Sunday, January 3, 2021

Simplicity 9187

 I made a coat!  And I am pretty pleased with it.  See my smug face. 

Pattern Description: Simplicity 9187 is a relaxed fit jacket and coat with a shaped collar and pockets. The pockets are fun! There is the option to do a faux fur collar and cuffs with a separate pattern piece.

Pattern Sizing: XXS to XXL.  My measurements put me in a size large but I sized down to a medium because I knew it would be very oversized. Actually, my bust measurement put me in a medium, but everything else is in the large size.  The medium fit perfectly with a couple of shoulder alterations.

Fabric Used:  The fabric is really what inspired the coat.  A few months ago, I ordered this alpaca knit wool fabric from on a whim.  It wasn't actually what I was shopping for and I don't really know why I ordered it.  I was expecting it to be much lighter weight. When it came, I was surprised by the weight and warmth.  I figured I better make a nice coat out of it.  I searched around for a pattern that was simple so I didn't have to do too much plaid matching and settled on this one.  Anyway, it's super warm and cozy. It's probably the warmest coat I own.  It's definitely 100% wool because it smelled like a wet alpaca when I washed it!  I spent forever cutting out each piece individually to try and match up my plaids perfectly.  I think I did an ok job.  The horizontal lines match up pretty well, but I did not pay attention to the vertical lines in some places.  At least it's symmetrical.  I lined it with a rayon challis because I couldn't find anything else to match.  The rayon challis is a little heavier than a normal lining, but it contributes to the warmth, I think.

Alterations/ Deviations:  I went ahead and did my standard square shoulder/forward should adjustment before cutting anything out.  I just added 5/8" to the back shoulder seam.  Then I had to wrap my brain around where to add the 5/8" to make up for the change in the back neckline.  I added it to the center back collar seam.  I also added a little to the sleeve cap to make up for the extra added when cutting the fabric.  I probably should have taken a picture of what I did, because it worked well and I'm very happy with where the shoulder seam sits on me.  Otherwise I didn't do any other fit alterations because there is not much else to fit! I made the shorter jacket length, but I used the curved hem from the longer version because I liked it.  I also bagged the lining instead of hemming the lining and coat separately.  I almost think it was easier to do it that way.

Likes/ Dislikes:  I really love the end result.  It is so warm and cozy. It is the ultimate blanket coat.  I can see myself wearing this often, even though it's only cold enough here for a couple of months.  I love the fabric and I love the relaxed fit.  I can definitely fit a big sweater underneath.  The pockets are really fun.  They have an opening sewn with the seam allowances sewn in to the side seams.  I thought they were a little fiddly while I was working on them but love the way they turned out.  The only dislikes I have are the way the cuffs are sewn.  My fabric makes that seam pretty bulky, especially with the lining sewn to it as well.  The sleeves are also very wide and could maybe be slimmed down.  But then again, they work with oversized fit of the coat.

Conclusion: Nice pattern, love my new coat! 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Purple Robe and Anemones

Well, hello there, old blog!  It's been a while, hasn't it?  I thought this latest project I worked on deserved a real bona fide blog post. So here it is.  And boy, is it a long one.  I wanted to keep all my info in one place, so just skim if you are not interested in the whole lengthy process.

I have been inspired by Matisse's artwork since I was a kid.  I remember the painting Robe Violette et Anemones hanging in my elementary art classroom.  For as long as I have been sewing, I have wanted to create my own version of Matisse's purple robe.   The whole 'quarantine art' social media trend gave me the push to do it.  In fact, a local arts festival, Artisphere, put out a contest to recreate a famous work of art at home like the 'between art and quarantine' hashtag that I think originated with the Getty Museum. Years ago, I came across an article talking about an exhibition of Matisse's paintings displayed along side of a collection of his textiles.  Matisse was a textile lover (and aren't we all around here!).  He grew up in a textile region of France and his studio was filled with fabric, clothing, weavings and wall hangings.  Some of his textile items show up in multiple paintings, like the purple robe.  There is an exhibition catalog titled, Matisse: His Art And His Textiles that is amazing.  I ordered it when I began this project.  The book is full of photos and beautiful examples of Matisse's textile collection.  There is even a photo of the real purple robe. If you are a fan of Matisse's work, I highly recommend the book.  

