Anna, a new favorite

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Months and months and months ago everyone was making BHL Anna dresses and raving about them, and I always thought hm, that’s a nice dress, nothing special, but nice. Then I caved and bought it, and last month I finally made it up. The, oh, it’s nice I suppose, thought persisted, even when it was on my dress form, but then I tried it on. Oh my goodness! There’s something amazing about the proportions of this dress. I feel wonderful in it!

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The dress you see here is actually my second Anna. The first is made out of a navy cotton/poly broadcloth and it looks like a faded, sad thing with stiff sleeves in photos, though I love the way it looks on. The success of that dress made me pick up the same pattern almost immediately to make this dress for a family wedding. It was a fantastic wedding guest dress – simple, comfortable, flattering, just so easy. It performed well when I had to run (seriously run) around helping my husband put hundreds of beet tarts together too!

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The fabric is one of my beloved J. Crew floral chiffons that I got from Fabric Mart about a year ago. It’s not a very sheer chiffon, but I underlined with black to make things simple. I could take the waist in about an inch, but decided to leave it as is for now. I knew this wedding was going to be more stressful than usual, and would rather have my dress feel a bit big than the other way around!

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This dress actually almost didn’t get finished in time. I still had a hem to do the morning of the wedding, and while I thought I would have enough time before we left my help was suddenly seriously required for the tarts and it got pretty iffy. Without even realizing it was the same dress right away, I assigned my blue Anna as a back up – I think that proves that this is a good pattern for me!

Finally, here is the assortment of desserts Eric made for the reception: beet tarts, bouchons, and green tea sables. This big tart was for his sister the bride – the others were just about 2″ in diameter and didn’t have any flowers. It was a lovely, fun day, and a week later we’re almost recovered!

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drape drape!

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For the big spring fundraiser, we held a fashion show featuring Erdem (whose designs I love – so many amazing florals!). I had a lot going on and almost wore a simple black dress, but decided to make something at the very last minute. It was either going to be a myrtle or the v-neck dress from the first Drape Drape book and I’m SO happy I took the second route!

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You’ll notice the bodice is totally different than the illustration. That’s because it turned out big (?!) and was mostly obscene. I just subbed a hastily drawn bodice based on the Renfrew, which I then took in a lot. It’s fine.

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you can really tell here that I put it on the dress form backwards… it’s so snug on the form I didn’t want to risk popping stitches to fix my mistake!

But, oh this skirt! It’s amazing! I love the way it looks on, so elegant and graceful. The skirt is much fuller at the hem than I thought it would be, which makes it extra comfortable. Perfect for running around working an event.

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My favorite part, though, was the process of putting it together. I can’t even say how much fun I had! Despite the complex look it was quite straightforward and satisfying to make – just match notches following the diagram and that’s that. It took less than an hour to put the skirt together, and if I hadn’t had to redo the bodice it would have been a 3-hour dress, maybe 4 if you count tracing. You could make this the night before an event and in complete honesty say, “oh, this? I just whipped this up last night,” as if it were nothing.

I’m really looking forward to more drape drape projects!

next up... morris!

next up… morris!

Linden and Coco, black ponte duo

Hi there! It’s been over two months! For some reason I’ve dropped off the internet for a while, both with posting my own makes and commenting on others. Part of me is bothered – I love reading and commenting on blogs! – but I’m also trying to accept it. I’m just not into the internet world right now. I’m sure it will pass.

I am amassing a backlog of projects, though, and I spent some time this morning taking and editing photos. Of course, lighting is bad in the morning and the fabric and fit of the clothes emphasize my dress form’s body irregularities. Oh well, this spring is just not a high point in the life of my blog.

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First up is the semi-fail of the post: the Coco dress from the Little Black Dress book. I actually loved this dress at first, it was fun and easy to put together, I love the pockets, and it looked great on, but it’s not long for this world. The super soft ponte started pilling before I was even finished with the dress, and to make matters worse cat hair sticks to it like crazy. Even my heavy-duty pet lint roller doesn’t do much. The death knoll, though, is that it shrunk a bit more in the second wash, so now the waist and hem are a little high and I feel like a kid in it. I think I’m going to turn it into a skirt.

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Next up is a huge win out of the same fabric, plus a remnant of my beloved blue print sweater knit from JoAnn. It’s still piling and I don’t even try to get rid of the cat hair, but it’s just a casual sweatshirt so it doesn’t much matter.

