Charlie Brown in Drag

My friend recently complimented my dress, saying it reminded her of one she had when she was a teenager. She liked it a lot and wore it to her aunt's wedding. Apparently, however, not everyone was a fan. Later, she learned that the same aunt had commented to another relative that she thought it made my friend look like Charlie Brown in drag. Ha!

Luckily, now our egos don't bruise so easily and we've decided that being Charlie Brown in drag is a wonderful compliment which I will wholeheartedly embrace! So I present to you, my NYE dress of 2020. Oh brother!

Pattern: based on New Look 6460 with sleeves from New Look 6217
Fabric: velvet and sheer chevron stretch fabric lined in jersey
Cost: $30

Now that you can't get that image out of your head, let me tell you a little bit about it. I discovered this fabric at Crossroad Fabrics in my hometown over the holidays. Carla always has something interesting on hand, usually at killer prices. She gave me this amazing 2-yard cut of velvet and sheer chevron fabric for $13! On my way out of town, I picked up the coordinating yellow jersey at a Hart's Fabrics sale to line the dress. 

I knew I wanted to make something for New Year's Eve but was away from my machine. So I spent my nights dreaming up the best way to use this special fabric. I fell in love with this inspiration dress and was left figuring out how best to construct it.  

There are a lot of similar dress patterns on the market, but I wanted to work with the patterns I had on hand. I used New Look 6460 and grafted on the large cut-on sleeves from the jacket in New Look 6217. I cut the front as two pieces, making it easier to do the v-neck and the front slit. It did make for some work matching the front. I used lots of pins and the chevron pattern still isn't quite perfect. 

It also took some thought to figure out how to line it. I ended up doing lots of understitching to keep the lining out of sight, which is a bit tricky in a knit. The neckline also has elastic to prevent it from stretching out. Also, there are boob cups. I put them in pretty much everything now and it really solves the issue of finding the right undergarments. 

I'd only had it finished for about a week and had already managed to wear it twice: once on New Year's Eve and again that weekend to my friend's bachelorette. It's comfortable and special at the same time. And I still have a little bit left, so we'll see what becomes of it. 

A Decade of Sewing!

Well, another year has come and gone, and so has the decade. But before I jump into 2020, I wanted to take a pause to reflect on what I've sewn this year. This year also marks ten years of steady sewing and blogging for me, which is a pretty big milestone! While my mom introduced me to sewing while I was in elementary school and I even took a home ec class in high school and did a bit of sewing later in college, it wasn't until 2010 when I really caught the bug and started sewing A LOT. I also got more serious about documenting my projects and started this old blog here. While a lot has changed in the digital world since then and you'll find me on Instagram a lot more these days, I still find it satisfying to log my work over here.

To celebrate ten years of projects, I took a look back through the blog and pulled some highlights for you. It is not a top 9 or 10 because, back when I started this thing, projects weren't measured in likes. And they're not even necessarily my most worn items. But looking back, these were some of the garments that made me smile and nearly all of them are still in my wardrobe today:

  • 2010 - Spring Dress: Like most people, I used a lot of quilting cotton when I first learned to sew. This little dress never quite fit at the armholes, but the print was so beautiful and the fabric of high quality that I kept it for years. Also, look at all those little tucks and shirring I added!
  • 2011 - Mustard Fall Dress: Who doesn't love a little skater dress? I still wear this one to this day. I was also discovering my love of jewel tones, another thing that makes this dress so wearable.
  • 2012 - I Made Pants: I was literally jumping for joy after completing my first Clover pants. This set off a pants-making bonanza that lasts to this day. 
  • 2013 - Winter Swing Jacket: This is probably my most complimented jacket to this day. I still adore it and pull it on whenever I want to feel a bit more fashionable and put together. 
  • 2014 - Blue and Gold: These wacky matching Cal shirts set off a trend amongst my friends. I've now made more than I can count as wedding gifts over the years, though I'm looking to retire soon. 
  • 2015 - Freemantle Cocoon Coat: This cropped sleeve adaptation of Marilla Walker's Freemantle Coat is a classic of mine. It goes with nearly everything and can be worn most times of year in the Bay Area. 
  • 2016 - Anna Dress: I had a lot to say about how this pattern was drafted, but after carefully making my alterations I really love this dress. The fabric is the real star. I liked it so much I even copied it in a similar texture for my bridesmaids a few years later. 
  • 2017 - Motorcycle Jacket: Who knew remnants could look so nice? I find myself wearing this one a lot and love the red.
  • 2018 - Wedding Dress: How could this not make the list? This was a true labor of love for 2018. Looking back at this roundup, it also makes me proud about how far my skills have come. 
  • 2019 - Johanna Ortiz Inspired Jumpsuit: Over the years, I haven't lost my love of experimentation and playing with fabric. This jumpsuit was a fun way to keep playing! 

