Thursday, December 19, 2013

Polka Dot Hawthorn Peplum

I bought Colette's Hawthorn pattern months ago during some such sale or another (because I am cheap and refuse to buy patterns full price).  Since then I have been hemming and hawing over it, worried that the style was a bit too twee for me.  However, at the same time, I have been obsessed with some of the blouse versions I have seen on ye older internets, namely this one and this one, both in polka dot fabric.

I ultimately decided that maybe I could pull off the polka dot blouse version if I found some darker colored fabric to take the girly edge off.  Luckily I scored some super cheap black and teal polka dot fabric on Bangkok's crazy Sampeng Lane.  Because of the fabric's price I didn't feel too bad treating this first version like a wearable muslin; and wearable it is! I think it came out pretty cute!  Not without faults, but cute nonetheless.  Definitely has a vintage vibe to it without being old-fashioned.

The faults: I think my collar interfacing may have been too thick because I cannot get get it to lay flat... I've heard others had this problem, too, so maybe it's not just me.  I sewed it down at the shoulder seams, but may have to sew the corners down, too.  Also, the waist is bit messed up- somehow my button placement is off or my hook and eye insertion is faulty (or both), but there is a big ugly gap at the waist, so the top can't be worn without a belt.  The nips may be a wee bit pointy, too.

I skipped the sleeve bands out of laziness and just serged and folded up the hem to maximize length, but otherwise followed the pattern.  I made covered buttons for the first time using a kit I got at the Japanese dollar store here in Bangkok (might be my new favorite store)- fun stuff.  

I think next time I'd like to play with a lower neckline- a deeper V.  Not sure how to go about that, but I'll figure it out!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stripey Knit Harem Pants

I dunno why I waited so many months before sewing up some of these patterns, but now that it's gift-making time, it's so on.  I thought the Greenpoint cardigan was fast, but this one was record-breakingly quick.

I made these guys for baby Anna.  I used the same combo of small and large green-striped fabric that I used for my Recess Raglan a few months ago (vintage knit from Martha and one of Tim's old t-shirts), barely eking out a 12-month size from the fabric scraps I had left over.  I figure since Anna has the McCarthy coloring so much more than perma-tan sister Zoe she can rock the kelly green like a natural.  Also: paired with red, they're Christmas pants, with green or orange, they're St. Patty's Day pantalones. 

My second foray into homemade harem pants was equally as awesome as my first, if not more since this is a pattern for knit fabric, making it super quick to whip up on the serger.  Two thumbs up for quick and cute!  I kinda wish I had a pair for myself. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sheepish Greenpoint Cardigan

In a mad rush to make some Christmas gifts to send home with Tim when he heads back to the States next week, I whipped up this eye-searingly bright (in a good way) cardigan for Zoe:

The pattern is the Greenpoint Cardigan from Hey June.  I bought it as part of the Sew Fab pattern bundle, a crazy good deal that hooked me up with 26 patterns for $30. My theory was that even if I don't end up using one or two of patterns in the bundle, I've still scored a pretty awesome deal.  I'm interested to see what patterns are in the bundle next time around!

My version of the Greenpoint Cardigan, in this technicolor sheep knit that Martha bought me from Joann Fabrics (click on the pics for a closer view of the cute little guys), doesn't quite capture the mini-hipster vibe of some of the other versions out there, but I am pretty sure it is the brightest, happiest cardigan around, hipsters be damned.  The bright yellow buttons came from a giant mixed bag o' buttons courtesy of Chatuchak weekend market here in Bangkok.

The pattern is super easy to sew up, especially with my trusty serger, still loaded up with white thread from my Weekend Getaway blouse (man, I hate changing the thread on that thing.).  A good basic cardigan pattern that comes in a ton of sizes... even if I hadn't gotten the pattern as part of the bundle I think I would have bought it anyway.  Raglan sleeves and banded hems?  Don't mind if I do.  I envision many more of these cardigans to come in the future.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Weekend Getaway Blouse

Recently I realized that literally everything I have sewn for myself to date has been made from printed or patterned fabric...  with all of that pattern in my wardrobe, what I really needed was a simple white blouse.

