Ginger Made: Simplicity 1430 Blazer

Hi, dudes! Hope you’re all well!

I’m going to be honest: this project was a bit of a slog. After I finished my Ginger jeans, I’d planned to move on to more fun autumnal sewing, but I made the mistake of peeking at my UFO pile. I felt guilty and decided to finish up some projects before starting something new. I muslined this blazer back in April for an event I wanted to wear it to, then realized after cutting it out that were too many issues for me to make the deadline, so I bagged it and forgot about it. Do you ever do that? I’ve found that last-minute deadline sewing usually results in a UFO for me (read: the swimsuit that I cut out the night before I left for Iceland… yep, that’s still unfinished), so I’m trying to avoid it from here on out. It never ends well!

Simplicity 1430 | Ginger Makes

The pattern is the blazer from Simplicity 1430. I’m not surprised that it hasn’t popped up on many blogs (or even on Pattern Review!) – if you look at the pattern envelope, the details are obscured by the print the jacket is made up in, and they’ve filled in the line drawing with the same stupid print so you can’t tell what’s happening! Silly!

I cut out a size smaller than my measurements indicated since this style is so relaxed and made a quick muslin. I liked the overall fit, but the sleeves were really baggy, so blended from the size 10 at the underarm to the size 4 (the smallest size). Here’s where I got annoyed: the blazer is unlined (not a huge deal, but I don’t love drafting), and doesn’t include a back neck facing (um WHAT?!). The instructions want you to clip into the collar, turn the edge under between the clips, and turn under the neck edges of the front facings and topstitch all that down. I can’t for the life of me figure out what the benefit of this finish would be. It’s weird and ugly! When I figured out I would need to draft so many pieces, I jumped ship on the project and moved on.

Simplicity 1430 | Ginger Makes

Please ignore the dopey t-shirt… you get a lot of dumb free tees when you work on set!

Once I picked this back up, it wasn’t very hard to draft front and back lining pieces. I added a 2″ pleat at the center back for ease of movement, and a 1″ jump pleat at the hem edge. I’m always nervous about ripping my linings! I drafted a back neck facing and then sewed it all up like usual. Since I cut out all the shell pieces so long ago, I didn’t remember that the collar and undercollar are cut from the same pattern piece. If I sew this again, I would cut a two-piece undercollar on the bias, and I would shave off 1/8″ for turn of cloth. I didn’t think to do this and it annoys me, argh! I also didn’t consider the fact that there aren’t any pockets in this pattern until I was too far into the project to bother with them, but I wish I’d gone back and added them. They’re just nice to have in a blazer, and when I wear this, I keep reaching for imaginary pockets! One final weird thing is that the instructions tell you to understitch everything to the facing below the waist, but the jacket wants to roll open, so you end up with visible understitching. Strange.

Let’s move on to a happier topic: fabric! I almost certainly would’ve left this project for dead if it wasn’t for the special fabric. It’s silk noile, and it was a gift from Carolyn. We were at Mood together one day, and I was admiring a wool crepe in a similar color when she offered to send this to me. She included the matching lining (it’s so pretty, ack!!!) and it makes me smile and think of her when I see it. I’d never seen or worked with silk noile before. It has a slubby texture, almost like a raw silk, but it’s kind of spongy instead of slick or slippery. It’s really fun and super easy to sew. It has a relaxed hand, and really works well with this slouchy silhouette.

I really like the shape of this blazer, but I’m still kinda irritated by how much work had to go into it to make it wearable. But, I did get it in a $1 sale when I passed a Jo-Ann’s in my travels, so I invested much more time than money in it. I bought two copies so if I ran into a major sizing issue, I could just cut into the second one and I’d only be out a dollar. I didn’t need to do this, so I added the second one to a swap pile and Suzanne picked it up and made an AWESOME buffalo plaid blazer that I really wish I could have (it’s unblogged, I think, but you can see it on her Instagram, @sewyorkcity). So there’s great potential in the pattern, again, if you don’t mind doing a little work.

Simplicity 1430 | Ginger Makes

I’m not 100% certain how to style this, and it’s definitely not my favorite garment (it’s kind of plain, but not plain in a goes-with-everything way). But I’ve been wearing it and I’m just glad to get it out of the UFO bin! I’ve been guilty of some major sins in that department in the past, but I’ve just finished up some mending and repairs and now things are pretty manageable. Phew! Now I can start in on fun stuff!

