Keeping it cool in Culottes


Confession - sometimes I have trouble finishing things. There might not even be anything wrong with the garment, I just get the itch for something new and shiny. Always with the shiny.......Squirrel!   

Such was the lot of these lovey Tania culottes that languished around on my ironing board for 2 months only needing a hem. 
I really need to get a gaggle of sewing elves to do my hems for me.  Do you think they'd do zippers too?  I'd rather spend all that hemming time doing more fun things like cutting out fabric. (No that is not a joke and yes I am available for hire. Hee hee)
To show these culottes that I really do love them they got a coordinating Lady Skater Tee.  I threatened to make this hack after my first Lady Skater dress and finally did it.  It couldn't be easier just trace off the bodice and extended the side seams to about 16.5" long.  If your hippy like me give the side seams a slight curve out over the hips.
Use the coverstitch machine/sewing machine to give it a 1" hem and Bazinga done!

And now for our regularly scheduled pattern review.
Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes  I caught culotte fever, or maybe I started it.....let's just blame the internet.
Fabrics used
Milly silk twill from Gorgeous Fabrics last year.   I love you Milly, give me all your silk and no one gets hurt.  Otherwise I'm finding your sample room and stealing some bolts.
I bought this fabric knowing it had a cream background and also knowing I look horrible in cream. Butterfly silk will make you do crazy things people.  (I know Katie is thinking, I would have bought it too.) Anywho when I saw Megan's culottes pattern it seemed like the perfect solution to the whole cream near your face problem.  Just don't put it near your face....Duh.

Pattern changes/alterations
The XL size didn't need too many alterations thanks to the inherent looseness of culottes.
1. Took in the waistband 1/2" at side seams.
2. Scooped back crotch 1".
3. Added 4" of additional length.

1. I would have liked to make these a little longer but 4" extra inches was all I could squeeze out of my 2 yards of silk. 

2. When I made these up the center part of the culotte arc stretched more since it was on the bias.  I'm pretty sure the fabric being a twill was part of the problem. Anyway I had a really wavy hem that looked like this.
I let it hang for a few days to set the bias. Then measured the side seams and CF/CB to see how long they were.  Next  that length was painstakingly marked across each culotte crescent and cut it down with the rotary cutter.  I might have needed a stiff drink and a pep talk before doing this, "Sewing goddess be kind and don't let my rotary cutter do astray." She was kind, bless you sewing goddess.....have my silk scrapes. What, you want yardage?! Over my dead body.

Husband Comment
"A garment for women who don't like wearing skirts but want to look like they're wearing one."  Did he just google "Culottes"?  I mean thanks honey!!!

My Final Thoughts
If you don't let them sit around waiting for a hem for months these go together pretty quick. As others have said the CF/CB pleats are a cool design feature.
If you do have a lot of junk in the trunk, like I do, be prepared to be some what horrified at the volume of fabric cascading off your giant ass. It's like a train wreak you can't look away from. But a longish tee will tamp that down just fine. Then you can wear your short skirt/long shorts with abandon.  Swish them around cause it's fun, swish swish.



Are you in the  mood to sew a lovely vintage inspired dress? If so you might like to know that Abby of Blue Ginger Doll is hosting a sew-a-long of the Billie Jean pattern.  I'm joining cause my hankering for the straight skirt version has not gone away since making my first.  My stash busting pledge has been neglected lately so I'm gonna use this lovely stashed silk shantung for version 2.

Speaking of second versions I finished up another Lady Skater weeks ago and never blogged it
The deets!
- Polyester ITY from Steve's Sewing in King of Prussia.
- Lengthened skirt 5.5".
- Used knit stay tape to stabilize the shoulders and waist seams instead of clear elastic.  That worked a lot better in the waist seam which got all wavy with the clear elastic.

Two other tips...
- Polyester ITY won't hold a crease so pin the neck and arm bands in half and slowly overlock them onto the dress.
-If you have a very large print it's always good to get extra yardage so that you have room to play with pattern placement.  I could have gotten this dress out of 2.5 yards of this 60" knit but bought 3 instead.  With the extra yardage I'm pleased with where the flowers fall...with the exception "butt flower."  I can live with that because turn the dress around you can see how horribly wrong it could have gone :)

Summer of Dresses - Simplicity 2443 The Tree Dress


Early last week my in-laws called and invited us to an outing at the Morris Arboretum. You know what you need for an arboretum trip? Yes a Tree Dress! I sewed one up real quick with some stuff that's been laying around in the stash.
 My husband's a little rusty with non toddler photo work so it's a bit hit and miss here.  I told him that I was going to send him to photography school........ he was not amused.

