Day/Night Dress Challenge Reveal

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

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

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

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

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

 

Two Cozy Knit Dresses for January

This Butterick pattern has shown up on alot of blogs since it was introduced in 2016 and I can see why. It’s fun to sew and to play around with! Since committing to the 2018 Ready-To-Wear Fast, I’ve also been committed to filling some significant holes in my wardrobe. Casual dresses to wear when it’s chilly and damp have topped the list.

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This sweater knit (fabricdepot.com) is perfect for this dress because it’s fairly dense and textured with a moderate crosswise stretch.

In contrast, this stretch terry is also cozy, but it behaves differently since it has less body and no texture, and a bit more stretch.IMG_7218

It’s always interesting to see how different knits can change the look and feel of a pattern! The side seams are an interesting detail of this design and I like how they show up with the contrasting fabric.

I was attracted to Butterick 6388 because of the cozy collar, the side seam detail and the in seam pockets.

 

It also has a shaped collar that overlaps and a back yoke. To give my striped version a bit of an athletic look, I added a contrasting sleeve band at the dropped shoulder seam before attaching the lower sleeve.

 

As far as sewing challenges, there were very few with this pattern. After comparing my measurements to the pattern, I concluded I needed a size small and the fit was pretty spot on. I did my usual narrow shoulder adjustment. The in seam pockets were easy to insert and I love how they’re given some definition with top stitching. There’s top stitching at the collar and back yoke too which makes the dress look polished. To insert the curvy back yoke, you do need to do a bit of stretching so making sure your fabric has some cross wise stretch. I also clipped the seams to make this easier. To make sure the collar isn’t floppy, a knit with some body and stability is important. This dress was really a fun, speedy make. I was able to cut and sew it in an afternoon, a plus if you ask me!

 

Both of these knits were so nice to work with! High quality knits are always worth the extra money in my opinion, because they’re easy to handle and wear.

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I’m not sure which version I like best, but when I wore the textured knit version out last weekend, my friends gave it a big  thumbs up. Which one is your favorite?

The athletic/leisure look is so popular right now, and this dress makes me feel like I’m following the trend, LOL! Obviously, I have a new favorite pattern here. Might have to make the shorter top version too. Do you have a favorite knit dress pattern? Please share!

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!

 

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!

 

Tucks, Pleats, and Sewing through grief

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Hi all! It’s been a rough week around here. Dustin, our little buddy for sixteen years succumbed to renal failure last week. If you’ve visited here before, you may remember him from several photos. He loved to be in the middle of everything, and blog photos were no exception.

 

Such a character, and he always had something to say. He loved jumping on my sewing table and rolling around on the pattern pieces, hilarious! He was such a presence in our lives. Needless to say, his loss has been really hard.

Grief is such a miserable state to be in.  You want to get on with it, but you just can’t. Simple problems become hard. It wasn’t a week for big thoughts or new inspiration. It was a week for repetitve tasks, simple things. I found some comfort in the task of sewing pleats.

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Pleats are mindless, a bit tedious sometimes, but very calming to me. You just mark, pin, press and sew. It didn’t bother me at all that this Cynthia Rowley dress/tunic has forty pleats. But catch me at another time, and I might feel different!

I do love Simplicity 8414. Cynthia Rowley’s designs for Simplicity are always winners.simplicity-dress-cynthia-rowley-miss-pattern-8414-envelope-front

I wanted to make the dress with the ruffle, but then ran out of fabric so I settled for tunic length, which worked out quite well since the Pattern Review tunic contest is just winding down!  I might just get my entry in on time. My fabric is striped cotton shirting (Fabric Depot), that turned out to be perfect for this pleated design. The stripes became reference points that helped me to sew the pleats precisely. And there are alot of them! They give the sleeves their bell shape and the front and back bodice some fit that makes this dress flattering.

 

This pattern is time consuming, but not too hard. The trick is to mark the pleats clearly so that you can sew them precisely.  BE forewarned though. The fit of the dress is very loose. I cut an extra small and the fit is still roomy.  But to me, that’s what tunics are all about, comfort! My only complaint about this make is that the fabric wrinkles easily. Every time I move, another crease is born. I’m not entirely opposed to wrinkles, really. It’s just that sometimes you want to look crisp.

This is a fun pattern and it reminds me how much I enjoy sewing designs with pleat detailing. I can remember how taken I was once with the designs of Albert Nippon. Here’s a Vogue pattern he designed in the 80’s. Lots of pleats!

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Sewing as therapy….Do you find detailed sewing comforts you too?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

Easy, breezy – – the Kalle Shirt Dress

I didn’t set out to become a fan girl of Closet Case Patterns, but that’s what seems to have happened!

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After making Closet Case’s Charlie Caftan twice (here and here) and loving it, I decided I had to give Heather’s other patterns a try. I chose the Kalle, although at first glance, it didn’t seem to be the pattern for me.  The pattern envelope drawing wasn’t that appealing to me to be honest.

Kalle_Shirt_Shirtdress_Pattern_Envelope_cover-01_c93b1b82-07e4-4b1c-985d-e5fc30ac905b_1280x1280Then there was the description of the shirt/dress as loose fitting… always bad news for a smallish person like me. But then, I saw a Kalle shirt on a sales person at one of my local fabric stores that was so, so cute, I had to have it.

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I do admire Heather’s design. The pattern is a great contemporary update of the traditional shirtdress. There’s so much to like about this pattern. The sleeves are cut as part of the bodice, which makes construction a breeze. You can make choices to modify the pattern to fit your mood; a hidden placket versus a regular placket? A band collar or standard collar? It’s all up to you.

