Simplicity 1366, aka the ubiquitous Cynthia Rowley box top

I’m the last blogger to make this pattern!

Just kidding, I’m sure I’m not actually the last person. But after I saw back to back Simplicity 1366 posts from Blogless Anna & Thornberry, I decided to give this pattern a shot.

Don’t be distracted by the hideous skirts!!
Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 2.42.27 PMI used an embroidered silk chiffon remnant that I bought at Sewfisticated in Cambridge sometime last year. It’s a really beautiful fabric and I just love the modern details on it. Also, I love floaty chiffon fabric, but am terrified of sewing it. So I enjoyed sewing with a ‘stable’ chiffon! I’m keeping my eye on more just like it :)

I should have worn a darker cami underneath to make the embroidery ‘pop’ more…there’s a better picture below over a purple top.

DSC_0826The pattern is as simple as everyone says. It’s a big box that somehow fits better than other boxes (?). I cut out the sleeves and then decided to leave them off…the pattern on the fabric was busy enough, I didn’t need to add it in another direction in the sleeves.

I used an ivory rayon to bind the neckline and the armholes and french seams for the minimal 4 internal seams. Made sure to use a Microtex 70 needle and didn’t have any problems there!

DSC_0829So the top is a bit short. I like the length in this sleeveless version…it has the feel of an in style crop top but since I’ll always wear something underneath I don’t need to worry about showing my midriff. For an opaque sleeved version, I’ll probably lengthen it 1-2 inches.

DSC_0830I really don’t have much else to add…I really like my new top and it was so simple to make!

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Because I had the pattern out, I decided to make the camisole pattern included. It’s also incredibly simple. 3 pattern pieces: bodice (front and back are identical), facing, and strap. I used a rayon (?) peachskin (?). Clearly I don’t know what the hell this fabric is…it’s leftover from the lining of one of my minoru’s.

The pictures turned out better than I thought it looked – so that’s always a good sign! This fabric doesn’t have a ton of drape so even though the pattern is cut on the bias, it doesn’t have that slinky bias feel.
Simplicity 1366 Camisole

I made no alterations and the fit is pretty good. I would shorten the straps next time and take it in a little on the sides below the waist.

Overall, this is a highly recommended pattern to have in your quick-sew arsenal!

Simplicity 1779 in Silk/Cotton Voile

Despite my busy schedule, I’ve been sewing quite a lot. It’s been a great way to relax after a crazy day. I’ve been posting most of my finished items on Instagram, but I finally got around to taking proper blog pictures this weekend! (Which, by the way, is my least favorite part of blogging)

First up is Simplicity 1779. I made the pussy-bow blouse with the elbow length sleeves.

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 2.42.45 PMIt was a straightforward garment to sew and the instructions were easy to follow. The only change I made was to raise the neckline 2 inches after reading several reviews that it was on the very low side.

If I make it again, which I plan to do, I will increase the width of the bow portion. It’s quite narrow, and I’ve been folding it over the neckline edge like a collar because I prefer the way it looks; if you look closely at the pattern envelope they have the bow going upwards from the neckline towards the face, without folding over.

DSC_0818I made a size 12 and it ended up a bit tight through the bust. I think next time I’ll go up to a 14 for the front pattern piece but maintain 12 in the back.

To note, the front and back pieces weren’t the same length…I found the front was about 1/2″ shorter than the back after sewing the bust dart. Someone mentioned this on Pattern Review and I second her observation!

DSC_0821I typically love elbow length sleeves – great for staying out of the way in the lab. But these ones fit oddly. The cuffs are a bit too small so they don’t comfortably sit below my elbow, but if I pull them above my elbow they look super puffy. Next time, I’ll either add length or widen the cuff.

DSC_0819I used another J.Crew silk/cotton voile, purchased from FabricMart sometime last year. This is my third garment with a J.Crew voile print and I really love this fabric. It’s easy to sew, easy to wear, and easy to wash!

Simplicity 1779Despite my complaints above, I really like this pattern and intend to make it again. I say that about a lot of patterns…but I really mean it with this one! There are so many sleeve and neckline variations that I don’t think it will become repetitive.

A Bit of Science & Law

I’ve been absent from my blog for a while now, primarily due to 2 outside activities: science and law. My distractions are completely unrelated by the way, I don’t know much about the science of law or the legal aspects of science. But I wanted to share a bit about what’s been distracting me: pretty science pictures and being on a jury!

