Tie-strap Tank (Ogden Cami + Indiesew)

Thank you to Indiesew for providing the fabric used in this post, and thank you for supporting the businesses that make this blog a success!

Sometimes a project doesn't go exactly as planned... and turns out even better than you could have hoped! Originally intended to be a dress, this summery ruffle tank falls into that category.

When I first saw this gorgeous rayon chambray stripe on the Indiesew website, I was smitten--the pretty bubblegum color and preppy stripes practically threw themselves into my shopping cart. I first envisioned a second pink Adrift dress, but I couldn't visualize how the stripes would look with all those circular ruffles, so I decided to go with something simpler, a little Ogden cami dress with a bottom flounce and tie straps. I cut out two layers each of front and back to self-line the dress, and realized only after hacking my pretty fabric into all the different pieces that I totally messed up my stripe matching... in fact, the "lining" pieces I had cut with no regard to stripe placement actually matched slightly better on the sides than the pieces I had tried to match! Already frustrated, I sewed up the dress and left it to hang overnight before hemming and adding a bottom ruffle. It ended up hanging in my sewing room for a week, untouched. Never a good sign!

When I came back to it a week later, I still felt unenthusiastic about the dress--and I realized that the shape of the Ogden meant that the stripes tilted down at the sides, which would make the bottom ruffle and the elastic waistband I had planned on adding look super weird and compete with the fabric. I was feeling grumpy and guilty for wasting fabric and mad at myself for not thinking through the project, but after a head-clearing run, I made the decision (with some help and encouragement from instagram) to chop it off and make this little tank instead. Working with the fabric, not against it, I cut along a stripe on the front, creating a little raised hem. I dipped the back hem a little bit, and added a teeny ruffle along the bottom, using the fabric I had already cut out to use as a waistband tie. I tried it on and immediately felt a hundred times better about my creation! The high low hem looks great with my white high-waisted Gingers and the ruffle and shoulder tie details add just a little something special. I'm already thinking "wouldn't this be cute in oxford cloth/chambray/seersucker?" which is the true sign of a successful project, don't you think?

What sewing struggles have you had recently? Did you rescue or toss them? I've been known to do some of both.


ps: i got about 25 mosquito bites taking these pictures so i hope you appreciate the pretty backdrop! haha

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Sewing Break: Warby Parker Glasses

Sewing break! Did you know I wear glasses? I think the last (only?) time they were spotted on the blog was here, three whole years ago! I hardly ever wear them during the day--usually I put my contacts in first thing in the morning and take them out when I wash my face at night--but I'd really like to be a little more flexible and wear my glasses more. After all, I am a librarian; glasses and cardigans are like, what we do, right?

So... help me pick out some new ones! I ordered the home try-on kit from Warby Parker and I'd love to hear what you think of my options. I got three styles of frame and a few different colors. Which one do you like best? I kind of like the tortoise with the purple flecks ("violet magnolia") in it which they make the Chelsea and the Finch out of (what type of turtle do they get that from? ;) and although already have pink glasses, the clear pink is a little more subtle... I don't know! Isn't this what blogs are for, outsourcing personal decisions? Right?

Do you wear glasses? Do you have one pair you wear all the time or do you match them to your outfits? I'd love to have a bunch of pairs to rotate through... that would involve actually wearing them, though. Baby steps!


ps: when i first got rayban wayfarer hipster eyeglasses i was so hip that they didn't sell them at the eyeglass store and i got them to replace the lenses in a pair of sunglasses... they were so confused! #hipsteralert

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Summer Reads (Lexi Ogden Pajama Set)

Thanks to the Haute Girls for providing this fabric! It's currently on preorder; you can see all the fabric in the collection here.

Hello! It's sleepwear month over on Petite Passions's #wardrobebuilder so when the Haute Girls offered me a few yards of their new quilting cotton collection, I knew just what to make: pajamas! I don't do too much sewing with quilting cotton, but I just love using it for pajamas, since you can wear all those cutesy prints that you might not have an opportunity to wear otherwise, like these! I love that the prints in this collection are all coordinates, so you can mix and match pieces or use one print as the main fabric and another as an accent. I made a bunch of pieces with my coordinates and just two super-simple patterns and I feel like I have a whole new pajama wardrobe--and it all matches!

