Friday, August 29, 2014

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

So this is not what I originally bought this fabric for.

I used to work in a fairly, um, trendy [read: hipster] neighborhood in LA, Atwater Village. It wasn't THE center of the hipster universe, but it was a little like hipster suburbia. It was where all the hipsters lived when they grew up and had families. The babies were dressed impeccably - I once saw a little toddler dude with a fauxhawk wearing skinny jeans and a man-tank than said "Brooklyn" on it. I also met a baby named Otis that wore bow ties.

Don't misunderstand, it was actually my favorite neighborhood I lived in in LA. I could walk to work and there was a weekly farmer's market at the end of my street. The little two blocks of the main drag was mostly rad small businesses. There was an organic market, a top notch bakery, a perfect boutique, a dance exercise studio, a fabric store AND a yarn store, a wine store with an underground tasting room, and multiple other good bars and restaurants. It was a good place.

Anyway, me and my coworker Haley would often see outfits/people that would require a small discussion, and one repeated sighting was Incredibly Unflattering Pants. They were always some sort of billowy, crazy printed fabric that was just shirred in around the top and then went to skinny at the ankles, and no matter the size of the wearer they always created a giant marshmallow butt.

We would wonder - to ourselves of course - how can you wear those pants that are so unflattering? How can you stand there so calmly with your iced coffee and cold pressed juice, while the folds of fabric around your hips and thighs billow in the LA traffic wind? And, why do I kind of also want a pair of these pants so I can look cool too?

We decided that we each wanted our own pair, since they would be super easy to make. So I bought some of this beautiful olive green rayon from Sew LA.

And then it sat in a box of a year.

I never did make myself a pair of Incredibly Unflattering Pants, which I can say with absolute certainty is a good thing, because without the supporting cast of fancy juice, well placed tattoos, and mild apathy, I don't think I could pull it off.

Instead, I found myself wanting to make a new nice-ish skirt for a little something special. I saw the Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt on a few different blogs, and thought it would be the perfect pattern. I've been rambling on lately about wanting to sew more neutrals, so I was looking at all my printed rayons and hesitating and then I remembered the olive green unflattering pants yardage. Bam!

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

Let me start by saying that I love the final result. It feels so floaty and twirly and forest-nymph-like. The baby hem gives the edge such a nice ripply look. My waist and hips are 27-38 and I cut a small.

After reading other people's experiences, I knew I was probably going to shorten it a bit in the back. It is crazy long. But I ended up shortening this mofo three separate times. I started with the pattern pieces by taking 6" off the center back, to 3" at the side seams, to 1" at the front. [This also helped me squeeze it out of less than 2 yards.] Then after it was cut I took another couple inches off the back and side. The pattern is a pretty dramatic hi-lo, which was a little too much for me. Then after I hemmed it and tried it on, there were two weird lobes of fabric to either side of the center front that were too long - and yes, you should feel uncomfortable by the word 'lobe' because my skirt was uncomfortable to look at - so I unpicked part of the hem, trimmed them, and then rehemmed.

The final result was that somehow it's slightly shorter in the center back than at the sides of the back, which is definitely not how it was originally. But it's evenly too short, and since the whole thing is different lengths and flouncy I'm totally ok with it.

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

I might have gone online and ordered a rolled hem foot in the middle of doing THE LONGEST BABY HEM IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE. Or maybe that was just part of my mid-hem hallucinations. The part of the hem that ripped out and redid does not look the greatest at the beginning and end, but only other sewers will notice if they look closely. So when I wear it around the seamster types I'll just have to stay in a constant state of motion.

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

I wanted to do the waistband ties but I didn't have enough fabric, so I did the button version. Which is probably more versatile in the end.

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

Word of caution - in the wind, the front of this skirt totally blows open. So I will probably hand tack it shut right where the two sides overlap to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions.

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

As for the t-shirt - this awesome buffalo check jersey is from Wanderlust Fabrics. It was lovely to work with and feels great and is printed on grain. This might be my most favorite t-shirt I've ever had. It's part of a very special thing I've been working on that I will be talking about soon!

And thanks to Nancy from The Fabric Studio Nashville for taking the pictures! No remote for once!

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kitten Head Camera Bag

Kitten Head Camera Bag

Why are bags for electronics so depressing? Laptops, cameras, 'pads and 'phones. It seems like 90% of them are solid black. Why?? Ok I understand, it doesn't show dirt, it's neutral, etc, etc. BUT YOU CAN'T SEE ANYTHING INSIDE OF IT. What about all the other solid neutral colors that aren't black? What about those?

Frustrated with the camera bag choices on the market, I took matters into my own hands, leapt well past neutral into the realm of Kitten Head.

