Friday, August 31, 2012

Warmer Weather Wardrobe Revisit

At the beginning of spring this year, I put together a Warmer Weather Wardrobe sewing plan. Now that spring is over, summer is wrapping up, and fall is rapidly approaching, I thought I'd do a little revisit to see how my warmer weather sewing panned out.

First off, I specifically noted in my plan that I was something of a slow sewer, seeming to take about a month to sew anything, regardless of the size or complexity of the project. I'd wanted to take this into account when trying to form a realistic sewing plan. I think I can now say that my sewing has gotten a little speedier, though nothing to brag about. I've just gotten some more experience under my belt, which always helps things go faster.

Anyway, my plan had me really trying to work from stuff I already had in my sewing room to meet my warmer weather wardrobe needs. The first thing I made was my vintage Simplicity 3266 blouse. This was my first foray into sewing with vintage patterns and I got to use some cute fabric I already had.

Simplicity 3266

I love the idea of this blouse, but it just hasn't been something I end up wearing. It's one of those tops that seems to demand to be tucked in, but even when I do, it still seems blousy and poufy and unflattering. I planned to remake it with a more subdued collar shape and slightly narrower sleeves to see if I could make it work, but have yet to actually do so. 

I also had grand plans for a Ginger skirt made up in denim, after being inspired by the numerous cute versions floating around out there on the internet. I wanted to perfect the fit before cutting into denim, so I made it first in dark blue broadcloth I'd had in my stash. 

Colette Patterns' Ginger

I like the way this one turned out, though I will make some tweaks to the waistband for my next version, but I still haven't gotten around to sewing it up in denim, or any other version for that matter! Luckily this first version does get some wear in my summer wardrobe, and will hopefully continue to do so, at least for the beginning of fall.

The two more exciting pieces on my sewing list were wedding guest dresses. I sewed them up from patterns that were already in my stash and most of the fabric was stuff I'd already had, as well. Even though these are party dresses, I think they might be the most wearable (or maybe just the most fun to wear) pieces I created from my spring/summer sewing plans. 

The Milly Wedding Guest Dress - New Look 6910 (modified a lot)

Polka Dot Wedding Guest Dress - McCall 5845 bodice (modified) + a circle skirt

And that's it! The above projects were all pieces that came directly from my warmer weather sewing plan. But that doesn't mean that's all I made to add to my spring and summer wardrobe. Sometimes you can't always just stick to the plan - you have to go where inspiration takes you! These pieces were created as quick, fun projects that were not really planned out at all. I find that these types often end up being my favorites.


My Estate Sale Dress made from McCall 9735

This cute blouse, that I still haven't completely finished (oops!), made from McCall 9458. I LOVE the fabric, though, so hopefully I'll be making this baby wearable soon.

My latest project, the bow blouse from Simplicity 2154, using the spotted rayon shirting I'd originally planned to use for a Sencha blouse (a pattern that's STILL on my to-sew list).

What was on my warmer weather sewing plan that didn't end up getting done? 

Well, for one, this pretty rayon challis is still sitting in my fabric stash. I love it but just haven't found the perfect project to use it for yet. Hopefully I will soon!

abstract floral rayon challis

Same thing goes for the pencil skirt that has been on my to-sew list for longer than I can remember. I keep telling myself I'll get a pattern perfected and then make a zillion versions, but haven't actually done so yet. Now that my dress code at my new job is very casual, I'm not sure if I'll even need many pencil skirts...though I do love them.

That's all for my little recap. In other news, I actually managed to sew Tom's birthday shirt up in time to give it to him as a gift, but I'm going to need to do some adjustments to it before I can post about it here. It's currently too big (surprise, surprise - thanks for all the extra ease, McCalls). Since he wasn't around while I was sewing it, and it was kind of a surprise, I wasn't able to fit it to him as I sewed, so I knew this would happen. Anyway, I'll share more details once I get it officially completed. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

August's Estate Sale Finds

Passes the cat test

This month, Tom and I went to an estate sale just a few minutes away from our house (they're usually more of a journey). We picked up some fun, new-to-us things, a few of which I thought you all might be interested in. 

Up first, a new computer chair for me. It looks like it's from a mid-century kitchen set, but there was only the one chair. 

mid-century chair ... sparkly!

