8.20.2014

Thank you and Good Night


The Summer Sundress Sew-a-long officially wrapped up on Monday and I wanted to give a big "Thank You!" to everyone who participated. Frog and I'd love to give you a hug and some cookies too, but there's the whole problem of geography to deal with. Also Frog ate all the cookies. How he gets into the tin with no opposable thumbs is a mystery for the ages.

The number of people who did hop on the sewing band wagon far surpassed my expectations. Sixty nine group members in total and wow, so many beautiful garments! Some of you are lucky that we aren't the same size, cause you might find an empty hanger in the closet one morning. The dress napper strikes again!

All jokes aside, I looked forward to checking the group for new photos every day. All of you so inspiring with your makes and the stories that went with them. Some people dusted off some old FO's and finished them up. Other's tried new techniques that were a little scary. And a lot of us grabbed a favorite pattern and made another dress that we absolutely love. Ahhh it made my tiny Grinch heart grow two sizes.

XOXOXOX
Heather and Frog

P.S. If life got in the way and you didn't get your sundress project done in time, no worries. Feel free to upload it to the group when ever you do.

8.18.2014

Bettie Drapering It Up - McCall's 6696

Being Don's wife is hard work. All those cigarettes to smoke, wine to drink, all while actively ignoring the children.  "Shut up Sally and stop shoving food in your face." God knows how I find the time to make bitchy comments with Francine. Just the other day I got so fed up with everything that I shot a few of the neighbor's pigeons. At least Sally and Bobby made sure to keep my wine glass topped up that night. Don finally came home and said I look pretty in my new dress. Guess I'll grace him with a smile tonight.
This post could be alternately titled, "Clare made me do it." McCall's 6696 wasn't a pattern I'd noticed when it came out.  I only skim big 4 offerings when they release. If something doesn't grab me then right then it gets forgotten. Well Clare went and remade this pattern, reminding me that I wanted this dress as well as her legs and her Don robot. I contented myself with only purchasing the pattern.
My plans for a straight skirt version where quickly abandoned after realizing that the full skirt view would go great with the Carline Liberty Lawn in the stash.  That fabric was supposed to be a shirt dress anyway, the one from Gertie's first book.  Long story short, fitting that particular pattern was a nightmare. "What Is Wrong With This Bodice?!  Do my arms come out at weird angles or something. AHHHHHHH!" The Gertie shirt dress ended up sewn in lobster quilting cotton and the Liberty went back into the stash cave.

As much as I'd love to hoard Liberty lawn forever, it stuck me that McCalls 6696 had the right details for my taste.  I took the plunge and put scissors to those luscious red roses. Eck! Even having a well fitting muslin doesn't take the sting out of cutting into Liberty. "What if I screw this up? The sewing goddess will surely curse me forever." However once you get over that hump, sewing with Liberty is such a joy. I start wondering why can't I be filthy rich and have bolts of it? Who wants to plan a Liberty lawn heist with me? Hashtag #LLheist. I'm sure there's no way they can trace it back to this blog.
Anyway let's put my criminal plans aside and get back to sewing.  Great things about this pattern include, a two piece collar, pretty gathers in the back, pockets and an inset waist band that make sewing belt loops on a snap.  With the different views it's easy to get shirt dress with either a retro or modern feel.  Props to the design department for giving you options like that. I'll probably sew the straight skirt version with sleeves in denim for fall. (Seems everything is denim this fall.)
Bad thing about this pattern, or maybe just view A, is that it takes a shit ton of hand sewing. So Much Hand Sewing....what have I done? Save me from the needle's wrath! Finishing the dress was a slog and the only thing keeping me going was staring at red roses and Stephen King's Dark Tower series on audio book. Ahhh yeah, scratch my science fiction/western itch.

Pattern
McCall's 6696 - View A. Henceforth referred to the view of copious hand sewing.

Fabrics used
Liberty Tana Lawn in the discontinued Carline print. Dear Liberty, how can I convince to start reprinting this design again? Cookies? Buying more lawn? Not planning to rob your store? Let me know. Smooches

Pattern changes/alterations
1. I excitedly bought the larger size nest without looking at the measurements on the envelope.  Turns out that the 36" bust size 14 is in the smaller size nest. Doh! Since I needed the size 16 for my lower body I decided to do a little fast and loose grading on the top half of the pattern rather than exchange the pattern.  I used the method of grading using the existing sizes explained in this post. But instead of grading up, I did the opposite and graded down.

