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Dec 162014


Hey!  I’m back, and I have pink hair!  At some point between taking the photos for my first two Daturas and taking these ones, I used hair dye remover to get the red out of my hair, bleached it a second time in hopes of getting it to be platinum, and then realized I would probably never have hair that was both healthy and platinum.  Instead of attempting a third bleach (not right away, mind you!  Double-bleaching without rest time in between is a great way to fry your hair), I decided to just dye over the yellowy orange post-bleaching color with pink.

Oh, hey, that’s also a new skirt!  It’s Simplicity 2152, which is out of print.  I decided that I had to have this specific skirt and no other would do, so I had to buy it from sewingpatterns.com, which is an AWFUL company.  They don’t actually give you a pdf of the pattern; you have to download this weird pattern viewer software that doesn’t work half the time and print your pattern from there, and they only give you like three prints.  HELLO, HAVE YOU HEARD OF A COPY MACHINE?  If I really wanted to make more than one copy of this, I could easily just take my printout and copy it.  But who on earth wants to do that?  And who on earth has done that?  I feel like the sewing community is pretty honest.  I’ve never heard of anyone attempting to get away with using someone else’s pdf pattern rather than buying their own.  Independent pattern companies make lots of money by only selling pdf patterns, and they don’t use weird, buggy, obtrusive software, so I feel like sewingpatterns.com needs to calm down.  I honestly don’t remember what I did to get the software to actually work for me eventually aside from screaming profanity at it.  I was worried it wouldn’t ever work based on some comments on Pattern Review, but it did work for me.  You can’t really see the detail here, but the skirt is paneled and has pockets on the front.  It’s made out of denim I bought at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL.  It’s a very strange denim – it’s white on the other side and is very stiff, though it’s not a heavy weight.  Unfortunately, I think I ruined the fabric by using too big of a needle on it.  I thought denim = huge needle, but I soon realized from the way my sewing machine sounded that it wasn’t necessary, so I switched to a smaller needle.  The places where I used the larger needle are fraying now!  I guess the large needle really just made holes in the fabric.  Also, this skirt looks sort of crappy now because the denim got these stress marks on it the first time I washed it, so it has these whitish spots that make it look old and ratty.  I want to remake the skirt with different fabric, because I just don’t care for the weird stiffness, even aside from all the problems.


I guess there was something really interesting on the floor to the left of me that day.

So that’s the skirt – what about the shirt?  This is the first Datura I made with a collar.  My next one also has a collar, but it’s a print collar on a solid fabric.  I really love this shirt – the fabric is quilting cotton from Joel Dewberry’s Heirloom line, and I love the green color and the pattern.  I was originally going to put a grey collar on this, but then I had a vision of this scrap of navy blue fabric left over from a doorway puppet theater I made for my nephews a few years ago.  I searched high and low for this scrap that I knew existed, and when I finally found it, it was a lot smaller than I remembered, and I could only just fit the pattern pieces for the collar on it.  Serendipity!  I sewed the collar with smaller seam allowances because, silly me, I kept thinking that if I used the full seam allowances, the connection between the two halves of the collar wouldn’t even be visible anymore!  Well, yeah, it’s not supposed to be!  The idea of any real collar is that you have two halves of a shirt that you’re buttoning together, meaning that the collar pieces are separate and don’t connect in the center.  So if you’re making a mock collar, you wouldn’t want the two pieces to be visibly connected.  I guess unless you’re me.  For whatever reason, I was convinced that the two pieces should visibly connect.  So that’s what I have here, and I don’t hate it.


Oh, hey look at that!  Pink hair!  Well, it was pink before, but there’s pink and then there’s pink, you know?  I like this color.  I’ve moved on to something else, but this was a good one.  I wasn’t sure I’d like pink hair on myself, but I really do.  I thought the lighter pink might make me look jaundiced because my skin tone is pretty yellow, but I don’t think it looked bad at all.  And I really love this richer, more jewel-toned pink.


I really wanted to make a solid Datura with an accent collar, and I have almost no solid fabric, so I dug out this piece of fabric, which I got to use as a bag lining back when I thought I was going to make tons of bags.  It’s the same as the teal fabric on my first Datura.  As soon as I decided on this fabric, I knew I wanted to make the collar out of this awesome floral fabric that I used in a quilt a few years ago.  Yes, I’ve made a quilt.  It’s just a little lap quilt, but I made the whole thing myself, including some really terrible free-motion quilting.  I’ve had a second quilt top and back pieced for like two years now and I’m too lazy to start quilting it.  Soon, I hope!  Anyway, this is an Art Gallery print by Pat Bravo, I think.  I love love love it.  I’ve always been sad that I used it to make a quilt instead of something to wear, so I’m glad I shoehorned it into a garment finally.  And bonus for using a scrap!


