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Sewaholic Gabriola Skirt in Silk Cotton Voile

15 Apr

 

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Howdy, friends! I hope you have had a good Tax Day (ha!). I have another finished sewing project for you today — the newly released Sewaholic Gabriola skirt.

 

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Let me start off by saying how much I love my finished skirt. It is flowy and feminine and manages to be elegant and casual at the same time. The first chance I had to wear it was this past weekend when we took a mini vacation to New Orleans. I wore the skirt while strolling through the French Quarter and then eating the best brunch ever at Restaurant R’evolution – beer battered crab beignets, ’nuff said. Then we headed to the Audubon Zoo and I swished about in my fine skirt among all the animals. I am pretty sure I overheard some of the zebras singing its praises.

 

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I love the seam lines of this skirt — I wish Tasia had released this pattern a few months earlier as it is very similar to the self-drafted one I made in August for the Grand Summer Ball (that skirt has since been sacrificed to make other projects). Of course, I like her version better.

 

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My fabric is the delightful “Georgia” silk-cotton voile from Sawyer Brook Fabrics. It has a smooth hand and a great drape for a project like this. It is a bit sheer so I lined it with white Ambiance Bemberg, also from Sawyer Brook. Because both my shell and lining fabrics were only 43″ wide, I had to have 5 yards of each, meaning this was not the most economical project ever. But I know I will wear this skirt a lot this spring and summer. In fact, I am thinking about wearing it as part of my Easter outfit this Sunday.

 

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Now let’s talk construction — this was not the easiest make ever. Because many of the seams are cut on the bias, you have to be very careful to stabilize those edges before handling the pieces too much. I wish for the sake of beginning seamstresses that the pattern instructions called for this. I used extremely fine fusible woven stay tape from Emma Seabrooke on all my bias seams.

I also wish she had outlined other possible seam finishes for various fabrics. I used French seams for the shell and stitched and serged seams for the lining. The French seam caused a small hiccup at the point in the front but it was pretty easy to make work.

 

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I substituted the curved waistband from the Megan Nielsen Tania culotte pattern as several reviewers noted that the included straight waistband tended to gape. I also replaced the prescribed regular centered zip with an invisible one and I attached the lining to the zip by machine.

 

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For hemming, a very sweet local seamstress (who does alterations in her home), marked by hem for me and I stitched it up using 1/4″ Steam-A-Seam for a clean and even finish. I used the rolled hem on my serger to hem the lining about 1″ shorter than the shell.

Overall, I love my new skirt but beginning seamstresses should proceed with caution before cutting this pattern out.

Thanks for reading along and have a happy Easter!

 

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A Little Housekeeping…

19 Mar

Happy Wednesday, friends! I hope your week is going well. I am writing this post to cover a few loose ends that are dangling around. First, I have entered my recent Elisalex dress in the Pattern Review New to Me Pattern Company contest. If you are a Pattern Review member, I would love to have your vote — go here.

My next piece of news is that I hosted a sewing workshop at my house today for girls in my stepson’s school. We sewed poodle skirts for their upcoming sock hop! It was lots of fun but unfortunately I don’t have any pics yet. I will try to get some Friday at the event.

This was my first time to really “teach” someone about sewing and I enjoyed it immensely. One of the young ladies had never touched a needle or thread before and the other two were beginners. I am pleased to say, after only 2.5 hrs, each girl left with a completed skirt waiting only for a hand stitched appliqué. We made self-drafted circle skirts and inserted a simple zip and one piece waistband. Since we made the skirts from felt, they didn’t require a hem. Yay!

I prepared a few treats for the girls to sustain them during our sewing — my mother’s lemon bars and some Ghirardelli brownies (don’t tell, but I like those better than scratch made!).

Per my husband’s recommendation, I put out some of my hand sewn-garments for the girls to look at for inspiration — I would love to inspire the next great seamstress! As I was pulling things from my closet, I was shocked by how many completed garments I have that I consider wearable. Come on Me Made May 2014!!!

Here’s a photo for you of some of the clothes I put out on display.

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Other pair of curtains are waiting on their hem (for the past 18 months, lol!).

And here are a few pictures of my sewing room. I don’t think I’ve ever shown it to you so I figured I should take pictures while it was clean for this special occasion. As soon as the creativity strikes back up, it will be messy again!

