Make Nine – Take 1

This year I’m trying the Make Nine Challenge. I’m not usually very good at sticking to these things, but ha! Why not keep trying? Thankfully I’ve finished my first look of the year. In fact I finished it back in January so I’ve had a chance to wear it many times already.

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This is the Washington Dress from Cashmerette and I hacked it to have a cowl neckline. I’ve used the pattern a ton of times now to create different looks and it’s worked pretty well. This time I sized down to a 12G/14 and I like the fit!

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I will say the cowl neck is not at all as dramatic as I wanted. I was tentative when I was drafting the pattern and could have gone far more extreme to make it lower. But this is make from wool jersey (from the Fabric Store) and it doesn’t have as much stretch as say, cotton/lycra jersey. Ohhhhh, and right now I’m having an inspiration moment. My friend recently gifted me a sack of fabrics including a dark purple rayon jersey. Now that would have made a better cowl neck dress.

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Regardless, this pink wool version is super comfortable and though it looks tight when I first put it on (like in the photos), it relaxes a bit with wear and feels so lovely. We’ve had a cooler and wetter winter this year and the high neck has turned out to be a blessing on all those windy winter days. So I call this a success!

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Back to School!

So, I’m just a little bit behind on sharing projects from late 2018. Moving forward I’ll be intermixing newer projects with older project until I get through the backlog. Today, back to school outfits!

Both of my children wear a uniform for school, but the dress code is not terribly strict. As long as their shirt has a collar and the colors are correct-ish neither school will complain. I usually buy most of their school clothes as polo dresses and leggings as both cheap and easy to acquire, but the first day of school is special and deserves something fun to wear!

For Charlie I went with separates.

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This is the Oliver + S Music Class pattern. It’s a great little uniform pattern with a classic blouse and simple skirt. Great for wearing to school and pretty easy to sew as well.

Back when Lu went to preschool I bought all kinds of uniform fabric. I was definitely going to make all her uniforms. Ha! Nope. I had a Charlie a few months into Lu’s preschool years and that fabric has mostly sat in my stash. This fall I used most of the uniform stash to actually make more school uniforms including this adorable back to school outfit.

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Charlie likes it pretty well, especially those cat buttons.

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Charlie is very obsessed with cats, even though we don’t own one. When I saw these buttons at the Costume College marketplace, I just knew they would bring a smile to Charlie’s face…and they did!

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The fabrics are both from Robert Kaufman, but after 3+ years my memory of the specifics is gone. I’m sure the shirt is lawn, but the skirt is…? Who knows. Something sturdy that took the pleats really well.

This little girl is not real fond of school, but wearing pretty clothes makes her happy and that makes momma happy too.

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For Lu’s first day of first grade, I used a vintage pattern. I went on a little vintage pattern ebay spree over the summer and this little number called my name as something cute, uniform-ish, and practical. It’s Hollywood Pattern of Youth #1504.

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I could not find it on any of the vintage pattern cataloging sites and was a bit hard to date, but I’d guess its from the 1930s. The starlet for this pattern is Virginia Weidler who was born right now the road from us and it best known from The Philadelphia Story and The Women.

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Lu was a total ham in this dress. I think she liked it quite a lot, but she really loved those shoes! Too bad they broke on the third wearing and had to be returned 😦 The belt was also a huge hit. I had no idea such an accessory could bring so much joy to a child.

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The fabric was nothing fancy. My stash was all really stiff skirting fabrics and so I journeyed to JoAnn’s to find something with a touch more drape. I returned with a rayon blend twill and some white rick rack. The twill was also a bit too stiff for the pattern, but I didn’t want something too delicate.

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Neither of their first day of school outfits has made it into heavy rotation. Those polo dresses really so just so much easier to maintain and comfy to wear. That’s okay though. Special clothes don’t have to be worn all the time. Making them brought all of us such joy. They have served their purpose.

2019 – Make Nine and Other Plans

Happy New Year! I still have lots of catch up on from 2018, but for now let’s leave that horrible year behind to do a little planning for 2019.

I have some pretty big plans for my sewing. Only 2 of my planned patterns are ones I’ve used before. Everything else at this point is new and that means they’ll take a lot of fitting, but hopefully it’ll be worth it.

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Row 1 Left to Right: 1. Navy chiffon for a blouse. No idea what blouse pattern to use, so if you have suggestions, let me know! This would be perfect for spring. Kelly green linen will be a pleated skirt, pattern TBD, but maybe this one from Peppermint Magazine. 2. The pink in the middle is wool jersey that I’ll be making into a cowl neckline skater dress using my usual Cashmerette Washington dress hack. 3. And this snail print lawn has been begging to be a shirt dress for years. I have McCall’s 6696 cut out to make a mock up, so we’ll see how that goes.

