Sunday, September 10, 2017

Shirt Dress For A Bump

Here are a few more things I made for the growing belly this summer.  All of these were for back to work.  I've worn the shirt dresses a bunch of times already, but haven't worn the separate pieces at all.  The best part about all of these pieces is that they don't look like maternity clothes (I think?) and I definitely plan to wear them after baby is here.  The shirt dresses in particular will come in handy when I have to go back to work after giving birth.  Don't ask me why I seem so prepared for all of this baby business!  I'm really not.  At least I'm not prepared in any other aspect of life. But I guess my wardrobe is prepared.  Ha! I did get all summer to think about what to sew and then had the time to do it, so that helped.


Pattern Description: The pattern is one I've made before, McCalls 7314.  In fact, when I blogged about this particular dress before, I actually noted that it would be a great maternity pattern.  And it is!  It's a typical shirtwaist dress but with a raised, curved waist seam.  It's perfect for a growing bump. And I will absolutely be wearing my very first version when the weather gets a little cooler (it's below).  I left the elastic out of the back waist in that version but I like how it looks with tights and boots. The sleeves are from a different pattern.




Pattern Sizing: 6-22.  I made a 14.  

Fabric Used: I made the navy, shibori print dress first.  It's a rayon poplin that I bought from fabric.com a while back.  I've seen many other folks with the same fabric and for good reason.  It's really nice stuff.  I think rayon poplin might be my favorite dress fabric.  It's got great drape but is way sturdier than rayon challis and totally opaque.  I made the black and white gingham version next.  It is a rayon challis I've had for a while, too.  The top version is a plain white rayon challis that I bought yards of when Hancock closed down.  And the pants are made from the leftover rayon poplin from my very first version of the dress above.  I'm trying to sew through some of my stash as my fabric closet is going to be new baby's closet.  I've got to downsize!  I'll make some quick notes about the pants at the bottom of this post. 



Alterations/ Deviations: The navy shibori print dress has almost no alterations except my standard square shoulder adjustment. I played around with the shoulder fit more on the gingham version (and the armscye), but honestly, I think the shoulders look better on the navy version.  I also played around with button placement on the gingham version but I like it better per the pattern.  The gingham dress is longer, too.  About three inches, I think.  I spent forever matching up the checks on the gingham when I cut out pattern pieces.  The bodice looks decent but there is a little slant to the skirt. Oh well.  It was not fun to cut out.  I made the blouse last.  It's okay.   I put the elastic in the back waist of both dresses but did not like it in the top version.  So I left it loose and billowy.  The top version seems to fit so much larger for some reason.   Maybe fabric choice- cheap fabric, looser weave.


Likes/ Dislikes:  I love both dress versions. The curved waist seam is just perfect for a belly.  I plan to wear both dresses after baby, too.  I'm hoping the buttons will make it nursing friendly.  Like I said before, the blouse and pants haven't been worn at all.  I think I like both pieces separately, but not together.  It's too much fabric to wear at once.  I'll wear the blouse with a skinnier bottom but I'll probably just save the pants for later.  You can't tell in these photos, but the blouse has fun buttons.  They are clear with glitter.



And just some quick notes about the pants:  They are Butterick 5893.  I made view A, the straight leg version with side seam pockets.  I cropped mine.  I also shortened the rise a little bit.  They have an elastic waist.  They feel nice to wear in rayon poplin again, but I'm not sure what sort of top to wear them with.  I'll have to figure it out.


Conclusion:  Great shirt waist dress pattern. Perfect for summer and also happens to be perfect for early maternity wear!   I took these photos the same time I took the photos for my last post.  So this is just a 15 week little baby bump.  It's getting bigger now.  I think it's time to look at actual maternity patterns and for colder weather, too.



Saturday, September 2, 2017

Well, Hello!

Well, hello there!  I didn't mean to be absent from this space for such a long time.  But it seems my posts are fewer and far in between as time goes on.  However, I have good reason for being silent for some time...


