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Vogue 1353 | Pleated Poppies Dress

22 Jul

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Hello, again! I am on a roll lately!! I’m back today to share with you my completed Vogue 1353, a great pleated fit-and-flare dress with a full lining by Kay Unger. I was inspired by Margo’s recent review of this pattern (isn’t she gorgeous?!?), and bought it next time Hancock’s had a sale and started sewing almost immediately.

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The pattern is the perfect silhouette for an everyday, ladylike dress. And when you make it up in a washable fabric, it works well in your day job as a pediatrician. Where, yes, sometimes you do get peed on but thankfully not often — happened for the first time in ages this week just not to this dress :)-

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I made this beauty up in a great poppy print stretch cotton sateen from Sawyer Brook Fabrics.

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I lined it with a creamy yellow polyester pongee from Fabric Mart Fabrics that I think I paid $1/yd for… Cotton sateen is a dream to sew with after you’ve been doing nothing but knits and silks. It actually does what you ask it to!

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I started with a straight size 14 then I made a few alterations:

  • 3/4″ FBA
  • lowered bust dart 5/8″
  • lowered bust point of princess seam 5/8″
  • lengthened bodice 1/2″
  • took it in a smidgen in the princess seam above the bust
  • added 1/4″ under the arm at the bust front and back tapering to nothing at the waist
  • 1/2″ forward shoulder adjustment
  • took it in 3/4″ on each side of the zipper tapering to nothing at the waist for a gaping back neckline
  • reduced the width of the pleats because my fabric wasn’t 60″ wide

V1353 Poppies Hanging Detail

I strayed from the instructions only so far as to avoid hand sewing. I lined it completely by machine, including stitching the lining to the invisible zipper by machine with my invisible zip foot. I did hand sew the hook and eye in place as I couldn’t find any way around it. :)

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V1353 Poppies Hem

My favorite part of the dress is the hem with its facing and topstitching. I used the chainstitch function on my Juki MO-735 5-thread serger to create the textured line of stitching instead of the handstitching that is prescribed in the pattern instructions. I stitched with the hem facing up so the “wrong” side of the stitching shows on the outside of the dress, creating a nice, visible line of thread. I love finding new uses for my serger!

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The pattern calls for a purchased belt and here I’ve accessorized it with a cute little aqua leather belt with a silver buckle that I picked up at Gus Mayer department store in Birmingham. I think this is probably the only thing (at $38) that I could ever afford from that store but I do love it! I have also paired the dress with a bead necklace from Kluster Shop and some Franco Sarto strappy heel sandals.

This is my new favorite dress pattern and I think there will be another one soon. Stay tuned!

In-House Patterns | Chelsea Blouse in Blue Georgette

19 Jul

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Here we are again, on the eve of another work week, and I have another productive sewing session to tell you about. I have completed a Vogue 1353 which turned out great and I will share once I get photos. I have also made another Closet Case Files Sallie Jumpsuit trying to perfect the fit. And I made another McCall’s 7121 that just needs a hem. Spoiler alert — no crazy stripe matching in this version.

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But what I am going to share with you today is this sheer, swingy blue blouse made up with the hot-off-the-presses In-House Patterns Chelsea Blouse. It’s no secret that I love Alexandra Morgan’s skills as a designer, pattern drafter, and conveyor of streamlined and industry-style sewing techniques. You can see some of my previous In-House makes here and here (I think there is going to be another Belle Blouse in my future soon). There are others that have never made it onto the blog (my sister loves the Jenny Tee that I made and gifted to her).

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This top is trendy but basic enough that you could make it up in a crazy fabric to wear now or in a nice neutral solid to keep in your wardrobe for many years. The pattern also provides the option for color blocking or mixed media (think lace or chiffon back panel). I love the way the side seams swing forward toward the front as they head down to the hemline. I think this makes the silhouette more slimming. What do you think?

