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Sewing is therapy for me. I hoard fabric, patterns, notions, and spend more time shopping for fabric than I care to admit...

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Woodland Stroll Cape--another Indy!

I am on a roll with Indy patterns!  This one from Liesl and Co has been on my radar for a while  now and I finally dove in to create it!  It really is a simple make and I really, really like my finished garment.

 digital woodland stroll cape sewing pattern

I ordered this as a PDF and it didn't have too many pieces--yippee!  There are a lot of pages of directions and helpful illustrations to assist you along the way.

I made a size medium and the sizing is from XS to XL.  This pattern isn't a fabric hog, in only needing 1.5 yards of the main and lining fabric.

It does need a fabric with some body such as wool coating, wool melton, velvet, moleskin or corduroy.

I used a pale yellow wool suiting that wasn't heavy enough so I remedied that by using two layers of the wool and quilting the sandwiched layer to the lining which is silk.  This process added about an hour to the total project.  Not too bad!  Both fabrics have been in my stash for a while and I purchased them at Fabric Mart.

This is such an easy fitting garment and unless you are uber busty, I would recommend using your hip measurements to find your right size.

I made zero alterations to this cape.

I decided to try and find the little buckles just like the photo of the pattern uses and was successful!  I found the ones I used, from Dritz, at JoAnns.

An easy project that yields fun results!  I really like this cape and plan on wearing it a lot!

Thanks for reading!  And I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another dressy dress from Sew Chic

This pattern and fabric have been in my stash for too long!  How long is too long?  For at least a year! I hate it when I have what could be a fab garment sitting in a pile somewhere and I simply just can't get to it.

The perfect opportunity came up when SPR announced the contest called 'New To Me Pattern Contest.'  I've never made up a pattern by Laura Nash at Sew Chic before and I must say that I am quite smitten! She has some nice vintage styles and the fit is fabulous!  I didn't have to make hardly any alterations to get this to fit how I wanted.

Here are some images of the dress from the Sew Chic site:  I love it both fabrics!  This dress is called the Beatrice  The pattern number is LN1310.

The fabric I used is a floral brocade with metallic threads running through it.  I wish I would remember what I paid for it, but I do remember it being a bargain.  I also have to admit I wasn't smitten with it when I purchased it (the fabric) and fully intended on this being my muslin.  I like it so much, that this is now my wearable muslin.

Basically this is a sheath dress with sleeves and kangaroo pockets.  There is piping at the waistline that is a nice accent.  The neckline is what drew me to the pattern in the first place.  It's classy, modest, unique.  The zipper is at the side seam and the pattern calls for a lapped zip but I used an invisible one.  There is a very functional dart at the elbow as well as front and back darts to let you get the shaping necessary for a good fit.  Just the bodice is lined.

This isn't a pattern for beginners with the fitting and the finishing details that must be completed in order to get a quality garment.  I made sure that I matched up the motifs running down the center front, back, and at the pockets.  How many RTW garments don't have that detail?

My brocade is a little heavier than perhaps the pattern called for, so my only real modification was to not only line the bodice, but then to cut facings in the main fabric and apply those to the neckline.  I couldn't get the lining to not slightly show on the garment right side, which I assume was due to the weight differences.  Since I created the facings, I ended up hand-stitching those in place along the inside where I attached them to the lining pieces all around the neckline.  Speaking of hand-stitching, I hand hemmed the sleeves and lower hem.  I love hand-stitching, it is cathartic and really makes a great looking garment!

Fitting this garment was actually easy!  Normally I make an FBA.  With this dress I didn't need one. I ended up having to take in the bust darts and lengthen them.  This never. ever. happens!  I made my usual 1/2" swayback adjustment and instead of a sloping shoulder adjustment, I added 1/4" shoulder pads.  Everything else is sewn as is on the pattern.

I really love my dress and I will most likely wear it with dressier boots or shoes, but with all the snow we've had and the fact my soon-to-be-daughter-in-law stopping over, I decided to take the opportunity to have her snap some photos of me wearing it.  Just look at that neckline, isn't it beautiful?


Thanks for reading.  The more I use Indy patterns, the more I love them!  Are you with me on this?
Sue :)  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Holiday dress in lace

I love the holidays, and even more, I love wearing something I've made. Well, this year, I decided to make a beautiful lace dress.  I've never tackled a project like this, so grab a coffee or your favorite beverage, and I will walk you though my journey.  

