Lucky 13: Baby shower extravaganza

I figure yesterday’s post was pretty dry for much of my readership (well, at least my friends-and-family readers). So not to disappoint those who don’t care about my crafting plans but like it when I make cute things, here is a quick bonus post of the gifts I made for my friend Diana’s baby shower last weekend. I was going to include it on the end of last night’s post, but things just got way too long! Sorry for the photo quality (and quantity); I was working on these up until the last minute (really beyond the last minute, and I even enlisted my mother in the button sewing effort), so I just snapped a photo each before they went into the gift bag:


This baby is due next month, so I figured I’d give something wintry for now and something summery for later. I tried to channel a little bit of a 30s/40s flavor with the prints, and I like the classic feeling the gifts evoked. Can’t wait to see them modeled by baby! My thoughts by project:

The bonnet is the Winter Baby Bonnet from Purl Soho, which is a free pattern on their blog. I got two of the kits, which now seem to be sold out, but you could definitely find the needed materials from other sources. It was a great pattern and I got to break out my walking foot for the first time. The stitch length was a little very short, but otherwise using it went without incident. Well done me! This was also my first time sewing with Liberty Tana lawn, and I loved it!

The booties are Saartje’s Booties, a pattern that has been in my queue on Ravelry for years. Weaving in all the ends was a little fiddly and I didn’t have a crochet hook available to make the button loops (I ended up braiding them), but I absolutely love them in the end! I used some Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply from my aforementioned stash and resisted going out and buying more yarn to have a contrast color (pats self on back). I love the simplicity of the garter stitch and black buttons, and the finished booties are so squooshy and delicious, perfect for little feet.

Finally, the dress. This is another Seashore Sundress from Oliver + S (see my last one here) in the 6-12 month size, and I don’t have much new to say about it, though construction was even smoother the second time around. The fabric for the dress and bloomers are from one of the Denyse Schmidt DS Quilts lines at Joann’s. The picture isn’t so great above, but the dress is in this great little flower print, and I have enough left over to make another baby dress. As you can see, I made no effort to match the plaid on the coordinating bloomers (which is printed on the bias but asymmetrical, argh!) because I thought it would be really hard, and it shows; oh well. As my Grandma Mary Jane said about sewing errors, you no one would notice from a galloping horse.

And there you have it. Knitting and sewing in one post! Next up, something for me!


A week late, 7 dollars short? Crafting goals for 2014

Never one to be early (or even on time) to the party, I’ve been working on  a new year post for the past week or so, revolving around five crafting goals for 2014. Then today on Coletterie, Sarai proposed an amazing project for the year, which I think fits in really nicely with almost all of my goals. And she explained point three (see below) so much more eloquently than I did. Plus there’s a graphic, which this post was sorely needing! So without further ado, I’ve decided to take part in…

The Wardrobe Architect

Seriously, a project that helps me sew (and knit) more clothes I’ll actually wear, put all my thinking about sewing into action, AND make me a more social sewist? I’m jumping in with both feet! Plus, I have a suspicion it will also tie in to one of my non-crafting goals, cleaning out my closet. A win-win, really.

If you want the long version, here’s the complete list of my goals for the year, for accountability’s sake.

1) Sew at least one piece of clothing for myself a month. This goal is inline with what I’ve done over my first few months of sewing, so I think it’s attainable, and leaves ongoing “crafting space,” as it were, for gifts and knitting. (And weaving. Did I mention I got this awesome loom for Christmas?) I’m not shooting for an RTW fast or all me-made wardrobe, here, but I’d like to keep making pieces I can wear proudly at more than a snail’s pace, and have at least some fodder for the blog. And I think this level of productivity would also give me the time to learn more about fitting as I go. (Blergh, just remembered my promised Anna FBA post. Working on it!)

