Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Project 7: Wiksten Tova

Again, a Wiksten design.  I cut them both out last week and figured why not sew them up in the same weekend?  Well, maybe my ambition is a bit too much on weekend late-nights, because I was so annoyed with this top Saturday night that it gave me really bad stress dreams.  I woke up Sunday morning traumatized but ready to take on this SOB and show it who's boss.

Wiksten Tova

Pattern Description
Wiksten Tova top, which is a tunic with an inset.  The pattern also contains pieces for a dress.

Pattern Sizing
XS - XL.  This is a large with modified seams.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Okay, so.  The instructions were apparently easy for everyone but me.  Seriously, I Googled the hell out of this pattern, thinking someone, somewhere, could help me, but all I could find was praise for how easy it was.  Not cool, guys.

The inset really screwed me up.  I couldn't tell from the picture what was being pinned and how it should be done, especially with the placket pinned together.  I gave up Saturday night (thankfully, never a stitch was sewn) and got back to it Sunday afternoon.  I finally went with unpinning the placket, pinning one side at a time to the front of the top, and then sewing the bottom of the placket last.  I don't think it made an impact, but good Jesus, it was painful.

Oh, and then I sewed all the side seams wrong (so it was a crazy, diagonal mess when I checked the basted size) so that was a great time.  Oh, and I think the sleeves are in backward.  Can you tell?  Please say no.

Props to Nick for the cellphone picture
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Again, the publicity--it calls to me.  I'm a sucker for popularity.  I also like that it's a simple top that looks good with jeans or shorts and can be thrown on.  I dislike how much stress I caused for myself.

Fabric used
Navy and white gingham from Denver Fabrics.  I think this is 1/4" gingham, but it might be 1/8".

Pattern changes or any design alterations you made
I didn't serge, first of all; all seams are zig-zagged except the side seams, which are French.  Also, the side seams are 5/8"--I need the shaping.  I probably could've even gone to 3/4" but I didn't want to go too crazy.

Man, way to clean up the apartment, Emily.

Would you sew it again?
So here's where I'm torn.  I really do like it, and I like that everyone is making them so I have a steady stream of inspiration to flip through.  But I'm going to need to wear this a few times before I decide to make another.  

I love gingham.

The next project on my table is the Oliver + S Class Picnic blouse and shorts, which I cut out last week.  I also have three Simplicity 2215s in Lotta Jansdotter staring at me, as well as some Nani Iro begging me to buy it for a skirt.  Phew.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Project 6: The Wiksten Tank

These Wiksten patterns have been blowing up on blogs--I hadn't seen a Tova until right around Christmas, and suddenly, there were so many variations in my Google Reader that I was practically forced to order these patterns and make my own.  The problem with me is that I'm impatient and I enjoy instant gratification--if I can't click a PayPal button and get this ball rolling, I have a hissy and an anxiety attack.  I get this from my dad, except on a much less expensive scale.

Anyway, I got these patterns in January and was waiting to grab some tracing paper.  I didn't dare cut up the hand-drawn pattern--yikes!  I traced last Tuesday, cut out Wednesday, and finally started sewing Saturday night.  It felt good to get back in the swing of things.

I can't wait until I live somewhere with non-white walls.

Pattern Description
The Wiksten tank.  The pattern has pieces for both a tank and a dress.

Pattern Sizing
XS - XL.  This is a large with modified seams.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?
Yes, I think so!

Pocket, with marking tools to demonstrate its storing ability.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, very.  Only beginner skills are needed for this pattern, and I think I could've easily completed it last year when I first started sewing.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Obviously, all the press!  I liked the simplicity too--I can throw this on with shorts in the summer.  The versatility is also appealing, in that I can make it with different fabrics for different seasons and never feel like it's too much or overdone.  I also really liked the back length, and I think it'll look cute (again) with shorts.

Yep, that's a 12-pack of Cottonelle behind me.

Fabric used
Cloud9 Fabrics Nature Walk Moss in Ocean.  I bought this last spring and it's been sitting at the bottom of my stash ever since.

Pattern changes or any design alterations you made
I took in the side seams another 1/8" on each side.  For busty girls, 1/4" is sometimes all you need for some shape!  I also did two rows of stitching on the pocket.  One didn't feel sturdy enough.

