Vogue 8805: Dressing for a feast

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Okay, I admit it. I eat more than my fair share of stuffing and pie on Thanksgiving. For me, dressing for the day is less about fashion than survival. My friends are fabulous cooks you see, so the dinner will be so delicious, I will say ‘no’ to nothing.  I will eat and drink too much. I will be bloated. In other words, I will be the poster child for ‘why you should always wear Spanks’. But I digress.

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Dressing appropriately for this feast-a-thon is critical. The dress can’t be too tight at the waist. It must be stretchy and soft. It can’t be too short, as you don’t want to be over-exposed when you assume the post dinner slouch. And it has to look good when worn with tights (it’s cold outside!). As if that wasn’t challenge enough, I added one other requirement as I perused my pattern stash. It had to have a drop waist, like these Burberry gems.

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Okay, that’s a tall order for a dress pattern, but I found the perfect one, Vogue 8805, a three tiered shift dress. The sleeves and yoke make up one tier, then the middle and bottom of the bodice are the others.

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This is a popular pattern and a quick internet search will show you why. There are so many great ways to combine fabrics and colors using this as your template.The pattern is rated ‘very easy’, since it has a back slit with button closure and the sleeves are part of the bodice (nice!).  I made the construction of my dress a bit more challenging with a few modifications.

  •  I added a zipper to the front  by creating a 5/8′ seam at center front  then inserting a zipper.
  • I cut the bottom tier out of a contrast color, then created the drop waist look by expanding that tier by 8″. Then, with that extra 8″, I created  four 5/8″ pleats with the excess fabric on both the front and back bottom tier.
  • I also added a contrasting fabric band at the cuffs to give the sleeves a finished look.
  • I added long  darts to the bodice to give it a bit more shape at the waist.

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The bottom line? This dress is comfortable, and the flirty pleated tier may (?) inspire me to behave a little less like a post dinner slug in favor of dancing those calories off. Only time will tell. What is your garment of choice for the feast-a-thon?

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! It’s so fun to be part of a conversation with such creative people. I’m so thankful for each of you and for the inspiration you give. Happy Sewing, and thanks for stopping by….

 

Vogue 8831 – A long cowl for layering

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I’ve always loved fall fashion…the chunky coats, the heavy sweaters, all perfect to wear with boots!  But I didn’t know what true love was until I found sweater knits. When it comes to cozying up for winter, they are the real deal.

Fall means layering pieces for me, and when I sew a base layer, I think monochromatic. That way, I can go crazy with additional layers, adding color and texture over that simple base piece.  The trickiest part with that base layer for me though, is making sure it’s not too bulky. I try to stay away from the chunkiest sweater knits. I don’t want to look like the Michelin Man (although, I’ll bet that guy is warm!!)

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This ‘fifty shades of gray’ sweater is a base layering piece for me, cut from a cozy sweater knit that’s a bit of a mystery fabric. I found it languishing in my stash, hidden under a heavy piece of boiled wool that I’ve had for several years. What a great surprise! Since I’d all but forgotten about it, its appearance seemed magical, so I had to use it right away.

The pattern is Vogue  8831 (OOP but still available on-line. Vogue 9055 is similar), a close-fitting, pullover top and tunic with a draped collar, side front/side back seams and stitched hems. What’s great about this pattern is that it includes several cup sizes which means you can get the fit just right.

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I varied the pattern as follows:

I cut the short sleeves from the same fabric as the bodice then added a lower sleeve in a solid fabric, basically making two piece long sleeves.

I added cuffs of contrasting ribbed knit.

I added a band of ribbed knit to the bottom.

I cut the collar from a solid knit.

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Challenges? There were a few.  Matching stripes on princess seams is no picnic, especially when you’re working with a knit that wants to stretch when you touch it. I pinned and pinned and pinned, trying to make sure that stretchy knit didn’t shift. It turned out okay – – not perfect, but ripping seams out in a sweater knit is not easy.

In fact, this might be the biggest downside of sewing with sweater knit. Stitches get lost in the weave and you can’t ever find them again. And if you do find those stitches and try to take them out, you can easily rip up that fabric.  So….it’s best if you don’t make any mistakes (Ha, not happening in my world)!!!

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After getting a bit angsty over the whole thing,  I finally decided to give up on perfectly matched stripes in order to keep that sweater knit intact.

I love my cozy sweater! Because it’s long, I’ll wear snug fitting pants and skirts with it to balance out the oversized look of the top.  And, I can easily layer this up a bit with a long vest, even a coat over that.

Have you sewn any cozy layers lately? If so, I’d love to check out your makes! Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by….

Vogue 9026 – – Bring on the sweater knits!

IMG_6016Brrr! It’s cold out there! We’ve had our fair share of stormy days over the past few weeks and I’ve taken to wearing layers. There are still a few leaves left on the trees (as you will see from today’s photos) but not many, a signal that bleak days are ahead. I’d resent the arrival of those cold days, if it wasn’t for one thing – – they’re the perfect excuse to add cozy fabrics to my stash.

