Observer Maxi Dress

Observer Washi Maxi

Observer Washi Maxi

I’m so excited to be a part of the Observer fabric blog tour today! I’m showing off this lovely voile indigo-shibori print from my dear friend April Rhodes’ latest line of fabric for Art Gallery fabrics, Observer. After having a chance to try shibori dyeing in Palm Springs earlier this year, I was so excited when I saw this print in the lineup! This print really looks like it could have been hand-dyed.

Observer Washi Maxi

I felt that a print of this scale deserved a garment large enough to show it off, so a maxi dress was a natural choice. Jess had made a boatneck maxi version of the Washi Dress last summer that I absolutely loved (I haven’t blogged it yet, but I will!), and I really wanted to copy that design with this fabric, so we used the same pattern adjustments for mine.

Observer Maxi Dress

I realize it is a bit crazy to call this a Washi Dress, since it bears so little resemblance to its Mother-Garment, but the Washi dress pattern pieces were indeed the starting point. I’ll share tips on how to modify the Washi Dress bodice so you can make your own boatneck version when I post Jess’ dress. Stay tuned!

Observer Washi Maxi

The bodice of the dress is lined, and since any voile with a light background is fairly sheer, I do wear this with a slip (note to anyone else dreaming up garments with this lovely print!). Another option would be to line the skirt, but that creates more bulk, so I opted for just the bodice lining.

I’ve always loved Art Gallery’s fabrics, and this voile is so lovely and silky and light that wearing it is a dream. This fabric would also be absolutely perfect for pillows or breezy curtains or a gathered skirt. I would die to have a sheet set out of this print!!

Observer Washi Maxi

One other little thing to add: since there is some symmetry in this print, strong angular lines, and alternating light and dark areas (love!!), I personally prefer not to center the axis of the print directly over the central axis of the body; in other words, placing the print off-center seems like a good idea so that certain areas don’t get accentuated accidentally…ahem. This can be an issue when you’re trying to wear any large-scale print, so keep that in mind! You’re welcome.

Washi Boatneck hack

The entire Observer collection from April is absolutely brilliant, and includes a handful of knit fabrics as well as a great selection of quilting cottons. April also sent over one of the knit prints from the collection to, so if you come back this afternoon for my Observer Bonus Round you can see the dress I made out of that one too! PS. I was feeling a bit like an overachiever, and almost didn’t post both, but then yesterday Christine posted two outfits for her stop on the tour, so that just goes to show that I’m not. Or we both are. Probably the latter.

Truly, though, one of the things I love about April’s designs is how clearly you can see April’s aesthetic shine through them. She is a talented and passionate artist who pours her heart and soul into her art, and it’s so incredibly inspiring to see her clear point of view communicated in her beautiful collections. I’m so grateful to call her a friend. Thanks so much for inviting me on your Observer tour, April!

Observer-Fabric-Tour

You can find the whole list of stops on the Observer fabric tour here, or see what’s happening on Instagram. Noodlehead is the next stop on the tour on Monday, September 26. I can’t wait to see what Anna’s dreamt up for Observer!

Loominous Ruby and the sad tale of a jumpsuit gone awry

Loominous Ruby Top

You may remember that earlier this year I made a pair of Luna Pants from this very same fabric. One day by chance I folded those pants on top of a pair of dark skinny jeans and fell in love with the combination of the green with the denim and realized “I think I need a top from that fabric too.”

Loominous Ruby Top

Considering how ridiculously comfortable the pants were, it was a no-brainer to buy more fabric (Loominous by Anna Maria Horner) to make a simple summer top. And considering Ruby is possibly the quickest and easiest of all of my women’s patterns to make, that was a no-brainer too.

Loominous Ruby Top

This top was part of my Spring/Summer Handmade Wardrobe planning sketch (I blogged about that here), so now I can cross that one off the to-sew list.

