Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fitting facts ahead: Vogue 8787 dress in rayon jersey

Fitting details ahead! Including my hand drawn illustration of pattern adjustments. I have written before that fitting is the final frontier for many a seamstress/sewist/stitcher (take your choice). I am seriously considering doing a post this fall with a before and after approach. Making two muslins, a non-fitted and a fitted version to highlight all the changes I might make. Which sounds like a lot of work. But for some reason the idea is stuck in my head. We'll see how things go in the fall, when summer is waning and I can't face the idea of fall sewing - yes I am the odd one out, fall sewing is not my thing.  (#summer forever) ha ha.
Anyway, onto today's project.

Back in June my friend and sewing client Heather spent a couple of weeks in NYC. There was fabric shopping involved with long distance consultations and a flurry of photos and texts. The grand total being fabric for 7 garments purchased at Mood and some other spots. How long it will take me to sew up these items time will tell.
Some of the fabrics are for specific items, more fall/winter in season so they can wait. I will definitely be repeating this Burda dress as it is a fantastic pattern. One silk fabric is perfect for wearing on a tropical vacation so we will set that aside until needed. A couple of the fabrics were jersey knits which are ideal for dresses most all year round here, so I started with a pattern that I have made twice before for Heather, Vogue 8787, view E with the cowl drape neckline. I like this pattern as it has a lot of options.

Vogue 8787

The dress on Heather. When fall arrives we will have to do a better photo shoot than standing in front of my blank wall but it was way too scorching to go outside that day. The fabric is a lot more blue that it appears here - and looks so nice with her blue eyes/blonde hair. I am so happy with the fit. Waistband in exactly the right spot!

Heather in dress

Here is the finished dress, on the dress form. The fabric is from Mood in NY and it is still available on their website here.  I was a bit doubtful when I first saw it because it has a print that could read or need to be worked with as a stripe but actually this pattern was just right. Nice how the bodice is on the bias giving a bit of motion to the print. And the slight pattern matching creating a flow across the right and left sleeve was a very happy accident. (I should take credit for these things so you can think I'm a wizard - ha ha, not at all, just luck.) This pattern calls for woven or knit so the upper pattern piece has to be on the bias.

V8787 dress closeup on form

Ok fitting details shown here with my slightly comic-book illustration but you get the idea.

V8787 pattern adjustments

Starting with the front pattern piece. I have only drawn one quarter of it here, it is actually the entire front and is doubled so that you cut it on a single layer, on the bias, and it creates its own lining. So the adjustments in green have to be done on both halves and/or side of the pattern piece.

  1. I choose the pattern size based on her circumference measurements. I added to the seam allowance 3/8" to make a full 1" seam allowance on all side seams, which I think of as fitting insurance. That makes the dress likely to be too big but I find it best to sculpt or fit the side seams on the body. Granted it is quite easy to do this on someone else instead of for yourself. But I do it when sewing for myself as well. Just involves a lot of on and off and flitting around in my sewing room in my undies. Worth it in the end. No seam ripping needed :) 
  2. Add length in front bodice. Perhaps a bit unorthodox in terms of an FBA, but it will work. Really works in jersey, a bit more tricky in a woven. Anyway...I added about 1.25" I think. This is to counteract that waistband seam rising up and bisecting the bust. If you are in the full-bust category you know what I mean, anything ready to wear is likely to hit at the wrong spot and pull upwards. Just geometry, folks.  We will deal with the difference between back and front in a minute. 
  3. Raise armholes. She is about 5ft. 3in. and I find that if you are sewing at the high end of the bust range the patterns of course get bigger everywhere - so the height or depth of everything is too much. I use size 12 in Vogue for myself, am about 5 ft. 3.5in. tall and even then the shoulders are too long, the armholes are often too big. I don't like seeing an armhole that is too big on a sleeveless dress, and just tightening it up at the underarm seam is not the answer. You have to adjust the actual armhole, luckily this is one of the easier pattern adjustments. I raised this one about 1 inch. My words to sew by "you can take away but you can't add".
  4. Back bodice. Raise the armholes there also. Then on to my number one fitting mania, the back waist seam. See red section removed. Which I have squawked about before. Here is my primo example with photos from April 2014, A Fiting Post: Watch your Back!   I think this adjustment is more common than I every realized, and often sewing students say something to the effect of "I didn't know I could just cut off there". You can cut off the extra fabric anywhere!  BIG note on this one, I have made this pattern for Heather 3 times now so the pattern is all adjusted, however on the first version I did this adjustment on the body, thread traced my adjustments on the dress, sewed it and then transferred all those adjustments to the pattern for posterity. I will say that every fabric behaves a bit differently so the amount of adjustments can vary with fabric. (Jersey is heavy and pulls more than a woven might).  Also note; the length of the back bodice bottom edge gets a little longer when it is cut on an angle like shown (again geometry:) but I have some fit insurance on the side seams of all my pieces so we are Ok there. But keep that in mind if you do this type of adjustment. A simple sheath dress with a waist seam, where you do this adjustment will need some more length across the upper part of the back skirt to match the back bodice. Hope that makes sense!
  5. Center back. Even with a full bust a person can have very narrow shoulders or just be a small frame carrying a lot of, shall we say, frontage? So the pattern size that accommodates bust and high bust is way too big for the shoulders, even if you don't pick a size by bust but instead choose by high bust and then do an FBA. Anyway - The center back seam is an easy place to adjust and if you do the zipper last as I do then it is really a good spot to get that final fit worked out. In this pattern with the cowl front it is idea, on a more structured style you would have to be more precise in the fit of the front and back. 
  6. What about that difference between front and back side seam? I just treat it like an invisible dart, in that I gather the section that would be a dart on the front side and ease it into the back. A lot of knit t-shirts have this type of easing and even some woven patterns. If the difference is about 1-2 inches more in the front I think that can be eased into the back with little problem. 
Here is a look at the dress from the side, and just imagine that extra 2 inches of length along that back bodice. The waistband looks reasonably horizontal here, maybe a bit tilted but a dress form is not a human and would be a lot lower if that section had not been removed. Also she has extremely good posture which is another contributor to having too much length in the bodice. People who slump over get longer in that dimension, so they can use the extra length but if you stand up nice and straight then your dress might end up bunching around the waist.

