Dress Like Your Grandma (Sewaholic Granville)

My parents were in town this past weekend! My family is close, and we had a great time--we went to a great restaurant Friday night, went hiking on Sunday, and hung out all day Saturday. I took the opportunity and borrowed my dad for a photo or two in honor of Tanya's Dress Like Your Grandma Challenge!

We don't have a lot of family pictures, but my dad sent me two photos of his mom, my Nana, in the mid-50s and funnily enough, she was wearing a full skirt, pearls, and a button-front shirt in both! Obviously, this was a practical, comfortable "uniform" for her everyday life, just adding a cardigan if it got chilly. I found it to be really touching, since I tend to wear basically the same thing, 60 years and two generations later (and have the closet full of gathered skirts to prove it). I don't look much like her (although I'm practically twins with her daughter, my aunt) but we dress just alike! Of course, I've modernized mine a bit--you know, that's kind of my thing--so rather than striving for authenticity, I've forgone the tiki(?)-print skirt for one in leftover navy eyelet (from this dress) and made my button-front shirt in a smart navy and white gingham shirting for a look that's preppy and fresh.

My skirt is a simple gathered skirt with a zipper and hook and eye waist closure. It's the same exact skirt you can see here and which I teach an online class about making! It's a great beginner project because you can make them in a million colors and prints and have a whole skirt wardrobe. As I said, I have a closet full of them: in pretty floral, coral cotton sateen, chambray, gingham, a neon pleated variation... and now this one in eyelet!

This challenge was one of those things that got started and I thought "why didn't I think of that?" It's just such a cute idea. Plus, it got me to finish my Granville, which I cut out literally months ago. Having a go-to button down shirt seems like a handmade wardrobe staple, but every time I make a shirt I hate doing it. I know some people love making shirts... I am not one of those people. I do  think I'll have to buckle down and make some more  though, because the fit on this pattern is so good on me. This is with no alterations and the fit through the shoulders, bust, and waist is all spot on.

Do  you love shirtmaking, or do you prefer to stick to dresses, like me? I don't know, I guess I just love all the ruffles and gathers that come along with sewing dresses... and not all the precision topstitching that shirts require!


ps: as i mentioned on my instagram stories, the fit of this shirt is great and I do hope to make several more of this shirt... i may leave off the collar however in favor of a simple bow tie neck. collars, ugh!

allie J.

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Sorbetto vs. Sorbetto

I don't do this sort of thing often on the blog, but I thought this was too interesting to pass up, even if the photos are a bit boring. Next week--back to prettiness :)
Colette's Sorbetto was, I think, my very first PDF pattern, and in fact I made several versions as I was learning to sew for myself. In concept, it's a great wardrobe-building tank--there's a reason there are so many woven tee and tank patterns out there. In execution, I think it was frustrating for many people, especially those of us new to sewing who couldn't tell if it was us, or the pattern, that didn't work. As beginners, those of us used to ill-fitting ready to wear find it difficult to tell if things fit, let alone how to fix them if they don't, and are easily disappointed and disenchanted with sewing if those first few projects don't turn out the way we hoped, so in my opinion, it's extra important that beginner patterns are expertly designed and drafted to maximize chances of success. If we want this little sewing circle to expand (and we do, y'all!!), beginners need to persevere and become advanced beginners, then intermediate sewers, and they just. will. not. if their first projects are flops. Recently Colette's been reworking several of their patterns from a new block, I decided to make both the old (in the pictures above, shown on the left) and new (on the right) Sorbettos recently as a little sewing experiment. The newly rereleased Sorbetto is supposed to provide a (free!) look at the new block. Lotttsssss of details below the break!

Inspiration: Rain or Shine (Deer & Doe Luzerne Trench)

a classic shirt (or borrow his)
grana jeans (or perhaps Gingers? see my review here)

pretty blush block heels (and less than $100)

April showers bring May flowers, or course, but April also seems to bring new trench projects, don't you think? Last year at around this time I made a burda trench coat, and this year I'm dreaming of adding a blush version to my collection, using Deer and Doe's new pattern, the Luzerne trench. While I wait for the fabric I want to be restocked (it's this one, the same as Deer and Doe used on the sample), I've been thinking of all the ways to wear a trench--it really is the perfect spring jacket for rain or shine!