Fabulous V-neck dress with slip (pattern included)I choose this lovely pattern from my favorite company, StyleArc.  I've had my eye on this dress for a very long time but wondered where on earth I would wear it and could I create it in a way that I would be proud of?  

Here is the pattern description from StyleArc's site: 
A wonderful party dress complete with a slip. Use scalloped lace to create beautiful and interesting neckline. The lace edge can also be used on the hem and sleeves. This pattern can be made many ways - all lace, lace yokes & sleeves with plain body, or completely plain. The choice is yours!

Those design lines are so pretty!  I love the separate slip cut on the bias since bias cut garments just glide over your skin and feel wonderful!  

I also really like the elbow length sleeves with the zipper back and opening at the shoulder blades to the neckline where it closes with a hook and eye.  

Since I've not made a dress such as this, I choose to make not one but two muslins and I am very happy I did so!  While I typically don't hardly alter a StyleArc pattern, since this was made in lace a more delicate to handle, I knew I would get a better feel of how the garment went together through the practice-fit.  I just used a lightweight gabardine to test this for my first and second muslin. 

The first time through, I made the pattern as is with my usual 1/2" swayback adjustment and also a sort of new alteration for me and that is a slight (3/8") sloping shoulder adjustment.   And, constructed the dress as the pattern was written.  Honestly, if you think about the look of the dress and read carefully, this dress will make sense.  

After the initial fitting, I decided I wanted to have more room in the torso so I took out the optional darts and felt so much better about how the dress felt and how it looked on me!  I knew I could always add the darts at a later time if needed.  I also raised the back seam that runs along the shoulder blades by an inch at the center back, as I didn't want my bra to show and yes, I will wear a bra.  I am 52 years old and wear a C-cup, I am assuming if you were me, you would too.  :)  I also had to take in the armscye from the shoulder seam to the underarm on the back of the dress.  Maybe I have a narrow back as well?  

The second muslin fit so much  better and I held my breath as I cut into the lace.  Let's talk about the lace for a minute.  It was so lovely to work with and I like the design that has geometric patterns in it rather than a usual floral work.  I love florals, but sometimes I think I need to mix things up a bit.  

I was very leery as to how to finish off the seams so they wouldn't pull apart as some of the lace has some open places.  And, since this dress is so lovely, I am considering wearing it to my son's wedding in January.  
I plan on dancing and can you imagine if the seams popped while I was doing the hustle on the dance floor?  I researched quite a bit and came up with using silk organza cut into 1/2" strips and stitching those strips along the seams.  See how nicely the seams finished off after serging?  

  The organza is black, just like the lace and is barely visible.   I used the organza to reinforce the zipper insertion as well but instead of the silk on one side of the seam, I put it on both.  I also used the lace pattern itself to create the hems on the skirt and sleeves.  I practiced a bit by cutting different parts of the lace to see what I liked and I settled on this fringe base which I created by cutting off a portion of the lace pattern.

Another concern I had was due to the construction process.  The instructions tell you that when you are attaching the front and back bodice, you stitch to a dot, raise your presser foot, clip to the notch, pivot the fabric and carry on.  I didn't want to risk cutting too far, so I staystitched the neckline and sewed a small piece of the organza to the pivot point to reinforce it and make me feel better about constructing this dress in lace.  I must admit, it worked beautifully.  

` Everything was going really well but I wasn't sure how to finish off the front and back neckline and I was a little worried about inserting a zipper in the lace.  Again, I looked to the lace for the answer and I cut a portion of the design off and used a very narrow zigzag to attach it to the bodice.  I simply stitched slowly and followed the edge of the design.  After applying the edging, I used my applique scissors to trim the excess away. 
I normally wouldn't post a picture of my chest like this, but it does show the neckline really well.  As you can imaging, dear husband took this photo when I wasn't looking.  

The last headache I had with this dress was the zipper.  As I was working with the lace, I knew a regular invisible zipper from JoAnn's or Hancock's probably wouldn't cut it due to the weight of the zip and the lightness of the dress.  I predicted a big puddle at the bottom of the zip and sadly my estimation was correct.  I had no idea what to do and reached out to the sewing community.  An angel in disguise led me to a site that sells lightweight invisible zippers.  Shipping was fast and I had the new zipper inserted in a matter of minutes and whew, no more puddles!  In case you are wondering about the weight difference in a regular and lightweight zipper here it is: 

Lightweight zipper--four grams

Regular zipper--six grams.  Those two grams make a difference!  Trust me!  

