Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Maxi Dress for a Cancelled Vacation

Back in February/March I stopped all winter sewing and begin my spring/summer sewing. I was determined to get a head start on spring! I'm usually one to sew for the season, but with a vacation to Las Vegas the first week in May, I knew I needed summery items sooner than later and I was going to get them done well in advance! 


I have had McCall's 6744 in my pattern stash for a long time was waiting on just the right fabric to use it with. Then came along some fabulous ITY knit prints from Tori Richard, and I was set! (They are mostly all sold out now, but check out our ITY Knit selection for other great prints.) Many of you probably bought this exact print! 


I wanted to be very particular about getting the fit of the top part right. I love wearing wrap-style dresses but find that they grow in the bust. Sometimes it is because of an ill-fit and sometimes it's the construction. I did a rough tissue fit of the top. I cut out a size medium, which goes along with my HIGH BUST measurement. The fit was good and it didn't seem like the front would gap very much. I still tacked the front because I hate even the slightest gapping. I also shorten the top portion 1/2" to allow it to sit in a more flattering area of my waist. 

If you do get gapping in the front of a wrap-style garment, I recommend tissue fitting first. You may need to do a full bust adjustment. You also may need to add stay tape to the front to keep it from growing. 

Other adjustments I made:
- forward shoulder adjustment 
I added 1" to the hip area since my measurements did not match up to a medium on the bottom. 

I really like the gathered sleeve look. It's not too bulky and adds something interesting to a basic wrap maxi dress. 



The skirt has a front slit, which I didn't get the most flattering picture to show it off, but oh well. You get the idea! I added a belt from my closet -- couldn't believe it matched the fabric so well! Otherwise I would say that this dress is straightforward and easy to make. I think it took me an afternoon from cutting to finishing. 


I wish I would have gotten photos of myself wearing the dress in Las Vegas, but as we all know life throws you curves sometimes. It didn't get cancelled because of anything bad, but because I found out...I was pregnant! This is my first pregnancy and I had no idea how my body was going to be. Was I going to have morning sickness or not? Was it going to be horrible, who knows?? I felt more comfortable cancelling it than taking the chance of not feeling well in-flight and on vacation. (I was using points for the flight, therefore they were refundable. And the hotel was refundable too. Yay!)

These photos were taken back in early April when I was about 7 weeks along. I got morning sickness, but not quite as bad as some stories I hear. I was super tired and all I wanted to do was lay around. I was feeling decent the day these photos were taken but it took a lot of effort! I definitely had food aversions and sense of smell was heightened. (I even had to change out the scented soap in our bathroom because it bothered me too much!) 

Since finding out I was pregnant, I haven't had a chance to do a lot of sewing. Between trying to finish a double wedding ring quilt, a malfunctioning serger, sleeping and trying to keep up with the essential housecleaning tasks, I was too tired to sew! (Ok, I was 3/4 of the way done with the quilt but it has been a project that would come in and out of the closet for the past 7 years! All hand-cut pieces and then machine sewed. The days I felt good enough to sew I knocked out this labor of love!) (AND the good thing that came out of a malfunctioning serger-- a new serger AND coverstitch machine!) I guess I shouldn't have too many complaints right about now!


I leave you with this-- as I write this, I am 18 weeks along and feeling SO much better! I'm feeling a lot more normal, just slightly bigger in the tummy. My energy has returned but I still take it easy as to not overdo it -- doctor's orders! AND two days ago we found out the gender! It's a.....BOY! We're beyond excited and have a lot of work ahead of us to get prepped for baby boy. 

Here is one of our pregnancy announcement photos. Baby B as we call him, is due in November right around Thanksgiving. We're so excited and feel very blessed!! 

My husband is a food blogger (Berks County Eats) so his shirt is very fitting for him. He actually came up with the idea! 


My future sewing plans consist of maternity clothes and loose fitting items that I can alter after the pregnancy as my body changes. No fitted clothes for me right now!! I also hope to sew a few things for baby boy!

