Blah Black Knit Dress

I don’t know what I was expecting, but this dress just turned out . . . blah. It’s McCall’s 7349, which I have made and loved before. The differences from the last one are:

  • Short sleeves
  • High-low skirt (my attempt at making it less blah)
  • Lower neckline w/ band instead of facing

Maybe it needs to be shorter? (But here’s the thing–I dislike exposing the skin in my legs to the subway seats, so I tend to only wear shorter skirts in cold weather, when I’ll be wearing tights anyway.) Maybe it needs a more interesting neckline? Fabric with less drape? More flare in the skirt? Exciting accessories??


(Kitty cameo!)

I don’t know, but I think I’m done messing with it. The fabric is some bouncy, spandex-y stuff that came in a kit for a skirt. I discovered after cutting out half the skirt pieces that there wasn’t enough fabric (grr!!!), so turned it into this instead.


To be fair, the dress is really comfortable and cool, and will protect my skin from the subway while not flying up in a stiff breeze. Plus, it’ll be easy to add layers to it (such as the jacket/cardigan I’m knitting!). So I may end up wearing it a lot this summer despite my current lack of enthusiasm. We’ll see.


Speaking of knitting, I’m joining this year’s Outfit Along! I confess, I’m using a knitting project already in progress rather than starting a new one, but my excuse is that I’m a beginner and was already well into my first top when the OAL was announced. I’m afraid I’d lose my momentum if I set is aside for a couple of months. So the garments I’ll be making are:

  • Evening Spencer Jacket in red cotton
  • Quarter-circle maxi skirt (self-drafted) in a black linen/cotton blend (hopefully with some embroidery if I still feel inspired when I get to that stage)

Another Halloween Handbag

Finally, it’s the black purse that’s been on my to-do list for about a year. This is another Date Night bag, and the fabrics are the same as the ones I used for my Halloween Essential Wristlet.

Modifications from the pattern were:

  • Make the front pocket a zipper pocket (with a horizontal opening this time)
  • Add an interior zipper pocket
  • Replace the strap with loops and D rings

Not much else to say about this one!

2017-04-22 19.44.072017-04-22 21.51.472017-04-22 21.53.572017-04-22 21.58.18

Oh, yes–I picked up this delightful skull charm at the Texas Renaissance Festival last year. Isn’t it great?

Regency Dance Weekend 2017

I’m combining these two dresses in one post since they’re essentially the same dress in different fabrics. Both were worn at this year’s Regency Dance Weekend in Salem, MA.

The pattern is Laughing Moon #126, and both dresses have the View A bodice front with the skirts cut on the short side for dancing. (Possibly too short–but, speaking from experience, I much prefer that to tripping over my hem all evening.)


The first dress is my wearable muslin, made out of an old duvet cover. I was so pleased with the fit that I decided it was useable as a dress for the first night and for the daytime tea on Sunday. It has View B puff sleeves with detachable long undersleeves (as in, they’re attached by whipstitching). For daywear, I also added a chemisette, spencer, cap, bonnet, and shawl.

The second dress was made from a sheer chiffon sari (a gift from a former colleague) and white cotton lawn, and uses the View C puff sleeves. The sleeves are unlined, the bodice is both flatlined and lined (this made sewing that shifty chiffon much, much easier!), and the skirt is a lawn underskirt with a shorter split overskirt made from the sari. I loved using the sari–it’s just instantly more impressive with all that nice embroidery! Plus, it has built-in matching trim (that trim at the neckline and sleeve bands is cut off a different part of the sari). I wasn’t going to attempt to make self-fabric ties from chiffon, so the ties are a coordinating ribbon, which I’m pleased to say was a simple substitute (and I’d be tempted to do the same for future dresses just to avoid the extra work of making the ties).


I’m also wearing a high-waisted petticoat under the purple dress, but I don’t have any photos of that because it’s the type that’s held up with just straps instead of a full bodice (like this one). I used the skirt from the dress pattern, but didn’t cut the front slashes, left an opening in the center back, and threaded a drawstring through a waistband. It’s got a couple of rows of cording and tucks at the hem to help it stand out a bit. The straps are just wide twill tape.

