Glitter everywhere

Elsa progress
PAX registration madness happened last Wednesday and now I’m all piney and excited about an event that’s still five months away. To entertain myself in the meantime, I decided to get started on one of my PAX costumes!

Last year I wore this monstrosity and while it was super fun to get all dressed up, I was the only one in my group who was really dressed up (Boyfriend wore a Jayne hat) and I was about six feet wide. If you’ve ever been to a con (especially one as crowded as PAX gets), you’ll know this is not the best of ideas. Also not being able to sit down wasn’t so much fun. I think I lasted about two hours as Kaylee before we ran home for a quick nap and I changed into Clara. Much more mobile. I decided that this year I’d do one ridiculous costume day and one more mobile and toned down day. Except I have about seven costumes I want to make and I’m only going two days.

The other part of this (very rambly and probably uninteresting) story is that I hadn’t seen Frozen until about two weeks ago because I had so many projects going on and I knew I’d immediately want to drop all of them to make all of the Frozen costumes. The moral of the story is that I’ve given in to the sparkly and I started Elsa’s costume this week.


I’ve done some rough sketching and I’m thinking it’s either going to be a three piece outfit or a dress/cape and corset. There’ll be a mesh undershirt with the cape attached, a corset, and a slitted skirt. I haven’t decided whether it’ll be easier to have the skirt/mesh top attached or separate. So far I’ve started working on the corset using Butterick 4254. I added an inch to the length and cut a sharper V for the sweetheart neckline. I cut up some cotton twill curtains that I’m no longer using for the corset and I’m lining it with some rayon challis because it’s the only turquoise fabric I had lying around and it’s super soft.

Elsa progress

Anddd now I’m experiencing that awful twitchy feeling where you reaaaaally want to work on something but should probably wait for the rest of the materials before continuing. Right now I’m waiting for boning and lacing stuff but eight sheets of this stuff in turquoise (please be enough! *fingers crossed*) arrived yesterday and I’ve sort of succumbed to the glitter. I’m cutting the sheets into tiny rectangles and slightly bigger rectangles and then gluing them on to the corset with tacky glue. I’m trying to make them all different shapes so they don’t quite fit together and then gluing the tiny ones on top to fill in the gaps. So far so good! Except I can’t go anywhere near the bottom or the back edges because I haven’t inserted the boning, sewn on the bottom edging, or done the grommets for the lacing.



Marlborough bra

A few weeks ago Norma of Orange Lingerie released a pattern and my world exploded in a flurry of elastics and underwires. Ok, explosion might be an overstatement but I’ve made four in the past two weeks and I have plans for so many more. SO MANY.

Bra-making was something I’d always admired from afar. I figured it was something I could probably learn but I had no idea where to begin. Most of the sewing projects I do require matching thread and maybe a zipper, occasionally buttons. Easy peasy. You go to Sew Sassy’s website and they have 8000 kinds of elastic and they each come in ten different widths. I decided the simplest way to dive in was to just buy a kit.

Marlborough bra

I found an Etsy shop called Hooks & Wires that sold bra kits in all kinds of amazing colors for $18 and emailed the lady about two colors I was interested in. She only had a few kits listed but I checked her sold listings and she was happy to dye the ones I’d requested. Two weeks later I had two gorgeous kits in the mail, including everything I’d need for the Marlborough bra (I checked with Norma first!). I also asked for materials for matching undies to be included (an extra $12 per kit). The Hooks & Wires kits are great! The only things I didn’t like about it are the bra closures and the channeling, which were flannel-y. I prefer the more substantial satiny ones I ordered from Sew Sassy.

Marlborough bra

My first bra turned out wearable albeit a bit messy, which I was expecting. I had lots of issues with the underwire channeling, which I later figured out was because I was doing it incorrectly. Whoops. My next bra turned out even better (although still had the same channeling issue because I hadn’t figured it out yet) and is my second favorite bra right now.

Marlborough bra

For my third bra, I did some experimenting. I had extra fabric leftover from the kits so I cut out all the pieces, dyed them black, and used some black Sew Sassy hardware (elastic, closures, sliders, underwire) to make another one. I’d also bought some black lace for the upper cup piece. This one is my absolute favorite.