Booty and doughy arms
Would you sew it again?
Yes, it's actually a great stashbuster!  I think I may use commercial bias binding in the future, because it just looks neater and it takes less fabric--I could probably squeeze this out of 1.5 yards or so if I didn't have to cut bias binding.

Okay, I get it--I'm a tank convert now.

My biggest problem, it seems, is that I make all these things and never wear them.  Then again, I'm at the breaking point with my closet, where it's bursting and I have all these things I never wear.  I think this is the worst part about living in a place with seasons (besides icky winter)--I have double the wardrobe due to temperature fluctuations.  How do I deal?  And please don't tell me to throw more away: I have four shopping bags of donations awaiting a trip to Goodwill!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some Film Photos

Yes, I still use film.  It is outdated, you're right, but I like the patience it instills: I have to trust myself that the picture came out, because I'm not going to see it for a while (almost a year, in some cases).  Plus, with expired film, you get a dreamy, vintage feel, which is something I can get behind.  Give me detail when it comes to tutorials or textbooks; otherwise, I want art.

Here are some pictures I recently got back from the developer.  All were taken with expired slide film in New York.  (I got back some from the South and from here in DC, but Blogger can only handle so much.)  Unfortunately, my slide scanner gives everything a slightly reddish tint, so in order to get it back to the original I had to retouch with my computer (using Mac Preview!  Hardly a photo finishing software).  Sorry--this is a picture-heavy post--just a heads up!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Two nights ago I traced three patterns, and last night I cut them out.  All of them.  They're sitting on my sewing table right now, as I'm at work.

I like to keep busy.  I don't like to be stagnant and I like to have things weighing on my mind--if I have an obligation to something, anything, I know I'm doing alright.  But I tend to worry that I have too many obligations, that one day, they're all going to fall off and tumble around me.  And what if I let someone down?  What if I let myself down?  I don't even like to feed Eleanor late; something much larger than a half-can of Friskies could fail and it would be my fault.

So I create projects.  I buy fabric, paint, embroidery floss.  I create lists and spreadsheets.  I blog (sometimes) and drop off film.  I promise gifts and volunteer for potlucks and assignments, knowing too well what I already have on my calendar.  Just stay busy.  Don't stop.  Don't sit.  Work.  Keep your head down.  Be quiet.

I wonder what it's like to be able to create your schedule, to have more than three hours a day not devoted to work or sleep (true story).  To have a garden, to have a dog, to see sunlight in the middle of the day on a Wednesday.  I wonder what it's like to go out to dinner or have friends over.  But I don't wonder for long: there is dinner to be made, a shirt to be sewn.  There are things to do, and I must do them.

I'm doing alright, don't worry about me.  In the small moments between projects, I have a few minutes to wonder, to think about what the future holds, and I make my plans.  I don't know if they'll hold true or if they'll change before the time comes, but for now, they keep me busy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New York City

I'm trying to come up with a way to start this post--how do you say something about New York that hasn't already been said?!--but because I'm all out of creativity, I'll say this: everything I know about New York City, I learned as a (very young, impressionable) teenager, watching Sex and the City as if it was my televised church.  Now that I'm older, I realize people, especially in today's mindset, don't really live like that.  Or, at least, the average person doesn't.  So on that level, New York was a letdown.

On every other level, though, it was fantastic.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Project 5: The Darling Ranges Dress

Remember back when I was making rudimentary InDesign collages of fabric choices and going on and on about Valentine's Day?  Well, as much of a nightmare as you may have thought that was, I followed my fabric dreams and made a Valentine's Day dress.  It added about 1000% extra stress to the weekend and I am still not convinced I don't look pregnant, but I did it!

Before I get into the pattern review, I want to say that I'm tired.  Really, really tired.  For the past month or so, I've been going on overdrive, working really long hours and weekends, cooking and baking out the wazoo, and just generally trying to hold it together.  My breaking point almost came last night, when it was 8:30 and I was still working and Nick was trying to unclog our tub drain.  I'm really looking forward to leaving this place for the weekend to eat good food and shop in New York.  I'm also already planning a trip to southern Virginia for Memorial Day.  Seriously, I need as many trips as I can get.

