Posted in sewing

Jalie 3997: The Rachel Dress (Two Ways)

I’ve made the speedy Rachel Dress from Jalie Patterns twice in the last month. The first animal print version was for a wedding and to test the pattern. The second star print version was for another wedding a few weeks later. Yo. We had eight weddings this year. Two for my friends (second marriages) and six for Jordan. I love love, but am all tapped out. We have two on the calendar for next year, but given the 14 weddings the last two years, I have a feeling we’ll be at a lot of baby stuff in 2020 😂.

Long Sleeve with ties on the left. Cap sleeve w. no ties on the right.

Between the tester and final version, Team Jalie added a bit more width in the hips, which I think is good. I normally skip right on past a slim fit knit skirt. I mad a size BB I based my size on my full bust of 43″. The BB was a 44″ bust,  and I erred on bigger than smaller. I did not make a FBA. It’s fine, I think I might size down the bodice next time and make a FBA, the shoulders are just a wee bit wide on me and I would like to take away that fold above my bust.

For my second star print version, I did lower the neckline, a swayback (absolutely necessary here), make a full seat adjustment and added a bit to the thighs (graded to my thigh measurement). The extra space in the thighs isn’t necessary with the full seat adjustment. Since it’s a knit, it’s not egregious, but I might go back and slim the skirt a hair.

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I chose the waist ties for the second version because the fabric really needed a visual break. Without the ties, I looked like I was wearing a leotard for the US Gymnastics team.


I’m gonna stick the landing! This is pre waist tie and neckband, leaving me looking like a junior gymnast.

The fabric for the star print is an engineered print from Issa London. I had to take my time with careful print placement. I wanted to keep the brighter stars near my face and the darker navy on black toward my bottom.


The front of dress is all one piece with a funky looking pattern. This design will result in a bit of drape and bias in the skirt.


Because of this bias, I really recommend letting the skirt hang overnight or two before hemming. On my animal print version, I had to recruit a friend to help me trim the hem even.


Rachel Dress-1

Overall I am thrilled with the ease and speed of this dress. The style is also excellent. There are so many options for dresses and tops, making this pattern a real winner.



Posted in Life

Rugs are in. Furniture is back.


Just a quick update and reveal to show how our decorating is coming along and working with an interior designer. Our rugs came in from Boundless Rugs and we LOVE them. The balance of the two designs in the same space is perfect, and something I’d NEVER be able to decide on my own.


The size fits the room much better than our previous rugs. Below are the old rugs, on top of the new rug pads, just so you can see a size comparison. I donated the old Turkish wool rugs to friends, so no landfill for them. While our designer ultimately chose the final rug size, there are very handy guides online you can use to figure out what size works best for your space. What I’ve learned is most of people’s rugs and artwork is visually too small for the space it’s going in.

After about two months, we got our upholstered furniture back. Here’s a before and after of our club chairs. I got these second hand for $40 last winter. The new fabric is a ‘performance velvet’ — Crypton. That means (allegedly) I can easily wipe oil and dirt off of them, and they are a durable (and super lush) polyester that will go the distance. The fabric cost exactly twice as much as I wanted to pay, and I love them more than I thought I could.

As a reminder, here’s what the first floor looked like before (admitting that this isn’t a TRUE ‘before’. We knew most everything in here was going to change).


And now after, with our new rugs, upholstery and lamp donated from a fellow sewer in Connecticut.


I know the dining area isn’t showing, but I’m in the middle of installing lights inside the china cabinet, so that side ie a mess.


Our sectional was Jordan’s aunt’s from the mid 70s. We had it upholstered in a conveniently discontinued material. I say convenient, because it retailed for $176 a yard, and our designer was able to snag it for $35 a yard since it was no longer going to be stocked. We bought 25 yards and used ALL OF IT. We still needed to get some ‘velvet’ from Joann fabric at the last minute to finish the bottom off.


In between getting the rugs and furniture upholstered, I also bought dining room chairs (Elle Decor Holly Wire Chair) new via Staples. I chose Staples because if I hated them, there was someplace I could return easily return them. My friend Jen bought our old Broyhill chairs that were more suited to her modern farmouse style. My friend Mary came over and helped me assemble our new more contemporary style. Oh, while I am all for pre-owned whenever possible, we needed ten chairs which was much harder to find in that quantity.

