After all of these years of making, I have never sewn a costume for myself. I've just never had much of a reason to dress up on Halloween or for any other event. However, this year, my brother nearly had me convinced to attend DragonCon in Atlanta. I wasn't able to attend, but the invitation started my brain thinking about creative costumes.


I'm personally much too practical to invest my time and energy into garments that can only be worn once or twice per year so I began searching for ideas that I could incorporate in my regular routine.

That's when I remembered Pearl, from a Cartoon Network show called "Steven Universe." My kids used to watch it... I have no personal affinity for the show or the character. I felt, though, that her character could easily translate into multifunctional additions to my own wardrobe.


{Not only that, her character seems pretty high on anxiety... she may actually be modeled after me!}

All I needed to sew was a cute peplum top and a pair of tangerine shorties. I matched it with a pink wig and socks, both purchased from Amazon, and attached a little yellow felt star with double-sided fashion tape.

I made the top by mashing together the Made for Mermaids Mama Fiona and Mama Joy. I gathered the peplum, rather than pleating. I self-drafted the funnel neck by increasing the neck binding by three times the width of the pattern.


I used a dreamy circular knit from Phee Fabrics for the top. It was my first experience with the fabric that everyone adores. And, I have to agree, not only does it feel amazing, it worked up like a dream. It is the perfect fabric for activewear and daily wear alike!


The pants I'm wearing here are also me-made... Vogue 1517 by Anne Klein. These pants really deserve their own post. MAJOR learning curve to share!



For the shorties, I used the Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs pattern and lengthened the inseam by two inches. I actually made these twice... the first time with a gusset. And, holy moly! The fit was so terrible on me that I was embarrassed to look at myself in the mirror. Thank the sewing gods that I had just enough fabric to complete a second pair - sans gusset!


I used a gorgeous nylon/spandex tricot in tangerine for the shorties. This is the perfect performance fabric! As a runner, I will definitely get a lot of use out of these cuties! This was my second project using tricot and it won't be my last! Word of advice when making these shorties with tricot - size up, ladies! This is a compression fabric.


My last accessory was my very own little Steven Universe. He was super excited to channel the energy of his character and decided that bubbles were a must have in our quick photo shoot.



I really couldn't be more pleased with the outcome of this month's sewing challenge. I loved the opportunity to think creatively about how to assemble a costume that will blend into the everyday.

And, who knows, it may get to make an appearance at DragonCon 2019.

What's on your cutting table for Halloween this year? Please tell me all about it!


Years ago, I joined a healthy living/weight loss challenge at work. The organizer knew me personally and was short on team leaders so she asked me if I would lead a group.

{I have a hard time saying "no."}

Within one minute of meeting with my team, one of the ladies asked me what my qualifications were to lead the group.

Once I recovered from being put on the spot, I confessed... None. I had zero qualifications. She was greatly displeased...

So, here we are today to discuss making underwear and I confess to you - I have precious little "expertise" in making undergarments! But I can sew and this is truly a super simple make. Two pattern pieces... a bit of elastic and lace... and voila! You have a pretty perfect pair of underwear!


{This is me... wearer of underwear, but neither expert maker nor model of underwear. You get flatlays today. Haha!}

I was part of the testing group for the Made for Mermaids Mama Vicki pattern and had a great time trying out different ways to customize the pattern. While they are all hipster-style briefs, it offers high-, mid-, and low-rise options. I'm going to show you a few different ways to dress them up, using the low-rise style.

The pattern directions are incredibly simple to follow so I won't be sharing a step-by-step for making the garment itself.

Lace

For these two versions, I used Phee Fabrics' rayon spandex. Rayon spandex is the softest, silkiest, dreamiest knit fabric I've ever worked with. It makes an amazing pair of underwear!


I was inspired by my favorite style from Soma Intimates and decided to add a pretty lace detail to the front.

There is no right or wrong placement of the lace detail, but you want to make sure the sides mirror one another. I measured in 3.5" from the top edge and 3" from the leg edge to ensure identical placement.


I attached the lace with a small zigzag stitch and trimmed the top and bottom to match the curves of the garment.


The pattern instructions direct you to add the trims - be it picot, lace, or standard elastic - and "join" them in the side seams. Here's how that process looks:


Stretch the lace to fit the length of the entire leg opening!



Then, sew up one side of the brief. Repeat the process with the waistband elastic. Sew up the second side of the brief.

