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Frocktails and Patsy

When I heard Frocktails was coming to Atlanta, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to meet some local sewing people! Bought my ticket, gave a little thought to what I had in my closet that would be cute. Just let that sit in the back of my mind and start to get excited. Then, I got an update email from them that there would be a straight up red carpet and professional photographers. What?! This obviously means I need a sparkly dress. I don’t know why, but that’s what my brain tells me.

Now I’m on the lookout for a fancy dress that isn’t too fancy, so I can wear it again if I want. Something that won’t take too long to make, but is not something I already have in my closet. I polled a few friends and got suggestions on styles they’d put me in and ended up in a style I’ve worn on a few locations. Definitely didn’t step outside my comfort zone here, as suggested, but I am just a sucker for classic, vintage vibes!!

Off to Fine Fabrics to find something inexpensive but fabulous! A few more annoying texts sent to friends to help me decide. Turns out they have so many pretty, sparkly fabrics to choose from!! And I rarely explore the fancy fabrics aisles. (That’s the official name.)

Home again to start hacking the pattern! I started with the vintage, gorgeous, ridiculously fabulous Patsy Party Dress from Rebecca Page Sewing. This has been on my “wish I had a reason to wear it” list since I saw the first line drawing. NOW I DO!!! I used the free version, but the add-on pack is amazing. Seriously gives you every fancy look you could need for a strapless dress.

This pattern also includes all the info to give structure and support so if you want to go braless and still feel supported, you can. There is info on interlining and how to add boning. There’s a blog post on adding a waist stay for even more support. (Peeps! I wrote this one! You should check it out.) In my desire to just sew quickly, I wanted to totally skipped most of this. I did interline the entire thing only because the sparkles are a little sheer. I would have added the waist stay, but ran out of time. More on that later.

Now, I love the vintage strapless look of the Patsy, but I needed to add straps. I wanted sparkly, cagey, strappy delight and I wanted that to start from more of the sweetheart neckline. I also needed to do a full bust adjustment (the free princess seam FBA download is super easy to follow and worked PERFECTLY!) A quick muslin of the bodice to check the FBA is the perfect opportunity to start this hack.

I pinned the muslin to my bra (the one I’m wearing under the dress, so everything sits in the same place) and marked how low I want the sweetheart to sit. I didn’t want to lose the vintage feel, so I didn’t go cleavage low. I took off the muslin and used my french curve to ease that point into the side of the center front piece. I didn’t want to lose any bra coverage on the side either, so just drew a nice, smooth curve. Cut off this bit and pinned it back on. It was exactly what I needed!! So a quick transfer to the pattern piece and I’m good to go!! (Keep in mind seam allowance when you do this!! You’ll lose 1/2″ from the top edge.)

The only other change I made was adding the strappy goodness. I wanted straps on straps on straps! Straps for days! Interwoven and heading in unexpected directions. Just straps. I wanted them narrow, but not so narrow that I’d throw them across the room while trying to turn them right sides out. I cut strips 1 1/4″ wide and sewed with a 3/8″ seam allowance. The fabric is super lightweight and it was really easy to turn them. Eight straps later and I’m ready to ask Virginia for help in figuring out where to place them.

This process was…fun. I clipped them to the front where I thought I wanted them. Then asked Virginia to pin me into it (that back is hard to pin myself!). Small tweaks and another check, and they are basted on; then I’m ready to figure out back placement. I tried something I thought I’d like and hated it. Virginia to the rescue! She moved straps around and clipped them where she liked them, with many photos shown to me so she could adjust and tweak. After triple checking that they were interwoven correctly (pro tip, they’re not…don’t look too close), I sewed them in between my main fabric and lining. A really good press and deciding not to understitch, and my bodice is ready to be sewn to the skirt.

Why didn’t I understitch? Well, I find those straps make it difficult to get a smooth line across the entire front of the bodice. My machine tends to bump a bit when I get to that extra thickness, and I don’t want to be sad every time I see it, or take it slow and responsible to get it right. But I still don’t want my lining sneaking out. So what the hell choice is that?! Bad sewist!! I just cheated the lining to the wrong side. When I pressed, I pulled it down a scant quarter inch lower than it is supposed to be. Really, really good press here and pinned the lining lower than the bodice all the way down, and across the bottom. Why? You might ask. Because I’m cheating on the next step too.

The pattern has stunning finishes, inside and out. But, I’m looking for quick and dirty and this is just for me. So, I’m not doing the lining how it is suggested. I’m treating the entire bodice as one at this point. Sewed my skirt on, then attached my zipper, after adjusting the back to take out extra width since my fabric stretched out a bit during construction (this step is included in the pattern and is one of the most important ones to get the right fit. It is worth the extra time. Promise!). Usually the zipper would be sandwiched in between the outer and lining, so there is no way it sneaks out and is seen. But, I’ve got straps RIGHT THERE. They give me some coverage for a little seam allowance sticking up. I can serge the back edge, make sure to get that zipper tape fully secured, then, if needed (and only if needed), it can be tacked to the lining with just a few hand stitches. Then I won’t even need those straps as a just in case. Yeah, I’m lazy. But I just saved myself from hand sewing the bodice lining all the way around the waist. Calling it a win!