All in all, I really like this drop-front dress design. It’s kind of a wrap dress, with all the easy, flattering fitting that entails, plus you can get in and out of it yourself (though it’s always nice to have another pair of hands to make a neat bow in the back).

Long Time No See

As much as I hate summer, I confess the warmer weather is causing my thoughts to drift to making lightweight clothing. I have to take a look at my closet to see what should be retired, but I’m pretty sure the main lack in my wardrobe is summer tops. (That said, I’m already planning three new skirts [which I realllly don’t need, ha].)

I would like some tops with button closures and I’ve bookmarked a few patterns . . . but I’ve only had pretty disastrous results with my buttonholer (and forget handmade buttonholes). However, I know I read somewhere in the last few months that other people really like the buttonholer for the Featherweight, so maybe I need to try it again? Maybe it’s okay for shirting and the problem was trying it with canvas?

Anyway, this blog was supposed to be a chronicle of things I made and I haven’t been actually updating it because taking photos is such a pain. I’ll just accept that I’m never going to photograph the plain black turtleneck I made months ago (though it’s a very useful wardrobe staple). Aside from that, I’ve mostly been working on two Regency dresses in preparation for last weekend’s Regency Dance Weekend in Salem (write-up on those to be posted shortly).

Now that that’s done, my tentative sewing queue currently includes:

  • Ball/party dress for Pawling and Pinewoods dance camps
  • Short-sleeve top(s) (still deciding on pattern(s))
  • Short-sleeve dress (probably another M76349)
  • Black purse
  • Knit maxi skirt
  • Linen maxi skirt
  • Peasant skirt (look, this will be useful for the ren fair, so it’s totally necessary!)

Further out:

  • Costume for Pinewoods?
  • New top for JC Ball (stretch velvet)
  • New costume for ren fair?

I’ve also started knitting! I’ve finished two pussy hats, an Outlander-inspired capelet (just in time for warmer weather, haha), and am making good progress on a lace shawl. Of course, I really want to make a sweater . . . but not sure if I’m up to that quite yet. Find me on Ravelry under Sewfall.

Springtime Goth Dress

Okay, it’s not anywhere near spring yet, but that title describes this dress pretty well! I had to snatch up this fabric when it went on sale over the holidays since it’s a cotton/spandex jersey with a fun print that you usually only see in quilting cottons. Then I was a little disappointed when it arrived since I’d thought the background was gray, but it’s actually a grayish pink/lavender (I even emailed Michael Levine to make sure I’d gotten the right fabric, and they’ve now updated the page to reflect the actual colors–very much appreciated!). However, on further reflection, I’ve become fond of it as kind of a “stealth goth” print: at first glance, you see the pink and the large sprays of flowers…but then at second glance, you notice it’s also full of bats and cobwebs. Perfect for spring! (It’s also very soft and cozy–I could definitely see making PJs out of it.)


(Please disregard my so-so pattern matching on the center front bodice–it’s hard to do with fabric that doesn’t press well!)

The pattern is McCall’s 7160 (a Christmas present–thanks, Dad!), view C without the overlay. Note the pattern comes with pockets! And they’re the kind that are attached to the waistband–this makes them much more stable (great for knits), but means you can’t do up the side seams last, which is what I prefer to do to make fitting easy.

As a consequence, I see some fitting issues to fix, but honestly, they’re probably not enough to make me actually unpick that waistband (I serged 1/4-inch elastic directly into it–ugh, no way I’m unpicking that). The only changes I made to this pattern were to shorten the skirt a little, give it a slight high-low hem, and to not actually hem it, just serge the bottom of the skirt. (I hate hemming circle skirts, though I love the way they look.) I also put elastic into the shoulder seams like any knit top, but I don’t remember whether the instructions say to do that or not (admittedly, I didn’t really check).


Still, I’m generally very pleased with this look and fit, and I could definitely see doing this with a lace overlay as a special-occasion dress. (I’m really into making ballgowns out of stretch fabric at the moment!)

Quilted, Princess-seamed Dress

Hello, 2017. I have been sewing in the last few months, but the shorter days mean it’s really difficult to get good photos. Luckily, I got my sister to snap a couple photos of this dress while we were visiting our parents in New Mexico over the holidays.


(We were at Black Mesa Winery. I went home with some Santa Fest.)

