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!

Vogue 9166: A sleek and sporty basic

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When I saw the new Vogue patterns for Spring, I could hardly believe my luck. Those lovely designers read my mind!!  I’ve been looking for a dress pattern with two-piece sleeves since the sporty trend began last Spring. Even though no one has ever described me as athletic, I sure like to look like I am! Racer details, vertical stripes, anything that gives an outfit a sporty edge and I’m all in.

There’s nothing like a knit sleeve that’s color blocked to make you feel like you can get to the finish line fast. My favorite design element of this dress is definitely the sleeves.The good news is, they aren’t just sporty. They’re easy to sew too.

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This dress is a breeze to make. From cut to hem, it only took about three hours.Vogue 9166 includes a dress and a top version as well as pants. All are made from knits.

Not only are the sleeves and yoke details cool, but the high low hem is fun too.  Because my knit had moderate stretch, I used my overlock stitch on my Bernina to finish the seams and hemmed with a twin needle.

Here’s a close up of the knit. It’s sort of unusual, I think, a Ponte from my stash (Yay!) with a silver design printed on it.

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Black is so hard to photograph! The silvery design printed on the knit dresses it up a bit, don’t you think?

The construction of this dress is really simple and straightforward, so if you’re new to knits, give it a try. I made my usual size and made a slight adjustment for my narrow shoulders. To give the style a bit of structure, I’d recommend a medium weight knit, something that isn’t too flimsy, or the dress won’t hang well. The cut is simple so the dress is easy to wear. It’s the sort of dress that you can move around in, a ‘throw on and go’ dress, my favorite! I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot.IMG_8316

I like the pattern and can imagine making it again, maybe a top, or another dress with a two bright colored knits (blue, anyone?). It would be a good piece to include in a capsule wardrobe. I’m suggesting that, not because I’m planning one, but because I should. I also noticed there’s a capsule wardrobe contest this Spring hosted by Pattern Review that provides great motivation to plan one. Will I? Probably not (?!?) but I’m looking forward to seeing what others put together as I continue to mull over the concept. Anyway, it seems to me that this dress, with its timeless style and high degree of wearability would be perfect for such a wardrobe, don’t you think?

Do you plan your wardrobe around the capsule concept, or are you a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ person like me? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

Vogue 8828: If Karl can, why can’t I?

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I rarely leave the house in anything other than pants and sweaters at this time of year, as the weather makes layering and covering up a matter of survival. But it gets old fast, don’t you think? Pants, jeans, blah! I long to wear a dress, but how? I don’t want to freeze to death.

My dilemma was unresolved until, in a holiday-induced frenzy, I perused the Chanel Couture Collection (I can dream, can’t I?). That’s when I noticed that several of Karl’s creations were actually quilted.

 

 

Of course, the Chanel fabrics are so gorgeous, they could do anything to them, and they would be fabulous. But I was caught up in Karl’s message. Dresses can be classic and beautiful, but warm too! Needless to say, creating a quilted dress became my new obsession.

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The pattern I used for my quilted dress is Vogue 8828, a classic style with princess seams, a fitted bodice, a raised waist, and a semi fitted or loose fitting skirt.

I decided to make the less fitted version as I’m in LOVE with A-line shapes at the moment.

I used two different quilted fabrics from Fabric Depot, a black knit and a gray knit. Both fabrics are stable knits, quilted in a diamond pattern, but of varying sizes, a fact I thought would add some contrast to the dress.

I used the black with the small diamonds for the bodice, the gray with the larger diamonds for the skirt. I thought the gray would provide some contrast for the black. But the REAL reason I picked the gray fabric for the skirt was because of the selvages. They were white and tufted, perfect to use as trim on the princess seams and neckline.

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Or course, as I was considering this strategy, I fancied I was mimicking Karl, since he uses trim everywhere. But OMG, what trim! Have you ever seen anything more beautiful than this?

