DIY – How to Machine Sew a Buttonhole and Men’s Shirt Pattern Review

Hello again and I hope you are all enjoying the fall season!

This month I completed a huge first from my list of things I wanted to attempt sewing… *drum-roll please* a tailored menswear button-up shirt! It ended up being a huge success and I really enjoyed the (somewhat stressful) process of pattern matching and endless top stitching! Go figure.

I purchased this lovely plaid flannel from Michael Levine’s ages ago and at the time thought that 2yds would be plenty for a men’s flannel shirt. BOY, WAS I LUCKY. If you’ve never attempted pattern matching before, you might not realize how much extra fabric it takes to make sure you’re cutting everything just how you want it. It wasn’t until after I cut out the front & back pieces (thank GOODNESS I did this on the fold so they ended up symmetrical!) that I realized I need to put extra thought into my cutting if I wanted certain pieces on the bias. I chose to cut the yoke, plackets, cuffs, and pockets all diagonally and by some miracle, I barely made it in 2 yards. Take advice from me and buy at least a 1/2yd to 1yd extra. Cutting mistakes are all too easy and heartbreaking if you run out of your precious fabric!
Since this was my first attempt at menswear, I decided to purchase a ready-made pattern to test out. I used Simplicity #1544 and followed view D, without the shoulder tabs. The correct neck size left me with a shirt that was much too large in the sleeves and body, so I took both in by several inches. Overall I thought the pattern was very easy to follow and created a lovely, crisp end product! I’d highly recommend this pattern to anyone attempting their first button-up shirt as well.Now after all this rambling, I’ll move on to the real reason for this post. One of my most dreaded tasks has always been attempting to get a clean button-hole with my machine. Sure, I could hand-bind each one, but on a shirt with TWELVE buttons, who’s got time for that!? Well I think I’ve finally mastered the buttonhole attachment for my machine and I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I learned to help you with yours.I’ve created a little video showing how I sewed one on my flannel shirt so you can follow along. Hopefully this helps! If you are attempting the same and have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading and happy sewing!
-Maggie Jean

The Belle of the Ball – Part 1

A few years back I had an amazing opportunity to design & create the costumes for a Beauty and the Beast production with a local musical theater company. I’ve been wanting to write a blog about this experience for a while, but the task was a bit daunting since this massive show took up nearly 6 months of my life! I decided it might be more manageable to make this a “mini-series” of several posts detailing a few specific designs from the show. Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorites- Belle’s ballgown! I am so proud of this creation and I think it turned out even better than my vision. Isn’t it wonderful when that happens?! This dress is actually two pieces: the top Bodice and bottom Skirt are attached with hooks at the waist. I chose to do this so that most of the weight from the skirt would sit directly on her hips instead of shoulders… after all, ballgowns are HEAVY!! She also wore a hooped petticoat to create the classic “bell” shape we’ve come to know and love. 

Initially, when I was thinking about how to design this dress, I knew I wanted two things: a unique look that had never been done before and I wanted it to be GOLD. We’ve seen so many yellow versions of this dress from the ones at Disney parks to many amateur theater companies and for some reason the color always made me cringe! I always imagined this dress was supposed to be gold and the Disney animators simply didn’t have the capabilities to transfer that to the screen when they made the beloved movie. Or perhaps it really was intended to be yellow, but gold is so much more exquisite, isn’t it?? Luckily after shopping around I found this gorgeous ivory and gold jacquard fabric that I knew would be perfect.  Then, I found a matching gold lamé for the gathered overskirt. You can see a picture of my pinned draping sample below. I just LOVE how the ivory stands out against the brighter yellow-gold lamé.As for the shape, I stumbled upon an image of a dress created for Angelica in the ever-popular Hamilton (this was before I even knew much about the show myself) and fell in love with her unique style-lines! You’ll see in the image below that the dress has a pointed shape directly under the bust that is reminiscent of a corset. Well this gave me the idea to use the same sort of style lines on my Belle bodice, but at a softer angle which, when paired with the sweetheart neckline, created a sweet heart shape! I added the gathers at the bust in the lamé as well to make her more feminine. But of course I couldn’t just stop with these two fabrics… this girl needed some SPARKLE. So I went out again and found this gold sequin fabric that I layered with a similar color in order to soften the sequins. You’ll see below how I used this as the shoulder drape and at the ends of the lamé overskirt. Lastly, I added a few layers of ivory tulle between the skirt layers to give it a soft glow.. I wish I could remember where this idea came from, but I love how it turned out! Of course, she needed the iconic roses, so I decided to hand-stitch 12 fabric roses that snapped on to each gathering point of the skirt as well as one on the center of the bust. I made these in both gold and red with the idea that she’d wear the gold during the ballroom scene and then switch to red for the final bows. This is something that only a costumer might notice, but I sure love those little touches!Speaking of little touches, I was very fortunate to have a team of ladies that helped me with little sewing tasks here and there. I gave several of them a stash of teeny crystal rhinestones and told them to go to town on all the visible jacquard fabric areas. As they began gluing literally HUNDREDS of tiny rhinestones, we wondered if they would even be seen. The light in our workshop didn’t seem to make much difference after all and it would be such a shame if they did all that work for nothing! However, this ended up being my FAVORITE part of the costume and there simply isn’t a way to show you why via photograph. The instant she stepped out under the stage lights, she sparkled. And I mean truly SPARKLED!! It brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t cry when her father was captured, or at the end when the beast nearly died, but I definitely had tears in my eyes every single time she came out with hundreds and hundreds of rhinestones glittering! Yes, I’m a sap, I know. I also adore how the dress looked different under various types of stage lighting. One moment she’s a radiant gold, then the scene shifts and she’s darker and richer, then the next moment, she’s a more subdued softer yellow-gold. It also helped that we had the most perfect actress ever playing our Belle, lovely inside and out!Despite the months of stress, it was a magical experience for which I am incredibly grateful. I will cherish these photos and memories for the rest of my life!As always, thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to subscribe below to see my updates on new posts. I’ll be writing a few more on different characters for this show in the coming weeks!Cheers!

