A Creative Space

Hello everyone! Welcome to my new blog. I have been contemplating a switch from my crochet blog to one that includes all the things I love, and I have finally created that reality.

My usual choice of title would be a pun or something silly, but nothing came to me. I finally realized I wanted something that represented my creative energy. I love to work in quiet, restful spots where I can fully engage in the project and my aesthetic is feminine (ribbons and laces).

I have accumulated quite a few pictures and projects while I was trying to come up with a title, so I will get those up ASAP. I am also moving my crochet/knitting posts over from blogger slowly. I expect the blog to feature projects of the following types: crochet/knit, from-scratch sewing, refashions and miscellaneous adventures into other areas.

I recently read this book and was incredibly inspired to work with used clothing to help reduce the unethical consequences of fast fashion, so many of my early posts will show my attempts to turn my $1.39/pound (yes, by the pound) Goodwill finds into something wearable.

I welcome your opinions about my work in the comments, regardless of their harshness, but I request that you are kind to the other guests on my site. Thank you for spending a little time in my world today!

Balancing the Crescent Skirt

The second project I made for the fall transition is a crescent skirt from Sewaholic Patterns in dark denim. I was excited to try one of their patterns, as they’re designed for “pear shapes” and that means plenty of space for my hips/backside!

I made a size 10, and at first I increased the width of the yoke by an inch to get it to sit lower on my hips. This was a TERRIBLE idea. See picture below:

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That yoke definitely belongs on your waist, not your hips. Ugh. So I took out all my stitching around just the side seams and took that inch I added out:

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I then realized I really needed it an inch smaller, so I went back in with the seam ripper for round 3. Finally the size was correct, but it took me another few days to realize I still didn’t like the skirt because it made my chest look disproportionately large. This is a problem I have with a lot of styles that fit at the natural waist. The solution: wear a loose, dark colored top. The extra ease in the chest area helps balance my proportions and the dark colors create a longer line, keeping me from looking like I’ve been chopped into curvy blocks by the waistline.

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The “why is this picture so washed out?” pose.

I think the lesson learned here is that fitting your body and flattering your body are completely different. The skirt has a great fit, but it’s definitely designed for that “pear” shape with the smaller chest. I also made that mistake when I sewed up Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top and didn’t do a big ol’ full-bust adjustment.  Actually, I should have just made it a size larger, but I tried to compensate for overly stretchy fabric by making it down a size. Whoops! I’m making a lot of rookie mistakes here, but I’m learning quickly! At least I can wear the top under a sweater or to a yoga class this fall.

Renfrew Top Disaster
I’m so unhappy with the fit here that it doesn’t get its own blog post!

Between Shifts and Sheaths

I think I should preface my fall sewing posts with the following: Fall in Austin is not very cold at all. Thus, my “fall sewing” is mostly just trying to make summer-weight clothing look like fall clothing! First up, a couple of dresses based on New Look 6095.

These dresses were my first use of Swedish Tracing Paper that I ordered from Amazon here. I saw it on another blog, but I can’t remember which one right now. I wanted to preserve the original pattern for future work, since the dress is so perfectly basic that I was sure I would want to make it again for myself or someone else.

On the first round I tried to make the alterations I knew I needed: a one-inch full-bust adjustment and grading to a larger size at the hip. This was based on finished garment measurements and the amount of ease that I wanted. I measured between the 14 and 16 in the chest (37), but I knew the 16 wouldn’t fit in the shoulder so I used the 14 (I’m a big C, small D cup). My waist was also in the middle (29.5) but I know I’m perpetually taking things in at the waist so I went for the 14 at the waist as well. I know my backside is relatively large (40) so that I would definitely need the 16 there to get proper ease.

In the end I did something odd, and surely not so “right.” I made the front in the straight size 14 with a full bust adjustment and added waist darts. Those waist darts are the motivation for the title: I wanted the dress shaped, but not fitted.

Then I broke all the rules and graded just the back from a 14 to a 16 from waist to hip and took out an inch at the lengthen-shorten line to match the increased dart intake in the front. To my surprise, this worked out fine.

