Sunday, May 19, 2019

My New Favorite Dress Pattern

I may be a dress convert. This one took me right around the corner. Or the bend.

In the last few sewing sessions, I've made some tunics that were - let me be honest - dresses. Yes, dresses. How can this be?!

The one I just completed is based on a 2018 issue of Sew Confident. I had made the swing tee with neckline and sleeve mods, so I was pretty sure I would like it lengthened.

Lengthening sounds pretty straight-forward but I actually learned something from their lengthening process. If I had simply added inches to the bottom, it would have been voluminous. So I'm glad I had the tutorial.

The tutorial also contains interesting pockets constructed by drafting a side panel and pocket, so well worth the read. The pockets were a little fiddly. I'm not sure I marked enough dots as my pockets are about an inch lower than they should be. Or maybe the fabric stretched.

This version is a toile. My target fabric is a purchase from the Alabama Chanin store in Florence AL. I visited with BSF Ginny and purchased a lovely navy blue knit to make a dress. As you may know, that organic-grown-spun-and-knitted-in-the-USA cotton jersey is danged expensive. As it should be. I'm not quite ready to cut into it. I'm thinking this design would be good though.

This fabric is a poly-something I purchased in Charleston years ago from a tiny fabric and alterations shop right on King Street. I think it disappeared under the weight of high rent as the edges of downtown Charleston gentrified. The fabric reminds me of our many trips there to visit our daughter over the last couple of decades. This is a benefit of stash, yes?

It is a cooperative knit - no curling, no slipping, just a little stretching. I had to play around with needle (ball point), thread (poly, since this is poly), throat plate (straight stitch), and machine foot (mostly walking foot) to get the stitches pretty.

I'm very pleased with this dress. I had occasion to wear it to the reception for an art show I'm in. The show is titled Fiber and Folk at the new Alpharetta Arts Center. These two pieces were juried in. I'm so excited!

I like this dress so much that I made another one.

This is a piece of rayon knit I purchased in Seville Spain several years ago. I think I had a tunic or tee in mind when I bought it. I just barely squeezed this dress out. I omitted the pockets so it was a very quick make.

Now I might make it with the original target fabric - my expensive Alabama Chanin knit. I am not tired of wearing or sewing knits yet, but I will be when the real summer heat arrives.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Cottage Shirt, but longer

This is sort of a dress. It's the Cottage Shirt, from the Sewing Workshop, but lengthened per a 2018 issue of Sew Confident.

I made it as originally published first, except I omitted the collar. I often omit the collar on a shirt with both the collar and stand. It's just a lot cooler during hot weather, I think. I love that first version, partially because of the gorgeous light weight linen. Also I love the deep hem that gives it weight and perfect drape.

I've decided I like this version too. It is a little different. It is comfortable. And the fabric is a gorgeous cotton ikat I purchased from Linda Lee when she came to Atlanta to teach. It was a dream to sew.

To avoid distracting show-through, I used solid white cotton batiste for the collar band facing, as well as the yoke lining. 

I made an attempt to chevron the back and failed. I'll re-do this part, with a single piece of fabric on the bias. Or maybe not. That is one thing I love about sewing my own clothes. I can make adjustments as the spirit moves me.

As usual I held my breath after completing all buttonholes except one. You know the one, right? The collar stand can be a stinker. I carefully trimmed the seam allowances for it and used my clapper to make sure it was as flat as possible. I've learned to use the manual buttonhole on my Bernina, rather than the automatic button hole for this spot. It worked!

As I worked (and worked and worked) with this ikat, I learned that there is virtually no symmetry in it. It was impossible to match the side seams AND the front, so I chose the front. Sort of.

I do love this piece of fabric. I think I have enough left to make some pretty placemats for the kitchen. But that won't happen until I fix that yoke!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Grand Sewing

This week I introduced grandchild number last to the joy of sewing. He's 3 1/2. Like his siblings and cousins before him, he started by standing to my right, removing pins as I approached them. He learned how to put them in the magnetic pin holder and how to snip threads.

Of course, this is never complicated sewing, but it is a kind of joyful sewing, just being together.

Truthfully, I made major portions of these projects while he napped.

I suggested a back pack and he approved. He suggested a lunch bag and I approved.

After we finished he packed his lunch and his back pack. We marched into the sun room and played school.

In related news, we inserted zippers with sergers during my neighborhood group, Sew Incredibles. Another quick project - thanks, Rita!

Monday, April 29, 2019

It Must Be Spring

I made a dress!

The idea of wearing a dress crops up every spring. I start seeing interesting and lovely patterns for dresses and I delude myself into thinking, yes, I will definitely wear that dress. So I buy the pattern and make the dress.

Actually there are a few dresses from previous springs that are in current rotation. I always get complements when I wear the Memphis from the Sewing Workshop. It is so comfortable. So comfortable that I have trouble remembering to suck in my belly.

