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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kate Spade at The Summit Birmingham!

Have you ever walked into a retail store that instantly made you feel happy?  Well, that's the immediate feeling that Kate Spade evoked in me on yesterday.  It was the perfect setting for mingling and networking with the awesome Birmingham Bloggers.
I've been trying to inject more color into my wardrobe, because I can happily reach for black or white on a daily basis.  And the spring collection here is beaming with inspiration.  What is more colorful than that beautiful shift dress with a coordinating clutch and sunnies!
Here are some of my favorites, especially this great tote bag -- perfect for the beach or pool.
I had to show some black and white love with this perfect knit sundress.
Colorful Idiom bracelets always give life to any ensemble.
And a great whimsical wicker sunglasses clutch is an awesome conversation piece.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Finding One's Personal Style and Making Pieces Work for You!

What I wore: Vogue 8706
On yesterday, a gave a talk at the Hoover Library about finding your personal style and making pieces work for you.  For those of you that have been following me for years, you see what I sew and you see how I wear the pieces I make.  I believe in having a well-thought-out wardrobe.  One of my personal style mantras is, "If you stay ready, you'll always be ready."  I've seen others struggle, stress and become completely frazzled when they have an event to attend.  And no one should have to go through that.  And also, a wardrobe should consist of basic everyday pieces that you can pull from.  My talk was to offer a guide to make getting dressed a lot easier.
I offered these easy steps...

Find Inspiration!
Ask yourself, how do you want to look?  Is there a person with a similar lifestyle whose style you admire?  Also, Pinterest is a favorite tool of mine.  And my number one suggestion for inspiration, go to a department store and try on, try on and try on!  Be curious!  Try a style that you've never worn before.  A lot of garments lack hanger appeal. And you may be pleasantly surprise as to what works for you.  This is especially necessary in sewing.  You don't want to make the financial commitment of purchasing fabric, pattern and notions and also invest the time into making something you're not sure that will work for your figure.
Edit Your Closet
Do you find that you have a closet full of clothes and you still have nothing to wear?  If so, that's a problem.  At least twice a year, usually seasonal, I like to take everything out of my closet.  That way I can touch every single garment.  I can remove anything that I haven't worn in a long time and probably will never wear again.  I remove things that are too big or too small.  And you can pass your well-loved items on to friends or family, or you can donate to a charity, or consign.  

And also, stop buying and sewing wardrobe orphans!  Wardrobe orphans are random items that were purchased or sewn, probably on a whim that are rarely worn and may not go with anything else in your closet.
Build Your Wardrobe and Dress Without Stress!
Based on your lifestyle, you have to decide what essentials you need.  My wardrobe essentials or as I like to call it a "base wardrobe", would consist of:
  • A white and a dark blazer (If you prefer cardigans, you can easily substitute.)
  • Pants in classic cut
  • A pencil skirt
  • A crisp white shirt
  • A really nice pair of jeans... not the ones you'd put on to do weekend work in your yard.
  • A go-everywhere dress!  Every woman needs at least one dress that they can wear to multiple events.  The one pictured below - Talbot's Geo-Clover Jacquard Dress in navy and white is appropriate for work, church, a baby shower, a graduation, and dinner with your significant other.  And you can even dress it down with a pair of flat sandals for the weekend.  That's called MILEAGE!
  • A sweatpants and t-shirt alternative.  Now this is a fun one.  As much as I workout, some days it's a really struggle for me to not be out in something that says Nike.  For casual wear during your errand runs, carpooling or downtime I picked this great Terry Hoodie and the Weekend Terry Striped Skirt.

With functional pieces as the base of your wardrobe, you can now add in fun and trendy pieces.
From l-r: Adrienne of Adrienne's Essentials; Shundra of Mrs. Crafty Chick; Kim of It's Sew Kim; La'Shara of Kurlylicious.
And per usual at an event like this, there were plenty of networking and pictures!  I want to thank everyone that came out to support.  And Talbot's for supplying me with great clothes.  And especially, the Hoover Library for extending the invitation.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

On tomorrow...

I'll be hosting a seminar at the Hoover Public Library on finding one's personal style and making pieces work for you!

I'm going to provide solid tips on:

* Finding Inspiration
* Closet Editing
*Steps on How to Build a Wardrobe for Your Lifestyle
*Dressing without Stressing
*Putting Looks Together for Every Occasion

Talbot's is my sponsor and I've pulled some great looks to demonstrate wardrobe building.

If you're local, I hope to see you there!

Review: Burda 6858 | White on white on white!