Simplicity 2443, I tend to like all the Cynthia Rowley patterns and buy them during the dollar sales even if I don't know if they'll ever get made.  Did I buy this one for the dress or the jacket?  Who knows, maybe it was purchased to stare at those shoes.  What dainty ankles you have vaguely grumpy model! *Whispers behind hand* You can totally tell she hates that jacket.
Fabrics used
Tree print rayon/lycra jersey from Marcy Tilton and black jersey mystery remnant.
Pattern changes/alterations
I found this pattern to run big and had to take in the bodice just about everywhere.
1. Took in shoulder seams 3/4".
2. Took in side seams 3/4".
3. Cut 2" off the bodice length.
4. Wanted the entire tree repeat in the skirt so 6" of length was added.
5. Instead of constructing the skirt with two rectangles I used the entire width of the fabric and seamed it in the back.  Since I had no side seams the pockets were left off.

1. Either the instructions for this pattern were copied and pasted from something else or the pattern writer was high on crack.  Half of the steps would make sense if you were making a woven dress but are ridiculous for a knit dress, WHICH IS WHAT THE PATTERN ENVELOPE SAYS TO USE!  Stay stitch the bodice pieces so it doesn't stretch?  It's a knit, what the hell are you talking about?  Put a side seam zipper in the dress?  Ummm you know this is a knit right and you can pull that over your head?

2. The straps are a complete bitch to put on and my tiny brain couldn't come up with an alternative way.  The instructions have you stitch the neckline and armholes together, then turn the pieces right side out and stitch the shoulder seams together.  This results in a bulky shoulder seam but you can't turn the straps right side out if you do it another way.
3. The curves on the straps and the bodice did not match up for me. The black jersey and the tree knit stretched a different amount which could have been part of the problem. I trimmed down the bodice to make the curves fit and it looks fine.

4. Because of the giant print repeat I had to get a little creative with the cutting. There was only one complete repeat of the trees in the two yards of fabric, so I decided just to make the skirt one piece.

Husband Comment
He LOVES this dress and told me so enough times that I've forgotten exactly what he said.  I just remember him shouting, "Why did you take that dress off!" when I was showering at the end of the day. Would showering in your dress count as doing laundry?

My Final Thoughts
I'm a bit ambivalent about this FO.  While I'm pleased to have found a use for this fabric the dress seems vaguely maternity to me. The length is a little weird but I really don't want to cut down the tree print and there isn't enough of the black contrast to make a hem band. If I could go back in time I'd make the skirt maxi length instead.  At least my man likes so it's not a totally wash.
And on that note I leave you with this idyllic family portrait right before the giant ant apocalypse.
Just biding my time until I eat their puny human brains.

Summer of Dresses - Simplicity 1803


Hello all, it's hotter than Hades along the parade route so I've called in some favors and gotten you all handsome gentlemen to fan you while you lounge.  Best dress parade ever, am I right? I've told the boys to keep your drinks filled and to get you popsicles if you need them.  Now that you're all liquored up let's see the next dress in the parade.

It's fun, it's girly...
And the back makes me swoon.
Simplicity 1803 View C.  In contrast to 2444 envelope, I LOVE both of these sample garments.  In fact I might barter my first born for some of that lemon/strawberry/flower print. If you love the hot pink eyelet I happen to know that B&J fabrics carries it. (Oh and they have more of the cobalt blue eyelet that my Colette Peony was made out of, so pop on that.)

Fabrics used
Silk/Cotton Voile from Gertie's etsy shop lined with light weight Siri lining also from Gertie. Turns out silk/cotton voile is as soft as kittens! Seriously I wanted to just rub it all over my face as soon as I got my hands on it.  Due to it's semi-sheerness it needed an underlining, so I got some of the siri lining in both white and black.  A  few samples showed that the white color made the pink and yellow roses pop more so the black got put away for another day. 
Pattern changes/alterations
1. Shortened the bodice by 3/8".
2. Increased intake of back bodice dart to 2 1/4".
3. Added 1/4" extra width to the back armhole.
4. These sleeves had the same problem as New Look 6097 where they seemed to have too much excess fabric under the arm.  I made a similar last minute fix by taking a 1/2" wedge out of the sleeve seam. You can see from this side view that they still puff out in the back a tad.
 5. I originally put the pockets in this dress, but there were made out of only the white lining and were highly visible when they gaped open.  Decided to just take them out and sew up the seams.

