Spring break week successes - baking and patterns!

3.27.2014

It's hard to believe, but it's spring break already for much of the world and things have felt lighter and more relaxed because of it! We're taking today and tomorrow off and headed up to beautiful Port Angeles, Washington to visit family and have lots of relaxing, reading, Liverpool Rummy-playing, and nature-enjoying planned.

Trying new recipes!


But already the week has been off to a pretty low-stress start. As I Instagrammed Sunday, I made the first pancakes I've made since 2008 or 2009 and was so impressed with this simple grain-free recipe - all it is is banana, egg, almond butter, and a little cinnamon (and I added a tiny bit of baking powder and vanilla, because, why not?). The kitchen was filled with that warm, slightly sweet pancake-ey smell, and husband and I delighted in fluffy, buttery, maple syrup-ey brunch treats.
My IG

I also made a special treat Saturday when we had friends over - delicious, rich, dark chocolate sunflower butter brownies. Grain-free, all basic, real food ingredients, so simple - I even made my own sunbutter first (like I did in this post for this recipe) and just made the whole thing in the food processor. I made the Elana's Pantry recipe except I added a couple tablespoons of coconut oil to make them richer and smoother. Oh, and I didn't have chocolate chips or chunks so I whipped up some coconut cream whipped cream (coconut cream + sweetener - I used coconut palm sugar, hence the tan color).

They were so good, you guys. SO good. Still have a couple left in the fridge and I really enjoyed one after a particularly taxing kettlebell class Tuesday night. The perfect non-dry chocolatiness. A must-try!!


I've also been tasked with making the dessert for our family trip up to Port Angeles this weekend. At Christmas I made this incredible flourless chocolate cake and it was a big hit, but I think I want to try something new this time!

Patterns!


One more thing to share that's making me happy this week - I've recently been introduced to Figgy's, a seriously beautiful pattern line by a fellow Portlander, Shelly. She has two boys but has designed so many lovely patterns for little girls (and some for boys!) and I'm so excited for her to brand out into more teen/adult patterns. She's offering Adventures in Dressmaking readers 20% off any Figgy's patterns this week only - March 27 through April 2! Just enter code DRESS20 at checkout!

Such stylish children! I love it!


These combined with my recent knit-sewing experiences have got me really wishing for some more pretty stripes for spring! And some nice solids, like chambray... excited to have summery sewing projects coming up!

Hope you're enjoying the low stress and fun of spring break, too!

How to Wear DIY: the tribal print top and summery accessories, for spring

3.26.2014

This is a tough time of year to wear most of my DIY creations - I'm not quite ready to walk around with bare legs and summery dresses (although I was craving a floral skirt this weekend! ;)), but I do like adding something special to my typical jeans-and-grey-tee weekend uniform. So this last weekend I pulled out this DIY tribal print top I made with the homemade stamp and, in the interest of doing something different, paired it with a white linen skirt (gasp! summery!) and sunnies and hat. It was so warm and sunny, I was just itching to wear something fresh even on errands! Trust me, it is more fun to walk around Whole Foods in a skirt. ;)

The big difference between this and this top in a summer skirt outfit is A) the Converse instead of sandals or wedges, and B) the Easter plants and bright Easter-ey colors on display instead of berries or tomatoes or something. Gosh, those colors are bright.

Hat and sunglasses: F21. Necklace: World Market! Belt, skirt: Vintage, thrifted. 
Shoes: Converse. Bag: Old Navy. Tee: DIY, here!

Here's to warm weather and wearing last summer's DIYs!

The Out and About Dress - my first try and the perfect simple knit!

3.24.2014

A new dress to share today, and a truly impressive PDF pattern from a fellow blogger and friend, Caroline of Sew Caroline! She has adorable DIY creations up on her blog and is so sweet - has been a reader of this blog for a while, too! We go way back. ;) So so cool that she has a pattern line going, and I love the basic Out and About Dress--so wearable and fun, a really great starter project or simple quickie for someone like me to put together in a couple hours. No darts, no zipper, knit so easy neck binding and hemming... a joy to sew!!

