Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Knitting, Fall Challenge and a Busy Week

September has been a pretty eventful month - starting the blog, sewing 3 out of 5 of my Fall Palette Challenge items, and starting the knitting project above!

We are having our semi-annual sales meeting at work. So, I have been very busy with things unrelated to sewing!

I will be starting on the Jasmine Blouse for the Fall Challenge over the weekend. I have a pretty star patterned voile that I am going to use. And of course I'll be starting the final item, Clover pants mid next week when the sew-along begins in a cream courdoroy!

For now I have been very lazily working on an ice blue silk georgette Pendrell. It is going to be gorgeous - and I can't wait to blog about the experience of sewing with this fabric.

I have also been knitting! I first started knitting when I was a pre-teen. I remember knitting colorful booties to wear around the house by my early teens I really wasn't knitting anything anymore. So, this really isn't my first project, but my first project back. This time I am determined to learn how to cast on (something I never did for myself previously) and hopefully gain enough experience to make a lovely owl sweater I saw while looking at everyone else's plans for the Fall Challenge.

Do you knit and sew? It seems like the two go hand in hand!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vintage Finds

Do any of you shop Estate Sales? I haven't in the past but I was so inspired by Mena at the Sew Weekly's post about her vintage finds that I decided to give it a try.

I was really excited to find a vintage lazy susan, just like ones I had been admiring on Etsy but for much cheaper than the Etsy price! I also found a couple nice pieces of jewelry.

I also came home with a nice sized box of vintage sewing notions (bias binding, hem lace and tape, vintage lace, and some silk threads). As if all of this wasn't enough I also found an old Singer Golden and Touch and Sew from the Late 1960's. It had the user manual, an accessories box, and two button holers - all in original packaging! This machine while a lot older than what I currently use has so many more feet and functions (decorative cams etc.). I can't wait to sew with it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Palette Challenge - Garment #3

Pattern: Peony from Colette Patterns
Fabric: Kona Cotton Sunflower Yellow
Styled with: Zoya shoes from Just Fab.

First, I have to say I am totally in love with the Peony pattern!  The pattern sewed up so nicely and the instructions were amazingly clear.  I pretty much started the actual sewing on Friday and had a finished dress other than the belt by Monday. I have another lined up already, in a black pique.  The one thing I really want to change for this dress is the bodice facing.  You have a facing which you tack down to the armholes but other than that pretty much hangs freely.  I think I would prefer to line the bodice completely enclosing in all the darts and preventing the facing from potentially popping up.

I have to tell you I was somewhat skeptical of the fabric.  This was initially an online purchase gone wrong.  First they didn't have what I wanted in stock, and then when I went online to quickly pick out a substitute on my monitor the color looked like a nice buttery yellow.  It was named Sunflower yellow, so if I had really paid attention I probably wouldn't have made the mistake.  I ended up not using it for the intended pattern and added it to my somewhat small stash.

Since I am newer to sewing and on a budget I don't have an incredibly large stash, but when putting together my challenge ideas - I really tried to pick where I could from the stash and save the allotted spending money for must haves (like the new Colette patterns).

I realized Peony was a perfect match for this fabric because of the removable cummerbund style belt!  The belt serves as a perfect way to tone down the yellow fabric.  While pictured above you see only the yellow with and without a yellow belt.  My plan is to make a chocolate brown and/or a black belt that can be worn with the dress to hopefully tone the look down some.

I am not completely convinced this dress will get a whole lot of wear. But I do work for a Solar Panel manufacturing company and yellow is one of our signature colors - so perhaps a great motivational work outfit?

(PS this was supposed to be tomorrow (Thursday's post) but I am putting it up early)

Sewing Helper

It seems many in the sewing blog world having a sewing helper. Usually in the form of a cat, who likes to sleep on your fabric or cutting area. My cat never really even enters my sewing room.

However, my Chiweenie, Pandora is part helper, part criminal, and part distraction. She loves to hang out in the sewing room. She helps by reminding me to keep my area clean and free of loose pieces of fabric or stray pins. She is a criminal who also runs off with anything I do drop and a distraction because she is just sooo cute!

Do you have a sewing helper?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Perfect Fit

As a beginner in the sewing world I have been very intimidated by pattern alterations! The thought of potentially ruining the pattern or spending so much time tracing, drafting, and making muslins that a finished garment never sees the light day - was scary!

