Maywood Totepack Love

While sewing garments is my first love, making bags is a very close second. I didn’t know how much fun it could be. It’s that excitement you get when you try on a freshly sewn shirt, except you can use it everyday for the foreseeable future without judgement. I made a modified Fremont tote back in January during a Bag Making Intensive and the entire process ignited a fire in me. I am still using that bag daily as my purse/carry-all and its been a real conversation starter.

I had the pleasure of making the re-released Maywood Totepack and it was empowering. One of the things I love about Klum House is how you end up with a bag that looks so professional. So much so that you have to show people in progress photos for them to believe that you made it. I take that as a huge compliment. Can you tell that I enjoy defying people’s expectations?

The instructions are very clear and the drawings are really helpful for a visual learner (me). In addition to written instructions and diagrams, there are videos available for various aspects of the bag making process. The video explaining the process of setting the tubular rivets was by far my most watched. This is because it was a new technique and I needed a little help with it. For starters, I tried to use what I had on hand for materials because I was eager and stubborn. Setting tubular rivets with the Tubular Rivet Peening Tool requires a mallet rather than a hammer. This is an important distinction to ensure you don’t damage the metal Peening tool. Naturally I decided that I could make it work with what I had. I started with a silicone wine preserver wrapped around the end of my hammer until it ripped. I then tried to use a scrap of leather wrapped around the hammer. It kind of worked but its difficult to hold the leather in place while using the hammer and holding the Peening tool in place. So I decided to break down and get a mallet. I tried setting the tubular rivets with the mallet and a variety of surfaces: my countertop, mini anvil, and a plastic cutting board. When I reached out to Ellie about my difficulties she suggested applying more force. So in an effort to avoid any noise complaints from my neighbors I went outside with my mini anvil, mallet, preening tool, rivets, and bag. There was this magical moment where I saw the beautiful flower shape that indicated I’d successfully set the rivet. I say all of this to say – 1) Listen to the material/tool suggestions 2) Don’t be afraid to really put some force behind your mallet.

The more you set the tubular rivets, the easier it gets. There’s a little groove you get into and you can feel the shape of the rivet changing as you strike it. This is a satisfying project that I immediately began to use once I finished it. It looks sleek AND it’s strong enough to carry all of my things. I like pretty things but I love functional things. This project checks both of those boxes.

Using the Magnetic Snap Rivet Setter to set the magnetic snap was pretty seamless. It felt more like setting the double cap rivets. I appreciate having all of the specialty tools in the maker kit. While you could certainly source these on your own, it was nice to get everything together in a package. I also really appreciated that the fabric was already cut, marked, and had most of the holes punched. The maker kit really is a complete offering.

If you already have the exterior fabric and lining that you’d like to use, then the finishing kit might be your best bet. It has all of the hardware you need in the right length and size. You can customize the kit by choosing your leather and hardware color. Using the finishing kit can eliminate some of the guesswork in sourcing the right leather for this particular project.

I really enjoyed making this bag and I definitely want to play with different color combinations, printed fabric, and additional pockets. I can see myself making this again maybe even as a gift. It’s a versatile bag and I like having the option of using it as a shoulder bag or a book bag.

If you want to make your own Maywood Totepack you can get 10% off all Maywood products with the code MAKEMAYWOOD until April 22nd at midnight. You can shop here.

There is also a live virtual class on April 28th where you can make this bag with Ellie! Having taken an in person class taught by Ellie I can tell you that you will be in a positive, fun, and empowering learning environment. I hope you enjoying making the Maywood Totepack as much as I do.

This maker kit was provided to me at no cost and all thoughts are my own. The link above is an affiliate link and allows me to receive a small commission when you make a purchase.

Romantic Rose: An Accidental Color Story

I am a bit of an impulsive sewist. I see an outfit that inspires me or some tester photos of a new sewing pattern and I instantly want to make something. Don’t get me wrong, I really like to plan my makes as well. I will write lists, reference yardage requirements, and even add to my Trello boards. But then I come across a piece of fabric and just have to use it to create something beautiful. I’m still working on that whole balance thing. Several sewing challenges and upcoming events will help me stick to my plans.

