Sew Twists and Ties: the Ruska Knot Dress

 

When Named Clothing released their book, Breaking the Pattern, I could hardly wait to get my hands on it! I’m not a big fan of sewing books, but the Named Clothing designs really appeal to me (here, here, and here, ). Their modern, pared-down vibe is so contemporary and elegant. So, I asked Santa for a copy and he delivered.

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The book was even better than I expected. Breaking the Pattern is all about taking their basic patterns, and ‘breaking’ them apart with variations and hacks. The book comes with ten patterns with two variations each and instructions on how to do more. In fact, the ten patterns in the book can generate fifty variations (!!) which makes this book and its patterns an economical choice. The ‘easy’ patterns are at the beginning of the book..the hard ones at the end. All the patterns are included  – – you trace the ones you like.

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The Ruska knit dress caught my eye right away which isn’t a big surprise. These days, I’m really drawn to knit dresses. After watching a few episodes of Marie Kondo ‘tidying up’, I’ve been ‘Kondoing’ my wardrobe. Guess what! Knit dresses and tops consistently bring me joy (secret pajamas!!). They make great layering pieces too over tights, leggings, even jeans.

 

 

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The Ruska can be made as a basic dress, a tee or with a knotted tie in the front. It’s probably no surprise to anyone that I immediately went for the version with the knot in the front, LOL! Admittedly, I do have a ‘thing’ for ties, knots and twists (proof available here, here and here.) And, there’s a challenge on Instagram this month, hosted by Meg from Cookin and Craftin, Sew Twists and Ties, which I just can’t resist!

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For the dress, a firm knit with good recovery is recommended. For my first version (the aubergine version above), I used stretch velor (Britex.com) with medium stretch, but not great recovery. Yes, this fabric is a bit thick for this dress, but I have been trying for years to re-create a stretchy velor dress I had in high school! The dress turned out well, especially when you consider the fabric wasn’t perfect. The fit was good without fuss, and it felt stylish and comfortable So, I couldn’t resist trying the Ruska again with a another knit fabric.

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This knit from Joann’s is fabulous; a wool blend with great recovery. There’s such a difference in the look and feel of this dress. I made this version long (midi length) for fun. We’ll see if I leave it that long, LOL. I tend to favor shorter dresses because I feel more energetic in them for some reason. Maybe it’s the fabric against my legs that makes the difference? Obviously, the drape of this knit is better for the dress, and the fit is sleeker too.

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This dress went together quickly, and the instructions in the book were easy to follow. I was so pleased with the fit. I found my measurements on the size chart in the book and found it accurate. There really weren’t any construction challenges. The knot and tie look trickier to sew than they really are. The tie is part of an overlay piece that just fits over the basic dress and is attached at the shoulder and side seams.  The edges of the tie are finished with a narrow machine hem. Easy!

I’m giving this pattern a big thumbs up! The fit of the Ruska is such a winner for me, I’m going to use the basic tee option to sew to fill some gaps in my basic wardrobe. I’ll make the Ruska this summer with a colorful jersey, maybe even a stripe.

Yay!! A couple of new dresses that will ‘bring me joy’. (Are any of you as focussed as I am on ‘Kondoing’ my wardrobe, my house, my life???) This pattern was a great way to ease into using this book. I can’t wait to try a some of other patterns this Spring.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying it, give it a look. Yes, you have to trace the patterns, but the sheets aren’t nearly as crazy as they could be (Burda Style, anyone?).

Thanks to Meg at Cookin and Craftin for hosting this fun challenge! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

Burda Style Cocoon Dress

I have to admit it…There was very little forethought behind these two new ‘makes’. I made these cocoon dresses on a whim….merely because I thought they would look pretty good with my new Cocoon coat (here)! Shallow…but true. Now that the 2018 RTW fast is over, I’m feeling quite free. I can sew anything I want without a single thought about whether I ‘need’ it to fill a hole in my wardrobe or not.  Frivilous sewing is the life for me!!