Initially I also thought of a pattern much like a ready to wear garment. Pick your size (sew it up for the sewers) and ready to wear! Then I realized how many items I try on only to put back due to fit issues and just not looking right on my body. So, why would I accept the notion of sewing as if I am making ready to wear clothing? Why would I need take the time to ensure the item fit me just right?

So, off I went with my next Fall Challenge pattern the Peony from Colette's in hand.

I had to get accurate measurements first which I did by using a tape measure and standing in front of my full length mirror. You can find a great guide on taking your measurements over on the Sewaholic blog as part of the Pendrell Sew Along (

I found for Colette's patterns I fit in a 10 for the bust and a 14 for both waist and hips! I also realized that due to my high bust measurements I am actually a C cup. I have heard that most women are wearing the wrong bra size I didn't realize this statistic actually included me. But this was good news since Colette's patterns are drafted with bustier girls in mind if I was the B I thought I was I would be doing an SBA (small bust adjustment). As it stood I really only needed to cut the bodice pieces in a 10 and the waistband/skirt pieces in a 14. However, I needed to ensure the bodice tapered to the larger size.

So, with my french curve/ruler, some Butcher's paper (great for tracing and comes on a larger roll), and pencil in hand. I set out to make the alterations with a pattern. A quick bodice test on muslin later - I was off and sewing up the Peony pattern with a much better fit than I would have from anything ready to wear or if I had just cut the size 14 and dealt with the bigger bust.

All of my fears were laid to rest, my pattern is actually in better condition since I only used it to trace, the muslin was quicker than expected, and I should have a finished dressed in the next day or two.

Stay tuned for the finished Peony dress!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beginner's Luck?

I took a break from my Fall Palette Challenge (while waiting for my patterns to arrive) to sew a pair of pajama pants for my husband. He had previously requested plaid fabric and I used a simplicity pattern that I had used to make shorts for him earlier this year.

When I was preparing to cut out the fabric it hit me! The fabric was plaid - I was going to have to make at least a meager attempt to match the pattern! The Mr. more than likely wouldn't notice much less care either way, but I couldn't just cut without trying.

I have read posts on matching plaids and stripes on other blogs but didn't really take the time to refer back to any of them. I chose the upper shorten/lengthen line (for the shorts) and decided I would use that line on both the front and back pieces to match to the same portion of the plaid on the fabric. I had no idea if this would work or not - imagine my surprise to find that the plaid was pretty nicely matched!

Have you had success matching plaids is there a method you have found that provides you with great results every time?

The husband does still want some patch pockets added on, but he was very pleased with his new pants! The patterns I needed to finish up my Fall Challenge have arrived so I will be adding the needed pockets fairly quickly and getting back to the challenge!

Next up the Yellow Harvest Peony dress!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Minnie Mouse - Lonsdale Dress

My father in-law called this my Minnie Mouse dress - and I have to admit the similarity.
Pattern: Sewaholic Lonsdale
Fabric: Cotton Polka Dots in Red
Styled with: Nine West Shoes and a floral headband from Charming Charlie's.

I love this dress! After the complications with my first dress it was refreshing to sew something that had such clear written instructions. Tasia the pattern designer also hosted a sew-along over on her blog. It walked you through the construction of the garment with detailed pictures and tips.

She taught me to apply stay tape on the bodice top and pockets to strengthen the garment, and french seams for a neat and tidy finish. This dress looks great inside out - no loose strings - no fraying edges, and applying these techniques should increase the longevity of the dress.

The one newbie experience I had was not really paying attention to the finished garment measurements. I choose to cut and sew the longer version of the dress thinking it would be a mid-calf dress instead of a maxi dress. However, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I was creating a maxi dress!

This is definitely a sew again pattern!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fall Challenge Garment #2 - The Emma Pillsbury Orange Skirt

Pattern: Simplicity 2315 Version C
Fabric: Orange Suiting (primarily linen hence the wrinkles)
Styled with: Beige Heels from JustFab and Idee Fixe top from Modcloth, scarf and cardigan unknown.

Wow! My second completed item for the Fall Palette Challenge! My new orange skirt with bow inspired by Emma Pillsbury in Glee. To really get the effect I was going for I probably should have chosen a pattern without front pleats and with a more structured bow. However, I love the color of this skirt and the pencil skirt is roomier than I initially expected (I am sure I have the bit of stretch in the fabric coupled with the back vent to thank for that).
I changed a few things up during the construction of this version - I used French Seams rather than my sewing machine's overlock stitch and serged the seams/unfinished edges on the back vent.
I see this being my go-to skirt of the season! I also plan on pairing it with a cream Jasmine (from Colette patterns) blouse and seeing if I can pull of a true Emma Pillsbury outfit double bows and all!

