Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pink Knit Dahlia

I have so much to catch up on blogging about that I had a hard time picking one to start with! Since I've loved sewing with knits lately, I decided to share this top I tested for Golden Rippy. It's called the Dahlia top and it's a quick and cute sew.

Ignore the floppy flower, mkay?

This pink heart knit material is one of the first knits I ever bought. I didn't know much about knits, so I randomly bought different kinds back when still sold fabric for $1.95 a yard! I lucked out, because this knit is super soft and has great recovery. The edges curled which made it tricky to do the bands, but a little starch and patience and it all worked out. I got it about 4 years ago, thinking I would make shirts for my nieces, but they are a bit older than my Danielle and may have outgrown pink and hearts. My girlie 4 year old still loves both though :)

The top has cut-on sleeves, so it's just a front, a back, and some bands at the neck, arms and hips. I don't know if the designer shortened the neckband at all in the final version, but you can see in the picture above that it's a wee bit long. I love the length and the easy look of this top!

The flower is a cute touch.

I used felt for the base and just pinned it to the shirt--I don't think it will be a permanent addition for this version. You can find the pattern here: Golden Rippy Dahlia Top

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Winter Street Dress Blog Tour

If you've popped over here for the blog tour, hello! I usually sew for my kids, but I have made it a goal to sew for myself some this year. So when Deepika was looking for ladies to test a dress, I thought it would be the perfect motivation for me. This is the Winter Street Dress, designed by Deepika, the found of and drafted by Maria Denmark.

I actually made two versions. My first try was in a ponte knit, and while it's an appropriate fabric for the dress (see Detective Houndstooth's gorgeous version using ponte), it didn't work for my figure. The structure of a stable knit highlighted my curves in a very unflattering way.

I wrote Deepika, feeling very discouraged and thinking this silhouette just would not work for me. She suggested that maybe it would work in a drapier knit. There are inverted pleats that offer a little tummy camouflage if needed, without extra fullness if you're slim. The skirt has a tulip shape and the pattern is drafted for a C cup and an above the knee hem. So, in theory, it should have worked for me. She didn't pressure me to re-do it, but I decided to try again and I am so glad I did!!

The neckline--the part that I need the most practice with when sewing with knits--has a wonderful method of construction which leads to a nice-looking, no gape neckband. Deepika includes a link to a video showing the method, or you can also read about it in her tip on Pattern Review: Narrow Binding on necklines and armholes for knits

I did make some slight fit tweaks. The dress actually turned out pretty good in the size made by using the measurement chart (L top, blended to an XL waist, with an XL skirt), but since my first attempt was so horrible I thought I should use it as a muslin and learn a bit about fit in the process. I have an ample bum, so I increased the width of the back skirt by 3/4" (on the fold) in order to make deeper pleats in the back. In the ponte they looked like they were straining, but the increased depth of the pleat and the drapier knit make them behave much nicer.

I also made a swayback adjustment, though I imagine the bunching I get at often get in the small of my back is due to my bum curve and not necessarily a sway back. Deepika sent me this swayback alteration for knits to check out. I traced the size I needed for the back and then marked a dot 1/2" up from the bottom on the center fold line. I used a ruler and drew a line from that dot over to the bottom corner of the outer edge. I did something similar for the skirt, removing a wedge that was a 1/2" deep in the center back, tapered to nothing on the outer edge. The result was great! I have some store bought knit dresses I like to wear with a belt, but they always bunch up--you can see this doesn't. The only issue I had was that I used the same pattern piece to cut out the front skirt and accidentally made a sway-front adjustment, oops!

So I have to wear the belt with this version, but the dress looks super cute without it--check out Sew Crafty Chemist's version.

A few other adjustments I made--I added 1/2" (on the fold) to the back bodice as a cheater broad back adjustment. I don't know if I actually needed this. Trumbelina's post on her dress has great details and illustrations on how to do one properly and is another super-cute, non-belted version.  I also added 1/2" width to both sides of the sleeves, as my arms often feel like sausages in RTW clothes. I probably didn't need that extra room but it's so nice not to have snug sleeves! I took a smidge off the sleeve cap to account for the extra length of the armscye from my width adjustment--the sleeve should fit in the armscye without gathers.

I also made 3/4 length sleeves by adding some length to the cut line for the flounce. We're entering spring here in the South but our office is air-conditioned, so these will be perfect. 

I did not change the hem length and found in my first version that I would not need to change the hem length of the long-sleeves either. I did not change the bodice length either. I'm only 5' 2", so keep that in mind if you are not so short! It looks high in the front in the next picture, but it hangs straight in real life.

I do not love the side view quite so much, but that is not the fault of the pattern--this is actually the most flattering dress I've worn since having kids! My mummy-tummy combined with a once-petite, now-full hourglass shape can be difficult to dress in one-piece garments. I thought that I could only wear dresses that were super full on the bottom or were empire-waisted. This dress has a seam at the natural waist and the fullness is due to the inverted pleats, proving me wrong. I already plan to make another version of this dress!

