More Culottes! - McCall's 6965 Refashioned from a Skirt

July 31, 2014

When I moved from my mom's house into the house I'm living in now, a lot of my clothes and stuff ended up in big black trash bags. Coincidentally, so did some of my mom's old clothes that were headed to Goodwill, and by some stoke of luck a bag containing her old clothes and this skirt ended up with me:
McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion - before by Hey, It's SJ I know you're probably thinking it was a stroke of BAD luck that made me the owner of this seriously dated number, and you can tell by the look on my face in that picture that I knew I had some work to do. BUT THAT FABRIC! I immediately fell in love with the print, and it's a rayon challis so it has a lovely drape and feel. However, the elastic waistband, drop waist, and midi-length were not doing it any favors. No worries, I knew I could make it into something fabulous that I would actually wear. Enter McCall's 6965.
McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion - front by Hey, It's SJIt's no secret that I have a major clothes crush on culottes, and when I spotted this pattern in McCall's spring pattern line, I knew that skirt was destined to become a pair of cute and trendy culottes. First, I needed to deconstruct the skirt to see how much fabric I had to work with. It's hard to tell in the before pic, but the skirt is actually pleated along the drop waist so there was a bit more fabric hiding there. It had one front panel and two back panels with a center back seam (not sure why since it had an elastic waist??), so after I unpicked all the seams I had one larger panel, two smaller panels, and that whole elastic/drop waist thingy. I didn't take a picture of this step (boo) but the larger panel was about 30 x 30 inches and the two smaller panels were about 20 x 30 inches each.
McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion- side by Hey, It's SJ The front and back princess seams on the McCall's pattern meant smaller pattern pieces that were easier to fit onto the smaller pieces of fabric, and I had just enough fabric to cut out all of the pieces including the waistband. I folded the larger piece in half and cut the side front and side back pieces from it, then placed the two smaller pieces wrong sides together and cut the front, back, and waistband with almost nothing left over. I didn't have nearly enough fabric to even attempt to pattern match, but with this print the seams and zipper pretty much disappear anyway.
McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion - back by Hey, It's SJ The pattern directions were easy to follow, and since it is one of their Palmer/Pletsch patterns there are a bunch of tips for fixing fit issues and making pattern alterations. I sewed view B in a straight size 14 with no alterations (ironically not using any of those fit tips). I think this size actually sits a little lower on my waist that it is "supposed to" but it's very comfortable. And I'm going to go ahead and say what everyone is thinking: they are SHORT. If they actually sat on my waist where they were supposed to then they would be TOO short. I like short shorts so this length is fine for me, but if/when I make this pattern again I will probably add at least an inch to the hem, mostly for more butt coverage when I sit down.
McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion - close up front by Hey, It's SJ McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion - close up side by Hey, It's SJ McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion - close up back by Hey, It's SJ As far as construction goes, I used french seams on all the seams except the center seam with the zipper. I really do wish french seams and zippers could learn to resolve their differences (haha), but in the meantime I finished that seam by simply folding under the seam allowance and stitching it in place. I followed the directions in the pattern for a standard lapped zipper, but next time I will probably use an invisible one. The zipper is far from my best, but again the print on this fabric is super forgiving so I didn't stress it too much. The pattern recommends a blind hem, but I used a 1/4 inch double fold hem. The blind hem just seemed like a lot of work for a fabric that you can't even see the hem stitching anyway.
McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion - with LuLu by Hey, It's SJ Of course I had to steal a picture with little Lu.
McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion - side 1 by Hey, It's SJ Even with all the french seams this pattern sewed up pretty quickly, and I was able to succesfully take that dated skirt and make it into a modern pair of culottes that are now one of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe! And one of my favorite parts of this project? The price! Since I got the pattern at Hancock Fabrics during one of their $1.99 sales, the zipper during one of their 50% off notions sales, and I had thread and black interfacing on hand, it only cost me about $3!!
McCall's 6965 Skirt to Culottes Refashion - collage by Hey, It's SJ I'm entering this project as part of the Summer 2014 Shorts on the Line Sewalong. Be sure to vote for my project, and all of your favorites, on Kollabora! Just click the little heart icon on the right hand side of the page to vote.

