So much has happened in the last week! Hence why I haven’t updated in a little while. The Manly got into graduate school, so he’ll be pursuing his Master’s in Public Health (Health Behavior) in the fall. He’s finishing up his second Bachelor’s this summer, so he’s going to have more degrees than me in the end! I’m super excited for him and very proud; I know he’s going to rock that degree!

As for me…. I GOT A NEW JOB! A really, really amazing job that’s going to be huge for my professional development as much as it is for me personally. It’s at a local nonprofit here in Birmingham that provides early intervention programs for babies and young children with developmental disabilities. I’ll be getting a pay increase but more appealingly, I’ll be working 8am-3pm which gives me some time to volunteer during the week in addition to on the weekends. The hours will also give me more time to pursue my own (albeit extracurricular) education. I’m taking advantage of some of the free classes on digital marketing and effective leadership on Coursera.com. Do you take any courses on that site? What I learn will directly impact my job at the nonprofit and will aid me in my future endeavors. The organization is entirely woman-founded and women-run, which makes me very happy because I care about women having strong leadership in the workplace, and the executive director is basically who I want to be when I grow up. She’s very hands-on, sharp as a whip, gorgeous, and most of all confident. I can’t tell you how many bosses I’ve had who have been intimidated by me! That’s really been a big problem and has screwed up my relationships with my bosses in the past. She’s so wonderful so far, I can’t wait to start learning from her!

I finished three shirts this week but I’ve been failing at taking outfit photos. I promise to do better!

For this shirt I used the cap sleeves from the peplum top pattern:

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Mia Munchkin has a habit of getting in my pictures… or getting in my business whenever I try to do anything, haha! Said with love.


These tops are supposed to have a little button closure at the neck but so far I’ve avoided it… I might just do a little hook and eye rather than an actual button.


We’re distracted by Asha Dawg, Mia’s older sister.


This shirt is actually made inside-out in that I liked the “wrong” side of the fabric better than the right side. (pic at the end of this post!) These sleeves are part of the actual pattern for this shirt. I didn’t gather the sleeves to make them fit, I just did a little pleat at the top of the shoulder.


No makeup, run awayyyyy!


So cute but so distracting!!

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Enough of these boxy shirts (didn’t I swear I would never wear boxy shirts… whoops!), let’s see some peplum! This fabric is fairly heavy, doesn’t fray, and has a little stretch, so it was both awesome to work with and really challenging to work with. The neck is too big, a problem I’m having with a lot of my tops…

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You can see how it’s not tight enough around my waist (oh joy, MORE fitting) and you can see more how big the neck is.

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It’s sooooooo bigggggg!


What do you think? Am I doing okay? I’m going to knock out some simple sleeveless tops tonight after I go to Birmingham Art Crawl, a fantastic monthly event that our community has been in need of for years. We have such a wonderful art scene, we should’ve been celebrating it years ago! My favorite thing: the artists keep 100% of the profits! 😀 It’s so incredibly rare that that happens.

Here’s what I wore today with my new top:



IMG_2722This photo is a little washed out, but you get the gist. The “right” side of the fabric is much darker than the wrong side with a bold coral and dark black. I preferred the softer side. Do you think it works, or do you think I should have gone bolder? I thought the lighter side worked better with my pale skin.


There’s Asha! She’s never amused by me.


Ya’ll be careful using irons! I had mine on its hottest setting and *barely* bumped it. Now I’m going to have yet another lovely scar on my poor right arm. Like my manicure? It was my birthday present for myself. It’s shellac which I will swear by for the rest of my life — despite all the work I do with the horses on the weekends, cleaning and moving furniture in the apartment, dishes and cooking, general clumsiness, etc. IT NEVER CHIPS. It’s seriously a godsend!!! I did, however, learn today that you can’t get it off with regular nail polish so I’ve got grown out nail polish until payday when I can get a new manicure. Oh, lady problems. I think it’s great to treat yourself to something small and special that makes you feel girly and pretty. We women work so hard everyday and always feel guilty when we do things for ourselves that seem superficial. I really think you should do at least one thing per month that is silly and unnecessary but is something you really enjoy. Treat yo’ self!

Okay, that’s all for now! I’m off to Art Crawl but hopefully I’ll update soon with some finished projects!

Thanks for reading.

Another Peplum

I started a new peplum top last night using a yard of fabric I got from the clearance bin, which means it’s in truth barely a yard and I have no idea what kind of fabric it is. It’s coming together nice and quick as I seem to naturally understand this pattern in a way I don’t seem to with the others.

Already seeing a few problems though. 1. I made one of the pleats too large so the skirt was about a half an inch, maybe a little more, too short so it didn’t match up with the back zipper seam. However, I think this little problem will be fixed when I move the skirt up an inch and a half, which I should have done from the beginning since I had to do it on the last one so it hits at my natural waistline. This time I used a size 8 pattern and it fits much much better than the 12, so I have NOOOOOOO idea how my measurements are so messed up. But at least I figured it out. Size 8 from here on out, conveniently my store size too!

