Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Esme Dress Sewing from Everyday Style By Lotta Jansdotter

Have you had a project that everyone is sewing, but you just haven't made up? Every time you see a new version, you think, "I have to make mine!" That is me with the Sew Together Bag. It has been on my list for over a year and I have yet to make it up. 

I have been seeing the book and projects form, Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter in my Instagram feed for weeks. I knew I had to get my copy and start making the wonderful projects like the ones I was seeing. I did not want to repeat my endless coveting like that of the bag.


The first project I chose to make is the Esme dress. It is a simple shift-shape top, tunic and/or Kaftan. I love shift dresses especially those with the mod look. The silhouette of this dress is a blank canvas for a large scale print. I decided to make my dresses in tunic length.

Esme Dress
If you are not new here, you know I am not a fan of tracing patterns. I have passed on many a cute garment because it required tracing or PDF printing. It is a bad trait of mine and I am working on it. I love the few versions of this dress I have seen. and I knew I need to buckle down and make it. To transfer the patterns,  I ironed freezer paper to the pattern sheets, traced the pieces, remove the traced paper, then cut the pattern out. 

I struggled to find the right fabric in my stash for my tunic. I narrowed it down to two top picks and decided to make one of each.  My first choice is Stockholm, a sturdy cotton fabric from Ikea with white black and yellow designs that looks hand-painted. It is not meant for apparel, but I love the bold graphic print. I have had success with Ikea fabric in my whimsical button dress, so I was happy to try their fabric again.  

Tunic length mini dress.
The dress is sized XS-XL and based on my bust measurement, I cut the size M sewn with the directed 1/2 inch. seam allowance. When I fit it, I thought it was unflatteringly loose in the way it stood away from my body. To remedy this, I resewed the side seams with a 1-inch seam allowance. It was a simple fix and easier than retracing the smaller pattern size.  

I had fun playing with the placement of the motif especially with the sleeves. I was undecided if I wanted the wrist design to mimic the hem with the yellow circles. Or to have the sleeve cap design flow from the motif of the upper front and back allowing the wrists to be white. I chose the latter and love the balanced effect.

The tunic length is short! I will be making some opaque leggings to go with this one. Here, I am wearing it with textured tights, but I need more coverage in the future. 

I liked this one so much that I immediately cut and made another one. This time, I chose Cotton and Steel Luminescence Starlight Sparkler by Rashida Coleman Hale. I made the "medium" sewn with the 1-inch seam allowance. 

I added 3-inches to the length to make it a bit more modest for this soon to be 40-year old lady. 

In addition to making it longer, I added large crescent shaped exterior pockets. 

I used my out of print Vogue 8893 pattern for the pocket. It is a double layer of fabric stitched right sides together and flipped. 

positioned the pockets 8-inches below the top of the side seam along the side seam. 

After pinning, I sewed them on taking care to not catch the back of the dress.

The Esme dress comes with  square pockets for you to add. I really like this style of pocket, so I went with it.

Style here with leggings and flats.
I really like the simple stylish pieces in this book. This is my first experience with this designer and I am hooked. The book is about wearable garments that are fairly easy to make. It is good for a beginner, but also provides a blank slate for those who want to do more with the patterns.

I an excited to do some hand-painting of linen for a coat in the book. I would say that will be my next project, but I really should get working on that Sew Together Bag.

**** Update*****

My yellow Ikea dress was featured on the Lotta Jansdotter Instagram page this week. I am pretty flattered that she liked my take on the dress. It is one of my new favorite makes.

I enjoyed my Esme dress so much, I made another in tie-dye stretch denim. I bought the fabric at Hancock Fabrics in a "spot the bolt" sale. I made this one with no alterations and it came together faster than the others. I considered adding pockets like the Cotton and Steel dress above. I decided against it as it would break up the flow of the dye. I tried side seam pockets, but they added bulk and were not flattering. I removed them and am happy with this result. 

Hubby liked the shorter length, so I kept it in this version. 

Now a big shout out to my big sister. She and my nieces made this button necklace for my birthday. It is a mix of metal, coconut and plastic buttons and  I love it!  It is the perfect statement piece.

I made the Wilma bag from the book and will blog about it soon.

Happy Sewing,

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Springers Go to Washington D.C. and The White House

You know how I joke about not having anywhere to wear the clothes I make? Well, that recently changed. My husband, was nominated for a presidential Customer Service Award and was invited to the White House for the ceremony.You can read about the award here on the The White House Blog. We are so proud of him and decided to support him in person at the Nation's Capitol. 

