Sew Hayley Jane Subscription Box Review and Giveaway

Thanks to Sew Hayley Jane for providing a box for review and a box to give away!

Sew Hayley Jane recently reached out to me to do a little review here of her subscription boxes and since I know y'all love giveaways, how could I say no? She's been mailing these lovely dressmaking and craft boxes to UK sewists for a while now but she's just started shipping to the US (yay!) so now us Americans can get our grubby little mitts on her adorable boxes! There are three sizes available and this is the medium size, which contains 2.5 meters of dressmaking fabric, 4 fat quarters, and a bunch of little notions and gifts. The smaller box is the same but with 1 meter of fabric and 3 fat quarters, and the larger box has 5 fat quarters and up to 3.5 meters of dressmaking fabric--that's practically 4 yards, FYI--and also includes an indie sewing pattern!

In my box (the November edition) I had a lovely assortment of Christmassy fabrics with a red and grey theme--a pretty cotton poplin with a beautiful silky hand (back left in the box) and 4 coordinating fat quarters--some very pretty buttons destined for a Carolyn pajama top, about 2 yards of cotton lace trim, red Gutermann thread, a sweet donut magnetic pin cushion from Oh Sew Quaint, and some chocolates, not pictured because I ate them all. (Why is British chocolate so much better than American? Oops.)

Although this box is described as a "dressmaking and craft" subscription and therefore contains a mix of fabrics for craft and clothing, I can't help thinking that this box would be the perfect, perfect gift for a sewing mama. I think the fat quarters are intended to make little house goods--like a quilted table runner, for instance--but since the fabrics all coordinate, I imagine some adorable mommy and me looks coming out of these boxes, with mama getting a skirt for herself out of the dressmaking fabric and making some cute matching outfits for littles out of the fat quarters and trim. Lucky for me, I happen to know some babies and have a remarkable collection of children's patterns for someone with no children... but if you do have kids, this would be a wonderful box to get!

You can see all the things that subscribers have made with their boxes by searching #sewhayleyjanemakes on instagram and peek into previous boxes' contents by snooping the Sew Hayley Jane fabric care page. And good news! If you want to try out a Sew Hayley Jane box, follow me on instagram, and tag a friend in the comments of my Sew Hayley Jane post who you think would love a subscription to this box! One entrant will win the a Classic sized box--although not the same one I got! You'll have to wait and see what will be in yours... :)


ps: i love that the box supports indie companies, too--you should definitely go read this blog post from magnetic donut pincushion maker Oh Sew Quaint about her experience starting her own small business! so inspiring.

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Friendsgiving (Sewaholic Rae + Classic Capsule Plans)

Some of you may have seen my instagram post for day 10 of #bpsewvember, "Everyday," where I highlighted a favorite blogger of mine, girlsack (that's her, not me, below). No, I don't know about the name, either. She's no longer style blogging under that name but you can find her outfit posts from ten years ago all over pinterest and tumblr by searching "girlsack" (or on the girlsack board I just made here) and besides that J. Crew bubble necklace we all wore for 6 months, it's still so so good. (PSA: if you still wear your bubble necklace, retire it.)

My outfit (worn to an amazing Friendsgiving feast) is inspired by her signature breton stripes and a specific plaid skirt (J. Crew circa 2009? it's all over that pinterest board). This top was previously seen here two years ago and I think I've had this piece of plaid wool blend in my stash for even longer than that. I decided to finally pair it with a pattern! This is another Rae with a flat waistband, and you can all see how much I like the shape of this pattern because I braved 6 panels of (okay) plaid matching to make this. Not too much to say about this that wasn't said for my leopard version but this is such a wonderful staple pattern and I'm positive this won't be the last one--in fact, I've already ordered some navy twill for a plain navy one.

