Fashion · Travel · Vintage

Resort 2019: Tropical + Retro = Yay

Screen Shot 2019-03-25 at 12.26.09 PMButterick 6354 by Patterns by Gertie is a retro-style set of summer coordinates. I fell in love with it the first time I saw it, but held off making it until I had a vacation planned. This March was finally the time!

I had about four yards of a lightweight tropical print in my stash that seemed perfect. I knew I wouldn’t have enough to make all of the pieces, but I thought with some creative layouts, I might get pretty close.

Due to the fabric requirements, the shorts I made don’t use the Butterick pattern, but the rest of the pieces do. I’ve only made modifications for fit.

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The perfect print

Easy?

belizean_outfit_24Butterick rates this pattern as Easy, which they describe as follows:

There will be more details when the techniques are simple and fewer details when the techniques are more involved. Some fitting knowledge required.

Okaayyyyy…..

So, the garments with easy views have detailed instructions. The more complicated pieces have less. It’s left as an exercise for the customer to figure out which parts Butterick considers simple. When things get a little vague, you are expected to find (or already know) the answers on your own.

I think I did that and hopefully I can pass some of my newfound knowledge on to you.

I would rate the skirt as easy, the jacket as slightly more difficult, and the bustier as most difficult. Although I didn’t make them, I would put the side-zip shorts between the jacket and the bustier.


The Sarong

skirt_2This wrap skirt goes together easily and has some details that make it more flattering than many skirts that are much harder to make. There is a hook and eye that keeps the tucked layer in place* and ties that are shaped to make a pretty knot at the side. The tucks going in to the side tie and two back darts give it shape while keeping bulk at a minimum. It’s a nice feature that gives all kinds of body shapes a curvy look.

Instead of a waistband, the top edge is finished with bias binding. The other edges are simply finished with narrow hems. The pattern called for a purchased package of 1/2 inch binding, but I thought the contrast of a solid color would look wrong. I certainly didn’t see it on the pattern’s cover photo. Making my own was easy enough and didn’t use up too much material. It only requires a piece a little longer than the waist circumference.

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Oops – next time do up that hook and eye!

I have to admit that I accidentally sewed the ties on upside down. It looked nice anyway, so I didn’t change it. Done correctly, it should be even better!

Being an easy view, the skirt had a nice complete set of instructions.

* I forgot to do the hook when I took pictures, so all of them have the inside layer hanging down a little bit.


The Bolero Jacket

bolero_6The bolero might be the most versatile view in the pattern set.

It’s just big enough to cover the shoulders when worn over a slim fitting top. While the sleeves and shoulders would accommodate a variety of shapes with no adjustment, the ribcage/bust area uses darts for a close fit. I didn’t need to make adjustments, but given that I usually reduce fitted garments there, I would say it’s worth checking before sewing.

I didn’t have enough fabric to do the self-lining the pattern called for. I used a simple lightweight unbleached woven instead. I also chose to carefully topstitch the sleeves closed instead of slip-stitching. Using this technique, the jacket can easily be made reversible.

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Testing the fit is important as the jacket fits very close to the body
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I saved a step by using my muslin as the jacket lining.

The Bustier

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Even without the halter strap, careful fitting and boning keep the top smooth and flat against the body

The bustier was the most ambitious project I have undertaken in a while. I was pleased to find out that it was not beyond my ability, although there were many steps.

Preparing the Pattern

I knew from experience that I would need to make a long waist adjustment, so I made that pattern modification before I did anything else. I then started a test of the front and back body pieces. My test bodice revealed a lot of fit issues. I pinned out new bust darts and new side seams and tried again. Success! I transferred all of the changes to the paper pattern using colored pencil to make sure I knew which lines to use. Once that was done, I adjusted and smoothed out the lines indicating boning placement.

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If you use 1/4 inch gingham to test your bodice, you can just count the squares to double check measurements.

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The Zipper

The pattern uses a lapped zipper application with a separating zipper. Separating zippers are easily found in 7 inch lengths, which is what the pattern calls for. But since I made a long waist adjustment, I needed a longer one.  After much searching, I found that they can be custom ordered from Botani Trim.  I paid more for my custom zipper, but I really love it. It has metal teeth on soft twill tape, which really makes it feel authentically retro.

Boning

The pattern calls for 2 1/2 yards of 1/4 inch boning.

I started with a package of Dritz featherlite boning, then halfway in noticed that 2 1/2 yards would require 2 packages so things sat around for a while until I got more. Continuing with my theme of making mistakes from not reading carefully, I accidentally ordered a different boning the second time. The other type turned out to be a 1/4 inch casingless version.

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When complete, the top contains 10 strips of boning. That gave me plenty of time to experiment with the two different types and how to sew them.

