2016 and a Word of the Year for 2017


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Over the last couple of years, I’ve invested time in coming up with a word for the upcoming year, rather than a wish list of things I want to accomplish. You can see recent words here.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. My kids are at a new school and they love their teachers and have met some great people. They continue to develop new projects, including a board game in the style of chutes & ladders.

I became an auntie to Isabella, my older sister’s daughter. I witnessed the birth of my friend, Aynie’s, son, who I post about as “my ginger baby”. I love that baby and his family so hard it hurts sometimes.

I’ve made some amazing gowns for some amazing brides and their mothers…and I, eventually, became my own boss! It was a scary, yet amazing, change, and while it’s still sort of new I’m still loving the freedom.

Once again, to borrow from Instagram, here’s my best of for ya!


Our planet had a huge number of shocking celebrity deaths and some serious political unrest…but we’ve also seen some amazing things happen.

Like the rest of the world, I’ve had my own ups and downs, some harsher than others, but in the end I’d like to think that I’ve come out a much better person from it all. I can’t say that freelance work is easy, but when have I ever wanted anything that was easy? I appreciate the friends and clients I’ve had this last year and the ones that have booked me for next year (and one bride for 2018!).

Last year, my word of the year was Collaboration. I did a lot of that in 2016! I met a bunch of people and got to work with some new favorites. For 2017, I have a huge list of things I want to get better at…like jackets and pants, so you’ll see a lot of those. Welt pockets are another thing I want to perfect.

My word for 2017 is:


I don’t entirely know how this word will work thru the year, but that’s the beauty of this whole “word of the year” thing. For me, it started with Brooke and her awesome blog and IG feed. Brooke has been an inspiration but also a support over this year and I have to tip my hat to her for all her costume help this year!

So…besides knowing that I want to focus….what does that mean?

I’ll be focusing on my small business, my personal sewing goals to get better at the small details, and I want to focus on balancing my business and personal life. I don’t want to get so lost in building a business that I forget to build my life. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot in 2017!

I wish everyone a happy end of 2016 and enjoy all your dreams for 2017!!


Recent projects- a collection



So…I might have a sequin problem…and a vest problem…or maybe we can avoid calling them problems and just enjoy these projects. The only one that was for me (for now, at least…it IS a sample) is the mustard yellow wool vest. It’s so nice and provides just enough warmth for what I need indoors.

I also wanted to update you on my freelance life. The majority of you know that a month ago, I went rogue. I quit my job at the dress shop and decided to work for myself. It’s been going well, or as one would expect. It’s not perfect, and I could use more clients, but over all, for the first month, I couldn’t be happier to be doing this. I’m learning a lot about boundaries with clients, how to balance life and work, and how to keep my finances afloat.

I wouldn’t be here without all the craziness I’ve had to deal with in the last 3 years and the saying that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is so true in my case.

I’ve added a link to my Facebook page in case you want to see more of what I’ve been working on! Go check it out and have a great holiday season! Enjoy the sparkles and the thigh slits and all that’s magical in the world!

Custom Super Girl Cosplay


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Earlier this year, I was contacted by a bride I worked with who wanted me to make her a Super Girl costume. I have a love/hate relationship with accuracy. Sometimes, it keeps me from actually getting anything done. But other times, when you find the perfect shade of every color to match the inspiration, it works beautifully. This was the case for Sahara Cole’s costume.

She sent me this picture:

Sahara Cole Supergirl inspiration

I had one fitting but since I had fit her for her wedding dress I felt confident going for it. The first time fitting someone is always the hardest, even with the 20+ measurements I like to take.

My client was going to provide the wig, belt, and boots. Everything else was up to me. She also sent me another photo of the cape with the same yellow trim so I added that as well. The one tricky part to this costume is adding the S emblem into the bodice.

After some online digging, I found this awesome tutorial on how to sew the S into the bodice. I’m not sure which was more time consuming, the S or the trim on the cape. Not an incredibly difficult build, but like I always say, it’s all time consuming.

One of the best parts about working for cosplayers is that they tend to know some amazing photographers.

Sahara Cole Supergirl brightSahara Cole Supergirl cape 2Sahara Cole SupergirlSahara Cole Supergirl bright 2

The boy gets a blazer: It’s finished!


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I finished the boy’s blazer. We switched from the poly wool version to this silk/hemp one after he tried on my byhandLondon blazer and loved the fabric.

The cut is really boxy and my boy is rather slender. I took out way too much for the wool version I started and for this one I left all the width but made it a size longer. Not complaining about the Blank Slate Basic Blazer. More like I was lazy and the boy was really eager to have a new blazer.

I finished the whole thing by machine for speed sake. I created a back stay and interfaced the fronts as well as the facings with knit interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. I wanted the blazer to be slouchy but still have some added stability.

Construction wise, I sandwiched the collar between the outer and lining layers, attached the sleeves at the wrist and then came in from the blazer hem, still open, and attached the sleeve heads to the body of the lining. I did a French hem via the opening I left in the body of the lining and then closed it up.

