Tried and True Review: A Big Bag of the Blues - Part II

A Tried & True Review, where I look back at old project and discuss how it's held up since I made it, both successes and closet rejects, in an attempt to show how my projects have stood the test of time and/or to learn from the mistakes of my yesterdays.

 I recently took a big bag of clothes, mostly handmade items, to a local consignment store and I thought, true to the spirit of the Tried and True Review, I'd take some time to share with you why I was ready to let them go. Also, if you're in the Portland (ME) area and want to grab something sewn or knitted by me, now's your chance!

There's a lot of items there, so I'm going to break it into two parts. Here is  Part II (Part I here). 

Cookie Monster Cardigan

The Original: Cookie Monster Cardigan

Made/Age:  July 2012, 3 years old.

Update: Accepted for Consignment.

Fit:  It's just too big in the bust. I kept it around because I was pregnant at the time and though it would fit well later in the pregnancy, but it never did. Because it was that big. It looks okay in the photos, but I always felt like I was swimming in it. 

Style/Materials: Cookie Monster Blue Berrocco Vintage. Because it's a superwash wool/acrylic blend I couldn't even shrink it to fit. 

Construction: This sweater had it going wrong from the get go. I recalculated the yoke increases from the pattern, because as originally written it made the sleeve have weird "wings". It looked like a circular yoke construction, but all the increases were centered over the sleeves. I restarted the yoke again and finished the sweater, but I didn't have the heart to knit it again, when it was too big.

Final Verdict: When in doubt, rip it out. 

Vogue 8184 by Ms. Cleaver

The Original: 4th of July Dress

Made/Age:  July 2010, 5 years old.

Update: Rejected from Consignment.

Fit:  The fit is fine (I think), the truth is I just didn't wear it all that much. I have another rather similar blue sundress (that I got at the consignment store oddly enough), that I preferred to wear. I can't really pin down why, but this one just never seemed as flattering.  I didn't need two, so off this one went.

Style/Materials: Quilting cotton. 

Construction: I added horsehair braid to the hem which was fun, but maybe made it a bit too costumey?

Final Verdict: This is another go with your gut one. There's no reason not to like it , but because I don't, there's no reason to hang onto it either.

Burdastyle Alexis by Ms. Cleaver

The Original: Alexis Skirt

Made/Age:  December 2008, 7.5 years old.

Update: Accepted for Consignment

Fit:  This one always falls under my pencil skirt sewing deficiency. It sits too low on the waist to be flattering. 

Style/Materials: Some vintage brocade. Fabric was beautiful, but I find it harder to wear lighter colored items on bottom. Also it has a kangaroo pock on the  front, which makes it pooch out weirdly.

Construction: I seem to recall it being quite well made, but it was early in my sewing career, so it probably was less so. 

Final Verdict: I need to take a class on making a pencil skirt or something. it is my sewing waterloo. 

The Original Ms. Cleaver Photo from 2007!
The Walkway Dress

Bonus: The Walkaway Dress

Made: Sometime between 1998-2001

Update: Accepted for Consignment

Fit: To finish up, the bottom dress in that pile is actually one my mother made for me in high school. The photo on the left is from 2004 and may be one of the last times I wore it (for my original Ms. Cleaver portrait at that!) . The dress is actually pretty flattering on, but is generally impossible to wear due to the narrowness of the front skirt panel. One stiff breeze and you have an embarrassing situation on your hands. Also, the quilting cotton print made it look like it belonged on a preschool teacher. 

Final Verdict: If you can't wear something without fear of repeatedly exposing your underwear, you probably shouldn't wear it. 

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Tried and True Review: A Big Bag of the Blues - Part I

A Tried & True Review, where I look back at old project and discuss how it's held up since I made it, both successes and closet rejects, in an attempt to show how my projects have stood the test of time and/or to learn from the mistakes of my yesterdays.

 I recently took a big bag of clothes, mostly handmade items, to a local consignment store and I thought, true to the spirit of the Tried and True Review, I'd take some time to share with you why I was ready to let them go. Also, if you're in the Portland (ME) area and want to grab something sewn or knitted by me, now's your chance!

There's a lot of items there, so I'm going to break it into two parts. For now, let's take it from the top (of the pile)!

School House Tunic Dress by Ms. Cleaver

The Original: School House Tunic #3

Made/Age:  March 2012, 3 years old.

Update: Accepted for Consignment.

Fit: It's loose and tunic-y, which I think works better at a shirt length than a dress length for me. At least in this fabric, which was still a little stiff. 

Style/Materials: Beautiful chartreuse linen. I was short on fabric and cut the sleeves as long as I could, which ended being a weird length about 2 inches above my elbow. From pretty much the second wear, I planned on shortening the sleeves to a more flattering length, but I never did it and never did it and never did it. Don't get me wrong, I love my school house tunics (I have three more!), but between the sleeve length and a color that's not my best color, this one was always my least favorite. 