Tell the truth: do you have a pile of unfinished garments haunting you? Or do you finish everything you start? Any tips for those of us that struggle to finish things?

Ginger Made: Honey Cardigan

Here’s something you don’t see very often around here: a knitted garment! It’s also something else that you don’t see here very often: a made-by-me garment that I hate!

Things went wrong with this sweater from the very beginning. You see, I made the rookie mistake of choosing a pattern because I thought the stitch pattern was really pretty without even considering the fact that this isn’t a style that I like to wear. I don’t like cardigans and I really don’t like fitted sweaters. But when I started knitting this nearly 2.5 years ago (!), I didn’t have as firm of a grasp on my personal style and couldn’t have articulated exactly what I like to wear. That may sound funny, but it’s only very recently that I’ve really felt like I dress the way I like to. I’ve always hated shopping, have lived in big cities since I was 18 where shopping is chaotic and unpleasant, and was always on a tight budget, so I sort of grabbed whatever was cheap and quick instead of thinking about what I feel good wearing. Silly, I know!

The pattern is the Honey Cardigan by Veera Valimaki (Ravelry link here). When I first began knitting, I was really attracted to Veera’s designs. They are lovely, modern designs that are fun to knit and always look so cool. My original plan was to make this in a great gold color, so I bought Quince & Co. Lark in “honey”. But when I swatched for the sweater, I didn’t like how the fabric looked when I knit to gauge, so I discarded that plan (the yarn eventually turned into my Bough hat and Guernsey wrap, so it didn’t go to waste, luckily). I had enough Cascade 220 in “charcoal” to make the sweater (according to Ravelry, I bought this yarn in 2010, yikes!), so I cast on in that, finished all but one sleeve, and then let it sit for two years.

After finishing my Ginger jeans, I started to feel guilty about my stack of unfinished projects, so I pulled out this sweater and decided to finish it. I didn’t like the way the first sleeve looked, so I unraveled it and started over, following the instructions for the sleeve from the Effortless cardigan (here’s my finished sweater). I’d felt that the sleeves were a little short when I made that sweater, so I lengthened them by 1″, but they still feel too short.

At the end of the day, I’m just not into this sweater. I love the way the cables pop out of the reverse stockinette, but otherwise I’m just not feeling it! I don’t like the way the i-cord edging looks, although I suspect I may have screwed it up as it rolls under on the center front edges and out on the hem edges (huh?). And I don’t like that it only buttons at the top. And I don’t like how tight it is at the upper chest. And I really, really don’t like that I had to use such huge buttons. The buttonholes are made by knitting unattached i-cord, and then reattaching, so it forms loops. Buttons that look proportional slip through the loops, even with a substantial yarn shank, so I dug these huge buttons out of my stash (pretty sure I cut them off my thoroughly-trashed peacoat after it bit the dust), and I think they look crafty and cheap. Yuck!

This isn’t a failure of the pattern or even of the (admittedly boring) yarn… I just totally failed to think this through before starting in on it. Luckily, I’ve gotten much better about understanding what I like when it comes to sewing, so I very, very rarely have finished garments that I don’t like. Hopefully I’ll get a little bit smarter about choosing the right knitting projects in the future! But at least I finished this and got it out of my UFO pile, and it will be finding a new home with my mom or sister soon!

Before I go, I need to announce the winner of the Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book giveaway! There were 258 responses, and the winner, chosen by Random.org, was Kristin Bard. Congrats, Kristin! I’m emailing you now. :)

Alright, guys, ‘fess up. What was the last thing you made that you don’t really like? Have you ever been silly enough to make something that’s not your style at all?

 

Book Report + Giveaway: Fabric For Fashion… The Swatch Book!!!!!

Friends, I’m a fabric addict. So it should come as no surprise to you that I’m in love with this book! It’s the brand-new second edition of Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book! I had my eye on the first edition, but it’s been out of print for some time, so I was really excited to receive this from Laurence King.

The book is packed with information about different types of fibers, and it’s all very clear and well-organized. The book is divided into sections about animal fibers, plant fibers, and man-made fibers, and is subdivided into smaller groups within each section. It’s easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for.

