how to: hem a circle skirt

Hey, y’all! First things first, you’ll have to pardon my radio silence this week. Ty and I went to Oklahoma last weekend, so my usual weekend catch-up/photography/blog writing days were spent on the road. I’ve got a quick post for you today, and then lots and lots of fun things coming up next week and into October. I’ve finished a number of fall projects, so I’m really excited to show you what I’ve been working on.

Last week, I showed you how to level a hem on a circle skirt (or a skirt in a delicate fabric). To kind of bring everything full circle (ha!), I thought it would be a good idea to show you how to hem this type of skirt. Every once in a while I’ll get asked about this, and it’s one of the easiest things to do. For this project you’ll need your skirt that has been leveled, an iron, a hem gauge, and thread.

If you’re sewing a full or circle skirt, there’s no need for a deep hem. I happen to love the look of a deep hem on a lot of things, but it’s unnecessary on a circle skirt. If you want to spend the extra time and effort on a hem facing, go for it. It would be fantastic if you’re working on an evening gown or a couture piece, but for our purposes, you don’t need more than 3/4″ for the hem. Remember that the sweep of a full skirt can be quite significant, so you don’t want to make things more difficult for yourself if you don’t have to.

This hem is completed in three easy steps: turn up 3/8″, turn up 3/8″ again, and stitch. Some people turn up 1/4″ or an 1/8″ and then 3/8″ or more. None of these methods are wrong, I just happen to like mine better. Plus, I’ve been doing it for so long and hemmed hundreds of these types of skirts, so I could probably do it with my eyes closed at this point. Maybe that’s a stretch, but I digress.

Step 1: With the wrong side of your garment facing up on your ironing board, turn up and press 3/8″, all the way around.

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Step 2: Press up again 3/8″, all the way around. Pin in place if you need to, but with solid pressing, you shouldn’t need to do this, especially if you’re going right to your machine after you’ve pressed the hem.

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Step 3: Sew.

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Finished!

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From start to finish–leveling the hem and actually hemming the garment–this takes me less than an hour. The end result is a clean, professional hem.

I’ll be back next week with new posts. Until then, let me know if you have any questions, and have a great weekend! Adios!

how to: level a hem

Isn’t it funny how quickly people can dismiss sewing as “easy” or “old fashioned”? I used to get really, really bothered when someone would say they didn’t know sewing was “a thing” anymore or assume that because I knew how to sew that I also spent my spare time in a dark basement somewhere churning butter or washing clothes on a washboard. Because that goes together? At any rate, I don’t care anymore. Sewing is a serious skill, and there’s a lot more that goes into it than people realize.

Back in the day, before all the sewing hours and experience had really added up, I was a little intimidated by hemming things. How do I do it? Is it done by hand? How much does one hem something, anyway? Turns out, just like everything else, there’s tons of different ways to do things and different projects call for different hems.

Have you ever noticed a dress or a skirt in a store with a funny looking hem? Uneven or longer in some spots? I have, and I even bought one once because it was linen and floral and pretty and I had to have it. I also knew it was an easy fix.

Sometimes, full skirts and certain fabrics (chiffon, charmeuse, linen, rayon, and others) will “fall” on the bias and require a leveling off before you can hem it. You can make changes to your pattern to account for this, but I think it’s better to cut it as you normally would and just level it off after you’ve sewn it. No need for the headache of figuring out the pattern for that. (I try to avoid headaches whenever possible.)

If you’re working with one of those tricky fabrics that may need to be leveled, or if you have a full skirt, this post is for you. Don’t be intimidated–it’s really easy! There’s a little tool that basically does all the work for you.

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My hem marker is vintage, and quite short (so I park it on an upside down trash can to raise it up). JoAnn and others sells a modern version of this tool, but instead of using pins like mine it uses chalk to mark where the hem should be cut. Still does the same job. In addition to a hem marker you will need the following for this project: pins, measuring tape, and fabric scissors.

The dress I’m hemming in this post is one that I almost didn’t want to finish once Labor Day rolled around and I started having all the feels for fall, but it was already cut out and I have all the stars in my eyes for that gorgeous print. Plus, it’s Texas so it’s not like the fall weather has made it’s way down here just yet, so I can squeeze in a few more days of summery clothes.

