Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"I would like to thank my parents for never giving me a ride to school, the LA city bus driver who took a chance on an unknown kid, and last but not least, the wonderful crew from McDonalds who spend hours making those egg McMuffins without which I might never be tardy."


Hello, moppets! You may notice a change in my blog post nomenclature today--there's no Miss, unless of course you count the lovely Miss Roisin. Happy Sew Dolly Clackett Day! As a way of celebrating Roisin's impending nuptials to her wonderful Nic, the sewing community has spent the last two months emulating her fun style. 

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Roisin's. Not only does she use prints better than anyone, but Our Lady Clackett has the cutest shoes around. For my homage to the lovely Roisin, I grabbed my favorite pink pumps and the Out to Sea print from Sarah Jane, then made--of course!--a modified Anna dress. 



I have made the Anna dress quite a few times before, but this one is special. Not only did I add a wide, gathered skirt to the v-neck bodice, but I also embellished the Sam Hill out of it. There is light blue piping on the neckline, the armholes, and the patch pockets. THAT'S RIGHT, THE PATCH POCKETS. I added, then piped, patch pockets.

I'll let that bit of awesome sink in. 

Are your palpitations of amazement easing a bit? As the Queen of Quick Dresses, I may be just a bit too proud of myself for this feat, but whatever. I sewed perfect squares and basted them on three times, to find the perfect placement. There is effort and care here, y'all. My vow to embellish more things is still going strong! Wonders never cease. 


As with my last Anna, this one had my standard fitting alterations. The bodice was extended an inch, had a 1.5'' FBA, and a small-waist adjustment. Thanks to the blousy drape of this fabric, the waist is still a little big, which I'll probably fix at some point. Loose dresses are great for summer, but waists that shift about drive my crazy!

Let's talk about this fabric, though, shall we? Sailing across the navy blue expanse of cotton are dozens of schooners and sloops. In the colorway I chose, these boats are illustrated in light blue, hot pink, and sunny yellow. This fabric is really high quality for a quilting cotton, with a drape and weight similar to a nice poplin. It's super comfortable against the skin and holds the skirt shape beautifully! No wonder Roisin uses Michael Miller prints so often, if this is the sort of fabric they come in. It's certainly not the stiff quilting cotton of JoAnn's!


The details...

 Things I Loved:
  • The Fabric! This is such a fun print to wear.
  • The shape! The Anna bodice paired with a gathered skirt remains one of my favorite silhouettes.

Things I Changed:
  • 1.5'' FBA
  • Lengthened bodice by 1''
  • Hand-picked zipper
  • Small-waist adjustment
  • Added a gathered skirt

Notions & Fabric:
  • 3 yards of light blue piping
  • 3 yards of "Out to Sea" by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller
  • 22'' navy zipper
In the end, this is such a fun, wearable dress. Even better, it's a tribute to one of the coolest sewing bloggers out there! Sending you good wishes, Roisin and Nic! 

Note: The quote in the title not only references the late nature of my entry, compared to the challenge's time frame, but it's also from one of the only movies I can actively quote."You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet!"




This photo is ridiculous, but I had to include it, because it is also hilarious. Apparently, this dress makes me want to swish!






Sunday, April 20, 2014

Miss Peggy Hunts for (Diamond) Eggs


Bonjour, lovely readers! Today, I have eaten entirely too many chocolate eggs and covetously eyed my aunt's Passover menu, just as this weekend demands. Perhaps it's my southern upbringing, but all these anthropomorphized rabbits make me long to channel Lilly Pulitzer. It's the season for lemon, lavender, and bold prints! Which brings me to this month's Mood Sewing Network projects: a lemony Archer blouse and ikat-print Peggy skirt

Full disclosure, this post is going to focus on the Peggy skirt, because the Archer demands a full review and better pictures. I made all sorts of alterations to this pattern, including adding a dart and (accidentally, but successfully) sewing wider seams. When tucked in, as this outfit demanded, the Archer really didn't photograph well. It works much better untucked or with a knit bottom, like Thursday's Mabel skirt


This Peggy, however, photographed beautifully. I love this skirt, y'all! 