These are copies of the Bertoia chairs from Knoll. These chairs were $100 each vs Knoll’s $832 PER CHAIR. I thought they were just nice wire chairs when I first saw them, but another designer friend Elizabeth let me know that they were inspired by the Bertoia chairs. I do like the chairs A LOT. My plan is to sew new pads for them in 2020 / 2021. Something with a punch of color and a little thicker pad.


That’s the overall on our living room / dining room design! After a year of living in our new place, it’s great to feel more settled and like we can have people over.

We’ll be working on getting some photos and art on the walls before the holidays. We have window shades on order to help with sun glare and add some privay. I do want to add an upholstered cornice to the windows, but the need for shades were an unexpected expense (the sofa is in direct sunlight), so a pretty (but purely decorative) cornice will have to wait a few years. I have a short but not inexpensive list of things to do in 2020 (changing first-floor door hardware, replacing dated sconces on the second floor, additional recessed lighting in the dining room), but am just going to enjoy having a place to sit down for now.

I’m overall happy we chose to work an interior designer. I have some more thoughts on this that I want to put in a separate post. Maybe that will help motivate me to take pictures after we have some stuff on the walls and our shades come in!

And now back to our regularly scheduled garment sewing content. I’ve just finished up a Burdstyle rain poncho! It needs photographing, but I’m anxious to show it soon.

Posted in Life

It’s Just a Rug, Right?

In my intro post for this series, I mentioned our goal was to go vintage, pre-owned whenever possible. So imagine my emotional letdown when I realized we were going to have to buy new rugs. Why? Because a 1982 open floor plan house isn’t suited in size and scale for rugs to work with our furniture and size of room. How is that?



  1. We wanted square and BIG I knew our lovely hand-me-down rugs from Turkey were too small (they were too small for some rooms in our old house built in the 30s). But, I didn’t realize that the rug sizes we needed to fill the space correctly were considered ‘extra large’ or ‘mansion rugs’. LOL at ‘mansion’. This is America! What was once a mansion rug is probably a standard size for much of this country.
  2. Square rugs rarely come standard in 10’x 10’or 12’x 12′. Period. I thought it would be easy, but even my searches online didn’t turn up much. My designer said at that size, we’d need to look at custom.
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Inspiration rugs, but none come in the sizes we need. So, we’d have had to get a 12×15 and cut it down.

We needed to choose the rug first because it’s easier to match colors to a rug than match a rug to your furniture. We eventually settled on using custom rug startup Boundless. And I got over ‘needing’ a wool rug after seeing it would cost several thousand for each and STILL need to be cut down to the right size. 

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Here’s our palette. I was SURE Jordan wouldn’t like it. But, he looked at it and said, “That looks great.” Honestly, that’s more progress than we made in nine months. Look, he doesn’t even think we need to paint since the walls *are* painted, that’s a story for another time.

Enter Boundless Rugs. Boundless has a set number of designs and 22 colors to chose from. I found them from much googling on custom size rugs. What’s great, is any of their nylon rugs are customizable by size and color. PERFECT.  Each rug was going to come in at our budget. As of this writing, they are going to add more designs. But, I couldn’t let FOMO stop me from moving forward with our project.

SamplesFrom Boundless, we ordered a FREE sample rug to see the colors and textures in real life. I actually put this on the ground, stood on it, propped my ankles on it. The pile is 1/2″ thick and far denser than I would have thought. The material is nylon which is stain resistant and durable for high traffic areas. I do wish there were more color choices, but they are also a ten- months-old start up! I’ll give them some time.


Here are our final rug choices: the Miles on the left, Hendry on the right. This is where I found the designer help extremely useful. She was able to pick two rugs that are cousins, not twins. She chose colors that worked well together too (we went through several tonal iterations before settling on this). I couldn’t even wrap my mind around getting rugs that had a print and needed to be in the same room. She showed us these two and we were sold.


Boundless was fantastic to work with. They digitally edited the rug so we could see how they would look in the dimensions we needed. They also made some tweaks to the design to fit our space and our designer’s vision. For the Miles above, they showed several iterations until it worked for us. For the Hendry below, they added an additional repeat of the design, keeping the same scale (we had the option of enlarging the print for a more bold look too).


