Ruby Dress from Tessuti Fabrics

Over the weekend I finished my Ruby dress from Tessuti Fabrics. This breezy rayon challis  was on clearance from fabric.com for $6/yard. Great deal!

I got some more practice with neckline and armhole binding with this pattern. The pattern also linked to a tutorial for joining bias binding but for some reason it just was not computing in my head, so I fudged it a little bit and improvised joining the binding ends together. It’s a little messy but it’s at the bottom of the armhole anyway 🙂 I could still use some more practice with binding…one of the armholes on my dress sticks out a bit.

I also love the keyhole back opening on this dress. It got a little bunched up going around the bottom, but still looks cute!

Keyhole back opening
Keyhole back opening

This dress also looks great styled in different days. The other day it was overcast and chilly, so I wore it with black tights, tall black boots, and my asymmetrical zip black moto jacket. Also looks good with a jean jacket, or with my beige ankle buckle flats. So many ways to wear this!

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Cutest Skirt Pattern Ever: Arielle Skirt from Tilly and the Buttons!

I don’t think I will ever get tired of talking about how cute the Arielle skirt from Tilly and the Buttons is. SO CUTE. Such a flattering shape and actually pretty simple to sew.

I got this beautiful dark denim from Britex Fabrics at Union Square in San Francisco. I love how easy it is to sew with thick, sturdy fabric like this. It doesn’t move around as much so it’s easy to control as you sew.

This was also my first time sewing buttonholes! My machine came with a plastic buttonhole foot that is a bit clunky and makes it hard to see the line you’re sewing. It went fine but could use some more practice. I love the big (brass?) buttons I chose for this skirt! My partner’s mother had a collection of buttons sitting around, so I took some home over the holidays and was looking for the perfect project for them.

The Arielle skirt has an optional lining, but I decided to keep it simple and skip it. The denim I used is so thick and sturdy anyway, that is hangs nicely without a lining.

I finished this skirt fairly quickly and was ready to photograph before I knew it. One little oopsies with the photos…I was wearing the skirt on the wrong side! Buttons should be on my left 🙂 I was wondering why the button flap was sort of gaping between the buttons. Looks even cuter when worn correctly!

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I’m planning to do another Arielle skirt soon…this time in a kelly green cotton twill with a cute floral lining! Buttons TBD… 🙂

Sewing with Silk: Ella top from Liola Patterns

I found this lovely kelly green printed silk at Fabric Outlet in the Mission and thought it would be perfect for the Mimi blouse in Tilly and the Buttons’ Love at First Stitch , but I didn’t have the pattern with me at the time. I thought a yard would be plenty but it was way short of what the pattern called for.

It took some digging to find a pattern that was a good fit, but eventually I found the Ella top from Liola Patterns. It’s a pretty simple pattern, but I had several firsts with this: darts, pleats, and neckline and armhole binding. Not to mention the patience it took sewing with slippery silk. Precise cutting is really important with the binding, and it’s tricky with silk. I read somewhere that a rotary cutter is helpful, so I’ll plan to do that next time.

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The darts and pleats were pretty straightforward, and I was happy how they turned out. Binding could have been better though. I think I gave the neckline binding slightly too much slack, and it hangs down a bit in the front. And I was a little sloppy sewing on one of the armhole bindings when I was like “Get it done, get it done!”…BUT it is still pretty cute 🙂

Close up of Ella top :)
Close up of Ella top 🙂

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Sewing Updates: Invisible Zippers with Clémence Skirt and Zinnia Skirt!

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, but I’ve been hard at work 🙂

A couple months back I finished the Clémence skirt from Tilly and the Buttons’ book Love at First Stitch. This was my first attempt at zippers! The pattern calls for an invisible zipper, and turns out that sewing an invisible zipper is not just a method of sewing, but also requires a different zipper foot and different zipper altogether. Woops!

But once I was so close to finishing the skirt I just HAD to get it done and was not about to put it off for another day, buy and figure out the new zipper and foot, so I ended up with a sort of hybrid zipper…a regular zipper sewn as an invisible zipper. But whatever, it works!

Other than, my only challenge was getting the inside of the waistband to cover the gathered seam from the skirt. Wasn’t the greatest, but at least it’s hidden inside.

Clémence skirt, before the zipper
Clémence skirt, before the zipper
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Ta-da!

My second invisible zipper attempt with Colette Patterns’ Zinnia skirt, and I’m happy to say it went much better this time! I nearly pulled my hair out trying to figure out how to use the (plastic!) invisible zipper foot, but several deep breaths and hours later, I got it working :).

I used version 3 of the Zinnia skirt, which has instructions for lining. This was also my first time sewing a lining! I was inspired by Colette’s post of sewing with eyelets and decided to give it a try. I found this beautiful eyelet/lace-ish fabric at a small fabric store on Clement Street in San Francisco and absolutely fell in love!