I cut this dress to finish to midi length, but after trying it on I decided that I wanted it a little shorter, knee length. Because the dress sits at my natural waist, I could just measure from there to my desired length and mark it with a pin. Also, this is a full circle, which makes it even easier to mark and hem by myself, which is to say that if something is off by hair it won’t be noticeable. Oftentimes, this little project is a two person job, with a model wearing the garment while a tailor carefully marks the hem.

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Notice that I’ve pinned at 25.75″, which will give me a 25″ length after it’s been hemmed. Now, I use my hem marker and adjust it to the spot of my pin, and then I pin all the way around the skirt in the same spot.

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Following your pins or chalk marks, carefully trim the excess.

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Ta-da! Leveled and ready to be hemmed. In case you’re wondering, this pattern is Vogue 9197 with a self drafted circle skirt. I’ll be dedicating a post to the dress next week, so stay tuned for the finished project. Let me know if you have any questions, and have a great weekend!

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how to: draft a circle skirt pattern

One of the most popular pieces I sold when I was in business was a tulle skirt I’d named “Emma,” and it also happened to be a personal favorite of mine. I first designed it for myself, never thinking I would add it to my collection. I was looking for a tulle skirt, but I wanted something good quality and very, very big and fluffy. You can find tulle skirts that are okay quality but the fluffy and pretty part is lacking. I get it: every layer, every stitch costs money. I know how that goes. The good thing is that tulle is pretty inexpensive, and a little effort keeps the construction quality on the up and up. And, making one yourself really puts you in control. You can make it as full or as delicate as you like.

But before we can talk about how to make this skirt and where to get all the materials, we have to talk about drafting the pattern. Once you know how to draft a circle skirt pattern, you can use it for any number of other styles too, which is great. Quick note: this pattern is for woven fabrics only, and we’ll be adding a zipper.

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For this project you will need the following supplies: paper scissors, pattern paper, ruler, yard stick, flexible curve, pencil, and tape. For more information on these things, read this post.

There are four types of circle skirts: full, three-quarter, half, and quarter. A quarter circle is just barely flared, a half circle is the perfect amount of flare for a ton of projects (I use this as a ‘foundation” for a lot of different designs, but more on that later), and I’ve never once used a three-quarter skirt. Ever. So, let’s not worry ourselves with that one! Today, we’re focusing on the full circle. In order to draft the pattern, we have to know the measurement of the seam it’s being sewn to, and in this case that’s the waist. To figure out your waist measurement, use a measuring tape and measure around your natural waist. We all like breathing and eating while wearing clothes, yes? So, to your waist measurement you’ll want to add 1″ or 1.5″–your call. I usually go with 1.5″. This additional amount is called ease, and it is absolutely essential to making sure your clothes are wearable.

For this tutorial, I’m using a 30.5″ waist measurement, with 1.5″ of ease added, for a total waist measurement of 32″.

Waist measurement + ease = total waist measurement

Think of your circle skirt as a pie. For pattern making purposes we want to divide our pie into 4 sections. So, divide your total waist measurement by 4. For me, 32 divided 4 is 8. We want to draw one quarter of a solid circle in a 90 degree angle, and the measurement of that curve is going to be 8″. So this is a quarter of our skirt or “pie”, and we’re going to cut this piece of the pie on the fold, to make half of our pie.

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I used my flexible ruler to draw a curved line that is measures 8″. Because we aren’t using a radius chart in this tutorial (which keeps things exact), we want to make sure our curve is as proportional and well rounded as possible. Mark where the 0″ and the 8″ land on your 90 degree angle and measure from those spots to the corner of your 90 degree angle, where your lines meet. Adjust your flexible ruler as necessary to make this distance as equal as possible.

For reference, the first time I did this, I measured 4.5″ on the left side, and over 5″ on the right, so I adjusted my ruler and evened it out to 5″ on each side.