More blush trenches (and all the trimmings) here:


ps: if you don't have your heart set on blush like me, that kaufman twill comes in 35 colors... i also love this butter yellow (so in this spring), a classic taupe, or maybe go bright and bold with color-of-the-year green?

allie J.

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Navy Eyelet Sundress (Butterick 6453)

I'm like a summery ballerina in this dress, I think--something about a strappy bodice and a full skirt (not to mention the lace-up espadrilles, of course) just feel very ballet to me! Butterick 6453 is a super simple little dress--just a princess seamed bodice and a full or slim skirt--so it will look good in basically any fabric. I've seen so many cute versions already; thanks to the sewalong, it seems like everyone is making this pattern! I think this would be cute in a floral quilting cotton, or a crisp white seersucker, but I went for this pretty navy eyelet and matching cotton lawn. I used the lawn for the outside of the bodice and also to fully line the top and skirt of the dress. I added a little strip of the eyelet edge to the bottom of the bodice, just so it wasn't so plain. I thought about making a little cropped jacket to go over top (I don't often wear spaghetti straps) but I thought all that eyelet might feel like too much. I made a skirt with it instead, which you'll see next week! I don't know, though, maybe I should order a bit more and make that jacket after all...

If you're curious about the fit of this pattern, I made a straight size 10 as usual and it fits well but not perfectly. That's fine for me but if you are picky about fit I definitely suggest you join the facebook group for the sewalong where there are tons of people helping each other with every aspect of the sewing process, but especially the fit. Gretchen herself is a member, too! My friend Bianca also made an amazing video series detailing her fitting and sewing process!

I think this pattern will be a real workhorse in many people's pattern collections; you really could have a closet full of these in different fabrics, prints, and maybe trims. I'll likely make at least one more version, but I do prefer a sleeved dress so I can wear a non-strapless bra and don't have to wear a cardigan to cover my shoulders!

What do you think, should I still make a crop jacket? or should I stick with my little cardigans? If I made a jacket, I could wear it with the skirt... Do you make sets of clothing out of the same fabric, or do you make one item per fabric selection?


ps: i do love a good skirt + crop top coord...

allie J.

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How to wear vintage Patterns--and not look like you stepped out of 1955 (Simplicity 1123)

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Rachel for the Maker Style podcast. (It was so fun, y'all!) Several of the questions she had for me for about my modern-vintage style--how I got into vintage, how I adapt a lot of very 50s/60s patterns for everyday wear in 2017... I can't wait for y'all to hear the podcast, but in the meantime I thought I'd share an example and a few tips for mixing modern and vintage style. Sometimes I want to dress up and pull out my fullest petticoat, and other times I just want to go to work or brunch or the farmer's market. If your vintage style tends towards the latter, here are my top three tips for achieving a perfect mix of retro and modern.

1. Fabric choice: If you want a very authentic look, it makes sense to pick an authentic-looking fabric: an oversized floral for a full-skirted 50s look or a ditsy print for a 40s feedsack-style dress. On the other hand, pick a modern-looking textile and you'll look like your clothes belong in 2017, not 1957. This elegant mid-50s dress pattern is paired with practical chambray--a classic textile, but one in which this pattern wouldn't have been traditionally sewn. The illustration on this pattern's envelope (Simplicity 1123 from 1955) shows it in a floral stripe, and if I copied that, I would look very vintage-y at best, and at worst, like I wrapped myself in my childhood bedroom's Laura Ashley curtains. Not cute! Chambray lets the interesting pleated surplice bodice shine, while dressing down a slightly-fancy silhouette. Next time I make this (and there will be a next time, this is like, the best pattern ever) I plan to do it in a seersucker that is possibly slightly more period-appropriate, and will result in a girly, preppy, more vintage-looking dress. It would also be cool in a graphic black and white stripe!

