Friday, September 19, 2014

Finished: Lazy 30s Gown

I bought this fabric, this beautiful soft floral print that I normally don't gravitate towards, last spring (as in over a year ago), and I bought as much of it as I could.

I have been on the hunt for a 1930s ballgown pattern, similar to this McCall pattern, for over a year now. I decided this fabric would be perfect, and since no vintage patterns were falling into my lap (for a reasonable price), I decided to draft my own.

I draped it I imagined it in my head, but I decided that I also wanted to be able to slip the gown easily over my head. And I didn't want it TOO formal, even though it's modeled after a ballgown, because I wanted to be able to wear it out during the day.

I wanted it done by Labor Day, as a birthday present to myself, but then it was raining last Labor Day, and then it got cold, so I put the project away for the winter.

I pulled it out and slowly began working on it this spring and summer, and once again, it's become almost too cold to wear it out. BUT AT LEAST I FINISHED!

Also, since we're in that weird season that we've been in most of the summer, where it's cold at night, but kind of hot during the day, I can still wear it out during the day - perfect!

I attempted to do a mermaid tail, but I overestimated my height (aka I don't really measure most things until afterwards) so I had to cut off most of the tail, but it's still there! You can't really see it when the wind blows - if only I had a roaring fireplace to stand next to...

I knew I wanted an elasticated waist, but I was stumped for the top. Luckily I found an amazing tutorial from Mimi G, where I got a few ideas, like the shoulders, which I turned into a lazy version of sleeves. (And if you're a beginner, I highly recommend her tutorial for her maxi dress!)

Let me know if anyone wants a tutorial, and I'll put one up next week!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tutorial: Ruffled Maxi Skirt

This summer, while I didn't do much sewing, I did take a huge step out of my comfort zone and this skirt is the result.

Shannon, from Shanni Loves, was my spring sewing swap partner and she gave me this amazing floral fabric. While I do like pinks and reds and I have developed an appreciation of floral, I would typically never buy something like this. That said, I was utterly delighted when it arrived, and I knew instantly that I wanted it to be a maxi skirt.

Because I'm also trying out the whole "go BIG and BOLD" but still vintage look a la Ulyana Sergeenko, I was mightily inspired by some of her full skirt designs. I decided I didn't really need such a large ruffle (also I didn't have enough fabric) so I made a little tiny one that suits the skirt just fine, I think.

I started to get worried about it being a bit busy, especially since my style is normally very straightforward and simple. To make up for my uneasiness, I decided to add pockets. Every gathered skirt needs pockets.

Because I actually finished sewing this in July, Oonapalooza was happening and I decided to do something Oona inspired and really crazy (for me). The result was contrasting pockets! I think it's such a fun detail, but to be honest, they probably make me the most uncomfortable - ha!

And then, finally, I worried about the enclosure. I really didn't want to put a zipper in. And since I was doing pockets (and didn't want to rip open the already completed back), I was at a loss. After mulling it over for a week, it finally came to me that a button enclosure would work. Of course, once I put the button in, I found that it was a little loose, and a little loose meant that my contrasting pockets would show (eek!) so I put in a small snap in the corner. Problem solved.

(Is this a known technique? Because I felt like such a genius for thinking of it!)

And voila. I made the gray top earlier this year, and I'm madly in love with it.

So if you want to make your own maxi skirt, here's how I did it.

2+ yards of fabric
matching thread
sewing machine
sewing pins

Seam Allowance: 5/8"

1. Cut out your two main pieces. You're basically going to cut two large rectangle. The waist should be your waist measurement x 3.2. For example, I measured out 89.6 inches for the top and bottom. To find the length, measure from your waist to where you want the length to hit. For me, I stopped 2 inches before the ground.

2. Cut out 2 identical pieces for your waistband. Take your waist measurements and add 2 inches. You want some overlap for the button enclosure. The width is 3 inches. So, for example, the waistband I cut was 30 inches by 3 inches.

3. Finally, you should have just enough leftover for the ruffle at the bottom. My ruffle was 4 inches by 286 inches (89.6 inches from the size of the hem on the skirt times 3.2). I had to sew a few pieces together to make it that long!

