Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - A Year in Review

Well folks, here we are - the end of 2014! A short and sweet review of the year is what I had in mind for this post. Granted, this may be more for my sake than yours - I really enjoyed looking back at last year's end post (here) and how I've changed / grown in a year's time. So without further ado...

1. What I Made:

11 Tops, 3 Cardigans/Jackets, 5 Skirts, 11 Dresses, 1 Swimsuit, 1 Romper, 1 Halloween Costume
14 in Knit Fabric and 19 in Woven Fabric
Total: 33 Garments

My FAVORITE and MOST WORN garments tend to be Knit Tops and Woven Dresses with pockets :) 

See all of them in My Handmade Closet

2. What I Learned:

Blogging takes a long time. There are a lot of great sewing blogs out there. Therefore, one should not feel bad if everything sewn (like this skirt) doesn't make it to the blog - that's what Instagram is for :)

Also, this must have been the Year of the Hem! I tried several new techniques besides a straight stitch:

Narrow hem  //  Bias tape hem  //  Rolled hem  //  Blind hem

Finally, it's okay to get rid of clothes you made! Really! Curating the perfect closet means cutting out stuff that doesn't fit well, hold up under lots of wear, or just isn't your style. Give away or sell what you don't like and you'll be left with what you love :)

3. For 2015:

Use patterns and fabrics from the STASH

Stick to styles, colors, and fabrics I love and will wear

Take the time to construct it well

Make these patterns again, because they are awesome and worn all the time:

Alder Shirtdress // Belladone Dress // Bronte Top and Dress // Bruyere Tunic // Rigel Bomber Jacket

And one last thing:

Thank YOU for reading this blog!

I love reading your comments and interacting with you all on this wonderful world wide web.
So, what is YOUR #1 Goal or Tip going into the New Year?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Mini Chardon Skirt in Burgundy

Every girl needs a versatile holiday skirt. At least, that's what this fabric seemed to whisper, sitting on the shelf at the Needle Shop. "I am the perfect color, have a little shine, and ooh, ooh, look at my subtle polka dots!". Fine. I was sold. I scooped up a yard and a quarter and headed home to make this festive frock.

I knew I wanted this skirt to be a "mini" since it was going to be worn with leggings (most likely fleece lined) or tights all the time.  I wanted a fit and flare silhouette, but didn't have much fabric, so I went with the Deer & Doe Chardon skirt (made previously here). This fabric was perfect to hold the structure of the pleats. 

Here are the details:

Pattern: Chardon Skirt / Jupe by Deer & Doe

Materials: Jacquard Twill in Burgundy Dot from The Needle Shop, Interfacing, Invisible zipper

Sizing / Fit Alterations: Cut size 42 - let out front pleat and side seams slightly for a perfect fit.

For mini length, I cut the skirt at the "contrast" line instead of the lower edge hem.

Construction Notes:

Understitch the waistband facing - it will help it lay smoother

Hand sewing required: tacking the facing down to the zipper tape, tack waistband facing at side seams

The pattern calls for a 10" regular zipper, but I used a 9" invisible zip

New technique - Blind Hem. 

My sewing machine has a special presser foot for this that I have never tried. My first attempt was reaaaaally bad, but I think the second try looks nice! Not perfect, by any means, but it makes me want to give it a go on future garments.

The Verdict: 

I really like this skirt pattern, and adore this fabric! Perfect for this time of year. I decided to pair it up with a couple options for photos, and ended up liking all of them. The ones above are just with a pale pink tee. I also could wear it with a silk tank:

Or a cozy sweater:

Or just a simple black tee with a statement necklace, which is how I wore it for a recent family Christmas party, when I got an awesome sewing book! Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress by Dolin Bliss O'Shea. There are some great patterns included - can't wait to try them out.

So, any sewing related presents on your Christmas wish list this year? Have you made any holiday attire? Sewn any Deer and Doe recently? Be sure to add it to our flickr pool! And thanks for reading! :)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Autumn Hearts Reglisse

One year ago, to the day, I posted about my first Reglisse dress.

