Embracing the chaos

After a very all-over-the-place July, it has been a bit trying getting settled back into the routine here. It just hasn’t been happening. This weekend, I just decided to go with it. Embrace the chaos and do something fun amid the crazy. So I set my knitting needles aside for a few hours & got out my sewing machine.

Now I grew up in a house where my mom sewed a lot. She did (and still does) quilt and she even made fair bit of my clothing all the way through high school, so sewing is something for which I have a decent understanding. You can say things like bias tape & stitch-in-the-ditch to me and I’ll know what you’re talking about. I actually brought my sewing machine – a Pfaff that was about 5years older than me that weighed roughly 45lbs — with me to college, but didn’t really use it much, but like knitting it was high on my list of things I pursued after graduation . I even worked at the retail store Nancy’s Notions — the companion to the catalog/shop created by the esteemed Nancy Zieman of Sewing with Nancy — for a few years when we first moved into our house. My knowledge grew a bit, I experimented a lot, and I splurged on a decent sewing machine and serger. Although I tried a lot of new things, generally speaking I didn’t get very far. I made a attempts at clothes for myself, a few little tops and pants, and blankets for my kids when they were born, but for the most part I switched almost exclusively to knitting for the portability of it once I had my babies. Life was far to on-the-go to be tied to a machine.

After a  L O N G  hiatus, a few months or a year ago I learned about Made by Rae patterns from reading a blog — I think it was Jane Richmond’s, but I’m not sure. I instantly loved the modern style of the patterns. The pattern I liked at the time though – the Washi Dress — involved smocking and I was just not in a place where I had the confidence or patience to deal with smocking. When the Ruby Dress & Top came out this spring & showed up in SouleMama’s blog, I jumped at it. It was mid-March after the longest, coldest winter in recent memory and I had been looking at spring & summer tops not really finding what I wanted. This pattern was four pieces and the hardest part would be the gathers (I failed to notice the bias tape aspect before purchasing the pattern). What really sold me though was the fabric SouleMama used… my favorite was the dress made with  Nani Iro fabrics which I discovered in stock at Alewives Fabrics thanks to the handy link in the post. I selected that fabric along with some plain white muslin and a couple others (I was pretty ambitious back in mid-March) and I was convinced I could make my spring & summer wardrobe really awesome for less money & better quality than my ready-made options. I figured I’d have these sewn up before the school year ended.

Well, on August 2nd, I got everything out & re-ironed my (thankfully) already pre-washed fabrics.

20140804-131124-47484301.jpgI even found my nice sewing scissors — no small miracle in the disaster/dumping ground that is my sewing area.

20140804-131125-47485382.jpgFor the first Ruby top, I used plain white muslin. I like muslin partly because it is cheap, but also because I honestly really love crisp, white muslin. Every spring I buy one or two white tops which inevitably get trashed with coffee spills, dirt, and all the other disasters that befall truly worn & loved clothes. Every year the tops I buy are not quite perfect. I hoped to change that this year…

20140804-131126-47486422.jpgAnd within a couple hours I had hit my mark. It. Is. Perfect. The fit, the feel of the muslin, everything. It is 100% fab. I did follow the super amazing Ruby Dress Yoke Lining Video Tutuorials to make a fully lined yoke. Honestly, for someone just trying to get back into sewing, I highly recommend this route. While the fully lined yoke is labeled as slightly more advanced, I think having the tutorials there to hold my hand made it a million times easier than if I had tried to go it alone even with an unlined yoke. The pattern is extremely well written, but the tutorials really take you step-by-step.

I had such a great experience sewing this top — and my kids were so impressed that I managed the feat — that the following day I whipped up two more.

20140804-131127-47487589.jpgThis time I was a little more brave and busted out my super cool prints from Alewives Fabrics. I was so determined to do a good job that I even ripped out one of the hand sewn finishing seams after realizing I had botched it a little.

20140804-131128-47488827.jpgIt took longer than expected, but it was worth it. This morning I was ready for a little photo shoot…

muslinMy beautiful muslin.

turquoise flowersMy lovely Sarah Jane Studios Wee Wander Meandering Petals. This one reminds me prints from the 1950s. I love it.

tulipsAnd my beloved  Nani Iro print. There are so many things I love about how this one turned out. From the tulips, to the swath of blue on the right side of the yoke to the underarm bias tapes that are different colors. I love all three, but this one makes me feel like getting back to sewing was worth it.

I have a few more fabrics left from my overly-optimistic order this spring. I may whip them up this fall yet — I can see wearing these over long-sleeved tops or paired with sweaters this fall. I may also wait for next spring. Whatever the case, my eyes are starting to sneak peaks at the Bianca Dress & Top. I have a simple black dress that’s a very similar style that I picked up on super discount at Target 4 or 5 years ago and it needs to be replaced since I wear it a couple times a week with heavy tights & boots in winter. There is some shirring/elastic at the waist on the Bianca Dress which is kind of scary for me, but there’s a tutorial for that shirring… You know what, I can probably handle it. The overly-optimistic seems to be working for me… as does embracing the chaos.  With results like this…

all 3I think I’m just going to keep going with it.

15 thoughts on “Embracing the chaos”

    1. It does! There’s something about getting something right that isn’t super familiar that really makes you feel good, isn’t there?! Awesome job on your first top! I hope it was a great experience for you!

  1. I sewed way before I picked up the needles – and still do – I make my tops and whatever else hits my fancy. I love doing it, the fabrics are yummy and I don’t have to buy stuff that’s not flattering any longer. Welcome to another addiction – you’re hooked for good Sarah!

    1. As I said, I’ve sewed since I was little, but this is the first time I’ve really found patterns that I could make *and* suited my style. It makes a huge difference! And I think you are right!!!

      1. I love finding that special pattern company – I love Style Arc and get as many as I can – shipping is high, but they all fit!

      2. The patterns come in one size. She gives you a free one every month – WHOOT and I have never sewed a better set of patterns – there’s lots of pictures of them on my blog

  2. I love your blouses–so crisp! I learned to sew in the 90’s from inexpensive patterns, so stylish and well written are not part of my sewing experience. Seeing patterns like these make me want to try again!

    1. You should! I have nothing but praise for Made By Rae. I’m probably not the best judge, but I don’t see why a newbie couldn’t do Ruby. Especially considering there are such detailed tutorials, I think it would be worth a try if you’re so inclined. 😉

  3. Oh, my, I would wear all three of those in a heartbeat! I’ve been wearing two linen tops in this exact style for almost a decade and as soft as the linen has become…I could use a change of scenery! I wish I knew how to sew even a little bit, but I don’t…I think I will have to send this post to my mother (“my” seamstress) with a wink, wink. Beautiful work, Sarah!

    Sewing with Nancy is a rainy weekend staple here! 🙂

    1. My mom handles all quilt & potholder making for my house, but I don’t think she’s done clothes since I was in high school. I was super nerdy with a lot of novelty fabric skirts – lol! So nice that your mom still hooks you up! I’ve found that now I have a lot more patience for sewing – perhaps because the kids or bigger or I’m just generally have a bit more time. I’m looking forward to trying some new things!

      And for the record, of course I didn’t run into her often, but Nancy is pretty much the nicest person on Earth. 🙂

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