I grabbed a pair of sparkly tights from American Apparel that I had destroyed after only a few wears and here's what I did.
Did I make this awesome dress covered in ribbons and sequins? Nope. I bought it at a vintage store for $20. The focus here is my super sparkly tights. I didn't make these either, but I did alter them to extend their life and make them way more comfortable in the process. I love wearing dresses in the winter which neccessitates a lot of tights and leggings. I love the colours and options at places like American Apparel and Joe Fresh but their sizes just don't fit me. I'm the wrong shape and I'm too tall. the tights tend to get pulled down so that I have drop crotch and they also tend to split first along crotch seam first. Not to mention they tend to be so uncomfortable and annoying.
I was reading Marilla Walker's blog a week or two ago and she was releasing a pattern for tights. I have seen a few people make tights before but a light sparked and I realized I could just replace the tops of my tights. This is by no means an original idea as a few days later this exact technique was outlined on her blog and I'm sure it's been done by many others before. You can check out her post here. There's a great tutorial by Carolyn here to draft your own tights pattern here.
I grabbed a pair of sparkly tights from American Apparel that I had destroyed after only a few wears and here's what I did.
I cut the legs off the body of the tights at the point where the fabric changed.
I used my self drafted leggings pattern and folded it so the leg in-seam length was only a couple inches and cut it out on some nude stretch fabric.
I constructed the leggings as usual including adding an elastic waistband so they looked like nude booty shorts. I then zigzag stitched the legs of the original tights to the openings of the shorts. I had to stretch the original tights quite a bit during this. Also it was important to figure out the orientation of the feet before attaching so they were on the right way.
It was super easy. They look very odd when they are not on due to the different qualities of both fabrics but they look fine on as they stretch to fit your body.
Life changing. It's the little things in life. I'm planning on slowly doing this to all my current tights. Hurrah!
I just knew this dress was going to be a win. I live for knit dresses. They allow me to look like I care a little bit while avoiding pants which are my nemesis. This is made using the Coco pattern from Tilly and the Buttons. This pattern has been out for awhile and I have admired a number of versions of it for some time. I had been debating ordering it online for awhile but hadn't gotten around to justifying ordering a pattern online when I have a lot already that I haven't made. We stopped by a Spool of Thread a month ago though and they had it in stock so I grabbed it without hesitation. I grabbed the fabric while killing some time before meeting friends for coffee and then sewed this up in less than 2 hours from start to finish on a day off.
Pattern and Construction:
This dress is made from a ponte di roma. I feel like I every time I see a dress on a blog made out of this fabric, I think, "that's it, the perfect fabric." It's obviously not the perfect fabric for everything but it is the perfect fabric for this dress. It's got the right amount of body to keep a bit of A line in the skirt as well as be thick enough not so show lumps and bumps of underwear and legging lines. It's also extremely comfortable as it's soft and has some stretch. This was my first time sewing with this fabric and it will not be my last.
After sewing this up, I threw it over my head before hemming it and adding the cuffs to check fit. I was baffled by the collar which was huge and floppy. It took me a minute to realize that you are meant to fold the collar over in half to get the shape and structure needed. I definitely enjoy the 60's nod this gives the dress with the sleeve length and overall shape of the dress. It does make it hard to wear necklaces with it though.
I took this photo of the sleeve because I'm not sure about the ease in them. They are a bit loose especially around the cuff. After looking at the pattern cover again though I realize that they are meant to be folded up so that they are more of a 60's inspired cuff. This makes more sense so I should probably just start doing that. I think if I made the long sleeve version without the cuff though I'd narrow the sleeve in general.
So there it is. The Coco. I definitely have more variations of this dress and this top in my future. Do you have a favourite style of garment to wear? A favourite fabric?
I'm talking about Hallowe'en of course. Hallowe'en is the perfect holiday. I mean, yes I do enjoy other holidays for the family and meaningful time spent together and all that but Hallowe'en is the most fun. It reminds me of when I was starting University and a couple I babysat for told me that University wasn't necessarily the best time of their lives but it was the most fun. Hallowe'en is the holiday equivalent. No family obligation, no awkward gift giving just dressing up and partying. It's also the time of year where it is socially acceptable to make your own clothes.
