jenny skirt in doubleknit.  I know Burdastyle has a knit skirt (Melissa?) that is similar, but in my opinion this is better, because it has darts.  These sorts of interlock or doubleknit skirts are everywhere this season – I’ve seen them from Ann Taylor to Forever 21.  I like them, it’s dressy but you get the ease of a knit skirt.  They do remind me of the early 90s, but oh well – I can rock them again!  I think it’s important not to make a knit skirt too tight, to avoid looking like a vintage video vixen… but maybe that’s just me, and some bad memories of Whitesnake videos.

I won’t get to watch the finale on time – I have a rehearsal that runs until 9:00, and then I have to get dinner, but after that my husband and I are going to watch it!  There will be great disappointment in this household if Mondo doesn’t win, but either way I think he has a bright future.  It’s been a long time since I was so excited by a Project Runway contestant.  Admittedly, his favorite things are also mine – mixed geometric prints, high waists, and color! I mean, I really liked Seth Aaron who won last season, but the last designer I recall really loving was Chris March (who is getting his own reality show on Bravo – I can’t wait!)

crafts · outfits · Sewing

What I Wore Wednesday

It was a pretty busy week – I only missed two days of photos!


Cardigan: Old Navy

Dress: Merona, thrifted and repaired

Boots: Impo

I had to repair this dress, giving it a more secure closure on the inside wrap.  Even so, I felt like it was going to come open all day (reason #1 that I don’t do wrap styles.)  I’m still not a huge fan of wrap styles on me, but I like this one because it’s really high waisted – the tie is almost at the empire waist.


Dress: Vogue 8663

Boots: Impo

You’ve already seen this one, since I just finished this dress, but here’s a closeup!


Skirt: Thrifted and refashioned

Shirt: American Eagle Outfitters (thrifted)

Boots: Kensie Girl

I still love this skirt – I realize that while I have lots of pencil skirts, my full skirt collection is very summer focused.


Cardigan: Old Navy

Skirt: Thrifted and refashioned

Boots: Alfani

The boots are because it was raining – not a good choice otherwise!  Actually, we had a tornado warning, which caused me to realize the great inconvenience of the cellar doors being outdoors.  Also that, as it turns out, I’m rather afraid of hanging out down there by myself.  I always imagine that some creepy person will have taken refuge down there with our lawn mower and leftover doors and tiles from renovation work.  I shortened and took in this skirt, which is made of a really pretty cotton sateen and fully lined.  It’s still not quite at my waist, which is what I wanted, but I would have to install a new, longer zipper if I want to be able to make it smaller and still get it over my hips.


Dress: Vogue 8593

Shoes: Sofft

Necklace: Vintage Avon, I think the locket contained a solid perfume at one time.

As you can see from the light, it was a beautiful day today!  I decided to take advantage of not having to wear tights, and try to break in these shoes.  I had to buy a pair of gel insoles for them, and they do seem to be helping.  I think I just find peep toe shoes to be inherently uncomfortable.  I hadn’t worn this dress since the first day I finished it, and when I put it on I realized I was dissatisfied with the hem.  I had done a hand catch-stitch hem, and in this fabric it was tending to stretch out.  In addition, I didn’t love the length, which was neither long nor short.  As it turns out, I like my skirts shorter for winter than summer (and this is mostly a winter dress, meant to be worn with tights.)  So I shortened it by two inches and did a plain machine stitched hem – much nicer!  These shoes make me really tall… I’m no slouch anyway, but they push me up to 6′ tall.  I had a choir rehearsal, and I felt like a giant compared to all the other ladies (and some of the men!)

I was 5’2″ when I graduated from high school, and managed to grow another six inches during my sophomore year in college – isn’t that strange?  Sometimes I still think that I’m short, but it turns out that I’m not.

I’ve finished my Mondo skirt, and it’s ready to wear tomorrow!  I’ll post about it then, because I cannot wait to share the giant houndstooth awesomeness!

crafts · Sewing

Working on…

a skirt inspired by Mondo on Project Runway.  I saw this doubleknit at Joann’s and had to pick it up, the large houndstooth reminded me of his designs!  I’m using the Burdastyle Jenny pattern to make a skirt.  I’ve used it before, and hopefully it will be ok in a doubleknit.  I hope to finish it by Thursday so I can wear it to watch the finale (if Mondo doesn’t win I’m calling shenanigans, seriously!)

