Vogue 9311: Playing Dress-up

My every-day wardrobe consists of easy-to-wear layers. But once I year, I have the opportunity to really dress-up. The choir that I sing with, Oregon Repertory Singers has an annual fundraiser where formal attire is required. I always look forward to the opportunity to sew and wear something special.

In past years, I’ve sewn cocktail length dresses, but this year, I wanted something different, so I decided to go ‘long’. Honestly, in all my years of sewing, I’ve only sewn a couple of long dresses. What?? I know!! If it isn’t time now, when will it be?  

For the pattern, I chose Vogue 9311, a long dress with optional sleeves and ruffle. I love the v-neck line and think that it gives the dress a look of elegance. I made the long sleeve version, but shortened them to 3/4 length. Instead of cuffs, I used elastic to gather the base of the sleeves. I wanted to be able to push them up and away from my dinner:). 

The biggest challenge with this make was the fabric. I love the look of this burnout velvet, but it really was tough to work with. The shimmer comes from shiny gold fibres that are woven into the spaces between the sections of velvet ‘burnout’ and they tended to snag. Also, the fabric frayed like crazy so I finished all the edges with my serger before sewing the seams. I purchased microtex needles which really worked nicely! 

Even though the pattern doesn’t call for a lining, I chose to line the bodice and skirt with solid black silk. This really helped give the skirt more body and structure. The lining was easy to create and gave the entire dress a nice finished feel. It’s so lovely to wear! The ties are meant to be worn in the back, but they were so long, I was able to play around with the look, and decided I liked them better in front. 

I’m pretty pleased with my new frock and absolutely love this Vogue pattern. It’s been in my stash for awhile, and I’m so glad I finally decided to make it. I can imagine a version for Spring, maybe in linen. I really enjoyed wearing this dress last weekend. It felt so elegant. The good news is that I’ll have another chance to wear it when we sing with the Oregon Symphony in April.

This project really marks the end of winter sewing for me. I’m really ready to sew up some of my lovely woven fabrics for Spring and Summer. How about you?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A New Top to Add Some Drama

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Me-Made May is winding down, but not without a few more revelations that are worth mentioning. I used to wear solids and very few prints – – Not so anymore! My wardrobe is dominated by prints and textures. There isn’t anything bad about this, but I miss the drama that solids bring to the table. A well-cut top or dress with drape and style looks sophisticated and polished when there isn’t the distraction of a print.

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Ha – – Look at the volume in these sleeves! You have to admit – this top is dramatic, much more than I realized when I chose  McCall’s 7658.

There are many views and options with this pattern (Yay!), but I chose the long sleeve version because it’s still (always) on the chilly side in Oregon.  Because of the overlay, recommended fabrics for this pattern include chiffon, Georgette and sheers. I didn’t have any of those in my stash, but I did have a lightweight sheer knit so I gave that a try.

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This style looked complicated to me, but the construction steps weren’t hard at all. The long sleeve version has the sleeves built right into the overlay, so makes them a breeze to sew. The trickiest part of the make was the sleeve cuff. You’re supposed to insert elastic to give the cuff a gathered look. I chose to skip that part, since you’d never see those details on my fabric anyway, so I just inserted the cuff without the elastic. The finish of the overlay is simple – – you just turn under the edge and stitch.

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Voila! A half hour to cut this pattern, one and half hours to sew! Not a bad way to go…:)

The bat wing sleeves really give this overlay some style and drama. It’s pretty obvious though, that the wrong fabric choice would make this style look, well, pretty hideous, LOL. So, if you’re inclined to give this one a try, stick with lightweight fabrics with lots of movement and drape.

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I’m happy to say, there were no adjustments necessary on this pattern for me! I know some people aren’t fond of  sleeves with volume, but I think I love this look….it’s sort of cape-like and fun. I just might have to make it again for summer with the pleated overlay in a lightweight chiffon…but wait. I hate sewing with chiffon. Hmmm, what else would work? Any thoughts?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A Bomber Jacket Inspired by Philip Lim

 

IMG_6389I thought I was over bomber jackets until I saw this plaid version by Philip Lim.screenshot

When I found McCall’s 7636  by Beaute’ J’Adore, I knew it was the perfect match for my designer inspiration. There’s alot about this pattern that sets it apart from the bomber jacket patterns that are available.

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My favorite detail is the statement sleeves. As you can see from the line drawing, the shape is created by pleats that are gathered into a ribbed cuff. Then, to make the sleeves pop, there’s piping added before you insert the sleeve into the bodice. I think that really makes this jacket unique.

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The jacket is fully lined, a plus at this time of year! To make cozy and warm,  I used red checked flannel from Fabric Depot.

