getting to know me: 20 things

Recently on Instagram a little game of “tag, you’re it!” was going around, where the person being tagged was challenged to post 20 facts about themselves. I have really, really loved getting to know my friends in the online sewing community a little better (I had no idea my sew sister, Brittany, was a certified pharmacy tech!), but until today I hadn’t joined the fun. I’ve been tagged a number of times, but I thought it was a great idea to post these fun facts here on the blog instead. A lot of new readers (hey, y’all!) have found this little blog of mine in the past few weeks, so this is a great way for you to learn a little more about me.

#1. My favorite decade for fashion is the 1950s. I’m not a stickler for an authentic vintage look and I don’t like looking like I’m wearing a costume in my daily life (no gloves and old shoes for me, thanks), but full skirts and ladylike dresses will always be two of my favorite things. I’m also very interested in fashion from the 1940s. I got a great book, Fashion on the Ration, from Churchill’s War Room & Museum in London last year, and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I love to read.

#2. I like being busy. I enjoy projects and tasks and doing things, so even when we’re just sitting on the couch at night watching TV, I’m usually doing something else at the same time like hand sewing or writing. I’m also a big multi-tasker. So, if I have 20 minutes to fill while something is in the oven, I will throw in a load of laundry or respond to an email. It’s hard for me to just sit around.

#3. I have a purple Schwinn hybrid bike that I ride 10-13 miles a day, five or six days a week. The hour I spend on that bike is, without question, a highlight of my day. I crave the solitude and the fresh air and the sunshine and the daily physical challenge of getting up the next hill. I love it.

#4. We have two Great Danes, Harrison and Olivia. We got both of them from rescue organizations here in Texas, and they are nothing short of magnificent.

#5. I had braces for four years.

#6. I am someone who needs a great deal of alone time. I’m also a homebody.

#7. I had skin cancer three years ago. I have a four inch scar at the base of my neck, which is why you rarely see me in low necklines. Or, when you do, I’m wearing a necklace. So that scar, coupled with the others on my back from additional biopsies, is the single biggest influence on what I wear and the projects I choose to make.

#8. My favorite food is Mexican. There are a ton of great restaurants in our neck of the woods (not surprising considering we live in Texas, after all), but I make it a lot at home too. A couple years ago, my brother recommended the America’s Test Kitchen Mexican Cookbook, and it has changed my life in terms of enjoying cooking and being semi-good at it. Every single recipe is fantastic, and now I actually look forward to making us yummy things to eat. I even make corn and flour tortillas from scratch using a cast iron tortilla press, a birthday present from my brother. (He’s an exceptionally great brother.) We eat a lot of tacos in this house, in addition to dishes like chilaquiles, pastel azteca, chicken adobo, enchiladas, tamales, and chicken tortilla soup.

#9. There aren’t any colors that I don’t like, but navy blue has my heart. I’m not sure what it is about navy, but I feel really, really good in that color. It’s so classic and flattering and pretty.

#10. I was born in North Carolina, and I have lived in five states: North Carolina, Iowa, Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

#11. I am older than my husband by one year and four months. We will celebrate 10 years of marriage in September. I think he’s pretty sensational.

#12. I like shoes, and my latest purchase is probably my favorite of all time. They’ll go with all my navy pieces and everything in between! I’m slowly getting rid of all the ridiculously high heels I have and replacing them with sensible flats, but I made an exception for these shoes. Now I want bumblebees on everything! (Side note: I waited for my size to go on sale. The regular price is a bit on the high side.)

#13. With the exception of a ginger ale every now and then, I never drink soda, and I always order water at restaurants.

#14. The easiest way to get me on the dance floor at a party is to play Michael Jackson. Anything by Bruno Mars usually does the trick too, but I’ll really lose my mind if “Rock Your Body” by Justin Timberlake comes on. (And it usually does because I request it.)

#15. I’m a coffee drinker. It’s a must have every morning, believe me.

#16. I love stripes. I designed a striped skirt a few years ago, and I’m going to show you how to make it in an upcoming tutorial.

#17. I have a Bachelor’s in Apparel Design and Product Development. When I was in college Facebook was just becoming a thing, so the idea of using your education online via a blog or tutorials wasn’t something any of us really thought about. And look where we are now. Wild.

#18. I am very organized and neat. I don’t mind clutter here and there, but my house is never dirty.

#19. A few of my favorite shows are Friends, The Office, The Closer, Burn Notice, and Better Call Saul. I’ve also watched The Crown on Netflix, which is utterly magnificent.