Happy Sewing!
Julie

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Made for Mom


This month's post features a special person, my mom! Everyone says we are twins. We don't see it but we've heard it enough that we just accept it. However, we do concede that we share some of the same mannerisms, traits and tastes. Fashion is one thing we typically agree on, so I'm pretty sure that I'll be dressing like her in another 30 years.


As soon as I saw Vogue 1550 I thought of my mom. It just screamed MOM! She had recently shared that she needed a few outfits for a summer trip and I knew this look would be perfect for her.  I am typically a pretty selfish sewer but this summer I've set aside some time to sew for my immediate family.
I have to say I really love Vogue's Summer 2017 patterns as proven by the fact this is the third one I've sewn up (See V9259 and V1546). The recommended fabric is linen which happens to be one of her favorites so using Fabric Mart's Designer Quality Linen was a no-brainer. The only question was color. She desired a summery blue and narrowed it down to Ocean Blue and Sky Blue before selecting Sky Blue.

Bound Facing
The pattern itself was very straight forward (just 4 pattern pieces) but as usual for a designer Vogue pattern it included some finer finishing touches, like bias tape for facings edges. There is a pattern piece for this but I opted to purchase some pre-made bias tape in a complimentary color. I also took it a step further and enclosed all the seams to protect the linen from fraying.

Mitered Corner
Another extra touch was the hemming technique for the side and bottom of the top which produced these beautiful mitered corners. I worried I may have some issues with the step but after reading the instructions a few times I was fine. They turned out great (especially for a first try) and I think I will look for other opportunities to utilize this hem.




Lastly the front inset was a tad tricky. It is difficult to see on the envelope photos (I can barely see it on View A) but there is a slim inset along the front center. This can be highlighted by using a contrast color but I decided against that and thank goodness I did! The center band isn't difficult to install per se, but it is cut on the bias which made it difficult for me to get a straight seam as the band itself was stretching. This isn't very noticeable in my finished project, but would have stuck out terribly had I used a contrast color for the band. Going forward I will consider omitting the band altogether or cutting the band along the grain. 


My mom wants the shorter tunic and the pants so I still have some work to do. I am glad she loves it!



Until next time...
Tiffany


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Made By A Fabricistas: Summer Staples

Hi Fashionistas!

Summer is in full effect and we have had some really hot days.

I sewed up a couple quick summer tops. I wanted something basic but cute, to wear with shorts, skirts, or jeans. So I decided on two summer tops. The first one is in a gray jersey knit. This fabric is so soft and comfortable. I ordered one yard and that was enough and I have a little bit leftover fabric.



This is seriously the most comfortable thing in my wardrobe right now. 

I self-drafted this top. The drafting took about 30 minutes. The sleeves are dolman, which means there is no setting in the sleeve, which also makes the sewing very quick. 


Also, I  love the clean cover stitch on here.  I used my Brother Coverstitch machine, which I absolutely love and have been using for over two years


I drafted cuffs for the sleeves and a band for the waist.


Here is the back view. I made the neckline on the front and back exactly the same, and gave it a boat neck shape, which is one of my favorite.



Now moving on to the next top, I also made a white top in a white french terry. This was my 1st time working with a french terry. It is also very soft and is a stable knit. It is thicker, more like a double knit.

Since this fabric had more structure, I decided to play with the sleeves a bit, and create some pleats/gathers.  I call them pleats/ gathers because although they are technically pleats facing up, they look more like gathers because the fabric is a knit. This same pattern manipulation on a woven would look very structured, like pleats.


I chose the McCalls M6886 pattern and changed up the sleeves and the hem, and also turned the dress into a top. I do this often. 


I did a curved hem. 


On the sleeves and neck, I once again used my Brother Coverstitch machine, which I highly recommend. 


I hope you enjoyed reading about my latest makes. Next I am working on creating a custom dressform cover for myself. A custom dressform is something I have wanted for a very long time. I'll be sewing up my custom shell using this online class on Craftsy, but instead of using a commercial pattern, I plan on creating my shell from my custom sloper, which can be drafted using this Bodice Sloper Class

So lots of sewing and fitting for me in the near future, but a custom dressform has been a life long dream :) I'll share my progress with you once that is done.