My first pieces are a pair of Evie La Luve Lexi boxers and an Ogden, both in the prettiest multi-color ikat print, and finished with some bias binding made with the larger-scale print. I'd previously made a summer set using the Ogden cami and the shorts from Closet Case Pattern's Carolyn, but the Lexi boxers are just simpler, and for an easy summer pajama set, I don't mind simple! In fact, I made them even simpler: I cut them on the straight grain instead of on the bias, and overlapped the straight side seams on front and back to make one large pattern piece. Since there's no side seam shaping, it doesn't affect the fit at all! I made a size medium, and the fit is roomy and comfortable, without any fit alterations. I did change up the construction some, though--I finished the waistband with a casing for my elastic (it's a lot easier to me than turn-and-stitch elastic) and I finished the legs with bias tape instead of turning under. I definitely recommend this method--it's easier to get around those curves and you can add a little contrast if you apply it on the outside like I did! I also finished my Ogden in the same accent bias for a sweet matched set.

I also made a little Ogden nightgown simply by lengthening the pattern. I previously made a slip by doing the same thing, and actually I have two more dresses coming up this month made using the Ogden--True Bias Kelly should re-release the pattern with a dress variation, in my opinion, just for marketing purposes, since this is a great dress. It's easy to do though, just extend the hem and side seams! (This would make a super glam floor-length 90s-inspired dress in silk, by the way.) This shows off the cool print. I just love the little tigers! For a little change, I also made a second little pair of Lexi boxers in this same print, to wear with tee shirts (like this one from Grana, my fave place for simple wardrobe staples). You can never have enough little sleep shorts, don't you agree?

I don't know about you, but all this pajama sewing makes me want to just curl up and read a book--it could also be that I'm a librarian, and I always want to just curl up and read a book... maybe that's it. Either way, I now have some cute pj options to wear! And what have I been reading in my pajamas? Here are a few recent favorites:

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
I mentioned this one on instagram stories last month, when I was tearing through the five-book series of which this is the first. If you grew up loving the Little House books, or if you're reading them to your children now, you should definitely pick up this book, which follows Omakayas, a young Ojibwe girl. Not only does it take place at around the same time and place as the Little House books and provide an interesting counterpoint to Ma's "wild" indians, it's also very similar in tone and content, with lots of fascinating descriptions of everyday life. Not to be missed! I suggest you skip amazon this once and buy it from Birchbark Books, the author's indie book store in Minnesota which also serves as support system for the many Native authors and artists who live in and around the Twin Cities. (ps: The blog American Indians in Children's Literature is a wonderful resource regarding Native representation and gives this series two thumbs up.)

Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens
I've been listening to episode after episode of My Favorite Murder recently as it's a bit less scary than actual news (ha) and along with this book, it appears I'm on a total murder binge! This is the first in the Wells and Wong Mystery series but I've read all three available in the US, they are simply spiffing, as main character (and juvenile detective) Daily Wells would say. Classic whodunit format (ie Agatha Christie), likeable characters, and interesting racial awareness/class conflict overtones as the two main characters are a slightly shabby upper class British girl and an ultra-wealthy Hong Kongese girl (Originally published in the UK, where the series is known as the "Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries" and the first three books are entitled Murder Most Unladylike, Arsenic for Tea, and First Class Murder.)

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
I'm on the third book of this series as well, entitled Rich People Problems. It's a lighter read, along the lines of a grown-up, Singaporean Gossip Girl, but you can feel really smart about reading it (even if it does say "CRAZY RICH ASIANS" on the cover in huge text) because it's basically just like an ethnography. Right? Right?? Plus, you really must read it before the movie comes out, and everyone who is anyone is talking about it, lah! (I'm super excited for the movie's all-Asian cast, y'all--the first since 1993's Joy Luck Club. Representation matters!)

Read anything good recently? Do you have a go-to pj pattern or do you like to mix it up?


ps: "lah" is a Singrish (Singaporean/English) exclamation put at the end of sentences just as kind of a meaningless emphasizer. see all the important cultural things you can learn from a book about rich people?

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#anorlaaffair wrap up (+ winners!)

Hey y'all! Orla month has come to a close. We'll be announcing winners soon, but before we do that, I wanted to do sort of a link dump of everything that Maddie, Anya, Rachel, and I have created this month to celebrate this versatile, basic, (and don't forget freeee) pattern. It's a lot! To start off, I made four Orla dresses... (Click the link below the image to be taken to the full post.)

I can't tell which is my favorite--I think it's between the eyelet one (it's the most fun) and the stripes (the most wearable), although the vintage-inspired seersucker one has gotten the most wear during this hot weather... 

