Going overboard in DC

I’m in DC this week for a work trip, which I do 3-4 times a year. I always stay with my cousins who live in Alexandria when I’m down there, and my cousin Michele usually squeezes in a trip to one outlet or another while I’m there…
Today she took me to the Crate and Barrel outlet, where they sell discounted <a href=”https://www.marimekko.com/se#SE”>Marimekko fabric. I’ve heard you can get a really good deal on it there, but I didn’t realize what an incredible markdown it would be. At $40/yard, Marimekko is normally something I would steer clear of, but here they had it for $4/yard. “What a fucking steal!” I exclaimed to myself, in front of some child.
Wasting no time, I dismissed the parents’ dirty looks and hustled towards the fabric shelves, which were practically groaning under the weight of those precious Finnish prints. I wantonly disregarded other customers as they tried to get at the bolts, spread my shit out everywhere, monopolized the salesgirl’s time, and proceeded to smash through the fake spending limit I set for myself on the ride over. I’m not going to say it was the most fabric I’ve ever bought in one go, but…..it was a good haul.

It bought it with decorating in mind, since Dan and I are moving to a new place next month.

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For curtains

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Some throw pillows maybe?

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Christmas decorations?

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Who the hell even knows??

And that’s not even all of it….

My first Banksia

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I made this blouse Memorial Day weekend this year, and I didn’t get around to blogging it until now.  My brother does a big memorial day camp out on my family’s farm every memorial day, so I was out in western MA for that.  BUT the weather was really abysmal that weekend, so I spent most of it availing myself of my mother’s Bernina and didn’t set foot inside a tent even once.  I used the Banksia Blouse pattern from Megan Nielsen.

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I love the pattern- it comes on the stiff paper, which is always a plus- and it came together fairly easily.  I’ve made a chiffon version of it since then, so stay tuned for that in a future post.

When I went out to pick out the fabric for the blouse, the salesgirl pointed to a rack of Liberty of London lawn.  The stuff runs $40/yd- so I went out, pawned my bike, came back, and bought a few yards of it.  If only…

The salesgirl, seeing my distress, ushered me over to the lifestyle line- a much more affordable quilting weight Liberty.  I thought making the whole blouse out of quilting cotton would look too home-ec, so I opted for a solid voile for the body, and made a contrast placket and bias neck binding out of the lifestyle.

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…. and now it’s my favorite blouse. Also, now that I’ve made this, I see peter pan collars everywhere.  Like buying a yellow car?

Pictures were taken on the farm- photo credit to my lovely boyfriend, whom you can find over at Lost Continent Books

Chiffon Maxi Skirt

It turns out my ill-advised love affair with chiffon is not over.  It’s a tricky minx- slithering around, fraying every which way, bunching up behind the needle.  I keep trying to swear it off….

but then I wandered over to windmil fabrics on my lunchbreak yesterday and saw these gorgeous blue stripes.  So I thought “one more thing can’t hurt…. lemme just whip up a July 4th maxi real quick.”

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And that’s what I did!  I’m quite pleased by how it turned out, and I finished it just in time for our backyard barbecue   Well, sort of.  In typical fashion, everyone showed up at least an hour late, and I was actually still sewing on the hook and eye  when the first guest finally arrived.

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This time the chiffon was a bit easier to work with.  The last couple of things I’ve made were with silk chiffon, and it seemed to be a lot more slippery than this synthetic stuff was. The fabric is sheer, so a lining was necessary.  I didn’t want to go full length though, so I lined it just to the knees to keep things breezy and avoid any sort of unintended Ren Faire/Sansa Stark effect.

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I didn’t use a pattern for this one, I just  read some blog posts to see how other people did it.   Elastic waistbands usually look horrible on me, so I avoided that and instead went the invisible zipper route. I originally tried to make the waistband out of the lining fabric, thinking that it would be a cute detail (aka feeling too lazy to make a waistband out of the chiffon), but that turned out awful.  The lining fabric looked cheap (probably because it is) and it was way too flimsy.  So I ripped it out and decided to bite the bullet and make a waistband with the chiffon.  Once I fused it to some interfacing it was even easier to work with than the lining fabric anyway, and I think the wide stripey waistband looks pretty awesome, so I’m glad I re-did it.

The whole project took maybe 5 hours and cost about $16.  So eat your heart out, American Apparel:

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Hope you all had a happy 4th!

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New sewing box!

I bought a new sewing box today.  It’s a vintage makeup case from Sears.

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I bought it to take to the six week long sewing class I’m taking this summer.  The first class is tomorrow and I’m pretty stoked. I don’t know what to expect as the website was pretty confusing.  I think it’s a bring your own project type of class, so I’m bring the makings of the Datura blouse which I just purchased.  Anyway, the case has plenty of room for all of the things I need for my class:

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FYI in case you were wondering- I haven’t embarked on some sort of steampunk LARPing getup involving hardware, those washers are actually my pattern weights.

My first foray back into sewing

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I’ve only recently returned to the world of sewing.  My mom, a prolific quilter, taught me how to sew as a kid, but my impatience and total lack of interest in mainstream sewing patterns led me to abandon it for years.  I got into a lot of other crafty pursuits- knitting being chief among them, but my sewing machine was left in a corner to gather dust.

One Sunday earlier this year, I was wandering around the SoWa vintage market and caught sight of a quirly little boutizue fabric store.  On a whim, I decided to venture in. Once inside, I was totally wowed by the racks of independent designer patterns- Megan Nielsen, Collette Patterns, By Hand London, Victory -they had it all.  I had never been in a fabric store like it before.  My mother had only ever taken me to quilt shops, and my only experience with patterns had come from paging through catalogues at JoAnn’s.  So of course that meant the big 3- Butterick, McCalls and Simplicity- and I had always found their patterns to be pretty out of date and frumpy.

Seeing all of those amazing independent pattern companies inspired me to dig out my machine and give sewing another try.  The first thing I made was the Macaron dress by Colette patterns.

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As I wrote in my last post, I struggled  with the pattern.  I was pretty rusty….. and this was probably not the best choice for my first project in years.   I ended up going back later to fix a lot of the mistakes I made the first go round- inserting the zipper wrong, sewing some of the pleats down in the wrong direction, etc.   Here’s the original:

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I finished the dress just in time to wear out to dinner for me and my boyfriend’s one year anniversary, April 19th.  That day, as some of you may recall, also happened to be the date of the massive manhunt for the Boston marathon bombing suspects.  The hunt shut down the entire city. We literally weren’t allowed to leave our homes- so that’s where we had our anniversary dinner.

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I also originally sewed the dress with a contrast waistband, which made it look sort of smocklike, so I went back and changed that as well.  (bonus points, in this shot I’m wearing my mission maxi)

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Eventually I may get around to re- reinserting the invisible zipper, since the last time I did it I put it in backwards, making it totally VISIBLE . Whoops….

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