That’s it. The dress just needed a hem and it was good to go! I left it hanging to let it stretch out fully. Hemmed it and decided if it needed a waist stay. (Why not? It doesn’t take long.) It turns out I ran out of time for hemming though. The outer fabric needed to be hemmed by hand. It was just the prettiest option and it. Took. Forever. So my lining is currently unhemmed and I didn’t have time to add a waist stay. I finished the outer hem an hour before I needed to leave. Whoops! Still had to pick some shoes, and a hairstyle. Thankfully, I played with some lippie options and watched youtube videos to learn how to put stuff on my face earlier in the week. A little help from the sister and I’m off to Frocktails.

This event was really fun. It was cool to be in a place where everyone had this crazy, common interest. I met some awesome new people. Some from just around the corner, some a bit further away. Some brand new, but oh so impressive, sewists, and some ridiculously experiences sewists!

I did finally get to meet Jessica, from 5 Out of 4 Patterns! She lives not too, too far from me and we’ve never met! That was cool as hell! And the superstar Aaronica, who is as fabulous in person as expected!!

All in, it was a really cool night. My feet and throat hurt (I’m old, but the music was too loud), and I definitely had a slow start this morning, but it was a night I won’t soon forget! If you have a Frocktails event near you, I highly recommend making some time.

Stephanie xx

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5oo4 Jenny

Have you ever really wanted to test a pattern, but just didn’t have the time. Then completely failed to buy it or sew it when it released? Yeah, that’s Jenny for me. What a fun pattern!! Super cute, looks comfy, desperately mad I couldn’t make time to test it when 5oo4 was ready. (Why can’t they work on my schedule?!)

Now Jenny is available on 5 Out of 4’s $5 pattern weekend!!! So if you missed out as well, you can grab the pattern now!

I have to tell you, I really thought this one would be a bit complicated to sew. It looks a bit fancy! But it was so, so easy!! This one took under 2 hours from start to finish, with some clear distractions. Definitely one I’ll be making a few more times!

Since Virginia is the lovely model, she is so damn lucky, I’ll pass on her comments on Jenny. “Sooo. This shirt is one of the most comfortable I have EVER worn. It drapes and clings perfectly. How you ask? Amazing design of a perfect shirt. I will definitely need a few more in more fabrics.”

The instructions for this one are very specific about which fabrics give the best results and this gorgeous deep red knub jersey from Sly Fox Fabrics is exactly the perfect choice! It is drapey and lightweight. Cool and comfortable. Easy to wear. Good thing we bought all the colors, because I think I need this in plum!

Grab your copy of Jenny, and hit the 5oo4 Facebook page this weekend to enter to win a free pattern!

Stephanie xx

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5oo4 Knot Tee

One of the best parts of sewing is finding really fun, unique tops that ACTUALLY FIT BOOBS! If I saw a shirt like this at a store, I’d get quite excited at how cute it is, find my size, and head to the dressing room. I’d get it on, and my boobs would 100% be either smooshing out the top, or awkwardly split below the boobal area (that’s a word). If this is my problem, my sister has it WAY WORSE. I doubt she would even pick it up to try it on. Now that I make our wardrobes, she can have super cute tops that actually fit!! Crazy talk.

Let’s talk about this knot top. I know I’ve talked about it before, but I just adore it! So does Virginia! She has another one and was so excited for me to make a second one! It looks so complicated, but is super easy! The instructions are so clear and easy to follow, you’ll have a gorgeous new top (or dress!!) in no time.

One of my favorite parts of this top (and most of 5oo4’s patterns) is the included cup sizes on the bust pieces. If you’re well endowed, you can cut the right size pieces to get the coverage you need. If you’re less generously endowed, you won’t be swimming in fabric!

We made this out of this gorgeous double brushed poly from Sly Fox Fabrics. I don’t think it is available currently, but I HIGHLY recommend DBP for this top. It is so comfy and flattering and she just loves it!!! Check out the entire DBP from Sly Fox here!

Grab your copy and check out all of the amazing patterns from 5oo4! Don’t forget to share your version in the 5oo4 group!

Stephanie xx

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Personalized Tea Towels

I love picking out presents for people. Taking the time to find just the right thing that will bring a smile to someone’s face, or a tear to their eye. So, when a friend and her fiance bought a house, I knew I wanted to find just the right housewarming gift, to help them make this new house their home. The problem? I hadn’t been to their apartment, so I had no idea what their style/aesthetic is!!!

Thankfully, they’re planning a wedding and I LOVE weddings. The promise to choose a single person every day for the rest of their lives? It gets me every time. Plus, add in fun decor, gorgeous clothes, and hopefully fun music, hell yes. I’m all in. So, my excitement for weddings, and crafts in general, means I always hope friends share wedding plans as they happen! Seeing choices for flowers and centerpieces, cakes and favors, makes me so happy!! This was also a great way to get an idea for their style. That’s what I call a win/win!

