Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Staple Dress Insanity

What madness overcomes a seamstress when we blithely say, "I'll do that."? Only later realize the size of the task we've taken on...

That, my sewing friends is SIXTEEN Staple Dresses! 
This summer, three girls went to town on their day off and came back with all the fabric from three thrift stores to make matching dresses for all the girls on staff. We accomplished Sixteen.

The Statistics:
  • There are 10 Woven Dresses
    •  4 from Thrifted Sheets 
    • 1 from New Fabric
    • 5 from Thrifted Fabric
  • There are 6 Knit Dresses
    • All from thrifted fabric
  • There are 6 Hi/Low Hems, 1 Maxi, and 9 Straight Hem Dresses
  • I don't remember all the sizes but I made each size offered at least once. 

The Details
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see that on all the girls I was able to check, the pattern waistline was right on. For the wide range of heights and figures I was very impressed. 10 points to April Rhodes. 
  • I did not do pockets.
  • Assembly line sewing is the way to go!
  • Instead of tags marking the back I wrote each girl's name at CB and a verse around the neckline. 
  • I am now the Shirring Queen! Don't worry how it looks on the machine, a shot of steam will make everything beautiful!
    • The heaver the fabric the more rows of shirring needed. Knits shirred wonderfully with only a few rows.
    • I did slightly stretch the elastic as I wound it on the bobbin. It seemed to give better results.

Before & After Steam
Psst, Aren't those alligators cute!
My Thoughts
  • If I ever get married, this has cured any lingering ideas of making my own bridesmaid dresses. They can wear whatever they want! I'm not going to have 16 bridesmaids either!
  • I feel like I've accomplished a milestone in my sewing. There has to be some award for sewing the same pattern up nineteen times. (counting the three versions I've made myself) I CAN DO BIG PROJECTS
  • I don't want to do something this big again even though I LOVED doing this for the amazing ladies I worked with this summer. Each dress reflected their personalities and in the post camp blues it was nice to have a reminder of them.
  • This was my biggest January Stashbusting UFO. I had three left to finish when the year turned over and I'm so glad they are all DONE.

For a couple of the knit dresses I had to improvise.
These I did make "tags" for.

All packed up and ready to head out to their new homes.

How about you? What is the biggest sewing project you've ever tackled? How many times have you made up one pattern?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thread Theory Camas Blouse Review

Transparency Alert: I am on the Thread Theory Pattern Tester List so I was given this pattern in exchange for a blog post. All opinions are my own.

Come near my dear, let me tell you all about it!

When a Thread Theory email popped up in my inbox I was so bummed because we had just moved and both my brothers were inaccessible at the moment. So you can imagine my delight when I opened the email and found a women’s pattern. A pattern full of color blocking potential and a really unique design!

I rummaged through what I had on hand and decided on this gorgeous drapey jersey print and a coordinating sheet. The pattern said you could mix wovens and knits which is something I’ve been wanting to try. 

I’m 5’10” with a 37” bust. I cut a Size 12 with the longest hem length. 
Thread Theory gets 10 points in my book for giving you a detailed chart of all the finished garment measurements from sleeve length to neckline drop. This is SO helpful for a knit pattern because I never know how to account for the stretch when measuring the flat pattern for knits.
Better photo here

Changes I Made
  • Since the yokes were cut from a woven I did not use any interfacing
  • Since my jersey was so drapey and fiddly I eliminated the facings and front placket and used a band to finish my neckline and sleeves.
  • I sewed the CF seam closed. This was a baste and try on operation because I could not find a Center Front line on the pattern. I was going to cut it out on the fold but forgot. I ended up sewing a 1 3/4 inch seam.

Meet the Camas Blouse.

  • The pleats/gathers are so so pretty! I love them! 
  • The built in color blocking potential is wonderful
  • Watch the neckline! For my size the V neck was noted as 8 inches which was lower than I would wear comfortably. With my changes I brought it up to a more comfortable place although this top still allows navel gazing for you and others when you bend over.
  • Next time I'll add a little more length to the body so I'm more comfortable when I raise my arms. I'm not sure if it rides up because of the woven yokes or just cause.
  • I think this would make a superb early and post maternity top. It’s drapey yet fitted so you cover those bits that are recovering from having a baby without making you feel swamped in miles of fabric. Whether you install the front placket or not this neckline would allow easy access for breastfeeding. Never having kids, I cannot speak with authority on this but it seems to tick a lot of the boxes I hear from my pregnant friends looking for clothes. Plus you look classy!
  • Personally, I’m not sure what I think of this top… It makes me feel like a really hip fancy office lady or someone way more grown up than I am… I will give myself some time to wear it before I pass my final judgement on this particular top.
  • This top has some beautiful details and I want to try it again sometime in fabric I absolutely love!

