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!

 

 

McCall’s 7501: Two versions

Hi all! I’m back with two versions of a McCall’s 7501, both made with fabrics from my stash (YAY!). When I first saw this pattern, I knew it had to be mine. I love the drama of a wide collar. It has a vintage vibe I love.

 

My  first version is made from a textured sweater knit with moderate stretch. Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite enough for a dress, but this sweater knit has a loose weave that’s probably better suited for a tunic top anyway.

img_2756The collar is designed so that it fits very neatly on your shoulder, which makes this so comfortable to wear. On me, it’s a teeny bit off the shoulder, which I love! Because the sweater knit is an open weave, I’m wearing it here with a tee under it because, baby it’s cold outside. When the weather warms up though, this will be the perfect spring sweater.

Version two is a Little Black Dress, made from ponte knit. I have a special ‘dress-up’ event coming up this weekend, so I couldn’t resist making a version out of a dressy ponte knit I had in my stash. It’s really thick and yummy, embossed with a design that looks like velvet.

 

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It’s so hard to take photos of a black dress, so I hope you can see the cool design on this knit. Even though this dress is close fitting, this stretchy knit makes it comfortable to wear. If my husband wanted to dance (ha), I could! There aren’t any darts, and the sleeves are raglan, so this is an easy sew. Even though the pattern doesn’t call for lining, I did line my dress with a lightweight black stretch satin so that it won’t cling when I walk. The collar is supposed to be faced, but my knit was so thick I just turned the edges under of a single layer of fabric.

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I think the body and weight of this fabric is perfect for this dress, so I’d definitely recommend chosing a similiar ponte knit. It has nice crosswise stretch, which helps the collar to cup over the shoulder. I don’t think a ponte without some give would work as well.

I love my new top and dress. They’re both comfortable, but fitted, which is a great combination.

I’ve become such a fan of making two versions of the same pattern one right after the other. It’s such an efficient way to go, because the second time is so easy and fast. I wonder why I don’t do that all the time (?), especially when I find a pattern I love. Of course, it’s a bit of an assembly-line approach to sewing, but that didn’t seem to diminish the fun factor for me. Maybe some of you are wondering why I just came to this method because you’ve been sewing this way for years! Would love to hear any and all opinions.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

DIY Date Night Dress

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After I made a swing dress for the Day and Night Dress Challenge, I knew there would be another in my future. What is it that makes a swing dress so fun to wear?!? For me, it’s the way the skirt moves. It’s not quite ‘twirl-worthy’, but fun just the same.

This dress is another attempt to fill in a hole in my wardrobe. The ‘dress up’ category is woefully lacking. So, now I have another ‘date night’ outfit and I used up some of my stash too! This fabric is so yummy; a black ponte knit that’s embellished with a  silvery rose lace pattern. I knew it was destined to be used in a garment that had simple lines so that the interesting fabric could take center stage.

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I do like to combine laces and patterns and textures from time to time just for the fun of it, so I enjoyed mixing and matching laces here. I used a very airy lace from my stash for the yoke and sleeves, then a silver embroaidered lace for one of the contrasting yoke bands. I also added a yoke band of solid velvet to add some contrast to all of the patterns and textures in the lace.

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This dress is a mash-up of a couple of different patterns, Vogue 8817 for the yoke and contrasting yoke bands, and Vogue 8952 (view B) for the swingy bodice. The reason I used two patterns is that I know that the bodice of Vogue 8817 has too much volume for my frame, so I used the bodice of 8952 to draft my a-line bodice.

I did a bit of the high-low thing on the hem to give it a bit more swing. I also lined the bodice with stretch satin so that it won’t cling to my legs. For even more contrast, I made very narrow velvet cuffs for the sleeves.

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I love the fun, flirty shape of this dress. It isn’t too serious, if you know what I mean. Lots of party dresses are a bit too fussy for me, but this one is simple enough to let me be free to party!

I’ll say one thing though. That yellow cat better not think he can lay on it. Those claws would absolutely destroy it.

img_2214Okay, I might be finished with swing dresses for a bit now :). My only concern with this dress is that I might have overdone it here a bit with the lace mash-up. I’ll probably wear it all the time anyway!

I’ve been eyeing my closet, and evaluating. I realize now that some of my makes from a couple of years ago aren’t getting worn enough to justify the space they take in my closet. Some of the fabrics are lovely though, so I might give refashioning a try, although I’ve very little experience doing this. Have you refashioned older makes to keep that fabric in your life? How have you gone about that?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

The Reveal: Day and Night Dress Challenge

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img_1209Hi 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.

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My Day Dress: 

img_1004I’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!

img_1027I 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

img_1196I’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.

img_1184I 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.img_1177 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.

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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.

