Tuesday, September 30, 2014

FO: Plaid Rigel Bomber for Minerva Crafts

I'm going to start off this post addressing something that's been bothering me. I feel bad that I've mostly been posting sponsored stuff lately, but I'm in between sort of a rock and a hard place about it. Primarily, I've been very busy this year, between working and school. With non-sponsored content, I probably wouldn't post much at all because I seem to hardly have time to sew for myself lately. The posts I make with Minerva Crafts materials and the various pattern testing stuff keeps me posting even when I'm too broke to do some truly selfish sewing.

On the other hand, I kind of cringe at myself for doing mostly sponsored stuff through the summer simply because I haven't had much time to do anything else. I think after I finish out this round of projects for MC (network members sign up for three months at a time), I'll take a break from them for a while and see what happens in terms of the personal sewing that I'm able to get done. I've strayed from the cosplay-inspired stuff I used to do more often and the vintage-inspired stuff I sew for swing dancing, and I'd like to do more of that again, especially with NCComicCon and Lindy Focus both approaching. I'll still do the occasional pattern testing and review for the Collective, but I'm going to attempt to refocus on my personal sewing.

Anyway, I've lusted over the Papercut Patterns' Rigel Bomber for aaaaages and have had visions of a version with faux leather accents since when the pattern first came out.

And lolll of course my hair ends up covering the key parts of the jacket in one of the few good pictures I got. My photography plans for this fell through so I ended up having to coerce one of my family members to take some pictures for me. 

Anyway, I envisioned a plaid bomber jacket with black faux leather at the shoulders and the pocket welts, and I think I achieved that pretty well. The fabric I used was a midweight poly/viscose blend suiting, poly ribbing, and a stretch faux leather.

I was super careful with the plaid placement and I cut everything out in single layers. The sleeves don't quite match up, but other than that, I was able to make the plaid placement symmetrical across the front and back, as well as making it match up along the side seams and across the front. 

It's a little off on the back, but I don't think it's glaringly obvious. Moreso one of those things that you notice only if you're actively looking at it.

This was my first time sewing in a separating zipper, and I think that turned out really well. The pattern instructions were nice and clear.

These were also the second pocket welts that I've ever sewn and I think they turned out pretty decent (or better than my first welts, at least). They aren't perfect, but I can live with them, especially as I was working with faux leather that doesn't really press. This faux leather was perfect for garment sewing- it's nice and soft on the reverse!- and it stretches so I think I may use the scraps in some leggings in the future, but it certainly wasn't the easiest fabric to use for pocket welts.

The one thing about this pattern is that it's unlined. All over the internet, the makers of the various versions that I've seen drafted linings for their respective versions, but I decided not to because a) I don't feel comfortable with my skills for drafting that sort of thing well, and b) I need more midweight jackets (it doesn't get super cold here in NC) and I was concerned that a lining would make this jacket too warm. The jacket did end up being the perfect weight for what I wanted, but I agree with what other people have said about this pattern- the insides with the welts do look a little messy without a lining to cover them up.

Some changes I would make for future versions of this- it may have been that my ribbing wasn't as stretchy as what the pattern was intended for, but I feel like the ribbing at the wrists and at the waist wasn't long enough. Next time, I think I will cut a straight large (for this version I cut a large at the bust and waist and tapered to the XL at the hips), but but cut the XL length of ribbing. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

A change in hair and fall planning

So I depinked.

I'm going back into education and I have a teaching practicum this fall at a local high school and it was strongly suggested by the teacher ed department that I go back to a natural hair color before then. I tried fading my hair back to blonde, but the pink was stubborn, so for the first time in my life I now have dark hair.

As weird as it feels and as much as I miss the pink, it does feel nice to be able to wear red and brown again without horrible clashing. Between my hair color change and my return to teaching, I now feel a hankering for fall sewing and changing up my wardrobe. I suspect that my color palette for this season will revolve around navy, mint, pink, and brown, with some red, purple, and black also thrown in for good measure. 

One of the main things on my sewing list is a new winter coat. I have this purple one I got from Rue 21 years ago that I have worn to the point that it is falling apart and I really want to replace it with something nicer, but also purple.

For your reference, this picture was taken in 2010.

For some reason, year after year a purple coat just works really well with my typical winter wardrobe. As for its replacement, I've decided to take part in Lladybird's Ralph Rucci sewalong.

It satisfies all of my main requirements for a coat- length (I tend to favor longer coats), flair, and doesn't have set-in sleeves (which I find to be painfully restrictive in winter coats). I scored this awesome wool/poly melton on sale in the perfect shade of purple for this project.

