Fabric swatch books
 

My current fabric storage is less than ideal – I have two giant plastic tubs shoved in my tiny walk-in bedroom closet that I share with my husband.  The closet is super dark, the tubs are stacked on top of each other, and are both ridiculously heavy and hard to pull out of the closet when I want to take a look at something.  At least they’re see-through, but it’s still hard to figure out what’s in there.

Well, it was driving me nuts that I wasn’t 100% sure of what fabric I had, or what yardage I bought of something, and I needed a new way to keep track of the fabric I owned – especially when it comes to planning new sewing projects.  I’m also guilty of thinking I don’t have a type of fabric for a project, and then come to realize after buying new fabric that yes, I already have fabric in my stash that would have worked!

The solution – a portable catalog of fabric swatch cards (you can download the file to make your own here!).

 

Fabric swatch book
 

After going through both fabric bins, I consolidated all of my full cuts of fabric into one bin and my scraps/leftover fabric into the other bin – turns out that I now have one completely full bin of fabric I already used for previous projects!  That’s something to tackle another time…

Then, I used my pinking shears and cut little square swatches of all of my fabric, stapled them to swatch cards I made and printed out on cardstock, and recorded all of the info I wanted to know/keep track of.  Did I prewash it?  Where did I buy it?  Did I have ideas for a project with this fabric?  I can record all of that info on my cards.

 

Fabric swatch book
 

I ended up dividing my swatches into two different packets, one for woven fabrics and one for knits.  Then, I punched a hole in the upper left-hand corner of each swatch card and used two binder rings to keep them all together.  That’s it!  Now I can flip through and see all of my fabric easily, and I can even throw these in my bag as I head out to the fabric store – very helpful if you’re trying to shop for coordinating fabrics for a project.

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summer of basics
Have you heard about the Summer of Basics makealong? I first read about it on the Grainline Studio blog and thought it was a great idea – for the months of June, July, and August, sew three garments that you define as a “basic” to fill any gaps in your wardrobe. After participating for most of Me Made May last month on Instagram, and looking at my closet as we head into summer (it’s 95 here today, yikes!), there were three things that jumped out at me:

Sleeveless Shirts – not a sleeveless shirt to be seen anywhere in my closet!  They’re a nice option for hothothot summer days at work when I want to be cool but still office-appropriate.  I love the Alder shirtdress I made earlier this spring and want to alter the pattern to make the dress into a top using flamingo-printed cotton lawn from Cotton + Steel.

Tanks – going along with the sleeveless shirts I’m lacking, I also have very few tank tops…no idea why or how that happened.  I may be one of the few sewists that has yet to sew an Ogden Cami, so I’m stash-busting and using some metallic linen to try this pattern out.  It looks so simple and easy, there may be a few more of these added to my closet this year (PS: have you seen Suzanne’s embroidered version?  I’m in love, I need to try some embroidery on me-made garments!).

Skirts – again, another surprising category I’m lacking in, I used to wear skirts all the time and now I only have a handful left across all seasons.  In general, I tend to ignore sewing for my “bottom half” and should start trying to add in more skirts and…eeeek…pants to round out a true me-made closet.  Pants are just too time-consuming for me to tackle right now, and since it’s hot out, I want to make a Kelly Skirt with denim I found in my stash and forgot I even had, hah!  I love a good denim skirt and it’s been years since I had one in my closet.

So yes, filling gaps in my closet and stash-busting with each of these projects – that’s a win-win sewing plan in my book!

 

Are you participating in the makealong this summer?

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Saltspring Dress
 

Florida vacation + 3 meters of gorgeous fabric from Barcelona = excuse to make a maxi dress (although, does one need an excuse? Hardly!)

 

Saltspring Dress
 

We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary this past weekend (crazy, time flies!) and decided to do a little getaway trip to Florida for a couple of warm days by a fancy swimming pool, some welcome relief after the cold spring we’re experiencing in Boston.  Like a lot of sewists, I always try to make something new to take on a trip and wanted something special to wear on our anniversary.  I had a maxi dress in mind with this floral polyester crepe I bought in Barcelona last month, and with the Saltspring pattern on my “to sew” list for a while now, the two seemed like the perfect match.

This pattern is brilliant – the proportion of the blousing of the outer layer is just right and I appreciated the use of the waist seam allowances as a casing for the elastic!

 

Saltspring Dress
 

I followed the pattern to a “T,” but after reading a bunch of pattern reviews online, I opted to skip the zipper in the back – I knew I wasn’t going to have a hard time pulling the dress on over my head since the bodice looked pretty roomy.  I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the back bodice pieces on the fold, but that’s ok since the print is pretty busy.

 

Saltspring Dress
 

I got sunburned on my chest the first day we were there…oops.  It’s much worse than what you’re seeing!

The ties are pretty long and I know some people ended up shortening them, which I may do in the future after wearing it a few times if they start bugging me.  And let me tell you – using a bobby pin to turn narrow tubes is a life-saver in situations like this, I definitely recommend watching this video if you’ve never tried it.

 

Saltspring Dress
 

I don’t have much to say about this dress since the pattern is pretty much perfect, although I wish I looked at the skirt length before I cut out my fabric – it’s a little short for my personal liking as a maxi and I made a baby hem in the skirt to keep as much length as possible (for reference, I’m 5’8″).  Other than that, I’m thrilled with this new addition to my summer wardrobe – now if only the warm weather from Florida followed us back home!

