Monday, July 15, 2013

colorblock washi

I think this is my favorite version of the Washi dress that I have made so far! (My first is here, second is here). I love  the navy and aqua together, and it was all stash fabric, so even better.

Earlier this summer I made a similar colorblock skirt from these two fabrics (both are cotton voile), and it was....ok. It turned out fine but I just couldn't think of anything to wear with it that I really liked. And I had lined the skirt with white cotton batiste which is what I had on hand. It sort of brightened up the navy - but not in a good way - and it was still pretty sheer.

So then I decided I HAD to have a Washi dress in the same color scheme, but when I laid it out on my remaining fabric I just didn't have enough. I really wanted that dress though, so I cut up the skirt for the front bodice! Even then I still couldn't quite squeak it out so that is why the shoulders are colorblocked as well. It wasn't my plan, but I think it turned out nice and no one has to know except me. And all of you.

As for the lining, I looked one last time in my stash and found a lightweight purple cotton that I think was destined to be a shirt, but it never materialized. So I used it for the lining and it's much better than the white. The dress is not see-through at all and I think the purple looks better under the navy than the white did.

I removed one row of shirring on the back (I also ended up doing this on my first one) and it fits comfortably. Ignore the bandage on my elbow. I really shouldn't be allowed to use irons. That bandage makes it look a lot worse than it is (poor me!); it's really not that big of a burn. This time...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Button-up shorts

I made some shorts recently. I wanted to do a flat-front style and I saw these sailor-style shorts from Anthropologie. With some leftover denim and buttons from a previous project I decided to give it a try.

I pulled a few patterns from my stash, one is an old Vogue pattern (7546, OOP) for sailor-style pants or skirt. I started that one last year and it was kind of a head-scratcher. I never finished the skirt, and the way the front band is attached (up one side, across the front waistband, down the other side) made it hard to get a neat finish. 

The Anthro shorts have a center-front seam, which seemed like an easier way to deal with a button-front opening, so I decided to just add a seam to a shorts pattern I have used in the past (Mccall's 5391, also OOP but you can still see it on their site) and put the buttons there.
I sewed the side seams up to a certain point, and left them open the rest of the way up. To the opening I attached a facing to one side (where I sewed the buttonholes) and an extension/underlap to the other side for the buttons. I made two waistband pieces, one for the front section and one for the rest of the shorts. 

I don't usually tuck my shirts in with pants or shorts, but I wanted to show you a better view of the waistband and buttons. The shorts came out a little higher on the waist than I had planned, so I think they look a bit too retro for me with a tucked-in shirt.
They came out pretty well overall. I don't make pants a lot because they are kind of a headache to fit, but I learned a lot with these. This Mccall's pattern is a little tight on me, and I think it's easier to add small amounts of needed width and length to the seams than to start with a huge amount of ease and take it all in, especially at the crotch seam.
I also frequently have trouble with horizontal lines across the front crotch. It happens with pants I buy too, even if they are big enough through the hips (meaning, I don't think it's a pull line from the pants being too tight.) My pants have a tendency to droop at the center front so I think it has to do with the waistband being too big and not holding the pants up correctly, because if I pull up on them the lines disappear. If you have any thoughts or good resources for pants fitting, let me know!

I'm pretty happy with the back view. I added some length to the back crotch and now they fit much better than when I had made this pattern before (read: "giant wedgie".)

One tip I came across via Pinterest recently is an idea for preventing the waistband from stretching out over time. It's a video from Threads about adding twill tape along the seamline. It's only about a minute long, so go check it out. The only thing I would add is the twill tape will fray if you cut it, so try to avoid that when trimming the seam allowance of the waistband. I can definitely feel a difference - I haven't worn these all day yet, but they have been on and off a lot and the waistband hasn't stretched at all. 

I figured I would only make these once, but they might be nice in a solid color with matching covered buttons. I'd probably skip the button opening (make it not functional) and add a side or back zipper though.