Loominous Ruby Top

At some point in the process — I don’t exactly remember when — it occurred to me that these two things (top, pants) could be combined to make a faux jumpsuit without the obvious disadvantages of a real jumpsuit (I am referring, of course, to the difficulties one might encounter trying to use the restroom, among other things). Once the thought was there, it was impossible not to act on it. Photographic evidence:

Loominous Faux Jumpsuit

I’m not sure why it never occurred to me that I would look like a giant green leprechaun. And the glasses and the shoes really did not help at ALL…geez. Perhaps with a different color (black?) things would have been different, but I think it is safe to say that I Will Not Be Caught Dead wearing this ensemble out of the house.

I thought you would get a kick out of the photo, though.

Shorts with pom poms

shorts with pompoms / made by rae

Started these last year as part of a larger Pants-Shorts Experiment (an experiment that included two pairs of shorts, a fitted cropped ankle pant, and a pair of flared corduroy pants, none of which ever got photographed or blogged, but also, I might add, eventually produced the Luna Pants pattern, so it wasn’t entirely in vain). I was torn about whether or not to add the pom poms. On the one hand I had seen a handful of very cute shorts featuring pom pom trim on Pinterest and I am a huge fan of poms for any occasion so count me in. BUT. When your thighs don’t have extra space between them (I think it goes without saying that mine don’t), the idea of a row of pom poms betwixt one’s legs becomes a more interesting concept. My sister Elli suggested there might be chafing. I decided to go for it. I finished these in time to bring them to Palm Springs, but the weather just wasn’t warm enough that weekend to wear them, so beyond trying them on, I really haven’t had a chance to take them for a spin. I’m waiting for warmer weather. Will report back. Does this seem like a bad idea to you?

PS. Fabric = Field Study voile by Anna Maria Horner

New knit maxi dress

Hey look I made a new maxi dress! This is technically my first “make” for 2016.
knit maxi dress

This dress is great but the thing that really makes you go WOW is the fabric, which I found at a Field’s (a local fabric chain) in West Michigan. It’s a cotton baby rib that has been dyed, and it wasn’t super great fabric because it was full of little holes which I had to try and (sometimes unsuccessfully) cut around in order to cut out this dress, but I still love it anyway. The pattern is something I made up (I made a similar one before, but that pattern needed so much tweaking I started over this time). It could be a candidate for an upcoming Presto pattern, we’ll see. I have so many ideas it’s hard to decide what should really happen and what should not. I’ve worn this with a sweater and leggings and boots, but it was perfect in Palm Springs a couple weekends ago, too.

knit maxi dress 1

knit maxi dress 2

These pics are not up to my usual standards but at least you can get a general idea of how it fits. The first pic is cracking me up. Caption should be: “why oh why is it still February?” Seriously, when will I have natural light so I can take better photos again? I used a filter because the color of the dress comes through a little truer than it did originally in the photos; in real life it is a dark salmon pink, almost a clay color, if that makes sense. The dyed areas are a deep navy blue. It’s really beautiful in person. Looked good with my gold toes in Palm Springs too.

knit maxi dress : sandals

Aztec Drapey Cardi

aztec cardi

Wendy Ward is a UK pattern designer who caught my attention earlier this year on Instagram. Wendy designs sewing patterns and sells them in her shop, MIY Collection, in both digital and print formats, has a great blog, and has written The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking. She also owns MIY workshop where she teaches garment sewing classes and workshops that look really amazing. The MIY pattern that first caught my eye was her Drapey Cardigan; it has all of the elements of a comfortable draped cardigan with enough finishing that it doesn’t end up looking sloppy. When Wendy first reached out to sponsor this blog, I decided this would be a great way to feature her pattern shop so I ordered it immediately (I also ordered her book but haven’t had a chance to try anything yet). At roughly the same time, Allie of Indiesew released a fall fabric collection that included this awesome aztec-inspired knit and I was lucky enough to purchase 3 yards of it before it sold out in like 5 minutes. So I’m exaggerating, but it did sell out wicked fast.