Fun Facts
  • This is one of my January Stashbusting cleansing the sewing room makes! It's made me want to keep going on my list!
  • We recently moved to Hot Springs, but it's companion town (as in you can't tell where one ends and the other begins) is Camas.
  • Camas is a wildflower with an edible root.
  • It was freezing outside when my Mom took the photos of me. Hence the "professional expressions" 

Friday, January 9, 2015

January 2015 Stashbusting Theme

Welcome Everyone! 
It's a fresh new year and we're all fresh and ready to go! Flush with goals, resolutions and plans. The Pledges are coming in and the Facebook group is growing. Don't forget to stop by Flickr so we can see everyone's makes in one place! (Flickr is where we'll pull photos for monthly roundups and your projects won't get lost on the FB wall)

Before I even mention the theme I want to remind you all that they are totally OPTIONAL! Only participate in the themes if YOU want to! We are a no pressure group and are just happy to encourage each other to sew with what we have, whatever that sewing may entail.

January: Renewing Sewing
This month is about refreshing yourself in the sewing room. Sometimes we face crafting burnout from all the holiday madness and it can be hard to get back into it. This month take the time to give your sewing space a good tidy up. Organize things; think about your sewing goals for the year and how your stash can help you accomplish them.
Did you make any New Year Resolutions? Now's the time to think how sewing can help you fulfill them. Want to get fit? Sew some exercise wear. Want to make delicious foods? Sew some aprons, potholders or a table runner. Want more organization? Sew up some baskets, wall pockets, etc.
I think you get the idea!

Personally, I've got some projects cut out or half done that I want to get out of the way so I can dive into my sewing list fresh!

Whatever it takes to get us sewing again, lets do it! For added excitement we added spreadsheets to the Files tab of FB that Katie made up to keep track of all our yardage that we use!

So let's get going! What will you tackle first?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Announcing The 3rd Stashbusting Sewalong! Bring on 2015!

Welcome One and All to Stashbusting 2015! We're so glad to have you!

The Stashbusting Sewalong is a casual sew along started in 2013 by Cation Designs and I. We were feeling overwhelmed by our fabric and it seemed many other sewists were as well. Our goal is not to guilt or shame anyone but to encourage each other to use our stashes first. These are resources we already own and we want to use these investments wisely. As creators we know we'll die with goodies but sometimes they can become a burden and an unnecessary stressor. If your stash has become that for you this is the group to join.

How do I join? 
Leave a comment below taking the pledge and blog about it if you wish. We have a Facebook group you can request to join that will be the hub of this operation. Blog posts and other updates will be posted there.
Stashbusting Pledge
 "I, _______,commit to using ____ pieces of stash fabric in 2015. Additional option: I also commit to not buying any new fabric/patterns/ notions except for _______ until ______." 
Please include your blog if you have one.

Flickr Group for posting photos!

Facebook Group for connecting and getting feedback

This year we have a new lineup of themes and leaders. The themes are totally optional and should be considered as inspiration to examine your stash in new ways.
The only rule of the Stashbusting Sewalong is: it must be primarily sewn from the stash. (and we're pretty lenient on "primarily")

What is the Stash? 
Anything you have in the house at the time of making the pledge counts as stash for the year. This includes yarn and notions.

January: Emily (Renewing Sewing)
February: Judy (Fabric Contest)
March: Heather (Patterns We Have)
April: Kristen (Vibrant Color)
May: Andrea (Lingerie)
June: Nancy (Knits)
July: Sarah C (Dresses)
August: Jagoda (Face your Feared Stashed Fabric)
September: Shannon (Outerwear/Seasonal Change)
October: Orsolya (Sewing for Charity)
November: Sue (Containment with Japanese Bag Sewalong)
December: Emily (Christmas Mayhem)

So who's with me? Let's set some goals and lighten our loads! I can't wait to see what you all pledge!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Top 5 Finale: Reflecting on the Past & Dreaming of the Future

  • Top 5 Reflections: Looking back, what have you learned about sewing or yourself? (We often focus narrowly on each project, so this is a chance to step back and appreciate the whole picture.)
  • Top 5 Goals: What do you hope to achieve in 2015? (General or specific, what are you looking forward to trying?)
Ooh it's my last Top 5 post, you can see the rest here and here. I'm so excited about these! There are way more than five and some of these are going to be personal, just because I want a record of my thoughts.

Reflections: The Sewing
Living out of a suitcase this summer was very revelatory for me. Here's what I learned:

  • I need to stick to my Plain Bottoms-Printed Tops rule. The shorts and pants I reached for again and again were the plain ones and while I love my red floral shorts I never knew what shirt to wear them with.
  • After dabbling with Wardrobe Architect and Into Mind I've got a better handle on my likes and dislikes. I've got a core color palette; red, brown, turquoise, floral, polka dot with ivory and navy as my neutrals and gold as my metallic. I wear long and flowy or a classic 50s silhouette of fitted top/defined waist/poofy skirt. Above all it must be comfortable and something I can put on and not have to think of again.
  • I like my TNT patterns. Several of my favorite things were made from them. 
  • I like seeing what I have but I get overwhelmed and frozen when I have too many options.
  • I like making multiples of the same pattern at the same time but I don't like having too many different projects going at once. It stresses me out. 
  • I LOVE PRINTS! Especially watercolorish floral ones... 
Reflections: The Personal
  • I need quality time with people.
  • Sometimes I overstimulate myself with Pinterest and blogs... I spend too much time looking at all the things and never getting anything done.