 Baby!  Yes, baby number 2 is on it's way.  I found out I was pregnant the second day of summer vacation (I'm a teacher) and have spent the whole summer taking it very easy.  It was fabulous.  I thought my timing with my daughter was great before.  I had her in April and got to stay out the rest of the school year. But I think this timing is even better as I got to spend my entire first trimester at home.  I'm back at work now but it's going well.  Baby is due early February.  I will have to go back to work the last month of school or so (womp, womp - American maternity leave).  But then I'll get all of next summer, too.  I've felt like my baby bump is enormous this time around, but looking at these photos I realize it's not.  Ha!  It's just a little bump.  I took these photos a couple of weeks ago so I think I was around 15 weeks at that time.  I am a little bigger now!  We still don't know it it's a boy or girl yet, but we'll find out in a few weeks.  Jane says she wants a little brother, believe it or not.

Since I was home all summer thinking about my school year and new arrival, I spent lots of time sewing for a bump.  I was actually making the orange dress in my photos when I found out I was preggo.  And I thought it would be a great dress for skimming over a little bump, with a few alterations.  So I made four versions!  I figured this would be a great dress/top for a growing bump but also would be nice for after pregnancy.  To the review...


Pattern Description:  The pattern is Simplicity 8333, a jumpsuit/dress pattern with a crossover bodice for knit fabrics.  I thought it looked like an easy pattern for summer when I first decided to make it.


Sizing: 4-20.  I made a 12.  I am typically a 14 but I usually size down when I make a knit pattern.


Fabric Used:  All knits, of course, but different knits behaved differently.  My favorites are the orange dress and the red/pink longer dress.  Those knits are a rayon blend and had strong recovery.  The black and white tie-dye top is a bamboo knit from fabric.com.  I works well for a top but would be too drape-y for a dress.  The green version is my least favorite.  It's a rayon jersey (Dakota jersey from fabric.com) and is too thin and wrinkly.  I think maybe it's a cotton/rayon blend?  Can't remember.  Anyway, I like well enough but I think it looks sloppier than the others.



Likes/Dislikes:  I love the bodice with the cut on sleeve.  It's the main reason I made these.  The skirt is modified from the get-go.  When I cut the pattern, I noticed that the skirt pattern piece was just a perfectly straight rectangle which does not work for someone with saddle-baggy hips like myself.  So I used the top of the rectangle as a guide and made it in to a-line shape to accommodate my hip measurement.   They all have pockets except for the top version.  I know people don't like pockets in jersey, but I love pockets no matter what.  



Alterations/Deviations:  In addition to the skirt modification I mentioned above, I also added elastic in to the neckline of all versions.  When I sewed on the neck binding, I threaded a long piece of 1/4" elastic through the binding like a casing.  I pulled the elastic slightly and sewed at the shoulder seams so the back neckline is nice and taut.  I just pulled the elastic ever so slightly at the front bodice to keep a little tension on the front neckline before sewing the bodice to the skirt.  It worked well on all versions except the green one (because the knit is so droopy).  I'm so pleased with the elastic in the neckline because that neckline is not going anywhere!  I also sewed one snap at the front where the bodice pieces crossover to hold in place.  My plan is to also wear these dresses after pregnancy while I'm nursing.  The elastic should keep everything from stretching out and I can undo the snap easily.  I cut all the back bodice pieces on the fold, too, except for the red/pink version due to amount of fabric. 


All the dresses have hem and sleeve length differences, too.  The orange dress is the shorter sleeve in the pattern and the skirt length is per the pattern plus one inch.  So it's a pretty short skirt as is, fyi.  The green dress I cut the longer sleeve and added several inches to the hem thinking I would wear this one to work.  I made the top version next.  And then the pink/red version is about ankle length because that was every bit of fabric I had.  That fabric is one I bought when Hancock was closing down.  I miss Hancock!


Conclusion:  Nice, easy knit dress pattern.  Perfect for a growing bump, but I stress growing.  The elastic waist does hit the top of my belly and I know once my mid-section gets a little bigger I won't want to wear any of these as is.  Maybe with a raised and curved waist it would work for an entire pregnancy.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More Sleeves!


