Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hand-Dyed Shibori Spring Jacket Using Vogue 1493


Spring is upon us. In Texas, it is that temperamental place where layering is necessary because the day may begin in the 40's and end in the 80's. I have gotten used to wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a lightweight topper to add style and pop to such an uninspired base layer.  


I won several patterns during the Fabric Mart Challenge last year. It was about the same time I saw Meg at Mccalls make up Vogue 1493. I loved her grey version so much I added this to my list. 

Funny thing, by the time the pattern arrived, I had forgotten the inspiration and was certain I had made a typo when sending the pattern numbers on! Did I really want to make this? 
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Image result for vogue 1493
The pattern cover, as made, is not my style. When I checked the line drawings, I as was reminded of what I liked about it. 

                 Image result for vogue 1493
My knee surgery has limited my sewing output, but not my creative energy. The recuperation period gave me some time to dedicate to Itajime Shibori. I took an Indigo hand-dyeing class last summer and learned the basics on small cuts of fabrics. I had a blast and I really wanted to try it on a large scale for garments.

I bought an all-inclusive kit, prepared the dye bath and got to work. For fabric, I used a 10oz. canvas drop cloth from Amazon. Yes, a drop cloth! Being home bound, I was shopping my stash and this was what was available. I pre-washed it with soda ash to prepare it for receiving the dye. While damp, I folded and clamped the fabric with resist boards to prevent the dye from penetrating unwanted areas. 

I dipped and exposed the fabric in the dye bath to get the desired color. It took several hours of dipping, manipulation, air exposure and re-dipping, but I am happy with the result.

I deliberated between dyeing the fabric versus the finished garment. I am glad I went this way. It allowed the pigments to be evenly disbursed throughout the fabric and allowed me to play with print placement of the yardage. 


I really love the overlapping sleeve details on this number!


The weight and texture of the canvas holds the shape really well.


The pattern as made per instructions, is categorized as advanced. Without the bias and flower appliques, I would lower the skill level to intermediate. The only tricky part is the sleeve construction. It is different, but not difficult and worth it.

I also love that this jacket has side seam pockets. That makes this one a real winner for me.

The seams of this unlined jacket are finished with bias tape. It is the perfect treatment for the canvas fabric which has a tendency to fray. 

I have reached for this everyday since making it. It is comfy, artsy and just what I hoped when I started planning. 

I dyed a lot of fabric with my kit. I am still planning what to make with them. I hope the other projects I make will be this awesome.

Happy Sewing,

Monday, February 26, 2018

First Coffee, Later Cocktails!

Hello Friends! I am back from a temporary sewing break. After a two-year struggle with knee injuries and multiple operations, I recently had another and hopefully my last. I was at my peak fitness and health when I had my first injury and both have been on the decline since. It has been a discouraging season and this recovery, the most difficult. Post-op, I have been in a knee brace, on crutches, and using a walker for the limited movements I am allowed. Weight and movement restrictions along with pain management, have limited my sewing during this time. 

In anticipation of this surgery and my limitations, I prepared a few hand sewing projects to work on while my right knee is immobilized. This preparation has saved my sanity many days over the past 6 weeks. Last year, I received an invitation to participate in the Day and Night Dress Challenge hosted by Elizabeth Made This. I was happy to take part and loved the dresses I made then.

When Elizabeth extended the invitation for the challenge this year, I did not hesitate to accept it. This year, we are tasked with making a dress suitable for a coffee date with friends and another for cocktails. When I accepted the invitation, I wasn't sure how I would make it work with my restrictions, but I knew I wanted to try. 

I really enjoy slow-stitched and hand-sewn projects. After investing much time and money in books and classes, I decided to no longer support, and buy from Alabama Chanin. Since then, I have been looking for a new supplier of organic cotton jersey fabric and stencils. In my new role as the Nature’s Fabric brand ambassador, I feel in love with the  wide range of regular and organic cotton jersey fabrics available. I was excited to try them out and knew a slow-stitch project in this down time would be perfect. 

