a to z survey

by Nicole on July 9, 2015

I’ve seen this survey going around a few blogs lately, and I’m a sucker for fun questions like this, so here we go!

A to Z Survey

A – Age: 28

B – Biggest Fear: Darius dying and leaving me behind, or me dying and leaving Darius & Lentil (my cat) behind.

C – Current Time: 10:20 am

D – Drink You Had Last:  good ol’ H20

E – Easiest Person To Talk To: Darius

F – Favorite Song: I don’t think I have one! I’m one of those people who latches onto a song, plays it a million times, then grows sick of it and can’t listen to it for a while. But in general, I really like Bollywood music, rap/hip-hop, Lana Del Rey, Sylvan Esso, Decemberists, Lucius, Conor Oberst, Jenny Lewis, alt-J, First Aid Kit, and the like.

G – Grossest Memory: I don’t have this memory because I was too young, but supposedly I once ate my own poop out of my diaper when I was a baby. I’m surprised my parents didn’t just throw me in a dumpster.

H – Hometown: I was born in Tucson, Arizona, but grew up in Katy, Texas (suburb of Houston). Moved to Austin, Texas after high school and have lived here ever since.

I – In Love With: Darius

J – Jealous Of: People who have money and don’t have to work. I just want to do hobbies all day! I already want to retire.

K – Kindest Person You Know: One of Darius’s aunts. I’ve never heard her say a mean thing about anyone, and she is always very sweet and inquisitive.

L – Longest Relationship: Been with Darius for 8.5 years, married 5.5.

M – Middle Name: Now that I’m married, my maiden name is my middle name (Peterson). Was previously Marie.

N – Number of Siblings: 10, and I’m the oldest! 7 from the same parents (3 brothers, 4 sisters), plus a step-sister, a half-brother, and a half-sister.

O – One Wish: Somehow get a bunch of money so I can stop working and do whatever I want.

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: Scheduling person at my doctor’s office. I hate talking on the phone.

Q – Question You’re Always Asked: “Did you make that?” anytime I’m wearing something new.

R – Reason To Smile: Because the world is full of baby dolphins! I know that makes no sense to you unless you watch the cartoon Clarence (which I realize is probably none of you), so let me explain: Clarence is a super happy kid and is on a field trip with a super grumpy kid. Grumpy kid gets to see baby dolphins and is actually happy for once. Clarence explains that this is why he’s always happy–because the world is FULL of baby dolphins. So I love this phrase because it’s a reminder to me of how stupidly awesome the world can be, and how much cool/crazy/funny/awesome/mind-blowing stuff is out there if I just remember to look for it.

S – Song You Last Sang: “Clique”, specifically Kanye’s rap, and I actually changed the words to incorporate Lentil (“my cat’s a superstar all from a home movie”). No shame. On a related note, Darius and I love to change the words to songs. Our most recent success was changing Sublime’s “What I Got” to be about Mario: I don’t cry, when my Yosh runs away/I don’t get angry at Bullet Bills that come my way/ I don’t get angry at piranhas in the pot/ Skip a level with a whistle that I got.” Yep, we’re cool.

T – Time You Woke Up: 4:45 am

U – Underwear Color: gray

V – Vacation Destination: Anywhere I can have a mix of great food and fun places to walk. My ideal vacation is exploring a city on foot, eating wherever looks good, and popping into fun-looking museums and shops. I also love nature, so if I can hike or swim nearby, that’s pretty much my perfect trip.

W – Worst Habit: laziness in general, whether it’s being too lazy to cook, too lazy to workout, too lazy to meditate, etc. I’m working on embracing working hard now for more ease later.

X – X-Rays You’ve Had: Two–one to look at a hurty hip years ago (turned out to be slipped disc), and one to look at a hurty foot years ago (turned out to be plantar fasciitis).

Y – Your Favorite Food: Changes depending on the season. Right now, I’d say avocado on anything, soft-boiled eggs with rice, tomato & mayo sandwiches, and turkey & cheese sandwiches with crunchy lettuce & onion & tomato. It’s the summer of sandwiches, I guess.

