Monday, April 16, 2018

Me-Made-May 2018

It's almost time for Me-Made-May! I love taking part in this event every year and seeing all the amazing handmade outfits that everyone pledges to wear. This will be my fifth year participating in Me-Made-May and it is interesting to me to look back and see how much my wardrobe has changed over the years. Five years ago, I was still in college and know I'm in the working world as a nurse! 

I wear something handmade almost everyday. In fact, it would be more of a challenge for me to wear something RTW than it is to wear handmade. My handmade items are just what I like to wear now! It also helps that I'm part of the RTW fast this year, so I am not buying any RTW clothes. So far, that is going well and I haven't felt the need to buy any clothes for myself!

Here is my pledge for MMM '18:
 'I, Elizabeth of The College Seamstress blog and @thecollegeseamstress on instagram, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '18. I endeavour to wear only me made clothing (with the exception of undergarments, shoes, socks, and work scrubs!) throughout May 2018'. 

I will be sharing daily photos on Instagram and hope to do a few updates here on the blog. At the end of the month I will evaluate what worked, what didn't work, and what needs to go. I also want to figure out what I need more of in my wardrobe. In addition to my pledge, I have a goal to finish sewing the Joy Jacket pattern for my mom and I. I also want to sew something else from my #makenine list (possibly the Carolyn Pajamas or the Gabriola Skirt). 

Are you participating in Me-Made-May this year? 


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

If You Give your Sister a Cookie...

It's a new season over at Project Run and Play and there are some very talented designers! I wasn't planning on sewing along, but I couldn't help myself and had to join in the fun! I had a great time as a designer last season, but it is fun just to sew for fun and not have to stress about a design each week!

The theme for week two is 'Crafting a Story,' and you are supposed to "weave elements of your favorite children's storybook" into your design. If you know me, I love reading and there are lots of books I enjoyed reading as a child. I asked my siblings what their favorite book was, but they were not helpful as they told me "I don't know!" They like reading too, so I guess there are too many books for them to just choose one favorite!

I finally decided on "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," by Laura Numeroff. There are other stories in this series, but I think the cookie one is my favorite. It is a cute story and tells what happens when you give a mouse a cookie. The mouse in the story wears a simple outfit of overalls, so I used that as my inspiration for my outfit this week.

I was not looking at making a costume, but something that could be worn everyday. I also wanted to make it for my sister. While girls can wear overalls, I wanted to make a more feminine/girly outfit too. I decided on a pinafore dress similar to the one I made myself a few years ago. I made a few changes to the original design by adding a square "bib" to the front to mimic the design of overalls. I added a pocket to the bib and made a little cookie out of corduroy and ric rack. It's not a chocolate chip cookie, but the book never specifies! I sewed two layers the the cookie to make it pop out a little and appear more 3D. I was making it up as I went, so I am really happy with how this turned out!

The straps cross in the back and stay in place with the buttons in the front. The skirt has an invisible side seam zipper to make for easy on and off. The skirt is very full but it looks cute on little girls! It was cut four times my sister's hip measurement and then gathered.

My favorite part is the fabric. It appears to be denim, which is the look I was going for, but it is actually cotton! I've had it in my stash forever and never had quite the right project for it. I'm glad I saved it until now! It will be perfect for spring as well since it is not heavy like real denim.

The hardest part of sewing this dress was that I made it at my apartment away from my sister. I had her most recent measurements, but it is hard when you can't try things on as you go, especially when there is no pattern involved! I'm so glad it is a perfect fit!

Of course, this photoshoot wouldn't be complete without milk and cookies!

I had a fun time making this dress and taking these pictures!

Happy first day of spring too! As you can see, it doesn't look much like spring around here. I'm hoping it will be here soon!


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Another Cheyenne Tunic

I seem to be sewing everything in doubles this year! This is my second Cheyenne and I hadn't planned on making it until spring or summer. However, Grace of Maker Mountain Fabrics recently hosted a sewalong over on instagram and facebook. I decided to join in the fun and I'm so glad I did! I love my new shirt! 