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Finally, if you are a Pattern Review member, I would love to have your vote in the New to Me Pattern Company contest where I entered my Elisalex dress. You can vote here. Thanks and have a great rest of the week!

Elisalex and The Leggy Roses

10 Mar

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Hi, friends! Ready to see another finished garment? This is one of my favorites so far. The fit is great and I am proud of my construction techniques. I am also entering it in the PatternReview New To Me Pattern Company contest and the Sew Dolly Clackett contest.

I think my version looks very similar to this one on the BHL website.

I think my version looks very similar to this one on the BHL website.

First let’s talk about the pattern — Elisalex dress from By Hand London. This is my first time using a pattern from this company and I was pleased with the experience. I recently got over my worry that the Elisalex dress would make my hips look even more gigantuan. There are a ton of great versions and hacks of this dress around the internet. Dolly Clackett has made 15 versions as of this writing (as best I can tell)! Seeing the dress on women with shapes similar to mine made me feel better about trying the pattern.

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When I got the urge to make a dress a few weeks ago, I started browsing patterns and fabric. I selected a few potential patterns then found the fabric, and knew it would be a perfect match for the Elisalex dress. The fabric is a Thakoon silk/poly blend brocade with a crisp drape. I purchased it as a roll end from EmmaOneSock, which I think has to be my favorite fabric store of all because of the unique and high quality selection she offers as well as her wonderful customer service. The black background is scattered with what appears to be roses on first glance. However, upon closer inspection, you will notice that all the roses have female legs!

For the lining, I chose a hot pink silk charmeuse from my stash. I used a walking foot for the lining construction and this was a lifesaver!

Garnished with a beautiful matching azalea bloom.

Garnished with a beautiful matching azalea bloom.

I had right at 1.375 yards of this 55″ wide fabric and was temporarily disheartened when I saw the Elisalex called for 2.5 yards for the sleeveless version of the dress. After reading lots of reviews and blog posts about the dress, though, I decided I could probably squeeze this dress out with some modifications.

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My major modifications were to shorten the skirt by 10″ and to take in the hip seams by 2 sizes, tapering back to my size at the waist. As a result, I was able to get my dress cut out of my length of fabric. Yay!

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Alright, so for all the alterations I made to get this great fit:

1. There is a helpful sew along for this dress on the By Hand London website. They recommend choosing your size based on your waist measurement then adjusting the bust to fit, if needed. I made a 3/4″ full bust adjustment to the US10. In the final version, I had to let out the side seams 1/4″ each and add 1/2″ to the front bodice length, so I think next time I will make a 1″ FBA and then compare the length to my current pattern. I will also lower the bust point a little next time.

2. I moved the shoulder seams forward by 1/2″ at the armscye and 1/4″ at the neckline.

3. I took a 1/2″ wedge out of the back neckline to prevent gaping. This seems to be a common alteration for most people who make the dress.

Now let’s talk about construction modifications:

1. I drafted a neckline facing because I like the way it looks and it prevents lining from peeking out at the neckline. I finished the edge of the facing with my serger (and hot pink thread), then I edgestitched it on top of my bodice lining pieces and then treated them as one for the rest of construction. Next time I will make an all-in-one facing to include the armholes and I may consider finishing the edge of the facing with bias binding.

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2. I made a full lining instead of only lining the bodice. I cut the lining skirt a little shorter than the shell skirt and cut it a little more slender at the hips as well. After attaching the bodice lining to the bodice shell, I attached the lining skirt to the bodice lining.

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Look at the matching of the waistline across the zipper and the pleats at the princess seams!

3. I used a tutorial in the recent Threads magazine (#171) to install the zipper — a lapped zipper completely done by machine in a dress with a full lining! This is an awesome technique and I am so glad I found it. I strayed from the directions only in that I hand picked the overlap because I like to give my fancier garments a small element of handwork. And handpicking always works better for me since I can really get the waist seam lined up straight.

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4. I hand stitched a nice blind hem on the shell fabric. If you are making this pattern, add a small allowance at the side seams for the hem. On such a tapered skirt, the turned up portion of fabric is smaller than what you are stitching to so adding a little ease in the hem at the side seams fixes this and prevents puckering.

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So those are the gory details about my latest project. It was definitely a satisfying make and one I think I will cherish for quite a while.