Construction: This is one of two School House Tunics to have pleats added and the only one without the addition of a front closure.

Final Verdict: If you don't fix something after several years of intending to, you probably don't like it that much.

Dr. Faye Lady Suit by Ms. Cleaver

The Original: Dr. Faye Lady Suit

Made/Age:  June 2012, 3 years old.

Update: Fabric salvaged from skirt. Jacket rejected from consignment and off to Goodwill. Those shoes are also at the consignment store.

Fit: The skirt was too big and ill-fitting from the get go. I've always had trouble getting "pencil skirts" to fit right. This was just a big square of terrible. The jacket fit better, but was still very boxy.

Style/Materials: Another beautiful linen. I love linen, but maybe I'm just not picking the right patterns for it. Separate or together, these pieces were just big, boxy and blah.  It's the boxy that did it in. If it was nicely tailored and fitted it would have worked, but probably not in linen. My lady suit dreams will have to wait. At least I loved the shirt pattern in the pattern envelope.

Construction: The jacket was fun to sew and I covered all the seams with bias tape. 

Final Verdict: Boxy just ain't my thang. Also, does anyone know of good patterns for linen?

Burdastyle Ute by Ms. Cleaver

The Original: Off to the Races

Made/Age:  June 2011, 4 years old. (Hey, I'm back to that hairstyle too!)

Update: Accepted for Consigment.

Fit:  It's my own fault, but I cut it with too little ease. I tried letting our the seams where I could, but it wasn't enough. It pulls terribly at the bust. 

Style/Materials: A fabulous checked stretch shirting material. A bow blouse. Fun buttons! It so perfect for me, except that it doesn't fit me. This is the one item that really broke my heart to give away, but it truly, honestly, just doesn't fit right.

Construction: Don't remember apart from the fact that I did the buttonholes horizontally, where I should have done them vertically along the button band.

Final Verdict: Button up items need bust ease! But I should remake this at some point.

That's it for this week. Next week I'll roundup the other 4 items.

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Minoru Jacket and Cargo Pocket Tutorial

Minoru Jacket
Minoru Sleeve Mod
Minoru Jacket
Minoru Cargo Pocket Mod
Minoru Jacket
Minoru Jacket

I finally made something for myself and it's a doozy! I loved the Minoru Jacket pattern from the moment it came out (back in late 2011), so much so that I bought the pattern, the fabric, the lining, and special ordered the zippers shortly after it came out.

Three years of sitting in my stash and five weekends of sewing later, I have a bright and beautiful new jacket that does some much-needed filling of a long-outstanding hole in my wardrobe. Of course I finished it just in time for summer, but being as I live in Maine with it's often cool nights and mornings, I'm sure it'll still get plenty of wear before getting a real workout in the Fall and Spring.

The jacket is a spring green twill of forgotten origins, lined with some silky polka dots purchased at JoAnn's, and riri metal zippers. I made the pattern in a straight size 14, which is a little bit roomy, but it means I can wear it over sweaters come Fall. It's comfy and the right amount of warm for the in-between seasons.  I found the instructions clear and concise (though missing a few metric to imperial measurement conversions in the text and there's something funky about the placket length/hem length). I pretty much made it exactly as described, with the exception of the following modifications:

  • Flat felled all the seams noted as top-stitched in the pattern - seam finishing and top-stitching in one!
  • Lined the hood
  • Moved the waist elastic up 1"/2.5 cm from pattern marking
  • Removed the cuffs
  • Made the hood zipper opening shorter
  • Added cargo pockets
  • Accidentally placed the interior pockets about 5/8 inch too low

One of the great things about sewing a pattern three years after it came out is that by then, a ton of other people have made it and you can steal their ideas and learn from their problems. About half these mods were inspired by other blogger. Case in point, I can no longer remember the blogger who mentioned it, but the hood zipper opening was indeed too long for my zipper, which I was able to check, before cutting it out. I do wish  I had headed the warnings to reduce the hood, as it is overly large. Some more direct copy-cats include borrowing Lladybird's idea to lose the cuffs (which were way long, even on me) and after I flat-felled my side seams before I inserted the side seam pockets I had planned on, I stole cutcutsew's cargo pockets idea.

The cargo pockets were a happy accident, as I love the way they turned out and they really make the jacket. I constructed my pockets largely based on this tutorial by 21 Wale. Should anyone want to copy me in my copy-catting, I've made up a PDF Cargo Pocket Pattern and Instruction Sheet  (tiled for US Letter-sized printing).

