Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finished Project: Teal Pendrell

Ahh, how nice to have a completed project. Even though I felt distracted by all of the sewing inspiration swirling in my head over the weekend, I managed to finish up my Pendrell blouse. Yay!

In keeping with the color scheme of the pattern envelope (oops!), I sewed this baby up in a teal rayon challis from that had been sitting in my fabric stash mountain for a few months, hoping to become a blouse. It's very soft and silky, and feels great to wear. I just love the color, and I've got a little bit of fabric left, so I might try to incorporate some of it into a future project.

As you can see, I picked the simplest version, View C, and added a peter pan collar, which I drafted using Gertie's instructions from her book. I know you might not think "Pendrell!" when you see my version, but this style is what I had in mind when purchasing the pattern. Ever since I saw Anna's cute collared version, I knew I needed to try one. I'm sure you can see why...

...if only my photos looked as nice as hers. Anyway, you're here to see what mine looks like on me, so here you have it. Note that these photos were taken after I wore the blouse at work all day. Which reminds me, I wore this to work already! It seems like, so often, I end up sewing things and then not wearing them to work or in my everyday wardrobe, but saving them for weekends or special occasions. I'm not sure why it happens, but I'm trying to stop that, since I have such a casual work dress code and there's really no excuse. I can pretty much wear as fancy or as casual of an outfit as I'd like.

Though I'd thought I was being super meticulous in my collar drafting, the pieces ended up being slightly longer than needed, so there's a little bit of overlap in the back, as you can see. At first this horrified me, but then I grew to like it, and now I think it's cute!

It works well with holding cats, too. We call him Bratman.

I just had to include this one for the crazy hair/eyes...

I definitely like this pattern and would recommend it. In case you haven't heard details from the countless other versions other bloggers have sewn up already, one plus of this pattern is that Tasia has created pattern pieces just for the bias binding/facing used on the arm and neck holes. I love this feature! Another plus? no zippers or closures to install. I hope to sew this blouse up again soon - it's already a very wearable me-made piece in my wardrobe.

The next time I make this top, I think I'll go down a size and might add a little keyhole opening in the front or back to add interest as well as make it easier to get the neck opening over my head. I'm also thinking of incorporating the little cap sleeves from View B, and would likely make the hem for the bottom of the blouse shorter, overall. This pattern definitely has a lot of options for variations.

Have any of you sewn a Pendrell blouse yet? What did you think - did you love it?
Am I the last sewing blogger on earth to make it?

Friday, January 25, 2013


I feel like I've got a lot going on in my brain & sewing room right now! I'm clinging to multiple sewing ideas, while also trying to do some refashioning and complete my Pendrell blouse. I actually took some time off work to give myself a long weekend for getting things done. However, in the sewing department, instead of being productive, I've ended up spending a lot of time marveling over all of the ideas for things I could work on. There's sewing project inspiration, potential refashioning projects waiting in a pile, and my in-progress Pendrell blouse.

Ever since starting to read (yes, read - not just flip through the pretty, pretty pictures!) 100 Years of Fashion, one particular style has been stuck in my head. I know I've claimed the '60s as my best style decade for its more wearable, cute fashions, but who can resist the New Look.

1947 'Bar' by Dior -  V&A

Something about the fitted jacket and or blouse belted over an a-line or full skirt, idea won't get out of my mind. For some reason I'm picturing myself wearing this type of suit, maybe in dark blue, boarding an airplane? Don't ask. I've found a pattern that I'm dying to try, but then again, I think I could turn Gertie's jacket and skirt from her book into just as nice of a suit, and I wouldn't have to purchase any new patterns. But, just look...

Source: via Susan on Pinterest

It's even from 1960! But, then there's also this lovely '50s pattern, too.

Source: via Susan on Pinterest

Pretty! I'm not normally into suits, but these seem so smart and fun to wear. I'm especially liking the look of the jacket being nipped in at the waist and extending down to cover the hips, but not as long as a '40s style suit jacket. This look definitely helps create that hour-glass silhouette, but isn't revealing or racy. I'd call it ladylike but cute - at least that's how I'm hoping it would look on me.

Drooling over inspiration is a lot easier than completing a sewing project, though. Which tends to leave me with too many ideas to narrow down to a starting point and no progress on my current projects.

That said, I'm also being tempted by the Polka Dot Frock Fest that's been talked up over at Scruffy Badger Time.