A little more back story, this lovely friend loves shopping at TJ Maxx/Home Goods and completely adores the Rae Dunn line. Super cute and fun! (If we didn’t already collect Fiesta, I’d fall down this rabbit hole so fast!) She found this mug while out shopping and picked it up for me!! I love it! It is a fantastic addition to the craft room!! (Plus, we’ve picked up a few other Rae Dunn pieces since!) And this gives me another clue for what she/they like in their home. Off to Home Goods we go!!!

We found a super cute Rae Dunn dish and a lovely vase, but something stuck with me when she gave me that gorgeous mug. She “had to get it for me because [she’ll] never find one with her name on it”. Not cool. Everyone should be able to find kick ass personalized pieces!! So, I have to make something personalized for her (and her fiance, obvs). What better for a housewarming than a lovely set of tea towels?! Virginia and I picked up some beautiful, subtly striped fabric (which is impossible to photograph without getting a headache!) Gave it a thorough wash, so it doesn’t shrink with the vinyl attached, and got to work!! Virginia tried a bunch of pretty fonts while I cut towels out!

This is a wonderfully simple sewing project. I cut rectangles at 19 inches wide and 29 inches tall. Since my fabric didn’t really shrink, I was able to cut three towels across the width of the fabric!! Then I ironed each side edge in a scant 1/2 inch twice. Then ironed the short ends 5/8 inch twice. This gives a slightly deeper folded edge to the ends, which I think looks really nice. A quick topstitch close to the inside folded edge of the towels, and they are ready for vinyl!

If all my friends could settle down with someone who’s name is a similar length, this would be way easier. Hah! We played with font size, direction of text, angles and just decided to go for the same width, and let her name be larger than his. Then we went for a simple combo of initials for the third towel. Weeding went really quick, a solid press to the towels and they’re done. I think I spent more time doing a pre-press to make sure the towels folded in thirds beautifully before adding the vinyl, than the time I spent actually ironing it on. It was wonderful!

I think these are super cute! I can definitely see some fun snarky ones for my kitchen, and more names for friends and couples. Plus, I can break out the embroidery machine to go even fancier if I want!!

With how fun and quick this project was, I might have to prep some towels and set them aside in case I need a last minute holiday gift. (But, for my friends, I totally planned yours super far in advance.)

Stephanie xx

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Etched Mirrors

Sewing isn’t my only craft. I’ve always loved dabbling in various crafty type things. I took all the art classes in high school, a few in college. I’m not overly good at most of them, but I do thoroughly enjoy the time spent creating something. One of those art classes in high school taught us how to etch mirrors and glass. It is ridiculously easy, so something in our house gets fancied up with some contact paper and etching fluid every few years. (They can also make fun and unique gifts!)

This is the mirror I etched in high school. We got to design our own thing, etch it on the mirror, then solder on some beautiful stained glass. I’ve always loved geometric shapes (probably why I have a Frank Lloyd Wright tattoo!). I find them soothing and beautiful. It is so fascinating to watch basic shapes come together into something that is so much more. This has survived all my moves and hangs in my bedroom now. A great reminder to always enjoy the crafts, because they brighten up my life.

Anyway, we saw these hexagonal mirrors in the bullseye section of Target and I knew we needed to etch them!! Hexagons are my favorite shape (what, you don’t have a favorite shape?!) and the white framing is perfect for our style. When I picked them up off the shelf, I KNEW they had to be fancy swears. So ridiculous, yet so fun.

They sat FOREVER. Collecting dust, mocking me with their boring mirror faces. Until we had to break out the Silhouette for another project (for a present, so I can’t share yet! Keep an eye out.) If we’re going to pull it out and sit down with it, we might as well do the mirrors!!! Perfect!!

Now, mostly I ask Virginia to run the software while I prep or do other projects. I don’t know why, I’m not very good at describing what I’m visualizing, so we both usually end up frustrated (sorry, Sister). This was one of those projects. I said fancy, scroll-y font with flowers around it. How vague can I get?! Well, she left for work and I dove in to see if I could create what I was picturing. Sent her a snap of it for approval, since they’re planned to hang in shared space. Got the go and started to cut.

It turns out I do not have the patience to weed contact paper. Hell no. Never again. So, I tossed the first cut and used some permanent vinyl instead. WAY EASIER!!! I highly recommend the more sturdy, easy to transfer vinyl over contact paper. Got them both weeded and placed on the mirrors. Throw some etching fluid on there (safety is recommended here. Use a popsicle stick to spread, in a well ventilated place. Gloves are suggested. Blah, blah.) Let it sit. Wipe it off. Peel the vinyl. Then wash it off. Seriously the easiest process, once you’ve got your design stuck to the glass.

Of course, after I finished, I realized the mirror comes out of the frame and this could have been a way easier project. Oh well, it isn’t perfect, but, I LOVE how it turned out!! Subtle swears are my aesthetic. These now hang fantastically in the living room and I can’t wait to see reactions as visitors notice (for those that don’t know about them already, because I’ve told everyone!! Hah!!)

Next etching project, glassware. For sure.

Stephanie xx

(Y’all, its really hard to take photos of mirrors.)