Let’s Go to the (Blog) Hop + Fun at FIT!

Anybody else hear the phrase “blog hop” and get “At the Hop” stuck in their head all day? I mean, I ain’t MAD… it’s a catchy tune! I’ll wait a minute for you to finish dancing.

OK. I was nominated for the writing blog hop by two of my favey-faves, Amanda of Bimble & Pimble and Vicki of Vicki Kate Makes. If you haven’t checked out their blogs before, you definitely should!

Amanda is an Aussie with a heart of gold and an infectious enthusiasm for sewing and life. Everything she posts is a hoot to read and her photos are always hilarious. Plus, she has two dogs as well, so I don’t feel like the only crazy dog lady around!

Vicki lives in the UK and is one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever internet-met. She is so thoughtful and encouraging, and I would love to share a cup of tea with her and chat her ear off in real life. She’s got a passion for cute fit & flares and always picks a great print! Also, her son is, quite arguably, the cutest child on the face of the planet. I mean, THAT SMILE.

Let’s get down to business. The questions! Now, there were slightly different questions on Amanda’s and Vicki’s posts… I have no idea if these are two separate hops or what that’s about, but I’m being totally cheeky and combining them here!

1.) Why do you write/sew?

I got into film/TV, like most people in the field, because I’m an artsy-fartsy type. But the actual job is all organization, logistics, and problem-solving. I fell into sewing accidentally when a coworker invited me to take an intro sewing class with her and was immediately hooked. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed having a creative outlet! I love that sewing sits at the intersection of creativity and pragmatism- you get the fun process of turning an idea into a finished thing, but it’s also wearable and usable (unlike when I was really into painting and gave one to my parents… who hung it up in their laundry room).

As far as the writing part goes, I’ve always been a writer of some sort, from keeping ridiculous diaries and having an unreasonable number of pen pals as a kid (thanks to my parents who let me use tons of stamps to send letters all over the world!) to writing awkward screenplays in college and keeping a blog about books when I first moved to NYC. But I’ve really appreciated finding the sewing blog community because it’s so much more fun to connect with people over the shared love of craft! I’m an extreme extrovert and I love being part of an online community where I’m constantly finding new bloggers, new techniques, and new ideas. And it’s so cool to befriend people online and in real life that you otherwise wouldn’t cross paths with- it’s nice to interact with people from different walks of life!

2.) What is your writing/sewing process?

My sewing process generally begins with a list of projects to make that I write up every time the seasons change and then promptly ignore in favor of whatever suits my fancy! I’m a “fly by the seat of my pants” person and I tend to make whatever I’m in the mood for, although I’m trying to be a little more focused so that I’m spending my time wisely. In the past I’ve often gotten to the end of a season and realized that I didn’t make the garment I most wanted to wear, so I’m trying to remedy that and prioritize makes a bit more.

My writing process is pretty unorganized. I take blog photos and then sort of blast out a post without thinking through it too much. I’ve recently started a little notebook to keep notes in for each project because I often forget what changes I’ve made to a pattern, what size I cut, or what changes I’d like to make the next time. Hopefully this will help me remember things and write more detailed posts!

3.) How does it differ from others in its genre?

I don’t take things very seriously around here, which might be different from some blogs. Sewing is about experimentation and play for me, rather than a serious pursuit. I want to do a good job and use the right techniques, but I like to try new things and don’t mind looking a little goofy. Also, pugs! (See also: Where Heather Grows and Shanni Loves for more pug-spiration)

4.) How do you keep motivated to blog?

