Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cold Shoulder Goes Hot With McCalls 9238


Last month, I participated Me Made May on Instagram. The goal is to encourage sewists to wear something they made, everyday in May. I used the month to take a critical eye at my closet focusing on what I go-to and what I make then abandon. I found that I make many a-line dresses in wovens or one of a kind creative pieces not suitable for everyday wear. I realized that I needed to mix up my wardrobe with more everyday knit pieces.

I used the month to discover and be inspired by what other sewists make. Tipstitched shared her version of Vogue 9238, a pattern I recently purchased. Considering my newly identified void in my wardrobe I decided to make it.

Image result for vogue 9238
To make my version, I used a black and white geometric ITY knit bought from Fabric Mart over a year ago. 
I love the vertical lines and curves of the of the flounce when paired with this fabric. 

This fabric however, diminishes the  impact of the front panel. It is not a deal breaker, but keep this in mind when considering your fabric if you decide to make it. 

It is an easy dress to make and  would not be difficult for a newbie in knit sewing. It can be sewn solely on a regular sewing machine. I used this dress however, to prove I do, in fact, need all of my machines. I set one machine with a ball point needle for regular sewing, another with a twin needle for hems and did seam finishing on my serger. 


I think McCalls missed an advertising opportunity with this pattern. The cold shoulder is nice, but this dress shines when the flounce is worn under the arms.

Not only does it look better, it feels better. The cold shoulder on this one got in the way a bit when I was carrying my handbag. Additionally, I love that I can wear it this way when the cold shoulder trend ends.

You have heard of secret pajamas right? Comfy clothes that feel like Pj's, but look like daytime wear. While wearing this, but before seeing these photos, I thought this dress was "secret sexy", my term for modest looking clothes that feel sexy while not looking like it. 

After seeing the pictures, I am not so sure. I think wearing it the cold shoulder way is "secret sexy". Wearing it with the flounce down, it tips to "obvious sexy" making it a perfect date night dress.

 Which is your favorite way to wear it? Cold or Hot?

Speaking of favorites, I entered two of my favorite creative makes in the Threads Magazine Sew Stylish Spring Challenge. They were both chosen as finalists in the contest. This is a good thing, but I am worried that it decreases my chances of winning as it splits my voting pool. Obviously, I hope people who don't know me, would love these and vote in my favor :). If you would like to vote for me, click here to go to the page. You can vote on as many devices you have :p. 

Thanks so much to those who saw my previous post and have voted for me. I appreciate it.

Happy Sewing,

Monday, June 12, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jeans + Jeans + Skirt = Refashioned Dress

I love a good upcycle project. It is the source of much creativity (and clutter) in my life. I have a hard time getting rid of stuff because I "know I can do something with it someday". The older I get, the more I am facing my mortality and the reality that I will need to live forever to get it all done. I recently released many potential projects to someone with a longer life expectancy than I, but saved a gem or two for myself. Pattern Review is having an Upcycle Contest and it was perfect motivation to knock out one of my refashion plans.

This dress began as its' life as two pairs of jeans and a skirt. I wanted a new creation that hinted to its original form.

The key element of this dress are these beaded jeans that I found at a resale store for $1.75! They are a brand called Sassy Thai a fair trade Thailand based company that employs local artisans. Each garment is custom made to order by one or more specialist in their craft. I cannot imagine the hours that went into making these jeans.  I knew I wouldn't wear them as they were because they are not my style. I bought them and hoped for an inspired project to come to mind that would honor the work done by the original artist.

I scoured my stash and found McCalls 7187. It was a good candidate for upcycling because of the shape of the inset and the option for contrasts. I love that the inset would use most of the bead work showcasing its' beauty. 
 Image result for 7187 mccalls
I chose to make view A because I could use the segments of the pattern with the three "fabrics" I chose. The length of the inset  corresponded with the length of the beaded leg panel of the jeans. I like the version with the gathered skirt as well, but could not imagine that bulk in denim on my hips. 

Image result for 7187 mccalls

Once I decided on the pattern, the trick was to figure out the best way to cut the jeans then,

a game of Tetris with the pattern pieces to make it fit while looking cohesive.

I decided to maintain the original hems from the jeans and skirt. I liked the lace border of the jeans and did not want to disrupt that. I decided to keep the hemline of the skirt so it is consistent with that of the lace in the jeans.

When I cut the inset from the beaded jeans, the edges had some of the side leg seams visible along the edges (see cut panel photo above). Those seams did not look good alongside the even seams from the upcycled skirt. I narrowed the inset slightly to remove those seams reducing the lower inset by 1-inch on each side. I top-stitched all of my seams to reduce bulk. 

I considered a three color back, but opted to skip it given the sparkle in the front. In a stroke of fortune, the seam lines from the skirt lined up with the back darts of the back bodice.

I liked the look of the neckline as it is in the pattern. When I tried it however, I felt it was too close and sat uncomfortably on my collarbone. I cut the front collar on the fold of the leg seam. That factored into the comfort and led to me lowering the front and back neckline by 1-inch.

The drop waist on this dress is not a style to which I normally gravitate. I think however, this pattern is a perfect match to maximize the beaded leg panel.

I am really pleased with this finished dress. Do you know what the best thing is? Jeans have two legs! I have another panel to use on another refashion! I don't know what it will be, but I know it will be fun! 

Voting is open now. Click here to cast your vote! I appreciate it! 