1. The voile did shift some when I cut it on a self healing mat. Lucky I could true it up on the underlining and it didn't cause me any sewing problems.  However I would cut silk/cotton voile in a tissue paper sandwich next time.
2. After sewing on the facing on the bodice the edges on V notch flopped forward.  This might have happened because the voile does not have much body or because you need to clip the seam allowances at the base of the V notch.  Anyway it seemed that interfacing on the facing piece was not enough to hold the edges upright. To fix the problem I cut two rectangles out of some medium weight interfacing, then fused them to inside of the bodice right where the top of the V was folding forward.  This gave the voile some extra support helping the V notice to stand up crisply.  As an added bonus all of this is hidden by the bodice facing.
3. Underlining this whole dress was a pain in the ass, but it did let me secure the facings and hems invisibly. Because I could the whole front facing was tacked to the underlining. No facings flipping out this time!
4. This was my first time using siri lining and I was quite pleased with it. After washing the hand is very soft and it does breath beautfully in the garment.  I've been wearing this dress during the heat wave and the polyester content didn't give me any trouble.

Husband Comment
"I like your skirt, it's fluffy." (Frankly this surprised me. I guess Mr. B is still a man of mystery.)

My Final Thoughts
I've enjoyed wearing this dress so much that I'm considering making another with the view B bodice. It's easy, breezy, Project Runway Girl?  Yes that's it. 
P.S. They'd totally kick me off the runway with this last pose.

The Buzz About Sewcial Bee


I think most of you know about the "Super Online Sewing Bee" that Sew Mama Sew is hosting right now. It sparked a flurry of discussion among my sewing tweeps about sewing challenges.  Then Gillian, who is always coming up with great ideas, suggested we do a little informal sewing bee.  Leila and Gillian started hammering out rules, a flicker group was created and we nominated/roped Gillian's sister Annie into coming up with the first challenge for us.
Here are the basics which I'm coping straight from Annie.
  1. This post goes live at 3 PM on Sunday, July 14, 2013, at 3 PM EST/8 PM GMT. Participants get 24 hours from that time to design/draft/sew their garments — but really, the idea is that they should at least attempt to limit themselves to about 4 hours of sewing time.
    The 24-hour window is so that people in any time zone can participate. Having it over a Sunday night/Monday morning means that both weekend and weekday sewers can take part.
  2. TNT patterns (tried ‘n’ tested) are totally welcome, and, in fact, encouraged. Riffing on a staple design is important if they’re going to manage much in that 4-hour sewing time!
  3. There’s no judging, and (at this point) no prizes, other than the glorious satisfaction of a challenge well mastered.
  4. At the end of the 24 hours, participants are to submit photos of themselves wearing their completed garments (or incomplete, for that matter) to the group Flickr pool. (Questions and chatter will take place in the group forums, at the same link.)
  5. It’s an open event: anyone is welcome to join in!
Sunday afternoon Annie posted the first challenge which was to made a top that coordinated with a triangular scarf.
Since I have no concept of my actual sewing time my first idea was to whip out another Archer.  Hey I've made 3 so whipping one out in 24 hours is totally doable right?  Well about 9pm Sunday night I realized that was crazy talk and I should get out some sort of knit top so that there was a completed garment to show Monday afternoon. Enter the Sloppy Josephine Tee pattern that I'd made up back in May. That seemed like a 4 hour project and I had a long stashed knit that was perfect for it.
Fourish nonconsecutive hours later here it is with a Scalene scarf I knit a few years ago.
In May I promised you all a review and never did it. So without out further ado let's get to it.

Sloppy Josephine Tee from Paper Cut patterns.  It's a lot of money for what is a basic raglan tee but I though about it obsessively for months.  It comes with neat packaging on a brown paper stock that is thicker than your average tissue paper.

Fabrics used
Knit burnout from the deeper part of the stash, maybe 3/4 years old. It was originally from Tessuti Fabric who's fabrics I miss buying. Here's a mid process pic showing the taupey bits are burnt out.

Pattern changes/alterations
1. My version is a total mongrel of sizes. The neckline and raglan sleeves are size small.  The hemline is a size large and the bottom of the sleeves are a size medium.

2. I lengthened the sleeved to a 3/4 one.  Since the sleeve hem was already snug I slashed and spread the pattern to add 5" of length.

