Author Archives: jenniferrzasa

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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I was so proud of it then, and I am still thrilled every time I put it on! I love the sweet Peter Pan collar, little cap sleeves, and of course the crazy Nintendo fabric.

Little did I know back then that the pattern I used, Simplicity 1419, would become a favorite and used for 5 other dresses in my wardrobe!

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Unfortunately, this pattern is now out of print – I better treat her well!

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To accompany the dress, I made a fun little Bullet Bill purse by sewing a chain onto a Nintendo DS case. It was such a quick and easy project, and I think it adds SO much to the outfit!

This is not the first time I used a DS case as a purse. I’m hoping to write a post soon featuring an old cosplay that never made it to the blog. It features a different, yet equally adorable Nintendo icon.

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I wore this dress to PAX East 2019 for our non-cosplay day. I have no idea how people go to these shows for multiple days and wear a costume each time. Having to constantly worry that your makeup is fine, nothing is falling off, you didn’t leave your prop in a booth somewhere, and stopping every two minutes for photos is exhausting!

(Although even in this outfit, I got stopped a few times for photos! SO many people loved this dress!)

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bird dress + b6674 pattern review

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This dress!!

I have to say, between this dress and my last sewing project, I hope you can tell I have been trying to break out of my comfort zone! In the past, I almost exclusively sewed fitted bodices with gathered skirts and side seam pockets, or costumes 🙂

 

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However, this dress (the lovely Butterick 6674) features princess seams, patch pockets, sash, AND a button placket!

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I have had a fear of buttons for the longest time (something about the button hole thingy intimidates me), so my sister-in-law recommended I try the plastic popper fasteners.

MY LIFE HAS FOREVER CHANGED.

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These things are amazing. I got a KAM Snaps kit off of Amazon and they couldn’t be easier to install!

This pattern was really easy to sew, however it ended up around 2 inches too big in my waist and bust. Why do the Big 4 patterns always have so much ease? I sewed a size 8 but definitely could have gone with the 6. By the time I realized it was too big, the dress was 80% finished.

The RIGHT way to adjust at this point would be to rip open the seams, but I had already finished everything so neatly inside the garment! I also painstakenly sewed the armhole and neckline bias binding by hand with invisible stitches. I was not about to go ripping that out! (I know there is a lesson here about making a toile/muslin before jumping into the fabric that you have been hoarding for a year, but I digress…)

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Instead, I just gathered up the extra fabric in the back and sewed a seam down the middle. It actually looks pretty good, but I was sad to see the clean finish of a single-piece back bodice disappear. I decided not to trim off the extra fabric – if I gain weight I can simply rip out the seam and continue to enjoy the dress in a new larger size!

I had some leftover scraps so I went ahead and made a matching mask. Man, once we are allowed back to school I am going to have the best matching dress/mask wardrobe!

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I already have plans to sew this beauty in another fabric (check my IG for a sneak peek!), and am almost done sewing the tote bag pattern that came with B6674. Stay tuned! 🙂

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 pattern comes with two options: a high-waisted skirt and a pinafore dress (you simply add the bib and straps). I KNEW I had to go for the pinafore, and I had some thin stretch denim in my stash just waiting to be used. A match made in heaven!

Based on my measurements, I would be a size 8 – but I saw how loose the dress looked on the model and assumed there would be more built-in ease than I would like. I went with a size 6, and I am so glad I did! I had to take it in even more at the waist, so I think had there been a size 4 option, it would be the best fit for me.

I did make some adjustments, the first being a redrafted neckline. I thought the straight-across neckline was a bit too apron-y, and you can never go wrong with a simple sweetheart shape. (to be honest, though, I still get some apron vibes from this dress…)

I also interfaced the bodice facing and the waistband facing, even though the pattern didn’t call for it. You may also notice that I omitted the front seam and just cut that piece on the fold of the fabric.

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Next came a minor bodice adjustment. It was a bit too long for me, so I had to shorten the bib by about half an inch. Looking back, I think I shortened it a little too much since now it seems as though the darts aren’t quite hitting me in the correct spot. Or, it’s possible that I just needed to make the straps a little higher to hike up the whole dress.

Another thing you can see in the photo below is my poor topstitching at the lower waist. I was so unhappy with it, that I put off doing the topstitching at the upper waist, and then completely forgot to finish it! I would probably prefer no topstitching at all, but as you can see in the following pic, it is what is holding down the waist facing.

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My final adjustment was done to the pockets, which I ended up leaving off of the dress completely in the end (again, apron vibes). But I’ll show you just in case you end up sewing this pattern – it’s a good tip I promise!