I feel like I’m checking in with my friends when I blog, but even when I’m not blogging with super frequency, I like to stay on top of my blogroll and see what everyone else is up to. Blogging has always felt like a dialogue to me, and since I’m super chatty, I always want to do it. The only thing that’s a mojo killer for me is feeling obligated to post. I receive a lot of requests to review books or pattern test, and I only say yes to a few things because I don’t want to feel like blogging is a heavy responsibility. The second I “have” to do something, my inner rebellious teen just doesn’t wanna do it and I don’t want to blog at all, so I try to keep obligations to a minimum. I feel like you would be able to tell if my heart’s not in it! Also, if there’s a garment that I don’t feel like blogging about, I just don’t do it! I try to review every new pattern I try, but I hate asking Man Friend to help me with photos of a basic garment or something I’ve made before, so I just skip ahead to the next thing to cut down on the number of photo shoots he has to do.

5.) What are you working on right now?

Ooh, I’m so excited to tell you! I’m starting in on a coat project! Right now I’m still not quite settled on the fabric or the pattern (I want to make six or seven coats, but I NEED to just make one), although I’ve gotten the options down to two fabrics and two patterns and I just need to make the final decision. I’ve just ordered a used copy of The Complete Book of Tailoring by Adele Margolis and am anxiously awaiting its delivery! Still trying to decide if I want to go crazy with interlining and tailoring… decisions, decisions!

Now, I had a hard time deciding who to choose to do this hop next, so I decided to cheat a little and pick the authors of the two blogs I’ve followed for the longest time and for the shortest! I haven’t emailed them, so don’t feel any pressure to do it, girls, but do check out their blogs, everyone! Gail at Today’s Agenda is one of the very first bloggers I followed that’s still active, and I’m anxiously following her October tailored blazer project! Chloe’s blog, Loops and Life, is brand new to me, but I love her style and kinda want to steal all her handmade clothes! If any of you readers want to answer these questions, consider yourselves nominated!

OK, I have a little business to attend to! Patricia from Laurence King Publishing asked me to announce an event that’s happening at FIT on Tuesday, November 4th. They’re bringing three of their authors to FIT to speak about their books. I’m really looking forward to Karolyn Kiisel’s draping demonstration- I’ve watched her on the DVD that accompanies Draping: The Complete Course, and she’s super entertaining! New Yorkers, come check it out! You don’t need an FIT ID to get into this event, luckily. :)

Speaking of FIT, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet on the blog, but I’m taking a ladies’ tailoring course this semester and it’s super fun! I’ll give you a full run-down when I’ve finished the class, but… I’m sort of scared even saying this out loud… I’m kind of getting into slower sewing processes. I KNOW. It’s very soothing for this fidgety gal to do repetitive hand sewing!

Alright, what’s shaking with you guys? What are you working on these days? What’s new?

Book Report: Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress (+ Giveaway!)

Hello, friends! Hope you’re all having a great week!

Today I have a book review to share with you! Chronicle Books sent me a copy of Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress. The book features 10 patterns to help you recreate iconic LBDs from the 1930s to the 2000s, and 10 variations on these patterns that are shown in colors or prints to help you imagine these dresses in another setting. I’m not really into historical or vintage sewing, but I thought some of you might like to see the book, so I agreed to check it out. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that the dresses, for the most part, aren’t too costume-y!

Coco Chanel-inspired

Coco variation

The author is Dolin Bliss O’Shea, a technical designer and patternmaker. To  be honest, I’m often leery of the patterns in books like this- they just don’t always seem to work- but knowing the author’s background and qualifications makes me much more comfortable.

Joan Crawford-inspired… I really like the waist inset. Pretty!

The designs are inspired by Coco Chanel, Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Mary Quant, Liza Minnelli, Anjelica Huston, Princess Diana, and Kate Moss… a few of the usual suspects, but a few that are a bit off the beaten path. It would have been nice to have some diversity in the lineup, though.

Ava Gardner-inspired

Ava variation

The sizing in the book runs from 33″-25″-36″ (XS) to 45″-37″-48″ (XL). The patterns are printed on lightweight paper, about the weight of newsprint, and they’re double-sided so they need to be traced. But they’re crazy messes to trace like Japanese sewing books or Burda magazines… I sometimes buy those, and never work up the energy to trace them!