While it sounds like this dress was a ton of work, it really wasn't.  The lace was lovely to work with and it behaved just beautifully.  It presses well and I am so happy with the end result.  

I almost forgot that I also made the slip as well!  This is included in the pattern and I ordered this black charmeuse that was heavenly to work with.  Luckily the pattern has a c-cup bodice for the slip and I made it as is.  You don't need any special tools but I do have a recommendation for a bias-cut garment.  Let the slip hang for at least 24 hours before hemming.  It you have wonder clips, attach those every three or four inches to help the garment hand properly.  If you don't have wonder clips, you could also use safety pins every few inches just a few threads up from the hemline.

I can't wait to wear my new lace dress!  I know, it is pretty fancy, but I think it will be perfect for my son's wedding!

Thanks for reading!


Monday, December 7, 2015

unselfish sewing week

I love sewing for myself but there is something special when you make a garment for someone else. Even though I work for precision and a beautifully executed finished product, I seem to work harder when I am making something for someone other than me.  So I have to say I am super proud of the finished result.

I made this Albion coat from Colette Patterns for my baby, Daniel, who happens to have just turned 25, is a third year medical student and how has been married for two years.  Doesn't sound like much of a baby, huh?  Well, he will always be mine!  Daniel simply is not a big guy and due to some health issues, he can't eat much so he most likely will never be much bigger than he is now.  I think he always looks cold so momma came to the rescue with a wool duffle coat in a cozy brown wool.  

From Colette Patterns site, this is how the Albion is described:
"Invest some time in Albion to create a classic duffle style coat (version 1) or jacket (version 2). Each version features toggle closures, tailored two-piece sleeves, yoke details, and a stylish three-piece hood.
Version 1 is a mid-thigh length coat with patch pockets, in-seam pockets, a detachable hood tab, and flannel lining. Version 2 is a hip-length unlined jacket with a combination of felled and bound seams, in-seam pockets, and interior pockets.
Albion is a versatile, simple shape that transitions easily from menswear to women’s wear."

I made version 1 in a small.  I will also add that it fit me perfectly though the shoulders and bust, so one of these may be in my future as well!  

I wish I would have added a flannel as the lining but I didn't think about it until I was completely finished.  Maybe next time!

I made a muslin since I don't use many Collette patterns and wanted to make sure it fit great before cutting into the wool.  The fit was spot on, with zero alterations. I LOVE it when that happens!

I had barely enough wool to create this so I used some clever layout to get all the pieces on and had about a 12"X 12" chunk left over--whew!

The directions are logical and well thought out and I followed them while making this coat and lining.

I did decide to 'enhance' the coat with a few what I call upgrades.  Here are those!
1.  Interface the tabs and the pocket flaps
2.  Stitched the neckline with a 5/8" seam rather than the 3/8" called for in the directions.  I thought it was a bit strange that the directions have you staystitch at 5/8" but the finished seam is 3/8",  I didn't want to rip out the staystitching, so I just stitched a deeper seam allowance.
3.  I interfaced the hems with fusible interfacing so they had just a bit of body and would hold a nice crease.  The interfacing worked beautifully.

I also made my own toggles.  Had I purchased toggles at Hancock's, it would have cost me $30 and that was more than my fabric!  Did I fail to mention that both fabrics were on clearance and I picked them up last year at the end of the season?  The coating was $6 a yard and the lining $1 a yard.  Both were very nice quality as well!  To make the toggles, I purchased suede elbow patches and cut them into my desired shapes.  I found brown leather strips (for lack of a better word) and wooden buttons.  Making the toggles took about 15 minutes and I think they look just a good as the purchased ones but at the fraction of the cost.

Daniel loves his coat.  He looks great in it and I hope it will keep him nice and warm this winter!
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

And...I liked it so much I made another!

So....if you saw my sewing room, you'd wonder how I get anything done or know where anything is lately...it's not good, but it isn't beyond repair yet!  Since things are a little untidy, I still had out the StyleArc Mara pattern and decided to give it another go.  I mean, I love this pattern, so why not?

