Saturday, July 30, 2016

Made by a Fabricista's Daughter: Burgundy Bridesmaid Dress


Hello Fabric Mart Fabricista Readers! To begin this post, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Serena and I am an advanced beginner in the sewing arena. I learned everything I know about sewing from my mom, who always provides excellent advice (whether I listen the first time or not). My mom is Ann (here's her blog) and I am guest posting for her this month.

Two of my favorite people had their wedding earlier this month. I was extremely excited and honored to be asked to be in their wedding party as a bridesmaid. They generously allowed a bring your own outfit with minimal criteria for the ladies - wine/burgundy in color, knee length. After looking through some patterns with my mom we found Vogue Misses Princess Seam V Neck Dress which had a flattering fit and flare style, had pockets, and could easily look dressy.

To fit the color criteria we looked to Fabric Mart. We found a beautiful burgundy satin and dark red lace with sequins (no longer available). I've been wanting to try to do a lace overlay for a few months now and this was a great opportunity. After a thinking through a couple of layout options, I decided to only do the overlay on the skirt, make the bodice with only satin, and tie it together with lace for the sleeves.



After ordering the fabric, it was time to make sure the fit was right before cutting the final fabric. I looked to my mom's stash and found a bright floral pique with an amazing texture. She had received this fabric in a mystery bundle from Fabric Mart. After some fitting adjustments on the bodice I was very happy with the muslin. As a general rule I cut the shoulders one to two sizes smaller than the bodice - for this pattern it still resulted in very wide set arms.





Happy with the the plan moving forward - it was time to cut! For the lace I wanted to have the scalloped edge feature on the skirt and adjusted the layout accordingly. Prior to sewing the final dress, I added all the cut pieces to a dressform to make sure it has the look I wanted, decide whether or not to include the sleeves, and get the approval from the bride on the design.


One unique challenge for this dress was putting in the pockets without having them visible through the lace. This was challenging because the lace and the lining needed to be free of each other at the bottom to allow a hem on the lining. In order to do this, I stay stitched the lace and lining together, leaving roughly 5 inches free at the bottom. From there, I added the pocket to be underneath both the lace and lining. I was pleased with the finished look using this technique.


A new technique I learned while making this dress was how to hem a very large skirt! As a procrastinator, I decided to finish the hem the day before the wedding. My gift to the bride and groom was to make their wedding cake (also made the day before the wedding) so the hem got pushed back to midnight. At that point it "looked good enough" and I hand stitched every few inches with the full intention of coming back and fixing it at a later time. The day of the wedding alongside a pair of comfy shoes, I carried a spare pair of sewing scissors, thread, and a needle just in case any pieces got loose in the hem for a quick fix.


After the wedding I came back, undid the stitching, and put the dress on the dressform. Using a stick marked with a height relative to the ground I followed through to pin across the full skirt. This worked really well to get an even hem.




Finally it was time go for a photo shoot! My mom and I went to an old train station (now occupied by a much loved BBQ restaurant). We really liked the contrast of the rustic backdrop compared to the bright and upscale dress. Below are a couple of my favorites!



Additionally, I would like to share a photo of the cakes I made, and a picture of the couple from their big day! The cake is an almond flavored white cake, with an amaretto soaking and a fresh lemon curd. The cake toppers are an homage to their shared love of science mimicking elements from the periodic table, made by the bride. Both are PhD candidates in the sciences at University of Chicago. Here is the couple standing by Lake Michigan in Chicago's Hyde Park. Congratulations Ana and Emre!!!



Inspired by writing this blog post I've decided to start my own blog - That's Sew Serena. Happy summer sewing!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Made by a Fabricista: Seersucker in Summer


Simplicity 8124

I had a great idea for another summer look to follow up my little white dress from my June post,  a mother/daughter dress duo out of classic blue and white seersucker. This seersucker was easy to work with and as a bonus it is 63" wide! I would note two things. 1) Since this fabric is 100% polyester it doesn't hold a press well 2) It does fray so you will definitely need to serge or otherwise finish your seams.
Vogue 8968 from vogue.mccall.com
My original plan was to create Vogue 8968 for myself and a simple pillowcase dress for my step-daughter. As you can see the above is not a picture of V8968. Let me tell you what happened, lol. The Vogue pattern is a loose-fitting, pullover dress which features a handkerchief hemline and sleeve bands. I cut the front and back on the grain so that the body of the dress features horizontal stripes. I wanted vertical stripes on the hem band and the sleeve cuff so I cut those pieces against the grain.

V8968 You can see the the size small dress pulling across the bust.

I have sewn up V8968 View B in a small previously and it was a little large. So this time I decided to sew an XS. Well that was a EPIC FAIL, I can't even show you the extra small. I decided I had underestimated the amount of ease I needed at the bust for a semi-loose dress. Back to the drawing cutting board. Thank goodness I hadn't cut out the girls pillowcase dress. I recut the front, back and sleeve band pieces in a S. To save fabric I decided I could reuse the XS hemband. Once again I sewed it up and tried it on before finishing my raw hems and again TOO SMALL! And I was and still am pretty bummed about this because other than the pulling I really like this dress.

V8968 You can see the pulling in the back as well.
Where did I go wrong? First, I didn't re-try on the previous dress I had sewn. It was too large last year when I made it but it's possible, more like probable, that I've gained a few pounds. Second, I failed to take the fabric into consideration. The first time I made this dress I used a rayon challis and challis has more drape than a cotton seersucker. That being said this dress has a stiffer look than my prior version.

from www.simpliciity.com

After my fitting fail. I had to change my game plan to bring y'all something presentable.  Since off-the-shoulder is all the rage this summer I pulled out the no fail Simplicity 8124. Sticking with my original idea of a dress, I choose View A. Thankfully with some creative pattern piece placing I had just enough fabric left, sadly this meant ditching my mommy and me dress idea for this post (I will still make her one maybe with this red, blue and white seersucker).

S8124

This dress is a very easy sew, with just three pieces simply sew the side seams, sleeve seams and attach the sleeves to the body. After that all that is left the neckline casing and hemming. I did make a modification by changing the full sleeve to a short puff sleeve. To achieve this I simply shortened the sleeve about 5" to mid bicep and added elastic to the hem sleeve.



Though this dress looks great flowy and full, I prefer to wear it belted. I just added this tan elastic belt and white cork heeled sandals for an effortless summer look.

Please learn from my mistakes! Check your body measurements often, consider your fabric and how it behaves and always cut a larger size when in doubt.

Tiffany of  Frougie Fashionista

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