Thursday, July 20, 2017

Monthly Stitch Hack It Week: Floral 'Lindeta' Dress

This week at the Monthly Stitch, sewists are challenged to Hack a pattern -- whether that's changing up one pattern or combining a couple. I thought about this challenge, and looked through my fabric and pattern stash, finally deciding on this project.

I started with a pretty dark blue/pale blue/mauve floral knit that was given to me by a friend's Mom who was weeding out her own stash. It's a thin and stable knit, not overly stretchy, but enough so for a comfy fitted dress.

\Lightweight, as shown via the Petal Skirt crossover

I trialled a few ideas, and settled on this combination: an Itch to Stitch Lindy Petal Skirt, with cut-on pockets added, based on the Sewaholic Cambie dress, and a Colette Moneta bodice.  

The bodice was the most straightforward part: I cut my usual size but added a bit of width at the waist to compensate for the lower stretch of this fabric compared to my last Moneta. I also cut the neckline much higher and narrowed it slightly, to give a more retro feel to this make. I used the short sleeve version, and used a bias binding at the neck rather than facings.

Then I got to the skirt. I used the free Lindy Petal Skirt pattern from Itch to Stitch (my first make from this company, btw) and found it well-drafted and with solid instructions. It would have been quite straightforward but I decided to add on some cut-on pockets as I can barely stand to wear pocketless clothing. But I didn't want the pockets to interrupt the lines of the skirt, so cut-on it was.

I used the Cambie pocket design as my base, though I found that I had to reshape the pocket bag to fit this pattern -- only a few inches and different angles here and there. It's still not exactly right but fairly close to what I was going for -- a smooth pocket in this shaped skirt. On my first try, I cut an angle at the side seam on each piece to add the pockets, and only realized as I was putting the skirt front together that it meant that one pocket would be completely covered up under the seam - doh! So on the second try, I cut one layer of the skirt piece normally, and added the pockets to either side of the piece I wanted to go on top of the skirt. That means that on one side you sew through a few more layers than the other, but it works out if your fabric isn't too heavy.

The only real difficulty was with the waistband. I wanted to maintain the waistband of the skirt to give the dress some definition, but had to totally change the construction, as it's not a folded over elastic casing any longer. I basted in on to both skirt and bodice and then tried it on. I had to take about 1.5" out of the full width to make it balance & fit right, and then narrowed the side seams from 3/8" at the skirt edge to 6/8" at the bodice edge (seamed on an angle). This gave it the correct shape and made it fit both edges without any gathering or puckers. I also stitched it down permanently with some clear elastic in the skirt seam to give it some support and structure. I should have interfaced the waistband piece with some knit interfacing but didn't think of that until I was done.

I really like the look of this combination, and the fit is both close and yet comfortable. I am also considering making a detachable collar that I can add to this dress whenever I want to change up the look (something like this one)

I don't think I would have gone to all this effort if it wasn't for the Hack It challenge, so I really do appreciate the impetus to try something new! I really like this new dress.

All my photos were taken on a lovely evening at one of my favourite local churches, St James Anglican Church. I get to walk through this gorgeous garden-filled churchyard on my route to work, always a pleasure. This church has a 15 Bell Chime & gives chime concerts, and it also is the site of the *best* local rummage sale every spring, notorious for multiple rooms chock full of things, including a linens room where I've found many treasures over the years. They have some spectacular volunteer gardeners among their parishioners and I've always wanted to take photos there. I'm glad I finally did...and so are the mosquitoes!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

McCalls Bright Blooms Dress

My latest project for Fabricville is one I'm really loving. I saw this gorgeous linen-rayon blend ages ago and was  thrilled to be able to get a length of it along with the newish McCalls 7597 for my new experiment... (incidentally there is a fantastic sale on this fabric right now).

To celebrate 200 Years of Jane Austen today, I had to go take some photos of my new dress in a place I like to call "the Jane Austen Wood", since every time I walk by I picture Regency ladies strolling in this park-like setting, all dolled up with bonnets and parasols. Since I'm probably not making a Regency dress any time soon, I took the chance to set today's photos there instead!

