Ginger Made: Simplicity 1690

Hi, guys! Hope you’re well! I’ve been feeling really scatterbrained in the sewing room lately. After a string of duds, I set aside my slow-going projects and whipped up a quick top. Sometimes you just need to feel some sewing satisfaction instead of just plodding along, you know?

This is Simplicity 1690, a Leanne Marshall design. I bought the pattern because I thought the skirt would look cute on my little sister, but I think I’ll stick to sewing her things with an adjustable waist for the time being as the last skirt with a fitted waist that I made, well, didn’t fit (sewing long distance isn’t easy!). I liked the simple lines of this top, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Big 4 patterns often run big, in my experience, so I checked the finished measurements before cutting. Lo and behold, it runs true to size! I’ve heard that the designer patterns sometimes do- has that been your experience? I wanted to use French seams, but the pattern has splits at the side hem, so I just turned and stitched the seam allowances to finish them. The neckline is finished with a bias facing- you fold the bias binding in half, match it to the raw edge of the neckline, stitch, and then press the whole thing underneath before topstitching it down. I really liked this- it’s a tidy, clean finish, but without all the tedious fiddling around you have to do with a bound neckline. The bias loop was too long for my neckline, though, so I had to shorten it, but maybe I stretched it out too much with handling.  I thought the pattern looked short, so I lengthened it by 2″, which might have been too much. Next time I think I’ll reduce that by 1″.

The fabric is a cotton-silk blend, and it’s really special to me because it was a gift from Stephanie! She sent it to me with the yarn for my grandpa cardigan and a few other goodies. I really like the abstract print, and it feels really nice on my skin. I’ve had it in my stash for a while, so I’m really happy to be wearing it instead of hoarding it.  The only thing that’s kind of weird is that the print sort of… flattens me? See what I mean? It looks like the shirt hangs straight down from my shoulders! I promise I’m not really THAT flat! But I’m guessing that wearing a longish necklace would sort that out. :)

I really, really like this top and would love to make a few more. It’s easy to wear, and the neckline is really flattering, in my opinion. Plus it’s a quick make and doesn’t take much fabric. Hooray for easy sewing!

I think I’m walking on an invisible tight rope here?

A few more items of business: first of all, the Felt Dogs giveaway winner, chosen by random.org, is Show and Tell Meg! I’m a little worried that my mom, an avid corgi-ist, will be inspired to do like Meg and make a corgi out of corgi!  ;)

Next up, there’s still time to sign up for my sewing class and for the Sewing Swap Meet & Party! I have it on good authority that Gail will be in town and attending the party- I can’t wait to meet her!

Finally, I shared this photo on Twitter, but I was tickled pink when my mother-in-law sent me a pic of this dress:

It’s a dead ringer for the dress Megan wore in the season premiere Sunday night! She’s had it since 1969! Pretty cool, huh?

Well, that’s all, folks! What are you up to these days? Any special sewing on the docket?

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Book Report: Felt Dogs!

Hi, guys! Before I dive into this post, I should warn you… you’re going to need your official Anti-Cute-Overdose Goggles to survive this! Put ‘em on and let’s go!

Ready?

You might be a little confused about why I’m reviewing a book about needle felting, but this should clear it up:

Pugs!!! The very sweet Patricia from Laurence King Publishing thought I might like to review Felt Dogs, and boy, was she right!  All she had to say was “pug” and I was in!  How cute are these fuzzy little guys?!

I mean, seriously.

The book is a brand-new translation from Japanese.  It walks you through the process of making felt dogs from gathering your materials to finishing with the perfect button nose. There are multiple breeds, and multiple poses.

If, like me, you don’t know much about needle felting, it’s the process of using a barbed needle to shape soft, fluffy wool roving into firm shapes. You just jab and jab and jab, molding it as you go.  As far as supplies go, you don’t need too many- a needle, a felting mat, and something to protect your fingers, and then you just need roving. I’d love it if any readers who do needle felting could chime in with any good places to source these supplies!

