Curtain dress


Another attempt to use up some of the mountain of fabric scraps taking over my mom’s house. The top of this dress was a sample strip of curtain fabric which my mom considered for her living room. If she actually had curtains that looked like this, I think I’d feel weird about wearing a dress made out of them, but since she settled on a different fabric, I thought it would make a pretty top. The piece was a very long, 10″ wide strip. I didn’t cut out pieces, just added darts until one end of the strip was roughly me-shaped and cut off the rest. The skirt and trim are a silvery velvet from no-one-knows-where. The dress closes with a side zipper and is hemmed with single fold bias tape, which made for a very easy tidy hem on this thick fabric.


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Corduroy skirt


This was the first in a series of projects designed to use up some of the closet full of fabric scraps at my mom’s. There were three pieces of this stretchy corduroy: One was large enough to make the back of a skirt, and the other two I pieced together to make the front. I flipped the lower piece around so the fuzz of the corduroy runs up instead of down, which changes the color slightly and emphasizes the center seam. The skirt has darts in back for shaping and a 1/4″ elastic waistband. I hemmed the bottom with a zig zag stitch, and should have done the top stitching the same way – the straight stitch I used means the center seam puckers a little. But other than that I’m very happy with this skirt.

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Circle skirt tutorial

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I just love circle skirts. Wearing this one makes me want to spend the whole day twirling. This skirt is so straight forward I feel weird about writing a tutorial for it at all. But it could make a nice first drafting pattern for someone, and there are some useful tricks to know when making a circle skirt.

Note: this pattern is written for 1/2″ seam allowances.

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You’ll need two measurements: your waist and the length of the skirt. Measure around your body where you want the top of the skirt to be: this is the waist measurement. Then measure down from this point to 1″ bellow where you want the hem of the skirt to fall: this is the skirt length. The waistband will be made from a rectangle 3″ wide and as long as your waist measurement + 1 1/2 inches. The skirt is made from two identical semi-circular pieces. Before we draft this pattern piece, you should know that it will have negative ease at the waist. This means you will cut out a piece that is smaller than you are. Not to worry! Because parts of the circle will be cut along the bias and therefore stretchy you’ll still fit into it. And it means that the flare of the circle will start off ever so slightly lower which stops the skirt from puffing out right under the waistband and is a more flattering look. Now, for the pattern. Subtract an inch or two from your waist measurement. I used 1″ here. You’ll want a bit more for lighter-weight fabric and larger pattern sizes. Draw a semi-circular curve half as long as your reduced waist measurement. At each edge draw a line down to the skirt length. To draw in the hem, move the measuring tape along the waist curve, keeping it perpendicular to the waist and mark several points along the edge of the skirt. Draw a semi-circular curve connecting these points. Your pattern piece is done. Use it to cut out two identical skirt pieces. If you want pockets, cut pieces for those as well (I used a lighter weight fabric for this).

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If you’re doing in-seam pockets, sew them to the side seams of the skirt.

Sew up the side seams of the skirt, leaving 10″ unsewn at the top of the right side. Sew in a 12″ invisible zipper in these top 10″. Fold the waistband in half with the right sides facing in. Sew up both short ends. On one side sew in 1″ along remaining raw edge. Turn right side out and press flat. Next, sew the waistband to the skirt: press under 3/8″ on the front of the waistband, sew the back of the waistband to the skirt beginning and ending at the zipper, then top-stitch down the front of the waistband. Make a buttonhole in the 1″ flap at the opening of the waistband and sew a button to the opposite side.


The right thing to do now is to hang your unhemmed skirt for a couple of days to let it settle. Because the grainlines are inconsistent through the skirt some parts will grow more than others. It’s not a huge change and it’s never bothered me, but if you’re a perfectionist, let it hang and recut the hem so it’s actually straight. Now you can hem it. Fold up and press 1/2″, then fold up and press another 1/2″ and sew it down. I do a lot of handsewn invisible hems, but I really don’t recommend it for a circle skirt unless you love hemming. It looks good and the weight of it is nice to twirl in, but it takes hours.


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Ranunculus Market Winter Collection







The day after Thanksgiving, Prima turned up at my door with a trunk full of beautiful winter clothing for a Ranunculus Market photo shoot. We drafted our friend Ariel as a second model, and ran around my neighborhood, snapping photos and ducking into cafes when our fingers started to go numb. I highly recommend checking out the full collection!

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First Snow Pullover


This is very late, but I have a pattern out over at Knitty. This sweater was inspired by my move to New York last year. I suddenly needed warmer clothes than I ever had before, but the winter is beautiful and worth being a little cold for.


