Monday, April 23, 2012

I Set Fire... To the Rayon

 Hey guys. you know what my fabric crush is right now? Rayon.
Say it with me now: Rrrrraaaayyyooonnn. 
Mmm, makes you think of luscious drapey soft lightweight amazing stuff, huh? 

I feel like it's been getting more popular lately as I've seen it pop up more in stores. 
Usually all I find are tiny floral prints that break my heart because I want so badly to love them for their drape, but I can't bear to look at them. They're like a girl with a great bod and 
horrible, oompa-loompa orange skin.
 It breaks the deal.

When I do find a print I like at bargain prices, I have to snatch it up. There's almost none in my stash since it's a fairly new discovery for me. I was gushing about it at Hancock's today, and the superchipper salesgirl told me about a horror story washing hers, and how you defs have to handwash it or you wind up with a shrinky, weird mess. 

I was scared, guys. Was my dream fabric more fragile than I could bear? I'm used to cotton. Turn that iron on high and GO BABY.

So, I took my honey home ($2/yd is a cheap date) and performed kinky experiments on a swatch.
I washed it in the sink, scrubbed it with regular hand soap, and ran hot tap water over it. I wrang it out, balled it up, and tried to tear it. Then, I ironed it dry like a bad girl. 
(I need to know if my partners are committed, okay?)


No apparent loss is color. 

The piece doesn't seem to have shrunk substantially or in a weird way, 
but I didn't outline it first to check.

While wet, the piece could be balled up super small, and seemed really fragile. 
It's really not a very substantial fabric.

 It was easy to tear into strips (and even made the cool noise they use in movies when people rip off their clothes). While dry, I couldn't tear it in any direction. Go to your rayon for emergency band-aids, folks.

It ironed well from wet to dry on the synthetic setting with no burning or melting.

The only difference I could tell after washing is a slightly lighter feel and different drape. But that's common after washing a lot of fabrics.

Rayon is the fabric for me!

I love you, baby.

Oh, and the answer to yesterday's mystery!

 This chickadee is wearing my Rorschach fabric, that I got at Hancock's for a steal, and still have three yards of! I technically have enough to rip off this dress, which might feel pretty cool. On the other hand, I don't think it takes full advantage of the drapes on this pattern; it just doesn't have enough body. Plus, it's slinkier than a snake. Just saying.

I feel so cool that some big wig sample seamstress chose my fabric for a pattern cover! It'll live on forever, and maybe my grandbabies will look back at catalogs and say, "Wow, Grandma, this vintage dress such pretty fabric!" And then everyone will know what great taste I have/had. Because I'll definitely be in chunky knit sweaters by then.

Special thanks to Marianna for all her awesome guesses!

Peace and Love, Everyone.
-Hannah Jean

Sunday, April 22, 2012


So, I'm leafing through the McCall's catalog thinking, hmm... What patterns here are worth a dollar?

And I found one that was worth a million!

Take a look:

 Take a good, hard look. Think deep into your brain... Why is this pattern so special? 
First one to guess it wins brownie points.

In other news, here are the masks a friend and I made for the masquerade ball. We were the only one who made our own and peeps were pretty impressed! 

Note to self: Next time don't use a plastic mask as you dance your heart out. Your. Face. Sweats.

Lots of Love,
Hannah Jean

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Dotty Blue Blouse

So, I'm kind of a cheapskate. I mean, really. 

I went to Joann's a few days ago for their super special daffodil dash sale. If you spend $50 this week you get 30% off next week. I spent $50.92 and most of that was $1 McCall's patterns and red tag fabrics at half price (and if I guessed the amount of fabric left on the bolt without going over, I saved a few more sheckles there, too.) Also, I pick up pennies.

Unfortunately, I cannot wrangle my inner Scrooge down, even if I want desperately to support awesome independent companies like Colette. I cannot pay $15 for a pattern I will ultimately alter until it bears no semblance to its original form.

But, you know, I do like the look of that Colette Taffy blouse.
So, what does a tightwad seamstress do?

Ladies and gentleman (my BF reads this, for sure), I present to you The Dotty Blue Blouse, which may or may not have been inspired by a similar item with a delicious name.

I'm either a pin-up or being arrested. Or both.

 No, there was no second cameraman.

See that black band that finishes the neck? I could not find anything in my stash that would work for a sheer neckline. It was driving me crazy. I decided to go to to dollar store and pick up some masks (going to a masquerade ball, more on that later!) when I stopped in the hair section and saw these headbands.

Pffft, who would buy that?
 It's just a bunch of fold over elast- HOLY CATS!

My neck is covered with pieced dollar store headbands. Don't hate.

For the shots, I just tied a lace ribbon around the middle to give some definition. 
Otherwise, I get this:

Okay, guys, let's play "find the waist." Whoever gets it loses 20 pounds!