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I made my own trim by cutting those selvages off the gray fabric in 1″ strips. Then, (carefully, let me tell you) I cut them down, reducing them to a width of  5/8″, zigzagging the edges so they wouldn’t unravel. Before sewing the seams, I basted my new trim at the seam line. Then, when I sewed the seams together, the lovely white part showed.

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Honestly, without that selvage trim, the dress would have been (dare I say it) boring? Black and gray are favorite colors of mine, but they can be a bit dull, to say the least. The lines of the princess seams are the best part of this dress and I’m glad the trim highlights them.

Vogue 8828 is a winner. I love this pattern. The style is classic, but fun and it went together easily. There are a few pattern pieces to manage, but in this instance, Vogue does a nice job of describing the construction steps so that it doesn’t make you lose your mind. Also, the sewing required to complete this dress is pretty straightforward. If you know how to insert a zipper, uou can’t go wrong! My only wish is that I’d used a invisible zipper. Oh well, there’s always next time.This dress is cozy, so it will get a lot of use.  I plan to wear it to several wintery evening events.  I plan to make this pattern again soon, from a dressier fabric.

My conclusion? As usual, Karl wasn’t wrong. Quilting doesn’t need to be limited to heavy overcoats and down jackets. Now, if I only could get my hands on some of his fabulous fabric!

Have you ever made a quilted garment? Did you wear it, or did it end up in the ‘recycle’ pile? Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

 

A color-blocked tee in ‘Merlot’: the perfect palette cleanser

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After completing a challenging sewing project, I often find I need an easy follow-up ‘sew’, sort of a palette cleanser, you know? A tee or a top is my ‘go-to’ project at times like these and I feel especially virtuous if my project uses up a bit of my huge, largely untamed fabric stash.

I found this great red ponte in my stash, and decided it needed to go out into the world. It’s a wine-y red, similar to the color Pantone chose for 2015, ‘Marsala’, a robust and earthy wind red that they describe as a ‘hearty but stylish tone’ (LOL).  I gotta give them credit. They definitely called that trend, because that color of red is everywhere! In Nordstrom’s fall catalog, they called it ‘merlot’ and nearly every page included a splash (Ha) of it. And who among us doesn’t love a color that reminds them of their favorite beverage?

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The Merlot ponte in my stash was perfect for a tee, but there wasn’t enough for a long sleeved style (so typical…), so I was forced to color block (Yes, I’m a fool for it), mixing my wine-colored fabric with accents of black and gray.

The pattern I chose for my easy-to-wear tee is Vogue 8710, a semi-fitted pullover top.

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The pattern was released awhile ago, but it’s still around. I love tees that fit closely around the bust and shoulders, but that have an interesting shape. This one fits that criteria perfectly because it’s almost bell shaped at the bottom, which I love, but it’s not too loose either.

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View B is a color blocking dream-come-true because it has curved side panels that add interest to the fit, but are also the perfect host for a contrasting color.

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For me, the fit of this pattern is pretty spot on, in spite of the fact that I have really narrow shoulders. I think this means that others might need to adjust the pattern a bit? I used red ponte’ for the bodice (moderate stretch), dark gray for the side panels, and black jersey for the sleeves and neck binding. My ponte’ knit was pretty substantial with a lot of body, but with a good drape. This seems important to support the cool shape of the bottom of the tee. I don’t think this pattern would work as well if your knit was too lightweight, even though the suggested fabric include light jerseys. Just saying….

The pattern was super easy to put together. I used the knit stitch on my regular sewing machine and it worked fine. This tee qualifies as a quick sew to be sure. You don’t have to think too much so you can watch Game of Thrones and never miss a beat. And it’s so fun to have a new top that you started in the morning, but wear in the afternoon.

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I think I’ll make this top again, probably in some random shades of blue (I’m obsessed!). Do you have a favorite ‘palette cleanser’ pattern? Do share! Happy Sewing! And thanks for stopping by.

Going Moto: How many zippers does it take?

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How many zippers does it take to call a jacket, ‘moto’? My version has only three zippers. If I gifted it to a biker chick, would she look happy, or mortified?

