Ginger Made: Banksia Top

Hi, guys!  It’s getting COLD out, people– the puggies and I were freezing when we took our walk this morning!  Luckily, I finished this top just in time for chilly weather.  It’s Megan Nielsen’s Banksia Top, and it’s a pattern I’ve been wanting to make for a long time.  When Megan announced the sewalong, I jumped at the chance!

Isn’t my neighborhood lovely? Sigh…

I wanted to make this really feminine top a little more my style, so I used an inexpensive buffalo check flannel from A.K. Fabrics in the Garment District.  I love flannel– it reminds me of my grandfather, plus it’s so cuddly and soft that I feel like I’m wearing pajamas at work!  The fabric had a few downsides, though– I started noticing flaws in it as I was cutting things out, plus any time I had to use the seam ripper, small holes developed in the fabric.  Yikes!

Look, I’m turning my patented outside-photography-in-the-cold shade of purple!

I love this collar paired with the lowered neckline– it makes the top a little more grownup-looking, but still cute.  I used vintage buttons from Etsy, and decided to do 4 buttonholes instead of 3.  I made a size XS with a 1/2″ FBA, and next time I’ll give myself a smidge more room through the mid-back and armscyes (yeah, yeah, I made a muslin, but for some reason I didn’t put the sleeves on… d’oh!).

I’m always standing some crazy way that makes my clothes hang goofy. What’s up with that?

The pattern is really simple to put together and the directions are really clear.  I had a little trouble lining up the placket exactly using the 2nd method, but that’s just because I’m clumsy.  Like several other people, I had to extend the collar to get it to meet the placket in the middle.  I was careful to staystitch the neckline, so I’m pretty sure that it didn’t stretch out.  Not the end of the world or anything, though.  It really is a unique pattern and looks cute on everyone that makes it– try it if you haven’t already!

What have you guys been up to lately?  I’m sorry for my lack of commenting on your blogs and posting on my own– the internet is still down in my neighborhood.  😦  Luckily, I’ve had cell service, so I can at least keep up with everybody on Instagram and Facebook– NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL.  Hopefully you’re all well!

P.S.  Did you see that Stephanie from makes the things opened up an Etsy shop?  Check it out– she’s got some cool pieces!

Ginger Made: Pajama* Party, or, the Pink Nightmare Pajamas!

Hooray!  I made pajamas!!  Happy Pyjama Party Day, everyone!

Look how happy!!!

I’m so pumped up about these pajamas– I love them!  The pants are made from Simplicity 2116, and the top is Grainline’s Tiny Pocket Tank.  The pants were super easy to put together (although definitely MUCH easier if you don’t sew when you’re sleepy and sew your French seams inside out… TWICE… so much unpicking!!).  The fit was a bit granny-panty (who wants super high-waisted PJ’s?  not me!), so I folded down the waistband once more before inserting the elastic.  Easy!  The more astute reader may be asking, “Ginger, why does your Tiny Pocket Tank not have a tiny pocket?”  I ran out of time!  I finished up the top this morning and barely had time to snap a couple of pics before jumping in the car and blasting to Philly to meet up with my brother-in-law.  So I’m posting late in the day, but hey, it’s still officially “Pyjama Party” day here in the States!

Do people actually sleep in curlers? Is that even possible? It's like having tin cans strapped to your head! But man are they hillllllaaaaarious!

  This was a great exercise in stash-busting for me– I bought this lovely cotton-silk blend in Paris last summer.  It was in a bargain bin with 3m lengths for 10 euros at Les Coupons Saint-Pierre, and I’ve been saving it with the intention of making a dress.  But with all this talk around the internet about cake vs. frosting and making clothes that you will actually wear, I was inspired to cut into this for pajamas and I’m so glad I did!  And let’s be honest– lil ol’ tomboy me wouldn’t get much wear out of a cotton candy pink dress!  And dude… I spend A LOT of time in my pajamas.  Like, as much as possible.  I get home from work, walk the dog, and then it’s into PJ’s for the rest of the night!

This is actually my second Tiny Pocket Tank– it’s a lovely pattern, but I have been swamped lately and have been using every spare minute to sew, so haven’t had a chance to take photos.  I’ll review it properly soon, I promise!