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Some tips about the fit of this jacket… It is cut very generously, so be prepared to adjust.

  • The sleeves are pretty long. I don’t usually need to shorten sleeves, but it was a must here and I’m glad I took the time to figure that out because the sleeves are quite poufy. If they were too long, they would be pretty annoying to wear.
  • Also, I took my usual narrow shoulder adjustment but increased it by 5/8″ and I think I could have even done more! My guess is that this broad shoulder look is what the designer is going for, but it’s a bit overdone if you have a small frame.
  • The jacket bodice is cut pretty long. I’m 5’4″ and I shortened it by a full inch.

Even with those adjustments though, I’m in love with this pattern. The sleeves look tricky to sew, but they really aren’t – -they are simple pleats that easily fit into the ribbed cuff. The instructions are thoughtful and there’s alot of attention to detail that makes sewing this jacket a breeze. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I might make another version this Spring from denim.

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Because this was a designer original inspired make, I’m going to tag it for Designin’ December, a fun competition created by Linda of Nice Dress, Thanks I Made It. Visit her website for more inspiration!  There’s alot to enjoy there!

December is a busy month and it’s hard to find a spare minute to sew, but I’m completing a couple of gifts and decorating projects that are using up my huge stash of remnants. I’ll be posting about those this week.

I love that this make has red as the dominant color. It makes this jacket feel, well… festive! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

A Top That Could Go to a Party

Last week, I had the pleasure of singing at a holiday event in the beautifully decorated Pittock mansion here in Portland. It put me in a holiday mood, so much so, one of my requirements of any sewing project this month is, ‘can it go to a party?’ I can happily answer ‘yes’ for this make. This top meets all of the requirements.

First, we have statement sleeves, always a conversation starter, if nothing else!

IMG_5617 2Second – – we have a stretchy knit! One can eat and drink as the mood strikes, without a second thought!

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Third, the top can be dressed up and worn with black pants or a lacy skirt.

I love this new pattern; McCall’s 7660.

It has lots of versions, but I chose the statement sleeve version for both makes. And, as luck would have it, the sleeves were the trickest part of this make. There is alot of fabric in the balloon on these sleeves. It must be gathered together at the bottom, then sewn into the cuff. So much fabric in the balloon and a very small cuff…need I say more? I had to unpick one of the sleeves to get it right (not fun when you’re working with knit).  I love the final result though. This task would be less challenging with a lighter weight knit, but I wanted a heavy, cozy knit, so it’s my own fault…

The top is designed to be loosefitting so the fit is easy.  It’s a pullover top too,  so a very stretchy knit is required to get that raised collar over your head.  Both of my fabrics are from Fabric Depot. The fit of this pattern was really spot on for me. I cut the smallest size and it fit perfectly, no adjustments in the shoulders or neck.

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IMG_5151I love both tops, and the fit and design of this pattern.  I think the striped version is probably my favorite, because I love the color and texture of the knit, but I do like the bigger bell on the white version…I think it looks dressier. Opinions welcome!

The Holiday season is off to a roaring start here, and I’m glad to have a couple of cute, comfy tops to wear to informal gatherings of friends. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

‘Tis the Season for Flannel

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Hi All! I’ve been traveling on the East Coast this week, where the below freezing temperatures have encouraged me to think about the benefits of a wardrobe dominated by flannel.  It’s certainly not a bad thing as there’s nothing more comfortable to wear! This plaid flannel has been hiding in my stash for a couple of years. I found it when I was putting away my lightweight warm weather fabrics in favor of heavier fall and winter options. I had exactly a yard and a half and it was only 45″ wide. What to do….

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Even though it’s flannel, the turquoise plaid made me think of a top with feminine details like bell sleeves so I went to my pattern stash to find a tried and true pattern, McCall’s 7542 (two other versions made here ). It has a number of sleeve options, none of them quite right for a cozy fall/winter top.

 

So, I went for View D, but decided I needed long sleeves. To do that, I lengthened the sleeve by 4″ before attaching the bell. To make the bell a bit more dramatic, I increased the width to ten inches.

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I do love this McCall’s pattern, but have never been wild about the boxy shape with my waistless figure. So, I cut the longer length option on the bodice, then widened it by four inches at the waist. That allowed me some room to insert two six-inch long pinch pleats on either side of the waist. I like this look because it pulls that boxy bodice in a bit, giving the illusion of a waist. To further accentuate it, I inserted a tie at the side seam right at the waist. I’m such a fan of adding in ties at the side seam…they never get lost!

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This was a fun, easy sew, because there isn’t a zipper or buttons. The simple neck opening is fastened with a hook and eye.

