Saturday, April 29, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Windy City Mini-Wardrobe

My daughter lives in Chicago, about 3 hours away from me, and sewing for her long distance has been a challenge because I've really needed her to be present for fitting.  Of course, everyone dreams of finding a pattern that will fit perfectly right out of the envelope, but that becomes even more important when you are making something for someone when that person can't be there in person!


In my quest to find such a pattern, I decided to try out Cashmerette patterns.  These patterns are designed for sizes 12-28 and have three cup size options for C/D, E/F, and G/H- one of the only companies that caters to larger sizes and includes variations for cup sizes!  I was very excited to see if this could be the "one" that I've been searching for!


I started out with The Upton Dress- a fit and flare dress with neckline and skirt variations.  We decided to go with a black and white color scheme, and I had this fantastic graphic cotton print with big black and white circles and a single flower per panel.  I've probably had this fabric for 10 years, and could never figure out what to do with it, but it's time had come!  I could envision it in this dress!  I decided on the pleated skirt version,  and I only had enough fabric for the skirt portion. But I did have a black and white floral stretch twill that I thought could be a nice pairing. Because I was using a stretch fabric for the bodice, I cut the dress size one size smaller than indicated, and it fit perfectly!  Here's the back- you can see that it fits so nicely!


I was able to eliminate the back zipper.  Otherwise, I made no changes. The directions are very thorough, but since I wasn't using a zipper, I used these instructions for lining a sleeveless dress with no zipper .  They are very clever, and make adding a lining quick and easy.

So, the next pattern to try was the Concord T-Shirt.  This is a real workhorse of a pattern with sleeve, neckline and length variations.  This really could be the one and only t-shirt pattern that she would ever need!  However, this one tends to be very close fitting, so I chose the size larger than recommended for her full bust/cup measurement, and I'm glad that I did.  Here is the longest length of the shirt with the 3/4 sleeves.  The bottom is finished with separate hem facing pieces which make it easier to get the curved hem to lay smoothly.


This fabric was one of Fabric Mart's pre-cut specials, so you might recognize it!  You can see that the fit on the bust is good, but the sleeves are a little snug.  This is the scoop neck version.   How great is the fit in the bust, neck and shoulders?!?  If you are full busted and have used commercial patterns, you have probably found that if you make the size that corresponds with your bust measurement, the shoulders and neck tend to be way too big.  Therefore, you either need to adjust the bust, or adjust the neck/shoulders, and getting that right can be tricky.  This is not so with the Cashmerette patterns!  They have done the work for you.


I tried it again with a larger size on the sleeves, and that was a much more comfortable fit. This version was made with the high neck, middle length and short sleeves, using an ITY knit from Fabric Mart.  The background is at Ipsento 606 in Chicago.  In fact all of the photos are around the 606- a public park made from a reclaimed rail line above the city streets that offers Chicagoans a place to stroll, jog, walk the dogs, and enjoy art! 



Lastly, I thought she could use a nice basic tank top, so I tried the Springfield Top.  This is designed for woven fabrics, and the finished garment measurements only included 1-1/4" of ease, which sounded a little dubious to me.  But, I made a muslin first, using the size recommended based on her full bust/cup size measurements, and it was too small.  But oddly enough, it was only too small in the back.  The front fit beautifully.  So, I did a broad upper back adjustment using this tutorial.  I've never done one of these before, but it was definitely the right fix.  It added about 2", but only in the back.



Here's a view of the 606 from the ground below.  The access points from the street level are all beautifully landscaped as well.  This tank top is made from a polyester peachskin that was also in the pre-cut selections.  The original pattern includes a band across the bottom and separate pieces in the back, so that you could do pattern mixing or color blocking.  But I just joined those pieces together to have a one piece front and back. 




So, she now has a mini wardrobe for summer life in Chicago in black and white!  She also likes to sew, so I'm going to give her these patterns pre-tested, so that she can confidently sew them up without fitting worries!  Of course, fabrics all have differing properties, so she'll still have to make decisions based on the stretch of each fabric she chooses, but having a baseline for each pattern style will make life a lot simpler.

If you have a full bust, I highly recommend trying the Cashmerette pattern line!  You may still have to do some tweaking, like I did, but not much.  And if you are in Chicago, look for my daughter on the 606 and say "Hi!"