2. This was my first time using a McCall's pattern that had the different cup size options. Since I wear a DD US/E European bra size I traced the D cup bodice.  When I mocked up the dress I found a fitting problem that I'd never encountered before.  The neck/shoulders, which had been graded down, fit perfectly. The hip area also fit perfectly. But in the bust/waist area I literally had inches of extra ease. I'm going to guess that the different cup sizes have FBA adjustments already made to them.  Since I rarely need one of those, using the D sized bodice might not be the best fitting option for me.  To fix the ease problem I took 3/4" out of the side seam of the entire bodice and waistband. The top of the skirt was nipped in 3/4" to match the waistband and then graded out to zero at the hip.

3. The bodice was shortened 1/2" and the waist dart shortened 1".

4. Standard dropping of the side seam dart an 1".

5. Standard 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment made.

In retrospect, it would have been a lot less work to start with the size 14 and just grade out the hip a bit.  Oh well, I couldn't have foreseen this unless someone explicitly mentioned it in a PR review. (I didn't bother to check before plunging into the project.)

Confessions/Advice
1. Confession - I hated sewing this dress because it was about 50% hand stitching. The first half of assembly is fine and then suddenly you find yourself doing yards and yards of hand stitching with one machine seam in between.  If you make view A you will have to hand stitch, the waist band facing, the giant hem, both button band facings, both armhole bias bindings, and finish with sewing on 12 buttons.  I did most of this with a head cold, which did not improve the process.

2. The shoulder strap piece for the included slip does a fine job doubling as bias binding piece for the armholes. You know if you had a brain fart and thought it actually was a bias binding pattern piece and already cut the fabric.  I did use a 1/4" seam allowance to sew the strip on due to the width of the piece.

4. There was some sort of nonsense in the directions about turning the hem up 2 + inches and then trimming it down. I guess a wider hem would be a nice design element in a semi-see through fabric like the eyelet they used in there pattern sample. I wanted the hem a little longer anyway so my dress has a 1 1/4" hem that did not need to be eased in. The button band was plenty long enough to accommodate this with out any adjustment.

5. I heard, through the grapevine, about some people feeling there was too much ease in the back.  For me this wasn't an issue, probably because my upper back is wide. I was able to skip my standard width adjustment since there was already plenty of ease to move my arms around.

Husband Comment
"It's got a collar and buttons. Do those buttons open up? Does it have pockets? Well that's convenient. Are you wearing a belt with that? Does the collar chafe your neck? No? OK that's good. It looks stylin'." *Then the spelling of styling was specified.*

My Final Thoughts
Even though I was cursing my lot during the hand sewing, I knew it was going to be fine in the end.  I could tell from the muslin that this would be a comfortable dress and easy to accessorize. The style of pattern is "me" or at least me at this current moment. (Damn changeable whims.) The Carline print was a perfect match and I admit enjoying the flurry of instagram liking while making this dress. None of you can resit the fabric's charms....and I don't blame you.  Roses goooood.

Coincidentally Mary just made this pattern too. Linking over so you can get a look at another lovely version. That's 3 shirt dresses for the price of one, cause I'm not trying to brain wash you into buying the pattern or anything. (Buuuuuuy Ittttt.)

8.14.2014

Dusting off the Pattern Stash with Beignet

OK dish, how many patterns do you have in your stash that you've never sewn up?  10's, 20's, enough that you're getting a bit shifty eyed right now? What you want me to answer my own question?  Well I'm gonna have to plead the fifth on that and ask that you direct any further questions to my lawyer Esquire Froggie. Meanwhile I'll be throwing patterns in the air and cackling. Mine all Mine!!!

