Monday, December 30, 2013

Top Five of 2013

Wow! What a year of sewing and blogging this has been! This will be my 73rd post of 2013 - SEVENTY THIRD! I am still amazed by that, looking back at 2012 when I had 8 posts total. eight. Some thoughts on why in a little bit. I love this idea of Gillian's to post your Top Five of the year - first, I want to show my best and worst of this year of sewing - it was kind of difficult choosing these. In the past year I have made 12 dresses, 17 tops, a blazer, 2 pairs of shorts, leggings, 5 skirts, 6 baby outfits, boxers, a hoodie, an owl tote, and a lunch bag for a grand total of 48 SEWN THINGAMABOBBERS! I am smugly giving myself a pat on the back right now. Okay, on to the Top 5.

Top 5 Hits: Favourite Creations, most worn or most loved

Watercolor Anna Dress - Without a doubt my favorite make of all time!

Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts - I loved these shorts and was so proud of the quality of construction, the fit, and all the little details! Sadly they were irreparably damaged and had to go in the trash :( I will miss you, thurlows! 

Colorblocked Scout Tee - Proof that some of my best sewing ideas come from mistakes! And one of my best fitting woven tops!

Style Arc Elizabeth Top in Stripes - By far my most worn top of the year - all-season, comfortable, and just a little trendy!

Summery IKAT Dress - I lived in this dress all summer, and have even styled it to wear through fall and winter - the fit, flowiness, and print are great, but the pockets are it's best feature :)

Honorable Mention: Lazy Girl Lunch Tote - I have used this every single day and it hasn't failed me yet!

Top 5 Misses: Sewing Fails, UFOs, worn once, or complete disasters

Faux Button Down Skirt - cute idea, terrible horrible awful fabric choice. Not only is the color blah, but the texture is this shiny upholstery gabardine that I will never ever use again. Only worn once.

UFO - Shiny Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse - the sleeves were the first red flag, but the shiny fabric really kicked this one to the curb - I knew it would never be worn, even if I did finish it.

1940's Sew for Victory Dress - I love the bound buttonholes and buttons. The rest of the dress... meh. I have never worn it except to take photos for the blog and have to say that I really don't think I am a vintage pattern person (gasp!) 

Leather / Sweater Knit Vest - very proud of sewing leather for the first time, but this is not even close to my style and I have never worn it outside of photos for the blog

UFO - Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges Dress - before I wised up and started tracing patterns, I cut out this dress only to realize that it is too small at the bust - not sure how to fix it, but even worse, I now have a $20 pattern cut out to the wrong (and smallest) size :(

Top 5 Reflections: What did you learn about yourself or sewing this year?

Fabric choices are important! I feel like this year I really started to get a grip on picking better fabrics, both in quality and appropriateness for the pattern I wanted to use. I attempted to participate in the Stashbusting Sewalong, but had so few fabrics that I liked and wanted to use in my stash that it just didn't happen.

My color palette! This genius post from Gillian really made me think about what colors I tend to gravitate to and wear most often. Once I made up a color palette for myself, it was so much easier to choose fabrics and get motivated to sew garments that I knew I would love and wear!
Improvising is good! Many of my favorite little details on garments I made this year happened on a whim - whether it was hiding a mistake or making the garment more "me" than the finished pattern, I found myself cutting, ripping, replacing and embellishing without hesitation - and you know, every time it worked out! This has encouraged me to take more risks with my sewing - you never know what you will come up with!

I love sewing as a hobby! I hate it as a job. Making garments for myself and gifts and things for the home, etc, is awesome, until I have to do it. As soon as I feel like I have to sew, either for a sewalong, making a blog post, some kind of deadline (ie - making costumes for school) or mending something for someone, it becomes an awful boring chore that I am completely unmotivated to do. Let's keep sewing fun! :)

I can sew and blog for a whole year! Looking back at my blog history, there was a trend of sewing and blogging lots from January to March and then kind of falling off the bandwagon - this past year I was determined to not let that happen, and by gosh and golly it didn't! A big thank you to the sewing community for the continual encouragement and motivation - that really made a difference! You guys rock!

