Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

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If someone told me three years ago that someday I would willingly post detailed pictures of myself in a bathing suit on the internet, I would have scoffed at them and then worried about what my life had become. But in the name of sewing, and because of all the brave souls that did this before me, here are pictures of me in my finished Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit.

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Seeing everyone else's cute bathing suits made me finally hop on the Bombshell train and make one [they are all so cute!!], but I actually bought this pattern like a year ago. Since then there's been a half finished Bombshell mocking me from the pile of wadded-up unfinished things laying in a heap under my cutting table. But I didn't cut the right size, I was rushing and didn't use thread that matched very well, so I finally relegated that sad little failure to the trash can and started over. I even reprinted and reassembled the PDF. Serious business.

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The second attempt went much better. I used a black and white polka dot from Spandex World that I ordered erroneously for a pair of leggings, but when I got it it was slippery and weird so I decided it should become a bathing suit. I don't really know if it's officially swimwear fabric but it seemed to work out ok.

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For my first time making swimwear, I must say things went pretty well. I didn't have trouble understanding the instructions and assembly-wise everything made sense. There were a couple parts where I had to re-read a few times and then just blindly follow but that's just because it was my first time making it.

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I opted to add a shelf bra with foam cups because, like Lauren, I don't want nippage at the beach, and I wanted the shelf for extra support. The fabric I used was fabric that I bought because I thought the pantyhose-nude color meant it was swimsuit lining, but my awesome co-worker-at-the-time Haley, who knows more about such things, informed me gently that it was not and picked some up for me while she was shopping. So it's actually just horribly colored swimwear fabric. Like seriously who would want a bathing suit that color?? But it worked great for the shelf bra.

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To make it, I just cut the top 6" of the swimsuit lining pattern piece, stretched and zigzagged a piece of 1/2" elastic to the bottom, and stole a pair of foam cups from an old swimsuit that I don't wear any more. I smooshed them down onto the bra and zig zagged around all the edges. Then I just incorporated it as another layer around the top. It was pretty easy! Make sure you try the thing on to figure out where to attach the cups so you don't accidentally give yourself any deformities.

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Size wise, my measurements are 33-27-38, so I cut from 6 at the bust to 8 at the waist to 10 at the hips. Those sizes are a little under my measurements but I definitely didn't want it too big. The fit is great everywhere, although I cut the length at the bottom at the size 10 and I think it's too long on me. There are little droopy bits of fabric at the back bottom. If I were to make it again I would cut a size or two smaller there.

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One thing I didn't do was serge around the edges that get elastic attached and folded to the inside. Partly this was because I was worried it would be too bulky, but mostly it was because by this point it was really late at night and I just wanted to finish.

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I love the retro glam look of this bathing suit, and it's really, really flattering. Like everyone else has said, you really do feel great in it. I would love to make another one but I wear a bathing suit approximately 1.5 times a year so I don't know if I will. But hm, maybe I should re-evaluate my life priorities.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tutorial: How to Clean Finish Armholes and Neckline

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Today I have a quick little tutorial for you to show you how I clean finished both the neckline and the armholes of my Colette Moneta Peplum.

When making the sleeveless version of the Moneta [V1], the bodice lining is used in a nifty little way to give the armhole edges a clean finish. The neckline is finished by attaching the collar. If you'd prefer not to have a collar, however, you can follow a few simple steps to finish the neckline with the lining. This tutorial can work for pretty much any simple knit bodice.

First, trim 1/8" off of the neckline and armhole edges of your lining pieces. This will make the lining roll to the inside of the finished garment.

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Now sew your shoulder and side seams of both your shell and lining.

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Turn the shell right side out. Stuff the shell inside the lining so that right sides are together and line up the neckline edges. Start by aligning and pinning the shoulder seams, then work around the whole edge.

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Now sew the neckline edge.

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Flip the lining so that it is to the inside of the shell and the shell and lining are wrong sides together. From this point you can follow the pattern instructions and finish the armholes the same way. It will be a teeny bit harder because the neckline is sewn shut, but it's still totally possible.

For pictures of the armhole finishing process, check out this post in the Moneta sewalong [start with step 6]. There are tons of pictures there which is why I didn't repeat them all for this post.

You can also check out this video on the Coletterie for even more visuals of the armhole process.

Once you do the armholes, your bodice is done and so so squeaky clean!

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At this point you can just treat the bottom edges as one [I like to baste them together with a zig zag stitch] and continue on with attaching your skirt/peplum/whatever.

Comment below if you have any questions!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dolman Sleeve Top + Wanderlust Fabrics

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So I used to think dolman sleeves looked silly. But now I like them.

Good story?

I made this top yesterday because I have a severe lack of cute tops in my wardrobe. At least that's how it always feels when I get dressed. Like those things you need when you really want to feel like you're wearing a t-shirt, but look like you're wearing more than a t-shirt.

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I self drafted, which was pretty simple - the front and back are the same piece with different necklines. The cuffs and band are about 25% smaller than the edges they're attached to.

I put clear elastic in the shoulder seams to stabilize them, but my differential wasn't quite set properly and they got accidentally ruched a little. But I'm ok with it!

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And hey, where's that adorable super soft rayon knit from? Why, it's from my new sponsor, Wanderlust Fabrics! If you haven't gone to drool over their fabrics yet, then by all means, treat yourself. They carry really cute, high quality knits, rayons, and other apparel fabrics.

One of the cool things about Wanderlust [besides their fabric] is that when you order something, you get a bunch of little swatches of their fabrics. We all know how hard it is to shop online for apparel fabrics, so it's nice to be able to feel and touch. These are all from one order.

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And also LOOK AT THIS HORSE RAYON KNIT that I bought.

