Monday, May 2, 2016

McCall's 7351 - Sleeveless shirtdress in white, green and black floral

Shirt dresses seem to be everywhere right now and this particular pattern is getting a lot of online love. I actually bought this pattern for the pointed hemline view, but decided to give it a go with a longtime stash fabric that I believe I bought locally a number of years ago.

This is a great pattern with lots of nice details - front button band, collar with collar stand, bias bound armholes, pockets, shirttail hemline - but what I love most about it is the way it skims the body but is still loose and comfortable. I've seen this dress belted by a number of others but I plan to wear mine just as you see it here. I cut my typical size 12 and made zero changes for fit. The length was a bit long for my preference so I did cut off 2" before hemming.

This fabric was not fun to sew with. It's 100% polyester and really resisted ironing. I love the print, though, and the fabric has a gridline texture that can be seen in the below close-up. Even though I hated working with it, the dress does not wrinkle in the least when it's worn. It will be great to throw into a suitcase and take on trips.

I love patterns that have pleated center backs instead of gathering. They lay nice and flat against the skin.

Of course I love all the topstitching on this dress and chose to do mine in black. Originally I sewed on black square buttons, but they completely disappeared on the dress so I replaced them with some simple white ones. I will always opt for pockets on the bodice of garments to give my bustline a little oomph.

When I make this pattern again I plan to raise the armholes about 1/2" as they're a little low. My undergarments don't show but I have low-set armpits (if that even is a thing) so keep that in mind if you're planning to make this dress.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Jalie 2921 - Sleeveless scarf-collar top in white striped metallic knit

I've used this pattern twice before, once with 3/4 sleeves and once with short sleeves. The short sleeve version was purged awhile back because the ties were really long and didn't look very good tied into a bow, but the silk jersey version is a nice basic that gets worn to church from time to time.

I used Mood Fabric's oyster/brown gray metallic striped cotton jersey knit. It's a thinner knit perfect for a top and has a matching larger stripe. Putting the two together in a simple garment would be a really fun look. I'll have to comb through my patterns to see if I can come up with something for fall.

Since I wanted more of a casual look and didn't want to tie the scarf into a bow, I cut the scarf shorter and on the fold. I cut a size T and made fabric facings for the armholes. A twin needle was used to hem the armholes and bottom hem.

This fabric has a subtle metallic sheen to it. I'm kind of a Magpie when it comes to fabric selection. If it's shiny or brightly colored my brain says, "Oooh, pretty! Come to Mama!"

This top match a ton of stuff in my closet and acts like a neutral. The skirt I'm wearing was made pre-blog, but I posted it way back in 2008. I recently lopped off 2 inches so I could wear it with flats in a casual setting. I'm all about the flats these days.

Here are some dressform pictures:

This was a fun and simple top to whip up. I have several other things to photograph and blog, provided I can get my photographer to cooperate. ;)

Note: This fabric was purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Vogue 1027 - Black & neon knit faux wrap dress

I'm eight years late to the party with this pattern from 2008. It's a designer pattern from DKNY and is still in print. I don't think knit wrap dresses ever go out of style. This dress is drafted to be quite a bit longer, but I wanted more of a casual look, so I cut it out to fall right below the knee.

The fabric was an impulse buy from JoAnn's and is a rayon/polyester blend. I rarely get fabric there anymore but I was running in during a pattern sale and stopped in my tracks when I spotted it. The colors are SO saturated and practically glow in person. I'd never seen anything like it.

After doing some pattern research on, I decided to cut the size 8. My typical Vogue size in knits is a 10, so this design runs a little big. I added 1.5" to the length of the bodice before cutting out my fabric. The belt is drafted to sit above the waistline which I didn't want, and I have a long torso.

The pattern of the fabric looked random when I bought it but when I went to cut it out I found that there was a definite line of symmetry down the middle. Luckily I had purchased enough to accommodate this mirroring.

I added 3/8" clear elastic to the neckline to prevent any gapping. I can bend over and grab things without exposing anything so that decision was a total win. The armholes are finished with shaped facings included with the pattern which I quite like. There is also a piece of elastic sewn under the belt which keeps the dress right at the waist. This fabric is white on the wrong side, so my belt was stitched right sides together and turned, which also saved me from having to topstitch on a single layer of knit.

