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Aug 282014


So, first things first.  I bleached my hair and now it’s red!  I was bleaching it with the intent to dye it a more vibrant shade of purple, of course.  Once I bleached it, though, I really liked the gingery color that resulted, so I decided to do red for a little while.  Even though I liked this color a lot, it’s a little too light and orangey for my skin tone, plus it was uneven because I didn’t listen enough when people online said your roots would bleach a lot faster than the rest of your hair because of the heat from your head, so my roots turned out bright yellow.  I ended up dyeing it a much darker and more vibrant red, and I think it looks better with my skin and more natural.  I mean, it’s still pretty obvious that I’m not a natural redhead, but at least it doesn’t clash quite as much.  I think I must have been inspired by Tasha’s recent transformation, which I love!  I finished a Grainline Alder last week and already have some photos, so if I can get my act together and write up a post, you should be able to see the new red soon!  Once my roots grow out, I’m going to use hair dye remover, bleach out whatever red is left, and actually do teal first.  Once that fades, I think I should be able to put purple over top without too much interference.  Yay colors!


Now on to the actual topic of this blog!  Today I have a fairly altered version of McCall’s 5893, a maxi dress.  The two substantial changes I made were to make this a little bigger so I could sew it in a woven, and to make the dress out of a single piece in the front and a single piece in the back rather than having a separate bodice.  I didn’t really like having a seam line breaking up the length of the dress.  I’m so short that I thought a continuous piece of fabric would be more lengthening.  I don’t know how much of a difference this makes in a busy print like this, but it was especially important for the second one I made, which was a border print with stripes along the middle of the fabric.  Keeping those stripes intact made the dress look a lot better than it would have broken up.  Unfortunately, my darts are all kinds of wonky on that dress, and I really don’t want to wear it.  They were super pointy and I couldn’t do anything to fix them.  When I tried, the points actually turned from single points to these weird elliptical bubbles.  Ugh.  I really liked the fabric I used, but at least it was only two dollars a yard at Vogue.  It’s a poly and wasn’t taking a press very well, which I think is part of the problem.

Another thing that making the dress all one piece did is allow me to eliminate the gathered skirt.  I didn’t feel like a long gathered skirt would be a good look for me, so what I did was just leave the vertical bust darts open at the bottom so the dress would still give me some ease through the stomach and hip area, which makes me feel much more comfortable.  I really like how this turned out.  I think it’s flattering, and I have plans to use this construction method on tops and other dresses.


In that photo, I was trying to smile at the voluminousness of the skirt, but I ended up looking skeptical, which I think is actually quite appropriate!  I’m not sure maxi dresses look that great on me in the first place, but the volume in this skirt especially made me worry it was too overwhelming for my short frame.  I’m still not sure if I should take it in at the side seams.  The width of this skirt was another thing I altered, come to think of it.  I was worried it wouldn’t be wide enough based on the pattern as drafted, so I used a maxi skirt I have from Target as a guide.  However, the skirt is a rayon jersey and has awesome drape, whereas this skirt doesn’t drape quite as nicely.  I thought it might because it’s a nice cotton lawn, but it’s just not as good as jersey.

So you might be wondering why I decided to make a maxi dress if I was so uncertain of how it would look on me.  I had kind of been wanting to try a maxi dress this summer, but my hand was forced about a month ago when I stupidly fell while out for a run and got a huge disgusting scrape on my leg.  It was truly gross and had to be covered with a huge bandage, and there was no way I was going to go out with it or even the bandage exposed.  So I pulled out this pattern, which I think was one of the first ones I bought back when I started sewing!  I also went to Target and bought a bunch of maxi skirts because I just didn’t have enough clothes to get me through the week and couldn’t sew up everything I needed quickly enough.  One of the Target skirts is so ridiculously long that I’ve actually hiked it all the way up and have been wearing it as a dress.  I know I’m short, but come on, Target!  These skirts are made for 7 foot tall women!


So my foot looks a little pale and dead in this photo, haha.  But this photo captures what’s constantly happening as I wear this dress – I have to hold up the skirt to go up stairs, get in cars, avoid getting the dress in puddles.  It’s actually one of my favorite things about this dress.  It makes me feel like a princess!


Not much to say here, but I like to include a back shot because sometimes what looks good from the front looks hideous from the back.  I’m happy with this one, though.  I do think I’ll make the back narrower at the arms, though.  This extending pretty far out onto my arms, which happened because the neckline is really wide on this dress.


Not much to say about the side, either.

mccalls-5893-dramatic-frontThis picture cracks me up.  I wanted to do a dramatic shot, but I ended up looking like I’m leading the charge into battle in some old painting.

