Thursday, January 26, 2012

Valentine's Day Dreams

I've never been a Valentine's Day person in my entire life.  It's a fake holiday, people put way too much pressure on their significant others, and honestly, until last year I'd never had a Valentine.  I think one year, in fact, I celebrated with my dad and his friend by drinking too many margaritas at La Nopalera.  Another year I spent the night at Barnes and Noble, reading books with all the other nerdy singles.  This is my life, people.

I'm still not "into" it.  By that, I mean we won't be going out or getting each other gifts.  I'll make dinner and dessert, but I do that every night.  However, for some reason, this year I want to get excited about it.  I went to Target over the weekend and oohed and ahhed over their strawberry marshmallows and heart-shaped balloons.  (I bought heart-shaped Reese cups.  I'm not a monster.)  I bought Rifle Paper Co. valentines to hand out to my coworkers.  I picked up some heart-shaped cookie cutters and decided I'll decorate the cookies with sanding sugar.  I mean, I am into it on a whole different level this year.  Like, on a level that would make me a good kindergarten teacher.  Except for the whole dealing with kids part.

After seeing this picture on Flickr, I decided I want a Valentine's Day outfit.  Why do kids get everything?  Honestly, people.  I mean, chances are I won't even be at work on V-Day (I have a doctor's appointment scheduled) (side note: I hate saying V-Day but I'm tired of typing it out--it seems redundant), but I can still wear a pretty red dress, right?

I'd like to make the Darling Ranges dress finally--I've only been holding onto it since Thanksgiving--so I need something lightweight.  I do have a summertime version planned with some Lisette lawn my mom handed over to me, but A, this should be festive, and B, it should be able to handle tights.

Look!  I made a graphic!  It's rudimentary and pretty lame but I'm proud.
All the above fabrics were found within five minutes of browsing on  I've never shopped there before, but Colette Patterns has mentioned it a few times, and I like the organization.  The problem is, they definitely aren't cheap.  No bargain-basement prices here!  But maybe it's time to get serious about sewing.

The buttons would look adorable with the dotted Swiss or the coral lawn pictured.  Otherwise, it'd be too much going on.  The buttons were found on Etsy at Patchwork Mill.  I love a good covered button, and may have to buy these just because they're so darned cute.

So what do you think?  Are you against Valentine's Day but for cookies?  Do you think the whole thing is dumb?  Are you a hopeless romantic?  I'm still deciding, but I love a new dress.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ideas on Rooibos

I did some pattern testing over the weekend, which allowed me some time to think about my next project.  This is both a good and a bad thing.  Following Sarai's advice in the Colette Sewing Handbook, I want to have a purposeful wardrobe--not just sewing to sew--but I also tend to be agonizingly over-analytical.  I will sit and worry that I chose the wrong fabric for months.  And if that happens, well, nothing ever gets done.

Last night I got a bee in my bonnet and thought I might start on the Colette Rooibos pattern.  I bought it last summer, intending to be part of the sewalong, and it never happened.  Big surprise.  Anyway, it's on my list of 2012 projects and I thought I might want to finally bite the bullet and just do it.  Last night's insomnia, and working from home today, have given me plenty of time to research the hell out of this dress.

Rooibos images from the Colette site

I have some wool gabardine I originally bought for a fall skirt, as well as some leftover Melody Miller viewfinders that seem to coordinate well.  The wool would be the shell; the viewfinders would be the facings.  I've never piped before, so I'm thinking now is not the time to take the plunge, but I'd need to line the skirt and I've never done that either.  Am I getting in over my head?  What do you think--take the plunge or hold off?

Eleanor is now napping on the fabric.  She couldn't wait.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Project 4: Simplicity 2154

Why didn't anyone call me out on the title of Tuesday's post?  I was getting ahead of myself--today I completed project four!

This is the first piece of clothing I've made for myself where I kinda regret cutting the fabric and using it.  I'm not  super happy with the fit--I need some Spanx under it, even though it's the size I always cut--and, I don't know...I'm just feeling very "meh" toward it.  Of course, I've eaten one piece of banana bread today, as well as a lot of espresso, so my blood sugar has bottomed out, as well as my mood.  That could be an underlying factor.

Front view

Pattern Description
Pattern contains pieces for a knit cardigan, a pencil skirt, and this top--reprint of a vintage pattern

Pattern Sizing
Big 4 again--6-22 are available.  This is a 14/8.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?
Nope!  I made lots o'changes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, definitely, but I made a lot of changes and skipped around, so I may not be the best judge.  BUT I had everything but the facings done within a matter of hours.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I loved the retro look.  I was originally tempted by the giant bow, which is odd that I decided to leave it off.  I also like the option of making a skirt later.