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I chose to make mine up in a royal blue polyester georgette by J. Crew ($3.50/yard), one of a few pieces in a recent Fabric Mart Fabrics acquisition. While this wasn’t the easiest fabric to work with, by taking my time getting the fabric on grain, cutting it out with a rotary cutter, and carefully pinning and stitching, I think I was able to achieve a satisfactory garment.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t my best work ever. My rolled hem foot gave me fits and my neck binding refused to be stitched in the ditch so I had to resort to handstitching it. But the casual observer will never notice these things.

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For sizing I chose a large with D cup and I added 5/8″ width to each shoulder as well as making a 1/2″ forward shoulder adjustment. I chose these adjustments based on the fit of my Blossom Blouse but I feel like the width I added to the shoulders was unnecessary and makes me look even broader than I am. Based on prior experience, In-House Patterns are drafted with very little ease so I don’t try to fudge on choosing my size. But I think in this pattern I could have gone with the medium.

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As far as construction goes, I used French seams for everything, including the armscyes. As mentioned above, the French binding on the neckline was stitched down by hand with a fell stitch.

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The body and sleeves of the blouse are hemmed with the rolled hem foot on your machine. From prior experience, I knew this would be tricky but I forged ahead. I had to adjust my needle position to get the stitching to hit in the right spot. And some places aren’t rolled right but it’s not obvious from the outside. It got a little easier as I went along, though, and the sleeves aren’t too bad.

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The Chelsea Blouse from In-House patterns is another solidly drafted pattern by Alexandra Morgan. I would love to see your version if you decide to sew it up!

McCall’s 7121 | Stripe Matching Victory!

5 Jul

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Happy Sunday, friends! I hope you are all rested and ready for the week ahead. I have taken advantage of this long holiday weekend to catch up on my never-ending list of things I would like to sew. I have made a simple knit sheath dress from some floral print scuba knit, a psychedelic Closet Case Files Sallie Jumpsuit, a Watson bra, started on the Maison Fleur Halterneck Swimsuit, and just finished this cute little dress — McCall’s 7121.

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Hopefully I will get around to sharing those other things with you but if I don’t, at least you know I’m back to sewing! And now that my knit fest is over, I have plans to start on some woven items like a dress and some blouses. I will keep you posted.

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Y’all know I love a good knit dress. Exhibits 1 and 2. And there are more that I haven’t even shown you but that make regular appearances in my wardrobe. So it’s not a surprise that I picked up this pattern when they went on sale for $1 at Hancock’s. But I think I love this one a little more because it has a waist seam and the skirt is a little more A-line. And since the front bodice is not cut on the fold, McCall’s added a little bit of bust shaping there in the front for you.

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And the stripes make it so fun and flattering. Plus, I get to show off my stripe matching skills! What, you thought I was hiding something under the belt? BAM!

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I chose my size based on the finished measurements, not the size chart, and I selected sizes that would yield zero to a little negative ease in the bust and waist. I made my standard adjustments of 1/2″ forward shoulder and 1″ swayback and I also decided to raise the neckline by 1.5″. After I stitched this up, I realized the armholes and back neckline were gaping and the waist was a little low so I pinched up the shoulder by 1.5″ and stitched a new shoulder seam, effectively fixing all three problems. I think using neck and armhole bindings would prevent the gaping but this pattern just calls for turning and stitching.

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Which, of course, I didn’t do! I decided to self-line the bodice for a clean finish at the neck and armscye. I did sew some clear elastic into the neckline and after I raised the shoulder seams, it lies smoothly. Finally, I serged some clear elastic into the waist seam and hemmed with a twin needle.

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Easy peasy for a great wardrobe builder. I think my next version will be hacked into a peplum top with some great black floral scuba knit that is calling to me from my fabric stash…

McCall’s 6706 | Carolina Herrera Skirt

12 Mar

Howdy, friends! I have another completed sewing project for you today! But before you get too excited, this is a project I completed sometime last year (probably Summer 2014), and just never got a chance to get good enough photos to blog.