2) Work through my knitting UFOs/stash. Guys. I have a confession to make.  I have a LOT of yarn. And a lot of projects I’ve started and not finished, to varying stages of doneness. I need to finish some of these projects, and I need to knit (or weave!) some of this yarn. This goal actually has a corollary, which is to in part achieve this by sewing myself a sweater. I’ve never completed an adult garment (well, I made a shrug once, but it was all lacy and fast), but I have the yarn and the skills; this is my year to finally find the patience to do it!

3) Focus on sewing/knitting for my personal style. I think that all of the garments I’ve made so far meet this goal, but some of the patterns and fabric I’ve been hoarding buying (see number 5 on this list) definitely don’t. Going forward, I am going to focus on looking for inspiration from current fashions I might actually want to buy, working with patterns I already have (because I have a lot) to make my own versions, and filling holes in my wardrobe. My Sewing Ideas pinboard on Pinterest gives you a flavor of what I’m thinking, and that flavor is Anthropologie. (If you’ve met me this is no shock.) Take a look!

4) Become a more social sewist. I follow a lot of sewing and knitting blogs, Pinterest pages, and Twitter/Instagram feeds, but I’m only just starting to use social media sites for my own projects and (believe it or not) actually get kind of shy about commenting on the blogs of others. I’ve even been nervous about joining sew-alongs, which is admittedly crazy. I think it’s just that I’ve never really met people online before, so it’s a new thing for me, but I really do want to be part of the online sewing community and build my blog readership. Gotta get over my cold feet! I’d also like to grow my offline crafting community. I have an erstwhile crafting circle drawn from my girlfriends, which I’d like to continue and maybe even shore up a little (you read it here first, ladies). Plus now that I’ve “gone public” with this blog at work, crafty ladies are coming out of the woodwork, and I think it would be great to tap into that, so plans are afoot. Also, are there ever sewing meet-ups in the Baltimore-DC area? I’m going to have to do some research on this one!

5) Less thinking/reading/buying, more doing. I don’t know about you, but I spend a LOT of time thinking about things to make, reading blogs, and (gulp) buying fabric, patterns, and other supplies. I’ve learned a ton and have come up with some great ideas (not that I’ve executed them yet), but it’s a LOT more time than I actually spend sewing or knitting. It’s also taking away from me maintaining this blog. I’m not crazy about this trend–crafting has taken over my life with little to show for it. (Except these awesome socks. If I hadn’t gone to Joann’s to waste more time yesterday, some one else would have these Be Mine Porcupine Valentine’s Day socks, and I’d be SOL.) If I want to meet any other goals for 2014, I need to get better with my crafty time management!

How about you? Are you thinking of joining in with Wardrobe Architect? Or, for the uncrafty among you, any recent awesome sock acquisitions?

An Anna dress for all seasons, except probably not winter

Hello, dearest readers! I’m wrapping up a short holiday break from work, which means more sewing and more blogging! I got a new friend for Christmas, and she’s here to help me introduce you to my latest and happiest dressmaking adventure, the By Hand London Anna dress:

BHL Anna dress

That’s right, I am the proud owner of a dress form! I have named her Bluebell (we’ll see if it sticks), and I’m pretty excited to have her. It would have been nice if she had been in my life for dear Anna’s construction, as there was A LOT of fitting and tweaking involved, and when you are your own fit model, you end up doing a lot of sewing in your underwear. Here’s to a future of sewing fully clothed! Anyway. Let’s talk about the dress, shall we?

The gals over at BHL call this dress “effortless,” and I’ve seen many a well fitted version floating around the internets, but for me things were quite a bit more…effortful. Not in terms of construction per se (which was made even easier by leaving out the zipper) or ease of wearing (truly a great design), but certainly in terms of fit. In my attempts to get this little number to both fit and flatter, I went through 4 (!) bodice muslins and made some major edits to the skirt. Worth it for a great fit, but woof. I’m going to focus on the fit issues in a later post about the full bust adjustment I ended up settling on, but suffice it to say that I learned with this project that even if a pattern matches your measurements, a good fit is not guaranteed.

In addition to the bust adjustment (Cliffs notes version: I lengthened the bust by 2 inches and added a 2 inch side seam dart), I also raised the waist by 1/2 inch to account for my short waist. I probably could have gone a little higher but I didn’t want to truncate the bust pleats too much. In the end, I think the fit through the bodice turned out really well.