These are some serious sleeves, again!  I guess it really is 'the year of the sleeve.'  Or am I behind a year?  I usually am.  Anyway, I made this dress back in April for Easter.  I actually took photos then, too, but have not even thought about blogging until now. Why now, do you ask?  Schools out!  Glorious free time!  Woo hoo!  Today was my last workday for the next nine weeks.  I love summer!! 


Pattern Description:  McCalls 7385.  I made view C but with the awesome circular flutter sleeves.  I've had this pattern for a while.  I have seen a few sleeveless versions but not any with the big sleeves.  I now see why the giant sleeves are only on the shirt view, though.  A whole lotta fabric went in to this dress.  Five yards.  Yes, five!  I lined the sleeves and bodice.  And while I like the end result just fine, I do feel like I'm being swallowed up by all that fabric.  


Pattern Sizing:  6-22.  I made a 14 but I do believe I nipped it in a bit.  It's been while since I made it, so it's hard to remember everything I did.

Fabric Used:  A rayon challis, I believe this is from Gertie's line of fabrics at Joann's.  I really, really tried to shop my stash but didn't have anything spring-y for Easter.  So I went to Joann's just to browse and this electric blue floral print jumped out at me.  It's not a style I would typically go for but I think it works with the dress.  And I felt nice and bright and springlike when I wore it.  I am a little concerned about the longevity of the fabric.  I had a lot of trouble with warping and stretching out while I was sewing. I guess that means the weave is looser.  It's nice and swishy, though.  On the downside, you really can't see any of my seam lines in this busy print.


Likes/Dislikes:  I like the lines of this pattern.  The gathering on the side is nice and I like that it doesn't continue across the center front.  I like the raised waist.  It hits me at my smallest measurement.  I also like the split neck.  I do have a little bit of pulling at the split towards my shoulders.  Typical issue for me.  I think I squared the shoulders some, but can't remember.  I usually do.  The split neck should be lined in the pattern instruction but it's not.  It stays open and you would see the wrong side of the fabric all the time.  Luckily I read a couple of reviews of the pattern, including Carolyn's, so I planned ahead and lined the whole bodice- front, back and side pieces.  The original instructions have you line just the side front and back to get a clean edge on the armholes. 


Alterations/Deviations:  Like I said above, I lined the whole bodice.  I used all the same pattern pieces, cutting the center front at the waistline.  I also self-lined the sleeves.  I put one sleeve on as a single layer but didn't like seeing the wrong side of the fabric.  So I cut two sets of sleeves and stitched together at the hem before sewing them to the armscye.  Those sleeve pieces are fabric eaters!  Saved me from having to hem that giant circle, though.   I added interfacing to some areas on the bodice after the fact as I was sewing.  The pattern doesn't call for any interfacing, but I think you need some if you are using a floppy fabric like rayon challis.  I interfaced the front edges of the split (shell and lining) and around the neckline.  Like I said before, I was having some trouble with warping and this was my solution.  I added side seam pockets, too.  I love shoving my hands in my pockets.   The finished dress was also pretty short.  You probably can't tell, but I used my last little scrap of fabric to add a hem band to the bottom of the skirt.  For length, but also to add a little bit of weight to the skirt.  With all the lining on the bodice and sleeves, the dress is pretty top heavy.  I probably should have lined the whole dress in a lining fabric, minus the front neck split.


Conclusion:  I enjoyed wearing my new dress.  I like the cut of the dress even if it gets overshadowed by those massive sleeves.  I'd love to make the maxi version this summer though sleeveless for sure.  The front slit on the maxi view is calling my name.  If I make those big sleeves again, I'll stick with just a top version.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Dress, Some Curtains and a Birthday Eggstravangza

The title says it all!  I've done quite a bit for the girl here lately, so here it is all in one post.  First up is the dress.


