Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Lilly" peplum top

I'm not sure if I feel more like Scarlett O'Hara or a Project Runway contestant after making a top for my daughter from a shower curtain.

Lilly Pulitzer clothing is adorable and spendy, and the fabric isn't available for purchase. The bedding/bath line is the best resource for yardage, although selection is limited to just a few patterns.

The fabric is 100% cotton, and not treated to be water resistant. 
When my daughter spied the Lilly shower curtain I had ordered, she immediately dreamed up a summer top. Specifically "a peplum top, with a fitted bodice, straight top and wide straps." 

I pulled  Vogue 8184 from my pattern file. This was the pattern I used for her first dress-up party in middle school and I recall it needing a ton of altering to fit her teeny-teen figure. Eight years later, a quick muslin of the size 8 was just about perfect! She envisioned a "circle" peplum, rather than a gathered one so I grabbed the skirt pieces from Layla's sundress and used them to cut a little 6" flounce. I removed some fullness the same way to avoid a "tutu" effect. 

I cut the label from the shower curtain and stitched it into the top. Not sure why my picture won't rotate. 

The shower curtain is 72"x72" so I have plenty of material to play with. Here are a few other things I have used it for...

A sun hat for a dear friend's baby girl using a free Oliver and S pattern.

A couple of these frame clutch purse for my etsy shop.  

And I still have about 3/4 yard left!! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Layla's Sundress- McCall's 6646

Back in April my husband and I traveled to Belgium to visit our son and his girlfriend. On a day trip to Bruges, she spied this dress in a store window, 

Knowing that they were planning a summer visit to the US, I offered to make her one. A few days later we visited a fabulous fabric store in their hometown of Brussels so she could pick out the fabrics for her dress. 

 She loves vintage style dresses with very fitted bodices and full skirts and McCall's 6646 was perfect!  It  offers the sweetheart neckline and circle skirt options, among several other design styles. The pattern photos and drawings were mostly party and formal style, but the basic lines were just what I was looking for.

She sent me her measurements and I did my best to adapt my dress form. Basically, this involved making it as small as possible, then beefing up the bust with my daughter's bra and a yoga top to hold it all together. Whatever works, right? 

 Here you can see the tissue fitting process that I use with pretty much every pattern. I'm not a big muslin maker and in this case, a muslin really wasn't an option. I needed a mostly finished dress so I could do a final fitting when they arrived and have it completed before they went home.Layla is very petite and curvy. Here's how I adjusted the bodice pieces. Actually, I would probably call this is a small waist adjustment since that is really where I had to make the most changes.

This is the side back seam where you can see how much I had to pin out of the pattern.

Experience has told me that many of the Big Four patterns have more fullness in the skirts than I prefer. Keeping Layla's petite frame and the inspiration dress in mind, I folded out quite a bit of fullness from the pattern pieces.

I didn't take pictures of my process in adding the contrast fabrics to the bodice. Basically, I constructed two bodice fronts, from center front to side seam, and two bodice backs, from side seam to center back, then I pinned sew in interfacing over the right sides and traced off the finished contrast pieces. Then I added seam allowances and cut them from my contrast fabric. I pressed in the seam allowances and sewed them at the lower edges. I knew it would be fiddly to match the side seams but this would allow me get more of it made before the final fit. I did, however, trace off the contrast waist band after the final fitting and before sewing the bodice to the skirt in order to make a seamless piece. My inspiration dress had a contrast button front band and my pattern didn't. This was easy enough to modify and actually made fitting and matching a little easier. The button placket on my dress is stitched down and the buttons are purely decorative. The pattern called for some boning in the bodice which I did not use because I knew this was an everyday dress to wash and dry. I did reinforce the bodice pieces with fusible interfacing and additional strips of sew-in interfacing along the top seams for support. I think that the contrast fabric also added additional support to the sweetheart neckline.

For the final fitting I had basted the side seams and tacked the shoulder straps in place. I ended up having to still take out about 1" at the center back, but otherwise, my tissue fitting was pretty much spot on!

She specifically requested a tie at the back.

Here's the finished product on the very happy, and very adorable designer-

 This was the perfect "blank slate" pattern for creating a fitted sundress. As usual, I think the bodice pattern pieces were too short and resulted in more of an empire waist. While this was fine for our dress, if you are planning to have it hit the true waist, be prepared to add some length. 

And how close did we come to the dream dress?  Let's compare...


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sewaholic Thurlow

My body type is a classic Pear. Smaller on top, bigger on the bottom. It seems to me that the pattern companies aren't quite as friendly to my breed as they are to my "straighter" sisters. I found  quite a few glowing reviews of the Sewaholic Thurlow  pattern from women with similar fit issues on the web so  I ordered it and sewed it. Here are my thoughts on the experience. Short version - Love!

Awkward stance, but I wanted to show you the back as clearly as I could.

