Sewing for My Sis: Megan Nielsen’s Kelly Skirt!

Guys.  I should’ve known this day would come eventually, but somehow I never thought it would.  I’ve sewn something for my sister that I really, really don’t want to send to her!

OK, I want to send it to her.  But is it wrong that a part of me really wants to keep this for myself?  My sister has lost her baby weight really fast so we can wear the same size!  It’s meant to be!  Alright, alright, I’ll just have to make another for myself.

This is Megan Nielsen‘s Kelly skirt pattern, and I love love LOVE it!  I’ve always loved pleated skirts, but sometimes they can be a bit too “Catholic schoolgirl”, if ya know what I mean.  This pleated skirt is super cute, but definitely not Lolita-esque.  I’ve loved this pattern ever since I first spotted it, but hadn’t pulled the trigger and purchased it in my attempts to defeat the BUYITNOWNOWNOWNOWNOW thing I’ve had going on the last few years.  Luckily, my sister picked it out when we started planning her new wardrobe, so I had an excuse to order it (from Sweet Little Chickadee, my favorite indie pattern supplier)!

I used this organic twill from Mood Fabrics that I bought a year and a half ago or so, intending to make pants, but I am too scared haven’t gotten around to that yet.  It’s the perfect weight– not to heavy or thick, but with plenty of body to hold the pleats.  It’s halfway between navy and gray, so I think she’ll be able to pair it with many different tops.

This pattern comes together really quickly!  I was momentarily stumped by how to get the pleats to lie flat on top of the pockets, but I found Roobeedoo’s post and realized my mistake.  I just assumed that I needed to baste the tops of the pockets to the skirt front, but if you do that before making your pleats, they won’t sit right.  Once I unpicked that, it was smooth sailing!

The only thing I’m not super excited about is my buttonholes.  I think I might need to pick up a buttonhole cutter as cutting them open with embroidery scissors seems to leave messy buttonholes.  They look pretty unprofessional if you look up close.  I guess I could douse them in Fray Check, but that stuff smells kinda gross.  Luckily I doubt that many people will be looking at the buttonholes up close, so I guess it’s alright.

Lest you think I’m a slacker, I’ve also made her a Renfrew top in her favorite color.  In all my iterations of this pattern, this is my first time making one with short sleeves!  I made her a size 4 and shortened the bodice by 1/2″ (she’s petite), and I’m told it fits her perfectly!  Now that I know for sure that it fits, I need to set aside a day and cut out a half-dozen versions of this top and put them together assembly-line style.  You can’t have too many tees!

So… what do you think?  Should I send this to my definitely-deserving sis, or should I move, change my phone number, and keep the thing, living as a fugitive for the rest of my days, clutching the tattered remnants of this skirt until I die alone in a border town?

Ginger Made: Crescent Blouse!

Hi, everyone!  I’m really excited to share this post with you!  A few months ago, Megan Nielsen invited me to pattern test one of her new designs, and as soon as I saw her awesome pattern, I freaked out and totally wanted to spill the beans!  I’m so glad I finally get to show it to you!

This is the brand-spankin’-new Crescent Blouse pattern.  Isn’t it adorable?  Like most of Megan’s patterns, this one has quite a few options– a rounded, crossover hem or a squared tunic hem, and there’s also an optional Peter Pan collar.  You could also lengthen it to make a dress, which would be mega cute!

I used some linen leftover from my M6553 dress, and had just enough for the top– it’s another stash-busting score!  I just love linen.  Sure, it’s a little rumply, but it’s so breathable and has such a great texture.  I particularly love this color, so I was really glad to use up the yardage I had in my stash.

This pattern is EASY to make.  It takes a little time to make bias binding and finish all the openings with it, but it’s otherwise really, really simple.  There aren’t any darts, but you could easily add them if you need the extra shaping.  As always, Megan’s instructions are a piece of cake to follow (mmm… cake…).  The blouse closes around the neck with a button on either side (which I also found in my stash, yay!).  I used French seams throughout the blouse, so the finish is very clean.

I really like this top!  The shoulder cutouts are sexy without being too revealing, and the whole thing is just so summery!  It’s a loose shape, maybe not super flattering on me, but it’s perfect for hot, sticky days.  I definitely want to make a few more of these!

If you haven’t already, hop over to Megan’s blog and check out the entire Breakwater collection!  It makes me REALLY wish that summer would hurry up and get here– I wanna bicycle seaside like the model in the lookbook!  🙂

What are you guys working on?  Sewing for summer (or winter?)?  Found any new favorite patterns lately?

Ginger Made: Briar Top!

