Monthly Archives: April 2012

Pajama Party, Baby!

So, Karen, who I would seriously like to be my new best friend (Seriously, Karen, please be my friend, we like the same books, we drink the same drinks, I think you’re really amazing, call me. Text me. Send up a smoke signal. I’ll be waiting. Also, sidebar, can we talk about how many people on the internet I want to be my new friends? All of you who read this, that’s just number one. It’s kind of embarrassing. It’s awkward. Don’t worry about it. Ignore all this. Moving on.) has organized a pajama making party! (Yeah. Bet you lost the thread of THAT sentence. Try to keep up, okay?) And while I did not announce it here on this blog, I did in fact sign up to participate. And I made some pajamas.

I love pajamas. But I’m single (in case you couldn’t tell by all the singleness happening up in here), and it is hard to get photos taken of ANYTHING, let alone my pajamas. So you must forgive the mirror shots. If you have any objections, feel free to send me the number of a smart handsome funny gentleman with excellent photography skills. Yeah. I’ll just wait for those to pour in. In the meantime, check out my PAJAMAS!

Yeah, I went a little overboard and made a set. The pants are Simplicity 4971:

That one chick has a BOW on top of her head. View 3. Check it out. Yeah. Drink that in.

Still, the pants are great! They are rather huge, but that’s how I likes my pajama bottoms.

And the top is a Sorbetto. What WOULD we do without that pattern? I made an inverted pleat this time. Mixing it up.

The material is a sheet I got for 2 dollars from Circle Thrift. I still have another full flat sheet. Score. I’m thinking a dress. Thoughts?

I added a bow on the front, which I think is useful because it’s the ONLY way I can tell front from back on these things. I made a pair for my mother as well, same pattern, different fabric, bow included.

Oh! And I used a decorative stitch on the hem! I’ve got all these fancy stitches on my machine and I NEVER use them, but I realized that pajama pants are the perfect opportunity to use decorative stitches! How fun is that?

Yeah. He’s great, this guy, but his photos are just the worst. It’s the lack of artistic vision. Or opposible thumbs. Who can say, really.

Cadfael says “My pajamas are just like my regular clothing are just like my naked self”. That’s just one of the many reasons this guy is an adorable fluffy jerk.

 

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Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Don’t Trifle With Me Truffle

You know when I told you that I’ve been on a “not wild about what I’m making” kick of late? Well, this dress is a big part of that.

In many ways, I’m a fairly dutiful sewer. I follow instructions, I make muslins, I iron seams four times, I’m good that way. Of course, on the flip side I dry clean NOTHING and I rarely ever re-do anything because I hate re-doing things and I can usually live with the error. But as I’ve been trying to be more careful with my sewing this year, this dress, well, let’s just say I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

I spent TIME on this thing, people. I made french seams, I hand stitched the bodice lining to the waistband seam, I hand-picked a lapped zipper, I  tied off all 20 darts, I was CAREFUL. I made it out of vintage rayon from my grandfather’s attic and a real metal zipper, also vintage, found (with several fellows) in its original packaging. This dress was supposed to be special. It was supposed to be the ONE. We were going to go out to dinner and then go on vacation and the dress would be like, “I’ve never felt this way before” and I would be like “Me neither” and the music would swell and we would fall into each others arms and NEVER LET GO. Yeah. Well, THAT didn’t happen.

Look, it’s not terrible, but it’s just not great. And why isn’t it great? Because of the damn bodice.

So I made a full bust adjustment, as discussed, and went on my merry way, only to come out with a bodice that is both drapey and too large. Part of this might be the super drapey rayon, but even after taking it in a full 2 inches on the side seams, I still have a whole lot of drape going on. It’s not horrible, honestly, but it’s not what I wanted. I feel like Veruca Salt.

Still, I wore it to the final opening night of our season, (and my last opening night with the company!) and I did get some complements, thank you, nice people.

I really love the skirt section, I do. It’s just a shame about the bodice. I don’t know, it’s somehow rather dowdy, which is odd.

A little backview, so you can catch a peak at the lapped zipper.

You can REALLY see how drapey and loose the bodice is here.

Still, it’s a pretty good jumping dress.

See? Good drape for jumping. Not good drape for standing still. The solution? ABJ. Always be jumping.

Ha, just kidding, I hate GlennGarry Glenn Ross. Shut up, David Mamet. Just shut up.