#20. I love hats. I probably have 20 at this point, but I always have a “need” for another one. This one (in navy, obviously) is on my wish list.

Have a great week! Lots of tutorials coming this month!

my dream dress: vogue 8789

For years, I searched and searched and searched for the perfect lemon print fabric. I know this may sound silly (really, Emily, a lemon print? and years?), but something that specific isn’t the easiest thing in the world to find. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of options out there, but nothing stood out to me, and I wasn’t going to settle for something less than absolutely beautiful. Everything I came across was either a quilting cotton, poor quality, or featured the lemons on a black background. Nothing wrong with a black background, I just wanted something that looked a little more light and springy and a lot more me(Funny side note: I found an adorable lemon print fabric a couple years ago and used it for an apron design I had in my shop. I’ll post the pictures at the end of this post.)

It’s been so long since I first had the idea for a lemon print dress that I’m not entirely sure where it came from. For a couple of seasons, designers were doing interesting things with fruit prints, including lemons, so it could be that I saw something which sparked the creativity, or maybe I just had a dream about it. That’s definitely been known to happen. At any rate, I stumbled upon this fabric a few weeks ago, and all of my dreams for a lemon print fabric came true.

And it’s Fashion Fabrics Club for the win, again. I have a good laugh sometimes when I think about the fabrics I’ve found on that website over the years. I can go for ages without finding a thing and then, all of a sudden, find exactly what I’m looking for. As soon as my order arrived, I posted this fabric on Instagram and it sold out the next day. I’m sorry about that! It seems I wasn’t alone in wanting a fabric like this, and I wish there was more in stock for you to go buy. It’s a cotton/spandex heavyweight twill with a scattered lemon print, and I love it. I ordered 8 yards, because I wanted enough for two garments and a couple of aprons for me and my mom. Plus, I got it for $5.75/yd so it didn’t exactly break the bank.

Considering how long I waited for the right fabric to come along and my love for this vintage Vogue pattern, I wasn’t going to cut any corners in construction. I made two muslins for the bodice, and I’m glad I did. There were a few things that needed tweaking to get a nice fit: I shaped the front waist darts, took in about 1/2″ at the side seams under the arms grading to nothing at the waist, and pinched out fullness in the back.

I moved the side zipper to the back (personal preference), and cut the skirt in three sections instead  of four because I didn’t want a seam down center front. I also added side seam pockets. When I sew a muslin for a dress with a zipper in the back, I always cut the muslin bodice back on the fold, and pin myself into the bodice in the front. This makes it much easier for me to not only get in and out of the muslin, but I can get a more accurate read on how much fabric to pinch out of the back, which is a common thing for me to have to do.

The front view. I have only pinned on one half of the bodice so that you can see what the original looked like. I transferred these adjustments to my pattern, made another muslin to ensure everything fit correctly (it did), and then I cut my fabric.

I shaped the bodice facing pieces and drafted lining pieces to match. I also drafted a pattern to line the skirt.

I’m glad I invested the time into getting the fit right. Makes a big difference!

A peek at the inside, which you know is just as important to me as the outside. Vintage Vogue garment labels can be purchased on the Vogue patterns website.

The waistline stay, a nice (and practical!) detail.

The hem is 3″ deep, which I really like. I used the blind hem stitch on my machine to finish it.

Buttons at the shoulder. Because my fabric was on the heavy side and wouldn’t have worked for the loops, I used cotton poplin to make the button loops. Buttons are from JoAnn.

Inside of the front bodice.

I omitted the cummerbund simply because I wanted to save fabric and I’m much more likely to wear a thin belt with this dress, if I wear a belt at all.

This dress is everything I ever wanted and had envisioned for a lemon print dress, and it was worth the wait. It was also worth every second of fitting and adjustments and patternmaking and sewing and everything in between.

As for the pattern, I love it too. I have plans to make it again right away, in coral and navy blue. This is one of those silhouettes that looks good on just about everyone, so if you’re in the market for a ladylike dress I’d recommend starting with this pattern. Hard to go wrong.

And, finally, here’s the apron I designed a few years ago. What can I say, I love lemons!

Have a wonderful weekend!

how to: slanted pockets

I love pockets. I like having them in most of my garments for a lot of reasons, but I especially like them because they’re practical. For me, it’s worth the effort to include a pocket or two in most of my garments because I actually use them. Sometimes I slip my phone or my keys in my pockets if my hands are full, and there’s usually a lip gloss or chapstick hanging out in there too. Plus, isn’t there a “cool girl” vibe with pockets in womenswear? Guys get to stand around with their hands in their pockets looking all laid back and chill, why can’t we do the same thing?

