Big, fluffy sleeves

I would like to announce that I am personally thrilled with all the cool and weird sleeves that pattern companies are drafting these days. I’m always behind trends and haven’t sewn any of the bell and bishop sleeves that have been coming out, but I’ve been buying a few patterns here and there for when the urge strikes.

I did sew up a couple of unusual big-sleeved beauties earlier this year – one of them was probably the first project of 2016. | Vogue 1228, v1228 Vena Cava

I’d made it once before as a dress. This time, I raised the neckline by 1″, did some kind of weird square/forward shoulder adjustment that I can’t remember, widened the hips to fit my measurements, and cropped it at a shirt length because I wanted to use up some larger silk CDC scraps. | Vogue 1228, v1228 Vena Cava

Ultimately, I wish I’d left the neckline lower but narrowed it. I could use a sway back adjustment. I still like it and wear it though. This pattern – designed by Vena Cava – is so cool and unusual, and construction is fun but not overly complicated origami.

Then in July, I made a new McCall’s pattern, 7325, in a black cotton voile. | McCall's 7325, M7325

I narrowed the bib based on my design preferences, and cuffed/tacked the sleeves. I also added some vintage cotton ribbon from Nancy’s Sewing Basket as trim. | McCall's 7325, M7325

I think part of the cotton was rancid, because it washed away. I still like the visual effect enough not to remove it. | McCall's 7325, M7325

In addition to both of these projects featuring big, fluffy cuffed sleeves, they are both sewn out of fabrics I don’t really love. Voile is very irritating to me, for some reason! It’s evasive during cutting and sewing, sheer but with body, and attracts lint. Silk CDC is a pleasure to sew and beautiful to look at, but there’s something about it that puts me off from wearing it very often. Still, I like both of these projects and the black top saw quite a bit of wear during the summer months.

I’ve had some time off lately, and have been doing quite a bit of sewing. I have this crazy idea I can blog what I’ve made, plus a couple other unblogged stragglers, before the end of the year – three shirts, four dresses, and denim trousers in total. (Let’s just ignore the two shirts and pair of jeans I sewed my husband). Wish me luck!


Top 5 Goals for 2013

Nathan and me and The Dress

Happy New Year! Nathan and I spent NYE celebrating at our good friends’ house party with an amazing view of the Seattle fireworks. I’m happy to report that the Wedding Guest Dress winterized quite nicely, like many of you said it would! I was feeling brave and wore it with sweater tights and boots. I was warm enough to walk a mile to our place since the buses were advancing at 1 block/10 minutes! Today we woke up early and headed to my parents’ place for my favorite holiday event, a traditional Japanese feast with my extended family and good friends. If yesterday and today hadn’t been so satisfying and fun, I’d be feeling more tragic about the prospect of returning to work tomorrow.

All right, let’s talk goals for 2013.

I have a funny relationship with goals; I start failing as soon as I put them in writing. My goal could be to continue a good habit that I’ve already cultivated and as soon as I write it down, I’ll stop cold. I’ve gotten a little better in a past couple of years, probably because I’m learning to set more realistic goals. With that rather large caveat, there are some things I’m interested in exploring this year!

  1. Making a sloper
  2. Textile experiments: learning more about applique and embroidery as well as putting my knowledge of shibori and maybe silk screening into practice
  3. Designing and printing my own fabric for a project
  4. Using up my fabric scraps in fun ways (suggestions appreciated!)
  5. Taking better photos (I’m enlisting my sis for help on this one)
(I’m also knocking around ideas for fun sewing projects, like a sailor dress, a kimono jacket and some others, but didn’t want to put those down as goals since one of the things I enjoy about sewing is making what I want when I want, dammit!)
So that brings is to the end of 2012 Top 5 lists! I enjoyed this activity immensely, thanks again to Gillian for the wonderful idea!
So long, 2012

Top 5 Hits of 2012

Hi there! Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I realized that I don’t really have much/any time to wrap up my Top 5 lists before the end of the year! Somehow I always imagine that there is two weeks between Christmas and New Year’s instead of one (maybe because they’re so packed with activity). So with that in mind, I’m going to forge ahead with my Hits without the inclusion of my newer projects. Luckily, I’ve made at least five very useful and delightful projects this year; here they are in roughly chronological order!