Row 2 Left to Right: 1. Vintage pink floral cotton for a simple dress. I plan to embroider some of the flowers around the neckline. 2. This Decades of Style dress is so pretty, but I’ve struggled with picking fabric for it. Maybe this striped shirting will work. Maybe not? the fabric has been sitting in my stash for so long that I’m willing to give it a try. 3. The navy polka dot is my one length of vintage cold rayon. It’s likely I’ll chicken out of making this one because the pattern and fabric will take a lot of concentration and I’ll be worried to screw it all up. But oh that pattern is so pretty.

Row 3 Left to Right: 1. Christmas fabric! I’ve meant to make a Christmas apron for the last 2 years. This year it’s going to actually happen. Maybe I’ll make it in July so it’ll be ready when the holiday crunch happens. 2. The blue is vintage fabric that has this super lovely weave. I plan to use one of these patterns to make my Easter dress, but which to choose?!?! 3. And finally a practical project. I need some plain skirts to go with t-shirts, especially for weekends. I made a denim Gabriola a few years ago and it is one of my most worn clothing items, but is now a size too big.

Whew! Lots of challenging projects for sewing! I think I can do all of them, but we’ll see how it goes. I put all the patterns and fabric is a big bag so I have easy access to all of them. Hoping that will help me stay motivated.

Now bring on the yarn! 

Knitting didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved on my blog last year. I finished up some really lovely things towards the end of 2018 as my knitting mojo returned and I’ll share those soon. Looking forward, I don’t like to plan my knitting too far in advance, but here’s a few skeins I’d really love to use.

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Clockwise from Top Left: 1. These green skeins were gifted to me from a knitting friend. Not my typical colors, but she thought they would look nice knit together. I agree and will look for a textured shawl pattern that can use both. Then I’ll probably gift the shawl. 2. The purple and pink skeins were pulled out because they are one of my favorite sweater yarns. I have a teal sweater using this yarn and I wear it all the time. So I’d like to use one of these colors to knit a sweater. 3. The hot pink has been sitting in my stash far too long. I custom ordered it, but got a little grumbly about some customer service stuff. Now that my annoyance has faded I’d love to make a snuggly sweater. I have lots of purple sweaters and really need to add some pink. 4. The purple and white speckled duo was picked up on my trip to Rhinebeck. I circled an entire show floor and these skeins were what stuck in my mind and I knew it was meant to be. These will be used for a two color shawl. 5. Also picked up at Rhinebeck is this neon set with a skein of undyed yarn. My plans for these are a secret, but it will be so good. 6. And lastly, a cross stitch project. I’ve been working on this cross stitch since I was a college student. Now that I’m so close to the finish line, I’m adding it to my goals for 2019. Will this hang by my bedside by the year’s end?

On top of all these planned projects I will have costuming projects too. What? Who knows! I need a regency dress in 25 days, but I haven’t even started or found fabric. I also have Costume College this summer, but I’m hoping to wear what I own instead of making all new.

Anyone else planning fun projects this year?

Vogue 8789 Part 1 – Buffalo Check!

Gosh I love this dress. It is easily my favorite dress of 2018. I spent a lot of time fitting it, but the outcome is 100% worth it.

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This is Vogue 8789, a darling of the vintage sewing community. So simple, but with so much opportunity to to play with bold fabrics. Really the fabric is the star of this dress so let’s start there.

The black and white buffalo check is some glorious twill weaved yet lightweight fabric I picked up at Portland, OR’s famed Mill End. It was labeled Ralph Lauren and is likely 100% cotton, maybe a blend. Just lovely. I’d bought 4 yards knowing I’d need plenty to be able to match the pattern.

The fabric also biased horribly in the wash and all that pattern matching had me screaming in frustration. Worth it.

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This version was meant to be a wearable muslin for my Costume College Gala dress, but it turned out so well that this will get far more wear in my life. It took about a month and 3 sets of plain black cotton mock ups before I was happy enough to move onto real fabric. The fit of the bodice was so terrible at the beginning. I think I started with a size 16, but I could have gone down another size. Aside from an FBA I took at least 2 inches out of the bodice length and at least 2 inches of width out of the center back.

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I started by deciding whee I wanted to match up the check and decided the neckline needed to be right along the change from black to white and that mirroring the center line was most important. The waist line and side seams need not match perfectly because the eye would be drawn to the front.

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The shoulders also matched because of the neckline pattern placement. A lucky thing that just adds to the magic of the ensemble.

This was just a fun dress to wear into a room filled with other sewists. I got so many compliments on my pattern matching and that is a true sign you’ve done something right.