2. Accessories: I try to mix modern and vintage not only in my clothes, but in my styling as well! You might have noticed that I'm wearing practically the same combination of pieces as my pink floral dress post last week--full-skirted dress, modestly-heeled shoes, a straw bag; it's a bit of a uniform of mine in the spring and summer!--but this combination seems much more fresh and modern than last week. In addition to the updated fabric choice, I've picked some more of-the-moment accessories like my Bosom Buddy bag and these amazing tassel earrings from designer Hart Hagerty (c/o). Tassels and statement earrings are both quite popular right now, so even though oversized earrings were big (literally and figuratively) in the 60s, they feel very cool and trendy today, and these are so cute with the knot on top! Apparently they are very durable too, which I was nervous about since they look so delicate, but she recommends them for festivals and says you can throw them in your bag and have them still spring back to life. Hart is based out of Charleston, SC, one of my favorite weekend trips... I've been itching to get down there this spring, it's so beautiful and there's so many cute boutiques and independent designers downtown, not to mention amazing food (and the most beautiful ceiling ever).

3. Hair and makeup: These finishing touches, separate from your outfit itself, can really make or break an look! Think of the rockabilly girl wearing white keds, jeans and a tee shirt. She may not be wearing a particularly retro outfit, but she looks undeniably "retro" simply because of her cool victory roll hairstyle, red lips, and cat eye liner. The opposite is true as well! I typically wear a cat eye liner for a vintage touch, but don't go overboard on the hair (partially because I'm too lazy), just wearing it down and either strait or slightly curled, or in a high bun or ponytail.

I hope this makes wearing vintage a little less intimidating! I feel like there's a lot of bloggers who seem to be 100% vintage, 100% of the time, and while I love that, it's not particularly practical for many women's lifestyles... but don't let that scare you away from sewing vintage patterns! If I've piqued your interested in sewing vintage, why not sign up for Vintage Pledge 2017 (you can pledge to make just one vintage pattern if you want!) and enter my etsy giveaway here to fund your first pattern purchase! Have you signed up for Vintage Pledge yet? What are you pledging? In my opinion, everyone should pledge to make at least one vintage pattern this year... no excuses!!


ps: and if you want a whole tutorial to ease in with, why not try my skirt sewing class? at the end of the class you'll have a skirt that's exactly like the one on this dress, which you can mix and match with different bodices no problem!

allie J.

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Anything Goes Social Sew Round Up!

I can tell springtime is here--y'all used some gorgeous colors this month! The final Social Sew round up is here at last!

Coral Bunny Jess used a summery Rifle Paper Co. fabric to make a cold-shoulder "vacation" dress and has a great, comprehensive review of the pattern she used, the Lily Sage and Co. Chloe dress. She also made a great floral version of the new McCall's off-shoulder top 7543, which I passed on last trip to JoAnn and need to go back and get, obviously.

This Belle-inspired yellow Emery dress is my favorite thing SaraJolie has ever made--it's absolutely perfect and doesn't she look just like a princess? *heart eyes emoji x100*

German-language blog PeterSilie&Co made a great mix-and-match set of zebra print retro separates.

Lara Liz is back with more perfectly practical separates, this time, a nautical anchor-print Bonn shirt. She's been sewing the whole Indiesew Fall collection which I think is so smart--Allie over at Indiesew puts so much thought and love into those collections to make sure they're like a pre-fab capsule.

Mahlica Designs's maxi kimono-sleeve dress looks so comfortable--you could make a whole closet full of this pattern and wear it for everything from a beach cover-up to a dinner date. She also made a super-cute pajamas set with short and long sleeves and shorts and pants. Smart!

Tenille's Thread contributed several makes again this month--she's a quick sew! I can never tell if Named's Sointu kimono top would look good on me but it looks great on her in a simple black ponte knit,  She also made another kimono-sleeve tunic dress using a different version than the one Melissa used for a totally different look!

