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... 

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