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so for the crappy photos — taken last night at midnight!

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I trimmed the fabric in a smooth curve to take care of the shortness of the skirt edge to the bodice edge, but I think that’s just going to cause more problems when I install the zipper. Whoops! Ah well.

The fabric is quite thin but sturdy, so it presses well but I should have lined it, or at the very least lined the front bodice. It’ll definitely be a summer shirt. For the record, I bought this fabric thinking it had light brown flowers drawn on it.

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Closer inspection reveals a very Orientalist design. I’m hoping no one will look that closely so they won’t think I stereotype East Asian cultures in that way.

Finishing things: I’ve got a zipper for it, but it’s navy blue. I’m hoping the contrast will work (especially since I used light blue thread) rather than just look odd. We’ll see! I also need to make bias tape to finish the neck and arm holes. I intended to make little cap sleeves, but I didn’t have enough fabric. Boo.

First things first though — seam ripping the skirt, hemming up the bodice to my natural waist line, and reattaching the skirt there.

I also noticed that this pattern kind of dips down in the back, but I think I’m okay with it. I leave the skirt open anyways and just have the zipper closing the bodice, so I think the extra drape works.

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I’ve got the fabric ready to go for making this pattern two more times (yes, I love it that much), so stay tuned! Hoping to start a dress and a skirt or two this weekend, but I need more zippers!

And if you were wondering… I was watching Independence Day while sewing this. Don’t judge — it’s my favorite movie!

Two Tops Finished!

Finally, pictures!

The first is my favorite. I made a size 12 originally, but had to tailor it down quite a bit to fit. It’s still a little too big around the waist, but I’m going to call it “comfy” instead of baggy so I don’t have to go back and fix it. This is Simplicity 1425 view D.

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Peplum 3

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The other top I finished is clearly too big (I can’t remember if I made a 12 or a 10) and I didn’t bother trying to fit it since it’s supposed to be flowy. The only part that bothers me is the big gap under the armpit which shows my bra clear as day. Manly said to go with it, so who am I to argue, but when I make this top again, I’m going to try an 8 instead. This is Simplicity 1589.

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I love both of these fabrics — their light and breathable but don’t have any stretch so they’re very stable, holding the shape of the tops well. No idea what they are, though, because both of them are from the clearance scraps bin!

They both have little mistakes throughout, but since they are my first two shirts, I’m cutting myself a needed perfectionist break. I haven’t been finishing my edges, primarily because I’m not sure when is the best time to do that (right after I cut out the pattern?), so these tops are probably going to unravel by the end of the year. Ah well! The learning curve continues to be steep.

The battery in my camera remote seems to be struggling (I’ve had it since college and never changed it, so no wonder!) so it’s pretty obvious in all my pictures. You get the gist, though, right?

Unrelated, I’m thinking about getting some kind of perm to put consistent waves in my hair. We’ll see!

Wardrobe Architect

In addition to Me-Made-May, I’m officially accepting the Wardrobe Architect Challenge. I’ve already done some of these steps and come up with the theme of the challenge on my own–making all your clothing rather than buying it off the backs of children and poor workers– but I love the structure that the official Challenge provides.

Here are the tasks:

  • January – Find your core style and explore shapes
  • February – Clean out your closet and take inventory
  • March – Review and finalize your spring/summer sewing projects
  • April – Plan colors and shop for spring fabric
  • May & June – Sew for your spring/summer capsule wardrobe
  • July – Review and finalize your autumn/winter sewing projects
  • August – Plan colors and shop for autumn fabric
  • September & October – Sewing for your autumn/winter capsule wardrobe
  • November – Review and refine
  • December – Show off your wardrobe!

(from here)

Okay, so looking at it, I guess all I’ve done is February’s task, so I need to jump on the other months to get caught up.

January: Find Your Core Style and Explore Shapes

I don’t really know how to define my core style, especially since I’m still figuring out what it is. I can, however, talk about the shapes I like. I’m almost a true hourglass — 36″-30″-40″ — so I’m pretty conscious about making sure my waist is accentuated so I don’t look like a big rectangle. I’m short as well (5’4″) and curvy in the lower region, so I steer clear of anything that might make my hips look bigger than they already are, namely pleated pants, pleated shorts, and pleated or poofy skirts. I’ve got a little belly pooch so I like things to be fitted but not too tight.

Peplum shirts are my new best friend. I’ve made one already (wearing it right now!) and they’re not that challenging surprisingly, plus they accentuate my waist perfectly while hiding my tummy.

I like flowy shirts, but only if they’re fitted somewhat to make sure my waist is still a little shaped in.

