Stitch Fix | A Sewist’s Review

31 Jan

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As I mentioned in my last post, I recently decided to try out some online personal styling services. I am planning to tell you about all three that I signed up for and the first one up is Stitch Fix. Before I signed up to try it out, I scoured the web looking for details about the type and quality of clothes that women typically got in their boxes. I was interested in the quality of the construction, the fabric content, and the finishes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much info on these things. So I decided when I received my box, I would write about these details, regardless of my overall experience. Fortunately, my overall experience has been positive, so that is a bonus!

I won’t go into excessive details about how Stitch Fix works because there are plenty of other sites that do that, but I will give you the Cliff Notes version here in case you are completely unfamiliar. Stitch Fix is a web-based company that provides personal styling services to women on a subscription or on-demand basis. They collect information from you about your preferences in color, fit, fashion, style icons, accessories, etc. When you sign up for your first box, you agree to pay a $20 “styling fee” (more about that in a sec). Then, they assign a personal stylist to you who reviews your profile and your Pinterest board (if you have one), and she sends you a box of 5 items, most likely 4 garments and 1 accessory, personally selected to suit you.

Your box arrives on or before the date you selected when you signed up and you get to try on your items in the comfort of your home and with the help of your hubby, bff, etc. You can mix and match with what’s already in your closet to help you decide what to keep and what to send back. If you love something but it doesn’t fit quite right, you can email them to see if they have a different size and if they do, they will send it. You have three business days to make up your mind. The $20 styling fee you paid when you ordered your box gets credited toward the purchase of what you decide to keep from your box. If you decide to keep everything, you get an additional 25% off everything. You send back what you don’t want and aren’t charged for those items. There is no additional charge for shipping either direction.

If you try Stitch Fix and you love it, you can tell your friends about it with a referral link and you will get $25 each time one of them signs up (yes, that is my referral link and I would love it if you decide to use mine 🙂 ).

So without further ado, here’s a fashion show for you, complete with both garment insides and outsides!

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First, the entire line up of the articles that came in my box. My first fix was a pretty neutral color scheme. I don’t mind neutrals but I also enjoy colors. I made a specific request for more color in my next box.

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41Hawthorn | Astrid Spade Print Tie-Neck Blouse | Medium | $58 ($44.50 with 25% discount for keeping all 5 pieces)

100% polyester | Hand wash cold, no bleach, lay flat to dry | Made in USA (!!!)

The first garment I tried on was this white 100% polyester blouse with a black spade pattern on it. The fabric is soft and reminiscent of crepe de chine. The care label calls for hand wash and lay flat to dry but I will machine wash on delicate and lay flat to dry. I am excited that the garment was made in the USA! It has a button placket with bronze buttons in front and is accented by a bow tie at the neckline.

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The neckline is safe for work and the hem is a nice length for wearing tucked in or out. The blouse fits well through the bust but is a tad low in the armscye. This minor fitting issue was not a deal breaker, though, and I think this blouse will fit nicely as a multipurpose basic in my wardrobe. It has tucks sewn at the shoulders for bust shaping and no side darts for a loose, flowy fit.

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As for interior finishes, the back yoke and side seams are serged. The neckline has a clean finish. The armholes are nice and tidy with bias binding. Overall, this is definitely a finished product I would be happy to produce from my sewing room and reminds me of my Belle Bow Blouse in style and finish.

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Liverpool | Anita Skinny Pant | Size 10/30 | $78 ($59.50 after discount)

62% Rayon, 33% Nylon, 5% Spandex | Turn inside out, machine wash cold, no bleach, tumble dry | Made in China

I paired the blouse with the black ponte skinny jeans by Liverpool. I have to tell you I was soooo skeptical about these pants when I first pulled them out. I warned my stylist in my online profile that I had a really hard time finding pants and jeans to fit properly. But let me tell you, I wanted to cry with joy when I slipped these babies on. They fit PERFECTLY!

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They have the perfect rise in front and back, the waistband doesn’t gape, they flatter my booty. The fabric is a smooth black ponte knit that has great recovery so they don’t bag out after wearing. I love them so much I asked for them to send more in other colors if they have them. I didn’t take interior pictures of these pants but they are very straight forward — serged seams and basic 5-pocket styling with faux front pockets.