All of those adjustments took forever and induced many groans from my boyfriend who was very annoyed that I kept running back and forth from my sewing station in our living room to the full-length mirror in our bedroom to adjust the fit. In the end though, I’m incredibly happy with how my dresses turned out!

After reading all of the reviews for the pattern on Pattern Review I decided to use bias binding on the neck (and armholes below) to keep the dresses lightweight. It was my first time using the method, so the print on the black dress is hiding some mistakes. It went perfectly on the orange dress.

The first is intended for a cocktail occasion, in a print that I LOVE. It has just enough vintage flair for my taste, without making it look like a costume (I have strong opinions about wearing vintage.)

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front view
Very happy with the finished fit! Yes I wanted it a little looser, it’s meant to be comfortable and conservative, for those times when there are “real” adults in the room.

The second is designed as a really lightweight fall dress. I loved the orange because it made me think of fall, would complement my subtly red hair, which of course I forgot to let hang in the picture, and I could picture it looking great with my brown flats. As soon as he saw it though, my boyfriend lamented my use of “burnt orange.” Oops, I made it in UT colors without thinking! At least I’ll fit in on campus. I’ll take the accidental school spirit. I shortened this one a bit as well, to keep it casual for school. The professors give seminars in shorts and a tshirt in my department, so I try not to dress up too much so I don’t stick out (because I want to daydream during class/seminars sometimes.) I also want to emphasize that the orange dress is linen. I claim all wrinkles are part of the look.

front view
Does the brown belt make it less “go longhorns” and more “yay fall”?

I’m quite excited to have this pattern in my stash. It’s incredibly fast to sew up now, and I know it will fit perfectly. Here’s how I styled the orange dress for school the other day (re-created because I didn’t take a picture in the morning).

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Summer Sewing: Part 2

Part 2 of my summer sewing adventures!  This time, I’m sharing my first commission! Okay, well it was from my sister so I’m not sure it really counts. She sent me this inspiration picture and asked me to work on designing an above-the-knee robe for her.

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So I made up Vogue V8888 in some fabric from Joann’s (size 14 with no changes).

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And here it is on me! My sister is a bit smaller than I am at the bust and waist, so it actually fit her perfectly (though the only pic she sent me was a mirror selfie).

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Alterations she requested: the sleeves are slightly angled and I shortened the pattern about 4 inches.

Alterations I also made: I top stitched the self-facing down since I couldn’t figure out how they wanted it secured based on the instructions (as far as I could tell, not at all)!

Alterations I would make if I did it again: I would exclude the fusible interfacing on the collar, as it felt a bit too stiff to me! It’s a robe and no one will see if it flops a little.

Summer Sewing: Part 1

I have been sewing at a pretty frantic pace all summer… so frantic, in fact, that I completely forgot to blog about any of it. Over the next few weeks I’ll put out posts on the pieces I made this summer, hopefully catching up in order to do most of my fall work as it happens! First up is the bag I made for my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding in San Antonio!

I found this long, green chiffon pleated dress that I LOVED but every bag I owned looked terrible with it. So I decided to make a beaded, crocheted one from scratch since I didn’t remember beading being that hard. Well it was very hard, and it took forever, but I was completely in love with the result!

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The bag is beaded using a variety of E beads on cream colored size 10 crochet thread. The back and lining of the bag are “silky solids” cream fabric from Joann, with the back reinforced with some fusible interfacing.

I really regret not thinking carefully about the closure. I chose snaps, but those don’t work well for non-overlapping bag closures because things fall out! I should have put in a zipper, and I still might one day!

Refashions Round Two

So my second trip to the Goodwill Blue Hanger Outlet here in Austin yielded an even larger haul! Here are some of my first refashions from that set:

I LOVED the print on this dress, but it was an Old Navy XXL, and I’m an Old Navy small!

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This one took a lot of time because I needed to do some resizing of the cups beyond just chopping of 4 or 5 inches on each side.