Thanks to everything else happening this month, I decided to streamline April's Mood project. I wanted gorgeous fabric, paired with a simple tried-and-true pattern. For the pattern, I settled on my favorite skirt pattern, Bluegingerdoll's Peggy. For the fabric, I did something every sewist loves to do: copy an elegant friend. Sam's delightful colleague, Sarah, has an ikat skirt I've been coveting for ages. It's just the right navy-and-white fabric to be at once a print and a neutral. Even better, Mood stocks a stretch cotton twill that is practically identical!




A few episodes of The Paradise later, I had the perfect copycat skirt! As I've blogged about before, the Peggy skirt is such a quick, enjoyable project to sew up. It's a lovely, a-line silhouette with a flattering high waistband. The only alterations I made to this one were to cut the waistband on the crossgrain, in order to add visual interest, and to use a narrow machine hem. With a heavier weight fabric, like this twill, I just find traditional hems way too bulky. 

There's really no other construction detail to note, since I've made this so many times now! TNT patterns may be somewhat unexciting to blog about, but I love sewing them up. It's such a stress-free experience, when I'm assured something will fit both me and my lifestyle. For me, the Peggy skirt is always flattering and always easy to wear. What's better than that?

So, tell me, dear ones. What are your tried-and-true patterns? Is there one pencil skirt or wrap dress pattern you just can't stop sewing? Also, be sure to check out Laurence's gorgeous makes this weekend, as part of the Curvy Colette blog tour. Her broderie anglaise Moneta was so lovely!


The (Abbreviated) Details...
Things I Loved:
  • Everything! I can't get enough of this pattern. 

Things I Changed:
  • Took a narrow hem, instead of my standard deep hem. 
  • Cut the waistband on the crossgrain, to take advantage of the print. 
Notions & Fabric:
  • 2 yards of stretch cotton twill, courtesy of Mood Fabrics
  • 1 vintage red glass button
  • 7-inch white zipper





Friday, April 18, 2014

Curvy Colette Plus Size Blog Tour: Interview With Alyson Clair

Good morning, friends! As promised, today's stop on the Curvy Colette Blog Tour is focused on the brains behind these lovely patterns: Alyson Clair and Sarai Mitnick.

The Mabel and the Moneta are not only Colette's first patterns for knit fabrics, but also their first with an expanded size range. We thought it would be fun to peek inside the creative process behind these new offerings, so Alyson and Sarai graciously agreed to answer some questions for us. Thanks, ladies!

Today on Idle Fancy, I'm chatting with knitwear goddess, Alyson Clair, while Jenny is hosting the lovely Sarai Mitnick over at Cashmerette. Check out both interviews and let us know how you're enjoying the Curvy Colette Blog Tour!





Mary: Good morning, Alyson! We're so excited about these two designs and fascinated by the creative process behind them.  What were your main sources of inspiration for these patterns?

Alyson: My main sources of inspiration are always classics that can live in your wardrobe for a long time, and also be very versatile. When I'm designing a pattern I try to think of all of the different bodies that may wear it, and how to make it flattering on a variety of them. I'm also a fan of fancy, and comfort. There is no reason you can't have both.



Mary: We're so excited about the inclusive size range of these patterns! Could you describe a bit of what is involved, when fitting an expansive size range?

Alyson: When doing a size range of this scale, it is best to have 2 bases. This is important, as body proportions can change a lot from one end of the range to the other. We fit on a size Medium and a size 2XL live models, and also Colette Patterns now has dress forms of both of those sizes. . So it's double the work from a regular pattern or style, but it is so important to do it right! I'm a super big patternmaking nerd, so it was an exciting challenge to work on this. I'm very happy with how the patterns turned out, and I really think people will enjoy them.


Mary: Your own clothing line, Clair Vintage, is known for chic knitwear. How did you begin designing with knits?

Alyson: I actually did not sew until I got to college. I cursed my way through sewing with wovens in classes. As soon as I learned to sew on a serger with knits, it was magical. I find knits are easier to sew, much more forgiving, and easier to fit. I also looked at what was in my closet. 95% of my wardrobe is knit, and knits are what I am most comfortable wearing. So it was natural as I started making clothes to sell, it was with knits. There is so much fabric variety, it never gets boring. I also really enjoy patternmaking with knits, and love things with spandex.



Mary: It must be a very different process, designing for home sewists versus designing for your own line! What were your favorite parts of this project?

