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M4M Deanna

Holy Moly. I wasn’t planning on testing this top/dress, but when they’re lacking testers in my size, I’m terrible at saying no. Plus, my new organization means I’m not drowning in deadlines and I actually had a little extra time the week of testing! Crazy talk… Plus, I am SO glad to have jumped in!! Deanna has some beautiful options and I just love the fit!

You can rock an asymmetrical off the shoulder look, perfect slouch on top, while being more fitted through the hips, or this gorgeously large cowl, which is off both shoulders and so, so comfy. There are three lengths to choose from, but you can further choose the split hem, which is banded as either all short bands, all tall bands, or, my personal favorite, one of each for a beautiful hi-lo look. I can’t wait to make a few more of these to add some zazziness to my wardrobe. (Zazziness is totes a word and very applicable to how I feel right now.)

I thought this would be a bit complicated, but was actually a SUPER fast sew! Definitely something to whip up as a pick-me-up or even just before heading out. I love a nice, simple sew for those days where I’m either lacking motivation or have failed at a thing or two and need a win. When that simple sew ends with this stunning piece, that’s an extra win! The only part that is a little sad is it is a bit of a fabric hog when you are adding this lovely cowl. The asymmetrical option uses way less fabric, but the cowl is so worth it!!

I think the top/sweater option is super versatile.
Great for day-to-day wear, or a night out. Even a holiday sweater (next year’s comfy Christmas sweater maybe?). But the dress. Oh my, the dress. Made for Mermaids definitely has a history of assigning me dresses that I would never choose for myself and me immediately realizing I freaking love it. This is another instant win for me.

I always start these dress tests thinking, eh, if I don’t like it, I can shorten it or add some elastic to the side seams for some beautiful, easy ruching. But no need with this one! Worn just as the dress, it is screaming for a date night. But, add some tights and booties and it is super cute to wear for just about anything.

Or you can try it tied or scrunched up to tunic length with some leggings or jeans for a more comfy/casual look. This will definitely get a ton of shirt wear for me, as I am lacking date nights in my life right now. But I love having a piece that can be just what I need for any occasion, should my social life pick up. πŸ˜‰

Dritz 9346C Lightweight Elastic, Clear, 3/8-Inch by 5-Yard
If you’re using a sweater knit with not so great recovery, I highly recommend adding clear elastic like this one to the shoulder and cowl seams.

Let’s talk fabric for a minute though. I used this gorgeous Sly Fox Fabrics double brushed poly for mine. I initially picked it because I was lacking long enough cuts of fabric and I grabbed the max four yards of this when it was a Sly Buy. I’m so glad I did!! I super love it! But, I definitely need to use some sweater knit for the PERFECT sweater …and sweater dress. Also, I’m thinking some ITY would be delightful as a top!

Whatever options you choose, I know you can feel gorgeous and just the right kind of fancy in the new Made for Mermaids Deanna.

Don’t forget to share yours in their Facebook group so I can check it out!! <3

Stephanie xx

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Sewcation, Mistakes, and Overbooking

This year has been full of ups and downs for me, as I’m sure it has been for most of you.  Between surgery, long weekends, a whole week off for the Fourth of July, and losing my Grandma, I have taken a lot of time away from the office this year.  Which is weird for me.  And to top it off, I’m using a TON of leave around the holidays this year.  Most of this is just for me.  We are flying my sister down after Christmas to spend some sister time and just hang out.  Though, she wants me to sew her an entire new wardrobe while she’s in town, so there will be lots of fabric time too.  But the two weeks I took off in between Veteran’s day and Thanksgiving were mine.  I really wanted a break.  A real break.  Time to sleep in, lounge around the house, sew whatever I wanted.  Hoped to have no deadlines to worry about.  

Yeah.  If you’ve ever met me, you know that was a laughable goal.  If I see a break in my schedule, I immediately fill it.  So, the 17 days away from my day job quickly filled to the brim.  I ended up stressing myself to the max and working tons of hours for my second job.  Does anyone else do this?  I stressed myself so much, I made a TON of sewing mistakes.  Real ones!  I picked up the recommended fabric for one project, plus an extra 1/2 yard, just in case.  Got home, washed it and realized it was 52″ wide instead of 60″ and I was WAY short.  Back to the warehouse for me and hopeful to find the same fabric (which is almost impossible).

