Tag Archives: exciting new clothes!

Apple Violet Blouse

This is what I wore today:

violet

It was sewn entirely by me! Excepting shoes (brown oxfords, not shown) and tights, which don’t count. The skirt you’ve seen before–it’s my green corduroy one I made last summer, though it has been taken in since. But the blouse is new!

It is a Colette Violet, made up in the cutest fabric you ever did see. It has been sitting in the closet awaiting buttons for at least two weeks, and I finally got around to them last night at a sewing party.

buttons

You can’t tell from this photo, but I couldn’t find enough matching orange buttons, so they are slightly different. It’s barely noticeable, though, and if anyone did notice, I think the print can pass it off as “whimsy.” There are also nine buttons, instead of the six or seven that the pattern called for, and I regretted it long before I had finished hand-sewing each buttonhole. When I had pinned it together, it pulled at the bust, and my nine buttons were meant to prevent gaping, but in fact there is room and to spare in the finished product. I later learned that I can pull it over my head, and the buttonholes are utterly unnecessary.

violet collar detail

Collar detail. I love the collar, and there’s enough of this fabric left over for a few details on some sweet cream-colored dress.

I made no alteration to this pattern, just traced it off in a size 0 and made it up, with only the minimum possible tissue fitting (that is, “is this going to fit over my bust? yeah, looks like it, let’s go”). I thought about making a muslin, but for such a simple pattern I didn’t really think that it could fit me that terribly. I don’t exactly regret making a muslin, but there are definitely some alterations I will make for next time; this version is a bit too voluminous in places.

violet back

The back.

violet untucked

And untucked. It really looks best tucked in, it is just a little too big and a little too boxy to be really flattering, though it might be cute with jeans or a straight skirt.

In my next version, I will probably take out about an inch of length in the high bust, and maybe a quarter to half an inch in the shoulders. I might also take out an inch of length along the lengthen/shorten line, because looking at other people’s Violets, they do seem to be a bit shorter than mine, and I will probably end up hemming mine a little more–I am, after all, quite petite. I am also considering taking the next one in at the side seams. A lot of this depends on how I feel as I wear this one, but I already have plans for another in white lawn with purple accents–it’s a very cute and easy pattern, and it seems a shame to let a small sizing problem get in the way. Of course, if I keep making Violets I’ll have to keep making high-waisted skirts! I really only have a couple skirts that I feel I can wear blouses with, especially blouses this blousy.

Overall, though, I’d call it a success! The cut and colors are very summery and light, but the print is a bit more autumnal, so it’ll be relevant all year round!

a sunny day and a colorful dress

Although I was initially overjoyed to be reunited with my extensive wardrobe after winter break, I have quickly fallen back into the habit of wearing a few key items over and over again, and letting the others stagnate. This is partly due to laziness, partly due to weather, partly due to “saving” dresses for the right occasion (which is completely imaginary and does not exist in my life). In short, there are many reasons, and none of them are very good. But Saturday dawned sunny and warm and positively springy, and I had no obligations more taxing than a stroll around campus and some physics homework, the perfect opportunity for a new dress.

floral dress

It’s not actually new, but it has languished in my closet for what–six months? a year? and this is the first time I have worn it. It was given to me by my friend Jessica, the source of most of my vintage clothes. I think it’s from the 70s, but what do I know? It’s polyester, simultaneously both slightly fuzzy and slightly shiny, and quite warm, which is a plus since it’s not really spring yet however balmy it feels.

My roommate Sierra (who took these pictures) lent me a big pale-green flower pendant. It’s mother-of-pearl-y and amazing and goes very well with the dress’s crazy oversized pattern.

I wore it with white tights and my poor beat-up black mary-janes. I love these shoes to death but I’ve had them for nearly three years and they have been sorely abused in that time. The Lewis & Clark cobblestones do no favors for shoes, and nor does the rain…

floral dress

These photos are taken partly just to capture the beautiful Imbolc light quality before it completely disappears behind three more months of rain. Also, I live on the loveliest campus I ever have seen, which is the closest I come to having school pride or whatever.

Herringbone Macaron

I bought Colette Patterns’ Macaron pattern on Black Friday, when all of their patterns were 30% off. I had coveted Chantilly for a long time, but Macaron is such a sweet pattern with a lot of room for variation, and a bit of a break from my normal full-skirted silhouette. I didn’t end up saving that much money, since shipping turned out to be about 30% of the pattern price, but my Macaron arrived in the mail a short time later, in an adorable pink booklet! Then it sat on my shelf while I frantically packed and sewed Christmas presents (for the most part undocumented, I’m afraid) and took my finals.