One of the things I admire about girlsack's style is that she relies on a small amount of classic pieces and is endlessly restyling a small selection of items--you know, like a real human--so you only need a few patterns for a complete girlsack-inspired wardrobe. I've put together a little collection of patterns to use as the basis of a "classic style" capsule, with a little mix of masculine and feminine and a whole lot of girlsack style. This is a lot of sewing, but it's all basics and I think I can get a big chunk of it done this winter and wear it year-round:

Blazer: I'm bad at wearing blazers but I aspire to be the kind of person who can just throw one over anything and look effortlessly put-together. I now have a navy knit blazer (B5926, it will be up on the blog next week I hope!) to match Alex's (S8528), and I think it's a good way to ease into it, especially since my decade-old J. Crew Jackie cardigans are falling apart and I need something to replace them. I'd love to make a second even more sweatshirty blazer out of heather grey french terry, either for myself or for Alex... doesn't that sound so nice? Would you make the lapels and accents (welt pockets, maybe?) out of the wrong side? I've also had a navy wool blazer on my to-sew list for. literallyever. and there are lots of woven blazer patterns to choose from depending on what style you like, but this one by Claire Schaeffer is the most classic I could find, and since it's Vogue you know it will have all the little details that make a blazer special.

Black skinny jeans: I have a round up of possibilities here if you are in the market for a jeans pattern, but my favorite hands down is the Ginger from Closet Case. I have a white pair and a dark denim pair, but I think it's time to add a black version. I've never owned a pair of black jeans before but my black ponte pants are looking pretty faded and I think it's time to replace them. I ordered some black stretch twill/denim from Hart's Fabric for this project. I'm thinking black topstitching and a gold button!

Oxford shirts: now that I've discovered glue stick technique for attaching collars, I'm a lot more enthusiastic about making a production line of collared shirts--it makes attaching the collar so much simpler! I love my short-sleeved gingham Granville and I'd like to make a few more with full-length sleeves and plackets and everything: one in chambray, one in white oxford and maybe with a slightly rounded not-quite-Peter-Pan collar, and one in blue oxford to replace my worn-out Ralph Lauren one. I've just ordered some 100% cotton oxford cloth from Stylish Fabrics and I'm waiting for it to arrive.

Full, mid-thigh skirts: Rae, duh... A navy skirt has literally been on my to-sew list for years and I've never made one! I'd also like to try making the shorter version of my wedding dress (Simplicity 5343) as a skirt, since I love love love those pleats. If you don't have a go-to pattern I think the new Patti Pocket skirt looks really promising, or you can always take my skirt class to make a classic, girly dirndl!

Bonus If-I-Have-Time Trench: there are a few trench patterns available now, and although my personal favorite is the Deer and Doe Luzerne, for this capsule I would go for a more classic one with all the tench details here. I have a copy of M5525 (tragically out of print, seen on Cashmerette here) that I've been wanting to make, so this one is my pick, but it's hard to get a hold of. The Named Isla is also perfect--super trad lines and all the bells and whistles you could ask for.

I haven't forgotten about my coat sewing plans, I promise! I'm still on the hunt for a perfect colorful coating and although the Eagle pattern isn't going towork out, I have a replacement pattern for my wool herringbone, also French: the Blousette Rose Ive. That pattern doesn't come with seam allowances included so I've been putting it off, but it should be a relatively simple sew once I get going.

Since I already have all of these patterns and almost all of them are tried and true favorites of mine, I really hope I can get some of this list knocked out. I also have big plans for menswear in the upcoming year so it may be all collared shirts, all the time around here, I really hope my blog doesn't get too boring with all these classics...! Dress lovers, I apologize in advance, but y'all know I'll never forsake my pink flouncy roots, and come spring it will be seersucker and ruffles and lace again, don't you worry...


ps: off topic but speaking of my wedding dress pattern i've recently had the idea to make a black silk (faille maybe?) version of the short variation to wear with my black lace jacket from the same pattern--basically the ultimate cocktail lbd, right??--and i don't know why i never thought of it before.