There are lots of pattern pieces, but they are all well drafted and fit together perfectly. I kept a similar style of RTW pants close by for comparison and explanation when I wasn't quite sure what the directions meant. I had sewed a similar Calvin Klein Vogue pattern years ago, and had that one down to a science, but it's been a really long time (tip: never, ever throw away sewing patterns when you move, you will always be sorry) and I definitely had to think about each step, especially with the fly and back welt pockets. I also decided to switch the fly opening, which required that I switch the waistband pieces (4!)- which I still ended up doing wrong!!! Actually I did it wrong twice because I made a muslin of these with cheap cotton before cutting the stretch denim I had bought to make them.Oh well. Experience is the best teacher- eventually I'll catch on and it didn't affect the fit or wearability of the pants. 

Speaking of all the pattern pieces- yes we were- there are two separate pieces for the front of the pants. The only difference is that one has an added seam allowance for the fly facing. I didn't feel like cutting two separate fronts so I just cut them together and trimmed off the seam allowance on the side without the fly facing. It worked fine. 

My measurements came out to a six, but after making the muslin I ended up scaling back to a 4 and even a 2 in some places, especially the front which was too long. I left the back rise at a size 6 and even added a little in the seat to accommodate my rear end. I also ended up pinching out some fullness from the back leg beginning from approximately below the cheek to the knee. This is my own little method for getting rid of too much fabric back there. Oh, I also adjusted the darts in the back and used two on each side instead of the one that is called for in the pattern. It fit me better this way. 

The first fitting was a little scary because without the waistband on, these looked and felt really strange, but once I basted the waistband in place, it was clear that these could/would be a great pair of pants. 

I decided to have a little fun with the inside and use some leftover printed cotton for the waistband lining. I will never tuck anything into these- thus no belt loops- so why not put something cute in there?

Here's a close up of the fly- if you make these, follow the directions carefully. The zipper & facing  should sit inside the seam allowance by 1/8-1/4" to keep it from being visible from the outside when zipped. I didn't do this right- again, not earth shattering, but I'll do it better next time.

As for the welt pockets, I took advice from many and used Poppykettle's tutorial on a very nice method- which is much less fiddly than messing around with those blasted welt strips. 

Here's a shot of the front pocket. I finished it with a french seam and can think of nothing to criticize with this portion of my sewing. Yay!

The pattern gives you a ton of extra fabric for adjusting the center back seam for a perfect fit. My back pockets ended up a little closer together than I had hoped, but again, not a biggie and I will position them farther apart next time. 

These really fit nicely. The waistband hugs my body and doesn't gap at the center back or feel funny when I sit. 

Design note: I find the flare on the lower leg to be a little too much. I tapered it a little bit but will do even more next time.

It went together surprisingly quickly for a pattern with all those pieces, and I feel confident that after another pair or two, these can be completed in an afternoon ( long afternoon!)

Shew!- that was long winded, sorry. But the pattern is worthy of review.  

thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Get Thee to IKEA

After a heroic beginning there has been a startling dearth of activity here on the old blog. It's not for lack of sewing, but just for lack of sewing clothing. I decided to change paths and resume a prior career in home decor sewing late in 2013 and have been busy getting things off the ground, which left little time or interest for sewing for myself. Plus, this relentless winter weather is seriously uninspiring.

Maybe a little sunless tanner and a new beach bag will pull me back from the brink... 

Here's a little striped rug I picked up on a recent trip to IKEA- knowing that I would never actually use it on the floor.

but it made the cutest beach tote! 

The rug dimensions are roughly 24"x36" and it cost $4.99. I simply folded it in half and stitched up the side seams, then stitched a 7" seam across the bottom corner for the base. The fringed short ends turn over to make a little tasseled edge. I wanted the trim edge to be continuous so I made bound openings for the straps- which are made from 4" wide strips of heavy canvas. The raw edges tuck under the stitched down fold so they don't show. I think cotton rope handles would be adorable, but I didn't happen to have any on hand.

To make the base a little sturdier, cover a piece of super heavy Timtex with some canvas and stick it in the bottom. 

Finished dimensions are 15" wide x 12" high x 7" deep.

Here are a few other storage items that I've been stitching up lately:

Chevron bin

Canvas laundry basket

I hope to be back soon with something to wear!

I'm chronicling (is that a word?) my home dec work HERE.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 11, 2013

No clothes for you!

Hopefully Mr. Machine enjoyed his little rest while I  painted literally miles of walls and molding in my family room. 

See the beams over my head sporting their cute coat of primer? I sanded, primed, caulked and painted every one of those bad boys, plus the book cases, windows, trim, ceiling and walls.Then, just for kicks, white-washed the brick fireplace. The beams and ceiling were a bitch and my neck really hurts.

The pain is soon forgotten and I am very close to having a sweet, happy room to curl up in... as soon as I sew the curtains and pillows. I have 20 yards of a nice casual stripe for drapery panels, plus some fun pillow fabric waiting in the sewing room. 

Back in the day, when my children were small, I stayed home and made a little money doing custom residential sewing for decorators, furniture stores and word of mouth customers. I've recently been coaxed out of "retirement" by a friend who is redecorating her home. Everything is tailored and simple and I'm not gonna lie, it's been kind of fun!

