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It’s ALIIIIIIVE!!!

Wow. Four months. I’m awesome at blogging, eh? :)

In those four months, I’ve left a job that was killing my soul (slight exaggeration), started a new job that offers lots of free time (hand sewing time) and my husband and I bought our first house. A beautiful dining room table set came from an estate sale via the hawk-like, bargain hunting eye of my mother-in-law. Said table has been already set up as my cutting/assembling table!

Happiness!

Happiness! Yes, I’ll get a real ironing board sometime.

Now that I have a dedicated space, I want to sew ALL THE THINGS!!!!!!! :) I have three weddings coming up (two in August, one in October), so I’ll be making at least two more dresses before summer is over. My plan is to use the By Hand London Anna bodice with a circle skirt for the first version. Stay tuned!

With the current temperatures in the high 90s Fahrenheit, I’ve been really wanting some more sleeveless tops. The best part is… I’ve already got several patterns to chose from!

Simplicity 1460, View C

Simplicity 1460, View C

Simplicity 1590, View A

Simplicity 1590, View A

Portrait Blouse, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing

Portrait Blouse, Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing

I’ll probably start with the Portrait Blouse in purple linen, which I bought specifically for this pattern over a year and a half ago. It will be the first time I install a facing. :)

After that, I’ll probably make Simplicity 1460 in a crisp white cotton shirting that I bought for a Grainline Archer that I never made. I’m still intimidated by that pattern! I figured this little peplum blouse, with its three buttons, will be a good foray into sewing buttonholes. Collars and sleeve plackets can wait. ;)

So, those are my sewing plans for the next couple of months! What are you up to?

 

The BAM! Skirt

I call this the BAM! skirt because that’s what I said when I tried it on for the first time.
bam 1
BAM!
This is the Charlotte skirt from the fabulous ladies at By Hand London. Dude, I feel like such a goddamn lady in this skirt. Clearly I’m not going to start speaking like one, but it won’t keep me from looking like one when my mouth is closed…
bam 3
Also, it makes me sit and stand straighter. Yay posture!
Vespa Photobomb!

Vespa Photobomb!

I got this tiny piece of denim (not quite a whole yard) at a thrift store last year sometime. I don’t remember how much it cost, so I’ll just estimate $3. I didn’t have enough to make the waistband, so I used some navy cotton sateen left over from a UFO pencil skirt that fit horribly and got relegated to the bottom of a drawer along with its stupid instructions. IIIIIIRONYYYY!!
Do she got a booty?

Do she got a booty?

I cut a size 10/14 for the waist, transitioning to a 12/16 from the hips down to account for my boo-tay. I wonder if cutting a 10/14 for the front piece and a 12/16 for the back pieces would have been better. The back fit right out of the envelope, but I had to lengthen the center front darts by three inches, and the side front darts by one inch. I also took about a quarter inch out of the side seams above the hips. It still doesn’t lay completely flat in the front, so I feel like I still need to lengthen the front darts some more. Does anyone have a better suggestion for this type of fit issue?
A very visible invisible zipper...

A very visible invisible zipper…

This is my first invisible zipper, which I installed with a regular zipper foot. I have since acquired the invisible zipper foot for my machine, and I plan on re-installing that zipper. Since I found a couple yards of denim while cleaning out the bins in my closet (no idea how said denim yardage came to be IN my closet, but… bonus?) I’ll be putting on a new matching waistband, too. Oh, and the seam allowances need to be finished because this thing is raveling like crazy! It also needs a lining, but I don’t know if I’m feeling that ambitious for this version. Plus, it’s already really warm and I don’t want to add another layer.
I can... sass in it?

I can… sass in it?

So since I’m willing to adjust the fit several times and de- and reconstruct it to improve it, I think it’s safe to say that I am clearly in love with this skirt and want it to be perfect and last a million years. :) I’ve never had a pencil skirt that actually fit both my hips and waist! I’ve dreamed up about four more versions, and I’m starting to question whether the fit-and-flare silhouette I gravitate towards is really the best look for me…
Charlotte compliments my vintage coat and lady purse!

Charlotte compliments my vintage coat and lady purse!

