Friday, September 12, 2014

Completed: Renfrew Giselle Mash-Up

Here's the second project I've been waiting - oh, three months - to photograph and share. It started with this Renfrew Remix from April 2013. I just didn't like the skirt on the dress. It was too short for my comfort, and the gathers were right at the center front (belly) and back (rear end), which made me look like a) I was pregnant and/or b) I was a reversed mushroom.

I liked the Renfrew top enough to rip it apart and use it with another skirt.

Enter the Kate & Rose Giselle Dress pattern test I tried earlier this summer. My initial version of the Giselle didn't fit up top, but I loved the skirt portion.

Add a Renfrew top to a Giselle skirt, stir them around, toss in a little thread, and Poof!

The t-shirt is twisted in these photos. Someday I'll figure out how to pose for a picture, run back to the camera to check it, and adjust things.

I added a thin black belt, and it's the perfect length skirt to wear with black ballet flats. This fabric is busy so it's tough to see, but the skirt has two tiers. 

Ryan took these photos. I told him to make me laugh. It worked, but I'm permanently scarred by some of the things he said. 


Modifications: Cut off the Renfrew and added a band to the bottom of it. Used just the skirt bottom of the Giselle. Gathered the top of the skirt slightly, and then attached the bodice to the skirt with 1/4" elastic. 
Fabric: Skirt fabric is from the clearance table at Jo-Ann. It's a silky synthetic that's very nice.
Tips: When adding a woven skirt to a knit top, I've found the easiest method for me is to mark the center front and sides, gather the skirt top slightly, match the centers and side seams to the top, pin the elastic (you've already measured according to your waist+seam allowance) at the centers and sides, and stretch elastic as you go.

Um, I think I just found my next tutorial. (Especially since I committed to doing one when I first did a woven/knit combo dress back in April 2013.)

This dress has been in heavy rotation this summer. Because there are so many different choices in woven fabric, and because knit is so comfortable, it's just a Super Duper Combination.

This Moment {September 12, 2014}

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Completed: Burda Folk Skirt (03/2013 #123)

My favorite summer skirt came from Tuesday Morning -- the absolute last place I would expect to find a flowing, gauzy, loudly floral, totally hippy-esque maxi skirt. For $15. 

That skirt is my adult-version Woobie -- it's been worn threadbare, and I'm convinced if it disappeared someone would have to go out to find it or find me a replacement.

To fend off potential heartbreak, I decided to make a replacement in the form of Burda 03/2013 #123 -- the Folk Skirt (pattern included with the summer edition of the magazine).

Pattern: Burda 03/2013 #123 from the summer 2013 magazine. (This was my free Burda sample. I think I'm going to subscribe.)
Fabric: Three different lightweight cotton apparel fabrics from Jo-Ann.
Size: 34
Modifications: I had to take in the sides quite a bit for fitting. I lined the top layer of the skirt -- the lining is attached at the waistband but hangs free.

  • This skirt is so cool in the summer. It's breezy and lightweight.
  • I like the combination of fabrics. My Woobie Skirt has three fabrics that are totally different and loud and colorful, so I thought it would work here, too. I dig it.
  • The wide waistband is flattering, I think. My Woobie has an elastic waistband, which is comfortable, but not as flattering.
  • This is an easy sew. If you don't mind gathers. Tons and tons of gathers.

  • There are no pockets.
  • This skirt is LOOOOONG. I'm 5'5" and it is probably 4" too long, which makes sense if most models are 5'9"ish. The problem is you can't simply shorten the hem. If you do that, the fabric layers will be uneven lengths and the whole proportions of the skirt will be off. My suggestion would be to check final measurements before you begin. Duh, Michelle. I can walk fine in it, but I've got six little feet stepping on it constantly because they can't walk more than two inches away from me.
  • The gathers. Oh. My. Goodness. The. Gathers. WHY do I keep choosing patterns with gathers? I love the look, but Despise. The. Gathers.
  • This skirt is a fabric hog. SOUIE! Oink. Oink. Snort.
  • Check the length before you begin.
  • Be prepared to make adjustments to the side seams if necessary. Easy fix.
  • Mark centers and gather half or 1/4 of the skirt at a time to keep from breaking thread and to make it easier to gather consistently.
All in all this is a super easy sew. I loooove the way they styled it and even thieved four chunky belts from my mom's and sister's closets to try similar styling. But I just couldn't pull it off. I'd like to pair it with a Nettie Bodysuit (just picked up this pattern and can't wait to make one!).

How do you feel about Burda patterns? I've had mixed results with them. How about you?

Monday, September 8, 2014

On Writing and Blogging and Sewing

I've been blogging for seven and a half years now! It started when I was pregnant with Lee as a way to document our excitement (and fear, joy, hopes, apprehension) and to keep far-away family involved.

{Here's my first post from March 15, 2007.}


We're having a baby in September!

Here's an ultrasound picture at 13 weeks. The baby's head is on the right (that's the hand that looks parallel to the nose). You can't see the legs in this picture, but they were moving like crazy! We've already got a little runner.

