An Easy DIY Knit Dress

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My love of swinging drop waist dresses will never die! Another drop waist look here)

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Knit dresses are go-to items in my wardrobe. They’re so easy to wear and to dress up so that they fit all occasions. I was really pleased and somewhat surprised when I found this yummy heathered gray knit at Joann’s. There are many (!!) great fabric shops in Portland (although one of my favorites, Fabric Depot just closed their doors last week), that I’m always surprised when Joann’s has the perfect option for me. I guess it was inevitable as they seem to be stocking lots of knit options these days!

 

The pattern for this swingy dress is New Look 6525. il_570xN.1674841253_rgvq

As you can see from this photo, the swingy nature of this dress is created in large part by the width of the bodice and skirt.IMG_8991 2

For me the trick to successfully creating the look I wanted was to keep the loose shape, while also making sure the bodice fit well in the shoulders and bust. To do that, I graded between two sizes, small size on top, widening at the hips a bit.

It’s really a fast, fun make – – you could easily do this in an afternoon! My knit is very light weight, a must to achieve the swingy look of the skirt.

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It’s pretty windy here in Portland and this dress really moves in the wind:), which is awfully fun!

There weren’t too many challenges with this simple make. The trickiest bit was attaching the skirt. To create the ruffled look at the bodice/skirt seam, you finish the top edge of the ruffle then attach the wrong side of the ruffle to the right side of the bodice. Sounds easy, but getting the placement right (and even) required lots of pins and a bit of patience. I think the look was worth the effort though!

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Mitchell can’t resist a photo-op. He’s getting so big!!

I seem to be all about fun, easy sewing right now. I’m sure the phase will pass, but I’m not really into wearing fussy clothes right now either, so at least my mood and sew-jo are in synch! I have lots of knits in my stash and they are really calling to me so there may be another of version of this pattern in my future, maybe a longer version, or the version without the skirt. I look forward to playing around with this look.

Future plans – – I’ve been enjoying everyone’s posts lately for the ‘sewing frosting’ challenge on Instagram. Because I’ve been RTW fasting this year, I’ve sewn many functional pieces, but I’m inspired to sew something frivolous now….We’ll see where that takes me. I tend to favor sewing functional as a general rule – what about you all?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A Travel Dress for France

IMG_4487Did I tell you all that I’m headed to France in September? I’m beyond excited. We’re headed to the Dordogne region followed by a visit to Paris which will definitely include some fabric shopping. I’ve started a packing list and this dress is versatile enough to earn a place in my suitcase.

There’s something about dressing in a bright colors that makes things feel…fun! Not sure if there’s a scientific reason for that, but this dress will be a favorite just because the fabric makes me feel light and happy! This knit from Art Gallery is 95% cotton, 5% spandex. I love the name of the print… Frutteria Bleu. I found it in a shop in Alexandria Virginia that I found on a recent trip to DC.. the Stitch Sew Shop. Their natural fabric collection is nicely curated. I wish I’d had room in my suitcase for more.

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This was an easy dress to make. I used the same method I used for my Day/Night Challenge cocktail dress (here). I took a favorite knit dress pattern, shortened it a bit, then added a skirt.

 

For the bodice, I used McCalls 6886, a TNT pattern that everyone loves because it never fails…it’s an easy sew, the fit is great and it’s always a dress you want to wear!! Since this fabric is so special I could not risk a failure.

This pattern is perfect to embellish, modify, lengthen, shorten…whatever. It’s one of those patterns that really transforms with your fabric choice.

I modified by adding a skirt. To do this, I cut version A of the dress, but shortened it by 8″. That still left the dress bodice quite long, a choice I made so that the skirt would feel more like a ruffle…less like a traditional drop waist dress. To make the skirt/ruffle, I cut a wide (20″) swath of fabric whose width was 1.5 times the circumference of the hem of the shortened dress. I simply gathered that long piece of fabric with a long stitch, then sewed it to the bodice of the dress.

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Because of the long bodice and deep ruffle, I wanted this dress to be long…midi length. In the summer,  I love how a long dress moves in the breeze. It makes me feel…light!

 

 

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

McCall’s 7430: A Knit Dress for Spring

IMG_9618I made this knit dress for a trip we just took to Santa Fe, but there was snow on the ground when we arrived so this dress never made it out of the suitcase, LOL! Still, I love wearing knit dresses, so I know this dress will have its day.

The trickiest part of this dress was positioning the stripes across the bodice and the sleeves.

Let me tell you….It took alot of pins and patience to get the stripes in the right place as I inserted the sleeves, but in the end, the effort was worth it.

I’ve made this knit dress pattern before and it’s now one of my favorites. McCalls 7430 offers a few variations that makes it easy to modify to give each version a fresh look. You can use contrast fabric for the yokes and the sleeve crowns as I did, or you can cut the entire sleeve from the same fabric as the bodice, or even make it sleeveless. There are collar variations too – a raised collar or a simple neck-band (my choice).

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I love a pattern that gives you alot of options!

Challenges: There aren’t any side seams on this pattern.