We were thrilled with his nomination, but we did not know if he would win the award. We were so nervous and excited for him.  That excitement made the 21-hour road trip bearable. Yes, we drove. We arrived in Washington D.C. in one piece.  

The reception was held in The Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House at 2 p.m. and the attire was business casual. For myself, I chose my African inspired maxi skirt with a scoop neck long sleeved tee. I needed an outfit that factored in a knee brace and the flat shoes I have to wear because of a hula hooping injury.

Family photo after the ceremony. Pictured with Beth Cobert of the Office of Personnel Management   

For Little Miss, I chose Mccalls 2590 it is a floor length circle skirt dress with a fully lined bodice and an invisible zipper. I made it up in blue satin with a multicolor print satin sash.


This was probably the best tasting cake we have ever had! We dug into it to celebrate the fact that Justin won an individual award! 

Amazing! We are so proud of him for all the work he does for Veterans!
The entire experience was utterly surreal. There were extensive background checks before our travels. There were multiple Secret Service checkpoints to enter the event and for our West Wing tour later in the evening. We needed an authorized escort while in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The most difficult thing were the restrictions on our cameras. We were having once in a lifetime experiences, but could only rely on our memories to capture them. We did manage to lean over the barrier in the Oval Office to steal a kiss.  


Given this once in a lifetime experience, we decided to take advantage of the city sights. We went to the museums and saw the sights. I will highlight just a few because you don't need 632 pictures of my family making silly faces in special places.  The days were overcast and rainy, which made it perfect for us to have many places to ourselves.

The Jefferson Memorial 

The Washington Monument 

Arlington National Cemetery 

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 
The Lincoln Memorial 

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial 

The Capitol Building 

The White House in my multi-color reverse applique cardigan  

The Washington Monument from the World War II Memorial 

In the National Portrait Gallery wearing my Reversible Ankara Cape.
We had a great time celebrating Justin and seeing Washington D.C. I am so glad we joined him. With all the fun and excitement, do you want to know the most amazing thing? I survived without my sewing machine for more than a week!

Hope your Holidays were memorable and fun.

Happy Sewing,

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Pattern Hidden in Plain Sight

Oh my! I cannot believe I almost missed this one! Have you been so focused on one pattern element that you completely ignore another? That was me with Simplicity 1008.

 Simplicity Misses’ Fantasy Costumes - Size: HH (6-8-10-12) - Pattern: 1008
I bought this pattern earlier this year for the tulip hem dress and recently considered the maxi dress for the Renaissance Festival. It wasn't until last week when I was putting the pattern away did the cape catch my attention. How could I have missed this? I love the silhouette of this cape and the potential for a reversible option. I been looking for a pattern to showcase more of my Ankara Dutch Wax fabric and thought this would be a good match.


 The reverse side is nice too!


Here is a quick review of the pattern.

Pattern Description: 
This medieval fantasy costume is designed for travel and adventure. Pattern includes floor length gown, high low day dress and close fitting knee length cape with hood. 

Pattern Sizing:
I made the size 10

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
It looks like the line drawings, but I think the cover photo gives the illusion of pleats or gathers.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
The instructions were easy to follow, but I did not use them. I made this reversible, so I made two complete capes and stitched those right sides together leaving an opening for turning. I then flipped it through the opening and top stitched the entire edge. For the neck closure, I made two covered button and sewed them shanks together on one side. For the other side, I attached a cord loop.

Making covered buttons

Buttons attached back to back 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I bought this for the dresses, but the cape is underrated.

Fabric Used:
Ankara Dutch Wax for side A and a green linen look for side B. 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I have recently made too many cold weather pieces for someone who lives in Texas! I will not likely make this cape again. But I would recommend it.

This one should not be in the costume section or it will be overlooked. It was fast to sew and the shaping is fun and interesting. The shape makes it a good candidate for reversibility because the other side is not glaring when worn.

I have vowed to use the Ankara fabric in my stash before allowing myself more. I am pretty happy with this make and love my use of the fabric. Now I am free to get more ;-p

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Few Tips on Scoring Deals on Vintage Patterns and My Latest Finds

After my last post  about the vintage patterns, I was asked how I manage to find such wonderful deals.  Here, I will share a few tips that work for me, then I will show my latest treasures. There are many of them and lots of photos! 
  • I attend estate sales and make friends with the organizers. When I buy fabrics and patterns at sales, I chat with the cashiers, who are usually in charge. I tell them of my love for sewing things and I give them my business card. I ask them to give me a call if they have sales with fabrics, patterns or notions in the future. I have had calls to pre-shop a sale or to buyout the remnants once a sale ends. When I have success at a sale, it is a big success as the patterns are usually all my size or the fabrics my style.