The less expensive uncased boning worked fine and will probably be what I use in the future. I used some scrap bias tape to make casings, which was fine for this because the casings were sandwiched in between the lining and the surface fabric. I would choose something softer and stronger if the casing was going to come in direct contact with skin.

By the tenth strip, I had a process.

Carefully mark the wrong side of the lining fabric with the placement lines and the seam lines.

Then, for each boning strip:

  1. Make a small arrow in the seam allowance to show the center of each placement line.
  2. Cut casing strip to go from seam line to seam line
  3. Iron small squares of fusible tape to upper and lower edge of casing (more for longer or curved sections)
  4. Fuse casing in place
  5. Using blind hem foot, sew casings in place close to the edge, leaving top and bottom open.
  6. Cut boning strip to casing length.
  7. Using nail clippers, clip ends into curved shape
  8. Using lighter, slightly melt ends to smooth them (takes a little practice)
  9. Insert the boning into the casing.

I have to say that I am amazed at how effective the boning is at smoothing out all of the top’s little pull lines and wrinkles.

Another unexpected bonus was that I don’t need to wear a bra under this top. The boning is placed directly over the bust points, so it conceals very well.

Putting it all Together

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The Shorts

belizean_outfit_32I did my best to squeeze all four of B6354‘s views into the fabric I had, but there was just not enough for the shorts. So I took the pattern pieces I had from my Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts and just barely made them fit with the scraps.
Perhaps that should have been a hint, because squeeze and just barely fit is what these shorts are all about! It seems that I took too much comfort in the comfort food over the winter. Oh well. They’ll make great motivation for getting in shape this summer.
I go into detail on how to make them here: Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts – Part 1 and here: Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts – Part 2.



belizean_outfit_31Review Links

I reviewed parts of this pattern on patternreview.com:
Bolero Review
Bustier Review
Sarong Review

belizean_outfit_21Materials

Main Fabric
Lining Fabric
Separating Zipper – Custom Length
Separating Zipper – 7 inch
Dritz Featherlite boning
1/2 inch Buttons
Bias Binding
7 in non-separating Zipper
3/4 inch button
Lightweight fusible interfacing
Butterick 6354 Sewing Pattern
Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts Sewing Pattern

Have you made a bustier before? Corset? I would love to hear from you!

Until next time, happy sewing!
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Fashion · Fitting

Getting Started on my Designer Pattern

designer_18Last week I wrote about choosing a designer pattern from Vogue. I was between a beautiful on-trend jumpsuit and a cute pull-on dress with a tie front. The winner is…  the easy one!

Although I love the jumpsuit, I just couldn’t justify making it when I don’t have any events to bring it to.

Also, I find myself drawn to Rebecca Taylor’s style aesthetic. Her collections provide me with a lot of inspiration, featuring prominently in my Fall 2018 mood board on pinterest.

I was reluctant to cut into the silk I chose for the final version (Thanks, Mom!). So, I looked for some lightweight cottons to make a (hopefully) wearable muslin. I have plenty of sundress-worthy cottons in my stash, but it was tricky to find something that would look good from either side. In the end, I went with a sort of washed denim colored solid for the dress and a fun multicolor stripe for the lining.

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Both fabrics frayed like crazy, so I overcast the edges before sewing anything together.

I wanted to make sure that the ties fell at my natural waist, so I spent a more time preparing the pattern than usual. I added my normal long waist adjustment all the way around. The back overlay piece was a little perplexing. When I added the extra length, it completely changed the shape of the ties. I improvised a new curve to smooth it out, keeping the start and end points where they were and crossed my fingers.

I cut the pieces according to the directions with one exception. I thought it would be kind of neat to have the inside back piece be the same as the skirt lining.

Once I got to the sewing machine, I was delighted with how quickly it went together. The neckline and armholes are faced, but use bias binding for the facing instead of the more common facing pieces. I have been experimenting with this technique for a while, and actually prefer it in most cases. However, until you are used to it, it can be maddeningly confusing. If you are doing this dress and have never tried the technique, find an online tutorial and practice a bit first. It may save you a lot of seam ripping! The “very narrow hem” that I was wondering about turned out to be really easy. I like the way it turned out and will use it again on projects with lightweight fabrics. I think that some fabrics might do better with a rolled hem, though. I’ll have to test that out for the final version.

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Very narrow hem (top) and bias-faced armholes

One weird thing about the pattern is that instead of using a conventional casing for the waist elastic, you make a completely inner casing using the seam allowances. Essentially you get a casing “tube” that is only attached to the dress on one side, not both.  It works out, but probably would fail with any elastic wider than 1/4 inch. It doesn’t seem to matter that the casing is kind of free-floating.