The rest of my essential fall sewing list revolves around teacher clothes. I find that I prefer more menswear-inspired styles when working with high schoolers because they give me a professional look and style, without straying into frumpy territory that's easy to accidentally traipse into when wearing feminine yet "modest" clothing. My ideal dressy-casual teacher outfit for the fall would be a nice pair of pants, some brown oxfords, a button-up shirt with some sort of interesting detailing, and a coordinating cardigan paired with my brown leather satchel. 

The first item on the agenda is pants. I don't wear pants very often, so I want something that will do double duty for both professional and casual wear. I decided that I want to make a pair of classic chinos using Simplicity 1696 and this stretch twill from Mood.

I have enough cardigans to satisfy my cardigan needs (though I'm really hankering for a navy blue and brown suede Newcastle cardigan), and for the button up shirts I have been really inspired by Rochelle's Archers.

I would love to make some button up shirts from dark solids and coordinated prints for my fall professional wardrobe. That's the thing about teaching- "professional" doesn't mean boring suits and tame outfits. You can be whimsical and colorful so long as it's also modest and practical. I'm thinking I'll end up using either the Grainline Archer pattern or this McCall's one with cup sizes.

I also have a few dresses in the works for this fall/winter, and a few coordinated knit accessories. I haven't blogged about any of my knits here before, but perhaps I will this season.

What all have you been sewing for the fall? Have you all been following the Curvy Sewing Collective? We've had some awesome contributors and posts made since our launch this summer. If you haven't already checked it out, get on that!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FO: Portside Duffle for Minerva Crafts

Long time, no see? Between work and a boyfriend who lives an hour away and in two weeks will be back at his college 9 hours away and therefore monopolizing most of my free time while he and I are still in the same state. I haven't been much for sewing lately. But Minerva Crafts always lures me back because let's be real, free fabric is awesome.

Something my weekend trips to visit my boyfriend has taught me is that I have no adequate bag for these sort of trips. All I have is tote bags and backpacks and then the next size up is a suitcase. Nothing appropriately sized for being away for a few days.

Enter Grainline's Portside duffle bag.

I decided that I wanted a luggage set to match the last Minerva bag that I made. 

The duffle pattern is part of a set, which also includes a dopp kit (a toiletries bag, basically) and a pouch, and I will likely get around to making those as well. For now, I just made the duffle bag, as it's my most immediate need. 

Some notes on the materials: I quite like this gaberchino fabric I keep using. The colors are vibrant, it's nice and sturdy, has enough poly content to keep it from wrinkling too badly, and over the usage of my purse (which I carry with me quite often), I've found it to be quite stain resistant. I feel like the interfacing that I ordered for this duffle is too stiff, but once I stuffed it with a blanket for taking pictures, I think I'm glad for the structure, though I do kind of wish I had gotten fusible fleece instead.

Also, Minerva did not have a closed-end metal zip in the right length for this project, so I got an open-ended one and it turned out quite well. The end extended about an inch longer than the bag (Minerva had a 20" zip and a 22" zip, while the pattern asked for a 21" zip, of course), so when I was sewing the ends, I made sure to sew a little gap over the metal of the zip in the seam line. In fact, it worked out quite nicely having an open-ended zip because it allowed me to separate the zipper to more easily insert it- otherwise I would have been fitting in a lot of fabric into the throat of my sewing machine. 

I've been quite into embroidery lately. I decided that I wanted to personalize this bag a bit further and embroider a motif from Sublime Stitching onto the front (from their Mexican Loteria collection). I had thought that I had centered my embroidery quite well, but when I was assembling the front I discovered unpleasantly that I had not. Oh well. I tried.

I used to be very into archery (my cousin is a national bowhunting champ, actually) and I am still quite fond of arrow motifs. 

Another note on the materials- the hardware for the strap is topnotch. Seriously, I feel like this bag will last me for quite a while, the materials feel so nice. The cotton webbing is pretty heavy duty, especially the wider version that forms the handles. It was rather difficult attaching it, but I feel like it was worth the effort.

Consequently, my frustrations in attaching the handles and attaching the bag bottom (There are some wrinkles there. It happened. I don't give a fuck because that was so frustrating attaching it.) made me decide that this bag was worthy of one of these tags:

Bags. They always seem like a great idea and then I end up hating myself while sewing them. My Cooper bag also has one of these tags. 

Anyway, how fun is this lining? I LOVE IT. I may use it in place of the black fabric when I make the matching pouch and dopp kit. Hell, I may end up getting more of this from Minerva for a very Ms. Frizzle style dress because I love it so. 