  • I make friends with the owners/managers of small, local resale stores. Again, I ask them to give me a call when they get patterns, fabric, or  sewing supplies in stock. They usually give me a call when things come in and they give me a first look. They at times will text me pictures so I can have a heads-up on the potential purchases. I am not talking about the big chain stores, but those owned by charities or Mom and Pops.

  •  I use Craigslist "search alerts" to get an email when an item matching my search terms is posted. My typical search terms are "sewing patterns" "vintage sewing patterns" "sewing machine" and "Bernina". I try to get as much information about the items I hope to purchase before meeting. I like to ask condition, sizes of patterns, and their completeness. If the photos are insufficient, I ask for better ones. Because I respond so quickly on an interested posting, they are happy to accommodate my requests.  I always meet in a public place and try to never go alone. When I must go alone, it is in the daytime. I text the Hubs my location and take a picture of the car and plate for a record. I watch a lot of crime television, so better safe than sorry.
  • Know your stuff. It is all well and good to know when you can buy vintage sewing items, but you want to be thoughtful about what it is worth to you. In my area, I come by vintage patterns quite frequently. I can buy a collection for the price of a modern day Vogue.  This week I saw an ad for  "5 Antique Patterns for $50", I passed. This recent ad was for kid patterns from the 1950's and not for me. The price was too high and the distance to meet too far. 
Later, I saw an ad for 100+ patterns for a low, low price. The seller was not willing to sell the patterns individually, so I would have to take the good with the bad if I chose to buy. The few online pictures looked promising, so it was worth it to me to gamble that there would be gems. The distance to collect would have normally been a 3-hour round trip. Lucky for me, with our attendance at the Renaissance Festival (see previous post), I was a mere 10 minutes away!

The patterns largely included women, children and a few men's patterns. Here are the new women and men additions to my stash. Some are real gems, others not so much. I will include the children patterns in another post with the others that I will not keep.

Drool! I love that neckline and full skirt!

I like the look of view A.

Love view 1 with those pockets.
Interesting ties on the shoulder, but what's up with that high bust pocket?

I love a wide leg pant. I am unsure about that collar. Do I love it?
I like view 3. 

Easy for summer time.

I like A and C. A is like an Anthro dress I have drooled over.

Ren Fest next year?

I love  the neckline this cute top! 

Will be making that hoodie soon!

Always a lady in a dress.

I don't wear many wrap skirts, but I like the front ties on this one.

Perfect for a Spring day.

I like the tab style belt loops on the short version.

I like the mini length, but I am on the fence about  the shorts of the same length underneath.

Nice sheath coat combo.

Boho fun?

I may be too old for this but, the placket in view B is nice.

Always could use a new blouse right?

Yes to view 1. I will need a stripe.

Cannot resist another mod shift.

Those faux flap pockets!

Again, that neckline I like.

That white number!

Perfect for a fast  knit dress.

Fast and easy and collarless!

Double breasted little black dress.

Oh, I guess I will need some saddle shoes too! 

I think in denim...

No, no, no on the onesie, but yes on that jacket in a Boucle.

I am a sucker for a curved shirt-tail. 

Yay for cute tees! Love The tie in view A.

I like this dress, but I am uncertain how the gathers will lay on my bust.  

On top of my list! Love! Love! Love!

Yes! Simple and classy.

Not my favorite collar, but the pleats are darling.

I may need a petticoat for that dress I love.

Yep! The green with the low set pockets! 

Drawstring casing at the waist...

I need a few of these to wear with full skirts, and pencil skirts, and pants.

We need to return to the days of "dressing" up.

Look at the expression on the face of the lady in back.

Can you see this one in Dutch Wax with a solid on top? I can!

Maybe this in Dutch Wax with a solid pant beneath? 

This could have worked for Ren Fest with a corset.

I have a floral Neoprene print that could work with the flared skirt.

I like a tent dress, but this is very maternity. It would need to be belted for sure.

I like a novelty dress and this one is simple enough.

I may actually make this one for Hubs.

Maybe this

Never this! I would love that floral fabric though!

Not too bad here
Whew! I am tired and this is just a third of the purchase. Thanks for sticking with me to the end. If you have any tips on scoring patterns, please share them. 

Happy Sewing and Thanksgiving to you!