Thursday, December 8, 2016

Top 5 of 2016: Hits!

Hi, all :) I didn't want to neglect the blog whilst I'm toiling away on Christmas gifts, so here's something a little different.
This was a weird year in my making journey. I feel like I really didn't get all that much done. I had so many outside sources of stress (moving, getting my house up for sale, stuff with my husband, my singing group, etc) that I never really felt I could devote the time I wanted to make the things I had planned. That said, I still wanted to join in Gillian's Top 5 lists over on Crafting A Rainbow to reflect on the things I did make and show what really works in my wardrobe and what gets passed by time after time. So let's start with the fun part: the successes!
5. Seven Dwarves Sorrel - Ok, so this one wins for the silliest make of the year, and I will confess it has not yet made it to Disney like I planned for it, but I love it just the same. I've only worn it out a few times, but this shirt is just so comfy! The dwarves knit fabric is great and it makes me really excited that I have another Disney knit in my stash (don't judge, lol). I know I will be getting some Disney tickets soon, so I will be sure to wear this shirt when I finally get to go :)
4. Birthday Skirt - This is just such a fun skirt, plus it's comfy and has great pockets - this adds up to a piece that gets worn on the regular. It's pretty distinct, so I certainly can't wear it all the time (plus it's a light color and I'm always spilling things on it, so it has to be washed and ironed regularly which puts it out of commission), but I pull this out every few weeks and I always enjoy wearing it. It also helps that I have the perfect mint green cardi and even mint green Keds to wear with it (not the shoes in the photo). I get complimented on how well my outfit matches every time I wear this, lol. Wearing this also reminds me of the little splurge for my birthday, which is always nice :)
3. Eyelet Parisian Top - While this top is a bit sheer for wearing all the time, it's such a great basic item with a fun twist. I LOVE the collar on this shirt. Love it. It makes me want to make one in every color. Being that this is white, it works with an amazing number of skirts in my closet. It's funny that this shirt was such a last minute item for the Outfit Along, but in all honesty it's the most worn piece from that challenge.
2. Ginny Cardigan - This has become my go-to "throw in my bag in case it gets cold" sweater. The wool is light and airy, so it does a great job of being light and compact in my bag but also keeps me warm but also not too warm when I'm just a little chilly. It's one draw back is that it's not great in the wind since it's knit at such a loose gauge, but I can live with that. It doesn't get crazy cold here anyway, so this sweater is a fun and lovely piece to throw on when I walk the dog or need to bundle up just a bit. I'm really looking forward to wearing it more now that the weather is cooling down.
1. Plaid Peggy Skirt - It feels like cheating to put this as my #1 item of the year since it's' my most recent make, but this is undoubtedly my favorite item of the year. I've worn this skirt at least once a week since I finished it (sometimes twice a week). It's cute, comfy, and different while still being fairly neutral and easy to match with tops in my wardrobe. I still stand by the fact that I want more solid colored shirts now, but it's worked great with the ones I do have already. I also really love the high waist. It's high enough that my shirts don't come untucked throughout the day (a constant struggle for the long torso-ed), so I feel really cute and put together when I wear this. It's also the perfect height to wear with my cropped cardis that I've knitted :) All in all, this skirt is a solid win and I need many more iterations of it in my closet for sure.

So those are my favorite items from this year :) Stay tuned for the not so favorites, lol.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

