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?

xoxo,
allie

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)



shopstyle...

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!

xoxo,
allie

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



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Lemon Ice (Orla Dress + Ogden Cami)

I'm back again with another Orla dress--and I think I mentioned last month that I couldn't get enough white eyelet? When I made my first white eyelet item of the summer, this pleated skirt, I mentioned that I wanted to wear it with different colored slips. This dress is the extension of that idea!

This Orla has two simple changes that, along with the fabric choice, give it a totally new look. First, I added an exposed neck facing--I think it looks a little neater than using the bias binding neckline when the body of the dress is in eyelet.  There's a tutorial on how to do this at the bottom of this post if you want to do the same thing! All you need to do is use your bodice pattern pieces to draft your facing, and then apply it on the outside of the dress rather than hidden on the inside. You can do this on any dress with a neckline facing, too, for a little change. (If you wanted to stick with the bias neck finish you could, though! I've done that before and you can see it on this coral eyelet dress.) The second change is the addition of a waistband. Since the Orla has a raised waistline, I made no changes to the bodice pattern pieces. I tore along the width of my contrast fabric to create a 2.5" wide strip, and sewed it to the bottom of my completed top before trimming the edges to match the bottom of the bodice. Then just gather your skirt as usual and attach to the bottom of the waistband, rather than the bottom of the bodice pieces!

The slip underneath in the Ogden Cami, one of my favorite easy patterns. I spent ages half-heartedly looking for a non-bias cut cami (preferably dartless) and when the Ogden was released I had high hopes--that have been totally exceeded. I'm not the first one to make an Ogden dress so I can't take credit for the idea, but I do plan on making tons of them! For this one, I just extended the side seam lines by about 10 or 11" (I'm not sure since I serged some of the bottom off), which is similar to what Emerald Erin did with hers, but True Bias has a tutorial on how to add a gathered skirt and I want to do that next (I even have some stripey fabric so I plan on copying this look)! Sew Busy Lizzy left the half-lining on the outside for a sweet overlay and I may do that too. So many ideas... I'll have to do an Ogden month next, I guess!

I've been seeing such pretty Orla's popping up on instagram, be sure to take a look at the #anorlaaffair hashtag for lots more community inspiration! Y'all amaze me.


xoxo,
allie

ps: this yellow slip is way too yellow for me to wear alone but I've been wearing it as a nightgown!



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Floral Orla (French Navy Now Orla)

I'm going to go a little wild with the pattern hacking in the coming weeks, so to start off my month of Orla dresses, I thought I'd first make a plain version just as written, only making my personal fit modifications.

Sometimes people ask what fitting I do, and I always think this is kind of a funny question. First, I'm no fit expert. I generally strive for "better than off the rack" and focus my adjustments on fitting my smaller bust and larger hips (#pearproblems) but I don't claim that my clothes fit perfectly (except when I do). Secondly, every body is different! That's why we sew right? So I can tell you in minute detail what changes I made, but that doesn't necessarily mean those are the changes you should make! Even if my bust/waist/hip numbers are exactly the same as yours, we won't have the same all-over shape: even after taking like 100 measurements for my sloper, I still made adjustments! It's not a perfect science. But, since you ask, here are the adjustments I made:

Bust dart: The bust dart on the Orla is pretty high on me, over the apex of my bust. Luckily, this is a really easy change to make! If you made a muslin, mark the apex of your bust, and then transfer that point to your pattern piece. (i.e. if your bust point is 1" lower than the dart point of your muslin, measure 1" lower on your pattern piece.) Then measure about 1" straight down from your bust point to find the point of your dart! You don't want the point of the dart to end right on the apex of your bust. Redraw your dart legs and you're good to go. Here's a tutorial explaining. (If you don't feel comfortable doing flat pattern modifications, you could even make the bodice of the dress (without sewing the darts), then try it on and pin them into place on your body.)

Waist: The waist of the Orla hits just above natural waist on me, but this is intentional--the pattern description says the Orla has a "flattering, slightly raised waist," so for this version, I left the waist where it is. Stay tuned for upcoming versions, though!

Neckline: The neckline of the Orla is very sliiightly squared off as written. I raised it by 1" (personal preference) and rounded it out just the tiniest bit.

Sleeves: I have forward shoulders so I made a forward shoulder adjustment by slicing off the top of the sleeve pattern and scooting it forward before reattaching it and redrawing the curves. I talked about doing this during my sloper tribulations but here's a little tutorial on it.

Skirt: No adjustment--this is a simple gathered rectangle skirt, my favorite style and easy to fit, so I left it as is.

