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Emily

the striped jacket

I have always had a thing for stripes. Talk about charming and interesting – and don’t get me started on the potential for playing with directions and angles and placement. Stripes are one of those prints that always catch my eye (along with gingham and florals), and over the years I’ve logged hundreds of hours making garments using striped fabric. Most have been successful, like today’s jacket, and some have been massive disappointments (I still cringe when I think about this dress). One of my all-time favorite things ever is this skirt I designed a few years ago. Essentially, It’s just a half circle skirt with pleats that I separated into sections to create the stripes. So striped fabric doesn’t always have to be something you buy – you can absolutely create it yourself. At the end of this post, I’ll include some photos of a few things from the archives that are great examples of that. But first, back to the reason we’re here today: the black and white striped jacket.

I mentioned last week that I’m currently working on a group of garments that are all black and white. The collection is just about finished, and with only two exceptions, it is exactly what I planned – and this jacket is one of those exceptions. After cutting a black and white striped dress, I had some fabric left over. I’m making a concerted effort to use every inch of my fabrics, and when I saw what I had left to work with it came to me that this jacket would be a perfect use for it.

Also, side note: the black and white striped dress is the other exception. It turned out to be a disaster with a broken invisible zipper and a so-so fitting bodice. I scrapped the bodice entirely, but I saved the skirt so I was able to turn a negative into a positive, and the skirt is a great basic. I’ll probably get more use out of the skirt than I would have the dress, so it worked out. But then I had a group of separates and no dresses, so I added a white linen shirtdress to the lineup and called it good. I’ll probably have the collection finished in about a week or so. Finally, yay!

I post progress pictures on Instagram a lot, and when I posted a shot of the front of the jacket last month, someone asked me what view of the pattern it was, or how I knew to cut it like this. The answer is that there is no “view” for this jacket – I just knew it would work. The jacket is designed in sections which is a great canvas for something like this, and it’s also a great showcase for embroidery (you saw that in its sister jacket in December). That’s the thing with patterns: look at them less for what’s presented to you on the envelope and more with an eye for what you can do with it. This pattern is also a great opportunity to mix prints together. Pair a stripe with a floral or go with a solid and a coordinating print. Another option is something like view B, with the same fabric in a different scale. So, a larger scale eyelet for the middle pieces and a smaller scale eyelet for the yokes and lower bands. Instant interest!

I cut the front, back, and sleeves on the bias, and the yokes and lower sleeve and jacket pieces are all cut on the crosswise grain. The front band is cut on the straight of grain. This fabric is something I found at Ikea of all places (happened to see it when I was there for a couple lamps and storage boxes), and it’s 100% cotton duck. It would also be great in home dec applications, but there’s no finish on the fabric and it’s not stiff or scratchy – making it just as useful for certain garments. I never considered shopping the home dec department for fabrics until I was in college. A girl came to tailoring class one day with her project, and she was using the most gorgeous yellow and white damask that she’d gotten at from an interiors showroom. It was soft and all cotton, and seeing that jacket was all it took for me to look at fabrics differently. Now, not all home dec stuff will work for garments, but a lot of it will.

Front pattern piece with bias grainline.

I made bias tape from scraps of the black and white gingham I used for a blouse, and sandwiched those between the yoke and lining. It’s a nice detail that uses scrap fabric and elevates the inside of the garment nicely. I love doing things like that. (The wrinkles on the lining will happen after a good pressing or steaming. It’s normal and no biggie.)

I cut two of the middle back piece instead of cutting it on the fold, because I wanted a chevron down the middle.

Fabric.com has a great black and white stripe, and it’s very similar to what I used to make this jacket. It’s part of the Premier Prints Collection, which are traditional home dec fabrics. Just be mindful of the care instructions when shopping for this kind of fabric. Always pre-shrink, and avoid anything with a special finish on it.

