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Sewaholic Lonsdale

31 Mar

I’m still here!  Don’t worry I haven’t fallen off the planet!!  I have been traveling, sewing, and mostly working since we spoke last.  I have a cute sundress to show you today.  We are definitely getting into sundress-wearing weather here in the Deep South and the Sewaholic Lonsdale is the perfect pairing.  I stalked this pattern for a while before I actually convinced myself to buy it, but once I got it, I sewed it up almost immediately.  I love the cute knot at the front and the way the straps loop through the back and then tie.  I also like the breezy half (?) circle skirt.  Although I don’t think this halter style is the most flattering on my body, that’s not going to stop me from wearing my new cute dress or making this pattern up again 🙂

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For this version, I used a new rayon challis I picked up at Hart’s Fabric when I was in California last month.  I know I still have to show you all my fabrics and I promise I haven’t forgotten.  The fabric was easy to work with and it is wonderful to wear.  It does wrinkle a bit as you can see in the photos but it is not that bad.
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If you are not familiar with this pattern, the bodice is self-lined but the skirt is unlined.  I strayed from the pattern and decided to line the skirt as well.  I used a yellow batiste.  Because I sewed the batiste to the rayon all the way down the center back seam when inserting the zipper, I could not separate the two layers for hemming without doing some unpicking.  Since that is one of my least favorite tasks, I left it as it was and just hemmed the two layers together and the skirt lining became more of an underlining.  The downside is that my flowy rayon is now a bit more structured but the plus side is that I had a hidden layer to anchor my handstitched blind hem to.  This minor blooper is not going to prevent me from wearing this dress at all and I have already enjoyed wearing it on vacation, to church, and all day to our local arts and crafts fair (where the photos were taken).

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I love the consistent sizing of Sewaholic patterns.  I sewed my usual size 8 and did my usual 1″ full bust adjustment.  This FBA was a bit different since I didn’t want a waist or bust dart in the final dress.  I rotated the bust dart up to the knot gathers and the waist dart fullness was rotated to the center front seam.  You can see details of how this is done on the Sewaholic website’s tutorial.

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The only other alteration I made was to hem the skirt just above knee-length as I feel this is more flattering on me.

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If you are looking for an easy-to-sew and very wearable summer dress pattern, you should definitely consider the Lonsdale.  I am thinking about making the maxi version for the next go-around.  What do you think?

Vogue 8603, Washington DC, and G Street Fabrics

4 Mar

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So I have to apologize to my email and RSS feed readers who may have noticed that my last post went up a few days prematurely. I guess I will just blame it on the lack of time awareness that goes along with being on a cruise. I actually scheduled the post for Thursday but the WordPress app on my iPad had different ideas. Regardless, now you definitely know that I am spending the week bobbing around the Caribbean aboard the beautiful Celebrity Reflection.

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I’m sorry for not posting this skirt sooner — I initially stitched it up about a year ago but a series of events have kept it from making an introduction before now. Initially, the skirt was complete save for the hemming. Then, I lost a little weight and it got a bit big in the waist. I ended up taking it to my local alteration shop for the modifications because I decided if it was up to me, it would never get done. She also helped me mark the hem. By then it was summertime and I just didn’t feel like working on the skirt any more so it has sat in my UFO pile until now. I decided to finally finish the hem and wear the skirt on a recent work trip to Washington DC a few weeks ago.

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While I was in DC, I made a trip out to G Street Fabrics that all of the DC area sewing bloggers talk about. I had to take the Metro out of the city into Maryland and then walk 5-10 minutes to get there. They have a decent selection of fabric but some of it is hard to peruse because of the way all the bolts are piled on top of one another and their prices are ridiculous! Their silk charmeuses were $60-$70 per yard! I also saw an exact cotton that I purchased in NYC for $6 per yard selling in G Street for $25 per yard. They did have a nice selection of trims and buttons and I did manage to find a few things to bring home. I will show them in an upcoming post along with the Hart’s Fabrics buys that I mentioned not long ago.

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I love the ruching on the hips of this skirt. It reminds me of a skirt I have by one of my favorite designers, Nanette Lepore.

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Unfortunately, I have forgotten many of the details of the construction of this skirt because I made it so long ago. I do know that I cut the lining from the pieces that did not include ruching — no sense in having double the bulk in that area.

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My fabric is a lovely stretch suiting from Emma One Sock with a peachy nude background and green, magenta, and coral tweed-like flecks in it. It is hard to see the details of the fabric from these photos. I will try to update when I get home.