I liked the new Weekend Getaway blouse from Liesel & Co. from the minute I saw it and only got more anxious to make it after seeing so many cute versions pop up on the interwebs
For white fabric, I wanted something light with a little bit of texture, but not something too girly like lace or eyelet.  Chuck and I found this fun textured, slightly stretchy cotton in Bangkok's Chinatown.  In retrospect, it might be juuuuuuust a little too stiff for this pattern, but really not too bad.  I had originally intended to sew the pockets on, but they were too bulky in this particular fabric, so I skipped them this time.

My next Weekend Getaway will be in a flowier fabric, I think, like voile or rayon challis. Now that I see the photos of myself in it, I might go down a size,too, because there is a ton of ease (also maybe due to the stretch factor in my fabric).  In fact, I might take the sides in on this one right meow.  I dig the pattern, though, so I imagine my next one will be sooner rather than later!

(As an aside, check out my Thanksgiving burn on my arm... ouch!)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Tree Skirt

Tim and I are spending Christmas here in Bangkok, so I thought we'd give in and get ourselves a tree to amp up the Christmas-y-ness (?) of things (sometimes it's hard to believe it's the holidays when it's 90 degrees out).

Anywho, the plastic base of our artificial tree was not the most attractive, so I thought I'd make a skirt with some Christmas fabric I had on hand.  I found this great tutorial online and used it as the basis for mine. 

Here's what I did:
  • Used 2 fabrics, cutting 4 wedges of each per the tutorial (I made my circle a bit smaller- more like 20 inches long).  
  • Serged all of the wedges together, cut the hole in the center and covered all of the seams in red bias tape.  
  • Bound the inner and outer edges of the circle with the single fold bias tape (that's all I had and I was too lazy to make my own), added some snaps down the back opening.  
  • Skipped all of the layers- just a single layer of quilting cotton worked fine for me, but things might be different if you're trying to cover a bigger stand for a live tree.

Ta da! Came out pretty cute!  This skirt came together really quickly... it would be epically fast if I didn't mess around with the bias tape on the seams.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Anna Dress Wearable Muslin

Woo!  Anna dress done, finished in time for By Hand London's sew-along grand finale, but not photographed or blogged until now for reasons of laziness/moving chaos/international travel and adventure.

I am super jazzed about this dress because the pattern fit pretty much perfectly right out of the envelope.  No back gaping problems like others seemed to have. I didn't make any (purposeful) alterations, although I think I may have accidentally decreased the seam allowance on the back center seam a bit to 3/8 inch when I inserted the zipper.  No biggie.  I may have to add some bra strap stays, I think, because the neck is a teeny bit wide.

The dress was quite easy to put together, even with the dreaded facings.  Although I will say, damn Gina!, there was a lot of seaming in that skirt (check out the dress innards below)... my serger was like, "Dude. Seriously.":

This Anna is basically serving as a wearable muslin for me because I used some soooooper cheap fabric that I picked up here at a shop in Bangkok's Sampeng area.  I think its a cotton blend of some sort, pretty lightweight.  Guess how much it cost.  Just guess...  3 meters for 100 baht (about $3)!  Niiiice.

I'm pretty happy with my final product!  Things I need to work on: pattern matching (although the 7 part skirt probably made that unusually difficult) and invisible zipper insertion.  My invisible zipper is certainly not invisible and it catches a little bit, but ya know, it's a muslin.  And it was my first invisible zipper, so I'll call it a win because it goes up and down, ish.  In any case, I'm psyched to wear the dress out and about!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Quick and Dirty Machine Covers

Sorry for the delay in posting!  It's been a crazy week full of networking/job interviews, our shipment arriving from Indonesia, an epic Ikea adventure (complete with post-purchase assembly fun), etc.  

I've got my sewing area mostly set up at our new apartment in Bangkok, but I quickly realized that I really needed covers for my sewing machine and serger if I want to leave them out and ready to use.  I found the cat (who shall not be named... let's just say her name means "three" in Indonesian, and I'm pretty sure that's how many brain cells she has) had taken an interest in the thread from the serger, pulling it off the spool, dragging it across the apartment, wrapping it around the dining room table several times and once around the couch, creating a spiderweb of thread and driving me insane.  So, for her health (don't want to see her innards all tangled in thread if she ingests some of it) and mine (I don't want to even think about having to re-thread the serger... I get a headache at the just the idea), covers.

