Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekend Pretty: 9.30.2011

The Christian Dior Spring 2012 collection previewed at Paris Fashion Week earlier today. It was - in a word - divine. You know how we dress a certain way and look a certain way in real life, but in your dreams, you see yourself as something different? In my mind, I look like I've stepped off the Dior runway from this season. Everything is just so pretty.

[Image Sources & Full Collection: Fashion Gone Rogue]

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On Turning Lemons into Liberty

Is there anything so tragic as having the perfect fabric, but not quite enough of it? If there were a scant 1/4 yard more of this mustard yellow twill, I would be able to finagle another 2215 out of it.

It was going to be great, friends. Yellow with dark blue buttons down the front. Sigh. You have never seen a more dejected sewist than me, when trying out cutting layouts last night. Except for, perhaps, me an hour later, while trying to track down comparable fabric somewhere online. Where are all the mustard twills and poplins? It's fall! All traditional fall colors should be everywhere, but alas...

Cut to this afternoon, when I unearthed my small, but beloved stash of Liberty lawns to pull a fabric for my upcoming tutorial (my first!) on the pussy bow Sorbetto. For unlike that lovely Lisette twill, I had more of one cut than expected. What was supposed to be a yard-and-a-half ended up being well over two yards, in fact. Just enough for a 2215! I am trying to get away from prints a bit, but this is Liberty, after all. Plus, its main colors are: chocolate, emerald, ruby, and citrine. Why, hello, perfect print for my fall palette!

What do you think, friends? Dark yellow or red buttons?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Miss Cora Wins the Race: Simplicity 2215

Hola, gatitos! Despite what my two week absence may suggest, I have not - in fact - fallen off a cliff or entered the US Witness Protection Program. I did have a camera malfunction, however. You know the kind - when your memory card seems to have wandered off, like a second-grader in a toy store? Luckily, I have invested in a new, bigger (oh la la!) card. Even better, I have things to show you.

First up, is Simplicity 2215. This a Cynthia Rowley pattern with which I'm partially familiar - I made a Talbots-inspired piece from the skirt portion earlier this year. This time around, I undertook the whole shebang, a button-up, softly pleated dress.

For the fabric, I used a charcoal-and-white pinstripe shirting, bought for a song from Fabric Mart during their summer sale. This dress is part of my quest to add more non-prints to my sewn wardrobe. (Pinstripes are technically a print, yes, but one so neutral that we can just call this a solid, agreed?) The fabric is a very fine cotton that drapes beautifully. It took to these pleats like a dream.

As a pattern, 2215 is fairly straight-forward to assemble. The bodice is lined (with the main fabric, in my case), with a layer of interfacing down the button placket and the sewist's desired number of buttons down the front as the closure. The skirt is asymmetrically pleated in both the back and front, with a mix of box pleats and tucks. Honestly, nothing about this pattern is that complicated. The pleating is a bit tedious, yes, but not difficult, while the bodice is almost dizzyingly easy to construct.

So, I should love this dress, right? Easy, cute, and almost a neutral! I do love it...belted. It's perfect belted, flattering and vaguely retro. Unbelted? It is frumptastic. This is probably my fault. I did a few fitting adjustments, based on a tissue-fit, but not a muslin. I did an FBA, then took out an additional two inches from the waist. It wasn't enough. By itself, it hangs at my waist like a sack, despite the adjustment.

Despite my worries that a hot, bearded golfer will run across this blog and see unflattering photos of me, thus negating his decision to take me to his castle in Ireland, I'm going to show you this difference. I know, I know - how very noble. Prepare yourself, friends.

Unbelted: Oh, the horror! The frumpy, waistless horror!

Belted: So cute!

I think I'm going to make this again, if only to prove I can fix this waist size issue. There is some lovely mustard yellow Lisette twill in my stash...

