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  • Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

    I have a new favorite pattern, and it's definitely not helping the fact that I REALLY want a serger. The Grainline Linden sweatshirt is such a perfect, quick project to whip up, I might just make two more this week.

    The style fits in nicely with the rest of my cold weather wardrobe. A friend at work always jokes that I dress super girly in the warm weather, lots of twirly dresses and bright colors, and then switch into tomboy mode once it cools down. She's pretty accurate, I love loose tees, crew neck sweaters layered over button ups, and everything menswear inspired. My shoe collection looks shockingly similar to Tony's, and I reach for warm, cozy layers.

    I made both versions of this top and I love them equally. First up is view A, a classic raglan sleeve, crew neck sweatshirt. I tiled the PDF pattern, traced out my size, cut, and finished this entire top in under 4 hours.

    Tony and I were in New York a couple weeks ago, so I picked up a ton of sweatshirt fleece and french terry at Mood. I started off with a classic heather grey. I cut a size 4 based on the finished measurements of this top, and comparing them to a RTW sweatshirt I like the fit on, and while I'm happy it and it's totally wearable, I'll make a few adjustments for the next one.

    There's a bit of excess material near the armpit, the sleeves are a touch long, and I would like the neckline binding to be a bit wider on my next version. The inside of this fabric is so soft, I was tempted to make it with the wrong side facing out, but luckily Noah at Gather Here was able to talk me out of it, since it would have been like wearing velcro.

    Flat Cat came to hang out during our photoshoot, he approves.

    Version B came together even quicker today since it doesn't require sleeve bindings or a bottom band. For this I re-traced the pattern and graded from a 2 to a 6 and I'm really happy with the final result, I'll make these same adjustments to the long sleeve version.

    I used some leftover black organic jersey I had from last year, and made some cuffed sleeves and mimicked a twin needle hem by sewing two rows of stitching about 1/8 inch apart. SInce jersey doesn't fray, I used my regular sewing machine for this version, and had great success using the stretch stitch and fancy walking foot that my Pfaff has built right in. Our street was busy tonight, so my awkward game was spot on.

    The subtle high-low hem is really flattering, and this feels so comfortable on. I like the slightly more open neckline since, I find it much more flattering than a real crew neck. I'm planning to make a second version out of a much heavier knit, so I'm interested to see how the shape will change, I can see this a bit more structured with a button up underneath.

    Jen makes some of my favorite patterns. When I first starting sewing a few years ago, I was drawn to dresses and skirts, probably because they are a bit less intimidating to fit, but I have tons of stuff hanging in my closet that just doesn't get worn. It was tough for a while to find patterns that don't feel super twee, and aren't so basic that I couldn't just draft it myself. Grainline patterns fill that void for me, they are always easy to fit, modern shapes, and the instructions are spot on. 

  • October Style Challenge: Your best bridesmaid look

    When Alex at Weddington Way contacted me about doing this style challenge I was in the midst of trying to nail down bridal party attire for my own girlfriends, so it really was perfect timing. Plus it's always fun to pick out dream outfits with no budget! 

    I've got pretty consistent fancy dress taste, so finding an outfit that I would love to wear as a friends bridesmaid was really simple. I checked out their selection of bridesmaids dresses, and chose a classic tailored navy dress with a full skirt, dove grey heels, an embellished belt (which I think is a great way to make your Maid of Honor stand out!), some quirky frog prince studs and my favorite makeup look for evening, a retro matte lip in a bold fushia that would photograph like a dream. 

    Check out all the entries on their blog or facebook page, and maye you'll be inspired for your own wedding!

    1  /  2  /  3  /  4  / 5 

  • My second, slightly improved Belladone

    { Loafers: J.Crew, Bag: Fossil (color sold out unfortunately), Sunglasses: Warby Parker Piper, old AE Denim Jacket}

    This pattern may look a bit familiar, I used it for my catnap dress but it was not a huge success. The bodice on that one fit a bit funny in the front, and the back pieces still weren't laying flat, a common issue it seems with this dress. I successfully adjusted the front bodice, and the armholes are fitting a bit more comfortably. 

    And this time around I did invisible bias binding on the armholes and neckline since I still can't really get down with visible bias binding, even though I've seen it on RTW clothing. I still think the pockets add a bit of bulk in the hip, which I like to avoid, but these are actually useful pockets so I kept them.

    Even after adjusting the back, I ended up having to add two small darts into the lower bodice, which means the armholes are no longer laying perfectly flat. Visible bra is pretty annoying.

    But I'm so happy with this fabric choice, a simple navy dot, and the overall look of this dress that I will probably just throw on my denim jacket, or a cardigan, and hide the error until it's too warm out. But that back view is pretty terrible.

