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!

 

DIY: Philip Lim Inspired Top

 

img_2016Hi all! The inspiration for this stash-busting top was a Philip Lim creation I saw at the San Francisco Saks a couple of weeks ago. It’s so fun to wander around in that amazing store, a real treat for me since we don’t have a Saks here anymore (wah!). But when I saw this top it was instant ‘love’. The bold plaid, the color blocked side panels, the contrast trim and stitching, I wanted it all. But alas, the price tag….

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So, I set about making my own version. The good news? I used left over remnants from my recent Day Dress, and another plaid from a top I made years ago. So no new money was spent in the making of this top.

img_2040The pattern I used for this make is a tried and true: Vogue 9054.

It’s out-of-print but still available on their website and on Etsy. The design detail that makes this pattern the perfect choice for my Philip Lim top is that it has a front panel. So, that’s where I placed my cotton plaid. I used a contrasting off white knit for the side panels. Even though this pattern is designed for knits, my inspiration top combined knits and wovens, so I went out on a limb and did the same thing. I think the loose design of this top made that combination less risky than it otherwise would have been. The fit really didn’t change. I also added a contrast band to the collar and cuffs.

img_2020A detail I love on the inspiration top was the stitching on the front and back panel seams. To get that look, I top stitched those seams with a decorative stitch. I wanted to use the flat lock stitch on my serger, but alas, it just wouldn’t behave. My substitute stitch isn’t quite as stunning, but I still like it.

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I especially like the way Vogue designed the hemline of this top. There’s a bit of a high-low thing going on there that’s fun.

img_2002Well, I think my top will work as a reasonable substitute for the Philip Lim top, and wearing my DIY  version will save me from spending hundreds of dollars I don’t have. I rarely think that sewing saves money, but when it comes to designer fashions, it has a very strong edge. Thanks to Philip for the inspiration! The colors of this top make it a seasonal transition item, I think, and I feel almost Springy as we persevere through another ice storm with freezing rain. Ugh!

I’m glad I used some fabric from my stash here, because my goal this year is to reduce the size of  my stash (yes, I used bold font so I won’t forget, LOL). Lately, I’ve been feeling like I have to ‘sew to my stash’, if you know what I mean. I often buy fabric with a project in mind, but by the time I get to it, my enthusiasm for it has waned or the inspiration is gone. That means my stash is huge, and it means my sewing is often motivated by the guilt that comes with excess. It overwhelms and confuses my creative urges (yes, I’m a junkie). So, my goal is to sew some of it ASAP and give some to friends or charity so that it doesn’t weigh me down. What do you think, fellow fabric junkies? Will this strategy work? 

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!

DIY Cropped Pants and an Easy Top

img_7842Hi All! What are these? Cropped pants? Wide shorts? Culottes? Tell me, please. Whatever they are, they’re strangely reminscent of a poppy skirt I bought in junior high. Yes, it has been that long since I had anything in my wardrobe that was poppy! Can’t tell you why I’ve waited this long because the color is so fabulous. In fact, when you think of all the colors you can wear with it (black, navy, white, denim, maybe even army green?), you could almost call it a neutral.

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I’ve wanted a pair of wide shorts/cropped pants since I saw Mimi G rocking them on her website. Yes, I could have purchased one of her excellent patterns to make these, but I felt sure a shorts pattern I had in my stash would work just fine. But after I made them, I realized didn’t have quite the right top to go with them. You know how it goes. One thing leads to another….

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The cropped pants are a long version of Vogue 9008, a shorts pattern that is so versatile. You can make a flat front or pleated front version. I chose the pleats, but then I sewed them down to give the front a smooth finish. To get the full leg look I wanted, I lengthened the shorts by six inches, keeping the line of the shorts wide at the bottom. I love the effect. The shorts are snug at the top, but they flare out like a skirt at the bottom.

The pattern is pretty straightforward. It has a mock fly zipper, which is easy to insert, and you can add pockets if you want. The instructions were clear. It wasn’t hard, but with belt loops and a back yoke (which I love) this pattern is a bit time consuming.

I made them from poppy linen, purchased at Fabric Depot. It is midweight and I planned on lining the shorts with silk, but ended up taking the lining out because it made the legs too full and bunchy.  Yes, I wanted them to be full, but I did not want them to look like clown pants.

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The top is made from a cotton-linen blend that’s the color of denim. I love this fabric and wish I could remember where I got it because I’d love to have more. The pattern is Vogue, 8906.