What about the rest of this year? It looks like I made just over 30 things for myself, as well as a number of little things for dogs and babies. Here's a look back at 2019:

Fancy Pants: I just love getting the opportunity to sew for friends' weddings, and this year was no exception. I let myself experiment with some fun patterns and prints, and dove back into sewing Vogue Patterns.
  1. Johanna Ortiz Inspired Jumpsuit
  2. Red Dancing Dress
  3. THAT Vogue Dress
  4. Fancy Pants

Deer and Doe: This year I also finally tried out some Deer and Doe patterns and fell in love! Including the Johanna Ortiz jumpsuit above, I sewed the Sirocco three times!
  1. Experiments with Melilot
  2. Reversible Myosotis Dress
  3. Winter Sirocco
  4. Summer Sirocco

Outfits: I also blogged a lot of things as outfits, from my work power skirt to my outdoorsy wear. The Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee paired well with almost all of it ;) 

Outerwear: I am particularly proud of my Mary Poppins costume-turned-coat this year, and also did a bit of knitting.
  1. Mary Poppins Costume turned Coat
  2. Knit Poncho
  3. Knit Cardigan
  4. Custom Sweatshirt
  5. Graduate Blazer

Little Things: My leftovers usually get passed along to the dog. This year, I also did a bit of baby sewing for the friends and relatives in my life who were expecting little ones. 
  1. Dogsmaid Dress for my friends' wedding
  2. Dog Puffer Jacket
  3. Penguin Halloween Costume
  4. 99 Problems Sweatshirt
  5. Oakland Shirt
  6. Sweater
  7. Bathing Suit
  8. Oakland Running Festival Outfit
  9. Baby Girl Outfit
  10. Baby Bow Outfit
  11. (not pictured) another baby outfit

I am really quite happy with most of the things I've made this year. It was a good mix of fun and practical, with lots of room to try new things. I'm not sure what the magic formula is for a successful year (2016 and 2017 felt kinda blah), but if this is what the last decade brought then I'm even more excited for the next! Happy New Year everyone!

A Different Kind of Project

These past two months we have embarked on a different kind of project. Our bathroom, parts of which may have been original to our 1969 condo, needed some help. I made a list of all the reasons why, but let's just say it starts with mildew and broken fixtures and ends in asbestos and cracking walls. After living with it for seven years (and saving our pennies), it was finally time for a change!

This is also a different type of project than you usually read about on this blog because it was absolutely not DIY. While the Mr. has some tiling skills and I love a good project, re-doing our only bathroom when we both work full time and have very little experience in the area was not going to happen. So we moved out for six weeks while the dust and debris took over our living room. Luckily, we have some very good friends and family who let us rotate through their houses while the bathroom took shape. We handed the keys over to our friend and contractor and didn't even paint a wall or hang a light fixture. We did, however, choose and source all the materials and designs, from the sink faucet to the tile pattern. THAT was fun (and still a lot of work!).  

Unlike previous experiences with contractors hired by the HOA or insurance (we have had our share of water damage issues in the building), our contractor did an AMAZING job. He was super responsive and kept us up to date, his craftsmanship (and that of his subcontractors) is beautiful, and he managed to stay on time even after some set-backs from city inspectors. That was a big relief! 

So are you curious about what it looked like? I just love a good before and after!

