Life, man. It gets away from a person.
I just HAD to share a new dress that I made for
my birthday Valentines Day the upcoming Joanna Newsom concert (March 29!!). I have some other projects that I have not yet shared in cyberspace, so let’s get reacquainted!
My 30th birthday was in December and I was toooootally confident I could finish this dress in time for my cocktail hour, which happened to be occurring in…two days. Can’t say I’m proud of rushing through one of the rare times I make myself a SILK DRESS. In the end, I had to wear another ensemble but REALLY HERE, I had cocktails to drink so whatever.
Plus, it has a cape-like thing on the back and that makes up for any mistakes. Such as, the not-great yoke attachment:
I’ve pressed it a few more times so it’s getting there, but for now, most people’s point of view will be here:
Not too bad, Brad. It also helps that the front doesn’t matter much, look at this BACK:
[of the dress]
Not my most creative work as far as deviating from the pattern illustration. Try to guess which version I made:
I wanted to add some contrast, so I lined the inside of what I’ll call the cape-doublet (Frenchified!) with a gray kimono silk print that is just so delicate and lovely, I had to work up the courage to use even the small bits for this.
The pattern had the cape just dangling in the wind, and I thought that was just asking for embarrassment (let’s say, a gust of wind throwing it into someone’s face. Most likely mine and yes I think about these things). I decided I’d cut the dress a few inches shorter than the cape and baste the ends to the raw hem of the dress. I cut out a lining with the front and back pieces, a few inches shorter than the dress. Attaching the lining along the hemline and basting the necklines together, the hem was lifted into place and the cape curved around it. It makes just a hint of a bubble hem and just a fun photo opportunity!
To keep with the no-hem theme, I cut out a mirror-image sleeve and folded it over into a double-layer that I basted as one piece. In all likelihood, I’ll be very overdressed at the concert as Seattleites tend to wear North Face and jeans everywhere. But I like being overdressed, so I CAN’T WAIT.
I finished this last October or November when I was still working on my STOUT projects. I assume I never blogged about this one because…well it’s a skirt. It was easy, it has elastic, it has pockets and an attached tie belt. There.
I worked some pattern-mixing in. Both fabrics are very polyester stretch wovens, making them perfect for skirts (only way to keep things breathing).
I love the elastic panel across the back. The pattern includes options for pants and shorts, getting me closer to having the confidence to attempt pants or shorts again. Beginners: GET ON THIS PATTERN. You can do it!
I wish I had counted how many baby booties I’ve made in the last year. This is the only pair I crocheted. I’m currently on a shopping fast and am challenging myself to use what I already own instead of buying everything I think I need. I’m a firm believer that constraints make me more creative. But it doesn’t necessarily make things easier.
I almost went out and bought some new yarn, thinking I didn’t have anything that would work. I searched through my bits and pieces drawer (DIFFERENT from my yarn drawer!) and found these forgotten-about skeins: one is 100% cotton and the other is 100% silk. YES THAT BABY DESERVES SILK ON HER FEETS. I think the colors look great together and are not a combination that I would usually choose. See? More creative already.
There’s a sweet little Wednesday Addams-style dress I’m working on next. And about four saved drafts that I want to post. I suppose that means I’m back on blogging! Later!
My first Colette pattern! Considering I wrote a guest post on the Colette blog before ever having completed one of their designs, I’d say it’s about time.
I can see why people like them so much! Easy pattern, clear instructions, cute results! I needed a low-risk pattern for this luscious jersey knit I bought back in 2006 while I was studying in Paris, giving it sentimental value. I had juuuuust enough yardage (er… pardon, métrage) to cut out the Moneta, so any f-ups and I’d be an inconsolable heap on the floor.But I found success! I lengthened the waist by about an inch and took a bit out of each armhole and it fits like a glove. I might have been able to finish the entire thing in a weekend, but with the 90-degree days we’ve been having in Seattle, I can only handle so much time in my hot sewing room. Did the collar call for a 3/8″ seam allowance? I used the usual 5/8″ and it turned out a bit narrow, requiring occasional adjustment to keep it looking flat and neat. NBD.