We won't find out the baby's sex, but we'll have another ultrasound around 22 weeks or so. More pictures will follow!


It continued as a way to keep track of the kids' growth and our family's changes. All along I planned to stop when Lee entered Kindergarten.

Then I started getting involved in the Sewing Blog World. When the time came to stop writing the family blog, I created Handmade Martini. 

A few weeks ago the Dynamic Duo Ashley and Emily (Frances Suzanne) invited me to take part in a blog hop, answering questions specifically about writing. It's been fun to reflect and think about how things have evolved.

Why do you write (blog)?

Oh, Lawdy. The short answer is I Write to Process Life. I've been writing for as long as I can remember and had two or three writing-related careers. Writing is easier for me than speaking.

It's obvious from my oldest posts that I was struggling with all the things first-time moms struggle with, and writing was my way to work through crises in identity, confidence, sleep deprivation, etc. At first the only ones reading were our parents, siblings, and closest friends.

Lee, October 2007
The unexpected joy of having an audience motivated me to continue. I've made people laugh, cry, and want to slap me.

Also, I wanted to have a baby book but am too lazy to scrapbook.

Eventually I decided it was time to stop writing for the public. While I still write long-winded, sappy, navel-gazing essays, Ryan is my only audience. We are super grateful to have a record of the first years of our kids'  lives and our parenting journey and occasionally read over old posts together (with a box of tissues nearby).

April 2012

Daniel, February 2012
Eliza, December 2011
Handmade Martini has given me a wonderful opportunity to connect with other sewists. After our last move, when I was left floating around trying to find a place to land, the consistency of the online sewing blogging community grounded me. Meeting friends like Ashley and Emily in person was just about The Coolest Thing Ever. (Their southern drawl is as refreshing as cold sweet tea on an August Memphis afternoon.)

And it's great to share projects with each other.

My first shared sewing project: pillow case purses June 2008

Blogging is getting tougher, but I'm determined to find a way to keep doing it at least occasionally.

What am I working on?
I'm working on finishing two of three Elsa dresses (McCall's 7000). The second came together much more quickly. There are around 80 pieces I had to cut for those dresses. Gah.

I'm also working on Fall plans for the boys, me, and Eliza. Pinterest seems like the easiest way to organize things. (Here's my Fall/Winter Mood Board.)

Also, my sister is getting married in January! I'm sewing several projects for her wedding, including my dress and Eliza's. My goal is to have everything finished by Thanksgiving so I can enjoy traveling to wedding-related events without scrambling to get things finished.

(I'm finishing this blog post at 11:20 p.m. the day it is due. If my track record is any indication, chances are good I'll be sewing last-minute wedding things after the rehearsal dinner.)

What makes mine different from others in the genre?
Um, nothing. There ain't nothing special here. Other than the fact that my kids are cuter than average and my husband says really funny things that I occasionally share.

As far as my sewing, there's nothing super unique about it either. I love MiniBoden and Martha Pullen. You may see smocking, and you may see knit appliqu├ęd t-shirts. You may see Bohemian Hippy and you may see Tailored Chic.

Now that Eliza has an opinion, you'll likely see something that resembles Jem's '80s rocker look.

How does my writing/blogging/sewing process work?
I think about essays for days before I write them. Usually long runs are a great time to process material.

Blogging happens when it happens. I do all the planning, shopping for materials, sewing, and blogging after everyone is in bed. The photographing part is the most challenging. My remote is moody, and it's hard to coordinate the weather. I've tried to call in favors, but apparently Mother Nature is busy.

I'm a meticulous sewer. I will rip the same seam four times to get things right. Every project I complete is flawed, but the pursuit of that flawless garment is what keeps me interested. Someday I'd like to look at something I complete and think, "There is nothing I'd change about it."

It's like the Holy Grail of sewing, right?

my favorite project to date -- a Sunki Flip and upcycled Fedora, October 2013
I come from a long line of artistic folk. The women in my family use their hands to create beautiful gardens, quilts, letters and stories, draperies, music, paintings, and clothing. I'm curious to see which creative art the kids choose.

And now it's time for me to ask a couple of other blogging friends to answer some questions. I've to a tendency to veer off path, so the question I've asked them to answer are different from the ones in this "blog hop."

There's Natalie. She's a mom of three littles and used to work with my mom in a Shelby County middle school. Now that I've met her in person and followed her blog for years, I can call her my friend, too. She is funny and kind and teaches yoga. She's honest and smart. Aaaaaand she had a baby in a car. <<<< The Best Birth Story Ever.

And there's Katie. Katie is also a mom of three littles and a partner in a law firm. My passion is women's sewing, and Katie is my go-to-pattern-reviewer. If she recommends a pattern, I know it's a good one. She sews practical, beautiful clothes and thoroughly breaks down the pros and cons of all types of patterns. Plus her kids are gorgeous, and I look forward to hearing about her week in her "Coffee Date Friday" posts.

Look for their posts next week! And because we're on vacation and I have a photographer/husband held captive this week, I'll be able to post about two projects very soon! Hallelujah. Have a great week, y'all!

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