The biggest issue with making myself a purple striped robe was finding the right fabric.  Over the years I have bought purple fabric a couple of times thinking I could paint the white stripes.  I even thought maybe I could bleach them.  I actually had a length of purple linen in my stash for a long time specifically earmarked for this.  I pulled it out and tried painting the white stripes with fabric paint and it looked bad. Extremely homemade.  I tried bleaching a little piece but it only bleached to pink.  I figured I'd have to dye the stripes to get the look I was going for.  I almost pulled out my batik supplies but I wasn't sure I'd have the time nor the means to get the wax out, so I looked in to painting with Procion dyes instead.

Believe it or not, I had everything I needed to do this except for the sodium alginate, which I ordered via amazon.  Apparently it's used in cooking. This truly was done with things I had at home. I had the deep purple Procion dye and the things needed to mix with it (urea and soda ash).  For the fabric, I had a leftover piece of white rayon challis that I had been using to line things.  I laid it out and rough cut it to fit my pattern pieces.  I used Burda 6740, a pattern from my stash- which again, I think I bought a while back just to do this purple robe.  I only had enough fabric for the fronts, sleeves and facings so I planned on using the printed rayon for the back and belt from the beginning.  I like a bit of print mixing anyway.

When it came to mixing the dye to paint with, I used the recipe from the Dharma Trading Company website to make the 'chemical water.'  I mixed 3/4 cups of urea in to about 4 cups of water.  I mixed it in a big glass jar.  From what I understand, the urea keeps the dye from drying too fast once it's been painted on the fabric.  Then I mixed in about 4 teaspoons of sodium alginate.  The sodium alginate is a thickener which keeps your dye from spreading.  I could have used more sodium alginate.  I let that mixture sit overnight before mixing up the dye.

The next day, I separated half of chemical water and mixed up my purple dye.  I used 3ish teaspoons of deep purple and 2 teaspoons of soda ash.  Soda ash is necessary for the chemical reaction between the dye and fiber (hence 'fiber reactive dyes').  Once you mix in the soda ash, you have to use your dye right away.  And so I painted my stripes.  

I laid each piece of fabric out on a piece of a plastic drop cloth and painted long vertical purple stripes.  I tried to leave enough space in between each purple stripe so the white would remain.  In hindsight, I could have used a smaller brush to make smaller stripes, but that also would have taken me even longer.  Doing these three pieces of fabric took about an hour and half.  It was a little tedious.  I did get some ripply edges because the dye would pool underneath the fabric on the plastic.  It would have been better to have something absorbent underneath, but I don't mind the ripples.  I wanted the stripes to look painterly like the Matisse painting.

After painting, I left the fabric to sit overnight underneath another piece of plastic (to keep it from drying all the way).  I actually sandwiched all three pieces on top of one another with their respective pieces of plastic.  Now, when I was painting the stripes, it was that beautiful deep purple that I was hoping for.  The next day, however, it was much lighter.

I rinsed out all three pieces the next morning until the water ran clear (with gloves in my bathtub).  Then I washed in the washing machine with some synthrapol.  When I took the fabric out to dry, it had faded to a pretty violet-red and had a faint blue halo around all the edges of the stripes.  I still thought it was pretty and planned to use it, but it didn't turn out exactly as I had envisioned.

I read around online to try and figure out what happened and came across a great website with tons of info about hand dyeing. One article I found interesting was that some dyes are pure color while some are mixtures. In mixtures of color, sometimes the two colors react with the fiber at different rates, which is what I am assuming happened here.  The website also specifically mentions fuschia reacting faster than blue, meaning the blue will travel longer and create that blue halo.  So that's probably what happened.  I do like the blue halo anyway.

After the fabric was dry, I cut out my pattern pieces and sewed.  The pattern was pretty straight-forward, though there was a little bit of hand sewing the facing at the back neckline.  I tried to avoid hand sewing whenever possible.  I made a medium and left off the pockets, no other modifications.

I was super pleased with how it turned out.  Not only did I plan to recreate the Matisse painting, Robe Violette et Anemones, but I also planned to use my robe for real (and I have been using it with all my time at home lately).  I spent an embarrassing amount of time staging my living room to snap a photo.  I hung pieces of fabric and party streamers on the wall behind my couch and made anemones with tissue paper and pipe cleaners.  My daughter helped.

