Recent Posts

Guest post from Marrie B

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Aloha! I'm out of town right now (for work, so not technically a vacation) and I asked my talented friend, Marrie B, to do a guest post. She's one of my blogging buddies, although since we met in person last month I can now officially call her my "real life" buddy too :) If you haven't checked out her blog yet, then I highly recommend you change that. Her site is one of my favorites! Thanks for guest posting, Marrie!

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Hi there! My name is Marrie and I blog at purlsandpleats.wordpress.com.  I was really honored when Erin asked me to do a guest post for her while she’s in New Orleans. I’ve been following her since the Sew Colette days, and can honestly say that sewalong was a game changer for me – and was when I really fell in love with garment sewing. So I’ll always be thankful to Erin for co-hosting Sew Colette and opening up my sewing world.

Anyway, onto the topic of this post . . . today I’ve got a pressing tip for you. To get really crisp seams and to even control unruly bias tape, try using a clapper. If you’re not familiar with it, a clapper is a wood block that you place over your fabric right after pressing, and it helps the heat and steam from the iron to penetrate the fabric.
CLAPPER
This is how I use mine. Press as usual.
CLAPPER
Then immediately place the clapper on the area pressed and apply pressure. For best results hold the clapper in place until the fabric cools.
CLAPPER
Below are some examples to illustrate how well the clapper works. On the left, the seam was only pressed with the iron. On the right, I also used the clapper.
CLAPPER

CLAPPER

CLAPPER
 Here’s an example of a dart. (The left side is pressed only, on the right side I used the clapper.) And finally, notice the difference in these bias tape strips. The one on the top was only pressed. The one on the bottom was “clappered,” and the fabric holds the fold better.
CLAPPER

 If you’d like a clapper of your own, they are available for purchase for around $20-$30. Or, you can just pick up a piece of wood from the hardware store. My clapper is a left over piece of a 4x4 that I found in the garage. A piece of 2x4 should work just as well. Although I do suggest gently sanding any wood you might use so that it won’t snag delicate fabric. Happy sewing and pressing, everyone! ☺

A Moneta in San Francisco

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When I wrote about my first version of Moneta I didn't realize that it was my new favorite dress pattern. After making the dress a second time it all became very clear, it's official: I'm in love.

My Pucci inspired Moneta was technically a wearable muslin and when it was done I knew that it needed a few tweaks for it to fit the way I wanted. For round two I took in the center neckline by 1/4 inch, shortened the bodice by 1 inch, and added 2 inches to the length. My twin needle even played nice for me and didn't have much tunneling :)


This probably isn't the most exciting make for you guys, but I assure you that it will get a lot of wear. Every girl needs a black jersey dress right? Oooh, I wonder if I should stop referring to myself as a girl, I'm turning 30 this Friday. Is it time to start calling myself a "lady" now?

Back to the dress, I am really into wearing all black again. Throughout my life I go through phases of wearing all black just because I think it is a classy look, not to make any particular statement. For whatever reason it really bothers some people to the point that they have to comment on it. Like, really bothers. Why just a few weeks ago I was called "gothic," but the most memorable comment was from a former dorm mate in college. She said, "I can tell by the way you dress and what music you listen to that you do drugs." L...O...L. Does anyone else get hated on for wearing all black or is it just me?


These photos were taken at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco this weekend. I'm afraid that I don't know a thing about it, it was across the street from the hotel we stayed at and I thought it would be a cool spot for photos. In my next post I'm going to share some photos of the fabric stores I went to :) And surprise surprise, I got fabric for another Moneta.

Happy Wednesday!

Sew day with a girl and a guy

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This past Fourth of July weekend was pretty great. I walked dogs on the beach with three friends, slept in, went to a BBQ, read 250 pages of one of my all time favorite books, The Witching Hour  (need to finish it before I go to New Orleans!), and went to yoga. The highlight was my sew day, of course.


My good friend Jessi (Qui's twin) and her husband Curtis came over yesterday for some sewing. We put on old movies, talked, and got some projects crossed off our to do lists. By the end of the day Jessi had made a super cute coral dress and I completed a pair of knit pants. We joked that we sewed something to wear out to dinner that night :)


I thought it was pretty cool that Curtis joined in on our sew day. It was my first time sewing with a guy! He brought along his denim vest and attached some studs and planned his patch layout. He is the singer for Magazine Dirty and wants to get his vest done before his next show this upcoming weekend.


Curtis and I have been friends for many years, even longer than I have known my husband! He and Luke have been besties forever and I think of him and Jessi as family. I even call his mom my "Arroyo Grande Mom." Cool fact: Curtis was the one who came up with the name "Miss Crayola Creepy" close to ten years ago.


