Thursday, September 3, 2015

Class Alert: Anna Maria Horner Well Composed Blouse

Well Composed Blouse

So, why have I neglected my blog for so long? I've been:

A] finally achieving my dream of having a farm filled with only miniature animals
B] consoling Hootie after he learned he can never be the first cat in space [France sent the first cat to space, naturally]
C] assembling a campaign staff in preparation for my 2016 Rent Is Too Damn High Party presidential candidacy
D] really busy with work

Ugh, it's the boring answer.

I seriously have barely looked at my blog since my last post, which was all the way back in May. I feel like my life has been a little insane over the summer, and I have hardly had a moment to sit down, much less selfishly sew. I was thinking about it, and I realized that since my Ginger Jeans way back in March (posted in April), the only thing I've sewn for myself that wasn't obligatory - meaning for work, gift or teaching - was this black ponte circle skirt.


Well Composed Blouse

I am a shell of a seamstress. And in my rusty blogger state, I took pictures of said skirt against a dark background, to great invisible effect. Also as you will see, the only pose into which I could cajole my unpracticed limbs was holding my skirt up in the air.

Well Composed Blouse

Yup, that's all I've got.

Well Composed Blouse

But the real focus of this post is my top. It's the Anna Maria Horner Well Composed Blouse, and I'll be teaching it at Craft South here in Nashville starting a week from today, Thursday, Sept. 10. Woohoo! It's a really great pattern to whip up.

Look at this freakin adorable version from the Craft South Instagram feed:

Anna Maria Horner Well Composed Blouse

My version is made with an Art Gallery fabric from The Fabric Studio [which is also where the ponte is from]. I actually bought it before I moved to Nashville and I came here to find a place to live and, naturally, also scout out all the fabric stores.

Well Composed Blouse

[I swear the top of the center fronts line up, they are just laying weird in this pictures. Rusty, I tell ya]

In the class we'll be making the blouse version, but the pattern also can be made as a dress with pockets. You can sign up for the class online here. So if you're local, come sew and learn with me! It's gonna be fun!

Also, in case you missed it, I'm proud to say I had an article published in Seamwork Magazine this month about the history of tartan. You can read it here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

An Unnecessary Recap of Me Made May 2015

Ok. So if you follow me on Instagram, I've just made you endure pictures of my outfit every single day throughout the month of May. If you're still with me, now I'm showing my gratitude by forcing you to look at all of these outfits AGAIN, ALL AT ONCE.

But you see, I really wanted to make a photo collage.

Me Made May 2015

[I got rid of one picture - a day I was sick and wearing a sweatshirt - so that I could have a rectangle. Symmetry>accuracy.]

In case anyone is interested, here are a few conclusions/random thoughts I had while doing this:

The eyes are the window to the soul, or to the crazy. It was so much easier to take pictures of myself [read: pictures of myself that I could easily accept] if I cropped off the top of my face. I can't tell you how many of these pictures feature crazy / is-she-drunk / is-she-about-to-kill-someone stares. But you never knew. Until now.

I need to make more cardigans and jeans. This is not a very exciting conclusion, but it's a fact. These are the two main categories in my wardrobe that are still RTW, and I wear them a lot.

I'm a terrible blogger. By this I mean that I've only blogged 15 of the 39 things I wore throughout the month. What is the statute of limitations on blogging? Is it weird to blog something I made three years ago?

Social media can be really bad for your brain. This part was actually very real and not so great. My routine would be that I would snap a few pictures on the way out the door in the morning, then post one when I got to work. After that, all day, a steady stream of Instagram notifications meant my phone was constantly glowing, constantly delivering those tiny surges of validation. And honestly, I think I got a little addicted to it. Checking my phone was like a lab rat pushing the dopamine lever. [By the way, there are a ton of articles about how social media appeals chemically to the dopamine receptors in our brains: here is one.]

I don't normally post on a such a regular schedule, and not necessarily every day. So I really think I was conditioning myself to want it. It was much different than just absently checking the feed in a down moment. Eventually I had to put my phone away because it was really interfering with my attention span.

Has anyone else ever experienced this? And if you did Me Made May, did you learn anything? I probably won't do it again, but it was interesting to try.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I'm teaching at Craft South!



The amazingly talented Anna Maria Horner is opening a craft space / craft store in Nashville called Craft South, and I'm going to be teaching there!


It's going to be a big, beautiful space in 12 South with fabric, yarn, embroidery, classes and workshops, and even a handmade goods boutique. And if you're not local, despair not, you can shop their online store! It's already live and filled with good stuff.

