Altering the Rae for a Flat Waistband (Measure Fabric)

Thank you to Measure Fabric for providing the chambray for this tutorial! 

Since I've made about a hundred Rae skirts with this modification, and I'm clearly obsessed, I thought I might as well make a little tutorial for it! It's a simple change that I love; it dresses the skirt up a little bit but maintains the original flirty silhouette. I used a denim-colored chambray from Measure Fabric for a casual look but you can dress this silhouette up or down--basically all of my skirts are some variation of the Rae at this point! This tutorial is for literally the exact way I make this version of the Rae, so it's not necessarily the exact right way to do it, just how I personally do it, lazy shortcuts and all. You've been warned!

By the way, you don't need the Rae skirt pattern for this tutorial, you could use any number of similar elastic waist skirts patterns that are designed like the Rae with an attached casing. (Although, I haven't used any others personally so no guarantees there.)

Tutorial below the cut!

Spoonflower’s Quick-Sew Project Book (Review + Tutorial)

Hello! I have mentioned before that Spoonflower is right around the corner from me (like, less than 10 minutes from my house) so I always enjoy partnering with them--we're neighbors! Today I'm here to help launch their new Quick-Sew Project Book.

The Quick-Sew Project Book contains tutorial-style instructions for 34 different projects of varying skill levels and the book is divided up by amount of fabric needed--from a swatch (8" x 8") to a few yards. I've never seen a similar arrangement and I think it's so smart--we all have those smaller scraps of fabric we can't let go of or one-yard pieces that we're not sure what to do with.

Everyone participating in this blog hop is personalizing the Two-Swatch Sunglasses Case--it's such a clever design, utilizing a pair of 8" by 8" Spoonflower swatches to make a cute pouch. I made mine with two coordinating prints from the same designer. On the outside is this glam velvet. On the inside, the same pattern, in a neutral, monochrome colorway.

The full tutorial for the pouch is available on the Spoonflower blog here--it's super easy!--but today I'll just show you how I added a cute scallop trim to the top of mine. First cut two 8" lengths of trim. If you only have a little bit, you could also cut one and put in on one side of your pouch only.

Pattern Comparison (Megan Nielsen Ash & Closet Case Ginger)

If you didn't see these photos--first start at my post for Harts Fabric!

For this post, I'm comparing the Megan Nielsen Ash Jeans and the Closet Case Gingers, both made out of the same fabric--the Telio Allego stretch denim in black. These are my third or fourth pair of Gingers, so they are starting with a bit of an advantage--I've tweaked the fit each time I've made them, improving it slightly each go.

The Gingers are view B, the high-waisted skinny, and the Ash are view 2, the skinny leg (all views have the same rise). Gingers on the right (slightly faded), Ash on the left (distressed)--you can click to see extra big versions:

Here are the technical details!

Closet Case Ginger
Price: $18 USD
Views: a low-rise slim leg, and a high-rise skinny are included in the pattern, plus a flare expansion ($7 extra) and a separate mid-rise pattern ($12).
Size range: waist 24-39"

Megan Nielsen Ash
Prince: $20 USD
Four views included, all with the same mid-rise: skinny, straight, flare, and wide leg. Three lengths: crop, regular, and tall.
Size range: waist 24-36"

My sizing: I am 5'7" and my measurements are a 26/27" waist and a 38/39" hip. I grade between an eight and a ten in the Gingers and then take the waist in a little extra bit. For the Ash, I originally graded between the 27 and 28, and took the waist in to about the 26. I ended up sizing up to the 28 waistband and squeezing an extra half inch out of the side seams (3/8" seam allowance instead of 5/8"). The only style change I made to the Ash was to cut the waistband along the stretch of the fabric (as suggested by Lara) and to add 3/4" to the rise, to match the rise I like in the Gingers. (The Gingers' rise as written (for the high waist) is 9 1/2" and I prefer it with an inch added, and the Ash is 9 3/4", so I just added 3/4" here for the same rise overall--although they still ended up a little shorter, not sure why).