Alyson: Yes it is very different, but it has been really fun! Sometimes I feel like I speak a different language with commercial sewing vs. home sewing, since I spent 4 years working a factory. So I've learned a lot of things in this process, and love it. My favorite thing is all of the variety and options that can be done with the patterns. Working on a clothing line, you make many of a style and have to be concerned with sewing time, fabric costs, and embellishments. Home sewists can do whatever they like. I am so excited to see all of the variations and creativity that will come out of these patterns.


Mary: So many sewists are still afraid to try out knit fabrics. What are the biggest advantages of sewing with knits?

Alyson: If I can sew with knits, so can you! It's just different from wovens, from the way the fabric behaves, and how it is handled when sewn. Have patience, practice, and hopefully fall in love with sewing with knits. There are many advantages to sewing with knits. My favorite one is comfort. My body fluctuates in size a bit, and I like to know I can have 15lb up or down, and still be ok fitting into the majority of my clothing. Knits allow you to move freely, stretch with your body, and be comfortable. Also, a good majority of the time, the sewing time is not as long.


Thank you so much for chatting with us, Alyson! You make knit fabrics sound like such fun to work with! I had a blast sewing up both of these patterns and can't wait for more knitwear options from you and Sarai. 

Readers, I'm curious, how many out there are newbies to knits? Are you excited to give these wonder fabrics a whirl, now that they've been demystified?  If you are interested in trying out knits for the first time, Alyson's new e-book, The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, is now available. There's no better expert to have at your side, while you sew up the Moneta and Mabel. 

Also, don't forget to pop over to Cashmerette and check out Jenny's interview with Sarai


Curvy Colette: A Plus Size Blog Tour

Wednesday, April 16th: Jenny at Cashmerette
Thursday, April 17th: Mary at Idle Fancy
Saturday, April 19th: Laurence at QuirkyPrettyCute
Monday, April 21st:  Tanya at Mrs Hughes
Tuesday, April 22nd: T at UandMii
Saturday, April 26th: Sophie-Lee at Pins & Noodles
Monday, April 28th: Mary at Young, Broke and Fabulous 



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Miss Mabel Changes Her Spots: Curvy Colette


Good afternoon, lovelies! As promised yesterday, today's post is all about the new knitwear patterns from Colette. Since Jenny unveiled her fabulous Moneta yesterday, I thought it only fitting that I kick off the Curvy Colette Blog Tour with that most perfect of pencil skirts, the Mabel.

When we first received the two patterns, earlier this month, I fell head-over-heels for Miss Mabel. Why didn't I already own a knit pencil skirt? The concept is genius. All the elegance of a curve-hugging skirt, but with the comfort of yoga pants? Sign me up. Deceptively comfortable clothing is, as has been documented lately, one of my favorite things to make and wear! 


Let me tell you, darlings, the Mabel did not disappoint. She's gorgeous!

For my first foray into knit skirt bliss, I chose a charcoal ponte de roma knit  from Girl Charlee and the longer version of Miss Mabel. It's a midweight knit, as recommended by the pattern, with black foil polka dots marching over it. Up close, the dots have just a bit of sheen, like little leather appliques. Weird, but wonderful.

The only trick for this skirt was choosing the proper size. With other Colette patterns I'm usually a blend of the 14 and the 16, translating to an XL in the new knits. Having never owned a knit skirt before, however, I was trepidatious. Would my proper size cling too much? Would every bump, every rolling hill of my backside be discerned by passers-by? The horror!

I needn't have worried, of course. The XL worked perfectly for my body shape, flattering in all the right places and skimming over everything else. Y'all, my curves look bangin' in this skirt. If you're searching for the perfect work-to-play skirt pattern, look no further. Mabel rocks the category. With a cardigan and tailored button-down, like my new Archer it's paired with here, this skirt is all easy elegance. With a vintage t-shirt and leather jacket? Badass concert attire!


Since I don't currently own a leather jacket, I stuck to the professional side of things for this post. Also, note to Mary: fix that gap in your closet now! Mabel deserves to be a cool kid. 

Let's talk construction though, shall we? Not only does Mabel come with really helpful instructions, but Sarai and Alyson have also released The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, to hand-hold us through all of those first time knit anxieties. If you are a knits beginner, the Mabel is the perfect pattern to start with. The front of the skirt is pieced, for an extra flattering silhouette, while the back is a simple kick-pleat design. This is a pattern that could easily be sewn on a regular sewing machine, with nothing more than a zig-zag stitch and some courage. Easy, well-drafted, and quick!