And now, I give you my second rendition!

Pattern: Deer & Doe Reglisse Dress

Sizing: 38 (bust) 40 (waist) with added length to skirt

Fabric: Navy / Multi Hearts Polyester Print - Vogue Fabrics

All inside edges overlocked, except bias tape finish around neckline.
Also my first attempt at a rolled hem...

You may have seen my realization on instagram, when I discovered I've been using my serger totally wrong for the past two years! As in sewing ALL THE THINGS on the rolled hem setting. Derp!

Let's just say, I still love this dress as much as I did a year ago.

And I think November 24th may officially become a quirky peach + Reglisse tradition :)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's Princess Bubblegum!

I am SO VERY EXCITED about this post, friends! This year, for the first time, I sewed my own Halloween costume, and Oh. My. Glob. I LOVE IT! Our school held a teacher costume contest, and it had to be TV show themed. I wanted to make something that the kids would know, as last year my decision to be "Reigning Cats and Dogs" just went over everyone's head. I turned to one of my favorite shows - ADVENTURE TIME! And of course, decided to be Princess Bubblegum!

Princess Bubblegum has an adorable wardrobe, as you might expect, full of pink and purple. Her main outfit is a long pink gown with short puff sleeves, and a purple peter pan collar, waistband, and sleeve cuffs. I also wanted to make it with KNIT fabric, which is easier/faster to sew and would be comfortable to wear all day. I decided to try the Colette Moneta dress, which includes a peter pan collar variation.


For P Bubs dress, I only needed to use certain pieces of the pattern, so here are the pages I printed:

Pattern Pieces Used, Version 2: Front Bodice (A), Back Bodice (B), Short Sleeve (H)
Pages printed from Variation 2, Size XS-XL: 23-26, 28-36, 39-44

Pattern Pieces Used, Free E-book: Peter Pan Collar Front (G) size XS-XL, Collar Back (F) size XS-XL
Pages printed from Free E-book: 15, 21-22

My own added pieces - Waistband, Sleeve band / cuff, Skirt

Sizing: Small at the Bust, graded to Medium at the waist

Design Changes: Added waistband, altered sleeves, gathered floor length skirt

I altered the sleeve pattern piece to make them poofy and gathered using this tutorial, and added a sleeve band / cuff in purple

The waistband was cut to match the length of the lower edge of the bodice. If I add a waistband to this pattern again, I will move it up one inch.

The skirt is the width of the fabric, edges stitched together, and gathered to fit the waistband

Dress Construction Notes:

- Sewn with Archibald (sewing machine) and Clarence (serger)
- Very straightforward sew, except for my added design changes, which were also pretty simple

Tips for sewing the peter pan collar:

- Press pieces before sewing, but be sure not to stretch them out
- Interfacing not required if using a medium weight knit (like mine)
- After stitching along the outside of the collars, clip notches in the curves to reduce bulk and smooth out the edge
- When sewing the collar to the bodice, be sure your front pieces overlap at least 1/4" - this will cover the raw edge when it is flipped to the outside. If they are not overlapping enough, your raw edge will peek out from between the pieces - ask me how I know :P
- You could stitch in the ditch at the shoulder seams to help anchor the collar to the dress (I didn't ;)
- Tack the peter pan collar tips to the dress at the front *mine didn't lay flat, but I blame this on my heavier knit fabric


Pink - Reversible Knit Fabric from Joann's
Purple - Same fabric, different color, in scrap stash, used to make this Ivy Tee last summer

This is the "solid" side, which has a slight heathered look to it, and some sparkle! The other side is a very subtle stripe, which you can see better in my orange Plantain tunic, using this same fabric :)

How awesome that I had the exact color purple in my scrap bin, and it is the same exact fabric as the pink, just a different color! The OCD part of me is very pleased right now :)


Supplies: Gold satin headband, 1 sheet gold cardstock scrapbook paper, blue plastic rhinestone (all from Joanns), hot glue gun, scissors or rotary cutter/mat, white cardstock

- Cut long strip of both gold and white cardstock, wrapped around middle of headband and glued together and to headband
- Freehand cut out the shape of the crown, using large spool of thread to trace the circle at the top, with additional 1/2" at bottom to wrap underneath headband at front edge (this was the third attempt ;) and hot glue at bottom edge and corners
- Hot glue blue circle gem to top of crown et Voila!


