Perkins Shirt by Ensemble Patterns

In the midst of the madness of buying a home in an insane market, I couldn’t help but apply as a tester for the Ensemble Patterns Perkins Shirt Dress. I was powerless to resist the siren song of this ultra hip take on a traditional button down. Its song was so strong that I made not one, but two versions.

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On occasion (who am I kidding? about 80% of the time), I blatantly ignore the recommendation to not buy or use my “good” fabric for a test. I do occasionally make up a quick and dirty muslin, but I just love using pretty fabric and have faith that if things don’t work out I’ll be able to refashion the item. This time, however, I actually had some great fabrics in my stash waiting to be used.

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During the first phase of testing, I made the basic cropped version in a black and white striped rayon challis. I purchased this fabric from Raspberry Creek Fabrics back in January and used it to line both my Joy Jacket (here) and  the sleeves of my Clare Coat (here). I had just over a yard of this fabric and was barely able to eke out all the pattern pieces. The simple stripes and drape of the rayon combine to make this top into a closet staple. The pattern’s style lines add visual interest to the top and elevate the cool factor a bit above that of a basic button down. I opted to use the wrong side of the fabric on the back yoke in order to highlight some of those style lines.

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During the second phase of testing, I made the gathered cropped version. My talented and generous friend Kim of Sweet Red Poppy had some scraps left over from making a couple of dresses last summer (see them on her blog here). She was kind enough to share them with me and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the perfect pattern pairing. The fabric is a polyester crepe from Stylish Fabrics (here). I tend to gravitate towards natural fibers, and as a result, have very little experience working with polyester. This was also my first foray into working with crepe. I was pleasantly surprised with how easy this fabric was to sew. Combining the fabric with this gathered version was a no-brainer. It gathered easily and its drape is a dream. Bonus: These photos were snapped after I’d been wearing this top for several hours during my son’s birthday party. Thanks to the polyester content, The top still looks fresh and wrinkle-free.

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Let’s talk construction. Once in a while, I come upon a construction method that is simultaneously brilliant and baffling. The “dumpling method,” as Celina referred to it, took a moment to understand, but was surprisingly simple. The instructions provided excellent detail and held my hand throughout the process. This method encloses the sleeve hem and raglan seams. This top also includes french seams along the sides for a clean-finish inside and out. Anyone with an intermediate level of skill shouldn’t have any trouble constructing this top. If you’re an adventurous beginner, however, don’t be discouraged. There’s a good chance you could have success here as well.

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I’ll leave you with a sizing note: My bust measurement put me right at a size 4 for this pattern. Based on that, I sewed a straight size 4 in both versions. My only adjustment was adding 2″ to the length.

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Now that I’ve got a yard to use as a photo background, I’m really itching to sew up some more summer basics. Realistically, I might not be doing much sewing until fall, but a girl can dream, right? What are you sewing this summer?

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Matching Loungewear: Brilliant Idea or Fashion Blunder?

Way back in August, my son decided that he wanted to be Spongebob for Halloween and requested that I dress up as Squidward. Part of me was rather proud as I was a Spongebob fan back in the day. In the sixth grade I even got a Spongebob alarm clock for Christmas (It sang the “F.U.N.” song to wake me up and was a real treasure. I’m sure my parents were delighted when it finally broke).  I had spent a few weeks puzzling on how to execute my Squidward costume until I was in Denver and Emily made this Blueprints for Sewing Geodesic Sweatshirt. The wheels in my head started turning and I came up with the idea of a matching mint colored loungewear set.

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Emily’s lovely mauve french terry inspired me to check the Raspberry Creek Fabrics Etsy shop where I found this solid dark mint french terry. I knew that I would use the Geodesic pattern because I already owned it and had been planning to make the longer version eventually (see my cropped version here). I decided to purchase the True Bias Hudson Pants pattern (here) and the two together make a perfect pair.

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I sewed up a size C/D with no alterations in the Geodesic and it all came together rather quickly. My background in quilting is what drew me to the fun geometric lines of the Geodesic and I think it made the construction a little easier as well.

When cutting and sewing the Hudsons, I made a size 10 with the only alteration being an added 4″ in length. I only needed to add 3″ to the length, but I prefer my sweats a little extra long. It probably has something to do with the fact that nearly all rtw sweats are a few inches too short for my legs. Perhaps I’m just making up for years of wearing sweats that look like I’m expecting a flood.