Like I mentioned before, I have entered this dress into two different contests. If you are a Pattern Review member and would like to vote in that contest, your chance starts on 3/18 and ends on 3/24. As for the Dolly Clackett contest, I think my dress suits Roisin because it is one of her favorite patterns and the fabric is very quirky, like one she would choose.  I also paired the dress with some fun shoes — hot pink heels — another trademark of the aforementioned lady.

Mr. Homemaker prefers the other side of the camera lens :)-

Mr. Homemaker prefers the other side of the camera lens :)-

And just a note on the scenes in my dress photos. All these were taken by my sweet husband at our local bay front park. This is one of my favorite times of year because everything is starting to bloom and the azaleas are coming out. Thanks for reading!

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Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes — Take 1

3 Mar

Hi, friends! Today I am showing you more of my “resort collection” that I created for my recent cruise vacation (you can see the first installment here).

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When I first saw the Tania culotte pattern from Megan Nielsen, I wasn’t sold on it. I guess I have too many scary memories of culottes from the 80s.

But as more and more versions popped up across the interwebs, the ingenious design started to grow on me and I gave in. For those of you not familiar with this pattern, it appears to be a cute circle skirt but it has pleats in the front and back that disguise the shorts aspect of the garment. Really cool if you ask me!

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I decided to make my first version up without any alterations. I just chose my size based on my waist, and cut it out and stitched it up. This first version is definitely wearable but is a little short in the crotch. In subsequent versions, I have added a little length to the back crotch.

You will notice from the pattern cover that these culottes run short. On this version, I cut the medium for everything except I cut the XL for the length. Even with the extra 1″ or so, they are still really short and a good gust of wind will have you inadvertently revealing your bloomers.

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For my fabric, I chose a cheap ($1.99/yd) poly crepe with great drape. I picked this up from a recent FabricMart sale and it was perfect for this application.

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For construction, I followed the instructions for the most part. I sewed down the waist facing by topstitching from the right side. I installed an invisible zipper and attached the waistband facing to the zipper by machine.

For the hem, I let the culottes hang for a few days then my husband helped me level it up with his laser level (thanks, honey!). The rolled hem function on my serger made quick work of what would have otherwise been a very tedious job — these things have miles of hem!

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These shorts are definitely lots of fun to wear on non-windy days. I already have one other finished pair and another almost done on my sewing table. Stay tuned!

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McCall’s 6559 Again — Poster City

2 Mar

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Hello, again! Are you shocked by my three posts in as many days? Can I just tell you what a backlog of things I have to share — both food and sewing related. But I digress…

This dress is the first installment in my “resort collection,” or the things I sewed up to go on a cruise at the beginning of February (a total of 5 things).

You have seen me in this pattern before but in the maxi length version.

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I made only minor adjustments to this version beyond what I made in the last one — only widened the back armhole to normal instead of racer-style, raised the neckline 1″, and took another 1/2″ out for a swayback adjustment and added it back in over my derriere to keep the hem level. I also trimmed the seam allowances down to 1/4″ to make it easier to serge.

The fabric is an awesome rayon/lycra 4-way knit that I got from Emma One Sock a little while back — called “Poster City.” And this is your lucky day! She still has some in stock!!

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I constructed the entire thing on my serger, using a 4-thread overlock for the seams and my coverstitch function for the bands and hem. I used the elastic foot to insert elastic into the neckline for stability. This could also be used for the shoulder seam if sleeves were included.

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I don’t guess there’s much else to say about this one other than it won’t be my last!

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Flirty Skirt — McCall’s 6706

1 Mar

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Hi, friends! I am finally sharing a completed sewing project with you. It feels like it has been ages!! Want to know the best part? It’s been about 6 months since I made this but since I wore it to work recently, I decided to snap some pictures and share it with you.

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Be warned, though, this photo shoot took place after 10 hours at work and seeing 40+ patients. You will see wrinkles, stringy hair, and a tired face. And since I conducted this photo shoot with the timer on my camera, my head or feet may be missing in some photos :)

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This skirt is made from McCall’s 6706, a great little pattern for a quick and satisfying project. I have not become a huge fan of the hi-low hems yet, but I thought this skirt made in some free fabric would be a great way to test it out. The fabric was a remnant given to me when I went fabric shopping in NYC. It came from Elliot Berman and I am guessing it is rayon challis. It was easy to sew and has a light, floaty feel.

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As for the pattern, it was very easy to sew up and required minimal fitting. All you have to do is select your size based off the finished waist measurement printed on the tissue. I looked for the size that was closest to my waist +1″ of ease. Since it is so full in the hips, adjustments there will likely not be necessary.

