All posts by Peneloping

Pants class – skinny jeans






Jeansjeans: self-drafted // sweater: hand-knitted

These are the jeans I drafted for my pants drafting class!

I’m so so thrilled with these jeans. The only jeans pattern I’d tried before were the Jamie jeans by Named, which I adored, but only after I made tons of changes to the fit, by which point the legs were totally offgrain and the inseam would be pointing outward.  Plus, even though I now know how to fix the fit properly, it’s always nice to have a pattern for plain, simple jeans. They definitely worked, but not ideal. I now have a basic pant draft from which I made a basic jean draft (which has basically no ease because let’s be honest, I’m usually dressed like a sausage. Or a cupcake).

This is round 2 of tweaking this pattern and I’m pretty happy with the way these jeans turned out! I used the same book and same pants draft I used for my overalls: . Once I get everything properly tweaked, my plan is to make like three pairs of skinnies and then a pair or two of flares or bootcut jeans. So far for my wearable muslins I’ve been using a really shitty stretch denim I got at Sewfisticated in Boston. It’s just kind of crunchy-feeling and the recovery really doesn’t last that long. It’s only $2.50/yard though so it makes perfect muslins and then I can just wear them until they wear out a few months later.

For this nicer pair, I bought a scrumptious stretch denim at Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley that took me like a week to build up the courage to cut into. It’s just so soft and buttery and makes me do a happy dance. I think I have enough for another pair of skinny jeans, or at least a pair of shorts, and I’m thinking I’ll need to go back and pick up some more for the flares.

All the jeans!


Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

This is a pretty simple dress but I want like ten of them. These are definitely my most-worn garments the past few months and I love them so much. There’s not too much to say about them though.

I started with Stretch and Sew 1500, which we used in my beginning clothing class. I think it’s out of print now but if you can get your hands on it, it’s a great pattern. (Here’s a copy that’s on Etsy.) I’ve kind of started using it as my unofficial knit sloper. I pretty much just lengthened the front to dress length, lengthened the back slightly more, and then slashed and spreaded the whole thing to add extra fullness. Then I curved the front and back hems to create a nice high low curve.

The maroon one is made with a really nice cotton interlock from Stretch and Sew Fabrics. (They’re no longer open as a store but they come to my school twice a year with a selection of knit fabrics at great prices.) The elephant one is a really interesting knit that has an almost brushed flannel feeling on the back. I snagged that one from Sewfisticated in Boston.

And that’s about it! Interestingly, the elephant one originally had long sleeves and I wore it literally once and then it sat in my closet gathering dust. Then I came across it again a few weeks ago, hacked off the sleeves, and now I wear it all the time. Especially to buffets.

Hmm maybe I should make a slightly dressier one for Thanksgiving.

a Kelly jacket

Kelly anorak

Kelly anorak

Kelly anorak

Kelly anorak

Kelly anorak

Kelly anorak
jacket – Kelly anorak // top – Dear Creatures // jeans – self-drafted // shoes – Swedish Hasbeens

Sometime last year I developed a huge affinity for anorak style jackets. Before that I’d been partial to peacoats and what I’ve dubbed “sleeping bag coats“, but I guess technically before that I lived in Boston where an anorak isn’t going to cut it most of the year.

The first one I sewed was the Waffle Patterns Tosti jacket because it was still pretty (relatively) cold and I wanted to play with all the different pocket styles. I also picked up two different Big 4 patterns in this style. And then Heather released the Kelly pattern and it was game over.

The fabric is black cotton twill from Joann’s, the snap buttons are Dritz, the twill tape and cord stoppers are from Pacific Trimming, and the floral bias tape on the inside is self-made from a rayon I got at a local discount fabric store.

I love this thing so much. It was pretty simple to put together, and my muslin fit me almost perfectly so I didn’t really make any adjustments. I did, however, make one bigger drafting change because I wanted an excuse to be able to use this for one of my classes, which required trying out a new skill.

Back in my Copying RTW class with Lynda Maynard, she taught us how to do a cut-on gusset, which basically consists of adding a bit of fabric to the armpit area that then acts like a gusset so you can raise your arms without the whole garment lifting up annoyingly. I’d done it before to other patterns with single sleeves, but Lynda had sent me instructions for doing it to a two piece sleeve and I was super excited to try it. (I can’t seem to find instructions online for the single sleeve version, but it’s much simpler and I believe Lynda goes through it in her Sew the Perfect Fit Craftsy class, which I haven’t taken so I could be wrong).