Kitten Head Camera Bag

This pattern is this one from an Etsy shop called Watermelon Wishes. I literally was searching for "camera bag pdf" and it led me to this. As it says, it's more of a tutorial than pattern - there are just cutting dimensions and then instructions - but it was exactly what I was looking for.

I like that it's smaller than a normal camera bag. It's the perfect size for my camera, charger and spare battery, and remote. So great for whenever I just want my camera and not my extra lenses and other accessories.

Plus did I mention it isn't black?

From every angle there is a fragment of a kitten face staring out at you. It's weird and I like it. Look at these eyes.

Kitten Head Camera Bag

There is an elasticized pocket on one side, although thus far I've been a little worried to put anything in it for fear of falling out.

Kitten Head Camera Bag

The much more usable pocket is a zippered one under the main flap. It's a more than ample space for the charger, battery and remote.

UPDATE: The zipper is something that I added myself. It's not part of the pattern but was easy to install!

Kitten Head Camera Bag

There are snaps on the sides that give the bag its triangular shape [also look at all the kitten eyes SO WEIRD].

Kitten Head Camera Bag

But when they are unsnapped, it gets very roomy!

Kitten Head Camera Bag

There's literally room for my DSLR camera and nothing else in the main compartment. But that's all you need!

Kitten Head Camera Bag

When I snap the sides around the camera, it is so snug and cozy in there, and it feels very protected. Each side and bottom panel has eight - EIGHT - layers of batting AND a layer of peltex sewn into it. The pattern called for foam, which I didn't have, but I DID have batting and peltex, and I was being thrifty.

Kitten Head Camera Bag

And look at this little guy on the bottom!

Kitten Head Camera Bag

I actually made this a while ago, and it's only now making it to the blog. The fabric is an ultimate favorite of mine. It's a Japanese linen/cotton blend that I bought at the now-closed Urban Craft Center have tried desperately to find online, but have failed. The selvage says "project by cotton japan". If any of you find it online I will give you my firstborn kitten.

I have to be honest, I feel a little ridiculous carrying this around.

But at least it isn't black.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Evolution of a Fabric Stash

I equate having a perfectly organized fabric stash to a state of sewing nirvana that is unachievable in this lifetime. Maybe heaven is a giant room filled with shelves of fabric that are always perfectly folded to be the same size, and are somehow simultaneously organized by fiber content, in ascending yardage and also color order. Is this even possible? Don't you dare say that it is.

A few days ago, in an effort to make more room in my plastic fabric boxes and to get rid of some stuff I knew I was probably never gonna use, I set up a destash account on Instagram [@missmake_destash if you wanna follow!] and sold some things. It felt GOOD.

I love looking through my fabric stash. I'm a really visual person, and that's how I remember things. If we have a conversation, I might not remember all of it in a month [sadly], and I am TERRIBLE with names after people introduce themselves to me. But when I look at my fabric I remember exactly where every single one is from, why I bought it and the shopping experience of picking it out.  Maybe I should pin a piece of fabric to everyone's shirt when I meet them [although I still wouldn't remember their name, I would just be like, oh you're Robert Kaufman Laguna Jersey in Pepper.]

In the midst of rolling around in my fabric stash pressing and folding the destash orders, I looked down at the stack of my most recently bought fabrics that were waiting to find a home, and they looked so different than the quilty rainbow explosion I was surrounded by that I had to take a picture of the contrast.

Here's some of what I'm destashing:


[Let it be known that there are fabrics in this picture that I still love, they are just too small to really do anything with. And also sometimes you just gotta let go and make room for the new.]

I think it's pretty easy to tell that quilting is what first roped me into sewing seriously as an adult ['murican flag calico, anyone?]. I liked picking and pairing colors and prints, and the fact that you only had to buy a quarter or half yard of something to use it. I've always felt like making a quilt was like making a big, pretty, snuggly collage.

Buuuut now I make clothes! Here's that new stack that was waiting to be put away, all things I've gotten pretty recently:


A leeeetle different, no?

And because if I were reading, I'd want to know, here's what they all are:

1. floral rayon challis for a TBD tank/shirt 2. gray stretch twill for a cigarette pant, possibly clover? 3. acid wash jegging knit(!!) for jeggings, duh 4. melon jersey for a tshirt 5. black rayon challis for a TBD tank/shirt 6. rayon jersey for a pair of anima pants 7. buffalo plaid jersey for a tshirt 8. floral rayon jersey for a tshirt 9. striped double knit from a pair of anima pants [from The Fabric Studio] 10. gold metallic woven fabric for a clutch [from The Fabric Studio] 11. striped tissue knit for a hemlock [from Britex] 12. motorcycle jersey for a tshirt 13. striped rayon sweater knit for a cardigan/wrap 14. striped jerseyfrom a myrtle 15. rayon challis for TBD tank/shirt [from Wanderlust, out of stock]

I like how these pictures don't look like the same person bought all the fabric, but when you see them side by side they still kind of make sense together on some level:


Has your stash changed over time? What do you keep and what do you part with? Do you ever look at fabric you bought a long time ago and what what the hell you where thinking?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

I've had workout pants on my list of things to make for a while now, because a) why not and b) I'd like to have choices other than black or neon. These are the Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings, and I am calling them my Rainbow Sparkle Pants of Awesome. They are not actually sparkly, but I feel sparkly when I wear them. I think it is likely that, as I huff through the neighborhood, any unicorns and fairies that happen to be in the vicinity will see my pants and have no choice but to join me. I will be like a pied piper of sparkly, mythical creatures.

Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

I loved the pattern! My measurement were exactly the same as the XS, so that's what made. The PDF went together fine, and since there are a lot of pieces none of them were that big, and I just cut them out as I went so there was no major paper wrangling. 

 Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

I did as the instructions suggested and basted the accent stripes on the side seam together, and when I did they lined up perfectly. But then after I serged them they were off a little. Bummer. Luckily they are surrounded by a pastel rainbow so it's not so noticeable.

Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

I think everything is pretty ok fit wise. They're a little long on me, not ridiculously so but they could stand to be shortened. I think for the next pair I'm going to end them right at the bottom of the back knee accent thing, for better ventilation while accomplishing great feats of athleticism.

Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

I skipped the interior pocket [it was supposed to go on the center back] just because I didn't think I'd ever use it. Also the pattern called for 3/4" elastic, which I didn't have, but I wanted to finish the pants RIGHT NOW so I just used 1" and it was fine. I like wider elastic better anyway because it feels less muffin top-y when you wear it.

I used a wide zig zag to stitch down the waistband and hem the bottoms, because to be honest I've been experiencing some twin needle fatigue recently, and I'm just sick of using them. I hate switching it out and rethreading. I actually considered getting out my old machine to set up just to be a twin needle it worth the table space?? Is that more or less work?

Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

Ok I know this next picture is ridiculous. This is apparently what I look like while trying to jump. I was trying to do something athletic. But I'm including it because it's the only one where you can see the top of the back. THAT IS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU.

Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

Let's talk about the fabric, or my failure thus far to successfully find workout pant fabric. Despite its unicorn-attracting properties, it's actually not so great, not quality wise but just appropriateness. It's basically swimwear fabric. It's slinky and really stretchy and SEE THROUGH, and when I put it on it makes me instantly feel clammy. I think I'll have to save the unicorn charming for cooler weather.

I have found it really hard to shop for activewear fabric online because I don't really know what I'm looking for. I have these workout pants from Target that I'm trying to emulate that are some kind of synthetic jersey, but they're softer and slightly thicker and fuzzier(?) than like a spandex bike short material. It seems like every online listing for workout fabric says something to the effect, "for dance, activewear, yoga pants, blouses, dresses." That is not helpful. Also who is using the same fabric for all those things?

Does anyone have any specific fabrics to recommend? Melissa actually has a very comprehensive list of where to buy activewear fabric on the Fehr Trade website [this fabric is from Spandex by Yard], which was super helpful, but you still never know what something will feel like when you're looking at a website.

Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

I had to buy a yard of each fabric, so I have lots left over of the navy. I think I'll make another pair, just reversed, despite the clam-factor.

Also, thanks everyone for chiming in on my last post about my partial fail shorts! I so appreciate all your suggestions and feedback!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Partial Fail: Kwik Sew 3854


Ok so. Here are some shorts I made. They're Kwik Sew 3854.

I can't decide about them. I think they might be a fail. Not necessarily a Sewing Fail, but a Project Choice Fail, a Not the Most Flattering Fail, a Will Probably Never Wear Outside the House Fail.

Let's start with the pattern envelope.


I know that illustration on the left is terrifying. But I saw could see through those aggressive pleats that were ready to devour my thighs. I saw potential. They made me think of vintage sailor ladies. In the shorter length they could be cute, right?

Well...from the front they make me think of my fourth grade teacher, who was awesome, but every day wore high waisted pleated shorts and opaque white tights with a turtleneck and sweater vest.


Also, those little triangles are leather, which I thought would be a cute detail because there is topstitching there, and I don't know, ok? But now when I look at them, all I can see is A FACE. And it is weeping.

And then from the back...I use the term Vintage Bootyshorts. My mom said she thought Hot Pants was more accurate. I suppose it depends on the individual.


I know they aren't even that crazy short, but the hem is just so full. I had to sew the pleats down, because with the stiffness of the hem the bottom edge was hanging at least six inches away from my butt. It was DRAFTY.

Should I maybe wear them with my shirt untucked?


No, don't think so.

From some angles - and maybe from a distance? - I like these.


But then other angles? I just don't know! Maybe they're just outside my comfort zone.


What do you guys think?


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