This is a sweater for curling up on the couch with your sister and a mug of hot chocolate to watch the snow through the window. This is a sweater for cold Vermont mornings, helping your best friend move into her dream home, and wishing she could find the box with her quilts in it. This is not a sweater for actually going out in the snow without a coat on. That would be crazy.


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Country Mouse Gloves


I’ve said this before, but perhaps the best part of living somewhere with seasons is knitting winter clothes. I don’t really like the cold, but I do like turning soft, colorful wool into cozy gloves and hats. There’s a store in Sydney, Morris and Sons, that makes some of the most beautiful yarn in all my favorite colors. While I lived there I only ever bought the lace weight to make light scarves, but when I went back to Sydney in June I stocked up on Morris Empire in heavier weights (they do ship internationally, but it’s more fun to buy your yarn in person where you can see the colors and pet the yarn).


I wanted to make something simple that showed off the two colors. I went with a garter stitch button band, closed with a big tan button (which perfectly matches the coat I will wear them with when the weather gets cold enough!) and stockinette hands. I liked how they came out so well that I made a second, fingerless pair in Blue Skies Alpaca Metalico (photos to come) and wrote up the pattern. It’s available as a Ravelry download.


Last weekend David and I went out to the country, where it’s really autumn. It wasn’t quite cold enough for gloves, but I brought them along anyway because I’m excited about them (you know how it is with your most recent project) and took some pictures around the autumn leaves. Autumn makes me feel like I’m in a storybook – real trees can’t possibly be those colors.

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Sailor shorts

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I hardly ever use patterns – I’m not very good at adjusting them so I usually find it’s easier to make an entirely new pattern that fits right than to adapt one. But every once in a while I forget that. Most recently, I made these shorts for my sister Isabel’s birthday from Kwik Sew K3854 view B. As usual, I sort of wish I’d just made my own pattern. I made the smallest size, which according to the listed measurements should be much too small for Isabel, but ended up having to take it in quite a bit at the waist. This was somewhat difficult on the side seams because of the odd pocket construction. Why don’t the listed measurements describe the actual dimensions of the finished garment or a person who could wear it? Or at least come within three inches. I don’t understand how they can be so far off. But despite the challenges in making them, I’m very happy with the way they came out and so is Isabel.

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Bias tape seam binding


Bias tape is a wonderful way to finish an edge, particularly weirdly shaped edges that you can’t or don’t want to line. It gives a nice clean finish even along curves that are otherwise difficult to deal with. You can make bias tape from the fabric you’re using for something subtle or use a contrasting fabric to add a bit of interest. You can buy bias tape in solid colored cotton, but it’s easy to make yourself and if you do you can have so many lovely colors, patterns, and materials. Continue reading

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When I was working on my 1920s dress, I sketched several things that incorporated this skirt from Modern Pattern Design*. I didn’t end up using it, because the scallops didn’t suit the geometric embroidery on my fabric, but I still think it’s a fun design element – maybe someone else has a project for it. The diagram shows how to modify a straight skirt to introduce flounces. (This is probably obvious, but in the diagram cb labels the center back and cf the center front.) The diagram is a bit confusing, but the concept is simple: if you put a circle skirt into an uneven waistband, the fullness will be unevenly distributed, creating flounces.

* A wonderful 1942 pattern drafting book by Harriet Pepin. A copy is available online.

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Jazz age lawn party


On Sunday I went to the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island with Kristin and Ashley. It was quite fun to pretend we’d gone back in time, to sit on the grass with our picnic and listen to music, to dance a bit, and most of all to admire everyone’s outfits.


This dress was a quick project I made in Brattleboro while Prima was working. Another old sari, bias cut and designed around the decorative edging, with serger binding in red thread. I love the fabric and I had fun playing with the decoration. But something went a bit wrong with the center triangle. The embroidered pallu at the end of the sari was narrow, and I wanted a long thin triangle anyway, one that would extend from the v-neck to a dropped waist and be no wider than my hips. But I wanted the squares of the embroidery to line up, so the angle of the center panel changes after the first square, making weird little corners. Also, the central triangle turns out to be a sort of awkward shape anyway – if I did it again I would have the triangle extend all the way to the hem and give up on keeping the top square intact. But the embroidered sari fabric makes up for a lot and I do like a dropped waist. It may not be particularly flattering, but that’s not it’s purpose – it’s an exaggerated, playful style that’s more about having fun than about showing off your body. And we did have fun.


I also decorated my hat to match! I bought a cheap paper cloche from the hat guy on the corner, ripped off the hideous polyester band, made a new one from a bit of silk left over from my dress, and clipped it in place with a feathered hairpin.


Posted in Hats and hair, Sewing | 6 Comments