Tucks, Pleats, and Sewing through grief

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Hi all! It’s been a rough week around here. Dustin, our little buddy for sixteen years succumbed to renal failure last week. If you’ve visited here before, you may remember him from several photos. He loved to be in the middle of everything, and blog photos were no exception.

 

Such a character, and he always had something to say. He loved jumping on my sewing table and rolling around on the pattern pieces, hilarious! He was such a presence in our lives. Needless to say, his loss has been really hard.

Grief is such a miserable state to be in.  You want to get on with it, but you just can’t. Simple problems become hard. It wasn’t a week for big thoughts or new inspiration. It was a week for repetitve tasks, simple things. I found some comfort in the task of sewing pleats.

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Pleats are mindless, a bit tedious sometimes, but very calming to me. You just mark, pin, press and sew. It didn’t bother me at all that this Cynthia Rowley dress/tunic has forty pleats. But catch me at another time, and I might feel different!

I do love Simplicity 8414. Cynthia Rowley’s designs for Simplicity are always winners.simplicity-dress-cynthia-rowley-miss-pattern-8414-envelope-front

I wanted to make the dress with the ruffle, but then ran out of fabric so I settled for tunic length, which worked out quite well since the Pattern Review tunic contest is just winding down!  I might just get my entry in on time. My fabric is striped cotton shirting (Fabric Depot), that turned out to be perfect for this pleated design. The stripes became reference points that helped me to sew the pleats precisely. And there are alot of them! They give the sleeves their bell shape and the front and back bodice some fit that makes this dress flattering.

 

This pattern is time consuming, but not too hard. The trick is to mark the pleats clearly so that you can sew them precisely.  BE forewarned though. The fit of the dress is very loose. I cut an extra small and the fit is still roomy.  But to me, that’s what tunics are all about, comfort! My only complaint about this make is that the fabric wrinkles easily. Every time I move, another crease is born. I’m not entirely opposed to wrinkles, really. It’s just that sometimes you want to look crisp.

This is a fun pattern and it reminds me how much I enjoy sewing designs with pleat detailing. I can remember how taken I was once with the designs of Albert Nippon. Here’s a Vogue pattern he designed in the 80’s. Lots of pleats!

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Sewing as therapy….Do you find detailed sewing comforts you too?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

DIY Street Fair Kimono and a Cold Shoulder Tee

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Summer is winding down, but there are still plenty of opportunities to attend street fairs, farmer’s markets and wine festivals. Since Street Fairs are great places to get your inner bo-ho on, I’ve taken to wearing kimonos over my standard jeans and tees on my excursions.

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A kimono is such a great wardrobe soldier. When you toss one on, you immediately add style to any outfit!  But the best part about kimonos is that they are so fun to sew. You can use just about any fabric with a good drape to make a show stopping topper. And, because kimonos have front bands and sleeve bands, you can play around with contrasting fabrics to make the look your own.

For my kimono, I used a tried and true pattern, Simplicity 1318, view C with a great high low hem. Lightweight fabrics work best for this look, so I used a sheer cotton lawn I purchased last year in that fabulous fabric store I found in Budapest (see this post). It has a fun geometic print that I took some care in placing on the pattern.

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I love this kimono pattern so much, this is my third make (I’ve made it twice before, here and here). The only modification I made this time was to lengthen it by three inches so it would be long and flowy.

 

 

 

 

 

Because I am committed to reducing the number of wardrobe orphans in my closet, I also made Simplicty 8337, a cold shoulder knit top to go with it.

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This pattern is fabulous! It has several different views, all with a look of their own. I love the cut of the bodice. It’s slightly loose but not too blousy. The v-neck is a winner too.

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Some notes on this pattern:

  • I used a lovely rayon knit with two way stretch that I found at Fabric Depot. You need a good amount of stretch for the cold shoulder sleeve to hug your arm and not sag.
  • The pattern is generously sized. I was able to cut a XS and had room to spare.
  • Also, please note, there is a seam down the front, which is a bit unexpected in a tee. It’s was likely added to the pattern to accomodate the ruffle version and the v-neck version. It doesn’t bother me on my solid color tee, but you could elimnate that front seam pretty easily if you wanted to.

Both patterns are keepers, if you ask me!

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Now that I’ve made this kimono pattern three times, I think it should enter a special category in my pattern stash;  the pattern Hall of Fame, don’t you think? Hmmm, I might have to put together a special post to honor that category :).

Do you have any three-time winners in your pattern stash? I’d love to check them out!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Easy, breezy – – the Kalle Shirt Dress

I didn’t set out to become a fan girl of Closet Case Patterns, but that’s what seems to have happened!

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After making Closet Case’s Charlie Caftan twice (here and here) and loving it, I decided I had to give Heather’s other patterns a try. I chose the Kalle, although at first glance, it didn’t seem to be the pattern for me.  The pattern envelope drawing wasn’t that appealing to me to be honest.

