Red and Pink and Magic

Pattern: Self-drafted from Pattern Magic 3's 'Pare down the roundness at the back and open out'
Fabric: 3 1/2 yds woven cotton
Cost: $35

When I was very little and allowed to dress myself for the first time, one of my favorite color combinations was red and pink. "They don't go together!" my mother would say, but I would wear them anyway. There was just something so cheery and fun about those colors together. To this day red remains one of my favorite colors, so when I was looking for a contrast color for this audacious dress I thought, why not pink?

This is my second version of a dress using the Pattern Magic technique 'Pare down the roundness at the back and open out.' As you can tell from the name, it was meant for the back of the bodice, but I think it is much more fun in the front. Following the instructions in Pattern Magic 3, you close up the darts and draft all sorts of lines across the bodice. The result is an amazing structural piece that opens up to accommodate your curves and has a life of its own. 

My first version was very fun to make, but in the end turned out a little droopy. The triangle pieces just didn't stand up on their own, and the longest piece around the midsection sort of crumpled. For this version, I used a mid- to heavy-weight interfacing combined with a quilting-weight cotton to give the pieces some more structure. I did have some issues with the interfacing bubbling and the garment holding up under the weight of it all, but after the lining was sewn in and I gave it one final press it looked pretty good! Above is a close up detail, and you can see I lined the inside of the triangles with pink as well :)

The other decision I made for this version was to try a strapless style. I simply drew chalk lines on my first version to determine the neckline and drafted a new pattern piece. To make sure everything held up, I also inserted boning along the side seams of the lining. This was my first time using boning, and I was surprised just how easy it was. It gave great structure to the garment, and took some of the pressure off having to make it very tight to make it stay up. If I were doing another version of this dress, I could see using boning in the points of the triangles (especially the longest one) to give the garment even more structure and avoid some of the rumpling. However, the interfacing did a good job here instead.

I think this would be a great design for a silk with a stiff hand, and definitely take it up a notch from the quilting cotton I used. But this was fun to experiment with on a budget, and very wearable.

On my last version, I also spent a lot of time drafting a skirt with an angular opening to match the angles of the dress. On this version, I went with a simpler dirndl skirt with lots of gathers at the waist and an A-line shape. It is full enough to accommodate a very full petticoat, although that makes me look like a tomato. I think it works nicely with the shape, and was very easy to do. As a bonus, I added pockets, which I originally just thought I'd stick my hands in but really came in useful for carrying little bits and bobs, especially when you don't want to carry a purse.

So where do you wear a dress like this? I sewed mine up just in time for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event (!!). We took a note from our Australian peers and organized a night of cocktails and handmade frocks. It was so much fun to mix and mingle with everyone, and see some of the amazing work of other sewists. Chuleenan organized everything to perfection, with appetizers, a photo booth, and crafts. I hope we do this again next year!

A photo posted by Bay Area Sewists (@bayareasewists) on

Lingerie Sewing

Pattern: Self-drafted bralette and modified Ohhh Lulu's Grace Panties
Fabric: various stretch fabrics
Cost: $20

Maybe it's the holiday, maybe it's the anticipation of bathing suit sewing season, but I've suddenly got the urge to sew lingerie again. My lingerie notions drawer is overflowing with lacy fabrics that are just begging to be sewn. I probably need a proper bra, but first why not make some completely impractical beauties? Shown here is a self-drafted bralette I made some time last year along with high-waisted underwear I made up tonight. Not sure the fella will really dig the granny panties, but I love this bralette for under tanks and just feeling a bit sexy.

I drafted the bralette a while back. It is an extension of a RTW bralette from Madewell with pretty much all the seams removed. It has just one dart at the center of the bust, hidden under the lace in this case, and  center front seam. It's surprisingly effective in its simplicity - so easy to put together and with no extra bulkiness where it's not needed. Clearly it's not meant to be particularly supportive or shaping, but with the elastic right below the bust it does keep things in place.

The lace is just cut out and appliqu├ęd over the apex with a zig-zag stitch. It hides the dart nicely and covers up what matters. Instead of sewing the center seam, it's finished with fold over elastic and then attached at the top and bottom only. This produces a fun cut-out detail that adds some extra interest. The rest of the bra, straps included, is finished in fold over elastic. Overall a very easy bralette to make.

The underwear is the Ohhh Lulu Grace Panties, which I extended up 4.5 inches so they'd hit me at my natural waist - I'm very long-waisted(!). I'm headed to Vegas in May and considering making some bikini bottoms in a similar style to hang out by the pool, so this was an easy way to try the style out first. With the right top, I'm really digging it! I'm going fabric shopping this weekend and hoping to pick up something in a swimwear spandex to repeat the process.