Skirt was plain and pleated. It took some mind bending to figure out how to insert a side zipper with the pleats, but I totally had a lightbulb moment and it turned out all right. To get it just perfect the back and front have different sized pleats so the skirt could be the same width at the hem and different widths at the waist.

And here are a couple photos without the petticoat. This is how I actually wear it in my day to day life. Petticoats are fun for special occasions, but I just haven’t been able to make the leap into full vintage for my daily life.

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The real bummer is that after losing weight this dress is too big now. Even in these photos the fit isn’t as great as when I first made the dress, but I’ll hold onto it and keep wearing it because it feels so special.

 

When Your Size Changes

I have a confession to make. I am a curvy sewist and I have been trying to lose weight.

This feels like a pretty bold statement to make right now. This article about obesity has been dominating my Facebook feed for the last 24 hours, and I identify with so much of what is said. I have experienced many of the examples from doctors blaming every health complaint on my weight to the judgement I feel at work being one of the largest people on staff. I’ve been the biggest ballerina in every dance class. I’ve been in stores where the largest size is too small. I feel uncomfortable being a fat lady with underweight kids.

Wanting to lose weight though has very little to do with my appearance. I actually like the way I have looked these last couple years. I’ve made some really beautiful clothing that makes me feel fantastic. My husband never complains. My kids think my softness is comforting. The truth is that I got out of shape.

I’ve tried various things to get more exercise, but nothing had stuck since I had my second child. I tried the gym, dancing, and walking. Then a little over a year ago some of my knitting friends started going to Orange Theory Fitness classes and they loved it. I tried it and fell in love too.

The classes kicked my ass. At first I couldn’t even really do the exercises. I had to modify everything. I couldn’t even walk on a treadmill with 0% incline. But slowly over the course of a year I got better. I got stronger. And by taking 4-6 classes a month I was able to lose 5 pounds. It was a start.

I’m not a huge fan of diets. I love carbs. I love baking. I love cheese. I also knew I needed to change things up. My friend Jeff started using Weight Watchers and she liked it. So I gave it a try and it turns out I’m largely enjoying it too.

I know there are a lot pitfalls to using weight loss programs so I’ve been trying really hard to stick to real food. It has mostly helped me eliminate fried foods, lessen the amount of beef/pork we eat, and most importantly it has helped me lesson the amount of refined sugar I eat. With growing kids in the house we still eat all full fat dairy, but we eat more beans, lentils, and fish than we used to. We also mostly stick to home made desserts.

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But the biggest difference has been my exercise habits. In addition to Orange Theory classes I’ve also been jogging and doing aerobics. I’ve upped my exercise to 4-5 times a week and that has made the biggest change. I am way stronger now regardless of my weight. I regularly run on the treadmill, with incline even! I can jog around my neighborhood and up hills. I can do the whole 75 minute Jane Fonda workout. Through all of my efforts I was able to meet my weight loss goal.

Changing my body has been hard. I’m about to see if it is a sustainable change.

I’m hoping to level out now and sew up some fall clothes. All this exercising has really cut into my sewing time! It’s been great, but I need some new things. I have some really great vintage fabrics and patterns to sew up and I’m hoping to dedicate some of my weekends to freshening my wardrobe. I think first stop will be that shirtdress I’ve been planning for years. I think a navy snail printed dress will be the perfect reward for all the time and effort I’ve been putting in recently!

I’m also doing a ton of knitting as I prepare to go to Rhinebeck this year. It’s a bucket list trip and I’m so excited to meet so many of my knitting friends. I’m especially excited to see my fitness cheer team. Erica, Jeff, Stacey, and Larren have had my back through this entire journey and I haven’t even met most of them in person. The internet is so amazing and I couldn’t have pushed myself this hard without their support. I also have to thank my husband for taking over the lead parent role while I get in my workouts.

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Still curvy! Now stronger and better than ever!

Jalie Gigi Bikini Party!

Last March my family went on a trip to Hawaii! It was a trip my husband had been requesting for our entire relationship and finally we had a good enough financial streak to make it happen. Hawaii is not cheap!

As usually happens about one week before our trip I became absolutely obsessed with making a new bathing suit and matching suits for my daughters. I made matching suits 2 years ago and they were so fun. We definitely turned heads around the pool. Also, where did my babies go? All I have now are kids! No babies!

This time I turned to the Jalie Gigi Bikini which comes in size toddler 2 all the way to the lower end of women’s plus sizes.

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After taking this one photo on our last full day in Hawaii I then proceeded to get incredibly and horribly sunburned. Multiple sunscreen applications did no good against such a strong sun. Our new suits sat unworn for months.