Top 5 Goals for the New Year

Sew a Coat! Specifically a Minoru, most likely for the spring as that is the only season I don't currently have a good coat to wear. Also, this is my newest sewing dare!

Pay more attention to the inside! Usually I am in such a rush to finish a garment due to lack of sewing time, that they don't always get made with quality. Many of my me-made garments have ended up in the mending pile for some reason or another and I'd like to change that - also they just look and feel so much nicer with a clean finish on the inside :)

Sew from the stash! As I mentioned before, I feel like I've become a lot better at choosing fabrics over the past year and now I have a pretty awesome stash - and I need to start sewing from it! Stashbusting attempt #2!

Do More Tutorials! Sometimes I think everything about sewing is already on the internet - lol - which it probably is! But still I would like to add some more tutorials and tips on sewing and blogging to my site, specifically one for my Lazy Girl Lunch Tote, which was promised months ago and never actually finished :(

Make a Difference! I have really enjoyed this last month of working with International Justice Mission through Dressember to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking and the sex slave trade all around the world. I would like to incorporate IJM as a permanent feature somewhere on the blog so readers can learn about it and support the cause. Huzzah!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Sequin Striped Skater Dress

Hello you amazing readers! I hope you had a very merry Christmas filled with all kinds of wonderful! This entire month has been so fun with all the celebrating, gift giving, shopping, eating, and general merriment - and did I mention crazy busy? I haven't had a chance to finish sewing a single thing until this dress! I had hoped to participate in Green December and Archer Appreciation month, and sew up some Christmas presents (like the Portside Travel set), but time just got away from me - I'm sure you all know how it is when the Christmas crazy takes over :)

Another big part of the past month has been my Dressember campaign! I am raising awareness for International Justice Mission's combat against human trafficking and fight to end sexual slavery. To quote the website, "The heart of Dressember is freedom-- that every woman, man, and child has the right to be free to live a vibrant life." I am 110% supportive of this type of work and the thought of anyone being subjected to sexual slavery or violence just makes my heart drop to my stomach. As a Dressember participant, I have worn a dress every. single. day. of the month of December - if you are following me on Instagram or Twitter, you have probably seen most of them :) I have even raised $100! But friends, I set my goal high - $500!!! - and I need help to reach it! If you could give - any amount - please donate here! It only takes a minute of your time! Thank you so much to those who have already helped out! Let's end this year right! :)

And finally this new dress! For DAY 27! After completing the dress, I decided it needed a little break up of the gray so I added this improvised stretchy black belt! It's literally just a long remnant of black jersey, folded and sewn, then wrapped around my waist, finished with a knot that kind of resembles a bow in the front - works for me! :)

Here are the details:

Pattern: KitschyCoo Lady Skater Dress

Size: 4

My Shape: Tall (6'), pear shape (hips and legs galore!), narrow shoulders, long torso

Fabric: 2 yards Sweater Knit with Sequin Stripes - Joann's

Size Alterations:

- Cut slightly larger around all seam allowances on bodice
- Added more flare and length (maybe 2-3") to the skirt

Design Changes:

- Lengthened 3/4 sleeve to midway between 3/4 line and full length line - it is perfect! (Finished w/ narrow hem instead of sleeve band - didn't want the extra bulk)

Construction Notes:

- Mostly sewn identically to first version
- Neckband is actually wrong side of fabric - I wanted solid gray, and no sequins against my skin, so I folded the fabric right sides together! Thankfully the wrong side matched pretty well :)

The Verdict: 

A perfect and comfortable holiday dress! Stripes and baby sequins, which I also think resemble notes on a music staff (how perfect!) and my two of my most worn colors! I think this dress will be around quite a long time! :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Plaid Pencil Skirt w/ BOW

When I found this extremely warm and soft plaid wool in the red tag section of Joann's and knew it was destined to be a skirt! I actually completed it for Veteran's Day (Nov 11) so I could have something red, white, and blue to wear for our school concert. However, I ended up wearing my long coat for our entire concert because it was OUTSIDE IN A BLIZZARD!  That's right, my awesome students sang outside for a Veterans Day concert in a blizzard - they are troopers. I still can't feel my fingers.... jk.