Next up for the Fall Palette Challenge is the Yellow Peony dress from Colette Patterns! The new Fall patterns have shipped and are on their way! I am very excited to make this dress! I have plans to make two different versions of the removal cumberbund style belt one using the original yellow fabric and another out of a chocolate silk (incase the intense yellow is just too much).
Colette Patterns also announced a Clover pants sew-along starting in October. If you remember from my mood board post this was the one item that really had me intimidated and I was willing to drop if the going got tough. With the sew-along I am pretty confident my fall challenge will be stamped Mission Accomplished.
In the meantime, while I wait for the rest of my challenge patterns to arrive I am taking a break and sewing up some Fall/Winter Pajama bottoms for the Mr., which he has promised to model for the blog!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Most Valuable Garment

The outfit pictured above is the most valuable garment I own for a number of reasons. The first being that it is the only article of clothing that I have of my mother's who died when I was very young. The second it was made by my grandmother (more than likely in the late 1970's for my mother).

Also, I wanted to point out to those of you who are not able to use a serger that the seams were finished with a zig zag stitch and this garment has held up really nicely.

If I have a daughter I plan to past this down to her one day and hope she cherishes it as much as I have.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Orange Summer Picnic Dress

This is my very first finished dress! I finished it back in early August but since I didn't have a blog then I am just now getting around to showing it off. It was somewhat challenging due to the open back and a few times I contemplating giving up, especially after I started my Lonsdale dress and it was almost finished before this one which was started weeks earlier!

I have to save it was very satisfying to finish and overall I was about 90% pleased with the results. I probably should have cut a smaller size bodice or done a SBA. I am actually wearing this today while sewing - super comfortable!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Garment 1 Complete: Fall Palette Challenge

My first garment from the fall Palette Challenge is complete - and ahead of schedule!! To be perfectly honest, I chose to do two pencil skirts to have the first one be practice for the Emma Pillsbury Orange skirt, but this skirt ended up way too nice to be called a practice skirt!

As stated in a previous post I used Simplicity 2315 Version C with a wool blend fabric. After getting past my initial confusion of sewing the back vent - the rest of the skirt was very easy and I only deviated from the pattern slightly. It wanted me to hand sew the sides of facing to the back of waistband as well as the bottom. Instead I stitched the sides of the facing to the waistband using the method described in Colette's Ginger pattern and then finished the bottom of the waistband with hand stitches.

It feels absolutely luxurious and I can't wait to wear it again!

PS sorry for the somewhat tired looking photo it was taken after work and after going grocery shopping.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

CLOSET RE-IMAGINED (Purging and Planning)

My husband and I moved into our house last October, a few months before we were married. It was the first time I had to share my walk-in closet. I use the word share – very loosely – since my husband’s clothes take up barely ¼ of said closet.

It has been almost a year and I have accomplished two major closet purges resulting in huge bags of clothes that no longer fit, I no longer cared for, or because of job/lifestyle changes I no longer required.

The hardest thing for me to get rid of – The ball gowns that I wore every year to the Marine Corps Ball! Most of the gowns were way too fancy for the average Christmas party and took up a whole lot of closet space!

The Fall Palette Challenge got me thinking about the colors, fabrics, and types of clothing – that I really like to wear, and I realize that yet again there are items I need to purge to make room for what I really want.

I have also learned in the six months or so that I have been sewing the difference between quality of garments vs. quantity. I bought a lot of garments when I first got out of the Marine Corps to wear to work; pants of various neutral colors and plain colored button up shirts. I can’t say I was in love with any of these garments. They were just items that I had found for a reasonable price that made a reasonable work wardrobe. Most of these items are still sitting in my closet – it has been hard to purge such a reasonable basic item, but this weekend I am putting them in a box and leaving them in the hall closet! If I don’t touch them over the next several months maybe I’ll look for ways to refashion them and spice them up - or donate them.

The Plan – I have made a list of colors and fabrics I would enjoy wearing, and items I feel I need to purchase or make to turn my closet into my dream closet.
What about you? Do you have tips for organizing and purging your closet? Do you have a plan for what to purchase or make?