Thank you, Deepika, for your help and encouragement in making this dress. And thank you for understanding that women want to feel nice in their clothes, even if they are not in perfect shape :)

Be sure to catch all the version of this great dress on the blog tour. Here's the whole schedule:

Sew Crafty Chemist 4/2/2014
Detective Houndstooth 4/3/2014
How Good Is That? 4/4/2014
Trumbelina Sews 4/5/2014
danikate Designs  4/6/2014
Sherril's Sewing Saga 4/7/2014
Sharon Sews 4/8/2014
Stitchin' in My Kitchen 4/9/2014
sewing forward 4/10/2014
Hellou's Handmades 4/11/2014
Crafted By Carrie 4/12/2014
Greetings from Beyond the Basic Block 4/13/2014
JanMade 4/14/2014
Julia Bobbin 4/15/2014

**A note--My dress seems to be fuller in the front and fit differently from some of the other versions (and the line drawing). I did select the XL waist and XL skirt sizes based on my measurements and using the chart in the pattern. The tutorial has you use clear elastic at the waist seam to stabilize it. I don't believe I stretched the knit to make it look gathered, though that is possible. Rather, I think it's just the way my weight is distributed and the way the knit hangs. I assembled the back skirt the same as the front and you can see that looks a lot smoother. Regardless of the reason, I'm glad for the way the dress hangs in the front on me!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ready for Warmer Weather!

I'm not going to lie--I felt like a total superstar when Laura from Ellie Inspired asked if I wanted to be in her tester group for her spring pattern line. It was a no-brainer--I said "yes"! Sleep, schmeep. Who needs sleep when there are cute spring dresses to make?

Garden Party Dress pattern by Ellie Inspired

See?! (Okay, pattern testing might be a problem, but it's not as big as my fabric buying issue so I'm going to overlook it for now...) This is the Garden Party dress that was just released last week. I made a bit of a boo-boo working on it late at night, but a sash saved the day and the pattern now includes a sash option :)

The photo on the left shows how I traced the wrong size for the BACK bodice piece.
The photo on the right is where I tried to cut the extra off the FRONT bodice. Doh!

When my bodice side seams didn't line up, I realized that I had traced the wrong width/length for the back bodice piece. Easy enough fix--I could just trim the extra bit off since those sides weren't sewn yet. Except that whole sewing at night thing meant that I cut the extra off the front bodice. Oops. I seamed some fabric to the front and then carefully cut the extra off the back, finishing the dress with no further mishaps.

The boo boo seam is on the bottom left of the bodice

The seam isn't super visible, but I think it definitely needs the sash to hide it. I love the Minnie Ta Dot fabric I used for the bodice, so the sash just gave me more to love :) I really do love this fabric combination, especially with the contrast band on the skirt. Speaking of the skirt, those pleats took quite a bit of time. But they are so sweet!

I really love how this dress turned out. It fit well and it's so modest and pretty. And those cap sleeves are awesome. I don't know if I've ever made cap sleeves before, but it was really neat how the lining and construction was done. I made this dress last weekend and ever since the weather has been really beautiful here (70 to 80 degrees). Coincidence? I think not... 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Baby Gown

One of my co-workers was having his second baby this week, and I made a gift just in time--I got this gown to my friend on Tuesday and little Sadi was born on Wednesday!!

I found quite a few tutorials and pictures for onesie gowns online, but none of them were quite what I wanted so I ended up combining several ideas.

My biggest concern was keeping the stretch of the onesie--I don't make many clothes for bitty babies because I want the clothes to be as comfy as possible and to me, that means knits. I just prefer to have soft, stretchy, cotton fabrics against a baby's skin when they're still little. That problem was solved by attaching the skirt fabric to some stretchy elastic and sewing it on top of the onesie--the knit is the layer closest to the skin and the elastic ensures the tummy area won't be restricted or tight.

 My secondary concern was appearances. I planned to monogram the onesie, but I thought the gown would still look too plain without something near the skirt/bodice seam. I saw some super cute versions that had ribbon sewn around the seam (the skirt wasn't overlapped on the bodice in those versions), but that eliminates the stretch (see concern #1). Solution: I made a cute little belt of sorts out of some ribbons and elastic.

I think the belt would also make a cute headband!

The gown can be worn either way--I tried to stitch as neatly as possibly (while stretching elastic, no easy feat!) so that the belt is optional. I didn't want anything that would tie (safety concern) or be restrictive. I made some elastic ribbon by layering two kinds of ribbon on some elastic and sewing it to be the same length around as the onesie so it would stretch equally.The belt needed a little something more, so I made an organza flower. I am now totally addicted!

These are just different sized circles, layered and sewn together with some pearls in the middle. I used primarily organza but then I read you can use any synthetic so I threw in some hot pink satin as well. You use a heat source (candle, lighter, etc) to melt the edges enough so that they are sealed and the circles curl up. Super easy, super fun! (I might have run out and bought a dozen colors of organza after making my first flower...)

Font is the 2" size Monogram 1 from 8Claws

As you can see, I also added some embroidery to the onesie. I cut the onesie off and monogrammed the baby's initials before attaching the skirt. It was much easier to embroider that way, but a little trickier to determine the placement (this is why I like patterns and instructions--I'm not a big fan of trial and error--too much rework!)

I love the finished result, almost enough to want to have another baby to sew for! I will stick to sewing for friends--several of them have new babies or babies on the way ;)

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Pretty Paris Dress

So I said no more princess dresses (for right now), and I mean that, but I need to be honest. This next dress is actually from a princess pattern. I just didn't have the right colors for a Tiana dress in my stash, and I wanted to see what the pattern would look like in "normal" fabrics.

I am absolutely in love with this pattern (it's the Tiana Dress pattern from Made for Mermaids). It's a peasant style dress but the bodice is shaped, like a good peasant dress pattern should be (that means the front and back have different necklines and aren't just blocky). It has a sash which means a better fit for my slim girl. And the skirt, oh the skirt!

These pictures don't do it justice. There is an underskirt that hangs just the right amount below the overskirt. The overskirt is split in the front and back and the curve at the side seams is PERFECT. It is just such a pretty shape and is drafted to meet up so nicely. I love the way this dress is suited for using coordinating prints. (Oh, and it looks so beautiful as a Tiana dress that I went out right after making this to pick up the fabrics for another princess dress!)

I just think this is such a sweet, modest, pretty dress. It's simple enough to make (it is a peasant style), but it has some interesting details and it's just so pretty!! I need to go back and try some of my other "princess" patterns with non-princess fabrics now, to see how they turn out!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tangled Up in Princesses

Okay, this is the last princess, for now. This ended up being Danielle's Halloween costume that I never got decent pictures of before.

I LOVE this picture!!

This is a pattern that I willingly *gasp* paid for! Me and Mimi took Danielle to see "Disney on Ice" back in October, and I decided about 2 days prior to the show that I should make her a dress to wear. I decided on Rapunzel from Made for Mermaids. Then somehow I waited until the day of to start. Here's what it looked like just a few hours before the show:

I got the dress done in time--not because I'm super mom but because I have a super husband who corralled the kids and gave me a chance to sew without (many) interruptions. I'm so glad he helped, because it turned out great and the show was magical! Now I know why people spend oodles of money to go on Disney World vacations.

Me and my best girl :)

The pattern is a peasant style dress, with a bodice inset with "lace-up" ribbons, center front skirt panel, and ribbons on the sleeves. I added the 3/4 length sleeves using a pattern piece from this dress I made. I don't normally embellish much, but I blinged this baby up with some iridescent lace on the neckline, hemline and at the bottom of the sleeves.  I also added a purple trim around the skirt panel. Those extras took a lot of time, but were so worth it for my girl (especially since we ended up using it for Halloween too)!

We put a few flowers in her hair and accessorized with a stuffed Pascale from the ice show. Thank goodness that was what she picked out--it was definitely the best value at the gift stands! I have a long blonde wig from one of my old Halloween costumes, but it was a little too big for her. Besides, that would have been way too fussy. I'm loving these Everyday Princesses!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyways

If you haven't seen "Frozen", you definitely should watch it when it comes out on DVD. It was just beautiful, and the music was incredible (especially with Idina Menzel as the voice of Elsa, the Snow Queen). There is an amazing song in the movie where Elsa is building her ice castle, you can see a clip from the movie with the song here:

Isn't it incredible? I can see why Elsa was the standout of the movie for my daughter. Needless to say, I was so happy that Megan from Made for Mermaids got her Elsa pattern out so quickly (following her Anna pattern which I shared in the last post).

I used a sheer white fabric with silver snowflakes on it for the top bodice portion and the overlay and sleeves. Danielle thought it was itchy :( I finished the edges with my serger, so I think she was just being funny about the dress for some reason, but it went home with a dear little friend whose white blonde hair was perfect for Elsa!

The dress zippers in the back and has a two piece bodice, with a half-circle skirt and an optional overlay. The overlay panels are attached where the two bodice pieces meet, and to each other at the sides, but they are split in the front and back which makes for a nice motion.

Goofiness aside, my daughter LOVED this dress (I know, I say that about every dress, but seriously, Elsa is the big hit this winter). I picked up some pretty fabric to make another version for her and I will use a solid woven for the top bodice so that we won't have any comfort issues. This version was actually made using fabrics from my stash (including a turquoise sheer that is hard to see in the photos--it's on the bottom bodice pieces).

I was going to make myself the snow queen costume using Simplicity 5363 (it's the one on the bottom right) and even bought the fabric. But that was about 5 or 6 Halloweens ago and I think this dress was a much better use for the fabric. Plus, there is plenty of both the snowflake and turquoise sheers left to make a few more Elsas ;)

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