Luckily, we finally had some pretty weather this past Sunday and there is a cute spot outside our new condo, so I took advantage and enlisted my handsome stepson to play photographer. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until after the photo shoot that there was a large smudge on the lens so you will have to excuse the blur around my feet :)

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This skirt started with the fabric. I found it at Promenade Fine Fabrics in New Orleans, one of my favorite fabric haunts. It was milled for Carolina Herrera and is a silk organza with blue flowers with black outlines embroidered on it. Maybe there’s a better term for the way this fabric is embellished but I don’t know it. The black outline appears to be clipped to have exposed threads, kind of reminds me of velvet, but the blue looks like embroidery. Any info on this type of fabric would be appreciated. The fabric was very pricey ($58/yd) so I knew it had to become something that didn’t require much yardage and that I could make without any errors.

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I decided on McCall’s 6706 (rendered once before in a drapey rayon challis), to create a simple, elegant, pleated knee-length skirt.

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Then I found this photo of the designer herself wearing a very similar skirt in an almost identical fabric. I never could find any garments in the exact fabric.

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I decided to underline the fashion fabric with plain silk organza so I could finish the raw edges like I did in my red Hollyburn skirt and to give it a little more opacity and body.

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I also lined the skirt with a bone colored silk crepe de chine from Promenade. At first I thought I would line it with black, but the neutral silk really made the white of the organza stand out.

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Finally, I decided to use some fabulous, authentic Petersham ribbon for the waistband. This notion also came from Promenade and Herbert says that it is some of the only truly legit Petersham that is still made. I wish you could feel it through the computer — it is so thick and luxurious. Another pricey option ($32/yd), I purchased just enough to go around my waist twice for the waistband and facing.

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Construction was pretty straightforward. As I mentioned above, I underlined the skirt panels with organza then hand basted the pleat lines and lightly pressed the pleats into place then machine basted them across the top.

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For the lining, I basted it to the skirt along the top then treated it and the outer skirt as one piece when applying the waistband. I laid the Petersham ribbon directly on the waist seam line and used my edgestitch foot to stitch just inside the outer border of the ribbon. Then I matched the other piece of ribbon (the waistband facing) up with the top and edgestitched along the top border to connect the two. The I did one final row of stitches to secure the bottom of the facing to the bottom of the waistband. Fortunately, these stitches just melt right into the ribbon and you can’t see them, otherwise I would have been doing a lot of handstitching!

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I finished the lining with a 1/4″ machine hem and the outer skirt is finished with a 1″ hand stitched hem, catching my stitches in the organza underlining.

All in all, I love this skirt even though it was not the cheapest project. It is one of a kind and I feel like it looks like a designer piece. I think I will be able to enjoy wearing it for many years so I don’t mind the little splurge to create it.

What about you, my fair readers, have you ever splurged a little bit on a project? Did you play it safe with a pattern you knew would sew up well or did you do something more daring? I would love to hear in the comments!

I hope to be back soon :)

A Sewing Update

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Lest you all start to worry that I have sold my sewing machine to pay for all my new clothes, I have been slowly getting my Sew-jo back. It was temporarily interrupted by selling our home and moving into a much smaller condo. I don’t really have a dedicated sewing space anymore so that has made me reevaluate my sewing methods. But I will not be deterred and I have been slowly but steadily making my flat pattern adjustments to the new Sewaholic Granville shirt pattern. So far, I have done my full bust, forward shoulder, short waist, swayback, and uneven shoulder adjustments. Now all I have left to do is trace and cut the pattern pieces that didn’t have to be altered and make a muslin. I am feeling a little brazen and may forego the actual muslin and cut into a real fabric for this test run. The flat pattern adjustments are looking pretty good when I hold them up against my body in the mirror — ha!