Here are the details:

Pattern: Gertie's Book for Better Sewing - Pencil Skirt

Size: 8 (waist) graded to 10 (hips)

* I was shocked to see there was only one size difference between my normal waist and hip measurement for Gertie's size chart - that makes things oh so much easier :)

My Shape: Tall (6'0), pear shape, narrow shoulders, long torso

Fabric: Plaid Wool, Navy/White/Red - Joann Fabrics

Size Alterations:

- Took in a little more at the waist, in addition to grading

Design Changes:

- Left off the waistband - serged, turned, and topstitched waist edge
- Added large BOW to the front (attached with safety pins, in case a non-bow skirt is needed ;)
- Removed several inches (at least 6) from the hem - this skirt is definitely drafted to be calf length!

Construction Notes:

- Stitched then serged all seams
- This fabric was very easy to sew with, and hides many mistakes, but the only thing I could use to mark darts, etc that would show up was a metallic silver sharpie! Probably not the best... lol
- Used invisible zipper in the center back

**IN OTHER NEWS** I am taking part in an awesome campaign called Dressember! I will be wearing a dress EVERY DAY for the entire month of December to raise awareness and funds to support the work of International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that is bringing rescue and freedom to victims of slavery, sex trafficking and other forms of violence. I have personally pledged to raise $500 for the cause, and already have $75! You can donate to support this awesome mission HERE - it only takes one minute. If everyone who follows this blog donated just $1, we could definitely make the $500 pledge! Any amount is appreciated! You can follow my dress documentation on Twitter or Instagram! I hope to have some new self-made dresses to show you this month to go along with campaign :) Thank you so much for your support! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Loly in the Sky Shoes Promo!!!

Hi there, readers! Happy Friday! Today I have something completely different than our regularly scheduled programming - a little promotion for a wonderful company that is all about handmade style. Loly in the Sky is a line of shoes from Mexico - each pair is carefully handmade with love :) I showed off my first pair of these adorable flats early in the summer with this dress (and I have worn them a TON since then!) I think it is so cool to be able to wear not only our own handmade clothes, but handmade shoes as well!!! They just got a new collection in time for the holidays and the shoes are A-MA-ZING! Not to mention, quite affordable! 

Displaying QUIRKY.jpg

On to the promotion...  the lovely Rocio from Loly in the Sky has offered 25% off any purchase to all of my readers with the code "quirkypeach" from November 29th - December 1st! Check out this chic pair of flats with the scissors - perfect for a sewist, yeah? They also make wedges, kids shoes, and sandals. Please do take a look! I think it's so important to support these kinds of businesses! HANDMADE ALL THE WAY!

P.S. If you wear size 9.5 shoes, here are my recommendations (as they skip from 9 to 10). All of these shoes "run small" so you can order up to a 10 and hopefully they will fit great! Worked for me! ***And great news - I have just been informed that Loly will begin making size 9.5 come January!***

Monica - ALREADY MINE! ;)
Isabella - SOON TO BE MINE!