Happy Sewing!

Ann 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Made By A Fabricista: PINK


Hi!

Hope all is well!  There use to be a time when I always made sure to have a few suits on hand for interviews, meetings, or work presentations.  Somewhere along the line I stopped buying suits and started wearing more "career separates".  In other words less matchy-matchy 2-piece suits, and more blazers that could be worn with any coordinating skirt or pair of pants.  I never cared for wearing my 2-piece suits as separates.  I felt that if you wore one item more than the other, then that item would appear faded compared to the other piece from getting washed or dry cleaned more often. Career separates allowed me to mix and match my wardrobe without that worry.

Lately, I have become obsessed with menswear looks for women and matchy-matchy pant suits in prints and bright bold colors again.  When I saw this bold pink poly/lycra suiting, I figured it would be a good time to get going on making a few suits.  So let’s get into this month’s DIY look!  

A pants suit...

...And a shorts suit!


(Disclaimer: I have to take my suit to the dry cleaners to be pressed.  I could not press this as nicely as I wanted with my iron, so please have mercy on my pressing job.)

I used Vogue V8958 View D to make the blazer and McCall’s M7098 View C and E to make the pants and the shorts.  

Anytime I go thrift shopping, I always make sure to look for sewing books (and vintage sewing machines and tools).  I find many of my books at a thrift store called “Savers”.  I am building a nice little sewing reference library from thrifting alone.  The books are old school, which I love, and full of solid sewing foundations.  They cost $3.49 or less!  While constructing the jacket, I pulled out one of the books I found.  It’s called “Sewing Express” by Nancy Zieman.  I wanted to see what new tips I could try.  I ended up implementing some of the tips for interfacing.   







I really like this fabric, it has a nice amount of stretch.  It is lightweight, so it is perfect for making a summer suit.  The color is described as watermelon pink and there is a small amount of this fabric left (click here).  This fabric also seems similar (click here).

This blazer has center seam pockets and I really like the length of the jacket.  




The shape of the lapels are so gorgeous and really the star of this blazer.



I think the pattern design for the bottoms is really cool.  I love the center seam that runs along the front and back of the shorts and pants.  For the pants, I cut off 2 inches of the length and then hemmed them at an inch and a quarter.  I wanted them to hit near my ankle.  I hemmed the shorts at an inch and a quarter per the pattern.  I used a big gold button instead of an hook and eye on both.  



I used pink stretch pongee lining for the jacket and added a little bias tape along the waistband facing for the bottoms.  I didn’t have the exact closure that I wanted to use on hand, so at this time I did not add one.  I don’t know the correct term for the closure I want, but it is similar to a men’s tie tack.  I will probably end up making my own.  I am going to redo my hems.  I had to get outside and take photos before I lost the daylight, so I hemmed my bottoms with a regular stitch.  I am going to go back and do a blind stitch on these before I take them to get pressed.  


There is a pleat in the center back of the lining, but it is still basted together in this picture.  I always forget to open up my pleats!  In this photo, you may be able to see that I added shoulder pads.  My shoulders are very sloped, so the shoulder pads add a better shape for me.




That's all I have for this month!  Really excited about what's coming up for May!  Until then, be safe!

Yours truly, Tee



Monday, April 24, 2017

Announcing the Skirt Challenge!


Sewing just got a little cooler! I love wearing skirts in the summer time. To get ready for that, Fabric Mart will be hosting a Skirt Challenge throughout the month of May!

Here's how it works:
Post a photo of a skirt you made on Instagram OR Facebook using #sewcoolskirts and tag Fabric Mart in your post. Then each week in May, we will pick a winner at random to win a $50 gift certificate to Fabric Mart! There's also a few other prizes that will pop up, so watch for more details! 

The skirt must be handmade but doesn't have to be made during the month. The photos tagged must be posted in the month of May. Sorry, no backdating or tagging an old post. We encourage newly made skirts because it's just more fun that way! (But not required.) 

Winners of the $50 gift certificates will be announced on May 8, 15, 22 & 29. There will also be other prizes available and we will announce what they will be at a later time. 