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 To achieve a circle that’s not wobbly or uneven, you can use a mixing bowl or anything that is nicely rounded. Long ago, before my college days, I used many a mixing bowl to draft a circle skirt, and it worked like a charm. Trace around your flexible ruler or mixing bow to draw the curve.

Side note: this is not how we drafted these patterns when I was in business. That process involved a complex chart and radius measurements. It can be overly confusing if you’ve never done this before. This “mixing bowl” method is way more professional and legit, right? Right.

So, after you’ve drawn your circle in the 90 degree angle, you want to double check that your measurements are correct, add seam allowance to the waist and side seam, and draw the hem. Simply add 1/2″ to the waist curve we just drew as well as next to the side seam. One side of the pattern is your center front which will be placed on the fold, and the other side is your side seam, hence the need for seam allowance there.

Seam allowance added to the waist seam:

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Seam allowance added to the side seam:

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Now we determine the length of the skirt. To mark the length, put the yard stick on the waistline, not the seam allowance. Remember to account for a hem if needed. Pro tip: there is no need for a deep hem in a circle skirt. 3/4″ is gracious plenty for a hem. Tulle isn’t hemmed though, so this only applies to our lining or if you cut this pattern out in a different fabric.

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Mark the hem all the way around, and cut out the pattern. Label center front and any other important details, like waist size and how many of the piece to cut.

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So, we need a back pattern. The best part? All you do is trace the front pattern piece. If you don’t mind a side zipper, you don’t even have to copy the pattern because the front pattern piece also becomes the back piece and the zipper goes in the side seam. Both front and back will be cut on the fold. This can use extra fabric and you already need about 4 yards, so I personally prefer a center back seam. Trace the front pattern piece and transfer the “center front” label to the back, except label it “center back.” Then, tape on some paper and add 1/2″ for seam allowance at the center back.

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Ta-da! We now have a full circle skirt pattern, both front and back. To draft a waistband, draw a line the length of the total waist measurement (or half and cut it on the fold), plus an inch for seam allowance (half inch if you’re cutting on the fold). I like 1.5″ waistbands, so mine is 2.5″ wide when seam allowance is included.

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Circle skirts are one of the easiest (and prettiest!) designs ever, and they never go out of style. Later this month we’ll put this pattern to use and make our tulle skirt. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

Happy Wednesday!

pattern hack: the warehouse dress

Earlier this year Ty and I had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam for a week. We went in March, so it wasn’t quite winter weather, nor was it warm enough that you could go without a coat. For the tourist-walking-around-all-day-taking-tons-of-pictures days, I went with skinny jeans, boots, sweaters, and my trench coat. Easy, comfortable, and I could get away with wearing everything two or three times. (I went to London for three days after, so I really had to make what I’d packed stretch to last.) We had a couple of dinner reservations at nice places, so I knew I also wanted something in my suitcase for those occasions. Enter, the search for the denim dress(es). Now, I’m not talking about a super fitted, uncomfortable dress here. I’m talking about something with a little give in it that would go effortlessly with my tights and boots, and that would also stand up to being worn a few times without missing a beat. (A cute little jersey dress would have been great too, for those of you thinking of that, but remember how chilly it was. Denim was better this time.) Finding something that wasn’t a mini dress or something that didn’t look frumpy was a challenge, but I found a couple great pieces. In the process, I  also discovered a great brand. There’s a company out of the UK called Warehouse and they have the best stuff, you guys. It’s a little more on the modest side (which I love, of course), but overall it’s very pretty and sophisticated. The quality is great too. I believe they recently hired a new creative director, so I hope the aesthetic doesn’t change too dramatically. Anyway, back to the dresses. Here’s what I ordered and wore (and have worn tons of times since the trip):

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Of course, now I’m completely obsessed with the brand and their dresses. I kept my eye on ASOS for new arrivals or sales over the summer, and I discovered another dress I had to have. Almost immediately, it sold out in my size. It was a linen/cotton blend, but I happened to have a cut of a gorgeous linen chambray that would be a nice alternative. So, I decided to make it myself. I studied the design carefully, noting the length, the flared sleeve, the seam above the bust, the patch pockets, and the belt casing.