After I finished everything, I decided to use the leftover piece of printed rayon (the back of the robe) to make myself some pajamas.  I mean, if I'm going to lounge around in my beautiful hand painted purple robe, I might as well have some swanky pj's to go along with it, right?  I used every scrap of the printed rayon to make an Ogden cami and elastic waist bottoms using Simplicity 1112, which is now OOP, unfortunately. 

I'm late to the Ogden cami game, but I love it.  This is the first one I've made but there will be many  more.  This is a size 12 graded out to a 14 under the bust.  Next time I'll add an inch or two of length and I'd like to experiment with making a wider strap.  The pants pattern I've used too many times to count (see my faux jumpsuit from a couple of years ago).  I cut a 16 but added a smidge more to the hip area (weight gain, yay).  I used every bit of fabric I had, so there is no pattern matching anywhere and the length hit just below my knee.  I wanted more length, so I found a teeny, tiny scrap of a cotton and steel rayon (leftover from a romper I made for my daughter) and added to the hems.  I love the end result. And all from the stash! Woo hoo. 

If you made it to the end here, you are a champion. 😆 All in all, it was a fun and really rewarding project where I got to combine my love for art and sewing together.  And bonus, I get to look pretty fancy while I sit around my house and sip my tea during this time (but not with my mask on).  Stay safe and healthy, friends!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Some Tops for Jane

My girl is about to start kindergarten!  I can't believe it.  She is so ready.  And fortunately for me, she's coming to my school.  We are so excited to go to school together every day.  I might even have her in my art class, as long as she doesn't get the traveling art teacher.  Will she call me mom? Who knows.  The other kids slip up and call me mom all the time anyway, which always makes me giggle.  I decided to make her a few new tops for school.  I like to save larger scraps of fabric from my projects thinking I can make something for Jane.  It's about time I actually got around to it.  The two floral pattern tees are actually recycled from two of my old tees.  And the black and white fabric is a piece I saved specifically to make her something.  Now that I've made these cute tops and have worked out the fit, I need to see what other knit scraps I've saved and make her some more.  Kids clothes are much faster to sew than adult size things. And she's very appreciative at this age.

Pattern Description:  I used McCalls 6947, which is unfortunately out of print now.  I've had it in my pattern stash for a while.  I actually used it last year to make her a dress (the patch pocket variation), so I knew what the fit was like. It's a pattern with lots of options for dresses, tops, and even leggings, which I have not made.

Pattern Sizing:  The pattern is sized 2-5.  I used a size 5.  I made a size 5 last year, too, and it was big then. I figured the five would be a better fit now.  Jane is a pretty standard size 5 in rtw except she is long.  Long though the body. These three tops are still running a teensy bit big in width, but that's a good thing as she'll grow in to them.  I added a bit of length to the bodice from the get-go, maybe a half inch.

Fabric Used:  The two floral fabrics are recycled from two of my tees. Of course I didn't take any 'before' photos.  Do you remember when Uniqlo had the Liberty collection?  I bought three tees then and only ever liked one enough to wear it.   The fit was off on all three.  The fabric, however, was beautiful.  So I saved the two tees with the intention of using the fabric for something.  Jane got a glimpse of the one with the rainbow colors in it and was all about it.  Anything rainbow these days.  Both fabrics are a cotton/viscose blend.  The black and white fabric is a remnant from a rayon knit I bought at Joann's.  I'm pretty sure it was one of their Nicole Miller fabrics.  I wish they'd bring back the Nicole Miller stuff.  It was decent quality compared to the stuff I've seen there lately.

Alterations/Deviations:  I used the bodice and sleeve pieces from view A but the gathered portion is different on all three.  I used the pattern piece as a general guide but the fact that these were all made from smaller pieces of fabric dictated the length and width.  I made the rainbow floral one first.  I used the bottom of the top (it was a swingy tank top) for the gathered portion after I cut the bodice and sleeve.  I really wanted the sleeves on this one so I sacrificed a lot of length.  It ended up very cute, but short.  I added the navy lace trim to give it a bit more length and I think it's my favorite part.  Though she won't be able to wear it much longer before it's a belly shirt.  The pink floral top came from a tee (front was floral and back was that solid oatmeal color). No sleeves so I could get all the length.  I went a little longer on the length so it's more of a tunic.  Both of those don't have all the width due to fabric constraints, so not as much gathering.  The black and white version is the actual length and width of the pattern.  I did a regular tee shirt neck band on all three instead of a binding.