Thanks VERY much to Karen for hosting this sewalong– I can’t remember the last time I’ve had this much fun!  Speaking of fun, I’m really excited to check out all your PJ posts tomorrow when I get back into town!  I’m especially excited to hear what you’ve been reading lately!  I must confess… I haven’t been able to read anything longer than New Yorker articles lately!  When I’m working on a TV show, I generally fall asleep the second I get into bed, but I’m really excited to do some reading after I wrap next week!  Bossypants is first up on my list, and I’m hoping to finish Moby Dick— I’ve been in the middle of it for a year or two and just haven’t had the time to devote to finishing.  The time I read a book was back in February when I was laid off for a couple of weeks, and I read Bel Canto.  It’s a lovely and unusual novel– I definitely recommend it!

Yay!  I’m so glad I got to party with you guys!  Can’t wait to see all your jammies!

* Can’t quite bring myself to spell it “pyjamas”… feels a bit inauthentic to an American gal like myself!

Ginger Made: Strawberry Sorbetto Top

Voila ici le Sorbetto Top! It’s my first official entry in the 2nd Annual Summer Essentials Sew-Along. I’m vacillating between “Holy cow, I’m in love!” and “Holy crap, how did I screw things up so badly?!”

Here I am with Gus the Bus!

The good: The fabric! Mwah! I love it! It’s lightweight, sheer cotton that’s a perfect pink. I love the rectangular woven dots! Also, it’s just my style– comfortable, cute, and summery (plus it hides my bra straps!).

The bad: Ack!! Sunni’s Seam Finishing Week came one day too late! Stupid me, I didn’t realize that [zigzagging to finish seams] + [sheer, lightweight fabric] = extreme ugliness.  I’m not going to show you the inside of the garment– it’s way too embarrassing! There’s also a slight bit of weird puckering at the bottom of the side seams where it starts to curve out. Not sure what caused that.

The “meh”: The bias tape really forms a nice contrast (Wright’s 1/2″ Double-Fold in “oyster”, an unappealing name for a garment color, but that’s beside the point), but it seems a bit heavy for the lightweight fabric. It sticks out a bit from the garment instead of laying nice and flat, particular under the arms. I’m not really sure how to remedy this. Any thoughts?  Also in the “meh” category– fit issues! This is a seemingly simple top, but the style may not be instantly flattering on many people and may require some tinkering (or, in my case, three muslins!) to be wearable.

Squinting in the summer sun

On that topic, mods: I started out by cutting a straight size 2, which should have fit pretty well according to the chart of finished measurements. But the bust darts hit way too high and too far in, so I traced them on some transparent pattern paper, taped this onto the pattern about where I thought they should fall, and changed the shape of the pattern edge so the triangle thingy that pokes out between the legs of the dart was in the right place. This was my first time trying out bust darts, so I’m happy to have tried my hand at a new skill. Somehow I didn’t have enough ease in the bust, or really, all over (my finished bust measurement was 3″ smaller than estimated), so I added 5/8″ to the edge of both the front and back pieces, which did the trick. The armcyes were also way too tight, so I cut to the size 10 line, which worked. Finally, this top is crazy short. I added 2″ of length between where the 2C and 2D arrows meet on the back and the 6B and 6C arrows meet on the front.  I liked the length after this, so I added an additional 5/8″ to the bottom of the garment to reach this length after hemming it.

Look at the worn spot on my jeans pocket from carrying around my big fat wallet!

This pattern comes together really quickly, so it would have been really fast and satisfying if I hadn’t had all the weird fitting issues. Now that I’ve sorted those out, I’ll probably crank out a few more of these over the summer… and next time maybe I’ll try my hand at French seams or another nicer seam finishing technique.

Anyone else planning to make a Sorbetto?  How are your summer projects coming along?

Ginger Sewalong #3: Baby’s First Skirt!

Hello, friends!  Today I’m feeling exhilarated, giddy, and triumphant (and not just because I stayed up ’til 1:00am hand stitching my skirt hem) because today is the Ginger Party!  I can’t thank Sunni enough for hosting the sewalong– if you’re new to sewing or just a wee bit timid, even you will be empowered to make this skirt with the assistance of her excellent tutorials!  It was soooo pleasant to work on a pattern alongside a kind and supportive online community.

I really enjoyed this project!  I got to try my hand at flat pattern alteration– my hips are one size smaller than my waist, so I cut out the waist in the correct size and graded the skirt pieces down to the smaller size.

Ack, windy day = bad hair day!

I didn’t have to take in the waistband at all.  Once I had the zipper properly installed, the fit was snug enough that I didn’t need to do anything else with it (also, it didn’t hurt that the fabric was much thicker than the muslin… I didn’t really realize that I should have made my muslin with fabric similar to the final project… whoops!).