Hair - Wig, purchased here on Amazon - styled in these photos in a bun to see the dress better. You can see it worn down in this picture on instagram. Not going to lie, I kind of love having pink hair :) But I am too lazy to deal with the constant upkeep. And this length - OMG. I kept getting tangled in my own hair all day!

Makeup - I almost purchased pink body/face color and went all pink, all the way, but decided to just go super pink on the makeup instead! :) And I've never talked about makeup on the blog, but I got hyperlink happy, so here we go:

Cheeks: Benefit's Hervana Blush* - my favorite blush, applied super heavy for P Bubs!
Lips: Lancome Juicy Tubes lipgloss over Pink Lady lipcolor
Eyes: L'Oreal Colour Riche Lipcolor in Pink Lady on lips and eyes ;)
Neutrogena powder eyeshadow duo on eyes (over lipstick)
Urban Decay eyeliner in Rockstar*
L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara*

*my go-to makeup, worn daily :)

FINN HAT for the hubs:

Made using the free pdf download available HERE *Did not watch the video until after attempting construction...I assumed it would be easy enough to sew for an accomplished seamstress like myself. Wrong! Lol. What I learned = I've been spoiled by well designed pattern piece markings. Pattern piece number 1 should say "cut on fold" at the front and if you want to line it, you need to cut two. Same goes for piece number 2, and piece number 3 should say "cut four". Fabric is white blizzard fleece, from the remnant section at Joanns, total cost $1.88 :)

WOW! Long post - sorry! But really, this is the most effort I have ever put into a costume and I want to brag about it share the valuable knowledge gained by this experience ;) I am definitely saving this if/when I go to a Comic Con! So what did you do for Halloween this year?! And what is the most awesome costume you have ever made? I am already planning to use this pink wig next year and rock an awesome Sakura ensemble :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Bronte Sisters - A Top and Dress (PPP #6)

Hello! I would like to introduce you to my new favorite knit pattern - the Bronte by Jennifer Lauren Vintage. I am a definite fan of sewing knits so for something to jump to the top of the list, it has to be pretty special right? This is a great pattern for pear shapes, with its flattering neckline shape, and is also a super quick sew. Win, Win. Oh, and it can easily be hacked into a dress :)

I was sent this pattern, as part of the newest Perfect Pattern Parcel. By now, I'm pretty sure everyone has heard of PPP, especially 'round these parts. This is my third time participating in the tour, and probably my favorite collection so far - I mean, just look at that top row - CUTE KNITS GALORE! :)

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

Perfect Pattern Parcel supports indie pattern designers. You can name your price for each parcel! Part of your price can even be donated to the charity Donors Choose. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. So far, it has raised over $12,000 for classrooms in need, like mine!!!

I knew as soon as I saw the new parcel, I would be making the Bronte top. It reminded me so much of one of my favorite old tops that I wore to death! I looked around for some heart fabric to recreate it exactly, but nothing was striking a chord with me, so off I went to lurk the shelves of Joanns for something suitable ;)

Version 1 - The Top

Fabric: 1.25 yards Beige Sweater Knit with gold polka dots from Joann's (in store)

Top Sizing/Fit Alterations:

- Size 10 at the bust/shoulders, graded to a 12 waist and 14 hip
- I added 2" in length to the top, at the "lengthen/shorten here" line
- Sleeves are 4" shorter than the long sleeve length, as that was all the fabric I had, which makes for a nice 3/4 sleeve

The metallic dots make me want to par-tay!
Top Construction Notes:

- Stitched with Archibald (my sewing machine) only - no serger
- Ballpoint needle, polyester thread, narrow zigzag stitch

My "I've made a huge mistake" moment: When attaching the front and back bodice pieces, I was slightly confused where to attach them. Instead of matching the tip of the binding to the notch on the bodice, I matched the notch on the binding to the notch on the bodice, on the front and back. This, in effect, made the armscye 2" smaller/tighter :( It wasn't until I finished the top that I realized my mistake.