This lining makes my heart happy.  πŸ™‚ 

On the SAME PROJECT, I cut directional fabric upside down for half the damn pieces.  What am I even doing with my life?  Off I go, to a weird Joann’s, since I already cleaned out my Joann of this fabric.  I mean, the end result was WAY worth it.  This is the SUAT Riding Hood for a friend to keep her baby bump warm during the cold Philly winter.  I quilted the kick-ass Wonder Woman liner with some batting for more warmth, and it is so very soft.  A few extra minutes to add that layer really took this from comfy, cute to a cozy, effective winter jacket.  I love the designer’s self-welting pockets and the little sleeve ties.  Just a really nice layering piece with super cute little details.  Plus I made a cute little key fob to match!  (Which I forgot to take a pic of.)

Then I was working on some Christmas jammies and cut two left legs.  What am I even doing here?  I had just enough fabric left to cut a right leg and have the scraps left for the little projects we wanted to do.  But, damn.  I did use the Patterns for Pirates Walk the Plank pattern.  It is free and quite the quick sew.  Perfect for very beginners!  I’ll share pics laters. πŸ™‚ 

This isn’t to say I didn’t have great successes while I was on my sewcation.  I sewed all the pieces for the #comfytown blog tour early on.  Then lived in those pieces as soon as we took photos.  After making that super comfy Cora, I immediately made a second one.  (You’re getting craft room, jim-jam, 2 AM pics of this one!)  That’s definitely my new fav cardi pattern!!  Everyone needs a Cora in their life.  I also finished off a couple of pattern tests and a pre-test.  I forgot to blog about them, but you might have seen me sharing my Made for Mermaids Jamie Poncho and Hudson Hoodie.  If you need some comfy, warm, cute pieces, these are lovely choices!

A few Christmas presents were also sewn, which I obviously can’t share yet, as well as a few more pieces for my Philly friend (with another cutting mistake, ugh), including a little set of Cora cardis for her and her two little girls.  Totes can’t wait to see how she likes her box of goodies!  And I really need to figure out some cute guy gifts I can make.  I always feel bad leaving Dads out of these little matching sets.  Maybe I’ll ask Bruce what he would want.

Look at this TINY Cora!!!  It’s just so small.  <3 

I also managed to CLEAN the craft room.  Reorganize everything.  As well as finally tackling the scrap pile.  It was INSANE.  And now it is so neat and easy to find what I need and what is useful.  The only downside is that Gus Gus really liked sleeping on the pile.  Now she feels she has nowhere to be comfortable.  Despite the multiple cat beds and comfy places I’ve set up to keep the kittens happy.  They are too expected for this little mischievous bugger.  She’s been awkwardly moving about, trying new, ridiculous places to sleep.  Then STARING at me with disappointment in her eyes, clearly blaming me for her missing comfy spot.  

The to-do list didn’t really get any shorter, so I’m hoping to not pick up any other deadlines before the end of the year.  We’ll see how successful I can be with that goal.  But, I’ll try!  Even without a shortened to-do list, I am working through the projects.  Virginia is helping where she can.  A few more Christmas presents to sew first.  Gotta get those in the mail.  Then, a few promo patterns to sew up that I’m just really excited about!  I love trying new patterns and these should be fun, so I’m hoping to write up my experiences with them as well!  Keep an eye out! <3

Now we’ve made it to December.  I have a few weeks to prep some patterns for the sister, so we can power through some beautiful pieces while she’s in town.  She always gets the short end of the stick when it comes to my sewing time.  She doesn’t live with me, so it is harder to fit anything that isn’t knit and forgiving.  Plus, I haven’t found a designer that drafts just so, that matches her shape, like I have for Virginia and I.  This means a good bit of altering before I start cutting.  Which is a much bigger time commitment and since she isn’t sitting there with the sad eyes, making me feel guilty, her projects end up near the bottom of the to-do list.  I’m truly a terrible sister.  (LOVE YOU, VICKI! <3 <3)

Virginia helping.  Not being sarcastic.  She hung out even though she was tired. <3 

Here’s hoping the next few weeks can be a little calmer and a little more productive.  I really, really, REALLY want to have patterns prepped and ready to go, so as soon as Vicki walks in, she can just pick a project and we’ll start cutting!!!  Anyone want to come help? πŸ˜€

As the year wraps up (seriously, how is it December?!), it is great to look back at what we’ve done and what is still to come.  I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but, I do like to evaluate goals and priorities moving forward.  So, I’d like to blog a little more, celebrate little things a little more, and sew a little bit more in the coming months.

