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

23 comments:

  1. Love both of these dresses and so glad for your continued recovery! Thanks for the heads’s up on Alabama Chanin.

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  2. Oh my word! The white Chanin style dress is captivating! Pure gorgeousness! I’ve purchased from Alabama Chanin in the past, but referencing the above comment and your comment in post about no longer supporting, what am I missing? You did a fabulous job on all three dresses. My best to you as you continue to recover!

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    1. Thanks so much! I love all of these! If you click on the underlined reference in the post it will take you to the disagreement.

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  3. Your dresses turned out beautiful! What a great idea to sell stencils, too. I hope your recovery progresses quickly and that you come back stronger than ever! ❤️

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    1. Thanks so much Lisa! I was encouraged to sell stencils by people who enjoy hand-sewing, but no longer wanted to support AC. I'm glad I can finally do it with high-quality laser cut stencils. My recovery is coming along nicely. Hopefully, in two more weeks I'll be able to get off of crutches and drive. šŸ˜€❤

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  4. Hi Bianca, I have just found your blog, and wish to say that your dresses are just fabulous. I am glad you are recovered from the last two years and your ops, I am now in a similar place to you as over the past two years I had two hip replacements and needed to use a walker, but like you I am now up on my feet but still doing physiotherapy and being very careful not to fall over!!! All my best wishes from Australia, Jasann

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    1. Thanks so much Jasann! It has been a rough row to hoe for sure! I too am in PT, and it makes a world of difference. I am glad you are better and staying upright! :)

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  5. All three dresses are so beautiful. I can't believe you made 2 of them by hand! The designs are so beautiful. Glad to hear that you're recovering well.

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    1. Thanks so much! This was a rough road and I am so glad to be moving forward!

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  6. you look fabulous in each of them!

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  7. Hello Bianca, your sewing creations are awesome! Thank you so much for the inspiration. I wish you strength and good vibes to heal your knees as soon as possible. I still have to use the wheelchair due to my own knee injuries. Here's hoping I'll get to walk again this year. Hugs from Spain, Angie

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    1. Hi Angie,
      Thanks so much for your kind words and well wishes. It's been quite a road as you know. Wishing you the speediest of recoveries.

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  8. I'm so glad you have continued to not support AC even with the later changes :). I have always made sure to pass along your information since reading about it to other people who may have been interested. It was a very narrow and tunneled view point.

    Love your new posts (old time reader; don't really comment much) and these dresses :). I love when we can get pieces of our culture into our garments (Apache here) and enjoy seeing what others do to add a splash of their home in this colonist clothes world :)

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    1. I love everything about your comment! Thanks so much for sticking around so long. I truly appreciate your support, then and now. I've had people ask me why I didn't renew support of her now that she made the change. šŸ˜© There are not enough words to explain what's wrong with that statement. Thanks so much for "getting it"

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  10. I just found your blog following a link from Pattern Review. Wow! I love your dresses. I agree about AC. I like their designs, but was disappointed to find out that some of their non-couture work is farmed out overseas. I think Nude is now Ballet. Nude means no clothes not a color so it is unhelpful and ignorant.

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    1. Thanks MaryHelen! I did hear that the name was changed to Ballet a couple of years ago. It was to little to late for me. I did not know they outsourced their work overseas! That is even more disappointing and further confirms that I "got out" at the right time.

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  11. Wow - incredible work on the dresses! Love your blog, love your sewing and fully support your AC stand.

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    1. Thanks so much Elizabeth!I appreciate your support!

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