Things I Love:
  • The length! This is one of the first Big 4 patterns in recent memory which hasn't required me to take a ridiculously large hem. I appreciate them in skirts, but hate how they weigh down lightweight dresses. Inevitably, I end up unevenly lopping off four inches. With 2215? A simple narrow hem. Hooray!
  • The buttons! I love buttons. I love them in skirts and shirts, but especially in dresses. There is no RTW style so likely to draw my attention as a cute, buttoned shirtdress.
  • The pleats! They really do work so well with this fabric, lightly falling out from the waist.
Things I Changed:
  • Added a lining to the skirt. My fabric was ever-so-slightly see-through, so after pleating the skirt pieces, I drafted a skirt lining from them. Like the bodice, it's the main fabric, once more, and hemmed with a length of white bias tape.
  • Increased the number of buttons from four to six. The brass buttons I chose were a bit heavy for my fabric choice, so I added two to the bodice, to prevent strange bodice gaping. Because of my bust size (34DD - cue alarmed gasps from button-up shirts everywhere), I tend to err on the side of more buttons, rather than less anyway.
  • Traditional FBA and grading down at the waist.
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Grade down even more at the waist. With a ten-inch difference between my bust measurement and my waist, this is a pretty standard alteration for me, but I really would prefer to take it in even another inch or two for a better fit.
  • Use lighter weight buttons. I fell in love with these little four-hole brass buttons, but they cause the bodice to do some odd things sometimes. A lightweight button really works best, when using a light cotton.
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • Since the pleats are asymmetrical, either mark the fold directions very well or keep the pattern handy, when folding them. Otherwise, it's a breeze!
Fabric & Notions:
  • Charcoal Pinstripe Shirting from Fabric Mart - $1.99/yard (seriously!)
  • Six brass buttons - $1/button
[As always, click the pictures and they shall get bigger!]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Self-Stitched-September: Week Two

September 6, 2011

Blouse: Colette Sorbetto
Cardigan: Halogen
Jeans: Talbots
Shoes: Clarks
Opinion: Y'all, I could seriously wear a Sorbetto top every single day. Not only is it an easy pattern, but it fits well into my wardrobe - I love layering separates. Add that to my love of red accents and this outfit is a total winner. Though, confession, since I'm in the middle of a surgical rotation, I actually wore scrubs most of Tuesday. This did make cameos on the way to the hospital and out to dinner with my dear friend, Lola, however!

September 7, 2011

Dress: A frankenpattern of Simplicity 2444 (skirt) and an out-of-print Butterick pattern that I can find the number of, for the life of me.
Cardigan: Talbots
Shoes: Miz Mooz
Opinion: This is a dress I made last summer, pre-blog, at the very beginning of my sewing adventures. Not going to lie, it's not my favorite. Without a cardigan, the sleeves are a bit poofy, which gives it a slightly frumpy Laura Ashley vibe. Polka dots are always fun though! Adding a cardigan and heels makes this cute hospital attire. Under a lab coat, anyway.

September 8, 2011

Blouse: Anthropologie
Skirt: Simplicity 2343 (unblogged)
Shoes: Miz Mooz
Opinion: I love this outfit. LOVE. The pencil skirt is made of a vintage cotton jacquard, gifted from my mother, which is one of the few things I made this summer. Topped with a dark grey cardigan, this was a perfect outfit for rounds. Without the layers, it was a great dinner out with friends look. Also, I love these shoes, so any outfit in which they're included is wonderful.

September 9, 2011

Dress: Simplicity 2591
Belt: Ralph Lauren
Shoes: Clarks
Opinion: I still love this dress. SO much. If this weren't Self-Stitched-September, I probably would have worn it four times already. It's just so perfect for the awful Texas heat.

September 10, 2011

Blouse: Talbots
Skirt: Me-Made-and-Designed
Shoes: Miz Mooz
Opinion: Comfy, cute, perfect for a day of class! Not going to lie, this skirt makes me look a bit hippy, but I also love the fullness of it. Also, yeah, I totally wore those shoes two days this week. Did I mention how much I love them?

September 11, 2011

Blouse: Colette Sorbetto variation
Jeans: Talbots
Shoes: Antonio Melani
Opinion: Oh, look. Another Sorbetto top. For this one, I omitted the pleat and added a pussy bow neckline. This is probably my favorite iteration yet. While I may make another pleated version, I'm definitely going to whip up a few more bowed blouses. I love a cute feminine detail!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Autumn in Central Park: Fall Palette 2011

Over the weekend, I designed my palette for Colette's fall challenge. I'm a bit of a seasonal purist, when it comes to color palettes. For summer, I love bright primaries, whereas in spring it's all pastels and florals. During autumn? I live for a jewel tone.