I’ve definitely been inspired by Oonaballoona’s maxi awesomeness, and I did sew this during Oonapalooza month, but I didn’t get my act together with photos.  So I’m going to say this is my contribution for the Sewcialists’ Tribute Month, and it’s a late tribute to Oona!  I only wish I would have caught on to her low-to-the-ground style of photography, because this just-shy-of-five-feet girl needs all the help she can get.  I’ll definitely try it next time.

So with all that being said, I’m sort of thinking of chopping this dress off at the knees.  A maxi just isn’t that wearable for me, and I would kind of like to wear this into the fall with tights, boots, and a cardigan.  On the other hand, this is a really summery print, so maybe it would look weird in the fall.  What do you think?

Jul 242014

I’m still working on that Cambie I keep mentioning.  There are so many annoying things that have happened during the construction of this dress, all of which I’ll talk about in what will hopefully be my next post.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the pattern; it’s all my fault for not thinking things through when lining eyelet with a different color, plus something went wonky in my fit from muslin to final garment, which is what I’m dealing with right now.

So, next most important thing:  hair dye.  I mentioned in my last post that I was going to dye my hair, but I didn’t say what color.  I had initially wanted to dye my hair bright pink, but I went to a sort of costume party a few months where there was a pink wig, and I realized my yellowy-olive skin looked gross with pink hair.  When I talked to my hairdresser, she agreed that pink wouldn’t be good for my skin tone.  So I turned to purple, which is my favorite color.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here, but the number of things I own that are purple is reaching a disturbing height.  So dyeing my hair seemed both a natural choice and probably one that would make me look like a purple people eater.  But the hairdresser recommended purple because she thought a reddish one would be great with my skin.  I think she was right.


That’s me right after getting my hair dyed at the salon.  All of it is dyed a very dark purplish brown – so dark you can barely even tell it’s purple – and then there are highlights with a brighter reddish purple.  Another thing I initially wanted to do is totally bleach my hair to platinum and then dye it colors because then I could use much more vibrant colors.  I didn’t end up doing that because I just went with what the hairdresser recommended, which was this.  I was a little nervous about bleach frying my hair, so I didn’t argue.  Next time I think may have my whole head of hair taken down a couple levels and dyed the color of the highlights because they’re my favorite part.  Plus, those are the parts that are bleached and they’re not damaged at all, so I think I should be okay.

The purple seemed really subtle to me, which made me a little sad, so I decided to put some Manic Panic over top of it to see if I could make it more vibrant.  It’s a subtle difference, but I think it is a little more purple with the Manic Panic.


I have like a billion hair pictures because I kept taking them in attempts to convince myself that my hair really was noticeably purple.  Here’s a sunlight picture, where the purple that seems so similar to my dark hair color in low light really pops:


However, you guys, Manic Panic is a huge pain in the ass.  Ever since I did this a week and a half ago, it’s been turning my fingernails purple.  So now that I have purple hair, I apparently have to always paint my nails purple as well because painting them yellow (which is what I’ve done today) leaves them with gross purple streaks.  The first day I did my hair after adding the Manic Panic my hands turned seriously purple, and I kept hiding them in my pockets like a weirdo while I was trying to teach.  In addition to all of that, it’s already significantly faded.  Has anyone ever tried Manic Panic and had the same problems?  If so, have you found an alternative?  I’m going to try Special Effects next, which Lauren Lladybird recommended to me, and I hope it isn’t as annoying as Manic Panic.  After my next salon appointment, I hopefully won’t have to do this again because I’ll be able to get my whole head looking like the highlights I have now, which should be vibrant enough.

The purple is very similar to my natural dark hair color, plus I think it looks almost natural, so I haven’t had many comments on it.  The hairdresser actually called it “adult purple” when we did it, so it’s pretty tame.  But the funniest story that I’ve gotten out of this hair dyeing situation is when a student who came in late one morning raised her hand in what I thought was an attempt to answer a question I had just asked about the article they had read for the day.  Instead she said, “I have an unrelated question. I came in late, so maybe I missed this, but is your hair purple?”  Everyone busted out laughing, and I’m guessing some others were wondering the same thing.  I laughed and told her that she hadn’t missed, like, an announcement or anything, but yes, my hair was purple.  Haha!  My next favorite story is when a friend sent me a picture of a coloring book page her three-year-old daughter had colored that day because she had given the lady in the picture purple hair.  Her daughter hadn’t seen me or anything – it’s just that great minds think alike!