It has front pleats that form the shape of the bodice, eliminating the need for darts. There’s a zipper in back. To make the sleeves a little more boxy, I added a sleeve band that is 5″ wide. It makes the sleeves look more ‘finished’ to me, and adds a bit of a retro vibe, I think. I also added a v-neck, and adjusted the facings accordingly. This pattern is super easy! I plan on making several more versions including one with buttons down the front. The fit was spot on for me. I didn’t even have to adjust for my narrow shoulders. Nice!

img_7846I’m not sure if Poppy is a fall color, but I’m going to be wearing this outfit now, because linen is so perfect at this time of year. I’m not sure if I’ll really wear this top with the shorts though. Together they might be too much flare for me. Maybe I should wear them with a top that fits snuggly, or maybe something tucked in? Opinions welcome!

I hope your sewing projects are going well. Fall is my favorite time to sew, because the new fabrics are so fabulous. Enjoy!

Vogue 8346: A coat just in time for Spring

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It’s sunny and warm in Portland today. Yet, I’m posting about a heavy winter coat! Yes, timing is everything, and mine isn’t impeccable, but here goes. I started this coat before Christmas, and just finished it because I worked on it in sporadically. So, here I am, wearing a wool coat when it’s sixty degrees outside. Of course, the weather here is a fickle friend, so it might be ‘bundle up’ weather tomorrow (is it evil to wish it would get cold again?). In any event, after all this work, this coat will be worn, no matter how hot it makes me!IMG_7948 (1)

This wool was purchased last year, and I loved it so much (and spent so much on it, LOL) I dithered a bit (actually a lot) before getting the nerve to cut it. I got all angsty over the choice of pattern, how to line it, whether I really needed to underline..(blah, blah, blah). Basically I was procrastinating. I do this whenever I contemplate a big project. Honestly, I drive myself crazy. Anyway, the weave of this wool was so beautiful, I couldn’t resist buying it from the Mill End Store when wool was on sale. I felt a little guilty as I splurged so I scrimped a bit on yardage, and wouldn’t you know? Now I wish I’d bought more. Once I started sewing it, I knew just how special it was. The weight, the weave, even the smell of this wool is heavenly (yes, I am weird). A long coat from it would have been so nice. Do overs, please?

The pattern I used for this coat is Vogue 8346, a classic style, with a bit of a flare.

Because my height almost qualifies me for petite status (only 5′ 4″ on a good day), I avoid styles with a lot of volume. Still, I loved the style of this coat but worried I’d look as though I was drowning in fabric.

So, I made a test coat from corduroy. This was a good move, as I realized after sewing only a few seams that the amount of flare on the design was too much for me. So I ripped it apart, recut the bodice pieces, tapering the flare a bit more, then tried again. That did the trick. Here’s my modified flare:

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I learned a valuable lesson from this process. The corduroy test version of my coat was great, but when I started working with the wool, I realized the drape of the two fabrics was very different. The thick wool made that little bit of flare seem quite exaggerated compared to the corduroy. So, I had to modify a bit more. All in all though, making the test coat was worth doing, as I learned a lot about the fit of the coat. The shoulders were in the right place and not too narrow, (no adjustment needed, yay), the waist was too long for me (raised it a half inch), and the sleeves were too full for me. Nothing too traumatic, but good to know.

The details: I underlined each piece to give the coat’s structure the support it needed to look crisp. This is not hard, but is time consuming, but well worth the effort. (For tips on underlining, take a look at House of Pinhero’s Peacoat Sew Along. In fact, just have fun looking around at all of her posts!) I used a polka dot silk for the lining, which feels like a dream. I highly recommend finding something luscious for the lining…you deserve it after working so hard on a coat, am I right?

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I added very thin shoulder pads to support the sleeve cap and an extra row of buttons because I love the ‘military’ look they add.

And, that’s about it!

IMG_7892The truth is, sewing a coat isn’t that hard, so who knows why I dithered around so much about this one? The challenge was the fit, I guess. Also, a coat with lining and underlining is a serious commitment of time and energy. But why not just jump in? Next time, I will. Sewing a coat is time well spent. I know I’ll wear this one again and again.

Do you dither around before starting a coat like I do? And what have you experienced when making a toile, (test garment) out of a fabric with a different drape? Thumbs up or down?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Thursday Top: Vogue 8815

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Well, here we are in February, the month that straddles the seasons.  The fabric stores are flaunting new lightweight cottons and linens. Yet, I’m still working through my stash of sweater knits.

At this point, it’s probably ridiculous to state the obvious – I am a fan of sweater knits. As I’ve confessed before, it’s not just because they’re cozy and comfortable. It’s because I can’t knit. Really. My brain gets ahead of my fingers and, well, chaos ensues. Sweater knits are the easy way out.