To make it abundantly clear, this post has zero sewing in it :)

Science:

I’ve said many times that I’m completing a PhD in Biological Engineering. I won’t explain my thesis here, but I wanted to share an image that I took which recently won an award on campus!

I’ll start with a very brief description of the department that I’m in.  I want to point out that biological engineering is not biomedical engineering. Our department doesn’t work on implants or medical devices (for the most part), instead, the department broadly studies how we can engineer biology for greater impact. Areas studied include cancer research, synthetic biology, cell & tissue engineering, infectious diseases, targeted therapies, toxicology, etc.

The lab I’m in studies DNA damage: how it’s caused, how it’s repaired, and the effects it has on cells and tissues (mutations, cell death, disease, etc.). If there is interest I can go into more detail later in another post on the specifics, but for now I’ll leave it a little vague. I study mouse cells and compare the responses of different cell types to the same DNA damaging agents. You can think of the chemotherapy as an example. Many chemotherapy drugs act by damaging DNA, but not all cell types respond the same way. The cancer cells are often affected (and hopefully die) but there are many side-effects as well: hair loss, nausea, anemia, ‘chemo brain’, etc. We’re interested in why some cells are highly sensitive to this DNA damage (hair cells, blood cells, etc) while others are relatively resistant. If you’re familiar with DNA damage as a chemotherapeutic, then you know DNA damage is often more toxic to cells that replicate a lot, such as cancer cells. However, non-replicating cells can also be highly sensitive to DNA damage. Our lab has shown that a particular type of neuron, which doesn’t divide, is highly sensitive to DNA damage resulting in neurodegeneration.

We use mice as a model system to study these changes. The lab has previously shown that mouse embryonic stem cells (ES cells) respond completely oppositely than neurons. ES cells are found in early development and are pluripotent, which means they can develop to become any mature cell type of the mouse. More importantly, we can grow ES cells in the lab and induce them to become the cell types we’re interested in, a process called in vitro differentiation. In my case, I grow ES cells and induce them to become neurons. Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 11.46.39 AMThe image below was my winning image. In the protocol, ES cells are allowed to aggregate into cell clusters which are then grown with specific molecules to encourage neuronal growth and differentiation. In the lower right corner of the image below you can see one of those cell clusters and the neural cells growing outwards to the left in red and green.

Blue = Cell Nuclei

Red = Astrocytes

Green = Neurons
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Full ImageImageJ=1.46runit=inchCopyright: MIT

Here I am in front of the image!! It was printed on cloth and then wrapped around a circular frame. If you’re around Boston or Cambridge, stop by! It’s on display for the next year (until March 2016) in the front of the Koch Integrative Cancer Building.

IMG_3012We had to give a short (2-3 minute) talk about our images, to see it click here. My talk starts around 31:00.

This is just one aspect of the project I work on, but it happens to produce beautiful images!

Law: 

I mentioned in a previous post that I was recently on a jury! I got called for jury duty to Boston’s superior courthouse and, after a looooong day of waiting, was chosen to be juror for a criminal case. I won’t mention any of the trial participants or defendant by name because I don’t want them to find this post. If you want specifics, check out these links:

My case specifically and a summary of the situation leading to the murder

Here’s my brief explanation.  The defendant was indicted on 6 charges: possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of an illegal firearm, armed home invasion, 2 counts of armed robbery, and 2nd degree felony murder. He was charged on the theory of joint venture, meaning he didn’t specifically have to be the one to pull the trigger or commit the armed robbery in order to be found guilty as long as he shared the same intent. If you followed the Aaron Hernandez case, then you’re probably familiar with this theory.

The evidence portion took almost two weeks and then we deliberated for ~3.5 days. It was EXHAUSTING. Not in a bad way, but everyday when we were done at 4 pm (sharp) I was so tired. During the evidence portion, you’re taking intense notes and trying to connect all the pieces of evidence. Plus you can’t talk to anyone about the trial so everything is just floating around your mind. And deliberations are a whole other beast. If I ever see you in person feel free to ask me about it…but I’d rather not talk about anything we discussed here on my blog. Those were long long days and we weren’t allowed to leave the floor of the courtroom!

We ended up finding the defendant guilty on 5 of the 6 charges, including the murder charge. It was hard to come to terms with finding someone guilty of murder when (1) he didn’t pull the trigger and (2) it was his friend who died. But as a jury, it was our duty to examine the evidence presented and determine whether he was guilty or not, independent of our opinions on the law. We learned after the verdicts that the murder charge comes with a mandatory life in prison with possible parole in 15 years.