I’m sure this isn’t for everyone, but I’m just loving these projects! You can make a beagle:

A chihuahua:

A corgi (my mom’s favorite!):

Or even a dachshund (paging Pretty Grievances!!!):

I can imagine a younger version of myself getting really into this. It seems like a great activity for older kids or teens who are responsible enough to handle a sharp needle.

Now comes the fun part! As usual, Laurence King has provided a copy for one of my U.S. readers! If you want to win the book, leave a comment letting me know you want to enter the drawing. I’d also love to know your favorite breed of dog!  I’ll close the giveaway on Friday, April 11th at 11:59PM EST and draw a winner right away. Yay!

And look- the book even gets the rare Pug Seal of Approval (usually reserved for plush pillows and Goldfish crackers)!

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Ginger Made: The “Ladies Who Lunch… and Also Party” Two-Piece Dress!

Hi, guys! Long time no see! In the month since I’ve last posted, I’ve been busy as a bee working on a special project!  Over at the Mood Sewing Network this month, we were challenged to make a look inspired by a SS 2014 runway collection, and today I can finally show you mine!  Please pardon the photos- it was 21 degrees Fahrenheit and super windy, so I was freezing!

I’m not someone who really follows runway fashion, and, prior to this challenge, I had never even heard of the designers I’m drawing inspiration from.  But as I looked at many, many, MANY photos of runway shows, I kept coming back to Sea‘s spring RTW collection (seriously, check it out- there are some really cute looks here!).  The collection was split between looks that were tough, dark, and semi-androgynous and looks that were romantic and feminine. I especially liked the looks where the designers mixed up prim, proper textiles and silhouettes with modern details like cut-outs and exposed zippers.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I decided to make a traditional cocktail dress and help it to reverse age by turning it into a two-piece.  I wanted to use a fabric that felt classic and maybe even a little old-fashioned, so I selected black and pink cotton-poly tweed from Mood Fabrics NYC. It has a very loose weave, and looks like a something you might use for a French jacket or something similar.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I wanted to start with a sweet ’60′s vibe, so I used the skirt portion of my favorite vintage McCall’s 5995 pattern (here it is as a dress, and as a pencil skirt).  I changed the kick pleat to a slit and drafted a waistband with a finished width of 2″ and a 2″ overlap.  I wanted the silhouette to be neat and clean, but not too tight, so I was careful to fit the skirt but not go overboard.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I liked the cut-outs in the inspiration photos, but decided to take the idea a little further and turn the dress into skin-baring separates.  My original plan was to make the top from the Named Patterns Vanamo dress, but after a failed muslin, I abandoned it and decided to draft my own.  I stole the neckline from the Deer & Doe Belladone pattern, and fudged my way through the rest of the patternmaking until I had something workable.  The top closes with a separating zipper that’s covered by an overlap.  The neckline and armholes are finished with an all-in-one facing, which I didn’t enjoy sewing one bit- I didn’t think through my construction and hand-stitching rapidly-fraying tweed wasn’t one of my happiest sewing moments! I finally enlisted Man Friend’s steady hands and cool head, and he helped me forge through when I was down to my last nerve! The waist is also faced, which helped to reduce bulk, too.  I’m not kidding when I say that thinking out how the zipper and facings needed to be installed kept me up at night! I literally laid in bed, unable to sleep, sorting out the construction order and plan of attack on more than one night! I didn’t come up with a perfect plan as I still had to do tons of seam-ripping and re-sewing, but everything came together eventually.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

…Did I mention the fabric has a very loose weave?  This makes it drapey and soft, but it was too drapey for my purposes, so I underlined every piece with black cotton shirting, basting the two layers together in the seam allowances and along the dart legs and centers. This made it much easier to handle. Unfortunately, it frayed like the dickens, so I also fused 1/2″ strips of interfacing to the seam allowances to help the fabric stay together.  This was a SLOW project!  By the time I’d underlined the fabric, things got pretty bulky, so I left off the planned linings altogether.  Instead I finished the seam allowances by zigzagging them and then stitching on rayon seam binding and wide ribbon inherited from my mom’s stash.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

Look how perfectly the dress matches my purple skin!