After re-reading the directions, and the helpful explanation from this Bronte sewalong post, I discovered my error and fixed it on my next version. Guess what... it fits much better!

Version 2 - The Dress 

Fabric: 2 yds (48" wide) Silk Jersey Print in Red / Blue / Mustard / Ivory from Mood (new colorway available here)

Dress Sizing/Fit Alterations:

- Size 10 at the bust/shoulders, graded to a 12 waist
- Cut bodice 1" below original "lengthen/shorten here" line
- Added gathered skirt with remainder of fabric (just two rectangles)
- Sleeves are half length (just below elbow) - would have been longer BUT I accidentally cut out two right sleeves. To save fabric for the skirt, I moved the pattern piece down and re-cut the left sleeve from the same piece (thanks Ashley for the awesome tip!), which took away a couple inches.

Dress Construction Notes:

- Stitched with Archibald (my sewing machine), with serger only for skirt side seams, and hems.
- Ballpoint needle, silk/cotton thread, narrow zigzag stitch

Skirt construction
- Cut out two evenly sized rectangles from remaining fabric
- Stitched up side seams
- Gathered skirt with two rows of basting stitches
- Adjust gathers to match skirt top to lower bodice edge
- Attached clear elastic over gathers with zig zag stitch (check out this tutorial from Coletterie)
- Stitch bodice and skirt together

Clockwise from top: Dress neckline, Inside dress waistline (separated to show elastic), Inside top neckline
The Verdict:

Dress = LOVE, Top = Eh

I absolutely love the way the dress turned out. I have been hoarding this fabric in my stash for the longest time, waiting for a pattern that was simple but special. The neckline of Bronte is extremely flattering, and the close fit and straight gathered skirt fit well on my narrow fabric :) Silk jersey is the most amazing fabric to wear, OMG, I want more now!

The top is fine, I like the colors, but it has two issues that I know will keep me from wearing it. Firstly, my mistake which made it tight and scrunchy at the shoulders/arms. Secondly the metallic dots are not flattering around the tummy/hips in a tight fitting top like this. It would be a lot cuter as the dress version, actually.

Also, a quick note about the pdf pattern - it is expertly designed, fitting together perfectly. Each large pattern piece prints on it's own set of pages - FINALLY! And it is only 24 pages total, so super quick to put together.

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/winI will absolutely make this pattern again! It is such a great neckline, especially flattering for pear shapes like me, and its a knit, so... duh. If you are digging it too, go check out the Perfect Pattern Parcel - it includes this pattern and 4 or 5 more, plus you can support EDUCATION, STUDENTS and TEACHERS! Oh yeahhhh! :)

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.” 

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Blogging Process

Hi there friends! I've got something a little different for you today - a blog post about blogging! Ha! Actually this topic has been on my mind for awhile now, so when Marie of Ree Sewn nominated me in a blog hop, I decided to go for it :) Instead of answering the four questions exactly, I wanted to break it down a little more into the who/what/when/where/why/how of what goes in to a "quirky peach" blog post. I know, I know... SO EXCITING! But just keep ahold of yourself. We've got a long ways to go until the end.

WHO: Who exactly is this blogger anyways?

Me! Hi :) My name is Sally! I think it's important that a name goes with the face. A few fun facts:

- I am a 20 something living in a suburb of Chicago, IL (USA)
- I am happily married to a boy named Josh
- I teach music to kids for a living

WHAT: What do I blog about?

I blog about sewing projects (almost always clothing) that I have completed. These are often for me, myself, and I. Most are beginner or intermediate level garments. Occasionally you will see a tutorial, or random rambling like this.

WHEN: How often do I blog?