Audrey Hepburn-inspired

Audrey variation

I’m a little bit mean, and I snickered a tad at the wigs the models wear to look more like their inspirations. I found them a tiny bit distracting, but I’m childish and silly. :)

Grace Kelly-inspired. I really, really like the lines of this, especially with the sheer fabric at the shoulders.

I bet that folks who like sewing dresses would enjoy this book. There’s a lot of bang for your buck, since the MSRP is 30USD and you get so many patterns. And they’re actually all really wearable. Also, the bodices and skirts for the Joan, Audrey, Ava, and Grace dresses are interchangeable for even more versatility. Sadly, I probably won’t do too much sewing from the book as I’m in a self-imposed dress ban at the moment. My closet is packed full of dresses, but I only have a few tops and they’re all pretty grungy, so I’m making it an effort to make tops instead of dresses for the foreseeable future! Turns out you CAN have too many dresses! :o

Mary Quant-inspired

Now, the good part! I have an extra copy to give away! If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, please enter your name and email into the survey below (it’s just gotten too crazy trying to figure out email addresses from comments… this way there’s no room for error!). I’ll close the giveaway on Wednesday, October 22nd at 9PM EST and choose a winner with a random number generator. Yay!

Liza Minnelli-inspired

Liza variation

Alright, guys, what is your ideal little black dress? Have you made one? Are there any historical dresses or outfits that you’d love to recreate?

Ginger Made: Undercover Hood + Hudson Pants!

Hi, friends! Hope everyone’s had a wonderful weekend! Question for you: those of you who blog, do you find it hard to blog basics? I often find that I start wearing them right away, and once I’ve worn something a few times it feels kind of silly to blog about it! I’m also not sure if people are interested in reading about basics- too boring, maybe? But I decided to finally share these garments as I wear them ALL the time and it just doesn’t seem polite to ignore them.

Let’s start with the pants! These are the True Bias Hudson Pants. Kelli is a blogger I’ve admired for a long time- her style is just so cool. I kinda want to break into her house and steal everything out of her closet (and her daughter’s… Kelli’s made her some awesome clothes!!!).

I tested this pattern when Kelli was developing it, but these pants were made with the final pattern (I made two pairs during the testing process, but the fabric I had in my stash was earmarked for my sister, so I sent them to her. Then I somehow lost or threw away the test pattern, so I printed out the new one when I made these up). I am one size smaller in the waist than in the hip for this pattern, so I went with the larger size since it’s fitted through the hips and the waist is elasticized.

There’s not much to say about constructing these puppies! They’re very straightforward and quick to sew, and the end result is really cute. I’ve also made the Papercut Patterns Anima pants (Kelli and Katie developed their patterns independently at right about the same time, coincidentally… great minds think alike!), and compared to those, the Hudsons are a much slimmer fit (here are my Animas for comparison). I used a thick, strange knit from Mood. It’s definitely something synthetic as it feels almost… squeaky?… against my skin, but the print is so cool that I couldn’t resist it! I really like how they look in this print!

The top is the Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood… minus the hood! Katie sent me the PDF as a thank-you for testing the Anima pants, and I was really happy to check it out. It’s got the option for a hood (obvs) as well as a kangaroo pocket, and there is a cropped version, too, but I decided to do a basic pullover this time around. I used a wool jersey from Mood, an end-of-bolt remnant I’d had in my stash for a really long time, so I was glad to use it up! I made this for our trip to Iceland in July and it was absolutely PERFECT! We spent most of our time outside in kinda crummy weather, and it kept me nice and warm layered over a buttondown and under a waterproof shell. It was nice because at the the end of the day, I could take off my jacket when we sat down to dinner and I actually looked pretty presentable and not rumply and gross. I wish I had taken some photos of it in Iceland, but I think I had my rain jacket on the whole time! You’ll have to hop over to Cashmerette if you want to see awesome handmades-frolicking-in-Iceland photos. :)

I’ve worn the grey sweater so much that I decided to make another! I’ve had this grey and white stripe in my stash for a while and was planning to make a Breton-style dress with it. But let’s be honest- I’d wear that dress every once in a while, but I’d wear a pullover constantly! So it became another hood-less Undercover Hood! (Lladybird made a dress with the same fabric… cute, right?)

Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood | Ginger Makes

Here’s where fabric is funny: the striped fabric is stretchier than the wool, so the sweatshirt felt way bigger. Strange, right? After sewing it up, I took off the cuffs and hem band, shortened them by 2″ and 1″ respectively, and it looked much better. It was just a bit too slouchy before! Sidenote: is there a way to perfectly match stripes on a raglan sleeve? I just. couldn’t. do. it. Ugh! Hopefully it’s not too noticeable.

Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood | Ginger Makes

Now, this fabric is a really nice weight, and I didn’t want the little bit I had leftover to wither away in my stash, so I did what I had to do: I sewed a pug sweater.

I know.

I’m sorry.

Milla Milla Dog Hoodie & Sweatshirt | Ginger Maes

Somebody isn’t happy about his new sweater.

Pretty sure I’ve now officially entered Crazy Dog Lady status. I didn’t want to fuss around with drafting a pattern, so I downloaded one from Milla Milla, a Japanese company that offers PDF dog sewing patterns. It’s Very Purple Person‘s fault! She made matching shirts for her son and her dog that turned out really cute, so I downloaded the same pattern. Pugs don’t fit well into regular ready-made dog clothing because their proportions are different. Hear me out! They have thick barrel chests and basically need dog FBAs (OK OK OK I know I’m crazy!)! But this pattern was drafted specifically for French bulldogs  and since they’re also squat, chesty dogs, I thought it would be perfect!

Milla Milla Dog Hoodie & Sweatshirt | Ginger Makes

This is the Hoodie & Sweatshirt pattern, and it was surprisingly complicated! Once I watched the video showing how to sew it up, it was a breeze, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how the pattern pieces went together before watching it. Fellow pug owners, if you’re looking for the right size, just select “FB” from the drop-down menu. There’s also a version drafted specifically for dachshunds… it even comes in two sizes! So Anne, Juli… you’re covered!

Now let’s play a little game of “Who Wore It Better?”! Feel free to cast your vote!

I have no idea how to wrap this post up so I’m just going to stop talking. What’s on your sewing table? Have you ever sewed for your dog or cat? Be honest!!!

Ginger Made: Little Pink Ninot Jacket

Hi, guys. Thank you so much for your kind comments about my grandma. No matter how much time we have with our loved ones, it’s never enough, but it’s nice to share happy memories about them. So thanks for listening and for your sweet words.

This might be a little weird, but when I heard the sad news, I sort of buried myself in this jacket project. It ended up being way more hand-labor-intensive than my sewing projects usually are, but that was really soothing. It was nice to have something absorbing, but not difficult, to keep me occupied.

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

But I’ll back up and start from the beginning. This is the Ninot Jacket pattern from Pauline Alice. I downloaded it a while ago, thinking it would be easy to fit long-distance (I sew up a muslin and mail it, then my mom or sister texts me photos and I try to identify any fit issues). The relaxed fit made it quick to adjust- I just did a 1/4″ broad shoulder adjustment and that was it (I’d planned to lengthen it, but my mom liked the shorter length and she wears higher-rise jeans than I do, so it works on her). I realized later that I’d used the size I cut for my sister, so if I’d used the proper size for my mom, I wouldn’t have needed any additional width.

muslin!

The pattern came together easily, except for a small problem with the sleeve. The upper and under sleeve pieces didn’t match along the seamlines (the undersleeve was shorter by about 7/8″), so I re-drew it and trued the seams. I alerted Pauline to the problem, so it may be fixed in newer versions, but it’s worth checking before you cut into your fabric. Otherwise, I liked the pattern. It’s a bit more bare bones than most indie patterns, though. For example, I would’ve liked lengthen/shorten lines, and for the pattern pieces to be labeled with which fabric should be used (self, lining, etc.), but it’s not the end of the world at all. It was easy to use and the end results are nice.