 

Because there’s so much potential with this jacket, I’ll probably make it again later this year. It’s very, very easy to make, but the fit is boxier so keep that in mind. I’ll have more photos of this jacket on me in a week or so. Things are just so crazy here right now (as I type this our countertops are being installed and we just got a delivery with the powder room toilet and sink, as well as our kitchen faucets and disposals). Taking pictures is already such a hassle, so I’ve had to put that on the back burner until I have a big group of things to photograph all at once. Sorry about that, guys. I know how helpful it is to see these things on a real person. I’ll be back on my photography game soon.

Now, for the archived projects for a little stripes inspiration. I designed this dress a few years ago for a spring collection, and I love it. I’d actually like to make this one again. Love the baby blue and white together too. Each section/stripe is its own pattern piece, so this dress took quite some time to make. The pattern took a while, and so did the construction. It’s all worth it though, because practice and experience is what makes us better.

This is another striped dress I designed back in the day. I think some of the sections are a bit wide and so much white right across the bust is a bit distracting, but I still like this. Funny side note: I entered the navy version of this dress in a contest sponsored by Threads a few years ago and won. It’s how I got my DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 25!

This dress is from Spring 2013. I’d really love to have some of that fabric again!

I designed an apron collection for holiday one year, and this was one of them. This was called “The Gourmet” and as soon as I remembered this apron I immediately put on my list of things to make. This is so charming! I’ll have to add some pockets for functionality this time though. Ha!

Striped projects are always such a fun challenge, and I’m excited to tackle a few more throughout the year. The next striped project you see will probably be out of this raw silk. Love those colors!

I want to end today’s post by mentioning something that’s been on my mind for the past couple of days. The admin dashboard for this blog shows me all sorts of data, including referring sites. The other day, I noticed a new link that had directed someone to my blog. Out of curiosity, I followed it and I was led to the ugliest, most absurd discussion amongst fellow bloggers and readers about the people and things they hate in the sewing community. I was stung by some of the things that were said, but I was also simultaneously disappointed and not surprised that there’s a group of folks out there who delight in taking others down. What kind of person must you be to intentionally sign up for a site like that and then take time and energy to actually post on it?

I mention this because I know there are a lot of you who follow this blog because you’re on a journey like mine, and you’re also putting yourself out there every time you write a post or present your work to the world. It’s so sad that the jealous, talent-less wannabes come out of the woodwork and bond over their shared disdain for someone, and turn what is supposed to be a supportive, encouraging community into something nasty and lot like a high school cafeteria room. I’ve developed a pretty thick skin over the years (I’m getting better, anyway), so the initial sting of the comments has worn off. I have to laugh at these parasites and the toxicity they are carrying around. What a burden that must be! The funny part is that I know who a few of these people are and, ultimately, I’m sorry that they feel the way they do. You know how I feel about them? I don’t. I am too busy living life and trying to do good work to even worry about it.

One of my goals with this blog is to encourage fellow sewists to keep learning, try new things, and enjoy the process of being creative. The minute the joy is sucked out of that and we start to worry about what everyone else thinks, especially the morons hiding behind fake names and a computer screen, is the moment we join their ranks. I choose to live my life and present everything I share in a positive, fun way because I can’t imagine doing it any differently. You should do the same. And remember, if you ever stumble upon the haters, let that serve as your motivation to keep on keepin’ on.

I hope you have a great weekend, and I’ll be back next week with a fun post for Valentine’s Day and another piece from the black and white collection. But first, I’m headed to JoAnn for some white linen and black buttons for my shirtdress. Happy sewing!

-Emily

a guide to beads

For the most part, I have my style figured out. It’s classic and feminine with a touch of whimsy. I still try trends every so often (and usually fail miserably), but it’s nice to have a handle on what you feel good in and what is flattering on your body. While this is more of a positive thing than anything else, it’s also easy to fall into a routine of the “same old, same old” projects, like endless repeat makes (hi, how many versions of Vogue 8772 have I made now? a dozen?) and lots of the same silhouette in different colors and patterns. I happen to think that there’s nothing in the world wrong with that – as long as you’re making and wearing things you love, who cares? If you’re like me, sometimes a project comes along that very much your style or something you just really enjoy sewing, but it’s begging for a little something extra. Things like embroidery and trim and applique can do the trick, but so can something like beadwork and sparkly embellishment. (Did someone say sparkly?)