Wait, am I a Joanie instead of a Betty?!! I never knew!! Excuse me while I have a minor wardrobe identity crisis…
By the way, I couldn’t resist posting this test photo:
bam vip
Because it reminded me too much of this!!
vip my hair
Have you made the Charlotte skirt? Did you have to make any alterations? Do you vip your hair? Are you a Betty or a Joan? Discuss. :)

Sewing Successes and Mad Men Plans

Wow, it’s been awhile. I promise I’ve actually been sewing, you guys! Since the beginning of the year, I have finished one dress, two Renfrew tops, two skirts and a blankie and bib for my husband’s colleague’s new baby. Both shirts and both skirts were made in solid colors, so… success! I can make outfits! :) The reason I haven’t shared any of these makes yet is because it took me like two weeks to finally find the camera and charger, and we don’t have a good blank wall in our house to take pictures in front of. Crappy excuses, I know! My husband and I have a weekly date night (usually Monday, as he’s a weekend warrior) so I’ve decided to do Me Made Monday, on which I wear whatever item I’ve just finished over the weekend and have Hubs take pictures of me on our date. Hooray for having a plan! :)

Temperatures in Denver have been pretty mild and springlike for the last couple of weeks, so I’ve decided to switch up my coat sewing plan (mentioned in my last post) from a warm winter coat to a fun and colorful trench coat! I took advantage of Tasia’s birthday sale and ordered myself the Robson trench coat pattern. I haven’t decided what color to make it yet. Black and beige are appealing because they’re so classic and go with everything, but color is so much more FUN!! :) Check out this fuchsia trench! I love fuchsia.fuschia trench

Are you participating in Julia Bobbin’s third Mad Men Challenge?!! I am, and I’m stoked!! :D This was one of the sewing challenges that really convinced me last year that I should start a blog and join in on the fun. It’s also the reason I started watching Mad Men. :) After watching the first five seasons on Netflix last year, there was NO WAY I was going to be left out of this sewing challenge! :)

Okay, soooo I want pretty much every outfit on Mad Men. Like, every dress that everyone wears in every episode. However, when I saw THIS beauty worn by Betty Draper to the Coca Cola modeling audition, I thought “THAT’S it! That’s what I’ll make for the Mad Men Challenge!”

Betty dress

Ahem.

How useful is this garment in every day life? Correct, it’s not useful at all. It might be fun for a costume party, but it will probably just collect dust after I pull half my hair out trying to make it. Maybe I’ll make something more frivolous next year. Or, you know, I could make it anyway and be a Barbie doll for Halloween.

After coming to the decision that I shouldn’t abandon my wardrobe makeover just to make a crazy party dress I’ll never wear, I started looking at pictures of the sassy and curvaceous Joan, thinking I’d make a pencil skirt and blouse instead. Unfortunately, I could only find pictures of a beige/brown skirt and coral/red blouse, which aren’t my favorite colors to wear.

BUT THEN:

Joanie outfit

BAM. There it is. A freaking purple pencil skirt!! I didn’t remember seeing this outfit while watching the show, but to be honest, I watched all five seasons on Netflix in the evenings when I was tired and I nodded off more than a few times so I’ve probably missed several fabulous dresses. Oh well. I went back and watched the episode with this outfit, and was reminded that Joan’s husband (then fiancé) is a total asshole. That’s all I have to say about that. I’m making this outfit anyway because it’s awesome!

I’m planning on using the By Hand London Charlotte pattern for the skirt (wearable muslin in progress!) and the Sewaholic Renfrew for the top, either with a widened neckline or shallower cowl. I’ve made the Renfrew a couple times already (and I am nowhere near done with that pattern), so I’m pretty confident with it. After an online search, I haven’t found the right purple to use for the skirt. I’m probably going to go to a few stores here in Denver to continue the search instead of ordering online anyway, since the colors can look pretty different on screen than in person.

Thank you for having patience with me as I slowly get this blog started! Posts will be coming more regularly in the future. :) What are you sewing these days?

Filling the Wardrobe Gaps

This seems to be a common theme among sewing bloggers lately, including Tasha from By Gum By Golly, Sarai from the Coletterie and Rochelle of Lucky Lucille: the notion (pun very intended) of thoughtfully sewing for your lifestyle and honing your wardrobe, focusing on fit and eliminating closet orphans.