In a lead up to Hallowe'en this year I thought I'd post a round up of costumes I've made over the years. After compiling all of these photos in one spot, I'm noticing an intense progression into insanity. You can also see I trade youth for more sewing skill and money for materials.
Wonder Woman and Steve Zissou.
About two years before this photo I started University. Hallowe'en had become an awkward holiday until this point. I was no longer little and cute and I'd had some typical awkard teen moments. An especially horrifying memory is that of me dressed as Pipi Longstockings when I was like 15...so cringeworthy. Then I realized that you could dress as something cool. I dressed up as Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. It was pretty much just a tank top, khaki shorts, a french braid and some guns in holsters but it worked well and I felt super cool and badass all night. I wore the same costume the next year and drank TNT beer all night with bravado. This started a trend of dressing as badass super hero type ladies to justify my running around and acting obnoxious all Hallowe'en. I also felt this was somehow superior to dressing as a "sexy cat" as the costumes were accurate to the characters. Look at me on my high horse.
For Wonder Woman, I had about zero sewing knowledge but I think ignorance was bliss and I just jumped in and went to it with this costume. I borrowed my mom's serger and copied a tube top and some exercise shorts I had for construction. I covered my boots in red fabric which closed with some velcro under the sole. This led to me slipping and diving face first into the sidewalk. My partner took me to the bathroom to clean up where I freaked out because the sink was full of blood. I was hysterical until I realized it was decoration and that I just had a scraped up chin and an embarassing bruise.
My partner was an excellent Steve Zissou mostly because of his ability to grow a full beard at the age of 20. I helped with the gun holster (what with all my Lara Croft experience) and he did the rest at Value Village.
Bavarian Bar Maid and Edward Scissorhands
I'm realizing that in these early days we didn't take a lot of photos and that they were generally terrible.
I had just graduated and was super broke and looking for work. I butched what I think was a children's dress from india, added an apron and a shirt I already owned to make this costume. Most costume energy was focussed on my partner who was an amazing Edward Scissorhands. His crazy long curly black hair was perfect and we went from there. I can find zero pictures of this costume which is a shame. You can just imagine Johnny Depp here.
Xena and The Jesus
My friends told me to dress as Xena every year and this was the year I relented. It was an awesome costume but my fingers were sore for days after putting in all those brass studs in the pleather. I had no pattern I just made this up as I went along attempting to make bra cups out of pleather. I fastened everything with adhesive backed velcro that I sewed to the pleather which essentially destroyed my $60 sewing machine I bought at Canadian Tire. I painted a lot of the gold details on with gold paint and my weapon was made from a stack of paper plates.
My partner was a super creepy Jesus from the Big Lebowski. This costume was mostly just dying all his clothes purple and wearing a lot of tacky jewelry.
Chun Li and Robin Hood
I cannot find any better pictures of these costumes but they were actually really good.
I even had red tights and white lace up boots. This was my first year using a sewing pattern. I adapted a shift dress pattern from Sew U heavily. I cut out gold and appliqued it on with a zig zag stitch but left raw egdes so it frayed quite quickly. I ran around kicking the air a lot that year.
My partner was adamant that he would be slutty Robin Hood. I was all for it as I think it is hilarious when men wear tiny shorts and tights on Hallowe'en just like women. I have one male friend who always wore typical sexy costumes on Hallowe'en. That way he could walk up to girls and say "Oh wow, I'm a cat too" while wearing tights and a tube top. I made this green top based on a tshirt out of some green felt and my partner learned about eyelets and hammers.
Mystique and Data
This was the turning point of Hallowe'en. I feel like we can never go back now. The bar has been set, however I don't know that we can ever top these costumes.
I bought an XL blue MorphSuit and took in the waist and crotch to make it fit better. I then mixed acrylic paint with a fabric paint additive to paint scales all over the suit. The most time consuming part was the hair and make up. It was a 45 minute process to paint my face, gel my hair and spray it red and then carefully put in my yellow contacts. This costume was so much fun and I felt constantly compelled to do weird yoga poses in it.
