Red Dancing Dress

It's wedding season again and I haven't been short on inspiration. I scooped up Vogue 1545 during the last sale and was excited to have an opportunity to sew it up for my friend's wedding this past weekend.

Fabric: 2.5 yds ponte double knit
Cost: $35

While this pattern is designed for wovens, I thought a scuba knit would give it some nice body. Maybe a print? I excitedly jumped on the internets, thinking up a million ways (ok, five) to dress up this pattern. But wait a minute, you might be saying, this dress isn't made in a scuba knit or a print. What happened? Well, let me just say that the FIRST version was. I ordered this wild floral kaleidoscope print from Mood, spent way more $$ than I should have, and eagerly waited for it to arrive. When it came, boy was it bright! Despite my reservations, I sewed it up anyway. And it was... still too bright. I hated it. I couldn't even bring myself to wear it on our Hawaiian vacation. If anyone wears neons better than I do and has 38" hips and a 32" bust, it's all yours! 

It's been a while since I'd made a disaster as colossal as sewing a garment I could/would never wear. What to do next? I eventually decided I still wanted to make this dress, but a solid might be better. I ordered a beautiful red scuba very cheaply off Amazon. Waited for it to arrive. And, you guessed it - it was VERY bright. It looked like a shade of traffic cone orange. What was with my sudden attraction to neon fabrics on the internet? Do I need to adjust my monitor? I tried to dye it darker to no avail and realized I needed to try a THIRD time for the right fabric. This time, it was straight to my local fabric store for this scarlet ponte double knit. Bingo. 

With the advantage of having already sewn up the dress once, I made a few modifications. I had graded it out from the bust to the hips and needed to take the pattern back in some at the waist. As it was made from a stable knit, I also sized the top down a little, bringing in the darts along the waistline and taking in the sides. In hindsight, it may still be a smidge loose but on a dress like this you don't want it so tight that it pulls open at the front. I also added bust cups to fill in the top a bit more, as on many smaller figures the dress appears a bit... hollow. 

After photographing the dress, I ended up tacking the overlays to the body under the bust to help things lay flat. I remember that I also shortened the overlays by a bit as the tended to gape. Despite the slim model that Vogue uses, I think this dress is cut for figures that are more endowed than myself. 

In addition to those modifications, I also raised the armholes by a good two inches to help hold things in place. This is the second designer Vogue pattern I've made recently that has very low armholes and it makes the whole fit feel off to me. I brought these back up to a comfortable depth for me. I also sewed the front opening shut for several inches to try to hold things in place. I'm glad I did, as it can gape a little with wear as it is. For those considering making this dress, I would recommend stabilizing the front opening to pull things in and make it conform to the body. In the case of this knit dress, clear elastic would work well. 

To help reduce bulk with all these layers, I lined the top of the dress in a matching stretch mesh. Some reviewers of this pattern said they had trouble figuring out the lining instructions, but I just made things up as I went along. The top is fully lined and understitched to hold things in place. I left the overlay unlined to further reduce bulk. The skirt is also unlined and unhemmed. 

After all my fabric woes, I am happy with this dress. I love this color on me and I feel like it is a versatile piece I could wear to a few events. The knit fabric also makes it very comfortable. 

The back is a real stunner with an opening and metal zipper. I closed the skirt in the back with a gold button after forgetting to attach the zipper through the waistband. 

After all my fitting and fabric tribultions, this dress finally ended up working out and makes me feel like the red dancing emoji. And that's how we spent the wedding, dancing the night away in a warm summer vineyard. 

Print-Mixing Bikini

Aloha! We snuck off for a week to enjoy the sun on Maui. My father-in-law came along and celebrated his 70th birthday with a tropical drive around the island, Asian noodles, and a boat ride through the lava rocks. There was also lots of opportunity for sun and sand and, of course, my annual new swimsuit. Such a lucky girl!