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Earlier this year, I made a dress using Simplicity 8014, and I loved it. It was denim, coincidentally, and I liked how it fit. It wasn’t too tight, but it also doesn’t look like a tent either. I knew I could use that pattern as my base, and make changes to match the Warehouse dress. I went with view C, eliminating the bodice pockets, sleeve tab, and collar stand.

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Based on the length of the Warehouse dress and where it hits the model on the leg, I figured it would be about 27″ from the waist. This is the perfect midi length for me, so I measured from the waistline on the pattern and added length to the hem. Then I drafted a hem facing, basically because I love hem facings. They are so easy and they look clean and professional.

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The shoulder seam on the Warehouse dress sits at the shoulder, not forward on the front bodice like the yoke on the Simplicity pattern (which is more common for shirtdresses). I moved that seam back to the shoulder and split the pattern above the bust to create the seam as seen on the Warehouse dress. I liked this detail. It’s small, but interesting.

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Notice in the picture above that I also determined the pocket placement using a pocket piece from a Butterick pattern. It’s one of those pieces I keep out and use on other projects. The pocket on the Warehouse dress extends all the way into the side seam, but I didn’t want the bulk of that, so mine is a single pocket sewn on the dress. The corners of the pocket are angled, so I copied that as well.

One detail I did not copy was the hidden button placket. I don’t always like those. They can look a little messy, so I just went with a regular placket. I added a neck facing, checked the length of the sleeve, and drafted a pattern piece for the belt casing.

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And here’s the result. Besides my dress being a little darker than the Warehouse dress, it’s almost a seam for seam copy. I am over the moon for it!

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You’ll have to excuse my photos here, guys. It’s been about a year and half since I set everything up to take pictures, and most of my effort was ruined due to poor lighting. I’m a little rusty. I’ll get back on track soon, I promise!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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While not totally necessary, I did line my back yoke. Because of the facing, you could go without it and just serge the back yoke seam, but I like a little personality on the inside of my garment.

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The fabric I bought is sold out now, but it was $9.95/yard. I bought 3 yards, plus buttons and thread. I spent about $45 on supplies, but the real cost was the time it took to adjust the pattern. Sewing was easy. I still love the color of the Warehouse dress, so I will do this project again in a lighter color. I love the design so much that I’d love it in a print too.

So, a long story and tons of pictures later and there you have it! A successful pattern hack. Later this week look for a tutorial on drafting half and full circle skirts. You’ll need this information for upcoming projects like the tulle skirt and striped skirt. Did I just sound like a teacher? “Be sure and take notes, pupils!” 🙂

Have a great Monday, and I’ll see y’all later this week!

all about labels

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One of my favorite parts of starting my business a few years ago was the planning stage. Truth be told, I’d been thinking and dreaming and planning for a long time, probably since my college days. After the paperwork is filed, domain name acquired, and business plan combed over for the zillionth time, there’s time for a little fun. Arranging the studio, ordering fabrics, sewing samples, customizing a website–all my idea of a good time. I get asked quite often about where/how I had labels done, so I thought I might suggest a couple things. Whether you have aspirations to launch your own line one day or if you just love designing and sewing for yourself or your favorite people, I hope this is helpful. I’m definitely in the “sewing for myself” camp these days, and I’m very happy about it!

There are plenty of options when it comes to having labels made.  A lot of places were eliminated right off the bat because they were done overseas or had huge minimums. I knew labels–of all things, sheesh–could be made somewhere in America, with minimums that didn’t make my eyes pop out, and at a reasonable cost. Enter, New York Custom Labels. This place offers a ton of design options, as well as woven or printed labels (mine are woven cotton), and a number of different styles (Manhattan fold, custom cut, center fold), and low minimums. I ordered a few thousand and it didn’t break the bank.