Check out that matching plaid! Plaid matching can be tedious work, but I really enjoy it because the end result is worth it. Unfortunately, my sleeve cuffs didn't match, but progress, not perfection. 

My first Cheyenne tunic was the button down version, so for this one I decided to do the half placket, no collar version with 3/4 length sleeves. I really like the length of the sleeves when rolled up and I will probably wear it this way most of the time.

I cut the yoke, front placket, and pocket on the bias. I like the interest it adds and it also means I didn't have to match the plaid!

The fabric is a cotton shirting from Cali Fabrics. It has my favorite color in it - turquoise - which is why I bought it. It is nice and light and will be perfect for wearing this spring and summer. It's not quite warm enough to wear outside yet!

I sewed this Cheyenne in a straight size medium. Last time I had graded out to the hips at the large. I think the medium works well. It is somewhat loose fitting, but that is how the pattern was intended.

The sewalong forced me to slow down and really enjoy the sewing process! I like to sew fast and finish projects as quickly as I can. Sometimes, that's okay, but for projects like this you really should take your time and enjoy the process from cutting to finish!


Monday, March 5, 2018

Fringe Dress // Sewing for my Sister

Hello! It's safe to say that the Fringe dress from Chalk and Notch is one of my favorite patterns. I have made it three times now. The first time was the top version in view A, the second was my Christmas maxi velvet dress (unblogged) and this is the third time.

I made view B for this Fringe dress. My sister is 15 years old and she fit almost perfectly into the size 4. Her waist measurement was an inch different, so I reduced the width of the darts following the directions in the pattern. I also added the waist ties to the back darts. It is a perfect fit!

Another change I made to the pattern was to lengthen the skirt by four inches. My sister is tall and I wanted the skirt to hit a little below knee length. I sewed the bodice with French seams and finished the other seams with my sewing machine.

The waist ties help to add some shaping to the waist. 

It was a super windy day while we were taking these pictures, but you can see the shape of the hem in this one. It is slightly curved on the sides.

Previously, I have made the button front version of the Fringe dress, but I love this notched version too! It makes for an easy pullover dress! I made sure to use lots of pins while sewing the facing, and it came out nearly perfect! 

My sister's favorite part of this dress are the pockets! Every girl needs pockets in her dresses/skirts!

The fabric is a very drapey rayon challis from Joann Fabrics. We bought it at least five years ago when it was on sale. It's been prewashed and sitting in the stash ever since. My mom originally bought it intending to use it for my sister, but it just took a few years! 

The fabric is pretty, but it was a pain to work with! Parts of it were off grain and it was almost impossible to make it lay straight when cutting. I think the print helps to hide the fabric issues though and it looks cute on my sister!

This dress will be my sister's Easter dress this year! It will also be the perfect dress for summer too.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Cheyenne Tunic

I am so excited to finally have finished my flannel plaid Cheyenne tunic! This is a project that I've been wanting to make for a long time now. I bought the fabric from Raspberry Creek Fabrics almost 2 years ago, planning for a Cheyenne tunic and I finally made it a reality!

I made a size medium but graded out to a large in the hips for the back piece. The Cheyenne is intended to be a looser fit. I think the fit is pretty spot on! The sleeves are long enough without any adjustments - usually sleeves are too short, but not this time!

I have made a button down shirt before as well as several shirt dresses, so the skills required to make this pattern were not a complete mystery to me. However, each time I make this style I find I learn something new or improve on previously learned skills.

I have been sewing a lot of knits recently and since those are usually really quick projects I had to take the time and slow down with the Cheyenne tunic. In the end, it is a very professionally finished garment with all french seams.