4. Cut out pockets. I tend to draw a circle around my hand, and then cut that shape out. You'll need 4 of those.

5. Sew your two waistband pieces together on 3 edges (one long, two short). Press and turn.

6. Sew your pockets into your skirt. If you need a tutorial, I love this one by Sewaholic. Make sure that you do not sew up the second pocket all the way. One pocket needs to be able to open and close to get the skirt over your head. In case you're confused by what I mean, do not place the pocket an inch or two below the waist. It needs to be part of the waist, extending the measurements. (see photo in step 10)

7. Ruffle your waist and bottom ruffle! When you're ruffling your waist, make sure that you do NOT ruffle the second pocket. That's how you're going to in and out of your skirt. I used my serger, and there's are the settings I used to ruffle, though of course you can ruffle however you feel most comfortable.

8. Carefully attach your ruffled waist to your waistband by lining up one end of your waistband to the  back of the open pocket. Pin around the waist. You should have several inches leftover for the button enclosure. After sewing the waistband to the ruffled waist, carefully top stitch the rest of the waistband closed.

9. Attach the ruffle to the bottom. Hem your skirt.

10. Finish the edges of your exposed pocket. Place a button on your waistband and sew a buttonhole. Attach a snap if necessary.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tutorial: Hi-Low Ruffled Pencil Skirt

If you like my mermaid inspired skirt, then get excited because I made a little tutorial for you so you can make one as well!

While it seemed to suit me perfectly for my mermaid endeavors at the beach, it's a fun and comfortable skirt to wear out in general - best of all, it only took me a few hours on my serger!

If you don't have a serger, you can still make this with a regular sewing machine. I would recommend a zig-zag stitch for the seams and your choice for the gathers. (My usual method is here, but I think this new way looks fun to try!)

2-3 yards of stretchy jersey fabric - more if you're a larger size or want to line it
matching thread
serger or sewing machine (or needle and thread!)
sewing pins

1. Measure your waist and subtract 1.5 inches - it's jersey so you'll want negative ease. Cut out 2 long, rectangular pieces with this new measurement in length and 4.5" in width. (For example, someone with a 28" waist will cut out 2 rectangles that measures 26.5" x 4.5")

2. With right sides together, serge one of the long edges together. Turn and press. With RST, serge the two ends together with a half inch seam allowance to create the waist band.

3. Using the below picture as a guide, cut out your main pieces for the front and back sections of the skirt. The widest part of the skirt should be 1.5" less than your hip measurement. Using your waistband as a guide, grade the top of the skirt until it reaches your hip measurement - because jersey is stretchy, you don't need accurate measurements here. From the top to the side hem (not including the waistband), I have 16" and you can see the adjustments for the front and back piece. With the adjustments for the front piece, the center measures (not including the waistband) 14" in length. The center back (not including the waistband) measures 18" in length.

4. Sew the two sides together with a half inch seam allowance. Attach the waistband.

5. Measure around the bottom of your skirt to find the ruffle length and multiple that by 3.19. For example, if your bottom hem measures 48" all around, cut out strips for your ruffle at approximately 153" in length, with 4.5" in width. I like to ruffle on my serger - though if you prefer to gather by sewing machine you may. Gather until have the proper length of your ruffle.

6. Pin your ruffle into place and serge the ruffle onto the bottom of your skirt with a half inch seam allowance. You can finish the seams if you want, but jersey doesn't unravel so I left mine unfinished.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finished: Mermaid Inspired Skirt!

Once a year, every June, something magical happens in Coney Island...

Maybe not exactly magical, but a group of people have decided that mermaids and sea creatures and other mythological beings (which the streets in Coney Island are named after) should have their own themed parade and thus, the Mermaid Parade was born.
Via Instagram
I recommend googling the parade to check out some of the costumes because my pictures do NOT do these costumes justice, but only do so at home as it's legal to be topless in NYC and a lot of the women exercise that right. Also a lot of the men barely cover themselves as well. Either way, google at home.

So I wanted to dress up, but since I didn't want to go all out and/or buy new fabric, I was at a bit of a loss. In fact, I was a bit down in the dumps and even uttered that I might not dress up after all... 

That terrible idea was quickly thrown out but since I only had one free day to sew, I needed something quick and instead of it being mermaid, it needed to be mermaid inspired.

As I only had a day, I decided to forgo making a top and just wear my swimsuit. I had some icky brown jersey in the shape of a long rectangle that I decided I could work with for the bottom. I envisioned a mermaid skirt, but shorter. And high waisted since I'm terrified of cropped tops.