FO: Plaid Peggy Redo

Here's a project that was actually 4 years in the making! lol I'm so glad it's finally done and on my bod. 
I originally bought this fabric back in July of 2012 during The Sewing Studio's big bi-annual sale. It was a designer remnant, so I'm not sure of the content. It's yarn dyed and woven with pretty large strands of thread, some of which are stretchy making this a "stretch woven" (which I now avoid like the plague) but this didn't behave like a normal stretch woven in my experience. Back then I wouldn't have known the difference anyway, lol. I bought this with the intention of making a Picnic Blanket Skirt with the tutorial on Tilly and the Buttons. I cut into it relatively soon after I bought the fabric (within a few months) and ended up making this is small stretches over a couple more months, finally reaching the point that you see below.
I had the pockets in, side seams and front plackets done, and the waistband was stitched on but not closed. It only needed the waistband finished inside, a hem, and button holes/buttons to be finished completely. But I hated it. In retrospect, I don't know what I was thinking really. This is a fabric with a lot of body, and I have a thicker waist so I try to avoid any added bulk there. I put it on at this point and felt like a house. It was not a good look. I was very disappointed, so instead of dealing with it then I chucked it in my "WIP" drawer - where it sat for 4 years! Can you believe it? lol In my defense that drawer didn't get opened much since it was full of things I didn't want to work on, ha ha, but still. I knew it was in there and that I liked the fabric and liked the idea of having a skirt from it. I had the notion somewhere down the line of turning this failed project into a Peggy skirt from Blue Ginger Doll, but never did anything to make that happen. Jump forward to a the 8th of November of this year. I'm participating in #BPSewvember on Instagram - a photo challenge hosted by Bimble and Pimble - and the prompt for that day was "Dear Past Me". I chose to tell past me that this gathered skirt was a bad idea and that it would sit for 4 years unfinished. I never realized how long it had been until making this post and doing a little blog investigation. I've been wearing my first Peggy skirt quite a bit lately and thinking that I would like to make another. #BPSewvember brought this skirt to my attention. Bada bing, bada boom, I decided to finally remake this into something I would actually wear...
Since I was re-cutting this from the other skirt, I was at the mercy of the pieces available. I unpicked the whole thing and laid out my pattern pieces. I was able to cut the Peggy front from the Picnic back and the Peggy backs from the Picnic fronts. There were strips of the Picnic fronts left that were wide enough to cut the pocket facings and fuse pieces from, and I had a little of this fabric left uncut that I used for the pocket bags themselves. The waistband happened to be almost identical between both skirts since I chose to make the straight option of the Peggy, so I just left those pieces as they were.
I had been very careful to match the plaid across the fronts of the Picnic skirt (well, as careful as I was capable of being at that time, lol), so I was able to match the fabric across both back pieces as well, but any other plaid matching was not an option. I wish I had thought of the side seams 4 years ago (and I'm pretty surprised I didn't to be honest), but they wouldn't have matched on the Picnic skirt either. So, I just didn't worry about the side seams on the Peggy. There are worse things in the world than disconnected plaids. At least the front and back match, so that feels like a win. I don't notice it while I'm wearing it anyway.
The shining, proud moment of this skirt for me has got to be the back plaid matching. I realize it's not perfect since the black lines are doubled up and look thicker, but the plaid is matched perfectly horizontally across the seam. Woo hoo! And wait ... it gets better ...
There's a lapped zipper in that seam! I know, right?! lol I've never paid so much attention to so many things at once while sewing such a short seam before, so the fact that it worked out (after much perseverance) has me pretty stinkin' pleased with myself. The result is that my zipper is perfectly hidden under the lap. Things got a little trickier with my waistband and I had to shorten the button side to make it level, but that doesn't bother me since I don't think it's noticeable when worn (except to us sewing folk). Considering that in my first Peggy skirt I couldn't even figure out how to make the button flap piece and had to close it with hooks and eyes, I'm just happy I got a button on it this time :)
So, the other best part about this skirt is undoubtedly the pockets. This is another aspect that it seems I didn't quite get right on my first try at this pattern, but I definitely nailed it this time. The pockets are designed to have a natural "pocket gape" so they always lean forward and stay slightly open, which I managed to accomplish this time (the first one seems to just lay flat and I don't remember what I did after so long). The result is that the pockets are just always poised and ready to receive my hands, which just makes me want to put my hands in them all the time. It's like, "Oh, well don't mind if I do," every time I look down at my skirt, lol.
Details! Since this fabric was so prone to fraying, I overcast everything inside. My previous Peggy skirt has had fraying issues since I didn't really know to finish the seams back then, so I wanted to make sure that didn't happen this time. The second photo on the top above is of my rather makeshift cutting. I ended up with some of the fusible interfacing from the Picnic skirt button placket area showing inside my pocket bag. I was able to hide this inside the skirt, but it still funny to see it there. No one needs to know! The button I used was a vintage one from my stash that has a faceted design on it - it was the only one, so I was pretty thrilled to use it. The bottom left photo is of the pocket itself as it naturally hangs. See that gape? Isn't it great?! When cutting out the pocket bags, I knew I didn't want to mess with plaid matching in the pocket bags, so I deliberately cut those pieces on the bias. I actually like this better because it draws more attention to the pockets as a fun feature of the skirt. And there's the lapped zipper again - man, I love that thing. I even managed top stitch the lap at the joint of a black and white line in the fabric, so it's completely invisible in the fabric. I used a vintage zipper from my stash that I snagged for$0.10 way back - woo hoo! And I went with a machine blind hem so that the plaid wasn't broken up by topstitching (since the sides of the skirt curve, it would've looked weird in my opinion).
Here's how the skirt looks with my shirt untucked - it's not bad in the photo, but I just don't love it in real life so this will be one of the few skirts I actually tuck my shirt in with (gasp!). Since this i shigh waisted, I don't have my usual issue of my shirts not being long enough to stay tucked - hurray! It's also worth noting that I shortened this skirt by several inches from what the pattern is designed to be. I did this on my first Peggy as well just because I feel knee length is more flattering on me. It worked great though because the Picnic skirt pieces weren't long enough for the full length Peggy anyway :)
So there you have it - my plaid Peggy skirt :) Talk about making lemonade here, right? I'm so glad to have this plaid monkey off my back and on my butt, lol, in a form I enjoy wearing. Now I want to make more Peggy skirts! This project also made me realize I need more solid colored shirts to wear with it. I'm sure those won't be far behind ...