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The pattern is the Grainline Linden sweatshirt, and I just love it. It’s simple, casual, and a little shapeless, but I wear it every single weekend without fail. I see more of these for the upcoming chilly San Francisco summer. If I color block with this pattern again I’m going to raise the seam a little, the seam goes right over the bustline and doesn’t lie perfectly flat, but I don’t even care with this one!

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Finally, I leave you with a douglas iris that has somehow survived in this sea of ice plant. I love most plants and flowers, but the awful, invasive ice plant is not one of them…

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watson, watson…

Well, I’ve reached that inevitable point where I’m posting photos of my bras on the internet and might even talk about fitting issues. Wooo. It’s all because of the Cloth Habit Watson Bra. I bought it mere hours after its release – it’s basically the most amazing, ideal bra I could ever imagine, especially the longline version. While I’ve made a few Jasmine bras and activewear, I still felt pretty intimidated and like such a beginner. The good thing about being a beginner, though, is that expectations are so low and visible improvement is so rapid. Add a mostly wearable bra at the end of a couple hours of work and you have a very gratifying project!

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I made this longline version as my first attempt using a white stretch lace from Fabric Mart and a nude “power mesh” from JoAnn. I haven’t felt real power mesh so I have no idea if this stuff compares, but considering how soft and airy both of these fabrics are the bra is more supportive than I expected. I underlined all of the lace pieces with the power mesh for modesty and structure, and it wasn’t actually wasn’t that hard to sew. Straps and hook/eye are salvaged from an old bra. I’m pretty pleased with this, and it’s SO pretty from the outside, but it’s not quite supportive enough for everyday wear.

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For my second bra I used the regular band version with the supplex-like activewear knit I had leftover from XYT tops, along with more salvaged straps and findings, and I actually think this version is more supportive due to the elastic being right under the cups. For this version I only used two layers for the cradle, as instructed.

For next time… I think I will use two layers for the back band as well, and perhaps even for the cups. I may also experiment with sizing. You have to trust me about these sizing problems – this is one of those times where it’s very clear that my dress form and I are not built quite the same way! First, both bras are too big in the band. They only just fit on the tightest setting, and the pink one is actually still slightly big. At the same time, I will try going up a cup size for a little more coverage. I used my normal measurement and the fit is totally acceptable, but since I have the opportunity to get the fit exactly as I like it I may as well try! I’m also going to try to make the band a little more supportive by widening the regular band to accommodate 1″ elastic instead of the 1/2″ called for in the pattern. This will also create more of the longline look I love so much.

Overall, I’m very happy with this development!  There is still a ways to go before I find my perfect fit, but this is a good first step!

Not a real cat photo today, but I'm pretty thrilled with these matching cat mugs that I got for me and Dandelion's catgodmother...

Not a real cat photo today, but I’m pretty thrilled with these matching cat mugs that I got for me and Dandelion’s catgodmother!

Flowery vogue top

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I’m just going to go ahead and start by talking about the fabric. Fabric Mart had a bunch of this large scale floral chiffon by J Crew for $2-4 per yard a while back, and despite the fact that no one needs that much poly chiffon I got it all. As in four yards of each of the four fabrics (two different prints, two colorways each). This fabric is the stuff of my dreams. Despite my shy nature I love large scale florals, especially when they are broken up by pleats and seaming, and the colors are fantastic. This colorway may be my very favorite – gray background with peach roses, dark purple irises, olive leaves, and flashes of yellow in the irises.

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The design is pretty good too. This is Vogue 1247, the Rachel Comey pattern with that great skirt that everyone has made. I bought the pattern for the skirt, and actually planned on making both pieces at the same time. That would have worked except apparently I forgot how to sew by the time I got to the skirt. Despite having just made a fiddly chiffon top the cotton skirt bested me. Of course it’s totally fixable but I threw it in my scrap/UFO bin last weekend and figured I’d better just get the top up by itself. It could be a while before that skirt gets finished…

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My favorite feature of this design is the way the pleats form a bit of a sleeve cap in an otherwise boxy style. I tend to live on the edge and not look at Pattern Review before diving into a project, so that was a happy surprise. Otherwise the top went together as expected. I used quite a bit of hand stitching on this garment – the pleats and the neckline are secured by a running stitch and the hem is hand rolled. It may an Alabama Chanin influence, but I’m finding myself using hand stitching in visible, intentional ways lately. I’ve never had a problem with stitches showing, it’s sewing after all, and in this case it would have been hard to make machine stitching look good. Maybe I should strive for perfection on the machine, but eh, I don’t really care.

