Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Handmade Jane Dresses

Hello Stashbusters!
  Since I'm buried in the mountains of Montana this summer, I'm not making any dresses this month. Never fear! I've got several ladies from around the blogosphere who are sharing their thoughts on dresses and giving you loads of amazing inspiration! We're going to start off with the lovely Jane from Handmade Jane. I hope you enjoy her slightly vintage perspective!

How long have you been sewing? 
Almost five years. I took a dressmaking class in 2009 when my youngest started school and was hooked from the very first lesson!

Do you have a fabric stash?
Yes and believe it or not, it's actually pretty manageable. For dressmaking I have one large box of main fabrics, plus a box of lining fabric, a box of gingham and polka dots and a box of heavier weight fabrics such as denim and knits. I'm quite careful when buying fabric - I never buy more than I need and I usually have a good idea of how I'm going to use it. Although this can often change if a new pattern comes along and sweeps me off my feet!

What was the first dress you made? 
It was McCall's 2401, a classic fitted shift dress and very easy to make. Sadly, I never wore it as it always looked a bit office-like for everyday wear. The fabric was also wrong for the dress: it was a coral coloured Liberty quilting cotton, which didn’t suit me and was far too thin. Making that dress taught me a lot about choosing the right fabric!

What was the most challenging dress you have sewn? Why?


I’d have to say my Colette Patterns Oolong dress, which I made for my brother’s wedding in 2011. It’s all cut on the bias, so the entire dress and lining had to be cut from a single layer i.e. not on the fold, which took forever. The silk lining I chose was just too difficult to work with (silk??? what was I thinking?!) so I ended up underlining it instead with thin cotton muslin. Sewing with bias cut fabric was very challenging, especially for a relative beginner as I was then, but I got some great tips from my readers, which really helped. It turned out beautifully in the end and is now one of my favourite dresses.

What is your favorite dress to wear? Why?


The style was a little out of my comfort zone, but in terms of feeling fabulous, my By Hand London Georgia dress is a favourite dress to wear. It’s incredibly flattering and I get so many compliments when I wear it! The stretch pique fabric means it’s comfortable to wear too.

Why do you think dresses have such long lasting appeal?
Wearing a dress means your entire outfit is sorted in one fell swoop, so I think practicality is definitely part of the appeal. I also think however plain and simple the design of a dress is, wearing one always makes you feel a bit more chic and dressed up.

Why do you personally love dresses? 
Both of the reasons above - I’m totally lazy, so an outfit in one go will always appeal! I also think dresses are indisputably feminine and wearing them makes me feel pretty – it’s as simple as that! 

Do you have a particular style of dress you like?

My favourite style of dress is the shirt dress. They’re simple and cute yet still manage to carry off a vintage edge. I love that fact that they’re so easy to wear too – just do up a few buttons and you’re good to go. I have one made from simple cotton, one in a fancier Liberty lawn and one in denim!

Wow, Thank you Jane! Aren't those some fabulous pieces! Makes me want to go whip up a couple now! I think she does such a nice job of making vintage wearable today. Do you like sewing vintage looks?

Monday, July 7, 2014

July Stashbusting: Theme & Challenge

Hello Stashbusters!

July is all about the pretties, the fluff, the fun, the DRESSES!!! The reason so many of us learned to sew and continue to sew. This is the month to pull the fun from the stash and create something nice.

It's not all fun and games though, we still have our Curating challenge! I'm not about to let you off while I'm galavanting around the mountains chasing kids. Just because I'm not tethered to my sewing machine means you get time off! :)
July's Curating Challenge is focusing on our pattern stash. So many dresses are statement pieces and those patterns we'll only make once. Or we have that ONE pattern to rule them all that adapts for any and ever situation. Or how about those duplicates? I find myself gravitating to the same styles over and over again. How many poofy 50's dress patterns does one girl need? ;)
Go through your stash and get rid of those patterns you know you'll never sew again. Find that one pattern you've been wanting to make forever and finally whip it up. Let's prune the dead wood so our favorites can flourish!

It's up to you! What dress pattern do you want to sew up this month?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Do You Like Big Purses?

I do, and the moment I clapped eyes on the Presidio Purse I knew it had to be mine! Camp was coming and I needed something I could drag all over and not worry about destroying. At the same time I decided it was time for a new purse. I combined both needs with some massive stash busting. I found a cache of old work jeans I’d been harboring for years and realized it would be perfect to drag all over the mountains!


My rough and ready pieced denim Presidio!
Since I was in a hurry I decided to eliminate all extra bits and just do a stripped down version of the purse. As I began to disassemble my jeans I decided to add pockets back in, with the jeans back pockets and the next thing I knew I was piecing the butt of one of my brother’s old pairs to the front for three pockets in one. It looked so cool!! I think my subconscious was so delighted with Carolyn’s jeans piecing that I had to give it a try.


Three pockets on the outside and two on the inside! Love how much junk you can throw in here! No cramming needed.

I topstitched it all in hot pink thread because it seemed like a fun idea. Doing both the outside and the lining in denim made for one heavy bag and my sewing machine wasn’t too happy in some spots but it powered through! I love my Necchi! 

Other notes: Loved the way the handle was constructed. I did a double take the first time I read  the instructions but the result is clever and clean. 

