Saturday, February 25, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Dare to Bare


When the Vogue Spring '17 patterns were released I knew I had to have and sew V1531. I was hot off the success of another vogue dress pattern (my little red dress from last month) so another fitted dress was appealing. I really loved the versatile cowl neck but the open back is definitely what won me over.

Vogue 1531 (Vogue Patterns)

The recommended fabrics listed are wool crepe, ponte knit and crepe-back satin. Since a shipment of David's Bridal Satin had just hit the website, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and use a fabric I wasn't too familiar with. There are several colors to choose from - violet magenta, scarlet red, hunter green and more - but I ultimately decided on this rich azure blue. I love this bright, bold blue!


I also chose this David's Bridal stretch lining as I knew these would work well with the satin because both listed 10% selvage to selvage stretch. If you want the snag the last bit of the azure satin, consider the blueberry stretch lining (this wasn't an option when I ordered).




On to the sewing. Off the bat there were a few things that concerned me about this pattern.
1) I wasn't sure that the satin (though luxurious) was really the right fabric for this dress. Mainly because of the wrong side showing in the cowl.
2) I'm not sure why there is a center front seam on the skirt. It seems unnecessary and a distraction. Maybe not as much in a ponte but in satin it is staring you in the face.
3) Will my back fat show?



Despite my reservations I went for it.The basic dress construction was simple. I used the instructions as reference but I completed the steps out of order. I started with the skirt and skirt lining because I wasn't quite sure how much ease I needed with the minimal stretch fabric. I cut an 18 but should have cut a 16 as I ended up taking in at least 1/2" in both side seams (I'm a 41-42" hip). Next the bodice, whipping up both the bodice and the bodice lining were quite simple. I wasn't initially aware that the bodice was self lined. I'm not quite sure that this is necessary but I'm assuming they added it because of the chance you would see it in the open back detail. If you understitch correctly I don't believe that would be a problem. Still I like it because the satin is very soft against your skin.



Things were going along rather smoothly until I got to the cowl. The cowl itself was a breeze as it's just a tube, however the bias tape (used to give the cowl seam a finished look) gave me a headache. Perhaps this was due to the fact I've never made my own bias tape before or maybe it was because I was working with satin that didn't press well when it came to folding the bias tape. To me the strip seemed too narrow and because I had a difficult time pressing it, it was a pain to apply to the seam allowance. I would have rather used store bought bias tape (though that wasn't really an option) or honestly just used a flat felled seam. I'm sure they were trying to eliminate stitching lines on the exterior of the cowl while keeping the interior clean.  Alternatively, I thought about just self lining the entire cowl. I will do this if/when I make this dress again but I could already tell the satin was not going to drape as it should and an extra layer would not help.

Front Cowl, Back Cowl, Hooded
Once I got the cowl, the bias tape, the facing and the drawstring completed I moved on the attaching the lining to the main dress and cowl. Sewing the neckline together was straightforward, but what I couldn't quite get was how to close the armscye. I referred the instructions after concluding that I wasn't sure how to proceed. Neither the instructions or the illustrations for this process made any sense to me. Now hopefully they will to you, but to me it was like a foreign language. AT THIS POINT I wanted to throw this dress out the window. I tried to sew the armscye as I typically do in lined dress but this trapped the cowl in a seam and wouldn't allow me to turn the dress right side out. So I pulled out my seam ripper and tried again. After another two attempts I think I finally got what the instructions were saying. You have to sew the bodice front to bodice front lining together starting at the side seam and go up about 3, repeat for the back and back lining, repeat again for the other side, then flip the whole dress right side out and slip stitch the remaining opening shut. I would honestly have to sew this dress again just to figure out how to do that again and I might.  If I do I will definitely do a photo or video tutorial.

Front Cowl, Back Cowl, Hooded

After I made it through that process every thing else was a breeze. I installed an invisible zipper and hemmed the skirt and was finally done.

Going back to my initial concerns.
1) All in all I absolutely love this luscious stretch satin, but sadly it wasn't the right fabric for this dress. Only because of the cowl, it would sew up a very luxe sheath dress. The fabric, for me, just doesn't have the right drape for all the cowl looks I wanted to explore. It works fine for the hooded look or the drape front, but it doesn't play nicely with the back drape or off the shoulder variations. I would make this dress again in a lighter fabric and other that doesn't have a distinguishable "right side".
2) I did find the center front skirt seam useless, I would remove the 5/8" seam allowance and cut on the fold next time.
3) On a PLUS side my back fat does not show!!!


Now please don't take this review as negative for the pattern or the fabric. I love both just not together. I'm thinking of making the dress again maybe out of the suggested crepe or a lightweight ponte. I would however make some changes like eliminating the front skirt seam, removing the vent flap and eliminating the drawstring. The satin is also fabulous and I think I want to whip up a dressy bomber jacket with it.