Unfortunately, I probably won't be keeping this one. I bought this mesh a few years ago and I've gotten a lot better at choosing quality fabrics in the meantime. This one feels scratchy on my skin and that drives me a little crazy, no matter how many cute little dots are on it.

Till next time, chicas!

-Hannah Jean

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pinwheel You Look at That

Guys, guys. Guys! I'm ridiculously happy with this dress. 
I even made a cool little logo for the post. You see that? 
I should pin it or something.

It's made with this completely awesome knit that 
I almost didn't cut into. It's thick, it's opaque, it's in teal, and it doesn't fray or curl at all. I was like, NO! This stuff is amazing! I need to make something for me.

But the thought of my little three year old 
niece shivering in the cold for lack of an awesome pinwheel 
dress persuaded me. Also, it took like half a yard, 
so there are still leftovers for yours truly.

I put three pinwheels on it with one of those fat quarter rolls 
with all the coordinated fabric. Seriously, what can you do with those things? The fabrics are so cute but the pieces are minute! I might have to make some kind of tiny gored skirt with the rest. 

One of my favorite parts of this dress was 
the ribbon belt. I was having trouble making the belt just right, when I realized:
 one color of ribbon was not enough. But, forces combined, two ribbons created a 
I am dead serious, that three year old niece came up to my boyfriend and said, 
"Look how pretty my bow is!"

Pictured: World Record Holder for Best Aunt

Yeah guys, put pinwheels on your dresses and sew some ribbons together. You will not regret it. (Found the pinwheel tutorial here. For the belt, center thin ribbon on wide 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Storing Patterns

So, I have a lot of vintage patterns.
Well, technically, they're my mom's patterns from when she used to sew, mostly in the 70's.
 (Genetic inclination?)

She worked at a fabric store. When a pattern went out of print, the stores were supposed to send back the envelopes to prove they weren't selling them anymore. This saved postage charges and waste.
It also meant the guts of the pattern, the important part, were conveniently taken from the garbage pile by workers thrown away.

So, forty years later, I have buckets of sewing patterns for women's wear, mostly in sizes 12-14, but no envelopes. The things float around my pattern box, all weak and vulnerable and cute, like puppies. Puppies with no skin.

So, I took a clue from Burda and wrapped those suckers in zip-locs. I only had the jumbo size, so I taped the bottom and one size to fold over in the back. Perfect fit.

I also did this with a few patterns which had seen better days, or where I had a hard time shoving the pattern pieces neatly back into the envelope. (Pretty much any pattern I touched before age 18)

Moral of the story? Use zip-locs, get happy patterns. 
Put some skin on those poor puppies, amirite?

-Hannah Jean

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Let the pretty dress distract your wonderful eyes

Lovely people.

I wasn't gone, I swear. I was in Holland.

You may say, "Hey! I know Holland! They have internet there!"

Yes, yes they do. But no cardreaders, apparently. And tourists there prefer to spend time with their tall Dutch boyfriends. So I have some catch-up to do with all of you!

Today's dress:
When this little girl grows up and wants to be a 
pretty pink princess flapper ballerina, she'll be all set.

 This fabric will make her feel ethereal.

Add wings and baby. BAM. Angel.

The fabric was a super-thin, incredibly soft baby pink knit.
 It had fine lines of thread making stripes every inch or so, and one more thing: SEQUINS. 
Every baby needs a little sparkle. Some clear, plastic sparkle.

This is how the dress would look if said baby could fly.

I used a baby onesie pattern and cut it off before it made the underwear deal, and then got inspiration from Melly Sews's super awesome tutorial for the skirt. I made 14 squares and edged them with satin ribbon, then sewed them in two tiers for a flappericious flippy skirt. 

I also added a nice, deep neckline in the back.

Babies don't have to worry about bras, right? 
They just have huge heads that need to fit into their garments somehow.

The fabric was so fine, I had to sew some of the seams with tissue paper underneath to keep my feeddogs from ingesting the stuff and making a really wonky zig-zag. Hungry little beasts.

At this point, I was really hoping the dress wouldn't
 turn out like a toilet seat cover.

At the end, I added a cute little medallion for interest. Yoyo + shank button + ribbon.

It's like a cuteness award.

I do have to add, as a tip for the future, that I initially lined the bodice with nude, but I was unhappy with the way it made the color look dingy. In the end, I lined it with self fabric and I got  a much purer, brighter looking color. The only trick was lining up the stripes, which I wasn't totally successful at, but whatever. Babies have incredibly low standards for that kind of thing.

-Hannah Jean

Link parties:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Life of Crime Dress

Me, about to hang

They told me I looked like an old hippie get-up. I told them that three year old they were sending me off to would never appreciate my mod-ish charm. I forged my own way, my own pattern, and no one can say I'm a suit.

