Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pintucked plantain

I am a little bored with plain t-shirts so I decided to make a few changes to a pattern that I know fits well. I used two fabrics, the laguna knit and a slightly fuzzy rayon knit from my stash to make this shirt.

Using the plantain pattern, I cut the front piece in half.  Then, I cut a strip of the second material to match and sewed a bunch of pintucked seams. My pintucks are not very delicate, I made them rather thickly... Is there something else to call them besides pintucks? 

I attached the strip to the front halves of the shirt. I decided to do the same operation on the sleeves, but make gathers instead of tucks.

The overall result is a slightly more interesting black shirt with some lines in the front. I've blown out the black in the photo so you can see the details, in reality it's darker and the flaws are well hidden. :) I think the use of two black fabrics worked well, using different colors might be a bit silly, but who knows until I try it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Papercut sway dress

August is a hot month in Santa Barbara, with very little breeze. I pulled out an old linen dress that I bought in Amsterdam years ago. It's been worn so much that the front placket is fraying and I am considering hacking it apart to make a pattern for a similar dress... but until then, I have been trying to find a pattern with a similar feel; pullover, loose but with some interesting seams, good for the fun qualities of linen.

(My first attempt was the Merchant and Mills Factory dress. A disaster. I am curvy, I can't wear a big rectangle. I should have known better. I will finish it and put it in my give away pile.)

My second attempt is the Papercut Sway dress, made in a few hours on Sunday morning and then worn the rest of the afternoon.

 It is a triangle dress, a much better shape for me than a rectangle. When I saw this version of the Papercut pattern, I immediately bought the digital pattern. I was also inspired by this lovely dress. And then True Bias posted how to make similar dress this week!

I do like how the Papercut Sway is such a simple pattern to use and alter... I cut a size medium in the shoulders, graded to a large in the skirt. The shoulders are really the only place to worry about measurement in this pattern.

I added an FBA of about 3" so that the armseyes would not strain out to my bust. I used my successful FBA from the Gallery Tunic to as a guide- the darts are long and slanted upwards. This appeared to work, but the armscyes are cut a little low. It's possible the fabric is stretching as it hangs. An easy fix would be to take in the side seams under the arms by a few inches. There is certainly enough ease by design!

I used my favorite Brussels washer linen in black with a dark grey thread to highlight some of the pintucking I intended to do in the front.

I cut the front piece on a fold instead of in two pieces with a seam. I added an extra two inches of fabric in that fold and then sent pintucks down the center front. I made three seams facing inside, and two facing out that are stitched down. This created seamlines without any projecting fabric. The extra inches are loose and lost in the swingy bottom of the skirt.

The facings in this pattern are my favorite kind of facings. They connect along the neckline and the armscyes, making for a very neat, unflippable interior facing. I did not using any interfacing for them in this dress.  

I got lazy in the end and did not hem it, I simply serged the bottom edge with black thread.  I feel okay about this after searching for designer linen dresses online and seeing expensive dresses with frayed unfinished bottoms. It's a thing, apparently.

I don't care if it could be maternity wear. It's ridiculously comfortable. The V back feels so nice and cool.

My proper camera battery died so a mirror selfie is the best I can do.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Nicola sundress

A sundress with a sunflower pattern on a sunny day in August! 

The Nicola dress pattern from Sewaholic took me only a few days to make. It's a nice simple design and I only had to make my usual adjustments, no surprises.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tessuti Mandy boat neck tee

The Tessuti Mandy boat neck tee pattern is fantastic... and it is free! It is one-size-fits-all which does actually fit me, with plenty of drape to spare. It must be huge on a smaller person.

The pattern has a drafted guide on the neckline for where to turn under and hem it. This is much easier than inserting a neckband and works very well on this casual shirt. For this version, the sweater knit is so stretchy that I added clear elastic to the neckline and the shoulder seams.

The sleeves lightly grip the upper arms and hold position perfectly so that the shoulders stay put.

