Sewing, Knitting, Dogs

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Floral Southport - Behind the Seams

Way back in May - I talked hubby into tacking a week in New Jersey to the end of our vacation.  This was two-fold, we got to spend some time with The Princess and Carolyn had a very un-talked about birthday party.  At that party, I got to meet Kelly and she was wearing a maxi-Southport.

It took me awhile to get on this bandwagon.  I have loved every version of this dress that I have seen.  

In the middle of August, JB was gone fishing for a bachelor party and I spent an evening, trimming, gluing and tracing Southport (right after I made my favorite breakfast for dinner!)

 I have come to the conclusion that I just am NOT good at putting PDFs together.  I'm always just a smidgen off when I trim them and can never get the pages to line up perfectly.   

I pulled 2 pretty floral rayon challis from the cupboards and then sewed up my least favorite of the as a wearable muslin.  I was actually ambitiously hoping I could sew up 2 versions of this dress while The Princess and The Sports Writer were here on vacation.

The truth is - I was lucky to get this one hemmed.  

Last year - I went on strike because I couldn't get either JB nor The Musical One to help me hem garments that weren't already level and needed more than a simple, evenly turned hem.  While JB still won't help me (eventually - I'll just quit cooking for him and pack nothing but PB&J in his lunchbox - that should do the trick!), The Musical One will.  

It was The Princess' idea that pictures of this process happen.  I have flats on and am standing.  She is sitting on the floor with an industrial t-square (generally it's a yard stick) and a pin bowl.  She puts pins in every 3" around the hem where the hem should go - she does not pin it up - if that makes sense.

Next time - I'll show better photos of me wearing the dress.  And I'll try to be back sooner than 2 weeks!  Happy Sewing Everyone.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Behind the Seams - The Dress

Colette Crepe
I had originally bought this fabric to test a pattern, but that didn't happen.  Then I remembered that I had a copy of Crepe.  I've always wanted to make this dress - a woven wrap dress with a lovely sweetheart neckline?   Yes please.  

But - that isn't what I ended up with.  And not for lack of trying.  I traced crepe - because that's what I do and matched the bodice up with a double darted bodice I have that fits well.  Then I tried to make it fit on my fabric.  I'm guessing my now - you know it didn't work.  

BHL Elisalex
So, then I turned to my Elisalex bodice, because while I've never made that tulip skirt and had it look good on my hips - I love the bodice!  It fits well and flatters.  So - I took a page from Carolyn's book and layered my pattern pieces, I put the center front of Elisalex on the bottom, then put the Crepe over it, topped by the tracing paper - of course, I didn't think I'd blog this, so no photos.  

Then - I made a new tracing of the center back.  Keep in mind that Elisalex has armhole princess seams, not darts - and it works for me.  My changes were only made to the center sections - the parts that went to the shoulder.  Once I had that new back - I literally just drew a new v and went with it!  The bodice is fully lined.  
Butterick 5930

Of course, I stupidly cut out the bodice pieces before even making sure the skirt pieces would fit on my yardage.  And - as Murphy's Law would have - they wouldn't fit.  I did not want the skirt that I generally put on the Elisalex bodice, nor did I want to put the Lilou skirt on this bodice - I wanted a full and flirty skirt.  There is a huge stack of patterns on my cutting table and Butterick 5930 was in my line of vision.  Hmmm - wonder if it will fit.  The skirt is pieced and has princess seam lines.  I measured the pieces of my bodice and the skirt and adjusted as necessary to make the seams line up - not that you can tell in this print!  

I was able to cut most of the skirt pieces (and by most I mean the center front and back pieces, but no side pieces) from the yardage I had left.  

There were large pieces of fabric - that were almost big enough.  So - I pieced in some fabric to make it work!  I couldn't even get JB to see what I was trying to show him while taking the pictures- again - it's all about the print!

I hand picked the zipper.  I think this is the 3rd hand picked zipper I've done and I really like doing them.  I will admit - I'm still not perfect at lining up the top of the zipper.  