Anna dress, front

Anna dress, back

Looking at this second photo, I think the back is still a little long, or perhaps in need of a swayback adjustment? I would not be surprised if this is my next fitting challenge, but I’m going to ignore that extra fold of fabric until I fully conquer the whole bust adjustment business. For the time being, I’m proud enough of the fit I was able to achieve.

Then we come to the skirt; this is where I was rather worried about flattery. My first skirt bodice confirmed that the hip-skimming design just did not work for me. I have admired many an Anna with an alternate skirt (this and this are particular favorites), but I wanted to maintain the paneled skirt because I like the look. And I REALLY didn’t want to totally redraft the pieces to create a fuller skirt. With those parameters, what’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you what this girl did: she trimmed 2 1/2 vertical inches off the skirt at the waist seam. This created a skirt that was probably 4 inches wider than the bodice, so some easing/gathering was required, but it gave the skirt just the fullness I wanted around the upper hip. This plus raising the waist did result in a skirt slightly shorter than I’d envisioned, so if/when I make another Anna I will need to add some length to the bottom of the skirt, but it’s certainly not indecently short, so I’m satisfied. The view below probably best shows the final length.

BHL Anna dress

The fabric is a lovely, buttery Joel Dewberry rayon that I picked up at the delightful Finch Sewing Studio in Leesburg with this dress in mind, and on a return trip I noted that the owner Nicole had made up an Anna floor sample in the very same fabric, proving that great minds do think a like. (To answer a few questions: yes, as in Leesburg, Virginia, and yes, I have driven there twice for the sole purpose of visiting this shop, and yes, I know I am crazy, but it’s totally worth it. Go there, you will not regret it.)

I bought the pattern this fall thinking I’d take part in the Anna sew-along, which given my schedule at the time was laughable, but the fabric was selected with a fall dress in mind. That was itself a stretch. After construction actually started, I briefly convinced myself it could be a holiday dress, but the length, weight of the fabric, and short sleeves ultimately have put this dress solidly into the spring-summer (and maybe fall) wardrobe.

That did not stop me, though, from getting dolled up and making my sister brave the subfreezing temperatures for a Christmas day photoshoot. It was cold (see picture 3), but at least my theatrical shivering pose took my hands off my hips for once. Though I suppose everyone needs a signature pose, and “arms akimbo” is certainly more fun to say than most. Please ignore my dayglo white legs.

Anna dress triptych

Ack, I just love this dress so much, and styling it was so fun. Maybe I can reclaim it for winter with a nice cardigan and woolly tights? Never say never.

Stay tuned for the aforementioned FBA post later this week (non-sewing friends, you might want to skip this one, unless you’re eager to learn about adjusting sewing patterns for an…ample bosom). And with that, I leave you with perhaps my favorite pic from the frigid photo session. Hope you had a very merry Christmas and wishing you a fantastic New Years!

Anna dress holiday greeting

And so the baby sewing begins…

I don’t know about you, but I know quite a few folks who are having babies lately. In the past, knitting has been my baby gifting jam (see this post to get an idea). When I started sewing again this spring, though my mind was immediately filled with thoughts of all the baby sewing I could get up to, and the internets are FULL of inspiration on that front. I quickly discovered Oliver + S patterns, and an obsession was born. (I should have an entire post someday about how Liesl Gibson is my hero, both sewing-wise and professionally, because she is. Seriously.) All I had to wait for was some one to pop out a girl baby, and I was good to go.