We ended up purchasing the Data shirt to save time. More facepaint and yellow contacts helped with this one. I think my partner was very good at nailing his detached expression.
Despite these characters being unrelated everyone definitely enjoyed them more together. Ever since we have done couples costumes for the added fun.
My partner convinced me to wear these to Fan Expo that year. I had never been to convention before. He told me that everyone went in costume and it was like Hallowe'en in May. This resulted in us waiting for the skytrain in the spring dressed like this while everyone pretended not to notice. A guy came up to us and asked if he could take a photo and as soon as we said yes, all 40 people on the platform raised their phones and took a picture. I have never been photographed so many times as I was that day. People handed me their babies and took photos. It was like being a nerd celebrity. Very surreal.
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep
I saw this concept on some blogs and thought it was genious. We are big fans of The Big Sleep so modelled ourselves after the film noir couple. Our clothes are all grayscale 40's looking finds from Value Village. I wore a grey wig. I even made us grayscale fake cigarettes. We wore greyscale facepaint and grey contacts which looked red in a lot of photos but I think worked in person. This was a lot of make up and I don't know that my partner will ever agree to another costume that involves face paint again.
I thought we looked very recognizable, at least as film noir characters, but everyone thought we were zombies.
April O'neil and Shredder
The Shredder really stole the show. Such an epic costume. I sewed a grey tunic based off a t-shirt my partner had. I finished the edges of the cape to prevent fraying. We spent a long time cutting out and spray painting black foam for the armour. The helmet I made through making a number of tries with paper first and then made it out of foam. It was fastened with staples and those brads you get at office supply stores. His mask was a spray painted mask from the hardware store with a hole cut in it for drinking. The only down side to this costume was it was quite fragile and some of the foam spikes broke off over the evening.
My jumpsuit was made from the pajama bottoms from Sewaholic Patterns with some extra pockets added. I used the Archer shirt pattern for the top but again added cargo style pockets and shortened the sleeves. With the belt I don't think you tell they were separates at all. My partner made my Channel 6 News label for an Xbox microphone. Most people thought I was on a safari. Am I the only one who remembers the original Ninja Tutles?
So there was a very long picture-heavy trip down memory lane. I am definitely unreasonably excited by Hallowe'en. We were planning on painting our apartment this fall but I postponed it until November because I decided that all spare time in October should be spent sewing for Hallowe'en.
This years costumes: Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish.
Do you know how awkward it is to take a photo of yourself in a bathing suit in public? It's like a million times more awkward than just taking a photo of you in regular clothes in public. We took these photos at the Crystal Hotel in the Salt Pools while we were in Portland. It was awesome. You can bring drinks down from your room and just hang out at the end of the day before you go to bed. They were open until 1am for those that were cooler than us. We decided to take these photos so we threw the camera in the robe pocket and then waited until a lull where we were the only ones there. We then felt like we had to take the photos super fast because we were pretty sure that anyone who walked in on us would think we were perverts.
This is the Soma Swimsuit pattern from Papercut patterns. Before going on my trip, I decided that I wanted a sport swimsuit to wear for all the active swimming I was going to do between biking 600km (I obviously just used it for hot tubbing and one time I ran into a lake). I think that I had lost sight of how much time I really had until my trip at this point and decided it was reasonable to make a swimsuit in 2 days. It was possible but it was not reasonable. I ended up standing outside soaking wet on my porch at 11pm the night before my trip in a bathing suit with pins all over it telling my partner I had probably made a huge mistake.
The pattern was great. The bottoms are very comfortable and provide good coverage. The instructions were easy to follow and result in a clean finish. I couldn't find all of the exact supplies needed so I had to make my own strapping which was quite fiddly and time consuming and I think detracts from the neat finish of the suit. I also spent a lot of time fiddling with the length of all the straps to get the top right so it wouldn't sag in weird spots. I'm very happy with the resulting suit and eager to try the one piece for more modest times (she says while posting bathing suit photos on the internet).