    If you know me in real life, then you know I love menswear inspired shoes, so when I found these loafers on crazy sale (unfortunately no longer as cheap) I was pretty pumped. I have a similar red leather pair that I am obsessed with. But I was struggling to match them with many items in my closet since they don't work with stripes, and that's pretty much all of my navy and white clothing, but I love how the worked with this dress, it was very Jessica Day.

    Also just for fun, I'll leave you with this lovely outtake of me escaping some oncoming traffic.

  • Lizzy House Catnap Contest!

    It's been a long time, and I have in fact made lots of things! They just haven't been photographed since the polar vortex took over and I've been hybernating.

    You have a couple new garments to look forward to once it thaws, including a knockoff J. Crew fluted skirt, a black renfrew hack dress, and soon another Belladone with a way better fitting bodice. But on to important news...

    I finished my Lizzyhouse Catnap dress entry, and though I don't have high hopes for winning the solo contest, I'm feeling pretty excited about entering with the lovely ladies at Gather Here. I already saw Carla's dress and it's wonderful (and strapless!)

    I used the Deer & Doe Belladone, and I absolutely love the look of the dress, however, I had some major pattern fitting issues. Thankfully, I think I know what to change for my next version. My bust measurement was spot on for the 38, so I cut the bodice in a size 38, graded the waist out about a half inch, which I ended up taking back in, and cut the skirt in a 42 with the waist graded up to the 38. But none of that can account for all the issues I had with the back and neckline.

    I chose the Kitty Dreams in white fabric, and originally had plans to make the entire dress out of it, but then a happy accident happened. Gather Here was still waiting for more of the white to come in, so I changed my plan and used some aubergine cotton linen (I think?) blend for the skirt. It drapes really well, and it feels like it could take me from summer into fall. I had just barely enough for the skirt, luckily I did the cute kitty pocket facings. 

    Pros: Love the pockets, the pleats in the skirt, and the overall ease of construction. I cut, adjusted and finished this dress in around 6 hours. The skirt didn't need to be shortened very much (beware if you are tall, I only did a 1.25 inch hem).

    Cons: The back didn't lay flat, but it didn't seem like the bodice was too long. I ended up adding two darts below the top upper back pieces, so for my next version I'll slash that pattern pieces and take out the excess. And I needed to overlap the upper back pieces quite a bit, around 1.5 inches, so that needs to be adjusted. I think the front neckline needs to be slashed as well, there's excess in there. I also don't love the suggested neck bias binding, I think I'll draft a facing for my next version, it just doesn't want to lay flat and I have a tough time wearing bias binding and not feeling crafty. I think it would fit a lot better if that piece had a closure so that it didn't have to be large enough for your head to fit through, that seems overly ambitious though.

    I'm really excited to give it a second go, it's a pattern I can see myself wearing all spring and summer! I already have fabric picked out for a second, it's going to be a bit of a Madewell knockoff.

  • Short ribs, sort of two ways

    This recipe is something I make quite often. It was inspired by tacos that were on the menu last winter at Public (http://www.publiceatanddrink.com/eat) in North Adams. It always varies slightly because I usually make it from memory, but I thought you may enjoy giving it a shot since it's SO delicious and cool weather appropriate so this time around I wrote out a base recipe. The good news is the more you make it, and cook in general, the easier it will be to taste and adjust accordingly. 

    Special tools
    Dutch oven
    Mesh strainer

    Ingredients
    2 lbs of boneless grass fed short ribs 
    1 heaping tablespoon crushed garlic, or 4 cloves chopped garlic
    1/2 cup soy sauce
    1/2 cup water
    Pinch of chinese 5 spice (adjust to taste)
    Teaspoon of dijon mustard
    Teaspoon of fish sauce (start with 1/2 teaspoon, and adjust to taste, I prefer a fair amount, but it's a polarizing condiment)
    Generous bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
    Ginger, a piece about 2-3 inches long, peeled and thinly sliced
    3 shallots, sliced
    Sesame oil, around 1 tablespoon
    salt and pepper
    Large book choy (no time for babies around here)

    To accompany
    Polenta 
    Corn tacos
    Sriracha

    1. First things first, take out your short ribs so they can get closer to room temp while you prep everything, pat them dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

    2. Heat up your dutch oven over medium high heat, add the sesame oil and sear the ribs, around 2-3 minutes on each side. Be thorough, get all those little sides. Remove the ribs from the pot and turn the haet off. At this point you have probably made some smoke happen (if you didn't, you probably aren't doing it right, it should be quite hot!) so you want to let the oil cool down, but don't rinse the crunchy burnt pieces out of pot.