To help get perfectly rounded pocket corners, I basted close to the edge and pulled the bobbin thread to gather it up a bit. This made it SO much easier to get a nice rounded shape, which was then pressed with an iron.

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This was a really easy pattern to sew and I think it can be handled by an advanced beginner. That being said, there were a few parts of the instructions which I personally found confusing. There weren’t many photos in the instructions and some things were worded in a misleading way. I kind of ditched them partway through since the basics (sewing darts, inserting straps, inserting a zipper, etc) are easy enough to do without instructions anyway. However, a novice beginner won’t have that experience and therefore may struggle a bit.

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I just LOVE the criss-cross straps! ❤️

This will be a great dress throughout the summer, and I can layer it with tights and long-sleeves for the fall.

One more thing to note: It was super sunny when I took these photos, and the color of the denim ended up looking oddly bright. Keep scrolling to see a more accurate representation of the color on the dress form 🙂

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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.

I decided to use Butterick 4512, which is a re-release of a 1957 pattern:

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View C was calling my name!

(note: I swapped out the circle skirt for a gathered skirt, and added pockets)

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Although I planned this project a good 2 weeks in advance, in typical Jen style I didn’t start sewing until the morning of the party.

I was running into trouble with the fit from the get-go, partly because I re-drafted the back to come up a bit higher (I think if I were to make this pattern again, I would bring it up even higher to accommodate a bra and maybe add some boning).

Thankfully, with a little finagling, I was able to get it to work.

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Then, we got to my least favorite part of sewing: zipper installation. And at this point guests were due to arrive in about an hour. Unfortunately, as I was putting it in I sewed a little too close to the teeth of the invisible zipper, making it so I couldn’t zip it up.

I assessed the time it would take to rip out the zipper, re-do it, then hem the full skirt, and decided it just wasn’t going to happen. I threw on my handmade Christmas dress from the previous year, and put my beautiful 90% completed dress onto the dress form. If I couldn’t wear it, I could at least display it, right?

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Okay, now fast forward one more time to this year. Dave and I were once again throwing a Christmas party so I took the unfinished dress out of the closet and was excited to finally fix that zipper so I could wear it.

Guess when I started working on it…

…That’s right! The morning of the party! But this time it would be easy since it was almost finished, right? Well, I didn’t consider that since last year I gained around an inch and a half in my waist. I had to unpick the side seams and try to re-fit the entire bodice and lining. There was barely enough fabric to make it work, and when I was done the zipper was pulling and the back looked terrible.

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I’ve watched enough episodes of Project Runway to know that when part of your garment looks bad, you simply cover it up. I hemmed the dress and threw on a cardigan literally minutes before guests arrived, and I have to admit, it was a pretty cute look 🙂

Our party was a week before Christmas, so that actually gave me time to properly fix and finish the dress before we went to see my in-laws in NJ. I didn’t have time to tack down the lining before the party, so I was able to sew in some cups so I wouldn’t have to worry about a bra. I also fixed the pulling near the zipper, with the narrowest seam allowance possible without it falling apart.

I considered shortening the torso (it’s about an inch too long for me), but I honestly didn’t want to mess around with the dress anymore. At that point, I called it done! 🙂

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Sorry for such a long story! I really love how it came out, despite my issues.

I’m hoping to post again soon, with the tale of my New Year’s Eve dress (though I’m sure you can guess how that went! lol!)

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Dress: made by me 🙂 (Butterick B4512 pattern and fabric from Joann Fabrics)
Belt: borrowed from another dress
Tights
: Primark
Shoes:  B.A.I.T. Black Roni Heel via Modern Millie Shop
Hair Accessory: made by me 🙂 (I glued a plastic sprig to a hair clip)
Petticoat: Amazon

but she won’t discover that it’s him…

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…’til chapter three!

Beauty and the Beast has always been my FAVORITE Disney movie! I have watched it so many times that most of it is memorized, and I have even seen the Broadway play multiple times. Plus, the recent(ish) live action movie was surprisingly good!

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I’m not sure why I always connected with her. Maybe because she was intelligent and spoke her mind? Maybe because she wasn’t born into royalty and thus more relatable? Or it could simply be that she was the only Disney princess I knew with brown hair like me 🙂

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This dress was a costume I sewed AGES ago – one of my firsts. I made it out of a bedsheet from Walmart and used iron-on hem tape since I didn’t know how to sew a proper hem. It doesn’t really fit great and the zipper is kind of a mess, but I was always proud of it and have worn it many times. Since I teach elementary school, it’s a good go-to costume for Halloween at work.

When a friend of mine was having a Disney costume party for her birthday in September, this again became the obvious choice. I no longer have the same locks as my favorite heroine, but I think I still can pull off the look 😉

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I paired my dress/apron with simple flats as well as a Beauty and the Beast book purse and a rose pin from Disney.