The rugs are milled in the US and will arrive in a few months. I’ll check back in when they get here! But, so far, I think Boundless is a great option if you have odd sizes. Or need specific colors. I would of course prefer wool vs nylon, but I don’t have $8,000 for rugs, lol.

Next… Upholstery. Now that the rugs are chosen, we can actually move on to FABRICS!

Posted in sewing

Cashmerette Holyoke: Strappy, swishy maxi dress

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Making the Cashmerette Holyoke Dress was an easy decision for me. I was lucky enough to model the pattern envelope. When I tried it on the first time, I knew I had the fabric and the complete and total will to sew it up.

Image from Cashmerette Website

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My fabric is a cotton lawn purchased on our trip to San Francisco in 2018. Because the fabric is see through, I underlined the bodice with cotton batiste  and lined the skirt with Bemberg rayon lining.

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If you find that you need to line the skirt, I’d recommend sewing the lining first, attaching it to the front facing. You’ll need to remove that 1.5″ or so of facing from your lining. It went smoothly and give the skirt a wonderful structure while keeping it airy. I did choose to omit the pockets.

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I sewed a size 14 E/F which corresponds to my bust measurements and graded to a 16 at the hip. I did need to shorten the straps about 1/2″ to help with bra coverage and shoulder strap slipping. There’s also ZERO bust gaping.

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Jenny, the owner of Cashmerette has another winner on her hands.

Posted in Life

Working With an Interior Designer

Since I lived in one home the last 15 years, it hadn’t occurred to me that my furniture might not ‘work’ in a new home. Our rugs were the wrong size, we went from two living room type spaces to one, and I realized just how much of what we had came out of my parent’s house.

I never thought we’d want to work with an interior designer. I think I have a pretty good eye and decent taste. But, I found after we moved into a new place together that Jordan and I couldn’t agree on anything. In addition to not liking the same things, I learned Jordan couldn’t “see” something. I.E. I bought home two chairs to be reupholstered, and he was solely focused on how ugly the fabric was. He just could not see the lines. I realized I got totally overwhelmed by choice and was best when given parameters of what to look for or limited options. I also just really dislike trying to mix prints, patterns and colors. I don’t think it’s my forte. I like how things look when it’s all done, but I don’t’ find it interesting to put together for myself (or quite frankly with other people).

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I decided to blog this process because I had NO idea what to expect and thought it might be helpful for others who are considering hiring a designer. Originally, I thought interior designers were for rich people in fancy houses. But, I asked what people on Instagram and got a lot of support for working with a designer at any budget, that I decided to go for it.

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Listing Photo of Living Room

Enter our **designer. I selected our designer for a couple of reasons. I wanted to work with someone local, she had a great eye from what I saw on her IG, she had an actual working website that was extremely well written, she was very responsive to my initial email, and we got along well. Full disclosure: I went out of my way to make sure African Americans were heavily represented in the pool of people I reached out to and hopefully also lived in Baltimore City limits. I can talk more about that in another post.


What came with us after our moving purge

First Steps:

The Designer had Jordan and I create a joint Pinterest board with rooms and details we liked. As expected, we were all over the place. He liked dark rooms I’d liken to a wooden clad games room. I liked bright colors and prints and a LOT of pink.

Before we started working with our designer, I replaced the dining room light with that modern sputnik influenced fixture. I also bought the Acacia wood table (seats up to 10) and china cabinet, but the dining chairs belonged to my parents. Rugs are 30+ years old from my parents, sectional was in our basement and belonged to Jordan’s aunt from 1976, yellow floral chairs from a second hand shop.

Current state of living / dining room

Our main goal is to get our living room and dining room set up. We wanted to reuse as much furniture as possible, buy vintage and recover whenever we could and keep costs under budget. We can’t afford to do EVERYTHING decorwise we want in these spaces, so we had to focus this year on what the most important things were: recovering furniture, and getting rugs that fit– with the right size and scale. Yes, we need to paint, get new dining room chairs, and do ‘something’ about our mirror heavy / dated fireplace unit. But, those things will have to wait until 2020 or even 2021.

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So, I’ll stop here. Next update — picking rugs or what I call, “The one thing I knew I needed help with.”

**I’m choosing not to use our Designer’s name until after the project is completed.