aztec cardi

The knit did end up being much heavier than I anticipated, so the result is less a “drapey” cardi, and more almost of a structured jacket. But I still love it. It’s incredibly flattering in the back and I love the waterfall effect and fold-over collar in the front. The construction is clever — you use double-folded bands to finish almost all of the edges, which makes sewing much easier — and I love how finished it looks from both outside and inside.  This was the first time I had ever used the triple step zig-zag stitch on my machine and it worked great.

aztec cardi

aztec cardi

The only thing I didn’t totally love about the finished result was the sleeves. In this fabric I think the sleeve would be nicer if it were shorter, or even 3/4 length. The sleeve pattern pieces are incredibly long (and I have crazy long monkey arms), but I think if it had been sewn up in a lighter/drapier fabric, they would work nicely because they’d scrunch up more and contribute to the overall drapey effect. I also ended up lowering the sleeve cap because, again, the fabric was too stiff and pointed out at the shoulders. Again, an issue that using a normal weight knit would probably solve, but it still looks fantastic in this heavier knit.

aztec cardi

I really want to try this pattern again (and again and again) in a lighter weight knit; I can see this being a closet staple in grey, black, navy, and a stripe. Ah, for more time in the day.

The Longley Drapey Cardigan is currently available in print format from the MIY Collection Shop. MIY is a sponsor of this blog, but the choice to purchase and post about this pattern was my own.

Holiday Skirt

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

I can’t believe that it took me this long to post this skirt to the blog. I actually sewed and wore this skirt for a completely different holiday this year (though I think it would be entirely appropriate for New Year’s Eve): Valentine’s Day. Which also happens to be my anniversary. There are pros and cons to having the Valentine’s Day anniversary, trust me. One of the pros is that I can sew myself a red skirt for my anniversary date night and I will match nearly everyone else at the restaurant. Or is that a con? I’m not sure.

The fabric is a lovely Bespoke double gauze from Cotton and Steel that I purchased from Fancy Tiger (a sponsor of this blog) earlier this year. Words can’t describe how awesome and bright this red is. The fabric actually seems to glow on its own, as if it had it’s own internal source of energy. Skirt fusion? I know that isn’t really possible.

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

After wearing the skirt out for one evening, however, I decided there was far too much fabric in the back. The elastic waistband was producing a poofy effect that I was not happy with. So I tore out an entire side seam in order to fix it, which included un-sewing a serged lining and inseam pockets, which was a total pain in the ass (one of the cons of designing a ridiculously complicated fold-over pleat skirt that is also lined), and the short version of the story is that it took me a long time to fix. If I’m honest, there’s still a safety pin holding the elastic in place on one side. Let’s move on. Now it’s fixed and isn’t that what matters.

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

The front waistband is folded over, box-pleated, and then stitched down for a flat-front effect. The lining inside hides the folded edges. Now I’m realizing I should have taken a picture of that because it was an architectural triumph. The back is just gathered with elastic, and also has a folded edge at the top; I think this is what is referred to as a “paper bag waist” though I’ve never understood why, and now, typing this, I’m not even sure if that’s even right.

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

I used the tiny bit of light the sun gave us this December to shoot these photos, so they’re super low-res and they feel a bit dark, just like this season feels to me. Which is why I treasure the bits of light that come here and there this time of year, when the days are short and cold: when the sun peeks out of the clouds for a moment, having my kids home (and playing nicely together for five minutes, even) for winter break, celebrating the birthday of Christ, and the hope of the New Year.

And of course, knowing that you, dear readers, care enough to stop by and read for a few minutes, buy a pattern to sew something beautiful for yourself or someone else, or leave a kind comment is a source of great light, and joy, and encouragement to me. Thank you for being here, and for your support. I cherish this space because of you.

Happy New Year!

 

And now for some PANTS!

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I’m not entirely sure, but I think this might be the very first pair of pants for myself that I’ve ever posted on my blog.

