Category Archives: Angela Kane

Abject Failure Equals Giveaway!

It may come as a complete surprise to you, but not everything I make is awesome. I know. Jump back, Jack. That’s crazytown.  In fact, and this is a huge secret so be cool, most of what I do is completely strugglesome. Hence the blog title. And I’m about to recount an abject failure which, hopefully, can make someone else happy, because it just makes me want to sob a little in the bathroom. Like you do.

Recently I’ve been very interested in perfecting a pencil skirt pattern for my body. But rather then draft my own from the several (many) tutorials online that teach you how, I’ve been trying to take the easy (stupid) way out and find a pattern that works for my body. Yeah. It has had mixed results. I’m might just have to break the hell down and draft a pattern, which I’m avoiding, because I’m a foolish coward. (Hangs head in shame).

So I recently downloaded the Angela Kane FREE PATTERN pencil skirt. I had some blue wool left over from my Not Everyone Can Be You dress, and it was just enough to squeeze out this skirt. I started sewing it when I got back on Monday from Puerto Rico, and got all the way up to sewing up the back seam. I tried it on, which is what I usually do at that point with a skirt, and, bam, literally split the seam. I SPLIT THE SEAM. Was it my hips? My waist? My thighs? Of course not. It’s was my (admittedly not un-prominent) rear. It was the junk in my trunk, people. Just like Lady Mary killed a Turkish diplomat with her virginity, I split a seam with my posterior.

Sighing with rage and disgust (and mindless anger at all the hours I spend at the gym which have, of late, slimmed my waist and toned my thighs but done very little, it seems, for my bottom) I tossed the skirt aside. But then I remembered that I literally cannot deal with not finishing a garment, it’s a compulsion. So I finished it. And I took more care with this damn skirt that fits my waist like a dream and my butt like a nightmare then I have with many other items that actually fit me fairly well. Well, except for the seam binding on the waistband, that I will freely admit is a mess. But STILL,  this is a french seamed wonder with an invisible zipper, neatly iron darts and a hand stitched hem. And I’m giving just giving it away.

That’s right, I’m giving this stupid beautiful skirt that doesn’t fit me away. You can have it, for FREE. Wanna see it?

Nice, right? Lovely color, hits the knees, nice drape on the 100% wool, it’s a winner.

It fits a 28 waist and a 36 hips (and rear, please take note), and while it’s not perfect (what is?) I think it’s a very nice skirt. For someone else. Because even with my Zumba class and Cardio Kickboxing, this thing isn’t going to pack my back any time soon.

So if you would like to own and wear this garment, just leave me a comment letting me know about a recent sewing failure and what, if anything, you did to try and vindicate it. Leave a comment by March 29th, so in three weeks, and I will announce the winner by April 1st! Have at it, people!


Filed under Angela Kane, Clothing, Giveaway, Sewing

The I Don’t Do Casual Dress

I almost never spend New Years Eve in Philadelphia. I adore Philadelphia with all of my heart, but for whatever reason I just don’t seem to ring in the new year in my hometown. Last year I had an amazing time in New York with my friend Becca, and the year before I was in London with my friend Andrew and we did things with duck fat that can’t be even remotely considered healthy choices. But they were delicious ones….

Anyway, this year was no exception to my out-of-town rule, so when my friend Lee invited me up to Cape Cod for the holiday, how could I say no? And I’m so glad I went, because I had the most fantastic time. Highlights included but were not limited to impromptu dance parties, late night croquet, fireworks, making dinner for 17 people ( like I do), getting to spend time with Lee and my friend Lisa and a score of other old and new friends who were filled with awesomesauce, and drinking everything in the house. Everything. In. The. House. But for me, mostly wine. And then Makers Mark. In a wine glass. Because I like things fancy.

I really do like things fancy.  I would say that comes to me directly from my mother, who got it from her mother. I didn’t own a pair of jeans until I was about 15 years old. I can honestly say that I’m usually overdressed for things, or at the very least, the only person in a skirt. So when I called Lisa, who had been to Cape Cod before, and asked her about the dress code, and she was like, oh, it’s super causal, I was like, ….okay. Causal, you say? And that’s, what is that, exactly?  But I try to make an effort, and when in Rome, right?

And yet, I made a dress.

Don’t yell at me! It’s super casual! It’s made of knit! (Ooooooo!)

I bought this fabric last summer (as in, a year and a half ago) at PA Fabric Outlet. It was in the special clearance section and I got two yards at 2.98 a yard. I honestly had no plans for it for the longest time, after all, I’d never sewn with knits and I was a bit afraid of them, really. But I recently came across/fell in love with Dixie of Dixie DIY, mostly because she’s excellent and charming and wise, but also because she did a series called Never Fear Knits, teaching cowards like myself how to deal with non-woven fabric. And I actually read all her posts and made myself a shirt from Burda Style’s Lydia pattern. You will never get a post devoted to said shirt, which I’m actually wearing right now, because it’s a bit wonkey (first time, people, come on!) and I don’t want you to make fun of me. But I wear it all the time, so whatever.