I think I first saw the pattern on this blog:  She has made several cool versions!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gallery tunic

The Liesl + Co Gallery Tunic pattern is so cute.  I loved the swirly navy dress in this link and decided to imitate it with a drapey grey rayon twill from harts. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of those dresses that looks adorable on little people, but tent/sacklike on my larger curvy figure. A belt helped out, but I'm not sure I'll be wearing it too often. Sorry, no photos of it... but...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Octopus pjs

For my second pair of Closet Case Carolyn PJs, I used octopus printed lawn from Cotton + Steel, purchased from Harts. It is glorious. I ordered only one package of dritz pre-made piping, which isn't enough, so only the top collar, sleeves, pocket and pants pockets have the piping inserted.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Red clover

On days that I know I have to ride my bike somewhere, I find myself reaching for my clover dresses more than any other type. It's such a simple dress; pullover, loose sleeves, fluttery skirt. It makes an excellent riding (and presentable after riding) dress. My other dresses with fitted bodices are just not quite as comfortable on the bike... the waistline will pull up or down and I've typically made the back bodice fit well when standing or sitting, but not when leaning forward with my arms engaged. It's doable, but not as effortless as the Clover dress with no waistline, and raglan sleeves.

So I made another. I used my favorite Brussels washer linen, and some embroidered silk as an accent for the front details. I added tabs to turn up the sleeves and sewed the buttons through instead of making buttonholes. This may be bothersome when layering over the dress, but I love the look of it.

Monday, June 15, 2015

B&W combo

Last week, I made a skirt from a pattern from my stash, the Butterick skirt pattern, B5929. I made view A, with pockets and without a visible waistband. The front pleats are very pleasing, and it is great to have a good pattern for border print fabric.

Skirt front with pleats and pockets:

I'm not as happy with the back pleat arrangement, it gets a little puffy on either side of the zipper. I will probably change it on my next skirt.  For this one, I did not alter the pattern other than to add about 4 inches to the length so it ends just below my knees. 


Next, in an attempt to make more loose pull-over layers to wear over dresses, I made a StyleArc Hazel shirt out of a nice black rayon jersey and some stretch lace. I used all black on the front... my dresses and skirts typically have so many colors and patterns that a solid color top is a relief. :)

I sewed on the sleeve extensions, but I found that the sleeve length pulled down too much at the armpits. I cut off the extensions, turning them into hem bands. The sleeves no longer pull down, making the shirt far more comfortable. Oh, and I stitched down the facings along the neckline. It's not perfect, but I think a wash and pressing will fix the slight puckering.

From the back:

The shirt length is too long for me, pooling at the waist where the hem band stops at my hips. On slim hips, it might hang, but that's not how I am built, and that's not how one orders patterns from StyleArc. They come in one specified size; good for one-sized people, bad for wildly disproportionate people like me. I ordered the shirt for my upper bust measurement, planning to put in a FBA, but the bagginess makes one unnecessary.  For my next shirt, I will shorten the front panel by at least three inches before adding the hem band. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Full of copycat/inspiration, I made this dress.

It's my second By Hand London Kim bodice with a skirt from the 1940's Tea Dress pattern. I modified the bodice to raise the front by about an inch, and angled the straps in a little bit. I fully lined the dress this time, not just the bodice. it's very comfortable.

I don't remember where I found out about the designer, Lena Hoschek  (Could be a previous post from this blog, or some other mention of vlisco in fashion)  I was very excited to see Vlisco in her garments. Her designs appear beautiful and classic, and I'm sure well worth the price... but according to her sizing charts, I am three different sizes when you take my upper bust/shoulders into account... and how do I know if the cup sizes will fit me? It's better to just make my own, eh? I know where to buy the fabric. :) 

She makes belts AND shoes too! Argh, how do I do that?? 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New (old) machine!

I went to the sewing machine supply store to pick up an invisible zipper and I bought a new (old) sewing machine. :)

 It's so nice, it purrs!  I'm smitten.

Stylearc Faith top

I love the freebie Faith tunic from Stylearc this month! I made a muslin over the weekend with some nice thin cotton lawn and wore it two days in a row before photographing it, so please excuse the wrinkles. It's perfect for hot weather: lightweight, floaty, with excellent coverage, easy to pullover.

