Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer is for Maxi Dresses


I love an airy maxi dress for hot summer days. I recently made Mccalls 7121 in a rayon jersey from Fabric Mart. This dress was fast to sew and feels fantastic to wear. 

I love this easy pattern and fun fabric options on the pattern cover. When making my dress, I opted to skip the instructions and sew the dress to include an all-in-one facing for the shoulder and neck edges. I wanted to have a clean finish on all the edges and not fiddle with hemming them. To do this, I sewed the front bodice to the front skirt, leaving the center seam unsewn. I then sewed the front to back at the shoulders.

Dress back at the bottom of the frame and the separate front pieces are at the top. 
I made the facing by copying the bodice front and back pattern pieces so the top is a double layer. My fabric is very light so it is not bulky. I then sewed the shoulder seams together. I pinned them right sides together to the dress and sewed the neckline and armholes leaving the lower portions open for turning. My Afro Diva Pincushion is supervising every step of the way.


After turning, I opened out the seams and sewed them right sides together, end to end closing all the seams. I tacked the facing to the dress at the side seams and a few places along the waist seam to prevent rolling.

At this point, I tried it on and liked the fit without the elastic casing so I left it out. I liked the slight nip at the waist without the feel of the bunching there.


I have littles who love leg hugs and cuddles. a center front slit is not a good idea. I shifted it to the right side and hemmed it with a twin needle.


I love a racerback and this one is defined, yet provides great bra coverage.


This fabric is luscious and feels wonderful! Thank you to those of you who voted for my bias strip skirt in the PR contest. I used my prize gift certificate to purchase this and 17 pounds of wonderful fabric from Fabric Mart.

It is my first purchase from the site and I am pretty pleased. The fabric quality, shipping and customer service was all great. With the end of Hancock Fabrics, this is a welcome find.


While I have your ear, I have entered a Facebook contest that is based on "likes". Why as an introvert I would enter a popularity contest is still nuts to me, but I am stretching myself. Anyway, I would really appreciate it if you would risk the political and racial posts of friends and acquaintances and vote for my dress by "liking" it. 

This is the link to make my day :) by voting for my Alabama Chanin Handsewn dress.

Thanks and Happy Sewing,

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,