Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Five Top Favorite Sewing Patterns

In April of this year, I will have been sewing in earnest for one whole year!  Whoo hoo!  I am really proud of the progress I have made as a direct result of having no life and having enough free time to really learn my craft.  Yay for being unpopular and boring!

But seriously folks (seriously, I am pretty boring), sewing is like anything else; you start out really bad at it, but the more you read about it, practice it, live and breathe it, the better you get. 

I am considering 2012 the year of Colette, and 2013 the year of Gertie because I feel like I am finally ready to tackle some harder patterns.  And while I am super excited to start trying some of Gertie’s patterns, both from her book as well as her Buttrick patterns (more on those later), my heart belongs to Colette patterns.  These are the patterns I will always go back to and use again and again, possibly for my whole life, and I’ll tell you why.

1)      They are easy without looking like sacks. 
2)      Every dress style that you could ever need, they already have.
3)      The directions are easy to understand, even for a beginner.
4)      Although the Intermediate patterns are a dream to wear, the beginner patterns are totally wearable and beautiful too. 
5)      All of their patterns come in lovely booklets that are little gifts in and of themselves. 

I’m sure I will learn a lot from Gertie this year, but she does not cater to a range of sewing styles and abilities.  Her patterns take a lot of time to complete and understand, and though they are lovely, they aren’t quite as versatile as Colette's (my opinion only!). 

This is not to disparage the use of Gertie’s blog, book or patterns at all as they are all to die for, they are just not for the faint of heart.  I am really really excited to try them this year, but I’m a bit afraid too!  I am quite sure I will be able to build on my skills and learn so much from them. 

But before I move on, I wanted to list my five favorite sewing patterns from my first year sewing-and what a surprise!  They are all from Colette! 

1) The Iris.  This is a new love of mine, expressed recently in brocade.  Iris is a lovely beginner pattern that takes little time with great results.  If you attempt it however, do make a muslin or be prepared to have shorts that are too big/ or too small. 

2) The Hazel.  This pattern is just wonderful as is, but I have also adjusted it to make zipper-less sun dresses and swim covers as well. The Hazel would look great with a full gathered skirt, and I have also made a top out of it. And while this pattern is amazing it is also (like the Iris) a project that you can complete quickly.  Yay!

3)  The Lilly.  This pattern is one of the patterns from the Collette Sewing Handbook.  It is seriously a wonderful, versatile pattern.  I have made it with and without the flounce, with lace and without.  It is a great, simple project that will never let you down. 

4)  The Parfait.  I have made this Intermediate pattern twice, both times with great results.  If I wear my green Parfait out and about, I am guaranteed to get at least one person asking where I got my dress.  Score! 

5)  The Peony.  This is my number one favorite pattern.  It is so delightfully simple, and yet, it is so versatile, you can make it 100 times and never get bored.  If you only buy one pattern, make it this one.  Sleeveless, short sleeves, long sleeves, full skirt, there are so many options!  This dress is also a great blank canvas for beautiful fabrics of all different weights and styles.  I have to force myself not to just keep making this dress over and over again.  It is exactly what I was looking for when I started sewing, and it hasn't let me down since. 
Honorable mention: the Chantilly.  I think this is my most special looking pattern that I have ever tried.  I love the results, and you can make it reversible!  BUT it is not a quick or easy dress to make. In my opinion, the only thing easy about this dress is how easy it is too make mistakes during the construction.  This pattern taught me how to really work for what you want in sewing, and I am forever grateful.  However, it didn't quite make the list because, for me, it just wasn't as fun to sew as the other patterns and I made so many frustrating mistakes.  It was also quite expensive to make because it requires so much material.  Actually, I really do want to make this dress again because the finished product is so nice, I just have to work my way up to the endeavor. If you are an experienced sewest however, please do try this pattern!  It has a very rewarding outcome.   