I also have a whole basket of skirts to refashion, so I hope to get to one or two of those this week.  Other than that it’s been busy – I had a concert last night, and my mid-week schedule is busy as always!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

The 2 hour dress (Vogue 8663)

Pattern: Vogue 8663
Fabric: dark teal rpl knit from Joann
Notes: I like to intersperse intensive projects (like the Michael Kors dress I just made) with really easy ones, so that I don’t get burned out.  This is a Very Easy Very Vogue pattern, and it fit the bill!   I actually made a few alterations that caused the dress to be even easier, and it took me only 2 hours from cutting to finishing.  First, I eliminated the zipper and cut the back on the fold.  As I’ve said before, I don’t usually like zippers in knits.  The pattern called for using prepared bias tape on the neckline.  Why, I ask you?  It wouldn’t be pretty, and it would keep the neckline from going over your head, causing the zip to actually be needed!  I just turned under the seam allowance and topstitched, which was fine.
This fabric is a bit lightweight, and I think the dress would be nicer in a little more weighty knit, but it’s what I had.  It does hang nicely!  I’m planning to wear it like a tunic most of the time, so it is not hemmed, just neatly cut.  I wore it to play this morning, but I don’t love it with the boots.  There really isn’t much to say – this pattern was easy and highly recommended!
crafts · patterns · Sewing

Pattern Organization

I like to think that I’m a fairly organized person.  I love to make lists and check things off, and I almost always know where in the house a given item can be found.  I only keep a calendar for my husband’s sake… I never check it, and I always remember where and when I have to be somewhere.  But since taking up sewing, one task has completely overcome me… organizing the pattern collection.

I started keeping a list of my patterns in Microsoft Excel, hyperlinking each one to a photo and entering all the info needed.  After I entered each pattern it went in a box with all the others.  I’ve recently organized my patterns into boxes by company, with one box containing the patterns that I currently have fabric for, and that’s working nicely for me (as well as insuring that I get my patterns cut out early!)

But Excel… was just not working for me.  It decided that it would only open the hyperlinks if it was in the same directory as the photos, and then I had to format my harddrive and lost my copy of Excel anyway.  I downloaded Open Office, but it wasn’t any better (not worse either, just not what I wanted.)  I thought about using flickr, but it didn’t have the features that I wanted, and besides I am loath to pay for another photo service when I already pay to host the photos for my blog!

I read on a few blogs about a service called Evernote, and decided to check it out.  As it turns out, it’s exactly what I wanted!

You create notes for each pattern – it even has a plugin for Chrome that allows you to clip the info straight from the BMV website for current patterns, saving a lot of work.  The patterns are grouped into notebooks – I plan to make one for my fabric stash as well.

It has text recognition, and each note can be tagged and searched.

It also works with many smartphones, including my phone the PALM Pre.  It’s free up to a certain amount of data transferred, and $5 a month otherwise.  I’m really hoping this will be the ultimate solution to my problem!  Check it out if, like me, you are drowning under a sea of unsorted patterns.

(not affiliated etc, just a happy customer!)

outfits · What I wore

What I wore Wednesday

It’s been a trying week… I have been sick again, and I’m working my way through a few insecurities.  I’m sure that my confidence will snap back soon!

Here are my outfits this week, including things I’ve made and some of my new thrifted finds:


Skirt: Vogue 1132

Boots: Merona

Cardigan: Old Navy

I look so tired here… you can see the allergies around my eyes!  I love this skirt, and I am always complimented on it – but I confess, it is hard to wear.  It’s very overwhelming, and I lost the shirt I wore with it last year!  I’m still considering ways to wear it more… I don’t think this is it.  I dislike the cardigan over it, I prefer to tuck something in.


Dress: Vogue 8667

Bolero: Thrifted


Boots success at last!  I picked these up at the Designer Shoe Wearhouse, and they were inexpensive.  They measure maybe 1/2″ bigger than my calves… not perfect, but close enough, especially as I had steeled myself to pay a lot for boots.  They’re suede, and have a cute ruched detail on the side.  I wore this outfit thrifting, and yes it is overkill but I felt good!  I wear this dress a lot… it was a good choice to make, it goes with everything!