I’m such a sucker for a good knit dress in the winter, so if anyone waves a pattern in front of my face that gives me an excuse to make yet another one, I’m all in. And this one has pockets, which makes it perfect!

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I absolutely love a dress with side seams that wrap around to the front. I’m a big fan of stand up collars too….so Audrey Hepburn!

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Burda Style patterns have never been on the top of my list because they come in a magazine insert, so they all have to be traced onto pattern paper before they’re cut and sewn, and, well, I hate tracing patterns. I’d much rather buy a paper pattern, thank you very much. But the design of this dress was too good to pass up. So, I put on a binge worthy show just did it. This Burda Style pattern (1/2019/111) was worth the effort.

 

I loved the pattern so much I made two versions – – one from a soft, ‘poppy’ colored sweater knit I bought at the Mill End Store, and one from a textured sweat shirt jersey that I found at Joann’s (on sale!).

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It’s always interesting to see how different a dress/pattern looks with a two different knits. The gray textured jersey is a heavier moderate stretch knit so the dress and collar look more structured in that fabric. The poppy knit is so soft with a bit more stretch so the fit is loose and easy.

The dress went together easily. The collar is cut as part of the bodice so that makes things simple. The shape of the dress is created by the forward placement of the side seams. The hardest detail is the zipper at the back. Fitting is pretty straightforward…you can modify at the side or center back seam. I used a double needle for the sleeve hem and dress hem.

I love the neckline and the cocoon shape of this pattern – obviously, I’ll likely make it again. And the best part? Both dresses work under my new coat:)

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It’s always fun to follow an intense project like a coat with a less involved project, a palate cleanser! To be honest, the tracing of the pattern wasn’t as bad as I expected…really went pretty quickly and I’m getting better at figuring out all of those crazy lines on the magazine insert. So, there will definitely be more Burda Style makes in my future.

I  hope your New Year has had a strong start. I’m excited about all of the sewing happenings this month – – the Pattern Review Sewing Bee started this week. I’m not participating this year, but I love watching the fun. There should be lots of inspiration there. I’m hoping to make something for Sew Japanese In January, and there’s the Day/Night Dress Challenge coming up next month, hosted by Elizabeth Made This! Lots to look forward to…

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

First Make of the New Year: Sew Over It Cocoon Coat

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If you read my post on my sewing ‘Misses’ for 2018, you know that I’ve sworn off wearing or buying fabric with beige and brown tones.  Yet, I’m here today with a beige/tan coat, LOL! Well, I had to ignore my new rule, because I had this lovely wool in my stash, and couldn’t pass up the chance to use it!

I found this wool at the Mill End Store here in Portland. Honestly, that store is amazing. They have the best assortment of coat quality wools I have ever seen. If you plan to visit our city (PR Weekend 2019?!), you must make time to shop there. It’s a large store, so plan a good hour to explore.

The pattern: If a coat has a ‘cocoon’ shape, I’m a big fan (here’s the Sapporo coat I made last summer). I love this version from Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It.

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Unfortunately, it isn’t available as a standard PDF pattern, but is offered as part of an issue of Lisa’s magazine, so you have to download the magazine to get the instructions and pattern. It’s easy to do ( the same as downloading a pattern), but it’s a bit unusual.

 

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Pressing is such a huge part of constructing a coat. This wool is really thick, so it was really hard to press, but the texture and yummy feel of the wool made it well worth the effort.  Thankfully, I have a gravity feed steam iron, so the task was made a bit easier. I can’t believe I struggled with the decision to buy one. It’s been such a great addition to my sewing room. This project would have been impossible without it.  If you’re considering purchasing one, I must recommend my Silver Star, but there are lots of other options on Amazon.0ff7fb1a-3683-4b25-9f9f-3ba2da8947dd_1.5f12e5f980943d7780f23b881a3d0b0c

 

The construction of the coat was pretty straightforward. The pattern instructions are adequate, but not overly detailed, but in terms of a good first pattern for a coat, this would be a great place to start.  The cocoon style makes fitting pretty easy. I think I’d call the style oversized (even though it doesn’t really look like that in the pattern photos.) I cut the smallest size and I had plenty of room to spare.