THE DAY AND NIGHT DRESS CHALLENGE BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:

Sunday, Jan 8th: Elizabeth of Elizabeth Made This, Brittany of Brittany J Jones

Monday, Jan 9th:  Maria of How Good is That?,  Tonya of Sew So Petite

Tuesday, Jan 10th: Je’Tua of Robertswife, Meg of Cookin’ and Craftin’, Melanie of Its Melanie Darling

Wednesday, Jan 11th:  Linda of Elle Gee Makes, Tee of Maggie Elaine

Thursday, Jan 12th: Bianca of Thanks I Made Them, Daniela of On the Cutting Floor

Friday, Jan 13th:  Melissa of Mahlicadesigns, Rachel of Sew Redy, Renata of Runnningnstyle, Sonja of Sewing ala Carte

Saturday, Jan 14th: Doja of Elewa blog, Judith of Judith Dee’s World, Tanya of Mrs. Hughes

Check them out! If you decide to make a dress, I’d love to know so that I can feature your dress (s)  in a post here.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

2016: Top Five Hits

1Hi All! It’s almost time to ring in the new year, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to review my top five makes of 2016.

Looking back at my sewing projects always makes me a little nervous, because I can’t bear to face the facts. Sometimes the makes that are the most fun to finish or the most time consuming, are not the ones I love to wear (sigh). They hang in my closet, lonely and ignored. Huh. But without further analysis, here they are….my top five of 2016.

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  1. This little coat:  This topper makes it into the top five because I wore it more than any other make this year! It was so versatile, more than I expected. I wore it constantly. The sewing pattern is great too….Butterick 5927, a new favorite.

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2. The linen and lace dress – – Well, of course I love it. It’s blue, it has statement sleeves and lace trim. This dress made me a fan of clothes with simple lines. I love to wear it.img_8499

3. This coat: OMG, it’s so warm! The stretch wool…the quilted collar…love. To make things even better, when I step into Anthropologie wearing it, the girls that work there swoon, the ultimate compliment. It was supposed to inspire me to rake leaves, but that didn’t happen.

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4. This blouse: Well, because it’s blue. Need I say more?

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5. This poncho: Okay, it had to make the list because wearing it makes me so happy. Yes, fringing it was a nightmare, but the end result made this poncho such a wardrobe stand- out. I have a ‘boho’ moment every time I put it on, something I sorely need.

Honorable mentions:

I was obsessed with denim this year too, so I just have to mention these ‘makes ‘. I didn’t wear them quite as much as I expected though (not sure why?), so I won’t give them ‘top five’ status.

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1. This button up denim skirt: What fun this was to make! The top stitching, the ‘jeans’ buttons up the front…my favorite things.

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2. This denim shirt dress: I love a good shirt dress, and I felt so great when I finished this one! I also learned about snaps. They look great, and you also get to pound them in…If you haven’t tried it, do!

There were a few misses in 2016, but who wants to talk about those? Overall, I had alot of fun at my sewing machine, which is the true test of success for me. I even made my first pair of jeans.

But the best part of 2016 was meeting all of you. I love our community and our conversations. You and your makes are a constant source of inspiration and joy for me. I want to thank you for visiting here and for being a part of my life.

Here’s to an even better 2017! And thanks to Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow for encouraging us to celebrate a fabulous year with our Top Five Makes.

Happy New Year, and thanks for stopping by!

McCall’s 7430- A sweater dress

 

img_9604As you all know, I am a big fan of sweater knits, so much so I tend to stash/horde every one I find. Yes, I have quite a few squirreled away in my sewing nook, so (fair warning here) this is only the beginning of my annual sweater knit obsession.

Here is why I love them so, so much.  Most sweater knits are easy to sew (even without a fancy serger, just use a zigzag stitch) and wonderful to wear. I’m talking about those moderate stretch wonders with just the right amount of lycra with a dense, cozy weave. This houndstooth sweater knit is a perfect example of why I’m obsessed. It’s the perfect mix of stretch and cozy…destined to become a fall/winter wardrobe staple.

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McCall’s 7430 is the perfect sweater dress.

I love the side panels, the neckline variations, and the front and back yoke. I also love the sleeve caps. You could really have fun with contrast and color blocking here. There’s so much you can do with this pattern to make it your own.

The only modifications I made to the dress were to add front patch pockets, each 6 inches by five inches (gotta keep those pinkies warm!). I added contrast sleeve bands to finish the cuffs as well, but this is so optional. You could easily hem them with your machine as the pattern suggests.

One note about fit. The side panels eliminate the usual side seams so it’s a bit harder to use them to modify fit. Yes, I’m a big fan of taking a dress in at the sides, and I hate making muslins on a knit pattern.  It’s not impossible to adjust this pattern that way. It’s just a bit more time consuming, and if you adjust those panels too much, you run the risk of changing the look of your lovely dress. So, I’m glad the sizing is pretty true on this pattern because I didn’t need to make any adjustments at all. Phew!

img_9581I guess my obsession with sweater knits isn’t likely to end in the near future :). I’ll probably make another dress from this pattern, out of a solid knit with a contrast, since it’s so comfy and versatile. I think it’s one of those patterns you can dress up or down, maybe even make as a tunic length to wear over leggings. Love these inspiring versions from Vince Camuto…

 

Hmmmm, so mamy options, so little time to sew! Curious if you all are as obsessed with sweater knits as I am? Pretty sure there’s a color blocked version of this dress in my very near future!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A wrap jumper or a pinafore?