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I love my new flannel top, and know it will just get softer and cozier as I wash and wear it. Flannel is such a great fabric and it’s nice to find another other way to have it in my wardrobe besides the classic button down shirt. I have a few more pieces of plaid flannel in my stash and I’d love some ideas of what to do with them.What are you sewing with flannel these days?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Jersey and Fall: Two Variations

There’s nothing like Fall to get the sew-jo going, is there? At this time of year, fabric choices are at their best for me. The color palattes tend to be richer and more intense, which works best with my personal color palatte and there are more knits to choose from too.

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This jersey knit is great to wear, but the print is a bit out of my comfort zone.  For one thing, it has alot (!!) of circles all over it, which makes layout a bit tricky around the chest, if you get my drift. And it’s sort of…busy? But I loved the colors, so in a fit of inspiration, I drove back to Fabric Depot and took the plunge. I’m glad I did, because this print goes so well with the long cardigan I made last Spring (here). This cardigan is not a closet orphan, BTW. I wear it all the time.

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The dress above is simply a lengthened version of this tunic, made from jersey. IMG_3210

This cotton jersey is so fabulous to wear! And I love this Art Gallery print (Fabric Depot).

I’m such a fan of tunics because they’re so easy to throw on with jeans or leggings. When I finished this tunic, I decided I needed another version, pronto, so I lengthened the pattern by 8 inches and made a dress . The pattern is a new favorite: New Look 6435.

I wasn’t attracted to it at first because I don’t like the way it’s made up on the envelope – I’m not a big fan of the print on the bottom/solid color on the top. Somehow though, the pattern came home with me….

The fit was great without any adjustments, always a plus for me. New Look runs a bit big, so I always cut the smallest size. The shoulders fit me perfectly, even though I’m on the narrow side. It’s a fairly loose fit, so there’s a bit of wiggle room, making this an easy-to fit style for most figures. I modified the sleeves on both my dress and tunic by adding a bell cuff.

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Although I love the dramatic look of a big bell cuff, I chose a smaller version here so that the sleeves would fit easily under a cardigan. To add the cuffs, I just cut a seven inch swath of fabric, as wide as 1 1/2 X the width of the sleeve. I seamed it to make a circle, gathered one edge, then inserted it into the sleeves, right sides together.

This was a fast and fun sew and I love a pattern than can have two identities as both a top and a dress. I think this pattern is a winner!

I love how statement sleeves change up a style. But I worry that they’ll go out of fashion quickly and my closet will feel dated. Hmmmm, what do you think of sewing to a trend? Trouble, or true love? Future plans – – I’ve been loving all the denim on the runways this fall, so I’m going to attempt a Maisa jacket (Named clothing) and a Helmi shirt dress to wear with it. Stay tuned! What’s in your queue?

Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

 

An Anthro Knock-Off

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When I saw this top in the Anthropologie, I fell in love with the denim blue checks, the side tie at the hem. But when I tried it on, the neck was so big on me, it fell to my shoulders like a cold shoulder top. Not a good look! And the long sleeves covered my fingertips. But that side tie, the color…Well, this is why I sew and keep an extensive fabric stash. As luck would have it, I just happened to have the perfect fabric right at home! Stash justified!

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My version of Anthro’s shirt is a hack of Butterick 6456, a pattern I made before, here.

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I used view D, but modified the front bodice by elminating the pleat. Then, to get the side tie look, I added a drawstring to the hem. I folded up the hem by 5/8″ to make a casing for a skinny tie that I made from fabric. The length of the tie is 1/1/2 times the circumference of the hem. Once the tie was inserted in the casing, it added a slight gathering at the hem.

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The fabric is a special piece of linen that’s languished in my stash for a couple of years (+), purchased at the Pendleton Outlet store a few years back (a bargain at $3.oo a yard). I’ve  been saving it for the perfect project. It’s the sort of linen I’m mad about; crisp, but not rough, able to hold a press, but not stiff. To get the long look of the sleeves, I just added four inches to the length of the sleeve before adding the bell.

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I like my new top and think it’s worthy of my long cherished linen. An added bonus is that this top was a bargain compared with the Anthro version, as I spent only $3/yd on the fabric! I think this top came in at under $20. It’s a rare but cherished moment when sewing is cost effective, am I right?

Some of my photos were taken in my newly painted living room. My sewing machine has been ignored of late because we’ve been doing the painting ourselves. Yes, we could have hired pros to do it, but I’d rather spend money on fabric (!!).  Let me tell you, there was a collective sigh of relief at my house this week when this project was finished.