Sweet Seersucker (Orla Dress + tutorial!)

Last July I made a pale blue seersucker dress and I got so, so much use out of it at the tail end of summer--nothing is better than seersucker when it's super hot and humid, and I love the preppy sweetness of a pastel dress. All year, I thought about making a similar dress in pink, but wasn't sure if I wanted to use the same pattern (Simplicity 4475 from the 60s--I absolutely love this pattern!) or try something new. #anorlaaffair provided the perfect opportunity to make a similar-but-not-identical dress and try out some pattern adjustments I'd been meaning to try for a while!

I love the late-60s empire-waist silhouette, but honestly, that's not a good look on me, and it's hard to pull off for most people! A wide waistband or waist detail like this one is something of a compromise between that streamlined babydoll 60s shape and an earlier natural waist, full skirt silhouette. I played with this for my Christmas Rose dress and it's much more wearable than a true empire, at least for me! Bonus: it's actually a pretty popular silhouette of the mid-60s, too! Here's a great example of the have-it-both-ways empire/natural waist. (Also, here's an extra bonus vintage pattern that would look horrible on me but is very cool!)

Since the seersucker I used isn't quite opaque, I fully lined the dress.  When you do flat pattern style adjustments like this, you aren't really changing the shape of the original dress, so you can even use the original, unaltered pattern pieces for a simple lining since they should be the same shape! If your fabric is opaque, you can use bias binding or a facing, as usual.

One note on the drafting: the underbust panels should be a little snugger fitting than the original bodice at the top (since they cup the bust more than plain darts do) , you may want to overlap them a  bit extra at the top of the dart and/or the top of the side seam. And make a muslin before you cut into your special fabric, of course!

I have a bit more of this pink seersucker left, and I'm thinking I'll try to copy this Tuckernuck dress using the Ogden. How perfect does that look for hot weather? Between this dress and my Ogden pajamas, August may be Ogden month around here! Isn't it nice to have tried and true patterns? Are you up for #anodgenaffair? (Just kidding!)


ps: if this reminds you of the Colette Rue, that dress was an inspiration too! i prefer the lower bust panels of this version, but you could always make them more princess seam lines like the Rue's seams, if you prefer. I think the Rue's style lines only extend to the side seams, as well. i think all the way around looks more intentional, but it's up to you! it's your dress after all.

allie J.

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Sew Conscious Review and Giveaway

This post is not sponsored or in any way affiliated with Sew Conscious, I just felt like giving away a present.

Almost a year ago, I won a ridiculous prize--a free subscription to the Sew Conscious project box. My subscription is coming to an end, so I thought I'd do a little wrap-up review of my experience... and a giveaway of my final box!

If you aren't familiar with Sew Conscious, they are a monthly project subscription box specifically for apparel sewing. There are a few crafting and fabric boxes available now, but as far as I know, this is the only one that has a whole project ready to sew. In each box you get a pattern (usually indie, and available in two size ranges XS-XL or XXL-6X) plus all the materials you need to sew it, including fabric, interfacing, buttons, elastic, zipper, thread... whatever you'll need to complete the project.

I received a pretty wide range of projects in my boxes, from blouses to dresses to jackets. I think my favorite project I got was the Kelly Anorak and a bunch of heavyweight white twill to make it with. The "project box" set up is perfect for projects that require a bunch of notions, like the Kelly, and I definitely want to make this one, hopefully this fall (sadly a whole year after opening the box, but isn't that how it always seems to work?). The hardest part of some projects can be sourcing all the materials, so a project box that comes with all the drawstrings, snaps, zips, etc., is such a timesaver.

I also got a few Sewaholic patterns in my boxes, like the Cambie. Again, I have been meaning to make this pattern ever since I got it in my box almost a year ago, but I want to make a few changes (at this point I feel like maybe the sleeves are a little twee for me. but wouldn't they be cute smoothed out into little cap sleeves more like these?) and the fabric I got was a bit formal for me--a gorgeous navy suiting which I actually gave to my mom.

There were a few misses among the patterns too; I got several Colette patterns and I've recently decided that Colette simply isn't worth the hassle for me personally. I can totally see why someone building a box for Allie J. would include Colette patterns--that vintage/modern aesthetic does seem like my thing. Unfortunately, those are going straight to the bottom of my stash.

As for the fabric, it was all really nice, high quality material, and I was impressed! The beautiful London Calling (aka liberty knockoff) lawn I used for my Sorbettos (speaking of Colette) was from a Sew Conscious box; it was lovely to work with and a good example of the level of fabric included. These aren't random off cuts!