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While I’m satisfied with both pieces individually, I’m still not sure that I’m sold on wearing them together. They kind of remind me of the blush velour sweatsuit I owned in middle school and I’m still trying to decide whether or not that’s a good thing. The comfort level of this outfit is unreal. I have been wearing it around the house all day today. I guess the point of loungewear is actual lounging though, so I will certainly wear these together during those times. My biggest question is whether or not I would wear matching loungewear out and about during everyday activities. How do you feel about matching loungewear? Is it something you would wear? How and where would you wear it?

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Thanks for reading! I’ll leave you with a quick iPhone shot of our Halloween costumes so you can see how I incorporated these matching separates into my Squidward costume.

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True Bias Lander Pants

Today I’m thrilled to show you my True Bias Lander Pants. I was lucky enough to be one of Kelli’s testers for this pattern and couldn’t be happier with my result. These are certainly not my first pair of pants, but there’s just something about the detailing and fit that makes me feel like my sewing skills are suddenly legit. The pants feature a wide leg, button fly, front rectangular patch pockets, and a flattering high waist. There are also three length options: short, ankle, and boot length. If you haven’t already seen them, check out the pattern listing here to see Kelli’s amazing samples and how great they look on her gorgeous silver-haired model.
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I opted to make the boot length option as I plan to wear these regularly throughout the fall and winter months. Wide leg pants have been appealing to me for years, but because of my waist to hip ratio and longer legs, nice fitting ones are nearly impossible to buy off the rack. When Kelli told me she was making a pattern for wide leg pants, I jumped at the chance to test them.

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This denim pair is actually my second pair of Lander Pants. During the testing phase I made an ankle length pair using Essex Linen. The denim is a Robert Kaufman denim purchased from Imagine Gnats (find it here). The fabric is a really nice medium weight and rather comfortable as well. I wore these pants on the plane to Denver last week (more about that trip here). My plane flew out of SLC at 7:30 am so I was nervous to see how my pants would look by the end of the day. Surprisingly, they still looked great by dinner time with only minimal wrinkling from an entire day of wear.

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One of the details I love about these pants is the size of the pockets on both front and back. They’re a great design feature, but it’s their practicality that really wins my heart. One of THE worst parts of many ready to wear women’s pants are the size of the pockets. Does anyone else hate when they’re so small you can’t even fit your phone inside? I mean, what are they? Pockets for ants? I don’t even have a giant phone and I regularly have this problem when shopping for pants. Not planning on having that problem again, because I’m just going to make an array of Lander Pants for all occasions.

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I could write a few hundred more words proclaiming my love for these pants, but I’ll let the photos and the fact that I’ve been wearing them multiple times a week speak for themselves. Kelli is hosting a Lander Pant Sewalong on her blog this week. It’s sure to be filled with lots of helpful hints if you’d like some extra wisdom while making a pair. Check out her first post here.

Thanks for reading! Want to see what else I’ve made using True Bias patterns? Check out my red Lodo Dress in this post.

Photos by my lovely friend Rachel of Little Fish.

If you’ve made it this far I’ll leave you with the gem of a picture below. This is what I look like when I’m afraid that I’ll be hit by a car while “acting natural” and crossing the street. Clearly crossing the street photos will never be one of my signature poses.

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A Dress for Date Night: Lodo Dress by True Bias

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I fell in love with the Lodo Dress almost immediately after it was introduced (here) in April. I quickly purchased the pattern and ordered some fabric to make my first Lodo Dress. You can check out my first one here. I’ve gotten so much wear out of that first Lodo Dress and knew I needed another. My first dress is a bit more casual so I wanted my next one to look a bit dressier. I selected this red scuba knit from Indie Sew after seeing Allie’s blue version. The solid red was a bit of a bold choice, but I think it was the right one.

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My husband and I got the rare opportunity to go out on a date last week and I had him snap a few photos in my parents’ backyard before we left. Never thought I’d love sage brush, but I’ve started to see the beauty in it after living in Utah most of my life. The promise of a date was all the motivation needed for me to get working on my Lodo Dress. Our date was on Wednesday so naturally, I started cutting out my project on Monday. Tuesday night I sewed a few hours after bedtime and was able to complete the dress. There’s just something satisfying about finishing a project that is both quick and stylish. It never gets old and I see another Lodo or two in my future.