But the stars of the show are the swatches! There are 125 swatches, an almost shocking amount! I’m not sure I could’ve named 25 different types of fabric, let alone 125, before picking up this book! But I really appreciate that they sampled so many variations of fabric because it’s the variations on similar fabrics that are really hard to tell apart, right? It’s really easy to tell cotton twill from silk charmeuse when they’re both in front of you, but can you tell the difference between silk habotai and silk crepe de chine? Cotton satin and cotton sateen? Lawn and organdie? You can with the help of this book!

I really appreciate that the book gives good information on which fabrics are more ecologically sustainable (hemp, ramie, and jute are three examples… none of which are easy to find in my neck of the woods!) and which ones need lots of processing. I also really like that the qualities and best uses for different fabrics are listed (so you can decide whether to use silk, viscose, acetate, or polyester satin for your garment, depending on whether you need your garment to resist wrinkles, be very colorfast, wash well, or mold to the body).

The swatches are, for the most part, undyed (read: beige). I was hoping for a rainbow of colors and prints, but the authors were probably right- you want to notice the qualities of the fabric, not the colors and prints! But dudes, I still love the swatches. I’m a touchy-feely person and when it comes to fabric, even more so! You can read pages and pages about a fabric’s qualities, but nothing is quite so telling as touching a swatch!

I really, really like this book and wish that everyone could grab a copy. However. The big drawback is the cost- $95 USD retail price (although you can preorder it from Amazon for $63). Yikes! I understand why it costs so much – it can’t be cheap to produce and assemble – but still, it’s expensive. Better put it in your letter to Santa and cross your fingers that you’re on the nice list, not the naughty one! Or request it for your local library- it’s a great resource!

Good news: I can give away a copy to a US reader (I’m sorry, international friends… I’ve got another giveaway coming up that you’ll be able to enter)! Please use the Google form below to enter. I’ll draw a winner on Sunday, November 9th.

One last item of business- I forgot to announce it earlier, but the winner of the Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress giveaway is Sarah Moum! Yay!

What have you guys been up to lately? Picked up any good sewing books lately?

Ginger Made: Ebony + Nanette + Scout Tee = Happiness!

Hi, guys! Hope your week is off to a great start! Let me start off with a word of explanation: I really, really, really didn’t mean to buy a summery print so late in the year. But I stumbled across this Nanette Lepore linen/silk blend (!) online and immediately fell hard for it (good news- it’s still in stock!!!). [Sidebar: while I can’t afford to wear Nanette Lepore, I would love to- I’m such a huge fan of the Garment District, and so I really appreciate her commitment to bringing garment production back to New York. For more about this, check out Overdressed, if you haven’t already read it!] But, it’s October, so I tried to talk myself out of it. I left the browser window open for two days when I saw Mary‘s tweet that she had just ordered the same print and, well, that little nudge, plus some encouragement from Roisin, was all I needed to pull the trigger! Friends, I’m telling you, Twitter is a DANGEROUS place sometimes! So, my October Mood Sewing Network project looks a bit like an August project! Oops!

I’d planned to use this gorgeous fabric to make a really special dress (check out Kelli’s dress made with a different colorway of the same fabric!), but after I thought about it for a bit, I just couldn’t justify making a dress that would be stuffed in my closet until May. I’ve recently noticed a major hole in my wardrobe- cute tops for everyday wear! So I figured a top would allow me to wear this fun print with a greater degree of frequency.

Haha, this photo shoot was made difficult by the wind swirling around… things don’t usually look this tent-y!

Since the print is so large-scale, I knew that I needed something with a lot of surface area to show it off. I remembered Ebony’s hack of the Grainline Studio Scout Tee pattern, something I’d been meaning to try since I first saw her post. Ebony has the best style and everything she makes I immediately want… she’s just so cool (#girlcrush)! Now, Ebony used a knit, but I thought I could get away with using a woven since the original pattern is designed for wovens and the fabric is quite drapey.

Ebony details how much width and length she added to her pattern, but I didn’t want to do quite as much as she did (plus, I suspect she’s taller than me). So I dropped the front hem by 3″ and the back by 8″ (blending from 3″ at the side seam of the back piece to 8″ at the center back, giving it a nice curved hemline). I also lengthened the sleeves by 4″ (Jen at Grainline has a tutorial for how to do this if you need some pointers!). I slashed and spread the front and back pieces by 8″ each (the most I could do and still fit the pattern pieces on 44″ wide fabric). That’s plenty of extra volume- 32″ total added to the sweep of the hemline! Whoa!