I was hoping to learn how to use a double needle for the hem, but for the life of me, I could not get it to look right. Take a look at my practice scrap…If it looks like nothing but a jumbled mess to you, exactly. I changed the bobbin tension, upper thread tension, stitch length, pressure foot pressure and could not get that god damn tunneling effect to flatten out, no matter how many tutorials I went through. Almost every one mentioned the zigzag stitch as an alternative, with the caveat that it would make my garment “look handmade.” Why are we serious crafters so worried about our handmade items looking handmade? I USED A ZIGZAG AND MY DRESS LOOKS GREAT!
Here’s a secret (not really) for you: you can make the vest yourself with vintage Simplicity 9261 (figure out how to make the baskets by Googling “crochet baskets tutorial,” natch). Realized halfway through that if I had lined the white lining to make it less transparent, I could have made a reversible vest (DUH!!). Please take advantage of my lesson learned.
More important to me than having my own Etsy store/clothing line is to encourage people to just make stuff. The ability to make things with my hands feels so freeing from the constant temptation to buy buy BUY. Although some might argue that I’ve only concentrated my blatant consumerism to a particular interest (I did recently admit to having almost 400 sewing patterns), I do find it easier to keep my money in my pocket when I’m out shopping with friends when focusing on finding sewing inspiration, therefore giving less of my money to some rich homophobe and/or encouraging the cycle of exploitative labor. It’s my way of fighting for the Big Issues in my small, individual way.
That being said, I also feel that sometimes a person just wants to see what a garment looks like IRL before jumping in and sewing. In my fantasy world, I would be able to shop off the rack AND sewing patterns at the same time. WOULDN’T THAT BE AWESOME??!!! Imagine all the times you’ve tried something on and it fits great but is made from the most awful print. What if, next to the rack is the same pattern on sale so you can sew it up instead? The closest realization of this fantasy I could find is The Makehouse in Victoria, B.C. which holds a sewing pattern borrowing library and is making physical samples of the patterns for folks to thumb through (WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT??).
Basically, I just want to be transparent about how I make what I make. I’m a librarian by trade (if not in practice at the moment), and we’re all about the beauty of sharing. We’re also all about navigating fair use.
If you’re left wondering whether or not selling a vest made from a vintage Simplicity pattern is copyright infringement, I would argue that my decidedly non-legal but informed research shows it is not (at least in the States):
…copyright protection for the designs of useful articles is extremely limited. The design of a useful article is protected under copyright “only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”
– Statement of the United States Copyright Office before the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, Committee on the Judiciary http://www.copyright.gov/docs/regstat072706.html#N_13_
A more readable interpretation of patterns and copyright is provided by the University Libraries of the Ohio State University. I encourage you to read more if copyright fascinates you as much as it does me.
I just love making shit. It’s pretty much all I ever want to do. I love matching a fabric with a pattern or choosing a yarn or finding some cool beads at a thrift store. I love watching my hands create something useful and pretty. And I want to share that with as many people as possible, whether it’s through encouraging others to create for themselves or making something for someone else to enjoy. Sewing is way more important to me than selling. So, hopefully through Etsy and this blog I can give someone the motivation to start being a producer instead of simply a consumer. At the very least, I have a virtual space that allows me to just keep going about my nerdy endeavors.
After god knows how many cumulative years of experience making things with my hands, I am now FINALLY trying to capitalize on my “gifts.” JK– working this new seamstress job over at Wai-Ching has invigorated my creativity. I’ve feared that turning what I love into a job would make me start to hate what I love and really the opposite has happened. So I welcome you to my little etsy shop: JonnieAnnaliese. I’ll keep adding items about as haphazardly as I post to this blog. Please use ANNASFRIENDS for a 10% discount!