There is a sew along for this pattern on the Hey June Handmade blog. I referred to the sew along more often than the pattern after I made a mistake with the back yoke. I am a super visual learner, so looking at pictures is often more helpful than reading words. The pattern is well written, but as a visual learner, it was helpful for me to refer to both the pattern and the sew along. The sew along was most helpful to me for the back yoke, the collar and collar stand, and the tower plackets.

The fabric is a Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel and it is so soft and comfortable! It was 10 degrees when I took these pictures and besides my hands, I was pretty warm! I know I will be wearing it a lot since winter doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon!

The hardest part of making this pattern was cutting out the fabric. I tried to match the plaids as best I could, but some of the plaid wasn't completely straight on the fabric, which made it a difficult task. I chose to do the back yoke, front plackets, and pocket on the bias. It adds interest and eliminates the need for matching those pieces!

I learned several things while sewing the Cheyenne tunic:

1) Don't sew if you are tired. I decided to work on this one afternoon after I had worked a night shift. I was only running on about 5 hours of sleep and needless to say I made plenty of mistakes that could've been avoided had I waited to sew.

2) Mark your right side well! This is especially true if you are working with a fabric that looks identical on both sides. I did not mark the fabric well and ended up sewing one of the sleeves on backwards. I didn't realize it until I had completely sewn the french seam!

3) Relating to #2, french seams (especially on flannel) are not fun to seam rip.

I did not want to roll the sleeves up in 10 degree weather, so I attempted to take a picture in my poorly lit apartment. I will probably only wear it like this indoors for now, but I like to have the option!

This was my first time sewing a tower placket and I am really pleased with how they turned out! This is another area of the pattern where I referenced the sew along from the Hey June blog. I was also pleasantly surprised that the plaids matched up on this sleeve - totally a happy accident! I was not so lucky with the other sleeve, but that's okay. 

I am really happy with my new Cheyenne tunic! It might be the best fitting button down shirt I've ever owned!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018 Make Nine

Happy New Year everyone!! I hope your 2018 is off to a great start! It has been a bit stressful for me with car trouble and moving to a new apartment, but I am excited to see what the year will bring!

I thought I would participate in #2018makenine and I have already shared my picks over on instagram. I thought I'd share them here on the blog too. It's a challenge started by Lucky Lucille and the idea is to pick nine patterns you'd like to make this year.

1 // Gabriola Skirt 

I love skirts and maxi skirts are no exception! I got this pattern for my birthday quite a few years ago now, but only ever traced the pattern pieces. If I remember right, I have to do some grading between sizes, but I'm determined to make it this year! It would be lovely in a rayon or voile for summer. 

2 // Carolyn Pajamas 

I've never had a nice pair of pajamas. Right now I have handmade pajama pants that are six or seven years old and show some wear and tear. They have served me well, but I think it's time for an upgrade! I've always liked the look of this pattern, so I'm hoping to make it. 

3 // Grace Tankini

I admired this swimsuit pattern ever since it released last summer. I have tried sewing a swimsuit in the past, but have failed. I'm hoping I will have better luck with this pattern! It's feminine and has a classic style. 

4 // Fringe Dress

I've made this pattern in the top view. I also made a maxi version in stretch velvet for Christmas (blog post coming soon!). I love the pattern and would like to try view B. Maybe it will be an Easter dress?

5 // Union St. Tee

This is another pattern I have made a couple times, but it has since been updated! A simple t-shirt is a must in any wardrobe. I am in need of some long sleeve t-shirts as well, so I'm hoping to make a couple of these. 

6 // Chai Shirtdress

I love a good shirtdress and could live in them all summer. I bought this pattern as soon as it came out last year, but have not had a chance to sew it yet. My muslin is still cut out and waiting for me in my sewing room somewhere. I'm looking forward to making it!

7 // Cheyenne Tunic

Flannel shirts are great for cold Minnesota winters! I have loved every version of this shirt I see. Two years ago, I bought some Robert Kaufman flannel to make myself one and it is still uncut in my sewing room. I will make it before winter is over!

