The Challenge has a great twist this year. Rather than make two new dresses, the idea is to take a dress you’ve made but ignored, and make it more wearable by adding to the look. The challenge fit perfectly with my recent efforts to curate my wardrobe (inspired by the show, Tidying Up!). I’ve really been reviewing my me-mades in an attempt to figure out what works for me, and what doesn’t, a challenge I hope will illuminate my future me-made efforts.
My Basic Dress
Even though I used a lovely rayon knit to make this dress last year, I felt it was just too plain for me, and the color made me feel a bit like I belonged on the flight crew of a local airline, LOL! Yet, the rayon jersey is as comfortable to wear as silk, so I just couldn’t toss the dress. My first order of business for this challenge was to modify my original dress slightly, to give it more style by adding a ruffle to the sleeve, a design element I noticed in the Max Mara Spring line – – there are cool ruffles everywhere!
The pattern for this dress (McCalls 6886) is a simple one I’ve used many times before, so modifying it was really fun. To add the ruffle to the sleeve, I sewed a long, double-faced ruffle 1 and 1/2 times the length of the sleeve and three inches wide that I gathered with three rows of gathered stitching. To insert it on the sleeve, I first unpicked the sleeve from the bodice (since I’d already made the dress, LOL), and unpicked the sleeve seam itself so that I could lay the sleeve flat. From there, it was easy to sew on the ruffle, aligning it with the center of the shoulder, extending the ruffle to the wrist. Then, I re-sewed the sleeve seam, and inserted it into the bodice of the dress. The process was time-consuming, but the sewing was easy.
Once modified, the dress had more appeal to me, but it still didn’t feel that versatile. To work in my life, a dress work at the grocery store, at a business meeting, then to dinner with friends. So, to make this dress more functional, I added my favorite go-to accessory, a ‘topper’.
DAY LOOK: Adding some edge
For my day look, I used a Lisette pattern, Butterick 6169, a basic moto jacket pattern I know I’ll use again.
My fabric is a lightweight wool blend and I love the cozy feeling I get just looking at its fleece-like pile.
Construction was straightforward and the pattern fit without modification. Adding the zipper looks harder than it is, I’m pleased to say! This cropped jacket will be a favorite, I can tell as I can imagine how it will look with my ginger jeans, with skirts…with everything I own! I love how its funky animal print vibe gives a bit of an edge to my fussy-looking dress.
NIGHT LOOK: Adding BLING
To create my night look, I added another topper, a jacket with some sparkle (There are little sequins imbeded in the boucle. They’re hard to see in the photos.)
I used a long-favorite pattern of mine, Butterick 5569, a coat with a vintage vibe and a big wide collar (OOP but available on Etsy.)
I fell in love with this glitzy fabric without thinking much about how it would be to work with.
Wow – – It was a challenge and a half. This fabric unravels if you just look at it wrong and it doesn’t move easily under the presser foot. So, I had to layer tissue paper over each seam before sewing to keep the fabric from bunching. It was a time-consuming effort, but I love the result. Not only that, but I learned how to sew with a special fabric, something that normally intimidates me. I’m so glad I decided to line this coat with silk. It will always feel special to wear it. I know this jacket is going to be in heavy rotation…It will work with dresses, skirts, even with my Ginger jeans!
I loved the Day/Night Dress Challenge this year, and I learned a lot from taking it on. From a wardrobe perspective, I’m definitely a girl who loves to wear a good ‘topper’! For me, a jacket/sweater/wrap can take a basic dress from Ho-hum to a keeper. I also learned how to sew with a challenging fabric (sequins!). I know I’ll never be intimidated by glitzy fabric again:).
Thank-you Elizabeth, for the invitation to join and for hosting the challenge. It’s an honor to be featured here with these talented sewing friends.
Keep reading here to find out the latest. Follow Elizabeth Made This on InstagramandFacebook.
Post a picture of your newly styled dress and extra pieces in your day look and your night look to Instagram to enter yourself. Don’t forget to tag @elizabethmadethis and use the #dayandnightdresschallenge.
Grab the graphic below and post it on your site and/or repost on Instagram:
First, the Burda top…..My box of precious fabric bits and lacy remnants is overflowing these days, so I’ve adopted a new ‘tidying up’ rule. If I can’t find a use for a remnant within six months of adding it to the box, it must go. So, I was thrilled to find this lovely pattern that seems designed to use up my bits and pieces.
Burda Style 12/2018/103 ticks a lot of boxes for me. Since my daily uniform of choice is a knit top with jeans, this one has the potential to stretch my every day wardrobe significantly. I also have a thing for peplums (here and here), so I couldn’t resist this assymetrical version. Then there’s the opportunity here to mix fabrics…a big plus when you’re working with remnants.