Heather dress side view

I lined the dress in a jersey as well. I get a lot of questions as to what I use to line knit dresses and it is not particularly special fabric, after some experimentation I have settled on some poly knit fabric that I buy at Joanns. 100% poly, they call it Jet Set knit fabric, it comes in a lot of colors, washes easily and makes a really good lining for these rayon knit dresses. They have a lot of other types of knits that I have used for lining, check the dance wear aisle. I think some of the nylons or poly that you use for inside dance/gym costumes are ideal for using as lining in knit dresses. My biggest tip is to check the slipperiness factor - you want something that won't stick and grab the outer fabric. But this Jet Set stuff works well and is darn cheap (like between $ 3 to 6 dollars/yard depending on sales or coupons.
I go bonkers when I buy it and the sales associate says Oh what are you making with this. Like I would make a 100% poly thin knit item in that color. Yikes. Although they must be bored and I would ask every customer that if I worked there as well. But I can't tell you the number of times I have bought lining - like actual lining and they ask what I am making with it. Sad lack of sewing info at those places - gripe for another time.

V8787 inside out dress lining

And you can see my seaming is a bit off in the inside. Which makes no difference to wearability so it stays :)

Back view. Oh by the way - I didn't use the skirt that came with this pattern. Never have. I think it has seaming, 3 piece front and back. I was making something else for Heather when I made this first dress, and also muslining a different Vogue pattern which we ended up never sewing in real fabric but the skirt was all adjusted so I frankenpatterned it onto this one. Same basic shape and no seaming.

V8787 dress back on form

I hope this fitting info is helpful, and my explanation makes sense! My biggest fitting tip is to consider the up and down measurements along with the circumference.

Onward with more summer sewing for me, I have a backlog of summer items to post so those will be coming up soon. Including a semi-vintage pattern that is totally timeless. (is it vintage if I made it when it was new, in the 80's when I was, ahem, younger?) Let's just take this moment to remember that I have been sewing since age 8 so I could have been in elementary school. (not!)  Best not to dwell, right?  And speaking of time passing, I have my annual new dress for my birthday, I try to make something fun or different. This year is is a pattern repeat sewn many times but never for myself. Wait and see:)

Stay cool if summer is in full force wherever you are, and happy sewing.

