Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My First Kalle Dress

Hiya! I'm calling this post "My First Kalle Dress" because I'm already planning to make a couple more. There are a few variations included in the pattern, so it will be easy to make multiple Kalles without feeling like you are boring.

I made version 3, the shirt dress with high-low hem and button placket. I used off-white linen and vintage mother of pearl buttons. 

It's plenty long enough in the back, but a bit too short for me on the sides. I don't think I'd be comfortable wearing it out and about without leggings or something underneath. I actually think it would look better over skinny jeans than these black leggings, and I'll probably wear them next time. I may just think of this one as a tunic. 

I'm 5'10", so I should have known enough to lengthen it by a few inches, but when I held up the pattern pieces, it seemed like it would be fine as-is. It's probably not too short for most people as-is, but pay attention to the length on the sides!

I think it is super cute, and I already have two pieces of chambray waiting to be made into more Kalles. I think both of those will be opaque enough to be worn without a slip, which is my dream for summertime! It seems so hard to find lightweight dresses and tops that breathe and that aren't see-through. I don't want to wear two shirts or two dresses when it's hot out! 

I love the high-low hem and the loose fit. 

I was tired by the time I got to the sleeve cuffs, and I couldn't make sense of the instructions. I'm not sure I sewed them on according to the pattern. I think they're supposed to turn up, and mine don't. I like how mine turned out, even if they're an unintended modification. I'll try to follow the pattern instructions next time and I wouldn't be surprised if they are clear when I'm not super tired. 

My other problem with this dress was my choice of marking tools. I used a pink Clover chalk marker, and the pink chalk was really difficult to wash out of this fabric! I also used a mechanical pencil to mark my button holes, and I'm not sure those lines will ever be gone. 

I found some tips on a couple of quilting websites, so I washed the dress with a lot of white vinegar, which lightened the marks a bit. Then I applied vinegar and baking soda and gently scrubbed with a laundry brush (I was trying to clean right around the button holes and I didn't want to make them fray). Then I washed it again with extra vinegar and decided it was good enough.

Now the marks are much lighter. I don't think anyone will notice, unless they are inspecting my button holes. So, just my fellow sewists or maybe button hole weirdos (who I just made up, but about whom I'm now imagining a whole novel).

Next time I will use blue chambray that I think will be opaque, add on-seam pockets, lengthen the pattern, and test my fabric marker before drawing all over my fabric. I'm also planning a tunic version in red chambray and for that, I'll probably try the popover version. I think all three Kalles should get a lot of wear this summer.

P.S. my lipstick is a dupe of the color worn by the actress who plays Queen Elizabeth in the Netflix show The Crown. Did you watch it? I had to suffer through the first episode, feeling quite bored and mistrustful of all the people who had recommended it, but then it got really good and I binge watched the rest of the season. Even my husband was watching with me by the end, and he has no interest in royals or period dramas. (And when the heck did I start loving all these shows about queens?? Victoria sucked me in because it stars Clara (Jenna Coleman) from Doctor Who, but I stayed because it was excellent and had such beautiful sets and costumes. Now I love The White Princess, starring the kidnapped girl from Thirteen, Jodie Comer.)

Back to my original ramble, Claire Foy as Elizabeth is always wearing a certain shade of lipstick, and if you watch the whole season quickly, you may find yourself needing to wear the same color. Mine is pretty close, and it's e.l.f. Ravishing Rose. It's very affordable and widely available, so check it out if you want to feel like the Queen of England.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hemlock Shirt, Me Made May + Stuff

Hey guys! How's it going?

So, I first used this Robert Kaufman speckle jersey knit fabric to make a Toaster Sweater.

I love it and was super happy that I had enough left over to make a Hemlock tee.

The Hemlock is a free pattern from Grainline Studio. It doesn't take up much fabric and is super wearable. And it sews up really quickly, so you can wear it pretty soon after you start think of making it. 

How is your May going? I'm loving Me Made May and seeing everyone's outfits! Though I'm having trouble getting my kids to take good photos of me. They are always dying to take photos, except when I really want them to. I may have to use the tripod more often. 

1. Scout tee and Driftless cardigan, both from Grainline Studio

2. Scout tee and Oceanside pants (Blank Slate Patterns)

3. Linden sweatshirt, lengthened (Grainline Studio)

5. Toaster sweater (Sew House Seven)

5 again, after the day warmed up: Scout tee (Grainline Studio)

6. Reeta midi shirtdress from Named Patterns

7. Addison tank with no collar, from Seamwork Magazine

8. Another Scout tee (yes, there are still more to come)

On Saturday my friend and neighbor was the victim of a surprise birthday party. We brought chips and salsa and the best green chile dip, and Lemonade Sangria. It was so pretty! I bookmarked a few different recipes and combined bits and pieces to make this refreshing, yummy drink:

Sangria Lemonade
1 bottle of Chardonnay
1/2 gallon of Lemonade
2/3 cup of Bacardi Limon
1 green apple, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup of strawberries, sliced

Combine above ingredients and refrigerate for at least one hour. 