Here is my coffee date dress.


I love the lines of Butterick 6241. I chose this pattern because the center panel was a perfect canvas for an embellished accent. The lines of the sleeves, bust, center back seam and pockets were perfect for top-stitch highlighting. I thought the zipper and collar would distract, so I omitted them.

                Image result for butterick 6241Image result for butterick 6241

I used "Graphite" jersey for the exterior of the dress and "Sun" for the background color. I love this color combination and happiness of the yellow. This organic cotton jersey is great! The colors are strong and the weight has nice drape without being clingy. The combination of the two layers is firm without being rigid.

I have been learning to use a laser cutter and making my own stencils! I used it to paint the motif using a light grey fabric paint before sewing the layers together with white button and craft thread.


 Once all sewn, I removed the middles to reveal the color beneath.

I love the large pockets and accents of the top-stitching on the flat-felled seams.  

Despite the hand-sewing, it sewed up faster than I expected and is very comfortable to wear. The fabric is a dream to sew and I loved how this dress turned out. I was so pleased with it, I made another! 

This "Heather" grey and "Graphite" version is sewn with an applique technique with the same stencil and white fabric paint.

With this technique, after stitching, the outside of the shapes are cut out leaving about  1/4 inch of the fabric beyond the paint. When washed, the raw edges will curl adding to the texture of the shapes.

The neckline is finished with a folded bias band that is top-stitched down. The sleeves and hem are left raw and will roll when washed.

How fun are these over-sized pockets? They are perfect to hold the many things I "have" to take with me as I move from room to room on crutches.

This dress is heavy in my rotation. As I make more stencils, I will be making many more. If you would like to make an embellished garment like these dresses, it is surprisingly easy. You can buy a laser cut stencil in my Etsy store. It includes a PDF with the step-by-step instructions for the applique and reverse applique techniques. Now until March 3, use code COFFEE20 to save 20% on all of my Etsy stock.

For my cocktail dress, I really wanted to make a fun and flirty dress in African Wax fabric (because WAKANDA FOREVER!). Given my physical limitations, I went with a simple dress that required little machine sewing.   


I love the paper bag neckline of this Jiffy Vintage Simplicity 8793 pattern. 

             Image result for Jiffy Vintage Simplicity 8793
It has as basic silhouette, but some drama at the neckline. I paired it with a cranberry colored satin that picks up the light just right.I did not want the tie or seam in the front, so I  made a minor change to the pattern. I cut the front on the fold and left an opening for the drawstring in the back. 

I made a contrast tie with an African Ankara fabric (because WAKANDA FOREVER!)

If I have the rare impulse to be subtle...

 I also made a tie with the same cranberry satin.

Please ignore my wrinkles. It's hard to iron propped on crutches.

Not only has this challenge given me a chance to make three new dresses, it has done so much for my mental state while laid up. As I stitched, I was reminded of the therapeutic benefits of making. I have been inspired by the dresses made by the other bloggers/vloggers participating in this challenge. Be sure to visit Elizabeth Made This to see them all. The community part of the challenge begins soon and there are many prizes to be had. One of my High-Functioning Sewciopath t-shirts will be given to a lucky participant. I hope you join the fun.

I want to thank those of you that sent me well-wishes through social media and  physical cards. It was a virtual hug that boosted my spirits more than you can ever know! I appreciate you so much!

Happy Sewing, 
(Someone please hand me my walker; the photos are done!)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018 Day and Night Dress Challenge: Coffee and Cocktails

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday and great start to the new year! My year has started in a less than ideal way with knee surgery for me. This is my third knee operation in two years and the second on my right knee. This has resulted in a radical slow down of sewing for myself, for others and teaching others to sew. It was pretty discouraging to think about a complete clearing of my creative calendar and being bedridden for weeks on end.

As I was scheduling my surgery, the planning of the Day and Night Challenge hosted by Elizabeth Made This began. I participated in it last year and really enjoyed the dresses I made, connecting with other bloggers and getting inspired by what they all made. If I planned things carefully, I would be able to take part again and still be creative while on the mend.

