Friday, April 14, 2017

J. Crew Knock Off Easter Dress

Pattern Review has a great contest running right now called Barganista Fashionista.  Its a knock off contest where you are required to make your own bargain based version of a pricier garment.  Now I realize that there are far more expensive dresses I could have attempted to knock off and that you could probably buy something cheaper than my version at a big mall sale but for me, sewing is that opportunity to craft something with your own two hands using higher quality fabric than can be bought at the mall and most importantly it is the embodiment of creative expression that comes as a result of planning, cutting, stitching, imagining.

The inspiration for this dress came when I saw this J. Crew dress in a magazine last summer I loved the design, it had several elements I love in a dress.  The mock wrap front, pleated skirt, pockets, and waist tie.  I have learned that although I could probably have bought this dress at some point online and on sale, I could guarantee that the store bought version would never fit me like my me-made version.  Sooo when Butterick released pattern 6446 I knew it would be a great Easter dress!!  Yippee!

The printed fabric is from Fabric Mart last spring.  It was deeply discounted if I remember correctly.  Its a cotton/linen gauze and is super sheer.  Its also so well behaved, it pressed beautifully and was not slippery or unruly when handling like a silk or chiffon, so it was a pleasure to work with as far as sheer fabrics go. I underlined the entire garment with cotton poplin from Hobby Lobby.  I don't often, if hardly ever, buy apparel fabrics from Hobby Lobby but this poplin worked beautifully.  It gives the skirt an element of fullness that it needs and the structure necessary to support the gauze.

A few notes on the pattern.  I had to fiddle with the armscye a bit and used the tissue fitting method to get a good idea of the changes necessary for a good fit.  Now normally I don't have to fiddle with the armscye drafting in big four patterns but I don't know, this one needed to be lowered a bit and shaved off a bit more than my normal for narrow shoulders.  Looking at the back picture I think that back arm area could use some more shaving off and shaping too, just looks too wide back there for my taste.  

Other minor pattern changes included a small dart at the back neckline, sway back dart, grading that I always have to do for my sizing, 8 shoulders (smaller in this case), 10 bust, 12 waist, 14 hips.   

I am soooo glad I finished this in time to coordinate with the girlies this Easter!  I finished their dresses earlier and was really hoping to finish mine so we can be all matchy matchy :)  Can't wait to take pictures with them in their dresses too especially since the 4 year old LOVES her dress soooo much and asks to wear it every day :) makes my Momma heart smile.

Ok well that sums it all up for me time to go enjoy some sunshine!
Happy sewing!
And thanks for reading!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Flint, Lark and Lisette

For the past couple of years I have tried to sew garments that I can get a lot of versatile wear from.  I love making unique, one of a kind pieces but at the end of the day I must have a basic wardrobe back drop to pair those unique pieces with! 

Here enters patterns like the following three...

I was a pattern tester for Megan this fall and sewed her pants up in a drapey poly/lycra suiting from my stash.  I was unsure about the volume of these pants but after putting them on and taking pictures I loved them.  They are so comfortable and my very favorite feature is the waistband closure.  There's no zipper, the closure in incorporated into the pocket and is so clever.  

I am 5'5" and was a little skeptical about the length of these, they turned out not quite long enough or not quite short enough based on your perspective but in the final draft Megan ended up shortening this length by a couple of inches based on tester feed back.

The pattern includes a shorts version and a version with a cute tie at the waist, I am hopeful that I can complete a pair in rayon for this summer. I think they will be super comfortable and with the high waistband I can wear shorter tops without the dreaded belly flash potential!!

This is a simple tee, and the pictures pretty much do the talking.  Its longer in length, a touch too long for my taste so I will probably shorten in the future but that is such a simple fix it hardly warrants mentioning. 

The fabric is from FabricMart and was one of the wonderful pre-cut rayon/lycra lengths.  If you haven't discovered their pre-cuts, you might want to check them out.  They are so affordable and I am always in need of inexpensive knits for my girls.

Lisette Butterick 6183:

I am a fan of Liesl Gibson's Lisette Butterick patterns and this is another great one.  I made this top up in a left over length of ponte that did not have a lot of stretch.  It is a great fitting top.  I made my usual grading between sizes changes and thats it.  The pieces go together beautifully and the instructions so good.  

Butterick 6260:

One more thing to mention.  I am pretty proud of how my March project for Fabric Mart turned out and wanted to include some of those pictures here.

I did a big write-up over on their blog which included stripe matching tips and you can find that HERE.