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I lined the skirt with a silky and slightly stretchy pale green satin. I used hot pink for all of my serger threads.

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My mother and grandmother joined me on my trip to Washington. While we were there, we had the opportunity to visit my cousin at work at the Pentagon!

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6 Airplanes, 3 Days, and 1 Gertie!

6 Feb

Drumroll, please!  The winner of my One Year Blogiversary Giveaway is… Breenie!!! Breenie, please contact me at susiehomemakermd [at] gmail [dot] com so I will know where to send your Craftsy gift certificate for a free course of your choice.  Congratulations and thanks to everyone who commented!

You may recall me mentioning last week that I was going to a workshop with the lovely and talented Gretchen Hirsch of Blog for Better Sewing and Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing fame. Bright and early Friday morning I boarded a plane for Monterey, California, and three flights and nine hours later I arrived on the beautiful and sunny west coast. I let the rental car agent talk me into upgrading to a convertible and I headed with the top down to the peaceful and wooded grounds of Asilomar Conference Center, a state park that was built in the 1910s as a women’s camp. After unpacking and resting for a bit, everyone met in our sewing lab for introductions.

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There were about 24 workshoppers in all plus our excellent instructors, Gretchen and Heather Ross. Heather was an amiable hostess and was a natural at making everyone feel welcomed and like an old friend. We were also assisted by another Katrina (how often does that happen?!?), who worked at Hart’s Fabrics in Santa Cruz, and she was kind enough to tell us all about their Super Bowl Sunday sale. So not only did we gets lots of sewing and socializing done, we also got to go on a field trip to an awesome fabric store!

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Me and Lauren in our mid-construction shirtwaists

Before the workshop most of us introduced ourselves via email. Through those communications, I met Lauren and realized that we had similar sewing interests and were both planning to work on the shirtwaist dress from Gretchen’s book. We chatted back and forth about our muslins and fabric choices in the weeks leading up to the workshop and we were neighbors in the sewing lab. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet Lauren and hope one day I can make pretty bound buttonholes like hers!

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Mid-construction fitting check

I chose to work on the shirtwaist dress from Gretchen’s book during the workshop because I have always loved the look of a classic shirtdress but have had a hard time finding one to fit off the rack. I worked on a muslin prior to the workshop and only had to make a few tweaks once I got to California. My alterations included a FBA, lowering the darts (a lot!), shortening the bodice (a tad), a forward shoulder adjustment, bringing in the shoulders, and lowering the armscye. I also shortened the hem. I didn’t quite finish the dress during the workshop so I will wait until I complete it to give you my official review.

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Please excuse my darts — we didn’t have a tailor’s ham!

But here’s you a sneak peek. If you look closely, you will see I only have one sleeve sewn on! 🙂

Gretchen was so nice to work with — she is the reason I chose to attend the workshop.  The week before I left for California, I emailed Gretchen to see if she would bring the actual shirtwaist dress from the book and she graciously agreed.  We all oohed and ahhed over her beautiful creation and teased to stick it in our suitcases when she wasn’t looking.  Her fitting advice was spot on and she made sure to spend time with each sewist in the room over the course of the weekend.  And, yes, the pink hair is awesome in person!

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Do you see the beach deer?!?

On Sunday afternoon we took a tour of the grounds with the park ranger and actually looked at the ocean (we had all been way too busy sewing!).

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That’s my cute little rental car there in the middle of the picture.

It was a gorgeous day so after our final goodbyes, I put the top down on my little car and headed to Santa Cruz for the sale at Hart’s fabrics. I ran into Gretchen, Lauren, and at least a half-dozen of the other ladies while I was there. I doubt Mr. Homemaker reads this far down so let’s talk about what I bought. I racked up on some awesome solid color knits, cotton/silk blend, rayon challis, and silk chiffon.

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Thankfully Hart’s was willing to ship my fabrics home for me, so when they come in later this week, I will show you what I got.

Once I closed down Hart’s, I headed to San Jose to visit my favorite department store, Nordstrom. I picked up a few shirts, belts, and shoes, and they, too, were willing to ship. Thank goodness because I otherwise would have had to buy a new suitcase!

I finished off the night with a delicious and decadent dinner for one at a charming little restaurant in Pacific Grove called Passionfish. I had a scallop appetizer, crab and avocado salad, Wagyu beef brisket entrée, and Meyer lemon panna cotta for dessert. I was stuffed!