Front close-up
Fabric used
Quilting cotton I got from Whipstitch.  I'm not sure of the designer or collection, and I can't a selvedge anywhere.

Pattern changes or any design alterations you made
Let's see...the seams are 1/2" instead of 5/8".  I omitted the giant bow.  I also did a fabric loop closure in the back instead of thread.  

Would you sew it again?
Maybe the skirt.  I'm just not super keen on it!

It's cute, but it'll wait until I feel like pouring myself into Spanx.

Rhinestone button in the back
Maybe I'm just in a sour mood.  This weather sucks--it's freezing and dark already--and I have to cook again tonight, which makes six nights this week instead of my agreement to five.  Someone slap me and tell me to snap out of it.  Where's my mother when I need her?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Project 3: Simplicity 2215, View D, and Cake!

There's so much on my mind right now, both good and bad, and I want to turn a lot of it into blog posts but then I think, who would read that?  I sometimes wonder if I wouldn't benefit from a few girlfriends to just bounce ideas off of.  Nick doesn't care about pattern sizing or blogs; he doesn't notice if I paint my nails or if my hair dries weird.  I know one person shouldn't be everything to another, but that's where we are right now, and the boundaries are slowly disappearing.  (You don't even want to know what we talk about after work.)

So anyway, it was a long weekend, and I gotta say, not a terribly exciting one.  It was cold this weekend, so our hibernation plans were mostly achieved.  However, Saturday proved productive, once we actually got out of bed and out of the apartment: we managed to buy $130 worth of groceries (good lord) as well as some slightly-needed kitchen items.  When we got home and unpacked our food and fun things, I immediately thought of how nice it will be to someday have room for casserole dishes and espresso makers, for loaf pans and pitchers, and how we won't have to have these things spill over into the living room and onto the stove because there simply isn't space.  I hope that by this time next year I can stand next to Nick in our kitchen and not have to contort myself around him to get to the fridge or close a cabinet before I can open the oven.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Veggie Pot Pie

Yesterday felt like it didn't really happen.

Well, maybe that's not fair.  It certainly happened.  I guess what I mean to say is that I crammed so much into the twelve hours or so I was awake that I feel like it just got away from me.  We had to run errands, I had a dress to finish, I washed clothes, and then I made dinner.  These things sound so simple and yet they all were way more involved than they should have been.

Winter vegetables!  Not shown: the gross residue the squash left on my hands.
When I planned yesterday's meal, I was sure it'd be cold out and it'd be the feel-good meal of the month.  I found the recipe at Eat.Live.Run and ran it past Nick, who agreed to eat it, even though it contained butternut squash and sweet potatoes, two of his least favorite foods (though he hasn't eaten them since he was a kid.  Time for some schooling).  Homeboy was none too happy to see me cutting these up yesterday, realizing that this was his actual dinner and there would be no meat involved, just hearty vegetables and some puff pastry on top.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Project 2: Simplicity 2246

Not to make a terrible, awful pun, but I've been a sewing machine lately.  I have my goals for 2012, and now that other projects are leaking in (Wiksten patterns, a Megan Nielsen test, plus accessories), I'm starting to realize I may not have as much time to complete these as I originally thought.

Friday night we did our usual Panera and Target outing--don't be jealous of my jetset lifestyle--and I was bored as hell once we got home.  I tried reading a magazine but it didn't hold my attention, and I felt that I had finished the internet.  So I cut out a new dress.  Eleanor decided to help (by running and sliding across the pinned pieces) and I almost killed her, but that's pretty usual.

I bought Simplicity 2246, the Lisette Traveler dress, forever ago, and have been wanting to make it for a long time.  I had grand plans of making it in Cloud 9's Miscellany collection, as well as Sarah Jane's Children at Play, but ten buttons, plus fitting my bust and hips intimidated me and I stuffed it away.  I don't know if it's because I'm ultra-focused now or because I'm less afraid, but I thought, what's the worst that happens?  I make it and give it to someone who is smaller than me?  Big deal.  So I did it.

Damn, look at those white legs!  This will definitely be worn with leggings.
Pattern Description
Three different shirtdresses--classic with collar, rounded with Mandarin collar, and short-sleeved.  I went with View B, rounded with Mandarin collar.