Pattern: Orange Lingerie's Esplanade Bra and Ohhh Lulu Grace Panties
Fabric: Poly Spandex in Daisy and Crane prints
Cost: $20

Somewhere I got the idea in my head that I wanted a print-mixed bikini this year. I blame Pinterest. I couldn't stop thinking about pairing two contrasting florals in a bohemian, chic suit for the summer. In practice, finding the right fabric was much harder than expected. I scoured countless fabric stores, mocked up a few combos, was talked out of my most wild notions by my husband and the internet, and finally settled on these two fabrics from the Fabric Fairy. I like the way the black compliments the florals, and the cranes have a similar color scheme. The fabrics arrived quickly and were of great quality, so I was on my way! I also have like 20yds of swimsuit elastic on hand after buying in bulk on Amazon.

For this swimsuit, I was also dearly tempted to buy the Closet Case Files Sophie Swimsuit. As you can see, my suit is nearly identical. However, it was hard to justify when I had two very similar patterns in my stash already. The final tipping point was the reminder that I'd already fitted these patterns to my body - for a bra and bottoms, this is very important! So I dove ahead using the Orange Lingerie Esplanade Bra and Ohhh Lulu Grace Panties patterns to great results.

For the top, I made a few modifications. I first shortened the height of the band all the way around so that it was barely an inch under the cups. I then tapered the back band further until it was the size of my back clasp. Finally, I added a fabric tube as the neck strap, attached to the top of the bust cups. I didn't add any boning or supports other than underwire and cup foam and it holds up really well on my body without slipping.

For the bottoms, I had already lengthened the Grace panties so that they reached my natural waist. I have quite a long rise, so I believe I raised them by several inches. I also sewed a second pair that is low rise. From what I remember, this low rise version is lower than the Grace panties as drafted. I've been making two bottoms for my bathing suits lately and liking it quite a lot. It allows me to have a more adventurous pair, like this high-rise version or even a really cheeky version, and then have a more "normal" version for when I'm not feeling so daring. Makes the suit much more versatile!

The suit behaved well in the water. I wore it to lounge at the beach and the pool, but I also wore it out snorkeling, twice! The higher rise of the bottoms give ya more sun coverage when you're face down looking at fish and turtles. The top stays on well, although I wouldn't wear it for serious swimming. In that case, I'd want a more compression-style top, similar to how you'd wear a sports bra rather than a foam underwire bra to go running. My only gripe really is that the leg elastic is quite snug, which looks fabulous but isn't ideal for all-day wear such as riding along the rode to Hana looking for waterfalls.

It took me several years and many fails to sew a bathing suit I actually liked. The last two suits I wore to Hawaii, 5 and 8 years ago, were barely wearable. But I finally got the hang of it a few years ago and I haven't looked back since. They aren't all winners, but I have a feeling I'll be wearing this one for years to come! 


A few years ago, I made a beloved jumpsuit that was the perfect piece for a night out. I wore it to the wrap party of a short film, to a casual NYE party, and any other time I wanted to feel cute and put together but not overdressed. However, being as it was self-drafted, there were some fitting issues and the whole thing always was a bit heavy. I eventually donated it, but have felt the hole in my wardrobe ever since.

Enter, the popular new Deer and Doe Sirocco jumpsuit.

Pattern: Deer and Doe's Sirocco
Fabric: 2+ yds Dear Stella's Dabs (cotton/spandex)
Cost: free fabric from swap

This pattern is everything I was looking for in a new jumpsuit. While I don't usually buy new patterns on their release day, I rushed to add this to my cart. A few weeks later, I have sewn it up and am wearing it as I type - layered with a cropped jean jacket, it is the perfect outfit for lunch with coworkers and dinner with friends later tonight.

What do I love about this jumpsuit? Let me count the ways! For one, it fit perfectly straight out of the envelope; all I had to do was grade between sizes based on my measurements. Just look at how it hugs my swayback! The front doesn't gape, it nips in my waist just so, and it is long enough in the torso. Plus it has everyone's favorite thing - pockets. I think Deer and Doe draft for pear shapes, which is perfect for me.