- The Ash jeans fit really well out of the envelope--I really like the shape--but were quite small all over!
- The Gingers have those genius pockets that go into the zip and suck everything in. Lovvvve those.
- The Ash jeans have a great way of applying belt loops that I will steal in the future.
- The Ash jeans have a better fit through the small of the back for me--I usually have to scoop a little out of the yoke of the Gingers (vertically and horizontally). Could be just because they are tighter overall.
- Something is weird with the Ash sizing--especially the waistband, I'm not the only one who thinks it is really wildly tight.
- I prefer the zipper installation for the Gingers. I have heard a lot of people prefer the Ash instructions though, so it might just be that I am accustomed to the Ginger method.

Which should I buy?
Although the Ash Jeans are slightly more expensive, you get more leg views for the price, so if you aren't going to be disappointed to find yourself in a larger-than-RTW size, and a mid-rise works for you, go for the Ash. If you anticipate fitting into the largest size, be warned: cut large seam allowances for the outseam or you risk not fitting into the size range. If you really want a low and high-rise and don't anticipate making flares or wide leg jeans (or don't mind paying extra for a flare leg), go for Gingers, which also have a slightly larger size range.

When I make my next pair of jeans, which pattern will I use?
Wait and see! aka I don't know. It's a close call, but I'm leaning toward Ash to try and nail the fit.


ps: there will be another pair of jeans soon but then... no more jeans for a while. 

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DIY Raw Denim (aka Higher Standards part 1)

Raw denim jeans before and after wearing, from this great article about the history of raw denim.

I used to have this pair of A.P.C. Petit Standards. They were raw denim, zero stretch, mid-rise straight leg jeans, actually unisex. I wore them a ton and loved them. Now, however, they don't pass my fit test! When A.P.C. launched women's denim (with stretch, even, omg what) I was verrrry tempted to make a purchase but then I thought of my amazing handmade jeans collection and decided to do some experimenting instead of online ordering.

The High Standards, the new higher-waisted women's raw denim, are 98% cotton, 2% polyurethane (presumably the stretch) and just look like dark-wash jeans, you know? The magic, of course, is that the fabric is not pre-washed, and then you go as long as humanly possible without washing (like, 6 plus months) and when you finally do, you wash very carefully, and eventually, you get all these beautiful (to some) natural fade marks that are perfectly suited to your body and the way you wear the jeans. People go wild for this stuff. I recommend not getting involved.

It was absolutely perfect timing that Fashion Fabrics Club (of all places) had a nice selection of Japansese selvedge denims. I picked a heavier one (11.5 oz) described as such:

11.5 oz. Cotton Dark Wash Selvedge Denim
-Made in Japan
-Weight: Heavy
-Transparency: Opaque
-Hand: Dry
-Stretch: Slight Horizontal Stretch
-Drape: Stiff
-Luster: Matte

They things that suggested this fabric to me were the keywords "dry" (raw denim is often described as such) and "stiff" as well as the deep indigo color, all of which seemed promising. 4 yards (since it's only about 30" wide) come to less than $50 with shipping--definitely cheaper than A.P.C.!

Even though this fabric is not prewashed (gulp) and not very stretchy, I'm not planning making any pattern changes--my expectations are that they will be very tight when I first put them on, they will loosen up gradually as I wear them (without washing, for as long as I can stand it), and then after the first wash they were be very tight again--also, likely a decent bit shorter.

I haven't started sewing yet, but I wanted to put down some thoughts since I think there are probably some other people out there on the internet who are trying to do the same thing. I'll update y'all when they are all sewn up (assuming they fit okay) and again after the magical First Wash. First step: decide which pattern to use: Ash or Ginger? I think I'm leaning towards Ash, and using the slim, rather than skinny leg, maybe with some modifications since it seems a shame to cut off those pretty selvedges...


ps: is it 2011? because this blog seems like its 2011.