This was a project that took a lot of hours but was worth it in the end.  I learned a lot about the guts of a semi tailored jacket in the process and made up some of my own rules as I went.  I highly recommend Palmer Pletsch's "Jackets for Real People" if you are new to tailoring.  They have a super practical, logical approach to the process which I so appreciate.

The pattern is Liesl Gibson's Butterick 6260 and its worth noting that this is a VERY fitted jacket so you may want to muslin it first.  I usually have to do a narrow shoulder adjustment for all major pattern company patterns but for this one it was unnecessary with the very fitted cut.  There are lots of fitting lines in the bodice of the pattern so that helps in fitting your waist.

Well that's a quick round up from me on a few pieces I've made!

Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Clean Slate

I bet I am not the only one who starts a project, is excited about the potential, cuts out the pattern, cuts out the fabric and then for some reason can't find the umph to complete it?  Yeah, you do it too?  Good now I know I'm not the only one! 

The three projects in this post were all UFO's (UnFinished Objects).  They've been lurking in my sewing closet taking up precious space in said closet as well as in the back of my mind.  So it really was time to either part ways with them or complete them!

There is nothing that gives me a good push like a sewing competition.  I guess the thought that there is a deadline and others are also working toward a similar goal inspires me to complete a project- and it can be!  Pattern Review held a UFO contest this past month and that was enough to get my sewjo back.

UFO #1:

This dress is out-of-print Butterick 5947.  I used this pattern last winter to make this dress and then frankenpatterned the bodice from this pattern to the skirt of another resulting in this dress.  Its a solid little pattern for a sheath dress.  The princess seaming is so helpful with fitting.  

Fabric and construction where similar to the dress made last winter.  The black wool is from a FabricMart make and the herringbone tweed was a purchase from Hancock fabrics back when.  The lining is a mixture of bemberg and poly in the sleeves because when you cut something out a year ago and forget about it you also forget that you did not cut out all the lining pieces...argh! 

In the picture below I am showing the hong kong seams used to finish the armscye, this is done because I don't like the feeling of wool against my skin, so itchy.  I used an invisible zipper which I had a devil of a time installing for some reason.  I just couldn't get everything to line up so after three attempts I called it good. 

UFO #2:

My second UFO is a pair of Grainline Maritime shorts.  I made them some time back and you can see them here.  The reason this pair stalled is kind of petty, but it turned out I needed a bigger size this summer than my previous pair and that just deeply annoyed me. 

I can fit into the old pair, but just barely, sigh.  So I cut out the pattern again as well as the fabric (all last summer) and just lost steam, probably because I just went out and bought a few new pairs. 

The Grainline Maritime shorts are really cute and functional.  I love the styling on this pattern, the zip fly, the curved pockets, back pockets, curved waistband.  All great features.  For this pair I believe I lengthened them by an inch.  Its a really short, short otherwise.  

The fabric is from Hancock and the last of this fabric in my stash.  I previously made a Grainline mini skirt with this fabric.  Btw, that was very short too!

UFO #3:

Get ready for the cuteness! This outfit was originally intended for my youngest and is a size two, so I have had it for two years waiting to be made up.  I believe the fact that my children were 5 and 2 when I cut it out is probably why it never was completed.  But it is so.cute.

Its Burda style pattern 9645.  If you are unfamiliar with Burda patterns, they always have such cute designs but the instructions are always sub par.  I don't go to Burda for sewing instructions but for cuteness.  

Since this will no longer fit my daughter I will be sending it on to Hanni for her little bit to wear next fall.  This peasant top, squeeeee- I can't wait to see her in it (btw where is my size in this top)!  And the cargo pants will be fun and functional since they are corduroy.

So now I am free of most of my UFO's, I say most because I know there are two little girl dresses that I haven't finished and may not!  But it feels good to have the slate mostly wiped clean for the new year of sewing.  I am glad I pushed through with these projects since each one turned out so pretty.

How about you?  Any UFO's you'd like to move past or donate?  
Any that you will shove into the far reaches of your sewing space?

Thanks for reading and happy creating!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A New Year Turtle and Back Seam Dream

Happy New Year!!

Have you been perusing all the sewing blog "best of 2016 makes" or "new year sewing plan" posts like I have?  Its been fun scrolling through them and there is just so.much.inspiration to be gleaned from them.  Also there is a "make nine sewing items this year" or something like that on instagram that keeps popping up in my Pinterest board- that's pretty fun too!  All the sewey plans, so exciting!

So raise your glass, here's to a New Year Turtleneck and Knit Dress!  These two projects may not be the most exciting things I make in the new year but they are extremely functional!  And for me lately functional has been a good thing.  

