Fancy Pants

Sometimes I don't feel like I take enough advantage of being a sewer. Hear me out: while I sew every chance that I get, I don't always make things that look that different from ready-to-wear. Jeans are jeans, t-shirts are t-shirts, and, at the end of the day, most of what I sew isn't that unique. Sometimes I wonder, am I really getting the full utility out of making things myself?

But these pants. THESE PANTS. These pants you can't buy off the rack. These pants are weird, creative, and very different. And they make me glad I can sew and wear whatever the hell I can dream up. 

Pattern: Style Arc's Ebony Woven Pants
Fabric: 1 yd embroidered stretch velvet paired with 1 yd stretch suiting
Cost: $40

The inspiration for these pants came from Pinterest - it's a very unique design from the Chloe 2013 spring collection. In it, one leg is covered with 3D flowers while the other is a plain solid. I copied this design using an embroidered stretch velvet from Stone Mountain and a Robert Kauffman stretch suiting remnant from a jumpsuit. It's a great way to feature a more expensive fabric like the velvet because you only need half of what it would take to make a full pair of pants. And I love that Robert Kauffman stuff. It drapes like a dream. 

The pattern is a fun one, too. It's the Ebony Woven Pants from Style Arc, which have a cross-over feature at center front, kind of like Thai fisherman pants. I feel like this draped portion was really necessary to emphasize the embroidered velvet fabric and give it some extra treatment. See how it folds over the center front? I even appliqued an extra flower at center front to emphasize the design. 



I wasn't sure exactly how this pattern was going to fit since I had never made it before. Not wanting to make a muslin, I simply compared it to a pattern that I knew already fit me well: the Thread Theory Lazo Trousers. I sometimes need a knock-knee or crotch curve adjustment in Style Arc patterns, but the fit seemed pretty comparable so I plunged ahead. 

These pants have a flat-front elastic waistband, which also makes them easy to fit. While I normally grade out from my waist to my hips, I am aware that if you do this in an elastic-waisted pattern then you might not be able to get the pants over your hips. So, I cut my full hip size for the entire pants and planned to use smaller elastic to draw them in around the waist. This worked well. The pants aren't super snug at the waist, but this makes them quite comfortable. 

If you can decipher the brief Style Arc instructions they are quite quick to sew and only took me two evenings to put together. The only thing that I would change is I don't think the front crossover goes quite far enough, so I could see extending it to really emphasize the style. I also think the pleats on the under side (my left) look a little sloppy on most versions like they don't quite hang with the drape. You could probably eliminate them and still get the same fun look. 

Speaking of look, I didn't quite intend to go all sun flare artsy with these photos, but that's what you get when you're a one-woman-show shooting on a tripod. Yes, that cameraman husband of mine gave up on taking my pics ages ago. 

I am feeling quite fancy in my fancy pants. I plan to wear them out anywhere that I want to feel dressed up but also a bit artsy or quirky. They've already come with me to dinner and a concert and gotten compliments from my stylish friend, so I think I'm on track. The elastic waistband and roomy fit also make them perfect for eating large meals or dancing the night away. Could you ask for anything more out of your sewing skills? 



THAT Vogue Dress

Remember this pattern? Yes, THAT pattern. The one Lladybird called the "droopy boobs trying to pretend like they don’t know each other" pattern. I have to admit, I kind of liked it. So I made it!

Pattern: Vogue's Nicola Finetti #1587
Fabric: something polyester?
Cost: $20

What inspired me about this dress was the sleeves. I liked the take on the cold shoulder. When I saw the pattern, I imagined them in a semi-sheer fabric. To make it happen, I walked into the fabric store open to whatever colors I could find that came in sheer and opaque. Pink wasn't my first choice, but the color's not bad on me. Plus I found them next to one another in the bargain section, so this dress was cheap! It's hard to photograph, but I like how the lighter sleeves move with the dress while the body is quite stable.


Now, some of the critiques of this pattern were definitely justified and there were a few modifications I wanted to make. First, I raised that neckline. Then, I got rid of the front slit. Really, who could sit down in that?! I seriously laughed out loud just thinking about that. 

I also wish that I had raised the armhole. Every Vogue dress I've made in the past year has had a very low armhole. I made no other changes, though you can see it fits me a bit differently than the model. The dress is fully lined and I added bust cups, my new secret weapon for dresses that aren't bra friendly. 

So far this dress has been really fun. It's made it to two weddings and Vegas. The one drawback is I really can't lift my arms very high, even to drink from a glass. I wouldn't recommend sleeves like this for everyday wear.  😂

So what do you think, love it or leave it? 

Summer Swing Dress

For the clothes that I don't make myself, I pick up at clothing swaps. My boss in college used to throw a big one where I could get some professional clothes, and lately some of my girlfriends have been putting on a semi-regular one. I find a lot of great stuff and it's perfect for trying things that might not be "me" to see if I like them. One unexpected hit was a striped swing dress I picked up from my friend. While she and I have very different body types (broad shoulders versus narrow, a few inches in height, etc.), her dress fit me almost perfectly! It was one of the pieces I took with me to Europe for three months and I wore it all. the. time. It was great for hot days, comfortable for traveling, and fun to wear.