I'll be starting things out by teaching the Million Use Zipper Bag. This is perfect for beginner sewers, or if you've never tried tackling a zipper. It's a one session class (Thursday June 4th) so no major commitment. And these little bags seriously have a million uses! You'll want to make a ton. Or a million. You can sign up online here.


My second class will be the Grainline Studio Scout Tee, which is what I'm wearing in these photos. This is a great first garment to try if you've sewn before, but feel shaky about following a pattern. Over the course of making the project, we'll be learning how to choose a size, cut out the pattern, sew and finish seams, do set-in sleeves, a bias bound neckline, and a double fold hem. Lots of new skills to learn, plus by the end you'll have a cute new shirt!


This is a three session class that meets three Thursdays in a row starting June 11th. You can sign up online here.

The class sample is made from one of Anna Maria's gorgeous new Loominous fabrics, a collection of yard dyed wovens. They are all spectacular. Want. Them. All.

Anna Maria Horner Loominous Fabric

Craft South's grand opening is going to be Friday May 29th from 4-8pm. I'll be there, so I hope you will too!

P.S. The awesome signage and painted deer are outside Old Made Good, a vintage store in my neighborhood. You should probably follow them on Instagram.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Diamond Stitch Crochet Baby Blanket


Today I bring you a rare finished yarn project.

This soft and snuggly blanket is for the same friend [and baby] recipient of the log cabin quilt I made a little while ago. I crocheted a blanket for baby numero uno, and apparently he liked it very much, so baby dos can't be left out, can she?


The colors are the same ones I used for the quilt, which were chosen by mama-to-be, so I can't take any credit there. The darkest color is reading as black but it's actually navy. For the pattern, I followed this tutorial. I wish I could tell you how long I made my foundation chain, but I have no idea and I didn't write it down [so helpful, I know].


I used all acrylic yarn for washing machine and baby compatibility. The white yarn is from one of those giant mega skeins they sell at Joann's. I've used it for several projects and it has barely gotten any smaller. It is so large and fuzzy and creature-like that my knitting group decided it needed a name.

So his name is Frederick. I should have taken his picture, but I didn't. Don't worry - he'll probably be around for a while.


The tutorial was super easy to follow, although for some reason one of my edges looks really crazy and the other one is nice and straight and even. I'm not sure why because I was changing colors at both sides. Also I accidentally made the blanket one or possibly two double crochet[s] wider about halfway through.

Artistic choices.


So after a wash and dry cycle [I use a lingerie bag] this blanket will be shipped across the Atlantic on the heels of its matching quilt counterpart.

I don't think I'm done with the baby projects yet, though...this is the first friend-baby since I started sewing knits, and I'm suddenly eyeing all my half yard remnants and realizing the baby wardrobe potential...

What are your favorite knit things to sew for babies?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans


Ways to Test Your Self Confidence:
1. Take photos of yourself to post on the internet
2. Choose a location near a busy four way stop
3. Frequently stand very close to the camera with the lens pointed directly at your butt
3. Wear a shirt you have to constantly lift out of the way
4. Make sure it's the weekend
5. And also the time of day when everyone walks their dogs


I finally forced myself to take pictures of the Ginger Jeans I made a few weeks ago. These are the high-waisted View B version.

I have a severe shortage of non-denim pants in my wardrobe and I've been experiencing some Ginger Jeans envy for a while now, so it was only a matter of time. I can't wear blue denim jeans to work, although non-blue jeans seem to be ok, so these pants are the first installment in my future abundance of work pants.

Short version:

I LOVE this pattern. I promptly bought four more fabrics to make four more pairs. I shall have a pants rainbow! I made barely any changes, I'm totally happy with the fit, and they were not intimidating at all to put together. There are a few tweaks to make on the next pair, but overall, I'm pretty psyched.


Long version:

The first f word - FABRIC. This fabric is a black stretch twill from a local store called Textile Fabrics. I liked it at first, but I like it less and less as I wear them more and more. They stretch out a lot when I wear them, so I can really only wear them once before washing. Also, EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF FUZZ IN EXISTANCE is stuck to them, constantly. You can see it in some of the closeups, which were taken after going through SIX lint roller sheets. It drives me crazy. And it's not even cat hair, it's just the general fuzz of life. So that will probably limit my wearing these too.


The second f word - FIT. I did not want to make a muslin for these, since it would have been a lot of work and I would have had to use a stretch fabric anyway. So I decided to just go for it, hope they would mostly turn out, and then make any minor fit adjustments after they were together.