Finally, although the rest of my month of Orlas will not be done in quilting cotton, this one is. I know a lot of bloggers pooh-pooh quilting cotton, and they're right--it's not the correct fabric for many projects. For this dress, athough it does call for rayon or similar, a quilting cotton is a perfectly fine choice, especially for a beginner who doesn't want to wrangle a slippery fabric! Many of my first dresses were made with quilting cotton, and it's an easy option for a summer sundress that doesn't depend on drapey fabric. An Orla in quilting cotton makes an extra simple throw-on-and-go summer dress.

What do you think of this original, as-designed Orla? I like that it has that essential 50s look without being too vintage-y; it's very wearable for even a non-vintage lover. I hope you agree, and I'd love to see your versions!

xoxo,
allie

ps: okay, okay, so its not exaaactly as written... i couldn't help myself and added a tiny bit of piping at the waist when i noticed i already had perfectly matching bias tape!



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Introducing Orla Month


Recently I've started getting more questions from beginner and aspiring dressmakers, wondering how I got started and what patterns they should start with. It's still incredible to me that people regularly reach out with questions and comments and compliments, since it seems so recent that I was in their position, cold emailing the sewing bloggers that I admired, asking for help and guidance (and I still do this today!). Although I'm not an expert sewer by any means, I love providing some inspiration and encouragement for newer dressmakers, and I feel strongly that this little online community we have should be welcoming and encouraging for people of all skill sets, from "hem your own dress" to "couture gown from scratch"! The more the merrier!

A few months ago, I shared 8 beginner-friendly vintage-style patterns, and today I'm kicking off a month-long event I've designed with some friends to encourage you--yes, you!--to sew a dress, even if you never have before. I've even picked a free pattern, so what's stopping you! The Orla from French Navy is about as simple as it gets, while still having all the proper elements of a fitted woven dress: darts, zipper, gathered skirt. This isn't really a traditional sewalong--there won't be a step-by-step, color photographed, instructional blog series--so for lack of a more appropriate term, we're just calling it an Orla Affair! v. fancy, I know. I've also brought together some friends with different aesthetics to help me out, so you'll get a few different view points: Rachel from Maker Style has a practical, sexy style, Maddie of Maddie Made This totally rocks casual femininity (and represents our #sewingtall friends!), and Anya of Anna Zoe goes from sweet to edgy so easily. If you're itching to see Orla like, now, head on over to instagram and check out the many versions already there, including several from our Orla Affair hosts!!

Here's what to expect: here on my blog (which I'm not really sure what to call any more--allie J.? the Allie Jackson blog? haha) I'll have 4 versions of the Orla dress, with instructions on how to mix it up a little bit, if you are of a pattern hacking persuasion. In the first week, I will be sharing some of the details that are often skipped over in my regular blog posts, and people ask for: how exactly I alter the fit from my bodice muslin. The next three weeks will have little mini-tutorials on special pattern modifications, for a total of four totally different dresses, all with that essential vintage, fit-and-flare look to them. I can't stray too too far from my roots, can I?

Elsewhere, Rachel over at Maker Style will be sharing illustrated instructions for the pattern, since it comes with text-only instructions, and two more variations on the pattern. Maddie of Maddie Made This will also be bringing you more mods (and embroidery!! yesss), and Anya of Anna Zoe has even more! If you are keeping track at home, that is... a totally bananas amount of Orla dresses.

Here's our (subject to change ;) lineup:

July 1: Introduction posts at allie J. and MaddieMadeThis
July 3: Fitting the Orla on allie J. 
July 5: Illustrated Instructions on Maker Style
July 6: Customization Inspiration on MaddieMadeThis
July 8: A Sleeveless Orla on Anna Zoe
July 10: An Eyelet Orla on allie J.
July 13: Embroidery patterns for the Orla on MaddieMadeThis
July 17: A Preppy Orla on allie J.
July 18: Adding a Shirt Collar on Anna Zoe
July 19: An Orla Hack on MakerStyle
July 20: Lace Up Front Orla Hack on MaddieMadeThis
July 24: A Vintage Orla on allie J.
July 28: Orla shift on Anna Zoe
July 31: An Orla Roundup on allie J. and MaddieMadeThis
August 3: The Orla Affair winners announcement on allie J. and MaddieMadeThis!

Wait, winners? We are super lucky to have an amazing lineup of sponsors who have agreed to donate prizes to some of you lucky ones who make an Orla and post it on instagram... but you'll have to head over to Maddie Made This to learn about the giveaways!

xoxo,
allie

ps: i'm seriously so excited, i think you're going to love this.



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