I have also solved the dilemma about where to put my sewing machine. If you remember in a prior post, I was debating about what small space sewing solution to use to set up my work area. Well, I didn’t go with any of those options because my grandmother reminded me that I was supposed to take her 1960s Kenmore that is built into a cute little wooden cabinet. I picked up the machine a few weeks ago but knew it wasn’t in working order — I don’t remember my grandmother ever really sewing anything although there are rumors of her sewing prom dresses for my mom and aunt. You can guess how out of shape that machine was! I called my friend and trusty sewing machine doctor, Richard Givens, and he came and picked it up.

When I dropped by his shop today, he showed me pictures of all the work he had to do to get her back in serviceable condition — basically a complete overall with the machine torn totally apart. Almost every gear was locked up. But now that he has worked his magic, she is humming a sweet, sweet song, and I can’t wait to sew that Granville on her. Poor little Janome is going to get so jealous when I stash her in the closet for the time being. But she’ll come back out when the new house is finished. Mr. Givens says sewing machines aren’t manufactured like this Kenmore anymore — all precision metal parts, etc. And that if it were to be manufactured today, it would cost over $1000. Luckily the repairs weren’t quite that much but I can understand why many of us today don’t invest in repairing the things we have (as I could have easily bought a decent cheap machine — like my current Janome — for the cost of the repairs). But I would gladly spend it again to be able to sew dresses for myself on the machine that my grandmother and possibly mother once spent hours in front of creating the frocks of their dreams.

photo 1[1] Here’s a picture of Mr. Givens with my little Kenmore. You can start to get a glimpse of all the sewing machines that were laying around everywhere.

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He let me snap some more pictures to show you all the different types of machines he works on. I don’t think there is a machine he couldn’t fix. The button machine does nothing but sew on buttons. And it does it in about 2 seconds. How awesome is that?!?

The last really cool bit of news is that I entered my Butterick 6019 bombshell dress into Gertie’s Grand Giveaway and I was selected as a finalist! Now I have to mail my dress off to NYC to be inspected by the judges — yikes! There is only a 20% chance I will win, but if I do, what will I do with 17 bolts of fabric??? We will have a big giveaway here on the blog! Cross your fingers, say your prayers, and send good thoughts my way!

Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank | Jungle January

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Hi, friends! I hope this post finds you well. It’s been a little more than a season since I last checked in but I hope you have had other blogs in your reader to keep you entertained. We have had a very busy few months with vacation, selling our home, moving, birth of a niece, the holidays, hospitalizations of grandparents (everyone is doing great now), husband working out of town, all that on top of the usual cold and flu season which is always hectic for a pediatrician.

But life is good and we are excited about all the changes happening. Selling our old house means we get to build a new one. We are living temporarily in a small condo but we are in the heart of our downtown so we are enjoying being close to everything and walking distance to my favorite coffee shop and BBQ joint. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of room for sewing so I have not stitched anything since before the move (pre-Thanksgiving). I am looking at purchasing a Gidget table and setting it up in my bedroom and adapting my sewing habits to be more streamlined and uncluttered.

I have also been reevaluating my wardrobe as I had gotten into a bit of a funk with dressing everyday. Since I had started sewing, I had stopped purchasing as many clothes as I used to thinking I would sew the perfect garment and that perfect garment just never materialized. Sure, I have sewn some things that I really love and am very proud of, but I have not made many daily basics that work well for my usual routines. Plus many of my clothes weren’t fitting right any more because I have been working out. So in my sewing-restricted state, I decided to do a little shopping for myself. First, I visited my favorite online spots, Nordstrom and Anthropologie, and quickly had some packages sent my way. As is usual, many things had to be returned but I ended up with some new colored skinny cords and jeans and a few basic tops and one pretty dress. Nothing that really sang to me, though.

Then, I remembered a friend telling me about Stitch Fix and I started browsing the web for more info and for similar services. Basically, they are services that take your info on size and style likes and dislikes then send you a box of garments and accessories to try on at home. You decide what to keep and what to send back. During the course of my searching, I found two other companies to be viable contenders, although different in some respects. So I signed up for a box from all three to try it out. Worst case scenario, I would only be out $20.

