my graduation dress

three days before my drive-thru graduation, i realized i didn’t have any graduation appropriate dresses and started panicking. would there be enough time for me to make one? would the stores be open for me to buy fabric? what pattern would i use? so many questions and now that i look back on it, i never asked myself if i actually needed a white dress for graduation; i just assumed that i would because that’s what everyone else wore during our middle school graduations. common sense aside, i decided to self-draft my own linen dress, inspired by a dress designed by @georgiasportfolio and the wattlebird dress from @commonstitch. here’s what went down:

6.8 MONDAY

first things first, i went for a good 10 mile run, during which i had lots of time to think about my dress design and plan the process. high off the post-run endorphins, i returned home and sketched the basis of my design. then i spent the rest of the day finishing off the last of my assignments for the year! crazy that i was done with high school!!

6.9 TUESDAY MORNING

i got out my medical paper-turned-pattern paper and an old sheet to start experimenting. i loosely traced the shape of the ogden cami pattern onto the paper, but added my own neckline and armholes. i marked where my bust would be, and cut a curve there. i also went full-send and added a bust dart, trying my best to imitate what i’ve seen on other patterns because i didn’t really know what i was doing. i sewed a test dress out of an old sheet, and the front came together surprisingly easily without many goofs. i realized i would need to sew a facing as well, so i repeated what i did with the front. for the back of the dress, i once again used the basic shape of the ogden cami pattern but cut a shallower v-shape. this made the dress much too wide, and i then spent a good hour unpicking stitches, taking the side seams in, and putting on the dress again, trying to find a good fit. eventually, i got close enough and called it good because i was pressed for time. the back gapes a little, but in linen, it looks like part of the style so it’s not terrible. i added some straps and ordered some white linen from the fabric store.

6.9 TUESDAY AFTERNOON

while i was waiting for the fabric store to email me that my fabric was ready for pick-up, LS came over and we decorated our graduation caps together with the names of the colleges we’re attending in the fall. it took a surprising amount of time for such a simple design, but it was fun to get out my hot glue and glitter paper and decorate away. in perfect timing, my fabric was ready right as LS wrapped up her design and had to leave, so we said our good-byes and off i went to the store (mask on of course). i got home, popped the fabric in the wash, and took a much needed break.

6.9 TUESDAY EVENING

after dinner, i took my freshly washed linen and began sewing. now that i had already made a muslin and had established my pattern pieces, the process went a lot faster. i knocked out the entire outer dress and the facing and sewed the straps. all that was left was to understitch the facing, but i was pretty exhausted at this point so i went to bed. finished with some hours to spare! i pranced around in my dress the rest of the evening because i was so! proud! of! my! self-drafted! dress! especially because i’m a newbie who doesn’t really know what i’m doing. despite my inexperience, this turned out really well if i do say so myself, and i’m excited to keep designing and sewing clothing 🙂

6.10 WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

ah, drive-thru graduation. more anticlimactic than i had anticipated and i didn’t even get a chance to show-off my dress because they made us zip up our gowns. at least it peaked out a little in the photos i took with my family. my friends graduated the next day, so i had planned to take photos in my dress then, but thursday morning, i crashed on my bike and got scraped and bruised up pretty badly (still healing a week later) and physically could not put on a dress and the hat and the cords and take pictures without a lot of pain. and… that’s how i spent my last days in high school! there’s more to it, but this is the dress-centred version of the story. this was definitely not how i pictured the end of high school and beginning of high school to look like, but i’m sure there’s an upside to all this chaos!

leather bottom boxed pouch

my grandpa’s 80th birthday was today, and it’s father’s day, so it was a day for multiple celebrations! i wanted to sew my grandpa a gift, something that he will actually use. he loves to travel (though covid-19 has shut down any of his plans) and he loves the look of leather, so i made him a boxed pouch with a leather bottom. i actually really enjoy this pouch and want to make another for my dad too. i think the leather bottom complements the natural canvas really well, and the lining looks very clean and professional. here’s the details:

after making my first fennel fanny pack, i was dissatisfied with the clunky bias binding on the insides. not only was it time consuming to hand-stitch down, i also didn’t like the look. while searching through the fennel fanny pack hashtag on instagram, i came across some examples of a drop-in lining and thought it was the perfect alternative to bias binding. i became very eager to try this new style. sometimes, when i have an idea in my head of how i can improve on a design, my mind doesn’t stop scheming until i try and execute the idea in real life. this happens with backpack designs, clothing, and here, with the drop-in lining.

my family was driving down to where my grandparents and cousins live that week, so there was a slight time constraint. i had initially considered making another fanny pack for him, but the buckles i needed to complete the fanny pack wouldn’t arrive in time. i felt a travel bag/boxed pouch would be equally useful, and used the fennel fanny pack pattern sans waist belt attachment.

the other small modification i made was eliminating the front zippered pocket and adding a snap instead, mostly because i just really wanted to install a snap.