Because my bodice fits and falls at my waist - the skirt hung even and I was able to turn up a 2" hem.  I put pockets in the dress and then put in a machine blind hem.  Because - print!  

I stretched myself a little bit making this dress - changing things, layering patterns and drawing what I envisioned.  Piecing fabric to get enough and basically just making it work.  I really like this dress and I'm glad to have worked through it and added it to my closet!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Dress

Honestly - I don't love the photos of these dress.
Honestly - I'm not loving much these days. 
But I do love this dress - it's full and twirly and was perfect to wear to a wedding.

This dress is completely different than the dress I had in mind when I bought the fabric.
This dress is a mash-up of patterns, some drawing to get what I wanted.
The bodice is a modified Elisalex and the skirt is from Butterick 5930.
I plan to do a 'behind the scenes' post to show you close ups of the front neckline. 
The bodice of this dress is lined and I hand picked the zipper. 

How about a last photo of JB and I all cleaned up and ready to go to a wedding.  

Saturday, September 05, 2015


This was truly a case of what came first - the Cardigan or the dress.
I made both - this post is about the cardigan - because it came first.

There is a group on Ravelry, called Free Pattern Testers.  Every once in a while I will troll through the posts and find something stunning!  This was such a case.

Jennifer Wood was asking for testers for her Beautiful Liana, here's a link to her blogpost.  Jennifer is quite a prolific designer and I love her designs.  

I didn't pause when throwing my hat in the ring for this lovely design.  I only hesitate over my yarn choice.  I knit this with Malabrigo lace - which I love.  The yarn is soft and cushy and make incredible fabric.  I've knit several shawls from it, Mal Lace is truly one of my favorites to knit with.  

It doesn't show very well in these photos, but this cardigan is full of twisted stitches, cables, twisted rib and lace!  I used 4 full hanks of yarn and just barely dipped into the 5th.  I knit on US 1.5 (2.5mm) needles and magic looped the sleeves.  This sweater was started on March 8th and finished in Spain on May 1.  Thank goodness we were given an extension of time to finish!

The fabric for the dress just happened to be sitting on my ironing board one day while I was winding another hank of the yarn.  I noticed how well they went together.  I didn't make the dress I had originally planned, but I'm quite happy with the one I did make.  I'll tell you about the dress next time!

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?  

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

How Does Fabric Become "Too Precious" To Use?

I often wonder how fabric becomes "too precious" to use.  As Carolyn would say - I have quite a collection of fabric!  And now that I've run with her style of displaying the collection - I love it and can see it and think twice (sometimes) before adding to it.  But why is it so hard to use some of the fabric in it?  I mean that's what I bought it for, right?

So, if you follow me on Instagram, you know that last Saturday the lights went out.  We had a horrible wind storm in Western Washington and many people lost power all over the State.  

I had been out in the morning and stopped and picked up the dottie angel dress.  I love the idea of it.  Will I make it?  Will it suit me?  Will I wear it?  Who knows?  But I bought it.  

In the dark, with a flashlight - I headed to the fabric shelves.  I ran my fingers through the fabric looking for a couple of coordinating pieces I could pull to make this dress - you know if the power ever came back on.  But it was early in the day and my sewing space has lots of windows and I could do some pattern prep while I couldn't turn the lights or machines on, right?

The first combo I touched was this lovely pastel-y paisley with a pretty green solid that coordinates.  I bought these pieces with the idea of making a Lilly P style sheath dress.  I had a new look pattern in mind, but never bought it and it's out of print now and honestly - I don't remember what the pattern number was - only that it had raglan sleeves, into a round yoke.    

So - knowing that I don't have the pattern and will probably never acquire it - it makes sense to save this fabric combo, right?  

These next two fabric combos I bought several years ago at a quilt shop with a bonus that I got at work.  I always intended them to be The Monique Dress from Sew Serendipity.  I adore Kay's style, but I've never really been comfortable in it.  I did make 2 Monique dresses and they are both still in my closet and get worn over the summer - but not with much regularity.  And both were made with a single fabric.  