These are the important questions I asked myself as I finished this cropped jacket. Perhaps three zippers is just not enough. After all, more zippers means more edge – – all those teeth – – all that metal! I’m guessing most biker chicks would look at a three zippered jacket and laugh.  Still, I’m calling my look, ‘moto’. It’s got more zippers than anything else I own.

Zipper one….

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Zippers two and three…

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As you can see by the intense look on my face, I am freakishly serious about these zippers (?!). I made this little jacket because I’ve been yearning for layers. The weather here is just cold enough in the early morning to force the ‘coat or no coat’ issue, so I decided to make a cozy, cropped jacket with some color to throw on with jeans, skirts, even a dress. And, since one of my unfulfilled dreams is to be accused of being ‘edgy’, I used the extra zippers in my notions stash to try to give my jacket a bit of a ‘moto’ look.

It was easy to find inspiration for my jacket. This fall, fashion designers are giving us yet another chance to channel our inner rocker with lots of versions of ‘moto’. Here’s a painted version by Tibi.
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Here’s an interesting take on the look, a lace version by Christopher Kane.
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 Here’s my ‘three zippered’ look.
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For my ‘moto’ inspired jacket, I used a red ponte I had in my stash (yahoo!), and leather trim left over from my moto skirt I made last year. The pattern I chose was Butterick 5958, a fitted lined jacket with princess seams and a side front exposed zipper. It didn’t have zippers on the sleeves, but the shape was perfect so I went for it anyway. I didn’t have a lot of fabric, so I chose to make the collarless version. 5958
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The ponte was easy to work with, and the front zipper went in easily. I trimmed the front opening with a piece of black leather to give it a bit of a ‘pop’ (I love black and red together!). The pattern was easy to follow.
When it came to the zippers at the cuff, I ad-libbed a bit by inserting seven inch ‘sport’ zippers at the seams. In order to figure out where to place the zippers, I had to first determine the perfect length for the sleeve and the depth of the sleeve’s hem, so that the zipper opening would be placed at the wrist. This meant I had to put the sleeve into the jacket before inserting the zippers, so that I could judge the length correctly. As a result, I had the entire jacket to move around my machine as I inserted the zippers into the sleeves. Total nightmare!
 Okay, it would have been MUCH easier to have inserted the zippers before the sleeve was in. I think (?) I should’ve just measured my arm length vs. the sleeve length and then, just gone for it (?). But I was too chicken. If I’d made the pattern before (or a muslin version but I didn’t – – I’m my own worst enemy!), I could’ve avoided this cumbersome step. But alas, I did none of those things, so I tortured myself. The sleeve zippers turned out okay, but I wouldn’t recommend my messed up process to anyone!
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I like the jacket and know I’ll get a lot of wear out of it. If I had to do it again (and I just might make another with leather, or denim or something for a edgier look.  Hope Springs Eternal!), I’ll add pockets and zippers there too, maybe go with the collared version of the pattern, and add some metal snaps to jazz things up a bit. I might also check out some other patterns. I know Linda, at Nice dress, Thanks I made it, sewed a cool moto jacket (see it here!) with zillions of zippers that turned out so cute.
Red seems to be one of my ‘fall’ colors this year. I suspect that in a few weeks, my jacket will coordinate with the color of the leaves outside!
If anyone has a moto jacket pattern to recommend, give a shout. Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

A gray jacket for…Spring? 

Yes, I know it’s the time of year for wearing bright colors like yellow and fuchsia and green. But gray? Not so much.

I ask…why not? Gray is a tried and true neutral, darn good company to just about any other color you can name. That’s why I decided to make a casual Spring jacket out of gray – -because it will go with every bright color you can conjure up.

