Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mini Winter Wardrobe

Funny how projects find their beginnings... this set started out back in the fall when I happened to catch "Good Morning America" the day after "Dancing With the Stars" ended, and I really loved the look of this monochromatic sweater skirt set that Whitney was wearing.
I knew the crop top was out of the question, but I loved the overall look. So, when I was at Haberman Fabrics, I looked for a sweater knit and coordinated faux leather. I found a lovely combo in a deep purple/burgundy, along with a coordinating plaid wool. While I didn't know what I would do with the wool, I knew it had to come home with me!  Looking through Pinterest for ideas, I stumbled across this image and thought, "Damn. Gotta have it."

Skirt: Vogue 8750

Talk about easy, this skirt went together very quickly. Well drafted, the style lines are fantastic and perfect for leather. I used a teflon foot and leather needle for construction, and my only complaint is that I'll need to go back and line it, as the faux leather is quite "noisy" when I walk?! Sorry about the shadows in the pics that are hiding the seamlines, It's tough with the contrast of the snow!

Sweater: Burda 6990
This sweater knit had a really neat woven pattern to it, but it also had WAY more stretch than necessary! At the time I was sewing this, Kyle was using the same knit (but in ivory) for a Renfrew sweater (which made the project like a mini sew along). Anyhow, the Burda pattern has this HUGE cowl, which can be worn down around the shoulders, or loose around the neck. Super comfy sweater, I'll definitely make it up again, but do view A next time (no cowl).

Back to the Bomber jacket...
McCalls 7100

I liked the style of the pockets on view A best, so I proceeded, cutting a size Medium (which fits pretty perfectly), but added 2" to the length at the hem. Even though the pattern doesn't call for a lining, I dug around in the stash and pulled out some black poly lining to protect the wool (and my skin).

I cut the pockets out of the lining fabric and skipped the front facing, since I added the lining anyway. I needed a 22" separating zipper (since I added some length), and the rib knit is bamboo, also from Haberman's.

I'll be honest, the pattern illustrations are a little wacky, it took me a few minutes of studying to figure out the pockets and if you don't line it, the facing and bottom ribbing installation looks a little strange.  But, now that I've been through it once, I'll definitely be using this pattern again, it's really pretty perfect! The wool is substantial, thick enough to be really cozy and I wasn't even cold taking these pictures. I'm really glad that I added the 2" to the hem, I think it will rest in a better spot in the back, especially when I sit.

Sorry for the super long post, but there was lots to share! Pretty proud of myself for turning all that fabric over in less than 6 months! I really feel compelled to keep moving on the rotation of fabrics and patterns, as it doesn't do me any good sitting on the shelf! I'd rather have it hanging in my closet!!!

Friday, February 20, 2015


Sewing with a plan. Yup, I definitely need a plan.
Between a stop at Joann's and today's mail delivery, I'd better get my plan in order!

After spotting Taylor Swift in this Oscar de la Renta dress on Pinterest, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Found a link to the original ($2590), which only fanned the flames more! The blue graphic print is a poly charmeuse roll end (1 3/8 yd) and the coordinating navy solid is 1 yd of RPL, both from Emma One Sock.  The pattern is Vogue 8667, view E. Even though it was on sale, it seemed silly to pay for shipping a single pattern, so I also ordered Vogue 9077 & 1440, and McCalls 7091.
9077 (denim), 1440 (white blouse), 7091 (for my girl)

This morning I needed to pick up 2 zippers at Joann Fabrics, but of course, I left with more than that!
Buttericks were 3 for $5 and these 2 knits were too pretty (and on sale) to pass up!

Butterick 6054 is for the McCall's Wrap Dress Sew Along and the blue fabric pictured will be used (I think I have an addiction to blue fabrics lately). The colorful print is a beautiful spandex knit that will either become McCalls 7046 or Butterick 6166.

So, I'm putting myself on a fabric and pattern diet until I finish some of these garments! 3 dresses doesn't seem so impossible, and I'd really love to make Little Miss (not so little anymore, though) a couple of things, too. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Red Hot Valentine!

