Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 6 – The Leggings

Leggings are everywhere. They come in all lengths – knee, calf and ankle. They come in all colours and patterns and fabrics. They are being worn by everyone. The young and the old. The skinnies and the curvies. Women and yes, even men. Come on now, you know some of those male skinny jeans be straight up leggings. If a man gotta be jumping up and down to get in his skinny pants, chances are they’re too tight to still be called pants. Don’t play you aint know. 

In my house, leggings have been a staple for YEARS. My mom is without a doubt The Leggings Queen. She probably owns 40 pairs. No joke. Whenever we went on our yearly summer vacations to my aunt in NY, you can be sure my mom bought at least 3 new pairs of leggings for herself, as well as for my sister and I. So very easily, any of the females in my house had about 10 pairs in circulation at any given time.

Why so many? Two reasons really.  Both are essentially a kind of geographic location/ culture thing.

In Barbados, as in any other tropical or hot location, there be bugs that like to snack on your blood and feast on your skin and make you totally miserable – mosquitoes and sand flies are the primary culprits (and sand flies are without a doubt the worse!). Some people, like those on my mother’s side of the family, tend to be extremely bite prone (a trait both my sister and I were blessed with) and leggings are the easiest way to add extra protection to your poor legs after you have been bathed in insect repellent.

The other reason is that in Barbados, as children, we were raised with the concept of having specific clothes to suit what you have to do and where you have to go. So you would have your school clothes (or work clothes for adults), church clothes, out clothes, and home clothes. Each of these were separate and distinct from each other, so you would never wear your out clothes to church or vice versa and your school clothes were only for school and school activities. Yeah, so trying to sneak and wear your church shoes to school because you somehow damaged your school shoes and hadn’t told your mother yet, was a sure-fire way to get some punishment. Home clothes were what you wore on evenings when you came home from school and on weekends, when you were home and didn’t have any outing or church to go to. Both out clothes and church clothes were your very best clothes, with church clothes being those which were decent and respectful enough to be worn into the House of God and out clothes being those you wore to parties and fairs and general fancy outings with family and friends.

Leggings were mostly classed as home clothes for my sister and I. But we had specific leggings that were to be worn at home and then specific leggings that were to be worn to the dance classes we both did at Erdiston Primary (and those she later wore when she was going to Dance Strides Academy on evenings). These two sets of leggings were never to be confused, as the dance leggings were the “good leggings”. Although dance tights could be retired to home clothes, just like out clothes, when they started to lose their shine or got old (and old clothes in my childhood years had to be like 3 or more years old to count as old and be worn at home). 

As I got older, especially during my image conscious teenage years, big tees and leggings became a staple, for home and for out. This is also true now, even though I’m a less image conscious adult, as you can look in my wardrobe and actually count 20 pairs of leggings. Some are way old, like twelve years old and they still look good enough to be risked worn on a supermarket or mall run. Some are newer, but not nearly as durable or of a high quality as my old faithfuls and they already need replacing because of misshapen waistbands, shorn seams or long ugly runs, which is how I ended up adding leggings on to my sewing wishlist.

Abbey 3.0 Sewing Wishlist Item 6

Burda has a really nice leggings pattern called Carol that sells for $2 and the instructions seem pretty simple and easy to follow. Seriously, US $2!!! Most leggings retail above $18. Even adding the cost of fabric, you can still make your own for less than retail. #justsaying But I was being a bit defiant and wanted to do my own thing and copy an old favourite leggings to make my new one.

Overall, it didn’t take very long to make my new Black Skinnies made with this beautiful stretch jeans fabric I found at Abed’s… sorry, I really can’t stand the word “jeggings”. At most, I’d estimate an hour and a half, and most of that time was spent tracing and cutting. I was also being very lazy and didn’t want to go through the hassle of cutting a waist band, so I used 3-inch wide elastic instead. Yes, I know. Very lazy indeed. Of course, I had to add pockets too. What good is any skirt or pants without pockets?

I’m comfortable with the results for now, but I know I’m going to tackle this leggings project again with the same fabric but using the Carol pattern and added all the fancy topstitching and back pockets like real jeans leggings. I’m not very pleased with how the crotch came out, but that area will almost always be fully covered by a top, so I won’t have to be too paranoid that someone may notice the flaws.

Abbey 3.0 Sewing Birthday Challenge Status: Item 6 Completed!

PS: I even found a website that ONLY SELLS LEGGINGS!! It’s a Leggings Superstore, if ya please… Just had to share!