Diane's mint green "secret pajamas" dress has me swooning--perfect fit, a unique hem, and statement sleeves, all plus perfect stitching?? Ah-mazing.

Lara made her fourth Dove blouse (my favorite one so far, I think) in a pretty navy floral and those glam bell sleeves... love them.

This gingham shirt refashion from Crafty Disaster Lindsay is so cute! I always love a peplum. Her McCall's mix-and-match set has allll the flounces--perfect for spring and so on trend.

Stevie of BeeBee's Handmade Dress made a gorgeous cobalt blue bra and undies set using the new Harriet bra from Cloth Habit. So lovely--even if the fit isn't quite there yet!

Liz-o-matic made her second (but not final) Moneta dress in a navy and kelly green combination that I love.

Hoopes Park Studio made a sweet summer pattern-hack dress in a navy floral that she designed herself. Um, so cool.

Seamracer linked up a soon-to-be-blogged 60s dress in an amazing border print rayon... I can't wait to see more of it! She also has a clever rag curl tutorial on her blog and you will never guess what she uses to make perfect curls.

Emily made a cool retro zip front dress in a beautiful bright aqua using a pattern from Gertie's casual book.

Thank you all so, so much for participating in the past year of the Social Sew with me. I really appreciate every who linked up their projects, from the simplest tee shirt to the amazing dresses. I really hope I introduced you to some new favorites... I know I found some myself! And don't forget about these other sewalongs/monthly sewing challenges to fill that Social Sew-sized gap. I'll see you in the links!


ps: again, thaaaaaank yoooooou

allie J.

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Inspiration: Gertie's Sundress Sewalong (Butterick 6453)

I normally don't participate in all that many sewalongs (besides #vintagepledge) but this spring the stars aligned and I'm doing several! I'm extra excited about Gretchen's Butterick 6453 sewalong; it's such a classic shape and it will be perfect for all those summer picnics I attend (in my dreams). I'm making it in a pretty navy eyelet and it's getting my so ready for warm temperatures... or maybe a vacation! What's your favorite spring getaway? Bonus points if it's in the Southeastern US!


ps: follow me on instagram stories for lots of behind-the-scenes progress shots!

allie J.

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How to buy your first vintage pattern (+ #VintagePledge & Giveaway!)

Recently I've gotten a few questions like "where do you find your vintage patterns?" and "how much should you pay for a vintage pattern?" so I thought I'd do a little post on how I add to my (ever-growing) collection. Take a peek into my closet and my pattern stash and you'll find I love love love sewing with vintage patterns, almost as much as I love buying them ;) I buy my vintage patterns almost exclusively on etsy as I find it easy to search once you know what to type in the search bar (eBay is another option but it's a bit more confusing for me).

This is a longer post, but keep reading for five tips on buying your first (or fiftieth!) vintage pattern... plus, an etsy giveaway, my new destash account, and #VintagePledge 2017!

Spring in Bloom (Simplicity 4468)

More pretty in pink florals...

Thank you to ThredUp for partnering on this post.

If you're ever in Durham, a spot I really insist you visit is Duke Gardens. I'm not one to recommend a Duke basketball game or a trip to campus as a half-hearted tar heel personally, but the 55 acres of gorgeously landscaped lawns, arboretums, and flower beds are a can't miss spot. There's lots to see year-round but it's especially lovely in the spring, when all the trees are in bloom and the daffodils are popping up everywhere. Pack a picnic (I won't tell if you sneak some wine) and lunch on the lawn--ladylike dresses required!

The dress pattern is an early 60s one, to which I've made just one slight alteration, raising the back neckline from a V. I used the back neckline from Simplicity 4475 since I assumed they were using the same block to make the two patterns, since the numbers are so close! It's made in this Gertie fabric, a verrrry lightweight cotton sateen--perfect for this pattern since it requires some drape in the cowl neck and some body in the skirt.