Add 1 cup of seltzer water and serve. 

FIY, the kids I know always want to drink sangria. If you're feeling generous, make some lemonade with fruit floating in it for the kids.

See you soon!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Me Made May 2017

Hi guys! Tomorrow is May 1st and that means Me Made May begins. Are you taking part in it this year? 

Do you know what I'm talking about? It's a challenge to people who make their own clothes: wear what you made every day for a month. Or wear your handmade clothes a few days a week. You get to decide what your personal challenge will be. The point is mainly to encourage us to actually wear the things we've made.

Zoe of the blog So, Zo ... What Do You Know? created the challenge eight years ago. Click the link above to read what it is and how it works in her own expert words. :)  

I am pledging to wear something handmade every day this month. I might have sewn and knitted enough clothes to wear something different each day. That will depend on the weather -- if there are some cold days, I have sweaters and sweatshirts to wear. If it's hot, I have tank tops, shorts and skirts. And for any weather, I have short sleeved shirts. If I need to repeat some clothes, that's okay with me. 

I'll post photos of my outfits on instagram at made_by_tonya. Search for other makers using the hashtag #MMMay17. It's really fun to see what everybody is wearing and to find new friends around the world. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Toaster Sweaters

One of my Make Nine goals was to make some Toaster sweaters, and I did it! The patterns are from Sew House Seven and there are two versions available. Sweater #1 has a short turtleneck, raglan sleeves with long, banded cuffs, and a wide band around the hem. Sweater #2 has a short funnel neck, set-in sleeves, and is looser, with side slits at the hi-low hem. If you buy them both, you can mix and match the different features, like I did with my third sweater. 

This is my Sweater #1, in a striped ponte knit. Sorry if you are getting dizzy from looking at the small stripes. They always photograph so trippily. In person, this top does not look wild at all. 

It's a cozy top. Too bad I may not wear it again until fall! Warm weather arrived early in Colorado this year, so I'm thinking about summer sewing now, but I loved wearing this during the winter.

Here is my Sweater #2, made in a speckled french terry. The funnel neck is just folded down and then stitched at the side seams. My fabric tends to roll up underneath, so it's not my favorite method of finishing a neckline. But, I think it looks cute from the outside! I suppose I could hand sew the whole neckline down, but I probably won't. It's good enough and once a project is "done" I usually don't feel that motivated to go back and do more work on it!

This version looks really clean and simple.

The neckline and the hem both add some nice details to a simple look. The hem is split and it's longer in the back, which looks pretty cool.

And for my third Toaster, I used the turtleneck and raglan sleeves from Sweater #1 and the hemline from Sweater #2. I made shorter cuffs for the sleeves (actually they should have been an inch longer, but I'll still wear this). This is a lightweight french terry, so it's drapier and not as warm. I'll be able to wear this top this spring without overheating, at least during the chilly mornings and evenings. 

It would be easy to use a band to make a crewneck shirt, too. I'm imagining a version made of cotton jersey to wear all spring. Maybe even something like a baseball ringer tee with elbow-length sleeves. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Frida Sorbetto

Hey-o! Did you see that Colette Patterns revamped their free Sorbetto pattern? Now it includes pattern pieces and instructions to make a tank top, a sleeveless tunic, or a t-shirt. I had planned on making the original tank for a while, but I never got around to it. The release of the new version gave me the encouragement I needed to try it out. 

I decided to make the tunic version. I lengthened the pattern by 1.5 inches, but I could have added a couple more inches to make it fit like it does on the pattern model. I'm 5'10" so I usually lengthen shirts and dresses. 

The back covers my butt, but it could be a bit longer. It's also kind of snug there, so if I made another one, I might grade the hips out to the next size. I've also started working out regularly after a year of hit-or-miss workouts, so maybe that will take care of the snugness. 

This top has a center front box pleat, which isn't too obvious with this busy fabric. It would show up much better on a solid fabric. The instructions also tell you how to omit the pleat if you just want a flat front. This pattern is pretty versatile!

I used some Frida Kahlo fabric that I've had in my stash for a long time. It's a thicker quilting cotton, which feels really soft and nice for a top. A fabric with more flow and drape would be nice to try next time; it would really change the look and feel of the shirt. 

I think it's pretty cute! I love that there are so many options included, and that you could make two totally different tops by choosing different types of fabrics. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Bunch of Scout Tees

The Scout Tee from Grainline Studio is one of my tried and true patterns. It's a simple woven t-shirt with short sleeves and a loose fit. I love that it looks nicer than a plain old t-shirt, but is just as easy to wear. I also love that it works well with many different types of fabric.