Speaking of quick...

Kittens, this skirt took me an hour-and-a-half to make. That's from cutting to hem, y'all. Have you ever heard of anything so wonderful? This is, far and away, my quickest sewing project ever. Everything was really expertly designed, from the seam placement to the waistband lining method, and a breeze to put together. Most of my stitching was done on the serger, apart from the twin-needle hem, which also hurried things along. 



This was such a fun pattern to make! Once my sewing schedule calms down, expect to see quite a few more Mabels. When a skirt is this cute, a girl needs it in every color, don't you think? If you were at all nervous about how a knit skirt would translate onto a curvy body, rest easy. Grab a heavy knit and make yourself a Mabel! You won't regret it. 

The details...

Things I Loved:
  • The ease! 1.5 hours, cannot be emphasized enough. 
  • The seaming! So, so flattering for those who want to show off some curves.
  • The comfort! Knits are the best. 

Things I Changed:
  • Not a thing! I sewed the straight XL of Version 3

Things I Will Change Next Time:
  • Not a thing!

Tips & Tricks:
  • Finding a nice midweight knit is key here. If you want a skirt that will glide over hills, instead of cling to them, you need something more substantial than a jersey. Try a ponte, double-knit, or very stretchy pique. 

Fabric & Notions: 
  • 1 yard of gray-and-black ponte from Girl Charlee - $7.50
  • Colette Mabel pattern - courtesy of Colette Patterns





Don't forget to keep up with the Curvy Colette Blog Tour on all of our stops! Tomorrow, I'll be back for an interview with knitwear goddess herself, Alyson Clair, and next week I'll debut my own Moneta dress. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Announcing the Curvy Colette Blog Tour!


Good evening, darling ones! Today has been quite the exciting day at Chez Fancy. 

For the last twenty-four hours, the internet has rejoiced over the new knit pattern offerings from Colette Patterns, the Moneta and the Mabel. The Moneta is an elegant dress with three sleeve variations and five--that's right, five!--collar options, while Mabel is the perfect, simple pencil skirt. Not only are they two absolutely gorgeous designs, but they are being offered in an expanded size range. Both patterns are available up to a size 3x! 

When the lovely Jenny and I heard about these patterns last month, we were over the moon. Gorgeous patterns for women of every size? We needed to celebrate! Thus, the Curvy Colette Blog Tour was born. After joining forces with Sarai, we contacted some of our favorite curvy sewists and asked them to sew up their own stylish versions of the Moneta and Mabel. Over the next two weeks, we'll be hopping from blog to blog, sharing pretty knitwear pieces and celebrating curvy fashion. 

Jenny kicked off the tour today, with her smashing striped Moneta, and there are so many great outfits to come! The full line-up is below, so gear up for a fortnight of loveliness!

Wednesday, April 16th -- Jenny at Cashmerette
Thursday, April 17th -- Mary at Idle Fancy (That's me! That's tomorrow!)
Friday, April 18th -- Exclusive interviews on Cashmerette and Idle Fancy with Sarai and Alyson
Saturday & Sunday, Aprl 19th & 20th -- Laurence at Quirky Pretty Cute
Monday, April 21st -- Tanya at Mrs. Hughes
Tuesday & Wednesday, April 22nd & 23rd -- T at UandMii
Thursday, April 24th --Jenny at Cashmerette
Friday, April 25th -- Mary at Idle Fancy
Saturday, April 26th --Sophie-Lee at Pins & Noodles
Monday, April 28th --Mary at Young Broke & Fabulous
Wednesday, April 30th -- Mary at Young Broke & Fabulous


If you want to keep up with all the Curvy news, follow our blogs and social media! We'll be linking to all the pretty pieces, throughout the next two weeks. This is the first adventure of what we've dubbed the Curvy Sewing Collective, but not the last. We're dedicated to making home sewing more accessible for plus-sized and curvy women. There will be sew-alongs, tutorials, and all sorts of inspiration coming your way over the next few months! 

Lastly, a huge thanks to Sarai and Alyson for their generosity in this venture. We're so thrilled to help showcase these patterns and encourage other curvy sewists to sew with knits! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Miss Artemis Seeks the Sun + Project Sewn


Good afternoon, kittens! Today marks the official beginning of spring. It's not the beautifully sunny days or the blooming flowers that usher it in, but something much, much nerdier. The Masters. This weekend, Sam and I are headed down to Austin, in order to indulge in a time-honored Danielson past-time: watching too much television, while eating BBQ and cheering for a tiny white ball. 

