Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Make It Work Mini-Cowl

This is sort of my default signature style piece, because it is totally the kind of thing I always like to wear and make, but I didn't set out to make it for Signature Style Week (that's the link you can follow to vote for me starting Friday!) Well, I sort of did, but I planned on making a whole outfit and really doing it right, and things just didn't happen that way.  But I did finish the top, and I do love it, and here's why it's a signature piece for me:

-I like to buy fabric that grabs my attention, without really knowing what I might use it for.  I loved this printed knit when I saw it online at Girl Charlee, but I'm really bad at interpreting the information they give about knits, so I didn't really know what the fabric would be like.  I also never remember to pay attention to print scale when ordering online, so that was a guess too.  Since I didn't know what I was going to use it for, I only ordered a yard, thinking I'd probably do something for the girl.  But I really loved this soft, slinky knit when it arrived, and I wanted to keep it all for myself.

Ah, yes.  How I love to gaze out the window and ruminate.

-I decided that what I really wanted to make was a long-sleeved cowl neck top.  But I only had a yard of this fabric, and I didn't like the idea of adding in any solid fabrics.  I am really picky about length--I like my tops to be longer than average, and my sleeves as well.  I drafted my pattern and cut the bodice and sleeves out first (verrry verrrry carefully to maximize the fabric).  I cut the sleeves short on purpose to leave some bigger pieces for the cowl, and made wide cuffs from scraps to get the length I wanted. I thought I'd figure out how big I could make my cowl when I knew how much I'd have left over.

I thought the slight v in the back of the cowl was cool, but looking at it here
it seems maybe a bit strange?
Well, it turned out I had barely any scraps left for the cowl.  This skinny little baby cowl is pieced together from literally 5 scraps of fabric.  You really can't tell unless you are looking for it, because I was very tricky in hiding my seams on the underside, but it was definitely a puzzle.  And I ended up doing some sort of impromptu french seams when attaching the cowl (can I even call it that?  It barely folds over...) because I wasn't sure where the seams would show when everything flopped around a bit.

One little yard, you guys!
-So, the style of this top is really me.  A fun print in my favorite colors, a comfortable knit with some special details, and with extra length in the bodice and sleeves.

And bonus points that I can wear it with my favorite cardigan!

I didn't make the cardi.  I have tried to recreate it to no avail.
I'm not gonna lie, there are some really amazing sew-along submissions this week in the Signature Style category.  If you want to go ahead and vote for me anyway because you love me, that would be cool (I'm #50), or you can vote for someone else who went all out!  But I do have to let you know, I came in tied for 4th last week, only away from 1st place by 6 you could make the difference!

Also, if you haven't been following along, you should definitely check out the final week of the REAL Project Sewn competition--voting for the remaining three talented ladies ends on Thursday, I believe!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Best Excuse for Shoe Shopping!

I knew that I'd eventually write about our family's upcoming adventure on my blog, but I didn't think it would come about in such a roundabout way.  But I can't think of any other way to write about the outfit I made for "Inspired by Shoes" week on Project Sewn other than to tell you why my shoe collection is in major overhaul right now.

I love shoes, but I have a hard time investing in the good quality shoes that are going to last me a while and be comfortable AND stylish.  So I usually end up buying lots and lots of cheap, cute, disposable shoes...except that I then hang onto them even when they are worn out and gross.  

Not even all of them.

So, when we decided that we would be moving our family to Tokyo this spring for 1-2 years (how's that for a lot of fanfare for such an announcement?), I knew that I would need to make some big changes in my shoe wardrobe.  I wear a size 9 (sometimes 9.5), which can be hard to find in Japan, so I wanted to get the basics that I would need while I was still in the states, and I wanted to get good stuff.  Which meant getting rid of 15 pairs of worn-out shoes, and buying (so far) 4 new pairs.  Which brings me to my outfit!  

My outfit was inspired by this pair of shoes:

Image from, where I bought my pair

Burgundy, with a print (well, sort of) and an open back, and it can be dressed up or down.