I’ve been whining about my wardrobe for months (just ask my husband) and this is the year I’m going to do something about it! Even though I have a crazy amount of clothing in my possession, I often find myself reaching for things that aren’t there (awkward). I feel like I could make my current wardrobe go much further by adding the following basic separates to coordinate with the Hodgepodge of Awesome that currently lives in my closet:

Solid colored skirts!
I’m thinking about making another Sewaholic Hollyburn, since my first two get so much action, but first I could really use a simpler, straighter silhouette that can be dressed up with pumps when we have clients in town, or down with boots the rest of the time. I’m thinking about using McCalls 5523, which has been in my pattern stash pretty much since I bought my sewing machine. After seeing Amy’s sassy tartan version, I was sold! :) I’m thinking about making a gray version, and possibly another in oxblood (loooove that color).

Renfrews Galore!
After cutting out my first Sewaholic Renfrew and letting it sit, neatly folded, on a chair while I worked on a dress instead (which is finished, and I’ll show it to you as soon as I find my camera – doh!), I finally got to sewing it up last night! I know I’m super tardy to the party, but this is an awesomely quick make! I spent less than an hour on it, and after some initial confusion about sewing with knits, I’m already about halfway done. It’s going to be a few inches too short for my preferences, but I wanted to make it up without alterations first, so I can test out the fit. I’m probably going to make this in black, plum, mustard, and navy, along with a few goofy prints as they cross my path, because clearly they’re also important to the Hodgepodge of Awesome. I’d also like to use this pattern to make a couple of pullover sweaters, of which I oddly have none.

Waist Defining Jacket!
This came as a shock to me, but I currently have ZERO jackets/coats that emphasize my waist. This means that, while wearing a fit and flare dress or top/skirt combo, I put a shapeless sack of a coat on top that ruins the whole look. I do have two vintage coats that I love, including a 1960s Lilli Ann red swing coat with cropped sleeves and a real mink* collar that I got at an estate sale for $20 (which is so fabulous that it’s reserved for special occasions, like going to see The Book of Mormon for my husband’s birthday (YES IT WAS AWESOME)), but I have no warm outerwear that emphasizes my waist. I’m planning on filling this wardrobe gap with McCalls 6442, view A. I’m thinking about using some beige and pastel blue houndstooth that I got at a thrift store over a year ago, maybe with some light blue lining to tone down the beige, because… beige.

Grainline Archer!
I may have missed Archer Appreciation Month, but there’s been no lack of appreciation over here for all the finished versions popping up on the internet! I work in an office where women are the minority. Our dress code is pretty lax, but when I’m surrounded by dudes in polos and button downs, some days I find myself feeling TOO casual. The Grainline Archer would be perfect for filling this wardrobe gap! It can be casual, yet still office appropriate… perfect for helping me feel justified in wearing skinny jeans and tall boots to the office. ;) I have a feeling I’ll be making a few of these, too. In addition to some crisper versions for work, I’ve been wanting a flannel shirt since the temperature first dipped below 60, and I really want an extra long flannel nightshirt. I’ll be mastering buttonholes in no time!

So those are my sewing plans for the next couple of months. Maybe I can even sneak a Valentine’s ensemble into the works! :) When springtime rolls around, you better believe I’m switching back into dress mode. With a few Archers under my belt, I will have the confidence and know-how to make ALL THE SHIRTDRESSES!!!!!!!!!!

*I didn’t know it was real fur until I found the tag in the pocket when I got home. I was planning on replacing it with a black velvet collar, but I’ve decided that, since it’s vintage, I will keep it intact. It still creeps me out a little though, and I’ll be avoiding real fur from now on. Please don’t judge!

Sewlutions 2014

In the spirit of new beginnings (and holding myself accountable), I’ve decided to share my 2014 Sewlutions with you! You are now responsible for holding me accountable. HA! JOKE’S ON YOU! ;)

So without further ado, I give you my list:

1. Master the Buttonhole

Yes, you read that right: the humble buttonhole. Not bound buttonholes mind you, just regular, everyday buttonholes. I made a few (read: less than five total) and I just got frustrated and decided to stick to zippers. Much of the blame was passed to my cheap sewing machine, but I think know for sure that I’m being stubborn and lazy and just need to practice! Of course, this newly mastered skill will probably prompt me to make 800 shirtdresses. I blame Betty Draper and Skeeter Phelan. :)

