Actual Sewing Content

O.K., it isn’t actually what I gave you a teaser of in my last (non injury related) post. This was actually a 2012 project made in the short (very short) interim between finals madness and flying home for Christmas.


My best impersonation of a Joanie-approved pose. Though she would probably be annoyed that I’m in front of a camera sans makeup

This is the pencil skirt from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. As I may have mentioned a million times, I am more or less Gertie sized so this project has no alterations other than lopping 2 inches off of the length. Mid-calf is just not a good length on me. I also opted for the optional boning in the waistband which I’m going to go ahead and call non-optional for all future renditions, I just can’t imagine it not folding into an accordioned wad every time I bend over (or, lets be realistic, slouch).


The dart placement on this pattern really makes me happy. I have no idea why but two darts just seems infinitely more classy than one. Or I am easily amused.

I must say I really love this book. While it doesn’t give a lot of information on techniques unfamiliar to me it is a fabulous collection of patterns, especially if you want versions of the VoNBBS patterns without having to track them all down and resize them to more modern proportions. My one pet peeve is that the pattern pieces overlap, so you have no choice but to trace them out (or get each page copied several times I suppose). I generally trace patterns anyway but the maze of lines is difficult to follow for some of the pieces and you have to be careful not to trace a weird franken-pattern of multiple pieces. If you can get over that, it’s great! Also, have you heard she apparently has two, two, books in the works? I am super excited.


Again, these darts are legit. My jaunty shoulder sweater technique could use some work though.

The actual skirt I’m somewhat ambivalent about. Though it fits really well, the fabric isn’t my favorite. Its a heavy flannel houndstooth from JoAnn fabrics that I was hoping would make a warmer winter skirt without me having to try and pick out wool over the internet. It has pilled a fair bit with only 2 wears and just doesn’t look very nice to me. Honestly, I’m probably the only one that notices but next time I’m going to be a little more careful on the fabric selection. I’m imagining a collection of brightly colored wool skirts, maybe some with polka-dots, for next fall. It needs to happen.


More darts! Darts forever! Also, the lone mint button on the back pleases me. Especially when I found a t-shirt to match it.

Also, while we are here can we talk about how it needs to stop snowing in PA? About how it needs to stop snowing because this outfit really needs these shoes and not snow boots?5Thifting is often really hit and miss for me but this may be the equivalent of a home run: $10 kelly green leather heels for the win.

Yep, I Lied


So a short hiatus turned into a semester long blog desertion. Once I got into the M.A. program groove, PhD applications took over along with final papers and general stress chez Toasty. Instead of blogging and sewing, the common practice became curling up in a corner with some Nutella and Doctor Who reruns.

With all that done and applications over with (except for the occasional nagging panic of “did I get in? Did I? DID I?”) and classes under control (not to mention the irritating lack of a job for the semester at the moment) sewing is mostly back in full swing and I even have a few projects to share over the coming weeks.

Avoiding the weirdness of New Years resolutions while making what seems suspiciously like one, I will be a better blogger. Not a good blogger, a timely blogger, or anything like that. I said better and I have, apparently, not set my own bar very high given my track record.

In more stitchy news, this is what is currently on the plate:

A dress. With foxes. Be still my sqweeing heart. I love this fabric so much even though I am normally not an orange and coral kind of gal.  I totally am a novelty print and woodland animal one though so I’m expanding my color horizons. This dress is actually finished but you’ll have to wait until less awful lighting to see it. That and I’ll have to brush my hair in between reading William Hazlett and Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution. Not to belittle the French Revolution but I feel that Burke might have been a little more positive if he had more leaping orange foxes in his life. Just a thought.

1/27/2013In a continuing novelty theme I bring you a bird sweater! Not much to say about this one except that it is moving very slowly, though through no fault of its own. The pattern is Ysolda Teague’s Chickadee and I have no idea about the yarn as I seem to have lost all of the ball bands.

On a separate note, have you seen her Narwhal Mittens? Normally I am firmly anti-mitten but I may have to make an exception.



Last but not least, a wiggle dress from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. Outside of being fabulously dull to photograph in progress (I blame grey wool) this is my new favorite. Ever. The size 8 fits like a glove with absolutely no alterations. Praise Gertie for having the same measurements as me, apparently. I’m debating whether or not this is going to get lined, as I would need to order fabric online (Pittsburgh is lovely except for its severe lack of good fabric stores) or pillage a lining from another soon-to-be project and I want to wear this dress now. I feel like the nerdy professor version of Joanie in it, which is basically truth in advertising except that I’m normally running around in a level of mild unkemptness that Joanie would probably fire me for. Sigh.

Oregonians in the Summer Time, or the Umbrella Dress

I’ve always thought that Oregonians are sort of like ice cubes, generally pretty chill and they melt in high heat. Seriously, the only thing more whiney than an Oregonian wishing for proper summer weather is an Oregonian in temperatures above 95 degrees. We are a temperate people.

And apparently, I’ve been missing the drizzle and grey because I felt the need to make a summer dress covered in umbrellas. As you do. (Seriously though: keep up with the warm, Northwest, I want a real summer this year).

Umbrella Bombshell

Umbrella Bombshell

It’s another Bombshell from Gertie’s class  but I swapped out the gathered skirt for a half circle skirt. I was a little iffy on the whole thing as I used quilting cotton and thought it might be too heavy to drape well. As it turns out, the stiffness keeps the skirt out and full (as horsehair in a hem might do) properly encouraging girly skirt twirl fests.