Fabric: 2.5 yard remnant of black and white gingham style yarn dyed plaid stretch woven - $7.50 (there's still 1/3 - 1/2 a yard piece left of the fabric though)
Pattern: Peggy Skirt by Blue Ginger Doll
Notions: fusible interfacing - $0.50, 7" black zipper - $0.10, black button - free (stash), black thread - $1.00
Time: 4 years and 6 hours, lol
Total Cost: $9.10

Friday, November 18, 2016

Oh, What A New Hem Can Do - 2 Refashions

This is a post with 2 finished projects! Aren't you lucky?! lol A few weeks ago I was really wanting to do some sewing, but lately I've been very weary of starting any large projects. I have so many other things I'm already obligated to that having a project going and not being worked on just makes me feel like I fail at managing my time. So instead of cutting out a new skirt or something, I turned to me pile of things to refashion. I picked a few simple things from the stack and got to work.
I grabbed this piece first. My mom recently gave me this night shirt. It was one my grandma wore when she lived at my parents house in her last few months. It has a cute print of pastel colored cartoon dogs, but it was a less-than-attractive look for me. The entire shirt was made of rib knit, so it sucked to me tummy plus it was much too short for my liking - even as a night shirt I like things to be closer to my knee or it feels pointless. I only share this photo to show my dedication to "before and after" refashion evidence, lol. The nice thing is that this is a really easy refashion to do - just cut it shorter and redo the hem. Hooray!
Back view - nice fit if I do say so myself :) Not that I can really take credit for that, but still...
For my new hem I used woolly nylon in the bobbin and top stitched with a twin needle in coordinating thread. And done!
Now I can enjoy this cute shirt and remember my grandma :) It's been super comfy and a fun little shirt when I'm feeling casual. It makes a great dog walking shirt, lol.
Next in my pile was a skirt I recently thrifted. I'm still on the fence about it, but I'll show it anyway :)
I picked up this bias cut linen Spiegel brand skirt at my favorite thrift store bag sale a few weeks ago. It was an odd 90s length that I totally hate - not long enough to be "maxi" but not short enough to be "midi". Just an unattractive slightly-lower-than-mid-calf length. I love the color and that it's linen, plus being a 80s-90s kid I couldn't resist the fancy feeling of owning something from Spiegel, lol. So I bought this for about $0.36 and decided to shorten it.
I tried the skirt on, marked where I wanted it to hit, and chopped it shorter. I tried it on afterward and it was exactly the length I wanted it to be - but I still had to finish the edge. I couldn't turn it under, so I decided to make bias tape out of the piece I removed and face the hem with it. My hope was that it would help the hem to flare out a bit too. Really it just gave me an excuse to bust out the bias tape machine (man, I love that thing). I just cut 1" strips, sewed them together with the smallest seam allowance possible, then pressed and ran my crazy long strip through the bias take machine. I was able to face the hem very nicely and I still have a ton more bias tape PLUS more skirt I could use to cut more if I wanted. Who knows what this will become :)
Here's a closer look at the new hem. I just top stitched it - again this was in hopes it would flare the hem out a bit. And who can resist that Spiegel tag - ooh fancy!
It's much better than it was, but I'm still on the fence about it. See - the area of my body I dress to camouflage most is my hip/gut area. I like to wear a-line or straight styles that just drape away from that region, but this being a bias cut it seems to work like a stretch knit and actually stretches around that area I most want to pull away from. The hem does flare out nicely now, but I really hate that it dips back toward my body before it flares. So we will see if I end up wearing this or not :/ But it was a fun experiment! Maybe if I starch the living daylights out of it ...