There’s plenty I can talk about with confidence, but I am by no means an expert in this particular area. I want to say that right off the bat. Beadwork is something I’ve dabbled in over the years, and what I know is a direct result of experimentation and practice. I’ve done a good bit of research and studied the placement of embellishment on RTW garments to get a handle on how to do it, and I’ve gotten really good at drafting the grid on my patterns for balanced, symmetrical placement. (It’s really not difficult at all. I’ll dedicate a post to that soon.) I’ll stock up on pretty glass beads a couple times a year when they’re on mega sale, and my notebooks are full of different design sketches and thoughts about bead/rhinestone combinations. I love the idea of embellishment like this, because it immediately makes a garment look more expensive and unique. It also adds character to an otherwise basic piece. We all need basics and there’s nothing wrong with them, but sometimes the basics are so uninspiring to me I can’t think of anything I’d rather make less.

I had big plans for Vogue 9197 in navy blue with embellishment for Christmas 2016, but I never got around to it. I’d like to revisit the idea this year, but here are just a few ideas for different clusters of embellishment. The options are endless!

I made a white blouse last year (another version of Vogue 8772), and I put the pussy bow ties on it (You can see it in this post). I never, ever wore it. It was in plenty of pictures, and it sure looked great on my dress form, but I knew I had to remove the pussy bow and replace it with a traditional collar. I did that a few weeks ago (I love it now), and I knew that doing so would make it a perfect piece in the black and white collection I’m working on. It was fine and all, but I woke up one day inspired to make it a little more . . . luxe. I played around with some color combinations, but I ultimately decided that something that had black, white, and gold in it would go beautifully with the other pieces in the group, like the black pants or floral skirt. Using those colors also keeps it neutral enough to go with lots of other things too, which I love.

For this blouse, I’m using black, glue-on rhinestones, gold bugle beads, and silver Swarovski hotfix crystals. (I’m planning to replace the clear buttons with black ones.)

This is what my grid looked like on the pattern. I like to get a rough idea for placement and then put either one of the beads or the whole design (depending on its size) on the pattern to confirm that the spacing is okay. You don’t want something too dense, and anything with too much negative space looks like an afterthought.

Most of the beads and crystals I use I’ve found in the jewelry department at JoAnn or Hobby Lobby, Just because something is labeled for one thing doesn’t mean it isn’t a great option for something else! I used to be wary of anything that had to be glued on, but there are some excellent glues out there that will absolutely keep your beads on the fabric permanently. I’ve used both of these, and I would recommend them. Both are easy to use, but the E6000 glue came with a few small applicator tips to make gluing small beads easier, which is nice. I used the Gem-Tac on the white blouse, and it was a breeze to apply.

 

I’ve been collecting various beads and bits over the years, and my stash includes pearls and glass beads and sequins and wooden beads, and a few hotfix crystals. I had no idea what hotfix crystals were until last summer, when I made this pair of earrings, and now I’m hooked. Hotfix crystals have a flat back with glue, and you use a special applicator that melts the glue and attaches the crystal. It’s really fun and super easy. For my first go-round with those crystals I bought the inexpensive tool that didn’t come with different size tips to fit different size crystals. Please don’t do what I did. I actually burned a couple test pieces because the tip was so much bigger than the crystal. It could have also been user error and keeping the tip on the crystal for too long, but I got this Simplicity applicator a few weeks ago, and it’s the one you need for these crystals. Plus, it plugs in so no need for batteries. I got this at JoAnn, but Darice is also a good brand and it’s available here.

Rhinestones, available in tons of different sizes and colors – and either glue-on or sew-on.

Pearls.

Glass beads.

Glass bugle beads are some of my favorites because they bring a very linear look to the party. They come in tons of colors and sizes too.

Sequins.

Most sew-on beads have a very narrow hole for the needle, so you’ll need a couple packs of beading needles. I say a couple because they are quite delicate, and I have broken a few along the way. Tweezers are also a good idea, because they do make placing everything in the right place much easier.