I was "making it rain" with patterns the other week when the Beignet pattern landed on my head and I though, "Skirt pattern gooood, must sew."  Now this baby has been in the stash for at least 2 years, maybe more.  I probably bought it because some other blogger made up a cute version....as you do. Then realized I'd never tuck my shirt in to wear it and threw it in the back of the pile.  But segue way to 2014 Heather who is all about Nettie bodysuits and tucking things in willy nilly. Short-waistness be damned, I'm making a Beignet skirt.
Recently there was a twitter conversation about buying fabric with plans and how those plans get changed. Now I'm not a planner. My buying technique is "OMG I must have this to hoard and occasionally pet. It can not belong to someone else!" This works great with fun prints, but when it comes down to buying basics I "usually" have a plan. (Have been known to go bat shit crazy over wool.)
The plan for this stretch cotton was a Springy pair of Thurlow trousers. Mmm yeah, I can still picture it in my brain and it looks good. If only pants fitting is wasn't still my Achilles heel.  I spent a solid month trying to get Thurlows to fit and ended up with nothing but 5 muslins too tight in the backside. Curse you ginormous butt!!! Two Spring seasons later this fabric was still in the stash and I had to sit down and seriously reconsider my plans. Did I want to go through the cycle of pants fitting hate right now?  No.  How much wear would a pair of spring pants get anyway?  Maybe 2-3 weeks max? Now a skirt, that could get a whole lot of wear during hot weather.  I waffled a bit until Froggie pulled out the pair of matching wedges and whispered, "Dooo Itttt." One must always follow the advice of their spirit animal/sewing helper.
Wow, can I say this pattern is time consuming?  Totally worth it, but for some reason I had the thought that this was going to be a "quick skirt project" in my head. Days later I was bemusedly wondering why this sucker wasn't done yet. Crap, I need a lining....sew, sew, sew.  Belt carriers...where's the stupid quick turn? Wait I have to sew 12 buttonholes? Burn a sacrifice to the sewing goddess!!

The sewing goddess must have been pleased because only 2 buttonholes had to be ripped out and resewn. Then she reminded me that there were two packs of self covered buttons in the stash.  Sweet! Froggie approves the self covered button.  One more pack of buttons had to be purchased to complete the skirt. Other than that all the materials were in the stash, including thread/interfacing/needles and such.  I like to think of this as a 4 dollar skirt and giggle like I'm clever.

Pattern
Colette Beignet

Fabrics used
Light weight stretch cotton sateen for shell - purchased from Emmaonesock last year.
Polyester silk like blouse weight for lining - inherited from my grandmother's stash.

Pattern changes/alterations
I sewed a straight size 10 straight out of the envelope. No Fitting Changes at all. I have never typed that sentence and fully expect a catastrophic event to occur.  Watch out for raining frogs unless they look slightly furry and prepared to hem clothing.

Confessions/Advice
- I did move the buttons away from CF about 1/2" more than the suggested placement.
- Was going to skip the lining but decided with all the facings it was a better idea to have one to keep everything in place.

Husband Comment
"I like it. It's the color of the Florida Marlins uniforms.....well until they changed them."

My Final Thoughts
Confession - Wasn't sure that I'd like this pattern on me until it was completely done. When I put it on the first thought that popped into my head was that I needed to make another.  The second thought was, "Sure thing, but not back to back. Go sew a quick project first."  Ahhh good advice. I'm still 100% sure there's a denim version in my future. Won't that look cute with fall tights and boots? In the meantime I'm going to wear the crap of out this one with my Nettie bodysuits. Just give me a hand when I fall over next to you in these wedges.  Maybe I should invest in a pimp cane.

8.11.2014

Pattern Mix and Match - The Penny Skater

How many of you guys are addicted to ModCloth like I am? That site is like crack and I'm lurking there at noon every day for my new hit.  "Inspiration, give me inspiration....and shoes."  Good thing for my wallet that I pin all the dresses to my board and only occasionally buy shoes. Occasionally I swear!

Last summer I pinned this dress.  Not too exciting, but I liked that it was made in a knit fabric and the use of stripes. Thumbs up for stripes!
I never got around to converting some random woven princess line bodice before warm weather ended.  As luck would have it Amanda drafted up her own princess line dress, the Penny Pinafore, during the winter. Hooray, now mocking up this dress would be as easy as pie.
As you can see my version doesn't bother mimicking the neckline and sleeves of the source dress. Instead I embraced the casualness of neck/sleeve bands and made no changes to those areas.  Part of this was laziness, but I also think the dark bands provide a resting place for the eyes after starting at all those stripes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I didn't have any stashed striped fabric with enough yardage, so I bought some Lillestoff blue/white striped jersey from my twitter pal Melanie. Her Etsy store is here if you're interested and she does still have this fabric in stock. It's virtually impossible to stripe match across the princess line seams so we're calling it a "design element." Otherwise you wouldn't know the seam lines were there....yeah that's it. (My lobster Fredrick agrees.)
The Penny bodice is then paired with the Lady Skater skirt.  I put a seam allowance on the CF/CB line so that a pretty chevron effect can be achieved. Now there's some decent strip matching.
The silhouette is pretty much the same as the Lady Skater, but the stripes make it interesting.  And who doesn't want a few striped knit dresses to add to the wardrobe? If you do than here's how..... (Spoiler - its super simple.)

