Eagle jacket twice, for luck

Cream Eagle jacketThe centerpiece “topper” of my boho wardrobe was going to be a faux suede swingy jacket, made with Vanessa Pouzet’s Eagle jacket pattern. I especially adored the fitted shoulders and little inset but with an easy shape. I could see it paired with dresses, tunics, and tops.

too tight first draftMy first mistake was the suede-like fabric I picked up from JoAnn’s. It doesn’t stretch, hangs stiffly and it doesn’t press, but I loved the texture! So I forged ahead. The jacket is fully lined and put together in a very interesting way, making it rather impossible to try on during construction to test the fit. And I don’t make muslins. Well…

It was quite a bit too big when I finally got it put together, and since the fabric has very little drape, it exacerbated the fit problems. It looked terrible on. So I ripped it apart and made adjustments. But then I was overzealous in my adjustments, and still didn’t like how the fabric hung. The pic in the mirror is after my alterations — the shoulder is too tight and it is pulling at my bust. It did not feel comfortable at all.

Vanessa Pouzet eagle jacketSo I just made a whole new one, this time out of cream velour. Ha ha ha, velour! I found this piece thrift shopping and thought I would make something for one of my girls with the soft, stretchy fabric, because I think we all agree that velour is past its prime as a real apparel fabric. But no! This fabric turned out to be the exact fabric I should have started this journey with. I love how comfortable this is, how snug I could get the sleeves and how I can push them up, and how the back swings. It all worked out beautifully. I lined it in some nude tricot, which isn’t the cutest, sexiest lining, but it is invisible and retained the stretch of the velour.

Pouzet eagle jacket sleeveI especially like how the sleeve embroidery stands out on the textured nap. The thread is gold to match the gold leather insets, but reads pretty subtle. I guess that the subtlety is fine, since in this outfit I do have gold on my T-shirt, boots, earrings and fingernails. Too much? Perhaps I should move to Vegas.

velour eagle jacketI refuse to believe that the universe is telling me to make muslins. Since it all worked out in the end, I choose to believe that I could not have avoided all that pain, I just had to work through it while ruining $40 worth of fabric and lining so I could get to the result that in total cost me about $7.

eagle jacket outfitI love my new jacket and will take pictures of the outfits I pull together. This success motivates me to finish those other pieces I’ve planned to go with it, so stay tuned!

Side of vanessa eagle jacketMost important points:

  • The suede cloth at Joann’s is perhaps not the best apparel fabric, and certainly not for this pattern. But velour is where it is at! No wonder I wore velour tracksuits so much 10 years ago.
  • Got to have some fun with those embroidery stitches on my Brother embroidery machine. I don’t use that machine often, so it was fun.
  • A cream jacket is just the thing to pull my (to be sewn) summer wardrobe together, and the Eagle jacket shape is really fun!

eagle jacket shoulder detail

Simply a tank dress with McCall’s 6559

M6559 dress top frontThis is the kind of project that I usually dismiss from my project list. It was simple, it was fast, I learned no skills, I paired no fabrics. But I have been drowning in a sea of huge goals lately. My wardrobe plan for the Pattern Review Wardrobe contest was very involved. Of course I love to push myself for contests, but the fact that I only finished 3 items (one turned out to be a wadder) and started one more reveals the unrealistic hopes I had.

M6559 jersey dressMy sewing philosophy is thus: Why sew items that I can readily buy in the store? I am not a hard to fit size and I can go purchase items I need. I sew for the creative outlet, the challenge of skill, and to play with pretty fabric! The question of why do you sew is such an interesting one; I will certainly be exploring it more in my upcoming podcast!

M6559 jersey maxiBut I was suddenly struck with a thought. I could just sew up a dress quickly (still carefully, of course) and perhaps finish it all in one Sew Sunday. That would feel so great! I’ve had this really lovely, soft jersey for a couple years and I wondered if it would make a good tank dress. Spoiler alert – it did!

M6559 SideThe McCall’s 6559 is a great basic pattern. I cut a size 10, which 2 sizes smaller than my measurements, and brought up the neckline by about an inch. Then I simply basted it together at the shoulders and side seams, after I staystitched the neckline and armholes so they wouldn’t stretch out. I tried it on, adjusted the fit so there was just a little more room in the tummy area so I wouldn’t have to suck it in, and then took it to the serger. I also left about 18 inches open at each side for walking and I really like how that turned out.