Marlborough bra

The fourth one was also dyed from extra fabric from one of the kits and I also experimented with dyeing the hardware. As you can see some of it took to the dye better than others. I forgot to take a photo of the process but I mixed some RIT dye, boiling water, and vinegar in a mason jar. I dropped all the pre-cut pieces in, swished them around, and left the jar in the sun for a while. I added some more boiling water after about half an hour. I think it sat in the sun for about an hour. The color turned out pretty awesome, although there is some splotchiness. I need to get better at remembering to make sure the dye is completely dissolved before dumping everything in. Oh well, it’s totally wearable.

Marlborough bra

I don’t know if you can tell from the photos but I’ve been making these guys in two sister sizes because I can’t for the life of me figure out which one fits better. The black and blue/purple ones are 34C. The pink one is a straight 32D and the red one is a 32D with about half an inch added to each band piece (so technically a 33D?).

Marlborough bra

Other resources: 
-I haven’t finished reading Norma’s book but so far it’s been a great help.
-I can’t remember why but I bought a yard of this stuff to use as bra lining ages ago and it’s lasted me forever. I’ve been using it to line the lace upper cup only (especially if I’m using a lighter weight lace) so I’ll probably never run out of it. I’m planning on doing an all lace bra next so I’ll probably line that whole bra with this stuff.
-For more crazy bra kits Merckwaerdigh does some with really gorgeous prints. I haven’t used them because of indecisiveness in the form of I-want-all-of-them.
-Also Sarah has recently started stocking gorgeous bra kits at Grey’s! I’m having a similar indecisiveness problem. I’m going to be that weirdo with 50 bras. My bewbs have never felt so supported.

Hungerween // giveaway winner

Katniss tribute parade
me in Katniss’ tribute parade dress

Effie Trinket butterfly dress
my roomie made Effie Trinket’s amazing Alexander McQueen butterfly dress (yes those are individual butterfly wings and yes she’s promised to do a guest post on how she did it.)

Johanna Mason
my sister as Johanna Mason in the Mockingjay promos

boyfriend as Cinna

Caesar Flickerman
roomie’s brother as Caesar Flickerman


If you’ve been following my instagram you’ll know that Halloween this year sort of turned into Hungerween what with a group of us choosing Hunger Games related costumes. I think it started when my roomie decided she wanted to make Effie Trinket’s butterfly dress from Catching Fire. And then it exploded.

We spent the better part of the last month putting together costumes and getting waaay into it. I’m still working on sorting through the 900 photos that were taken Friday night and will definitely be doing individual costume posts!

And since I completely forgot to post this in the midst of Hungerween craziness last week, the winner of the Love at First Stitch giveaway is Lisa!

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 11.38.10 AM Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 11.39.37 AM

Congrats Lisa! Please email me so I can get your book out to you!

Not-so-secret pajamas // Perfect Pattern Parcel #6

Hudson pants

Hudson pants
Why yes, that is Norma’s book I’m reading there. Getting ready to dive into that Marlborough bra as soon as hungerween madness ends!

Hudson pants

Hudson pants
pants: Hudson pants, pattern by True Bias // shirt: no idea

*I received this pattern for free through in exchange for helping to spread the word about the Perfect Pattern Parcel and all gushing, opinions, and excessive wearing between washes are my own.

Why hello, new favorite pants ever!

Things I have done in these pants:
-Make Halloween costumes
-Run errangs
-Take many naps
-Make more Halloween costumes (no seriously, it’s gotten out of hand)
-Came very close to wearing them to work until I remembered that they are sweatpants
-Cry while getting dressed for work
-Lounge, nap, think about napping, etc.
-Many mugs of tea
-Think about how soft these pants are

Seriously, I wore them for six straight days and then hung pathetically around the washer/dryer when I finally peeled them off to wash. Am I over-sharing again? I don’t even care. They’re so comfortable I want to nap all the time. And they came together in about twenty minutes. (Not counting pattern taping, obviously.)

I used a lusciously soft French terry from that is sadly no longer available. Luckily they have quite a selection in many colors so go take a look. The one I got was lightweight (much lighter than I was expecting and I almost returned it until I compared it with my roomie’s meundies sweatpants and realized they were the same weight) and SO SOFT. I had ordered another one that was heavier weight and not as soft so it got sent back. I don’t know if it would’ve softened up with washing but it was kind of a weird color so oh well. Anyway, since they have such a flexible return policy I would recommend ordering a few or getting some swatches to see what you like. I just ordered this one and this one and this one. I’ll report back when they arrive.

