Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Channeling Chanel | V7975

Chanel v2.0 FABulous boucle!

This time last year, the Chanel jacket v1.0 broke my heart. For the month of March 2011, I vowed to circle back, give it another try and get 'er done. I've had this fabric in my stash since March 2010. I bought it for a screamin' deal at the Sewing Expo in Puyallup, WA. I bought eleventy-hundred yards of it, tho, so there will probably be a lined dress and possibly even a skirt made out of this in the future. Chanel herself paired these sorts of matchy-matchy outfits, which looks elegant and timeless. These are pieces that will be in my "forever wardrobe".

Many folks on have reviewed this jacket, so I'll keep my notes brief. On my visit to Las Vegas, NV in October 2009, I spent two hours in the Chanel store, picking the brain of an incredibly helpful sales gal. After leaving, I got out the sketchpad and made tons of notes on the details that I'd seen. Before embarking on the actual sewing, I also did a boatload of research in both coutoure and semi-coutoure jacket construction. I consulted Go Chanel or Go Home to see what others were doing, too. Ultimately, my construction methods were guided by two articles from Threads magazine: Threads #128: "Shortcuts to a Designer Jacket" by Cheri Dowd and Threads #121 "Inside a Designer Jacket" by Susan Khalje. I HIGHLY recommend both of these articles as they were incredibly informative and literally "held my hand" through the whole process. I made the fantastically scruffy trim using this tutorial. I also added the chain at the hem (SO important!) and two jacket hooks and eyes for closures (hidden by the trim).

Playing in my closet, I realized that this little jacket is incredibly versatile than I'd even known before I started making it. The boucle has at least 8 different colours to pair up with! Andy Paige from the TV show "Starting Over" and Style on a Shoestring always says that when you include a new piece in your wardrobe, it should be able to be paired with at least three things you already own. I really like this idea and will be making garments based on this philosophy in the future. Here's how I plan to mix up this jacket:

Polished with a skirt, heels and pearls.
Classy with a cool weather dress and boots.
Casual with jeans

Coco Chanel said that "Luxury must remain almost invisible but it must be felt." It's difficult to describe, but this jacket feels amazing to wear. I'm so hooked that I'm planning on making the next one from orange Linton tweed. (Karin! I think this might be your fabric, too!)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Week 4| MMMar'11

Almost There!

Monday, March 21: Dress of Many Colours
Ah, my technicolour dreamdress, how I love thee. This dress makes me SO happy, but it's too cold to wear alone this time of year. The purple cardi (a gift from my BFF) is the perfect topper!
  • Kalediscope dress: S2550
  • Necklace: Made by Me!
  • Purple Cardi: Gifted, Lane Bryant

Tuesday, March 22: My Life is a Tapestry
I made this jacket in the Fit for Real People pattern adjustment class I took at FabDepot two years ago. I'd always wanted a jacket made from home dec fabric, and I love the way it fits me so perfectly.

  • Jacket: S2858
  • Necklace: Made by me, based on this one from Sundance
  • Cuff Bracelet: Made by me
  • Trousers: CAbi
  • Tank: NY&Co.

Wednesday, March 23: Swirly Whirl Top
Boatneck tops are SO hard to get right and this one is no exception. I love a good boatneck, but I HATE how my brastraps can't stay hidden. One of my projects for spring is to make a wearable knit boatneck top that hides my straps, includes bust darts, and has enough shaping so that I don't look like a rectangle. Yikes! This top's headed for a refashion. Away foul top!
  • Groovie top: NL6838
  • Black Trousers: NY&Co. 

Thursday, March 3: A Case of Stripes Dress
This is probably my favourite dress that I made last year. It's flattering and comfortable and has some shape to it, It's too cold to wear it alone, so I've got a black wrap stashed in my purse.
  • Dress: V8553
  • Necklace: Altered by me from a necklace I bought in Italy
  • Obi: Purchased in Italy 

Friday, March 25: Purple People Eater Sweater
This is probably the coziest sweater I own. It's made from the purple alpaca I brought back from Italy. If I'm having a particularly blue day, I put it on and WHAMMO, the day is better. Who could ask for more?
  • Sweater: V8634
  • Jeans: Land's End 
  • Necklace: NY&Co.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Week 3 | MMMar'11

Monday, March 14: It's a Wrap!

This faux wrap dress is just like wearing your bathrobe to work! It's seriously comfortable!
  • Dress: M5974
  • Necklace: NY&Co.