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

The fabric is a Marc Jacobs cotton/linen blend that I ordered online from Mood when it was one of their deal of the day fabrics (it’s still available here if you like it). I ordered it as a backup when I was making my runway-inspired two-piece set back in February, so I’m happy to get it out of my stash! The fabric is loosely woven, so I serged all the edges to keep them from ravelling, even though I knew they would be covered by the lining. This jacket better last a long time!

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

I used medium-weight woven weft interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, leftover from my Colette Anise jacket, and it gave just the right amount of stability to the jacket. Even though the fabric pressed well, the seam allowances were a bit thick, so I took my time and catch-stitched all the seams open so they would stay nice and flat. I wouldn’t ordinarily go nuts with something like that, but it was very meditative to do something repetitive and it was just what I needed. Similarly, I installed the lining by hand on my 12-hour car trip back to the Midwest, and while it took about 88,000 stitches, it was nice to have something to occupy my hands on the trip. The lining was a cream-colored acetate from my stash, purchased eons ago from Mood NYC. More stash-busting!

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

OK, finishing touches: I didn’t do everything the hard way- I took the coat to Jonathan Embroidery and had them do the buttonholes! Call me crazy, but for some reason I don’t really like the look of bound buttonholes, so I had keyhole buttonholes done instead. Since there were only three buttonholes, that only set me back $3- not bad! I used covered buttons (covered by my brother, heeheehee… gotta put ‘em to work!) for a cute and classic look. The buttons and the welt pockets are basically invisible in this busy print, but they’re there, I promise.

I think this looks pretty cute on my mom. She has a fun personality and doesn’t take her wardrobe too seriously, so I knew she would enjoy a pink print. She’s a very casual dresser, but she likes styles that are classic or slightly vintage, so I thought this cropped swing jacket would be just the thing for her. Plus it was nice to be able to give her something happy at a sad time. I think she likes it, don’t you?

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket | Ginger Makes

I did nothing to prompt this move. Modeling just runs in the family!

OK, what about you? Do you enjoy hand stitching, or are you a speedy machinist? What’s on your sewing table these days?

Goodbye, Grandma

A favorite picture of my grandparents, taken a few years ago at my sister’s wedding.

I’ve been away for a few weeks, and last night as I wrote my post for the Mood Sewing Network, it felt very strange to write about sewing again without acknowledging the reason for my absence. I lost my beloved grandmother about a week and a half ago, and while I generally keep personal stuff off this blog, I just feel like she was too much a part of my life to let her passing go without comment. I just want to share some photos and a few things about her to honor her memory, if that’s OK, before diving back into my regular posts.

Pretty sure it’s Grandma’s fault that all her kids and grandkids are crazy animal lovers!

My parents were very young when I was born, so my grandma was really involved in my childhood, more than most grandparents. I was even lucky enough to spend part of my childhood living next door to her. She was unbelievably energetic, hardworking, and selfless. If something needed to be done, or if she thought it needed to be done, she just did it, regardless of how difficult or unpleasant the task was (don’t get me started on the time Man Friend and I stopped to visit her and found her, well into her 80s, at the top of a rickety ladder cleaning out her gutters!!). She took care of huge gardens and canned and froze tons of vegetables and fruits for the extended family to enjoy (I don’t think I ate a store-bought vegetable until I started eating school lunches!). She drove us all around town, she babysat all the time, and she went to all our school concerts and sports games.

It was a family joke that my grandma never cooked- aside from her holiday jello salads, I don’t think she ever made me anything other than instant oatmeal or Kraft macaroni & cheese. But she and my grandpa were on a first-name basis with every diner waitress in town!

My grandma on the right with her sister, Marilyn.