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Comfortable Cool (Simplicity 8528)

Alex dresses well and pretty simply--he has few pairs of chinos and a few pairs of jeans, a bunch of button down shirts, and a few cardigans, and that's what he wears most days. Guys wardrobes are so natural capsule-y, right? Despite the fact that I could make his whole wardrobe with about 5 patterns, men's patterns are so hard to come by! I have a few big 4 patterns and a few from Thread Theory, and I just got the new Liesl + Co. All Day shirt (I think this one has real potential!), and my general rule is to snap up any decent men's patterns I see, since they are few and far between!

There was obviously no question if I was going to buy Simplicity 8528--omg just look at that cover! It's amazing! When I showed it to Alex he was equally enthused. I thiiiink this is supposed to be used as a David S. Pumpkins thing (I have not seen that, so I'm not sure?) since it came out with the Halloween patterns and is called "Crazy Suit" but if you look past the wild prints it's a really decent unlined blazer pattern. I recently picked up a knit blazer pattern for myself and so the idea was already in my head; since there's basically no way a men's knit blazer pattern exists (correct me if I'm wrong) I decided to use this one! In this thick dot ponte instead of the suggested linens and poplins, the trickiest part was getting my stitches not to skip (a heavyweight ballpoint needle did the trick). I love the way the insides look since the wrong side has little stripes--it looks really cute with the sleeves rolled up and pushed up a little, don't you think?

I think Alex was a little unclear about the concept at first--is it a blazer? is it a sweater?--but I think he'll end up wearing it a lot in his regular rotation of cardigans, if only because he doesn't have a navy one. Personally, I think it looks really sharp! I used his regular blazer size (38) and the only change I made was to sew the back pleats/vent shut instead of finishing each side of the vent and pressing--this rayon/poly ponte was not about to hold a permanent press and I think sewn-shut pleats look fine for this casual style. It's pretty slim fitting even in a (stable, but still) knit and I would consider sizing up one if I made it in a woven. The lapels are slim, too--slimmer than the collar which I think looks a little funny if you notice but also, I don't know much about men's fashion, so maybe this is normal in slim lapeled suits? (You can't see this in the line drawings but you can tell if you look closely at the models.) Sadly, the pants and shorts don't have any front or back pockets--although they may have side seam pockets, it's hard to tell) so I think they're best relegated to costume pants unless you're confident adding your own!

Would y'all be interested in a men's pattern roundup? They're so hard to find! I've also just ordered some Japanese sewing books for men--the women's styles aren't for me but I'm hoping the men's stuff will be great since it's all very classic. Have you used a Japanese pattern book? So stylish!


ps: he's such a ham :)

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Leopard Mini (Sewaholic Rae)

skirt: Sewaholic Rae (also seen here and here, pattern here) | jacket: Deer and Doe Luzerne (also seen here, pattern here)

When I had such success with my first Rae a few weeks ago and then successfully used the pattern as the skirt portion of my girly trench dress, I immediately wanted to try it one more way, as a flat waistband skirt!

I've had this leopard print twill in my stash for a few months having ordered it thinking it would be light enough to make a dress, but it's really more of a denim weight--perfect to try this new variation on the Rae! The twill would be much too heavy to gather into a waistband at my usual 2 or 3:1 skirt:waistband ratio, but the flare along with the light gathering of the Rae at the waist means I get all the poof and none of the struggle to gather too-thick fabric. (ps: If you want all the fullness of a dirndl skirt but down want all that poof right at your waistline, a gored skirt like this one is perfect.) I only made a few slight changes to the pattern itself and I mostly just guessed at what I should do. I ended up taking a little bit off of the top of each pattern piece because the waistband is built into the elastic-waisted Rae, but not into this skirt. Luckily it was a success!

I love the girly silhouette of this shorter-length full skirt in a fabric with a lot of body; I think it looks really great with matching tights and heels to give the illusion of long long legs. It would be really cute with over the knee boots, too--I don't have any of those because they don't really seem work-appropriate for me, but I like the look on other people.

I wont be giving up my dirndl skirts any time soon (after all, I have a whole class on making them) but I do love this modified version of the Rae for a lower-volume skirt, and it takes a lot less fabric, too!


ps: if you follow the @mccallpatterncompany instagram, you may see a familiar face over there this week!