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I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the beautiful Monterey peninsula. Traveling across the country by myself to spend the weekend with like-minded women who don’t mind talking about sewing over dinner or who will gladly pin you into your dress and give you fitting advice was refreshing and a needed change of pace. Heather Ross puts on a great retreat and I can’t wait to join her and Gretchen again soon!

Check out my Flickr set for more photos.

Sewing Finds in Great Britain

9 Oct

 

In my last post I mentioned a recent intercontinental trip — Mr. Homemaker and I took a little vacation to Great Britain last month!  We had known for a while that we wanted to go because one of my friends from medical school is spending a year there doing a fellowship.  We decided that planning a trip to visit them in Scotland would be a good excuse for us to make our first trip to Europe together.  We took an overnight flight into Glasgow then caught the train to meet our friends at their flat in Edinburgh.  While the weather was a bit chillier there than it is here, that didn’t stop us from tromping all over the place.

 

 

Once we explored Edinburgh, we spent a night at Dalhousie Castle then took the train into the Cotswolds.  While there we visited Bath, which I thought was a lovely place and can’t wait to go back.  Finally, we took the train into London and spent three nights before heading back to reality and (warmer temperatures!).  In London, we booked a room at the High Road House in a residential neighborhood called Chiswick.  According to their website, their hotel chain is a members club for people in the film industry but when rooms aren’t filled, they reserve them to commoners like us.  While I think the London hotel is low-key compared to some of their other properties (like Miami), I did spot one celebrity that I recognized while we stayed there (Hugh Dancy).

 

 

The hotel was immensely cute and their food and bar service were excellent, not to mention the fact that the bathroom was filled with full-size amenities — we had four different body washes to choose from each morning! To top it all off, the room was reasonably priced and it was a 3 minute walk to the tube.

 

 

While I am not a huge museum-buff, I did stop by the Victoria and Albert to view the Ballgowns exhibit while we were in London, and we visited the Tower and saw several of the other big sites.

Now, of course you know I squeezed in a little shopping while we were there.  I did have to be careful, though, because we did carry-on only for this trip (hard to believe if you know me!).

 

 

I knew I wanted to go to Liberty and I was open to any other cute sewing souvenirs I came across.  First up, while in Bath, I visited a cute little shop called The Makery, where you can actually shop online.  It was a darling, tiny little store that sold unique trimmings and fabric and also offered classes (of course, I didn’t have time for one of these).  While there, I picked up two lengths of patterned bias binding (blue floral and red and white dot) and a Molly Makes magazine with a free envelope of assorted buttons.  Next up, we stopped in Salisbury to visit Stonehenge and while there I passed a sewing machine store that also sold some notions, so I picked up the white buttons and a cupcake pin cushion.  Finally, in London I knew I had to visit Liberty and that’s what I had been saving all my pennies for.

 

 

While there, I met Chow, a very helpful and funny salesman who cut my selections of cotton lawn and cotton jersey.  I also found two pieces from the remnant table, one 2.5 yard piece in a brown, pink, and mustard shoe pattern and another small length of floral silk destined to become a scarf.  Yes, Liberty fabrics are a splurge, but how often does a girl get to visit the brick and mortar store in person?  Not to mention all the restraint I had exercised when packing my carry-on suitcase so I could fit a few cuts of fabric in it for the ride home 🙂

I will leave you with a few more photos from our trip; you can check out my Flickr stream if you want to see more (although I did not upload the entire 500+ photos).  Thanks for looking!  More cooking and sewing to come, so stay tuned 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYC #2 — The Fabric!!!

10 Aug

Okay, I won’t make you wait any longer.  Here’s my haul from the recent trip to NYC.  I will let the pictures do the talking… mostly 😉

This is a red and ecru dot silk charmeuse I picked up from a men’s fabric store.  May become a blouse…

 

This is a silk border print that I got 3 yards of.  Definitely seeing a dress in its future.

 

On the left a silky soft cotton floral print (3 yards) and on the right an equally soft and shiny royal blue cotton sateen (2 yards).

 

On the left a free remnant of some abstract print.  On the right a gorgeous silk woven with a little stretch and some texture (3 yards).

 

This is one of my favorite finds — a silk Shantung or dupioni with grey and black large-scale paisley print and bright navy blue sequin embellishments.  Perhaps a dress and/or blouse if I can squeeze it out of the three yards I bought.

 

On the left a Missoni sweater knit remnant I got for $40 (about 2.5 yards), and on the right 1.5 yards of cashmere and linen blend for a sweater with an exposed hot pink zipper up the back (zipper coming up soon).

