Snow Leopard Bikini (Evie La Luve Maxine)

Helloooo! It's tricky to find a location to photograph a bikini so I really wanted to photograph this one while I was on my cruise--what better spot than on a ship in the middle of the ocean?

This is my second suit made using Spoonflower's Sport Lycra, and the second using a design by Peacoquette! My Beverly bikini is also Spoonflower, using Peacoquette's gorgeous tropical palm print. The bottoms of this suit are also the same as that Beverly suit--I used the Evie la Luve Maxine bottoms for both. I love the high rise, full coverage front, and cheeky back of this pattern. I don't actually think I would love it for underwear but it makes a great high-waisted bikini bottom!  It's easy to use an underwear pattern for swim by adding a full lining and swim, not lingerie, elastic. (Here's a tutorial on how to do it from Ohhh Lulu, but it's really not hard!)

The top is a simple wrap top that I traced off of an old American Apparel bikini top I purchased in maybe 2008? The bulk of the top is just making miles and miles of strapping! The "cups" are triangles with side pleats, and then there is a bunch of string holding it all together. It is as confusing as you would expect to put it on! I always have to try a few ways before I get it right, made more confusing by the fact that it was originally advertised as one of those wear-it-multiple-ways things. It's comfortable to wear and flattering on a small bust, and very simple to make.

At this point, I'm pretty good for swimwear, I think... at least until my next cruise!


ps: it seems like my bernina doesn't have a three-step zig zag? i used this wavy stitch which works similarly but i don't prefer the look, i like the zig zag more. anyone with a bernina 153?

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#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Preparing your Fabric (M7684)

Welcome to week one of the sewing part of the Royal Wedding Sewalong! By this point you should have your pattern (in my case, McCall's 7684), fabric, and notions... we're ready to start.

Gather all your fabric and first, before you do anything else, make sure to wash it! I had a lot of questions about if I always make a muslin, and the answer is no. But do I always wash my fabric? Yes! Always! My general rule is to launder your fabric however you intend to launder your garment in the future, so if you want it to be wash-and-wear, wash your fabric in the laundry machine, if you plan on dry cleaning your dress, you could dry clean your fabric.

I have three layers to my dress--an outer poly chiffon and a nude cotton voile I'm using as both a lining and an interlining. All three are getting chucked in the washing machine and then the cottons will be dried in the dryer to shrink them as much as they will shrink. When the dress is complete, I'll be able to wash it in the washing machine and hang it to dry.

Once your fabric is dry and pressed, we can start to cut out our pattern pieces! Use this chart from the instructions to determine which pieces you'll need:

This dress has a lot of mix-and-match options, so you'll only need, for example, one of the two bodice fronts. The skirt lengths are all on one pattern pieces, but you can cut the skirt to the view you've chosen, the cut lines are marked on the skirt pattern pieces. You can cut out all the pattern pieces if you think you'll use them all eventually, or just the ones you need, and don't forget, if you made a muslin last week, and made a bunch of changes to it, don't use the original pattern piece! You may want to consider using your muslin, disassembled, as your pattern (as long as the pieces haven't been warped). I'm using my altered paper pattern pieces, since I clipped a lot into the seamlines of my muslin.

On the instructions sheet of your pattern, you'll see that there is a little chart showing how to lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric.

 Here is the layout for view A, the short view that I'm making. There are a lot of permutations shown here, but it's basically suggesting how to lay out your pattern pieces depending on fabric width and chosen size. The first set is for 45" wide fabric in small sizes, the second sew for 45" wide fabric in large sizes, and the second two are for small and large sizes on 60" wide fabric.

These cutting layouts can be a bit confusing so I'll try and walk through a few examples.

The top row (small sizes on 45" fabric) show two separate sections of fabric. On the left, the fabric is folded in half lengthwise (see where it says FOLD on the bottom, and both selvedges together at the top) so that the front skirt and front bodice can be cut on the fold. Other pattern pieces are fit around those two pieces, which are important because they need that fold. On the right, the fabric is laid flat (see, the word SELVAGE at top and bottom) because it's most efficient fabric-wise to cut the back and side front skirt panels individually instead of cutting both at once through a folded piece of fabric.

