Jem & the Holograms Costumes

On Saturday my friend and I raced in the 19th Annual PDX Soapbox Derby in our Jem & the Holograms themed car. It was a glittery pink guitar.

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Our sponsor, Pine Crest Fabrics, let us loose on their remnant bin. We managed to find a ton of jems..I mean gems..in there! The only costume we didn’t find great fabric for was mine. There were only scraps of the sparkly stretch velvet, so I grabbed the kind pukey mauve fabric and a sparkly black mesh and figured I would, as Tim Gunn says, “make it work.”

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I was crossing my fingers that there was some nylon in there so I could dye it..and there was. Yay!

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I hacked the Cashmerette Concord tee into this dress.  First I lengthened it into a dress and cut out the front and back in my purple fabric. Then I cut the front into 1″ strips below the bottom of the neckline and spaced them out by 1″ – essentially doubling the length.

I did a wide zigzag over 1/4″ black elastic along the center front and about 3/4″ from each side seam. I basted the ruched front piece to the purple front piece and sewed it together to the back as one. Then I pulled the elastic out of the sides, but left the center elastic in. This let me adjust the gathers to where they were more flattering. I added on the purple velvet sleeves – you’ll see sparkly velvet on all of our costumes. I liked the unfinished edges so the only finishing I did was turning up the bottom hem. This ended up being way more flattering than I expected.

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For Jem’s dress I used pink sparkly velvet and the full skirted option on New Look 6301. Because the velvet was thick I sewed the neckline and sleeve finishes as bands. I made the belt from some faux leather from Joann. 

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For Aja’s costume we only had a small piece of that awesome metallic print for her skirt. So I drafted a skirt with an aqua velvet yoke/waistband to maximize it. I used Cation Design’s free Dolman Sleeve top for a starting point, but I omitted the sleeves,  removed the bottom band and shortened the length, and widened the neckline.

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Cimberly made herself an awesome Kimber costume. She found a basic white blazer at a thrift store and removed the lining and replaced the back piece with tails cut from an awesome blue sequined fabric. She also added hot pink ruffles to a tshirt and made an asymmetric skirt from royal blue sparkly velvet.IMG_5091

To unify our look, aside from that sparkly velvet accents, we all wore leggings. I made everyone’s leggings using Cake Patterns Espresso leggings. Everyone was stoked to have custom fit leggings made for them. I love that they are so quick and easy to make.

IMG_7139Cimberly and I also covered some helmets with holo glitter so we would be extra blinding in our races.  Oh…and we built our car too! Want to see how our race went? Watch our video!

It was a really fun day despite it being ridiculously hot! Everyone loved our car and tons of little girls wanted to take photos with us, which we loved as the only all women team in the derby. My only gripe is that the team who won best costumes had store bought costumes (Elvis, Spiderman, mermaid). It’s always disappointing in any sort of costume contest when the judges don’t take into consideration that some costumes are handmade.

Springfield Tank

Cashmerette has a new pattern out – the Springfield Top. It’s a woven tank pattern with options for a closer fitting princess seamed back or a looser back version.  I’ve been wanting some sleeveless tops to wear to work so I bought it as soon as I got the email.  This pattern got printed and assembled right away – I love trimless patterns! Then I just had to find some fabric.

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This pattern requires 2 yards + of fabric if you’re using 44″. That seems like a lot for a tank top.  Most of my stashed fabrics for tops are 1.5 yards and the rest are 3 yards for dresses. I ended up biting the bullet and pulling this Moda lawn I had purchased in January 2015. I figured if I was really going to make a dress out of it I would have done it by now!

I opted not to cut the bias binding for the neckline and armholes and use premade bias tape. Luckily earlier that day I had scored a massive bag of bias tape and seam binding at an estate sale for $4.  By not using my fabric for the bias tape, I managed to get this cut out of around 1.5 yards of fabric! So there is hope for using this for some of my stashed top fabrics.

I opted for the looser version and it went together very quickly.  I had some issues with my neckline sticking out but judicious ironing and clapper application got it to settle down. The only issue I had with the pattern is some gaping in the back neckline. I asked Jenny if this was intentional since I noticed the same thing in some of her own Springfield photos. She replied back that this pattern includes a forward shoulder adjustment and if you didn’t need it then your back might gape. Bingo!  If I slouch my shoulders forward then it sits flat. So I just need to remember to make this adjustment to the pattern. Who knew having good posture would cause such problems! 🙂

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My gripe is that $14 seems a little pricey for such a basic digital pattern. The version I made was literally 3 pattern pieces and could have been 2.  I get that Big 4 companies charge the same for every pattern, but that doesn’t matter when I can get them for $2. I would really like to see independent pattern makers adjust their pricing models to reflect the effort that went into creating a pattern.

Thalia’s Baptism Gown

One of my closest friends, Alexis,  has a daughter named Thalia.  I was honored when she asked her to be Thalia’s godmother and I offered to make little T’s baptism gown.   Fun fact – Alexis and I bonded over the fact that we are both half-Armenian, but we actually met volunteering at a snowboarding event for families of 9-11 firefighters.

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Thalia with her parents and godparents

I have never made anything like this but I dove right into. Luckily Alexis gave me free reign on the design of the dress and I wanted to do something really special! I picked up a used copy of Martha Pullen’s Grandmothers Hope Chest at Powells to get some ideas. This book is a great reference for a lot of heirloom sewing techniques! Sadly the copy I bought didn’t have the patterns in it.