It's a light gold color with brown and green little criss-cross marks on it and gold and silver sparkles. It's a good little chair... though the seat could use a bit more cushioning. Here it is in it's new habitat.

computer chair

See, we don't have enough space in our computer/sewing room for Tom and I to both have desks and my sewing table and our big bookcase, so I have my fold-out sewing table and a little rolling filing cabinet thing where my laptop lives. I just pull my chair up next to it and type away.

I also picked up a cute 1960s-ish sweater dress and two vintage slips. The only sewing stuff I found at the sale was a little box with some old thread on cardboard spools. I was tempted at first, but then thought... I don't really NEED this, so I put it down (and patted myself on the back for being so responsible). 

sixties sweater dress

The dress is charcoal grey, dark orange (looks light/bright here), and an olive-brown color (also a little darker IRL), with slightly longer than 3/4 length sleeves. It came with this cute little circle brooch on it, which I think should just live on there forever. The dress comes down to a couple inches above the knee and seems like it'll be great with a pair of tights for fall and winter.

Here's a look at the two slips I picked up. I'm not quite sure what I'll end up wearing them with (since they're black - I don't want them to show through my clothes), but we'll see. I couldn't make myself pass them up.

This one has scalloped details at the neckline and hem.

This one has sheer, mesh-backed lace at the bust and hem and a lovely scooped neckline in the front and back.

Also at the estate sale, in the same room with the slips and a lot of other random, slithery, polyester blouses and scratchy pants was this interesting old trunk. I took a peek inside and found an assortment of clothes and other items - some were pieces of a sailor uniform, one was a cute, bright plaid sleeveless summery dress with the original price tag on it, but nothing really tempted me.

Unfortunately, at some point in its life, the inside of the trunk was painted a beige color, perhaps even while all those clothes and things were still in it, and there was crumbly paint on everything inside (and around) it.

neat looking old trunk

Tom got a fancy new camera this week, which is why the trunk picture and the Duke picture actually look good. The others were taken with my sad little camera, but future posts will likely see some better looking photos, hopefully!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Pattern pieces for Tom's shirt have been shoved aside. I just got Gertie's New book for Better Sewing in the mail, way earlier than expected! It's safe to say I'm a *little* excited.

It looks AMAZING so far. I can't wait to start reading the thing cover-to-cover and planning projects with the adorable patters included! Yay!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Finished Project: Simplicity 2154 Bow Blouse

Finished Simplicity 2154

So, my latest project, the bow blouse in Simplicity 2154, has been completed and officially released into the wild. I finished sewing it over the weekend but didn't get around to wearing it until today. It's definitely a comfy yet cute blouse, so I'm hoping to make some more versions in the future. And, just so you know, those are JEANS, not leggings I've paired it with in the above picture. :)

blouse front

I wish the bow would sit more like this...

As you can see, I opted for a floppy bow on this blouse, rather than the interfaced version prescribed by the pattern. I purposely left the interfacing out of the bow to make it softer, but kind of wish I'd actually put it in! It's just SO floppy (especially because of the drapey rayon shirting I used) and I think I might like it a little better if it was stiffer...with more of a defined bow shape.


I used a vintage red button for the back closure and kind of fudged the back opening since I'd somehow not noticed that one side of my collar was about half an inch shorter than its mate, meaning things didn't quite line up where they met in the back. Boy, do I love the collar on this blouse, though! It's just too cute.

When putting this top together, I (on a whim) omitted the side zipper and am able to just fit it over my head with no zip needed, since there's the little opening in the back.

The sleeve and neck openings were finished with self bias strips, with their own pattern pieces for cutting 'em out and everything. It was nice to have everything all measured out for me and I really like the way the finishes turned out.

Blouse back with collar close-up

I really enjoyed constructing this blouse - it was so refreshing to make something simple and quick after sewing back to back dresses as my most recent prior projects.

Here's what it looked like when I wore it to work. I was a little nervous to go 100% sleeveless at work, for whatever you get to see a cardigan shot, as well.

How I wore it to work.

What's up next?

More blouses for me, maybe a dress... and a shirt for Tom's birthday (shh!)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Just a peek...

I've finished my Simplicity 2154 blouse using the leftover fabric from my Wedding Guest Dress. Here's a peek at the finished object.