I'm moody. Sometimes I look down.

Similarly, I didn’t have to take off any length for my skirt to hit above the knee.  Once the waist fit properly, the whole shebang just seemed right!

Sometimes when I'm really feeling moody, I stare at walls.

Can we talk for a minute about hand-sewn hems?  Is this something that everyone does?  Do you guys do it every time?  Cause, seriously, it was TEDIOUS.  Trying to shove the needle through double layers of thick twill was unpleasant, and the whole thing took f o r e v e r (granted, that may have been because I started at 11:00pm, but it took me more than two hours!).

How do you stand so you don't have crazy legs in photos? Teach me, please!

I can’t say it enough, but THANK YOU to Sunni and the other participants– what a great few weeks it’s been!  I’m still working away on my pink Ginger, so hopefully I’ll unveil that soon!

2nd Annual Summer Essentials Sew-Along: The Grand Plan

Happy June, everyone! June marks the beginning of summer– it’s officially time for popsicles, sundresses, and weird pockets of sweat all over your body! This year, June 1st also marks the kickoff of the 2nd Annual Summer Essentials Sew-Along!

Every year, the first time warm weather hits, I realize that I have NO summer clothes. And every year I decide that I can power through the season wearing the same two tank tops over and over and over and that I can someone avoid wearing shorts all summer long, even though I work outside. As you can probably imagine, this strategy only results in the aforementioned weird pockets of sweat all over your body. But this summer will be different! My focus is going to be on adding breezy mix ‘n’ match separates to my wardrobe, as well as to sew things that will help me master new techniques (buttonholes! gathers! pleats!).

Without further ado, my 2ASESA plan (bold & italicized descriptions courtesy of Ali):

Poolside Pretties: Anything that cools or dries you off when there’s lots of sun and water around. One and two-piece swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, surf shorts, sun hats, oh my! One versatile swimsuit cover-up I find lovely is a terry cloth dress. Double-duty, that’s what I’m talking about. I’m waaaaayyyyyy too scared to try a swimsuit, so I’m thinking of doing a cover-up/dress in seersucker from vintage Advance 3335.

I'm so going to look like my crazy/awesome high school art teacher.

Clam Diggers & Co.: Bifurcated bottoms of every style and length, from flowing linen pants to short-shorts and all the inbetweens—clam diggers, pedal pushers, Bermuda shorts, etc. As I alluded to above, I have a pretty strong aversion to shorts. But I’m hoping to find and make a pair that turns me into a short lover, if only for the sake of comfort. Anyone have any suggestions for shorts patterns that are cute, girly, and not too skimpy?

Sweet & Sassy Skirts: Prints and solids, short and long, low-slung and high-waisted. But most of all: Airy, flirty, flattering. Skirts– now you’re talking! I’d like to make a mini version of Simplicity 2451, view D, in navy blue or gray twill. I’m also considering the Paper Bag Skirt from Adventures in Dressmaking‘s tutorial on Grosgrain.

Simplicity 2451

The Sundress: Need I say more? To me, the perfect sun dress strikes that chord between casual and elegant—arms and collarbones, looking good barefoot or high-heeled. It’s something you can wear to both a barbecue and a summer wedding. I LOVE sundresses!  They’re so sweet and easy to wear!  I’m planning to make Simplicity 3964 Built By Wendy as a sleeveless above-the-knee length dress in a peach striped cotton with dotted Swiss yoke details.  Does that count as a sundress?  If not, I like the looks of the Anna Maria Horner Socialite Dress pattern.  I also have a vintage pattern that I’m really excited to make, Advance 8295, but I’m not sure my skills are quite up to it just yet.   

Could this be the perfect sundress?

Tees, Tunics & Blouses: Yes, please! I’m finally understanding the worth of blouses as they also strike that balance between casual/formal, totally versatile. I’m also thinking mini-dresses that do triple duty as tunics, dresses and cover-ups.  Blouses!  I’m planning to start with the hot-off-the-press and FREE Colette pattern, the Sorbetto top, in a deep pink sheer cotton.  I’m also planning to do the Colette Violet blouse, and, if I have time, the Colette Sencha top so I’ll have plenty of options to wear with my new Ginger skirts!

Sorbetto (photo courtesy of Colette Patterns)

I also may try a simple tunic pattern from Sew Everything Workshop in a coral linen that I have in my little (but rapidly growing!) stash.