I brought it with me on break to my parents’ house, where it languished in a paper bag while I made a quilt (more on that later). I had brought with me a few yards of brown herringbone wool rescued from the Bins (a terrifying place, but lots of very cheap fabric if you care to find it). I didn’t really have any plans for it, and had only brought it because it didn’t fit conveniently in any of my boxes. I thought about making an a-line 60s miniskirt out of it, or a vest, or something. However, going through Mother’s suitcase of apparel fabric (most of which she has given to me), I came across a lovely sheer burgundy and brown floral, which, held up to the herringbone, cried out to be my first Macaron.

Newly enthused, I set about muslining!

…and muslining.

…..and muslining.

I have made things from patterns, but they have either turned out ill-fitting (as in my green blossom dress), or needed no alteration (as in my corduroy Burda skirt). I had never altered a pattern to fit me, and didn’t really know how to go about it. I made three muslins before I was finally happy enough with the result to make it up in my fashion fabrics.

My finished dress:

macaron

(It’s January, it’s freezing out. Also, time to invest in some hairclips.)

My alterations:
I shortened the bodice pieces by 1″, narrow-ed the back by 1″ (tapering off to normal at the waist), deepened the armscyes, widened the waist by 1/2″, shortened the entire bodice by an inch (I think I’m a petite size, technically), and did an FBA!

The last is really the exciting thing. I’d never done an FBA, and had really hoped to avoid it since Colette patterns are drafted for a C cup… but alas, ’twas not to be. The pattern piece was not meeting in the middle, so I pulled up a couple of tutorials and started drawing lines all over my pattern. (I traced it, don’t worry.) It fits much better now, happily, though I can’t say I’m thrilled to have to do that with every pattern I make.

macaron back

A little too much fabric in the back yoke, but the skirt pleats look fine despite my apprehension.

I bound the neckline in bias tape, and the same with the hem. I was going to use hem tape and do it all properly, but the wool is so bulky, I didn’t want to fold it under or anything. I got a bit lazy there…

bodice

With my next Macaron, I think I will have to alter the armscye in order to get rid of the excess fabric in the yoke (though you can’t see it so much in these pictures, so am I imagining it?). I deepened it here, which didn’t really solve any of my problems and resulted in it looking a little silly.

The sleeves are lined with purple silk:

sleeve

And the pockets are silk too! I won’t be able to put anything heavy in them, but any pockets are a luxury.

pocket

My invisible zipper is invisible this time!

invisible zip

The waistband doesn’t line up though, so oops.

In conclusion, I’m pretty happy with this dress, though it’s not perfect. I had some issues with the different types of fabric, which were all unstable and tricky in their own special ways. Some of my pattern alterations didn’t really work, and some of them worked but not well enough. But, it’s the first pattern I’ve ever altered, and it’s quite pretty, considering. I wanted the insides to look really nice, but they don’t, particularly. I should go back and bind them with bias tape of purple silk, but that stuff is hellish to cut so I seem to be putting it off.

Now, for something completely different:

chicken and me

No country home is complete without a pet chicken.

A Scholarly Skirt

It’s a rather amusing fact, that although I spend most of my time in an academic setting (school), and hang out with academic people all the time, I don’t really care for academics. My own inner academic is a flighty and theoretical person, who gets very excited about picking out classes and purchasing textbooks, but vanishes completely at the first sign of an essay. I am a theater major (hurrah!) who finds history and literature very fascinating indeed, provided I never have to formulate a thesis sentence connected with them.

Be that as it may, this skirt definitely speaks to my secret English major.

skirt

(Corduroy doesn’t photograph well at all, hm. It’s really pretty, believe me!)

It’s something about the color, or the corduroy, or the pleats, or the high waist. I don’t think the pattern itself is inherently collegiate-looking, but maybe the fabric is. Doesn’t it just look like I should be reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the library on a rainy afternoon? Or walking across campus with a bookbag and a blazer with orange leaves falling around me? I could be in one of those college brochures, except no one would ever believe it. (OK, maybe it’s not that over-the-top, but wait until I get my hands on a sweater-vest.)

OK, but as for the actual skirt. They had a bunch of corduroy at JoAnn’s when I was there with my mother, and I wanted to make something I could wear with blouses. I debated navy or forest green, but settled on green because–forest green corduroy! How do you get any better than that?