/shameless self promotion over
Here is my first finished project to be created under my previously invented STOUT tag (Sewing Things Only Using Tractables). As I start blossoming into a shacked up 30-year-old, I blossom into my midlife body as well. So I’m trying to spend the next few projects focusing on elastic waistlines, drawstrings, roomy ensembles, etc. that can follow me anywhere! Because what else am I going to do– cut down on beer? AHAHAHAHAHHHHAAAAAA YOU DON’T KNOW ME AT ALL
Anyway, this is a lovely buttery soft jersey from my last Fabric.com binge. I made the dress for a very stylish wedding I attended in LA a few weeks ago for a very stylish friend from grad school at a very stylish brewery in Glendale, where many guests consisted of stylish creatives so I really felt the best look I could hope for is “fits and is comfortable.” Luckily, in more casual situations, I can definitely pass for stylish. Or, with the right stilettos, a well-educated suburban principal on her way to church. I haven’t stopped creating dress personas since I finished The Secret Lives of Dresses.
Construction could not have been easier. The fraternal twin pieces of the lining and the fabric are sewn together for the elastic casing (no need for silly fabric casings!). I realize details aren’t easily seen through the lens of a blog, but the reason I think this is a STOUT staple is because the casing is placed low on the dress so you can hike it up to where it sits comfortably on you and the bodice will drape over the casing to conceal the elastic. Nice touch, McCalls!
I use my serger on knits as much as I can since I don’t like the stretch stitches on my regular machine, but the hem is hand sewn. For anyone interested in sewing with knits, this would make a great beginner pattern.
The tricky part was my original idea to add pockets. Now I have to file it away in my sewing memory database that slippery knits make slippery pockets. The pockets were a constant burden as they were never really IN the dress and would often fall out with my hand. Maybe it’s the dark taupe color of the fabric or the way I just described it but, there was something about the pockets that reminds one of certain gratuitously ill-lighted anatomy slides.
I just didn’t want to have to keep adjusting a sloppy pocket on each hip. What girl would?
You can see my new pocket-free confidence shine through.
On a final note, I just love to include little tidbits about my photographer/stylist/muse/stinkface. A few months ago, on the way to something or other, Emily wondered out loud When am I going to see some snails? As night fell and we were walking home, I said “Maybe you’ll see a sna—” CRUNCH. Emily hadn’t exactly seen it, but instead can say she’s stepped on a snail. Which is something I cannot allege. After taking this post’s photos (ON LOCATION OUTSIDE MY APARTMENT BUILDING), I saw a snail in the garden and Emily yelled “SHOW ME WHERE IT IS” before she would walk through so she didn’t step on it. He survived.
Before I get started, I want to let y’all know I recently did a tongue-in-cheek guest post titled How to Prevent DIY Anxiety for Coletterie. Welcome, new readers! And thanks to Sarai for taking a chance on a little-known vanity blogger. I’ll let the conversation on that piece continue on Coletterie because today I wanted to talk about the chubs. I feel so cliché when I talk about my weight. I also find it next to impossible to actually just talk about my weight without advice, reiterated diet myths, or being told I’m not fat as if that was all I was looking for (I realize it’s well-intentioned). It is of course, not the end of life as I know it. I realize I’m still the person I am, no matter what size. I’m also not a lazy public health crisis. I don’t feel unattractive to my partner or ugly. I do admit being humbled when, as a thinner person, I extolled the virtues of confident double-digit-sized women, and then find myself thinking too long and too hard about that unflattering angle a photo caught me in. To be honest, I knew it was coming and I’m not interested in trying to stop the tide. I’m perfectly happy with my life and I’m not going to waste my time counting calories and running on a boring-ass treadmill. I already tried that anyway and I hated it far more than I hated finding another dress I was unable to zip. It’s just a fucking dress, now hand me a scotch and some chips.