And it only needs two buttonholes for the sleeve tabs!

(My machine buttonhole ability is no longer satisfactory. I'm avoiding any functional or highly visible button holes until I get a new one... )

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hollyburn skirt

Skirt time!  I have made two hollyburn skirts  so far. It's a great pattern which has some of my favorite features. I love slanted pockets, I love circle skirts, I love the length of view A! I made one without any adjustments within a few hours. All seams are flat felled.

1) Black poplin

After wearing the skirt for a day, I noticed the waistband sitting weirdly. It was too big at the top edge and veered out from my stomach at a sharp angle. This is apparently a common problem with straight waistbands. I found this tutorial to make a contoured (curved) waistband, for my next skirt.
To note, after wearing this a few times, I decided it needed a lining so I added one cut on the same pattern from some black bemberg rayon lining fabric. Works like a charm. 

2) Vlisco wax (now my favorite skirt)

I can't get enough of this skirt! I'm planning to make some shirts just to go with it, brown, black and white. I have a slip that is long enough to wear underneath so it doesn't catch on my leggings, but I might still add a lining.  Also, there is a catch around the zipper, where the skirt rides up very slightly in the small of my back.  I think I need to make a small swayback adjustment to make this pattern an even better fit. I think the first skirt waistband hiked the skirt up so much that this problem wasn't apparent.

Only one other flaw, argh, needs ironing after a wash:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Camas blouses

Over the past few weeks, I have made a few quick and easy "Camas" blouses, a pattern from Thread Theory. It's very comfy and can be made with knits, or lightweight stretch wovens. I'm always drawn to mixing and matching patterns so I had fun choosing fabrics for these shirts.

For my first "muslin" I used some stuff I've had in my stash for ages, collected during sales, not for any particular purpose but I think my color choice was inspired by the lovely blouse made by Meg at Cookin' & Craftin'. The dark yoke and placket on a lighter fabric looks great to me!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A little top on top

The Ondée is a little top with a high waistband to go over a dress or a high waisted skirt. It takes very little fabric  (~ 1 yard) and is super quick to sew.

This is an embossed ponte knit from Emma OneSock and regular red ponte knit on the bands. It took me just over an hour to complete this with my serger and regular machine... no hemming required. (I love not hemming!)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kim dress!

Months after planning to do this, I finally did it. A Kim dress in an intense vlisco print!

The scale of the print was larger than I realized, so I had to choose a different orientation for the bodice. The skirt is cut with the fabric in the opposite direction as my original plan. I still have some hemming to do.

**Muslin admission!

Saturday, April 11, 2015


I made wearable muslin carolyn pajama bottoms. The "wearable" part is a lucky break because I failed to turn off the scaling when I printed the PDF and the whole thing was printed smaller than it should be...  I only noticed after I had cut and taped it with the last of my tape. (Every single PDF pattern will warn you of this occurring, but I failed to heed...) I planned to use the largest size 16 anyways, so I "guessed" at the scaling problem, and added a solid inch around the whole thing. This appears to have worked!

I love the pockets!

(I made a variation of the Colette Sorbetto with what was left for a matching top.)

The pants fit, not well, but they do fit and are comfortable enough for sleeping and around the house.  I like the slightly tapered legs vs the disasterous Tofino pants I made last year. The poor fit appears to be entirely my bum, everything else seems fine. I made a very wide waistband after my first try-on with the pants when I realized that the fabric barely made it up my backside.

The wide waistband works in the back, but I should have narrowed it in the front where it bags up... also, more tapering/grading toward the waist would probably help too.
So, for my next muslin,  I will be making my very first ever Full Butt Adjustment.


I still have to make a test for the PJ top... which I haven't printed yet. It will be to scale!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pineapple Bruyère

California "winter" is over... and there are fewer and fewer cloudy days. The sun is growing brutal again, so I need a few more coverup shirts to protect myself. There was a sale at FabricWorm where I ordered a few yards of a nice light japanese cotton lawn with a pineapple print!  Buying sight unseen can be risky, so I was thrilled when the fabric arrived and the lawn has a buttery soft hand, similar to art gallery brand voile fabrics. The color is a carmine reddish orange print on an off-white background.