Hope this inspires you for Halloween! (ps, this is not my costume for this year. I’ll share photos of my actual outfit soon!)

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Dress and Apron: made by me 🙂
Blouse: Candie’s via Kohl’s
ShoesJessica Simpson Mandayss Ballet Flat via Amazon
Purse: Target Girls Beauty and the Beast Purse (not sure why it is popping up at $44…I think I paid around $12)
Pin: Beauty and the Beast Stained Glass Pin

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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Isn’t it crazy how much better fruit is when you get it fresh? Obviously it would be better than store-bought, but it is significantly better. My favorite is McIntosh, which I wouldn’t stop talking about during the hayride to the orchard, and I think it drove everyone crazy! My friends let us pick those first, maybe just to shut me up?! LOL!

Now, it wouldn’t be an apple photo shoot without some staged photos…

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(ummm, I literally took a pre-picked apple from my bag and pretended to pick it off that tree. ha!)

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…and I needed to take a few with my buddy:

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Sara threw the apple and I tried to catch it. Not shown: the poor apple plummeting to the ground (and it happened more than once!)

Did you know that Sara also has this skirt from Joanie Clothing? (It’s because I bought it for her! lol). Maybe one day we will have to be dorks and do a twinning post! It has cute little strawberry jam jars all over it and has a sweet homey vibe.

I think I’ll wrap things up with a few more photos from our day:

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10-08-18

Top: Express Short Puff Sleeve Tee via Express Outlet
Jacket: Guess Faux Leather Jacket via Wilsons Leather
Skirt: Joanie Clothing Jamelia Jam Jar Print Skirt
Purse: MMS Design Studio
Boots: Indigo by Clarks Cedar Street

new home, new me

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Dave and I finally moved out of our tiny apartment and into a house almost twice the size! Yay! We have been talking about doing it for years. The place we rented when we moved from NY back to MA was “temporary,” but we ended up staying there for 8 years!

We are still renting (the housing prices around here are insane), but it feels good to have a dining room, more than 1 bathroom, a porch…and a porch swing!

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The front of the house is definitely my favorite, with the red swing, red chairs, and red door. It’s like the owners KNEW I was coming to rent it!

Although we moved to a better location and have more space, unfortunately the stress of the move really triggered my anxiety. It was AWFUL. I didn’t feel like myself for weeks over the summer, and my parents had to come up twice to help me through.

Starting with my first move to college in 2001, I have moved 6 times (this most recent is #7), so I really wasn’t anticipating any issues.

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This week we had professional development at school, and it felt really good to be back to my normal routine. Next week is when the kids start, so I’m excited for that too! I think the routine will help me with some of the anxiety.

These photos were taken right before heading to Sara’s bridal shower. The theme was “Sara’s Favorites,” so we had all of her favorite food and desserts, including my (now famous) mac and cheese! Additionally, all of the guests were instructed to dress like Sara.

Well, considering I typically dress like Sara on a day-to-day basis, I felt like I had to step things up a bit.

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Sara has this Bernie Dexter print in a different dress, so obviously it was the right choice. I also wore a petticoat (though not as full as I would have wanted) and LIPSTICK! I rarely wear it other than for costumes, but I must admit I like the look.

To up the ante I went for a 1950s-inspired hairstyle, which I kind of botched…lol! I had the foam rollers in my hair all night, I woke up to curls (just like in the tutorial videos I watched), but could not tame it for the life of me once I started brushing it out. I resorted to LOTS of hairspray, so if parts look a little crispy…they are.

I had to bust out my most “Sara-like” pose, so here’s what I managed:

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Wowza! I didn’t know I could pull that off! I’m sure if the sunglasses weren’t there my eyeballs would be doing something weird (they usually do), but the whole look really works.

I feel conservative and saucy all at once. Who knew it was possible?!

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The belt was a last-minute Amazon purchase, since I wanted one that was wider than the red belt the dress came with.

And if you look verrrry carefully, you may spot the little pin I have on the left side of my dress. (It’s a negroni pin that I borrowed from Dave – but I am not a fan of negronis! I just liked that the colors matched, hehe)

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Thanks for stopping by!

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08-25-18

DressBernie Dexter Kelly Technicolor Honeycomb via Modern Millie Shop
PetticoatHearts & Roses via Zulily
BeltSunny Belt Unisex Kids 1 1/2″ Wide Faux Leather Belt via Amazon
Pin: Love & Victory Negroni Pin
ShoesPayless Comfort Plus Karmen Pump
Sunglasses: Target A New Day Round Red Sunglasses