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Daniel Rainn | Owen Tie Neck Blouse | Medium | $68 ($52 after discount)

100% Polyester shell, 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex lining | Hand wash, hang to dry, dry clean recommended | Made in China

The next garment out was this 100% polyester chiffon peasant tunic. I have to admit I wrinkled my nose at it a little when I pulled it out, but I was determined to be an equal opportunity shopper so I tried it on.

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You already know I kept the shirt — I liked that it fit in the shoulders, had a work-appropriate neckline, had a cute hemline that dipped lower in the back to cover the tush, and upon closer inspection, has an awesome bird print all over the fabric. Plus the top has a built in cami so I don’t have to worry about finding a clean one.

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The seams feature faggoting or entredeux which adds visual interest and texture. The interior seams are serged and sewn flat to the trim. The neckline features shirring with elastic thread and is finished with a placket and closed with yarn tassels. The sleeves have a simple placket and button closure.

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Market and Spruce | Kristah Ruffle Knit Blazer | Medium | $78 ($59.50 after discount)

95% Rayon, 5% Spandex | Hand wash, tumble dry low | Made in China

This cute navy knit jacket is 100% polyester and is the weight of a t-shirt.

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The back features a cute peplum details in polyester chiffon.

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The interior seams are finished with serging and a Hong Kong finish taking this jacket up a notch. There is a facing for the front and the back neck. There are faux welt pockets on the front.

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Zad | Meagan Cut Out Spade Layering Necklace | $32 ($25 with discount)

My fifth item is this cute long gold necklace with a design that mimics the white bow blouse, above. I had always shied away from longer necklaces because I felt like they looked funny on me, but I have been coming around to the look and was glad to see this in my box, especially since it is a great basic. It has already gotten quite a bit of wear since its arrival.

So, to wrap this really long post up, I had fun trying out Stitch Fix. I was satisfied with the quality of the garments in my box although I would love to see some natural fibers in the next box. I also loved that one of my garments was made in the USA. A lot of people will probably think the garments are a bit on the pricey side, especially if you are a bargain shopper (I know the girls in my office love to hunt for deals at places like TJ Maxx), but you have to consider that you don’t have to spend the gas driving to the store, the lost time you will be away from home/work/family/sewing, and you won’t have to spend money to feed yourself while you are away from home for half a day shopping. Plus you won’t be as tempted to purchase other things that you don’t necessarily need. And you can avoid the frustration that comes with searching through the racks not finding what you want. You also have the advantage of knowing that a professional objective third party selected the garments because they thought they would look good on you.

I think the web interface for Stitch Fix is very easy to use and allows for great user interaction. I also think the $20 styling fee is reasonable since you get to credit it to the purchase of anything from your Fix (I will talk more about this when I compare all of the services later). I also think the referral program is great and means that you could really get a good deal on some clothes if you are comfortable sharing your experience about Stitch Fix with your friends — and you don’t even have to have a blog. You could share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or via email. I did contact Stitch Fix customer service once via email and my question was answered very promptly and the issue handled immediately and satisfactorily (I forgot to enter my friend’s referral code when I signed up).

In summary (finally!), I had fun trying out Stitch Fix and I can’t wait to see if my next Fix is better than this one. It has been a good treatment for my sewing dry spell. If you decide to try it out, click through this link to sign up and let us know what you think!

Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank | Jungle January

17 Jan

Hi, friends! I hope this post finds you well. It’s been a little more than a season since I last checked in but I hope you have had other blogs in your reader to keep you entertained. We have had a very busy few months with vacation, selling our home, moving, birth of a niece, the holidays, hospitalizations of grandparents (everyone is doing great now), husband working out of town, all that on top of the usual cold and flu season which is always hectic for a pediatrician.

But life is good and we are excited about all the changes happening. Selling our old house means we get to build a new one. We are living temporarily in a small condo but we are in the heart of our downtown so we are enjoying being close to everything and walking distance to my favorite coffee shop and BBQ joint. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of room for sewing so I have not stitched anything since before the move (pre-Thanksgiving). I am looking at purchasing a Gidget table and setting it up in my bedroom and adapting my sewing habits to be more streamlined and uncluttered.