So there you have it - two projects that just needed a new hem to switch them up and make them wearable :) Gotta love a simple change!

Monday, November 14, 2016

FO: Floral Button Down Refashion

This refashion was so simple that I contemplated whether I should share it or not, but in the effort of showing how a little change can make a nice difference in modernizing old clothing I decided to just go with it :) So let's take a look at what this came to me as:
I picked up this Penny Lane brand floral rayon button down shirt at my favorite thrift store for clothing a few weeks ago during a bag sale (bag sale - I love you), so this shirt cost me about $0.36 :) I liked the feel of the material - it's very light and smooth like a challis - and the floral print felt fun. I even liked the touch of gingham at the yoke line for a nice print combination, but I hated the faux pocket flaps. Well, the flaps are real but the pockets are faux. Pointless and dated in my opinion (pocket flaps seem to scream 80s to me). I also hated another 80s touch - yep, this baby had shoulder pads. It's not super obvious in my before photo, but shoulder pads make me feel like I look like a linebacker. I've recently figured out that in my mind it's something to do with my neck being wide and a bit short, so the raised and widened shoulder makes my neck disappear (at least to me). I feel the same way every time I put on a structured blazer. Anyway, there is also a little gaping at the buttons and it's pulling a little at the hip because it's a bit snug. So on a refashioning kick I decided to fix these issues and hopefully get something I wanted to wear out of it.
First thing to go were those shoulder pads. See ya! I just ran the seam ripper through the stitches that attached them. Easy! Next I dealt with the pocket flaps. Thanks to the flat piping along that seam, the top of the pocket flaps are hidden from the front, so I just took my small scissors and cut the flaps off as close to the seam as I could. Again, Easy!
This got me a much less cluttered bust area and more natural looking shoulders. Yay! You can still see some of the pulling in this photo though, so I decided to slit the side splits a little higher to my hips. I don't have pics of this process, but I just seam ripped the opening about 1 inch higher than it was, and then top stitched around the added opening area.
I like the sleeves and all, but this is Florida. It doesn't matter how light the shirt, you can't have long sleeves 99% of the year. So realistically this is how I will wear this shirt - with the sleeves rolled up.
And the back after the split at the hip :) No joke while I was taking these pictures, I pulled a stray thread at the bust and a button fell off, lol. I was unsure about the buttons anyway. I feel kind of like the two toned buttons add to the 80s feel, but I'm going to live with them and see how I feel later. I may change them to solid black, but we'll see.
And there you have it :) A few snips and I have a wearable shirt that feels (dare I say it) on trend. Also for the record this shirt is a size Medium, haha. Gotta love the 80s and its major over-sized-ness. I'm really happy with how this shirt turned out and that it was so easy to change up. I'm hoping to get some good wear out of it during the coming months.