3. I took 2" off the length of the shirt and added a fold over Renfrew like hem band that was 2.5" finished.  I really like the hem band on my feather print version but am tempted to take it off on this one.  Gonna wait until later for the final decision since I like my shirts longer when wearing pants.

1. As usual I didn't read directions and just went on a maverick sewing journey, there isn't much to mess up other than the neckband.  I originally put it in like you do on a renfrew, fold in half and serge. This mostly works except for the CF will gape out a bit.  If you insert is like the directions say, sew one edge/fold over/topstitch, then it lays nice an flat.

2. Make sure you mark the neck band and neckline into quarters and pin before trying to serge it on.  Otherwise it is a complete pain in the ass to do.

3.  There is a lot of ease in this pattern and even with a small sized neckband this top wants to fall off your shoulders.  I don't mind having a Flashdance-esque top in my wardrobe but you may not.

Husband Comment
"Hey that's a nice shirt, you need more cut that low."

My Final Thoughts
I'm very pleased with this pattern.  It makes a trendy top that would be easy to layer in the spring/fall weather.  I need to make some faux leather jackets for just that purpose.
I had a super fun time doing this sewical bee challenge, also check out the other projects in the flickr group. We'll be doing this again and I'll be sure to give you a heads up before hand if you feel like joining in.

Summer of Dresses - New Look 6097 for Reals


Hello all, I'm gonna bore you with another solid dress but hey you get to look at bird sandals again. Taaaaa Daaaaa, it's New Look 6097 as the designer intended.
Despite all the fun playing mad scientist with this pattern, I still wanted a straight skirt with pockets version.  Now I had my doubts about a knit straight skirt and the lower parts of my body intersecting.   It's a lumpy disaster waiting to happen. To negate some of the "craters on the surface of the moon" look I went with a nice stashed dark navy knit. Also helpful was that it wasn't jersey like I thought, but a thinner double knit.  The extra body to the fabric helps skim over some of my problem areas, but a purchase of SPANXS might not be a bad idea.

I call this shot, "Pockets make you smug."
I'm smug cause I got my frog pal in there.
Frog approves of these pockets. He would approve more if there was a candy bar in the other pocket. He might get hungry and need a snack.

New Look 6097.  This is a classic case of  "Hate that fabric and don't much care for that version of the pattern."  I also can't look away from the hat that makes no sense with this outfit.  She has buff colored shoes on, why would you pair a black hat with it? New Look stylist, I have so many questions!  However kudos to the drawing next to her that is actually a good representation of the pattern. I'll ignore that the stand appears to be rotating independently from the rest of the dress form. (Don't think about the physics of that or you'll have a mini stroke.)

Fabrics used
Double knit Rayon/lycra with some silk maybe?  This is EOS deep stash so I've long forgotten what Linda carefully marked it as.  I'm 100% sure that it there was some sort of classy fiber in with the rayon and due to the shine I'm gonna say silk.  I probably should take better records.....or buy less fabric....or just continue to make shit up.  I'm pretty sure we all know what option I'm going with.

Pattern changes/alterations 
I started with a size 16/18 combo.
1. Shortened the bodice 2".  Tutorial here for future reference
2. Took in the sleeves 1/2" at the seam.
3. Took in the back bodice 3/8" at the CB seam for a total 3/4" reduction of length to the back waist seam.
4. Took 3/8" off the back skirt waist seam to make it match the bodice.
5. Added 4" of length to the skirt.  I probably chopped off an inch of that when doing the hem so it's a little shorter than cut.
6. Left off the neck facings.
7. Used the coverstitch machine to finish the neckline, sleeve, and hem.  I also used it to stitch along the pocket edges.
8. Took in the waist 3/8" at the side seams after the dress was constructed. There was a little more ease with this fabric than in the green dress. Some of that is due to the navy knit being thicker and therefore pulling the dress down and away from the body. It may have more horizontal stretch too, but I didn't do any scientific test. Someone needs to blind me with some Science...just not literally.

1. I tried to tissue fit the skirt which I should never ever do.  If there is a tissue fitting school I would flunk out of it and have to spend my time turning tricks to earn fabric money.  Tissue fitting made me think the skirt was way too small and I added an 1" to both the front and back side seam.  Then when I sewed the dress together and it was 4" too big.  Good work Heather, way to pattern fit.   So I had to take off all the extra width that was added and then skirt fit just fine.