I made these quick and dirty covers loosely based on some tutorials I found online, but without all of the bells and whistles (no handles, pockets, piping or binding).  I basically cut a piece that goes up and over from back to front and sewed it to two rounded corner side pieces.  Serged the bottom hem and ta-da!  They're not masterpieces, but they get the job done (the job being keeping dust off the machines and the machines away from the cat).  

The fabric is some cute striped denim that I picked up during the aforementioned Ikea adventure.  Got plenty of it to make some jumpers for the nieces, too.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Polka Dot Mara Blouse

I know I promised that my next piece would be my wearable muslin of By Hand London's Anna dress, and it was next in the sewing line.  In fact, it's done but for a hook and eye and some action shots.  Coming soon!

Instead I present Compagnie M's Mara blouse: a cute little round yoke blouse for the kiddos.

I made it for Zoe using some fun BelleBoo fabric I scored on Sampeng Lane here in Bangkok: polka dots with a few hearts thrown in for good measure.

I think this pattern is really cute, although my implementation leaves a little to be desired... the pintucks got a little lost in the big print (they're right below the yoke if you can't see them) and my flat piping around the yoke is a bit of an uneven mess.  I'm not sure why I had so much trouble easing the yoke in, but I'm confident Zoe won't notice my shoddy craftsmanship. I changed up the sleeves a bit, tapering them a little at the ends rather than going for the fluffy, elasticized sleeve.

I'll definitely make another Mara blouse soon!  I am driven to improve on this one!

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Sewjo is Back

Somehow our recent move to Bangkok squashed my sewing mojo (sewjo?) a bit.  In an effort to rejuvenate it (and to justify having brought my sewing machine and part of my stash in the air shipment in lieu of something more practical like extra towels), I took myself on a fabric field trip.  The field trip seemed to do the trick because I am back in action!

Some Googling informed me that Bangkok's main fabric shopping area is in Chinatown, on a teeny, yet packed-to-the-gills alley called Sampeng (also called Soi Wanit 1, also called something else in Thai, leading to much confusion on my part).  I followed these directions and took the MRT and a bus to get there, got a little lost (see aforementioned street name confusion), but ultimately stumbled on the fabric- and sewing paraphernalia-lover's dream (and claustrophobe's nightmare, see photos here) that is Sampeng.  Sadly, I did not take my own photos this time (I was a bit overwhelmed, dodging food carts and whatnot), but have plans to head back quite soon, photographer in tow, and will definitely post about it on my other blog when I do!  In any case, I walked away sweaty and clutching several bags full of dirt-cheap fabric.  

This little baby dress is made from some of the fabric procured during my Sampeng adventures and is for the cute baby of Mr. Ben and Erin (who are our neighbors again, woo!). Specifically, it's some cute elephant printed quilting weight cotton from Belleboo, which designs and prints its own fabric here in Thailand.  The pattern I used is the Summer Breeze baby dress pattern (free!) from Shwin and Shwin (designers of some other patterns I have used: Maggie Mae tunic, Rita Pants, Lucy tops), which is super easy.  Instant gratification certainly restarts the sewjo.  And the phrase "summer breeze" certainly elicits inescapable earworms.

UPDATE: Truly instant gratification... Baby Z wore the dress the next day at the beach:

My next sewing task: a wearable muslin of By Hand London's Anna Dress.  I have already muslined (is that a word?) the bodice and it seems good to go as is, so I plan to make the whole dress from some super cheap ($1/meter!!!!) cotton blend fabric I bought on Sampeng. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Eli Baby Top

I whipped up a shortened version of this knit Eli Baby Dress for Anna... it came out pretty cute!  I love how the lacy leaves form the neckline.  It'll probably fit her in the spring/early summer.