    3. Once the pan has cooled, put the heat on low and add in your shallots and ginger, saute for around 5 minutes. Add in the garlic last since it burns easiest, cook for an additional minute.

    4. Add in all your remaining ingredients, bring that mix up to a boil, place the ribs back in, cover the pot and move the whole thing into the oven. There should be quite a bit of liquid, mine didn't quite cover the meat but it was almost level.

    5. Bake for around 3 hours. Carefully remove the lid once you take them out, don't forget it will be hot! I wish this wasn't true but I've burnt the palm of my hand many times because I was way too excited and forgot the lid had been in the oven. Take the ribs out of the mixture.

    6. Strain the sauce, I know this seems meticulous, but it makes the world of difference because you don't want little pieces of shallots, ginger, and cilantro in your final meal. After you strain it, put it back into the pot, break up the meat and decide what food you want to eat this on top of. It's a tough call.

    I like to serve these with bok choy, I chop the white root part of the book choy about 1/2 inch wide and keep it separate from the leaves, also roughly chopped. Heat up a skillet (preferably cast iron) on medium high, throw in the white parts, cook for about 5 minutes, add in the leaves and a small splash of soy sauce, sauté for 2 minutes and then call it done.

    Tonight I ate these two ways, first with the boy choy on a corn tortilla, a direct copy of the tacos, and second over a small fried polenta "pancake". 

  • A bit late on this Ava.

    Life has been so busy this past month, but in the absolute best of ways. I started my new job at Moo, spent a week in the London headquarters, got to meet so many awesome new friends, and I'm still working on some fun personal projects!

    This top was finished a couple weeks ago, I knew I wanted to bring it on my trip. The fabric is a beautiful silk blend that I picked up in the beginning of the summer with plans to make culottes before realizing I didn't actually buy enough fabric. What a happy accident, the drape is perfect for this peplum top. It holds it's shape enough without being too full. 

    This was my first time sewing with stretch mesh, and as much as I would love to say it was the last, I purchased about 4 yards in a variety of colors and I do love the final product. It was absolutely the most tedious sewing I've done to date. It's basically sewing fabric that is entirely made of holes.

    This was my first time with this fancy zipper installation as well, I think it looks the most professional. I don't know what it's officially called, not a lapped, not an invisible, but it's nicely hidden and reminds me most of high quality store bought clothing.

    The pattern is the Victory Ava and I already have plans to make the dress version. I graded from a 4 down to a 6 at the waist, and when I remake I will just cut a straight up 4. I will also go with my gut feeling and staystich. I didn't on this version and definitely had some stretching issues. I put the zipper in, tried it on, and ended up taking in both side seems around an inch, which inevitably meant ripping out a perfect zipper and doing it all over again.

    I'm only 5'1 and very short-wasted, so I imagine if you are of average height and long waisted you may want to lengthen the top bodice portion so that it doesn't start looking like an empire waist.

    jeans :: madewell, very old  |  shoes :: Jessica Simpson  |  bracelets and watch, both Kate Spade 

  • Cowgirls can wear ruffles

    { Blouse, Self made  ::  Jeans, old J. Crew  ::   Wedges, Dolce Vita via Marshalls }

    This is definitely my most advanced project yet and I coudn't be more excited about the final result. The pattern is the very popular Grainline Archer button up, and let me tell you, it's wonderful! The pattern has two options for the back. A simple, classic silhouette and the gathered ruffle back that I chose. It really is a fun top that I'm glad is now part of my wardrobe. 

    The fabric is something I had been eyeing for a few weeks at Gather Here but could not decide what I should use it for. The cowgirls ended up being the perfect design element for the back of this blouse. It could definitely skew at bit childish but I think using them just on the back ends up being right in that cutesy sweet spot I really like.

    For buttons I went with a contrasting gold with pink faux enamel button that I had hidden in my stash for a while. 

    Overall I would absolutely reccomend this pattern. Though I made this blouse as part of a class, I feel comfortable that given the clear instructions I could have made it through on my own if I had tried, I just prefer the social aspect of sewing classes. The most challenging aspect for me was that I chose to use silk that was a bit slippery and I didn't have any spray stabilizer so cutting was rather tedious. 

  • Summer salad juevos

    We were supposed to have the standard juevos rancheros for dinner tonight, they make a very regular appearence in our weeknight dinner rotation, but I had leftover summer salad from last night, as well as some black forest bacon, so this happened.

