Sweet Insouciance

Books, Pies, Dresses and Thoughts

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I rarely ever test costume/dress ideas before I just throw myself in full throttle. But I figured since this is one of my crazier ides, I might want to try some different effects out first. And as long as I’m testing things, I might as well document the process too. So, here’s some really crappy cell phone pictures of various bits of in progress tests for the betta fish dress. 

The first is a gradient (ombre) dye of some silk crepe de-chine. This will be a panel of the skirt which is, theoretically, pleated and then painted with other dyes in the green/teal range more towards the hem. 

The photos below that are of my home-made sunburst according pleating pattern. This is probably one of the most TEDIOUS PROJECTS I’VE EVER WORKED ON. Hopefully it will be worth it. Theoretically I will use this pleating pattern to pleat the full length of the skirt panel by folding the fabric within the folds of the paper and then pressing it. I will also be painting dye onto the hem at this stage, in hopes of getting some cool (sort of shibori, though really I’m making it up off the top of my head) dyeing effects. 

The bottom two photos are of some smocking tests to see if I want to use any cool fabric texture manipulations. The sea-green one is done using a shell smocking pattern drawn on the half inch. Then I hand dyed it, and dried it by ironing flat, to get the mottled uneven look to the dye. The white one is testing a panel with the “dragon scale” smocking that’s been super popular ever since it was used in the Game of Thrones Daenerys blue tunic costume. 

Filed under silk ombre gradient dye smocking pleating betta fish in progress

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The Dress That Should Have Had Pockets

So I was making this lovely skirt out of some yellow striped silk, following the Colette Zinnia pattern. And because it is silk, I decided I’d do all the right things. I’d take my time, measure twice, pin everything, even put proper french seams in it. And I got so into “being good” that I completely and utterly forgot to put in the pockets. And that was one of the things I am always most excited about. Oh well, lesson learned, don’t pay so much attention to the little things that you forget the big things you wanted in the first place. 

Regardless, this skirt is wonderful, and I quite like how it turned out. The pattern is simple and easy to follow, and workable in many different fabric types. It has twelve pleats around the skirt, and an invisible zipper and button closer in the back. It can have pockets, if you remember to put them in. 

I also used some of the scraps to make a matching headband for myself. I never used to be in love with the color yellow, in my own clothing that is. But I’m really warming up to this sunshine not-quite-orange but not-quite-mustard definitely not pastel color of yellow. 

Filed under Colette zinnia silk yellow skirts colette zinnia

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Faux-nthropologie (okay, maybe that’s a stretch…)

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Get the Look:

So, I saw that beautiful tshirt with its elegant cutouts on pinterest, and I thought to myself “I could do that!” So I did. Then I thought to myself “I should share how I did this!” So I am. This is my present to all my faithful readers who are here at my 201st blog post. (Not really, actually, thats a complete coincidence. But still, 201! Holy crap.)

I made some minor modifications to the pattern for my own amusement which you can choose to follow, or not, as you will. I added a bit of flare in the back, and used a tutorial for petal sleeves. I also thickened the crosspieces, because the knit I was working with was pretty thin and I was worried that going too narrow would be just be difficult and annoying. That knit, by the way, I found at Joanns for $4/yd.

Feel free to go with your instincts, change things up, and make a shirt that YOU want to wear. 

For this tutorial, you’ll want to use a comfortable 4-way stretch knit, and contemplate using a serger, or double needle. You should also have a basic tshirt pattern that you’ve used before and know you like. (If you don’t have such a pattern already, I highly recommend this Deer-and-Doe pattern. Its free, simple to follow, and looks great on everyone!.) I used bias-tape made of the same fabric to finish all the edges in my shirt, but that’s not necessary. If you want, you can simply use a fold-over hem. This site has some great tutorials on a variety of ways to finish knit hems.

So, to make this shirt you’re going to want to modify the back pattern piece of a generic tshirt pattern. The front and sleeves will stay exactly the same. I’m going to use some pretty impressively crappy paint sketches to illustrate my points.

Trace the back pattern piece out on some large sheets of paper. If your pattern is a piece that is “cut on the fold” flip it over so that you have a full piece, exactly like the piece of fabric you *would* be cutting out for the back. Find and mark the center line of the piece.

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Then, on one “half” of the pattern piece start at the shoulder neckline and draw a dip and a line that crosses the center line, and goes all the way to the opposite shoulder. Starting off parallel to that line, but a few inches lower (how much lower is up to you, that will determine the width of the crosspieces) draw another line that that crosses the centerline, and then curves back towards it to end in the middle of your back. If those words made absolutely no sense, as I suspect is the case, just look at this image:

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If you want a more flared effect like my brown shirt, continue the line diagonally to end somewhere on the other half of the shirt pattern. If you want a straighter/tighter back to your shirt, just follow the centerline straight down. 

This is your NEW back piece. You’re going to want to cut out two of them (but mirrored, obviously.)

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Next, I would recommend finishing the lower edge of the cutout and crosspiece on BOTH back pieces in whatever way you choose. It’ll be easier to do it now than later. I’ve highlighted the edge I’m talking about in purple below:

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Then sew the shoulder seams together. You’ll end up with a funny kind-of T-shaped thing, with the crosspieces of each back pointed toward the center. 

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Next, you’ll want to finish the edges of the neckline and the top side of each crosspiece. 

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After that, you’ll want to sew up the seam in the center back. Go only as far as the bottom of the cutout curve. Also go ahead and put the sleeves on, or if you’re doing a tanktop finish the edges of the armholes.

