Checks, please!

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Is there any print that’s more all-American than gingham? It’s been associated with farms and corn fields ever since Dorothy wore her gingham pinafore in the Wizard of Oz.

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But gingham’s image and appeal doesn’t stop there. It’s even been favored by iconic fashion figures from the past. Brigitte Bardot had a wedding dress made from gingham.

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Jane Fonda wore gingham in Cat Ballou.

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Even Audrey Hepburn wore gingham a time or two.

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So, when we wear gingham these days, we’re in good company!

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This Spring, gingham staged a  comeback, making it into the collections of famous designers. Altuzarra had a simple gingham shirt dress with classic lines here.

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Bottega Veneta had a gauzy interpretation with this stunning dress.

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And now, gingham has made it into my wardrobe. This easy top features black and white checks of varying sizes.

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The pattern: Simplicity 1377 is an easy to sew top with drop shoulders and a simple crew neck.

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Modifications: I made view C but modified the split v- neck to be a true V-neck, by omaking the V wider. In order to have the big checks on the back show to the front at the shoulder, I added an inch to the back shoulder seam, and subtracted an inch from the front shoulder seam. For interest, I added twill tape to the shoulder seams, the sleeves and the neckline.

Fabric: the two gingham checks are cotton shirting, purchased at Fabric Depot. I was inspired to use gingham by the wonderful garments being posted on the Monthly Stitch for the Check it Out Challenge. If you haven’t visited that site, take a look. It’s such a great community of seamstresses.

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This top was easy and fun to sew, and since I chose a pattern with a one piece bodice, I didn’t have to struggle to match the plaids! It’s summer after all, my favorite time to sew things that are easy and fast. What about you? Does the sun give you the energy to sew more complex projects? Or do you opt for simple patterns, like me?

Happy sewing! Thanks for stopping by…

Vogue 8894 – Stripes, Blue and Linen

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When I first saw this fabric, it seemed made for me.  It has most everything I love; two shades of BLUE, stripes and… it’s linen! Can you blame me for snatching it up? I was ecstatic, yet, once I got it home, it languished in my stash. I couldn’t decide what to do with it. Fabric love can be so paralyzing! I overthink, worrying that the style won’t do it justice, or that it will never look as good as it does on the shelf.
But our recent heat wave pushed me to act. I did not have a thing to wear (honest!!). Everything in my closet felt heavy and hot. This made my lovely fabric’s future quite clear. It would become an easy-to-wear, cool summer dress, a frock that could handle even a 100 degree day.
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The pattern I used was one I’d had in my archives, a basic Vogue I bought during a sale, then never used. To be honest, there are many (!!)  similar patterns in my archives, ‘honest mistakes’ purchased during some crazy-good 5 for $7 sale. I’m a sucker for those sales. No matter what, I can’t buy just three patterns. I have to buy five, because, well, it’s a good deal! Needless to say, that mindset results in a pattern stash that is unwieldy and huge. Some of those lovelies will never be opened, or cut. What to do, what to do? Does one vow to use all of them so that not one pattern will be wasted? Or is it better to admit defeat and send some of them to pattern heaven?
I digress, though.
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Pattern: I chose Vogue 8894 from my archives, A v-neck dress with a close fitting bodice, a raised waist, hemline variations and sleeves, and a back zipper. It was easy to put together, and the instructions were clear. I made my usual adjustments for narrow shoulders, and the fit was spot on.
Fabric: Linen from Fabric Depot.
Design Modifications: The pattern is designed with 3/4 length sleeves. This just didn’t feel right for summer. So I cut them off, and added a 4″ sleeve band. To make a long story short (Ha!), I  cut four (4) four inch wide pieces that were the width of the shortened sleeve. I sewed them together (right sides together) then turned the band right side out. The finished bands were then stitched to the sleeves.
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Contrast: The dress seemed too plain, probably because the pattern doesn’t have a lot of complicated design elements. So I added contrasting twill tape at the neckline, the shoulder seam and the sleeve band seams.
Hem: I opted for the straight skirt. Instead of a high low hem, I chose a straight hem.
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Lessons learned: Adding contrast was an after thought. I wore the dress once, then decided it needed a bit more pizzazz. Since the fabric was so great, I decided to go the extra mile and add contrasting twill, even though the dress was done. This was torture, since some of the seams had to be opened so that the end of the twill tape could be hidden in the seam. Since I’d  overlocked some to keep them from fraying, this was no easy task. In the future, if I get a bee in my bonnet to add trim/twill tape, I will decide that before (!!) I finish the darn thing.

That being said, I like the dress much better now, so I will probably wear it more, making the extra effort worth it. And the pattern is probably a keeper, an easy to fit, wearable dress.  I’m glad I found it in my archives.
I’d be interested to know what your strategy is regarding patterns. If you haven’t used them after awhile, do you send them on their way, or do you hold on to your patterns forever? If so, how do you organize/store them? Have a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by!!

I’m having a blue moment…

Blue! Everything in my wardrobe is blue. Black used to be my go-to color, a drab, but safe option. But now, everything’s coming up blue.

Why am I obsessed with ‘blue’ this Spring? It could be because I’d like to see the gray of our Oregon sky replaced with a bit of blue!! Or maybe its because I need a trip to the tropics and a ‘hit’ of a warm ocean’s blue. Whatever the reason, I’m completely taken with any and all variations of blue this Spring; denim blue, sky blue, robin’s egg blue, sailor’s blue, powder blue, cobalt blue…need I continue? Perhaps, you’ve seen me. I’m the wild-eyed blonde that’s lurking in the the denim and chambray aisle of your favorite fabric store.
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I can’t tell you how many random pieces of blue fabric I’ve picked up over the last few months. My latest ‘hit’ of blue came when I spotted a gorgeous piece of linen at Fabric Depot. At first, my thoughts were reasoned. “You can’t have it,” I told myself. “Your stash is huge.” But my heart other ideas.
That’s when I remembered an important fact about linen. It breathes, which makes it the perfect choice for summer clothes! Since I’m planning a trip to the tip of Southern California in June, I’ll need tops that can handle cool coastal mornings as well as hot dry afternoons. That’s justification enough for me!
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The top I made with my lovely blue linen is Butterick 6097, a fitted shirt with a collar and peplum variations, princess seams and a front button band. I chose the pattern because it has some structure, which will make it a great companion for shorts, skirts, or jeans. Also, the has the style has a slight retro vibe, which I always, always love.
I made view B, a long sleeve version that I modified. My sleeves are closer to 3/4 and I skipped the cuff so that I could push the sleeves up if I got too warm. Also, that version had a pleated peplum, which was something I’d never tried before.
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Because the pattern is so fitted, I chose to go up a size in the waist (since I don’t really have one), then cut my usual size through the hips. I didn’t do a muslin (since I have zero patience), an approach that frequently has horrifying consequences. But this time, lucky for me, my adjustments worked! The pattern went together easily and it fit with just a bit of last minute seam adjustment at the sides.
The linen was a breeze to sew with, but it has absolutely no ‘give’, so I’m lucky my size adjustments worked!! I love any fabric that presses into a crisp, clean edge and this linen did not disappoint. However, as we all know, linen is notorious. Pressed today means wrinkles tomorrow, no matter what you do. But I love linen’s wrinkles – they’re classic and cool. The pleats were super easy to sew as long as you marked them well.
 I’ve worn the top once and it was really comfortable, even after eating a huge dessert, a ‘plus’ in my book. Now, if only my waist was as small as this woman’s…She’s a miniature version of a real woman, right?
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Do you like to sew with linen? What’s your favorite fabric to wear in summer?