Oui, Oui! I Made Another Dress!

Posted on | August 28, 2014 | No Comments

For my trip to Florida, I decided that not only did I need a new swimsuit, but I needed to make a new dress for the occasion as well.

Robe Lucie

I found this amazing silk hibiscus print fabric at Mood back in May and had to have it. A nice, smaller scale Hawaiian print is hard to find and this color blue is amazing. I snagged 2 yards and called it a day.

I decided to pair the silk with the Lucie dress from Republique du Chiffon. If you couldn’t tell from the company name, it’s French. It just so happens the pattern is written all in French as well. Google Translator was a big help, particularly with things like, “this pattern does not include seam allowance.”

As far as fit modifications, since it’s big and loose, there wasn’t too much to do. I cut the exact size that corresponded to my measurements, but decided to bring the back neck drop up a little bit so it was bra friendly. I also added pockets. Apparently I can’t live without pockets in my dresses anymore, and why should I have to?

Robe Lucie

I went with the added piping option, which I think looks pretty awesome with the neon yellow. The original plan for the lining wasn’t contrast, I was going for black (so predictable, I know). The first lining I picked up from Paron was a little too heavy. They did carry black china silk, but I thought it was a little too sheer. When I headed back to Mood to find black china silk, to my surprise, they didn’t have any. How could this be?? Two cute little girls came to the rescue pointing me towards this bright chartreuse color. They were doing what little girls do while Mom was shopping for fabric for their flower girl dresses. Hiding in the racks, touching all the pretty fabric, and loving the velvet. To tell you the truth they really wanted me to buy the velvet, but the chartreuse was a close second.

Robe Lucie Back

Even with the translated instructions, I decided to go about the construction in my own way. The lining is separate from the body to avoid exposed seams and I used the burrito method to clean finish the upper body. Is there an actual term for this? Maybe, but burrito works for me.

The one thing about this  pattern is the skirt is self “drafted”. I put drafted in quotes because it’s not exactly hard, it’s just a big rectangle. It makes sense since the pattern is a PDF and why would you want to waste ink and paper printing out a rectangle? I guess what bothers me is the dimensions for the rectangle are the same for every size. So the smaller sizes are going to have a bit more gathering than the larger ones. I decided to get all fancy and do french seams on the skirt, and I ended up taking out about 2″ from the total circumference. Guess that isn’t too much, but it made me feel better about myself and that’s all that matters.

Once I finished, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this dress. I haven’t worn this silhouette since the early 90s and it threw me off a little bit. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly the most flattering silhouette out there, but that’s OK, because it’s not supposed to be. Once I got over myself, I really like the dress and want to make more. It’s probably the most comfortable piece of clothing I’ve sewn so far. Maybe I’ll make a few more versions with sleeves, perhaps a button down front with a collar. Maybe even in a sunflower print? All hail the 90s!

Bombshell!

Posted on | August 18, 2014 | No Comments

I made a new swimsuit! And I love it!Bombshell Swimsuit
The Bombshell really was a joy to sew. It went together pretty easily, fit modifications were simple, and it only took about 2 days to finish up. Also, I made the entire swimsuit on my sewing machine. Using a serger is optional!

I made a few small changes to the pattern. Personally, I’m not a girl who loves lots of gathers. I simply used the back lining piece to cut out my outer fabric for a smooth, gather-free back.

Bombshell Back

I also added swim cups. They aren’t really so much for support as they are for keeping things from getting a little too pointy. Adding the cups was covered in the sewalong here.

So what do you think? I really love it! Even though this is a full coverage suit, you can’t help but feel gorgeous and sexy in it. In fact, I’ve seen it made up by women with many different body types and Bombshell is really, really flattering on everyone.

Bombshell detail

Would I make this pattern again? Heck yeah!

Would I do anything different next time? Well, I would try not to be in such an excited rush when putting in my leg elastic. While it looks totally fine, the perfectionist in me would like it to be a little neater and more even on the inside. I know, I know, it doesn’t even really matter. I would also think about cutting up a size in the waist area only. I am between sizes on the chart and decided not to grade the pattern in the waist area since the fabric is super stretchy. It fits fine, but it would be nice to have it a tad less snug. Maybe once I get it in the water, I will change my mind. I also would watch how much shirring I’m placing in the under bust area. I have a smaller under bust and there seems to be a bit of extra fabric there. It looks fine, just feels a little loose.

