Monday, March 22, 2021

Searching for the Rainbow Connection


So much ugh! With this pandemic, the recent Texas freeze, and vaccine delays I am so ready for a change and a new season. I am very happy to welcome Spring and a wardrobe shift. I briefly saw a fun, multicolored dress on a commercial. I loved the irregular pattern of the bold colors and the tiered maxi style. It was fun, colorful and I was inspired to make one.  

The dress reminded me of one of my favorite maxi dress patterns, Butterick 5637. I am always looking for a reason to make this one.

After an extensive failed internet search for an irregular design rainbow fabric, I decided to make my own. I ordered 10, 1/2 yard cuts of bright colors of interlock knit fabric from Nature's Fabrics. 

The plan was pretty simple, I maintained the lengths of the 1/2 yard cuts and cut them to various widths. I pinned and serged them together along the long edges with variegated threads. 

After seeing the finished edge, I contemplated constructing the dress with the seams exposed. In the end, I decided it might be too busy with the color-blocking of this dress. I am storing that idea for another project down the road though.

I continued sewing until I had my yardage all sewn together.

Then, I cut the pattern out with my rotary cutter and my Strong Women pattern weights.

Strong Women Pattern Weights

I made a few changes to original design. I cut my usual size medium, but I could have sized the bodice down to a small. The pattern is designed for woven fabrics and with the switch to a knit, I had to remove excess fabric from the side seams. 


I omitted the gathers at the neckline in favor of a block design. The tight bunching was in conflict with the lines of the skirt. 

Because of the stretch of the fabric, I omitted the back zipper. Taking it off and on is not an issue so it was unnecessary. 

This dress was labor-intensive with my making the fabric and gathering 3 tiers of skirting. It was not difficult, but was a perfect temporary distraction from reality. I am pleased with the results of my work and the bit of brightness added to my wardrobe. 

Happy Sewing,

Friday, January 15, 2021

Making Lemonade with Liberty Emporium

Have you had a project that does not go right from the beginning? I've been sewing for quite a while. I don't very often have sewing mishaps with commercial patterns. I know what size to cut and any adjustments I need to make it right before I sew. When I saw the Liberty Emporium fabric collection by Riley Blake Designs, I immediately had a plan in mind for the two fabrics I chose. I was planned to make a mixed print tiered dress. 

I loved the dress I previously made with Liberty cottons and had planned to make a new version with a different pattern. When the fabrics arrived, side by side, I didn't think they would work like wanted. I was slightly disappointed and decided to change my plan. I switched it to make a pattern that has been in my stash waiting for the perfect fabric match.

I absolutely love the sleeves of view A of this dress! I immediately planned to use the Melton Rose F print to make it. I thought the quilting cotton weight would define the sleeves very well giving some drama to the fairly simple dress.

I made it up in my usual size and was surprised to find it was a complete disaster! The bodice was too big and where it met the skirt, stood away for my body in a very unflattering way. I showed my honest, supportive family and they unanimously decided it was an epic fail. They determined that and I looked like a pregnant mushroom! I was disappointed, but knew they were correct. 
I wanted it to work and I did not want to waste this fabric. I put the dress in timeout for a moment and decided to make a dress with the Merchant's Tree print. 

After reading 
Pattern Review opinions of the Cynthia Rowley, Simplicity 8264 mini dress, I thought I would have success with this fun minidress. 

I love the ruffled neckline and details on the sleeves.

My knee surgeries of the last year have finally healed. I no longer need to wear support braces that require the camouflage of maxi dresses and long skirts. My recent makes have been a celebration of that fact.

I made this dress straight from the package with the only adjustment being adding some back darts to pull in the fullness as one reviewer recommended.

I love this fun and flighty dress. The time away from the failed dress was just what I needed to rethink that garment. The sleeves are the best feature of that pattern and I wanted to preserve them. I reworked the upper bodice and took away some of the fullness of the skirt. When that still failed to satisfy as a dress, I cut the front open, finished the seams, and added some buttons to close it. These few changes allowed me to convert the abysmal dress into a coordinating topper for the dress. 

I got to salvage the sleeves I loved and make something wearable. 

I would not have conceived this combination from the beginning of this project. Now they are paired together, I like it a lot.

The work and success of the sleeve construction made it worthwhile for me to attempt to save this dress. I am glad I decided to not call it quits with this seemingly failed project. 

When you have an apparent sewing fail, what helps you decide if you will keep going or throw in the towel?


