Tag Archives: dress

Lots of sewing and lots of sneezing

Well it’s just been nuts here. The last month has been full of frenzied sewing and not much photo taking. Oh, and the spring crud that seems to be going around. Everybody in my family has been sick. I still sound like death warmed over. Ugh.

In between snotty tissues and coughing, there’s been lots of deadline sewing. First off is the wedding quilt for my sister-in-law. Who got married last June. Really, as long I they get the gift before their first anniversary then it’s not late. I love that tradition. It’s saved my bacon a few times for wedding gifts.

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The quilt is actually the 8th one I’ve finished this year. So I’m way ahead on my goal, but way behind on documenting any of it. If I can just make it through the next couple of weeks of scheduling madness, then I’ll have time to start photographing things.

The rest of the sewing is all related to the upcoming wedding of some good friends. First off was sewing one of the bridesmaid dresses. The wedding is going to be fairly casual, and the bridesmaids were simply asked to wear dresses in certain colors, no real specifications on style. My friend who I sewed the dress for is currently seven months pregnant and wasn’t too happy with the limited selection of maternity dresses she could find. Brilliant woman that she is, she tried tracing a pattern off an existing simple jersey dress she owns. We tweaked the pattern a bit, and with relatively few adjustments came out with a lovely dress for her. Gotta love good jersey! I made a copy of the pattern, and plan on making a few shirt versions soon.

Next up is a silk robe as a bridal shower gift. The pattern is from Amy Butler’s In Stitches. I haven’t actually made many things from this book other than the bathrobe. But I’ve made at least five robes at this point. It’s my go-to bridal shower gift.

My husband is one of the groomsmen in the wedding. The guys are wearing dark jeans, light dress shirts, light colored ties and brown vests. He already had everything except for the vest, so that’s where I come in. I actually made formal vests for my husband and the groomsmen for our wedding, so I’ve already got a good pattern. It’s just a matter of finishing the darn thing at this point.

Vest for husband

Vest for husband

Last, of course, is a dress for me. I’m not in the wedding or anything, but assuming I can find the time, I’m going to make a dress to wear. Nothing fancy, as the invite made it clear that the wedding is casual. But something that will look nice and at least be comfortable. I’ve got the fabric picked out already (from my stash of course) and the pattern. Whether I get time to sew it up before the wedding is a whole different issue.

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Aside from all that, there have been a few pairs of boxers for the husband, a quick t-shirt or two for me, and a pair of Thurlow shorts almost entirely finished! Look at me, sewing before the season, instead of halfway through it! That never happens.

So yea, really busy. Anybody feel like that happens every spring?

Pattern Testing – Saltspring Dress

Sewaholic has released a new pattern, and I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester again! Can I just say that I love pattern testing? It forces me to make something that I might not otherwise try, and I end up learning new techniques and sewing things outside my comfort zone. And the Saltspring dress does fall a bit outside my comfort zone. First off, it’s a dress. While I can see the appeal of a dress, I hardly ever wear them. Something about feeling too dressed up. I have issues, obviously. The other thing is the blousing – it’s not a look I would normally bother with. However, the clever construction of this dress automatically blouses the top for you, with no fiddling or adjusting. Pretty smart idea, I think.

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As to actually making the dress, in an effort to sew from my stash and find something suitably drapey, I came up with a couple fabric possibilities – georgette and silk. In hind sight, I should have picked the georgette. But, thinking how awesome a silk dress would be, I went with that fabric instead. Unfortunately, it was a nightmare to work with. The fabric is super slippery, and very challenging to cut. Plus, it starts to shred along the edges if you so much as look at it wrong. Sigh. And while it feels nice against the skin, it’s also got some incredible static cling, making a slip a necessity with the dress. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems weird to wear a slip with a sundress.

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Polka dot silk! Hard to photograph though. Much prettier up close and in person.

Fabric problems aside though, the pattern is great. The instructions are written in Tasia’s usual clear, concise style, and the dress was a breeze to put together. The zipper was the only challenging part, and I think my problems with that were entirely due to the fabric. The directions were certainly clear enough.

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Pockets! Wuhoo!

While my intent was to make the dress straight off the pattern with no changes, I did end up tweaking a few things. First, I ended up taking in the bodice side seams. I think it’s time to retake my measurements, because the size that I thought would fit my chest was clearly too big when I tried on the bodice for a fit check. Of course, my post-baby body is still changing enough that I swear my measurements shift from week to week (if not more often). I probably should have re-measured then, before going any farther with the dress, but no, I just assumed taking in the sides enough to grade the bodice down one size would be enough and I plowed on ahead. Once the dress was finished, it became apparent that I hadn’t taken in the sides quite enough (or my chest had shrunk in the intervening time, an entirely possible occurrence). So I just added three little pleats to the front neckline. It draws in the top enough that it doesn’t gap, and I actually like the way it turned out.