Jane had picture day at school a month or so ago.  I decided to make her a dress for the occasion.  I'm so glad I sew.  The pattern is Burda envelope pattern 9362.  I've made a few Burda kids patterns now and I'm always pleased with the fit.  It seems pretty accurate.  I made a size 4, which is what Jane wears in rtw.  The shoulder fit and overall width is just right.  I made the dress, sans ruffle, but with the flutter sleeves.  I love those little flutter sleeves.

  

I used a swiss dot printed with flamingos (flamingoes?) that I found at Joann's.  I had the pink seersucker in the stash from years ago.  This dress is pretty simple but I went a little fancy with the finishing.  I lined the whole thing with white rayon challis I had.  The swiss dot definitely needed a lining.  I wanted to do a two layer skirt with the pink seersucker but was worried it would be too stiff for the gathering at the waist- hence the two piece skirt lining below.  


It's a very cute little pattern.  I plan on making the top version soon with some leftover rayon.  Jane seems pleased with it, too, though she refused to take any serious photos.  These are some of her modeling poses below.  She'll get lots of use out of this dress over the summer.


Next up is a set of curtains I sewed for Jane's room.  She has officially switched over to a big girl room :(  I tried to keep her in that toddler bed as long as I could.  But she's in her big girl bed and loving it.  I made her curtains and some bedding before she was born (see here and here).  The curtain fabric faded like crazy in the sun (we originally didn't have blinds up) so I figured it was time for some new ones.  Also, see birthday party eggstravaganza below-- we went a little nuts doing some home improvement stuff because we knew we'd have lots of guest over for her birthday party. I waffled over different color schemes for her room but ultimately we went with rainbow.  I mean, who doesn't love rainbows?  Jane loves her rainbow curtains and now I don't have to worry about anything matching, so it's a win-win.  I found this fabric on fabric.com and it's just perfect.  Hopefully it doesn't fade too bad.


The curtains are just a simple tab top.  We actually are planning on raising that curtain rod a couple of inches but haven't gotten around to it yet.  I didn't order quite enough fabric for the length we needed so I used a leftover piece of fabric from her baby bedding as a hem facing, which is my favorite part.  I know curtains are a boring sewing project but I like seeing other peoples home decor sewing, so there you go.


I couldn't figure out a good time of day to take a photo so it's little dark.  But for posterity, above is Jane's room somewhat clean right before her birthday party.  Hasn't looked like this since!


Jane's fourth birthday party was great fun.  She is obsessed with these crazy surprise egg videos on YouTube.  I'm not sure what the pull is, but she would watch them over and over again if I let her.  So we decided to have an EGGstravangza birthday party, complete with egg crafts, egg themed food and an egg hunt of course.  It also happened to be the weekend before Easter.


Somebody should have restricted me from Pinterest beforehand.  Pinterest gets full credit for the peep centerpiece and bunny cups.  So much work!  It's funny how a 'little get-together' can turn in to something so crazy.  I'm glad I snapped a pic of the spread before it was eaten up.  Jane helped with a lot of the prep.  She did some of the faces on the bunny cups (my favorite!) and helped set up the craft table and made examples.  It was fun having a helper.  We made an egg scratch board and little bunnies using plastic eggs and pipe cleaners.


I promise there were other kids there but didn't want to post pics without permission, so you just get Jane.  We also made those bunny bags for the egg hunt.  She had a ball.


This girl.  I can't believe she's four!  Everyone told me it goes by fast but I had no idea.  She is just so much fun, uncooperative camera faces and all.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sleeves!

I wore this to work the other day for the first time.  Um, let's just say that these sleeves are not made for art teacherin'.  I just about dipped them in to paint/glue/glaze on several occasions.  Then I almost cut them in the paper cutter.  I finally had to tie them up over my elbow with a rubber band to teach the rest of the day.  However, these sleeves are made for swanning around and looking groovy!  I love them.  I just maybe need to think about what I'm going to teach that day before I wear this to work again.  Anyway, to the review...