Likes/Dislikes:  I really like all of them and so does Jane.  Of course the rainbow one is her favorite, although she really likes the pink floral one, too.  No dislikes.  The black and white top is a super stretchy fabric, so I bet she can wear it for a couple of years.  All in all, it's a nice, useful pattern.  I actually am sewing her another variation right now from some recycled fabric and have a dress planned if I have time before school starts  She's starting to make requests.  Good thing she's fun to sew for!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fringe Dress X 3

Pattern Description: The Fringe Dress from Chalk and Notch Patterns.  I don't normally purchase pdf's, but I decided this one was worth it.  And it was.  I made my first version (the black floral one) two days before Easter in a mad dash because I had nothing that fit my lumpy postpartum body.  It's a perfect nursing dress with the front button closure.  I liked my black floral one so much that I immediately cut out the orange and blue zig zag version.  I only recently made the blue and white stripe goldfish version with some changes, and I don't love it.  It's currently on the chopping block.  It might become a top.

Pattern Sizing:  Pattern comes in sizes 0-18.  I made a 10, which lined up with my bust measurement but not my waist measurement at the moment  I gave myself a little more seam allowance at the bottom of the bodice just in case, but I don't think I needed it since the bottom of the bodice hits very high on me. And as an aside, I'm definitely in the midst of the normal postpartum body struggles since I had a baby five months ago.  I'm at that point where I really don't know what size I am and nothing fits.  And being a second baby, I feel like the weight is just hanging on for dear life.  I'm still nursing, though, and I've decided to be kind to myself until I'm done nursing.  I'm sucking in like a champ in these photos. Ha!

Fabric Used:  The black floral version and the blue and white stripe goldfish print are both rayon poplin from  It's one of my favorite fabrics to work with.  The orange and blue zig zag print is a rayon I bought from Hancock right before they closed down.

Alterations/Deviations: I lengthened the black floral version to a maxi after reading the tutorial on the Chalk and Notch site.  No other changes.  The bodice hit me just under my bust line, so on my second version I added about 5/8" to the bodice.  After looking at pictures, I can't decide if I like the longer bodice or not, but I do get a slight maternity vibe from the black floral dress.  For the last version, I roughly went up a size by adding to seam allowances when I cut the fabric.  Not the proper way to do it, I know, and I just eye-balled it.  I thought I wanted a more relaxed fit.  I also added some more width to the the hem line by pivoting from the back and center front.  So the skirt has a bit more flare.  All three versions I did the button front because I'm nursing a baby.  I did the elbow sleeve and sleeve tabs on the orange and blue version, which is a nice design feature.  I put the ties on the first two but left them off the goldfish version.

Likes/Dislikes:  The pattern is great.  The design is really easy to wear and like I said before, it's a great dress for nursing moms.  The fit is really spot on according to my measurements, though having the higher waistline helps.  I wore my first two versions weekly when I went back to work at the end of the school year and they made me feel good and like I actually had myself together, even though I sure didn't!  I love the black maxi version the best.  In fact, I'm thinking about making another maxi version before school starts back again in a couple of weeks.  I like the orange and blue version a lot, too.  I spent forever on pattern placement.  I actually had the back piece cut horizontally like the front but discovered I had a slight tilt when I started sewing it together.  I had just enough fabric to go back and cut the back bodice the other direction instead.  I knew having one side that didn't match up would drive me nuts.  I'm not in love with the blue and white stripe goldfish version.  Even thought the fabric is supposedly the same substrate as the black floral, it's much thinner and lighter weight.  It's slightly see-through, too, so I'll have to wear a slip to wear it to work.  I'm also not a fan of the more relaxed fit, although that could have something to do with the fact that I added to the size just by winging it.  I think it's going to get chopped shorter and become a top.  I also have some pulling at that first button that I need to try and fix.

Conclusion: Great wearable dress!  Skims over my lumpy, post partum mid-section and cinches in the smallest part of my waist.  As much as I hate taping together pdf's, this one was worth it!