    First things first, start off by making this salad and if you are only feeding 2 people, eat it as a side dish for dinner one night. We had ours on Monday with a marinated buffalo sirloin. The salad is impossible to mess up, you basically just mix any veggies you like with lime juice and cilantro.

    This version makes 4 servings.

    Summer Salad

    • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
    • half a bag of frozen corn, defrosted by running under cold water
    • 2 avocados, (1 chopped, 1 reserved) 
    • 1 large heirloom tomato, chopped 
    • Generous handful of cilantro roughly chopped
    • Juice of 1 lime

    1. Mix everything together except for the second avocado which you will need for the second time you eat this salad.

    2. ENJOY!

    Day two Juevos ingredients

    • 4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4 strips 
    • I prefer the black forest variety they sell at the butcher's counter in Whole Foods
    • 4 eggs
    • 4 small corn tortillas, if you can I recomend you find the very thick homemade variety, (our corner bodega carries them) 
    • Remaining avocado, chopped
    • Sriracha

    1. Cook the bacon over medium high heat in a dutch oven until crispy, turn the heat off on the pan and remove the bacon.

    2. I brushed my cast iron griddle with some of the bacon fat, and toasted the tortillas in that on the stove top. While not technically "necessary" I will always choose bacon fat over butter/oil/any other fat.

    3. Toss the leftover salad along with the bacon in the still warm dutch oven, if you notice it's a it watery at the bottom of the salad bowl, just do your best to avoid pouring all that extra liquid in.

    4. Fry up 4 eggs to your liking, but know that I will absolutely be judging you if they don't have runny yolks.

    5. Top with Sriracha, and dig in.

    My brother had given us a dozen eggs from his chickens, so tonights yolk was even more delicious than usual.

  • Anchors away

    Last week I finished up this blouse in 2 nights. It's the Lisette market blouse, it was quite simple to fit and easy to sew. I had picked up this pattern ages ago on sale, thinking I might possibly make the skirt, but then it sat around in the studio for a year and I never really felt excited about making it. I tend to always make dresses, and realized I really needed to focus on making summer blouses so I went through all the patterns I owned and figured why not!

    Jeans, J. Crew :: Bag, Madewell :: Shoes, Spring Step

    The only adjustment I made on this version was my usual shortening of the bodice. I cut out the shoulders, sleeves, and upper torso in a 10 and graded from a couple inches below the bust dart down into the 14 so I would have a bit more room in the hip. I'm planning on adding back darts to the next version as this is still a bit boxy, but perfect for tucking in. For the first time ever I found this pattern to be rather short, I would absolutely add length if you have an average or long torso. 

    Wanting to wear something I've made to a specific event is always the best motivation. I wore this little nautical number to the Etsy Global Craft party at Gather Here on Thursday evening. We made toys for kids at Boston Children's Hospital. I made what started out as a white peacock finger puppet but ended up looking a bit more like a purple turkey. 

  • Mint eyelet peony

    The first of my summer dresses is complete! I have a long list of hopefuls, but I think a polka dot chevron version of the Clara dress will be next.

    This was my first attempt at a fully lined dress, I had done a lined bodice on the Colette Hazel, but that was last summer. It's old news that I tend to hate facings, I find them fussy, so it was thrilling to make this with NO facings! I even attempted to match the pattern perfectly on this piece, and create my own Chevron effect. The inspiration for this dress came months ago when I bought 4 yards of very light mint striped eyelett at Sewfisticated for $2/yard. 

    The light was beautiful out on our street Sunday evening. We snapped some photos before heading out to Saloon for a friends birthday. If you like whiskey, that's a great spot to check out, and all of their printed materials are so beautifully designed. They even have letterpressed business cards!

    I love that you can see the lining fabric peaking out in this shot, it's one of my favorite parts of the dress! The bright chartruese cotton voile is so comfy for summer and makes the overlayed eyelet a beautiful shade of mint. I felt transported back to Venice in this shot, if only those steps were actually leading out onto a beautiful canal. Instead we were surrounded by locals who thought we were crazy for having a photoshoot.

    {Shoes, Boden :: Sunglasses, Anthro :: Earrings & belt, Target :: The blue topaz ring was my great grandmothers}

    Overall I don't think I would make the Peony again, I found the bust darts to be pretty tough to work with. These are still way too long, but they eliminated the dreaded pointy bust, so I gave up. The boat neck is also pretty high for me, I know I could lower it, but I already have a similar bodice that fits from my New Years dress. Next time I could pop that bodice on to an A-line skirt and be happier in the end. I did end up french seaming as often as I could, and my zipper went in successfully on the first go-around. Overall I would call this dress a huge success and I look forward to wearing it in to Sewing Club tomorrow evening at Grey's Fabric!