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All that said, today I am here to actually tell you about something I sewed (of course back when my sewing machine was still plugged in, pre Turkey Day). I will tell you in upcoming posts about my experiences with the online styling services. This top is my first-ever contribution to Jungle January. I have never been a big animal print fan but this stretch silk charmeuse was cheap at Fabric Mart and I thought it would be perfect for muslining a basic silk shell. And it was.

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Enter the Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank. The is a perfect canvas for so many things. I was looking for a simple top that could be worn with a skirt or pants and blazer/cardi for work or paired with jeans and a necklace for a more casual look. I also wanted a pattern that would be a good base for embellishment. I started with a straight size medium and only adjusted the pattern by raising the armholes 1/2″. I knew that ultimately I would probably want to do a bust adjustment and add a side dart for a better fit but I wanted to see what the fit was like straight out of the envelope.

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This fit was not too bad. There is a little bit of dragging under the bust in the front, but this top is definitely wearable and with the silk having a little lycra in it, it helps. In my next version, I added a 3/4″ FBA and the drag was eliminated and the tank hung evenly front and back.

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So friends, to wrap this wordy, overly gushy post up, I hope I will not be such a stranger now that things are starting to settle back down in our life. I hope that you will indulge me if I talk a little bit about ready to wear fashion and a little less about sewing and cooking while we are living in a tiny two-story box. I may even talk a little about home planning and interior design as we get further into that project.

I would love to hear in the comments how your year is starting off and if you have advice on setting up in a tiny sewing space. Have a great weekend!

Bodice Modifications for Butterick 6019

27 Jul

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Hi, friends! I am here today with a quick “tutorial” post to address a question that came up about the fitting of my Butterick 6019 bombshell dress. During the muslin-making process, I realized that the bust cups of the dress were all wrong for me. The top of the dress was too low for comfortable decency and the cup seams created an awkward pointy shape over my bust (think bullet bra to the extreme). I also discovered that the under bust seam didn’t hit under my bust and the bodice was overall too long for my figure.

I will warn you in advance, I am going to share some less than attractive photos of myself in this post. But it’s all for the sake of science, right?

I started by pinching out the excess from bodice fabric in the front and back. This helped bring the under bust seam into the correct position. I then pinched and pinned out a little excess in the side seams.

 

 

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Once that had been taken care of, I pinned out the excess in the vertical and horizontal bust cup seams, creating a much more natural shape in this area. Then I checked the location of the horizontal bust cup seams and felt it was too low across my body and raised it across both lower cup pattern pieces (hence the reason it doesn’t look like I took any out in these areas). Hopefully you can see in the photos that the overall effect of these adjustments was to decrease the severity of the curve across the bust. At this point I made new muslin and tweaked all of the previous adjustments by a few more minor amounts.

 

 

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You can hopefully see in this photo how my final pattern pieces in white paper compare to the original pattern pieces.

 

Once all these adjustments had been made, I assessed the location of the top of the bodice all the way around and realized I wanted roughly 1/2″ added in the front and 1″ in the back. I added these amounts to my already modified pattern pieces and tapered the 1/2″ in front around to the 1″ in back.

 

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Since this layer wouldn’t show in the final dress, I sewed it with leftover bobbins in random colors.

 

I made my final muslin just to check the fit once more but to also use as the interlining if all my adjustments had been successful.

 

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You can see I added a lot more boning than suggested in the pattern.

 

During the earlier muslins, I duct taped cheap boning from Hancock Fabrics into place for fitting but on the final version, I went ahead and sewed my boning channels and added the spiral steel boning. Next time, I think I will lengthen this layer to my high hip (like a corselet) for added wearing comfort. As it is now, the boning ends right at my narrowest point, somewhat cutting into my body when I sit, and also making the skirt portion just below the waist seam blouse out a little bit.

 

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Here’s the finished dress just waiting on a hem. Please pardon the unattractive setting and the cute socks :)

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