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Of course, it is May, an odd time of year to think about jackets and coats at all. Soon, the weather will be so warm, coats will be obsolete. Why by the end of the week, we’re promised eighty degree weather, even in Oregon! Still, promises are made to be broken. I suspect I’ll need to have a coat by my side for quite some time to come.
The pattern I used for this wrap jacket is Vogue 9037, a loose fitting, unlined double-breasted jacket with front and back tucks.
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 It was the tucks that did it. When I saw them, I fell like a fool for this jacket. Not only that, but the collar on View A, made it a must have too. It’s wide, but not too wide, with an unusual cut. The shaped hemline looked interesting too.
Because the jacket is unlined, I decided to use a double faced fabric, a ponte knit that I’ve had in my stash for so long, I can’t remember where it came from :). You know how it is. Honestly though, I wish I could remember, because this fabric is the perfect weight for Spring and a dream to work with. I’d love to have it in black or navy too.
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The pattern looked pretty straightforward, but I was a taken back (freaked!) when I read the warning on the pattern envelope though…No provisions provided for above waist adjustment! Noooooooo. Very bad news for a short-torso person like me!
Of course, I didn’t notice that horrid warning until I’d already cut the fabric….(Hmmmm. Perhaps I should slow down once in awhile and read the pattern instructions carefully before diving right in, maybe even trying it out with muslin?)
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Fortunately, there isn’t a tragic end to this story. I lucked out!!! The jacket fit like a dream with no adjustments.  The tucks are positioned just right for the likes of me.
The jacket was easy to sew and, since it’s a wrap style, there aren’t any buttonholes to make. Nice, eh? The tucks are easy too, especially if you mark the fabric well. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough fabric to make the tie belt as long as I would have liked.
I’m happy with the result and plan to make this pattern again, probably in the fall. If you need an easy-to-wear, throw on jacket, I highly recommend this one.
What do you think? Am I kidding myself about gray? Should my wrap jacket be shut away until fall?

Thursday tee: A sporty tee dress

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Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, who can resist dressing like one from time to time? My Thursday tee is a sporty dress, a nod to the trend that gives us a chance to look fit and relaxed, even when we aren’t at the gym.
Since the sporty trend is strong, there’s plenty of inspiration in ready-to-wear.
Proenza Schouler gives a nod to fitness with this look.
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I love the color blocking here (It appears as though I will never get over my obsession). Another plus – – you could actually wear this dress with sneakers, if you wanted to. What’s not to like about that?
And here’s a cool dress from Jonathan Simkhai.
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You probably wouldn’t hit the gym in this one, but at least you look as though you’d like to!
 To make my sporty dress, I used Vogue 8817, a close fitting pullover top with neck binding, seam detail, and contrast variations. It was designed by Katherine Tilton, well-known for her  love of mixing colors and prints in blocks. So, even the pattern envelope includes yardage measurements for a variety of blocking options which makes the mix and match thing pretty easy to do.
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I used a Ponte knit with moderate stretch for view C, an A-line shaped tunic. Although it’s designed to be a top, I lengthened the pattern to make it a dress, then added a hem band at the bottom for contrast.
This pattern was so easy, I finished it in an afternoon. Instant gratification!
And, the blocking variations make it the perfect pattern for (need I say it) stash busting. I was able to use a remnant of red knit from my stash for the contrasting bands and borders. Yahoo!
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This dress is so comfortable, I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot this summer. The knit is just the right weight to make it an easy travel dress too. What about you? Do you like the sporty, active wear look? Thanks for stopping by……

Me, Amal and Lace 

Blame it on Amal Clooney. I would not have attempted this dress if it wasn’t for her.  Not only is she a brilliant attorney with a enviable last name, look how well she wears Dolce and Gabbana.

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Here’s another great example. The lace detailing accentuates the shape of the dress and makes it pop. Yet, the dress doesn’t look too fussy or girly.

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Inspired, I decided to attempt a knock off.

I used New Look 6209, a sculpted sheath with contrasting side panels and yoke. When I saw the photo on the front of the pattern envelope, I wondered if you could  achieve the same sort of contrast with lace appliqué. I also liked the unusual sleeves, with the pleated sleeve caps.