I was surprised at how quickly the purse came together but I intentionally didn’t fuss about the construction. I was coming off of the battle of the buttonholes and just wanted something simple to put together. Not having to worry about my stitching and free piecing this bag was very therapeutic. Slashing up a bunch of old jeans and getting to throw stuff away was cathartic as well. 
Just an fyi, there are small openings in the top of the purse at either end of
the zipper. I didn't know this and it puzzled me for a bit.

To sum up. I LOVE it! I can’t wait to make another in some pretty fabric with the amazing details in the fall! Have you tried the Presidio? Do you have a favorite bag pattern?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How To Travel With An Iron

Just in case you're coming around for the first time, I live in the middle of nowhere and I have gad in my heels. Why am I telling you these seemingly random facts? Well as a seamstress that travels, my sewing supplies spend a lot of time on the road and packing them has always been a tricky thing.

The worst culprit is my IRON!! You have to use it right up to the end, then you have to wait for it to cool down and delicately place it in your car so it doesn't burn or melt anything. At least it used to be... I'd like to introduce you to my iron's carrying case.
What? You do not understand it's full gloriousness? Let me show you more!!

You take that heat resistant fabric, heat resistant batting, regular batting and fabric and layer them together. Quilt and bind.

Your iron sits in the middle and you do a bit of creative fabric folding to get this...

A handy carrying case!
Buttons and elastic loops hold the layers
together. We also added a loop and button to hold
the cord outside, because we don't want to melt
that either!

Hey little buddy! How ya doing in there! You ain't gonna burn my new car now!!!

I keep using "we" because our whole group made these on one sewing day. One of the ladies had figured it all out and showed us how to do it. It was such a relaxing day and a super useful, yet fun, project. I've used mine several times and it works FABULOUSLY!!

Do you take your sewing on the road? How do you transport your iron?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June Stashbusting: Containment

A new month, a new journey. I've made it to camp where I'll be working for the next couple months. Bring on the kids, crafts and the sunshine! It's so gorgeous here and I'm loving it! My internet is wonky so you're getting post with no photos today.
While I may not be spending much time sewing now, I did plan ahead so I've still got some projects to show you guys but I probably won't be posting as often. It's all up to you guys now. Don't let that fabric multiply while I'm gone!
June's Stashbusting sewing theme is containment! It's all about making things to put other things in. I was surprised at how vast an amount of things to sew this actually covers.
Our Curating Challenge is all about containment too! We're going to be organizing that fabric stash so it's accessible and lovely to look at. I'll be back later this week with my new method that's working fabulously! Until then, let me see your stash in all it's gory details! Did you post a photo in the Flickr pool at the beginning of the year or are you hiding it?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

If Rambo Had A Girlfriend...

She'd be able to live on air and sunlight

She'd be able to run like lighting and disappear in a moment

And she'd totally steal his turban and refashion it into a cozy, comfortable sweater shrug for all those cold nights around the fire.


I want to thank Erin so much for letting me participate in this super fun sew-a-long. I hope I didn't underwhelm everyone since what I made wasn't very technically difficult. I needed something quick and an extra sweatery thing seemed like just the ticket. I hope you like it because I love what I made! It's surprisingly warm and super comfy. I've been using it a ton on the road and expect it to see a lot of use this summer since it's so easy to throw on.

I hope you enjoyed this goofy interpretation and to see more Rambo Projects check out....

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fixing The RTW Cardigan Problem Cocoa Shrug Review

When Steph released the Red Velvet collection I was most excited about Espresso and the shrug patterns so I went ahead and bought the whole collection. There’s been a big discussion in the MMM forums about how cardigans are one of the biggest gaps in all our wardrobes and I was especially wanting some fitted ones that hit at my natural waistline. Cocoa and Carmine seemed to fit the bill. 
I was a little worried starting out with the lack of reviews on it but the rest of Cake patterns I’ve tried worked out well so I decided to attack this fear head on and not let it hang over me all summer. Besides I needed a nice sweater. 


My fears were unfounded. While following step by step this pattern came together quickly and well. I chose the size based on my measurements and since I wanted it to hit at my natural waist I measured from shoulder to waist and ended up adding about two inches to the body of the pattern. I also cut the waistband at 4 1/2 inches because I wanted a thicker band. I also lengthened the sleeves because I want this sucker for warmth. 
Thankfully my gut led me correctly and it turned out the proper length. My head messed up when it came to the seam allowance and I sewed half the seams with too big of an allowance. Thanks to the power of knits it still fits. I am getting some odd wrinkles in the sleeve but I’m not sure if that’s because I lengthened it or because it is a bit too small.

A round of over exposed photos so you can see the wrinkles that appear sometimes.
It fits like a dream over my Red Velvet dress and I like it over regular tops too. It will definitely see a lot of wear this summer. It looks really nice hanging open as well as when it is closed. 


The front treatment gives you a great crisp opening line too. I always learn some new technique for knits when I use her patterns. I look forward to making some more up in the fall. 


Well that’s it for May! How did your stash busting go? I finished up two bottoms and three tops this month but I was also gifted a big box of fabric so…. How did you do? What do you think of my Cocoa and the pattern in general?