Focus on you today.

stephanie xx

This post contains various affiliate links.  Purchasing patterns using these links does not cost my readers more, but the designer does provide me with a small commission from any sales.  This commission helps to fund my fabric addiction and is greatly appreciated.

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House of Curves – Personal Stories – GIVEAWAY

I hope you’ve been reading from the other House of Curves bloggers this week!  It is always interesting to see how others got started and move about in this crazy sewing world we are a part of!!  (Plus, there’s a giveaway!!  Read to the bottom!!!)

How did I get started, you ask?  Ok, you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway!  πŸ˜€  Way back in the way back, my grandma taught me to sew.  I vaguely recall her explaining how paper patterns work.  What all the markings mean.  How to measure for sizing and fit.  All the good stuff that formed a solid base for me jumping all in to the sewing world!  She helped me make this simple dress and I loved it!  We jumped back in a few times throughout the years.  Plus there’s always home ec in school.  But I didn’t really jump into sewing as a hobby until college!

I decided I HAD to make a quilt while sharing a 12 square foot room with a great friend.  Mom helped me with starter supplies and stuff for my birthday and I sewed by hand.  It was exhilarating!  Being able to take a design from paper to fabric was exciting and oh, so satisfying!!  The downside…I decided it had to be HUGE!  Bigger than king size.  Why?  No clue.  But, I went all in.  Ended up commandeering a common room for an evening, pushing all the couches to the edges of the room, just to pin the layers together!!  Thousands of french knots later (it seemed like the prettiest quilting option at the time), and I was hooked.  Though I might never do a french knot again.  Then there were all the lap quilts and pillows for friends and family.

I’m sure everyone in my family has a shitty project from my early days and I so appreciate the support and excitement for the crap I just had to make.  <3  (I also appreciate that they constantly ask for more, even when I’m ridiculously slow to deliver.  Sorry guys!!)

Once I made it to the real world and discovered there was this thing called free time (a rarity/non-existent in college), I started to become more and more interested in moving beyond quilts.  I started making up my own patterns, picking up $1 patterns during sales, and discovered Craftsy.  (Amazing classes to learn all kinds of art related things.  Even cooking!)  I ended up testing purse/wallet patterns for a company I don’t remember (and I feel terrible for forgetting.  She was a lovely designer and I so enjoyed working with her) and just LOVED it!!  It was so fun to learn new techniques and have input on instructions.  Plus I got to sew for some of my favorite people in the process.  This is where I learned about PDF sewing patterns and the many, many Facebook pages to support them.

What is this magic?  Patterns that aren’t drafted for the exact same body shape?  Patterns without so much extra ease that fit is just ridiculous?  (I completely know that paper patterns have changed significantly and there are so many options now!  Please don’t judge me for previous opinions of older patterns.  Or do, but keep it to your damn self. πŸ˜‰ )

An entire group of like-minded people to share and be inspired by?  Oh yes!  Found my happy place.  That’s for sure!  I learned that lots of companies used testers.  Since it was something I so enjoyed in the past, I figured if I upped my game and started taking better pics to show off my stuff, maybe I could do that for fun.  And it happened!!  Turns out when you’re at the edges of size ranges, it is hard to find testers.  So, I started with Patterns for Pirates when they needed a fill in.  It was delightful!  Such a fun group of women to work with.  Then they asked me again.  Hell yes!!  Finally got added to the regular testing group and I was in heaven!!

From there, I spiraled.  I started testing for any and every designer who needed/wanted me.  If they asked, no way did I say no.  If I saw a tester call, I applied.  Even if I didn’t like the designer’s style.  Mistakes were made.  Beautiful garments were also made.  It was so fun!

Now, I’m a regular tester for quite a few groups.  Some who asked me, some I applied for.  I always try to test patterns that let me learn something new.  (I’ve ranted about this before…).  Since there are so many sewists who want to test, I try not to test for things just to be testing.  If I’m not in love with the design, why not let someone else enjoy that experience?  If I’m testing for a designer, I love working with them and their team!  The “payment” of the pattern for free at the end isn’t much of a payment (if you want to test just for free patterns, it is cheaper to just buy them!).  So, the experience is what I’m in for.  Great people, fun groups, new techniques.  These are the things that keep me in the testing world.  Plus, I’m a procrastinator.  I need deadlines to accomplish things.  Otherwise, I’m down for sitting on the couch, reading a book or twiddling my thumbs.  Now I keep an excel spreadsheet to keep track of the tests and promos.  All the deadlines.  And I love every minute of it.