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Love Witchy (Rachel Comey for Vogue 1558)

Thank you McCall Pattern Company for sponsoring this post.

This past year I was lucky enough to attend a showing of The Love Witch, which I then immediately
added to both my amazon cart and also my "Allie's Favorite Movies" list. While the more campy aspects of the movie may or may not be to your liking, I (unsuprisingly) loved loved loved the costumes worn by Samantha Robinson, who plays Elaine, the main character and titular Love Witch. They are mostly late-60s/70s and Anna Biller, the director, made some of them herself using vintage patterns! I even bought a similar pattern to one of the costumes and intended to make it but I couldn't figure out how I would wear it and not look like, well, costumey.

Although Vogue 1558 is not a vintage or retro pattern, and honestly doesn't look much like any single dress from the movie, I think the long, pleated sleeves, midi length, and high neck give it the same feel as a lot of the 60s/70s Edwardian-ish dresses--with none of the over-the-top frills. Streamlined seventies? Yes, please. And in a knit? Even better--this dress is a dream to wear and swishes around beautifully.

The sample for this Rachel Comey dress is made in a silk jersey with an all-over print in red and shades of blue, which is gorgeous, but doesn't show off the interesting pleating that really makes this dress unique--I think this pattern really shines in a solid. The details at front and back waist are so flattering and y'all know I love a raglan sleeve! I was a little nervous going into this project, since I very rarely use Vogue patterns--for some reason they're intimidating to me--and I'd never made a designer Vogue pattern. In fact, it was very simple to make; if you have made other knit dresses or tees before and are confident about pleats, you can make this dress without issue. This is a size 10, one size down from my "body measurements" size as usual, and made without alterations besides shortening the skirt by about 4 inches (I cut off 5" but took a shallower hem than called for). Personally, I followed the instructions to the letter, but I heard from a couple of people who even left out the zipper... make sure you use a stretchy fabric with great recovery if you go that way since you want to be able to get it over your head!

Now that I'm feeling more confident about Vogue patterns I have my eye on some of their holiday releases--view B of this one would be gorgeous work as a top paired with a full skirt, right??--so this dress won't be the last Vogue pattern you see on this site! Do you have a favorite McCall Pattern Company brand? I used to wonder why they had three brands under one umbrella but I do think that Vogue, Butterick, and McCall's have different aesthetics... which one do you like best?

Photography by Alex Craig.


ps: can you believe this is the very first vogue pattern i've ever blogged?

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Navy Lace Alston Dress

I wrote this post ages ago and just now got around to taking pictures of the dress! I wore this dress to another wedding this past weekend though, so just swap out "New York" for "St. Louis" and it basically all holds true!

Last weekend, one of my dear friends got married. It was a whirlwind trip to St. Louis and back but it was so, so worth it to see all my college roommates and, of course meet the brand new Mrs. Alston for the first time! She looked beautiful, the party was fantastic, and I wore a new navy version of the dress named in her honor.

This whole dress started back when I wanted a new dress to wear to this season's weddings and was feeling uninspired by my pattern collection. (I even looked on Rent the Runway before realizing that it's not slightly embarrassing to wear non-me-made things now, because everyone asks if I made xyz and I hate having to admit that no, I didn't! Do you have this problem? Just me?) After a while looking around at all sorts of patterns and fabric--did I want to do something body-con? maxi? embroidered tulle?--I ended up using my party dress dilemma as a great excuse to try something I had wanted to try for a while and spring for some pattern drafting classes on Craftsy. You can see more about my process start to finish here, and you can see my first, more casual(-ish) version of  the Alston here, and now here is the wedding-guest-dress as intended from the very start!

I used two fabrics gifted to me by my mom on separate occasions that just happened to match perfectly--she knows I love to wear navy! I still have tons of this lace left over, definitely enough to make a sheath dress or something, and also lots of the cotton, a Ralph Lauren stretch shirting. I'm thinking it will become a shirtdress, and I'm thinking I'll use the Granville for the top... but those are all just thoughts, of course.