This scarf is one of my absolute favorites.  I think my mom got it for me at Talbot’s a few years ago.  You can’t tell in this picture, but it has sparkly threads woven through parts of it.  So pretty!  I can wear this if I don’t want the collar to show.


I haven’t shown you the buttons on any of my other Daturas because I’m too lazy to take pictures of them, but for this one I went with green.  Green doesn’t really match anything on the shirt, but they were the right size.  I don’t have enough smaller buttons!  These are from a boatload of buttons I bought back when I was making cards.  Buttons used to be (maybe still are?) a really popular decoration for cards.  I’m really glad I bought all those buttons now that I’m sewing!


There’s that pink!  I’ve moved on to a new color, but I really liked this one while it lasted!  I had it for like a month and a half I think and it never faded!  The brand of dye I used is amazing – it’s Pravana Chromasilk Vivids.  I did a ton of research to find a dye that wouldn’t just wash out immediately, and this is what I came up with.  I can confirm that it’s ridiculously long-lasting.  In fact, it’s impossible to get out.  I shampooed with the harshest shampoos I could find in hopes of fading it enough to dye teal over it, but no dice.  You can’t bleach it out, apparently (it drives the color into your hair shaft because bleaching opens up your hair cuticle), and hair dye remover doesn’t work on direct dyes.  Since teal wouldn’t end up looking teal over pink, I just went with another color that would cover pink well.

That’s it for today.  On Friday, I’m having my tonsils out, but I hope I’ll be feeling well enough to do a post about the suit I made before too long.  We’ll see!


Nov 092014

Wow, so it’s been 2 whole months since I last posted!  This semester is totally kicking my butt.  I’m teaching two classes, which isn’t a ton, but they’re both a lot of work.  I feel like I’ve been grading and commenting on papers constantly.  But what’s really eating up all my time is searching for a job.  When you’re looking for a job as an English professor, you look at listings in the fall starting in September, then you apply to everything you possibly can in hopes of getting an interview at the major convention in my field, which happens in early January.  If you’re lucky enough to get one of those and it goes well, you’ll get invited to visit the school’s campus, where you’ll give a talk based off a chapter from your dissertation, meet with a bunch of professors, administrators, and possibly students, and maybe also do a teaching demonstration.  In my department, it’s traditional for people who are on the job market to do a practice version of the talk they would give at the much hoped-for campus visit.  Mine is next Friday.  So in addition to just applying to places (which took a ton of prep time getting all my materials together before the jobs were even listed), I’m preparing this talk.  I feel like I’ve never worked this much before in grad school, and I haven’t even had time to work on my dissertation.  I’m just constantly grading, reading, commenting, revising application letters, researching schools so I can tailor my application letters to be relevant to what they’re doing, etc, etc.

I haven’t had a ton of time for sewing, and I’ve also mostly been too exhausted to even want to sew.  I really wanted to make a winter coat this year, but that isn’t happening, so I went and bought one last week.  I had cut out a muslin of the Deer and Doe Pavot, which is what I wanted to use, but I had some problems right away, possibly because all my stress-eating has put me in a larger size, so I just abandoned it.  I made a skirt for a suit, though, and I’m working on the jacket for it right now in hopes of being able to wear it next Friday.  The jacket fits well so far, but I haven’t put the sleeves on it yet.  I’m a little nervous about how that will affect the fit at the shoulder/armhole because that’s usually a problem area for me with RTW jackets.

What I’m blogging about today, though, is two Deer and Doe Daturas.  I have two more, but I’m saving them for another post.  I started making these way back in the summer for the One Week One Pattern challenge, if you can believe that.  I didn’t get all four done in time, but I did take a bunch of photos with different looks just because I thought the idea was fun.  I’m kind of terrible at sewing for challenges or sewalongs.  When I feel like I’m forced to do something, I don’t want to do it anymore.  The minute I commit to doing some challenge, I all of a sudden get an urge to sew something totally different and then start to hate the challenge project.  I was a little fatigued with Daturas by the time I finished the fourth one, but I really needed some tops and I like the details on this pattern.  It’s a lot easier to make a pile of clothes when you’re using the same pattern!


That’s actually the second one I made, and it’s made of green linen I bought from Emma One Sock.  It’s a very nice linen – soft and drapey.  I have a RTW linen dress that’s kind of stiff and weird, so I was pleased with the quality of this linen.  I have this love/hate relationship with linen – I love how it feels and I love how it looks when it has a few classy wrinkles like you might see in a catalog.  I hate how it ends up looking on me after I’ve been sitting in my usual contorted positions all day.  For that reason, I haven’t bought a ton of linen, but I want to buy more blends.  This Belladone is made from a linen/cotton blend, and by some strange property of hybridity, it wrinkles less than either fabric would on its own.  Magic!

