Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Perfect Sheath Dress

I finally found my perfect sheath pattern!  Butterick 5947 has princess seams on the front and back of the bodice that make the fitting process much easier for this area.  I made a few small changes to get the exact fit I wanted and I've listed them below:

1.  After reading a couple of reviews of this pattern on Pattern Review and trying on the muslin, I decided to lower the center front neckline by 5/8 inch at the center front narrowing out to nothing before the shoulder.
2.  I also made a small narrow shoulder adjustment shaving 1/4 inch from each shoulder, I think next time I will shave off 3/8 inch.
3.  I took up about an extra 1/4 inch under the bust point for a little more definition there.
4.  I made my usual size 10 at the bust, 12 at the waist and 14 for the roundest part of my hips. I ended up pinching more out around the waistline and eliminating the front skirt darts. I eased in the fullness of the darts and it worked beautifully with this fabric- it was a very well behaved fabric!
5.  And finally I raised the waistline on the bodice only by an extra 1/4 inch so stitching line on the bodice was at 7/8 in. 


 I decided to fully line this dress since, well wool, and I love the feel of bemberg rayon.  I used an invisible zipper and hand stitched the lining to the zipper.  

In making this dress I used two "new to me" sewing techniques, tailor's tacks and hong kong seams.  Tailor's tacks are used when you can't make markings on your fabric or you don't want to risk marking up your fabric.  For a good tutorial on tailor's tacks check here.

For Hong Kong seams I searched the forums on the Pattern Review site and found a helpful tip about how to apply them to armscye.  I used that to guide my process but another helpful article on this technique can be found here. 

My full post on this dress is over at the Fabric Mart Blog if you are interested in reading more.

One more thing to note, I recently bought two ten yard fabric bundles from Fabric Mart for the first time and thought I would share what I received.  Below is a picture of what was sent to me.  The bundles are deeply discounted and often go on a half price sale.  Admittedly some of the pieces are nicer than others but I think I can find a use for each of them.  Its a fun purchase and my girls immediately claimed the green sparkle knit for mermaid tails!  

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Christmas/New Year's dress number two!

 The is the second of the two Christmas/New Year's dresses I made this year.  I did a little ranting about sewing with velveteen in the last post and I won't do that again in this one!  I think I've forgiven the fabric a little! This dress was made for my three year old from Vogue 9042.  The pattern came together pretty smoothly save for the zipper insertion at the bottom and the pleat included there.  I had some trouble understanding exactly how they wanted the zipper included in that pleat so I went my own way.  Also I used an invisible zipper and the pattern did not call for one- why I can't imagine. 

 As far as sizing goes, I made a size 3 with a size 4 length.  My daughters are a little tall, I am so glad for them!  The size feels just right, its not too roomy and the size 4 length worked perfectly for my three year old.

 Both the satin and the velveteen are from Hancock fabrics.  They are beautiful, I would say that this was the better behaved of the two velveteens I worked with but the sleeves undoubtedly gave me the hardest time with both dresses.  If you are looking for nice velveteen I can recommend Hancock's.  I completely lined the inside of the dress and the pattern included lining pieces- oh thank you, thank you, thank you Vogue for including those lining pieces so that I did not have to jimmy one myself. 

This dress is really darling and in a cotton would be easy to whip up.  I love sweet little dresses like this with yokes, peter pan collars, pleats and gathered sleeve heads.  By the way she loves the dress too.  At first she declared it "not pretty" when I was making it but when she put it on she loved it!  My oldest liked her dress too, she was a little challenging to photograph.  My three year old was very cooperative about these pictures (surprise!) and she really wanted to show off her new tricycle- doesn't everyone ride tricycles while wearing velveteen dresses! 

Ok well there you have it, its a sweet little dress if you are in the market for a pattern like this one and it sews up fine apart from the confusing bit at the bottom of the zipper!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sewing Velveteen (aka Belated Christmas/New Year's Dress)!

 Last year I took it upon myself to make two Christmas dresses for my girls that were a little outside of my sewing comfort zone.  I used taffeta last year to push past my sewing comfort zone and this year I used velveteen.  After all velveteen is lush, it is soft, it is classic, it sings sweetly of wassail and beautifully wrapped packages tied with satin ribbons and it also happens to be a real pill to sew.  If you've ever sewn with velveteen you know that it is a fabric that likes to shift ALL OVER THE PLACE.  For someone who likes accuracy in sewing it can test your patience!  I ended up using three tricks to get my velveteen to behave (at least as much as you can manage to make velveteen behave).

 Tip One: Use a walking foot, if you don't have a walking foot, in my opinion, don't bother.  The pile or nap on velveteen when you try to sew it to another fabric makes it shift like crazy, things won't line up properly if you don't have a walking foot to help the top layer of fabric walk through the sewing process at the same rate as the bottom layer of fabric.  Now there is probably some other way to manage velveteen without I walking foot but I wouldn't want to be caught in that torturous place.  Even with the walking foot, setting the sleeves in was a real challenge as well as lining the sleeves.  I must have pinned and ripped it all out three times before I gave in to the process of the sleeves not being perfect. 
Tip Two:  Hand baste your seams together, especially if you are easing fabrics together or have multiple layers like gathers and pleats.  For this dress I only had to hand baste the sleeves into the bodice but for my 3 year old's dress I had to also hand baste the pleats.  I have yet to take pictures of her dress on her but will probably tomorrow.  The hand basting kept everything together in addition to pins and the walking foot.  Like I said this fabric shifts and you want to minimize the shifting as much as possible.  Hand basting is a pain but it beats sewing and ripping out stitches multiple times.
 Tip Three:   Lower the pressure on your presser foot.  My machine has a dial that lessens the pressure of the presser foot and this can be helpful in managing the fabric, you might have to play with that a little because on some seams it seemed to help and on others it didn't.  But its worth a try.