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So, now let’s talk about the care labels. These can also be ordered the same way the garment labels were, but I knew there would be too many style numbers and sizes available for that to be realistic. I would have loved woven care labels or even just a woven label with just the size on it, but it simply wasn’t in the cards. Remember when you order these things that every line of text adds more to your overall cost, as do multiple colors or bigger sized labels. For the first couple of years I was in business, I offered my line in three size ranges: missy, petite, and plus. That is a ton of sizes. (Eventually, we eliminated petite sizes, and later plus. It was overwhelming when it came to pattern grading, and petite sizes were almost never ordered.) Needless to say, the best thing for us to do was to print them ourselves. Once designs were finalized and fabric chosen, someone (usually me) would create the new labels with the design name, size, fiber content, country of manufacture (always the USA, baby!), RN number, and care instructions. It took some time to type everything out correctly, print them, and then cut each individual label and attach it to the garment label. Sometimes, the garment label was sewn onto the bodice lining, and the care label was sew into the side seam of the skirt lining, a common place to put it.

JoAnn (and other places) sells printable fabric paper. This is your golden ticket to label-land. Even if you’re sewing at home for yourself it’s a good idea to have a care label in your garment in the event that your take things to the cleaners. Plus, it looks polished and professional.

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Printable fabric paper.

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I’m almost out of labels, so it’s time for me to come up with a fresh design and order more this fall. I’m always open to suggestions–if you know of a great label place, let me know!

Happy Wednesday!

fall wardrobe: tops & coats

Today, we top things off. (See what I did there? Good one, Em.)

I wear a lot of tees with my self-made skirts, but I’ve found that I have a lot of holes in my closet when it comes to tops and blouses. A few years ago I had this pussy bow blouse that I loved. I think it was the wrong size to begin with, so somewhere along the way it got donated or sold. Fast forward to present day, and I still adore that style. I’ll be making at least three of them this fall. Vogue has a great pattern for that particular design. The best part is that it also comes with a standard collar option, so it is one seriously versatile pattern that you’ll use again and again. I know I will.

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Vogue 8772: This is the ultimate blouse pattern. I’ve cut view B in three fabrics: olive poplin, navy chambray, and burgundy. I’ll be making views C and D as well. Also, I love the darts in this design. It will be nicely fitted.

Vogue 9002: I love the simplicity of this top, and I also love the raglan sleeves. Won’t it be lovely under a blazer or long, textured cardigan too? I have a couple challis prints that will be lovely in this design, and a quick sew at that.

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Butterick 6385: I bought some coral wool in London last spring, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect coat pattern, and this is it. Another classic design that I know I will still love in a few years. I already have the lining, shoulder pads, buttons, thread, and fabric for underlining. I know I live in Texas and won’t get as much use out of this as some of you might in other areas, but I am really, really excited about this one. It’s been too long since I made a coat!

Butterick 6382: I love jackets and blazers. When it’s tailored and the quality is top notch, there isn’t much a good jacket can’t do for you. I took tailoring in college, and it was one of my favorite classes. Building shape into a garment and investing the time into the stitching and foundation of the garment is so rewarding. I have a blue wool that I think would be great for this (view A), or maybe a forest green gabardine that I’ve had for ages. Of all my projects for fall, this is the only one without a dedicated fabric. Suggestions welcome!

So, there we have it. I have a ton of projects on my list for fall–let the sewing begin!

fall wardrobe: dresses

Can you believe tomorrow is the first day of September? I’m always sad to see summer come to a close, even though we get a few extra weeks of warm weather here. When back-to-school season rolls around, I can’t help but look forward to a fresh start, a new season.

I have a lot of projects on my list for fall, and the list of dresses is no exception. I re-read yesterday’s post and laughed a little because, for the most part, the skirts are pretty basic–and in basic colors. That’ll happen when you go for five years without buying new clothes, selling or giving away what you have, and essentially starting from scratch. You need the basics! Anyway, while some of the dresses on my must-have list are great foundation pieces, most of them have a little more personality than the skirts. I’d like to whip up eight new dresses, with an eye on one or two more, time permitting. For now, I’ll focus on the eight. Pattern and fabric choice are included, so feel free to sew along with me. I’d love to see your projects!