When shopping for swimsuit fabric, like a bird, I was super distracted by all the bright shiny things and decided that I needed a multi neon look a la Body Glove. I truly miss the surf aesthetic of the 90's and would happily spend my summers in zippered neon crop tops with tie dyed drawstring pants. I brought the fabric up to the counter to be cut and the woman looked away in disgust as she said "that's really bright."
When we were biking down the coast, we started to notice a pattern. Almost every town had a famous rock. It's like when people were looking for a new place to settle down they'd go down the coast until they hit a big rock in the ocean and stop. Sometimes the town is named after the rock, like in Seal Rocks and other times it's just heavily featured in all tourist information. This is Cannon Beach which claims to have the most famous rock of the entire Oregon Coast. It's a perfectly nice rock but I'm not sure that it stands apart for me.
This is another dress I made for my bike trip. It's another lady skater made from some purple mystery technical fabric I got at an Our Social Fabric sale. I modified the pattern by narrowing the shoulders and straps at the neckline and making it sleeveless. I finished the arms with the same banded technique used for the neckline which seemed to work fine. I think if I made this again I would cut the area under the armpit in a little further.
This dress fills a very weird niche in that it is sporty but still a dress. I feel like it's sort of a weird tennis dress. I don't think I ever need another one of these in this kind of fabric but it was perfect for wearing on the beach and drying quickly. I think my original idea was that I would throw it on over my bike shorts when I stopped to do stuff to disguise how ridiculous I looked when grocery shopping and what have you. I abandoned this idea quickly on the trip and found that I was so sweaty, hungry, tired and used to looking like a fool that I would just wear my bike clothes. This resulted in a lot of photos of me doing touristy things in my Ronald McDonald outfit. I should make a public art exhibit of it. Very entertaining.
Not much else to say.
How do you feel about giant rocks in the ocean? Worth building a town around?
You read about the "golden hour" constantly on blogs but I assumed it was something that only really worked if you had an instagram account, owned a DSLR camera and used Photoshop actions...all things that are way above my photo skill set.
My partner and I were walking around in Astoria on our vacation and I noticed it was the "golden hour" so we took some photos. That shit is magic.
I got a bit crazy about my bike trip on the Oregon Coast and decided that it required me to sew all the things. This dress was one of those things.
It checked all the boxes:
This was my first time assembling a Colette pattern. I have a couple that intend to make up but this one jumped the queue for my trip. I liked the comfortable yet slightly elegant design. I think it looks gorgeous in a fabric with a ton of drape like this. As I was reading the directions, I thought I knew better, but decided to follow them for my first run through. I'm glad I did. I quite like the way the front bodice is lined and the waistband is cleverly constructed as well. I'm not a huge fan of how the back neck and arm seams are finished as they are just turned under but I will have to think on this for next time. I cut the long length option on this dress and ended up with something above the knee which worked but I wouldn't go shorter at 5'10". The drape is attractive but there is almost too much drape and when I lean forward I definitely expose myself to the world. Made from some pretty scandalous bike rides in town. The pattern also seems to have shoulders that are too wide for me though I tend to have narrow shoulders so I think I'll make them narrower for next time.
Despite some changes lined up for next time this dress makes the cut. It performed amazingly on my trip. It was so comfortable on the long train ride to Portland and still looked good enough to go out for dinner in. I will definitely be making this one up again soon.
I'm a part-time hipster. Every few weekends I throw on a vintage dress and wait unreasonably long outside a trendy restaurant to eat brunch at noon. When I was in school, I'd say I was a hipster about 40% of the time, now as I'm grown up I'd say it's down to 10%. Pretty sad as I actually love wearing anything outrageous and ridiculous. This morning though, I felt a little rusty. These clothes felt from a past life and I felt pretty self conscious when I stepped out of the apartment. I quickly got over it as we headed for brunch at Slickity Jim's Chat and Chew, or as my friend dubbed it "Hungry Hungry Hipster." Everyone was doing their own thing style wise and it was amazing.