 

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When I think Fall, I think, it’s ‘jumper’ weather! To me, a jumper is a sleeveless dress that’s meant to be worn over a shirt or blouse. But to my UK friends, ‘jumper’ means a sweater. Maybe, it’s less confusing to call my new make ‘a wrap dress that I am wearing over a shirt’.

This dress is one of my favorite styles because it’s wrapped. To me ‘wrap’ means comfortable, but what I really love about the style is that it’s so flattering. A wrap dress is considered to be perfect for any figure type because it defines your waist (especially nice for those of us who don’t have a waist). Wrap styles are perfect at any age, and you can wear them dressed up or dressed down.

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My sleeveless wrap dress is McCall’s 6884.

The bodice of my ‘jumper’ is view B (without the gathered front), and the sleeves are view D. I eliminated the tie and made a mock closer with three buttons, arranged assymetrically across the wrap.The fabric is black ponte knit that has moderate stretch from my stash.

Under my jumper, I’m wearing a new button-down shirt, Butterick 5526.

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This pattern in a new favorite. I made View D, but used the sleeve tabs from View A for the days when long sleeves are just too much. I chose View D because it has princess seams which makes the fit perfectly tapered. This makes the shirt easy to wear either loose, or tucked in.The fit of this pattern seems a bit snug to me through the waist, so I cut a size up from my usual.

As fitted shirts go, this pattern is pretty straightforward, and the instructions are great. But, it did take a bit of time to complete. From cut to finish, this project clocked in at four and half hours. (BTW, I finished the seams with my serger rather than constructing french seams. If you’re going to do that, add another hour (LOL).

Princess seams are my FAVORITE. Who can resist that tapered shape? The fabric I used is 100% cotton that I found in the quilting department of Joann’s. Honestly, there are bargains to be had there! I paid $5.99 a yard for this perfect pring. The colors go with everything in my closet.

A friend who is very ‘fashion forward’ wears her wrap jumper open as a long vest. Yes, I love to throw long vests over everything, so thought I’d give it a try, but I’m not sure….

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Hmmm, probably not….? 

Here’s to Fall fashion; to jumpers and skirt and coats…all my favorite things to sew! What would you call this make; a jumper, a pinafore, or a sleeveless dress?  Would you ever wear it open as a vest?

Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

A cold shoulder top, dress or tunic

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I cannot get enough of the cold shoulder look. As with most trends, when I finally get on board, I don’t let go!  This is my second cold shoulder project (first one here) and I can tell you, it will not be my last. Here’s the reason I love the cold shoulder look. Showing a bit of skin at the shoulder gives even a loose, summery top or dress a bit of a sexy vibe.

What’s even better about this top, is that it’s so versatile! By hemming it a bit on the long side, I can wear it either as a top or a dress! Here it is loose and unbelted for a hot day.

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Here it is over jeans, perfect for a day that’s a bit on the cool side.

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I think this pattern plays to the advantage of a cut-out shoulder. Even though the cut of the top is unfitted, the shoulder gives it a bit of interest, and makes it look more shapely than it is. You can belt it, or not, as the mood strikes.

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The pattern is Butterick 5889, an easy top, tunic and belt.

It’s a bit oversized with a slit opening at the sleeves that could not be easier to construct. The sleeve hems and the sleeve splits are just finished with a narrow hem. So fast! The cold shoulder look is created when you tack the sleeve split together at the top and bottom.

The shape of this top is rather loose and boxy, so I choose a very lightweight cotton with great drape (Mill End Store) so that it wouldn’t overwhelm my small frame. The hardest thing about this top, was getting the pattern perfectly lined up on center front, so you know this top is easy!!

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I can imagine wearing this top/dress both ways, belted or loose (although the unbelted version might be a bit of a man-repellant, if you’re worried about that sort of thing, LOL).

From cut-out to finish, this top took only a couple of hours to create. It might have taken less if I wasn’t watching High Society (Grace Kelly could not be more gorgeous. And the clothes!)

This top is such a fast, fun make, I might try it again out of a rayon challis. View B also has pockets and a front placket, so I might give that a go at some point. If you decided to try it, I recommend sticking with a drapey fabric, as it does have a very generous cut. The pattern came out in 2013, but it’s still easy to find and on-trend now.

What do you think?  Do you prefer it as a top, a tunic or a dress?Isn’t it nice to have some easy projects during summer? There’s so much to do outside, away from one’s sewing machine.

Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

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.