I have also been reevaluating my wardrobe as I had gotten into a bit of a funk with dressing everyday. Since I had started sewing, I had stopped purchasing as many clothes as I used to thinking I would sew the perfect garment and that perfect garment just never materialized. Sure, I have sewn some things that I really love and am very proud of, but I have not made many daily basics that work well for my usual routines. Plus many of my clothes weren’t fitting right any more because I have been working out. So in my sewing-restricted state, I decided to do a little shopping for myself. First, I visited my favorite online spots, Nordstrom and Anthropologie, and quickly had some packages sent my way. As is usual, many things had to be returned but I ended up with some new colored skinny cords and jeans and a few basic tops and one pretty dress. Nothing that really sang to me, though.

Then, I remembered a friend telling me about Stitch Fix and I started browsing the web for more info and for similar services. Basically, they are services that take your info on size and style likes and dislikes then send you a box of garments and accessories to try on at home. You decide what to keep and what to send back. During the course of my searching, I found two other companies to be viable contenders, although different in some respects. So I signed up for a box from all three to try it out. Worst case scenario, I would only be out $20.

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All that said, today I am here to actually tell you about something I sewed (of course back when my sewing machine was still plugged in, pre Turkey Day). I will tell you in upcoming posts about my experiences with the online styling services. This top is my first-ever contribution to Jungle January. I have never been a big animal print fan but this stretch silk charmeuse was cheap at Fabric Mart and I thought it would be perfect for muslining a basic silk shell. And it was.

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Enter the Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank. The is a perfect canvas for so many things. I was looking for a simple top that could be worn with a skirt or pants and blazer/cardi for work or paired with jeans and a necklace for a more casual look. I also wanted a pattern that would be a good base for embellishment. I started with a straight size medium and only adjusted the pattern by raising the armholes 1/2″. I knew that ultimately I would probably want to do a bust adjustment and add a side dart for a better fit but I wanted to see what the fit was like straight out of the envelope.

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This fit was not too bad. There is a little bit of dragging under the bust in the front, but this top is definitely wearable and with the silk having a little lycra in it, it helps. In my next version, I added a 3/4″ FBA and the drag was eliminated and the tank hung evenly front and back.

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So friends, to wrap this wordy, overly gushy post up, I hope I will not be such a stranger now that things are starting to settle back down in our life. I hope that you will indulge me if I talk a little bit about ready to wear fashion and a little less about sewing and cooking while we are living in a tiny two-story box. I may even talk a little about home planning and interior design as we get further into that project.

I would love to hear in the comments how your year is starting off and if you have advice on setting up in a tiny sewing space. Have a great weekend!

Thirsty Thursdays | Kentucky Saint |La Petite Grocery

18 Sep

Happy Thursday again, friends! I hope the upcoming weekend holds promise for being fun and relaxing for you. I am here to tell you about another ingredient that may fit right in to said weekend.

 

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This beverage is called the Kentucky Saint and the recipe is courtesy of La Petite Grocery, a James Beard award-winning restaurant on Magazine St. in New Orleans. Mr. Homemaker and I took a day trip to NOLA earlier this summer (for fabric shopping and eating), and this is where we chose to have a late lunch. Thank goodness we did because the service was friendly, the drinks were refreshing, and the food was delicious.

That afternoon, I went and purchased the ingredients that were listed on the menu. But no matter what ratio I tested, it didn’t taste quite right. So I sent an email to their bar manager, Julia (who happens to be from my hometown), and she graciously provided me with the official recipe. And the missing ingredient? A splash of orange juice.

As I mentioned last week in the Thirsty Thursday post, this is the recipe I originally purchased the St. Germain liqueur for. So now you have two excuses to buy some 🙂

This cocktail makes bourbon taste good even to the bourbon-averse among us. It has just the right amount of sweetness and citrus to compliment the bourbon. I didn’t think I would like this one but surprisingly, it is now a favorite.

Give it a try and let me know if you find it as much of a palate-pleaser as I do.

