Bell Bottoms & Chaka Khan

It’s my first make and post of 2022.  I’ve been dreaming of sewing monochromatic looks well before Fall began.  Monochromatic looks are always a delicate balance of making sure you pull the look out without being absurdly matchy matchy.   I typically wear monochromatic looks on my lazy days, but I wanted to try to elevate that to a higher end look than my typical lazy matching sweats look.   The beauty of monochromatic looks is that you can go bold and make colorful statements or you can go with neutral classic looks.  There are literally a million different variations of monochromatic that you can pull off in any style of fashion possible.   I find when wearing monochromatic looks it’s a good time to add pops of colors or pull out your statement jewelry pieces to help bring the look to full circle.  This neutral look was no different for me.  Even more so, this look was inspired by none other than the Queen Chaka Kahn.  I’d had her song, What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me stuck in my head for weeks now, so it was playing in constant rotation as I sewed this look and was playing when I shot the photos. I needed to channel her powerhouse sound.

PROJECT DETAILS:

Statement Sleeve Top: Schultz Apparel’s Petunia Top is a new-to-me indie sewing pattern company that I actually stumbled across on Etsy.   When I saw the Petunia top and the sleeves, it was definitely love at first sight!  Like everyone else, I’ve been obsessed with all of these wonderful puffy sleeve tops that are on trend right now.  I’m not normally into trends, but this one I can fully support.  This pattern is easily wonderful, and a classic staple piece.  I can already see myself creating a number of tops from this pattern.  This pattern is designed for knits, so I took a chance with this double creped stretch woven fabric I used for this top.  Thankfully my fabric had just enough stretch to pull this pattern off while still remaining true to the designer’s intended look.  This is a beginner friendly pattern, but well designed and easy to execute. 

Bell Bottom Trousers – Vogue 1460 is a modern take and reminded me of the the 70’s bell bottom pants that my mom wore religiously back in high school.  I am a huge fan of 70’s sewing patterns.  Most of my vintage patterns are from that time period, so I literally did a somersault when this pattern dropped a couple of seasons ago by Vogue Patterns.  It appears to be currently sold out on their website, but no fears, this pattern can still be found in stores and online on Etsy or eBay.  My biggest modification was swapping out the waistband.  The original pattern waistband is straight. I switched it for one of my tried and true curved waistbands.  If you have hips or butt, this is usually a must, as straight waistbands create a terrible waist butt gap that most women hate.  This is a very common problem in ready to wear clothing.  This is where sewing your own clothes has an added benefit as you can eliminate these issues from the jump to create clothing that literally is custom fitted to your shape.  This pattern, while excellently designed does create that back waist gap.  So I also had to shave some fabric off the middle of the back yoke, which I then transferred to the pattern pieces.  I didn’t make a muslin this time around so I did what my sewing teachers over the years have taught me and fitted as I went along.  That’s not something I’d suggest for a beginner sewist, or if you’re new to pant sewing. The extra time spent to customize this back waist curve adjustment was easy enough for me and worth the extra time as the result is pants that now fit like a glove.  I did view B without any height adjustments, since at 5’7 I’m already only an inch taller than the standard commercial pattern height.  This isn’t the case for the average woman, so I’d suggest shaving off a few inches on the hem if you’re under 5’6 or going with View A, which is the cropped version.

FABRIC – My fabric hording self, discovered this medium/heavy weighted double crepe stretch woven fabric quite by accident.  I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I spend way too much time downtown in the Los Angeles Fashion District to the point that a couple of the shop keepers there know me on sight and often beckon me into the shop with fabrics they know fit my esthetic.   I was walking past one of my favorite fabric stores when one of the guys who worked there stopped me and was like, “I have just the fabric for you, and what’s even better is it’s only a $1.00 a yard.”  He already had me at a dollar, but as soon as I saw the fabric and touched it, I immediately bought seven yards.  The guy tried to get me to buy the whole roll, which now, in retrospect, I wish I’d taken him up on. This fabric was so high quality, that I knew immediately that he should have been selling this to me at a much higher price point, but I’m never one to talk my way out of a good deal. It washed up super easy, was easy to iron and work with that I wish I’d had a ton more.  Like with most of my makes, as soon as I see the fabric, the look starts forming on its own.