Testing has also lead to some amazing people.  Not just designers, but other testers and people asking questions on my promotion posts.  I love when you connect with a stranger and they become someone you can chat with.  Reach out to for questions.  Complain about your shitty day with.  Be there for them, whatever they need.  I’ve been lucky to make friends with people all over the world and I can’t imagine my week without them!!

Overall, my world has improved significantly since finding the PDF sewing community and jumping into testing.  I hope your journey has been just as fun and continues to provide satisfaction and much needed relaxation.  Now, tell me how you made it here!  How did you start sewing?  And don’t forget to check out the other bloggers on this great blog tour!  (And enter to win some great prizes below!!)

stephanie xx

Check out the stories from all the House of Curves bloggers!

Monday, Oct 1: Seams Like Style
Tuesday, Oct 2: Twinkle Toes & Co
Wednesday, Oct 3: Sequoia Lynn Sews
Thursday, Oct 4: cut.sew.make
Friday, Oct 5: Sarcastic Sewist

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5oo4 Eleanor Cardigan

It is FINALLY FALL!!!!!  If the weather would catch up with the calendar, I’d appreciate it.  But, until then, I’m diving into my great stash of sweater knits.  We super stocked up last year and I’ve sewn so little of it!  This test was a great excuse to make some ridiculously comfortable cardigans out of some even more ridiculously comfortable fabric.

When I picked up with gloriously soft sweater knit from Sly Fox Fabrics, I had no idea what to do with it!  The coral was a bit more vibrant than I expected when I ordered it and it is very drapey and soft and I love it.  I’m so glad I bought enough for this tunic length cardigan.  It is a slightly dropped shoulder, making it extra cozy.  Plus, there’s an option for an EXTRA LONG SLEEVE!!!!  WHAT?!  Do you love squishing your hands up into your sleeves?  I know I do.  This sleeve is perfect for cozying up on the porch, on a chilly fall morning, with a cup of coffee and a great book.  (Dammit weather.  Cool down!!)  Plus these pockets are super cute. <3

Virginia also needed a comfy cardigan.  So she picked this great wide ribbed sweater knit from Sincerely Riley!!  In a beautiful grey, it is perfect for matching every outfit, ever.  She also picked tunic length, but I gave her the hooded option and the slimmer fit extra long sleeve, just because I could.

Now, there are lots of other options included in this pattern!  There’s knee and duster length.  Plus a regular sleeve length.  And a belt!!  Do you need a cozy robe cardi for lounging in the house?  This is PERFECT.  I have a couple on my to-do list for comfy cool weather, in house (but cute enough for outside) layers!  And, if you like to match your kiddos, there’s a girls’ version as well!!

Can’t wait to see what you do with these gorgeous patterns!

stephanie <3

 

 

 

 

 

This post contains various affiliate links.  Purchasing patterns using these links does not cost my readers more, but the designer does provide me with a small commission from any sales.  This commission helps to fund my fabric addiction and is greatly appreciated.

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Two Cheers for Made for Mermaids Women’s Avery

This top was so cute, that even with my stupid sprained ankle and not really being ready to jump back to sewing, I threw my name in the hat to test and hoped with all hope that I’d be chosen.  Clearly I was, win.  And dang did sewing hurt.  Worth.  Every.  Minute.  (Don’t worry.  Mostly healed now.  Also back to sewing too much.)

I LOVE unique pieces.  I’m trying really hard to step back from testing the same thing over and over.  I just find it difficult to be genuine and thorough while recommending something when I already have a great pattern for.  Please don’t misunderstand!  I’m not trying to say anything bad about any designer at all!!  Just because I’ve found the perfect basic tank pattern, doesn’t mean that pattern works for everyone or has the options everyone is specifically looking for!!  So, I hope designers keep releasing all these beautiful patterns until everyone has exactly what they need and want (read: never stop!!!  MAKE ALL THE PATTERNS).  But for me, if I already have a similar pattern, why test when I’ll have less enthusiasm?  The designer deserves more.  So does anyone reading my promo posts or blog.

