Copycat Dress in Rayon Challis

This dress was made from a "rub-off" of an Old Navy dress. The dress I used for the pattern has grown-on sleeves, a high neckline, a keyhole back and a cocoon shape. The fabric is a rayon challis from LA Finch Fabrics. It has a gorgeous drape and hand, but unfortunately it snags and runs very easily.To make the pattern I traced around the seams with the dress folded in half lengthwise using translucent paper and a sharp tracing wheel. I then added a seam allowance as needed and made measurements to cut out a faux cuff piece.The construction was quite simple and I serged all the inside seams. Just sewed the shoulder seams, the side seams, the CB seam (until I wanted to stop for the keyhole), top-stitched the keyhole, made the cuffs and hemmed it. I used single-fold bias binding to finish the neckline.IMG_6132As you can see, I applied elastic to keep the dress fitted around the waist. I generally don't find cocoon shaped dresses too flattering, so this keeps the dress comfortable but still shapely. I also made a tie belt since I don't like the look of an elasticated waist by itself. The elastic seemed too high once I started wearing the dress, so I ended up unpicking it at the front and restitching it lower by about 2 inches in the center front.IMG_6131While grown-on sleeves can be awkward and sort of wing-like on me, these actually fit pretty well. I also like the faux cuff but it did take some coaxing with the iron to get them to lay flat. There's a tiny little rouleau loop to hold the gold button I used on the top of the keyhole. There are two matching gold buttons at the top of each cuff on the shoulder seam.IMG_6130 IMG_6128 IMG_6127After wearing this dress for a little bit I have a few adjustments to make to the next one:

  • Make the neckline more of a scoop. The high neck is a bit restrictive.
  • Add a little more ease to the hip and thigh areas. In a stiffer fabric it would definitely be too tight.
  • Add pockets next time! Duh, why didn't I think to add them to this dress?
  • Make a forward shoulder adjustment. The neckline in the front keeps choking me and the back is pulling down, so I think the forward shoulder adjustment should help that. Or maybe I have -- say it ain't so! -- a dowager's hump and need to add fabric to the upper back at the center seam.
IMG_6126Overall, I'd say this is a pretty successful copy of a RTW garment and it's a totally wearable muslin. Oh -- and I totally tried to pattern match but it was a bust. Next time it'll be perfect! ...Probably not, but who's really looking for that anyway?

A Muslin Turned Never-Ending Project

In my rather large pile of UFOs (unfinished objects) I found this rather Amish-looking linen dress that was in desperate need of a face-lift.IMG_5840It was intended to be practice for a loose shift dress (using Simplicity 1280) with long bell sleeves and a fabric belt, similar to this one. Of course, the slubby linen I chose to work with was completely wrong for that silhouette, but rather than abandoning the burlap sack I had made, I attempted to give it more structure. I added open darts to the front and back, slimmed down the sleeves and it still looked horrible.Flash forward about six months and I was ready to look at the sad, sad dress again. Figuring I had nothing left to lose on this one, I went ahead and chopped off one sleeve past the shoulder seam. It looked good! I chopped off the other sleeve and the dress already looked 10 times better. Other changes I made were to take out several of the darts I put in, add an armscye dart to take in excess fabric in the arm hole and shorten the hem by about 3 inches, curving it up toward the side seams and letting the back dip a little lower than the front. What a difference!IMG_6041I think it looks much more updated and wearable. In fact, I wore it today![surow][sucolumn size="1/2"]IMG_6047[/sucolumn][sucolumn size="1/2"]IMG_6048[/sucolumn][/surow]Although I really want to be done with this project, I'm sort of thinking it could benefit from some patch pockets and two darts in the back to take in some of the excess fabric there. I also don't love the neckline...it seems way too big, so that the bias binding on the little cutout juts forward.IMG_6049Or maybe I'll just call it done and move on! What do you think?