Linen is pretty ok to sew with, though this one was raveling like crazy.  It is not at all good for making bias tape, though, so that part was frustrating.  It kept sort of warping as I was pressing it, and I thought it was going to drive me crazy.  After I finished this top, I realized that it reminded me a little of Kermit the Frog because of the color and the triangles at the neckline.  That’s okay, though – I like Kermit!  In the photo above, I’m wearing it with one of my cheap maxi skirts I bought at Target after I fell while running this summer and got a huge gaping wound on my leg.  I think I might hack that one off to wear with tights during winter, but it all depends on my motivation to do anything after this practice job talk.  So, linen + maxi skirt = summery look.


This one is a fall look, obvs.  I really love pink and purple and green together, so that explains what’s going on here.  It might be kind of hard to tell that the cardigan is purple, but it is.  I know you all want to know where my pink polka dot scarf is from.  It’s from Target and it’s one of my most very favoritest scarves ever.  I have quite a few, but I seem to only ever wear this one and another one that will feature prominently in my next Datura post.  Remember how I mentioned in the Belladone post referenced above that I thought I couldn’t wear belts?  Well, for a long time I thought I couldn’t wear scarves.  My neck, like every other part of me, is really short, and I thought maybe only people with long, elegant necks should be wearing scarves.  But then I realized that people who want to wear scarves are the ones who should be wearing scarves.  And my life improved a lot because scarves are awesome.  Especially when they have pink polka dots.


Next up, the first Datura I made.  This one is made out of some quilting cotton from Rashida Coleman Hale’s Koi line that I actually bought to make a bag.  The accent fabric, which you might be able to tell has a strange sort of sheen, is also fabric I bought to make a bag, but not the same bag.  I had this brilliant idea for a line of bags made from wool felt with cutouts that exposed bright colors like this one underneath, and with thread sketching around the cutouts.  I still maintain that those would be awesome bags, and I still have the bolt of wool felt and yards of brightly colored fabric, but I no longer have any interest in employing myself as a bag factory worker.  I don’t know what I’ll do with the wool felt, but this turquoise-ish fabric went pretty well with the Koi fabric, so I was able to stashbust some of it.  I don’t really know what it is.  I thought it was cotton broadcloth from Joann’s, but it definitely has some poly content based on how it behaved and the sheen it has.


I had the brilliant idea to pair this split-back shirt with this skirt that has a lace accent.  But I soon realized it was too much party in the back.  I am not at all into the way the split in the shirt leads into the skirt accent.  But I thought you might enjoy seeing my wacky ensemble.  I did not make that skirt, though I have taken it almost completely apart and resewn it.  This skirt was handmade by this woman who used to sell skirts in a local boutique sort of place (the word boutique seems so silly to me, but I think that’s what they called themselves?).  These skirts were not cheap.  But this woman did not finish her seams beyond pinking them, and the seams shredded, so I had to fix it.  I also have a skirt from her with a beautiful appliqued accent that looks all wavy because it wasn’t properly interfaced.  And I had another one that had these circle cutouts appliqued, but they were just pinked and then sewn on with a straight stitch rather than zig-zagged at the edges, so they also shredded and started to fall off.  Good ideas, poor execution.  And high prices.  As soon as I learned how to sew, I stopped buying skirts from her.  I also did some surgery on this skirt when I lost some weight last year.  I like the lace feature, so I wanted to salvage it instead of donating it.  But I think we can all agree that it shouldn’t be worn with this top!

That’s it for today.  I hope to be back soon with my other two Daturas.  The pictures are taken and part of the post is drafted, so hopefully it won’t be too long before I can finish it up.  When I do, you’ll see two new hair colors, and neither of them will even be the color my hair is right now.  Coloring hair is fun.  I’m off for now to continue working on this talk!





Apr 042014

Wow, it’s again been a month since my last post!  I’m just so busy writing this dissertation that I don’t have time for much else.  I haven’t even been sewing much for myself.  I’ve made some cushions for an architect friend’s clients, some unpaper towels for my sister-in-law, and a dress for a friend’s little girl, but nothing for myself.  This week I began working on my Victory Patterns Anouk muslin, which I had cut out in the fall but never sewed up.  I got all the fit issues worked out last night and I hope to get the real version (I almost typed final draft – too much dissertating!) done in time for a sewing meetup on Sunday with some local Chicago bloggers.  I always get inspired to make something new when I have big events coming up, despite the fact that big events = people I don’t see often or I’m seeing for the first time, which means whatever I wear, it’s likely new to them.  But whatever gets me back at the sewing machine is A-ok with me!  I also downloaded the Bluegingerdoll Winifred dress pattern and began taping it together.  When I got sick of doing that, I thought maybe I’d finally get my act together and write a blog post.