Ok, with all that hair nonsense out of the way, how about some sewing projects?  Today I have two household projects to show you instead of the usual garments.  The first one is a new ironing board cover.  A couple of years ago I got fed up with my cheap ironing board from Walmart leaking rusty water all over my clothes, so I did a bunch of research and found that a lot of people like this Reliable ironing board:


So I got it even though it was pretty expensive and some friends made fun of me (little do they know how much I’ve spent on other sewing nonsense!).  It’s very sturdy and it’s all powder-coated metal, so it’s not supposed to rust.  However, the cover has always bugged me because the white sides of it will flip up so that there’s a lip on the edge of the ironing board, which make sit hard to move your fabric around, plus the padding has always been too thin for my tastes.  Then I got fusible interfacing goop on it.  Then I spilled juice on it because in our tiny apartment, the ironing board gets set up in the kitchen where it sometimes ends up serving as additional counter space.  So I decided to make a new cover out of some home dec weight Amy Butler cotton sateen I got for a quilt but ended up not using because it didn’t go as well with the other colors as I thought it would (that quilt?  front and back pieced over two years ago, batting bought, remains unquilted to this day.  the quilting part terrifies me.  boo.).  I also added two cotton towels underneath it for padding, and I placed all of this over top of the original padding as well.


This is one of my summer stashbust projects, because I’ve had this yard of fabric hanging around for longer than I’ve had that unquilted quilt hanging around!  There’s some leftover, so I think I’m going to make a new cover for my tailor’s ham so it matches.  I used Sunni’s tutorial to make the cover and it was all pretty straightforward.  The only thing was that I didn’t have enough elastic to run through the bias casing, so I just used some thick pearl cotton I got a long time ago for pintucking and tied it.  It was the only thing I had enough of!  The next time I’m at Joann’s I’ll have to pick up some elastic and switch it out.

A better view of the fabric:


The next project is a new shower curtain.  About a year ago the apartment above us had some issue with the plumbing that caused our ceiling to leak.  It left a gross-looking rusty water spot on our shower curtain, and assuming it would never come out, I just didn’t even bother trying to wash it.  I was sick of the shower curtain anyway, so I began a massive hunt to find the perfect new shower curtain.  I didn’t really want to sew one because shower curtains are both wider and longer than 60″ wide fabric, so I’d have to piece it together, and that really bugged me.  I thought I’d probably end up not matching the pattern precisely enough and it would end up  looking tacky.  Even so, I bought some curtain fabric from the Textile Discount Outlet that was long enough.  Well, it wasn’t wide enough.  So I went back and bought some more.  I got it home and realized it was ever so slightly different than the first piece I’d bought.  I decided I would just piece the fabric together in multiple strips, and then it would look like I’d gotten the two very similar but slightly different pieces on purpose.  But I was sort of fed up by that point and lazy and I also hate sewing things that aren’t garments, so that never came to fruition.  And the massive search for the perfect shower curtain fizzled out because every shower curtain currently being sold is fugly, ya’ll.  I searched every single website and store I could think of, and everything was either too boring, too fussy, too ugly, or too expensive.

But about a month ago we were at Ikea and I thought, hey, Ikea might have a cheap, awesome shower curtain!  Well, reader, I was wrong.  They, just like every other place I had searched before, had no decent shower curtain options.  But then I thought, hmm, Ikea has other cheap goods.  Perhaps I could buy one and harvest the fabric for a shower curtain?  I checked the duvet section and found a couple I liked, but decided again that I didn’t really want to spend time sewing one.  So I went home and searched every place I had already searched, found nothing that wasn’t outrageously expensive, and when I found myself back at Ikea the next day because we had bought the wrong drawer for our end table unit (isn’t that always the way with Ikea?), I just bought the duvet cover.  And now I’m the proud owner/creator of this shower curtain:


Plus I have enough leftover fabric to make a whole other shower curtain because the duvet cover was the same on both sides!  We also got new purple rugs (we use Flor tiles because they’re easy to clean and replace) for the bathroom at the same time, because purple.

Here’s the old shower curtain, which I was super sick of.  This picture is actually from the apartment before the one we’re living in now, so that’s why the bathroom looks totally different.


I’d had my fill of it, plus I’m not really into that branchy flowery style of things anymore.  I’m more about bold graphic things when it comes to my living spaces these days.

The shower curtain was super easy to make.  I just measured the old one, noted down its seam allowances, then copied it.  I made buttonholes to put the hooks through, and that was that.  Oh, I did also interface the top hem where the buttonholes are to add some sturdiness to the area that would be holding the whole thing up.  Our shower curtain had a plastic overlay in that area, but I never understood the point of it because it ripped the first time we had to take the shower curtain down.

Another view of the shower curtain, now with flash!  I had a real crisis over whether this picture looked better with flash or without, so now you know a little about how high strung I am!


That’s it for today!  I hope to get that blasted Cambie finished soon so I can wear it and post about it.  I love the fabric I chose, but man is that dress trying to kill me!