As much as I love these patterns, I have a whole army of new patterns that I am itching to try this year.  I love how my sewing knowledge keeps growing thanks to experience, and a whole lot of reading on the topic.  To think that a year ago I was almost too intimidated to even go into a fabric store! 
Here is just a little preview of my newest pattern-surprisingly not a Colette or from Gertie!  I am actually making three dresses from the same pattern all at once because it is so versatile and such a quick sew.  
The first is white cotton number that I will probably finish tonight.  Great pattern, right?  Stay tuned for all three finished products and full review of the pattern!   

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pretty in Pink

This lovely pink sweater has gold thread laced through it!!!  My bestest gave it to me on her visit.  I love it!  I am also wearing black pants from Gap, and Dillard’s heals.  I really love these pants, so much so that I almost never wear them because I am “saving them”.  I’m not really one for saving clothes- I believe in wearing whatever makes you happy and not worrying if it is too fancy or too special for every day- but once in a while I do save things that I love because I am afraid of them one day wearing out.  These pants are on that list.  When you find pants that fit perfectly and are also comfy, it is hard to ever let them go!  I have had these ones for years and they still look new. 
Also, I am growing my bangs out, so today I pinned them off my face for a test run.  Right now, they are pretty long (for me) and very heavy, and it is hard to look girly and pretty with too heavy bangs. 

I am a bangs girl and feel a bit naked without them.  I always end up thinking that my face looks boring without fringe and end up cutting them, but I’m kind of digging how they look off of my face today. 
I hope that I give it the old college try this time and really grow them out.  You may be thinking that this is within my control, but I am pretty impulsive with my hair and I can’t trust myself. 


I have a guest model for today!  My bestest Rachel Browne was in town this last weekend and we had such a wonderful time shopping, eating, watching movies and just being together. 
On Saturday, we went out for drinks with my sister Rach and Rachel Browne wore this beautiful dress.  Where did she get it you ask?  From my closet because I made it!!!! 
Actually, this was one of the first dresses I ever made.  Doesn’t it look beautiful on her?  Well, naturally I had to give it to her since she loved it so much and it looked so amazing on her.  Rachel Browne has impeccable taste in clothes so the fact that she liked this dress so much makes me extra happy.  It makes me feel so good when clothes I make go to good homes.  :)

I love this photo because you can see how much fun we were having putting on our little fashion show.  :)
The weekend is over but the memories will last forever.  I love you bestest! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just Meh Sewing

I realized today that I never blogged about the finished dress I started here.  So here it is!

To be honest, I'm not quite sure which side I will use for the back and which side I will use as the front, although I'm not quite sure it matters.  The other side looks mostly the same, except no bow. 

I really wanted to like this dress, and for a different body type I'm sure it would be lovely with a belt.  But for me, it is going to the back of my closet for future maternity wear.  Oh well, they can't all be winners.  Still, I'm sure I will appreciate it when I need it (not any time soon, but some day).

***Update-I gave this dress to my friend Kimmi, and it looks awesome on her!  Yay!  It just needed to find the right home.  :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Long Hair Inspiration

I am very sad to say that growing my hair out does not excite me in the same way that a new haircut does.  It is the kind of triumph that creeps up on you rather than giveing you a sudden burst of happiness and newness.  Rather than the high of a new fresh haircut, one day I will just notice without much fan fair that my hair is longer.

