New Job, New Pants

I started a new job last week! I have to say, it feels really satisfying to finally land a good gig - for me it was the final chapter in my adventure back to school. I am working at a new firm founded by some of my former colleagues and staffed by some of my favorite people. 

And you know what a new job also means? An excuse to make new clothes!


Pattern: my Mambo No. 5 pants pattern block
Fabric: 2 yds stretch woven
Cost: $20

Sartorially, this job is an interesting challenge. It is remote, meaning I could stay in my yoga pants all day. However, I am NOT working from home. Our house is just a bit too small and we all know I couldn't give up my precious sewing space. Instead, I'm working out of a coworking space that was originally started by Mr. Made and some friends. In a serendipitous turn of events, he also started a new job this month so we did a little switcharoo and I have taken over his space while he commutes to his new office. This means I still have to look vaguely presentable during the work day, and also accommodate a short bike commute as well as any meetings or casual meet-ups with my co-workers.

The answer is something akin to the Yoga Dress Pant: stretchy, comfy work wear that can be worn just as easily on my bike as it can to an important meeting. Seriously, these pants are so comfy! The secret is super stretchy bottom-weight fabric with all the office-appropriate details. They have horizontal slash pockets in the front and welt pockets in the back, and a slim straight-cut leg. The fabric has enough stretch so they pull on without any closures, and a wide elastic encased in the waistband that makes everything stay put.




I made these up from my pants block with its latest set of fit tweaks - I am always perfecting this thing. Even with the small tweaks, it is so nice to have a TNT pattern for pants as you save so much time not futzing over the fit. As always, I used a 1" seam allowance on the side seams so that I can make any adjustments based on how tightly woven the fabric is. Basically, I sew everything up, then baste together at the sides to assess how much the fabric stretches and how tight I want the pants to be. This one extra step allows me to use this pattern for so many different types of fabric.

In this case, the fabric is from Stonemountain in Berkeley. I popped in there on my last day off because I had a feeling they would have some good stretch fabrics for me. I used to have to buy all my stretchy pants fabrics online, but in the past few years I have noticed more and more wonderful bottom-weight options at my local fabric stores. Those who follow me on Instagram will know that I found quite a few fabrics - I took home enough for at least four pairs of pants, as well as a few tops to go with them. It was a really satisfying fabric binge.


As you can see, my pants add a little pop of color to my first meeting outfit. Here I'm wearing them with my Granville shirt and my Simplicity Blazer for my first professional work retreat. It is so satisfying to have an entirely me-made meeting outfit, and also SO COMFY. Now all that's left to do is focus on work. 

2017, 2018 + a Wedding!

Somehow between traveling, writing my master's thesis, and everything else this year, I realized as I sat down to write this post that I still found quite a bit of time to sew. I think I can attribute that to a bit of unemployment sprinkled in ;)

Looking over my roundup from last year, I also have quite a few more winners this year. Each of my four knit tops got a ton of wear, as did my new pants. In fact, I'm wearing my wine-colored turtle-neck and plaid pants right now! Towards the end of the year I snuck in some outerwear sewing, and have even been trying to (slowly) up my office-wear game. 

Knit tops were the real winners this year. Comfy, cosy, and easy to care for, each of the four above were worn a ton. I have also been continuing to make button-up shirts to varying degrees of success. 



This year I fell in love with Thread Theory's Lazo Trousers, which I made up as per the pattern, as boyfriend jeans, and as overalls! I also made a pair of plaid pants from my pants block, which I have nearly perfected and are so comfy. 



My dresses this year ranged from interview dresses to crazy party wear. I had a fun time playing with shapes and styles, like my Drape Drape and Pattern Magic dresses. 




With the help of Britex, I also snuck in a bit of outerwear sewing for myself at the end of this year. I have always wanted to make that two-toned motorcycle jacket and am so glad I finally did!



Beatrix didn't get quite as much clothing this year, but she did get dressed up as a dragon for our Game of Thrones costumes. 



Finally, not everything was a success. My reversible travel dress, while worn a ton this summer, never quite fit right or had the most flattering cut. I might try to reconfigure it this year. I also made some poor fabric choices that I will have to do over in something better for next time. 


Here's how that all breaks down in terms of patterns, fabrics, and skill level. This year, I've mostly stuck with tried and true pattern companies McCall's and BurdaStyle, which offer so many pattern options at an affordable price point. I sewed a lot in knits, and did a fair amount of intermediate-level sewing. My one experienced pattern was the Pattern Magic Dress, which has you draft the pattern from instructions and included lots of bizarre pattern manipulations. It was fun though!


This was also the year that Twinsburg, the short film that I did costumes for, was released to the public. It's a film about twins at the largest gathering in Twinsburg, Ohio, so the costumes were super wacky and fun. You can catch it on Vimeo here.





2018 ~

Finally, what does 2018 bring? Well, for one, a wedding! After six years together, Mr. Made and I have decided to tie the knot. We got engaged at the top of Prague Castle, where he had arranged for a passerby to capture the moment on camera. It was magical! 

I do not want an over-the-top or Pinterest-inspired do-it-yourself wedding, but I am very excited to sew my own dress (and maybe some simple bridesmaids dresses, too). We are planning a wedding for July, so I hope to share some process posts along the way.  

Other than that, I have quite a few friends getting married this year and have somehow promised them all this shirt, so that will occupy quite a bit of time as well. Plus I always want to make more pants, and some more tees, and... We'll see how it goes.