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, what else for the heat of the summer but this fantastic sunflower.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Peak pattern perfection, 2nd time with Vogue 8904, the shingle dress

Prepare for Stripe-a-palooza! I just made that up. I have stripe-itis this summer. For some reason I have acquired a bunch of striped fabrics and and am sewing up a stripe-y storm. Which is so weird, as I don't think I had anything striped before I made this outfit. That one was kind of a tour de force of stripe-ishness and won't be repeated. Although I told myself to make the skirt again, as it was very fun. Uh, wait. My first stripe item precedes the bias stripe one, and it is this very pattern we are discussing today. Vogue 8904.
Wow, I am rambling this morning. I got 8.5 hours of sleep last night so ENERGY! And it is Saturday morning! woo hoo!  Slight aside, I usually write my blog posts throughout the week, finish them up and hit post on Friday but today you have Saturday morning stream of consciousness blog post. We'll see how that goes :)
Back to the topic at hand, Vogue 8904, a.k.a The Shingle Dress. which I think was coined by my friend Shams. This pattern is a couple of years old now, and there were a flurry of versions that first year but I finally got around to it last year. And was barely satisfied with that one, which was kind of a test version in my mind.
And now the latest version.

shingle dress on form front

Pattern Love !  This one is a winner and maybe I should retire it as I finally found the exact fabric and color way that I had envisioned. I guess this is a ponte knit? Or something like that. I rarely sew with ponte knits so I am not that familiar. In any case a beefier knit that rayon jersey or cotton interlock. Which is really perfect for this dress, it gives it a little more shape and body than a thin knit.
I bought it at Stone Mountain a couple of months ago so I am sure it is long gone. Not sure if you can tell but it is navy blue with emerald green. A very Kate Spade combo.

Sewing details, not that many. If you are interested in sewing this pattern I have details in the first version post. Including how to adjust the shingles so that in the back they don't crumple across your back or bottom (which if you have a substantial backside and are on the short side as I am is quite likely) a genius solution which I didn't come up with. Read that post and see how it is helpful to have sewing friends examine your rear view :)

Yes, I am so hot I have to wear shades. Ha ha,  more like it is 100˚F and time to change into my swimsuit for a dip. Now I know why dusk is the magic time for blog photos. less sweating and glare :)

shingle dress on me

Back view. My slim-hipped form does not fill out a dress like I do. Annoying.

shingle dress on form back

I was quite stumped when I first used this pattern how to get the stripes to match on the side but Shams to the rescue, in one of our conversations she said the trick was to put the bottom cutting edge of the shingle on the same spot on every pattern piece. And that works perfectly. Although see top back shingle here - I evidently didn't finish cutting that piece so could not figure out why it didn't match up correctly on the other side. Duh! fixed now. But I could not see the problem looking at it closely for a couple of days. Example of "can't see the forest for the trees".

shingle dress on form side

I love how the binding turned out on this version. I plotted, planned and carefully pressed to have that green stripe on the edge everywhere. I think it ties the whole look together.  Also on the previous version of this dress, I made the stripe binding at right angles to the dress body. While it looks great it was terrible to sew and proved why knit bindings need to be on the cross grain.

shingle dress neckline

Not sure why this is, perhaps by pattern alterations  - grading between sizes from top to bottom on both versions of this dress I have some triangle-y stick out bits on the edge of the shingles. which I just chop off and it seems to work perfectly. After this version I have concluded that it is the difference in stretch factor between the inner knit lining and the outer fabric. Whatever, even with that little adjustment the stripes still match and that is all that matters.

Edge of Shingle dress

Here is the pattern for this dress. I think the envelope versions are awful, and they look like they belong in a stylish vampire movie. If I had not seen this pattern sewn up by others I would not have given it a chance. thank you internet!

V8904 pattern envelope

A look at my dress in the slightly better lighting. This is one of the most comfortable dresses in my wardrobe. A great twist on the classic sheath dress. Plus a chance to wear my green sandals. Too matchy? too bad I like them :)

Stripe dress edited

So that's the latest stripe update. More bulletins to come. I posted another stripe item on my Instagram a few days ago for the #sewphotohop,  day 3: Colorful. and the fabric was a winner. So that one will be coming up soon.
I am enjoying the #sewphotohop - typically I am not much for blog tours or hops or whatever but it is a fun way to find out what is going on and hopefully discover some new to me blogs (a few weeks in and I still wish people blogged more instead of just instagrammed but that's probably just me. Reading long form sewing posts - I like to get the details!)

Ok, off to savor the weekend. Happy sewing, Beth

and today's SunnyGal garden photo. This is a really interesting Salvia I bought at the local junior college horticultural department's plant sale. I have gotten some great stuff there, such a good resource. The tag says "salvia darcyi" and it has curly stalks and stems so I have not quite decided on a spot for it. Still in the pot but it needs a sunny spot.