Every week - two weeks. Any more often and it feels like spam. Any less often and I feel like I'm neglecting this space. However, I try not to post just to post (lesson learned - January 2013 I haz 13 posts - why? anybody? lol) I also spend some time each week working on other aspects of the blog - pages, side bar, updating on other sites, etc.

WHERE: Where do I blog?

When I work on my blog, I am either sitting on the couch after a not too exhausting day at school (let's be honest, some days all I can manage is to eat dinner and watch Project Runway), or enjoying unlimited iced coffee refills at S*bucks on a weekend. It takes a LOT longer than I like to admit - at least a couple of hours - to create, edit, and publish a blog post.

WHY: Why do I blog?

Good question! Especially given the ridiculous number of great sewing blogs already out there! Well, when I started sewing, I found blogs to be incredibly helpful and motivating, and I decided I wanted to join in on the fun. My main two goals in blogging are:

Honest Sizing: I like to think I represent the "tall" demographic of ladies, being 6' myself, and also the pear shapes of the world. I want my posts to be a good gauge for both groups on how to adjust patterns to fit well, and I try to be completely honest about my size, and adjustments. I remember feeling like I was the only weirdo who had to grade out so much from the waist to the hip in sewing patterns, until I read another blog who did the same! Confidence boost! :)

Wearable Everyday Clothes: This sewing blog has actually helped me a lot in discovering my style. Looking back on some of my earlier clothing decisions, I can see that I was sewing whatever fabric was prettiest on the bolt, the newest indie pattern, or style trend, with no regards to "Will I ever wear this besides for blogging about it?" I like to make things I know I can wear in everyday life. I want my finished product to look store bought, but with a much better fit and in fabrics and colors I truly love. Sometimes pattern envelopes/photos just don't give a good idea of how the garment could be made for "everyday", and that is where the many variations posted online by bloggers and the like become extremely helpful!

HOW: The anatomy of a blog post

Okay, I will tell you right now that I can be super Type A when it comes to blogging. And it has only gotten worse with time (lol). Here is my own "format" that I use - not saying everyone should do it this way, but this is how it works best for me:


- Camera: I have a basic point and shoot camera. Some days it sits on a tripod with a self timer, and some days I can coerce my hubs into taking some snapshots for me

- Lighting: I (now) try to take all my photos outside, for the best natural light. Even if I take them indoors, it is during the day and the window shades are open

- Scenery: Either a somewhat picturesque location nearby my home, or a wall in my house serves as a backdrop. I have green walls in the main room, which can mess with colors, and my sewing room wall now has a huge collage on it, but they both work fine

- Edit: I use Picasa to edit the photos I choose to use for a blog post - this includes cropping, and sometimes lightening the photo, adjusting the color of the fabric, or strengthening the contrast, but never beyond that - we're all human, yo! Embrace the flaws :)

- I love how Morgan of Crab & Bee said it - the photos should capture the "look, fit, and feel of the garment"  Does your garment make you feel happy? sexy? cool? frumpy? Let's see it in those photos, ladies! Hahaha :)

- Here's a question for you: do you have a minimum / maximum number of photos you put in a blog post? I decided a while back that my maximum would be 10, and had to include detail shots, full length shots, from the front, sides, and back. I also made my photos bigger so you could actually see what was in them, and stopped cutting off my head :)


- My blog posts start as "outlines" of what I want to say, such as "talk about fabric issues here" or "The verdict:..."

- I don't consider myself a "writer" (bahaha - see above ridiculously long post), so I try to keep it concise, with the exception of the "Details" section. A picture is worth a thousand words

- My "Here are the Details" section is definitely the most time consuming part to write, but this is where other sewists can find out pertinent information in regards to sizing, construction, fit, etc. And since it is all in one place, it's easy to skip for those who aren't interested. I also directly copy and paste this section to my "Pattern Review" page, which makes things much easier to post over there

*Side note - when I started sewing, Pattern Review was like the holy grail of sewing knowledge! I found many of my favorite bloggers through it as well. The recent re-design is very nice, and while it isn't as pretty as kollabora, it is a treasure trove of information!