I made a bathing suit!

July 28, 2014

Ya'll, I have a couple of confessions. Confession #1: I have had this suit finished since the middle of June, and I am just now getting around to blogging about it. Confession #2: I haven't blogged about it because I hadn't taken pictures. I even finished it in time for a short beach trip, brought it with me to take pictures, and then never even wore it! I know, it seems stupid to make a bathing suit and then not wear it, but we were only down there for a couple of days and I wanted to soak up as much sun and relaxation as I could (at least that's my excuse). Confession #3: It was really awkward for me to take these pictures of myself, in this bathing suit, in my yard, in the middle of a cow field, so there are only a few pictures and please don't make fun of me!

As far as the suit goes, I used the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern by Closet Case Files. The pattern came in Perfect Pattern Parcel #3 and is my second make from this bundle (fourth if you count each of the three pairs of Prefontaine shorts I've finished). I don't really have a lot to say about the pattern that hasn't already been said by one of the MANY bloggers who have conquered it, but here are some of my notes/thoughts...
Bombshell Bathing Suit - front 1 by Hey, It's SJ
--I sewed view B in a straight size 10 with no alterations. I did add some bra cups for modesty. Their purpose is mostly coverage and they don't really provide any support. Still, besides my really expensive bra-sized swimwear, I feel more secure in this suit than any of the others I own.

--I barely looked at the pattern instructions while sewing. Instead, I just followed along with the sew-a-long on Heather's blog. She has detailed instructions for each view and lovely pictures to illustrate each step.
Bombshell Bathing Suit - back by Hey, It's SJ
--SO. MUCH. GATHERING. The gathering really is what makes this suit and it is super flattering, but it was one of the most time consuming parts of making the suit. It's not difficult, it just takes a while, so be prepared if you are planning to make it.

--The design of the suit is very clever, especially the front panel that is actually separate from the crotch (see below). In fact, the suit could actually be made sans-ruching by leaving off the front panel and using the back lining pieces for the main suit as well, which I think would also be really cute!
Bombshell Bathing Suit - flat by Hey, It's SJ --There has to be a way to finish inside seams so they aren't exposed. I don't have a serger so my seams are less attractive than they could be, but even if I did I still think I would prefer encased seams of some sort. I might ponder on this and try to come up with something, and of course I will let you know if/when I do.
Bombshell Bathing Suit - side by Hey, It's SJ --I purchased both the fabric and lining from my local Hancock Fabrics. Another confession: I'm not in love with the color. I let my sister talk me into it, and while I don't hate it, I really think I've should have gone with a hot pink or royal blue, or even more boring classic black. Oh well, that just means I will have to make another one!
Bombshell Bathing Suit - front 2 by Hey, It's SJ --I think the most challenging part of making the suit was actually just working with the fabric. Again, I don't have a serger but my regular machine behaves pretty well with knits. I always just work a little slower and when I feel myself start to get frustrated, I take a break and come back to it later. Patience is definitely the name of the game.

Overall, I really like this pattern! This is officially the only one-piece suit I own, and I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it when I decided to make it. But it is so comfortable and I feel so secure in it, I think it will be great for more active days at the river or beach without having to worry about "accidents."

If anyone has any good bikini recommendations for someone with a small band/large cup I would love to hear them! I don't know if I feel comfortable making major alterations to a pattern so I've been looking for something that will pretty much fit "out of the envelope" and support is always a major issue. I ran across this bra-turned bikini pattern from ohhhlulu that I think could have some potential, but I'm still searching and any suggestions would be much appreciated!

I have too many clothes.

