Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Cartoon: Transcript below.

I've always looked like someone you thought you knew...
Unremarkable, but pleasant.
Then a few years ago, I had some medical stuff I was figuring out.
In the meantime, I lost some weight.
It was weird to have a smooth stomach,
All these newly visible bones...
And it got weirder.
People who had never had anything to say before started commenting on my body. A lot.
When everything got back to normal, it didn’t seem like the same normal.
The comments about my body went away, but now it felt like they were still there, just left unstated.
Now I knew that people were noticing me, but what were they thinking. Was it good? Bad? Kind? Cruel?
It sucked. It still sucks.
But sewing lets me define the person that people see.
Sewing is a secret superpower.
Sewing lets me craft the armor that I wear to tackle the world.
So, I guess what I'm saying is...
Here's a bright, bold, pink and blue, floral and striped dress that I LOVE.
Say what you will.

Monday, January 29, 2018

How To Trim PDF Patterns

Scissors, printed PDF pattern for Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan, and Fiskars paper trimmer.

Just a quick post today! I recently acquired a paper cutter, and I wanted to share how I trim PDFs using it. It took me a few tries to figure out a method that was both quick and effective, but I like the one I've settled on.

All you need is a pair of scissors, a paper trimmer, and your pattern. I'm cutting out the pattern for the Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan!

Scissors, printed pattern, and paper trimmer.

First, I trim off each of the corners, intersecting with the corner of the rectangle that needs to be cut out. It's like a tangent line, except with a rectangle in lieu of a circle.

Scissors cutting off the corner of a paper pattern piece.

Paper pattern page with corner cut off, intersecting with the corner of the usable pattern.

Then, I set to work with my paper trimmer.

Align the cutting line on the pattern with the lower cutting edge of the paper trimmer. The beauty of cutting off the corners is that it makes aligning the cut line super easy! No eyeballing from an inch away. You may want a bright light so that you can see the cutting edge of the paper trimmer.

Pattern page sitting on a paper trimmer with trimming blade raised.

Pattern page sitting on a paper trimmer, cutting line aligned with trimming line.

Once everything is aligned, just hold the paper in place and trim away!

Paper trimmer blade intersecting with the cutting line on the pattern page.

I like to repeat this action for each side, even though a lot of PDFs recommend trimming only two sides. I find having every side trimmed off and taping sheets next to each other (instead of overlapping sheets) makes the pattern easier to fold up later.

Scissors, printed PDF pattern with a trimmed page, and paper trimmer.

Hope this was helpful!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Rifle Paper Co. Simplicity 8137

Like pretty much the whole sewing community, when Rifle Paper Co. released their first fabric collaboration with Cotton + Steel, I was smitten. When I found a solitary bolt of one of their rayons at my hometown fabric shop, I was so excited that I didn't even care what color it was. And then 3 yards of this baby blue floral rayon challis sat in my fabric stash for months, because I never wear baby blue. Ever.

But this summer was my sister-in-law's wedding, and I figured, "If you can't wear pastel florals to a bridal shower, what can you wear them to?" So I pulled out that rayon and sewed it up into a drapey wrap dress, and I couldn't be happier!

Me in sunglasses and floral wrap dress, standing on a sidewalk in summer.

It helps that the color is deeper than some baby blues, more evocative of a summer sky than an eighties-era prom getup. It also helps that it's broken up by big patches of colors I love, like coral and navy.

The pattern is Simplicity 8137, a princess-seamed wrap dress (or peplum top) with optional sleeves, a knee-length skirt, and a (presumably quite dramatic) maxi skirt. To give it a little zazz, there's a gathered tie at the waist that cinches everything in and emphasizes an hourglass shape. To give it a little support, there are snaps on the inside, which hold the wrap in place.

(Also, there are some pants in the pattern envelope. They are... unremarkable.)

Full-length view of me walking down the sidewalk in my wrap dress.

I sewed the sleeveless top (View A) with the knee length skirt (View B) in a straight size 12. It took one solid day of sewing, from cutting out the fabric pieces to hemming the skirt. To be honest, I've never sewn in all the snaps. I just keep tacking it together in pivotal places each time I wear it.

Full-length view of me in my dress from the left-hand side.

On me, the skirt lands a bit below the knee (I'm 5'6".) I rather like the almost midi-length, though. It feels of-the-moment, and it's a nice balance for the dress's bustiness. On the envelope, this dress isn't particularly low-cut, but I didn't make any modifications for a D-cup, and what I got was a very deep V-neck. This shall be rectified with one of those snaps, eventually. Even in a smaller cup size, I suspect you might be inclined to tack the center of the V, as both sides of the wrap are designed to fall entirely under the bust.

Full-length view of me in my wrap dress, showing the back of the dress.

The bodice is lined (the skirt is not), so you get a smooth finish around the armscyes and neckline. The pattern has you sew most of the lining by machine, except for a few inches. This requires you to make a weird inside-out burrito of you dress bodice, but it does result in a nice finish with minimal hand sewing. I know some people like hand sewing, but I am not among their ranks.

Another full-length view of me in my wrap dress, from the front.

This dress was a fun sew, and I love the result! I think that I'll make it one more time in the maxi length, mostly because I'd love to swan around in that many yards of billowy rayon challis, but I'll do a small FBA first.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Floral Maritime Shorts

The trouble with making wearable muslins out of crazy fabric is what happens if you actually like them.

I made these Maritime Shorts out of a quilting cotton covered in flowers, but then it turned out I loved them! I wore them all last summer, flowers be damned. (I also have a V1247 skirt toile in this fabric.) So help me, this summer I'm going to make some in a reasonable fabric. I have some options already: a dotted chambray, a black cotton twill, and some soon-to-be-dyed-with-avocado-pits white denim. I have high hopes for the white denim - how cool would naturally dyed blush pink shorts be?!