I’d like to find another pattern (or maybe this is the point where I just draft one) for the boy. Suggestions are welcome. The blazer isn’t perfect but he’s happy with it.

Next up, a jacket for moi.

by hand London Victoria Blazer and Leila mixes prints


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I’m slowly jumping on the by hand London love bandwagon and what a wagon! Don’t know if you remember my Hawaiian Holly Jumpsuit! I can’t wait for warmer weather so I can wear that thing into the ground. I’ve made two pairs of trousers with the Holly jumpsuit pants pattern and they’re so delish! I might make some changes to the back crotch- hello no butticcus.

Today I’m here to show you my silk/hemp Victoria Blazer. I must have been blind or something because I forgot the collar pieces. Ha! I still wear it and love it but what an oversight! I still show you the jacket because, really, even some mistakes are manageable. Honestly, this would be something simple to unpick and attach the collar to. If I do that, I’ll post to IG. My point is: Not all mistakes are the end of the world.

I made it out of a blue silk/hemp fabric from work and the lining is a stretch silk watercolor print of yumminess.

The nice thing about a boxy, cropped jacket is that you’re really just focusing on the back and shoulder fit. Of course, you do want to make sure that the length works with your body proportions and this one really did work for me! I did make this what seems like ages ago but I haven’t worn it much because of cold weather restraints. When I took these pictures, it was 60 degrees! That’s crazy for February in Indiana but hey, I’m not complaining.

Who else is longing for warmer weather??

Spring Trend: Sleepwear as Daywear


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I can’t tell you how much I can get behind this trend of wearing pajamas during the day and calling them day wear. Gucci, Alexander Wang, Roberto Cavalli- you have my attention! Check out this article written by sleepwear designer, Francesca Ruffini for Vogue Paris!


Mostly, I’ve seen daywear pajamas made in silk and the prints are as bold as they come! I just bought the Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas pdf pattern and I can’t wait to make them up to wear out DURING THE DAY and nod my head in that rock ‘n roll kinda way, all the while thinking, hell yeah, this is daywear.

I’m considering making them in this kelly green and midnight blue mod looking silk twill we just got at work. I’d add a self tie and a blue piping. Oh yeah. (It’s the one in the middle.) Oh, but an animal print pair would be amazing, too!


I feel the same way I felt when I had shirt dress fever a couple of years back. This is all I can think about!!

Also, I am so in love with MILLY in general and Roberto Cavalli. I honestly didn’t know I had designer favorites. This realization does make me acknowledge how much thoughtful cutting makes a design a design, rather than my homemade dress or what-have-you. I may be slow noticing this but the more I make garments for other people, the more I see very basic patterns being the desire done up in gorgeous silks and laces.

Anyone else noticing this? Are you ready to wear pajamas as daywear? Come on! You know you wanna! Ok, back to sewing. So much to stitch up and so little time. Enjoy your sewing time!

The boy gets a jacket: Part Deux


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Here’s the Blank Slate jacket after the first fitting. I took in the sleeves to a six for width but left the length at the size 8, shortened the back and narrowed the neck to a size 6, and raised the armholes 2 inches which I’ll have to lower by about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch.

I had the boy try on the jacket with a sweater underneath. I’m liking the fit this way better. I’m going to add patch pockets instead of the welts.

Other than that, we’re good to go forward. We stopped in the dress shop and picked out a couple of linings.

The teal is a stretch charmeuse:


And then this striped poly lining


I think he wants the teal for his jacket so maybe I’ll use the stripe for the girl’s jacket when her number comes up.

Also got one button for the front closure. Yeah, I’m changing things up a tiny bit because the button the boy liked was so big. Here it is on the grid for size and next to the fabric we’re using for his jacket. It’s something I bought from Fabric Mart last year or the year before. Don’t ask what it is. All I can say is that it’s soft.


What do you think of the fit? Anything I’m not noticing? He wasn’t feeling great when I took these pictures and felt warm inside with the jacket so I didn’t get a chance to close the fronts. Should I worry?

The boy gets a jacket


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A couple of years ago, I made my little guy the Oliver + S Secret Agent Trench. That was 3 years ago, and he still wears it!

Secret Agent Trench

This photo was from the summer. You can see that the sleeves are too short- an easy alteration if I wanted to add knit cuffs or something! Anyway, he loves his trench and wears the things I make him a lot, so of course, I am always excited to make him clothes.

I started on a new blazer for him- the Blank Slate patterns Basic Blazer. I did a muslin because I want to focus on fit and the blazers I’ve seen with this pattern all seem to be baggy.


I took up the back hem by pinching out the back length.

I need to raise the underarm seam by 2 inches. I’m not going for lab coat.

I’m bringing in the shoulder where I tucked and later pinned it as the shoulders were too wide. (I’m starting to think I should’ve gone down a size.)

I’m also moving the pockets up- I marked the new placement with chalk during the fitting.

I need to fix the sleeve width- he’s swimming in it- but I have to have him try it on with a long sleeved top first.

I’ll probably be shortening the length at the hem but for now we’re leaving it as is. I do want for the blazer to last him a bit- seeing that the trench was such a hit!