The new bathroom feels so bright and clean, and very luxurious! You'll notice that we kept the same layout as before: from the hallway you enter the vanity room with a sink and mirror. Then, to the left is the wash closet with toilet and bath/shower. While we could have opened this space up to make things feel airier, with only one bathroom we really love the convenience of being able to have one person shower while the other still has access to the sink and mirror in the mornings. Plus, no fog on the mirror! We did replace the door with a pocket door, which gives you much more room to get in and out!

We also have a lot more storage now with more drawers, a medicine cabinet, a cabinet above the toilet, and two shower nooks. The tile now goes all the way up to the ceiling and we added frameless glass doors so everything feels taller and more open. Plus, the showerhead is now actually tall enough for an adult to fit under without an extender. While we could have ditched the tub altogether, it's nice to have it for soaking laundry and bathing the dog. We added a handheld hose for even easier bathing and washing.

After six weeks out of our home followed by the holidays, I am so happy to be home. Not only do we have a shiny new bathroom but I missed sewing! I did complete some knitting projects that I'll share soon, but I'm really looking forward to getting back to my machine in the new year.

Here's to fresh beginnings in 2020 and achieving some long-held projects!

Supplies List:

  • Accent tile: Sonoma Tilemakers Hex in Mystic Blue, Damask, and San Clemente
  • All other tiles: All Natural Stone in Berkeley
  • Granite: Formation Stone African Rainbow Granite
  • Paint: Benjamin Moore Sea Star and Chantilly Lace
  • Tub: Kohler Bellwether
  • Toilet: Kohler San Souci
  • Sink: Kohler Verticyl Vitreous China Undermount
  • Showerhead: Pulse Aquarius
  • Tub faucet: Symmons Identity
  • Sink faucet: Moen Genta
  • Shower door: Maax Luminescence
  • Vanity and cabinet: Jenson Danville
  • Medicine cabinet: CB2 Infinity
  • Bathroom hardware: CB2 Rough Cast Bathroom Hardware
  • Vanity lights: George Kovacs Tube 3-Light
  • Drawer pulls: Liberty Drawer Pull

Workin It Skirt

Welp, it's been a busy coupla months. November started out with a work trip to a conference in Minneapolis. While I'd been to the conference before, it was my first time presenting. And I had A BLAST. My coworker and I brought some fun, quirky energy to what can sometimes be a more academic affair and we got great feedback. We're already brainstorming some ideas for next year. 

Of course, no sewist can go on a trip without making something new. I used the leftover from my Mary Poppins coat to make a cute pencil skirt that I wore for my big day. Of course I wore it with the coat :) 

Pattern: I don't remember? 
Fabric: ~1yd navy striped chevron wool jacquard from Mood
Cost: remnant

The skirt is made from a basic pencil skirt pattern in my stash - I honestly don't remember which one. I think I actually pulled a few out of my stash and, seeing that the sizing and darts were basically the same, used one. I did taper it at the sides to make it more pencil-shaped. I like that it doesn't have a waistband so the print wasn't interrupted and the construction was quick. I also added in slash pockets because every presenter needs a place to stash her pens. You can see me with my hand tucked into them below. 

My one mistake was to not include a walking vent. I had intended to do one, but I think I got lazy during construction and convinced myself there was enough walking room. Well, let me tell you that walking around your apartment is very different than trecking all over a convention center! My stride was definitely reduced and I may have to open this back up to add a back slit. Other than that though it was very comfortable and wearable all day. I also love that it is wool because it was 9 degrees when I landed in Minnesota! It was also lined which kept everything tidy and in place. 

Also new for this outfit is my third or fourth Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee. I wear my other two ALL the time (wearing one now) and thought I'd add a white one to the mix. I really like it with this skirt, though the fabric has a bit less drape than is ideal. I also cropped it a bit much, but luckily it has a wide hem so I will just have to re-hem it longer now that it's been through the wash a few times. 