Those Summer Nights: Pullovers, cardis and hoodies may be the last thing you’re thinking of with the mercury rising, but there’s those cool summer nights, not to mention every last establishment with the air con blasting. Or: for those of you where thunderstorms are a daily summer experience, a lightweight trench?  None of these items are very high on my list of priorities, but maybe if I get through everything else on the list, I’ll stitch up something that fits this ticket. 

**NOTE** I’m much less a planner than I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, do-things-on-a-whim, loosey-goosey type, so don’t hate me too much if I deviate from the “plan”!!

Ginger Sewalong #2: Muslin

I finally finished my muslin for the Beginner’s First Ginger Sewalong!  The skirt needs some minor adjustments, but nothing too serious.

Front 'n' Center

I finished up late in the day with limited access to light in the apartment, hence the awful background.  The waistband sticks out a bit at the top, but I’m going to wait and make any adjustments to the final skirt because:

A) I didn’t sew on the inner waistband piece, so I’ll probably lose a tiny bit of the extra fabric there.  Plus, I’ll be turning down the edge 5/8″, so it might get a bit tighter then, too.

B) My invisible zipper is just basted on (as you will see below) because I didn’t have a practice zipper and I need to use this one on my real skirt.  As a result, I didn’t stitch close enough to the zipper coil and I’m getting some additional room in the waistband.

See the waistband poking out? Booo...

So, I guess I’ll check out how things look once I’ve made these changes and hopefully I won’t have to do anything more drastic. Otherwise maybe I can just nip it in at the sides a bit? I wouldn’t mind if it sat a little higher on my waist, either.  I guess we’ll see what happens.

Not-so-invisible zipper

Next dilemma: length!  I turned the hem up 5/8″, but I’m wondering if I should go a tad bit shorter.  Any thoughts?

2nd Annual Summer Essentials Sew-Along

So, even though I’m knee-deep in Ginger Mania, I’m already thinking ahead to the next project(s), and, just in the nick of time, I stumbled across the 2nd Annual Summer Essentials Sew-Along!  It’s a three-way party hosted by Ali of The Wardrobe Reimagined, Alessa of Farbenfreude, and Sarah of Rhinestones and Telephones, and the goal is, in Ali’s words, “to stock your closet with quality summer basics”.  Participants will sew five or so summery pieces between June 1st and August-ish that may or may not fall into the following categories:

1.) Poolside Pretties (swimsuits, cover-ups, etc.)

2.) Clam Diggers & Co. (shorts, capris, etc.)

3.) Sweet & Sassy Skirts

4.) The Sundress

5.) Tees, Tunics & Blouses

6.) Those Summer Nights (pullovers, hoodies, cardigans, etc.)

The sewalong launches June 1st, which is perfect, since our big Ginger skirt reveal is June 2nd and we’ll all be anxiously looking forward to new projects!  I’m really excited about this and now my head is spinning with ideas!  Who else is in??

Ginger Sewalong #1: Fabric Picks!

I’m OVERWHELMED with excitement– the Beginner’s First Ginger Sewalong over at A Fashionable Stitch is upon us!  This rainy, dark, and generally horrible day in NYC turned to sunshine and lemon drops once I entered the hallowed halls of Mood Fabric for the first time in my life.  It’s… amazing.  Organized!  Clean!  Jam-packed with bolt after bolt of beautiful fabric!  I was immediately drawn to this cotton twill for my skirt:

Cotton twill from Mood Fabrics in my favorite color, robin's egg blue!

It’s a lovely shade of deep robin’s egg blue (please pardon the crummy photo– it’s been dark, dreary, and impossible to take good pictures for days!) and is a nice sturdy weave.  I’m a little worried about the weight of the fabric.  I’m not sure if it is a mediumweight or if it’s heavier.  I think it will hang nicely, but I forgot in the throes of passion at Mood that my chintzy sewing machine can barely get through more than two layers of lightweight cotton.  I’m crossing my fingers that I won’t have any issues sewing with this fabric.

Then THIS happened.  I REALLY wanted a pink skirt when I first saw the Ginger pattern, although a cotton candy-colored A-line skirt will probably make me look like a schoolgirl.  But since this lighter-weight cotton twill was on a closeout special, I couldn’t resist.  I’m planning to whip up a second skirt in this pink with white piping accents after I finish up the first one.  I think it will be challenging enough to make the skirt the first time around without fiddling around with piping or other fussy details.  But I can’t wait to start working on this version, too!

Fabric pick for Skirt Numero Dos!