A Dress with a Few of my Favorite Things

 

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I’m smiling because this dress has three of my favorite things: linen, lace and silk. Yes, linen wrinkles, but I’m prepared to overlook that fact because it breathes like nothing else. If the weather is muggy, no worries!  When it comes to heat, this fabric is invincible.

IMG_3568To make this dress even more humidity resistant, it’s lined in silk, a splurge I never will regret. The textured linen is so special, it deserves a great lining. Not only that, but it was such a bargain! I found two yards on the remant/sample shelves at Mill End Store last summer. I bought it immediately, of course, but then I stalled. The fabric was so wonderful, I dithered about what to do with it. A dress? A top? Or, maybe a skirt? I perused pattern books, websites, flitting from one idea to another. How typical. If I love a fabric, I become paralyzed by its perfection! No idea or pattern is good enough for it. Finally, though, I settled on this idea. It’s a good thing because this linen dress is a dream to wear. The linen hangs perfectly, but feels like nothing.

IMG_3504 My dress was inspired by several RTW versions. Here are two fabulous dresses by Derek Lam and Caroline Herrara.

The pattern I used for my dress is McCalls’ 7285. I’ve made it before as a top, but decided I wanted to convert it to a dress.

To do so, I had to modify. The top pattern as drafted is a cropped style so if I extended it to dress length’as is’, it would be too tight in the hips. So, I took my hip measurement, and, as I extended the front and back bodice, I made the shape A-line, making sure the bodice was wide enough to accommodate my own width.

To add the lace embellishment on the bodice, I cut a length of lace the width of the front and back bodices just above the bust line. I stitched the lace in place on both the front and back bodice before setting the sleeves in. That way, when I did finally sew them in, the end of the lace was hidden in the sleeve seam. To add the lace to the bell of the sleeve, I sewed the lace on the bell before sewing the bell’s center back seam so that the end of the lace would be hidden in that seam as well. Also, textured linen has a tendency to fray (this is an understatement!). So, to keep my dress from unraveling into a pile of thread, I overlocked all the seams on the dress, and the silk lining as well.

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I love my summery dress, and I think the top pattern transitioned without too much of a struggle. However, I’m certain my method could be improved upon. I feel like I should have taken fabric drape into account as I extended the top to dress length, and that I’m lucky that it turned it as well as it did!  There must be more to it than just adding a few inches, a ‘method’ with a bit more of a rationale? Have you extended a top to a dress?  Did you just add a few inches, or did you ‘draft’ an extension?

I took my dress for a test drive today, and it was so comfortable. I’m glad I splurged on silk for the lining, because it makes it extra yummy to wear. So, if you wonder if silk is worth, my answer is ‘YES’! Go for it! You deserve it.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

 

Simplicity 1160-A Cut-Out Tee

Hi all! After completing my denim skirt last week, I needed to find an easy, fun, ‘instant gratification’ project to cleanse my sewing palate.  This little tee was the answer, inspired by a recent visit to Anthropologie. I found so many wonderful tees to admire there. I’m always amazed at how they can take a simple, every day top and with a single detail, turn it into something special.  Here’s the Anthro tee:

Many of the tops I saw in RTW were ‘swing’ tees. It’s a great shape to wear for comfort and ease. I loved the back detail on this one (hated the color on me), although I thought the ties would drive me crazy.  Still, it started a bit of an obsession. I had to sew a tee with a back cut out!! After reviewing a zillion tee shirt patterns, I finally found one that was a decent match. Enter Simplicity 1160, a tee with a scoop neck, a swing shape and a cut-out back.

When I saw the line drawings, I expected that the cut-out would be tricky to sew. Here’s the good news. It’s really not.IMG_3480

The cut out detailing is faced with bias tape, the way you would finish a tee shirt neckline. It isn’t hard to do and the pattern instructions are pretty easy to follow.

The fabric I chose is a cotton jersey with moderate stretch and a soft drape. I think a ponte knit would be too stiff for this, but would love to try a flowy rayon knit next time.

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This pattern seemed risky for me because I have a narrow-back.  I’m happy to report, fit wasn’t an issue at all. The only change I would probably make next time around is to raise the front neckline. It’s a bit low for me, although in the peak of summer, I may love it. Otherwise, this pattern is a winner and I will make it again. After all, I’m ‘all in’ when I find a fun project you can finish in an afternoon.

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Hey look! It goes with my new denim skirt, although it looks a bit wrinkled here…Hmmm, too many wardrobe changes in this photo shoot, I guess! Let’s see. I’ve made a top that goes with my skirt….Does this mean I can say I have a capsule wardrobe?? One thing is clear. If I keep buying blue fabric at my current rate, eventually, everything in my wardrobe will go together.

This tee was so fun to sew, I’m on the search for others with interesting shapes. Style Arc has quite a few; the Tamara, the Kylie and the Maris, but I’ve never sewn a Style Arc pattern before and have heard they’re a bit daunting as the instructions aren’t that great. Any experience to share with Style Arc?

Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

 

Having a 70’s Moment: Denim Button-up Skirt

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Hi all!  In anticipation of summer travels, I’ve been sewing up a storm! I’ve also been aware of a huge gap in my me-made separates wardrobe that must be fixed before I travel. I have very few skirts and almost no pants. My recently completed jeans helped to fill the gap, but I still need skirts, and, as luck would have it, there’s a skirt competition this month at Pattern Review, the perfect motivation!

Being a fan of denim and blue, I couldn’t resist giving a jeans skirt a go. The pattern I chose was Mc Call’s 7392, a fitted skirt with a waistband, a front band, button closure, side front and back seams, and optional pockets and carriers.

I love the design of this skirt. The front and back ‘princess’ seams make ‘fit’ a breeze and the  a-line shape and front button closure are so seventies. To satisfy my craving for ‘jean skirt’, I added some additional details like front pockets and contrast topstitching.The pattern instructions were easy to follow.

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My only criticism….I disliked the way the carriers are attached. They are basted to the waistband, then sewn into the waistband seam. If you want to topstitch that waistband, you can’t because the carriers are in the way. So disappointing. Next time, I will sew the carriers on the way you do with jeans. I’ll just turn the ends under and stitch them in place outside the waistband. Because this pattern has princess seams, I found it easy to modify it to fit my shape. This gets a big ‘thumbs up’ from me, since I have a wide waist that’s out of proportion to the rest of me.

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Fabric Used: I used dark denim, so hard to find but available at Fabric Depot.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I double topstitched everything. I modified the patterns back pockets and side front pockets.

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Since I’m not a fan of side front pockets as I think they make my waist look shapeless, I used the back pockets as a template for two smaller front pockets, which I sewed in place, patch style. To get the smaller size for those pockets, I just traced the back pocket and reduced the size by 5/8 inch all around. I topstitched each pocket and added a chevron style ‘V’ for fun. I hesitated when it was time to put the back pockets on, as I wondered if four pockets on one skirt would be overkill, but the truth is, I love pockets! So I added them.

To make the topstitching look sharp, I double threaded my needle with regular thread. Some might prefer topstitching thread, but my machine doesn’t like it, so double threading gave visual dimension to the topstitch without clogging my machine. I also topstitched the carriers and the waistband seams, even though the pattern didn’t call for them. For a jeans skirt vibe, I used  jeans buttons in an antique finish that you pound in place with a hammer. So satisfying! The button holes were made using the contrast thread.

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In summary, I do like this pattern and will likely sew it again. IMG_3133 (1)

With its many seams, this pattern is easy to modify for fit, and to add your own personal touch. The cut is ‘a-line’ but not too wide at the bottom, so hard to find in a skirt pattern. It definitely satisfied my urge for a seventies style denim button-up skirt. I’ll probably try this pattern again with other dense fabrics like wool or corduroy come fall

I’m curious if others have trouble using topstitching thread? Does it clog your machine? I would love to be able to use it and know there must be a trick that I just haven’t yet discovered.

It’s still cold here, but I remain optimistic and am sewing with linens and cottons…Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

The Alder Shirt Dress: One pattern Two ways

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Hi All: I think I’m the last person in the Blog world to try Grainline’s Alder shirtdress pattern! Honestly, after making it twice for this week’s challenge at the Monthly Stitch, I have no idea why it took me so long. It’s a great pattern with two fun versions. One is a traditional dress with a stand up collar. The other is a fun skirted option, with a raised gathered waist. To make things even more interesting, on the Grainline blog, they’ve provided instructions on how to add sleeves and how to adjust the collar to make a  v-neck. Lots of options means everyone’s happy, right?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have PLENTY of shirt dresses with collars in my closet. And in the heat of summer, I can’t stand a collar rubbing against my skin. So I opted to try the v-neck version. This involves re-drafting the pattern a bit, following Jen’s instructions. Sounds hard, right? It’s not! Honestly, if I can do it you can. IMG_2914My first version of the Alder is the traditional sleeveless version, using an organic cotton print that I purchased at one of my favorite local fabric  shops, Modern Domestic. The cotton is soft and has a great drape, a must for version B of the Alder. The gathered waistline would probably look way too bunchy on a short person like me if the fabric was too stiff.

After tissue fitting the pattern to me, I decided the Alder’s skirt was a bit too full for my small frame. So, I took about an inch out of the Back Bodice before cutting the fabric. That skirt piece is placed on the fabric’s fold, so my adjustment was easily accomplished by extending that piece 1 inch over the fold.

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Gathers: The pattern instructions recommend that you use three rows of long stitches to gather the skirt. When I read this, my initial reaction was that this would be ‘overkill’. Ha. There is a good reason for this. The skirt is pretty full, and to manage all of those gathers and keep them right where you want them, you really do need the three rows of stitching.

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Because I live in Oregon where Summer feels too short, I decided to add sleeves to my next version. Again, Jen has that base covered on the Grainline website. I followed her instructions to take the sleeve of the Archer Shirt and adapt it to the Alder Dress. Let me just say, she makes this pretty simple. I  used a cotton chambray with embroidered accents for this version of the dress. The drape of this fabric is really soft, making it great to wear. I added a bit of contrasting bias trim to the pockets, the back yoke, and the sleeve’s hem to make those design details pop.