Final Tips:
Insert an invisible zipper when using velveteen, I used a regular zipper at first and it looked terrible so that was ripped out and replaced.  Funny enough the Vogue pattern I used to sew my 3 year old's velveteen dress didn't call for an invisible zipper either and it was drafted with velvet in mind- go figure.  But believe me when I say a normal zipper will not look good.

Accept that it will not be perfect, I can get a little crazy about wanting accurate, even seam allowances and absolutely no puckers anywhere but I found it ok to have some spots that were less than perfect by meditating on something a seamstress once told me.  As I was contemplating fabric choices and the various as-sundry little details of a project for one of my daughters, in talking it over with a sewist at the fabric store she said to me "well I always gave people this advice when I worked at a sewing store that taught classes on smocking children's dresses- can you tell the difference on a galloping horse?"  She went on to explain that putting a garment on a child is like putting something on a galloping horse and you probably aren't going to be able to tell the difference in whatever discrepancy your worrying about when its riding past you on a galloping horse.  That piece of advice helped me just move on when a seam puckered a bit or a seam allowance didn't look perfectly even.  Good advice.  Sage sewing advice.  Advice for a Momma to live by!

A few parting details about this dress, my daughter is 7 years old and tall, so I sewed a size 7 dress with size 8 length added.  Its Simplicity 1174.  The pattern is great and I highly recommend it.  I fully lined the dress but lining pieces aren't included in the pattern.  The bottom portion of the dress is satin from Hancocks fabrics.  The velveteen was from a local quilt shop.  This dress would be a breeze to sew in a nice well behaved cotton.  If you've read this far, thank you for indulging me in my velveteen rant!  Its a beautiful fabric, no doubt, and it will definitely push you out of your sewing comfort zone!

My January Fabric Mart Make

 This is my January project for Fabric Mart fabrics.  I am loving these two pieces as wardrobe staples.  The turtleneck has been great to wear with jeans so, you know, easy to dress up or down! 
The skirt is a New Look pattern with interesting style lines.  Its a basic A-line skirt made with beautiful 100% wool flannel suiting, which I will get a ton of use out of!

I hope to post my two very late Christmas dresses made for my daughters soon!  I am finishing up the second dress now, they both include velveteen and I believe I have reached velveteen saturation and never want to see velveteen again for at least a year! Ha ha!  Now to see what I can bribe my girls with to get them to pose for pictures!!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Cool Weather Ensemble

The holidays are in full swing and for all my running to and fro, I created a three piece outfit from beautiful FabricMart fabrics.  If you'd like to see the details of my three pieces please hop on over to the FabricMart blog!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I'm a Fabricista!

This top was my first entry in the Fabricista Sewing Challenge and the adorable, camera-shy dog is Buster.

I wrote my first post for Fabric Mart's blog as a Fabricista this past week.  If you would like to check it out you can follow this link.  

I share a bit about how I got into sewing and what I love about sewing.  I hope you will go over there and take a look!  Have a great week!

My 12th Anniversary Dress!  Vogue 9109

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Final Fabricista Challenge Results- Thank you!

I am so very flattered and excited (I had some really stiff competition) to have been chosen as the winner of this competition and a huge THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to vote for me.  It was an intense 5 weeks (ok family we can take a break from those rotisserie chickens) but totally worth it and all the garments I made are already in heavy rotation in my wardrobe!  I hope you will pop in from time to time since I will be sewing with some beautiful fabrics from Fabric Mart and guest blogging for them as well! Yippee!  Its gonna be fun!  

Below is only a portion of the full blog post on the final results, if you would like to see the full post follow this link to the Fabric Mart Blog.   

And the winner of the Fabricista Fashion Challenge is...

The votes are in and we have a winner in the Fabricista Fashion Challenge! This was SOOOOOO hard. I wish I could have all of them! Congratulations to....Elizabeth from I Sew, You Sew!

Elizabeth is the winner of $25 a month for one year to spend on fabric, plus be a Fabric Mart Fabricista for 6 months writing guest posts for the blog. (A $300 value with media exposure.) She will also receive a Julie's Picks Membership.

Tiffany is second place and wins a $100 gift certificate and a Julie's Picks membership. Kristen is third place and wins a $50 gift certificate and a Julie's Picks membership. Tiffany and Kristen did an amazing job as well and it was so hard to make final decisions! Don't worry, I don't think this will be the last you see of these ladies. I'm working on the blog schedule and hope to have some newcomers lined up for the new year. If you would like to consider blogging with us occasionally, please email me at for more information. We'd love to have you! 

Thanks goes out to all the contestants that participated in the third year of the Fashion Challenge. I always look forward to doing this and being inspired by everyone. 

Thanks to all the "celebrity judges" for helping to judge all of these talented ladies projects. It is a TOUGH job!

Thanks to all the readers for participating at home and for all that watched from the sidelines. We do this for you and we're so glad you enjoy it.