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There are not tons of patterns for christening gowns available, so I bought Simplicity 2457. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but it gave me a good starting point. I had the pattern and I knew I wanted to use a lot of heirloom sewing on this gown like insertion lace, pintucks and swiss embroidery.  I also had to find fabric. Heirloom batiste is incredibly expensive and I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on materials.  Luckily I live in Portland where fabric stores are plentiful!

My first stop was the Button & Ribbon Emporium in downtown Portland. They have a small selection of French insertion laces, Swiss embroideries and entredeux. I bought some floral insertion lace, but I wasn’t loving any of their Swiss embroideries.  So my next stop was Fabric Depot. The bridal/fancy fabrics department was extremely helpful in selecting fabrics. They didn’t have any fancy batiste but I was very happy with my fabrics. I bought Kaufman Radiance Cotton/Silk in Satin White for the dress and Kaufman Vanessa Silky Cotton for the slip.

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I also ventured over to the trims and found that Fabric Depot does carry a few heirloom sewing trims! They had a Swiss Embroidery that I liked so I bought it. Supplies – done!

I also wanted to get a pintuck foot for my Viking 350. I have secretly wanted one of these for years but I haven’t ever had a real reason to use it…but now I did! Lastly, in the 17 years I have owned my sewing machine I have never had it in for tuning, so I decided this was a good time.

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So with fabric, trims, pintuck foot, and freshly serviced sewing machine I was ready to sew.  This seems very complicated, but honestly it wasn’t that hard or long to make with some heirloom sewing tricks. The pintuck foot is awesome! You only need to mark one line and then that first pintuck is used as a guide for all of the other tucks. You just need a twin needle that works with your foot.

The lace was a little trickier, but I practiced piecing my laces together before I started on the dress. Using stitch in the ditch foot allows you to butt your laces or fabric together and get a nearly invisible join. The other key here is to use a fine needle and fine thread.

As you can see from the photos, I modified the pattern a bit. I changed the collar to a peter pan style. The pintucks and lace on the bodice and skirt are also my own design.  Because of the sheer, fine fabric I  French seamed the entire dress and slip. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t even think I could French seam the armscye until I tried it!

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French seams everywhere!!

The gown turned out beautifully and Alexis and her family loved it. Hopefully it’s an heirloom for their family for years to come! More photos below.

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A sweet little cap

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Bodice back details

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The simple slip


Dad’s Birthday Shirt

Last October was my Dad’s 70th birthday.  He was going on a cruise with my mom and my sister (and her husband). So I decided he needed a nice shirt. I totally stole this idea from Oonaballoona.

This is McCall’s 6932 which is the same pattern I used to make the Diamond Anniversary Shirts for Vanessa and Jeremy. However this is a pure linen instead of a linen blend for extra wrinkleyness!

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I have always wanted to play around with hemstitching, so I tracked down a winged needle. I went into a local sewing machine shop and asked for one and they had no idea what I was talking about. So I searched through the Schmentz needles until I found it and then explained what it was used for.

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My machine has 4 built in hemstitches and I tried all of them before deciding on this simple one. After I cut out the piece, I drew in 3 straight lines with washable marker and used them as my guide. I also used a lightweight thread.

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I actually bought white linen, but after I finished sewing the shirt I thought about my Dad and realized that white was going to be a terrible idea. So I tea dyed it! I steeped a bunch of Lipton tea bags in a big pot and threw in some salt and the shirt. Luckily I had used all cotton thread for my sewing and embroidery!  It took up dye very quickly.  I was intending to have it be a little lighter than this, but I like the way it turned out.
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Tea dying has some meaning too as my metz mama (my dad’s mom) used to tea dye things and it makes me think of her. I sent the shirt to my sister and asked her to give it to my Dad, but in the craziness of the baptism she forgot and they sailed away without it.  So I don’t have any tropical photos of him wearing it but I’m sure he’ll get to wear it this summer!

Morgan Boyfriend Jeans

Closet Case Files has just launched the Morgan Boyfriend Jean pattern so now I can finally talk about them! I was a pattern tester and since this pattern went through three rounds of testing I have a lot to say! These photos are of the first pair that I made, which was the second round of testing. I was on a deadline to finish them, so instead of using a contrasting thread for the topstitching I just used the same thread as I was using for the seaming. The result is a rather fancy looking boyfriend jean, which I really like! It’s fun to have something other than skinnies to wear going out and the rolled up legs work well with heels.

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As in almost every pair of pants I make, the legs are huge because they are graded up with the rest of the pattern and I have skinny legs. So I slimmed down the legs quite a bit from the hip down. I think as you get into the larger sizes you need a narrower leg otherwise they look baggy.  I also added an inch to the rise which I almost always do for pants to accommodate my curvy bum.

morganjean-3I did make a quickie pair of the final version that was basted together and some day I will take them apart and sew up them up properly with top stitching! I used a plain blue denim from Joann that will require a bit of distressing so they don’t look like dad jeans instead of boyfriend jeans.

morganjean-2If you’ve made the Ginger jeans then assembly will be quite familiar to you! The only big change here is the button fly and to be honest I will probably just do a zipper in any future pairs I like. I find button flys rather annoying and I’d rather insert a zipper than have to do 3 extra button holes. 🙂

I bought this fabric on Amazon – it’s 12-Ounce Indigo Pure Denim Fabric, 2 Yards by 68-Inch Wide, by Kaltex America.  It’s made by a Mexican denim mill and it’s a nice heavy weight. It’s pretty dark. I got it when it was under $22 but now it’s nearly $30.