STYLE – I styled this outfit with my favorite pair of classic gold hoop earrings, and a chunky statement necklace that I’ve had for forever from Banana Republic.  These shoes are the newest addition to my closet this season. They are absolutely beautiful, comfortable and incredibly cute.  Needless to say I own more than a couple of pairs of Sam Edelman shoes for this same reason. I bought these Sam Edelman Mary Jane pumps at full price (which I never do with hardly anything!) because I loved them so much when I saw them.   

Breaking with Precedence: A girl & A skirt

I’ve been going through a sort of sewing renaissance.  I’ve been on a sewjo high sewing spree.  Every free moment I get these days I’m sewing. I’ve temporarily broken with my pant sewing binge to sew something I hardly ever wear: skirts.  That’s funny to even think about, because since I was a little girl I have absolutely hated wearing skirts.  It’s is my least favorite article of clothing to wear, yet somehow I’ve found myself wearing a ton of skirts this season.  I’ve been pairing them with panty hoses, leggings, boots and heels.  I guess I’ve been feeling quite girly these days.  Not sure how long this sewing renaissance will last since I’m coming up on my busy season work wise, but for now I’ll continue to sew away to my heart’s content. 

PROJECT DETAILS:

Classic Staple: Turtleneck: Itch-To-Stitch HepburnTurtleneck.  There are at least a gazillion turtleneck sewing patterns floating out there, and honestly I feel like you can choose almost any one of them and not go wrong.  I however chose a highly regarded and tried and true pattern from Itch-to-Stitch based on the reviews.  I was not disappointed.  I loved that it fit almost to the exact specifications on the fit measurements.  I literally was able to sew this pattern from start to finish in about an hour.  I sewed this pattern without looking at the instructions it’s that easy to sew. Turtlenecks has to be one of my favorite fall/winter wears as I always tend to run a little cold.  This one was flattering and I can definitely see myself making a couple more before the cold is done in Southern California.

FABRIC – I used this double sided patterned sweater knit jersey that I bought at the old Michael Levine (new Michael Levine has different owners) in downtown Los Angeles in the fashion district. This has been in my stash since forever and was during one of my fabric hording binges.  I never could part with it, even though I have since purged my fabric storage at least four times since.

Front Button Down Skirt – Style Arc Sutton Woven Skirt.  I bought this pattern on a flux.  As I mentioned earlier I don’t like skirts, but something about this pattern just caught my eye.  I think it’s the fact that you can make a fabric belt to match, or it’s a skirt that is long enough and hits me right where I like to wear skirts.  I’m uber fussy about length, fabric and movability when I do wear skirts.  I’m glad I took a chance on this pattern as it was delightfully easy to sew as well.  In this case the fabric inspired the selection of this pattern.  It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a big fan of Style Arc patterns.  They tend to be a bit light or lacking on the instructions.  I probably would not recommend their patterns to new and beginning sewers, as I feel like their patterns while excellently designed, does not sew up fast if you don’t already have a strong grasp on sewing construction as well as understand order of construction.  I also love that their patterns for some amazing reason (the sewing gods rejoice!) fit me perfectly in the waist-to-hip ratio.  It’s like their pattern slopers was based off someone that had my measurements.

FABRIC – While I was in Joann’s not too long ago to pick up some notions, as I literally hardly ever buy fabric from them currently, I saw this double sided faux suede fabric in their clearance section.  Most of my Joann’s fabric has been in my stash pre-COVID era shopping.  So I was pleasantly delighted to see this beauty.  What sealed the deal was that I could not stop touching this fabric. They only had two and half yards left, so I knew whatever I made was going to have to fall into that limitation.  Hence a good skirt.

STYLE – I wore a pair of my favorite boots that I only get to bust out this time of year.  The rest of the year these Nine West cognac knee high leather boots reside in the recesses of my back closet hidden behind a business suit and a ball gown (go figure!).  I bought them at least a good 10 years ago, and while they could use a good repair on the inside, they are still fantastic.