Every year, I make a white dress.  And they vary in style and design, depending on my mood.  Recently, this dress caught my eye:
This dress immediately reminded of designs by:
They are known for their minimal, clean but sexy style.
For my dress, I chose Burda 6858 because it's an almost perfect doppelg√§nger for the French Connection dress, with a couple of minor details.  
I cut the size 12.  I lengthened the bodice by an inch and added three inches to the hem.  My fabric is White Polyester Neoprene (yes, the obsession continues).  Recently, I've been using "neoprene jersey", which sews, handles and wears like a silkier feeling ponte knit.  This is not that fabric.  This is a medium weight neoprene that's almost spongey.  So it took some playing around with tension and stitch length (I used a 3.0mm).
I used a very sheer mesh for the sleeves.  
And also for the midriff panels.  
I used an exposed metal zipper, and left the inside unfinished because it's neoprene and doesn't fray.  I just trim down the seam allowances.  And since I lengthened my dress, I added a vent.
My goal was to create a minimal, chic, modern white cocktail dress and it turned out perfect.
Styling tip:  When going for a minimalist look, keep accessories to the bare minimum!  I wore dangling earrings, a statement cuff and cocktail ring.  And I kept it monochromatic by carrying a white studded clutch and punctuated with a white d'Orsay pump.
I know that some of you like to know where I wear my clothes.  Last night, I attended Art on the Rocks at the Birmingham Museum of Art.  It's a swanky soiree' where you dress to impress and mix and mingle with Birmingham's finest, while taking in the culture.  My dress was perfect for my venue.  I received compliments the entire night.  And while there, I took in an amazing exhibit:  "Rising Up:  Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College".  If you ever get a chance to see it, you should!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: Vogue 8612 | The Lip Print Neoprene Sheath Dress!

Vogue 8612 | The Lip Print Neoprene Sheath Dress! Erica B's DIY Style!
Since I finished this dress around a week ago, I've been puzzled to death why I waited so long to make this pattern?  Because I'm madly in love with this dress!  
Vogue 8612 | The Lip Print Neoprene Sheath Dress! Erica B's DIY Style!
This is OOP Vogue 8612.  I cut the size 12 and added about 3 inches to the length.
Vogue 8612 | The Lip Print Neoprene Sheath Dress! Erica B's DIY Style!
My fabric is this adorable Pop Art Lips Digitally Printed Neoprene from Mood Fabrics that sold out almost as fast as I could add my couple of yards to my cart.  But if you like this print, it is still currently available in a poly charmeuse and poly chiffon (which would make a great kimono or a beach cover up).  As I mentioned on my Instagram, this print was a complete outside of the box selection for me.  As someone who is not the biggest fan of prints, it was just something about it that I was drawn to.  I like that the dress is full of color without being dizzily overwhelming.  It has a bold spectrum of color, yet at the same time it's subtle.  And I can look at it without getting a migraine!  And I just knew it would look great with this design.  It gives it an almost vintagey, pinup girl-esque quality.
Vogue 8612 | The Lip Print Neoprene Sheath Dress! Erica B's DIY Style!
This dress went together in less than an hour.  It has a lot of darts though, both vertical - front and back and horizontal.  And what also sped up the construction was that I omitted the lining.  It was not needed with my fabric.
Vogue 8612 | The Lip Print Neoprene Sheath Dress! Erica B's DIY Style!
For my v-neckline, I followed a construction tip from the Fashion Incubator.  And I carefully understitched so that my facing wouldn't flip back out.  And also, for my first go I noticed that my neckline was not laying flat and was a tad bit floppy.  I added additional fusible interfacing then shaped and steamed the hell out of it while on the dressform.
Vogue 8612 | The Lip Print Neoprene Sheath Dress! Erica B's DIY Style!
The dress has a 1.25" blind hem.  And I like to interface mine.
Vogue 8612 | The Lip Print Neoprene Sheath Dress! Erica B's DIY Style!
And I interfaced my vent as well.  This dress has an invisible zipper, which I could've easily left out.  This neoprene jersey has plenty of stretch.  I adore this dress and I think I will make another one, that fuchsia one on the envelope color is screaming out to me!
**Styling tip:  For me, since this was an interesting print, I decided to let it be the star.  I opted against a necklace and let the neckline and the d√©colletage do the accessorizing.  And I used a fuchsia clutch and turquoise pumps and earrings to pull those colors out of the dress.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Birmingham Blogger Event: Talbot's at The Summit!

Last Thursday, I attended a Birmingham Blogger event at Talbot's, hosted by the fabulous Jeniese Hosey of  The Jenesaisquoi.
We were invited to preview the summer collections at Talbot's and they are cute!
My favorite was all of the beachwear, that I wouldn't need a beach for!  The caftans are fabulous and would be daywear for me!
This is what I wore: top: Vogue 2540 and pants: Vogue 9032.  I do love a great black and white ensemble!
While I was there, they had a drawing and I was the winner of this great head-to-toe look!  How amazing is that!
I'm a sucker for separates and these pieces and accessories will be rotating throughout my wardrobe all summer.
Especially this awesome bib statement necklace.
I had a choice on the bag and the shoes.  I went with the wicker clutch because I love a white bag for summer and this one can be worn with the chain strap or used as a clutch. 
And a great pair of flat white sandals are a must have.




Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: McCall's 7167 | The Criss Cross Back Culotte Jumpsuit!

