Saturday, December 26, 2015

McCall's 3830 - Silver sequin straight skirt

Just in time for year end festivities I have made something sparkly! A sequin skirt has been on my list for a few years now. This fabric was purchased months ago but has just been sitting there staring at me because I was procrastinating. Sewing with sequins is always extremely messy and time consuming. I finally decided it would be handy to have for New Year’s Eve so I stitched it up. Surprise! Because I chose a fabric with super tiny sequins, they didn’t need to be removed for the seams or darts, and I had no messy piles of them to clean up. I used Mood fabric’s baby sequins on mesh, which they carry in several different colors. I ordered a yard for this straight skirt and have plenty left over.

The pattern is my TNT (Tried ‘N True) straight skirt pattern, McCall’s 3830, which I have made a thousand times. I wanted to keep the sequins from catching on my blouses so I opted for a grosgrain ribbon waistband. I also fully lined my skirt with some silver china silk.

The back invisible zipper has to be gently pulled up to not get hung up on any sequins. It didn’t give me any problems to insert.

I’m on auto pilot when I make this pattern. If only all my sewing could be such a reliably good fit!

I had to add a band of fabric to the bottom of the lining since I cut it a little short. I always like my lining long enough to cover the top edge of the turned up hem. Then I do a sit-down test to make sure it doesn’t peek out.

The waistband is made using a 1 3/8″ wide petersham grosgrain ribbon that I stashed for this project. This is the 3rd time I've used this type of waistband finish and I love to do it. Next time I'll snap some pictures and post a little how-to here for anyone interested. I also sewed a 1″ wide ribbon in the same color to the bottom of the skirt and turned it to the inside for the hem. It was whip-stitched in place by hand. I didn’t want any scratchy sequins touching my skin or chewing up my hosiery.

Finding ways to use fancy fabrics in my non-fancy lifestyle is fun to me. I have it styled here for a casual date night or New Year’s house party with friends but it could easily be paired with a silver silk charmeuse blouse and heals to be cocktail party appropriate.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Vogue 1389 - Casual coral sweatshirt

After making two lined dresses in a row I decided I needed an easy project. For me, the easy projects I undertake usually end up being a lot more work than I think they’ll be. Not this time, though. I whipped up this fitted top in just a few hours. The fabric, a Thakoon coral sweatshirt cotton, was purchased from Mood fabrics a few years (!) ago and has long since sold out. Mood has a number of similar cotton terrycloth options available. My personal favorite is the grey and metallic terry knit, which I’ll probably get for another one of these tops.

Originally I had a large piece of this fabric which I cut into for a casual dress. Unfortunately it was not matched well to the pattern, and the project ended up in a trash can. I had a large scrap piece left over and loved the color, so I saved it until I could find a way to use it up. I used Vogue 1389, a Donna Karan designer pattern. It’s a bit of a sleeper pattern that hasn’t been made much by the online sewing community. The example garments are all gray and a bit boring but the design lines are really nice.

This is a well fitted top. The sides wrap around to the back and are angled in such a way that they provide some nice waist definition. I cut my usual Vogue size 12 but lowered the armholes by an inch. They are super high as drafted! The wide neckband and sleevebands I sewed using the opposite side of the fabric for a little contrast. I had to piece my back together because I was short on fabric.

That back seam and the side seams were sewn with the wrong sides together, then ironed flat and topstitched so that the wrong sides show on the outside. This is a fun finish that I used on a project a long time ago. I contemplated using it to finish the arm seams as well, but thought it might be too distracting with the contrast along the neckline. Now I wish I’d done it.

I adore the length of these sleeves. Unless it’s really cold, I find myself pushing up my long sleeve tops to just below my elbows. They would be really easy to lengthen if you prefer the longer length.

I finished all the inside seams with the overlocking stitch on my machine. The neckline and sleeve bands were topstitched down to prevent the seam from twisting or flipping out.

The hem was sewn with a wide twin needle.

I first made this top up in a silk jersey and it did not have enough stretch recovery to make the neckline lay flat. The result was not flattering, so keep that in mind if you want to make this pattern up. Also the neckline will get stretched out when being attached and will need to be washed and dried to shrink it back, so a wool knit might not be the best choice of fabric.

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Vogue 8946 - Fuschsia wool ponte dress

Ponte knit is a well known and much loved fabric amongst the sewers of the world. It’s beefy and stable qualities make it a great option for body-con dresses and structured designs. I’ve sewn with my fair share of it over the years and, as with most fabrics, there is a spectrum of quality available. When I spotted this “fuchsia rose wool ponte knit” on Mood Fabric’s website some months ago, I snapped it up faster then lightning. I adore natural fibers and was positive that a ponte knit made from wool would be heaven to work with. Unfortunately many other people must have been as intrigued as I was since it sold out in record speed. However, here is a neat striped jersey knit that I’ve had my eye on for awhile that looks to be similar, and I currently have this plaid ponte in my stash awaiting the perfect pattern pairing.

The fabric was 60″ wide so I purchased my standard I-don’t-know-what-I’m-going-to-make-with-this length of 2 yards and went combing through my extensive pattern stash. Vogue 8946 immediately jumped out at me. The pleating details would really sing in a solid color and the long sleeve version would be perfect for winter.

