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

Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer of T-Shirts Event: Date Night Tank Top

This week's post is from Vatsla of Fashion By The Seams. She is also one of our Fabricistas!


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-


Thanks again to Vatsla for helping us think outside the box with embellishment for tanks and tees!

Did you miss our previous posts on t-shirt pattern hacks? Check out our Summer of T-shirts Event Page.

We've also put together a t-shirt inspiration board on Pinterest. Check it out HERE.

Don't forget you can sew along with us at home. Share you t-shirt pattern hacks (new ideas you have and ideas that we have shared with you) on Facebook and Instagram using #FMSummerofTshirts. At the end of the summer, we will compile all the people that used the hashtag and you will be entered into a random drawing for $75 gift certificate to Fabric Mart!

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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Made By A Fabricista: A Breezy Summer Birthday Dress





Happy birthday to me!!  I try to sew a breezy, easy wearing summer dress every July in the loudest print I can find (like this one from a couple years ago.)  This year I pulled out my BurdaStyle stash and found 5/2014 #117, the epitome of casual summer dresses!

I picked up this "palm trees at sunset" print rayon challis and it was on!!  I cut a straight size 42. Normally I size up in the hip, but clearly this has a very full skirt and is totally accommodating to the pear shaped gal.


I added 1" to the bodice length, a normal alteration for me to work for me at 5'8"-- Burda's patterns are designed for someone who is 5'6".  I excluded the pockets on the hips.  Who doesn't love a pocket?!!  Me.  I find they add too much bulk exactly where I don't want it, so bye bye hip pockets.


I love those  narrow, little straps.  But I severely dislike the way Burda said I should sew them where you have to turn them right side out by pulling them through themselves, struggling, screaming profanity and nearly giving up 1/2 way through strap #1... blah blah blah.  I just fold them in half a couple times, iron them and zip them through my sewing machine.  I could care less if I see a line of stitches on the straps on this super casual maxi dress.  If I had some cute ribbon, that would have been a great option for the straps and tie on the bodice, too.


Bras are an issue here, folks.  A regular bra with straps can be okay-- if the straps are lined up right, they can blend in, appearing like another strap on the dress.  But I opted to do a strapless bra.  If you have a figure that can handle being bra-less, you're a lucky one.


I love the drape and weight of rayon challis, plus is sews up so well on both my regular machine and my serger.  And it washes and dries nicely if you pull it out of the dryer ASAP-- no ironing for me.  I don't iron ever, unless it's a special occasion or I am in the process sewing. 


Hopefully I am eating cake and ice cream while you are reading this, not spilling my birthday yummies all over my sassy new dress.  

Happy Summer Sewing!!
~Kathy