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Sew Your Hart Out September (Megan Nielsen Ash & River)

Just dropping by today to say I have a guest post up on the Harts Fabric blog as part of Sew Your Hart Out September (one of my favorite events of the year). Hop on over there to read my full reviews of Megan Nielsen's River top and Ash jeans, both in Telio fabric from Harts!


ps: spoilers--rave reviews all around

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Peter Pan Granville (Measure Fabric)

Thank you to Measure Fabric for providing the fabric for this project.

I have a documented love for Peter Pan collar blouses dating back basically to the verrry beginning of this blog. I think it may be a subconscious holdover from the uniform I wore as an elementary school student, which was a little plaid pinafore worn over a peter pan collar blouse. So cute! Before I knew how to sew, I lamented the fact that there are very few adult-sized peter pan collar shirts and fewer without puff sleeves--these two things seem to go in pairs and I hate hate hate puff sleeves! Now that I have a go-to shirt pattern, the Sewaholic Granville, it was an obvious next step to change the collar slightly to create the peter pan collar shirt pattern of my dreams! I just rounded off the collar points to make this change. It's a very simple alteration that just gives the shirt a slightly different feel. Since the rest of the shirt is still very traditional, it's not over girly even with the sweet collar.

I also rounded off the sleeve cuffs. The fact that it echoes the shirt collar nicely is a nice bonus, but the primary reason for this change was practical rather than aesthetic--it's a bit easier to sew and means if your button and buttonhole aren't perfectly aligned, it's not quite so obvious as the square cuff. All of the Ralph Lauren button down shirts have a slightly rounded cuff!

This shirt's collar and cuffs are the best I've ever done, I think, and I'm very proud of the plackets on this shirt--all of which comes down to the fabric! This shirting from Measure Fabric is very crisp, so it pressed amazingly and I think it will be very durable in the long run since it is so tightly woven. It reads as blue to me, but when selecting thread from the display I was surprised that it matched best with the pale purples, not the blues. Maybe it looks purple to you?

I have a little bit of this fabric left over so I'm going to see if I can squeeze a sleeveless version out of it; I mentioned in my Fall/Winter sewing post that I wanted to make some layering pieces for under sweaters in the winter, and I think I might be able to use the rest of this to make one if I use something else for neckbands, sleeve binding, etc. Creative pattern cutting is always exciting!

How do you feel about Peter Pan collars? Yay or nay?


ps: are you impressed i said i was going to make something and basically immediately made it, instead of just repeating my intentions year after year and never doing it (cough bambo coat cough) because I am!

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Fall/Winter Sewing Plans

In February I wrote up my spring/summer sewing plans and although I didn't check off everything on my list, I really enjoyed having my list to refer back to when I was in a slump. I'm back with a fall/winter list with the same expectations: I probably won't make everything that is on this list and I will definitely make things that are not, but it's nice to have!

I still have a few things on my #menswearmakenine grid to make: a peacoat, a trench coat, and the sweatshirt, pants, and tee from the Japanese everyday clothing book I purchased last year. I really want to finish nine separate items, but I might mix it up a little bit in order to complete them all--I doubt both a trench and a pea coat will get competed by the end of the year--but I could definitely do a sweatshirt (I even have the fabric), tee, and try a couple of the different pants patterns. I am interested in doing a pair of drawstring waist chinos (as seen in the Paris FW Hermes show), and the pea coat is still on my list.

As for me...
1. The Waffle Patterns Bamboo coat. I have some blush pink fabric in the mail (c/o Minerva Crafts) to make a Bamboo coat after years of talking about it--and I made a muslin and it's so weird! I tried on this Sessun coat at Liberty which has a similar cocoon shape and really liked it but for some reason my Bamboo coat muslin feels weird. I'll tackle this though! Once I make one version, I'd like to make a second in some camel wool I've had for a while, with a full thinsulate lining, etc., for warmth. (I've been muslining on instastories! Also, doing projects in collaboration with fabric stores is always a great motivator--it's how I made my first pair of jeans, too haha)

2. A second pair of black jeans. I loved my first pair in this Telio fabric from Harts and I was so excited to have that little bit left over that I needed to make some cutoff shorts. I wear them a ton because I can wear them to work (no denim allowed, but black jeans are okay), but I want to make a second pair to distress for maximum girl gang vibes--and this time, I'm going to try out the Megan Nielsen Ash jeans to do a little compare/contrast. (You make have seen this on my instagram stories as well!)