They compared me to my mother, crooked and wrinkled. An old, tired style. I tried to show them how she got straightened out. She sure got the iron hard.

I said, "Look at me from the inside! I can be beautiful and pressed! I can stretch  to accommodate the biggest of heads, even yours!"

But words will never work for a yuppie, friends. 
I'll spend my time behind bars.

Linked to:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The French (Seam) Dress

                                      Une fois, j'ai fait une robe.
                                                         Once, I made a dress.

     Il y avait des coutures à l'intérieur. 
          It had French seams on the inside.

Et de jolies
 choses bizarres comme 
des boutons de coeur  et entrées de serrure et d'un corsage 
doublé.  Parce que les bébés petits apprécient ce genre de chose. Je vous assure.
    And silly, pretty things like heart buttons and keyholes and a lined bodice. 
Because little babies appreciate that sort of thing. 
I assure you.

                              Il avait la dentelle et des rubans               It had lace and layers
                                      et des couches abruptes,                       and sheer ribbons,
                                  l'image de la haute couture.             the picture of haute couture.

   Et une grosse fleur
             pour cacher son visage au cas où elle ne voit rien laid. Parfait.
           And a big flower to hide her face in case she sees anything ugly. 

Linked to:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Quilt, Continued!

Due to a request on my last quilt post, I'm uploading some pictures of the quilt stars, close-up.

Before being pieced together, lying on the floor. Wondering, "When will I feel complete?"

This shot is a little grainy, but it most clearly shows the voids they had in their existence. Also, what it would look like if Princess Tiana played Portal.

Those squiggles remind me of pink electricity. What do you think they are?

Here are some of the dress blossoms, opening up to expose their beauty. Ladies, don't try this at home.

And, here's what the fabric looked like before I chopped it up.This is two panels pieced together. That's right you can't see the seam, that's the point. Owned.

 <3 Hannah Jean

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beware, Navel-Gazers

my bellybutton is covered. (By some awesome little shorts)

 Possible captions: I know not what I do.

I stopped by a fabric store on the way to my parents' house, and found a slinky little number. It was satiny, it was drapey, and the print was playing with my mind.

 Possibly designed by Rorschach himself

I had extra time after buying the goods, so I stopped by a thrift store to look at patterns. I decided to kidnap this one and 12 of its closest friends for 10(!) cents apiece.

I liked it because of the tap pants, or French knickers as the pattern likes to call them. Because, you know, how often do you get to say "knickers" stateside? Fun word.

Unfortunately, when I came home and started cutting out said French knickers, the Rorschach fabric was severely misbehaving. It wiggled so much that the task of "accurate cutting and marking" became about as achievable as "carve scale model of internet". Things didn't get any easier when I tried to press the hem. It took 3 episodes of Star Trek to press and sew those down by hand. By the time I got to the gusset, I was sick of it. So, I went to the dollar store and bought my new hero.

You are my shining starch

I sprayed that stuff down and made it stiff as a board. I re-cut my gusset, pressed my waistband in half, and ranted to myself about why they wouldn't mention that in the instructions somewhere. You know, like right next to "Suggested Fabrics: lightweight silks and satins" how about, "but starch the crap out of them first or you'll be doomed"

  This is the kind of picture I get when I ask for "no clutter in the background"

I lengthened the leg a few inches to make it less underwear and more sleepwear. Though, I might wear them over tights in the spring if I'm feeling adventurous. I also took out a few inches from center front and back when the pieces grew from being cut on the bias (starch would have saved me). When I was nearly done, I tried them on and decided the back needed some serious re-shaping to get rid of weird poofage. Diaper shorts just aren't sexy, friends.

In retrospect, I should have added more fabric to the inner thigh than the outer thigh. Next time, folks.

Have a great day!

-Hannah Jean

Link Party:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Little Quilter That Could

My Masterpiece!

Don't be mislead. I am not a quilter. But you know, I have quilted. Because sometimes the call of quick, easy, gratifying projects that won't make you stay up late ripping out seams that were  a millimeter off, or trying to decide whether the next few months of your life should really dedicated to piecing tiny scraps cut out of fabric that was perfectly good to begin with is just no longer alluring.

Supplies.  Not pictured: patience and meticulous precision

"But, Hannah," you say. "Quilting is artistic expression!  
A huge canvas on which to display your talents!" 

Yes, I know. But have you see those pieced stars, twirling around,
taunting me with their copious amounts seams? 
All singing this in unison:

"Oh match us up, Hannah! It's totally worth the extra 8 episodes of Doctor Who!"

Do you know what I told them?


And then I wrapped their little bottoms up in a sheet and ribbon and called it a day.

(Want to make a cool quilt like this? Pick up this book. The pictures alone are worth the price, and I'm usually way too cheap to buy crafty books.)

Linked to:

UPDATE: For more pictures, visit this post