Happy Sewing,

Friday, May 5, 2017

Springtime is for Tulips and Mccalls 7542

I am not much of a band-wagoner, but some trends cannot be ignored. Mccalls 7542 is fast becoming a very popular make in the sewing community. 

When it was initially released, I passed on it in favor of other choices. I love the sleeve options, but I thought it was a bit boxy and too short. Those are simple tweaks, but I passed on it. THEN, I started seeing the variations on Instagram and starting falling in love with it.  I found it on sale a second time so, I decided to buy it.


I made the tulip sleeve view using double-layer cotton jersey in reverse applique. I cut the pieces in my ready to wear size. This is my usual pattern conversion for jersey hand-stitching. This makes the top close-fitting, eliminating the ease. In addition, I added about 3-inches to the length and lowered the neckline by 1-inch. I sewed it with a combination of machine and hand-sewing techniques. 

To begin, I airbrushed cream-colored paint on the top layer of fabric using my flower stencil. I then added it to the back layer and stitched them together using a 5.0 stitch length using a ball point Chrome needle from Schemtz.  


Once all cut, I carefully cut the middles of the shapes taking care not to cut the bottom layer.


I really love these sleeves! I have nothing like them in my wardrobe and they really elevate a simple top.

The body of the top is made in double layers. I added a third layer to the sleeves to mask the bobbin threads on the underside. Once inserted in the body of the top, I trimmed the seam allowance of the sleeve head to reduce bulk.

To finish the neckline, I added a bias strip of jersey and stitched it in place using a hand-sewn chain stitch.

I love all the texture in this top.  As a final step, I felled the seams to the sides and top-stitched them by hand-sewing them to the back. I left the bottom of the top un-hemmed with a raw edge.

I really like this top and the drama of the sleeves. I will certainly make this again and definitely the other views. 

Happy Sewing,

Monday, April 24, 2017

Create What You Wish Existed, Embroidery Edition

Hello friends, I have been away from my sewing machine for a little bit. I have missed it, but I have been holding an embroidery hoop instead. I am sure you recall I designed some natural hair theme fabric for my daughter and myself. It was  my response to a negative comment about my daughter’s natural hair. A playmate with pin straight hair remarked that her curly ringlets when worn loose, looked “weird”. Her feelings were hurt that someone, a friend no less, would say a hurtful thing about a physical feature she loves and embraces.  

In that creative endeavor, I choose to remind her of how beautiful her/our hair is. As we continue to live, grow and craft she is expanding her skills and learning hand embroidery. While looking through my embroidery patterns she noted that none of the authors of the books illustrated people who look like her or me. She also noted that the designs I have made from these patterns do. I explained that I change the features, hair, and skin to look like I want because the designers didn't do it.

This lead to a discussion about whether people of color are excluded from designs on purpose, overlooked based on ignorance of the need, are not seen as a people who craft, or perceived as people unwilling to purchase designs. We had no definitive answers to these questions. (It is hard to explain issues of racism, institutional oppression, micro-aggression and cultural appropriation to an 8-year old without doing some emotional harm.) She did suggest I stop buying designs from people who don't think about us (smart girl!). She observed that the modifications are easy for me, so until now, I have not been troubled by it (not true, but I was rolling with it). "What about those who can't change the designs?" she asked, "What are they supposed to do?", "Will their embroidery never look like them?"

I have told you guys before that she thinks I can anything and encourages me to try. She suggested I make embroidery patterns that celebrates natural hair and sell them in my Etsy store! I had done much of the foundation work with the fabrics I printed, so we thought, why not?

My hopes with these designs are multiple:
  •        To create fun whimsical designs that celebrate the beauty of natural hair for women and girls who embrace or struggle to embrace, their hair texture.
  •   To provide racial diversity in available hand embroidery designs for all creative makers.
  •     To create a fun design that celebrates the beauty of natural hair for women and girls who appreciate natural hair, but do not wear it because it is not their natural hair texture.

    These designs are now available in my Etsy store as PDF digital downloads and printed linen fabric.

The downloads include a 7-page booklet that includes a stitch guide, pattern transfer methods and instructions for adding water color accents to your designs. 

The designs can be stitched by a beginner using one or two stitches. A more experienced stitcher can embellish the designs with more elaborate stitches. The patterns can also be used to try multiple stitches as a sampler.

The patterns are sold individually ($4), as a complete collection ($15), or pre-printed fabric ($8). 

Stitch a message to remind someone they are beautiful inside and out.

Glitter applique adds a fun, fresh and dramatic pop to the sunglasses.

This message comes in two fonts with both the Afro Diva and Afro Puff Diva.

 Mix things up with watercolor.

Or keep it plain with a pop of sparkle.

These were so fun to make. My daughter loves them all. Her favorite design is this one. She loves that it can be stitched on fabric to match anyone's skin tone.



   Her friend's
   Since sharing my daughter's story, I have gotten lots of feedback through email, Facebook, and Instagram.  Some of it has been encouragement and support, commiseration and consolation and news reports of people being ridiculed because of their hair and/or complexion. 

  There is a need for people to see positive representation of themselves in everyday life.  I feel it is important for girls and woman to see their natural selves shown with pride and fun. I made these for people with "weird" hair to remind them they are beautiful, always. I made these for those with pin straight hair, to remind them there is nothing "weird" about it. 
   The designs are now live in the Etsy shop and in my Craftsy Store! I hope you will buy and make them and have a blast doing it. I also hope you will share the link/image on social media. There is a someone who needs a reminder that they are beautiful, naturally.

   Happy Sewing,