Fashion

Resort 2019: Last Night I Dreamt of San Pedro

san_pedro_color_balI am sewing through the winter blues by working on some hot weather projects. I’m calling them the Resort 2019 collection. First up is this airy little top using Love Notions‘ Rhapsody pattern. I knew that the pattern would work, having made it several times. The fabric was another story. I’ve never sewn with such a lightweight fabric before.

Sewing the tissue-thin batiste was a bit like trying to sew cotton candy. I was able to pull it together using careful pinning and cutting, but next time I will splurge on some wash-away stabilizer.

The results though! It’s almost weightless and has a soft, natural feel against the skin. I have a feeling that it will become a summer favorite.

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See my review of Rhapsody on patternreview.com here

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

Simplicity 8386 Tie-Neck Crossover Tops

After tackling a few challenging projects recently, I have really enjoyed doing some fun easy sewing. I probably would not have tried Simplicity 8386, but a friend bought the wrong size and gave me hers. I’m so glad she did! I have made a bunch of tops with it and have even more in the works.

The multi-size pattern contains pieces for three completely different tops. They are all casual warm-weather looks intended for moderate stretch knits. For this post, I’m going to focus on View A.

crossover_top_12crossover_top_13View A is the only top of the three that is not tight to the body. I think that makes it flattering for a wider range of people, so I was surprised that so far it doesn’t have any reviews on patternreview.com (the other 2 have several). The front body is two piece

s that cross in a faux-wrap style. The volume comes from a series of tucks which disappear into the waistband. Hate to hem? No hemming needed. All of the edges are enclosed or finished with binding. The neckband continues to the back and ends in ties. Since

I wear my hair short, I have to admit I have become more partial to garments with interesting back details like this one.

I made this top twice. It’s interesting to see how two different materials behave with the same make. The red top is in a medium weight cotton/lycra jersey with a lot of stretch. The blue and white one is in a lightweight rayon/lycra jersey with less stretch.

Binding

I was wondering how I was going to have enough material to cut bias strips when it hit me – the fabric is already stretchy. I can just use horizontally cut strips instead! It’s entirely possible that the sewing world knows this already, but it’s new to me. Wouldn’t it be nice if the pattern companies factored binding into their yardage recommendations and layouts?

Gaping opening

crossover_top_7Like wrap-style dresses and tops in general, I found that the front tended to reveal a lot more than I intended. I had to make some kind of adjustment to keep it closed, or else wear a camisole underneath. I rejected the cami idea just because these are supposed to be for hot weather. I could tack the overlap in place, but I didn’t want to have to iron around it if the top needed touching up. I settled on sewing a small snap fastener closure instead. I think it works pretty well, and I can leave it unsnapped for washing and ironing.

Note to beginners

This pattern is part of Simplicity’s Easy-To-Sew series. I would agree that it is easy, but View A may be a little overwhelming for a complete beginner. For those new to garment sewing, I would start with View C.

Next time, I go a little crazy with Simplicity 8386 again. Stay tuned!

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I reviewed this pattern on patternreview.com. Click here to read.

Fashion

Sleeveless Rhapsody

Rhapsody-1-8Independent pattern company Love Notions sells a blouse with a loose, peasant style bodice entitled Rhapsody. I love wearing this kind of top in warmer weather and have been looking for a good pattern. What made Rhapsody stand out from the others was their 8 different sleeve options: sleeveless, cap, short, 3/4 with cuff, 3/4 with flare, trumpet, flutter, and bishop. Whew!

Love Notions sells multi-size downloadable PDF patterns. You can print them at home and tape together your printouts, or you can do what I do and send it off to be printed onto large single sheets. (Right now, the best deal seems to be pdfplotting.com). I was delighted by the thorough instructions Love Notions provides as part of the download. In addition to the usual stuff, they include color photos of tricky steps and links to instructional videos.

Rhapsody is designed to be made with lightweight wovens. All of the versions have narrow bias bound necklines, so you also either need purchased or handmade bias tape.