The pattern is McCall’s 7349 and I looove it. I love that it’s a fit-and-flare shape with no waist seam, no closures, and princess seams on both the front and back. Raglan sleeves and no waist seam means fitting is super easy–though I actually did only minor adjustments (nipping in the waist a bit, letting out over the hips). Comfy, flattering, easy to make…what’s not to love? I did try to extend the sleeves to full length, but it wasn’t entirely successful since, um, I ran out of fabric. Oh well! (Is this what’s called “bracelet-length”? Let’s pretend that was what I was going for.)

I also left off the neckband and faced the neckline with some fun quilting cotton to finish it:


Speaking of quilting, the main fabric is a quilted-look knit (rayon/poly/spandex). I picked it because it has a lot of body and structure, and it worked perfectly for this dress. It’s also quite cozy.

That said, I’m definitely considering making this pattern again–sleeveless, floor-length, lower neckline–in a shimmery spandex for a ball gown that can be easily packed for the two dance camps I’ll be attending this year. No more hauling around a bulky garment bag!

Spooky Branches Skirt

This skirt was not in my plans, but when I came across this amazing fabric (Wicked Eve – Dark Tree Branches from Timeless Treasures) I knew I had to do something with it! (This is the one with that skull selvage I posted to Instagram.) I didn’t use a pattern–just drafted a front and two back pieces with a total waist size about twice my waist measurement, flared it at the bottom as much as possible (not much with 45-in fabric, haha), and gathered it to a narrow waistband.


Of course, it has pockets!


(Isn’t Bailey so helpful in these pics??)

It closes with an invisible zip in the center back and the bottom is trimmed with some black eyelet trim from my stash. Fun thing I learned for this project: thread belt loops to hold my grosgrain ribbon belt in place (I followed this tutorial–super easy!).


(Of course, my hand is covering the belt loop in this photo…sorry! It’s really dark in here and the belt loop probably wouldn’t have shown up anyway.)

Initially, I wanted to make this skirt shorter with a ruffle at the bottom, but I decided to stick to simplicity to showcase the print (plus, I was a bit worried about the stiffness of the fabric). Now that it’s made up, I think it would’ve worked perfectly well as a Hollyburn, too (though I would redraft it without the center front seam–the print is busy enough that I don’t think there’s any need for matching, but I just don’t like a center front seam if I can avoid it).


(Cats: again, so helpful.)

I’d also originally planned to line the skirt with some poly lining material and decided not to since it’ll be more comfortable without it in the summer/spring (and I can still wear it with tights and a slip in the fall/winter). I felt very summer-goth for our unseasonably warm weather in my new skirt and cotton gauze peasant blouse. Plus, now I can use that lining fabric I bought for the tweed wool skirt that IS in my sewing plans….

Halloween Essential Wristlet

A tiny purse/wallet has been on my list for a while–something for traveling that will hold my phone, cards, and cash, but that doesn’t take up much space and will slip easily into my carryon. For a while I was looking at wallet patterns, but eventually I realized I really needed it to zip shut and, well, a simple zipper pouch just made the most sense to me. (I contemplated zip-around wallets, but it seemed like they would be awkward to open without possibly spilling cards everywhere….)

But, you may ask, you ended up just making a pouch with boxed corners, why did you buy a pattern? Aren’t there like a million free tutorials online?? Sure, but the Essential Wristlet pattern has a lot of great information and tips, especially if you’re relatively new to bag-making. And it turned out great!


I made the small boxed-corner version with a card pocket and these additions:

  • a zip pocket on the outside
  • a zip pocket on the inside
  • a second D ring on the other side so I can attached a cross-body strap (the hardware matches a long strap I’d made for another bag–hurray for mix-and-match straps)

To make the zip pockets, I followed the instructions from the Dottie Vintage Bag (I’m sure one could find a tutorial for that online, though!).


Here’s a look at the lining pieces with pockets before they were sewn up since you can’t really see them in the finished bag:


And how much do I love this fabric?


The outer is Riley Blake Lost & Found Halloween Newsprint Black and the lining is Timeless Treasures Gather Together Metallic Harvest Bias Plaid Orange Fabric (which doesn’t seem to be available anymore, alas).

The size is perfect–comfortably fits my iPhone 5 (in its case), keys, cards, cash, and maybe chapstick, but that’s it. I can’t wait to use it on my next trip!