Umbrella Bombshell

The skirt is also lined with another quilting cotton (I have a problem) to avoid as potential visibility issues plus it furnished an excellent opportunity to add a little embroidered detail. It was nice to finally break out the embroidery stitches on my machine. Now I just need to find the right garment to use the tiny bicycles on…

Umbrella Bombshell

Umbrella Bombshell

The belt is made from one of Sunni’s belt kits (highly recommended by the way) and scraps from my red Truffle dress. I am definitely a homemade belt convert, I wear this thing all the time. Now I just need to figure out what to do with my other kit.

Umbrella Bombshell

Speaking of scraps, check out my on-the-home-stretch quilt top:

2012-07-09 09.45.33

Bam. I’m hoping to get it done by the end of this week so it can be quilted before I move to Pittsburgh next month. Only 23 days!

Sweet Cherry Pie Dress


Why yes, I did make a pretty kick-ass dress. Thanks for noticing.

It does exist! It does exist! I cannot say how much I love, love, LOVE this dress. It is my all time favorite. I’m constantly looking for excuses to wear it.


The obligatory awkward-face-times picture


And the process was actually pretty enjoyable, instead of tedious as I thought it would be. I have a new willingness (I won’t go so far as love yet) for hand sewing details on. The techniques that Gretchen gives you in the class really made a difference even though they do take longer.


My pastry senses are tingling...

I’m also very into the spiral steel boning. It’s a little harder to track down (I ordered mine here and was very pleased). I got a ten yard roll instead of the pre cut pieces so I had to cut it to size. It’s a little annoying, but with a good pair of wire cutters even wimpy little me managed pretty well. The extra work is so worth it, this dress is much more comfortable than my others with the plastic Rigiline boning. I’ll probably still use Rigiline for my less intensive projects just because it’s easier to get (well, and things I want to run through the wash) but this is definitely the new go-to for more couture-type applications.

And if you’ve thought about taking one of Gretchen’s online classes and haven’t, you totally should. They are detailed, clear, and more in depth than some in person courses I’ve taken (probably because there isn’t as much of a time constraint). It’s also really nice to be able to rewatch the trickier bits and use the class again when making another dress (which I plan to soon!). You could even check out the individual techniques, say the lapped zipper, and apply them to other dresses in case you need a refresher.


Speaking of lapped zippers, you’ll notice the extreme lack of one on mine. I’m just not huge on sewing them and for some reason they always seem like more of a fall/winter detail than a summer dress thing. Weird distinction I know but there you go.


My dress showing off its inner Kermit

The last thing favorite thing of this dress is the green hem tape. My mom looked at me a little cross-eyed when I pulled the bright instead of a black or a white. I just love the random color though and no one else is ever really going to see it. If you want to see more pictures of the innards check here.


And a note on the dress name, yes I know that there are no cherries in any way involved. The first time I wore it someone commented that it reminded them of a fifties diner (in a good way!). And whenever I think of retro diners I think of pie cases, and then cherry pie with whipped cream. And whipped cream is white and my polka dots are white. See, I am justified.

Capt. America

One day I will no longer have a runny nose and a general feeling of gross, but today is not that day. Ergo, no bombshell pictures. However this has given me ample opportunity to be curled up on the couch with a box of tissues, cough drops, and movies. Movies that are good for your sewing mojo.

Captain America: The First Avenger came in the mail the other day. I’d already seen it but I have a soft spot for comic book movies, especially since one of my old roommates had most of a closet dedicated to his comic book collection (and that was only part of it! I have much sympathy considering my fabric/yarn hoarding habits). This particular movie is also a favorite of mine as far as the costuming.

Specifically Peggy Carter’s (played by Haylay Atwell) entire ensemble, and hair, I want. Most of the film takes place at the end of World War II and has all the retro details I love. The 40s is one of my favorite fashion decades (though it doesn’t pop up too much in my wardrobe which gives way more to the 50s recently. For some reason 40s fashions always read more “fall” to me and 50s is more summery. I suppose its just the particular trends I’m drawn to.)

I have grandiose ideas of sewing up a few Peggy worthy pieces. It will probably be slated until fall but I like to plan ahead so I can look for fabric bargains. First up is recreating Peggy’s suit jacket that she runs around during most of the film:

I mean look at this thing? I love 40s suits precisely because they take a masculine staple, the suit, and still make it look feminine and, um, hot. Personally, I think this is the way that whole military jacket trend should have gone (though I did see a few, fun recreations of jackets inspired by the American Revolutionary period). This is the one piece I really want, even if doing a tailored jacket is pretty intimidating for me. I plan on (eventually) using Gertie’s Starlet Suit Jacket class as a base (she actually mentions this film in the introduction. What luck!). I might also go with a little bit more of a green than a true olive drab. I’m not exactly constrained by uniform standards.

And of course the pencil skirt. A girl can’t have too many of those.

We even get a dressed up Peggy (briefly). Couldn’t you just die for that red dress? I love how the 40s always looked sexy and classy. You didn’t have to wear a micro-mini or be freezing cold to go out on the town (big consideration in a lot of cities I’ve lived in). I love a good strapless sundress but I love this hot-yet-covered sort of dress. And I’m a self-fabric belt girl. So there.

And it’s much easier to be badass when you don’t have to worry as much about a skirt riding up.