First up, the Turtleneck...

The Pattern:

The turtleneck pattern is McCalls 6796 which is out of print. 

 Last year I made Kwik Sew 4069 and you can see that on this link.  It turned out much looser than I hoped it would (I still wear it all the time) but with the McCalls pattern I came so much closer to what I was hoping for in a turtle neck.  The one thing I will say about McCalls 6796 is that I feel the turtleneck part is a little short or falls somewhere in between where I wish it would.  I actually added about an inch to the neckline above but I can't decide if it was enough.  

The Fabric
This is a very stretchy Rayon Lycra rib knit from Fabric Mart.  Its really, really soft and fluid.  Will go great under sweaters and jackets and dresses etc.  The fabric drapes so well that the turtleneck won't stand up at all, something I didn't consider before making it, anywhoo I will still wear it all the time.    

I think at this point my 8 year old was singing "baby you're a super star!"

A New Year a New Dress!!

The Pattern:
This is McCalls 7122 a pretty popular pattern as evidenced by all the good reviews on Pattern Review.  I have several simple knit dress patterns and its always fun to try out another one with small design differences.  

This pattern has raglan sleeves (which are SO EASY to sew) and my very favorite knit dress feature of all time, a center.back.seam.  

Center back seam, you are a person with a sway back alteration's best friend!  I was able to pinch out some of the excess in that seam for a simple fix but by looking at the back view I can see that a small wedge should be removed horizontally next time.  

I meant to take a picture of the alterations for my sway back but forgot.  But looking at the changes when I transferred them to the pattern I was quite surprised by how pronounced my sway back appeared.  Just an interesting observation!

The Fabric:
This fabric was a Hancock's purchase and I loovvveee this print. 

I have had it in my stash for a while and it started to move into that crazy fabric hoarding category where you pull it out look at it and think "fabric, you are so pretty that I am just too scared to cut you so I will just let you take up precious space in my sewing closet."  

Recently I realized how ridiculous I was being about it and just how much enjoyment I would get out of wearing it so I got to work and of course I do indeed love wearing it. 

I probably should've spent some time pattern matching back there but, meh, I don't look at my back, so there, problem solved!!

This year I am telling myself that I will stop the fabric petting/hoarding of beautiful cuts because "what if I mess it up and hate the result" and just go ahead and make it up into something fun and get it done!

One piece in my fabric stash in particular reminds me the most to carpe diem the fabric.  It is a gorgeous cut of narrow silk charmeuse with a very vintage design.  I thrifted it for a few dollars a few years ago and it is an awesome reminder to me that some lady, somewhere held on to that charmeuse and never made it up and then by some turn of events it ended up in a thrift store.

That lady never made the gorgeous silk blouse she was going to wear to a special anniversary dinner, or she never realized the bias cut dress of her dreams and now it speaks to me telling me in a whispering voice, "CARPEEE..... CARPEEEE DIEEEMMM the fabric Elizabeth, make your outfit extraordinary!!!" The fabric sounds eerily similar to Robin Williams.  

So that's my sewing plan and goal this year- use.the.fabric!!  What about you, have any sewing goals for this next year?

Happy Needles in the New Year!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fall Sewing Continues!

Fall means plaids for me, at least that's one of my very favorite fabrics for fall so it is a must to make at least one plaid item this fall so here it is!  I completed another Deer and Doe Arum dress and I am loving this pattern.  The first one I completed was for my November Fabric Mart make and you can see that post here.  It was made from a rayon/tencel twill suiting and I love it so much, so easy to make, so easy to wear.  

This version is made from a flannel shirting from Joanns bought several years ago on a trip to Kansas City.  Part of the reason I chose this particular fabric was because I'd only bought 3 yards and the fabric was only 40 inches wide!  If you've ever sewn with a crazy plaid like this you know that you need a lot more yardage than that to pattern match.  The great thing about this pattern is that there are so few pieces that pattern matching is very manageable even possible with a small length of plaid! 

I love all things plaid in the fall and I love coral so this fabric and pattern were a match made in heaven.  I might even have to wear this for Thanksgiving as it is sooooo comfy.  

I raved about this pattern over on the FabricMart blog and I will rave again, I made so little adjustments to this pattern, just grading out for sizing and it fits like a glove in the back.  My usual adjustments for patterns include a small sway back adjustment and you can see I didn't need one for this pattern, miraculous! 