Cedar Dolman

Anyway, at some point in the past couple of months I kept coming across sewing inspiration that gave a me a romantic vibe. There was a softness in the images that I subconsciously ended up recreating in my garments. I found myself making clothes that were some shade of pink. I sometimes call it mauve, light pink, or millennial pink. Either way, I accidentally ended up with a color story that I’ll call Romantic Rose.

Ali Sweatshirt
Ali Sweatshirt

When I was younger I didn’t enjoy pink. I think it was because I was “supposed” to like it and that girls were supposed to be “soft” or “delicate” — I didn’t identify with those words. I was strong and didn’t think that wearing pink could be associated with strength. I sort of rebelled against the color and didn’t have it in my closet for years.

Sierra is wearing a light rose kimono and holding a coffee cup
Suki

Fast forward to college where I experimented with all sorts of color in my wardrobe. My style definitely changed and I started wearing more pink. Of course I joined a sorority whose colors are salmon pink and apple green.

Sierra is facing the camera  with her hands on her hips wearing a pale pink peplum top.
Rivermont Top

I can’t remember exactly when I started buying clothes in a myriad of colors, but I stopped avoiding pink at some point. Blue has always been (and still is) my favorite color, so I’ve had a lot of blue garments over the years. Once I started sewing I wanted to make things out of cute prints and bold colors. It was only in the last couple of months that I really leaned into this mauve-isn color palette. I honestly didn’t plan to make a bunch of garments that were shades of pink, but it brings me so much joy to see my little pink corner of my closet. I’m drawn to these clothes and I wear them often.

Sierra is wearing a light pink tunic with a turtleneck
Pembroke Tunic

I try not associate societal expectations with my clothing choices anymore. Yes, I do feel cheerful when I wear bright colors, but I don’t feel any less joy in neutral tones. I’m enjoying making my own clothes out of fabric that I picked out specifically for that garment. Sometimes it’s a neon print and sometimes it’s a solid dark grey. As a woman of color I feel empowered to wear what I want, in whatever color I want, and whatever style I want. That hasn’t always been the case but in 2019 I’m showing up as my full self. Right now that means making a lot of pink clothes.

Dartmouth Top

Moving forward, I think I might try to plan a few makes focused on a particular color story. It’ll help me create garments that compliment each other and allow me to conquer the elusive monochrome outfit. I have a couple of ideas but would love to hear from you. What is your signature color to wear? Do you have a particular color story in mind for your closet? Do your color preferences change with the seasons? Let me know what think!

Styling The Como

Hey y’all! It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you…without a dope blog to step to…

This month’s theme for #SewMyStyle2019 is the cardigan. We have two awesome options: The Como cardigan from Style Arc and the Blackwood cardigan from Helen’s Closet. Paulette and I are making the Como while Jess and Mac are making the Blackwood.

I don’t really own any oversized cardigans, so I decided to take a step back to come up with styling options before I went to the sewing machine. I’ve been trying to make garments that fit into my current wardrobe or stretch current items into multiple seasons. I sketched three outfits that could work with my Como cardigan.

Outfit #1:

I paired my mustard crop sweatshirt with some wide leg pants for a bit of a 70s vibe. It’s still a bit cool here, so having a sweatshirt under a cardigan allows me to layer comfortably. I also want to see how an oversized cardigan could pair with wide leg pants without feeling too much like pajamas.

Outfit #2:

This is a v-neck sleeveless tank that is in the sewing queue paired with some leggings. I envision wearing this during the spring when the temperature inside my building won’t let me be great. It’ll be a little piece of winter that can still be worn as the seasons transition. I really wanted to try a bright color with a jewel tone because that’s very much outside of my comfort zone.

Outfit #3:

Here we have a salmon shift dress that I’ve been meaning to make for ages. I don’t wear a lot of dresses that stop above my knee, but adding the cardigan makes the outfit more my style. I thought it would be nice to play with the oversized cardigan next to a more fitted dress to balance things out.