Anyone recognize the waistband fabric? Yup, Carrie was sweet enough to let me snag some Julia cardigan scraps which I used for the waistband and pocket detail of these guys.

Anywayyy the best part is that it’s Pattern Parcel time again and this pattern is included in the Parcel #6! Click on the graphic for more information.

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Love at first stitch // book review + giveaway

Tilly's book*I was sent a copy of Love at First Stitch free of charge and all opinions, egregious sewing blunders, and mischievous plots are my own.

From Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes, © 2014 by Tilly Walnes.
Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston,

When I first started sewing I made a lot of pretty hysterical errors.

One time I tried to replicate a Star Wars dress that was originally made in some sort of textured crepe using a very lofty knit fabric just because the color was similar and the texture looked the same. I assumed that the grainline was something anal people bothered with and would cut things wherever they fit at whatever angle they fit and then scoff at the yardage suggestions. Oh, and I never ever finished an entire edge intentionally. There was a phase when I sewed exclusively with my mom’s serger and edges were just sort of finished by default but otherwise everything was just sort of open and happily fraying away on the inside. I’m also pretty sure I lost most of the extra presser feet from my first sewing machine because I thought they were extraneous and unnecessary.

Tilly's book

Who am I kidding, I still wouldn’t call myself any kind of sewing guru. Up until a few months ago I was still sewing buttonholes and zippers by hand to avoid learning how to do it on the machine.

In defense of babby Ping, I didn’t exactly have someone ready and available 24/7 to help me figure things out the right way and I was extremely determined to make these garments, right way or not.

Tilly's book

Anyway, the point is, ohmylord I wish I had Tilly’s book back then.

Things I was clueless about as a beginning seamstress that Tilly’s Book would’ve enlightened me about:

-Backstitching: Never did this. Always wondered why my seams would come apart. Sometimes I would fray check the ends of my seams in desperation. (Am I sharing too much?)

-Choosing fabric: I had SO much trouble with this. Like that time I tried making Kaylee’s Shindig dress out of cotton batiste. YEAH. That happened.

-Seam allowances: Another thing I assumed was just a helpful suggestion. I would sew Big4 patterns (usually 5/8″ seams) with about a 3/8″ seam and then wonder why their patterns were always so big on me. -headdesk-

-Facings: Those extra pieces were just optional. I never used them. Like actually never.

-Inserting sleeves: For some reason I completely missed the memo on gathering the top of the sleeve piece slightly before inserting it into the armhole so I would inevitably end up chopping off about 1/2″ off the top of the sleeve and then wondering why my shoulders were too tight.

Yes. I’m just going to go hide in a corner now.

Tilly's book

The other thing I love about Tilly’s philosophy with this book is that she’s included several patterns meant to help a beginning seamstress learn how to sew without being stuck making pillowcases and curtains.

Tilly's book

The Clemence skirt is so cute and such a simple way to get started with sewing and learning the basics. And don’t get me started on the Mimi blouse. And yes, this aesthetic may not be your cup of tea but I love getting people to start sewing and I love the idea of encouraging people to jump right in sewing things they’ll wear and love. (Yes, I was one of those kids whose moms made them sew a million straight lines on scrap fabric before being allowed to touch the fun stuff, why do you ask?)

Tilly's book

As someone who’s been sewing for many years, this book wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of my need-to-have list, but I’ve been showing it to friends who have expressed an interest in sewing as a means of illustrating how accessible these skills are. (No but seriously, my sister is visiting next week and is being dragged to sewing club where I’ve instructed the Crafty Foxes to convert her. I will also be leaving this book around her vicinity accidentally on purpose. Hee.)

Tilly's book
In my extremely biased opinion, this is my favorite page.

Anyway, on to the fun part: Tilly’s book has finally come to the US and she generously sent me an extra copy of her book to give away to a Peneloping reader!

Just comment below telling me a sewing technique you’ve avoided like the plague or one you’d like to learn. Make sure you include your email so you can be contacted about receiving your prize!

This giveaway is open to US readers only (sorry, international friends!) and will be open until midnight Monday, October 27th. The winner will be announced shortly after.