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 4 – The Wrap Dress

I have always loved a wrap dress. It always seems to make its wearer look so elegant and lady-like, when it fits well that is. I have owned several wrap tops and dress, but they were all off-the-rack and often left me very self conscious because the wrap portion would never stay where I wanted it to or stay as wrapped as it should be.

So, a wrap dress was a no-brainer addition to the Abbey 3.0 Wishlist. The real decision time came when I needed to choose the style. Real or faux wrap? Full wrap or just bodice? Original wrap or convertible/ infinity wrap? And it didn’t help that inspiration was abundant.

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Inspiration - Item 4 Wrap Dresses

  1. Burdastyle – Wrap Dress Plus Size 02/2011 #139
  2. I Heart Jenny’s Art – Dita Von Teese Faux Wrap Dress 
  3. IGIGI by Yuliya Requel – Isabella Wrap Dress
  4. Lirola – Wrap Dress with Flutter Sleeves
  5. Monif C – Marilyn Two Toned Ruched Convertible Dress
  6. Ashley Stewart – 10 Way Dress

Now, I had already decided that whichever style I choose, I was going to wear a wrap dress for my birthday dinner. So I wanted the style to be easy to achieve and quick to make. That’s how I finally chose to do an infinity dress, for which you can great construction ideas and tutorials here and here

Introducing the Berry Birthday Infinity Wrap Dress:

Abbey 3.0 Birthday Sewing Challenge - Wrap Dress

An infinity or convertible dress (either name is correct) is essentially one of the easiest and quickest dresses to make as it is basically only a skirt with two very long pieces of fabric for straps. Honestly, the whole process took about 3 hours, most of which was spent meticulously drawing and cutting. I can’t seem to cut straight without guidelines and even then… smh… it’s so sad really… and time-consuming…

Most of the infinity dresses that I’ve seen (retail and DIY) were made using circle skirts and I really need to try those at another time to figure out which size circle (i.e. half, quarter or three-quarter) I really like first before I incorporate any circle skirts into my wardrobe. Yup, another sewing project for another time. So I settled on using my faithful grey maxi A-line skirt as the pattern, which I noticed was a common design on the original wrap style dresses. I added a small waistband about 3 inches wide and 1 inch less in length than my waist measurement so it would fit snugly.

I’m not going to lie. The straps were a pain to cut and then manage during the actual sewing process.  But I got through thanks to several pins in strategic places along the waistline and by folding up the straps so they wouldn’t be so long to possibly get in the way while I was at the machine. My straps were about 14 inches wide by 120 inches long, and they overlapped each other 4 inches at centre front, so I wouldn’t have any wardrobe malfunctions or suffer from cleavage display overload.

Abbey 3.0 Birthday Sewing Challenge - Wrap Dress

I love my new dress, but there are a few things I would like to change:

  • Most of the sewing bloggers recommend making the straps as long as one and a half times your height. I’m thinking that works out really well for any one with boobs in size D cup and below. As I’m not that fortunate to be small chested, I believe that making the straps twice or even two and a half times as long as your height measurement would help in ensuring that your goodies are securely wrapped up.
  • Again, because of the bust, some kind of under top, like a tube or cami, is necessary to add some security and to help hide your bra at the back and under your armpit. I had to ask Mr. AD to help tug and pull the straps, especially in the back. Maybe next time I will sew a tube top straight unto the skirt and save me the stress. All night at dinner, I kept thinking that my bra was showing. Even though it wasn’t. 
  • Although this particular wrap was the look I was going for, I need to devote some Monif C YouTube time to watch some of the other ways this dress can be styled
  • My skirt is too short. I’d prefer if covered most of my feet when I’m wearing heels and just had the toes peeking out. The base pattern skirt fits me at my ankles, but it is worn just above my hips. I’m thinking next time to add at least 4 inches to the hem of that pattern to account for raising the skirt to my waist.

Abbey 3.0 Sewing Birthday Challenge Status: Item 4 Completed!

And I joined my first link party…. which you can check out at The Train To Crazy.

P.S. For those who are wondering. No I haven’t skipped out Items 2 & 3. Well, not really. I just don’t have any pics to put up yet. So there’s going to be some backdated posts for them. Apologies in advance.

Update: Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Items 2 and 3 have been posted!

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 2 – The Peplum Top

Yup, I know peplums are everywhere, but I believe they are one of the best additions to a woman’s wardrobe arsenal, simply because peplums create the illusion of that sexy hourglass shape! Peplums add fullness to your hips and help to make your waist look smaller. According to all the fashion mags, they are best worn with  straight-legged pants (trousers or leggings or jeans) or knee-length pencil skirts.