I'm planning to wear it this week and will report back with more details (and photos) about the entire project afterwards, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Finished Project: Milly Wedding Guest Dress

If you'll recall, I left off with this dress having completed it but not being 100% pleased with the final product. The skirt is made from a piece of Milly silk that I snapped up from the remnants bin a little while back and this dress was my first time working with silk. The main part I wasn't pleased about on the final dress was the hem.

hem results

Here's what went down, as I'd previously reported:
This silk is so freakin' bouncy and buoyant and light and perky that it will not make a nice crease to save its life. I'm not used to working with silk but that perkiness was not an issue until I decided to hand-stitch a 3-inch hem. Also, though you can't see the actual thread on the right side of the hem from my stitching, you can see little dents from it. Damned shiny, sensitive silk. :( It doesn't look horrible IRL, but it makes me feel like foolish riff-raff who neither understands how nor deserves to work with nice material.

Well, after reaching out for suggestions (thank you all for your responses!), I was reluctant to un-do the hem I'd already sewn and was considering either continuing to press the hem to death to make it stop being poofy, or suck it up and re-do a much smaller hem.

What actually ended up happening?

I tucked the dress away in the closet, planning to revisit it before the wedding, and then promptly forgot about it.

the finished dress

That's right, I didn't end up making any changes to the completed dress after all.  However, if I were to sew the same thing again, I'd definitely do the smallest hem possible, as well as probably cut the bodice a size smaller (since it's cotton sateen with stretch to it), line at least the bodice, and cut the pink collar strips shorter and on the bias so that they fold over the curved neckline better and the tie isn't as long and floppy.

Changes I made to the pattern - New Look 6910:
  1. Gathered skirt (via Gertie's tutorial), not pleated
  2. Made gatheres at the top and little pleats in the bottom of the cap sleeves - they looked like little wings, IRL before. This little trick was inspired by Gillian's sleeves on her Peony.
  3. Drafted a pink collar inspired by the Beverly dress.
  4. Didn't add pockets like the above photo makes it look, but should have!

All in all, I'd say the dress was a success! I got some nice compliments at the wedding and the (...interesting) DJ even dedicated a song to me out of the blue, while mentioning my dress - hah! The song was the American Bandstand theme song, which I had no idea how to dance to, but oh well. Tom and I gave it our best fake 30 second swing dance and then discreetly left the dance floor.

Tom and I dancing to another song

There is a definite sock-hop-ish feel to the dress, which isn't a bad thing, but it's definitely... a thing! I'd originally styled it with a wide black belt at the waist and some retro heels, but ended up opting more for comfort and lost the belt before the end of the evening and didn't even make it out of the hotel room without switching to flats.

Styled with heels and a belt

Now that I've finished my wedding guest dress sewing, I almost don't know what to do with myself! "Almost" being the key word there. I'm making slow, lazy progress on my Simplicity 2154 blouse and may or may not be planning a (already anticipated to be belated) birthday shirt for Tom's birthday later this month. Luckily, Tom's brother is getting married in June 2013, so I'm not without future dress planning to do...even if it is a way into the future.

Friday, August 10, 2012

New WIP & Winning!

So, for all of you out there who assumed I was done with all of that white and red rayon I used for my latest wedding guest dress,'re wrong. Sorry! I have just enough left to squeeze out a blouse I've owned the pattern for forever but haven't gotten around to trying until now - Simplicity 2154!

There have been loads of ridiculously adorable versions of this cute blouse popping up all over the place. Have you seen Scruffy Badger's, Liz's, and Alana's? Just to name a few.

Someday, I'll make the skirt too.

Sleeveless bow blouse

I've been a bit busy since returning from vacation and am preparing to participate in more wedding festivities (and will be wearing my Milly Wedding Guest Dress) this weekend, so progress here will be slow. Hopefully it will be a relatively quick project, though - it's just a blouse!

Laying out pattern - I just LOVE my huge pincushion from A Fashionable Stitch

So far I've only cut everything out and not done any actual sewing yet, but I'm excited to get started! Even though I'm repeating the fabric from my last project, it'll be nice to be working on something smaller scale than a party dress. Also, I've been noticing a lack of cute, wearable tops in my wardrobe, so I'm hoping this blouse will help me in that area.

