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.

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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. 

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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!)