Overall, I am very excited to try out these three styles in the near future. I’m adjusting to a different climate and I have a feeling that spring in the Northeast will be cooler than I’m used to. I’m looking forward to using the Como cardigan to extend my wardrobe into spring. How are you going to style your cardigan? Let me know!

Everybody Pants Now

I really hope you read the title to the tune of “Everybody Dance Now” by C+C Music Factory. If not, go listen to it and meet me back here. I also hope you’re a Parks and Rec fan and remember when Leslie Knope sang that line.

Its January and I’m making pants!!! In 2018 I made:

  • leggings
  • culottes
  • casual trousers
  • jeans

Okay when I put it all together that sounds like a lot. In my mind I didn’t make a lot of pants last year. These makes were spread out across the year and I made a lot more dresses and tops than pants. After I saw the #sewfancypants and #sewwithme2019 challenges I decided that I should focus on making some pants this month.

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Leggings and jeans are on my Make Nine 2019 list, so I know that I’ll be carving out some time for those. I wanted to take this month to try some pant styles that I hadn’t made before. I’m also trying to make more clothes to wear to work.

Thats where the Seamwork Channing pants come in. As soon as I saw this pattern I knew that I had to make them. They have an old school vibe with a funky update. I made a size 22 based on my measurements and jumped into sewing with some wool suiting I picked up at Sewfisticated Fabrics.

When I first tried them on I thought they were a bit large for my intended silhouette. I also noticed that I had sewn the pleats incorrectly on one side. I don’t usually try on my garments until they are completed but I’m glad I did in this case.

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The positive ease was clearly indicated when I compared the body and finished garment measurements. That’s all on me for not checking ahead of time. My desired silhouette is also just a personal preference. I think the silhouette of the original pattern is really nice. I just decided to tweak it for my intended look.

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I took off 2 inches at the outer leg seam and 1 inch at the inner leg seam starting from the bottom of the pocket down to the hem. I didn’t want to distort the pocket, so thats why I didn’t alter the fit starting at the waist. I haven’t done a lot of fit adjustments (especially on pants) so that was my best guess at how to achieve my goal. Starting at the pockets made the upper part of the pants look a bit more curved than I intended, but it isn’t going to stop me from wearing the mess out of these pants. I decide to pair these pants with two of my favorite Cashmerette tops – the Pembroke and Montrose.

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I didn’t make any adjustments to the waistband because the flat front and elastic back worked out great for me. I really love these pants. They are fun, very comfortable, and definitely appropriate for work. I am really excited to make them again in a black wool suiting I found on the remnant table.

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I think I’ll size down for my next version, or take them in starting at the waist. I really like the pleats in these pants and they definitely make me feel fancy. I’m thinking about trying some sort of printed fabric in the future. I also wonder how a slightly heavier or more structured fabric would look.

What is your favorite pants pattern? What do you like most about that pattern? Feel free to leave a comment and share your pants story.

2019 Make Nine

So I learned about the make nine challenge in late 2017 and it seemed pretty cool. I chose nine patterns that I planned to make in 2018 based off the sewing patterns I already owned or had seen other people make. It was pretty early in my sewing journey so I didn’t put too much thought into it. I ended up making most of the patterns and learned something new with each piece.

Fast forward a year and I’m sitting down to make my list of nine things to make for 2019. Rather than picking a specific sewing pattern, I chose to look at the type of garments I wanted to make. I wanted some flexibility in the plan because that gives me the permission to switch out a pattern if it doesn’t work. That might sound silly, but I don’t thrive on being rigid. I need a balance of direction and freedom.

I also realized that a lot has changed in the past year that affects my sewing. I’ve increased my sewing skills and have a desire to try advanced techniques and work with trickier fabrics. I also moved further north and live in a colder climate. My job has me in the office most days which is a change from my previous position. I’ve also discovered more about my style and what I’m comfortable wearing. I’m really enjoying playing with proportions and new silhouettes.