I got to tryout the Out and About Dress pattern as part of the tour this week! I made it with this charcoal grey sweater knit, with my walking foot and a ball point needle. This was the first dress of this construction method I've ever made--since there's no closure at the center back or anything, you gather the front and back skirt pieces separately and attach them to the front and back bodice pieces first. Then sew the shoulder seam; then add the sleeve pieces (before you sew them together as sleeves) - definitely different than a tailored dress construction, but easier, and still turns out a great fit!

Here it is!

(Another grey knit! Can you tell I'm into them recently? Really getting more experience working with knits and loving the comfy basics like grey heather.)

So perfect that recently I got a Sewing Circle question from a reader about how to make this Madewell dress (the Sweatshirt Dress, now sold out). The Out and About pattern would be perfect for that, with some modifications! Shorter sleeves, higher neck in the front, pleated skirt rather than gathered. Hope someone tries that out!!

I did deviate from the pattern in that I didn't use the pattern pieces for the skirt at all; I did my usual rectangles-the-width-of-the-fabric-and-the-approximate-length method, which usually works great, but in this case my fabric was WAY too wide for this little knit waist, and I ended up with very dense gathers and a very full skirt. And, the knit was uneven so I had to cut quite a few inches off all the way around once it was attached to the waist, and as you can see, it's a little on the short (and full) side. OOPS. Guess I should have followed the pattern more closely... ;) Next time!

The full skirt is good for twirling, though ;)

At the end of the instructions, Caroline says,
"YOU’RE FINISHED! CONGRATULATIONS! Wasn’t that fun? Now, who wants to make another?!"

and it's so true! It was fun! I'm definitely ready to make another!! There are endless variations, so many opportunities! Such a fun basic pattern!

I'm sure there are more variations happening as we speak. The Out and About Dress pattern tour is happening this week!

3/24/2014
Adventures in Dressmaking
Four Square Walls

3/25/2014
Alida Makes
Paisley Roots

3/26/2014
Lexi Made
True Bias

3/27/2014
Sewing Like Mad
A Golden Afternoon

3/28/2014
Llady Bird
House of Pinheiro

Thanks for the chance to review, Caroline!

My first DIY knit top in years! From the Pattern Anthology... Just Add Jeans!

3.20.2014

I mentioned recently that I've been having a lot of fun with PDF patterns from independent designers. This top is another one!!

I put on my walking foot for this fun top, a grey and black knit and a super simple and comfy tee (the  Day Tripper pattern from the Pattern Anthology sale - proud to be on the tour introducing the patterns as part of the Just Add Jeans series!)...

I like the high-low hem! I wasn't sure how it would work with the straight grain knit band at the bottom, but it was easy to ease around the curves in the front and back.

Comfy!

The lovely knit was generously provided from Girl Charlee--they have so much great stuff! I got several cuts, will have to try them all soon!

The Day Tripper pattern is part of the Pattern Anthology tour, their 4th pattern collection, Just Add Jeans - four cute easy knit top patterns. It's for sale from March 10th-24th, and all these patterns are original to the Pattern Anthology, designed by the very talented ladies behind it, for this sale at the steeply discounted tour price (after March 24th the patterns will be for sale individually). I am so impressed by all the work that goes into putting together these patterns. I can't imagine all the testing and sewing, not to mention digital work and of course promotion! Serious kudos!


The pattern tour for the Just Add Jeans knit top series includes these 15 incredible sewing bloggers. I am so flattered to be on this list!

March 10th: Tour introduction on See Kate Sew, The Train To Crazy, Shwin & Shwin, Melly Sews and Go To Sew
March 11th: Stef - The Girl Inspired
March 12th: Delia - Delia Creates
March 13th: Merrick - Merrick's Art
March 14th: Julia - Julia Bobbin
March 17th: Liz - Cotton and Curls
March 18th: Katy - No Big Dill
March 19th: Caroline - Sew Caroline
March 20th: Suzannah - Adventures in Dressmaking (hi!)
March 21st: Jessica - Craftiness is Not Optional
March 22nd: Dixie - DixieDIY

It's great to be getting more comfortable sewing on knits. I've been using a walking foot and a long, narrow zigzag, since I don't have a serger. I don't make a lot of knit tops for myself, but this one was so fast and fun and easy, I may have to start!

How about you? Sew on knits much?

How to Wear DIY: The navy & lace dress to the first wedding of the year

3.17.2014

I had a lovely and creative weekend this past weekend, restful and fun/activity-filled at the same time. Feeling lots of creative energy! My weekend included relaxing time with French press coffees, a little sewing, working out in our neighborhood and then again in the weight room, seeing friends and chatting about goals and photography, discovering this lovely BBC cooking show and watching lots of charming Delicious Miss Dahl videos like this one, and attending a very fun wedding, the first of 2014!, in this dress I made earlier this year.

Phew! I really took advantage of this weekend to the max!

Here I am in the 60-something degree weather (!!) on Saturday at a pretty historic inn on the Columbia River. Couldn't have asked for better weather, and I loved the venue if nothing else because there were llamas and a windmill and the old red barn was very cool.

Handy to have a cardi that 
Sweater: Old Navy. Necklace: F21. Belt: Charlotte Russe. Shoes: Guess via Marshall's. Dress: DIY, here!

I've worn this outfit twice now, actually!, as you may have seen on Instagram (here and here), and I guess I didn't realize I'd have so many opportunities to wear a sort-of fancy dress already this year. I'd better start thinking about other slightly formal dresses for the weddings of the summer, and hopefully more parties to go to this spring!

How to Wear DIY: The gold flapper-inspired dress and the greatest photo booth!

3.14.2014

It was soooo fun making a 20's-inspired party dress for my company winter party last weekend. You may have been following along, I've mentioned it several times but now the party has finally happened!

I shared some glam decor and dress inspirations for a fancy 1920's/Great Gatbsy-themed party back in January; then the snow delayed us and the party was postponed (so I was able to procrastinate). Then I shared my modern, costume version of a flapper/20's party dress, and I dressed it up with accessories and more over the weekend!

We had a great photo booth setup at the party (yours truly was on the photo subcommitee of the winter party committee, thankyouverymuch ;) ), and we got some great shots there! (You may have seen my test shot on Instagram!)

Here we are in the "booth"! (I got husband's tux at the Mr. Formal Clearance Center in inner SE Portland, for a serious steal. They have a huge selection of nice quality formalwear rentals for sale, so perfect for this event!)

With our Probibition-era seriousness faces on...

And a little silly.

We had some great props! Oh, and it was SO cool how almost everyone, almost all of the 180 guests, got totally into the theme and dressed up.


I was so glad I had my self-made dress and cobbled-together accessories! Piled on the (real and fake) pearls, and borrowed long gloves and a vintage 50's fur from my mom's costume collection. Unfortunately didn't get a chance to take any pictures at the event other than the photo booth ones, so here I am at midnight after a long, fun night of company party-ing!

That's a How to Wear DIY, for sure! So fun to have something I made myself!

Playing with peplum waistlines, and a cheery new top by Victory Patterns - from the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1

3.12.2014

I got a chance to try out several very cool independent pattern brands recently as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel tour, and I chose first the pretty Ava top (or dress) from Victory Patterns! Because who doesn't love a good peplum top?

I'm a big fan of the peplum sewing project - a lot like sewing a dress, but takes less fabric and is more versatile to wear when it's done! As you'll see in my previous peplum variations, I normally do natural waisted shapes. But the past couple years I've seen some lovely drop-waisted and higher-waisted ones as well, which are a little more casual so even easier to wear! 

Like this fresh take on a floral peplum top...
Source
Anthro, of course. Anthropologie has always had the best selection of super fun embellished and print tops that practically make an outfit by themselves, so it's no surprise that they have quite a few interesting new (to me) peplum shapes. High, low...
Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

So when I got a chance to try out one of the patterns in Perfect Pattern Parcel #1, I definitely wanted to do the Ava dress/top by Victory Patterns. Three versions, all very cute, but the peplum version (sleeveless, this time) was perfect for me to try out!

I've seen the Ava pattern around many times, but never tried any of Victory Patterns' patterns, so it was quite a treat to download the PDF, enjoy the cute graphics, print out the sheets, tape them together while watching New Girl, and cut out my top.

I used some shimmery grey cotton my mom got by the bolt and gave me some of. It's lightweight and has a texture woven in, too--I like the added interest while still a versatile basic. I think this top would totally work with a dark or white jean jacket and bib necklace!

I love the simplicity of the pattern (no lining, just a few pieces in the version I made) and the hidden side zipper rather than center back. I think next time I use it I'll make a different size - the one I cut out was too big so I had to take in the side seams and add a center back dart, but the straps are still a little wider than might be cutest, and those are harder to change.

The  Perfect Pattern Parcel project is a new way to buy patterns from independent pattern designers while supporting them and a worthy charity! As the founders put it...
Put together two entrepreneurial makers driven by their internal voices and one self-taught hacker with an "if you build it, they will come" mentality, and Perfect Pattern Parcel was born. We are passionate about supporting independent designers in their craft and fostering a community of makers to grow. Our mission is to offer high-quality PDF sewing patterns written by indie designers while supporting children's education.
The patterns sold in the  Perfect Pattern Parcel support Donors Choose, an organization that matches up the needs of teachers and their students for specific projects with willing donors.

The patterns for sale in each parcel are made by independent designers and bloggers like many of our friends out there!

Independent designers create patterns that are innovative, imaginative and in line with current style trends. Their patterns encompass a broad range of sizes and fabulous “out of the envelope” fit because they're thoroughly tested by real people. With detailed and well-explained instructions, these patterns often teach as you sew. Independent designers are approachable, providing support, suggestions, publishing additions to your favorite designs, and hosting interactive sewing events. When we are patrons of indie designers, we are supporting small, mostly women owned, businesses. We are developing the community around us. We are helping to making dream come true.

Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 is the first of these group sales packages, and just launched last week. The patterns in Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 are:



And there are SO many fab bloggers participating in this trial to show you all about Perfect Pattern Parcel:
One Little Minute
Seamstress Erin Designs 
One Girl Circus 
casa crafty 
the quirky peach 
Kadiddlehopper 
Sew Caroline 
Groovy baby and mama 
Fishsticks Designs 
the Brodrick blog 
very purple person 
sew a straight line 
Adventures in Dressmaking (hi!)
true bias 
Idle Fancy 
La Pantigana 
Crafterhours 
Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts 
Max California 
YoSaMi 
la inglesita 
Diary of a Chainstitcher 
four square walls 
Lauren Dahl 
Sewbon 
mingo & grace 
Dandelion Drift 
VeryShannon 
Sanae Ishida 
buzzmills 
Sew Jereli Figgy's 
Froo & Boo 
a happy stitch 
Disaster in a Dress 
Things for Boys 
mama says sew 
sew Amy sew 
Sew Busy Lizzy 
Made With Moxie 
imagine gnats

There's also a great giveaway as part of this tour, more than $200 in fabric shop gift certificates (woohoo!!!), up on the Perfect Pattern Parcel Facebook page, so head on over there to win some fabric to use with your new patterns! ;)

Phew, that was a packed post! Have you tried a different waistline on a peplum top? Do you have more experience than I do with PDF patterns? ;) Any tips??