All over the web I’ve found some great peplum tops worn by some beautiful ladies who inspired all shades of green envy with how flawlessly stylish they looked in their peplum outfits:

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 2 Inspiration

  1. BurdaStyle Peplum Top 08/2012 #113 made me fall in love with yellow AND to even like the high-low hem trend
  2. Adventures in Dressmaking – Springy Seersucker Peplum Tank sealed the deal on how cute yellow peplum tops are!
  3. Jorth – Vogue #8815 Peplum Top with its fantastic print and double-tiered peplum that didn’t even look little girlish
  4. Craft Habit – Peplum Top T-Shirt Upcycle was the first tee based peplum tutorial I ever saw and was really the initial idea that brought my attention to the DIY peplum top possibility
  5. So Zo, What Do You Know – Jersey Peplum Top used jersey fabric with three-quarter sleeves AND a slight high-low hem
  6. Love Maegen – Peplum T-Shirt DIY made the whole idea seem to freaking effortless! This lady is just rocking this white peplum tee !

With so much inspiration, of course, the peplum top made it on my birthday sewing wishlist! I mean, it just looks so elegant and classy.

So in an effort to not spend more money that I really can’t afford to spend on fabric right now, I tried the t-shirt to peplum top refashion for which the sew-inclined bloggers have several tutorials to help you. I bought this really nice purple baby tee when Mr. AD and I were cruising last year, which wasn’t the most flattering around the midsection but I still loved it. So when the peplum top want graduated into a need over the summer, I figured I would use this top as the base. I searched around my wardrobe for a XXL purple tee shirt and made the circle peplum part using the only shirt I could find that was as close to the same shade of purple as the baby tee.

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 2

It came out okay-ish. But I’m not really happy with the result. The two purples are not as complimentary as I was envisioning for one thing. Then with my short torso and overall stumpiness (is that a word?), I definitely needed to make the peplum part much longer to “elongate my torso” and especially as it really wasn’t covering the lower goodies as I would have liked without constant tugging. Lately, I’m also finding that  the cap sleeves on the ladies fitted tees are starting to bother me because they seem so short and picky in photos, making your arms look even chunkier than they really are and they don’t help to flatter a larger bust at all. Not even wearing a belt was pleasing to my eye…

So yeah, this is now a home shirt. 😦 Oh and please forgive the shine showing through from my bra; it was a very poor choice to model in, but I needed pics.

For this particular sewing project, I also learnt the most important thing to note when making a standard circle bottoms from knit material. Since you have to cut the fabric on the bias to create the circle shape, you need to reduce your waist measurement about 2-4 inches depending on the stretch of the material you are using. If not, when you are sewing, you will find that your peplum waist will be bigger than the waist of your shirt or skirt at the point of join.

Abbey 3.0 Sewing Wishlist Status: Item 2 Epic Fail. I’m definitely going to have to do another peplum project. I will not let this one defeat me.

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 1 – The Maxi Dress

I started the ball rolling for the Abbey 3.0 Birthday Sewing Challenge with The Maxi Dress. As a wardrobe staple, it is a must sew, just for its simplicity and its elegance. It can be worn daytime or night time. It can be worn during the cool spring or the hot summer. It can be worn with a cardigan to keep it casual or with a jacket to look more fancy, formal or even work-appropriate. And as long as it is designed to suit your body shape, it can be most flattering. These were some of my inspirations for my maxi dress:

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 1 Inspiration

  1. Mimi G. – T-shirt Maxi Dress is just GORGEOUS!! BTW… Mimi is simply freaking AWESOME!!
  2. At Second Street – Maxi Dress Kalleen’s dress is made with a simple raglan tee pattern with elasticized neck and sleeves
  3. Sweet Verbena – Boho Maxi Dress is probably the most viral maxi dress tutorial online!
  4. Made It On A Monday – Sunshine Poured Out Maxi Dress is so cute, even maternity-sized!

And don’t even get me started on all those striped and chevron maxi dress that were all the rage this year!!! I so gotta make one of those too! But I digress…

Continue reading

Abbey 3.0 Birthday Sewing Challenge

Please wait. Abbey Version 3.0 is downloading…

Yup… In 17 days I will be 30 years old. THIRTY. And to celebrate I have committed myself to my own Me Made Challenge.

I want to sew at least eight (8) wardrobe pieces for myself for my 30th birthday. That’s the plan. I figure that I really need to do some actual functional stuff for me that I like and what better reason than my birthday right?

So here’s my birthday sewing wishlist:

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist

I know that the list is a bit ambitious, especially with me teaching a class 2 nights a week, but I’m going to try to tackle if not finish them all.

Wish me luck! It’s going to be a busy sewing month! So click on the button over there on the right side for the rest of this birthday adventure!