So after all that navel gazing what are my goals or probably more accurately my dreams for 2015? 
Goals: Sewing
  • Make underpants! I've got some Christmas money earmarked for some of Measure Twice Cut Once goodies.
  • Make some quilts! I've been so inspired by Red Pepper Quilts. I'd really like to make one or two quilts and start my Double Wedding Ring quilt. (I think I say this every year)
  • Make a capsule wardrobe I'm happy to pack and wear. Which means more trouser sewing..
  • Sew the patterns I have. I invested in one of the Pattern Parcels and have some killer vintage patterns I've found. I'm starting to be overwhelmed by all the choices I have and want to use my resources wisely. 
  • Set aside time to sew everyday even if it's just 30 minutes
Goals: Business 
  • Teach sewing classes and private lessons
  • Become a better jewelry maker
  • Try new product ideas
  • Find good ways to promote my business endeavors 
Goals: Personal
  • Review & study my Korean lessons
  • Learn more cool stuff
  • Have an AMAZING summer working at camp again

2015, The year of British and American Pants! 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hits and Misses of 2014

I feel like 2014 was a good sewing year for me. I had a lot more hits than misses and I had a hard time narrowing it down. So here you go in no particular order....

Cake Patterns Cocoa Shrug
I wore this ALL summer and fall. It's perfect for those dresses I wear
that sit at my natural waist. I want to make another!

Maritime Shorts and Pants Hack
I'm so tickled I attacked my trouser fear and made these up. They are still
worn frequently!
Japanese Pattern
Chiffon Top. I love this top! I'm so happy I got to sew with chiffon and
it turned out to be an enjoyable experience. 
I made this ADORABLE vintage dress pattern up in one day because
I had a birthday deadline. She loved it and I loved it. 

Sewing Cake Hummingbird Skirt
This plaid wool skirt has to be one of my favorites of the
year. I refashioned an old aline skirt of my mother's
into this. I wear it until it's too warm to wear.
Love love love.
 Two others that have to be mentioned even if they haven't been blogged are my black plaid Lola and my blue floral sweatshirt top. Both have seen lots of wear and are pieces I reach for  again and again.

Now for the misses...

Athena Top Pattern
I really wanted this to work out. It had some of my favorite features,
pleats and a cowl. I don't know if it was pattern or fabric error but
it stretched and gaped like crazy. I wear it for pjs.

This is my second Athena top with a not such a cowl back.
The neckline was still to gapey and the facing wouldn't stay put so it never
got worn. I'm going to have to remake this into something else because
I like the fabric.

My other miss wasn't a garment but something I do feel badly about. I feel like I really dropped the ball on the Stashbusting Sewalong. With camp and the move I wasn't able to encourage or promote as much as I have in years past.

So what have I learned? Well that will have to wait until my Reflections and Goals post... :) Stay tuned.

How about you? Any terrible fails this year?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 5 of 2014 My Highlights

It's time to celebrate the past year and I thought I'd start with our new category: Personal Highlights!
I had a few doozies this year! Warning, Sappy personal stuff ahead... read at your own risk!

Going to Camp
I spent almost three months in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana and LOVED it! My official title was Craft Coordinator but I did a ton of other stuff too. It was so wonderful I'm going back again this coming year. I'm working on a crafting binder so things will be more organized. It's so exciting! If you really want to see more here's a clip of me doing crafts for Horse Camp. It starts at about 1:50. You can also see one of my Stripy Cabarita loose in the wild.

And this is our goofy staff video with great panos of the country we were working in. I'm posting this one more so I can find it again than for anyone else. It's long and sentimental. 

I've been wanting to move to a more populated area for a long while. It's finally happened and I couldn't be more excited. My parents and I moved to Montana and are renovating an old building built in the 1930s. It's got a great art deco look and we'll have a shop in the front and live in the back. I'll get to teach sewing lessons and have all sorts of goodies for sale in the shop.

This year has been one of the most painful yet one of the most blessed years for friendships in my life. What do they say? People; you can't live with them, you can't live without them. Or more accurately in my case, "Open arms leave the heart unprotected." Letting others into our lives, loving those we meet can be a very scary experience. Because of some sad things I was ready to run away from people but God directed my feet to camp where I was surrounded by people who graciously and unconditionally loved me. Recently He has shown me I cannot live my life in fear, anger or suspicion of others but in His strength and wisdom I can continue to bravely face the world and love those I find in it.

I am a Type 1 diabetic with Celiac Disease. Celiac was a more recent diagnosis and the path to wellness has taken awhile. When I look back on how well I survived camp and all the heavy lifting I'm doing on the house I am so pleased. All the healing my body has accomplished and the ability to grow strong again is so exciting. To have the confidence to walk to the grocery store or go on a hike without worrying whether I'll be exhausted halfway through is a wonderful thing! 

Thus ends my sappy roundup of 2014. I'm so excited to see what new adventures 2015 has! How about you? What have been your personal victories this year?