I enjoy wearing comfortable day dresses during the summer, and I'm happy to add another one to my wardrobe. I will definitely be using this pattern again in the future. Now that I've got the fit down and have more experience with putting elastic in necklines, the next one should be a really quick project.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Vogue 1425 - Pamella Roland white & black lace dress

I got started on my Easter dress early this year so I wouldn’t run out of time like I usually do.

I fell in love with this Pamella Roland designer Vogue pattern the minute I laid eyes on it. I had to have THE EXACT SAME DRESS as the example on the envelope. But, you know, I have a lot of projects swimming around in my head at any given time, and I was willing to wait for just the right fabric to come along. When Mood Fabrics posted this Theory black cotton guipure lace a while back, I shouted “perfection!” at my computer monitor and snapped up 3 yards. Sadly it sold out while I was swatching the other fabrics I used for this project and there’s nothing else comparable listed at the moment. They do post them from time to time, so keep your eyes peeled if you are interested in making this pattern.

The body is made from Mood’s Jason Wu whisper white blended double faced crepe, of which only the blue colorway is currently available. (It must have sold out yesterday because I just checked on it on Friday in preparation for this post. This just proves yet again that if you like something on Mood’s website you’d better buy it quickly. It won’t be there for long!) Crepe remains one of my favorite fabrics to work with and wear. This one is made from a blend of viscose, cotton and nylon and is really beefy but drapes beautifully too. Because of that thickness I was able to leave off all the interfacing, underlining and horsehair braid the pattern calls for.

This pattern is fairly straightforward. I muslined the top and had only a few slight tweaks to get a perfect fit. I added 5/8″ to the bottom of the bodice for a long torso adjustment but probably could have done without the extra length. This dress is heavy, and the weight is pulling the bodice down slightly. I also took about 10 inches out of the width of the skirt due to fabric limitations from a cutting error. I sewed the top of the lace invisibly by hand to the bodice, a necessary step that is not addressed in the directions.

Vogue’s example dress has lace that is twinning on the back bodice which makes my eyes twitch, so I was careful to match mine up so that at least the top edge of the lace is uninterrupted from one side of the zipper to the other. My eyes also twitched from the lace that is swinging about below the hem of the dress, but after making this garment I can tell you that it is somewhat unavoidable. The lace is simply too heavy. I cut mine to so that the longest edges would be 1 inch above the hemline, but you can see it dipping down to the bottom edge in the first picture.

I love the pockets on this dress. I’ve not always seen the point of them but I’m coming around to the pockets-in-dress loving side.

The trickiest part of making this dress was attaching the skirt to the bodice. There is so much fabric to wrangle and it is a super thick seam. I had to aggressively grade the fabric so that it would lay as flat as possible against my waist. You can kind of see the various layers on the inside through the lining, which was made from Mood’s antique white silk habotai.

I opted to hem the lining and outer skirt separate from each other. There are certain times when it makes sense to hem the skirt to the skirt lining, but for the most part it is a recipe for disaster. Different fabrics drape differently, and unless you get it just perfect the hem will look bubbled and home-made. For this dress I whip-stitched the skirt invisibly by hand and machine stitched the lining. Oh, I forgot to mention that I took a 2″ hem without adding anything to the hemline. Per the pattern directions it is only suppose to be a 5/8″ hem, so my dress is 1 3/8″ shorter then drafted.

Dressform pictures:


Whew! That was a ton of work! I wish I had sewn some sort of waist stay during construction to help with the weight. I might still do it if I can figure out how to add one without creating more bulk in the waist area. However I am really pleased with how this dress turned out. It feels expensive and is well fitting. Black and white is timeless, and I plan to be wearing it for years to come.

Note: All fabrics were purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Vogue 8962 - Yellow striped long sleeve tunic

I am having so much fun making casual clothing lately! In the past I have mostly made fancier stuff and just purchased my casual clothing from stores. I still plan to make the really envolved garments, but you can expect to see a lot more everyday styles with interesting details on this blog in the coming months.

The pattern used is an OOP "Very Easy Vogue" pattern, 8962. I bought this pattern for the cowl neck view, which I cut out and sewed a number of years ago. At that time, unfortunately, I wasn't very knowledgeable about sewing with knits and picked a fabric that was too thin. This time around I used a nice weight yellow viscose ponte knit from Mood fabrics. I previously used this fabric in 2014 when I was pregnant for a maternity skirt. I knew then that I would need to make something more permanent in my closet and ordered another cut of it.