See you in July!
XOXO

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Summer Sleepwear Set



What could be better on a June day than having breakfast outside in your favorite pajamas and robe?  Enjoying the sounds of the birds and the wind in the trees.  Ahh... bliss. 


When I think about how much time I spend in my pajamas and robe, I realize that I get more wear out of them, than any other items in my wardrobe!  I made these summer pajamas two years ago, and have worn them out, so it's time to make a new set!  I wanted something super light and airy, and all natural fibers, so I chose an embroidered cotton voile for the robe and shorts, and a dusty pink linen knit for the top. For the pattern, I used McCalls 5769, a now out of print pattern, but a good one if you can find it.



Let's start with the robe. This is a really basic pattern with dropped shoulders, a tie, pockets and a band. Super simple, and even a beginner could make this.


I used a narrow double fold bias tape in light blue all around the front band, pocket top, and cuffs.  This is actually much easier than piping.  You just put it over the edge and stitch in it place.  One package was enough for the whole robe.


You can see how unique this fabric is- the flowers are almost painted on like a watercolor, and then they are outlined in a chain stitch embroidery. Really soft and pretty!


I always use a lightweight interfacing in pockets- it stops them from stretching out and eliminates any show through on a thin fabric.


Next, on to the top. The pattern was designed for woven fabric, but I had a knit, so I used a size smaller than I normally would take, and that worked well. I had a small roll of stretch lace that I had purchased for a different project and it wasn't the right color for it. Imagine my delight when I saw this fabric was a perfect match for this fabric!  So, I used it on the neckline and hem. 



I used two strips of Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, which is a double sided lightweight adhesive to adhere it, instead of stitching. After you remove the paper backing, it's clear. And a nice bonus, it serves as the hem edge, so I just made sure that the lace covered up the lower edge.


This fabric was very stretchy, and without any lycra for recovery, so I knew that stabilizing the neck edge was going to be a challenge.  I fused a small strip of 1/4" wide interfacing to the back neck edge.  I decided to line the bodice front and back for modesty, as the fabric is also quite sheer.
 

For the underarm edge that wasn't covered by the sleeve, I used a single fold bias tape, folded to the inside, which also stabilized the armhole.



I had just enough fabric left over from the robe to make a pair of shorts to match. Since the fabric is so lightweight, I only needed 1/4" wide elastic at the waistband.

I also made a test garment out of a white cotton knit to make sure that the top pattern was going to work for me.  It turned out pretty well too! On this one, I sewed on strips of lace around the neck and just under the bodice. Then, I also used the ruffle piece at the underbust, and used a lettuce edge finish.



I wish that I could tell you that this was fast, but it was not!  These details do take some time, but they also elevate it to something nicer than your standard sleep shirt.


I really love my new sleepwear set!  Because the fabrics are so lightweight, it will be easy to pack up and travel with too.


It's going to be tempting to wear this all day around the house. I would never be able to find something that I liked even half as much in a store, which is just one of the many reasons of why I love to sew!


Ann 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Going Vintage for a Great Fitted Pair of Shorts.


I usually spend my sewing time sewing up pretty little floral frocks, but I do know that one of my most worn makes ever was a pair of pants I made for this blog way back in November of 2015. The ponte pants I made for that post have been worn all over the world and for all sorts of occasions. I knew I wanted some of that magic in a pair of shorts, so my idea for this month's post was born.


When I first spied this Vogue 9189 shorts and pants pattern, a reissued pattern from 1960, I had to buy it.  It's high-waisted, long leg (on Version B) is such a unique style for shorts, and it is really hard to find shorts like this, and even harder to find ones that are long enough in both the leg AND the crotch curve to suit my frame. I knew I would definitely be altering its crotch curve to my personal curves (I still have my original pattern I altered from the November 2015 post), so I knew it would fit me no matter what.  Plus the pattern has three height variations, petite, average, and tall.  I am very solidly in the tall length.  They do alter the pattern pieces, and you can tell even before cutting the fabric, that the petite is truly a petite, and not just a pants pattern that has been shortened in just the legs.  (The overall pattern is reduced!)