Anyway, after 3 hours on my serger, I think I ended up with something pretty fantastic! I cut two squares out of the rectangle and angled them a bit so they would fit my waist. I cut out two strips to create a waistband. I was worried about the ruffles, especially since I didn't want to switch to my sewing machine AND switch out the thread color. (Yes, I'm that lazy.)

Luckily I figured out how you can make ruffles on your serger and then suddenly it was done!

I was going to do my hair and make-up like I did in these photos, but my hair wouldn't cooperate in time for me to leave. I was then planning on doing my hair in the bathroom after brunch on the boardwalk, but the wind was killer that day so I just pulled it back.

I went with Naomi and she scored us these awesome seats so we were shaded the whole time and had the best view. (Hint: In case you can't spot us, try looking on top of the ticket booth.)

Via Tristan Lamour
I've never made anything this quickly before, and I'm generally pleased with how it came out. In fact, I'll have a tutorial up on it soon - so keep an eye out if you're interested in making one of your own!

My tutorial is now up - check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Updates: Spring Sewing Swap and more!

This is another update post. I know it's not as exciting as a new outfit I made, but look at all the fun stuff that's been happening!

First, I decided to participate in Kestrel Make's Spring Sewing Swap. I got paired up with Shannon from Shanni Loves and she sent me this amazing package. I love the fabric; I decided about ten minutes ago I should make it into a maxi skirt if I have enough. And I also adore the little earrings and lip gloss. (Because that's not thread on the left, that's LIP GLOSS!)

In proper sewing news, I am so excited to say that I've started sewing again. I have two finished objects waiting to be photographed, and since I drafted both of them myself, I'm going to put up instructions for you to make them too. I was thinking of making a pattern, but I'm not really sure I want to grade everything. I'll figure it out and I'm pumped to share new things with you guys!

In knitting news, remember the sweater that was too large even when I decreased for my waist?

I had to start it over 3 times before I finally got it so it fit me. I'm on the second sleeve now. Doesn't it look like something for a small child? I can get my hand through it so that's all that matters!

I was really awful at actively participating in Me Made May this year. I technically wore me-made outfits, like I usually do, but I couldn't be bothered to photograph anything. There are a lot of reasons for that, but they don't matter now. But look: I went to the beach and you can see both a me-made swimsuit and a me-made dress. I know you can't really see either, but this is the best photograph I've taken of myself and my clothing so far!

In other news, I'm slowly but surely working on my knitting website. I recently did a post on blocking and I put up a video tutorial on cabling. Fun stuff!

In non-crafting news, I'm leash training my cats. Grayson, pictured below, really loves it and complained very loudly this morning when I didn't have enough time this morning to let him bask in the sun on the fire escape.

Oh and I saw fireworks last night. (If you have time, stick around for the smiley face one) If you're in the states, happy fourth!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Knitting Updates!

It's time for a knitting update! And more general updates as well, I suppose.

So I started this sweater, Tempting Fate, last December. I knew it was knitted in a tube so I put in decreases, but they were not nearly enough! I had to start over in the smallest size AND add decreases and it generally fits now. I'm ready to start the sleeves, but for some reason I don't have DPNs in that size - or if I did I lost them.

Via Professor Fonz
In the meantime I was ready to begin another sweater, the Sherlock Lives cardigan, but I realized I was missing needles there too, argh. So I ordered a huge batch of needles and now I officially have every kind I can imagine... until I'm ready to start my next project, I'm sure. And then some will go missing or somehow get broken. Maybe a cat will chew on them.

But for now I think I'm ready and I'm excited to make start/finish both of those projects!

Speaking of knitting, I shared with you a few weeks ago that I was taping knitting lessons to put online. I launched basic lessons and I promised that I would have knitting videos soon. Due to quite a few personal crises in my life, videos have been slow in coming - but I have one almost finished (for the basketweave cozy) and I'm filming another this weekend for the XO cable cozy - I'll have free videos up soon on how to do a basic cable, cast off, and weaving in the ends.

I made a little trailer for my two videos so check them out if you're interested. These two cozies are what I usually teach in my private lessons around town so feel free to skip it if you're a regular knitter. :-) (Unless you want to collaborate or something- then by all means, drop me a line!)

If you want to follow along with me in the video and make one or both of the cozies I made, I'm running a promotion wherein if you sign up for my knitting newsletter, you can get one (your choice!) delivered to your inbox as soon as it's ready. I'm running the promotion until July 1 so sign up if you want! I have more details about the promotion and the videos here.