Garden may 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pineapple Express denim jacket

This blog post title is not referring to the movie Pineapple Express - a movie comedy with Seth Rogan from a few years ago - but I could not resist calling it that. As it turns out, my latest project is based on what I learned by sewing the Jacket Express, and uses this pineapple print white denim. So in my mind - Pineapple Express.
Earlier this spring I saw the fabric on the Girl Charlee website and showed it to my mom because like me, she has a hard time resisting a tropical print. And I had always wanted to make the Jacket Express pattern for her. In fact I bought the Craftsy class to get the pattern, and figured I would make one for myself to try it. As it turned out that faded red denim jacket is something  wear all the time. For this version I made a muslin in her size and when she tried it on she hated it. I was annoyed but now I can admit that the fit and shape were just not right. So I played around with it, adjusted some of the pieces and tried again. No luck. At that point she said "I like the denim jacket I have, can't you just make one like that?"   um, yeah...but I was trying to avoid doing that. However in the end it was the better way to go.

OK, prepare your eyeballs but this one is a bit crazy.

Denim white jacket pineapple fabric, front view

But kind of cute in a novelty way. And it came out so well!  Now I want to remake next year in a different denim.
Here is the original jacket which I copied.  If you would like to see how I copy the garment here is a post where I copied my own denim jacket, and here is a post showing how I copied a shirt. That second post has more of the details on how to do it. I use a mixture of methods and I do recommend the Craftsy class on how to copy garments, it is quite good. Also the instructor (Steffani Lincecum) has a book on the topic which I got once at my local library so that is an option as well.

Denim jacket original

So my copy looks darn close to the original. I lightened up this dark denim one so you can see the seam lines. I think that jackets are actually the easiest thing to copy, as the pieces on a jacket are mostly small so while it may seem daunting, I just go step by step with all the components, then test the pattern.

Jacket on J close up
And here is my mom modeling her pineapple jacket. The sleeves are long but she likes to flip up the cuffs so I just copied as is.
The only change I made from the original was to add a bit in the upper yoke to account for slight curvature at the upper back - which we will all have after years and years of hunching over computers etc. To accommodate that I added two darts which you can't even see on the outside but are more visible on the inside. I used plain white cotton for the back yoke to make it lighter and also so the pattern would not show through.

Denim white jacket back inside

The jacket front is kind of interesting as it appeared to have very little shaping but as I copied the pieces I noticed that the center front panel is curved and makes a slight princess seam shape. Also that tricky center front panel is what creates the pocket bag, and while it was a bit of a pain to replicate it does work nicely.

Denim white jacket inside front

You can see the front shaping better when the jacket is flat on my worktable. At the upper yoke is just a flap, no pocket as I drew the line on unusable pockets! But I thought it needed the flap. Although then I skipped the button there. Oh well.

Denim white jacket pocket and cuff close up

I really learned a lot from that Craftsy Jacket Express class and used that order of construction here. Also the when, where and how to topstitch as she explains it is very good. That class is called "Sew Better Sew Faster" and it is apt. I think I made that first red denim jacket in about 9 hours and this one was even quicker.

One of the most important things in making your own pattern is to put lots of markings. Reference dots to mark where the collar ends, or were the yoke meets the sleeve. They really help when you go to sew it up.

Denim white jacket close up collar

Another look at mom, and about 10 minutes after I took this we jumped in the pool as it was over 100˚F that day. My folks put the pool in when my sister and I were about 2 and 4, we learned to swim that year and my dad always said that was one of the best "investments" he ever made :) Back in my pre-air-conditioned childhood, we were out there from morning to late at night. And my mom would say "sure, it's fine for you kids but I can't cook our dinner in the pool". Mothers always have the last word!

jacket on J

No more jackets for a while, I just sewed up some of my other Girl Charlee knits and also completed a dress for Heather using one of her fabrics from Mood in NY. So that will be on the blog soon.

I do have enough fabric left from this project - do you think a denim pineapple skirt for me would look goofy or fun? You know I am going to sew it up and see.

Stay cool and enjoy your summer sewing. Or step away from the machine and go outside! I think that's what I will do.