Stella had fun with us too. Did any of you get some sewing done over the weekend?

A fabric shopping tip

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It is so easy to get a little crazy in a fabric store. You might not know how much fabric a certain pattern requires, so you guess and buy what you hope is a little extra. Or you might get distracted by a fabric that you don't really have to have, but want to add it to your stash anyways. Next thing you know, your stash is questionably hoarder status and you've blown money that you shouldn't have spent. I know, I've been there.

One thing I have learned, and this is nothing groundbreaking, is to spend ten or fifteen minutes before leaving the house and put together a list. I have found that when I have a list I am better prepared for shopping. That's what lists are for, right?

On my list I will write:
  • The pattern name
  • Recommended fabrics
  • The amount needed for 45 inch and 60 inch bolts. 

Seeing this in front of me keeps me in check, helps me avoid spending $$$$$, and prevents me from straying from what I came in to buy. Willpower is also required. Plus, I like to add notes, so it's easy to quickly scribble what I ended up getting and how it should be washed.

Nothing in this post is particularly mind blowing, but I thought I would share anyway :) Do you shop with a list, photos from a phone, or another method? Or no method at all?

"If you're going to San Francisco..."

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"...be sure to wear some flowers in your hair." My college roommate told me that she thinks of me when she hears that song. Probably because I would always wear flowers in my hair or maybe she thought I was a hippie, who knows. I digress, I am going to San Francisco this summer for a quick day trip (with minimal fabric shopping, sad I know). Anyway, Colette Patterns put together a Knitcation contest using their two newest knit patterns, Mabel and Moneta. Here's the gist, you sew at least one skirt and dress from the new patterns and make up a travel wardrobe for either a real or pretend vacation. I'll be in SF, but only for 24 hours, and this is what I would wear if I was there for a little longer, didn't want to pack a ton, and knew that it was going to be sunny with no fog.

Look 1: Scout top and Mabel skirt. Vintage scarf to tie in my hair for a pop of color. Bought the scarf the same day as the LA Sewist meet up a few weeks ago :) Sightseeing outfit for sure.
Look 2: Leopard Mabel and American Nightmare band shirt. Pair this with red lipstick and my old Converse. Side note: I have owned the same pair of Converse since high school. They are a little beat up, but I refuse to get rid of them. They'd be great for jumping on and off the cable cars!

Look 3: An unblogged Moneta, I just finished it last night! Leopard cardigan Renfrew mod. I could go cute with this and wear black flats or make it a little more rock and roll with Converse. Magenta lips are a must. Luke and I are going to a comedy show and this outfit will most likely be worn.
Look 4: The same Moneta dress paired with a red Bananna Republic cardigan. I rarely buy RTW, but fell in love with this sweater a couple of years ago. This look would be something worn out to dinner with black flats.

Look 5: Salme Kimono top with an unblogged Mabel. Leopard print shoes to complete this outfit. Did you guys know that I like leopard print???? LOL. This combo will be worn when I am cruising around Union Square in search of Britex.
Look 6:  Mabel and Scout. Just need baby pink flats to wear on my feet, a bun on my head, and soft pink blush on my cheeks.

Look 7: Just realized that I photographed the back of this Moneta dress and not the front, whoops! Guess I need to invest in tags at some point. This dress would be worn on Haight Street and I would make peace signs while posing for photographs that my husband would be forced into taking.

I'm glad I decided to do this Knitcation challenge. I would have made the dresses and skirts with or without the contest, but it forced me to think about my clothes in a different way and combine things that I normally wouldn't or hadn't thought of yet.

Let's talk about San Francisco, do any of you have any restaurant recommendations? If you could go to one fabric store what would it be?

A Pucci inspired Moneta

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Let's make one thing clear: this is Moneta number one of many. I love this pattern and I love the fabric I got from Mood. This would have been my "signature style" look for Project Sewn had I made it that far in the competition. A 1960s Pucci style print, paired with a pattern from one of my favorite companies, in a knit fabric. That just screams "me," at least I think so. Yes, it's a simple look and not as complicated as the other outfits in the competition, but this is me and how I dress.


This dress was a dream to sew. As usual I found Colette's directions to be straightforward, but I did need to reference Devon's sewalong posts when it came to attaching the clear elastic at the waist. Sometimes photos are the only way I can wrap my mind around a new technique and I was very grateful to be able to learn from a pro on the world wide web! I wasn't brave enough to try and attach the elastic with my serger, so I used my machine somewhat successfully. I'm far from an expert at using it and need to practice sewing it into a few more garments. Oh, I wasn't sure where to buy clear elastic locally and ended up buying it on Etsy and was happy with the price and product.