The fabric was something I picked up for free at a fabric swap last year. The selvage says it is Dear Stella brand. I looked it up online and saw that it is the Dabs print in cotton/spandex, which is still available. I might have to buy more from them as I just love the print! In fact, it had become a bit of a "precious" fabric and I couldn't quite put my finger on what it wanted to be until this pattern. It is primarily black like my last jumpsuit, but the dabs give it some character.

I had about a yard less than the recommended amount, plus I was lengthening the sleeves to three-quarter length, so I had to be really economical with my fabric layout. There were only scraps left when I was done with it, plus you can see some of the writing from the selvage on the underarm and inner leg. I may have also cut the legs slightly off grain, but it seems to not have affected the fit. The pockets were the only thing that didn't make the cut - I cut them from a black knit I had on hand. I actually rather like that bit of contrast, so we'll call it a design feature.

The fit at the waist is wonderful and I like how it shows off my figure as compared to some of the boxier jumpsuit patterns out there. The legs are a bit wider than my last jumpsuit, but they are growing on me. The fit is really marvelous through the legs, and as a pants-making junky this is something I really appreciate. There's no bunching or weird draglines for me! I'm also glad I lengthened the sleeve to three-quarter length, which is more my style.

Here's how I'm wearing it out of the house in a few minutes - paired with a cropped jean jacket. The jacket is actually a second-hand kids' XL OshKosh jacket  😂. I do like the fit.

This was my first outift of Me Made May. As in years' past, I'm hoping to show off my "me-mades" along with my second-hand clothes. I don't shop much in clothing stores, but I do supplement my handmade wardrobe with items from clothing swaps. It's fun to try out new shapes that way or pick up things that come along that would've taken me days to make. Happy May everyone!

A Tale of Three Melilots

I am really feeling my Deer and Doe patterns lately. Melilot, Sirocco, Myosotis, I've bought them all. I tackled the Melilot first and now I want to sew one up in every fabric I own. It is the perfect comfortable-yet-pulled-together top for a day at work, without all the stuffiness of a normal button-down. And I think the Deer and Doe pattern block really fits me well.

Pattern: Deer and Doe's Melilot Shirt
Fabric: 2 yds
Cost: $20

Of course, I didn't have success right out of the gate. My first attempt at the Melilot was a complete failure. It wasn't the pattern so much as the fabric. I had picked up an incredibly cheap drapey fabric at our local fabric swap and was convinced I could wrestle it into submission. And I actually was pretty successful in sewing the whole thing up. But what I had forgotten was that cheap fabric to sew with can also be terrible fabric to wear. It showed every pucker, didn't feel very good on, and honestly wasn't even a great color on me. I'm really not sure what I was thinking. Even worse, I had raised (and lengthened?) the bust darts and it was NOT sitting right. Here's the one picture before it went to a new home. Ugh those darts.

This time around, the fabric was much easier to work with. I knew this because I'd already sewn with it - I made the Mr. a button-down in the same fabric. I loved sewing that shirt so much that I couldn't avoid the fabric when I was shopping for my own. I haven't had the heart to tell him we're twins yet.

In addition to better fabric, I also made a few modifications. I changed the darts back to their rightful place. I also modified the Peter Pan style collar to a pointed collar shape. The whole shirt was then shortened and given a new hem shape. As before, I cut a straight size based on my hips, which gave me generous room up top.

Oh, and one more thing. Have you ever noticed that the sleeve bands tend to stick up and out from the body? See my first Melilot above for what I'm talking about. I know it's a style choice, but part of me has always felt like they could be drafted to lay flatter against the body. To remedy this, I took the long sleeve pattern piece and traced a new cuff along the curve of the sleeve cap. See the picture below for what I'm talking about. I cut two for each sleeve so that I would have a facing, as you can't fold this one in half lengthwise. The result is a cuff that lays flat instead of sticking up at an odd angle. Much better!