Overall, I think if you are really up for anything style-wise, the Sew Conscious box will be perfect for you. You can narrow it down to one of three styles (classic, minimalist, or edgy), but it is still a mystery box--you never know what you're going to get!--so if you are capsule-type, this is probably not for you. As for me, I am just super picky. I've used lots of the fabric from my boxes, and some of the patterns, but have yet to use their suggested pairing, which is a shame. That white Kelly is calling my name though, so maybe eventually!

This is my last box from Sew Conscious and I wanted to give it away to one of you lovely readers. It's from the Classic Chic line and the project contained within is the new-ish (new when I got the box!) Kalle dress and top from Closet Case Patterns! I love this pattern, but can't imagine myself wearing it that often as it isn't quite my personal style (y'all know that left to my own devices I go for full skirts and plunge peekaboo necklines, of all things). It also comes with this gorgeous royal blue rayon challis and all the buttons and thread you'll need to make it!

All you have to do to sign up is click over to my instagram here and leave a comment tagging a friend! You can tag as many friends as you want, as long as they're in different comments. Want to get your own subscription? You can also use the code REFERME to get 10% off your Sew Conscious order. Again, this isn't a sponsored post and I don't get any affiliate bonuses or anything from this... I just like you guys (and I'm really thankful you seem to like me too) and want to share a treat with you! Oh--since the box is pretty bulky, this will be open to US readers only, sorry.

Would you try a subscription box, or are you too picky, like me? I'd love to hear your thoughts on subscription boxes, sewing or otherwise?


ps: a few more reviews from the sara project, tip stitched, and style sew me.

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Summer in Stripes (French Navy Orla)


This weekend my parents stopped by just to hang out and we had such a nice time! We took them with us on our new favorite weekend activity, lunch and shopping at the Korean grocers in Cary. There's an asian grocery store in Durham, but it's kind of a dive (although perfect for finding mystery ingredients). The H-Mart in Cary is really nice, with a Tous les Jours, a Tony Moly, and a whole food court where you can eat lunch (I got a whole grilled mackerel which comes with rice and little side dishes). Also, if you live in the triangle, the fish department is huge and fresh, and they have live crab and lobster! Lobster boil anyone? I wore my latest Orla and had them snap a few quick pictures in downtown Cary to share with you.

This is the same as my first Orla but I've swapped out a pleated skirt for the gathered one. This is a pretty simple change that you can make on any dress pattern. There are two ways to do this. The first requires slightly less fabric in the case of the Orla, and you can see it here on Anna Zoe. Anya's Orla has the same style of pleated skirt as mine; the only visual difference being that mine has a center front box pleat as well as two box pleats centered over the front and back darts. This center pleat can easily be added by extending the front seam and marking the pleat at the original center front seam. The amount you extend at the front is half the width between 1 and 2. Here's a little add-on for her tutorial c/o Anya:
My method (tutorial below) requires barely any patternmaking/measuring at all, but does require a bit more careful pinning and spatial reasoning. A skirt that's pleated all the way around (i.e. the depth of the pleats are the same as the width of the pleats) will always be the same width relative to the bodice measurement (3x), and then you just put the folds in however, with the only restriction being that each pleat has to touch the next. If none of this makes sense to you, I recommend you just go with Anya's technique. If this makes perfect sense, are you me? Get out of my brain! If this makes a medium amount of sense, ask me a question and I'll try to sort it out.
I also had one unintended alteration--an added navy band at the bottom of the skirt. I generally tear across my fabric instead of cutting when I'm making a rectangular skirt to ensure the lines are perfectly straight and the fabric is on grain and will hang right. Sadly, when I tore across this fabric, I noticed that the stripes were not printed perfectly on grain, so I ended up with slightly diagonal stripes that didn't match at the sides. Oh no! I decided to trim them along the printed stripes, which made each panel a few inches shorter, and made the dress too short overall, so I added a band of coordinating navy shirting at the bottom to regain the length. This does mean that my skirt is slightly off-grain, but I'm hoping it wont affect it too much, fingers crossed.

Have you been keeping up with all of the amazing Orlas made by my co-hosts? The community posts have been so fun to see too! I'm especially pleased to see a few first-time dressmakers joining in... you got this, ladies!


ps: i use my bosom buddy bag so so much in the summer, it's the perfect size. 

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