Quick How To
1. The match point notches are a great guide line for turning the Penny Skater into a bodice.  I laid the CF pattern piece against my body to get an estimate on where my waist falls on the dress.  I found it was 2" below the match point line.  I then traced each pattern piece down to 2" below the match point lines and squared off the bottom of the pattern.
 2. The Lady Skater skirt gets a seam allowance added to the CF/CB line. Then you cut the skirt in 4 pieces and seam the CF/CB at a chevron.

3. I sewed the Penny skater bodice together normally, except that top stitching was added to the princess line seams. The Penny bodice and Skater skirt are then attached as directed in the Skater directions.
Add Luxulite Lobster brooch and make kissy faces at it while pretending to be on a boat. OK, that's just me.  Novelty brooches forevera!

8.07.2014

Happy Little Trees Anna

Did I say that I rarely blog sewing repeats?  Ummmm yeah, seems I need to work on a little self examination about my sewing habits. But I can't think of any way to make that funny so let's talk about my third repeat instead, the By Hand London Anna dress. Cue photo where I'm doing something weird with my hands. Kind of amusing though.
The Tiki Goddess maxi version of this pattern is still on my top list of favorites for the summer.  Can't beat a dress that makes you feel gorgeous and allows the wearing of awesome shoes. The only downside to that dress is that I'm a clumsy bumbling fool that is endlessly shutting the skirt into door frames. My son has also witnessed some physical comedy involving maxi skirts and stairs. Is there a "Living with Maxi dresses" class that no one has told me about, or all of you magically coordinated? Coordination was left out of my genetic package, being replaced with "poses to toy frogs for comedy." Only the magical power of the Tiki Goddess has kept the skirt intact up to this point. Bless you Tiki Goddess, I'll pour out a frozen drink in your name.
Not wanting to put the maxi dress in peril so often, it seemed wise to whip up the tea length version of the pattern. Then I could still wear an Anna dress on days where I'd already ricocheted into several door frames. Damn, when did that wall move? You saw it jump at me didn't you Desmond? Child just gives me a look that says, "Mom you might have some issues."

Annnnnyway back to the whole sewing of dresses thing.  I knew what fabric to use for this project because it jumped into my head during one of my sleepless nights spent plotting the sewing queue. The vintage tree print cotton!  This fabric had a stiff hand so it seemed a good choice for a non drapy pattern like Anna.  The print is also delightful and I'd been itching to sew it up.  Something about those petite trees made me think about Bob Ross and painting his "happy little trees" and left me with happy feels
*Quick pause for back story - Growing up my paternal grandparents lived next door to us and were the default sick kid minders. A sick day at grandmas usually involved laying on the couch watching things like "My favorite Martian" and "The Joy of Painting" while grandma made you no less then 5 lunch options. Since I've always been an introverted child who loves eating and old TV, sick days pretty much rocked.*
One could argue that since the trees are blue and gray that they are depressed little trees. I choose to believe that they are just happy little trees that also enjoy my color scheme. High five trees, blue and gray together is one of life's perfect pairings. Let's make a dress together.
Not too much to talk about construction wise.  I'd worked out all my fit issues in the maxi version and didn't notice any new problems. The white background on this fabric was surprisingly opaque, so I didn't even have to mess around with underlining. Hooray! This time I was smarter about the skirt and only took the pieces off the labeled patterns right before serging and then sewing each panel. There were still a few moments of, "Is this the right edge?"  Those almost identical skirt panels will always make you question your sewing aptitude.

It's interesting how the shorter version of the dress has more of an Audrey Hepburn-ish feel to it, rather than the va-voom vibe of the maxi. In the tea length dress I'm just chilling waiting for Gregory Peck to arrive and take me on a tour of all the sites. He's going to tease me by putting his hand down a statue's mouth and screaming, that rascal.  Where as in the maxi version I am all goddessy like and ready to dispense festive cocktail umbrellas to all. I like both versions because some days a girl doesn't have the head space for always thinking about where her maxi skirt is. Ahhh I'm stuck in a door again! Find help! Confiscate their cell phones first. I don't want any pictures.

Last photo is for my husband who liked my legs in the sitting down poses. Ooohhh knees!