And then, like manna from the heavens, Dixie released a pattern FOR FREE called The Ballet Dress Pattern. Now, this was a limited free download but it’s still for sale for a measly three bucks over here. AND she did a sewalong! Which I meant to follow but got very impatient/was on a deadline for my trip to Cape Cod so I went ahead! Oh, well.


What can you do. So I missed the instructions about the neckline binding and as such mine is a little loose and slightly gapes. But in every other respect, I really love this dress!

I used the zig-zag stitch on my machine and had no problems at all with my usual foot. Instead of stablizing the shoulder seams with clear elastic, I used seam binding, which worked just fine. I used regular elastic at the waist, and didn’t QUITE match my stripes, but I don’t honestly care. This dress is so so so comfortable, and never wrinkles, is warm and forgives me for a large meal. What more could you ask for?

No matching chevrons. Whatevs. You can’t have everything, and I in no way had enough fabric for that sort of thing.

I made a medium. When I make this again (oh, I will be making this again. Many times. Short sleeves, long sleeves, ruffles, embellishments, the works) I would take it in a bit at the waist. You can’t see, because it’s belted, but it’s just a bit loose. But it’s quick and fantastically clear and easy to make. Thank you, Dixie! You’ve made me a convert, I really like knits now!

I love the sleeves. Rather drapey and fun, no?

I did not, alas, take these photos in Cape Cod. I was too busy with the aforementioned fantastic time I was having. So I made my friend Ben shoot them after brunch at Farmacia when I got back home.

Thank you, Ben. You are the best. He even indulged my wanting to photos of odd things, like my cool belt/nailpolish:

I was like, people will want to know! Right? So the belt was my grandmothers, and the polish, which is grayer in real life, was a gift from Lisa. Thanks, Lisa!

The light was great this day, so I took some shots on my way home from brunch:

And one last one of happy knit-clad me:

And that’s about as causal as I get. At least, in public, anyway.


Filed under Angela Kane, Burda Style, Clothing, Fabric, Sewing

Not Only Is It 2012, But It’s Also Almost My One Year Blogiversery!

Hmmmm, blogiversery is a word that doesn’t get tagged as being spelled wrong. That’s…..troubling, in it’s way.

Me on the knee of a delightful gentleman. Thanks, Joseph,you are a peach!

Anyway, HAPPY 2012! For those of us who haven’t raptured (remember THAT?) I would like to welcome you to this year and express my sincere hope that that Mayan calender is incorrect, because I have a lot to get done in my life and would prefer the Universe not to end any time soon.  That being said, 2011 was a pretty positive year for me, especially crafting wise! I started a sewing blog, I learned to knit, I learned about seam finishes, I made pants, I made my first (but in no way last) clothing from vintage patterns, I inserted visible and invisible zippers, I made buttonholes, I took on a me-made-month challenge, I got a lot done!

Let’s look at it numerically, shall we? This past year I made 38 garments, give or take a few that I didn’t blog about, including:

1 pair of pants (Clovers!)

1 vest (Franzi!)

1 Jacket (Naomi!)

2 pairs of shorts (Simplicity 7688 and Simplicity 2017!)

3 pairs of pajamas (Tara Top and Colette Bloomers, Jane and Simplicity !)

3 refashions

8 skirts (2 Maries (1 and2), Simplicity 3688 ,  1 self drafted, 1 more self drafted, Helena, Vivat Veritas, and McCalls 8161!)

9 Dresses ( New Look 6732, three incarnations of Burda Style Dress with Cap Sleeves and Gathered Skirt (one I’ve never blogged about, sorry)-1 and 2McCalls 7326, Vogue 8615,  BurdaStyle 10/2010 Full Dress with Cut Out Bustline, Tara, and the Angela Kane Pinafore!)

10 Blouses ( Butterick 8097, 2 Sorbettos (1 and 2) 2 JJs (1 and 2), 3 Utes (1 and 2 and 3), Alexander, and two Butterick 7490 (1 and 2)

Of course, this is all just the stuff I made for myself. I also made my mom 2 skirts, 1 dress and two sets of pajamas, I made my father a set of pajamas, and I made my brother 3 ties.

Which brings me to my New Years Sewing resolutions of 2012:

1. Concentrate more on the fitting process, and less on the instant gratification. I’m about to undergo a pencil-skirt project that hopefully should play into this nicely, as well as becoming a devotee of Sarai’s fitting chapter in my brand new Colette Patterns Sewing Handbook (thanks, Mamala!)