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Then, you’ll want to sew up the side seams. Go from the edges of the sleeves, all the way through the armpit (making sure to match the sleeve seams) and down the shirt to the bottom hem. Finish the bottom hem in whatever way you see fit. 

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Finally, you’ll want to attach the crosspieces to the inside of their OPPOSITE shoulder seam. You might want to put it on and play with their placing for a couple of minutes. The angle at which you end up sewing them can make a difference. 

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And you should end up with something that looks sort of like this:

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This whole concept is also pretty easy to tweak and customize and get creative with. As I mention, I also added some petal sleeves. (I used this tutorial).

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You can also cut different shapes, or even do multiple crosspieces.

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I haven’t been brave enough to try more than two crosspieces on each side yet, but I think you could end up with an incredibly complex and beautiful pattern. 

Or instead of the leaf-like oval cut-out at the bottom, I think it’d be pretty easy to make a shape more like a heart, or go with super straight lines and make a triangle. The possibilities are endless!

If you want to see some higher resolution shots of the shirts I made, check out these posts

Feel free to share your success and even your failures with me! I’m curious to see if anyone else has any luck with this.

Filed under tshirt anthropologie tutorials

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Yep, I’m having fun with cut-outs and tshirts. Here’s another one!

I tweaked the pattern for this one to have a double cut-out effect and the woven strips. It looks a bit like a celtic-knot to me, which I love.

Its also hard to tell in the bright light, but I top-stitched it with neon green. I like the contrast between that and the black and white. Its a lot of fun!

Filed under anthropologie tshirt stripes

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Remember that Anthropolgie tshirt I mentioned I was lusting over, and then attempted to copy? Yep, I did another. 

I took what I learned from the first test tanktop and created a shirt thats a little dressier and more “finished.” I found a soft brown knit at Joanns (on sale for 4$ a yard!).

I used a scoop neckline and added a little more flare to the back. The sleeves I added are “petal sleeves,” and consist of two layers that overlap to create sort of a tulip effect. I got huge compliments on them, they look fantastic when worn. 

This shirt was a huge success, and I’ll probably do several more. Also, expect an upcoming tutorial on how I did this surprisingly easy but attractive tshirt.

Filed under anthropologie tshirt

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So we got new desks at spoonflower recently. They come with little planters in the dividers between consecutive desks. Obviously they don’t have drainage holes, so anything that requires a lot of water isn’t a good idea. However, I’m hoping that I can keep some succulents alive for awhile. 

Also, check out the one on the far right (of the second picture.) Yep, that’s a venus fly trap. Killing off bugs digital and physical, where ever I go.

Filed under spoonflower succulent venus fly trap desk

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Pretty Painted Dress

I believe I may have mentioned how much I love the effect of watercolor prints on fabric. This is one of my favorites. Wearing it makes me feel like I’ve rolled around on an artist’s palette. The design is by HeyTangerine, and you can find it here

The pattern is Peony by Colette. I altered it slightly to lengthen the sleeves and add fullness to the skirt. The original was a woven fabric, and had a zipper up the back. But I’m a big fan of comfort and laziness, as you know. By simply removing the zipper and using a 4-way stretch I can pull this dress on over my head. 

The belt is a separate detachable piece, and is reversible if I want a different color effect. 

Also, it has POCKETS! Damn straight. 

The fabric is my still ever-favorite Spoonflower Modern Jersey.

Filed under spoonflower modern jersey watercolor Colette Peony dresses

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I wanted to make curtains for the full length, west-facing windows in my corner of the office. (The sun is rather dramatically bright, and I have to stare at a computer screen all day. It doesn’t work out after 2pm.)
I’m one of those weird people that like rainy days, and I loved the thought of having curtains that echo that overcast peaceful rainy-day feeling. I’ll be able to pull these closed and think “Go away sun, give me rain!”
I also love the way watercolor painting print on our fabric; the texture and color and detail is just so wonderful, it looks like someone has painted directly on the fabric. I’ve been meaning to play around with making my own watercolor designs for a while, and this rainy-curtains project seemed like the perfect time!
I absolutely love the way these clouds turned out. You will definitely be seeing them again. 
I kept the texture of the watercolor paper, and put in some some of my favorite quotes about rain. (Authors include E.E. Cummings, Shakespeare, Rabindranath Tagore and many many others.)
If you, too, would like a set of rainy day curtains, you can find them on spoonflower: I Woke the the Sound of Rain. NOTE: the trick is you have to set it to 3yards to see the full image.

I wanted to make curtains for the full length, west-facing windows in my corner of the office. (The sun is rather dramatically bright, and I have to stare at a computer screen all day. It doesn’t work out after 2pm.)

I’m one of those weird people that like rainy days, and I loved the thought of having curtains that echo that overcast peaceful rainy-day feeling. I’ll be able to pull these closed and think “Go away sun, give me rain!”

I also love the way watercolor painting print on our fabric; the texture and color and detail is just so wonderful, it looks like someone has painted directly on the fabric. I’ve been meaning to play around with making my own watercolor designs for a while, and this rainy-curtains project seemed like the perfect time!

I absolutely love the way these clouds turned out. You will definitely be seeing them again. 

I kept the texture of the watercolor paper, and put in some some of my favorite quotes about rain. (Authors include E.E. Cummings, Shakespeare, Rabindranath Tagore and many many others.)

If you, too, would like a set of rainy day curtains, you can find them on spoonflower: I Woke the the Sound of Rain. NOTE: the trick is you have to set it to 3yards to see the full image.

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Filed under rain clouds watercolor words fabric spoonflower