For now I am ready for some easy summer projects that don't require much fitting! It's time to get out there and suffocate enjoy this oppressively humid D.C. weather!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mission maxi: dress + tank


I first learned of the Mission Maxi pattern when I saw Erica's version a few years ago. I finally got around to ordering the pattern this spring and gave it a try. I think I must be the only person who had any sort of fitting difficulties though! I read some pattern reviews and most everyone said it fit great. Everything turned out fine in the end, but I had some trouble figuring out the correct size for the top half of the dress.

I started with an 8, which is where I fall on the pattern envelope's measurements for the bust, but it was too tight. The armholes also came up really high, and that feeling just drives me bananas. I was getting those drag/wrinkle lines going towards the underarms, and that doesn't look good. My fabric was a 100% cotton jersey, so there was no added spandex to increase the stretch. I'm sure if you choose a stretchier jersey knit, it would fit a little differently. (If you have a fuller bust check out Ann's review here).

Anyway, my first try ended up going to my (tiny) sister so that's fine. I'm glad it went to a good home! For this one, I cut the 10 and scooped the front armholes out a lot. I also widened the straps a little in the front and back to cover bra straps.

I chose black because I saw someone in a black maxi dress on a recent trip and thought it looked nice for traveling. As this is my first foray into maxi dresses, black is also a nice conservative choice too. :) I do love this striped one at Anthropologie. I have some similar fabric in my stash, so maybe if I feel like walking on the wild side I'll use it to make another maxi.

As for the hips, there was plenty of ease. I assumed that the hips would be the clingy area and the top would be fine but it ended up being the opposite experience for me. The hip curve is fairly prominent and hit kind of low on me, so I straightened out the curve to be more of an a-line shape.

I also made a tank top. For this one I went up to the 12 (with my adjusted armholes) and I'll probably stick with that for the future. I super love this tank. The fabric is a cotton jersey from It reminds me of something I saw at J. Crew for a whole lot more money!

I swear, I am not obsessed with polka dots. (Also here and here). I promise to dial it down from now on.

The pattern instructs you to attach one raw edge of the binding, wrap around to the inside and topstitch to secure. I think that this final straight topstitch reduced some of the stretch on my fabric which is another reason why the armholes felt tight on the dress. For the tank, I actually just did the first stitching and left the binding raw. I see this sometimes on RTW tops and decided I would like that with this print. It feels more comfortable, too. In the future I will probably fold the binding in half and stitch both raw edges to the neckline and armholes so it's finished in one pass.

I mentioned last week at the end of the Me-Made-May challenge that I wasn't sure if a completely handmade wardrobe was a goal of mine. But, it's patterns like this that lead me to believe I'll get there eventually whether I plan to or least for some types of garments. It fits great, and looks just like a tank or maxi dress that I could buy. I can whip up the tank in no time, so I'm sure I'll be sewing this again.

Friday, May 31, 2013

MMM: wrap-up

The Me-Made-May challenge has come to an end! I didn't have a perfect record but I did pretty well. Thanks for following along with me.  I loved seeing how others completed the challenge, too. I think everyone is getting tired of the daily photos by the end, but it is fun to read the updates and be encouraged and inspired as we take part in this challenge together.

May 29: skirt, not blogged. Just a gathered rectangle.
Me-Made-May has been a great learning experience and has forced me to think more deliberately about what I wear and what I'd like to be wearing. I think I could definitely use some more handmade skirts (I wore my only 3 summer skirts this week). Over the summer I'll be sewing some new skirts and probably some shorts, too.

Skirt: Moss mini, blogged here
I'm not sure that my goal is to have an entirely handmade wardrobe, though. Does that make me a fringe member of the online sewing community? I just think it would sap the joy out of it for me, because I would feel that I had to make everything. Sometimes it's nice to just buy a t-shirt, you know? What are your thoughts on this?

May 31: skirt, not blogged, pattern is Butterick 5285.

At the same time, the "fast fashion" industry as a whole is pretty depressing. I have never wanted to buy cheap clothes that I would discard within a few months. Part of that is having a mom who sewed while I was growing up. I learned to recognize quality (or lack thereof). I also learned the fun of being inspired by clothing in stores, but having the freedom to interpret those garments in your own way.