2. Add more variety to my sewing. Clearly I like certain patterns (JJ? Ute? Burda Style? Yeah, I’m talking to you people), but that doesn’t make for a super diverse wardrobe. I have enough patterns in my stash at this point to start branching out.

3. Sew with new fabrics. I actually made a knit top (a bit wonky, but wearable!) and completed Dixie DIY’s ballet dress pattern (it’s available for a mere 4 dollars to download! Do it!) for the New Year’s Bash I attended (it was amazing). I haven’t gotten a chance to take photos yet but once I do you will no doubt be delighted by A. this clever pattern and B. my mastery of knits. But I need to step it up on the silk front, people.

4. Conversely, bust my stash! Seriously. SERIOUSLY. FOR REALS. I cannot will not must not should not dare not buy any more fabric for the foreseeable future. We found another haul in my grandfather’s attic, photos to come, and this is getting a bit insane. No new fabric until my birthday in July. That’s my rule. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

5. Fill some of the gaps in my wardrobe. Try a jacket, or two. Make more pants. Tunics. Something different. Mix it up. It’s 2012!

What about you guys? Sewing resolutions? LIFE resolutions? I know you’ve got em, lay em on me!

Looking back on the year, some of my favorites include:



































Filed under Angela Kane, Burda Style, Butterick Patterns, Clothing, Colette Patterns, McCalls Patterns, Refashion, Sewing, Vogue Patterns

The So Close But So Far Away Pinafore

In theory it’s springtime in Philadelphia. In practice I just endured three miserable days of pouring rain and sad lonely low temperatures while biking around, which isn’t a lovely combination. And while I desperately wait for warm weather I, foolishly enough, keep making warm weather appropriate clothing, which is as useful as a chocolate kettle (to borrow a phrase from Terry Prachett) and a real tease. Oh, well. These things happen. But the truth is that I’m just done with wool for the season, I’m over it, I can’t think about sweaters and tights and coats. I know as soon as the weather really does warm up and become humid and sticky I will be longing for cool crisp breezes and cute winter weight wear, but as it is I want gauze and bare legs and sunshine, none of which the city of Philadelphia seems to want to provide me. Struggle.

But I made the Angela Kane Pinafore ANYWAY, because the rain can’t keep my hopes from blooming anew. The Angela Kane Pinafore is a FREE PATTERN and the best part is that it comes with these really charming and helpful videos explaining each step of making the garment. I’m assuming it’s Angela herself who is explaining, in her lovely british voice, about darts and hemming and why you should personalize the back pockets (which I omitted, sorry AK!) because when else will you have a chance to practice your embroidery? I mean, no one makes samplers anymore, which is sad, because when I was a child I was addicted to these “Young American” books describing the childhoods of future leaders or inventors etc. and I adored the Young Martha Washington book and read it over and over again and SHE made a sampler and cried and had a pet bear….I think I’ve gotten away from the point here. The POINT is that Angela Kane made her pinafore in denim, but I made it in this amazing fabric that I adore and had not quite enough of to make something, or SO I THOUGHT. Because one of the many things that is great about the Angela Kane Pinafore is how fabric efficient it is. I made a cute wearable dress with POCKETS out of less than a yard and a half of fabric. You go, Angela. And here it is:

I’ll be honest with you, it was nowhere near warm enough to wear this garment without tights and a sweater, but I did it, because I am that vain. I made a medium, as the pattern only comes in three sizes, and the fit was fine, though you do have to add your own seam allowance if you are doing this project, so be warned. I just adore this fabric, I got it at my beloved PA Fabric outlet and it’s modeled after Victorian Wallpaper, which I happen to find awesome. Mr. Malevolent liked the fabric too:

PS If you haven’t been to this website about cats where they DO NOT BELONG, please go there now. It’s amazing. The photos are courtesy of the lovely Selin who put up with me and helped me pose:

I…look like Carmen Sandiago. Which is okay, because I love her. The hat was my grandmother’s and I thought it would give the shoot a little something, a panache, if you will. I don’t know if that worked….The shoes were also my grandmother’s, as were the earrings. Of course. I love love love the pockets:

And I applied bias tape to the neck and shoulders, which was my first time with bias tape! Which I now love! Angela recommends clipping and sewing the edges, which I feel like works better with denim then this lightweight cotton. Thoughts?

I also hand picked the zipper because A. I have no zipper foot and B. I actually find hand sewing rather soothing. Plus I think it looks awesome, and will forever be grateful to Sewaholic for Tasia’s tutorial.

And now a photo of me taunting my cats because I can go outside but they CAN’T.

Oh, you want a close up? But of course!

All this modeling is very hard work. I can see why those America’s Next Top Model girls cry all the time. Me, I prefer to laugh it out instead:

Oh, springtime, please come so I can put all these outfits to good use!

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Filed under Angela Kane, Clothing, Sewing