Well, some of those girl babies have popped out (ew?), and so the baby sewing has commenced. In preparation for this moment, I bought several patterns in a sale a few months ago, and promptly hit up a quilting fabric sale at Joann, so I currently have patterns and fabric ready for about five Oliver + S dresses (obsession, I told you).  In an effort to ease my way into things, I chose one of Oliver + S’s “one scissor” offerings, the Seashore Dress:

(c) Liesl + Co

I have to say, what attracted me to the pattern most of all was the bloomers, and the precious coordination possibilities. Plus the treasure pockets. Here’s what I came up with in my first outing:

Seashore dress and bloomers

I really have to get better at my photography and photo editing skills, but c’est la vie. New Year’s resolution. Anyway, I was pretty pleased with myself on the coordination here. I was less pleased with myself for cutting the fronts and back for the bloomers in two different orientations (back upside down), but I had enough fabric to recut the front only, so I just went for it and embraced imperfection. Otherwise the bloomers didn’t disappoint (and the suggested ribbon “tag” to tell the back from the front is pretty cute, too).

Seashore bloomers

There were a few firsts for me in this pattern. The main new skill was buttonholes. Actually, I would technically estimate these to be my 34th and 35th buttonholes, because I was so anxious about the entire buttonhole scenario that I made approximately 3 dozen practice ones. I think my confidence was initially shaken by a classic “failing to read the buttonholer instructions” incident, but rebounded with the aforementioned practice, and I think the end result was worth it. This was also more gathering than I’d done in other projects, best illustrated by the back view. Made easy by the excellent instructions!

Seashore dress, back

Looking at these sad, flat photos, I realize that my photos would be exponentially cuter if there were an actual little girl occupying these clothes, but since this has yet to be gifted, you, dear readers, are stuck sans baby. Also, this is obviously a summer outfit completed in the dead of winter, and in a size that won’t fit your average 4-month-old (it’s the 12-18 month size, for the record). I actually agonized a LOT about which size to make for this peanut who will be about a year old when Seashore dress weather rolls around. My pediatric training has been sadly lacking in children’s clothing sizing, and at one point I became convinced this was going to be far too large for this summer, so I took the dress on a frantic field trip to Target for some comparisons, and it seemed right on par with the commercial 12-18 month dresses. (Liesl, how could I have doubted you?!?) Since it seems most babies are on the bigger side these days, and a too small outfit isn’t of much use to anyone, I’m hoping this was the right way to go. Only time will tell. One last look at the dress before it gets packaged for gifting:

Seashore dress, front

I’m in the midst of a quieter spell at work, and that plus a few days off for the holidays means more sewing, knitting, and (hopefully) blogging. Up next on the blogging docket are a few little knits I’ve just finished, more baby sewing (shower ahead) and, sewing gods willing, a v-neck Anna dress I’m planning to have ready for holiday festivities. I have already made four (4!!!) bodice muslins for this bad girl, but I think the end is finally in sight. Ooh, AND I have some sewing field trips/fabric safaris to document. Busy busy, see you back here soon!

Everyday Skirt Goes Minion–A Belated Halloween Post

Hello again friends, it’s been too long! This blogging stuff is hard work, especially when work gets crazy. But I have been doing at least a little sewing, so let’s talk about it!

First things first, let’s take the way-back machine all the way back to All Hallow’s Eve Eve (AKA the night before Halloween). Like many a procrastinating crafter before me, you would have found me up far too late working on this little number:

Slightly blurry minion.

Sorry for the image quality, but this was an all iPhone kind of photo shoot in the hallway at clinic, so what you see is what you get! Anyway, the more astute of you may recognize this as Liesl Gibson’s new Everyday Skirt pattern turned into–and here I’m giving myself away as a pediatrician–a Despicable Me minion costume. (The slightly less astute may have been tipped off by the subject of this post.) I had just downloaded the pattern before Halloween, and I wanted to make up a muslin anyway, so I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and make a minion costume AND a muslin. Despite the late-night sewing involved (this is what happens when you start such a project at 8 pm), I think it turned out pretty well.

I thought the skirt looked a little full for my taste, so despite my measurements saying XL, I went with the large, and I think it was a good choice. When I make up my final version, I think I will extend the back panel a tiny bit wider so there is more gathering around the back elastic, but otherwise I don’t plan on any adjustments to the pattern. And the very deep hem was a bit of a lazy choice, but something I’ll plan to repeat because it is one of my favorite parts of the finished product. That and the side panels. Ooh, and the pockets.

