Tuesday, March 20, 2018

FO: This Year's Disney-Going Sorrel Top

It seems that I have started a bit of a tradition for myself. For the past few years, I have earned Disney tickets by singing at the hotels each Christmas, and while I would not be one to wear Disney items outside of the parks, I certainly would when I visit them. I found two cute jersey prints at The Sewing Studio and bought them on a whim. Back in 2016 I used one cut for my Seven Dwarfs Sorrel Top (which I wore each time I visited Disney in 2017), so it only follows that the other cut would be used for this year's edition of my Disney-Going-Shirt, right? I toyed around with what pattern to use - I contemplated switching it up,  but nothing ever felt right - but if there is ever a place that an adorable collar looks great with a novelty print, it's at Disney. Why re-invent the wheel? So I pulled out my pattern and made my 6th Sorrel Top, lol.
The collar is always my favorite feature of this pattern. The Sorrel Top is from Seamster Patterns, but it was only available in a pattern bundle a few years ago and has yet to be released - it's such a shame too because I adore this pattern. The asymmetrical collar is my favorite, though I have made the symmetrical option as well. I love the chance to use coordinating fabrics and that the collar is color blocked into the shirt, so you don't have to futz with it throughout the day. I've had enough practice now that I can get the point just the right size, which is nice. 
My second favorite feature of the pattern is the curved sleeve cuff. It's hard to tell here, but it curves up along the bicep to echo the collar. So cute! My cuffs and collar fabric is actually a ponte di roma that I got as a remnant piece at The Sewing Studio this year for just this project - it was surprisingly difficult to find the right shade of blue to go with this print. I would've preferred a cotton as I thought the ponte might be too thick, but color won out plus this was nice and inexpensive being a remnant :) It was the best option I could find so I went with it, and having worn it all day I can vouch that it was just as comfy as the cotton. The Disney fabric is by Spring Creations and it is a cotton spandex jersey. I actually really love the fabric base they use - it's so soft and comfy and has great recovery. I'm not sure of the fabric name or if The Sewing Studio has any more, but you could probably find it online. The print has Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy all over it. 
And the back view - you can see the cuffs curve up here, and I was very appreciative of the non directional print, lol. I cut this out of a 30" long piece of this fabric. Yeah. It was a challenge, but I'm glad I squeezed it in.
So that's my top :) There's really not much more I can say about this pattern at this point, having made and blogged 6 of them, lol. I blog this more for my own documentation at this point. Plus how else would I be able to share my Disney photos?! ha ha ha gotta love a captive audience.
We went to the Magic Kingdom last week and much fun was had. I wore my new shirt with my black McCalls 7475 skirt and was nice and comfy. It was actually quite cold that day, so I had to bring a jacket (so weird).
I worked out our fast passes pretty well, I must say. Insider top: get your first 3 Fast Passes on the app before you go and make them all for earlier in the day. Once you use the first 3, you can get 1 more at a time as the day goes on, so we pretty much hopped from pass to pass and avoided the sizable lines. Anyway, one of our earlier rides was Buzz Lightyear, and I only show these pics for documentation purposes because this is essentially a moving video game and I actually beat my husband, lol. This has never happened before and probably never will again, so I needed photo proof. Look at my fave in that middle shot - that is the face of intent, lol.
We also had to make sure Justin got to do one of his favorite classic games and we both had fun in the old fashioned shooting gallery.
I also grew up in a house where you always took pictures on the carousel horses, so we gave that a shot.
We got one decent picture and the rest were us being ridiculous.
I had to investigate the new(ish) Rapunzel area - which turned out to be a fancy bathroom and resting spot. This mural is inside the ladies bathroom :)
And they were taking really cute pictures of guests holding a lantern with the lanterns in the background. I had to give it a try. Pardon the Disney watermark as I still haven't decided if I'm buying the photo yet, lol (for real though it's $16.95 to download 1 photo and I don't know if I can stomach it).
And of course we hit the Haunted Mansion (our combined favorite) and Dumbo. And we had to get a pic with the castle at night. Another tip: get in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train line about 30 minutes before the fireworks start. You may miss the fireworks, but they line went from being 175 minutes most of the day (absolute insanity to wait that long, folks) to us only being in line for 35 minutes - I kid you not - and we wound up being on the ride while the fireworks were going off, which was pretty amazing. We probably couldn't swing that again if we tried, but it made for a really neat experience. 

All in all we had great weather, and while it was crowded we were still able to ride everything we wanted thanks to Fast Passes and luck. I felt comfy and cute in my shirt all day and got a fair few compliments too. I'm not exactly a huge theme park person, but we had a lot of fun. Yay for new shirts and yay for Disney trips!