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This makes fit a little harder to modify. Because I’d made this pattern before (here), I wasn’t concerned, as I’d already done a trial run. The good news is, the pattern is well drafted and for me,  the size dictated by my measurements was perfect.
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The success of this dress depends in large part on the knit, I think. The fabric must have some weight and body so that it will give the dress some shape. A thin lightweight knit wouldn’t work because it would be cling too much and would show every bump. I was lucky to find this medium weight knit at Fabric Depot. It has just the right amount of weight and crosswise stretch. It’s a rayon/cotton blend which will make it easy to wear as the temperatures rise.  Now, if the weather would just improve around here.

New Mexico stole my heart last week, and the brief sprinkling of snow only made the high desert seem more exotic. Here’s one of the sights we enjoyed as we hiked.IMG_9384

It was a great trip, but it’s good to be back at my sewing machine:).

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Day/Night Dress Challenge Reveal

Hi all.  Today, I have a guest post on Elizabeth Made This, the reveal of my dresses for the Day and Night Dress Challenge, 2018.  Here’s a sneak peak of my coffee and cocktail dresses.

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I hope you’ll visit Elizabeth Made This for the full post.

This is the second year of the Challenge (here are last year’s makes for the challenge) and it’s been alot of fun. There’s a blog team and all of their makes are fabulous. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out them out as Elizabeth posts them on her blog.

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There’s a community challenge and prizes too, and it’s not to late to join!

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I’ve really enjoyed this challenge – much thanks to Elizabeth for the opportunity! Happy Sewing and Thanks for stopping by.

 

Color Blocking and Statement Sleeves

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Is color blocking still a ‘thing’? I hope so, because here I go again. I suppose the good news is that, even if color blocking is clearly ‘out’, the statement sleeves on this dress are clearly ‘in’! I decided to color block this dress when I found a yard of poppy linen and navy linen in my stash, and since my goal for 2017 is to make a huge dent in said stash, I promptly decided to use it.

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This is my second make using New Look 6519 which qualifies this pattern as a true favorite (first is here).  It’s comfortable and classic, and with the addition of the wide ruffle on the sleeve, it feels modern too.

My only modification this time around was to make a very wide ruffled sleeve. I cut a wide (seven inch) piece of linen and made it as long as 11/2 times the diameter of the sleeve opening (version A). I folded it over, gathered it, then sewed it to the sleeve, so quick and easy. With this process, you can add a ruffle to just about anything!

Besides the self tie, I also love the slight v-neck on the back of this dress… so unique.IMG_1670

My only complaint about this dress is, as drafted, it’s a little short.

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I’m only 5’4″ and it’s almost too short on me, so if you’re tall, you might want to add a few inches to the length of the bodice. Other than that, this is an easy make. There are no sleeves to set in, you don’t need a back zipper, so seam it up and you’re good to go.

Does poppy qualify as a fall color? If so,this dress would be my first official Fall make. I think I love it, although I’m not really sure about the Navy/Poppy combination. I added the Navy band and ruffle to this dress to soften the bright poppy color, and I think it does that. However, I wonder if this color combo looks a bit like a uniform? I feel like I should be asking, “Do you want peanuts with your beverage? Thoughts? Would you pair poppy with navy?

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Color choices aside, this dress feels so good because of the weight of this wonderful linen. I know I’ll wear it, no matter what.

I would like to take a minute to thank all of you for the lovely, comforting comments about the loss of my furry buddy, Dustin. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, made easier by the knowledge that I have so many kindred spirits in the sewing community with whom I share much beyond sewing and creating. Thank-you for that!

I also wanted to give a quick shout out to two interesting challenges some of our sewing friends are participating in this month; the Fabric Mart Fabricistas Challenge, and the Pattern Review Sewing Bee. Check them out and cheer our friends to victory!  Also, in other news, the Sewcialist website is up again and they’re hosting a tribute month, another fabulous source of inspiration and fun.

Until next time, 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!

New to Me: a Colette Moneta

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It’s Indie Pattern Month over at the Monthly Stitch, a fun month of challenges designed to acquaint us with the wonderful world of Indie pattern designers. Last week’s challenge was to make a pattern from a company that was ‘New To Me’. I picked Colette patterns, a company based in my home town, Portland, and made their popular pattern, the Moneta dress.  And lucky me, my ‘make’ qualifed me as a finalist in this week’s competition! Voting is now on the Monthly Stitch and I’d love to have your vote!

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This is a fabulous pattern, and I can see why it’s been so popular in the sewing community. I’m not sure why I never made it before….I’ll be making it again and again. I used a cotton jersey knit and added a contrast collar, sleeve bindings and pockets. It came together easily, and my full review can be found on the Monthly Stitch website. The good news about this pattern is that Colette includes lots of collar options on their website so that you can make many fun versions.  It’s really a keeper.

If you’re new to the Monthly Stitch, it’s worth checking out. It’s a great community and every month brings a new challenge. It’s a fun way to get inspired to do something new and to make sewing friends.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A travel dress in Barcelona

I always love seeing your ‘makes’ in action so I thought I’d do a quick post to show you my new favorite travel dress in Barcelona doing the hard job of keeping me comfortable and cool!