As far as construction, I serged all the insides and I topstitched the facings to the dress since I cannot stand facings flipping around.  The other option would've been to finish the neck with bias tape and I wasn't feeling that, so there you go, facings topstitched- I call that a design element. 

I wore this to church and put this cascade cardigan over it but also had to wear another layer since I find our sanctuary very chilly.  I hope to get some thicker tights for this outfit soon, maybe some of those fleece lined tights!

One thing I know for sure, this probably won't be my last Arum dress, its just a completely enjoyable make and so fun to wear.

Now on to the two cuties.  I made McCalls 7273 for the 4 year old out of sweater scraps from my previous projects.  I used size 3 for her since she is slim, and reviews on Pattern review noted that this pattern runs big.  It fits great, I did not hem it and the length is just right, if hemmed it might be a bit on the short side.  This girl is tall and slim.

For my eldest I made McCalls 7425 in size 8 for an 8 year old.  I did alter the back waistband.  The instructions were for a traditional waistband and a zipper on the side and truly, truly, my 8 year old will not be bothered with a zipper and traditional waistband.  So I redrafted that back waistband to accommodate elastic and it worked great.  Redrafting sounds complicate but it wasn't.  I really just retraced the back waistband and sliced it into thirds adding little wedges in three spots, spreading the pattern out like a fan that in the end is regathered by the elastic.  The back waistband is made in a contrasting quilting cotton with polka dots and you can see it in the bottom picture.

The skirt itself is a stretch denim from my stash, I am guessing from Hancocks.  The skirt is so cute and you can't tell from these pictures but I used gold topstiching and used this technique to finish the insides.  

I hope to make her at least one more of these in another "neutral" fabric since they are so great to layer over leggings.  

So there's whats been keeping me busy and happy lately and I hope your fall sewing is doing the same for you!  Until next time, thanks for reading!


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Split Hem Grainline Linden

Winning the Fabricista Challenge last fall was so much fun and so thrilling for me and one of the best things about that win was being able to pick out fabrics with my winning credits that I might not have otherwise chosen due, mostly, to a tight sewing budget.

I don't know how others of you budget for sewing (and I'd be curious to know- do you budget for your sewing?) but I *think* I try to be frugal, which might  or might not work out each month.  Since I was able to use my FabricMart credits through out this past year to off set my fabric budget I found myself splurging a little more on my pattern purchases.  So instead of spending completely out of pocket for fabric like the sweater knit I used here, I was able to use a FabricMart credit.  I can't remember how much this sweater knit was but I know that it is a nicer one, I think the content is rayon/spandex.  It is extremely soft and stretchier than I thought it would be. 

It is so snuggly that my four year old grabbed the remnant and declared it hers.  She has requested a sweater out of that remnant and I think I will have to oblige.  After all its kind of hard to say no to her cuteness and the idea of matching sweaters!

The ribbing for the hem, neckline and cuffs is from Joanns fabrics bought last winter. Its a nice, thick cotton ribbing with spandex.

I've made the Linden before and wanted it to look a little better than just a sweater so I used the split hem tutorial on Grainline's site and I think it upgrades it a bit.      

The pattern comes together very smoothly and I have a few observations about the fit and fabric.  My last Linden was made from a poly sweatshirt fabric that did not have a lot of stretch and I remember the arms were a little long but they weren't nearly as long as this one turned out to be.  So if your fabric is stretchy with not a lot of recovery consider that the arms may be a little long.  

Also I graded this sweater out from a 4 at the shoulders, 6 at the bust and waist and and 8 at the hips.  I think I could've just used a 4 and 6.  Not much more to say about this except it will be fun to layer with button up shirts and I know I will get great use out of it this winter. 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Beach Vacation Basics

We realllllyy needed a beach vacation this year, I mean reaaalllyy.  Being in helping professions (my husband and I both fit that category) is a good thing but they MUST be tempered with retreat to keep them going.  This was the year that we decided to start a beach vacation trip tradition.  We chose our spot, held our breath and booked the house, drove the long drive with kids in tow, arrived, after a day began to breathe easier, let our hair down, put on swim suits and then three days later were told we had to evacuate due to hurricane Matthew.  Vacation cut short, but it will not be our last time to go to this beach, it was a perfect location for us.  Neither of us like a commercialized scene and we like a very slow pace when we vacation, we finally found the place, and we will be back!! 

All that aside, you are here for the sewing part of this story so here you go.  Of course I love a deadline and a beach deadline is even sweeter.  So I got to work creating some basics.  I have had a gap in my wardrobe of simple casual basics since beginning work a year and a half ago.  That was when most of my sewing shifted to creating work-wearable items.  This is a small collection of basics that I could live in while on my trip or off time.  