Here are my plans for my 2019 Make Nine:

Jeans – Specifically skinny jeans. I might try distressing them, but the main focus is on the width of the lower leg and the inseam length.

A woman is wearing blue skinny jeans

Leggings – Most of the leggings I’ve bought in stores are too short and flare out at the ankle. My ankles are on the smaller side and I’m really looking forward to some custom leggings.

A woman is wearing grey leggings

Wrap Dress – I love how this style looks on me and I want to play with different dress lengths. I really want a maxi in a bold floral print.

A woman is wearing a dark red wrap dress

Cardigan – I’d like a cozy cardigan that will get me through the winter. I also want to make a version that helps take the chill off while I’m in the office.

A woman is walking and wearing a dark red cardigan

Blazer – I am super excited about making this. I think it will elevate my workwear game.

A woman is wearing a bright yellow blazer and cropped pants

Blouse – I’m envisioning a romantic top with dramatic sleeves. I also want a wrap blouse that I can wear with skirts and high waisted pants.

A woman is smiling and wearing a coral wrap top and pants

Blouse – I’m envisioning a romantic top with dramatic sleeves. I also want a wrap blouse that I can wear with skirts and high waisted pants.

A woman is wearing a black sleeveless top with black and white pants

Button Up Shirt – I had grand plans of tackling this in 2018 but 2019 will be the year!

A woman is wearing a large hat blue chambray button up tucked into a dark pair of jeans

Full Skirt – I haven’t made a lot of skirts and I want to add them back into my wardrobe.

A woman is wearing a black turtleneck and patterned skirt

I used Pinterest for my inspiration pictures and I really like how it all came together. I ultimately want to make pieces that can be mixed and matched for a capsule-like wardrobe. Everything doesn’t have to match, but I want to be able to use pieces for multiple outfits. I’m excited about this journey!

The Ali Sweatshirt Is Bae

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but making sweatshirts is so delightful. Yeah that was cheesy but it’s me. As I’m adapting to weather in New England I’ve started to really examine my wardrobe. I have winter clothing but not a lot of REAL winter clothing. I lived in the south for many years so moving up north has forced me to reevaluate my clothing choices. Fast forward to when I saw the Ali Sweatshirt pattern from SEWDIY. I immediately knew that I wanted to try it.

The first one I made was a XXL in a lovely mustard french terry from Imagine Gnats that I’d been holding onto. I made it without any alterations to the pattern. The instructions were clear and I was able to get more practice on my serger, which was great. After trying it on I decided to take it in a little at the side seams for a slightly different fit.

I paired it with a dress I got at JCPenney from the Tracee Ellis Ross collection. I feel like the combo had me channeling my inner Tracee and I was really happy with the outcome. It was a departure from what I thought my style was, but was definitely a success. Side bar: I’m learning that my style is evolving. More on that in another blog post.

For my second sweatshirt I decided to size down to the XL and lengthen the pattern. I used the sewalong this time and it was SUPER helpful. I especially liked the preparation post about measuring where you’d like the hem to hit and comparing it to the pattern. That might seem like a simple step but I honestly hadn’t thought about doing it. It’s a necessary adjustment for my long(ish) torso, large bust, and fit preference.

I used a scuba knit from Sewfisticated Fabrics for this version and I was a little too eager with my serger. I cut a hole in my sweatshirt while attaching the neckband and face palmed for a second. I fixed it the best I could and kept it moving. Honestly the mistakes have NOT stopped me from wearing this sweatshirt on multiple occasions. It was also my version of the “sew frosting” challenge so I continue to wear it proudly.

By the third version I’d gotten the pattern alterations and construction down to a science. I felt more comfortable sewing this one without looking at the directions, which is something I never do. Also my serger and I got along well enough to not create random holes.

I used an organic hemp fleece from D & H Fabric Co. in this dreamy rose color. This fabric was similar to other sweatshirts in my closet. I like the softness of this fabric and the color quickly became my favorite.