Today's SunnyGal garden photo is a Shasta daisy (I think that is what it is) that I got at a local plant sale. And it is finally spreading out a bit - I want that carpet of daisies to happen.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

T-shirt perfected: using Jalie 2805

A t-shirt perfected. Maybe not perfect - although it did come out nicely.  I guess I am thinking that in terms of fit and shape, I have perfected this type of t-shirt for me. Mostly due to a bit of redesign on the neckline.

multi t-shirt front on form

and a small delight in the results of the binding on that v-neckline. Which I played around with a lot as I was cutting the pieces. To get that satisfying juxtaposition of stripe and color.  This is perhaps the embodiment of a perfect fabric to me. Graphic, angular, predominantly blue, aqua, white. with a touch of black to make it wearable with a lot of other separates. It might seem to bright for many but you know my love for vivid prints. PLUS it was on the half-off shelf at Stone Mountain recently so a nice quality rayon jersey knit top for about $ 10. Score!

multi t-shirt neckline closeup

Also satisfying, the way the print layout is kinda sorta centered and yet not. Perhaps balanced is the right word?  Or maybe I am reading too much into it. But really - I think that often the success of a final garment is due entirely to some serious thought, concentration and planning when cutting out. There are many times when it actually takes me longer to cut out than sew an item.  And cutting out is my least favorite part of sewing (probably also for most people). Grain - I am a bit of a fanatic. Completely flat - no wrinkles. Pattern placement if a print. For stripes and plaids, checking and double checking. Yeah, all this can be super tedious but pays off in the end.

multi t-shirt back on form

Getting back to t-shirt perfected.  I highly recommend this pattern which is Jalie 2805. If you sew for yourself and other people - such as small people:) then the value in these Jalie patterns is incomparable. All sizes from small kids through women's size. 4 different necklines, including a turtleneck and the instructions for the V-neckline are so simple and yet result in a perfect binding.

Jalie pattern photo)

Also once you get the fit down you can riff on the pattern by changing all kinds of things, neckline width, color blocking, etc.
Which brings me to the changes made. I originally made this pattern back in 2012 (here is a link to that post). And while I really like the original version I wanted the neckline to be a bit more open.
I have this t-shirt which my sis gave me ages ago, from a little boutique in Kailua (Oahu) this is no longer there (sad tears, I bought so many cool things there, t-shirts, swimsuits, sandals and when it closed I was so bummed).  Anyway...the neckline on this v-neck t-shirt is just right for me, not too low but a little lower than the Jalie, a bit wider and slightly rounded.  (note I am not super crazy about the strangely abbreviated sleeves on this t-shirt - and I have another copy in turquoise where the sleeves are a bit more normal shaped). So I decided to copy the neckline of this shirt and apply it to the body of the Jalie top. Because why not? And the Jalie pattern actually facilitates this because the way they fit all the versions on their pattern pages is to separate the tops from the bottoms rather cleverly, so the top portions are interchangeable with the bottom pieces. If you have made a Jalie than you know what I am talking about.
One tiny note about fit: I found the sleeves on the Jalie pattern to be a bit skimpy and I am not particularly broad in the back or arms so to counter that on my chosen Jalie size which I think was U, I added 1/2" width on the back pattern piece at the underarm tapering that away by about 4 inches down. and then added 1/2" extra on the sleeve back to match which alleviated that tightness at the back/underarm area. Like any pattern it needs fitting but once you get it squared away it is a workhorse.

original neckline tee

How to copy the neckline? Here is a picture I have that shows a quick and easy method. I think I used this photo on a Craftsy blog post. Wax paper is such a great tracing medium for things that are flat like a t-shirt and you cannot beat the see-through-ability of it.


So that's the scoop on V-neckline t-shirts. Also the neckline binding - I have to admit that I don't use any of the pattern pieces. I just decide on the finished width I want, cut the binding on the cross grain of the knit fabric, fold, press and then baste it on. Yes - I said baste. Machine baste. One of these days I will have to do a post in praise of basting.  Which I don't often see mentioned on sewing blogs but I baste a lot. How else can you check fit and adjust? Or maybe its just that no one mentions it. But I think the former - not done and you should try it :)
Back to the t-shirt neckline, I use the Threads Magazine video method. I have linked to this before and if they ever take down this video I will be bummed as it is the best explanation I have seen for this technique. Plus no pattern piece required!

Realizing I had no photo of me wearing this t-shirt I took this one using the timer feature on my iPhone. Which actually works pretty well. Even though this is kind of a dorky photo. And you can see my bookcase with that big fat copy of Wolf Hall with the red dust cover - probably the current number one "not read" book on many bookshelves. I bought that hardcover at the library $1 sale so low investment and I since I read stuff like that when traveling a gigantic hardcover book is never going to make it into my travel bag. What was I thinking? Oh well. Save it for a rainy day. (ha ha, rainy days are for sewing!)  And I am wearing my Vogue 1170 Rachel Comey skirt in green corduroy.  Which has turned out to be a better wardrobe mix-and-matcher than I would have predicted. (also the black dotted version - nice to wear with a solid top)

multi t-shirt on me

Summer sewing in full swing, I am just finishing a dress for Heather using her first Mood fabric (pattern is Vogue 8787, a really nice pattern that is for wovens but I have made the cowl version in knit twice and it is great,  blog post and pics to come with some fitting info).
And some summer and pre-vacation sewing for me. The usual collection of slightly ridiculous tropical prints...hey whatever makes you happy, sewing-wise, right?

