****This giveaway is now closed. The winner will be announced soon!****

Oh my gosh, you guys. I have been giddy for, like, three days. Absolutely, annoyingly, anxious-happy. And it’s over a little bitty named Roxanne. I managed to use a sewing pattern all by myself and it turned out wearable, one might even say, darling? My new favorite pattern company, hands down, is Victory Patterns.

Roxanne by Victory Patterns made from thrifted fabric

I swear the pointer finger claw comes out in 90% of my photos.

I bought this e-pattern over Christmas break after perusing some online patterns with my mother. I had about four yards of some awesome teal fabric that I had thrifted about a month earlier; a georgette, according to my mom. I cut out the pattern and read the beautifully designed instructions before starting. Not usually my thing. About four hours later the mutant death virus took over my body.

Those cut-out fabric pieces laid folded, alone, waiting to be assembled for nearly a month. In fact, I almost entirely forgot that I had a shirt to sew. Then I deemed last weekend and recuperate-and-sew weekend, and I stumbled upon the makings of my shirt. I set to work with that miraculous, not-at-all-like-me patience.

It was the pleats, friends. Those pleats captured my heart. The topstitch on that yoke? I couldn’t take a break without thinking constantly, without being totally obsessed, with finishing this shirt. True story, ask my friends, refer to my tweets.

It was finished. And then this happened. Envision angels singing, okay?

Roxanne top and beagleNow this pattern. It’s really something to write home about. There was not a single missed step. It was easy to understand and conscise. And never once did it make me feel totally inadequate. Most sewing patterns do that to me. Victory patterns are amazing. And there are two versions you can make!

roxanne both versionsSource

Roxanne by victory patterns meadow rue giveawayAnd guess what?! You can have one too! The sweetest Kristiann (the mastermind behind the patterns) has agreed to let me give one pdf version of The Roxanne pattern (a $9.95 value) to one of you. Just leave a lovely, little comment. The winner of this giveaway will be chosen at random and announced Monday, February 4th here on the blog.

Godspeed, good friends, godspeed.

Hey readers! Men’s content is finally here. Wahooo! All Meadow Rue Men’s posts will be housed in the Meadow Rue Men tab above, so check back often for male related things.

My good friend and classmate, Michael Leventhal, so graciously agreed to undertake this first men’s project with me. He’s an east coaster, a brilliant comic writer (check out his website!), and a serial thrifter. Michael isn’t afraid to sift through racks of used clothing, and you’d never guess his wardrobe is secondhand. He admits though, he has thrifted a few ill-fitting items in his day. Enter Meadow Rue.

Michael and I ventured to our favorite thrift store together and picked up two closet staples for any man. A crisp too-large button up and a pair of too-long no-pleat slacks. Alterations were needed stat.

This shirt was a biggin’. The shoulders were dropped too low, the sides needed taking in and the sleeves were too long. You know how men’s dress shirts billow on the sides? This one was totally doing that. I decided to resize it the “proper” way, by removing the arms, taking up the shoulders, and sewing the sleeves back on. Then, I took in the sleeves and sides.

It was a failure. Can you tell? No? Good, thanks for feeding my ego.

After I finished this alteration, I warned Michael that there was a chance he might not be able to get one arm into the shirt, as I mistakenly cut the arm hole too small, so that the armpit was a good two inches higher than the other. Michael swears the shirt is still pretty comfortable. And, despite the total shirt mess-up, the fit is far better.

See where the shoulder seams lie? One is at least 1/2″ lower than the other. Woops.

The back of the shirt had two pleats towards the shoulder seams. It’s obvious my measurements were not consistent from side to side. Yikes. This is one type of alteration I need much more practice on. Luckily, Michael doesn’t get as attached to his thrifted finds as I do. Thank goodness.

Up next: slacks. Without pleats. Please promise me you’ll never buy pleated slacks, guys. Ladies? Help them out here. Pleats are good in some places on some clothing. Never on the front of pants.

These pants only needed a quick hemming, one alteration I can complete in 20 minutes. I know this because I’ve been timing myself. Yes, I’m a total sewing geek.

It feels good to be honest with you guys about sewing mistakes, because it happens often in my world. I cannot count how many half finished items are sitting around my sewing room because I screwed something up, got frustrated and gave up. But I’m finding, more and more, that most sewing mistakes are easily fixed, ironed out, or really not that noticeable.

Other mistakes? Not so much.

I’m on a skirt kick lately. It’s too hot to wear anything else. Soon, friends, soon there will be a fall clothing related post. Just hold your horses. For now, I can’t have fabric wrapped around my thighs. It’s just a bad situation.

While in Portland, I picked up this periwinkle pleated dress at a vintage store near my friend’s house. The racks at this store were packed with awesome vintage clothing and bright, graphic prints. And, get this, there were two whole clothing racks deemed “Burning Man Approved”. In that moment, eyeing those racks, I had a slight longing to embrace the hipster and skip off to Burning Man in nothing but a leather mini skirt and kitten printed jean vest. It’s a slippery slope folks. It could happen.

Then I remembered that I don’t really drink that much, definitely don’t do drugs, and really, really hate being hot. I’ll stick to sewing skirts. And messing up zippers.

Check out this before and after!

I really went out on a limb here and avoided the urge to sew an elastic waistband on this puppy. Mostly because my elastic stash is running low and some serious sewing supply rationing has begun. Instead, I sewed a fabric, non-stretch waistband with (gasp!) a zipper! It was hard. And there are no close-up pictures. End of story.

So, alas, here are some short steps to get you started sewing your own pleated skirts. Read the entire set of directions carefully and before you get started, because I was less than stellar at the photo documentation of this project.

1. Lay the dress out evenly on the ground, and cut at the waist. My dress had an elastic waist, so I cut just below that. Pin all of those perfect pleats in place!
2. Measure your waist where you want the skirt to sit. Make sure you wear a one-piece swimming suit while doing this.

 Source

3. Cut a piece of your waistband fabric that is your waist measurement + 2.5″ by 3.5″. Also, cut a piece of medium-weight interfacing that is your waist measurement + 2.5″ by 2.75″. See graphic below for my 28″ waistband.

4. Iron your interfacing to the wrong side of your waistband fabric, centering it.
5. Fold your waist band in half, length wise, and iron well. Then fold your seam allowances length wise, and iron in towards the center fold. See below.

6. Sew a zipper into the side of the skirt using this tutorial. Have wine on hand for this.
7. Sew on your ironed waistband using this tutorial.

And you’re done!

Now, I need to admit that I kind of left you hanging there with the last few steps (ie zipper). And I apologize. I still don’t feel comfortable with my zipper sewing skills and wouldn’t show you a close up of my zipper if my life depended on it. The beauty in a skirt like this is that your mistakes are more hidden than in a fitted piece of clothing.

Normally, I would tell you to hop to it! and go make your own pleated skirt with a fitted waistband. But let’s be real, just slap an elastic waistband on that puppy. You’ll thank me later.