I cut the size 10 and it is loose but the bust fits nicely so I don't feel it is too big. My normal Vogue size is a 12, but I always go down one size for knits. I might go down to the 8 if I make this pattern again to tighten up the shoulder area.

Somehow I managed to cut the backs opposite of the example on Vogue's website. I also cut some off the bottom of the pattern the first time I made this, so I'm not sure how much shorter it is than it was drafted.

I modified the neckline from the directed 5/8" double folded hem to a folded piece of fabric cut on the straight grain. I folded it so that only the yellow is showing on the outside and topstitched with a 4 mm stitch length. I've figured out that this longer stitch length is the key to getting RTW looking results on knits, and also use it for the double needle stitching along the hemlines.

I was asked to show an inside picture of this type of neckline finish on my last top, so here it is. After topstitching on the outside, I graded the fabrics to lay as flat as possible on the inside. All other seams were finished with the overlocking stitch on my regular sewing machine.

Will I ever tire of the tunic with skinny pants silhouette? Probably not anytime soon. It's perfect for my mom-on-the-go lifestyle.

Here we have some photobombing children. Yes they are in shorts. We had the mildest winter in years and our current daily highs are in the 70s. It feels like heaven.

Note: This fabric was purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Vogue 8950 - Apple green + gray stripe long sleeve tunic

I've made yet another top! The pattern is Vogue 8950, which came out three years ago but is happily still in print. My two fabrics are some sort of modal/cotton knits, purchased online a few years ago. I loved the green colorway especially, and only bought the gray on a whim.

I enjoy the challenge of sewing with stripes. They take a bit of careful planning, but perfectly matching stripes are something that are not easily found in RTW. I matched up the gray and green fabrics so that the stripes are uninterrupted where they join.

This pattern runs large. My normal Vogue size is 12 and I usually go down to a 10 for knits. I cut this in an 8 and it's still pretty loose. The smallest size is a 6, so keep that in mind if you are a tiny person.

I like the longer length of this top and the curving hemline with side slits. I finished all my hems with a wide double needle. The inside seams I finished with my sewing machine's overlocking stitch.

The directions have you do a double folded hem for the neckline, but in my experience those always stretch out horribly. Instead I cut a binding 25.25" long and stitched it to the neckline, then topstitched to keep it from flipping out.

Except for having to set in the sleeves several times to get the stripes to match up, this was a quick project. I am planning to make this top once more before spring hits, and possibly for summer with the shorter sleeves.

Here's my little valentine who wanted to get a picture with me. I think I need an adult version of her dress.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Vogue 1389 again - Maroon wool knit baseball top

I am continuing to enjoy using up fabric from my scrap pile and making tops. Here is my latest creation from Vogue 1389, a Donna Karan designer pattern.

I first made this pattern back in December and it has seen lots of wear during this mild winter, so I decided to make another one using up a big scrap of maroon wool knit. Four LONG years ago (before I had many gray hairs - sob!) I used this fabric for a top with a draped neckline and wore it for Christmas. It was donated a year or so later because I really hate to wear anything fussy around my neck. But the fabric was perfectly lovely and I'm glad I had a big piece of it to make something that will actually get some wear.

This time I used an exposed seam detail throughout the shirt and love the outcome. It is achieved by stitching the pieces together with the wrong sides facing it, then ironing them flat and topstitching from the outside about 1/8" on either side of the seam. Then I carefully cut away the excess fabric. It looks really cool on fabrics with a terry like texture on the inside.

This is a very fitted pattern. Where I usually size down to a 10 on knits, I cut a straight size 12. I also dropped the armholes an inch like last time, as they are drafted really high. The sleeve bands were thick and dumpy looking so I oped to hem the sleeves right above the elbow. All hems were sewn with a wide set twin needle.

The neckline stretched out a bit when I was making this top so I sprayed it with water and threw it in the dryer with a damp towel. Twenty minutes later I took it out and the neckline had shrunk to a point where it lays nice and flat against my chest.

Even though I'm an Aggie I don't really own a ton of maroon stuff. Well, now I've got a least one top to wear with this cap. Whoop! Also Gig 'em.