New Year Kickoff

 

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I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a resounding start!  I don’t necessarily feel like I have a “this is what I made in 2019” recap as much as I have, this is what I learned.

HAND SEWING – My biggest shocking sew moment of 2019 was discovering that I actually enjoy hand sewing! From when I first started learning how to sew right up until 2018, I just did not like hand sewing.  I avoided it like the plague.  Something about the tediousness of it just drove me up the wall.  It was like nails on a chalkboard for me.  In 2019 however, I began to explore more couture techniques and tailoring and with that came more hand sewing.  Once I began trouser/dress pants making and sewing blind hems, something magical came over me.  I realized my patience over the years has drastically increased.  Chalk that up to living and maturing through some of the hardest times and things I’ve ever gone through in life, and boom: Suddenly hand sewing seems like a breeze!

FLY FRONTS – I’m going to toot my own horn here, but I’m a sewing boss when it comes to fly fronts now.  I can literally now do fly fronts in my sleep. I mean the good old school tailoring fly fronts with the fly front shield and everything.  I made a point in 2019 of reading every single sewing book, article, YouTube, how-to, you name it, on fly fronts and learned multiple techniques.  I’ve found when I want to be good at something I literally study until I become an expert on it.  2019 was the year of me mastering my old sewing fears of tailored fly fronts.

 SLOW SEWING – At the tail end of 2019 I finally let myself off the hook for slow sewing.  It was ironically forcing myself the months of November and December to sew rapidly several pieces, many of which I didn’t love, for me to realize sewing for content to post wasn’t going to work for me.  One of the reasons I started sewing in the first place was because of how much I love what I create.  I love the feel of putting my hands to work at something beautiful that I get to personally make and wear.  When you find yourself looking at clothes that you know you’re never ever going to wear, something is wrong.

So What’s ahead for 2020?

Like many this year I’ve given up resolution making and have focused instead on intentions and setting sewing plans that resonate deeply with me.

HAVE FUN – My goal this year is to expand the reasons why I love sewing and fashion designing.  It brings me so much peace and joy and I just have so much fun when I’m creating.  This is why I chose to start my new sewing year off with the Sew Unconventional Challenge.  I bought 6,000 plastic spoons from an online janitorial supply store and coupled with my Pinterest board have one fun project in store which will be fully revealed by the end of January.   This year will include me making more pieces that simply make me smile or reveal another side of me.

NO NEW FABRIC – I’ve had to face some real truths this past 2019 about my fabric hording.  I’m honestly past my or anyone else’s level of acceptable fabric stash.  In an effort to decrease my fabric stash I’ve created a new hash tag #shopthefabricstash and will use this each time I create a make that uses fabric that I currently already own.  I also plan to sell and give way a lot of fabric this year.

MAKES I LOVE – To kick off the new year I went through my pile of WIP (work in progress) makes and purged all but two makes that I’ve had still uncompleted.  Next I went through and purged any makes I had completed that I honestly know that I’m not going to wear.  Then to top that off, I went through my ready to wear clothes that I’d purchased from stores in the past but had set aside for alterations and purged that too.  Lastly, I will purge my current closet and donate half of that if possible.  2020 is going to be the year of only makes that I love.  If I find myself working on something that I realize I’m not going to love and actually wear I’m giving myself permission to stop.  I used to feel obligated to complete something for the sake of saying I’d finished it, but that’s not why I sew.  I want my new wardrobe to be full of things that I not only loved creating but will love wearing too.

TAILORING – This new year I will be focusing more on tailoring and the details of my makes.  I want all my makes this year to have a classic hand and polished look.  Aesthetically I love clean lines, classically tailor pieces as well as items that are designed well.  My goal is to produce pieces that I know will hold up through the years and truly become staples in my closet.

SLOW SEWING – I’m also giving myself permission this year to sew as slow or as fast as I need to, to get the fit, look or feel of my pieces right.  I want to make sure I’m going at a pace that suites me and whatever I’m working on rather than creating items just for Instagram content.