I’m already planning which print I’d like to use for my trip next year. Maybe next time I’ll make a two-piece version. I may or may not have thought about moving to a warmer climate so I can wear swimsuits more often. They are addictive to make! I may have also thought about designing my own. The rabbit hole is opening………watch out!!

However, I am quickly realizing that instead of waxing poetic about swimsuits, I should be planning my wardrobe for Fall! While some of the things I’ve made so far will work in either season, it’s not quite enough to clothe me for the next few months. So far, I have a few jackets and plaid dresses planned. I’m also going to have to bite the bullet and sew up some jeans. Of course sweaters are a given! Lots to plan, lots to do!

The Journey Continues

Posted on | August 12, 2014 | No Comments

My swimsuit is progressing swimmingly. Sorry, couldn’t help myself!

Now that I’m getting into the construction of the actual suit, if there was one thing my activewear teacher never let me get away with, it was an exposed crotch seam. There is a note about this in the Bombshell sewalong, but of course I didn’t realize this until I already had my front lower body portion basted to the front lining (of course this is the first step)! I gave the exposed seam a whirl (all the time hearing my teachers voice in my head), but having an exposed seam in that area can be a little irritating. So I took out the stitching on the crotch and lower front body to redo it in a neater fashion…… and proceeded to sew the lining on the wrong way. The seam ripper is my friend.

After getting back on track, here is what the layers should look like before sewing the seam if you want a clean finish.

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In order from top to bottom, the front lining is right side down, the back is right side down, and the bottom front layer is right side up. Pin it all together at the bottom and sew it up.

After you flip the bottom front over to meet the front lining, baste it onto the lining as per the beginning of the instructions. The suit will now have a neat crotch seam finish. My teacher approves.IMG_0090.JPG

 

 

 

 

The Journey Begins: the bombshell swimsuit

Posted on | August 6, 2014 | No Comments

Way back in college, we had a class that rolled activewear, swimwear, and corsets all into one. At the time, I had knitwear on the brain, so delving deeper into these topics didn’t really excite me. Fast forward a decade and here I am sewing my first swimsuit, Bombshell by Closet case Files.

Swimwear you say? But that seems so scary!

Not one bit. I won’t even need a serger to sew up this little beauty.

I gathered together all of my supplies a few weeks ago, although Thursday night I realized the sewing machine guy gave me ball points instead of stretch needles. Doh!

I realized I better get this project going since I leave for vacation in less than two one week. I started with basting together the lining fabric to check the fit. I almost skipped this step because, hello! Lycra! But I’m glad that I didn’t since I ended up taking about an inch out of the total body length.

Here she is all basted up with my changes. I can’t wait to see what she’ll look like in the real fabric!

Lining with fit adjustments

 

Weekend Reading

Posted on | August 1, 2014 | No Comments

IMG_1203As the summer is drawing to a close, it’s exciting to see all of the new knitting patterns popping up. I feel the knitting mojo coming back to me!

Twist Collective released their Fall 2014 issue yesterday. I have my eye on a few of the cabled sweaters!

– I really like Rowan’s Fall issue. I particularly like this sweater.

Knitscene and Interweave Knits Fall issues are out as well.

– Just in case you missed it, Jared from Brooklyn Tweed wrote a 2 part post about choosing colors for yoked sweaters (but is good info for any color work project). Part 1. Part 2.

– Tom of Holland shows off some of his favorite vintage mending books.

Happy Weekend everyone! I’m off to go visit some family in Exciting Delaware!

 

 

 

 

Reflections

Posted on | July 29, 2014 | 1 Comment

 

Fabbrica, Legnano [Factory]Image by Rob., via Flickr

I can’t believe we are almost through with July and more than half way through 2014 already. This also marks a milestone in my big goal, not buying any new clothing for the entire year.

I’ve been reflecting on my goal a lot over the past few weeks: what it means, how it makes me feel, what I’ve sewn for myself, and how much I’ve spent on fabric and a bit of yarn. Let’s just say that making clothing for yourself does not involve saving money!

This article from Bust magazine was circulating around Facebook a week or two ago and it was a great reminder why I am doing this. (It’s also a great read! Go take a look if you have a minute.) As the months go by and I see that this issue is still popping up, it feels good to do my part in my own little way.

I find that I don’t miss shopping at all. Honestly, I’m not really sure I ever enjoyed shopping that much. Being in the fashion industry has taught me a few things throughout the years. Mainly, I know that some price tags don’t match with the quality of the garment. I also know how much things cost on the manufacturers end. The other reason is I’m tired of seeing the same design being copied over and over again by different stores. Boring.