When I got back from Minneapolis at the start of November we had already moved out of our place to start a much-anticipated bathroom remodel. It is starting to look amazing but getting your only bathroom stripped down to the studs is no joke! We've been living with various friends for a total of six weeks now and very much looking forward to moving back in at the end of this week. It will be our Christmas present! Needless to say there has been no sewing during this time, but I have just finished a big knitting project. And, of course, I will share some bathroom pics with you once it's done :) 

All in all it's been a big few months but lots to be excited for!

Getting Sporty

Ok I know I know I know it's November. And you don't need shorts in November. But back in August as I was sweating my ass off on an 11-mile hike I realized that I really did need shorts. How did I not have a pair of shorts? Or at least a pair of active-wear shorts to hike in. Luckily I was able to make these up in time to get a few wears in before the weather turned cold. And then I made a few other outdoor essentials to go with them. 

Pattern: Closet Case Files Pietra Shorts and Pants
Fabric: Robert Kaufman stretch suiting and other remnants
Cost: free from remnants

Pattern: Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee
Fabric: cotton knit
Cost: gift from my mom

Pattern: Style Arc Baseball Cap  
Fabric: upholstery-weight cotton
Cost: $20

Let's start with the shorts. These are made using the new Pietra Shorts and Pants pattern from Closet Case Files. However, you'll notice that these are a lot narrower than the pattern shorts. As I wanted something no-frills for hiking, I cut mine from the narrower pants pattern rather than the wider shorts pieces. It was a bit of a process to calculate given the unique pocket construction and my limited fabric, but I got there in the end - even if the side is pieced together.

To allow for maximum movement, I used remnants I had on hand of Robert Kaufman's stretch suiting. I just love the drape and stretch on this fabric - so comfy! This is probably the fourth time I've sewn with it and it's great for pants. However, as you can see I didn't quite have enough, so the pocket insert is made from an upholstery-weight remnant I had on hand. While I thought about trying to use a matching fabric, in the end I like that the subtle variation in texture between the two pieces. Together, the fabrics feel really sturdy for hiking and allow lots of movement.

Another reason that I wanted to make these shorts was to test out the fit of the Pietra Pants. From this sample, I quite liked the fit and could see myself making the full length version. As a pear-shape, however, I knew I couldn't do my usual grading between sizes as the pull-on style wouldn't fit over my hips. Instead, I cut the largest size according to my measurements and cut the elastic shorter to get it to fit at the waist. This works well for these shorts, although there is a lot of gathering back there. 

In this photo I'm also wearing one of my Tessuti Mandy Boat Tees, which is an absolute staple in my wardrobe. It is as easy to wear as a regular knit t-shirt, but somehow feels more interesting. I find I can wear it to work and on the weekends with ease. My mom spotted it and so I recently traced off a copy of the pattern to send to her as well. The pattern is free on the Tessuti site. The fabric was a gift from her and is a lovely heathered texture with little blue flecks in it. It's not super stretchy but works well for this pattern. 

Finally, I made a baseball hat. Why? Honestly, I'm not really sure. Somehow I got it in my head that I wanted to make one after seeing a cool cap my friend was wearing and just couldn't let the idea go. I liked the idea of having a more fitted one than the typical baseball cap and being able to use whatever fabric I wanted. Style Arc makes a Baseball Cap pattern and you can get a 10-pack of brims for $5 online.

Of course, sewing one was not as easy as I imagined. Aside from printing the pattern at the wrong scale, there are lots of fiddly bits and I have a small head so there was actually some fitting to do. We'll call this version a wearable muslin. I think I have the process figured out a bit more now though and will give it another go. Just imagine the fabric possibilities!

 Here are some more detailed shots of cap. The hat is topped with a button from the stash and the inside is lightly interfaced. The seams are hidden with bias tape in the style that my friend's hat was, although the Style Arc pattern recommends fulling lining it. Using the store-bought brim was especially fiddly. I think a zipper foot was involved.

You can see some rippling at the brim and my husband says it's a little off-balance, but I'm excited to try again next time.

It turns out, hats aren't just good for sunny days but for all manner of bad hair days, so this one might last me through the California winter as well. Anyone else making unseasonable clothes out there??
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