My Mad Men Challenge 3 outfit

Julia Bobbin is putting on this great Mad Men Challenge.  This is the 3rd year she’s done it, though I didn’t get into Mad Men until this year so I guess I’m woefully behind the times.

20140331-125609.jpg  Julia Bobbin - Mad Men Challenge III

Joan, of course, is my inspiration. Gotta love those pencil skirts!


I’ve been wanting to make a cherry red tie front blouse for months, and I finally found the perfect color of rayon challis online.


The top  is the Fran Tie Shirt by Named Patterns.  I love their patterns and I thought the kimono sleeves were also very sixties.  I got a bit ahead of myself with this pattern, though.  The directions are really not great, which I knew going in and decided to forge ahead anyway, and this is the first button down shirt I’ve made (well, I suppose there’s a Banksia in my past, but that guy had no cuffs in sight….).  I might have been all fine had it not been for that slippery rayon challis!  So I struggled quite a bit with this guy, and the end result is really not my best work.  So yeah….no details shots, guys.  I’ll still be wearing it just ah….please don’t look too closely at the button plackets!


The skirt is a revamped Charlotte Skirt from Christmases past.  I made it out of some wool suiting many months ago when my skillz were not quite up to today’s standards.  It had pinked seams, a hideously attached waistband, a very visible invisible zip, and most importantly it didn’t fit right.  One of those sad, never worn and never blogged makes.  I knew I wanted to pair the blouse with a pencil skirt, so I decided- why start from scratch?  I whipped this guy off the reject pile and went for it.  The first fix was to improve the fit.  This particular pattern has never worked very well for me.  It has sort of a kangaroo pouch effect in the front below the darts.  So I googled around until I figured out a fix- just lengthen and widen the darts.  That really seemed to do the trick.  Who knew it would be so easy??

Then I just serged up those seems, reattached the waistband, and put a neater hem on it.  All in all, much improved.


Thanks for putting on the challenge, Julia!  It was a blast! Can’t wait to see what everyone else makes.

The Illyria Hat

I knit this hat using a pattern I bought online from Ravelry– it’s the Illyria Hat by a designer named Bristol Ivy. She has some really cute patterns up there. This is my first time buying a knitting pattern through Ravelry and I was not disappointed.
20140327-160244.jpgThe pattern is a very pretty asymmetrical cable which comes out looking like a tree. I made it up just as written in the pattern, with no alterations.  I used some Lamb’s Pride bulky from my mom’s stash (which may tide me over until I die) in an olive green which I knew my boyfriend Dan would love.  I gave it to him for Valentine’s Day, which yes I KNOW was ages ago, but I haven’t gotten around to blogging it until now. 20140327-160303.jpg20140327-160310.jpgAnd I know what you’re thinking “but this is a sewing blog!” but hey, I was a knitter before I was a sewer, so this is just a little throwback to my roots.  I do like to keep at least one knitting project on the go at all times so that I have something to do while I watch a movie or on long car rides.  I like to stay busy….but it’s hard to take a serger on the bus so I’ll stick to my double points for now.

20140327-160317.jpgIn fact I loved the pattern so much that I decided to make another one in a different color for my Brother’s birthday. I still have more of that Lamb’s Pride bulky so I may yet make more….. Wouldn’t it be cute if everyone in my family had matching hats ala Molly Weasley?  Perhaps I’m getting a bit ahead of myself….20140327-162443.jpg


And we finish with a GIF.

Gif it up

I was going through the photos on my phone this weekend and realized that because my lovely photographer/boyfriend Dan takes sooo many shots of me in quick succession (most of which don’t make it into the blog), they are very GIFable. So I had a bit too much fun with Gifboom this weekend and made some gifs of my creations. I think it’s a cool way to show the garment in motion, which somehow seems to give a totally different perspective on it Here are a few of the best ones:

The Lady Skater

Stretch velvet pencil skirt

Virginia Leggings

The peplum dress


And of course for bonus points, my two favorite helpers.

I’ll be incorporating gifs into more of my future posts, so get excited!

Short Skirt and a Long (story about a dyed wool) Jacket!