This skirt was one of the first things I think I made well. I decided a couple years ago that I was going to spend some time perfecting a skirt block. I used the instructions and modified the pattern from the SewU book from Built by Wendy. These books were my first try at learning to sew for real. I know that their target audience is beginners but I actually think they are more appropriate for intermediate sewers. There are certain details that I just didn't know about during construction and it would've been easier with more detailed instructions. The premise of the book is that you can take a base pattern and alter it to make anything you want, which is true but requires more skills than I think a beginner has. I think after making a number of garments by the book, I'm much more prepared with some fundamental skills to return to these books.
So I made a skirt block I was very happy with and then made this denim skirt. I finished the seams and everything. I also think this was my first zipper that turned out well. As you can see from these photos, it's a bit small now and so sits higher on my waist. This makes for some pull lines across the hips and a scandalous hemline but it also means that it's high enough to rock the high waist crop top look that is in right now. Though this look is usually a little more polished and a little less 80's.
Speaking of the crop top. I stumbled upon this clip somewhere of Mindy Kaling talking about this trend. Apparently it caused quite the commotion when she sported it at some event. I really liked her response to the whole thing.
I usually have a go to type of garment in my closet that I can throw on when I just need to rush out the door and not think about what I'm wearing. It needs to be simple and look decent without effort. I usually end up with a few variations on the same thing just to make life easy. It has changed over the years...jean shorts and tank top, turtle neck dresses and leggings, ugly sweaters and skinny jeans. But I found that I had gone through another transition and my closet was lacking just that thing until now.
This is the Lady Skater dress by Kitschy Coo patterns. I've seen this dress on tons of blogs and everyone looks great in it. I've been meaning to make this up for awhile. This is actually my second version, but I cut out the bodice first before realizing I didn't have enough fabric for the skirt and had to put it on hold.
I made a straight size 4 without any alterations. It looks like the sleeves need to be narrowed a bit for this length and I might need to take a bit of excess fabric out of the back by shortening the bodice. Otherwise it fits well and is amazingly comfortable. The pattern was easy to follow and I liked the way it had you add clear elastic to the bodice before construction. I changed the order of putting together the neckline and arm bands because I find I get a cleaner finish when I add them in the round. I didn't bother finishing the hem because it's a casual dress and I thought it would look wavy and crappy.
The polka dot fabric is some cheap fabric that I got at an Our Social Fabric sale in a bin. The blue rib knit I picked up at Dressew to match at a later date. The rib knit is a beautiful fabric that is overly nice for the bodice but it colour matched and it feels nice so there ya go.
So this is it. My new standby. Expect many variations to come.
What's your standby?
So the summer sewing plan is happening slowly but I've been wearing my new skirt to work so much it's never clean enough to take a photo of it for the blog. It'll turn up on here eventually.
This is something different from that plan, though very in keeping with the constant posting of leggings. It very inaccurately reflects my lifestyle or I'm in denial about how often I look like an active slob.
I have always wanted to go on a bike touring trip. I think it's because I like the idea of being productive while relaxing. Much like my need to knit something while watching TV, I feel the need to exercise while on vacation. I have been pestering my partner about this for years and he finally acquiesced. Now that we're actually sorting out the logistics of biking from Portland to California in a few weeks we are realizing that it is actually really far.
My partner put it in perspective by stating that it's farther than he has ever biked in a day every day for 10 days. When I tell people about our upcoming trip they always say how hardcore we are. At this point, we haven't done it so we're actually just naive and ambitious.
During one of my many recent trips to MEC, I realized that I would probably need some bike shorts with padding in them to survive 700km. MEC has amazing selection and I find that their stuff is usually good quality but I find their pants and shorts are not cut to fit a lady shaped like me.
I was recently at a prison and I looked around and realized that not only did I miss my calling as a cop but also my calling as a correctional officer solely based on my height and build. All those women have to wear pants that are cut for slim hips and all of them have those lines that pull right across the front of their hips (If every single person in the profession has this problem, I feel like they should start changing the uniform accordingly). I have this same problem at MEC.