It's perfect for the Bruyère shirt.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

1940's Tea Dress in a soft linen blend

There was a sale/free shipping event at Fancy Tiger Crafts so I purchased a linen blend a few weeks ago. This fabric is awesome! It's a linen/tencel blend with great drape, a nice print, and lovely color. It's from a designer, Feral Childe, who makes absolutely gorgeous clothing. I want it all!

Starting over the weekend, I decided to make an easy to wear, tried and true pattern with it: the Sew Over It 1940s Tea dress. The dress does not have lining, so it seemed like a good use of the opaque soft blend. The Tea Dress has worked out well for me in the past, I wear the floral version often. (My black & grey version feels too dark for California sunniness so it gets left on the hanger more often.) Anyhow, this new version is super swingy and the fabric blend works well in the bust gathers so I'm sure it will be worn a lot! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sophia / Belladone in a vlisco print

My first Sophia was successful enough so I decided to make another one after work out of some of my favorite fabric, but with a slightly fuller skirt (for bike ride-ability). Vlisco wax prints are stiffer than the soft chambray I used before, so the bodice is slightly more structured which turned out better. The wacky print hides the angled darts, but the fit and shoulder strap shaping is just so cool, it doesn't matter. 

I cut the bodice with the adjustments from my "wearable" muslin; shorter shoulder straps (slightly wider at the armpits for better bra coverage) adjusted side seams, 1/4 seam allowance at center bust, slight angling in on the back zipper seam to pull it flat at the top against my back AND.... a 2" swayback. So guess which one I messed up?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dog pillow

After Barnaby destroyed one pillow cover, I made a new one with extra reinforcement on all seams and corners. I hope it lasts a little longer with my bored dog (he's been on restricted activity during recovery from a knee surgery... hopefully he'll be less critical of my decor once he's able to run around like a dog again)

1/2 yard of Dog themed linen from Grey's Fabrics.
18" square pillow with invisible zip.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Green means go!

After the move, my sewing room (and home office) is mostly in order. There are still a few more things to fiddle with (oh, how I love craigslist) but I've decided to start sewing and see what changes I want to make after spending some time actually working. Time to start, enough preparations.

The household move had me re-arrange my equipment/stash, but it also made me go through all my unfinished garments and experiments!

I found one bodice that I'd made after my butterfly dress, using that pattern is a basis for extending the side seams into shoulder straps (the original pattern has separate strap pieces) and creating a sweetheart neckline (months before the Kim dress was introduced!).

The fabric is a beautiful vlisco java print, purchased during some discount event when I decided that I didn't have enough green in my life.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Print placement - planning for a Kim Dress

After seeing some gorgeous versions (and excellent pattern reviews) I am excited to make the  Kim dress from By Hand London. 

I'm planning to make variation 2 with the full skirt. The pattern is at home, but I'm in a hotel - all weekend and next week, with only my laptop and photoshop... Print placement fun. This is the first time I've used photoshop for sewing ideas. Maybe not a bad idea in the future.

So, here it is! My ideal Kim dress minus the pintucks.

I just ordered the amazing Vlisco print above... I was planning to use a different print with a border, but I am completely enamored with this one. I hope it arrives at my home before I do.

I based the bodice shape selections on a lovely flickr photo by Idle Fancy. (By Hand London's technical drawing is not realistic.) Then, I overlaid the selections on a rotated jpg of the fabric from the vlisco site, moving them around to try different alignments. I like the stripe mismatch between the center front bodice and the sides. I'm not an expert at this so it's a little wonky.

 For the skirt, I doubled the vlisco image,  and used the transform, warp option to narrow one edge. I can't mimic the folds of the gather, just the effect.  The fabric is about 45 inches wide so from waist to hem, whilst the pattern finished measurements are 23.5 inches. Sad! I would so love to get the full edge... I can certainly lengthen the skirt by 5 inches or so, but more than that might get too formal or drag on the ground!