Here's a blurry shot of the Roman Shade in her powder room. She found this fabric at a local outlet and loved the monkeys. A little of this goes a long way, so we thought a simple shade would be just right. 

I'll be spending some fun,quality time with my sewing machine over the next few weeks but there probably won't be any new clothes to show for it.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Style Arc Kate: A review

 If you have stopped by here to read about my experience with the Style Arc Kate Dress then I won't keep you waiting while I re-hash my quest for the perfect wrap dress pattern. This is IT. 

Apologies in advance for being wordy, but you have to order these Style Arc patterns from AUSTRALIA, and they are never available for $1.99, and you have to order a SPECIFIC SIZE, so if you're like me, you may want a decent level of comfort before hitting the "buy" button. They always include a bonus free pattern, which is extremely nice. 

First of all, here's me in my dress:

Never ask your husband to take your picture after cocktails with an iphone.

Here is the pattern drawing:

It has an ever so slight A line silhouette, good coverage and three tiny pleats at the waist for "camouflauge". The pattern calls for a tuck at the wrist, which I eliminated. It also has the belt tie in the back. I cut the belt much longer so it would wrap all the way around and tie in the front.

Style Arc patterns contain only one size, so it's important to view their sizing page and check your measurements with theirs. I ordered a size 8 because it was the closest to my measurements. I also ordered the Willow pants pattern, but got a 10 because of my hip measurement. 

I used a Parisian Microfiber  from Marcy Tilton. I can't say enough about this material. It is absolutely lovely, refuses to wrinkle and is really the perfect choice for this pattern. 

The instructions included with the pattern are simple and straightforward. I was not familiar with the term "vilene" which, it turns out, is simply tear away stablilizer for the neck and bodice edges. This is genius, and necessary, and highly effective. Instead of a facing, the pattern calls for swimsuit elastic to be stitched (I serged it) to the wrong side of the stablilized neck edge, then turned and top stitched. I carried on with the serging all the way down the front edges of the dress,turned in a hem, and used steam a seam to hold them in place for the final top stitching. 

There are distinct right and left front pattern pieces because only one is pleated. You could easily make two of the un-pleated pieces if you prefer. 

The instructions have you set the sleeves in after sewing the side and sleeve seams. I attached the sleeves first and then sewed the sleeve & side seams. I don't see where this caused any problem with the fit or appearance of the finished dress.

The sleeves fit my arms perfectly- not too tight, not too loose. 

With the exception of  the stabilizing and top stitching, I made this dress entirely on my serger. I took my time and tried it on ALOT, but now that I'm comfortable with it, this is a two hour dress. I'm going to need another closet!! 

Here's a shot of the back: I usually have to adjust most patterns at the center back because I am narrow,and frequently have to take in the size seams, but not on Kate! 
Not my best angle, keeping it real here.

 I can't think of a single criticism of this pattern, and can't wait to try my next Style Arc pattern, Willow. 

Shipping was $12.50 for the three patterns I ordered- Kate, Willow and the freebie of the month, Brenda, and delivery took about two weeks. Go for it!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

An "Easy" Top

I can spend a long time flipping through pattern books or browsing online, but often it's an image on Pattern Review or someone's blog that makes me feel an urgent need to make a certain look.

That's what happened a while back when I saw Vogue 8833 on Goodbye Valentino.

Sarah's original version was sleeveless, with a ruffle along the front edges. I just loved the idea of a wrap style blouse and knew immediately it was a "must sew" pattern. 

I finally got around to giving it a go last weekend. I envisioned it in gingham for fall, with 3/4 length sleeves and the collar with band. Once again, my local fabric store let me down, as every bit of the gingham fabric was mostly polyester. It was cheap as dirt though, so I bought some in orange & white.

My camera refused to let me shoot without the flash inside but I promise the top isn't nearly as shiny as it appears in these pictures. 
Side view showing poorly fitting sleeve : (

Here's the quick 411 on my experience with Vogue 8833:

It's a "Custom Fit" pattern, meaning that multiple cup sizes are included. I LOVE this feature. I cut the size 10 with a B cup and feel like I still could have taken out a little in the upper front chest, but the princess seam needed no alteration. 

When I make this again, I will add a little width to the hip and lengthen it by several inches. It would be more flattering on me if it were longer, and it is most definitely longer on the pattern envelope model. I will also shorten the tie belt. 

Maybe I am simply terrible at sleeve installation, but my last two tops have had sleeves that were too big for the armscye. The crappy fabric on this one didn't help. I would love to know if anyone else encounters this problem and what the simplest adjustment prior to cutting would be.

The collar band was a success. Instead of the pattern directions, I used techniques from the Craftsy Jacket Class, and a few different internet tutorials. It wasn't speedy, and the collar ended up backwards, but practice makes perfect and I doubt anyone will ever inspect it closely enough to tell. 

This style really suits me, and the pattern deserves better fabric, so I'll try again. I really loved Sarah's idea for the ruffled neckline and intend to shamelessly copy it.