The fabric was super easy to sew and didn’t fray as much as 100% linen, luckily. But it tends to relax and rumple just a bit when you wear it, which I really like. Since it wasn’t fray-crazy, I didn’t bother with fancy seam finishings and just serged the seams. Sometimes you just want to keep it simple! The neckline is finished with bias binding, and the curved hemline got the narrow hem treatment.

I know this isn’t the most flattering garment, but it makes a big splash and is really, really fun to wear. I just feel so happy when I put it on! And isn’t that the best thing about sewing your own clothes? You can wear whatever you like! And, you can channel inspiration from as many sources as you like (in my case, Ebony, Mary, Roisin, Jen, Kelli, and, of course, Nanette Lepore! And the finished garment even makes me think of Liza Jane, somehow) and turn it into a cool garment! I’m really looking forward to seeing what Mary makes with this fabric!

What are you making these days? What are your favorite top styles?

I saved you my derpiest photo as a treat. DERRRRRRRRRRRP.

 

Ginger Made: Ginger Jeans!!!!!

Guys. I made jeans.

This is a big deal.

Here’s the thing. I wear jeans every day. Like, every single day. I’m wearing them now. I wore them yesterday. Honestly, I have no idea when I last wore something else outside the house! But I have to admit that I’ve never, ever, EVER wanted to sew a pair! They’re right up there with bras for me- I know some of you sew these successfully and beautifully, but I just don’t have the precision, patience, or fitting skills to do it myself.  Then, way back in May, Man Friend and I visited Montreal for his birthday and snuck in a wee brunch with Heather Lou (sidenote: if you want to see an example of saintlike patience, it’s Man Friend calmly and pleasantly eating while Heather and I talked and talked and TALKED about sewing on HIS birthday weekend). This is what went down:

Heather: “Did I tell you I’m naming my next pattern after you?”

Me: [super touched by this gesture]

Heather: “It’s a skinny jean”

Me: [@#$%]

Confession: I had zero confidence in this project the entire way through. Jeans just seem so… impossible! Annoying! Un-fun to sew! I didn’t think I could get them to fit correctly or to be tough enough for everyday wear. I thought they would break my sewing machine. I figured there was about a 97% chance that I’d quit midway through in a puddle of tears and snot… not a pretty thought! Spoiler alert: sewing jeans is totally doable!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Without further ado, meet my Ginger jeans! These look pretty gosh darn good for a first pair of jeans, yeah?

Let’s talk construction! I made view A, with the lower waist and stovepipe legs, which closely mimics the style of my favorite Levi’s. Everything I needed to know was covered in the pattern instructions. I’ve never made pants before, and I’ve only sewn a front fly once (in my Moss mini), so this was all pretty new to me. But I just took it one step at a time and everything went together smoothly. There were one or two things that were confusing to me, but Heather addressed all of these concerns in the final pattern instructions.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Jeans

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it was WAY easier to sew these with two sewing machines. I think this is the first project I’ve done with contrast topstitching since getting my Juki, and it was a breeze to stitch the seams on my Janome, serge them, and then topstitch with the Juki. I’ve done contrasting topstitching before, but I had to keep switching thread spools and bobbins and it was annoying. If you only have one machine, this is the perfect excuse to set up a sewing date with a friend and pool resources! Or just carefully consider your construction order so you don’t have to swap thread as much. :) Speaking of topstitching, I bought a 1/8″ compensating foot for my Juki which made it a BREEZE (and it was only $6… the benefit of your machine taking industrial feet!). Previously, my attempts at even topstitching have been… sad. So if you have an edgestitch/topstitching/compensating foot, this is a great time to use it! Or take a good look at the feet you do have and see if there’s one that can help you get straighter lines than your regular presser foot (I’ve heard that blind hem feet can be good for lining up with your seam/edge). It’s worth it to practice before diving in, especially if you’re using thread in a contrasting color.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