Pockets, oh hell yeah.

The twin needle is still giving me trouble. It could be the fabric or my tension, but there is a definite tunneling issue even though stay tape was used as a stabilizer. We will go ahead and call it a "design feature" on this dress and call it a day.

The neckline is a little loose and needs to be taken in a bit, so the paper pattern was adjusted for Moneta number two. The bagginess doesn't bother me enough to not wear it though!

These photos were taken yesterday on a windy Santa Barbara day. My husband and I felt like getting out of town and had a fun little day trip to shop (since learning how to sew my shopping consists of buying bath products from Lush and candles from Kitson haha), eat Pinkberry, watch people get tickets from cops (seriously, at least two people had cop drama across the street from where we ate lunch) and cruise around downtown. The dress was really comfy and even when I accidentally spilled water all over myself I wasn't bummed. Life rules when you are wearing something you love!

Sewing fail

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It is so hard to sit down and write about a completed garment when you're just not feelin it. I have had this outfit done for weeks, but the thought of blogging about it, ughhhh! Don't get me wrong, the patterns and fabrics I used were great, my sewing is what messed everything up.

The third look for Project Sewn was "Going Global." My original plan was to do a red, black, and yellow look to symbolize Germany, a country I would one day like to visit. As you can see, the skirt is black, the top is yellow, but where is the red? I had been planning on making a red bolero or blazer, but once I got eliminated I said, "fuck it" because it's getting too warm for an extra layer and I already have three or four red sweaters.


Let's start with the positives. The top is the Scout pattern by Grainline which I have sewn a couple of times now, but never with lace and underlining. In fact, I had never sewn lace or underlining at all until this project, so a familiar pattern was a great way to start. I bought the fabric online from Hart's in Santa Cruz. Side note: this was my first time ordering fabric from them online and it was great. I love that there is an option to order matching thread for whatever fabric you buy.


Man, underlining is a lot of work, I had no idea. Scout doesn't have many pattern pieces, but all the hand basting was time consuming for sure. My eleven year old neighbor convinced me that I needed to start watching Switched at Birth, so I vegged out on that while doing hand sewing. In the end though, I am happy with how the shirt turned out. I like the nude fabric peeking through the yellow lace. I'd like to make another version of this with black lace.


Here's the failure, the skirt. First, let me make it clear, I am not bashing Sewaholic's Gabriola pattern, all issues were with me being a total dumb and screwing things up. Caroline lead a great sew along on the Sewaholic blog, but if you're acting like a drunk and start serging stuff with the wrong seam allowance on a waistband yoke then you're going to have problems. Long story short, my waistband ended up bigger than the skirt, so I gathered the fabric to fit and it looks sloppy. And the zipper looks bad. And I messed up on the buttonhole. And the hem sucks. And I should have made a smaller size.

Technically this is a wearable muslin, so I just need to GOI (get over it), move on with my life, and try the pattern at a later date, because let's get real, it's a super cute skirt.

Have any of you had an epic sewing fail lately?

Los Angeles Sewist Meetup

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Man, oh, man. What a day! This past Saturday was the long awaited Los Angeles Sewist Meetup at The Fabric Store and it did not fail to disappoint.

My day started at 5:30 am when I woke up and got ready. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get there with traffic and everything. Luckily there was not any traffic at all, which made me happy because I had never driven myself to LA. Those freeways are an anxiety attack waiting to happen! Thankfully, I made it to Cafe Midi in one piece :)




The turnout was great! Over 40 ladies met up for lunch. It's pretty awesome to have that many people talk about sewing and fabric all in one place. After eating we walked a few doors down to The Fabric Store. They were so generous and kind and allowed us to do our fabric and pattern swap there. Everyone dumped all of their unwanted items on a table and grabbed something new. Such an awesome way to change up your stash or get rid of it!



 Colette PatternsSewaholicThread TheoryLolita PatternsBy Hand London, Deer and DoeSkinny Bitch Curvy Chick, and The Fabric Store all donated giveaway prizes, which were total hits! It was so awesome to see companies that we all know and love make our day more special. THANK YOU so much to these generous businesses.

Jill pulled names out of a bag to determine who the winners were.

Angie and I. She came all the way from Arizona!

The next hour or so was spent with all of us fabric shopping and chatting. I kind of understand how brides supposedly feel on their wedding day, so many people to talk to and not enough time! There were so many people that I wish I could have spent more time with, but hopefully I will get to make up for it at the next meetup! Yes, there is talk of making this an annual or biannual thing if there is enough interest.