This isn't exactly knitting related, but NYC has a Mermaid Parade every year and I'm determined to go this year. Anyone in the area want to go? I think I want to sew a costume, and in typical fashion, I want it to be costume-y but still acceptable to wear every day. Any ideas? I want to be a mermaid, but maybe I should try something else, like an octopus! But a fancy octopus that goes into the office occasionally. ;-) Is anyone else going or have you gone before?

And finally, on a more personal note, I've mentioned that I've had a lot of problems happening in my life with those around me. I felt wildly confused and wasn't sure where to go for the longest time and doctors weren't super helpful. Luckily I finally confided in my parents and of course my parents have all of the answers. (Don't you hate when that happens?) While things aren't better, I feel like I have a much better grasp on the situation and I can finally see which way is up. While I'm not the one with the problem exactly, I've learned how much I've been affected by taking care of someone who is sick so I'm also working on that. The BEST news about all of this is that I've been rather discontent about parts of my life for awhile and I feel like I'm stripping away every layer and starting over. So far it's much more difficult than I ever thought it would be, but I know that it's worth it and I'm looking forward to the future. I know I thanked you guys last time, but I really do appreciate your comments, thoughts, and good vibes. It means so much to me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Inspiration: All in One Breakaway Dress

If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen my post that I was going to be ambitious and try to finish my dress last weekend. If you've followed my blog for any length of time at all, it will come as no surprise that it didn't happen.

I did make some progress on it though - I decided that the wonky panel on my skirt was too wonky and didn't hold the shape I was going for. I put in a different panel, a stained panel, because I decided that a grease stain was better than a wonky shape, amirite?

(Did I mention that last year I did a wonderful thing and pre-washed my fabric? I'm always punished for following the rules for some reason because there was a tube of chapstick in my laundromat that I didn't notice so a huge chunk of my fabric stash is stained. It's so sad. Also I'm too lazy to try freezing it, scraping it, etc.)

I also made a decision on how the top should look and I cut out the panels for that. I also figured out where I want the waistband to sit, and I decided I can get away with elastic instead of a zipper. I could probably get away without elastic even, but eh, might as well.

A personal note: the last few months my life has been completely turned upside down and not in a good way. I want to share what's happening, but I have no idea where to start, what any of it means, or how to move forward so I feel like a post at this point would just be a jumbled mess. But I would like to say a quick thank you to everyone who reads my blog and responds to me here or on social media and is just generally really supportive, even though I've been really terrible at responding and being supportive with you guys. It's means so much to me.


This is supposed to be an inspiration post so let's get to it, shall we?

My favorite blog in the world is Messy Nessy Chic. A woman after my own adventurous and curious heart, this woman posts amazing and interesting stories from around the world. Every so often she also posts fashion pictures, usually vintage (though I do adore some of her modern fashions around the world!).

These are some photos from the Life archives circa 1944, and it's featuring an all-in-one breakaway dress. I love the idea, though looking through some of the different "looks" I question whether it's an all-in-one outfit because I feel like it would get really bulky under there.

Start out with a gorgeous maxi dress, complete with a HOOD. I love it.


If you're feeling a little warm, show off your pencil skirt underneath. (Which seems to defeat the whole purpose to me... Pencil skirts can be so much more binding than maxi skirts so why suffer unless you know you have to change later? And if that's the case, why not just wear a pencil skirt - why give the appearance of being loose and comfortable?)


And if that's still too warm, just go in shorts. (Which is clearly a bit much. I love the coordinating wardrobe options, but this is clearly not an all-in-one because no one would wear all those clothes together, right? Right?! Or am I radically misunderstanding the concept of an all-in-one breakaway dress this morning?)


And of course you need a swimsuit with a cape. Why not?


I love the idea of a versatile wardrobe, getting to mix and match everything and using the same pieces for different options. I want to create a more mix and match wardrobe myself, I think it's called a capsule wardrobe, but I'm having problems focusing on what I want my look/style to be. It doesn't help that it changes all the time. When I started this blog, I was all about big, puffy 50s dresses and now I'm leaning towards more of a slimmer, 30s/40s silhouette so, eh, maybe I should continue to focus on one piece at a time.

What do you think of the all-in-one breakaway dress? Do you want or have something similar in your wardrobe?