Because I could see lots of potential here, I decided it would be worth the extra step of tracing the pattern from the magazine insert (usually a hard sell for me!!). Luckily, this pattern only has four pieces to trace (a front and back bodice, and a front and back peplum) so it took me less than a half hour – – Score!! Also, since Burda patterns don’t include seam allowances, I’ve taken to tracing a size up to avoid the process of adding seam allowances to each piece. So far, this method has worked well for me.
Recommended fabrics are knits for the bodice, and softly draping blouse fabrics for the peplum. I used a rayon knit for the bodice of both my versions. On the white version, I used a remnant of eyelet lace for the peplum and a remnant of silk for the blue peplum.
The blue silk was a bit tricky to work with. It’s sheer and my Bernina wanted to eat it:). I’ve found that to sew with silk, I have to use the right needle in my machine..the sharper the better!
The sheer fabric really dresses up the top, so the torture was worth it. I used my rolled hem foot to put a narrow hem on this peplum. I didn’t have enough of the bodice fabric for the sleeves so I cut them from a remnant of solid blue rayon jersey – – another piece from the pile!! I always feel so virtuous when I use a remnant, don’t you?
This top was an easy sew. The neck is finished with a bias strip, and I used my twin needle to hem the sleeves and the lace. All of the seams are serged, but you could use a zig-zag stitch as well. Instructions on Burda Style patterns can be a bit brief, but in this case, there really wasn’t much of a need to elaborate. One other note…the fit on this top is loose and very forgiving, so I didn’t find I needed any adjustments.
I was able to complete both of the tops in an afternoon. There’s nothing like a quick project on a Sunday afternoon, don’t you think?
In other news, I visited the Dior exhibit in Denver last week and was completely blown away by the exquisite designs and fabrics and finishings. Here are a few shots to enjoy…
(If only I was a better photographer…) The first dress here is embroidered with branches and leaves and flowers…so beautiful! The green dress was worn by Nicole Kidman to the Oscars. It has netting, embroidery and fur trim! And let me tell you, this dress is….well, tiny.
The dress on the left is covered with equisitely made tassels. The red dress here is embroidered with flowers and studded with pearls and sequins. The white dress is tassled too. Touching these gowns was out of the question of course, but wouldn’t that be fabulous? We sewists are tactile creatures, aren’t we? After leaving the exhibit, I could hardly wait to get home to sew.
This week, I’ll be working on my look for the Day/Night Dress Challenge. I’ll be posting my look on February 22. There’s a community challenget too and prizes…join us!
Next week I’m celebrating my wedding anniversary, and will be going out for a date with my husband. As usual, the January weather isn’t really great for wearing a dress (gray, dark and rainy, blah!), so I decided to sew a date night top from a springy floral to perk myself up!
For a special night out, I always want to wear something with a bit of drama, so it was the perfect excuse to sew another fun peplum top.
You all know, I’m a big fan of peplums (sewn here, here and here). Every time I think I’m over them, I discover a new version to try. This top is Vogue 9084, a very easy pattern that has some really dramatic peplums, if you’re in the mood! I was attracted to the curved seam where the peplum meets the bodice – I just had to have it!
I love this fabric (fabricdepot.com). It’s embroidered rayon and it hangs like a dream. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric to do view C with the dramatic high low peplum. Not sure my husband would have loved that look anyway, since he wasn’t a fan of my coat with the interesting hem (here), LOL. Maybe next time. Although this pattern is marked ‘easy’ I did have a few challenges with fit. The neck doesn’t look big, but on me it was huge, even though I cut the smallest size and took a narrow back adjustment. I ended up taking a couple of short darts at the neckline in the back before finishing the neckline with seam binding. This did make it fit much better, but it was frustrating as I had already taken some ease out of the back with my narrow shoulder adjustment.
Unfortunately, my print doesn’t really show the cool curved seam in the front, so next time, I’ll likely make it in a solid fabric. For fun, I modified the sleeves a bit and added a 6 inch wide bell cuff so that it would look more dressy for ‘date-night’. To do this, I cut off 6 inches of the sleeve length. Then, for the bell cuff, I cut a 8 inch wide piece of fabric. The length was 1 and a half times the circumference of the sleeve opening. Once the cuff was gathered, I just inserted it into the sleeve bottom.
At this time of year, going out in the evening means wearing a heavy coat and pants so I’m glad I’ll have this fun top to make me feel dressed up when I reach my destination.
In other news, Elizabeth at Elizabeth Made This is hosting the Day/Night dress Challenge again this year. Last year, I loved participating in the challenge because it inspired me to make two dresses that I wear all the time and I met some really fun bloggers. So I was so pleased when she asked me to participate again this year.