Happy summer weekend, Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, these are miniature roses and this plant receives no attention but like most of my roses keeps on blooming.

June flowers

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Alameda Dress from Pauline Alice Patterns

Enough with the sneak peeks on this outfit, right? I put the last stitch on the hem about 2 weeks ago but it took a while to get some photos organized, and I thought this deserved something better than my usual photos. My pal Alice can be counted on to take my best blog photos and she is always on the lookout for a stray thread or the odd wrinkle. Now that is a good friend, right?

Alameda outfit on me

This is the Alameda dress from Pauline Alice patterns. I actually didn't take any photos of this while sewing, it is fairly straightforward in construction. Most all of the fitting was done as I sewed it up. I chose a skirt size based on my hip measurement and it was a bit on the big size, both all over and especially the waist - however all those princess seams in the skirt allow you to shape the waist/hips to get a great fit. After doing that it was a smudge big around the hips also, but since the zipper goes in last its an opportunity to take a larger center back seam.

Alameda on form frontAlameda on form back

If you have read my blog for a while then you know I don't sew very many indie patterns, I don't see many that are interesting or different from patterns I have. But I always noticed the Pauline Alice patterns and thought they had some interesting details, a little more complexity than is often seen. By the way, her patterns are very high quality, the paper is bright white and a good thickness which makes it easy to trace onto tissue (which I always do when using this type of pattern). The instructions seem thorough as well, and in 3 languages.

Alameda dress pattern envelope

When she came out with this Alameda dress/2-piece pattern I thought it was very pretty but noticed that on her website there was no line drawing. So I just figured I would email her and tell her that as a  long time pattern buyer I would not buy a pattern where I couldn't first look at the technical drawing and she should consider putting those on her site. Maybe that sounded a bit, I dunno, pushy? or helpful? Anyway - she wrote back immediately and uploaded the technical drawings. And then we became acquainted via email. Long story short she asked me to be a tester for a new coat pattern and I usually tell people no, but she enticed me by sending a photo of her own test version of the Quart coat pattern. So I replied Yes! as that coat is so fantastic. I did test it and gave her some info on the pattern, particularly in the sleeves which she appreciated. And then I did make a real version of the Quart coat for a friend of mine.

I have had this pattern for a while and decided that as soon as the weather warmed up I would make it. Which sent me searching through my fabrics to see if I had anything suitable, and this cotton sateen I bought at Stone Mountain last summer seemed like a good choice.

Alameda skirt on form

The colors are more visible here and you can hopefully see the seaming and pockets. The fabric is actually navy blue, green and white. I think it is one of those "you either love it or hate it" fabrics but now that it is finished I love it. I chose to make the two piece version of this pattern as I figured I could wear the skirt on its own with a solid top.

Yes, it is the two piece version of the pattern though it might not appear so in that first photo. See, I'm showing you here. The things I do for you!

Alameda crop view

The only major modification on this outfit sticks with the idea on the pattern, but in practice I didn't use all the pattern. Because I had the pattern pieces out which I used for this dress - which you should go look at as it is one of my favorites and has a lot of fitting info. Anyway...I thought hmmm, that top part fits so well, the shape is similar, and I figured out the shoulders/armhole etc. so oh heck, why not use that for the crop top portion. So I did. Any I bet you would not have noticed had I not told you.
Although I did modify those pattern shapes to match this pattern more, by deepening the front neckline, and then making it a pull over the head top with the zipper opening at the waist. You can just see the zipper tab at the bottom there. Which gives a super clean finish on the neckline and armholes of the top. So another clever idea. And apologies to Pauline Alice for not using all her pattern pieces but close enough.

Alameda top back zipper on form

Too many pictures?

Alameda 2-piece

I should have taken some without my hands in the pockets. But you know that pockets like these are irresistible. And if you like skirts with a flounce then I highly recommend. I know the flounce is not for everyone but I have always liked it and this has a great amount of flounce. Is that a thing you can measure?  maybe not, but sewing satisfaction, this one is a winner.

Flounce skirt

Happy weekend sewing, I am off to our Bay area Sewing meet up group on Sat. where myself and 3 other local seamsters will be talking about blogging (how we got started, surprises, challenges, changes over time, advice and then some show and tell of things we have sewn). Always fun to talk sewing with like minded obsessives!