 

Looking for a few other refreshing cocktails? Try one of these:

La Recolte

Meyer Lemon Drop Martini

Cuba Libre

Absolut Stress

Blood Orange Martini

 

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Kentucky Saint

  • 1 ounce Noah’s Mill bourbon (or other bourbon of your choice)
  • 1/2 ounce St. Germain liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce Aperol
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice (original recipe called for 1/4 ounce)
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup

Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until the outside surface of the shaker is frosty.

Strain into a martini glass straight up or pour over ice in a rocks glass.

Garnish as desired and enjoy!

 

Courtesy of La Petite Grocery.

Thirsty Thursdays | La Recolte | Pear and St. Germain Martini

11 Sep

From what I hear, some parts of the world are starting to show signs of fall — autumnal leaves, crisp evenings, and don’t forget all the Christmas decorations in the stores (ugh!).

Here in the Deep South, Fall hasn’t even scheduled his airfare to our area. Highs are still in the 90s and humidity is always 100% (or close to it). We have rain showers most days.

Although I have not dusted off my boots or pulled out my sweaters, I would like to keep the spirit of the changing seasons and bring you an appropriately flavored cocktail that is still palatable and refreshing when your backyard is a sauna.

 

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Enter La Recolte (The Harvest en anglais). This is a cocktail that evokes thoughts of golden leaves, holiday gatherings, and cuddling up by the fire. It is also a cocktail that isn’t too sweet or too tart and has a refreshing effervescence that you can enjoy after swimming in from the mailbox or melting while carrying in your groceries.

 

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I love the styling of this bottle!

 

I found this recipe while searching for things to do with St. Germain liqueur — a French libation flavored from elderflowers. I had purchased a bottle for another recipe I will share with you later, but I like for things in my pantry to do double or triple duty if possible. Enter the Pear and St. Germain Martini.

This cocktail is a nice clear drink that is great made 1 or 2 at a time but would also work well mixed up as a punch for a cocktail party or bridal shower (consider adding a bottle of ginger ale to the mix to bring down the potency). The lemon juice and champagne help balance the sweetness of the St. Germain and pear vodka.

So if you find yourself with this random assortment of ingredients in your pantry, or if you just fancy a new, refreshing cocktail, give La Recolte a try and let me know what you think!

 

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La Recolte

  • 1 ounce pear vodka
  • 1/2 ounce St. Germain liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Champagne or sparking wine
  • Thin pear slices

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosty.

Strain into a martini glass and top with enough sparkling wine to fill.

Garnish with a pear slice and enjoy!

 

Adapted from St. Germain website.

Our Favorite Biscuits | Gruyere Biscuits | The Ravenous Pig

9 Sep

Last fall we went to Orlando, Florida for work/fun. While there we tried out the restaurant Cask and Larder. It was delicious and before leaving I purchased the cookbook from their sister restaurant, The Ravenous Pig. I perused the book on the trip home and decided the first thing I had to make were these Gruyère Biscuits. And I have made them at least a dozen times since then.

They are great for any meal. I love them for breakfast with a little butter and homemade peach jam. But they are also good with dinner in the place of your traditional biscuit. I have even cubed the leftovers and made croutons for salad!

This recipe employs some basic pastry making techniques that may or may not be familiar to you. But don’t let that stop you from trying these out. They are definitely worth the effort. You can also make a double batch and freeze the uncooked biscuits to pop in the oven later. Just put the frozen biscuits on your baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. You will need to bake just a few minutes longer.

 

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First, combine all your dry ingredients in a bowl.

 

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Then, grate your frozen butter using a box grater.

 

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Work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. This shouldn’t take too long since the butter is already in such small pieces.

 

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Now stir in the cream and buttermilk just until mixed. The dough will look rough and shaggy but will pull away from the sides of the bowl.

 

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Sprinkle your counter top with a nice dusting of flour and spoon your dough on top.

 

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Gently shape the dough into a rectangle and roll it to about 1″ thick.

 

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Sprinkle the dough with half the cheese mixture.

 

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Fold the dough up into thirds like you would a letter.

 

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Roll the dough out to about 1″thick. Repeat sprinkling the rest of the cheese, fold and roll to 1 1/2″ thick.

