Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Made by a Fabricista: Seersucker Summer in a Grainline Willow Tank Dress!

I had two goals with my July make for Fabric Mart...

1. I knew I wanted an outfit for Independence Day, so I knew the fabric would have to be red, white, and blue.

2. I really wanted a super quick and easy make from a fabric that would wash and dry quickly and easily.

Luckily for me, Fabric Mart had both a really pretty red, white, and blue seersucker for sale (its red looks a touch more dark pink, but eh, close enough), and the Grainline Willow Tank Dress for sale.  I asked them to send me both, and by the time I got to cutting the fabric and sewing it up, I was one day away from the fourth of July festivities, so I really was hoping that the make would truly be as easy as I needed it to be.  :-)

I am happy to report that the Willow Tank Dress definitely sewed up very quickly and easily, and the seersucker was a perfect match for it.  Since making it, I have washed and worn it a few times, and it is exactly the kind of dress that is perfect for the south in summer, loose enough to be airy, but has enough shape to not look to boxy.  (I sized for a size 4 at the shoulders and neckline, and made sure to grade out to a 18 at the high hip and hem of the tank bit and a size 8 fully in the skirt bit.)

I was a bit nervous that the fit would be too tight, especially in the hips, but once I had made it up, and put it on, it fit great, and since I had lengthened the skirt to the size 18 length, I also had a long enough dress so I could wear it without feeling like too much of my leg was showing.

The darts in the dress are not awesome, and I need to figure out what would make them work better on my frame, since the circumference of the bust area is more than enough ease as is.  There's just a touch of wrinkling, and after I wear the dress for a bit, the seersucker stretches a bit, and then the wrinkles go away.  I don't know if I should even care.  Maybe it's simply the way I am standing in these photos.  Ha.

The one major change I made was to add a square shoulder alteration.  I find if I don't do them on most patterns (I look to see if the shoulder line on the pattern is straighter, which is good for my frame, or sloping down, which is no bueno for my frame), I have an armscye that is way too tight and uncomfortable.  Adding 1/2 inch up from the neck/shoulder junction to the shoulder seamline really helps, and with that alteration, all armcyes feel much more comfortable.

The sizing is generous, especially in the waist.  I like how the dress flows over the body, but if you don't correctly size for your hips, the waist could ride up and create a bit of a baggy area right at the waist, which would not be nearly as pretty of a line on the body.  The 8 worked for me, but if I had made this up in a size 6, the skirt portion would have been far too tight and the silhouette would have been broken up with no extra ease where ease is needed.

The dress almost looks like I made a top and skirt from the same fabric and wore them together, and you can really see that here, but in reality, you make the tank portion, and provided you properly mark your fabric to indicate where the foldline and stitching lines are, you attach the skirt to the tank, fold up the hem of the tank with the skirt upper seamline, press, and then pin at the stitching line.  You then stitch the tank's "hem" by topstitching it.  (The Grainline folks have a few wonderful tutorials on making up either the tank or the dress. They also have some variations you may want to try, too.)

If you were to use two separate fabrics, the illusion would be even greater.  I would like to try it one day.  :-)

You can see the excess fabric at the waist here from the back.  Clearly these large folds come from my position in holding the phone to grab a photo in an awkward position, but it is a lot of ease, which is necessary, though, to keep the very a-line loose shift silhouette in place.  It does make me envy those of you who are a straight size from top to bottom though!  I would love to have a straighter shift like this on me where the bust and waist and hips all came from the same size pattern.  Oh, well.

Here is a closeup of the very pretty seersucker.  This is the nice seersucker you find from the preppy stores, like J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, and Vineyard Vines.  It has no stretch, but will stretch a bit with wear.

You can see here that I chose to cut the top with the grainline, as the grain is vertically striped.  I cut the skirt with the stripes going horizontally.  I figured that since I have a short torso, adding vertical length to my top half is a very good thing, and though I don't LOVE the idea of adding width to my hips, I figured it would be subtle enough overall to work.  I think it did work, and was pleased with the result.