Maggie Jean

Pattern Review – RLR Creation’s Darcy Handbag

Well hello again to all of my lovely followers! I know I’ve been MIA for several months and it has definitely been a weight on my mind! This summer has been wonderful so far, but certainly a busy one! For those of you that don’t know, I spent the better part of May & June working on a wedding dress and 3 bridesmaids dresses for some very special people. That brought many challenges and learning experiences that I’m sure I’ll post about in the near future! So far, July has whizzed by as I chugged through many Etsy orders & outside commissions to get back on track. I thought I’d take a few minutes to share one of my latest and favorite-to-date makes, the DARCY handbag! The pattern is from RLR Creations, which you can find HERE

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Wizardwear for the Modern Muggle!!

Hello all of you lovely muggles!! For those of you who haven’t met me in person, you may not be aware that I am a shameless fanatic when it comes to a certain famous boy wizard…yep, I’m referring to Harry Potter and the wonderful Wizarding World from J.K. Rowling’s beloved book series! I read the first novel as a ten-year old and grew up in the same generation alongside all my favorite characters from the series. Year after year, I’d wait in anticipation for the next book release where I’d join crowds of fellow nerds at midnight as we picked up our cherished copies and return home to stay up reading as long as our eyelids would allow. It was such a magical time! The movies were exciting as well, but nothing matched the wonder I found inside the actual pages of the books. I had a similar thrill stepping into the real Wizarding World that opened at Universal Studios Florida. I know I’ve been inducted into adulthood for over a decade now, but I felt like a giddy schoolgirl walking inside those gates. For some people, it’s Disneyland, for me, it’s a world where the stories of my childhood are brought to life and magic IS real!

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DIY – How to Sew a Fabric Bow

Today I’d like to show you how to create your very own fabric bow, one of the easiest things you’ll ever do! The best part is that you can add these to virtually any project. Add one to a handmade skirt, dress, handbag, or even use simply as a hair bow or a hat ornament.. you name it!

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DIY – How to Copy a Dress Pattern!

Hello my lovely readers!! Today I’d like to show you how to copy your very own pattern from any dress in your closet! This skill is a wonderful tool to learn because I’m sure as a sewer (or aspiring sewer) you own one or two beloved dresses that you’ve always hoped to recreate in different fabrics. I’d like to challenge you to figure out how to accomplish this! Of course the process vary slightly depending on the dress you’d like to use, but the basic principles stay the same. For my chosen dress, I will be focusing on the bodice portion. The skirt is a basic dirndl/gathered skirt, which I’d blogged an earlier tutorial for HERE and HERE.

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How to Create a Swing Tack

Have you examined a lined skirt or dress and noticed those little thread tacks that hold the lining down to the outer shell near the hem? Ever wonder what those are called? They’re Swing Tacks! This is a very tactful name considering the sole purpose for them is to allow the lining to “swing” freely from the skirt. If you’ve ever made the decision to fully attach a lining around your hem, you may have noticed it constrains

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Pattern Review – Closet Case Pattern’s GINGER Jeans!!

Today I’d like to take a stab at my FIRST EVER pattern review! My hope is that this little post will be helpful to those of you that have been eyeing the ever popular “Ginger Jeans” by Closet Case Patterns wondering whether you should jump on the bandwagon and try out making your first pair. If you wish for a simple and to-the-point answer, I say YES YOU SHOULD! Read on if you would like more details about my findings.

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How to Sew a Button!

Today I’d like to show you a basic skill that I firmly believe EVERYONE (yes men, especially you!!) should know how to accomplish… sewing a button!! We’ve all experienced the woes of buying a new shirt or jacket to find out that after one wear or wash, one of our lovely matching buttons has magically detached itself from its proper place. This is sadly due to the fact that most ready-to-wear (store-bought) garments have buttons that were sewn on by machine, which is an efficient, inexpensive way to go, but not nearly as sturdy as good old-fashioned hand sewing. 

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DIY Skirt for the LAZY Sewist! (Part 2)

Hello again and welcome to PART 2 for making this simple gathered skirt! If you need help with cutting the fabric, please refer to PART 1 earlier in my blog. Today, we will cover how to sew all of the pieces together to complete your beautiful skirt!

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