There's a lot of SPACE inside this bag. Both literally and figuratively. :D

A change I made to this bag's construction- the instructions say to slipstitch the lining to the zipper, but knowing how hard I am on my bags I kind of laughed at that notion. I pinned the lining to the zipper and then machine stitched it, going back over the topstitching of the zipper.

It turned out quite well and is much sturdier than I know it would have been if I had handstitched it. 

It's not perfect, but I think it's pretty and it feels very solid, like it will serve me well for a long time. The extra effort to make it was kind of a birthday present to myself. I turn 24 on Wednesday and I haven't felt much like sewing lately. I got some nice fabric to make a birthday dress, but I've felt no desire to sew it up. I typically have horrible birthdays and this year I suspect the horror will be from having to dye my hair brown. I have teacher education stuff at school this fall and I can't have pink hair for its school practicum, which makes me very sad. I love the pink, and I'm going to miss it. I absolutely hate myself with dark hair, but brown is the only thing that will cover the color (bleaching it out is out of the question, I assure you), so I'm just going to have to come to terms with hating my hair for the next couple of months until the pink undertone is faded enough that I can bleach my hair back to blonde.


At least I have a nice duffle bag. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

2 Years Sewing + Some Notes on Pattern Testing

I can hardly believe it, but about two years exactly, I convinced my mom to teach me how to thread her old sewing machine. In the summer of 2012, I was at one of my lowest points in life. I was out of school, depressed, and feeling like a complete failure at life. I'm someone who has always had to try hard to be good at something- I'd eventually be competent, but nothing ever was easy. Sewing, however, was magic. For the first time in my life, something came naturally to me. I'm not saying that sewing isn't a challenge, but it's a challenge that feels so natural for me. I was in love from my first stitch.

As it happens, the first garment that I tried to sew was a Silk Spectre costume that was doomed to failure. Now, two years later, I finally accomplished it and wore it to HeroesCon:

I doubt I'll get around to making an FO post about it- all I did was make a chiffon overdress to wear over a purchased corset and shorts, but still, if some better full-length shots surface, I'll share. And how fitting is it that I share a picture taken with my friend Alyssa, who I met and danced with at HeroesCon last year!

Now a few notes on pattern testing- I've encountered some internet nastiness after I started pattern testing, and I feel like part of it is out of people misunderstanding the pattern testing process. The issues that I have encountered with patterns that I have tested on this blog are discussed with the designer and corrected before the pattern is made available for public purchase. Some issues are unique to specific sizes, especially since some designers draft the larger sizes from a different block than the smaller sizes. Some issues are just a matter of personal taste. When you test a pattern, you're supposed to sew it as drafted for the sake of catching any issues the designer may have missed. In the case of my Betsy skirt, I knew it was drafted to be a longer pencil skirt. I thought it would be worth trying the longer length on me. I tried it, and I didn't like it, so I chopped off the excess length to make my garment wearable. The longer length as drafted was just not flattering on me. 

Sometimes issues come up in the sizing. With my Tap Shorts, some people pointed out that they are too tight. I personally like this style as being tight, and feel that the sizing issue for me with that pattern would be remedied by simply using a stretch fabric (which I have done, btw, and will blog about at some point). However, I did bring up that issue with Katy and Laney during the testing process and after rechecking the ease on the different sizes and versions of their pattern, they noted that the sizing was a little off and adjusted the pattern accordingly. I forgot to mention that in my post on my shorts and later when I remembered it, I didn't think it would be that big of an issue given that it was rectified before the pattern was made available for purchase. 

In any case, if you have specific concerns about a pattern after seeing a post on the pattern testing, you should always feel free to email the designer and ask them about it. I know that Abby at BlueGingerDoll and Katy and Laney would be happy to address any concerns.

Anyway, looking through my old posts, I realized that the first finished garment that I ever posted here is one that I still wear!

It's certainly not perfect- nothing I sew is really perfect now, two years in, and it certainly wasn't back when I made this after having been sewing for like three months- but it's still perfectly wearable.

Out of curiosity, what is the oldest this that any of you all have sewn that you still wear/use?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

FO: Katy & Laney's Tap Shorts

This shall be the summer of pattern testing. Here's another. And another blog tour. Yes. #sorrynotsorry

I present to thee, Katy & Laney's first ever pattern, the Tap Shorts:

Ok, first let me address the wrinkles. We had a bit of discussion in the Curvy Sewing Collective about these shorts after some of the other Collective members had made these but prior to me actually making them as well. We had all been invited to pattern test them, but the shorts really only worked for a few of us in the Collective. So I was apprehensive when I started making these and decided to use fabric left over from my most recent bag make for my first pair. Hey, you can't get any more low-risk for a garment than just purchasing a zipper and some matching thread.