- I try to end each post with a question / questions for the reader to discuss in the comments - I think it is easier to getting a conversation going, and honestly is a nice break from replying "Thanks ____" all the time :) I am never very creative with my comment replies - sorry!

CONGRATULATIONS, YOU'VE REACHED THE END! All that to say, I am really happy I started a blog about sewing. I've met some super people, learned a heck ton about html AND french seams, and have a permanent record of my aging sewing process online for all to see! :) Over to you now - what are your guidelines for blogging? Why do you blog (if you do?) What do you like to see on a sewing blog? Do you even care about how other people go about blogging? Lay on the comments and we'll get this party started!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Deer & Doe Bruyère in Bicycles

Hi there, readers! Oh just me, hanging out on a perfect fall day in my new Deer and Doe Bruyère Shirt, avec BICYCLES! I sewed this up as part of Selfish Sewing Week (SSW), hosted by Rachael of Imagine Gnats! I cannot even tell you how excited I was to get Eléonore's newest pattern to try out!

This was such a fun top to make, but also challenging! Waistbands, sleeve plackets, cuffs, collars - you name it! Some definite new-to-me techniques, and a fully french seamed inside made this a slow process, but it was worth it! I can say this is one of my proudest sewing projects!

Here are the details:

Pattern: Bruyere Shirt, the newest from Deer & Doe Patterns

A long sleeve, button down tunic with waist band, darts, pleats, collar, and cuffs


100% Cotton - described as "a very nice cycle pattern for all children" ;)

Ten 9/16" buttons - vintage - found on Earth Gatherings, an Etsy shop

Thread (two spools!)

This is one of the best fabrics I have ever sewn with, and so wonderful to wear! It is light and soft, and the print! Bicycles! Originally I purchased this fabric to make a Bleuet dress, but it is a bit sheer so I decided it would be better as a top!

I could not believe how well it matched the buttons I found on Etsy a year previous to purchasing the fabric - the purple / gray / brown is such a unique color!

Sizing / Alterations:

Size: 38 (B), graded to 42 (W), graded to 46 (H)

While I should have made a size 40 (B) according to my current measurements, all my other Deer and Doe makes have been size 38 and fit wonderfully - I risked it and am very happy with the results!

Added length: 1 1/2 inches - Bodice, 1 inch - sleeve

Next time I will sew a size 40 waist (there is a little extra room there), and lengthen the sleeve another inch

Construction Notes:

Oh boy! This is possibly one of the more advanced patterns I've made, thanks in part to my decision to FRENCH SEAM ALL THE THINGS! Here are my thoughts on a few parts of the process:

These pattern instructions are a good mix of illustration and text, but nothing too extensive - the pattern is rated "Advanced" but I think an Intermediate level sewist (like myself) could pull it off - just be sure to take your time! This is not a one-afternoon project ;)

The collar, facing, and button placket construction is very cool - I like the finish quite a lot and it didn't take nearly as much time as a "proper collar" with a stand and everything

Button placket - to interface, or not? You are to interface the collar and sleeve cuff, but no mention of it for the button placket? Also does "topstich 7/8" from the edge" mean on both sides? I only did one.

Sleeve placket - I sewed mine inside out - oops!

Sleeve cuffs - possible the trickiest part, gathering and inserting the sleeve end into the cuff. Next time, maybe I will baste the sleeve end to one side of the cuff before pressing the ends in 5/8"?

Eléonore includes directions to use french seams for a impeccable finish - this included: waist band, side seams, armscye, and sleeve seams - all other seam allowances are neatly hidden in between other pieces, etc. and it really does look flawless! :)

And that's really all I have to say about that! I am so proud of this garment, inside and out. It will be in high rotation through the autumn :) Be sure to check out Selfish Sewing Week with Imagine Gnats - there are several featured stitchers, sewing up some amazing indie patterns!

Oh! And of course, I will be adding this to the flickr pool for Let's Sew Deer & Doe! Two awesome sewing collaborations, one adorable bicycle top :)