July 24, 2014

Closet Cleanse - main heading by Hey, It's SJ Closet Cleanse - the back story by Hey, It's SJ
I guess I've always had a lot of clothes. Growing up, my mom loved to shop. I can still remember her dragging us to department stores, me and my sister throwing fits after we got bored of looking at the toys and clothes in our size. Her love of shopping definitely wore off on me, and once I started working, most (if not all) of the money I made was spent on clothes. I worked at Old Navy in high school and part of college, so I was constantly surrounded by clothes. Being at the mall on a regular basis with money in my pocket (and an employee discount) exponentially added to the size of my wardrobe. I was also no stranger to retail therapy; especially when I was in college and 6 hours away from my family, a trip to Target or the mall was the quickest way to cheer me up. After I left college and moved back home, I worked at an upscale lingerie boutique. I was no longer working at the mall (just across the street from it), but I still spent a good portion of my income on bras (that actually fit and were totally worth it) and cute clothes that were within the dressy casual dress code. Then I started working at the bank, and my shopping habits COMPLETELY changed. There was no mall within a 10 mile radius of my branch, but because my wardrobe was severely lacking in professional business wear, I was still buying new clothes. I did show a little restraint and told myself I wasn't going to buy anything that I couldn't wear to work. After an initial splurge because I was pretty much starting from nothing, I noticed my trips to the mall and clothes purchases start to dwindle. Maybe going to the mall was inconvenient and I didn't have as much time because I was working 40 hours a week, maybe shopping wasn't as fun because my options were much more limited, maybe not having an employee discount helped deter my spending. All of those factors probably contributed to the fact that now I only buy a couple new pieces each season, and I only go to the mall maybe once every 6 months. I pretty strictly stuck to my vow to only buy clothes I can wear to work (and the couple things I have bought that I couldn't are still hanging in my closet with the tags on, go figure!). Still, I can't fit all my sweaters, jeans and t-shirts into my dresser. I'm running out of hangers to hang my dresses, skirts, and tops in my closet. And I have stacks of clothes on my floor that I have no home for. 5 years ago, if you had told me I had too many clothes, I would have vehemently disagreed with you. Yes, I had a lot, but I needed all of them and I wore most of them. But today, I am finally admitting it: I have too many clothes.
Closet Cleanse - Better Homes and Gardens excerpt by Hey, It's SJ
Words of Wisdom from the Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book, published in 1961, from page 293.
Funny how some things never change.

Closet Cleanse - assessing the situation by Hey, It's SJ
At the end of March of this year, I quit my full time job at the bank. I am working part-time as an administrative assistant, and now that I have some extra time, I have been putting a lot more effort into learning to sew my own clothes. I sewed a few (ill-fitting) dresses when I was in high school, but my sewing since has been primarily bags, pillows, curtains, and even a bed skirt. But I truly believe nothing is more satisfying than making my own clothes. It would take a lot more than just a blog post to explain all my reasonings behind this statement, but this post pretty much sums it up. The last thing I want to do is invest time and effort into sewing a piece of clothing only to have it hang in my closet unworn, so making my own clothes has really forced me to examine my wardrobe and assess what types of clothes I already have, what types of clothes I have but don't wear, and any holes (things I don't have but want/need). I have found that all of my clothes can fit into one of these 6 categories:

1. Things I love and wear over and over: This one is pretty self-explanatory. These are the clothes I reach for every time they are clean and I would wear everyday if I could. They spend more time in the hamper than on the hanger because it is never long after I do laundry that they get worn.

2. Things I don't love but still wear on a regular basis: These are the clothes I wear because they are practical and/or comfortable and flattering, but I don't love them because of the color, pattern, or some other reason.

3. Things I like but don't wear because of fit issues or they need minor alterations: This one is also pretty self-explanatory. I like these clothes, but they are missing buttons, have small repairable holes, or minor fit issues, so they just hang in my closet, teasing me every time I get dressed.

4. Things I would wear, but only for certain occasions: For me these are mostly "dressing up" and "going out" clothes. They are a bit more risqué and/or formal than what I wear normally, but I hang on to them "just in case."

5. Things I never wear (and would never wear) but can't seem to get rid of: These are clothes that are no longer my "style" or are damaged beyond repair, but I am for some reason or another emotionally attached to the item and haven't been able to donate or throw it away. This also includes the few items I have that no longer fit (too big/small).