When I last posted... this dress was sketched out, but need to be muslined.

Turned out that those little pleats on the skirt just weren't right for me. The skirt profile was not as flattering as I'd like, so after some advice from sewing friends, I switched it out for a plain flat front skirt, and was so much happier!  The muslin was also a chance for me to audition the sleeve options, and I definitely preferred the pleated band as opposed to the short sleeve, so my plan of action was ready to be executed!

Butterick 6129: Off the shoulder pleated bands.
Butterick 5814: Surplice wrap bodice (front and back, and skirt back).
Butterick 5947: Straight skirt (front only).
  • I wanted the bodice side pleats to extend into the side seam, so I had to add some space into the bodice front pattern piece, and reshape the curve.
  • I used only the skirt back of 5814 so that the back darts would match the bodice back darts.
  • I eliminated the bottom pleat of the arm band, as I felt it was more visually pleasing with 3 pleats instead of 4. I simply folded the extra fabric up into the inside, which finished the inside of the band quite nicely.
The fabric is silk taffeta from Haberman Fabrics, here in Michigan. Love that store!!! Actually, everything (lining, zipper, thread, rigilene boning, horsehair braid) all came from Haberman's. I caught the silk on sale, and while taffeta wasn't my first choice, it's amazing how the underlining changes the drape! I had some red silk organza in the stash for a different project, so I used that to underline the skirt. I wanted more structure in the top for the rigilene, though, so I used some cotton for the bodice underlining.

Getting the proper order of construction together was my greatest challenge, so I just went slow and thought things out before stitching anything down. I placed the rigilene along both side seams, in a line up to the armhole "peak" of the front and also on the back. 2 yards of rigilene was pretty much what I used. I also bought 2 yards of horsehair braid to stitch along the top bodice lining edge for added stability. I used Gertie's blog post about it, and it worked beautifully. The most important thing to do with the Rigilene is to wrap the ends, or the plastic with rub through the lining and scratch you all night. 

 I knew the lining would hide the underlining (striped cotton), so I didn't worry too much about that. If I had to do over again, I would've used the pattern pieces for the lining (darts) rather that making extra layers with side pleats, but with all the other changes I made, it was easier to just stick with what was working.

At this point, I was over the moon. Overjoyed that my vision had (mostly) become a reality, and I was thrilled.

I forgot to photograph the back, sorry! Just an invisible zipper back there anyway! I was really pleased with the how well the inner structure of the bodice behaved, there was no gaping open, it fit my body closely and kept everything concealed (the way it should)!

My fear was that the arm bands would be restricting, but they really weren't, I had no trouble on the dance floor at all! ;)
We had a wonderful time helping to raise money for the Great Lakes Burn Camp and we look forward to attending again next year!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Valentine's Dress

DH and I are going to a dinner dance fundraiser for Valentine's and I'm so excited to make myself something fancy for once!

The Fashionary sketchbook was a Christmas gift this year, and I'm loving it! I can't draw to save my life, but I can connect the dots... each page has 3 silhouettes, very faint and dotted silhouettes and you just have to draw the style lines on the figure! I found it on the Mood website and am so glad to have this new resource in the tool kit! I took it with me to Haberman's this weekend and it was so nice to have a hard copy of my "vision", along with my shopping list of yardage and notions.

The dress is a composite of 3 different Butterick patterns... the skirt from one, the bodice from another and the sleeve from the last. But, it won't be as easy as it sounds since 1) I need to grade the sizing up and 2) I want the bodice pleats to end at the side seam.

The skirt will be the straight skirt from 6019 (the easy part), with the surplice bodice of 5814, but I'd rather have the complete off the shoulder look of 6129 (just can't talk myself into the easy route). Haberman's was having a silk demo and sale Saturday (my birthday!), so I grabbed some classic red silk taffeta to come home with me. If I was more brave, I'd have bought charmeuse, but it's one of those fabrics that I "love the idea of", but working with it frustrates me (even after paying close attention during the demo class)!