I also wore a new malco modes petticoat, their Zooey--I love the extra poof it gives to a full skirt! You may remember I have another, even fluffier one (the Jennifer) that I wore with my blue seersucker dress; that one is gorgeously full but it's not particularly practical for every day. Gretchen (aka Gertie, the designer of the fabric!) has this one that is less full, and I ordered this more modest one in hopes of wearing it beyond photoshoots! I really love the slight effect it has--you can see a difference but it's not immediately obvious that I'm wearing it.

My bag is from ThredUp. I think many of us sewing bloggers sew at least in some part due to concerns about ethical clothing production, so I love that there are more companies creatively tackling secondhand shopping. I've consigned clothing with ThredUp before, as part of my effort to move towards a handmade wardrobe, and I've also purchased accessories there. (It's also a great place to look for trendier pieces that you might not want to invest a lot in, but wouldn't feel good about buying from a cheap fast-fashion store.) This bag is from Marshall Fields (remember Marshall Fields?) and praaaactically brand new and it was nine dollars. If you've never shopped ThredUp before they have a promo for 50% off handbags (up to $50) using the code HANDBAGS50Also, if you don't see anything you like, check back in a day, as they add new stuff constantly, and on the other hand, don't procrastinate if you do see something you like, as it will get snapped up! I had some fabric left over from my seersucker nightgown and I made this little scarf to tie on my purse or my ponytail. At this point I have so many pink scraps I could make a few to mix and match with my other pink dresses (I mean, I have a few, so...).

How do you feel about such aggressively girly, pink dresses? I love them, but I know they aren't to everyone's taste. Today is the Equinox, so happy Spring! How are you celebrating?


ps: i'm a bit early to participate but if you have a spring dress in your sewing queue why not submit it for Judith and Akram's Spring Dress Sewalong?

allie J.

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DIY vs RTW: High-waisted Skinny Jeans (Closet Case Gingers and Grana High Rise Skinnies + Waterfall Raglan)

I'm not sponsored by Grana, I just love them.
I do, however, receive points towards store credit if you purchase something as a new customer.

I recently shared with you my Closet Case Gingers, my second ever pair of handmade jeans (after my Birkin Flares). I'm a bit surprised at myself, since after making my Birkins I thought "I'm not 100% sure if I really need to make alllll my clothing." Not that they were overly hard to make (as I've said over and over, there are just a lot of steps, but none of them are particularly difficult), but just... if I can just buy something that is 1. affordable, 2. decently fitting, and 3. thoughtfully made with regards to sustainability/humanity, I'd rather just buy it. And y'all, this goes double for knits.

Then again, it's pretty neat to have made something that I feel is comparable to ready to wear--I wore my Ginger jeans to a party recently at which people knew about my sewing, and no one said "did you make your jeans?" which as we all know is the mark of having made it in the sewing world, right?

Today I wanted to do a little comparison between two pairs of jeans, one handmade and one purchased! The two pairs are very similar styles: both the DIY Closet Case Ginger Jeans and the RTW Grana High Rise Skinny Jeans are high waisted zip-fly jeans with skinny legs. I also want to show off my new tee (remember when I said I'd rather buy it, especially for knits?? Who am I?), the Chalk and Notch Waterfall Raglan. Not much to say about it except that although I didn't enjoy making it (such a drapey rayon knit makes me want to tear my hair out), I lovvvve wearing it and have been doing so basically as much as possible (I've even slept in it, it's so comfortable). You'll notice it isn't hemmed: I couldn't get my twin needle tension right and it looked awful. I think what I need is that wonder hem tape that washes out. Are you a knits expert? What do you suggest?

Back to denim! Here's all the nitty gritty details... and for reference: I am 5'7" and have a natural waist measurement of 26-27" and a full hip measurement of about 38".

Waist: If you remember from my Ginger post fit details, I graded from an 8 in the waist to a 10 in the hips of my Ginger jeans, and I would go down another size in the waist in my next pair (Heather Lou does not draft for pears!). The Grana jeans, on the other hand, fits a lot better without any of the (preemptive) alterations made on the Ginger jeans. However, I might want to shave a tiny amount (like, half an inch) off the waist of the Granas next time I make them... oh, wait. I could (I guess) do a bit of tailoring, but it's so slight I probably won't bother.