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I love both of my Alders! Thanks to the Monthly Stitch for challenging me to make this twice. Sometimes, that’s when the best things happen, when we do something familiar another time. Since my dresses were both inspired by summer, I planned to take photos outdoors, but wouldn’t you know it? It’s forty degrees here today! Still, I trust I’ll have lots of opportunities to wear both of my Alders soon.

Not sure which one I like the best, maybe the sleeveless version, since I love that bright fabric, although I loved inserting that bias trim on the other version. But maybe this style looks better without sleeves? Opinions welcome. I think I’ll make the straight collared version of this dress soon.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A lace top inspired by Dolce & Gabbana

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I used to think lace was reserved for prom dresses, frilly wedding dresses and other  hyper-girlie looks. But I think I’ve given that up. I can’t resist the combination of feminine lace with the edge of denim it seems. And if the lace is blue, I’m all in!

My inspiration for this top was this tunic length top/dress from Dolce and Gabbana.

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I fully intended to go the whole way with lace on the sleeves and the longer length of the top/dress, but as luck would have it, when I ordered this lace (Fabric.com), I thought I’d ordered two yards, but ended up with one. Not sure if I pushed the wrong button or if the order was messed up at their end, but when I tried to order another yard, the lace was already gone!

I grumbled about it for awhile, then found a great sheer silk to use for the sleeves and lining. It’s so perfectly wonderful to touch and wear, I decided the mistake was a good thing after all. It forced me to use a contrast silk sleeve which is more comfortable than lace by a long shot.

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The pattern is one I’ve used before McCall’s 7285.

I made view D, and used the silk for the sleeves.

Other modifications:

  • I raised the neckline by an inch.
  • I made 3/4 length sleeves with a rolled hem.
  • The hem is cut ‘high-low’. Because my lace didn’t have a scalloped edge, I merely finished the bottom with a rolled hem.

It’s an easy pattern that’s well designed, a good template for your own creativity. The only challenge here was lining up the lace so that it was perfectly centered.

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I’m wearing this top with my recently completed Jalie Jeans and love the look! It’s comfortable but sufficiently dressy. I wore it to a party just last week.

IMG_1547I only wish I’d bought more of that lace! Honestly, I have got to get in the habit of buying more not less!  I think this top might travel with me this summer. The good thing about this lace? It doesn’t wrinkle, nor does the silk. I’m guessing this top would look dressy if I wore the right jewelry and skinny black pants?

I hope you’re enjoying all of the sewing events in the blog world right now.  I love what’s going on over at the Monthly Stitch. The McCall’s blog has been great too, with a shirt dress sew along. And Pattern Review is hosting a skirt contest. There are so many ways to find inspiration, I feel a bit spoiled. Are you participating in any of these events?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

New to Me: Kanerva Button Back Shirt

 

I just might be the last blogger in the world to sew the Kanerva top! And better late than never.  This top is truly unique with buttons down the back, a pleated waist, and a split peplum. And as you all know, I’m a sucker for a peplum! True love!

IMG_2348 I’ve wanted to sew something by Named clothing for awhile. I was prompted to finally do so by the Monthly Stitch. It’s Indie Pattern Month over there, and this week we’re sewing a pattern that’s New to Me. This is my first make of the Kanerva blouse, and I am so taken with the design details! Both versions are fitted with two sets of front darts, a pleated waist and a gentle peplum.

To accentuate the fabulous design details of this blouse, I decided to use two different fabrics; A embroidered cotton and a hankerchief linen. I used the cotton for the bodice, the self-drafted pockets and sleeve bands.  I used hankerchief linen for the sleeves and peplum.

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Yes, linen loves to wrinkle, but it wears like pajamas, so all is forgiven. It does tend to fray though, so I finished all the seams with my serger. Of course, the back is where it’s really happening on this shirt!

IMG_2279I used vintage pearl buttons. They’re fairly flat so they won’t poke me when I lean against a hard backed chair. The placket is easy, just a few folds that you stitch down, then you add your buttons and button holes. I added self drafted pockets to the front just because I thought they would look cool and finished the neck with binding.

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All in all, this was a fun, straightforward make. The scariest part for me was transferring the pattern markings. I tested both tracing paper and chalk on my white fabric and both stained, so I had to use thread and pins to mark. Ugh! Not sure what a better choice would be….Recommendations are appreciated! The instructions were easy to follow though and it was about a four hour sew from cut to finish. And, I think I finished this top just in time. It’s (finally!) heating up here, with temperatures expected to be in the high nineties tomorrow. IMG_2367Although I usually choose Big Four patterns (they’re so easy to find and always on sale), I do love the fact that there’s a month dedicated to some of the alternatives available through Indie companies. There are so many choices these days, that you can always find something fun to sew. If you haven’t checked out the Monthly Stitch collective, give it a try!

The trickiest part of this project was transferring the pattern markings. Have you had problems with staining of fabrics with tracing paper? Do you know products that work better for marking?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!