I've already traced off the pattern and re-graded for my size (and added 1" length to the bodice), but all those changes make me nervous, even though I'm going to do a muslin and there's nothing to be afraid of. Out came the pattern drafting reference books and I'm quite tempted to just start from scratch.

Since I already have it all traced off and ready to go, I'm going to attempt to "frankenpattern" the bodice first and if it's awful, I'll make my first ever attempt at pattern drafting! Is it weird that I kind of hope it is awful so that I'm forced to take this first step toward gaining a new skill that I've always wanted? I'll keep you posted (sooner than my last post, sorry)!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Progress in Organization

  Before and After

So much better!!!
I still need to make the ironing board and make the base with casters, but so far... I am in love! DH came up with a possible tank holder fix, too... So stay tuned!

The blue bridesmaid dress in the picture is one of two that are in for altering. The hems are both done and one needed taking in, so that's out of the way. Left to do is stitching on the straps that the bride wanted everyone to add to their gowns. Everyone had to pay the dress shop an extra $15 for these lovelies...
Can you believe it?!?! I was in shock when the customer handed me these. I couldn't hide the look of disbelief on my face, and she admitted that they don't look right. She pulled out the pair for her daughter's dress to compare and they are not only as poorly made, they are even wider?!?! Oh, and the shop only gave her daughter one strap, they shorted her a strap!  I told her that I wouldn't want them looking different from the other girls, so I won't re-do them, but I will adjust her daughters to be the same width and I'll make another to match!  

Have you ever seen anything like this before???

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vogue Jacket 8839

I feel silly that it took me so long to see this project come to fruition, when the actual construction time was next to nothing! Leave it to me to turn a simple unlined jacket into a complicated project...

What came first: the pattern or the fabric? The fabric!
I picked up this lovely brocade from Emma One Sock last winter during a roll end sale. I fell in love with the red/black/silver print, but knew that a yard and 2/3 would limit my options. When it arrived and I saw that it was also flocked... it had to become a jacket of some type.

Pattern Description: Vogue 8839
MISSES' JACKET: Loose-fitting jacket has contrast reverse side, front extending into collar, collar/front/sleeve/lower bands, side front seams, welt pockets, darted sleeve cap, no shoulder seams, and topstitching. Bands (collar, sleeve, lower): cut on crosswise grain of fabric.
FABRICS: For Moderate Stretch Knits: Wool Jersey, Sweatshirt Fleece, Double Knit.

Hmm... Moderate Stretch Knit? Nope. Going to move forward anyway? Yup!
NOTE: There is no hem allowance included. Raw edges. This issue (since my fabric was not a knit, frayed and unraveled) altered my pattern layout (causing said complication). Once I cleared that hurdle, life was good!

The pattern also makes use of the wrong side of the fabric as the contrasting bands. The EOS fuzzy brocade didn't have that different of a wrong side, and since I needed more fabric anyway (the pattern calls for 2 1/4 yd for size M), I was on the look out for a coordinating fabric to make up the difference. I got super lucky at the American Sewing Expo in September when Haberman Fabrics had the perfect red/black/silver wool, so I scooped up a yard!

Pattern Sizing: XS - XXL, I made up a Medium, and it's nearly perfect. As usual, the sleeves are about an inch too long, but it's winter and I'm cozy now!

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, I think so.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, but remember, I chickened out on the welt pockets. Good instructions, though.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
LIKES: Super easy and fast sew! No hemming at all!
DISLIKES: Slightly shapeless. No hemming at all?

