Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hazel in a poppy print!

This is my second Hazel bodice... and it fits very well,  which made me see all the flaws of the first one (now being fixed).

I happily wore this dress all day yesterday with no problems! It was comfortable, no tugging, no adjustments; I even carried a lost small dog several blocks to my home without any strap or coverage failure. The dog, Gus, was properly tagged so I was able to contact his family. He had pink toenail polish on his back paws so I was not surprised when a woman with two little girls came to pick him up.


If only I could figure out the self-timer on my camera. :)

Pattern: Hazel bodice, with a skirt cut from the Deer & Doe Centauree pattern but with a zipper on the back, pleats instead of gathering and with pockets. (next time I'll just use the Belladone!)
Fabric: Poppy Passion in black from Hawthorne threads.
Cut & Size: Bodice is cut as a 10 with a 1.5" FBA, seams are 1/2 on upper bust, to 5/8 on the underbust. The side seams are sewed in (will cut next time) by an extra inch on top graded to the bottom on both sides. This fits my relatively narrow rib cage and tightens up any gaping that would otherwise occur.
The skirt was cut at the largest size (46) and folded in after with pleats to match the bodice edge.

The FBA with elongated darts works well in this lovely soft cotton. It is thinner than most quilting cottons I've worked with, very nice to touch. I lined the bodice with thin cotton jersey. The lining material is stretchy so I made it slightly smaller than the front piece. This worked perfectly and is super comfortable in the inside.

The skirt has four knife pleats in the front, and two box pleats in the back (ala Flora). The only thing I need to change is  that the pockets are slightly too high. They are functional, but might be more comfortable a few inches down.

Poppies and peonies are my favorite flowers!

Photo by Evan:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Léa, the (not so) little black dress

I finished a Léa dress from Jolie Marie Louise patterns!

Pattern: Léa dress from Jolie Marie Louise.
Fabric: Cotton/poly jacquard from Joann's - has sufficient body for the neckline... (part of my wearable muslin stash.)
Cut & Size: 12 bodice with 1.5 inch FBA, graded to 14 hips.

The dress is super cute on the model, but I was really sold on the included FBA adjustment in the instructions.  This was my first woven princess seamed garment. The instructions are excellent and I managed to make the adjustment so that there are no popping buttons!

However, I think I was too timid with the sizing and I could have gone down to size 10 on the bodice with an even larger FBA-  At size 12, the back is still a little baggie near the waist and I had to trim two inches off the back bodice waistline to even it up with the front waist (where I removed one inch.) The waist itself is okay, but could be a bit tighter without causing button problems. The armscyes are quite generous by design and comfortable so they could be smaller too. Next time, I will properly shorten the bodice and try a smaller size.

I flat felled most of the seams, which looks fine with the stiff cotton/poly jacquard fabric I used. The edges that required finishing are done with pre-made bias tape. Overall, it looks very cool inside and out!

Also... I moved the middle button on the waistband up a centimeter. I'm leaving the space for a belt if I can bring myself to become the belt person I know I can be. Belt askew below...

During the making, I grew increasingly worried about the tightness of the skirt. I carry a lot of volume in my legs, so a narrow skirt usually does not work on me, AND my one requirement of any garment is to be able to ride a bike in it. (Dutch style!) It ended up tighter than I am used to, but with the back vent and one undone front button, I can pedal along on my vouwfiets. I doubt I could get a leg over the diamond frame, but that's okay. I'm not going touring anytime soon.

I highly recommend this pattern!!!

Tiramisu - Cake Patterns

I failed my first attempt with this dress... the gorgeous rayon jersey I had ordered from Grey's (Color: Mermaid's tale!) was too stretchy and lightweight for the full weight of the circle skirt. I had strengthened the shoulder seams for that purpose, (sewalong: "The weight of the dress hangs primarily from the shoulder seam- an extra line of stitching helps to create a smoother seamline.") but on my figure, there are too many protuberances for the dress to hang from that seam... after my shoulders, I have a bust. And a belly. And a butt. In reality, the dress hangs from the lower edge of the weak single panel waistband... Or do they mean while hanging on a clothing hanger? I suppose it will spend more time in the closet than on me... Too late. Next time I will add a double panel waistband.

I cut the skirt off- which made a cute knit peplum shirt!

Unfortunately, I calculated it with the weight of the skirt so after cutting, it bounced back up and now is a little short. I can only wear it with high-waisted bottoms or skirts. Oh well.

I am planning to install some elastic in the remaining circle skirt whenever I get my act together.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Delfts blauw Cambie

My dutch pottery inspired Cambie:

Pattern: Sewaholic Cambie, version A

Fabric:  Michael Miller Blue & White Azure quilting cotton
Cut & Size: 12 bodice, graded to 14 at waist, pulled back in after FBA dart fiasco to 12. Graded to 16 hips.

I ordered this pattern ages ago and searched all the blogs to see how it looks on larger women. (I was worried about the sewn in waistband)... it looks cute! I was also worried about the wide shoulder straps, but so many versions look good and the straps become sleeves when well.
I found and used a great FBA tutorial! Yay. My first muslin worked okay- but upon making the full dress, I realized I made a mistake with the width of the lower edge- my  three darts do not combine into the same width as the huge dart. Whoops. So I had to make a dart/pleat, that combined the three darts into one and ended halfway up. It's amazing how not bad it looks. Seriously lucky.