I ended up really liking these shorts, though my fabric ended up being a little too stiff for how fitted they are on me. I like the fit, but I would either have graded the hips up one more size for this fabric or used a stretch woven for the size I ended up making (if I recall correctly, I cut a straight 14 for this pair). So yeah, that's why they look kind of wrinkly on me. 

Also, when I had cut these out, there was only the pleated view of the pattern (which is View A), but I don't think pleats on the front of my shorts would be that flattering on me, so I stitched the pleats down. I rather like how they turned out, but I can't wait to try of the fly front variation at some point.

These went together super fast and require such little fabric. I think I made these out of less than a yard of 60" wide fabric. I also added like an inch to the length to prevent thigh chafing (a problem I usually face with RTW shorts). The only other major alteration I made was sew in a lapped zipper rather than an invisible one (I'm sure y'all recall my thoughts on invisible zippers...).

Overall, I really like this pattern and I think they're such perfect little pin-up shorts. I feel very early Mad Men Betty Draper in this outfit. I never blogged about it, but the shirt is Butterick 5895- one of Gertie's patterns. I made it last year and ran into the problem of having no bottoms that went well with it, which was a shame because I really like the top. Now I have shorts that coordinate with it well. :D
 I really think some more versions of this outfit should make their way into my wardrobe this summer. Anyone who thinks plus-sized women shouldn't wear crop tops and high-waisted shorts can kiss my ass (which I think looks quite nice in these shorts).

Though ignore that fabric butt wrinkle.
These are some more pictures taken by my boyfriend, which resulted in some amusing outtakes.

Btw, check out the other stops on the blog tour! Tomorrow the tour stops by over at another Curvy Collective blog, UandMii by T!

Monday, June 16, 2014

FO: A Floral Flora for the Minerva Crafts Meet-Up

So story time. All of us bloggers for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network were supposed to make fancy dresses for their big Meet-Up this month (whether or not we're able to make out there to England for the shindig). And I made an awesome cocktail dress for this and wore it out to an event that I had the opportunity to go to that the dress was actually appropriate for. 

...and then the zipper broke.

Ugh, I hate invisible zippers. I don't know why, but every now and then I get the idea into my head to use one and then it always ends in tragedy. Anyway, this broken zipper happened yesterday, and I haven't had time to buy a new zipper (I will be replacing it with a trustworthy lapped zipper) and then take pictures. Fortunately, my July project for Minerva Crafts is also a nice dress and I was so excited about this fabric that I made this dress a couple of weeks ago, so I'm just switching out my June and July projects. 

No longer a cocktail dress for this month, but I'm still drinking a cocktail.

Also fortunately, this dress is also made from a By Hand London pattern. God, I love this dress. God, I love this pattern. This is BHL's Flora dress, and the skirt is my new favorite skirt pattern. I want to stick this fabulous floaty skirt on everything. The pictures don't do it justice. The busy print hides the gorgeous pleating on both the front and back and slgghaglhj IT'S JUST SO PRETTY I LOVE IT.

Before I talk more about the sewing and fitting of this dress, here's a close-up of the fabric:

It's just So. Damn. Pretty. This cotton lawn is easily my most favorite fabric that I've ever gotten from Minerva Crafts and it was pretty damn perfect for this pattern.

Speaking of the pattern, it fit me pretty well- perfectly in the waist actually. It's one of the few dresses I own that I don't feel is improved with a belt. However, I had a bit of a titscrepancy (nooo... I didn't muslin it... shhhhh I'm a bad girl, I knowwwww...), and ended up a) tacking the overlap together to prevent gaping (I twill taped the neckline as instructed in the BHL Flora sewalong, but i still had issues), and b) had to add a third dart to get rid of some baggy excess fabric that probably wouldn't have been there had I done an FBA. Oops. 

Fortunately, this print hides wrinkles and darts very well, so it's not noticeable at all. I have this gorgeous magenta silk that I want to make into another version of this dress, but I think I will do the high neckline variation instead and I'll muslin the fuck out of it first. 

Another change I made was that I did a lapped zipper instead of an invisible zipper (I SWEAR THOSE THINGS ARE EVILLLLL). Lapped zippers are so easy and sturdy. I must always remind myself of this when tempted by an invisible zipper. And again, this fabric hides stuff like darts and seams so well that you can't even really see the zipper, at least not in pictures. 

