Thursday, October 1, 2015

Yes I Did (Matching Shirts for Karlie and I)

No shame in my game, though I doubt we will ever wear these at the same time in the same place. I had my eye on this fox knit from Girl Charlee for ages. When I finally purchased it I bought enough to make myself a dress but then decided on matching tops for Karlie and I. I took these both down with me on our family Vacation this summer to the Frio, but this little toot was not up for modeling with me. Mom took this picture for me last weekend so I figured it was time to photograph my shirt as well.

Karlie's fox shirt

Karlie's shirt is a simple self drafted kimono sleeve top with a ruffle added, basically a square with a hole cut in it for the neck. I think I am going to try to make myself a version of this soon in a black rayon challis.

My version is a modified Dixie Diy Summer Concert Tee, my third version of that pattern. I love this version but haven't gotten much wear out of it because it requires a pair of high waisted pants or shorts. I actually made a pair of high waisted denim shorts for just this purpose but the pattern still needs some tweaks and I didn't find them too wearable.  I really do like the fit of this top and plan to make another version with a tiny bit of length added to the front. This knit is not very stretchy at all, so I'm thinking that this pattern would work in a woven as well.

Dixie Diy Fox shirt

Dixie Diy Fox shirt

Dixie Diy Fox shirt

Here is a terrible picture to illustrate my alterations. I shortened the back pattern piece, but left the front as drafted (wish I would have added a couple of inches there). I then cut off a portion of the back piece at about waist level and slashed and spread that bottom piece to make it about double the original width. The piece was gathered, sewn to the top half and then I proceeded as normal. I also left the arm bands off of this version. Here is my first version of this top. I love basic patterns like this that can be changed and manipulated for multiple variations. Though I love sewing dresses, I most often find myself reaching for jeans and a cute top to throw on. I can never have too many cute tops.

Dixie Diy Fox shirt alteration

Mom also texted me these pictures that K drew in her sketchbook. They are costumes that she has designed for me to make her for her birthdays. I think the numbers correspond the the age. We also did this when she was here and we were designing Fashion Cat and I think it is so much fun to see how her creative mind works. Apparently those are feathers that go behind the neck.

Untitled Untitled Untitled

Two blog posts in one week? I can't believe it. I have a couple more finished projects to share but have moved on to my swimsuit sewing frenzy. We have about six weeks or less till our vacation so I'm trying to get that show on the road. I really don't have any suits that I'm crazy about or that fit well, so I'm counting on myself to come through on that project. So far, so good, but I'm just in the muslining stage right now. There were a few other pieces that I wanted to sew for our trip but first things first when you are going on a beach vacation.

Monday, September 28, 2015

More Vacation Sewing McCalls 6952

I found this watercolor rayon challis at Joann and bought a yard and a half. Then I wish I had bought more. I love the colors, but wondered if it was going to look too Granny-ish as a dress. Luckily I had the perfect solution, some solid black rayon challis in my stash to eliminate the all over floral effect, and supplement the fact that I hadn't purchased enough fabric. I used McCalls 6952 and am super happy with the outcome.


This is another one of those patterns that I never would have picked based on the cover art. It wasn't until I saw Lladybird's version that I wanted to get my hands on this pattern. You really do have to look past the cover and take a look at the line drawings to get an idea of what you could create with a pattern, especially from the big four.

I made View B in a size 10 and I eliminated the lower ruffle. There was just something off about the proportions on me. I think because I am so short waisted it just looked funny with the ruffle being so low.  I raised the shoulders, an easy alteration that I always have to make.

I really like the princess seams, though they don't show much in black and floral here. I like that they give the dress some shape even though it has an elastic waist. I did my favorite new seam finish throughout, French seams made by serging wrong sides together, then turning and sewing.

  dressback2dressfront4 dress

 I wore this dress for mine and Frank's Sixteenth anniversary of our first date. It is easy and comfy to wear and will be a perfect Summer or beach vacation dress. I will use this pattern again because I like View A with the back cutout. I highly recommend this pattern.

I have to thank Juebejue over at Petite Republic for the heads up on these awesome shoes. I complimented hers and she generously told me the brand. I hunted some down on Amazon and am loving them.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Vacation Mode in McCalls 7155

I had the weekend off to go camping, but was so indecisive about where to go that I waited too long to make reservations. The weather turned cooler for a couple days and of course all of the nearby campgrounds were booked. It worked out just fine though because we caught a bit of Fort Worth's Fall Gallery Night and hung out with some new friends Saturday evening. Sunday we made up for not camping by checking out Cleburne State Park on a day trip. The highlight of the park is a spring fed lake and a CCC built Spillway. My Pawpaw was in the CCC, so I always love to see structures that they built in the 1930s still standing. We took the opportunity to do a little photo shoot with my newest make, McCalls 7155. I am still sewing for Mexico, so all of my makes continue to be Summery.


I dyed this linen with Indigo at my mom's house a while back. I just wadded it up and tied it as an experiment and was thrilled with the outcome. The straps are also hand dyed rayon challis.