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Inside front view shows seam allowance casing

Another technique that was new to me was reinforced stress points. You are supposed to cut small pieces of fabric and sew them to the wrong side of the overlay at each point. I departed from the instructions and chose to fuse my  little patches in place rather than sew them. I think they are probably stronger and they don’t show on the front. I used heat-n-bond lite 5/8″ tape for a quick and easy patch.

I haven’t done a lined skirt in a while, but it was the last step and there wasn’t anything unusual about it. That kind of complacency is probably what led to me putting it in inside-out. Sigh. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. I’m leaving it that way. Shhh…

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Perfect! If you don’t look too close….

The finished dress fits! The ties wound up in the right place and look good. I do think it will look much better in a silkier fabric. The overlay sleeves made with semi-crisp cotton don’t drape elegantly down the shoulders like the ones on the pattern photo. I also think it would be much better with side pockets. But those are minor quibbles. It meets my test for wearability and I have a usable pattern so I’ll call it a success.

The next one in this series will be my first ever silk dress. Wish me luck!

Until then, happy sewing!

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More nuts and bolts…

And a few more pictures from my fashion shoot/dog walk…

Hey – check out my review of Vogue 1395 on patternreview.com here.

Fashion

Last Chance Sundress V9278

V9278_aHere in the US, the kids are going back to school and cooler weather is around the corner. Oddly, we are breaking heat records here in Rhode Island and anyone with air conditioning is staying inside. Fortunately for me, that’s where the sewing machine is!

I love wearing sundresses, but somehow never got around to making one this year. It’s time.

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the elusive inspiration dress

I chose Vogue 9278 because I wanted the a Burda Style magazine pattern that was used to make a beautiful dress in the Spring Forecast section of the April/May 2018 issue of Threads Magazine. Despite an hour of effort, I could not find the Burda pattern anywhere. Vogue 9278 was one of Threads’ recommended substitutes.

The inspiration dress was described as having been made with a pastel voile. So I looked through my stash for a voile that would work. I found enough yardage of a blue and yellow geometric pattern* in cotton voile. I also had some lightweight woven in bright yellow for the lining. Stash busting!

*the fabric was a bargain find from Fabric Mart a few years ago. It’s an Anna Maria Horner quilting fabric called Diamond Mine. It turns out that Fabric Mart stopped carrying it, but you can still get the matching ribbon. I’m kind of tempted to buy some and make a matching leash for my dog. That’s not going overboard, is it? Fabric Mart does carry lots of other Anna Maria fabrics, including a few voiles – I love their bright color combinations.

You may have noticed that my dress looks absolutely nothing like the Burda dress. Apparently not all voiles are created equal. Mine has a lot more body and is almost opaque. Even so, it makes a pretty cute little slip dress. I’ll probably wear this all of the time. I don’t think I would have worn the pretty floaty one as much, although I would still love to have it. (I made View A.)

The dress was pretty simple to put together. I think Vogue was being fair this time in putting it in the very easy category. As usual, I made things more difficult than they had to be. I became a little obsessed with pattern matching. I needed those diamonds to line up! I also used an invisible zip, just because that was what I had on hand. The pattern doesn’t actually demand it.

Above: Implementing my Obsession

I think if/when I make this one again, I will build in a bra and maybe try a handkerchief hem. If I go with a heavier fabric again, I’ll also add pockets. With the lining taken out, I think it would also make cool under-dress for a mesh or chiffon cover.

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Note about pictures:

Most of the time, I use helpers to take pictures of me wearing my finished garments. This round was completely DIY. I got a new toy: a little bluetooth remote control that lets me take pictures from my phone without having to hold it ($8.49 from Amazon). I still prefer help, but I’m excited to try taking pictures a little more often. You will probably notice that I am holding it along with the dog leash in the next photo group. Sadly, the remote won’t tell you if you have hair in your face or a wrinkle in your dress. Ahem. I’m still learning, so most of the pictures are a little low-resolution. Stay with me – I plan on improving!

My dog is much more interested in fresh mulch than fashion.

More sewing coming soon!

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Check out my review on patternreview.com: Vogue 9278

 

 

Fashion · Vintage

Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 3: Button Up!

pinstripe31My fear of buttonholes has been holding me back, but I finally worked through it and finished! I don’t suffer from Koumpounophobia, but I was perversely amused to learn that fear of buttons is a thing. Apparently, Steve Jobs had it. My reluctance had more to do with a long history of messing up sewing projects on the very last step.

I chose simple dark brown buttons and brown all-purpose thread. Before starting, I needed to do a little trial and error. I haven’t used my machine to sew buttonholes in years, and I never did it often enough for it to become automatic. Rather than ruin my work, I set up a trial swatch to match the fabric and interfacing in the garment. Boy, was I glad I did!