But LOOK AT THIS BACK!!!  I don’t have anything like this!  So much potential!!!!!!  It is so simple, but just fantastic!  (Say fantastique with a French accent.  It’s better; I promise.)  When we started, I was pumped to tackle such a complicated twist (pun intended) on a basic tank.

Like any good tester, my first step is always to read the instructions from beginning to end.  Every.  Damn.  Word.  Usually more than once, just to make sure I’m going to sew the way the designer wants me to sew.  (This is also one of my favorite ways to learn new techniques.)  This initial read made me so damn happy.  The twist is super easy!!!  It makes sense and isn’t complicated.  Construction is clear and I wasn’t going to *need* wine to make it through.  (This, of course, does not eliminate wine from being consumed in the sewing process in any way!)

To jump topics here, I have also been meaning to sew more solids.  I LOVE PRINTS!!  Dots and stripes.  Florals and geometrics.  BRING.  THEM.  ON.  I wear them on top.  I wear them on bottom.  I mix and match them.  I just can’t get enough.  This means I always need some solids to pair with them.  Always.  I’ve had this green mystery knit for quite some time (pretty sure it is rayon spandex.  Too lazy to do a burn test and don’t really care).  Whatever it is, I loved it so much, we bought the rest of a bolt when Hancock Fabrics was closing.  I used a smidgen for this lovely Made for Mermaids Mama Sommer last summer.  (GO PACK GO!!)  But, this meant I had quite a bit left over and wasn’t sure what I wanted with it because it is quite lightweight and I wasn’t filling my closet with rayon spandex just yet.  This lightweight fabric was exactly what I needed for Avery.  Win!!

This was possibly the fastest sew ever.  I think it was faster than my usual simple tank.  I truly was expecting at the very least, the first one to take a bit of time.  Four or five hours maybe.  But, Avery went from a stack of pages to this gorgeousness in about two hours.  TWO HOURS!!!  Quite a bit less the second time (no gluing, since we wear the same size in M4M).  And only about an hour for the third.  (I imagine this is about as quick as it will get for me.  There are only so many steps that can be quicker with practice.  Also, I’d bet it’ll actually be closer to two hours each sew unless I’m making multiples in one sitting.)  So, if you’re looking for cute, unique, and you have limited time, check out Avery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I loved it so much, I had to make one for the sister.  She looks amazing, as always.  I do love it in this wonderful Sly Fox Fabrics Brazen single brushed poly.  The extra structure hangs so beautifully.  I definitely want to try Avery in an athletic fabric.  I think the structure would be lovely and it is so fun for workouts!  (Cute workout clothes are my favorite motivation to actually go to the gym.  Anyone else use this technique?)

 

 

 

 

Have I mentioned that I have amazing friends?  We recently traveled home to celebrate the Fourth of July (check out our matching shirts!) and had to leave our kittens for an entire week.  We’ve never left them for this long and were nervous about it.  So, a couple amazing friends made time to swing by our place and check on these cute jerks.

I wanted to say thank you and the best way I can do that is give them my time and fabrics.  One sitter loves black and red and sleeves.  So, I went with the Patterns for Pirates Slim Fit Raglan and this lovely striped French Terry from Fine Fabrics (an amazing local place).

 

But, our other cat sitter loves tanks and unique pieces and peacocks.  This fabric seemed a subtle peacock inspired print.  Could be flowers.  What do I know? (Don’t tell anyone it is called Teal Rose, ok?  Definitely Peacock-y.)  This tank was perfect for her!!  We gave it to her the other night and she tried it on immediately!!  <3  Best reaction ever.

Do you need the Avery?  Are you going to sew it up?  Don’t be intimidated by the fancy twist!  Check it out and let me know what you think. πŸ™‚

stephanie xx

PS: Virginia and I both paired our tanks with Made for Mermaids Mama Lexi shorts, because we are living in them these days.  They are ridiculously comfortable and I talked about them a ton here.  My tank is tunic length.  Virginia’s is top length.  The peacock tank is the curved hem.  (BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!)  Just in case you needed more.  It also has a dress length option.  Do remember that the sisters like us to show off our legs, so it is a short dress.  I’m not complaining.  They forced (ok…assigned) me to sew dress length so often, that I’m much more comfortable showing them now.  I’m not perfect, but I am me and that is perfect enough.  <3