Update: Luna Pants Pattern is now available!   buy now

I’ve made my fair share of schleppy pajama pants and one year, back when I was a teacher, I spent a great deal of time making a pair of fancy pink trousers complete with pockets, a waistband, zipper flap, and belt loops — that is to say, I’m not a complete novice when it comes to pant sewing — but I don’t think any of those ever made it onto the blog. In truth, I have felt for so long that I was waiting for my body to return to a stable size that I didn’t feel it was really worth the time investment to sew pants, not knowing how long they would be worn. I’m really excited about these! They are similar to pajama pants in the sense that they are comfortable and were incredibly quick to make, but the pockets and fabric choice especially makes them appropriate for out-of-the-house-wear. I also love them with Birkenstocks.

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I have ventured out of the house in these quite a few times now, and I have gotten SO many compliments on them. This surprised me at first, actually, because floral pants can be a bit, well…Crazypants. But I was reassured by the comments they got, and nothing is more rewarding when wearing one’s creations out and about than receiving unsolicited compliments on them, I do believe. The fabric is downright lovely, so that is half of it right there; this is one of Leah Duncan’s prints from her Meadow line for Art Gallery. Leah has since joined the roster of Cloud9 designers as of this fall (yay!!), and I’m very excited to see her new line with Cloud9. I’ve loved all of her fabric lines; her artwork is lovely and the colors she chooses are really spectacular, and this deep green floral print is one of my favorites.

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I do think this pattern may be a strong candidate for my next sewing pattern; I love that these are basically a ladies’ Moon Pant, just not quite as wide at the bottom, but also not as tapered and fitted through the calf as some of the pairs of elastic-cuffed pants I seem to be seeing around latelt. At first I wasn’t sure that the waist should be completely elasticized, so I might experiment with a flat-front waistband for these yet, but we’ll see. For now I’m just having fun making (and wearing!) my own pants. Above all I am about keeping it simple and not making them too fussy or tailored; that’s really what’s led me away from most of the other pant patterns I’ve seen on the market this past year (though, I said this before and I’ll say it again: I really would love to make a pair of Ginger Jeans at some point!!), so I’m focusing on that right now.

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So, what do you think? Would you wear these out of the house?? Or would these be utterly mortifying for you?

Bespoke Double Gauze Pearl Dress

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This lovely double gauze has been sitting on my shelf for months while ideas for what it would eventually become percolated through my brain. I purchased it in a double-gauze-buying-binge from Fancy Tiger (a fantastic shop that also sponsors my blog!) earlier this year. I loved this stripe print so much (see: this top and these pants) that I decided I wanted to try it in this red/peach/blue colorway. Last week I suddenly pounced on it and it was all cut-it-out one night and sew-the-placket the next afternoon and then there were a few days of sewing french seams that felt like forever and then the hemming and it was done. It’s so satisfying (and rare) when it all falls together in a few days and I can walk away with something that looks great and fits nicely. Having a good trusty pattern that you can jump in with that doesn’t require fitting is half the battle to be sure: this one is the Pearl Dress by Green Bee Patterns (also one of my blog sponsors!! look at me with the sponsor mentions today), again, I am really enjoying making these. I added the henley placket option this time and while I think it might be a bit tricky for the beginner, even with double gauze it really wasn’t too bad.

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Double gauze is just dreamy (and the Cotton and Steel double gauze seems to be especially soft). I’ve said this so many times before, but wearing double gauze is like wearing pajamas. It might also even look like I’m wearing pajamas but I really couldn’t care it’s so comfortable. And personally I like the slightly rumpled look it gains as its worn; I was careful to steam this one before taking photos and not wear it around like I usually do. I got a comment recently from someone on a social media platform which will remain unnamed pointing out the wrinkles in my photos and asking if I ever press my garments when I sew them which of course I do, I press like a maniac while I’m sewing. I really don’t mind constructive critique when it’s kindly delivered, but this commenter also couldn’t resist mentioning that “many of us have been discussing the rumpled nature of your garments” which then made me feel like I was back in middle school and “they” were all over on the other side of the playground, talking smack about me. Believe it or not though, it was a good thing to hear, because the truth is that 100% cotton clothing does get wrinkly, and yes, I could stand to pay a little more attention to that in my photos, so it’s all good. I just need to photograph things before I start wearing them all over the place which will require some self control. Hey, upping my professional game a little bit can’t be a bad move.

