PR Hacks - Split Cowl Dress


I know what some of you are thinking. "I say Heather, that dress looks verrrry familiar."  You're right!  I was a sneaky knock off artist this month. Muhaa haa!
It probably won't surprise you to find out that stuff designed for slim 20 older old's doesn't fit me right. There's a lot of things I can let slide, but bad fitting garments isn't one of them. Therefore I had to take matters into my own hands and draft my own version of this dress.  Of course I documented it all to share with you.
Using the PR Winter Street dress as a base pattern, I'll be showing you how to alter the bodice to add a waist inset and change the skirt shape. After that we'll do a little free hand drafting to created the cool color and the waist tabs.  Pop on over to the PR blog to get the details.

Bonus Husband Comment - "Heyyyyy First Lady!  You can wear that when I get inaugurated."

40's Casual Style


This summer my Sister-in-law gave us the option to join her family on a cabin camping trip up in Rickett's Glen. They usually do some sort of camping trip during summer vacation and had plenty of extra room in their cabin for the three of us. Steve and I though Des would enjoy running around the woods and cooking with fire so we accepted.  Which meant it was time for every seamstress's favorite activity.... planning some trip sewing!

Seriously though, as someone who is a "lifetime fancy dresser" the amount of casual clothing I own is 3 pairs of yoga pants and some ratty old Renfrews.  My suitcase was in desperate need of a few items of clothing that could handle a slog through the woods.  Guess I just "had" to buy some new patterns to fill this hole in my wardrobe.  (Let's pretend I wouldn't have bought a new pattern for any type of vacation.)  What I ended up purchasing was the recently mentioned Simplicity 3885.  The bottom half of the pattern worked out a lot better than blouse portion of the pattern.

View 1 is the button up skirt with some nice little patch pockets.  Pockets which happen to be big enough to stow your sunglasses when the hiking trail turns out to be deeply shaded.

Then maybe it gets hot or you want to go play tennis with the girls....assuming you are far more coordinated than I. Unbutton the skirt layer to reveal.....

View 2 Flirty Shorts! Here I am doing "Vanna hands" to show off the pocket welts of the nonexistent pockets.
The plan was to have pockets, but the residual post baby fat shelf caused some major gapping issues. In a perfect world I should have muslined with pockets and figured out how to adjust for that. Instead this was deadline sewing and some corners were cut.

Pocket issue aside, these were very easy to fit to my lower body.  Mostly thanks to 40's styles being really loose around the lower derriere area.  Not having to worry about under butt wrinkles is a giant relief.

Simplicity 3885, Shorts and Skirt.

Fabrics used
Light weight stretch denim from

Pattern changes/alterations
1.  Graded up the bottom pieces one size.

2. Raised CB of shorts 3/8".

3. Removed side seam pockets from the shorts.

4. Took in CB of skirt 1/2".

6. Let out side seams of skirt 3/8".

- I didn't muslin the skirt portion figuring how much fitting does a button up A-line skirt need?  Ummmm plenty if your me. Ended up having to take in or let out most of the seams and I'm still not happy with the waistband fit. You'd think I'd learn by now that muslins are not optional for me.

Husband Comment
"Hey pretty lady, I like your grandma shorts."

My Final Thoughts
Both garments served me well on the camping trip. I ended up wearing yoga pants for the long hike and used these garments for short walks and trips to the lake.  It got me thinking that adding a few more causal garment projects to the sewing list would be a good idea.   Occasionally....only occasionally a dress isn't appropriate for having fun with your kid.

Speaking of him, let's just say he had a blast.

Striking Out this Summer


Blog posting has been reaaaaaly sporadic this summer, I'm sure you've noticed. Part of it was the normal aversion to standing next to an iron while it's 95 degrees outside.  Mmmm heat exhaustion. However most of it was loss of sewing mojo due to STRESS!!!

I've been a stay at home mom or mom to be for 7 years now.  My husband was on board with this plan with the caveat that I would need to return to work when our child started going to school full time. Mostly because being a one income family was something we could not sustain indefinitely.  So I went into the the summer knowing that I'd have to start hunting for jobs. Ugh. Let me tell you the dread of starting a job hunt and the depression of being the middle of one are equally draining to your creativity. It almost makes me long for the days of learning a trade... or bartering. Can you pay your mortgage in cookies? What if I threw in a chocolate cake?

Anyway we've got that stress and the normal stress about how your kid is doing in school. Desmond just made the cut off for entering kindergarten last year and I think being the youngest kid in the class is sometimes hard.  I also worry about him socializing with other kids because he's a lot like me and I was HORRIBLE at that. (I sat alone during recess for the entire 5 years of elementary school. My mother was very relieved when I went to middle school where there was no more recess.) I keep wishing there was another kooky kid who's crazy about dinosaurs so they could be best friends. They might successfully make a dinosaur hybrid that would eat us all, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

So yeah, adulting is hard when you're not eating chocolate bars at 10 in the morning. Fortunately I did have a chocolate bar today so we can talk about the other source of my lost sewing mojo...... a string of muslins that didn't make the cut.

As someone who's been sewing for a long time I know that not every pattern is gonna be a winner on my body. But it still sucks when you have back to back projects that don't pan out.  I started to wonder if I really was any good at sewing.  Has this whole blog just been a lie?! Maybe the frog does sew all the garments after all.  On to a parade of badly lit muslins, I know you can barely contain your excitement.

First up the top half of Simplicity 3885.

OK, this doesn't look too bad from the photos.  What you can't see is that it's super tight around the neck. So tight that I couldn't button it closed like the causal lady in the sunglasses. This one is in my bust size so my own grading isn't at fault....that problem will come later.  I also found some of the construction on this pattern to be annoying which colored my impressions. The neckline issue could be fixed but frankly I liked McCall's 4265 a whole lot more and it didn't seem worth it. Bye Bye blouse, into the bin of failure you go.

Second victim, suit jacket from Hollywood 769.

This was the first size 34 bust that I graded up and my math was WRONG! This baby is about 1 size too small in everything but the length.  I've pinned that scant 1/2" overlap to give myself that pregnant look all the girls are going for these days. Sexy.  The style gets a thumbs up, but have I felt like regrading 9 pattern pieces for the second time? Nope!  This one goes in the bin of shame until the pattern grading frenzy seizes me.

Last questionable muslin of the summer, Advance 4227.
This time I was able to do basic math correctly and properly grade up the pattern.  The skirt portion gets a thumbs up, but the bodice was drafted for someone much much much bustier.
Honestly I could smuggle a pair of cantaloupes in my bra and still have extra ease. Since I'm not into shoplifting this bodice needs some serious adjustment.  Adjustment that I do not have the head space for at this time. Into the bin it goes until next summer or some perfect fabric talks me into giving it another go.

So that was my summer with the exception of one successful project that I've yet to take photos of. Hopefully I can get off my butt and do that soon before blogging summer projects seems ludicrous. Until then I hope your sewing projects are being a lot more agreeable than mine. :)
Proudly designed by Mlekoshi pixel perfect web designs