Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More Sleeves!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Dress, Some Curtains and a Birthday Eggstravangza

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Bunch of Knits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Two Shirt Dresses

Both of these shirt dresses were made a long time ago. Approximately six months or so ago in the summer.  These were the last two big projects I was working on before I got really sick with all my gall bladder nonsense in August.  I finished the multi-colored one back in July and hung it up in the closet.  It's never been worn.  The black and white shirt dress was finally finished a couple of weeks ago after sewing on and ripping off three different sets of sleeves/sleeve bindings.  I would have given up on it except I really loved the fabric.  And I did a pretty darn good job on that collar, if I do say so myself ;)  I also had already sewn a really nice, deep 3 inch hem.

The black and white shirt dress is McCalls 7314.  It is a pretty standard shirtwaist dress except it has a curved, raised waist seam.  The pattern calls for elastic in the back of the waist seam.  I did initially add the elastic but it made the dress look extremely maternity like.  In fact, this dress would be a really awesome maternity dress pattern.  I tried adding the elastic around the whole waist seam as well, but didn't like that either.  So I left the elastic off and was kind of digging the loose, Japanese sort of vibe I was getting.

I originally made this dress sleeveless.  But after finishing it, I couldn't get the idea of a long sleeved shirt dress to wear with tights and boots out of my head.  So I ripped out the sleeve bindings and added the long sleeves from the pattern.  I did not like them.  If I remember correctly, I then shortened the sleeves to be 3/4 length but didn't widen the cuff.  So I ended up with a really tight and uncomfortable shorter sleeve.  Then it sat on my dress form for a few months.  A few weeks ago, I ripped out the second set of sleeves and added the big, blouse-y sleeves from McCalls 7242. I had just worn my maxi shirt dress (which I am loving now, by the way) and thought the sleeves would be perfect.  I didn't do any measuring or anything to make sure it would work.  It was just a last ditch effort to try and save the dress.  So the armscye fit on this dress is pretty crappy.  Not only is the armscye all stretched out from ripping things out, but that sleeve head was not made to fit in to that armscye.  I made it work (hopefully?), but just barely.  Luckily the dress has so much ease that I didn't need a close fitting armscye anyway.  I also have lost a little under twenty pounds from when I originally made this dress.  It was already loose to begin with but is maybe even a little more so now. 

I don't love the end result, but I do like it.  I feel like it's a good teacher dress.  The fabric is fantastic.  It's a rayon poplin I bought from fabric.com.  It has the drape of rayon challis but has a tighter weave, so it seems more durable and is less see-through.  The crazy multi-colored fabric in my second shirt dress is also rayon poplin.  I bought several yards of some different prints at the same time.

The second shirt dress I made back in July is McCalls 7387.  I really liked this dress when I first made it but after putting it on for pictures now, I'm not so sure.  It's a funky pattern, which I like.  It is a very boxy shirt dress with a big pleat in the back and no waist shaping at all.  It has a covered button placket as well.  I spent an extremely long time cutting this out to match up stripes.  I also print mixed with some of the black and white spots from the other shirt dress on the placket and sleeve cuffs.  I'm pretty chuffed with my pattern placement.  The fit is off, though.

I did square the shoulder ahead of time.  And I'm not quite sure I did it right on a shoulder/sleeve like this.  I need to read up on it, I guess.  I still have some pulling from shoulder to the first button, which is what I'm trying to show in this awkward photo below.  Also, the covered button placket-- ugh.  I'm glad I did it because it was a good learning experience.  But it was a pain.  I've never done one before.  Not only that, but I couldn't make a button hole high enough on the placket because of where the covered part of the placket begins.  I had to scoot the first button hole down and it's too low.  I actually have it safety pinned in these photos and I'm planning to add a snap there.  I wouldn't do the covered button placket again.  I don't care enough about the look of it and my skills are lacking.

I like the overall shape of the dress and I love the unusual back pleat.  But, the back pleat is heavy and pulls on the back of the yoke.  The hem line is also dipped lower in the back, I'm guessing because of the pleat.  I don't mind it, but it's probably not how it's supposed to look.  I'm seriously thinking about chopping off four or five inches from the hem and turning this in to tunic to wear over leggings or skinny jeans.  I think it has too many fit issues for me to ever wear it comfortably as a dress. We'll see, though.  Maybe I'll let it sit in the magic closet for a little while.

Phew! Glad I blogged these two dresses.  Now onwards and upwards...