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This was my first time working with scuba and I was a bit nervous to use a new fabric. It was surprisingly easy. The only difficulty I had was when sewing the back slit. The fabric shifted a bit more than expected, so my stitching isn’t quite as perfect as I’d like. It is, however, such a small imperfection that I decided it was not worth the time it would take to fix it. I made one small modification to the instructions and sewed bar tacks at the top of the back slit and at the underarms. Hoping that the bar tacks will further secure the seams in areas where they’ll experience the most strain. So far, so good.

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My red scuba Lodo Dress turned out to be the perfect date night dress. It’s stylish enough for a night out, but simple enough to wear to the local dive. This dress feels like wearing a light, soft sponge. It’s also got plenty of room for indulging in the large amounts of food I  may or may not consume. What I’m trying to tell you is that it checks all boxes for an essential date night dress. Do you have anything specific you love wearing for date night? What do you require in clothing for a night out?

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Just a quick note on sizing: My dress is a size 2 graded to a 4 in the hips. I made the midi length and added just 1″ to the length.

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Tea House Dress by Sew House Seven

It’s not often that my husband and I can both agree that a dress is stylish AND flattering. My Tea House Dress, however, is one on which we can both agree.  My style tends to gravitate towards dresses that are cool, flowy, and functional (aka: muumuus). This pattern by Sew House Seven piqued my interest from the first time I saw it.
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A few weeks ago, I attended a dinner with bunch of sewing friends and bloggers. I need deadlines to keep me motivated; so I used the dinner as my deadline for my Tea House Dress. The dinner was to be held on a Monday evening. Naturally, this meant that I started tracing the pattern and cutting my fabric on Friday. It came together pretty quickly and I managed to finish it by sewing for a couple of hours each night of the weekend. I finished the hem and gave it a final press just hours before the dinner. That dinner was two weeks ago. I’ve already worn this dress four times since that evening.

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The Tea House Dress includes a few style details that caught my eye and inspired me to purchase the pattern. First, I love a good v-neckline. It’s low enough to be flattering, but high enough to keep from flashing innocent bystanders when I lean over. Second, The seaming of the yoke and front panels add interest and shaping to an otherwise simple slight a-line shape. Third, the wide waist ties define the waist while also allowing for occasional adjustment (i.e. ate too much ice cream). Fourth, the midi length is perfect for keeping cool in the summer without requiring me to shave up above my knees. Fifth, the pockets are the perfect size for holding my phone and keys. They’re also just a nice feature when I’m feeling awkward and don’t know what to do with my hands.

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I used a double gauze print from the Charms line designed by Ellen Luckett Baker for Kokka. Since this double gauze is 100% cotton it’s both breathable and comfortable. I love wearing double gauze in the summer as it tends to look a bit more casual than a rayon or lawn, but is every bit as comfortable. I had nearly a yard less fabric than the pattern recommended so I had to get a bit creative when it came to laying out and cutting each pattern piece. It was doable, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

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The pullover style of the Tea House Dress appeals to my no fuss style of getting dressed. I plan to make another one for a family member who sometimes has difficulty with fiddly closures. I’m also planning to make a second one for myself as soon as I find a few extra hours in the day.

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Just a quick note about sizing: I sewed up and straight four with the only alteration being that I added two inches of length at the hem. This is a common adjustment for me and I found no issues with the sizing.

 

A Weekend Retreat and My Driftless Cardigan

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Way back in October of last year, I purchased this gray jersey knit from Suppose and cut out my Driftless Cardigan (find the pattern here). I was clearly getting ahead of myself because I had approximately one billion other deadlines at the time. April came around and I thought to myself, “Life has finally slowed down, I can now finish all of those other projects that I started last fall.” I was wrong. My husband ended up applying for and accepting an amazing new job which meant life was about to get crazy again.

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Meanwhile, I attended a blogger meet up in SLC and Sara and I came up with the idea for a small weekend sewing retreat. I spent the next few weeks stressing about my upcoming move and finally decided to pull the trigger on planning a retreat. This mama needed a break. Sara and I set a date, I got permission to use the family cabin, and we began counting the days.

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The weekend finally arrived and it turned out to be both rejuvenating and productive. My sewing weekend goal was finishing a pile of unfinished projects so that they would no longer clutter my sewing area. Each of my projects were only a few steps away from completion, but had been sitting unfinished for months. Sewing for an entire weekend allowed me to complete a couple of baby quilts, a quilted pillow cover, two simple baby dresses, and my Driftless Cardigan.