My machines didn’t break, and actually both performed like champs! I used denim needles on both of them, and they happily sewed through everything. The only problem I had was attempting to do bar tacks- I could have easily gone through the layers with my Juki, but it doesn’t do a zigzag. When I tried it on my Janome, with topstitching thread in the bobbin, my machine was like, “You’re hilarious. I’m not doing that.” [ETA: I did my topstitching with regular thread in the bobbin… I just thought I needed topstitching thread in the bobbin to do bar tacks). I can’t adjust the presser foot pressure, which might have solved that problem. I settled for backstitching a few times on my Juki. Fine by me! Otherwise everything was easy- I didn’t even have trouble making a nice buttonhole with my basic Janome! Yay!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Next up, materials. I used denim from Mood that I bought a couple of years ago. I’m not certain what the stretch percentage is in the fabric, but I compared it to a pair of Levi’s that has 2% Lycra and it felt similar to me, so it’s in the right ballpark. I used regular navy thread for the seams and a spool of Mettler topstitching thread. It was my first time using that heavier thread, and it looks really cool! I’m glad that I tried it! I had jeans buttons and rivets in my stash from Taylor Tailor (I used them for my Moss mini and my Romy anorak). I felt pretty bad pounding on the rivets (using a hammer and the back of my cast iron skillet)… my poor neighbors were probably wondering what on earth that sound was! Unfortunately, I didn’t get the jeans button on securely enough, so it popped off right as I was heading out to take blog photos. I decided to scrap the photo op and just take the jeans to Star Snaps so they could set the button, something Puu recommended to me (she told me it’s Kenneth King’s favorite spot for snaps/rivets/etc!). It cost me all of 45 seconds and $2 and I had a snug, secure button! I used scraps of cotton shirting for the pocket bags… actually, every single thing I used for these jeans I already had! Stash-bustin’ win!!!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

OK, let’s talk fit! This is the thing I was most scared about. I’ve seen many sewists discuss pants fitting, and they bandy about all kinds of terrifying terms (ex: “crotch whiskers”. I WANT NO PART OF THIS.) So I dove in with more than a little trepidation. My waist and hip measurements match the size 4 measurements, so I was able to cut a straight size. When I basted everything together, I noticed that I was getting some gaping in the back (a frequent issue for me… I used to have to take my RTW jeans to the tailor’s to have them taken in back there, ugh). So I pinned out a dart in the back yoke and altered the pattern piece by slashing and overlapping 1/4″ to remove the excess I took out in the dart. Then I took out a 1/4″ tuck in the same spot on the waistband, twice (once for each side since you cut two back yokes and only one waistband). If anyone needs a visual for this, let me know and I’d be happy to show you what I did. I could probably have taken out a smidge more, but I didn’t want to risk things getting too tight after a big bowl of spaghetti!  After altering the pattern, I just recut the yoke and waistband pieces and my muslin became a wearable pair of jeans! OK, full disclosure: I had to cut the waistband THREE times… once for the original muslin, once after changing the fit, and one more time after I accidentally sewed the pieces together upside-down, completely ignoring the instructions and notches WHOOOOOPS).

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Oh, you know, just relaxin’ with my hands on my head awkwardly so you guys can see the top of my waistband…

On my next pair, I plan to use flat-felled seams for a cleaner finish. Since this was a muslin, I basted the seams to check the fit, then just serged the seams and topstitched them down. I may give myself a little more room just through the knee so the fit is just like my favorite pair of RTWs. And, here’s where I could use some advice- there’s something a little strange happening at the front crotch (I don’t think they’re crotch whiskers… at least, I really hope not) but I don’t know what’s causing it. Too much length? Any thoughts? Also, I didn’t realize until I was nearly done with my jeans that the topstitching thread was getting all gross and birds-nest-y on the underside when my machine needed to go over something thick like a belt loop. This problem was easily solved by folding up a piece of denim and placing it behind the belt loop so the presser foot wouldn’t have to go over it at an angle. I’ll be sure to use this every time on the next pair! You can also buy a “humpjumper” (STOP SNICKERING) just for this purpose for a couple of bucks, so that’s an option if you want something more professional. :)

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a jeans sewing convert! I’m so, so impressed by this pattern, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to sew these up! I really appreciate the way that Heather has taken garments that are scary (swimsuit, jeans) and made them approachable and even fun to sew. Thanks, Heather, for the fun pattern, and for letting me be your muse! So if you’re thinking about sewing a pair of jeans, but you feel skeptical or nervous, I really recommend you give the Ginger jeans a try! I was so pleasantly surprised by how easy this process was, so much so that I’ve already planning a second pair [whispers] in a novelty denim! You can buy the pattern here, if you’re interested!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Guys. What do you think? Do these look like real jeans? Would you sew your own jeans? Have you already? If so, how did it go? What’s the scariest thing you can imagine sewing?

Now, Heather, PLEASE don’t release a bra pattern because I really, really, REALLY don’t want to sew one! ;)

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?

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