Before cutting, I did a few things. My measurements were putting me at a 6 in the waist and a 10 in the hips. Since there are so many pieces involved in this area, I cut out the paper at whichever size line was on the outside (usually 10, but sometimes 6), then laid them all on top of each other like they would be sewn. Then I used a curved ruler to go from the 10 at the widest point to the 6 at the top of the pocket facing, and cut along the line through all layers. I did the same thing with the back and yoke. The waistband I just cut a 6.

[Once I basted them together - I sewed the whole fly first so that part would fit as it would when finished - the hips were too big, so I took them in probably to a size 8.]


The other thing I did was preemptively straighten the front crotch curve below the fly. Based on all the other pants I've attempted, this seams to be one of the things I need to do. This adjustment had mixed results, and I probably should have just left it as is for the first go.


You will see in the above photo that I had a major fail moment when I did the buttonhole, as I put it way too far over to the left. This makes the whole front look off center. But if you look at the center front seam [the edge of the fly], it's right in line with my belly button, so just the button placement is off. It was late and I should have gone to bed, but no, I had to make that buttonhole, and totally bombed it.

So let's talk more about crotches, shall we? [welcome, weird google search creepers.] I am going to describe to you to my Crotch Conundrum when it comes to pants fitting. Lucky you! So I mentioned that I straightened the front crotch a little, which I probably didn't need to do, because you can see there is extra fabric bunching up at the top of the front legs. So I will scoop the front crotch seam back out to take care of that. (Lauren of Lladybird has a really good post about this J-crotch adjustment.)

HOWEVER. You will also see that there are horizontal wrinkles below/across the fly. This seems to say there there is too much fabric in the front crotch curve. So I would pinch it out and then remove a wedge from the pattern. This shortens the front crotch curve. BUT, when I also do the previous adjustment (making the curve more J-shaped) this lengthens the same front crotch curve. These adjustments don't seem like they should go together! Don't they just cancel each other out? And when I shorten the front crotch curve, should I take it out of the fly, or the section below the fly? Does anyone have any insight on this?

If you are still reading, bless your heart. Here's the back.


The Ginger Jeans are very kind to your booty. Not gonna lie, my backside feels pretty great in these pants.

The back pocket placement is SO IMPORTANT (as Heather mentions in both the instructions and the sewalong), so definitely baste them on first. Did I do that? Of course not! Ignoring the warnings, I topstitched both of those suckers down all the way, only to try them on and realize they were way to low, making me look like I was wearing a dirty diaper. Quite attractive! So I seam ripped through my precious topstitching thread and moved them up 3/4". It was a night and day difference.

Also, I prefer bigger back pockets on jeans [negative space on butt = bad] so I used the size 12 pockets.

Can we just talk about the back pocket embellishment potential here? I originally wanted to embroider an anchor like Sarah, black-on-black, but I was running short on time and didn't want to rush so I just did three rows of decorative stitches in black rayon thread. But ever since then, I can't stop checking out people's jeans pockets, aka staring at stranger's butts. You could do so many different things to those pockets!


On the inside, I did the front pocket stays as detailed in the sewalong, because heck yes built-in spanx. Really though, I love how stable and flat the front is. I used some of Rashida Coleman-Hale's pretty cranes, partially because they were still out from the last project, but mostly because they are pretty! Next time, I think I'll leave them right sides together instead of turning them, because the bottom seam is a little bulky. Also, that way when you look into the pocket from the outside, you'll see the right side of the fabric instead of the wrong side.


I also opted to use the quilt weight for the waistband lining, which I wasn't sure about but really like. It keeps the waistband from stretching out too much but also prevents it from being too bulky. I didn't use any interfacing.


Sewing these was actually pretty easy, considering you are making f'ing jeans. It's not fast, and you have to keep switching back and forth between topstitching and regular thread, but it's not too difficult, especially with the sewalong as a reference. One thing I did differently - when you attach the zipper to the first side of the fly, instead of putting the teeth just to the side of the center front, I aligned the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the extension. This sets the zipper in deeper. (And Heather mentions this as an option in the fly post of the sewalong). I wanted to make sure my zipper wasn't going to peek out.

In doing some topstitching tests, way too much topstitch thread was showing on the back, so I found that turning up the tension pretty high when topstitching - like to 7 - made it look a lot better. Also, I held the thread very taut when threading through the tension discs to make sure it really got in there. Then I ran out of topstitching thread about two thirds of the way through, so I just switched to a triple straight stitch for all the topstitching [like the waistband/belt loops in the photo] and it worked out ok.


Also I want to give a little shout out to Pony Show, a really cute shop in my neighborhood where I bought this shirt. I'm pretty into anything with moon phases on it, and the owner screen prints them herself, so when I saw it it was a done deal. [She sells them on Etsy too.]

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

And now I shall commence on my Rainbow of Pants.



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