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!