Hey, guys!  It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve had a finished garment to show you!  I finished this up a week or so ago, but didn’t have a chance to take any photos.  And I’ve been feeling kind of tired, sad, and unmotivated the last few weeks, so I haven’t been working very quickly or efficiently (and on top of that, I’ve strayed from my promise to sew one project at a time and am working on four different projects right now, which doesn’t make for very speedy sewing).  But at least I have something finished and I have a new top just in time for spring weather!

Look at the pretty trees! Spring is finally here!

This is Megan Nielsen‘s Briar Top pattern.  It’s a simple, easy pattern, perfect for beginners, but it’s super trendy and cute.  There are two lengths to choose from, one cropped and one longer (I chose the longer), three sleeve lengths (short, 3/4, and long), and two pockets to choose from, one rounded and one square.  Megan also gives directions for finishing the neckline with a band or a binding, and there are photo tutorials on her blog for each style.

Pretend like a giant gust of wind didn’t destroy my hair right before this shot! This shows the graduated hemline and pocket best (I’m posting unflattering photos for you people!).

Here’s where things got hairy.  I bought this super cool burnout tissue jersey from Fabrics for Less when I shopped with Lauren and Oona last month.  I love how it looks and feels (it’s crazy soft), but it was a total pain in the butt to sew with.  I couldn’t for the life of me settle on a tension that made my machine happy, so the hems aren’t as pretty as I would like.  I consulted my Fabric Sewing Guide, which quoted Sandra Betzina as recommending a zigzag stitch with a 0.5 mm width and 2.5 mm length.  I tried this with different tensions, the lower the better, but still didn’t get a perfect look.  Placing paper between the presser foot and the fabric definitely helped, but it was really tough to do that on the curved hems. I don’t recommend using tissue paper, though, unless you enjoy pulling shredded bits of soft paper out of the seams with tweezers.  The plain white banner paper that I use for tracing patterns worked best, although Michele at Mood recommends keeping a roll of cash register paper next to your sewing machine (seems like a great idea to me!).

Line up paper with the edge of your fabric (immediately beneath the presser foot), and sew as you normally would.

Another unpleasant side effect of using really thin jersey is that it rolls like a mother.  I couldn’t keep the edges flat as they were going under the presser foot, so I had to unpick and redo the neck binding several times to make sure it looked even.  Again, it’s not perfect, but I can live with it.  This thin jersey is really rumply and wrinkly, too, so it looks a little messy when you wear it.  😦

Another thing I’m not sure about is this length on me.  For some reason tunic-type tops make me feel like I look like a tube.  Next time I make this I may try shortening the back so it hits higher up on my hips, maybe 5″ or so.  I’ll lose some of the fun hi/lo hemline, but I guess I could always shorten the front a teensy bit, too.

Overall, I like this top.  It’s cozy and pretty, and I received compliments from the first two people who saw me in it at work.  I failed to take into account the fact that it’s too sheer to wear without something underneath, so I may need to whip up a couple of tank tops as I only have one in my wardrobe that works.  I’m really looking forward to future versions of this pattern.  It’s no-fuss and easy to wear, but I don’t feel like a total slob in a t-shirt when I wear it.

What are you guys working on these days?  Any exciting projects?

Don’t mind me; I’m a fashion blogger lost in dreamy, dreamy thoughts.

Hatching Plans: Back-to-Work Wardrobe for my Sis!

Hello, everyone!  Hope this little post finds you all well!

As you may remember, my youngest sister had a baby mid-January, so now she’s preparing to go back to work.  She’s going through a bit of a rough patch right now, so I thought maybe the prospect of a new work wardrobe might cheer her up and give her something to look forward to.  (She’s related to me, after all, and few things get me more pumped up than doodling up plans to sew new outfits!)  I thought I’d share my plans with you guys to get your input!  My sister is very laidback and the opposite of a diva, so she rarely shops for or spends money on herself, and she doesn’t give a lot of feedback about what she likes.  So I’m hoping to put together some pieces that she’ll be able to mix and match and that she’ll really love.

OK, since my sister’s immediately post-baby and is long-distance, I need to make garments that are easy to fit and that won’t look ill-fitting and gross right away if she loses weight.  My first thought was to make a few basic a-line skirts, since they only need to fit in the waist and are straightforward to fit.  So I showed her some skirt patterns (and by “showed”, I mean “texted photos of”), and her favorite by far was Megan Nielsen’s Kelly skirt.

image from Megan’s blog

This requires a pretty decent fit through the waist, but my mom lives near my sister and can take it in for her if she loses a ton of weight.  I hopped online and bought this yesterday, so I’ll be checking the mailbox all week long!  My sis favors blue, gray, and aqua these days, so my thought was to make this skirt for her in:

chambray and navy twill.  I also thought that a red twill skirt might be fun to combine with the blues and aquas.  I don’t want her to get bored wearing only the same skirt pattern, so I may add Tilly’s new Miette skirt pattern to the mix, too.  I didn’t buy any fabric yet, though, so I’m open to other ideas.

image from Tilly’s blog

Cute, right?  This seems like a nice option, too, since it’s so adjustable.  Perfect!