 

Both knits, on the left a more stable piece with chocolate brown, aqua, tan, and white; on the right, a jersey with olive green, aqua, brown, and white.  Knit top from the piece on the left and maybe a DVF-style wrap dress from the piece on the right.  3 yards of each.

 

On the left, one yard of a gorgeous black woven fabric with texture and sheen, destined to become a LBD or pencil skirt for dressier occasions.  On the right, 4 yards of a wide navy and white stripe knit for a maxi skirt.

 

On the left, tan dot silk jersey with plans to become a tie neck blouse.  On the right, a fine rib knit in soft green with aqua, burgundy, and olive green — one of my favorites.  Three yards each.

 

On the left, a ponte knit stripe with plans to become an easy to wear dress.  On the right, a beautiful, light silk chiffon.  2.5 yards of the left, 2 yards of the right.

 

On the left, a silk voile with no specific plans yet.  On the right, a pretty silk twill with dress plans.  Three yards each.

 

Another favorite — 3 yards of wool knit hoping to be made up into a cowl neck sweater or sweater dress.

 

My two leather hides — one in mint and one in chocolate.  Both of these were on the sale rack and cost $25 each.  I came out pretty good compared to the ladies who were buying enough hides to make jackets and skirts.  I don’t have the guts for something like that yet!  We’ll see if these little delicious-smelling babies can whip up into a cute clutch purse or a case for my iPad.

 

And last but not least, my aforementioned hot pink zipper and a cute jade colored belt buckle.  I have no idea when or how I will ever use the latter, but I really like it and it came from Mood!  🙂

So that’s a grand total of 53.5 yards of fabric, two hides of leather, one zipper, one belt buckle, and one roll of tracing paper (not pictured).  How much did I spend?  Come on, ladies — my husband reads this blog, too!  🙂

I had a blast visiting NYC and scouring the city for the best fabric I could find.  I know it will be years (if ever) before I sew all this up, but I can’t wait to go back again and discover more treasures.  I would also love to spend more time seeing more of the sites that the city has to offer.  Have you ever been to NYC?  I’d love to hear about your favorite Big Apple experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun in the Big Apple

9 Aug

 

I have so much to tell you all about, I am having a hard time deciding what to post first.  But this definitely has to be it — I recently returned from a fabric-buying trip to NYC.  That’s right, a trip to New York City for the sole purpose of acquiring fabric for me to sew up into whatever my heart desires (or just lust after as it sits in my stash 😉 ).

Like the shirt I’m wearing? Stay tuned for more details and a review of the pattern!

I went with a friend and fellow sewing enthusiast and we had the best time.  We joined up with a bunch of other fabric junkies as part of Peggy Sagers’ NYC garment district tour/buying trip.  Although I have never sewn any of Peggy’s Silhouette patterns, I have watched some of her free, informative webcasts and sat in on one of her sessions at a sewing expo in Atlanta back in March.

 

 

She took us to several wholesale fabric distributors who typically don’t sell to the public so we had access to awesome selections at great prices.

We also got to go to the popular spots like Mood and Pacific Trims (where they have walls of nothing but zippers!).

The most unusual stop was a leather store where they sold hides of everything from pigs to stingrays.  I picked up two small pieces off the clearance rack to try out for a small clutch or sleeve for my iPad.

The highlight of the trip for me was getting to tour the Nanette Lepore studio and main office.  During conversation over dinner, Peggy mentioned that one of the stops on our tour was next door to the Nanette Lepore offices and that on some priors tours they had visited the NL studios.  When I told her that NL was one of my favorite designers of all time, she arranged for me to have a private tour!  I was thrilled and loved seeing where some of my favorite fashions are designed.

I love the fact that most Nanette Lepore clothes are actually made in the USA, right in NYC.  When my tour was done, Nanette’s assistant took me to the warehouse and let me shop the racks from the sample sale that had occurred the day before — then gave me an extra 20% off!  Talk about icing on the cake!!  I brought home a blouse, skirt, and dress to add to my collection.

We spent one day with friends of my sewing buddy and they took us to a cute little town in Pennsylvania for lunch.  The best part?  All the tables in the restaurant used old sewing machine bases for the legs!

 

 

 


I am so glad I had the opportunity to take this trip (my first time in NYC, at that).  I can’t wait to start sewing up all my delicious fabrics!  More pics of the fabric to come.  Keep watching my Flickr for a sneak peek.  You will also see photos of an upcoming recipe that you will absolutely love 🙂

Have a great weekend!