Gotta watch my posture--looking a little maternity here!
I knew I wanted to make a casual skirt, because it would go well with the style of the shoe and also show the shoes off.  I made mine out of a much larger skirt that I found at goodwill--a nice, thick mini-striped interlock--and used Adrianna's tutorial from Crafterhours on making a fitted knit pencil skirt.  

This went really quickly, because I made the pattern a while back for my Mad Men-inspired skirt for last season's Project Sewn Era challenge.  I did a hidden elastic waistband this time though and (gasp!!) skipped the pockets for a more streamlined look.

To go with it, I made a top that I had been wanting to make for a while.  I saw this tutorial from Jess at Me Sew Crazy for an open-back knit tunic top, and thought it was so cute!  

Perfect with the pencil skirt or a pair of skinny jeans.  The burgundy and black bird print knit that I bought from Girl Charlee tied in the color of the shoe nicely, and of course the open back of the shirt mimics the slingback of the shoe.

The back looks pretty low, but I can actually wear a regular bra with this.
I made my sleeves more fitted and longer, and I lined the bottom part of the tunic as well as the bodice because the bird print knit was so thin, and I didn't want it to be see-through. I made the lining a tad longer so it would show at the bottom, but I left the sleeves unlined.

To top it off, I had a wrap dress that my friend passed into my upcycling pile that happened to be the same color as the shoes, so I made an open cardigan to tie the outfit together.  It was so simple--I saw the idea here, and adapted mine to my liking by curving the bottom edges and adding an elastic band to the back at the waistline.

I love the way the pieces work together, and that they are so versatile in other outfits!  And they go great with my new shoes!  Think this outfit will work for a mom-on-the-go in Tokyo?

And yes, there will be voting!  Starting Friday and running through Sunday, you can find my image along with all of the other sew-along submissions at the bottom of this page, where you can VOTE FOR ME (I'm lucky number 13)!!

My assistant did a great job of staying out of the photos until I was done :)

Silly girls!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Crossover Hoodie Dress

If I were three, this is what I would want to wear every day.

It's made from a lightweight sweatshirt fleece.  It has a cozy lined hood.  The neckline is easy to pull on yet covered up due to a wide crossover coming together at an empire waist.  It's got fun  mixed prints (black and white owls with chevron accents in the hood lining, pocket lining, and cuffs--all from Girl Charlee), a splash of my (and my girl's) favorite color, purple (upcycled from a jersey sheet, trimming the pockets and cuffs)--and of COURSE it's got pockets!

After the initial wear, I did end up trimming the length a little bit to make sure it steers clear of her back bike tire.  She's not too disappointed despite her love of long dresses, so that's good.

Here's a closer look at the bodice:

It's hard for me to photograph details on a white garment--can you see what's happening here?
I love the way it came out so much!  I want to recreate it for myself in a different print.  I drafted the pattern after looking longingly at this tutorial for a similar little baby sweatshirt by Made by Me and Shared with You, which is way too small for both of my kiddos.

The hood (and crossover neckline) is lined in the same chevron as the cuffs, as I mentioned--here's how that looks:

I straightened out the hem a bit when I shortened it :)
She has been requesting this dress when it's not in the wash, so that's a good sign.  It is spending more time in the wash than I would like--I guess that's what you get when you make a 3-year-old a white dress!

How many more pictures?
The pocket is a detail I loved.  I had pinned the tutorial for this pocket from anu*miki ages ago and this seemed like the perfect dress to try it on.  The tutorial is in Dutch, but between Google Translate and the photos it was no problem to follow.

Side seam pockets with purple accent and chevron pocket lining
Since this dress has a little bit of all of the things that I and Little Sister love, it seemed like a good submission for Signature Style week on Project Run & Play.  I have been sewing, but it seems like it's been harder and harder to get my projects posted here lately.  So thanks for the inspiration and motivation, Project Run & Play!  I hope to join in for at least a few of the Project Sewn themes as well!

Hope to see you again soon, Blogland!