As with any coat/jacket, this was a time-consuming project. All said, it probably took me somewhere in the realm of 16 or so  hours to complete, but I love the outcome and consider it time well-spent as I can see myself wearing this coat all the time.

Speaking of wearing me-made things, I've completely missed Me-Made May, but I realized after I took the photos that everything in my outfit in these shots (not including underthings) was handmade either by me (cardigan, skirt, tank) or someone else (necklace, shoes). The fact that I didn't realize it until I took the photos is a nice nod to how the right handmade items can really become an intrinsic part of our wardrobes.

Continuing on the theme of handmade wardrobes, there's a neat little story behind the striped sweater LMC's wearing. When we first moved back to Maine, my mother-in-law gave me a bag with some random knitting stuff in it: a few sets of straight needles, some old yarn, and all the pieces to a blue and white striped baby sweater.  When I was pregnant, one of the first things I did was seam the otherwise complete sweater together, so now LMC has a Memere-made sweater, even though her Memere hasn't knit in years. The original yarn and ball bands (Reynolds Giselle) came with the sweater, but I've been unable to definitively date them and my MIL has no recollection of making the thing, so my best guess is that it was originally made for either one of her three sons, or my nephew - meaning it could be anywhere from 20 to 50 years old (quite the range, I know).  The best my google-fu can find is that the yarn was at a minimum available from 1981-1984. Doesn't look too shabby for some never-worn 30 year old yarn, does it?

Sorbetto and Soft Serve

Mags and I got together for some sewing fun on Saturday and had a surprising role-reversal, in which she worked on a detailed wrap-dress and I whipped out two shirts (and a muslin for some pants, which need a lot of work), one of which ended up as a pajama top because the fabric was crummy, and then there's this one: Sorbetto

The Little Folks voile was the perfect weight and drape for this top. The pattern is the Colette patterns freebie, Sorbetto, which has been making the sewing blog rounds for good reason, as it's quick, easy, and flattering.

SorbettoA few pattern notes:

  • With some careful cutting, I got this out of less than a yard of 54" fabric near the top end of the size range.
  • I added about 2 inches to the hem when I cut it out
  • Like others have mentioned, the bust dart could probably be 1/2 inch lower.

I think this pattern would look great in a silky solid too. Pretty much anything drapey will work well.

In other ice-cream related news that I'm mostly posting about for my brother, at Maggie's instistance I grabbed a Blizzard at the local Dairy Queen (DQ) this weekend (and supported a local dog rescue).

For the first time in 15 years.

The Return to DQ

I've avoided DQ's for the the past decade and half due to a overload on an extended roadtrip through the heartlands with my Grandparents at age 12.

So how was the break fast Blizzard? Not bad.  Not great. But not bad.

Just don't make me get the "Hot Eats" ;)

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Off to the Races

I've been reading the Sew Weekly for a few months now (even won a pincushion!), but as we know, I am far from the fastest sewer ever, so I've yet to participate in one of the challenges, until today. Ascot Blouse

This week's theme was "At the Races" and was to be a garment inspired by the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady.


Ascot Blouse

I had already planned on making this tie-neck blouse, but I made one small change to fit the challenge. When I think of the Ascot Scene, I think of how Eliza looks all lady-like and demure, before busting out "C'mon Dover, move your bloomin' arse!" So I took this demure blouse and added a little secret.

Pink Buttons!

Very bright pink buttons that you only catch glimpse of beneath the tie. Buttons, that depending on the light, look either magenta or the hottest of hot pinks.

Off to the Races

Oh and we're supposed to wear a hat, so here's the cloche again.

The Facts

Fabric: About $3-4 worth from Denver Fabrics Pattern: Burdastyle Ute - Variation B Year: modern Notions: 5 pink buttons Time to complete: two days First worn: June 2011 Wear again: Yes!

Total Cost: $8-10

I like this pattern a lot, but if you're not familiar with shirt construction, the directions are a bit vague, particularly when it comes to attaching the tie collar (the best part). I'd also recommend using more smaller buttons, than the fie large ones the pattern recommends.  There appears to be some pulling at the buttons in the photos, which would largely go away if there were less space between the buttons (though I'd probably sew this with a tad more ease a second time around too).

I like that this shirt is both dressy and cool, and I'm going to get a lot of wear with it this summer.

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Sneak Peaks

It was cold and rainy all weekend, which meant I didn't get to go hiking like I wanted to, but it did mean I got a lot of indoor crafting done. I'm soooooo close to finishing up two projects (including my first sew weekly challenge!) and hopefully I'll tie up the loose ends and get them both posted this week. In the meantime, here's some sneak peaks!



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A Simple Neutral Skirt

Grey Twill Skirt

So it's a few days late for Lent, but I finally have that simple neutral skirt I needed for my wardrobe and it only took two days start to finish. So maybe I'm not the slowest seamstress ever.

Sewing with Friends

Of course it helps when you have company for one of those days (though a second ironing board would have been helpful).

Next Up!

The pattern is Burda(style?) 7437 view B, which was the only pattern I could find that had the styling I wanted - specifically having the fly closure. The fly was a first for me - my tip: baste the zipper first - it took a couple of tries to get everything lined up, but was otherwise simpler than I thought it'd be.

Grey Twill Skirt

I made a few minor mods - namely skipping the pleat in the back and taking in the back waist band/center seam. It wasn't clear if the skirt was designed to sit at the waist or not, but mine does, which may be why the skirt ended up a teeny-tiny bit shorter than I expected (which I honestly didn't notice until I looked at these photos). If I sewed it again, I'd probably add an inch to the hem (and not over-trim the button underlap), but overall I'm very happy with the way this one turned out.

Grey Twill Skirt

I did flat-felled seams on all the piece to piece joins and top-stitching on the pockets and waistband. I hammered in a jean button for the closure.  All told - I think it turned out very professional-looking, like if I didn't tell you, you wouldn't know I made it.

Grey Twill Skirt

My next sewing project will be a Sunni-inspired sleeveless bow blouse. I feel like I'm on a sewing roll right now, so I'd love to keep the good mojo going!

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Lent 2011 - Day 33

Lent 2011 - Day 33 This weekend was the first true spring weekend we've had so far. It was beautiful and sunny and everyone in our neighborhood was out working in their yards. Mr. Cleaver and I were no exception (we don't want our new neighbors thinking we're slackers!). Of course I'm sure the neighbors though I was cutting quite the ZsaZsa Gabor in Green Acres figure, sweeping and raking in a skirt and boots.

My favorite was meeting the little girl across the street, who greeted me with: "Hi! We don't have to wear coats!"

In addition to yard care, I got in some sewing on my Beignet Skirt (shell is finished) and went to the Great Maine Bike Swap and picked up a vintage Sears 3-speed, which I'll share some photos of later this week  - it's very me.

Shell Seam Finishing

In the evenings, Mr. Cleaver and I have been re-watching Season 3 of Mad Men, which inspired today's outfit a bit. I love all the scarves the women wear and while I have a decently-sized scarf collection, it makes me want more!

Lent 2011 - Day 33

Scarf: Mervyn's (back when it existed)

Long-sleeved tee: gift, from Kohl's I think

Brocade Pencil Skirt: Burdastyle Alexis, made by me.

Shoes: Bass Outlet

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When I'm In My Late 20s I Shall Wear Purple

Lent Day 26As I typed in the days for these photos on my compy, I realized that I've passed the halfway mark for Lent - only 20 days left to go!! (Lent - why are you so long?) Lent Day 26

Headband: ribbon

Necklace: Cloud Necklace by Kriya

Tee: Target

Skirt: Valentine's Day Skirt, made by me.

Shoes: Clark's Outlet

Lent Day 27

Lent Day 27

Necklace: Sears

Cardigan: Joy by Kim Hargreaves, made by me

Dress: Burdastyle Zoe, made by me

Tights: Target

Shoes: Bass Outlet

I have mixed feelings about this dress. I love the color and fabric, but it's shorter than I'd like (especially in the back- despite lengthening the pattern by several inches) and the neckline and sleevelessness aren't flattering on me without a cardigan.

What do you do with sewing projects you're no longer happy with or don't fit, etc.?

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Red Bird, Blue Bird (Lent Day #13)

My First Robin of Spring One of my favorite things about the new house is the absurdly large number of birds that live in the trees in our yard. I've spotted chickadees, tufted titmice, blue jays, cardinals, hawks, grackles (I think), woodpeckers and more. This morning I spotted my first robin. Quite fitting for the first day of spring (and more fitting than the current snowfall).

Lent 2011 Day #13

For today's outfit I pulled out an old sewing project. I had this skirt in the "to mend" pile, but don't remember what needed mending. It might have been that I wanted to hem it differently. I was pleased to discover I had done a really good job lining and finishing this skirt - despite having made it a long time ago (over 2 years!!), before I had started focusing on finishing.

Lent 2011 Day #13

Blue Blazer: LL Bean Outlet

White Tee: Target

Butterfly Wing Necklace:  D. Cole Jewelers, gift from Mr. Cleaver

Brocade Pencil Skirt: Burdastyle Alexis, made by me.

Shoes: Bass Outlet

In other news, my Krona knitting patterns were featured today on the Quince & Co. Website. Much thanks to Pam for including me!!

It feels like forever since I've put out a pattern, but I've got something very springy currently in testing and it should be out by April 1st. For at least one reader of this blog it will look very familiar...

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