For my fourth and final (for now) version of the Ali Sweatshirt, I used a bamboo cotton sweatshirting in plum from Imagine Gnats. As a bonus I also ordered the coordinating ribbing to use for my cuffs and neckband. I love that I was able to get color coordinating fabric and ribbing without guessing whether the colors would match.

I really enjoyed making all of these and trying different fabrics for each. I’ve worn each of these on a consistent basis since they came off the sewing machine and I’ll definitely be wearing them throughout winter. I used the sewalong and appreciated the pictures since I’m a pretty visual learner. Beth also answered a question I had about topstitching and I really appreciated her taking the time out to answer my email and provide resources to help me.

Shout out to Carolyn (@diaryofasewingfanatic) for her advice on the Love To Sew podcast about finding a pattern that works and making it over and over again. Her words empowered me and essentially gave me permission to make the same pattern as much as I want. I’m thinking about a color blocked one next.

What sweatshirt are you making next? What’s your go to cold weather patten?

My First Modeling Experience: Future Forecast

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in a fashion show organized by Taylor McVay, of blueprintsforsewing. The event was called “Future Forecast: A Slow Fashion Exchange”  and was centered around slow fashion and sustainability.

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Taylor put out a call for models and when I came across it I immediately felt drawn to the opportunity. She made a point of saying that she wanted to invite a diverse group of models that represented a variety of styles, sizes and backgrounds.

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Taylor was clear about her vision for the show, which I loved. She celebrated different bodies, styles, and ethnicities. I was honored to be a part of this event and I met some pretty amazing people there. It was cool to interact with other sewists, knitters, and all around fun people. This was also an opportunity for me to get out of the house, which is important to do once you move 400 miles from home.

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Taylor described my ensemble as a cotton terry top with indigo and weld dyed color blocking. My skirt used the reverse terry with a rust/tannin dyed trim. My necklace was made by Tree House Farms and wrist scrunchy was care of Practice Space. One of my favorite parts of the outfit was the neon trim Taylor used on the sleeve. It really made the outfit pop! I tried to channel my inner Tyra Banks and I think it turned out pretty fierce.

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Everything came together organically from the outfits, to the makeup/hair, to the handmade jewelry, and the floral display. It was just a really positive space to be in.

I also really enjoyed the vendors that were at the event. I picked up these sick patches from Slow Process that I plan to put on my jean jacket. I also bought this quirky jacket from Nathalia that makes me feel super stylish. In addition, I purchased some really cool wooden pins from Peston for my sister that featured two of her favorite artists, Frida Kahlo and Jean Michel Basquiat. I mean how cool is that?!?!

Overall it was an enriching experience that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. When I tell you that my nerves were racing, I’m serious. I had never been in a fashion before this event and I was able to push past my anxiety and lean into the positivity and good vibes around me. I’m so grateful that I was chosen to participate in this event and I hope to be involved with more events like this that celebrate diversity, honor small businesses and focus on inclusivity!

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Welcome!

Hey! I’m Sierra and I’d like to welcome you to my blog, Seams Like Sierra. I’ve been interested in starting a blog for a while now, and it feels like now is the right time.

So why am I starting this blog? Excellent question. I want to share a little bit more about the things I make. Sewing has really become an important part of my life over the past year and I’d like a dedicated space to talk about my love for sewing.

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What are you going to see on this blog? My main goal here is to document my making process. You can expect an honest depiction of my sewing process (both fails and triumphs). I’m also going to add in things that I love because that’s just who I am.

I intend to show up authentically and fully in this space. That means you’ll see an array of things that aren’t always sewing related. You are welcome to skip past those parts. It won’t hurt my feelings.

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I am super excited about starting this blog and I hope you come along this journey with me. I love interacting with people and I look forward to growing my community!! Stay tuned…great things are coming.

Here are a few fun facts about me…

  • I’m the youngest child and I milk it to the fullest
  • You know that part about me showing up authentically? I’m really into that and won’t tolerate any negativity about it
  • I am a fan of constructive criticism…when it is sought out
  • I am a veterinarian by trade and my favorite animal is the llama (This will become a central theme in my blog. Get ready.)