I already own this pattern but have yet to sew it up. I also own some blue, polka dotted fabric that's been sitting forlorn in my stash for longer than I care to recall. Sounds like a match made in heaven, if you ask me.

If I do participate in the frock fest, I'm hoping to make my version something I could wear in my casual work setting without getting "'re dressed up today" comments. I'm liking the view that's already illustrated in a   spotted fabric on the pattern envelope. Hmm... we'll just have to see.

Earlier this month, I picked up this black, wool herringbone pencil skirt at the thrift store. I think it's from the '70s or '80s? It's fully lined, has pockets, and has a little strip of elastic on each side of the waistband  This might not sound like a plus, but the elastic is not super noticeable and makes a big difference in terms of comfort! It's a great length for a vintage office-y look, but my office is pretty casual, like I mentioned, and I'll get more wear out of this piece if I shorten it to above the knee. Not really a drastic refashion, more an alteration, but yeah. That's the plan.

Thrifted wool skirt with pockets  - closeup shows elastic at side-waist

I also have 4-ish other thrifted pieces just sitting in a pile, unwearable until refashioned into something better. I've tucked them away for now because I don't want to get sick of them before I even have time to start working on 'em. I easily get carried away with all of the pieces I see with "potential," rather than keeping in mind what I'll actually have time/energy to work on and will be able to really wear when completed.

Actually Working On...
In the meantime, through all of the swirling inspiration and project plans in my head, I've come to terms with the fact that trying to work on, or even just think about, too many things at once ends up being bad news for my sewing productivity. Once I finish my current project, the Pendrell blouse, I'll move on to address any lingering sewing inspiration or refashioning ideas. That may sound dull, but I think I'll go insane if I don't focus!

In-progress, creased and droopy, teal Pendrell

Today I'm planning to draft a collar to add to my teal rayon Pendrell WIP. Gertie's tutorial from her book seems pretty easy to follow for collar drafting, so, hopefully that'll turn out nicely. I am trying to make an effort to not rush through this relatively simple project. I don't want to be tempted to cut any corners and end up with a poorly finished piece that I won't enjoy wearing. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sewing Table Snapshot

I've got a few things in the works right now. There's a sewing project I'm finally starting, as well as some refashioning of recently thrifted pieces. More details soon!

why is picmonkey making my "trasnparent" corners black?

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 Refashion #1

I've shared my sewing goals for this new year with you guys, and if you recall, one of those goals was to do more refashioning. I'm hoping to get the instant gratification of a quick sewing project, without sewing something from scratch and rushing through the steps because I want it to be done already. You know? I'm always on the lookout for pieces with potential when I'm at the thrift store, and am planning to also do a bit of refashioning of pieces I've sewn but don't seem to wear.

Up first is this spotted silk blouse from Goodwill (and the 1980s) that started out looking like this:

spotted silk, long sleeved, '80s blouse (after I'd already removed a sleeve)

The armholes and baggy sleeves were huge, but the fabric was nice and it was a well-constructed blouse, with french seams and bias-faced neckline and hem. I cut the sleeves off and made the armholes smaller. I should have added some bust darts, but I couldn't quite set them up the way I wanted them to look, so I just skipped 'em. There's some bagginess above the bust now, so I might revisit that later... or just continue to style the shirt with a cardigan.

I also took the sides in a lot, and could have done a little better with the shaping on the sides. Oh well. I'd planned to add some collar/neckline embellishment with black ribbon, or maybe even buy a peter pan collar necklace, as I mentioned in my earlier post, but am going to hold off for now. Here's what the top looks like for now.

I do like the way it turned out - it has a cheerful look and it's pretty comfortable! I styled it with a black necklace and cardigan, which helped tame the brightness of that gold/mustard shade. I'm still considering buying or making some kind of collar, probably black, since that'll look nicer next to my face than more of the mustard. We'll see what I come up with...

Here's to more refashions in 2013!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Not to me, but to the blog. Happy 1st birthday, Sewin' Steady!


One year ago today, I nervously clicked "Publish" and let the blog go live. It's been an awesome experience and I've really learned a lot. Writing the blog has truly helped me focus my dreams and plans and center things. It's been fantastic connecting with you all and the rest of the online sewing community. Thanks for stopping by and sticking with me. I really appreciate it! Cheers to another year ...or two, or more!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The '60s are my Jam.

Remember in my 2012 reflections post when I mentioned that one of the things I've learned over the past year is that even though I've loved 1950s fashion my entire life, I've found that 1960s styles are more my thing when it comes to making and wearing 'em? Well, yeah.