The third row (small sizes on 60") has a third option: rather than just folded or flat fabric, it's folded at an offset from the center. You can see that on the right; the diagram still has FOLD at the bottom, but it has a staggered top and some pattern pieces shown just on that one layer that sticks out.

I sometimes follow this, and sometimes do not. In this case, I have a lot of pretty wide, directional fabric and I'm doing my own thing. I think if you are a beginner to printed patterns, it's smart to follow the pattern layout--it should ensure that all of your pattern pieces fit onto the fabric allowance the pattern calls for! Pin your pattern pieces ensuring that they are on grain.

If your fabric is folded accurately, the pieces cut on the fold (front bodice and front skirt) will be on grain if they are on the fold.

For the other pieces, ensure that the grainline marking (it says GRAINLINE right on it) is parallel to the fold or selvedge (whichever is closest and easier to measure :). Here the grainline is just at the end of the ruler, and it is 5" from the fold all the way down its length, so you know it is parallel.

Once your pieces are all pinned down nicely, cut carefully around the lines that correspond with the size you've chosen!

Do the same for lining.

All your fabric is cut and it's time to move on to marking. This little chart on the instructions sheet shows all the markings under "notches and symbols" and some of these need to be marked by notching, and some by marking with a pencil.

Since you have your scissors handy from cutting out all your pieces, clip your notches--this means that wherever you see triangles on the seamline, clip a tiny bit into the seam allowance like so:

Here there are two triangles so I've made two little snips, just to the apex of the triangle.

Wherever you see a mark on your pattern, mark your pattern pieces in your preferred manner--I've always used a little fabric pencil and the pin method. Poke your pin directly through both layers of fabric exactly where the mark is:
 Then peel the fabric open and mark right where the pin pokes through.
I don't actually know if I learned this somewhere, or if I made it up, but it is described in my 1963 McCall's Sewing Book, so it's a legitimate way to do this, even if it feels to me like cheating. Finally, all my pattern pieces are cut in lining, interlining, and fashion fabric, and marked. Step one of prep is done, it's time to get out my sewing machine.

I need to attach my interlining to my fashion fabric. If you are making view D with the lace-overlay bodice, you'll be doing this too, but if you are using an opaque fabric this is unnecessary. What I'm doing is just basting (that's sewing with a long stitch length, either by hand or machine) the outer fabric to the interlining at a 1/2" seam allowance, so that we can treat the two layers of fabric as one going forward.  I'm using my walking foot, which is great for this type of thing:

And the longest stitch length my machine has:

This stabilizes lighter fabric and/or provides opacity to sheer fabrics such as mine. The only pieces I'm interlining are the front and back bodice and waistline pieces, for opacity, and the sleeve straps, for structure--I want the skirt to be more sheer, so no interlining there! Here's what the basting stitches look around the edge of the back shoulder:

If you aren't using an interlining, you'll want to staystitch your neckline and armscyes. This ensures the fabric doesn't stretch or warp as you handle it. Follow the instructions regarding direction of staystitching and use a basting stitch at a 1/2" seam allowance so it is invisible when you sew up the garment. It will look just the same as the picture above when you are done.

Next week we'll move on to construction and get this pile of flat pieces into three dimensions!

As always, feel free to comment below with any questions, or send me an email at!


ps: this is the most boring week. haha

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#RoyalWeddingSewAlong My Muslin & Fit Adjustments (McCall's 7684)

Missed my 90,000 instagram stories? Lucky for you I also took a bunch of photos! Bonus: no rambling.