For me, a lot of this weekend will also be spent sewing. In addition to several sewing commitments on the docket, I'm in the full throes of preparing for Project Sewn. The designers for the upcoming season were announced earlier this week and I'm honored to be among their ranks. This is such an impressive group! Erin, from Miss Crayola Creepy, wrote a lovely post yesterday about her own decision to compete, which really resonated with me. You see, my excitement about participating was quickly overshadowed by doubtsI mostly sew dresses from patterns, are my skills up to this? What if I get laughed out of the competition, because a button-hole is wonky? What if nobody wants to vote for a plus-sized sewist? What if...What if...

Obviously, that kind of thinking was quickly banished. I've decided, much like Erin, that the key to enjoying this process is staying true to myself. This competition is such a wonderful opportunity, not only for exposure to the sewing world at large, but to challenge my skills. There are a few difficult projects I've had kicking around in my head for eons, but labeled as "someday" things. For Project Sewn, I'm tackling these head-onusing the competition as an excuse to make my dream garments! If I get voted out early, which is a distinct possibility, I'll still have checked off some sewing goals. It's going to be so much fun, no matter what!

With such a full sewing schedule, however, it means leaving a few other projects by the wayside. I had originally planned to spend the spring making a half-dozen easy, comfortable sundresses in preparation for summer. Instead, I'll be working exclusively on prior commitments and Project Sewn pieces. Except, of course, for this dress. Meet Artemis, my platonic sundress: a simple gathered skirt paired with my standard base bodice. 


In Texas, we spend most of the year bracing ourselves for summer. When you're sewing with thoughts of imminent 100-degree days, certain parameters come into focus. Cool, breathable fibers are a must, while form-fitting silhouettes should be used sparingly. The best summer dresses are sleeveless, swishy, and made from the lightest possible cottons. If you want to dress it up, grab a cardigan or blazer for the indoors. Layers are a southern sewist's best friend! 

Those guidelines gave me the Artemis. I used my bodice sloper to create a simple scoop-necked dress, adorned with a wide, gathered skirt. So easy! It's six darts and miles of gathering, finished off with a lapped zipper in the back. Only the bodice is lined, as fully lined dresses can be oppressively hot in August, in a coordinating orange cotton lawn. 



The fabric is a light, floaty cotton voile from Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection. It's been in my stash for years, along with its purple colorway cousin, waiting for the right project. The print reminded me of Moorish painted tiles, like ones scattered through Spanish architecture, so buying it was a must. First it was going to be a Colette Jasmine blouse, then a layered skirt, butlet's be honestit had sundress written all over it! The pairing of tangerine and sky blue makes me want to stroll through an open-air farmer's market or sip sangria on a (well air-conditioned) patio. 

Pattern-matching was kind of a battle, but it turned out reasonably well. There are little spots that aren't quite perfectthe side seams, oh heavenly seam ripper, the side seamsbut nothing is too distracting. All-in-all, this dress is just what I wanted: a simple, pretty project before the days of epic sewing begin. There was minimal fuss and a totally delightful result! I'm especially looking forward to wearing this beauty, once my standard summer glow returns. That orange is going to be killer! 





Alas, it's back to the sewing cave for me. My highly anticipated day off will be spent cheering over birdies and muslining a vintage pattern. Wish me luck! Oh, improbably high bust darts, how I adore you...

The Details...

Things I Loved:

  • The ease! This is a three-hour dress, tops. Is there anything better?
  • The fabric! Soooo light and airy. 
  • The bodice! Slopers are such a great bodice base. This one was made a little roomier, with those sweltering summer days in mind, which makes it super comfortable. 

Things I Changed:

  • Nothing! Ah, the beauty of self-drafting.

Things I Will Change, Next Time:

  • Come June, my next month of open sewing, I'm going to make a pleated version of this dress. Bring on the novelty prints!

Tips & Tricks:

  • When gathering wide expanses of fabric, try three rows of basting, instead of two! It allows for more even gathers and control. 

Notions & Fabric:

  • 3 yards - Joel Dewberry voile
  • 1.5 yards - orange cotton lawn lining. 
  • 22'' orange zipper