THE PROCESS

sewing with leather. always kind of a struggle. well, it turns out that my leather needle was already dull, which was the reason it couldn’t sew through thick pieces of leather and caused a whole bunch of problems. once i switched to a normal heavy duty needle, assembling the outer layer went really smoothly. so much so that i’m excited to add more leather bottoms to my bags; i may even get ambitious and try one on a backpack.

the drop in lining was easy to assemble as well, though hand-stitching it to the zipper was another story. for some reason, the fabric on each side of the zipper wasn’t long enough, so the lining didn’t quite fit the bag. this is probably a result of me ironing too large of a seam allowance, but by the time i realized this, it would have been a pain to fix. i went with it though and the bag turned out all right, just in the future, i’d leave myself more fabric to work with. as always, the hand-stitching was a little tedious. luckily, a little netflix really helps pass the time, and i feel like the extra effort is always worth it in the end. it looks SO good!

fennel fanny pack

i remember purchasing this pattern as part of a bundle with the raspberry rucksack pattern last spring, yet i’ve somehow never used it. i think i was deterred by my lack of correct sized zippers or hardware or webbing. yet lately, i keep finding myself in situations where i wished i had a fanny pack and i told myself it was about time i made one for myself. i used some leftover yellow waxed canvas from my raspberry rucksack for the exterior and some quilting cotton from my stash for the interior. now that i’ve made the pattern though, i don’t know why i needed to buy it. it’s really simple, and i keep seeing free online tutorials to make virtually the same fanny pack… i guess i’m just supporting small businesses! but really, i want to start drafting my own patterns or only purchasing patterns that will teach me a new skill, mostly because i feel guilty that i’m going to an expensive university and i’m trying to spend less unnecessary money. anyway, what’s done is done, and i may as well use the patterns i’ve got.

i have visions of eliminating the waist belt on this pattern and just making a boxed pouch and i also want to find an alternative to the bias binding on the inside. i don’t mind the process of sewing bias binding; it’s the cluttered feel it adds to the inside that i dislike. in fact, this was the first time i hand-sewed the other edge of my bias bound seams and it was actually a pretty enjoyable process! i’m a little mad that i goofed on the zipper placement (the main zip starts on the opposite side as the pocket zip), even when the instructions specifically mentioned to make sure the zippers start on the same side. oops. all in all, i see myself using this fanny pack quite often, and there is a lot of room within the pattern for minor customizations like a padded backing and more pockets. i have yet to test it on an actual long hike though, so i guess i’ll see how my fanny pack holds up then. i have high hopes!

JUNE 27 UPDATE: once the buckles i ordered arrived, i tested my new fanny pack out blueberry picking and it was perfect. it’s super convenient when i don’t wear a jacket or pants with pockets and need something to hold my phone, and i don’t know why i’ve never realized the usefulness of fanny packs before. up next is definitely a running belt for the same purpose!

grey raspberry rucksack

my aunt saw a picture of my yellow raspberry rucksack and requested one for herself. it took me a long time, but i finally made one for her! i used grey waxed canvas for the exterior and some teal blue quilting cotton i got over 8 years ago for the interior. i wasn’t quite sure about using such a bright fabric for the interior – my natural instincts wanted to use a natural cotton canvas instead – but i gave it a try and it’s not half bad. my aunt liked it, which is all that really matters, and i enjoy the teal blue zipper because it contrasts nicely with the simple grey exterior.

THE POCKETS

she’s got three kids, so i included lots of pockets on the inside and two water bottle pockets on the side. one of my complaints about the fjallraven kanken design that sarah kirsten mimicked with this pattern is that there is a lack of side pockets that can really fit a water bottle. in my previous blue raspberry rucksack, i added a plain side pocket, which was very useful, but still couldn’t fit my largest nalgene bottle. this time, i tried a pleated pocket instead. it worked pretty well; the fit is good, though i goofed on the placement (1.5″ was too high from the bottom, next time i’ll go for 0.5″) and the pocket stays expanded, sticking off of the bag a little awkwardly when there’s nothing inside. arg. maybe fourth time will be the charm with this project? my next modification would be to include a drawcord across the top of the pocket to synch it shut. though honestly, i’m not the biggest fan of this bag design. i don’t like the front flap opening, because it’s difficult to reach items stashed towards the back and i feel like backpack falls apart when i open the front flap all the way. although i really want to nail the water bottle pocket, i will probably end up designing a different bag instead.

THE PROCESS NOTES

my long bag zipper became uneven at the ends because the zipper shifted when i sewed it in place, so i would recommend finding the middle and sewing outwards from there towards the bottom of the front flap piece. i think the evenness is worth the extra seconds of repositioning the bag to start from the middle both times. i finally put together the straps correctly on this bag – turns out i’ve been doing it wrong this whole time and that’s why my straps have always twisted. i did it right this time, and then went and fixed the straps on my other backpacks as well. it was very satisfying to get this right! and i really have no clue how/why i misinterpreted the instructions on my previous backpacks.

fabric masks

it took me a while, but i finally sewed myself some masks! i haven’t had much need for a mask these past few months because i’ve rarely gone out, but as spaces start to open again, i decided it was time. i don’t like the fit of generic masks and i feel like i can’t breathe very well, so comfort also influenced me to sew my own. now that i think about, i don’t know why i was so resistant to making masks earlier in the pandemic because the process is really quite simple and relaxing, kind of like making a scrunchie. it’s a good way to use up my fabric scraps as well, and i have more thin elastic than i’ll ever need in my room so i’m all set up for it. i made my first mask, went to the store to get ice cream, and then came home and made two more – it was that enjoyable!

more pouches

what can i say, i’m obsessed with making pouches! they are just such a fun and simple way to use up my fabric scraps and are extremely useful. i made the indigo-dyed pouch as an end-of-the-school-year gift for my calc teacher. i had debated whether or not to use a math themed fabric (or make my own) but i decided i wanted to make something pretty that could be used outside of the math classroom. i used some indigo-dyed fabric from last year’s chem project, and embroidered some simple flowers onto the fabric.

for the scrappy blues pouch, i turned to my blues scrap bin. i pieced together a random patchwork, then used some scrap corduroy for the bottom, and quilted the top. i used a long pull plastic zipper instead of my usual metal one and i really like it. i think it’s easier to zip and sew with than a metal one, and the look isn’t bad either.