Tried and True Review: Flowers and Lace Skirt

Granny Skirt 2011 made by Ms. Cleaver
Granny Skirt 2011 made by Ms. Cleaver
Granny Skirt 2010 made by Ms. Cleaver
Granny Skirt 2015 made by Ms. Cleaver

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.

The Original: Floral and Lace Skirt

Made: March 2010, 5 years old

Update: This is my go-to skirt when I want to look ladylike, but be comfy. (see also: "No Pants" Lent 2011)

Fit: It was self-drafted, with a pretty forgiving fit. That said I did (upon originally making it) do an adjustment to the waistband. The waist line has moved up and down as my weight fluctuated over the years, but it's managed to hang in there.

Style/Materials: A super basic a-line skirt, in a  floral fabric and lace. This was a free piece of  quilting cotton given to me by my mother-in-law, along with some cotton lace trim from my stash. It was pink and had tiny flowers all over it, which is not very me. Nothing about it should work, but it just does. 

Construction: The waistband fix was some darts I put into the finished waistband, so a little wonky there. Also, since it was meant to be a muslin, I didn't interface the waistband, which means its always crinkly, but probably contributes to the comfy factor of this skirt.

Lesson(s) Learned: .Really small prints are quite versatile and never underestimate the power of simple and comfy!

Final Verdict: I never would have imagined that I would still be wearing this skirt five years after I first sewed it up. It was meant to be a wearable muslin for goodness sake! I still have the draft pieces somewhere, so I should make another version, no?

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Pink, Prosciutto, and Peas (Lent Day #15)

Back to work today in something a bit more subtle pink than yesterday's outfit. Lent Day #15

Lent Day #15 Detail

Necklace: Cameo locket, gift

Tank: Express, gift

Cardigan: Express Outlet, purchased a bazillion years ago.

Skirt: Granny skirt, drafted and made by me.

Wool Tights:

Red Shoes: Clarks

Lent Day #15

I'd also like to give shout-out to Mr. Cleaver for being super helpful in this Lent challenge, from taking photos minutes before work, to giving second opinions on shoe choices. (You're right, the red is better here).

Risotto with Prosciutto and Peas

In other pink-related activities, inspired by a how-to article in the April 2011 issue of Everyday Food, I cooked my first risotto tonight. I added about two slices of shredded prosciutto and about a cup to 2 cups of frozen peas to their basic recipe. It was delicious, if a tad salty (when Martha says low-sodium chicken broth, Martha means it!)

Risotto with Prosciutto and Peas

Both Mr. Cleaver and I really enjoyed this dish and are thinking of countless other ways to enjoy it (shrimp and asparagus anyone?)

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Completion, Progress, and Learning


Granny Skirt

As promised about a week ago - here's my finished a-line skirt. I had to do some adjusting to the waistband (because my waist is not rectanglular), but I love the finished product. It isn't a fabric I would normally pick out or wear, but somehow, here it works.


Vivian Saddles

Whenever I'm knitting a sweater, I'll periodically ask Mr. Cleaver "Does it looks like a sweater yet?" Answer right now? : Yes!


Fitting reqs.

I mentioned last week I was drafting a tee and trying my first knit-sewing experience. The sewing part was okay, but the tee fit terribly. It was about 2 inches too short (not even counting hemming), the neckline was off, and it was bunching at the arms in an altogether unattractive way.

Makes mistakes feel better

Mistakes seem less daunting when you have Cadbury creme eggs.

I wandered around the house in a shirt full of pins for about a half an hour trying to figure out where I went wrong.  I'll admit that the instructions for this one aren't terribly detailed - I'd suggest measuring a lot of your store-bought shirts first for things like length - and I was dissapointed that there were no alteration suggestions in the book, then I realized what I needed - the full bust adjustment.  So I've totally redrafted the top for version 2.0 and purchased some more (probably inappropriately thick interlock) jersey and will hopefully cut it out later this week.

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Meet Hildy or Pre-Lent Productivity

Last SaturdayI took the plunge and bought a new sewing machine:

Two Machines at Once!

That's her on the right. She's a Pfaff Select 3.0 and her name is Hildy (like Brunhilda, because of the German engineering). The day after the purchase I went over to my friend Maggie's house for a sewing party. I helped her work through her first commercial pattern and I worked together a wearable muslin of the a-line skirt I drafted at the beginning of the month.

To get the full effect, I need to get an outfit shot, so for now here's a sneak peak:

Granny Skirt

With the purchase of my machine (from the highly recommended Sew Portland) I also get a 2 hour intro to the machine class, which I haven't scheduled yet as well as a monthly "new owner" project class for one year.

My first new owner class was the Monday after I bought Hildy and I made this cute little Origami bag.

Origami Bag Exterior

The sewing was pretty straightforward, but the construction is clever (hint: it involves two squares sewn together). And i'm now using it to hold my knitting notions.