The Day and Night Dress Challenge 2018

This year's theme is  Coffee and Cocktails The goal is to make a dress that can work for a coffee date with a friend, and another for a night at a cocktail party. I was so excited about the theme, I got to planning right away. I was so inspired I was able to make my cocktail dress before last week's surgery! Because I wanted to have something to look forward to while off my feet for weeks, I have planned to hand sew my day dress. I am auditioning patterns to use,but will definitely be using some organic cotton jersey from Nature's Fabrics.

In addition to serving alongside other bloggers and vloggers, I am also sponsor of a small prize for a participant. One of them/you will receive one of my  High Functioning Sewciopath t-shirts. 
This challenge is open to everyone and prizes are awarded by random drawing! Simply tag your looks #dayandnightdresschallenge and tag Elizabeth @elizabethmadethis to be sure she finds you. For full rules and ongoing news about the challenge, please  read along on her blog.

I will post what I can on my Instagram leading up to my reveal post next month.

I hope you will join in the fun!

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Velvet Crush: A Front to Back Maxi Length Wrap Dress

Have you noticed the wonderful velvet garments that are everywhere this season? I have been crushing on them and knew it was time to add a velvet garment to my wardrobe.  As the new Nature's Fabrics brand ambassador, I thought my first project for them was the perfect chance to satisfy my infatuation with this luscious fabric. 

They have many colors and prints of crushed velvet and I was on the fence about which one to choose.

      Peach Flowers on Black Polyester/Spandex Crushed VelvetNavy Polyester/Spandex Crushed VelvetPink Polyester/Spandex Crushed Velvet
      Silver Polyester/Spandex Crushed VelvetPink Flowers on Black Polyester/Spandex Crushed VelvetMist Green Polyester/Spandex Crushed Velvet

In the end, I choose the crushed velvet in Taupe, a perfect compliment to my skin and it reminded me of champagne.

If you have been here before, you know I like simple styles that let the fabric shine. I chose to use Vogue 9251 in view B with the sleeves of view A.
                   Image result for vogue 9251 pattern review
I love the drama of a maxi dress and one that that features side seam pockets is a bonus. 

I was completely taken in by the adorable flutter sleeve.

Because velvet is tricky to sew/hem. I lined the bodice eliminate any unsightly and likely, uneven, stitching lines along the neckline. I used the velvet to line it and under stitched it to prevent it from rolling to the outside. To save myself some trouble next time, I would use a non-slippery lining when paired with velvet.

The wrap on this dress offers complete coverage providing modesty when needed, or not ;p.

Speaking of modesty, hubby was happily distracted by the depth of the neckline on this one. When I was getting his opinion on it, he couldn't focus on anything but how low it goes. I jokingly remarked that I would need to turn the thing around if I wanted to have a serious conversation with him. As it turns out, the dress works that way too! 

The stretch of the velvet allows the front darts to soften when turned to the back. The back darts don't interfere with bust shaping. 

It began as a joke, but I would seriously wear this dress both ways. A perfect dress for date night or the office holiday party.

Before this dress, I had not sewn with velvet yardage before. I have repurposed and reworked existing velvet pieces, but never from scratch. Like getting to know a long pined over crush, you discover unexpected and sometimes surprising things along the way. 

Here are some tips that helped me work with velvet and maintain my love affair with this yummy fabric.  
  • Choose a pattern with a small number of pieces. This reduces the challenge of cutting and matching nap
  • Cut the fabric in single layers paying attention to the direction of the pile of the fibers for duplicate pattern pieces
  • Lay the fabric on a layer of flannel or carpet to prevent it from shifting
  • Work from the wrong side of the fabric to avoid displacing the nap 
  • Use a walking foot when sewing so the layers don't shift
  • Stitch in the direction of the pile
  • Serge the seams for a clean finish
  • Have fun because the end result will be awesome

Happy Sewing,