I picked out Burda 7300 for my skirt pattern (look at me, using a pattern!), not understanding that the little arrow on the diagram means “cut on the bias.” It did initially bother me that all the little lines of corduroy were going to be doing whatever they jolly well pleased and not going up and down, but I got over it. I even bought a lining fabric! (Let’s be real, I spent a lot of money at JoAnn’s, but hey! I can line garments in forest green polyester for years to come! And the skirt is absolutely worth it.) I made view A with the view B waistband and without the tulle . . . or else I made view B shortened and with a lining. You decide.

I cut out all the pieces in a straight 10 as my measurements decreed, and didn’t have to alter anything, which was delightful. Of course I cut out one of the skirt pieces on the wrong side of the fabric since I didn’t pay enough attention to the instructions (the tale of woe is here). Luckily for me, I am about five inches shorter than the person the pattern was intended for, so my only real alteration was to chop an inch or so off the hem, which somehow magically fixed my wrong-side-of-the-fabric problem. I think it also messed up my bias-cut on one of the back pieces, but it’s not like I had enough fabric to cut a whole other skirt panel properly on grain, so I decided it was close enough. 30 degrees, 45 degrees, what’s the difference really, right? Ha.

I also french-seamed the entire thing, which was a poor decision on such bulky fabric with only 5/8th seam allowances. But I love french seams so much, and corduroy ravels super easily. When I did it on the waistband, the interfacing and the corduroy made really thick seams and it was too tight. I don’t like a lot of ease around my waist, but I do like to be able to eat and breathe and move comfortably, so I half-unpicked about four of the seams, trimmed the fabric, and sewed them up again with smaller seam allowances. This gave me plenty of room, in fact, I’m glad I didn’t do it with all of the seams as that would have been too much. In retrospect I suppose I should have bias-bound all my seam allowances instead, but hey. All’s well that ends well, as they say (they also say, platitudes are fun!).

I did bias-bind my center back seam, actually, though to be honest I didn’t know what I was doing and my bias tape was too wide, etc. etc. It’s hidden by the lining, though.

back lining

(Or maybe it’s my lighting that’s terrible . . .)

Please excuse the sloppiness of the zipper. I biked to Mill End to purchase bias tape, an invisible zipper, and a zipper foot, but they only had one zipper foot and when I came home I discovered that it didn’t actually fit my machine, so I had to sew the zipper in by hand. Luckily it was only nine inches. I usually find myself sewing in 20-inch zippers and that is never any fun at all.

skirt back

Something about my hand-sewing abilities resulted in my invisible zipper being visible. Alas. But it’s the same color as my skirt so I can live with it.

Here’s the front of my lining.

front lining

It was super slippery and not fun to sew at all, especially since I couldn’t tell the right and wrong sides apart and kept doing all my french seams backwards and inside out. I was also supposed to hand sew the whole waistband lining in, but I got bored and very slowly machine-stitched about half of it instead. The fabric is some sort of cheap anti-static polyester which will hopefully keep it from clinging to my tights as skirts are wont to do. I have quite a lot of extra too, and four enormous pirate shirts sewn from lining fabric that I can cannibalize, so I think I can happily avoid buying lining fabric for the next sixty projects I do!

Anyway, I like this a lot, and I can see myself wearing it excessively when the weather gets colder. I have a pair of forest green suede Hush Puppies that will definitely come into use a lot more now that this skirt exists. I actually might have to make another version soon-ish, so I won’t wear this one to death, or else maybe make a rule about the number of wearings in a week. We’ll see. I certainly won’t be sewing with corduroy in August again anytime soon! The fact that school starts in a few weeks keeps tricking me into thinking I can start wearing fall clothes again soon (thank goodness, my wardrobe is not geared towards warm-weather dressing), but in fact there is still over a month of summer left! Good news for our upcoming outdoor theater piece, sad news for someone who wants to wear her new corduroy skirt.

Look, a pleat! Isn’t it pretty?

pleat

And some more just because this post isn’t long enough yet . . .

hems

The hems were not miserable to sew, for once. This might mean I’m getting better at it.

yay, skirt

In which I am pleased with my skirt (not so with my bags of paper and fabric scraps in the background, but I’m moving, so my room is chaotic).

OK, this post is definitely long enough to convey my enthusiasm for my new skirt. Now, I have to pack my entire room up by Saturday so I should go work on that, probably.