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Might need to try this with a belt…

The other things I changed a bit are the straps and the skirt. For the skirt, I added a center seam in the front, but only because my fabric was too narrow to cut the skirt out on the fold. Also, not being sure of how long I wanted the dress, I added 7 inches to the shorter pattern length. I think I ended up cutting off between 2 and 4 inches for the final hem length. As to the straps, well, I have a baby who loves nothing more than to grab things. Spaghetti straps tied in bows would have stayed tied for all of 5 seconds once I picked up my son. So I initially tried to do something fancy with the straps coming over the shoulder from the front, feeding through loops at the back and then tying together in a bow at the center back.

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Fancy straps

In theory I thought it sounded great, but in practice it didn’t really work. The back ended up pulling together and gaping at the center back. So, scratch that idea. Instead, since I’d already sewn the loops into the back bodice, I threaded the front straps through the back loops, then brought the straps back to the front and attached them there. Does that make any sense at all? Hopefully it’s clear in the pictures.

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One thing to note when making this dress is that until you put the elastic waist in, it doesn’t look so great on. I tried my dress on mid-construction to see how things were shaping up, and I was a little horrified at how it looked. But as soon as I put in the elastic, magic happened, and suddenly the dress looked really good. So just remember, if you try on your dress part way though construction, don’t panic, everything will be okay. And I know this isn’t just me, as I saw a similar comment over in Lauren’s post about her awesome Saltspring dress.

After looking at some of the posts by other pattern testers, and after seeing the pictures of my own dress, I’ve got some ideas of things to do differently next time. Aside from the obvious need for a different fabric choice, I really need to add a little bit of length to the bodice. I tend to forget that I have an unusually long torso, and it wasn’t until I saw the pictures of me wearing the dress that I realized the waist really isn’t sitting in the right place. It’s funny how I see things in a picture of me in the dress that I don’t see by just looking in the mirror. Also, I think I want to try making a knit Saltspring. Angela over at Sewmentalmama made two dresses for the pattern testing (both gorgeous), and the second was out of jersey. No need for a zipper thanks to the stretch fabric. And how comfortable would that be? I’m really liking that idea. I also think this pattern could be shortened to make a fun tunic length top. Lots of possibilities!

Anyway, this is a great addition to the excellent Sewaholic pattern collection. And if you’re thinking about sewing one, check out the sewalong over at Sewaholic.

Me-Made-May …the rest of the month

Hey look, it’s June. Perhaps I should post the rest of my Me-Made-May updates. I’ve read other bloggers mention that they get burned out taking a photo everyday during May. I can certainly understand that having now (tried) to do that myself. I also got tired of writing the updates, but that might be because I had so many repeats, or just that I wear jeans and a t-shirt most of the time and it’s not very exciting to write about. Regardless, here’s the rest of the month.

May 15-threeDay 15 Me-Mades: Another raglan t-shirt

This is another old shirt from the depths of my closet. It’s a little short for my current tastes and feels  a bit blah, so it doesn’t get worn much. The fabric is some sort of squishy stretchy polyester, and it was a bear to sew. Those three buttons there aren’t functional at all, I just needed something to cover up the ripples in that seam. And of course, one button was lost in the laundry the last time I washed this. So now it’s really not going to get much wear, at least not until I find some new buttons.

IMG_1862Day 16 Me-Mades: Stripey Renfrew

Yup, still loving this shirt.

IMG_1873Day 17 Me-Mades: Knockoff GAP t-shirt

Another repeat, but hey, it’s a really comfortable t-shirt.

Day 18 Me-Mades: Knockoff GAP t-shirt

I totally didn’t get a picture today. But the shirt I wore is exactly the same pattern as yesterday, just in plain gray fabric.

IMG_1899Day 19 Me-Mades: Twisty Dress

New dress! New dress! Finished at the last minute the night before, no less.

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Day 20 Me-Mades: Drapey cowl shirt

Somewhere in the depths of my studio is the pattern for this shirt. But I don’t care if I ever find it, because I’m not making another one of these. I realized, when I put this shirt on, why it’s languished in the back of my dresser drawer for so long. I hate the way it looks on me. It’s not terribly comfortable, and I feel like it makes my shoulders look really broad. Plus, it’s too short, so I spent the whole day tugging at the hem. The only thing that made it at all wearable was the jacket I wore over it. Yup, this one’s gotta go.

Day 21 Me-Mades: Er, no picture again. I got busy. Same t-shirt as day 6.

IMG_1985Day 22 Me-Mades: New shirt! Not blogged about yet.

Day 23 Me-Mades: Um, day 23 appears to have fallen into a black hole. Can’t find the picture I took, and can’t remember what I wore. Oops.

IMG_1998Day 24 Me-Mades: Raglan t-shirt

Nothing very exciting, just another raglan t-shirt. Really, I had no idea how many shirts I’d made off this pattern until doing this challenge. In the interest of variety I think I need to try some new patterns.

Day 25 Me-Mades: This is the last day with no picture, I promise. I just wore a gray t-shirt again, off my Knockoff GAP T-shirt pattern. I think I wore that shirt 3 or 4 times this months and never managed to photograph it. That’s okay though, it’s pretty uninspiring. Just your basic gray t-shirt.