On top of that, we will be sharing some of our favorite skirt patterns and designs. Do you have a favorite skirt pattern that you would like to see on the list? Comment below and we may include it our favorites list!

We hope you will join in the fun!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Red Hot Summer Halter Dress


It has happened to all of us a least once right? You see a pattern and you KNOW you have to make it, like ASAP! Well that is the feeling I had about this new Summer pattern from Vogue.
As soon as I saw Vogue 1546 I knew I had to have this pattern as well as a few others (see my blog for my thoughts on the whole collection). The unique design of this dress really grabbed my attention. I love the halter neckline, the back cut out and the full pleated skirt... all of it! So while I originally had something else in mind for this months post I quickly ditched those plans to make this dress.

from fabricmartfabrics.com

The pattern calls for medium weight twill, poplin or linen, so I immediately thought to use Fabric Mart's amazing designer linen. I have used this linen before (see here) and I knew it would be the perfect texture and weight. For that reason selecting the fabric was the easy part, the tricky part was deciding on a color! I mean, come on, there are 23 colors to choose from! At first I was going to go with bright orange just like the envelope model is wearing (we're about the same complexion so I thought why not?), then cycled through the avocado (because I've wanted to use it for a while), purple (because it is one of my favorite colors) and sunflower (because it looked so summery!) Obviously I decided on this bright red because it is one of my favorite colors and my husband loves it on me.



On to the sewing...at first glance the pattern looked a tad advanced and I was surprised Vogue categorizes it as average. However after constructing the dress I realized Vogue was right, there was nothing in the construction of  this dress that I had not done before. I read over the instructions more closely than usual and followed them for particular steps however as typical for me, I constructed the dress all out of order.


I wasn't sure what size to cut as my actual measurement are 38", 35", 42" give or take and I fell between a 16 and a 18. I decided to start with the lining to test the fitting. I often do this as to not waste my main fabric if I'm wrong and if all goes well my lining is done! I graded from a size 16 at the shoulder and bust to a size 18 at the waist and hip. When I test fit the front bodice and skirt I decided the 18 was about 1/2" too large and decided to cut the 16. At that point I took in the skirt and discarded the front bodice (as it is to be self lined).

1. Attach one side of zipper to right side of back band
2. Grab the back band lining
3. Place lining piece over outer piece lining up edges and pin
4. Sew around the back band leaving side open for turning

The bodice is simple and I think you could use lining fabric if you prefer as long as it is close in color and you press your garment well and understitch to ensure the lining doesn't peek out. The back band was simple as well though I veered away from the pattern instructions to eliminate any hand sewing. After attaching the zipper to the right side of the band band the instructions have you fold over and press the seam allowances on the zipper side of both the band and band lining before sewing the top and bottom edges finishing with hand sewing the inner band at the zipper. Instead I simply placed the band lining RSF over the band main fabric, sewed along the perimeter being careful to to hit the zipper teeth and leaving the band side open for turning. That way you can eliminate the hand sewing.

Where I re-positioned the back band on the side bodice.

Thankfully I remembered to do another test fit of the bodice before joining the self lining. I had way too much give in the back band. I suppose I should have cut a size 14 bodice instead of a 16. The fix was easy, I simply ripped out the stitches and moved the band over as well as changed the angle pinned and tried it back on. Thankfully my first attempt was pretty much dead on.



EDIT: ...or so I thought, I didn't notice how tight the back band was until I took these pictures. Sigh the disadvantage of looking over your shoulder at a mirror and going by feel. The tightness made me feel supported in the front but it unfortunately caused my back fat to spill out. Next time I will cut a 16 bodice front but a 14 back band and keep the 16 skirt. Carry on....




Next up was the skirt which I was dreading simply because I hate transferring all the marking necessary for pleats and there are quite a few on this skirt. Honestly though once I started I was done in no time. I originally wondered why there was a top and bottom skirt piece, it looked to me like that it could have just one front and back piece. I believe I understand why now. The top front and back top skirt piece is interfaced and that makes the skirt really stand out. If you cut one piece the fullness of the pleats would be lost. The skirt sewed up in less time than it took me to transfer all the skirt markings.