And here's why I don't like this method...


It's tough to match up the fabric and trim. However, if you look at any of your RTW undies, you'll see the same method used.

I prefer to join in the round - meaning sew a circle from your trim or elastic and attach once the brief is already assembled. It's a little more work, but it makes for a much cleaner look. That's what I've done with this pair.


I'll demonstrate joining in the round with my next pair.

Once you've attached your lace, you'll want to trim your fabric to match the curve of the lace.


I love these!!

Fold-over Elastic

Fold-over elastic (FOE) is a great way to finish the edge of an undergarment. It's very easy to work with! Just fold over and sew with a zig-zag stitch.


I really "went fancy" with this make and added some wide lace to the sides. To do so, I basted the edges of my briefs together.


I then attached the lace by lining up the center of the lace with the side seam and sewed the edges with a zig-zag stitch.



I trimmed the lace to match the curve of my brief and then cut out the fabric behind the lace.



I prepped my trim for joining in the round by sewing the seam allowance of my FOE to create a circle... Matched the quarter points of my brief with the quarter points of my FOE...


Then attached with a zig-zag stitch.


So simple! And such a clean look all around.

Mixing Fabrics

I consider this fabric match both a win and a fail.

I swore I'd use every scrap of my beloved oatmeal rayon spandex from Phee and I had just enough left for a front panty panel. I paired it with Phee's camo powernet and did a simple black picot elastic trim.



The pair didn't photograph very well, but I decided to share anyway! They aren't as wonky as they appear here.

Why a win? Talk about lift, ladies! Powernet is as awesome for lifting the backside as it is the girls...

Why a fail? Size up when using powernet. This experiment resulted in a VERY cheeky pair of briefs, which I will totally wear, but will definitely be sizing up for my next pair!

I think the biggest lesson that I've learned in prepping for this panty party is that it's okay to experiment with different design ideas when you have a winning pattern. And panties are the ULTIMATE use for leftover scrap fabric. When I think about how much I've spent on underwear in the past, it's exciting to know I have the ability to make a better fitting garment with supplies I already have on hand.

Now, I just need a bigger underwear drawer...
It probably isn't apparent here, but I am totally obsessed with camo these days. It's everywhere in my life... leisure, home, travel... I even purchased some ripstop canvas in a black camo print because I'm determined to make camouflage into a pair of office-chic pants.

It's gonna happen, friends. This fall. Guaranteed.

When I saw this amazing camo powernet at Phee Fabrics, I immediately had visions of the Five Out of Four Agility Tank. It had to happen.


I've never made true activewear, but this is my "Year of Firsts." I've made swimwear, lingerie, a bodysuit (!)... so why not a sports bra?

If you're unfamiliar with powernet, it's a very supportive fabric typically used in lining activewear. From what I understand, it's incredibly effective. The women in my sewing groups who use it for its intended purpose RAVE about how much they love it.

{Flat chested as I am, I can't speak to that. Hook me up with a training bra and I'm good.}

I decided to make the camo mesh a feature fabric so I still needed a lining for modesty's sake. I still had a short supply of my beloved oatmeal rayon spandex from Phee to pair with the camo - which proved to be the perfect blend of hard and soft. I'm determined to use every square inch of that oatmeal goodness!


Never mind the fact that the description of the fabric says it's not moisture wicking. I wasn't going to sweat that much anyway... yeah, right.


The construction of this top was drama free. The pattern and instructions were well written and easy to follow. I especially loved the binding method, which virtually eliminates the additional bulk of a double-fold bias trim. Mesh is a stable fabric so the Five Out Of Four method was especially effective for this make.

All in all, I am so in love with this top! And there is no reason for me not to make 1,000 sports bras that fit my measurements to a tee. I have the knowledge and the fabric dealer to make it all happen.


HOWEVER...

I will not be making "activewear" out of rayon spandex ever again. Like the description says, it's not moisture wicking. I wore this top out on a 5-mile hike in the Georgia heat and humidity. It literally looked like I'd been lactating for hours by the time we were done.

Not cute, ladies. Not cute.


But, yay for lessons learned!

I have other big plans for the rest of my camo powernet, including a top inspired by this amazing look:


It's gonna happen, friends. This fall. Guaranteed.


I've got 99 problems, but fabric ain't one...

In the spirit of this year of sewing firsts, I decided I desperately needed a bodysuit.

That's right... 90's fashion has been ringing my doorbell over and over this year!