Recently, I've been infusing my wardrobe with even more sixties style (and working on my "wear more everyday dresses/skirts" goal). Over my little Christmas break, I snapped up a bright purple, all-season shift on sale on Etsy, and just this weekend I bought two more dresses while on an antiquing extravaganza in Frederick, MD. Check 'em out!

These dresses are easy enough to wear and not so fancy that they can't be worn for everyday, casual occasions. The linen one with white spots fits great, and the black wool one fits in the shoulders, but might need taking in along the sides for a more flattering shape.

In Frederick, I also picked up these two sewing patterns - a 1950s(?) blouse and a 1940s looking skirt. Just because the '60s are my fave doesn't mean I can't wear other decades, too, you know. Both of these patterns are the un-marked kind that don't have any printing or lines on them, only hole-punches in the shape of numbers to let you know which piece is which. Scary. I hope I don't chicken out and can actually make myself use them!

I didn't realize just how good I was being already, until typing this up now. I'm also in the midst of a refashioning project, too. Just chipping away at my "do more refashions" goal! Here's a peek.

I'd thought I would be using this black velvet ribbon to do some kind of embellishment or collar detail, but the stuff is too stiff to really work in this situation. Now I'm thinking I might make (or buy on Etsy?) some sort of embellished, detatchable black peter pan collar necklace thingy. I don't have any particularly rich black fabric in my stash to match with this spotted silk and I really don't want to buy any more FABRIC, since I'm already drowning in it.

Beaded Collar Necklace from SoStyle

I do like this collar found on Etsy. Any thoughts - make one? buy one? do something else entirely? I'm all ears.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lessons Learned, Reflections, & Inspiration

When I went to compile my top 5 lessons learned, reflections & goals, and inspiration from the past year, I got a little bit overwhelmed looking back on everything that went on in 2012. I put together a few lists to share what I came up with and accidentally threw the "5" part of "top 5" out the window. (Get ready for a long post!)

 Cool things I did in 2012
  • Started this blog and published 100 blog posts (without even planning to hit that number!)
  • Was a featured seamstress at Colette Patterns' blog for my polka-dotted peony dress
  • Participated in Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Dress Challenge with my Joan dress
  • Went to my very first local sewing blogger meetup
  • Sewed 15 completed garments (and several unfinished ones, too!) including a few sewn from vintage patterns 
  • Took the Seamless pledge for 6 months

    Mad Men Dress Challenge - Joan Dress

Things I learned in 2012
  • I love 1960s fashion. I'd always thought the 1950s were my fashion decade of choice, but have found that when it comes to sewing my own clothes (and buying vintage), for me, fashions from the 1960s are much more wearable and easier to fit into my life. Oh, and they're just adorable.
  • Taking my time to set up projects the right way the first time around is really worth it, even though it often feels boring or too slow in the moment. We've all heard this before, but I've finally had to face facts and admit it's completely true. Do it right the first time and I won't regret it later! This means more carefully matching plaids, understitching where prescribed, finishing seams properly, redoing crappy zippers, and even walking away for a break instead of cutting corners in a rush to finish a project.
  • Vintage patterns are not scary! I was nervous to sew with them because I assumed they were all more complicated, way too different from modern patterns, and just intimidating overall. Now, I've tried out a few and am in love! The style variations and garment details, not to mention the envelope illustrations are usually amazing (duh!). I especially appreciate that they just come in one size per pattern, so you don't have to trace out your particular size or follow too many crazy cutting lines.
  • Wearable muslins are more my style (than the un-wearable variety). Making muslins has always seemed like one of those things that I know is good for me, but that I just do not feel like doing (kind of like flossing my teeth :-/ ). Instead of forcing myself to make the first go at a pattern with plain muslin or other un-garment-worthy fabric, I've found that planning to do a wearable test-drive of the pattern keeps me motivated enough to continue and helps keep me from ruining any particularly special fabrics before I've worked out the potential issues with a new pattern.
  • Having the right tools for you makes a big difference. This year I got a new sewing machine that makes sewing much quicker, simpler, and more enjoyable than what I was experiencing on my great aunt's old 1960s Singer (I love that machine, but it wasn't the easiest for me to use). I also got myself some other tools, most importantly my folding IKEA table and magnetic pin caddy - both of which have been pretty much life-changing. Tools that better suit me mean more sewing, which is always good!
  • Bias tape is your friend. Use it for embellishments, binding armholes or unfinished edges, or use it instead of a facing for a neckline or a hem! I've collected a shoebox full of vintage & new pre-made bias tapes, as well as begun to make my own for certain projects. I love using it!

