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.

Hazelburn Dress

I’ve had Colette Pattern’s Hazel Dress in my stash for awhile. I bought this red/blue seersucker fabric from Fabric Depot in Summer 2014 with that pattern in mind, but it never happened. So this summer when I decided I needed a sundress to wear to Pie Hard at Ecliptic Brewing, I had everything I needed.hazelburn-1

Well…except an adjusted pattern. I knew that this bodice was not going to to work for me straight out of the envelope. So I did a 1 inch FBA to the bodice front.  Then I had to adjust the length of all of the other pattern pieces. I also added one inch to the top of the front because I read that on bustier women it was a little low cut. On the side front I tapered that from 1 inch to nothing at the side seam so that the back remained the same.

Hazel AdjustmentsBased on reading other reviews on this pattern, I also widened the straps so they would cover my bra straps. Since I had a print-at-home pattern I had decided to forgo printing the giant rectangle that is the skirt, and just cut it out with my quilting ruler. However once I sewed it, my belief that gathered skirts are not flattering on me was confirmed.  But I had an idea!hazelburn-4I really love the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt and the Sewaholic Lonsdale dress, which basically is a Hollyburn skirt with a bodice sewn on. So I grabbed my Hollyburn pattern pieces and set to making it work. I removed the pockets, because I feel like the style lines didn’t work with the angled seams of the Hazel bodice. I should go back and add side pockets, because EVERYTHING NEEDS POCKETS!

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I adore the result of my frankenpatterning! In my Hazelburn dress I have a unique bodice that fits perfectly and a fun, flirty skirt. I love the way this looks. The seersucker is a great fabric for this pattern since it highlights all the bias cutting and looks cool in the half-circle skirt.

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I did not have an appropriate length zipper, so I put in a way too long invisible zipper. I should go back and shorten that at some point. I have plenty of time before next summer, right?  I also love this little red bobble button I used to fasten the back. I made small fabric loop for the closure and I think it’s darling. Little details are the best!

Happy Halloween from Roxy

Many years ago, my friends and I dressed up as the Misfits for an 80’s Party. Not the punk band, but the amazing cartoon band from Jem and the Holograms. I was Roxy and making her costume was really hard! Unlike Pizzazz and Stormer, Roxy’s outfit is very specific fabrics. She has a fuzzy/eyelash purple top and metallic spray painted pants. This was impossible to find at the time.

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A few years later I was in Joann’s around Halloween and found the perfect fabric for Roxy’s pants. So I bought a few yards. That fabric has sat in my stash for years and I figured with the new terrible Jem movie that just came out, this costume is as relevant as its every going to be! So I started off using the Cigarette Pants pattern from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, then I used some other pants patterns that fit to adjust the crotch curve.
IMG_3290The resulting pants were ok, but the legs were to wide and I couldn’t really bend my knees. Also, the fabric I had is flannel backed and the metallic printing on the front was flaking off everywhere but especially in the crotch area. Eek!

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So I put them to the side and started focusing on my top.  I found this purple eyelash fabric on fabric.com. It’s metallic which isn’t really accurate but it was the best and cheapest thing I could find.

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I used the shirt pattern 403 from Burda Plus A/W 2012.  Leaving off one sleeve of course! This actually fits pretty well so I may make it out of a normal fabric too!

Next up was the belt, so I was off to Joann’s. It was during lunchtime a few days before Halloween, so of course it was insanely busy. Let me give you a tip – whenever you are buying fabric go to the cutting counter and check what number is in the dispenser and what number they care cutting. If it’s over 10, definitely take a number. That gives you about 15-20 minutes to shop.

IMG_3284Anyway, while wandering around looking for the faux leather I came across the performance fabrics section. There I spotted a pretty good looking fabric for my pants! I wasn’t intending to buy more fabric, but when I spotted this spandex I knew it would take me less time to whip up a pair of leggings than to try to fix my flaking pants. So I grabbed it. It was thankfully not on sale so I was able to use a coupon to get it down to $8.50/yd. I used the Cake Patterns Espresso leggings to make the final pants. This is a TNT legging pattern for me so I knew I could make them really quickly.

Finally I got over by the home decor and spotted the vinyl and they had a yellowy green that would work perfectly for my belt. It was $20/yd but also not on sale and I only needed 1/4 yard so it was $2.50!  While looking for something to fasten my belt, I came across an unknown brand that had magnetic snaps and studs that were around $3. Since they only required cutting a slit into the vinyl, I picked up a set of magnetic snaps and some rounded studs to finish my belt.

Practicing my snarl with my friend Mary

Practicing my snarl with my friend Mary

The finishing touches on my costume were the wig and makeup.  I got this white wig from Amazon for $15 and it’s quite nice. I had to cut it a bit to get the style right, then I teased and sprayed it into submission.  For makeup, I picked up a $3 Revolution Orange lipstick at Ulta. Everything else I had. My lipstick is MAC Vegas Volt.