Rise: The rise on the Grana High Rise Skinny Jeans is 11.2" for the 28, and the rise on the View B (high-rise) Gingers, size 10, is 10", so a full inch lower. The Grana jeans come just to my navel (but don't cover it) and I prefer that higher rise.

Legs: The leg openings in the Grana high-waisted skinny jeans are skinny--like, point your toes to wiggle your foot through skinny. I think if they made a High Rise Slim Straight jean, it would be my holy grail denim. On the other hand, they look great tucked into boots! I cut about an inch off the bottom of the Gingers for a slight crop. Grana's denim all come in regular and tall lengths with inseams of 29.1" and 31.1 inches, respectively (mine are regular). They do not come in petite sizes.

Fabric: The fabric for the two pairs of jeans feel similar, with similar stretch and weight. Grana's denim is made in Japan, home of the best denim in the world. I purchased my Indiesew denim from Allie Olson, entrepreneur and all-around awesome woman I admire.

Pockets: I love the pocket stay in the high-waist view of the Gingers, y'all. Your pockets never flip out when you're pulling on your jeans (you know what I'm talking about). The Ginger pockets are also slightly deeper than the pockets on the Grana pair, if you, unlike me, actually put things in your front jeans pockets. I also quite like the subtle shaping on the Gingers's back pockets, but as far as pocket placement, the rear views of the two pairs of jeans are very similar other than that tiny difference.

Cost: Neither pair of pants is very expensive (in my view). The Grana skinnies cost $49 (and free shipping if you spend $26 more--I suggest something silky). I ordered two sizes planning to return one for store credit, that way I'll get free shipping and free returns (and I know that I can find something to spend those $49 on). The Ginger pattern will cost you $14 for a PDF or $18 for the printed pattern, plus fabric. An Indiesew jeans hardware kit costs $7, and my denim (also from Indiesew) cost me about $30 for two yards, which brings the total (not including denim needles and thread from my stash, my Bernina, or my time) to $55. About the same! Psst: if you're new to Grana you can get 10% by using my link, bringing your cost down to about $44.

Sizing: Ginger sizing goes from 0 (a 24" waist and 33" hip) to 20 (39" waist and 48" hip) and I fall in a 4/6 waist and 10 hip. Grana sizing goes from a size 24 to 32 (no body measurements available, but the finished garment waist measurement goes from 23.2" to 32.7"). As I said in the waist section, The 28 fits my waist and hips (a 10-ish" difference) so might be better for curvier ladies than the straight-up-and-down Gingers if you don't feel up to making some pattern adjustments.

Conclusion: The Grana High Rise Skinny Jeans fit me all around slightly--slightly--better than my first iteration of the Closet Case Ginger Jeans, view B (high waist, skinny leg). However, I know that I can tweak future pairs of Gingers to improve the fit on each one, whereas the the Grana jeans remain the same, unless I do some serious seam ripping (not likely).

I think if I made two more pairs of Gingers, I would definitely have a pair of pants that would be noticeably better-fitting than the Grana skinnies--but I'd also have 4 near-identical pairs of jeans, and that's really not necessary. For now, I'm really happy with my two new pairs of jeans, and will wear them interchangeably. For me, the biggest difference is the slightly higher rise on the Grana jeans. Overall, two high-quality pairs of jeans that fit really well.

When it comes to jeans, which do you prefer, DIY or the RTW? Comparing the two, are you more likely to break out the credit card or the topstitching thread? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and If you'd like to see more posts like this in future (tee shirts perhaps? outerwear? anything you'd love to see?).


ps: a few more grana favorites--this tee shirt is the nicest one i've ever owned, a breezy tank dress i'd wear as a slip or a date-night dress, and a pretty, silky pajama set complete with coordinating mask! plus, alex has these pants (both nicer and cheaper than his go-to j. crew chinos) and a cashmere sweater and loves both; that cashmere is so soft.

allie J.

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