Pattern Description:  McCalls 7545.  Misses split neck top with flared sleeves.  There are three different views; a short sleeve version without the flared sleeve, a version with a long flared sleeve with sleeve bands, and a version made for border prints with a gathering.  It's a very groovy looking pattern.  I made view B with the sleeve bands because I was drawn to the view with the two contrasting fabrics.




Pattern Sizing:  6-22.  I made a 14.  I waffled between making a 12 or 14 but ultimately went with the larger size because I was worried about the shoulders being too tight.


Fabric Used:  I used two different rayon challis prints I found at Joann's.  I really didn't want the two fabrics to match at all.  I wanted them to sort of clash, but not in a bad way.  I spent FOREVER cutting this out.  Single layer, painstakingly making sure each side matched up.  I think the time spent paid off although there are few places that aren't perfect.  I couldn't decide how to use the crazy border print so I cut two different center fronts and back yokes to help me decide.  The one I decided not to use on the outside, I used inside for the facings.


Likes/Dislikes:  I love the sleeves, obviously.  And I love the two fabrics together.  However, there are some fit quirks that I don't love (see below).  I also did not love how deep the split neck was.  I ended up tacking it up higher.  I had a fit issue with the width of the neck line as well.  Tacking the split closed higher made that issue much less noticeable.  My cording is just ok.  I couldn't find exactly what I wanted so I braided some thinner crochet yarn I had to make a thicker cord.  We'll see how that washes.  I ended up cutting the ties much shorter since I'm not tying the split neck closed anyway.  They are purely decorative.  The insides are just as pretty as the outside, although I didn't do all the slip stitching by hand.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  I just serged the edge of the facings and top stitched from the outside.



Alterations/Deviations:  I did not make a single alteration to this particular top.  Not a one.  I spent so much time cutting out the fabric that I didn't want to mess with any alterations from the beginning.  I figured the drape-y fabric and the relaxed fit would be forgiving.  And it is for the most part.  I definitely need to square up the shoulders.  There is this weird fit issue through the shoulders and front where the top part if much too wide.  The ends of the shoulders sort of pull off the ends of my shoulder, if that makes sense.  If I pick up the inner corners of the shoulders and pinch off the excess, that goes away.  The armhole is also very high.  If I make this again, I will definitely do a substantial square shoulder adjustment without raising the armhole to match.  I also will take out some width from the center front (and maybe even center back).  I bet my neck split wouldn't be too deep with those fit changes either.  So, once again, I have shoulder fit issues.  I am about ready to maybe try and draft my own block to see if I can solve my shoulder fit issues once and for all.


Conclusion:  I really love the finished top, shoulder fit issues and all.  I am interested in making this again, but it is a little lower on my list.  I'm actually kind of interested in the short sleeve version. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Bunch of Knits



I didn't realize at the time that all the things I made in the last month and a half coordinate so well.  I can't say I planned that, though.  I guess I know what I like when it comes to choosing fabric!  I've made a bunch of easy knit things since Christmas.  I seem to go through phases in my sewing where I just want to beef up my wardrobe fast.  And that's what I did.  Easy, knit tops are almost like instant gratification when it comes to sewing projects.  Anyway, I decided just to put all these quick sews in one blog post and write a brief pattern review of each.  Hopefully it's not too massive of a blog post to read.

 First up is this funky tunic.  I used a Nicole Miller knit I bought from Joann's last winter.  I got a gift card for Christmas last year to Joann's so I ordered online instead of buying in store.  I had no idea the feather print on this fabric was so big when I ordered it.  It wasn't going to work for what I originally planned, so it sat in my stash.  I didn't really love the color scheme either when I saw it in real life.  There is a lot of green and yellow.  But now that I've made this top, I'm really liking it.  This is just another iteration of Simplicity 1071, which I have made too many times to count now.  It's a super easy, boxy top with a great neckline.  I highly, highly recommend the pattern if you are looking for a top like this.  On this version, I added a cowl (from another pattern I can't remember right now) and lengthened it about ten inches.  I also did extra deep side slits.  I've worn it over jeans like this and over leggings.  The back is slightly longer than the front.


