Friday, July 17, 2015

Floral flora

I've been silent too long! Honestly as much as I love my two crafts, my family, my podcast, and my career they have been taking up all the time I could be using to write this blog. Over the last year I have continued to alternate devoting my creation time to knitting and sewing--most of it has been documented on Ravelry and/or Instagram. In most cases nothing varied so much from the pattern that it seemed worth blogging about, but yesterday I made something that really got me excited. I present you with the story of the Flora dress.

Flora was born a black and white polka dot dress at H&M. Last November I went to Chicago and realized I didn't bring enough clothes with me, so popped into H&M and grabbed Spotty (on the left) off the $7 rack. Now while a knit sundress is hardly seasonally appropriate for late autumn in the Midwest, layered with leggings and a sweater I muddled through the weekend. The dress fit well so I wore it frequently throughout our mild California winter always under something since the back is quite low, honestly too low for me regardless of the season. All through the winter, I kept telling myself I'd turn Spotty into a pattern someday.

That day came two nights ago. I was itching to sew after spending the previous week painting my living room and foyer (followed by a brief, but relaxing trip to the Russian River), but my current WIP wasn't calling me so out came tracing paper and Spotty. I folded the dress in half and laid it down on the paper a half an inch over from the edge. First I traced the skirt, along the hem and side seam. Then I folded the top down on the seam line and traced the waistline. I added in half inch seam allowance at waistline and
an inch along the hemline. This piece would be cut twice on the fold for the front and back skirt.

Next I traced the top front, adding half inch seam allowance on the tank straps, neckline, and bottom. To make the top back I traced the front and raised the neckline by about 3-3.5". Along with retracing my standard tank pattern as an A-line tank, this all added up to a good night's work!

The next day I was on fire! I finished everything but the hem on my upcoming wax print culottes. I adjusted the waistband on a favorite, unworn skirt (more on that if I keep up this blog). So it was time to give Spotty a new life. I had been planning to use a bright blue knit I had in stash, but when I went to unearth it from the jumble of knits out popped this crazy bright floral I had picked up at Stonemountain and Daughter. It was a bolt end I found upstairs with a circle of fabric missing and another equal size circle that had faded--I think they gave me the remnant for around $4. Perfect for a test run.

Within 30 minutes the fabric was cut and the dress was assembled. I had been hopeful, but not truly expected it to work since I really winged it and taken at least one short cut (Spotty has bust darts--I traced the dress as is and omitted them). But it worked! I finished the edges by folding them over a half inch and using the twin needle. The hem was folded over an inch and finished, again, with the twin needle. Almost there, I had forgotten the main reason that I want to remake most of my dresses and skirts. I hadn't added pockets! I borrowed the pocket pieces from Moneta and cut them out of pink cotton gauze. I opened up the side seams 2.5" below the waist and inserted them. Done!

While I wouldn't call it perfect, this dress has a lot going for it:
  • The back and front neckline are my ideal depths
  • I like that the skirt is not gathered, but still flares
  • I love that I can make it in about two hours
For this version I still might make (or find a belt) for when I want to bring it in and/or add elastic to the inside waistline. 

For the next version:

Remember the pockets before sewing the side seams
  • I think I could finish the armholes and hem as I did this time, but I think I will reinforce the neckline next time to tighten it up and keep it from sagging
  • I need to get serious about a swayback adjustment as I continue to get bunching in the lower back
  • I might bring in the sides

Originally I wrote "H&M knit sundress knock-off" on the pattern pieces, but after finishing this sweet dress in this happy flowery print I rechristened the pieces Flora. I am looking forward to more of these!

Sunday, June 22, 2014


I have been eyeing Polly for a while now. I love a tank top and this one had enough of something unique to make me curious. Then when I realized it was a free pattern by the very hip and popular By Hand London, I was more than happy to print out a dozen plus pages, cut them down, tape them together and trace off a pattern. Putting together the pattern took about 45 minutes one evening, the next day I was able to trace the pattern, cut the pieces, and do the trickiest part of the sewing. The next day I had the top put together and all that was left was playing with the fit.

After a comment from Tini of Twin Needle Podcast, I tried a quick and dirty forward shoulder adjustment. However, instead of carefully reading and putting into practice the directions I did what I thought I read, which was move a section of the front shoulder strap to the back. The result was, no surprise, incorrect. In the end I ended up taking a couple of inches out of the straps as I was getting a floating shoulder--one that levitates above my shoulder. I am not sure that the forward shoulder adjustment would have been enough since armscye always seem too big on me. My shoulders are narrow so I also feel like the neckline/shoulder straps are too wide.

I do like it though and want to make a couple more. On the next version I am either going to make a smaller size and grade the bottom to the size I made (8) for the waist/hips. Alternately, I might use the neckline and straps from Wiksten and the lower part from this pattern. I also want to make a version with cap sleeves like this adorable version.

The main fabric for this is a thrifted piece I bought for a dollar and the contrasting panel is a fat quarter! I have one planned in Kaffe Fassett shot cotton and a Liberty quilting cotton, but need to dig through stash for another muslin, maybe even with sleeves.

In the meantime, I am working on a few projects in knit fabric that I am hoping to get done in the next week. Once those come together it will be time to tackle my jumpsuit project.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Vacation pants, the second

I was so happy with my first pair of Vacation Pants, despite their lack of seam allowances and huuuuge pockets, that I whipped up another pair. I included the seam allowance this time and it definitely makes the fit better. I also made the pockets reachable and considerably smaller. If I were to make these again I might keep the pocket position, but make them a little longer. 