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Preliminary chops. I took this in a lot more later on.

I really like resizing from larger sizes because it is easier to get adequate boob coverage (at least on the sides) and I can choose the fit through the hips/stomach as well. This one is planned as a beach/pool coverup, or maybe something for a laid back cookout.

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I am in love with this next top! I was immediately drawn to the print and neck details.

Neck details
Neck details

It became immediately clear why someone put this top up for adoption though: the arms were elastic and way too tight for a large (has Charlotte Russe ever heard of pushups?)

You can't tell too much, but my arms are in some serious pain!
You can’t tell here, but my arms are losing circulation.

Luckily, removing elastic from its casing isn’t difficult! I also took it in an inch on each side, as the very wide peasant look isn’t flattering on my body type.

LOVE THE PRINT
Before and after
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Pinning inside-out.

I was really unsure what to do with the last top in this batch of refashions. I like the orange chevron print, but the shirt had a lot of issues. To start with, it had hideous pockets on the front.

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Second, it had obviously been previously refashioned by someone who was too lazy to snip their seams afterward!

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Why couldn’t you snip that seam?

The pockets had to go first. I took in the sides in quite a bit. Then I ripped out the previous refashioner’s shoulder seams, and used a long stitch on my machine to gather the shoulders a lot. Then I used the pocket flaps to gather the shoulders and give the neckline a unique look. All-in-all… I don’t hate it and I’ll probably wear it occasionally. Success!

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A bit smaller, a lot more fashionable, and still relaxed.

My Coffee Date Dress

I was super excited to find the free Coffee Date Dress pattern by elainemay and make it as my first from-scratch sewing project in a long time! It came in (what I thought was) my size too! I started by making a muslin from an old, grass-stained sheet that I thought might have a similar feel to the sea-foam green fabric I bought:

Making a muslin.
Making a muslin. (no hem yet)

It was immediately clear that the waist was too large, so I took it in (crudely) about an inch total. I didn’t see on this really light fabric that the hips were also too large! That showed up on the final piece.

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So my next move was to undo all my lovely french seams and take it in a bit more at the hips. I also needed to make it about an inch shorter! I decided to avoid the ruffle because I was afraid the red hair+seafoam green + ruffle combo would make me look like a mermaid.

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I still have no idea what is going on with the fake nipples the darts are giving me! If someone knows how to fix that, let me know!

First Refashions

I was incredibly inspired by Elizabeth Cline’s book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and as a consequence I have spent many hours looking through the Refashionista blog, daydreaming about creating my own beautiful, eco-friendly (and sweat-shop-free) refashions. I’ll admit some of my work has been more attempted tailoring than true refashioning, but I think I still captured the basic premise of the “reuse, don’t buy new” philosophy. So here are a few first attempts, in all their mirror-pic, no-make up, messy hair glory.

I started with a simple too-big-to-my-size dress refashion. I was originally drawn to it because of the subtle grey print and the pintuck detail at the neckline. It was fairly simple to take the dress in about 4 inches on each side and rip out all the ugly green bits.

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I’m pretty sure this was intended as a nightgown…

Then I moved on to a faux-wrap top that actually fit quite well. I was originally planning to wear it as-is, but my boyfriend said it looked like the top half of a bath robe (you can’t un-see that), so I carefully ripped the sleeves off and shortened them, preserving the lovely ribbon detail at the bottom. I used the original sleeve top (what is the technical word for that?) as a template when I cut the shorter sleeves, and then inserted them like the usual set-in sleeve.

Much more summer weather appropriate!
Much more summer weather appropriate!

Finally, I did some work on a nightgown. It was a tags-still-attached Victoria’s Secret brand slip.

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It was probably donated due to the bizarre boob shaping pictured below (I promise this is PG, I put another modest bra under it):

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See how it sticks out all funny?

I simply sewed that odd seam into a straight line instead, and the slip turned into the perfect nightgown!

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So much better!

All three pieces cost only $1.50. I think I might be hooked on thrifting!