Zipper? What zipper?
I really can't wait to start muslining the other bodice variation of this dress. I just want another one, dammit. And I may or may not be playing with the skirt pattern for the skirt part of the Harley Quinn cosplay I'm working on for HeroesCon next weekend...

Anyway. Cheers! Thanks, Minerva Crafts, for letting me create such wonderful projects. ^_^

If you want to make a dress like this of your own, a kit for it should be popping up here soon, or you can get the fabric here.  

And shout-out to my amazing boyfriend who is now joining the ranks of blogger significant others conned into taking pictures for them. If I look especially smiley in these pictures, it was because he was making me laugh through this entire shoot. Another shout-out to his amazing bartending skills which provided me with an actual cocktail (a whiskey sour, to be exact) for this party-themed photoshoot. <3

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Some Patches and an Update

I feel like I have endless sewing to do right now. In the past few months, I've had so many wonderful opportunities thrown my way, but oh my! I have so much to sew! I love being a part of the Curvy Sewing Collective and consequently I've had a number of pattern testing opportunities thrown my way. I feel like I went from being on the edge of the online sewing world to being right in the thick of things! Which is exciting! But so very busy!

But before I talk more on that, I'd like to share some embroidery I've done recently. Remember my feminist jacket? I made that jacket entirely with the intention of creating a canvas for patches. I bought a handful for the back when I first made it, but now, having gotten into embroidery again, it serves as a sort of artistic outlet. It's fun to come up with cute and nerdy patch designs and then making them happen.

Fashion is just such a form of self-expression that is near and dear to my heart, and this sort of jacket and the patches I'm able to make and buy for it serves as a bit of platform to showcase who I am and what I'm about. This sort of nerdy feminism with humor and wit is very descriptive of who (I'd like to think that) I am as a person.


I love Game of Thrones (both the books and the tv show) and I was feeling very ragey after the recent events that happened in Santa Barbara. It was one thing that this man killed those people in an act of misogyny, it was another thing entirely the way people defended him. Seeing comments on the internet sympathizing with him, saying things like, "poor guy, he was so lonely" and "oh if only someone had slept with him" and then all these assholes that praised what he did and saw him as some sort of MRA martyr. It's infuriating.

So being the angry feminist nerd that I am, the idea of a Valar Morghulis patch (which for those of you who aren't familiar with Game of Thrones, means "All Men Must Die") was very appealing. It's sort of my response to the whole "Not All Men!" cry being shouted all over the internet by "nice guys" in response to the Santa Barbara shooting. Yes, we get it, not all men are awful like that. But what about the ones that are? What about the ones that make fear an inescapable part of the life experience of women everywhere? I was talking to my boyfriend about the shooting and asked him when was the last time he felt sexually threatened and he couldn't think of an instance of that happening to him, whereas I could rattle off half a dozen times I had to be on my guard in just the past week.

And perhaps more horrifying is that while not all men are awful, the awful ones think that they do represent all men and that all men think like them. Those are the people that need to have "Not all men!" shouted at on repeat. Not me. Not feminists. A good portion of us are heterosexual women and we certainly know that not all men are awful, so please, tell that to the people that actually need to hear it, you know, so they'll stop killing us.


Moving on.

[END OF SOCIAL JUSTICE RANT (I swear I didn't mean for that to happen but it did. Oops.)]

Do any of y'all listen to the podcast Welcome to Night Vale? It's fantastic. Kind of like if Stephen KIng wrote a radio show that took place in the world of Courage the Cowardly Dog. I felt like making a patch based on the show, so I did.

I think the next patch that I do will be something Sailor Moon themed. Hmm...

But yeah. Back to business (so to speak). The next couple of weeks are going to be stressful in terms of sewing due to the sheer amount that I have to do. I have a garment that I still need to finish for some pattern testing that's wrapping up, plus four costumes that I need to sew in the next two weeks, which includes my first real foray into menswear.

I have a boyfriend now and he and I are both hella nerdy, so we're going to cosplay together as the Joker and Harley Quinn for HeroesCon in two weeks. His birthday is right before the con, so his Joker costume will be his birthday present from me.

So here's the run down of what all I need to sew over the course of the next two weeks:

  • a vest
  • a shirt
  • a pair of pants
  • a tie
  • a corsetlette
  • two bodysuits
  • a skirt
  • a skirt that I need to draft from scratch
  • a pair of shorts
  • a dress
God have mercy on my soul. -_-U