Wishing you all a happy new year and lots of sewing time, whatever the year may bring!

Color-Blocked Motorcycle Jacket

Hello hello! I'm rounding out the year with a bright new cozy jacket! This one has been on my inspiration board for quite some time, and it wasn't until all the fabrics came together that I finally got the chance to make it.



Pattern: Kwik Sew #3764
Fabric: 1 yd Italian Black Wool Stretch Twill and 1 yd wool ponte remnant

The red fabric is a beautiful thick wool ponte that Crossroads Fabrics had inherited from an estate sale. I think it's vintage. The amount used here is the remnants from one of my favorite sweaters that I made up a few years ago. The black wool is a luscious Italian stretch twill that I got in collaboration with Britex. The two fabrics were meant to be together and fulfilled my long-held fantasy of making something similar to this fun jacket.


For the pattern, I used Kwik Sew #3764, which was a real pleasure to sew with. While the jacket looks complicated with its collar, zippered pockets, and topstitched seams, it really came together quite easily. I read so many blog posts about how people "are scared to sew with Big 4 patterns," but I think they provide really great instructions with pattern pieces that fit nicely together. Especially when you're working with a Kwik Sew or Simplicity beginner pattern, they really are designed to be easy to sew with!



This pattern is for an unlined jacket, so I surged and topstitched all interior seams. For the center back stitch, I applied a Hong Kong seam binding in a matching red bias tape. It's a fun detail and gives it a really professional look. I have always liked unlined patterns because I thought they were quicker to sew up, but now I'm reminded of how much work it takes to make a jacket look neat and finished on the inside. It is probably much quicker to just throw a lining in and not worry about how messy your unfinished seams look!


The only change I made to the pattern was to take it in at the side seams and sleeves. Just before hemming the jacket I popped it on and decided that it was a bit too boxy. Both my fabrics had a bit of stretch in them and were much better suited for a more fitted motorcycle jacket look. So I pinned out a curve at the waist and took in about 2 inches from the sleeves to make the jacket more fitted. It was a pain to undo the serged and topstitched seams, but well worth it in the end. I also shaved 3/4" of an inch off the shoulder, and probably could have done a bit more as it still has a bit of an unintentional dropped shoulder look. A shoulder pad or sleeve head may look nice, too, if I ever sew this one up again.

The jacket is definitely a bold choice, but I really love it. It is comfy thanks to the stretch and quite warm thanks to the wool fabrics. And it's nice to have something bright to pull on this time of year. To end, here's a pic of me with Beatrix in her Christmas sweater.

Hope everyone is staying warm and cozy this season!

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This Dress is Not the Star

Some of my favorite blogs are full of pretty dresses. The details! The fit! The colors! Worn to the grocery store or a fabulous party, they are the star of the show. But sometimes you need a dress that takes a back seat. That plays support for your favorite coat, or bright shoes, or sparkly necklace. For me, this is that dress.

Pattern: basic t-shirt block 
Fabric: 1.5 yds synthetic blend ponte
Cost: $5

The dress is drafted from my basic t-shirt block. Since my t-shirt pattern ends at the widest part of my hips, all I needed to do to make it into a dress was extend it straight down to my desired length. The end result is fitted but not too tight, just like my favorite t-shirts. Made up in a stable black ponte, it is perfect for work or a night out under my favorite accessories.

The other great thing about a simple t-shirt dress is that the whole thing took just a few hours to make. In fact, I sat down to cut out a top when I realized I could squeeze the dress out of the same fabric, too. A couple of seams later and I was wearing it out to a movie that afternoon! It is very rewarding to get such a functional garment with so little effort. I guess it is my LBD.


So why even blog about such a simple garment? Just a little reminder to myself that I can get a lot wear out of such a simple, easy piece. And another stretchy win for holiday parties and eating!

Button-Front Shirts with Cut-on Sleeves

Sometime this year I promised myself that I wouldn't make any new button up shirts. The TNT I've been using has always felt a bit tight, and I would really rather wear slightly more feminine blouses to work. But then of course I came home from my travels this summer and made two of them.

Pattern: altered Sewaholic Granville shirt
Version 1: remnants of cotton lace, silk
Version 2: rayon blend and cotton lawn
Cost: $20 and $10



The difference with these is that they are sleeveless. Or rather, have short cut-on sleeves that make them infinitely more casual and comfy to wear. First up is a version that took care of two longstanding remnants in my stash: a cotton lace and a silk cotton blend. The shoulders are actually just the lace, but they don't show up as sheer as I imagined.


I also made another school-themed one with bears (our mascot) to wear to football games. This one has gotten a lot of compliments and is so much easier on the eyes than the bright official ones I made a few years ago. I only bought a little bit of the fabric, so this is color-blocked version that I think is fun.

The pattern is not perfect yet. The sleeves could be a bit bigger and I haven't perfected the overall width. The bears version is slimmer cut than the lace version, and both have a yoke that can be seen from the front which I don't like as much. Perhaps I will go back to the drawing board for this one, or at least give button-up shirts another hiatus.




In other news, I am wearing my new socks that I knit this summer while in Europe! They essentially took me the whole three-month trip to complete, but they were fun to knit up on trains and quiet evenings. They are from Knit Picks's Two at Once, Toe Up, Magic Loop Sock Pattern. I love knitting two at once because I don't have to remember all the decisions and modifications I made along the way. This pattern is great because it also leads you through customizing the fit. I am almost halfway done with another pair!



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