Once upon a time I bought an ugly tan coat, and I transformed it into a beautiful red butterfly.20140321-115952.jpg

The definitive before photos.20140305-080357.jpg

I found this coat a few weeks ago at a Savers thrift store.   It was a pretty amazing trip.  My boyfriend came away with an awesome vintage jacket, a pendleton wool flannel cowboy shirt (I think I loved it even more than him.  I kept fawning over the beautiful wool and fantastic detailing…) and an antique camera worth a lot more than he paid for it. This was the first time I’d ever ventured into the coats section of Savers and let me tell you, it was FUCKING epic.  I also found a beautiful wool coat in black and white houndstooth with a little peter pan collar. So cute.  Anyway, this beauty is a cashmere and lambswool blend, and it fit perfectly.  My boyfriend tried to talk me out of on account of that ugly tan color. NONSENSE, I said.  I will dye it.

Weeeelllll I hadn’t dyed anything since my first and last box of green RIT back in high school. That time, I didn’t feel like wearing gloves.  My hands turned green.  I literally wore mittens at school for 3 days. BUT I knew it could only go uphill from there, so I went out and fetched myself a couple boxes of red red red.

Here’s how it all went:


The instructions are hidden on the inside of the box of dye.  I followed them mostly as written, with the only exception being that I did not use the amount of water recommended.  Rit calls for 3 gallons of water for each box of dye used, and one box only dies about a pound of fabric.  My coat was two pounds, so I planned to use 2 boxes but only had a 5 gallon pail in which to do the dying.  So, needless to say I wasn’t about to fit 6 gallons of water plus my large coat in a 5 gallon pail.  In the end I filled it up about 3/4 full with water and hoped for the best. I also used a couple of cups of vinegar, since apparently that helps the wool absorb the dye.


As you can see, the bucket was full full full, but with the aid of a giant spatula I kept it churning around in there for the 30 minutes the package called for.

I rinsed the dye out right there in the sink, which took about 20 minutes of non stop rinsing.  I must say with extreme pride that I managed to do the whole job without getting any dye on myself or anything else important.  Things have come along way since junior year….


Post rinse I laid it out on a towel to dry, turning it after the first night and putting a dry towel under it.  Unfortunately the lining and buttons did not take the dye very well, which was to be expected since the lining is polyester and the buttons were plastic.  I decided I could live with the pink lining, but the puke colored buttons would have to go, so I lopped them off and replaced them with some brand new bright red ones. Also the thread in the topstitching and button holes did not take the dye- so I went over it all with a red sharpie!  Creative solutions, people.

And I think it turned out pretty bangin!



And as promised in my last post, I GIFed it for you!


Copycat Peplum dress



My inspiration for this dress was the El Capitan Dress by Shabby Apple. They have some really cute vintage inspired clothing, and I love to peruse their website for ideas.  The clothes are too pricey for me- this dress was $86, but I’ve taken to doing some copycatting.  My version was a good bit cheaper- I think I paid about $15 for the remnant of wool suiting I used, and the patterns I based it off of were ones I already had.


I did a good bit of franken-patterning to get this guy together.  The skirt is a By Hand London Charlotte Skirt, the Top is a Deer and Doe Belladone, the sleeves are the adorable little scalloped sleeves from Collette’s Macaron, and finally the peplum is a self drafted half circle.  I’ve gotten quite a bit of mileage out of these three patterns- see my other two Belladones  here and here, and my Macarons here and here (though only one with sleeves).  The Charlotte skirt I have made a couple of times but never been thrilled with and so haven’t blogged any of them.  The pattern has some fit issues on me which I did not manage to solve even on this third go round, but luckily they are hidden by the peplum.


I really love the half circle peplum- I have made a couple of gathered peplums in the past and I think the circle is much more sleek- It doesn’t add as much bulk at the waist.  I also must admit that I read several blog posts about how to determine the correct length for a peplum- apparently it should just skim the top of your hips.  In order to add a bit of contrast to the dress, I finished the neckline and lined the sleeves with some 30s reproduction fabric, which peeks out of the sleeves when I’m wearing it.


I finished the whole thing off with a chunky exposed zipper (and may this trend never end!).  I think the dress turned out really beautifully overall, but it does have some fit issues.  As with my other Belladones, the back gapes pretty badly, so I usually wear a cardigan with it to hide that.  I think it may be time for to retire this pattern, because I just can’t figure out how to fix this gaping and it drives me nuts.  That’s all for now kiddos, but stay tuned later this week for a post about my fresh new (well, used if we’re being honest with ourselves here) Rit dyed coat!