The other major change I made was to use the bias binding (facings) as a decorative feature on the armscye.  I did the proper stitching, understitching, flipping, pressing, and topstitching with the neck bias bound facing, but I really liked how the armscye facing looked before it was meant to be flipped, so I kept it that way, knowing full well that if it didn't wash and wear well, I could always press, flip, and topstitch later.  In the end, the bias binding has some texture, but has not frayed.  I am thrilled it worked.  The extra little bit of fabric there also helps to widen me up there, where I need it most!

I brought the dress with me to Hilton Head, which is where some of these photos where taken.  I wore the dress to dinner one night, and then we took a nice long walk on Coligny beach at sunset.  As you can see, the dress and its fabric are still looking good, even after all the sitting and walking, and wind, etc.  :-)

I hope you all have some fun, easy, quick projects for your summer sewing!  And I especially hope you get to wear it somewhere pretty, warm, and outside!

~Dina, My Superfluities

Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer of T-Shirts Event: Date Night Tank Top

HI Fashionistas!

I am so excited to be participating in the Summer of T-Shirt Event.  Can I just tell you that tees and tanks are my favorite? I am a stay at home mom for the most part, and I teach and freelance part time. A lot of my work happens from my home studio. I practically live in jeans. But I still want to be stylish! So I always try to dress up my look with something a little more interesting than a basic tee or tank. Here is my version of a dressy tank paired with casual white jeans!




I'll be showing you how I hacked this basic t-shirt pattern to get something a lot more dressy! I used the McCalls Palmer/Pletsch 6964 view A and modified it to my liking.



Here is my sketch. 


Typically I do not trace off patterns, but a pattern with minimal markings makes for an easy to follow visual aid.. so I traced off the front bodice onto pattern paper.  There are 2 types of pattern paper I typically use: 

1. Medical exam paper (typically for my working patterns)

2. Banner paper , typically for my production patterns. I like using banner paper the most, because it is sturdy, easily accessible (Office supply stores like Staples and even Walmart carry them.)


Here is the front bodice piece. I made the following markings on the pattern. 
  • The green is the stitch line marked, which is 5/8 from the pink line, which is the original cut line. 
  • The only alteration I made is the neckline, I squared off 1/2 inch from the centre front, to convert the V neck to a scoop neck. The squaring off is important to prevent a pointy shape. Then I drew a scoop neck as desired. This is drawn in purple. I did not lower the neckline. 



If you are going for a fitted tank like mine, remember to take negative ease into account ( the pattern needs to be smaller than your measurements). I used a rib knit, so I know how it will behave. If you are not sure what size to cut, its a good idea to find a tank top in your wardrobe and take some flat measurements from it. Then use a similar fabric. When in doubt, start with a bigger size and take it in as needed. Since you are converting a t-shirt pattern into a tank top, don't be surprised if you have to take in the side seams and shoulder seams, unless you proactively cut a smaller size.

 
  
There is nothing special about the back of the tank. Its pretty basic.  While I did not alter the armhole on the pattern, I did end up lowering the armhole by about 1/2 an inch after I did my 1st fitting. 



I did end up creating a centre back seam after I did my initial fitting. It is not part of the pattern but it can give you a better fit if your knits has  moderate stretch like the pattern calls for. 


Here is a close up of the lace. I sewed it such a way that it looks like a cap sleeve.  The chains are from the beading section of Joann Fabrics. I hand stitched them down on the shoulder seam of each shoulder,  catching the stitches in the seam allowance of the shoulder seams.


Here is a close up of the ruffle. To create the ruffle, I used one long strip of chiffon, folded it lengthwise, and stitched it to create a tube. Then flipped it right side out, and created some loose box pleats on it. I wanted voluminous ruffle, very unstructured... and I was able to accomplish that with the chiffon. I love chiffon!


I can best describe this tank as romantic. I love this look. The black look is dressy, I would love to pair this with a dark blue skinny jean. If you make this in a lighter color like blush or ivory, it would be perfect for brunch or shopping with the girls! 

I am in the middle of sewing about 5 more things! I hope you are doing well and sewing away! If you liked this tutorial, please check out the rest of my tutorials HERE.


See you soon!

XO-

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Made By A Fabricista: Saved by Completion!