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Vogue 9197: I loved this pattern the moment it came out. I’ve been looking for a pattern with a fitted bodice and sleeve options, and this perfect. I can also use the gathered skirt from the pattern or draft any number of my own, making the options for this dress unlimited. I also love the jewel neckline and the French dart, which will be nice when I sew lace or something on the sheer side. I’m going to use this pattern more than once, first in a navy eyelet I got in Nashville and then in one of these gorgeous prints from Promenade Fabrics:

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Vogue 9201: I’d love view B with the bow from view C in a pretty olive sateen. I love, love, love olive for fall. It’s so rich and autumn-y. It also looks fantastic with brown leather boots and bags, which is one of my favorite combos. I’m much more likely to wear brown than black. I’ve ordered more sateen from Fashion Fabrics Club than I could ever count, so they’re a great place to start if you love sateen as much as I do. Great prices too. This is what I’m ordering.

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McCall’s 7084: This is a great shirtdress pattern, and I love the sleeve options. I’m doing view B in an olive linen/cotton fabric. It will make a great transition piece too, and later I can still wear it with tights and boots. I ordered the fabric so long ago that it has sold out, but this olive linen is a nice alternative if you’re interested.

McCall’s 6696: Another shirtdress, I know. I am obsessed with this style right now. I’ve made this one once already, in a white cotton ottoman for a concert in June. This design appeals to me because of the midriff piece. I’ve cut this out in two fabrics for fall: a khaki twill with a self-drafted skirt and a navy floral cotton with the original skirt (view B).

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Butterick 5878: I love this pattern. I’ve made it once, in a pink floral rayon challis, and it is the most comfortable dress I’ve ever worn. I didn’t want to gather all those panels (even though the design is adorable), so I drafted a full circle skirt onto the bodice. I love it, and I wore it to brunch on Saturday and got quite a few compliments on it. This time, I’m going to make it in a dark navy rayon challis, maybe with white lace trim.

Vogue 9202: Another classic, versatile pattern. I love the neckline and the fact that it has sleeves. Other than tailoring it to fit me (if need be), I have no intentions of changing this design. I love the shaped waistline seam. I have two gorgeous sateen prints from Promenade Fabrics, so I’d love to use one of those for this dress. It would be gorgeous in a solid color too.

FallDressPatterns10Butterick 5878 with a self drafted skirt.

Tomorrow, I’ll post my project list for tops and jackets, and then the sewing can begin. Can’t wait!

fall wardrobe: skirts

I live in Texas, land of never-ending summer, where we’re lucky to get a month or two of truly cold weather that requires a heavy jacket or coat. Let me go ahead and put this out there: I love it. I lived in the midwest for a couple years as a teenager, and I grew to hate it. Hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. I can’t handle constant grey skies, ice and dirty snow, being stuck indoors, and uncomfortable layers–just to name a few. More power to those of you who flourish in parts of the country with cold winters. I want to like it, I really do, but I’m a weakling who needs sunny skies and moderate weather. Living here does pose a few challenges when it comes to dressing for the season though (no need for big coats or heavy cardigans, thankfully). I’ve been saying for years that updating your closet for a new season is all about colors, not clothes. For me, my fall style looks a lot like my summer style; I just swap out my pastels for more navy and olive and rich, saturated earth tones. This year I’m being very intentional with wardrobe updates, primarily because for the first time in about six years I finally have the time to sew for myself.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks thinking about what my needs are for fall, and I’ve come up with a few lists of things. For the most part, I’m using McCall’s patterns, so I’d love for you to sew along with me! Some items on my list are my own designs from previous collections, and I’ll do what I can to include tutorials for those patterns as well. First up, skirts. (I’ll go over dresses, tops, and jackets later this week.) I need a number of basics, in colors that will go well with denim blouses and my leather boots (one of my favorite looks for fall/winter).

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Butterick 5929: I like view A, but maybe an inch or two longer. Navy sateen. Can you believe I don’t have a navy blue skirt? Me, whose favorite color is navy. That’s about to change!

Vogue 8882: I love the fullness of this skirt, and I think it would make a great foundation piece. I’m going to make this in olive and khaki sateen, keeping it knee length (25″ for me) so that my boots don’t get lost in all that skirt.