Today’s post is about a top I made and took pictures of last fall.  That’s how behind I am with blogging about my makes – so even I haven’t been sewing, I have things to write about!  I think everyone and their mom has made this shirt by now, so I’m way late to the party, but there’s a reason it’s so popular.  Jalie patterns are pretty well-fitting because they’re mostly knits, and knits are hard to screw up in the fit department.  For this one, I wanted a little more ease than what’s built into the pattern because I don’t like my knits to be clingy, so I made the two pattern pieces a little wider using my Renfrew pattern piece as a guide.  I love the way my Renfrews fit, so I figured this would be a good bet, and it was.  The only other alteration I made was to sew the center seam a little bit higher to raise the neckline to a height I was more comfortable with.  The version you see below is a sort of wearable muslin.  The fabric was really cheap from Vogue and I wasn’t super emotionally attached to it or anything, so I figured it wouldn’t be a great loss if it didn’t work out.  Luckily, it did!



One weird thing about this fabric is that it comes out of the washer looking all twisted up but when it dries it’s fine again.  I always do my best to cut things on grain because I always hated those t-shirts that twist around your body because they’re cut off grain.  I use the fold and hang method: I fold the fabric in half and then hold it up by the two corners that AREN’T at the fold, if that makes sense – so I’m holding four free corners and letting the rest of the fabric hang free.  If the bottom part, or the fold, is smooth, that means you’re on grain.  If the fabric has diagonal drag lines leading toward the bottom fold, then you’re off grain.  If you’re off grain, you adjust your corners at the top until the drag lines disappear, thus indicating that you’re now on grain.  I’ve heard about people thread-tracing along a vertical line of the knit rib, but I think that’s totally excessive unless we’re talking about a couture garment or something, and I kinda don’t think I would make myself a couture garment out of a knit fabric, so I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon.  I like the fold and hang method because it gets at what’s important about locating your grain, which is that the fabric hangs nicely.  In my mind, it’s not critically important that it be ZOMG PRECISELY ON GRAIN.  It’s important that falls from your body in a straight line and not in a twisted mess.

Ok, so that was a really long discourse on finding the grainline!  Like I’ve been saying, dissertation brain.  So I used this method on this fabric, and all seemed well.  Before I washed it, the fabric hung nicely and I suspected no problems.  But when it came out of the washer it was so twisted that it looked terrible.  This top has a front center seam, so it’s really obvious if it’s not hanging straight.  If I had put on the shirt as it was when it came out of the washer, the top of the front seam would have been at the center of my body, but the bottom of the seam would have been completely on my side.  I decided that I must have been sleep-deprived when I cut the fabric and that the shirt would be a loss.  Oh well, the fabric wasn’t that important to me anyway.  Not wanting to throw a wet shirt into the trash to molder, I let it air dry hanging on the back of a chair.  Imagine my surprise when I returned the next to see that my seams had magically migrated back to where they were supposed to be!  Very strange.  This fabric has done the same thing every single time I’ve washed it.  Anyone have any clue what this might be about?  I’ve never seen such a thing.



The skirt in these photos is a denim skirt I made last summer when I decided that I had a massive shortage of skirts.  As soon as I made a bunch, I realized I had a corresponding massive shortage of tops to wear with them, leading me to realize that what I’d started with was simply a shortage in clothes.  I lost some weight last year, so I didn’t fit in a lot of my clothes.  I’ve gained some of it back, so I think I’m going to have the same problem this summer.  Sigh.  Anyway, this skirt was one I threw together using a skirt pattern I’ve modified from a Kwik Sew pattern.  The original pattern has a center box pleat, but I’ve only made that version once.  If you just hack off the part of the pattern that corresponds to the box pleat, it’s a pretty good moderate a-line skirt.  I like the shape on me, so I’ve made it a ton of times.  I made this one super simple without a top waistband because I was trying to get it finished before leaving on a trip.


I actually hate this skirt because I didn’t realize how super stretchy the denim was when I bought it from Joann’s.  I really hate stretch denim – especially when it’s cheap stretch denim because gets baggy.  I like denim because it’s structured.  Making it stretchy defeats that purpose.  I wear the skirt occasionally, but it bugs me every time.  Below is how I usually wear this top – with a sweater and a cami underneath.  The fabric is sooo sheer that not wearing a cami is out of the question.


So that’s Jalie 2921 and a sort of crappy skirt!  I hope to report back soon with Anouk success and some thoughts on the Winifred dress, which I haven’t seen a lot in the blogosphere.  I also want to show you the dress I made for my friend’s little girl because I think it’s adorable!