Unfortunately, during our time in Prauge, I took a load to the cleaners because there were no laundry mats or machines in our building. And this dress didn't come back with the rest of them. We tried to go back to ask about it but ran into a language barrier and couldn't find it. It wasn't a huge loss though because, luckily for me, I can sew!



Pattern: McCall's Knit Swing Dress #7622
Fabric: 2 yds jersey
Cost: $30

That was a few years ago and I finally decided to replace that dress this week. As the weather was heating up around here I was really missing it. Luckily, McCall's #7622 was a perfect match and even had a few more options!

One of the options that I used was the V cutout. It's supposed to be in the front but I put it in the back. I had to cut the back in two pieces because of my limited yardage, but the center seam actually made it easier to sew the V. Instead of a facing I just turned the raw edge under and stitched. The cutout lends a nice touch, don't you think?

I also made two other changes to adjust for fit. I cut in the shoulders by about two inches to show a bit more skin. And the collar was also much too loose so I ended up taking out about 4(!) inches. That snugged things right up. Otherwise it's a very easy dress to fit. And I don't usually do this but I left it unhemmed :)

Another fun feature is that this dress has pockets! There were separate pattern pieces included, but I attached the pocket pieces to the main dress pattern and cut them out as a cut-on to the dress. This made construction super easy - just stitch up the side seam and around the pockets and you're done! It even holds my phone without too much trouble.



I am wearing this as I type and it is so comfy! I know it's the end of August but in the Bay Area that usually means warm days ahead!

Orange is the New Black

As soon as I made my first Deer and Doe Sirocco, I knew I needed another one. Flattering, comfortable to wear, and as chic at a dinner out as it is on a night in, this jumpsuit has it all. Or, as my friend said, this outfit would feel equally welcome at anything from a wedding to a backyard BBQ. I literally find myself wearing it all the time. Especially as someone who works from home, it feels comfy but still put together.

Pattern: Deer and Doe's Sirocco
Fabric: brushed rayon knit
Cost: $60 

For this version, I wanted to go with an interesting color. I first tried to buy a jersey knit in a beautiful plum color, but there just wasn't enough left on the bolt. While at Stonemountain though, I had spied this gorgeous orange fabric. I hesitated because it is bright and was a bit spendier because I needed a lot of fabric. However, I have this orange University of Texas sweater that I just love with my coloring. I ended up back at Stonemountain the next day picking up 2.5 yards. It does look beautiful in the afternoon light, doesn't it?

I asked my husband if the color made me look too much like an escaped convict, but he gave me a pass. Maybe what Martha Stewart wore in jail? The lovely details like pleating and waist shaping help it steer clear from prison jumpsuit territory. As you can see, on this version I also added a waist tie. It is simply two ties that originate from the side seams. Functionally, they hold no purpose but they do help make it look more like a real wrap bodice and give it some added interest.

One of the reasons I love this pattern so much is that it fits me really well. I graded up through the waist and hips, but ended up grading the legs back down for this version. I also chopped off six inches at the hem. Almost everyone (including the pattern model) seems to wear their Siroccos rolled up at the hem. I decided to skip that step and just hem them to the correct length. Much better!


I wore my last Sirocco to a sewing meetup and ran into someone who was wondering about how much the fabric bags out after wear. Of course, this depends on the fabric, but I told her to get something with some Spandex in it and lots of stretch and she should be fine. If you're dubious, just know that I finished this version on a Saturday morning, popped them on, crawled around on the floor cutting out more fabric, did some light yoga, went to an outdoor concert, and photographed them Sunday afternoon. There is a little stretch that you can see at the knees, but all in all I think they hold up really well. Monday I wore them on a quick flight for work, making this the ultimate outfit.

Ok, enough gushing about this pattern. Have you made it up yet?

Double Trouble

Believe it or not, this double dose of Myosotis is the same dress! 

My mom gifted me this beautiful plaid double gauze a few years ago. I sat on it for quite a while before realizing it had a double life - it was striped on the other side! I knew I had to find a way to showcase both views and so this reversible dress was born. 

Pattern: Deer and Doe's Myosotis
Fabric: 3 yds double gauze
Cost: gift

Of course, there are some challenges with creating a reversible dress. For one, how do you cleanly finish the seams on both sides? Flat-felled seams would be good, but that's a bit tricky on a fiddly fabric, so instead I did French seams and sewed them down to the fabric. Yes, even those ruffles! It's not perfect, but I've decided I'm going with the rustic look for this one. I also sewed down the darts to the main body. I got really lucky and my facings matched up perfectly on the plaid side, allowing for a fairly inconspicuous finish. I finished it off with snaps, which close equally well from both sides. 

This was my first time sewing the Myosotis, though I've recently had success with their other pattern, the Sirocco jumpsuit. It seems this brand fits me pretty well - I think they draft for pear shapes like me. I did grade out from the bust to the waist (on grading in the hips needed for this style). The only change I would make, and this is something you can see on the pattern photos, too, is that it tends to pull up a bit at the front waist.

I wasn't sure that I would like this style given how billowy and oversized it is. But it has a nice fit through the bodice which keeps the proportions in check. So far, it has been the perfect Bay Area dress - sleeves to keep the sun and chill off, but still a chance to show some leg. And since it is reversible, it has already pulled double duty on trips and different events in the same week - I can just reverse it and wear it again! Now just to see if this delicate fabric survives the wash.


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