Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Playing Around With Bias Strip Applique Again

So, I was stumbling over my spools of bias trim wondering what my next project with them would be. I loved the skirt I made for Little Miss and decided I wanted one for myself.

This time, I decided make mine a bit different and used out of print McCalls 4457 pattern as my base.

I cut the pieces for cotton in my stash. I chose fabrics I would likely not use for anything else because they would be covered by the bias strips.  After sewing the long seam, I drew lines 1" apart and applied the strips 1/4" from the the edge of the strip. For this skirt, I only sewed one end of the strip down allowing the other to hang free. I began sewing at the bottom of the skirt allowing the succeeding strip to overlap the one before. 

I sewed past the edge of the fabric and serged them down when they were all done. 
I even like the stitching on the flip side.

Overskirt and underskirt
I got to this point of the construction and did not know what to do with the upper portion. I thought going in the opposite direction would be interesting so I changed direction. It was distracting to look at so I unpicked it all. I decided to continue on the same path as before using the color from the bottom.

I joined the underskirt to the outer skirt allowing it to be lined with wrong sides together. I installed an invisible zipper and applied facing to the waistband.

The last thing to be done was the hand-sewing of the hem. I slip-stitched the entire length of it by securing it to the lining. This was a tedious, but worthwhile task to not have any stitches show on the outside. 

For a project that I started without a complete vision, I am very pleased.
This skirt by the numbers:
✂ Base fabric: 3 1/8 yards 
✂ Rows of bias: 54 
✂ Shortest length: 2.5" 
✂ Longest length: 47"
✂ Total length of bias: 47 yards. 
✂ Length of hem to hand sew: 5.5 yards 

I love the lines of the bias and the texture it gives. The unfinished edges will weather with time, wear and washing. I am excited to watch this fall apart in the best way.

The completion of this shirt coincides with the PR Skirt contest so I have entered it. We will see how that goes.

I have yards and yards of these colors of bias as well as green and blue still. I am excited to see how I use them next.

Happy Sewing,

Thursday, June 9, 2016

On Trend and Off the Shoulder


So I was kinda in love with the Simplicity 8124 Cynthia Rowley off the shoulder dress when I saw it. It is fun and flirty and I thought it would be cute to make. I have seen pattern reviews and loved a few. I had doubts about the length and fabric fullness at the bust, but decided to give it a go.

My dress did not turn out as expected; it was a disaster! There is so much ease in this dress it was unflattering. The shoulders kept rolling up and when down, I felt like I could not raise my arms. I spent some time fiddling with it to make it work. In the end, decided to move on.

I thought I had a similar style in my stash and found Simplicity Jiffy 8978. I used it to make a dress a few years ago that was hidden in my closet. It was the look and feel for which I was going.

I shortened the dress to the point of the side slits of the pattern and whipped this up.

I love the narrower silhouette and wide drapey sleeves. The shoulders stay in place and are very comfortable.

I like that if I choose, I can wear the shoulders up too!

It feels good to bounce back from a sewing fail with a good result.

It was so fast to come together, I made another in an Ankara, wax print. 

The weight of the wax print is heavier than the lightweight denim of the other dress. This makes the sleeves stand up in a slightly more structured way and it gathers less on the elastic.

I love that a bold fabric like this wax print can take a simple shape and add some drama.

 This was the feel I was hoping for with my Simplicity 8124 version.

I compared the pattern pieces for both patterns to see the difference. There is an 4-inch difference at the fold on the front and back. That is a 16-inch difference around! The rest of the pattern is pretty much the same.

Cynthia Rowley -----------------------------------------Out of Print Jiffy
If you want a more streamlined version of the Cynthia Rowley dress, cut your size then fold that pattern down four inches before cutting your fabric. There is a wider triangular base on the C.R. pattern which you can taper down if you like. My concern was the bulk at the bust so I would leave that part alone.

Happy Sewing,

Monday, May 30, 2016

Paradiso Designs Boho Frock and a Giveaway!!

Oh Bianca, where art thou? Where have I been? Over on Instagram getting instant gratification without writing an endless post like the one you are about to read (please read it). I know it is terrible to say, but it is partly true. I have been hanging out and posting existing makes there during Me Made May. I have been working on wearing clothes that I had or remakes using pattern I had already sewn. I did not have many new makes to blog about so I have been neglectful, but that will change I promise. 

Today's Me Made May look is a new make from an Indie Designer and I am so happy to share it with you.

I first saw this pattern it at the International Quilt Festival and thought it was so cute. 

I really wanted to find the right fabric to make this fun dress. In my stash, I found a vintage tablecloth. It has a lovely flower motif, but had a few age spots and stains. I planned to address that  with some fabric dye later. 

It is a fun dress that can be made in three different lengths, babydoll, midi and maxi. I chose the babydoll length for my first one.

I am lazy in that once I learn a pattern company, I am reluctant to learn a new one unless I love the design. I loved the BoHo Frock when I saw the samples at the International Quilt Festival. My love of the dress and variations available in the diversions  made me get over my reluctance to try something new.

The instructions are very detailed and appear overwhelming, but are not. The booklet is not like the big four pattern companies so that was a minor mental block of mine. I read it once and I was good to go. It is intuitive and worth trying.