Me-Made May 2016 - Week 3

Week 3 of Me-Made May had me looking quite blue! I know there's a lot of blue, white and gray in my closet, but this week really showed me how much I reach for those colors. I'll blame it on the rainy May we've had so far, although it looks like the weather may be finally turning around!And I have a ton of blue-hued fabrics in the stash...oh well, I guess I should stick with what works! At least I know I'll wear it.Here's the past week's MMMay recap:[BestWordpressGallery id="1" gal_title="MMMay Week 3"] This past weekend I unearthed a box of UFOs...unfinished objects. An ominous phrase in sewing. I have several piece that need just a few touches before they're wearable again. Hopefully this week I can find some time to dedicate to these unloved pieces.A lovely package (the details of which will be shared later) came from L.A. Finch Fabrics. Their selection is so lovely, and from what I can tell, their fabrics are very high-quality. Can't wait to dig into my new fabrics!Unfortunately, I had to do some practical sewing this past weekend...new cushions for a super cool mid-century modern chair frame. It still had the original cushions on it and I've been saying for literally two years that I'm going to redo the cushions. Brad, in typical Brad fashion, found some foam (he still won't tell me where) and batting, so this weekend's project was to finally make new cushions. It took several hours of intense sewing (and a few choice words if I'm being honest) but we got it done! Now I can do some fun stuff. I'll share before and after photos later this week, as well as our process. 

Nettie Summer Dress

Buying fabric online is always a bit of a challenge...There's just no good way to tell how heavy or light a fabric will be without ordering a swatch (and who has time for that?). So when I ordered a floral knit from fabric.com I wasn't sure what to expect. I was hoping for something thicker to make a nice circle skirt out of but I ended up with a lightweight jersey that would be great for a t-shirt. Except I had 2 yards and no need for a floral tee.It sat in my stash for a few months until I finally found the perfect pattern to suit its lightweight, stretchy nature. Enter the Nettie Bodysuit pattern from Closet Case Files. This pattern was made for 4-way stretch fabrics and has a body-hugging fit with negative ease. In order to make it a dress I just cut my bodice pattern pieces to end around my waistline and used a previously drafted 1/2 circle skirt pattern. Even though the two pieces weren't exactly the same size at the bottom I just pinned them together in few places and held the tension evenly, which worked out just fine.responsive]IMG_4348[/responsiveHere is the step-by-step process:1. Iron fabric and cut out pieces. I ended up folding the selvedge edges to the center of my fabric so I could use the fabric economically and cut the bodice pieces on the folds.2. RST, serge shoulders, stabilizing with clear swimsuit elastic.3. Fold binding in half lengthwise (WST), press, then sew up short edge of neck binding (RST). Attach it to the neckline using pins spaced out evenly. Raw edges should be together and the binding should be touching the right side of the bodice fabric.4. Serge binding to neckline, flip, press and top stitch about 1/8" from the seam over your serged edges.5. Attach sleeves to the bodice flat. Just try not to stretch them too much and pin evenly.6. Attach skirt front and skirt back to bodice bottom. Pin evenly, and as you're serging, use clear swim elastic to stabilize the seam and keep it from sagging.7. Hem sleeves and skirt (I folded up the fabric once and topstitched using a double needle.) I discovered at this point that hemming a circular skirt is way easier with knit fabrics than wovens.8. Serge the side seams from the sleeve hems to the skirt hems.9. Try on and adjust side seams as necessary. I had to take it in at the waist a little bit, but this might not have been needed if the fabric was heavier.[responsive]IMG_4347[/responsive]That's it! It sewed up in about 3 hours and may be one of the most comfortable dresses I've ever made. I chose to do the medium back, scoop front and 3/4 sleeves with a 20" long skirt. Next time I may choose to do a higher neckline in the front or back because the sleeves do tend to slip off my shoulders. Another way I could work on that problem would be to extend the shoulders a little bit toward my neck. One other tiny thing: I think the weight of the skirt is pulling down the waistline a little bit so I would shorten the waist by 1/2" to 1". Technically you should also let the skirt pieces hang on a mannequin to let the bias stretch before trimming the hem to an even length again buuuut we already discussed how I'm impatient and don't have time for that. I'd rather have a slightly uneven hem and be able to wear the garment asap.All in all I'm super satisfied with my new floral summer dress!

Review of Simplicity Sewing Pattern 1801 Misses' Dresses Cynthia Rowley Collection