Yes, higher priced clothing is more original, better made, and depending on the designer, is made in acceptable conditions. However, those clothes aren’t exactly within my budget. Maybe when I catch up on clothing making, I can save up for an amazing piece or two.

As I’ve progressed through this project, it’s getting easier and easier to see the holes in my wardrobe. It’s also been fun experimenting with different choices. In the past, I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than 4 days a week without wearing jeans. Now I find myself only wearing them 1-2 days a week tops. Working with a limited wardrobe is also less overwhelming when getting dressed in the morning.

In regards to my clothing making, I’ve been more mindful about what I will and will not wear. Since my time is limited and I can’t just pop by the store if I need something, choosing a project that will work with my lifestyle is not negotiable. Fabric choice is a part of that as well. I seem to have a love affair with printed silk chiffon (specifically by Anna Sui), but there are only so many silk chiffon dresses one can own and wear on a daily basis.

So far, I’ve made seven pieces for myself this year. In a way, it doesn’t seem like much, but a project a month isn’t too shabby. For the next half of the year, I have a few things planned already, including a swimsuit for my vacation next month! I also have a sweater or two planned along with some vintage dresses and Liberty print projects.

I’ve already started to think about next year and I’m seriously considering making this goal a permanent part of my lifestyle. My only hang up? I still might eventually need to buy some jeans!

 

 

 

 

Community

Posted on | July 21, 2014 | 12 Comments

CommunityImage by Jeff Kubina, via Flickr 

Ever since I started dabbling with sewing again, I’ve noticed something about the sewing community. They still blog! Not only do they blog, but they have a solid community behind them. They know each other, comment on each other’s new makes, and encourage one other to be better sewers.

I guess I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for the days when knitting blogs used to hold the same place in knitters hearts.

Yes, I know we still have a strong community, but it’s different now. And it’s pretty freakin amazing. We have a place that over 4 million knitters call home and a huge database of such amazing information that we wondered how we ever survived before it’s creation.

So why this post?

Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t been too active in the knitting community lately. Maybe it’s that my book totally drained me. Maybe I’m just feeling overwhelmed by all of the new knitting patterns and designers out there (I can’t be the only one, right?) I haven’t even been to my knitting group in a month, or has it been two?

Maybe it’s that these days, I don’t have as much time to be as social on twitter and Ravelry. I have found a renewed interest for this little blog, but it feels a little lonely sometimes. When browsing the sewing blog community, I can’t help but feel like an outsider looking in remembering when that was the knitting community.

I also wonder if I’m just feeling guilty. It’s so much easier to take a quick spin through my friends on Ravelry, see what they are making and leave a drive by heart. Would it take me that much longer to open up a dialogue and congratulate this person on knitting 60,000 stitches and making something awesome? To me, that’s what makes a community great, forging lasting relationships with someone that shares your passion. Someone who knows what it’s like when you had to rip out that entire sweater. Someone who knows the joy of finishing that project that has languished in your WIP pile for years. Someone to celebrate with when you have made something pretty and would never tell you store bought goods are better.

I guess that is my way of saying that from this day forward, I am going to work harder to try to build back up my community and be a better member. I miss you all!

Comments

Sewaholic Saltspring Maxi Dress

Posted on | July 14, 2014 | 9 Comments

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This dress is the whole reason why I love to sew clothing for myself.

I’m short and store purchased maxi dresses are not my friend. They drag all over the floor and make me look like I’m melting from the feet up. Capris aren’t my friend either, but we’ll save that story for another time.IMG_1527

When I first saw the Saltspring dress by Sewaholic, I immediately knew I had to have it, but honestly I wasn’t even considering the maxi version. The years and years of maxi dress disappointment had taken it’s toll. IMG_1553

I bought a really bright crepe chiffon at Mood to make the knee length version, but wanted to test out the pattern before I cut into the best fabric in the world (it’s Betsey Johnson! Coming soon!) When my friend moved last year, she gifted me with lots of fabric and I found this lovely poly print in the box. It just so happened that I had enough to make the maxi version. I thought, why not? IMG_1557

I cut a straight size 6, which except for the hips, matches up with my measurements perfectly. While I maybe should have shaved a little off in the hip area since Sewaholic caters to pear shaped ladies, I don’t think it affects the look of the garment at all. The only other change I made was taking off about 4″ in the length. I think this is the first pattern ever in the history of my sewing where I have cut my suggested size and it actually fit! It’s the little things sometimes.      IMG_1560

The fabric was a little slippery to cut, but for the most part, it behaved while being sewn up. I probably could have done a little better on my seam finishing to keep it from unraveling, but I had hit the point of “I want to wear it tomorrow” and that was all she wrote. I also tried out this awesome technique for sewing a baby hem. It really worked! The only time I cursed was when the first time around, my bobbin ran out about 1/4 of the way through. Bobbins have a way of doing that at the worst time. Always.