I like the swingy shape of this top and I think the fit is just right. I made version A in size small.

indigotank tank2

 I was inspired by Heather Lou's Inari Tee dress with neon topstitching. I couldn't find any neon topstitching thread and don't have the triple stitch that she mentions. I used a neon yellow embroidery thread and I think it works pretty well. Instead of facings I made bias tape out of the yellow rayon.

  tank1 tank3

While the highlight of this tank is definitely the funky straps, they were a bit fussy to get right. I don't have a dress form so it was pin, try on, re-pin, try on. Frank tried to help but ended up poking himself with pins. I still didn't get them just right but I do like the outcome. I wove the straps through each other and did sew the top and bottom points together where they met. I almost think a knit strap around elastic would work better for this effect. Hmm, I have more experimenting to do.


Speaking of the straps, I don't know how you would wear this top without a bra showing. I am wearing it with my swim top here, and that is how I imagine I will use it. I think I would make this pattern again, perhaps in a drapier fabric. I do think that version A is the only one I really care for out of the six options.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Meet Fashion Cat

My niece Karlie came to visit with my parents a couple of months ago and we designed her Birthday/Halloween costume together. Meet Fashion Cat!

Meet Fashion Cat. Karlie and I designed her together and this will be her birthday present/Halloween costume. Complete with red wig, cat ears, a leopard print crop top, red arm coverings, a black tulle skirt, black heels and tattoos. She was very specific
There is also a theme song!
A video posted by ashleyakers (@ashleyakers) on

K was very specific about the details, wanting a half shirt with leopard print, red full length gloves and a tulle skirt that was long in the back and short in the front. I think I pulled it off. When I sent her this picture of the gloves (which barely fit me) she freaked out. She kept telling me how jealous all of her friends were going to be and that they were exactly what she had dreamed of. That made my heart swell.
Working on Karlie's fashion cat costume. The gloves barely fit me but I told her I would send a pic. She freaked out and told me over and over how jealous all her friends were going to be. I know the way to her heart. I love making costumes for her becaus Here she is posing in her costume right after she opened it.


I used Simplicity 1122 for the skirt, it wasn't difficult but takes patience for all that gathering of tulle! I definitely recommend this pattern as it has a very cute effect.

For the crop top I used McCalls 6729, the same pattern I used for her Hawk Girl costume last year. I modified it a bit, making it into a crop top and adding the cutout and ruffle. I went up from a size 3 (which seemed tight last year) to a 4. It was quite big but I realized later I only did 1/4" seams on the serger instead of the recommended 5/8" seams. Oh well, it should fit her for several years.

I also made leopard leggings, which you can't see here and which also turned out quite big.
The ears, tail and wig were purchased at our local costume shop.

We all had to try on that fabulous wig!


This was the fourth year in a row that I have made Karlie a costume for her birthday. There was Snow White, a Mermaid, last year's Hawk Girl and now Fashion Cat. I love that we designed this one together and that it is an original. K turned 6 last month and I hope she will enjoy me sewing for her for years to come.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Papercut Clover Dress

I have been sewing, I really have, but my finished projects rarely get photographed. This dress was finished quickly last week and then worn two days in a row. Frank says it is his favorite thing I've ever made. It is my favorite for the moment. This is the Clover Dress from Papercut Patterns and is a perfect summer dress. Clover Dress Clover Dress Clover Dress Clover Dress Back Clover Dress Detail Clover Dress
This dress is so simple to make that I didn't refer to the instructions at all. I had wanted to use this Rayon Challis (still available in another colorway here) for this pattern but was struggling to find the right trim for the insert detail. I was looking at trims by the yard but then it occurred to me that I had the perfect lovely orange Eyelet from Golden D'or in Dallas in my stash.

The only change I made to this pattern was adding an inch to the hem. I then ended up making a pretty deep hem, so may not have been necessary. I didn't do the full belt, but opted to sew ties for cinching in the back, which I think is more flattering on me. There is really no fitting necessary as this is a loose, pull over dress. I made the size XS based on my measurements and the fit is great. I also did French seams to all but the bust insert. This probably made the dress ever so slightly smaller, as my French seams always end up bigger than they are supposed to. I serged wrong sides together and then turned and sewed a straight stitch on my machine.

This is my second pattern and third make with Papercut and I love their designs. I have made two versions of the Soma Swimsuit, which haven't made it to the blog because me in a swimsuit on my blog? Lets just say I'm not there yet. Speaking of swimsuits, I just received two online orders of swim fabric and have big plans for sewing swimsuits for our upcoming trip to Tulum. We are heading there in November to celebrate my 40th birthday on the beach, so I have a little time to get ready.

I am fully on the Rayon Challis bandwagon now and could wear it all summer long. I'm so happy it is becoming available in great patterns and colors for home sewists. It also dyes amazingly well and I have a bunch of white in my to-dye box. So many projects, so little time..... better get back to sewing Karlie's birthday costume.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Miette(s) and their mates

I have recently started doing some un-selfish sewing for a couple of friends. This is not like me at all, but when I saw the Miette wrap skirt pattern it just screamed Gretchen. Gretchen is my life long friend and a talented artist. This skirt just looked like her. I'm so glad that the idea of making a Miette for her came about, because it also motivated me to make one for myself, and I know it won't be my last. I'm totally in love with this pattern!