 

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Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 12 equal squares. Or get fancy and use your round biscuit cutter.

 

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Transfer the biscuits to a parchment lined or buttered baking sheet and brush the tops with a little cream.

 

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Bake at 375F for 12-14 minutes until golden on the tops.

 

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Enjoy in whatever manner you prefer. With homemade peach jam and a side of homemade bacon (recipe from the same cookbook) and Conecuh sausage. Or make a bacon or sausage biscuit sandwich.

 

How ever you enjoy them, just promise me you will make these biscuits ASAP!

 

 

Gruyere Biscuits

  • Servings: 12 biscuits
  • Print

  • 3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese*
  • 2 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup briefly frozen butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing**
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or brush with butter.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together to combine. Using a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients. Blend the butter and dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Pour in the cream and buttermilk and stir just until combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Pat into a rectangle and sprinkle lightly with flour. Roll the dough to 1″ thick.

Sprinkle the dough with half of the cheese mixture. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter.

Lightly flour the surface of the dough and roll again to 1″ thick. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and fold into thirds and roll to 1 1/2″ thick.

Cut the dough into 12 squares (3×4) and place 2″ apart on the prepared pan. Lightly brush the tops with the remaining heavy cream.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, turning the pan halfway through baking, or until the tops are golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving warm.

 

*We have used other cheeses in this recipe with success (Cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, etc.).

**I have substituted half-and-half for the entirety of the heavy cream with perfectly tasty results. We couldn’t really tell a difference so consider subbing if you are trying to be healthier ;)-

 

Adapted from The Ravenous Pig: Seasons of Florida.

Bodice Modifications for Butterick 6019

27 Jul

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Hi, friends! I am here today with a quick “tutorial” post to address a question that came up about the fitting of my Butterick 6019 bombshell dress. During the muslin-making process, I realized that the bust cups of the dress were all wrong for me. The top of the dress was too low for comfortable decency and the cup seams created an awkward pointy shape over my bust (think bullet bra to the extreme). I also discovered that the under bust seam didn’t hit under my bust and the bodice was overall too long for my figure.

I will warn you in advance, I am going to share some less than attractive photos of myself in this post. But it’s all for the sake of science, right?

I started by pinching out the excess from bodice fabric in the front and back. This helped bring the under bust seam into the correct position. I then pinched and pinned out a little excess in the side seams.

 

 

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Once that had been taken care of, I pinned out the excess in the vertical and horizontal bust cup seams, creating a much more natural shape in this area. Then I checked the location of the horizontal bust cup seams and felt it was too low across my body and raised it across both lower cup pattern pieces (hence the reason it doesn’t look like I took any out in these areas). Hopefully you can see in the photos that the overall effect of these adjustments was to decrease the severity of the curve across the bust. At this point I made new muslin and tweaked all of the previous adjustments by a few more minor amounts.

 

 

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You can hopefully see in this photo how my final pattern pieces in white paper compare to the original pattern pieces.

 

Once all these adjustments had been made, I assessed the location of the top of the bodice all the way around and realized I wanted roughly 1/2″ added in the front and 1″ in the back. I added these amounts to my already modified pattern pieces and tapered the 1/2″ in front around to the 1″ in back.

 

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Since this layer wouldn’t show in the final dress, I sewed it with leftover bobbins in random colors.

 

I made my final muslin just to check the fit once more but to also use as the interlining if all my adjustments had been successful.

 

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You can see I added a lot more boning than suggested in the pattern.

 

During the earlier muslins, I duct taped cheap boning from Hancock Fabrics into place for fitting but on the final version, I went ahead and sewed my boning channels and added the spiral steel boning. Next time, I think I will lengthen this layer to my high hip (like a corselet) for added wearing comfort. As it is now, the boning ends right at my narrowest point, somewhat cutting into my body when I sit, and also making the skirt portion just below the waist seam blouse out a little bit.

 

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Here’s the finished dress just waiting on a hem. Please pardon the unattractive setting and the cute socks 🙂

Butterick 6019 — A Polka Dot Bombshell Dress

21 Jul

Howdy, friends! I hope this missive finds you well. I have been doing some sewing and knitting lately and finally have something finished to show you!