~ Tiffany

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Mixing Business with Pleasure


Hello…

Hope all is well!  As spring approaches, I cannot help but get excited about all of the fun dresses and looks that I want to sew.  I have already planned out a long list of “to-makes” and my hope is that I will find enough time and energy in the day (or night) to get at least 50% of my sewing “to-makes” done.  

To get started on dresses, I made a version of Simplicity 1881 and the Morris Blazer by Grainline Studios.  My initial intent was to style these two pieces together.  However, after finishing both pieces, I decided the look was not working for me.  I felt the dress could stand alone and wasn’t made to be covered, and the blazer deserved its own spotlight as well.  Therefore, my plans changed at the last minute.  I used a big scrap of the bow tie print fabric to make a skirt to wear with the blazer instead of the dress.  I made the skirt using New Look 6035.


So let me talk about the fabric!  I am excited to see that Fabric Mart is offering a lot of options for fabric made with viscose.  Many of the RTW clothing items that I love seem to have some level of viscose content.  So when I saw this black ponte knit made with viscose, nylon, and lycra, I hopped on the opportunity to get it.  Viscose can be found in several other types of fabric such as this crepe here, this jacquard here, this jersey knit here, and this suiting here.  I also picked up a few yards of this super cute yellow and black bow tie print ponte knit found here.  I wanted to make the blazer and bodice of the dress in black and make the bottom of the dress in this print. 

After seeing the final looks, I thought to myself I created a “work” look and a “fun, happy hour” look, with the same fabric for both, which made me think of the phrase “mixing business with pleasure”!



Ok, let’s first start with business.  The Morris blazer is definitely a quick and easy sew.  This pattern is designed for an unlined blazer using either stretch woven or a mid-weight knit.  Therefore, my fabric choice was perfect!  I really like the slanted blazer front and the top-stitching along the entire blazer.  



With this fabric, I found that a ball needle 80 worked so much better than a stretch needle.  I used scraps of the fabric to make capped sleeves on another project with a stretch needle and I found that the stretch needle skipped a lot of stitches.  To top-stitch, I used a small stitch width zig-zag, so that the top-stitching would have the appearance of having a straight stitch look versus a very noticeable “Z” shaped stitch.  For the seams, I zig-zagged then serged.



The skirt was very easy to sew.  The skirt front and back uses the same pattern piece and there is one pattern piece for the back and one for the front waistband.  The pattern is designed to have the zipper on the side, but I moved it to the back.  Therefore, I cut the back into two pieces and added seam allowance to insert the zipper. For the most part, I usually switch side zippers to the back, because it is easier for me to take the sides in. 


Now moving on to a little pleasure…this dress makes me feel soooo good! I love the flowy, effortless, and chic look of this dress.  


The shoulder seams poke up a bit, which I am sure can be fixed with a little more snipping of my seams on the inside and pressing.  I believe I left too much excess bulk in my seams.  It is an easy fix.  Just a matter of undo-ing a little of the top-stitching and snipping a little more seam allowance out.



I love the keyhole, gathered bust, and waist details of the bodice.  The pattern instructions advise to cut the lining for the waist in tricot, but I went ahead and lined the entire bodice with tricot instead of fabric.  In this instance, the bodice would have been too bulky using the fabric for the lining too. Besides, I was down to scrap fabric pieces anyway.  Interestingly, I re-purposed tricot that my grandmother had started making a slip out of a very long time ago.   


Now this dress has a side zipper.  As a learning lesson, I left the zipper on the side, because I was interested in learning how to construct a side zip that has lining and stops midway in the garment. Luckily, I did not need to adjust this dress at all on the side bodice, so it worked out.



Instead of using two buttons, I used one small frog closure on the back of the collar.  


Last year, I donated one of my sewing machines along with a narrow hem foot.  I could never quite grasp the hang of that foot, so I gave up on it.  However, I have a few things that I want to do where a narrow hem foot would make my projects and life so much better.  So I decided it was time to give it another try.  I picked up a new one recently, which is referred to as a rolled hem foot, and decided to try it out on this dress.  To my surprise, it worked with no issues!  One of the you-tubers that I watched pointed out that the key is keeping the fabric folded and touching a certain spot on the foot while it is rolling through it.  Sometimes little simple tips can make all the difference.  Now I can’t wait to get the narrow hemmer for chiffon, silk, and like fabrics, I have so much of that type of fabric that I can’t wait to work with!


Well off to think about what I want to do for next month’s Fabricista Fabric Mart Blog post, until then, happy sewing!