Today's SunnyGal garden photo, one perfect gardenia. The fragrance by the front door is intoxicating when the bushes are in full bloom. They only last a day or so, which maybe makes them all the more beautiful.

June flowers

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Random Threads # 14 and a jacket finale

Random Threads is a good title today because I have been totally random in my sewing, flitting from one project to another, with a bit of sewing instruction thrown in for good measure.

As a follow up to something mentioned previously, here is a link to the final jacket post of Meg who came over for an intensive jacket sewing lesson. Her blog is Meg Made This, and if you want to see her completed jacket check out this post:  Meg Makes a Jacket, the Finale.

Meg jacket lapel

Look at that nice crisp lapel. You will to click over to her post to see the rest of the jacket, and then look at her next post to see the cute dress she wore with it. What a great jacket. I am so happy she came for a lesson and now has a great jacket pattern that she can make in a different fabric.

Is anyone else looking forward to the new season of Project Runway? Starts August 6 on Lifetime. Yes, that show has totally fallen apart and yet - I will still watch it. So glad I have Tivo - can zip through the commercials and the repeated scenes. Mostly I'm interested in seeing the final garments and then the judges critiques. Since they used to show a lot more construction in the early years of the show but now seem to cram more nonsense into each episode. But like I said, a TV show with sewing machines and trips to the fabric store, I am in. Plus I see there are a couple of contestants from the bay area so that is always interesting. Also they do show the episodes on line I think a day after they air so if you don't do TV you can probably see the show.  I wonder if you are overseas if you can view on the website?

New Vogues.........Mostly blah to me, with a few very kooky or art-teacher looks thrown in for good measure. I never get too excited about fall season sewing - just not my interest. And now I will reveal  -  please don't throw any tomatoes (or tomato pincushions) at me - but I really like this, Vogue 1461. Also it is by my favorite Vogue pattern designer Donna Karan (or whoever is working in her design studio these days). Plaid yes - and then the release pleats in the skirt. I think it is cute! However I will not be making this up now or ever. But I just like it. I did have a very similar skirt years ago with that tight seaming over the hip releasing into just that shaping, and my dress was rose red silk duppioni. Very holiday outfit and I loved it.  Wonder what I ever did with that?

OK, onward to more practical items. Kind of, sort of.
I think I have a medical condition called Stripe-itis. Which I just made up and is characterized by excessive purchasing of unnecessary striped fabric. All jersey knits except the fuchsia and white on the bottom left which is more like a ponte weight.
What am I going to do with all these stripes? Top left, got that at a rummage sale for a few bucks, middle top bought at Joanns with a super coupon, the remaining three ordered from Girl Charlee. (see marketers those "hey it's a sale" emails work on me).

Stripe knit fabrics

I like them all but summer is flying by so who knows what I will get sewn up.

As for my next project, I am going to start on some of the fantastic fabrics that my friend Heather bought at Mood and Elliot Berman in NY.

And I got some photos accomplished so stay tuned this weekend for a full post on my Pauline Alice pattern, the Alameda dress. Here was a sneak peek from a few weeks ago. People either love this fabric or back away slowly questioning my judgement. I will be interested to see what you all think when you see the finished outfit :)

Pauline Alice pattern skirt sneak peek

Happy summer sewing, Beth

Today's garden photo, these penstemon are definitely in my top 10 of garden plants, they are so hardy and the flower colors are fantastic.

June flowers

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pattern Whisperer presents: Summer Sundresses

The idea for this post has been floating around in my head for weeks now and I realized that is has an expiration date. Time to get it going as sewing for summer probably comes to a close in parts of the globe sooner than it does here in sunny California.

A Pattern Whisperer post - the topic is summer sundresses. The category of summer sundress has some very specific elements to me, and granted these are just my opinion on features that make this type of dress different from your other wardrobe selections, such as dresses for work, formal events or even a casual everyday dress.

So what makes a sundress special? I love the category of resort wear - which sound a bit what? Elitist? Too specific? Brings to mind women of a certain age swanning around in caftans. That is not what I am talking about. I think of a sundress as that item you might wear when the temps are high, but you want to look pretty and be cool. To wear instead of shorts and a tee. A sundress needs to be sleeveless, and definitely show some skin, so no high necklines or collars. Thin straps, halter necklines or cutouts make it a sundress in my book. Of course fabric choice is everything. Mostly cotton or linen, maybe a cotton or rayon jersey. Depends on the style but nothing that needs a lot of lining or even pressing. Something to wear to a backyard barbecue or a casual outdoor wedding.