2. I did try putting in the neckline facing and it turned into the Rosemary's baby of facings.   It made the neckline uncomfortably tight and it would not stop flipping out of the garment. So don't nurture that devil baby facing, put it in the garbage where it belongs. It will hiss at you a little bit but just walk away.

3. This time I did stabilize the neck area with some super nice knit fusible tape I got from Sunni.  First time I've used this and it worked very well. Up with fusible knit tape, down with facings!!!!

Husband Comment
"Feels like it would be soft to wear and comfortable.  Feels like you're wearing nothing at all...nothing at all....nothing at all. Stupid Sexy Flanders."  (I added stupid sexy Flanders because that quote makes me laugh.)

My Final Thoughts
Wore this dress on Tuesday and it was the highlight of my day.  My own offspring was channeling some serious Hell Baby vibes that day so I was super happy to have a comfy outfit on.  The fabric feels very soft and kind of drapes around you when you move.  I also dropped a whole lot of food on myself and the navy color hid it all. Basically I was a mess that day but my dress disguised it from the world.  High five dress, you get MVP of the week.

Summer of Dresses - New Look 6097/Lady Skater Mash-up


Hey parade goers, are you ready for a little ditty?
She did the mash, she did the pattern mash, (the pattern mash).  It was a cutting room smash (she did the mash) It was over in a flash (she did the mash) She did the pattern mash.  Waaaaa Ooooooo.....
Now that I've evilly infected you all with an ear worm let's take a look a the next dress in our parade. 
I threw New Look 6097 and the Lady Skater patterns in a dark drawer, left them unattended, and they made me a pretty baby! 
This was just supposed to be a muslin for the New Look bodice, but then I put the Lady Skater skirt on it just for kicks. The fabric is a super cheap rayon/polyester/lycra jersey, the kind that starts piling almost immediately.  Despite that I find myself reaching for this dress again and again. 
The bodice is constructed according to the New Look directions except that I did away with the neckline facing. Instead the seam allowance was folded under and stitched down with the coverstitch machine The sleeve and skirt hems were finished the same way.  A twin needle would also do the job if you are without a coverstitch machine. If this bodice wasn't supposed to be only a muslin I would have stabilized the neckline with some fusible web.  Lucky for me it doesn't seem to be stretching out of shape.
I only had to take in my bodice side seams 1/4" to get the Lady Skater skirt to fit.  This might vary with different sizes so measure your waist seams and make a suitable adjustment.

The New Look bodice did need a major length adjustment for my short waisted self.  New Look did not provide any shorten/lengthen lines which seems like a major oversight for this type of design.  You don't want to just chop off the pleats at the bottom!  Fortunately my latent pattern drafting brain cells kicked and reminded me how to do it.  I even took pics so everyone gets a How-to.

How to Shorten a Wrap bodice
Step 1
Draw a line perpendicular to the grain line on the upper part of the bodice.  You want it to be above the pleats.  New Look 6097 side seam notch was in a perfect place for this guide line.
Step 2
Mark the amount of length you need to remove by drawing a second guide line parallel to the first guide line.  I needed to remove 2" so the guide lines were 2" apart. You can draw the second line either above or below the first.  Mine is drawn in above.
Step 3
Fold the pattern so the guide line 1 meets guide line 2. Tape the fold down. Now your bodice is shorter but we have a jagged looking neckline.
Step 4
Tape some paper behind the fold in the neckline area. Using a french curve or a hip curve eyeball a new curve for the neckline.  Whatever looks aesthetically pleasing to you is correct.  Some parts of pattern drafting are precise and some are just winging it.  This is a winging it moment. I decided to take away paper on the lower part of the pattern.  My bust sits low so I need less fabric in that location.
Step 5
Cut off the extra paper and then repeat these steps for the other side of the bodice.  Since the back has no pleats I took the easy route and just cut 2" off the bottom. Easy peasy.
If you needed to lengthen a wrap bodice the steps would be almost the same.  Instead of folding the pattern you would slash and spread it to the new length. Tape in some paper and then continue on with Step 4.

One last tweak to the bodice was to take in the bottoms of the sleeves. I overlocked the underarm part of the sleeve so that it was flush with the side seam.  This took care of the bottoms of the sleeve flopping around in an odd manner.  I think the armhole is a little bigger than it needs to be, but this is an easy fix for a RTW look.
It's not as exciting as my last dress but I can wear my new awesome sandals with it.  Tweet Tweet. (You can get some from Modcloth if you're so inclined)
They make me want to do this...
Wheeeeeeeee! Birds!
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