Muslin 1:

 Okay! This is my starting point, a straight size 12. When I selected my size using the finished garment measurements, I was between sizes 10 and 12, and since it's always easier to take in than to let out, I went with the 12. As you can see it's large all over! I also noticed it's long on me--the waist band pattern has the waist mark just at the bottom of the band, and my natural waist is somewhere in the middle of the waistband. However, I like how the bust darts are hitting, and the volume of the cup, so this pattern, though large, is looking promising overall!

Muslin 2:

I decided to start with the simplest thing, taking in the side seams, straight up and down. I took in the side seams at about 1/4", making the circumference 1" smaller all around. The waistband is now snug but not restricting, and the bottom of the waistband is now resting right at my natural waist, just where it should be. The waistband being where it should be is really emphasizing that the bodice is much too long, though. In the side photo, you can see that the shoulder straps are practically floating off into the sky! However, if I take up the straps, I know that will change the level of the neckline and bust and I really like those as they are, so in the next muslin, I'll take height not out of the shoulders, but the waist.

Muslin 3:
Much better already! I took a horizontal tuck out of the front and back bodice pieces, about 3/4". There is still some bunching at the back, but I think that will be pulled out by the skirt. We'll see!

Here is what my front bodice pattern piece looks like now--I sliced off the bottom seam allowance and shifted it up 3/4". I sliced off 1/4" from the side seam. I redrew the dart legs to the new dart leg endings (which were shifted up with the seam allowance). Full disclosure: for accuracy, what you should really do is remove all seam allowances, make modifications, then add back seam allowances. That is why I cut off the seam allowance and moved it upwards, rather than just cutting it off and moving it up. I'm a cheater.

At this point, I am loving the front fit and briefly considered just taking in the side seams under the armpits, narrowing to nothing at the waist. If I didn't have y'all looking over my shoulder, I would have just done that and have called it a day! But! But! I knew I really ought to be a better example and was what was needed really less space under the armpit? No. This is what was needed:

An armhole dart to resolve a gaping armhole! Not so different than just taking a wedge out of the side seam, but definitely not exactly the same either. I transferred this armscye dart onto my flat pattern, and rotated it into the waistline dart. This made my dart huge and made me really nervous, so I sewed it up really quick and whoa whoa whoa I would have needed something from What Katie Did to fill out those pointy pointy bust darts. I also noticed some neckline gaping--I had taken too much out of the armscye, in addition to making my bust darts too wide. I didn't take pictures of this muslin, muslin 3.5, it was simply too distressing--it is on my instagram feed though, modeled by my dress form, if you must see it for yourself. I do have lots of photos of the patterning process though, since it's a little difficult to describe:

Here I drew in the dart lines, transferring them from the armscye of the muslin to the armscye of the pattern, all the way to the point of the waist dart.

I cut through the center of the armscye and waist darts, to but not through the dart point. I rotated the pattern around the dart points so that the two legs of the armscye dart were overlapped. This opens up the waist dart--a lot.

 Retraced and redrew the armscye curve. Then I made a truly disastrous muslin.

Final muslin:

For this final version, I reset after my dramatic pointy darts and made a more modest armscye dart. I rotated that into the waist dart, but also overlapped the waist dart legs very slightly (about 1/4") since I noticed a bit of extra fullness through the bust point, beyond the obvious pointiness, I mean, on the dart rotated muslin 3.5 (this is similar to how one does a small bust adjustment, if you were wondering). This combination of armscye dart rotated into waist dart and slight overlap is visible in this photo of the back of the altered pattern--the front is obscured with washi tape, my preferred pattern alteration tape due to repositionability! :)

In the first armscye dart rotation, remember that the legs were overlapped (so they looked like one  line). I took out about half the dart width at the armscye. 

 I also overlapped the tip of the waist dart--here you can see two dots just to the left of the circled cross that indicates the bust apex. That's actually the tip of the dart, cut in half!

From the back you can see the way the two darts are interacting. The darker, near 90* angle is comprised of the side leg of the armscye dart and the side leg of the waist dart. The lighter, almost 180* angle underneath is the center front leg of the armscye and waist darts. The area just to the right of the bust point that forms a little polygon is being removed from the pattern--just a little bit of fabric over the bust. (Hope you were paying attention in geometry. Also, sewing is S.T.E.M. if your school district is wondering.)