Also,you could try these:  Adali, Gabriela, Maria, Paulina

*Disclosure: the quirky peach will receive 10% commission on all sales made using the above discount code. Please note, any and all proceeds from this commission will be put towards my IJM Dressember campaign to help end human trafficking - more on that to come - thanks!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Black and White Reglisse Dress

Hello there! Today, a long belated make. I completed this Deer&Doe Reglisse dress a couple of months back - at the time I wasn't really sure if I liked it or not, but it has definitely grown on me! In fact, wearing it to school just like this last Friday, I got a ton of compliments, and mostly from boys (elementary age, mind you). I even explained to one extra curious kindergartner how I actually made the dress with a sewing machine! I think the color combination works really well year round, and I LOVE it with these black fleece lined tights and booties - so warm ;)

Here are the details:

Pattern: Deer&Doe Reglisse Dress

Size: 38 (bust) to 40 (waist/hips)

My Shape: Tall (6'0), pear shape, narrow shoulders, long torso


Main - Ivory / Black Graphic Stripe Rayon - 
Contrast - Solid Black Rayon Challis - Joann Fabrics

Size Alterations:

- Graded out to size 40 at the waistline
- Lengthened skirt a couple inches

Design Changes:

- None! Love everything about it! Bias cut bodice, contrast neck tie/collar and cap sleeves (also made waistband in contrast), gathered detail on shoulder, full swingy skirt, and no closures! AMAZING!

Construction Notes:

- The one main issue I had was with the super slippery black rayon fabric - After completely constructing the neckline, I realized one side of the collar was just slightly smaller than the other! Urrrrghhhh.... I considered ripping it out and redoing it, but decided it wasn't worth the effort. And I think I was right - I've barely noticed it since wearing it the first time (pretty sure that's b/c it's most noticeable from the back).

You can't help spinning around in this lovely dress! Even Camille twirls on the pattern page! This is a wonderful fitting dress, and I think it would work beautifully in about any print - I'm seeing visions of a sparkling plaid party dress in my near future! Ooh la la!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Watercolor Princess Dress

While I was snapping the last of these photos on the pavilion, a little girl peeked around the corner and exclaimed "Look Grandma, a beautiful princess!" Eeeeeeeeeee! Day = Made. And that is exactly how I feel in my flowing watercolor print maxi dress - like a graceful, elven princess. I have actually had this dress almost a month - I made it to wear on my birthday in early October, but it's been so cold since I wasn't able to take pictures until today. I knew I wanted to make another Anna dress for my birthday, and when I found this amazing fabric, it was a match made in sewing heaven.

I really wanted the photos to capture the movement of this dress - the flow and swish of this fabric is just amazing, especially with the voluminous six panel skirt! The color is gorgeous - the print is like a watercolor painting of pinks and olive greens on a gray/taupe background, with a brushstroke foil accent of gold and black. It is sheer, which meant a clean finish on the inside and a slip to go underneath.

Here are the details:

Pattern: By Hand London Anna Dress - Maxi Version, Slash Neck

Size: US 6 (bust)

My Shape: Tall (5'11"), pear shape, narrow shoulders, long torso

Fabric: Simply Silky Prints-Blurred Floral Pink & Olive Foiled (Polyester) - Joann Fabrics

Size Alterations:

- Graded out to size 10 at the waistline
- From waist, graded skirt panels out to the largest size for an extra voluminous skirt
- Lowered slash neckline slightly

Design Changes:

- Added button and loop closure at back center neckline above zipper

Construction Notes:

- With this sheer fabric, I serged, then turned and top-stitched a narrow hem for the neckline and sleeve
- The skirt panels are all finished with a serged edge - at first they somewhat curved in towards the hem - I fixed this by clipping the seam allowance every few inches on each seam and then steaming - the skirt panels seams quickly flattened out.

To go under the dress, I made a slip with olive silky lining fabric. I used the McCall's 6696 bias cut slip pattern. It was definitely put together in a hurry, so nothing fancy to look at, but it is perfect under this dress.