Maybe I'll cut out the bottom edge and add it as a band on the edge of the skirt like this:

We'll see once I get back to my scissors. :)

UPDATE! Months later...
The red triangles are just too big to be oriented on the bodice as such, so I cut it on the same grain as the skirt.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hazel with a Flora skirt

A dress from August, 2014 (I'm finally publishing all my draft posts from 2014!)

Pattern: Colette Hazel bodice + By Hand London Flora skirt (modified)

Fabric: Vlisco Java print from a clearance sale

Cut & Size: Bodice size 10 - with FBA. 1/2 seams on bust, to 5/8 underbust... The skirt is a modified Flora, US waist 12 graded out to 14 hips with added 20cm. length and no pleats in the back (I ran out of fabric!). Not enough fabric to match prints.

Deer & Doe Centauree three

Another older post - I made the dresses in the early spring/summer, 2014. 

This pattern is AWESOME.

I have made three versions - the first is my wearable muslin out of my go-to Brussels washer linen. I made it based on my full bust measurements (before I knew how to measure for upper bust and do a FBA) and it ended up being slip-over-the-head huge. So no zipper. However, it's very comfortable and good for the beach. Sometimes it's nice to have a huge swingy linen dress. :)

 Version two - is a japanese double gauze. I cut smaller and used french seams everywhere, which upon reflection, is maybe not the best for double gauze...  It worked, but gave me less control over subtle shaping in the bust and some of the seams are a little bulky. Still, the result is comfy and cute... also good for the beach! For the neckline, I ignored the cut in the middle bias tape instructions and applied a full length from shoulder to shoulder in the front. This worked out okay and seems stronger than instructed method. Oh, and pockets!

Version three -  is a quilting cotton with gold detailing. Very sturdy.... I used flat felled seams which allowed me to subtly decrease the seam allowances along the curving bust lines and increase them in the underbust. This is a bit of a cheat, but it worked well, and the dress fits very nicely. I added gold pre-made bias tape for detailing... and a quilting ribbon along the hem. I'm amazed it washes and wears as well as it does. Lucky me. :)

Asymmetry with Vogue 8787

I'm traveling for work right now, so no sewing. Instead, I'm going through a few drafts that I never published, for various reasons.

The dress below was a failure but taught me several things.

Late in the summer, after gaining confidence in my abilities, I decicded to make a dress with an asymmetrical neckline. I found Vogue pattern 8787.  I used the bodice, and adding my favorite By Hand London paneled Anna skirt.

Thankfully, I found an excellent FBA on flickr. The woman who posted the picture also has several gorgeous variations of the dress.

I think my big mistake here was using a voile cotton, the dress should really be made out of a stretchier fabric, or a stable knit, just like they recommend on the envelope...

LESSON - Believe the envelope, at least for the muslin stage.
LESSON - Muslin stage.

 This cotton voile (Birch organics, Taking flight collection) was a bit weird, it's not very soft and it creases easily. It might need to be washed a few more times to improve.

LESSON - If the fabric is still unpleasant after one wash (I know enough to wash at least once), wash it again a few times BEFORE sewing.

So, the bodice:

During the making of the dress, I realized the wide waistband would not work with my short waist so I folded it in half which did the trick, without needing a lining piece.

LESSON - Wide bands are not good on short waists (Promptly forgotten when the Dahlia pattern appeared) but it's easy enough to shorten them.

Unfortunately, it doubled the already awful interfacing I used, making the band weird and stiff.

LESSON - Not all interfacing is the same. Get the good lightweight stuff! 90% of it, the heavy stuff is not meant for summer garments... or garments at all.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A shirt for Aaron

After success with a dragon shirt, I made my youngest brother a shirt from the awesome McCall's 6044 pattern for his birthday. It's such a simple, easy to adjust, well fitted design.

 I used a cotton poplin from L'ouiseau fabrics upon recommendation from my other brother... he said it would bring out his blue eyes- and that the kids these days liked looking like a grandmother's tablecloth. Our own grandmother thought it was feminine and expressed vague outrage that would have been more effective if she didn't express vague outrage over almost everything that is not British. Ah, grandma. I'm going to try and make her a shirt out of the remnants.