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I installed an invisible zipper and finished the waistband facing by stitching in the ditch from the right side. The hem is a narrow 1/4″ machine hem using this tutorial. No hand stitching on this baby!

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My only regret is that I should have used a sturdier interfacing in the waistband.

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And that I don’t look good from behind in this hi-low hem skirt :(

Oh well. Live and learn!

2013 in Review

1 Jan

Now that 2013 is officially over, I thought I would take a minute to reflect on what the past year has held.  The year started out with lots of excitement when I traveled across the country by myself to attend a 3 day sewing workshop with Gretchen Hirsch and Heather Ross. While there I made quite a few friends, in particular Lauren, who started her own blog not long after the sewing weekend. She and I worked on the same pattern so we were able to give fitting assistance to one another. I also got to visit the brick and mortar Hart’s Fabric, which has become one of my favorite places for fabric shopping.

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My next trip took me to Washington DC for work-related business but I managed to squeeze in a little time to shop at G Street Fabrics.

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I participated in Me Made May for the first time and surpassed my expectations by not repeating any items for over 2/3 of the month.

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I attended a local sewing workshop with Sandra Betzina and made her pattern Vogue 1291. I also got to enjoy a lovely dinner party at a friend’s home with Sandra.

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I participated in the Spring Sewing Swap hosted by Kestrel. I was paired up with Shelly of Shelly’s DIY Style and got some great goodies all the way from Australia.

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I reviewed a pattern for one of my favorite indie designers — In House Patterns — and ended up with a gorgeous, breezy Blossom top. I currently have my next pattern to review cut out. Will be making a muslin soon.

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I participated in a garment sewing competition on the Hart’s Fabric website and thanks to all my wonderful readers, I won a $50 Hart’s gift certificate!

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In August I made an evening ensemble to wear to our hospital’s charity gala. I ventured into couture sewing with a lace bustier with spiral steel boning and self-drafted a silk charmeuse skirt.

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The last major sewing of the year involved creating dresses for my nieces to wear in my sister’s wedding — sewing for little girls is so much easier!

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I did squeeze in a quick sewing project right before Christmas — 10 infinity scarfs from my stash fabric to give as gifts to all the girls in my family. I used this tutorial but didn’t snag any pictures of my finished products before giving them away. Maybe one of the recipients will send me a picture so I can post it…

Top 5 Recipes

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Decadent Hot Cocoa Mix

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Caesar Salad

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Bourbon and Rosemary Roasted Chicken

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Cuba Libre, Reinvented

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Goat Cheese Spinach Dip (most searched post of 2013)

Top 5 Sewing Projects

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Knit Maxi – McCall’s 6559

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Bustier Top  Simplicity 1664

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Lace Bustier – Vogue 8849

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Date Night Dress – New Look 6457

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Belle Bow Blouse – In House Patterns

Top 5 Things I Learned

New binding for knit necklines

Underlining to create neat seam finish on vertical seams

Using spiral steel boning

Handpicking zippers

How to draft a skirt pattern

5 Goals for 2014

Post my backlog of completed sewing projects

Learn how to match patterns on fabric when creating a garment

Make some good basics for my wardrobe (knit tops, specifically)

Sew a jacket

Fess up that I have learned to knit in the last few weeks!!!

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Dulce Neck Cozy — free pattern on Ravelry

Violette Field Threads — Emmaline Dress

25 Nov

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Last month, my sister got married. Being the wonderful sister and loving aunt that I am, I volunteered to make the flower girl dresses for my two nieces. I must say, sewing for someone else was very enjoyable, especially when the someone is kid-sized. Fitting for a child is so much easier than fitting for a grown woman.

 

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Plus, who wouldn’t want to make something for those two cute girls? They were so excited about their “long” dresses.

 

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The pattern I used was the Emmaline dress by Violette Field Threads. I originally found the pattern via a food blog that I follow (funny, huh?). When I first saw it, I didn’t have a specific plan in mind, other than it would be really cute on Mary Catherine and Sarah. Then my sister announced her engagement and the plan was born.

 

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To make matters even more simple, Katie chose navy and pink as her colors and the cover photo for this dress is shown in a cute pink and white chevron, exactly the same fabric Katie wanted (Riley Blake pink chevron fabric here). To tie in the navy, I added a grosgrain ribbon sash to each dress.