The front of my bodice fits smoothly over the bust with no pulling, there's no gaping along the neckline or shoulder in front or back, and the waist hits just where it should. Could I continue tweaking the fit? Yes, endlessly. But I think this is looking pretty good and it feels comfortable. The only thing I will be keeping an eye on is back length--on my final version, I'll pin on the skirt and see if it pulls it down and smooths it out. If not, I may shave a bit more off horizontally at center back tapering to nothing at the side seam.

To recap: muslin 2 took out excess width, muslin 3 took out excess height, (muslin 3.5 gave me extremely pointy darts), and muslin 4 resolved a gaping armhole and a bit of extra fabric over the bust all in one. Phew! After all this muslin, you can imagine I'm pretty excited to cut into my fashion fabric... that'll be next week!

One last note: don't be surprised if this is the most detailed post of the bunch; once you get your fit nailed down, the rest is smooth sailing!


ps: these are all in black and white for two reasons. first, it's less distracting! second, wildly different lighting in my room over the course of several evenings! 

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#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Choosing a Size & Fit Adjustments FAQ (McCall's 7684)

Welcome to the first proper post in my McCall's 7684 sewalong! Today I'll be going over the important first steps in making any dress: determining your size and fitting a bodice muslin. I have a lot of ground to cover, so I'm going to start with a little FAQ and then later this week, I'll walk you through my process for this project in particular. I've been working on my muslin and it's looking good!

What are your measurements?
I am currently about 34" bust, 27-28" waist, 39" hip and 5'7". (Are we body twins? Let me know!)

How do you choose what size to start with? 
If I had to give new sewers one piece of advice, it would be: Ignore the body measurements on the back flap of the pattern and use the completed garment measurements! I love love love sewing with "Big 4" patterns--that's Butterick, McCalls, Vogue, Simplicity--but a lot of people complain that they never fit correctly. In fact, all of these patterns are based on a very strict industry standard block, and therefore, are a lot more consistent than sewing indie brands (especially if you sew from a bunch of different indies, all using different blocks). You just need to crack the code! Here is the trick: do not use the body measurements chart on the back of the envelope. Instead, use the completed garment measurements, located on the relevant pattern pieces. Using your body measurements, desired ease, and completed garment measurements, you can easily select a size that will give the look you are after. How much ease you want is up to you, but a good rule of thumb for a formal dress in a woven fabric (like this one!) is an inch or two of ease in the bust and 1/2"-1 1/2" in the waist (a bit more in larger sizes). This is all personal preference though; you may like your dresses to be skintight, or a bit looser. (Here's a craftsy article on ease.)

If, for example, your waist measures 28 inches:

According to the body measurement chart, you are a size 14 at the waist. The finished waist measurement for a size 14 garment is 32", or 4" of ease, much more than the 1" of ease preferred for a formal garment. Wow! Find the waist pattern piece and look for the finished garment measurements. If you know you want only 1" of ease, look for the size that has a finished garment measurement of 29". You may want to start with that size. Or, you may way to start with the bust, since the waist is usually easier to modify...

Another hypothetical, if, for example, your bust measures 34 inches:

According to the body measurement chart, you are a size 12 bust. The finished bust measurement for a size 12 garment is 36 1/2", meaning 2 1/2" of ease, slightly more than the 1-2" of wearing ease preferred for a fitted garment. The finished garment measurement at the bust of a size 10 is 35, however, which is right at 1" of design ease, so you might want to start with a size ten and modify from there. (The bust finished measurement is often located on the back of the envelope in addition to on the front bodice pattern piece, so that's a good place to start if you suspect you will be between pattern envelope ranges, FYI!)