GussetI attempted to take a photo of it but since it’s black it wasn’t easy. Basically that little extra pucker of fabric is the gusset, and just gives you more armpit space to be able to lift your arms. You’ll also notice the armhole ends up about 1.5-2″ lower than where it was originally, so be careful if you’re doing this on a light colored fabric where it’ll show and look weird.

Anyway, it turned out good-not-great. I love the idea of it, and I’m definitely able to raise my arms higher, but I think I screwed up the seam allowances because it pulls a bit in the front in a way that doesn’t quite make sense. I’ll have to try again on the next one. One word of caution though: the way this method works on a two piece sleeve means that you’ll have a much lower armhole seam than normal. I find it virtually unnoticeable in dark or busy fabric, but you might test it out first if you’re using a lighter color or something where seams are more apparent.

Anyway, I’m a huge huge fan of this pattern. I love all the well-thought out, professional looking details, and I’m a sucker for anything that requires hardware. The only thing I didn’t love is that while the pockets look super cool, I’m always a bit fearful of things falling out. I think next time I would want to somehow figure out a way to make the pockets at least snap shut at the top. Perhaps with a lined version?

I definitely want to make a lighter colored one, maybe in a khaki or pale gray. Ooh maybe with polka dot bias tape on the inside!


My friend and I throw this party every year. She doesn’t sew but is very artistic so we like to make costumes together. The past few years, we’ve basically come up with party themes based on what kind of dresses/costumes/outfits we want to make. This year’s was A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Her parents’ house is on a lake and surrounded by trees, and the party is always in August, so it was kind of the perfect setting. They hung fancy lights up, we picked a bunch of wildflowers and displayed them in vases and teapots, and there was a roast pig.

Lemon cupcakes with lemon glaze, topped with a brûlée-ed candied pink lime slice, topped with gold flakes. 

As soon as we decided on the theme, I knew I wanted to do something with tulle, and possibly lots of layers. Kind of like Cinderella Lite, except with embroidery. I’d picked up some linen embroidery floss at a rummage sale and wanted to try it out. I still don’t get why/when you would use this over normal embroidery floss. It’s a nice effect but it doesn’t look *that* different and the thread breaks unless you’re super careful or cut it into tiny pieces.

Anyway, I fell in love with this model/cosplayer’s wedding dress and decided to base my dress off of hers, but in a much more informal and less wedding-y way. I originally wanted it in a blush/ballet pink, but I had all this leftover Cinderella fabric so I decided to be a responsible person and just go with that.

I started off with sewing the bodice. I bought some mesh and coordinating lining fabric from Joanns for the bodice. Basically I drafted a bodice piece and sewed that in the mesh, and then I made elongated “cups” out of the lining fabric sandwiching some lingerie cut and sew foam, and then handstitched the cups to the inside of the mesh.

Then I started embroidering the crap out of this thing. I followed the general style of the inspiration wedding dress but used different styles of flowers and in different colors. I wanted it to be whimsical and forest-y and fun more than elegant. I pretty much just looked on Google and Pinterest for floral embroidery photos for ideas. Here’s the one I used for the bust area (in the photo above).

Once it was done, I made 6 above-the-knee circle skirts — 3 mesh, 3 chiffon — and sewed those to a waistband, which helped support the cups and hold everything together. The waistband then got folded under so you don’t actually see it from the outside.

Now excuse me while I try to resist starting to plan next year’s costume, which will consist of beads, twill tape, and sheer fabrics.

For the record, my friend doesn’t sew and draped her entire dress herself!!

(Thanks for the photos Keith!)

adventures in patterndrafting // mystery fabric contest 2017

Mystery Fabric Contest dress 2017

This dress was kind of a beast. It was unwieldy and not very nice at times. It also kind of had a mind of its own but I mostly managed to wrangle it into submission with a lot of hand-stitching.

But let’s start at the beginning.

MFC dress 2017 progress

I had two main sources of inspiration for this one: Claire Danes’ Met Gala dress from 2016 and the Iron Work dress by House of Worth. (Or technically the Redthreaded version because that’s what popped up on my instagram feed and cued heart eyes because holy crap.)

I knew I wanted to do something completely different from last year, so my sister expressly forbade me from doing 3D flowers to use up the uglier fabrics. And then lots of people last year kept saying they took their ugliest fabrics and made them into bias tape for binding seams on the inside. For some reason my brain took that and ran with it and I decided that no matter what fabric I got, I would turn it into bias tape and cover the dress with it.