As in my previous Pattern Whisperer posts, I mostly suggest patterns from the major pattern companies, Vogue/McCalls/Butterick, Simplicity/New Look with a few ideas from Burda.

First up is one that I consider the quintessential summer sundress, Vogue 9100.

Vogue 9100
Having shown it in that fabric seals the deal  - so cute. It has an interesting bodice which I actually think might be quite easy for fitting. The princess seams are moved to the center and finish in the center neckline. If you have trouble with gaping necklines this is a sneaky way to be able to adjust the dress on the fly, instead of on the pattern. If I were making it for myself I would add an inch in length to the bodice, plan on shaping it over the bust for a close fit, and presume to shorten it at the shoulder seam, and center back. In fact I would shift that side zipper - which bug me - to the center back just for ease of fitting. And note that if you don't want such a full skirt you could reduce the circumference or even use a different skirt pattern.

Cutouts - when else can you wear them? Well I don't know your life but probably not too often in winter :)  I like this Simplicity Amazing fit pattern because:  Amazing Fit.  They do have a bit too much ease but if you can figure out the starting size and put in a bit of fitting work they are really nice. Plus offer more than one pattern view and I always like things that have more than one look for my pattern dollars. Cut in shoulders, my Fave! cute cut-out but looks bra-friendly. Comes in the full range of sizes. Pockets! Nice princess seaming over the bust. Cup sizes. I just might have sold myself on this one  - like I need any more summer dresses and/or new patterns.

SImplicity 1354

For something a bit more sporty, McCalls 6955.

McCalls 6995

I like that it has both a non-gathered skirt and a gathered option. The shaped back gives it a lot of interest but I think you could easily wear an adjustable X-back bra which is nice. I really like the contrast hem look, I could see making this in two complementary fabrics instead of the solid contrast.

This New Look pattern must be a really good seller because it has not been discontinued and I first bought it at least 4 years ago.

New Look 6457
 I have used this bodice for a lot of different things and my pattern pieces for the gathered skirt are my TNT for that look, they have so many pin holes and fold marks but it is full but not too full so doesn't actually take up all that much fabric. It also has the 2 halter views so a lot of choices.
This was the pattern for this dress and I first used it for a dress that I gave to my hairdresser. Works really well with cotton sateen and see this post for a clever trick that I copied from a J. Crew bridesmaid's dress.


This Simplicity dress is probably a tricky fit, as the bodice has to fit just so for the contrast to look right but I like the sharp white contrasted with black. Or in chambray denim with a dark denim accent. It is a similar idea to the Vogue 2902, which is also very pretty and probably a big fabric hog.

Simplicity 1688Vogue 2902

Somehow I think the Vogue pattern might be both easier to sew and fit, and also must be another one that sells well as it has been around a while.

Both versions on the envelope of this Burda pattern sold me.

Burda 6918
The white one is really cute, the seaming allows for lots of fit possibilities. The stripe one just looks very designer - maybe I saw it recently? (I think on Amal during her Clooney wedding fashion parade?)

For a similar shape and easy wear, this Burda downloadable could be sewn in any fabric and be perfect for summer.
Burda Easy sundress
You could change the straps to anything you want, even halter tie. The smocked back could make fitting very simple. The pleated front is also easy to wear without being too much fabric. Kind of the easy version of a corset style dress.

As for knits, there are plenty of summer styles to choose from. One that caught my eye is this New Look pattern.

New Look 6122
I have had good success with these New Look patterns that offer a multitude of looks in one pattern envelope. There are a lot of small pattern pieces to rummage through to find what you need to make up the selected style, but this one doesn't look too bad at all. A lot of New Look patterns have this same skirt, kind of straight, gathered at the center of the empire bodice. Super easy to wear (read: hides the big barbecue meal) but not full looking since the sides are tapered. I like that grey example - the cowl neckline - not the fabric choice. But a easy pattern for knits with some cute options.

I know there are zillion choices out there for summer sundresses - and I have sewn many of them. My appetite for this type of pattern always exceeds any need for something new. If you read back through this blog you know I have more than enough in this category. And just today I saw this Decades of Style pattern  which is so pretty. And I love the Lonsdale dress from Sewaholic. Why have I not made that?

Too many patterns, not enough time. Are you with me on that one?

Hope you are having a good weekend! 
Happy Sewing, Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo: I planted so many gladioli bulbs and they are randomly popping up all over the yard. The colors are great but they don't last very long.

pink glad
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