Finally, McCall's patterns, unless stated otherwise are drafted for a B cup (I'm pretty sure). If you have a significantly larger or smaller bust than that, you'll likely have to do a small or large bust adjustment. (also, this is a b cup using the +5 method of bra sizing. if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's your regular victorias secret size and ignore this. if you are saying "thank you allie for this helpful clarification, i wish more people would clarify what type of bra sizing they meant" then I KNOW RIGHT?)

Additionally, if you have a significantly larger or smaller bust than a B cup, you  may run into problems selecting your pattern using bust size: imagine similarly sized women, one bustier than the other, both selecting a shirt based on bust measurement alone--the smaller chested woman's shirt will be too small and the larger chested woman's shirt will be too large, right? To counteract this, you can skip using your full bust measurement and instead use the "high bust measurement." This is not something I do for myself, but you can read how to do this measurement and how/why it works here.

Do you make a muslin for every project?
No, just for important projects like this. I generally only make a bodice muslin for a full-skirted project like this dress.

How do you know what fabric to use for your muslin?
Pick a fabric as similar in stretch and weight to your final fabric as possible. This can be tricky!

Any other muslin tips?
Use a contrasting thread (I like to use those weird bobbin colors I don't anticipate needing again soon) and a long stitch length to make unpicking easy!

Once you've chosen a size and made a preliminary muslin, how do you know what adjustments to make?
Look for pull/drag lines on your muslin--they often point to the locations you need to adjust. Also, anywhere uncomfortable, either physically (i.e. smushed chest, armpits digging in) or mentally (i.e. will be worried about bra straps showing all. night.).

How did you learn to make fit adjustments?
A lot of trial and error! Try checking out a book on fitting (for example, Fit for Real People) from your library, or purchasing a craftsy class on fit for a deep dive. Also, googling the issue you have will usually bring up a lot of blog posts on the topic--that's the great part about the sewing community online!

What are your common bodice adjustments?
After you have to make the same adjustments across multiple patterns, you can begin to anticipate them--or perhaps you already know you are very petite and will have to shorten everything, or have a large bust and will have to do an FBA (full bust adjustment) on everything. I am short-waisted so I often have to shorten bodices. I have a small bust so I sometimes make an SBA (small bust adjustment) on indie patterns, which are often drafted for larger bust sizes than Big 4 patterns. You'll see at least one of these alterations on my muslin--check back here later this week!

How do you know when you are done adjusting?
Listen, I'm all for perfection when it comes to spring afternoons or gin and tonics, but sewing? Nope. You are done adjusting whenever you feel comfortable in your muslin and you think it meets your standards for fit, whatever those might be. This is supposed to be a challenge, yes, but it's also supposed to be fun!

Any other FAQs you can think about? No question too big or small... I'm here to help! let me know in the comments and I'll try and respond and/or add them here :)


ps: phew!

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#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Style Inspo & Suitable Fabrics (McCall's 7684)

As part of the Royal Wedding Sew Along, I'm excited to do something a little different than what I usually do--all finished outfits, all the time! Typically y'all see inspirational collages and to-do lists and then in a few weeks, a completed garment--as if I had Cinderella's fairy godmother toiling away in my sewing room. Doing a structured sew along means I'll be going slowly and taking y'all with me as I sew McCall's 7684 week by week.
This is a David Tutera dress with a bunch of mix-and-matchable options: a high square neck or a v neck, a few different lengths including a high-low option, and a plain, sash, or cummerbund-style waistband. I've chosen the shorter length for my skirt, the sash waistband, and the v-neck (and I'll be chatting next week about whether I decide to lower it slightly or not! I haven't decided yet).

I'm taking inspiration from the elaborate dresses and fascinators worn to British weddings and incorporating a bit of drama into my dress with an exaggerated bow waist and, I hope, a detachable bow at the shoulder. While I won't be wearing any wild hats or fascinators, I want to incorporate that sense of fun into the dress itself! My fabric is semi-sheer, so I think a dual-layered full skirt, along with the bow sash and fitted waist, will give it a slight vintage look. It's also preeeeetty bright, so definitely a spring look!