Sewing to the rescue! These are the Duathlon Shorts from Fehr Trade. I have all sorts of good things to say about this pattern. It was exactly what I needed. I graded from a small in the waist to a medium in the hips. I made no other changes. They fit great and stay put while I'm biking. They also have instructions for adding padding. I used 3 layers of polar fleece I had in my stash. This was actually really simple to do and works quite well.
The instructions were clear and easy to follow. I ended up inserting the elastic differently because I find it easier to stitch the elastic directly to the shorts than to make a channel for it to sit in. I used my beautiful new serger for most of the seams and zig zagged the rest. One criticism of the pattern is that the PDFs were off centred when I printed them out. This made for a few mm of guess work when taping it all together.
I'm not really sure what to think of the pockets. I think they are maybe more effective when you are running and not biking. I'd be way to nervous to lose whatever was in my pocket while biking to trust them. It seems like when you are pedalling the pocket becomes horizontal and then there is no help from gravity.
I made these out of technical fabric that I got at Our Social Fabric. It is the $2 fabric that just keeps on giving. I just grabbed some colours and didn't realize until I had sewn them together that I was making Ronald MacDonald shorts. Whenever I put them on I start singing "do you believe in magic?" Which is amazingly scary branding on MacDonald's part as I only went there a handful of times as a child and over 20 years later I still associate red and yellow with a commercial.
However, despite feeling like Ronald MacDonald in an adult diaper these are a win. I'll wear them tons and will likely make another pair before our trip.
I did something this week that completely shattered my sense of self. You know when you think "I'm not the kind of person who _____." I thought that about myself and I was wrong. I recently saw an old classmate of mine and I had remembered someone had mentioned to me they thought she was pregnant. When I saw her she was still very petite but had a acquired a small belly. You can see where this train wreck is going. I asked her if she was pregnant. The answer was a really defeated "no, just gained some weight." This is why you never ask. I thought I was the person who never asks. Let this story be a lesson to you.
The thing is, I can relate to her. I've gained some weight. Luckily, no one has asked me if I'm pregnant because you don't grow babies in your ass, but still. But this is life and while it is frustrating it is even worse to not have any clothes fit and to tear through your closet every day in a fit of rage. It's punishment. It's like when you're stressed so you get a zit and then feel worse about yourself.
So, I have a plan. Eat healthy and exercise and all that crap but in the meantime, make some clothes for the summer that I can feel good in. I went to the fabric store with some ideas and came out with an arm load of fabric. The hope was to make some co-coordinating separates.
Here we go:
One of my biggest pet peeves is the feeling of the hem of your shirt slowly making it's way up to your waist to be a horrible bunching mess. The bodysuit is the perfect solution. I plan on starting with two short sleeve options to wear with skirts and shorts. I'm so glad that Heather from Closet Case Files released this pattern. It was like she heard my uncomfortable prayers.
It is no secret that I love knit dresses. The Lady Skater is my new love. I have already made a purple one that I will blog soon. Despite the kind of sloppy MS paint graphic, it's such and easy and flattering dress to wear. I plan on making a short sleeve short hemmed version for hot weather in this blue organic cotton jersey.
Of course there is a Sewaholic pattern in the list. I'm such a huge fan. The patterns are always so flattering and fit my body type so well. I love a good full skirt. I'm making this up in a light purple chambray at the moment. I'm thinking this coral linen will also make a nice short summer skirt.
I love culottes more than is reasonable. These are the Tania Culottes from Megan Nielson Patterns. I'm such a fan of wearing something that looks like a skirt but not having to worry about the logistics of one. This way I can ride a bike and roll around on the grass without being so immodest. This is a black and white graphic rayon. I feel like rayon is supposed to be bad somehow, because it's cheap but I really like it.
This linen/cotton blend is the wild card. I was smitten with the neon pink polka dots. I originally thought I would make another Hollyburn skirt out of it but now I'm wondering if I should go for a fun mini skirt.
What do you think? Also, have you ever put your foot in your mouth?
A blog to document my attempts to create a well-fitting wardrobe for myself and my family through sewing and knitting.