I love the fit, the fabric, and the confidence it gives me when walking down the street. Some clothing just makes you feel so good and it’s nice when those clothes are something you made yourself!

 

Summer of ’69

Posted on | July 7, 2014 | No Comments

 

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After a fairly tolerable June, Summer arrived in grand fashion last week in NYC with temperatures in the 90’s. For such occasions, the most I can imagine wearing is a comfortable dress. It’s easy to throw on and as I wait for the subway in unbearable conditions with sweat rolling down my face, at least I look cute doing it.

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The pattern is Simplicity 1878 – the Lisette Diplomat Dress. I wanted a few shift dresses for the summer that had a nice shape with some interesting details and this one caught my eye. I liked that it had a few more details than a simple 60’s shift, but still had nice clean lines.

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I found this tie-dye cotton poplin at Mood and fell in love. The fabric is perfect for this dress and has just a little bit of stretch. I’ve worn it twice already and it certainly passed the comfort test. It’s first outing was to a concert and Sean Lennon’s band was the opening act. Quite fitting for the debut of my 60’s inspired dress, no?

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The pattern went together pretty easily, but I did need to make a few minor adjustments. According to the pattern envelope, I’m a size 12, but I don’t like how much ease is built into the big 4 patterns so I cut a straight size 10. I’m petite, so my biggest problem was the waistline and bust point didn’t hit anywhere near where they are supposed to. I took about 1/2″ length out of the top yoke section and another inch or so between the waist and yoke seam. I thought there was a problem with the sleeve cap at first, but it turned out to be poor sewing on my part. Sometimes I’m a little too eager sewing the sleeves into my muslin!

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Overall, I love this dress! It’s comfortable, fits well, and works well for warm summer days. Typically, I don’t remake patterns, but I have the feeling this one will make it into a second or even third version. Maybe something in linen or solid black?

 

Knitscene Accessories 2014: Pellissier Cowl

Posted on | June 3, 2014 | 2 Comments

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While I hope you’ve found all of my sewing projects interesting these last few months, I finally have some knitting to share! I’d like to introduce the Pellissier Cowl, which is a double-knit cowl inspired by the Art Deco building where I work.

The first time I stepped into my building a little over two years ago, I fell in love with the Art Deco details in the lobby. The radiator covers especially caught my eye.

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Aren’t they beautiful? I wish we still cared this much about good design everywhere just for the sake of it. Every morning I would stare at them knowing that one day they would become a knitting pattern of some sort. When I saw the mood boards for this issue of Knitscene Accessories, I knew it was finally time to dream up something interesting.

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I chose a cowl for two reasons. It offered just enough space to showcase the pattern and it was a small enough project to learn a new technique – double knitting. Since the pattern has a few stripe sections, a regular stranded knitting technique would not work in this situation.

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As with learning any new technique, I was a bit frustrated at first. As I got the hang of double-knitting, which didn’t take too long, the cowl became a lot more enjoyable to knit. If you have never tried double-knitting for yourself, Amy Palmer wrote up a fantastic companion article to show you the ropes.

The cowl is knit up in Lorna’s Laces Honor, an alpaca/silk blend. It was a pleasure to work with and most importantly has a nice drapey hand. Because of the double-knitting, you are essentially knitting two layers at once. In wool or cotton, your cowl will run the risk of being as straight as a board! The colors dye up nice and rich in this yarn base and the two chosen really show off the design well. It’s also nice that since you are working in double knit, the cowl is reversible and you can show off whichever side you’d like. Silvery and light or dark and mysterious. If substituting colors, I would just suggest going with another solid or semi-solid. A variegated yarn might get a little busy in this instance.

Knitscene Accessories 2014 should be hitting your LYS now, or is available as a hardcopy or digital download from Knitting Daily.

 

 

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