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!