Pattern Sizing
Big 4 again--6-22 are available.  This is a 14/8.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?
It did!  I didn't make the belt, because that's a bit matchy and I also am not a huge fan of belts, but besides that, yep!

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, very.  There was one part I didn't like--there's no mention of how the Mandarin collar fits into the front placket.  Mine is messed up but I'm hoping no one gets close enough to me to notice.  Everything else made perfect sense.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It's a classic shape that never goes out of style.  I didn't have any major problems with it, though my machine was tired after hours of sewing yesterday.

Nine buttons later, I can say that my machine makes beautiful buttonholes and I couldn't be happier with it.

Fabric used
Brown chambray from the Lisette Fall 2011 collection.  I love chambray!

Pattern changes or any design alterations you made
I omitted the belt, as I said.  I also made the side seams 1/2-inch instead of 5/8".

Would you sew it again?
Most definitely!  I'd love to sew view A in some prints.

I hope it isn't too cold next weekend so I can wear it!
French seams again
Thirty more!  (Oy...)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Project 1: Simplicity 2209

Alright y'all, the New Year's Resolutions are rolling in.

This afternoon I completed Simplicity 2209, the Lisette Passport dress, which I cut out in July.  Yeah, six months ago. Why?  Because I'm ridiculous.

I wish I was one of those bloggers who had a great scene in which to pose.  My dining room is the worst.
Pattern Description
The pattern includes pieces for a dress and a jacket both.  This is a sleeveless dress with bodice and skirt, front and back darts.

Pattern Sizing
It's a big 4--sizes 6-22 are available.  This is a size 14/8.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Sure!  My darts aren't as noticeable, but I blame that on my fabric pattern.

Were the instructions easy to follow? a point.  The zipper was insanely confusing.  It's a lapped zipper and it's the last step, before hemming.  The illustration was not helpful, and there were no details on whether this should be done right sides together or what.  That step could use some help!

Lapped zipper

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like that it's a Liesl & Co., and I like the basic design--this is something I could see myself wearing because it's not super trendy.  I also liked the unique darts on the front of the bodice.

Fabric Used
Laura Gunn Magnolia Branch, from the collection Magnolia Lane.  I bought it because I was yearning for the South last spring.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made
The bodice has 1/2-inch seam allowances instead of 5/8-inch.  I needed some breathing room there.

Darts on the front of bodice
Would you sew it again?
Probably not, just because I tend to not repeat patterns for myself.  I had originally wanted to make the jacket as well but I'm feeling less inclined to do that now, for some reason.

It's a nice dress!  I'm excited to wear it this spring and summer; the cotton will be super breathable and it'll look cute with a cardigan.

French seams in the dress!

And, finally...

Check out that mileage!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012: The Year of the Sewing Machine

When I went to Florida for Christmas, my mom handed down her twenty-year-old Singer machine.  You would not believe how excited I was (and still am).  I don't care that she bought it when my brother was born.  This thing is a work of industrial art.  It has an automatic buttonholer!  It embroiders!  There's a computer with five needle settings!  I sewed on it while I was at my parents' house, and as soon as I came home, I packed up my machine to make space for my new one.

Last year was a huge year for me in more ways than one.  Besides moving, and moving in with my boyfriend, I started to become my own person.  I took up new hobbies.  I can cook!  And sew my own clothes!  I had a lot of setbacks, too, but part of my outlook for this year is to not focus on those.  (The hissy fit I threw when we got home from Florida over a broken roaster is in the past.  That was last year, geez.)  One of my resolutions for this year is to finish up old projects and start on new ones--as you probably have seen, because I know you follow every moment on this blog, there's a new page at the top that tracks what I'd like to complete this year--because I hate leaving things unfinished.  This may be why I had so many twelve-to-fourteen-hour days last year.  I can't leave work knowing that I'll have a mess in the morning.  The same goes for projects.  I've had a handful of different patterns sitting around in Ziploc bags, getting more crumpled by the moment.  No more of that!

I'm actually a little proud of myself for taking on these new hobbies and activities last year, not to toot my own horn, because I tend to be more introverted (and lazy) than that.  As fearless as I've been in the past, I've become a big ol' baby lately, and I think anything that helps me overcome that (having to learn how to install zippers or whatever) is a good thing.  I'm still terrified of plenty of other things--driving to Baltimore, for instance, or taking the Metro at 1 AM--but every little bit helps.  Plus it's really fun and I love being able to say, yeah, I made that!
Images by Freepik