Origami Bag Interior

Origami Bag Inside Out

I'm currently in the process of drafting my second piece from Cal Patch's book, the basic tee - which will require me to try sewing knit for the first time - gulp!! But I'm sure with Hildy at my side I can handle it :)

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Adventures in Pattern Making: Take 1

Zig Zag Skirt

A little over a month ago now, I took that pattern-making class at the local art college and in the weeks leading up to our Philly trip I tried my hand at my first pattern-drafting project.  As one might expect for a first go, this one had its ups and downs and a number of changes along the way.

Big change #1 - this started out as a dress. I'd carefully drafted and sewed together a bodice and had started doing some draping with a skirt when I realized that this pattern was waaaaayyy to busy for a head to toe garment, at least for me.  As

just a top I wasn't digging it, so I turned my focus to skirt portion. (As I side note, I wouldn't recommend using a heavily patterned/directional fabric like this for your first drafting project, but then again I never did anything the easy way).

Skirt on Hanger

Over all it's a pretty basic high-waisted a-line skirt, but it's rather fitted. The most major design feature in it's construction is the inverse pleats at the waist.

Big Change #2 - the pleats were originally mirrored on the reverse side for shaping, but that made the posterior region look terrrrrible.  So again, we adapt. I ended up moving the shaping into the zipper seam and let me say that it's an interesting experience trying to put tailoring/pins marks on the backside of something that you are wearing and then trying to take it off. That said, it only took three round of basing stitches to get a well fitting seam that didn't make me look like I was wearing a bustle.


After that it was just finishing, which was easy. In honor of clean lines and hand-sewing month at Sew Mam Sew! I handstitched both the waist band and hem, which looks really sleek.

Hand-Stitched Hem

Overall, I'm really happy with the way it turned out. It fits really well, though  in hindsight, I think I would have added an additional inch of ease in the hips (is that a pun?). But not too bad for a first try. I'm looking forward to doing more of this in the future!

Zig Zag Skirt

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We had a whole weekend of sun which meant I finally got to wear a new summer top I made on Saturday.

Tie Top Top

It's loosely based on Maryy's Hot Hot Heat top tutorial, and was made before a) Burdastyle made an actual pattern of it and b) I took the pattern-making class, so it was a lot of trial and error to get something that looks right. There was a time in the middle when I thought it was hopeless, but I think it turned out pretty well in the end. The fabric came from a bag of stuff from a friend of m mother-in-law's, so it was nice to have some free fabric to experiment with.

Tie Top Top

But really this post is about Sunday, which involved soft-serve with sprinkles and several hours at Fort Williams Park taking it all in.


Summer is finally here! Hooray!

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The Learning Continues

I finished weaving my scarf this past week, which means my weaving class is sadly over, but it doesn't mean I'm done learning.

The first thing I did after Lent when I had use of my credit card again, was to register for a pattern-making class at the Maine College of Art (MECA). Since then I've been eagerly awaiting this weekend for the two-day intensive workshop.


It was well-worth the wait. Over the 12 course hours, my 12 classmates and I learned how to make a fitted sloper, how to adapt commercial patterns to fit better, how to recreate existing clothing and a teensy bit of draping.


Obviously we couldn't cover everything in such a short amount of time, but I felt I was solidly introduced to each of the methods and am hungry to do some research and practice and learn some more on my own.

Draping Detail

I'm eagerly waiting for college to publish the fall continuing studies catalogue to I can pick up some more art/design skills. But hopefully we may be seeing some Ms. Cleaver original designs gracing these pages soon!

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Busy Bee!

Busy Bee Apron

A few weeks ago somebody asked me if I really liked yellow. 

At the time I was a little confused, "Why do you ask?" I said.

"Every time I see you you're wearing yellow," she said.

At the time I passed it off as a good combo for the green I often consciously wear, but as I though about itI saw she was right  - yellow is creeping more and more into my wardrobe. Nor is it the first time. The first pair of shoes I ever really got excited about was a pair of bright yellow Adidas with blue stripes I had in high school  (the school colors at that!). 

Another case in point this apron:

Busy Bee Closeup

This apron's life started shortly after Christmas when a co-working, hearing I had made an apron for a Christmas gift, asked me to make her one before the summer was out. Being as this co-worker is the #1 best thing about my current job and I was given a long lead time, I happily agreed. Fast-forward several months later and I'm in my favorite fabric store where I discover this fabulous section I'd never looked in before: Ribbon. Spools upon spools of fantastic ribbon!

First, I spotted some lovely cherry ribbon, which I snagged a few yards of, then I saw this bee ribbon and it was all over for me. I practically had to run out of the store to prevent coming home with a car load of ribbon, it was all so wonderful. Of course I knew bees and cherries would make perfect adornments for that apron I had agreed to make and so I picked out the blue and yellow gingham you see above to complete the project. 

I will admit that when I started making this apron I fully intended to give it away, but being as this was my first designed-from-scratch piece, I made allotments for the seams, but not the hemming/edging, so my apron ended up being a little smaller than planned, so this one works as a lesson learned (and a little something pretty for my apron collection.)


Glamour Bee

The good news is that this apron only took me a weekend to complete (including finishing every seam so there are no raw edges - as inspired by Bitter Betty), so I should be able to make a new one fairly soon, though it'll likely be a variation on this one, just to keep things interesting. :)

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