1. The Persimmon Shirt

This shirt is every bit as bright as the photograph, and it cheers me up every time I put it on. It walks the narrow line between success and failure because I unknowingly made it from very low-quality, fragile voile. This means I only hand-wash it, but I still consider it a favorite from 2012!

Pattern: McCall’s 6436
Fabric: cotton voile

2. The Grown-Up Flower Girl Dress

My life-long dream of being a flower girl was fulfilled this February thanks to my very indulgent uncle and now-aunt who got married after 20 years together. I waffled between making matching dresses for my sister and me and decided at the last minute to go for it. I made a muslin for myself, finished my dress, then made some guesses about my sister’s dress based on how mine fit her.

Even though I haven’t had the occasion to wear this dress again (where does one wear a loud hot orange Amy Butler floral?), I’m so proud of the fit and construction.


As a bonus, I also made my husband’s shirt that he wore to the wedding. We’re looking practically model-esque thanks to my sister’s superior photography skills!

Patterns: Butterick 5639 (dress),  McCall’s 6044 (shirt)
Fabric: Amy Butler quilting cotton (dress), thrifted cotton gingham (shirt)

3. The Red Bustier

Here’s another exercise in good fitting. I made several rounds of adjustments to a muslin before making this bustier top and really saw a lot of gains from it. This top layers really well and has been a versatile piece for both work and other occasions. The fabric was first thrifted by my friend Elizabeth, then re-gifted to me when she made a big move to California.

Pattern: McCall’s 6325
Fabric: thifted quilting cotton

4. The Wedding Guest Dress

I’m so very proud of this dress. Somehow I managed to sew slowly and carefully but complete it in a matter of days before a wedding (with a muslin!) It was my first time sewing a big project using silk and definitely the most expensive fabric I’ve ever sprung for.

Pattern: Vogue 1228
Fabric: silk habotai

5. The Long-Awaited Minoru

Months in the making, my Sewaholic Minoru has quickly become one of the most-worn pieces in my wardrobe. I expect that will be even more true when the weather warms up a bit. I won’t go on too much about this piece since it’s blog debut was fairly recent, but it definitely makes the Top 5.

Pattern: Sewaholic Minoru
Fabric: Cotton twill with cotton lining

There you have it! The Top 5 Crab&Bee creations of 2012. (PS I had no idea I was such a McCall’s fan! The first three items on this list all involve a McCall’s pattern).

Wedding guest dress

Remember way back when, when I was deciding whether or not to make a last-minute dress for a wedding I was going to? I had a sneak peek here and desperately wanted to show off my new dress sooner, but some failed photoshoots and school got in the way.

BUT! Sister Bee came to my rescue and took these amazing photos so I could finally show you guys the dress! The pattern is Vogue 1228 by Vena Cava, with a few modifications.


The fabric is a thin but very stable printed silk. It’s the most money I’ve ever spent on fabric for a single project, aside from my wedding dress. Even with my tight timeline, I made myself make a muslin because I knew I would have sobbed if I’d spent tons of money on fabric, sewed up the dress and didn’t like it. I sewed suuuuper slowly with a tiny needle and really babied the fabric.


The major modification I made was foregoing the sleeve cuffs. I tried them with the muslin and engaged in some major waffling. In the end, they just didn’t feel necessary with this fabric. I shortened the loop that would have been used to hold the cuff up to pull the sleeve up instead because I liked how it raised the sleeve up on the sides.

That said, I’m sorely tempted to make this dress again in a different, more every-day fabric with the cuffs. (Why do I always feel like I have to make everything in duplicate and triplicate?) The pattern was really well-done, and I thought it did a great job of making the ease and volume in this dress flattering. I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a unique dress.


I’m on the lookout for another occasion to wear this dress, but it just feels a little too fancy for work. And given that the temperatures in Seattle have finally dropped to our normal 44 – 57 degree (F) range, the dress might have to wait patiently until next July. Still, I’m proud of myself for branching out of my normal fabric choices and making a party dress.