Fabric: 1 yard Disney printed cotton jersey - $7.75, 1/4 yard blue ponte di roma - $0.50
Pattern: Sorrel Top by Seamster Patterns
Notions: blue thread - $1.00, woolly nylon thread - $0.25
Time: 4 hours
Total Cost: $ 9.50

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

FO: Green Banksia

I'm on a bit of a roll with patterns I've intended to make for years lately. After making a Sassy Librarian Blouse, I got the idea to also make a Banksia. This pattern is actually what got me into the online sewing community when I saw the example photo on Pinterest back in 2011 or 2012. I wanted that shirt! I had no idea anything about the technical aspects, plus I wanted it as a t-shirt, but I tracked it down and discovered Megan Nielsen Patterns and the sewing community at large. It's all history from there. In spite of my initial love of this design, I still had never made it up. Craziness! I've had this cotton lawn earmarked for this top since I bought it back in 2015. I finally sewed up my first version a few weeks ago- et voilĂ !
First off I'm not happy with this outfit - I wanted to take pictures with my brown skirt, but it was in the wash, so I grabbed an old skirt that worked. I will certainly not be wearing it out like this. Ahem. Anyway, the Banksia top has a functional button placket and a peter pan collar with the rest of the shape being very simple. I prefer how this version looks tucked in (as above), but all the other shots are untucked so you can see the whole thing.
I made this version using a Robert Kaufman Classic Cotton in green. I can't remember the actual name of the fabric, but I know it had "classic" in it. I've always assumed it was a lawn as it is very light weight and slightly sheer but still has a crisp hand. Who knows. I snagged it at a Sewing Studio sale and I was in too much of a fabric buying frenzy to pay close attention. The fabric works well fort this design though, and I really like the color. This shirt is definitely a wearable muslin since being my first version ever, it is far from perfect. Interestingly the darts are too short for my bust by about 1.5" or more, causing some strange drag lines as the fabric tries to compensate under my bust. Also it's not loose enough over the hips, so next time I would add more width there. I'm pretty proud of my placket though - first one! The pattern gives two options: the "easy" way and the traditional way. I went for the traditional way so I could have experience with them for other designs as well, and it was pretty persnickity. There is a tiny bit of puckering at the bottom edges of the placket, but I'm able to iron them down pretty well. It won't keep me from wearing this, but it is worth noting.
The back has a strange fit issue I've never encountered before - look at that fabric bunching up at my shoulder blades. Isn't that weird? The picture would make me say it's too tight across the back, but it doesn't feel tight at all when I wear it - it's actually perfectly comfortable. I have no idea what that would be from. Any ideas? Also I had a bit of an interesting time with the collar. I cut everything out, fused the interfacing and sewed it together only to notice a spot on the fabric immediately after. I tried washing it out, but it was no use. Luckily I had enough fabric to cut another complete collar and try again. The collar seems to want to flip up a bit at the edges in these pictures, which I another baffling thing because I understitched that beast and cut away 1/8" from the under collar to pull the top around. So clearly I have things to work on with this pattern.
Here you can see how short those darts are. I did make a pretty big change to the sleeves. The pattern includes elbow length sleeves that do not taper from the bicep. I love the example photos, but when I sewed this up it looked like a big tub on my arm, plus it flipped out in a strange way too. I didn't know if I should just taper the sleeve a bit or if it just needed shortening. I took to Instagram asking for advice, and in the end I agreed with the consensus of shortening. This got a little complicated though because if I just shortened it evenly, the sleeve looked crooked on my arm (meaning the hem was not straight with my arms at the sides). I played around with folding different amounts up and creating an angle so the sleeve hems would be straight - I took off 4 or 5 inches total (not sure exactly how much because I did it a few inches and then cut more later). I'm happy with the length now, though I would like to figure out how to make the longer sleeves work on my frame. Also I got really lucky with my buttons - I only had these 3 left over from making my sad green Melissa skirt and they match perfectly!
So that's my first Banksia :) I should also note that this is the original printed version of the pattern bought and traced before the update with extended sizes and options - they were super generous and offered a free copy of the digital update with proof of owning a physical copy, so I do have that and perhaps I will try out the new version sometime to compare. I made the XL of the old version (the largest size) and added a bit to the hip (apparently not quite enough - though it's not that bad with other skirts since that line on my tummy is from the skirt riding up at the waist). I do like this top in spite of its fit problems on me, and I do plan to make more in the future. I'm a bit stumped on fixing the back, but I have ideas for the other fit issues and I have a few other cotton lawns I've bought over the years with this shirt in mind. I also have concocted a plan to make this in a knit. I'm thinking I could use the Renfrew pattern for the body since I already like the fit of that and just add the placket and collar. One of these days I'll try that. For now I'm just happy to have finally made this up and I will enjoy wearing around even if it's not perfect.