3. Black Rae skirt. I wear my others so much, I'd like a plain black version.

4. Sleeveless white Granville shirt. This doesn't sound like a winter make, but I'd be making it to wear it under sweaters. I love having the collar peek out of a sweater, but hate having my sleeves all bunchy. Sleeveless collared shirt for layering = problem solved.

5. A pair of raw denim jeans. I sent my first pair of blue denim Gingers off to my friend Nat at Nite Tacos for some embroidery so I'm in need of a new plain pair. I'm not sure which jeans pattern I'll use, Ginger or Ash, but anyway, details/plans forthcoming--this will be A Project.

Actually... that's about it. I'm feeling a bit minimalist at the moment and have done some destashing in my sewing room, decluttering in my home, and made a huge bag of clothes for a clothing swap at the end of the year with friends. I'm in much more of a paring-down mood than a creative mood, and I don't think that's a bad thing. (Plus, I'm sure it won't last long.) I'd expect to see more styling outfits rather than new stuff on the blog in then next few months, although I do have some fun things coming up, don't worry!


ps: omg i apologize if this blog gets super boring: jeans, yet another rae, another granville?! so many repeats

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Lace Skirt (Measure Fabric)

Thank you to Measure Fabric for providing the fabric for this project.

I have a simple project today in a knockout fabric that shows how important fabric choice can be! This skirt is just a simple dirndl-style skirt, that is, just a rectangle gathered into a waistband with a ruffle added to the bottom. The lace, on the other hand, is a beautiful large-scale black guipure-type lace with an unusual design, that just makes the look pop! Although I had originally thought I'd make a dress, I had second thoughts when I remembered this simple black Ogden cami in my closet, and thought a skirt would be more wearable than a whole dress in such a statement texture.

Since I didn't have a matching black solid on hand, I tried something new and used a grosgrain ribbon as the waistband. I've always wanted to try this technique and I feel like it added the perfect finishing touch to this skirt! I only wish I had a bit more left over--I wanted to make a little bow brooch that I could pin on to the waistband if I was feeling extra glam, but I ran out. (If you are looking for a tutorial, here is an old Gertie one. I just folded the ends under and used a skirt hook & eye instead of the bow finish. Here's another one that's a bit closer to what I did!)

I do have a little bit of lace left over, however, which I'm thinking will be enough for at least the front of an Ogden cami... so maybe I can have that dress look after all!


ps: i don't see this fabric on their website but send them a line on instagram since i know they have some in stock!

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Seersucker Scrappy Top (Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse)

As a pear-shaped person, I've wound up with a lot of Sewaholic patterns over the years. Generally, whenever they have a sale, I add one or two to my collection--I really should just buy the lot and not have to pay for any more shipping, but as my tastes change and sewing improves I feel like there is always one there that didn't previously catch my eye. Tragically, Sewaholic is no longer (although I've been saying that for ages and every time I do, the new owners pop up out of the woodwork to say "new pattern coming soon"--I've yet to see it materialize, but let me know if it does I guess) but that just means I can catch up on stockpiled patterns not yet made, including today's top, the Pendrell!

If you are looking at this top thinking "so cute, just like a Ralph Lauren crazy shirt" a) you must be from below the Mason Dixon Line and b) thank you! On the other hand, if you are thinking "Allie has officially gone round the bend, what is that" the answer is that having cleaned up my stash a bit I decided to make this "semi-wearable muslin" using all the scraps of seersucker I had left so yes, it's a bit wild. This took some doing, it's pieced in about 100 different parts. Yes it looks sort of wild. That's what we do here in The South.