Kalle_Shirt_Shirtdress_Pattern_Envelope_cover-01_c93b1b82-07e4-4b1c-985d-e5fc30ac905b_1280x1280Then there was the description of the shirt/dress as loose fitting… always bad news for a smallish person like me. But then, I saw a Kalle shirt on a sales person at one of my local fabric stores that was so, so cute, I had to have it.

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I do admire Heather’s design. The pattern is a great contemporary update of the traditional shirtdress. There’s so much to like about this pattern. The sleeves are cut as part of the bodice, which makes construction a breeze. You can make choices to modify the pattern to fit your mood; a hidden placket versus a regular placket? A band collar or standard collar? It’s all up to you.

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As luck would have it though, my concerns about the style were realistic. The fit is very loose and boxy, which meant that even the smallest size was a bit much for me. Here’s my first version. I thought I’d figured out how to make it work, when my husband said, ‘hey, great fabric, BUT isn’t that dress WAY TOO BIG?” (Gutsy guy, don’t you think?)

IMG_0629 2After snarling a bit, and explaining to him that ‘this is the way it’s supposed to look’, I took a snap shot of myself. Darn, if he wasn’t right!! It looked big, but not in that, ‘oh, i just picked up my boyfriend’s shirt from off the floor’ way. So, I went back to the drawing board, adjusted the side seams, and smiled about the whole thing.

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My fabric is Cotton and Steel from last season (Fabric Depot), and the cotton is really nice…not too stiff or heavy, but it isn’t as flowy as rayon or silk would be. I mention this because I believe my fabric choice contributed to the boxy look I experienced before my modifications. I think the Kalle would be great in a soft linen, or maybe a rayon or silk.

Besides taking in the side seams, I also modified the length of my Kalle. I didn’t think I would love the look of what seemed to be a exaggerated high-low hem. So I added 3 inches to the front. It is still pretty short on me, and I am 5’4″. Not sure what it would have looked like if I hadn’t lengthened it, LOL!

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With those modifications, this dress is now in the category of ‘love’. It will likely move quickly into my shirt dress hall of fame. It’s fun to wear, and fun to sew….there’s something so satisfying about sewing a shirt – the placket, the collar, even the button holes are so gratifying. It’s almost as good as the smell of a new book when you first open it, don’t you think?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Charlie Caftan #2

This new Charlie might be my favorite!

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When I made this version of the Charlie Caftan, I thought to myself, Hey, I might as well get rid of the rest of my clothes because is the only piece of clothing I will ever wear.

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This dress is so well designed (Heather of Closet Case Patterns), I just want a million of them! The Charlie is comfortable and easy to wear, but this yummy fabric pushes it to another dimention. This silky rayon (Fabric Depot) has the movement this long caftan needs to make it feel breezy, yet enough body to hold the shape of the deep v-neck. (If the fabric looks familiar to you, that’s because I used it for this dress a few months ago, yet I still had enough left for this long Charlie, LOL!)

I’ve made the Charlie before here, so I knew it was a fun, three-hour sew. But I also knew there were a few adjustments I needed to make to the pattern.

1. I applied the front inset to the bodice instead of inserting it.

2. I raised the front panel by an inch and a half because it sat too close to my waist.

3. I took out some of the gathers in the front bodice by reducing the width of the front panel by 1 1/2 inches (and it’s still plenty full.)

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4. I made my ties  45” long, so that I can tie them at the front instead of the back. (This is just a bit of fussiness on my part. Back ties bother me when I sit down in a hard backed chair.)

There were a few minor irritations as I made this pattern. I felt the inset instructions could be improved, but there is a how-to tutorial from Heather, so maybe the issue is more about me :).   Also, the pattern steps aren’t numbered, so it’s easy to lose your place, a minor flaw that likely bothered me because I was in such a hurry to see this long version of the Charlie!

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There are some great Charlies out there in the sewing community, and here are a few of my favorites: here, here and here.

My conclusion? You can never have too many Charlies in your life. I’m in love with this pattern and will likely make another. However, I think it’s time to sew with our upcoming cooler temperatures in mind. I’ve been trying to figure out how to modify the Charlie to make it compatible with Fall. I could lengthen the sleeves I suppose, but I’m not sure that would look right with the caftan style. I suppose I could just leave them ‘as is’ and plan on wearing a tee or something underneath for extra warmth. Hmmm… Thoughts? Can you style a caftan for fall?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

The Indie Royalty challenge:  I’m a finalist….

Hi all! Indie Pattern Month has been so fun, and now, as the festivities come to an end, I am a finalist for the mini wardrobe challenge, Indie Royalty. All of the entries are so gorgeous and I’m honored to be one of the group! I would love to have your vote. For more about my entry,  see this Post. To vote, go Here (Monthly Stitch website.) Thank-you…fingers crossed:)