I will often say - the reason I don't quilt is because I can't match fabrics.  To my eye, they fabrics have to perfectly coordinate or they just aren't right for me.  Having taking photos of these three combos that I bought together to use together - I'm honestly not sure that I love any of them together.  I love them all - but together?  

So - I ran my fingers over them and moved on.  Finally - I touched on the beautiful lightweight pale pink cotton fabric.  I bought this at Fabric Depot in Portland the first time I met up with Mary.  This fabric told me that it wanted to be a shirt dress - but I haven't found the perfect pattern.  Do I want one with a slim skirt or a full skirt.  I've tried 3 different shirt dress patterns and don't have one I love.  

Again - another reason to save this fabric, right?  So - I'm sure it will surprise no one that I didn't cut any of these fabrics.  Am I afraid there won't be more fabric?  I recently made 2 dresses that I just didn't love the way the looked on me and I sent them home with Designed by Krystle.  Did I love the fabrics - yes.  Was I sad to not have them any more - not really.  So - what's the issue?

Tell me - what do you think of the dottie angel dress?  yes or no?  How about the fabrics I pulled (and then put back)?  And finally - what makes fabric too precious to use for you?  

And - because I'm sure you're dying to know what I did while the lights were out?  I cut up a stack of stuff to sew someday.  In that pile are 2 dresses, 2 skirts, 2 tees and a shirt for the hubby.  Hopefully I won't get twitchy before they get sown.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Black & White Collection - Dress 2

before we went on vacation - way back at the end of April - I started 4 black and white dresses in the hopes that they would make up the bulk of my vacation wardrobe.  Sadly - I didn't finish them before we left. 
this dress is a mashup of the Elisalex bodice and the Lilou skirt.  Gotta say - this skirt is a fabric hog!  I had to add a seam to the center front and back of the skirt to make it work thanks to the stretch in my fabric.  The fabric, is a stretch sateen that had been in the collection (thanks Carolyn!) for many years, most likely purchased at JoAnn Fabrics, and I want to say I had 4 yards and used all of it! 

As I've made this bodice many times - it's an easy sew for me.  As the fabric was quite thick - I didn't line it.  I sewed it up with my sewing machine and pinked all the seams.  It's not couture folks - but it's a nice dress.  I finished the neckline and armholes with bias binding and the hem with wide lace.

I made sure that all of the dresses in this collection have pockets.  which I am sticking my hands in and hitching the hem up here. 

The beauty of having a bunch of black and white print dresses is that I can wear any color cardigan/jewelry/shoes with this dress - but for some reason I tend to pair this one with pink.   I have to wear a cardigan at work as we have a no-sleeveless policy.  


This dress is cool, comfortable and easy to wear.  It swishes around and feels very feminine.  I'm glad I combined these two elements - although I'm not sure I'd do it again - just because the skirt is such a fabric hog! 

Friday, July 03, 2015

Bulls Eye!

I love a good wrap dress.  But, you know what's better than a good wrap dress - a good faux wrap dress.  After making my first version of New Look 6301, I knew I needed more. 

This fabric was one of the quickest turn arounds in my history of ever!  I bought the slinky ITY from Fabric Mart, it arrived in late February, and I cut it out and sewed it up at Spring Retreat.

On this version - because my Expo Wrap gapes just a bit. I did some fancy alterations.  I literally sliced through the front bodice pieces in 2 places, from neckline toward side seams.  I didn't take photos - so I can't show you.  Then I overlapped the fronts about 3/4" total.  This effectively shortened the length of the cross over, but left the side seams the same.  Result:  No gaping in this dress!

I also lengthened the ties so I could wrap them around and tie in the front.  I may have originally added length to the skirt portion, I generally do.  I'm 5'9" tall and my height is from my waist down.  I generally have to shortened from the waist up.

All-in-all, I love this dress.  It's fun and flirty.  I have used the skirt pattern to match with other bodices since then (I might be behind in blogging).