8 // Cascade Duffle Coat

I have admired this coat pattern for a long time, but I still don't own it. There is a coat making party happening on instagram this month, but I'm not sure if I will get to it right away. My current coat is falling apart, so I think it's time for a new one. I'm planning on making it in wool and lining it in something warm for these subzero temps that don't seem to be going away anytime soon! Any coat making tips out there?

9 // My t-shirt quilt

I started my t-shirt quilt in April of 2016 by cutting out all of the squares. In June of 2017, I interfaced all my squares and came up with a good layout (with the help of my brother). Ever since then, the squares have been put away in a bag. I'm hoping this will be the year I finish it!

I have lots of other projects planned besides these, but we will see what the year brings! I tried to pick patterns that I have and want to sew. I'm also participating in the RTW fast hosted by Goodbye Valentino, so I will not be buying any ready to wear clothing this year! I already wear a lot of handmade clothing, but I still enjoy shopping from time to time, especially at thrift stores! It will be a fun challenge and I'm looking forward to adding good quality handmade items to my wardrobe! I'm joining over one thousand other sewists in this challenge as well!  

I'm also hoping to sew mostly from my stash and when I do buy fabric, buy it with a project in mind. I also want to limit my pattern buying habits because I have so many patterns that I've never made! 

Do you have any sewing plans or goals for the year? 


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017: A Year in Review

Wow! I cannot believe the year is almost over. It seems to go by faster every year and I just want time to slow down. I thought I would join in with sharing my top five sewing hits and misses for 2017. I'll start with my top five hits for sewing.

First up, my Marigold Dress.

I made this dress to wear for Easter, but it also got lots of wear throughout the spring and summer months. It started with the fabric - the Art Gallery rayon challis was just so lovely and I had to have it! I decided on the Marigold because I had made it before and it is a style that I always enjoy wearing. I wanted this dress to be perfect because I loved the fabric so much, so I really focused on getting the fit right. I lengthened the bodice and it is much more comfortable than my first Marigold dress.  

This dress taught me so much about my sewing skills and opened the door for endless possibilities! I was able to take the Novelista shirt pattern and make it into this dress. It was a lot of work, but I learned so much and sometimes the best sewing is the kind where you take your time and focus on the details. I haven't worn it as much as I wanted to but now with the subzero temperatures we've been having, I can wear it again! 

Next up is my unblogged Lane Raglan. 

I never blogged about this top, but I wear it all the time. I love how the ruffled fabric takes the shirt up a notch. It is perfect for everyday wear, but makes you feel a little more put together. The Lane Raglan is also one of my most favorite patterns for both me and my sister. I have made it countless times this year and I wear a Lane at least once a week. 

Fourth, is my Fringe Blouse

Until making this top, I never really wore woven tops. This is mostly because in the past the woven tops I made were quilting cotton, and quilting cotton is just too structured for most apparel garments. This top is made with rayon challis and is just so soft and wonderful to wear! The Fringe pattern might be my favorite pattern this year. I used the dress version to make my Christmas dress and will be sharing pictures of that soon! 

Last, but certainly not least is everything from my experience on Project Run and Play!

If I had to choose just one sewing highlight for the entire year, it would be Project Run and Play. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine being a designer for any type of sewing competition. It was an amazing experience and I am grateful to have been apart of it. I did a lot of sewing for my siblings throughout the year, but my best sewing for them was during the weeks of Project Run and Play. I even tried sewing for my brother and his outfit is one of my favorites! I love sewing, and I love seeing the joy on my siblings faces when they see I made something for them. 

Now, I'll move on to my sewing misses or fails. In my opinion, even if something doesn't work out, it's never a fail because there's always something to learn. I have sewing failures for several reasons. Sometimes it's the fit, the wrong fabric, or it's just not my style. I would rather always sew great things, but then I wouldn't learn from that. 

First, is my Daintree skirt. 