The theme is coffee and cocktails, a brillant way to capture the essence of the challenge, which is to sew a dress you’d wear if you were meeting a friend for coffee, and another to wear for cocktails! Any one can participate. The details are on Elizabeth’s blog, but it’s really simple. You can tag your entries on Instagram with #dayandnightdresshchallenge and tag Elizabeth at Elizabethmadethis too. There are prizes, heh, heh and great sponsers. I’ve started planning my dresses and can’t wait to see yours!
Hi all – – I’m pleased to be showing you my dresses as part of the Day and Night Dress Challenge Blog tour. Thanks to Elizabeth of Elizabeth Made This for this challenge. What better way to jump-start our sewing after the holidays! There’s a blog tour and a community challenge so check it out for some inspiration. You’ll find a list of the bloggers that are participating and links to their sites at the end of this post.
My Day Dress:
I’d wear dresses every day if I had enough of them! Dresses are perfect for everything a day can dish out: running errands, a business meeting, or (!!) happy hour. But to me, a day dress just has to have pockets. I feel weird if I don’t have somewhere to stick my hands! That’s why I picked McCalls’ 7464 for this make. It has curved pockets, a design element that mimics the line of the curved inset.The pockets were lined, but very easy to sew. The challenge was cutting and placing them on my plaid woven cotton. There’s nothing like a plaid matching challenge to test your determination!
I love how the curved insets add shape at the waist. I used a solid ponte knit for the insets and the sleeves so that it would provide a calming contrast to the busy plaid. The ponte knit, although stable, has a teeny bit of give, and since it’s placed at the waist, this means this dress is really comfy.
McCall’s 7464 is a pretty easy pattern to put together, yet it has a lot of fun detail.
I modified the design only slightly. I added a short knit collar to give my dress a more casual look, and finished the sleeves with a narrow knit cuff too. I know I’ll wear this dress a lot.
My Night Look
I’m crazy about lace (as if y’all didn’t know that!), and when I saw this black lace at the Mill End Store, it was love at first sight. For the challenge, our night dress needed to be black, so I knew I’d use the lace as part of that look. I decided to make a simple, unfussy dress so the lace could shine.
I paired the lace with black velvet, because, well…it’s velvet! To make the dress, I lengthened one of my favorite top patterns, Vogue 8952.
I like the Raglan sleeves on the top, and thought they’d look interesting in lace. I love Swing-y dresses when I go out, because they have a dressy-vibe, without being fussy. To get the swing look of this dress, I extended the a-line of the top pattern by 8″. Then, I added an 8″ border of lace to the hem. I didn’t line the lace border, because I like the see through quality of the lace. With black hose/tights, I hope it’s not too revealing, just dramatic? I know this LBD will get a lot of use.
The Day and Night Dress Challenge blog tour is a great way to visit some new blogs and find some inspiration for your own makes. Thanks to Elizabeth for putting this together for us all to enjoy! There’s a community challenge too, with cool prizes and great sponsers. You can find the details on Elizabeth’s blog, Elizabeth Made This.
Hi all! It’s 20 degrees here in Portland, indoor photo weather of course, but also the perfect weather for sewing. There’s nothing like a cold day to drive you to your sewing room.
Sometimes, after the intensity of the holiday season, I find it challenging to re-focus my energies and to get my sew-jo going. But this year, The Day and Night Dress Challenge, hosted by Elizabeth Made This, has given my sewing a ‘jump-start’. The challenge is to sew two dresses; a day dress and a Little Black Dress for evening wear. There’s a blog tour, (I’ll be hosting here on Wednesday January 11), and a community challenge with prizes and cool sponsers.
This lace top is the first stage of my ‘night dress’ planning.
My concept for my night dress is an a-line ‘swing’ dress of black velvet and lace, using this pattern as the base by lengthening it to dress length.
Vogue 8952 is a fun easy sew, with ragan sleeves, my favorite. For this trial version, I used white lacey knit from Joann’s. I think the shape will be fine for my dress, so I’ll lengthen the bodice by about eight inches before cutting my velvet, then I’ll use black lace for the sleeves and at the hem.
My day dress will be more fitted, but casual, sewn out of cotton and ponte knit. I’m making McCalls 7464, using a large plaid for the body of the dress, accenting the sides and sleeves with solid knit. Both dresses will be finished and posted on Wednesday (fingers crossed). I haven’t tried my ‘day dress’ pattern before, so I hope it will work! Nothing like living dangerously.
The Day and Night Dress Challenge is a great way to start the new year. The community challenge has prizes and cool sponsors too. Come join us! There’s a fun group of bloggers participating in the blog tour, so check them out. The fun starts on Saturday, January 8th and I’ll be posting Wednesday, January 11th, here. For more details on how you can participate, check out the Elizabeth’s fabulous blog, Elizabeth Made This. She’s the brains behind this fun event, and her makes are always a source of inspiration for me.
I hope your new year is off to a great start with lots of sewing time. Will you be making dresses with us this January? I’d love to hear your plans!