Since my lining was already finished it was all a breezed from here. I just sandwiched the bodice between the skirt and the skirt lining, understitched the skirt and hemmed. ALL DONE!


Despite my issue with the back band, I love this dress. This linen is absolutely amazing! I love the bright color, the texture, the hand, the weight...everything. Make sure you grab some, it's perfect for summer dresses, tunics, wide legged pants and more!


~ Tiffany

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Made By A Fabricista: Mommy & Me Maxi Dress and Hi-Lo Dress

HI Fashionistas:

This month I made another mommy and me dress.

I did a franken-pattern with the bodice of McCalls M7121 and the skirt of McCalls M7386.

At first I wanted to make a maxi dress for myself, but as I got into the construction of the garment, I wanted to be able to wear just the maxi skirt, so I ended up making 2 pieces, that can give the illusion of a dress when worn together belted.

This first look is quite summery. I plan on wearing it to our upcoming family trip. The fabric is a 4 way stretch knit that is 92% tactel Nylon Microfiber and 8 % lycra. This fabric comes in a couple different colors and can be found HERE. Look for the items from designer, JudyP Apparel. Or search JudyP Apparel in the search box on our website.


Side view if I wore these as a 2 piece. I ended up putting in a facing on the skirt since I decided to keep it as a skirt instead of sewing it to the bodice:



If I wear this as a one piece, I use the facing of the skirt as a waist band, so instead of being tucked into the skirt, it is flipped up above the skirt and tucked in under the bodice. Then I am able to belt it and Voila! It looks and feels like a one piece dress!


The best part about this fabric is how breathable it is. I did not feel hot in it, even with a self lined bodice. The fabric moves so beautiful. Isn't that the true pleasure of wearing a maxi?


Here is the back view



Side view:


I also made a  high-low dress for my daughter. I ordered 3 yards of the fabric and it was just enough! Here is a simple A-line dress with a high-low hem and some ruffles on the neck!


So much love from this munchkin! 



I truly enjoyed making these dresses and I do hope that you enjoyed reading about them!

I am making some more mommy and me dresses for our vacation. I hope you are having a lovely spring! See you next month.

XOXO

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: The Cold Shoulder Top


Hey, guys!  I'm baaaaack!  And look at me, I am totally on trend with my sassy new cold shoulder top.  I have never put one of these sort of tops on my body ever in my life until I finished sewing this one, I had no clue if I'd even like it.  Surprise, I think I do?!  


I used a pattern from BurdaStyle magazine-- it's 3/2017 #116.  I cut my usual size 42 to fit my shoulders, and of course no grading for a fuller hip on this flowy and roomy top.  I added 1" to the hem of the bodice to account for my slightly taller height at about 5'8".  The sleeves and bodice are very, very, very full and loose, perfect for stupid hot summer days to come.   




I chose this double border rayon challis print.  I was so nervous I'd ruin everything with my pattern matching, so I ordered 3 yards.  Likely I only needed 2 1/4 at most considering I was able to take advantage of the fact it was a double border... each side was a mirror image of each other.  See the pic on the right, you can see how the pattern is actually printed on the material.  Lots of leeway for those who may be anxious when matching prints up like this.


I looove sewing with rayon challis.  Initially, I need to wrangle it since it's so slippery--I need to be careful to cut it perfectly straight as I prepare the pattern pieces with my rotary cutter.  But it goes through my serger and sewing machine so nicely.  It presses up beautifully-- which makes hemming super easy.  Pre-washing IS CRITICAL since it will shrink up some. And I severely dislike ironing if it's not associated with sewing.  Usually I can toss it in the wash, then remove it from the dryer immediately and hang it for a wrinkly free garment. It'll be a hot wrinkly mess if I leave it in the dryer for any length of time after it's done tumbling. 


I was (sort of) surprised that the Burda directions fail to include understitching for neck or shoulder pieces.  But then again, it's Burda, infamous for half-@ssed directions.  This top is pretty easy to sew up, but it would seem to be frustrating for a newer seamstress to have only partial directions.

Overall, I'm pleased with this trendy look.  I was mostly worried it would look like a weird pregnant top that adds mega pounds to a figure.  I think it's not particularly slimming for sure, but it's super cute none-the-less.

Happy Sewing!!
~Kathy
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