So that’s a sewing kerfluffle from me. It’s not terrible, perfectly wearable, just rather disappointing. I had wanted to wear this to an upcoming wedding but THAT’S not happening, so I will just have to go ahead and make something else.

What about you guys? Any recent frustrations or triumphs?

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Vintage

The Muslin Diaries: Volume 4, The Taffy Blouse (or Pantone Shmantone)

I know you haven’t seen my final Pastille or Truffle dresses, but rest assured, they exist, and I do like the way they turned out, one far more than the other, but you will see all that in the future. I’m wearing the Pastille to my cousin’s wedding in May, so you will see that one bathed in the light of the Caribbean, and the Truffle is coming out for our premiere (my last one with the company!) in a scant week. So just sit tight, guys, it’s happening, in completely the reverse order, but hey, life is funny sometimes.

So this month over here at Sew Colette is the Taffy blouse. I have some thoughts and feelings about the Taffy blouse. And they are not glowing, though it pains me to say it. Let’s focus on the good first, shall we? This really is a great blouse to use to learn about seam finishing, specifically french seams. It’s a great project for a beginner, especially as an introduction to light floaty slippery fabrics. I would still consider myself a beginner (or maybe somewhere between beginner and intermediate?), after all, I’ve only been sewing for two years, and while I sew all the time, there is still a lot I’ve never done. And it’s nice to make something cut on the bias, I mean, it’s a bitch in terms of fabric efficiency (you never see bias cut stuff in 1940’s fashion, it’s the cut of excess, not rationing), but it’s a fun thing to do and a good skill to have, reading the grainline of a fabric. So all that’s to the good.

The bad? Well, I honestly just don’t think it’s that great of a shape for my body. I mean, it’s OKAY, it’s just nothing special. Enough chit-chat, let’s look to the evidence:

I think the look on my face says it all.It’s not bad, really, I’m not going to throw it away or start crying, but I just don’t think it’s GREAT. It’s funny, the recommended fabrics are light and floaty, but my favorite version is actually verypurpleperson’s gorgeous charmuse confection, a slightly thicker fabric seems to weigh down the silly sleeves (they ARE rather silly) and make them seem elegant, rather than fluffy.

A little back view for you.

So. Fluffy. Spoiler alert, I did not actually make the bias tape you are supposed to use to finish the neckline and the sleeves. By the time I got there, I just thought, screw it, I’m not in love with this, and I just edgestitched the sleeve hem and neckline and called it a design choice. WHO IS GOING TO CHALLENGE ME?

I laugh with glee over my evil anti-bias tape plans. How I laugh.

Yeah. So, I don’t think I will be making this thing again in a for-real for-real fabric. I just don’t think it’s flattering enough on me to necessitate a second version. It’s comfortable and I’m sure I will wear this, especially in Puerto Rico, but it’s just not my favorite thing ever. I’m sorry, guys, but I feel like I gave it a college try and feel comfortable saying I’ve done my Sew Colette duty for the month. Right?

Oh, and orange is not really my color. THANKS, Pantone colors, for being a JERK.

I always feel grumpy when I make something I don’t feel like is a real winner. Do you get that way? Oh, well, onwards and upwards.

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing

A Nautical Bias Outfit

First off, I want to talk about prejudice. Specifically my own prejudice against people who don’t like the things I like. I can honestly admit that I have actually (much to the disbelief of many) gotten more tolerant over the years. As my mother says, “You’re tough”, and that’s true, I am. I used to believe I ought to have free range to slap people who say further when they mean farther. I know now, having read Locke and Rousseau, having studied and understood the concept of a social contract, that while I might still think I should be ALLOWED to slap such folks, voicing it in public is a questionable idea. But I don’t think I will ever get over yelling at people who don’t like Parks and Recreation.

Parks and Recreation is amazing. I love it. My MOM loves it. It’s simply hilarious, and I think if you haven’t seen it you should stop what you are doing and go watch it. And if you DO watch it, I present you with this:

Click here, experience infinite drunk Ron Swanson.

You’re welcome. Feel free to enjoy that for a while. I’ll wait. No rush.

I know. It’s amazing. Shhhhh, let it wash over you, it’s fine.