And did I say there was a third Melilot? Well there is! But it wasn't sewn by me. Shortly after I bought the pattern, I went to visit my parents and was surprised to see that my mom had sewn some Melilots, too! She had made herself the long-sleeve version but had also sewn the short-sleeve one as a wearable muslin. Not only did she allow me to try it on for fit, but she also let me keep it! It is impeccably sewn just like all the things my mom makes. 

After working on a few more involved projects these last few weeks, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly this top sewed up. I'm also getting pretty good at that pattern matching across the front, if I do say so myself. 

Ok, that's enough Melilots for me today. I'm off to sew my new Sirocco jumpsuit pattern! Now just to pick the fabric... And who's ready for Me Made May?!

Cozy Sheltered Poncho

I snuck these pictures in on a misty Bay Area morning before the rain clouds rolled in. Now I'm sitting on the couch with the turtle neck pulled up high, warding off the chill as I try to get some work done (but clearly failing, as here I am blogging). Living in a place where the dreary fog can last well into spring, and sometimes straight through August, I figured it was a good time to try out a knitted poncho. 

Pattern: Drea Knits' Sheltered Poncho
Yarn: 4 skeins Uptown Worsted in Titanium Heather 
Cost: $26

To find this pattern, I ended up looking through A LOT of different options for something that I felt would fit in my wardrobe. I don't know if you other occasional knitters have experienced this, but I realized that I have a much firmer grasp on the range of sewing patterns out there than knitting patterns. I really had no idea about what I wanted or where to look! I guess it's time to follow more knitters on Instagram. While I have generally figured out my sewing style, I still have to think about what knit pieces work well for me. 

I hardly expected to land on a poncho for this project, but I'm actually really liking it! While more commonly associated with San Francisco hippies and Mexican folk wear, I am starting to believe that ponchos can also be the perfect modern layering piece. I'm hoping that this piece will be just as easy to pull on over my tops as my go-to puffer jacket and offer a little more style. 

The pattern I finally cast on is the Sheltered Poncho by knitting darling Drea Renee. I even chose a similar yarn and uh, shirt and pants to wear with it. If it works, why change it, right? I did size down though, as I have a relatively small rib cage and didn't want something too oversized. I am quite pleased with the proportions on me.

The yarn is 100% acrylic, but I actually really like it. My local yarn shop regularly carries it and it is soft and anti-pill and feels substantial but not too heavy. I also really like the subtle heathering that gives the color some dimension. I originally calculated that I would need about 9 skeins for this pattern. However, they only had four in stock and put more on order for me. But by the time they called a few weeks later, I had already knit it up using the 4 skeins on hand. This made it a much more affordable project for me. Don't worry local yarn shop, I'll be back for more in another colorway for my next project!

I do think I made quite a few more mistakes than I usually do knitting up a pattern. This is probably because I don't usually follow patterns, though. It is really quite simple in the stockinette and twisted knit stitch, but I occasionally lost track of the increases. Most notably, I think the back neck opening is a bit asymmetrical. The poncho shape is quite forgiving though, so I didn't let it bother me too much. You'll also notice that I made a few changes to the pattern, such as knitting the hem band in a rib and omitting the hood. I am not going to wear a hood.

This pattern also has some lovely little details that are hard to see in the product photos. There is some faux seaming and a twisted rib stitch on the upper half. I think it gives the poncho some dimensionality to an otherwise simple shape. I also followed the instructions to tack the front to the back under the arms, which holds things in place and gives it more of a look of a top than a poncho.

This was another very quick knit for me. I usually just knit at night while watching TV, but we also took a last-minute 16-hour road trip to visit a family member (8 hours down, 8 hours back in one weekend), so I consoled myself with getting a lot of knitting done.

I also currently have a pair of socks cast on, and my next big knit project is already in the planning stages. This one is much more ambitious. Let's just say there's Alexander McQueen inspiration and skeletons involved. I think it's the year of knitting for me!
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