Ultimately, it hasn’t impacted me as much as I would have expected. Part of the reason is that deliberations made me more certain of my opinions on the matter because we had to argue and debate our points to come to a verdict. Also, I wasn’t my decision to indict him on the charges nor was it my place to judge the laws of Massachusetts. If I wanted to do that, then I should be in law school not graduate school!

It was interesting to see which aspects of trials are accurately (or inaccurately) represented in TV & movies. TV shows are accurate when they show the lawyer cross-examining the oppositions witnesses… it can get very heated! And they’re very good at twisting the witnesses words to make them seem unreliable. The most boring parts were the side-bar conversations and the long days filled with the presentation of each individual piece of evidence. Overall, it was a very fulfilling and interesting experience and I would be a juror again if chosen.

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I have been sewing in my free time and have finished a bunch of garments! Just need to get some pictures taken and I’ll be back to the regular content of my blog :)

A return to blogging! [Plus some knit garments]

Wow – it’s been two months since my last post! Unlike other blogging breaks I’ve taken, I wasn’t doing any (or much) sewing during this time off. My sewing motivation had completely abandoned me. It’s still not back entirely, but I’m starting to get back into my sewing room more often. Nothing happened in particular to keep me from sewing, I guess I’ve just been working a lot and stressed about creating (and sticking to) a timeline towards graduation.

Nonetheless, I have 4 knit garments to share today: 3 tops and 1 dress.

#1: Simplicity 1716 in Rayon Spandex Knit from SR Harris (MN)

When I made this back in mid-January, I wasn’t sure how much I’d wear it.  I made a size 12, my normal Big 12 sizing, and it was HUGE – particularly through the bust and the armscyes were very low. I removed a generous 2 inches from the upper arms through the bust which significantly helped the fit. I like the top now and have worn it quite a bit. If I make it again I’ll remove the bust pleat and go down in size. DSC_0745 DSC_0748Armscyes are still a little low.

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#2: McCall’s 7019 in Rayon Spandex Knit that I won from Elliott Berman FabricLove giveaway on Facebook

I really love this pattern (View A) but with the neckline from the Deer & Doe Plantain. The fabric is a little funky and loud but I really like the resulting top! I love the quality of the knit as well.

I spent quite a bit of time playing with position to make sure to incorporate the colors I wanted. Not much else to say :)

FunkyTop180 Funky onme

#3: Vogue 1250  in a mid-weight Rayon Spandex from SR Harris

I made this dress once before and forgot how much I like it! The only thing I dislike is how wide the shoulder are, I don’t find it terribly flattering on me. So for this version the only change I made was to remove 2 inches from the shoulder end. When I finished this yesterday I was very happy with it…then I tried it on again this morning and it just didn’t seem right. I might have to do more shoulder/armhole alterations.

V1250 _180This rayon knit has much more drape than my first version in a heavier knit interlock knit. So I didn’t realize just how low the cowl drapes! As my mom would say – I need a dickey!
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#4: StyleArc Issy in White Light-Weight Ponte

I wear my first Issy top all the time so I decided to make it again. My first version was way too large, partially because of the sizing and partially because I used a very stretchy, very lightweight knit. So this time I used a light-weight white ponte. I made the STUPID decision to try to even out the hem before cutting the fabric. Anyone who has made this top knows the front piece is confusing and my attempts to even the hem were awful. It’s still wearable, but one side is much shorter than the other side.

I still love this top – I find the neckline pleats so elegant and flattering. Even despite the obvious fitting problems. The front isn’t so bad…

DSC_0744But look at the back! The shoulders fit terribly. I still wear this top, and have gotten many compliments, but I’m constantly tugging the shoulders forward. I’d alter the pattern, but (1) it’s hard enough to fit a normal top let alone a crazy front pattern piece! and (2) I’m not sure how many more times I’ll make this very distinctive top.

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I can’t say for certain, but I don’t think I’ll be posting much in the next few months. I have so much lab work and writing to do (plus I’m on a Jury right now!); however I plan to force myself to sew a little here and there to reduce stress and embrace my creative side. I can’t decide whether I should undertake more involved projects (pants, jackets, etc) or simple projects (tops, knit garments). The benefit to simple tops is the immediate feeling of accomplishment, but the benefit of an involved project is that I know exactly what to work on when I’m in my sewing area. I’m very indecisive so even simple projects can be tripled in time because I stare at patterns and fabric forever before making a decision.

Do any of you readers have suggestions on projects to work on during stressful times? Have you found simple or complex projects to be more rewarding?