White Lace Vanamo/Macaron


white lace dress - 7 of 7With this dress, I think I may have reached my pattern nirvana- it’s a franken-pattern cross between my favorite bodice and my favorite skirt. The top is from Named Pattern’s Vanamo two piece cocktail dress, a pattern very near and dear to my heart. In fact I have now made the skirt twice and the top no less than 4 unblogged times…. #futureposts. The skirt is from Colette’s Macaron pattern, which I have also cranked out a couple of times.

Continue reading White Lace Vanamo/Macaron

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!

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.


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:


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.


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)


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….


Macaron #2

A couple of months ago, after a very long hiatus, I decided to reenter the world of sewing.  The first thing I made was the Macaron dress by Colette Patterns.  Seems like I might have been biting off more than I could chew with this dress?  That’s what the salesgirl said, too. But did I listento her? NO I DID NOT!


I plunged full speed ahead with this- that is, the full speed I was capable of at the time.  Which was glacial.  It was slow, it was painful, it involved a lot of seam ripping, hair tearing, and sending pictures of the sleeve pieces to my mother so she could explain the construction to me over the phone.  I am ashamed to admit that I DID NOT EVEN have fabric shears, and in fact cut out the whole thing with some old paper scissors (don’t ever do it, it was awful). Anyway, that’s a post for another day.  The subject of today’s post is my Macaron #2. Not being put off by my difficult first experience with the pattern, I decided to make it again. So without further ado, here it is:


With quite a few other projects under my belt since the first Macaron, I found it significantly easier to sew this time around. The body is a gorgeous navy blue 100% virgin wool suiting that I bought in the garment district when I was in NYC last month.  I was meeting some friends there- but of course snuck off to fabric stores as many chances as I could get.  This particular place had some great reviews online but I was a bit disappointed when I got there.  The ancient, tiny saleslady kept following me around the shop pulling things down to suggest.  I really just wanted to be left alone….

My hangover was barely holding it’s own against the assault of flourescent lighting and bright prints, and this lady was showing me crap I didn’t want left and right.  As soon as I saw this beautiful suiting in the sale section I basically grabbed it and ran before she could suggest some “coordinating” hideousness.

Then I coveted it.  I pressed it, then left it out so I could admire it every day.  I showed it to people when they came by our apartment.  I made people listen to me talk about it.  I’m pretty sure I even  yammered to our receptionist about it.  I was also a little afraid to cut into it since it was so beautiful, but when I finally dared to after a couple of weeks it was well worth it.

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Ever since my first Macaron I had wanted to make another with a sheer yoke, so I found some matching silk chiffon downtown.  The chiffon was a real pain in the ass to sew.  I had previously made a Banksia blouse with silk chiffon so I wasn’t new to it, but that drapey blouse seemed to magically hide all of my errors.  This time there was no room to hide such sloppiness, so I had to buckle down.  I read some tutorials online which directed me to use tissue paper, and that was very very helpful.  I cut out the pieces inbetween two pieces of tissue to stabilize the chiffon, and I think it made a big difference.  The first time I cut them I did NOT do this, and though I tried to be very careful while cutting, the chiffon still got quite distorted.  I scrapped those pieces and got out the tissue after that.  I also used the tissue to stabilize the seams while I was sewing.  I’d had a lot of problems previously with the chiffon getting sucked down into the needle plate, and also with it gathering up behind the needle and puckering as a I sewed, requiring every seam to be smoothed and straightened out after sewing.  By placing tissue along the back of the fabric and sewing right through it, I eliminated both of those problems.  Afterwards I just ripped the tissue away gently.

I love the dress- it’s got to be my favorite thing that I’ve made so far. I wore it to the office the first day it was finished and received many compliments on it.  It’s probably too fancy to be an everyday work dress, but I had envisioned it as more of a party dress anyway.  Not sure what my next macaron will be…. maybe a lace yoke?