Tuesday, March 15: Fit to be Tied

Everybody needs a draped cardi! I really like the versatility of this piece. I wear it a lot in the summer.
  • Cross top: NL6470
  • Cardigan: M5241
  • Black knit pants: CAbi
  • Necklace: Made by Me!

Wednesday, March 16: More Red Camouflage

This sweet top fit right into my evil plan to cover my little tummy. I added 6 extra inches of fabric to include rusching. Top it with a faux fur chubbie and pair with leopard heels...I'm on the prowl!
  • Red rusched top: KS3756
  • Black chubbie: Marshall's
  • Necklace: Made by me!
  • Grey Pinstripe Pants: CAbi

Thursday, March 17: Party Cardi

In Italy this fall, I saw a Dolce and Gabanna sweater COVERED in sequins and immediately fell in love. Who doesn't adore something sparkly? I happened to have a boatload of sequins in my stash, just waiting for a project, so I popped the pre-made cardi on the dressform and started sewing sequins! It took about 15 hours of hand sewing (eek!) but the results are really stellar. I refashioned the striped shirt underneath from a Goodwill find. I'll be wearing it a LOT this summer!
  • Sweater: NY&Co. (refashioned to add shaping and 3/4 length sleeves)
  • Strapless top: Goodwill (refashion)
  • Skirt: Kohl's

Friday, March 18: Refashioned Swote (Sweater Coat)
The last of the sweater surgeries! This longer sweater was fun to make with many leftovers from other sweaters. Only the green cotton cashmere (body) and red double ply cashmere (sleeves) sweaters were made of whole sweaters at the beginning of the project. The swote attaches in front with three really large snaps and goes with everything! Every time I wear it out, people want to touch it. That's kind of funny.
  • Swote: Made by me without a pattern
  • Necklace: Made by me!
  • Tank: NY&Co.
  • Jeans: Land's End

Monday, March 14, 2011

Go Gonzo for Garbanzos!

Yummy deliciousness!

I love little portable snacks. If they're salty, all the better. This little snack packs a nutritional punch AND keeps me from answering the siren call of our vending machine at work. It takes a little prep time, but in the end, you've got a snack that's about 150 calories for a 1/2 c. serving. Perfect! YUM!


  • 1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained or 2c. dry chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt (optional)
  • garlic salt (optional)
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Note: I used Johnny's Great Ceasar Garlic Spread and Seasoning, which is delicious!


If using dry beans: The night before baking, put chickpeas in a pot with water that covers them. Add 1T salt, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1T flour (I don't know the science behind this mixture, but it works! No one wants a half-cooked chickpea. Blargh!) 
Get water boiling and then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Rinse beans in colander and put back in pot with enough water to soak them in. Let sit overnight (10-12 hours)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them. Put in baking pan to dry roast for 30 minutes.
  3. Turn them every 10 minutes
  4. In the last 10 minutes of baking, add olive oil and spices. Watch your garbanzos carefully so that they don't burn.
  5. Try to let them cool before you eat them. SO delicious!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Week 2 | MMMar'11

Woo hoo for week 2!

Monday, March 7 : Here, Kitty, Kitty!
This leopard skirt was the first pencil skirt I made! This version is unlined and I wear it with EVERYTHING. It felt like a "red day", so I wore it with my favourite cardi. After shooting this pic, I put on different shoes. My Danskos look a little heavy with this skirt.
  • Pencil skirt: M6038
  • Necklace: Made by me
  • Cardi + Tank: NY&Co.
 Tuesday, March 8: Gold Digger Top
This tank was inspired by one I saw in Oprah's magazine a few years ago. After the tank is constructed, bias strips are attached in a swirly, haphazard pattern. Funnily enough, when I went to create this top, I found some gold sheer curtains in my stash and thought they'd be fun to use. After all, as we learned from Maria Von Trapp (and Carol Burnett), curtains are just fabric waiting to be clothes!

  • Square Neck Tank: NL6356
  • Chanel Jacket + Pants: CAbi
  • Necklace: Gift from my BFF
Wednesday, March 9: Red Red Wine (Camouflage)
Do you know Marcy Tilton? She designs some really fun clothes for Vogue. This is one of her fun long-sleeved tee shirts, to which I added about 6 extra inches in length and included rusching to camouflage my bit of a tummy. The fabric I used is a stretch mesh that I picked up at JoAnn's for about $2/yd. Can't beat the price on this stylish top!
  • Long sleeved tee: V8636
  • Necklace: NY&Co.
  • CAbi grey knit trousers
Thursday, March 10: A Dress for Any Event