I wanted to be really careful with proportions and fit for this outfit since I knew I would feel really uncomfortable or worse, trashy, if there was too much skin on show. But I wanted to make sure that the top was cropped enough to top to give a youthful edge to the look, like belonged on Jackie O’s younger, hipper sister.  I finished the skirt first so I could make sure the top was the right length.  I’m really happy with the final proportions.  I feel bold and sassy in this outfit, but still remarkably put together.  One thing that worries me, though, is that I’m not 100% certain where I can wear it!  Any ideas?

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

Although it was a challenge to decide on a runway-inspired style and sew it up, it was fun to work in such a different way and to wear something that’s a bit of a departure from my usual style.  But what about you guys?  Do you draw inspiration from runway looks?  Are there any spring trends that you’re excited to try out?

I wanted to do a supermodel pose, but I’m not sure my expression is vacant enough.

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Ginger Made: By Hand London Flora Dress!

Hi, guys! I’m so excited to show you my newest dress! Yay! I was lucky enough to be a tester for By Hand London‘s newest sewing pattern, the Flora Dress.  I’ve had the hardest time keeping my trap clapped- I wanted to spill the beans so badly!

Flora has two bodice options, a fitted tank with a high neckline, or this faux wrap. I generally don’t like wrap dresses (I know, I’m alone in this) and I rarely even wear a v-neck, but I thought it would be fun to try something different from my usual style. You can also choose between a pleated skirt and a pleated skirt with a dipped hem (I chose the latter).

By Hand London Flora Dress by Ginger Makes

I used a bright polyester taffeta from Mood Fabrics NYC. It was kind of a strange fabric, very tightly woven (it was really hard to get pins to pierce it!) and almost like windbreaker material, so it might be kind of an unusual choice for a party dress, but it has lots of body and I thought that would make for a fun, billowy skirt. I used a sharp needle and low tension, which worked well.

By Hand London Flora Dress by Ginger Makes

The pattern is very easy and quick to sew up. I understitched the lining very carefully along the bodice and used a lining that was very similar in color to minimize flashing the lining, which worked really well.

By Hand London Flora Dress by Ginger Makes

Here’s my perky pink lining, made with cotton shirting from Mood. You could easily add a skirt lining, but I didn’t feel like I needed it. I used French seams where I could, and where I couldn’t, I used ready-made bias binding from my stash that coordinated perfectly!  If you make the version with the dipped hem, you need to make sure that your center back seam is nice and pretty since you’ll see peeks of it! Hooray for pretty seams!

By Hand London Flora Dress by Ginger Makes

I haven’t made a lined bodice with a faux wrap before, so I was glad to have it explained clearly as figuring it out on my own would have melted my brain (but that’s just me). You need to press under the lining and dress shell seam allowances at the arm holes and then slip stitch them together. I’d never done this before and try to avoid hand stitching as much as possible, but I couldn’t figure out another way to finish the seam allowances! To avoid puckers, I ran a basting stitch just inside the seam allowances around the arm hole, then clipped every 1/2″ or so around the arm hole before pressing them under. I left the basting stitch in because I was worried about fraying- hopefully that will work!

By Hand London Flora Dress by Ginger Makes

I’m a little bit unhappy with the fit, sadly. I made a silly mistake, so it’s all my fault. I made a muslin and decided I wanted the waist to be more fitted (I tend to under-fit rather than over-fit to avoid this, but I thought the dress would look nicer if the waist was more emphasized). But when I made the changes to the muslin, I must have stretched it out a bit because the final version in the fashion fabric is too tight (the polyester has absolutely no give whatsoever).  There are diagonal lines pulling from the waist to the bust, which is kind of annoying. I also didn’t think about the fact that taking in the waist pretty drastically would pull the bust darts closer to the side seams, so they’re not quite right now, either. I’ll know better next time!

