The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

How Much Coral is Too Much Coral?

I have been having a grand time these past few weeks.  After months of practicing skills I am already comfortable with, I've learned three new ones in the last three weeks.

Bound buttonholes . . ..

waistband boning . . .

and an underarm gusset (still in muslin form)!

My fellow Gertie readers will note that all of these skills came from Gertie's New Book of Better Sewing.  It arrived about two months back along with a copy of the September Threads magazine, so you know that was a banner day in the PoldaPop household.  Or at least for me.  I think I spent the rest of the day ignoring requests for milk and goldfish and attention in general so that I could scan the pages, plot my new Gertie wardrobe, and read about drafting a peplum.

The first project I wanted to do was the Bow-Tied Blouse.  It looks so sexy in a sexy-librarian sort of way. 

And who doesn't want buttons all down her back like Miss Mary Mack??  I also thought it would work with fabric I picked up from with a skirt/top combo in mind.  I had seen this Hart's tutorial for making a stretch lace skirt, and I immediately wanted one for myself.  I love bright coral (I saw it on Belly earlier this fall and it looked so lovely next to her dark brown hair that I wanted it next to mine).  I am slightly nervous that with the skirt there's a little too much coral, but if I'm honest I don't really give a damn what anyone else thinks about this.


I found the buttons at The Economy Shop (favorite thrift store). 

I was immediately attracted to them because they look like Werther's Original Hard Candies.  In my late 20's I went through a Werther's phase (I may just love caramel more than chocolate) until I went to the dentist and had 11 (yes, shocking, I know) cavities, when I'd never had a cavity before.  Paying for the fillings cured me of my Werther's addiction, but I'm glad I get to at least remember the flavor whenever I wear this top.  I also liked that the color clashed a little with the pinky coral. 

I am mostly happy with the way the top turned out, especially since I didn't make a muslin or adjust the pattern in any way.  When I make it again, I'll add 1.5 inches to the length so that I feel more comfortable wearing it with low-ish rise jeans.  There's also some extra fabric in the front.  I'm wondering if my more experienced sewing friends can tell me if this is what a top looks like when it needs a SBA? 

Just so you don't think I spend all my time sewing selfishly (I only sew for myself on the weekends, promise!!), I can also report that I've completed a couple of skirts for clients and I've got a couple more awaiting fittings.  I forgot to take a picture of Melissa's pencil skirt (Melissa: can you send a picture, please pretty please??)  but I do have one of Liz's skirt:

This is a high-waisted denim pencil skirt with homemade bias tape along the hem.  And now I'm thinking that I want to add boning to my next high-waisted denim skirt.  I'm itching to get out the wire cutters and pliers again . . .

Out of Focus

I think I've lost my head.  Is that it over there?  Oh, no, that's just a giant hair&threadball that's accumulated under a chair because I've been too busy to vacuum.  Dear Readers, if you find a tired looking head with (mostly) dark hair, please send it back to me.  I don't know that it will do me much good but at least it will give me something to blame when things go awry.

I started the week with a high level of productivity, banging out two client skirts and making good progress on my Gertie bow-tied top.  Then somehow things began to fall apart when I found myself ahead of schedule for once.  Does that happen to you?  You finally have a chance to get ahead and you blow it just by being unfocused and stupid??

Here's one of the skirts:

I found this lovely, thick stretchy corduroy on Etsy and immediately thought of my client Jen (she's a bit of a pink addict).  There was about a 1/2 yard of the dark brown and 2/3 yard of the pink paiseley and I used almost every inch in making the skirt.  The dark brown actually has a damask pattern that's hard to see unless I do some crazy adjustment of the photo, like this:

In keeping with my productive-one-moment-and-stupid the next week, I completely forgot to take photos of the other skirt.  And it was cute, too.  Trust me.  Some of my best work.

I was able to be so productive early on because I tried a new techique I just read about on Grainline's Blog: Chaining.  I love this technique!  It put me in the mindset of being efficient without rushing, and I could get through the basic construction of the skirts much quicker.  Then (because, afterall, it's this kind of week), I smashed my finger under the needle housing thingy on my serger because I got carried away.  This is why I keep band-aids in my sewing kit: so I can keep sewing without bleeding all over someone's fabric.

I tackled bound buttonholes for the first time for the Gertie bow-tied top I'm making myself to go with the pencil skirt I have yet to unveil.  The fabric is a ponte knit, so I don't know if that means making the buttonholes was easier or harder than it would be with a woven.  Not perfect, but not bad for a first attempt:

Nice color, huh?  Then after that good bit of work, I've allowed myself to be stymied by the collar.  I don't think it's that hard, but my brain can't seem to process the instructions.

And speaking of being stymied, I have a dress that I need advice on.  I made this dress a few weekends ago and I'm not sure what I think of it.  It's one of my favorite knit/jersey patterns (Simplicty 2580) and I like the print of the fabric, but I think the fabric is just a bit too lightweight.  I feel like I'm wearing a nightgown  and I'm conscious that every little lump and bump is obvious.  I have some stretchy black lining that I'm thinking about putting in the skirt of the dress, but I'm worried that will make the skirt too heavy for the bodice.  I've also thought about cutting it shorter and just making it a top (the excess fabric would make a nice knit scarf).  Can my sewing friends please weigh in on this??

Please excuse the hair.  This was taken before I finally scheduled a much-needed haircut.

I included this second photo even though it a pretty sad shot because it shows just how much I need help with this dress.

And today was mostly a wash because I had to rush Mooper to the ER last night.  She woke up in the middle of the night and could barely breathe (I'll remember that wheeze in my parent anxiety nightmares).  The poor thing has croup (or do you say, "The Croup"?)  That sounds like an illness that must surely be out-of-fashion but apparently it's back.  Thankfully we have up-to-date treatments for these old-fashioned illnesses.

If If I get some sleep tonight I'm going to try boning for the first time.  The UPS man delivered a package from last week so I've got my spiral-steel boning, wire cutter, and pliers all gathered up and ready to go.  Now if I could only find my head . . .

Found Treasure - The Exquisite Revisit Resale Shop

A few weeks ago I discovered a new resale shop.  I'm embarrassed to say that it's walking distance from my house AND has been there for a few years now, but I only just found out about it.  So it's only "new" to me.  I now have one more reason to be grateful for our Berwyn Facebook page since that's how I discovered this wonderful shop.

Exquisite Revisit is one of those dear places that is just full to the roof beams with various treasures.  You can find rocking horses and feather boas and salt & pepper shakers and hats and old games.  I found some vintage fabric:

Each piece is 3-4 yards long and 36" wide.  The fabric is a lovely apparel cotton - soft with nice weight and some drape.  I paid $15 for all three.  I particularly love the colors in the last one, and I think it might work with the pencil skirt I finished this past weekend (no pictures yet - I want to wait until I finish the top that goes with it). 

I'm thinking of using one or two of these pieces to make a peplum blouse.  I found this pattern in my mother-in-law's basement, and if I imagine the top without those horrendous sleeves and a different neckline, I think it would work:

I guess the sleeves aren't that bad, but they are all wrong for my body.  I'd look like a linebacker if I wore something that emphasized my shoulders in that way!  And there's something about the drawings that just looks so harsh.  I keep thinking that if the blonde turns her head, she'll chill me with a look of icy disdain ("So you think my sleeves are horrendous?  It's your shoulders that are the problem, missy"). I'll just have to turn the pattern envelope over when I'm working on the blouse.

I also found drawer after drawer of buttons in the shop.  How I love unearthing buttons!

I'll have more treasure to show next week because I'm planning a trip to my favorite thrift store (The Economy Shop in Oak Park) on Thursday.  They only open for sales 3-4 times a month and I haven't been since June.  I've found all sorts of beautiful things there in the past, from fabric to buttons to fur collars and even a chair cover that I made into a wallet.  

In other news, I finished two skirts for clients and my class at The Little Bits Workshop is now underway.  And I just found out that one of my handbag designs is going to be published in Stitch magazine, so I'm having one of those weeks where I actually feel like I know what I'm doing!  I've got a sewing project on the table this week that is likely to knock that straight out of me.  I hope to give you an update on that one a little later this week.  Keep some fingers crossed for me!