NH vacation packing

Chris and I are headed up a cabin in NH over the holiday weekend for our last vacation of the year before the year-end craziness sets in at both of our jobs.  It’s going to be a bit chilly, at least cooler than then temps in the Boston area lately, and our cabin isn’t insulated.  Needless to say, we’re packing lots of layers and blankets for when the temps get near freezing at night!  It’ll be nice to unplug for a few days – there’s no cable or internet where we’re staying, but we’re bringing up books and games and planning on doing some fun outdoor things like horseback riding and hiking.  Fall is my favorite season, especially in New England, so I’m really excited to see the colors this weekend.

Of course, I’m bringing up all handmade clothes and layers for the weekend, duh!  I’m hoping to get some pictures at the lake of my two new jackets above, a Minoru jacket and Rigel bomber.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!



Whoa – it’s August.  How can it be that we’re in the last hey-days of summer already?  Personally, it’s felt like a weird summer to me with the weather – it was such a cool spring, and then it got hot all of a sudden, but not the kind of hot where you crave the beach (at least in my opinion).  There’s been some perks though: cool nights for sleeping with the windows open a lot, beautiful morning temps for running outside before work, low/no humidity.  I’m just worried with my beach vacation to Maine in two weeks that the weather won’t be not enough up north for swimming in the ocean!

Maine is my second summer vacation, I went to visit my family in PA two weeks ago with Chris.  It was so nice – (almost) 100% unplugged from work, hanging out with my family, just decompressing.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything sewing related, though!  My mom and I went to a quilt show in Hershey, PA one afternoon, where I unexpectedly found some great sewing goodies, like the above vintage sewing pattern decorated with buttons.  I thought it would look cute in a frame on the wall over my sewing area.

The mother-load of the day was this:



This is 100% lint free poly-wrapped polyester thread from Superior Threads.  My mom told me about how some of her quilting friends raved about the quality of Superior Threads, so I was curious to see if they had any thread suitable for garment sewing.  I squealed when the vendor showed me thread that’s good for sergers and garment sewing.  I’m not going to lie – this stuff is not cheap.  However, when you consider the money invested in a serger and how much you use it (I use it a ton!!), it’s a shame to gunk it up with cheapy, linty thread from Joann Fabrics.  At 6,000 yds per spool, this seemed well-worth the money, and it’s been wonderful to sew with.  It’s a bit heavier weight than the Toldi Lock I used to use, but the stitches look more professional and smooth.  Can you tell from above photo that I stocked up??  You can learn more about Omni thread and see the colors available here.

Going along with the whole theme of lint-free serging and sewing, I finally bought a micro vacuum attachment kit to suck up all the dust bunnies from my Bernina and Babylock.  It’s one of those things where I don’t know whyyyyy I waited so long to buy one.

Here’s the before vacuuming photos of my Babylock (no scolding!):

Evil lint monsters!  You escape my lint brush every time!

Begone, lint!!  You will torment the insides of my serger no more!

Have you treated yourself to any sewing treats lately?


elisalotte 1

Pattern: Elisalex Dress and Charlotte Skirt combo from By Hand London
Fabric: stretch cotton from Metro Textiles
Size: Bodice – US 6; Skirt – US 8

Originally, I planned on making the new Georgia Dress by the BHL ladies for vacation, but I got a bad cold one week and it completely fouled up my vacation sewing plans.  I knew the Georgia Dress was going to require a bit of time to fit, and time wasn’t on my side, so instead I turned to a dress pattern I’ve been clinging to for awhile: the Elisalex Dress.  I knew the simple princess seam bodice would be easy to fit, and it was!

elisalotte 4

I cut out the lining first and used it for a test fit to see if I would need to make any fit adjustments.  At first, I thought the 6 would be fine since the bodice would hit above my waist.  When I pinned the bodice shut in the back, (do you know how hard that is to do on yourself??) I could tell I needed some more room and graded out the last two inches of the bodice to a size 8, which corresponded with the skirt that would attach.

The skirt attached perfectly to the bodice.  I didn’t bother moving the darts to align with the princess seams because of the busy print, but I would consider it if I used a solid fabric or smaller print.  What I found to be interesting about making the skirt this time, and I’ve made quite a few already, is that I had to take the sides in quite a bit!  I’m not sure if it had to do with the fact that the fabric I used had some stretch in it, but when I tried the dress on once it was sewn to the bodice, it wasn’t nearly as fitted as I wanted.  To get it to fit, I took off roughly the equivalent of the seam allowances.  Weird, huh?

elisalotte 3

Also reflecting back on the skirt, I think I should redraft the darts on subsequent garments – maybe take them in a little more.  The skirt is designed for a gal with more hips than me, so there’s a good amount of room in the pelvis that I should try to get rid of.  However, it is helpful for eating big meals, like the dinner I had wearing this dress at the Hard Rock Cafe!

elisalotte 2

The back is my favorite part!  The scoop adds a little bit of “back interest” to this somewhat demure sheath dress.  I made sure to understitch the neckline and underarm of the bodice to keep the lining from rolling out, instead of topstitching as the pattern suggests.

elisalotte 5

Obligatory high fashion pose!  You know how those models hunch and round their backs for those designer photo shoots, hahahaha.  Anyway, I feel so chic in this dress, and can’t wait to wear it more this spring and summer.

By Hand London gals, a big kiss from me to you!  Keep those fantastic patterns coming.


watermelon bikini 1

palm tree bikini 1

Pattern: Kwik Sew 4003
   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.


We're here!! #florida #sunshine #palmtrees #nofilter

Sleepy boy #vacationlife

Drinking Duff beer! #universalstudios #orlando #florida

Universal globe #latergram #vacationlife #florida

This is how we feel about flying back to Boston tomorrow #nofun #lovethesun

Chris turned to me yesterday, our first day back from Florida, and said, “why did we trade 80 degree weather yesterday for snow today?”  It was true – it snowed for most of the day, and the sandy beach and warm breezes of Florida seemed like a distant memory.  Hopefully though, the days will get warmer and warmer as we get closer to spring (isn’t it crazy that Daylight Savings Time is this weekend?).

I’ve got some new, finished garments comin’ at ya next week!  Most of what I worked on in February was for this vacation, and I was waiting until our trip to photograph them in a warm and sunny location.  Stay tuned!