By Hand London Flora Dress by Ginger Makes

Fit issues notwithstanding, I’m really happy with this dress! It’s a fun party dress, and I feel like a princess when I’m twirling around in the skirt (even if I look like an idiot in reality)! I’m looking forward to making another! I know I sound like a total fangirl, but the By Hand London girls have a knack for designing patterns that I didn’t know I really wanted to wear. I just love their aesthetic!

By Hand London Flora Dress by Ginger Makes

This is what happens when I try to twirl.

So what do you guys think? Do you like this pattern? What’s your perfect party dress? Have you made it already, or is it something you’re still dreaming of making one day?

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Sew Grateful Week Giveaway Winner

I’m kind of sad that Sew Grateful Week is over! It’s such a fun week! I really enjoyed everyone’s posts and thoughts on gratitude. But before I leave it behind, there’s one more thing to take care of… announcing the winner of my Coco giveaway!

Excluding duplicate comments or replies from me, there were 167 entries.  Our random winner was…

…#11, dressingtherole!

Hmmm, blue nubby sweater knit sounds awfully nice!  But there was one other entrant whose comment touched my heart and several other readers’, too:

I’m so sorry to read about Linda’s niece’s illness, but I’m really touched by her generosity and I hope that a new dress cheers her up a bit.  I hope that you guys can keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

 

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U.S. Sewing Bee!

Oh, boy, party dudes, I have some good news for you! I was contacted by a casting producer from Love Productions who asked me to help spread the word about an opportunity to be in the pilot of a U.S. version of the super-popular Great British Sewing Bee! I’ve been pretty jealous that all you U.K. residents are able to watch season 2 right now, so it’s fun to think that there may be a U.S. version soon!

Some details: As of right now, they are casting for the pilot (a premiere, test episode) and are looking for people in the NY/NJ/CT area.  The competition is for amateur stitchers, so Vera Wang, sorry, girl, this ain’t for you!  That’s really all I know, but check out the flyer for more info!  There’s nothing I’d love more than to watch this show and to see some familiar internet faces in the crowd!

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Sew Grateful Week 2014: Giveaway!

I love Sew Grateful Week! It’s an annual event organized by Debi of My Happy Sewing Place to give us a chance to give back to the lovely folks that make the sewing world the sweetest corner of the internet.  I’m ever so grateful for all the support, inspiration, and humor that you guys share so generously, so it’s nice to have an “official” time to show my thanks!

image from Tilly and the Buttons

This year my giveaway was a no-brainer… something brand-new, easy, and fun, Tilly‘s new Coco pattern!  I just made my first version and will definitely be making more!

I’m giving away a PDF version, so it can go to anyone anywhere! If you’d like a chance to win, just leave a comment below. I’m nosy, so I’d love to hear which version you’d like to make and what kind of fabric you’d use, if you feel like sharing!  I’ll close the giveaway Friday, February 28th at 11:59PM EST so the winner can get their copy on Saturday!  Yay!

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Ginger Made: Coco Dress!

Tilly & the Buttons Coco Dress by Ginger Makes

Sooooo… I really didn’t mean to buy another pattern.  I’m really trying, people, honest!  But when I saw the latest from Tilly and the Buttons, the Coco pattern, I couldn’t help myself and downloaded it right away.  I printed it out, dug up some stash fabric, and sewed it right up!  It was just too cute to wait!  The slowest and hardest part of the process was finding time in my photographer’s busy schedule!

Tilly & the Buttons Coco Dress by Ginger Makes

As you can see, I made the dress variation with three-quarter sleeves, cuffs, and a funnel neck.  There are also variations for a top, long sleeves, and a standard Breton top slash neck.  Plenty of options!  The pattern was super easy to stitch up and takes no time at all.