The boy would not be still for the fitting so there’s a bit of just-go-for-itness that I’ll be employing. Good thing he’s cute and blood related.

Next I’ll be cutting a jacket for the girl and then one for myself. We’re all getting tailored jackets this Spring!

Anyone else crazy enough to muslin clothes for kids? Please tell me I’m not alone!

Jungle January Bolero… with the help of Iconic Patterns


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First of all, how in the world is it already the end of Jungle January!?! I had so many plans, like every year I’ve participated. Last year I made up on a bunch of jungley clothes and barely posted them to IG! I was hoping to make more this year but c’est la vie!

Let’s get to the real meat of this post. Did you guys see Lena, of Iconic Patterns, post her gorgeous bolero on IG? Here’s hers:

beaded lace bolero

Absolutely gorgeous! Totally the kind of thing I’d make for a client at work, for sure!

The other day when we were on twitter for a #fabricchat revival (we’re trying- next chat is on Feb. 4th at 7pm EST), we were talking about jackets and Lena mentioned she liked drafting but didn’t enjoy writing instructions. That’s when I chimed in that I’d love to work with her to get more of her awesome patterns out into the sewing world! We’ve spoken since and while we’re not ready to make any promises, we do want to at least put out this bolero pattern!! Yes! #collaborationftw

I wanted to make up the bolero in a different fabric to see how it took. I chose this animal print twill I have in my stash. Everything is better in animal print! It looks different than Lena’s gorgeous, lux silk organza and beaded lace version, but I had to! I tells ya. I had to!

I made no alterations to the size 10 but for the next one, I’ll probably do some hollow chest/narrow shoulder adjustments in the front for bewbs sake. I do like the fit and I think it’ll be really fun to wear once things warm up in these parts. I used a wide horsehair braid as an experiment to interface the collar. Lena calls it my Dracula collar. I accept!

Next is my non-apology for asking my kids what they thought of the bolero. My son said it looked like I was a cowgirl and I needed a hat and a horse to ride. He also made me a toy gun for fighting off people as I cross the land. Basically, we had fun. (Photos by Juli)

More to come on getting your hands on this bolero pattern from Iconic Patterns!

Frustrated…and thoughts on being self-taught


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Working in bridal is a mixed bag for me. Most days I have clients coming in telling me and my boss how happy they are with the alterations and custom garments we make for them. What sadly sticks out are the people who come in demanding the moon. On one hand, I wish I could remind them that stressing your seamstress out is not going to produce great results. On the other, I get really frustrated and my confidence gets shot and I tend to blame the fact that I’m a self-taught stitcher.

As some of you know, my degree is in theater and post-modern dance. I took one costuming class and to be honest, the lighting class was more interesting to me at the time. I put my time in the costume shop but the scene shop with all the power tools made my heart sing.

Clients tend to want to know of my credentials. No. I don’t have a degree in fashion design. No. I didn’t start sewing for Barbie when I was a little girl. No. I haven’t always wanted to do what I’m doing right now. I started fitting and sewing garments 9 years ago, if that. After a lot of frustration, I got hooked. I liked the challenge and buying store bought for the postpartum body I had at the time was downright depressing.

I kept doing it.

I kept learning.

It got more and more interesting.

I liked the math.

I liked helping others get a clean fit.

Fast forward and all of a sudden, I found myself interviewing at the dress shop I work at now, clutching my handmade garments. The best of my work for my soon-to-be-boss to carefully inspect as I sweat the things I wish I had done different. I had a corset, a Victorian jacket, a lined dress. She knew I didn’t have formal training but she was impressed. Finally some validation! Validation from someone who had a fancy degree from FIT in New York. Someone who had worked with big names I even knew about.

So, when clients come in and don’t know how to sew and criticize my sewing, I shouldn’t let it bother me. But it bothers me. I should be better. Their garments should be perfect. The fit should be perfect. That’s my thing! Fit is my thing!

But sometimes it’s not perfect. And they zero in on the imperfections. The imperfections my hands have created. My self-taught hands. My measly, single mom-ish hands. The doubt sets in.

I don’t think these clients know how deeply I’m hurt when they belittle my work. Constructive criticism I can handle! Please! It’s not easy to swallow all the time but I want to keep learning and perfecting my craft. Fine tune me! It’s the rougher clients, the harsh clients, who don’t hear the way their own voices sound that burn.

Being self-taught, this means I have no day off. I don’t take a break. If I’m not called in to work, I still put in an 8-12 hour day. I fine tune myself.

For the rest of the year, I’m fine tuning my jackets. I’ll be making the Blank Slate Patterns Basic Blazer for my 7 year old son, the Blaverry Decklyn Jacket for my 9 year old daughter, and several fitted jackets for myself, with muslins for all three of us! Yes, even my kids.

I checked out a couple of Kenneth D. King videos from the library on fitting the upper torso and fitting jackets and I’m going to be studying those while I do my fittings.

I will not let the set backs of mean clients keep me from learning, sewing for myself or for others. I want to learn how to deal with people like this better but for now I’m an employee hiding out in the back.