This was never blogged, but you can see it on my instagram here. I made it during a pattern test for Melissa of Blank Slate Patterns. I love the pattern, but this one just doesn't get much wear. During the pattern test, we discovered that a panel was missing from the pattern pieces. It is intended to be a half circle wrap skirt and it's designed to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions. However, mine still flashes open if it's windy due to not having that extra panel. I would like to try making this pattern again, especially now that I have a serger to do a rolled hem. 

Second, is this unblogged Wildflower Top. 

I really wanted to like this red and grey Wildflower Top and I made it with the intention of filling a wardrobe gap. To be honest, the day this picture was taken was the only day I wore the top and that was back in May. Now, it sits unloved in a dresser drawer. I have made this pattern before and I really love wearing the turquoise one I made, but this red one just doesn't feel right when I wear it and I'm not sure why. 

I will combine my third miss into this same picture. It is the Janie dress my littlest sister is wearing. We love the pattern and I have made it many times for her. It has even been the pattern for her Christmas dress for the last two years. However, the one she is wearing in the picture above was hardly worn. The fabric has very little stretch, so I think it just wasn't comfortable for her to wear and it was really tight around her head. That being said, I will continue making this pattern for her because it is definitely a TNT!

Fourth, is this Jalie Nico Shirt I made for my brother. 

It is a good pattern and it was my first time sewing for my 20 year old brother. He had requested a shirt made by me and even paid for the fabric. The fabric is the reason this is a sewing miss. When I was finished sewing it, I discovered a small hole in the front center of the shirt. I was able to fix it by sewing on a faux button placket to the front and my brother wears it all the time. This shows that quality fabric makes all the difference! Now, when my brother wears it, my youngest sister calls him "cool guy" and this is his "cool guy shirt". 

My final sewing fail is my Blackwood Cardigan

This is a sewing fail again due to fabric choice, not pattern. Before I say anything else, I must say that this is a new favorite pattern of mine and I have another one planned for myself in more suitable fabric. I also made this pattern for three people for Christmas and it was a hit all around. This fabric may have been okay if I used a serger. However, at the time I made it I did not know I would be getting a serger and sewed it on my sewing machine. The fabric is really thin and loosely woven so all of the seams stretched out. I was able to steam most of the seams back to normal, but there is still noticeable waviness along the front band. None of this has stopped me from wearing it and I will be making another one soon! 

Finally, I just want to share a few non-sewing related highlights from my year. As much as I enjoy sewing, it's not all I do with my life. 

In October, I completed a bucklet list item by running my first ever full marathon! It was definitely a top highlight of my year. I have been running for seven years now, but a marathon is the farthest I've ever run. I'm not sure if I will do another one, but it was an incredible experience and I got to do it with my brother. It challenged me in so many ways, both physically and mentally and I will never forget the experience. 

My sister and I took a road trip to De Smet, SD in July to visit the homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We have been wanting to go for a long time so we finally made it happen. It was fun just to spend time together and we even made prairie skirts to wear on our vacation. Our cabin was shaped like a covered wagon too!

I have been playing the violin since I was six, but hadn't taken lessons since high school. In February, I started lessons again and it has been fun learning new skills and playing new pieces. I am enjoying it!

In August, my brother and I took a road trip to Missouri in an attempt to see the eclipse. Unfortunately, it ended up being cloudy and rainy where we were, but it was still fun. We saw parts of it and made the most of our little road trip. There is always next time!

Finally, this summer I had the opportunity to plant a garden and it did very well! I rented a plot in the town where I live and had great success. It was fun to watch it grow throughout the summer and I learned a lot. It was my first garden and I loved having fresh vegetables. I think I have enough zucchini in my freezer to last almost a lifetime though! 

This has been fun to look back on my year. 2017 was a great year in so many ways and I can't wait to see what 2018 will bring! Thank you all for reading and I hope you all have a Happy New Year! Merry Christmas!