The trickiest part for me, was laying this coat out on my patterned fabric. I did pretty well with the matching of the pattern, but when the coat is closed (It’s meant to be worn open, but honestly in Oregon, that is so impractical), the front diamond looks a little bit off. This is because I overlapped the front to get some closure. I like the overlap and the snaps so much, I’ll live with the pattern being a little off to gain some comfort on blustery days.

All in all, I give a big thumbs up to this pattern! I’m really in love with the shape, and can imagine it in a solid wool, or maybe even in linen.

 

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Is there anything more satisfying than sewing a coat? In our climate, a coat gets alot of use, so I know this one will be reached for again and again. It took about 8 hours to make, but it was time well spent. And yes, I said ‘tans and brown tones’ were a no-no for me, but I feel pretty good in this coat…go figure. Maybe it’s because the tone has a bit of rust in it? Or maybe it’s because there’s a bit of contrast in the pattern that makes it work?

My first make of the new year!! I love this time of year as it’s a chance for a fresh start and a chance to plan the future. It’s so fun to see everyone’s posts on Instagram for the ‘make nine’ challenge. I’m working on my plans and pattern wish list for the year, and hope to share it soon.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

My #Sewing Top Five Misses 2018

Each year, I enjoy a review of my #Sewing Top Five Misses almost as much as my best top five. I always learn so much from my mistakes. So without further ado, here they are!top-5-of-2018.

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  1. Vogue top – Okay, when I made this,  I felt pretty clever because I constructed this top from odds and ends in my fabric stash. Ha! It’s such a mashup of colors and textures, I feel oddly distracted when I wear it. What was I thinking? New Motto – – keep it simple. To the donation pile!

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2. Aernite pants. I really loved these when I made them, but the color of the linen turned out to be problematic. It didn’t really work with anything in my wardrobe and it made me feel blah too. Lesson learned….I will avoid peachy beiges and tans in the future.

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3. The Darling Ranges dress by Megan Nielsen is a new favorite (I made three (3) versions!), but this version did not work for me. Again, the issue is the color of the stripes in the linen. It’s too peachy for me. Also, I think the dress is too long(?) so I feel rather frumpy in it. So many problems here. Ugh. The embroidered linen is so gorgeous though…too lovely to part with. I’m going try to modify the dress (shorten it to a top?) or reuse the fabric in some way.

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4. Simplicity Vintage top: What? you say. But this one is Blue! How can it be a miss?

This top is a clear miss because it’s so annoying to wear. I kid you not. Because it’s basically a wrap top with only a front and back panel, it depends on the tie to hold in the sides. That means when the tie loosens as you wear it, you enter the danger zone. If you don’t run off to a private place to re-tie, you will soon be showing all sorts of things best left covered.  Bummer as I made three of these. Thumbs down on this one….to the pile!

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5. Long Kimono top; I should love this one…the fabric, the kimono style…but I’ve never worn it. I cannot seem to find an appropriate venue/occasion. There’s something so awkward about it…maybe the length? A head scratcher for sure because I do love, LOVE this fabric so much and the style gets a big thumbs up from me.  Maybe I’ll shorten it next summer or recut it as something else. Hmmmm. I’ve got some thinking to do on this one.

Lessons learned – –

  1. Fabric in tan or beige-y tones is a no-no for me. (sigh).
  2. Avoid patterns where the design includes an element that might potentially be awkward or where you might be naked if it comes ‘undone’, LOL!
  3. Even though I love the look of a long cardigan or kimono, long isn’t always that easy to wear.
  4. Fabric that isn’t in my color palate is best left behind.
  5. Simple fabric, simple designs…they always work!

Well, that pretty much sums up the good and the not so good of 2018. I have no complaints. All in all, it was a very good year. That being said, I’d like 2019 to look a bit different. I’m hoping for some new creative adventures to sweeten my sewing experience and am thinking a lot about how to make that happen.

A fresh year, a fresh start. How was your 2018?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!