Along the way, there shall be milestones such as when my hair is finally long enough to do pigtails, then a pony tail, then braids, but until then all I can do is hope that my hair doesn’t grow through too many awkward stages and thank god that I enjoy wearing hats when those inevitable awkward stages get to be too hideous to manage. 
I do not like growing out my hair!  This is why it hasn’t quite made it to shoulder length in the last five years. 
Also, long hairstyles as a rule don’t excite me too much despite their versatility.  I like the look of long hair and I like my hair when it is long, but there are very few long hair photos that I can look at and go, “yes please, I want that!” 
The other problem with growing my hair out is that I am so lazy.  I love my wash and go short hair because I allows me to take almost no time to get ready, and it actually looks better if I don’t try.  A headband is all the hairstyle I need to feel cute.
Picturing the time that it can take to blow dry long hair, let alone having to blow dry my hair again at all as I will freeze in the winter if I try and let it air dry, makes me unreasonably sad.  Let alone all the time it will take me to actually style it!  I will have to try to become someone who doesn’t wash their hair every day, but my hair gets greasy very fast so there really are no easy lazy girl short cuts for me with long hair. 
But it is true that I am finally bored with short hair on myself.  Six years is a long time to go without a pony tail.  I have been there and done most cute haircuts that I can even imagine wanting to try and at this point I am just repeating styles I have already done.  Boring!
Long hair does bring the promise of being able to change up my hair without taking out the clippers and that is intriguing.  Also, I have had my hair long long long many times in my life, but I haven’t had my hair long AND without bangs since I was 11.  Mind you, I’m not quite sure if this style will look 1960’s model (natural and pretty!)...
 ...or just a lady who lost her brush and doesn’t care enough to get a trim (I already don’t wear make-up often enough, so this could be far too real a possibility) until I try it. 

But I am still committed.  I must prove to myself that this can be done.  I really feel that I am done with short hair for good and that I have fully exhausted every short haircut I have ever wanted to try.  It is time to move on.  But please please please!  Someone else get a haircut soon so I can live through you!  I am so terribly, terribly bored, and I have at least another six months to go before I can really say I have accomplished anything.  Sigh. 
Me with long black hair almost 10 years ago.  I donated my hair not too long after this photo was taken, which I have done I think four times now.  As you can see, I had not yet learned how to smile for the camera. 
And one from 2006, the year I met my husband and the last time I had long hair (this time with my natural hair color and less weird bangs). 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Magic In My Shorts

This post is about actual literal shorts, so get your mind out of the gutter people!  Disappointed?  Don't be, these shorts are pure magic.

Sewing magic is what happens when you step outside your comfort zone and end up creating something really fantastic as a result.  I have never really liked shorts because they are always too reveling and also a bit too casual for my style (yes, I am a fancy lady).  But the Iris pattern is a lovely vintage inspired exception. Wishing for the J. Crew shorts I blogged about last week, I  made these white brocade ones  (after the blue and white ones I used as a practice pair, which are shown at the end of the post) in my own size for so much less money:

And then I made these beautiful green ones:


Lovely bias tape was used to cover the zipper edges. 

Ahhh!  So pretty! They turned out exactly how they looked in my head, if not even a bit better.

Sadly, I can't lie to myself and believe for a moment that these shorts will have a long shelf life and not because I'm afraid they wont stay on trend (I'm not really sure that that semi-high waisted brocade shorts were really the "in thing" to begin with) but because they are so fragile.  Shorts were meant to be durable and these shorts are anything but.  I think I snagged them already by accidentally breathing to hard near them.

However, that is the nature of brocade.  It is beautiful, but overly delicate and snag prone.  This delicious  fabric was designed to break your heart.  No matter, I will cherish my time with these shorts, however short (puny!) our time together will be.  All they are is sparkly thread in the wind.  Thread in the wind.  All they are is thread in the wind. 

Then there are these lovely durable ones that I made as well. I have had these ones cut out and ready to sew since last summer, but I wanted to figure out how to make waist bands properly before I made them, and so they waited.  for some reason waist bands made no sense to me until recently.  Now it feels obvious, but of course once you learn something it seems like you always should have known it. 

Inside waistband.

I feel sorry for these little blue and white shorts because if I hadn't made them just before I made my gorgeous brocade ones, they would have been my favorite thing.  Alas, I did make them just before, so I'm not sure how much sunlight they will actually see.  They are quite nice though, if just a bit on the snug side.  I'm glad I made them first as a practice pair so that I could adjust the brocade ones accordingly before I cut into the not-so-cheep fabric.  I am really committed to making muslin's (or practice pairs) from here on out.  I am very lazy and impatient (as I have blogger about many times) and hate to have to make practice garments, but finished products in my best fabric turn out so much nicer when I do. 