8.04.2014

Just a Reminder

Hey everybody, there's just under 2 more weeks to the Summer Sundress Sew-a-long.
Plenty of time to finish up any zipper installation, hems, buttons or what not and get your dress uploaded to the flickr group. Heck I'm pretty sure that some of you can whip out a whole new garment in that time.

Many thanks to everyone who has participated so far.  I've had a blast Oooing and Ahhhing over your makes. But summer's not over yet, so back to your sewing machines. Chop, chop!

7.31.2014

In which I make a dress that is not "me"

I love blogging about sewing plans, but have to admit that my follow through on those plans is pretty poor. "Let's see, I have a nice sewing list here and.....Ooo look something new and shiny!!!" Yup, that's the way it usually goes.  However it seemed to be in bad form to ignore the plans for my own sew-a-long. Cowboy up already Heather and knock off that modcloth dress! OK fine, but it's going to take forever and I'm going to be slightly miffed at the end of it.
Soooo yeah, this dress.....I have a lot of mixed feelings about it.  They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and I think sewing is sometimes like that.  Except its the yellow brick road of franken pattern options. "Circle skirts, and piping and buttons, Oh My!"
I'm 100% sure that some of you are scratching your heads and thinking, "What the hell is wrong with this dress? Heather you are cray, cray." Super cray cray I know, because on the hanger this dress looks cute to me too. The color, the little white details and the skirt, all of it is a win. Sitting here now I can picture several people rocking this dress, but I don't really like it on me. It's a little "too cute."
It took the Pinup girl website to make me realize what I should have done. Gored skirt and ruched detail at the bust. Argh so close! Personal style can be a tricky beast some times. Especially when you think you like what you don't actually like.  What is up with that brain?
While I went a little too far out of my personal style zone, this dress might be your cup of tea. Here are all the deets if you'd like to make one of your own.

Bodice - Cambie hacked into a princess line bodice. See below for the tutorial on how to do that. My bodice is fully lined with some Siri lining.
Skirt - Full Skirt option from Butterick 6019.  It's pretty much a standard half circle skirt so you could also draft your own. I had to take just a hair (1/4") off the side seams of the skirt to get it to fit to the bodice. Butterick 6019 does not come with pockets, but it was easy to insert some standard pocket bags into the side seams. I borrowed the pockets from Simplicty 2444 to do this.
Store bought piping was added to the neckline and the waist seam.  I bought a piping foot for this project and  found it resulted in superior results.  I couldn't get close enough to the piping with my regular zipper foot and the piping seam was showing on the outside of the garment. Attached piping foot and the problem was immediately solved.
To wrap this up let me show you how to convert the Cambie bodice into princess seams. This is very basic pattern drafting stuff, so I apologize if it seems like a no brainer.  I wondered a bit if this technique was worth a tutorial at all. In the end I decided yes because a sweet heart princess line bodice is the perfect starting point for so many other hacks.  For instance this tiki number, or this polka dot modcloth design. Eh see, good stuff. So let's get to it....

Tutorial - Changing darts to princess line seams on the Cambie Bodice
1. Starting with the front bodice, find the center of the dart intake and mark.


2. Draw a line from that mark, through the dart point and up to the neckline of the bodice.

3. At this point you might want to tweak the sweet heart seam line to a slightly rounder shape since a seam line will be going through it.

4. Once any neckline changes are complete, cut the pattern apart along one dart leg, then along the newly drawn line.

5. Next cut off the rest of the dart intake.

6. Go in and smooth out the "points" left by the top of the dart. You want the new seam line to be nice and smooth.


7. Time to convert the darts on the back, but first we need to cut down the pattern piece.  Using the top of the side seam as a guide, square a line across the back.

8. Cut the back pattern along this line and discard the top half.

9. Now we'll do the same steps on the back that we did on the front.  First mark the middle of the dart intake.

10. Draw a line through the intake mark, dart point and up to the top of the pattern piece.

11. Cut the pattern apart along one dart leg, then along the newly drawn line.

12. Next cut off the rest of the dart intake.

13. Smooth off any points left by the tops of the darts. On the back this might not be noticeable because the dart is a smaller size.

14. Now that the shaping of the seam lines is complete, you need to go back and add seam allowance to the new seam lines. Once SA is added the bodice is ready to sew.


*Bonus step - You can put any kind of strap on the bodice, but if you like mine the dimensions are 5" x 15.5".

Extra bonus step - Put on dress. Parade around local public areas and have the local residents come out of their houses to stare at you.  Don't mind me, just being awkward. Carry on with your lawn mowing sir.