Fabric Used: 1 2/3 yards of fuzzy brocade from Emma One Sock, 1 yards of wool tweed from Haberman Fabrics. No closures.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
1. I eliminated the welt pockets. Lazy bones here. I just finished a really complicated project for a client and desperately needed a quick sew. Welt pockets (do not equal) quick sew. While I'm slightly ashamed, I'm don't regret my decision.
2. I did NOT use a stretch fabric. The sleeves do have a more narrow fit, so you may want to double check arm circumference against the pattern if you choose to break the rules, too. One piece (I think the sleeve cuff) did need an additional 1/2" since it had no stretch.
3. I used my serger to finish the edges of the pieces that didn't have a fringy selvedge. I used my serger A LOT, as it's an unlined jacket and the front inside seams flip out as part of the intended design.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes and Yes. I would definitely make it again, if I found the right fabrics. With a slightly loose fit, this would also make a great gift for a friend.

Conclusion: I really do love this alternative to a cardigan. Now that I've done it once, I know what to do next time, so this already "easy make" will be even easier! Love, love, love!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

In Progress: B6104 (Inspired by Gucci)

Last month McCall Pattern Company was sponsoring a Pinterest contest for Fall/Winter sewing inspiration.  As I was combing the boards for ideas and filling up my own inspiration board, I stumbled across the Gucci Fall/Winter 2014 collection and fell in love...

This coat just took my breath away. The silhouette, high collar, and row of buttons... I was instantly obsessed. It's such a stylish feminine coat... and exactly what I needed for fall. I have a long winter coat, but I really need something of a medium weight and length.

Butterick 6104 grabbed by attention, as it has a similar collar and opening.  The addition of the patch pockets wouldn't be an issue, but how closely did I really want to match the Gucci coat? I love the single row of button extending up, but... wasn't so sure about buttoning all the way to my shoulder. I love the high collar (looks so regal!), but did I want it to fit that closely?

I decided to leave the coat with the Butterick collar and front edge opening, but add the single row of buttons, patch pockets and 1" of length to the top bodice pieces (I always need a little extra length in the waist on the "big 4"). I'm not thrilled about losing the "useful" pockets hidden in the seam, though. Patch pockets aren't very useful, in my opinion, and I know I'll want at least one useful pocket for my keys. Hmm...

Fabric: 2 1/2 yards from The Wool House (Toronto). Oh my goodness, the fine wool fabrics they brought to the Sewing Expo in Novi!!! The owner found me petting a bolt of camel wool, complimented me on my taste and explained that it was $85/yd.  Would I like some? Oh my... too big for my budget! Even after he adjusted the price (since there was only 15 minutes left before the show floor closed for the night), I still couldn't pull the trigger. But, he had this lovely rose/mauve wool at $35/yd, and still discounted it further, so I splurged and bought it.

Buttons: Soutache (Chicago). Maili (the owner) had a small booth just across from The Wool House, and had just what I needed when I showed her the picture of the Gucci coat. It was narrowed down to 2, but the varying metallic tone on this looked so "warm" with the color of the wool... and the emblem on them is very "smart", so it was a sale. Another splurge, at $4/button, but I'm working from a Gucci perspective, so what do you expect?!

When you consider that this dress (similar, but no sleeves) is $1950, then I was able to purchase "my version" at a 95% discount! ;) Look honey, I saved you $1800!!! Geez, when you put it that way... maybe that camel fabric was a deal!

The buttons are only pinned on. They make me happy.
So, here is where I stand... I followed the pattern instructions and used fusible interfacing on just the front bodice piece and the collar. The wool has a lovely drape and I want to keep it a "mid-weight" coat. It went together very quickly and I'm loving the length.

I need to decide on the lining, though. I've got beige silk charmeuse that I bought from Ressy's co-op years ago. I'm wondering if I shouldn't go for a better match, though.  The pattern doesn't include self fabric facings for the lining, so I'm afraid that the beige will peek out from the button placket. I do have about 3/8 yd left, so I could make my own facings, couldn't I? Hmm....

I also picked up this buckle at the Expo from Vogue Fabrics (50 cents!). It's the right color and shape, but I've never made a buckled belt before! Embroider the holes? Use eyelets? I'm afraid they'll fall out. Maybe I should just buy a slide buckle? This part of the process will require more research...