(The picture above is an Elfa closet system by the Container Store - isn't it lovely?)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Update on Fall Challenge

For part of the Fall Palette Challenge I chose to do two pencil skirts one in a yellow twill and the other in orange suiting. I had ordered the yellow twill a few weeks back when a sale was going, and it didn't arrive because it was sold out! Part of the complication of buying fabric online. I found a lovely black/brown speckled wool blend to make up instead.

The wool blend is as soft as a cloud! And very pretty! I also can't recall every owning a wool skirt - or a pencil skirt - so I am pretty excited! I am using Simplicity 2315 for the pattern and it is sewing up so quick and easy - I almost can't believe it!

In fact, I gave myself a week a piece for both skirts and I am pretty sure I'll have them both done and photographed this weekend! So, stay tuned for my lovely fall skirts!

I am debating tweaking my fall plan a bit more because I am still waiting on my patterns that are on pre-order from Colette's and at this rate there will be a gap in my sewing! I am thinking I'll take the time to join Casey over at Elegant Musings ( in the Circle Skirt sewing along. I have a really beautiful buttery yellow chiffon that would look great for the fall if I could figure out what to line it with.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wearing White After Labor Day

I got dressed today headed out to work and a few hours later was staring down at the white ballet flats I had chosen to put on my feet. A thought popped in my head - "I am wearing white past labor day"! What do you think of this etiquette rule- is it a hard and fast rule for you or a rule meant to be broken?

Apparently, the origins of this "rule" are vastly unknown but many have thought it to stem from well to do city folk who summered elsewhere. This was before almost every house came pre-equipped with air conditioning and people wore light colors (resort wear) to keep them cool in the summer.

However, as far back as the 1920's the rule was broken! Coco Chanel (pictured above)made white part of fall/winter wardrobe with one of her signature white suits.

And in more recent events, Michelle Obama wore a white dress to one the inaugural ball in January 2009.

So, what is the verdict will you be wearing white or storing it away?

Here is an article about incorporating white into your fall wardrobe:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall Palette Challenge Mood Board

I have to say getting to this point of the challenge was hard work for me! First, I had never put together a mood board before and I am not an expert working inside paint which was the only program I could really find on my computer for putting these type of images together! But it really did getting me thinking about some important wardrobe questions - what do I really need more of in my closet? (think seperates)- what colors do I enjoy wearing? (yellow for sure)- Are there items/colors in my closet that I really do not wear (Brown - I will need to limit what I make with this color).

Second, I live in California and we really do not have an autumn season - it is more of an extension of summer - just a bit cooler! I have to say that thinking about fall made me home sick for Georgia were the leave change to all these beautiful bright colors of red, yellow, orange, and a bit of purple... and the air feels so crisp! View this picture at my father's flickr:

And my very last constraint, but perhaps the most important my budget! I wanted to use or pick as many of the projects as I could from fabrics that I already own since three of the patterns were going to be new!

So, here is the project list:
* 1 buttery yellow linen pencil skirt using Simplicity 2135 (all items in my stash)
* 1 creamy orange suiting pencil skirt using Simplicity 20135 (all items in my stash)
* 1 cream (silk blouse?) using Colette Patterns Jasmine (need to purchase both)
* 1 Sunny Yellow Dress with Chocolate Brown waistband using Colette Patterns Peony (have main fabric will need to purchase contrast and pattern)
* 1 pair of pants using Colette Patterns Clover (undetermined fabric need to purchase pattern)

That is 5 items in 8 week! All patterns are rated beginner so I am fairly certain I can finish all my patterns, but if anything does need to drop off the list it will probably be Clover! Pants do take some fitting and there has been talk of a sew along later on - plus it is the biggest investment in my budget!

Off to prep my cutting table!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gardening and Sewing

Mr. and I are on vacation for the rest of the week! Yay!! It has been a pretty crazy year for us and we have been looking forward to a little relaxation time at home. We spent the morning planting a mini herb garden full of basil, oregano, mint, lemon balm and cilantro.

Afterwards I was able to get a few quick snapshots taken of one of my latest projects.

The Pendrell top with three different version pleated sleeves (pictured above), ruffle sleeves and sleeveless is very versatile! I love that it looks great with jeans as well as skirts! I am already working on another.

This was my second Ginger skirt, but by far my favorite in a nice linen blend that doesn't wrinkle! I am thinking that I need to do a hip adjustment to the pattern because it does ride up a little, but otherwise perfect for dress up days at work!

Pendrell Top -
Ginger Skirt -