When I was composing this blog post in my head, the title was certainly going to include "wadder".  I tried it on mid construction, decided it was okay if a little on the bright(!) side, but when I finished it, I put it on and was so disappointed in the results. My son came down at the moment I was trying it on and asked if it was a nightgown!

It wasn't until I removed the 1st temporary drawstring - white satin ribbon, pressed it, added a different temporary drawstring in pink grosgrain (haha!) and accessorized that I felt a huge sigh of relief that I actually like it!

I still think the bright pink linen + this pattern had the potential to turn into an unfortunate result from the start. Too hospital gown-y. I will remake this pattern in a print (went perusing the cotton lawn & voile sections!), but this one was just barely saved.

I wanted to try out the reorderable linen as it isn't a fiber I sew it with very often. In fact, I think I've only made 2 garments with linen blends - I've never used 100% linen. Most of the colors were a bit subdued for summer so I went with pink and boy is it ever! I washed on warm and dried on high heat. I pressed the linen before I started cutting out and made sure to keep everything on grain.

The pattern is relatively simple - front and back both on fold, the sleeve bands, facings and casing.

While I didn't staystitch the neckline of the front and back, I cut them out, sewed the shoulder seams, and immediately put them aside.  After cutting the facing, I squared everything back up at the ironing board using the pattern piece. I then interfaced the pieces.

I under stitched the facing, which is sufficient, but I decided to make a nice noticeable topstitching vs doing it at the edge. I love the neckline. It is nice and flat and the topstitching looks great.



When I tried it on I thought, "hmmm, it's okay" and figured I'd like it more with the waist shaping provided by the drawstring. Especially since the fit at the neckline and shoulders was so good!



I removed 1 1/4" off the length (Burda is often a tad too long for me) by marking at many places and then using a rotary cutter to keep it neat. I did a double turned 3/8" hem and topstitched in place.

I know the hi-low hem can be a bit overdone but I like it when it's subtle like this


And can we talk about sewing and pressing linen?!?! SWOON! So perfect. And from trying it on, I find it extremely comfy to wear. 


There's a wee bit of pregnancy vibe but I think that's because the casing is a bit too high for me with a full bust. On future versions I will lower that about an inch. 

I'm not sure why my sleeves are flaring. Likely my handling of the linen during pressing.


Recently, another blogger sewed this pattern up and I looked at the fit on her and thought, Hmmm, I chose the wrong size!

I looked at how roomy it was and went with a 14(40). Normally with Burda I do a 14 neckline and grade to a 16. I should have graded this one out. I have JUST enough butt room when it's tied. Another note for future makes.

Now, let's talk about the pattern a bit. Burda 6732 was released last fall and I just loved it. Like the woven equivalent of a t-shirt dress!



-Don't sew the sleeve bands the way they tell you. 

They have you sew them flat and then do the seam and side seam in one pass. This is VERY bulky unless you're using something extremely lightweight. And the bulk makes it difficult to get a smooth line from sleeve to dress. I pressed and pressed and in the end I stitched a few lines across the sleeve seam to get it flat. 

-The casing isn't cut on the bias. 

Cut the casing on the bias. Okay? Trying to press the strip was just a nightmare. I chucked that and cut a strip just under 2" and used my 1" bias tape maker which worked a treat. So I ended up with a slightly narrower casing but that's okay! It's very neat. 


Ordinarily I'd wash my finished garment to remove markings but I was so sure this was a wadder! :) So bear with my blue dots! 

I marked the casing line at several points as you can see, to ensure I sewed it on straight. I pinned it really well and took my time sewing it.

I went "in" from the bottom of the dress, sewed the far side first, leaving the pins in (shhhh!). I then went back and did the other side, removing the pins as I went.


I realized the white satin ribbon was a HUGE issue and went for some matching pink grosgrain in my ribbon stash. What a difference that made! I will have to hit the store to find a bit of cording that works. 

So a pattern silhouette that was a bit new for me...a color that's a bit new for me...a fabric that's a bit new for me...The Trifecta! I am so happy to have a wearable summer dress after taking those "risks"!



Nakisha