That being said, I feel like I’ve developed a strange deterrent from starting a new sewing project. Why spend the time, energy, and (already spent) money on a new dress, only to outgrow it after only a few wears? Which seems very counterintuitive at first. Sewing is supposed to be a way for a person to create clothing for an individual shape. So surely, I hold an advantage as a sewist in that I don’t find myself sized out of some brand that doesn’t believe in the mythical being called the Size Twelve. But, mind blown, no matter how great my hand-hemmed, fit-adjusted-three-times, waist-nipping dress fit over the months I was creating it, after a year and a few more pounds, it no longer fits. Now, I have to not only think about the fit in the present, but also the fit a hypothetical twenty pounds from now. My usual hourglass style doesn’t work so well without the hourglass shape.
At the same time, though, I’m surprised at how much of a relief it is. Like I said, I knew Getting Fat was my genetic and/or cultural destiny and now that I’m no longer delaying the inevitable, it’s actually a little freeing. Like I’ve spent the last fifteen years as a fat wolf in a thin sheep’s clothing (yes, I was the Fat Friend, and no, I am not getting into that on the Internet). So now I’m a chubster and I’m still happy. Happier. And I secretly feel like a badass when I wear something I “shouldn’t” and don’t make any excuses for it. I imagine all the times I pointed out flaws in myself for doing things like Sitting While Wearing Pants and try to imagine what I thought would happen if I didn’t say anything. Did I expect someone to say it for me? Wouldn’t that make the Fat Fink the jerk? Hyperbole aside, others are fatter than me and others are thinner than me, so who cares? My weight is my business.
But, with this new-found fat awakening, I still care about comfort. So bring on the elastic waists! In fact, I’m planning on spending 2015 Sewing Things Only Using Tractables (new tag: STOUT). I might need to work on that acronym. But I’m trying to be more open to seeing the potential in the non-fitted.
If you ask me, this is a prime example of look-at-the-technical-drawing-not-the-illustration. Look at that envelope! It looks like a fever dream set in an 80’s office!
But there was something about the pencil skirt and the black a-line skirt that caught my eye. Pencil skirts have always been uncomfortable to me, but I can’t resist the sexy secretary look. A pencil skirt with stretchy sides, though? In a print to take the edge off the elastic waist? BOOM
No zipper necessary, making this an excellent beginner pattern. PLUS, only one yard of 60″ wide fabric. The print fabric has a bit of a stretch, which also helps the comfort quotient. Can’t get enough of this skirt!
Bonus points, it’s the skirt version of a hat I made for my dad.
The pattern includes a kick-pleat in the back, but I decided to sew it up “for that streamlined look” (don’t know why that requires quotes, but it felt right).
Looking at these pictures, you can see exactly on the seam where I decided “Screw the kickpleats!” so I might go back and readjust the back seams to make it a little more consistent (that’s not being perfectionist, right? Just detailed?). My S.O. assisted me in the photography for this post and of course, as I’m looking through the images, I come across this number:
I get the help I ask for.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to making the a-line version. Highly recommend! It’s just about as comfy as a new set of slippers…
Not much more to say here than what I said the first time I made these. I do have to say the marled look was not the original plan and instead a happy result of Shopping My Stuff. Didn’t quite have enough of any one yarn to knit these and used two instead. I’m loving my new (relatively) frugal self.
Since I’ve never been good at conclusions, especially when I start writing about something as personal and contentious as weight, I’ll simply offer a St. Paddy’s Day toast: To a cozy STOUT year!
Inspired by a Glamour article titled The Case for Shopping Your Closet, I’m trying to spend 2015 Shopping My Stuff. Meaning– before I go out and buy some Necessity of the Moment, I’m going to take a look at what I have. I’ve noticed, for example, when I start to covet a particular sewing pattern or outfit or shade of nail polish, if I take a moment to go through what I already own I find something fairly similar or even something else entirely better. And bonus points– it’s my stuff so it’s free.