I made it into a top rather than a dress by stopping at row 60 and then adding the seed stitch hem.  I also sewed a button on the back and crocheted a tiny button loop with the long tail left over from my cast-on rather than using ties.  

Made with Plymouth Yarn's Grass (a cotton and hemp mix) in a blue/gray color.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last Minute Batiking

Who went a little crazy with the last-minute, pre-move batik shopping this weekend?

This guy!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

See Kate Sew's Easy Summer Baby Dress

Whipped up this teeny baby dress for Mr. Ben and Erin's little one using See Kate Sew's free and awesomely easy pattern:

Same fabric combo as my pleated playsuit.

Can't wait to see it on her in a month or two when it fits her!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shiitake and Pumpkin Ravioli

I'm cleaning out my cabinets (as well as the freezer and fridge) this week because.. wait for it... Tim and I are moving to Bangkok, Thailand.  Woo!  More details to come soon over at the other blog.  For purposes of this blog, moving means cooking and eating through the substantial pantry I have built up over the past couple years here in Jakarta.  This meal made a dent, taking care of: a can of pumpkin, half a container of walnuts, parmesan cheese, and a pack of gyoza wrappers from the freezer.

I used this recipe for shiitake and pumpkin ravioli, although I changed it up a teeny bit, using regular soy sauce in lieu of tamari and rosemary in lieu of sage.  Also, for the sauce, I browned the butter with a handful of chopped walnuts and minced rosemary.  Awesomesauce.  Literally.

I highly recommend this recipe- it's super easy and quite a tasty delight.  The sweetness from the pumpkin is great with the savory/umami of the mushrooms and soy.  Perfect!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cucumber Mint Martini

Cucumber, mint, gin, lime juice, simple syrup.. mmm.  Tim made this martini, AKA "The Ellison," minus the bitters (because we didn't have any), last week.  Fresh and tasty!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

By Hand London's Victoria Blazer in Balinese Ikat

I missed jumping on the initial By Hand London bandwagon, but my patterns have finally made it around the world to me and I am running to catch up and jump on! 

The Victoria Blazer sewalong was held in July while I was on the road with Martha, so I wasn't able to join in, but I was thinking about their cool and casual blazer constantly and admiring others' versions as they popped up on ye olde interwebs (this one and this one and this one and this one... I die.).  Since I couldn't get the blazer off of my mind, while in Ubud, Bali, Martha and I picked out these two pieces of gorgeous hand-woven Balinese ikat fabric specifically for the Victoria (as well as a shit ton of ikat for other purposes!).  A beautiful patterned ikat for the outside and a coordinating "solid" for the lining, lapel, collar and cuffs.  I say "solid" because the fabric is woven from at least 10 different colors, giving it a slightly stripey appearance and picking up all the colors of the pattern on the shell fabric.

I love my new blazer!  It's the perfect blend of slouchy and stylin'- I think it will look equally good with jeans or to work with a pencil skirt.  It's definitely got a little bit of an '80s vibe to it that I dig.  I also adore the permanently turned up sleeves.  The fabric works well for this pattern, I think- it's super light and airy, perfect for sweaty southeast Asia days.  I love how the pattern on the ikat jived with the Victoria: I centered the pattern down the center of the back, down each side front and down each arm.  Looks pretty badass if I do say so myself!:

My version came together really quickly- it was so easy!  I've never made anything even remotely blazer-esque and yet this process was totally smooth sailing (it helps that there are no closures and not any significant tailoring).   I can't wait to make more!

And finally: please excuse these photos... there are several things going on here that make them kooky: 
  • It's 7 am, which turns out to be the only daylight hour that I am awake with someone to take my photo since the sun sets at 6 predictably every night on the equator.  Hence the sunglasses to cover my sleepy eyes.  But it kinda goes with the Miami Vice shape of the blazer, no?
  • I just got my hair cut the day before, which explains the too-short bangs and weird waves, since my hair dresser insisted on styling it with the big curly waves favored by the wealthy Indonesians.  But anywho...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hosh Pants + Bimaa Sweater = Eeeeexcellent

I'd had my eye on LouBee's Hosh pants and Bimaa sweater patterns for Zoe and Anna for a while now... I ended up buying them for two completely different reasons: 1) a Labor Day sale (I love a good sale!) and 2) I learned that Sarah, the designer behind LouBee grew up in Western Massachusetts. Shout out to Western Mass!  I may not have lived there (Springfield, specifically) since I was 19, but I still have pride.  Gotta support my peeps!