Last month, I whipped up five more Scouts over the course of a weekend, assembly line-style. I used two rayon fabrics, a chambray, a quilting cotton, and a double gauze. The rayons are the drapiest fabric I used and the quilting cotton is the stiffest. They all hang a little bit differently so it's easy to wear them every day without them feeling boring or repetitive. Not that I wear them every day, but some weeks it's pretty close.  

These were on my Make Nine list, so I can check off another pattern. I actually chose ten items, since I'm a rebel and I'm not afraid of  a challenge. So far, I've made a Lottie dress, a Driftless cardigan, Toaster sweaters, and a Talvikki sweater as well. So five out of ten are completed! My Coco and Marianne dresses are both almost done, leaving just an easy Astoria sweatshirt, a more challenging button-up shirt, and the quite intimidating J-E-A-N-S. Good thing there is plenty of time left in the year to complete this list. 

Now let's look at all these new Scouts!

This first one is made of Cotton + Steel and Rifle Paper Co. Les Fleurs Birch Floral Navy rayon challis fabric. Could the name of that fabric be longer? It's good stuff, and so pretty. It's excellent quality and makes great-looking clothing.  

This second shirt is made of chambray: Kaufman Union Small Herringbone in Indigo. It's soft and has a nice drape. Up close, the fabric has a nice pattern. 

The third one is made from a rayon challis black and white gingham, which is no longer available. I love making shirts from rayon challis. It's easy to work with (not too slippery) and it feels and looks so nice when it's done! 

Now comes the stiffest fabric, a quilting cotton. This ikat medallion fabric is no longer available. I love it and kept it in my stash for a few years before finally deciding what to make with it. I think the Scout is a good choice, since it's something I'll wear a lot. I really like the print, and this way I'll get to enjoy it often. 

Quilting cotton is probably the easiest fabric to sew, since it doesn't slide around or stretch out. It also comes in a million cute designs! It does tend to get wrinkled easily, and it doesn't drape well enough for most types of clothes, but it's fun to use when it suits the pattern.

This last one's made of Michael Miller Sommer Double Gauze Mini Painted Gingham in Navy. I love the way double gauze falls, and how it feels. It's so lightweight and breezy, it keeps you cool in the summer, yet it's nearly opaque and it isn't wimpy. It's a little annoying to sew with, since it can get stretched out really easily. Stay-stitching is a great idea, and just being patient and careful while cutting and sewing will help it stay on-grain.

With this pattern, you need bias binding to finish the neckline. I just cut strips from the fabric I'm using for the shirt itself and sew them together. I don't fold and crease it ahead of time, but just sew the flat strip onto the front of the neckline first. Then I press the seam up, fold the bias binding over twice, press and then stitch it down. That method works well for me and seems easier than pre-folding it.

Have you tried the Scout pattern? What are your tried and true patterns? Do you use pre-made bias binding, or make your own?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Reeta Dress

Hi guys, the past couple months have been pretty awful, so I didn't feel like blogging. A few of the bad events were the anniversary of my dad's death, which filled me with dread for about six weeks as it approached; my poor mom needing a fifth hip replacement surgery after her implant snapped in half; and the removal of two of my wisdom teeth, after which my jaw and skull were in unbearable pain for over a month. 

*The good news is that the anniversary came and went, and I felt a huge relief. It felt like my year of intense mourning was completed, and it was okay for me to be happy again, without feeling guilty. 

*My mom is recovering nicely from her surgery. She feels very weak, but she is the strongest lady I know, and she will recover yet again. 

*My wisdom teeth holes finally closed up and my skull stopped feeling like it was being hit with a hammer all the time. I'm so excited to feel like I'm out in the light again, after such a tough year and especially the last couple months!

After my head quit hurting and I could stand the noise of my sewing machine, I was excited to sew this Reeta dress. It's a new casual shirt dress pattern from Named Patterns. It has buttons up the front, a drawstring waist, and side slits. It feels like something my grandma would have sewn and worn, which I really like.  

The collar was the hardest part for me, but that's not Named's fault. I think it's only the second one I've attached and I could use more practice. I will seek out some tutorials and demonstrations before my next collared dress or shirt. I bet there are tricks and techniques that would make it easier.


For this dress I used a cotton lawn and silver buttons. I made the drawstring out of the same fabric.

I've already bought some cotton ikat to make a second Reeta. I think that fabric will look more casual, justifying having two Reeta dresses! Between the two, I should be covered for any kind of outing this spring and summer. I'm also definitely going to add on-seam pockets to the next dress. I can't wait to wear them both a ton.


Making things is so comforting during tough emotional times! Letting my brain focus on what my hands are doing is a moving meditation, allowing my mind to relax and stop dwelling on bad thoughts. Being productive is so gratifying! Creating things feels good any time, but it is a real mood lifter on a bad day. This Reeta dress kept me busy for a few days, challenged me just the right amount, and turned out so well! I'm so glad I have a bunch of creative hobbies to keep me sane.