I settled on Seamwork's Ariane and found some amazing nylon/spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics. I ordered it in both black and kelly green. I am new to lingerie and swimwear design so I knew that I wanted to make a muslin in black to ensure a proper fit. But I knew the green would be my showstopper!

I've never sewn with tricot before and was so pleased with the weight and overall quality of this performance fabric! It was a dream to cut and sew up. I used Phee's Techsheen to line both the cups and the crotch of the suit. Techsheen is a perfect lining for anyone who needs extra built-in support.

So, the fabric was a total winner. The actual sewing of the bodysuit, on the other hand, is another story...

The Ariane was fairly simple to construct. It actually did exceed my expectations, having never sewn a garment like this before.

My troubles came with the smaller details.

Like that perfect "V" between the cups... Looks okay here, but it was a disaster on my muslin. I sewed and ripped and sewed and ripped and never could get the perfect finish! Honestly, I'm still unclear on the proper way to achieve this V. My method was pretty messy!


Then came the fold-over elastic... this was one rare occasion where my online community of sewers failed me. I took to the Seamwork Facebook group to ask for recommendations on the width of elastic required. Would 5/8" work? Did I need 1"? The instructions were unclear and I needed guidance. Unfortunately, not a soul came to my aid. I decided to try both. I used 1" for my muslin and 5/8" for my final. The wider elastic is absolutely the way to go! If I needed any support at all, I wouldn't have it with the 5/8" elastic.


But it's soooo cute! I found this serape stripe beauty on Etsy.

Even as a maker, it's tough to sew lingerie for small busts like mine. So many patterns are drafted for a B-cup. Guess who's barely an A? My muslin was a little too large in the cups so I downsized for my final garment. Unfortunately, it's still a somewhat unflattering fit.

I'm sure I'll appreciate my lack of boob-age someday... I'm not there yet, though.

Making this bodysuit was an exceptional lesson in lingerie construction. I learned so much about what does and doesn't work - and can adjust accordingly in the future. And, I will. It only took a half yard of fabric to make so I can squeeze out another 2 with my leftover Phee tricot!

In atypical Rachel fashion, I'm not discouraged by the challenges faced with this bodysuit. I'm actually excited to break out my scissors and start again! Tell me about a challenging project that inspired you. I'd love to hear your stories!



Sometimes, you happen upon a match that is just meant to be... but it takes patience and time and a little more patience.

This life lesson has made itself apparent to me many times in many different forms in the past week, but we'll save the deep stuff and talk about this match:

The Patterns for Pirates Sunshine Dress + Phee Fabric's Rayon Spandex


Oh my dear goodness... there has never been a more perfect pair. I feel like a Roman goddess in this dress! It's flowy and dreamy, unbelievably soft, and not even the slightest bit "see through." I had women walk up to me today just to feel this fabric. It's that magical.


My littlest guy asked me why I was wearing my pajamas to work.

{For the record, I have zero sleepwear that looks like this, but I would totally sleep in it now!}


I've been dragging my feet, trying to work up the courage to tackle those gorgeous gathers for more than a year. It only took one look at this beautiful turquoise fabric to convince me to take the chance.

I'm no stranger to gathers, but I never enjoy the process. A lot can go wrong - the threads can break... the gathers can be uneven... they can bunch when you're attaching to your facing piece... I have ripped out more seams because of problems with gathering than for any other reason!


Luckily, we are part of a community of sewing geniuses who have a solution for everything.

Exhibit A - Use your serger!!


Perfected by The Seasoned Homemaker, her technique is so simple and gives you total control over the spacing of your gathers. This is by far my favorite method. There is something about having a little extra stability in the seam and the gathers turn out perfectly every single time. I gathered with my serger for this dress and couldn't be happier with the results.

Exhibit B - Gather with a zigzag stitch


I love the ease and speed of this method, as demonstrated at Simple Simon and Company. The only drawback is lack of control over the gathers. I find it's a bit harder to keep them evenly spaced. I do occasionally use this method. When I do, I secure one end of the gathering thread with a Wonder Clip and gather with the free end. It's a great method for short gathers in sleeves.


How lucky are we to have such amazing resources online and great materials available to work with? Go snatch up some of this gorgeous turquoise before it's all gone! I've already ordered more of Phee's rayon spandex to make summer dresses and I'll be sharing those beauties as I'm able.


May all of your creations make you feel as special as you are, loves!