I was ECSTATIC to meet Bethany. It's such a small world, but we know two of the same people, so I knew that we would get along well. She's so beautiful, inside and out, just as I expected. Marrie B was another person I could not wait to meet. I have been following her blog for years and "met" her when I was doing the Sew Colette thing. If she would let me move into her new sewing studio I probably would.

Trice and Amity.


And of course I was happy to spend the day with Melissa, my partner in crime and real life buddy! I am always so grateful that the Colette Patterns Laurel sewing challenge brought us together. We have become better friends over the year and I'm not sure what I would do without her.

AmityTriceTanyaAmyLaurieKathyJill AmyBethanyDianeStephanie, April, MelissaAngieKarin, Nancy, Kaoru, Marie, Pam, Sarah, AleahLoren DPamieMarrie BLeahNhiJulianne, Natalie C, Sandra, Adrienne, Jo M, Sarahh J, and Mary, thanks for hanging out with me! XO

A green Belcarra

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When Caroline announced that Sewaholic was doing a competition for their latest pattern, the Belcarra, I knew I was in. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a sewing competition! I had already planned on making the top (I've been on a major top sewing kick this year), but this was the perfect motivation to get it completed sooner.


I chose to sew version two which meant I had to use a lawn fabric (instead of the voile that was recommended for the other two versions) to make sure the tuck details would show up and stay crisp. Two yards of this pretty lawn from Michael Levine did the trick!

The sewing portion was straightforward, however, I did have to reference Caroline's sew along post when it came to the tucks. Tucks aren't something I regularly sew, so the refresher was nice to see in photos. I do like having the detail on the sleeves, but I almost like the reverse ("wrong") side better and will probably do the tucks that way for my next version.

And just an FYI, I don't know what my problem is, but I always have trouble attaching cuffs and setting in sleeves (I didn't set in sleeves on this top, I just wanted to throw that out there). There is always some kind of puckering action going on, but by now I know that I need to baste everything first. And then probably rip it out and baste again. And again. I've been debating if I angered someone and they put some kind of setting-in-sleeves curse on me or something.


Isn't the vintage scarf in my hair cool? It's very special to me because it was a gift from Rochelle! If I remember correctly, it used to belong to her aunt, her aunt gave it to Rochelle, and Rochelle gave it to me. I love wearing scarves in my hair and this treasure gets worn the most.

Are there any other sewing competitions/challenges going on that I should know about? Do any of you have any tips or tricks for attaching cuffs and setting in sleeves or am I just doomed?

Thread Theory Strathcona

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Look, look, look! More unselfish sewing, it's a miracle! My husband went out of town last weekend for a bachelor trip (Giants baseball game) in San Francisco, so I thought I would have a gift for him upon his return. Originally, I had very ambitious goals for lots of sewing projects, but then I saw that season two of Orange is the New Black came out and that changed my plans a bit. I had to find out what Crazy Eyes was up to!


The pattern above is the Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory, but since the shirt I made isn't a henley I feel weird calling it that, so Strathcona it is. Months ago Thread Theory had a sale and I loaded up on three of their stylish men's sewing patterns and have been waiting for the moment when I felt unselfish enough to sew something for Luke :)

Twin needle success!

This is the first thing I have made for my husband and initially I was worried that I would have to make adjustments and wouldn't know where to start. He works out a lot and I didn't want to have make muscle adjustments for his arms haha. Luckily, the Strathcona is the perfect pattern to test the waters of sewing menswear. Have you sewn a Renfrew? If so, then you totally have the skills to sew this up too!


The directions were very clear and straightforward for this basic shirt, which I am hoping is a good indication of the rest of the patterns. I added the cuff and band options and am happy with the outcome/wearable muslin. The directions warned that the cuffs might be long and the length might need to be adjusted, but they could actually be a bit longer in this case.

He has trouble taking serious photos :)

One of the best parts about making something for Luke was shopping together at The Fabric Store in Los Angeles. I almost want to say that he enjoyed the process of picking out fabric he knew he would be wearing.

Have any of you sewn a Thread Theory pattern? I kind of bought the Newcastle Cardigan for myself...

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Also a quick note to the ladies going to the LA meet up this weekend: remember to bring quarters for the parking meters, cash (not a credit/debit card) for lunch, fabric and patterns to swap (if you want to), and get ready for some fun! Colette Patterns, Sewaholic, Thread Theory, Lolita Patterns, By Hand London, Deer and Doe, Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick, and The Fabric Store have all donated something as a giveaway prize. Are you crossing your fingers that you win something? I know I am :)