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And they are so comfortable! However, as you can see in the photo above, I’m discovering yet another cat hair on me. Knits do seem to attract fur of any sort, but doesn’t everything? Still, this particular sweater knit is wonderful, a thick cotton/lycra blend that’s textured and double faced. The result is a lush, thick fabric with a moderate amount of give that is so great to wear.

IMG_7739 I took a close up of the fabric so that you could see the texture. The pattern I used for this Thursday top is one of my TNT (tried and true) patterns, Vogue 8815.

I made it before Here. The pattern is designed for wovens, but when I found this knit, I could see it only one way – – as this top. Generally, when I decide to use a knit instead of a woven, I take the pattern down a full size. But I’ve discovered that each knit is so different, it’s hard to predict how they will behave.

This time, I tried a new method to allow for the stretch in the knit. I adjusted the seam allowances from 5/8″ to 6/8″. Because the stretch on this knit was so moderate, I didn’t want to cut out a smaller size, only to discover the knit wasn’t stretchy enough to warrant that large of an adjustment.

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In the end, I was glad I made the adjustment this way. The knit didn’t stretch enough across the shoulders to warrant any adjustment at all. Because I basted in the seams, it was easy to just let the back seam out where I needed to. Yahoo! So glad I didn’t screw up this great fabric 🙂

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Because the knit had moderate stretch, I used my Bernina’s overlock stitch rather than serging the seams. Here are my pattern modifications:

  • Because I used a knit, I didn’t insert a zipper. The neck slips over my head easily.
  • I added a solid band of knit at the neck (very stretchy so that it wouldn’t bind) in contrasting black.
  • I also added a solid black band of knit at the waist. To do this, I shortened the front and back bodice by two inches. Then I cut 2, two inch wide bands of solid knit fabric the same width as the bodice pieces.  I sewed the solid knit pieces to the shortened bodice pieces before sewing on the back and front peplum pieces.

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Done! One winter project down, and a few more to go. I’m getting antsy for Spring, though. I’ve been longing to work with linen again. I think my first spring project will be a shirt dress of some sort. Have you started sewing for Spring, or are you still working through winter projects?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Vogue 8831: A sweater knit top with zippers

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Since I don’t knit, I’ve become a huge fan of sweater knits. With only a few yards of the cozy stuff, you can cut and sew almost any style sweater you want. Here, in rainy Oregon, a person can NEVER have too many sweaters.

For this top, I used two coordinating sweater knits from my fabric stash (yay); a striped textured knit for the bodice, and a solid sweater knit for the arms and cowl. For fun, I also added a couple of pockets to the bodice, sewn from a untextured knit of solid black.

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I used the same fabric to add sleeve bands, and, because I’d fallen in love with a RTW top with zipper detail at the hem (it didn’t fit, rats), I added two seven inch zippers to the princess seams at the hem.

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The pattern I used is Vogue 8831,  a top with princess seams and a cowl neck. I’ve made it before here, and will likely do so again as I love the cowl neck and the princess seams in the bodice.

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Because this sweater knit was so loosely woven, I added stabilizer to the seams before stitching in the zippers. This gave the fabric enough body to support the weight of the zipper and also helped protect the seam from unraveling. I also finished all the seams with an overlock stitch. I love sweater knit, but when it’s loosely woven, it can be a bit….touchy.   I was really glad I chose a pattern that I knew well, because the stitches seemed to just disappear into the fabric. If I’d had to unpick any of those seams, it would have been a night mare!

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I learned a bit more about sweater knits as I worked on this project. The things I want to remember for my next project include:

  1. Always use the right needle. On this project, a jersey needle worked best.
  2. Finish the raw edges to keep the weave together.
  3. Stabilize seams and hems (especially if they have to carry the weight of a zipper ).
  4. Try not to pull the knit as you sew. It does stretch and can lose its shape (My hem isn’t as perfect as I’d like because I stretched it out when I put the zippers in.)
  5. Keep your cat out of the sewing room especially if he’s orange and his name is Dustin.IMG_7077

Putting in the zippers required a bit of thought and added some extra steps, but I’m glad I did. I like the look of the zippers and they make the top a bit unusual. To change up the look, I can wear it with the zippers open or closed. And if I eat too much, hey, all I have to do to get a bit of room is to unzip. Ha! Too bad I didn’t have this top to wear over the holidays!

I still have quite a bit of winter sewing to do, but the linens and cottons in my stash are calling me. Pretty soon, I’ll just have to give in and shift my focus. My spring plans are to make a couple of light weight dresses and tops that will travel well. And pants! I have to find a pants pattern that I love. Recommendations are appreciated!