Z – Zodiac Sign: Scorpio

papercut sway dress in linen-viscose

by Nicole on June 28, 2015


While I was creeping through Heather Lou’s archives one day, I spied this tent dress and filed it away in my brain to make something similar someday. Usually fit & flare is more my style, but lately I’ve found myself gravitating towards looser styles. And then the summer heat and humidity started to roll into Austin, so I started thinking about a tent dress more and more. And then Papercut Patterns released the Sway dress, and so with all the evidence pointing to tent dress, I finally decided THIS should be the summer of the swingy tent dress! And how to make a tent dress even more summer-appropriate? Linen, of course!


So this isn’t actually straight-up linen, it’s linen-viscose (rayon) that I purchased from Caroline at Blackbird Fabrics (and there’s still some left!). This fabric is EXACTLY what I want to be wearing in summer. It’s breezy and cool because of the linen, but is soft and drapey because of the viscose. I did have a bit of trouble working with it, because I’m still used to firmer fabrics like quilting cottons and denim, but I’m slowly learning how to work with more delicate/flowy fabrics. After cutting one of the front pieces, I stupidly lifted it up before tracing the darts, and then the fabric was all shifty and I couldn’t get it to lay out exactly the same so I was like, “eh, I’m preeeetty sure this is the dart placement”. Yep, I need more practice! Luckily I still have more 14 more meters of linen-viscose and linen!!!

The pattern itself is dead simple–it’s really just two pattern pieces, a pocket piece (which I didn’t use because I didn’t want the pocket weight to affect the drape), and some facings (which I didn’t use because I hate facings). I’d guess it could be easily drafted yourself, but I’d rather have someone else do the work for me. The front and back pieces aren’t cut on the fold, so there are front and back seamlines, which I honestly don’t love. I don’t know if this is so that it can accommodate smaller widths of fabric, or if it’s because the seamline makes the garment sit differently? Anyway, I left it in for this version but maybe would remove it in future versions by cutting on the fold instead. Anyone know cutting on the fold vs. having the seamline makes a difference in the final garment?


The pattern description talks about being able to wear the dress forwards or backwards for different looks. Well, that doesn’t really work when you do an FBA and forward-shoulder adjustment, so I had to pick and ended up using the scoop in front and the V in back, which is actually the opposite of the intended pattern. I like that it looks sweet in front, and then there’s this pretty, very summery dip in the back.

Like I said, I didn’t use the facings because I hate facings. Instead, I used some bias tape I had leftover from my Southport dress, which I also used to finish all the seams because the linen frays like crazy and I’m still scared of my serger (broken record, much?). For the hem, I decided to use pre-made bias tape, since I figured the stiffness would help the hem hold its swingy shape. I love bias tape. I seriously don’t understand how some people hate it.


The result? I freaking LOVE this dress! It’s breezy and light, and super swingy, and I have plenty of room for eating and sitting and summer frolicking. And the silhouette makes me feel so cool! When I first put it on, I was like, “uhhhh I don’t know if I can pull this off”, but then with the power of Hasbeens and a slightly shorter hem, I was like, “BAM, CUTE AS HELL!” I love how much the hem sticks out and gives that awesome super-A-line shape.

And this dress finally solidified it for me–NEVER SKIP AN FBA.  You’d think I would have learned after my Southport, but with this dress I still thought, “Eh, it’s SO loose, I’m sure it will be fine without an FBA.” I’m glad I always make muslins, even in loose styles like this, because I would have been really sad to cut into my precious linen making up the pattern as-is.

I made my first muslin in size large, with no adjustments at all. Since I didn’t do an FBA, there was major gaping at the armscye, and the dress just didn’t sit well. I also saw I’d definitely need a forward-shoulder adjustment to correct some back armscye problems, and to get the side seams perpendicular to the ground.

Muslin #2 was MUCH better, except that the dart I’d added during my FBA was about 1/2″ too low, so I raised it on my pattern piece by just cutting a box around it and moving it up 1/2″. I also decided to take in the side seams from the armscye to the dart about 1/2″ at the armscye, tapering to nothing just above the dart. This made the dress sit much nicer, and made the hem swing out more, which I like and is how it looks on the model.


And this is when I had a bit of a lightbulb moment. At first I thought that it was weird that I did an FBA, only to remove some of that width from the side seams. But after thinking about it, it makes sense. The FBA adds volume in all the RIGHT places–up front. What I really need is that extra volume in the front, not extra width at the sides. I’ve often tried to get away without an FBA by just adding the extra width at the sides by blending to a larger size (like with my Southport), but now I realize why that just doesn’t work. Do it the right way. Lesson learned!