6. Things that I have ideas for "refashioning," but haven't taken the time to do so yet: These are items that I look at and see a way that I can make them better and more wearable, but they just sit neglected in a pile on my floor while I work on new and more exciting things.
Closet Cleanse - Reader's Digest excerpt by Hey, It's SJ
Great advice from Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, published in 1976, from page 50

Closet Cleanse - plan of action by Hey, It's SJ
In order to help me make more conscious decisions about what I decide to sew (and also what I decide to wear), I have come up with this game plan for cleaning and de-cluttering my closet:

Purge. I found this really great guide for a wardrobe detox on into-mind that includes everything I want to accomplish with this step. This should take care of #5, the stuff that has just been taking up space. I know this will be easier said than done because a lot of it will be overcoming emotional obstacles, but I'm going into it with the mindset of the more stuff I get rid of, the more room I have to make things I love. I also want to get rid of about 75% of #4 during the detox.

Fix and Mend. Once I have gotten rid of everything that I see as having no potential for fitting into my new and improved wardrobe, I'm going to conquer #3. Either I am going to sit down and fix whatever issue is keeping me from wearing it, or I am going to get rid of it. I'm thinking about taking this pile of clothes and dedicating one day to tackling it. I mean, it takes like 10 minutes to sew on a button, and I would rather just knock it all out in one day than let it lay around for weeks(months?years?) longer.

Recreate. Once I have all the easy fixes out of the way, I can focus on #6 and the things that are going to take a little bit more time to get them into rotation in my wardrobe. Realistically, this step will probably be an ongoing effort, since I will always rather reuse something I have than go out and buy something new (which is good for both my wallet and the environment). There are a few projects, though, that I know I want to tackle right away.

Create. The first three steps are all just paving the way for this, my most favorite one. Once I have the rest of the categories under control, I can focus on making more of the things I love to wear (items in #1) and filling in any holes. I also want to look at #2, and figure out why I wear it even though I don't love it, and what I can do to make it something I love or replace it with something I love.

I realize this isn't going to be a one and done process, and I will have to go back and repeat some steps from time to time. I think having it all laid out like this gives me a good starting point and a way to keep myself accountable. Plus, having a plan means I won't have to stop and think about my next move: more momentum = more likely it will actually get done and I can reclaim my closet/dresser/floor full of clothes!

Closet Cleanse - further reading by Hey, It's SJ
If you're looking for some inspiration to tackle your overflowing closet or for building a wardrobe you love, I've listed some resources that inspired me to tackle my out of control wardrobe, as well as some food for thought on the state of fashion today.

The Wardrobe Architect - This excellent 14 part blog series will help you get down to the roots of your personal style and build a capsule wardrobe of clothes you will actually wear. Just skimming through Sarai's posts got me thinking about what it is that makes my favorite clothes my favorites and ways I can make my wardrobe more versatile with less pieces.

into-mind - This amazing website is dedicated entirely to "personal style, minimalism, and the perfect wardrobe." Along with the detox I mentioned earlier, this post about building a capsule wardrobe is a must read. I could spend hours on this site, there is just SO MUCH excellent information.

The Outbox - While not directly wardrobe related, I love this idea for setting up an outbox from Apartment Therapy's January Cure series. In fact, this whole series is awesome and who knows, after I'm done with my closet I might start to tackle the rest of the house!

A Considered Wardrobe - Maddie wrote this wonderful piece about fashion and sewing, and how much thought and consideration goes into building a wardrobe you love. Make sure you check out the rest of her blog, Madalynne, while you are there. Everything she does is just lovely.

Fast Fashion and Fast Sewing - I found this other short piece by Maddie extremely thought-provoking. I have so much to say about this topic, but I'll just let you read it and draw your own conclusions.

Overdressed - I ordered this book from Amazon last week and I CAN NOT WAIT for it to get here (I bought it used, so yay! environment, not yay for no Prime 2-day shipping). I read the first chapter with the little preview thing and I already know I am going to love it. Just reading the description makes me rethink my perspective on some of the "affordable" items in my wardrobe.