Tilly & the Buttons Coco Dress by Ginger Makes

I used a sweatshirt-weight French terry that I bought with a Living Social coupon at Paron Fabrics nearly two years ago.  It’s been hogging up space in my stash for way too long, so I was so happy to stitch it up!  I probably shouldn’t have made the version with cuffs and a funnel neck since the fabric is so thick, but I loved them so much that I tried it anyway.  The seam allowances are a bit bulky, but I can live with that.

Since the fabric is so thick, the seam allowances didn’t want to lie flat- I could press them flat, but they would spring back almost immediately.  I solved this problem by topstitching them down.  Let’s just call it a design detail!  I hemmed the dress by turning it up and twin needling it.  I don’t know it if was because of the weight of the fabric, but the hem sagged at the side seams instead of standing out, so I just trimmed it even before hemming.

Tilly & the Buttons Coco Dress by Ginger Makes

I don’t usually wear skirts that are flared or even A-line, so this is a little different look for me, but it’s really fun!  It’s super easy to wear, and since it’s made from French terry, it’s really, really comfortable.  Man Friend was pretty jealous of getting to wear something so cozy as actual clothes (he kept telling me I needed to make more “housedresses”… um, let’s not call them that… maybe “secret pajamas”?).  This dress and the pattern is a total win! I’m excited to make more- it’s a quick make and I have a few other pieces in my stash that are now Cocos-to-be! Plus, I just realized that this works for #sewbluefebruary!  #Win!

Tilly & the Buttons Coco Dress by Ginger Makes

Do you love this pattern, too?  What are you sewing right now?  Anybody else made any accidental pattern purchases lately?

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Ginger Made: Houndstooth Victoria Blazer!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

Guys, I’ve been watching a LOT of TV lately. A LOT.  I feel like a bit of a couch potato, but it’s totally justified since I work in film and television—it counts as homework, right?

JUST SAY YES.

My main obsession lately has been all things BBC- Dr. Who, Torchwood, Luther, and Sherlock, to name a few. All of this led to a sudden, desperate attraction to classic British wool garments—there are only so many times you can see Benedict Cumberbatch swirling around in a fantastic wool coat before you want to wrap yourself in tweed from head to toe!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

I picked up this classic wool houndstooth a while ago from Mood Fabrics NYC, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I considered many options—sheath dress, shift dress, jacket, cape—before settling on one of my all-time favorite patterns, the By Hand London Victoria blazer. You can’t go wrong with a houndstooth blazer!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

This fabric is really soft and drapey, which worked really well with this pattern. Since it’s meant to be slouchy and casual, nothing is interfaced and there aren’t any facings, which makes this a little quicker to construct than more traditional blazers. It was a breeze to sew and press the fabric, and since the wool is so malleable, setting in the sleeves was a cinch! Let’s not talk about the sleeves I set in the other day in a stiff, unforgiving twill… I’m still traumatized!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

The blazer is fully lined in rayon bemberg, also from Mood. I love this soft peachy color. I bought a ton of it a few months back and use it every chance I get! I really like rayon linings since they’re breathable and affordable, so I buy five or six yards of it when I find it in a color I like so I can get a few projects out of it.  I used a scrap of cotton/silk (leftover from this dress waaaaaay back in 2011) for the pockets as it was a perfect match.

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

Don’t worry, guys, my fun with Brit-inspired wools isn’t over yet! Right before I cut into this fabric, I decided I would give the blazer to my sister. She’s headed off to grad school in the fall, and this just screams “Academic Chic” to me! I hope she’ll feel too cool for school when she’s wearing it! But before you get the impression that I’m a sewing saint, know that I’ve been hoarding a nice length of tweed for myself, so I’ll have a fun blazer of my own in no time!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

Do you ever draw sewing inspiration from television? Which shows inspire you most?  Is it weird that almost every episode of Dr. Who makes me weep like a child?  Go on, spill the beans!

Victoria Blazer in Houndstooth Wool by Ginger Makes

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