Butterick 6179: Another great foundation piece, and a great transition piece at that, as it’s unlined. I have a forest green linen blend that would be lovely for our Texas fall weather. I can see myself sewing this one quite a few times just because the skirt is so classic and versatile.

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#1. This is the ‘Mae’ skirt from my Fall 2014 collection. I have it in khaki, but my heart is set on having it in navy. I’d like to re-work the embellishment. (This is a half circle skirt with slanted side seam pockets.)

#2 and #3. This is the ‘Louisa’ skirt, the very skirt I already have in eight colors, which is hilarious to me. Eight of the same skirt, and I’m about to make it 10. Surprisingly, I don’t have it in many basic colors, so I plan to whip it up in navy and red. The pattern is a half circle with pleats and slanted front pockets. It’s fully lined, and I’ll probably shorten it to knee length for fall. If the skirt is too long and you’re wearing knee high boots, it can sometimes look like the skirt is overwhelming you. Not always, but I’m mindful of that for autumn/winter.

#4. The ‘Emma’ tulle skirt. I have it in white, but that’s not a great color year-round. Champagne was the best selling color in this skirt, which would also be a great option. I just happen to have some navy tulle left over. I will do a tutorial for you on this one!

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This is the ‘Nellie’ skirt from . . . 2013? 2014? Actually, I think it first came out in 2012, but I brought it back a few seasons later. Who knows. Anyway, I like this skirt because of the suede waistband and accents at the pockets. It looks really, really good with boots. (Side note: it smells really good too.) I’d like to make this skirt in both olive and navy. I’d get a lot of wear out of both. It’s a half circle with pleats and side seam pockets.

So, that’s my list of skirt must-haves for fall. It’s 10 in total, and that’s not including the “extras” on my list. Because I’m going to have so much extra time and all.

Even though we Texans have a few more weeks of hot weather ahead of us, I’m excited to add these pieces to my closet. I hope you can sew along with me!

DIY: The Hutch

Not long after I closed my business last summer, I started a big DIY project. To be fair, I started a lot of projects during that time. I spent five years in business completely neglecting a number of areas in my life, including my home. If you know me at all, you know that it takes something major for me not to spend time and energy on the spaces in which I spend a lot of time. Looking back, the business was pretty major and naturally consumed every minute of my day and all the enthusiasm I could muster. Anyway, that’s all behind me now. I’ve always loved making my home pretty, livable, and functional. I’m no pro at it; I just like pretty spaces that make me happy.

A few times a month, I swing by our local Salvation Army. I originally started doing it because you never know when you might find a great piece of vintage clothing, but I kept going back because this particular SA has an incredible selection of furniture. Now, being on a budget (who isn’t, really), this was a great way to score a new little something without breaking the bank–even if I did have to repair a seam or buy a can of paint. I’ve been really, really lucky with my finds. Scroll through my Instagram photos and you’ll see a white and blue striped couch in my studio. $90 (and $50 to have it cleaned), Salvation Army. The big gold framed mirror I take pictures in front of? $25, Salvation Army. (Side note: that mirror weighs about 60 pounds, and I’m pretty sure it’s 50+ years old. It was a legit find, you guys. I love that thing.) Add to that countless pieces of clothing (most with the price tags still attached!), knickknacks here and there, an adorable side table I painted and put in the living room, pieces of art, and, of course, The Hutch.

Ty and I are not big drinkers by any means, but we had a basic stock of booze that was slowly outgrowing the one cabinet we were keeping it in. I’ve wanted a bar cart for ages, but never found one that I loved or that was reasonably priced. Enter, The Hutch. I knew the moment I saw it that we were destined for each other. The great part is that the top shelf part wasn’t permanently attached, so I can go back and paint it later, reattach the bolts, and ta-da! We’ll have a hutch. For now, I use the shelf for storage in the garage, and the bottom part for the booze. From start to finish, this project took me about 5 weeks. A lot of that time was waiting for coats to dry, but I spent a good two solid weeks sanding the damn thing. You would not believe how not fun that can be in early fall 90-degree heat in Texas. I’m really, really glad I put in all that effort though, the end result is worth it. Sanding times a million, two coats of primer (three on the top), three coats of paint, new hardware, felt in the drawer, and wallpaper in the interior.

