03 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Wow, I can't believe it's 2014 already!  It seems like just yesterday the sun was shining and the leaves were just beginning to turn!

But today, Boston looked like this...

...the snow was coming down faster than I could shovel!


Back when the leaves were still turning, I made this simple little bag to practice my leather sewing.

It's just a basic crossbody satchel with a single snap closure - small enough to pack away yet quick enough to grab and go.

And then I made this not-so-simple bag to carry my laptop and work essentials. [sneak peek alert! more to come later...]
 
I've carried this bag daily for 4 months now, so I think I can safely call it a success.  It may even be the most perfect bag I have made to date when functionality, durability and ease of use are simultaneously considered.

This year, in 2014, I promise to share more details behind my pattern drafting and design.  After all, it is what I enjoy most about sewing.

What are your plans for 2014?

14 August 2013

Work Wardrobe: Grey + Liberty

I've recently begun a new career, and with that comes a new dress code.  It was really exciting for me the past few months, as I planned out my sewing projects so that a significant portion of my career wardrobe could me self-made.

Some of the clothes you already saw during made-me-may, but many of them (the more dressy ones) have been sitting in my closet waiting for an appropriate occasion.  Now that I finally get to wear some of these clothes, I thought I might share them with you.

This was my "first day of work" outfit.  All self-drafted, all grey, relatively conservative.
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The shirt is made from a Liberty of London cotton lawn that I picked up at my now favorite fabric store in London, Shaukat fabrics (the next time I go to London, I may take an empty suitcase just to fill up at that store).  I drafted it with pleats at the shoulder in place of darts, and I made a V-neck collar.  The buttons are metal, and spaced in paired clusters.
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I am really proud of the plackets on this shirt.  I learned the placket technique from Vogue 8889, and then applied it to my shirt design.  It is a bit confusing the first time around, but by the third time I made this placket, it was a breeze.
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The skirt is made of grey cotton twill, and is fully lined in silk (plaid silk for the waistband and crimson silk for the skirt lining).
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When I was planning my work wardrobe, I was really nervous about whether the clothes I make would look professional enough.  But as I've been wearing them more and more, I am becoming more confident that my personal style is compatible with this new job.

How do you feel about wearing clothes you make at work?  Anyone else ever feel nervous at first?

31 July 2013

Dressing up some windows

A while back, I showed a sneak peak of a project I had begun.

It began with some of this fabric...
guest room fabrics

and these notions...
supplies

and turned into a set of roman shades for our guest room.
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I didn't follow any specific tutorials for these roman shades, but I made them by sewing pocket holes into the lining fabric on the back, threading wooden dowels in, and attaching the entire curtain to a wood 2x3 at the top with a staple gun.  I like how these new roman shades give privacy but still let in some natural light.

I also made some linen curtains for our living room.  These have already made it into quite a few pictures.
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I had originally been dreaming of yellow velvet curtains (similar to Ina Garten's orange ones), but as soon as I found this bolt of drapery-weight yellow linen I knew what I had to do.  These are simple unlined pocket curtains, and I love that they will be easy to clean and maintain.

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We made a curtain rod out of copper pipe which could go around our bay window seamlessly to hang all 6 panels .  I love how they frame the windows and brighten the space.  And the yellow color makes me smile daily.

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I even found a matching piece of heavier linen, which I used to make a throw for our sofa (it didn't want to be left out).

And I still have a few windows left in our place, which will be getting dressed very soon.  Anyone else sewing up window treatments?  Other home decor projects?


29 July 2013

Completed: Leather Satchel

Anyone remember this little teaser that I gave last fall?
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Well, I finally completed my leather satchel a few weeks ago, just a little bit behind schedule (procrastinate much?).
leather satchel
And although it is not perfect, it did turn out pretty well!
This bag is fully interfaced with Peltex (very stiff interfacing) to make sure it holds its shape no matter how much weight it is carrying.
leather satchel
The top handle is a piece of an old belt.  The bag closes with a turnlock clasp on the front.

leather satchel
The inside has a laptop pocket, a small zipper pocket in the back, and enough room for quite a few papers.  It also has a cell phone pocket on one side and lots of little pockets for pens, flash drives, etc. Here it is holding a binder and a textbook.

I sewed this entire bag on Veronica, my vintage Singer 201-2.  It was a challenge at times, since Veronica does not have a free-arm.  To be honest, this was a large contributor to why it took so long to finish this bag.  Some of my preferred construction techniques had to be modified to be performed on Veronica (but I needed her strength to sew through leather).

In other news, I received two whole hides of leather from the husband for our third wedding anniversary, so I definitely have more opportunities in store to continue practicing my leather sewing!

Anyone else trying any leather projects?  Is this enough inspiration to get you thinking about it?