If you haven't already, I recommend reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline. While sometimes I find books that expose the dark side of an industry to be depressing and make me feel helpless, I actually felt pretty good after reading this one because it affirms the value in sewing your own clothing. I think we as sewers can feel like we are part of the solution, not the problem.

Anyway, I'm still here sewing away, and hope to finish a project up over the weekend to share next week!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Me-Made-May: Week 4


The fourth week of Me-Made-May is complete...just a few more days to go in this month-long challenge where I have joined in the pledge to wear something handmade every day.

Sorry for the entirely headless week of photos here...there was an incident: my 3-year-old's head collided with my mouth when I was pushing him on a swing. Since I currently have braces, it wasn't pretty. The swelling has pretty much gone down at this point.

May 23: top, not blogged, pattern is Simplicity 2599 with a curved hem.

(May 22 was just a stay home and clean the bathroom day, so I didn't make it into anything handmade.)

May 24: Scout tee, blogged here. 

May 25: Striped top, blogged here.

May 26: I did wear something handmade, but it was pretty boring: a practice version of a project to be blogged soon. Sabs asked if I would post a photo of last week's dress without the jacket, so I thought I would put that here instead. This dress is a mom-made, not a me-made. She doesn't remember the pattern, it was probably 10 years ago! I think it was maybe two patterns put together - the strapless top, and then a skirt with side front and back seams to which she added godets. That is a black grosgrain ribbon/bow sewn onto the dress, not a separate belt.

May 27: Eyelet top, old, not blogged.

May 28: floral tunic blogged here.

This was kind of a blah week for me on various fronts...I'll try to step it up for the last few days, with a wrap-up at the end of the week!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Me-Made-May: Week 3

Another week has gone by! Here's what I wore:

May 15: Skirt, old, not blogged.

May 16: Top, not blogged. Pattern is New Look 6871.

May 17: Peplum top, blogged here.
May 18: My me-made for the day was pajama pants - not photographed. (And not worn in public, I promise.)
May 19: This dress is not me-made, but it is mom-made. I'm going to let that count. :)
May 20: Scout tee, not blogged. Other versions blogged here and here. 

May 21: Kelly skirt, blogged here. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

polka-dot peplum

I am falling a little behind on my goal to sew up some extra things this month. I was sick with a cold for a while, and also, apparently people in my family expect "actual dinner" and "clean laundry." Seems kind of selfish, but whatever.

This is New Look 6196, a peplum top with a midriff band and sleeveless, cap, or 3/4-length sleeve options. My inspiration was this Modcloth top from last summer, which is sold out but you can still see it on their website. I was excited to find a similar poly fabric at JoAnn's last fall. I really love how this top turned out! I'm not sure how long the peplum trend will be around, and while I don't think I need a closetful of them, it is fun to indulge in sewing trendy pieces now and again, isn't it?

Here is a side view. Sadly, the only picture where my eyes weren't closed. And I wasn't using a flash! This pattern was a pretty good fit for me (I made a size 12), but a little roomy in the bodice front. I did make up a muslin first and found that while the back was good, I needed to pinch out about 1/2" the whole way down the front (including midriff and peplum).

What I didn't see in the stiffer muslin fabric was that I also needed a horizontal adjustment. After I sewed this up in the poly and tried it on, there was a huge bulge of fabric in the front, right above the waistline gathers! I had no idea what was going on, so I had to place a call to The Sewing Guru Also Known as My Mother. After I described it she said it sounded like the bodice was too long on me and it was causing excess fabric to pool. In the drapey polyester, the problem was just amplified.

The pattern does dip down in the front where it is gathered, but I didn't need that much length. I think if you have a fuller bust, then the bodice will be a good fit as the added length would accommodate your top half. But if you don't you may want to trim some of that off. I tapered to nothing by the side seams so that the front and back would still match up.

I omitted the facings and lined the top as far as the midriff, leaving the peplum unlined. Instead of waistline gathers on the lining piece, I pleated the bodice front to reduce bulk there. The peplum does have some gathering as well, so in a stiffer fabric it would stand out even more than mine. Just something to be aware of if that is or is not the look you are going for.

Anyone else making or wearing peplums? I think this one could use a red pencil skirt. What do you think?