Anyway, onto the show...
The white wall is blinding
Pattern Description
Megan Nielsen's Darling Ranges dress.  From her website, it's a "button-front v-neck dress with elbow-length sleeves and gathered waistline."

Pattern Sizing
XS - XL.  This is a medium.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?
Generally, yes, but I made a few changes.

Is the leopard too much?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Oh my gosh, yes!  Megan is a great pattern writer--even if it looks confusing, it always turns out well.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
What first drew me to it was the modern styling--it's very casual but it's still a dress.  It didn't seem like something I'd find in the Big 4 (and I love that).  Plus, Megan is such a sweetheart, I'll buy anything of hers.

I agonized over these buttons for days.  And they're boring.  What gives?
Fabric used
Raspberry red dotted Swiss from Denver Fabrics.  It was like $4 a yard--get yourself some!

Pattern changes or any design alterations you made
I fully-lined the dress, resulting in an extra poufy gathered skirt.  I also omitted the back ties, because I was exhausted by the time I came to those.  The hemline is 1" instead of 2" because I prefer a work-appropriate length.

You can see the pouf here.  My hips aren't that big, I swear.

Would you sew it again?
Yes, but I wouldn't sew it with something that needs a lining.  I feel like the midsection is just too much the way I lined it.  I was expecting something a bit slimmer, but that's on me, not Megan.  I'd love to sew a summer version with the high hemline and no sleeves--something I can wear on the weekends.

It's really comfortable and I recommend it!  Also, buy yourself a belt--can you believe I don't have one?  I'm embarrassed for myself.
Valentine accessories: Marc Jacobs necklace (bought in Savannah for $10), J. Crew pin
I don't have any new sewing plans on the horizon; I'm looking forward to NYC instead, and I'm sure I'll come back with ideas and thoughts.  What are you working on?

Thursday, February 9, 2012


All sewing posts are brought to you by our sponsor, the Kitten Seamstress:

She's always watching.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Not a Photo Dump

I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  I love judging people by their Facebook pages and Instagram uploads, but I hate seeing blog posts where bloggers just slap a whole bunch of photos I've already seen elsewhere on a new post and call it a day.  Um, do you think I haven't been following your every move?  Of course I've already seen the adorable pictures of your baby--he's adorable, I live for them and hope to one day rival them with my own.  (My children will be so big-headed I will be happy if they fit in the frame.)  So I'm trying to not be a hypocrite, but I'm sorry if you have seen these before.  I'll tell a story with them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Side Project: The Banksia Top

Sometime last month, I volunteered to be a pattern tester for Megan Nielsen, she of the Darling Ranges dress.  The Banksia top (out now!) needed a few last testers, and I needed some inspiration.  I also love being first for things, and often have the patience of a newborn, so getting a new pattern before everyone else was pretty much ideal.

I made it for Kali, Jake's girlfriend.  I used a light blue dotted Swiss I originally bought for the Colette Chantilly dress when I first started sewing last year.  I decided it was time to destash and Kali always seems like a blue girl to me.  I know she likes pink and yellow most, but when I see her, I think of the beach, so I also think of blue.

The pattern is marked intermediate, but I think I'm an advanced beginner, and with a little patience, I got it done in about a day or so.  I sewed between grocery outings and sleep, when I didn't feel like doing much else.  I will say, if you decide to sew this pattern, do not be afraid of the placket.  I left it for the absolute last step because the directions terrified me.  I've never done a placket like this and I was confused and wish my mom lived here.  (I wish that anyway.)  But if you take your time and actually do it step by step, forgetting what you know about plackets, you'll do just fine.

Kali in her new Banksia top

Placket detail

In action

I will say that I feel bad the top is so large on Kali.  I've already offered to take it in the next time we see each other!  It is supposed to be blousy, but I feel like it fits her like the Violet blouse fits me: it's too square, not enough shape, and we're curvy girls.  We need some structure.  I'm sorry Kali!

Overall, I do like how it went together.  It was a quick cut, a quick sew, and it turned out well.  I'm a sucker for Peter Pan collars, so anything with that is an immediate addition to my collection.  I may make one for myself even.

(Sorry, Kali!  I promise you still rock it, even though it's too big!)

Images by Freepik