These are from the same pattern (McCalls 7125). I like the handkerchief hem because it will make me look taller and leaner by drawing the eye vertically and I like the looseness of the body of the design, but I’ll definitely be fitting it through the bust and just below. I’m starting this pattern tomorrow, so stay tuned!

I try to stick to fitted sleeves so my upper body doesn’t look too large. I sometimes like the look of bigger sleeves, flowy or a little poofy, but they make me look like a linebacker or hide my waist shape, so I avoid them. I very rarely wear long sleeves because I so often push them up, making 3/4 sleeves, short sleeves, and sleeveless my go-tos.

Things I definitely don’t do: Drop waist, boxy tops (as popular as they are, they just make me look huge!), and bubble or elastic hem, and tunics. I don’t like collars, square-necks, or button up blouses and if a top calls for buttons, I’ll find a way to do it with a zipper or I won’t make it. I’m pretty over cardigans.

Things I absolutely adore: Flowy tops, peplum tops, exposed zippers, fitted sleeves, scoop and v-necks, subtle high-low hems, open back and tulip tops, blazers, cowl necks (as long as they aren’t so low I have to wear a cami underneath).

Things I’m on the fence about: Dolman sleeves (subtle if any), sheer boxy tops, wrap tops, sweetheart necklines, crop tops, dramatic high-low hems.

I guess I would describe my style as structured but soft?

For my lower half, I favor skinny jeans, skinny trousers (no pleats!!), and pencil skirts. I dabble in wide-leg trousers and slightly flared/bootcut jeans but only if I’m wearing heels, otherwise I look very short and frumpy. But with heels? Lovely!

I have been seriously inspired by The Little Tailoress, who is absolute perfection. She’s so gorgeous and talented!

I really want to make a pair of these trousers from Colette Patterns (an indie fashion designer) but I’m a little nervous about potential belly pooch. I think high-waisted pants are incredibly flattering on hourglass figures and for me personally, I prefer them because I don’t have a muffin top issue!

I’m definitely on the bandwagon of being obsessed with the fashion in Scandal, The Fall, and Bomb Girls (all available for binging on Netflix).

You can find the official Scandal collection here. Yes, the costumes are so adored on a television show that they made a fashion line from it. You’ll note that everything is subtle, structured, and soft. I love that. The only difference is, I want COLOR. I want pattern! But I love the shapes of everything and Kerri Washington rocks them. The wide-leg trouser pants are especially tempting.

In The Fall, the incredible Gillian Anderson (who is a truly fascinating woman and she’s brought us one of the most intellectually interesting and challenging shows on television) sports high-waisted pencil skirts and wide-leg trouser pants with flowy or silky blouses tucked in. She’s the only one who can make me consider wearing a button-up blouse ever again besides the one Audrey Hepburn look I wear with my one white button-up shirt + black skinny jeans + ballet flats.

The internet is shockingly scant on images of her full-figure. Boo.

She, like Kerri, wears only neutrals and repeats the soft but structured theme. I think they do it because it makes them less intimidating somehow. I wore a lot of neutrals when I was younger (teenager and early-twenties) not only because I was depressed  but because I thought it would help soften me in general, help people be less put-off by me and intimidated. Now I’m all about embracing who I am rather than trying to camouflage it. I still love the look, but I’m all about color now. I’m trying to keep their silhouettes and fabrics in mind.

As far as dresses go, I’m interested in simple but fitted sheath dresses.

I’ll be starting view D this weekend with an exposed zipper. I might do view C with little cap sleeves and no overlay… We’ll see. Anyway, these are really easy projects supposedly so I should be able to whip out a few quickly.

Thanks to Bomb Girls, I’m also really interested in 1940s fashion with Gladys and Vera in particular in mind. Again, the flowy blouse and high-waist, wide-leg trousers come into play.

Add of course… the dresses. 40s dresses are so flattering, particularly if you’re an hourglass like I am. I highly recommend you watch the show, if only for the fashion. Vera and Gladys’s wardrobes are absolutely to die for!

Okay, I’ll stop now. But seriously, this show is gorgeously costumed. One of my favorite things is they have the ladies rewear the same pieces which is much more realistic than a new outfit every single day.

Currently, I’m reconsidering a boxy top as long as it was paired with high-waist skinny trousers and heels. I need to make a pinterest page according to the Challenge instructions!

This is probably enough for now. The Challenge has written assignments that I plan to work through later today, so I’ll share those when I’m through.

Have YOU taken the Challenge? How did you feel about it? What did you learn about yourself and about how clothes affect you?


Me-Made-May ’15

I’m boldly and terrifyingly jumping into Me-Made-May, an annual challenge in the sewing community to wear one “me-made” (handmade by your own hands) item per day throughout the month of May. As you know, I only recently started sewing clothes, hence the “I’m terrified of this challenge” but I’m also incredibly excited. From what I’ve witnessed, the sewing community is very supportive and friendly, so I think this is a great way for me to connect with its members while pushing me to sew regularly with a steady production rate.