I did a bit of pattern research and decided to cut my typical Vogue woven pattern size of 12. Usually I will go down a size for anything made in a knit fabric but this dress was described as close-fitting and it certainly is. After I got the fronts pleated and the top sewn to the bottom, I pinned it on my dressform and used liberal amounts of steam to get the pleats to lay nicely. This is where using a wool really worked out. It was simple to manipulate and took the shape of my dressform easily.

This pattern calls for a back zipper and, even though I was working with a knit, I did my best to follow the instructions. I do prefer a zipper in dresses as I often do my hair and makeup before getting dressed and they’re just easier to put on and not get smeared with deodorant or powder. I fused some knit interfacing along the center back and made several passes at zipper insertion. Every Single Time the bottom stuck out like a tail until I finally admitted defeat and did away with it.

The body of this dress is fully lined in black tricot from my stash. Vogue included a separate front pattern piece for the lining, which I always appreciate. Apologies for the dark pictures. We haven't had much sun around these parts lately.

I finished all the wool seams with the overlocking stitch on my machine. I don't think the edges would have unraveled much, but they did change in appearance when they came in contact with my iron. Better safe than sorry.

I took a 1.5″ hem instead of the narrow hem the directions call for. I slip-stitched it by hand onto the tricot knit lining. I also slip-stitched the sleeve hems by hand but not onto lining as I left the sleeves unlined.

Hurray! Another long sleeve dress to add to my wardrobe! That brings my total up to 5, not including my funeral dress or sweater dresses. I have other dresses I consider winter appropriate, but most are 3/4 sleeves or shorter - not sure why. Anyway, I do want to use this pattern again for a sleeveless summer version but I’ll definitely be adding some length to the hemline. I like the shorter length for tights and boots but probably not for bare legs.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Vogue 1283 - Navy viscose knit asymmetric dress

This is the garment I made in October for the Mood Sewing Network. I kept putting off posting it here, thinking I would find some time to take some interior/closeup pictures. Alas it has been an extremely busy month and is about to get even busier with the holidays upon us, so I'm just going to write this post with the pictures I already have.

I used Vogue 1283, a Tom and Linda Platt designer pattern from 2012 that now looks to be out of print. I always thought this design was really interesting with its asymmetrical gathers on the front and back of the dress. The cut-in-one sleeves were never my favorite though. Extra fabric folded up under my armpit is not a look I enjoy. I thought I might be able to modify the pattern to have set-in sleeves instead, and traced the armhole curves from another long sleeved knit dress pattern. I also used the sleeve pattern piece from that pattern. Success! I always love when a frankenpattern comes together.

I knew I’d need something thin to handle all the gathers and I also wanted a fabric with some weight so that the dress would drape nicely. Enter this midnight blue solid viscose knit from Mood Fabrics. I swatched it since I’d never worked with viscose knit before. The description on Mood’s website is accurate, it is a dense fabric with a beautiful drape.

This pattern is lined with the same fabric as the dress. If planning to make this design, don’t do what I did and think you don’t need the stay tape along the gathers and neckline. I don’t know if it was the fabric or not, but those gathered areas and neckline really stretched out when they came in contact with my iron. I went back with clear elastic to reinforce those areas. I added 2.5″ to the hemline and then took a 1.5″ hem whip-stitched by hand in place. I also whip-stitched the sleeve hems. I usually hem knits with a twin needle but wanted a cleaner finish for this dress.

This fabric will show iron marks so iron on the reverse side or use a press cloth with it. It was easy to work with and very luxurious feeling – almost like a thick silk jersey. I also already laundered this dress by washing it on the handwash setting and laying it flat to dry. Other than needing a slight pressing it came out without any change in appearance.

I'm super pleased to add another long sleeved dress to my closet. Here's my little photo-bomber:

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Vogue 1265 - Pamella Roland maroon wool crepe dress

It only took an entire month for me to make but I finally have a new dress! This Pamella Roland pattern, Vogue 1265, came out in 2011 and I just loved it. It's such a fun design - all business in the front and party in the back. There are hardly any reviews for it on and it's now out of print. (Anyone else feel sorry for these types of designer patterns that are lovely but largely ignored?) The envelope gives it an average skill rating and it's not a really difficult thing to make, but there is a ton of fabric in the skirt and that part gets attached early. It's a lot to keep up with and work around.

I made a muslin of the body and front skirt, but not of the back flared skirt. Based on that I cut a size 10 in the front from the arms down, tapering out to a 12 through the waist. For the back I cut a 12 from the shoulders to the waist, and a 10 from the waist to the hips. The front darts had to be pulled in a bit as there wasn't much bust shaping underneath them. I shortened the front slit at least 2 inches for personal preference. It's really just a design element as you don't need it to be able to walk well. The fabric at the shoulders extended out a little too far, and I do not have narrow shoulders. I cut 1/2 inch from that area, tapering to nothing at the sleeve sides.

I bought the fabric online somewhere several years ago. It's a nice weight wool crepe, which is always a well behaved fabric to work with. It drapes and presses well. The lining is Ambiance purchased locally.