(Please excuse the not pretty pictures and the mess that is our garage.)

Isn’t it darling?! I saw its potential a mile away.

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The top shelf. I might paint it to match one day. The thought of sanding it makes my head hurt, so for now it sits in the garage.

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After I sanded it, I excitedly ran inside to have Ty come look at what a fantastic job I’d done. Yeah, I had a lot more to go.

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I removed all of the old hardware. It wasn’t in great shape, and I knew I was going to replace it.

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I filled in the holes with a wood filler and sanded it down before I primed. Worked like a charm.

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After two coats of primer, the painting begins. I used Kilz primer and Behr paint in ‘Sparrow’.

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After coats and coats of primer and paint, I laid the paper in the drawer and shelves. It was easy but tedious. Lots of measuring and precise cutting to make sure the pattern matched exactly. I found the paper on clearance at JoAnn, and I ended up using two rolls. You can still buy this there (and other craft stores and Home Depot, etc.), but I think this particular pattern is unavailable.

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Hardware was a big decision. I knew I wanted brushed nickle or platinum, but it took some time to find drawer pulls that matched. Three of the previous hardware was two-hole hardware that happened to be a very specific width.

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New felt for the drawer.

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Finished! (And no, we don’t smoke or use those ashtrays. I just think they’re pretty!)

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Looking at these pictures again has inspired me to start another project. Salvation Army, here I come!

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summer reading

I love reading. Getting lost in a good book is one of my most favorite things to do. I come from a family of readers, and I’m glad I’m a member of that club. Reading is such a pleasure, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of opening a new book and turning the first page. Remember getting a summer reading list as a kid? Best thing ever. I have such fond memories of long sunny days at the neighborhood pool and nights with a book and a flashlight under the covers. I know well the feeling of fighting to stay awake because your book is just that good. I also know what it feels like to power through and stay awake half the night to finish a story. I always paid for it the following day, but it was always worth it.

For the most part, I like to read to learn something, so books on history of fashion, economics of consumerism, marketing and aesthetics, and the business of fashion are what fill up my shelves, but I enjoy a little bit of fiction every now and then. (This is on my nightstand right now.) Here’s a round-up of some of my favorites, for you fellow bookworms.

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A Perfect Fit. This one just came yesterday, but it looks fantastic. It’s all about American ready-to-wear and the importance of clothing in shaping our social history.

The Lost Art of Dress. I read this last fall, and I could not put it down, you guys. It is magnificent. We’ve gotten so lazy and sloppy as a society when it comes to style and getting dressed, and this book is all about a time when things were dramatically different, and it spotlights the “Dress Doctors” who helped women dress stylishly, appropriately, and on a budget. I will read it again.

Fashion on the Ration. I bought this book at the gift shop at Churchill’s War Rooms in London in March. This book is about the British rationing program during WWII, and it includes diary excerpts from women during that time and what they did to make their clothes work. It’s absolutely fascinating to learn about the coupon system, the overwhelming hit the fashion industry took during the war years, and how everyone–designers and consumers alike–did the best the could with what they had. It’s a must read. I read the entire book in one 9-hour flight. Couldn’t put it down.

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Overdressed. I mentioned this book countless times when I was in business. I don’t think people truly understand the damage cheap, fast fashion has had on the fashion industry and our environment. This book will (hopefully) inspire you to think a little more carefully about your clothing purchases. Quality over quantity.

The Substance of Style. A good, if not textbook-y read about how thing look has influenced shopping habits, design, and marketing. Interesting.

Wife Dressing. You know what they say: don’t judge a book by its cover! Read a few of the reviews for this book. I’m about halfway through this one, and while some of the advice is a little outdated and basic, it’s a fun read with helpful tips that still apply today.

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History of the Paper Pattern Industry. This is especially interesting to me lately, as I’ve gotten back into using store bought patterns since I closed my business last summer. After spending more than five years drafting patterns from scratch myself, it’s been a nice change of pace having the work already done for me! Some pattern companies have been around since the 1800s, and I’m excited to dive in and read about this subject.

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Happy Reading!