I also have a lingerie tutorial up right now on the BERNINA We All Sew blog on how to apply lingerie elastic with a coverstitch. This is a technique I see in most of my RTW undies, and is very easy to apply - you just lay the elastic on top of the raw edge and stitch. You can also do this with a zig-zag stitch if you don't have a coverstitch. Check it out here.

I hope this lingerie sewing bug continues because I could really use some new undies in my stash!

Fabric Haul Inspiration

I don't usually publish much besides finished garment posts, but I recently took in a massive fabric haul and needed to jot down my inspiration. At the Bay Area Sewists fabric swap meetup last week, I snagged a printed rayon, buffalo check, and about four yards of polyester for muslins. Then I headed down the street to Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics, where we get 20% off on meetup days. I had been saving for this occasion, and admittedly went a little wild. But oh man it was fun!

Here are some tops I've got planned from this shopping trip. I'm focusing on adding some more comfy but stylish knits to my wardrobe, and also couldn't resist a couple of printed wovens (at bottom).

1. Turtlenecks - maybe from My Image Fall/Winter magazine?
2. Cowl top - inspired by the new cowl add-on to the SBCC Bronx Dress
3. Presto! Popover Top
4. Mandy Boat Tee
5. Maya Top
6. BurdaStyle 07/2013 #130

First up on my sewing table though is another Pattern Magic dress. I loved making my first one, but felt it could use a few more tweaks such as firmer interfacing. I'm going to try it out this time in a strapless version, and hopefully have it ready for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event this weekend. If you're interested in joining us and haven't gotten your ticket yet, contact the Chuleenan on the event page!

Let's hope my sewing goals aren't too large for my sewing time...

Another BurdaStyle Funnel Neck Top

Pattern: BurdaStyle's Funnel Neck Top/Dress 04/2014 #111/112
Fabric: 1 yd jersey
Cost: $10

Just popping in to show off another finished garment. This is my second version of the BurdaStyle Funnel Neck Top, an interesting take on the turtle neck. The cowl/turtle neck is cut on, and in the original pattern one side slouches down into the shoulder. In this version, I made both shoulders symmetrical, and so the funnel neck really hangs on the shoulders. 

I wear this one to work a lot, as it is easy to wear and somewhat interesting. However, I'm not sure I love it. The funnel neck is really long (it could practically be worn as a hood), and this soft jersey tends to just flop all over the place. Looking at these pictures, I don't think I love the shoulders either. My next t-shirt project is for a regular turtleneck, which certainly seem to be coming back in to style. 

Oh well, you win some, you lose some. This one has still been getting a ton of wear at least. 

The Kollabora Sweater

Pattern: Shibui Knits's Mix No. 1
Yarn: Lamana's Como Wool in Pine
Cost: free!

This is the sweater that was made from the yarn that was won from the contest that was made from the pattern that Kollabora gave me. And let's just say it's been a long time coming...

It all started several years ago when the online crafting community Kollabora was brand new and sent me a couple of knitting patterns to try out. I am a slow knitter, and so unfortunately not much came of it. Then, last year, I entered a photo featuring a certain bulldog in a hand-knit sweater into Kollabora's Christmas contest and won some yarn. Finally, this past year I combined said pattern and said yarn into the sweater you see before you today. Whew! It wasn't fast, but I finally have a finished garment to show off!

The pattern is a top-down raglan pullover. Pretty basic, but fun to try a new-to-me technique. About halfway through I panicked that I had picked such a basic stitch such as stockinette to make my rather plain sweater, but I ended up finishing it as-is because it made for an easy classroom knitting project. Don't worry, I am quenching my thirst for all things cable and color in my next sweater.

I like the top-down style because you get all the annoying shaping out of the way before you start, but as a knit-as-you-go type person it was a bit challenging to cast on without really knowing whether it was going to fit me or not. In the end my gauge was good and it all worked out well, although it's definitely quite fitted.

I love the look of Kollabora's website. It is clean and fresh and so much easier to use than some of my other favorite web haunts. However, it doesn't seem to have as much user engagement. While there are plenty of people posting projects, there's not as much comments or discussion as on other sites. I have this weird theory that the clunkier the website (I'm looking at you Pattern Review and GOMI), the more active the community. This could be because those sites are older (and thus more outdated looking but with more users), but I also think there is something to be said for a site that isn't overly polished. It's the rough edges that almost gives people permission to jump in and make it their own, like a cozy cottage where you can spread out your stuff rather than a new mansion where everything is too nice to touch. That said, I think sites like Instagram achieve both, so who knows.

Rambling aside, these photos were taken during our pre-Christmas vacation to Joshua Tree. We found ourselves in this beautiful little dried up river bed one afternoon - perfect for a hike and a photo-op.

I just started on the sleeves of another sweater, which I will hopefully finish up in lecture this semester. The more I knit, the more I realize that quality yarn and a good pattern are the key to knitting beautiful sweaters. This one is definitely a winner!
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