This back skirt was quite a bit of work. The instructions have you pin it to another piece of fabric and let the bias parts stretch for 24 hours. I then basted it the the back pieces, pinned it to my dressform, and marked the hemline as straight as I could. After I trimmed away the uneven bits of the crepe, I lined it up with the lining and trimmed the lining as needed. There is a double pleat at the center back and two pleats at either side back seam, making for an extremely full skirt. Because the lining is sewn to the bottom of the skirt, there is no hem to turn up and sew invisibly, THANK GOODNESS.

One thing the instructions call for is interfacing all of the dress body except for the back skirt and the sleeves. I was unsure of what this would look like and didn't want a really stiff dress. However, I went ahead and interfaced everything with a nice weight woven fusable and the result is a dress that holds its shape but is not stiff.

Obligatory twirling picture:

Dressform pictures:
(The lighting in my room is mostly indirect this time of year and this fabric really soaked it up. I had to use a flash and lighten these pictures up quite a bit. I'm sorry if they're hard to see.)

There is an invisible zipper down the left side, which I ordered in a matching maroon from NYC. You can see the slight color difference in the crepe and the lining. I really like when the lining peeks out at the hemline when I'm walking or sitting. It's subtle but adds interest to a solid colored garment.

Here you can see the front lining. I really like how the front facing extend down to the slit area along the hemline.

There was a bit of handstitching involved. Here I have sewn the back body lining down invisibly to the top of the back skirt lining.

I changed the sleeve insertion slightly. I won't go into a lot of detail but I ended up using bias tape to finish off the armhole and then stitched it invisibly by hand to the dress lining. I did a similar finish to the sleeves on this dress, oddly enough another Pamela Roland design. You can read about it on that post if you want.

I adore my new fall wardrobe addition. It has that heavy weighted feeling of an expensive garment, if you know what I mean. I have plans to make some sort of sequined or beaded top to wear underneath. Now, on to something that doesn't involve miles of fabric or tedious fitting tweaks!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Simplicity 1462 - Turquoise floral fitted cotton top

It seems like I never have enough casual tops. Just when I find one I really like it gets a stain or a hole or a funky smell that just won't come out no matter how much it's laundered. Also I never want to make them. Why is this? Are they without challenge? Do I hate my top half and therefor never want to dress it? I'm going to have to remedy this. (But not in the immediate future. My current queue is all designer dresses and outerwear. Ha!)

This fabric is a beautiful cotton print from designer Anna Maria Horner and was purchased online a year or so ago. I bought it for my daughter but I loved the print so much that I decided to use it for myself instead. How selfish of me. In my defense I knew she would outgrow whatever I made for her in a single season. This way it can live forever in my closet.

I only had 1.5 yards of it and wanted something slightly structured. Simplicity 1462 has been in my stash for a few months now. I adore the cap sleeves in this version and the front ribbon embellishment. This floral is lineal and the pattern pieces needed to be carefully laid out so that the flowers lined up horizontally and no twinning occurred. The flowers aren't perfectly matched from seam to seam because that would be impossible in a princess seamed garment like this one. Rather I was trying to make it so no two flowers of the exact same were right next to each other. I was mostly successful.

In order to make a small bust adjustment without too much fiddling I cut the size 10 in the front through the bust tapering out to a 12 at the waist and below. The shoulders and back were cut in a 12 as well. It was a bit snug so I took only a 3/8" seam allowance at the sides. I cut 2" off the hemline and took a 2" hem. This shirt is drafted to be pretty long.

Those two flowers under my right arm aren't twins of each other but they do bug my eyes a little. Good thing that's under an arm where it's not too noticeable. When I attached the neckbinding and got the inside all slipstitched down, I noticed that the front and back neckline gaped away from my body. This is because the neckbinding that was drafted for this pattern is way too big. I carefully unpicked the whole thing - after a few gusty sighs - and cut 3/8" off the neckline, then reattached my binding. It would have been easier if I'd had more fabric to work with but I was on fabric fumes at this point. Happily this is a sturdy cotton and didn't give me too many problems. If you are contemplating making this pattern, I would go down about 2 sizes for the neck binding.

Dressform pictures:

This print is much more vivid and accurate in these inside shots. You'll definitely see me coming from a long way off!

I made french seams at every inside seam except the zipper side and the center front. For the center front I extended the slit facing down to the hemline to give the ribbon a sturdy place to be stitched to. It looks neater as well. The hem I whip-stitched by hand.

The pattern calls for bias tape to finish off the underarm seams. I couldn't find any to match and didn't have enough fabric to make bias facings, so I used some aqua silk crepe de chine left over from a failed project. I also used it to hong-kong finish the edges of the seam where the zipper in inserted, but it's not really visible from this picture.

That's the last of my warm weather sewing! It's still hot as anything here but I am moving on to fall now. I never get to all the cold weather projects I want to make because I get extremely busy with holiday preparation and then get tired of the cold really quickly and can't wait for summer. Every year my sewing mojo disappears around the new year too. This year I am starting early on long sleeves and outer wear and hope to make up some of those long planned winter garments.

My oldest and my youngest