Because I was using a tablecloth with lace trim, I had to tweak my construction steps. It was fun playing with pattern placement to maximize the fabric. I  stitched the sleeves in flat to be sure the lace portions matched up. 

Sleeves being stitched in flat.
I left the sleeve and dress hems trimmed with the original lace. I serged the seams for a clean finish and fed the threads tails back into the seam.

Hiding the thread tails

The dress came together very quickly.

Because of the dinginess and age of the tablecloth, I wanted to tie dye the fabric.
Rubber banded

I began with Navy blue dye

After the first pass in the dye bath, it was too light. I redyed it in a turquoise bath and love the result!

My daughter was mystified that my black slip under the dress camouflaged my undergarments. She was really nervous about preserving my modesty.

 I really love the way the dye came out!

I am really happy with my dress and feel silly for taking so long to make it.

Cheryl has expanded the original pattern options with her diversions. It allows to to make changes to the Boho Frock for more looks. I will be trying one of these soon maybe in a sew along?

To share this awesome dress, I have partnered with Cheryl of Paradiso Designs to give one lucky reader a Boho Frock Duo Pattern set. That is the original Boho Frock pattern and the Diversions!

The contest starts tomorrow so be sure to check back. If you follow me on IG I will remind you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

If you have not had enough of me by now, I was featured as a Paradiso Passionate Sewist and you can read the story on Cheryl's blog. 

Happy Sewing,

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Afro Diva Pincushions

So, I have been printing more fabric of my lovely handmade afro-haired sunglasses wearing diva. 

I have gotten carried away and decided to make a few pincushions. The base is the printed fabric with applique hair and embroidery accents in the hair and lips. This is a large pincushion that measures approximately 6inx6inx1in. It is filled with crushed walnut shells for weight and stability.

I have such fun playing in her "hair" with the pins!

I made a couple for friends and decided to have an Instagram swap with the extras. The support for the pincushions was positive and I was encouraged to make more to sell. I thought it was a good idea and have added them to my Etsy store. You can see them all in my store below.


Happy Sewing, Bianca

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Bias Tape Dress is Done! Just in time for the Dance!

Slow and steady wins the race they say. I am happy to take on long hand-sewing projects, but I like my machine projects fast. This dress took 2.5 weeks of constant sewing in every available moment and I am pleased with every second. I began this project after making Little Miss the bias tape skirt and coveting hers. I have been charting the dress making progress on my Instagram  and have appreciated the cheering on. 

It all started with a few thrifted spools of bias tape, The Party Dress Book and an invitation to a dance fundraiser. I rarely have occasion to wear a dress like this and was thrilled when the stars aligned for me to make this. 


After having used the reds for the previous skirt, I opted to use the blue and green bias with my project. The colors as they were felt a bit flat to me, so I painted them. I used multiple colors of metallic spray paint to add dimension to to the plain strips. 


I searched my stash for a print fabric to add to the blue and green bias. I found "Paisley" by Amy Butler's "Love" line. 


I cut a bajillion strips of the bias fabric the base fabric from the skirt pattern in the book. I decided to make separates to get the most use of the pieces in the long term.

After making the skirt for my daughter, I was looking for a faster way to apply the strips to the base fabric. I used an extra large twin needle to allow me to sew two lines of stitches at once. I used blue, green, pink and white threads. The colours coordinated with the print and would not be a glaring contrast. It took a few rows to get a hang of sewing double strips, but once I did, it went relatively fast.

After sewing the strips to the skirt, I applied a basic waistband and an invisible zipper at the center back.

The skirt is pretty full, but I wanted to be sure it maintained its' fullness with movement. I knew I needed a petticoat. I found one at an estate sale that needed some modifications and repair. 

Vintage petticoat.

I added six layers of tulle to the petticoat I may add more in time, but it was an unwieldy task .

Skirt with petticoat under.
After making the skirt, I still needed a pattern for the top. I found Simplicity 4885. It has the look of the bodice of the dress in the book, but is designed as separates. This meant I would not have to modify it like I would have for the top from the book. 


I placed the strips on the bodice, added a full lining and an invisible zipper.

Full lining
A note on the bodice. The photo on me on the first photo was taken when I thought I was done. I looked at the pics and decided I did not like the curve along the bust line. I deconstructed it and reworked the print strips to the positions as seen in the final photos. My suggestion to you if you make this is begin your strip placement at the bust line and then sew above and below that strip. It may reduce the chance of curving. 

Simplicity 4885

The completed ensemble.
Little Miss saw the skirt on my custom dressform BIRA and asked if this was for a contest. I was not making it for one, but after checking Pattern Review, I saw this qualified for the Bargainista Fashionista contest there.  You get to make a designer garment at a bargain price. The contest does not factor in labor, so I was able to make my dress for $22!
I called Mary Adams to find out the cost of the dress as it was not available online. After making this, when she said $1700, I was not surprised! I would charge that and more for my less than wonderful version! :)

The contest review asks specific questions and you can read my review here. It includes some other details that would have made this already long post, longer. If I have missed something please let me know. I have been in this dress for weeks and feel like I am coming out of a fog.

The dance was last weekend and we had a blast!

I am so happy I made my dress. In a sea of traditional black tie dresses, I am happy I stood out in my strip pieced dress.

 There were a few bug eyes when I shared, that I made this. 

This dress is fun to wear and fun to make. 

Happy Sewing,