The dress that caught my seasonal attention this year is the Adeline from Style Arc. It looks great on almost everyone. I'm not yet convinced it looks great on me.

Since I'm trying to use stash, and I wanted something solid colored, I chose this piece of eggplant cotton sateen from Gail K. It was fairly inexpensive, as I recall, so I figured it would be a good piece to try.

Looks pretty good with the Tremont jacket, I think.
It does not have as much drape as some of the linen Adeline's I've ogled online. I would have loved to make a linen one but just cannot justify a fabric purchase at the moment. Maybe after I burrow through stash a bit more I'll make it again in a soft linen.

As I was making it, I began to worry that it would look like scrubs lengthened to dress length. That V neck and cut-on sleeves might give it that vibe.

I've had good luck with Style Arc patterns. The only trick is to remember they 3/8 inch seam allowance, as well as the 1/4 inch seam allowance on enclosed seams.

wrote myself a note on the back side of the fabric
The instructions are minimal but there's not much need with the Adeline. StyleArc patterns tend to be several notches above something so plain as hospital scrubs. And I think this one is nicely drafted to avoid that look.

It has good bones with its lantern shape and a slight high-low hem. It has big patch pockets. And you're supposed to roll up the sleeves. Both the neckline and the hem is faced. I like a faced hem, especially with top-stitching.

I made one minor change to the size 16, bringing the V up 1 inch. I am always leery of V necks because they tend to be too deep for me. I looked at lots of them on Instagram and Pattern Review. No one mentioned a too-low neck but you can't exactly raise the neckline after the fact.

I actually think I like it. My legs are not used to seeing the light of day, but I can wear leggings, maybe. At the very least, I'll wear it around the house, and maybe to the grocery.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Class with Linda Lee

My local chapter of the American Sewing Guild recently brought Linda Lee in to give a workshop and make a presentation at our semi-annual meeting. The class centered on the Tremont jacket.

Even though I've made this jacket twice, of course I took the class. And, as expected, it was inspirational and made me want to sew even more. In fact, it made me want to sew more Tremont Jackets. Here is one Linda brought in corduroy:

For the class I chose a piece I had purchased from the Sewing Workshop a while back. It's a double knit blend of polyester, rayon and lycra with interesting texture and color. Because it's a knit, the drape is quite lovely.

I mostly finished the jacket during class. I came home with only hems and a button remaining to finish it. But other projects kept jumping in front of it. I finished the hems and even wore it without a button.

I finally added a buttonhole and button to finish it. At Linda's suggestion, I searched a found a buttonhole on my machine designed especially for knits. I made one sample and it worked perfectly. As usual, it's the little things - like learning about something already available on my machine - that make my happiest.

It took me a while to select the right button and attach it. But it is now in use!

Oh, and check out this tip from Marian Scopa in the Atlanta ASG chapter. Several years ago, she demonstrated a simple but elegant way to sew on a button without that initial ugly knot:

Cut a length of thread and thread both ends through the eye of a needle. Allow the loop formed at the bottom to be longer than than the two ends. Take a small stitch where the button is to be placed and slip the needle through the loop before pulling it tightly. I think there must be a name for this knot but I don't know what it is.

This was easy and fun.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Mix It Top, again

And again and again. This is probably the most often reproduced one in my collection - the Mix It Top from the Sewing Workshop. The pattern envelope contains the shirt, the top and the tank. I've made the other two, but the top is my all-time favorite.

After my last sewing fiasco, I was ready for some meditative sewing and some color. This project was just right.

Each time I make the Mix It Top, I adjust it. This time I altered for a forward shoulder and straightened the shoulder seam line. The original seam line is a gentle S curve, something I've not seen in any of their other patterns. With the forward shoulder change, I just straightened it out.

I measured the circumference of the sleeve cap and the armscye. This led to a 3/4 inch reduction in the sleeve cap for a smoother finish.

I also included a back seam that helps with a slight curve in my upper back. Oh, the wages of age - always need a few more tweaks in my older patterns.

That said, this was pure zen sewing. The fabric is a luscious green silk dupion that I washed once. I noticed that there is no give in either length-wise or cross-wise grains, so I cut the pieces cross-wise. This way, the slight linear slub runs up and down. I may send it to the dry cleaners now to keep the color rich. I just love this color!

As usual I was short of fabric and so used a piece of plaid silk taffeta from stash for facing the neckline, the sleeves and the hem. The neckline is a current favorite of mine, inspired by the Egyptian shirt from Folkwear.  Often when I make this modification, I turn the facing to the outside. This time, I turned the facing to the inside so that the facing shape is only visible in the top-stitching that holds it in place.

That plaid is way too wild for a stand-alone piece, but I really like it peaking out from the edges of this top.

It was lovely to sew and when I put it on, it fit. Perfectly, I think. I will of course make more Mix It Tops. It's just right for upcoming hot weather, especially in cotton.

This makes me happy.