M6559 tank dressThe neckline and armholes are finished with fold over elastic. I recently tried this on a knit dress I made for my daughter and I love how smooth and strong the edges are. On a dress of this length, it is very easy for the neckline to get stretched out as it holds all the weight of the long fabric. This finish helps keep it snug, and I love the contrast. It was the only detail I added to the dress, too, which I think showed so much restraint! A special thank you to my Instagram friends who helped me decide on an elastic color! I loved getting your help.

McCall's 6559 frontHere’s the bullet points:

  • Just a soft, comfortable tank dress. 2 pattern pieces. Very easy. Against my nature.
  • Cut a 10, but added a little room by taking a smaller seam allowance in the tummy
  • Fold over elastic is a smooth, strong finish to the neckline and armholes, helping them keep their shape as they hold up the long, heavy jersey dress

Chambray wings & feathers aloft on M6605

m6605 outfitHere is my lovely summer top, McCall’s 6605, made from special thrifted feather chiffon and lightweight chambray. I enjoyed swishing around in this Easter weekend and I know I will wear it all summer. But I had a long journey to reach the land of effortless summertime boho chic.

m6605 as draftedArgh! This pattern! I love this kind of flowy top, with interesting details thrown in. I liked the rendering of View A with the contrasting yoke. But I’ve been around the sewing block and I was certain that I didn’t want to make a button placket out of chiffon, nor deal with that fiddly neckline piece.

So the chambray idea took shape, and this particular piece of chambray is soft but not very drapey. Therefore, the top as drafted ended up looking like a clown shirt with wings! The cut on sleeves stuck out ridiculously, and even though I had gone down my usual 2 sizes in McCall’s, the billowing of the bottom chiffon was out of control. Not to mention the back dipped hem reached halfway to my knees.

McCalls 6605 blouseI had hemmed it early so I could insert my finished hem edges into the placket, so all of these issues were not going to be easily fixed. I stomped my foot and threw the whole thing into the corner for over a month.

M6605 backFinally I calmed down and got out the scissors. I shaved 1.5 inches from each sleeve and 2.5 inches from the sides of the chiffon. I also cut 4 inches off the back hem so the hi-lo was much more pleasing.

M6605 top in chiffonIn the end, I learned that chambray doesn’t drape like chiffon over the shoulders (surprise!) but perseverance and the strong desire to save my precious feather fabric resulted in quite a cute and wearable top.

McCalls 6605 blouse sideBullet points of note:

  • No one wants to do a neckline and button placket in chiffon, but my choice of chambray had unexpected consequences at the sleeves
  • Made 2 sizes smaller than measurements, but still had to cut 1.5″ off sleeve wings and 2.5″ off side billows.
  • The sheerness of the bottom chiffon evens out the voluminous nature of the top, but the chambray makes it wearable without an under layer.
  • Yes, those buttons just happened to be in my stash. When serendipity smiles on me like that, it strengthens my resolve to stash more, more, more!
  • This cute top is part of my summer boho wardrobe plan that is slowly, slowly inching forward.McCalls 6605 top

Room for pockets in a tulip skirt!

Simplicity 2451 skirtThis is not a ground breaking post or anything but I’m just posting a quick project that I made in January. Pictures and this review were postponed because as soon as I finished it for the Pattern Review pattern stash contest, in which you were supposed to sew up a pattern you’ve been holding onto for at least 6 months, I decided that I hated my zipper application. I thought it was fine, I thought I could live with it, but no. It had to come completely out and be totally redone. In the end, the zipper looks great, so I don’t think I was just being a crazy perfectionist – it was a worthwhile thing to do. No one wants to be worrying about how their zipper looks down the center of their bum!

Simplicity 2451 skirtI have a well well well worn cream colored skirt that I love because of its curved but loose shape and abundance of pockets. I believe I’ve owned it for 8 years and I trot it out every summer. It is so good, comfortable, neutral, but still a cute skirt. Well, it is not going to last another summer here, since the summer here is 8 months long. I had to make a replacement. This is my new favorite skirt!

S 2451 skirtThe fabric is a nice heavy bottomweight I found in the LA fashion district that I thought was perfect for pants. It has a bit of stretch and holds its shape very well. No clinging, which is imperative! That is part of the joy of the big pocket skirt. Those front pleats give me belly room, and allow for plenty of space to actually place items into the awesome pockets.

To cut down on cling even further, I added a lining. It has a nice brushed silky texture and it makes the skirt seem so much more substantial. It will help the outer fabric from stretching out and it helps prevent wrinkling. I used to never want to bother making a lining, but now I am all about it! This skirt was super easy to line, too. Just cut skirt pieces out of the lining and insert it into the yoke when you are sewing that up.  I handsewed it down along the zipper. Well worth that little extra effort.