 

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This is Butterick 6019, a bombshell dress by Gretchen Hirsch of Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. I have been muslining a dress like this intermittently for the past 2 years — I finally bit the bullet and finished one!

 

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I chose this pattern because it has a lot of visual interest with the fitted bodice with sash accent, sarong-style skirt, and shirring on the back bodice. I think the shirring is what attracted me the most.

 

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Alright, now for some wordy business about the process of creating this dress!

I started with the 14 D-cup pattern and made a muslin of the bodice. I ended up taking it in at the top and letting it out a smidge in the waist. I did a swayback adjustment on the bodice (but should have done one on the skirt, too). I also added about an inch to the bodice height to make the neckline more decent.

I found the cups to be waaaay too pointy for my taste so I tamed that down quite a bit also. I ended up shortening the bodice about an inch under the bust — I am accepting the fact that I am very short-waisted or my boobs are saggy…

That was all pretty straightforward stuff. The project got complicated when I decided to fully line the dress (the pattern only calls for partially lining the bodice — and for good reason I discovered) and then underline the bodice.

 

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The bodice underlining was simple enough. I just used corset mesh cut a little bigger than the shirred pieces to stabilize that area but still allow for some stretch. I used muslin for the rest of the underlining and added way more boning channels than the pattern’s prescribed two. I sewed a waist stay to a few points on the bodice. Next time I make a dress like this, I will extend the underlining layer down to my high hip to keep it from cutting into my waist.

 

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I also used bra foam for the cups instead of the batting that was called for.

 

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For the shirring, I marked lines perpendicular to the grain at 3/8″ intervals. Sewing all the shirring was one of the most tedious parts of the project but also one of the most rewarding. Look how beautiful!

 

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My dress is made from a navy and white polka dot silk cotton blend. It has a nice crisp hand but shows lint like it’s going out of style!

 

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To line the bodice, I used a luscious 4 ply silk satin remnant for the non-stretch sections and a scrap from the Gertie slip kit (not finished yet) for the areas under the shirring. I left small openings in the back bodice lining seams to allow the waist stay to pull through.

 

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Now, lining the skirt was a whole different monster. Since the skirt has a wrap front, I couldn’t just duplicate it and stick it inside. I decided to have the lining attached at the front vertical edges of both wrap panels which meant that something had to be stitched by hand — yuck! But hand stitch I did and don’t judge my really sloppy work.

 

 

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I did a machine hem on the lining and a hand stitched hem on the shell. For my skirt lining, I used a cute ivory polka dot silk charmeuse.

 

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I used my Threads #171 for inserting the lapped zipper with lining by machine, but as usual, I handpicked the overlap for greater control. Just like the method I used on my Rosy Elisalex.

 

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I guess that’s about it on this dress. It was definitely a journey as I initially planned to wear it to a wedding a few weeks ago but ran out of time to complete it so let it sit for a few weeks before getting up the gumption to finish it. But finish it I did!

 

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These photos were taken in the front yard of our eventual new house. I love our huge oak tree!

Spring Sewing Swap 2014

13 Jul

Hi, everyone! I hope your weekend has been fun/relaxing/productive according to your wishes. I’m here with just a quick note to share my Spring Sewing Swap parcel with you. This year I was paired with Jinju over at Toile and Trouble. We were a great match because we have similar (read: expensive) taste in fabric. We chatted via email for a while before selecting and sending our gifts and I really enjoyed making a new sewing acquaintance. And I am very jealous of the Liberty lawn Jinju finds in the $4 bargain bin at her local quilt shop!

So without further ado, here is the wonderful package I received the mail.

 

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1. New measuring tape, which is great because the measuring tape I got in last year’s swap just broke 😦

2. Vogue 1241

3. Three lengths of fabric: two of cotton lawn/voile and one of a beautiful silk cotton floral print

4. Vintage hand sewing needles

5. Zipper and notions for making included pattern

6. My favorite, homemade green and white polka dot bias tape

7. A sweet handwritten note

 

I am so grateful for this wonderful package of surprises which suits me perfectly! Thank you, Jinju! And thanks to Kerry for organizing the swap again!