Steampunk Denim Jacket

It’s a jacket made of denim…and that’s all the relationship this has to a traditional “jean jacket.” This has been on my to-do list for…maybe a year? And finally I did it!

For the pattern, I used Simplicity 8020, View A. Major changes from that pattern were to replace the buttons with a zipper and add a set of darts in the front since it was looking a bit boxy when I first tried it on. I made a lot of fitting adjustments to accommodate my narrow shoulders, but that isn’t a reflection of the pattern so much as it is how my body relates to the “standard” sizing. (With each project, I learn more about how to adjust the fitting and I’m pretty happy with my progress on this one.)


I love that the jacket looks tailored, yet is actually quite loose in the torso (which means it’s comfortable and will hopefully fit over bulkier tops).


The one thing I think I’d do differently if I made this again is to make the sleeves tapered or straight to the wrist. The ruffle is cute, but it leaves the forearms rather exposed–not so great if you’re wearing this for warmth. (Though this does mean I now have an excuse to get some of those scissors arm warmers from Sock Dreams….)

The jacked is unlined and all inside seams are finished with my serger, then pressed to one side and topstitched.


But of course the really exciting touch is the patches on the back.


Loki wants to know what the fuss is all about.

These are sold by MTthreadz on Etsy, and they have soooo many great patches! You can see from the photo above this one that I sewed these on–I did iron them on, but it didn’t seem like they would stay (especially since they’re so large and on an area that would see a lot of movement) so I stitched around the edges with my machine. I will definitely be picking up more patches for future projects.

On a related note, I’ve dived into fall/winter sewing. The main things I “need” for the next few months are:

  • Turtlenecks
  • Toiletries bag
  • Ballgown for November
  • Ren fair outfit

Other things I’m hoping to make:

  • Wool skirt
  • Long-sleeved knit dress
  • Clutch purse (I’m dying to make this one, but the instructions are awfully daunting)

Ah, so many plans!

Nahant Victorian Dance Weekend 2016

Hey, it’s my second dance getaway in one summer! This was three days in Nahant, MA, and costuming events included an evening party with informal dancing on Friday, a Belle Epoque ball on Saturday, and a concert/tea on Sunday. (That was followed by a promenade, but we had to scurry off early so I could catch a train back to New York that evening.)

Since we decided to go to this rather late, I concentrated on the two evening events and used some items I already had on hand…but since I’d been dying for an excuse to make late-Victorian evening dresses, I still couldn’t resist doing most of two new ensembles. (Fortunately, my Regency chemises worked fine under the gowns; when I have more time I’ll have to do up proper undergarments! And I just stuck with the same late-Victorian corset all three days.)

Friday evening I did 1880s bustle!

Shelby 6

(Why are my eyes closed in this otherwise lovely photo?!) The bodice is the TV464 Cuirass Bodice, with a hook-and-eye front closure instead of buttons. The overskirt is the Wash Overskirt, and everything else I fortunately already had (TV101 bustle, TV170 petticoat, TV261-R underskirt).


Had to attempt the awkward corset lean:

Shelby 4

For the Belle Epoque ball, I moved forward in time to the 1890s.

Shelby 3

Sadly, this is the ONLY photo I have of me wearing the finished dress! I’m still hoping one of the many people taking photos at the ball posts them sometime….

For this ensemble, I made the 1890s petticoat from TV170, the Laughing Moon #103 1890s Waist (and stuffed those giant sleeves with tulle!), and Past Patterns #208 Circular Skirt. Here’s a photo of the back that I posted on Instagram while it was a work in progress, since that’s where all the action is in the skirt.

For both the bodices, I pretty much ignored the bodice construction instructions and instead followed all those tutorials at that I listed before. So the insides ended up looking like this.

Neat. Just for completeness, here’s Day 3’s outfit:

Shelby 1

The only things I made in this photo are the underpinnings. (I did swap out the grosgrain ribbon on the hat, but I don’t think that “counts.”) The skirt is an antique walking skirt that was given to me (yes, I’m very lucky!) and the shirt is just a modern button up.

I left the weekend inspired to get to work on even more Victorian costumes, but I’ve got a lot of other stuff on my plate before another Victorian event comes around!