Also of interest, I just recently won (my first) giveaway over at Seams Sustainable!  Dee, who blogs there, is a super talented sewist (she's creating her own wedding dress!) who also excels in other crafts, like jewelry making. To celebrate her 100th blog post (congrats, Dee!), she gave away a lovely pair of handmade earrings made from reclaimed faux pearls and faceted glass.

weird lighting - doesn't capture the sparklyness!

I'm thrilled to have won a giveaway and feel like I really lucked out with this one. Can't wait to wear these to a fancy occasion - thanks, Dee!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finished Project: The Wedding Guest Dress

Annnd, we're back!

I've returned from my time off vacationing and participating in friends' wedding festivities. The past week or two has been a bit of a whirlwind  - and now it's AUGUST! What? Where did half of summer go?!

Anyway, as promised, I've got all the juicy details on my latest finished project. Just for the record, I did complete this dress in July, so it still counts toward my one-finished-project-a-month goal - yay!

On the pretty patio at the wedding with Tom.

Dressmaking Details:
  • On the bodice, I lowered the front neckline by 1.5" 


  • Added 2" to the back of the bodice to help hide my bra, but then somehow ended up liking the final look better without one!
  • I made all of the darts inside, instead of outside as the bodice design prescribes.


  • I lined the bodice with muslin and half-assed some bias facing to finish the armholes, since I didn't construct the bodice as I should have in order to properly incorporate the lining (like this). Maybe next time I'll do it right!
  • Ended up just making a small hem for the circle skirt without too much trouble. It isn't perfect, but looks ok to me. 

circle skirt hem and sad (but functional) armhole finish

  • Tried French seams for the first time on the unlined skirt. 
  • I'd wanted to do something interesting in the back since the design of the dress is fairly simple, so I created a tiny key-hole thing with a bow clasp.  

    I used a sturdy clasp and some small snaps to secure the back bow. Note: photos were taken after wearing (and sweating!) in the dress all evening!

  • Didn't actually follow any instructions when constructing the dress, other than the waist-stay tutorial. It was fun to kind of just "make it work" as I went along - even though it didn't result in the most perfectly finished garment.

Waist stay details - sorry for the wrinkles!

Outfit Details:
  • As for my hair, I just put it up in a bun and pinned back my "bangs" (they're almost too long to be called that) in a little swirl.


  • Opted to pair the dress with a thrifted red belt, rather than making one - much easier!
  • Wore with a pair of white wedges and a vintage straw/woven purse. 

vintage(?) straw purse
    • I got the purse at an antique store in Napa, CA a year or two ago when Tom and I were vacationing there. I have no idea what year or decade it's from, though I did notice a tiny "Made in China" tag inside, if that's any indication of its age. I love wearing it because it's just big enough to hold my phone, camera, wallet, and sunglasses and doesn't weigh a ton.

Results of Wear:
  • Let's just say that sitting in the hot sun in 90+ degree weather during the ceremony had me doing *some* sweating, which ended up causing several of the red spots on the fabric to BLEED. I should have seen this coming, since there was a little bit of slight bleeding/running of red-ish dye when I originally washed the fabric prior to starting the project. 

bleeding dots :-/

  • Also, the skirt is now totally wrinkled and creased in a million places - oh well!
  • The back bow kept coming unsnapped whenever I moved, but that wasn't a serious problem, since the clasp stayed firmly closed (keeping the dress from falling off!). It just resulted in one side of the bow flopping around a little bit while unsnapped.

slightly crooked back closeup!

  •  The back did get a little scrunchy/slouchy at times as you can kind of see in the photos.
  • The waist stay started to feel a bit constricting by the end of the night. I definitely unclasped it for the car ride home!

All in all the dress was a hit and I'm pleased with the final result. It was my first go at making a circle skirt, a waist stay, and improvising the back bodice closure the way I did. :)

Yay dress! and Congrats to Mike and Alison! (and yay, food! The salad I've clearly demolished in this photo had edible FLOWERS in it!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guest Post by Neeno: McCall’s 6331 Pattern Review

Ahoy there! Today we've got our second guest post for the week from another of my favorite bloggers. Today, you'll get to hear from Neeno who is simply adorable, in my expert opinion. If you're in the mood to drool over some adorable AND superbly made dresses, scroll down to check out her post here and then hop on over to her blog and take a look at some of her recent projects. Girl can sew a dress...and line it! As Gordon Ramsay would say (on "MasterChef"), "STUNNING."
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Hi there! I’m Neeno from the blog Sew Me Love.