Simplicity tulip skirtI spent a bit of time on a neat back vent because I cut out the longer length. Casual comfortable never means a skirt that is too short! But I ended up cutting it off to the shorter length anyway. Keeping it above the knee was essential because the fabric plus lining made it quite stiff. It would be very bunchy to walk with all that around my knees. I also stabilized the pocket openings with seam tape because I know from experience that those diagonal seams will stretch out as I laden the pockets with heavy items like phones and elephants and things.

Simplicity skirt from frontBut that great stable fabric is why it holds its shape so nicely and I love this fun tulip shape. I’ve seen more exciting Tulip skirt patterns that I may try in the future, but the Simplicity 2451 is very wearable, easy to make, and turned out simply cute!Simplicity 2451 in cotton lycra


Sew it Chic Monthly – March

Sew it Chic first saturdaysWhat an amazing month of link-ups in February! You guys are really stepping up your game! My list of pattern “needs” keeps growing and growing and growing…

masha1This month I am featuring Masha from Itinerant Seamstress. Last month she made 2 Mabel skirts and shared her struggles with getting everything just right, and we all know that the biggest challenge of working with knits is the differences in stretch and recovery between cuts of fabric. I thought they both looked great, and you guys must have too, since it was the most clicked link this month.

Here are Masha’s answers to the usual questions. I found her answer to the last question very reassuring, as lately I’ve had so little time to sew, and I find that even if I have a few minutes here or there, I won’t sit down and do it because I know I’ll be interrupted soon. But this month I will just sit down and get a thing or two going, even with the threat of interruption looming. It will still be some sewing, and that is what I love to do!

Masha said:

My favorite thing about sewing:

These days, when my girls see a dress in a store or a catalog, they ask “Can you sew that for me, Mama?” Not, “Can you buy me that?” but “Can you sew it for me?” I love that. I also love deciding that I need a new skirt and having it in my hot little hands two hours later. (This is also my favorite thing about having a fabric stash).

My least favorite thing about sewing:

Tracing patterns and cutting fabric. I have made my peace with pressing fabric and seams – I even enjoy it now. But I still have no patience for pattern tracing and only slightly more patience for cutting fabric. I routinely rush through cutting, which results in wasted time later when my notches don’t line up. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now.

masha2The most recent thing I’ve learned about sewing:

That it’s possible to finish a garment sewing only in 10-minute increments. My husband had a stroke last summer and sewing time was scarce in my house for quite some time. When I did begin finding time, it was only in little snippets – literally 10-20 minutes at a time. I would often get called away mid-seam, and it was really frustrating to have to step away. But ultimately, I found myself taking more care with my seam finishes and my pressing because I knew I wasn’t going to finish anything during that particular sewing session anyway. And garments still got made. Now, my husband is easing back into work, and life is returning to normal. Though homeschooling and taking care of four little people does cut into my sewing time considerably, I don’t think I will ever again complain about having “no time to sew.”

And now the link up and just a few rules:

  • Women’s garments only
  • Made or blogged in the past month only – to avoid reposts.
  • The party is open about a month, until the last day of that month.
  • You don’t have to blog to join in! Link up your Pattern Review, your Kollabora project or even an Instagram pic. I know there are so many lovely things made that we never see because not everyone is crazy enough to blog. I also have one person who emails me the pictures so I can get them up here.

Optional additional ideas:

  • If you are on a blogging platform that supports links, please link back to www.grayallday.com by using the Sew it Chic button in the sidebar, or just a simple mention in the text of your post. That way more people will find the party!
  • Look around and share a comment or 2 with a neighbor. I don’t mind admitting that I savor blog comments as much as new lights in my sewing room. They are encouraging and build community.
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Wild! Animal print Inari Dress

IMG_2044I don’t always enjoy sewing very simple patterns like the Named Inari Dress, but the truth is, I really enjoy wearing them. As far as my goal of crafting a wearable warm weather wardrobe (alliteration!) that I feel great in, I know I should make more of these pieces. Example: my Kate top. I’m almost finished with my 2nd and have 3 more fabrics set aside.

Named Inari T-dress 1I made a fun muslin out of blue and ladybug knit to check the fit. If I made this pattern out of a knit again I would go down a size, but the muslin told me that my woven fabric will drape really well and it turned into a cute nightgown that is sorely needed. But I don’t think I want to make this out of a knit; the beauty is I can use my lovely drapey special woven fabrics that need a blank canvas to shine. The only change I made was to scoop out the neckline just a little more. The length was just right, so be warned if you are shorter than average. I am 5’9″ for reference.