There’s so many different types of pockets, so incorporating them into a project is not only easy, but it’s a fun challenge to think about what particular pocket would work best. Most of the pockets I make are hidden side seam pockets, but I really like patch pockets on shirtdresses and skirts and welt pockets on pants and tailored coats. I happen to really, really like slanted front pockets too, the subject of today’s post. Also called angled pockets or inserted seam pockets, this pocket is created by drawing a line from the waist to the side seam, which becomes the entry for the pocket. You see this type of pocket a lot on pants.

This is the slanted pocket on my linen pants, which you’ll see in more detail as soon as I finish a blouse to wear with them. Pattern is Vogue 8836, out-of-print.

I like this pocket design on unlined skirts because it’s a much cleaner look on the inside. With summer fast approaching (it was 90 degrees the other day, so maybe it’s already summer here?), I’m thinking about all the things on my list to make to stay comfortable this summer. Loose fitting and lightweight tops, linen everything, and unlined skirts are a few things I’m focused on right now. When I finally found the lemon print fabric of my dreams a few weeks ago, I bought enough for a couple of garments knowing one of them was going to be an unlined skirt. I will get so much use out of this skirt.

I wanted something relatively simple in design, but with a little flare and personality, so I went with Butterick 6129 again, after a successful first try with it back in January. Only this time, the pockets would be different. I made a quick change to the pattern for slanted front pockets, and just like that, I have a new summer skirt. (Definitely making this one in a couple more colors!)

The first version of this skirt, which will make my top ten list of projects for 2017, for sure.

So, to draft slanted front pockets, it’s as easy as drawing a line from the waistline to the side seam. You don’t want to come too far in on the waistline, and be careful to draw a line down to a point on the side seam that is neither too small nor too long. You want an opening that can accommodate your hand.

This is the front skirt pattern piece, before any changes. I came in from the waistline 1.5″, and drew a line approximately 8″ long, down to the side seam. (This is covered by the tape now, because I got ahead of myself and cut it off before taking a picture. Silly me.)

Then, draw the outline for your pocket. You couldn’t see my outline in the photo, so the blue line indicates where it is. My outline includes seam allowance of 1/4″.

Trace the outline you just drew, along with the waistline and side seams. This becomes the pocket itself, or entry/pocket pouch.

Then, the corner piece that was created when the entry point line was drafted gets cut off. Before doing this, add seam allowance. I always add 1/4″, because anything more will just get trimmed off.

Trace again for the pocket lining/backing piece.

This next step is important, especially if your skirt has design elements like pleats or gathers. In my case, there are four front pleats, so I folded them and taped them in place. Then, place your pocket pieces on top, matching at the side seams and adjust the waistline if necessary. This is called truing your pattern, and I needed to add about 1/8″ to my pocket pieces. It may not seam like much, but we always want matching pattern pieces so that nothing pulls or hangs in a weird way.

I always do this with the waistline facing me, which is why it may seem like this is upside down.

The arrow points to the small adjustment I made to the pocket so that it matched the waistline seam with the pleats folded.

With the pocket pieces taped in place, draw the grainline by marking a line parallel to center front.

Once the pieces are cut out, sew the lining pocket pieces to the skirt front.

Then, press the pocket lining away from the skirt. Then, fold it under the skirt, press, and topstitch.

Topstitched:

Now the pocket gets sewn to the pocket lining. Sew all the way around, then serge. You can also pink or use bias binding if you don’t have a serger. Or, if you’re feeling extra couture-y, cut these with a bigger seam allowance and sew the pockets together with a French seam. Press.

Sewn and serged:

Next, baste the pocket to the side seam

Then, serge the side seams of your skirt.

Sew the side seams and press open.

Finish the skirt as you normally would. The finished pocket will look like this:

Because this skirt isn’t lined, I used a little bias tape along the edge of the waistband lining. It’s certainly not necessary and it doesn’t serve any purpose, but it’s a nice detail that finishes that edge nicely. I sewed it to the waistband lining along the seam allowance and then hand sewed it along the waistline seam.

I’ve made quite a few skirts with slanted front pockets, and I’m excited to make a couple more for summer. I think a denim version is a must, as is a great basic like khaki or white. These three skirts are my own design, the ‘Louisa’ skirt.