Jacket: Express, thrifted

Dress: thrifted

Boots: Kensie Girl

Total cost of this outfit? $55.  Cost without the boots? $5.  Oh yes, I do love thrifting.  The jacket has a little metallic pinstripe.  I washed both these items twice, and no Goodwill smell lingers, for those of you who mentioned that.  I always double wash everything, and anything that can’t be washed gets drycleaned right away, though I confess that unless something is lined I wash everything that I thrift… I am not drycleaning something that cost a dollar.  But I am not taking chances with clothing moths etc again!    I really like this combo, and I bought the dress specifically so I could wear it this way.


Skirt: thrifted and quite old

Cardigan: Old Navy

Shoes: Sofft

Sweater tights: Hue

I’m thinking of remaking this skirt.  It isn’t fancy or anything, but while I love the print I don’t love the style – it’s one of those yoked a-lines, meant to sit slightly low on the waist.  Not my favorite.  I like to tuck blouses in, but with these that doesn’t work so well.


Dress: Vogue 7617 (Vintage)

Cardigan: 525 America

Wearing purple today in support of LGBT youth, and in remembrance of those who have taken their lives due to anti-gay bullying.  This is an issue close to my heart, as I lost have lost two gay friends to suicide, one in high school and the other in college.  I was also bullied hardcore all through grade school, for being quiet, smart, and kind of nerdy, and I can tell you… the scars from that never truly fade.  To this day I am constantly convinced that I will never live up to what other people want from me, and I am always paranoid that people will not like me.

Since I am feeling down, and remembering sad things, I’m glad to wear this cardigan… it’s so cozy that it’s like wearing a bathrobe all day!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Tied with a bow: Vogue 1176

Pattern: Vogue 1176, a Michael Kors Design

Fabric: 2 yds polka dot suiting (Rebecca Taylor, from Mood,) 2 yards red china silk lining

Shoes: Alfani

Notes: I’ve had this dress in my queue since it came out, but I kept waiting for someone to review it!  I’ve finally seen one review, and they didn’t indicate that there was anything crazy, so late at night last week I got started.  I was drawn to this design because of the pleated bodice and bow – pretty and striking, but not over the top with girliness.

I made a muslin and ended up taking in the bodice by 1″ and letting out the skirt by 1″ (I had originally cut an 8 bodice and waist and a 10 skirt.)  In my opinion this ratio seemed a little off.  I also shortened the skirt by 2″, giving me a hemline right at the top of my knees.  I recommend this pattern highly – the pleated bodice went together really easily, and all the pieces were well drafted.  It’s really not hard at all, just follow the directions (and make a muslin… there are no finished bust measurements provided on the tissue.)

I had a few issues.  The skirt is eased onto the bodice, giving a bit of a puffy effect.  I had a little trouble easing the back, but I managed.  It seems that it was designed for someone with a less flat behind than I have, because as you can see the back is a little loose.  The darts were identical for all sizes, which may be the problem… shouldn’t they be different?  I would reduce them if I made the dress again.  The other issue was not the pattern – it was my fabric!  This fabric has a stitched stripe, and it was really easy to accidentally snag.  You can see a row on the back that has a little pulling.  I don’t know if I can recommend the fabric for that reason – I had to make the straps twice because I somehow lost a row of stitching!

I like this dress in a suiting, because it’s appropriate for day (with a sweater or jacket) or evening.  I can’t believe it hasn’t been more popular – it’s fabulous, and seemingly not nearly as hard as some of the other Kors designs (like the Starlet dress… someday!) Now I’m going to take a few nights off from sewing – I had a sinus infection this weekend, so I stayed in and literally only sewed this dress!