I’m sitting on a decent stock of fabric and patterns that I’ve acquired over the last month, and I’ve got a number of projects lined up using patterns I’ve already done (like the peplum shirt below — love it!!!) so those items should come together much more quickly that the first ones and with fewer mistakes.


I ordered this dress form on Amazon (free shipping! received it in under a week) and already she’s been a HUGE help with fitting problems. I’ve named her Margaret, after my grandma (now deceased). Grandma taught my mother how to sew which is the only reason I know how to sew now. We were never very close, so I feel like I should hold onto the one thing it seems we had in common — a love of sewing. Hence, Margaret.

I don’t have any events scheduled until Saturday, so I’m hoping to get a lot done tonight and tomorrow night, finish up the three tops I’ve been working on and start two or three more to work on simultaneously. Having multiple projects going helps me to keep sewing even when I get stumped or frustrated on one piece. I think I’ll start a dress this weekend!

Something I’m very excited about is actually finding an affordable “print your design” shop!


I have a strong background in studio arts so I’ve been considering dabbling in designing my own fabric. Basic cotton is $11.95 per yard and it goes up from there depending on what fabric you’d like. That’s the cheapest I’ve found so far (most are $24/yd) so my ideas are rolling around in my head for color palettes, design themes, etc.

Anyway, so that’s a brief update for now! Hopefully tomorrow I can actually share photos of my finished tops! Cause I need to finish them tonight or else. Gotta set goals for yourself!



That Learning Curve

The weather continues to be unruly, so I only have fuzzy dark iPhone pictures for you, but here’s a peek at what I’ve been working/failing on.

This is the first shirt I started. I’ve sewn pillows (honestly, I’ve had this sewing machine for at least ten years but I can’t for the life of me remember sewing much of anything on it until recently) but this is my initial stab at sewing clothing besides just hemming yoga pants. The material is a silky polyester so it’s pretty difficult to work with for a newbie, which was my first mistake. My trials and errors with bias tape are also pretty evident and my attempts to fix a saggy neckline are still not working, though I think all I need to do now is make some bias tape from the fabric to finish the neck and armholes with, and the shirt might actually be wearable. Let’s take a look…

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My seam ripper and I are becoming fast friends. As you can see, I’ll have to take off that little horizontal strap in order to attach the fabric bias tape to the neck, so that’s fun. I’m probably just going to leave it off instead of sewing it back on because I think it looks a little silly.

This should-be-super-easy-first-shirt pattern is this:

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So that project is almost done. After I clean house this evening, I’m going to settle down with some Netflix and spend my night ripping seams. Yay.

Project number two. All was going great, I got everything together fairly well, my homemade bias tape was looking good, I even fitted the shirt because it was like two inches two big on each side and the waist was about two inches too low. Final part: the zipper. The pattern called for buttons which I don’t really like (I only like buttons for decoration, not functionality) so I opted for a zipper instead. Got the perfect length zipper, got it all sewed on without any major hiccups. Then I go to try the top on…

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Aaaaaand it’s the wrong kind of zipper.

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I need a zipper like the ones they put on hoodies so that I can open the back all the way since there ain’t no way in hell I can get my big shoulders through the fitted waist of that shirt. So. Again. More seam ripping and yet another trip to the fabric store. Sure wish it was closer!

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I actually really adore this pattern, though, and if I can figure out what size I actually need to be sewing (both tops above were made from Size 12 but were too big despite my measurements saying I’m a Size 16… it’s very confusing), I have plans to make a couple more from some very cute lightweight cotton fabrics I got from the discount bins.

In an effort to discover what my real size is, I started a new SUPER EASY shirt last night from this pattern:

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I did View B in a really gorgeous fabric butttttttttt I made the stay seams too far from the edges of the neck pieces (there are three) so when I attached the bias tape, the seams showed on the front. Instead of ripping it out and starting over, I decided just to resew it with a second, wider seam. I’m sure you can guess what happened next — the bias tape was way too thin after that last seam to fold over the neck edges.


Now I get to rip out three seams. Just on this shirt. Plus all the other seams on the other shirts. Girl, you gotta get it together.

My grief process at the end of last night:

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Ah, that pesky learning curve. Oh, how I’m stumbling up it! Whoever wrote this article on NPR is clearly a way more natural seamstress than I!

The Munchkin has been spying on me out of concern:

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With that, I leave you for now. The sun is in fact shining today although clouds are certainly gathering, so I’m going to run out and catch a few rays to help get me out of this terrible funk I’ve been in lately partly thanks to two weeks of non-stop gloomy weather.

Keep on swimming.