lonsdale 2

Pattern: bodice Lonsdale by Sewaholic
              skirt By Hand London Charlotte Skirt
Fabric: stretch cotton sateen from Metro Textile
Size: bodice – 4; skirt – 8

Earrings: Charming Charlie
Sandals: Nine West
Sunnies: Tommy Hilfiger

That Sarai, she’s got some great ideas – did you see her white Lonsdale dress a few weeks ago?  Pure fabulousness, especially in all white for summer.  Sue gave me this pattern last year during the spring sewing swap and I’ve been saving it for just the right fabric; I thought my paisley rayon in my stash would be perfect, but realized just before cutting into it that the paisleys were directional.  Darn it!  But what I loved about Sarai’s version is how she changed the dress from a flowy skirted number to a form-fitting silhouette.  When I considered that design change, I discovered I already had the perfect fabric all along.


lonsdale 4

I make a point of going into Metro Textile with a focused shopping list of what I need to find, but always walk out with something unexpected that I’m not sure what I’ll end up using it for…such is the case with this fabric from my last shopping trip.  “Buy three yards, make a dress,” Kashi said.  Those three yards were exactly what I needed to make this dress, what luck!  I love the body and weight of this cotton sateen, and with the little bit of stretch, it doesn’t wrinkle at all and makes the skirt easy to sit and move in.


lonsdale 1

So how did I go about making this pattern hack?  Well, I didn’t have the confidence or pattern drafting abilities that Sarai has to alter the original skirt pattern for the Lonsdale dress – it was on the bias, a-line…didn’t want to touch that puppy and risk screwing up.  Instead, I turned to my trusty and beloved Charlotte skirt pattern.  The waist of the Charlotte skirt measured the same as the Lonsdale bodice in my size, so it was a no-brainer to go that route instead of drafting my own pencil skirt.  What I did end up drafting was the curved pocket, to emulate the pockets on the original Lonsdale skirt…I do love me some pockets in my skirts and dresses.

The pocket drafting was pretty simple: I copied the curve of the original Lonsdale pocket onto my Charlotte skirt pattern (traced, of course) to get a general shape, and tweaked it a little to fit the shape of the sides of the skirt.  I also took the original pocket pattern piece of the Lonsdale dress, altered the curve, and shrank it down slightly since I was worried that the original pockets would be too big for a tight fitting skirt.  Easy-peasy change, and now I can make my future Charlotte skirts with pockets!


lonsdale 3

With the fabric being a bit stiff, it’s easier just to knot the ties instead of tie them into a bow.  I think the straps are my favorite detail, they make the dress so different than other patterns out there and RTW dresses.  This is why sewing is awesome!!


lonsdale 5

Ok, I had to include this shot – Chris took pictures, unbeknownst to me, of me peeking through a crack in the fence at the horses next door and I couldn’t stop laughing!

Well, that’s my last garment of the summer.  I finished this a few week’s ago to wear to a party with Chris and his family, and now I’m tucking it away until our winter vacation somewhere warm in January (I hope!!).  So far for 2014, this dress just may be my favorite garment of the year…but I have a long list of garments to make for the balance of the year, so who knows!!

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ukulele case1

I have a new hobbie, and no, it’s not of the crafty variety.

Ever since visiting the Martin Guitar factory in July and learning about the ukuleles they make (I had no idea!), I’ve had a longing to learn to play one.  They’re not as intimidating to learn as a guitar, and with Chris absolutely enamored with the mandolin I bought him for his 33rd birthday, it made me want to learn to play a stringed instrument so we could play songs together (however, he’s been playing guitar for over 20 years…I have some catching up to do…)

Playing the ukulele is So. Much. Fun.  I’ve had my little guy for about two weeks now and can stumble my way through a handful of chords and some songs like Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Octopus’s Garden, Hotel California, and Both Sides Now.  Since we were leaving to go on vacation to Ogunquit, ME shortly after my ukulele arrived, and I didn’t want to lose out on a week of practice, I whipped up a carrying case from some fabric in my stash so I could take my uke to the beach.


ukulele case5

To make a pattern, I traced around the body and neck of the ukulele on pattern paper, adding seam allowances and wiggle-room to make it easy to take the uke out of the case and put it back in.  I also measured the depth of the ukulele, so I knew how wide to make my side panels.

Even though this is a cheap uke I bought online, I wanted the case to be durable enough to protect my instrument from bumps and scratches.  The case is made up of leftover quilting cotton from a few years ago, a layer of stiff interfacing, craft fleece, and a flannel lining.  If I was to make a uke case again, I’d use a different fusible interfacing than the craft kind I found, maybe a woven fusible.  The interfacing creases around the neck and isn’t as stiff as I’d like it to be.  I’d also use fusible fleece instead of the regular fleece I had kicking around, it’d be much easier to work with.


ukulele case3


The zipper I used was a 36″ robe zipper, so I cut two 36″ rectangles half the width of the side panels and attached the zipper to the middle of the two pieces to create the zipper portion of the case side panel.  Then, I measured around the ukulele to see how long I needed to make the other side panel piece, cut it out, and sewed the short ends of the zippered panel to the new, shorter panel, forming a loop.