Another thing I thought she might like is a pair of stretchy pants.  I just found Tessuti’s Anita ponte pants pattern and immediately downloaded it (you’ll be seeing these on me soon if all goes well!), and I think they might work on my sister, too.

image from Tessuti’s blog

I love these!  They have a bit more coverage and are more substantial than leggings, so they seem awesome for work and running around with a baby.  I’m thinking gray ponte?

gray ponte from Mood– click on photo for link!

Next up, tops!  I went a little bit crazy at Girl Charlee and picked out a boatload of jerseys to make some tops.

Aren’t these all adorable?  You can see why I couldn’t help myself!  I was thinking I’ll make a whole flock of Renfrew tops with a variety of sleeve lengths and necklines (the Renfrew is my tried & true pattern, after all… heeheehee!).  What I like about the Renfrew top is that it’s feminine, but still really easy to wear and slim enough to tuck into a skirt.  But I’m not sure if maybe it’s TOO slim for someone with a changing body?  What do you guys think?  I’m also tempted to make a couple of Cindy’s dolman sleeve tops, but I don’t know how good those would look paired with skirts.  What about the Briar sweater/tee?  Is it too loose for someone that might be feeling self-conscious about weight around the mid-section?  Thoughts?  Any other patterns that might be nice?

If I have jersey leftover after cutting out all the tops, I’d like to make a skirt like Miranda’s simple layered summer skirt.

photo from Miranda’s blog

Wouldn’t this be super cute with the different striped fabrics combined together?

My sister works with kids in and out of classrooms and homes, so I figure that a couple of cardigans would be good so she can toss one on over everything if it’s chilly.  I’m thinking that I’ll do one inspired by Andrea’s Renfrew cardigan mod, and for the other, I’d like to try my hand at drafting a waterfall cardigan (similar to the Burda Karen pattern, but not quite as voluminous, perhaps).  I’m thinking one in navy, and the other in gray:

both from Girl Charlee

Maybe not the most exciting things in the world, but I’m sure they’ll be worn regularly.

I also ordered this purple polka dot ponte from Girl Charlee because it reminded me of my sister:

What should I make with it?  A dress?  Another pair of stretchy pants?  A skirt?

Any other patterns or garments you can recommend?  I’d like to make her some Archer shirts and perhaps a version of M6553 down the road, but she has basically nothing to wear right now, so I’m looking for quick makes!  I’m especially interested to hear what any moms out there liked wearing post-pregnancy (btw, breastfeeding isn’t a concern here, so no need for tops that accommodate that… tmi?  I hope not…).  I’m especially interested in any free tutorials or patterns as I’ve exceeded my pattern buying budget for the next little while!  🙂

Now, I have one last favor to ask!  Maybe you’ve noticed, but I love to make sewing plans, but find it hard to stick with them!  Since this is a pretty ambitious plan, I’ll be tempted to get sidetracked, so I’d love it if you could remind me to keep at these sewing plans if it’s been a while since you’ve seen me post anything!

What are you guys up to these days?  Any wild & wooly sewing plans??

Ginger Made: Rie Dress

PEOPLE.  Don’t get too excited, now!  Yes, I sewed one of Megan Nielsen‘s delightful maternity patterns, the Rie dress, but it’s NOT FOR ME.  No mini-Gingers on the way!  It’s for my younger sister, who’s due in January.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

I made this a few months back but haven’t had a chance to blog about it yet.  This is the fastest garment that I’ve completed to date– I sewed it up in just a few hours!  I’ve never done anything so quickly before!  The dress was so easy to assemble, and it’s a very cute style.  I would actually almost wear this myself, belted for a little waist definition.  I used a super-cute medium-weight cotton jersey from Girl Charlee (Andrea also used this fabric for a sweet dress)!

I highly recommend this pattern!  It requires very little fitting, so it would make a great gift for a friend who’s expecting, and it’s a nice wardrobe basic that can be dressed up or down.  Like all of Megan’s patterns, it’s really, really easy to put together, and there are several variations suggested in the pattern booklet so you can make multiple unique garments with one pattern.

Here’s a little snapshot my dad took of my sister wearing the dress.

Notice anything funny about the dress in the full-length shot?  I used the blue stripe to line up the pieces so my stripes would match, BUT… I cut one piece, then must have flipped the other piece upside-down on the fabric before cutting, so the stripes run in reverse order on one side and only the blue stripes match up!  Whoops!  What a dumb mistake!

What are your favorite gifts for expectant mothers?  For those of you who are pregnant or have been, what were your favorite things to wear during that time?

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!