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While setting aside time to actually sew this took months; the actual time it took to sew this cardigan was roughly 3 hours. One of those hours was used to hand stitch the neckband. I have loved Grainline Studio patterns for years because of the clean lines and well-executed details. The Driftless Cardigan is a great example of this with its hidden pockets and optional split bottom band. This was completed a month ago and it’s gotten quite a bit of use despite the blazing summer temperatures. It’s perfect for an extra layer at the movie theater (ours is always freezing) or for wearing on chilly evenings.

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A quick note on sizing: I sewed up a size 4 and added 2.5 inches to the length at the lengthen/shorten line. I also added about 1.5 inches to the sleeve length because I like my sleeves extra long.

Special thanks goes to Kim of Sweet Red Poppy for taking these lovely photos.

Jumpy by Ready to Sew

I’ve never been one to shy away from patterned pants or quirky details. Just ask the middle school girls who giggled when I showed up to school wearing cheetah print pants. With the tie front detail and bold 1″ gingham print these pants definitely make a statement. The pattern used for these pants is the Jumpy pants and shorts pattern by Ready to Sew. Find it here. Fabric used is Checkers fabric by Cotton and Steel. My top is a Grainline Studio Scout Tee made in rayon designed by Rifle Paper Co. for Cotton and Steel. Both fabrics were purchased from Suppose.
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Today I’d like to take little time to tell you about my style motto and a little story about how I developed it. I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t making somewhat bold or different fashion choices. I’ve always been drawn to prints and unique details, but I didn’t always wear them because I was fearful of what others may think or say. After hearing criticism about my style in middle school, I was fearful of being an outcast if I didn’t dress like everyone else. In 9th grade, I started regularly wearing the same American Eagle or Hollister jeans and tees that everyone else wore. I still had some bold things in my wardrobe, I just wore them more sparingly.

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The summer before I was to start 10th grade, my family moved from the tiny town of Spencer, Iowa to the slightly larger town of Brigham City, Utah. I was resistant to the move at first, but decided this was the time to become exactly who I wanted to be. My style motto became, ” Wear what makes you happy and to hell with what anyone else thinks.” I was going to be myself here from the very beginning. For most of my 10th and 11th grade years I did a decent job at wearing what brought me joy and dressing for myself vs. dressing for others.

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In the spring of my 11th grade year I purchased a pair of railroad stripe overall shorts which my then boyfriend (now husband) lovingly referred to as my train conductor overalls. I was ridiculously proud of those things and often wore them with a crisp white button up, navy or white tights/leggings, and heels. After wearing them three or four times, I overheard that some girls had been talking about crazy overall outfit and how silly it looked. At the time, I allowed their comments to get into my head. I stopped wearing those overalls for nearly a year.

Fast forward to the next spring, I was out playing four-square at lunch (believe me it was the cool thing to do in my high school) when my classmate Laney remarked that she liked how I used to style my overalls and asked why I never wore them anymore. I made up some lame excuse about weather, but this got me thinking. That night I went home and pulled my overall shorts out of my closet. I put them on, looked in the mirror, and asked myself why I had stopped wearing them. Did they fit? yes. Did wearing them bring me joy? yes. Did I care what other people thought about them? Kind of, sort of, maybe too much. The next day, I wore the heck out of those overalls and you know what? Some people gave me weird looks and others said nice things. I appreciated the nice things, but the thing I really remember about that day is how liberated I felt wearing something that I loved.

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The moral of my story? Be you. Wear what brings you joy whether it’s jeans, sweatpants, cocoon dresses, gingham pants, wild jumpsuits, all black, or train conductor overalls. Every morning when I get dressed I try my best to dress for myself, not for my friends, family, or strangers that I may encounter (although I do kind of dress for others because nudity isn’t quite socially acceptable). I’m not perfect in sticking to my “to hell with what others may think” style motto, but it does bring me infinitely more confidence and joy when I do.

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Thanks for sticking with me through that novel. A few quick notes on the sizing and pattern. I sewed up a size 38 and found the sizing to be just about spot on based on my measurements. The only adjustment I made was adding 2″ to the length. If I made the pattern again I think that I would add 1/2″ to 1″ to the rise so that the pants would sit just a bit higher above my hips. The construction of these pants is fairly simple and easy enough for a confident beginner to tackle. The only thing that might be difficult for a beginner is understanding the instructions. They are fairly clear, but are not as heavily detailed with illustrations as many other indie patterns. I’d compare the amount of instructions and illustrations to something you may find in a Simplicity or McCall’s pattern. Overall, I’m pretty happy with these bold pants and plan to make the pattern again with a few modifications.