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And then we pulled them out for a family trip to the beach just before the school year began again. It is miraculous that the girls suits still fit after so many months of growing. If you’re interested in how my suit fits I did a write up with the Curvy Sewing Collective. I like it pretty well, but there are things I’d change if I made it again.

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The kid suits turned out really well, but I wish I’d added more length to both. Charlie at nearly 4 years old still is too small for the smallest size according the Jalie patterns and Lu at 6 years measures somewhere around a size 3-4. But both girls are more average in height. I know I made Charlie’s as a straight size 2, but I can’t remember what size I used for Lu. I added length to both pieces, but it still doesn’t cover as much as I’d like. Much sunscreen has been applied for these beach trips!

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The fabric is the prettiest swim fabric I’ve ever seen. Its from Liberty of London and I bought it at The Fabric Store (LA location before it closed). I think it must have been a defective roll because the price was not this high. Plus there was a big seam down the piece and some discoloration along the selvedge. The Fabric Store generously gave me extra yardage to make up for the flaws and that’s how I was able to make 3 swimsuits with the fabric I’d purchased to make one for just myself. Actually, I made 4 because Lu’s doll got a matching swimsuit too!

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This project was so so so fun. I’m really enjoying making these matching projects while my girls will want to match me and have doll clothes too. Right now I’m making them coordinating gymnastics leotards and they have coordinating Halloween costumes in mind too. The girls don’t always play nice, but it is clear they love each other.

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And happy birthday to my own mommy! She’s moving away soon and I’m going to be just crushed to see her go. I love you mom! Thanks for providing me a good example of parenthood.

Costume College and a Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

A couple weeks ago I had a chance to attend Costume College for the very first time. Like many people I avoided attending for many years thinking I wasn’t good enough at sewing or that I wouldn’t fit in. I was WRONG on both counts. But mostly I have to thank my roommates Danelle and Kristine for letting me share their hotel room and being my buddies for the weekend. If they hadn’t included me, I’m sure I would have felt too intimidated to attend. Also thank you to Tanya for answering my hundreds of questions before I arrived. Now I can’t wait to go back next year!

What is Costume College? The most important part is the classes. They are all taught by volunteers and range from constructing weapons to learning to make a 16th century smock. I found the classes to be sort of hit or miss. I had some great teachers and some that were unprepared. Overall I found them to be informative and worth my time. In the evenings there were different themed events. You can dress in costume or not. You can dress to the theme or not. You can skip the events completely! I went to each event and had a great time. There are also lots of other things, a tea, a gala, a costume exhibit, a market place, etc.

Costume College was also totally overwhelming. I took zero photos. There are people everywhere and the costumes can be incredible. Far better than I can ever hope to achieve! But there is a wide range of sewing skills on display. I took a slip making class and found myself on the more advanced end even though I don’t think I’m an expert sewist. Not everyone makes a House of Worth reproduction out of silk. But I can see how on social media it looks like the costumes are all perfect. That’s just not the case in real life.

Anyways, I’ll share the two dresses I made for Costume College soon, but in the mean time here is a top I made to wear to the daytime classes.


Charm Patterns is a pretty new brand, but the owner, Gretchen has been writing a blog, books, and designing patterns for Butterick for the last few years. I own one of her books and a few Butterick patterns, but so far I had avoided her new pattern line. I love the look of her designs, but I do find them a little impractical and over the top for my everyday life. Plus her sizing isn’t very inclusive. Boo! But with Costume College a few days away I decided I really needed a blouse to go with my amazing hand painted Mexican skirt. Off I went to research downloadable options and the only one that seemed like it would really work was the Rita Blouse.

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It turned out really cute!!! The Rita Blouse has become pretty popular and I can see why. It was quick to assemble, quick to sew, and comes with cup sizing. For my 42 inch bust I picked a size 10DD, no FBA needed. I heard the waist is generous so even though my waist and hips put me at a size 14, I kind of ignored it. I cut the back as a straight 10 and the front midriff as a 12.

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The fit is pretty good, but not totally perfect. I used a fraction of the recommended elastic in the neckline and it still fits wide enough to show my bra straps. I need to put in minders, but haven’t done that yet. There is also too much fabric in the front right under my bust. The first photo looks pretty good, but this one below shows better that my Rita doesn’t fit snuggly and gives me kind of a low boob look.

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In order to meet my deadline I had to se fabric in stash. This ivory shirting is kind of like a gauze and I got it from a friend who was destashing some of their fabrics. All I know is it is 100% cotton, a tad bit stiff, and breathes super well.

Will I make more Ritas? Yes I probably will. I need to sew more tops and I have better suited fabrics in my stash. Right now I’m in navy twill hell making my daughters some new school uniforms, but the weather has been so warm that short sleeve tops will be needed through the fall. Plus I have a cute bird print rayon all washed and ready to sew up!