Yours truly,


Tee


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Meditation on Mauve


I've always found the color "mauve" to be a little mysterious.  Is it pink?  Is it purple?  Is it brown?  Is it gray?  Whenever I read about color analysis, mauve is one of the recommended colors for me (a summer), so I thought I should find out a little more about it.   The first thing that I found out, is that I've been mispronouncing it my entire life.  It is not "mahv", but "mov" with a long o, as in stove or clove.  I'm already feeling a little more sophisticated!   According to Wikipedia, mauve was named after a pale purple flower called the mallow flower.  It's use didn't become popular until 1859 when a chemist trying to make a cure for malaria noticed a residue that ended up becoming a mauve dye.  The 1890's are referred to as the "mauve decade" because of it's popularity!

I ordered several different fabrics to experiment with that all had mauve in the names.  You can see that they range in colors from kind of a pinkish brown to a dusty purple. There really is spectrum, but they all are a little "dusty" in nature.



I started with the cotton jersey, which has subtle silver metallic accents on it.  It's a lightweight and firm cotton jersey, so I thought that it would work well with something that required ruching or gathering, such as this Lisette pattern which is Butterick 6411.


Here you can see the silver accents a little better. I really love the ruched overlay in this design, and it's quite cleverly constructed- much easier than it looks. I'd like to try it again in a solid knit.



However, the dress is a little thin to wear by itself for winter, so I used this dusty mauve wool jersey to make a cardigan to go along with it.  This jersey is something else- very, very high end, IMHO.  It's hard to tell from the photos online, but when I got this in the mail, I knew that I had hit the jackpot! The description says that it is made in Italy.  I knew that I didn't want just any old boring cardigan pattern for such a special fabric, so I hunted through my stash and found this one:  Simplicity 2148.  This is an out of print pattern, but I really love the details on it- the flared cuffs, the angled hem, and the ruffle detail around the neckline.



The little ruffle trim is made by cutting a large circle out of the fabric, and then cutting a 1-inch wide spiral out of the circle.  Then you run two rows of gathering stitches and pull it until you get a nice ruffle.  I also ironed on some sequins before I gathered it.  I've been watching Zelda (TV series about Zelda Fitzgerald), and have been inspired by the 20's fashions to use a little glitz here and there.  I know that I'm going to get a lot of use out of this cardigan. 


The honeycomb knit, also is a wool knit, but a little heavier than the jersey, and I thought it would be nice in a more fitted dress.   I used McCalls 7469, which is a Nicole Miller design with a boatneck. I liked everything about the pattern- the pockets, the interesting seams, the 3/4 sleeves, except I've never been a big fan of boatnecks.  So, I altered it to be a scoopneck, by lowering the front neckline about 2-1/2 inches using a french curve.   I also made this scarf from one of Fabric Mart's silk chiffons, and it is one of my favorites. 


After it was finished, I thought it was looking a little plain, so I used 7 iron-on gem cluster sets around the neckline as well.  This was surprisingly easy- just peel, stick and iron for about 5 seconds on the wrong side of the fabric. 



Even though the cardigan and dress are different shades of mauve, I think that this dress also works with the cardigan pretty well.  Here are the details a little closer up.


My last fabric was the faille which was a cotton poly blend.  I haven't worked with a faille before, and wasn't sure what to expect.  It turned out to be very stiff and rather shiny.  I washed it a couple of times and the end result was very similar to a washed silk dupioni.  It was less stiff, but still pretty firm, and had a rougher texture to it than before.  This was kind of a wild card in my mind, so I decided to go out on a limb and make into Kwik Sew 3577.

This isn't really my typical style at all, so I can't say that I'm going to wear this one.  First, I think it's too big, and second, the fabric creases too easily for my taste.


My daughter says that I look like I should be giving a speech.  I say I look like I should be serving drinks on a PanAm flight.  Neither of which will ever happen, so I don't know what I'll do with this one!  It might be my styling- the scarf is vintage 1960's and belonged to my Mom- I really wanted to work it in.  Maybe I'll separate the pieces and use them individually somehow.  I'd love to hear your suggestions on this!


But there is a silver lining because I realize that I really do like the color of this fabric- I find it to be a very calming color.  It is more of a mauve taupe, and it definitely could serve as a good neutral for my coloring when looking for fabrics in the future.  This has been a good impetus for me to experiment with different colors.


At the end of every photo shoot, my photographer demands a latte.  A great way to relax and enjoy a little more mauve! 

Happy sewing!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Designer Hack: Thakoon Flocked Sweatshirt

I love when we get designer fabrics. I love it for a few reasons --
1) I love the photo hunt to see what the designer made with it.
2) I love the excitement that the customers get.
3) I love trying to figure out how to use a fabric when it is unusual, such as a panel or border.
4) I love saying that, "This fabric is from XYZ designer and I made my own version of the garment!"


We recently imported a load of fabric from Thakoon. I had heard of Thakoon, but was not too familiar with his designs. Thakoon is Thai-American and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. His designs are described as "timelessly feminine" and "romantic and sensual as they are modern and innovative. (Thanks to Wikipedia for that info.) His designs have been worn by numerous celebrities and carry a high price tag.

