When Projects Blossom

When you have camera related issues I suppose that sets you back a little with blog posting. That, and you know, life.

While I intended to post these on Valentine’s day, my camera’s SD card had other plans. Plans to stop working. I was afraid I was going to lose all these pictures of this jacket I’m calling my “cherry blossom” jacket. But, thankfully we were able to recover these, and many other photos. Phew. Crisis averted this time. “Cherry blossom” was a little bit of a process…but thanks to RIT dye, a trusty Vogue pattern, and a little bit of patience, it came together pretty well.

I used Vogue pattern #v9212. This is the third jacket I’ve completed from this pattern, so that should tell you what I think of it. ;) And actually, every one I’ve done I used some sort of dyeing technique. The first one I made, I used an ice-dyeing technique. For the second one, I made dye out of black walnut and used it for the back and sleeves. Those posts are here, and here.

So, I really wanted to find a cherry blossom print for this jacket. I searched and searched for fabric I liked and found one contender, but ultimately decided against it. That’s when the light bulb went off–I’ll make my own print!

I absolutely love dyeing and textiles, but I had never tried anything like this before. So, I knew I needed to come up with a plan if I wanted to execute the project effectively. First, I drew out a cherry blossom design on a sketchpad so I had an idea of scale and repeat.


Then, I cut out all my pieces, and laid them out and sketched my design with pencil on each pattern piece. For this version, I picked up some 100% white cotton twill, so the RIT dye I used would absorb nicely.

Then I mixed my dyes in bowls and used paint brushes to apply (check out my time lapse video on Insta). The red flowers didn’t turn out quite as red as I’d hoped, they actually look much more pink in the photos, too. But alas, the result was basically as I’d hoped.

What’s better than a bright pink lining, I mean really?

I used a lot of steam and definitely a press cloth while working on this. Since I painted on the design with brushes, some areas were a little more concentrated with dye and rubbed off. The press cloth protected the ironing board and iron, and the steam helped to set in the dye. I’m still not planning on throwing this one in the washing machine though, so I’ll likely opt for spot or dry cleaning.

Luckily, I had some extra red twill that I used for the facing–turns out it matched my dress pretty perfectly!

Overall, it definitely took quite a bit of time, but I had a lot of fun with this one. I can’t wait to wear “cherry blossom” through Spring. :)



Have you tried any new projects or techniques lately that turned out as you hoped?


Holiday Sparkle

Last year it seemed like the holiday season came and went and there wasn’t too much time to enjoy it ( I guess it often feels like that), but this year I made it a point to slow down a little and really enjoy the season. I’ve made several pieces (yay!) I’ve watched a bunch of Christmas movies and listened to lots of different holiday music. I’ve also already made quite a few batches of cookies. I. am. embracing it this year.

And since I don’t recall making anything fun and sparkly last Christmas, I thought I’d keep with the festive attitude and make something RED and sparkly, because how much more holiday can you get than that?!

What actually inspired me to make this dress was Grace Kelly’s character, Margo, from Dial M for Murder. As far as Hitchcock films go, Dial M is definitely up there for me. I absolutely love the gorgeous red dress that Margo wears in one of the first scenes.

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How can you not love this beautiful frock?! It makes my heart flutter with joy.

Here is my version, using Vogue pattern #v8280. What I really like about this pattern is how it looks like the sleeves are a separate bolero kind of piece, but it’s all attached.

So I made the sleeves and back with the sparkle red fabric from Joann fabrics. And the solid red is a peachskin fabric.

By some form of magic, I already had this red belt which literally matches perfectly to the red color of the dress.

Like with most projects, there are some tribulations along the way. And this one was with the zipper. I first put in an invisible zipper, and it just did not look right. ( I think mostly because I need to get an invisible zipper foot for my machine) So I ripped that one out and put in a normal zipper and it looked 100 times better.

Also for the back, I made an underlay for the sequin fabric with lining. It just made it a heck of a lot easier to work with by keeping it from shifting and getting sequins caught in the machine.

Kick pleats!

This fabulous coat is an Oscar de la Renta coat I got on MAJOR sale one year. I don’t remember how much it was exactly, but I do remember that it was an absolute steal and it would’ve been stupid not to buy it. I always wear it around the holidays because it is a heavier coat, but also partly because it has the vibrant and festive red lining…which just matches this dress wonderfully. ;)


Outfit details: Seamed nylons-Dillard’s; Coat-Oscar de la Renta; Clutch-Anthropologie, no longer available.


Watch out: More shiny things, coming your way! ;)

Dressing for the Summer

I’m sitting here writing on a verrry brisk August evening, and I’m trying to think of where the summer time went.

Oh yeah…I was sewing. I’ve sewn a LOT this summer, and honestly haven’t been able to keep up with posts the way I intended. Included in one of these summer sewing projects has been #v9253 as part of another McCall’s sewing contest. This was a pattern I had really wanted to try, so when they announced another contest, I was definitely up for it.