This was a fairly easy make - no closures, just an over-the-head tunic design, cinched with a stitched-on tie belt. The various views give you the opportunity to do some pattern blocking with the front panels, yoke, contrast band and so on, as well having different sleeve and shirt lengths to choose from. For my dress, I decided on View B, a simple one with no colour blocking at all, short sleeves and a standing collar.

I thought this would work best with my oversize floral. I was a bit dubious when I started cutting, thinking that perhaps I'd chosen a fabric print which was a bit too large for this style, but once I got sewing it started looking pretty good to me, and as it turns out, I *love* this dress!

The linen-rayon fabric is a crisp one, with some body, and it stands up to the lines of this design well. Thankfully I also discovered when taking photos that it is not at all transparent. Yay! Due to the hand of the fabric, my gathers at the back yoke are not even, rather they look a little like pleats. But they are fine, and aren't noticeably terrible which is really all I ask for ;)


The front gathers are fine, although I did have a little trouble with the techniques required to make nice neat corners at the bottom of the front panels. I had to do some hand stitching on those corners to get everything inside and enclosed where they were supposed to be. In fact, this pattern does require quite a lot of interior hand stitching to fasten down facings, collar etc. so if you hate hand work, be aware.

Luckily for me the interesting belt covers most of the seam line at the bottom of that front panel anyhow! It's a narrow tie belt, and for this view, it is simply attached by stitching a straight line down the centre, on top of the centre seam between the panels. Easy as pie! I'm not usually a huge fan of butt bows but this one really works, I think -- the dress is too full not to have a belt, and tying it loosely and with a knot instead of a bow, reduces the sweet factor. Also, I don't think you'd be able to tie much of a bow unless you fastened it a lot more closely than I did, so if you are thinking of making this I'd recommend lengthening the ties if you want a bow.

I made a couple of minor adjustments. I shortened the bodice between shoulder and bust just a smidge, and I also raised the stitching line of the front pieces up by an inch so there would be no unfortunate gaping. Lucky for me I didn't raise it any higher, as when I was putting it on I realized that if the neckline was much smaller I would have had some trouble getting it over my gargantuan cranium!

Of course, I also had to add some side seam pockets. With the fullish skirt, I couldn't see a reason not to. I did insert a little lower than optimal but then I couldn't quite assess where the waist would fall. They are still just about right, and very functional, so yay for pockets!

This makes me think of the funniest tweet I've seen in a while which I will now share with you:

Too true.

The only thing I'm not 100% sure about is the collar. It seems really high on the neck, at least with my short little neck, and I may still remove it and just bind the round neck with some bias at some point in the future. I'll wear it a bit first and see if it bothers me.

In any case, I love this beautiful Fabricville project - the colours in the fabric are bright and crisp, and it sewed up very neatly. There was a little a bit of smudgy edges in some of the print but thankfully those spots were nearly all along the selvage and easily avoided.

Hurrah for Jane Austen on Jane Austen Day, whose immortal words resonate with me, especially these ones:

There's Nothing like Staying at Home for True Comfort. 

Well said, Jane.

And look, I even found my Mr. Darcy! :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Monthly Stitch New-to-Me Challenge: Washi

This week's challenge for the Monthly Stitch's Indie Pattern Month is to make something from a company which is completely new to you -- no wadders, muslins, or other semi-makes allowed -- they also count as having tried a pattern maker previously!

So I went through my stack of Indie patterns and pulled out my Washi dress pattern. I've owned this for a couple of years and keep meaning to make it up. I've never tried a pattern by Made by Rae but when this dress took over the internet I bought the pattern with the best intentions. So the time is now!

I read the many reviews at PatternReview plus more at varied blogs, and came away with the idea that I would make it out of a rayon that I've also had in my stash for ages, since many people who've made it thought that the quilting cotton that it was designed for made the cap sleeves a little bit "wing-y" plus a stiffer fabric caused pregnancy vibe via the empire waistline. I wanted to avoid all this. I kind of did, but I do think that a bit of pregnancy vibe is unavoidable with this design.

