nora shirtdress pattern review

Warning – many, MANY photos ahead!

I was so thrilled to be selected as a pattern tester for the gorgeous Nora Shirtdress from The Snacky Seamstress. I had seen her lovely versions of this pattern on Instagram and applied right when I saw she was looking for volunteers to sew it up!

I have never tested a pattern before so I wasn’t sure if I would get picked. I was nervous to apply, but I had to give it a go because this pattern ticks all of my style boxes – fitted bodice, full skirt, and retro flair!

I knew if I didn’t get picked I was going to buy this pattern once it was released – so either way this dress was in my future πŸ™‚

When I got the email confirming I was among the girls selected, I was so excited! We had three weeks to sew it up and provide feedback on the pattern. But before I could even think about sewing, I had to choose the right fabric!

I had picked up this amazing Tula Pink fabric from Sewfisticated Fabrics about a year and a half ago. It was only $2.99 a yard, so I grabbed four yards. Then, it sat in my stash just waiting for the perfect project – and this was it!

The print has birds, ships, stars, and moons. Honestly, not the fabric I typically go for! But it was so unique and I just adored the color combo.

I knew this was going to require specific pattern placement to get a professional result. I’m still new to pattern matching, so I definitely needed to do some careful planning!

I chose to focus on the placement of the back piece as well as the center front, ignoring the side seams (that area will be hidden by my arms most of the time anyway!). On my front bodice piece, I drew a dotted line 5/8″ away from the edge to account for my seam allowance. This line was then matched up with the area that I wanted to be my center front. You can see where I am pointing below – this is the center of the print, so it is where I have placed that dotted line.

To get a perfect match on the other half of the bodice, I flipped the first piece over and lined it up on the fabric, making sure the print matched in all areas before cutting it out.

The center back was a lot easier since there is no back seam. I folded my fabric along the center of the design, and lined it up with the edge of the back pattern piece. I did the same for the top yoke and the collar:

The bodice was easy to sew with one exception – attaching the sleeves to the front and back pieces! There is a pretty sharp corner that you have to sew and it is quite awkward. Although the directions were clear, I found myself advancing one stitch at a time on my machine so I wouldn’t screw it up. That corner was definitely quite fiddly!

When I finished, I had a bit of pucker on the sleeve in that area (see image below). I wasn’t really sure how to fix that (Did I have to re-distribute the sleeve fabric along the vertical seam? Or maybe round the corner?), so I emailed Sarah – the girl who designed the pattern. She assured me that once I clipped the seam and pressed that corner the pucker would be gone – and she was right! Crisis averted!

To match the front and back seams on the skirt, I did the same thing as on the bodice – first marking the seam allowance, then lining that up with the center of the print.

It was SOOOO satisfying to iron this part because the seam allowance matched up so perfectly on the inside. (I can’t believe I just said that, because I usually hate ironing while sewing!)

The pattern matching didn’t stop there – surprisingly, I was also able to match up each panel of the skirt to the pocket! I did have to take in the width of the pocket by about one inch to make it work, but it was worth it. The pattern is drafted with large pockets anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal to lose that inch.

I know that I am the ONLY one who will ever know (well, now you guys too), since it is not really noticeable – even when I have my hands are in my pockets.

I wish I had just another few inches of fabric so I could plan out the waistband better, but it was either that or shorten the skirt a bit. I was already at the verrrrry edge of my yardage with only a centimeter to spare! I opted for the longer skirt and just did what I could for the waistband.

My only other hurdle I had to overcome (in addition to that darn corner and all of the print matching) was the zipper. I have sewn many dresses over the years, but have only used invisible zippers. This dress pattern, however, called for a lapped zip. I considered just going for an invisible zipper anyway, but since I was testing the pattern I figured it was only fair to sew it up as intended.

I read the instructions like 5 times (which were VERY well explained, by the way), and watched a few tutorials on YouTube. I tried on the dress before installing the zipper, and for some reason I panicked thinking that it was going to be too tight. I decided to use a 1/2″ seam allowance instead of 5/8″ to be on the safe side. When I finished the zipper I was SO happy with how it came out (my first one, yay!) and ignored the fact that the change in seam allowance caused the print to shift slightly in the center.

But then I tried it on and it was slightly too big! Augh! I could have gone with the 5/8″ allowance after all and would have had everything perfectly aligned. Plus it would’ve fit me better.

There was NO WAY that I was going to rip out that beautifully installed zipper to do it again, so I will just have to live with it. No big deal πŸ™‚

The collar/lapel has a facing that goes all the way down to the waist seam, so everything inside is neat and tidy:

Overall, I adore the Nora Shirtdress pattern! I already went shopping for fabric so I can make more – including two for my gal Sara from In a Nutshell!

If you sew, I definitely recommend trying out this pattern. You will be so happy you did!

a bit batty

Halloween is my favorite holiday, so when I saw this sweater on sale at Modern Millie this summer, I knew I had to snatch it up!

I adore the bold contrast of the black, white, and grey – and the stripes on the sleeve git it a bit of a 70s/80s(?) vibe.

This sweater is one of the softest things I own. The only negative is that it’s dry clean only! Augh!! Is there any way around this? If you know of a washer setting that will allow me to safely clean this at home please leave a comment. I couldn’t imagine having to pay to get this professionally cleaned each time I wear it!

I paired this sweater with one of my favorite skirts. I got it AGES ago from Macy’s (I think the brand is Marilyn Monroe?). It is the perfect thick stretchy material with a beautiful shape and a fun print.

It also felt like the right time to bust out this skeleton hand hair clip, which I purchased from Amazon.