For these I took the suggestion from the book (Simple Modern Sewing) to cut the pants on the cross-grain and use the selvedge as the hemline. It gives the hem a soft look without the worry that they will fall apart. I also made a double channel at the waistband, as the book suggested. The color of fabric is not coming across in these photos--it is a much darker brown (closer to the photos on the left) and less green. Also, you can catch a glimpse of my new "dressy" clogs! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sew much sewing to do

My summer break has officially begun! I have so many plans for my sewing it is crazy. Right now it all seems achievable (side note: I have shown remarkable restraint in avoiding the obvious sewing puns in the last two sentences). Last summer I made a couple of skirts and started a dress, but wasn't in the frenzy I am in right now. Here is my to-do list copied over from Evernote:
  • Summer vacation pants 2 in brown linen remnant
  • Scoop Top 2 in bird print knit possibly with white knit as underlining
  • Tank dress (view E) in green knit
  • Jumpsuit  (view A)
    • muslin (lightweight white/blue/beige print)
    • wax print
  • Endless summer tunic
    • muslin (lightweight chambray)
    • Feral childe
  • Polly in quilting cotton with possibly a chambray or polka dots with rice bag fabric or crazy thrifted fabric and a navy solid?
  • Billow dress (see previous post) 2 in Nani Iro double gauze
  • More Phoebe style skirts (slash/spread A-line with contrasting pocket)
    •  Wax print
    •  Essex linen/cotton with liberty quilting for pockets

To make (stash) matters worse I bought some gorgeous fabric at AVFKW's First Friday Fabric sale that I have no plans for yet. I am calling this What to do with the khadi? I bought one yard each of the two fabrics in the foreground: 

  • Shirt with sleeves?
  • Something from Japanese sewing books?
  • Wiksten?
Oh, and then, Verb releases their second pattern! Introducing the Uptown Top--just when am I supposed to get to that one?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Billow dress

In my last post I talked about a dress I had been wanting to make based on a few cute dresses I had seen online. I finished shortly after that post, but needed to get FO photos to share. Here they are:

It's not easy getting photos, in daylight without a four year-old photo-bomber in the shot. As you can see I only succeeded at the daylight part. With this dress I had hoped to achieve two dresses in one. One dress would be a casual loose-fitting pullover and the other would be able to be gathered at the waist for a more fitted silhouette. Oh! And both would have pockets. :)

I had been thinking about this dress for some time, but couldn't find the right starting place. While looking at Simple Modern Sewing for a base for my Vacation Pants, I came across the pattern for the Boatneck Jumper/Dress:

I liked the cross over straps both for their appearance and how easy it would make it to fully line the dress. Since I was tracing patterns already, I traced the top 12 inches (13.5 inches of the front to make up for the dart) of the jumper version. The pattern sat for a spell until an unexpected sewing day popped into my schedule. I cut the top pieces as I had cut the pattern, for the skirt I was limited by the amount of fabric I had. I decided the best bet to get the length I wanted was a dirndl skirt. I needed two pieces that were at least 20 inches long (my preferred skirt length) and as wide as possible. I ended up with one piece 30" wide and the other 33" wide. I used the wider piece for the back.

The first fitting looked OK, but was very billow-y and the gathers at the waist didn't provide the illusion that I wanted. Also, the waist was way to low. To fix this I took off the skirt, and redrew the top of the dress from an A-line to a . . . V-line? I kept the armscye where it was, but brought in the waist an inch (four inches total). I also raised the waist by about three inches. I love it, though to get the second shape I need to draw it in with a belt so I made one!

I have adjusted the original pattern and plan on making a second version out of some Nani Iro double gauze. In addition to the changes I made as I went along I am thinking I will add a little elastic at the waist, at least in the back, to get the waist to come in a little more while still being able to pull it on. In the meantime I will enjoy this summer in my new dress.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hello, June!

MeMadeMay was a bit of a crazy whirlwind! I am really happy I participated and put my mind to some serious sewing this month. Let's run the numbers.
  • 28 days of wearing MeMades
  • 25 days of unique MeMades
  • 3 new wearable garments (Vogue 8815, Wiksten dress, and vacation pants knock-off) 
  • Muslins galore!
Doing this much sewing is giving me confidence to push my ideas and figure out how to adapt parts of patterns to fit my vision of the garment that I want. I think I came pretty close with my vacation pants and hope that the next version will get a little closer. Right now I am working on a dress that has been bouncing around in my head for some time. Inspired by these two dresses:

I am working on a no closure summer dress. I want to be able to wear it both loose and belted. And, at least this iteration, is fully lined. It's not quite done, but here's a tiny peek:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Me Made May Day 29: Summer vacation pants

A couple of weeks ago I pinned a cute pair of pants:

At the same time I realized that I was in desperate need of summer pants. I first thought of drafting the pattern from scratch, but then remembered that there was a pair of elastic waist pants in Simple Modern Sewing that would only need pockets drafted. Around that time I had another fruitful visit to Broken Things/the Depot that yielded a couple of yards of rayon linen (and a couple other fabrics, of course). I was set for a muslin, and a wearable one at that.

I'll be upfront and say that I made a key, rookie mistake and forgot that Japanese patterns expect you to put the seam allowance in. The good news is that the pants are baggy enough that the loss of fabric resulted in a slightly slimmer silhouette, but not too tight. That said, next time I make these pants I will add in seam allowance. I think the place that needs it most is north of the waistline. These sit too low and would be less fussy if the waist sat about an inch or so higher. Also, those pockets? Too big. 

The pattern instructions suggest cutting the pattern perpendicular to the selvedge so that you can use the semi-finished selvedge as the hem edge. I have enough brown linen to make another pair with changes and I will try this hem finish. I am also wondering if I could pull off a pair in wax print. Print pants are all the rage, so why not give it a shot? I wore the pants to work today and paired them with my Goodale sweater in Miss Babs Yowza. I LOVE the color of this sweater and the pockets so much that I can overlook that it is a one button sweater.