In the meantime, here's a view of the side and the back.

The back view makes me think that next time, I should move the pockets in a bit, but it might just be a perspective thing. I also usually have a shirt over the waistband. I do want to take in the side seams just a smidgen below the hips on the next pair. As they stretch out, they tend to flare a bit more than I prefer near the hem.

Pattern: Grainline Studio Maritime Shorts
Fabric: Moda Fabrics quilting cotton - Fresh Flowers by Deb Strain
Size: 8
Modifications: None! But next time, I'd take in the side seams a bit below the hips.

Monday, March 6, 2017

An Absurd Arctic Archer

I cannot claim responsibility for the choices behind this particular shirt. While home for the holidays, my little sister fell in love with this Robert Kaufman flannel featuring cartoon polar bears in Santa apparel. She begged me to please please please make her a flannel shirt out of this fabric, she would love it forever, she would wear it every day, pleeeaaaase. Who am I to say no to that?

Collared button-up shirt in aqua flannel printed with cartoonish polar bears wearing Santa hats and scarves

While I had my doubts, she loves it! She might look like she's wearing jammies all the time, but it's worth it to be swathed in cuddly adorable polar bears, right?

Pattern: Grainline Studio Archer
Size: 10
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Jingle Flannel Polar Bears in Glacier Blue
Modifications: None
Notes for next time: When I make one for myself, I'll probably still make a size 10 for the fit in the shoulders, but trim down the arms a bit. Or, if I'm feeling industrious, make a broad back adjustment. I heard a few people mention that the arms are too long, but I didn't find that. I like my flannels to cover my wrists completely, though. They are, after all, winter wear.

Because they only had two yards left at the store, I bought it all, promised I would do what I could, and it just barely worked! I cut the inside yoke out of a scrap of cotton lawn, but it all fit, albeit with pretty much no pattern matching. I tried to make sure that the rows of polar bears were roughly aligned on each side of the shirt front and that's it. At the end, the biggest scraps I had were maybe 8 inches on the long side. If you were trying to use something in stripes or plaid with this amount of fabric, you'd be doomed.

For someone who's never sewn a collared shirt before, the Archer Sewalong was immensely helpful, especially the section on assembling and attaching the collar. I followed it pretty much to a T. The only place I went off-book was on the seam finishes. I finished the armscyes with a flat-felled seam (increase the seam allowance if you want to do this!) and the sleeves/sides with a French seam. Between that and the burrito-method yoke, there are no raw edges!

The fabric, one of those Robert Kaufman flannels that's brushed on one side and more like twill on the other, was surprisingly soft after washing, even on the non-brushed side. I would definitely use it again if I wanted, say, a set of pajamas covered in jingle birdies. However, I think my next flannel will be some slightly more reasonable choice, like a Robert Kaufman Mammoth plaid.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Seeing other people's posts about the new year and new sewing plans, I've realized one of my biggest goals is to shrink my fabric stash down to a pretty little pile. So, my #2017makenine goals are focused more around getting to the fabrics I have stockpiled.

Above, you can see nine of the next fabrics on the docket! Since this post is mostly for me to keep myself accountable, I'll list the planned projects below without further ado.

Top Row

Left: Hacci sweater knit for a Seamwork Elmira
Middle: Art Gallery voile for a Jennifer Lauren Handmade Hunter Tank
Right: Mystery Designer swimsuit fabric, for an as-yet-undetermined swimsuit pattern

Middle Row

Left: Jungle print voile with secret animals for a Christine Haynes Emery Dress
Middle: Black cotton twill for two Vogue 1247 skirts (one for me, one for my sister)
Right: Striped cotton jersey for a Sew Over It Molly Top

Bottom Row

Left: Green velvet for a McCall's 3830 miniskirt
Middle: Fox-print cotton jersey for some Scroop Patterns Wonder Unders for my sister
Right: Abstract print stretch cotton jersey for a Colette Moneta (conveniently timed for a #MonetaParty!)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Scouting The Perfect Woven Tee

Haha, get it? Because I made a couple of Grainline Scouts! Two, to be specific...

Grainline Scout Tee, modelled on me, front view, in a ditsy rayon challisGrainline Scout Tee, modelled on me, front view, made with bias-cut plaid flannel

There's something about a woven tee that seems oh-so-much fancier than a knit tee. I'm a fan of each of these, and they've been featuring heavily in the workday rotation with skinny pants and flats or boots.

Each one is a size 8, and each is made out of scraps taken from other things. The orange one started life as a bias-cut flannel skirt that slowly got all misshapen as the fabric panels stretched out unevenly. I did get to keep some of the bias seams down the center front and back, and I quite like the mirroring effect.

Back view of plaid flannel Grainline Scout Tee, showing mirroring of plaid along center back seam

The speckled one is a rayon challis that was pulled from a failed dress. It looks much better this way! One thing you might notice is how much more softly it falls. I like both, but the rayon definitely has more drape. It's particularly noticeable at the sleeves. Overall, the rayon makes for a more flattering shirt given Scout's ease, but I feel pretty cool in the flannel version, too.

 You can tell in the side view that there's a distinct high-low thing going on with the hem. I'm not certain whether this is due to the pattern, the need for an FBA, or a bit of both. I think it's both, as the model picture also has a slightly high-low hem, but my side seam hangs at more of an angle. It's so hard to tell with a more blousy top like this, but then again, that also makes it matter less.

Grainline Scout Tee side view in plaid flannel, showing the high-low hem (and zero attempt at pattern matching)

All in all, I like this pattern a lot, but I might be ready to try a new woven tee next, just to change it up. I am so glad I got some workable basics out of these refashions, though!