Named Inari dressSo I made it out of animal print metallic linen! Look at the sheen on this baby. Delicious! But if you have ever worked with any metallic fabrics before, you’ll know they have a rough quality that will eventually affect the comfort of the garment.

Inari dress liningI am especially sensitive around the neck, so I chose to line it from the neck down in a silky lining that I thrifted. Of course it is carefully understitched so it lays flat and does not show. If you are not making a self facing it is essential to get that right. IMG_2053. I only had a little over a yard of the lining but it worked out perfectly for this project.

Inari sleevesWith the set in sleeves and turned back cuffs I didn’t bother lining the little sleeves. I just serged the lining into the armscythe seams.

Inari dressI hemmed the lining to be just short of the side slits, but I can see in these pictures (always a great way to see the flaws of a garment, eh?) that the lining still peeks out a little. I guess I’ll go back to shorten that lining hem. I was trying to be very precise, but I think when the lining hangs independantly it can droop a little.

I recommend this pattern wholeheartedly. The details are just right and I think the angled seams give the dress a great shape that is much more than just a elongated rectangle. I will admit that both my sister-in-law and my husband both immediately asked if I was going to wear a belt with it? Um, no. I want to let my stomach pooch free! I don’t tend to wear dresses much, but this kind of dress makes me feel comfortable.

Named Inari T-dress 2So this dress is another win. I have quite a few cuts of fabric that I have been saving for just this kind of pattern. I guess my wardrobe will now consist of Camas blouses, Liana Stretch jeans, Morris blazers, Kate tops and Inari dresses. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect skirt pattern and shorts pattern. Suggestions welcome!

I see the gratification in making a well beloved pattern over and over again, though I’ve always thought that was a boring path for me to sew. I’m wondering if I make a bunch more of these patterns, I should take on the challenge of bra making to spice things up? And I do have my top 10 patterns to try list to work through. But I’m sure one of my favorite pattern designers will come out with some more irresistible projects I’ll need to jump on, even as I know the patterns I have are TNTs. Like those new Papercut Pattern Starboard jeans!


A boho inspired wardrobe plan for summer

It’s time for the Pattern Review wardrobe contest and I’m jumping in again!

Last year I had a great time creating my gold and blue wardrobe and I continue to wear those items all the time. I just love this kind of creative push, especially with a deadline to keep me on track.

This year’s contest requires a total of 10 pieces; 1 topper that must match all items, at least 2 tops and at least 2 bottoms. This is great because you have 5 free choice items and you can choose what you and your wardrobe need more of…more tops to go with neutral bottoms? Or do you love dresses? It really opens up the possibilities.

I decided to start with a concept, just like a designer collection. Don’t you love to play designer in your home sewing studio? Such fun! My theme, my vibe, is “Modern Boho”. This will be my spring/summer wardrobe, and it is a style that will be fun to sew and is easy to wear in the heat of my first summer here in California.

Continue reading

Tessuti Kate Top is a winner, even as a muslin

Tessuti Kate Top 1I hate making muslins. I really do. If I make a muslin out of an ugly fabric while only sewing up the seams to check for fit, I never get the desired outcome. I know my skill at fitting is not advanced, so I cannot tell from those kinds of garments where to adjust, unless it is something easy and obvious, like length. But I don’t have to make a muslin to check for length, I can just hold the paper pattern up to my body or use a measureing tape. What seems to happen is I will make a pattern (not a muslin) and during the course of wearing it, the tweaks and adjustments needed make themselves known to me. Does anyone else do it this way? Continue reading

My dream job…sewing on a Bernina

Wouldn’t it be amazing to be a Bernina Ambassador?

I have always sewn on Berninas, except for a short time in college after I moved away. My mother has a Bernina 830 Record that she bought shortly after I was born. I learned to sew on it. It is a wonderful, reliable machine.

2 Bernina 830 RecordWhen I went away to college, I could only go a few months before I realized that a sewing machine was a necessity. I don’t remember what kind of a machine I bought, but it was about $100 (a lot of money to me!) and I was glad to have something.

But actually, it sewed very badly. It skipped stitches, the bobbin thread nested, all kinds of annoying problems. I fell out of love with sewing and didn’t sew for a few years. Then, when I was 23, my mom gave me her Bernina 830. Wait — what? Why? Because she had replaced hers with….another Bernina 830. That’s right, she bought the same machine again, used, but still the exact same model. You see, she is a professional seamstress, and on the occasion of her machine being in the shop she was unable to work, so she needed another one. Then, hahaha, she bought another another one! When she had collected 2 backup machines, she ceremoniously gifted me the original beauty as a very meaningful and loving heirloom.