This was my favourite dress I made all season. It's reversible and pairs so nicely with my black AND brown boots. It's been to a wedding, a funeral, a cocktail party, a holiday party and a house party. If this dress could talk, she'd have some AMAZING stories to share. I also made matching "fun"-dies, but I'm not showing them to you. :)

  • Reversible dress: M6069
  • Necklace + Belt: Purchased on my last trip to Italy

Friday, March 11: My Favourite Sweater Refashion
This fun tunic sweater is reversible, too! It's also made from two well-loved Target sweaters, the final scraps leftover from the alpaca I brought back from Italy, and a merino wool sweater I found for $2 at Goodwill (a charity shop I frequent). From the tunic length to the utter SOFTNESS of the fabrics, there's just so much to love about this sweater.
  • Sweater: Made by me without a pattern
  • Jeans: Gap
And in sewing news, I'm still working on my Jalie pants! Getting my tushie to look great seams to be the hang-up right now, but I'll make it work!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Michele's Wedding Hat

In which I become a Mad Hatter

My cousin, Michele, is getting married in a few months. Since I'm the "crafty cousin", she asked me to make her wedding hat. I took on the challenge! After months of research and chatting with Lori, a very helpful local hatter, I purchased some buckram, stretch velvet and trim from the fantastic and amazing FabDepot and got to work! I really like the results, and more importantly, so does Michele!

 The wedding hat was copied from this hat. It's a vintage piece that was created some time in the 1940s or early 1950s. The trim is hand-beaded.

Original hat: back
Original hat: right
Original hat: left
The new hat was created from a single layer of buckram that was cut to size and molded onto a styrofoam head with steam from my sputtery iron. It was dry and shaped in less than 20 minutes. I followed John Koch's instructions from "Threads" magazine (it was the January 2011 issue, I think). Altogether, this was about 60 hours of work, all hand-sewn with a tiny needle and silk thread. 

New hat: left
New hat: right
New hat: back. She'll tuck her veil under the ornamental circles.
A sweet surprise inside: Michele's "something blue".

Friday, March 4, 2011

Week 1 | MMMar'11

Let's do this thing!

 Tuesday, March 1 : Dressed to Thrill
This was the dress I wore to the opera in Rome this fall. Made of 100% polyester, you can wad it up in a corner of your suitcase and it shakes out to wear beautifully. It's also reversible with both a square and draped cowl neck options. I love this dress and plan to wear it more often when the weather gets warmer. It's sleeveless and needed a jacket, so what better than to add some Mrrrrow to the mix?
  • LBD travel dress (made for Italy trip, Sept. '10). M6069
  • Necklace: NY&Co, altered to fit my preferred neckline
  • Mrrrrrrow Jacket. S2858
 Wednesday, March 2: Mad for Plaid
I'm blessed to live down the street from the Pendleton Woolen Mill outlet and was minding my own beeswax in that store when this fabric reached out from the table, grabbed me by the hand and whispered, "You must take me home". Who was I to resist?

  • A-Line skirt: Self-drafted, based on a skirt I fell in love with from Nordstrom Rack
  • Necklace: Made by me, based on this one from Sundance
  • Cardi: Purchased on a trip to Spain
  • Tank: NY&Co.
 Thursday, March 3: Casual Comfort 
My friend Susan wore a similar top on our trip to Italy. Peacock is a universally flattering colour. Of course, I needed one, too!
  • Long sleeved cowl tee. V8634
  • Necklace: Made by me (The lime green pendant is double-sided, lending more versatility.)
  • CAbi grey knit trousers
 Friday, March 4: Mom's Favourite Sweater Surgery Project
Today is a very special day! It's "Sewing Expo" time in Puyallup! It'll be a whole day of inspirational and educational seminars from industry leaders like Sandra Betzina and Marcy Tilton. I'll also be attending fashion shows from McButtVogue and Simplicity. I may even get to meet this guy! I look forward to this event every year! The shopportunities ALONE make me a little giddy.

Last year, I was envious of the sewists who got to raise their hands when asked in seminars, "Who's wearing something they made?" This year, after much deliberation, I'm proudly wearing the sweater I finished recently. It's also my mom's favourite of the three I produced this season. :)
  • Sweater: Made by me without a pattern
  • Jeans + Turtleneck: Land's End 
In putting together clothing options for MMMar'11, I've realized that I've got a GAPING trouser-shaped hole in my wardrobe. I've attempted...and wadded three pair of trousers in the last two years. Currently, I'm on attempt #4 with the Jalie 2909 pattern, which has gotten great reviews on Wish me luck!