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Part of the charm of the Dolce and Gabbana dress for me, was that the lace was appliquéd over tweed. So, I used a stable Ponte knit of light gray for the dress, thinly striped with black. (purchased at Fabric Depot.)

I cut the dress out of the Ponte first, then sewed the front to the side panels and the yoke (also cut from lace). Once the front was assembled, I measured the length of each side panel seam to determine how much lace I’d need for the contrast.

That’s when I realized just how complex this task would be! The lace had to be placed just so along the side panel’s seams, or it would draw attention, (maybe even exaggerate!!!) the parts of my body that just didn’t need it.

To avoid that, I had to figure out exactly where to stick that lace, if you get my drift.

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First, I tried to pin the lace on the front of the dress while I stood in front of a mirror.   Let’s just say, that was a Very Bad Idea and leave it at that.

After a bit of trial and error, I decided to pin the dress front to my dress form (seems so obvious now!) and adjust the lace placement until it was right. Then, I hand basted the lace to the fabric.

Now for the crafty bit.

I used my trusty Bernina to appliqué the lace on, tracing each of the curvy edges with stitches. At first, the patience required for this was a bit out of my wheel house. Not only that, but I realized a wrong move would mean that I’d have to rip out a lot of stitches (not my favorite way to spend an afternoon.) Panic!

But as we all know, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I forced myself to persevere. Not only was it a Growth Moment, but I had way too much money invested in lace and fabric to give up the ship.

The appliqué stitching took a long, long time. Two old movies later though, it was done! The day brightened! I went on to finish that dress.

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Oh, one other thing. I added a bit of lace on the bottom of the sleeves too, a six inch swath of lace sewn on to the bottom of the sleeve as a cuff.

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The pattern was easy to assemble with very little adjusting. But when it was completed, I wasn’t sure I liked this dress, wasn’t sure lace was my thing. But after spending SO much time on it, I had to take it out for a spin. At a dressy evening event, it was kept up with the best of the LBD’s, so I’ll probably wear it again.

Have you tried to recreate a designer look? I’d love to hear about your ‘knock off’ efforts.

Girly Print Meets Leather

When I shop for fabric during the Spring and Summer, I’m always drawn to the colorful prints. I have a hard time giving in to their allure though, because when I wear them, I feel too sweet.

But when I saw the Cotton and Steel prints this season at Fabric Depot, I had to indulge. To balance out the look, I decided to mix things up a bit, pairing the printed shirt with an edgier skirt with leather detailing and a zipper. Wearing a bit of leather and metal keeps me from feeling too…Girly. Obviously, I have issues!
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The shirt:
The fabric I picked is a cotton lawn print, designed by Rashida Coleman Hale, her Mochifloral Teal.The colors are very ‘me’ so I nabbed a couple of yards for Simplicity 1422, a shirt with tabbed roll-up sleeves.
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Simplicity 1422 is a great shirt pattern, with interesting variations in length and style. It was super-easy to put together, in spite of the fact that it has a collar, and tabs on the sleeves. You can sew it in an afternoon for a good dose of instant gratification. The cotton lawn is a dream to work with, easy to manipulate and press.
The skirt
To give the outfit a bit of contrast, I paired it with a brown, leather- trimmed zippered skirt made from Simplicity 1322.
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It’s a mock wrap slim skirt. The fabric is a stable Ponte knit, that I bought so long ago, I have no idea where :). I modified the waist band of the skirt, narrowing it a bit since I have the stubborn (but perhaps inaccurate?) notion that narrow waist bands are more flattering on me.
For the side slit, I trimmed the opening with leather (Fabric Depot), then added a full length zipper, rather than the short one pictured on the pattern envelope. I did this, well, just because!
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This skirt pattern is super easy with many variations. I’ll use it again and again. I’ll make the shirt again too, maybe in a longer length.
All in all, a fun project and both patterns are keepers!
What do you think about Spring prints? Too sweet or you can’t live without them?