2.  Master the Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)

This is another example of my blatant laziness. I made a Sewaholic Cambie this summer that is downright DELIGHTFUL :) …but it has some fit problems. Instead of going with the tried and true sizing that I used for two Sewaholic Hollyburn skirts (yes, you’ll see them soon!) I decided to cut a size smaller because that’s what matched my waist that day… with zero ease. Apparently I wanted to eat/breathe less than usual? In case you don’t see the problem with this, I’ll tell you right now: DON’T DO THAT! My waist is always at least one size down from my bust measurement, and a couple sizes down from my hips. I also gained a little extra curvature after getting married in August. I had been joking that I’d get fat after it was all over, but… apparently I wasn’t joking??? Anyway, this dress was always tight across the bust, but with the current extra voluptuousness, I get more cleavage in this thing than in a dirndl (the cleavage dress of champions). Believe me, I own a few so I would know! It’s almost inappropriate, but the awesome fabric isn’t ideal for work situations anyway, so I just deal with it. :)

This picture was taken this summer, before I gained extra boobage… and before I bothered to hem this dress. I can’t help it, I was too excited about the BASEBALL DRESS OF AWESOME ! :) You can’t really tell how tight it is on my chest, so I guess you’ll just have to trust me.

cambie sassy

“Look sassy” he said…

You’re probably thinking that I’m on my way to a baseball game in this picture, right? Nope. My husband and I were waiting for the light rail to downtown Denver, where we had martinis and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and I received unsolicited compliments from two little girls. YES!!! :D

3. Make more Solid-Colored Separates

Yup, this is the old Cake vs. Frosting debate. My two Hollyburn skirts get worn ALL THE TIME, but they’re worn almost exclusively with a plain white blouse. On summer weekends I would pair one with whatever tank top was clean, but I’ve always had trouble making them look appropriate for work! My office is pretty casual, but my brewery tees just don’t cut it. Oh, that brings me to #4…

4. Refashion Brewery T-Shirts into Things I Actually Want to Wear

Okay, I’m looking for suggestions on this. Most breweries don’t sell fabric… okay, I’m pretty sure NONE of them do… but I live in the Napa Valley of Beer (aka Colorado) and I married a brewer, so the brewery schwag is pretty abundant (it’s also one of my exceptions to the Seamless Pledge I’ve taken). I like to support our local brewers by being a walking billboard, but breweries don’t often sell shirts that are flattering to my shape (aka boobs). I’m going to keep scouring the magical interwebs for ways to make boxy tees into feminine, perhaps even vintage-inspired attire! Stay tuned. :)

5. Make at least One Garment from each of my sewing books (Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, Colette Sewing Handbook, The Vintage Pattern Selector)

I bought myself a copy of Gertie’s book last Christmas, and I haven’t made anything from it. :( I even bought some dark purple linen for a pretty portrait blouse (haha, a solid-colored separate… and the fabric is still in my stash, oops!). The other two books are recent acquisitions, so I don’t feel like I’ve had a chance to neglect them yet. :)

So that’s my list! In general, I’m also going to try to be more mindful of the fabric and garments I’m making. I’m one of those people who has a whole room full of clothes, but never anything to wear! :) A complete wardrobe overhaul is on the agenda for January. I’ve even started a “Wardrobe Planning” board on Pinterest to keep me on the Cake Train*. Now if I can only figure out how to wear a blazer…

I hope 2013 has been good to you! :)

*Is that a thing? Is there a Cookie and Beer Train? Does it offer an annual pass? Hmm…

Greetings (Season’s or Otherwise)!

Hello, readers!

My name is Anna, and I’m a sewaholic.

[ All together now: “HI, ANNA!” ]

Throughout the past year, I’ve been silently watching all the fun sewalongs and challenges go by, and wishing I had taken part. My favorites were Fall for Cotton and Sew for Victory, both hosted by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille, and the second Mad Men Challenge hosted by Julia Bobbin. What can I say, I love vintage! :) I am in awe of the sheer talent and skill that can be found in sewing blogs these days, and I look forward to being a part of the online sewing community.

In the next few posts, I will be presenting some things I’ve made in the past year, including my hilarious debut into garment sewing! Let’s be friends, shall we? :)

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