Fabric: 2.5 yards of Cambridge Cotton Lawn by Robert Kaufman - $8.00
Pattern: Banksia Top by Megan Nielsen Patterns - Free (gift from husband long ago)
Notions: 1 yard Pellon SF101 fusible interfacing - $1.50, 3 green buttons - Free (leftover stash), green thread - $1.50
Total Cost: $ 11.00

Friday, March 9, 2018

FO: The Sassy Stork Blouse (+ Craftsy Class Review)

I'm pretty all over the place when it comes to my sewing projects. I'm an avid planner - I plan the projects I want to make and even mentally earmark the fabrics to make them with, but that doesn't mean they get made by any certain time. I've wanted to make the Sassy Librarian Blouse from the Craftsy Class back when it was one of their only sewing classes. I've seriously had this class for at least 5 years. When I first bought the class, I downloaded the pattern and got everything put together pretty quickly ... then I looked at the size chart. I was several inches outside the max in the waist and hip. I was bummed at the time, but I always figured I would just grade the pattern up, but it was way beyond my skills back then. So this project sat. I still always loved the style and planned to make it, but I just never made the muslin to figure out the fit changes I needed to make. A few weeks ago I finally decided I'd waited enough and wanted to get one made at long last - all because of an adorable fabric I was super anxious to wear.
This fabric is from the From Porto With Love collection by Cotton + Steel and I adore these storks, folks. Aren't they awesome?! This is the perfect quirky print that isn't too overly cutesy, so I feel comfortable wearing it in everyday life. Also this peachy coral color is one of my favorites - it's the best pink for my coloring. I grabbed 2 yards of this in January at The Sewing Studio which really lit the fire under my butt to finally figure out this pattern. I love button up shirts, but I had never made one because I knew I would need to alter whatever pattern I used and I always chose to make something else instead. Now I have a super cute basic button up I can make at will :)
The reason I wanted to make this pattern so bad is undoubtedly the adorable collar. The class shows you how to make this version with the collar as well as another option with no collar, pin tucks at the front, and a tab with a bow on the top button - also really cute, and I will certainly be making one of those too. For my first try, I went for that collar. Let's look at it a little closer: 
I know my birds distract a bit, but it's there and I love it. I had to cut the collar in two pieces instead of on the fold so that I could keep the birds the right way up - not a big deal at all, and it meant the pattern used less fabric (which was a good thing since I was down to scraps by the end). The collar is a very simple shape with pointed ends - so much easier than a rounded collar to get it looking nice!  For the buttons, I hunted through my stash and came across these lovely pearlescent white ones. I grabbed these at The Sewing Studio in a whole tube for $2.00, so these were dirt cheap. They are thicker than average, and when making buttonholes just using the diameter of the button, I couldn't get the buttons through the hole. I had to dig out a 5/8" button (the ones I used were 1/2") and use that as the guide for my button holer. This is why it's always best to make a practice button hole on a scrap, and I'm really glad I got in that habit long ago. Also since we're zoomed in, I'll mention my one beef with this shirt - I was squeezing all my pieces onto just 2 yards to cut, and I made sure to keep the birds somewhat lined up when I cut just to keep the visual effect random, but that was all I checked. Wouldn't you know I wound up with duplicate birds right next to each other across the buttons? Ugh. It's not a huge deal since the pattern is pretty busy, so I don't think the average-non-sewer would notice. I just have to not think about it.
You can see my seam at the back of the collar in the back view. So now I just have a few birds yelling at each other, which I'm all about. As far as getting this to fit me, I had a bit of a duh moment in my muslin making. The pattern calls for fish eye darts on the front and back to pull the waist in 50s style. I don't have a 50s waist at all, so after measuring the pattern pieces I decided to cut my muslin to the pattern but leave off the fish eye darts. Problem solved! I did angle the hip out just a bit for a little more ease, but that was the only change I made other than leaving off the waist darts. I can't believe I waited 5 years because of such a simple problem.
So I'm completely loving my shirt! I love this fabric, and I love the neckline. I already have a few fabrics lined up for more shirts like this (some that are years old and bought just for this pattern). I really want to try the pin tuck front of this pattern too, so I'm sure you will see more of them. Yay for finally buckling down and getting this made up :)

Fabric: 2 yards of From Porto With Love Stork print quilting cotton by Cotton + Steel - $7.38
Pattern: The Sassy Librarian Blouse Craftsy class by Christine Haynes
Notions: pink thread - $2.00, Pellon SF101 interfacing - $1.00, 6 buttons - $0.20
Time: 6 hours
Total Cost: $ 10.58