MFC dress 2017 progressI never want to look at bias tape again.

I chose a blue bundle because I thought it would be fun to do something a little more colorful. Except “blue” really meant “beige with blue accents” and the one fabric I got a large-ish (2.5 yards) piece of looked almost exactly like my dress from last year (the one on the far left).

I started doing some sketching about stripe directions and what not, and somewhere along the line my brain also decided this dress needed to also be reversible. I kept looking at Oscars dresses and all of my favorites were solid colors, so I decided that I’d make a plain black side as the actual Oscars dress, and the striped side would be like the after-party dress. Repurposing ftw.

I started with a muslin high-low circle skirt, which I divided into quadrants. I sewed a cluster of 9 stripes straight down the front, sides, and back. Then I drew diagonal lines and sewed a 5 stripe cluster down the four diagonals. Then it was just filling in the horizontal stripes.

Two issues came up here:

Issue #1) I could NOT get the bias tape to stay straight. It kept wanting to curve. I decided to just go with it and in the end you can’t really tell, and it actually looks kind of cool in a Mat Hatter-y sort of way.

MFC dress 2017 progress

At this point I was sewing on a few stripes of the same color, switching thread colors, and then sewing a few of the other color before switching back. Killmenow.

MFC dress 2017 progressSpiderweb?

Then I decided to just suck it up and use my sick Bernina even though the timing is off and she skips stitches sometimes. I should really take that in to get fixed.

Issue #2) I ran out of beige fabric. There was a moment of panic but it ended up being fine; I used some of the uglier canvas fabrics covered with the black I’d purchased to make solid pieces at the bottoms. It gives the eye a place to rest and also matches the solid pieces in the bodice.

MFC dress 2017 progressUgly canvas pieces sewn together to form a piece a little larger than the “naked” area at the hem of the skirt.

MFC dress 2017 progressPinned down so I can cut the exact shape needed.

MFC dress 2017 progressA solid black piece cut out in the same shape to go on top.

I took many breaks during this process to work on the bodice, which proved to be a different sort of challenge. I started off drafting a corsety shaped thing and played with the style lines a bit. The black side still has the Claire Danes dress lines, but it didn’t really work on the striped side.

MFC dress 2017 progressBoning channeling.

MFC dress 2017 progressThe original bodice before I re-did it twice.

I decided that while the upside center piece works well in solids, it really doesn’t translate to a giant solid piece amongst stripes, so I redrafted those (thank god they were only style lines and not shaping ones!) and turned that piece upside down.

MFC dress 2017 progressSketch concept of the new bodice. 

MFC dress 2017 progressPinning to see how it looks.

MFC dress 2017 progress

I was running super low on the beige stripes at this point so I was trying to save as much of it for the skirt as possible. I decided to try adding triangular wedges of solid black. I realized that this inadvertently solved my issue of “Does the random center black panel look out of place?” (The answer was yes.) And then they also went with the solid black pieces at the hem! Total accident, guys.

MFC dress 2017 progressAnddd new bodice in progress. Much better!

MFC dress 2017 progress

I kind of went into panic mode at this point and stopped taking progress photos, but nothing super interesting happened after this, just a lot of hand-sewing. I had to trim an angle into the circle skirt waist to accommodate the pointy bodice.

And then I had to be strategic in how I put the whole thing together in order for it to be reversible.

1) I started at the neckline, sandwiching the fluttery pieces between the two bodices and stitching the necklines together.

2) I sewed each skirt to its corresponding bodice.

3) I hand-stitched the two waistline hems together to keep things from shifting around.

4) Attached ban-rol to the hem. I was going to use horsehair braid but I was concerned about how heavy the skirt was going to be. I’d never heard of ban-rol and was in an experimental mood. It worked ok, I think. I’ll have to try horsehair braid to compare.

5) Hand-stitched the entire hem closed.

6) I had three fabrics left so I made a little quilted clutch (also reversible with one side to go with each side of the dress) but I forgot to take photos. Oops.

Phew! I turned in my dress on Tuesday and now I’m kind of having separation anxiety. I’ve been working on it on and off for months, and basically on nothing else for the past few weeks. Now excuse me while I go sew a bunch of t-shirts and zippy bags and pillow cases for the next month.

And see my previous post for more photos of the finished dress!

Mystery Fabric Contest dress 2017