I had seen a suiting fabric in Julie's Picks for May that would work for this pattern, a stretchy very dark navy blue rayon blend with a bit of heft.  Upon receiving it I realized that the fabric had a bit of sheen to it, and though it is pretty, I don't need the extra pizzaz at the hip and thigh level, so I went with the more matte side, and it is exactly what I wanted.  The stretch from the fabric was very high, so I had to make sure to interface the waistband with a no stretch interfacing in order to have some structure there. The legs and hips are nice and flexible, though, and for this pear-shaped lady, that is exactly what I wanted!

This particular fabric is a fray friendly sort, so I almost exclusively used my serger, barring the pockets, zip, waistband finishing, and hems.  Because I wanted to keep the stretch on the pant leg hem, I went ahead and finished those with a zigzag stitch (it works!).  :-)

The pattern only needed a few minor adjustments to work for my crotch curve, which made my job easier.  I converted the size 16 to work for me, but made sure to use and grade the hips to the waist to a 14 since my waist is much smaller than my hips.  The waist is fairly small, though, it only measures at 30" in the size 14.  Now granted, this is a pair of shorts that means "above your waist" when they speak of waist (read really really really high-waisted), but if you do have a larger waist in proportion to your frame, you may need to adjust the waist to fit you properly.


I really like the style of the shorts, but did not really enjoy the process of making the lapped zipper for the side seam.  It turned out fine, and the pocket and zip lay flat when worn, but I think next time I will just install an invisible back zip with a button closure at the back seam. I just prefer those and also find them easier to install.  But it was an interesting process, and one I can check off my sewing "have done" list.  The Vogue pattern instructions have not been updated from their 1960 copy.  They even want you to sew in your interfacing at the waistband. I gave that one instruction a "nope," but did all the other ones exactly as instructed. I even managed to find a vintage zip from my stash that was the right measurement and even was "recommended" for exactly what I was trying to do (see the photo above).


I really love how the waistband turned out.  It looks tidy, neat, and as professional as this lady is capable of making. The button closure is really sweet and special-looking, too!

The top is made from a open weave cotton blend sweater knit, and I had visions of this easy to wear simple, short-sleeved sweater.  Well, it does meet those criteria, but the neckband was very difficult to make work, and while I know the pattern (Simplicity 8336) itself works for the sweater, I needed to do something else for the neckline.  In the end I applied the neckband, saw it was standing away from the neck, and I turned it back in on itself and stitched it down.  It works better, and doesn't stand away from my neck, but I had to put a lot of effort into the construction of the top.  I think I may undo the stitch right at the center front, and instead continue the stitching as I had for the back neckline.  I hadn't realized how visible the stitch was at the center front, and though the neckline stitching around the neck will show, it will be a continuous line as opposed to a easy to see singular element.

I am pleased with the top (which I sewed up in a size small), though, and will wear it when I need just that right top with that right skirt or short.  I do like how cropped it is, and because the shorts are so high-waisted, it is a perfect match.


I will be on the lookout for more cotton open weave sweater knits.  I can tell you that for all the minor struggles I had making the top, it is awesomely comfortable and wonderfully cool for an area such as mine with high heat and humidity all summer long.

I do encourage those of you who decide to sew cotton loose weave sweater knits to consider using a serger for all seams and finishes.  This fabric frayed quite a bit, so I had to have a very careful hand when working with it, and though you could enclose all the seams in binding, the serger makes quick work of finishing the seams and definitely keeps the knit fabric from fraying.

I look forward to wearing my shorts just as much as I have my perfect pants!  I hope to rename these shorts to "perfect shorts."  I'll post all my outfits on my Instagram and I fully anticipate at least a few appearances of these shorts this summer.  :-)

What is the one thing you've sewn that you wear all the time?  I am very interested to see what yours is!