Ruby, sapphire, and amethyst are my seasonal favorites. Whether in wools, crisp poplins, or all together in a tartan print, they make me long for pumpkin pie and falling leaves. Making up a palette inspiration board was a no-brainer. inspiration focus is embarrassing, friends. You see, when I think plaids, cute coats, and wool skirts my mind goes to one person. Blair Waldorf.

Yes. My fall palette is inspired by everyone's favorite Gossip Girl villainess. I know what you're thinking: Why is a twenty-six year old woman modeling her wardrobe after a CW character? Because she has the best clothes ever, of course. She sashays around in New York in bright, structured coats and all-American layers of cashmere sweaters, tights and dresses. Feel free to judge, kittens. As it is, this season I will be sewing up Blair-inspired pieces. I may even bust out a bow-bedecked headband or two.

[Click picture to enlarge!]
Palette details:
  • Color choices: It really is all about a jewel tones. I suppose you could call these colors by different names, but for my purposes they are: ruby, citrine, amethyst, sapphire, and - er - chocolate. (I know topazes can be brown, but I still think yellow. We're going with Hershey here.)
  • Fabrics: I'm planning to use a lot of wools and cotton flannels this fall. Luckily, most of these are already in my stash. I've been hoarding cold-weather fabrics for an age now, hoping the universe would get the hint and send us cooler weather. There's also a plum circle lace, from Mood, which I planned to use in the summer, but never got around to sewing up. I'm thinking it would make a divine Peony dress, underlined with a cream voile.
  • Garments: It's going to be all about circle skirts and basic dresses for me. I'm planning to kick my print habit a bit, by using some dreamy solid fabrics on some of my favorite patterns. Expect to see a few shirt dresses and other items which are easily layered.
Have you come up with your palette yet, or perhaps even started fall sewing? I refuse to start in on autumn pieces, until the thermometer dips below 85, but I'm loving the cozy creations appearing elsewhere.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Circle Skirt Sew-Along: Supplies and My Almost-Demise

Supply shopping will be the death of me. This I know. I made my first outing to Jo-Ann Fabrics the other afternoon and was just about ready to take a butter knife to my eyes. I'm convinced it would have been a more pleasant experience than what I went through.

First there was the fabric selection. I won't go into the gory details but it involved five different phone calls to Mary before I finally made it out with this flannel black and grey houndstooth. You might recall I had great hopes of a green plaid but in the end, common sense won. This is my first* sewing project, after all. Can you imagine the horror of mucking up a skirt that used $25/yd. fabric? My $6 options were limited, so grey/black houndstooth it is. This will actually look quite nice with my black suede pumps with the floral applique and I can still see it paired with a really fetching hat.

Don't think my shopping nightmares ended there. After the fabric selection it was on to the notions and my gawd, the indecision. It took me almost three hours to buy all my basics ranging from a cutting board to hem tape. The process might've been easier had I been able to find anything but I'm convinced the overlords of Hobby Lobby are also running J0-Ann Fabrics. Nothing was in a logical place, everything was picked over (thank you, Labor Day sale), and there wasn't a single employee available to assist with questions. The cutting table line was 10 people deep and when I finally managed to check out I missed one tiny little package and had to cut back in line so I could pay for it with cash and get the hell out of there. Yes, I was that person.

The good news is when I made it home I wasn't so exhausted that I didn't want to whip out my sewing machine and try a few things. I managed to thread a bobbin on the first go, thread my machine, and I even sewed a straight line on a shirt I plan to throw away. It's the little things that count and better to get them out of the way before we jump into the actual sewing bit of the CSSA.

Do any of you dread supply shopping? Is it recommended that I stick to online purchases from now on?