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As a horse lover I always think it's hard to find horse fabric that isn't juvenile or super cheese ball [just because you like horses doesn't mean you also like bandana print] but I think this one was a good find, no?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Grainline Studio Archer Shirt (Sleeveless)

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For the holiday weekend, I went on a road trip to a horse show in Georgia. Naturally, I decided I needed a new shirt. I've had the Grainline Studio Archer pattern for a long time, so I thought it was time to finally print it out and make it.

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The show was at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, which was built for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. It was beautiful and huge and a little bit eerie. We took pictures in the giant arena where they did the show jumping. Here's a video of the gold medal winner's run:


Everything was open and accessible and there wasn't a soul around. Maybe it's because the Walking Dead takes place around Atlanta, but I could totally imagine that place filling up with zombies.

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When making the Archer, I started by taking Jen's advice about how to convert it to a sleeveless number. If you just leave off the sleeves, the armscye will be way too big and will probably provide a major peekaboo for whatever is going on inside your shirt.

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Here's what all I ended up doing:

1. I removed 1" from the outside edge at the shoulder seam on both front and back, then blended it back to the bottom of the armscye.

2. The back armscye was too gapey on me, so I removed a 1.25" strip from the top edge of the lower back piece, all the way across.

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3. I wanted to add a little more fit, and the front armscye was gaping a bit, so I pinched out a dart at the armscye and then rotated it down into a bust dart [the original pattern doesn't have one]. This accomplished both things. Yay!

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4. I added a narrow bias waist tie because I like cinched in waists.

I'm so happy with how the inside looks too. There are no raw edges anywhere! I did french seams on the side seams to make them clean and finished. Everything else is covered by the yoke facing, collar stand and the binding on the armholes.

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I did have one extreme facepalm moment when attaching the collar. I was being so careful and so precise and got everything attached and topstitched and even under stitched. Oh what a good seamstress I was being! I would deserve an extra treat that night!

Until I realized that I attached everything with the undercollar on top.

This wasn't the worst mistake to make, and I decided to just take out the visible understitching and leave it, but it's still a little bit of a bummer. The undercollar has a center back seam, and the edge is rolling towards the undercollar as it should [which is now the collar], but the print is so busy you can't really tell. Oh well.

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There was one step where I was kinda confused on what to do - it's the last step of attaching the collar and collar stand. But luckily Jen has a video of that step in her Archer sewalong. After watching the video it was super easy!

The fabric is a Japanese cotton lawn from Yuwa that I used to line my Kwik Sew bomber jacket. The buttons are vintage buttons from Paris that my lovely friend Christine gave me.

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The horse show I went to, by the way, was a quarter horse show. A quarter horse is a specific breed, and quarter horse shows are totally different than the show jumping in the video. I used to show as a kid, and I did both English [the velvet helmet, jacket and tall boots] and Western [cowboy hat, chaps, lots of sparkle].

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Like anything, horse show outfits have trends and style changes over the years, and the Western outfits have gotten so bling-ed out since I showed. I mean, we had rhinestones back in the day, but today their outfits are COVERED in them. Like pounds and pounds of Swarovski.

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There are lots of different classes but they usually involve performing a pattern with specific maneuvers and/or riding around the rail at different gaits.

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This was the first time seeing show outfits since I really started sewing seriously, and man. They are cuh-razy. Aaaand I kind of want to make one?

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And so in my google quest about sewing show clothes, I found this company that makes equestrian sewing patterns [!!!!!!]. Stay tuned for a future blog post...

I went with my friend Kelly that I used to ride and show with. We haven't seen each other since we were about 14, but we both just happened to move to Nashville at the same time. She invited me to go hang out with our trainers for the weekend - who are still training - and it was so fun. Now I'm aching to show again. And an extra special thanks to Kelly for taking the pictures of me!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Grapefruit and Rosemary Champagne Punch

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It's been forever since I've posted a recipe, mostly because I've been doing a ton more sewing that I ever have and nothing really interesting in the kitchen. But I thought that as we approach the glorious holiday weekend ahead, a time of barbecues, parties and drunken encounters with recreational explosives, what better time to share this champagne punch recipe with you?

There is nothing patriotic about this punch. In it you will find no red, no white, no blue. But it is so good that you just might drink the entire dispensers worth [with help, of course...or not?] and then make a mid-party run to the liquor store across the street just so you can mix up another batch.

And maybe it could help fuel your oonapalooza sewing??

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I originally made this for my pal Christine Haynes' latest book party, and it was quite a hit. It is so refreshing and delicious and bubbly and has that best/worst quality of a good punch where you feel like you're not drinking but oh you are drinking. I made it right before but it would probably be extra good if you mixed everything but the champagne and let it steep overnight in the fridge. If you're serving it outside, you could freeze the grapefruit slices before adding them to keep it cool. Adjust the gin amount to make it more or less boozy.

So mix up a batch, set up your lawn chairs, and have a safe and fun holiday weekend!

Grapefruit and Rosemary Champagne Punch
1/2 1L bottle tanqueray [about 2 cups] or gin of choice
1 bottle Simply Grapefruit juice, chilled
2 bottles champagne of choice, chilled
1 batch rosemary simple syrup [recipe follows]
1 cut up grapefruit and rosemary sprigs for garnish

Mix gin, juice, cooled simple syrup, sliced grapefruit and rosemary in a large punch bowl or drink dispenser. Pour in champagne and mix gently. Enjoy!

Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
handful rosemary sprigs [3-4 large sprigs]

Mix water and sugar in a saucepan and bring just to boiling. Remove from heat and add rosemary. Let steep until cool. Remove rosemary and refrigerate until use.

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