Enjoying the pockets. And making a crazy face, as usual.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the fabric; it’s a very lightweight denim I got on the cheap using some Joann’s coupons, but it turned out much softer than I thought it would. As for the mods I did to make it minion-tastic, they were pretty simple: I cut out a rectangle and hemmed the edges for the front of the pinafore, and then added to straps that I crossed in the back (not pictured, sorry!). I sewed the front panel and the straps to the waistband et voila! I did not get up the gumption to do 3 am buttonholes, though, so the straps are fastened with velcro dots (with dummy buttons for effect). In an effort to win a costume contest (we did!), I actually organized it for my whole team to come as minions:

SO many minions.

We were quite the celebrities around the hospital, let me tell you. I bought the supplies for the goggles (canning jar lids and elastic, if you were wondering) and logos (self-stick felt, where have you been all my life), a few extra yellow hats, and pipe cleaners for hair. Then the day before Halloween, some of my med students set up an assembly line putting the accessories together (educational, I know; I swear they volunteered!). We’re a bit of a rag tag crew, but the effect was really cute overall.

As a teaser for future posts, where there is muslin there must be another project, so of course there’s another Everyday Skirt in the works. I’ve also just finished up my first baby dress (dying of cuteness) AND I’ve even nearly conquered my Sorbetto FBA self-tutorial. Add to that materials for an BHL Anna dress and knit Staple Dress burning a hole in my stash, and I have a lot of sewing/blogging ahead of me, so watch this space!

Endless Summer dress

OMGs, friends, how did it get to be October already?!? Though the calendar says it’s fall, until pretty recently it seemed like the weather didn’t quite get the memo and summer was here to stay. Just in time for what seems like a beautiful fall day (can’t say I’ve seen i for myself, what with working the day away, though obviously not so hard that I’m precluded from blog updating), though, I’m posting a truly summery garment I made quite a while ago. In fact, it’s a me-made version of my absolute favorite dress of the summer, this little number from Target:

Sourcing this image, I’ve just learned that my Dress of the Summer is *actually* a juniors garment. So not necessarily designed with a woman of my advanced years in mind, but no matter. I loved it so much I bought it in two colors. And then I loved it so much I decided to make my own.


This was a pretty easy make, and one of the projects from my fall sewing list. I made a few small modifications from the original pattern, which is McCalls 6744. First, the pattern is designed for knits, but I used this Robert Kaufman dotted chambray that was all over the internets this summer. The pattern certainly has enough ease that it worked for me without any adjustments. I love this fabric so (too?) much–it is soft and light and so comfortable I may have accidentally worn this dress to bed. Twice. Really a great fabric.

The second change from my original plan (which was to use bias binding on the edges of the sleeves and racerback) was just a simple narrow hem. This was great practice working with a double fold narrow hem (without stretching the heck out of everything). I’m not sure the shape of the racerback ended up being the most flattering–it just seems a little out of proportion to me–but the hem worked out pretty well.


Finally, in a tribute to the Target inspiration garment, I drafted (okay, drafting is a strong word for what I did, but it was done off-pattern) a faux button placket for the bodice of the dress. Not gonna lie, pretty proud of myself. And it even looks pretty straight.


That’s my excited face. I had my heart set on purple buttons, and the only ones I could find in my limited button stash were these kind of country casual daisy buttons, but the color was right so I just went for them. They are absolutely my least favorite part about the dress, but can be easily changed so I’m sticking with it.

So there you have it, a summer dress shared on a (decidedly) fallish day. How about you–still digging out from your summer sewing (and knitting, equal opportunity here), or are you more seasonally appropriate than I?

Sara’s Fall Sewing School

All around the internets, it seems that people are talking about their fall sewing plans, so I figured I’d join in. I’m not sure how autumnal most of these projects are (though who can blame me with today’s 97 degree temperatures?!), in part because I spent all summer making a mental catalog of all the things I wanted to sew, and I have quite a backlog!