Monday, January 11, 2021

Pieced Chevron Erin Dress

The turning of vintage quilts into wearable coats is a growing trend in the maker community. I love the idea have a few candidates under consideration. Until I can make a final decision I decided to add some quilt blocks to a new dress.

A friend gave me the Erin Dress pattern by Style Sew Me a few months ago. I loved the oversized t-shirt style, the pockets and adorable side ties. I have seen a few versions of this dress in fun prints and bold colors. I decided to put my creative spin on it with a mash up of quilt blocks and cotton jersey hand-sewing. 

I chose organic cotton jersey from Nature's Fabric in Brick, White and Beige. This knit fabric has a nice weight, but on its' own would not hold up to the rigors of the manipulation required for piecing. It needed to be stabilized so it would hold its shape and not get wavy.

I will walk you through the steps I took to make this dress. Cut two 12in.x12in. squares of the beige and the white jersey fabrics. Place them in a gallon size freezer bag, saturate them with Terial Magic, squish around to absorb the product. Once you are confident they were covered and damp to the touch, pressed them dry with a dry iron.

The product changes the hand of the fabric allowing it to behave as a starched woven fabric. To make the blocks, pin one white, to one beige fabric, right sides together, raw edges. Draw diagonal lines from corner to corner.

Using a walking foot, stitch 1/4in. on either side of the drawn line. (My disappearing marker works fast!)

Cut the blocks along the drawn lines to form 4 triangles, then again down the centers to get 8 triangles.

Press the block open, fold the seam allowances toward the darker fabric. Trim the dog ears from the corners.

Audition potential layout options and choose the one you like best. Each one has it's own appeal and I figured I could not go wrong whichever choice I made. If you use 4 different colors of squares, you will have more design options from which to choose.

Stitch two squares together at the center in a 1/4in. seam allowance. Stitch two pairs together along the long edges. 

Repeat until the panel is complete and is as long as the dress. If it is longer, trim it down to match or fold the pattern up a bit to shorten the pattern, like I did.
Add enough fabric on either side of the pieced panel to fit the width of the dress, cut and stitch to complete dress front. Follow the pattern instructions to complete the dress.

I originally cut the medium size in this pattern. When I factored in the the knit fabric and structure of the panel, I decided to size down. I folded down 1in. on the center front and center back reducing the circumference by 4in. I also made this adjustment to the facing pieces.

When I conceived this dress idea, I knew I wanted to add hand sewn accents, but I wanted to see it before decided on the placement.

I decided to use button and craft thread in the color Natural, to stitch the seam allowances down on the Brick and Beige.

I love the texture it adds to the shapes. I washed the dress to remove the Terial Magic and return the jersey to its normal hand.

I considered a panel on the back as well, but thought the front only was more striking.

I love this fun and sassy mini dress!

With all the possible panel choices and my stash of cotton jersey, I am pretty sure I will be making more versions of this dress. My hubby's reaction to the slight opening at the thigh, all but confirms it.

Happy sewing,

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Holiday Time is the Perfect Time for Cozy Sparkle

I am so happy it is Winter holiday time! We have been teaching our third and sixth graders  virtually while we work from home since the start of the pandemic. We did not opt for the on-campus learning option for our school district thinking it was the safer choice. Throughout the semester, there have been weekly notifications of new Covid-19 cases among students and staff in both of their schools. It is unfortunate, but reinforced our decision to teach them at home. We are grateful for the opportunity to have them at home and keep them kids safe. That being said, since Spring, it has been a lot! 

We are all at home on Christmas vacation relishing the opportunity to spend good time together. We are enjoying holiday fun, activities and relaxing. For me, relaxing self-care includes taking advantage of every opportunity to sleep in. I love a cute pair of pajama shorts and needed to make a few new pair. This wonderful Sparkle Basics from Riley Blake was a perfect opportunity to come up with a new sleep ensemble.

I chose the Drawstring Lounge Shorts from the Sew Quick + Easy pattern collection I edited for Sew News. It is a fast and easy pattern with an elastic waist and drawstring casing. It is perfect for beginners but also great for a quick and easy project for someone with more advanced skills.

I whipped up a pair in the Text Rose Gold  and the Small Stripe Rose Gold prints. I layered both fabrics for fast and easy batch cutting and sewing. I was delighted to see how the fabric matched my Strong Women Pattern Weights.

I topped them both with ready to wear tops already in my wardrobe. I added a cute pocket to the tank top version and left the V-neck, as is.

I added a cute self-drafted sleep mask to trick my body and kids, into maybe, one more hour of sleep.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I hope you find time to rest, recharge and relax in a way that brings you joy and peace.