 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake

26 Jun

As I was looking at my last several posts, I realized y’all must be starving! All we’ve been talking about is sewing and I have been a bad hostess by not offering you something to eat or drink 🙂

 

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I am going to remedy that today and then some with this decadent chocolate and peanut butter layer cake. I could probably stop with that and give you the recipe and we would be in good shape. However, I will tell you a little more about it so your resistance will be even further weakened.

I made this cake two weeks ago for an employee’s going away party. A little bird told me she liked the chocolate/peanut butter combination so I pulled out this recipe that I had made once or twice before several years ago. Everyone at the office really enjoyed the cake and we ate over half of it at the party (9 of us girls there).

The recipe comes from the cookbook Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. It is a great cookbook to have in your collection because many of the recipes look like something you would want to try (I have made several so far and all have been delicious).

It starts with sour cream and chocolate cake layers that mix up easily in a single bowl and without an electric mixer if you don’t want to use one. You then fill and frost the layers with a cream cheese peanut butter frosting that reminds me of decadent peanut butter cheesecake — YUM! Finally, you top it with a thick layer of chocolate and peanut butter glaze.

This cake is great because you don’t have to be a professional cake decorator to make it look impressive. And if you keep a decently stocked pantry, you probably already have all the ingredients on hand. Cake for supper? Absolutely!

 

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Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

  • Servings: one 8-in triple layer cake, serves 16-20 generous slices (the author states 12-16 but I think you can get more out of it because it is so rich)
  • Print

 Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare three 8″ round cake pans (I used Baker’s Joy spray, but the recipe suggests buttering the pans then lining with buttered parchment).

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixer bowl and whisk together to combine. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk by hand or blend with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in the water then blend in the vanilla and vinegar. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well-combined. Divide evenly among the three prepared pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes then turn the cakes out on the rack to finish cooling.

To finish the cake, spread 2/3 cup of the frosting between each layer and use the rest to frost the top and sides. You can also save a little to decorate the top after you apply the glaze. Next, spread the glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides. Decorate with remaining frosting, if desired. Enjoy!

Frosting:

  • 10 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (not natural type)

Combine cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar, mixing thoroughly for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Glaze:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

In the top of a double boiler (or in the microwave like I did), combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup and heat until melted and smooth, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

 

Adapted from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes.

 

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Me Made May 2014, Part 2

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Wednesday, May 14 — A “day off.” I spent the day running errands and doing house chores. I paired my workhorse McCall’s 6559 knit dress with new flip-flops and my trusty LOFT jean jacket. The necklace is from Kluster Shop.

 

 

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Thursday, May 15 — Work all day. I wore my new Simplicity 1810 dress again, this time styling it with a RTW cropped lace cardigan that picks up the deepest red color in the silk fabric. The shoes look more fun in person — they are a nude color with some shine in the leather. I definitely liked this outfit.

 

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Friday, May 16 — TGIF! I wore my new Lolita Olive blouse to get more photos for the blog tour. I paired it with my new white jeans (J Brand), and my pewter flats.

 

 

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Saturday, May 17 — Mr. Homemaker and I spent all day working around the house, getting it ready to go on the market. I am wearing my striped Renfrew and some Athleta capris I picked up in Philly. Love these pants!

 

 

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Sunday, May 18 — Off to church in an unblogged dress that is a miss-mash of a TNT princess seam bodice and the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt. I paired it with a cropped white lace cardigan and some white strappy sandals. The necklace is from Kluster Shop. Like my newly made-over dining room?

 

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Monday, May 19  — Back to the office for a busy day. I wore unblogged Simplicity 2365 that I made as a swimsuit coverup for our cruise back in February. I love the pintuck detail on this tunic but it is really blousy in the back and would benefit from some tailoring and a swayback adjustment in its next version. I made it from some J. Crew cotton voile from a recent Fabric Mart Fabrics sale. I paired it with my Citizens of Humanity skinny jeans, my gold flats, and a “vintage” turquoise necklace.