A few years ago, I had an idea for a beaded collar, just covered in glass beads and pearls. Each and every one was sewn on by hand, and it took forever, but I got comfortable with the process during that project. The collar was quite heavy and needed a little extra support, but I would absolutely do that again. I love the texture is adds and the various sizes of the pearls is really interesting to me.

This is another project from the archives. This skirt sold in a sample sale, but I eventually made another for myself in khaki sateen. There’s room for improvement in terms of placement and scale of the embellishment, but I still like it. All of those beads were sewn on too, which took forever. Forever.

 

After the black and white collection, I have some ideas ideas for a couple pastel garments, but then I’m really going all out after that for spring. Bright orange, rich cobalt blue, vivid grass green – I’m really excited about it. I’d like to include a piece with some embellishment, and this is what I’m playing with. I love the different shapes and sizes!

Adding embellishment like this does make the garment a little more delicate in terms of how you care for it. Just look for beads that can be washed or dry cleaned, and the same thing goes for the glue. I prefer making garments that I can easy peasy throw into the wash, but I don’t mind having to pay special attention to something every once in a while. Some of you asked about how I’m going to wash the white blouse. I will probably hand wash it, hang it to dry, and then steam out any wrinkles. Not low maintenance, but that’s alright. Sometimes it’s worth it.

The black and white collection is coming along nicely – I’ll have finished garments to start sharing with you next week. Until then, happy sewing!

-Emily

P.S. A little more embellishment inspiration I found on Pinterest. I have a whole collection of saved images on Instagram too. So many great ideas!

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sewing in collections

Hello! First things first, thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway. You guys are so observant and thoughtful! Your comments were a pleasure to read, and I appreciate your taking the time to write them. (I especially loved it when you mentioned Harrison!) Giveaways are so much fun, but they also bum me out a little – I wish I could give all of you a prize! Alas, we’ve got just one lucky winner this time, and her name is Tania S. Congratulations!

Just a reminder that quite a few of the pieces from the Sew Ready collection are on Amazon, which is a great option for those of us without a Studio Designs retailer close by. The Eclipse sewing table is available, and so is this sewing and craft table (great for cutting, and it folds down for easy storage).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Well, I guess that pretty much does it for January. I would say that I’m surprised how quickly this month has gone by, but I’m not, not at all. We’re to the point with our remodel that cabinets are going in and walls are being painted, so there’s been a flurry of activity here recently. So while that’s happening, I’m squeezing in as much sewing as I can. Lots to share in the coming weeks, and I’m really, really exited about all these soon-to-be-finished projects, both for the house and my closet.

We have walls and cabinets now! As I type this, the cabinets are being prepared to be painted, the walls have been primed, and countertops are being measured. We’ve picked out flooring and lighting, and I’m just so happy with all the progress. It’s starting to look like a house again!

The black and white collection is coming along nicely. All but one thing have been cut out and are in various stages of completion, and I’m excited to bring it all together in the next couple of weeks. I’m working on some of the usual suspects (skirts, blouses, and a dress), but there are a couple pieces that I’m especially excited about in this lineup. There’s a striped jacket I didn’t plan but is probably one of my favorite pieces, and an embellished blouse that is just really, really pretty and special. It’s all about the details!

You may have noticed some changes to the blog over the last week or so. Nothing major, I’m just adding a few relevant ads to the sidebar and finally working on links and navigation. Next on my list is giving the logo a little makeover and updating the Meet Emily page, but I’ve intentionally saved that for last. (Updating that page means that I have to change the line about Ty and I having two dogs to one dog, and I just haven’t had the heart to do that yet.)

It’s hard to write about yourself. It is for me, anyway. All the “I did this” and “here’s why you should follow this super awesome blog” stuff is kind of . . . weird. Even though all of the accomplishments and what-have-you are true and relevant it’s no less awkward to put it all out there. When I first started this blog in August (ish) of 2016, my goal (if you could even call it that) was simple: to use this as a creative outlet and share my handmade garments with whoever was interested. I was a year out from closing my business, and I was ready to get back into sewing for myself. I began sewing my clothes out of sheer necessity, because I had next to nothing in my closet. I had sold or given away nearly everything I owned, and I was down to shoes, sweats, a couple pairs of jeans, and a few tees. Initially, I made things as I had a need or when I just liked a pattern. It was only after I started to get into a routine and make more things and people started to respond to the content that I realized what my unique perspective was, and that’s sewing like a fashion designer.