24 July 2013

Silk Twill Suit

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Last week I ventured over to Grey's Fabric for the first time, and met the lovely Sarah who showed me where she was on her Victoria Blazer from By Hand London.  And after I saw it, I had to take the pattern home and give it a go myself.
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I had already made a skirt and a pair of pants with this silk twill fabric, and I still had a little bit left - just enough for the cropped version.  
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I've been wanting a cropped jacket for a while, and this one went together quite quickly - in 3 hours in fact (well, 3:15 if you include the time needed to handsew the lining closed)!

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I lined it in a teal quilting cotton with sewing scissors decorating it.

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The skirt is self-drafted, based on the No. 2 pencil skirt from J Crew.  I love it so much, I have already made four of them.  I make another one whenever I have some nice fabric leftover.

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The blouse is also self-drafted, based on my raglan sleeve blouse pattern that I have shown here before.  This version is made from a silk batiste.

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The jacket calls for the sleeves to be left unlined, which I did.  But instead of finishing the armhole and lining separately as suggested in the pattern, I basted the armhole and lining together and finished them as one with bias tape.  I think it looks much nicer this way.

While we are discussing the armhole, I loved that there were lots of notches on the pattern to make sure the armhole was lined up properly!  I think everyone should include more notches on their patterns!

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Here is a closeup of the lining print and the armhole.

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And here is the collar and lapel.  It is super easy to get nice sharp corners on these pieces since they were drafted along the fold.

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The sleeve cuff is finished with a french seam, the first I have seen quite like this.  It was easy and effective.  Bravo By Hand!


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Here is the blazer with a pair of matching pants - I made these as a wearable muslin of Vogue 7881 - a Claire Shaeffer pattern.

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The fit is pretty good, and the instructions are impeccable.  This was my first time easing in the front and back pieces into the waistband instead of putting in darts.  I have already adjusted the pattern for next time, to remove a bit of ease in the front crotch area and to lower the waistline an inch.  But I have a feeling that these pants will get quite a bit of wear in the meantime (though maybe not with the blazer).

All in all,  I ended up non-intentionally creating an entire suit in this fabric - and I really love all the pieces!  I might try to make a few adjustments to the Victoria blazer pattern for the future - mostly to try and get the collar to lay flat.  But I do recommend it to anyone who is intimidated to try making jackets or blazers - this one is a breeze!

Anyone else making suits, or intentionally or otherwise?  I have been making a lot of work clothes lately - "cake" I believe is the proper term...

17 July 2013

Denim + Leather = Camera Bag

I think denim and leather are a match made in heaven.  Both are sturdy, heavyweight fabrics that are often used to make long-lasting garments.  They are hard-working, non-pretentious materials, beloved by blue collar workers and the elite alike.  So why not bring them together in a bag?

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I designed this camera bag for a recent trip abroad.  I wanted something diminutive in size (so not to be targeted as a tourist), but that would provide quick access to my camera, and that could be kept securely on my person, yet completely hands free.

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The bag does just that!  It can be worn as a cross body when the strap is attached at the sides, and like a backpack when the strap is looped through the back D-rings.

It has a back zipper pocket for holding money, credit cards and other small valuables.

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On the inside, this little bag was specifically designed to fit my DSLR camera with 2 lenses and an external flash (sorry I needed the camera to take these pictures).  Here you can see the padded compartments which keep my DSLR pieces safe.  It also has an inside zipper pocket on the flap for holding extra memory cards.

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A close-up of the leather details.  I added studs to this bag for additional strength, since it is carrying such valuable hardware.

After almost a month of sustained use, I must say I am very happy with the outcome of this bag.  And even though I sized it specifically with my camera in mind, it makes quite a nice purse as well when the padded inserts are removed.  Isn't it wonderful when our creations turn out exactly as we imagine them?


13 July 2013

The Little Black Dress

They say every woman should have a little black dress in their closet.  And I finally have one in mine!

I must admit, I have been planning this dress for quite a while - first looking for the right pattern, then waiting for the perfect black silk dupioni to appear in my favorite discount fabric store, then testing the pattern my making a muslin out of some cheap dupioni, and finally overcoming my fears and cutting into my beloved black silk.

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I only have a few pictures right now (I just finished the dress) but I know I will owe some detail shots a bit later.  The dress is made from Vogue 8532, an easy Vogue pattern that is now discontinued.  As I said above, the outer is made in a black silk dupioni.  The inside is fully lined in black silk batiste.

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I do love the collar on this dress.  The dupioni was lovely to sew - it is so stable!  The only problem I faced was how much it frayed - into little black wisps that got everywhere!

I am so glad I did the fitting first - even though I made very few changes.  I originally planned to make the dress with sleeves, but the muslin showed me that the sleeves would be very stiff and restrict movement.
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But it was a very simple dress to assemble - only 5 pattern pieces!  I changed the construction order a bit to make the dress easier to sew and easier to alter later if necessary (since I plan on keeping this dress for a long time).

So, now that I have finally filled a void in my closet, is there anyone else still waiting on the perfect pattern/fabric for their LBD?
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