Sewing the side panel loop to the main body of the case was the hardest part – trying to get a reinforced rectangular piece to bend and form to the curves of the ukulele body made me want to tear my hair out!  Not gonna lie – there was some swearing and seam-ripping. 


ukulele case4

The easiest way I could figure out to sew the webbing strap on was to do it by hand before attaching the lining.  I pinned the strap onto the side of the case, playing around with the placement of the strap so the body would balance when holding the strap like a handle.  The nice thing about the length of the strap is that it can be worn on the shoulder, and it’s not too long that I can’t hold the strap in my hand if I feel like it.


ukulele case2


I carted my ukulele down to the beach every day on vacation last week to get my practice sessions in without worrying about it getting scratched or banged up, thanks to this little case.  Funny enough, a guy on a blanket next to us one day also brought his ukulele to the beach – his was much nicer and more expensive looking than mine,  but had a boring black case.  I think I definitely trumped him there with my apple-print case!

Now please excuse me, I need to practice learning Stairway to Heaven…

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halter maxi1

Pattern: Simplicity 1800, view C
Fabric: rayon challis from Metro Textile
Size: 10 graded to a 12 at the hip

How have I not sewn a maxi dress until 2014??  I am so in love with this dress and how easy and elegant it is to wear.  If I could have a closet full of maxi dresses I would…well maybe not a whole closet, because I do like to show my legs in the summer, hahaha.

Sewing this dress coincided nicely with Oonapalooza month – you know, “What would Oona make?” (could we all get W.W.O.M. bracelets?).  Loud, bright colors and a funky print? Check.  Saucy silhouette that’s classy at the same time? check and check.


halter maxi2

This pattern is part of Simplicity’s Amazing Fit collection, which I’m a fan of – any pattern that offers different pattern blocks based on body type is a win in my book, especially when it comes to fitting the bust.  It’s hard to tell with the paisley print, but the bodice is constructed with princess seams that continue down into the skirt, which make bust fitting really easy.  I was very happy that I didn’t need to alter the bust when I tissue-fit the slim pattern block, woohoo!  That rarely happens.


halter maxi3

I’m planning on making the other views of this dress for the fall, with sleeves, and I have a feeling that the overall dress may fit better with those versions – here’s why.

The directions instruct to make an elastic casing at the top of the bodice back pieces, which I thought was odd for a halter dress, but the intention is for the elastic to support the back of the dress.  It didn’t work so well, even after tightening the elastic – the back bodice did not fit snuggle against my back.  In retrospect, I should have taken in the back bodice pieces and the side seams of the dress to get a better fit.  However, I just don’t think this piece was drafted correctly for a halter style dress, and instead was a cropped version of the regular back bodice piece.

I also had to make small tucks in the top of the bodice by the straps to prevent the top from gaping open – this wasn’t evident as I tried the dress on during the sewing process.  I ran into this problem before with another halter dress I made, and it was an easy (and invisible) solution to the fitting problem I had.  The problem stems from how the straps lie – they collapse and move in a bit when wearing and don’t support the top of the bodice, causing it to gape.  When they’re adjusted to lay in the correct position, the bodice is flat against my chest.  My theory is that if I make the other versions, the dress will lay correctly because of the sleeves supporting the neckline and fitting properly, and I won’t have a problem with gaping.


halter maxi4

The skirt is pleated in the front, which makes this dress great for eating a big meal…however it also makes me look a little preggo from the side!  A soft fabric is definitely best for a dress this style, anything stiff would make the skirt look like a tent.


halter maxi5

The way the pockets incorporate into the seam lines is genius, it’s like a little surprise, especially with a busy print.  They’re not too deep, but I can’t help putting my hands in them as I walk around.

Isn’t this fabric gorgeous???  I bought three yards with the intention to make a Sewaholic Lonsdale dress, but since the paisleys curve in one direction, and the Lonsdale requires a print that is mult-directional, it wasn’t meant to be.  No matter, I’m absolutely in love with the garment that this fabric turned into

Did you sew anything for Oonapalooza Month?

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Salted

Call me crazy, but I just started a sweater this past weekend.  It’s been a long time since I picked up my needles and did some serious sweater knitting (I think the last time was Februrary??), and now that Orange is the New Black is back on Netflix, I need some knitting to do so I don’t feel so guilty sitting on my couch binging on episodes.  Summer TV (aka watching my Netflix queue) is in full swing now.