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Day 26 Me-Mades: Cotton gauze button-up shirt.

This is one of those nearly finished projects that I find buried in my studio and can’t for the life of me figure out why I never finished it. This shirt was completely done except for buttons and buttonholes. Needless to say, that was a quick fix. I plan on making another one shortly and will blog about both then.

IMG_2006Day 27 Me-Mades: Throwback sleeveless blouse

My husband told me I looked like a throwback to the 80’s in this, and it would be a good gardening shirt. That’s his way of saying he doesn’t want to have to be seen in public with me when I’m wearing this. Really, it doesn’t fit well enough for me to wear it out anyway. The armholes are way too loose. But still, I didn’t think the fabric was that bad. Oh well. It’s comfortable and breezy, so it actually does make a good gardening shirt.

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Day 28 Me-Mades: Geometric Twisty top

This is the first top I made off one of my favorite Butterick patterns. I’ve since tweaked it and made it up as a dress. I still like the original top, though it is a bit short these days.

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Day 29 Me-Mades: Another new, unblogged about shirt!

Well I guess this means I have something else to write about now that May is over.

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Day 30 Me-Mades: Ariadne tunic, and white cardighan, modified nursing cami

The cardighan is pretty old (at least 10 years), and made from a Lose Hinse pattern. It’s pretty basic, but I like it. I opted to just put two buttons near the neck for closure, instead of all down the button band. And while I didn’t make kiddo’s outfit, it is from the thrift store. Seriously, that’s the best place for buying baby clothes without going broke.

IMG_2118Day 31 Me-Mades: Long sleeved raglan t-shirt for me, and mama-made pants for the boy, along with a grandma-modified onesie!

Last day!! My top is completely boring, but I made up for it with kiddo’s clothes. I made the pants, and my mom added the matching long sleeves to his onesie. And she embroidered  the ducky on the front.

Phew! I survived, but I’m glad May is over. The challenge was great for making me think about what I wear, and for getting me to clean out my closet a bit. I dug out some tops that I haven’t worn in years, and for good reason mostly. This also helped me narrow down some areas for future sewing. There was something really satisfying about knowing I had on at least one thing I’d made myself every single day last month. This has really re-charged my desire to sew more of my own clothes. So here’s a big thank you to Zoe for hosting Me-Made-May 2013!

And now I feel the overwhelming desire to sew something that will require no pictures of me…

Twisty Dress

Ha ha! I sewed a dress! And I actually wore it (this is only remarkable given how rarely I wear dresses). And I remembered that knit dresses are pretty darn comfy. Perhaps this will inspire me to make (and wear) a few more of them.

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yes, my legs really are that pale

This is the dress version of one of my favorite t-shirts, from Butterick B4745. Having made a dress off this pattern once before I knew I needed to make some adjustments to the pattern.

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I lengthened it about 2 inches, and flared the skirt out. The original skirt is a fairly minimal A-line that doesn’t really have enough room in the hip area. I’ve had this pattern for a long time, and at the time I bought it I generally went ahead and cut the tissue instead of tracing. So, the pattern pieces are cut in the size that fits my bust, but not really my hips. Easy enough to fix though. I re-traced the pieces (there are only two!) with the extra length, and added some width from the waist down.

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Needs shaping in the back

The back of the dress is one piece, so I added a center back seam to be able to add to the skirt from the center as well as the sides. Also, it gave me the opportunity to add some much needed shaping to the center back.

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As drafted, the back hangs straight down from the shoulders. I’m sure it would be fine if I had a belt to wear with this, but since I don’t, the back really needed some help. I didn’t actually add any shaping until after I’d sewn it up. Then I put it on inside out and had my mom pin in the back to fit better.

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Pinned and ready to take in

Here’s a detail shot of the twist in the front bodice. The front is cut too low for my comfort, but looks rather nice with a camisole underneath. I may just stitch it closed a bit higher in the future, but for now the v-neck in a stretchy fabric make this wearable for nursing.

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The fabric is an ITY knit that’s been in my stash for a few years. And this dress used up just about all of it. I have nothing but scraps left. Maybe enough for a little girls t-shirt, but that’s it. And it’s sheer dumb luck that I was able to line up the pattern to get the stripes matching all the way around.

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Of course, if I hadn’t been able to fit the pieces, I wouldn’t have cut the dress out of this. As it is, it’s very satisfying that I could get the dress cut out with everything matching and use up the fabric.

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There really is a seam in there somewhere…

I used my serger for most of the construction. The hems are finished with a twin needle. It looks decent, but is messier on the inside. And I had to fiddle with the tension a fair bit to minimize the tunneling that so frequently happens when using a twin needle. This is the kind of sewing project that makes me wish I had a coverstitch machine.

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Magenta and black thread, just for kicks

I’m pretty please with the finished dress. Now that I’ve got the pattern re-traced with my changes it’ll be easy to knock out a few more of these if I want to. This would certainly help use up some of the knit fabrics in my stash!