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As luck would have it though, my concerns about the style were realistic. The fit is very loose and boxy, which meant that even the smallest size was a bit much for me. Here’s my first version. I thought I’d figured out how to make it work, when my husband said, ‘hey, great fabric, BUT isn’t that dress WAY TOO BIG?” (Gutsy guy, don’t you think?)

IMG_0629 2After snarling a bit, and explaining to him that ‘this is the way it’s supposed to look’, I took a snap shot of myself. Darn, if he wasn’t right!! It looked big, but not in that, ‘oh, i just picked up my boyfriend’s shirt from off the floor’ way. So, I went back to the drawing board, adjusted the side seams, and smiled about the whole thing.

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My fabric is Cotton and Steel from last season (Fabric Depot), and the cotton is really nice…not too stiff or heavy, but it isn’t as flowy as rayon or silk would be. I mention this because I believe my fabric choice contributed to the boxy look I experienced before my modifications. I think the Kalle would be great in a soft linen, or maybe a rayon or silk.

Besides taking in the side seams, I also modified the length of my Kalle. I didn’t think I would love the look of what seemed to be a exaggerated high-low hem. So I added 3 inches to the front. It is still pretty short on me, and I am 5’4″. Not sure what it would have looked like if I hadn’t lengthened it, LOL!

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With those modifications, this dress is now in the category of ‘love’. It will likely move quickly into my shirt dress hall of fame. It’s fun to wear, and fun to sew….there’s something so satisfying about sewing a shirt – the placket, the collar, even the button holes are so gratifying. It’s almost as good as the smell of a new book when you first open it, don’t you think?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

It’s going to be a Charlie Caftan Summer!

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If you’d asked me, ‘are Caftan’s your thing? I probably would have said, no. But I’m such a fan of this pattern by Closet Case Patterns. I was inspired to try it by Indie Pattern Month over at the Monthly Stitch. After making a muslin version, I decided it was the perfect pattern to hack for this week’s IPM challenge.

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This pattern has several options that provide ample opportunity for you to do your own thing. You can make a loose gathered caftan, either short or long, or a more fitted version without gathers. For my hack, I used Version A, the non-gathered version.il_fullxfull.1223032594_ih2b

I loved the shape of A so I decided to convert the Caftan look into a more fitted cocoon dress. I modified as follows:

  • I raised the inset opening by 1 1/2 because, as drafted, it was too close to the waist for the look I wanted.

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  • The Inset Insertion: From my muslin, I discovered I was not wild about how the front inset is assembled.  You’re supposed to insert the inset into a 1/4’ opening and make it smooth and neat. I practiced and practiced, but well, needless to say, that didn’t happen for me. So, rather than an inset, I merely slit the opening, made the pleats as instructed, then topstitched the inset over the slit. It’s easier and looks a bit smoother to me.

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  • The pleats add a cool shape to the dress so I stitched them down for a more sculpted look.
  • I added large patch pockets to the front with button down flaps. I added self-faced cuffs to the sleeves that can be rolled up and kept in place with button tabs.
  • I added a small raised collar to the back of the neck, to make the neckline look more like a shirt.
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I love my cocoon shaped shift dress. It’s so comfortable and cool, and I think the polka dots add a vintage vibe. My fabric is cotton lawn, but I could imagine this dress in linen, cotton double gauze or rayon.  It’s so versatile, I’m thinking I’ll try the gathered version, both short and long. What about you? Are you a fan of the Caftan look?

I’m loving Indie Pattern Month over at the Monthly Stitch! It’s so inspiring to see everyone’s favorite Indie patterns and how they interpret them. I’ve found some new patterns I want to try as a result, and found some new blog friends too.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

New to Me: a Colette Moneta

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

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

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

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Black and White Polka Dots…so french!

IMG_9046 2I’ve been obsessed with shirt dresses this Spring because as dresses go, they have so many advantages! For one thing, the front opening makes them ideal to let in air on a hot day.

IMG_8872 2Also, they’re so versatile. You can add a pair of leggings /pants under them for a completely different look.

 

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My latest shirt dress is made from a lightweight rayon that drapes beautifully. I fell hard for it…a black batik print with little white dots on it (Fabric Depot). The batik process makes the dots uneven in places which gives the look a bit of an edge. And what’s not to like about black and white polka dots? They’re so french!

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I used my new favorite shirt dress pattern for this make, McCall’s 7351, also made here. I’m a big fan of the design details of this pattern including the high low hem, the french darts and the forward shoulder seams. I made a few modifications to this version; 

  • I eliminated the collar and added a v-neck opening, then drafted a facing for the neck.
  • The sleeves are ruched with a three inch piece of elastic.
  • I made a long tie from the fabric that is long enough to wrap twice around my waist. I prefer to wear a single wrap tie belt most of the time with really long ends. But on a busy day, the long tie can get in the way. In that case, I can double wrap the belt which make the ends shorter.

 

I think I’ll wear this dress alot, as it’s easy to dress up or down. I know when the temperatures drop again, I can slip it over leggings too, even though I might get a few strange looks when I do. What about you? Are you a fan of shirt dresses over pants/leggings?

I’m back from my trip and what a fabulous trip it was!! I found beautiful fabric stores in Lisbon, Evora, Porto and Barcelona. If only I’d had a bigger suitcase (and budget, LOL). I purchased a few lovely fabrics, most of them in Barcelona; some japanese cotton,rayon challis, tencel, double sided gingham gauze, an embrodiered cotton, and a lovely plaid linen.

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Yes, I love to travel, but it is good to be back to my sewing machine. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A travel dress in Barcelona

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

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

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