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Let’s talk about the french seams (shown above). I realized right away that it would be necessary to do some major seam finishing on this thing because raw edges on double gauze fray something fierce. My go-to option is to use a serger to finish seams, because it’s fast, but somehow I got it into my head that french seams would be better (read my Super Seams post for a few other favorite seam finishes). Which they are, but I’m gonna be straight with you, with double gauze they were a total bitch to sew. French seams on set-in sleeves, for instance. French seams on inseam pockets. And the trimming of all those little tiny threads every time. I persevered and now I LOVE it, but there were moments, let me tell you. Thank goodness for Jane Eyre on Neflix.

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Anyway, I don’t want to scare anyone off double gauze — if you mind your seam finishes and cut carefully it’s actually quite wonderful to sew with, despite how the name might sound (am I right that the word “gauze” freaks people out?), and once sewn it is wonderfully forgiving, fit-wise, as well. IP information In fact, the loose weave creates a more generous fit so you could easily go down a size; my double gauze garments usually fit larger and looser than identically-cut garments in more stable fabrics (voile, lawn, for example). It’s also breathable for summer and layers well for fall, all in all I highly recommend sewing with double gauze (it’s one of my Five Favorite Fabrics, in fact). As you can see in the photo above, I’ll probably be wearing it with skinny jeans quite a bit this fall, and I can picture this with a big chunky sweater. Bring it, fall!!

By the way, you can find all kinds of double gauze fabrics at the following links from my fantastic sponsors: Jones and Vandermeer (a brand-new-to-me sponsor with all kinds of great apparel fabrics, welcome!!) /  Fancy Tiger  / Fabricworm / Fiddlehead Artisan Supply

and the Pearl Dress sewing pattern can be found at Green Bee Patterns, of course!

Corduroy Pearl Shift

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After making my first Pearl dress (blogged here), I immediately made this one. The Pearl Dress pattern is from Green Bee and this version was made with one of my favorite prints from my latest collection for Cloud9Small World. It’s lightweight organic corduroy, and this print is called “Oh my darlin.” I was inspired to design it by my own darling (and strong-willed) Clementine. The corduroy is light enough for a dress, thought its weight would also also be well-suited for skirts or light pants. Though I would definitely add knee pads if making pants for a child whose playtime consists of more than coloring and tea parties.

I had some trouble deciding between a shorter or longer sleeve, which resulted in the hybrid you see here. Initially I cut the sleeves 3/4 length (the pattern also includes full length sleeves), but after trying it on, I felt perhaps the whole package was a bit too much and cut off the sleeves to a short-sleeved length, ala Beatrix. I immediately regretted it — the proportions were all off — but by then the damage had already been done, so I folded the bottom portions of the trimmed sleeves in half and reattached them to create a sort of cuff. It was all a bit “let’s see how this goes wheeeee” but in the end it turned out fine.

The only other teeny tiny change I made here is that I pulled the extra ease on the sleeve into a gather at the top to create a bit of a puff sleeve. The sleeve is a set-in sleeve, hence it does include some extra ease for the shoulder. I think the little puff at the top seems to suit the print quite nicely.

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I’m always a big fan of pockets in a dress (who isn’t?) and I went for the zipper option again. I didn’t have an invisible zip — which would have been really great — but I think even a standard zip looks fine on this dress, and makes it easy to get in and out of without having to pull over. You can see all of the Pearl Dress pattern options over at the Green Bee website; the pattern is available in both print and digital formats.

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It’s almost time to say goodbye to my lovely turquoise (green? some people see green) extensions. They’re getting all tangled at the top where they’re attached to my hair so I’m going to have to have them taken out soon, probably next week when we get back from vacation. I’m trying to decide if I want a break from extensions, or if I should try a different color (last time I did pink), or even do something a little bit crazier this time. I haven’t decided yet. I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on these, and they always seem to match what I’m wearing (I often wear aqua and turquoise). What do you think?