Next up on my fall wardrobe wish list is a denim jacket. I’ve always wanted to make one, and there’s no better time than now.  I’m perusing patterns….there’s the Maisa by Named and the Stacy Jacket by Style Arc to name a few. Any suggestions? Happy fall sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

A Ruffled Top Done 3 Ways

Sometimes when you first meet a pattern, you can see so many possibilities. That’s the way it was with me and this simple pattern. I made one view, then couldn’t resist immediately trying another and….well, another. Three versions of one pattern…overkill maybe, but why fight it?

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When you have alot of children, you aren’t supposed to pick favorites, but I refuse to believe that rule applies to sewn garments too. The above version is my favorite, and as usual, it’s all about the fabric. Linen knit might be the finest fabric to wear on this planet. It’s like wearing pajamas every day, and easy to sew with too. The seams need to be overlocked to prevent unraveling, but otherwise it’s a dream with a perfect drape for this top.

When I pulled that linen from my stash, I happened on this white linen gauze that I’ve been saving for too long, waiting for the perfect project…very lightweight, and well, flounce-appropriate. So, as the song says, one thing leads to another.IMG_2120

Of course, my timing wasn’t so great on this summer-perfect make. As I’m typing this post, rain is pounding the deck outside. For once, I’m glad to see it  as we have high hopes the rain will put out the fire that is destroying our spectacular Columbia River Gorge. (Fingers crossed!!) I do expect we’ll have a few more days of warm weather though because I need to take this linen version out for a test run.

Then, there was this lonely piece of rayon that I’d dithered about for months….

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Voila, a simple version was born, no flounce at the yoke, only on the sleeves. Three fun  and very wearable versions….Now, that’s what I call a great pattern!

I probably don’t need to tell you that this is an easy pattern since there are three versions in one blog post, LOL.  Simplicity 8454 may be easy, but it does have nice details, so it’s destined to be made a few more times before it’s time is done.

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I’m always looking for tops with sleeve variations that can take it from one season to the next and this pattern meets the need. It’s meant to be made from a woven fabric, but I just sized down to make it from my linen knit. The design element that attracted me to it was the yoke and flounce combo, but I like the simple version too, without the flounce at the yoke, and can imagine variations with lace at the yoke and sleeves. The flounce is very simply finished, and if you had a fabric that didn’t unravel, you could actually just skip the finish, and leave the edges raw…so easy!

I don’t think you’ve seen the last of this pattern on my blog. It’s just too fun to make! Have you ever made three versions of  a pattern one right after another? Do you love it or does it bore you? It’s a great way to get alot of sewing done because you have immediate feedback regarding fit on one version to try out on the next.

I find it so fascinating to see how just a change of fabric can make a pattern look so different! A slight change in drape and texture, and voila, a new look is born.

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!

 

New Look 6519: An easy travel dress

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I’m always on the look out for stylish dresses that are easy and comfortable to wear while traveling in hot weather. That’s why the simplicity of this New Look pattern caught my eye. The shape of the dress is accomplished with the addition of a simple belt.

This means the dress can be loose or fitted, depending on how tight you tie the belt so it’s perfect for hot weather. The other good news, is that there are very few complicated design details which makes sewing a breeze. Yet, there are some cool details on this dress too, like the back V.

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I often forget about New Look patterns, but I’m not sure why, because they never let me down! New Look 6519 was simple to construct – – I made it in a Saturday afternoon! Also, the top version is a stash buster…It only takes a yard and a half.

I used a soft cotton lawn for this dress (Fabric Depot) which makes it perfect for hot, muggy weather. The neck of the dress is finished with seam-binding, which is fast and easy to do. I did modify the pattern slightly, adding wide 6″ ruffles to the sleeves in a contrast fabric. I love the relaxed, easy look of a wide ruffle. To accomplish this, I just took a twelve-inch wide piece of fabric that was the length of the sleeve opening times 1.5. Then I folded it over, wrong sides together and gathered it, before inserting it into the sleeve opening.

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IMG_7330Not only is cotton lawn easy to wear, but it’s lightweight, so this dress won’t take up much space in my very small suitcase. I’m determined to take small a single small bag on this next trip, in spite of the fact that I’ll be gone for almost three weeks and I’m determined to succeed. My clothes (mostly me-mades) are cottons, rayons and linens which I hope will compress easily, and for this trip, I ordered a set of packing cubes, a concept that’s new to me. Have you ever tried them? Any tips?

It’s so odd to be sewing light weight summer clothes when the weather here in Oregon is on the cool side with plenty of rain! Fingers crossed that my next post will include outdoor photos…. Happy summer sewing, and thanks for stopping by!