Rhapsody-1-11Since the Marfy short sleeve top didn’t use up all of the pretty cotton lawn fabric, I thought there might be enough to make a Rhapsody. I laid my scraps and pattern pieces on the cutting table to see if I could make it work. I almost had enough to make the sleeveless version, but nothing was wide enough for the single piece back. I changed things around a little so the back was made from two pieces instead and just barely made it all fit.

I did not have enough scrap left to make narrow bias binding, so I found some plain white pre-made in my stash. I think it’s a good idea to keep a few sizes of basic colors on hand just in case. I’ll stock up on black, white, navy and red (those are my basics anyway) whenever I see a bargain.

Rhapsody-1-1Before I put it all together, I thought about how I could embellish it to stand apart from my other top. I played around with all of my scrap trimmings to see what looked good. The curved bottom edge didn’t look right with any trim, but the front came alive with a faux placket. I just sewed two lengths of cotton lace an equal distance from the center front before doing anything else.

Remember those pockets I couldn’t find a use for? I think they look like they are made to go on the Rhapsody.

Again going through my stash, I found a couple of buttons that looked good on the pocket fronts. Initially, I was going to put a row down the placket, but with the ties (or bow) at the neck, it was just one thing too many.

Rhapsody-1-14Assembly included many different techniques. There are french seams, tucks, gathering, narrow hems and bias trimmed neck opening. Even if you have no experience, the instructions should get you through it. Applying binding to a V-neck is a tricky proposition, but I was able to do it perfectly the first time by following their tutorial.

I think it turned out great, albeit a little tight across the back. I scooped out the armholes by about 1/4 inch, which helped. Next time I will try a wider yoke, or possibly go up an entire size. There will definitely be a next time for this one. I really want to try out some of the different sleeves.

Next time: T-Shirts cut on the bias.

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Neckline with Bow
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Neckline open
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French Seams
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Tuck in back

Happy Sewing!

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Fashion

Drape Neck Summer Sweater

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I knew this knit fabric had possibilities the minute before I impulse-bought it.

My top started with a look at my fabric stash.  I have had this piece of deep olive knit for years.  It’s a thin knit which drapes well, but still is opaque enough not to need lining.  I remember a younger, more foolish me standing at the remnant table thinking “I know it’s only a yard, but it’s so pretty…  I’ll think of something!”  It’s about time I proved to myself I know thing or two about using foolish fabric purchases. Game on!

One of my go-to tops is a sleeveless pullover made of a similar weight sweater knit.  I wondered if I could use it as a model.

Red and Black Stripe Top
I used this top as inspiration for my project.

Preparing the pieces took some patience.  It was hard to keep the knit from stretching while cutting and marking. For a marking tool, I used a yellow chalk wheel. It made nice, clear marks without pulling the fabric.

While I wanted to serge as much as possible, I did not have matching thread.  I knew any dark neutral would work for the side seams, since darker colors tend to recede into the background.  But the thread used to hem the neck, bottom and sleeves would be visible on the front, so I opted to use my regular machine and my single matching spool for the hems and the tucks.  I used plain black in the serger loopers and moved the matching spool to the serger’s right needle position. I serged the sides, shoulders and the raw edge of the cowl with a three thread overlock seam.

Again, I seem to have chosen a tricky fabric.  I had to pull out all of my tricks to keep the sewing machine from swallowing it.  In the end, I laid a scrap of tear-away stabilizer under the knit to get my seams started.

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View B was similar to the inspiration top and required less than a yard.

Once I worked out the machine setup issues, the top went together quickly.  I made one small addition to the pattern instructions, stabilizing the shoulder seams with stay-tape.

I would definitely make this top again.  Any solid color, abstract pattern, or even stripes would look great with it.  I would probably go with an easier fabric, but I *think* the second time would be faster even if I didn’t.

I can’t wait to wear this!  It looks good by itself or under an unbuttoned jacket.  It can be paired with jeans for a casual look, but is also completely appropriate as work wear.

Summer, here we come!

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TIP: You don’t have to thread the serger with a row of matching cones. Here I have threaded the right needle with an all-purpose polyester thread.
Olive drape neck top front
The finished top looks great!
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Nothing fancy, just a nice, plain back.