OK, so anyway, the patterns: stretchy skinny pants with a cool adjustable waistband?  Don't mind if I do.  I know the Hosh pants are fairly similar to the Lovely Rita pants I've made recently, but they've got a couple cool factors: they have no side seams, which means the pattern on your fabric can run uninterrupted around the leg aaaaaand it means two less seams to sew, bonus.  Plus the adjustable waistband, as I mentioned.  Score.  My version is made from some stretchy bottomweight in shades of purple paisley, care of Martha's stash.  

And the Bimaa sweater: so cute!  When I read that it now came with a hoodie option I was sold.  Plus the other two variations are equally awesome: cowl neck and shawl collar.   I went with the shawl collar this time because of fabric limitations.  This is a nice soft, thick ribbed knit that I bought at Joann's last time I was in the States.  I had intended it for a Briar t-shirt, but as much as I love the idea of that pattern, it's not for me.  So Bimaa it was!  It helped that the purple knit perfectly matched the purple paisley pants.   The Bimaa was super easy to put together with the serger.  Zip, zip, zip, done.  And so cute! Perfect for fall:

An outfit Theresa would have loved!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Batik Kimono Frankentop

Remember when I said I was struggling with the Diane Kimono top from Sew Serendipity?  Well, I had a mini-epiphany and decided since I hated the waistband so much and wasn't feeling the tie waist anyway, that perhaps it would work to combine the Diane bodice with the bottom of the Meghan peasant blouse that I love so much.  The Meghan has sort of an ingenious way of making the casing for the waist elastic... it's pretty awesome.  So I put them together and tried to make it work:

It actually worked out pretty well!  I still had a bit of trouble with the kimono top: lots of gaping at the neckline.  I ended up cutting some of the fabric off both sides of the neck, using bias tape instead of facings (which I loathe), and wrapping the two sides further across each other than called for in the pattern. The bottom was pretty foolproof, so I must be beyond a fool since I accidentally cut and sewed the back piece on upside down.  But the fabric (a piece of hand stamped batik from Pasar Mayestik) is busy enough that I don't think you can tell too much.  I think...

Not too shabby!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Polka Dot Knit Scout!

It's no secret that I have a mild obsession with Grainline's Scout T-shirt pattern...  I've made like 100 versions of the pattern made out of woven fabric and had always wondered what it might be like to sew in knit fabric.
Coincidentally, around the same time that I got my new serger (which makes knits easier to sew, woo!), Jen from Grainline posted a tutorial on how to sew up a Scout using knits.  Kismet?  Indeed. Thus, here's my knit Scout!

Vintage polka dot fabric is from Martha's stash.  I went down one size from my normal Scout size and lengthened it by 1.5 inches, but I think I could have gone down maybe even another 2 sizes because there is so much ease in the pattern.  It's definitely not a tight t-shirt!  My neckline is a little wonky, pulling a bit.  Maybe my neckband fabric wasn't as stretchy as I thought and thus I cut it a bit short? 

Despite these little kinks, I still dig my knit Scout and definitely plan on more in the future!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I went on a bit of a kiddo pants-making spree this week.  Here are the results:

Made by Rae's Big Butt Baby Pants (also made here, here, here and here) in batik (same batik as my Hammer pants) with a shirt-striped butt panel for Tim's soon-to-pop colleague:

Super cute shirt-striped Big Butt Baby Pants with up-cycled (from an old, ill-fitting dress of mine) chambray ruffles on the butt... pretty freaking adorable, these guys.  The photo does not really do them justice:

And another pair of Dana Made It's Kid Pants... this time made from chambray (also upcycled from my old dress, see above), sans pockets, but with contrasting top-stitching (pink!).  Some good basic pants to have in your wardrobe.  And no, I cannot explain why they are so wrinkly, given that I had just ironed them: