Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fabric Buying Binge and Future Plans

I have been sitting on some Christmas money and I finally spent some of it today.  I have been planning Spring sewing for awhile and have just been putting off buying fabric for it, but finally caved today and ordered it.  
   First up, I have long been in love with this anthropologie dress.  It is the "Night Blooming Dress" and came out last Fall, I believe. 

I just would not fork out the money for it.  It is so unusual and pretty to me.  The bodice is silk and if you look closely, you can see a bird on it.  I obsessed, yes obsessed, over this dress, but I restrained myself. I set about looking for some fabric that would work for the bodice, but I could not find any, so I gave up.  A couple of days ago I was looking for some cotton lawn fabric for a different item and came across this lovely fabric.  It is quilting cotton, not silk, but it reminded me alot of the bodice of this dress.  It is certainly not an exactly replica, but it just spoke to me.  I debated over using a quilting cotton for the bodice of a dress, but I finally decided to give it a try.  I asked for advice on patternreview and got some encouragement. 
I am thinking about using a pattern I have similar to this one. I can't find my pattern that I have online, but this one is very close.

I am going to do the skirt of out of this Bussells Washer Linen Black that I ordered today from It is a rayon/linen blend.  I do not like 100% linen because it is too wrinkly for my taste. 
I am also going to use this fabric for the skirt of another anthropologie knock off I am planning.  I attempted back earlier last year to sew the "Swinging Sweetheart Dress", but I made a bad fabric choice and really a bad pattern choice, so it did not work out. 

Over at patternreview again--I know I drive them crazy, but they are so helpful and nice---I asked for help finding an appropriate pattern.  Someone suggested a Burda Style pattern from an 11/2007.  It is perfect, but finding the magazine was another thing.  I just kept checking ebay until it became available.  I still have to do the scallops at the waist of the skirt, but I found a Threads magazine article that is very helpful.  For the bodice I am going to use Charmeuse Satin Baby Pink that I ordered from
Here is the line drawing of the Burda Pattern I am going to use.  It is a straight skirt, but I like that better than the full one on the anthropologie dress.

I am also about to sew my first Colette pattern.  I really love the Macaron  pattern that I got as a Christmas gift. 
I had no clue what type of fabric or look I wanted to go for with this dress until I saw a similar dress over at the wonderful blog, Vintageglammz.
used with permission from Vintageglammz

Isn't her dress lovely?  As soon as I saw it I thought about the Macaron pattern.  For the main part of the dress I am going to use this cotton lawn from

For the bodice I am going to use a black charmeuse from

I had seriously considered using a black tulle fabric like the lovely blogger's dress, but I am going to be teaching in it, and I thought that might be a bit dressy.  I really do like the tulle, though.
     Lastly, I bought two Shetland Wool fabrics from that I have been salivating over for awhile.  I got an email that today is the last day they will be 50% off, so I knew I had to buy them.  The discount shows up when you place them in your shopping cart. I don't know what I will make with them, but they are so pretty and "colonial" looking that I just had to have them. 

Thankfully, I was able to use coupon codes on my purchases.  I am looking forward to these fabrics arriving.  So much to sew, little time!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Inspired By Anthropologie - New Look 6569

Well, I fell in love with another Anthropologie skirt--I'm sure that is no surprise.  It is the Peppered and Striped Skirt.  It is a beautiful wool gray skirt with yellow polka dots and a plaid waistband.  Isn't she lovely?  At $128, though, I knew she wasn't coming home with me.  I loved the fabric so much that I contacted anthropologie after it went on sale, but there were no skirts left anywhere. 

I started searching for fabric and came across this similar fabric on ebay.  It is so neat in that it is reversible.  Here is what it looks like on each side. 

The seller I bought it from has a website called Fabricall.   When I saw this fabric, I knew I would never find anything any closer.  It is of course a different coloway than the anthropologie skirt, but it is incredibly close in terms of the style.  Being that it is described as 100% Italian wool, I thought it was a very reasonable price.  When it arrived, there was a 10% off coupon on my next purchase placed with Fabricall.
     I really do not like the pleats on the front of the anthropologie skirt, so I opted to just do a circle skirt.  I did not want a really full one, so this New Look 6569  pattern fit the bill.
I sewed View B.  The pattern does not call for a lining, but I added one.  It is just a basic polyester lining fabric in a pinkish-lavendar color.   I just attached it to the waistband facing.  I followed the instructions for the skirt like they were written.  Interestingly though, I  made a size smaller than I normally make.  I have not made alot of New Look patterns, so I wasn't sure how there sizing compared to the Big 4.  Does anyone find that they run big?  I measured the waistband on the pattern sheet and according to my measurements, I needed a size smaller than usual.  It could be because I wanted to wear the skirt at my waist instead of below it like the pattern calls for.   I used the polka dot side for the skirt and the plaid side for the waistband.

front of skirt
(forgive the wrinkles, but I had worn it all day when I took this picture)

waistband facing attached to lining

inside of skirt

My outfit with the skrit:
Taupe cardigan:  Overstock
Top: JCrew "Frances" cami
Brown Tights:  Banana Republic (old as dirt)
Pink Patent Mary Jane Heels: (old as dirt, too)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Anthro skirt knockoff - S2605

 If you have read my blog for even a short time, you know of my love for anthropologie clothing.  Unfortunately, their clothing is sooooo expensive, many times even when it is on sale.  When I see something I really like and think I can knock off, I try to do so.  This anthropologie Tria Sweater Skirt was one such piece. 
  Here is the anthropologie version:

This was described on the anthropologie website as being a wool sweater skirt.  I knew as soon as I saw this I have to have it---or my knockoff version of it.  I love me some ruffles.  When it went on sale, I actually placed an order for it on the anthropologie site with some Christmas money I had.  However, my order got cancelled by anthro due to them running out of skirts.  I am so thankful they did,  because I made my own and saved alot of money in the process. 
    I looked for some charcoal heathered gray sweater fabric,  but I could just not find any that I liked. I decided to use a double knit fabric because I wanted it to be thick.  I ordered some charcoal gray double knit from  It is called "Aggravation Charcoal."  I thought that was an interesting name and hoped that the fabric would not live up to it.  Well, it was not aggravating.
  I knew I did not want to make an elastic waist because the anthro version has a fabric waist band.  I had never done one of these before so I decided to just go with my TNT pattern for skirts, S2605 View F.  It is definitely TNT because this is the fourth time I have used it.  I blogged about 2 other times and I still need to blog about the third time using it.  I haven't blogged about the third use of it because it was just a simple skirt--nothing too exciting.
  After making a muslin, I went down one size.  This pattern is not for knits, so I figured I would have to go down a size.  Truthfullly, I probably could have gone down 2 sizes, but it sits comfortably below my waist with the size I made. I left the darts in the pattern because I don't know how to remove darts.  I omitted the zipper since this is a knit, and I did not interface the waistband.  I wanted to make sure it was stretchy enough.
     To make the ruffles at the bottom,  I used the skirt fabric for the top ruffle, some leftover $1.95/yd  Vera Wang jersey from for the ecru colored ruffle, and some eyelet from my stash for the bottom edging.  I originally sewed all the strips together to make one long ruffle, but it was just too much to handle.  I ended up make several ruffles, tying the threads at the ends leaving a seam allowance, and then seaming them together.  You can't even see the seams because they blend in with the ruffles.
     Here are some pics of my knockoff.
closeup of ruffle
If you look closely at the anthro skirt vs my skirt, there is a slight difference in my ruffle colors.  My middle ruffle is ecru and my eyelet is white, whereas the anthro version is the opposite.  I decided to work with what I had instead of going out and buying new stuff.
Here is the first outfit I wore with my skirt Sunday to church.
Sweater Vest - JCPenney
Turtleneck - Peebles
Belt - Charlotte Russe
Boots - Baker's Shoes
Dark red tights - McRae's (just before they went out of business)
Jewelry- Christmas gift
Here is the second outfit I wore with the skirt to work yesterday.
Cardigan:  Target
Blouse:  JCrew Outlet
Belt - Charlotte Russe
Shoes - Payless
Necklace - F21
Dark Green Tights - McRae's again (they were having a huge going out of business sale)

A couple of posts ago I featured a jacket I made.  I finally wore it to work today, so here is my outfit with it.

front  (my goodness, that is a weird pose)
blouse - Ann Taylor
pants - Express Columnist pants
Eggplant Mary Jane Heels - Parisian (before they went out of business)

I have a couple of more skirts to show you that I have made.  I have been on a tear lately...or is that "tare".  Anyway, I will show them to you as I wear them.  Both are inspired by anthropologie.  They are not knockoffs, but they have the same vibe as the anthro skirts that inspired them. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thrift Store Shopping for the 1st time

    Since I have been blogging I have acquired quite a blogroll of blogs I love to follow.  Grosgrain is one such blog.  There are lots of fabulous features and one that really caught my attention was the "Embellish Your Knits" month that took place during November and December.  I really love J Crew and  Anthropologie cardigans, but they are so expensive that I wait until they go on sale, and, even then, I have to be very selective because they are still pricey, IMHO.  During the months of November and December, Grosgrain redid about 30 cardigans that came from thrift stores.  It was absolutely amazing to see a rather dull looking sweater be transformed into something that looked like it came from Anthropologie or JCrew.
     I decided that I wanted to try this.  I usually don't shop at thrift stores because I have always been under the impression that my area does not have any good ones.  I live in a very small town that has no major department stores.  We don't even have a movie theater.  Even the local government has taken down two red lights on Main Street in our town and turned them into four way stops.  I joke that we are trying to become a one stop light town.  The neighboring town I work in has only one major department store and the closest Anthropologie and JCrew to me is 3.5 hrs away (probably a very good thing!!)  A friend of mine suggested to me that I try a particular thrift store in the town where I work.  She said she has found some very good items in there.  I decided to go visit today on my lunch break to see if I could find a sweater to embellish.
     Well, I began to search through racks of clothing--something I have always thought I would hate. I am a mathematician and I like order.  Therefore, I gave myself my lunch hour to do this.  It didn't take but about 2 minutes to come across a very good looking sweater (no pilling) in my size that I thought would work well to embellish.  It is this very nice looking orange sweater.  It was marked $3.50, but the cashier sold it to me for $1.25.  I am considering turning it into something similar to JCrew's Traversa Cardigan.

    After that success I kept looking.  About 2 minutes later I found some JCrew City Fit skinny ankle pants in an orange color.  I remember wanting a pair of these when they first came out, but I would not drop $98 (or was it $78) on them.  $98,$78--- it is all the same expensive.  Unfortunately, when JCrew stuff goes on sale, it is usually FINAL SALE (read...NO RETURNS).  I have learned the hard way not to take this Final Sale chance with pants.  (read...I have a pair in my closet that doesn't fit).  I took a good hard look at them and decided they would fit.  Now these can't be returned, but in this case, I am only out $3.25.   But, guess what...?!?!...THEY FIT!!!!!  There is a slight discoloration under one of the front pockets, but it is not noticeable from 3 feet away.


     I was on fire now!!! I kept going down the racks like a mad woman.  Next I found this cute little black and cream striped dress with lacing down the back.  I haven't decided what I will do wtih it yet.  It is to long so I am either going to hem it shorter or I may just salvage the fabric and make a cute little top like maybe this anthro top.  I really love the style of it and the big bow on the shoulder.

    I was having alot of fun by this point going through the racks of clothing.  My orderly mathematician self had just melted away.  I found another pair of pants.  They are black with a windowpane type print in ivory.  They fit perfectly, too.  They were just $3.25.

Well, I have saved the best for last.  I decided to go over to the coat rack to see if I could find some old leather coats.  I have been wanting to try sewing leather, but I don't want to spend alot of money on a piece and then mess it up.  I thought if I could find an old leather coat, I could salvage some of the leather to try sewing with.  Well, something unexpected happened.  Before I tell you, let me share a little background.  I used to have this beautiful lambskin leather coat that I got from my sister.  When my cat and his late brother were kittens, I used to keep them in the closet and laundry room while I was at work.  There is a door between the two rooms and I would leave it open so they would have a big space to play.  Unfortunately, it never entered my mind that they would entertain themselves by climbing my lovely black lambskin leather coat.  One day I was going to wear it and I noticed that it was all nicked up with claw marks.  I was devastated.  I have wanted another one, but they are just too expensive for no more than I would wear it. 
As I was looking through the coats, my eye caught this beautiful piece of black lambskin leather.  I looked at it and, lo and behold, it was a black leather lambskin coat--in my size.  This coat is scrumptious!!! I looked it over and the only flaw I found is a very tiny piece of paint at the bottom of the back hem.  It is just a tiny line about an inch long and about the width of a strand of hair.  It is so tiny that you have to look for it.  I checked out the price of the coat and it was marked $8.00.  I snatched that thing up quicker that you can drop a hot potato.  I most definitely won't be salvaging the leather to sew on.  I just cannot fathom why anyone would give away such a thing I beauty as this coat that there is absolutely nothing wrong with.  It looks brand new.  However, I am happy they decided to donate it.  When I got to the counter with my 5 items the cashier only charged me $6.00 for the coat.  I could not believe it!!!  

My total bill was $17.75.  Will I be going back to the thrift store next month?  Ummm...absolutely!!! 
I think I am more excited over these clothes than I have ever been over any anthropologie or JCrew item I have ever purchased.  I feel such satisfaction at having gotten these items at such a cheap price, and the coat is just the icing on the cake. 
    I will keep you all up to date on how I refashion the sweater and the dress.  Next week, when I get back to officially teaching, I will post my two new skirts I have made.  Thanks for letting me share my happiness over thrift shoppng. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

M5936 - Velveteen Polka Dot Jacket

Happy New Year everyone and belated Merry CHRISTmas!!! I have had a very enjoyable almost 3 weeks off work, but now it is time to go back to work.  God was very good to me this CHRISTmas.  I got lots of nice goodies, but in the way of sewing items, my husband surprised me with two things that I just absolutely love.  The first item is a Simplicity Bias Tape Maker .  I have never told him that I wanted one, but when I opened up the present, there it was!!!  Apparently the lady who owns my local fabric shop knows me very well, even though I have never said anything to her about a bias tape maker.  BTW, it was $20 cheaper than what it is on the Simplicity site.  Secondly, my sweet husband gave me a $50 per month gift certificate, or $600 per year, whichever comes first (and we all know what that will be :) to the same local fabric shop.  I am so excited about that because I stop in there alot to pick up interfacing, lining, buttons, zippers, etc--all those pesky things that add up over the course of a year  This will really take care of that.  Also, this store has some gorgeous fabric that I want, so I will be taking advantage of that. 
   I have been doing alot of sewing, too, but it doesn't seem like I have accomplished too much.  I think I need to rename my blog the "Slow Seamstress".  Part of the reason, though, is that I have tried to be a good little seamstress and make muslins.  This jacket that I made, M5936, is one such item I made a muslin for.  However, I learned a lesson that you need to use the same kind of fabric for your muslin as for the real items--i.e., don't make a muslin out of fabric with stretch and then the item out of fabric with no stretch.  I am sure all of you already knew that, and I did too, but it didn't stop me from doing it.  I guess I just didn't realize that the velveteen I worked with had absolutely ZERO stretch. 

front view

I had never worked with velveteen before, partly because it scares me to death.  I did some reading on how to handle it before I started.  This navy w/white polka dots velveteen came from when it went on sale.  I don't have much money in it, so I figured if I destroyed it , I would not be out that much money.  However, the fabric is so cute that I wanted to be successful.  I tested out the iron on a piece of it.  I was able to iron the back of it by actually touching the iron to the fabric for a few seconds, and it did not mess up the pile. I don't remember what the fabric content of this velveteen is, but I would recommend testing out any velveteen before getting too brave with an iron.    I was also careful to cut all pieces with the nap going in the same direction (in this case, down). 
back view-it fits me better in the back than it does the dress form

I did not make any alterations to the pattern because my muslin fit well.  I was really nervous about sewing the curved seams on the front and back, but it was actually no problem at all with the velveteen.  I started out using tissue paper (the kind you put in gift packages)  under my fabric when sewing, but I finally stopped.  I could not tell that the presser foot was really leaving a mark, and the fabric did not slide any easier under the foot.  Speaking of which, the fabric did not slide very well under the presser foot.  I had to pull from the back to help it through.  I used a walking foot, but I think a roller foot would have been better.

front closure

The problem with using stretch vs. non-stretch fabric is that I could not actually button the jacket.  If it had some stretch in the fabric, I could have done the button closure.  I tried a couple of things, but I finally ended up sewing a small piece of fabric to one side of the front of the jacket and using what I call pants closures.  I really like the look of it without the buttons.

setting in sleeves
The most difficult part of this project was setting in the sleeves.  I don't enjoy doing that anyway, but it was particularly aggravating using velveteen.  I finally muscled them in with alot of pins.  

The instructions for lining this jacket are the strangest I have ever seen.  If I had it to do over with I would just bag the lining.  However, I followed the instructions and just did not have the patience to line the sleeves like the instructions detailed.  The instructions had you to insert the sleeve lining into the sleeves and then turn it under at the armhole and sew it down.  I left them unlined.

Lastly, during our Christmas gathering with my side of the family, I stated that I had always wanted a Mama cat and newborn kittens.  I know my cat would never stand for that.  Well, my husband went out and bought me this stuffed Mama cat and kittens.  The attach to her belly via magnets. Aren't they cute?!?!?!
My cat has fallen in love with them.  See pics below.

To take care of some unfinished business, I was going to show you a pair of pants from Burda that I was working on.  Well, they were a failure, so I just threw them in the garbage can.  I still want to make a pair that fits, but I think they are harder than jackets, at least for me, and I don't find them to be fun to sew.  I have something to show you very soon, another anthropologie knock off.

I hope all of you have a blessed 2011!!!