Side note:  Baby!  I haven't been on here much (ummm, last October) but for a very good reason.  I can't go without mentioning the new little brother in town, baby B.  He was born February 15th and is just the perfect missing piece to our family.  I have really been soaking up this time with him, especially since I wasn't sure we'd ever get to have that missing member of our family.  I'm not sure how many people are out there still reading my blog after all this time, but if you recall, my husband has chronic myeloid leukemia.  He was diagnosed shortly after our daughter was born five years ago.  With the crazy medication he takes, we weren't sure we'd be able to add to our family.  But long story short, we did :).  And he's here.  And we are just so lucky!

I don't post much here anymore (obviously) and I skim through my blog roll only occasionally when I get a chance.  I do, however, spend more time on Instagram.  In fact, I find that most of my blog reading comes from following a link from Instagram these days. I like that I can click through to get the whole story since Instagram is really just a quick snippet.  So if you are on Instagram and I don't follow you yet, give me a shout.  My account is lizajanesews.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Rainbow Leopard

It's almost Halloween!  You know what that means- time for another homemade Halloween costume.  There aren't too many traditions I've made a conscious effort to start with my child, but a handmade Halloween costume is one of them.  I plan to make her one every year that she'll let me.  And hopefully one day she'll take over and make her own.  Next year I'll have two costumes to make...

This year, Jane was a lot more opinionated about what she wanted to be for Halloween.  Although the idea to be her rainbow leopard Beanie Boo came about kind of organically.  I started asking her what she wanted to be about two months ago.  First it was a duck.  Then a tiger.  Then a fox, which she settled on for a while.  I'm thankful she asked for animal costumes because they are fun to make.  I figured a fox would be a cute costume.  So I started talking about buying orange fabric for her fox costume.  Well.  That was when the floodgate of ideas of opened up.  She didn't want to be an orange fox.  She wanted to be a pink fox, then a purple fox, and so on and so forth (the animal changed multiple times, too) until she settled on a rainbow fox (with spots and stripes and sparkles).  While talking about the rainbow fur with spots and stripes and sparkles, we had a revelation that she was really talking about her rainbow leopard Beanie Boo, Dotty.  And that was that.  I searched online for "rainbow animal print fabric with spots and stripes" and found this awesome fleece blanket on Amazon.  I told her that once I ordered the blanket, that was it.  She wasn't allowed to change her mind or give any more suggestions, which luckily she didn't.

Anyway, I used Simplicity 1731, a pattern for an adult, child and DOG jumpsuit.  Just in case you wanted to make the whole family matching onesies.  I honestly want to make myself a fleece onesie that will accommodate my pregnant belly this winter.  I am serious.  The pattern is great.  I measured the length against a set of footie pajamas that Jane wears all the time.  The length was exactly the same (I used the child's size XS/4-5) as her pajamas but there was a ton more width.  After getting the fleece blanket in the mail, I decided not to narrow any of the width down due to the blanket being so incredibly fluffy.  The rainbow fleece isn't a typical fleece, it's more like faux fur.  It has a super deep fluffy pile on both sides of the fabric.  It was a pain to cut, a pain to sew and a huge pain to clean up later on.  It shed something fierce while cutting and sewing.  There was rainbow fluff everywhere.  It would fly up in the air and then settle all over everything like rainbow snow.  I found it all over the house.  It was all over one of our cats at one point.  I am pretty sure I inhaled some of it.  I sewed everything with a zig zag stitch and serged seam allowances to reduce some of the bulk.  I really had to pull the fabric through my machine due to the pile being so fluffy.

Here she is showing me how fast leopards are and how they sleep in the grass :D

I made a couple of small changes while sewing. I rounded off the back of the hood.  And, of course, added the ears, tail and white belly.  The double layer of fleece at the belly was way too thick to install a zipper, so I had to sew it along the seam line and trim off the allowance of the white fleece.  The white fleece is leftover from her kitty costume from three years ago!  I also sewed on cuffs at the ankles and wrists instead of using elastic.  I used some scraps of black bamboo knit.  I did shorten the sleeves a teeny bit but the legs are the length per the pattern.  The tail is stuffed with a little bit of poly-fil.  And we found almost the exact same shiny pink fabric for the front of the ears.

She loves it!  And I love it.  She's like a big, snuggly stuffed animal when she's wearing it.   She's been wearing it around the house and actually wore it out to a restaurant to meet her grandparents the other day. And thank goodness it will be cold on Halloween this year because this thing is warm.  We took these photos on an almost 80 degree day and she was sweaty afterward.  She could wear this thing in the snow.

Happy Halloween, friends!

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 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  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 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.