I tend to knit more in the fall/wintertime than I do in the summer due to the fact that my hands get really sweaty when I work with yarn in the summer.  Sure, I turn the AC on, but I still keep my apartment more on the warm side so I’m not paying a crazy high electric bill each month.  Knitting with cotton is a little easier, but honestly, I’m not a big cotton fan – it stretches out, even sometimes when it’s blended with other fibers.  I just don’t like how it feels.  Meh.  I’m a wool girl at heart.

Oh yes, this sweater I just started – it’s called Salted by Alica Plummer, a relatively new sweater pattern I stumbled across on Ravelry.  This is the kind of sweater I can picture throwing on in the evening for a stroll along Ogunquit Beach or on an early fall day, and the relaxed fit is a new silhouette I discovered through the Wardrobe Architect that I like wearing now.  I chose to make this out of Berocco Vintage, which is an acrylic/wool/nylon blend.  I may be kicking myself that I’m knitting with a wool blend in the summer, but that’s for another post.

So – do you knit in the summer?  What kind of yarn do you use?

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watermelon bikini 1


palm tree bikini 1

Pattern: Kwik Sew 4003
Fabric:
   Watermelon PrintFabric Fairy
   Palm Tree PrintSpandex House
   CoverupFabric Place Basement
Size: XS top, S bottom

Sunnies: Tommy Hilfiger

Ok – I can now say in 2014, I successfully made a swimsuit!  These bikinis were so quick and fun to make that I think that I’ll swear off buying swimsuits ever again.  I made each of these for roughly $20, less than the cost of a bikini at a department store, and the fit and booty coverage is better than I would have found in a current RTW bikini.  Plus, I got to pick out the fabric I wanted!


watermelon bikini 3

I was determined to try swimsuit sewing again after I didn’t get some things right on my Bombshell, and since I now have a serger, I thought it would be easier to get better-looking results.  Using some leftover spandex, I made a quick test bikini to check the fit, and it was spot on: my theory of going with my bust size sans bra resulted in a perfectly fitting bikini top.  Score!

I think these bikinis took about two hours each to make, including cutting out the fabric.  Using what I learned the first time I worked with spandex, I used a rotary cutter to get a more precise cut.  You may notice on the pattern envelope, the bikini top has pinked edges – I cut out two sets of the lining piece so I could have a plain bikini cup instead of piecing together three different bodice pieces with pinked edges.


palm tree bikini 2

Using my serger to attach the swim elastic to the leg holes, waist, and bikini top edges made a world of difference over using my regular sewing machine.  I had a problem last time when I used my sewing machine to attach the elastic, I got all sorts of fabric rippling because I can’t control the pressure of my presser foot on my machine.  Actually, I used a serger for sewing just about all of this bikini except for the top stitching!  I know it’s possible to make a swimsuit without a serger, but I don’t think I personally would have had results this nice without mine.

I also found some great, high-quality swim cups at Sil Thread in the NYC Garment District that I trimmed down to fit the bikini bodice, inserted them, and stitched the bodice pieces shut.  They give the bodice some shaping and coverage that I like in my swimsuits.


swimsuit coverup

At the last minute, I decided to make the coverup to go with the bikinis.  I found the most amazing Tahari cotton/poly net fabric from his resort collection, tried to make this with it, and ended up with a mess of fabric and a neckline that kept growing and stretching.  What a shame!  So, I settled for this jersey burnout fabric instead.  I would apply the neck band differently next time a la Jen’s Hemlock Tee, and I didn’t want to be bothered with finishing it the way I was supposed to according to the instructions, so I just left it raw and let the neckband roll.  Call it a “design element.”  I used a rolled hem stitch on my serger for the edges, but didn’t get the greatest results – I think it helped when I used the differential feed on my serger instead of the neutral setting, because on neutral the fabric kept bunching up.  Ehhh who cares, it’s just a coverup.


palm tree bikini 3

Bum coverage!  For my next bikini, I think I may try to do a rub-off of a bikini bottom I have that gives me nice coverage, but doesn’t have as high of a rise.  I like this, but they could be a wee bit smaller.


watermelon bikini 2

Here’s another thing I learned while sewing these: the quality of spandex, just like any other fabric, really varies.  I thought they were all the same, for some reason, but the quality of the palm tree print fabric is very different from the watermelon print, due to the fact that the palm tree fabric is yarn dyed and the watermelon print is printed on to the fabric.  The watermelon fabric is stiffer feeling, and when it stretches, you can see the white of the base fabric it’s printed on.  The hand of the palm tree fabric is much more fluid and soft, and I think the two suits look slightly different on and fit a little differently because of the nature of each fabric.  Plus, the palm tree fabric cost a lot more because it’s nice fabric!  Don’t get me wrong, I love both swimsuits very much, but I know now to look for these characteristics when I’m shopping for spandex.

What a shame that I have to wait until summer to wear these again!  Warm weather can’t come fast enough.

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