Pattern: Saltspring Dress by Sewaholic Patterns, view B
Fabric: poly crepe from Ribes y Casals Barcelona

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geranium dress
 

Have you ever sewn for little girls?  Let me tell you – it is so.  Much.  Fun.  Well, sewing for kids in general seems fun because everything goes together so quickly and you don’t need much fabric, but sewing for little girls is a delight because of all of the cute details and adorable fabrics you can use!

My niece turned two in April and I really wanted to make her something for her birthday.  My mom is having so much fun making little sweaters and hats for her and I didn’t want to miss out on the fun, and when I saw the Geranium Dress pattern on Instagram, it looked like the perfect pattern to try out for her birthday.

Plus, it gave me a reason to buy one of the adorable prints from the Cotton + Steel Wonderland collection by Rifle Paper Co!

 

geranium dress
 

There was a bit of a risk making this dress for my niece since she and my sister live four hours away in NJ and I had no idea if this was going to fit her well.  Fortunately, my sister measured her and she was spot-on the measurements for the 2T size.  Then, it was just a matter of crossing my fingers and going for it!  I guess the great thing about sewing for kids is that their bodies are like little rectangles, they don’t have all of the fitting conundrums we adults have with hips and shoulders and curves like that.

The dress was a snap to make, I used the dress view with the ruffle sleeves and self-lined the bodice instead of using lining fabric.  The ruffles were a little fiddly to make with zig-zagging the edges, I hope the stitching holds up in the wash and the edges don’t fray too much.  I would definitely try doing a narrow hem next time and see if that gives a nicer result.

 

geranium dress
 

geranium dress
 

The back closes with three buttons and a little placket below in the skirt for easy on-and-off (well, you’ll have to ask my sister if it’s easy to get on and off of my niece, haha!).  It was surprisingly hard trying to find the right buttons at Joann Fabrics that would either match or coordinate with the fabric and were the correct size – is it just me, or is the button section of Joann Fabrics so much smaller than it used to be?

Ok, enough about making the dress – here’s pictures my sister took of my niece wearing her dress on Easter!

 

geranium dress
 

geranium dress
 

I’m definitely planning on making her more of these, there’s a bunch of different ways to mix and match this pattern to create new looks!  The tunic view would be adorable on her.  Plus, this pattern goes all the way up to 5T and there’s an expansion pack up to 12y.

 

Pattern: Geranium Dress by Made By Rae
Size: 2T, dress view
Fabric: Wonderland in Periwinkle by Cotton +Steel

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portside set
 

I don’t know what I would have done on my trip to Barcelona if I didn’t have this Portside Travel Set, what a lifesaver!  Packing for a three week trip isn’t easy, but let me tell you, this duffle bag fit everything but the kitchen sink.

 

portside set
 

I used the set as one of my two permitted carryons (the other being my backpack with work stuff in it), and here’s everything I packed in it: a full change of clothes, my trench coat, scarf, umbrella, a knitting project, two pairs of sneakers, a full dopp kit and cord pouch, slipper socks, sleep mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, and my pair of glasses.  I know I’m missing some other things that were in there, but there was still room to spare!

 

portside set
 

The dopp kit was especially handy, I fit my gummy vitamins, allergy meds, melatonin, ibuprofen, and some tea bags easily inside.  The cord pouch is the perfect size for holding all of the charger cords for my iPad, Kindle, and phone.  The pouch was a cinch to make, but the dopp kit was a little fiddly with the curved edges and there were a couple of colorful words used as I tried to get everything to sew neatly through my machine.

 

portside set
 

My fabric is from the home dec section of Ikea!  I toyed with the idea of using some Cotton + Steel/Rifle collab canvas from last year’s fabric collection, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much money on a bag that was going to get a lot of wear and tear (and dirt) as I toted it around on my travels.  Plus, the hardware and notions alone were a bit of an investment.

I opted to forgo the fusible interfacing, since I never have much luck with fusible interfacing when I make bags, and chose instead to use duck cloth as a sew-in interfacing (well, I spray basted it instead of sewing it, lol).  I like how duck cloth pairs with canvas, like with my clutches I made last year, and it provided enough body without the duffle bag being too stiff or “crunchy,” which happens sometimes with Pellon fusible interfacing.

 

portside set
 

Nothing like a bright lining inside a bag!  Makes it easier to see things and find what you’re looking for.

 

portside set
 

My only complaint about this bag is that because it’s so big, and fits so much, it gets really heavy!  Which is really a problem that I caused with my packing, hahaha.  It was tough to wear this on one shoulder with my backpack and it kept sliding off, plus the weight didn’t help, so the best way to wear this was cross-body style with my backpack.  Especially when I had to hoof it and run through the Madrid airport to get to my gate in time!  I could see this being a great bag for a weekend trip via a car ride, but I’ll need to remember to be mindful of what I pack in this when I fly next time.

 

Pattern: Portside Travel Set by Grainline Studio
Fabric: Body, panels, and lining from Ikea
Hardware:
Buckles – Bagmaker Supply
Swivel Hooks – Bagmaker Supply
Webbing – AGraff Supplies
Zippers – Zipperstop

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