The double gauze I used for this version of Mccalls 7314 is the perfect travel fabric, crease resistent and easy to pack. The fabric is so lightweight it can be rolled easily and fit into a tiny space in my suitcase. A quick shake at my destination and it’s ready to be worn. Because gauze can fray,  I carefully finished my seams so that this dress could survive many washings . MCcalls 7314 is so easy to wear…I’ve made it before and I know I will again!

I am so fortunate to be here in Spain as part of a tour with my choir, Oregon Repertory Singers. Barcelona is so beautiful, and the people have made us feel so welcome, I never want to leave. There are amazing fabric stores here too…Nirvana! Eventually though, I will return home to my sewing machine with some beautiful fabric that will remind me of this city. In the meantime, Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A Cold Shoulder Tee Dress

IMG_7042Last summer, I thought the cold-shoulder trend would be a one-season wonder. Boy was I wrong! It’s everywhere this Spring, and if the trend-predictors are correct, it will be around for some time to come.  I’m glad to hear that because, honestly, I love wearing this look! To me, it makes a simple dress something special. That’s why I decided to try it for this casual, tee-shirt dress.

IMG_7057This dress is as comfortable as it looks, made from an Art Gallery cotton jersey I purchased from Fabric Depot last summer. It’s a medium weight jersey which is great for keeping the shape of the cold shoulder detail. But it’s not too heavy, allowing the gathers at the waist to really shine.

My inspiration for this make was this casually sophisticated dress from Tibi.

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I was so happy when I found a pattern that re-creates this look, Butterick 6425.

IMG_7031I love the neck-line options and the fact that you can use the pattern to create a number of looks, including a jumpsuit! I opted for the v-neck dress option but used the sleeves from option B.  The neckline and sleeve openings are simply finished with a 5/8 inch hem. Usually, I prefer a binding or a facing finish at the neck, but with this knit, this method worked well. However, on a flimsier knit, it would be possible to stretch the knit too much during construction, resulting in a saggy neck or sleeve opening. This dress is an easy make, and from cut to finish it took me less than three hours.

IMG_7017I am going to love wearing this dress and am so glad I decided to add this to my cold shoulder wardrobe (here and here and here). The black and white print is classic but bright and eye catching. The style is pretty versatile too. It could be dressed up with a belt and some cool jewelry or dressed down with flats or tennis shoes for running errands. My only question about this dress is whether I left it too long or not? Long is more sophisticated, but short is…well… more energetic looking? I also wish I’d had enough fabric to make a matching belt, but, alas, that was not the case.

I plan on making another version of this dress with the flutter sleeves and might even try a jumpsuit version! Lots of plans are swirling around in my head :).

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

Chambray, Lace and Pom-Pom Trim?

IMG_6494 3Chambray, lace and pom-pom trim… a funny combination I didn’t plan, but somehow, it happened.

If you think this new dress looks alot like the linen dress I made last spring you would be right. I loved that dress and wore it constantly until a trip to a hotel laundry shortened it to scandal level. I was so bummed! After a period of mourning, I accepted the fact that I’d have to replace it, and that’s how this dress came to be.

IMG_6385 I rarely buy fabric on-line, preferring to support the local stores, but when I saw this fabric on Fabric.com, it leaped into my shopping bag. The combination of chambray and lace would have had me, but then you add the blue….gotta have it! When the fabric arrived, I knew it was perfect for a simple shift dress, because the lace border was perfect to take center stage.

IMG_6354  Enter Mccalls 7532, a new pattern this spring that has a decidedly low key, boho vibe.

I love the swingy shape, the statement sleeves and the v-neck, a detail that begged for the pom-pom trim I had stashed away.

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The pattern went together easily, and the instructions were great, but I did make some changes. The skirt of this pattern is really swingy… and since my fabric was cotton chambray, it didn’t really have the right drape for the amount of ease in this pattern. So, I pulled in the side seams a bit to compensate. Trust me, I took out alot of that swing, and still had plenty of room, so you might want to size down. There’s alot of ease in the skirt that would likely work best with a crepe or a silk, or rayon challis, all recommended by McCalls.

I also modified the sleeves a bit. When I cut them as designed, it was clear to me that I would never be able to go out to dinner without knocking over a wine glass with that ruffle.  It’s true that my beverage of choice, white wine, doesn’t stain like red, but who wants to test that theory? To make the sleeves a bit more wearable, I shortened them by 3 inches and reduced the ruffle width by an inch and a half. That cost me a bit of ‘drama’ but I gained a dress I will wear.

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Do I love this dress more than last year’s linen/lace combo? No, but I’ve decided it’s not a comparison I have to make. This dress is cool for different reasons. It’s comfortable, the lace is gorgeous, and it will be the perfect travel companion for my trip to Spain. I love swing dresses so much, I already have another version in the works from a lighter weight fabric. It will be interesting to see how a different fabric changes the character of the dress.

I added the outside photos to this post just today, as the weather here is finally worthy of cottons, linens and silks. Yay! The only downside of beautiful weather is that I accomplish very little because I just want to play, play, play! Oh well. There’s always tomorrow when (sigh) it will probably rain.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!