The pattern sort of reminded me of a Kimono robe, so I thought a floral print would be fitting. This fabric is from JoAnn’s and is a rayon Challis…which was lovely to work with and drapes very well for this particular pattern.

I love when a dress gives a great spin ;)

The pattern itself easy to work with and pretty quick, which is always appreciated in my book. ;)


Outfit details: Purse-Vintage from Etsy; Shoes-from a friend; Bangles-from various places.

Ice Cold Blue

I did it again. I made another ice-dyed coat. I had been dreaming up this one for quite some time, but only just executed the project. And like a lot of projects in life…it didn’t come out the way I thought it would. But, you know what they say: good things happen by accident.

For this go-around, I first made the coat out of Vogue Pattern #9212 (instead of the basic coat style of my initial sketch) with a white twill fabric and then used your tried and true Rit Dyes to do the ice dyeing.

My sketch here:


I had actually anticipated it including a lot more white–to look more like traditional Shibori with indigo dye (kind of like the stuff in this post from a while ago) But, I think I was a bit overzealous with the dye this time around, so it ended up totally covered with blue. And even though it didn’t turn out how I had hoped…it still ended up pretty awesome.

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I thought I would make the lining totally electric, since the coat shell turned out pretty dynamic.

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I don’t currently have this listed in my Etsy shop, but if there is any interest in a custom version, please send an email my way. ;)

Remaining Outfit details:

Denim-Gap; Belt-an old men’s belt; Booties-Lucky Brand

Blue Velvet with Tartan Plaid Frosting

I gotta say…I think I might have a subconscious agenda with myself about  using up all the fabric that’s been staring at me every day and wondering when they’ll finally get their cue. Every time I buy new fabric, I feel a tinge of guilt about the fabric I already have at home. But, that’s one of those things with us sewers…we have a bad habit of stockpiling fabric “just because”… because we know that the “right” project for said fabric will come along–maybe in a few days…or maybe in a few months/years. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I assure you, I finally stumbled upon the “right” project for this GORGEOUS blue velvet fabric.

And here’s how the story goes…

It’s been a long time coming for this cobalt blue velvet to get its turn. I knew I wanted to make something really stand-out with it, because it’s pretty stand-out fabric. I used a Vogue coat pattern (#8465) and decided to do a cool fabric contrast, partly because I didn’t have enough blue velvet to use for the sleeves and collar.

At first, I used re-purposed leather for the collar and sleeves, thinking the contrasting material would look really interesting. Well, it did…but something just wasn’t laying right. So…out came the seam ripper and on the coat went some leftover black twill from this jacket that I blogged about a few weeks ago.


The decision to use plaid taffeta for the collar lining happened sort of last minute. I needed something to use, and there was literally just enough left to use for the lining. Turned out to be the right decision, I think.

dsc_1009 dsc_1007 dsc_1003I suppose the moral of this story is…the “right” project will always come along. ;)

Outfit details:

Coat made by me; pants from H&M-similar here; Booties from DSW (no longer available).

Complete with Collar and Cuffs

There’s just something about French cuff sleeves that draw me in with star-gazed eyes. They just scream sophisticated when they are on a jacket.

In this post, I’ve made this 1950’s inspired jacket that is probably one of my favorites to date. Here’s its story:

I made the bodice from a Vogue pattern (#8355) but changed the sleeves so they were French cuffs. I gave it a first go-around probably more than 5 years ago now (!), and that first version did not turn out the best because I was not 100% into it. I stopped my process half-way through only to come back to it a few years later. That entire scenario, in my experience, is never a winner. And after all these years of sewing, making and creating, I believe I finally understand my own creative process…and a big part of it is that it does not serve me well to stop half-way through something I am doing. I absolutely need to see it through from start to finish. Who’s with me?

So, a few months ago I decided I’d give this jacket another go. And this time, I was going to start it and finish it completely within a reasonable time-frame. Well, that I did. Along the way, I had to alter the pattern a bit for size–because of course, this pattern is out of print–and in doing that I was terribly nervous that the result was going to be much too tiny for me. But let’s be real, we designers and sewers know that about 75% of sewing involves some kind of troubleshooting because rarely does anything actually turn out the way we imagine.

This jacket pattern called for buttons and buttonholes, which there was absolutely no way that would be happening for my round 2 jacket if I wanted to wear it the way it was intended. My fix was to use a number of hook and eye clasps, because that way I had just enough room for it to fit like a glove. After the clasps were on, the jacket still looked a little incomplete to me, so I took some leftover lining and made some covered buttons (decorative only) to bring it all together. Ultimately, I’m happy I stuck it through this time around because it was totally worth it.

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This jacket is available as custom-order only via Etsy. Varying colors available!

Outfit details:

Jacket, Etsy shop; Skirt from Asos, similar here; Clutch from Target clearance; Shoes from DSW, similar here