Bloggers who've Inspired Me

I've found inspiration, great ideas, and general awesomeness on essentially all of the blogs I've come across. This online sewing community is awesome, but you all already know that! Here are a few bloggers who have really stood out as inspiring to me this past year:
  • Tilly and The Buttons - Tilly's style is adorable, she's a smart cookie, and the clothes she makes are beyond cute. I really admire her fun, yet thoughtful, writing style and the impressive sewing knowledge she has gained and shared over the past months (and months). She's also got that awesome "Day in the Life" series that is always interesting. It's really exciting and encouraging to learn about so many creative people out there doing their thing.
  • Cation Designs - You've all seen me gush about Cindy before. Her posts are always interesting and detailed (with plenty of photos of her cat, Walnut, too), she has sewn many, many lovely garments out of bedsheets (amazing! - she's inspired me to try it out, too), and she's the brains behind the Sewing with Cats blog award, among other things.
  • A Fashionable Stitch & Sewaholic - I've grouped Sunni and Tasia as a single entry on the list here because they inspire me in similar ways. They both blog and sew about the lovely clothes they've made and plan to make, host sew-alongs and share tutorials for sewing techniques, and both have made their love of sewing a major part of their lives. Tasia designs and sells her cute, clever patterns and Sunni scours the earth for just the right sewing supplies to sell in her great little online shop. I love both of their shops, and really admire them both for doing what they do and sharing the details of how they've turned their passion for sewing into a career.
  • Dixie DIY - Dixie shares her DIY projects and fashion on her blog and makes her own patterns as well. I love her style and her projects always inspire me (have you seen the swimsuits she's sewn?!). The topics she blogs about are interesting and her posts are often rather thought-provoking (like a recent post on "poly prejudice," something I hadn't really considered before). I'm really looking forward to seeing what she brings to her blog in 2013.
  • Lucky Lucille - Rochelle is always sharing an adorable project or some fun sewing inspiration (or cute photo of her dog, Lucille), and also runs her own online store of handmade items. Her writing style is cheerful and easy to relate to and the aesthetic of her blog is so cute and fun to look at. She always seems to be working with pretty, exciting fabrics (even designing some of her own on Spoonflower), and has even just learned to knit recently (which I've been meaning to do, too, for a year).

These ladies are all so inspiring to me, but it feels a little odd to only mention a few of the numerous blogs I follow, because I'm really inspired by all of them and each one has something special to offer (that's why I read 'em!). If you're all "been there, done that" to these I've touched on, or even if you're not, I'd suggest also taking a peek over on the sidebar at the links in my blogroll. I really do read them like it's my job, and you might like to, too!

Gratuitous kitty photo

Goals for 2013

Now down to my sewing and making plans for the new year. I'm keeping these kind of general (you won't see "sew 3 pieces a month" on here), because I don't want to stress myself out or lose interest as the months go by.
  • Learn to knit. This was a 2012 goal that I did attempt, but coordinating with my friend to have her mom teach me hasn't panned out yet and the local November knitting class I signed up for with my mom was canceled, due to low enrollment. :( Better luck next year!
  • Embroider something. I've got inspiration, supplies, and a little instruction booklet, but have yet to try it out. I like that this and knitting are both more portable than sewing and could add a little more variety to my handmade projects.
  • Focus on quality. I want to really aim for higher quality in the things I make (including finishes/insides of garments) and the supplies I use, as well as the clothing/accessories I purchase, so that they last longer and are nicer to use.
  • Sew with knits (and get a serger). I've been saving up for a serger and am determined to sew knits (with, or without the serger) this year. I've even got a copy of Sew U to help me through the learning process and am ready to sew up all kinds of knit tops, dresses, and anything else I can come up with!
  • Do more refashions - of things I already own  as well as thrifted pieces - and keep up on my mending.
  • Wear more skirts/dresses year-round. I'd like to make this more possible and fill some wardrobe gaps with a few skirts and dresses that can be more casual/everyday & pair well with things I've already got. 
  • Participate in Me-Made-May, on some level. I didn't have enough me-made clothes to play along in 2012, but I'm determined to participate this year, whether I have enough or not!

That's all folks! Thanks for sticking with me for the past year (and through this long post!). I have a feeling 2013 is going to be a great one. :)