I’m 25 and I live in Melbourne, Australia. I started sewing
and reading sewing blogs in July 2011 and started blogging in September 2011 to
document my journey and also to share my experiences with other sewists.

I was so excited when one of my favourite bloggers
Sue asked me to write a guest post for her blog while she is sunning
herself on beaches in North Carolina. Lucky lady! 

I came across Sue’s blog
during the Julia Bobbin Mad Men challenge in March 2012, and since then I have
been absolutely smitten with her and her creations.

I have never written a guest post before so I wasn't sure what to write. I am not experienced enough to write a tutorial or share with you any special sewing skills, so I have written a pattern review for a dress I whipped up especially for Sewing Steady!

The dress I have made is the Melissa Watson for Palmer Pletsch McCall’s 6331 Misses' Romper and Dresses pattern, which I made a couple of weeks in beautiful floral cotton sateen but it ended up not fitting properly because of adjustments I made to the bodice. You can read more about that disaster here.

Moving on from that version, I cut a different size, and left the pattern unmodified.

I really love the bustier top, with the bra cups, so sexy and flattering for me, compared to a regular strapless style - like the M5850 which I felt "squished" me in.

I only used the bodice from the pattern and replaced the skirt with a simple pleated skirt. The bodice is quite easy to put together once you conquer the convex/concaves... which I am still at a loss with sometimes! On the last version, I perfected it!! Even the muslin had perfect cups. It must have something to do with the fabric. I used cotton sateen for the last version and muslin, this dress is satin.

I interfaced the fabric to stabilize it, but I still had issues with the cups. There's a little wrinkling on the side. I unpicked many times, then gave up. A non-sewist would probably think it was part of the design anyway so I didn't get too stressed about it.

It's amazing how those pieces join to make a bra cup!
See the wrinkles on the side of the bra cup? For the life of me could not get rid of them!

The bodice is self lined, I decided to use the leftover boning to bone this dress. I thought it could use it since the satin is very soft. The skirt lining is magenta bemsilk. I love that marone/magenta/wine/cranberry color. It is my favorite colour combo. Originally I was going to make another 'black & wine' dress using this pattern, but changed my mind and made a black dress with magenta skirt lining instead. I added some lace to the lining hem. I was lazy, I didn't hand sew the hem :/

Pattern Review:

Pattern: Melissa Watson for Palmer Pletsch McCall's 6331self drafted skirt, no halter strap.
Size: 4 bust, 8 waist, A/b cups
Fabric: 1.2m satin (black), 0.5m bemsilk lining (magenta)
Notions: Dress zipper 14" (back), Gutermann thread (000), interfacing, polyboning, 1.2m lace
Time: 3 days
Techniques used: 
    • Boning
    • Handpicked zipper
    • Self drafted pleated skirt

The inside!

Handpicked zip.
Boning on the side of bodice.

The outside.
I found my waist!

I left the pattern as is and did not add any length to the bodice, and the waist is sitting exactly where I want it to and my belt is very happy to be back where it belongs!

Little pleats!

Fabric is too soft.
Can see everything happening in between the seams!
Handpicked zip. Not the best, bad good enough for my second attempt.

 Overall I am very happy with this dress. Not bad for 3 days work. I have two events coming up at the end of the year that I need pretty dresses for and I think I will be making this bodice again. 
I think I'll wear this to a girlfriend's 25th birthday next weekend.

Areas for improvement:

  • handpicked zip needs to appear more "invisible"
  • need to get rid of the wrinkles on the side of the bra cups
  • really should have hand sewed the hem...might unpick it later!
I hope you guys enjoyed reading my pattern review. I really love this pattern, it's my other best loved pattern besides the M5845 which I have made a lot of dresses using the bodice.

If you want to have a peek at what other dresses I have made, pop on over to my blog and check out my Finished Projects page. I have only made dresses and skirts so far. 

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the wonderful Sue for inviting me to write a Guest Post, I am so honoured to feature on your blog.