Front view with fishpond

Back view with fishpond...and flowering waterlilies

In any case, I lengthed the front bodice by an inch to further reduce the maternity look, something recommended by a few other bloggers. I also lengthened the skirt about an inch to give me room to play with hem length. In the end I liked the balance of the longer skirt so much I just narrow hemmed it and kept it longer and flowy. I also used self-bias for the armscye finish, as suggested. I considered using a vintage green bias tape but the weight wasn't quite right so I just made my own from the leftover bits of the fabric. Unfortunately it's so lightweight that the hand stitching to fasten it down started pulling on the threads -- thankfully I'd started at the underarm -- so I switched to just ironing it down with a bit of stitch witchery. That didn't work 100% perfectly but better than the stitching did.

zoomed in, you can see the bias edge

I didn't do too many alterations besides lengthening the bodice and skirt, other than deciding not add the keyhole slash at the neckline. Since I was using a soft rayon, even with interfacing it would have been too floppy with a cutout. I cut the rounded neckline higher by about 1/2" and took in a 1/2" wedge out of the right side (my usual alteration for my uneven shoulders).

I learned a few new techniques with this dress, too! I love pockets intensely but had never tried cut-on pockets like this pattern includes. I like it -- makes it quicker to cut and sew. But I'm still not sure I like the way they hang inside the dress or not...will take a few more wears to be sure about it! The major new thing I tried was the elastic shirring at the back waist. I have lots of elastic thread but in all the years I've been sewing I've never tried this. It was so easy! And I love the effect -- it's my favourite thing about this dress ;)

The only drawback to this project is that the rayon was not the best quality, even though it looks so pretty. I think that while I was steaming the elastic shirring after sewing it, the rayon also shrunk a bit more. Thus when I am wearing this dress, it's a bit tighter around the midriff than planned for when measuring and cutting in the first place. Oh well, it forces me to have good posture! It also creases almost immediately from sitting or slouching. Yikes.

Anyhow, I had a lot of fun figuring out how to make a Washi from this kind of fabric and really love the lines of it and the flow of the skirt. Finally, the nudge I needed to try this popular pattern by a company that is new-to-me only in the actual sewing part of things, a company I've been following online for a long while and have been intending to try for ages and ages.

I headed down to the gardens outside our Festival Theatre for some photos - lots of beautiful flowers, statues, and the fading remnant of a giant flag painted on the ground for Canada Day last week! Happy Canada Day - and Indie Pattern Month!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Found Time Fiesta Top

So I have a little story to share with you all about Found Time. I headed into work on Monday, since as a public library we were only closed on Canada Day itself, July 1, not any other day, feeling a bit bummed that there was no long weekend. And when I got there people greeted me oddly, so that I was getting a bit of a complex by time I got to my office.

Where I then discovered that I'd booked this whole week off ages ago, apparently so long ago that I had completely forgotten! Who does that?? Anyhow, I tidied my desk up and headed home again, feeling a bit stunned by this sudden found time -- whoo hoo, I can get my next three sewing projects done this week!

Since I suddenly can, I also spent a bit of time having fun today. And did it wearing a new top (McCalls 7359) that I cut out ages ago, before my May houseguests even got here, but have only finished up recently. Sometimes it's that way with easy projects. They get put aside for something else and then forgotten.

Anyhow, I am now calling this my Found Time Fiesta Top, as I wore it to the Market (you will never lose sight of me in the crowd when I'm wearing this!) and then out for ice cream -- of which there is no photographic evidence, as it was too hot today to risk a moment's inattention to the eating of the ice cream -- and then for a little walk along our beautiful riverside.

My husband gamely took photos, even standing on a park bench to get just the right angle for me. It was an entertaining walk ;) Every time I wear this top from now on, I'll think of the miraculous holiday that I'd forgotten I had, haha!


McCalls 7359, View A
Thrifted Rayon fabric

I made this with a few alterations after reading some of the reviews on PatternReview & on blogs. Particularly helpful was Beverly's review at Sew Much More, as we are the same shape and she'd noted that the straight vertical lines of this loose-fitting top meant that it was a bit snug on the back hip area. I followed her suggestion and added a box pleat echoing the one in the front to the back yoke as well. I also graded out the back piece only, by about 1/2" in total at the side hems. I wanted this loose fitting top to actually be loose fitting.