My grandma had a hard life with lots of heartbreak and sorrow, but she was a very strong person and her response to tough situations was also to find a way to be of use to others. You could count on her for anything! She loved music and dancing, and found a lot of joy in those things.

Her wedding day, in 1946.

I’m going to miss her so very, very much, but I know that I’m lucky to have had such an amazing woman in my life for so many years. I’m so grateful for all that she’s done for me, and for her example of generous living. I’m grateful for all the great memories I have of her and I’ll never forget her.

I love you, Grandma!

Guts!: Trench Coat Edition

Hi, guys!  I’ve been sewing for a while now, and one of the things that I’m focusing on these days is upping the quality of my work- I want a nice, clean finish, I want my clothes to hold up over time, and I want to use appropriate techniques for each garment. Since coats have been on my mind lately, I thought it would be fun to look under the hood at some RTW trench coats and see if there’s anything we can learn from them! Wanna take a look?

This is a BB Dakota coat that I’ve had for several years. I bought it in my pre-sewing days from Fred Flare in Greenpoint (now closed). It was originally priced a bit over $100, I think, but I kept checking in at the store to see if it had gone on sale, and finally my patience paid off and I scooped it up for a song.

I’ve worn this countless times over the years, and anything that could fall off, snap, or come unstitched has- the buttons fell off one by one, the pockets ripped, the chain loop for hanging ripped off, the belt prong broke… One of the first things I did with my borrowed sewing machine was re-stitch the torn pockets. I was so pleased when I figured out I could fix them! Since then I think I’ve replaced every single button. This has been a high-maintenance coat, but I love it, so it’s been worth it to extend its life with a little TLC.

The faux fur collar attached to the underside of the regular collar with buttons. There’s a little flap on the bottom of the detachable collar that the coat slides into and you can just button it in place. When the fur collar is removed, you can’t tell that anything’s missing!

The coat is faced with self-fabric (70% cotton, 30% nylon) and is lined with a matching polyester.

The lining’s been bagged- here’s the sleeve seam that was left open for turning right-side out. It’s just been machine sewn, and it’s not super tidy. Do you feel better about your own sewing when you see something messy in a RTW garment? :)

There’s a zipper in the sleeve that, when opened, creates more room for the wrist. So the lining has a sort of jump on the inside to accommodate this.

The lining uses the same pattern pieces as the shell in the back- there’s no pleat or ease in the lining. The back vent is lined, a trick I struggle to wrap my head around.

Vent, vent, vent… you confuse me. Anyway. So, although this coat was on the expensive side for my budget in those days, it seems like a good example of pretty low-cost construction methods.

Sample #2! This is a brand-new coat, the Everlane Swing Trench. I rarely buy RTW these days, but I like Everlane’s business model (they develop close relationships with their factories to insure that the workers are treated ethically and the garments are constructed well, and they only sell online so they can keep their prices down) and I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so I decided to just go for it. The shell is 100% cotton with a very tight weave and a water-resistant coating. It retails at $138. Here’s a little more info about the factory where this coat is produced, if that sort of thing interests you as much as it does me. (PS- Everlane has an affiliate program where you can refer your friends for store credit, but the links above are not affiliate links).

There’s a front stormflap, and I guess you would call this one in the back, too? It’s connected at the collar seam, so you can reach your hand up between the layers all the way up to the shoulders.

Only the sleeves are lined (with 100% polyester). It’s faced with self-fabric, and all the buttons have a buddy button on the wrong side. Both jackets have keyhole buttonholes, which look nice. I can’t do them on my sewing machine, but maybe I’ll take my next jacket project to Jonathan Embroidery and let them make keyhole buttonholes for me. :)

This detail is actually really cool- the pockets look like regular welt pockets from the front, but the pocket bags are French seamed. The stitch lines you can see here are reinforcing the welt. Anybody ever seen this construction in a pattern? I’m the worst at visualizing how things go together to form the finished product, so I have no idea what the construction order would be for this!