Hope you are having an amazing weekend!

brinstar soda shop – 1950s metroid cosplay

I am SO excited to share this cosplay with you!

Those of you who follow me on Instagram have probably already seen this dress, but now I FINALLY get to discuss the story behind it, as well as how I created some of the different pieces.

When it comes to cosplay, there are two things I love doing:
– Recreating a costume as accurately as I can, down to every last detail.
– Completely reimagining the character into something clever and unique.

This cosplay is definitely the latter! Some of my past costumes in this category include a female version of Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), a 1920s Zelda (Princess Zelda Fitzgerald! lol), 1940s Mario, etc. I have been loving doing the decade-specific versions of different characters, so for this one I went with my favorite – the 1950s!

One of my favorite video games growing up (and to this day as well!) is Metroid. The main character, Samus, is a galactic bounty hunter. She typically wears this awesome yellow, orange, and red armor (the Varia Suit) and can morph into a small ball. I know that it’s not the best description of this AMAZING heroine, but this post is focused on my cosplay, and not the game. But trust me – you should definitely play it! My favorite is probably Metroid: Samus Returns for 3DS, which is basically an amped up version of the Game Boy game.

Image Source
Image Source

For the dress itself, I knew I wanted a pattern with puffed sleeves. I considered making them REAAAAAALLLY big to mimic the armor, but I still wanted this to seem like a potentially wearable 1950s dress.

Simplicity 8691 was already in my stash (although I have it as Sew Chic ln1312) and it had the sleeves I was looking for, along with some other great bodice details.

Since Samus’s chest armor is red, it was easy to just cut the bust pieces from shiny red fabric. (All of the fabric I used is from Sewfisticated Fabrics in Somerville, and I paid $3.99 per yard.) I did, however, have to add some seams in the back so I could have red there too. You can see the back shot in the first photo at the beginning of this post.

From there, I tried to do my best to interpret other elements of her armor into the dress, color blocking where necessary.

I actually created the design long before I decided to sew it. Here is the original post, from August 2019:

To represent her arm cannon, I simply went with a turquoise glove. The other arm has an orange glove – I was SO happy I was able to get an almost perfect color match to the fabric I was using! Both gloves were ordered on Amazon.

I added the green trim along the bustline and at the top of each pocket as a nod to her green lights.

One of my favorite elements to create for this costume was the headpiece! To avoid wearing a massive helmet (not very period-appropriate for a lady the 50s!) I made a custom half-hat fascinator to top off the look!

I used some thick wire to create the frame, using my own head as a mold as I shaped it. I made it slightly loose, knowing that once I was wearing the wig my head would be a bit larger.

Once the frame was completed I used hot glue to adhere the felt, stretching it a bit as I went. Then, I cut out some Screw Attack logo shapes and circles to adhere on each side.

To finish it up, I added green tulle (in the shape of Samus’s iconic visor!) as well as four bobby pins to help me secure it to the wig.

Image Source

Although Samus wears orange armored boots with her costume, I couldn’t help but tie in some more of the yellow color with these adorable shoes! They are from Lulu Hun, and I got them from a Collectif sale earlier this year.

The last detail was the Arm Cannon. Although we have the Game Stop replica Arm Cannon, it didn’t seem to fit with the whole 1950s thing. So, I opted to give a nod to the cannon with a teal glove. I got a pair of teal gloves and a pair of orange ones from Amazon. I was SO happy with how well the orange matched the fabric of my dress. Score!

The first time I wore this costume was at PAX East 2020 (only a week before everything shut down due to COVID-19). I was pleasantly surprised with how much love it received! I wasn’t sure if it was obvious enough, but people seemed to figure it out that it was Samus πŸ™‚

The second time I wore it was for a fun video project. One of the people who spotted me at PAX was Dan Cattell, who does 2D pixel cosplay. He invited me to join a Metroid Cosplay group, and to celebrate the anniversary of the game’s release we put together a fun video! Here is my contribution, titled “Brinstar Soda Shop”:

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A Metroid fan should be able to spot the references in the menu as well as the actual drink I sip from in the video. (A keen eye may also spot Dave’s hand cameo!)

Well, I think that just about does it!

pax east 2019 + simplicity1419

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I feel like this whole blog has become me trying to catch up on posting old photos/outfits/sewing projects. But out of all of them, this one is by FAR the oldest!

Although the photos were just taken a little over a year ago (haha, just…), I made this dress many years prior (maybe 2014?). It was actually the first garment I ever sewed for myself that wasn’t a costume.

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the freja dress + pattern review

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I know, it’s been a million years since I have posted. I think that’s just how it’s going to be. I am too busy to update as regularly as I used to!

I have quite a few sewing projects to share, starting with this adorable Freja Dress! The pattern is from Simply Sewing Magazine, a UK publication. I got the pattern for free from last year’s #patternswap19 on IG, and I can’t believe it took me this long to finally make it!

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the christmas dress!

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Or more accurately, the Christmas dress that almost didn’t get made.

Let’s start from the beginning. Around 3 years ago I bought the most ADORABLE reindeer cocktail party fabric from Joann’s along with a bolt of lining fabric with the intention of making a Christmas dress that year. Well, if you know me, you know how I procrastinate so it’s probably no surprise that I didn’t make one.

Fast forward to last year. Dave and I were planning on having friends over for Christmas, so I knew it would be the best opportunity to grab that fabric out of the closet and make the most perfect dress.

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an apple a day

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Last week, Dave and I met Sara and Cody to go apple picking…because that’s just what you do in the fall in New England. I LOOOOOOVE apples, so I knew this would be the best opportunity to get a bunch of fruit for snacking and baking.

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, I at least know I won’t be sick for the next few weeks!

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