Next are two StyleArc Sunny tops.  I love this pattern.  The top has a cocoon shape, wider through the middle, and nice slim sleeves.  I made the grey version first from a sweater knit I found at Joann's.  Wish I had more of this fabric.  It's nice snuggly stuff.  I went back for more but it was all gone.   


I've only sewn two StyleArc patterns so far, but I've liked them both.  The instructions are minimal but that's okay for a top like this.  I screwed up the neck band on the grey version.  I really should have pulled it tighter.  There was no way to unpick with the plush sweater knit, though.  So I left it as is.   It bothers me in these photos but doesn't bother me at all when I wear it. 


On the second printed version, I did a better job on the neck band.  I also cut the neckline about 3/8" deeper.  I like the way the neckline sits on the second version better.   Version number two is another Nicole Miller knit from Joann's.  Man, I've bought a lot of fabric from Joann's lately.  It's all I've got where I live. Both are great tops and I have worn them both constantly since I made them.  On both versions, I switched the print direction on the bottom half of the top- just because.


Next I made this long swingy vest thingy from a drape-y cardigan pattern, McCalls 6844.  I used a drab green bamboo knit from fabric.com.  I love those bamboo knits- so soft and such great drape.  I know this particular McCalls pattern has been a very popular.  I picked this pattern up at a recent pattern sale strictly with the intention of making a vest like this.  I wanted something long and swishy I could wear over long sleeve tops and dresses.  I had something specific in mind when I made this but I'm not sure I hit the mark just right.  I added about ten (?) inches or so to view A, split between two of lenthen/shorten lines on the pattern.  The pattern variations all include sleeves but I figured it would be an easy alteration to just bind the armholes and make it a vest.  


Well, it didn't exactly work out that way.  My armholes are much deeper than the original pattern.  I did a binding first and hated the way it drooped and stuck out.  Instead of unpicking, I just cut off the binding and sewed bands instead.  I figured a deep armhole wouldn't matter on a vest anyway.  All in all, it's just ok.  I like it but I haven't worn it out in public yet. I'm actually thinking I might wear this more when it's warmer over sleeveless things.  We'll see.  


And last but not least, a swingy trapeze dress.  I used New Look 6469.  The pattern has a raglan sleeve, a high neckline and tons of tent-y swish.  I wasn't sure I was going to like a dress like this but figured I'd try it on a whim.  I bought the pattern and the fabric at the same time (Joann's again, ha!).


  Why I chose a stripe, I have no idea.  I really tried to match up those stripes at the raglan seams.  If you notice, the stripe right at the bottom of the armhole matches (where the notch was), but that's it.  I should have matched a stripe higher up.  Both sides look similarly mismatched, so I left it.  And I didn't have any more fabric anyway.  I actually had to piece the neck band.  My side seams match beautifully, however.  I sewed a size S, which was crazy.  I was feeling adventurous with my weight loss.  It fits because it's so swing-y, but it's definitely tight through the shoulder.  The knit I used is pretty tough and beefy, though, so it works.  


There are darts at the top of shoulder.  I know those darts don't fit my shoulders but you can't tell because of the way the knit stretches.  Are those darts supposed to go to the end of your shoulders?  Just curious.  I cut the neckline just a tiny bit deeper so I didn't have to do a button and loop closure at the back of the neck- per the pattern.  That also eliminated the need for a center back seam so I cut the back on the fold.  I made the sleeves as long as I could with the fabric I had.


I'm very pleased with how this dress turned out.  I've worn it tons already.  I had no idea I'd like this silhouette so much.  I've already made another dress from this pattern.

Alright, you made it to the end!  That was quite a bit of stuff in one post.  I think I'm burning out on blogging a little bit.  I've been sewing a lot lately but I haven't been able to bring myself to blog like I used to.  I'm hoping it's just a phase.  I really enjoy sewing blogs and the community that goes along with it.  Plus I think it's so useful to see your work in pictures and write about it.  I feel like it makes me a better sewist.  Time to reflect and critique.  Anyway, I'm blathering.  Until next time!