I tried to keep this way of thinking in mind as I decorated my new apartment. Granted, most any move requires purchasing new things– who wants to move their old trash bin? Hint: not me. But it’s far too easy for me to forget about what I already have in search of the shiny new thing. So, I’d like to present some of these ideas to you…
Cafe Curtains (tutorial)
It is no secret that I’m not a big fan of wearing pants. But I am a big fan of abundant light in my apartment. Now that I’m in a street-level unit, I thought my days of feeling the sun on my haunches was over. I’ve been an adult for almost a dozen years and yet, I never realized how expensive curtains are (and they only come in packs of one?!?!). Plus, the windows in this unit are so wide (69″), I’d have to buy two each. Screw that, I like to spend my money on non-essentials.
So I improvised some cafe curtains using only one 84″ x 54″ panel from Target ($20) and some pink stretch lace from FabricMart clearance ($2 per yard).
Cut the curtain in half the long way (hot dog style, if you will). If you’re using the same size I did, it’s now 84″ x 27″. Keeping your lace fabric folded, cut it about two inches shorter than the curtain, then cut the fold so you have two pieces of lace (in my case, it’s approximately 82″ x 24″ since the lace was 54″ wide).
Pin one length of lace to one of the curtain halves, wrong sides together. Serge, stitch, or zigzag the raw edges together.
Lie the sewn pieces out flat. Make sure the edge of the lace lines up a bit shorter than the hem of the curtain:
The top of your curtain should be curving over the lace. This will be your rod opening (heh heh). Pin it.
Sew along serged seam or seam allowance so that it lies flat.
Iron it out.
Then, bask in the sunlight knowing none of the sidewalk pedestrians can see you.
Make another one with the other half for your sewing room!
They look really nice from the outside, too:
Hope that makes sense! Here are some other things I did to spruce up the new place:
Why only display pictures? Hang some ric-rac up and clothespin expensive and now-too-small undies above the bedroom closet…
Replaceable photo display
If you’re like me and too commitment-phobic for a hallway gallery, nail some pom pom or other trim to the wall and hang your photos with clothespins (I once bought a large bag of clothespins, ok? They seemingly never run out). Switch out the pictures when the mood strikes.
I easily get emotionally attached to inanimate objects. By piling them into a clear jar, I can display things others might call “garbage,” such as a special-occasion champagne cork, rocks picked up along the beach, and the metal measuring spoons that I accidentally ran through the disposal and now look like an art piece.
Shabby chic shelving
Shelving is pretty easy to put together, even if screwing them into the wall most likely means losing some of the deposit (which always seems to happen anyway, even when I’m a model tenant, so I might as well do as I please). The wood boards were offered by a co-worker, I simply sanded and stained it, and drilled in some 50-cent brackets. If you don’t have a co-worker with unwanted wood (heh heh x2), someone on Craigslist always seems to have…free…
So what if the corner shelf doesn’t match up exactly? That’s why we call it shabby chic.
You may or may not have noticed, but I have not posted in approximately two months. I find it funny when blogs I frequent apologize for not posting for six weeks and I haven’t even noticed they were gone. Short of Smitten Kitchen, I’m pretty sure most people follow an RSS feed of many blogs and not necessarily One Almighty Blog. SO I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING TWO MONTHS ABSENT.
That being said, it is good to have a But to fall back on (see what I did there?).
BUT, I moved. I have returned to the Motherland. Seattle, my No Place Like Home. FINALLY, as a dear friend of mine told me today. And while adventure, reinvention, and the familiar are fine and all, wifi has been spotty and relegated to such endeavors as Getting a More Consistent Wifi.
Plus, living in an apartment for two weeks with no furniture and sleeping on an air mattress (the movers “might” come tomorrow) does not instill in me a Seize The Day attitude.