The classic shirt dress featuring a fly front, pleat pockets and two piece sleeve
As others who've made up this pattern have noted, this pattern doesn't include the tabs and rolled sleeves, although it would be easy to add those elements either by drafting the tab yourself or using another pattern as a template.  Never mind this goofy look on my face below, I think I was about to tell DH to make sure to hold the camera steady or some other really useful information like that.

This fabric--isn't it gorgeous?  It is a designer cotton brocade from Ralph Lauren I purchased from FabricMart.   The colors, texture, and weight of it is just wonderful!  I thoroughly enjoyed working with it and think it made they perfect weight for a winter time dress.

The first time I made the dress, I used a much lighter weight cotton which worked beautifully.  This time with the heavier cotton, I added about 1/2" to the center back seam from about an inch below the neckline to the waist.  The dress isn't uncomfortable at all or pull or anything like that but I thought it might be a tad snug and slightly restricting movement if I didn't make a slight alteration.  It worked great!

The only other design alterations I made were to leave off the flaps on the patch pockets and also to add the side seam pockets.  I typically don't sew in side seam pockets simply because I don't like adding any girth to my hips.  ;)

I cut this dress out on the cross grain to take advantage of the beautiful border print and can you blame me?  It would have been a shame to not use that as a design element.

I really love this pattern, can you tell?  I'll put it away for now, maybe!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bright floral shirt dress just in time for winter

I love shirt dresses.  They are comfortable.  You can make them super casual or dressy depending on your fabric choice and accessories.  I've had this fabric from quite a while.  I love the play of the brown floral print on the green.  Green is one of my favorite colors to wear. It also works well with this super comfy sweater I've had forever but still love!

The classic shirt dress featuring a fly front, pleat pockets and two piece sleeve

I have a few patterns that I really like for tunics but this time I wanted to use a pattern that was longer and had something other than a super boxy shape like the Archer or princess seams like one of my favorite McCall's patterns.  In waltzes the Mara by StyleArc.  I think all of you know how much I love using StyleArc's patterns.

I sort of feel like the pattern line drawing and the description don't match.  I think the pattern looks loose-fitting however the description is of a close-fitting garment.  Not that I minded, but what you see is not what you get.  This dress has a fly front or concealed button front which was fun to construct although the directions are confusing for this.

The pattern has fold lines marked with the numerals one through three and to construct the button fly, you make a series of folds that create this cool fly feature. My advice is to mark the lines carefully, practice folding but for goodness sake! Don't over think the process but look at the drawings for what it needs to look like when you are done.

Also, there aren't any directions on what to do with the raw edge of the fly.  There ended up being about 1/4" that I folded under the fly and when the stitching is completed to secure the layers it works perfectly.

Another issue with the directions is that they weren't very well proof read.  In fact, it seems like they were pretty haphazardly put together.  There are lots of references to follow tutorials on the StyleArc site which I didn't do.  I've made many shirts with stand collars so I know what the process is and can put one together pretty quickly.

Drafting for this one wasn't up to Stylearc's usual standards.  I found the sleeves difficult to set it. Typically StyleArc's sleeves are BEAUTIFULLY drafted and seem to fall into place quite easily. These were a struggle!  I used about 100 pins to ease the sleeve heads in and that worked but dang....not what I was expecting or hoping for!

All in all, I do like this dress.  I will make some additional modifications next time i use this pattern.  I made my usual 1/2" swayback adjustment and I need a lot more next time.  I plan on wearing a belt with this so I think it won't be as noticeable.  I feel like I've complained about this pattern quite a bit but I do like it!

Fit--not too boxy
Sleeve length is perfect and have nice shaping with an upper and lower sleeve
The button fly front is a nice touch
The button cuffs go together well and look nice
The collar and collar stand went together easily and eased into the neckline really well
I like the patch pockets with the flap and the box pleat
I like how this fits through the shoulders

Sleeve head isn't drafted as nicely as some other StyleArc patterns I have used previously
Fit doesn't match the drawings on the pattern
There are a LOT of buttons on this dress!  Three for each cuff and I think 9 marching down the front. I used brown plastic snaps so the process was much faster than sewing on all those buttons and making all the button holes.

What do you think of this dress?  Is the pattern a keeper?

Thanks for reading!
Sue :)