Class Review:
Also as far as the class goes, it's very in depth - in fact WAY more so than Craftsy's newer offerings. This is both good and bad. The good thing is that you get lots of little tidbits from Christine to help you sew throughout the class. The bad thing is that if you don't need all the beginner information and just want to sew the blouse you still have to watch the whole class as you go to get the instructions as there are no printed instructions. I understand they probably don't want you to be able to print the pattern and sell it, etc, but it does make it a little annoying to try and fish through the class for the next step if you're more experienced with sewing clothes. So again - not a bad thing per se, just the class is more designed for beginners. Also there really isn't much said about what to do to get the pattern to fit you - it just tells you to make a muslin and make it fit - not giving much in the way of recommendations for alterations. I do remember that years ago when I first bought the class, it was super informative - in fact I still sew darts the way Christine shows in the class to this day. It's definitely worth a watch through to pick up new techniques plus the pattern is really cute. I would definitely recommend this class, or maybe even give it a watch on Craftsy Unlimited :)

*This post is not sponsored and I purchased this class with my own money. The post does contain affiliate links and I will get a small commission if you decide to buy the class. All opinions are 100% my own - I just really like this blouse :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book Reviews: 36 - 40 of 2017

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour was a bit of a wild card books I picked up at random without knowing anything about it. The story follows Paul O'Rourke - a somewhat boring dentist. Life is going on normally until one day Paul finds out that someone has started a website and Facebook page under his name and is commenting with strange religious sounding posts on various articles around the internet. In his quest to discover who is making these odd posts, Paul discovers an ancient civilization and how he is connected to it. This book was kind of all over the place for me. To start with every time I started to think main character has something like-able about him, he would say something inappropriate or awful that made me just not care what happens to him. Also from where this story begins to where it ends up is just a big say wha? It would've been interesting if I cared about Paul O'Rourke, but with it odd segues into the main point of the story I was kind of glad to get this one finished and move on. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Winesburg, Ohio is the classic novel mentioned by classic novelists. I picked this up because authors like Ayn Rand, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner all have listed it among their favorite books, so I had to see what all the fuss was about. The book is a collection of short stories about a town called Winesburg, Ohio around the turn of the century. There are love stories, rascal fathers, town revenges, and much more in the stories as they show how they are all connected. As far as my own opinion about this book ... I feel like I must have missed something? While this gave an interesting view of life at this in a small town, I really did not enjoy reading this and it was a bit of a slog. I managed to finish it, always hoping that the big moment would be coming that makes everyone love it so much. For me this never came. Maybe I will read it again one day and figure out what others seem to see that I don't. I give this book 3 out of 4 stars.

You Are a Badass at Making Money is a branch off of You Are A Badass, which I read earlier in the year and loved. I really hoped for the awesome pep-talk to connect with me like it did in the first book, but this one just didn't entirely get there. A lot of the advice is to stop saying you hate money and send out the good vibes by having faith that money will somehow appear. When I'm struggling to buy a sandwich for lunch verses making one at home, I find the sheer obscenity of the sums mentioned in this book unfathomable. Sorry but it's not a good personal decision to commit to an $85,000.00 purchase when you can't afford to even fix your $1000.00 car. I get where Sincero is coming from - the "if you build it, they will come" mentality, but while she may have been the 1% success story with that amount of money, there are many people who make very sound investments and still lose it all. Maybe I'm just not there yet, but I just can't let go of rationality quite that much. I do still like her style, and I did enjoy most of the book. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The Light Between Oceans is the story of an Australian couple who take in a baby that washes ashore at the lighthouse they tend. The story develops from an altruistic action into the selfish desperation to have a child very quickly. The Sherbournes have tried several times to have children, and all of them were miscarriages, their last one being born dead just a few weeks before finding this baby on the beach. Isabel is so elated to find a baby and convinces her husband, Tom, not to report the finding so they can pass the baby off as their own. Eventually, the family returns to the mainland and discovers the real family the baby belonged to and the desolation her loss caused.

This was just one of those awful situation stories. Definitely a true test of whether the characters would do "the right thing" when the wrong thing is so much what they want. I really enjoyed this story - it's very sad, but in a very good way. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The 5 Love Languages was recommended to me by my husband and once I read it I could see all the small things he had changed in what he does for me in "speaking my language". I feel like this is one of those books that has been around long enough that most people (especially if you've been in any counselling) know the premise. To cynical me I was hesitant, but I now recommend this book all the time. It's such a simple idea - treat people how they want to be treated to show that you love them - but this can be ground breaking in a relationship that has lacked this type of interaction. I definitely recommend anyone in a relationship (or who hopes to be one day) read this book. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.