*If you've read my bio, you'll know this isn't my first sewing endeavor. I actually had a daycare lady who was a phenomenal seamstress. I watched her every step from quilting to bed-skirt-making to dressmaking. Under her tutelage I made an apron, a two-piece pajama set in a funky sunglasses print, a drawstring tote, pillows (I liked to make bolsters for my daybed), and many other crafty items. It's just been, you know, years since I did those so for all intents and purposes we're calling this my first sewing project.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Self-Stitched-September: Days Four & Five

September 4, 2011

Blouse: Colette Sorbetto variation
Cardigan: Talbots
Jeans: Talbots
Shoes: Antonio Melani
Opinion: Meh. I was only hanging around the house and running errands yesterday, so this was a pretty bland outfit. I do love this blouse, but I wish I had the right skirt to pair with it. I'm thinking a high-waisted khaki pencil skirt would be just right. As it was, I wore some skinny jeans and called it a day.

September 5, 2011

Dress: Simplicity 2591, (pattern blogged here)
Shoes: Clarks Fiddle Scroll
Opinion: I love this dress. I love this pattern. I love this awesome vintage fabric my mother gave me. A lot of people don't seem to wear the first item they sew, but I'm addicted to mine. The workmanship isn't the best, but it's still very cute. Also, these are the most comfortable shoes ever. I swear, I've almost exclusively worn Clarks wedges this summer. They had such a cute line and they're all a dream to walk in.

Birthday Giveaway Winners

Happy Labor Day, lovelies! Or, if you are outside of the states: Happy Monday! Here in Austin, it's been a day of lounging by the pool, eating leftover birthday cake, and playing with a random number generator. The random number gods have spoken and our giveaway winners are...

(Do we have any drummers reading? If so, cue the drum roll...)

Tasha! Winner of the lovely lavender & blue cotton sateen.

Stevie! Winner of the awesome Art Deco Anna Maria Horner fabric.

And Kirsten! Winner of any Colette pattern of her choice.

Congratulations, ladies! If you will e-mail me your mailing addresses, to, I will put your September 2nd gifts in the mail to you tomorrow. Thanks so much for entering, everyone!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Self-Stitched-September: Days Two & Three

Hello again, lovelies! Another two days of Self-Stitched-September have come and gone. Not going to lie, I was tempted today to renege on my vow already. You see, for my birthday, my wonderful mother bought me the Lupe Dress (left) from Trashy Diva. Isn't it wonderful? Check out that bias chain detail at the neckline! I practically swooned, when trying it on last month during my first pilgrimage to their store in New Orleans. (I was in The Big Easy for one night and walked 20 blocks from our hotel in sweltering temperatures. It was worth it.) If I haven't said it enough, my mother is a goddess.

However, I can't tell you how hard it was to put on a Mary-made outfit this morning, instead of this dress. One of the Saturdays I end up wearing jeans and a Sorbetto blouse, I'll be going to dinner in this little lovely. October is just too far away. But for today, at least, I was strong...

September 2, 2011

Dress: Colette Chantilly
Out-of-Frame Shoes: In With the New pumps by Seychelles

[Note: I couldn't seem to get a picture of this taken yesterday, and couldn't bring myself to put it on today, but this older photo is what I looked like yesterday, only without my current unavoidable Swedish summer tan.]

September 3, 2011
Skirt: Full denim button-up skirt, me-made-and-designed! (To be blogged about soon.)
Shirt: Talbots
Shoes: Seychelles Password Pumps

Also, thank you so much for all the birthday wishes yesterday! If you haven't yet, be sure to enter the birthday giveaway, in which I'm passing on some of my own favorite fabrics. I won't be drawing names till Monday morning, so there is still plenty of time!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hey, Hey It's My Birthday Giveaway!

Hello, friends! I hope you're having a delightful Friday. No worries that I am, because today is - tada! - my twenty-sixth birthday. I'm about to go stuff myself with Black Forest Cake and see a hopefully delightful golf movie, which will kick off a weekend of general merriment. I live for birthdays, y'all. Mine, Steph's, random people on the street's. Birthdays are a big deal around here.

Which means they should be a big deal on the blog too. Since y'all can't have any cake (which is a tragedy, because this stuff is heavenly), why don't we celebrate with fabric instead? Out of my window seat, where the mythical stash is kept, I've pulled two cuts of loveliness.