McCall's 7167 | The Criss Cross Back Culotte Jumpsuit! Erica B's DIY Style!
For those of you non-believers who doubted the staying power of the jumpsuit YEARS ago?  Well, clutch your pearls.  The jumpsuit isn't going anywhere, anytime soon. Be mad! LOL  And to really wash your face with it, different iterations just keep on coming forth.  Like the culotte jumpsuit.  This is my second variation on this trend.  As much as I loved the first version, and even though I made it sleeveless, the fully-lined garment in the fabric that I chose is way too hot for this time of year.  So, she's packed away until fall.  
McCall's 7167 | The Criss Cross Back Culotte Jumpsuit! Erica B's DIY Style!
Whereas, some versions of the the jumpsuit have slim tapered legs, by definition the culotte jumpsuit is wide leg.  My personal rule of thumb is if I have volume on the bottom, the top should be fitted.  And as far as the hemline on culottes go -- think of it as a midi skirt.  If you can wear a midi skirt, you can wear culottes and that's where your hem should fall.
McCall's 7167 | The Criss Cross Back Culotte Jumpsuit! Erica B's DIY Style!
I picked McCall's 7167, because I loved the details.  The criss cross open-back is perfect for summertime.  I love halters and this fits right into my wardrobe perfectly.  This pattern comes in cup sizes.  I cut the size 12, with a C cup and graded out to the 14 at the waist.  I always make a one inch bodice alteration.  I don't know if it's because this pattern came already adjusted for cup sizes, but I had to go back and remove that one inch because I had fabric pooling around the waist.
McCall's 7167 | The Criss Cross Back Culotte Jumpsuit! Erica B's DIY Style!
This waistband piece sits at the natural waist.  So if these were pants, they'd be high-waist pants.  Keep that in mind.  And being that this is a jumpsuit, I added an inch to the rise length.  The main thing you MUST avoid with a jumpsuit is a wedgie.  And as a tall girl, it's a rare find to discover a RTW jumpsuit that doesn't give me one.  And the last alteration was an additional two inches to the length.
McCall's 7167 | The Criss Cross Back Culotte Jumpsuit! Erica B's DIY Style!
After creating my daughter's bodice for her graduation outfit, I should've known better.  But I didn't.  My fabric is green Baby Silk Ultra Polyester from Hancock.  I love the idea of a 4-ply silk crepe jumpsuit, but I enjoy even more the ability to just toss it into the washer.  And I love the way this fabric feels.  But back to the bodice...  I decided to self-line the bodice so I wouldn't have to bother with trying to find a coordinating lining fabric.  It just made sense.  BUT, I feel that it should've been completely interfaced.  If not the front, then definitely the criss cross straps.  If I make this again, I'm going to do that.  I feel they would lie better and feel sturdier.  And even though crepe de chine is a recommended fabric, for a bodice like that and one that if you're like me a bra might NOT be an option, interfacing would be beneficial.  And about that bra... I have a serious underpinning collection... like I have some real trick bras in my collection and nothing was working with this jumpsuit.  So if that's going to be an issue for you, then I just using the full coverage bra-friendly back.
McCall's 7167 | The Criss Cross Back Culotte Jumpsuit! Erica B's DIY Style!
Overall, even after working through the fitting issues I had -- not saying that everyone will have these -- I love this jumpsuit.  Especially the side zipper.  I'm still trying to decide if I want my zipper on the right side or the left.  This one is on the left and I'm right-handed.  It feels a little awkward zipping it.  So next time, I may move it.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: Simplicity 1099 | Mikaela's Graduation!

Simplicity 1099 - Made in white stretch satin for a great Graduation dress option! Erica B's DIY Style!
White is the most common hue when it comes to graduation dresses.  And even though a cap and gown is worn, you don't want to have on a boring look-a-like dress.  That's why we picked Simplicity 1099.
Simplicity 1099 - Made in white stretch satin for a great Graduation dress option! Erica B's DIY Style!
Mikaela loves Taylor Swift.  So any opportunity she has to dress in a two-piece outfit, she takes it. She liked the cropped criss cross top and the short full skirt.  I cut the smallest size, which is the size 4.  For the top, I added an inch to the length.  She has a long torso and I needed to know the top would sit right above the skirt.  The top is very much like a bustier.  It's fully interfaced and lined with a separating zipper.
Simplicity 1099 - Made in white stretch satin for a great Graduation dress option! Erica B's DIY Style!
For the skirt, I used the short version and removed about 3 inches from the length.  She wanted it shorter.  For the particular occasion, I suggested that we keep it classy and stop it right above the knee.  I added a lining and used horsehair braid in the hem.  What we love most about this skirt?  The pockets!  Yes it has pockets!  Based on her measurements, I'd say that this pattern is true to size.  This pattern has so many great views, I'm sure we'll be using it again.  And for fabric, I used a stretch white satin
Receiving her diploma...

And picture with her niece, one of her favorite people!