As far as fit, I made a straight size six and didn't change anything on purpose, although in all my piecing I accidentally cut the back in two pieces, so it's about 1/2" narrower than intended to be. Since it was in two pieces anyway, I added a simple back neck keyhole, and I actually prefer this and will probably add to future versions. I also shortened the princess seam ruffles about 2-3" due to lack of fabric, so they are slightly less ruffly than written (though they are the intended finished length on the bodice). I suppose I could use a swayback adjustment, but I'm not sure if it would make it difficult/impossible to get over my shoulders, since it doesn't have any closures (yay!). The length as written is really long, almost tunic length, on my 5'7" frame, so keep that in mind; I lopped off the original hem and rehemmed this one, and I'll be shortening the next one several inches.

The only downside to this pattern is that sadly, it doesn't have a proper sleeve piece--if it had a nice little short sleeve, I would swap that in with some combination of ruffles and make infinite versions. As it is, I will probably still make several versions--I was distracted by the cute ruffles when I bought this pattern, but noticed while sewing that it's constructed much like a fitting shell, making it a good base to fit and then hack from! I think it would make a really sweet ruffly nightgown and would be easy to hack into a dress using my patented rae + elastic waist method. I'd also like to draft a little peter pan collar for it--the sleevelessness and close but comfortable fit will make this the perfect layering piece under cardis and sweaters! I have big plans for this blouse--expect to see it again!


ps: (you can see the original seersucker projects here here here and here <YELLOW ONE)

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Jiffy Tropics (Simplicity 4977)

I have a few vintage patterns that I return to again and again and one of them is Simplicity 6820, a 60s trapeze "Jiffy" dress that lauds itself on only having "3 main pattern pieces." I've made it a few times and the leopard one, especially, is basically never in my closet, always either in the laundry basket or on my body as I head off to work. Recently when browsing etsy, though, I saw this (quite similar) pattern, Simplicity 4977 and seeing that it boasted only "2 main pattern pieces" I could not resist temptation!

Simplicity 4977 is slightly earlier 60s Jiffy dress, and the main difference in the two patterns is that while 6820 (from 1966) has raglan sleeves, 4977 (c. early 60s) has kimono sleeves. 4977 also has a slightly less full skirt and bust darts. Due to the slightly less full skirt (and the tendancy of 60s patterns to be rather straight up-and-down with no allowance for hips whatsoever!) I went with the size medium (but 34/36) rather than my usual 32 bust. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was huge! The bust was quite large--I am used to doing slight small bust adjustments (for example, 3/8" on my go-to fitted bodice, Simplicity 4475) this one I did a full inch adjustment. I think this basically had the effect of both taking the front down a size and doing a small bust adjustment.

You might notice that although I mentioned a bust dart on the pattern, there is not one on my dress! I've rotated the side bust dart into the skirt to gain back a little bit of the ease lost when I did the SBA. Since the pattern ended up with no darts, no sleeves, no zipper, no nothing, it took about 2 seconds to sew, once I finished making all the pattern adjustments!

Will it replace my standby Simplicity 6820? After all that, I'm not sure it will. I think I prefer the swingier skirt that 6820 has, and although I could just make the skirt on 4977 a bit wider, I'm not sure I want to spend a lot more time making alterations to the pattern. After all, I know that 6820 can also be made without a zipper (like I did here) and the raglan sleeves don't add all that much difficulty (although they do take up a bit more fabric). I'd like to make at least one more version of this pattern, in a plain black stretch rayon crepe that would be a pain to do the raglan sleeves in (because it's a lot of bias cutting/sewing) and maybe add some cuffs for a little bit of detail. After that... I may return to 6820 for dresses. I do think I'm likely to use the pattern as a top though--since I went through all that trouble getting it to fit!


ps: i'm sorry 6820 isn't available on etsy right now! i talk about it so much that i think y'all have snapped them all up :)

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