First up is this cotton stretch sateen from Gorgeous Fabrics with a lovely purple and blue floral print. There are about 3 1/2 yards, which makes me start dreaming of springy, full-skirted dresses. But it's not to up to me - what would you do with it?

My second offering is 3 yards of this awesome Anna Maria Horner cotton. It's so, so Art Deco, don't you think? I love the plums & pops of orange, which would make a perfect autumn version of the newest Collete pattern, the Peony dress.

Which brings me to my final gift to you. For a third friend of the blog, I'll send you your choice of a pattern from Colette's line. Whether it's one of the new patterns or an old classic, it's your pick!

So, there we have it. Happy September 2nd, y'all! I'll keep the contest open through this weekend, then announce the three winners Monday morning. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog entry. If you mention that you follow the blog and where (Blogger, GReader, etc.), I'll add an extra name in the hat for you!

[Note: The giveaway is open to international sewists, in addition to those stateside!]

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Self-Stitched-September: Day One

Hello again, friends! Wow, I've done a lot of blogging this week. With Self-Stitched-September kicking off, it is only going to get worse, I'm afraid. After this season, y'all may be absolutely sick of seeing my face. For today's outfit post, I at least varied the background a bit. Trying to find a well-lit, but simple place in my house to take pictures is proving difficult.

Today, I wore an unblogged dress. It's another Simplicity 2591 I whipped up last month, made in a plum-and-cream retro quilting cotton I bought from The Stitch Lab last year. Since then, I've developed a bit of a fabric snob streak and haven't known what to do with this yardage. Enter my trusty 2591! While this isn't my favorite dress, it's still a lovely shape and the fabric is pretty cute. Best of all, it's maroon! On game days, I can wear this dress and not feel like a bad Aggie. Always a plus.


Dress: Simplicity 2591
Belt: Ralph Lauren
Shoes: Clarks Fiddle Bow (of course - I love them)

Why, What A Challenging Season

Oh, friends. I'm so very excited. It's fall!

Well, that's a lie. Today in Austin, it's supposed to be 102 degrees. Not exactly the crisp autumnal weather one expects. But I'm sure we'll be wearing sweaters by Halloween. Surely. Only 2 months to go! Here's the thing - even if it's still hot as blazes here, we're ready for a change. We may be wearing tank tops and espadrilles, but we're wishing for wool skirts and boots. In that vein, I'm turning my sewing focus to a fall wardrobe.

Luckily, there are a few sewing challenges beginning that have this very thing in mind. There's the Colette Fall Palette Challenge, the cozier twin of the challenge held this past spring, where participants pick a palette for autumn and sew a capsule wardrobe over 10 weeks. Additionally, Alessa, Ali, and Sarah are hosting The Fall Essentials Sew-Along, whose participants aim to sew lovely fall necessities, such as warm skirts and layering blouses. Finally, to really kick fall off correctly, it's Self-Stitched-September! SSS isn't technically a sew-along, as the rules are really more of a wear-along, but it's a good time to add some much-needed basics to a wardrobe.

It may be a bit mad, but I'm undertaking all three. (Okay, the madness factor is greatly reduced when one considers how well these three overlap. I shall be sewing Fall Essentials in a Fall Palette, it appears.) There is one caveat, however: I'm starting a bit later. Like I may have have mentioned, it's a bit hot here and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. So, I'm giving myself a fall sewing reprieve until later this September. I may work up a few transitional pieces, but I'm going to mainly use this time to finish out some projects for the rest of summer. Specifically, the Austin City Limits Music Festival is in a few weeks' time and I need some ACL-friendly outfits. Over the past 10 years of attending, I've learned well. Sitting in a field for three days, baking in one-hundred degree weather, requires the most strategic clothing possible - normally light, flowy dresses and giant sunglasses in my case. Expect to see your fill of those, before plaid wool skirts take over the blog.

So, friends, are you joining in on any of these great challenges? If so, I can't wait to see your creations and self-stitched finery! Have you started thinking palettes and plans yet? If so, what sort of inspiration are you drawing on for the fall?

My first SSS '11 post will be up later this afternoon. Now, if only I could figure out what to wear...