So there you have it folks-the loveliest shorts in the world (did I mention they all have pockets???).  All of these shorts are brought to you today by the letter A (for awesome!), and by the Iris pattern, which is the only pattern I will ever need for shorts. When it gets a bit warmer I will blog about these again to show how well a size 8 can rock fashion shorts. It will be glorious, though I am a bit scared that the first time I wear each brocade pair will be the last since they are so stinking snag prone. 

So, are you impressed and jealous of my mad skills at making weird shinny shorts?  Don't worry. I know you are.  Stay tuned, because I have several new patterns coming in the mail soon.  Lets see if I can finally figure out pants (everyone starts holding their breath in anticipation)! 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Growing Out the Pixie: March Hare

Get it?  It’s a play on words!  I crack me up. 
But seriously folks, here is a look at the start of month 4 growing out my pixie cut.  I trimmed up the back very short recently so it is almost to the point where it is all growing out at once.  Yay!  Growing your hair out can be an experience that is so painful that it can make you want to just give up and cut it all off again just so you don’t have to deal with the bad stages, but so far (knock on wooden keys) I think it is still looking pretty cute.  True, February wasn't my most stylish month and I plan on having some, shall we say, interesting hair moments to come, but at least for right now I am pretty happy with the little bob it is growing into.
Growing out my bangs is another story however.  They are just hitting the length where they start to curl a bit underneath them, causing them to separate in unflattering ways.  Sigh.  I must stay strong.  If I cave and cut my bangs short now, then by next moth I will surely look like prince Valiant.  No thank you self.  Please no. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fancy Pants (and Shorts)

This is almost embarrassing me as I post it, since I know how high the rate of this project not coming out as I envision it is, but I am going to go ahead and post it anyway because I am so excited! 
So, this month’s J. Crew catalog came in the mail a few days ago full of magical inspiration.  Usually I think of J. Crew as nice, basic, overly expensive clothes that you wish you could have but for a much lower price.  They are designed well, but pretty basic. 
In contrast, this month’s issue was a surprising gift of beautiful patterned shorts, pants and shoes (just in time too since Anthropolgie’s usually beautiful spreads were pretty lack luster this go round), that I couldn’t wait to try to emulate. 

Though I have so far been pretty unsuccessful in my attempts to make pants, I have never been particularly inspired by pants making considering the fact that there are already beautiful pants out there in the world that I could easily buy on the cheap. 
Not so for these $150+ dollar shorts and $250-$450 dollar pants, which I just absolutely could not have if I didn’t know how to sew.  And although my pants sewing hasn’t gone great as of yet, the Iris shorts pattern is just a lovely and easy to make pattern that I am excited to try again. 
I also have a new pants pattern coming to me in the mail which may or may not be right for the project.  Only time will tell. 
The shoes however, I cannot make and I cannot buy, though they will live in my heart forever.  Ugh, so beautifully out of reach. 
The lesson here is that sometimes sewing does save you money, but only if you are lusting after really expensive clothes to begin with.  On the other hand, I will stick to looking for a pre-made velvet blazer rather than making one, as the truly beautiful velvet I recently found at the fabric store was going for a whopping $25 dollars a yard and I’m pretty sure any jacket I made would not look worth more than .25 cents at this point in my sewing life.   
I’m not quite sure if I will be able to pull off brocade shorts and pants construction, and even if I do, I’m not so sure how they will look on a leg three times the size of the ones pictured.  So far, I have not found an example of a size 8 in this type of fashion, but hopefully if all goes well in the sewing process, I can blog about it here so that can no longer be the case.  And yes, I am planning on wearing the fancy shorts with heals.  Could there really be any other way to wear such awesome shorts?  Don’t bother thinking about it, the answer is no. 
And on another note, what are my least favorite catalogs asked no one ever?  Well I’ll tell you; it’s a tie between Victoria’s Secret and Urban Outfitters.  The Victoria’s secret catalog loses points for its constantly horrible photo shopping, and I’m not talking about the, ahem, enhancements (which are to be expected).  I’m talking about people’s hands suddenly on backwards and belly buttons completely airbrushed out kind of awkwardness.  Blah, it is just terrible. 
Urban Outfitters loses my vote (which is oh so important to them) for its drugged-out looking models, who don’t just look thin and dirty, they also look so unhappy you would have to assume they were being forced into the photos against their will.  I picture some guy in a van trolling around snatching up sick and homeless teenagers, forcing them into urban awesome clothes and then placing them at a camp site, in a trailer, or in front of an urban looking street and saying, “now pose dang you!  Pose or I am going to eat this cracker I promised you as payment myself, and all you will get is the crumbs! Crumbs I say!” 
"Hum, Maybe you should be more embarrassed about spending so much time writing about catalogs then you are about whether or not you can make pants," you say?  Shut up you!  this is compelling stuff! 
So, what is inspiring you this month?  What challenges are you willing to face in the name of, if not fashion, then something just for you that you really love?  And aren’t you excited to see if I pull this off?  I know I am. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Golden Godess

