Vogue 8952 and the Day and Night Dress Challenge

img_0890Hi all! It’s 20 degrees here in Portland, indoor photo weather of course, but also the perfect weather for sewing. There’s nothing like a cold day to drive you to your sewing room.

Sometimes, after the intensity of the holiday season, I find it challenging to re-focus my energies and to get my sew-jo going. But this year, The Day and Night Dress Challenge, hosted by Elizabeth Made This, has given my sewing a ‘jump-start’. The challenge is to sew two dresses; a day dress and a Little Black Dress for evening wear. There’s a blog tour, (I’ll be hosting here on Wednesday January 11), and a community challenge with prizes and cool sponsers.

This lace top is the first stage of my ‘night dress’ planning.

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My concept for my night dress is an a-line ‘swing’ dress of black velvet and lace, using this pattern as the base by lengthening it to dress length.

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Vogue 8952 is a fun easy sew, with ragan sleeves, my favorite. For this trial version, I used  white lacey knit from Joann’s. I think the shape will be fine for my dress, so I’ll lengthen the bodice by about eight inches before cutting my velvet, then I’ll use black lace for the sleeves and at the hem.

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My day dress will be more fitted, but casual, sewn out of cotton and ponte knit. img_0855I’m making McCalls 7464, using a large plaid for the body of the dress, accenting the sides and sleeves with solid knit.  Both dresses will be finished and posted on Wednesday (fingers crossed). I haven’t tried my ‘day dress’ pattern before, so I hope it will work! Nothing like living dangerously.

The Day and Night Dress Challenge is a great way to start the new year. The community challenge has prizes and cool sponsors too. Come join us! There’s a fun group of bloggers participating in the blog tour, so check them out. The fun starts on Saturday, January 8th and I’ll be posting Wednesday, January 11th, here. For more details on how you can participate, check out the Elizabeth’s fabulous blog, Elizabeth Made This. She’s the brains behind this fun event, and her makes are always a source of inspiration for me.

I hope your new year is off to a great start with lots of sewing time. Will you be making dresses with us this January? I’d love to hear your plans!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Dress or tunic? That is the question!

My latest sewing project is having a bit of an identity crisis. It’s a bit too short to be called a dress, but a bit too long to be called a top. In spite of this, I have to call it something to blog about it. So, I’m going to call it a dress. In fact, to be specific, it’s a Little White Dress (LWD), my second one, a trend in my sewing that’s bit surprising since white is definitely not my color.

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I blame this garment’s identity crises on the fact that it was made from unrelated pieces of linen, found in my large, unwieldy fabric stash.
I don’t know about you, but my stash’s girth issues are a direct consequence of my frequent visits to the irresistible remnant selection of my local fabric store. There are so many gorgeous pieces there, all priced to sell, usually at about 50% of  retail. How can one resist?
 But here’s the problem with that. The down side of these ‘economical’ purchases is that, inevitably, finding ways to use the remnants is a challenge. These pieces of gorgeous fabric may be cheap, but they’re often less than a yard. But as my mind registers this fact, my heart says, “It’s not too small!! Go ahead. Buy it. There’s enough fabric here to make…..something!!”
Remnants are such teases.
My latest LWD is made from those remnants; a half yard of graphic print linen and 3/4 yard of white linen. Alone, neither was enough to cover much of…anything! But together, they became a dress.
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 I used one of my favorite basic patterns, Vogue 8840, (see it also here, and here) a tunic top with dropped shoulders, a round neckline, and a front and back center seam. This pattern is a favorite because it’s so easy to modify. With its center back and front seams, it’s also easy to adjust to fit my narrow shoulders.
I used the pattern as designed with one modification. I added a long but narrow eyelash dart to both sides of the back. This was necessary to give the pattern a bit of taper at the waist, a must because this particular piece of white linen was a bit stiff.
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After cutting the main tunic from the white fabric, I cut a ten inch border from my print, making it the same width as the tunic and sewed it to the bottom of the tunic, converting it into a dress (?). Of course,  I could have made it a bit longer if I’d had a little more fabric, (and who’s fault is that?). I did the same thing to add a border to the sleeves, which gave them a bit more body and finish. I also top stitched both sides of the front and back center seams for interest.
I love this pattern. Because the sleeves are cut as part of the dress, it’s easy and fast to sew. The neck is finished with seam binding, also super fast and easy.
But, even though this pattern is simple, the project wasn’t boring at all. I enjoy simple patterns because they give you room to add something. This time, adding the border was the fun part of the project. Also, because the top is so basic, I had fun shaping it with my own well placed darts.
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Here’s my finished remnant creation! Even as I look at it now, I’m not sure what it is, though. A dress, a tunic…who knows? But that’s what happens when you do the remnant shuffle right? Maybe, it’ll be a long top until Summer, when the hot temperatures will make it the perfect dress. And yes, it’s wrinkled and always will be. But that’s okay! I give wrinkles a free pass when they’re on wonderful, beautiful linen!!
What about you? Do you find the remnant section enticing? What do you do with those lovely, but strangely sized pieces?

White – – It isn’t just for brides anymore!

Rumor has it that the Little White Dress has replaced the Little Black Dress for Spring. It’s a trend that’s been highlighted by both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, and Nordstrom’s blog recently announced that we can wear white ANYWHERE.

Although I’m not usually tempted by trends, this was one I couldn’t resist. Why? Because I found the Perfect Fabric of course, a quilted knit in winter white, stitched with a diamond pattern.

You know how it goes. You see a fabric, you fall in love and, voila’! Things happen.

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To make this casual dress, I made some modifications to a basic pattern from Vogue, 8840, a tunic top with dropped shoulders, a round neckline, and a front and back center seam. The center seams make shoulder adjustments easy for my pathetically narrow shoulders (sigh).

Because the fabric had a bit of stretch, I cut the pattern a size smaller than usual to account for the built-in ease of a knit. I also cut a border of six inches to attach to the hem to make the tunic dress length.

To achieve the bell shaped look of the sleeves, I added what is essentially a six inch border to the short sleeved version of the tunic, narrowing the border where it attaches to the sleeve, widening it at the bottom.

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The knit had more stretch than expected so, I tailored the fit just a little by taking in the side seams by another 5/8 inch to keep the dress from resembling a large, white sack.

After trying it on, I decided the lines of the dress needed to show more, so I added a bit of contrast with strips of left over sweater knit, with a loose weave that unraveled when the edges were unfinished. So, I cut four 1 inch strips of that, and used it to trim the center seams, the pockets and the hem border. Then, I purposely frayed the edges of the sweater knit to give the dress a bit more of an edge, which it sorely needed.

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I think I’ll wear this dress as it’s comfortable. Not only that but it works with a favorite pair of boots. As the weather improves, I’ll accessorize with sandals instead.

What about you? Do you believe the LWD is a look that’s here to stay? Do you like to use the raw edges of fabric when you create?