That’s from one of my favorite episodes, and Drunk Leslie says to Drunk Ann “Sometimes if I don’t push you, you’ll end up standing still”. Which is why I even bring this wonderful show up. Because sometimes if I don’t push myself to make new patterns, I’ll end up making the same one over and over again. And that’s a problem. Because I have a lot of patterns. So when I decided to make Simplicity 5196, it was a controversial move for me, a new pattern, from one of my LEAST favorite decades? And yet, and YET, I think I love it! (But what am I so afraid of? I’m afraid of what I’m not sure of. A love there is no cure fooooooor…..)

See? Look how happy I am in my swishy bias cut skirt from the 70’s! Yay! Thank you, the Leslie Knope that lives inside of me. You’ve steered me well. Can I get some snake juice now?

So this is piece one and two of my Spring Palette Challenge! Woooo! I know, I know, I have 5 things I made that need to be photographed and instead of dealing with any of that business I made a new outfit and I’m writing about that. WHATEVER. The skirt, as you know, it’s Simplicity 5196:

Very very easy, and quite efficient, fabric-wise, it took a bit over a yard of 60 inch wide fabric. And I really like it!

I had imaged something fuller, in fact, I wanted to make Simplicity 3688, which I’ve made before, but I told myself no, push through the fear, try something new. It’s actually fairly full at the hem, but because it was cut on the bias it skims over my hips (thank you!) and looks sleeker then it is. Which I like! Yeah, it’s more Downton Abby then Foyle’s War but hey, that’s okay.

I cut out the two skirt pieces and the waistband, and let them hang over a few days, allowing the bias to stretch. Then I sewed it up and hemmed it by hand (four inch hem, what’s UP 70’s patterns? You were made for tall girls, I guess) late last night. Why so late? Well, I live next to a Russian Orthodox church and today is Russian Orthodox Easter (Happy Russian Orthodox Easter!) and I could hear every single minute of the midnight mass. EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE. And the bells. The flipping bells. All night. And people say the shofar is loud.

Now to the blouse! The blouse is Colette Patterns Jasmine, a bias cut blouse for a bias cut skirt!

I  cut a size 10 (by the way, sizing is just crazy talk. I have worn, comfortably, three different sizes in Colette Patterns. You just don’t know until you try), and I did a full bust adjustment. I had heard horror stories about the armsythe and the back, so I went for a larger size and I must say, it’s rather blousy but very comfortable, and I like the look.

How much do I like the ties? THAT much. Crazy-person grin much. I took the hem out so you could see the length, if you care about such things.

One cuff came out quite nicely. The other did not. So you can’t see it.

All together, I think I look like an Edwardian lady sailor.

And how do I feel about that, you ask?

(This is the preparation)

And also:

Yeah. I like this outfit. It might be a bit whimsical, but then, so am I. And we must credit my lovely photographer, Emily:

Thanks, Emily! You are the best!

Oh! And I should mention that I randomly generated a number and the winner of my giveaway is Gail of Today’s Agenda! She’s a lovely lady and I’m totally thrilled to discover that she’s got LOADS of tips about the Miette Sweater, which I’m totally making right now! Thanks, Gail, and let me know where I can send your packet of vintage goodness!

Oh, and if you are into Parks and Recreation, go ahead and google “Cats that look like Ron Swanson” and/or Tom Haverfoods. Have yourself a great time.

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Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

Spring/Summer 2012 Palette Challenge (And I’ll throw a Me-Made-May in for free!)

Ah, Spring, you are (sort of) here. Well, I’m wearing a sweater right now, and it wont get higher than 57 today, but hey, in THEORY Spring has sprung and it’s time for some planning! And you know how I love to plan…

But first, I should tell you that I’m participating in Zoe’s 2012 Me Made May Challenge! I had a lovely time doing it last year, and Zoe has encouraged repeat offenders to up their game, as it were, so here is my pledge:

I, Leah of strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’12. I endeavour to wear at least one if not two self stitched items and one vintage item(including accessories) each day for the duration of May 2012.

Boom. How is that for a challenge?

And additionally, I’m going to be participating in Colette Patterns’ lovely Spring/Summer 2012 Challenge! I love that Sarai has opened it up to both seasons, because now I can merge the seasons and think further ahead into making pieces that transition well! Yay! I’m so down for this.

So here is my palette, as generated by Color Lovers:

So as you can see, we are going Nautical this year.