I know I've touched on a ton of different topics today, what are your thoughts about fashion, sewing, or wardrobe planning? Any tips or tricks for de-cluttering or organizing closets? I'd love to hear about them!

Patriotic Prefontaines

July 3, 2014

I have really been feeling the American pride this week. Between the big soccer game on Tuesday and Fourth of July weekend coming up, I feel like all I see and think about is red, white, and blue (not that I am complaining). However, my one pair of American flag shorts just wasn’t going to cut it for this week full of patriotism. I thought some stars and stripes would perfectly complement Made with Moxie’s Prefontaine Shorts for Women pattern, and I think I was right!
Patriotic American Flag Prefontaine Shorts - front by Hey, It's SJ Plain and simple: I love this pattern. These are actually the third pair I’ve made; I’m still working on posts for the first two put you can check out pictures of them on Instagram. The star fabric is Michael Miller “Star Struck” and the stripe is a “1 Inch Stripe” from Riley Blake (I got both from Both are quilting weight cottons, and I think they look fabulous together if I do say so myself.
Patriotic American Flag Prefontaine Shorts - back by Hey, It's SJ I decided to keep the inseam on this pair a little longer than the first two pairs I made and shortened the longer inseam from the pattern by about an inch. To do this I cut along shortening line number one printed on the pattern. Then I measured up one inch from the cut line on the main pattern piece and drew a line. I then cut along shortening line number two on the pattern pieces and aligned the curved corner piece with the line I just drew and the pattern sizing lines. I took the piece with the crotch seam and aligned it along the line I drew. The crotch seam line didn’t align perfectly, but I just eyeballed it and redrew the curve and it turned out fine. I did have about a quarter inch gap between the two pieces that I just filled in with more paper, no biggie. I really like this length; it isn’t too long but still feels modest.
Patriotic American Flag Prefontaine Shorts side close up by Hey, It's SJ I left the front pockets off of this pair, partly for the sake of time and partly because I like the prints not being broken up by the binding on the pocket. If I was really adventurous I could have finished the pockets with a regular lining instead of the bias tape and lined up the prints so the pockets essentially became invisible. But I didn’t, and I still love how they turned out.
Patriotic American Flag Prefontaine Shorts - front close up by Hey, It's SJ I did keep the back pocket for functionality’s sake. I mean, it is designed to perfectly fit my iPhone so it’s genius and I love it. Instead of trimming the top of the pocket with the white bias tape I used on the rest of the shorts, I just took a scrap of the striped fabric and sewed/folded it so that only the red was showing. I cut the two pocket pieces from scraps of a white sheet that I used for another project, and the white bias tape is store bought (again to save time and because I was too lazy to make my own).
Patriotic American Flag Prefontaine Shorts - pocket close up by Hey, It's SJ Patriotic American Flag Prefontaine Shorts - back close up by Hey, It's SJ I used French seams on all of the inside seams, and since I don’t have a serger I just finished the raw edges of the pocket pieces and side seams with a zig-zag stitch. I used the exposed sport waistband on these and the other two pairs I made because I think it looks more professional and RTW-esque, and it is super easy! It might take a little longer than an encased waistband because you have to sew at least 4 lines of stitching, but I think the end result is totally worth it.
Patriotic American Flag Prefontaine Shorts - inside waistband close up by Hey, It's SJ Patriotic American Flag Prefontaine Shorts - front flat by Hey, It's SJ Now, I have to admit I am a little superstitious and I wore them on Tuesday for the US Men’s World Cup game against Belgium, and because we lost I think they might be bad luck. So I won’t be wearing them for any World Cup games in 2018, but I definitely plan on rocking them at least once this weekend and throughout the rest of the summer!
Patriotic American Flag Prefontaine Shorts - side by Hey, It's SJ Have you made any festive new frocks for the Fourth? Where do you plan on wearing them? I think a trip to the river and/or beach is on the agenda for me. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous here.

I hope you have a happy and safe holiday weekend!