Regardless, I have some low-effort-required projects to share!
Yes the slippers are two different colors! I didn’t think “Lime” and “Lime Stripe” would be so different, but oh well. As I was told by the main wearer (read: Emily), “monsters’ feet don’t match perfectly in real life, so they’re actually realistic.” Righty-o.
If you understandably did not make the connection, these are the adult version of last post’s monster booties. Apparently it only takes five “I WANT MONSTER BOOTIES” to cause me to give in to a significant other’s wishes.
And as I was thinking it would take me even more thinking to adjust the booties pattern to a more mature size, I come across The Seaman’s Church on Pinterest (that is not a sentence I ever expected to make in my life). I present the adult-sized booties. I plan on making a pair for myself.
Crazy easy pattern. Knit all flat, one seam to sew up along the bottom and back-center. Definitely recommended for beginners– especially knitters with sock ambitions (I don’t even. Should I not be blogging after midnight?).
My ears are fairly cold-sensitive and adjusting to more northern temperatures. So, with the increase in earaches comes crochet motivation.
I guess I don’t have much else to say about that. You should try it!
Happy to be back to writing!
Pattern: Simplicity 2451, view D (+1/2)
Fabric: garage sale
I can’t imagine this is going to be a very long post. My Little Red Skirt was one of those projects that I whipped up without a problem. I got the fabric from a friend of a co-worker’s fabric garage sale back in 2008 or 2009. The woman was a fashion designer on top of that, so it was a magical garage indeed. She was selling vintage and new fabric for like $1 per yard and let’s just say I spent more than $50 there. Then, I became way too scared to use up most of the fabric I bought because that is a fear that I have. But I love those Sudden Clarity Clarence moments when I match a pattern to its fabric, which is what happened here.
The fabric is so busy that I thought only a mini-skirt would do it justice. You may have noticed above that I used view “D 1/2.” The pattern offers a longer version with a vent and a mini version, cut off above the vent. I cut out the longer version so I could hem it at just the right length, and ended up with a mini vent in the back. Juuuuust right.
The zipper!! I’ve had this stashed away for some time. It belonged to my step-grandma. She died when I was a baby, but my mom inherited her insane amount of sewing, knitting, and crafting supplies (THREE SEWING MACHINES) and I have spent the last decade pilfering these supplies from my mom.
Even though the fabric looks like a woven (and I guess it technically is, I don’t know these things), it has a substantial amount of stretch to it. Like any Mad Men fan, I love pencil skirts, but my baby-making hips make them feel too constraining. This pattern is great because it’s wider in the hips and then slims down at the hem, so not exactly a pencil skirt but close enough. The stretch in the fabric makes it that much more comfortable. I usually wear skirts that fit higher around my waist, but as long as I have pockets, I am a happy skirt-wearing camper.
Pattern: Simplicity 9958
Fabric: from Hong Kong
Boxers are the only sewing project I can think of that live up to the “1 Hour” promise. That is, as long as you are making them for folks with testicular spacial needs. Otherwise add about 10-20 minutes for crotch seam adjustment.
Em’s lounging shorts were looking more than a little sad. She still has them, even though I made these for her but some people just like to use things until the bitter end. I have about 4 1/2 more yards of this chambray and I’m thinking about making some shorts for myself as well (and a dress, and a top, and maybe some cigarette pants am I going overboard?).
So anyway: boxers. Great beginner project, great weekend afternoon project, great gift. How can you go wrong?
This apron was inspired by the first Sharknado movie, and when it was pointed out to me a few weeks ago that the sequel was airing, I had to get my butt in gear. It probably required a grand total of 45 minutes of work, making it a great beginner project for the sexy waitress in your life.
Regardless of the wait, Emily told me she received “mad props” from her regular customers and co-workers and she looks like she’s happy with it, doesn’t she? I myself am proud of the impromptu rick rack shark bite I added:
How could you not tip this girl at least 25%?