 Tee Shirts:

 This top is McCalls 7286 which is a raglan tee with a split hem.  I ended up making three versions all in different knit fabrics.  On this version I only hemmed the sleeves.  The white tee is a thick cotton spandex blend from Sew Sassy Fabrics in Huntsville Alabama bought almost two years ago.  If you are ever in Huntsville and can make it to Sew Sassy its a fun sewers wonderland.  They have so much elastic and truly every sewing supply you might need for sewing undies.  They were kind enough to let me wander around their shop even though they are predominately a shipping location.  Its a family business and I love that, I hope I can go back one day!

The shirt above was made using left over yardage from a dress made for Fabric Mart.  Its a cotton lycra blend that is thinner than the white one and it has a bad tendency to curl up at the finished edges.  I did not have this problem with the dress I made of this fabric so I think my hems just weren't deep enough.  Its a really good knit and I am glad I could squeeze one more make out of it.

 This tee was made using leftover yardage from a dress made last fall for the Fabric Mart Fabricista challenge.  It has little to no stretch recovery (no spandex content) so the neckline on this version stands a bit off of my neck but no worse than all of my tee's from Target.  I did not hem the sleeves or the hemline on this version, I just let them curl up.  The fabric was found on the bargain yardage table at Hancocks, again, before they went out of business.   

This is such a simple tee to make, when you don't have to set sleeves, the process is so much quicker.  One note on the split hem.  I serged the aztec print tee together and it changed the nature of finishing the split hem so I actually recommend zig zag stitch for this shirt if you plan on hemming it, the serger cuts off the seam allowance you might need to help everything turn up properly for the split hem. 


This kimono is a great show piece to top off plain tees and shorts.  It is Simplicity 1318 which was a Pattern Review Best Pattern of 2015.  I was unsure about how this might come together, would it look like a bath robe or overwhelm my frame?  I think it turned out perfect and had so much fun wearing it out at the beach.  I used two rayon challis fabrics from JoAnn fabrics.  I love contrasting prints like this. 

The pattern is a good one, my favorite thing about the pattern is the neckline area.  It is constructed in such a way that it sits so nicely up around the neck area and doesn't shift or slide off.  Its really subtly contoured to fit well and I so appreciate that detail.  I used a little extra care in constructing the facings, hand sewing them down for a neat finish instead of my usual stitch in the ditch.  I serged all the inside seams. 

After I made this kimono I was so excited to wear it before the beach trip that I threw it over my black maxi t-shirt dress and wore it to work.  Print mixing this kimono really makes me want to try out my hand at print mixing this one by McCall's designer Melissa Watson.   I would love to see this made up in all those pieces of silk I've salvaged from thrift store garments or other projects...

I also made swimsuits for myself and my girls.  I feel cautious about doing a full post on those here- too many wierdos on the internets these days.  So I posted it on Pattern Review, however I feel ok sharing the rash guard pictures.

My suit and the girl's suits were made using McCalls 7417. 

 A few notes on this pattern:
  • I made my top in a small at the bust grading out to a medium at the waist. I needed a smidge extra room in the bust line so I let that out a little at the princess seams on the suit with the blue inset.
  • I made the bottoms in a medium and let out the back princess seams a bit around the fullest part of my bum. 
  • Fabrics were from Hancocks and were nylon lycra swimwear with the exception of a few panels on the suit with a blue inset.  
  • I fully lined the bottoms and really recommend that you line them.  It adds extra support (tummy control) and feels more substantial. 
  • The top is unlined, I wore a bikini top under mine. 
  • I found the short sleeve more comfortable but the long sleeve definitely gives more protection against sun.
  • I did not hem the sleeves or bottom of the tops, just couldn't be bothered! 
  • The bottoms cover my belly button but don't touch my rib cage, that gives you some idea of how high they are.

I love this suit and had so much fun wearing it.  It stayed put perfectly, the bottoms felt like a huge accomplishment since they fit better than many of my ready to wear suit bottoms.  I was so proud to finally make a suit for myself, I've made them for my girls but this suit gave me a sewing high since fitting myself is a little trickier than fitting them.

That's my beach vacation basics, I was so glad to get so many of them finished for my trip and am especially proud of the swimsuits.  I was pretty scared that the suit would be a fail but gave myself a "have no fear of sewing" talk and it all worked out!  Now I feel like its time to tackle another sewing fear and get on with pant making....shudder.  Or in the near future jean making!!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!