 

 

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Tuesday, May 20 — Another normal day at the office. For dinner we went out to celebrate my stepson’s end of the school year. This is McCall’s 6654 knit skirt is great to wear but is a bit cumbersome in the office because long things get tangled up in my rolling stool. I paired it with a white lace-trimmed cami and black lace cropped cardigan (both from Nordstrom). My shoes are open-toe low heeled Cole Haans.

 

 

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Wednesday, May 21 — A day off spend running errands again. This is one of my favorite me-mades of all time — McCall’s 6559. I paired it with my jean jacket and some flower-adorned flip-flops. The necklace is from Premier.

 

 

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Thursday, May 22 — Back to work and a professional conference in the evening (where I was able to get some knitting done, too!). I wore my Belle Bow Blouse with my white skinny jeans and some pointy-toe flats.

 

 

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Friday, May 23 — Normal office day and my stepson’s award day at school. Isn’t he a handsome young man? I wore my unblogged Kirsten Kimono Tee (see a blogged version here), and some red skinny jeans from David Kahn. Gold flats.

 

 

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Saturday, May 24 — I whipped up this Nettie bodysuit before heading to Mobile for the trunk show and pattern fitting with Sandra Betzina. It was really easy to make and I love the idea of a bodysuit. My only complaints are the very narrow shoulders and the fact that the coverage in the back isn’t enough to cover my big booty. I will definitely be tweaking this pattern and making it again, though! I paired the top with my Citizens jeans and red patent flats.

 

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Sunday, May 25 — I spent all day sewing with Sandra and other seamstresses. I dressed for comfort in this McCall’s 6559 and gold sparkle flip-flops. I also took a batch of Mimosa Punch to share with my classmates.

 

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Monday, May 26 — Memorial Day started out with hospital rounds in the nursery followed by housework and a cookout at home. I paired my Sewaholic Lonsdale with some new yellow sandals.

 

 

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Tuesday, May 27 — This was a normal day at the office. I paired my unblogged McCall’s 6898 with my white skinny jeans and some old pale pink kitten heels. While seeing patients at the office, I slipped on one of my heels and landed on my knee on the concrete floor, resulting in an ugly bruise. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time these shoes made me fall so I put them straight into the Goodwill pile when I got home.

 

 

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Wednesday, May 28 — My first real day off in weeks it seemed. I spent all day working around the house, knitting, and sewing. I made this hot pink stretch lace slip with my trusty McCall’s 6559 pattern, cutting the length off about mid-thigh. I used a contrasting lavender knit for the neck and armscye bands. Sorry, no photos of me lounging in this one 🙂

 

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Thursday, May 29 — Back to the office where I wore my first pair of me-made panties. As you can tell, I made them to match my slip from the day before. You may also notice I used leftover fabric from my Nettie bodysuit for the lining.

To make these, I traced a favorite pair of RTW panties then stitched them up and added a little lavender elastic at the waist. I finished the leg openings with a simple serged hem.

I also wore a blouse made from Vogue 1386, a Sandra Betzina pattern. This top was made by Sandra herself and gifted to me after our class over the holiday weekend. Thanks so much, Sandra, for a great class and this beautiful blouse! I paired the blouse with some slim jeans and animal skin slingbacks.

 

 

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Friday, May 30 — Another Friday at the office. I wore my Vogue 8747 white blouse with some slim jeans and new camel T-strap sandals.

 

 

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Saturday, May 31 — Woo hoo! The last day and I made it!! I wore my Kirsten Kimono Tee again with some jeans and my red patent flats. My sis took this photo at a small gathering at her house where she announced that I am having another niece! Yay for girls!!! 😉

So if you’re still there, why don’t we talk briefly about what I learned from Me Made May ’14? I learned that a few things I made last year don’t fit (that’s the motivation I’ve been needing for that pesky 5 pounds!). I’ve also learned that I’ve made a lot of things suitable for days away from the office but I haven’t made many work-appropriate items. This is something that I hope to address this summer. Finally, I learned that I am terrible about remembering to take daily photos as most of mine were taken at the end of the day when everything was looking a little wilted.

Overall, May was a great month for me — very productive and satisfying — and I am looking forward to my upcoming sewing and knitting projects. I hope y’all have a great week and we’ll chat again soon!