I think it worked well, as the top does not stick to me and the volume plus the fairly oversize armholes make this a very cooling top to wear on a hot day like today, when the breeze is still pretty cool -- it allows for a lot of ventilation!

I really like the front neckline finish - the band is very neat, not too low, and it flows nicely from the yoke. The pattern did suggest slip stitching the inside collar band down but I just lazily pinned it and then stitched in the ditch on top - it worked and doesn't show on this busy fabric. I used View A with its gathered sleeve detail, but I'm not sure I'd bother on the next one; I like the draping of the sleeve on the arm now and wouldn't mind more sleeve length next time.

To make the back pleat I just pinned the "cut on fold" edge of the back pattern piece 3/4" away from the fold, and thread marked the edge of the pattern piece as my pleat fold lines. The only other alteration I think I'd add if I make this again is to shorten the yoke at the shoulders by 1/2", just to pull up the yoke seam & armholes a tad for my short upper torso. This is very wearable, however, and is very cool and comfortable on a summer day.
Back pleat blowing in the breeze!

Now to make sure I know when my next crack at a holiday excursion is!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Monthly Stitch: A Tropical Cambie

This month's Monthly Stitch theme is the long-awaited Indie Pattern Month. Unlike other months, this is also a competition of sorts, with prizes for each weekly theme.

Week One's theme is Dresses (posting til July 7, voting starting on July 11), which is in my direct wheelhouse over here.  I love making and wearing dresses. Love it. This gave me the incentive to make up my third Sewaholic Cambie (second which follows the pattern exactly).

I bought this tropical print cotton just a couple of months ago at a thrift store, and knew immediately that it would make a fabulous Cambie. It's a medium weight with a crisp finish, and it just called out for a sundress.

Love these cut-on pockets!

Back View

Since I was already planning to use this fabric for a Cambie, the Monthly Stitch theme gave me incentive to get moving on it. I cut it out on a Wednesday night, and was finishing up the hem on Sunday morning. Sometimes a group deadline is really helpful!

The busyness of the fabric was both blessing and curse. I had to lay out the pattern pieces carefully, and moved them around quite a bit before cutting, since I wanted to avoid a red flower or yellow stamen landing in the wrong spots. I think I managed in the end. You can see the print clearly in these closeups.

 It's a very well-designed dress, fully lined, with the nice suggested detail of making the inner waistband piece in the fashion fabric. I love that detail even if only you know it's there. It gives the inside such a nice feel. And there is a fabulous technique for sewing the lining to the invisible zip so that you don't have to hand stitch it, which I love as it is both quicker and tidier looking in the end.

 I also love the cut-on pockets -- they hide visually in a print, but are so convenient. They lie smoothly and don't rumple up like side seam pockets can. And they are also fairly easy to sew up.

 I made my regular size alterations: a horizontal wedge out of the mid-back and a vertical one at the shoulder, for my shorter upper back. I also shorten the shoulder pieces by 1/2" as I need to raise the bodice a bit, again, short upper torso. I'm also not a big fan of a princess neckline on myself so I once again changed this neckline to a straight one; I quite like the strong square effect it gives with this shoulder straps. The only other alteration I made was to add an inch to the length, as I wanted it a little longer than my previous make to give it the right vintage feel.

It's not only well designed theoretically, it's also comfortable for sitting in. Because the bodice and waist are so fitted I find it doesn't ride up when you sit down. But this fabric has just a tiny bit of stretch in it so it's also very easy to relax in.

 Another win for the Cambie. It's a great pattern that makes a lovely dress. I found that I had to make a bodice muslin the first time around and did have to make a number of minor adjustments, as I've noted. So I do recommend muslining this one. But because of the drafting with the pear-shaped figure in mind, I didn't have to make major adjustments like usual with a fitted style. I love this design and think it is a really sassy dress. Here's me feeling a little like Anna Wintour in it!