It's been a while since I've posted about a sewing project. Partly due to the fact that I haven't been sewing much and partly due to my newest side project...Parker Natural Care! After about 6 months of making my own products (everything from lip balm to deodorant) I decided to start a natural skin care company to share my products with the world. So far 'the world' is just friends and family, but it's growing!Anyway, my latest venture in sewing was spurred by a fabric. A beautiful, lightweight rayon challis from fabric.com. Honestly, the fabric probably wasn't the best for this project, but it still worked out. I ended up having to fully line the dress in order to make it somewhat opaque and I had to be really careful when ripping out gathering stitches because the challis is pretty delicate and shows snags easily. Also the wrong side and right side are virtually indistinguishable except in certain light.I cut a straight size 14 of this pattern after checking the actual waist measurement and making sure there wouldn't be too much ease. I figured with the way the top and skirt is gathered the fit should be pretty forgiving. That was pretty much right on, although if I make this pattern again I will probably adjust the neckline to make it higher and take a little out of the shoulder seam and a little out of each waist seam.[responsive]IMG_3540-edited[/responsive]That said, this dress is very wearable and it's super light and flowy. Perfect for summer! Actually, the looser waist is kind of nice, too, so I don't feel like I have to suck it in all the time :)[responsive]IMG_3483-edited[/responsive]There was nothing too crazy about this pattern except for the side zipper and in-seam pockets. I've done in-seam pockets before but it was a little different when I had to sew a zipper into the side of the pocket. The instructions were clear, though and I didn't have an issue with the pockets. Of course, I put the zipper in on the right side instead of the left. Oops. Just a learning experience for the next time, I guess![responsive]IMG_3551[/responsive] Bonus:I had my phone set up to take a few quick pictures and set the 10 second timer. Didn't realize that it also took 10 photos in a burst, but I thought they look pretty cool as gifs.[responsive]dress_gif_2[/responsive][responsive]dress_gif[/responsive]

New Years Eve Dress - Cynthia Rowley Pattern #1873

Of course, in a mad dash to make a dress for New Years Eve in 2 days, I decided to pick a nice, complicated pattern. Ok, so the pattern really wasn't that complicated, but the pleats were a pain. I cut out the pattern on Sunday, cut the pieces and put together the bodice on Monday, pleated the skirt, attached it and put in the zipper on Tuesday, then finished by hand-stitching the lining, buttons and hook and eye. Lastly, I hemmed it with hem tape and a 2.5" hem. The fabric I used is a sort of poly/nylon blend with the loose weave of linen. It drapes really well and has a nice sheen to it. Perfect for a party.[responsive]1873_1[/responsive]This pattern definitely has a sort of 60s retro look to it with the scoop neckline and tab details. I used two mother of pearl buttons to add some more metallic elements. Pretty pleased with the way it turned out![responsive]img_2906[/responsive][responsive]img_2903[/responsive][responsive]img_2901[/responsive]

DIY Summer Dress - With Tutorial!

Hi! After a long hiatus I have decided to revamp the blog and start posting again. So...enjoy!I present to you a super comfortable and simple diy summer dress. And it only takes two yards of fabric! This dress was made with a polyester print fabric (which was so not fun to work with, but it's pretty, so I'm good with that) and one invisible zipper inserted in the side of the garment. I used a 22" one, but ended up trimming quite a bit off of it. I finished the hem with lace hem tape which makes the boring task of hemming kind of fun and gives it a bit more weight, important for such a lightweight fabric. Also, I used a 1/2" seam allowance.B+W_Dress_3The dress consists of 4 pattern pieces: the bodice (with two neckline variations), the skirt panel, the waistband and the straps.B+W_Dress_Tutorial1The bodice pattern piece looks more confusing than it really is. Just use common sense. Cut a bodice piece of each neckline (on the fold) out of your outer and lining fabrics. You should have four bodice pieces. Then cut a long skinny piece for the straps. I made mine about 2" wide x 30" long.B+W_Dress_Tutorial2Then cut your two skirt panels and 2 waistband pieces.

The Bodice:
To start, sew together the outer bodice pieces on the right side. Sew the lining pieces together on the left side. Do the same on the opposite side, only stitch about 3" down (to leave room for the zipper). Then, with right sides together, sew down the long side of the strap piece. Pull the end through to turn the strap right-side-out. I use one of these.With outer and lining fabric right sides together, sew the arm holes and neckline, leaving the strap section open. Try on the bodice and figure out how long you want your straps to be (+1" for seam allowance). Cut two straps out of the long tube you made. Iron them flat. With bodice pieces still right sides together, thread the straps through the strap openings, being careful not the twist them. Pin and stitch in place, meeting the seams you made on either side for the arm hole and neckline. Turn bodice right side out.B+W_Dress_2Stitch two lines of gathering stitches around the bottom of the bodice, keeping the edges even. Gather the bottom so that it matches your waistband length.
The Skirt:
With right sides together, sew one side of the skirt panels. Do the same for the opposite side, leaving about 6 inches open at the top (for the zipper). I used