I was intrigued by this cotton sweatshirt knit with a flocked floral design. It is a panel and honestly, at first glance, didn't seem to have a great layout. The flowers are about 24" inches apart, not leaving you with a lot of room to cut something without getting another flower in the pattern piece.

I browsed images found under "Thakoon sweatshirt" on Google, and don't you know, I found it! The original sweatshirt design has a dropped shoulder, back opening with a contrasting insert and piecing that skews the flocked design. I really liked the skewed piece work -- it helped break up this romantic floral and made it edgier.


One thing I didn't like about it was the boxiness. I am not tall and skinny. Boxy tops, especially in heavier fabrics, do not look good on me. I look like a box on sticks. You'll see how I reworked that in a minute.

I decided to go with a TNT pattern for me -- Pamela's Patterns Perfect T-Shirt. (If you remember, in the summer of 2016, we hosted a series of t-shirt pattern hacks.) I normally use the darted front with this pattern, but didn't want to mess up the flocked flower with a dart, so I went with the regular front piece.



To start off this project, I had to figure out how they cut everything out. It looks like two flocked pieces were used. I had 3 panels to play with and would recommend you buy the same amount if you want to do this project. You won't use all of it, but you need 3 panels for the length of the shirt. Panels are cut in between the two flowers. The fabric is available HERE.

I started with the front piece and laid it so the flocked flower was in the torso area. The shoulder area ended up really close to the flocked flower above it. I traced one side of the shirt, then laid the pattern piece down to create the second half. When I traced the pattern, I made it less curvy and a bit wider at the base. I wanted a looser fit than my normal t-shirts.

If you look close at the original design, there is a seam going down the right front side of the shirt. To create that, I traced the neckline and half the shoulder seam. Then I shifted the entire pattern piece over to create about 1/2" extra width from the shoulder to the hem. That way, I could just fold it, sew it and get back to the original size of the pattern. (I didn't fold and sew though until I skewed the hem piece.)

Here you can see I have everything cut out, except for the one side. I needed to leave enough fabric so that when I cut the bottom half where the skewed piece will be, that there was enough fabric.


Time to start cutting up this shirt! I measured 8 1/2" from the hemline and marked. This is where I then cut across the shirt to skew the bottom.

I moved the bottom piece over about 5 1/2" inches, skewing the flower.

End result: 

Then I sewed them back together and cut off the excess on each side. Remember the vertical seam? I sewed that in after this step was finished.

Back Piece: 
I actually didn't realize that the back on the original was opened when I started. (Can you tell I was figuring it out as I go??) I really liked this idea, so I took the back pieces and found a good spot on the fabric for them. One half I kept solid. The other half I positioned the flocked flower. I had it coming off the edge for interest. The shoulder area also caught a piece of a flower! I added length to the back pieces and graded them to the length of the front to get a high-low hem.

To create an open back, I added 1" to the center back pieces for finishing.



I fused SewkeysE 1" Fusible Knit Stay Tape to the wrong side of the center back seams to stabilize it and help it from winging out when I wear it. After the back seam was finished, I basted at the neckline to create one piece.


Sleeves:
I used the long sleeve pattern for this design. I cut out one sleeve without any flocking. I carefully placed the other sleeve so that an entire flower would be shown. I placed it so the flower would show more from the front. (Look at your sleeve cap markings to make sure you have the flower closer to the front vs. the back if you decide this same design detail.) I used the sleeve without flocking as my pattern because I widened it for a looser fit.


The original had a seam skewed at the sleeve. In the photo above, I am testing to see where I would like the seam break to be. I marked 4 1/4" and cut. Be sure you leave extra on one of the sides of the cut piece so that when you skew it you have enough fabric to have a full sleeve. (Similar concept to the front of the shirt.)

I sewed the rest of the shirt just like the pattern states and voila! I have my very own designer sweatshirt! (I have to say, I like my version better. Hehe **The perks of sewing for yourself**)

I top-stitched the back pieces together till about the waistline. I will need to wear a cami underneath because it stops just above my pant waist line. You could put a panel of some sort in it, but I chose not to.

Something to think about as you make this -- balance your design. I chose to have the flower on the back left and the right sleeve to balance it out. If I chose to have everything on one side, it would have been off balanced-- it would have bothered me! (OCD!)



Another thing to keep in mind is that there is more than one way to do it! You could place it differently. Depending on your size, you may need to. I find that if you size large or smaller, you will be ok. If you are plus size, you may have to do more tweaking or buy an extra panel just in case.

I hope you were inspired by my designer hack. It was a lot of fun to make. I'd love to see your designer hacks. Share them with on Facebook and tag us on Instagram @fabricmart.

Happy Sewing!
~ Julie

PS-- See our other fabrics from Thakoon HERE.