M7684 suggests taffetta, brocade, shantung, or satin, but this is one of those patterns that could be made in almost anything with a bit of structure, from a suiting wool (for a jumper look with that pleated skirt and a turtleneck underneath? so cute) to a cotton print. I'm keeping my fabric a surprise for now (although I do have it picked) but I think you'll agree it will make a fun, springy dress perfect for a Royal Wedding or a day at the races! Here are a few of my favorite fabrics for this style; click through to the pinterest board for the full fabric details and links!

Will you be sewing along? I hope so! Not sure? Check the McCall's blog for all the details and say yes to the dress (sewalong)... ;)


ps: i. can't. wait.

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Spring/Summer Sewing Plans

It may be raining and gloomy outside today, but it got up to 70 degrees this past week and so I have spring sewing on my mind! Actually, I started my spring sewing extra early this year because I'm going on a cruise(!) and wanted to make a few things for the trip, so confession: I have already completed a few of the things on this list.

You may notice there's a lot of Sewaholic on this list. I own a lot of Sewaholic patterns, but haven't gotten around to making many of the ones in my stash, despite having loved the ones I have made. This spring I'd like to rectify that!

In various degress of completion, here's my spring sewing list:

My white Gingers (full length)

White Ginger Shorts - I'm not a big shorts wearer but I bought a pair of jean shorts from Grana last spring and ended up wearing them a lot. It's not my favorite thing to style, but they are so practical. I think I'll get a lot of use out of a white version as well! These are finished (you may have seen them on my instagram stories) with details/photos to come!

Sewaholic Pendrell - I have already made one version of the Sewaholic Pendrell in a total mish mash of seersuckers left over from a bunch of other projects, details/photos pending. I love the fit right out of the envelope so I think this will be a nice, easy pattern to sew a few versions of, and the different ruffle options provide some variation so it's not just the same top over and over again. I'd like to make at least one more, in a lighter, floatier fabric like a rayon.

Sewaholic Granville - I made a blue oxford Granville here and want to make a couple more: one in eyelet (I have the fabric all ready and waiting) and one in another color of oxford with a rounded peter pan collar (maybe pink, or white).

Carolyn Pajamas - These have been cut out of nice Cotton and Steel flamingo lawn and ready to sew for, um, a long time. I want to make a little three-piece set with a long sleeve Carolyn top, Carolyn shorts (both cut out already) and a little Ogden Cami to swap in when it's extra hot. (Previous Carolyn/Ogden pjs here and here.)

Sewaholic Oakridge - A Sewaholic pattern I've never made! I'm not sure if I'll actually end up making an Oakridge or some sort of Oakridge/Granville hybrid, but I definitely want a top with a bow neck. I do think I prefer the higher neck of the Granville, so I may do some creative combining.

Sewaholic Lonsdale - Ashley was nice enough to send me her old copy of this OOP pattern last summer and even I ordered a stretch twill to make it in. Tragically, it was much too thick and I ended up using it to make a Rae (duh) but I still want to make this dress!

Trench Coat (McCall 5525 or Deer and Doe Luzerne) - A classic tan trench was on my winter capsule list as well--a trench is really a year-round garment in NC :) Still deciding on whether to remake the Deer and Doe Luzerne or branch out and make the super-classic McCall's 5525. I also have the trench from the Japanese coat book on my list for #menswearmakenine. That one is more classic so it would probably be good to make the McCall's one for myself and as practice before I try and decipher Japanese instructions for the men's version...

I also have a few more things that I've been busily working on for my cruise (a couple bikinis and some things for Alex) that I'll be sharing over the next few weeks! For now though--head over to instagram! Although there isn't a nice new garment to share there is... a giveaway! I'm running #menswearmakenine giveaways all week--you won't want to miss it!


ps: currently on my cutting table: two bikini bottoms, one pair men's shorts, one men's shirt, one woman's shirt, and one tank top. phew!

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