Can we talk about the fact that every damn year magazines do the same damn thing? Wool and plaid for Fall! Stripes are back for Spring! What the HELL? When did stripes ever leave? At what point were we going to oust sweaters in the Fall? “Bright colors for Spring”. Florals are BACK! REALLY? HOW UNUSUAL. In no way does that corresponding with nature and precedent. It just makes SENSE to wear brights and floral things in the spring and summer and darker tones in the winter. THAT’S OKAY. We don’t have to pretend is a damn revelation every damn season! AM I RIGHT?

Okay, moment of rage over. Back to the planning session.

I’m planning on shopping my stash for this challenge, because god knows I have more than enough fabric to do so.  The one exception might be a dress for Jenny’s wedding. I mean, I MADE one already, but I’m kind of on the fence about it, so…..

Anyway, here is what I’ve got in mind so far. One pair of shorts, four blouses, two dresses and one skirt. I’m really more in the Spring place then the Summer place with this challenge (at least, in this color palette) but hey, that’s okay, right? I do have some summery projects planned, but color-wise they are sort of more wild-cardy so I will save those for June. Let’s look at the combinations, shall we?

1. A Blouse

I’ve been wanting to  make a Jasmine top ever since the pattern came out last Fall. In fact, it was even included in my Fall Palette Challenge goals, but it never came to pass (hangs head in shame). I love the idea of making a Sailor Style one, and of course Mena and MTL had to go and steal my idea…seriously, though I love this combination. I’ve actually already cut this out of navy and white cotton shirting, and I’m just hanging the bias portions and getting ready to sew this thing into existence.

2. A Shirtdress

I already own this pattern, it’s Butterick 2626. I’ve wanted a 1960’s style shirtdress for a while, so let’s see how it goes with this fabric:

which I also already own.

3. Another blouse.

Simplicity 4608, version A (short sleeves) sans pocket. Using this vintage blue and white shirting:

I used that for my truffle muslin (PS I need to have WORDS about the Truffle, more on that later) and for the lining for my jacket. This shirting has really gone a long way.

4. A Skirt:

This is an ebay pattern score (from a lot of 40, guys, I really can’t buy any more patterns…), Simplicity 5196:

Horrible cover outfits aside, it’s actually a simple and sweet bias-cut skirt that I’m doing up in a grey linen/cotton blend. No photo of that, sorry!

5. Another blouse (or two, or three…):I want to make a New Look 6808 (or two). Am I alone in thinking that everyone and their mother has made this blouse? And tips?

With these fabrics:

and

And I want to  make this DARLING vintage McCalls 3305:

In this:

6. A pair of shorts, Simplicity 2017. I’ve made these before, and I love them.

This time it’s navy linen all the way:

(All of the swatches from from my sewing book, which I made after being inspired by Sarai of Colette Patterns and it’s proved to be a really helpful tool, especially when thread or zipper shopping.)

7. And finally, another dress, AKA Colette Patterns Lily AKA my new best friend. (I totally bought this as soon as it released even though I don’t need any more patterns and don’t really need to spend money. I am weak in the face of adorable patterns. WEAK.)

I’m not sure what fabric I will use to make this one. How about a bright red linen with white linen accents? Or is that too va-va-voom? I’m just throwing it out there. If you want it, take it. If not, send it on back. (Guess the movie quote!)

So those are my plans for Spring. I actually enjoy these planning posts, both reading other people’s and making my own, but if you don’t, well, feel free to ignore all these ramblings. However, if you DO, what are you working on? Any spring challenges or ideas? What do you want to make as the weather gets warmer?

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Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Inspiration, Planning

The Best Award Ever (And it’s all mine!)

I was recently awarded what is, in my humble opinion, the best award ever. EVER. EEEEEVVVVEEEER. (Insert Sandlot flashback here). You all read Cation Designs, right? Yes, of  course you do, because Cindy Chan is an inspiration to us all. She got me reading the Hunger Games (um, sometime, in the future, after I finish every other book littering my tiny apartment. I swear it’s like 10% me, 35% sewing stuff, 5% Cadfael, 50% books.) She makes corsets. She makes dress after perfect fantastic dress. She embroiders Miyazaki characters and maps of Middle Earth. She’s posting a poem a day for National Poetry month AS WE SPEAK. She is a sewing rockstar, and everyone should be aware of that, and act accordingly.