So now I have two standard adjustments that I will make on all future garments–forward shoulder adjustment (about 3/8″) and FBA (usually about 2″ but obviously depends on pattern). I’ve recently realized that these two adjustments hugely impact the entire garment–they keep the armscye from wrinkling and gaping, they reduce any pooling in the lower back, and they keep the front hem equal to the back hem. What about you guys–do you have any standard adjustments you make, or are you one of those lucky ducks who fits into most things straight out of the packet?

By the way–these photos were taken by my super talented sister-in-law Jenni during a thunderstorm over the weekend. She caught a great shot of Darius and me too:


And this fabulous outtake:


double the gingers, double the fun

by Nicole on June 4, 2015



I have two finished garments to share today–the Ginger Jeans I put on hold a while back because they were too small at the time, and a pair of Ginger Shorts!

Can I just say how much I love jeans-making?!? The process is so much fun if you take your time and relax, and you’re rewarded with professional-looking jeans that make you feel super confident.  Seriously, I can’t say enough good stuff about the Ginger Jeans pattern, the sewalong, or Heather Lou.




For the jeans, I drafted a pocket stay, lengthened the rise by one inch, and I made a small full calf adjustment, since I was seeing a lot of above-the-knee wrinkles in my first pair and thought it might be due to my calves. The calf adjustment, as expected, made these a little more boot-cut in the calf, and it still didn’t really get rid of the wrinkles so I think I’ll just go back to the original pattern next time and either live with the wrinkles or try something else. It seems to me as if a horizontal wedge just needs to be taken out of the back lower thigh, but I don’t know if this is actually a real adjustment or how to do it.



For the shorts, originally I was thinking about making Grainline Maritime Shorts. But I figured I could make pretty cute shorts by adapting Ginger, so I decided to try that first. The result–I love them! They are a little tight when I first put them on, and so I actually feel kind of uncomfortable in them initially, but once they stretch out a little I feel like they look awesome. They’re more tomboy-ish/sporty than I was originally going for, but I like them.


In case you want to make your own Ginger shorts, here’s how I did it.

-Before cutting my denim, I held the paper pattern up to myself and eyeballed how long I wanted my shorts to be. I marked this as a straight horizontal line on my paper pattern.

-With tight shorts like this, you will need to account for the extra width needed at the cuff once you roll it up, so you can’t just cut along the original angle of the jeans. If you followed the original angle, you’re not going to be able to roll the hem/cuff up because the circumference of the bottom is much smaller than a few inches up. I wanted thick cuffs, about 1″, so this meant that I cut straight-down for two inches past the horizontal line I drew.  I mentioned after I’d made these that the cuffs did feel quite tight still, and learned from my very smart friend Susan that I should have accounted for turn of the cloth. Next time, instead of cutting the shorts straight down for the cuffs, I would do as instructed in this Threads article for cuffed shorts. The differently-angled seams lines will prevent the cuffs from being so restrictive. I also might take a slightly smaller seam allowance next time so they’re not SO snug.


Make sense? Because you have to accommodate the cuff/hem during the cutting stage, that means you need to be pretty sure on the length before you cut, because you’re not going to be able to go any shorter once you cut them because of that whole smaller-circumference-at-the-bottom thing. Once I tried these on, I actually wished they were a few inches shorter, but it was too late at that point. Oh well, I’ll make a much shorter pair when I make up the high-waisted view, because I think high-waisted shorty-shorts will look super cute!

-All of the actual sewing will be exactly the same until you get to the hemming stage. When I reached the hem, I finished the edge of my shorts using the overlock stitch on my sewing machine (I’m still scared of my serger). Then I simply folded up the cuff 1″ and pressed, then folded up again and pressed again. You want to press really, really well so that the cuff keeps its shape over time. Use that clapper!

-To secure the cuff, I sewed a line of vertical stitching along the cuff at each side seam. I used my normal jeans-colored thread for this, but topstitching thread would probably look fine too. I haven’t washed these yet to see how the cuff holds, but I may go back and tack the cuff down by hand in a few places if it doesn’t keep its shape well.


Whew! What do you think? Are you as in love with making jeans as I am? And what are your favorite ways to style jeans? For some reason I’m kind of having trouble deciding what to wear with both of these!