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I didn’t even think about pattern matching or not matching, but I should have because, ugh, that back. It’s not even the same flower, but it’s too close. Oh well, what’s done is done. The back view isn’t terribly flattering, especially on my stationary dress form, but the chiffon is sheer enough to show there is a shape underneath. I’ll probably wear this with a tan or gray camisole.

All in all I’m very happy with this top. Lightweight and loose floral tops are part of my work uniform, and this one is a favorite already!

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This was the first rainless January in San Francisco in recorded history. Dandelion has been enjoying the sunshine, but we’re all a little worried…

 

 

Coppelia pullover

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Papercut Patterns is a brand new company for me, but here’s two in a row! I’ve enjoyed both patterns quite a bit, and this one was one of those magical knit projects that goes together beautifully. The fabric, a cotton sweater knit from Fabric Mart, certainly deserves some of the credit for this sweater’s success, but I want to make up the pattern again too!

I made the long version straight version. A dreaming cat is on my lap at the moment so I can’t get up to see what sizes were used, but as always I graded from a smaller size to a bigger size that happened to match my measurement perfectly at the hip. While I think it fits as intended, next time I will add a little more room at the hip and lengthen the top a bit more. I think this top will work great with dresses and skirts that sit closer to the natural waist, but it’s a little too tight and/or a little too short to be totally comfortable with pants.

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My very favorite thing about this pattern, which would make it worth it to me even if the rest of the pattern didn’t work at all, is the sleeves. They are absolutely perfect. I have an ancient tee from Target that also has the perfect sleeves, and while I should have been able to figure them out myself there’s always been something not quite right with my own attempts. Coppelia’s long, narrow cuffs are my dream come true and the lower sleeve and cuff shapes will be added to every other knit pattern I own from now on!

The one thing I’m not totally happy about is the bulk of the seams and the resulting ridge that you can see in these photos at every seam. I graded and used the clapper, but there’s still a bit too much bulk. The fabric is somewhat thick and dense, though, so I guess I understand…

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Finally my little cat. I think he’s been cuter lately, somehow.

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Pneuma yoga top

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I have long admired this one-piece bra plus drapy overlay style of exercise top, so when Papercut Patterns released the Pneuma Tank I wanted it immediately. Papercut is a little outside of my budget, though. Then black friday happened and for some reason I went crazy and bought all the indie patterns I denied myself for years, Pneuma and Coppelia among them.

I made the bra out of a activewear lycra I’ve had for a while, with the overlay from a very lightweight and drapy bamboo knit. The bra went together nicely. Surprisingly well, actually, and I’m pretty proud of the finish. It’s far better than my two XYT tops, but I’m pretty sure that’s due to the experience gained from those tops. The overlay went together well too, until the steps where you attach it to the bra. I was disappointed with the instructions here – there must be a better way and it looks pretty terrible inside. I also had to hand tack the overlay a lot to prevent the ugly insides flipping out. I made the straps out of 1/4″ elastic covered by the blue lycra. I’ve done that with bra making too, and while I do not like the process at all I do like having perfectly matched straps.

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The colors are weird in these afternoon photos. We get the most beautiful sunlight in this room in the late afternoon, and while it’s totally inspiring and peaceful in person it does not translate well in photos. I had to take photos then, though, as I was wearing the top to yoga in an hour and there was no way that thing was going back on my stiff-shouldered dress form!

Closer to the real colors

Closer to the real colors

So, about its performance. I’ve been attending bikram yoga classes about three times a week. It started with a groupon that my coworker convinced me to get, and I actually have come to really love it. It’s about training the mind as least as much as training the body, and teachers and students alike are absolutely wonderful and supportive. I’m finding myself a little particular about tops now, though, since it’s so hot and they get so wet by the end of class. The XYT tops I made out of the supplex seem extra hot and I’m also a little embarrassed to wear them outside – they look a bit homemade. This top fared well in class, though this is one of those grays that shows sweat very obviously. It doesn’t really matter, it’s hot yoga after all, but I was a little self-conscious. The bamboo knit also got a bit over-saturated by the end of class, but again, what can you expect. It actually did pretty great for a natural fiber!

For next time I may shape the bra front a bit closer to the XYT. I wore one of those last night and had forgotten how much I like the neckline! I want to make another one of those too, now that my activewear skills have improved!

Finally, this is what it’s like to work in my back room in the afternoons…

Heaven!!

Heaven!!