I love that Bernina 830 Record so much and use it constantly, so I recently bought my own backup! It was a very lucky find on Craigslist! This means that my mom has 2 and I have 2. And we live 6 houses away from each other! So on our block, we are armed and ready for any sewing related emergencies. Don’t even get me started on how many Babylocks we have…

What I’m saying is that I kind of already feel like I’m a Bernina Ambassador, at least for my vintage machine. I love it so fiercely.

BERNINA-facebook-fullbleedBut, I do want to point out that Bernina and Kollabora are looking for new BERNINA Ambassadors. And with that lucky position comes the chance to sew on a new Bernina for an entire year! I can only imagine with the new models are like. I have not even taken a peek at the amazing features of them because I’m sure I would create a need! The temptation would be very real.

Take a look at Kollabora to get more info on becoming one of the We All Sew content creators. I threw my hat in the ring for this amazing opportunity, but I know there are quite a few talented seamstresses out there who would like creating projects for all skill levels, from DIY fashion to home decor.

Head over to Kollabora to read more…and good luck to you!

Sew it Chic Monthly – February

Sew it Chic first saturdays

sewing roomYes, this post is going up a day late, but I have a really great (sewing related!) reason. In the new house my sewing room is a huge 25 ft by 12 ft space with 4 windows. It is amazing, except one little problem…no lights. No overhead lights at all. This seems to be a common thing here. None of the bedrooms, the living, family room or office have overhead lights. We’ve been buying lamps like crazy to get enough light to do anything at night around here. And since I have a job and 2 daughters, my main sewing time opportunity is after 8pm, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. Well, my amazing husband learned how to install lights last month and has put lights in all 6 of the upper floor rooms and now my sewing room. He had to turn off the power to do it, so I couldn’t post on Saturday. But it was all worth it and you should expect to see my output shoot through the roof! Woohoo!

The lovely Michelle

The lovely Michelle

Our featured seamstress this month is Michelle from That Black Chic. The denim skirt she posted was astounding! She even created matching boots! But really, I can’t be surprised by anything she does because her creations are so consistently amazing. Did you all see that she was included in the BurdaStyle Best of Blogging List? She is such an inspiration, so I was thrilled that she answered our Sew it Chic questions:

What is your motivation to sew?
TBC: At this point the fact that I get to share my work on this platform is what motivates me to sew. I am an artist and being able to share my art is awesome! Sometimes I’m a little tickled that so many people get what it is that I’m doing with my sewing. Also this is bonding time for me and my daughter who is my model for my blog.

That Blck Chic PotluckWhat is your favorite thing about sewing?
TBC: My favorite thing about sewing is knowing that at the end I will have made something with my hands. I love manipulating fabric into beautiful things…..well they are beautiful most of the times.

What is your least favorite thing about sewing?
TBC: Sewing! I know you’re scratching your head right now but let me explain. I know a lot of people LOVE to sew and some even use this as their method of relaxation. I know how to sew and I and really good at it, because I worked hard learning the craft at a young age. I challenge myself by learning new techniques as often as possible but seriously for me sewing can be a chore. I think it is necessary that I go through the making process of putting a garment together to understand what it takes to create but if I could pay someone to sew up my ideals I would. I don’t think I’m the only person out here sewing who feels this way……….am I?

That Black Chic 2What is the most recent thing you’ve learned about sewing?
TBC: I’m on a sleeve kick right now and I just made two dresses one with a Bishop sleeve and the other with a bell sleeve. I found a lot of sleeves out there that I never attempted so I may continue and make some other sleeves that I found. I am also just starting to explore sewing books, any suggestions on which book to start with?

Thank you, Michelle, for giving us an insight into your process and giving us a chance to admire your work!


And now the link up and just a few rules:

Women’s garments only
Made or blogged in the past month only – to avoid reposts.
The party is open about a month, until the last day of that month.
You don’t have to blog to join in! Link up your Pattern Review, your Kollabora project or even an Instagram pic. I know there are so many lovely things made that we never see because not everyone is crazy enough to blog. I also have one person who emails me the pictures so I can get them up here.

Optional additional ideas:

If you are on a blogging platform that supports links, please link back to www.grayallday.com by using the Sew it Chic button in the sidebar, or just a simple mention in the text of your post. That way more people will find the party!
Look around and share a comment or 2 with a neighbor. I don’t mind admitting that I savor blog comments as much as new lights in my sewing room. They are encouraging and build community.

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