Okay, now a few more of this awesome dress!  It is my new favorite.  Isn’t it lovely?  the body of the dress is made of a very soft golden velvet material that just drapes over my body rather than clinging to it.  It is also fully lined. The purple pumps were also a wonderful, velvety find, and both were from Modcloth. 

This dress got me thinking about how we can get so set in our ways with what we think flatters us that we might be missing out on some beautiful shapes, colors and textures.  Although my preference has been for dresses that are lose at the hips, I have been loving more form fitting dresses lately, especially when they are also comfortable like this find.  It is funny to think that I went through a full skirts stage, and before that I used to be such a jeans girl, and before that, I was afraid of skinnies.  Now I prefer dresses with a few skinny jeans days mixed in and I am recently getting back into boot cut jeans.  It is fun to let your style evolve and not get too set in your ways!   

What styles do you just love for your shape?  What styles do you consider off limits?  Have you made any fashion discoveries lately that surprised you? 

Tea for Two

 I love this dress so much, I am going to split this post into two so I can post a ton of photos of it.  First, the important part.  These photos were taken at a “sister’s tea” with my sis Rachel.  Usually I dress a bit more froufrou for tea, but we both had slinky dresses that we had no idea where to wear.  So we thought, lets just go for it!  Isn’t my sis cute?  Her dress fit her so beautifully  it has a slim skirt and a lacy top lined with a brilliant orange.  She looked so lovely and classic. 

Now enough about her-look at me!!!  I already can’t wait until I get to wear  this dress again.  I have always been very against velvet, but all of a sudden I am in love with it!  I really want to find a jewel toned velvet blazer to wear with my black skinny pants.  Oh man.  I must find one, and buy it.  Now please. 
We had a great time as usual.  I can't wait for our next tea party, especially since the next one will be for my birthday!  :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Disney Days

I am turning 30 at the end of the month, so I decided to celebrate getting old by going to Disney Land!  My husband, his sis Willow, my sis Rachel and my friend Jenn all had a great time!  Here are just a few snap shots from the trip for your viewing pleasure.  Sadly, we didn't get any of me on my dress up day, or any at all of me and my husband together, but oh well.  Next time, 'cause by golly, there will be a next time as soon as we can manage it! 

These first shots were from the airport when my hubby and I flew in.  I had to wear something that I could travel in, and go to the park in, so I chose this Modcloth top that I have had for years and paired it with dark skinny jeans and boots. I decided that if you wear something this cutesy, you better smile at everyone you see or you else you will look ridiculous, so I smiled at everyone I saw and looked awesome.  Not that it was hard to smile when we were almost in Disney Land!  I love how the gold tank underneath looks paired with this electric blue top. 

My sis and I posing with Cruella.  She was so funny! 
She asked, “Did you make that dress?”
And I said, “Yes I did…but not out of puppies.”   

A few more...

 Most of these photos are courtesy of Jenn, who captioned this one, "she's wishing for the one she loves, to find her, today.  But he is in Cars Land."  Haha!  It was hard to get Jer out of Cars Land though, not gonna lie. 

 Finally, lets pretend that we took this picture of Jer on the trip, because I love this picture of him.  He is the cutest boy in the world.  :)