View of the darts/pleat on the inside bodice.

 Due to the thick nature of the quilting cotton, I decided to line only the bodice. This was easy enough with the "stitch in the ditch" directions for attaching the lining.

I narrowed the waistline band to match the border pattern of the a material... and I have come to hate interfacing, so I did not use any. Instead, I left the full seams in place uncut along the waist line where they overlapped in the middle. There is no real bulk problem but we'll see after the first wash if I need to make changes.

In the final dress, the waistband is a little lower than my natural waist, so for the next dress it might be worthwhile to shorten the bodice by no more than an inch.

All other seams are either folded in on each other and stitched or pinked.

One pocket was cut incorrectly and so it is inside out on the dress, but luckily the print is so busy it's very hard to notice. From the inside, it's quite obvious. I ran out of fabric so I couldn't cut a new one.

I used the border along the back zipper and I think it looks great- but I wish I'd used the border for the bottom of the skirt too. I think that orientation would look nice with the horizontal bodice.

Selfie dressed as a dutch pannenkoeken plate:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

McCalls empire waist dress

Vlisco had a sale and I bought 6 yards of gorgeous fabric at half price... what to do... another dress!
(and what to do with the remaining 3 yards?)

Pattern: Mccalls M6554
Fabric: Vlisco wax print from their clearance sale, lining is navy cotton voile.
Cut & Size: 16 on top with a 2" total FBA graded to 20 at the hips.
Bodice cut with horizontal lines, skirt cut with vertical lines, panel is also horizontal.

Notes: It's a little loose but comfortable! The front pleat is sewed down several inches to open past the waistline. This is more flattering than popping out the panel above my stomach... and negates the severity of a true empire waist.

This dress is my second successful FBA (first was a colette hawthorn). I'd like to emphasize how much I LOVE knowing how to do FBAs. Forget the bust, it feels like my "back" is suddenly an understandable size. When I used to measure full-bust and cut for that, I always had crazy back problems, too long, too baggy, too wide, but now it fits! So awesome. Yay!

The back here is a little messy because I hadn't finished handstitching the lining to the zipper. That was done during a netflix binge and now it fits so well I am thinking of using the pattern for several other dresses in the coming months. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Myrtle turtle

Having loved all the Colette patterns I've tried,  I signed up for the advance/sneak peek of the new Colette pattern Myrtle. Unexpectedly, I found it underwhelming... I already have a decent cowl neck dress pattern, the DKNY V1351, which is bias cut and works will in knit without a zipper.

After making a disastrous shirt from the above pattern (not the patterns fault), I decided to order the Myrtle anyways.  Then, the pattern sat around for a few more weeks while I did other things.  A few cute versions popped up in the flickr group and a new crepe jersey came out at, similar to my favorite Colette Moneta, so I ordered it and decided to give the Myrtle a go.

Here she is:
The good stuff: The bodice self-lining front is very impressive, and the overall construction is awesome!  I'm excited about using it for other projects... I love how easily the shoulder straps and bodice sides stitch up (even with a lining present). It felt like magic. :)

The weird stuff: The back piece (as instructed) is without a lining! Why no lining?? It does not work without a lining in a weak stretchy knit like the crepe.  So, I cut a lining and made seams where the instructions say to finish a hem on the back bodice. This worked out perfectly and was so simple to do that I'm confused as to why it's not part of the pattern... seriously, why no lining? The neckline and armseyes are gorgeously done with the lining. They would be messy with the finishing described in the instructions.

Also confusing - Why is the back skirt cut in two pieces and then immediately sewn together? Couldn't it be cut on a fold? (that is what I did). Is there a reason for the seam in the back that I don't know about? The grainline was fine when cut on a fold. Weird.

In the promotional photos, the bodice seemed quite blousy... and I read on other blogs about finding the bodice to be huge and potentially bra revealing so I made sure to cut it according to my upper bust, not my full bust or waist size. I guessed that the cowl and the super stretchy jersey would work well without a FBA. Lucky guess. In the end, I cut the bodice between medium and large, while I graded out to large at the hips. This worked well and there is a still a decent amount of baggyiness at the elastic waist, but not too much. I can't imagine how HUGE the shoulders and bodice would be if I cut for my full bust size. Yikes!

Not too blousy! Just loose enough.

The bad stuff: The width of the shoulder straps! They are stupidly wide... and even on the gorgeous model on the website, it looks like extra flaps of fabric are coming out of the armpits to make half assed cap sleeves.  Not flattering... but then again, I think that about this pattern, but it's very popular. Yuck, people. In any case, I made my dress as instructed, but folded the straps in HALF and stitched them with the outer edge under the inner edge. It looks fine. The cowl hides a million mistakes. I hope I can modify the pattern piece for the next time I use it.

Straps folded in half and sewn down (trying out a belt... am I a belt person? I can't tell...):

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Vlisco - I'm in trouble

Yikes, I found this company... and I'm hooked. Luckily, the discount sales are infrequent so I hope to be able to control myself to a reasonable amount of yardage (and cost!).