crafts · Sewing

Making marks

In my last post I asked for advice on marking dark fabrics.  I received so many great responses – thank you!  I personally find marking fabric to be one of the most difficult steps – there are so many choices, but no one solution – it all depends.   I most often use a water soluble marker for washable fabrics that aren’t too dark (I do test for removal first, but it’s been ok so far.)  I have tried the pens for marking on dark fabric (don’t show up half the time, and are very faint,) soapstone pencils (way too hard to get a mark,) chalk wheels (hinky to use, but it may be that I have the Fons and Porter one instead of the Clover version everyone recommends,)  tracing paper (doesn’t always mark, and not good for use on the right side,) and tailor’s tacks (works, sort of, but seriously annoying to do…. I’d rather save them for silks.)    Finally, with your guidance, I found this:

It’s made by Dritz, and consists of long sticks of chalk in a pencil holder.   You can sharpen them with the provided sharpener, and look at all the colors it comes with!  It removes my issues with chalk – that it’s hard to mark small things, and how hard it is to handle.  It does brush away (the sample above was marked and then removed) but not as easily as the chalk wheel.  I found it easy to make the insane number of markings required by my pattern:

I’m about halfway through construction on my dress.  It’s not that hard once you get past the twist on the bodice, but it is time consuming.  The best part?

The red lining!   I actually hate lining things – it involves making the dress again, and since I’ve already made a muslin it’s #3 for me.  Vintage patterns rarely call for linings, but modern patterns often do.  I assume this is because no one wears a slip anymore.  Ive already declared my love of the slip, and I often leave them out – I’d rather have the slip, which is easily laundered, next to my skin, so that the dress gets less wear and tear.  Sometimes, on something closely fitted, a lining is necessary (as with this dress.)  I can’t go without in the winter, because I hate when my dress sticks to my tights, though in the summer I rarely wear slips.What do you think?  Do you line everything, or do you wear the increasingly difficult to find slip?


Epic thrifting day

I have a great love for thrift stores – when I was little we were very poor, but my Mom made bargain shopping into a game.  I still enjoy it!  I also like a lot of variety, but retail prices make me flinch.  I have literally no clothing budget except for my sewing.   Today I went to one of the larger Goodwills in town.  I had been on the verge of giving it up, as it seemed lately that they suffered from the same issue that all the southern Indiana stores have – very little in my size, and in fact, very little that wasn’t recent season Wal-mart discards and such.  I thrift to get nicer things than I could otherwise afford, and I could afford to shop at Wal-mart (but I don’t… it’s such an unpleasant place.)
I don’t know what happened, but it seemed that today there was plenty of merchandise in my size, from very nice brands – and even some actual vintage, which I find is quite rare in a Goodwill (I think it must get shipped to their boutique stores.)  Of course, it may also be that I was on my own – I often thrift with my husband, but he does not have the patience that I do to sift through every single rack in the store (and it is a very large store.)  I was there for two hours, but I think I made up for my recent absence from the thrift scene.
Skirts.  I have found that skirts are very easy to alter, so I have started buying them too large and altering to fit.  The red skirt  is vintage Pendleton wool – never worn, see the tag still attached!  It’s too big, but it’s easily altered.  I already washed it in Eucalen to remove the thrift store stink (how is it that all thrift stores smell the same?) and Leon slept on it (cats have an irresistible urge to sleep on wet laundry I find.) thus the wrinkles.    The other plaid skirts are also nice – the olive/purple miniskirt fits really well, and just to show you how sizing has changed, it’s a size 8 (I think it’s from the 80s, based on the tag.)  Now I usually have to buy a 2 in skirts, which I think is just silly.  I put most of these skirts in the “to be altered” pile – even if they fit they are often a low-waisted style, and I’ve definitely decided that low-rise skirts do not suit me at all.
This coat was a great find – vintage 100% cashmere, fur collar, silk lining in perfect condition except for one tiny, easily repaired rip where the sleeve lining attaches.   Sadly, it doesn’t fit me as well as I hoped, being a few sizes too big, so it is probably destined for ebay.
Various jackets… the one on the right is a Banana Republic equestrian style that appears to have never been worn, with great elbow patches.  I don’t know how I found these, because I never have any luck at all in the jacket section!  I have lately become enamoured with wearing blazers open over full skirts to extend the summer skirt season, but I had very few jackets anymore.
Many tops… you can never have too many I think, though when I had all these in my cart I was actually approached three times by people who thought I worked there!  I find that I don’t enjoy making tops as much as dresses and skirts, so I’d rather thrift those items than have to worry about making my own.  These will be worked into my wardrobe.  I need to get to making those two black skirts – I have fabric for a pencil style and a more full style, both with the thought of wearing them with my more colorful blouses.  Most of these are from Ann Taylor or NY&Co.
I bought this 80s sweater because I liked the color.  Is this style back yet?  I’m seeing the giant dolman sleeved sweaters everywhere, but that is really not a good look on me (though fab on others.)  This is better – volume on the top, but since my arms are free I don’t look like an enormous bat.
I even found a few dresses, after picking through a sea of ugly 80s denim jumpers.  The green print dress is clearly home sewn, and I had to buy it for that reason.  It needs taking in around the bust, but it will be cute next summer.  I love the teal wrap dress, which is sort of an empire wrap.  Works better on me than a waist wrap.  The calico dress is to wear with my cowboy boots and a jacket – I’ve seen a few women in similar outfits this fall, and I like the style.
And a purse… it isn’t a fancy purse, but I thought the stripes were fun.  I’m thinking early 90s maybe?  I seem to recall this sort of Ralph Lauren stripe being popular then.  Purses are stupid cheap at Goodwills here – $1.50 each.
And finally, I bought this set of vintage sheets to use as dress fabric.  I thought there was something I liked about the pattern, but it wasn’t until I had washed it and hung it over the balcony that I realized it forms a very MC Escher type 3d print.  My husband (the math nerd) was very excited to point that out to me.  I don’t know how old these are, but the fitted sheet does not have elastic, just a zigzagged edge.  Is that a clue?
Does anyone else share my love of thrifting?  None of my friends do… in fact, I bet they would be shocked if they realized what percentage of my wardrobe is thrifted.  It’s why I say sewing is not saving me anything – yes, it’s cheaper than retail, but I don’t shop retail!  That’s ok though… I just put it in my entertainment budget instead.
I’m hoping to start on my polka dot dress today… I was going to cut the fabric last night, but there was a giant wasp in my sewing room.  I’m a big wuss when it comes to anything that could sting me, so I shut it in and waited til my husband got up this morning to take care of it.  Hopefully today!
crafts · Sewing

Making a full muslin pt.2: the results

All told it took me two nights of sewing to make a full muslin of the Michael Kors dress.  The first night was spent cutting and marking, and the second sewing.  I’m really glad I took the time, because this dress needed some adjustments!  I tried it on last night and then made a few changes – here are the results:

It’s a very dramatic shot, yes?  I look very pensive about the outcome of my muslin… but actually I’m just not wearing makeup, and waiting for my morning coffee to brew.   I think I’m happy with the fit.  Here are the changes I made:  I took one inch out of the side seams of the bodice and added one inch to the side seams of the skirt.  I shortened the skirt by 2 inches.  I considered shortening the straps, but after fixing the size of the bodice I decided that it was fine.  I think this pattern runs a little odd, sizing wise.  I cut a 10 in the skirt to start and an 8 in the bodice, and I basically turned them into a 6 bodice and size 12 skirt.  I have larger hips that my bust, but not that much larger!  Here is the back:

You can see that I’m going to have to shorten that slit – I shortened the skirt along the lines marked, but that makes the slit way too high.  The wrinkles on the skirt are caused by some shoddy easing late last night, and not a flaw of the fit.  The actual dress will be made of wool.  Sometimes I use a fabric more similar to the one I’m using for a muslin, but in this case I didn’t have anything.

The pleated bodice is lovely, and it fits me fine – the pattern is definitely drafted for a B cup.  I did have to have my husband help me stare at one portion of the diagram to figure it out, but it’s really not bad.

So… now comes cutting my wool and my silk lining!  What do you think about the length?  With a hem it’s going to be right above the knee.  I know I don’t like the just below knee look on me.    But should it maybe be mid-knee?  I’m not sure… This pattern also calls for about a million different markings, and they are all important.  What should I use to mark black wool?  I hate using chalk because it always brushes away before I get to it, and I think the chalk wheel markers are even worse.  Any suggestions are very welcome!