I’d love to hear about your sweater knit experiences and if you’ve found any secrets to success. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by…

 

 

Linen and velvet all wrapped up!

Yes, it’s a busy time of year, far too busy to take on a sewing project, right?  Of course, but if you’re like me, inspiration often strikes when you have the least time to do anything about it!

Here’s my story: I was cleaning out my messy fabric bins, making room for the purchases I’m destined to make in 2016, when I found a treasure…a bit of  crinkled velvet in winter white that I’d completely forgotten existed. Suddenly, I absolutely had to have a winter white top, NOW.

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To keep the project’s fun quotient up and the frustration element low, I chose a tried and true pattern, Vogue 8815. For fun, I mixed things up a bit by combining a few of my favorite things; velvet for the bodice, linen for the skirt, and dotted mesh lace for the sleeves. There isn’t much to say about the construction of this top. (I reviewed it before here). I’m pleased with how it turned out, but it is a bit light- weight to wear in the winter.

Still, I was determined, so….enter a new idea… a quick wrap to keep me warm.

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Perhaps you’ve seen a wrap like this before at one of your favorite RTW retailers. It’s called a five-way wrap, and I tried one on at Nordstrom’s awhile back. It’s really a clever concept. You take a big circle of fabric and, by placing the armholes strategically, the wrap becomes amazingly versatile.

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It looked cozy and easy, so I decided to make my own. The fabric is plaid (love!) wool from Fabric Depot. I used a pattern from Indygo Junction, and the layout they show you is quite clever. You fold the fabric into quarters then lay your pattern piece on top of the four layers of fabric before cutting. When you unfold the cut fabric, your circle is symmetrical and perfect. Then, you cut the armholes, and voila! You have a wrap that you can wear several different ways.

Here it is, pinned at the neck….

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By putting it on with the armholes low, you have a short, cape-like version. Cozy!

You can belt it.

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Or wear it open, a long on-trend vest!

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I like the long vest look the best, but the coziest way to wear it may be the short  cape-like version. So warm and fun!

Truthfully though, I like the concept better than my finish version. While I was trying to take photos, I became frustrated with the way the folds in the front have to be constantly rearranged. I think this is a function of my fabric choice, not the pattern. Because I chose to use a  wool blend, the wrap is a bit stiff. Also, I bound the wrap’s edges to keep it from unraveling,  but I think this made the front from cascading in nice easy folds. If you choose a softer fabric, or serge the edges rather than bind them, it will hang nicely. Even though it isn’t perfect, still, I’m sure this wrap will come in handy, especially with my linen top.  (Now that I see how easy this wrap is, I wish I’d made a five way wrap for each of my girlfriends, but alas, it’s too late now…isn’t it?)

Are you finding time to sew during the holiday rush? Do you pick easy projects or do challenges appeal when you’re busy? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Spring means Tees!

The temperature hit seventy degrees today in Portland, tee-shirt weather!  It’s time to store my winter wools in favor of cotton, linen, maybe even silk. Perhaps this wardrobe shift is a bit premature (we’ve had snow in April before), but I’m determined to embrace the change.
When the rain stops, I’m always in the mood to shop. During a recent visit to Anthropologie, I noticed that their spring line included a nice assortment of simple but stylish tees. Most had an artistic look, with less structure in the design. Many were made with a mixture of textures and patterns. Since the size of my fabric stash overwhelms me, I fought the urge to make a sizable purchase, choosing instead to approach my sewing time with a new sense of purpose.
I decided to make a new wardrobe of tees – – so many, I’d be comfortable no matter what the Spring weather holds!
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Here’s the first one. The pattern I chose was Vogue 9054, a loose fitting tee that comes in more than one length. Since cropped is also on trend, I decided to make the shorter version, rather than the tunic length. I used a couple of coordinated cotton jerseys that were in my stash, purchased at Fabric Depot last spring. Both were shades of blue, a theme that matched the color story of Spring; deep indigo, navy and denim blue. The print was designed by Anna Maria Horner, the Mary Thistle knit in blue.
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Vogue 9054 was a delight to sew! It came together in about two hours, including cutting time. Usually, because of my narrow back, I have to make lots of adjustments, but this pattern fit as cut. Not only that, but every seam came together perfectly, and the sleeves slipped in without a struggle. Well done, Vogue! This is one well designed pattern.
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I love the end result – simple yet as stylish as many of the high end ready to wear garments . I plan to make this again in several coordinated cotton jerseys for a color blocked look. I might also try a patterned knit. Vogue 9054 is destined for ‘favorite’ status!