Oh, and she has a cat named Walnut. Walnut is a majestic beast, long-haired, noble-eyed, bursting with grandeur and fur. And because Walnut, with his curiosity and claws, is all up in her sewing business, she has created an award, The Sewing With Cats Award:

It’s a tribute to all of us whose lives are made both better and worse by our feline companions, specifically when it comes to sewing. And I must say, Brother Cadfael has his good days and his bad days. Sometimes that pile of fluffy tissue (i.e. a pattern) holds his fascination and sometimes he couldn’t care less. Sometimes that neatly laid out fabric is OBVIOUSLY a cat bed and sometimes he disdains it, preferring my actual bed. He’s a wild card, that guy. For example, he recently became interested in my sewing machine:

And sometimes he wants to lie down on patterns:

Of course, he’s always happy to help with pattern drafting:

He’s an expert on the full bust adjustment. But mostly he just likes fabric:

Just try to be mad at me when I look this adorable. Just try.

Of course, special mention must be made of some other guys, specifically Falco and Morse, who absolutely had to join in the Passover Seder:

Hey! Is that Elijah?

Where is my wine?

Life with cats. It’s like living with tiny fluffy dictators.

Oh, PS: Just so you know, sewing is happening. I’ve made 5 garments in the last few weeks but of course the devil is in the photos! And the weather. I really gotta stop making sundresses in 50 degree weather. But I’ve completed my Truffle and Pastille Dresses, another renfrew, a t-shirt and a skirt. It’s all coming, people, I promise!

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Cha-cha-cha-changes and a giveaway!

I have big news, people, big news! Brother Cadfael had been accepted to the NYU-Tisch MFA for Dramatic Writing program! Of course, as his human servant, I will be required to attend all the classes and write all the plays and screenplays and generally just be enrolled in the program while he dozes and licks himself. But it’s really his wonderful accomplishment, and he is to be congratulated!

Waiting for Godot is so mainstream, says Cadfael. Endgame is Beckett's real masterwork.

I’m just messing with you. Cadfael didn’t get into Tisch, he didn’t even apply, he thinks graduate students are the worst. I, however, did apply to and was accepted by this amazing school, and I will be attending NYU-Tisch in the fall. Yeah. That’s right. So I’m moving to New York. And yes, I’m taking Cadfael with me, he can lick himself just as easily in Brooklyn or Queens as he can in Philadelphia. We are very excited about this. Well, I’m very excited about this. Cadfael doesn’t understand the concept of plays, or writing, or moving, or New York. Or excitement, really….

At any rate, for now, I’m still here at home in my beloved Philadelphia, starting to make my plans and let the people around me know what’s happening, but I thought that I would share this piece of good news with the world of sewing bloggers, like you do. And to tie this all together, because purely personal posts are not my bag, I’m offering a giveaway! Of 13 vintage patterns! From me to you! Yeah. That’s right. Now you’re listening…..

Let’s take a look at the goods, shall we?

You know, your classic cape/skirt combo. Don’t worry, the embroidery transfer comes with it. Thank goodness.

This I could actually see as looking super modern in the right fabric.

A wrap skirt!

You could, of course, make this in black and white herringbone wool. As suggested.

I guess you could make NON-matching separates, but that just seems like crazy talk.

Pleated skirts are big for spring, apparently.

That cover art model has clearly been infiltrated by aliens. Not to worry, it’s still a cute pattern, right?

I would not recommend the jacket, but the dress is cute!

Vest, check. Miserable looking dog? Check. Cute skirt pattern? Check!

I really want their shoes…

Diversity in cover art models. Thank you, 1970’s!

Julia’s Mad Men Copy Cat Challenge is over, of course, but you can still dress like Megan. Don Draper on your arm optional, but recommended.

And for the final pattern, I must say, I know it’s not a winner, but I’m Jewish, you see, and I just don’t see a need for this in my life:

Yeah. Drink that in.

And you can have all of these pattern (ALL OF THESE PATTERNS!) for the low low cost of free! Just comment before the 15th of April, and tell me which you like best, or what you would do with them, or really if anything exciting has happened in your life recently! All sharing is welcome.

Oh, and I realize that there are 13 patterns I’m giving away to one lucky person, so I’m willing to throw in a 14th to avoid bad luck. Because I’m just that nice.

Happy Passover! Happy Easter! Happy Springtime! Whatever you’re into, have a happy one.

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Filed under Butterick Patterns, Giveaway, McCalls Patterns, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage