January 25, 2016

sewing | starstruck mimi blouse


Have you ever opened a sewing book and just knew you had to start on a specific project right away? After Tilly sweetly gifted me a copy of her book, Love at First Stitch, while I was in London I knew as soon as I got back in Germany I needed to make something out of it. The Mimi blouse jumped out at me--I don't have a lot of blouses in my wardrobe at this point--mostly knit tops--and it's a gap I keep meaning to fill but never make the time for. Plus I'm a sucker for a cute collar, so this was a no-brainer choice for me! (Yes, I realize my version looks almost exactly like one of the example blouses in Tilly's book. What can I say? I'm not immune to the power of suggestion!)

I really love the gathered back yoke!
I'm going to be completely honest and admit that this is actually blouse v. 2. Version 1 had some shoulder fitting issues that were totally my fault (not the pattern). I've known for years I really need to pay attention to the shoulder width on bodices, and often just sneak by. But post breastfeeding, I swear that my posture changed to the point where it's become much more of an issue. Basically, I can't do things quick and dirty anymore, and I'm still learning to slow down instead of being caught up in the Excitement of a New Project! Version 1 was just too narrow and I desperately needed to shift the center point shoulder line forward to accommodate my forward-thrust shoulders. I had just enough yardage left to cut out a second blouse, much to my relief.

The fabric is a lovely, blouse weight polyester I bought while fabric shopping on Goldhawk Road in London. The star print drew me in! It was a bit fiddly to work with, but a microtex needle and careful stitching worked like a charm. I used some scraps of lightweight black crepe for the collar and piping (which I hadn't done on blouse #1)--an effect I really love! The underside of the collar is lined in the star print to reduce bulk.

Eventually I want to find some other buttons, but this was all I could find at the local fabric shops after much searching high and low! I am hoping to find something a bit more exciting in my travels this year (I'm envisioning black with rhinestone centers; I have some vintage buttons like this, but not nearly enough for this blouse!).

Overall, this pattern was lovely to work with. I've made up another of Tilly's designs (the Bettine dress), which I will be sharing soon. But I really like how nicely engineered the patterns are, and the possibilities for design variations! This blouse is going to serve me well through the winter and into the spring, layered with a cardigan. 

I have a bunch of other creative projects to show off as well. I have been awful about updating with new sewing and knitting items!

October 19, 2015

sewing || a polka dot Bronte!

Why, hello everyone! If you've been following along with my escapades on Instagram, you may have spied we recently got back from our lovely trip to London. I have so much sewing (and sightseeing) things to show... But first, a quick post-trip sewing project I miraculously got photos of!

I've had Jennifer Lauren's adorable Bronte top on my wish list for quite some time, and finally purchased a copy. I need long sleeve tops rather badly now that the weather is getting chilly (it was hovering around 40F/4C degrees the other day!), and making them is quick and satisfying for some evening sewing these days.

Overall, this pattern was an absolute breeze to stitch up! I cut it out one evening and then constructed all of it the following evening. I cut out a size 10, which was a bit big in the waist according to the size chart, but I don't like my tops skin tight, so the final garment was perfect. I did tinker with the sleeve cap, as every other knit top I've made (Renfrew, Nettie and Plantain) has had a bit of a fit problem due to my forward-thrust shoulders (which I swear have become more prominent in the past few years). I changed the center point of the sleeve a bit (also raised it to a size 12 at the pinnacle of the curve), shaved a bit off the back of the cap and added an equal amount to the front. The result is a pretty perfect fit. The sleeve options for this pattern are short and long, but I tend to like bracelet sleeves, so I shortened the piece accordingly. I think I might go a tad shorten next time, as these are still a bit long. I opted to embellish the neckline with a trio of vintage mother-of-pearl buttons on either side--fancy!

Now, lets talk fabric. I hated this material. My serger and sewing machine hated it as well! I should have known when I went to cut out the pieces, and had a terrible time straightening the grain (rarely a problem for me), which gave me a sneaking feeling that the knit grain line was off on this fabric. This is what you get when you buy inexpensive knit yardage on sale (not all the time, but I tend to have more duds when I buy mystery fabric off the clearance table!). It also, frustratingly, is showing signs of pilling under the arms after only a few wears and stretches out easily. Ugh. Thankfully, this is also the last of the pre-move jersey I stocked up on, and I've been eyeing some lovely knits both at Grey's Fabrics and Fabric Fairy to restock my stash.

Lovely make, overall! If you haven't check out this pattern yet, I highly recommend you do!

Stay tuned for some London sewing updates in the near future... I'm quite pleased I was able to pack mostly handmade or thrifted pieces on our trip!

August 13, 2015

sewing || London capsule wardrobe

We're hoping to make it to London in the near future, and I've been doing some travel sewing scheming! I certainly have some garments in my closet I could pack, but I wanted to focus on making some mix-and-match pieces since I have very limited luggage space (and I also need to freshen up my closet a bit, and this gives me a deadline!). My plan right now is to have two neutral bottoms, three tops, and one dress. The weather will be a bit variable, from everything I've read, so I'm expecting to need to layer (I'll be packing a few sweaters and jackets as well).

I'm a visual person, so I started plotting my trip wardrobe in my sketchbook. I eventually worked out a good combination using mostly fabrics from my stash (the only material I've bought is rayon for the Bettine dress). I'm using a few tried-and-true patterns, as well as two new-to-me designs I'm excited to try! 

  • Floral jersey Nettie bodysuit. I love bodysuits (no fiddling with untucked shirt hems), and have been itching to try this pattern for quite some time. 
  • Lace and jersey Renfrew hack. Last fall I fiddled around with tweaking the Renfrew pattern to fit me, and I haven't had a chance to revisit the pattern since we moved. I'm eager to try out my idea.
  • Green sheer jersey Plantain t-shirt. I actually made this up last winter, wasn't pleased with the fit, and wadded it. Recently pulled it out and tried it on again, and am not sure what was wrong with it?! Just needs the hems completed.
  • Red rayon Bettine dress. I love this pattern, as it looks like the sort of easy style I reach for a lot. I'm planning on making the view with pockets. Still waiting on the fabric I ordered for this.
  • Grey, wide leg trousers from a 1930s reproduction (and now out of print) pattern; I think this is actually the piece I am most excited to make! I made this pattern years ago in cream linen, and they have served me well throughout the spring and summer months--now I'm finally getting around to winter-appropriate trousers. I'm making a few tweaks to the pattern (I made these way before Miss A., and my figure has a few post-baby variations I need to fit), and also adding a partial lining to help the crepe glide over undergarments/tucked shirts.
  • Black crepe Tania culottes. Because culottes are awesome, and I can't help but think they'll be handy traversing around a big city with a toddler in tow. I've actually already made this pattern in a lighter rayon, and need to get some finished garment shots!

So far I've completed the Renfrew top and have cut out the Nettie. I'm really excited how these pieces are coming together! Keep an eye out for progress reports and finished garment posts; I'll be sharing my thoughts and techniques after I finish each.

Have you ever sewn a wardrobe for an upcoming trip? What were some key pieces you created?