The facings, as well as the side seams, are serged, turned, and stitched.

The overall effect is really clean and tidy, which surprises me in a jacket that’s not fully-lined. I usually hear “unlined” or “partially-lined” and shudder a bit, but I really like this construction and would definitely replicate it if I ever had the need for another lightweight jacket.

Here, the hem is pressed up and stitched, and then the front facing is pressed under and stitched down on top of it.

I can’t speak to how well-constructed this jacket is since I’ve only just gotten it, but it seems like a higher quality than the BB Dakota coat. Hopefully I won’t start immediately shedding buttons! I do wonder if there are any different construction tricks in a really high-end trench. I’d really like to snoop a fancy trench and a vintage one! Anybody have, say, a Burberry trench? Or one from the ’60’s or ’70’s? Is there anything different in the way they’re constructed? I’m also interested to know if anyone has sewn their own trench coat! If you have, what pattern did you use, and how does the finished garment differ from these RTW examples?

Hope you guys didn’t mind my geek-out! I can’t stop myself from peering inside garments these days… it’s so tantalizing to sneak a peek at what’s going on inside them! Anybody else have this problem?

Ginger Made: Alder Shirtdress, v. 3!

Oh my… I think at this point we can classify my love for the Alder Shirtdress pattern as an addiction. I tried to move on to fall sewing, but I just couldn’t help myself and decided to try out view B before summer was over! Just one more summer dress can’t hurt, right?

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

The fabric you’re seeing here is a rayon blend, perhaps even rayon/linen. It’s lightweight, breathable, and has a very fluid drape. It works really well for this! The drape keeps the gathers looking good, but it wasn’t slippery or annoying to sew with.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

The fabric came from Fabrics for Less in the Garment District. It’s a small storefront that’s jam-packed with fabric bolts, so it takes some careful navigation, but I almost always find something fun in there for very little cash ($5/yd for this stuff!). It was an impulse purchase (palm trees!!! seagulls! sunsets!), and while I love the print, it’s not a good color scheme for me. I like how it looks up close, but it washes out farther away and I feel like I look even paler than usual. But- palm trees! Seagulls! Sunsets! It’s like I ripped the curtains out of a Miami hotel in 1987 and gave them the Scarlett O’Hara treatment! Who cares if I look like I’ve never actually seen a ray of sun, let alone a palm tree?!

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I didn’t make any fit alterations to this version, although, if I’m being honest, I probably should have lengthened it a bit. It’s definitely riding the line between “acceptably short” and “are you leaving the house in that???” Even just another inch might be enough. Since I’d made this pattern twice before, it sewed up quickly… EXCEPT for the fact that I didn’t really look at the instructions and totally forgot that you need to trim back the right front bodice (the side that you stitch the button band onto), and I didn’t notice that it was way longer than the left side until I’d already topstitched the button band down, noooooooo! I find that I often make silly mistakes when I’m making something I’ve made before, but it all worked out in the end.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I’m surprised how much I like this version. I wasn’t initially attracted to the gathered skirt- sometimes looser dresses with gathered waists are just too ’90’s for me- but I like that it gives me volume through the hips without adding to my waist at the front. I am sort of a reverse pear, with a thicker middle and narrower hips, but this silhouette kind of fakes an hourglass shape. Another benefit of the gathered skirt is that I could sneak side-seam pockets into this version. What I don’t like- actually sewing gathers! I’m the worst at it… no matter how carefully I distribute and pin them, they always end up getting smashed into ugly little tucks… yuck!!! This fabric couldn’t really handle much seamripping, so I just left it, and it’s not a dealbreaker, but I definitely need to work on perfecting my gathering technique.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

OK, before we go, here are the winners of the Malu coat pattern giveaway! #176, #24, and #2… that’s Jules, Kirsten, and Sarah! Congratulations! I’ve sent you all emails. :)

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

Now, what are you sewing right now? Any exciting projects? What’s the pattern you’ve sewn the most times?

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