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My “Easy to Sew” pattern gave these instructions:

Transfer buttonhole markings to garment.

Make buttonholes at markings.

So….  that helped a lot.

Next step – read my sewing machine‘s manual. The machine’s instructions were also basic, but at least gave me enough to start experimenting.

I made a swatch with the same interfacing, lining and pinstripe fabric that I would be sewing.

After much experimentation, I was finally able to consistently stitch the buttonhole I wanted. I actually had to make a second test swatch because I ran out of room on the first one.

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Here’s a full list of adjustments and additions I used.

  1. Place tear-away stabilizer under the buttonhole area.
  2. Use a walking foot.
  3. Set the stitch width to the maximum (in my case, 5mm).
  4. Run the bobbin thread through the eye of the bobbin case’s hook. This increases the tension on the bobbin thread.
  5. Increase the stitch density by adjusting the machine’s balance.
  6. Increase the presser foot pressure.
  7. Mark the vertical boundary of the buttonholes with two strips of blue tape.
  8. Insert a strip of wash-away stabilizer between the lines of tape. Use wash-away marker on the stabilizer to mark the buttonhole placement. Bonus – the lines are highly visible against the bright white wash-away.
  9. I still had problems with the long side of the buttonhole rectangle staying straight. Solution: set up the seam guide and use more blue tape to give it a “track” to follow.
  10. Make several buttonholes on the test swatch. I did not work with the actual vest until I could get three in a row exactly right.
  11. Open the holes in the test swatch sample and make sure the button fits. I used a very sharp seam ripper to cut the slots.
  12. Apply Fray Check to the buttonhole stitching.
  13. Before cutting the holes open, remove the stabilizer and place pins just inside the holes’ bartacks. The pins prevent over-cutting.

I checked and double checked my markings. Yes, I psyched myself out a little. One more triple check and I was ready to go.

Overkill? Maybe. You could make a case. But it worked!

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Why yes, those stripes do line up! So kind of you to notice.

I decided to hand-sew the buttons rather than machine-sew. The reason is that I wanted to make sure they were not attached too tightly. A too-tight button can pull through the fabric or distort the nice flat plane of the button placket.

I can’t believe it, but it’s really done!

I am so pleased with the finished outfit.

Do you have any tips for making buttonholes? Write a comment below – I would love to hear them.

In case you missed it, here is the rest of the series.

Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 1: the Pants

Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 2: the Vest

I have lots of great things planned for 2018. I can’t wait to share them with you!

Fashion

Floral Sundress: the UFO has landed

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Art for view B Vogue 8469

Beautiful fabric, cute pattern, halfway done….  why did I ever stop working on this?  Has this thought ever occurred to you?  I have a stack of boxes in a dark corner – each one containing everything that I need to finish a sewing project.

I found myself in the mood the clear out that corner recently. This incomplete sundress from 2013 called out to be finished.  It was really a fabric-driven project.  I fell in love with the painterly, multicolored floral the minute I saw it.  I splurged and bought some yardage at the full retail price, which is unusual for me.  It seems to be a cotton poplin with a little bit of stretch.

When I cut out this dress, I paid particular attention to the bright, large scale design.  I especially made sure that the large yellow sunflowers would be placed in flattering areas.  I also thought about how the pieces would connect to each other so the design would flow in a pleasing way.  Placed incorrectly, large design elements can ruin a garment.

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Fully lined bodice

The pattern itself was yet another Very Easy Vogue, now out of print (Vogue V8469).  I added pockets and omitted the sash, but otherwise left the dress pattern alone.  I am not sure this one should have been considered “very” easy though.  It requires lining, inserting a zipper, and installing kind of fussily small elastic casing for the cap sleeves.

I cut the lining from a soft old white bedsheet. Bedsheets can really make nice lining for casual clothes. They will not shrink, and most will outlast typical fashion fabric.

When I opened the UFO* box, I found that I had cut and marked all of the pieces and finished most of the bodice.  Oh…  yeah.  I stopped working on this because the top was too small.  I don’t remember if I cut it too small, or whether I made a sewing mistake, but instead of being semi-fitted, it was crushingly tight.  The bodice side seams were still unsewn.  At the time, I couldn’t decide if I needed to insert more fabric under the arms, or whether I could make it work by just changing the placement of the side seams.  Back then, I had to make alterations by trying things on and pinning in front of a mirror. Since I made a duct tape dress form, I don’t have to do that anymore.  I put the top on duct-tape Cindy and figured out my modifications in just a few minutes.

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Overlocked seams

The fit and flare style is flattering on so many body types. You have freedom of movement and a classic silhouette at the same time.

All of the raw edges are either encased or overcast, so washing in the washing machine will not lead to annoying loose threads and fraying.

*UFO: Unfinished Object