I made G's version out of a lovely Japanese cotton denim that I found at Joann. It was my first project to do top stitching on and I love the result! I think the skirt is a hit with Gretchen, she said it fits well and she really likes it.
Gretchen's Miette

And an action shot. Gretchen's Miette

I made my version of Miette in a denim with a bit of stretch. The only change I made was a swayback alteration. I'm not even sure if I'm doing those correctly, but it seems to work. I adore this skirt! It is not something that I was initially drawn to for myself, so this un-selfish sewing has benefited me as well.
Miette meets Anna Maria

I dig the 70s vibe of this design, it is really an era that I am drawn to lately.  Perhaps because I was born in 1975 and my mom was a young, stylish woman in the 70s. The skirt overlaps by quite a bit in the back, so there is no fear of a wardrobe malfunction, at least in a sturdy fabric like denim. It also has the perfect A line shape, slightly flared, but not over the top.Miette meets Anna Maria

And great big pockets! Miette meets Anna Maria

Here is my favorite detail, the top stitching. Might be time to try to make some jeans. Miette up close

The top is a super simple, but new favorite pattern, Simplicity 1106. I made the size Small, view D without the pocket. I left off all facings, opting for self bias tape instead. I shortened this quite a bit, but will make the longer, tunic length to go with leggings in the Fall. The fabric is Anna Maria Horner Rayon Challis and I LOVE it. I always snooze on designer fabrics, but am thankful for Etsy sellers who have them long after the big boys are sold out. I made this top out of 1 yard of fabric, barely enough but it worked. This top looks fabulous untucked with jeans as well. What you can't see here is the cute shirt tail hem. I do love a good shirt tail hem line! I recommend this pattern as well, it is a quick make and fun to wear.Miette meets Anna Maria

The back cutout detail is my favorite. It adds just enough interest to make this top not be plain Jane. Miette meets Anna Maria

I forgot to mention that there is something to be said for sewing in multiples and really getting a pattern down. Of course this one was easy to fit, and didn't require any fitting really (aside from my swayback alteration). I think having made one up for G first really made my skirt go faster. I have done some un-selfish sewing for my mom, my mother in law and my other bff Christi. The funny thing is both the piece that I made for my mom and for Christi I want to make for myself as well now. Perhaps the un-selfish sewing will continue, if only to get me to explore new shapes for myself that I may not have been drawn to or thought of before.

I am now in the midst of being obsessed with sewing swimsuits. I'm working on a Papercut Pattern Soma top at the moment, and have several more planned. Daydreaming about the trip that we want to take to Tulum this Fall for my 40th I suppose. Gotta have the swim wardrobe locked down first!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Linen Mona Jacket

You guys, this is my most proud make so far! I can't remember how I discovered this pattern but I love everything about it. This is the Mona Jacket by Schnittchen and I highly recommend it. I had quite an adventure making this blazer and I'm so proud of the outcome. I finished it in early April and have worn it a ton.

Yes, linen wrinkles. These photos were taken after an afternoon of running errands. I think this is a linen rayon blend, it was something my mom had given me from her stash. 

I lined the jacket with a poly from Joann. I don't usually like polyester but it works here. There is an option for an unlined jacket as well. In fact, there are two different pdf downloads, one with the lining pieces and one without. There are also two different photo based sew-alongs on the Schnittchen blog for this jacket. Here is the one with the lining insertion.
 Me being silly in front of the Richard Serra sculpture at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

I love the design of this jacket. The shawl collar and the swoop in the front make it very fun to wear and easy to dress up or down.  I used interfacing on my collar pieces, which is optional I think it would look nice and drapey without. I ended up ironing a crease to make the shawl lie down better. mona2

The back is also fun with a vent and a nice shape. Sorry I didn't get a great photo of the back. monaback

I made the mistake of printing this pdf too small. I did the test run and it measured right, but then my dumb printer reset itself. Therefore the whole thing came out at maybe 85%. It wasn't an issue until I got to the sleeves and they wouldn't go on my arms! I emailed Silke before I realized my mistake and she was confused as well. Once I figured it out I was able to reprint the sleeves and squeeze another set out of the fabric scraps I had left. They fit onto the shrunken body fine. This means that the jacket is a bit shorter and smaller than designed. This was a wearable muslin and I am undecided weather I would reprint the body at 100%. I quite like the fit of this one. Don't be a dummy like me though, I recommend printing at 100% for the best fitting garment. I think the wrinkles at the top of the sleeve are from having to gather the sleeve cap a bit to fit the smaller body. They bother me a little but not enough to keep me from wearing this awesome jacket! The only other change I made was shortening the length of the sleeves.

I am definitely a fan of Schnittchen! Silke's designs are modern and fun, with a ton of thought put into them. The pdf patterns are super affordable and I plan to make more of her designs. Be sure and check out Schnittchen and let me know what you would like to make.