TACKLING FEARS – This new year will include me tackling projects that push me out of my sewing comfort zone.  This will include spending more time on plaid matching, welt pockets, blazers and coats.  I’ve had a tendency in the past to skip right over techniques or projects that will require me to push my advanced sewing skill set, instead opting for safe pieces that I can do with ease.  Now I want to jump right into those, because by the end of the year I want to be have honed and refined my advance sewing techniques.

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The Great Trouser Hunt


I’ve been on The Great Trouser Hunt.  In the last couple of months, I’ve been sewing like crazy and have actually made quite a few different items. The vast majority I found rather unflattering on me once made, but alas, such is the plight of a sewer.  One of those many makes have been pants/trousers.  I’ve been searching rather dutifully for the last year or so for my version of the perfect pants pattern.  I think I finally found them!  I’d been making item after item and was feeling rather defeated and disappointed with my makes which were primarily from the Big Four patterns (McCall, Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick).  I know that pattern alterations are often called for, and it’s one of the many benefits of sewing your own clothes, but I simply have been at my wits end when even the simplest of patterns have been requiring a great deal of alterations.  In my quest, I decided to look more at the indie pattern makers, as I’ve found that the fit of their patterns tend to be more refined, as they do way more pattern testing and take into account things like curves and the fact that not everyone is the same cookie cutter size and shape.

PROJECT DETAILS:

TROUSERS – Modified Sammi Woven Pants from Style Arc – I love pockets, and unfortunately the pattern did not come with pockets.  I modified the front pattern piece for side front pockets and created two additional pattern pieces.  One for the pocket facing and the second pocket lining.  It was a simple and quick modification that took a matter of minutes.  In all this is a fairly quick and easy sew and is designed for an intermediate sewer.  My only issue I ran into was based on the finished measurements, the size I cut was actually still too big.  I had to alter my pants a full size down.  My next pair of these will be in a full size smaller.  The great benefit to this is that Style Arc also provides you with the size above and below the size you purchase too, so you wind up with three sizes to either modify up or down depending on how things are fitting.

FIT – The fit of this pattern is the real winner.  These were created in the classic traditional work trouser silhouette, which elongates your legs and provides an instant slimming look.  The waist band is curved so that the back waist gap is almost non-existent and back pattern piece includes darts.

FABRIC – This delicious pebble double crepe woven fabric has been in my stash for quite some time and came from Michael Levine.  It’s a nice heavier medium weight crepe, with such a beautiful drape.  I only had 2 and 1/4th yards of it, but thankfully it was 60” wide and with a little pattern tetris, I was able to eek out these pants with just a smidgeon of fabric leftover. The buttons came from Mood Fabrics.

STYLE: Heels from Nine West, Top from ASOS, Earrings from Ankara & Lace.

Recycled Denim, Classic Coverall

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure…..

My latest make was inspired by an actual dumpster dive.  A fashion company that I was recently working for was throwing out bags upon bags of scrap denim.  One of my favorite sew sisters Alexis Bailey pointed out to me not too long ago my love for denim, and it only seemed right that I take that denim love and run amuck with it!  The results was a project that I truly had so much fun making.  This entire project right down to the very end, was a labor of love.  I spent weeks sewing together these scraps of fabric denim during the height of audit and tax season.  The results is my modern take on the classic oversized coverall.  I’m a Southern Florida girl who has lived in Los Angeles, California for almost twelve years now (April 30th will be my 12th anniversary!), but I will never lose my Southern roots.  I grew up in a little town where men wore coveralls all the time as part of their blue collared jobs, and this was my nod to them.

PROJECT DETAILS:

COVERALLS – A modified KWIK SEW 3389  – I took an amazing tip from the fabulous Tabitha Sewer in that I thought about what I wanted to make and saw beyond the pattern on the cover to use it as the spring board for the design in my head.

STYE: Heels from DSW, Sunglasses are prescription shades from my optometrist. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: by the amazing Dragon Mike