The fact of the matter is this: I have a degree in apparel design, and I worked very hard to earn it. (Gah! See, does that sound icky, or what?! But it’s still true!) What I know is fashion and design, and I’m in a unique position to share a lot of interesting things with you. In college, we were encouraged to explore whatever design niche spoke to us (menswear, couture, children’s clothing, accessories, etc.), but no matter the category our professors emphasized the concept of designs being wearable, marketable, and consistent. Those things, along with the process of building a collection (who will wear this? what fabrics am I using? is the theme cohesive?) have stuck with me – and it’s where my mind goes when I’m thinking about my next projects, except I am my only customer or target market (which does make things a heck of a lot easier). The more things I made, the more my wardrobe grew – which meant projects started to build on one another. This blouse will be perfect with that skirt I made last spring! These pants will go so well with that cardigan I made a few months ago!

I’m also always thinking about things in terms of color story. That’s another thing that you consider when designing a collection, but it’s also something that makes sewing your own clothes just really, really fun. Be your own fashion designer! This really hit home for me last summer. I dabbled in collections last year, but they weren’t as cohesive or comprehensive as I would have liked. By the time summer rolled around, I had some very clear ideas about what my needs were for the season and what I wanted to make. I got into the swing of it, and I’ve never looked back.

I’m writing this post today because I think it’s high time I clarify what exactly I’m doing here. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately: what my message is, what makes my little corner of the sewing blogger community special, and what I want to share. The concept of sewing capsule collections is not new, but I like the idea of taking that idea up a notch to include a color story and an expanded collection (capsules are typically small and very basic). Why should there be limits on things? Instead of thinking about a sewing a handmade wardrobe piece by individual piece, let’s think about it like a designer would: how well things coordinate and wear together, what colors work best for us and our lifestyle, and how new garments fit in with the rest of what’s in our closet.

Probably the best part of this message is that people are starting to respond to it and put it into practice. I’m seeing more and more coordinating fabric purchases and pattern groupings that include separates and dresses and accessories that all work together, and I can’t tell you how wonderful I think that is. (Hey, Brittany! I see you and I love it!) If you’ve never approached sewing like this, with an eye on a group of items all together, I encourage you to try it. Start small, with two or three pieces, and go from there. It’s so much fun to search for fabrics for a color story and look through your pattern stash for all the things that will help bring your vision to life. The cherry on top is when you start to see your handmade wardrobe grow – and it’s all thanks to your hard work.

I’ve been playing dress up my whole life. As a young girl, I would try on all the evening gowns on shopping trips with my mom and grammy. As I got older, I liked to set aside time to try things on every once in a while and put outfits together. (There was also music and dancing involved, as one does while playing dress up. No shame.) I still do that, and it really helps to know what looks good on you and what makes a great outfit ahead of time, instead of the morning of the meeting or day at the office or special occasion or whatever the event is. I have more fun than I ever have before when I do that now because so much of what’s in my closet has been made with my own two hands. It’s so rewarding!

–Emily

P.S. I’ve never been too into Valentine’s Day, but this year I’m thinking about putting a post together that includes some fun ways to incorporate the theme of love into what your wear that day. Pretty much, you can’t go wrong with red or pink! I bought the most charming poplin print last week that will be perfect for Valentine’s Day or the days around it, and I thought I’d show it to you before I cut it up and make something out of it. (What I do with it is still TBD.) I also love this print in the navy colorway. I will totally wear this in the summer too, with some wide leg linen pants or a full skirt.

Telio Playtime Cotton Poplin Kiss White

I also got some red rayon challis, because this will make a gorgeous maxi skirt and I can wear it with a bunch of different things, especially in the summer when I wear so much navy and white. I used this fabric (in emerald) last fall to make this dress. It’s gorgeous!

Telio Viscose Bastiste Red

Have a great week!

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