Easy DIY leather camera strap tutorial and Leather Hide Store giveaway

3.10.2014

My first attempt at sewing on leather, and I'm so happy with it!! I was intimidated, but now I'm sold--real leather is wonderful to work with, and creates a really nice end product--I look forward to using it more in the future!

Leather Hide Store has been doing some fabulous blog collabs lately and there have been some very cool tutorials with their stuff (see some on their Facebook page)--and I'm so glad they reached out to me to send me my choice of one of their leather pieces, and the first thing I thought to make was this camera strap!

Turns out with just a few special tools, sewing on leather isn't hard at all, and this strap is just my kind of project! Simple, easy to measure, and, with careful sewing, creates a very pro-looking, practical accessory!

DIY Leather Camera Strap Tutorial


You will need:

  • A piece of leather (at least 4.5" x 24")
  • Clothes pins, binder clips, or Getta Grip Sewing Clips
  • Seam ripper
  • Leather scissors
  • Leather needle for your machine
  • Thread in the colors of your leather and the foundation to your camera strap
  • An old camera strap (or the components of the adjustable base and connection point--you can buy adjustable strap materials at the fabric store)


Step 1: Using a seam ripper, take apart the base of the original strap. Those stitches are really in there, trust me! This part takes some patience.

Step 2: Now to the leather. Even it out so you have a perfect rectangle or at least a right angle on one side. Align your ruler and mark it with pen or pencil, then cut with leather scissors.

Step 3: To make the smooth-edged 1.5" strap, you'll a 4.5" piece of leather on itself 3 times, leaving a discrete raw edge on the inside. Cut your leather into a 4.5" wide, 24" strip, using the clear ruler to draw the edge.

(My typical pro Canon camera straps was a little over 1.5" wide by a little over 24" (the nylon/rubbery strap piece only, excluding the base. I cut my leather to be these same dimensions, but you could make yours a little longer or shorter if you like!)

Step 4: Using the ruler and pencil, draw lines along the length of the leather strip 1.5" from the top. You'll be folding it on itself in 3 almost even, 1.5"-plus-fold-room pieces--a tri-fold.

(The tri-fold finish for a leather or fake leather strap is a technique I learned from a sponsor back in 2011; she has this tutorial of the method and some good tips about fine points if you want to get technical!)

Step 5: Since you can't pin leather, to hold it in place, fold it carefully back to the 1.5" line and clip with your clothes pins, binder clips, or Getta Grip Sewing Clips, along the length of the strap.

Step 6: At the sewing machine (put on the leather needle!! and matching leather-colored thread on the bobbin and top thread), top stitch at the edge of the folded side of the strip (I used about a 1/8" seam allowance).

TIP: Use a big stitch length for a more even, professional look and just in case you need to take out a stitch. I hurried through and used different seam lengths in my top stitching, and I wish I hadn't!! Wish I'd used a medium-long stitch the whole way along. Oops. Do as I say, not as I do...

Step 7: Fold the raw edge back toward the folded side, clip in place, and sew along that edge with a matching seam allowance. This time you're sewing through 3 layers of leather, so it may be a little tougher for the machine. Go slow if you need to!

Step 8: Flip back to the first edge and top stitch 1/4" from the first seam.

Step 9: Back on the second edge, top stitch 1/4" from the second seam.

Step 10: The strap is now done. Grab the bases of the original strap (or the adjustable strap pieces you bought at the fabric store) and put the leather strap in between them. Pinch in place and sew through all the layers, retracing the X and rectangle stitching of the original. Repeat on the second side.

Done!! Here it is, smooth and nicely finished and ready for use!


It's perfect. Just the right size/length, has that nice leather smell, is more durable than the nylon/rubber/embroidered strap... so happy with how it turned out!

And here it is in use! Love it!!

And what a great DIY gift this would be!
If you want to try this yourself, check out Leather Hide Store--and one of you will win the $50 gift card! Enter here or on my Facebook page!

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