Besides the fabric choice, I did make a few slight changes from Alston #1. The white eyelet Alston has sleeve bands, which I feel is a nice design detail that echoes the neckline and waistband. For this version, however, I just used the scalloped edge of the lace on the sleeves, which I think makes it a little dressier. Which do you prefer? I also took it in at the waist by 2" total since I felt the white one was a bit loose and the navy cotton I used here has some stretch. The bodice is still not quite fitted enough for the formality of the dress, in my opinion. It's very comfortable, but I don't mind a slightly snugger dress for a fancy night out. I may add a waist stay, since I feel like it's slightly long in the bodice (like 1/2"), and I suspect it's due to the heavy lace skirt pulling everything down. That's it! Otherwise, it's just the same. I felt amazing wearing this and totally like myself--that's the beauty of making it yourself, right?

I still have at least one more Alston up my sleeve... actually, a sleeveless hack! (Can you hack your own pattern?) I have no idea if it will work, and, like, don't hold your breath. In the meantime, I'll be trying to find the time to do more pattern drafting--this first project was so rewarding, I'd love to get back into it... then again, there are so many gorgeous patterns already out there just waiting for me to sew them!


ps: for transparency, all of my blog posts are written at the time of making the project... which isn't always the time of photographing them! just in case you were wondering.

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Easiest Handmade Hostess Gifts

Is it too early to be talking about the holidays? Actually, yes, it is. But us hand-maker-y types need to get an early start on presents! The best part of the holiday season (Mid-November through January 1st here, but your location may vary) is seeing family, but the second best is going to lots of holiday parties, from friendsgiving potlucks to glitzy New Year's Eve bashes. My usual go-to hostess gift is a bottle of wine but it's also nice to add a little handmade touch to your gifting, especially when people know you made your dress and want to get in on the action a little bit. Enter the perfect combination: hand-hemmed Spoonflower tea towel + literally whatever. I have had mixed results with Spoonflower fabric (I love their sport lycra but wasn't pleased with their cotton sateen, although that was also years and years ago) but I really love browsing the very large (64 pages) collection of tea towel designs. They  are all designed to fit on a fat quarter of the linen/cotton canvas so 1 towel is $14, about the same as you'd pay at anthropologie. (They occasionally have 2 for 1 fat quarter sales, so I have learned to stock up then!)

Once your towels arrive, you just wash and hem them--easiest "handmade" present ever. (I suggest serging/zig-zagging the edges, then washing them, then finishing the hemming, since I threw 12 towels in the laundry unhemmed and ended up with a huge damp clump of towels tangled together on the frayed edges!) Then get something to wrap it around--a handmade tea towel will elevate even a grocery store bottle of wine but you could pair a potted kitchen herb with a thematic towel (this one's cute) or even wrap up a box of pasta and a fancy jar of sauce for a house-warming party. My favorite combination is towel and candle--this might be weird but I love lighting a candle in a clean, kitchen-y scent (lemon in the summer, pine in the winter) when I have to do the dishes or scrub the counters. The one I have in my kitchen now is the Lemon Lavender scent from Diamond Elm Candles (c/o) on etsy--it's handmade, 100% soy and a much nicer scent than my old lemon lavender candle from the mall! The wood wicks in their candles make a cozy crackling sound and I think one of their fall scents would be perfect for a Thanksgiving hostess gift. They smell nice, look cute wrapped in a useful and unique handmade towel, and last longer than the wine you were planning on bringing!

Do you make your holiday gifts or buy them? I generally don't do handmade gifts, but these are so easy that even I, lazy, selfish seamstress that I am, can whip up a few by the time November rolls around...


ps: spoonflower also have a competition each year in which designers create calendar tea towels. my mom has a collection of well-loved calendar tea towels dating back years and years, some of which belonged to my grandparents, so it's nice to have some of my own as well. you can see this year's calendar design winners here--i think i like this one the best of all of them--and allll the 2018 calendar tea towels here

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