 

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This pattern is very straightforward. The sizes are true and the instructions are very clear with color photo illustrations. My only gripe was with the bulk and weight of all three layers of ruffle. Sewing two rows of basting stitches really isn’t a good method for this much fabric so next time I will zigzag over a piece of floss to gather.

I also found the skirt of the dress to be pretty heavy, pulling down on the bodice and causing the hem to drag. To fix this (partially), I put an elastic stay around the waist by sewing a piece of elastic a little smaller than the waist measurement to the waist seam of the dress. The sash also helped to hold the dress up.

Otherwise, this dress is quick and easy to sew up and little girls love the glamorous long length!

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I French braided both of my niece’s hair and Katie’s hair stylist added baby’s breath to the braids. I also helped my sister with her party favors — three batches of homemade peach jam in cute 1/4 pint jars, all made in a 3 hour sprint in my kitchen.

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And because I have a beautiful sister, a few photos to finish off the post. Don’t you love that dress?!?

Red Wool Crepe Sewaholic Hollyburn | Red October

30 Oct

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Have you heard about the color-themed sewing going on among the Sewcialists? For October the color is red and I am squeaking in just under the deadline with my contribution.

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You may recognize this pattern as I have made it before — the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt. It is so quick and easy to sew and doesn’t really require any fitting changes if you pick the right waistband size. For me that was an 8 in the shortest length.

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Skirt: Made by me!
Top: Nordstrom — with the cutest red heels all over it!
Necklace: Tessyla on Etsy
Shoes: Cole Haan

For my fabric, I used a vibrant red wool crepe I have been stashing for a while. I had it steam pressed by the dry cleaners before sewing.

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Pretty close to perfect invisible zip.

To make this project a little more challenging, I used this technique to underline the skirt with silk organza and finish the vertical seams all at the same time. I also omitted the pockets as I wanted a more streamlined look.

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For the hem, I applied the red and white dot bias tape I picked up in Bath, England, last year then handstitched it to the silk organza underlining.

I am very pleased with this skirt. The underlining technique is a great one to have in your arsenal and I know I will get lots of use out of this wardrobe basic this fall/winter! Thanks for reading :)

Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee — with Sparkles!

23 Sep
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Me Made Kirsten Kimono Tee paired with reversible polka dot jeans from Nordstrom, hot pink patent Cole Haan heels, and Ray Bans.

 

Howdy, everyone! Here’s a quick and simple project for you — the Kirsten Kimono Tee from Maria Denmark. What’s even better than quick and simple? This pattern is a FREE download on Pattern Review Maria’s site just by signing up for her newsletter! It only involves taping together a few pages (and this one doesn’t require cutting — yay!) From start to finish, I spent maybe 3 hours on this project and that included assembling and cutting out the pattern.

I cut a base size M but graded out a bit at the bust and tapered it in a little at the waist. I added 1/4″ seam allowances as the pattern doesn’t include them. Next go around I may create a center back seam to address my swayback.

 

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For the fabric, I chose a white sequin knit from my local shop, Ely’s, and a basic white tee-shirt knit from Sawyer Brook for the back and neck binding. When I bought the sequin fabric, everyone seemed a little surprised that I planned to make a tee-shirt with it. But I think once they see my finished project, they may not think it was so strange after all. I purchased 3/4 of a yard at $29.95 a yard and only used about 1/3 to 1/2 of the fabric. So technically I could make another top.

 

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I used my serger for all parts of construction on this top. I finished the neckline according to this Megan Nielsen tutorial and sewed the neckline and hems with the coverstitch function on my 5-thread serger. This could have just as easily been made solely on a standard machine with a stretch or zigzag stitch and a double needle to finish the neck and hems. I will mention, though, that sewing over sequins does increase your chance of breaking a needle so use something that is sturdy but appropriate for knits and sew slowly or even drive the machine with the handwheel over parts that are two layers of sequined fabric.

Overall, I love my new top, even if it may be a tee-shirt that has to be dry cleaned! I have already worn this shirt out on the town (like in the photos), and to work tucked into navy slacks with a green cardigan and the pink shoes from these photos. If you have contemplated making a knit top, this would definitely be a great place to start as the sizing is true and the process couldn’t be simpler. And consider experimenting with unusual fabrics as this pattern’s simplicity lends itself to modifications. Happy sewing!

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