On one of our first cold days this month, I happened into a fabric store (Fabric Depot) where I found the yummiest sweater knit ever. Not only was it soft, but it had a nice weight too, and it came in so many colors, I could hardly believe my good fortune. I dithered for a long while, trying to decide which color to buy, before arriving at the perfect solution…. I bought three, one yard of each; turquoise, blue, and a deep dark purple.

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Of course, I had no choice but to use them to color block. The only challenge was figuring out which of my lovely colors would go where. After draping my dress form a million different ways, I decided that the front panel would be the blue, the sides, the back and the sleeve bands would be the darkest color (the purple), while the bright turquoise would be used as an accent on the neck band, the pockets, and the sleeves.

The pattern I used is Vogue 9026, a long sleeved top with a front panel and a side and back panel, perfect for color blocking. I made the crew neck option of view B, eliminating the bottom band as I wanted the top to be comfy and loose.

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This top went together quickly because it’s designed so that the back and side panels are one piece that wraps to the front, creating the illusion of side panels. Cutting it out is a breeze, as is construction of the top.

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I cut a size small, making my usual adjustment for my narrow back.  The pattern doesn’t call for pockets but I decided the top needed more of the contrast color, so I drafted a couple of small, five inch pockets and positioned them on the front. I used that same color for the sleeves and neck band. Sometimes, neck bands can be a bit challenging for me as I struggle to get them to lay perfectly flat. But this one went on easily, probably because the fabric was so perfect in stretch and weight.

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This top is so cozy to wear! If you’ve been eyeing a sweater knit at your favorite fabric haunt, I would encourage you to take the plunge. I found the fabric easy to work with, forgiving, and without a lot of fuss. I used the overlock stitch on my machine, but I’m guessing a zig zag would work too? This knit is as soft and as warm as cashmere. All in all, I’m pleased with this top. Sometimes a fast project can be a bit unsatisfying, but because of the color block process, I really enjoyed this, and it was such a fun change from my last project (matching plaids…argh).

What projects have you tried with sweater knit? Did you find it as forgiving as I did? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

I’m falling for plaid…

IMG_6058Name Name five things that are cozier than flannel….. Can’t do it? Me neither. That’s why I’m glad this blue and green cotton flannel found its way into my shopping cart.

‘Cozy’ is the theme of my fall sewing efforts, and this shirt definitely delivers. Cotton flannel is such a dream to wear! My shirt’s first outing was a hilly walk this afternoon. Not only did the fabric score a big ten in the ‘cozy’ department, it breathes too!  So, if like me, you’ve never owned a flannel shirt, let me tell you. It’s high time you did.

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I loved this plaid on sight. For one thing, it’s such a great basic that just screams ‘fall’. It reminds me of everything good that these crisp cold days offer: leaf stalking (you’ll notice I didn’t say leaf raking), wine tasting, and using the fireplace for the first time. The added bonus? Plaid is a big fashion ‘yes’ this fall, so it’s available in every color combination imaginable. If you look great in chartreuse, there’s a plaid out there just for you.

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For my shirt, I used Simplicity 2447, a button-down with princess seams, a front band, a back yoke and various front detail combinations.

I chose this pattern because it had so many variations and opportunities for contrast. I knew I wanted to cut a few pieces on the bias to make the structure of the shirt more obvious and, with this pattern, the options were endless.

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The hardest part of this project, (yes, you guessed it) was matching the plaid. I bought LOTS of extra fabric (on sale at Fabric Depot, so nice!) so that my match-ups could be strategic, without worrying if I’d have enough fabric. Cotton flannel is not a slippery fabric, so it was difficult to get the double layer of fabric perfectly smooth AND have the plaids on both sides match as well. I pinned the selvedges together, which helped a bit. But finally, instead of cutting out all the pattern pieces on the double layers of fabric, I opted to cut a few pieces twice on single layers. That way, I could position the collar, pockets, cuffs etc. without worrying. I just didn’t trust the wonky way the fabric seemed to move and stretch even though I could swear, I wasn’t touching it (Haunted!).   Cutting out a pattern is usual a brainless activity that I can do while watching ‘Project Runway’, yet never missing a beat. Let me tell you…not this time! TV OFF!

It was fun to figure out how to cut out the pockets.

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I finally decided to cut them on the diagonal for contrast and the plaid is centered on the princess seams.  I put a button on the pocket to draw your eye there. The back yolk is cut on the diagonal as well for contrast with the plaid pattern centered over the back pleat.

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This is my first version of Simplicity 2447 and I think I’ll make this pattern again. It fit my shape without modifications (princess seams shape the bodice), which is a rarity for me. The instructions were easy to follow.  The pattern includes lots of options (including three (3!!) sleeve options), so it’s easy to make the style your own.. This time, I tried the rolled up sleeves with the button tabs but I’ll try the long-sleeved version with cuffs soon. The hem has a nice curve, which I left long to make the shirt even cozier.

I love sewing with cotton flannel and it’s so great to wear – – I can’t figure out why I’m not living in flannel. Hmmm, is this the beginning of a new fabric obsession? I would love to hear about your adventures with my new favorite fabric!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by…May your week be colorful and cozy!