So instead of focusing on sewing for the season, I’ve selected these projects based on two principles: things I’d like to wear, and things I’d like to learn. With these two guiding principles in mind, I think I’ve come up with a sewing plan that will keep me busy for the next few months, teach me a ton, and spruce up the old wardrobe. Let’s check out the list, shall we? We shall!

Lesson 1: Dotty chambray tank dress

The fabric: Dotty Robert Kaufman Union Chambray

The pattern: M6744 (except with the racerback), view B (c) McCall’s

This is probably the most summery (summeriest?) project in the works, given its very lightweight fabric and racerback cut. But it’s also the closest to being ready to wear this Indian summer, with the pattern traced and cut out. Instead of the narrow hem in the pattern, I’m planning on finishing the neck and arm holes/racerback with bias tape facing. I’m also thinking of adding a faux button placket to add some interest to the front.

Skills to be practiced: so much bias tape facing, making my own bias tape

Lesson 2: Mo’ chambray, no problem shirt dress

The fabric: RK Union Chambray in slub indigo

The pattern: M6520, view A (c) McCall’s

Can you tell I’ve been on a bit of a chambray kick? I’m planning on making up view A (or maybe B if I choose to embrace the season) in this Robert Kaufman slub chambray. My biggest concern is it might turn into a bit of a sack given the relative lack of fitting, but I like the shirttail hem and open neckline, so I’m going for it!

Skills to be practiced: buttonholes!

Lesson 3: Parenthetical potpourri skirt

The fabric: Anna Maria Horner field study linen/cotton blend

I’d been drooling over this fabric for months, but it wasn’t until I saw this skirt (which I could not love more) in the Hawthorn sew-a-long contest, that I knew I had to make it mine. I’m still undecided on what pattern to use, though I have two main ideas. One is a slightly less full version of Tilly’s Picnic Blanket skirt, which would be more buttonhole practice and keep the waistband element of the inspiration skirt. The other idea I had was to do an A-line with a few interesting design details, like this number with a fly front and contoured waistband:

The pattern: M6361, view D (also, what’s with her bracelet?!?) (c) McCall’s

I have to say, this doesn’t seem to be the most modern cut, a suspicion confirmed by reading some reviews of the pattern, but I think that if I lower the waist by an inch or two it should update this classic design a good bit. Will certainly be making a muslin for this!

Skills to be practiced: either more buttonholes or a fly front with zipper insertion

Lesson 4: Sorbetto fitting school

The pattern: Colette Pattern’s Sorbetto (c) Colette Patterns

I’ve already made two sorbetto tanks (yet to be blogged) in two different sizes, and neither of them fit. Woes. I gave up in a fit of pique. I knew enough to know what I needed to solve the problem: a full bust adjustment. But I just got overwhelmed at the mere thought. So before I make more garments that are fitted through bust, I know that I must embrace the FBA. With its simple construction and just one dart , I figure the Sorbetto is a great place to start. I’ve bought Kathleen Cheetham’s Adjust the Bust class on Craftsy and a few fun Lisette cotton voiles on clearance at Joann’s, so once I get my nerve up, I’m ready to go!

Skills to be practiced: did I mention I need to embrace the full bust adjustment?

Final exam: Fabric TBD Traveler dress

The pattern: Lisette Traveler dress (S2246), view A, (c) Liesl and Co, Inc.

I have a passion for a good shirtdress (see lesson 2), and this one is no exception. In fact, this is the first sewing pattern I ever bought, and I think it will be such a wearable garment for me. It will also be a nice place to bring together the skills I’ll have practiced in the earlier projects, especially those buttonholes and fit adjustments. I have a few fabrics in my stash that would work, but I may also pick something totally different that says fall. An excuse for more fabric shopping!

And there you have it! A solid, if ambitious, plan for sewing and learning. And there are so many ideas that didn’t make it into this list. We’ll just have to see if I stick with it or if other projects make their way in (I’m sure they will).

How about you? Any suggestions for great, wearable patterns for building sewing skills?