The necklace was a birthday present to myself from Stephanie's Etsy shop, Native Clutter. She has some gorgeous jewelry! She sent it right away so it would arrive on my birthday so I could wear it with my dress! Amazing customer service, and perfect timing :)

The Verdict: THIS IS MY MOST FAVORITE DRESS! I feel like a beautiful elvish princess when I wear it! I cannot wait to wear it again, and I can definitely see more Anna dresses in the future. If you haven't tried this pattern yet, I highly recommend it - there are even detailed sewalong posts for help along the way. So, what is your most favorite dress you've made??? :)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fear Fabric Sewing - Leather

MUAHAHAHA! Happy Halloween my fine freaky readers :) I have a little surprise for you today - I was invited to take part in the Fear Fabric challenge, hosted by the lovely Beth of 110 Creations! The idea was to tackle a "fear fabric" - something that really made you shake in your boots - over the month of October and post the finished result on Halloween.  My original plan was to sew with silk, but then I got an idea to tackle LEATHER! I mean, it's expensive, super thick, somewhat hard to find, requires special threads and needles, and pins and stitches make permanent holes - EEEEEEAAAAA!

Now I have to be honest, this garment is completely outside my usual style - I have absolutely nothing like it in my closet - in fact, I've never even seen anything like it before! When I got the idea to make a drapey vest with this crazy sweater knit, I could see it with contrast shoulders. The raglan sleeve feature is one of my favorite things about this pattern (Butterick See and Sew 5666) . I figured it would be a great detail in leather - just enough to get my hands dirty, but not a life commitment in case things went awry.

Before I started this project I did some research online and in books on tips for sewing with leather - here are my Leather Sewing Tips: (aka, what I did my first time sewing with leather)

- Trace pattern cutting line on the wrong side of leather with tailors chalk, or heck, just a ballpoint pen

- Use nylon upholstery weight thread instead of polyester or cotton - it is much stronger

- Use a "leather" sewing needle - mine was a 90/14, marked "Leather" ;)

- Instead of pinning pieces together, use hair clips or bobby pins

- I don't have a special presser foot, like teflon, so I used baby powder to help the leather slide under the foot - I didn't do this at first, and I was able to sew it, but I had to almost pull the leather through - I'm sure this was terrible for Archibald :( I also have heard of using wax paper or parchment paper on top of the leather (or other "sticky fabrics"), but I wanted to be able to see exactly what I was doing.

- Topstitch seam allowances down close to the seam line, then trim the excess

- To finish edge of sleeve, I turned the edge under 3/8" and did a double line of topstitching

- As this blog perfectly states, only sew leather when you're "fresh as a daisy" and make sure you sew "slow as a turtle" - this really is true, especially when the pieces get thicker! I hand cranked much of the thicker parts, like when the edge is turned over at the seam - Aughh.

Here are a couple other posts with tips on sewing leather that I found helpful:  (1)   (2)   (3)

Here are the details:

Pattern: Butterick See and Sew 5666

Size: Medium

My Shape: Tall (5'11"), pear shape, narrow shoulders, long torso

Fabric: 1 piece leather - Textile Discount Outlet, 1 yard aztec sweater knit -

Size Alterations / Design Changes: greatly reduced width (flare) of main pieces, mostly to get it to fit on the fabric - I'm glad I did, because there is still plenty of drape and ease

Construction Notes:

- For sweater knit, used narrow zigzag stitch, regular thread, and ballpoint needle
- For leather, see "sewing tips" above

The Verdict:

Well, I can definitely say I think I have overcome my "fear" of sewing leather! When I finished this project, I immediately starting planning the next - I would love to try a skirt with a cool leather waistband, like fun Thakoon piece. As for the vest, I'm not sure how I feel about it - it is definitely outside my style and I'm not sure how much I would wear it, or even how to style it! Lol :) In any case, I am proud of how the leather sleeve/shoulder turned out!

Make sure you check out the other featured "Fear Fabric" bloggers:

Andrea of  Four Square Walls who braved stretch lace
Mrs. Smith of The Joys and Trials of My Crafting who faced slippery chiffon / charmeuse
and of course, our awesome host Beth from 110 Creations, who took on brocade

So, what's the scariest fabric you've ever sewn with? How about one you are feeling emboldened to try??