Beauty!!
Beauty!!

And the last important lesson learned here…ALWAYS transfer the pattern markings right away, especially with pleats! I am always lazy with this and turns out it’s best to just do it right away, and NOT after starting to sew the pieces together. I also should not have used ballpoint pen (HA!) for the markings. Since the only other marking utensil I had was white tailor’s chalk, it just seemed like the next easiest thing…luckily I bought a bleach gel pen which was able to get out most of the pen markings. But it’s still faintly there if you look closely :/ Never again!

Beautiful Zinnia!
Beautiful Zinnia!

I now have solid practice with zippers and lining! 🙂

Sewing with Knits: Elmira Wrap from Seamwork :)

Ever since I started sewing back in April, I’d heard that sewing with knits (versus woven fabrics) was a lot more challenging. As a result I have been avoiding patterns working with knits and had built it up in my head to be something so challenging that it would take a long time to be ready for it.

But then along came the Elmira wrap by Seamwork–I fell in love with it and decided to give it a shot. I picked out a marled gray lightweight knit from Fabric Outlet in San Francisco, where good deals are abundant 🙂

Seamwork patterns are designed to be completed in 3 hours or less, but being fairly new to sewing it takes me much longer! I’d been working on this wrap almost every day since last weekend, and finally did the finishing touches this morning. I’m so happy with how it turned out! Turns out working with knits isn’t so bad after all 🙂

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Tips that helped me

One of the biggest things that helped me was using ballpoint pins and needles–these have slightly rounded tips that help prevent the fabric from tearing.

Another helpful tip was using a zigzag stitch rather than a straight stitch, which helps prevent the seams from coming out.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Sleeve cuffs: This pattern has sleeve cuffs that are sewn on, but I had a hard time keeping them even because my seams wouldn’t be exactly straight. The first cuff I sewed the edge of the sleeve slipped out from the seam, and when I tried to salvage it, I accidentally made the sleeve way too small. The pattern instructs you to stretch the fabric slightly as you go, but I forgot to do that. In the end I spent almost an hour taking off the cuff (I had already finished the seams!) and re-doing it. Neither sleeve cuff was perfectly even, but at least they weren’t too small anymore.

Back neckline: This was the first time I sewed with a twin needle, which is really simple and gives the garment a more professional look. I misinterpreted the directions though and folded the back neckline over just a quarter inch too much, which meant that the shoulder seams didn’t exactly match up. I ended up with small gaps on each shoulder and decided to hand stitch them. It looks a little messy but it’s not very noticeable anyway.

I love that with each new pattern I make, I learn new skills. With the Elmira wrap I not only learned to sew with knits, but also how to sew with a twin needle, and how to make a thread chain (for the button loops).

AND knowing now that I can sew with knits, this opens up so many more opportunities of patterns to try! Can’t wait!

Foggy San Francisco Day Outfit

The (only) downside to living in San Francisco is the unpredictable weather–which often means foggy summers. This summer was typical, with foggy and misty mornings and evenings, with little bits of sunshine in the afternoons. While most of the country is wanting a break from the heat, I’m busting out the sweaters…

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I love this sweater from Maison Jules–the lace detail at the bottom gives it a feminine touch. It’s also light enough to wear in slightly warmer weather. I’ve even worn it with shorts on a cool summer day.

Thankfully, the sun has come back to San Francisco, and now that it’s officially Fall, it’s hitting 80 degrees here 🙂

So many reasons to love Modcloth!

To everyone around me, it’s no secret at all that I adore Modcloth. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve started shopping at Modcloth, and I’m still going strong. Not only do they have adorable, quirky, unique clothes for reasonable prices, but they also are committed to celebrating women of all body shapes, sizes, and races. Above all, they really aim to empower their customers to be true to themselves.

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The Modcloth Style Gallery  allows users to submit their own outfit photos, showcasing a number of different personal styles, body sizes, races, and lifestyles. Every so often, a frequent Style Gallery poster will be highlighted in an interview for the blog, like this recent travel post of Sumeyye, and this #Fashiontruth post of Rye. What I love about the Style Gallery and the blog series is that they celebrate people being authentic to themselves, and how their personal style is a part of that.

Another really cool, empowering feature of Modcloth is their Hot Tub Round Table series, which features Modcloth founder Susan Koger having personal conversations with other women on topics such as body image and empowering young women. How cool is that?? Especially coming from a clothing company. What an important role model!

I spent 2 years volunteering for a San Francisco-based non-profit called About-Face, which does media literacy workshops to help young women and girls understand and resist harmful media messages that so often affect their self-esteem. Each year About-Face holds a fundraising event called the Embody Awards, which honors individuals or companies that are a positive role model for young women and girls in the media. This year, Susan Koger of Modcloth was an Embody Award recipient! How appropriate 🙂

I literally have dozens of items from Modcloth by now, so I’ll be posting more outfits soon 🙂